"I'd love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair" ~ Cabin in the Cotton, 1932.
I am not shocked to hear mermaids are making a long overdue comeback. What took so long? What does flabbergast me is that terrorists would be concerned about mermaids.
If I failed to take you to see the mermaids when you were a child, please forgive me. An oversight on my part, I am sure it will come up one day when you are in therapy.
About an hour north of Tampa is a one of a kind tourist trap; excuse me, tourist destination and one of Florida’s oldest and most unique roadside attractions. The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 170 million gallons of clear, fresh 72-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns. Deep in the spring, the surge of the current is so strong that it can knock a scuba diver’s mask off. The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide with limestone sides and there, where the mermaids swim, 16 to 20 feet below the surface, the current runs a strong five miles an hour.
In 1946, Newton Perry, a former U.S. Navy frogman who trained SEALS to swim underwater in World War II, scouted out Weeki Wachee as a good site for a new business. More alligators and black bears lived in the area than humans. The spring was full of old rusted refrigerators and abandoned cars. After clearing out the junk, 'Newt' experimented with underwater breathing hoses and invented a method of breathing underwater from a free-flowing air hose supplying oxygen from an air compressor, rather than from a tank strapped onto the back. With the air hose, humans could give the appearance of thriving twenty feet underwater with no breathing apparatus. Presto, Weeki Wachee was born.
An 18-seat theater was built into the limestone, submerged six feet below the surface of the spring, so viewers could look right into the natural beauty of the ancient spring. Newt scouted out pretty girls and trained them to swim with air hoses and smile at the same time. He taught them to drink Grapette, a non-carbonated beverage no longer made, eat bananas underwater and do aquatic ballets.
In those days, cars were few. When the 'mermaids' heard a car coming, they ran to the road in their bathing suits to beckon drivers into the parking lot, just like sirens of ancient lore lured sailors to their sides. Then they jumped into the spring to perform.
In the 1950s, Weeki Wachee was one of the nation’s most popular tourist stops. The attraction received worldwide acclaim. Movies were filmed at the spring, like “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.” (Mr. Peabody finds a mermaid while on a fishing trip, brings her home to live in his pond, much to the consternation of his long-suffering wife). Sights at the park included the mermaid shows, orchid gardens, jungle cruises, an Indian encampment and a new beach. The mermaids took etiquette and ballet lessons and all sorts of people stopped to see the mermaids, even Elvis.
Tragically, it appears Weeki Wachee mermaids are now in the terrorists’ cross hairs.
What? Yes, Weeki Wachee Springs is seeking federal funds after being named a top terrorism target, or a TTT, to those of you in the know. See the entire story here.