Hello, Tampans! I’m Josh McMorrow-Hernandez, A.K.A. “That Tampa Guy,” and I’m here to share my perspective on the city I love, the “other” City by the Bay — Tampa, Florida. Oh, the title for this first blog post, “Sticks are Now Firing”? If you don’t catch the meaning, that’s OK. I’ll talk more about that historical Tampa pun in a minute. But first, let me tell you more about who I am and why I’m writing this blog.
I was born on May 2, 1981 at Women’s Humana Hospital on Buffalo Avenue, a street that was renamed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd eight years later. My dad has been an employee at Busch Gardens since 1979; my maternal grandfather was an audio engineer at WTVT-13 from 1955 through 1980, and he and my grandmother ran Colonial Beach on Egypt Lake during the 1950s; my paternal great grandparents were in the Ybor City cigar industry. Suffice it to say, Tampa courses through my blood.
I grew up with a love for my city and a penchant for putting pen to paper. So it was a surprise to nobody who knew me well when I was growing up that I’d eventually write a book about Carrollwood, the popular Tampa suburb on the fringe of which I had grown up. Writing Images of America: Tampa’s Carrollwood for Arcadia Publishing afforded me the great honor to meet Lois Abbott Yost, a longtime historian and several members of the Bearss family, a name that is familiar to most Tampa-area residents.
I’m now writing my second book, which will be a pictorial journey through the Tampa Bay area’s tourism industry from the second half of the 20th century. Images of Modern America: Tampa Bay Landmarks and Destinations should be on bookshelves in spring 2015 and will hopefully allow many people to relive some great memories of the Tampa of yesteryear.
As much as I study and enjoy Tampa history, I also love the Tampa of today, and you’ll see a lot of both in my posts to come. New restaurant in town? You’ll probably read about here. Big news story going down in Tampa? I may be talking about it. Like “Then-and-Now” photos? I’m sure to post them. My stance on the persistent Cuban Sandwich wars? I’m not going to assume the role of Sweden in that battle. And speaking of Sweden, I may even talk about the Tampa IKEA, the best Tampa restaurants for Swedish meatballs, and ABBA’s Tampa concert — should a reunion tour ever materialize, that is. In other words, this blog will be a “smorgasbord” of Tampa topics, and I hope you’ll keep coming back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and thousandths (P.S. – prepare thyself – I love puns; I hope you do, too).
So before I wrap up this inaugural post, what’s up with the title of my first That Tampa Guy blog post? OK, students, open up your history books to Page 2 of Tampa History 101 (not yet an actual book, but it should be). “Tampa” is a Calusa word that is believed to mean “sticks of fire,” which was either a reference to a major native camp site or pine trees that were set ablaze by lightning.
Apparently, we’ve always been the lightning capital of North America.