Equinox producers Bob Giguere and Bill Belleville have started work on a short film to celebrate a “Cracker” style cabin in the Ocala National Forest used extensively by renown Florida naturalist Archie Carr and his family. Videotaped oral history with some of the Carrs is helping provide valuable insight into the subject.
The cabin and 46 acres of land on Lake Nicotoon were donated to the U.S. Forest Service two years ago by Archie’s surviving brother, Dr. Tom Carr, an esteemed physicist. When Tom and Archie’s family first moved to Florida in the late 1930′s so their father could become the minister of a church in Umatilla, they built the little cabin in the “scrub” with the help of a local Cracker carpenter.
As a backwoods retreat, the cabin provided a full immersion experience in the new Florida landscape for family and distinguished friends like Thomas Barbour. When Archie, a lyrical and accomplished writer, sold his very first essay (“Hound Magic”) to Field & Stream, he used the proceeds to screen in the cabin porch. The story itself told of hunting in the nearby Forest. Archie’s dad also built small wooden boats for rowing and fishing out on the one-square mile lake.
Today, Archie and his wife Marjorie are fondly remembered for the courageous work they accomplished in Florida and throughout the Tropics, Archie with sea turtles and Marjorie with the Barge Canal. In this way, the cabin is more than a tin-roofed shack—it’s iconic in what it means to all of us who have been inspired by the work of the Carrs and their children today. In his books, Archie not only helps us understand “conservation biology”, he does so with a humor and grace that makes us eager to learn. Reading “Windward Road” or “A Naturalist in Florida” is like chatting with an old friend who is also a keen observer, a wise scientist, and a great Southern storyteller.
Thanks to Ray Willis, archaeologist with the U.S.F.S., for his tenacious caring in alerting us to the need to “save” the cabin, to the generous input from Tom, Chuck and Steve Carr, and to Equinox Board member David Strickland who offered to support the film. It is our great hope the film can be used to raise funding for restoration and interpretation to help the public appreciate both the vernacular wisdom and the abiding spirit of the place.