Flashback to July 4, 1842: The day Charlie Smith was born, in West Africa. What’s so special about Charlie? Aside from his very eventful life, Charlie is believed to be “America’s Oldest Man,” as he lived until Oct. 5, 1979, before being buried right here in Polk County.
That means he presumably died at 137 years old, lived in two different centuries, witnessed 25+ US presidents come and go, and was around during the first moon landing, and when the dishwasher, the safety pin, the zipper, the car radio, the first computer, zip codes, and lava lamps were all invented.
But how exactly did Charlie end up in Bartow? At the age of 12, Charlie (then, named Mitchell Watkins) was taken from his home in Liberia + brought to the US, with the promise of seeing “fritter trees.” Later, he was sold into slavery to a rancher, named “Charlie Smith,” whose name he eventually took on as his own, after the farmer died. On Jan. 1, 1863, with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Charlie, in his 20s,became a free man.
Throughout Charlie’s long life, he was part of the Union Army, an expert gambler, a bounty hunter with the Jesse James Gang(where he chased Billy the Kid), a father and husband, and even part of the circus. When he reached the golden years of his time, he negotiated with nursing home staff to allow him to take his vitamins with a shot of rum, despite his health conditions.
And though Charlie’s age + story hasn’t ever been completely “confirmed,” researchers believe he lived to be at least, 100+ years old. After his death, Bartow residents chipped in to pay for a tombstone, which was engraved with the phrase “America’s Oldest Man.”
TryThis ○ Orange Dream. The homemade ice cream from Ridge Island Groves (6000 Polk City Rd.) is akin to an old school dreamsicle, and, according to the shop’s owners, people are already lining upfor this seasonal treat, as the grove is open from Oct-June. Bonus: Go on a tour + learn about FL’s place in the citrus industry. 🍊 (Bay News 9)
Number ○ DYK? It’s National School Lunch Week. In honor of the week, here’s a pretty startling statistic for you: 20,000 lbs. That’s how many pounds of carrots – the district’s most popular vegetable – that Polk County Public Schools (PCPS) serve each week. Some other stats: 17,000 breakfasts + 31,000 lunches are served each day by PCPS staff, which consists of approximately 1,000 School Nutrition employees. 🥕
ForKids ○Calling all little fish fiends. Submissions are now open for the State-of-the-Art Fish Contest. Kids grades K-12 can submit original artwork, depicting a fish from the o-fish-al fish list, for a chance to win both national honors + other prizes. March 31, 2021 is the contest deadline. 🎣
Ranked ○ 30. Florida’s ranking in WalletHub’s recent list of Most & Least Energy-Efficient States. Metrics used to find the rankings were based on both home + vehicle consumption, per capita. While FL ranked lower for home efficiency, it ranked much higher for vehicle energy efficiency. Utah ranked no. 1 + South Carolina ranked last.(WalletHub)
DYK ○ Just like fight club (whoops), there are a few rules when it comes to the moon – and even more have been recently added.NASA released its new guidelines, ahead of the Artemis moon program, which is touted to be the biggest coalition (with several countries participating) in history for human spaceflight. A few of these new rules include: historic sites must be preserved, space systems must be universal, and secrecy is banned. ICYMI, check out FL’s connection to “The Great Unknown” here. 🚀(Click Orlando)
Lakelander ○Meet Catapult member Avni Tilvawala, founder of One Good Knife. Using the Catapult Kitchen Incubator space, the chef creates gourmet spice blendsfor adding depth + dimension to each meal. Learn more about Avni + read her advice for fellow food entrepreneurs here. Ⓟ
Finance ○Understanding howand where you overspend is the first step toward figuring out how to save. MIDFLORIDA Credit Union breaks down 10 ways to cut down on overspendingand keep more money in your wallet. 💵 Ⓟ
While there’s no word yet on the opening date, Twenty Seven gave us a teaser, by offering up a menu of drinks.
From loose-leaf teas and matcha to coffee + a few kids drinks, here’s a glimpse of what you can expect:
• The Lakeland Fog: Earl Grey Tea, extra lavender + oat milk • Mint Chip Sundae: Chocolate mint tea, peppermint, oat milk + mocha shavings • La Vie En Rose: Floral tea with rose syrup and orange slices
#DYK that your photo could be featured in our newsletter? Just use #LALtoday on social media.
ForKids ○Moonlight Mischief with Maleficent| Thur., Oct. 15 | 5:30-7:30 p.m. | Enchanted Fairytale Hollow, 214 Trader’s Alley | $35 | RSVP your kids for this magical event with Maleficent, filled with crafts. 🧙♀️ ○Online Zumbini with CC| Thur., Oct. 15 | 6-6:45 p.m. | Virtual | $30 | Round up the kiddos and have them participate in this virtual zumbini class with music, rhythm, and music.
Listen ○Red-Headed Stepchild | Thur., Oct. 15 | 9 p.m.-1 a.m. | Leo’s Live Music & Billiards, 5263 S. Florida Ave. | Free | Jam out to one of Florida’s newest party bands. 🎶
Active ○Lakeland Run/Walk at Lake Hollingsworth | Thur., Oct. 15 | 7-10 p.m. | Lake Hollingsworth, 175 Lake Hollingsworth Dr. | Free, RSVP| Get outdoors and get active by joining a Phoenix volunteer and embarking on an evening run or walk fit for all skill levels. 🏃♀️
FeaturedEvent ○Lakeside Village Live | Thur., Oct. 15 | 6-9 p.m. | 1479 Town Center Dr. | Free | Enjoy a free weekly concert with family-friendly entertainment at the fountain every Thursday. October 15th features Cameron Moreau Music with variety guitar vocals from the 70’s through today. Ⓟ
Disclaimer: It is up to readers’ discretion to determine whether they feel comfortable participating in any mentioned events based on COVID-19 protocols and precautions. If you have questions, please contact the event’s organizers directly.