Growing Up Floridian is a personal memoir about me growing up in 1950’s and 1960’s Florida and learning life lessons in a rural Cracker-cowboy environment. The audience for this book could be natural history enthusiasts, baby boomers (particularly, those with a Florida connection), and readers of the memoir genre. The stories offer connections for people who grew up in a simpler time and would enjoy both an exploration of natural Florida and a working ranch. Individual chapters capture monuments when I tried to understand parental decisions, encounters with potentially deadly wildlife, and evocative moments that ensnared my youthful imagination. Responding to the accidental death of my brother, my parents’ divorce, and the turbulence of the 1960’s produce within me a desire  to understand life’s rhythms. When I made efforts to stay attuned to the natural world, conflicts seemed less debilitating. My text presents a look at Floridian wildlife from the perspective of a youngster learning about the cowboy way of handling the complexities life threw at me. The memoir ends in the my young adult years, and, with some encouragement from readers, I may try adding another volume.


Sh*t my mom read: Growing Up Floridian by Michael Taylor

Cathy Salustri

Short blurbs about books that you may want to read. None of them are too taxing — more easy, fun reads. Unless they aren’t. Don’t worry, my mom will let you know if they don’t meet her “fun reading” standards.

(Editor’s note: This book by a local author is self-published, which we don’t often review at CL. However, I know better to tell my mom no when she likes a book and wants people to know. —CS)

Taylor gives an interesting account of how he spent his early years (1950’s) in Indiantown, FL. Growing up he learned a lot about animals and nature and worked hard (whippings or slaps on his head taught him to do what he father wanted) with cattle, fences and all the stuff that goes with somewhat undeveloped Florida.

One sad bit: Taylor and his brother were playing with a gun and the brother died.

Another sad bit: His father ends up leaving with another woman and he and his mother moved to Pinellas Park to live with the grandmother.

Just want to read the bits about Tampa Bay? The parts about Pinellas County begin about page 240. He writes about how the Don CeSar was a VA office until 1967, then sat empty for a few years.

Overall: It was enjoyable to read and made you think about how hard a child under 10 had to work at his father’s insistence on their ranch.

Available online at Amazon or locally at the Gulfport Beach Bazaar or the Gulfport Historical Society

Comments and feedback welcomed! Please!