Traffic Jam On Memory Lane

Musings of a newly minted old-timer.

Roberto Gonzalez

I never thought I’d say this, but I think I’ve reached the status of Orlando old-timer.

The stories in this issue have convinced me of that, because as I edited them, the phrase, “Wow, I remember when…’’ kept running through my mind.

Let’s start with Camping World Stadium, which has hit the big time by hosting this year’s NFL Pro Bowl. In 1982, when it was the rickety Tangerine Bowl, I attended my first momentous event there—Rock Super Bowl XV, featuring Fleetwood Mac, John Cougar (he hadn’t added Mellencamp yet), Loverboy and John Waite. Tickets were just $15 and provided a peachy good time amid the drunken and stoned masses straining to hear anything more than a booming bass beat in sweltering heat. Yet, the Rock Super Bowls were a pretty big deal back then, with 20 of them staged at the T-Bowl between 1977 and 1988 and featuring the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Who.

Today, of course, “the campground’’ is still glowing from its 2014 renovation, with the 2018 Pro Bowl also lined up, plus the usual three year-end bowl games that draw so many visitors to Orlando. This month, writer Megan Padilla looks at how events at the stadium, the return of the NCAA basketball tourney to Amway Center, the debut of the new stadium for our Orlando City Soccer and Orlando Pride teams, and the opening of the United States Tennis Association’s National Campus are combining to provide Central Florida with an unforgettable year in sports. Add the games staged by the Magic, Solar Bears and UCF sports teams, and you have huge draws for residents and visitors alike.

The USTA complex provides me with another “remember when’’ moment. The center is in the massive Lake Nona community, an area I took no notice of in the early 1980s during regular visits to the in-laws, who lived along Narcoossee Road. Back then it was pretty much “the sticks.’’ I mean, who in the heck would want to develop out there? An editor I am. A real estate visionary I am not.

Elsewhere in this issue, Leesa Bainbridge gives an overview of the 75th anniversary celebration at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. (Yes, I remember when it was housed in a tiny space on Welbourne Avenue, off Park Avenue, and I remember having lunch with the incomparable founder, Hugh McKean, in the early 1990s.) And last, but certainly not least, there’s the cover story on the history and the rebuilding of our beloved Interstate 4, which writer Dan Tracy says continues to dominate our lives more than half a century after it opened in Orlando. Indeed, I have considered more than once putting I-4 at the top of our annual 50 Most Powerful list—but it’s hard to interview asphalt.

 Meanwhile, columnist Laura Anders Lee offers advice on how we can be kinder and gentler when dealing with our fellow motorists on I-4. And that brought to mind my most memorable experience on the highway. About 20 years ago when coming over a slight rise on a Sunday morning near Lake Ivanhoe, I encountered a car stopped dead in the middle lane, its hood firmly planted on its windshield. That’s right, the hood had dislodged and was stuck on the windshield. The driver sat there frozen with no idea what to do. After she ignored my honks—a suggestion to pull off the road—I decided I had to help somehow. So I turned on my flashers and slowed to a crawl coming up behind her, praying that the cars behind me weren’t going twice the speed limit when they hit that rise in the road. Luckily, they weren’t. They slowed. And they stopped. And with that awful trip down the center of memory lane, so will I.

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