Friday, February 08, 2008

Tawdry Titusville, Kitschy Cocoa

Serendipity this week left us at The Great Outdoors - TGO as it is known by the inmates - near Titusville, Florida, where we continued our personal exposé of RV resort options. For those who remember the sixties English TV series named The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan, there are eerie parallels between TGO and The Village where No. 6 was incarcerated. Overall impression? The most suitable, thus far, for our ill-defined requirements.
While scouting around for the necessities of life - Walmart, grocery stores, malls and the like - we ran the gamut of the offerings of Titusville and Cocoa. An unexpected bonus of our visit to the area, was the launch of the shuttle taking goodies to the international space station.

Titusville, population 40,000, is typical small-town Florida, wide four lane main drag, sand and weeds decorating every piece of bare ground, slow cycling traffic lights and an overall air of hapless dilapidation. Renamed from Sand Point in 1873 for Colonel Henry T. Titus, a confederate with an exceptionally questionable past, who had married money from Georgia, and who made the town his own. Titus laid out roads on land owned by his wife and, in 1870, erected The Titus House, a large 1-story hotel next to a saloon. He donated land for 4 churches and a courthouse, the latter in a successful effort to get the town designated as county seat. St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church, built in 1887 and added to National Register of Historic Places in 1972, is one of just a handful of items of historical interest in the area. Not much to look at, St. Gabriel's is kept securely locked.
A dozen miles south of Titusville is the town of Cocoa. Named either after the native Coco Plum tree or the label on a box of Baker's Cocoa - nobody seems to know for sure - Cocoa, along with Titusville, enjoyed rapid growth in the nineteen fifties and beyond when Cape Canaveral was selected for the US Space program. Although Cocoa is currently home to about 16,000 people it suffered, along with Titusville, from high unemployment and unsaleable homes as the space program wound down. A local initiative is Cocoa Village and the Diamond Square Development aimed at improving downtown property values. The outcome remains unclear except for a rash of kitschy stores along a short stretch of Brevard Avenue. If you have a few hours to spare, you could spend one of them here if you don't hurry.

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