Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By Vic Clevenger
FCE Staff 

Flip the Switch


Last updated 4/4/2017 at 5:28am | View PDF

My line of work has taken me all over the country which is one of the coolest parts of what I do. I’ve dined at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle and had an ice cream cone as I toured the Boldt Castle on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. If you ever have the chance, get an oyster po’boy with your crawfish platter in the French Quarter or have a slice of the best Key Lime Pie you’ve ever had in Key West. Don’t pass up an opportunity to get a panoramic view of St. Louis by going to the top of the Arch or get a taste of our history moving west in the museum below the Gateway. Oh, and you haven’t lived until you’ve taken a ghost tour through Charleston or walked along the river in Savannah.

However, one of my favorite towns in all my travels is none other than the oldest city in America, St. Augustine, FL. This town is much more than a haven for the saltiest of pirates and the Fountain of Youth, it’s a town spilling over with a colorful history. Part of this history includes the Standard Oil tycoon, Henry Flagler and his exclusive Ponce de Leon hotel. This hotel hosted a who’s who of his day including such noted personalities as Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and Babe Ruth. The dining hall alone is worth the tour just to see the stained glass windows which were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (yes, that Tiffany) which are valued in the millions.

Having heard story after story about this once exquisite hotel now known as Flagler College, the one which makes me laugh every time is about light switches. Allow me to set this up for you. The Ponce de Leon sat on the forefront of luxury by providing electricity in each of the guest rooms. I know, that by itself makes one laugh because we expect this even in the seediest of accommodations. But this was different for them. First of all, this hotel was wired for lights by none other than Thomas Edison himself. Secondly, each room had a light switch enabling the guests to do away with the oil lamp and just turn a knob to illuminate their residence for the next three months.

There was one problem with this however, the guests were afraid of this new luxurious innovation. They were so frightened that Mr. Flagler was forced to hire locals whose only job was to turn on the lights for the guests. Can you believe this, afraid to turn on a light? Even trying to type this I am laughing because this must’ve been a sight to see. Can you even imagine being afraid of something new? Something so innovative?

I am sure you are still laughing as well thinking, “Those people were afraid to turn on a light?! Bwahahaha” As tears of laughter stream down my face, I wonder what new innovation or idea am I’m afraid to try only to have my great-great grandkids laugh at me for being such a scaredy-cat. So, the next time you are faced with something new or frightful, just remember this story and flip the switch.

Vic Clevenger

The Cookin' Comedian


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