Escape to Dreamland: The Story of the Tamiami Trail is our 2008 film on the characters, culture and history we encountered on a trip along one of the loneliest stretches of highway east of the Mississippi. Originally produced for Miami PBS station WLRN, Escape to Dreamland has now aired nationwide more than 500 times. This one-hour trip on US Highway 41 takes you through the heart of the Everglades. You’ll meet the Giant & the Half-Girl, a skunk ape researcher, the king of the swampland salesmen and many more characters. Here’s a 30-second film trailer and some excerpts. Music by Deblois.
DAVE SHEALY, SKUNK APE RESEARCHER: Interview with Dave Shealy at the Skunk Ape Headquarters in the Everglades. Music courtesy of the Florida Folklife Collection.
BAREFOOT BOY & THE GIANTS CAMP: The great Florida journalist Jeff Klinkenberg describes the Tamiami Trail of his boyhood in the 1950s, and tells the story of The Giant & The Half-Girl, who married on the carnival circuit and retired in the 1930s to Gibsonton, “Gibtown” as locals call it, to live out their Florida dream. Music from the Florida Folklife Collection.
I’M A STRANGER HERE: Writer and journalist John Rothchild tells his story: How he and his family moved to Everglades City in the 1970s just as this remote town in southwest Florida was reaching back to its outlaw roots and embracing marijuana smuggling. Music by Owen Conforte and courtesy of the Florida Folklife Collection.