Anna Maria Island, November 6, 1986

How the Crackers earned their name

By Gib Bergquist

   One reader has graciously inquired as to why this column is so named.

   Since I was born and reared in neighboring Polk County, I am a true “Florida Cracker,” a title which legend tells us is derived from our pioneer-father wagon drivers who cracked their long braided cowhide whips over the heads of their horse, mule, and oxen teams.
   I heard this sound as a boy, as Florida cowboys herded open-range cattle through our village.

   It is similar to the crack of rifle fire and is a real attention getter. Natives of Georgia are also called “Crackers” for the same reason.
   The intent of “Cracker Crumbs” is to share some “Cracker” living with you — a crumb of Florida history, a crumb of nostalgia, a crumb of humor, a crumb of “Cracker” foods, a crumb of common sense, and if a crumb of wisdom should happen to appear, so be it. Anita Ecklund, the wife of our editor, named the column.
   Cracker crumbs are not too nice in bed but are great on veal cutlets and fried oysters and are universally loved by ants. I hope you like them too!
   My great grandfather was a full-time cotton farmer and part-time Baptist preacher who kept a running account of his sermon thoughts and farming procedures in pocket-size notebooks. In between a detailed account of how to delouse the hen house and the latest Memphis cotton prices was this little gem — “Brother Howard says that when a hawg is in trouble, he always looks up. Perhaps man should do the same!”

From Cracker's Crumbs, 1995 Gib Bergquist

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