Like My Father Before Me

I am a tradesman, like my father before me and like his father before him. Specifically, I am an aircraft mechanic. Sure, my father may have been an electrician and his father was a watchsmith, but we are all tradesmen. Also, in the same capacity, we all have served in some form of public service. I, myself, am an Army veteran. My father was a firefighter and a paramedic. My grandfather was also an Army veteran. We are our fathers as they say.

I like to believe one day when I have my own children they will follow a similar path. It is in doing so that I will know I did a good job as a father and can take pride that I raised my sons to follow in the footsteps, of not only myself, but the men that came before me. Will this end up being the case? Only time will tell.

When we talk about Southern Identity and Southern culture, I’m sure most of us can look back and see that we follow a general path held by our forefathers. With this comes heritage, pride, and a contribution to our Southern society, which helps to weave that fabric of unique Southern Identity. To maintain this across the entirety of Dixie, this and many traditions we hold dear must continue.

It is when individuals stray from this path that things start to get…messy.

With each passing year and each passing decade, more of our home gets swallowed up, torn down or erased from history. This is not just in part to the propaganda peddled in schools and from once fine Southern institutions, but also from other social influencers which serve to further accelerate this destructive process. The destruction and subsequent reconstruction of the South continues to this day. It did not stop after the reconstruction period post-Civil War, like some may believe. Open your eyes and look around. You will see it only if you want to admit this is actually occurring. I understand for some this is difficult, as it’s easier to bury one’s head in the sand rather than admit there is a problem.

There were plenty of treasonous lines of Southerners that did exist (and still do) and even profited greatly after the War of Northern Aggression. This still continues to this day.

One such instance is the Epperson Ranch. But first, I have to give you some background and detail on it to help you understand the point this article is making.

The Epperson Ranch was, before this decade, one of the largest ranches to exist in Florida. This ranch was absolutely massive – slightly over 1,500 acres to be precise. It was the staple of our area and a drive down the back roads to get into town had you driving around this huge ranch. The ranch had large cattle grazing pastures, forests and orange groves. As a matter of fact, the house where old man Epperson lived had an orange grove right in front of it leading back to his family’s house.

Epperson Ranch was a landmark that contributed directly to Southern Identity and, specifically, the identity of the area. You’ll notice that I reference Epperson Ranch in past tense. There is a reason for it. God rest his soul, old Epperson passed away years ago. As a result, his children got a hold of his estate, including the ranch. A ranch which took generations to build from their family that had settled in this part of Florida.

One would logically think that at least one of his kids would, like his father before him, continue the tradition and carry on the family legacy, as well as, the family business, but that’s not what happened.

None of his children wanted to carry on the ranch. Instead, they wanted to go their own way and became doctors or lawyers or whatever they chose to do. Not a single one had enough pride and discipline in them to carry on such a legacy and tradition. Nor do they clearly understand that their ranch, by merely existing, provided identity to the South and to this specific region.

So what did they decide to do with it? What most other kids who inherent ranches do these days, turn it into a massive suburb of course! All they saw were dollar signs in their eyes.

When we talk about traitors and turncoats we talk, not just of those who would pick up arms against Dixie, but those who do such gravely destructive acts as this. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones to do this. Many places which were once beautiful quiet cow grazing pasture have been turned into suburbs all over Florida by the hordes of Yankees.

The effort to destroy these lands in every way possible is not just one front. it is many and from all sides. With all this being said, it’s important to remind ourselves and our future generations that some of them need to follow in the footsteps of those who came before them – because it does matter.

So, if you have followed in the footsteps of your forefathers, hold your head high because just like Hank Williams Jr. sung about, you are carrying on the family tradition.

Take care and God bless.

– Otto


  1. Amen. We are currently talking of pursuing the centennial farm award here in the Ozarks. Through my wife’s family, they are eligible. In my home county, my sibling and I are 7th generation settlers and we still retain a portion of the family farm. I hope for my children to make it to the centennial mark as well. Great writing!

  2. All around me are thousands of acres of farm and woodland all privately owned by boomers. I’m worried about a similar scenario to Epperson Ranch.

    While greedy boomers who sell off to fund lavish retirements and kids who sell off because they don’t value the inheritance are problems, another big problem is taxes. What would the taxes be on a 1500 acre ranch in Florida? Would keeping it even be feasible? I don’t know, but I do know that if you want to pass any thing on you need to plan decades in advance and that costs money-estate planning ain’t cheap. It’s a bad situation, one that seems designed to break up generational wealth building.

    I do know a man my age (gen x) that lives on a portion of the farm his ancestors settled 200 years ago, most of the rest is also in his family. That’s pretty cool.

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