Carl Wernicke

Carl Wernicke is a native of Pensacola. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1975 with a degree in journalism. After 33 years as a reporter and editor, he retired from the Pensacola News Journal in April 2012; he spent the last 15 years at the PNJ as editor of the editorial page. He joined the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in 2012 as Senior Writer and Communications Manager, and retired from IHMC in 2015.

His hobbies include reading, traveling, gardening, hiking, enjoying nature around his home in Downtown Pensacola, as well as watching baseball and college football, especially the Florida Gators and New York Yankees. His wife, Patti, retired as a senior vice president at Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union and is a Master Gardener. 

Carl is a regular contributor to WUWF. His commentaries focus on life in and around the Pensacola area and range in subject matter from birding to downtown redevelopment and from preserving our natural heritage to life in local neighborhoods.

IHMC

At a recent event, I discovered that the usher went to high school with one of my brothers. That led to a discussion about living in your hometown, and my career with the Pensacola News Journal also came up.

That led to a name I hadn’t heard in years: Leon Odell Griffith. The usher said he had spent years under the friendship and tutelage of Griffith, and still reveres his memory. It brought back memories for me as well.

IHMC

Those of us who grew up in Pensacola are accustomed to calling it a tourist town. That is, there are things intrinsic to this place that make people want to visit.

The beaches. The Naval Aviation Museum. Blackwater Forest. Deep sea fishing. Rivers and creeks perfect for canoeing. Pensacola Bay for sailing and fishing. The world’s longest fishing pier (or at least, it was). The lighthouse. Gulf Islands National Seashore. Increasingly, downtown Pensacola.

IHMC

In 2019 we have access to everything - it sure didn't used to be that way.

Our connections to the world come in many ways. In the dim past it was primarily print. Then came radio, television, and now the Internet and social media.  One advantage of the radio and early TV eras, at least before the 24/7 coverage of everything, was how it amplified, rather than replaced, our own imagination.  In my childhood, TV gave only glimpses of the sports heroes so many of us tried to emulate.

IHMC

During my years as a newspaper columnist I tried to avoid writing about restaurants or businesses I patronized. I never wanted any hint that I was using my position for personal gain.

But, over time, in trying to write about local people, events and neighborhoods, some places I frequented would be mentioned. And for me, local restaurants hold a special place in a community.

Carl Wernicke

IHMC

As a reader, one of my greatest delights is finding an article that deftly summarizes something I had been thinking. Better, if it takes your own idea to places you had not yet been to, yet immediately recognize.  Now, I am not speaking about politics. It is an unfortunate trend today that right, left or whatever we tend to gravitate to news sources that reflect our own thinking.

IHMC

Time is fleeting, madness takes its toll. Fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show will remember that lyric from the show’s iconic song, "The Time Warp."   

I raise this because dealing with time has become something of a madness in modern times. Hordes of people seem obsessed with saving it. A minute here, a minute there. It’s why you see people risk killing themselves and others to careen through a red light and save, what, three minutes on their way to work? 

IHMC

This past Saturday, a non-profit group I work with, Pensacola Open Streets, hosted its third annual Ciclovia in downtown Pensacola. Well, I said work … I wait until the actual work is done, and then write the press release. For an old journalist like me it’s a routine task, just don’t tell the rest of the group. Anyway, Ciclovia is designed to get people out of their cars and on downtown streets on foot, bicycle, skateboard, rollerblade, anything human powered.

IHMC

One blessing of living in Northwest Florida is that while we enjoy the change of seasons, we don’t suffer from real winter weather. Watching Midwesterners experience sub-zero temperatures and tree-top height snowfall makes that clear.

IHMC

For years in my Pensacola News Journal column, and here on WUWF, I’ve chronicled my efforts to clean up roadside litter. One unvarying factor was that no matter how often, or how much, litter I collected, it didn’t take long for there to be more.  It also didn’t take long to abandon my dream that cleaning up litter might inspire people to stop tossing it. 

It does not. 

IHMC

Travelers find value in different ways. It can come in seeing famous places you have always heard about, or just immersing yourself in another culture — seeing new faces, if you will. You can discover how people are alike, or how different we are.

I enjoy discovering something unexpected that leaves a lasting impression. Maybe I had never thought about it, or maybe I knew it intellectually without really understanding it.

IHMC

Several years ago I reviewed here a new book, “The Gulf, the Making of an American Sea,” by University of Florida professor Jack Davis. It provided a long neglected comprehensive history of the Gulf of Mexico, the sea that dominates the history of Pensacola.

Last year, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history. And earlier this month, Davis came to Pensacola to talk about the book at the WSRE Public Square Speakers Series at Pensacola State College. I was happy to see a jammed auditorium.

IHMC

We human beings are suckers for new things, which is why there is a cottage industry devoted to putting the word “new” on old products, usually in bright red stickers with ragged edges and an exclamation mark or two. But the start of a new year really is something new, not just a mark on an artificial calendar. The earth itself is headed toward the rebirth of spring, at least on our side of the equator. I’d be writing this six months from now in, say, Peru, but try to forget that. It really doesn’t apply here, and I’m sorry I brought it up.

IHMC

I’ve talked before about the value of reading obituaries, still very much the province of newspapers, either in print or online. As John Maynard Keynes famously noted, in the long run we are all dead. So rich or poor, famous or obscure, good or bad, the obit is our shared legacy.

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