I heard a city staff member recently say, “Davenport needs an icon,” an icon like the mermaids in Norfolk, Virginia, or the swans of Orlando, Florida, so that we can have an image to sell; and while that’s a great idea, what would it be?
To find that icon one would have to look at our current resources. Are there people, places or things that identify us all as one community? Is anything left of our history?
The nonexistent train station? The now nonexistent water tower? The wreath of the decades-dilapidated and mostly defunct Holly Hill citrus factory? The acres of turpentine-producing slash pine?
How about the old school with the asbestos problem no one wants to fix? Or, the ever decreasing population of gopher tortoises or sandhill cranes?
What would it be? Would it be the old catchphrase, “Gateway to the Ridge,” which apparently refers to the myth that Davenport is located on the northernmost entrance to the Lake Wales Ridge?
That myth appears to have originated from the fact that Davenport residents in the early 20th century primarily travelled to Kissimmee for provisions. From that location, Davenport would’ve, could’ve, been considered a gateway. It appears that it’s most likely that the catchphrase referred to Davenport as being one of, what is now, many gateways.
Unfortunately for the catchphrase, though, the 100-mile-long Mid-Florida Ridge actually starts in Lake County, at Sugarloaf Mountain. It ends just south of Lake Wales.
Sure, though! Davenport needs an icon.
How about an image of a sofa? After all the word “davenport” originally meant sleeper sofa.
Or, seriously, how about an estimated depiction of the old, and also nonexistent, Fort Davenport, which is the namesake of our little Mayberry. Or, the image of City Hall, which is already part of the city seal. Or, maybe it’s time for the city to ask us residents, what do we think of when we think of “Davenport?” If it’s “Mayberry,” then maybe we should consider changing our name.