Riverside Drive and
Parsons Memorial Presbyterian Church

[Down Riverside Drive]

A sleepy road narrowly paved along the river, Riverside Drive winds slowly through oaks, pines, and palms. Past the oldest houses in the town... The Busby House, the first schoolhouse, The Izaak Walton Lodge, Mrs. Stewart's Palm house, the Knots' Glass House. This is the road that speaks of the old Florida, the old Levy county, where nothing was quite so important as working the river in the morning and coming home to lemonade on the front porch in the afternoon. The Gnats here can smell the fresh blood, and many a Yankee baby has been carried off by them, never to be heard from again. The nights on this road...so sultry, with a whisper of hot air stirring the fronds, and the end of the road lighting the sky with the brilliant hues of the self-serving master. Could this be Buenos Aires or Kingstown? No... here the silence reigns, broken only by those allowed to speak: the tree frogs, crickets, momma gators, and ear-bombing gallon-nipper skeeters.

[Parsons Memorial Presbyterian Church]

Of the many landmarks this road holds close, none may be as important as Parsons Memorial Presbyterian Church. There is perhaps no other church where a half-nekked boy of 12 can get off his boat on Sunday at 10:55 in the morning, and run the dozen barefoot yards into the sanctuary to ask his mother for money, and be welcomed and hugged by the minister. The church looks out over the river, and over the lives and souls of but a few people in the town... Its stained glass and field stone are quiet and quaint enough for the occasional tourist photograph, and the bell is a piece of history, having come from the old steam locomotive displayed on the highway up Bronson way. But it is the people and the gentle spirit of the church that is the key. That half-nekked boy came back years later to get hitched in this small, personal, loving place, knowing that forever life would be tied to the future and rooted in the warmth and closeness of the past.

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