We started the tour with Bob telling us that Pensacola is the
oldest placed city in the United States, unlike St. Augustine which is the
city in the United States, but both were started
by the Spanish.
Pensacola is also the only city to fly under five flags, the Spanish,
French, Brittish, Confederate and American, since the bay was very
important strategically. Bob also stated that the waterfront has been
expanded outward by all the ships dumping their ballast overboard when being
But our tour started with the oldest house in the Historical District—a
simple box structure with a few windows owned by a freed slave woman in the
late 1700s/early 1800s.
Next up was a facinating demonstration of fire building. In Florida, most
of the cooking was done outside, it being way to hot to actually cook
indoors for most of the year. One of the employees, dressed in period,
demonstrated how they used to light fires. A patch of flax, a dry stringy
material, is placed on a flat surface. On top a small piece of charred
cloth is added. Then a rod of iron, curled at the ends would be placed
across the top of the fingers and struck with flint. The sparks are caught
by the charred cloth and the person would blow on it, catching the flax.
Once the flax is burning, the bundle is then placed under the kindling of
the cooking fire. The demonstration had a fire going in under two minutes,
albeit with lots of smoke from the burning flax.
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