FLORIDA TRIP JOURNAL
Garmon’s siren-song-in-a-box misled me into U-turn after U-turn until I eventually corkscrewed my way from Dade City to Tarpon Springs. I could tell we were getting closer to Hella’s because the streets kept getting narrower and the shops and restaurants quainter.
The wharf behind the shops were lined with sponge boats, some displaying their “daily harvest,” neatly bundled into nets.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Greek immigrants — with their knowledge of deep water harvesting — made Tarpon Springs the sponge capital of the world. But the local sponge industry died with a red algae tide the mid 1940s. That and the introduction of synthetic sponges.
Since then, immigrants of a different stripe have sparked a resurgence in Tarpon Spring’s sponge industry, which now sponges off of tourists.
We were lucky enough to come on a day when it wasn’t crowded. We were able to park in a lot across the street and our reservations at Hellas proved unnecessary. The food was excellent, the service mediocre and the urinal in the men’s room was made by Mansfield Plumbing Products of Perrysville, Ohio.
It was oddly comforting to have that little touch of home.
We enjoyed our lunch and mom bought desert from the bakery.
We made sure to give our waiter a good tip. We told him they were hiring at Mansfield Plumbing Products.