Stories in Your Own Backyard
When Opportunity Knocks, Throw Open
By Patricia Pochurek
As a travel, features writer, and fishing columnist for our local newspaper, I queried my editor about writing an article
on the history of the town which was about to celebrate a 75th year anniversary. I started interviewing older residents.
What a wealth of information I encountered. They were delighted to talk with me, tell me tales about their childhood, suggest
someone else to interview, and pulled out photo albums, yellowed clippings, and stuff stored away in shoe boxes on the closet
shelf. One interview led to another. With so much information, the editor and I decided that instead of one article, we would
turn it into a series. As the material grew, we knew there was enough for a publication that could stand alone. Remembering Safety Harbor became a labor of love. Not only did I have a small book to write, but much of the information
could be used in other articles for different publications.
My husband and I traveled to The Florida Keys to interview a descendant of our town’s founder. He was kind enough
to share many of his published writings on his ancestor who was controversial and could have been a doctor, a nobleman, a
friend of Napoleon, or a pirate. The town couldn’t even agree how to spell his last name which was spelled one way on
his tombstone and another on street signs. I learned about the lives of the police chief, Native Americans, war heroes, how
African Americans were treated, the rejuvenating springs at The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, and fish caught in Old Tampa
Not only was Remembering Safety Harbor placed in several
local libraries, but we couldn’t keep up with the sales and had to order a second printing. I was asked to be the guest
speaker at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Then I was approached to speak at a fund-raiser for more than 200 people. I’ve
been standing in front of a microphone many times since – public speaking was something I had been unable to do before.
I’ve also used those contacts and information to sell articles on fishing, travel, history, and many other subjects.
Don’t assume that as a travel writer you should only write about places to visit. Think of other ways to use
the material you acquire. Who knows, you might be the guest speaker at your Chamber of Commerce one of these days promoting
your own book.
Patricia Pochurek – Awards in fiction
& non-fiction. Former Editor, The Quester Quarterly and Cracker Crumbs. Contributor to Southern States Fishn' & Huntn'
Magazine and Tropical Breeze. Articles and photos in national and regional publications on fishing, travel, history, the environment,
antiques, human interest, and RVing. Credits include: CampOrama, MuscleCar Magazine, Florida Angler, Mature Lifestyles, Tampa
Tribune, Tampa Bay’s Best, Miniature Collector, Real Estate Executive,
Get Up And Go! Veterans Today, and Accent on Tampa Bay. Author of Remembering Safety Harbor.
Member: Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, Florida Outdoor
Writers Association, Travel Writers International Network.