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Totch: A Life in the Everglades Paperback – September 20, 1993

4.5 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A commercial fisherman, marijuana smuggler, and alligator hunter and poacher, Totch is a native son of Florida's southwesternmost coast, the Ten Thousand Islands. His natural-style storytelling enlivens his and his family's history of eking out a living on the edge of the Everglades. These memoirs--which begin with his pioneer grandparents in 1880, proceed to his childhood in the 1920s, and end up in the 1990s--give us a glimpse of a hard life of poverty and pride, honesty and crime. Totch lives by his own rules; he doesn't glorify or excuse his lifestyle but lays it out for us so that we can understand the strength it takes to survive on the edge. Recommended for folklore, ecology, and Florida history collections.
- Susan Hamburger, Univ. of Virginia Lib., Charlottesville
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The colorful recollections of an Everglades old-timer, Loren "Totch" Brown, whose father was a moonshiner and who, himself, hunted alligators and smuggled marijuana. It was a hardscrabble life--particularly when it involved farming or fishing on the shell islands. Then again, it was a wonderful life; Totch always had a great time, it seems, hiring out to Hollywood and getting to know Peter Falk and Burl Ives, or running a charter and watching Richard Nixon fall from the boat and Ted Simmons stop to play ball with local school children. Totch was a principal source for Peter Matthiessen's 1990 Everglades novel, Killing Mister Watson, and Matthiessen contributes a heartfelt introduction. John Mort --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (September 20, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813012287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813012285
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Totch is a fascinating book written in a natural writer's style illustrating how it really was down in the islands.The chapters not only offer us the life of Totch Brown but share photos and history unmatched in any other source I have found. Any reader interested in Florida history and/or anyone who was mesmerized by Peter Matthiessen's trilogy (Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River, and Bone by Bone) will revel in this book's information. The photographs add so much to the story offering a glimpse at this rather mysterious corner of Southwest Florida (where else, for example, can one see a photo of Ted Smallwood's store as it looked at the turn of the century?). I read it cover to cover without putting it down, and I turn to it often for Florida history/environmental/sociology information. A great find for any lover of Florida history! Totch offers us all a real glimpse into the lives and lore of inordinately tough, brave people who were real pioneers in a little known and enigmatic part of America.
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Format: Paperback
Peter Matthiessen, author of "Killing Mr. Watson," and a master in is on right, is definitely on the mark in describing Loren G. "Totch" Brown as "a natural-born story-teller." A wonderful account of yesterday's Everglades & its people, "Totch, A life in the Everglades" is so colorful and entertaining you'll almost feel the need to keep the mosquito repellent handy while reading it.
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Format: Paperback
I received this book after a family member visited Totch country. As an avid historian I immediately dived in to this book and never looked back. It was an honest look at a "time forgotten" by a man who presented his life as it was, the good & the bad portions. Don't hesitate to buy this and take a journey with Touch. This is the real Florida & not the Disney version.
I am making a special trip to Florida in January of 2008 just to visit this place with my two young boys!
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Format: Paperback
This is a very readable book for any age group about a lifestyle we'll never see again.

It's considered a memoir, but spares us the personal details of an author's favorite crystal doorknob (Mia Farrow) and other indulgences by self-involved people like Tanya Tucker or Cybill Shepperd. It was really hard to like any of those three after reading their books.

Totch, however, instantly inspired respect and admiration. Like most of the old crackers, he doesn't whine or over-explain, he just tells it like it was. I'm from the region he writes about, and it brought back a lot of memories. Yes, there were illegal activities mentioned in the book. In south Florida? Really?

A reviewer wrote a stinging diatribe about Totch's gator hunting, claiming it was done for meanness or sport. Hunting gators for fun? It's not like playing golf, sport. It's dirty and dangerous work, especially back then. I had friends who caught wild hogs fifty years ago in palmetto scrubs, and believe me, it was nothing like today's reality show where the star wears eighty pounds of Mary Kay make-up and designer jeans.

I would place this book with Patrick Smith's "A Land Remembered" for plain-spoken writing about a resourceful family living in a world now swallowed up by condos and development. At least someone documented what it was like for future generations.
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By A Customer on December 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
Totch was a devil most of his life, even by his own standards. It is interesting that he repented and claims to have tried to save the very same Everglades that he harvested most of his life. I do understand the reasons. My family is from Everglades City and did the very same things. They, however, have not tried to explain their way of life away and become one of the Park Service's mouthpieces. The book gives an accurate and in depth look at life as it was in a remote and still wild area of America.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have struggled with how to review this book. For me, it is so much bigger and richer because of how it confirms and supports details in several other books I’ve read on south Florida recently (see Killing Mr. Watson, Shadow Country and A Land Remembered in earlier book reviews. Also see Last Train to Paradise, the story of Henry Flagler’s overseas railroad and Black Cloud, the story of the 1928 hurricane that destroyed they city of Belle Glade and led to the construction of the Herbert Hoover Dike that rings the south end of Lake Okechobee.)

Totch: A Life In the Everglades is an autobiography written by Loren G. Brown, known as “Totch”. Totch was born in 1920 on Chokoloskee Island (three years after my father). He was one of five children born to J.J Brown and Alice Jane McKinney. There isn’t a page in this book that doesn’t connect with a person, location or event in one of the other books I have mentioned, or to places I have been on my paddling trips in the area. Yet this account is not historical fiction or researched non-fiction as the other books are. This is a first person account of life in the Everglades seen through the eyes and experiences of one man, that bridges the generations between Ed Watson’s time and the time of Collier, Flagler and the other important figures of the 19th and 20th centuries.

For example, the Daniels family is prominent in Killing Mister Watson, manly because two Daniels sisters served as Watson’s live in housekeepers at Chatham Bend after his first wife died and another became ill and had to move to Fort Meyers. He had a daughter named Minnie with the older sister, Josie, and two children, Pearl and an infant son who died in the 1910 hurricane, with Netta, the younger Daniels sister.
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