Monday, March 22, 2010

Robert Is Here

On the edge of civilization, before humanity gives rise to the realm of alligators, crocodiles and pythons, stands a lone outpost - a bastion of hope amidst rather bleak surroundings.  Robert Is Here.

This curiously named fruit stand sits amongst farmland just outside Everglades National Park.  Here you will find freshly grown varieties of unimaginable tropical delights, some of which you may never have heard of - things like Jackfruit, Dragon Fruit, Miracle Fruit and Starfruit.  They sell flavored honeys, cut sugar cane, boiled peanuts and more.  Out back, you'll find a collection of exotic animals.  But the big draw, the one that will have you queued for hours, is the fresh fruit milkshakes, most famously, the key lime milkshake.  I've had it, but this past weekend I became a fan of the banana-strawberry milkshake.  Well worth the wait.

Always wondering why this place is called Robert Is Here, I thought back to my earliest days in flight school, at The Flight School, Inc.  When I asked the owner why he'd chosen such a generic name, he answered that the name of your business should tell people what you do.  Makes sense.  Robert Is Here, not so much.  Then I discovered a brochure.  Finally, Robert Is Here explained.

In late fall of 1959, six-year-old Robert was set on this very corner with some of his father's cucumber crop and told to "Sell 'em!"  Robert sat all day on that Saturday and no one even stopped.  That evening, Robert's father decided "there can't be that many people who don't like cucumbers; they must not see this little boy standing here on the corner."
The next day Robert's father placed a sign on each side of the table proclaiming in big red letters "ROBERT IS HERE."  By noon Robert had sold all of the cucumbers and walked home.  The following weekend, a neighboring farmer added tomatoes to Robert's display and a fruit stand was born.
The only question left is, when closed, do they change the sign to Robert Was Here?  Or maybe, Robert Went Home?  Alas, mystery is a good thing.

So, if you find yourself down this way, stop by Robert Is Here.  If nothing else, you can say you've been to Robert Is Here and really, isn't that something?  While there, you might see stuff like this...

Or this...

Thar's babies in that thar nest.  Mama Osprey (or Papa) just dropped off a fish.  We were so entranced in watching we nearly stepped on this pygmy rattlesnake.

Matt Was Here.


Matt Ryan said...

What a great story. This just proves that as long as there's meaning behind a name it doesn't matter what it is.

I'll have to stop by this place the next time I find myself near the Everglades.

slcboston said...

Yeah, that reminds me of the kind of stuff I remember seeing the last time I visited the Everglades (which was far too long ago). Nice little piece of quirky Americana.

And I shall remember about the milkshakes.

Wendy Ramer said...

I live a stone's throw (with a really good arm) from the Everglades, so I might just check out Robert Is Here!

Erica said...

Cool pics - sounds like a good time. Interesting stuff there ;O)

Miss Nessa said...

I wish I could go there...I've been wanting to try most of those fruits (have had dragonfruit

Kirsten Lesko said...

I love the Robert is Here story!

You've really gotten me in the mood for some jack fruit, but with views of rattlesnakes and alligators (crocs? they look the same) I think I may have to hold off :)

Amy Saia said...

How close were you to those alligators? Yikes.

Those are just awesome pics and I love the storefront! It's great to see a little eccentricity on the road.

Matt said...

Matt Ryan - Do stop by. And let me know. I'm always up for a little quirkcentricity with a fellow sarcosmic.

SLCBoston - Not much has changed. Florida City, where Robert Is Here acutally is, looks stuck in the past. Though they do now have a Starbucks.

Wendy Ramer - I hope you've been. It's always a shame to learn of locals who don't take advantage of everything around us.

Erica - Come on down!

Miss Nessa - What a strange waiting list you have. Where on earth did you try dragonfruit? I didn't actually see any, but it was on their brochure.

Kristen Lesko - Those are alligators. And they do not look the same. Gators are black, crocs are green. Gators are smaller, with a rounded snout. Crocs are enormous, with more pointed snouts. Gators don't chew their food. They only eat what they can swallow whole. So, nothing to fear from gators. Crocs, on the other hand... Incidentally, this is the only place on planet earth where Alligators and Crocodiles co-exist.

Amy Saia - I did zoom in a bit for that pic, but you can get pretty close. There are boardwalks over the swamp, but sometimes they snooze right at the edges. The railings don't really keep them away, they just don't have much interest in humans. You can get darned close if you want.

Susan R. Mills said...

That's a great story. The alligator pics are awesome.