Monday, April 6, 2020

Hospitality Views: Vacation Rentals

Brittney Anderson
Posted: 4/6/2020

Hello readers! Today’s blog is about how COVID-19 has impacted vacation rental agencies and in turn travel and tourism. As most Floridians may know, on March 27th Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state would be suspending vacation rentals for two weeks. Nobody in the hospitality industry was expecting this pandemic, especially at the start of the season (spring break). Every business in this industry is going to take some sort of a hit because of travel restrictions, but vacation rentals have had the quickest drop. When the Coronavirus first started being publicized, travel started to slow and when beaches closed it really brought Florida vacationers to a halt.

Just like many other types of businesses, these vacation rental companies have had to lay off employees. While every vacation rental agency cannot take any rentals for the two weeks, each company is handling canceled rentals differently. “Many agencies that handle rentals for homeowners are not enforcing their cancellation refund policies that state there will be no refund for Act of God, or catastrophic events. The rental companies, in conjunction of the owners of the homes they are renting, are allowing visitors to reschedule their vacations. Some are providing full or partial refunds, depending on the homeowner.” (Quoted from the article DeSantis’s ban on vacation rentals delivers another COVID-19 blow to Anna Maria Island in the Bradenton Herald)

This has personally affected me as well. As a student in the Global Hospitality and Tourism Management program you need to complete three internship hour credits to graduate. I am currently fulfilling my second one here with Historic Pensacola and planned to complete my third credit over the summer. I was accepted into Vacasa’s Hospitality summer internship program. Vacasa is a vacation rental company and I was supposed to work with the team in Fort Walton Beach. Because of COVID-19’s impact and uncertainty, Vacasa has cancelled their internship program for summer 2020. So not only has this created a loss for tourists, homeowners, and companies, but many students as well. See these interactive graphs showing Florida vacation rentals impact.

Friday, April 3, 2020

My Appreciation for Museums

Alex Ardoin
Posted: 4/3/2020

As a follow up to my previous post for this blog, I would like to talk about why museums are important to me and how I developed an appreciation for them. As a tidbit of background information, I’m originally from Lafayette, Louisiana (true born and raised Cajun) and moved to Pensacola in the summer of 2017. I’m a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of West Florida and my association with the UWF Historic Trust began as a student employee. The only knowledge I had of Pensacola at the time was that the beaches were incredible and that it is the home of the Blue Angels. What better way to learn about a brand-new town than working in and amongst the stories and history?!

I very quickly realized that Pensacola has a storied past and has claim to some very important history to our wonderful nation. Probably the most touted claim to fame is that Pensacola is the oldest multi-year European settlement in the Continental United States (sorry St. Augustine!). But that is quite literally only the beginning to the stories Pensacola has to offer. The Spanish, French, and British all had a hand in early Pensacola history. The town and area played a role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and is home to three historic forts, although only two still stand today.

Pensacola has played an important role in Navy operations with nearby NAS Pensacola which houses the Blue Angels and an aviation museum that contains an array of aircraft. Palafox Street and the neighborhoods surrounding Seville Square have seen many generations grace their buildings and green spaces. The archaeological efforts throughout the downtown area have recovered artifacts from the settlements of the European explorers.

All of these parts of Pensacola and many more are being recorded and preserved by the wonderful people at the Historic Trust. If it weren’t for their efforts, I would have possibly never learned about the rich history that Pensacola has to offer. I’ve discovered so much from walking through the museums that are a part of our complex. I’ve had the chance to speak with some of our historians as they share their knowledge and some of the lesser known stories of the area. 

Through my fortune of having worked as part of the UWF Historic Trust, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for museums and their role in educating the world on where we come from. As a result, I always search for museums whenever I look at travel destinations and will make sure to set aside time to visit them. Museums are a wonderful way to learn the stories of an area and its people. We should all try to pay them a visit and support their efforts for preservation. You just might be surprised what you learn when you do!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Archives File: Judi Buenoano

Spenser Andrade
Posted: 4/2/2020

Hello-hello, blog readers! My name is Spenser Andrade. I am a student employee for the UWF Historic Trust as an information aide. Additionally, I also have the privilege of working in the UWF Historic Trust’s archives as an assistant archivist for Mrs. Jacquelyn Wilson, the organization's full-time archivist. The archives are located on the second floor of Voices of Pensacola inside the Hilton-Green Research Room. Inside the archives, Mrs. Wilson is in charge of preserving a large collection of paper-based and two-dimensional items. These items include books, correspondence, family papers, maps, microfilm, military-related papers, newspapers, pictures, portraits, sheet music, vertical files sorted by subject, and much more! From time-to-time, I peruse through the collection to familiarize myself with it and to find interesting tidbits. During one of my digs, Mrs. Wilson directed me to a file about a woman named Judias “Judi” Buenoano and her peculiar story. 
Inside the file, the story of Buenoano’s life is revealed through various newspaper clippings. Buenoano seemingly lived a life riddled with bad luck. Her series of unfortunate life events began with the sudden death of her husband in 1971. In 1978, her boyfriend unexpectedly died in Colorado. Then in 1980, her handicapped son drowned in the East River of Santa Rosa County after he fell out of a canoe. Finally, in 1983, her then fiancé, John W. Gentry of Gulf Breeze, survived a car bombing in downtown Pensacola . The car bombing entered the state media spotlight and gained significant police attention. Eventually, detectives linked the bombing and source of nearly every horrible event in Buenoano’s life back to her. Buenoano poisoned her husband and boyfriend, murdered her son, and conspired to murder her fiancé. All of her crimes were committed to collect life insurance money. If she had successfully killed her last victim, Gentry, and gotten away with it, she would have collected $500,000 from his life insurance policy.

Throughout 1984, Buenoano’s name became regularly-featured in the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ). The paper closely followed her after she was accused of murder by deliberately pushing her paraplegic son into the river to drown and planting the bomb in the attempted murder of Gentry. During the March 1984 trial, she was dubbed the “Black Widow'' after a prosecutor compared her murderous habits to the spider that feeds off their mates and offspring. Our file also includes handwritten correspondence from Buenoano to a reporter for the PNJ. Written in April 1984 shortly after a guilty verdict was reached, Buenoano said she had “been quite [sic] never said a word and it was used against me,” and that her silence was interpreted as a  “direct admission of guilt.” Buenoano would later go on trial in October 1985 for the murder of her first husband. After being found guilty, she was sentenced to death.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Wentworth Museum and Space Oddities

Skyler Browder
Posted: 4/1/2020

Space Oddities was an exhibit that was in the the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum from February 2019 until January of 2020.  The Wentworth Museum is attached to the UWF Historic Trust. The UWF Historic Trust is a collection of museums that have to do with the history of Pensacola and Northwest Florida.  The Wentworth Museum is located in downtown Pensacola. The building was originally City Hall and was built in 1907. The museum has three floors that are open to the public. All three floors of the museum inform the patron about the history and culture of Pensacola.       
The first floor takes you through a timeline of Pensacola history starting with the Native Americans that were first living in the area, all the way up to the modern time showing why Pensacola is so important, and explaining why Pensacola is the oldest European settlement on mainland North America. The first floor takes the patron on a journey of almost 450 years of discovery and expansion leading to what Pensacola is today. Pensacola, known as the “City of Five Flags,” has been occupied by five different countries in its time, being Spain, France, English, the Confederacy, and the United States. Anyone driving in downtown Pensacola today can see the influence left by all of the countries that once claimed Pensacola as their own.
The second floor of the museum focuses mainly on the people, places, and culture of Pensacola. The second floor uses five small rooms and one large to dive into what makes Pensacola, Pensacola. Currently on the second floor, you can see the Trader Jon’s exhibit, a local bar that was frequented by the Naval Airmen known as the Blue Angels; Greetings From Pensacola, an exhibit based on the postcards that depict Pensacola; Cotton Fields to Congress: The Life and Career of Earl Hutto, that takes you through the life of the Congressman; and Punksacola: Reflections of a Subculture, explaining how the Punk scene was weaved into the culture of Pensacola.
The third floor of the Wentworth is where Space Oddities was located. The exhibit consisted of parts of a collection of science fiction movie props from the Merrill Movie Museum located in Pensacola, Florida. The exhibit’s opening corresponded with Pensacola Comic Con (Pensacon), held the last weekend of February in downtown Pensacola. It was set up in a large room with three walls prefabricated in the center to host the film section. The outline of the exhibit itself served as a timeline of what most movie enthusiasts would consider the classics of Sci-Fi movies. The exhibit had examples of real movie props from titles such as Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to Men In Black displaying some of the alien props used in the movies. The collection also showed the other side of the Sci-Fi genre, displaying props from Star Wars and Star Trek. One of the main attractions was the signed BB-8 that was on display. The exhibit also had original movie posters of all the movies listed and many more that are not. 
The Wentworth Museum is a must-see museum for anyone who is truly interested in history. From people who have lived here all of their lives to people who are just visiting for whatever reason, the museum is an attraction for all ages and peoples. Space Oddities was a fun and interactive exhibit for all to enjoy. Many times I had someone come up to me after viewing the exhibit, they would have big smiles on their face, from young to old, the exhibit was enjoyed by all ages.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hospitality View: Hotels

Brittney Anderson
Posted: 3/28/2020

Hello Again! Today’s blog post is about how the coronavirus is affecting some hotels here in the United States, and even a little bit about Bruno Mars! Hotels tend to be the face of the Hospitality Industry and are a key force for growth in the industry. But with travel bans nationwide how are hotels surviving?

Let’s take a look at one of the most well-known hotel brand names- Hilton. At franchised and managed hotels across the nation, most operations have been suspended. The Hilton brand hotels that are choosing to stay open are only offering limited operations and reduced services. On the corporate level many upper level employees are taking pay cuts. For example, the executive committee is taking a 50% pay cut for the duration of the crisis and the president and CEO, Christopher Nassetta will forgo his salary for the rest of 2020. Since so many employees are out of work, the Hilton Workforce Resource Center is directing employees’ access to more than 500,000 temporary jobs (Amazon, CVS, etc.) and are hoping to have team members back after the pandemic. On top of Hilton taking these positive steps internally, they are also using their resources to help the community externally. For example, “Hilton is assisting local and national governments to provide housing for first responders and health care workers.”

Another very famous hotel brand name is MGM Resorts International. You will find a lot of these resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada, which as you probably know, is on lockdown in efforts to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. So, while most front and back of the house employees are not able to work right now, the MGM Resorts Foundation is hard at work. 

The MGM Resorts Foundation has an Emergency Grant Fund and Children’s Medical Support Fund. This fund is designed to offer short-term assistance to MGM employees and their families especially during this time. MGM Resorts International has also pledged $1 million for an Employee Emergency Fund, as well as, has donated an equivalent of 400,000 meals across America. Many people love this brand whether they are workers, visitors, or even performers of MGM. Bruno Mars is one of those performers. Mars has pledged to donate $1 million to the MGM Resorts Foundation.

You can read further about the steps Hilton is taking due to COVID-19 or more about MGM Resorts Foundation. See Hilton's Corporate Response to COVID-19. See MGM's pledge to employees. And Bruno Mars support for MGM Resorts.

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Love for Comic Books

Madeline Coló
Posted: 3/27/2020

Today I will be talking about the most recently displayed exhibit. It talks about a currently loved topic… Comics! From how they made the guidelines for them throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. If you have a love from childhood of anything DC or Marvel, you will love seeing this exhibit once we open back up to the public! 

In this exhibit, a focused point is the comic book code and the history of how that changed. The Comics Magazines Association of America, Inc. was established in 1954 to allow comic books to have their regulations. Throughout this section of the exhibit, it discusses how the regulations had also changed because of different parts of modern history, such as wars happening and when mature topics such as abuse and unfortunate ethnic stereotypes were coming to light. 

Yet in the end, many can agree that these comic books have been great ways to escape and wonder what our world would be like if there were people with superpowers or super abilities. It shows you how comics, from well-known ones such as Spider-Man and Iron Man to the less known ones, you see how comic books have evolved since the 1950s.      

Another part about this exhibit that many will enjoy is the movie props from recent Marvel and DC movies. We have at this exhibit props from the second Iron Man movie and some of the X-Men movies as well. In the movie section about comics, you will see a mask used in one of the X-Men movies that came out in 2000. There is also an Iron Man movie poster! 

If you are like me and have been a fan of the Marvel Movies, you will greatly enjoy this part of the exhibit. Taking comic books to a new level in modern history, and teenagers, along with the young at heart, have been loving it. Check out this three-page pdf that shows an early version of the Code that will show how the rules for comics have changed or stayed the same. This version of the Code came out in 1955, and list in number format the regulations.                

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Trader Jon’s: A World of Aviation Memories

Alex Ardoin
Posted: 3/26/2020

Hello everyone! My name is Alex Ardoin and I’m a member of Historic Pensacola’s Visitor Experience Staff and a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of West Florida. I am originally from Lafayette, Louisiana and have been living in Pensacola since the summer of 2017. Planes and aviation are one of my passions in life, so much so that I even once considered becoming a commercial helicopter pilot many years ago. Upon starting my job at Historic Pensacola, I discovered the Trader Jon’s exhibit located on the second floor of the T.T. Wentworth, Jr museum. I had no clue who Trader was, as I hadn’t heard of him before. After spending some time in the exhibit and later meeting former patrons of his bar, I had grown to learn of just what his pub had meant to so many people.

Trader Jon was more than just a man that ran a peculiar pub on Palafox Street. He was an aviation enthusiast who loved his bar and the culture created by not only himself, but also the customers who visited. Trader didn’t set prices for drinks but rather traded stories or memorabilia in exchange for a couple of cold ones. This barter system became known as “Tradernomics” and is a large part of how the bar’s walls become covered in pictures and aircraft parts. Once his establishment gained worldwide fame, aviators from all over the world wanted to bestow their memories onto the walls as well. 

As Pensacola is home to the world renowned Blue Angel’s, Trader Jon’s became adorned in team photos and flight gear. Naturally, Trader’s became part of Blue Angel culture and even hosted their annual homecoming parties. The different Blue’s classes had spent many nights in Trader’s bar and shared many stories between themselves and Trader. Trader Jon’s Flying Pub closed in 2003 after Trader’s passing a few years earlier bringing an end to a pub full of aviation history and memories. 

In 2016, Historic Pensacola opened the Trader Jon’s exhibit in the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum. The exhibit recreates the historic pub and celebrates the life and legacy of Trader Jon. The walls and ceiling are covered in flags, pictures, posters, and aircraft parts in a wonderful reimagination of Trader Jon’s. There is a documentary with interviews of Trader himself as well as patrons talking about life inside of his pub. 

In 2017, the Blue Angels held a reunion in the exhibit, and I was lucky enough to be working the event that evening. I watched and listened as some of the world’s best pilots walked around the exhibit and saw some of their own memories on the walls. They started reminiscing about their flying years and shared stories of their experiences with Trader. They described the amazing times they spent with their fellow pilots and how important Trader Jon’s was to the community that developed within the Blue Angel’s. Thankfully, the Trader Jon’s exhibit allows those stories to be remembered by those who lived them and shared for those, like me, who visit the exhibit to appreciate them.