If you'd asked me day before yesterday what the connection was between Jim Morrison and Florida, I would have probably said the infamous incident in 1969 wherein the Doors frontman exposed himself to the audience at a show in Miami. But last night, the datum came across my desk that JM actually lived in Clearwater - twice, no less - during his crucial formative years.
Six months after Jim was born, he and his mother moved in with her husband's parents in Clearwater, Paul and Caroline Morrison, for a time while the father went out and about on his duties as a Naval Officer. Later in teenhood, Morrison's rebellious nature so exasperated his parents that he was sent to live with his grandparents again. He attended St. Petersburg Junior College in 1961-62, then transferred to Florida State University, where he studied acting until Fall 1963. Interestingly, among his classes, he took a course in "Philosophy of Protest", where he got a B.
It was on at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach that Morrison met his true love and soulmate Mary Werbelow. They sat on a beach blanket together beside the pier and played the game Matchsticks, just like in Last Year at Marienbad. As part of a wager made, Jim agreed to get a haircut when he lost the game. That afternoon they had a picnic on the Clearwater Causeway, and that night they went to the movies together to see West Side Story and officially became a couple by the evening's end. Things moved fast in 1962.
When Jim moved to California to attend film school in the summer of 1965, Mary followed him. But his erratic behavior soon led to a breakup. This same summer, Jim began playing music in bars with Rick & The Ravens, a jazz/blues combo that had already made quite a name for itself locally but soon morphed into The Doors.
The old Morrison home, at 314 N. Osceola Avenue, just down the street from where I am currently residing this month, no longer exists, having been demolished in 2005. But the persistence of memory imbues reality.