Liz Barry


Liz Barry grew up in Bethedsa, Md., and has a B.A. in English from Davidson College. She served as the editor-in-chief of Davidson's student newspaper, The Davidsonian, for two semesters, during which she initiated the launch of The Davidsonian Online. After Poynter, Liz hopes to work at a small to mid-size newspaper as a news or feature writer.

Personal Narrative – Liz Barry

A black sedan with chrome rims and a rust-red bumper cruises by. Its bass thumps the beat of a hip-hop song I don’t recognize. I’m at Bad to the Bone Auto Shop and Accessories on 34th Street S, interviewing for a story about chrome car accessories.

“Liz,” calls a voice from behind, “why are you doing a story about chrome?”

A man who seems to be in his 40s walks toward me. He has a wiry frame and mocha eyes. He works at the carwash connected to the shop and must have overheard me talking with his fellow employees.

“What do you mean?”

He looks me in the eyes. “Why are you writing this story?”

I don’t know how to respond.

He leads me to a patch of shade. Read more


Catchin’ the blues

This time, he lets me try one. He drives the boat, as I stand with the gaff. We approach the buoy. I slide the wooden pole into the water to hook the line. The boat glides by. I miss the rope by a foot.

He circles back around and we try again. Triumphant, I hook the line. That was the easy part.

He helps me pull the trap aboard and now I am face to face with what seems like hundreds of menacing crabs. (It was more like 10.) They snap their claws and glare at me with beady eyes.

I turn the trap on its side and rap it against the side of the boat to dump out the raw bait.  

I’m scared.


I’m a guest on Mike O’Leary’s boat. Read more


Day in the life of a crab market

The smell of paprika and car exhaust permeates the bustling parking lot. A scruffy dog wanders through a maze of legs. It’s 3:55 p.m. and the line outside the Crab Market is 15 strong and growing.

If you passed by in the morning, you would think the whitewashed shack along 49th Street South was long abandoned. By late afternoon, the Crab Market sizzles with life.

The Crab Market specializes in blue crabs boiled in a tangy mix of herbs and spices, but also sells sides like corn-on-the-cob and homemade garlic butter. Open Monday through Saturday, its hours are determined by many forces — the whims of its owner, the demands of is customers, and, of course, the crabs.

“Every day is different,” says owner Mike Whaley, 50. Read more


Beneath the chrome: Why spend cash for all that flash?

A silver Chrysler 300C glitters in the parking lot.

“That’s my baby,” she says with a flick of her prismatic pink fingernail.

Arletha Jackson, 41, calls herself the mother of seven — five children, one husband and her car, Spoiled Rotten. She got the Chrysler in January as a birthday present from her husband. Five months and $6,000 later, her baby is chromed out.

But she’s not done yet. When Jackson wants her next chrome accessory, there’s only one place she will go — Bad to the Bone.

Bad to the Bone Auto Shop & Accessories is a hot spot for chrome accessories in St. Petersburg, Fla. Over the past three years, the shop’s profits have increased by 40 percent due to a leap in chrome accessory sales, says owner Leo Calzadilla, who has run his shop on 34th Street South for 20 years. Read more


Ready for the next step

Sennatra Priester woke up later than usual. She dressed slowly, took her time doing her hair and makeup. It was her first day of high school, but she wasn’t concerned with looking good for her classmates.

She was afraid.

Hands clasped in her lap, Priester shifts slightly on the brown couch in her family room. The 18-year-old tells stories about middle school. The group of girls who tried to choke her. The daily threats. The physical abuse.

She didn’t understand why.

During the first week of high school, Priester found any excuse to miss the bus. It worked. She never stepped foot in Gibbs High School. That was almost four years ago.

Today, she is three days away from graduating from the Life Skills Center, an alternative charter school in downtown St. Read more


Is this the next fast food?

After volunteering at a youth sports fundraiser in June, Curtis McGee scoured U.S. Highway 19 for a bite to eat. His only requirement: the food had to be baked or grilled.

Curtis, a conditioning coach and trainer, drove past Arby’s, Taco Bell and KFC before pulling into Fresh Go Wild Market & Natural Grill.

There, his needs and taste were satisfied.

“Very yummy,” McGee said between bites of his Spicy Monterey Chicken Wrap.

Fresh Go Wild Market & Natural Grill in St. Petersburg, Fla., which offers healthy alternatives to fast food, will celebrate its one-year anniversary June 28, 2007. Its cook-to-order menu features burgers, sandwiches, salads, take-home dinners and more made with locally grown produce, Tampa-baked breads and all-natural meats that do not contain growth hormones or antibiotics. Read more


Welcome to West of 34th!

The hodgepodge of neighborhoods that we call the “West of 34th Street” beat includes places as diverse as Childs Park, the Central Avenue business district, the Route 19 corridor and Fairmont. It’s bordered on the north by 12th Avenue North, on the east by the “East of 34th Street” beat and on the south by The Point. Gulfport and 49th Street create its eastern border.

Here, you’ll find soul food at Shirley’s, bingo at St. Therese and cannonballs at the Childs Park pool. But don’t forget to spend some time with the local Red Hat Society or try your luck at one of the weekly yard sales that dot the neighborhoods. Or spend some time on a busy street corner some Sunday with the folks hawking newspapers. Read more