Bo Diddley and the Shuffleboard Game
by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)
Elias McDaniel, known as Bo Diddley, was a singer, guitarist, songwriter, and music publisher. His career lasted from 1943 until 2007. He died in Archer, Florida, in 2008.
He was a music legend who played a major role in the transition from blues to rock and roll. He originated the Bo Diddley Beat, a simple five accent rhythm that has been used in thousands of rock, hip hop, and pop music songs.
Bo is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.
In the 1970s, Bo moved his family to Hawthorne, Florida, a village of 1400 people near Gainesville. The family lived there on a large estate with a custom-built log cabin that Bo helped design and build.
Now I want to tell you about some disadvantages in knowing a fair amount about Florida, including this Bo Diddley story.
This is especially true when talking to people who are not Florida natives. They may not have any idea what you are talking about.
An example happened recently here in my hometown of Mount Dora.
I was with a group of friends and one man I had not met before. During my chit chat with the new man I asked him where he lived.
“Hawthorne”, he replied.
“Wow,” said I. “Did you know Bo Diddley lived there for many years?”
“No, I didn’t”, he said.
I continued rambling on to my new acquaintance.
“Yes,” I said, “He lived in Hawthorne with more than 30 of his family and friends. They even named a town square for him in Gainesville, and he’s buried in nearby Bronson.”
The man gave me a quizzical look, but I just assumed he was new to that part of Florida and didn’t know much about Hawthorne and Alachua County.
After the gentleman left, I learned from others in the group (who had let me babble on) that he lives in nearby Leesburg in an adult 55 plus manufactured home community named Hawthorne.
This is 75 miles south of Bo Diddley’s Hawthorne.
In my mind I can imagine him playing shuffleboard with some folks in his community. I can hear the discs sliding along the court and the click of one disc hitting another.
During a pause in the game, my new friend will casually ask the group a question.
“Did you know Bo Diddley lived here in Hawthorne?’, he asks.
“No, we had no idea”, they will respond.