Paradise Lost

By staff October 1, 2004

Thirty-five years ago, Frank Gamsky fell in love with 10 acres of wild Florida jungle when he spied an eight-foot king snake glistening in the treetops. The lanky, bespectacled Gamsky had already owned gas stations and a repair shop in Milwaukee, Wis., when he convinced his wife, Elaine, to let him turn his newfound paradise into an RV park and restaurant. The couple and their four kids cleared the land of brush and 160 rattlesnakes, then mounted the snakes inside the Linger Lodge, which has been featured twice on Food Network.

Over the years, the snakes were joined by possums, raccoons, foxes, jackrabbits, fish and a 12-foot alligator-mostly roadkill: "I don't believe in killing animals if I don't have to," he says.

In May, Gamsky, now 74, put his 1,800 feet of waterfront property up for sale for $4.5 million. "I'd like for it to stay the way it is," he says, but he needs to focus on caring for Elaine, who is ill. "I estimate someone can get 15 houses in here, at least."

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