Emelia Smith


Newt Perry announcing a mermaid show in the first underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs. There are 15 guests watching the performance, sitting on fruit crates. This image was taken sometime between 1948 and 1960.

Emelia 'Vicki' Smith grew up around Weeki Wachee Springs. As a child, her school would bus kids to the springs on field trips. And as a teenager, Vicki babysat for several mermaids. “Weeki Wachee, other than the phosphate mines, was the one big place you went to work. When you graduated from high school, Hernando High School in Brooksville, Florida, you had three options. You either could go off to the university and go to college, you could get married, or you became a mermaid. And many of us became mermaids.” Vicki’s friends, who were mermaids, took her to the attraction to try out and she was accepted.