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Newsletter December 3, 2008

Published Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This Week

This week, we have a treat for our viewers. Sarasota History Alive! has received special permission from Tony Swain at Swain Film and Video to showcase the 1952 song, 'I'm Havin' Fun in Sarasota'.

We took this fabulous jingle and coupled it with "fun" shots from Sarasota's past and have created a great escape from these challenging times. Come on, have fun; turn up your speakers and Click Here to add some sparkle to life!

Video archive »

Filming of DeMille Movie was the Greatest Show Around

The 1951 tourist season was a special one for Sarasota. For approximately three months residents and visitors were caught up in the production of Cecil B. DeMille's Oscar-winning "The Greatest Show on Earth." The local press followed the activities almost, daily, beginning in early January. Detailed accounts of the arrivals of stars "Blond Bombshell" Betty Hutton, "sultry" Dorothy Lamour, and Gloria Grahame pointed out that each was accompanied by her mother and Hutton and Lamour brought their children.

Charlton Heston, Cornel Wilde and Lyle Bettger rounded out the stars that came to Sarasota. Jimmy Stewart played a clown in the movie, but he filmed only in Hollywood. More than 1,000 Sarasotans were paid members of the cast, most as extras who earned 75 cents an hour. Local participants were recruited through the local office of the Florida State Employment Service. Norma Brownell, manager of that office, later recorded her memories of that frantic and exciting season. Not only did she screen potential stand-ins and extras, but also found a maid for Hutton's and Lamour's children and a chair boy for DeMille.

Deluged by requests for auditions and stars' autographs, Brownell recalled, "I never thought it possible to be criticized, scorned, loved, hated, congratulated, admired and ridiculed by so many at one time." Read more...

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)

Tales of Sarasota

This week, Pete goes out on a limb, or should we say a wood driver, when he tells us about the obstacles that women faced in the early days of golf.

According to a 1867 magazine article, he tells us of how women were not too welcome on the course because, "they talk incessantly, they never stand still, and if they do, the wind won't allow their dressed to stand still."

Pete, I fear we may be hearing from our female audience about that! Check out his blog and also see a great photo of Louise Higel defying the odds.



Boathouse and Lighthouse Offer Unique Digs

The two structures located at 425 and 433 S. Osprey Avenue are a novelty and curiosity for citizens and visitors of Sarasota.

The construction of buildings that resemble boats and lighthouses is not a new idea as there are several others elsewhere in the United States. As such, it may be said that Sarasota's belong to a very exclusive "club" of landmark buildings.

The Boat and Lighthouse were reportedly built in 1933 for Captain Arthur C. Rowe by shipbuilder Oliver Blackburn.

Arthur Rowe came to Sarasota in the early teens as a marine engineer and captain for John Ringling. Later, Rowe worked for William Selby in the same capacity. According to Arthur Rowe, Jr., Captain Rowe purchased the property in 1921. The captain and shipbuilder constructed the buildings as a reminder of the sea, which was central to their lives. Oliver Blackburn was a well-known shipbuilder of the era and a brother to George Blackburn, a pioneer Sarasota merchant and politician.

Arthur Rowe, Jr., recalls in a newspaper article that his father ran away to sea as a teenager and in 1910, while at a port in Tampa, made the connection leading to his employment with Ringling piloting a 95 ft. yacht down from New York. Read more...

Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Every day of the year we highlight what took place in Sarasota's history, thanks to Whit Rylee and Tom Payne's extensive research and sense of humor. Frequently check our website's homepage to find out what occured today.

For example, today in 1924, the Atlantic Coast Line initiated passenger service to Sarasota from Bradenton and points north. The trains would pull in at the station where the YMCA downtown building stands today. Among the trains that used the station were the Everglades and The Floridian from Chicago.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)

On the Streets Where You Live

We, at Sarasota History Alive! have decided to include something for you to get your bearings if you have not lived here a long time. Changes have happened throughout Sarasota's history, and "now and then" it is great to reflect on them with "Then" and "Now" photos.

Since our "Where Am I" feature is so popular, we are now going to combine that brain teaser with "Then" and "Now" and alternate them in a new blog section. Instead of just showing you the "Now" picture, you will be challenged to think about the location of the "Then" photo. Just another way that Sarasota's history keeps you on your toes!


This 1940s "Then" photo depicts a Texaco 'filling station' in Sarasota. It is at a very popular corner that surely you know. Hint: The street where the car is parked on the far right side of the photo is named after a fruit. Click here for the "Now" shot.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)

The Loyal-Repensky's

The Loyal-Repensky Troupe was hailed as the "Greatest Equestrian Act Ever Presented in the Ringling Circus." Their most spectacular stunt came when the troupe mounted five horses to form a galloping pyramid of five sisters and two brothers. Although all were accomplished performers, Giustino Loyal was the standout. After his retirement, he trained many youngsters for Sarasota's Sailor Circus.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)

Calling All Pot-Luckers!

The Historical Society of Sarasota County invites you to a Holiday Party Pot Luck Supper on the Porch of the Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Church. Mark your calendar for Thursday, Dec. 11th, at 6:00 PM. Bring a dish to share, AND a can, to add to our donations to the All Faiths Food Bank.

The Church and House are located at 1260 12th Street, between Coconut Ave. and the North Trail in Sarasota. You will be able to get a sneak peak at these two historic buildings, which are being renovated by a group of dedicated volunteers. For more information on the Historical Society's happenings, visit their website: http://www.hsosc.com