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Newsletter July 22, 2015

Published Wednesday, July 22, 2015 8:00 am
by Larry Kelleher

Drive By Gem

In the 1960s you couldn’t go wrong with a modern house of the time; this is a fine example of one of the homes that were fairly common in the new subdivisions in mid-century Sarasota. This simple, but functional, home is located just east of Shade Avenue near Webber Street.

Pretty as a Picture

I recall this earlier version of the Ringling Causeway Bridge with its wooden platform and no walls to protect the fishermen from passing cars. For that matter, there was only a short wooden beam that separated the cars. When you drove over it, the clacketly-sound made by your tires was comforting as you traversed the bridge on the way to the Lido Beach Casino. If you got too close to the fishermen, then you ran the risk of them casting, and their hook landing in your car, or snagging you!

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Just Jane

Last week, while scouring my favorite thrift shops for Mason jars for the upcoming Phillippi Farm to Fork Dinner, I fell in love with a huge, solid-wood wall unit at the Habitat store on 17th Street. For $300.00, I couldn’t just let it sit there. With a bit of green paint, to lighten up the dark interior, it’s gorgeous!

Fabulous Finds, up on Orange Avenue lured me in for another treasure; a desperately needed new arm chair and ottoman for John’s siesta-time. My apologies to my neighbors, for dumping its 35-year-old, leather predecessor on the curb, just before the monsoon started last week!

I introduced my daughter to Sarasota Architectural Salvage and the Woman’s Exchange, and she was able to fit all but the headboard in her car, laden with new treasures and chalk paint from the Rustic Rooster. We’re lookin’ fer a pickup truck; heading down to Ft. Myers now.

Did you know that there are over 50 homes for sale this month in Sarasota that are at least 50 years or older? The best part - most of them are located within walking distance of our downtown amenities, so check our listings in the Vintage Real Estate section. You too, might find just what you’re looking for!
Oh, by the way, I’m still looking for about 50 Mason jars, and 20 bales of hay; just in case you might have some.

Ain't Life Grand?

Now, when was the last time you went to Sarasota-Bradenton Airport and saw a scene like this? It would have been most likely in the 1950s when publicity shots were a common occurrence at the airport. Note favorite carrier, National Airlines in the background while the bathing beauty and circus trainer pose alongside the captain and an attendant. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



The Sarasota Art Association has been a fixture in Sarasota’s cultural history for many decades. This is an example of one of the shows that took place there in 1958 - Exploration in Art. Primary colors are a good thing; they really draw your attention, don’t they?

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


John D. McDonald

Dean Koontz calls him his all-time favorite writer.  Stephen King thinks he’s the great entertainer of our age. Carl Hiassen says he was the “first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture all its languid sleaze, racy sense of promise and breath-grabbing beauty.”

John D. MacDonald was born on July 24, 1916, in Sharon, Pennsylvania. His educational training was in business, and he earned a masters degree from Harvard Business School.  MacDonald became a writer while serving in World War II. He wrote a short article about India and sent it to his wife, who submitted it to Story magazine. They paid him $25.00 and requested more material. Sarasota became his home in 1951, and from here he produced more than 70 novels and over 200 short stories on a variety of subjects. Over 90 million of his books have been sold around the globe, with 78 of them being translated into 30 different languages.
In July 1975, German actress Marlene Dietrich wrote to MacDonald, “Please send me Travis McGee!” She had been in several accidents for which she was hospitalized, and had read all of the books published to that time, and was “desperate for more.” Read more...

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Tomorrow, in 1900, A.B. Edwards, the first mayor of the City of Sarasota, married Fannie Lowe. A marriage that lasted almost 63 years. His life, which was rugged by any standards to begin with – he was orphaned and left to raise his 3 younger brothers at the age of 15 – was filled with progressive ideas and actions. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who Am I?

The winner of our last contest was Alecia Harper. Congratulations!

I was built in 1941 and have served many a useful purpose over the years; however, being in Florida, termites are a scourge that we have to deal with periodically. I am covered for the exterminator’s poisoning while a building is going up in the background. Your task is to figure out who is under the striped tenting. Who am I?

Click here to submit your answer for this weeks quiz, click here to view the last challenge and correct answer.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Your award this week is the book, John Hamilton Gillespie - The Scot Who Saved Sarasota by Jeff LaHurd. The Friend's of the Sarasota County History Center generously provided this prize. Please consider becoming a member of the Friends; they have some exciting programs coming up soon. Visit them here.

If you would like to be a sponsor of our "Where Am I?" quiz, please call us at (941) 951-7727. It only cost $25 per week for us to set up your ad, and then you only have to provide a prize for the winner. What could be easier?


Postcard of the Week

Many folks believe this structure began its reign as the John Ringling Hotel, later to be turned into a retirement facility dubbed John Ringling Towers. That is, before it met its demise in 1998. However, looking back to its beginnings in 1926, it was originally called the El Vernona Hotel. It was built by Owen Burns in honor of his wife, Vernona. 

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)