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Newsletter October 19, 2016

Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 6:00 am

Happy Halloween!

Lee and I would like to wish you a fun-filled and spooky Halloween. In honor of “All Hallows Eve,” we are featuring our video of Rosemary Cemetery. It is the burial place for many early Sarasota citizens, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs including Scotsman John Hamilton Gillespie, first mayor and local manager for Florida Mortgage & Investment Co., British land developers of the municipality. The cemetery was set aside in the "Town of Sarasota" plat, filed on July 27, 1886 and located in Overtown (today known as the Rosemary District). To view the video, just Click Here.


Drive By Gem

There’s something very charming about a wooden home as opposed to cinder block or stucco. I especially like the front porch area replete with outdoor comfy furniture. This past weekend was a bit cooler, and there is some slight hint of fall weather. Perfect time to bike around and explore some historic neighborhoods.


Ain't Life Grand?

Mom, I do love sushi, but you can’t eat tarpon. Now what are we gonna do with this huge smelly thing? Stuff it?

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

The Trail Guest House was located on U.S. 41, only minutes from downtown Sarasota. Guest houses were prevalent before we had motels for travelers when they visited in the winter. We had a few hotels, but these homes could accommodate snowbirds and provide a true sense of local hospitality. Wish they were still around – I guess they would now be called a Bed & Breakfast.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Just Jane

In my sometimes, seemingly futile attempts at saving historic treasures here in Sarasota, increasing the awareness of our varied offerings of ‘Heritage Tourism,’ becomes part of my mantra. You might think that because our buildings aren’t as old as St. Augustine’s, that Sarasota is not historic. Wrong! Look at the Indian mounds and the shards of life that are being unearthed all around our county.

But if you want to move backwards only 100 years, there is still plenty to appreciate. One of the most enjoyable ways of viewing our waterfront history is on the Annual Le Barge Historic Cruise, narrated by one of our favorite, most knowledgeable historians, John McCarthy. The Historical Society has less than 40 seats remaining for this popular event, which takes place on Sunday, Nov. 6 beginning at 11:00 a.m. Call Linda Garcia at 941-364-9076 to make your reservations today!

If you’d rather hear the land portion of historic Sarasota, sign up for one of Miss Sue Blue’s Historic Trolley Tours which leave once a month from the Historical Society’s headquarters, on Saturday mornings from 10:00 – Noon. Reservations are required, $30.00 per person. The next tour is Oct. 29th and leaves from 1260 12th Street in Pioneer Park, just off N. Tamiami Trail.

The monthly Conversations at the Crocker kicked off last Tuesday evening with a crowd, riveted to their seats, while learning about Newtown’s African American heritage. Every 2nd Tuesday through April, there will be SRO presentations about our Historic culture.

For more information on all of these events, please check out the Historical Society’s website: www.hsosc.com; you’ll be glad you did and you’ll find lots of events to enjoy with your 'Snow Bird' visitors this season.


Pretty as a Picture

Now, who doesn’t love a picnic on St. Armand’s Key? If you look closely at this picture, you can see them chowing down on fried chicken, and all the fixin’s. There’s fresh fruit on the plates, but no one is touching the healthy stuff. Save room for dessert!

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



Never heard of ‘Polarine Oil,’ but it must have been a very unrefined crude, since it had to be changed every 500 miles. Granted, the cars in 1927 probably weren’t driven as much as they are now, yet the oil-change places along 41 would love to have that much return business today.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


The Florida Portraits Series Exhibit

by Brad McCourtney

“My sister Caren, was my biggest emotional support concerning my personal projects for over 40 years, particularly with the on-going 'Florida Portraits'. When visiting with me annually while in Florida, she would help lug equipment and additionally helped with the taped field interviews on numerous occasions. The last portrait that we worked together on was of Mario Wallenda. Like me, she was a huge circus fan.

Caren died in late 2012 and her request, through her estate, was for Sarasota County to be given her private collection of the 41 prints (the portfolio) from the Florida Portrait series.” (Editor’s note: We will periodically show some of Brad’s works here from the series. To see them all in a public gallery setting, visit the Sarasota County Terrace building at 101 S. Washington Boulevard).

Juanita Hamilton

cook / companion
“Miss Selby, she didn’t like fun. She was solemn.”

Juanita Hamilton, herself quiet and unassuming, never married, which suited her boss, Sarasota philanthropist Marie Selby, just fine. From the early 1950s, Selby relied on Juanita seven days a week until the day she (Selby) died at home in 1971. For 20 years, these two women co-existed in quiet harmony, Juanita in the kitchen and Selby in her study.

Recalling a typical evening meal, Juanita smiled. “Miss Selby, she liked her steak rare,” she said, or on occasion “turkey seasoned to the bone.” While Juanita cleared the evening table, Selby would walk the porch with a cigarette. Washing the dishes, Juanita often would hear Stardust drifting from Selby’s beloved piano. Over a 20-year period, Juanita Hamilton and Selby would become each other’s close friend and constant companion. “Working for Miss Selby was the best job I ever had,” Juanita said.

Juanita in her back yard with a dining chair given to her by Marie Selby. Sarasota, Florida. 2000 

(photo credit: Brad McCourtney photograph collection)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Today in 1944, Sarasota was visited by an unnamed windbag with 100 mph winds. The newspaper missed an edition. Citrus and celery crops were damaged. An Army tug boat capsized in the bay. The winds could only be estimated as the wind tower blew over when winds hit 100.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who am I?

The winner of our last contest was Jessica Mira. Please email me your mailing address so I may send you your prize. 

I have a well-known street named after me, and my Mom and brother and I affected Sarasota in many ways throughout our time here in the early 1900s. Who am I?

Click here to submit your answer for this week's 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?


County Treasure

MacKinlay Kantor travelled extensively as a war correspondent during World War II. In his travels he published many books and articles for the leading magazines. He was awarded medals and collected other memorabilia throughout his career. This medallion emphasizes the “Air War Over Europe” from 1942-1945.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, MacKinlay Kantor Collection)