Preserving History: You CAN do it! Papers

The second in our series: Today, preserving papers and letters.

You can do much to preserve such valuables without going to extreme efforts and expenses, just by keeping some basic things in mind. We’ve gathered up some resources for you which we’ll be presenting in a small series. If you have other sources and links to share, thoughts to add, stories to tell, comment below. We LOVE to get conversations going, so chime in!

Rosie the History Riveter

Our Rosie thinks history is riveting!

Papers and letters

Well, the first tip, “don’t store them in your basement”, doesn’t really apply to us Floridians (although it’s amazing how many folks give no thought to sticking things in that 130-degree attic including your editor) but the rest of this post from Minnesota is useful.

Oh, those photos from the fair and Uncle John’s promotion at work. You might well ask “How do I save a newspaper clipping?” and here’s what we’d say:

  • If newspaper clippings are being kept for the content as distinct from keeping the original paper as an artifact, photocopy onto acid-free paper, which will last much longer than the original.
  • If the original clipping is being kept as an artifact, store in an acid-free envelope, folder or sleeve.

To keep those family letters folded in their envelopes, that is the next question. Here’s the answer from My Heritage. And who would know better how to safeguard those old discharge papers and report cards than the National Archives here.

Tune into tomorrow for another riveting episode of Preserving History.

Where to get archival supplies: Gaylord, Talas, and University Products.

And, as always, we can count on the Library of Congress to guide us to deeper knowledge.

(The “real” Rosie the Riveter: Who was she? And the well-preserved model for our meme? She’s real too.)

Preserving History: You CAN do it! A HSoSC mini-series

Why care about old stuff? Because preserving artifacts from historical events, or even just times, helps us and future generations learn about, remember, and honor the people and ideas that went before. Maybe you just want to be able to show the great-grandkids what you looked like as a newly-wed, or maybe you like old furniture and want to keep it in working shape.

You can do much to preserve such valuables without going to extreme efforts and expenses, just by keeping some basic things in mind. We’ve gathered up some resources for you which we’ll be presenting in a small series. If you have other sources and links to share, thoughts to add, stories to tell, comment below. We LOVE to get conversations going, so chime in!

Rosie the History Riveter

Our Rosie thinks history is riveting!

First, there’s photographs. Oh so many photographs.

Those folks up in Minnesota tell us how to preserve old photographs.

AARP knows what you need to know. (Heck, they even have some thoughts on how to date old photos.)

If you’re more concerned with saving digital photos, The Atlantic Monthly talks about options. So does the Library of Congress.

Tune in tomorrow for more resources to help you preserve the past.

Where to get archival supplies: Gaylord, Talas, and University Products.

And, as always, we can count on the Library of Congress to guide us to deeper knowledge.

(The “real” Rosie the Riveter: Who was she? And the well-preserved model for our meme? She’s real too.)

Celebrating your Flanniversary

How do you celebrate your Flanniversary?

The Diving Girl signified a motel with a swimming pool

You don’t? What kind ofheathen are you? (Florida natives, forgive me. This chastisement is not intended for you.)

When you arrived in Florida from Up North, you gained a day to celebrate, to drink fancy tourist-y drinks and stick a candle in a Key Lime pie. Have some snow crab and some swamp cabbage. Or at least, go to Publix.

Don’t miss out! Celebrate today! (Well, celebrate on your anniversary.)
You know that sign:

Florida/ I wasn’t born here but I got here as fast as I could

That’s a sign to be proud of. We may have been born in New York, went to college in Ohio, raised the kids in Virginia and Iowa… but we all got here as fast as we could, and that’s worth an annual party, right?

(Ed. Note: My Flanniversary is July 17. It was the hottest July on record, and after he hauled boxes and boxes from the van to the new-to-us house, my sweaty honey reckoned as how maybe we’d made a grave mistake. I cranked up the AC, gave him a cool beverage, and jumped in the pool.)

Recognize our illustration as the Jantzen logo? Read about the history of the Red Diving Girl here.

Recipes from the Historical Society

Back this spring, when were sure The Great Pause would pass within weeks, we posted a Pantry Recipe every evening on our Facebook page. They proved so popular, we thought we’d share a few now, in case you are as sick of your own standard recipes as we are.

Eat more fish for pep and vim!

Sarasota ad from the Historical Society of Sarasota CountyYes, salmon probably wasn’t an offering at the fish company at the Hog Creek Terminal (just a hop, skip, and splash from where we now are in Pioneer Park), but since it’s a fish easily obtained around here nowadays, here’s the best recipe. Pretty enough for company, easy enough for any old day. It’s Salmon and Peppers With Caper Vinaigrette.

Was it Julia Child who said to always start with a pot bigger than you think you’ll need?

Never mind. Here’s our Pantry Recipe for Pasta Cubana.
Start with bite size bits of chicken or pork or even ground turkey. Saute 5 minutes in olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add 1-1/2 cup mild salsa, a can of rinsed and drained black beans, and 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
Add zucchini cut into half-moons and a minced clove of garlic. Simmer 5 minutes more.
Toss with a pound of cooked pasta, rotini or some such sturdy shape. (You can also just serve over rice if you prefer.)
Vary as you see fit!

A classic to replace your mother’s

The Historical Society of Sarasota County presents: Burnt Meatloaf!

For the best meatloaf you ever made (slice leftovers for sandwiches!) we take you over to Auntie Kate’s, who promotes shopping instead of cooking. (Feel free to substitute other favorite activities, like reading about history, walking the dog, watching the sun set.)
(Be sure to read the notes before you start.)

Cooking over an open fire was standard in Sarasota for decades.s

(The last time we posted recipes, we could see the smoke of distant cookfires all around us. In case you missed those dinner suggestions.)

I pledge allegiance…?

Just how many flags did present-day Sarasota County fly?

Well, a lot of these flags are metaphoric, since there weren’t a lot of folk around here for many years, and they were far too busy tripping over saw palmetto roots to bother with flags, but here’s a quick rundown to amuse you and amaze (and quite possibly bore) your friends and family:

Cleverly dubbed the "Castle and Lion" flag, this was actually the King's flag, since in 1513 there was no national flag of Spain1513: Near present-day St. Augustine, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León came ashore and claimed the territory for the Spanish crown. Cleverly dubbed the “Castle and Lion” flag, this was actually the King’s flag, since in 1513 there was no national flag of Spain.

The Burgundian saltire

1565: The indigenous folks were indignant, though, so successful Spanish colonization of the Florida peninsula actually began at St. Augustine in 1565. The Burgundian saltire, or Cross of Burgundy, represented Spanish rule in Florida from 1565 to 1763. (BTW: That saw-tooth design? It’s actually, really, called raguly.)

Those French, they have to do it twice, oui? The French established a short-lived settlement, in 1564, near Jacksonville at the mouth of the St. Johns River. During this period there was no single official flag for France. Their flag may have had a blue field which bore the royal golden fleurs-de-lys. The French also occupied Pensacola from 1719 to 1722 during the War of the Quadruple Alliance.


The red Cross of St. George, the patron saint of England, was the major element of the British flag. In combination with the white Scottish Cross of St. Andrew, it formed the Union flag. This flag flew over Florida from 1763 until 1784.

Yup, the Spaniards did it twice too. Charles III created this Spanish national flag in 1785. It flew over Florida until the United States took official possession of the territory in 1821.

The flag of the United States had twenty-three stars when the Treaty with Spain, ceding Florida, was ratified and proclaimed on February 22, 1821.

The United States government admitted Florida as the twenty-seventh state on March 3, 1845. By law, new stars were added to the national flag on the fourth of July following the admission of each new state, so a twenty-seventh star was added for Florida on July 4, 1845.

During the Civil War, Floridians fought under several different patterns of Confederate flags. The “Stars and Bars” flag, now called the Confederate first national pattern, was selected (without a formal vote) by the Confederate government in March 1861. Read how the Confederacy ran through several design changes, all the while waging war. 

Bonus points if you can identify this flag and where and when it was flown. Gold star if you remember any of your high-school Latin. (Click the graphic for the answer.)



Further reading and sources: inspired this blog post. Each flag links to more info about its time period flying over Florida. And this way cool interactive map shows the contemporary boundaries of what we now call Florida. The various designs of the state flag can be seen here, and the Muskogee, Miccosukee, and Seminole flags are here.

Pretty is as pretty does: Do we do?

Once a year, in late October, we have a Clean-Up Day on our campus in Pioneer Park. Like this one. And this one.

These work days give you the opportunity to get out in the real world, make some socially-distanced friends, and learn a bit about gardening in Florida and Florida-friendly plants

norma kwenskiThis year, it’s Saturday October 24. Come help our Board of Directors and members “Clean Up” our beautiful campus.

Maybe you’ve never stopped to admire our garden? Now’s the chance to not only examine it in detail, but to lend a beautifying hand for an hour or two.

bob fottler

We need you people, your tools, your ambition and your muscles. Male muscles are always welcome, even if you have to bribe them (we will have something to eat to keep workers from fainting from hunger, snack stuff, and something to drink. Nothing fancy. Very “aw honey do I have to actually participate in our community?” type food.) Bring your gloves and your gardening tools!

Kids and grandkids welcome, too. They can learn how to care for the environment, heck how to weed… and when they get bored, there’s a playground right next to us in Pioneer Park.

The more hands, the easier and faster the work. Thanks so very much. Take this opportunity to see one another while socially distanced.


The Historical Society's Landscape Chair, Sue PaddenIt’s an open house 9 to noon... come when you can, stay as long as you wish, bring that bored teenager with you. Just look for Sue, our silver-locked probably-older-than-you volunteer who organizes this every year.

See you Saturday morning, October 24. Just think: everyone can participate, even if just for an hour. And you can make a visible, and PRETTY, difference. No RSVP necessary, just show up ready to get some fresh air and feel good about working the land!

What day is it?

Want to Claim Your Day to Save the Day at the Historical Society, but you’re too selfless to choose your birthday or your anniversary?

How about one of these notable Sarasota County dates?

* If you choose November 6, you just LOVE phone calls. That’s the day, in 1899, that Harry Higel received Sarasota’s first phone call via wires strung up on pine trees. We assume it wasn’t a robocall.

Cool old telephone, probably not in Sarasota though.

We doubt Harry’s phone looked like this, but this was just way too cool to pass up.

* Grab October 28 if you love baseball and Payne Park. That’s the day Lew Brudette, the hero of the 1957 World Series, came home to a motorcade to the park and was feted with a key to the city and a 16′ cabin cruiser.

Lew Brudette in Sarasota. Got a cabin cruiser out of it.

The man, the myth, the cabin cruiser.

* Then there’s Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where you or your kids might have been born? It opened November 1 1925 with 32 beds. It actually opened on November 2, but that day’s been Claimed by an HSoSC supporter, so we’ll use November 1, if you want to make someone’s Sarasota debut your day!

Sarasota Memorial Hospital the early days.

To exit the hospital through those sturdy columns? You were a true Sarasotan!

* One of my personal faves? Royalty arrives in Sarasota, Nov 30 1910. Bertha Palmer’s niece and nephew-in-law, Princess and Prince Cantacuzene, come to see what this whole real estate venture of Aunt Bertha is all about. They stayed at the Belle Haven.

Bertha Palmer in Sarasota

The Princess wasn’t along on this tromp through the wilds of Sarasota.

* Prefer to remain low-key but still help HSoSC survive the pandemic? Just tell Linda, note on your PayPal donation, or drop an email letting us choose a day to dedicate to YOU (Hint: My birthday is July 18.)

The rabbit hole of historical curiosity

We talked a while back about pineapples and their place in Sarasota County history.
Well, that just wasn’t enough for your Intrepid Blogger here at HSoSC. No, she had to delve into the local history of the grapefruit.

And that led to an intriguing article titled

Grapefruit Is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet

Grapefruit info found by the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Graphic from this article

when all we really were seeking was some info on a fellow by the name of Kimball Chase Atwood who was quite an important fellow in this area back when.

So here’s the rabbit hole we fell into:

Oh, and Kimball Jr., the 3rd, and the IVth? They’re a bunch of high performers, but I’ll leave that to your curiosity. I’ve gotta go walk the cat now; he’s had a close call with death today.

The Historical Society of Sarasota County's Curious Cat

*[Donezo] To be thoroughly, physically, and completely done.

Graphic altered from one on Cinema Vet Service’s website.


Step Up and Save YOUR Day.

Claim your day, and choose which day! Donate electronically and Linda, our site manager, will whip out her calendar for the next 365 days and reserve YOUR date.

What do you get? Bragging rights, the warm fuzzy feeling that your $128 will help us get through one more day of The Great Pause, and heck… if you want, you can even send your honored friend or relative a card telling them that

“I think so much of our history together, that I arranged [day’s date] to be dedicated at HSoSC to YOU!”

How much does it cost to winter in Florida in 1924?

(From an article written in 1924 by Karl H. Grismer)*

Percy Gotrocks, who graces Palm Beach with his presence during the winter months, considers himself fortunate if he can get through a season without parting from about sixty thousand dollars. His ‘shack’ on Ocean Boulevard has a retinue of servants that could man a hotel, and their wages are only a small part of Percy’s expenses. The way his parties waste away his bankroll is almost a crime.

Of course, Percy could economize if he cared to–but what would his friends think! He has to put on the dog or people will get the idea that the Giltedge Investment Company, of which he is president, is going to the bow-wows. As for Mrs. Percy, she wouldn’t think of coming to Florida without buying at least a dozen new gowns, fifteen or twenty pairs of shoes, and a couple of thousand dollars worth of other stuff. Why, she wouldn’t feel half dressed! So she splurges handsomely, and Mr. Percy pays the bills.

Not everyone who winters in Florida can afford to disregard expenses like Mr. and Mrs. Percy. Most people have to watch closely every item of expense, and if the total threatens to mount too high, they stay up North, regardless of the discomforts of northern blizzards. The sunshine and the flowers of Florida call them, but they turn a deaf ear.

There is no mystery regarding the cost of wintering in Florida. Despite all ideas to the contrary, a person can estimate before leaving home how much his expenses will be. And he can come within a few dollars of being right. There need be no guesswork about it.

The first item to consider is the cost of transportation. That is the simplest of all. By inquiring at the railroad ticket office the prospective tourist can learn exactly how much the fare will be. For persons living north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi the fare would probably average $60 each way, including Pullman, or $120 for the round trip.

Following transportation, the next major item of expense is that of rent. Although many tourists live in hotels, the majority leases houses or apartments for the season. And the prices, of course, vary greatly. They range from a medium of about $250 for the season to $3,000 or even more.

Small houses, in the suburbs, can sometimes be obtained for the same price as the cheaper apartments. As a general thing, however, the minimum seasonal rent for a place with modern conveniences and adequate furnishings is about $400. A five-room house, close in, can be obtained for from $700 to $1,000.

Many persons may think the above rents are excessive. It must be remembered that the houses and apartments in the resort city remain empty during the summer months or else are rented for very small amounts. In order to break even the resort city landlord must charge as much for the winter season as the northern landlord does for the whole year.

The wide range of existing rents makes it difficult to estimate exactly just what the tourist will have to spend for living quarters. But for the purpose of estimating the average cost of wintering in Florida, let’s use the $400 figure.

The next major item of expense, following transportation and rent, is that for food. To give exact figures for this expense, of course, is impossible. One tourist cooking his own meals, may live well on $5 a week or less. Another, eating the most expensive foods at an expensive restaurant, may pay $5 or more each day. The tourist may spend as much as or just as little as he chooses. It all depends upon his appetite and his purse.

The tourist who eats regularly in cafeterias and restaurants can figure that he can get by easily for $2 a day, and have everything he wants to eat. The chances are he will have enough left over from the weekly food allowance of $14 to send a box of citrus fruit to his northern friends occasionally.

To get back again to the problem of estimating the average cost of wintering in Florida, for a 6-month season the total cost for food and household expenses would be about $300.

Transportation, rent and food are the major items of expense. Aside from those there is nothing that will mount into money. The matter of clothes can be dismissed almost entirely. The tourist need only bring his summer clothes and a few winter garments along with him and he will be all set.

Amusements will not cost the tourist half as much as it does up North. In the public parks he can play all manner of games; he can go fishing; he can attend the public band concerts and listen to the music of the best bands in the country; he can attend the entertainments of the tourist societies. All this costs him next to nothing.

In summarizing, let us figure how much it costs a man and wife to enjoy a Florida winter. The transportation cost for the couple would be about $240. The rent total would be about $400. The cost of meals and household expenses, for a six-month season, would be about $300, considering that the couple ate at home. Allow $100 for incidentals. That brings the complete total up to $1,040 for the sixmonth season, certainly not a prohibitive amount for persons in even very moderate circumstances.

Is a winter in Florida worth that amount? Is it worth it to leave the snow, and rains, and gloom, and sickness of a northern winter, to go to the land where all the time is summer; where the mocking-birds sing their songs of gladness; where the palm trees are gently waved by warm breezes from gulf and ocean? We’ll say it is!

And when you come to Florida and try one of the summerwinters for yourself, you’l say so, too.

*Original source material courtesy USF.

Historical Society Society of Sarasota County Mourns a Great Loss

by Marsha Fottler, President

Current and past Presidents of the Historical Society of Sarasota County, Marsha Fottler and Howard Rosenthal

Marsha Fottler, current President of the Board of Directors, with Howard Rosenthal at the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

Our board was informed that Howard Rosenthal passed away on Wednesday night after a long illness due to heart problems and his need for a kidney transplant. His wife, Priscilla Waldron notified us.

Howard was a past president of this historical society, serving  from 2011 to 2017 and he remained involved after his term by serving on the advisory board and by always being available to me, his successor, when I wanted to discuss some course of action or a proper interpretation of the bylaws.
Howard was a career lawyer and his reasoned approach to issues before our board was a hallmark of his tenure. He never said much at meetings, but listened as everyone else spoke. Then, he would sum up everything, give his opinion about what we should do and call for a vote and move on.
Howard joined HSOSC in 2009 after he and his wife Alice moved to Sarasota. Both he and Alice were Mensa members and loved history. Howard wanted to give tours of the Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Memorial Church and when he realized we did not have a formal docent program with a manual and a series of sessions for would-be guides, he promptly wrote the book and then taught the classes. To “graduate” each of us had to give a guided tour for him and the group with Howard making notes on both our stage performance and knowledge of the properties and of Sarasota history. He himself loved giving tours, enjoying the details as well as visually painting the picture of the evolution of the vintage properties. He had the proper experience. For many years Howard was an admired docent at the famed Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. One year on a summer trip to Pennsylvania, my husband and I went to that museum/library, took the tour and mentioned Howard’s name. They knew him and had glowing things to say about his scholarship and his lively tours.
After Alice died, Howard remained with the organization serving on the board and moving into the presidency in 2011. Howard was an enthusiastic gourmet, loved trying new restaurants and he especially enjoyed our Holiday Party each December. He could always be relied upon for an impromptu restaurant review.
A few years ago, at a Mensa meeting, Howard met Priscilla Waldron and they were married at the Crocker Memorial Church on March 27, 2016. We think it was the first Jewish wedding in the building.  They had a happy few years together, all the sweeter because their love and marriage were such a late life surprise to both of them.
Howard will be buried in New Jersey. He told Priscilla he didn’t want an obituary or a memorial service. He was a valuable board member and exemplary president of HSOSC and we miss him. But, the docent program he started and the good decisions he made have made HSOSC stronger and better.

School days, school days

When I was a schoolgirl, school started the day after Labor Day. So our last beach day, last picnic, last chasing fireflies was bittersweet…. but oh, how excited I was with my new school supplies.

Okay, yeh, I was one of those kids, the ones who liked school, all the way through ’til graduation. I went to what was called a junior-senior high school, so I had 6 years in the same school.

We all have fond memories of what our high school looked like. Here’s Sarasota High.

What? that’s not the SHS you remember? Well, long before you were a twinkle in your daddy’s eye, that was the proud edifice overseen by Mr. Yarbrough.

Thomas Wayland Yarbrough was the standard-bearer for Sarasota schools for nearly four decades. He came to Sarasota in 1907 to lead the public schools and, with the exception of three years in Mulberry, remained until his retirement in 1945. Read about Mr. Yarbrough.

Sarasota High School, built in the 1920's,as seen on


Our headline got you humming? Here’s the 1907 sheet music and song.

Have you seen our blog post honoring Mary McLeod Bethune?

Thanks for all this info are due to to Rex Carr, Larry Kelleher, and whoever took that beautiful, crisp and clear photo of SHS.

Back to school, thanks to Mary McLeod Bethune

Back-to-school may not be the same now in 2020, but we’d like to give seasonal honors to

…Author, educator, and African American Civil Rights leader, Mary McLeod Bethune, was born in Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875. The fifteenth child of former slaves, Bethune knew from a young age that education was the key to success. She attended Scotia Seminary School, and the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Bethune moved to Palatka, Florida, in 1899 and began teaching.
She moved to Daytona in 1904, and in October of that year opened the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. She worked tirelessly to keep the school open by gaining support from wealthy benefactors, many from outside Florida.
In 1931 the school was merged with the Cookman Institute, establishing a coeducational junior college known as Bethune-Cookman College (now University). She was involved in a number of civic groups including the National Council of Negro Women, the National Youth Administration (a WPA program), the National Association of Colored Women, the Federal Council of Negro Affairs, and many others. She was a close friend of President Franklin and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and devoted her life to the education and betterment of African Americans.

from Jax Examiner

More on Mary McLeod Bethune:

From National Women’s History Museum
and PBS’s American Experience
and Bethune-Cookman University

More on African American schools in Florida history:

From Orange County Regional History Center
and Palm Beach County History
and a video from 10 Tampa Bay’s “Deep Dive” on current, 2020, teaching of Black history