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 HSoSC.com

 

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
and Biography.com

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

Researching the history of a home

Researching the History of a Home

Researching your historic homeOld houses are a treasure (as are old commercial buildings, industrial buildings, churches and meeting halls and anywhere folks have gathered for decades or even centuries…)

Have you ever wanted to research the history of a home you are living in now, the childhood home “up North”, or even an historic home you’ve come across in your wanderings through our county or state? Have we got a list for you!

A friendly librarian, Carol Briggs, has been enjoying our Historical Society blog and Facebook posts and sent this resource to us as a little thank-you gift.

Although the guide is on a commercial site, it looks very comprehensive. We’ve run across some of the links here, but many are new to us, and possibly to you! Thank you Carol for the thank-you!

A Guide to Researching the History of a House.

The Greatest Show on Earth

A guest post from Sarasota’s beloved artist and historian, now relocated but still in our hearts, Deborah Dart:

It is still difficult for me to grasp the ending of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I lived most of my life in the city that was distinctly shaped by and benefited tremendously from their presence since 1927.

The Greatest Show on Earth ended Sunday May 21, 2017.

John Ringling knew what he was doing when the Florida building bust devastated the city in the 1920’s. Moving his circus winter headquarters to Sarasota brought visitors and business to the city while much of the state continued to struggle through heavily depressed times. With the winter quarters established in Sarasota it wasn’t long before every travel guide linked the city to the circus.

The Greatest Show on Earth... in Sarasota!

In the 1950’s entertainment attractions began popping up throughout Florida drawing visitors away from Sarasota and Ringling’s winter quarters circus performances. A grand metal entrance sign was erected to provide more visibility for attracting tourists to the quarters on what is today’s Beneva Road just north of Fruitville Road.

The circus became a favorite subject for me to paint and has given me some outstanding commissions from Feld Entertainment and The World Circus Federation. There are dozens of other circuses performing world wide but none will ever seem quite as great to me as the Greatest Show on Earth.

Deb Dart's artwork, Ringling

Love this art? Click to go to Deborah’s web shop.

You can visit my website to view more of my circus pieces and landscapes of Sarasota – www.dagdart.com

Stay safe and well!
Deborah Dart

“Is it for me?” comes to Sarasota

Sarasota FL gets its first telephone exchange, 1904This Day in History: “1904– With a crank and a jingle, 48 subscribers entered the telephone age as Sarasota got its first telephone exchange. Miss Woodruff was the town’s first operator. The owners had expected only 25 customers or so.” — from Yesterday’s Sarasota 1993 Calendar by J Whitcomb Rylee in conjunction with HSoSC. (The photo’s from a book for sale on eBay; if you’re quick you can get it!)

Can you hear a pin drop?

Is it just, well, too quiet around your place? We have some audio suggestions.

With selections like Fire on the Mountain, Pat Shields, John McCutcheon & the Roberts Brothers,
Florida Memory Radio is presented by the State Archives of Florida. It is part of the Florida Memory Program, whose mission is to provide free online access to a growing number of archival resources from the collections of the State Library and Archives.

Florida Memory Radio provides worldwide, around-the-clock access to the Florida Folklife Collection recordings housed in the State Archives of Florida. Programming includes bluegrass & old-time, blues, folk, gospel, Latin and world music. Through the work of folklorists and archivists, as well as the legacy of creation passed on to future generations by the artists themselves, this music is preserved and enjoyed.

The Brox Sisters plus teddy bear!

(As curious as I am? Click the pic for The Brox Sisters doing Marlene Dietrich)

Florida Frontiers: The Weekly Radio Magazine of the Florida Historical Society is a weekly, half-hour radio program, a combination of interview segments and produced features covering history-based events, exhibitions, activities, places and people in Florida. We explore the relevance of Florida history to contemporary society and promote awareness of heritage and culture tourism options in the state. Stream them whenever it gets too quiet at home.

And finally, If you like moving pictures served up with your audio, we offer up Florida Frontiers Television.

(And when you get tired of all the noise, turn the speakers off and read all the Florida history articles they have for you here.)

There, these free sources should liven the amosphere up. Enjoy!

Pineapples in Sarasota: A History

Downtown Sarasota’s New Year’s tradition is to drop a giant pineapple at the stroke of midnight. Huh? Pineapples? Sarasota doesn’t have pineapples, does it?

Jan Thornburg's photo of the pineapple Sarasota drops for New Year's Eve

Well we did.

Yes, pineapples were once grown as a cash crop in Sarasota. William Whitaker, who homesteaded here in 1843, teamed up in the 1870’s or 1880’s with Charles Abbe, the postmaster of Sara Sota, as we see in this newspaper clipping:

Prof. C.E.Abbe and Wm. Whitaker growing pineapples in Sarasota

Bet you thought pineapples were native to Hawaii. Easy mistake to make. Here’s what Diana Harris, Englewood historian, wrote about that:

open quoteHawaii is so closely associated with pineapples that one might presume pineapples were indigenous to Hawaii, that they traveled from there to the West Indies and Florida.

Actually, the opposite is true. Surprisingly enough, it is recorded that pups, slips and suckers from pineapple plants were shipped from Florida to Hawaii in 1885, thus starting pineapple growing in Hawaii. In 1901, Jim Dole started what is now a world-famous operation, Dole Pineapple.” Read the whole article including why pineapples are no longer grown locally except in our gardens as a novelty.

Here’s the Historical Society’s nod to pineapple growing:

Pineapples in Sarasota, at the Historical Society of Sarasota County, 12th St & Tamiami Trail, in Pioneer Park

And of course there’s Pineapple Avenue. But then again, there’s Orange and Lemon and Cocoanut and even Osprey Avenue, and you don’t see a giant bird being dropped on New Year’s Eve, do you?

Turns out, the pineapple drop has nothing to do with our county history, and everything to do with developers….

open quoteSince 2000, downtown Sarasota has welcomed in the New Year with a free special event … known for dropping a bright, decorative pineapple at midnight—much like how New York City drops an apple.

There’s just one mystery—why is a pineapple used?

About 10 years ago, a development was planned for downtown called Pineapple Square. Part of the development was retail stores along Lemon Avenue and Main Street. This includes the current stores there such as Blue MercuryEileen Fischer, and Sur La Table.

“As part of the marketing for the development, attractive pineapple-shaped light fixtures were installed along the exterior of the stores,” says Jan Thornburg, senior communications manager for the City of Sarasota.

Also part of the plan was the use of a large, lighted pineapple right beside the Pineapple Square development to welcome the new year. and even though some parts of the plan never fully blossomed, the use of the lighted pineapple stuck around, becoming the new beacon for our massive New Year’s Eve block party.”

And yup, developers were and are a much more lucrative cash crop in Sarasota County.

Pineapples are a part of Sarasota county heritage
And now that we’ve whetted your appetite, how about a light modern Pineapple Upside Down Cake?

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Highly recommended by the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

Sources Visit Sarasota , Jan Thornburg, The Englewood Sun and here’s the recipe.

And so Sarasota County begins….

Today in History, July 3, 1921:
The day before the United States’ Independence Day, having declared its independence from Manatee County, the first meeting of the Sarasota County Commission was held.
Warren Day's sketch of Hover Arcade, Sarasota FL, in the 1920's

Renting space from the city in Hover Arcade, the commission set about the ordering of such essentials as equipment and record books. Taxes would follow.”

.             . from Yesterday’s Sarasota Calendar, as published by J. Whitcomb Ryylee in conjunction with the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

The sketch of Hover Arcade is by Warren Day, a Sarasota artist represented by Pixels.com. You can order this and other local scenes as wall art, tote bags, even a phone case here.

“It will afford a grand opportunity for the dealers to work off their surplus of bandanas”

In so many ways, history repeats.

Downtown Sarasota in 1890.

1890. Plenty of parking.

In 1890, the house Alfred and Mary Bidwell built was not even ten years old. The Woods hadn’t even seen it, probably. Sarasota was a minor fishing village way south of Manatee.

But there was a pandemic in America.

It was called the Russian flu. But it wasn’t “just” a flu. It killed.

Initially, public health officials played down the dangers, arguing that the Russian influenza represented a particularly mild strain. Some officials denied that it had arrived at all and insisted that patients merely had the common cold or a more typical, seasonal flu.
The newspapers, too, treated the influenza as nothing to get worked up about. “It is not deadly, not even necessarily dangerous,” The Evening World in New York announced, “but it will afford a grand opportunity for the dealers to work off their surplus of bandanas.”

We were lucky 130 years ago. The pandemic died down in only a month or two. Of course, there was what was called the Spanish flu less than 30 years in the future.

Read more about the Russian flu on History.com.

Cooking through history.

Our mission during The Great Pause has been to keep you smiling, keep you thinking about a bit of history… and to keep you well-fed on our Facebook page . Here’s a quick sample of our daily Pantry Recipes, posted around 5 PM, and we can manage to intertwine a little of the history of eating….

Feeding hungry college students for over 100 years:

This heritage dish goes by multiple names, the Historical Society of Sarasota County found out.

Click to see what folks across the country call this humble casserole.

It’s a basic. Canned salmon has been available since the Civil War, and folks ordered canned goods from Sears Roebuck in Sarasota County in the 1880s and beyond.

Salmon patties have be a mainstay since canned goods were invented, says the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

Click to see just how many folks truly LIKE salmon patties (there’s a great contributed recipe for salmon salad in the comments there, too.)

Now this recipe for Magic Ribs might have been cooked up by Shakespeare’s three witches. Well, maybe not. The 2 major ingredients wouldn’t be invented until centuries later:

Click for the magic. They taste much more complex than their two common-place ingredients.

It’s just 15 seconds, but we think this little video about The Giving Challenge 2020 will help us all think #People1st #ThenBuildings

For The Giving Challenge 2020, think #People1st #ThenBuildings

Click to see how to #BeTheOne #UntilThisIsDone

On our page, we also greet you every morning with a Rise and Shine message, offer you a smile or two, and send you a relaxing soothing image to wish you sweet dreams. Follow the Historical Society page here.  And for a slightly more world-wise page, follow our Sara de Sota page as well.

Please view our video about how we can participate in the 2020 Giving Challenge the end of this month.

A history interlude

We’re having hard times right now, and if you spend ANY time online the media seem to make it even scarier. So we’ve dedicated our Facebook page to help you cope, to make you smile, to maybe even teach you a little history.

We know not everyone visits Facebook, so here’s some of or recent posts focusing on history. Stay tuned… soon we’ll share some of the best Pantry Recipe posts too!

Everyone enjoys a good video, right?

A video found by The Historical Society of Sarasota County

Click to view The Florida Dream.

It’s local. Two towns, both vitally important to Sarasota County history:

Cortez and Cedar Key both played roles in Sarasota County history

Click to visit Cortez and Cedar Key. Can you smell the fresh air and hear the water?

It’s great to learn, but sometimes it’s fun to look back just a few years:

Remember this phone?

Remembering when phone manners  were a thing.

It’s just 15 seconds, but we think this little video about The Giving Challenge 2020 will help us all think #People1st #ThenBuildings

For The Giving Challenge 2020, think #People1st #ThenBuildings

Click to see how to #BeTheOne #UntilThisIsDone

On our page, we also greet you every morning with a Rise and Shine message, offer you a smile or two, and send you a relaxing soothing image to wish you sweet dreams. Follow the Historical Society page here.  And for a slightly more world-wise page, follow our Sara de Sota page as well.

Please view our video about how we can participate in the 2020 Giving Challenge the end of this month.