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: History.com 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.

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.)

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.

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

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.

“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.

Turning Beads into Beams!

We’re VERY excited to host our annual Sparkly Saturday on Sat., February 8 from 9am to 1pm. What’s Sparkly Saturday?

A “trunk show” of gently-used vintage, costume, unique, fine and fashion jewelry displayed for you in the Crocker Memorial Church, and a bonus tag sale on the porches of the Bidwell-Wood House.

Sparkly Saturday at the Historical Society of Sarasota CountyWhy are we so excited? Well first ’cause it’s fun, second ’cause who doesn’t love some fresh adornments, and third because the underpinnings of the Crocker Memorial Church are ready for some serious rehab. (Click for more.)

If you love to sniff out treasures, this is the event for you! And yes, folks, Valentine’s Day/ Galentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Lots going on this Saturday… that’s why we’re opening at 9am! Get first dibs, explore our offerings, then it’s off on your Trolley Tour, your class, your visit to the beach!

Presented in partnership with jewelrytotherescue.org

Haven’t you always wondered THIS about Sarasota County?

“Golly gee willikers,” you say to yourself. “How can I live/ visit here and not know…The Historical Society of Sarasota County is having an "Ask Me Anything [about Sarasota history]" event at Barnes & Noble

  • Who is St. Armand?
  • Why does Main Street dead end?
  • Did Ringling really use elephants to build the bridge?

or even:

  • Why do they call it Sarasota?

Well, here’s your chance to ask those questions that you’ve always wanted to know but were afraid to ask!

Ask Me Anything [about Sarasota history]

This Sunday, January 26 2020, volunteers from the Historical Society of Sarasota County will be at Barnes & Noble from 2 to 4 pm to chat one-on-one with you about things you’ve always meant to find out about how Sarasota County came to be the way it is.

In addition to folks who can stir your imagination and pique your curiosity, we will have renowned local authors signing their books, upcoming events listings, even Mable and John Ringling characters who would love to pose with you for selfies.

The cafe in the store is cooking up brownies to honor local history… which, perhaps you know (you didn’t? You need to come ask questions!), were “invented” by Bertha Palmer, Queen of Chicago and Legendary Lady of Sarasota, as a lady-like snack for the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago! (Get there early and I’ll give you the original recipe!)

A small percentage of everything you buy that day in-store or online, will be donated to The Historical Society.

Your B&N purchases of anything and everything in the store will contribute to a donation to the Historical Society when you mention us at the cash register.

Can’t attend but would love for the Society to get credit for any B&N online purchase you make on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday? Type in our code  12582334  as you purchase to benefit the Historical Society.

Barnes & Noble is located at 4010 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida 34231. Click for a map.

When was the last time you took a look at St Pete’s history?

Our intrepid travel volunteer, Jane Kirschner, is leading another of her fun and informative bus tours, and you need to join us!

St. Petersburg: Revitalizing History, A Bus Tour

The historic Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg

The historic Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, one of our highlights during the bus tour.

With a guide from the “Preserve the Burg” group, we’ll see St. Pete’s fascinating historical highlights, including vibrant Central Avenue, the Detroit Hotel (1888), the 90-year-old St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club with over 1200 members, and the spectacularly restored Vinoy Hotel.

We’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch (included) at the renowned Chief’s with a choice of entrees before we explore the African American Trail, witnessing the amazing revitalization of The Deuces corridor and visiting the Woodson Museum.

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 8:00-4:30. Leaves from the Historical Society, 1260 12th St. between the North Trail and Cocoanut Ave. Free parking.

$80 Member, $90 not-yet-Member, includes lunch.

Reservations required. Grab yours now, we were a third full before our eager “tour”ists even knew the details!

  • Reservations can be mailed in, with your payment to: HSOSC, P.O. Box 1632, Sarasota, FL 34230*
  • To charge, call Linda Garcia, our Site Mgr., between 10 and 2 on weekdays 941-364-9076*
  • Questions about reservations? Email hsosc1@gmail.com
  • Any questions about the tour, please feel free to call: Jane Kirschner, Tour Organizer 941-320-7773 Cell

* What’s for lunch? Choose from the wide array Chief’s Creole Cafe will prepare for us, and tell us when you make your reservation:

1/ Shrimp & Cheesy Grits

2/ Gumbo

3/ Shrimp Po Boy

4/ “not too” Spicy Jambalaya

5/ Portabella Burger (vegan!)

6/ Chicken Salad

Nota Bene!! Luncheon includes: Your meal choice, non-alcoholic beverage and TIP! Beer and Wines are available at your extra cost. Please make note of your choice, on your calendar in case you don’t remember.

Bertha’s Been Busy Baking Brownies

Kate Holmes as Bertha PalmerOne of our most popular “spokespersons” from the Speakers’ Bureau at HSoSC is Bertha Palmer, here shown as presented by Kate Holmes. Having done over 300 appearances as “The Queen of Chicago/ Sarasota’s Legendary Lady”, Kate tells us that the two most-asked questions she gets are “Where did you get that great dress?” (Answer: On the Internet of course!) and “Can I have the recipe for Bertha’s most famous invention, the Palmer House Brownie?”

So here’s the brownie recipe. Kate says the secret’s the apricot glaze, so don’t skip that step.

BTW, you CAN get Bertha’s Brownies at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago… or, if you’re very lucky, your local group/ club/ HOA will invite Bertha to appear before your group and one of your members could be talked into baking these! (Save one for “Bertha” to take home for her hubby…)

Trading mullet for orange seeds: Is that any way to start a city?

The Whitakers: at the Historical Society of Sarasota County
Imagine Sarasota in 1842. Imagine being 21 years old and trading mullet from the Bay to start orange groves. Imagine courting, then marrying a girl from Manatee Village, a long hard ride from your homestead. Now imagine Bill and Mary Jane Whitaker having 11 children in the wilderness.

Your local guide, Lizzy Webb Guptill, portrayed by our very own Kate Holmes, will tell the story of her neighbors in this visual presentation of Sarasota’s Pioneer Family.

Sunday Afternoon Social, A light, entertaining program presented cafe-style in the historic Crocker Church (c.1901) Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 2 pm

Light Refreshments

Tickets at the Door, Seating Limited

Members $5, Future Members $10