“Your penny at work.” That’s the slogan of the campaign asking voters to approve, on Election Day 2022, a continuation of the county 1% sales tax. Many wonderful things have been financed by this income since it was first authorized in 1989, but never before has the history of our county been addressed.
And what’s a penny after all? Pennies in the US have been around since the 18th century… although, of course just like us, a penny isn’t what it used to be. Did you know Benjamin Franklin designed the first penny, seen here? (Wasn’t he the BUSIEST man you’ve ever imagined!)
You can’t get more Florida Pioneer than making some pilau (pronounced “per-loo”) for dinner, supper, or a get-together potluck.
So what, you might well ask, is pilau? It’s really any meat and rice dish, and here’s what some historic figures have to say about it:
In the 18th century, naturalist William Bartram wrote of eating squab “made in pilloe with rice” while he was traveling through South Carolina. Of course he hadn’t gotten to Florida yet, but I daresay there were more cooks in South Carolina than in Florida at that time. And all that good Southrn cooking found a welcome home in Florida!
“Pilaus,” wrote Florida author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in 1942, “are almost a sacred Florida dish. No Florida church supper, no large rural gathering, is without it. It is blessed among dishes for such a purpose, or for a large family, for meat goes farther in a pilau than prepared in any other way.”
Pilau is truly an international dish just as Florida is the place where all nations meet: there are Ugandan, Kenyan, Indian recipes readily available online or in your favorite cookbook. What’s so wonderful about it, besides stretching the meat as Rawlings mentioned, is that you can make it your own. Some folks call it pilaf (well, I admit I did before I got to Florida), and some folks use poultry (see Bartram’s remark above), some use beef, sausage, pork.
We keep finding local history-related things for you to do. (Here’s thefirst installment, andPart Two…) It’s too hot to go traipsing about graveyards and boardwalks right now, but it’s always cool to learn a bit more about our local area.
Up at the top there’s gotta be a breeze!
One of our favorite supporters, Liz Coursen, is giving a talk at Gulf Gate Library on Florida Lighthouses. Info here. You probably have visited this one. If not, do! We’re sure Liz will give you directions.
Learn about some cool art
Take a peek into the art collection at the Van Wezel, our on-the-bay performance venue that folks are afraid will be history soon. The best way to show your love for local history is to participate. Here’s your chance, by joining the Art and Backstage Tour. The tour features features works from the Arts Advocates’ Sarasota Colony artist collection as well as noted Florida artists, including pieces by Robert Chase, William Hartman, Eugene White, Ben Stahl, Julio de Diego, Thornton Utz, Frank Colson, and Dean Mitchell, to name a few. The backstage tour provides a peek at the dressing rooms, green room, back hallway, and the Van Wezel stage.
Tours are offered to the public August 8 and September 12 from 1:30-3:00 pm. Tours begin in the Main Lobby and cost $15 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office or by calling (941) 263-6799. More info.
Prefer music and a cool beverage?
More the outdoors, drink and hum along type? Here’s another Van Wezel event you’ll love, and it’s free. The Friday Fest. Future dates for Friday Fest are August 12 and September 16.
Help create future art history
Or maybe you’d like to help fellow Sarasotans CREATE history? After all, history is not fixed in stone; it’s made every day by folks like you. Our tradition of art is strong here, and you can build on that to make art even stronger as time marches on. For example, by participating in and supporting local artists. Your grandchildren will thank you for becoming patrons of the arts in accessible venues like Creative Liberties, Ligon Arts, ArtUptown, and of course Art Center Sarasota.
A post from Facebook called “Walk down Memory Lane.”
Mergatroyd ? Do you remember that word? Would you believe the spell-checker did not recognize the word, Mergatroyd Heavens to Mergatroyd!
The other day a not so elderly (I say 75) lady said something to her son about driving a Jalopy; and he looked at her quizzically and said, “What the heck is a Jalopy?” He had never heard of the word jalopy! She knew she was old …But not that old.
Well, I hope you are Hunky Dory when you read this and chuckle.
About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology.
These phrases included: Don’t touch that dial; Carbon copy; You sound like a broken record; and Hung out to dry.
Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie . We’d put on our best bib and tucker, to straighten up and fly right. Heavens to Betsy! Gee willikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy Moley!
We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley; and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!
Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and pedal pushers.
Oh, my aching back! Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.
We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” Or, “This is a fine kettle of fish!” We discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent, as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.
Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind. We blink, and they’re gone. Where have all those great phrases gone?
Long gone: Pshaw, The milkman did it. Hey! It’s your nickel. Don’t forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Well, Fiddlesticks! Going like sixty. I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Wake up and smell the roses.
It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff! (Carter’s Little Liver Pills are gone too!)
Leaves us to wonder where Superman will find a phone booth. See ya later, alligator! Okidoki .
It’s still too hot to do anything. If you visited our earlier post on brushing up on, or learning new things about, local history, we know you had a cool time. Here’s some more things that’ll keep you entertained and not all sweaty.
The romance of ports. Tampa Bay History Center’s virtual event
It’s on Tuesday July 12 at 2pm, and you do have to register for it, so get out your captain’s hat and enjoy The History of Tampa’s Ports. Can’t make the event? Click the photo above to read some Tampa port history.
Next up, we offer you:
Not just citrus and cattle, they follow the times!
We all know it’s too hot in July to do anything. But brushing up on, or learning new things about, local history, can be cooling. Here’s a few suggestions:
Visit Manatee Village Historic Park in Bradenton to see their exhibit, Wars in Manatee.
Explore how the pioneers and settlers of what became Manatee County experienced the various armed conflicts during their time. From the Seminole Wars to World War I, settlers couldn’t escape the fall out of the Wars of Manatee. This exhibit will be open until October 2022 so put it on your calendar.
Map Credit: Military Map of Florida, 1856. Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida.
Take a road trip… to the end of the road
Florida Back Roads Travel has gathered up 25 towns “at the end of the road.” Some you may have visited… but others await. Assuming your vehicle has A/C and you can pack a refreshing jug of lemonade, it’s a great way to wile away a hot weekend.
Take a gander at some gams
The history of bathing suits... a fun article with even better photos! Florida Memory serves up some hot ways to stay cool. Yes, that’s a palm frond swimsuit, next to the alligator skin one… and of course, no Florida July day would be complete without a sea shells outfit, there on the right.
Our Sunday Afternoon Socials at 2 pm are casual, cafe-style events complete with wine and refreshments, and feature some of the most interesting people around. This month we welcome two historical writers who have turned their research into fish ranchos and early development into a fascinating tale of the 1840s-1900 Manatee and Sarasota areas.
Peggy Donoho and Ron Prouty will be telling the true tale of everyday settlers who populated our area.
They are the authors of Miguel’s Bay, about the people who lived in the Terra Ceia Bay area (that area you are in when you cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge), the Manatee River towns Bradenton and Palmetto, and the Sarasota Bay area.
Miguel was a fisherman from Menorca who fished the waters from the bay now named after him all the way to Sarasota. He courted a Bavarian immigant who worked on the Manatee River and married her, despite
Oh, if you weren’t there, #youshouldhavebeen! For our 37th Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise, the weather was glorious, narrator John McCarthy was awesome, and Capt. Eric of LeBarge took us to places we’ve never been before!
How John knows all that stuff, how the valued volunteers Norma Kwenski and Sue Padden and board members Brenda Lee Hickman and Jon Stone and our Site Manager Linda Garcia manage to keep even our 37th Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise fresh and not-to-be-missed is a wonder! Join HSoSC to keep up with all the goings on at the Society! https://hsosc.com/be-a-part-of-history/membership/
Above: The VIP Boarders waiting to, well, board, LeBarge for our 37th Sarasota Bay Cruise… some for their first time (Hello Australia and Norway visitors!), some for repeat trips. They don’t know it yet but they’r’e in for a treat… Captain Eric took a fresh route, and we saw things you wouldn’t have expected! Ospreys diving, dolphins herding their Sunday brunch into the shallows, and… a SHIPWRECK! N.B: The trash can declined to participate so it was left dockside. Its loss!
Above: Jon Stone, incognito in his shades and straw hat, entertaining the waiting hordes. He also became an impromptu server as he passed around snacks several times during the cruise… we were all too busy seeking out what John McCarthy was pointing out to us (Shell Beach! Bay Island! Sailing prams and sandbars where they used to swim au naturel!) to actually visit the buffet table!
Above: Our long-time friend, past President, Guide to All That Works, John McCarthy, moments before he took the mic to send us on a 2-hour voyage to the past, regaling us with what went before (all the way back to the 1500s!) and how it relates to what’s happening today in Sarasota.
What went before and how it influences today… sounds like the topic for our upcoming Conversation at the Crocker on Tuesday March 8 at 7pm…. read about THAT here.
It’s time for Sparkly Saturday! On Saturday February 12, from 8am to 2pm, we’ll fill the Crocker Memorial Church with preloved jewelry, from costume to sterling, funky to fabulous, necklacesbraceletsearringsbroochesandmore, in conjunction with our fabulous supporter JewelrytotheRescue. And as always, we fill the porches of the Bidwell-Wood House with our “household sparkles” too. Come early, stay late!
Then there’s our even-more-traditional Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise on Sunday March 6, with
The best strawberries? Those from Plant City, just a little north of the Farmhouse Market at Phillippi Estate Park. So I start thinking, naturally, of history. (And strawberry shortcake but let’s stay on topic here…)
Question: Why do they call it Plant City?
A: Because Itchepackesassa was too hard to pronounce and Cork? Really? B: Because it’s an agricultural powerhouse. C: Because Henry Plant built his railroad through there.
Answer? All of the above. Seriously, though, it was named after the railroad magnate who made the town’s fortune: now farmers could pack the strawberries in ice and ship them North to those fools living in snow and slush.
So then I start pondering “strawberry schools.”
Since many families could not afford to hire extra people to harvest the strawberries, children would help. Instead of having a summer vacation, children went to school during the summer and took the winter months off to help their parents with the harvest. The plants would start bearing fruit towards the end of December and continue through the end of March, so the school year was set at April to December. The schools with such a schedule (scheduling was a local, not a state, matter) were known as “strawberry schools.” Read more.
A number of counties in Central and South Florida mandated this to accommodate the small family farm harvest schedules for various winter fruits and vegetables. Strawberries were the main Florida crop requiring this arrangement. Rearranging the school year was no new invention; the very idea of summer vacation was originally devised to allow farm children to help their families during the busy summer months.
Plenty of other states had similar systems to allow schoolchildren to help out at harvest time. There have at various times been “potato schools” in Connecticut, “apple schools” in New York, “tomato schools” in Ohio, and so on. Read more. And more.
Then I got this yen for reading a sweet historical novel.
It’s technically a children’s book, but we all should retain our childlike sense of wonder, right? Read Strawberry Girl online. It’s also available in hard copy in our Sarasota County libraries.
So has all of this got you yearning to go to the Strawberry Festival in March?
The Strawberry Festival’s 2022 dates are March 3-13. Here’s some history of the Festival, and here’s where you can buy tickets to the music acts, including Oak Ridge Boys, Boys II Men, Chicks with Hits, Beach Boys (are we seeing a gender theme here or is it just me?)
Our second presentation of History is Fun was a hit! After a slideshow discussing the facts behind some of the more persistent fables about Sarasota history, our Hero of History, Sue Blue, as historian and raconteur, took the stage to relate to us the most wonderful fable of all… that of the doomed Sara deSoto.
Our audience was well-spaced and the doors to the Crocker Memorial Church were left open to aid in air movement. And most fun of all, member Wil Pearson (pictured here in his persona of John Ringling during our “Ask Me Anything” event at Barnes & Noble in January 2020) won the door prize: A hand-crafted elegant bar of Mermaid soap! After all, mermaids are a fable, right?
Our Board has decided, being cautious, to cancel/delay our other January events. We hope to present these to you at a later time. To stay up-to-date, check our Events Page for the latest Calendar of Events.
If you missed this event or the December premiere of History is Fun, which highlighted Sarasota as seen through the eyes of an artist, be sure to circle Wednesday March 2 2022 at 2pm, when we’ll host the crew from our county’s Historical Resources Department telling us how they help preserve our local stories. Hope they’ll bring some artifacts! (They have mastodon teeth and teacups and all sorts of cool things there.)
To keep up to the moment in the ever-fluid issue of covid cancellations, bookmark our Events Page, where you’ll find the latest schedule of events at HSoSC.
John James Audubon himselfsaw flamingos in 1832 near Indian Key, an island off Islamorada, in the Upper Keys.
Far away to seaward we spied a flock of Flamingoes advancing in “Indian line,” with well-spread wings, outstretched necks, and long legs directed backwards. Ah! reader, could you but know the emotions that then agitated my breast!
Is the flamingo your spirit animal? (I promise, I am not rolling my eyes. I lie.)
Flamingos have been made into chandeliers, poolside beverage coolers, and ceiling fan pulls. I saw one as a carousel “horse” and another as a toilet paper roll holder. Flamingos are happy birds.
If you weren’t able to join us in the Crocker Memorial Church on Tuesday evening December 14 for our annual Holiday party, here’s some photos to enjoy, sent with our best wishes for a joyful season and a happy new year. Stay tuned: we have THREE events coming up in January, and even more in February!
First, the Church was decked out by volunteers, ready for its guests:
And then there was the fabulous food and drink and OH! those desserts from our Events Committee members:
Good fellowship and many friends not seen in waaayyyy too long:
And of course, what would the holidays be without music? The Four Winds, a quartet from the Sarasota Earlye Musicke Consort, who have used the Crocker Memorial Church for their sessions due to the outstanding acoustics, entertained us not just with their music but with the rich history of medieval and Baroque recorders.
We are sorry if you couldn’t make it to the Historical Society of Sarasota County’s annual holiday gathering, and we look forward to sharing the many events planned in January and beyond!
Don’t forget our Members-Only Holiday Bash on Tuesday December 14 from 6-8pm in the Crocker Memorial Church. We’re all decked out for the celebration, and it will be Supper-by-the-Bite with incredible homemade desserts to finish off with! It’s Members-Only, but you CAN join at the door… and that’ll save you money on all our other events, such as the upcoming History is Fun Weekday Afternoon on January 6, which promises to be great fun.