A Day at Sea

Well, yes, red tide did cause a few coughs, but the continental breakfast buffet on our March 2023 Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise provided some soothing refreshments. Volunteers Sue Padden and Norma Kwenski made a lovely buffet table, and the Gentleman With The Legs added a little cheesecake to the menu.

On land, before boarding, board member Deb Walk (right) and City Commissioner Debbie Trice compare notes about being named after Debbie Reynolds (Joke. Maybe they were named after beloved aunts. I wasn’t eavesdropping.) We’ll be hoping Ms. Trice will become an active member!

Meanwhile, waiting for the “all aboard” call, Katie employed her VIP gift, a brilliant umbrella, to protect her not only from the sun, but also from the flock of parrots who were noisily entertaining our guests.

Deborah Walk and Jon Stone, board members of the Historical Society, are all smiles seeing the anticipation of participants in our Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise… our 39th, I believe.

And finally, what would our Cruise posting be without our beloved site manager/ board member wrangler/ yard raker Linda Garcia. She is showing off our logo on this cruise’s VIP gift.

Linda’s who you need to contact to get on the November cruise invite list. Check our sidebar here on HSoSC.com for contact info!

Everything you were afraid to ask about David

Word is, Sarasota city employees are thinking of replacing David on the city logo. And spending, according to that article, $25,000 for “design services” to do so.

While it’s true, the original logo (still, apparently, the city seal) is rather, well, dated… is David dated? Them folks over in Italy don’t think so!

If you’re not quite sure how a replica statue (and one not even in the original size) might be a symbol of The City of Sarasota, here’s some historic background.

First off, David’s the only one in the Western Hemisphere. And we’re the only Sarasota. That’s worth mentioning. Second, David was created by a 26-year-old dude. That’s rad, right? Like our art and college students. Third, the marble Michelangelo carved into had been sitting around for decades as a “failed project”, rather like, um, the campaign to replace the logo? Here’s some more info on the original.

“Our” David was bought by John Ringling to adorn his never-completed, torn down Ritz-Carlton hotel, and later was repurposed to inspire the art school which didn’t end up being where Ringling thought it should be, so it’s a great example of how Sarasota flows with the times, in my opinion. Here’s the detes.

And finally, David, like the city of Sarasota, always needs to be polished up and conserved. Here’s what the Ringling had to say about that back in the 2020 Giving Challenge season.

BTW, the Historical Society’s hoping you’ll consider our restoration project when you’re choosing your favorite nonprofits during the 2022 Giving Challenge on April 26 and 27.

So, what do you think? Should the city logo change? Back in 2021, 2013, and even 2011, apparently folks thought so. But you know, he’s still standing tall. Like we hope you’ll help us keep the Crocker Memorial Church standing tall and proud as a symbol of our Sarasota community.

Our tree.

Well, we have lots of trees surrounding our campus in Pioneer Park, but the one that shades our front yard is the one everyone remarks upon.

Ringling College art students painting our historic buildings under our pignut hickory.
The pignut hickory we are proud to protect.

Why pignut hickory? Well, the nuts are a main source of food for some species of sqirrels, bears, and of course… pigs!

Feral swine are not native to the Americas being first brought to the US in the 1500s by early explorers and settlers as a source of food. 

So what’s pignut hickory used for? I’m so glad you asked. It’s prized for skis. It was formerly used for wagon wheels and textile loom picker sticks because it could sustain tremendous vibration. (I also found it was used for chair legs… so when your adolescent relative leans back in your prized heiroom chair, maybe it saves his noggin?)

But the real reason I’m telling you about Our Tree? Because of this quote from a botanical website:

Pignut hickory wood is heavy, hard, strong, tough, and elastic.

Rather like the Historical Society of Sarasota County is feeling these days. It’s been a tough two years, and we thank you all for hanging in there as we try to keep your historically-inclined mind entertained, your health safe, and our historic buildings sound. Stay tuned as we, with grace, continue on our shared journey to the future.

The Perfect Holiday Gift

Do you have someone on your holiday gift list who’s hard to buy for? Give them something they don’t have:

A Brick!

Yes, thanks to HSoSC, you can have your message etched on a genuine old Sarasota brick for all to see and admire, while helping us preserve an actual part of our past!

These bricks were originally laid in the dawn

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Our Forever Heroine

Coming up in 2022, there will be this wonderful “Forever stamp” to stock up on. If it weren’t for Dr. Eugenie Clark, what would our oceans and the Gulf of Mexico be like? Known as “The Shark Lady”… she transformed a dream into a multi-faceted research center, Mote Marine. Clark was a pioneer in the field of scuba diving for research purposes.

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Step into my parlor…

While the Crocker Memorial Church is being refreshed, our attention turns to the Bidwell-Wood House. If you haven’t had a chance to see it recently, stop by any Tuesday or Friday from 10 til 2 for a self-guided visit. We hope, in season, to have docent-guided tours of our campus. Interested in learning and sharing some 19th-century local lore? Email our Site Manager, Linda Garcia, at hsosc1@gmail.com to join our next regularly-scheduled docent class. Tell her Sara DeSota sent you!


Be sure to sign the guest book and join an international roster of history-lovers.
Light-weight chairs were always ready to seat visitors. Or plotters.
The Bidwell home was considered the finest south of Tampa when it was built in 1882.
The Historical Society of Sarasota County is fortunate to have a few pieces of the Ringling Hotel’s china on display.
There’s Dr. Joe and there’s Dr. Jack. Learn more as a member of HSoSC.
Our picturesque campus has inspired artists for years.
Come see all the Bidwell-Wood House has to offer you!

What is, and what isn’t, a “white elephant”?

The origin of catch phrases can be bite-size history lessons. I ran across “white elephant” in my reading and wondered how that came to mean something you’d rather not own. Here’s what I learned.


Although a white elephant used to be considered a sacred and tremendously valuable animal in Siam (modern-day Thailand), being given one Continue reading

Not your usual HSoSC Annual Meeting.

Our Annual Meeting on Saturday, while not the traditional potluck/ slide show/ awards ceremony, was fresh-air wonderful.

So excited to finally be able to smile at each other!
Some of our newest members, and they’re newlyweds as well! Dorothy and Carroll!

And Pioneer Park was filled with folks playing, picnicking, even another meeting going on, next door at the DAR, under the trees!

Brenda Lee and Sandy decorated our Back Porch with their lively florals!
Directors welcomed members

To learn how 2020-2021 went down at HSoSC (and a little taste of an exciting event coming up this summer!), visit https://hsosc.com/newsletters/

Next time we gather, we’ll see multiples of these members, hopefully in the renewed Crocker Memorial Church!

And hopefully as well, there will be a world-wide shortage of exclamation points so our blogmistress calms down a bit (this un-masked existence has her quite giddy.)

Sunshine Springs and Gardens

Well, I was just going to share with you, the scans Rex Carr posted of the program for the opening of a Sarasota attraction you might never have heard of.

But the whole thing got a bit out of hand so I had to make it into a full-length article. It’s on our Articles Page now, and well-worth your time (and mine!) Go read. Enjoy.

You wouldn’t recognize the place.

An Historical Society Facebook follower, Lynne Armington, sent us this neat photo of Bird Key’s raw development stage with this note:

Dad discovered Bird Key being dredged up out of Sarasota Bay, and decided to build on it in 1960. $48,000 for the lot and concrete construction three bedroom, two bath one-story home. We looked across the Bay to a little shack restaurant called Marina Jack’s. 

Bird Key, 1960, from the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Actually, the family’s view was of Marina Mar, the original name for what became Marina Jack’s. Here’s what Marina Jack’s has to say about their founding:

Back in the day, Marina Jack was actually Marina Mar. Marina Mar was built in 1963 with city-approved plans for an upscale restaurant, shops, snack bar, and 143 boat slips. The establishment soon failed and was taken over by Jack Graham in 1968, who created what is now known as Marina Jack. 

Ain’t history grand? Let us know if you and your family have some unique and undiscovered views of our county’s past, and we’ll share them with others.

Now’s Here’s a Family Story!

Shane McFarland shared on an FB page, his home-grown historical account of his grandfather. This is precious now, and imagine what a resource for future historians it will be, as well. What family tales could YOU document to save for posterity? Thank you, Shane, for sharing this terrific family biography!

“Mac” The Sailor Man – Sarasota Legend

My Grandy, Arthur Glenn “Mac” McFarland (1902 – 1965), moved to Fruitville in 1933 with 2 children and could only find work packing celery at the old Packing House. He also rolled cigars at Hav-A-Tampa Cigars in Ybor City. But after 5 years somehow managed to save enough to open his own business.

Mac started the Sarasota Archery Club by setting up targets behind his first Sporting Goods Store (opened in 1938) at 10th & 301. After-school kids would go there to learn Archery. It’s now “Sarasota Archers” on 17th Street. One of my cousins, who learned from him at a very young age, still only hunts with a bow.

He also owned a Sporting Goods store where today’s Wilson Building is, at State St. & S. Orange. I actually met Mr. Wilson in 2010, and he told me he bought the building because every day after school (Central Elementary, where the post office is now) would come into my Grandy’s store to look around – as he had many guns, knives, and trophy animals throughout the store. He showed me around and said he kept the original tile floors just to remember those days.

My Grandy also helped start the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, in 1949, and taught many youth to sail…including my mother, and my eldest cousin, who now teaches many more youth to sail. He also helped Hap Poneliet, his very good friend & riding buddy, to start the first Honda Motorcycle Club.

He loved to hunt & fish, and Myakka was his home away from home. My Uncle, Harold Abbott, and my Aunt, Joan McFarland, lived in the park – as he was a park ranger and she worked in the fire tower.

Mac on the old quay wall, circa 1949.

My Grandy was killed, in 1965, by a hit & run driver one early morning, while riding his motorcycle to fish in Myakka. His maternal Grandfather, Francis Marion Smith (1861–1953) is buried at Friendship Baptist Church, 5700 Palmer Blvd, Fruitville, Sarasota County. Mac is buried at Manasota Memorial Park.

As far as I’m concerned, he should have a memorial built for him in downtown Sarasota.

— Shane McFarland




What stories could you commit to paper, computer file, electronic sharing? And how wonderful would they be not only to your family, but to future historians? If you don’t know where to get started, search for “saving family history” and you’ll find inspiration to add your bit to the annals of history!

Shane: “The toddler on Mac’s lap is my aunt Joan, circa 1931. The little girl with the birthday cake is my mother on her 4th birthday, June of 1935, in Fruitville. The baby on Mac’s lap is me, 1962.”