Sarasota County, Florida A Land of
Florida Facts You Should Know
Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, 1920s
Sarasota County, where Homeseekers, Sportsmen or Tourists will find a place of rest and the opportunity to get away from the mad rush and artificiality of the large cities or long settled, set-in-their ways and not so favored by nature communities, is in that part of Florida where it is indeed June time all the time.
Swept by the invigorating, health prolonging breezes from the once seen, always remembered, waters of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and lying far enough south to be free from chilling frost dangers and discomforts, this county with only twenty degrees difference between mean summer and winter climate offers 365 genuine growing days in the year and the opportunity to live out doors all the time.
If you are looking for the opportunity and place to obtain real relaxation, a place to make a home for your family among the kind of people you want them to mingle with or the chance to see Semi-Tropical Florida at its best, the pages of this -booklet are worth your consideration.
HOW TO GET HERE
If you motor. a 55-mile drive from Tampa, over some of the finest roads in Florida, will place you in Sarasota, the county seat and business center of Sarasota County. The Tampa-Sarasota Bus Line maintains a regular schedule over this scenic West Coast highway. If you prefer water travel--as many do-the Adams Boat Line steamers, plying between Tampa and Sarasota and touching at several other Gulf resorts, will give you a memorable trip over the historic waters of old Tampa Bay and beautiful Sarasota Bay. During the winter months, the Seaboard Air Line Railway maintain a through sleeping car service between Sarasota, Cincinnati and Washington. The Seaboard's year-round schedule between Sarasota County and other points also facilitates matters for the tourist or homeseeker. Take your choice. Come any way you want. Any route you select will make an indelible impression upon you -but come, see for yourself the wonderful results of man's co-operation with Nature.
The Sarasota County Chamber of Commerce offices are always open to -the tourist or homeseeker. Detailed, reliable and interesting information may be obtained there. The "cold shoulder" or mercenary smile are never seen in Sarasota County. Instead you will find a feeling of "Glad to see you. Let us help you any way we can, and come again." If you think this is mere talk, come, try things out.
Sarasota's financial institutions are under the management of men long experienced in Florida finance and developing, ready to give you sound, intelligent, worth-having advice. Packing your trunks with the many "needfuls" is not necessary when Sarasota bound. The mercantile establishments here are many and varied. Whether it's a paper of pins, your favorite lay-out of fishing tackle or material to build your Florida home, you can buy it in Sarasota.
Churches of all the principal denominations, fine schools, numerous secret and social orders; Sarasota Bay Post No. 30, A. L., is planning the immediate erection of a $15,000 home; the largest and most active Woman's Club in Florida; one of the beat theatres in Florida, several fruit and vegetable packing houses, large wholesale and retail fish houses, electric light, water and ice plant, the finest recreation pier in the South, a well laid out and maintained golf course and miles of sidewalks and paved streets and the best weekly newspaper in the State are but a few of the man-made advantages oftentimes not found in cities several times the size of Sarasota.
Sarasota residents enjoy the many advantages of country life with city conveniences in their homes. What better combination can one seek?
SARASOTA, THE CITY OF HOMES
The city of Sarasota is an enterprising, progressive, modern little city, located on the crescent shores of the most beautiful bay in America with the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico dancing in the distance.
Sarasota has a population of over 3,000 "home folks" and several thousand winter and other time tourists. Many of these people were born and raised in this county, but a goodly portion of Sarasota's permanent and part time residents are widely travelled people, who have been attracted from all parts of the United States and Canada by the many natural advantages to be found here.
That they call Sarasota "home" is evident by the scores of attractive homes, ranging from the neat, substantially built and attractive bungalows to the palatial estates of John and Charles Ringling, of circus fame, Edson Keith, C. N. Payne, the Standard Oil magnate, J. B. Cousins, well known shoe manufacturer, Indianola Club, former home of E. H. Barney, noted skate manufacturer, Honore Palmer and the home of the late Mrs. Potter Palmer. So numerous and so home-like in appearance are the worthwhile residences in Sarasota that a stranger's first remark is usually, "This certainly is a city well located for HOMES." You don't have to spend your winter in a cramped, crowded apartment or distastefully arranged house. Come to Sarasota, see the worth-living-in homes or well appointed, easily-cared-for apartments that may be obtained at reasonable figures.
You will find the home-like atmosphere extending to the hotels and boarding houses. The spirit of service and "make everyone comfortable" seems to be in the air here. Well located and supervised hotels-American plan, mostly-where you may feast on sea-food, green vegetables and game as long as you desire, are numerous in Sarasota and other parts of the county; however, the constantly increasing influx of tourists, sportsmen and homeseekers make reservations in advance advisable at certain times in the year.
The citizens of Sarasota County long ago recognized the prime importance of good roads. There are over 50 miles of asphalt and over 30 miles of shelled roads in this county. Motoring over these smooth, compact surfaces through avenues of live oaks and palms, festooned with drooping Spanish moss, is a delight you will always remember. One of the most beautiful drives in Florida is Gulf Stream Avenue, the bay front boulevard of Sarasota. This entire bay front is free from commercial buildings, being given over to homes and recreation purposes and the man or woman who can drive along this smooth boulevard and look out upon the charming and shifting waters of Sarasota Bay with the romantic keys and Gulf in the distance, is a fortunate mortal indeed. The beautiful homes on this semi-tropical boulevard are many. Have one of your own here.
One of the first questions asked by the prospective tourist or resident is, "What kind of climate have you?" The following report from Dr. Jack Halton, a widely travelled practicing physician, answers this question in detail: "The climatic conditions in and around Sarasota are ideal. The equability of temperature, dryness, high percentage of sunshine, lack of humidity, and general freedom from violent storms and rains make Sarasota a very desirable place for those seeking rest and health. The absence of pulmonary and all respiratory diseases is a well known fact.
"Hay-fever, asthma, and catarrhal conditions: Sufferers from these affections find the climate and atmosphere of Sarasota much superior to those of the Northern Michigan resorts. Many Northern people come here for the hay-fever period, and receive immediate relief.
"The remarkable lack of humidity is a very noticeable fact, the hygrometrical readings showing, the average atmospheric saturation to be about twenty per cent, as against sixty-five and seventy per cent in the Northern resorts and cities.
"Natural location and conditions temper the atmosphere, making it warm in winter and cool in summer, insuring immunity from frosts and a most healthful and agreeable climate the year I round. There are no extremes' of heat or cold, the mean spring and autumn temperature being 70 degrees; summer, 80 degrees; winter, 60 degrees; average between winter and summer, 20 degrees."
Should you need any further proof of Sarasota's superior climate, stop and think, "Would the Ringlings, the Palmers, Cousins, Paynes, Keiths and Dr. Albee, as well as scores of other winter nationally prominent people, people competent and financially able to select the best in life, have selected Sarasota County and invested large sums of money here in handsome estates, if a more ideal spot could be found?"
If these people are prolonging their lives and getting more out of life by coming to Sarasota, why can't you?
While the wholesale fish houses here employ several hundred men and shipped last year $300,000 worth of mackerel, pompano, bluefish, sheepshead, mullet and other fish to all parts of the United States, the fish industry here is capable of almost unlimited expansion. The fish are here and the consumers are everywhere. If a real money making business is what you are looking for, it will pay you to investigate Sarasota's fisheries.
Some of the finest grape-fruit and orange groves in the country are located in Sarasota County. Fruit grown here always brings a fancy price in Northern markets. Good citrus lands, either in the raw or developed state, are still obtainable at reasonable prices, but if developing continues at its present rate prices are bound to increase.
FIRST FIFTEEN HUNDRED ACRE UNIT OF THE PALMER TRUST CITRUS DEVELOPMENT
The Palmer Trust of Chicago have extensive holdings in the vicinity of Sarasota which they are selling as raw land and as developed groves. The views opposite are from their first unit of development. The land is exceptionally well drained and of more than ordinary fertility. It lies in the artesian well district, so that irrigation can be practiced if required when the groves reach their maximum of production. The locality is free from killing frost, which insures heavy and uniform crops. In the future, these orange groves. with the homes which will be located there, will become a beautiful suburb of the city of Sarasota, upon which they border.
NUMEROUS TOURIST CONVENIENCES
Your first few minutes in Sarasota County will show that Sarasota has not allowed Nature to provide everything in the way of relaxation and amusements. The new municipal recreation pier, the best of its kind in the South, built at a cost of $75,000, extending 700 feet into the bay, is a monument to the co-operation and progressiveness of this community and an attraction unequalled in only a few of the larger American resorts. The pavilion will furnish a resting place for tourists and home-folks. What could be more soothing and restful to tired, jaded nerves than an hour, especially at sunset, spent looking over the broad waters of the bay from a comfortable seat on this pier? Tourists arriving by boat will land here and be able to make the pier their headquarters. Docking facilities for private yachts and smaller boats are here, and the guides who can show you and take you where you can find real sport make their headquarters on the pier.
Possibly you are an artist. If so, come, be one of the many who catch Nature at her best in this land of real outdoors.
This is something every parent inquires about. Sarasota County children have the advantage of- modern well equipped schools with faculties trained to handle youth in a competent way. The Sarasota High School has Chemical, Phy~ical and Domestic Science laboratories. Children from any part of the United States may exchange credits with our schools. The Primary and Intermediate Schools are well organized and equipped. You could not do better than to bring your children to this section, where they can play and study, if they so desire, every school day in the year.
Any community with an active, accomplishing things Woman's Club is bound to go ahead. Sarasota has the largest Woman's Club in Florida. It is housed in a modern $10,000 structure, which also contains a public library. The Sarasota Woman's Club has become a powerful factor for good and your wife or daughter will be able to mingle here with the kind of people they. knew back home.
In her everywhere evident attempts to make Sarasota County an ideal spot for rest or sport, business or "time killing," Dame Nature has capped the climax by providing
beach far superior to the many famed beaches of the North and West. Crescent Beach,
wide, firm and clean expanse of white sand, is only a short drive from the City of Sarasota. The visitor will find nothing more satisfying than a pleasant ride along the hard surfaced, lined with luxuriant semi-tropical foliage, road from Sarasota to the beach. A spin up the beach just enough to experience the thrill of having the blue waters of the Gulf lapping at your car wheels. Then a dip in the salty, tonic-laden waters, followed by the ride back to the city, where a meal of delicious pompano, succulent Sarasota County vegetables and fruits awaits you. Year 'round bathing is enjoyable here, and your trip to Florida will certainly be incomplete if you fail to take a dip in the Gulf at Crescent Beach.
No resort town is complete without a Golf course. In this respect Sarasota is exceedingly well provided for. Col. J. Hamilton Gillespie, the father of Golf in Florida, has made Sarasota County his home since 1885, and while he was journeying from here to Belleaire, Kissimmee, Jacksonville and other parts of the State, where he superintended the laying out and building of several golf courses, he was visioning what should and would be at Sarasota-his ho 'me town. Col. Gillespie's thoughts were finally put into realization when work was started on what has proven one of the most attractive courses in Florida. There are at present eleven holes. Work will soon begin on the additional seven holes necessary for an eighteen-hole course. The greens are close-cropped and under constant care, and the fair green is smooth and level, The club house, a commodious, comfortable structure, housing a collection of golf pictures, followers of the Scottish sport travel a long distance to see, is about three-quarters of a mile from the principal hotels and even closer to many apartment houses. Golf is played here by not only the tourists but by the local residents as well, and so whether you come in winter or summer, spring or fall, you will be able to golf in Sarasota.
FOR THE SPORTSMAN
If you crave real, "live" game fishing. or the opportunity to bring home a brace of turkey, duck or quail, a few hours spent in this section will prove Sarasota's superiority. The tarpon, the silver king of the Southern seas, are here in abundance. Sportsmen come from afar to capture this, the greatest of all game fish. Kingfish, Spanish mackerel, speckled sea trout, red fish, rovalia, jewfish channel bass, delicious pompano, flounders, drum, and many other kinds of edible and game fish are also here in abundance. Many parts of the world are famous for the fish abounding in their nearby waters, but Sarasota's superiority is based on the large catches of fighting, game fish, as well as the easier landed kinds, which are landed by practically every party of fishermen going out from here. Your fishing will not be confined to salt waters; Sarasota County fresh water streams are teeming with black bass, bream and other bait-taking fish.
Possibly you prefer hunting. If so, you will find plenty of good sport here. Quail, squirrels, rabbits, snipes, turkey and duck abound in the virgin woodlands of this county. Many and widely scattered are the reminiscences of the "big bags"' made in a day's hunting in Sarasota County.
Competent guides, men who know where to go and have the equipment to take you there and bring you back, can be obtained here. These men are thoroughly familiar with the forests and waters hereabouts, their best references being the many prominent -Sportsmen who return every year.
Indian Beach, Bee Ridge, Fruitville, Miakka, Laurel, Venice, Nokomis, Manasota, Osprey and Englewood are thriving communities within easy motoring distance of Sarasota.
The center of Sarasota County's citrus industry, surrounded by acre upon acre of fine grape fruit, oranges, kumquats, tangerines and limes, is a likable little community only 7 miles by asphalt road from Sarasota. Bee Ridge has good schools and churches, woman's club and a hotel. The population is comprised mostly of Northerners, who have invested heavily here and developed wonderful groves.
On the Tamiami Trail, 30 miles south of Sarasota and bordering on Lemon Bay, one of the beautiful and picturesque land locked bays in Florida is truly the fisherman's paradise. It is unequalled for its variety and quantity of fish. Englewood is the favorite place for tarpon, kingfish, mackerel, sea trout, barracuda, redfish, amber jack, rovalia, sheepshead, red and black grouper, drum, croaker, mangrove snapper and mullet, and its clams, oysters, and other shellfish are known throughout the State for size and flavor. Englewood has an up-to-date hotel, several boarding houses, good school and store. Salt Springs, 10 miles east of Englewood on the Tamiami Trail, is well known for the curative powers its waters contain.
Among the many opportunities in Sarasota County, the new town of Nokomis promises more for splendid development than any other section on the West Coast.
Nokomis is located about the center of Sarasota County, directly abreast Venice Inlet, about 18 miles south of Sarasota, at the extreme end of Beautiful Sarasota Bay and one mile north of Venice, reached by the Tamiami Trail and the Seaboard Air Line Railway.
Nokomis boasts of complete railway facilities (both passenger and freight), and is served by the Suwanee River Special. It has a superb hotel, postoffice, church and school, and a population of about 300. Over 300 cars of fruit are shipped annually from Nokomis. Probably no other section in this county enjoys the scenic and natural beauties afforded by the wonderful waterways, bayous, lagoons and islands. This section is regarded by expert sportsmen as one of the best in the State. Fishing, boating, bathing and hunting, in fact every attraction of sub-tropical waters and forests, abound here.
Three beautiful bridges are a feature of Nokomis, spanning the waters of the bays surrounding the town.
Early in 1921 Dr. Fred H. Albee, one of America's foremost surgeons, of New York City, started developing this beautiful section and has just completed Villa Nokomis, a magnificent, imposing structure of Spanish architecture. This building is undoubtedly one of the finest in the State of Florida. It contains every convenience and comfort of' modern exclusive hotel appointment.
Dr. Albee was fortunate to secure Thos. R. Martin, Architect, Engineer and Landscape Artist, who is well known in Sarasota County, as General Director of this new city, thus insuring every modern refinement, sanitation and restriction.
Active construction of several charming residences attracts much attention, as the type of buildings is unique, and we predict that among the new cities of America, none promise a greater future than Nokomis, as the opportunity afforded by natural scenic environment is not only inspiring to the artist mind but fascinating to those who can visualize the possibilities that only this section affords.
Miakka, 18 miles from Sarasota and in the center of the finest hunting Florida, is also a cattle raising community, known far and wide for its excellent grazing lands and large ranches. Stockmen will do well to investigate the opportunities in this land of flowing wells and excellent pastures. Duck, quail, squirrel, deer and many other kinds of game are so prevalent here that the term "Hunter's Paradise," bestowed upon it by a recent famous sportsman, is indeed fitting.
TRUCKING AND GENERAL FARMING
Sarasota County is the truck farmer's paradise. Muck land so rich that it rivals the famed valley of the Nile, is here in abundance. Strawberries, lettuce, peppers, celery, beans, tomatoes, cabbage and other "cash money" winter vegetables and fruits are shipped from here at the time when they bring the highest prices in the Northern markets.
Hogs, cattle and poultry all do well here. Some of the grove owners are using poultry as a profitable side line. There seems to be no limit to the productiveness of Sarasota County truck, fruit, grazing and general purpose land. The net profits our growers, poultrymen and dairymen have banked and put into home and property improvements speak for themselves. Good land is reasonably priced. Shipping facilities, local and nearby markets are good. Our climate gives you 365 growing days in the year. What more can you ask?
We, who are here now, enjoying the many advantages you have just read about are not selfish. We do not want. to keep others in ignorance of the actualities and possibilities of Sarasota County. If you are tired of the discomforts of Northern winters and summers; if you are in impaired health and seeking a place to recuperate and come back to normal; if you are looking for a place to invest with assurance of safety and worth-while returns --provided you pay attention to business--come to Sarasota County. See for yourself what has been done and can be accomplished here.
Remember --if you desire it, you will find plenty of action in Sarasota County. Hunting and fishing, motoring and golf. bathing and boating are but a few of the many pastimes. If you prefer quiet and rest we know of no better place to commune with nature and restore worn-out nerves than the many restful spots to be found in Sarasota County.
Get in touch with the Secretary of the Sarasota County Chamber of Commerce. You will find it time well spent.
Published by T. F. Arnold
Sarasota Times, June 2, 1910
Indian Bones Discovered.
Great excitement prevailed in Sarasota Saturday morning, when it become know, that in the work of excavating near the Sarasota House, in the widening of Main Street, which is being done by Maus & Sons; a skull had been discovered. A crowd soon gathered and in a short time, from two to four feet below the surface, five skull, bones, beads and pottery had been unearthed. The condition of the bones gave evidence of having been there for many years Although on of the skulls was in a fair state of preservation. Two must have been buried together As they were found side by side. Most of the beads and pottery were of clay although some blue beads showed later civilization. These grewsome remains are, no doubt, relics of a past, when Sarasota was a a part of the "Happy Hunting Grounds" for Indian tribes; but whether, after peacefully passing away, they were laid to rest, or after a bloody conflict, found hasty burial, or if this was but a part of ancient ground used for putting away their dead "man knoweth not."
Sarasota County Fair Association Formed March 30, 1923, incorporated Sept, 27, 1923
copied from minutes furnished W B Powell, secy. May 28, 1925
The Sarasota county Fair Association was formed at a meeting if the Sarasota County Chamber of Commerce,, March 30, 1923 and incorporated Sept 27, 1923, Its object was declared to be to promote the educational development of the county along the lines of agriculture, horticulture-and domestic economy.
Officers elected were as follows:
Edward Cowles, president; vice-presdent R K Thompson;
treasurer, C E Hitchings; directors A L Joiner, schools
and educational exhibits; L L Richardson, machinery;
A L Townsend, agriculture; T L Livermore, citrus;
R C Caples, racing; J H Lord, live stock;
I G Archibald, base ball and athletcis; H F Reils, poultry;
Geo B Prime, game and fish; EO Burns, carnival and
concessions; Herbert Sawyer, legal advisor; Mrs Jack Halton
and Mrs E A Smith woman's work; Mr Owen Burns was placed
at the head of a department of horticulture
to include flowers; and Mr O L Ellis to succeed Mr Lord in
deparyment of live stock.
In September the city and county purchased the present fair grounds site from C N Payne and leased it to the Fair Association. On Sept. 26, Barbecue Day, upwards of 1000 people of the city and county turnedout to clear the grounds and erect the necessary buldings. Three beeves and everal oth other animals were barbecued and 1150.people served with dinner by members of the Womans' Club, the American Legion Auxiliary and all organizations of the city and county. On this day the carpenters, painters union, and union of electrical workers built, painted and wired the buildings and unorganized labor partially enclosed the grand stand, bleachers and built the base ball diamond and the massive gate at the entrance . It is safe to say that but for this outpouring of public spirit and community service there could have been no fair this year
written by H C Green
Nature, in order to prove her art, made one bay more beautiful than any other; where the skies shine bluer and the sunsets are more gorgeous; where fruits grow sweeter and the perfume of flowers is more fragrant; where warm Gulf breezes caress more tenderly in winter and Ocean's breath is cooler in summer; where the songs of birds swell with a finer melody; where the spirit of Man can almost span the gap as he contemplates her handiwork. Nature has proved her Art--WE HAVE SARASOTA.
"ON THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BAY IN AMERICA"
It was once thought that the best advice that could be given was expressed by the phrase "Go West, young man, go West," but today the advice is to go South, and every year finds more people turning their faces to the wonderful opportunities to be found in this new empire.
Perhaps more people are coming to Florida this year than ever before, and still more will come next year and every year following, until the unmatchable resources of this state of eternal sunshine and flowers have been turned to the full benefit of mankind.
For many years people who had never visited the state knew little of it except what they learned from those who had visited only a small section and who had no conception of the productiveness of the soil, the beauty of the scenery throughout the state or the incomparable climate of the west coast.
Today the west coast is known by many northern visitors as "the unspoiled west coast," because it is here that we find the beauty of nature, unspoiled by the hand of man, and it is here that greatest development is to be found for. the next few years, because this wonderful section of semi-tropical Florida is just now being provided with adequate transportation facilities.
Situated on the west coast of the state, sixty miles south of Tampa, on the beautiful Sarasota bay, which has often been called the most beautiful bay in America by those who had traveled and knew the country well; in the heart of the famous Sarasota Bay District, known for its! excellent citrus fruits and vegetables in many of the largest markets, is Sarasota, destined to be the leading winter resort of Florida.
Sarasota is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the bay, varying from one-half to three miles wide, and a chain of narrow keys. The bay is navigable for large yachts and pleasure craft for its entire distance, and being landlocked, except for three passes to the Gulf, is always safe for even small craft. In the bay are to be had many varieties of game fish in abundance, white deep water fishing is the best in the Gulf waters that is VIA
to be found anywhere. Kingfishing in spring and
pon fishing in summer are especially attractive to sportsmen in quest of big game.
Within a few miles is the Miakka river, where the best fresh water fishing to be found in the state is to be enjoyed.
Excellent hunting is to be had 'within a few hours' ride of the city.
This little city is at present one of the most popular tourist resorts on the west coast and has a large number of comfortable hotels, boarding houses, rooming houses and restaurants, assuring visitors ample accomodations at all seasons.
But Sarasota and the Sarasota Bay District is not depending upon the tourist business alone for its development, as it contains some of the most fertile land in the southern part of the state-muck land upon which is grown the most delicious celery and vegetable crops-as well as citrus and general farming lands which produce fruit and produce that bring a premium on the northern markets.
While volumes might be written about Sarasota alone, notwithstanding that there are many other interesting communities in the immediate vicinity, it is the purpose of this little brochure to create interest in this city and section on the part of those who are looking for the best place to spend a winter away from the rigors of their home state and those who contemplate coming to Florida to make their permanent home, and to that end we invite your attention to the following statement of facts concerning Sarasota:
A modern sewerage system.
Municipally owned electric light plant and waterworks.
A live weekly newspaper, which will send sample copies upon receipt of request.
Twenty miles of paved sidewalk threading the entire city and affording easy access to every section.
A climate second to none, with only 20 degrees difference between mean summer and winter temperature.
An excellent golf course, which is maintained jointly by the city and the Sarasota Golf Holding Company.
Populuation of 2,500, being the largest city on the Gulf mainland coast south of St. Petersburg. These figures do not include the hundreds of citizens who live in the nearby communities and suburbs.
Near the city is a free bridge over Sarasota bay to Bay Island, Siesta, Sarasota Key, and Crescent Beach, undoubtedly the best and safest bathing beach in the state, where the surf may be enjoyed both summer and winter.
An accredited high school, which was investigated by well known educators of the north and compared favorably to the best schools in the United States. Diplomas from this school admit pupils to any of the colleges in the country without examination.
Many fine homes and elaborate estates near by. Some of the nation's wealthiest citizens have chosen Sarasota and the Sarasota Bay District for their winter homes on account of the excellent health conditions, the superiority of the climate and the natural beauty of the section.
Leading churches and see ret organizations. Visitors and new residents are always made to feel at home in these institutions. In fact, those who come here from year to year say that one of the charms of the city is the cordial welcome afforded visitors and new residents.
A Woman's Club with a $7,000 club house and public library. Perhaps one of the greatest assets to the city is its woman's club, where visiting ladies are provided with entertainment of the highest order. Many of the most prominent visiting ladies maintain a membership in the club and take part in the programs, which are given each week during the season.
Twelve miles of brick and asphalt streets within the incorporate limits, besides many miles of asphalt highways leading in every direction throughout the district; connecting with hard surfaced roads leading to all the principal cities of the state. Sarasota is on the Tamiami Trail division of the Dixie Highway and is the only place on the Old Indian Trails where the trail actually touches the Gulf coast.
HOW TO REACH SARASOTA
Sarasota is on the Seaboard Air Line Railway, 60 miles south of Tampa, and has through Pullman service to the North, East and West, via Tampa and Jacksonville.
The Tampa Southern Railway, connecting with the Atlantic Coast Line at Tampa, operates to the county seat, within 12 miles of Sarasota, and will be extended to Sarasota. Motor buses run between the county seat and Sarasota, through the famous celery section and afford a pleasant auto ride.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ADDRESS
BOARD OF TRADE, SARASOTA, FLORIDA
SARASOTA, FLORIDA, THURSDAY, MAY 12, 1921
BILL CREATING SARASOTA COUNTY
IS PASSED; ELECTION ON JUNE 15
Women Voters Have Short Time In Which
To Register and Pay Poll Tax. Many
Advantages of County Division.
Once more the Sarasota spirit, with right and justice on its side, has proven triumphant; again a progressive measure has been "put over", and again the citizens of this section are congratulating one another on their success; all of which is preliminary to the statement that Senate Bill 12 , providing for the creation of Sarasota county, has passed both branches of the legislature unanimously, and has probably been signed by Governor Hardee by the time this article appears in print.
Of course, there is a special election provided for in the referendum clause of the bill, to be held yet; but as the
sentiment of the people in the new county is so overwhelmingly in favor of the creation of Sarasota county, there is little to the election except the formality of proving that the proposition is a fair one and one in which all the people are interested.
The election will be held on Wednesday, June 15, a special session of the county commissioners will meet and issue the call for the election within the next day or two, naming the inspectors and clerks at that time
To be qualified to vote in the special election, one must have been a resident of the state for twelve months, of the county six months; must be registered and have poll tax receipts for the past two years. Women voters will only be required to have poll tax receipts for 1920, as they were not liable for poll tax in 1919.
The law requires that poll taxes must be paid on or before the second Saturday in the month, preceding the election. This allows at very short period in which such taxes may be paid to enable those who have not already done so to qualify, and women voters, who have never before been required to pay such taxes, should see to it at once, and qualify for participation, in this important election,
While as above stated, the [illegible]ment of the new county seems to lie overwhelmingly in favor of county division, there are it few who we are opposing the movement, some of them from a sentimental standpoint, others for selfish reasons, and still others from a lack of information or from misinformation
Some fear an increase in taxes. This fear is unfounded we believe. The percentage of taxes which the
territory comprising the new county pays, as compared to the whole county, is 31 per cent, as figured out by the joint committee representing both the new county and the mother county. Of this 31 per cent we have certainly received no more than 31 percent of the benefits of the entire county and will have equally as much
to use as a new county.
Some point to the expense of a new court house and jail. The prevailing sentiment seems to be to defer the building of at court house and jail for five years, at the end of which time conditions will probably be much changed.
The adjustment of the finances of the old and new counties is provided for in the constitution, the new county assuming its pro-rata share of the indebtedness, which in our case will be about 31 per cent, and
a like amount of the assets of the mother county. This applies to the school funds as well as other county matters.
The county seat is temporarily located at Sarasota, under the provisions of the bill, but a vote on the permanent location must be taken, which, if taken five years from now, as seems to be contemplated by a majority of the citizens, would give any other town in the now county a chance to enter the contest, and if it town develops in that time in a more central location than Sarasota, that is able to take care of the county seat, we believe a majority of the citizens of Sarasota would vote for that town as the permanent location.
All the county officers, with one or two exceptions, are paid by fees. The fees will be -no more in the new county than they were in the old, and citizens will save a large amount in mileage that was formerly paid to the sheriff and his deputies, and to jurymen and witnesses.
Instead of one county commissioner representing the territory comprising the new county, as has been the case, there will be five county commissioners, from five different districts, and as s result the roads and bridges of the entire new county will be better cared for than ever before.
The tax money collected in the new county will all be expended in the new county. There will be no question of unequal division. More and better roads can and will be built; the schools will be better cared for, and there is a possibility that a longer term can be had next year, as the millage for school purposes will amount to a great deal more under the valuations which have been made for this year.
It is likely that the general county millage will be greatly lowered for reasons of the increased valuations. The valuations for this year will be those made by Mr. H. S.
Clark, the assessor of Manatee county, and Mr. Clark made an effort to assess all property this year at 50 per cent of its actual cash value. This is an increase of almost 100 per cent over former assessments, and will justify a reduction in the millage of possibly 50 per cent.
The creation of Sarasota county means more to the progress and prosperity of this section than any other one thing. A spirit of unity and cooperation on the part of every section of the new county is absolutely essential if we are to get the full benefit of this splendid opportunity for development. If some person tries
for selfish reasons, or through misinformation to influence your vote against county division in the special election, make them prove their assertions by actual figures-- take nothing- for granted and leave nothing to hearsay.
Within a short time a committee of representative citizens will visit the different sections of the new county and give actual figures as to cost of operation, plans of procedure, etc. Mass meetings will be called to discuss these matters, and every citizen should he present at these meetings.
SARASOTA NAVAL MILITIA
LEAVES FOR CHARLESTON
MANY NEW ONES SIGN AT ORDER TO MOVE
City Official Will Be Paid While Absent-Ensign Philip a Member
SARASOTA. April 7.-(Special)--Sarasota's naval militia will leave Sunday afternoon at 1:10 o'clock for the Charleston Navy Yard, where it was ordered to report for duty. Thursday evening, at 8:16, Lieutenant Warren F. Purdy received a telegram from J. B. Christian, attorney-general. In one hour from the time that Lieutenant Purdy received the wire, thirty-three men had reported. Sarasota is the smallest city in the United States that has either a naval or military unit, and the naval unit here is composed of the flower of the youth of Sarasota, but one and all are enthusiastic to be in the thick of the fray with the Germans.
Eight men from the Miami fishing fleet that have been here for the past two weeks have made application, and several of them were accepted last night. From the time that the call was known to have reached the city. Dr. Jack Halton, official medical surgeon of the company was busy examining and vaccinating the men, and was at this work until after 11 o'clock. Thirty-three signed their names last night, and eleven are away on leave and two are sick and Purdy said this morning that he would leave here with fifty-two men, sure, and maybe more, as not all of the fishing fleet had heard of the call. There are thirty boats in the fleet, with two men in each boat.
Mayor Harry L. Higel said that in the case of Harry C. Green, Commissioner of Public Service, he would introduce in the Council a resolution that Council pay him his usual salary while he is with his company, and that the money be paid to his wife. This is the way that all of the business men and merchants are doing, and it means that none of Sarasota's young wives and mothers will suffer for the necessities of life while their husbands are at the front. The stigma of charity will also be eliminated in that they are made to see that the money is earned by the husbands and that there is no place in the work for charity.
Roster of Company
The following is the roster of the company and the names of the officers: Lieutenant and commanding officer, Warren F. Puddy, ensign, John W. Phillips; Gunner's Mate, first class A. B. Keiserman; Yeoman, first class, H. C. Grinton; Quartermaster, second class, Arthur R. Clark; Machinist's Mate second class, B. S. Olson; Coxswains, W. W. Liddell and R. E. Halton; Buglar, Homer L. Hebb; Seamen, first class, P. R. Fattig, C. J. Hebb, W. C. Hodges, T. R. Martin. Jr., G. D. Maus and W.R. Roehr; Seamen, second class, A. D. Albritton,
L. K. Barber, W. A. Bispham, Ernest A. Bright, W. C. Frost, C. W. Gaskill, H. C. Green, L. O. Hodges, J. G. James, Frank P. Lacey, J. K. Martin, C. C. McCloud, E. L. Parsons, J. C. Pelot, G. E. Scott, W. Whitted, S. F. Williams and E. S. Kraft. Seamen of the third class I.V. Biorseth, R. E. Bradley, V. Hartman, H. Howard, C. C. and J. B. Lacey, C. D. May, F. A. Riegel, G. S. Willis, J. B. Martin, G. S. Clark, J. Gonzales and C. Peacon. Ed. Morgan, a former member, wired Lieutenant Purdy from Chicago, where he should report and the lieutenant told him to report at Chicago.
But Your World and My World
By Annie M. McElroy
Excerpt from Chapter VIII
Blacks and the
Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus
and the Ringling Family
In April of 1928 the circus train left from Sarasota instead of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Many unemployed Sarasotans were able to secure jobs, including blacks. As years went by, blacks from other places came to Sarasota to join the circus. They could have gone to New York. Maybe leaving from Sarasota gave them a sense of security.
Many Blacks who werent already residents decided to make Sarasota their home. Others would come a couple of months before time for departure. They would remain a month or so after returning. For the most part, the circus crew considered themselves as either full-time or part-time residents of Sarasota.
An unofficial holiday was declared by many residents the day the first circus train pulled out of Sarasota. Whole families would gather along the tracks to wave and cheer. Some had members of their family on the train.
Later the train started leaving in the afternoon rather than the morning. The first section left at 5:30 p.m. carrying preliminary/essentials. Among these essentials were personnel and equipment of the cookhouse and dining departments.
The second section of the circus train would leave at 2:00 a.m. Among the cargo of this unit were heavy equipment, wagons with heavy poles and stakes, big top tent, smaller tents and several hundred canvas men.
Andrew "Cannonball" Wilson was foreman of the big top for many years. When dry, the "big top" weighed ten tons; when wet, 100 tons.
Raising the big top is called "pulling the peak." When the big top was guyed out, it was done with a musical chant. J.C. "Tractor" Thomas was a chanter. So was Donald "Toto" Jones for a while. The musical chant was: "HEAVE IT, HEAVY.
SHAKE IT. BREAK IT.
SHEVE IT. GO LONG."
This chant could be heard above the sound of a small airplane.
Pg.129-130, But Your World and My World, Annie M. McElroy, Black South Press, Sarasota, Florida.
It's ALWAYS FISHING TIME
Florida Wildlife Magazine
May 1952 - 15 cents
By Jane Call
Although Sarasota's blue ribbon fishing event is the annual International Tarpon Tournament, Florida's oldest fishing contest, it's always fishin' time in this anglers' paradise on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Visitors and home folks alike enjoy wetting their lines for off-shore, bay, pass, bridge and beach catches.
Mr. and Mrs. "Woody" Jones, young Sarasotans, went on their first fishing excursion in Sarasota Bay one recent Saturday afternoon. Leaving the house with rods and picnic basket, they drove to Midnight Pass Fishing Camp, Siesta Key, where Mae Thorson, one Of the guides, had a boat, loaded with bait, ready for the trip. Woody and his pretty wife, Monie, stored their gear aboard and within a matter of minutes were off for a few hours of enjoyable sport. Being unfamiliar with the tides and the waters, they hired Mae to accompany them.
After dropping anchor at one of the choice fishing spots, Woody baited Monie's hook. Casting her line out, she soon had a strike, the first of the afternoon. Not to be outdone, Woody pulled in a few of his own.
With the beginning of a "catch" tucked away, the Jones' weighed anchor and trolled leisurely to one of the small islands that dot the bay. Here they beached the boat and took time out for their lunch of fried chicken with all the trimmin's, put up by one of. the "take home" centers in Sarasota.
A cigarette for Monie, a pipeful of tobacco for Woody and the rodsters were back to angling.
As the sun began to set, the weary but relaxed "Izaak Waltons" headed back to camp where their catch was weighed in and photographed.
After a lesson from Marty Martel, owner of the camp, Woody took over cleaning the mess Of sheeps' head, red snapper, ladyfish and blue runners.
That evening, as an appropriate climax to a successful trip, Monie fixed a mouth-watering meal of fresh fish and hush-puppies, fit for any gourmet's taste.
Since 1932, (with the exception of the war years, '42 to '45) Sarasota has held three year-round small fish tournaments. Set up under two classifications, Bridge, Bay, Pass and Beach division and Off-shore division, the tourneys are sponsored by the Sarasota County Anglers' Club and are held January 1 through March 31, April 1 through September 30 and October 1 through December 31.
Membership in the Sarasota Anglers' Club is $1.00 and entitles the holder to register his catch in competition for the more than sixty yearly prizes given for the three largest fish of each of the following species: Bluefish, Jack, Flounder, Grouper, Ladyfish, Mangrove Snapper, Cobia, Pompano, Redfish, Snook, Sheepshead, Shark, Speckled, Trout and Spanish (Continued on Page 32)
Mackerel in the Bridge, Bay, Pass and Beach division and Bonita, Mackerel, Dolphin, Amber Jack, Grouper, Jack, Kingfish and Redfish in the Off-shore division.
The fish must be taken with rod and reel. None taken with net, harpoon, spear or similar device may be entered.
Over the years of small fish tournaments, there have been a number of record catches. Among those registered since 1948 are a 47 pound 8ounce Cobia, a 15 pound 12-ounce Jack, a 28 pound Grouper and a 31 pound Kingfish.
Sarasota offers many different kinds of fishing, innumerable places to fish and an abundance of varieties to fish for. It's always fishin' time in Sarasota! -END
2-Sarasota Herald-Tribune Sunday, Dec. 30, 1962
SOME OF THEM 15 YEARS---OLD
School Books Lag Behind
By DON SHOWERMAN .
TALLAHASSEE (AP) Florida's public school children are using textbooks so outdated the hydrogen bomb, polio vaccine and manned space flights are described as visions for the far-of future.
State Schools Supt. Thomas D. Bailey declared bluntly Saturday that a good many of the books in use should be scrapped; they are 15 years old.
He said Florida is spending millions an new school plants and striving to boost teacher salaries for top-notch instructors is shackled to the use of books that are near worthless.
"If we're talking about quality education and wise expenditure of public funds, then it is inconsistent to talk about education television, and teaching machines when we are unable to provide the basic tools-books," Bailey says.
"Last year," he continued, "Florida spent $474.7 million on public education, kindergarten through grade 12, but only $3 million-7/10ths of one per cent -on books. This is not enough,"
The state provides funds to help counties buy school books, and allows each county to select from state-approved books according to its needs.
One book in use boasts that some airplanes have attained a speed of 500 miles an hour; another says a "recent invention, the possibilities of which are only beginning to be realized, is television."
Much material in the outdated books is plainly wrong: a government text pegs the current minimum wage at 75 cents an hour (it has been upped twice, to $1.25), a history book declares Piltdown Man, a relic discovered in 1953, to be a hoax.
The department keeps a list of such inaccuracies to point out the need for new books, and support its pleas for appropriations.
The appropriation for the current two years is $6 million provided out of a request for $9.6
million. The Legislature allocated $5 million each for the 1957-59 and 1959-61 periods, compared to requests for $3.2 and $9.5 million, respectively.
Now the department is preparing a $10.3 million books budget with the hope that the 1963 Legislature won't cut it in two.
Appropriations for books not, only have failed to pace new educational developments, Bailey said, but have not even met burgeoning school enrollment, which increased some 360,000 since 1957.
The apparent indifference stems, Bailey said, from failure of the public and local school authorities to educate lawmakers to he need for new books.
Even when taxes were being raised for school purposes, he said, the book budget did not get its share of the new money. (For t hat matter, although schools provide a politically secure explanation for tax hikes, they normally realize only 30 cents of every dollar of increase, Bailey added.)
The department is opposed to any move to force parents to purchase books for their children. Bailey said when this was the case some years ago, many children had no books, yet they had be permitted in school.
Besides, he points out, this would be a politically unpopular solution. The average student is provided with $16.79 worth of books by the state, which obtains them cheaper than parents could.
Bailey plans a strenuous campaign to inform legislators of the need for modern books, and hopes to enlist the aid of parents and county school authorities.
"No one back home ever tells them (legislators) that they need more money for books," Bailey said. "We believe we'll get it when they realize the need."
ORDERS 18,000 MORE
County Has 150,140 Books On School Inventory List
By SALLY GLENDINNING
Sarasota County has 150,140 state-adopted textbooks on inventory--about 10 textbooks per
child. Many are old and out-moded and these books are used only in part by teachers.
Sarasota County's share of funds allocated for textbook purchase from the state Legislature's appropriation of $6 million for the 1961-63 period comes to $40,000 for the current school year. This year's order of new books includes 10,586 for elementary schools and 7,632 for junior and senior high schools.
Each principal is allotted a sum to "spend" for new books. This sum is based on the school enrollment and on the level of education--junior and senior high school principals receive a higher per-pupil allotment, since books for secondary schools cost more money.
"We will need 4,000 new textbooks next year for the new students alone," Dr. Russell Wiley, county superintendent, said Saturday. "Also we need more books for our science program in the elementary schools.
"It is the State Legislature's responsibility to provide funds for textbooks needed. Even history I and geography books have to be kept up to date and it is obvious that science books have to be new.
Under the $40,000 allotted to Sarasota County this year for the purchase of textbooks, the average allotment per child is about in $2.70. Many of the junior and the senior high school science books cost more than twice this sum.
Last year the county school system spent approximately, $7,000 of its own funds to purchase books, because some of the science and mathematics courses taught here called for more advanced materials than is provided in the books on the regular list.
Dr. Bill Bost, assistant superintendent, has estimated that Sarasota County schools are some five to ten years ahead of the rest of the state in the textbook material used.
The book shortage locally has been avoided to some extent through the use of mimeographed material, Dr. Wiley said.
As for the very old textbooks still in use in many counties in Florida, few such books still have a place on the bookshelves in Sarasota classrooms. More than five years ago-at the beginning of Sputnik and the Space Age-a careful scrutiny was made of the books still in use here. Some dated back to 1927 and were so outdated that they were not even suitable for the school libraries. These books were gradually discarded and given to charitable institutions.
Notice to students, teachers and parents: Some of the language and attitudes in this article may be offensive to present day readers. This newspaper article and its language need to be considered in the context of when it was written.TAMPA MORNING TRIBUNE Thursday, Sept. 27, 1956
Famed Author Raps Sarasota Board On Negro Beach Issue
By WALTER POWERS
Tribune Staff Writer
SARASOTA, Sept. 26, ---McKinlay Kantor, Pulitzer prize winning novelist who lives on Siesta Key, today charged the action of the Sarasota County Commission in refusing to provide Negroes a beach an act of "political and ethical cowardice", and said he will write an article for a national magazine if the commissioners do not rescind their action or resign.
Kantor's charge came in a telegram to Gustin M. Nelson chairman of the county commission.
The board Monday backed town on its promise to a citizens committee it had asked to recommend a site that it would buy a beach on the southern tip of Siesta Key for Negroes. Board members said they were passing the problem to next year's commission.
Kantor, declined to name, the magazine, but said he already had talked with its editor about the story tentatively entitled, Sarasota Cheats Its Black Children."
'Make Most Of It
The noted author said he recognized his statement that he will write the story unless a
beach was provided could be considered backmail, but he told Nelson to "make the most of it."
A lunatic fringe can be stirred up by the NAACP, he said, and there are a lot of "goofy" teenagers around who might easily start some serious trouble. He said "nuts" to those "starry-eyed" Yankees who want integration.
The resentment by persons on the beaches comes from new-comers from the North who come here and seek opportunities to make money and see the Negro beach as a threat to their investment, Kantor said.
The novelist gave reporters a copy of his telegram to Nelson:
" The events of the past several days and the reaction displayed thereto, have convinced me that the majority of civic-minded people of this county feel that a grave injustice has been done in the refusal of the board of county commissioners to act promptly on the question of the Negro beach.
Washed Its Hands
"There can be no purpose reviewing these events in detail. Through parlimentary action and public s t a t e m e n t the present board has literally washed its hands of the responsibilities inherent in its office. The attitude that this burning question can be dealt with only by a new board four months hence is one of political and ethical cowardice."
He said if a beach is to be ready for Negroes next year, work on preparation must be started immediately.
"I have within the past few hours been in conversation with the editor of a national magazine and have arranged to do an article for this magazine, complete with illustrations, tentatively entitled, Sarasota Cheats Its Black Children. This article will be published as soon as expedient and will be read by many millions of Americans.
'Sense of Justice'
"Actuated not by personal spite or resentment, but by what I should like to call a sense of justice and decency, I therefore, as a 20-year resident of Sarasota County, call upon the board of commissioners to do one of the following: (a) Immediately, In special session, reconsider their action of Monday and proceed with every resource at their power to solve this issue here and now. (b) Resign an office the responsibilities of which they are not willing to discharge, and allow a new board of county commissioners to be selected by gubernatorial appointment or whatever other regularly constituted process may then entail.
"If either of these suggested alternatives is promptly acted upon. I shall notify the editor that I am proceeding with the article but that publication must be held up pending the prompt selection, designation and appropriations necessary to this purpose.
"If this be blackmail, then make the most of it. I assure you I was never more serious about anything in my life."
There was no immediate comment from the commissioners.
Visitors' Guide - 1960
Warm Mineral SpringsAmerica's First Quadricentennial Celebration is currently being staged in Sarasota County at Warm Mineral Springs south of Sarasota and Venice on U.S. 41.
The gala historical pageant running through April commemorates over 400 years of history for Florida as a territory under the five flags of Spain, France, England, Confederate and the United States.
Sarasota County lays claim to one of the most historic spots in America at Warm Mineral Springs where Ponce de Leon twice sought the legendary Fountain of Youth in 1513 and 1522.
Then too additional fame is found in the Scotch who settled Sarasota headed by Col. J. H. Gillespie.
The circus becomes the third historical theme. Pioneer John Ringling put Sarasota on the map with his world famous show.
Add them all together and you've got a "little world's fair" with Spanish Conquistadores, historic
cyclorama, giant mural, Indian Village, Hall of Fame, French, British, and Spanish exhibits.
A "must see" for tourists is the exciting Cyclorama depicting the adventures of Ponce de Leon in thrilling third dimension with stereophonic sound and theatrical lighting. The huge masterpiece forms a 220 ft. circle and stands 11 ft. high. An excellent narration by a famous personality provides visitors with a thrilling story on the dashing conquistador Ponce de Leon.
Although the Quadri is billed as an historic pageant the Florida of 1960 is part of the Celebration, with agricultural, tourism and industrial exhibits telling the growth and progress of the State.
Winter visitors returning will not recognize the many changes and additions at Warm Mineral Springs.
Another large section has been added to the ultra modern motel at the entrance on busy U.S. 41. Here will be housed the Spanish Historical Exhibits.
Immediately adjoining the Springs are three large modern buildings erected for the Florida exhibits. A large round building is the permanent home of the Cyclorama.
An authentic Seminole Indian Village designed by Chief Billy Osceola completes the physical layout of the Quadricentennial.
The entire Celebration canters around the amazing 87 degree water of the mineral springs. Thousands of visitors annually take the mineral baths while basking in the warm Florida sunshine. Registered guests in 1958 came from 29 states and 9 foreign countries.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune Wed., Sept. 19, 1962
10 A.M. IN TAMPA
Suit Set Today
The broad desegregation suit against the Board of Public Instruction of Sarasota County is scheduled for trial in U. S. District Court in Tampa at 10 a.m. today.
The suit was filed Oct. 12, 1961, on behalf of seven Negro children by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The suit asks the court to:
1. Prohibit Sarasota County from operating a "compulsory biracial school system."
2. Prohibit the county from maintaining a dual pattern of school zone lines based upon race and color.
3. Prohibit assigning of pupils to schools on the basis of race and color.
4. Prohibit assignment of principals, teachers, and other professional personnel to schools on basis of race and color.
5. Prohibit the county from approving employment contracts, construction programs, policies, curricula and programs designed to perpetuate a segregated school system.
In the event that the five considerations are not met, the suit asks the court to enter a decree directing the county school board to present a complete plan for the reorganization of the entire school system into a unitary, non-racial school system.
Sarasota County moved toward gradual desegregation last year when the Nokomis school was operated as an "integrated situation" with white and Negro students attending classes in different buildings but with a single principal, Dr. Pieter Van Deusen, as head of the school. Also, a white teacher taught during the 1961-62 school year at two Negro schools. Amaryllis Park and Booker Elementary.
The county school board began gradual voluntary desegregation by changing school boundary lines. Negro pupils living outside the boundaries of the Booker complex were scheduled for routine assignment to the formerly all-white schools within whose boundaries they reside.
Shortly before the opening of the 1962 school year, it was decided to limit desegregation for the fall term to the elementary schools. Thirty-eight Negro pupils in grades one through six are currently attending Bay Haven Elementary. Parents of other Negro students in many cases had requested that their children be reassigned to the Booker schools.
The Herald-Tribune Sunday, Nov. 2, 1969 7-E
The Greatest Little
Show On Earth
The lights gradually dim around the expectant crowd until only a spotlight sends a golden beam into the center ring. There is a slow, muffled drum roll as if from far away, that gradually becomes louder until it fills the arena.
The audience sits hushed, keen with excitement but caught cryptic and silent by the drama augmenting before their eyes. It is a performance of the Sarasota Sailor Circus, frequently called "The Greatest Little Show On Earth".
It started under the direction of Bill Rutland when the Sarasota County Board of Public Instruction sponsored this amateur circus. It is composed of junior and senior high school
students from Sarasota County Schools and some elementary school students.
More than 400 students send in applications to join the circus. Of these, 135 to 150 are chosen for the road performances and other shows. The nucleus of these performers comes from a gymnastics program which is sponsored every year by the county.
In order to participate in the circus, students must maintain scholastic eligibility. They must pass four academic subjects during each of the nine week periods.
Participation in the circus is fun, but entails a lot of hard work. The students must be trained and learn to maintain the tent and equipment.
Many of these students have become professional circus performers. Some of the more meant examples are Vicki Unis, Raymond Loyal and Donna Welch who are now with the Ringling Circus and Kay Pittinger who went to Russia recently with the All American Circus and is now with the Ringling Circus.
Sailor Circus is an annual Spring event in Sarasota and is well supported by the community and the state. Ticket sales for performances usually is enough for the circus to meet expenses.
Previously the circus was based on the grounds of Sarasota High School, but this year the Sailor Circus is moving its "big top" trimmed in red, blue and yellow, to nearby Bahia Vista Street.
Also on Bahia Vista Street next to the "big top" is the Sailor Circus' new storage and practice building. This was constructed at a cost of $45,000 which was paid by the Sailor Circus funds and by the Sarasota School Board.
Sailor Circus has grown from local prominence to become nationally known. The circus has appeared in several feature articles in national magazines and was filmed by Warner Bros. studios and several European film companies.
Although an amateur circus, the Sarasota Sailor Circus provides its audiences with all the thrills and chills that make it "The Greatest Little Show On Earth."