Hyde Bay Logo Herbert Pickett's Family History
Florida

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      In 1936 at the Thanksgiving gathering, Grandpa invited us to visit him in St. Petersburg, Florida. We had a good car, roads were improved, and we had the two weeks vacation, why not? As soon as I got home from New Haven and Gilman closed, we piled into the Plymouth and took off. We found tourist cabins all along the route or local hotels. The first place we stopped in Florida was St. Augustine. We stayed in an old hotel on the green, and had a marvelous sea food dinner. The charm of the old city was great. The next day was the 24th, and we drove to Lake Wales. After registering in a local hotel, we went up to the Bok tower for the Christmas concert. Beginning about 11:15, the bells began ringing from the carillon. It was a beautiful moon lit night. The music was Christmas carols, and at midnight they played "O Holy Night." It was just beautiful, even if the locals shot off firecrackers nearby. The next day, we headed for St. Pete, as the locals called it. When we crossed the bridge from Tampa, there were elegant street lamps, curbing, streets heading off every few hundred feet, all laid out for residential development. The light posts had no lamps and there were no side streets. It was several miles to the city. This was the remnant of the great Florida boom and bust of the 20's. Anyway, we soon found Grandpa's little cottage. It was so small ion fact we kids had to be parceled out with neighbors. I remember being on a cot in the garage next door.

      Anyway, Grandpa, in his enthusiastic way, showed us all over the city, the big public pier, and the other features. St. Pete then was so much a retired people's town I used to joke that any one under 65 had to have a license to stay more than a week. There was a "Three Quarters of a Century Club" which was the goal of all men to achieve. Grandpa made it the winter before he died, two years later. We went over to the gulf for swimming. We had been in the Atlantic, and found the Gulf of Mexico colder. Eventually, we got home in good order.

      Dad wrote a complete story of this trip for the interest of the rest of the family. It is an illustration of his philosophy or life style. A book Sally and I read once said there are three ways of facing life. It is either a treadmill, saga, or a pilgrimage. The saga or epic way takes the story of an individual or family through hardships and challenges to a heroic and poetic end. It seems to me Dad's stories have this epic quality. I have one of his sagas of a Florida trip, but can't find it just now.

      We went to Florida every Christmas through 1940. 1937 was the last time we went to St. Pete. Grandpa was recovering from surgery and fighting cancer, from which he died that summer. After visiting him briefly, we drove south on the West Coast to Naples. The next morning, we got up before sunrise and started over the Tamiami trail through the Everglades. The ditches along the road were filled with thousands of birds, mostly white. We didn't know the names then, but there must have been egrets, herons, spoonbills, and others. Naturalists have told me that you cannot see that kind of sight any more as the bird population has been radically reduced. It was awesome. We visited a college friend of Mothers on Miami Beach, which was mostly bare except for the skeletons of Florida boom hotels. Going further north a hundred or more miles we found a cabin court, named "Surf Cottages," on the beach at Juno, where we stayed until our journey home began. We liked it so much we made it our destination for all pre-war trips. It was right on the ocean, and almost no other houses around. When we had a mobile home in Hobe Sound fifty years later, we drove down that road again. The site now has a four story hotel and is surrounded completely by cottages and condominiums.

      In 1939, George Chandlee came down by train, and we picked him up at the Cocoa station. We then drove out to Cocoa Beach, which had only two buildings, a small hotel and a house built of driftwood. One problem was that the addition of a sixth person in the Plymouth was too much, and it broke a spring. We went for a swim, and then spent the night in the hotel. Cocoa Beach is only a few miles south of Cape Canaveral and it is now a city and resort related to the space center. We went on down to the Surf Cottages at Juno Beach and spent the rest of our time there. Aunt Grace had given us a Christmas present of $20 with which to do something special. We went down to Lake Worth and found fishing boat, which would take us out in the Gulf Stream for a half day for $15.00, providing all tackle and bait. We caught five king mackerel. We kept the largest and had the restaurant at the cottages cook it for us, and we had a feast. The next year we went out with the same boat, but didn't catch as much. A sailfish struck my bait. Sailfish first stun their quarry with their bill, then eat it. Hence, the necessary tactic is to let the reel run with the strike, then set the hook when the fish bites. I forgot that and yanked the rod with the first strike, and lost the fish, whose sail was above the water, clearly visible. 1940 was the last trip all together as Pearl Harbor happened the next December. On that trip, I kept a record of expenses, a total of $232.00. After the war, Mom and Dad went to Florida every December until Dad died, staying at Pompano Beach.

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