As Thanksgiving and the Naples Season rapidly approaches us, I smile when I reflect upon almost 43 years of living in the City of Naples. I was thinking about how Naples began for me and the many changes that have occurred since I moved here in July of 1973.
Friends are constantly telling me that someday I should write a book about my experiences in Naples and my answer is always the same. There have been enough books written about Naples and maybe I will when I have nothing else to do, which I hope is a long way down the road.
Perhaps some of my most vivid memories of early Naples were the things that most of us couldn’t imagine today unless you were or are from a very small village or town. Some of them were: Walking in to Publix and knowing every person who was shopping there and stopping to chat with them for a minute. All businesses except for the bank and the supermarket closed on Wednesday afternoons so people could play golf, or tennis, or walk on the beach or take a nap, it didn’t matter what you did. Walking into the Bank of Naples on Fifth Avenue South and seeing that wonderful lady whose name was Mamie Tooke who was the president of the bank sitting with her desk in the middle of the lobby so she could see and greet every person that walked through the door and ask about how they were and how was their family which of course she knew every member of. The Mosquito Controls DC3’s flying about 500 feet over your house at first light and scaring every stranger in Naples half to death. I could walk the Naples beach and never see another person. Only two fine dining restaurants in Naples, Picadilly Pub and Saint George and the Dragon. U.S. 41 was two lanes, along with Alligator Alley and Airport Road. Park Shore didn’t exist.
I can remember the excitement of being the youngest Council member ever elected in 1984 at the ripe old age of 44. My fellow Council members had all finished their business careers and treated me like I was one of their grandchildren. One of my first suggestions as a new Council member was to ask the Mosquito Control to stop spraying early in the morning especially since the school kids including my own were walking to the bus stop or riding their bikes to school and I can tell you that stuff they were spraying was definitely not environmentally friendly! I was thrilled to get unanimous support from my fellow Council members and the Mosquito Control adjusted their spraying timetable. They were memorable years, for sure!
Here is a quote that could have been written yesterday: “He said that in his opinion Naples had always been progressive and that he knew it had to grow. However, he said that after watching other Florida communities grow Topsy-Turvy he has been, and is too vitally interested in seeing that Naples growth is controlled and well planned. Anyone interested in a city who plans to raise his family here he commented should
by all means contribute to the development of the city he selected to live in of which he is proud. However he added it is becoming more difficult to get dedicated people to run for office and thereby subject themselves to politics and public abuse. It seems he said that when elected to office these days everyone automatically assumes that official is a crook.” That article was written by City of Naples Mayor Archie Turner on January 25th, 1968 and appeared in the Naples Star. I always smile when I read that.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday!