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Laurence (Red) Hall and I bought Jim Coarsey’s house, a small house used for fishing with his family and friends on an unnamed street in 1970. Jim had health problems and believed he would not be coming to Boca Grande again. Fortunately he asked Red if he wanted to purchase the house. We bought it quickly. We already loved Boca Grande. Back to Damfino. In the early 1970s Bernie Arenas, a general contractor from Tampa, was building a house for three families who lived in Tampa. The building in Boca Grande was on the same unnamed street. Most of the material came from Tampa by truck. Arenas wanted to give directions and the name of the street to the truck drivers for easy delivery. There were no street signs on the three streets south of First Street on East Railroad Avenue. To help solve the problem Arenas looked for Ted Bylaska. He had known Ted previously. Ted had lived in Boca Grande for many years and knew the island well, and was very respected as a fishing guide. He asked Ted about the street name and his answer was “damn if I know.” Later that day Arenas asked several old-timers who were workers in the business area about the name of the street and received no answer, or the standard answer. After his efforts he decided to put a cardboard sign up saying “Damn-if-i-know.” This was soon stolen. Charles Downing, who lived on the street near the sign, put up several signs. As each was stolen Charles replaced it. Each one was an improvement on the other. Later, Bruce Robbins had one put at the corner with the name “Dam-if-i-know.” The last marker was again placed there by Downing and made with a cement post and cement base under the ground. It is standing today ... named Damfino. We do not know the history of the other two street signs that bear the names Damficare and Dam-if-i-will. One is on the north of Damfino and the other on the south. Where else in the world would you find something like this? Only in Boca Grande. January/February • 2017 • GASPARILLA ISLAND 43 Author’s note: You have to look closely to find the old cement marker, as it has been overgrown with trees and vines ... but you can find it if you look. Dammit. G M


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