HISTORY The story of the udderly wonderful Gasparilla Compiled by Marcy Shortuse Island Dairy Photos from Boca Beacon archives and from the Boca Grande Historical Society If it is true that the voices of Boca Grande’s past still carry through the air, the south end of the island might very well be filled with the sound of “moooo” if you listen closely enough. That is where the island’s one and only dairy farm, The Gasparilla Island Dairy, used to be located between 1926 and 1953. The dairy provided milk to the residents of Gasparilla Island and to incoming ships at port. Phillip Bell, born in 1930, grew up near Boca Grande's dairy on the south end of the island. He worked at the dairy as a young man and entertained many at a History Bytes lecture years ago by telling the story of bovine days gone by. "Mr. Guerard, he delivered the milk himself," said Bell. "It went to all the subscribers on the island and to some of the ships that were in port. A lot of the ships, they spent weeks crossing the Atlantic, so it was the first fresh milk they had had in a while. YMS360, a minesweeper in World War II, was docked at the port for the better part of a year. They would go out and release lifeboats and watch how they reacted to currents and wind, that kind of thing. They were learning everything they could about them, to help rescue pilots who were shot down over the Pacific. Most of them were fresh out of high school, and they melded right in with the community." One of the sailors was a young man from New York City, and his curiosity drew him to The dairy operated between the Power House and the phosphate storage bins.
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