in Wini’s words ...
written in 2014
T"It is an island with two lighthouses..." hat remark caught my attention.
It was 1975, opening day for my
exhibit of Maine lighthouses in
Northeast Harbor, Maine. The guest
who said that had worked at The Gasparilla
Inn in Boca Grande, Florida. She
then expounded on the beauty of the
island. The next year, in March, during a
business trip to Tampa, I rented a car to
see this magical island. It took all afternoon
to drive there on Tamiami Trail
(Route 41), the only highway at the
I had to gape when I crossed the
bridge to the island. What beautiful water. It was a
luscious aqua green and men were out in small boats
setting fish nets. Fish jumped high out of the water.
Campers had tents set up on the island between the
bridge which was called Cole Key (I later learned).
After the last bridge I saw a lone condo building, but
then only one house until I reached about 18th
The Inn was full but I was able to find a room
at a motel. The town seemed very small and a bit
seedy, I thought. A railroad ran through the
middle of the town's center. A large shed stood
along the tracks, formerly the freight station, I
guessed. The depot was boarded up and shabby
looking with peeling paint. Grass grew up in the
cracks in the sidewalk and was high in empty lots
and along the railroad tracks. But the town was
charming ... just what would inspire an artist!
I was glad to find a gas station to fill my rental
car. Actually the town was quite complete with a
few restaurants, a post office, a drug store, a hardware
store and an ample grocery market.
To find the lighthouses, I continued south of
First Street through a long stretch of uninhabited
area of thick growth that included cabbage palms,
Brazilian peppers, briars and sea grapes. The