emphatically said) to the Diamond and Tanger Food Market. He always
had to hurry his return because he didn’t want to miss catching the
last ferry of the day back to Gasparilla.
If he did miss the boat, Harry would park his loaded truck first in
line to board the ferry next morning. He would leave the key in the
ignition so that the ferryman could drive it aboard. Then he would
hike back up to the train trestle, and walk all the way across to the
island - in the dark! He still had four miles of island to walk to get to
his apartment behind the store. The next morning (very early) he
would retrieve his grocery-loaded truck which the ferryman had
parked for him.
This arduous schedule was considerably eased after the bridge was
The “season” for many of the earlier northern residents began after
Christmas and ended by the end of March. It was the custom of some
of Harry’s affluent patrons to sign the slips for their weekly (or daily)
purchases for Sarah Futch Tucker, the obliging and helpful cashier, then
pay their grocery bill after returning north for the summer, Harry’s
careful bookkeeper, typing out seemingly endless lists of three or four
months’ worth of items to be totaled and mailed north to a customer’s
office. It must have made Harry’s cash flow a nightmare.
I should also mention Marie, Harry’s attractive wife, who, as a young
woman, had come down from New England to work at the Big Hotel.
She made the marriage a real partnership and her congenial manner
was a great asset in dealing with customers. Our warm friendship with
Harry and Marie is now more than half a century old!
Besides his business, Harry was very interested in photography and
astronomy. His telescope was often set up in back of the store. The
Whiddens now live in the Jacksonville area, with son Harry Jr. nearby.
One of the pleasant things the
teenagers enjoyed doing during
their short Spring Break in the
1950’s was to gather at the
Temptation restaurant before
cocktail hours. Dora and Homer
Addison owned the “Temp” at
that time. The main attraction
was Dora Addison’s piano playing,
often accompanied on a
homemade “gutbucket” bass by a
young sailor who was stationed
at the Coast Guard quarters
down by the Boca Grande lighthouse.
He constructed the instrument
by connecting a bass G-string to
the center of a large turned-upside
down galvanized washtub. A
broom handle, conveniently cut
to the proper length, had a
groove made on one end to fit
on the washtub rim, and the Gstring
was attached to the other.
It took some talent to apply the
right pressure to the stick and
pluck the string so the required
“notes” could be achieved, and
the resulting combo was the
perfect accompaniment to energetic
dancing by the young folks!
The soft lights reflecting on Deo
Weymouth’s murals (very new at
that time) created a charming
Dora always called an immediate
halt to the festivities when the
adult customers began to arrive
and shooed the dancers out. Mrs.
Pickman and her attractive daughters,
C.Z. Cochrane and Nancy,
November/December 2017 GASPARILLA ISLAND 51