The following poem was written by Sarah Pouncey Peach Clark, and has
become an icon symbolizing old-time Boca Grande living ...
I love Boca Grande as it is today, but I wish I
could take you on a trip back in time, just for a day
or two. Since a “real” trip isn't possible, will you
let me share with you all the things I wish?
I wish I could ride the ferryboat Catherine with
my granddad, Captain W. C. Sprott again.
I wish I could go to Grande Impressions and find
it was Crumbley's Grocery.
I wish I could buy a chocolate ice-cream soda at
Fugate's and a ticket to Tampa in the Loose
I wish Crowninshield's Estate was still intact and
I could go there on Christmas Eve with my Girl
Scout leaders, Margaret Fugate and Betty Jo
Thompson, to sing Christmas Carols to Mrs.
Crowninshield and be invited in for hot chocolate
I wish the guide boats were still moored in front
of the Pink Elephant and I could see all of the old
guides again, George Knight, George Capling, J. D.
Riggs, Coram Lanier, Lonnie, Nat and Shug Futch,
Ed Lowe, Jim Willis, Mack Mickle and my dad, Roy
I wish the Community Center was still my
school and I could play in the bottle band and be
a part of another piano recital on stage.
I wish I could attend another Sunrise Easter
Service sitting on the bleachers of the outside
basketball court and hear the “Colored” choir sing,
“Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
I wish my friend Joyce McKeithen still lived in
the lighthouse at South Boca Grande and we could
sit up in the light and do our homework together.
I wish I could go to the Community House on a
Friday night and listen to the jukebox playing,
“Don't Fence Me In,” or dance there again at my
high school Prom, and I would want Jennie Davis
there as “our chaperone.”
I wish I could go to The Palm and find it was the
Post Office again, or to the Barnichol and find it
was Gaines’ Garage and I could watch Ernest
Gaines working on an old car. I wish I could go to
Parsley-Baldwin Real Estate and find it was the
Barber Shop again with Barber Lane cutting my
uncle Troy Speer's hair.
I wish I could go to the Temptation and listen to
Dora Addison playing the piano, or to the Kozy
Kitchen and have a hamburger, or to the Pink
Elephant and have Forest Stover mix me a “Shirley
I wish I could ride my bicycle to Gasparilla and
find the Charlotte County portion of the road still
deep sand but with a fish house and an IGA store
at the end.
I wish I could row across to Cole Island and visit
my friend Bertha Lee Hampton who lived in the
I wish I could ride the school bus to LaBelle for
a basketball game and walk the railroad trestle late
at night to get home.
I wish I could go to PJ's and sit on the first row
to watch a Roy Rogers movie and eat roasted
peanuts that I had bought from Murdock.
I wish I could see Murdock again, riding his
bicycle with his pet monkey on the back, and buy
one of his mosquito switches to use everywhere
I went in the summer because we had not heard
about Mosquito Control.
I wish I could stand under the tap of the rainwater
tank to shampoo my hair or just to cool off
because we had not heard of air conditioning
I wish the elevator at the Gasparilla Inn was still
manually operated so I could have my old job as
I wish Archie Gardner was still the Head
Bellman so he could bring me cream puffs from
the dining room after everyone had finished
I wish I could have another 10th birthday party
on the porch of the Palm Hotel or a 16th birthday
at the “Narrows.”
I wish I could take a Sunday evening ride in Aunt
Nellie Sprott's old Buick piled high with as many
island kids as she could stuff in there and then on
to her house for homemade ice cream.
I wish the Boca Grande Hotel were still there,
but I guess I wouldn't want to go through the 1944
hurricane again within its shelter ...
I do wish, though, that every child in the world
could have a childhood as full of happy memories
as mine was and I wish all of the people who went
out of their way to be so good to me could
understand how much I appreciated it then and
now. I was not particularly easy to love but they
did it anyway.