Video Library

The Historical Society has professionally produced a series of mini-documentaries about the history of Indian River County and additional videos are always in progress. The Indian River County Historical Society reserves all copyrights to these films.

Enjoy!

Watch The Sebastian Inlet
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Jim Culberson. Former Sebastian Inlet District Commissioner & Inlet Historian:
The history of the Sebastian Inlet is long and complex. The history of the Inlet today as we know it traces back to one man, most likely just about the very first settler in this area name was David Peter Gibson. He came down here first and 1859 the highway was that Lagoon, there was no I-95 there were no roads. There were no overland trails . To get here you had to come by boat. As for as substantiated attempts to open the Sebastian Inlet here. They really began in earnest in well 1872 things began to really get serious in 1905 there was a organization that mounted an effort and actually opened the inlet. Water flowed through the inlet for two weeks. Roy O. Couch more than any other human being was responsible for getting this inlet open. And when he arrived in 1905, he probably witnessed this effort being made to open the inlet and and became interested he was a kind of guy that couldn't take no for an answer. In 1914 he tried but could not get funding for it at that time. And the Hewlett roads bill in 1917 was a effort to make it possible for a taxing district to be created. When the vote was taken here in the county, the north end of the county voted against it. And the south end of the county voted for it and so it didn't happen. Roy Couch continued to lobby for any kind of governmental aid he could. So on May 23 1919, the Sebastian inlet district came into being and with that, it was all systems go, Roy Couch had the six inch suction dredge ready to go. He got Charlie Sembler Senior down here at the site and operations began.

Ruth Stanbridge. Former IRC Commissioner & IRC Historical Society:
The inlet not only provided a way for navigation for the boats to go out, but it was also a recreation area and it became very popular. They would bring Model T's loaded down with lumber and build shanties right along the south shore of the inlet. It was one of the 1933 hurricanes that wiped these little shanties off the map. At the opening of the new decade of 1940. The inlet was doing well, but we had a northeaster and it came down and it began to close the inlet. Then Pearl Harbor happened, they decided to leave it closed, they were concerned about the U boats that were showing up in the Atlantic. We even had a tower that was located on the north side of where the inlet was, we had wargames too, but they were getting ready to go to the Pacific the terrain was more like the Pacific islands that they knew they would have to invade. In 1948. After the war, it was obvious that the inland had to be reopened the economy of the whole area depended on it. And the commissioners at that time have one of them in particular had some connection to be able to get some of the leftover munitions from the war and to open that inlet in a very dramatic way. So once it was opened, it has been maintained since that time until today. By the 50s. They had come up with some very unique and important improvements to the district, the widening and deepening of the inlet, extending the jetties both North and South .In February of 1965 a new bridge was opened over the inlet connecting Brevard County and Indian River County. During the 70s, the state of Florida decided that this Sebastian Inlet area was the perfect place for a state park.

Charlie Sembler. Former Sebastian Inlet District Commissioner & FL State Rep:
The mid 1980s there was a vacancy on the Sebastian Inlet tax district commission and some folks came to me and asked me if I would consider an appointment from then Governor Bob Martinez. The very first vote that I cast was for the first long range planning document to be assembled for any inlet around the state of Florida. We needed someone to follow through and execute the long range management plan we hired an executive director. We also exercised our influence and maximizing and leveraging grants that were available. When we got into that area we really started bringing in the higher education in the scientific institutions, but we put it all together and became in the late 1980s and early 1990s, really, without a doubt the gold standard in the state of Florida and that's where much of the success that you see today. That's when much of it started. Building a brand new northeast jetty that was completely eroded and it was a safety hazard allowed to build offices and infrastructure, water, picnic pavilions out on Sandpoint, rocker vetements that were online, the inside of the inlet. Continued planning for navigational markers on the interior of the flood chill area. And probably the fishing museum and the offices for the park calm were one of the larger items that were done, but we enjoy the spoils of all that hard work today. My great grandfather whom I was named after, he was the first one here, but chances like that usually come once in a lifetime. And I wasn't going to let it get by.

Marty Smithson. Sebastian Inlet District Administrator, 2004-2019:
Well I started in 2004 and it started with a bang because right after I started, I think about three days later was hurricane Jeanne. And then Francis followed right after then we had a new commission that started right immediately following the storms. The new commission in 2004 took on a stance for fiscal responsibility. And so over about a three year period, we reduced our tax rate by 68%. They also believed in cost share with other agencies in the state of Florida DEP cost shared with our projects. I think in 10 years we brought in over $8 million across share also Florida inland navigation district and working with them they helped us with some funding on our channel work and anything that's navigation related. The opening up Sebastian inlet, over the last hundred years is created massive flood shoals from the sand and so this is prime habitat for seagrass, 240 acres of lush seagrass beds. These beds have been damaged by boaters that zigzag back and forth trying to find their way into the inlet. When we completed our navigation channel, mark the channel. This directed the boaters without crossing the grass pits without creating prop scars and dredging up the sensitive seagrass. All in all our economic analysis showed that this inlet is worth about $200 million a year to the local region. We actually deepen and expand our sand trap which is a 42 acre depression in the middle of the inlet about every four years it collects 200,000 cubic yards of sand. By state law we have to take that sand and then transport it and bypass it to the south to make up for any coastal erosion. Today, I would say that we're a very sophisticated inlet because of the approach to science and management. We are the most data rich inland not only in the state of Florida, I believe on the East Coast of the United States. Sebastian inlet is a premier surfing, boating, fishing, sightseeing destination. There's people that come from all over the world to visit this area.

Watch Treasure Coast Historical Film
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Unknown Speaker
Indian River Historical Society Presents: Treasure Coast, A Historical Film. A Nick Verola film. Ruth Stanbridge, Jim Wilson, Terry O ' Toole, Ed Perry, Alan Brech, Bill Black, Kathy Sullivan.

Speaker 1:
In the early morning hours of July 31 1715 on a course from Havana to Spain, a Spanish treasure fleet found itself in a hurricane. Off the coast of present day Vero Beach, Florida 11 of the 12 ships were lost to the sea along with the lives of approximately 1500 sailors and the silver and gold they were transporting to Spain. This tragedy would spark one of the largest salvage and recovery efforts in the history of the world, and would eventually be the reason this area was deemed the Treasure Coast. A small number of sailors survived the storm making camp on shore. Today, that site is where you'll find the McLarty Museum, which houses exhibits on the history of the 1715 fleet, featuring artifacts, displays, and an observation deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Ed Perry:
The real reason why we're known as the Treasure Coast is because of the 1715 Spanish plate fleet. The fleet was sent from Spain to collect jewelry, artifacts, spices and cargo from the New World. And it was on its way back to Spain and just off the coast of Florida when a hurricane came in. Some of the Seas may have been as high as 40 feet the ships were sent skyward coming down their ballasts striking the bottom of the ocean. Many of the ships possibly sank in deeper water. But they were they were hurled or blown shoreward as they broke up. People tried to jump ship escape from the fury of the ocean and ended up drowning. But some did make it to shore some 1500 survivors. There was a group sent to St. Augustine and they walked up the beaches and word got out of the disaster. And help did arrive but it took several months before help came. Conditions were pretty bad for survivors of the shipwreck. They had biting insects, extreme heat, very little freshwater. They would dig what was called the Spanish surface well might go three or four feet down into the ground. And at that time, there was a lens of freshwater that they were able to drink out of these wells and sustain themselves for months as they waited for help and also tried to recover what they could for the king of Spain.

Speaker 1:
The survivors of the 1715 fleet wrecks found they weren't alone on the coast of Florida, a tribe of Native Americans known as the AIS Indians inhabited the coastal regions of the Central Florida. By 1715. The tribe was already acquainted with the Europeans. And the survivors fortunately found a helpful ally in the local natives.

Terry O Toole:
AIS Indians never became dependent on the Spanish whatsoever. And so at some times they were had a good relationship and other times they did not. But I guess in 1715 the best that we can tell is they actually did help the survivors and the salvagers of this area survive while they attempted to recover the treasure of the king of Spain. The ice Indian themselves were hunter gatherers, they did not farm any and they just lived off the land and they lived off of the fish that they can gather and the turtles and the clams and the oysters and they were in this local area going from oh about Stuart or so up towards Cape Canaveral and maybe about as far west as the St. Johns River, they really didn't travel too far inland. And the AIS Indians were the ones that were here in 1715 when the Spanish fleet sank.

Speaker 1:
Archaeologist Alan Breck has been excavating known ice sites for years seeking to expand our knowledge of this lost tribe.

Alan Breck:
The AIS was the name of the tribe that was first encountered by Europeans and of course recorded by Europeans in 1565 here along the Central Coast of Florida. So while it's impossible to say how far back in time the political entity known as the AIS chiefdom, or the tribal entity known as the AIS people, how far back in time that extended we can safely say, based on lifestyle and genetics, that as a people, they were here for 15,000 years or more. We're at Site br 1936. We started working here on March 31 2015. We've excavated the entire three acres of this property, and this is an Indian shellmidden. Midden meaning it's full of the remains and the material items discarded by the people live here, the AIS. It's a shellmidden because most of the items discarded were shells, whereas normally bone would dissolve in the acidic soils of Florida. The fact that this is a shellmidden means that very fine little fish bones are all get preserved. So that's really good for the archaeological record and studying how people live and what their diet was and how it changed over time if it did change. The AIS were resistant to Spanish incursion. In other parts of the new world, people would accept missionaries and they would accept Spanish settlements. And they would adopt Spanish ways, especially in areas that had agriculture. Areas that didn't have agriculture, like where the AIS lived were less interesting to the Spanish because the Spanish needed people that could raise corn for them. The Spanish were less interested in this area economically, the only interest this area had for the Spanish was really it was very close to their shipping lanes, where their treasure ships would would go through the Bahama channel. And on their way back to Spain loaded with treasure. History and archaeology, these are non renewable resources, and they belong to all of us. Now, their our cultural heritage. So once they're compromised, once they're destroyed, they don't come back, and they can't be recreated. The potential information that was there is gone, and it's gone forever. So it's very important. We try to salvage what's left places like this like br 1936 and preserve them and ferret out more information that's contained in these sites.

Speaker 1:
In addition to working to simply survive the harsh conditions of the region following the 1715 fleet disaster, the surviving crew was tasked with salvaging what treasure they could from the wrecks.

Ed Perry:
The Spanish, the King, commanded that they salvage what they could. And they had divers, Pearl divers come from the Caribbean. And they would send divers down to bring up chests of silver chests of gold.

Terry O Toole:
They used to pull it fishing the wrecks. They fish the wrecks and would recover the treasure.

Jim Wilson:
After the 1715 fleet disaster, there were salvage camps set up at each one of the wreck sites. And during that time, of course, the Pirates of the Caribbean that they're in the business of gathering treasure. So they would let the Spanish salvage crews gather up the treasure out of the surf and on the beaches and collect it up and the Pirates would come ashore and they would raid the salvage camps. There are at least a couple of documented cases of that the pirates were here. They definitely had their part in all this and it's part of the fascinating history.

Ed Perry:
There are records in Spain. From the survivors that actually wrote what happened they even had a list of the dead and that's where most of our information comes from today. Those wrecks today dot our coastline from Sebastian inlet down to Fort Pierce, roughly about five or six miles apart. After the four years it kind of got lost lost in history, the sand started to shift things were covered up. And it was real for 250 years in time. And that's when modern day salvagers became interested in the shipwrecks and the term Treasure Coast became a known term to all us modern day Floridians.

Jim Wilson:
They go back to the 1950s and a fellow named Kip Wagner kind of rediscovered it.

Ed Perry:
Kip had moved down and was a general contractor. He built houses in the area of Sebastian and he walked the beaches and looked for pieces of driftwood. But what he found were indeed, Spanish coins. And it was then that Kip put a window in his surfboard, and he paddled out and he saw cannons. And he saw ballasts piles, and he realized that there was a shipwreck right here and these were coins he was finding. And that started the beach coming era of the Treasure Coast. And it's still today, people walk our beaches, they sometimes find silver coins, they sometimes find gold, or other artifacts that have come from the history to happen 300 years ago

Jim Wilson:
With Fip and his searching for the Spanish treasure and forming a Real Eight Corporation, it took off from that. And that's where Mel Fischer himself started working for the Real Eight Corporation. The Real Eight Corporation did a National Geographic article. It was a front page article. And once that came out about all the treasure being found on the Treasure Coast here, a lot of treasure hunters came to find their own treasure. The state of Florida maintains three miles from the shoreline. And so they had to regulate the treasure leases, and you would get a lease from the state and then you would be able to work that lease as long as you were working the lease.

Ed Perry:
We believe there's maybe 12 or 13 ships in the fleet that have sunk and possibly five or six of those ships have been found today by modern day archaeologists and treasure hunters. There is a salvaging network that occurs every summer out here along the Treasure Coast May to September with good weather. We can walk out on the observation deck here at McClarty treasure museum. And we might see modern day salvagers working in the waters right behind the museum.

Jim Wilson:
It's living history. There's many entrepreneurs still out there today trying to find the Queen's jewels that were supposedly on these ships and trying to find other treasure. And every year they find a little bit more another piece to the puzzle.

Bill Black:
I'm Bill Black, I run Search and Salvage and Caribbean treasure salvage. Here in Sebastian, Florida, we are subcontractors to Queens Jewels, the owners of the contract on the leases on May 1715 wrecks. We go out and try to recover history. It's a really great opportunity for for us to recover what was lost so long ago. The 1715 wrecks have been a pretty big part of the Treasure Coast for a long time when you actually hold that thing in your hand that nobody else has touched for at least 304 years. When you find a religious you know a rosary, beautiful choral rosaries found, and you know, that somebody was as the ships were going to ground. Somebody was clutching that metal, and that their rosary and praying that they were they could survive. Those I think are the most emotionally impactful. But silver and gold are really good. It's we found a coin last week that was from 1617 in with corroded to 3 1715 era coins. That's going to be a really interesting story to extract. Why was there a coin 100 years old, you know it's time 98 years old aboard this wreck with somebody's favorite, you know some special keepsake or did it just happen to be in somebody's money pouch when the ships went down. It's going to be an interesting story as we get it to unfold.

Ed Perry:
We have a lot of artifacts inside the Treasure Museum at McClarty Treasure Museum. Some of my favorite artifacts on display come from life aboard ship. I really enjoy the onion bottles. Another one of my favorite artifacts in the museum is a ship's bell, which came up in was brought up by a diver in my time period working at the park and it says on the bell 1705 Glory to God. The cannon on display was brought up from behind the museum by the divers back in the 1970s. The museum in general tells the complete story of the 1715 plate fleet, the history behind it what was aboard ship and what life was like for the Spanish at that at this time period. Here at the McClarty Treasure Museum, the Florida Park Service and the museum staff are very proud to bring you items and relics explaining the history of the 1715 plate fleet why the area's known as the Treasure Coast and we're also happy that this story is still alive and happening here every summer right off our beaches. The treasure diving. It really is a piece of our culture here to Floridians that live in this area the Treasure Coast still offers treasure to those that beach come or walk our beaches.

Bill Black:
When I was 11 years old, I went on a field trip to Vero's Beach and I met Mel Fisher at his office. He took us out on the beach, he pointed South to Reomar. And he told us that's where their treasure hunting right off the beach on a boat. And to me he was like John Wayne and Lloyd Bridges all rolled into one man. Put a great impression on me at a young age inspired me to begin treasure hunting. He showed me where the treasure was and I went searching for it. Shortly thereafter, I was able to get a hold of a used metal detector. And I went out and started looking for treasure and I finally found an eight Rielle on Reomar Beach. And I reached down and touched it. That moment I connected with over that time, 260-270 years of history. And it was a remarkable feeling. And once you do that, for the first time, you're hooked. It's an addiction. It's a love. And that started my quest to learn more about our history on the Treasure Coast and been searching for it ever since. Myself along with many other locals have been treasure hunting here since the 1950s. Myself came in about 69. But together we all love our history, metal detecting and treasure hunting allows us to connect with our history. Over the years I've, during my treasure hunting searches, I found many different artifacts over the years, mostly after big storms. Each time I find a new artifact, I have to research it and figure out what it is that I found what part it played in onboard the ships. On that fateful morning, hundreds of lives were lost along our coast. And each year starting back on the 300th anniversary, I started placing going out to each known wreck site along our coast. And I plant a red rose in the memory and in honor of those people who lost their lives. And I still do it to this year. It's an annual event for me, I usually bring a special friend along and we plant a rose, we say a prayer. And I feel it's important to to commemorate the event each year and I've heard on its anniversary and I think it's a good thing to honor and pay respects to those who lost their lives. The history of the 1715 fleet and it's tragic end has become a part of our culture here on the Treasure Coast. Every time a artifact is found either on the beach or by treasure salvors at the bottom of the ocean, it brings back to life what was lost along our coast so long ago.

Ed Perry:
Event in history that started the Treasure Coast happen 304 years ago in 1715. But today, the story of the Treasure Coast is still alive because divers and beach combers continue to walk our beaches and continue to look in our waters for the history that we were given at this event in time in 1715

Watch Indian River Farms History
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
Indian River Farms Water Control District: A Historical Film, presented by Indian River County Historical Society. A film by Nick Verola featuring Ruth Stanbridge, Marvin Carter, David Gunter, and Robert (Bobby) Lindsey.

Ruth Stanbridge:
The Indian River farms is one of the first land developments in what is now Indian River County. In the early teens this land always underwater but land development was on the minds of a lot of folks from the Midwest, a group of them bought 55,000 acres and commenced to drain the land. And in order to do that, they had to make a series of laterals, and sub laterals, and main canals. And those are the canal systems that we have today that keeps the water from our front door. Marvin Carter is a direct descendant of RD Carter who laid out the canal system and for Indian River farms and surveyed the land.

Marvin Carter:
My Granddad was hired to come down here initially in 1911 to do an engineering assessment of this property that's now in the Indian River farm and border control. My granddad said when they came down here, what's now in the district was 50% was in water six inches to three feet deep. They wanted to know where it can be drained and developed. And he spent some time here and gave them a report that was favorable that can be done and they bought this property 55,000 acres for $3 an acre. People don't realize today, what what these ditches and canals performed for the district. Prior to the establishment of this system most of this company, most of this country was knee deep in water. And well you know, once once the company started selling this property offers various land owners, they realized they needed to maintain the system that was a primary purpose, the district would be formed and it was not formed until about 1919. I often wonder how my granddad would react to what what's accomplished, a big change from the wilderness he came to what it is today. I'm proud of what he did and and made it possible for the modern life that we're we're now enjoying here.

Ruth Stanbridge:
All the water on the land was the major problem and once the canal systems were in place now that alleviated a lot of the water problems. Today we have another problem. We have the pollution that goes into the canals. And so we have stormwater runoff that goes into Indian River Lagoon, and that is a situation that the farms is helping solve today. Robert Lindsey, which is we all call Bobby grew up he is from a farming family. He is very involved with the farms because he knows how valuable it is to protect the watershed of our community and what is needed by the farmers in our community.

Bobby Lindsey:
I'm Bobby Lindsey, been growing sisters here in Indian River County all my life. My great grandfather bought his first citrus acreage in 1928. Going back before that, though, my grandfather and great grandfather who came here in 1904 were in the grocery business. And in 1944 my grandfather sold his last store and took over the job as secretary treasurer of the Indian River farms drainage district. I have also for 35 years served on the Indian River Soil and Water Conservation District. So obviously we've seen a lot of changes. In the early 1900s. There was a lot of row crop farming, potatoes, cabbage were grown in the western part of Indian River County, and then citrus and cattle of course came along sort of simultaneously. As the county experienced more and more growth the district had changes that had to be made an order to attempt to accommodate the blend of both agriculture and urban growth. Over the years in this county we've seen a lot of transition. Indian River farms district has made a lot of effort to keep the canals clean and free of debris and sandbars as possible. At the same time to do that without compromising water quality. We look forward to future growth and we know there will be challenges that come along with that but myself and two other supervisors and secretary treasurer Gunner, I think we're up for the challenge, look forward to it.

Ruth Stanbridge:
We're very fortunate to have David Gunner because he is the superintendent of the farms. His family has been in Florida for four or five generations. And he has been very involved not only in farming, but with the Indian River farms itself.

David Gunner:
I'm David gunner, I'm the superintendent here at the Indian River farms water control district. We maintain 227 miles of canals and ditches in the 54,000 acres that comprise the district. The district was formed in 1919. I am a third generation of farmers who have been associated with this draining system. My grandfather moved here about the time the district was being developed. He started on the board of supervisors for the drainage district in the 40s. My father took his seat from 63 until 87. And I took my father's seat until 2002. When I was hired as superintendent, you can say, I was born into the job. Many years ago, the people were aware of what this country was like before the canals one and nowadays not so much. The people that are new to the county don't realize it without these canals, we'd be walking in water, where we're standing right now the water would be shirt pocket deep. The canals have a excavator or dragline bucket drug through them at least once a year. The problem children you know, they get it two or three times a year. But if you don't stay after the maintenance, it will not function as designed. That's my job finding the bad spot making sure the equipment gets there, gets it dug out. So we're ready for the next big rain event. Today we're using technology that's very similar to what was used to originally excavate the canals in the system. I am proud of my family's involvement in this drainage system and the legacy that that I inherited from them. And I consider it a privilege to work supplying that drainage. And it's important to me, I don't want anyone to have catfish in their living room. We work diligently every day to make sure that doesn't occur,

Ruth Stanbridge:
The history of Indian River farms and through these many years it's something that we should be proud of and especially today because they are still there delivering all the things that they promised 100 years ago.

Watch IR Bridges Historical Short Film
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
Indian River Bridges: A Historical Film. Presented by Indian River Historical Society. A film by Nick Verola featuring Ruth Stanbridge, Janet Walker Anderson, Ellen Pippin Carlsward, Janice Wood Sizelove, and Harry Hurst.

Ruth Stanbridge:
In the early 1900s, the river was our highway, and people began to settle on the barrier island side, which was called Orchid. And, of course, on the mainland side, but there was no way to get in between. So in the early 1920s, they built the first bridge in Vero. And that followed quickly with a bridge at way, which is now Winter Beach. And the third bridge was that Wabasso, so unfortunately, there was no way to get through the channels by the boat. So they had to have a bridge tender. And each bridge had a little house for the bridge tender live with his family, his duty was to open those swing channels for the boats to go through. When we've talked to the children of the bridge tenders. They never realized what a wonderful life experience that was.

Janice Wood Sizelove:
My daddy accepted the job through Merrill Barber, who was a senator at the time, at the Vero Beach Bridge in 1938. So when I was two weeks old, on February the first we moved on to that bridge. And that house actually had two bedrooms, and a living room and a kitchen of sorts, and, and a toilet, not a bathroom. No tub, we use, we took our baths, and a number three if we were lucky number three wash tub. Otherwise, number two, I lived on that bridge until they tore it down. And the first barber bridge was built in 1951. And then my dad requested that he move to the bridge in Wabasso because it had a house on it. And the bridge was at a level where he gets fish off of it. So we moved up there in 1951. And my dad died. still living there in 1965. The bus picked us up right in our door. That was one plus because some kids had to walk to catch the bus. Fishing was my entertainment. I love to go we had a big dock under our house and I went down there and fish and shrimp with my daddy. And I didn't realize how how much I enjoyed it. But now I'd like to go back and do it again. A boat would blow its horn three times a day or night there was no time schedule. And before you open that bridge, and it was the spring, a swing bridge. On the far side of that draw, you had to close that gate so the cars wouldn't run into the river, although some did. And then on the west side, there was a gate so when that boat blew his horn, if we were not in school, we did not dare wait for our daddy to say close the gate. But we heard it we could hear it as good as he did and we've closed the gate. And then when he got through, we knew we had to run across and open that gate so the cars could go. We didn't realize we were special at the time. I mean, that was our home I lived there from the time I was two weeks old. I lived over the water had no yard to play in I had to get permission every time I went outside until my daddy made a lock on the door that we could lift from the inside to open the door. But we just stayed in the house most of the time my poor mother lived with five young uns growing up under her feet and never able to tell them to go outside and play. So it was it was a different experience but it was home. My daddy made us know that we were to be proud of it it was our home

Ellen Pippin Carlsward:
I guess I was about 13 when we moved to a blue fin bridge. What we would call Blue FIn I'd learn where I shouldn't go and I learned how to get in and out of the house. We had a downstairs I found out where that was, where i'd find all the shrimp. And I learned how to open the drawbridge. And if the wind was blowing sometimes it would take two people to open it. One time I remember it, My dad and my brother and myself to their cause of wind was blowing too hard. I feel I was really fortunate to learn as much as I did while I lived on that bridge.

Janet Walker Anderson:
We were here at the Winter Beach bridge I think probably from around 39 to 43. Fishing was the biggest thing over here. Everybody came over here fish. My dad had boats he would rent them out or take them out on parties oromething of that sort. We were always able to stay here and open the bridge for him, unless you turn it too fast. And it would get caught go on the other side of where it was supposed to stop and have to get help to get it to close. We just love that that was just the most fun. We were here during the war, and the Coast Guard would have to come over here and check the boats out. And also all the cars that would go back and forth, to make sure that they didn't have any enemies in them. This was just a wonderful place to grow up. And I really hate the fact that the kids can't know this place like we did. We were just totally blessed. Not being able to live over here and grow up in that time.

Harry Hurst:
I did not live on the bridge, I lived over in Winter Beach. There were three bridges going across the river, and some of those were wooden bridges. And when you ride across, you would hear "clankity clankity clank" and some people were afraid to go cross the bridge because it made noises. At times there were fires on those bridges. Why? Somebody could flick a cigarette on the bridge being dried lumber, it would go on fire. It could have been that maybe some people want a new bridge and thought if they burned the bridge down perhaps the bridge organization would put in a new bridge. And it could be a jealousy factor. Because at one time, there was some jealousy between Winter Beach and Vero because Winter Beach almost became the county seat. And so there was some animosity. So all those factors, speculation they could have been, they might have been we do not know factors. I have a house in Wabasso. I put my bedroom at night before they began to put the bigger region I remember hearing the "toot toot toot" of a boat and you know, that's so interesting. I wonder about the people who are in that mode whenever they're going. It calls your imagination to run a mile for the families who were living on the bridges was demanding because the children played a vital part in the unity of the family. So it's a matter of really unifying unify the family by living on the bridges.

Ruth Stanbridge:
The history of the bridges, the bridge tenders, has been very fascinating. A lot of people don't even know we had bridge tenders in the middle of the river and especially with their own families. So these interviews with the children of the bridge tenders has been very important and only to give us perspective on the lifestyle during those areas. But for the future, we kind of wish for the old Florida where you could go out and live in the middle of the river and fish every day and enjoy Florida.

Watch Hallstrom House and Farmstead on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
Indian River Historical Society Presents Hallstrom House & Farmstead: A Short Film. A Nick Verola film featuring Carolyn Bayless, Ruth Stanbridge, Al Smith, and Janice Sly.

Al Smith:
On the south side of Vero Beach you will find a beautiful old brick home that we refer to as the Hallstrom House and Farmstead. Axel Hallstrom was an immigrant from Sweden. Arriving in the US in 1898. He went to Chicago and worked in a wholesale floors there for a while, he went out to St. Paul, Minnesota, and got a job as a gardener for the JJ Hill estate. He married in 1902, a Swedish girl in Minneapolis. So they had one child in 1904, who was named Ruth. His wife was in ill health, and they moved to Florida in order to be in a warmer climate. The house was located on what is commonly known in this area as the golden ridge. It was a higher altitude than the rest of the county and it was conducive to growth or both pineapples and citrus. We're about 50 yards from the railroad track, and he was able to export and ship all kinds of citrus fruit, what have you, on the railroad. He became very successful in the citrus business until his death. His daughter, Ruth took over the running of the farm and was able to keep it in operation until the late 1980s.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Ruth Hallstrom was a wonderful woman and a wonderful model for all the young ladies in Indian River County. She had been a school teacher, she taught up at the little one room school at Orchid she actually traveled there by boat from the Oslo docks, and would go up the river and teach at the school for a week and then come back home to see her family. She had the first Corvette in the county, she could sew, she played the piano. She was very active in the community. And Ruth was a charter member of the Historical Society when we first started 30 years ago.

Al Smith:
Ruth lived here her entire life, and passed away at the age of 95 in 1999. Upon her death, she left the house with all of its contents, and five acres of land to the Indian River County Historical Society, for it to be preserved as a historical site that people could come and see what life was like in the early 1900s. They left phenomenal records that were packed in boxes and trucks and what have you. That gives us a very accurate and lengthy history of the house.

Carolyn Bayless:
When when Axel was leaving to come to America in 1898, his father took out a pitcher it's called a flow blue pitcher. It was the milk jug that the family had used. It came all the way from Sweden, to New York, to Chicago to Minneapolis, St. Paul, to Viking and ended up here in Indian River County. And we have it here at the house. And the story that Ruth wrote down about this is stuck inside of the pitcher.

Janice Sly:
Upstairs in this home we have a small room called our archive room, where there are thousands of records kept by this family. I'm holding just one notebook, but there are thousands. From these we learn a lot about Sweden for example, in World War Two, because the Swedish relatives would write to Axel and tell him about for example, the shortage of coffee. So Axel would take coffee beans and wrap them into small packages and mail them to Sweden so his relatives would have coffee to drink.

Carolyn Bayless:
Many people don't realize that the Swedish people are the highest per capita coffee drinkers in the world. Twice a day they have coffee breaks, and they are called theek Apos. Morning and afternoon. Coffee is really the Swedish tradition. We spend a lot of time trying to preserve the Swedish traditions that go with the house. And one of the things that we found in the house that Ruth had saved were some Christmas ornaments that came from Sweden. And in researching Christmas in Sweden. It's called St. Lucia day, the Sunday closest we have a celebration of St. Lucia.

Al Smith:
When this house was built it was a very beautiful, elaborate home in this area, something that was not seen around this area that time.

Carolyn Bayless:
Oh, one of the unique things about the the Halstrom house when you first walk in is first of all, it doesn't look like a Florida home at all. It looks like a northern home. He built his house himself. It took over 10 years to build a house. The first thing people notice when they drive up is the beautiful red brick house. The red bricks were made in Georgia and came down on the train.

Al Smith:
It was a real landmark in the county and has been throughout his entire life. And now we're able to visit it in all of its glory and see what life really was like because it has been preserved just as it was when Ruth and Axel lived here in the house.

Carolyn Bayless:
You will see the beautiful ceilings, you will see the beautiful chandeliers. We have linens and tablecloths and dishes that Ruth had. We have her souvenirs from her travels all over the world. We have her clothes through the centuries. So it's so unique when you come here, people who come say I've got to come back because there's always more to see that we don't have time to explain to them and we are just bursting with pride every time a visitor comes in so we can show you and share our love of the house with you.

Al Smith:
The Dosers who volunteer their time here are thrilled to be able to share the story that preceded the building and the living of this house. It is just a real treasure to have here in the county. The Historic Society is very appreciative to the Hallstrom family for this house and the quality of the records that were left so that we could establish the validity of everything here in the house. This is something that we hope will be around a long time for the upcoming generations to see what life was like in their 1930s. It is a just a real treasure to have here in the county.

Ruth Stanbridge:
This year we will be celebrating the hundredth year of this Hallstrom house and what Ruth and her father accomplished and left for future generations.

Watch The War Years
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
The Indian River Historical Society Presents: Vero Beach Historical Series :The War Years". A Nick Verola film featuring Ruth Stanbridge, Alma Carney and Bump Holman, Rody Johnson, Wally Skicism and Stan Tippin, Charles Macconnell, and Tony Young .

Speaker 1:
On December 7 1941 Japan got first and declared war afterwards, costly to our Navy was the law of war vessels. But more costly to Japan was the effectiveness of its fall attack in immediately unifying America in its determination to fight and win the war thrust upon it, and to win the peace that will follow.

Ruth Stanbridge:
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the whole world erupted. Our whole country was going to war, a World War.

Stan Tippin:
World War Two did unite this country. Everyone was was totally involved in supporting troops

Bump Holman:
When the war was starting. And we had a runway, you know, it brought a lot of activity here. And everybody figured, well, the Army's gonna move in. But all of a sudden the navy blue into town overnight.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Within a year after Pearl Harbor, the Navy had already come into Vero Beach and it was now that Vero Beach Naval Air Station.

Wally Skicism:
Well, when I came to vero, when I first saw it, I was ready to get on the train, and go back to work I came from, there were more people at the airbase than there were in the whole town.

Ruth Stanbridge:
United States was not used to being at war and so the planes that they had for the young man to train on, were very old planes are very new planes. And sometimes it didn't go so well.

Stan Tippin:
While I lived on storm road and navy planes were going over constantly. A number of times, I remember riding around at night with my father, there would be one of the planes would crash and the Navy would drop these flares on parachutes. And they would set the woods on fire so that they could look for the the crash airplanes. One Buccaneer SP 2A crashed just north of Star Grove, and I remember running through the woods and seeing the plane sitting there and the pilot was standing there and the plane was in one piece except the engine was laying off to the side because it threw the engine but he wasn't hurt. But there's a second crash near the grove, which is stuck with me a lot more and that was his helldiver lost power and did a beautiful belly landing. He hit a big pine stop that he couldn't see was there. The pilot and his gunner didn't get out of the airplane, they perished right there. Would have been a routine crash landing except for that big stump they hit. And it was such a sad tale. But that was really vivid in my mind.

Ruth Stanbridge:
There was all different types of planes out there and there were all different types of pilots that were being trained. And one of the most important part was the night fighters.

Alma Carney:
My husband to be was training here for three months. He did have a story that while strafing for submarines right off shore, the altimeter said he had like 1000 feet, but all of a sudden he hits the water and he had on his Mae West and inflated he also had a little blow up dingy type thing with wooden paddles, that because the planes couldn't see him he could see them and he got so frustrated he took these wooden paddles and paddled to shore. The plane went down very near what today is JC beach.

Stan Tippin:
Their main purpose at Vero Beach Naval Air Station was to train for dive bombing and they went out into Blue Cypress Lake and built these big wooden platforms. And they carried the small practice bombs with a shotgun shell affair in the nose, oh, and in the back was full of flour, something something white. And if the bomb hit the target, or should blow the white powder out the back of this little bomb and leave a big white spot on the on the target. There were, I guess, thousands of them at the bottom of Blue Cypress Lake like probably still thousands of them there.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Vero Beach had one of these training programs for photography, and it was very important to the war effort.

Wally Skicism:
Well, I was trained to be an aerial photographer here in Vero. In fact, I made a aerial map of Vero Beach after we go through flying our mission over Vero Beach. It was sent to Washington,

Ruth Stanbridge:
Aerial photography, being a new state of the art during World War Two. This had never been done before and it was such an advantage. And World War Two, the women did not get the credit that they deserve for the war effort. They were the ones behind the scenes, they were the ones who made things run smoothly as these men had to train to go off to fight the battles. There were no exceptions here in Vero either because we've had both the men and the women that worked at the Naval Air Station.

Stan Tippin:
The public didn't know a whole lot about what was going on. The government couldn't afford to tell everybody but Vero Beach played a major role in the war effort. And when it was all over, then you look back and say I didn't really realize what was going on up here.

Wally Skicism:
All our training was right here. Vero Beach has been a special place. I spent most of my Navy life right here in Vero.

Ruth Stanbridge:
As we look back over the war years, we realize how very important it was for small communities and small areas like Vero Beach, that train these young men and women that went off to war.

Speaker 1:
America goes to war. Men of the Army, Navy and Marines reinforced the battlefronts to save the homes and ideals of free men from AXIS domination.

Ruth Stanbridge:
While the Navy was training at the Vero Beach Naval Station, the Army and the Coast Guard was patrolling not only the river, but the beach area.

Stan Tippin:
Few people remember that in those days a US Army head guards posted at the bridge, you didn't have free access across to the beach. During the war had to have a pass to use the bridge.

Ruth Stanbridge:
The army was very concerned about our shoreline. To counteract any of the invasion forces that they were expecting, they started a spotter program to watch the shoreline and the horizon for u boats, for planes for any military that might invade the Florida beaches.

Charles Macconnell:
My Dad he would volunteer in a degree he would man the spotting towers that were erected along the coast. He had poor eyesight. So he convinced the army to induct me, and I would be his eyes. So the army would come and pick us up at night and take us over to the tower to beach. And we'd man that all night we would log in every everything we saw. Then daylight would come the Army would come in our truck and take me to school. We were being invaded by the Germans right here in Vero Beach. And we were the frontline. Although their invasion wasn't to come on land, but they invade us by sinking the ship and they actually captured German sub. And onboard that submarine they found bread from the local Bell bakeries in Florida. They found theater ticket stubs from the local theater in Florida, where they had come ashore. Even if you didn't know the war was that close to home, everybody had to sacrifice.

Ruth Stanbridge:
The U-boats proved to be very destructive. They attacked the merchant mariners. They attack any boats for ships that were in the Gulf Stream and they sank them and the local folks through the programs that were put on by the Coast Guard in the army, were able to go out and actually rescue the sailors and bring them to shore.

Rudy Johnson:
Hitler sent six U-boats from the Mediterranean to the east coast of the United States immediately after Pearl Harbor over a nine month period in 1942, U-boats sunk something like 400 ships in US waters. They were active off New York, off Cape Hatteras, off Cape Canaveral, and indeed, close by here in Vero. And the Coast Guard recruited all over the East Coast, people who had boats and they just sent them off shore. And my father was one of those, he began, I think, probably in February of 1942. Going off every night, he had a 33 foot fishing boat called the kitces. Adi Roach went with him most of the time, otherwise, he would drive through town on an afternoon and holler, anybody want to go off shore, and a couple of people would volunteer and they'd go, of course, they did not realize what they were going towards. Then one evening, May 5th 1942, they were offshore. And shortly after midnight, and they saw flares, rising off the beach, they headed in that direction. Within an hour, they came on a lifeboat. That was packed with 22 survivors. That night, they were attacked by U-boat 333. commanded by Peter Kramer. He had another experience where in July of 1942, north of here off of Banana River Naval Air Station, they were in a boat and ran into three German U-boats sitting side by side on a roach. As the story goes said, I'm not going to be captured and go back to Germany, I'm jumping overboard, where my dad said, No, I think you'd better stay with the boat. And of course, all they could do is turn the boat and head for the beach. And, of course, the U-boats were not interested in having a run in with with small fishing boat. So they disappeared in the darkness. But it was an experience.

From writing the book. I discovered that my father was a hero, he didn't think he was a hero, none of those people did. I mean, it was just the natural thing to do. They were doing what they could to help the war effort, Until I wrote this book and people started reading this, my God, we didn't realize that they did not know. Even the people of that generation and certainly the people of later generations did not know that there was a war going on, a Naval War right off this coast.

Ruth Stanbridge:
As we look out over the ocean, it's hard to believe that just a few decades ago, they were Nazi U-boats prowling the Gulf Stream right off our shores. The war was won and the Allies had defeated the Nazis and Japan. But we did not forget. Our community banded together to create a memorial island to honor those that had fallen during World War Two.

Anthony W. Young:
What's important to remember is the men and women that served and sacrificed their lives in order to make our country free. If you visit Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary, you will have the same feeling that you have if you visit Arlington Cemetery in Washington, DC. It's hallowed ground. And it's hallowed because of the memory of all of the men that have served our country and women. And it's it's a living legacy to the people that are here today. Three years ago, was the 50th anniversary for Memorial Island. I know without a doubt, 50 years from now, people will come and say this place is sacred.

Ruth Stanbridge:
As a historian It is very important to remember our history and especially of World War Two. Lest we forget this could happen again. So we need to always be vigilant and always on guard.

Watch The Dodgers
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
The Indian River Historical Society presents: Vero Beach Historical Series, Episode 4: "The Dodgers". A Nick Verola film featuring Ruth Stanbridge, Peter O'Malley, "Bump" Holman, Craig Callan, Ransom Jackson.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Speaking about the history of Indian River County and Vero Beach, it'd be hard pressed to separate our town's legacy from that of the Dodgers. Their organization played a major role in our community in our town, from the 40s until today.

Harry "Bump" Holman:
My dad had all these buildings and all this property and everything and didn't know what to do with it. And my mother came up with idea "why don't you think about bringing a baseball club in here?" He said, Well, who has the biggest organization? Well, they say, well, the Dodgers do so my dad got the airline went up, introduced himself to Branch Rickey, Walter O'Malley

Craig Callan:
It's 1948 and Jackie Robinson just trying to break into baseball. Walter O'Malley and Branch Rickey had the vision of having Jackie play and we were looking for a home where all players of all colors could work, play sleep, and practice together and they made a stop in Vero Beach and met Bud Holman and they never left to Vero Beach. He was such a good host, and such a good salesman that he sold the Dodgers on this is the place to be to break the color barrier in baseball. The Dodgers brought 600 ballplayers to Vero Beach when the population was only 3000. So the impact of the Dodgers was one player per five residents.

Ruth Stanbridge:
This point in our history, segregation was prominent in our everyday life. And also in the sports world.

Peter O'Malley:
The Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson. And in those days, Florida was segregated, spring training camps were segregated. So being able to take over the facilities that remained from the Navy, where everyone would be housed for the first time it was the first integrated spring training camp in the state of Florida. That was a big thing. And again, it brought us together that the players realize that we were all in this together we're teammates whether they were from here or there and it worked.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Being all together on this small campus playing together living together was reflected in how there came dead and and the many years that they won the World Series championships,

Ransom Jackson:
I went into the major leagues in 1950 with the Chicago Cubs. And then I was traded to the to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. Of course I was excited as I can be, my gosh I always wanted to play in a World Series. They were like a family really. And that's one of the reasons they won, but they'll say we're like a family. Of course they were just great, great people and they welcomed me. In one day I was Brooklyn Dodger.

Peter O'Malley:
When the barracks were torn down, and the current rooms were built. Several of the players started the campaign bringing back the barracks. And it was the darndest thing because in our hearts we really had outlived the barracks and the barracks had outlived us. And here's a spontaneous movement. We missed the barracks. We want the barracks back. Well, of course the barracks weren't coming back. But I say that because it demonstrated the affection that everyone had for experiencing living in those barracks.

Ruth Stanbridge:
This campus atmosphere brought everyone together under one banner, regardless of their race. They were part of the team, the Dodgers

Peter O'Malley:
In 1958. The Dodgers leaving the ark they go to California, and many people thought that we would leave Vero Beach. But as I said earlier, my parents had fallen in love with Vero Beach, many wonderful friends, the Holmens, the Cargans, the Schumanns, to this day longtime friends and my parents and myself later on so there's no way we will not leave Vero Beach even though the team is playing in California.

Craig Callan:
Once the the Dodgers under different ownership decided to move to Arizona. The facility was shuttered by Indian River County. We reopened the facility in 2009 and spent a few years trying to find an identity. Eventually Peter, his sister Terry, and two good friends of theirs Chan, Ho Park and Hideo Nomo, formed a partnership to save historic Dodgertown. And our goal was to keep history alive. And the only way to do so was not to just rely on baseball, but on all sports

Peter O'Malley:
That was about four or five years ago. And now we're overflowing Dodgertown, year round, not just in the spring, but summer fall all year round. And I know it's appreciated by the community that we're bringing a lot of business here because of all these different sports that come to train at historic Dodgertown.

Craig Callan:
Looking back at the history of Dodgertown, and all that has been accomplished over the years, that's what makes me extremely proud. The love affair between the Dodgers and Vero Beach are is unique. There's no there's never been a major league team or a big league team like the Dodgers that have had a facility in such a small town.

Peter O'Malley:
For many years, Vero Beach was a very special place for my parents, myself, my sister and her family and now our grandchildren.

Ruth Stanbridge:
As a historian, I think is very important that we remembered that a lot of the things in our history starts with small innovative practices and the Dodgers were the ones who brought the campus concept to us and they also brought introducing the African Americans into the sports world, the legacy that they left for this community, this town and our county. We should be very, very proud of.

Watch Old Vero Man Dig
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
Indian River Historical Society Presents: The Old Vero Man Dig. A Nick Verola film featuring Randy Old, Andy Hemmings, Dann Jacobus. Filmed on location in Vero Beach, Florida.

Randy Old:
The excavation point here at Vero Man was originally discovered in 100 years ago, in 1913/1914. The original analysis said that man was here about 13,000 years ago, and the scientific community said humans were not in the US before 7000 years ago, the rest of the scientific community didn't think that it was analyzed correctly. So what we needed to do is have the best people available to make sure that our conclusions were accepted by the scientific community. And that's where Dr. Adam Fazio and Andy Hemmings were so important to our effort.

Andy Hemmings:
In 1915, the very idea that human beings had arrived in the New World before the extinction of all those interesting animals that we find here, let alone that they were here in the Ice Age was very controversial. In the end, the findings here added to the controversy without exactly resolving it. And that's in fact, why we're here today.

Randy Old:
The old ferry for humans coming to the United States supposedly came through the Bering Straits, and they would have had to scamper between Alaska and here, and they they migration doesn't take place that way. The idea of everybody coming over the Bering Straits is now in question. And there must have been several different routes at several different times to people to us. And this site could shed light on a lot of that.

Andy Hemmings:
What we're finding today, not only augments what sellers thought a century ago that namely human beings were here in Vero Beach, let alone anywhere else in the New World, not only when did they get here, but how did they make a living? How did they survive, and in fact, thrive on that rather alien Pleistocene landscape? What we have behind us, in part answers some of those kinds of questions, we have what appears to be a bison kill, intermixed with a number of other animals being exploited locally, and even some marine resources represented by teeth of shark and drum fish. These are animals that are being carried in 30 miles away from the from the ocean at that time. And in a time when sea levels more than 300 feet lower. It's a very different proposition. And it's really seems to be telling us people are here at a very early date. If what we're finding turns out to be true it doesn't just inform us something interesting and novel about Vero Beach, or even Florida. It tells us something about the human condition that was really never seen before. And it's very exciting to all of us.

Dann Jacobus:
All of this began, it began with people that local people that weren't scientists, they had an interest in this stuff. And they started looking for it and found it. Vero is the kind of place where if you put a shovel in the ground, you're probably going to find something and a lot of people did just that they would be putting in a rosebush or planting a tree. And there was a bone. And you know, it's like, what is this? And it's just that kind of thinking is what brought this and sparked the interest that we have today that people are still bringing things to us. I can remember back finding my first fossil and I said, Wow, I just I can't, I can't believe what this is. And I could imagine the excitement, someone picking up a bone something like this in their backyard or wherever they're walking and having the same thrill. Look at this. This is something that walked around 10,000 years ago.

Randy Old:
This is the largest excavation on the east coast by far, and one of the most meticulous. So we're very proud of the way it's come out. We've talked to about 20,000 people that is through talks and gatherings, open houses and fundraisers. We've had about 1500 volunteers here. So it's been really been a community effort.

Andy Hemmings:
All of us involved in the project have really poured our hearts and souls into it. We love what we do. And some of it's frustrating some of its very tedious and not particularly rewarding. Right now we're at a point where every three days, we're finding more information, more new things than we did, really in the first three seasons of excavation. The rate at which we're finding new material and finding out new information is rather staggering. It's wonderful. We're all exhausted. We're dying. But couldn't be happier about what's going on.

Randy Old:
Archeologists say it's not what you find, it's what you find out. This excavation has brought to light a great deal about Florida that was not known before. A lot of the the hundred and 50 or so animals that came out of this, we're not known to be here. And the climate change issues that we're discovering, were not known. So we are going to be teaching people a great deal about the state that they know the state that they've lived in with new ideas and new thoughts. People are going to look back at this and say this is the start of really unfolding what was going on in Florida.

Andy Hemmings:
Good information, good data has no use by date. The things that sellers found a century ago, the things that we're finding today, somebody in a century is going to look back and go, Oh, thank goodness, they collected those little drips of pitch, the little broken shark's teeth, or drum teeth or garr teeth. I hope that what we do and what we've done here continues to inspire people to open their minds and to further their own education, not just going and getting PhDs, but to learn more about the environment around them, and what things used to be like

Watch Bridges on YouTube

Video Transcript

Ruth Stanbridge:
In the early 1900s, they built the first bridge in Vero and that followed quickly with a bridge at way, which is now Winter Beach. And the third bridge was that Wabasso. There was no way to get through the channels by the boat so they had to have a bridge tender and each bridge had a little house for the bridge tender live with his family.

Harry Hurst:
The children played a vital part in the unity of the family.

Janice Wood Sizelove:
My daddy accepted the job in 1938. My daddy made us know that we were to be proud of it. It was our home

Ruth Stanbridge:
I guess how I was about thirteen when we moved to that old bridge. I feel I was really fortunate to learn as much as I did while I lived on that bridge

Janet Walker Anderson:
We were here at the Winter Beach bridge. Fishing was the biggest thing over here. Everybody came over here fish. This was just a wonderful place to grow up.

Harry Hurst:
I remember hearing the "toot toot toot" of the boat. I wonder about the people who have to wonder where they're going. It caused your imagination to run wild.

Ruth Stanbridge:
We kinda wish for the old Florida where you could go out and live in the middle of the river and fish every day and enjoyed Florida.

Watch IRCHS Mosquitos Film
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
Indian River Historical Society presents Mosquitos: A Historical Film. A Nick Verola film with Ruth Stanbridge, featuring John Beidler, Doug Carlson, Jonathan Day , and Janice Broda.

John Biedler:
My family had a small house on the beach at New Smyrna. But one of the things that we would do, we would play making handprints and to make a handprint, you're inside and you put your hand up against the screen and left it there for a couple, three or four minutes, and then took it away. And you'd have an imprint of your hand of mosquitoes trying to bite you through there. That's how bad they were. And that was the same all the way up and down the coast of Florida both sides. Gives you an idea of what everybody was faced with. If you didn't have mosquito control, you just didn't have development. The mosquito control actually began with a man named Will Fee in St. Lucie County, there were really very few ways that you could control mosquitoes efficiently at that time until DDT was developed. And it worked like a charm, the Navy who had a big installation here, training pilots and navigators and that sort of thing. Were able to get DDT, they rigged up some of their planes as sprayers and sprayed the base and found that it works so well and that they sprayed the entire county with it. But after a while the mosquitoes begin to become resistant to it. So they switch to another one of the same type of insecticides. When I arrived in 1955, one of the problems that I faced was wasn't anything you could put in your airplane or your fog truck or whatever, that would kill the mosquitoes. Early 50s, the state board of health director, a Mr. Mel runnin, he went to the legislature and had a bill passed that gave each county a matching fund of 75% of what the county spent, when it had to be for what was then called permanent control. Ditching of the marshes in a proper way. We learned another technique called diking and flooding. They also use dredges to fill the marshes make high ground below ground, that sort of thing. And that was that was the beginning of modern mosquito control in Florida. At the same time, with the same money. They established a laboratory to study the biology of mosquitoes.

Jonathan Day:
My name is Jonathan Day. I'm a professor emeritus at the Florida medical entomology laboratory, which is a research laboratory. So so at our facility, we have a number of different programmatic areas, people working on mosquito infection rates in mosquito transmission rates. They raise mosquito so we have mosquito colonies. Probably one of the most important things in our lab is that the lab actually began as a field lab where there were large field projects that that were done. So we have an impoundment down at the lab. We have a lot of people that are doing surveys mosquito survey so light traps are being hung, all sorts of different traps are being evaluated in the field. My area of research has focused on mosquito borne diseases, and factors that result in human outbreaks of disease and whether those outbreaks can be predicted. Malaria was a huge problem in Florida in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Yellow Fever was a major issue in the port cities of Florida. Lots of human deaths, cities were abandoned. St. Louis encephalitis first appeared in Florida in 1952 in Miami, so the first three epidemics were urban, in 1977. We had our first rural epidemic where it was, it was spread all over the central part of the state. And the interesting factor there is that the index case and the index case is the first human case reported was from Fellsmere in Indian River County. The introduction of West Nile in 2001 played a really important role in the horse industry, like dangi is dengie and Zika. And then finally, chicken ganja is a is a virus that is transmitted and pretty much the same way that Zika and dangi are transmitted. Our main interest is predicting large human epidemics, well in advance of human cases. And so every year the clock starts over again, we look for climatological freezes. Is there a freeze, we look for rainfall patterns we look for at avian populations. And then we track the mosquito populations. We want to know the age structure of the mosquito population. We want to know the numbers, the abundance, the distribution of those mosquito populations. And then finally, we track the virus. And so there are a number of different ways of tracking the virus. One of the most important is Sentinel chickens. Sentinel chickens are chickens that are placed in the field. a blood sample is drawn once a week. If the chicken had been bitten by a mosquito that was infected with West Nile, Eastern equine encephalitis, or St. Louis encephalitis, antibody will be producing we can tell. So we know where the bird was infected, and we know roughly when it was infected. And then we use that information to alert mosquito control and public health, about the potential of human cases. And from then on, it really becomes a mosquito control issue and a public health issue.

Doug Carlson:
My name is Doug Carlson. I'm the director of the Indian River mosquito control district. I think it's fair to say that virtually all mosquito control programs, whether they be in Florida, the United States or worldwide use an integrated pest management approach. And one of the components of that is where possible to be using source reduction, which is also known as permanent control. These mosquitoes lay their eggs on moist soil, but not on standing water. So if you put even a bit of water over the marsh surface, in the summertime, there's no place for these mosquitoes to lay their eggs, making for very effective and economic control. Once we got into the 1970s the management of these impoundments was criticized by some of the environmental agencies. The environmental concern at the time was that we had interfered with the flow of water between the marsh and the lagoon. And even though it did a good job in controlling mosquitoes, not everyone was happy about it. The arguments between these two factions, so to speak out rather heated in this was in the late 70s, early 1980s. And at the time, Governor Graham who later became a US Senator, he encouraged everyone to get together, sit down at a table talk about these problems. And let's come up with some solutions. Two committees were formed which remained to this day. One is called the Florida Coordinating Council on mosquito control. And the other is the Subcommittee on managed marshes something that I've been involved in for many years. And really, it was a matter of getting all of the players so to speak together to talk about their interest and their concerns. And how can we arrive at some common ground in management and the answer to that was to take these impoundments which had earthen dikes around them, to install culverts with water construct control structures to allow them to be seasonally reconnected between the lagoon and the marsh, and mosquito control then close this these culverts floods the marshes in the summer and then opens them for the remainder of the year, which allows for many not all but many of the natural Marsh functions to occur. About 40,000 acres of impoundments were created along the Indian River Lagoon, it has had a very big impact on the area, making it more habitable, and it is one part of an integrated pest management approach. I think it's fair to say that many people who move to this area or too many parts of Florida now don't appreciate the impact that mosquito control has had on making the state of Florida more habitable and pleasant to live in.

Janice Broda:
My name is James Prada. I've served as an elected commissioner of the Indian River mosquito control district since 1992. The changes I've seen have been dramatic . First in the technology that's available for mosquito control, the treatment of the marsh is much more limited. And that allows to apply the larvicide to the least amount of area, thereby saving the taxpayers money and reducing the load of bio rational pesticides applied to the marshes along the Indian River Lagoon. And that's a dramatic change. Since 1992 I've seen lots less mosquitoes now. I often talk with people who've just arrived and think the mosquitoes are horrible and atrocious, but they don't have a historical perspective. It's all about balance and compromise. So the Indian River mosquito control district, based on research from Florida medical entomology lab has a long and storied legacy of trying to do the best for public health and the best for the environment.

Watch Jungle Trail Short Film
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
Indian River Historical Society presents Jungle Trail: A Historical Short. A Nick Verola production featuring Ruth Stanbridge, Anne Michael, Alden Bing, Bob Deniger, Dale & Matilde Sorensen, Steve Massey, Mary Massey Fredeli, Allison Mcneal, Wendy Swindell, and Bill Miller.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Many folks do not realize the importance of Jungle Trail in our history and in Indian River County's future. We're coming up on the centennial of jungle trail. It's 97 years old today. And we have families that live along that trail that were there at the very beginning.

Anne Michael:
My husband was Joseph W. Michael, who grew up here. His father came at the age of 10 with his parents and siblings in 1887. At this point in history, there were probably no more than five, possibly six families living within a five to six mile radius. What became jungle trail was the easiest way for one family to get to another family to visit. They of course, went by foot and they went by horse, and they may have gone by buggy, and they probably used a wagon now and then and then later, as their trips were more frequent there became a little dirt trail, which eventually became a wider dirt trail. This little dirt trail became known as Jungle Trail, Jungle Trail was drastically different. The area was drastically different. Life was drastically different. There was nothing here except a lot of mosquitoes, a great quantity of fish in the river, and turtles at the ocean. It was old Florida. The people who live here were definitely pioneers in the most intense sense of the word pioneers. As the county grew, the area grew, of course, more people for different reasons were using jungle trail, it would not be terribly unusual to see some residents, some tourists, some citrus people using jungle trail all in the same day.

Ruth Stanbridge:
A lot of people do not realize how we have such a bit of old Florida so close to our population centers. But everyone seems to enjoy jungle trail and its natural beauty.

Alden Bing:
Our breweries called Orchid Island Brewery, that's the landmass that we're on it stretches from Sebastian Inlet to Round Island. Jungle Trail is one of the names that we've picked for one of our beers. Jungle Trail is a very special place. And one of the neat things about Jungle Trail that did inspire this beer was that before there was houses here, there was citrus groves, and Jungle Trail was used to take the fruit off of the islands. And it's just a really special beer to us and we're proud to have named it Jungle Trail. One of the first ideas that that always occurs when we have people that we care about coming into town is driving them up and down Jungle Trail. It's such a neat, neat experience.

Steve Massey:
My cousin and I grew up here all of our lives and that was the only way we could actually get up to the inlet, go over to the Wabasso Beach and swim and then we'd come back along the Jungle Trail there and there were some springs and stuff and we use those to rinse off before we went home and then we didn't have to use so much water at the house.

Mary Massey Fredell:
I have a lot of early memories from Jungle Trail going driving up to the inlet with my dad and you would go on Jungle Trail and then you would get out on where A1A is now and we'd always get stuck two or three times going back and forth, but they'd always managed to dig you out, you get going again. But you know what, there was no A1A there then so it was like an adventure when you want on that road because it curved around so much, you know, and there was so much like vegetation and old oak trees with big orchids and stuff thrown in there. And it was just a neattrip. And that was a special trip because it took a long time back in the day to get from, you know, from our house up to the inlet.

Steve Massey:
There were a lot of fishing shacks. And there was a treasure house that they used to sell things there and that and we used to go down there and Milton Jones was a good friend of my dad's and my uncles. And we'd go down there and visit him and his wife and his mother lived there also on the same property

Ruth Stanbridge:
Of the many people who lived along the trail at the very beginning Jones's pier and Richard Jones stands out in everybody's memory. Richard grew all sorts of vegetables and sold them at Jones's Pier. He also docked many boats there. And people enjoyed coming and just sitting in talking to Richard about the history of the area. And he could tell some pretty tall tales too

Steve Massey:
He had big groves in the back of his house. And he would go out there and boats would pull up, just like they did for the citrus houses, that along US1, the boats would pull up, and they buy their fruit from him out there on that dock, and then move on down the river and go to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, or whatever. And a lot of those boats were big, big yacht type things. And he also charged I think it was 25 cents or 50 cents for us to for some people who didn't have access to the water to go fishing on his dock.

Dale Sorensen:
And 1964 there was really very little on Jungle Trail. There was Mr. Jones and his fruit stand and his house and his dog and his crew.

Matilde Sorensen:
Every time I had clients, I would take them there. And Mary was swinging in a little front porch. And he would come right out and then show all of them, you know, mangoes, avocados, you know, grapefruit like red grapefruit and he would cut them up to taste them and then we will buy bags of them. I would just that was part of my tour when I was showing property and bureau many years ago. It was fun. It was like really old Florida

Dale Sorensen:
Most of the community, Mr. Jones and his fruit and his dog were pretty famous.

Alden Bing:
Some of my earliest memories of Jungle Trail were when old man Jones was still operating. I think he operated the house here and it's groves and the dock here all the way into his 80s. And when I was growing up, my family and I and family friends would spend a lot of time right here on the river. In fact, right this water right here out in front of this is where I first learned how to water ski. I always remember old man Jones right here on this Pier. he would he would open his doors, anybody who was driving through and he would sit down and just talk about whatever anybody wanted to talk about.

Bob Deniger:
Me and Mr. Jones. I'll never forget it. He was one interesting man. And many times my former deceased wife now and I ridden this Jungle Trail and stopped and had wonderful encounters with Mr. Jones. And he just seemed to be so caring. I remember one thing about i was i was really amused how he put out the water for the dogs. He always had a jug of water out there and they can fill a pan for all the people walking dogs down here. There's no doubt about he was a lovable character. But I'll never forget talking to Mr. Jones on Jungle Trail.

Ruth Stanbridge:
There's many aspects of Jungle Trail and one of them. One is very important is the fact that it is an entry to our first National Wildlife Refuge. That's Pelican Island.

Bill Miller:
So Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was the first refuge established in the national waterproofing system established actually by Teddy Roosevelt back in 1903. And as you take a tour Pelican Island, you can see this history clearly. When you walk through Centennial trail, you get to a point on our observation deck where every refuge is etched the deck and the planks leading up to the deck itself. The deck itself then overlooks Pelican Island, so you get the full experience. There are over at anytime during the season during the height of the birding season, which is the winter season, over 1000 birds will find their way to Pelican Island, over 30 bird species will nest there. It's critical for these birds to have the sanctuary in place and it's right here in Indian River Lagoon at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Wendy Swindell:
Jungle Trail is really important to our conservation efforts because we have many conservation areas right along Jungle Trail that are linked by the trail itself and the history of the trail. And the working waterfront and all those aspects are really important to these conservation areas because we really are trying to link the history of Indian River County with the ecology and our restoration efforts. One of our main missions is to try and work with the schools and other educational groups to try and make sure that the future generations understand the significance of the trail. So the county is really excited. We're all engaged and we look forward to what opportunities we can put out there for the public in the future.

Ruth Stanbridge:
There was a time about 30 years ago who we all had to band together all the nonprofit's, the historical societies, and the preservation groups had to band together to save Jungle Trail. And one of those groups was the Pelican Allen Preservation Society which has done a wonderful job of helping us preserve and protect and promote Pelican Island.

Steve Massey:
Well, Pelican Island Preservation Society is a I'm president of that group. And we basically just try to help the refuge up there with certain things we raise money and help them up there on the refuge itself.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Jungle trail is listed on the National Register and that is very hard to come by. There's very few roads in the United States that are on that register. That is one of the reasons jungle trail is so important to our tourism and the people visiting our county.

Allison Mcneal:
Jungle Trail has played an important role in the history of Indian River County for years. It was important to citrus growers, also to our local fishermen. It was the lifeblood of our economy back in the 20s and 30s. So fast forwarding to present now it takes on a new important role and that role is tourism and recreation. It's off the beaten path location makes it the perfect spot for biking, hiking, fishing. Jungle Trail is a great way for our visitors to explore what old Florida was. There's so few sites that actually exist to this day. And it's important that we have one break here in Indian River County.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Over the years we've had to protect Jungle Trail from developers and different folks who wanted it abandoned. We all felt that it was a part of old Florida that should be saved. And Indian River County has always cooperated with us because it is a county road and has always been a county road. Just recently Indian River County, erected new signage. We're very excited about the new signage we have filled that after 97 years, Jungle Trail needs to be recognized as a special place in a Indian River County.

Anne Michael:
When the term Jungle Trail comes into my mind, it immediately takes me back to early Florida history and more particularly to early Indian River County history. Not only do my children and grandchildren deserve to keep jungle trail in their lives ahead, but everyone else's do as well. Residents, visitors, everyone!

Alden Bing:
Being originally from Vero and from Florida, I'm a Florida native. I've gotten around to see a whole lot of the state. And within my lifetime, I've seen a lot of changes along the way. And fortunately, Jungle Trail is still one of those spots in Florida that resembles a glimmer into the past and what old Florida used to be that this is truly one of our natural treasures that we need to protect. I knew very early on that this was a very special place not just geographically because of how pretty it is around here, but it's had such a major impact on who our community has become. And I think it's important for us to stop and recognize why we need to protect it. It's a very special place and protected into the future for for more generations to to experience it.

Bill Miller:
Pelican Island and Jungle Trail will be established and around for many generations to come. So that not only do we get to share in the experience in Jungle Trail in Pelican Island, but future generations do as well. Jungle Trail and Pelican Island are part of our history and part of who we are as a community,

Steve Massey:
Jungle Trail is really a, it's a great thing for all of us to have known. And thank goodness that the Historical Society and people like that knew that back in the old days, that you know, we needed to preserve and protect that road and keep it you know, was keep it as it is. So we're very lucky that has happened all of our lives.

Mary Massey Fredell:
Jungle Trail will always mean a lot to me. It's very unique. There's not many places like it left in this world.

Allison Mcneal:
As the director of tourism for Indian River County. I'm so proud to see how our community has grown and our businesses have grown and flourished. But it's so important to preserve these historical sites that are so important to our community.

Ruth Stanbridge:
Jungle trail is a little bit of old Florida still with us and we expect and hope that future generations will enjoy it as much as we have

Watch History of Old Gifford High School on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
Indian River Historical Society presents Gifford High School: A Historical Film. A Nick Verola film featuring Jonnie Mae Perry, Geoffrey Gibson, Dr. Eddie Hudson, Clayton Broxton, John Thornton, Katherine Washington, Dr. A. Ronald Hudson, Gifford Community Cultural & Resource Center, and Gifford High School Alumni & Friends.

Jonnie Mae Perry:
In the 1930s there was a man named Mr. Jeffries, who owned a general store in Gifford, and he donated land for school for blind children, because they had nowhere to go to school. The building that is now Gifford Middle School was previously Gifford High School

Clayton Broxton:
Classroom on this side, classroom on that side, and a hallway down the middle, and a water fountain was an old console.

Dr. A Ronald Hudson:
I think there must have been about 150 or 175 students in the entire school, but it was exciting.

Dr. Eddie Hudson:
Back then all of the grades were in that one building, and it was grades one through 12.

Dr. A Ronald Hudson:
Everybody, you know, was far below the poverty line, but nobody knew it.

Geoffrey Gibson:
There were no schoolbuses for us to walk. So that helped keep our weight down, because you walk every place you went. We were all taught that we had to be self reliant. But the experiences that I had here was that we were always told, we could be whatever we want it to be if you work hard enough.

Dr. A Ronald Hudson:
Most of the people, the adults, at that time, worked in some form of agriculture, my dad worked all his life in the in the groves, in the citrus grove. I had eight siblings, and my dad never made over $5 a day all of his life. It played a role in me deciding that there must be something else for me to do rather than what my dad had been doing all his life. I just knew that education was an important part of it.

Katherine Washington:
I came to Gifford in 1957. My mom was home economics teacher here at Giffords High School. Working my way up, I graduated from Gifford in 1964. We were a close knit family I can say here at Gifford High School. I remember every day starting the day with prayer, songs.

Jonnie Mae Perry:
No one in the community thought or knew that we were poor. Because we were treated like kings and queens at Gifford High School. I often think of the statement "it takes a village" and Gifford it had a village that raised their youth and their children in the community.

Geoffrey Gibson:
I remember this community where everybody helps everybody. We left our doors open. And no matter whether you came to school with peanut butter and jelly, or ham sandwich or whatever, if someone didn't have something to eat, we all shared.

John Thornton:
I just I cherish all the years coming through Gifford High School first grade through through 12th grade matriculating the grounds on this campus. And I must say that I had some of the best teachers.

Dr. Eddie Hudson:
When our parents set us to school, they knew that they were sending us to caring people. For what we had we took advantage of it and did what we could for it to make us to be very successful.

Clayton Broxton:
Both men a great deal. It made me a tough guy. I believe the day that if you play if you if you are an athlete and you quit the sport you'll quit in life. They now have a gym. We didn't have a gym, we've had an outdoor court, we went out cut down pine tree to make the posts to hold our basketball backboard up. We had the first, played on the first football team that this school had.

Geoffrey Gibson:
Our equipment when I played football was two dummies is that we tied to some pine trees, and that's how we learned how to block. But we beat a lot of teams

John Thornton:
We were always competitive in and we were always champions. And that was and that that was a testament from how we were coached back in the years. I was the draft choice of the Chicago Bulls in 1972 coming right out of Gifford. Who would have thought that at a young boy from from Gifford would even have an opportunity.

Dr. A Ronald Hudson:
We had heard that Jackie Robinson was going to be part of the Dodger baseball team. Finally, a black person is going to be on a major baseball team. We walked the railroad track over to Dodgertown and people were coming in on buses and all over the I mean, they were just, I mean, all over. I mean, this was just amazing for us. You didn't see crowds like that. Those are exciting times. You know, it gave us a little hope. We were inspired by the fact that hopefully, things are getting better.

Jonnie Mae Perry:
The last graduating class from Gifford High School was 1969. And after that time, integration was a part of the community and the students were bused to Vero Beach High School and other various elementary schools throughout the county. One of the precious gifts that was left to Gifford High School was when the class of 1964 a sundial was planted as a graduating gift. And this February we would dedicate that sundown as the historic marker for the restoration department of the state of Florida. So yes, the young people in the community and new residents will know that there was indeed a Gifford High School.

Katherine Washington:
John B. Whit the principal of Vero Beach High School interviewed me for the 68-69 school year, and I was hired as the first African American teacher in vocational Home Economics at Vero Beach High School. And I think that we were one of the first counties in the state of Florida that had a smooth transition into integration

John Thornton:
When I pass by the school, and it brings back fond memories of my my days here, Gifford high school.

Dr. A Ronald Hudson:
I was fortunate to teach at Gifford High School, then 1965 Sam Hunter, he became my principal, he was the principal of Gifford High School until we integrated and that was in 1969. Sam came with some innovative ideas. He was quite an inspiration involved in not only the Gifford community, but Indian River County in so many different ways. We had some very bright students, we had doctors, lawyers, you name it. Those students have done very, very well.

Jonnie Mae Perry:
When we had Gifford High School, we had a heart in this community. And over the years, we have lost the heart of the Gifford community. One way we are putting the heart back into our community is to open a Gifford historic museum. Gifford historic museum will serve as an inspiration not only from the past, but where we can go and my hope is that every child that walked through these doors, go out into the future and realize that there is unlimited potential for them to achieve their dream and beyond and know that there are no limits.

Watch History of the Vero Beach Airport
on YouTube

Video Transcript

Opening Credits:
The Indian River Historical Society presents Vero Beach Historical Series Episode One: Vero Beach Regional Airport. A Nick Verola film featuring Ruth Stanbridge, Alma Carney, Erison W. Menger, and Harry R. "Bump" Holman.

Ruth Stanbridge:
This is a story of a little airport that grew in 1928 there was only 100 acres of land deemed to be for the Vero Beach Airport and we needed an airport manager and Mr. Holman, Bump Holman was the one that was chosen and he went right to work.

Harry "Bump" Holman:
The airport here as far as I'm concerned was just wide open land really undeveloped. The thing that really broke it loose was my dad got a fuel tank from up in Daytona from a guy he knew up there he brought the fuel tank down here. So Eastern Airlines, which was Eastern Transport flying mail, up and down the east coast, from Jacksonville to Miami. And when he got the fuel tank and brought it down here that meant the airline had to stop here in Vero because there wasn't any place else because he had the fuel. So that put zero on the map was Jacksonville Vero Miami.

Ruth Stanbridge:
In 1932 Eastern started passenger service. And we were the smallest little airport in the state that had the Eastern Silver fleet. In 1935, the Army Air Corps, General Hap Arnold decided they would actually have war games in Vero Beach, this hundred acres now had over 200 planes playing war games.

Harry "Bump" Holman:
The army wanted to make a show of how strong they were. So my dad said, Well, why don't choose leave from Vero Beach? And they said, Oh, we have to have paved runways and my dad says yeah, I know, why don't you pave our runways for us. When the war was starting and we had a paved runway you know that brought a lot of activity here. But all of a sudden the Navy blue in the town overnight, and they had the place in just this blink of an eye the Navy took over. So that's how we became a Naval Air Station.

Ruth Stanbridge:
In 1941. after Pearl Harbor, our community was only about 8900 people. And now we had a full fledge facility. They brought in the young man to do night training to send them off to war.

Alma Carney:
World War Two does a lot of changing of our world as well as Vero Beach, and certainly this little airport. My husband to be was training here for three months during the war before we even met. But there were like about 10 barracks for the men, because it was at least 1000 men that were here. And one wooden barracks for the women wives. But it was a big part of his life. So we were delighted to have been part of Vero's beginning through the rest of his life has had a lot of meaning to him.

Ruth Stanbridge:
After the war, the Navy handed over all the buildings and this improved airfield to the City of Vero Beach. The Navy had built a huge terminal three storeys high framed during the war years. And now we needed a new terminal which was considered very modern.

Ericson W. Menger:
When the city of Vero Beach was deeded the property from the Federal Government after World War Two, the city of Vero Beach was interested in seeking some businesses that would come and operate and take some of the land that you know that the Navy left us in order to create a revenue stream to maintain the actual airfield.

Harry "Bump" Holman:
My dad had all these buildings and all this property and everything and what to do with it? And my mother came up with ideas of why don't you think about bringing a baseball club in here. Well my dad didn't already know first base from second base. He said, "Well, who has the biggest organization?" "Well" they say, "well, the Dodgers do" my dad said, "get me an appointment with them in Brooklyn". So he talked the Dodgers into coming here just practically overnight

Ruth Stanbridge:
City of Vero Beach entered a new era in the airport development when the Dodgers came to town

Harry "Bump" Holman:
Had such a tremendous bigorganization 500 or 600 people and really, really brought to town to live.

Ericson W. Menger:
After the the Dodgers business arrangement came Piper. Piper actually came on to the airport in 1957. And they were also able to purchase some of the airport property and they've been here in Vero Beach since 1957. And following that came a third large business entity which was Flight Safety International and Flight Safety started business here in 1966. With all the activity that came with the business development at the airport in the 50s 60s, and into the 70s, we needed to have an air traffic control tower and actually the first air traffic control tower at Vero Beach Airport was built in 1973 and was in operations as for for 30 years. And then in 2003, of course, we we built with a Federal Aviation funding the air traffic control tower that is currently at Vero Beach Airport. And it wasn't until 2015 that commercial airline service returned to Vero Beach airport with the arrival of Elite Airways

Ruth Stanbridge:
This little airport that grew and grew and grew and today we have a very modern facility with a brand new airline.

Harry "Bump" Holman:
My family home was only about three or four blocks down the street here so I kind of grew up out here. I think back to what was here before, which here now just seems impossible.

Ericson W. Menger:
As airport director, it's really been an incredible journey for me and my staff to see the Vero Beach Regional Airport be as successful as it is and it's going to be really exciting to see what the 21st century will hold for Vero Beach Regional Airport.

Ruth Stanbridge:
As a Historian often you don't find a story that begins like this one. I see a very exciting future for this little airport that has grown and grown.

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