The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 17 - February 8, 2012


100 Years of Cortez
Carol Whitmore

Soupy Davis plays the mandolin at
a music festival in Cortez.

CORTEZ – "Finest kind."

They may be the most frequently spoken words in the fishing village of Cortez over the past 100 years, as in, "How's the fishing?"

"Finest kind."

"How's that mullet smoked?"

"Finest kind."

"How was the fishing festival this year?"

"Finest kind."

It's a quirky phrase, like just about everything and everyone in Cortez.

In Cortez, everybody who's anybody has a nickname – Goose, Blue, Jap, Tink, Boogie, Gator, Snooks.

Even the village's name is eccentric – the U.S. Postal Service named it for a Spanish explorer of the 15th century, whose first name was Hernando, but not the one who actually came ashore in nearby Bradenton, Hernando De Soto.

Like some of the creatures swimming near its shores, Cortez is an endangered species, a commercial fishing village fighting to stay that way, come hell or high water.

Hell takes a couple of forms.

The village's bayfront property has attracted a series of optimistic developers that residents have fended off like Hemingway's old man trying to save his catch from the shark.

Once, a developer told Karen Bell, office manager of A.P. Bell Fish Co., that he wanted to build a series of shops along the waterfront in the style of a fishing village.

No thanks, it's already a fishing village, she snapped, and by the way, there's the road out of town.

Regulators are not as easily chased off, and have relegated much of the Cortez fishing industry into the history books with the net ban in 1995, the longline ban in 2010 and catch limits and size limits that recently landed one Cortez fisherman in jail for 30 days.

Then there is the high water – the hurricane of 1921 that destroyed nearly all the Cortez waterfront, a red tide that made the mullet disappear, storms that have claimed catches and boats and limbs and lives.

But Cortez stays afloat, and has for more than a century.

This year marks two centennials and a 30th anniversary for the village – 100 years ago, the village was incorporated and the 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School opened its doors for the first class of barefooted fishermen's children, and 30 years ago, villagers started the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

From village to city and back again

The village was incorporated on June 8, 1912, with S.J. Sanders serving as mayor, A. D. Millis, A.F. Taylor, A. Willis, J.E. Guthrie, W.C. Bratton, F.C. Rowell and W.T. Fulford as aldermen, A.M. Guthrie as clerk and L.G. Lewis as town marshal, according to Manatee County records. Descendants of the men still live in Cortez.

The city was dissolved on July 8, 1929 due to lack of operating funds after the Florida crash of 1926. The village is now part of Manatee County, but retains special code enforcement treatment to allow fishermen wide latitude in keeping boats, crab traps, nets and other gear – picturesque and not – on their property.

Schoolhouse turns museum

The same year, 1912, the Cortez Rural Graded School opened, taking the place of the one-room schoolhouse which still stands as a private home on 45th Street.

It was the village's refuge during the hurricane of 1921, before hurricanes had names, and later was a private home for an artist.

It is now the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, the hub of a growing historic park that includes four other historic buildings that have been relocated there, the Pillsbury Boatworks, the Bratton Store, the Monroe Cottage and the Harris House.

It's a fishing festival, not a seafood festival

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, started by villagers and still run by some of the original founders, is celebrating its 30th anniversary the weekend of Feb. 18-19, proclaimed Fishing Festival Days by the Manatee County Commission.

While it serves up fresh, local seafood, don't call it a seafood festival – it's all about fishermen and how they feed the world.

True to the village's sense of humor, this year's theme is "Something's fishy in Cortez."

Proceeds from the festival's $3 admission fee have paid for 95 waterfront acres on the eastern boundary of the village, which the not-for-profit Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) has turned into the FISH Preserve.

FISH hopes to complete the preserve by acquiring the remaining vacant lots on the preserve's northern boundary, and one in the middle owned by a couple who have so far declined to sell.

The preserve, which features hiking and kayak trails, serves as a buffer zone between the village and development to the east.

Fighting the tide

Cortezians have had to struggle to keep their two remaining fish houses in business, A.P. Bell Fish Co. and Cortez Bait and Seafood, and to keep their way of life alive.

"They have been fighting the tide," said John Stevely, FISH board member and one of the original Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival organizers. "It's good to see that the village has soldiered on."

Battles have been won on many fronts.

They beat a proposed marina developer who would have built 145-foot-long piers that would have blocked commercial fishing boats from coming into the docks.

They squelched a plan for a bridge to Anna Maria Island that would have had two 60-foot-high spans and encroached on four Cortez streets, closing businesses.

They successfully fought a condo developer whose plans would have walled off Sarasota Bay views and breezes from century-old cottages.

They beat another developer who wanted to raze the waterfront Cortez Trailer Park, displacing senior citizens who have lived there for decades.

To fortify themselves for future battles, they got the village listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1995, the 128th birthday of Capt. Billy Fulford, the first pioneer to buy property in the village in 1887.

"It does take a village," said Mary Fulford Green, Fulford's 16th granddaughter, and the first redhead. "Cortez is certainly that village."

Next week: Commercial fishing and the best little festival in the South.

End comes for Cafe's beach market

BRADENTON BEACH – The open-air market at Gulf Drive Café died last Thursday when the city commission failed to approve a permit request for the Sunday sales under the chickee hut.

After hearing from 18 speakers, most of them against the market, at the start of the meeting, Commissioner Jan Vosburgh moved to approve the permit request, but the motion died when nobody seconded it. Mayor John Shaughnessy asked for another motion (to deny it) and nobody came forward. The mayor gaveled the issue dead, but City Ricinda Perry told the mayor they could table the request to come back up at a future meeting, but Gulf Drive Café and Tiki Manager Peter Barreda said he would abandon efforts for this year.

The request was made after the city commission failed to approve extending a previous permit following an experimental period. At the Feb. 1 meeting, the commission also failed to approve the extension on a 2-2-tie vote. After that decision, the city commission approved Richard Gatehouse to fill an empty seat, and Barreda decided to try another permit hoping Gatehouse would vote favorably, but he didn't 't.

"The issue foremost is traffic and pedestrians crossing," Gatehouse said after the decision. "I agree with suggestions to utilize the crosswalk and to group crossings, so they don't block traffic as often."

Gatehouse said another issue was people not parking in the café's lot. He suggested the café put up signs directing customers to the lot.

As in the Feb. 1 meeting, the majority of complaints centered on blocking traffic on Gulf Drive, the safety of having so many people cross the Island's busiest roadway and customers parking on private property instead of in the café parking lot. There was also concern about both the café market and the Bridge Street Market operating at the same time, taking away business from each market.

Long-time resident Audrey Young called the café market "an abominable, huge, terrible inconvenience."

Sarah DeFrancesco said it needed to be in a better place.

"It's dangerous, and I don't see why we need it," she said. "Coquina Park would be a better venue."

Bridge Street Bistro owner Bill Herlihy said he's not in favor of the two markets operating on the same day.

"It would bring more activity to the Island if they were on separate days," he said.

JoAnn Meilner, president of the Bridge Street Merchants, said patrons of the market risk their safety to get there.

"A weekly event is not supposed to be a danger to the neighborhood," she said.

Visitor Sandra Kitchen said she enjoyed the market.

"I was completely impressed with the vendors and their attitude," she said. "I commend the police officers. They did a fantastic job of keeping traffic flowing."

Vendor Joan Brien disagreed with a previous observation that customers and vendors brought their dogs and allowed them to roam the beach.

"We weren't even allowed to bring dogs," she said. "We were able to at the Bridge Street Market."

Barreda spoke about how they organized the event.

"Before we started the market, we had a meeting with the vendors and we talked about professionalism," he said. "I never saw litter on the beach."

Following the vote, Barreda said he was sorry for the vendors who won't be able to sell their wares.

"I want to thank those vendors for their support," he said. "I'm a resident of Bradenton Beach, and I care about this city. I wouldn't try something that results in trash anywhere or brings in a criminal element, and I still feel we have a right to have markets on the beach."

Split proposed for Tebbetts Field

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The sign at Birdie Tebbetts Field
was removed last week to clear
up confusion over the use of the field.

HOLMES BEACH – An isolated incident between ball players and dog owners at Birdie Tebbetts Field has led to a proposal to split the field in two.

The field is designated as a ball field, but if no one is playing ball, the city allows dogs to run off leash. No dogs are permitted during ball playing activities, as noted on a sign posted on the field's fence.

The Holmes Beach Commission had been asked by dog owners to make the field exclusively a dog park after residents said no one played ball there anymore.

But since the issue was made public at a recent commission meeting, ball players have begun using the field, some from off the Island, creating safety and liability issues, Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said.

"Now that people are using it, things cannot continue the way they are," he said, adding that he saw cocker spaniels running between a pitching machine and a batter last week.

Splitting the baby

To solve the problem, the 77,000-square-foot field could be split in two with a fence, with the outfield as a dog park that would be open all the time (45 percent of the field) and the infield as a smaller baseball field (55 percent of the field), Zaccagnino said at a commission meeting last week.

The regulation-size field is too large for kids and most adults to play on, and would be more useful if it was smaller, he said, adding that Scott Dell at the Anna Maria Island Community Center has offered to work on the layout of the new ball field at no charge.

If dog owners want to enlarge the dog park side, they could form a group and raise funds to move the back fence to the east, towards the road, he said.

Dog owners disagreed

"If it's not broke, let's not fix it," pleaded dog owner Renee Ferguson. "We're going in a huge circle for a situation that has been working well."

Dog owners are taxpayers too, and should not be expected to raise funds for a fence to continue using the field, she said, requesting that the commission simply change the signs posted on the fence to clarify the rules.

"It could be so simple and it seems that we're making it so complicated," said Ferguson, who earlier this month suggested requiring ball players to make reservations at the city police department as skateboard park users must do. After a year, if no reservations are made, the city could discontinue fertilizing and applying pesticide to the field and stop maintaining it for baseball, saving city funds.

Commissioner Jean Peelen, who has suggested that dog owners should not have to leave for a couple of ball players, but only for a scheduled game, said she doubted that Zaccagnino's idea would satisfy dog owners.

Dog owners who use the field said after the meeting that the isolated incident between ball players and dog owners is not typical, and they want the controversy to end before they lose their park, the only public place on Anna Maria Island that allows dogs off leash.

Ruth Ueker, who is working on establishing an on-leash dog beach on the Island, said that no dog owner she knows would mind leaving the field if a ball game started and suggested leaving the field as it is.

Commissioners decided to remove one sign from the fence at the field to clarify the rules while they consider the issue.

The sign said "This field for baseball/softball only, all other activities use soccer field." A dog owner recently told the commission that the sign was confusing, since it seemed to indicate that no dogs are allowed in the fenced field.

Another sign saying "No dogs permitted during ball playing activities" remains on the fence.

The commission was scheduled to discuss the idea further at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at city hall.

City responds to vacation rental complaints

HOLMES BEACH – The Holmes Beach Commission discussed problems with vacation rentals, a dispute with Bradenton Beach, the usage of Birdie Tebbetts Field (see related story) and a possible outdoor dining violation at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Vacation rentals

The city has sent more than 40 letters to rental agents advising of code enforcement restrictions on vacation rentals, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger told the commission.

Residents have complained that their residential neighborhoods are transitioning to rental areas, with vacationers producing noise, trash, parking, overcrowding and other problems.

They have urged city officials to crack down on code and construction violations and asked county officials to slow down on tourism marketing.

The commission is forming five committees, each headed by one of the five commissioners, to investigate solutions to vacation rental problems.

The first committee meeting, focused on planning and permitting, is set for Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 9 a.m. at Holmes Beach City Hall with Commissioner John Monetti, city Public Works Director Joe Duennes, rental agent Larry Chatt, builder Steve Titsworth and resident Mary Buonagura. The public is invited to attend.

To help keep trash cans off the streets in front of rental properties, tan garbage cans will be picked up with back door service, Commissioner Pat Morton announced.

Gate dispute

The commission postponed an intergovernmental dispute meeting with Bradenton Beach set for Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. for one month.

Bradenton Beach has no authority by itself to resolve an ongoing dispute over a gate that Sandpiper Resort installed in a fence on the 27th Street border between the two cities last year, commissioners said.

The dispute now involves other parties, including Cadence Bank, which holds a mortgage on Sandpiper Resort. The bank's attorney is researching the effect on the mortgage if Sandpiper deeds the northern 30 feet of the 50-foot right of way on 27th Street to Bradenton Beach to resolve the dispute, as has been suggested, City Attorney Patricia Petruff said.

Cadence may not have a mortgage on the 30 feet in question, Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said.

The Holmes Beach Commission voted last October to initiate the dispute resolution proceeding against Bradenton Beach after Holmes Beach Commissioner John Monetti, who owns property next to the fence, raised an objection to the gate, saying it restricts public access.

Holmes Beach contends that Sandpiper had no right to install the gate because Bradenton Beach had no authority to quitclaim the property to Sandpiper in 2008.

Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen, who owns property at Sandpiper, suggested that the dispute could be resolved outside the legal process, since Sandpiper agreed to remove the lock from the gate and remove the no trespassing signs.

Outdoor dining

Commissioner Pat Morton said the Martini Bistro has five times more outdoor dining than is allowed under the city's code.

The commission exempted additional outdoor seating from parking requirements to encourage the use of bikes and the trolley, Bohnenberger said.

The issue was scheduled for discussion at the commission's regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. at city hall.

Opera comes to the Island
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

AMICCO | submitted
Joy Leitner plays Yum Yum in Sunday's
production of "The Mikado"
at CrossPointe Fellowship.


The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra presents Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 p.m. at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria

The roles and soloists for this production are: Yum Yum, Joy Leitner; Nanki Poo, Alan Brunton; Ko-Ko, Alex Friedlander; Pitti Sing, Joan Fury-Parrish; Peep Bo, Sue Pontius; The Mikado, Joe Ryan; Pooh Bah, Robert Parrish; Katisha, Martha DiPalma; and Pish Tush, David Kesler.

Alan Brunton

Alan Brunton, tenor, is new to Sarasota, from Texas, where he sang with the Dallas Opera for six seasons, worked on an undergraduate degree in applied vocal music at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and a graduate degree at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In the fall of 1993, Brunton toured Italy and was asked to sing at The Vatican and later a concert in honor of Pope John Paul ll.

As a chef, Brunton has created a new dining concept using music from operas and musicals called Food for Love, teaching cuisines from around the world, while learning deep meanings of each story. Most recently, Brunton was the featured soloist for the Sarasota Pops Orchestra, singing Puccini arias and solos for the Fourth Annual Sarasota-Manatee Bach Festival.

Alex Friedlander

Alex Friedlander, tenor, trained as a classical pianist, majored in voice at Music and Art High School in New York, sang in the Brooklyn College Baroque Festival chorus and chamber choir, studied conducting at the Tanglewood institute, and sang with the Boston Chorus Pro Musica. In New York from 1968 to 2006 he sang with the Collegiate Chorale, Dessoff Choirs, Canby Singers, Sine Nomine Singers, and Amor Artis Chamber Chorus.

In Florida he has sung with Gloria Musicae, Musica Sacra Cantorum, Key Chorale and the Sarasota Bach Festival. His opera and musical roles include The Mikado, The Gondoliers, The Marriage of Figaro and Fiddler on the Roof.

Joy Leitner

Joy Leitner holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from the University of Louisville. She performed extensively in the Opera Theatre, Kentucky Opera, and as soloist with the Louisville Orchestra. After graduate studies in opera and vocal performance in England at the Royal Northern College of Music and receiving a master's degree from the University of York, Leitner returned to the U.S. to become a regular on the recital and concert stage. Best known for her versatility of vocal style, Leitner has performed in many operatic, musical theatre and popular music productions.

Leitner's first love is the operatic stage, where she has performed with companies that include the Kentucky Opera, Brevard Music Center Opera, Opera Tampa, Vero Beach Opera and Orlando Opera. Her past roles include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Madame Goldentrill in The Impresario, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro and Blanche in The Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Tickets are $20 each and are available at, the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach or by calling 778-8585.

Anna Maria tackles employee benefits

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners asked staff to begin research on salaries in similar communities in order to develop a salary scale for new employees.

Commissioner Dale Woodland brought up the issue at budget time last year and the board agreed to work on it after the first of the year. He pointed to a spreadsheet that showed the various categories of employee benefits.

"I want to point out that when you take pension and health care for the city it's $100,000," he said. "That $100,000 is almost entirely paid by taxpayers. It's not justified and it's not healthy. This is an important issue to a lot of people."

Finance Director Diane Percycoe said, as of this year, employees pay 3 percent of their pension, and Chair Chuck Webb pointed out, "The pension is set by the state and we can't do anything about that."

However, Webb said they could do something about salaries and suggested, "We need to adopt criteria for giving raises. It should be based on merit. I don't want to see automatic raises for everybody."

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said they should adopt a salary scale for new employees, and Commissioner John Quam said they also should establish ranges.

Webb asked staff members to get salary scales from surrounding cities. Percycoe said they did that in the past and also developed a step plan, but one of the problems is that job responsibilities can be very different in different cities.

Webb said they need the data to use as a starting point.

Robinson parking lot awaits property purchase
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Manatee county | submitted
Perico Preserve habitat restoration concept
map shows plans for the preserve
including enhancement and
restoration of uplands and wetlands.

BRADENTON – Manatee County has made a bid on a piece of property to complete the parking lot on the Palma Sola Causeway that will serve the back entrance to Robinson Preserve.

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie told members of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee that the county offered $20,300 for a small piece of property needed for the turning lane. The owner has 30 days to respond.

The parking lot will be on the southwest side of the Causeway beside the Perico Bayou Bridge. It includes a right turn lane, a left turn lane, an access road, shell parking with 30 parking spaces, a retention pond and a sidewalk going underneath the bridge to the boardwalk entrance to the preserve.

According to a county report, the design is complete, the permit from the Southwest Florida Water Management District is approved, the permit from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is expected this month and the lease agreement for the FDOT right of way is expected in March.

Parking tickets

For several years, people going to the preserve have parked in the right of way on the northwest side of the Causeway. Although it is marked as no parking, the understanding has been that drivers will not receive tickets until the new parking lot is completed.

However, committee member and Perico resident Ken Crayton said people have been getting parking tickets there.

"Somebody should go to the Sheriff's Department or the state troopers and tell the not to give tickets until the parking lot is done," Crayton said. "It's not good for the people or the park."

Chappie said he was unaware of the ticketing and said he would talk to the Sheriff's Office.

"It's bad PR giving tickets to everybody going into Robinson," Chappie agreed.

Ingrid McClellan, of Keep Manatee Beautiful asked if there is a completion date, and Chappie said it is not a difficult project and should only take four to five months once it is started.

Perico Preserve

Crayton asked about progress on the Perico Preserve on the northwest side of the Causeway near Minto's development.

"The design is done, and it's permitted and ready to go," replied Mark Alderson, director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP). "It will be beautiful habitat. It's an outstanding fishery. This will augment it."

Contacted after the meeting, Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county's natural resources department, said, "Construction has begun with surveyors staking out grade elevations on the land to identify where new wetlands will be created and where new uplands will be contoured, both formed from former farmlands on the property.

"New upland formed on the property will be planted with a large variety of grasses, scrubs and trees native to Florida and adapted to coastal habitat, similar to what a pioneer would have found during the late 1800s if walking across the land before farming began."

Hunsicker said construction will begin within the next 30 days and will continue through December. The project will cost approximately $584,000.

"It is funded in part by a $452,372 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District in recognition of the outstanding environmental benefits gained by this work, performed voluntarily by the natural resources department on behalf of the board of county commissioners," he explained.

Grassy Point

The group also heard a report on Grassy Point Preserve in Holmes Beach. The 35 acres of environmentally sensitive wetland is located along the east side of Gulf Drive across from Publix and the Anna Maria Island Center. It includes red and black mangroves, tidal flats, oyster bars, a tidal estuarine creek and seagrass beds.

Early last year, the city has delineated a nature trail around the upland portion of the preserve using the tree trunks left from the removal of invasive exotics Plans include a boardwalk from the end of the upland portion to Anna Maria Sound with an observation tower midway and an observation deck at the end.

Another boardwalk, which will connect with the nature trail, is planned over the wetland portion of the project along East Bay Drive. Last fall, the SBEP funded the removal of dead Australian pines and Brazilian peppers and installed native vegetation.

Cortez festival coming soon

file photo | Sun
A vendor serves food at last year's
Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

The theme of this year's festival is “Something’s Fishy in Cortez.”

CORTEZ – Celebrate maritime culture in a working fishing village at the 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival on Feb. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Family-oriented fun and educational activities include live music, nautical arts and crafts, boat tours of the village, clog dancing, a marine life touch tank, history talks and fresh seafood and land lovers fare.

The event, endorsed by ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, draws more than 20,000 visitors a year to enjoy the picturesque, historic village.

Admission is $3, with kids under 12 free. All proceeds go towards enlarging and restoring the FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage) Preserve, 95 acres of sensitive Sarasota Bay waterfront.

The festival is easy to find; head west toward the beaches on Cortez Road, and turn left at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, 4415 119th St. W.

Parking will be available east of the village off Cortez Road, a five-minute walk to the festival. Remote parking will be available in the Cortez Commons shopping mall parking lot at the corner of Cortez Road and 59th Street West, and at Coquina Beach Bayside Park. Shuttle buses to Cortez are $2 per round trip.

For more information, visit


Snapshots of Cortez

CORTEZ – Ask a Cortezian about the village, and stories fly like mullet being tossed into a boat cooler.

Here are some snapshots of the Cortez of yesterday – some fond, some funny, some frightening – told mostly in the words of the reminiscers, and, like all fish tales, mostly true.

Mark TaylorMark Taylor
Commercial fisherman, former state president of Organized Fishermen of Florida

I grew up on crews. When I was just a little fella, before I could earn half a share, I was with Uncle Joe Capo on dad’s boat. We would fish for days at a time and ice them down, and get a truck to come to the Skyway, and we’d unload into the truck and they’d bring us ice. A guy we called Shorty was cooking on the boat - pompano, rice and tomato gravy. Uncle Joe was steering and I was down in the cabin. Shorty said you could eat the backbone of a pompano like potato chips. He fried it up. It was the finest kind, and I was eatin’ it. He couldn’t hardly hold himself from bustin’ as I spit it over the side of boat.

I remember milk being delivered in Hoods metal boxes. Selling mangos and guavas to the Yankees in Cortez Trailer Park; they either loved them or were allergic to them. We used to drink water out of jelly jars from the water tanks with wiggle worms floating in it. Before we had indoor plumbing I remember going to the Albion Inn and running through it and flushing all the toilets. Guys knocking down the walls of the (Cortez) bridge during construction to keep the bridge from being built. The mosquito control district spraying that yellow fog (DDT). Hearing on the (marine) radio, “Blue’s lost his leg.”

Thomas "Blue" Fulford

Thomas ‘Blue’ Fulford
Commercial fisherman, Manatee County Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee

People used to pull together. When one hurt, they all hurt. It used to be a good place to grow up, but something has happened to the dear hearts and gentle people in my hometown. It ain’t like the good old days. People don’t work together like they used to. It’s not cohesive like it used to be. I couldn’t say exactly what happened, but the main thing was the net ban.

Carolyn Doig

Carolyn Doig
Blue crabber, granddaughter of Cortez settler Vernon Mora

Everyone used to come out to the Friday night fish fries during mullet season at the volunteer fire station. Ol’ Man Coarsey from the post office always had his harmonica in his pocket. The menu was fried mullet, hush puppies, cole slaw, grits and sweet tea. The men would do the cooking, the women would make the desserts and the kids would clear the tables. After the net ban, we stopped doing them. There’s a lot of stuff we did that we can’t do anymore since the net ban.

Mary Fulford GreenMary Fulford Green
Co-founder, Cortez Village Historical Society

When I was about eight, my Grandpa, Capt. Billy Fulford, asked me to go to the store for him. He had just one leg; that meant walking down the path to the store. When I returned I gave him the change and one dime was missing. He asked if I had bought candy. That would have been OK with him. I told him “No.” My mother wanted to prove that I was telling the truth. She left everything she was doing and walked back down the path and found the dime that had dropped in the grass. That was a wonderful lesson to learn – the value of truth. Today I do not lie. To me a white lie is a lie.

Mark GreenMark Green
Mary Fulford Green’s son

I used to spend summers and school holidays in Cortez and loved going fishing with my grandfather, Tink Fulford. We didn't fish on Sundays because almost everyone went to church, but Sunday night it was OK to go fishing. My grandmother insisted we go to the Church of Christ both Sunday morning and Sunday night. Grandpa Tink didn't go to church on Sunday night and he wanted to leave as soon as possible, but he wasn't going to tell my grandmother we couldn't go to church. We would have to run from the church building to the dock as soon as the service was over. Grandpa knew exactly what time we should be there, and he would untie, start up the boat and take off from the dock as soon as he saw us getting close. We had to run and jump on as the boat was pulling off. I don't think he would have left us if we missed the boat, but he sure acted like it.

Richard CulbreathRichard Culbreath
Bandleader, Richard Culbreath Group, veteran

I remember getting electricity and running water to our house, our first icebox and later a refrigerator, our first washing machine with hand-cranked wringer and indoor plumbing and a bathroom with a toilet.

I think the one thing I have to put ahead of the rest is family. I grew up in two large families, the Julius Mora and James Culbreath families. I learned family values and traditions, including music, and have been able to carry that through life.

Sam BellSam Bell
Volunteer, Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez

My dad would take me with him in his boat up to School Key (now Key Royale) to cut a red cedar tree to be used as our Christmas tree. The result would be the fragrant red cedar aroma in our little house throughout the Christmas season. I think most families in Cortez did this. I can't remember anyone buying a spruce or pine. Indeed, my dad would cut several to share with elderly neighbors who couldn't get one on their own.

Richard "Chips" ShoreRichard ‘Chips’ Shore
FISH board member, Clerk of Manatee County Circuit Court and Comptroller

My parents ate at the Albion Inn two or three times a month. As a child it was an adventurous trip, especially in the back near the water and over towards Bell’s (A.P. Bell Fish Co.). There was always some activity going on and the food was second to none. Our favorite was the pompano (en papillott) done in brown bags.

Wyman CoarseyWyman Coarsey
Former Cortez postmaster, veteran

John Blackburn was a good teacher, but if you did something wrong, he’d make you cut off a branch from a palmetto bush and pull off the leaves to make your own switch. It worked, too. You’d never do that again.

Henry Clayton 'Jap' AdamsHenry Clayton ‘Jap’ Adams
Commercial fisherman, veteran

In 1940, Jap Adams swam out to the Regina, a sinking molasses barge off Bradenton Beach, and saved two crewmen from drowning in the storm that sank her. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II in Africa under Gen. George Patton. He and his five brothers served in three service branches: Cleveland “Cubie” Adams, Clyde Dillard “Doc” Adams, Leon “Buddy” Adams, Willis Howard “Snooks” Adams and William Hugh “Man” Adams. Four of his brothers who served in the Navy were separated because of the Sullivans, five Iowa brothers who were killed serving on the same ship in 1942.

Linda MoltoLinda Molto
Artist, Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival coordinator

When I moved here in 1983, it was a sleepy little town. In the summertime, if one or two cars would go by it was a lot. It’s not like that now. People drive around and look. You can’t blame them because there are so few of these places left. They feel like it’s somehow a part of them. Word of mouth is telling people it’s a real place and not a tourist attraction. But you never know how long it’s going to last.

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