Early residents talk about history
CAROLYNE NORWOOD | submitted
Don Ringland lived on the Anna Maria City Pier from Oct. 1, 1952,
until Sept. 30, 1953. There were no houses on the pier,
and he and his brother slept on the rafters over the bathroom.
ANNA MARIA – Restaurateur Ed Chiles learned some Island and Sandbar history when he met with three early Island residents recently at his newly renovated Sandbar restaurant.
Donna Courtney Simpson is the daughter of Thelma Wood Holly. Her mother was the poster girl for the Anna Maria Beach Company brochure. Her grandparents built a house on the bay, which was known as Thelma By The Sea in 1912. It was sold in 1946 and became Anglers Lodge.
"When I was in high school, I came out to the Island to a dance at the Pavilion (now the Sandbar) and met my husband in 1945.”
“My mother was sick with arthritis, and J. Hartley Blackburn lived three doors down from the Sandbar and also suffered with arthritis. They both stayed in the Gulf waters for most of the day and were cured of arthritis. The Sandbar was a bathhouse, and that beach was a wonderful place to swim."
Don Ringland was a student at Manatee High School when he lived on the pier in 1952 for a year. There were no houses on the pier, and his family ran the pier. He was a short order cook.
He remembered the hurricane of '52 when the storm sucked all the water out of the bay. There was only eight inches of water at the end of the pier.
"Life was unique," he said. "There were lots of good times."
Helen White came to the Island in 1961. Her husband's family owned the Sandbar. There was no kitchen, just a bar. On Saturdays and holidays, there was music. Sandwiches were heated on the radar range.
The Sandbar was noted for wild times. When the bars in Bradenton closed at night everyone came out to the Island and most ended up at the Sandbar.