Monday, January 18, 2021

I Surrender!

 


  • "Unconditional Surrender”
  • Artist: Seward Johnson
  • Aluminum, 26 feet tall
  • Originally displayed in Sarasota in 2005 as a temporary exhibit
  • Purchased by late World War II veteran and Sarasota resident Jack Curran from the Sculpture Foundation (now Seward Johnson Atelier) and loaned to the city for 10 years
  • Formally became part of the city’s public art collection in 2020
  • ‘Surrendered’ (relocated) in January 2021 to an area of Bayfront Park between O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill and Marina Jack to make way for the construction of the roundabout at Gulfstream Ave. and US 41.

I recently sold a condo on Palm Avenue and spent a lot of time around the Sarasota Bayfront leading up to this sale. One day I witnessed a 'strange' sight! As most of you recently read in the local news, the iconic Unconditional Surrender statue located at US 41 and Gulfstream Avenue was just moved in anticipation of the construction of a roundabout, set to begin this February. That was the sight I witnessed!

Each time I drive by the Sarasota Bayfront, it reminds me of how much the area has changed throughout my lifetime in Sarasota. My wife Liz’s family goes back almost four generations in Sarasota and Manatee County and she remembers old family stories of a yellow house which belonged to her Uncle Zeke, just south of Church of the Redeemer. This was long before that WWII sailor kissed the dental assistant (no, she was not a nurse!) on V-J Day in 1945. Of course Uncle Zeke’s Florida cracker house has long since been replaced by a high-rise condominium…across the street from Unconditional Surrender!

J. Steward Johnson’s giant kissing statue parked alongside U.S. 41 has been beloved and despised in Sarasota since it first appeared in that spot for a temporary visit in 2005. The 26-foot-high statue depicting George Mendossa, a World War II sailor kissing a woman, Greta Zimmer Friedman, on V-J Day in 1945 and inspired by an iconic photograph, has had its detractors but it’s undeniably popular. 

Sarasota's Bayfront Park has had the "kissing sailor" statue has surrendered their spot several times. In 2012, a car struck it, knocking a hole about the size of a microwave oven out of the sailor’s foot. The anti-statue folks got a few months’ reprieve before the repaired smooching duo were returned to their prominent pedestal. Tourists and locals alike flock to it, passing their cameras off to someone who can capture their efforts to replicate the giant figures’ pose. The statue has also been the backdrop of many protests and marches, including the 2016 Women’s March, which saw thousands gather at the Sarasota Bayfront park. The “Unconditional Surrender” statue has also attracted the attention of vandals. On April Fools Day in 2015, someone added a pink substance, made to resemble chewing gum, to the heel of the woman. 

In 2019, the statue made national headlines when someone spray painted ”#MeToo” across the man’s legs the day after George Mendosa, the sailor depicted in the photograph that inspired the statue, died. Although the original image of Mendosa kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman has long been heralded for epitomizing the joy shared throughout the world upon the ending of hostilities in 1945, it has come under scrutiny, with many accusing Mendosa of assault. But in a 2005 interview, Friedman’s son said the kiss was nonconsensual, but that his mother understood it was a “jubilant act,” telling the New York Times that she did not view the kiss as an assault at all. On that day, they threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square!

So whether or not you think our kissing statue is art, it is certainly popular…maybe more so than the road construction of new roundabout which caused its latest move! And if you would like a bird's eye view of Unconditional Surrender, I can help you find a great condo on the Sarasota Bayfront!

Here is a great video about the kissing couple and how they ended up on the cover of Life Magazine!



Sunday, December 20, 2020

12 Days of Christmas Humor


With all the craziness of this past year, I thought that it would be a good time to revisit this hilarious holiday post. I don't know who the author is, but it brings a smile year after year...and we sure do need that smile about now! 



12 Days of Christmas Correspondence

Dearest John:

I went to the door today and the postman delivered a partridge in a pear tree. What a delightful gift. I couldn't have been more surprised.

With dearest love and affection, Agnes

***

December 15th

Dearest John:

Today the postman brought your very sweet gift. Just imagine, two turtle doves.... I'm just delighted at your very thoughtful gift. They are just adorable.

All my love, Agnes

***

December 16th

Dear John:

Oh, aren't you the extravagant one! Now I must protest. I don't deserve such generosity. Three french hens. They are just darling but I must insist.... you're just too kind.

Love Agnes

***

December 17th

Today the postman delivered four calling birds. Now really! They are beautiful, but don't you think enough is enough? You're being too romantic.

Affectionately, Agnes

***

December 18th

Dearest John:

What a surprise! Today the postman delivered five golden rings. One for each finger. You're just impossible, but I love it. Frankly, John, all those squawking birds were beginning to get on my nerves.

All my love, Agnes

***

December 19th

Dear John:

When I opened the door there were actually six geese-a-laying on my front steps. So you're back to the birds again, huh? Those geese are huge. Where will I ever keep them? The neighbors are complaining and I can't sleep through the racket. PLEASE STOP!

Cordially, Agnes

***

December 20th

John:

What's with you and those birds???? Seven swans-a-swimming. What kind of joke is this? There's bird do-do all over the house and they never stop the racket. I'm a nervous wreck and I can't sleep all night. IT'S NOT FUNNY.......So stop with those birds.

Sincerely, Agnes

***

December 21st

OK Buster:

I think I prefer the birds. What am I going to do with eight maids-a-milking? It's not enough with all those birds and eight maids-a-milking, but they had to bring their own cows. There is poop all over the lawn and I can't move into my own house. Just lay off me. .

Ag

***

December 22nd

Hey:

What are you? Some kind of sadist? Now there's nine pipers playing. And do they play! They never stopped chasing those maids since they got here yesterday morning. The cows are upset and are stepping all over those screeching birds. No wonder they screech. What am I going to do? The neighbors have started a petition to evict me. You'll get yours.

From Ag

***

December 23rd

You Creep!

Now there's ten ladies dancing - I don't know why I call them ladies. Now the cows can't sleep and they've got diarrhea. My living room is a river of poop. The commissioner of buildings has subpoenaed me to give cause why the building shouldn't be condemned. I'm sicking the police on you.

One who means it, Ag

***

December 24th

Listen Idiot:

What's with the eleven lords a-leaping? All 234 of the birds are dead. I hope you're satisfied, you rotten swine.

Your sworn enemy, Miss Agnes McCallister

***

December 25th (From the law offices Taeker, Spedar, and Baegar)

Dear Sir:

This is to acknowledge your latest gift of twelve fiddlers fiddling, which you have seen fit to inflict on our client, Miss Agnes McCallister. The destruction, of course, was total. All correspondence should come to our attention. If you should attempt to reach Miss McCallister at Happy Dale Sanitarium, the attendants have instructions to call the police on sight. With this letter, please find attached a warrant for your arrest.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Thanks & Gratitude...Every Day!

 

I don’t believe in setting aside one day a year as Thanksgiving Day, especially in the ‘age of COVID-19’. Liz and I will be celebrating separate from our families this year, but that's OK. I have always thought that we should be thankful more often than once a year, on the fourth Thursday of November. We should take the time during this week and the next and the next to show gratitude to everyone who has made a difference in our lives.

When life is going well, gratitude allows us to celebrate and magnify the goodness. But what about when life goes badly, like these past nine months? In the midst of the pandemic and the economic maelstrom that has gripped our country, should we feel grateful under such awful circumstances? Yes. It is essential. In fact, it is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. 

Trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratefulness if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted. Thanksgiving, was born and grew out of hard times. The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year. It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the Depression. 

According to Robert Emmons at Berkley, when times are good, people take prosperity for granted and begin to believe that they are invulnerable. In times of uncertainty, though, people realize how powerless they are to control their own destiny. If you begin to see that everything you have, everything you have counted on, may be taken away, it becomes much harder to take it for granted. But gratitude does not come easily or naturally in a crisis. It’s easy to feel grateful for the good things. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times. I agree!

So if you are distant from family and friends on Thanksgiving this year because of the pandemic, it really is OK. Hopefully by next year, we will be back to what is more normal. Hopefully, we will be grateful that we all got through this awful time together and will be sitting at the Thanksgiving table together, intact. And in the meantime, just be grateful every single day for what we DO have!

My success as a Realtor in Sarasota, Florida relies on the recommendations and support of those close to me, and I want to take a moment and say a heartfelt thank you to my wife, Liz, who is the wind beneath my wings, to my family and friends, to Re/Max Alliance Group and to all of the loyal people in my life who continuously support me. I am very, very grateful. 


I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving...stay safe and be well!

 

 

 


Friday, October 16, 2020

Orange Juice – Florida’s Liquid Gold

I bet most of you have a container of orange juice in your refrigerator. I do. I drink it every morning and add it to margaritas on the weekends. Those of us who grew up in Florida like I did probably take OJ for granted. My wife grew up in Southgate, which was an orange grove before homes were built there. Her home, as did all the homes on her street, had a row of orange trees in the backyard. As kids, we always had numerous mason jars of fresh squeezed OJ in our freezer…we rarely had to buy it! But when we did buy it, Tropicana was one of the only choices. I recently had to be in Bradenton and drove past their huge plant and waited at the railroad tracks for a train carrying tons of oranges. The “juice trains,” as they are now known, used to be white but now are all orange and serve as a powerful form of advertising, running 10 trips each week to Jersey City and Cincinnati. Additional shipments trek 3,000 miles to California in specially-equipped refrigerated cars.

At one point, Tropicana`s machines in the plant processed 700 oranges a minute, automatically extracting all the juice at a rate of up to 1.3 million gallons a day, while oils are removed from the peels and the peels are processed into cattle feed high in protein and carbohydrates.

So here’s little history of OJ! Anthony T. Rossi, was an Italian immigrant who arrived in the U.S. with just $25. Florida orange juice proved to be liquid gold. Rossi founded Tropicana in Bradenton in 1947, delivering fresh-squeezed juice to local residents. In 1954, he found a way to pasteurize the juice and was soon shipping millions of gallons around the country.

By 1970, Tropicana shipped bulk orange juice via insulated boxcars in a weekly round-trip from Florida to Kearny, New Jersey. By the following year, the company ran two 60-car trains a week, each carrying approximately 1 million gallons of juice. That was the year the “Great White Juice Train” (the first unit train in the food industry, consisting of 150 100-ton insulated boxcars) began service over the 1,250-mile route. An additional 100 cars were soon added to the fleet with small mechanical refrigeration units installed to control temperature. Tropicana saved $40 million in fuel costs alone during the first 10 years in operation. Rossi’s immense success in the fresh orange juice market earned him the title: “The Father of Chilled Juice in Florida.” In 1978, Rossi retired and sold Tropicana for nearly $500 million!

Today Tropicana, now a division of PepsiCo, is the world’s largest producer of branded juice. And although citrus greening and changing tastes have reduced consumption in recent years, the average American still drinks more than three gallons of the sweet, sunny-hued beverage a year. Their juice is 100 percent oranges. A 59-ounce container contains juice from 16 fresh oranges and a tiny amount of natural oils from the peel. Juice extractors squeeze 34,000 oranges per minute and the plant processes 48 million oranges and fills 2.5 million containers in one day, for a total of 900 million containers per year. 

The processing plant operates 24 hours, seven days a week, employing employs 900 workers. There are 2,000 to 2,500 workers who pick oranges. About 95% of Florida’s orange crop goes to juice. Sadly, citrus greening disease has dropped Florida orange production from 244 million boxes in 1998 to 70 million this season. Florida produces 49 percent of U.S. oranges, just behind California, where greening hasn’t hit commercial groves.

So enjoy a glass of Liquid Gold OJ…made in America, made in Florida, made right here at Tropicana! Cheers!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Cabin Fever? Park It!


When I was a kid in Sarasota, I spent many hours outside, climbing the banyan trees in my neighborhood, riding my bike, running on the beach and many other outdoor activities that most kids do. I was a Boy Scout and spent those days camping and roaming the woods and enjoying nature at Camp Flying Eagle. Then we grow up and get too busy for our own good. We think we have to 'go on vacation' to spend time playing outside as adults. And now that we have a really good reason to spend time in the fresh air, we just don't do it enough.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tended to keep most us close to home and thankfully, we can work from home most of the time. But sometimes, we want to get away! We are being very careful so we don’t go out to dinner or to concerts and plays and the like. But this can lead to ‘cabin fever’. Knowing that spending time outside in the fresh air is fairly safe if social distanced, we plan to ‘park it' more often, especially now that Fall is right around the corner and we have a ton of places in Sarasota to choose from.

Beyond Sarasota County's beautiful beaches, shopping, dining and cultural amenities, there really is something else to make you feel better…get a glimpse of Sarasota’s "natural" side and its authentic beauty in our area parks! Sarasota county is home to many local parks and some of Florida's beautiful state parks as well, including Myakka River State Park, Spanish Point, Oscar Scherer State Park and Myakka State Forest. All are unique and feature a special, pristine Florida.

Everybody benefits from the offerings our parks provide. Direct exposure to nature has its own benefits on mental health, reducing stress and increasing happiness. In our increasingly digital world, unplugging is more important than ever. Being outdoors makes you healthier and happier. Fortunately, you don’t need to drive for days to a remote national park or drop a grand on fancy gear to enjoy the life-improving power of the outdoors. The nature fix you crave is closer than you think. There are so many reasons to head to one of Sarasota’s parks and take a refreshing break. Even walking for 25 minutes through a greenspace has positive benefits for your brain.

We have easy access to park and recreation amenities. You should just go. Put your cellphone down. Turn off the dang news. We all need  peace and tranquility in this crazy world. Go sit on a bench and catch up with nature. People watch. Bring a picnic lunch. Take in the sunset. That's the best thing about most parks! You don't really need to have a plan or have to “do” anything to enjoy—and benefit from—them. Simply going for walk by yourself is reason enough. Be a kid again!

Here is a link to help you find an area park that’s just right for you…you won’t believe how many there are to choose from!

Click here to find a park in Sarasota!

One of our favorite parks is Historic Spanish Point...take a look at this video and if you haven't been and would love a quiet walk through Florida history, GO!




Friday, August 21, 2020

Reinventing Myself...My Road to Becoming a Realtor in Sarasota!


When I was a teenager, my first job experience was working with my dad. He was a builder in Sarasota who bought empty lots, built spec houses one at a time and sold them. I was exposed to every aspect of building a home and after I put in my time in the Air Force, I had a few other professions, including…building houses again. Everything back then was by the book…literally. There were no computers to design houses, order materials for houses or MLS software to sell houses. But then it happened. The thing that tied everything together for me later in life. Computers.

My first computer did not have a hard drive or a mouse and had to be booted with a 5 ¼ floppy disk which loaded the operating system. Then another floppy had to be loaded with whichever program I wanted to run, such as a spreadsheet or a word processing program. The year was about 1988 and I had been bitten by the computer bug. I found it fascinating, logical and I began learning on my own.

Fast forward to 1998. In what seems like a decade that flew by, computers had exploded into our everyday world. At that time, I was a computer programmer and trainer. I taught DOS, accounting and programming classes at what was then known as Sarasota VoTech, and became SCTI, Suncoast Technical Institute. I was also a private computer consultant to small local businesses and I built and sold computers on the side. I finally decided I needed to reinvent myself using what I know and love, so in 1998, I began my career as the IT (Information Technology) Director at Re/Max Properties, now known as Re/Max Alliance Group. Back then, pretty much everything concerning buying and selling homes was still on paper; only the business systems and accounting were managed on computers.

These were the early days of transitioning to MLS software on the computer and more importantly in today’s world, moving from paper to paperless Real Estate transactions. At that time, not many of the Agents had personal computers, but that changed quickly and my Re/Max office grew and built a much larger building. It was my job to set up the entire network of hundreds of computers and related equipment in this new office to take us forward into the 21st century. I have memories of my wife Liz crawling around on the floor, hooking up the network drops for all the new computer workstations & printers for the agents. For the next 10 years, I held their hands when they were frustrated with all the new technology; I trained them on all the various software programs needed to do transactions…and we spewed out a LOT of paper! Our Re/Max office and the department I managed was one of the first Real Estate offices in Florida where transactions became paperless! We had entered the world of online forms that could be filled out and signed virtually.

After 10 years of serving the staff and agents and Re/Max…and learning from them, I decided it was time to use everything I had learned, reinvent myself again and become a Realtor. Fast forward again to today. Now I fly through home searches on MLS, sign offers and contracts online, manage my client contacts from special software programs (as opposed to a Roladex!), create timelines for all of our sales, set up property showings online, open locks with my cellphones to show homes…it’s a completely different world. And in such a short amount of time! Magic! Had it not been for the ability to conduct business online virtually, this ‘age of COVID19’ would have been devastating to our business.

The introduction and adoption of technology by Real Estate agents has clearly provided access to information such as listings, mortgage rates, fees and neighborhood demographics--previously unavailable to consumers. That increase in the quantity of available information has led to better quality information which, in turn, has led to better-informed consumers. Armed with more information, clients have demanded more specialized services as well as better service from Real Estate agents such as myself. 

As it turned out, I was was heavily involved in every aspect of the housing industry, from building the product to helping design some of the original Real Estate contract online systems, to getting the property information from multiple brokerages online, and finally helping the public find the ideal home for themselves.  I was literally on the ground floor of all of this…building homes, the computer revolution and selling homes. I am grateful that for the past 12 years, I have been able to pass on my expertise as a Realtor to assist my clients and help them find just the right home in my hometown…Sarasota!



 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Fore! Golfing in Sarasota


While thinking of things to do outside in the fresh air during the COVID-19 pandemic, I happened to drive by Bobby Jones Golf Course on my way home. I have not played golf in years, but enjoyed it when I did and now Bobby Jones is undergoing changes with a smaller course and adding walking park…right up my alley! This got me thinking about the history of golf in my home town of Sarasota. It’s a very popular pastime, especially for retirees who move to the Sarasota area.  

Did you know that there are over 90 golf courses in the Sarasota/Manatee area? But Bobby Jones was one of the first ‘real’ courses. Was this the first golf course in America? Some say so. Let's let others argue about who was first, but to be sure, Sarasota was certainly a precursor of golf in the United States.

According to Sarasota History Alive, John Hamilton Gillespie built Sarasota's first golf course in 1905. It was a nine-hole course located in what is considered downtown today. It was Sarasota's only golf course until the 1920s. In 1924, the course was sold for development and Sarasota did not have a golf course. The first 18-hole course built was Whitfield Estates Country Club. To help promote the new course, famed golfer Bobby Jones came to Whitfield Estates at the request of the developers. The City of Sarasota was eager to build a golf course and purchased 290 acres, located 2 ½ miles from downtown, from the Palmer Estate and the East End Land Company. The 18-hole course was formally opened on Sunday, February 13, 1927, before a gallery of 1,500 golfers, with Bobby Jones as the star attraction and it was decided to name the course after Jones to “give it prestige.” The first members of the club read like a who's who of prominent early Sarasotans. Some of these members were early politicians Hugh Browning, Harry Higel, and of course, John Hamilton Gillespie, physicians Jack and Joseph Halton, landowners Owen Burns, Ralph Caples, Honore Palmer and J.H. Lord. The club drew up rules for the organization and by-laws for playing golf on the course. To play golf for the winter season cost $10. For those who did not want to commit to an entire season, the fee structure was $5 for one month, $2 for one week and 50 cents for one day.

During its eighty three years, Bobby Jones courses have challenged such immortals as Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour, Gene Sarazen and even the “Babe”, George Herman Ruth. Past LPGA greats including Patty Berg, Babe Dedrickson Zaharias and Louise Suggs made Bobby Jones a regular tour stop in the mid 1950’s. The current British Course record is 62 set by Sarasotan, Paul Azinger, in 1980. Over the years, Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Complex attracted visitors from around the world who come to play the fairways and greens steeped in golfing history. And even after taking a dip in membership and revenues, it has been given new life as a smaller course with 27 holes and the surrounding 130 acres given over to green space, bike paths and nature trails. Hurrah!

After Whitfield Estates/SaraBay and Bobby Jones came Bent Tree, TPC Prestancia, Concession Club and on and on until now we have over 90 golf courses in our area! Some people worry about the future of golf, but to be honest I believe this game will always have a place in people’s hearts, whether it be for enjoying nature, exercise or competition…just get out there and enjoy! And if you are looking to buy a home in the Sarasota-Bradenton area that offers golf, let me know and I'll help you find just the right thing!

Here is a handy list of Sarasota Courses:

https://www.golflink.com/golf-courses/fl/sarasota/