A Simpler Time and Place? Hutchinson Island, SLR/Indian River Lagoon

1949 aerial photo of the Peter Klive house on Hutchison Island. Near this area became "Bathtub Tub Beach" and the exclusive development of Sailfish Point. (Photo Thurlow Archives/Ruhnke Collection.)
1949 aerial photo. Atlantic on left, Indian River Lagoon on right. Photo shows the “Peter Clive House” on Hutchison Island. Just south of this area became “Bathtub Reef Beach” through the Save Our Beaches Campaign of MC. The land furthest south became the exclusive development of Sailfish Point. (Photo Thurlow Archives/Ruhnke Collection.)

I always enjoy looking at old photographs, and fortunately my mother and father have acquired hundreds through their history work. Many of them spawn memories of what for me was a “simpler time and place” in Martin County history—as I was a child.

My mother probably took me to the “Bathtub Beach,” with family and friends, for the  very first time, when I was an infant, but in my first memories of the place I was probably four or five years old.

Somewhere down from Bathtub Beach ca 1969- Lynda Nelson, Cindy Luce, and me. (Photo Thurlow Family Album)
Somewhere down from Bathtub Beach ca 1969- Lynda Nelson, Cindy Luce, and me. (Photo Thurlow Family Album)

I can remember my mother parking along the road and all of us walking– carrying all of our towels, buckets, and nets to catch tropical fish in the reef (to be returned) and my looking down and seeing bright, yellow beach-sunflowers— the sand was SO hot, you wouldn’t believe it, and there were stickers. Hundreds of stickers that stuck in your feet and you had to stop and pull them out as the sun beat down on you like a flashlight.

I remember, it became a game with me to see if I could walk in the burning sand from the road, along the path, to the beach without any shoes. I remember jumping in the cool water and swimming  to the reef and sticking my homemade net into a hole to catch a little fish and a moray eel came right out and put its scary face up to my mask!

I remember the simplicity of these times, and the beauty of this place that is no longer wild like it was then, but is still equally remarkable.

This photo is labeled as "bathtub washout" no year but from the same era as above photo  ca 1950. (Thurlow Archives)
This photo is labeled as “bathtub washout” no year but from the same era as above photo ca 1950. (Thurlow Archives)

The photo above shows Seminole Shores, that became “Sailfish Point” and a formalized  county beach–“Bathtub Reef Beach.” Even at the time of this photograph there were “issues:” the photo is labeled “Washout.”  As we all know, today, this area is still eroding away and the county must spend substantial amounts of monies  in partnerships with the state of Florida to “re-nourish” this area. See chart below for all Martin County, provided for me by Martin County.

Beach Re-nourishment Costs.
Beach Re-nourishment Costs Ten Year History, 2015.

When I really think about it, every era of history has its difficulties. It is never simple.

The aerial photos I am sharing today were taken not long after the atrocities of World War II. I was born in the social and political unrest of the 1960s…Today has its own set of problems whether it be the possibility of terrorists training in Treasure Coast airports; our eroding beaches; the “tipping point” that has occurred with releases from Lake Okeechobee and the area canals into our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon; our struggles with the US Sugar option land purchase; or the next population explosion that our state is counting on….

Nonetheless, it is rather amusing to me, that after all these years, some things remain the same: it is still beautiful here;  I still love the fish; and somehow sometimes I still feel like I am running on the hot sands to see how long I can stand it, having to stop to pull out those irritating stickers; and every once in a while, I stick my net into a hole, and out pops a moray eel…. 🙂


Martin County Beaches: (http://www.martin.fl.us/portal/page?_pageid=354%2C1238847&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL)

TreasureCoast.com news piece HISTORY/SAVE OUR BEACHES, JTL: (http://www.treasurecoast.com/index.cfm/on-the-water/fishing-news/e2809csave-our-beaches-campaign-e2809cinstilled-activism-1974-2014-indian-river-lagoon/)

10 thoughts on “A Simpler Time and Place? Hutchinson Island, SLR/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Thank you Facebook friends for your awesome comment:

    Nicole Lebel: I remember parking our car in, under and around the big mangroves at Jensen Beach before popping the trunk to collect all the necessary beach fun equipment. Chairs, surf boards, towels, snorkels, umbrellas, cookers, coolers. Many great memories of treasures collected in nets, studied with fascination and then released. I have an Uncle who visited from up north who has a rather painful sandspur-beach story that I’ll never forget!! Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is NOT the best path!!

    Lisa Jefferson: Late last Spring I walked up beach at Kite Beach in Jupiter to take pictures of wildflowers blooming.Of course I was barefoot & had completely forgotten about the existence of the oversized sandspurs that grow there.I got one in each foot,which made standing on one to take the sticker out of the other one very uncomfortable.When I first started doing kitesurfing photography,someone turned me on to wearing socks to keep my feet from burning.All these years in Florida & I never thought of that?I love your memories,Jacqui!

    Gayle Ryan: Sharing
    7 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Robert Pilla The Bathtub was awesome. I too recall walking that hot sand path and getting Stickers between my toes. Also the tar! getting the tar off our feet when we got home and the smell of kerosine.

    I have not been there in well over 20 years. Last time I was there the reef was nearly gone. people had carved initials into the worm structure. The huge parking lot had arrived. It was sad. A truly unique ecosystem destroyed.

    I just looked at Google Earth. Did they remove that parking lot and restore the beach?7 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Thanks for sharing your memories Robert Pilla. No the parking lot is there but it is dirt and under more dirt. Yes the tar! That it no longer as it was an improvement–from the bilge of ships i think…?
    7 hours ago · Edited · Like

    Robert Pilla Next time I am in town i will need to stop by the New Elliot Museum. Maybe one day stuart will suite my personality better, but for now i love the big city.
    7 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Bill Murphy I miss what we use to have. I remember the sea horses as a kid, the reef was alive. now it is dead. Sad what humans have done. The water was always clear. The sand was hot and prickers were all over, but the beach sand was white. Not like today. The tar is gone, but so is the life in the water. look at the clarity of the water in the picture. I remember the schools of whiting and croaker. It is all gone now. Sad.
    7 hours ago · Unlike · 2

    Adam Schwartz I remember it much different from today too.
    6 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Christopher Lynch I agree, hopefully moving back to Florida next year!
    6 hours ago · Unlike · 4

    Sunni Kittrell Ashforth What beautiful memories Jacqui!! This was the beach I went to most often when I lived there, to be alone and get my fill of its beauty. I would usually have a headache when I left because I stayed too long. I meant to check it out last visit and didn’t get around to it. Hope to move back someday also Christopher! WIsh it was as soon as next year! Thanks for sharing this in your blog Jacqui!
    5 hours ago · Unlike · 2

    Rebecca Fatzinger wow..those were the days for sure…sad to see how its changed ..mostly for the worst
    3 hours ago · Unlike · 2

    Patti Strait Jacqui, thanks for sharing…it brought back memories for me of coming to the island in the 60’s…yep tar, nettles, bugs & ketosene but, the most beautiful island, beach, ocean and river that I’d ever seen. I’m thankful to have shared in that the ‘simpler’ life.

    Julia Boese‎Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    8 hrs ·
    Love reading your blog Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch!

  2. Jacqui, thanks for another nice story and making good memories come alive. I also think back to my childhood as a great time of easy and free. I like the idea of no responsibilities! Thanks for your writings!

  3. “The aerial photos I am sharing today were taken not long after the atrocities of World War II.”. What atrocities of WWII are you referring and what do they have to do with Hutchinson Island? As far as real history goes – Hutchinson Island was a lookout spot for enemy ships.

    This was a great blog post and yes – simpler times were had after WWII up until the end of the 80’s for the most part. Thereafter some kooks in Washington thought our nation needed more cultural diversity and decided to bring in people from the Middle East that hate us and every nation not under Shaira law. Well, how is that diversity working out? Terrorists and the need to have military guards at our airports.. cultural diversity.. we now can live like our friends in Israel have to live. I am afraid that you are right in bringing up the fear and evil we have to live under today – unfortunately many just do not educate themselves enough in realizing that history is repeating itself. George Washington had formed the Marines to defend our ships from the Islamic Radicals in the middle east and Thomas Jefferson proved that Islam shouldn’t be protected as a religion since it is impossible to separate “Church and State” from the Islamic religion that demands full allegiance to it over nation… for legal matters and all. Keeping borders wide open means terrorists can walk right in, convicted killers from other nations and so forth. I hope we can wake up and go back to the simpler times – but we must realize how we achieved that feeling of safety, innocence and happiness.

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