Recently, I visited Bob Washam and his wife Cynthia in their home along the Indian River Lagoon in Jensen Beach. Because Bob has recently retired and had a very long career at the Martin County Health Department, I wanted to interview him about the river and the history of toxic algae blooms. Obviously this is a very serious topic, and I kept trying to ask him questions, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off the coconut head hanging in his kitchen.
“Sorry to go off topic, but what’s the story with the coconut head in the kitchen Bob? It looks authentic. Old. It’s really cool.”
“Oh that’s Connie.” He matter-a-factly replied…
Bob told me that when he was a young man and went to college at FIT in Jensen in 1975 Pitchford’s Bar was closed, “but the heads were still hanging there.” Eventually he was given one. It’s a special reminder of Jensen’s earlier days…Bob took out some old photos and allowed me to share them with you today.
Jensen establishments, Seymour’s Inn, Pitchford’s Bar, and Poor Bobs were all located right next to each other on Indian River Drive, just north of the Jensen (Frank Wacha) Bridge. Their popularity somewhat overlapped, but over the years they all deteriorated. Nonetheless, these establishments left wonderful memories for thousands of people. Bob Washam also has great memories. He told me a story about “Pineapple Louie,” a Jensen Beach local character from the 70’s.
“One day when I was working at Poor Bob’s, he ran into kitchen, grabbed a big knife and chased another bar patron onto Indian River Drive. That was our big excitement back in those days. That and dancing with…ladies at Seymours after our work shift. ” –Bob Washam
My mother writes more historically about Seymour’s Inn in her book “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River.”
“Jensen’s main attraction was its wonderful fishing. The mile long bridge was not only lined with fishermen on both rails, it was a social gathering place. What was needed was a place to enjoy a cold beer after a day of fishing…
Seymour’s Inn officially opened on December 13th, 1936 in the former filling station building and grew through the years with numerous additions. Seymour’s became the “fun spot” of Martin County. There was square dancing, round dancing, and mixers seven days a week. Seymour, the owner, played harmonica, musical groups performed, and there were Sunday afternoon jam sessions and costume parties…
…War came in the 1940s and Seymour’s became a popular place with servicemen stationed in the area in the 1940s during World War II. Following the war, Seymour’s continued to be popular and drew people from miles around…
Today, times have changed, but the spirit of these places along Indian River Drive absolutely lives on….next time you drive by, if you slow down and listen, you may even hear the music and laughter of the age. 🙂
Seymour’s Inn is-now popular attraction Conchy Joes owned by the famous and generous Fred Ayres; Pitchford’s Bar much later became Dena’s Restaurant, and now is under new ownership with the funny huge shark with a ladies legs hanging out on the facade; and Poor Bob’s is an empty lot just north of the bridge.
Florida Audubon: Toxic Algae Blooms in the SLR/IRL (http://fl.audubon.org/crisis-indian-river-lagoon-solutions-imperiled-ecosystem)
*All of Sandra Thurlow Henderson’s books on local areas, Stuart, Jensen, Sewall’s Point and the House of Refuge can be purchased at Barnes and Noble on US 1 in Stuart, near Jensen Beach Boulvard.