Tag Archives: birthday

51 Years of Marvelous Memories Along the Indian River Lagoon

Sunset North River Shores, 6-27-15
Sunset, North River Shores, 6-27-15

In the opening chapter of Nathaniel Osborn’s soon to be published thesis, “Oranges and Inlets: An Environmental History of Florida’s Indian River Lagoon,” he quotes Herman Herold in 1884: “It is a wonderful river…immensely deep and very fine sweet water; the beauties of nature are here very manifest , in fact it is a wonderland…”

Eighth birthday party at Sandsprit Park, with S to R Brenda Bobinski, Barbie Bobinski, Linda Nelson and Dale "Chip" Hudson.
Eighth birthday party at Sandsprit Park, with L to R Brenda Bobinski, Amy Harmon, Barbie Bobinski, Linda Nelson and Dale “Chip” Hudson. (Photo Sandra Thurlow 1972)

In 1964, Stuart News editor, and iconic award-winning environmentalist, Ernest Lyons, wrote something similar, in his piece “Life is a Changing River.” 

“And what a marvelous river it was, with the pelicans diving into the mullet schools, bald eagles screaming as they robbed ospreys of their prey, a river teeming with interesting things to see and do, and such good things to eat…Pompano jumped into the boats. Tasty oysters were abundant–‘squirt clams put hair on your chest.’ How sad it is to see it change. But life, too, is a changing river. I suppose the river today is just as wonderful to those who are as young as I was in 1914.”

Lyons was born in 1905.

I was born in 1964.

The river, as life, is always changing and even though we are fighting for the river’s life and it is not well, it still provides wonder to all.

After graduating from University of Florida in 1986, I wanted to get as far away from “boring” Stuart as I could so I lived and worked in California, Germany, and Pensacola.  Nonetheless, I always considered the Indian River Lagoon Region “home,” and after growing-up and realizing Stuart was actually paradise, it was “to its shores” in 1997 that I returned. But it was not the same. Stuart had grown up too. Things change.

Today is my birthday. I am fifty-one!

It is interesting to be 51, only because when I was a kid, I thought someone who was 50 was “really old…” I had no idea that although “weathered,” and “dried-out, “by the storms and rainbows of life, being old is really quite fun and can actually be an advantage.

First of all, no one is telling you what to do, as much as when you were a kid;  and second of all, for me anyway, there is a much deeper appreciation of this life. This gift. This wonderland…

First Fish, Jacqui, IRL. (Photo Sandra Thurlow, ca .1968)
First Fish, a blowfish, Jacqui, IRL. (Photo Sandra Thurlow, ca .1968)

A quick run though of my early memories of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and why its memories are powerful for me, would include:

….every day at sunset, climbing the gigantic tree in my parent’s yard so I could see the river and the ocean and the sky; sneaking on my bike to the “black-road, “Riverside Drive,” in Stuart, so we kids could play in a fallen Australian Pine, pretending it was a ship and we were pirates; fishing under the bridges and then later making a pact with God that I would never do so again after the blow fish grunted so much I thought it was talking;  after school, visiting the shoreline of the river, never thinking of who owned the property because it was all wild, to find hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs and any number of small and amazing creatures; seining with my classmates at the Environmental Studies Center; long summer days with my best friends in high school, learning to slalom; spending the night on the spoil islands and talking until sunrise under a gigantic shining moon;  traveling from the river through the inlet into the dark blue ocean while accompanying my father fishing for sailfish, straddling front bars of the boat, to see an enormous  manta-ray jump so close that I could see its eye….

Manta Ray public photo
Jumping manta ray public photo

Today my Indian River Lagoon adventures are less so, but still remain wondrous. This past weekend Ed and I went out in the boat at sunset with my brothers’ family and my nieces. We took silhouette photos against the sky…One day my nieces will be old too.

For the young, for the old, for the future…

“What a marvelous river it is…..”

Sunset photo over the St Lucie River 6-27-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Sunset photo over the St Lucie River 6-27-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

 

 

 

 

The Contributions of “The History Lady,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian and author has written four books about the pioneer culture along the St Lucie River/IndianRiver Lagoon.(Photo, Tom Thurlow, 2010)
Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian and author, has written four books about the pioneer culture along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. (Photo, Tom Thurlow, 2011.)

As the jacket of her Sewall’s Point Book states:

“Sandra Thurlow was a resident of Sewall’s Point for twelve years before she became fascinated by its history. In 1986, the Town of Sewall’s Point commissioners ordered the demolition of  a lovely old home that stood on a bluff overlooking the St Lucie River. Queries revealed that it was once the High Point Rod and Gun Club, a wildness retreat for a coterie of politically powerful Philadelphians. Further research uncovered a wealth of local history that needed to the shared and preserved. ”

As you may already know or have guessed, Sandra is my mother and the house was one the children of Sewall’s Point played in and got into trouble having lots of fun….And yesterday, we as a family honored Sandra’s  75th birthday and today she will be featured in my blog. 🙂

Even though she is my mother, it is my opinion that no one has done more for “Stuart’s” local history and  no one has written more about the pioneer families who made their way along this wilderness, once known as “Santa Lucia” or the “Indian River Region.”

When I came back to visit Sewall’s Point and Stuart after graduating from University of Florida in 1986, I could tell things had really changed at the Thurlow house. My sister Jenny was getting ready to go off to school, I had been gone four years and our bedrooms were being transformed into offices. –Offices  full of shelves and drawers of historic negatives, old maps from my father’s law office, abstracts,  camera equipment, historic photos, taped interviews and the beginnings of what would become personal computers.

“Wow, ” I thought,  “that’s cool, she and dad certainly will not suffer from empty nest syndrome when Todd leaves in another two years….”

As the years went on, she and my father, dove into the history of our area, and the history of our area is the history of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. A teacher by early profession and native of Gainesville, by 2008, my mother, with the help of my dad, had written and published four books: Sewall’s Point, the History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast; Stuart on the St Lucie; Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River; and together with my sister-in-law Deanna, Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, Home of History.

Book covers of the local history books written by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Book covers of the local history books written by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

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My mother taught me not to brag. But today I am bragging. It’s time. She has inspired and educated not only me but thousands of people. She has given talks, presented slide shows, worked with students in our local high schools, and has won state awards for her work.

I think she has helped make Martin County one of the “best documented histories” of our state. And through it all, whether she is writing about Captain Richards and his daughter Lucy of Eden struggling to grow pineapples in the sandy soil along the Indian River; or the first pioneers of Stuart trading with the Seminoles and calling their new-found paradise, “Stuart on the St Lucie;” or the early fish houses pouring over in Jensen Beach; or the shark fishermen in Salerno; or the lonely House of Refuge Keepers longing for the site of a ship or boat in river or ocean and who sustained themselves from the great riches of its waters; and even the documentation of the great detriment  that came to this place through the false hope of canals and connection to Lake Okeechobee, she writes about the relationship of people to the land and the relationship of people to the water.  The water is our history and we are the water, as that is why we came to this land….

Thank you mom for all of your work and happy birthday! Stuart is 100,  you are 75 and I, your oldest, am 50. Time is flying, and  the water that defines this place is still defining it as we fight to bring it back to health so that future generations can have some stories and write some books too.

75 birthday SHT
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Sandra’s books are available at Stuart Heritage, 161 Flagler Avenue, Stuart, FL 34994 in Downtown Stuart.(http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com) and through Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.