Tag Archives: hobe sound

“Clever Coyote,” Not Going Away, SLR/IRL

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Like it or not, “Coyote” is here, and coyote is not going away. He is clever; he is ancient; and he is a master at adapting to his environment, as are we—humans. We have met our match.

Of course because both are “canines,” coyotes can mate with our friends, domesticated dogs. This is documented out west; they are known as “coydogs.”  Hmmmmm?

"Coyote and Road Runner" was a cartoon my generation grew up with but he was not always so smart!
Warner Bros. “Looney Tunes,” “Coyote and Road Runner” was a cartoon my generation grew up with. Unlike in real life, “Coyote” was not always so smart!

Coyote Road Runner Cartoon: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz65AOjabtM)

Don’t get me wrong… the first time I read that coyotes were “here,” in Marin County…the first time I saw Bud Adams’ picture on the back page of “Indian River Magazine,” the hair went up on the back of my neck. Old wives tales and ancient fears gripping me….

Since that time, I have read a lot and learned more. I am cautious but not afraid. In fact my roommate at this month’s University of Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute class was a coyote expert for the Florida Wildlife Commission. We stayed up late into the night; she showed me photos of all the things coyotes eat and told me first hand stories of how places like Hernando County, Florida, are dealing with the issue.

I sat in silent awe….

One of the most interesting things she shared was that the population of coyotes goes up the more populated an area is–you would think the opposite. “Coyotes have moved in and adapted so well we sometimes wonder who the suburbs were actually built for, us or them.” Her excellent article is at the end of this post.

Last night at a Sewall’s Point Commission meeting, a resident came forward during public comment to report about the coyotes in her subdivision. Passions flared! The discussion included guns, protected wildlife, unprotected wildlife, trapping, not leaving out cat food, not leaving out cats, as well as not leaving your small dogs or small children outside unattended. In the end, it was decided comprehensive town education was the best approach.

.....public image.
Coyote, public image.

I find my self struggling with the image of coyote. Last night after the meeting, I took a walk and kept waiting for one’s red eyes to shine in the reflection of my iPhone. At every corner I was sure one was standing….They do intimidate me, but I am intrigued with their success. I respect them.

This animal is deeply associated with Native Americans who of course “we” eradicated. Remember the Seminole Wars? The US relocation plans? Not that long ago really.  Perhaps this is our karma?

For many Native American tribes the coyote, known as a trickster for his ability to “be everywhere at once,”  was the most powerful of creatures. In fact, it was believed that tribal members of tremendous power could “shift” shape into a coyote achieving amazing things….Why the coyote? The reasons are many, but one is because “Coyote,” just as in the Greek story of Prometheus, —-(also a clever trickster)—-brought fire from Heaven to the Earth, betraying the Gods, to help us survive.

Perhaps there is a greater message here? I don’t know…but it has me thinking…One thing is for sure: smart, master-adapter, coyote is here in Sewall’s Point, and throughout Martin County. And he is so smart and adaptable that “he is not going away.”

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—Coyotes are now reported in all 67 counties of the state of Florida. They also live throughout much of the nation.

–Due to agriculture/rancher and landowner complaints, California spent 20 million dollars to eradicate coyotes with no success and now ironically the population is perhaps higher than ever.

—Coyotes are omnivorous, like people, eating everything especially insects, pet food, vegetation, road-kill, rodents, and “trash.” Thus they adapt easily.

—-Coyotes have flourished and spread since the human eradication of the larger canine family wolf —in Florida and through out the U.S.  When top predators are removed others expand.

—Coyotes hunt in family groups not “packs, or alone; ” They mate for life and their social nature is part of their success.

—Read article below for tips on how to live and/or deal with coyotes.

Public image...
Public image of an attractive coyote.

FWC article coyotes by Angeline Scotten: (http://hernandosun.com/coyotes_in_hernando)

Mrs Pettway’s Gomez Grocery, Indian River Lagoon

Pettyway Grocery has been in business since the early 1900s. Photo Duren Rooing, Facebook.
The Pettyway Grocery’s location has been in business serving the Gomez community since ca 1920s. Photo Duren Roofing, Facebook.
Map today of inland area of the Gomez Grant. Town of Gomez in bottom right.
Map today of inland area of the Gomez Grant. Town of Gomez in bottom right.

It was Sunday afternoon and I was driving south on Dixie Highway. Henry Flagler’s train tracks and the Indian River Lagoon were just east of my line of sight. From a distance, I saw the grocery’s signature blue trim. I’d driven by hundreds of times but never gone inside….in an instant, I knew this was the day.

I pulled over my car and walked inside. The bell clanged against the door and I could see an older pretty African-American woman doing paper work; I bent down and stared through the shelves…”

“This must be the matriarch of Gomez,” I thought. She looked up at me with sharp, clear eyes, like an eagle. When she saw me standing there, her expression softened and she smiled. “May I help you?”

“I am looking for Mrs Annie Pettway,” I said.

“That’s me,” she replied…

I told her who I was, why I’d come, and that I’d just recently met her niece , Mrs Ollie Harvey. Mrs Pettway invited me to sit in the chair by the side of her desk. We spoke and she told me of her long and change filled life in the Indian River Lagoon Region of Gomez in Hobe Sound.

She was born in 1941. She had been through segregation and desegregation. She had seen it all. Her mother Mattie Mae, and father, Bill Pettway moved to the area in 1909 from Alabama. They worked hard, purchased land, apartments, a trucking business, and the area’s first grocery store. Her father was the first black man to own his own business. Today, there is a park down the street named in the family’s honor…

“Were you born here I asked?” She smiled and hit her knee. “Yes mam; I was born right down the street!” She pointed southwest.

People came and went in the store, both black and white; everyone seemed in good spirits and the conversation was relaxed and familiar. I felt like I was in the Bahamas. I liked the feel. The bell would clang and Mrs Annie would get up and ring her customers out while I waited. While she worked, I watched her and I thought about all the history and all the people who had walked through those doors. I thought about how much things have changed along our Indian River Lagoon.

I also thought about what my mother and brother have taught me about this unique area of Martin County…

This land was part of the famous Spanish Gomez Land Grant preceding Florida’s stateship  in 1845. Due to title/legal issues that eventually played out in the United States Supreme Court, the land was not surveyed in the 1850s like the rest of Florida. The Gomez Grant situation was eventually worked out, and then acquired by the Indian River and Pineapple Growers Association in 1893; later, the Indian River Association in 1904. It was really the Indian River Association that began “developing.”

When looking at a map you’ll notice that unlike most  of the rest of Martin County, other than its sister “Hanson Grant,” the roads of Bridge and Pettway stand out. None of the Gomez Grant area roads run directly east/west or north/south. Instead, the east/west roads run at a roughly 66 degree northeast angle, which is perpendicular to the shoreline, following the old Spanish land grant. The north/south roads run approx 24 degrees west of north-south or perpendicular to the east-west  roads…This makes this area unique and gives it a historical “signature.”

Gomez Grant from the book of Nathaniel Reed, A Different Vision.
Gomez Grant from the book of Nathaniel Reed,” A Different Vision.”

I stopped day-dreaming…

Mrs Annie sat back down.

“Mrs Pettway, why don’t they call it “Gomez” anymore? Wasn’t this area called Gomez?

“That was the old name, and it is still Gomez, but today we call it all Hobe Sound. It’s all one name now; things have changed.” There was a twinkle in her eye, and I stopped asking questions.  I suddenly knew that no amount time could really tell the amazing American story of Mrs Annie and the family of Pettway.

Annie Pettway in the 1960s. Photo from History of Hobe Sound , by Paula Mac Arthur Cooper
Annie Pettway in the 1960s. Photo from History of Hobe Sound, by Paula Mac Arthur Cooper.

Hobe Sound Chamber history: (http://www.hobesound.org/history.html)
Florida Memory: (https://www.floridamemory.com/collections/spanishlandgrants/)

History Demolished, The Train Depots of Stuart and Martin County, SLR/IRL

The Jensen train depot ca. early part of 1900s, photo courtesy of Seth Bramson, via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
The Hobe Sound Depot with engine ca. early part of 1900s, photo courtesy of Stuart Heritage.

I was recently reminded of train depots while reading a front page “Stuart News” article showing an artist painting a mural of the old Hobe Sound Train Depot….All Aboard Florida being rammed down our throats has the Treasure Coast very unhappy about “trains…” yet our area has a history of trains that we may know a bit better if the rail service and the government hadn’t demolished most of the depots that once peppered the Indian River Lagoon Region from Volusia to Palm Beach counties.

As the daughter of a historian, I was fortunate to hear many stories during my youth that if nothing else “made me think.” One of these stories was about how lonely it was to be pioneer here in Stuart’s early days. My mother would say….

Stuart Train Depot, photo courtesy of Historical Society of Martin County, Elliott Museum via Sandra Thurlow.
Stuart Train Depot, photo courtesy of Historical Society of Martin County, Elliott Museum via archives of Sandra Thurlow.

“Jacqui, for the people, for the women especially, this was a very lonely place.”

The daily train used to alleviate that loneliness and give the people a place to meet, gossip, and share. Kind of like today’s Facebook. As my mother Sandra Thurlow notes in her book, “Stuart on the St Lucie,” “Town life centered around the arrivals and departures of passenger trains that also brought the mail.”

Sound familiar? “YOU’VE GOT MAIL!”

Jensen Depot. Photo courtesy of Seth Branson via Sandra Thurlow.
Jensen Depot. Photo courtesy of Seth Bramson via Sandra Thurlow.
Train depot
Train depot in Hobe Sound, courtesy of Seth Bramson via archives of Sandra Thurlow.

From my reading it sounds as if most of the construction and the use of depots and lesser “flag stops,” (a flag was raised if they needed the conductor to stop?)….was between 1894 and 1935. The Hurricanes of 1926 and 1928 coupled with the real estate crash of 1926 was a big part of the railroads’ demise as was the fact that wholesale fishing industries waned from unwise over-fishing, and pineapples had to start competing with Cuba. So basically, in about one generation, the railroads depots and the railroad of Henry Flagler along the Lagoon had seen their “best days.”

In the 1960s and before, the aging, remaining, cute-little, aging stations were demolished by order of F.E.C. Railway officials. As my mother writes about the Stuart Depot: “The depot that was once the center of the community’s activities was demolished without fanfare during the 1960s.”

And so “it goes,” and “so it went”….. THERE GOES THE TRAIN!

The passenger train is gone, along with the depots….today we have too much car traffic, roads are everywhere, All Abroad Florida threats purport a bleak future, Florida’s population is expanding, Panama Canal freight is coming…

Well, at least we have Facebook or we can stay home and text…..

Hmmmmm?

What will the future bring? 🙂

Walton Flag Stop, with people happy to see each other and get the mail. Photo. (Photo courtesy of Reginald Waters Rice and Sandra Thurlow's book "Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida's Indian River."
Walton Flag Stop, with people happy to see each other and get the mail. Photo. Photo courtesy of Reginald Waters Rice and Sandra Thurlow’s book “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River.”

Great link shared by Rick Langdon of Walton Flag Stop and what wonderful things came of it: (http://rickinbham.tripod.com/TownOfSIRD/SIRD_Homes_11090RidgeAve.html)
(In Martin and southern St Lucie counties, there were stations in Jensen, Stuart, Salerno, Hobe Sound, and “Flag Stops” in Walton, Eden.)

 

Salerno Depot, courtesy of Seth Bramson via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Salerno Depot, courtesy of Seth Bramson via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Train route along Indian River/St Lucie. Map Sandra Thurlow's book "Jensen and Eden..."
Train route along Indian River/St Lucie. Map Sandra Thurlow’s book “Jensen and Eden…”
Eden's Flag Stop. (SHT)
Eden’s Flag Stop. (SHT)
Inside cover of Stuart on the St Lucie, Sandra Henderson Thurlow shows train depot in downtown.
Inside cover of “Stuart on the St Lucie,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Photo shows train depot in downtown, Stuart.

Thank you to my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, for sharing all the photos for this blog post.