Tag Archives: peacocks

Watching Over His “Legacy of Beauty,” Mr Jack Crain’s Orange Avenue Peacocks, Ft Pierce, SLR/IRL

Peacock sitting atop wall, Orange Avenue, Ft Pierce, Florida. 5-8-17, JTL
Crain Building Orange Ave, Ft Pierce, home of the peacocks
Orange Avenue, Ft Pierce

I love Ft Pierce. Every time I’m there I feel like I see a good friend I haven’t seen in awhile: “Old Florida.”

Not only does Ft Pierce have a rich history, a great revived downtown, sit along the beautiful Indian River Lagoon, offer a river and sparkling beaches not contaminated by Lake Okeechobee discharges, the city just has so much CHARACTER.

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day and as I drove past the iconic Crain house on Orange Avenue, decorated with special tiles and styles, my eyes locked with a peacock. I was captivated and pulled over my car to take a look around. Numerous birds crossed the busy street, jumped in the large oak trees, loudly calling to their mates. The busy cars darted around corners, merging off US1, and then stopped politely and patiently as the peahens, especially, decided if they really wanted to cross the road.

It was quite a sight.

I winced a couple of times thinking this was the end for one or more of the birds, but somehow there was a consciousness, an awareness, and the dance between the cars and the peafowl appeared almost scripted, as if a greater power were watching, maybe even  intervening…..

“This is awesome,” I thought. Just how did this come to be, I wondered. I saw CRAIN on the eccentric, large building where the peacocks were gathering. I knew of the gentleman because I had actually called once years ago to inquire about the birds….But who was he really? When I got home and researched, this is what I learned:

Jack Crain’s obituary photo, St Lucie County.

Jackson Crain, Obituary, Legacy.com

Fort Pierce, FL

Jackson Crain, age 90, of Fort Pierce, Florida, passed away at his home on October 17, 2016.

Jack was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, and has been a longtime resident of Fort Pierce. Jack attended school in St. Louis before serving in the United States Army for a brief period of time. After being discharged he went to work for the railroad in Missouri. While in Missouri, Jack met Mary Lee Steinhoff, whom lived next door to his aunt. He married her February 9. 1952. After moving to Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce, Florida, Jack opened Buccaneer Building and Tile Company, and American Travel Agency, which he opened and operated along with his wife Mary Lee for 29 years. Jack also served as a Scout Master for the Boy Scouts of America.

Jack was a member of St. Anastasia Catholic Church, and had an affinity for peacocks and peahens, which he raised at his home on Orange Avenue. He also enjoyed coin collecting, traveling, and collecting knives, swords, fine art and paintings from around the world. Jack and Mary Lee traveled around the world nine times.

Jack was the devoted and loving husband of Mary Lee Crain for the past 64 years; beloved brother of Margaret Ray of Enterprise, AL, Dorothy Cardinale of St. Charles, MO, Hazel Dalton of St. Louis, MO, and Richard Berthold Crain of Orlando, FL; and many nieces and nephews.

Full obituary: http://m.legacy.com/obituaries/tcpalm/obituary.aspx?n=jackson-crain&pid=182002295&referrer=0&preview=false

Thank you to Mr Crain for watching over your legacy of beauty that makes Ft Pierce an even a cooler place. I promise to be careful when I see one of your birds crossing the road!

A peahen

Link to me trying to video peacock: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtAEZKzdT-0)

Amusing articles of interest about the Orange Avenue Peacocks:

Ft Pierce Net: http://fort-pierce.net/fort-pierce-residents-urge-city-to-put-up-peacock-crossing-signs/

TC Palm: http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/fort-pierce-woman-says-fecund-peacocks-damaged-her-roof–photo-gallery-ep-384925179-344403612.html

Other:

PeafowlWiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peafowl

City of Ft Pierce web site: http://www.cityoffortpierce.com/224/About-Fort-Pierce

St Lucie County Historical Society: http://www.stluciehistoricalsociety.net

“Langford Landing,” a Tribute to the Late Frances Langford? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Frances Langford and Ralph Eventide photographed before their trademark Tiki Hut and pond, Jensen Beach Estate, 1961. (Photo Aurthur Ruhnke with permission of historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Frances Langford and Ralph Evenrude photographed before their trademark Tiki Hut and pond, Jensen Beach Estate, 1961. (Photo Arthur Ruhnke with permission of historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Frances Langford
Frances Langford as young movie star. April 4, 1913 – July 11, 2005 

“I am sure the new development will be re-landscaped very beautifully, but it is hard to see the once serene property so desecrated.” –Local historian, Sandra Thurlow, 2016

“Frances Langford,” the name is as beautiful as the woman. She is a legend here in Martin County and much of the world. No one has been more generous, loving, and appreciative  towards our community. A true philanthropist, her name graces buildings, parks, and centers from the Indian River Lagoon to Indiantown.

As a singer and movie star, she is best known for “entertaining the troops” during World War II aside Bob Hope. Through her family, young Frances was exposed to Jensen Beach, and later, after the war, came back to create her dream:  “Frances Langford’s Polynesian Outrigger Resort.” It sat along the beautiful St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon just north of Sewall’s Point.

Over time, inspired by her travels, Frances and her husbands created a tropical paradise known far and wide. Cottages, a restaurant, a marina, palm trees, rare foliage, freshwater ponds, peacocks, and even swans graced the property. Famous movie stars often visited. She gave Martin County a reputation and she put it on the map. She made Martin County’s Jensen Beach her permanent home.

Frances chose to build her personal residence near Mount Pisgah, the highest point of the peninsula. Lore has it that pirates and Indians once lived here too, standing on the high bluff looking for passing ships in the ocean. The property is steeped in beauty, history, and mystery. Sadly, in the end, the remaining 53 acre parcel was treated like any other piece of real estate.

After a long wait since the 2008 Great Recession, the property is finally being developed ironically as “Langford Landing.” The manner in which this is being done has taken most us by surprise.

Is it really necessary to remove every beloved palm tree, stately strangler fig, and blade of grass? Surely Frances thought some of her legacy might stand. It has not. The majority of the property has been scraped clean for new development. My sister said it best: “Jacqui, from the water, it looks like the property has been Napalmed.”

There has to be—-a better way.

the Tiki Hut and pond, Frances feeding her swans. (Aurthur Ruhnke courtesy o Sandra Thurlow, 1961)
The Tiki Hut, bridge and pond, Frances feeding her swans. Many fundraisers were held here and many movie starts attended “in the day.” (Arthur Ruhnke courtesy o Sandra Thurlow, 1961)
Langford Estate 1961. Aurthur Ruhnke.
Langford Estate 1961. (Arthur Ruhnke/ST)
Langford Estate 1961.
Langford Estate 1961. (Arthur Ruhnke/ST)
View of estate from river by kayaker. This photo was sent to me from a Facebook friend.
View of estate from river by kayaker. This photo was sent to me by a Facebook friend.

Video of Ed and my flight over Langford Estate 1-1-16, juxtaposed to historic photographs, created by Todd Thurlow. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuUVlsk9TXs&list=PLDaNwdmfhj15bmGNQaGhog9QpkQPAXl06&index=1)

Tiki hut in ruins 2016. (Rebecca Fatainger.)
Tiki hut in ruins 2016. (Rebecca Fatzinger)
Around the pond, 2015. (Photo by Rebecca Fatzinger)
Around the pond, palm trees lay in a heap. 2015. (Photo by Rebecca Fatzinger)
Today, photo of Langford property by Rebecca Fatzinger.
Today in 2015/16 photo of Langford property by (Rebecca Fatzinger)
The grounds 2015. Rebecca Fatzinger.
The grounds 2015/16  (Rebecca Fatzinger)
Estate sold for development. (Courtesy Todd Thurlow)
Estate sold for development. (Courtesy Todd Thurlow/Google Earth)
Scared clean, Frances Langford estate today. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)
From the air–history scraped clean, 1-1-16, Frances Langford’s estate after all foliage has been removed. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Ed Lippisch )
Langford Estate 12-3-16. (Photo by Todd Thurlow)
Langford Estate seen from the St Lucie River, 12-3-16. (Photo by Todd Thurlow)
Photo of Frances Langford's peacock on her estate...1980s. (A gift to me from her housekeeper)
Photo of one of Frances Langford’s peacocks on her estate, 1980s. (A gift to me from her housekeeper 2006.)
Young Frances. Public photo.
Young Frances. Public photo.
Frances in her later years.
Frances in her later years.

Development documents Langford’s Landing:

(https://documents.martin.fl.us/Documents2010/content/Agenda_Items/gmd/2015/8D1-2014-12-16%20Langford%20Landing%20Final%20Site%20Plan.pdf)

Frances Langford: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Langford)

Francis Langford’s Peacocks Along the Indian River Lagoon….

Peacock sits in Francis Langford's Royal Poinciana Tree. Photo gift to Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch from worker on Mrs Langford's Estate, 2005.
Peacock sits in Francis Langford’s Royal Poinciana Tree, Rio. Photo, gift to Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch from worker on Mrs Langford’s Estate, 2005.

My father’s parents, Tom and Jane Thurlow, moved to the warm breezes of Stuart, Florida, along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon in 1952. They were coming from the cold winds and snow of Syracuse, New York. My grandfather was no “spring chicken;” he was 46 years old.

My grandparents have passed now, but I remember multiple conversations with them when in my youth when they would take me to “Francis Langford’s Polynesian Outrigger Resort,” today’s Dolphin Bar, on the north edge of Sewall’s Point in Jensen. During these special outings I would always ask the same question:

How was it that you moved to Stuart?

My grandparents racing their beloved sailboat. (Family photos, 1950s, Thurlow.)
My grandparents racing their beloved sailboat. (Family photos, 1950s, Thurlow.)

My grandparents would look at each other and smile, and then my grandfather would talk about how he refused to shovel anymore show, and how one day after great thought, he put aside his law practice, hooked the “Lightning” sail boat to the back of the station wagon; put my grandmother and the two young kids in the car…Oh yes, along with the dog, “Tanya,” a great dane; a mother cat with two kittens in box; and “Mary B,” my great grandmother, and drove down to Stuart, an area they had raced sailboats before….their beloved hobby.

About this time my grandmother would chime in that once while in Jensen, they went to “Francis Langford’s Outrigger Resort,” which reminded them of where they had been married, Bermuda, and John Hall, who played “Tarzan,” and Francis Langford, who had sung to the troops in World War II, and was a famous movie star of their era, owned the restaurant back then….. My aging, beautiful, grandmother, with a smile on her face, then told the story of Francis Langford and John Hall’s pink Cadillac, and how one night after a few cocktails, the couple drove them around the few roads of Jensen and Stuart in the 1950s. What fun! According to my grandmother, after the “ride” in the pink Cadillac,  they “were hooked,” and moved to Stuart soon after in 1952.

Francis Langford and husband Jon Hall, who played the role of Tarzan. (Public AP photo.)
Francis Langford and husband John Hall, who played the role of Tarzan. (Public AP photo.)

After my grandparents passed away, the legend of Francis Langford and the remnants of her Polynesian Outrigger Resort, took on an even greater romanticism in my mind. For me,  the essence of this era and my grandparents were symbolized in the Francis Langford’s remaining peacocks I would often see prancing around Jensen—- all of which are descendents of a pair which she brought to Jensen in the 1940s.

You may remember, that in 2001, some people in Rio/Jensen complained about her 100 or so peacocks that roamed freely on her 60 acres and often jumped, flew or walked to neighboring Sewall’s Point. Often, 707 would be backed up as drivers stopped to allow the menagerie  to slowly pass…

Peacock showing his feathers. Public photo.
Peacock dispalying  his feathers. Public photo.
A n afternoon visitor, 2008, Sewall's Point. (Photo JTL)
An afternoon visitor, 2008, Sewall’s Point. (Photo JTL)
Peahen in Sewall's Point at my house on Ed's car, 2008. Photo JTL.
Peacock in Sewall’s Point at my house on Ed’s car, 2008. Photo JTL.
Young peachick. Photo JTL 2008.
Young peachick. Photo JTL 2008.

The famous actress and philanthropist is quoted as saying in a 2001 Stuart News article:

“You just can’t keep them caged up. They are all around and I love them. They are part of my family….”

I used to see the peacocks all the time, but rarely today. In fact,  I used to see them right in here in Sewall’s Point, for years, until the US mailman accidentally ran over the male in the Archipelago and the remaining females and chicks were eaten by bobcats. The peahens even laid eggs in my yard one year.

I wish they would come back….even though they are an invasive bird, they hold a special meaning for me.

Peahen eggs in Sewall's Point, 2008.
Peahen eggs in Sewall’s Point, 2008.
Peachicks very much resemble baby chickens...(Photo JTL 2008)
Peachicks very much resemble baby chickens…(Photo JTL 2008)

So if you would, if you are passing along 707 in Rio and see the striking indigo blue of some local peafowl or some trailing yellow chicks, please stop, and let them cross the road. And when you have to wait, think about a bygone era of the Indian River Lagoon that included pink Cadillacs, Francis Langford, peacocks, and “Tarzan” as your chauffeur.

 

Sign in Rio.
Sign in Rio.

_____________

Florida Times Union: (http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/apnews/stories/060801/D7CGI3M81.html)

Peafowl: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peafowl)