Coastal Breeze News » Goodland Life http://www.coastalbreezenews.com Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:59:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Independence Day http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/11/independence-day/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/11/independence-day/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:54:43 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=40234 GOODLAND LIFE 
Melinda Gray 
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

Chef Mike Duncan spent Friday in constant motion. In addition to table-side greetings, he saw to the day's details.

Chef Mike Duncan spent Friday in constant motion. In addition to table-side greetings, he saw to the day’s details.

Living in a seasonal town is still very new to me. Though I am trying to acclimate quickly, many unfamiliar things about my home continue to surprise me.

My July 4th memories have always been made of Hallmark staples: red, white, blue, family, fireworks and food. But, they also were tainted by the woes of over-planning and stress. I expected this year to follow that time-tested recipe, sprinkled with a touch of homesickness. The sheer distance from my son, family and friends all but guaranteed a lonely, wistful holiday.

Contrary to my expectations, this Independence Day turned out to be a remarkably stress-free holiday, kicked off by Friday’s celebration at Marker 8.5. The atmosphere was familiar and informal, reminiscent of a family reunion or a backyard neighborhood barbecue. I didn’t once worry about keeping to a tight schedule or having too many things to accomplish, and that loathsome homesickness never even made an appearance.

I had a good time with new friends, ate delicious food, drank a few cold beers and listened to great music provided by Jim Allen. Even though the beautiful Southwest Florida day brought its signature oppressive heat, it became a catalyst for more socializing as people bounced from one shady spot to the next to take much-needed relief from the blistering mid-afternoon sun.

Goodlanders came out to enjoy the holiday in the company of family, friends and neighbors.

Goodlanders came out to enjoy the holiday in the company of family, friends and neighbors.

Among a markedly thinner population and a shrinking list of open establishments, the bash was another reminder of season’s end. This was the second year for the now annual Independence Day tradition hosted by the restaurant. Chef Mike Duncan has been consistent in his local-friendly, grounded approach to running things. Since purchasing the business April 1, 2013, he has made quite a few welcome changes to the historic watering hole, while keeping the history and charm of old Florida in Marker 8.5.

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Mike and the Marker 8.5 staff for their decision to remain open year-round. While off-season solitude, boredom, and monotony threaten to bring us down, full-time residents like me can still partake in some necessary human contact and happy hours.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

Pre-party preparations for the over-heating staff. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY On the day's menu was this yummy-looking slow-roasted pig. The smells reached out to the edges of the island. Local musician, Jim Allen entertained the slowly-roasting guests.

 

 


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The Anatomy of a Rumor http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/27/the-anatomy-of-a-rumor/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/27/the-anatomy-of-a-rumor/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:54:48 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39982 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

With a job to be done, workers took relief from the high temperatures in their man-made shade.

With a job to be done, workers took relief from the high temperatures in their man-made shade.

It’s a well-known fact that big news, or any news for that matter, travels fast in a community as small as Goodland. It’s also widely accepted that as news travels farther from its source it tends to lose the original, factual information in favor of a more dramatic, sensationalized version. In short, minor issues feel like major happenings, especially this time of year.

I recently experienced this phenomenon first-hand when what eventually proved to be a routine, short-lived inconvenience was all anyone could talk about in the days leading up to the morning of June 16. Goodland was scheduled to be without water for the better part of that Monday while the island’s 15-year-old water meters were systematically replaced.

Reports describing dark days to come made their way across more than 1,800 miles, finding us in Ohio. Given the fact that we had yet to see the actual notice, the message got a little lost in translation.

Our initial understanding was that we would be without water for weeks, a worrisome situation to say the least. Forever the skeptic, I thought we should call some of our Goodland friends to see if anyone had the scoop because the story we were hearing was just so unbelievable.

We determined that some of our neighbors had seen the flyer in their doors, but weren’t sure of how many days the shut-off would last. Others hadn’t even gotten the notice, but were not happy to hear about the implied community Port-a-Johns we would allegedly all be sharing for an indeterminate amount of time.

Hours of debate were followed by a sort of resignation to the unknown, but when we finally made it home, we were eager to lay eyes on and interpret the official paperwork for ourselves. Thankfully, it contained almost none of the aforementioned doom and gloom that was expected. We set out in preparation, and when the day did arrive, the whole ordeal was virtually painless.

As promised, a small tent was set up across from Stan’s providing bottled water to anyone who needed it, and three Port-a-Johns were offered at the boat ramp. With our showers out of the way and the pets’ water dishes full, the convenience of running water wasn’t even missed until late into the afternoon when, sadly, happy hour was canceled as our four local restaurants were closed.

All in all, we survived the county imposed, day-long drought, and water service was restored as the evening hours approached. We were placed on a “precautionary water boil notice” for an additional two days, and on June 18, residents were informed that bacteriological testing had deemed all was good again in Goodland.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426


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The Long Trip Home http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/13/the-long-trip-home/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/13/the-long-trip-home/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:23:01 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39513 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

The brisk Ohio morning brought some welcome sunshine, and just in time to tackle the last five hour leg of the trip.

The brisk Ohio morning brought some welcome sunshine, and just in time to tackle the last five hour leg of the trip.

The mission: a seemingly impossible road trip with the ultimate goal of packing up the last of my worldly possessions. I’ve got to gather what’s left in Ohio and bring it all back home to Goodland. I hear the “Mission Impossible” theme song in my head every time I think about the gravity of the situation, but it’s time to say goodbye to what was and start laying some permanent roots.

I will admit, in the weeks leading up to this mission I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Ohio. The daunting 24-hour drive promised to be just the beginning of a stressful week of hard labor to follow; and I honestly couldn’t remember needing anything I’d left behind. The part I dreaded most was saying goodbye to my son for the summer and dropping him off with his father. I knew I would cry.

I took solace in my love for a good road trip, knowing from experience that getting there is always half of the fun. If that held true, then this trip would be quite the adventure.

Rain and temperatures below 60 degrees made the drive through West Virginia feel positively serene. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

Rain and temperatures below 60 degrees made the drive through West Virginia feel positively serene. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

I’ve always found that timing is everything when trying to survive such a long trek, which is why I chose to get the flattest part out of the way while I was still fresh off of a good-night’s sleep. I wanted to hit the beautiful, scenic Appalachian Mountains just in time for sunrise, and we did. The cold rain had left ribbons of fluffy fog lying between the peaks and in the valleys. With ups, downs and twisty turns, mountains are always my favorite part of any drive.

My daughter, forever my sidekick, stayed awake with me the entire ride. We snapped hundreds of photos, stopped at way too many rest areas, and sang and danced like delirious, exhausted goofballs.

It was about 18 hours into the journey that I started to feel my aggravation rise in direct proportion to the increased speed and aggressiveness of northern drivers. When we finally passed under the “Welcome to Ohio” sign, I was relieved to see it.

Minutes after we arrived in Madison, Ohio — exactly 24 hours after leaving Goodland — I hit the first bed I could find and slept like a hibernating bear. Over the next few days, I made up half of the two-woman crew charged with packing and moving out of our three-bedroom lake house, filled with years of an eclectic array of accumulated belongings.

Although the trip started as a necessary evil, I’m happy to report that it yielded the desired positive outcome. I found some stuff I would have eventually missed, and more than a few things I really did need. We are coming back with a truck full of odds and ends, a new puppy and a very antisocial cat.

We say goodbye to our Ohio home after a long week of preparing it for sale.

We say goodbye to our Ohio home after a long week of preparing it for sale.

As a bonus, I got to see my two younger brothers; I’ve missed them so much these past few months. They will be joining us soon, though, as they plan to relocate to Southwest Florida before winter. My mom even took me to get my first ever professional massage to work the knots out of my road-weary neck and back. I fear I may be spoiled now; I just might need another one when we get back home.

Most importantly, my kids and I are official Florida residents. Goodland is where I plan to stay and raise them. In contrast to their scholastic struggles in Ohio, they are absolutely thriving in Collier County schools.

I’m surprised to actually be looking forward to that long drive back home, but I miss Goodland. I miss my friends, and I miss my cats. I even miss the heat! So here’s to leaving Ohio in my rear-view mirror and driving off into the sunset. Mission accomplished.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426


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It’s That Time Again… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/03/its-that-time-again/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/03/its-that-time-again/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:22:52 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39390 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

Kirk's lot has been overtaken by the 2,500 new traps being put together for Damas to crab next season.

Kirk’s lot has been overtaken by the 2,500 new traps being put together for Damas to crab next season.

The smell of crab traps in the open air — after months of being underwater — is a tell-tale sign of the end of stone crab season in Southwest Florida.

“It’s quite pungent over there,” said Pat Kirk, the matriarch of the Kirk family and owner of Kirk’s Fish Company. Anyone living or passing by Kirk’s downwind can confirm that, as over the past month crab traps have been systematically pulled and stacked next to the store in preparation for cleaning and repair. May 15 was the last day to legally collect those delicious stone crab claws, with ten additional days allowing crabbers to pull all of their traps by May 25.

“It worked out well for us; stone crab season is tourist season,” said Pat. “Our guys had a good year, but a lot of places did suffer. We did okay, but we could always do better in this business.” This season marked the Kirk family’s return to their Goodland store, after spending 17 years in Naples running Captain Kirk’s Stone Crabs and Fresh Seafood Market.

We say goodbye to stone crabs on the menu, for now.

We say goodbye to stone crabs on the menu, for now.

The Kirks confirmed that most of their big improvements are out of the way. Even the freshly planted grass is flourishing thanks to their recycled crab water-fertilizer. The family’s focus is now aimed at applying lessons learned this first season back in Goodland to ensure next year runs even more smoothly.

“It’s mostly wholesale that we do this time of year; and even though we’ve closed down the retail, we will gladly sell what’s in our freezer. If the door is open, just come and find us on the lot,” said Pat.

As another stone crab season closes, the folks at Kirk’s already have started the work necessary to get ready for the next season, which kicks off on October 15. The work that crabbers typically put in over the summer is grueling and expensive, which contributes to the high cost of the crabs. Keeping crabbing gear going is not only pricey, but completely out-of-pocket.

The Kirk family also has been busy with the essential preliminary work for Damas Kirk, owner and patriarch, to do some crabbing next season. They’ve put together 2,500 new traps and branded his buoys, painting them purple and white.

Buoys strung out and painted Damas's colors: purple and white.

Buoys strung out and painted Damas’s colors: purple and white.

“I’m bored. I tried to get off of the water; it didn’t work, but this is a smaller boat, a smaller crew and less stress. I couldn’t handle the big numbers anymore,” said Damas.

“He calls it old-man crabbing. He’s got a little boat and has to go out on nice days,” said Pat.

“And we told him that if he catches them, he has to come in and cook them himself,” said Kelly with a laugh.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

 


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If We Build it, Will They Come? http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/19/if-we-build-it-will-they-come/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/19/if-we-build-it-will-they-come/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 13:55:44 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39133 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

The overgrown volleyball court begs for renovation and beautification.

The overgrown volleyball court begs for renovation and beautification.

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Summer is quickly approaching, and with it come the horror stories warning first-timers like me of mutant bugs, face-melting heat and the unbearable boredom to come. Of course, I don’t believe everything I hear, but I do feel a kind of “something wicked this way comes,” and I have started to brace myself accordingly.

In my search for ways to keep the family cool this summer, I’ve noticed a glaring irony I’m unable to ignore: Goodland is surrounded by water, yet there aren’t any conveniently close, public places to swim.

As a child, I thought of Florida as a magical, far-away land, convinced that fun in the sun and swimming were just another part of those lucky Floridians’ daily lives. Moving here has me confronting a harsh reality — what it feels like to be in the middle of an ocean, needing nothing more than cool refreshing water, and finding none.

Our surrounding canals and channels are filled with some exotic, intimidating predators. The closest beach is a very long bike ride away, and the Marco Island YMCA is really the only other option.

Inevitably, I’ve started to wonder at the possibility of a community pool for Goodland. In asking around, testing the waters and researching how to best approach such a thing, I have found the general consensus suggests that a pool would be a welcome addition, if done right.

However, it will be no easy task. What is the best location for a pool? Who would shoulder the liability? Is the demand high enough to warrant such an investment, and how would it be funded?

Goodland Civic Association (GCA) President Greg Bello admits to having toyed with the idea of a community pool here in Goodland. “That thought has crossed a lot of our minds. I think it’s a great idea, but it’s one of those things where you wonder how many people would use it,” said Bello. “People talk about it, but you can’t just build it and then have everyone run the other way. It’s not going to be paid for by anyone but them. Who would commit financially, even a small amount?”

“The easiest way for us is if it’s done by the county. It would have to close at sunset because of noise, but the park already has liability insurance. It’s a county park. It’s already open until sunset. It’s already open to everyone in the county. Looking at it from that angle there aren’t any downsides. If they are funding it and we just use it, I think it would get the support,” said Bello.

Since this seed of an idea is still in the “what if” stage, let’s entertain a moment of hypothetical speculation when considering a prime location. Margood Park heads up the very short list of potential sites. Its volleyball court sits deserted without a net, and the grass growing up through the sand is quickly reclaiming the area.

“I don’t think the county would be against it; it’s just a matter of getting it approved,” said GCA member Connie Fulmer. “It would be nice to have a community pool. You just don’t find those anymore. I would go!”

Donna Fiala, County Commissioner for District 1, said she’s been advocating the need for a community pool for years, but the funding needed is a big hurdle to overcome.

“I think I’m a little closer now than I was. We have to raise a lot of money through the Community Foundation because there is no money in the county coffers for a pool right now. The Community Foundation is trying to find funding sources to step up to the plate, but it’s proving to be very difficult,” said Fiala. “I won’t give up because it would help all of these children so much, but it isn’t easy.”

Among the mountain of unanswered questions, it’s clear that the first necessary step will be presenting the idea at a Collier County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. They advise the Board of County Commissioners on all park and recreational ideas in Collier County. The county commissioners would need to give their stamp of approval, providing they find merit in initiating a plan.

“That’s always a good way to test the waters and see what reaction you get; see if you can garner some interest,” said Barry Williams, director of Collier County Parks and Recreation.

“Do we have enough people to use it on a regular basis,” asked Williams, “taking into account that the operation of a pool is very expensive?”

Ultimately, aside from seeking county approval, finding funds and acquiring permits, putting a community pool in Goodland would need the support of the people here. If the people do support this issue, it promises to extend far beyond this column; it will require commitment and tenacity.

I admit to having a bit of an idealized view of my new home, but I’ve been listening and trying to learn everything I can about Goodland’s history. That includes getting a feel for how people here see its future. Preserving the character and integrity of Goodland is fundamental to any change, keeping in place everything that makes this village a place that time forgot.

The next Parks and Recreation meeting will be held at North Collier Regional Park on Wednesday, May 21, at 2 PM.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

 


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The Goodland Good Life http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/01/the-goodland-good-life/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/01/the-goodland-good-life/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 14:19:21 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=38725 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

Life has been good in Goodland for J.W. “Dub” Abbott, who will turn 100 years old this month.

The Drop Anchor resident was born May 2, 1914, in Checotah, Oklahoma, to Wayne and Beulah Abbott, who had five other boys and one girl; his youngest brother is only 93 years young.

He says his mother gave him his initials because her other sons had all been given nicknames, and she didn’t like that. She thought that her method would prevent him from being nicknamed; he’s been known as “Dub” all his life.

Growing up with in a family of six boys, there was always something going on. They lived on a farm three miles from Checotah. Their father was a county commissioner and very active in the community. Two of his brothers and his sister were teachers in a country school. In fact, one of Dub’s brothers taught his algebra class; he failed and had to repeat it.

As a teenager, Dub and his older brother would hop on freight trains and take trips, and they never got caught. Having only traveled short distances, in 1932, they decided to go see an aunt in Texas. He attributes these trips for showing him so much of the country he would otherwise not have seen.

Dub went to Oklahoma State for three semesters, before deciding that college wasn’t for him. He joined the Marines in 1934 while at the World’s Fair in Chicago, and attended boot camp in Paris Island, South Carolina, later being sent to Virginia. He requested a sea assignment, and in 1935, he toured the Caribbean as he headed to California. It was there he boarded the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington. He spent a good part of 13 months anchored off Long Beach, California, and didn’t see any combat.

After returning home from the Marines, he married Mary Buckmaster in 1939. They farmed near his childhood home for several years before purchasing it after his father passed away. Dub’s four children: JoAnn, Tom, Jim and Bill, were born while living on the farm near Checotah. He now has 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Each winter, the family would visit Florida and rent a cottage so Dub could fish with friends. In 1985, they stayed for two months in a rented cottage on Henderson Creek until friends of theirs — living in Drop Anchor — told them of a unit for sale. When they left in the spring of 1985, they were proud owners of a trailer in Drop Anchor here in Goodland.

Dub absolutely loved Drop Anchor. His fishing boat was only a few yards from his front door, and he could be out into the Gulf and on way to his favorite fishing hole in about 15 minutes. His favorite fish to catch was the Sheepshead.

“Twenty-nine years ago, we could catch all the Sheepshead we wanted; no size limit and you could keep them all. Sometimes four or five boats of fisherman would go out 15 to 20 miles grouper fishing, and there was no limit on them. We would sell our catch at the Fish Market, and that money paid for the gas for our next day of fishing,” said Dub.

He recalls that every morning, the Drop Anchor docks were crowded with fishermen getting ready to go out for the day, but says fishing has changed the past few years. Now a fishing license is required, and there are regulations on the size and number of fish you can catch; plus, the fish just aren’t as plentifully.

Dub was living in Drop Anchor when it was purchased by the residence and given the name Drop Anchor Mobil Home Association.

Not only has fishing changed in Dub’s 29 years living in Drop Anchor; Dub has changed, too. He cannot see or hear as well as he once could. He’s lost a hip, and lost so many good friends. Dubs wife passed away in 2004. Still, he loves to fish, and he’s able to, thanks to his son-in-law, Don Methner, who has helped him fish these past eight years.

In 1992, Dub and his first mate were part of the cast in the movie, “Gone Fishing.” He was paid $100 each day for his boat, and the men were paid $60 each. They only worked about a week filming the movie.

Hurricane Wilma hit several homes in Drop Anchor in 2005, and Dub’s daughter, JoAnn, and her husband traveled to Goodland to help repair the damage done to his home. Wilma was responsible for damage to many other trailers, and Dub remembers how everyone joined together; neighbors helped neighbors.

The following year, Don and JoAnn purchased Dub’s trailer, but he continues to visit as much as he possibly can. In 2008, an infection in his left hip left Dub unable to walk, but he still gets all around Goodland in his power chair.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

 


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Four Month Frenzy http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/23/four-month-frenzy/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/23/four-month-frenzy/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:39:25 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=38463 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

As this season, my first here in Goodland, draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on what it means for me. I’ve made so many friends in just a few short months. Some will go north for the summer and come back next season; some I expect to say farewell to permanently as they continue on from here; and some will stay in Goodland, and we will pass the long, hot summer together.

I can honestly say I am looking forward to the emptiness of the island, but will also miss all of the friends who are leaving and the frenetic activity I’ve become accustom to.

Visiting for the first time in December and moving here just two months later, I missed a busy October and November, but I still will be experiencing “firsts” for months to come.

That is why I’ve decided to devote this issue’s “Goodland Life” column to a quick wrap-up of what I’ve experienced so far this season and what I’m looking forward to before it comes to an end.

Working for Coastal Breeze News, I’ve been lucky enough to cover stories right in my own backyard. I’ve celebrated the 30th Annual Mullet Festival, two GCA Pancake Breakfasts, the annual GCA Spring Fling and the Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade.

Unfortunately, I missed seeing my mother, Carol Bryant, crowned this year’s Buzzard Queen. After all, I had to go back to Ohio and pack up sometime. I also missed the GCA Annual Holiday Bazaar, the GAA Arts and Crafts Fair and the Annual Harbor Arts and Music Festival, but I am looking forward to writing about them next year.

I am especially excited for the annual Spammy Jammy party hosted by the Little Bar on June 28, Stan’s End of Season Bash on May 2 and the Fourth of July Luau at Marker 8.5, complete with a pig-roast and an island party atmosphere. I’m also hoping to fit in a few more “Sunday Fundays” at Stan’s and some happy hours at The Old Marco Lodge.

Marker 8.5 stays open year-round, but the other local establishments each take a turn at closing for a summer break, though no dates are set in stone.

It’s this hectic pace I’m living in that has me wondering how I will pass my time as it all comes to a screeching halt for the summer. My son will be heading north to visit his father in Ohio, leaving my daughter and me to come up with creative ideas to stay entertained, yet cool. I still will be working and looking for stories here in Goodland, but all work and no play will make for a long, dreary off-season.

That is why I’m hoping everyone feels comfortable enough at this point to talk to me about whatever is on their minds. My predecessor, Natalie, has prepared me for what I can expect to be a slow couple of months for news.

I want to formally thank each and every one of you who have talked to me for my articles, read what I’ve written and offered such unexpected praise and feedback. You have made me feel more welcome here than anywhere else I’ve lived. I now consider Goodland my home, and although I can’t promise to be here forever — as there are so many more places I still want to visit — I can say that I will always come back home.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426


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Isle Be Jammin http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/09/isle-be-jammin/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/09/isle-be-jammin/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:27:56 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37804 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

Recently reunited band, Snapper Grabber, posed for a quick shot after they finished their last set recently at Old Marco Lodge.

Recently reunited band, Snapper Grabber, posed for a quick shot after they finished their last set recently at Old Marco Lodge.

Anyone who knows me knows I love listening to live music and enjoying a cold drink with some friends. Music has always been very close to my heart. I’ll listen to almost any genre, depending on my mood: country for the “nothing else could go wrong” day; metal or punk if I’m angry or a little rebellious; electronic or dubstep if I’m in the dancing mood.

Where ever I go, I always check out the local music scene. I’ve known fantastic musicians in every place I’ve lived. I prefer small, unique venues and undiscovered talent. My favorite bar has a tree growing through the middle of the floor and out through the ceiling, and it hosts the best unknown bands.

In my short time here in Goodland, I’ve experienced some of the greatest music I’ve ever heard in a few of the coolest places I’ve ever visited. I was instantly enamored with the impressive talent and the variety of artists, both imported and homegrown.

I was pleasantly surprised to find “Goodlanders” take their music seriously. Stan’s Idle Hour, The Little Bar, Old Marco Lodge and Marker 8.5 each host popular acts that attract crowds eager to listen and have fun; many of the popular and talented performers call Goodland home.

Little Bar owner, Nicolette Bauer, says she tries to get a good variety from everywhere. She spends all summer traveling around the country looking for bands. Word of mouth helps bring great music to her as well.

“We get the word out there, and word travels fast because we are kind of known for our music,” said Bauer, “I book it all in and mix it up a little bit, so we don’t have the same thing over and over again.”

Billy Bridger sings “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” in his Boy George getup, complete with bright pink lipstick. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

Billy Bridger sings “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” in his Boy George getup, complete with bright pink lipstick. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

With an abundance of blues and jazz, artists who travel here to play at the Little Bar include Rosie Ladet, the Zydeco Queen; Grady Champion from Mississippi; and the Frank Corso Blues Band. The wonderful local flair includes: Sal; John Lowbridge; Smokin Joe and Connie; Raiford Starke; and Merrill.

Merrill first came to Goodland 20 years ago, and played his first gig in town at the Little Bar. Now, he’s a regular performer here. “If you want to see live music in Southwest Florida, Little Bar is the place to be,” said Merrill.

Raiford Starke moved to Goodland about three years ago, but has been playing in this area since around 1994. He’s been known to jam with the different blues bands that play at The Little Bar, and he puts on an awesome solo performance there regularly.

“It always seemed like a special place. When bands play, they are just blown away by the reception they get,” Starke noted. “I’ve played in places where you don’t get that appreciation.”

Stan’s has a similar process to that of The Little Bar. Trish Oehler, assistant manager of Stan’s, was first put in charge of finding the entertainment last season. She spends a lot of the summer online “following the link” from YouTube to band websites and everything in between, searching for music that catches her ear.

“We started going out of town looking for new bands last season. We like the local flavor, but want something different every now and then too,” said Oehler. “Still, most days we remain loyal to the ones who have been with us over the years. That was one of Stan’s pet peeves; he was always loyal to his Sunday Bands.”

Stan’s Sunday bands include Jeff Hilt & the Stampede Band; Southern Cross; FAKAHATCHEE; and The Hot Damn Band. Other local acts that play throughout the week are Dieter’s Blues Machine, Radio Flyer, Event Horizon, Pyrate Voodoo and Billy Bridger.

Raiford Starke giving a well-received solo performance to the crowd at the Little Bar.

Raiford Starke giving a well-received solo performance to the crowd at the Little Bar.

Billy Bridger performs each Thursday and Friday at Stan’s. He is known for his unique costumes and random acts of ventriloquism, which he incorporates into almost every song; he weaves his way through the tables, drawing the audience into his act.

Dieter’s Blues Machine, another crowd favorite, also can be seen every Sunday at Marker 8.5 and regularly at the Old Marco Lodge.

During season, live music can be heard anywhere in Goodland. The sound reaches almost every corner of the island. Some nights, I just sit on my lanai and enjoy a song. Through speaking with so many of the area musicians, I’ve found we all agree — life is good in Goodland.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

 


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Honoring a Goodland Icon http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/28/honoring-a-goodland-icon/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/28/honoring-a-goodland-icon/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:11:36 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37653 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

Fishing and being on the water were two  of his favorite things.

Fishing and being on the water were two of his favorite things.

Let me start by saying, this has been the most enlightening, yet hardest thing I’ve ever written. To try and capture in words, what this legend of a man has meant to everyone he’s loved and everyone who loves him, is almost impossible. Please take into consideration the fact that I never had the honor and pleasure of meeting Butch Cameron. Through talking to as many of you as I could, and attending his memorial, I feel like I almost know him by proxy, and thus I will try to honor him here in my Goodland Life column.

Butch’s wife, Nadine Cameron said that he would tell her, “If I die today, I’ve lived a full enough life.”

When someone is loved so much and makes such an impact on a small community like Goodland, it’s hard to fill the hole they leave behind, but it’s comforting to know he felt that way.

The people I talked to (my apologies for not mentioning everyone, but that would fill more space than I’m allowed), had similar things to tell me about Butch. He was always smiling. He loved life, the outdoors, hunting, fishing and his family. He was like a father to so many of the boys growing up here, teaching them to hunt and fish. He thought the world of his grandchildren; and he helped people that no one else would help.

Butch enjoyed spending time with his three grandsons.

Butch enjoyed spending time with his three grandsons.

No one was ready to let him go, and he will be missed by so many:

“When he came over here, he found a home. He was hooked. He never wanted to go back and would do anything just to stay here.” – Kenneth Cameron

“He was a great dad. He made sure I could come to see him every weekend. He was a hard worker and would teach anyone who wanted to learn how to fish.” – Greg Cameron

“Butch had a lot of great friends and he loved the water. This was his home.” – Tim Duffy

“He was my mentor. I thought I knew a lot about life until I met him.” – Kurt Beattie

“He was the most wonderful man I’ve ever met. If I had met him when I was 20 years old, I would have married him then and spent the rest of my life with him.” – Nadine Cameron

“Butch was always the first one out, and would catch the most crabs. He loved life.” – Nicolette Bauer

“He was an avid fisherman and hunter. That‘s all he ever wanted to do and that‘s what he did.” – Damas Kirk

“Butch was a very private person, but he would give you the shirt off of his back, if you deserved it.” – Jimmy Brooks

Butch and his wife, Nadine, at son Greg’s wedding. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Butch and his wife, Nadine, at son Greg’s wedding. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Clyde Stuart “Butch” Cameron was born August 14, 1943 in Turtle Creek, PA. He first visited Goodland with his brother, Kenneth Cameron, in 1951. After living in Miami and working as a plumber, he relocated to Goodland in 1974 where he worked as a fishing guide for a few years. He began stone crabbing for Capri Fishery before putting together his own boat, the Crabber Grabber. He bought his second boat, the Crabby Lady in 1979 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the hardest working crabbers around.

He and his second wife, Jo Cameron, opened the Crabby Lady restaurant, now Marker 8.5, in 1995. He married his third wife, Nadine Cameron in 2012.

Butch died January 20 after a six-year fight with a heart condition.

He is survived by his wife, Nadine Cameron; his son, Gregory Cameron; his brother Kenneth Cameron; and his three grandchildren Alex, James and Trevor.

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

 

 


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Shock to the System http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/11/shock-to-the-system/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/11/shock-to-the-system/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:19:21 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37173 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

In my 35 years, I’ve traveled all over the world. My mother and grandmother loved to see new places and experience different things. As a very young child, I was taken to various tourist destinations and third-world countries. I’ve known my fair share of culture shock.

Yet, as well-traveled as I am, I never expected to find myself so amazed at how different life could be just six states away. Goodland has delivered its own dose of culture shock; it’s unlike any place I’ve been in the world, including my former home in Ohio.

Here are the top five things that surprised me:

Time Warp

My first impression of Goodland brought to mind Kellerman’s Resort from the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing.” Goodland really does have that “Old Florida” feeling — something that harkens back to family vacations of the 1950’s where road-side stands and bungalows were commonplace.

The ambiance here is aimed at attracting tourists for our economic survival, but is balanced by the tightly-knit, working-class population that lives here year-round. Affluent travelers and “snow birds” travel across the U.S and around the world to see what we enjoy here every day. They are accepted into the community and made to feel welcome while they’re here, and then they go home.

My daughter said once that every day in Goodland feels like a vacation, and I think that’s the point.

Eco-centric

Something I noticed right away about my new home was how the animal and plant life native to this area coexist seamlessly with the people. I wake up in the morning to a cup of coffee and a pelican on the boat dock; driving over the Goodland Bridge on my way to work, there’s a dolphin playing in the water.

My kids and I jump in the car for a game of “let’s get lost,” and we see manatees, gopher tortoises, ospreys, alligators and burrowing owls. Palm trees, mangroves and exotic plants of all kinds grow in my backyard. Every day is a science lesson, and I love it!

Topographical Polar Opposites

My sense of direction is impeccable, but here on this tiny sideways-oriented, shell island, I feel like a compass spinning in a magnetic vortex. Anytime I relocate, I quickly learn my way around, and that hasn’t changed. Still, I need my GPS if I want to know which direction I’m facing here.

Growing up in Northeast Ohio, I became used to rolling hills and valleys, thick forests filled with towering oak and maple trees, and the distinct landscape of factories dotting the horizon. In contrast, it’s absolutely flat here with condominiums marking the skyline instead of smoke stacks. Standing atop the Goodland Bridge, I can see so far I’m able make out the curvature of the earth.

Isolation Suits Me

Not a fan of fast pace of city-living; I’m happiest away from civilization. I wander where I want and set up a life when I get there. Once I had my children, I had to forgo my need for seclusion in favor of my kids’ need for convenience and socialization.

Goodland suits me because I’ve found the isolation I crave. We close up shop around 9 PM every night. Even on weekends and holidays, people are home by 11 PM. There are no 24-hour gas stations or fast-food spots; no traffic lights or night traffic; no sirens screaming at 4 AM. There are no car stereos blasting bass that shake the house, and no night-life raging into the early morning hours.

I love that there is only one road in, no sidewalks, and for a few months each year, everyone goes home, and we are left with just a handful of full-time residents who look out for one another while still respecting privacy.

Golf Cart Mania

Street-legal golf carts are something I have never seen — anywhere. I did grow up in a in a rural town where people would ride their horses to and from the bar in hopes of avoiding a DUI. On a lazy summer day, one could see four-wheelers and tractors cruising by but never legally. If I had to get somewhere, I drove my car. The sheer distance would allow no less. Before I had my license, I would ride my bike seven miles just to visit my best friend.

In Goodland, everything is a stone’s throw away. I can leisurely walk and see the entire island in less than an hour. The only time cars outnumber golf carts here is on Sundays, when a throng of tourists come to visit Stan’s.

I’m in awe each time I see something here that I could never have seen in Ohio. I wake up happy each morning because I love Goodland; and my kids love it, too, which is so important to me. This truly is a unique place to live.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

 


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My Life in Paradise Begins… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/21/my-life-in-paradise-begins/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/21/my-life-in-paradise-begins/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 20:07:32 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=36767 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray
melinbrya3@yahoo.com

The first time I visited Goodland was just a few short months ago. My mother moved here a year earlier, and insisted I visit soon. So I planned to fly down with my two children, stay with my mom for a month and then return to snow-covered Ohio. My plans went out the window from the moment I woke up on my first morning in Goodland. I knew I would move proverbial mountains to make this paradise my home.

Over the last few years, my mother would visit Goodland, post beautiful pictures online, and swear she was arranging a way to move here. It’s not that I didn’t believe her; we moved around a lot when I was a kid. Still, we never really left Ohio for long, and eventually we always went back. So I knew that if my mother could leave everything she’d known as home and move here, Goodland must be amazing, and I had to see it for myself.

As my month here started to fly by, I saw just how amazing Goodland is. It’s not just the weather that makes this little island paradise so wonderful. It’s the people, the culture and daily life here. The Goodland community is a family, and they welcomed me like a long-lost daughter — finally returned home. Where ever I would go, people would wave and ask how I was. If I needed anything, there was always someone offering to help. I felt like I truly belonged here, and I dreaded leaving.

I started to look for any feasible way I could move to Goodland. I put in a few applications at local businesses and hoped I would get a call before my flight home. It was a gut-wrenching race against the calendar, but the day I received an email from Coastal Breeze, I smiled so much my face hurt. I was set to interview on a Thursday morning and fly home that same evening. I’ve never been so nervous in my life! This 10 minute meeting would determine the course my life would take next. Being asked to write for this newspaper was the best thing I could have hoped for. I left the interview with a plan in place and a smile on my face; I even cried a little.

I studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, but had yet to write for any publication long-term. Any job offers I did get usually involved driving 60 miles to and from work, or relocating to another part of Ohio. Winter driving has never been something I enjoy, nor was I even remotely comfortable with it. So I put my college education on the back-burner and worked general labor jobs: the local convenience store, restaurants and even an auto detailing shop. While I enjoyed becoming a “jack of all trades,” I really just wanted to write. It’s what I went to school for; it’s what I love; it’s what I’m good at. So when I say this is my dream-job, I truly mean it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

I flew back to Ohio and immediately started to pack up what I could fit in my car, hoping I could come back for the rest later. Everyday, I was on the phone or on the road trying to transition our lives to Florida. I have a 15-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son, and moving children from what they know is never easy, but they weren’t doing well in Ohio. I expected an adjustment period, but I was also confident they would thrive here. I counted down the days impatiently, and then we made the 21-hour drive to our new home. I can honestly say I’ve never been so happy to spend that much time driving, but with every mile, we were closer to our new start.

My friends and family said things like, “Of course you want to move to Florida, we’re in the middle of winter,” and, “You won’t stay there long. Everything you’ve ever known is here in Ohio.” They were somewhat right on both counts, but I’ve had my fill of multiple feet of snow, frozen car doors and frigid wind chills. I did leave behind family and friends, and it was hard to do — scarier than anything I’ve ever done. I don’t give up easily, though, and I’m here, nonetheless.

I recently got a chance to meet Natalie Strom, and see what she means to Goodland and the people who live here. I have to admit I’m a little intimidated at the thought of trying to fill her shoes. My hope is to get to know everyone here, and represent Goodland as well as she has. I’m looking forward to meeting, and getting to know everyone here. My email address is melinbrya3@yahoo.com and I can also be reached at 239-896-0426.

 

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at melinbrya3@yahoo.com or 239-896-0426

 


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Farewell Goodland… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/08/farewell-goodland/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/08/farewell-goodland/#comments Sun, 09 Feb 2014 01:37:43 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=36430 GOODLAND LIFE
Natalie Strom
natalie@coastalbreezenews.com

Jenni, me and Judy in 2009 - the year I won the title of Buzzard Queen.

Jenni, me and Judy in 2009 – the year I won the title of Buzzard Queen.

The first time I visited Goodland, I was about five years old. I don’t remember, but my mom does. She vividly recounts the story of the family going to dinner at The Little Bar and how my younger brother, still an infant, made a massive mess of himself. My mom was horrified. She spent a lot of time in the restroom with him that evening. When she tells the story even now, I can hear the embarrassment in her voice.

I do, however, remember the second time I visited Goodland. It was February of 2005. I had just moved to Marco Island from the suburbs of Chicago. I was all alone — no family, no friends. I was lucky to meet a friend pretty quickly, and she brought me by boat to Stan’s on a Sunday. Any first-timer at Stan’s knows the feeling — it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. That day, I learned about the Buzzard Queen, and decided one day I would become one.

Two years of living on Marco and working in Goodland passed quickly. In the summer of 2007, I went back up to Chicago and decided to stay there, saying goodbye to Marco Island.

Friends I miss, friends I will miss and friends I’ve been happy to see return to Goodland. This was a great night! SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Friends I miss, friends I will miss and friends I’ve been happy to see return to Goodland. This was a great night! SUBMITTED PHOTOS

In February of 2008, Goodland had other plans for me. I “visited” Goodland for the third time for a Valentine’s Day wedding; I was a bridesmaid to two close friends I had met while previously working there. The wedding was waterside at The Little Bar, and the reception was in a friend’s backyard with live music from local entertainers. It was simple; it was beautiful; it was Goodland.

So I decided to stay, and I’ve been a Goodland girl ever since. I had my suitcase, and that was it. I called my dad. “Dad, I’m not coming home tomorrow, and I’m not going to be returning to Chicago. I’m sorry, but I have to quit working for you immediately.”

“I knew it,” he said. He didn’t even care that I left the family company without any notice, but he did have his concerns.

Where would I live? “In a shed in my friend Jenni’s backyard.”

What about my car? “I’ll fly back and drive it down after season.”

How will you get around? “I’m working just down the street, and I have friends that will drive me into town.”

And your clothes? “I’ll be fine for now, but could you maybe ship me a box when you have time?”

Final question: “What, are you living on a commune now?”

He was dead serious.

I guess it sounded crazy and maybe I was; but I felt really lost, and it seemed somehow that Goodland would have the answer.

My shed. Don’t be jealous. PHOTO BY NATALIE STROM

My shed. Don’t be jealous. PHOTO BY NATALIE STROM

The shed I quickly moved into was really the former art studio of Tara O’Neill, artist extraordanaire. It had a regular door, two windows and an a/c unit. The floor and ceiling were still bare plywood and the walls just plain drywall. I spackled, painted, found cheap carpeting and even learned how to frame out a window and build a closet. It was beautiful when I was done with it. I miss it sometimes. It was cozy and safe — and I didn’t even have a key to lock it! But it was always safe.

It never did have a bathroom, though. So, on drunken nights, the yard would often become my toilet. It was much closer to the house anyway.

That’s how I lived for a couple of years. I was a waitress and a bartender. I worked hard, and I played hard. It was the life I dreamed about as a 14-year-old girl at her first Jimmy Buffett concert. It felt like freedom; it was paradise.

Sooner than later, my roots were firmly planted on this old Indian shell mound. My neighbors became my friends, and then they became my family. I worked odd jobs all over town along with my regular gig for seven years at The Little Bar.

After two years, I moved out of the shed, and in the process, I got a dog. She was a good dog — a Goodland dog. She lived here her whole short life.

In June of 2010, I began writing the Goodland Life column for Coastal Breeze News. It was scary at first. Our community is kind of private, and we watch out for each other. Broadcasting how we live proved to be difficult at times. For the most part, I think people enjoyed reading this column. I really enjoyed writing it, and coming up with funky and fun ideas. It wasn’t too hard given the regular shenanigans that take place here!

Home sweet home in Goodland. PHOTO BY MILA BRIDGER

Home sweet home in Goodland. PHOTO BY MILA BRIDGER

I moved up in the world of the Coastal Breeze until I was writing much more than stories about Goodland. I found a passion that I never knew I had. This place is what started me on a new career path.

A career that I hope to carry on as I move to Colorado. Many people have known for a while, many may not know yet, but by the time this edition comes out, I will be only days away from a cross-country move.

You see, of all the good things that have come my way in Goodland, the best is that I found the man of my dreams. They say, “You have to love yourself before you can truly love someone else.” I think Goodland, it’s people and much of the Marco community too have helped me find myself and learn to love myself.

When I did, I fell in love — true love. Three years, a dog, a car and a lot of serious verbal commitments later, Josh and I are heading to the mountains where job opportunities await us both. We are excited to pursue a life of skiing, snow and COLD! (I know…cold. It’s going to be quite an adjustment.)

Living in Goodland has been an awesome ride. I did become Buzzard Queen in 2009; I won for best architecture at Spammy Jammy one year; I became a godmother; I became a Goodland Witch; I learned to love the history and environment of the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands; I learned how to start a non-profit when helping form the Goodland Arts Alliance; I learned how to throw an arts and music festival; and I became a board member of the Goodland Civic Association.

The Goodland Community I always talk about. Here we are at the Goodland Civic Association’s Spring Fling Picnic for Goodlanders. One big family!

The Goodland Community I always talk about. Here we are at the Goodland Civic Association’s Spring Fling Picnic for Goodlanders. One big family!

Goodland will always be my home, and the people will always be my family. It’s not always easy to make big changes, but sometimes it’s for the best. I’m sad, but I’m excited. I’m nervous to leave, but at the same time, I can’t wait to go. I will miss so many people, and I think I will be missed too; but I will always have the memories, and I’m grateful for that.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who has supported both Josh and me throughout the years, in good times and in bad. This truly is a tough transition, but at the same time a very exciting one.

I suppose if I was fine with moving to Florida alone (twice!) and living in a shed for two years, I can be up for a new challenge and adventure… and this time I won’t start out all alone. So, for now, it’s on to the next chapter, and hopefully it will be just as good as it was here in Goodland. And if not, we can always come home.

About The Author

Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for five years and has worked in Goodland for over eight years. She was crowned Buzzard Queen at Stan’s Mullet Festival in 2009 and is a founding member of the Goodland Arts Alliance. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Editor of the Coastal Breeze.

 

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Parties, Pancakes and Parades http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/29/parties-pancakes-and-parades/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/29/parties-pancakes-and-parades/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 15:08:00 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=36028 GOODLAND LIFE
Natalie Strom
natalie@coastalbreezenews.com

The year: 2009. The Buzzard Queen Winner: ME! Try and beat that beautiful feathery outfit!

The year: 2009. The Buzzard Queen Winner: ME! Try and beat that beautiful feathery outfit!

Suddenly, it’s the end of January 2014. Where did the time go? When did the slow days of summer suddenly slip away? I guess I was too busy on my Fucillo HUGE KIA cruise to notice, but it is here: “Season.” Thus, the celebrations in Goodland — and all over South Florida — have begun. Ready to party? Because I am! (Big surprise.)

 

30th Annual Mullet Festival

Stan’s and Son’s 30th Annual Goodland Mullet Festival kicks off on Friday, Jan. 24, and continues until the sun sets on Sunday, Jan. 26. The usual festivities of fish cleaning, fried and smoked mullet eating, dancing to live entertainment, drinking buzzard punches, purchasing outrageous party wear from Island Woman and crowning a new Buzzard Princess and Buzzard Queen are all a part of this year’s agenda.

The Ultimate Kick-Off Party starts at 6 PM on Friday, featuring the Grayson Rodgers Band. Festivities begin at noon on Saturday and last until 6 PM. Well-known musical duo, Hot Damn, will perform, and a fish cleaning contest will take place at 3 PM, followed by the Princess Buzzard Lope Competition at 4 PM.

Sunday brings another full day of fun from noon until 6:30 PM. Faka Hatchee and Jeff Hilt will perform throughout the day and will help the crowd choose the 30th Buzzard Queen. The competition begins at 4 PM. Break out your finest feathers, ladies. Flap your wings to “The Buzzard Lope” and win by audience approval.

Don’t miss this fun and unforgettable event! Stan’s is located at 221 Goodland Drive West. You can’t miss it. For more information or registration, call Stan’s at 239-394-3041.

 

It’s always a full house at the Goodland Civic Association’s Pancake Breakfast. SUBMITTED photoS

It’s always a full house at the Goodland Civic Association’s Pancake Breakfast. SUBMITTED photoS

Goodland Civic Association Pancake Breakfast

Get to Goodland early during Mullet Festival weekend to fill up on a hearty all-you-can-eat breakfast of pancakes and sausage on Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 25 and 26) morning at the Goodland Community Center. The Goodland Civic Association’s popular Pancake Breakfast begins at 8 AM and lasts until 11 AM. That’s a lot of flapjacks to be served! Make sure to get your fill on coffee and orange juice, too. Located at 417 East Mango Ave., the place is sure to be packed as usual. Raffles for local restaurant and marina gift certificates will take place. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Proceeds benefit the GCA, a non-profit organization within the community which establishes effective communication with local governments. The purpose is to promote the general welfare of Goodland residents, community spirit, good will, education and discussion of issues which may affect the village.

 

Goodland Arts Alliance Art and Craft Fair

The Mullet Festival just gets bigger and bigger every year. New to the action is the Inaugural Goodland Arts Alliance Arts and Crafts Fair. The recently crowned 501(c)3 non-profit organization will hold a show at MarGood Harbor Park on Sunday, Jan. 26, 10 AM-4 PM. This “members only” show will feature the beautiful, handmade arts and crafts of those belonging to the GAA. Photography, pottery, paintings, jewelry, books, embellished shell art and more will be for sale only a hop, skip and a jump from Stan’s. Make your way down the street to MarGood Harbor Park, 321 Pear Tree Ave. The on-site museum will be open, and a 50/50 raffle will take place. Winner need not be present.

The addition of the GAA Arts and Crafts Fair on Mullet Festival Sunday was graciously encouraged by the local businesses and the locals. Be sure to stop by for one-of-a-kind souvenirs to remember your time spent in Goodland.

 

Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade

The 18th Annual Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade will be held Saturday, Feb. 14, beginning at 2 PM. As always, all proceeds go to Avow Hospice of Naples, and will be used to support the Marco Island Branch as it provides comfort and support to the terminally ill and their families primarily in the home.

Every year, Committee Chair Elaine Richie and her army of volunteers manage to raise more and more money for Avow. This year, Richie has been chosen by Avow to receive the 2014 Butterfly Award, which recognizes those who have given so much of themselves to further the mission of Avow.

“The award honors all of the people from Goodland who have made the parade such a success. Over the years we have raised over a quarter of a million dollars for Avow,” stated Richie in an email. “My committee this year consists of Amy Bozicnik, Mary Miller, Bonnie Duffy, Jo ‘B’ Bromley, Colleen Termini, Noreen Seegers, Nancy Titus, Linda Van Meter, Margie Fortune, Antoinette Bryant and Carolyn Bryant.”

This year’s theme is COMEDY. Boaters will pick a funny idea and decorate their crew and boat to depict it. Proceeds from raffles, auctions and t-shirt sales benefit Avow Hospice, and will be used to support services provided by their Marco Island office. For more information or to register your boat, please call Elaine at 239-642-8356 or visit www.mardigrasgoodland.com. Extravagance is NOT required and boats of all sizes and shapes are welcome. The only rule is TO HAVE FUN!

About The Author

Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for five years and has worked in Goodland for over eight years. She was crowned Buzzard Queen at Stan’s Mullet Festival in 2009 and is a founding member of the Goodland Arts Alliance. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Editor of the Coastal Breeze.

 

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Island or not? That is the question http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/16/island-or-not-that-is-the-question/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/16/island-or-not-that-is-the-question/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 04:28:10 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35800 GOODLAND LIFE
Natalie Strom
natalie@coastalbreezenews.com

No one man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” - John Donne

Goodland is connected to Marco Island via mangroves. COURTESY OF GOOGLE MAPS

Goodland is connected to Marco Island via mangroves. COURTESY OF GOOGLE MAPS

I have often (ok, more than often) referred to the village of Goodland as an island. I always knew it really wasn’t it’s own island, but using the terms village, town or community sometimes becomes redundant which you will notice as you continue to read. I resort to using the term island for the sake of diversity, but in all reality Goodland is connected to Marco Island.

An aerial map of the area shows the long and straight connection from Marco to the fork in the road that leads to Goodland. The famous curves of the Goodland road are surrounded by mangroves and lead one to believe they are entering into a whole new island. Yet, the mangroves actually connect us, and they always have. The curvy road was, in fact, carved through the mangroves to meet San Marco Road after its construction.

Even the municipality boundaries that many are easily confused by (and for good reason) show the clear connection between Marco Island and Goodland. Marco Island is responsible for maintaining the curvy road, and the two of the marinas located at either end of the road are considered to be Marco Island. The boundaries are so bizarre that the first road to turn right on, which leads to Calusa Marina (Marco Island), is divided directly in half between the county and the village. The other side of the road, which features a row of condominiums, is technically the beginning of Goodland, which then falls under the county’s jurisdiction.

Regardless of the official boundaries or the fact that Goodland is not an island unto itself, I would say the village acts and feels as such. We are all connected here — through work, family, friendships, community service and the fact that our neighbors are easily within shouting distance when we need a favor or have a question.

“No man is an island,” and Goodland isn’t either. Each and every character — because everyone is a character in their own right — makes our town feel like an island of its very own. Neighbors take care of one another, and businesses here treat each other with respect. People work together for the benefit of the village and others. The Goodland Civic Association and Goodland Arts Alliance are both great examples of camaraderie.

The upcoming Annual Mullet Festival at the end of January is another example of how the village comes together. Hosted at Stan’s, our .6 square mile dot on the map becomes a playground for thousands to enjoy. All the other restaurants in town participate, and an arts and crafts show will be held in the park. Visitors have the chance to feel the fun and the friendships that so many here share.

Chef Michael Duncan of Marker 8.5 donated his time at the recent GCA Holiday Bazaar to delight guests with an ice carving made only with the use of a chainsaw. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Chef Michael Duncan of Marker 8.5 donated his time at the recent GCA Holiday Bazaar to delight guests with an ice carving made only with the use of a chainsaw. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

In February, the Annual Goodland Boat Parade, another extremely popular event, is put on to raise money for Avow Hospice. Again, the whole town participates — decorating boats, volunteering to sell raffle tickets or t-shirts or working at the local restaurants to feed people as they watch. The local restaurants offer raffle tickets and prizes as well. All of the funds raised are given to Avow.

The community clearly works together. Need I say more? I don’t think so.

I do want to make one other point: We do not segregate ourselves from Marco Island — or what we call “going into town.” After all, that’s where we grocery shop, fill up our gas tanks, bank, go out to dinner, buy our clothes and our booze. We need Marco; we are a part of Marco; we are a part of something bigger than ourselves or Goodland.

Then again, we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves regardless of where we live. It’s just nice to live in a place where people really seem to understand that. I’m lucky to live here; I’ve been lucky to call Goodland home for a long time.

I guess, in all reality, this entire article is basically a long retraction for all the mistakes I’ve made over the past three years referring to Goodland as an island. I’m sorry. I hope you all can forgive me for this blunder, but after all, I am only one woman…

About The Author

Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for five years and has worked in Goodland for over eight years. She was crowned Buzzard Queen at Stan’s Mullet Festival in 2009 and is a founding member of the Goodland Arts Alliance. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Editor of the Coastal Breeze.

 

[email_link]


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Arts Alliance Accepted http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/01/arts-alliance-accepted/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/01/arts-alliance-accepted/#comments Wed, 01 Jan 2014 19:24:41 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35457 GOODLAND LIFE
Natalie Strom
natalie@coastalbreezenews.com

The Darling Dozen. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Darling Dozen. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The date was September 30, 2012. Twelve Goodland residents met at a picnic table under the pavilion at MarGood Harbor Park. Their goal: to promote the arts, music and history that make Goodland what it is today. On that day, just over one year ago, the “darling dozen” formed the Goodland Arts Alliance, and now the non-profit has officially obtained its 501(c)3 status.

Getting the ball rolling wasn’t easy, but with the help of many knowledgable and experienced philanthropists, lawyers, artists and accountants, the GAA became a licensed non-profit within the state of Florida. The first step in this process was to create a mission statement. After much thought and consideration, the mission of the Goodland Arts Alliance is: To preserve, promote, and advance the cultural presence in the Village of Goodland through art, history, and education.

The GAA then began working with the county in hopes to establish a permanent home at the place where the founding members first met – the county-owned MarGood Harbor Park. Commissioner Donna Fiala and regional manager for Collier County Parks and Recreation Department, Nancy Olson, worked tirelessly with the GAA to move forward in the ability to use the park as a site for an inaugural art festival.

The Inaugural Harbor Arts and Music Festival was held on March 10 of 2013. It was a smashing success! The park was decorated with colored streamers; white tents lined the sidewalks with fine arts of all kinds. Goodland and Marco musicians lent their time to provide music, and volunteers were ready, willing and able. It was a wonderful community effort.

As word spread, more members joined. After all, the GAA is not only about Goodland, but all of the arts and all types of artists. Anyone is welcome to become a member; be it artist or art lover, Goodland resident or not.

After the success of the first show, it was time to get to work on the 501(c)3 status. Thanks to another wonderful and intelligent resident of Goodland, the paperwork was finally able to be filed. First the by-laws had to be finished, of course. Then a corporate purpose was to be laid out.

The corporate purpose: To establish a permanent home for the GAA for the purpose of promoting a cultural presence in the Village of Goodland; to educate the public regarding the rich history of the Village of Goodland and surrounding environment; to provide art education and outreach services to those who might not otherwise have access to the arts; to connect arts organizations, artists, galleries, and arts educators with one another, with local audiences, and with tourism-related businesses.

Within MarGood Harbor Park sits four historic fishing cottages which were salvaged by the county as it remodeled the park. Money ran out to fix up the little cottages, and they were fenced off to be dealt with when funds became available. The GAA’s eventual goal is to utilize these cottages as the permanent home of the organization.

Just imagine… art lessons, music nights, a studio displaying works of GAA members, historical reenactments, yoga classes, old movie nights and more.

This is why the Goodland Art Alliance is incredibly proud to announce that after the promised 90 day wait by the IRS (plus two weeks added during the government shutdown), the organization was approved as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

Everyone knows what that little (c) stands for… tax write-off! So donate early and donate often! Or simply become a member. Individual memberships are $25 and family memberships are $35 for the year. Bronze, Silver and Gold sponsorships are available as well. To learn more visit Facebook and search Goodland Art Alliance (you do not need a Facebook account to view the page). You may also contact me. As Treasurer of the board, I would be happy to give you the proper forms for memberships and upcoming art shows. Email me at natalie@coastalbreezenews.com.

The GAA’s mission  is to restore four historic cottages in MarGood Harbor Park for community use pertaining to history and the arts. PHOTO BY NATALIE STROM

The GAA’s mission is to restore four historic cottages in MarGood Harbor Park for community use pertaining to history and the arts. PHOTO BY NATALIE STROM

The GAA’s next show is the Member’s Arts and Crafts Show. Strictly for GAA members, the show will feature works from artists as far east as Everglades City and up through North Naples. Become a member and you too could be in the show. Memberships and entries are due by January 5. Again, simply email me at natalie@coastalbreezenews.com for the information.

The Second Annual Harbor Arts and Music Festival is set for March 9, 2014. This juried art show is open to anyone, member or not. As a juried show, there are limited spaces and entries must be approved by a panel of artists. Time is running out to register for this show is well.

Bottom line: We are now a 501(c)3; come help us recognize our dream! Just email me… you know the address by now.

 

About The Author

Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for five years and has worked in Goodland for over eight years. She was crowned Buzzard Queen at Stan’s Mullet Festival in 2009 and is a founding member of the Goodland Arts Alliance. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Editor of the Coastal Breeze.

 

[email_link]

 


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