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FEBRUARY 8, 2012

A century of Cortez

The Cortez commercial fishing village celebrates three milestones this year – the 100th anniversary of its incorporation, the founding of its school 100 years ago, and the 30th Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

www.amisun.com

FEBRUARY 8, 2012

25

Despite escalating regulations and encroaching development, Cortezians are keeping their maritime heritage alive, supporting two busy fish houses. Here’s a look at the unique community that is Cortez, Florida.

By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

First of three parts CORTEZ – “Finest kind.” They may be the most frequently spoken words in the fishing village of Cortez over the past 100 years, as in, “How’s the fishing?” “Finest kind.” “How’s that mullet smoked?” “Finest kind.” “How was the fishing festival this year?” “Finest kind.” It’s a quirky phrase, like just about everything and everyone in Cortez. In Cortez, everybody who’s anybody has a nickname – Goose, Blue, Jap, Tink, Boogie, Gator, Snooks. Even the village’s name is eccentric – the U.S. Postal Service named it for a Spanish explorer of the 15th century, whose first name was Hernando, but not the one who actually came ashore in nearby Bradenton, Hernando De Soto. Like some of the creatures swimming near its shores, Cortez is an endangered species, a commercial fishing village fighting to stay that way, come hell or high water. Hell takes a couple of forms. The village’s bayfront property has attracted a series of optimistic developers that residents have fended off like Hemingway’s old man trying to save his catch from the shark. Once, a developer told Karen Bell, office manager

On the cover: Soupy Davis plays the mandolin at a music festival in Cortez.

CINDY LANE | SUN

CINDY LANE | SUN

Crab traps are stacked on a dock in the village.

TROY MORGAN | PHOTOSFROMTHEAIR.COM

From the air, the various sections of Cortez are put into perspective, with the old fishing village, the Kitchen and the Cortez Bridge on the far right and the newer developments in the center and ringing the shoreline.

It’s a fishing festival, not a seafood festival

CINDY LANE | SUN

A shrimp net hangs off a boat at sunset in Cortez. of A.P. Bell Fish Co., that he wanted to build a series of shops along the waterfront in the style of a fishing village. No thanks, it’s already a fishing village, she snapped, and by the way, there’s the road out of town. Regulators are not as easily chased off, and have relegated much of the Cortez fishing industry into the history books with the net ban in 1995, the longline ban in 2010 and catch limits and size limits that recently landed one Cortez fisherman in jail for 30 days. Then there is the high water – the hurricane of 1921 that destroyed nearly all the Cortez waterfront, a red tide that made the mullet disappear, storms that have claimed catches and boats and limbs and lives. But Cortez stays afloat, and has for more than a century. This year marks two centennials and a 30th anniversary for the village – 100 years ago, the village was incorporated and the 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School opened its doors for the first class of barefooted fishermen’s children, and 30 years ago, villagers started the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

From village to city and back again

The village was incorporated on June 8, 1912,

with S.J. Sanders serving as mayor, A. D. Millis, A.F. Taylor, A. Willis, J.E. Guthrie, W.C. Bratton, F.C. Rowell and W.T. Fulford as aldermen, A.M. Guthrie as clerk and L.G. Lewis as town marshal, according to Manatee County records. Descendants of the men still live in Cortez. The city was dissolved on July 8, 1929 due to lack of operating funds after the Florida crash of 1926. The village is now part of Manatee County, but retains special code enforcement treatment to allow fishermen wide latitude in keeping boats, crab traps, nets and other gear – picturesque and not – on their property.

Schoolhouse turns museum

The same year, 1912, the Cortez Rural Graded School opened, taking the place of the one-room schoolhouse which still stands as a private home on 45th Street. It was the village’s refuge during the hurricane of 1921, before hurricanes had names, and later was a private home for an artist. It is now the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, the hub of a growing historic park that includes four other historic buildings that have been relocated there, the Pillsbury Boatworks, the Bratton Store, the Monroe Cottage and the Harris House.

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, started by villagers and still run by some of the original founders, is celebrating its 30th anniversary the weekend of Feb. 18-19, proclaimed Fishing Festival Days by the Manatee County Commission. While it serves up fresh, local seafood, don’t call it a seafood festival – it’s all about fishermen and how they feed the world. True to the village’s sense of humor, this year’s theme is “Something’s fishy in Cortez.” Proceeds from the festival’s $3 admission fee have paid for 95 waterfront acres on the eastern boundary of the village, which the not-for-profit Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) has turned into the FISH Preserve. FISH hopes to complete the preserve by acquiring the remaining vacant lots on the preserve’s northern boundary, and one in the middle owned by a couple who have so far declined to sell. The preserve, which features hiking and kayak trails, serves as a buffer

zone between the village and development to the east.

Fighting the tide

Cortezians have had to struggle to keep their two remaining fish houses in business, A.P. Bell Fish Co. and Cortez Bait and Seafood, and to keep their

way of life alive. “They have been fighting the tide,” said John Stevely, FISH board member and one of the original Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival organizers. “It’s good to see that the village has soldiered on.” Battles have been won on many

CINDY LANE | SUN

What remains of the Cortez fleet awaits the next fishing trip.

fronts. They beat a proposed marina developer who would have built 145-footlong piers that would have blocked commercial fishing boats from coming into the docks. They squelched a plan for a bridge to Anna Maria Island that would have had two 60-foot-high spans and encroached on four Cortez streets, closing businesses. They successfully fought a condo developer whose plans would have walled off Sarasota Bay views and breezes from century-old cottages. They beat another developer who wanted to raze the waterfront Cortez Trailer Park, displacing senior citizens who have lived there for decades. To fortify themselves for future battles, they got the village listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1995, the 128th birthday of Capt. Billy Fulford, the first pioneer to buy property in the village in 1887. “It does take a village,” said Mary Fulford Green, Fulford’s 16th granddaughter, and the first redhead. “Cortez is certainly that village.” Next week: Commercial fishing and the best little festival in the South.

How to speak Cortezian Kitchen – Sarasota Bay, where the seafood comes from that feeds the village Finest kind – the answer to just about any question: “How’s your day going?” “Finest kind.” Wiggle worms – mosquito larvae,

often found in rain barrel drinking water Schoolhouse – the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, formerly the 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School Oyt, hoyt – a fisherman’s greeting Swamp cabbage – hearts of palm, a

Southern delicacy Co-hop – fishermen’s cooperative Firehouse – Cortez Community Center, formerly a volunteer fire station Bobbers – floating buoys attached to stone crab traps

Church of God – Fishermen’s Hall Square grouper – floating bales of marijuana caught by fishermen-turnedsmugglers Burton store – the historic Bratton store


FREE 

VOL 13 No. 17

February 8, 2012

End comes for Cafe’s beach market BY TOM VAUGHT Sun Staff Writer | tvaught@amisun.com

BRADENTON BEACH – The open-air market at Gulf Drive Café died last Thursday when the city commission failed to approve a permit request for the Sunday sales under the chickee hut. After hearing from 18 speakers, most of them against the market, at the start of the meeting, Commissioner Jan Vosburgh moved to approve the permit request, but the motion died when nobody seconded it. Mayor John Shaughnessy asked for another motion (to deny it) and nobody came forward. The mayor gaveled the issue dead, but City SEE MARKET, PAGE 38

Split proposed for Tebbetts Field BY CINDY LANE Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CINDY LANE | sun

100 Years of Cortez One century ago, the Cortez commercial fishing village was born and, through trying times and changes, continues to survive today. Take a look at one of the last communities of its kind in the state. Pages 24-27 INSIDE NEWS OPINION Sun survey BUSINESS ARTS OUTDOORS TOWN CRIER CLASSIFIED

4 6 7 14-15 23 28-30 31 44-47

ISLAND ART: New show at The Studio presents ‘Simply Daring Color.’ 23

Anna Maria Island, Florida

The Island’s award-winning weekly newspaper

HOLMES BEACH – An isolated incident between ball players and dog owners at Birdie Tebbetts Field has led to a proposal to split the field in two. The field is designated as a ball field, but if no one is playing ball, the city allows dogs to run off leash. No dogs are permitted during ball playing activities, as noted on a sign posted on the field’s fence. The Holmes Beach Commission had been asked by dog owners to make the field exclusively a dog park after residents said

CINDY LANE | SUN

The sign at Birdie Tebbetts Field was removed last week to clear up confusion over the use of the field. SEE TEBBETTS, PAGE 33

Blue marliN: LOCAL SEAFOOD DAILY 14 Valentine love stories from our readers. 13 www.amisun.com


26

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THE SUN

FEBRUARY 8, 2012

Snapshots of Cortez By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CORTEZ – Ask a Cortezian about the village, and stories fly like mullet being tossed into a boat cooler. Here are some snapshots of the Cortez of yesterday – some fond, some funny, some frightening – told mostly in the words of the reminiscers, and, like all fish tales, mostly true.

Mark Taylor Commercial fisherman, former state president of Organized Fishermen of Florida

I grew up on crews. When I was just a little fella, before I could earn half a share, I was with Uncle Joe Capo on dad’s boat. We would fish for days at a time and ice them down, and Taylor get a truck to come to the Skyway, and we’d unload into the truck and they’d bring us ice. A guy we called Shorty was cooking on the boat - pompano, rice and tomato gravy. Uncle Joe was steering and I was down in the cabin. Shorty said you could eat the backbone of a pompano like potato chips. He fried it up. It was the finest kind, and I was eatin’ it. He couldn’t hardly hold himself from bustin’ as I spit it over the side of boat. I remember milk being delivered in Hoods metal boxes. Selling mangos and guavas to the Yankees in Cortez Trailer Park; they either loved them or were allergic to them. We used to drink water out of jelly jars from the water tanks with wiggle worms floating in it. Before we had indoor plumbing I remember going to the Albion Inn and running through it and flushing all the toilets. Guys knocking down the walls of the (Cortez) bridge during construction to keep the bridge from being built. The mosquito control district spraying that yellow fog (DDT). Hearing on the (marine) radio, “Blue’s lost his leg.”

Thomas ‘Blue’ Fulford Commercial fisherman, Manatee County Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee

People used to pull together. When one hurt, they all hurt. It used to be a good place to grow up, but something has happened to the dear hearts and gentle people in my hometown. It Fulford

ain’t like the good old days. People don’t work together like they used to. It’s not cohesive like it used to be. I couldn’t say exactly what happened, but the main thing was the net ban.

Carolyn Doig Blue crabber, granddaughter of Cortez settler Vernon Mora

Everyone used to come out to the Friday night fish fries during mullet season at the volunteer fire station. Ol’ Man Coarsey from the post office always Doig had his harmonica in his pocket. The menu was fried mullet, hush puppies, cole slaw, grits and sweet tea. The men would do the cooking, the women would make the desserts and the kids would clear the tables. After the net ban, we stopped doing them. There’s a lot of stuff we did that we can’t do anymore since the net ban.

Mary Fulford Green Co-founder, Cortez Village Historical Society

When I was about eight, my Grandpa, Capt. Billy Fulford, asked me to go to the store for him. He had just one leg; that meant walking down the path to the store. When I Green returned I gave him the change and one dime was missing. He asked if I had bought candy. That would have been OK with him. I told him “No.” My mother wanted to prove that I was telling the truth. She left everything she was doing and walked back down the path and found the dime that had dropped in the grass. That was a wonderful lesson to learn – the value of truth. Today I do not lie. To me a white lie is a lie.

Mark Green Mary Fulford Green’s son

I used to spend summers and school holidays in Cortez and loved going fishing with my grandfather, Tink Fulford. We didn't fish on Sundays because almost everyone went Green to church, but Sunday night it was OK to go fishing. My grandmother insisted we go to the Church of Christ both Sun-

day morning and Sunday night. Grandpa Tink didn't go to church on Sunday night and he wanted to leave as soon as possible, but he wasn't going to tell my grandmother we couldn't go to church. We would have to run from the church building to the dock as soon as the service was over. Grandpa knew exactly what time we should be there, and he would untie, start up the boat and take off from the dock as soon as he saw us getting close. We had to run and jump on as the boat was pulling off. I don't think he would have left us if we missed the boat, but he sure acted like it.

Richard Culbreath Bandleader, Richard Culbreath Group, veteran

I remember getting electricity and running water to our house, our first icebox and later a refrigerator, our first washing machine with hand-cranked wringer Culbreath and indoor plumbing and a bathroom with a toilet. I think the one thing I have to put ahead of the rest is family. I grew up in two large families, the Julius Mora and James Culbreath families. I learned family values and traditions, including music, and have been able to carry that through life.

Sam Bell Volunteer, Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez

My dad would take me with him in his boat up to School Key (now Key Royale) to cut a red cedar tree to be used as our Christmas tree. The result would be the fra- Bell grant red cedar aroma in our little house throughout the Christmas season. I think most families in Cortez did this. I can't remember anyone buying a spruce or pine. Indeed, my dad would cut several to share with elderly neighbors who couldn't get one on their own.

Richard ‘Chips’ Shore FISH board member, Clerk of Manatee County Circuit Court and Comptroller

My parents ate at the Albion Inn two or three times a month. As a child it was an adventurous trip, especially in the back near the water and over towards Shore

Bell’s (A.P. Bell Fish Co.). There was always some activity going on and the food was second to none. Our favorite was the pompano (en papillott) done in brown bags.

Wyman Coarsey Former Cortez postmaster, veteran

John Blackburn was a good teacher, but if you did something wrong, he’d make you cut off a branch from a palmetto bush and pull off the leaves to make your own switch. It worked, Coarsey too. You’d never do that again.

Henry Clayton ‘Jap’ Adams Commercial fisherman, veteran

In 1940, Jap Adams swam out to the Regina, a sinking molasses barge off Bradenton Beach, and saved two crewmen from drowning in the storm that sank her. He served in the Adams U.S. Army during World War II in Africa under Gen. George Patton. He and his five brothers served in three service branches: Cleveland “Cubie” Adams, Clyde Dillard “Doc” Adams, Leon “Buddy” Adams, Willis Howard “Snooks” Adams and William Hugh “Man” Adams. Four of his brothers who served in the Navy were separated because of the Sullivans, five Iowa brothers who were killed serving on the same ship in 1942.

Linda Molto Artist, Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival coordinator

When I moved here in 1983, it was a sleepy little town. In the summertime, if one or two cars would go by it was a lot. It’s not like that now. People drive around and look. You can’t blame Molto them because there are so few of these places left. They feel like it’s somehow a part of them. Word of mouth is telling people it’s a real place and not a tourist attraction. But you never know how long it’s going to last.


24

FEBRUARY 8, 2012

A century of Cortez

The Cortez commercial fishing village celebrates three milestones this year – the 100th anniversary of its incorporation, the founding of its school 100 years ago, and the 30th Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

www.amisun.com

FEBRUARY 8, 2012

25

Despite escalating regulations and encroaching development, Cortezians are keeping their maritime heritage alive, supporting two busy fish houses. Here’s a look at the unique community that is Cortez, Florida.

By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

First of three parts CORTEZ – “Finest kind.” They may be the most frequently spoken words in the fishing village of Cortez over the past 100 years, as in, “How’s the fishing?” “Finest kind.” “How’s that mullet smoked?” “Finest kind.” “How was the fishing festival this year?” “Finest kind.” It’s a quirky phrase, like just about everything and everyone in Cortez. In Cortez, everybody who’s anybody has a nickname – Goose, Blue, Jap, Tink, Boogie, Gator, Snooks. Even the village’s name is eccentric – the U.S. Postal Service named it for a Spanish explorer of the 15th century, whose first name was Hernando, but not the one who actually came ashore in nearby Bradenton, Hernando De Soto. Like some of the creatures swimming near its shores, Cortez is an endangered species, a commercial fishing village fighting to stay that way, come hell or high water. Hell takes a couple of forms. The village’s bayfront property has attracted a series of optimistic developers that residents have fended off like Hemingway’s old man trying to save his catch from the shark. Once, a developer told Karen Bell, office manager

On the cover: Soupy Davis plays the mandolin at a music festival in Cortez.

CINDY LANE | SUN

CINDY LANE | SUN

Crab traps are stacked on a dock in the village.

TROY MORGAN | PHOTOSFROMTHEAIR.COM

From the air, the various sections of Cortez are put into perspective, with the old fishing village, the Kitchen and the Cortez Bridge on the far right and the newer developments in the center and ringing the shoreline.

It’s a fishing festival, not a seafood festival

CINDY LANE | SUN

A shrimp net hangs off a boat at sunset in Cortez. of A.P. Bell Fish Co., that he wanted to build a series of shops along the waterfront in the style of a fishing village. No thanks, it’s already a fishing village, she snapped, and by the way, there’s the road out of town. Regulators are not as easily chased off, and have relegated much of the Cortez fishing industry into the history books with the net ban in 1995, the longline ban in 2010 and catch limits and size limits that recently landed one Cortez fisherman in jail for 30 days. Then there is the high water – the hurricane of 1921 that destroyed nearly all the Cortez waterfront, a red tide that made the mullet disappear, storms that have claimed catches and boats and limbs and lives. But Cortez stays afloat, and has for more than a century. This year marks two centennials and a 30th anniversary for the village – 100 years ago, the village was incorporated and the 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School opened its doors for the first class of barefooted fishermen’s children, and 30 years ago, villagers started the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

From village to city and back again

The village was incorporated on June 8, 1912,

with S.J. Sanders serving as mayor, A. D. Millis, A.F. Taylor, A. Willis, J.E. Guthrie, W.C. Bratton, F.C. Rowell and W.T. Fulford as aldermen, A.M. Guthrie as clerk and L.G. Lewis as town marshal, according to Manatee County records. Descendants of the men still live in Cortez. The city was dissolved on July 8, 1929 due to lack of operating funds after the Florida crash of 1926. The village is now part of Manatee County, but retains special code enforcement treatment to allow fishermen wide latitude in keeping boats, crab traps, nets and other gear – picturesque and not – on their property.

Schoolhouse turns museum

The same year, 1912, the Cortez Rural Graded School opened, taking the place of the one-room schoolhouse which still stands as a private home on 45th Street. It was the village’s refuge during the hurricane of 1921, before hurricanes had names, and later was a private home for an artist. It is now the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, the hub of a growing historic park that includes four other historic buildings that have been relocated there, the Pillsbury Boatworks, the Bratton Store, the Monroe Cottage and the Harris House.

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, started by villagers and still run by some of the original founders, is celebrating its 30th anniversary the weekend of Feb. 18-19, proclaimed Fishing Festival Days by the Manatee County Commission. While it serves up fresh, local seafood, don’t call it a seafood festival – it’s all about fishermen and how they feed the world. True to the village’s sense of humor, this year’s theme is “Something’s fishy in Cortez.” Proceeds from the festival’s $3 admission fee have paid for 95 waterfront acres on the eastern boundary of the village, which the not-for-profit Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) has turned into the FISH Preserve. FISH hopes to complete the preserve by acquiring the remaining vacant lots on the preserve’s northern boundary, and one in the middle owned by a couple who have so far declined to sell. The preserve, which features hiking and kayak trails, serves as a buffer

zone between the village and development to the east.

Fighting the tide

Cortezians have had to struggle to keep their two remaining fish houses in business, A.P. Bell Fish Co. and Cortez Bait and Seafood, and to keep their

way of life alive. “They have been fighting the tide,” said John Stevely, FISH board member and one of the original Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival organizers. “It’s good to see that the village has soldiered on.” Battles have been won on many

CINDY LANE | SUN

What remains of the Cortez fleet awaits the next fishing trip.

fronts. They beat a proposed marina developer who would have built 145-footlong piers that would have blocked commercial fishing boats from coming into the docks. They squelched a plan for a bridge to Anna Maria Island that would have had two 60-foot-high spans and encroached on four Cortez streets, closing businesses. They successfully fought a condo developer whose plans would have walled off Sarasota Bay views and breezes from century-old cottages. They beat another developer who wanted to raze the waterfront Cortez Trailer Park, displacing senior citizens who have lived there for decades. To fortify themselves for future battles, they got the village listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1995, the 128th birthday of Capt. Billy Fulford, the first pioneer to buy property in the village in 1887. “It does take a village,” said Mary Fulford Green, Fulford’s 16th granddaughter, and the first redhead. “Cortez is certainly that village.” Next week: Commercial fishing and the best little festival in the South.

How to speak Cortezian Kitchen – Sarasota Bay, where the seafood comes from that feeds the village Finest kind – the answer to just about any question: “How’s your day going?” “Finest kind.” Wiggle worms – mosquito larvae,

often found in rain barrel drinking water Schoolhouse – the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, formerly the 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School Oyt, hoyt – a fisherman’s greeting Swamp cabbage – hearts of palm, a

Southern delicacy Co-hop – fishermen’s cooperative Firehouse – Cortez Community Center, formerly a volunteer fire station Bobbers – floating buoys attached to stone crab traps

Church of God – Fishermen’s Hall Square grouper – floating bales of marijuana caught by fishermen-turnedsmugglers Burton store – the historic Bratton store


12

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THE SUN

FEBRUARY 15, 2012

The village that mullet built Both process stone crab, grouper and other fish, but mullet is the fish that built Cortez. This year’s mullet season, now winding down, was a record-breaker, the peak of a seven-year cycle, some say, or the result of fish swimming south to escape polluted waters from the Gulf oil spill of 2010, others speculate. Boats overflowed, and for a moment, it was almost like the old days.

Despite escalating regulations and encroaching development, Cortezians are keeping their maritime heritage alive.

Good ol’ days

Thomas “Blue” Fulford learned to fish as a boy watching his uncle, Tink Fulford, who was known for being the hardest worker in five counties. He once poled a boat by hand 20 miles around Tarpon Key while everyone else was sleeping, looking for mullet. Fulford misses seeing fishermen walking down to the docks carrying their paper sack lunches (fish and grits for breakfast, fish and grits for dinner, and leftovers for supper, he recalls). He misses the days when fishermen built their own boats, everyone went barefoot, no one locked their doors and none of the yards had fences. “Everybody was kin,” said Fulford, president of the Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF) for more than 20 years. “It was just heaven on earth.” “I was never hungry, even though it might be fried mullet six days a week” during the Depression, Mary Fulford Green said. “I was provided for as my father was a hard working fisherman. He had his own boat and crew when he was 14 years old.” “A fisherman would walk down to the shore and would pass another fisherman coming in and the only thing they would say to each other is something like ‘oyt’ ” said Mark Taylor, whose grandfather, Alva Taylor, was one of the original settlers from Carteret County. “I said, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to say that,’ and I do.” As a Cortez kid, Taylor shoveled fish, painted boat bottoms and started

Mark Taylor | submitted

Earl “Rusty” Taylor, left, and son, Mark “Little Rusty” Taylor, roping in mackerel on a power roller in the early 1990s.

By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

Second of three parts CORTEZ – The wind is screaming, the Gulf of Mexico is frosted with whitecaps, and it’s so cold the pelicans aren’t even bothering to trail the bouncing mullet boat just offshore. But there they are, a couple of guys in yellow oilers and white boots, with leathery skin and hands tough as nails, making a living the old, hard way. Cortez commercial fishermen are determined to follow in the wake of their great-great-great grandfathers, who settled Hunter’s Point from Carteret County, N.C., in the 1800s. There are easier ways to make a living. Commercial fishing is the third deadliest job in America after firefighters and loggers. Boat-battering storms and fish-killing pollution and red tide make it harder. Regulations have made it almost impossible. Stop nets and gill nets are banned and longlines are heavily regulated. It takes a team of lawyers to interpret the constantly changing rules on closed seasons and fishing quotas and catch On the cover: Fishermen unload their catch at the Cortez docks in this undated photo.

shares. Some fisheries, like bay scallops, are closed completely. Yet, Cortez fishermen are keeping the last two of the village’s original five fish houses in business.

Staying afloat

At the A.P. Bell Fish Co., a fisherman tosses mullet fat with roe onto the conveyor belt from the dock, where the Bell fleet is moored, a dozen boats all with the name Belle in them, mostly named after women in the family of founder Aaron Parks Bell. In the parking lot, stone crabbers are building their traps. Chainsaw Charlie carves a totem pole while his dog, Lilly, rests in the shade of the Fishermen’s Memorial, which honors Cortez veterans lost during wartime and Cortez commercial fishermen lost at sea – three of them, Michael “Bugsy” Moran, Dale “Murph” Murphy and Frank “Billy” Tyne Jr., were immortalized in the film, “The Perfect Storm.” Cortez is just the way Bell’s office manager, Karen Bell, likes it, full of characters who leave crab traps piled in their back yards and nets hanging like sheer laundry on a clothesline. The Bell fish house has survived because it has adapted to changes in the fishing industry, Bell said, by catering to Asian tastes for roe and adding

A brief history of Cortez U.S. Post Office renames Hunter’s Point Cortez

Spaniards discover the area, ship dried fish to Cuba, the Bahamas 1400s

Late 1800s Fulford, Guthrie and Jones families settle Hunter’s Point from Carteret County, N.C.

1895

Cindy Lane | Sun

Blue Fulford makes a cast net at the 2006 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

Hurricane strikes, destroying most of Cortez waterfront and half-built bridge to Anna Maria Island

Cortez village incorporated; Cortez Rural Graded School opens

Early 1900s 1912

Nate Fulford installs four-horsepower engine on a skipjack, the beginning of the end of sailboat and poling fishing

offshore boats to its inshore fleet when deepwater grouper became popular with diners. At the other end of the village’s waterfront, Cortez Bait and Seafood is staying afloat specializing in bait fish.

1920s

1921

Cortez rum runners smuggle Cuban rum and Bimini whiskey during Prohibition

1930s

SEE CORTEZ, PAGE 13

Fish houses built; 65 men Fish houses built; 65 men and women enlist to and women enlist to serve in World War II serve in World War II 1940s

Mullet disappear for eight years; during the Great Depression, Cortezians share ham bones with neighbors to flavor soup and beans rather than take government handouts

1947

Late 1940s

Catastrophic red tide kills fish


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FEBRUARY 15, 2012

THE SUN

13

cortez: The village that mullet built Some fishermen turned to cast nets to catch mullet, others started shrimping, trapping blue crabs and stone crabs or longlining grouper. Some became dock builders or dredge operators. Some went inland to work. Taylor joined the county parks staff, raking Anna Maria Island’s beaches.

Deja vu

Mark Taylor | submitted

Roe mullet in a gill net at New Pass in the 1980s, before gill nets were banned in 1995. FROM PAGE 12

earning half shares, or wages, as a teenage crew member.. There was nothing like pulling against a net full of fish, and you could never get enough of it. “You might fish night and day seven days a week, and what do you talk about when you’re not fishing? Fishing,” said Taylor, whose treasures a photo showing him with a gill net full of mullet. It’s not something the current generation will ever know.

The day the music died

“I was 45 when the net ban hit, in my prime. I had just hung a $10,000 net that had never been used,” said Taylor, former state director of OFF, which fought the gill

net ban. I had a wholesale seafood trucking business, a purse seine boat and a gill net boat, and it just stopped cold. Suddenly, it was illegal.” The battle between commercial net fishermen, who relied on fishing for their livelihoods, and recreational hook and line fishermen, who fished for fun, played itself out in the media. OFF fought the ban in 1994, saying that recreational fishermen, among them, fisheries regulators, skewed estimates of fish stock to make it look like commercial fishermen were overfishing. But voters, outraged at widely publicized photographs of dead dolphins and sea turtles supposedly killed by walls of gill nets, passed a state Constitutional amend-

ment banning the nets. “The net ban cut out a way of fishing and whether that was for the good or the bad, I’m not sure,” said Arnold “Soupy” Davis, still considered by natives as a newcomer to Cortez, having arrived in 1950. “But I totally disagree with how it was done. Having people believe in the ‘walls of death,’ that was an overexaggeration.” “It was a brutal social conflict, hostile and dividing,” said J.B. Crawford, an author and Cortez commercial fisherman. “But the most bitter aspect was that commercial net fishermen mainly targeted mullet. The mullet is a vegetarian and does not bite a baited hook. The net ban protected fish not caught by hook and line, not targeted by sports fishermen.”

A brief history of Cortez Stop nets banned; red tide strikes again 1953

1960s

Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF) founded to fight proposed commercial fishing ban 1967

Monofilament nets invented, replacing cotton nets; kicker boats with outboard motors replace inboard motors, allowing fishermen into shallower waters; fish houses build commercial freezers, making shipments to Asia possible

1970s

New fisheries develop – grouper, baitfish, mullet roe

1980s

Bay scallops nearly disappear from Sarasota Bay; bales of marijuana, or “square grouper,” smuggled through Cortez

Gill nets banned 1994

1995

Fight over state Constitutional amendment to ban gill nets

Another ban in 1953 had put a stop to stop nets, which were placed at bayous and partially enclosed waters to trap nearly all the fish behind the nets as the tide went out. The method created a large amount of bycatch, or trash fish, which many fishermen saw as ecologically unsound and a waste of natural resources, Crawford said, adding that the issue pitted stop netters against seine net, gill net, and trammel net fishermen. In 2010, déjà vu happened all over again. Longline fishing gear was all but banned due to bycatch, with only eight longline permits issued in Manatee County, according to Glen “Rabbit” Brooks, president of the Gulf Fisherman’s Association, who fishes under some of the permits. It started with one fisherman snagging a loggerhead sea turtle on a longline and ended with a limit of 62 longline permits for the entire Gulf of Mexico. While some commercial fishermen say they love sea turtles and others say they love them for dinner, most agree that fishermen are environmentalists by necessity – they must conserve fish or they risk their future livelihoods and those of their children. That future may be doubtful.

Forecast: partly cloudy

In recent years, the fierce independence of many fishermen has kept them at odds with each other, making them unable to fight united opposition, Fulford said, adding that in the old days, people pulled together like a crew on a net. “It’s not cohesive like it used to be,” he said. The most recent example is another new regulation launched in 2010, the individual fishing quota (IFQ) for commercially caught grouper, which has both fans and

SEE CORTEZ, PAGE 14

100th anniversary of village incorporaShinedown’s hit music tion, 100th anniversary of Cortez video, “Second Chance,” schoolhouse, 30th anniversary of filmed at Cortez docks Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival 2003

2009

“Out of Time,” movie starring Denzel Washington, filmed at Cortez docks

2010

2012

Longlines heavily regulated; individual fishing quotas (IFQs) implemented


14

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THE SUN

FEBRUARY 15, 2012

Local author inspired by Cortez By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CORTEZ – The mythical fishing village of DeSoto in author J.B. Crawford’s new young adult book, “Nathan and the Stone Crabs,” is not Cortez, he insists. Never mind that Cortez probably should have been named DeSoto, since Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto landed nearby and Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez did not. Never mind that the tale of a teenager and his grandfather paints portraits of Cortez waterways, including the Kitchen in Sarasota Bay, as accurately as a navigational chart, or that Karenia Brevis bears a close resemblance to a village fish house manager.

The jibes are in good fun, and the story is a good primer in the nuts and bolts of commercial fishing; it’s educational, but by the time the reader realizes it, the story has taken hold. Villagers will recognize aspects of several local residents in the vivid characters in Crawford’s novel, the first in a young adult series he plans on different aspects of fishing. With nine grandchildren, Crawford, a Cortez resident, has eight more to go to feature each of the kids in adventures in bait fishing, shrimping and more. A retired high school English teacher, Harvard doctor, Army Reserve colonel and commercial fishing captain, Crawford is partly the grandfather and partly the deckhand in the

book, teaching young Nathan how to build, bait, set and clear stone crab traps on a summer visit. The teen at first resents having to leave urban Los Angeles for his mother’s backwoods birthplace, but leaves as much a native as his grandfather after adventures at sea teach him about life, death and love. True village tales abound, like the story of women who waded with washtubs tied around their waists, using glass-bottomed boxes to find scallops and scooping them into the washtubs with wire scoops tied to broom handles. Tales accepted as true are retold, like the favorite story that during the Great Depression, no one in the village accepted any government handouts.

Crawford gets political, too, with rants against both the 1994 net ban and the practice of stop netting, which “verged on criminal abuse of public re-

Church-turned-hall may be church again A small congregation has asked to use the former Cortez Church of God, now Fishermen’s Hall, as a church on Sundays. Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

Separate accounts

In other business, Manatee Coun-

cortez: Fish and foes FROM PAGE 13

By Cindy Lane

CORTEZ – The former Church of God may not be finished being a church after all. Rev. Kenneth Gill, former pastor of Longboat Island Chapel, asked the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) last week to consider renting the newly-named Fishermen’s Hall, formerly the Church of God, 4511 124th St. W., on Sundays for meetings of his 40-member, non-denominational congregation. Gill resigned last month from the chapel after its board placed him on administrative leave and scheduled a vote of the congregation on whether to retain him. In addition to a lease payment for one year, Gill offered to help FISH with labor as the not-for-profit preservation group works to finish the restoration of the one-room building as a community center and event venue. The FISH facilities committee agreed to consider the issue. The board also accepted a $1,000 grant from the garden club for landscaping around the hall.

sources.” He tells a tale of stop netters dynamiting the sleeping porch of a fisherman who spoke out against the practice, missing the lucky guy, who was in the outhouse at the time. And he perpetuates local customs, like tossing loose change toward the Longboat channel marker to ensure a safe trip home. From environmental lessons to stories about Prohibition rum runners to hands-on best fishing practices, the book that’s not about Cortez is a rich treasury of local lore that begs for the next in the series. The book is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, and as an e-book on Kindle. It also will be available at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival on Feb 18 and 19.

Mark Taylor | submitted

Fishermen's Hall in Cortez, formerly the Church of God. ty Clerk of Circuit Court Chips Shore, a FISH board member, told the board that the discovery of $6,000 in a box at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez has led to the realization that state rules are not being followed regarding separation of funds between the museum and FISH. The two organizations must have separate bank accounts under Florida Communities Trust requirements, he said.

The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival will be required to lease the museum grounds for $100 for its festival on Feb. 18 and 19, he said, adding that he will donate the money this year. FISH will continue to keep the profits to expand and enlarge the FISH Preserve. The board voted to establish a subcommittee to work on redefining and improving the relationship between the museum and FISH.

foes in the fishing community. Patterned after a red snapper IFQ, and the precursor to planned IFQs for more species, the plan gives fishermen flexibility to fish when weather and market conditions are favorable, eliminating “derby” fishing, or having to fish in any conditions just to beat the catch limit quota for a particular fishery, according to Brooks. “I’m strictly against the way fisheries management is going now,” Davis said. “Catch shares benefit a few large fishermen at the expense of the majority of small fishermen. A handful are producing the majority of the commercial catch. A lot of boats are tied up down there now that aren’t going out.” Davis bemoans the trend toward more regulations. “Fishing is almost an assembly line now. It’s taking away all the stuff that we got in it for. We got in it because it was one of the last things you could be independent in and you didn’t have a lot of controls,” said Davis, who, at 85, “can’t fish as hard as I used to, but I can still fish.” “Now they tell you when you can go, where you can go, how much you can catch, and what hooks you can use,” he said. “You’re nothing but a human robot.” Next week: Is the future just a memory?


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FEBRUARY 15, 2012

THE SUN

15

Cortez festival this weekend More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the celebration of commercial fishing Feb. 18 and 19. By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CORTEZ – Thirty years ago, John Stevely stirred up the first pot of fish chowder for the first Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. It was gone by 11 a.m. “We had no idea whether anybody would show up,” said Stevely, a board member of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage. “We were completely amazed by the fact we had hundreds of people there in the morning.” This weekend, there is no chance they will run out of seafood at the 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, whose theme is “Something’s Fishy in Cortez.” The event, Feb. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., draws more than 20,000 people to the picturesque historic fishing village to celebrate maritime culture with Florida seafood, nautical arts and crafts, boat tours of the village waterfront, live music and dancing, a marine life touch tank and history tours and talks, one presented by Stevely. This year’s festival features a wide assortment of seafood and other fare from Black Jack Grill, Caribbean Café, Capt. Bob’s, Coco Joe's WaterIce, Greek Flame Foods, J&J Bar-B-Que, Laughing Crab Catering, Meaney’s Mini Donuts, Funnel Cakes, Ocean Harvest, Prestige Jerk Stop, Rocky Top Concession, Shrimp Shack, Tyler's Ice Cream, Quality Foods International, Mr. C's Word of Mouth, VIP Pizza, Cortez

30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival Music Schedule Saturday, Feb. 18 Main Stage

Sunday, Feb. 19 Main Stage

10:30 a.m. Soul R Coaster 12:00 p.m. Awards and introductions 12:30 p.m. Eric von Hahmann 2:00 p.m. Shaman 4:00 p.m. Razing Cane

10:30 a.m. Soupy Davis and his Band 12:00 p.m. Eric von Hahmann 1:30 p.m. Dr. Dave Band 3:30 p.m. Gumbo Boogie Band

Burton Store Porch

10:30 a.m. Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers 11:15 a.m. Jimmy Johnson 12:30 p.m. Terry Blauvelt 1:45 p.m. Sister Act (Lane and Val) 3:00 p.m. Eric von Hahmann 4:00 p.m. Eric and Jimmy

10:30 a.m. Eric von Hahmann 11:45 a.m. Passerine 1:00 p.m. Brian Smalley 2:15 p.m. St. Pete and Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers 2:45 p.m. Eric von Hahmann 4:00 p.m. Jimmy Johnson

Village Historical Society and West Bradenton Kiwanis. Bands include Shaman, Soul R Coaster, Eric von Hahmann, Razing Cane, Brian Smalley, Jimmy Johnson, Passerine, Soupy Davis and his Band, Dr. Dave Band, Gumbo Boogie Band, Terry Blauvelt, Sister Act and the Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers. Admission is $3, with kids under 12 free. All proceeds go towards enlarging and restoring the FISH

Burton Store Porch

(Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage) Preserve, 95 acres of sensitive Sarasota Bay waterfront. The festival entrance is at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, 4415 119th St. W. Parking will be available east of the village off Cortez Road, a five-minute walk to the festival. Remote parking will be available in the Cortez Commons shopping mall parking lot at the corner of Cortez Road and 59th Street West, at G. T. Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W. and at Coquina Beach Bayside. Shuttle buses to Cortez will be $2.50 per round trip. For more information, visit www. cortez-fish.org.

Volunteers needed

Volunteers are needed for the 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival on Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 to 6 p.m. E-mail Debra Ibasfalean at villagelady27@verizon.net.


24

FEBRUARY 22, 2012

www.amisun.com

FEBRUARY 22, 2012

25

Climate change in Cortez With a weather eye to changing times, Cortez is not putting all its fish into one basket, branching out into other ventures like caviar, eco-tours and vacation rentals. By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CORTEZ – If the state would lift the 1995 ban on gill nets, hearts would leap and boats would launch in the commercial fishing village of Cortez. But there’s no time to waste daydreaming. After they woke up from the knockout punch that ended their livelihoods 17 years ago, villagers rolled up their sleeves and got to work, just like they did after the hurricane of 1921, the Great Depression and the catastrophic red tides of 1947 and 1953 that killed all the fish. “On Friday, we went to work. On Monday morning, we woke up and said, ‘What are we gonna do? ’ ” said Kathe Fannon, a former commercial fisherman. They’ve done a variety of things to survive without leaving the water behind. Some fishermen diversified into grouper and stone crab, said John Stevely, board member of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) and one of the founders of the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. “It’s a tribute to the integrity and hardworking nature of the community”

It’s so great

that they are still fishing,” he said. Seth Cripe, one of a new generation of fishermen, is putting a different twist on a staple crop, producing bottarga, or mullet roe, for domestic shipment to his California winery. Cortez fish houses have been shipping roe to Asia for years. Fannon gives eco-tours of Sarasota Bay and Palma Sola Bay; her daughter, a fifth generation native, has recently joined her business as a boat captain on her own boat. Her husband, Mike Fannon, is a boatbuilder and one of the last handful of shrimpers in Cortez. Kim Ibasfalean, who gave Fannon her start in the charter business, also gives boat tours, based across the Intracoastal Waterway from Cortez in Bradenton Beach. Her husband, Mark Ibasfalean, builds docks and makes films about marine life with his brother, Bryan Ibasfalean, who also is a stone crabber. Former commercial fisherman Mark Taylor rakes the beaches on Anna Maria Island for Manatee County, as close as he can get to the water without being on a boat. A member of Taylor’s family is renting out cottages in the village to vacationers.

it attracts people here, then they get here and want to change it.” Linda Molto Organizer, Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

CONTINUED ON PAGE 25

CINDY LANE | SUN

Above, artist Linda Molto heads the committee that organizes the annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. At left, Florida Maritime Museum docent Sam Bell’s family has been in commercial fishing in Cortez since 1901. FROM PAGE 24

CINDY LANE | SUN

Beach raker Mark Taylor is the former state director of the Organized Fishermen of Florida.

CINDY LANE | SUN

Florida Sea Grant extension agent John Stevely is one of the original organizers of the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

“I’m glad to see it’s somebody local doing it. Ever since the net ban, it’s made the slow transition to a tourist community,” he said, adding that he can’t afford to buy a house in his home town of Cortez. “It kind of breaks my heart. Now it’s a boutique community. It’s not the same. You can’t be mad at people for liking it for what it is, but it saddens me. I don’t think it would have happened if we’d have kept fishing.” Karen Bell, office manager for A.P. Bell, one of two remaining commercial fish houses in Cortez – the other is Cortez Bait and Seafood – also has branched out into rentals.

To some degree, Cortez is protected from the destructive effect that large, multi-bedroom vacation rentals are having on Anna Maria Island just across the Cortez Bridge, because Cortez village is a historic district, Stevely said. “The historical overlay will keep the flavor,” he said, adding that Manatee County allows zoning nonconformities so that the few remaining fishermen can keep crab traps, boats and gear in their yards. “That has allowed for the preservation of the working waterfront nature of the community.” The village’s vision plan, adopted by FISH in 2001, does not allow condos or multiple housing on a single lot, said artist Linda Molto, who heads the Cortez Commercial

Fishing Festival. “It said in 50 years, we want it to look like it does now,” she said. But while Cortez hasn’t lost its historic homes, the change in usage from residential to tourist rental is having a profound effect on the village, she said. “It’s beginning to lose its sense of place,” she said, with most of the fishermen gone, people installing fences and locking doors, and no barefoot kids running down to the bay with fishing poles. “It’s so great it attracts people here, then they get here and want to change it. Florida is beginning to look like everywhere else. In 20 years, maybe Cortez will too,” she said. “Is this the only way Florida can survive, to be a giant resort?”


26

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THE SUN

The battle to remain a working fishing village and a cohesive community remains to be won or lost, but Cortez has made sure that at least its history will survive.

FEBRUARY 22, 2012

The future - a memory? torn down, Albert Pillsbury donated the building to Manatee County.

Bratton store

By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CORTEZ – There is less fishing and more preservation in Cortez these days, but the success of an expanding museum complex and environmental preserve is bittersweet. “We’ve got the Florida Maritime Museum, we’ve got the FISH Preserve, the festival is going strong, and we still have a community where we meet at the post office and stop and talk,” said Linda Molto, organizer of the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival and co-author of “Cortez - Then and Now” with Cortez Village Historical Society (CVHS) founder Mary Fulford Green. “But the museum developments are almost saying the real thing is over,” she said. CVHS, founded in 1984, was reorganized last year by Green and a dozen other Cortezians to work on establishing two more museums in the historic complex, the Family Life Museum and the Military Museum. CVHS was instrumental in having Cortez village established as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places and as a historic neighborhood in the Manatee County comprehensive plan, as well as in restoring the Cortez Rural Graded School as the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez and purchasing and moving the historic Bratton store to the complex. The museum, operated by Manatee County, seems to be distancing itself from CVHS, said Green, who is disappointed that the county will not allow CVHS to open its Family Life Museum in the Bratton store as planned; the two-story store would require the installation of an elevator, destroying part of the store, if it was open to the public, according to the county. Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board members also have said they feel a

cindy lane | Sun

The late Alcee Taylor’s pole skiff, built by his father, Neriah Elijah Taylor, in 1932 was propelled by strong backs, not sails or motors. widening division between the museum and FISH, dating back to the unauthorized sale of a historic shrimp boat donated for preservation to the museum in 2010 by the Tupin/Fannon family. FISH board member Plum Taylor said that because of the fiasco, her family had second thoughts about donating a skiff to the museum that was owned by her late husband, Alcee Taylor. His boat was installed at the museum earlier this month, on loan only. FISH secretary Joe Kane said

the growing schism in Cortez is a spiritual and mental one. “We need to get the feeling that we are part of the museum and the museum is part of us,” he said.

Saved

The museum complex consists of several buildings on the eastern edge of the village, and other historic acquisitions scattered throughout the village.

Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez

The museum is the core of the

historical preservation efforts in Cortez. Housed in the 1912 schoolhouse, it marks the eastern entrance to Cortez village at 119th Street and Cortez Road. The Cortez Rural Graded School was built in 1912 and operated until 1961, when it was leased to an art school. Artist Robert Sailors, a master weaver, bought the building in 1974 and used it as his home and studio until his death in 1998. The following year, Manatee County purchased the property, then restored the building and opened it in 2006 as a museum.

Pillsbury Boatshop

cindy lane | Sun

The 1907 Asa Harmon Pillsbury Boatshop was relocated to the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez from Snead Island in 2007.

North of the museum is the 1907 Asa Harmon Pillsbury Boatshop, relocated from the Snead Island Boatworks in 2007. The boatworks was operated by Edward Pillsbury and his son, Asa Pillsbury, who earned notoriety for his craftsmanship in building small skiffs and runabouts used for fishing off Cortez. When the property was sold to E.E. Bishop in the late 1930s, the Pillsbury family loaded the boatshop onto a truck bed and moved it to their home three miles away, where they used it as a machine shop to service the Pillsbury dredging company’s equipment. When the Pillsbury family subdivided its property in 2003, one of the new property lines was drawn through the boatshop. Rather than see it

The Bratton store, also known as the Burton store, was built in the 1890s by William C. Bratton at Hunter’s Point, the original name of Cortez. The building served as a general store, steamboat wharf and U.S. Post Office. The original P.O. Box 1 is used today by Star Fish Co., the oldest continuous business in Cortez. L.J.C. Bratton added hotel rooms onto the store in 1900, calling it the Albion Inn, after his son. The Edneys of North Carolina purchased the store and hotel in 1910, and gave it to their daughter, Bessie, and her husband, Joe Guthrie, who expanded the complex to a 24-room hotel. The Guthrie’s daughter, Elizabeth, became postmistress at age 18. The building was the only one on the Cortez waterfront to survive the hurricane of 1921. The inn closed in 1974 and the property was sold to the U.S. Coast Guard. CVHS and the Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF) raised $12,000 through strawberry shortcake sales and other fundraisers, and saved the store from demolition in 1991. The store was moved from its site near the new Coast Guard station to the east side of the museum in 2006. Behind the store is a historic cistern, used for drinking water in the early days of Cortez. The store’s front porch is the venue for the monthly Music on the Porch series and the annual Cortez Folk Music Festival.

FISH Preserve

East of the Bratton store is the 95-acre FISH Preserve, where hikers and kayakers can follow a trail of mangroves along Sarasota Bay, known as the Kitchen to residents whose parents and grandparents five generations back relied on it for food. The preserve is a permanent buffer between the village and ever-encroaching coastal Florida development, but is threatened from within by a property owner who owns a parcel in the middle of the preserve and plans to build a home there. SEE CORTEZ, PAGE 27


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FEBRUARY 22, 2012

THE SUN

27

Cortez schoolhouse centennial begins Mark Taylor, who attended the school, as did his father. When Taylor was a student, the schoolhouse was used as an auditorium and the classes were in World War II-style barracks. He recalled boys setting the nearby palmetto bushes on fire to chase the rattlesnakes out, then shooting the rattlesnakes with shotguns so they could play baseball in the schoolyard. Green recalled classmates finding something else in the palmetto bushes – a load of moonshine. “It was kind of a tough place to grow up, but it was a wonderful place to grow up,” Taylor said. “You can’t take away those memories.”

By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CORTEZ – This year marks the 100th birthday of the red brick 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School, which is now the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. The school operated until 1961, when it was leased to an art school. Artist Robert Sailors bought the building in 1974 for his home and studio. With help from the Cortez Village Historical Society, Manatee County purchased the property in 1999, restored the building and opened it in 2006 as a museum. It has always been at the heart of the community, the site of fish fries, musical events, fishermen’s union meetings, local elections, even a contentious meeting last year on what to do about coyotes preying on village pets. On Oct. 25, 1921, it saved villagers from a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mile-per-hour winds. Doris Green was 6 years old when the storm hit. She recalled in her book, “Fog’s Comin’ In,” that she saw houses and boats floating by their Cortez home, which had been the village’s first 1895 one-room schoolhouse, now a residence at 12016 45th Ave. W. The family piled into a skiff just before their house floated off its pine pier foundation and made it to the schoolhouse, where several neighbors were docked. When the storm was over, nothing was left on the Cortez waterfront but pilings and the Albion Inn, part of which has been relocated to the schoolhouse museum complex. To this day, villagers hold the schoolhouse to be the safest place to ride out a storm.

School days

Other Cortez natives who attended the school also have vivid memories. “My first-grade class at Cortez Elementary School was small, five boys and one girl,” said Sam Bell, president of the Cortez Village Historical Society. “Our teacher was Miss Mae McCloud. Weather permitting, every Wednesday after

Heritage Days

cindy lane | Sun

The 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School was restored and opened in 2006 as the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. school, she would load us in her little 1935 Chevy coupe with a rumble seat. She would drive us over the old wooden bridge to the drug store in Bradenton Beach and buy each of us a nickel ice cream cone. They don't make 'em like that anymore. God bless her.” Musician Richard Culbreath remembers daydreaming during class while gazing out the giant windows that overlook what is now the FISH Preserve. Retired commercial fisherman Blue Fulford has a memory of being whipped at school, then again at home, for walking through a puddle with his shoes on. “Everybody’s daddy had the right to whip you,” recalled

The official centennial ceremony for the schoolhouse will be on April 14, at the 21st Annual Cortez Community Picnic from 1 to 4 p.m., but special events begin next week, as the month of March is celebrated as Manatee County Heritage Days. Events include classes on victory gardening, strawberry shortcake making and strawberry needlework crafts, a guided walking photo tour of the Cortez waterfront and the monthly Music on the Porch live jam session. The Lifelong Learning Academy will present a six-week class on the maritime history of Cortez on Mondays from March 12 through April 16 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the museum, with topics including the history of Cortez, commercial fishing, boatbuilding and archeology. The museum also features permanent maritime exhibits and rotating maritime art exhibits. The Cortez Village Historical Society is looking for people who attended the Cortez Rural Graded School, later Cortez Elementary School, with a goal of locating every student and recording his/her memories. Please write Sam Bell, P.O. Box 663, Cortez, FL 34215 or e-mail CVHS@Cortezvillage.org. For more information on classes and events, visit www. manateeclerk.com/historical/MaritimeMuseum.aspx or call 941-708-6121.

cortez: Historic buildings at museum complex FROM PAGE 26

Monroe Cottage

The 66-year-old Monroe cottage, once at 304 Church St. in Bradenton Beach, was moved across the Cortez bridge to the FISH Preserve in 2011. CVHS plans to renovate the cottage and create the Cortez Family Life Museum, which will feature household objects, birth and death records, photographs and videotaped memories of Cortez residents.

Wilkerson house

On the northern border of the FISH Preserve is a house restored as a boat shop, where volunteer boatbuilders make wooden boats mostly by hand on commission, with proceeds to FISH.

Harris house

John Banyas, owner of N.E. Taylor Boat Works, donated the 92-year-old Harris house, once at 4521 120th St. W. in Cortez, to FISH last year. It was relocated to the FISH Preserve and is used for storage.

Fishermen’s Hall

The former Church of God, 4511 124th St. W., has been renamed Fishermen’s Hall by FISH, which is renovating the historic one-room building as an event venue. It serves as a meeting place for the FISH board of directors. Rev. Kenneth Gill, former pastor of Longboat Island Chapel, asked earlier this month to rent the building on Sundays for church services.

Cortez Community Center

A former volunteer fire station, the community center is used as a shop for volunteer boat builders and as a meeting room and classroom for the Turner Maritime Challenge Program, a youth program established with a bequest from Jay K. Turner. The program is currently suspended while its curriculum is being revised.

Fishermen’s memorial

In front of Star Fish Co., on the west side of the village, is the fishermen’s memorial, honoring Cortez commercial fishermen lost at sea: Don Akins, Joey

Clavier, William “Billy” Elliott, Paul Kight, Kevin Kurtice, Frank Lilquist, Michael “Bugsy” Moran, Dale “Murph” Murphy, Mark Rankin, Bobby Thompson, Lynn L. Tupin, Frank “Billy” Tyne Jr., Warren “Bud” Wilson and Craig “Dutch” Lutz. On a nearby plaque, Cortez veterans lost during wartime are remembered: James C. Coarsey, Leroy R. Wilson, Warren A. Bell, James M. Campbell and William H. Posey.

a fighter and drinker whose wife, Bessie, broke him out of the jail with an axe one night, afraid he would freeze, Green said. To her credit, she had first asked permission to take him home and return him the next day, but was refused. The next morning, she delivered him back to the jail, as promised. Like the 1912 schoolhouse, it was built 100 years ago this year, six months after Cortez was incorporated.

Net camp

A historic net camp has been preserved on stilts in Sarasota Bay just offshore of the Cortez docks, where fishermen once spread cotton nets out to dry. The invention of monofilament nets made the practice obsolete.

Jail

Privately owned, the one-room Cortez jail is made of tabby, a mixture of lime and shells, and remains on its original site at 4415 124th St. Court. The only person ever to be officially incarcerated in the jail, was Jap Thigpen,

cindy lane | Sun

A net camp stands on stilts off Cortez.


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FEBRUARY 22, 2012

THE SUN

27

Cortez schoolhouse centennial begins Mark Taylor, who attended the school, as did his father. When Taylor was a student, the schoolhouse was used as an auditorium and the classes were in World War II-style barracks. He recalled boys setting the nearby palmetto bushes on fire to chase the rattlesnakes out, then shooting the rattlesnakes with shotguns so they could play baseball in the schoolyard. Green recalled classmates finding something else in the palmetto bushes – a load of moonshine. “It was kind of a tough place to grow up, but it was a wonderful place to grow up,” Taylor said. “You can’t take away those memories.”

By Cindy Lane Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

CORTEZ – This year marks the 100th birthday of the red brick 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School, which is now the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. The school operated until 1961, when it was leased to an art school. Artist Robert Sailors bought the building in 1974 for his home and studio. With help from the Cortez Village Historical Society, Manatee County purchased the property in 1999, restored the building and opened it in 2006 as a museum. It has always been at the heart of the community, the site of fish fries, musical events, fishermen’s union meetings, local elections, even a contentious meeting last year on what to do about coyotes preying on village pets. On Oct. 25, 1921, it saved villagers from a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mile-per-hour winds. Doris Green was 6 years old when the storm hit. She recalled in her book, “Fog’s Comin’ In,” that she saw houses and boats floating by their Cortez home, which had been the village’s first 1895 one-room schoolhouse, now a residence at 12016 45th Ave. W. The family piled into a skiff just before their house floated off its pine pier foundation and made it to the schoolhouse, where several neighbors were docked. When the storm was over, nothing was left on the Cortez waterfront but pilings and the Albion Inn, part of which has been relocated to the schoolhouse museum complex. To this day, villagers hold the schoolhouse to be the safest place to ride out a storm.

School days

Other Cortez natives who attended the school also have vivid memories. “My first-grade class at Cortez Elementary School was small, five boys and one girl,” said Sam Bell, president of the Cortez Village Historical Society. “Our teacher was Miss Mae McCloud. Weather permitting, every Wednesday after

Heritage Days

cindy lane | Sun

The 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School was restored and opened in 2006 as the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. school, she would load us in her little 1935 Chevy coupe with a rumble seat. She would drive us over the old wooden bridge to the drug store in Bradenton Beach and buy each of us a nickel ice cream cone. They don't make 'em like that anymore. God bless her.” Musician Richard Culbreath remembers daydreaming during class while gazing out the giant windows that overlook what is now the FISH Preserve. Retired commercial fisherman Blue Fulford has a memory of being whipped at school, then again at home, for walking through a puddle with his shoes on. “Everybody’s daddy had the right to whip you,” recalled

The official centennial ceremony for the schoolhouse will be on April 14, at the 21st Annual Cortez Community Picnic from 1 to 4 p.m., but special events begin next week, as the month of March is celebrated as Manatee County Heritage Days. Events include classes on victory gardening, strawberry shortcake making and strawberry needlework crafts, a guided walking photo tour of the Cortez waterfront and the monthly Music on the Porch live jam session. The Lifelong Learning Academy will present a six-week class on the maritime history of Cortez on Mondays from March 12 through April 16 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the museum, with topics including the history of Cortez, commercial fishing, boatbuilding and archeology. The museum also features permanent maritime exhibits and rotating maritime art exhibits. The Cortez Village Historical Society is looking for people who attended the Cortez Rural Graded School, later Cortez Elementary School, with a goal of locating every student and recording his/her memories. Please write Sam Bell, P.O. Box 663, Cortez, FL 34215 or e-mail CVHS@Cortezvillage.org. For more information on classes and events, visit www. manateeclerk.com/historical/MaritimeMuseum.aspx or call 941-708-6121.

cortez: Historic buildings at museum complex FROM PAGE 26

Monroe Cottage

The 66-year-old Monroe cottage, once at 304 Church St. in Bradenton Beach, was moved across the Cortez bridge to the FISH Preserve in 2011. CVHS plans to renovate the cottage and create the Cortez Family Life Museum, which will feature household objects, birth and death records, photographs and videotaped memories of Cortez residents.

Wilkerson house

On the northern border of the FISH Preserve is a house restored as a boat shop, where volunteer boatbuilders make wooden boats mostly by hand on commission, with proceeds to FISH.

Harris house

John Banyas, owner of N.E. Taylor Boat Works, donated the 92-year-old Harris house, once at 4521 120th St. W. in Cortez, to FISH last year. It was relocated to the FISH Preserve and is used for storage.

Fishermen’s Hall

The former Church of God, 4511 124th St. W., has been renamed Fishermen’s Hall by FISH, which is renovating the historic one-room building as an event venue. It serves as a meeting place for the FISH board of directors. Rev. Kenneth Gill, former pastor of Longboat Island Chapel, asked earlier this month to rent the building on Sundays for church services.

Cortez Community Center

A former volunteer fire station, the community center is used as a shop for volunteer boat builders and as a meeting room and classroom for the Turner Maritime Challenge Program, a youth program established with a bequest from Jay K. Turner. The program is currently suspended while its curriculum is being revised.

Fishermen’s memorial

In front of Star Fish Co., on the west side of the village, is the fishermen’s memorial, honoring Cortez commercial fishermen lost at sea: Don Akins, Joey

Clavier, William “Billy” Elliott, Paul Kight, Kevin Kurtice, Frank Lilquist, Michael “Bugsy” Moran, Dale “Murph” Murphy, Mark Rankin, Bobby Thompson, Lynn L. Tupin, Frank “Billy” Tyne Jr., Warren “Bud” Wilson and Craig “Dutch” Lutz. On a nearby plaque, Cortez veterans lost during wartime are remembered: James C. Coarsey, Leroy R. Wilson, Warren A. Bell, James M. Campbell and William H. Posey.

a fighter and drinker whose wife, Bessie, broke him out of the jail with an axe one night, afraid he would freeze, Green said. To her credit, she had first asked permission to take him home and return him the next day, but was refused. The next morning, she delivered him back to the jail, as promised. Like the 1912 schoolhouse, it was built 100 years ago this year, six months after Cortez was incorporated.

Net camp

A historic net camp has been preserved on stilts in Sarasota Bay just offshore of the Cortez docks, where fishermen once spread cotton nets out to dry. The invention of monofilament nets made the practice obsolete.

Jail

Privately owned, the one-room Cortez jail is made of tabby, a mixture of lime and shells, and remains on its original site at 4415 124th St. Court. The only person ever to be officially incarcerated in the jail, was Jap Thigpen,

cindy lane | Sun

A net camp stands on stilts off Cortez.


FREE 

VOL 12 No. 19

Fathers & Daughters

February 22, 2012

MARTY MORROW | sun

On a magical evening at Anna Maria Elementary School, dads and their little girls got to dance the night away. Page 13

Festival’s 30th a smash

Board to decide where to allow cell towers

BY CINDY LANE

BY PAT COPELAND

Sun Staff Writer | clane@amisun.com

SUN STAFF WRITER | pcopeland@amisun.com

ANNA MARIA – During a discussion of a new cell tower ordinance, commissioners said they want to hear from the public on where a cell tower should be allowed in the city. According to the draft ordinance, they are only allowed on government property or in areas zoned for commercial or industrial development. But because of other restrictions, City Attorney Jim Dye said the only location that meets all the requirements is

The 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival drew record crowds – more than 20,000 people – to the historic fishing village last weekend to enjoy seafood, fish stories, arts and crafts, live music and displays at the Florida Maritime Museum. Proceeds from the festival are used

SEE tower, PAGE 15

SEE FESTIVAL, PAGE 12

INSIDE NEWS OPINION Sun survey BUSINESS town crier OBITUARIES REAL ESTATE CLASSIFIEDS

4 6 7 14 21 23 34-39 44-47

CORTEZ at 100: Times are changing for the village, which tries to adapt to new ways. 24-27

Anna Maria Island, Florida

The Island’s award-winning weekly newspaper

CINDY LANE | sun

Festival-goers look over the tasty seafood at this year’s Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival as the figurehead on the Privateer’s ship seems to take in all the great aromas.

JAZZFEST

PACKS THE HOUSE 9 Fantastic finish for Flag Football. 40 www.amisun.com


12

www.amisun.com

THE SUN

FEBRUARY 22, 2012

FESTIVAL : 30th sets records FROM PAGE 1

to enlarge and restore the 95-acre FISH Preserve on the Cortez waterfront. The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) recognized these partners during the festival with awards: Partnership Award: Sara Kane, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program; Business Partnership Award: Diane Rosensweig, Sheda Ecology Associates; Volunteer Service Award: Bill and Meriam Baum, Marshall Fisher, Mark Caputo, Don Beavis and friends from Holiday Cove; Longevity Award: John Videodisc.

CINDY LANE | SUN

Above, yellow rice and shrimp were among the seafood offerings at the festival last weekend. At left, festivalgoers enjoyed the music of soulRcoaster as they sampled fresh, local seafood.

CINDY LANE | SUN

Sarah Collins, winner of the 2012 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival art contest, signs a poster of her work, which appears on the festival T-shirt.

A Century of Cortez  

Community History #25

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