Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Growing up in Venice(pt 2), The Alston years1954-57(originally posted in 2008)

Back in April of 2008 I posted a week or so's worth of blogs looking back at my early childhood growing up in Venice, Florida...today I will continue to re-post that look back:

Amazing that we got our game in at Delphos yesterday, WOSN TV out of Lima broadcast the contest, and the Jefferson Wildcat Field drained nicely....more big storms on the way, and Garry and I are supposed to head north to Hicksville for a GMC game, that remains to be seen if we will get it in, I am making no predictions except to say things look "iffy" at best.

Back Later>>>>

The cool front blew through McGuffey about 6 O'Clock yesterday, right in the middle of our game(Sam and I), between USV and Fairbanks....a bolt of lightning put a halt in the 4th inning for the mandatory 30 minute wait...then we get started, finished the 5th, with Fairbanks up 14-5, we called the game due to darkness. The clouds had poured in, and the skies opened up....we were done, the game was official...and we made the 55 mile trip home.....watched my Flyers get outplayed by Montreal, but still come away with a 3-2 win and a 2-1 lead in the best of 7 series...I think Philly was out shot 34-12 but still pulled it out, after almost blowing a 3-nothing lead. Tonight we head for Spencerville again, for some reason the week works out with Sam and I have 4 games in a row together, I don't believe that has ever happend until now.

The temps will hover around 50 for the next couple of days, with a freeze warning out for tonight....28 for a low, is what they are saying.
Venice, Florida 1954-1957
The Alston Cottage Years

As I wrote yesterday, in the summer of 1954, when I was 5, the family pulled up stakes in Ohio, and headed for southwest Florida. We ended up in the unincorporated area called South Venice, about 4 miles south of the small beach town of Venice. Along with our cousins, the Polings, we rented small houses(more like Army huts) at a place called Alston Cottages...dad went to work for Venice Redi-Mix, and mom would stay home until the youngest Marty(one more daughter would come much later in 1962), headed off to school, then mom would return to the work force. I guess you could call us lower middle class, or even poor, Hell, if we were, we didn't care or know. We had food and a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, and a year around warm vacation spot to live in.

Brother Mike was enrolled 3rd grade at Venice Elementary that school year of 1954-55....even though I was Kinder Garden age, it wasn't madatory, and I got to stay home and live the adventure...take a look at yesterday's photo of Alston's, and you could see I had plenty of places for adventure...US 41 was located on the west side, but east and north I had plenty of places to roam....and I did....usually managed to get my ass swatted on occasion...once for playing in the roadside ditch and letting Marty(who was maybe 3 at the time), hang out with me...dangerous stuff.

In addition to the Polings, we had some southern neighbors, who had migrated to Florida from Georgia, their names were the Ellis family....the oldest boy was Billy, he had a year on Mike, and thus about 4 years on me. Billy and Mike had built a Club House(a wooden fire hazard of a shack in reality) at ground level in the marsh like area in back of the Park....my memory is pretty clear on this, we had come home from our usual weekend shopping trip to Sarasota, Mike and I met up with Billy at the CH......the floor was covered with blankets and we used an extension cord with a small light hooked up to light the dingy, dark, small space, which was barley big enough for the 3 of us....we had just settled in, when I heard Billy gasp, he grabbed one of the forked sticks we kept in the place and said "Snake!", Billy was about 10 at the time and compared to the Houseworth boys was wise in the way of the world...when he grabbed the stick he knocked the single light out, and we were in complete darkness....somebody(Mike?) grabbed another stick and pushed our crude door open....Billy had the large snake held down with the fork end...I scrambled out, with brother right behind....Billy kept the snake down and circled out.

Dad and Mr Ellis came a running, and the old man dispatched our snake, with a quick shot to the head....turns out it was a 7 foot diamond back rattlesnake....we were some lucky boys. That, it turns out was the end of our "Club House"....the dad's pushed it over and set it on fire.....and all that was left was the memory...which is still pretty vivid for me some 52 or so years later.

I entered first grade at Venice Elementary School in the fall of 1955 at the ripe young age of 6...Mrs Brown was my first grade teacher, and I remember her as a short elderly lady(must have been at least 50..lol), Ms Stutz was my teacher in 2nd grade, I remember 3 things about her, she was attractive(I even noticed those things at 7 years old), she got married during that year in school, and she wasn't afraid to use the paddle...I think I got my butt whipped at least a dozen or more time during the 56-57 school year....must have been that big mouth of mine, it got me into trouble on more than one occasion of the decades.

All-in-all, those years at Alston's were more highlighted by what we did than on what we didn't have.....despite the Rattlesnake adventure, I would go out and catch birds, gopher turtles, black racer snakes, and keep them for "pets" for a few days at a time before releasing them....Mike and I even managed to rob a couple of baby gators from the swamp(the whole area was swamp and sand back then)....those little buggers didn't stay out back long....we kept them in a barrel until their teeth, like razors, became a hazard in themselves, and dad or mom made us release them.....all-in-all, my years in South Venice were interesting for anybody, let alone a kid from Ohio....we would move on to another outdoor adventure area, known as the Venice By-Way in 1957.....fish, snakes, coonhounds, the Blackburn brothers, and even an encounter with an albino Wild Bore would await....

That story next>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


photos----PRH in 1st Grade at Venice Elementary in 1955-56, Mike and me showing off our string bow and hunting knives at the Manasota Beach....I was not yet 7 and Mike was 9...how politically incorrect is that?, Me, with another fish photo, this one a snook I caught, probably off the Manasota Bridge, Me, PRH, with a studio outdoor mug shot, mom must have paid what we considered a fortune back in 1956 for this one and others...and finally Marty, Mom, and Dad, at Myakka River State Park near Sarasota.


Buck said...

That "studio" photo is simply period-perfect, Pat. And I doubt your hair was EVER that neat before or after the sitting! ;-)

You guys were VERY lucky, indeed, where that snake is concerned...

pat houseworth said...

You got that right buck...my hair only was "neat" during that photo shoot, and when I discovered the buzz cut in 6th grade. :0

That snake story is one of many....Florida was indeed a wild place to grow up in back in the day.

Lin said...

Wooo ... I can see why dad torched the CH after that snake run-in! Luckily, I've only run into one rattler out here so far and it was cold enough out that he wasn't too interested in coming after me (which gave me time to go get the camera and take a photo, too).

Ron Simpson said...

My dad grew up in Mobile, Alabama about that time. He has lots of stories just like yours. On of my favorites involves a razorback pig that treed him in a bush. Grandpa dispatched him to pig heaven with a 9mm Luger he catpured off of a dead German officer in WW2. Granpa was Airborne and during D-Day jumped and landed in Saint Mere-Eglise. He fought his way out and managed to hook up with US forces. He caried that Luger all through the war, scavenging bullets whenever he could.
Later, Grandpa told me that the only time after the war he ever shot it was to kill that boar.

Anonymous said...

I detest snakes and Florida used to have some big ones. My grandpa had a cabin on the little lake out at Istachatta. We saw a rattlesnake so long it nearly stretched from one side of the one lane dirt road to the other, no joke.

Sarge Charlie said...

Your snake story reminds me of the time I was picking peas on the Old Morrison Place in Floyd County Georgia, circa 1948, bare footed of course and stepped on a rattler, fortunately my foot was close enough to his head that he could not bite, my first step would have been about 10 feet and there was nothing but dust following me out of that pea patch.

I love your old photos, oh, the car looks like a 50/51 Nash or Hudson, not sure from the left front finder.

pat houseworth said...

Sarge: Funny about the Car, because dad owned both a 51 Hudson and a Nash Rambler back then...I think this was the Nash....I remember when we drove to Florida, we had a solid black 1949 Buick.

Hermit....I've got some other "snake" stories, me and thise damn things made a habit of running into each other back in those days.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Man, that reminds me of so many run ins with snakes, usually harmless ones, while I lived in Missouri. Hilarious memories now. Lots of fun times. Love the pictures, as usual.