Sunday Favorites: The Storm that Crushed Cortez

Published Sunday, August 10, 2014 12:05 am

by Merab-Michal Favorite

The Albion Inn of Cortez as it looked before the hurricane of 1921.

It came without warning. At least, that’s how folks in Cortez remember it. Back in 1921, there was only one telephone in the village.

The western skyline was already black by the time it rang. The loud drone of the telephone startled Mr. Brown, who owned the village’s only general store. When he picked up the receiver someone from Western Union relayed pertinent information.

“A hurricane is headed your way,” they said.

But by then, it was too late.

Bill Guthrie’s family owned the Albion Inn.

Guthrie had been through storms before, but nothing like the storm of 1921.

“Usually the tide would come over and we’d wade around here in knee deep water,” he said during a 1957 interview with the Manatee County Historical Society.

The Albion Inn as it looked following the hurricane of 1921.

There were no preparations made: no windows boarded up, no supplies collected.

It had stormed all night and the tides and rain flooded Cortez.

The next morning, when folks woke up to find water in their homes, they decided to abandon their small village and head to Bradenton.

“You see, it taken quite a time for the seas to beat these buildings down,” Guthrie said.

Doris Green was only six years old at the time, but she remembers the tide lifting her home from its foundation and carrying it away.

“It just floated off like a big ol’ wooden box,” she said during the interview. “The tide just set it down further out.”

Doris remembers seeing other houses float out to sea before her eyes.

The hurricane of 1921 destroyed all the fishing docks in Cortez Fishing Village.

Cortez was a fishing community. Many of the fisherman at that time lived in fish camps, or shacks on stilts over the water surrounded by docks and net spreads were they could dry their nets and catches at the end of the day. The hurricane destroyed the majority of these fishing operations, along with many of the offshore vessels used by the fishermen.

Guthrie knew he had to get his family out, but the only way to escape the rising tides was by boat.

Guthrie, three women, the dog and a baby loaded into a small boat and head into Bradenton. They made it as far as Paradise Trailer Park, 10315 Cortez Road, before trying to call for help.

The heavy winds had ripped down the power lines, so calling for help was impossible.

Guthrie threw his 2-year-old daughter, Margarite, over his shoulder and started walking. His wife and kids followed behind, Guthrie’s body shielding them from the pelting rain.

Through the stormy gusts Guthrie could see something coming toward them, a car. An unknown man from Bradenton had come to the rescue. Guthrie and his family loaded into the vehicle and headed to the Bradenton Hotel on Main Street.

There was no room for Guthrie, so he left his family and went to another hotel to seek shelter.

A family sorts through the wreckage of their former home, destroyed by the hurricane.

The man and his family returned to Cortez the next day to view the destruction.

“It was a sorry sight,” he remembered. “The whole hotel was gone. There was nothing left but pilings and boats piled up on top of each other.”

The whole waterfront was gone, but inland homes remained. Guthrie says the southeastern winds were the reason the waterfront was destroyed.

But people gathered their belongings from the wreckage along the shoreline and started over.

Published in: on August 10, 2014 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Long Bar Pointe developers look to reverse 2013 denial


cschelle 6, 2014

MANATEE — The developers of Long Bar Pointe are using a technical maneuver to reverse a 2013 decision by the Manatee County Commission that effectively killed their waterfront vision.

Long Bar Pointe, a project by Medallion Home President Carlos Beruff and Barrington Group’s Larry Lieberman, hired eminent domain expert attorney S. William Moore to serve the county with a Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act claim.

The claim comes right before the one-year anniversary of the marathon Long Bar Pointe public hearing at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, where more than 1,000 people starting showing up at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 6, 2013, to voice support and wave their hands against two comprehensive plan amendments. The meeting stopped just before 2 a.m. Aug. 7.

The amendments, one a text amendment and another a map amendment, sought permission to go to state land planning officials for review.

Moore is out of the office this week preparing for a trial and could not be reached for comment. Moore wrote to the commissioners in his Aug. 1 claim that the decision caused a property loss of $18 million in fair market value.

"On the face of the above-listed Comprehensive Plan Policies, the landowners-applicant is clearly denied its common law riparian rights, historically associated with coastal lands in private ownership," Moore wrote.

If the county does not agree to begin the process to reconsider, Long Bar’s developers are asking for a formal settlement offer from the county.

County Attorney Mickey Palmer and Assistant County Attorney Bill Clague are in the process of forming a response to the claim, and said they must first talk to the commissioners about the case before commenting.

In a letter to the commissioners sent Monday afternoon, Palmer said his office "will vigorously defend the decision of the Board in this matter."

"Since the Act allows the owners/developers to file a lawsuit in the Circuit Court, we advise Commissioners to refrain from discussing the matter with anyone unless accompanied by an attorney from this office," Palmer wrote. "We have made a similar recommendation to County staff within the Building & Development Services Department."

This is not Moore’s first case against Manatee County. Moore’s work includes representing Beruff on a land use case celebrated by local developers, in which he got Manatee County to pay Beruff $62,000 in impact fee credits plus $250,000 in legal fees concerning taking of a right-of-way land in Parrish.

Change of plans

What Long Bar Pointe could look like has changed since last year’s hearing.

Appraisals performed on the property for the claim only include rights for 100,000 square feet of commercial space, 3,520 homes built on 18 twin-tower pad sites and a 260-slip marina and channel. The hotel, conference center, office space and single-family homes were deleted.

The statute requires an appraisal to be attached to the claim because the act allows government bodies to buy the land from the developer, or to use the assessments in reaching a settlement.

One of the appraisals, submitted by Bass & Associates of Sarasota, is for 528 acres, including 255 acres of uplands and 273 acres of wetlands or submerged lands doing an appraisal of the land "as if" that allows for 3,520 homes/condos and 100,000 square feet of commercial space. That appraisal shows a value of $49.9 million to $81.4 million. The other appraisal adds a channel and a 260-slip marina, and places the value at $66.4 million to $108.7 million.

Long Bar Pointe, which never filed a formal site plan with the county, wanted land use changes last year to allow up to 300 berths in a marina carved out of the land and adjacent mangroves, accessing Sarasota Bay via a channel 2,100 feet long, 45 to 60 feet wide and up to 5 feet deep. Unlike most properties in Florida, the Long Bar Pointe developers own 117 acres of submerged land abutting its property.

The text amendment, which covered 463 acres, would have affected the comprehensive plan’s coastal and conservation elements that limit development in environmentally sensitive areas to mixed-use projects on lands 200 acres or more next to arterial roads, along a coastal line and navigable waters.

In last year’s 13-hour hearing, county staff explained that the wording was vague and would have affected 42 properties in Manatee County spanning from Cortez Key east to Duette.

The map amendment was approved for transmittal, but Long Bar Pointe developers withdrew an appeal request. The developer would have to reapply to have the map amendment considered.

Hashing through Harris

The Harris Act is a complicated state measure that allows a landowner to tell a local or state body that it placed an inordinate burden on the landowner by restricting what can be done on the property.

In Long Bar Pointe’s case, it’s a matter of being able to access the water for commercial use, according to an attorney familiar with the case. The decision last summer essentially had the county deny creating a channel to access the land’s potential for waterfront retail and a marina and hotel.

The notice of claim is the first step asking the county to fix the alleged wrongdoing, and the claim has to be made within one year of the alleged conduct.

Next steps

Once the claim is filed, the county has three months, or 150 days, to correct or consider correcting the claim. Of that, there are 11 ways provided by the act to respond, though all may not apply to this case:

1. Adjust land development, permit standards or other provisions controlling the use of land.

2. Increase or modify density, intensity or use of areas of development.

3. Transfer development rights.

4. Offer a land swap or exchange.

5. Offer mitigation including payments in lieu of onsite mitigation.

6. Location on least sensitive portion of property.

7. Condition the amount of development or use permitted.

8. Require issues to be addressed on a more comprehensive basis instead of a single proposed use or development.

9. Issue development order, variance, special exception or other extraordinary relief.

10. Purchase real property or an interest as compensation.

11. Make no change.

The commission could agree to reverse its decision to allow stage planning officials to review the amendment, preventing a lawsuit.

That could still lead to other moves, though, as a map amendment was requested and developers sought permission to apply for permits from other agencies to construct various components of Long Bar Pointe. Mediation and arbitration could come into play as part of the process, according to the act.

Failing all of that, the two sides could meet in court.

Published in: on August 6, 2014 at 7:51 am  Leave a Comment  

New Exhibits and Events at FMM

Florida Maritime Museum: History * Education * Community
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Please note that the Florida Maritime Museum will be CLOSED to the public from Sunday, August 17th through Monday, August 25th. FMM will resume it’s regular business hours (Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm) on Tuesday, August 26th.

Check out the Featured Performers for This Year’s Boatyard Bash!

The second annual Boatyard Bash will have live music from local bands like:

2:00 – 3:30 The Wire Beaters
4:00 – 5:30 Ted Stevens and the Doo Shots
6:00 – 7:45 Rose Island Band playing along with an outdoor screening of a classic "Creature Feature"

If you or someone you know is interested in showcasing a home-built boat, vending, or volunteering at the 2014 Boatyard Bash; just let us know. There are still spots available. For more information call (941) 708-6120.

Interested in Traditional Kayak and
Canoe Paddle Making?

FMM is offering two-day course (October 24th – 25th) as an introduction to traditional one-piece carved paddles. After learning about various materials and how to size your paddles to suit your individual needs, you will cut out and begin to shape your own. Leave with the knowledge and confidence to finish your paddle on your own, and the skills to make many more.

Registration for this class CLOSES on
Friday, September 26th
For more info, click HERE!

And make sure to check out the rest of for full descriptions of all upcoming classes, events and lectures at FMM, or like us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things FMM! Check out maritime trivia, cool historic photos, and get notified of important events.

Sea Monster Sprouts Family Day

You’re invited to visit FMM on Saturday, October 11th from 2:00 – 5:00 pm for a day of fun sea monster activities in conjunction with the featured Maritime Mythologies: Creatures of the Deep exhibit and our monthly Music on the Porch jam session. Admission is free, donations are requested for select activities, and RSVPs are much appreciated.

For more fun activities and learning opportunities, check out the new Printables section on the FMM website. Print out a sea monster coloring book, or learn about creatures from around the world in our Sea Monsters of the Seven Seas Word Search and descriptions.

Discover Local and State History

Pick up a copy of the Bradenton Herald on Tuesday, August 12th for another article by FMM staff in the weekly "Manatee History Matters" column! This edition will focus on the history of Blockade Running in Florida, but you can see past editions on other topics, written by members of Manatee County’s Historical Resources department HERE.

You can also visit to peruse FMM’s complete collection of educational articles. Just look under the LEARN tab!

Community Bulletin:
We want to hear what you’re up to! Send short listings that you’d like to see in this newsletter and we’ll do our best to spread the word. (No guarantees, though, as space is limited.) Please include pertinent dates and contact information. Email Halee.

Saturday at Lake Tarpon:
Anderson Park (39699 U.S. HWY 19 N, Tarpon Springs)

  • Saturday, August 16th (9:30 am)
    Spend a day on the water at Lake Tarpon with the West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron! Launch fee from the Andrerson Park Ramp is just $6. Weather permitting.

Mark Your Calendars:
Sarasota Bay Water Festival:
Ken Thompson Park
(1700 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota)

  • Saturday, November 1st (10:00 am)
    Celebrate the importance of the Sarasota Bay and make sure to stop in and visit us at the FMM booth.
The Florida Maritime Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

119th Street West, Cortez, FL 34215
(941) 708-6120

Admission is FREE!

What’s going on this month?
Saturday, August 9th
(2:00 – 5:00 pm)

This fun and FREE event is held on the second Saturday of each month. The jam session begins at 2 pm and continues until 5 pm. Come enjoy the music, or bring an instrument and make some of your own!

Please keep in mind that musician participation will vary. This is a jam session, so music is not guaranteed.

Saturday, August 2nd
(2:00 pm)

Lecture on Blockade Runners and Civil War Privateers at the Central Library

1301 Barcarrota Blvd W, Bradenton, FL 34205

Published in: on August 2, 2014 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mark D. Mora

Mark D. Mora, 56, lifelong resident of Bradenton, died July 16, 2014.

Predeceased by his father; Albert, Jr.. Survived by mother; Judy Mora of Bradenton, FL, son; Ryan Mora of TX, two daughters; Calli Higgins of Orlando, FL, Kyla Mora of TX, two brothers; Scott of Cortez, FL, Tracy (Becky) of Bradenton, FL four grandchildren.

Visitation will be 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. with the service to follow at 7:00 P.M. Friday, July 25, 2014. Memorial donations may be made to H. Lee Moffitt Research, 12902 Magnolia Dr, Tampa, FL 33612. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory, 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street West Bradenton, FL 34209 in charge of arrangement.

Published in: on July 20, 2014 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Net Ban Ruling

The Florida District Court of Appeal released their order today, ruling against Fishermen.

You can read the order using the link below.

Published in: on July 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy 4th of July from FMM!

Florida Maritime Museum: History * Education * Community
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Wishing you a Happy 4th of July!

FMM will be CLOSED the 4th and 5th of July to celebrate Independence Day. The museum will resume its regular business hours (Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm) on Tuesday, July 8th.

Seeking Boats, Vendors and Volunteers for Boatyard Bash

The second annual Boatyard Bash is scheduled for Saturday, November 15th. It promises to be a fun, family friendly day with live music, arts & craft vendors, and a Classic Creature Feature out under the stars.

It is also a great time to showcase that home-built boat you worked so hard on! In an effort to generate interest and confidence in boatbuilding FMM invites local boat builders to display boats up to 18 feet long and made from any material. Contact John Beale for more info (941) 708-6120.

FMM is still accepting vendor applications and inquiries! If you or someone you know is interested in vending please contact Amara Nash or call (941) 708-6121.

You can also help make Boatyard Bash a success by volunteering. If you’re interested in overseeing children’s activities, staffing our information booth or contributing in another way, just let us know! For more information call (941) 708-6120

Discover Local and State History

Check the paper on Tuesday, July 8th for another article by FMM staff in the Bradenton Herald’s weekly "Manatee History Matters" column! You can see past editions written by members of Manatee County’s Historical Resources department HERE.

You can also visit to peruse FMM’s complete collection of educational articles, including "the Captain’s Desk," a brief history of some of Florida’s most notable captains.

Program and Class Schedules are now Available Online!

Visit to see full listings and event descriptions for FMM’s

Community Bulletin:
We want to hear what you’re up to! Send short listings that you’d like to see in this newsletter and we’ll do our best to spread the word. (No guarantees, though, as space is limited.) Please include pertinent dates and contact information. Email Amara

Saturday at Lake Seminole:
Seminole Park (Park Boulevard, Seminole)

Book Talk, Signing & Reception with Cathy Slusser:
Manatee Village Historical Park (1404 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton)

  • Monday, July 14 (6:15)

Snooty’s 66th Birthday:
South Florida Museum (201 10th St W, Bradenton)

  • Saturday, July 19
The Florida Maritime Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

119th Street West, Cortez, FL 34215
(941) 708-6120

Admission is FREE!

What’s going on this month?
Saturday, July 12th
(2:00 – 5:00 pm)

This fun and FREE event is held on the second Saturday of each month. The jam session begins at 2 pm and continues until 5 pm. Come enjoy the music, or bring an instrument and make some of your own!

Please keep in mind that musician participation will vary. This is a jam session, so music is not guaranteed.

Friday, July 25th
(11:00 am)

Join us for an encore of John Beale’s Lecture on Smuggling. Seating is limited, so please contact Halee via e-mail or call (941) 708-6120 to reserve a spot!

Doing some shopping? AmazonSmile lets you donate a percentage of your purchase price to charitable organizations like the Florida Maritime Museum.

CLICK HERE to use AmazonSmile! Just make sure the top of the page reads, “Supporting: Friends of the Florida Maritime Museum.

FMM Membership:
Join Now
FMM now offers great membership opportunities. As a member of NARM (North American Reciprocal Museums) Captain Level members and above receive reciprocal benefits with over 600 institutions nation wide.

Be a part of the community that supports your local history.

CLICK HERE to see full list of NARM affiliated institutions.

FMM Affiliations:


Amara Nash, Supervisor
(941) 708-6121

John Beale, Education and Volunteer Coordinator
(941) 708-6120

Krystin Van Leuven, Curator
(941) 708-6120

Halee Turner, Assistant
(941) 708-6120

Copyright ©2013 Florida Maritime Museum, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 100, Cortez FL 34215


Published in: on July 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Manatee History Matters: The Cortez Grand Ole Opry


June 3, 2014

The Culbreath family. PHOTO PROVIDED

On Sundays, the small fishing village of Cortez was divided almost down the middle. Half would attend service at one of the two community churches, the other half would gather at the "Cortez Grand Ole Opry."

The Culbreath family home earned this moniker over time as a result of the musical traditions passed down over generations. The white two-story house stood as monument to its rich history until it was torn down in the mid-1980s.

James Charles "Dick" Culbreath brought his wife, his fiddle and his nine children to Cortez in 1921. Originally from Hamilton County in north Florida, they moved to Manatee County to farm the fertile shell middens on Perico Island.

Cortez may have never known the musical family had the hurricane of 1921 not transformed their croplands into a salty wasteland. After the storm, Dick traded in his hoe for fishing supplies and adopted the life of a fiddle-playing fisherman.

Almost every member of the family played music: fiddle, guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, fiddlesticks, mouth harp, drums, or all of the above. The promise of music on the weekends helped them through the difficult weeks. Most nights there wasn’t much more than fried mullet for dinner.

They had a dairy cow and made butter and other products for consumption and barter. The chance to play music together or listen to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio made it all OK even if radio signals were intermittent in Cortez.

On one particular occasion, as the radio signals faded in and out, a family friend,

"Grey" Fulford said: "You don’t have to listen to that. You’ve got your own Grand Ole Opry right here."

The name stuck.

When the Culbreath family played together, folks couldn’t help but dance. They called it "shaking a leg," and that is what happened every Sunday. "Dick" Culbreath particularly loved buck dancing (a form of clogging) and his signature move was to jump in the air and click his heels together three times before his feet touched the floor again.

As their reputation grew, people came from Bradenton and surrounding areas to hear them play. Other musicians joined in, too.

One of Culbreath boys, Julian, known as "Goose," is a Florida Folk Heritage Award recipient. He claimed to have learned to play fiddle on a bet (which he obviously won), and played professionally from the time he was 17 until his death in 2003 at age 87.

He was no ordinary fiddler though; he was a "trick" fiddler. His tricks included playing with the fiddle between his knees, then with the bow between his knees, bowing the fiddle with no hair and wrapping the hair around the fiddle and playing that way. He livened up many a square dance and folk festival.

Goose’s nephew, Richard Culbreath, still resides in Cortez and is the last remaining musician lucky enough to have played with the whole family, including his namesake and grandfather, "Dick." Richard learned to play guitar by watching his father, and with help from his Uncle Goose. He gathered the remaining Culbreath musicians together in the 1980s, including Richard’s granddaughter who frequently accompanied them on the spoons, to play for the Commercial Fishing Festivals in Cortez.

They called the band The Cortez Grand Ole Opry and played together, adding and switching musicians as necessary, until 1999.

Richard has memories of the family playing square dances in the schoolhouse that now houses the Florida Maritime Museum, as well as private homes throughout Cortez. While it is a rare treat to see a Culbreath at one of them, the Florida Maritime Museum honors this musical tradition with a monthly "Music on the Porch" jam session. It takes place from 2-5 p.m. the second Saturday of each month. All are welcome and admission is free, so come join in!

Amara C. Nash, supervisor of the Florida Maritime Museum, loves museums, art, music and culture, and splits her time between her two favorite villages: Cortez Fishing Village and Village of the Arts. She can be reached at or 941-708-6121.

Published in: on June 3, 2014 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment  

An Honor Flag for Cortez

From the Tampa Tribune – April 24, 1918


Tampa Tribune April 24, 1918







Published in: on May 22, 2014 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Net ban appeal heard


TALLAHASSEE – Fishermen from in and out of state, including Cortez, held a rally and a prayer vigil on Thursday in Tallahassee before packing a district courtroom for a hearing on the state’s net ban.

The Cortez contingent met with other fishermen, some from as far away as Massachusetts, said Mark Coarsey, president of the Manatee County chapter of Fishing for Freedom, a group affiliated with the plaintiffs in the case, the Wakulla Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Panacea bait shop owner Ronald Fred Crum and mullet fishermen Jonas Porter and Keith Ward.

In 2012, the association sued the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), arguing that its rules enforcing the state constitutional amendment banning gill nets are unconstitutional and violate the equal protection rights of mullet fishermen.

The net ban was approved by Florida voters in 1994 to preserve fish populations and prevent the accidental entrapment of unintended marine life like dolphins, which fisherman insist was uncommon. The ban became effective in 1995, putting commercial fishermen out of work in Cortez and statewide.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford effectively lifted the ban last October when she ruled that the FWC could no longer enforce the net ban because its administrative rules create what she called a “legal absurdity,” prohibiting larger mesh gill nets that let juvenile fish go, while allowing smaller, two-inch stretch mesh nets that catch juvenile fish, which she said defeats the purpose of the ban, to preserve fish populations.

The Florida Attorney General’s office immediately appealed on behalf of the FWC, staying, or temporarily invalidating, the judge’s ruling, putting the net ban back into effect.

Fulford lifted the ban again and the FWC appealed again, staying her second order and putting the ban back into effect yet again.

The plaintiffs requested in vain that the Florida Supreme Court hear the case as a matter of great public importance. The case instead went to a panel of three judges at the First District Court of Appeal, which heard arguments last week.

“We argued the two-inch stretch mesh rule has no rational basis because studies show that it captures undersized fish,” said Mark Mason, co-counsel for the plaintiff.

The Attorney General’s office defended the rule, saying that the case was already decided once before in 2006 by another judge, appealed, and affirmed and should not be tried again, he said.

Plaintiff’s co-counsel Ronald Mowrey argued that the unintended bycatch issue came to light after that case was decided.

The court could take a week or a year to decide the case, Mason said.

Fishermen don’t expect the court to lift the net ban, he said, “But there’s always the possibility.”

Published in: on May 21, 2014 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  

In Cortez, no mail delivery is no problem

Mary Fulford Green, 88, a Cortez native, has been mailing and getting her mail all of her life

at the fishing village’s post office. There is no home delivery of mail there.


A few times a week 88-year-old Mary Green hops in her 2005 Honda and drives three blocks to the post office. She has to. There is no mail delivery to her home.

In fact, no one in the historic fishing village of Cortez — population of roughly 4,000 — receives home mail delivery or has a mail box.

“We like it that way,” Green said.

United States Post Office, Cortez, Florida, 34215, is usually a busy place most mornings. Residents walk or take their cars or ride their golf carts to pick up their mail.

The mail is kept locked up in one of 1,318 small post office boxes residents can access with a key. Until the mid 1990s, the mailboxes had combination locks on them.

It is not unusual for small towns in Florida not to receive home mail delivery, but it is not commonplace either.

Residents say they like it this way for several reasons: it is a way to meet socially, get exercise, check the neighborhood message board on the side the building and retain part of the village’s rich history.

They also don’t want home mailboxes for safety reasons.

“I’ve heard lots of stories and seen people lose checks in mailboxes,” resident Richard Culbreath said. “When you raise that red flag, that’s a telltale sign and people will come in.

“We’ve never had any mailboxes. Whenever there is any talk about bringing them in we always say we don’t want them.”

Culbreath is 80 and walks about a mile most days to the post office on Cortez Road.

“It’s about all I can do,” he said. “Back’s been kind of bothering me lately.”

The post office is in a small strip mall next to a barbershop, restaurant and laundry. Some residents, like former Postmaster Wyman Coarsey, walk up for coffee at the restaurant and then check their mail.

“Sometimes I see people here I wouldn’t see otherwise, so it’s kind of a social thing,” resident Atlas Kight said.

She moved to Cortez in 1961 and believes the current post office has been at its present site since 1960. She worked at the Cortez post office for many years, retiring in 1989.

Keeping history alive

Green — who, at 88, is the oldest woman living in Cortez who was born there — is well-known for her historical knowledge of the village.

The original post office was built in 1895 and was part of what was called “Bratton Store.” That building has been preserved in the village.

Green said a man named Henry Foreman used to carry mail back and forth between Cortez and Bradenton on a one-seat horse buggy.

Green said the post office moved to a fishing dock, but was destroyed by a fierce hurricane in 1921.

It then was moved to a grocery store owned by her uncle, Thomas Fulford, until it was given to an 18-year-old woman named Elizabeth Guthrie, who became the postmaster.

“I think it was remarkable,” Green said. “She was probably the youngest postmaster in Florida, and she was a woman.”

Her parents, Bessie and Joe, ran the post office. They also owned the Albion Inn, which is where the post office was.

It also moved to a house across the street from the hotel for a time before it landed at its current location.

“The post office was very important to us especially during the war,” Green said. “My aunt and uncle had five sons and all of them were in the service.

“We would get a letter from one of them and say, ‘OK, he’s fine. Now which one do we worry about next?’ ”

She remembers attending Florida State College for Women in the 1940s and sometimes receiving several letters a day from back home. Her friends thought she had a lot of boys trying to date her.

“Everyone thought I was some hot chick,” she said.

The letters were really from a boy in Cortez who had a crush on her but she never dated. He kept writing her anyway.

On Friday she was planning on driving her Honda to the post office to drop off a birthday card for her 10-year-old great-grandson.

The Cortez post office has long been part of her history as well as the fishing village’s history.

“And we like to keep our history alive,” she said.

Published in: on May 13, 2014 at 7:44 am  Leave a Comment