By: Mary J. Moses
Robert “Bob” Townsend was a remarkable man. Educated at the Chicago School of Design, Bob would live a life of beauty and creativity. Bob opened a decorating studio in New Haven Connecticut in the early 1950’s. A ball was being held for the Foot Guard near the time of President Eisenhower’s inauguration. Nearly 2,000 people attended, and Bob Townsend would be the one to design and make the ball gown for the Major Commandant’s wife, Sophia Swanson. The Commandant extended an invitation to Bob to attend the ball.
Bob was in attendance that evening, with his cousin on his arm. She wore a gorgeous gown Bob designed and made. Marilyn Swanson, the Major Commandants daughter, was there with her date as well. Somehow, Marilyn and Bob met, one dance led to another, and they ultimately switched dates for the evening. Bob impressed Marilyn’s parents with a beautifully written thank you letter.
Marilyn asked her parents permission to invite “Mr. Townsend” to the Policeman’s Ball. Her parents consented, and two and a half years later on June 26th 1954, they were married. Bob designed and made the dresses for the bride, the matron of honor, four brides maids, as well as gowns for the mother of the bride and mother of the groom.
Their lives were intertwined with fashion shows and decorating, Marilyn attended modeling school and modeled Bob’s designs. He made nearly all of Marilyn’s wardrobe.
A move to California encouraged Bob with his creativity, and he continued decorating and designing. He and Marilyn opened a restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, but the Caribbean was calling.
Bob secured a piece of property on the island of Montserrat, 250 miles South of Puerto Rico. Bob designed and decorated their beautiful Caribbean home. He also decorated the View Point Hotel and it’s cottages. Bob engaged local women in Montserrat in the art of tapestry. Here they created tapestries, totes, and like items.
Bob and Marilyn did a lot of work for the British Red Cross. Fashion shows and teas were some of the things they did best. Now, Winter Haven Florida was calling, from there to Mount Dora, on to Columbus Georgia, and finally, Brooksville Florida.
Bob loved to write, he wrote two short stories, and was working on a book. Soon he met writer Heddie Warner. She, recognizing his talent, encouraged Bob. During Founders Week in Brooksville, Bob designed and created a gown for Heddie to wear in the Founders Day Parade. Later that day, Heddie modeled the wonderful creation on a stage built in front of City Hall. Bob won first place for his design. The fashion show segwayed into an art and craft show being held in City Hall. Here guests were treated to a viewing of Bob’s “Tapestries of Montserrat” collection.
Bob lived an excellent life, he took joy in helping Marilyn at the Brooksville Women’s Club. Here he made the drapes that adorned the windowed for seven years. He decorated a beautiful historic home on Broad Street, was a member of Historic Hernando Preservation Society, as well as Friends of Chinsegut. He stitched, created and wrote with love.
When Bob passed on March 3rd, 2016, he left behind a manuscript he had been working on. It was here the love of his life picked up the pieces and painstakingly typed her precious Bob’s novel. With the help of friend and local author Jerry Cowling, Marilyn was able to get Bob’s beloved work published. The Woffington: Life and Loves of an Actressis a story depicting the life and love of an Irish actress set in the 18th century, was born. Bob’s Book can be purchased on Amazon, or through Kindle.
Historic Hernando Preservation Society honored Bob Townsend’s life at their April meeting. Marilyn arrived to accept the award in one of Bob’s beautiful creations that was indeed, stitched with love.
Michael And Charlotte Goldman: Passion for Pottery
By Mary Moses
You may see Mike and Char Goldman entering and exiting the Historic Hernando Preservation Society meetings hand in hand. “How sweet,” you may think, but theirs is a timeless story. Char was a 17 year old nurses aide, she wore a crisp white uniform with shoes to match. It was September of 1956 when Char laid eyes on her handsome patient, 18 year old Mike Goldman. Their story began…and they married December 26th of the same year!
Mike and Char have shared many interests over the years. Camping boating and raising horses. Char is an accomplished horse trainer, and she recalls a love of horses from a very early age. Arabians were her personal favorite, and the many pictures she shared showed her love and devotion for these regal animals. In addition, Mike and Char also enjoyed raising Black Angus cattle.
When Char was a small girl, she loved playing in the mud, an early sign of her love for pottery making. As fate would have it, she met a Navajo lady in Santa Fe, NM. She taught Char many of the basics. This early training led to classes at universities whenever she had the chance, and helping out in shops to learn more techniques to add to her repertoire.
Mike in his laid back manner simply states that his love of pottery came from following Char. He looks at ease in the potters chair arranged neatly next to his wheel. They speak of evenings trailing off into the wee hours as they peruse the hobby that brings them both so much joy.
As you enter their shop, you are overcome with the flow of creativity. Signs on the cabinet doors encourage you to “Be Happy, Be Humble, Follow Your Dreams.” Char is the one who had a vision for this engaging shop. Sometimes they give lessons to neighbor children, Char will also be speaking to Silverthorn about their ABC Artisan Pottery classes. Their articles range for serviceable cups and pots to one of a kind artistic sculptures. Several beautiful articles made it out of the kiln just that very afternoon, among them a beautiful aqua salad bowl with four serving bowls…a gift for her daughter.
We sat on the deck sipping raspberry lemonade, commenting on the numerous plants housed in gorgeous pottery. No surprise, both Mike and Char are Master Gardeners.
These two beautiful people love being a part of Historic Preservation. They were first drawn into it because they loved how friendly Jon and Dana Yeager were to them. They stay because there is so much to do, and they enjoy the meetings when they are able to come. Historic Hernando Preservation Society is honored to have Mike and Char Goldman among its membership.
The Historic Hernando Preservation Society was delighted to present Dr. Roger Landers with the LeeAnne Showman Award for Preservation for 2016 at the January 5th meeting. Dr. Landers is one of Hernando County’s leading historians and was a teacher, principal and district administrator in the Hernando County School System for nearly 33 years.
Dr. Landers received a Doctorate Degree from Florida State University. He has been a leading figure in historic research in our county and a major contributor in both lecturing and writing of Brooksville history. His most recent publication, Hernando County Florida: One hundred years or thereabout, covers history from 1842 to 1945. He has been an advisor for the Heritage Museum and the Hernando County Genealogical Society as well as an active member of the Seminole War Society and the Brooksville historic Round Table. He was instrumental in the development of research conducted at Bayport in 2008-2010 and became a principal adviser for the creation of the Hernando Historic Preservation Society.
Dr. Landers contributed substantial financial support for the Cultural Resource Assessment of Hernando County, Florida by the Gulf Archeological Research Institute in 2009, and he recently donated an important and significant Hernando County paleontological specimen to the Hernando County Historical Museum.
He has been credited as being a key figure in local history with Virginia Jackson, Executive director of the Heritage museum, Jan Knowles, former museum president, and Bob Martinez, history magazine publisher.
The Historic Hernando Preservation Society took second place for the best commercial float thanks to Jamie and Robert Aubery of J. Rayne Photography who built a Time Machine! Members of the HHPS dressed up to represent Christmas throughout the Ages.
A million thanks to the Auberys for their hard work!
by: Mary J. Moses
Historic Hernando Preservation Society ventured to Tarpon Springs Saturday, September 24th. The group was there to take in the museums, shops and fabulous food Tarpon Springs had to offer. The trip, in itself, was a nod to the fifty Greek sponge divers who left Tarpon Springs in 1910 for a new life in Centralia.
Centralia beckoned people from the silver and gold booms to a new resource, red Tidewater cypress. The seemingly inexhaustible supply drew workers from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Canada, and yes, Tarpon Springs. Centralia, born in 1910, was named after a lumbering and agricultural town by the same name in Wisconsin. It’s many workers, 1,500 in number, required services which Centralia gladly provided. Centralia boasted a one room school house where about two dozen pupils attended, it doubled as a church for Protestants and Catholics. There was a boarding house, the Centralia Hotel and a restaurant called the Hungry None, which served meals day and night. A drug store and a movie house called the Flicker Palace flanked its streets. Centralia was best known for George Gambles Commissary. The huge store supplied dry goods and hardware needs to the town, it stayed open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It carried more stock than any retail store in Tampa or Jacksonville.
Edgar Roberts who owned the Central Cypress Lumber Company, had the most efficiently run saw mill in the area. Double band saws cut rough timber into finished boards. Power for winching and sawing was provided by large steam boilers. Logs were hauled in by train, dumped into a pond, and floated to the mill. Yet, due to the lack of land management, the lumber source ran out in six short years. In 1917 Centralia had 160 acres of land stacked with lumber piles 15 feet high. The mill could turn out 100,000 board feet a day, and on many days it did, but no more.
Centralia’s final whistle blew on the last day of operation when Robert’s daughter “Queen” pulled it for the last time in 1917. The sound meant to call loggers to work now signaled Centralia’s end. Centralia officially closed on December 11, 1922 with the closing of the Post Office. Today, all that remains of this once vibrant logging town are the float pond and the ramp up which the great logs were winched, the concrete slab where the water tower stood, and the brick foundations of the sawmill and depot.
Historic Hernando Preservation Society is currently working on a project to place the nearly forgotten history of Centralia on a Historic Marker. Centralia was located 4-1/2 miles north of Weeki Wachee Springs and east of US 19 Highway, just north of Tooke Lake. The Historic Marker project should be completed in 2017. Donations for the marker can be made on the Centralia Marker Page. You can learn more about Historic Hernando Preservation Society by visiting their web page at historichernandopreservationsociety.org.
The Hernando Historical Museum Association invited the Historic Hernando Preservation Society for a croquet match on the lawn of the May Stringer House, Sunday, August 28th. The event was to encourage growing friendships as well as provide a pastime of a by-gone era. It reflected days of summer afternoons sipping cold drinks in the shade, while rocking on the porch.
The Stringer House was the perfect backdrop for this friendly game. The lawn stretched beyond the welcoming porches inviting participants to “come play.” Some wore period dress, adding to the enchantment of the evening. A light supper was spread across white linen cloths for the enjoyment of all. After the match, deserts were served as the sun began to set. Historic Hernando Preservation Society member, Debbie Charlow may have won the match, but everyone considered themselves a winner at this years event.
Museum President Mary Sheldon was the event coordinator. She and her board provided everyone with hospitality and charm. They food they served was excellent, and the fellowship was enjoyed by all. Preservation Society President Don Moses and Museum President Mary Sheldon hope this event will be the beginning of many more. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend the Historic Hernando Preservation Society meetings at CIty Hall the first Thursday of each month beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Hernando Historical Museum Association is also extending invitations to the community to be a part of their organization as well. You can get more information about them by visiting http://www.hernandohistoricalmuseumassoc.com .