Neighborliness has been an important part of life on Sanibel. This tradition can be traced back to the earliest pioneers. Guests at the 30th Anniversary Party for the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village will have a chance to visit each building and greet more of these "earliest village neighbors," portrayed by a village docent.
This article will focus on Frank Bailey (Bill Bachman), his sister-in-law Charlotta Matthews (Nanette Lurion), and schoolteacher Nancy McCann (Deb Gleason).
The Old Bailey Store:
The village neighbors pictured above, Nancy McCann (Deb Gleason), Frank Bailey (Bill Bachman), and Charlotta Matthews (Nanette Lurion) on the Old Schoolhouse Porch. PHOTO PROVIDED.
Frank Bailey, a native of Kentucky, arrived in 1894 and farmed 600 acres. His family purchased Geraty's Store on Matthews Warf and renamed it the Sanibel Packing Company. After the store and wharf were destroyed in the 1926 hurricane, a second one was rebuilt up on land in 1927. The unofficial mayor of Sanibel, Frank was founder of the Sanibel Community Church. Bailey's store was where the locals shopped, waited for the ferry, and voted. Their motto, "If we don't have it, you don't need it!"
Miss Charlotta's Tearoom:
Charlotta Matthews returned to the island in 1928 to help her mother run the family's hotel. Constructed in 1926 as a gas station, the tearoom was left standing after the 1926 hurricane and became a temporary store. After completion of the new Bailey Store, Charlotta ran the tearoom from 1927 to 1933 serving tea, sandwiches and gossip. Charlotta, nicknamed "Scooter" because of her boundless energy, did the bookkeeping for the family's hotel.
The Old Schoolhouse:
Nancy McCann taught in the school. The building, built in 1898 for $530, was a typical one-room schoolhouse and served the island's children until a larger building was constructed in 1962. Nancy, an avid baseball fan, always wore bobby sox that rolled down over her two-inch-high pastel heels. As the "all day" pitcher during recess, Nancy's system for striking out was unique. When the World Series was being played, students listened to the game during class.
Bill Bachman (Frank Bailey) first visited Sanibel in 1998, fell in love with the area and bought a home. After retiring as the director of a management consulting firm in Maryland, he and his wife became full-time winter residents. A docent for nine years, Bill has served on the museum's board in a number of positions. His outgoing personality and management style makes him an excellent choice to portray Frank Bailey, the unofficial mayor of Sanibel.
Nanette Lurion (Charlotta Matthews) will be giving her usual energetic performance. As a retired teacher and former health care administrator from New York, this 20-year resident of Sanibel is familiar with the island's history and will pepper her portrayal with Charlotta's stories.
Deb McQuade Gleason (Nancy McCann) came to live on Sanibel in 1958 with her parents, sister Judi, and brother Mark. They attended the white schoolhouse with Nancy McCann as their teacher. An island realtor, she currently chairs the Sanibel Historical Preservation Committee.
Tickets for this event are $150 per person. For information about The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village's 30th Anniversary party on March 20, please contact Emilie at 472-4648.