Water Oral History Project to celebrate county’s rich heritage
The Water Oral History Project serves to preserve storytelling traditions and oral histories, which would otherwise be lost over time. These personal narratives, as told by Sarasota-area residents, provide a glimpse into the area as it used to be and provide insight into the important roles that local water resources continue to play both economically and environmentally.
Former interviewee Paula Benshoff, a naturalist who works at Myaaka River State Park, praised the impact of oral histories, especially the way they promote the importance of our relationship to the land. “They’re our past, they’re our future and they’re what tie it all together,” Benshoff added.
This year’s subjects include:
|Lilly Mae Martin|
- Lily Mae Martin: Born in 1925, Martin grew up in the turpentine quarters in Laurel and is among the last remaining members of that community. She shared stories of working on the farms in Laurel and of the community’s many changes over the years. She still lives in Laurel with her family today.
- Dr. Kellie Dixon: Born in Georgia, Dr. Dixon came to Sarasota in 1978 to work at Mote Marine Laboratory. Starting as a volunteer, she earned the position of Program Manager after obtaining her doctorate in Chemical Oceanography, and continues to conduct research necessary to analyze Sarasota County’s waters.
- Boyce Blackmon: A native Floridian, Blackmon moved to Sarasota County in the mid-1960’s and started a successful contracting business in 1965. Currently semi-retired and living in Myaaka, Blackmon is well acquainted with the history and wildlife of Sarasota County. Blackmon also owned and operated a cattle ranch for 28 years.
- Beverly Fleming: After growing up on Boca Grande, Fleming moved to Sarasota County at age 17, and later had a succesful career as a government employee when she moved to Maryland. Fleming retired back to Sarasota County and owned an art gallery in Towles Court for six years. She continues to paint and show her work around the community and has many fond memories of growing up on Boca Grande.*
- Tito Goana: A trapeze artist born in Mexico, Gaona spent his childhood summers in Sarasota County with his family and formed the well known trapeze act the “Flying Gaonas”, which performed with various circuses, including the Ringling Brothers Circus. After traveling the world, he settled down in Venice, where he now is the owner and founder of the Flying Trapeze Academy.