October, November, and December 2013 Journal
The 1910 Inn in Tarpon Springs, Florida
Oh my, the fall months flew by at The 1910 Inn. The most wonderful people, the most wonderful love-filled events, the most wonderful stories…
…Again I am in the ‘Goldilocks’ chair at the dining room table in The 1910 Inn. I was sweeping the entry hall…dozens of flat, pale pink, metallic hearts…amongst the typical sweepings of a floor…and I had to stop and give you the October update. The update was almost complete, then the busy-ness of life at the inn took over, and the update never made its way to that modern device, known as a computer.
Remember the September journal entry mentioned the betrothal at the inn? Here is that wonderful tale. Sarah thought she would surprise Brandon with a birthday evening at The 1910 Inn. But Brandon, a creative and romantic young man, turned the event into a surprise for his beloved Sarah. With the help of inn guests (Janet who pretended to take pictures of the exterior of the inn; and Steve, who nonchalantly began a distracting conversation), and the innkeeper, Annie, (who distracted Sarah with a half-hour conversation at the dining room table and later arranged Brandon’s selected key lime pie, merlot wine, love letter, red roses, and candle in the romantic Bedroom One), and inn friend (Rose, who escorted Brandon and a boxed filled with a letter and an engagement ring to Howard Beach, guarded the buried box and protruding shovel, and photographed the unburying of the treasure) the unforgettable moment played out with precision.
The succession of inn guests…they arrive into Tarpon Springs in search of Greek food (we have that in Tarpon Springs, you know), sponges, antiques, sunsets, and …relaxation. Yes, there is that quiet calmness of years gone by at The 1910 Inn. As I tell guests…’the inn is yours tonight’. They smile and feel ‘at home’…and they should, because they begin to feel like family to me.
One weekend the inn belonged to Maria, Janet, and Steve. Dear friends. Old friends. Maria had a task to tend to…many who are reading this may have had to tend to that same task…preparing the empty home of her dear parents for a garage sale and a real estate sale. It can be an emotional and overwhelming task, and it may have been. But Maria is practical, humorous, wise, and systematic, and she tackled that task with help from siblings, sister-in-law Kim, and dear friend Tina. The inn was a safe and nurturing haven for Maria during that weekend. Janet…dear Janet…a high school classmate…visiting and reconnecting with friends. There just seems to be a wisdom that comes from these dear friends, who have reached the year of a milestone birthday.
October entailed preparations…for Pilar’s November bridal shower and Sara and Richard’s November wedding, but first I must tell you about Wendy and Ron.
Dear Wendy and Ron…our first newlyweds at the inn. They were married in the Round Room on October 13. Wendy stayed in the bridal suite (Bedroom One) the night before the wedding. She welcomed her groom, Ron, into her bridal suite for the next two nights at the inn. How sweet…how vintage…charming beyond words!
I saw Wendy and Ron many times in the months during the planning of their nuptials. They are family to the inn now. Sandra Caskey played beautiful wedding music on her violin. Oh, you should hear how live music resonates throughout the inn. Is it the high ceilings? The wood floors? The plaster walls? All three combined? Something in this structure makes music divine to the ears and the soul.
One week was Parker week at the inn. Torrance Parker, author of two books about the history and progression of sponge diving through the centuries and throughout the world, planned a special trip for himself, two of his daughters, and one of his nieces. Torrance was a Tarpon Springs sponge diver seventy years ago, and he recently came to Tarpon Springs for a book-signing event at The Tarpon Sponge Company, an intriguing shop created by friend, Athena, in the Sponge Exchange at the Sponge Docks. If you have not seen this shop, it is worth a visit to the Sponge Docks, so you can walk through an original and authentic sponge storage facility. Athena understands the ‘big picture’ of the history and culture of Tarpon Springs…she understands why it is important to preserve history and share it with the generations that come after us.
It was quite coincidental that another Parker was a guest at the inn during Torrance’s visit. Oboe professor, Andrew Parker, was in town as a guest of oboe professor, Amy Collins, and the University of South Florida. Andrew’s beautiful oboe music graced the inn for an impromptu Parker-family concert after breakfast one morning.
And oboe music…Amy and Friends at Christmas…a CD of heavenly oboe and harp music…just the right sound for a century-old Victorian inn. Amy appeared with the CD early one morning at the inn. My mind had been perplexed with finding just the right music for the inn during the upcoming holiday weeks, and that is when Amy arrived. Ironic…but not really…because these occurrences happen often at the inn.
There was another Wine Walk in the fall. Oh, the lovely oboe and harp music was playing on the vintage phonograph, as guests lined up for a taste of wine. Whenever the delightful trolley arrives in front of the inn and a group of six or eight guests come into the inn, I sometimes assume that the all those in the group are already friends. So when a delightful woman exclaimed, ‘I LOVE this music’, and Amy Collins happened to be behind her in the wine line, I thought the two had come to the wine walk together. I smiled and said, ‘This is the music of a wonderful oboe musician named Amy Collins’. Here’s the interesting part of the story…the woman did not know Amy Collins…the woman did not know that the woman behind her was the musician whose music she was enjoying…and Amy Collins did not realize that her music was playing subtly in the background. After the realization and the laughter, the women talked and were strangers no more. Nobody remains a stranger at The 1910 Inn.
“The door! The door!”…the new/old door! Can you believe it? It arrived at the start of November. It was located last spring during May, and that is when the refurbishing began. But…you know…or maybe you do not know…but this is Tarpon Springs. Think of Mayberry USA…1950. Yes, there is no hurry. I knew the door was in good hands. I knew John of JKC Custom Doors would know how to make the refurbished door look original to the house. Yes, he told me he would be away in Greece for one month. Yes, I knew that ‘one month’ can translate to ‘two or more months’ in Tarpon Springs. So, you see…I was patient. That’s not to say I wan not eager to see the completed transformation of the door…but ‘early May’ turned into ‘early November’…and ‘a door’ turned into ‘THE DOOR’ for The 1910 Inn. I keep smiling each time I glance at it. I am smiling as I am writing this. (Remember? I write these journal entries before I type them.) Come see THE DOOR one day. Please. And we shall take a few moments to sit on the front veranda and enjoy a cup of tea together.
THE SIGN…I told you about THE DOOR…but I cannot forget to tell you about THE SIGN. The thought makes me smile and actually laugh. As I mentioned…I am patient…and this is Tarpon Springs. It took 12 months to fully comply with the procedure for an ‘old house’ that is in the Historic District and on the Historic Registry to get approval from various government boards for the design, creation, and installation of a simplistic vintage-like sign. And I am glad about that. As I have said many times, “I love Tarpon Springs”, and with that mindset I totally understand and appreciate the reasoning behind the sign approval process. So, thank you City of Tarpon Springs and Historic Preservation Board.
Dear Friend Maria continued to send to the inn pieces of wrought iron furniture that belonged to her parents. She kept saying, ‘you will need them’, and she was right. I continued to spray paint the sturdy furnishings glossy black. All these items will be needed for the upcoming showers, events, and luncheon gatherings at the inn.
Here’s a poignant thought: Every day I think of the many people whose special belongings now live at the inn: Mama Harriet, Sue, Marni, Maria, another Maria, Goldie, Pauline, Phyllis, Angie, Esther, Margo, Linda. I love their names! Vintage! I love these ladies. You would, too.
The mailbox. I have to tell you about the ‘new’mailbox. Some of it is old, and some of it is new. It took me awhile, but I finally realized what type of mailbox the inn needed. A simple mailbox. One day I asked Tenant Wesley, who likes outside projects, if he could paint the mailbox purple and white. Knowing that it is always nice to recycle, reuse, and refurbish, we kept the old wooden post, painted it glossy white, and purchased a simple black mailbox…but really…it needed to match the trim of the inn. So a quick trip to our local hardware store…(oh, my, that wonderful hardware store is a story in itself. I believe that ‘Ward Cleaver’ may have shopped there! And surely ‘Andy Griffith’, too.!) produced a discovery of plum-colored spray paint. So now the mailbox is in place, and looks simple, vintage, and whimsical.
Okay…a side story is coming to you now…here’s an interesting story about that old mailbox. I told Wesley we needed to keep it at the inn…we could not throw it away, even though it was broken. Why? Because printed on the inside…actually the letters were embossed into the structure of the mailbox…were the words: “Youngstown, Ohio”.
I was stunned when I saw that. But this story goes back a few months to July, when the veranda roof was being replaced. During the removal of the rotted pieces of wood and shingles and beams, heaps of debris filled a truck. Early one July morning I noticed that a lone piece of ‘something’ did not make its way into the truck bed. Its color was pretty. Green. That’s what made me notice it. Glass. How pretty. It had the vintage glass color. ‘What is it?’ I wondered. It was shaped like it was part of a cup…no…part of a bottle…no…I really do not know what it was during its useful life one-hundred years ago when it must have fallen between two roof beams during the construction of the inn in 1910. The veranda roof was a TIME CAPSULE for this lovely green glass…that stunned me when I noticed the embossed word: “Brookfield”. I just paused as I wrote this. Still stunned. ‘Why?’, you wonder. Because, although I always say that I have been in Tarpon Springs FOREVER, and I almost have been, I was actually born in YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO and lived in the small nearby town of BROOKFIELD. Not too many people know that. Why did this inn have an embossed ‘something’ from Brookfield and an embossed mailbox from Youngstown, Ohio? Was I supposed to find my way to this inn? (Did I ever tell you that a special Mary told me recently, “the inn is good for you. It’s like watching your mama grow up and blossom into the young woman you always knew she was.”)
Oh…the October writings stopped at this point two months ago…life took over…the inn duties were plentiful…so here is the remaining and condensed story for November and December.
Camille surprised her daughter, Pilar, with a bridal shower at The 1910 Inn. It was darling and adorable…and had an unexpected delight. A slumber party, too! After the afternoon bridal shower, the guests enjoyed Night In The Islands at the Sponge Docks, and returned to the inn for a slumber party comprised of cousins, sisters, aunts, and mothers. So cute!
That was a busy day at the inn, because after the bridal shower, another love-filled event transpired at the inn. Sara and Richard were married in the garden of The 1910 Inn! Sara’s father officiated over the ceremony, as the love and excitement radiated from their faces.
A few weeks later an event that had been secretly planned for many months by four adult siblings came to fruition at The 1910 Inn. Gordon and Jacqueline celebrated their 50 anniversary with a dinner party attended by close friends and family. It was a touching and emotional day…too beautiful for words. One special part of the story, though, is how a young man…a grandson…took special care to ensure that his grandparents would enter the inn and have a FIRST DANCE together. This was so especially important to him, because he knew that his grandparents had never had a First Dance when they married in 1963.
One day I was asked to join the Old Timers of Tarpon Springs group. I have lived in Tarpon Springs for more than 40 years. Surely, my gray-streaked locks attest that I am ‘old-ish’…and I LOVE that idea! So I attended a meeting in October and I was asked to speak about The 1910 Inn at the November meeting. But wait…it gets better! I asked if the November Old Timers luncheon could be held at inn! If you could see my face as I am writing this…weeks after the luncheon occurred at the inn…you would see my huge smile! I loved having the Old Timers at The 1910 Inn. You see…this ‘old house’, as I affectionately call the inn…feels to me that it belongs to the community. It is a living museum. Work in progress. Loved by many over many decades and generations. I am a part of its long 103-year timeline. Many people feel a connection to this ‘old house’. And for that reason it was truly my honor to host the Old Timers at The 1910 Inn. I love Tarpon Springs, its history, its people. To me it was truly fitting to have the Old Timers (and I am one of them now…I am smiling again!) spend an afternoon at The 1910 Inn. And now a new tradition has begun, because we are planning to have each November Old Timers meeting at the inn in the future years.
November…Mia…Felipe…the WLRN documentary continued to develop. I still feel that I cannot share all the details surrounding the topic of this documentary, but I promise to tell you more in 2014. Just know that Mia and Felipe’s research was finalized in November, and their many visits to Tarpon Springs and at The 1910 Inn were winding down. It is a bit sad, really…because they are my friends now…and I miss their regular visits at the inn. But, as I always say, ‘there is something about this inn’, and I know that I will see Mia and Felipe again.
Winter tenants, John and Roseanne, found their way to the apartments at the inn. It seems that they are feeling at home amidst the Greek heritage of our darling town. John is originally from Greece, and his wonderful wife, Roseanne, truly has embraced his culture. John and Roseanne are now ‘family’ at The 1910 Inn.
One sunny warm Wednesday a few months ago, I walked into Tarpon Tavern for lunch.
Some local merchants were having a luncheon meeting at a nearby table, and Sue Thomas, our Chamber of Commerce President, called my name, smiled, and asked, ‘Annie, we had an idea…can we have Santa Claus sit at The 1910 Inn and meet with children during the There’s Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs event in December?’ Oh! I was delighted! ‘YES…YES…I would LOVE to have Santa Clause at the inn. Thank you so much!’ And so, the ideas began to dance in my head for the early December community event.
There’s Snow Place Like Tarpon Avenue…thousands of people…excited children…food, music, holiday shopping, outdoor movies, carriage rides, real snow, real reindeer, letters to Santa, visits on Santa’s knee, and the arrival of the illuminated boat parade in Spring Bayou…just steps from the veranda of The 1910 Inn. It was delightful! And dear, dear Wendy came for the event…along with her dear friends and neighbors. New inn friends!
The innkeeper (really…she is a shy person…but her inn guests do not see that…because the inn is intertwined with her soul…and she bubbles with excitement when she talks about the inn) had to appear before the Tarpon Springs City Commission meeting in December at City Hall, speak about the inn for two minutes, and accept a Beautification Award from the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce on behalf of The 1910 Inn. Thank you, Chamber of Commerce, for recognizing and acknowledging the ongoing restoration at The 1910 Inn.
Ava came back to the inn! Remember dear, sweet, young Ava attended her Aunt Courtney’s bridal shower in September? It was so nice to have Ava and her family members come back to the inn for her Aunt Mary’s baby shower in December. Yes, Ava feels like part of the ‘inn family’.
One day, friend Linda came to deliver a bagful of vintage lace and doilies for the inn. She remarked that she is concerned that young generations do not have a love nor an appreciation for vintage treasures and antiques. Oh, the first thought that came to my mind was Ava, and I shared my Ava stories with Linda. I reassured Linda that some youngsters have an ‘old soul’ and love history. When these special young people appear at the inn, I love to share stories about the inn, the furnishings, and the ‘olden days’. The history is appreciated by some quite-special people, and together we can work to keep that history preserved, shared, enjoyed, and alive!
Oh, dear friends, know that these anecdotes you have just read are only a handful of the delightful and enriching days at The 1910 Inn. Please visit The 1910 Inn one day. Please come share some tea and stories from a rocking chair on the front veranda.
Be well. Stay safe. Enjoy time with loved ones. Help others. Have a blessed upcoming 2014. Reflect back on 2013, and appreciate the blessings.
With much love,