East 405 - 18th Ave. North,
St. Petersburg, Fla.,
April 6th, 1926.
We are glad to greet all our Cousins, Aunts and Uncles from this wonderful city of St. Petersburg, Florida, where we have been spending the winter at the lovely home of Uncle Tommie and Aunt Frank Campbell. It is next to being rich ourselves to have rich relatives1 and we are surely enjoying ourselves here with them. They keep young and full of pep and, to see them, one could not believe that they are to celebrate their "Golden Wedding" next Monday, April 12th.
For years they have tried to interest us in the wonderful opportunities of the "Sunshine City" but it seemed impossible for us to leave home in the winter, and besides we had our doubts about all the stories they told. We are glad to be here now and find out for ourselves that "the half has never been told" even yet. Llewellyn has invested in some land here and has built two houses to sell. This is certainly a great place to play and make money while you are playing.
Many northern people think that the "bubble has burst" but if they would only come and see for themselves the substantial basis upon which Florida, and this city is being built, and the great buildings in course of erection, they could not doubt what the future of Florida has in store for those who are fortunate enough to invest here.
According to statistics Florida entered 1926 with more than nine millions of dollars to her credit and without public debt. The State levies no State Income or Inheritance Tax. Sixteen southern States did one fifth of the building of the United States last year and Florida did one third of the one fifth.2
It is of historical interest to note, that, since we have been here, the Port of St. Petersburg has been opened and many large ships are here all the time. We saw one from Puget Sound the other day and thought of the Congdons3. The port was dedicated during the "Festival of the States" last week, and we listened with great interest to the address given by the head of all the shipping interests of the world, who came here for the purpose of formally opening the port. St. Petersburg is endowed with the closest open port to the Panama Canal on the American continent and is owned and controlled by the municipality.
1. Only a few months later, the Florida real estate "bubble" burst. Tommie was a large scale developer who owned many acres of land and had invested large sums into providing streets, water, sewer, etc. when the demand for new houses suddenly evaporated.--- Eventually his daughters sold the land to the city as Campbell Park
2. The pace of building was the problem. Small speculators like Llewellyn with his 2 houses, and larger ones like Tommie with his many blocks under development were playing "build it and they will buy." When that becomes widespred, suddenly the supply exceeds the demand.
3. Ed Congdon and his wife and children.
Many of the tourists have left for the North, but we see no difference for we still have to stand in line for most everything. Two of the largest hotels have closed for the season.4
It is wonderful how the people attend church here. Some of the churches have had two morning services and one has to go very early to get a seat. The larger churches seat from one thousand to five thousand people. One can hardly find a seat at Prayer Meeting in some of them.
We have had the pleasure of listening to three world famous musicians this winter, Galli Curci - Fritz Kreisler and Paderewski, also many noted speakers. There is some noted speaker every afternoon at Williams Park, after the concert by the noted Scotch Highlanders Band, to which thousands listen daily.
We have taken several trips over the state while we have been here. Uncle Tommie, Aunt Frank, Llewellyn and I drove to the East Coast a short time ago. We went first to Tampa, crossing the new Gandy bridge which is six miles long and considered the longest bridge in the world. We then went to Winter Haven, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, Miami, Coral Gables and Cocoanut Grove where we visited the home of William Jennings Bryan, a quite peaceful place, overlooking the ocean and hidden away among the palm trees, Spanish moss and tropical plants. Coral Gables is all that it is advertised. We came here by way of Fort Pierce, Melbourne, and Kissimee which gave us a fine trip along the ocean. The wonderful development of the state gave us an idea of what man has done and we could not help but contrast it with another trip which we took. We drove forty miles to Tarpon Springs where we found the largest sponge industry of the world. From here we took a small boat and went sixteen miles up the narrow winding Anolete River into the very heart of the jungle with its beautiful old trees filled with Spanish moss and vines. The mocking birds were singing in the trees and huge alligators, said to be four hundred years old were sunning themselves on the bank. All this, with the reflections in the water, as we passed along looked like a veritable fairyland, and showed us the state as God made it. No wonder the famous Artist, George Innes [sic], who painted "The Last Hope"5, chose this place for his permanent home, which is rustic looking.
4. Before air conditioning, Florida's tourist season was only during the winter months.
5. I could find no reference to a painting of this title. She may have been referring to a painting, titled the Only Hope, by George Inness, Jr., who was less famous than his father.
With Mary's family and Ruth's family here, my mother with us, and many friends from the North, we are really having a happy winter. We miss Helen and the boys and Wilford and Genevieve, but they are all well and busy and interested in things that are worth while, so what more could we ask. We are thankful that my mother is so well after all she has suffered in the past year. She looks fine and young, especially now that her dresses have been shortened several times since she came. We are all drinking of the "Fountain of Youth" every day.
We are glad to hear that Cousin Nellie Horton Kimball is gaining after her serious time in the hospital.
We are glad to welcome into our great family little Donna Grace Horton6 of Independence, Oregon.
This letter is perhaps too long but it will have to do for Llewellyn and I both.
We join in love to you all,
COUSIN MABEL SHIPMAN SHAW.
6. A few years ago, my wife and I visited "Donnie" and her son Michael and dau. "Anne" while visiting the west coast. -wbt
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