Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fun (and learning) in the sun

In 1926, the Sunshine Elementary School opened in Pass-A-Grille (St. Petersburg) Beach, with teachers holding classes outdoors under palm-thatched shelters. They used portable blackboards, tables and benches. They ate at the "Sunshine Filling Station", the school cafeteria. They spent at least 45 minutes a day on the beach, and classes included swimming and small boat handling. The school closed in 1975, and was razed in 1983.

My dad, at age 8, is the one who is circled and with his eyes unfortunately shut for all posterity. Taken in March 1941. Dad still has fond memories of taking lessons in the sand on the beach under the blazing Florida sun, something Northern schoolkids could only dream about. Times were simpler then. The local Fish Broil originated in 1930 at Sunshine School as a means of raising funds to pay teachers’ salaries during the Great Depression. Pits were dug on the beach, buttonwood coals were burned and the pits were covered with bedsprings to grill the fish. Local fishermen donated the fish and ladies made side dishes. Fish dinners were sold and money was raised.

Believe it or not, there is now a Facebook group page for any Sunshine School alumni to join.


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