Pine Island, FLorida (Images of America Series)

Pine Island, FLorida (Images of America Series)

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by Mary Kaye Stevens
     
 

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Tucked between the mainland of southwest Florida and the islands of Sanibel and Captiva is a 17-mile-long island accessible by a single drawbridge. A haven for some and a home to others, the community of Pine Island is a rare and lingering remnant of old Florida. The island's shores are home to mangroves teaming with fish instead of crowded beaches, making it a

Overview


Tucked between the mainland of southwest Florida and the islands of Sanibel and Captiva is a 17-mile-long island accessible by a single drawbridge. A haven for some and a home to others, the community of Pine Island is a rare and lingering remnant of old Florida. The island's shores are home to mangroves teaming with fish instead of crowded beaches, making it a major destination for sport fishing enthusiasts and providing a livelihood for the independent commercial fishing families of the island. The genuine personalities and untouched splendor of Pine Island have attracted numerous artists to the area in recent years, with many praising Pine Island as the new Key West. Strolling the lazy street to Bokeelia's famous fishing pier, or exploring an active Calusa Indian archeological site in Pineland, the crowds and tourist-related glitz common to most of Florida's islands are nowhere to be found, leaving visitors to discover Pine Island's unspoiled beauty at their own pace.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Title: Local author creates 'Images of America: Pine Island'

Author: Drew Winchester

Publisher: The Pine Island Eagle

Date: 1/12/2009

Mary Kaye Stevens was catching a flight at Southwest International Airport when books on Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Sanibel caught her eye.

Part of the "Images of America" series, these collections of photographs formed detailed and intriguing histories of these cities, something Stevens felt Pine Island was missing.

So, Stevens decided she would write one of her own.

"I thought, these are really neat, it's a fun read," she said. "I said, Pine Island needs one of these and thought, I could do this."

Stevens made the pitch to Arcadia Publishing and had a contract within a week.

It was a whirlwind for the fledgling author, who found herself having to suddenly deliver on the flicker of an idea she had at RSW.

A former Lee County teacher and Pine Island resident for over 30 years, Stevens set about the monumental task of collecting the photographs and interviews that would make up the bulk of the book.

"It was more difficult than I had anticipated," she said. "There was pressure I put on myself to make sure it was completely accurate."

The book contains "about" 200 photos, according to Stevens, detailing the rise of Pine Island's fishing heritage.

Stevens said she was struck with how happy these early settlers appeared to be in the photos, despite their inherent and obvious hardships trying to settle a piece of land that was as wild as any other place in Lee County.

That's partially why Stevens wanted to pursue the book in the first place: to record a history that might be lost as the generations move, pass away and fade into the background of a passing age.

Several of Stevens' interview subjects have even died since she began her work just over a year ago.

"There has been a resurgence of local history," she said. "I think my generation is seeing the generation before us dying."

Though the island has gone through obvious changes -- the arrival of Winn-Dixie, the evolution of Matlacha -- Stevens said the spirit and flavor that shaped the island has remained the same.

Now she can find her book in the airport -- on same rack that inspired her and set her on the path in first place.

"Why we are what we are is because of the history," she said. "I'm happy to have people discover Pine Island and know what it is."

"Images of America: Pine Island" is available at multiple locations throughout Southwest Florida and Pine Island, including Walgreens, Pine Island History Museum, Books and More and Crossed Palms Gallery.

Stevens will be signing copies of her book at Tortoise and the Crane in Cape Coral on Saturday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., and at Crossed Palms Gallery on Pine Island Saturday, Dec. 20, 1 - 5 p.m.

For more information visit arcadiapublishing.com.

Title: Resident tells Pine Island stories

Author: JL Watson

Publisher: News-Press

Date: 12/6/2008

Some of the pictures, shot when photography was in its infancy, are blurry. Others are crisp, taken during the last decade. All bring into focus the history of Pine Island.

Author Mary Kaye Stevens, who has lived on the island since 1972, spent hundreds of hours talking to the island's residents and researching old photographs to prepare for "Pine Island," a new book of photos, drawings and explanations of how the island has evolved since the 16th century.

Stevens got the idea for her book while waiting to catch a flight out of Southwest Florida International Airport. She spotted a copy of "Fort Myers" and later read some of Arcadia Publishing's other books, including "Sioux Falls" and "Mitchell's Corn Palace" about her hometown of Mitchell, S.D.

"I thought, 'This is such a cool idea,' " Stevens said. "It's telling the story of the area in an easy-to-read print."

Once she arrived home Stevens went online, looking for the publisher.

"I was not even unpacked when I got the proposal sent," she said.

Arcadia Publishing, based in Mount Pleasant, S.C., was interested.

Stevens, a former teacher and Golden Apple award winner, is a whiz at organization. She started with a plan to talk to as many people on the island as she could.

"I had so much fun," she said. "It was just a hoot to hear about the old days of Pine Island and why Pine Island is the way it is today, thanks to these people."

One of those residents, Kay (Caputo) DellaBitta, shared a story of growing up in a stilt house along the water's edge on Pine Island.

DellaBitta wanted to fish from the porch with her brothers. But her mother, fearing that she would fall into the water, made her fish through the hole in the outhouse.

"I remember fishing and catching fish so big I couldn't get them up through that hole," DellaBitta told Stevens.

Stevens said that despite living before the invention of air conditioning and other modern conveniences, the one unifying factor present in the early photos was a sense of happiness.

"In the pictures everybody's smiling," she said.

Stevens said she wrote the book as much for herself as visitors who might read it.

"I wrote it in honor of our past," she said. "In honor of those who were here before us and those who live here now who are unaware. They're going to learn something they didn't know."

Newcomers, too, will find interesting gems in the photos - past and present.

"It's definitely a unique island," Stevens said.

For Diana Ross, who served as an extra set of eyes while Stevens was writing the book, the finished product is a piece of history. Ross lived in Southwest Florida but moved to Anderson, Ind. in 1992. She is still a frequent visitor to Stevens' home.

"Everyone has always told her she should write a book," Ross said. "She's always been a wonderful writer."

Ross likened the book to "an exciting adventure" and said that Stevens' retirement project runs parallel lines to her career.

"She's always thinking of someone else," she said.

Julie Talmage, who shares the island with Stevens and other members of a local club, said she's looking forward to browsing through the finished product.

"I am so excited," she said. "Pine Island is kind of a secret. It's a very unique island. She's telling the story of the early people, then what happened; Hurricane Charley. Such unique people come here. There's a pioneer quality."

Title: Monroe Canal Marina to host unique book signing

Author: Marianne Paton

Publisher: Pine Island Eagle

Date: 2/10/2009

Now with the second printing of her book, "Images of America - Pine Island," author Mary Kaye Stevens will hold a special book signing to recognize those who helped make her book possible.

"I thought it would be nice to invite the people who I interviewed and contributed photos for my book for an afternoon of story swapping and to allow the people who have purchased my book to meet them," said Stevens. "During the writing of the book, I was able to interview about 100 people and while some of them are no longer with us, I expect anywhere from 40 to 50 of these long-term island residents to be present for the signing."

The book signing will take place Saturday, Feb. 14, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Monroe Canal Marina in St. James City. Attendees are invited to bring a chair and sample roasted hog or smoked mullet and enjoy chatting with old-time Pine Islanders featured in Stevens' book. Those attending also are welcome to bring their copy of the book to have them signed by what Stevens refers to as the "legends" of Pine Island.

In a recent conversation, Stevens related some of her experiences with the people she had the opportunity to interview.

"A gentleman named Bill McNagny told me an interesting story about his experiences with buzzards on the Island and about how his wife would hold dinner parties where John L. Lewis would fill in as host when he was away up north," said Stevens. "But, I would have to say that one of the most interesting people I was fortunate to meet was Kay DellaBitta. She told me about how her father would take Zane Gray fishing and in return he would give him an autographed copy of one of his books. The only problem was her father could not read, but his mother could and she would read them to him. Kay and her husband Frank also once owned Four Winds Marina and when she was a child she would cut through the property back when it was an orange orchard and steel fruit on her way home. Ironically, later she would own that same property."

Stevens also talked about a conversation with a notorious character from the island's past named Capt. Haines.

"Capt. Haines was a hoot even though he had something of a dark history and was suspected to be a murderer. He is remembered by neighbors for his love of soaking in a long bath while blasting Caruso from his Victrola," said Stevens.

With the completion of her Pine Island pictorial history book, Stevens recently was contracted to pen another in the "Images of America" series and will be collecting information for a book that will focus on the barrier islands of Pine Island Sound.

"I have begun work on the new book, but I am still looking for more photos and to do more interviews to complete the project," said Stevens. "This book also will be a combination of both research and interviews and I am looking forward to spending time with other islanders and learning about their histories as well."

Copies of the book "Images of America - Pine Island" are available for purchase at the Museum of the Islands or can be purchased from Stevens on Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Monroe Canal Marina.

Title: Author tells history of Pine Island through photos

Author: Drew Winchester

Publication: Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Date: 12/10/2008

Mary Kaye Stevens was catching a flight at Southwest International Airport when books on Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Sanibel caught her eye.

Part of the "Images of America" series, these collections of photographs formed detailed and intriguing histories of these cities, something Stevens felt Pine Island was missing.

So, Stevens decided she would write one of her own.

"I thought, these are really neat, it's a fun read," she said. "I said, 'Pine Island needs one of these,' and thought, I could do this."

Stevens made the pitch to Arcadia Publishing and had a contract within a week.

It was a whirlwind for the fledgling author, who found herself having to suddenly deliver on the flicker of an idea she had at RSW.

A former Lee County teacher and Pine Island resident for more than 30 years, Stevens set about the monumental task of collecting the photographs and interviews that would make up the bulk of the book.

"It was more difficult than I had anticipated," she said. "There was pressure I put on myself to make sure it was completely accurate."

The book contains "about" 200 photos, according to Stevens, detailing the rise of Pine Island's fishing heritage.

Stevens said she was struck with how happy the early settlers appeared to be in the photos, despite their inherent and obvious hardships trying to settle a piece of land that was as wild as any other place in Lee County.

That is partially why Stevens wanted to pursue the book in the first place: to record a history that might be lost as the generations move, pass away and fade into the background of a passing age.

Several of Stevens' interview subjects have even died since she began her work just over a year ago.

"There has been a resurgence of local history," she said. "I think my generation is seeing the generation before us dying."

Though the island has gone through obvious changes - the arrival of Winn-Dixie, the evolution of Matlacha - Stevens said the spirit and flavor that shaped the island has remained the same.

Now she can find her book in the airport - on same rack that inspired her and set her on the path in first place.

"Why we are what we are is because of the history," she said. "I'm happy to have people discover Pine Island and know what it is."

"Images of America: Pine Island" is available at multiple locations throughout Southwest Florida and Pine Island, including Walgreens, Pine Island History Museum, Books and More and Crossed Palms Gallery.

Stevens will sign copies of her book at Tortoise and the Crane in Cape Coral on Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and at Crossed Palms Gallery on Pine Island Saturday on Dec. 20 from 1-5 p.m.

For more information, visit: arcadiapublishing.com.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738554488
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
11/26/2008
Series:
Images of America Series
Pages:
127
Sales rank:
1,166,526
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author


Author Mary Kaye Stevens is an educator who first visited Pine Island with her family in the 1960s. Since making the island her home in 1972, she has gathered numerous photographs and anecdotes documenting the island's history. The vintage photographs and images in this book appear courtesy of multigenerational Pine Island families and take readers on a delightful journey through the island's unique past.

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