The pictures throughout the book are from another time that wasn’t really so long ago.
n Baseball greats Fred Hutchinson and Warren Spahn with groceries at the old IGA grocery store.
n A single story beach cottage in 1955 with nothing around it but sand.
n Jamie and Drew Adams as boys, bottle-feeding raccoons in front of the family’s “Coon-diminium,” a cage for the critters.
n A crowd gathered for the dedication of the new Cortez Bridge in 1957, for which the toll was 30 cents.
n Chris Torgeson, Miss Florida 1966, waving under a palm tree.
They are but a few snapshots of life back in the day from Carolyne Norwood’s “Anna Maria Island 1940-1970, Tales of Three Cities from Bean Point to Bridge Street.”
It is a handsome 288-page volume by the longtime island resident that took five years to compile and write.
“It was a labor of love and I’m proud of it, but there were many times I would stop and say, ‘What am I doing to myself?’” said Norwood, 83, who will be a grand marshal along with Elizabeth Moss for the Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Celebration Parade on May 13.
She and husband, George, raised a family of four after moving to Anna Maria in the mid-1950s from Silver Spring, Md. He died eight years ago.
“A man George worked with retired here, called and said, ‘C’mon down!’ We’d never been to Florida, but what’s not to like -- sun, sand and water,” she said. “Actually when I got here, the mosquitoes were so thick, you had to wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat. But we never regretted leaving.”
Now a retired journalist, Norwood worked at the Islander, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and was a stringer for the St. Petersburg Times.
She also co-founded the Anna Maria Island Historical Society with Pat Copeland in 1990.
It was her time with Islander as features editor and writing “Island Happenings,” that enabled her eventual book writing.
Her first book about AMI, “The Early Years 1893-1940,” was published in 2004 and is now in its fourth printing.
“I was meeting people who lived here forever and they were dying off,” Norwood said. “I didn’t want their lives to go unnoticed.
“The real momentum came when somebody brought a roomful of old Islanders and I thought it’s a shame to throw them out. We just took out most interesting articles, filed them under subjects and that made it easier.”
So did the fact the Island was chock full of interesting people.
Or as Norwood said acclaimed author and fellow Islander Wyatt Blassingame put it, “‘You can blindfold a nut, turn him around three times and he’s going to end up on Anna Maria Island.’ We’ve had nothing but characters here.”
The list goes on and on:
n Hutchinson and Spahn, Birdie Tebbetts and Earl Torgeson made AMI the place for the “Boys of Winter,” famous major leaguers who came to Florida for spring training and ended up calling AMI home.
n Pete and Eleanor Reynard opened up their popular restaurant in 1954 and put AMI on the map, thriving even after Pete died in 1975 until it was sold in 1988.
n Max Woodland, the Anna Maria mayor who disappeared in 1961.
AMI had its fair share of interesting events, all right.
Like Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s musical romantic comedy, “On An Island With You,” filmed on AMI, starring Esther Williams, Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalban, Jimmy Durante and Cyd Charisse and released in 1948.
Norwood’s book is also filled with charming anecdotes of AMI in a much simpler time.
Like this one by Dorothy Raymond Whitaker, grandniece of 1895 homesteaders Sam and Annie Cobb, recalling life aboard a houseboat her dad Elmer “Sugarfoot” Raymond bought in 1924:
“My brother Steve and I would come home from Anna Maria School, which was on Magnolia Avenue, and before we were off the bus we’d start undressing. Everything was off by the time we got to the gangplank except for the bare essentials. We’d grab our bathing suits, pull them on and jump off the porch into the water.
“The bay was our front yard.”
It’s chestnuts like that which made folks snap up most of the original 1,100 volumes -- only 300 remain -- with reviews like these.
“(It) brought back memories I will never forget ...,” said Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Commissioner and former Holmes Beach mayor. “The Island airport, Rich’s Drug Store where I had my first job at 14, parties at the Oar House with the Allman Brothers hanging out ...”
“Happy memories of the past flow through your mind like the waves over the beaches of Anna Maria Island,” said Jack Dietrich, a former Anna Maria Elementary School principal.
It was worth all the heavy lifting, Norwood said.
“When I started I could sit at the computer three hours at a time, but toward the end it took its toll,” she said. “So don’t ask me when I’m starting on the next. Somebody else will have go do that.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.