COASTE - Summer 2018




Discover the many exclusive amenities offered by Gulf Harbour, the finest member-owned golf and country club in Southwest Florida. Become a part of this special private paradise located along the Intracoastal Waterway on McGregor Boulevard.

GOLF EQUITY MEMBERS • Unlimited Golf • Reciprocal with 50+ Area Clubs • Year-Round Practice Range • Active Tennis Program • Spa & Fitness Center • 32 Complimentary Classes Weekly • Pool & Hot Tub • Waterfront Dining • Social Activities & Events

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HIDEAWAY ON SANIBEL • Beautiful 3 BR/2 BA Home • Backs up to Conservation Land • Vaulted Ceiling and Fireplace • 2nd Floor Master with Balcony • Deeded Beach Access $639,000 SANIBEL ISLES • Remodeled 3 BR/2.5 BA Home • Refinished Wood Floors • Gourmet Kitchen • Custom Details Throughout • Deeded Beach Access $1,695,000 • Large Screen-Enclosed Lanai • Pool, Docks, Tennis and Beach Access $1,049,000 SUNSET CAPTIVA HOME •Wonderful 3 BR/2 BA with Loft • Vaulted Ceilings and Fireplace • Sold Furnished CAPTIVA VILLAGE • Custom 5 BR/5 BA Home • Fenced Pool and Spa •Wood Floors and Elevator • Steps to the Beach and Bay • Sold Furnished $1,895,000 • Large Den/Media Room • Screen-Enclosed Patio with Heated Pool • Large Fenced in Back Yard BAREFOOT WAY • Beautifully Remodeled 3 BR/2 BA • Vaulted Ceiling and Fireplace

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John Bates REALTOR®

Karen Bell Broker-Associate REALTOR®

Holly Peeples Admin/Marketing Coordinator

Sherrill Sims GRI / REALTOR®


NEW AND IMPROVED It’s long been a cliché in the world of advertising that if you simply add the words “new” or “improved” to any headline, odds are you’ll see better return for your ad dollars. Having some 30 years experience in the industry, I can tell you that’s clearly a hit or miss proposition for more reasons than anyone cares to read. Still, new and improved quite aptly describes the Summer edition of COASTE that you’re holding in your hands, or viewing on a screen. What’s new, of course, are all the images, text and cool content we’ve jammed into our exciting and fun-to-read Summer issue — from a 14-year old bluesman, to our guide to Southwest Florida beach fun, to three months worth of events, attractions and myriad other things to see and do. What’s improved is our direction, as we continue to evolve

COASTE into a magazine and multi-media experience that embraces more diverse news, features and genres — including the newly-named FOLIO , which will bring you a more experiential interaction with the arts, as our first installment delves into the fine art of fiction via a short story (part of an anthology in the works) by yours truly. For our advertisers, there’s also a whole list of new and improved opportunities to deliver your important messages to our passionate followers (including 30,000 new Southwest Florida lovers), but I’ll leave the sales pitch to the sales people (contact info in our masthead). Welcome to our COASTE , summer style. Enjoy every page.

John Sprecher Founder | Editor


Volume IV Number 3

Voted the Best of the Islands 2017 Day Spa • Nail Salon • Salon • Spa

Founder/Executive Editor John Sprecher Creative Director Director of Photography Milissa Sprecher Director of Sales Paradise Creative Group Associate Publisher/Designer Andrew Tate Contributing Photographers John Sprecher Milissa Sprecher Lee County VCB Online & Calendar Editor Eric Sprecher COASTE is published quarterly by COASTE LLC. COASTE Magazine + Multi-Media Network reaches FREE a minimum 250,000 impressions via print magazine distribution, digital magazine subscribers, e-marketing, social media communities and website. COASTE is a member of Florida Magazine Association and statistically aligns with City and Regional Magazine Association.

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info @ For your information, you can learn more about the many outstanding destinations to be enjoyed in Lee County via these organizations. Just Click or Call Them Today! Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce 941.964.0568 Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce Chamber of Commerce 239.549.6900 Estero Chamber of Commerce 239.948.7990 Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce 239.454.7500 Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce 239.332.3624 Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau 239.992.2943 Cape Coral

INTERESTED IN A CRUISE ON THE BAY? Or how about a shelling trip or lunch cruise?



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Come out to beautiful Captiva Island. Explore our amazing “out islands” and watch dolphins in the wild. First class tours and expeditions. Customized private charters. Captiva Cruises Will be Your Vacation Highlight! 239-472-5300


GET DOWN. HERE. Everyone’s Favorite Downtown Fort Myers River District


ART WALK Every 1st Friday (6-10pm)

MYSTERY WALK Every 2nd Friday (6-10pm) Seasonal

MUSIC WALK Every 3rd Friday (6-10pm)

PET WALK Every 4th Friday

(6-8pm) Seasonal

SPECIAL EVENTS Car Cruise-In, Bike Night, Downtown Countdown, St. Patrick’s Day, Holiday Stroll, Creative ARTs Market, Downtown Farmers & Arts Market, Freedom Fest, Veterans Day Parade

The River District Alliance would like to thank our sponsors, volunteers and event donors who make Downtown Fort Myers rock!



on the cover

TheGleckner family enjoys a late afternoon walk along Fort Myers Beach. Photograph by Milissa Sprecher Photography

in this issue


TAKE FIVE It’s turtle season and business is booming! Dr. Heather Barron of CROW and Kelly Sloan of SCCF tell us why. HAPPENINGS Hurray for the red, white and boom! Celebrate the Fourth in style across Southwest Florida. COASTE CALENDAR It’s SW Florida’s premier event calendar, so mark your calendar for all the entertainment, electricity and fun headed your way. BUZZWORTHY He’s been named one of the top 50 blues guitarists of the last 100 years — and he’s from Fort Myers!

10 ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Playing the drums at age two, the guitar at age four, and he’s writing and recording his first blues album at age 14.


Your guide to the very best places for sand, surf, sunshine and fun. Pack your sunblock and let’s go!


The art of the short story comes to COASTE with our new fiction section. Meet Ruby and the stories of her life.

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artist in residence


W hen Johnny Jensen was two years old, his parents gifted him a blue Smurf guitar. Now, this wasn’t one of those press a button and it plays an obnoxiously loud tune that drives parents nuts guitar — nope, this baby came to this toddler equipped with four strings and no instructions. So imagine John and Gina Jensen’s surprise when their young son actually began to play a song, or two, or three — tunes he had heard around his house, or at the stage to be found at Jensen’s Twin Palm Cottages and Marina Resort, where Uncle Jimmy and his band, The Troublestarters, would often play on weekend evenings, among locals and guests with Pine Island Sound in the background. Yup. It all started for Johnny Jensen not much after he was walking and talking. And today, at all of 14 years of age (he’ll turn 15 in September), this young man who only learned to read music a few years ago has found his passion — the blues — and is hoping to finish recording his first album of original music by the end of this summer.

Some people have used words like prodigy in describing Johnny’s talent, but his mother is not one of them. “While he’s certainly been given a gift, we know how challenging the music business is.” She pauses, then smiles. “But he can get there.” As for Johnny, getting there is something that he readily admits to wanting. “Yes, I wanna be a rock star,” he laughs when asked.

If not prodigious, the path to getting there for Johnny Jensen might then be called phenomenal. Following his Smurf guitar, he was given a toy drum set at the age of four. Quickly thereafter, he showed his versatility by channeling Keith Moon and John Bonham, two of his favorite drummers from two of every four-year-old’s fave bands, The Who and Led Zeppelin. “He loved those drums,” his mother recalls. “He heard a song and he started playing it. It was immediate. And then I began to wonder: are all kids doing this?” She laughs. The answer, of course, is no. “He heard a song and he started playing it. It was immediate. And then I began to wonder: are all kids doing this?” A multi-dimensional artist by the age of five, Johnny would occasionally accept an invitation to join a band playing at Jensen’s Marina in Captiva, or go solo between sets — with one of his first accomplishments Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” (taking both guitar and vocals). But in his early years as he entered Sanibel School and began to work with its music directors, his first love of percussion took back stage to guitar, where he wowed annual talent show crowds to “Stairway to Heaven” and other favorites. Still playing it all by ear.

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It wasn’t until sixth grade (just two years ago, mind you) when he finally learned to read music upon taking guitar lessons at Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers, and joining the Sanibel School’s choir. Subsequently, his vocal skills have earned him acceptance into the Florida All-State Choir these past two years, a select group of 100 very gifted voices from across the state. The word prodigy certainly comes to your mind, but his mother would prefer it didn’t. And then, along came the 2017 Sanibel Blues and Jazz Festival this past November, and an invitation to take the stage as opening act. Within a week, Johnny had mastered four blues songs and suddenly discovered his passion. “I love the classic blues, all the way back to Robert Johnson and Freddie King,” he says. “But now that I’m writing my own music, I’ll mix in some funk and jazz too.” Currently, Johnny’s written six songs and recorded four for his yet untitled debut album being produced by Uncle Jimmy at Barefoot Studios in Sanibel. Dolphin Bay Records in Michigan, owned by a family friend, will be responsible for distribution. Also in the near future, besides upcoming graduation from eighth grade, Johnny’s booked for two gigs at his marina home base, plus a performance alongside Brent Moyer, a family friend and Broadway “Ring of Fire” star, June 18 in Nashville at Brown’s Diner, the


Southwest Florida International Blues Challenge in August, and a return engagement to this year’s Sanibel Blues and Jazz Festival. Guitar at the age of two. Drums at the age of four. Accomplished at piano. A voice among the top 100 in Florida for his age. Hundreds of songs mastered by watching videos or attending hundreds of concerts with his parents — without even one parent who plays a lick of music. The word prodigy certainly comes to mind, but Gina Jensen would prefer you didn’t. “I want to ensure that he’s educated along with musically trained, but he has to do what he loves,” she says. “There are a lot of complications that can arise in life, and I want him to have a good head on his shoulders.” True to form, Johnny Jensen takes a more mature perspective and agrees with his mom — to a degree. “If it’s not music, I want to be a litigator,” he says. “But I bond with guitar and drums. { }

take five

“Four Record Breaking Seasons the Last Four Years” Southwest Florida’s remarkable quality of life is defined by our area’s many unique assets and attributes — prominent among them, the variety and beauty of wildlife that inhabit our coastal paradise, from sea to land to air. From May through October, nowhere are these efforts more visible than along the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva, where literally hundreds of sea turtle nests appear almost daily, identified by organizations and volunteers who quickly flag the nests to protect them from inquisitive humans, and guard them as best they can from animal predators. The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), along with the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), are two very cooperative partners in this mission (along with similar local and national organizations). Led by biologist Kelly Sloan (right), Sea Turtle Coordinator at SCCF, along with Dr. Heather Barron (left), Hospital Director at CROW, Southwest Florida’s barrier islands are seeing record numbers of sea turtle nestings now four years in a row. Together, they TAKE FIVE with COASTE and share their enthusiasm over this very positive conservation story, and how all of us can help.

{ } { }

Photo by John Sprecher


What is the role of the Sanibel CaptivaConservation Foundation relative to sea turtles? Ms. Sloan: “Our primary efforts focus on sea turtle nest monitoring and protection. We have more than 100 volunteers who assist us throughout turtle season, May 1 to October 31, patrolling the beaches every morning looking to identify nests, place protective screening on top of the eggs to prevent mammalian predation, and conduct hatch evaluations. We’re also on the beach at night tagging turtles to study life history and migratory patterns. On Sanibel, we’ve had record breaking nest counts the last four years in a row.” What is the role of the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife? Dr. Barron: “CROW is the only licensed sea turtle facility between Sarasota and the Florida Keys to care for, or even touch, sea turtles. Obviously we’re here to help any turtle harmed by red tide poisoning, hook and line issues, boat strike traumas or other needs. But we also work with Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation and other organizations, along with our communities and leaders, to educate the public on turtle protection.” And the results have been outstanding recently? Ms. Sloan: “Four record breaking years the last four years. Last season, that totaled 650 loggerhead sea turtle nests and 33 green sea turtle nests on Sanibel Island alone. Last year at least 44,000 hatchlings emerged from nests on our beaches — over than 20,000 more than ever before! Prior to 2013 there were very few green sea turtles on the west coast of Florida. The increase we’ve seen in the past five years is very exciting; we really don’t know where they’re coming from or where they’re going from here but we have learned a lot with our satellite telemetry project.” Why are these efforts so important to the turtle species? Dr. Barron: “Females will nest multiple nests in a season, sometimes up to three clutches of maybe 100 eggs each. Of these, only one or two turtles will survive to birthing maturity, which is in the teens of years. Therefore, it’s vital we do all we can to enable these wonderful creatures to nest safely, and see their hatchlings return to the sea, and when needed provide the care injured or sick turtles need to recover and return to their habitat.” What can we as residents and guests do to help? Dr. Barron: “If you live on or near the beach, move anything like chairs, boats, toys or other items that might impede a turtle’s journey inward; it’s also a law. Dogs and cats should be leashed so they don’t harm nests. Don’t ever mess with a nest. And never approach a nesting turtle, you’ll likely scare it off.” Ms. Sloan: “I think our area does an amazing job of making wildlife a priority, but with the high visitor turnover, we have to work hard to keep educating everyone. Artificial lighting is one of the biggest threats to sea turtles on our beaches, so remember to turn off all lights that are visible from the beach.”







Our Guide to the Many Perfect Places in Southwest Florida You Can Plant Your Toes in the Sand

By A s h l e y Goodma n


Pack you r b each towel . sunscr een , umb r ella . and stay awh i le .

Southwest Florida beaches have something for everyone. Whether you’re basking in the summer sun (safely), shelling or staying active, our beaches offer visitors some of America’s favourite family vacation destinations, and locals the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the working week. Ready? Let’s go — the water’s just fine!

Sanibel and Captiva Islands Because of its geography that curls east-west instead of north-south like most other islands, Sanibel is known as the Shelling Capital of the World. Home to over 250 species of shells, common sightings on both Sanibel and Captiva include lightning whelks, conchs, banded tulips and limpets. Rare shells are the junonia and alphabet cone — and if you’re lucky enough to find one, you may just get your picture in one of the papers on the island. Locals will share that some of the best spots for shelling are Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel’s east end (and home to the island’s 130-year-old beacon) and Bowman’s Beach (a mid-island must-do for families and fisherman), as well as Blind Pass at the threshold to Captiva Island. Want to end your day with a Captiva sunset, called the Most Romantic in America by Travelocity? Park at Alison Hagerup Beach at the north end of Captiva (where the road ends) for one of the best views anywhere. The bridge toll to the islands is $6 per car, with beach parking on Sanibel and Captiva is $5 per hour. SANIBEL-CAPTIVA.ORG


Fort Myers Beach Earlier this year, TripAdvisor named Fort Myers Beach a top beach destination and it’s easy to see why. Like many beaches along Southwest Florida, Fort Myers Beach boasts breathtaking sunsets, bleached white sand beaches and calm, shallow waters. For those looking to do a little more than just work a tan, Fort Myers Beach offers ample opportunities for adventure, You can get up close and personal with nature at Matanzas Pass Preserve, go back in time by planning a trip to the historical Mound House or take a sightseeing cruise. And don’t forget to enjoy a walk on the Fort Myers Beach pier to end your perfect sugar-sand day. FORTMYERSBEACH.ORG

Lovers Key State Park Lovers Key State Park is just one of the four barrier islands six miles south of Fort Myers Beach. The dreamy name is an ode to a legend of lovers who secretly escaped to the island by boat before roadways were built in 1965. The park, which is nestled between Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, is made up of 712 acres and an almost amazing two-mile-stretch of unspoiled beaches. A concession stand on the island allows beachgoers to rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, beach chairs and umbrellas. The entrance fee for the park is $8. FRIENDSOFLOVERSKEY.ORG

Bonita Beach Just a fewmiles south of Lovers Key State Park, you’ll find Bonita Beach. Bonita Beach features sparkling waters, sand dunes and coastal vegetation. The beach features a canoe and kayak launch, volleyball nets, jet skiing and parasailing, a playground for the little ones and picnic areas. A bus and trolley service is also available to beach-goers. Parking is $2 per hour. BONITASPRINGSCHAMBER.COM


Cayo Costa For those seeking seashells, sun and solitude, Cayo Costa State Park is a beach lover’s dream come true. The only way to get to this state park — located between North Captiva Island and Boca Grande — is by water, be it personal boat or tour. The remote island is made up of 2,426 acres and nine miles of pristine beaches making it the perfect place to enjoy fishing, bird watching, hiking, snorkeling or just to relax. Want to stay longer than the day? No problem. Cayo Costa State Park offers nightly cabin rentals and camping sites. Entrance to the park is only $2. FLORIDASTATEPARKS.ORG/PARK/CAYO-COSTA.COM

Boca Grande Located on Gasparilla Island on the far north of Lee County, Boca Grande features five beaches and offers guests a small town charm. From April to August, tarpon fishing calls anglers from around the world. After a beach picnic, make sure to plan a trip to the newly restored Gasparilla Island Lighthouse which guests are now able to climb. The lighthouse is located at 220 Gulf Boulevard. There is a $6 causeway toll to access Boca Grande. BOCAGRANDECHAMBER.COM

The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Center conveniently sits just as you arrive on Sanibel Island— second driveway on the right. It’s where you’ll find everything necessary for a blissful time and don’t forget the essential Visitor’s Guide , a complimentary magazine- style guide to planning an unforgettable visit. | 239-472-1080 | 1159 Causeway Road | Sanibel, Florida

Representing nearly 800 members, The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce provides opportunities to participate in a variety of meaningful networking, educational and community- and business-focused programs and events. Call today to learn how you and your company can play an active role in the community while driving business leads. | 239.332.3624 | 2310 Edwards Drive | Fort Myers, Florida



By John Sprecher

RED, WHITE AND OOOOOH. Few things are more American in experience and feeling than the Fourth of July — and here in Southwest Florida, the opportunities for a family friendly, fun filled holiday are as diverse and spectacular as, well, this summer holiday is long. Up and down our beautiful Gulf of Mexico coast, and in one community after another across Lee County and beyond, you can cheer on — or even join in — Fourth of July parades that, in many instances, retain the small town charm of American birthdays gone by. Throughout the day, you’ll find resorts, restaurants, attractions andmore welcome sponsors of fishing tournaments, barbecues, races and more — or, if you prefer, the perfect spots to just relax and enjoy the festivities. And then, of course, there are the fireworks that light up the sky, often all the more spectacular when illuminated over water (or viewed from the water). Where will you celebrate your country’s 242 years of democracy and freedom? Here are a few suggestions on how and where to make your plans. Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce



H ow I most remembers the Reverend Cartier J. Trumane is the enormous size of his hands. I was thirteen years old. We was livin in Tampa Florida then. The year was 1958. My Aunt Nattie come get us all the ways in Detroit in her station wagon after our flat burn down and we sleep in a shelter for a week. That was the last time I seen Detroit, never went back and I don’t ever wanna, on my knees lookin out that big back station wagon window, we was far away but you could still see the tall office buildings and thunder clouds hangin over the city like smolderin smoke. Aunt Nattie was a nurse at a VA hospital, that stands for Veteran Administration. She was older than Mama by two years and got a diploma from college. She the only person in our family ever go to college. Mama, she was smart as Aunt Nattie but she marry Daddy outta high school and went to work at the restaurant until, well, until Daddy got shot. I think that’s when Mama walk away from the church, it was Baptists, though I was so young I don’t remember really. Then came Roy, but he went to prison when he saved me by killin Oz, that been almost two years now, and thereafter is my guess whenMama stop believin in the Lord Jesus altogether, though at the time all I knowed was boozin and cryin and yellin at Ruthie’n me. I know today as a woman where that bitterness come from but as a chile, of course, you think it you. Thessalonians teaches we to always be thankful no matter what, that whatever come is God’s will for our life, so maybe in her heart Mama never had real, Holy Spirit faith cause she lose it so quick. What I ain’t ever understood however is why she lose her purpose. Weren’t me and Ruthie purpose? Aunt Nattie took us in. She had a extra bedroom in her house which was Isaiah’s, so I guess it weren’t extra really, cause Isaiah he hadda go sleep with baby Ephraim thereafter. I doubt today as an adult that Uncle Sewell was joyed at sharin his home with his sister-law and kids, but he never said nothin that I heared, and he always had a big hug for Ruthie’n me whenever we needed it,

which was often then as I recall. We all lived in their one story yella house on 28th Avenue and Lexington Street. It was a old neighborhood in the black part, long potholed streets lined with cinder block houses, pretty much every one dentical cept for what color, with little front yards that was mostly dirty white sand and clumps a that scraggly Florida grass or whatever it is. Some had flowers in the front, some bushes. A lot a them was dried up dead, like a desert. A few lucky houses had big old trees. The sidewalk was broken in many places, sometimes chunks was missin you could twist a ankle in. Most of all I remember it bein hot. It was summer when we come and it was hot in the days, white hot like to blind you, but when you felt it most of all was nighttime, when you tryin to sleep but the air don’t move, and there’s bodies sticky nexta you, like Mama and Ruthie and me was on this queen size mattress bought special for us. Sometimes I’d roll off and put my pillow on the floor, feel that cool floor on my sweaty skin and fall asleep right there, hard and uncomfortable as that floor was. That’s what I remember too, that cool. Our back yard had a chain link fence round it. Behind us live this tiny nasty black’n white little dog. We come out to play, that dog’d jump up and tear right after us, all ferocious nasty barkin like to eat you alive, till it run outta chain and snap! it head go back. At first I was afraid but then after I sees that it could only get so far, I’d brave up to that fence once in a while to see if it calm down once it got to know me. It never did. It was just mean. We had a little block patio with weeds growin between the blocks. Uncle Sewell had a barbecue grill that I recall he liked to stand over, I picture this large man lookin down into smoke. There was a old white picnic table that needed paint. Next to the patio was a little round yellow inflatable baby pool. Every mornin Aunt Nattie would step her bare foot down on one a them yellow inflatable sides, let the dirty water drain, rinse it clean with the hose and filler up again. There weren’t much room left when the four a us kids all

got in that pool, but I remember it happy. Most of all I remember sittin in that warm water splashin with little Ephraim, the boy was always naked. Once in a while he’d poop an we all hadda get out, and Aunt Natttie’d hafta start over. Uncle Sewell worked at a Bentmann’s nearby on 14th Avenue, that’s a grocery store. He was a butcher. He went to work early cause he always be gone when I would wake up. Every afternoon the station wagon pull into the driveway, and just a few minutes later it be gone again, Aunt Nattie off in her ironed white uniform to the second shift at the hospital. Mama never got outta bed much them first weeks. I think she decided she just didn’t wanna get up no more, you could see it in her eyes, like there was nothin left inside. I knew it wasn’t the rum cause Aunt Nattie warn her when she pick us up in Detroit, right there in front of Salvation Army before we drive away, there’d be no more a that, and I knew it wasn’t whorin that was makin her tired cause Mama didn’t go out at night like she useta, leavin Ruthie an me alone in the flat. Of course there was Uncle Sewell now to keep an eye on all a us too, sittin in his recline chair in the front room listenin to this new kinda music that he liked so much on the black radio. Me bein the oldest, Uncle Sewell soon made me his helper girl. It was my task to put Ephraim down in his crib after Uncle Sewell pin his diaper, then I’d help him give Isaiah and Ruthie their bath. As they was only a year apart, Ruthie was eight then, they was pretty big to share a tub and mosta the water wound up on the floor. Every night Uncle Sewell would remind em to keep the water in, and every night after I put a towel to Ruthie I’d mop up that floor. Following they got underwear on before we’d all go into the boys’ room to say prayers, which would commence only when Isaiah finally settle down in his bed. I remember Uncle Sewell would pray for each a us by name, for angels to watch over us, Mama and Aunt Nattie too. Mama never heard those prayers. Every night when I walked Ruthie into our

bedroom down the hall, she had already given up on the day and was curled in a ball asleep. That lasted about three weeks, I believe. All of what transpired thereafter started the first Sunday in September, the Labor Day holiday, which was also the first weekend since we in Florida that Aunt Nattie didn’t volunteer for double shift at the hospital to earn back what she lost when she take the week off to come get us, which is the reason altogether everything that happen happened. Bein a pious Christian woman, and Sunday bein the Lord’s day a worship, Aunt Nattie let it be known Saturday night that we was all goin to church, and that this included Mama. I remember sittin at the picnic table, watchin and waitin for Mama to laugh derisive or utter profanity or jus go off to sleep. Instead she jus push her vanilla ice cream around with a fork, which had melted into a thick puddle aside the cake she hadn’t eaten either. There ain’t no ifs ands or buts about it when it come to your sister and church, Uncle Sewell tell Mama when Aunt Nattie gone inside with dirty plates. You know that. I know that. Then Uncle Sewell, he was sittin across from Mama, he kinda leaned closer. Now you do this tomorrow, he says in a way like there ain’t no question. Understand me, Florence? So Sunday morning I wake up, and Mama ain’t in bed with us. My natural instinct is to quick look for Ruthie. One night when Mama didn’t come home in Detroit, Ruthie had got up before me, somehow undone the locks and was already two flights down headed for the streets before I found her. She wanted Mama. But thank God we wasn’t in Detroit, and thank God there was Ruthie too, still asleep on our mattress, cuddlin her snuggle bear. It’s amazing how quick one’s mind can go off in a panic. I musta sat up in that bed a minute feelin my heart pound in my chest, graspin for air like I been runnin, when the door opened and in walk Mama. She flipped the light switch on the wall, looked at us, then walked away, didn’t say good morning or nothin.

I seen that she was already dressed up, a navy blue skirt and pale blouse that I later learned Aunt Nattie had bought her. She left the faint sweet odor a Aunt Nattie’s perfume in the room. Love of God Christian Church was about a ten-minute ride. I got to sit in the front, between Uncle Sewell an Aunt Nattie, who was bouncin baby Ephraim on her lap. Fact, it was the first time all of us was in the car together as I could recall. I turned round to look at Mama only once, when Aunt Nattie discipline Ruthie and Isaiah for jumpin like maniacs in the back seat. She was starin out the window like she was admirin the weather, however she didn’t look happy at all. She paid no mind to the bouncin children or their admonishment. I guess not having been in no church in my chilehood’s memory, I pictured that we was gonna pull up to this large, beautiful building with a tall, white steeple that would reach way up to the sky, bells ringin and choirs singin and all that. Instead Uncle Sewell turned the Dodge into what look like a old hardware store or some kinda fix-it place, with big plate glass windows all across the street front. Above them windows, mounted over the door, was a hand-painted, black and white sign that spell “Love Of God Christian Church” with a fancy cross. In smaller letters below were the words “Reverend Cartier J. Trumane” on the left, and “Sunday 10:00” on the right. We walked in, and that’s when my life changed forever.The place was full up with nice-dress folks, sittin close in row after row a old gray folding chairs. It was very warm and stuffy. The men all wear ties and a lotta ladies wore pretty hats. I seen many children too. Lotsa people was fannin themselves with the paper programs they got when they come in. There was this kinda low hushed excitement that I could feel. Somewhere was a piano playin softly. Up front in the center I could see a table, draped with white cloth, which I would come to know was a altar, upon which was candles and flowers and a tall, shiny brass cross. Then the music stopped and the room fell

silent. I was sittin at the end of our row, which was near the back, nexta the center aisle. Mama was aside me, aside her was Aunt Nattie, holdin Ephraim, then the cousins gigglin, then Uncle Sewell way down shushin them best he could. Suddenly the piano took up again, this time bangin out a up-tempo Gospel song like I heard the other night on Uncle Sewell’s radio. Folks began to clap in time to the music. The Reverend Cartier J. Trumane enter from the rear a the church. Even at thirteen years, I could tell he was a powerful good lookin man. He wore a flowin black robe that shined like silk drapes. He traveled slowly, helloin people with a smile or a nod, sometimes pausin to shake a hand, which he did with my Aunt Nattie. That was the first time I noticed the huge size a his hands, when he reach across me into our aisle and place em both around her slender right wrist. He did the same to Mama, then touched Ephraim’s little head and my head, too. He had a beautiful, radiant smile. I reckon he hadda be bout the same as Mama’s age, which’d make him thirty-two years or so. When I happen to glance over at her, she wasn’t starin off into space no more like the ride over, or the last three lousy weeks or, Sweet Jesus, years for that matter. She was sittin up, eyeballin that preacher as he work his way toward the altar. When Aunt Nattie whispered in Mama’s ear, they both laughed quiet in that, I don’t know, lusty adult way that kids my age somehow knew was sex talk. It made me feel funny. When Reverend Trumane reached the altar, he turned to face his gathering and smiled that beautiful smile again for all a us to enjoy. He raised his large hands. The piano stopped. Good morning, he proclaimed with great enthusiasm. Good morning, the people responded. This is the day that the Lord has made, he exclaimed. A number a voices shouted hallelujah.

Let us rejoice and be glad, he sang in a jazzy soulful way. Amen, folks agreed. My Aunt Nattie agreed. What time you’re born again a chile a God, how do you explain it? I can’t. I don’t know if I was born again in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that first time I hear Cartier J. Trumane preach, or durin his Bible studies that Mama and I attended the weeks thereafter, or when he led me and Mama and them others to Hillsborough River Park that glorious Sunday mornin in October to immerse me in my eternal salvation. I only knows the Bible says that all any a us gotta do is open our heart to receive his promise, and the Holy Spirit do the rest. That’s why I still pray for Mama’s soul, God rest it, and sometimes when I think it for Reverend Trumane. What one a them done, and nobody’ll ever know fo sure who done what, it weren’t the Holy Spirit at work, not what I been taught. According to Mama, Reverend Trumane

put his large hands on her. According to Reverend Trumane, it was Mama that throw herself at him. The only thing everyone agree on, it happen on a Saturday. I wanna believe my Mama for a lotta reasons, most a all cause she my Mama. I wanna believe she’d really become a different woman, a Christian woman. I wanna believe she truly was borned again. I wanna believe she ask Uncle Sewell to get her a part-time cashier job at Bentmann’s cause she believe in herself again, or in life again, like she hadn’t since Roy. I wanna believe she volunteer every third Saturday afternoon to help set up church for Sunday mornin cause that’s God’s work, too, and God bless her to find joy and purpose in it. I wanna believe that she loved me and Ruthie. I wanna believe our life woulda been better. I wanna believe her when she plead with Uncle Sewell and Aunt Nattie that awful Saturday night after the phone ring that no, no, he’s a man a God but he’s

a liar, it was him who snuck up behind her while she was layin out communion trays at the altar, slid his big hands round her waist over her bosoms, that’s why she walk some forty blocks home instead a gettin a ride from him like always. I wanna believe Reverend Cartier J. Trumane because yes, he’s a man of God. I wanna believe him cause he taught me that although my daddy’s gone, I got God the father who loves me like his chile and watches over me. I wanna believe him cause he help me to understand that even though Mama never forgive me for Oz layin on me, or for Roy goin away to prison for fifteen to twenty-five years, however I may sin I’m forgiven because Jesus paid for my transgressions. I wanna believe that jus like it look every Sunday after worship, he was a man in love with his wife and two daughters. I wanna believe that Aunt Nattie wouldn’t lead us into the lion’s den. I wanna believe that no, he’s not a liar he’s a man a God, that when he telephone Uncle Sewell over supper that night, he was sorry but the Gospel truth was, Mama grope him when he was standin at the altar and he banish her from Love of God Christian Church, that’s why she walk home. But here’s Ruby’s cross to bear: if I’m to believe one, I must therefore not believe the other. And if I do so, I must therefore damn the other. Most times in life, unfortunately, it ultimately don’t matter if or what you believe or not. Within a month, we was on a Greyhound bus to Mobile, Alabama, where we went to live with Mama’s cousin, but that’s another story. Mama and Aunt Nattie never talk in this world again. And years later, I happen to learn by strange coincidence that Reverend Cartier J. Trumane suffered a similar accusation from another female parishioner, was defrocked this time and hung himself in his garage. In this regard, for my life, I prefer to judge not, lest I be judged.

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With inventive vocal harmonies and song-writing, supported by the sounds of acoustic strings, Passerine offers a fresh take on traditional folk and bluegrass music as well as a repertoire of original songs that range from sweet ballads to the edgier side of contemporary Americana. {} JUNE 23 | All Faiths Unitarian Congregation


“Open Doors” is an art program designed for children who demonstrate artistic interest or talent, but who also have a financial need. Each piece demonstrates personal expression, imaginative use of media, the results of close observation and an understanding of artistic processes. All exhibit sales go directly to these aspiring young artists. {} JULY 6-24 | Sydney & Berne Davis Art Center

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THERES SOMETHING IN THE WATER JULY 6-24 | Sydney & Berne Davis Art Center The group art show, “There’s Something in the Water”, features the underwater works of artists Arturo Sameniego, Mila Bridger and world-renowned underwater photographer, Bob Halstead. Come take an unique look at the underwater world through their eyes and see things you might have never seen before. {}


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familiar to you, COASTE suggestsou get yourself acquainted — because Chambers is not just a local star, but an international name on the blues stage who calls Fort Myers home (he’s Florida born). Currently he’s off on a six-month tour that’ll take him throughout the US South, Midwest and Northeast. Before grabbing his passport and making way to Europe for stops in Germany, France, Belgium and handful of other blues-loving countries, he will be performing at The Barrel Room in Fort Myers both September 8th and November 3rd.

Guitarist Magazine has named him “one of the top 50 blues guitarists of the last 100 years.” His album “Live from the Long Island Blues Warehouse” was voted the Best Blues Live Album of 2011. His last two albums, including his 2017 collection entitled “Trouble & Whiskey”, have been nominated as Best Blues Rock Albums of the Year. His producer has also recorded Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons and many other famous bluesmen. Oh, and he lives in Southwest Florida. If the name Sean Chambers isn’t


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events calendar

June-August Community Events



Art Walk | June-August First Fridays of each month from 6pm- 10pm art fans can enjoy an evening of arts, openings and more! Over 11 art galleries invite locals and visitors to a self-guided tour throughout the Downtown Fort Myers River District and Gardener’s Park area. Art enthusiasts can even meet the artists at most of the galleries and enjoy live art demonstrations!

Music Walk | June-August On the third Friday of every month from 6pm-10pm, the Downtown Fort Myers River District comes alive with local music! Numerous participating venues feature live music by local and regional talent. Restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops also showcase a wide range of music during the monthly Music Walk. Featuring jazz, blues, rock, drum circles, and piano, guests can expect to hear a wide variety of musical genres. Many venues will also feature additional attractions such as wine and food tastings. Mystery Walk | June-August Every second Friday of the month, the Mystery Walk is a festival that combines culture and different atform mediums to bring Downtown Fort Myers River District community together in an educational experience! Elements of performance, street, digital, community interactive and visual arts and music all form as one to create Mystery Walk. The mystery is that guests will never know what to expect! JUN- AUG

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