Letter June 25, 1951 William Shepard to parents

 

June 25, 1951

Dear Dad,

Better late than never. Happy “Fathers Day” I was going to get a present but didnt find anything suitable, so perhaps you can get what you need with the check.

Dick has written that you are recovering very well from your sickness. We are happy for that. She also mentioned you would be going to Canada for the summer. Be sure to take it easy and dont try any work. I know you will enjoy being up there and wish my family could go too.

Kenny and Sue are having a good time on their vacation. It would be better if we lived more in town as they dont have many other children to play with, but I do like living in the country.

David has grown a lot since you last

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saw him. He is going to be the largest one of my boys. Starting to talk now. Alan is coming out of it now, and is about average for his age. That is remarkable considering the slow start that he had. He is a very good baby, doesnt cry much or isnt much bother.

We have a new addition to the family now. Just bought a female collie pup. She is black, white and a little tan. Very quiet and intelligent. She should be fairly large by the time you folks come out for the winter.

We are planning on you and Dick spending the winter with us. I think you both would enjoy this country. When it gets time for you to come out, perhaps I can come back to help drive. Well thats about all except Happy Fathers Day again

Your Son Bill

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Dick and Dad in Florida

One major disadvantage to growing up as a military brat, is that you don’t get a chance to become attached to ‘place’ or know your relatives, because you aren’t around, or around long enough, to do so. But I am glad that in my case I do have a some great memories of extended family.

Because my dad was stationed at McCoy AFB in Orlando in the late 60s, we were able to visit with my great grandparents, Dick and Dad, several times over the few years that we lived there because they weren’t too far away. My fist real connection to family other than mom and dad.

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Dick and Dad

Although their earlier years were spent in West Virginia, Rachel ‘Dick’ and William Shepard, Sr. ‘Dad’ lived mostly in Ohio raising their family of two boys, until Dad retired from his supervisory job at the post office in the 1950s.

They had had a cottage in Thessalon, Ontario, Canada that they went to often, as early as the 1940s. (I don’t know yet if they bought it or rented it.) Below is a photograph of the cottage in Canada that gramps is always mentioning in his letters to his parents, where the fishing was fine.

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When Dad officially retired, they went down to Safety Harbor in late 1956 where they rented a place in the area until they could find the perfect winter retirement home. (We know this because their son Herman wrote a letter to them in Dec of 1956 asking how they were liking their temporary accomodations.)

By December 26, 1956 they had found their spot, and it was at this time they purchased their second vacation/retirement home at 305 7th Ave N in Safety Harbor, Florida, near Tampa. The place that we visited several times in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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So in this post I thought it would be fun to do a sort of slideshow from past to present on the house I remember visiting in Florida.

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This was probably taken about when they purchased the property in 1957. (Found in the Shepard family slide collection.)
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This is about the late 1960s, when we would be visiting.

In the above second picture you can see the tree is much taller, there are awnings added to the windows, and the front entrance/patio area is now enclosed. Everything else is pretty much the same.

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Here’s another view from the late 1960s.
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Here’s Dick in her kitchen mixing up some libations for her guests. Late 1970s or early 80s. Dad had passed away in 1973.
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Here she is with friends or family, laughing it up on the couch I remember sitting on when we visited. This was probably in the late 70s or early 80s.
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Late 70s, early 1980s? The landscaping has been changed up a bit.

Dick passed away in 1986 and the house was sold sometime later that year by her son Herman.

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Now for the shocker, here is a 2014 image of the property from Google street view:

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These are images posted in 2002 when it was for sale and the outdoor shots look pretty close to the 2014 images:

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Quite a difference from the 50s though! That kitchen sure doesn’t look the same. The property sold for $74,000 in 2002, and it is currently valued at about $185,000, for 916 sq. ft. of living space. I like the improvements, although the carport/garage doesn’t look like it has been worked on at all. (It looks like someone tried to sell it in 2015 for $225,000, but it was only on the market for a couple of months before they unlisted it.)

Because the city used crushed shells, instead of gravel, in the driveway, when we visited I would go looking for cool shells when I got bored with all the adult talk. I still have some great finds in my shell collection.

Interesting fun fact: According to the 1959 directory for Safety Harbor, Lois and William Shepard, jr. were also living at this address. My grandparents. (Hey Mom, I don’t remember you mentioning this.)

What a fun drive down memory lane.