April 2, 1955 William Shepard To Parents

745 Oak Ave
Panama City Fla
2 April 55

Dear Dick & Dad:

We are all settled down now. Have a nice home. Lois has told you about it I suppose. It is 3 Bedrooms=one floor, on a lot about 200 x 200. The yard is wonderful for Dave & Alan. They dont come in at all, except to eat & sleep, and they are brown as berries already.

Most the work is done around the house and Im lookig forward to fishing the next month. I dont suppose it will be quite as good as Biloxi. But the water is beautiful clear.

We bought an all fibre-glass boat because of the salt water. So we are ready to vacation. I still go to Craig for 4 weeks on 1 May. so I have 4 weeks to relax and fish.

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Dad- please send the guns on down to me. Hope you can remove the old addresses and any reference to my overseas address, so they wont possibly be sent back by a mistake. Insure them for $200 apiece. And I am enclosing 10.00 for postage. If it isnt enough let me know. Should be about right.

Congratulations on reaching your 69th birthday with good health. Lois & I cant seem to find anything you would like so we want you to pick out your own present-that is what the other $5 is for.

We will write you later-Goodbye for now

Love
Bill

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.