Yes, hotels are half-empty and some businesses have closed for vacations. But the reports of September’s deadness have been greatly exaggerated. Here are just a few things that happened here this month.
Sept. 2, 1947 Sarasota held its first annual Labor Day regatta. Sarasota lost the race, but the regatta lives on. Today it’s hosted by the Sarasota Sailing Squadron and is the largest such event in the Southeast, with 200 boats competing in a variety of classes.
Sept. 3, 1939 Sarasota and Manatee bought 620 acres for the new Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. The airport started with dirt runways and service from one airline. The land was used for the Army-Air Base during World War II and returned to civilian use after the war.
Sept. 6, 1926 The six-story El Vernona Hotel, designed by Dwight James Baum and built by Owen Burns, opened. Later know as the John Ringling Towers, for decades it was the center of Sarasota’s social scene and hosted visiting movie stars and celebrities. But by the 1980s it was vacant and crumbling. In 1998, it was demolished to make way for the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.
Sept. 11, 2001 President George W. Bush was reading to second graders at Sarasota’s Emma E. Booker School when an aide alerted him that planes had flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. He continued reading for a few minutes but soon departed to take off on Air Force One from the Sarasota Bradenton airport.
Sept. 19, 1944 Miss Charlie Hagerman was elected tax collector. The Herald lauded her victory for the so-called “weaker sex.” She beat her opponent 1,558 to 1,090 to became the first woman to hold elective office in Sarasota County.
Sept. 22, 1848 “The Great Gale of 1848,” now thought to be at least a Category 4 hurricane, hit Sarasota. Afterwards, settler Bill Whitaker, who weathered the storm on the mainland, walked to the bay to look for his fishing nets. Not only were they gone, but so was part of Longboat Key. He could now look through a gap in the key directly to the Gulf of Mexico. He dubbed the pass that was created “New Pass.”
Sept. 30, 1913 On the first day of kingfish season, the fishing was good at Siesta Key’s Bay Island Hotel. A four-foot, 27-pound beauty jumped 10 feet from the bay, flying over the seawall and landing on the lawn, where a startled guest corralled it.
Courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources and J. Whitcomb Rylee's Yesterday's Sarasota calendar.