Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Famous Sunshine Benches of St. Petersburg

Florida, not Russia.  It's amazing how an old postcard can lead you into the depths of strange, useless trivia.  I went to Google and typed in sunshine benches, St. Petersburg, not really expecting much.  I figured this card was nothing more than an advertisement for a bank, First Federal Savings, painted on the one bench. Was I wrong.  St. Petersburg was once was known as the city of green benches.  Way back when, in the first decade of the twentieth century, a local real estate agent put a couple of green benches in front of his office.  They became so popular with passers by, that in 1916, the St. Pete city council decided to install benches all over the downtown business district, that they all had to be green, and they all had to be the same size.  Now I can't imagine that sitting on a bench, next to parked cars, in Florida, especially in the summer was a pleasant experience, but it seems my imagination is a bit faulty on this one.  But unforeseen problems do have a habit of rearing their ugly head.  It seems that the benches attracted the wrong sort of people.  No, not criminals.  Not drug dealers.  Not unruly teens, smoking and making rude comments to proper young ladies.  The benches attracted the elderly.  Old people sitting in the sun, not spending money.  Just imagine, old people in Florida!  In the early sixties, someone on the city council came up with the bright idea of painting the benches in pastels.  Surely orange, yellow, and pink benches would attract shoppers with money to spend.  Didn't work.  In 1967, by order of the city, all the benches were removed.  The old people did not go away.  And that is how civilizations fall.

The message on the back, "Feb 12th Hope you are feeling fine again from your opperation the 16th we are going over to visit the Pedricks.  I am having a nice time and feeling fine.  We are having a lot of rain. Love Aunt Irene."  Mailed to "Mr. & Mrs. B. J. March & Buddy, Road, Schwenksville, R.D. 2, Pa."  And the postmark, "PINELLAS PARK, FLA  FEB. 13, 1964"

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