From The Tribune Oct. 26, 2003

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Tribune's centennial brings out memories

Treasure Coast residents unveil treasured clippings from way back

By Anthony Westbury
Tribune associate editor

October 26, 2003

pictureA local newspaper makes history every single day it's published. We record events -- large and small, happy or sad -- that occur every day. When they are added up over 100 years of continuous publishing, you have a sizable slab of history.

For a century, Tribune readers have been clipping and saving small pieces of that history as keepsakes.

To celebrate our centennial, we asked you to unearth your treasured clippings. We received dozens of them, and we learned quite a few things in the process.

The first thing we noticed was how personal these little pieces of history are. Several of you sent in the listings of real estate transfers that mark the beginning of your home. Some sent in snippets of social news from years gone by. There are birth and death notices, even a tiny story about a 7-year-old Charles Croghan who broke his arm on North 15th Street in March 1933.

And then there were the mysterious ones. Some of you sent in pieces of newspaper that had no apparent significance -- either to us or even the descendants of the original clipper.

Cathy Odom's clipping, dated Feb. 14, 1927, falls into this category. Her mother-in-law Leola Odom, who died in 2001 at the age of 91, cut it out.

"She was a pack rat," Cathy Odom says, and no one can fathom why Leola kept this particular paper -- the front page of which contains a story about an offer from the Florida Power & Light company for a municipal power plant being turned down by the Fort Pierce City Commission.

Kathy and Tommy Gladwin sent in the winning oldest clipping -- dated June 10, 1904 -- and it taught us many things.

For starters, it's older than any of the bound editions of the paper we have at the Tribune offices. Although the Fort Pierce News began life over the Buckhorn Saloon in December 1903, we do not have copies of the first two years of the paper in our archives.

So it was especially fortunate that the Goodwins have the complete paper. The front page contains a story about Tommy's grandfather, Robert Reed Gladwin.

R.R. Gladwin was Fort Pierce's second mayor (1904-1905), and another of his grandsons just happens to be the current mayor, Eddie Enns.

R.R. Gladwin had arrived in Fort Pierce in 1897 via the railroad. He quickly became heavily involved in the affairs of the small town, being elected alderman in 1902, and mayor in February 1904 (he won by 11 votes, a fact noted by Enns at his own victory celebration in 1995 -- Enns won by 111 votes).

Gladwin owned a boatyard and dock on the river just to the north of P.P. Cobb's store. One of his employees was George Backus, the father of famous landscape artist A.E. "Bean" Backus. Backus senior later bought the business from Gladwin. The boatworks turned out many elegant wooden river craft that plied the waters of the Indian River.

Gladwin also was a partner in the Jackson, Luce-Gladwin Co. hardware store on 2nd Street. The building is still there -- it was formerly a McCrory's store and is now occupied by FPUA offices -- but the Depression put an end to the business.

In addition to being mayor, young Gladwin (35 at the time) was chairman of the school board and was instrumental in getting the city's first high school built on Delaware Avenue. He was also the fourth president of the Board of Trade (forerunner of the chamber of commerce).

In later years, he grew citrus in the Lakewood Park area and served on the County Commission in the 1930s.

The 1904 clipping also gave us at the Tribune some information that's been lost for nearly a century. The Gladwins' paper shows detailed circulation numbers for the first six months of the Fort Pierce News. It tells us that the very first edition of the paper sold 1,600 copies -- practically everyone living in Fort Pierce at the time must have bought a copy -- at 5 cents each.

The News boasted that it had the largest circulation of any newspaper in Brevard County (St. Lucie wasn't to come into being until the following year), and that it carried more advertising than any weekly newspaper in Florida.

We received several clippings from the 1920s and the 1930s, and down through the years since. Thank you for sharing your little pieces of history with us.

It's obvious that your local newspaper is an important part of your lives. We are proud to be able to serve you, and hope to be around for at least another 100 years, recording history in the making every day.

Anthony Westbury is the Tribune's associate editor. He may be reached at (772) 409-1320, or at anthony.westbury@scripps.com.

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