Friday, November 24, 2017
Human Interest

Time Capsule: Madeira Beach, 1963

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Madeira Beach, 1963

"The high point of the monthly all church family night covered dish supper at Church By the Sea was a slave auction presented by the Junior Pilgrim Fellowship ..." the caption begins. A slave auction, mere months after Martin Luther King Jr. told the world "I have a dream"? On the block are Kitty Vandenvurgh and John Pickens III, 13, whose father was the pastor and mother was the auctioneer. Now 63 and living in Ocala, Pickens remembers the event. "The church had an active youth organization in those days," he recalls. There was an old house on Gulf Boulevard they called the Shack, which served as a sort of clubhouse for the youth. "Funds were always needed to do something for the Shack," Pickens says. The group did the usual spaghetti dinners and carwashes — and a few events that wouldn't stand as times changed. "Integration and desegregation were the hot topics of the day," says Pickens, but hadn't really penetrated daily life in Madeira Beach yet. "As I looked at the picture I recalled being 'sold' to an older lady in the church to do some yard work around her house," Pickens says. "After mowing her lawn and trimming some bushes, she made a wonderful lunch for me and we spent the rest of that Saturday looking at pictures of her family. She lived on Crystal Island and was a widow. . . . Madeira Beach has surely changed."

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