Recording 100 years of history in a 64-page book could be considered an impossible task to some. But Jim Schnur sees it as an opportunity "to whet readers' appetites.''
The author of the just-published Historic Pinellas County: A Centennial History will be a featured guest Saturday during the Pinellas County Historical Society's 34th Country Jubilee at Heritage Village.
He'll be sharing the book with the community for the first time.
"It's written for the curious individual. It's not supposed to be scholarly,'' said Schnur, special-collections librarian for USF St. Petersburg's Nelson Poynter Memorial Library and a past president of the Historical Society.
"Pinellas County has so many incredible stories that I think once people read it, they'll see the book as a tickler and want to learn more about the place we live in.''
The reader will be introduced to real-life characters like Noel Mitchell, a land developer who served as mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1920s. His nickname was the Sandman.
"Mitchell was a guy who came down from somewhere like Rhode Island (selling) saltwater taffy. His story proves anybody could come down here and make a buck,'' Schnur said.
Mitchell bought a big chunk of land in what is now considered John's Pass for $1,000 and made money taking tourists by boat from the Jungle Prada area.
"But he was your traditional promoter and huckster. You wouldn't want him selling real estate to your grandma,'' Schnur said.
There's also the story of Corey Town, a community incorporated in the 1940s. "Now the area is called South Pasadena, but back then it was really the wild, wild west,'' Schnur said.
"A group of men incorporated it so they could keep bars open past closing time," he said. "They wanted to get around the county closing laws, but then a few years later, a judge abolished (Corey Town) because he couldn't find 25 eligible voters who lived there. Basically, it was a couple of bars and a flower shop.''
There are also stories centering around Pinellas County's roots in agriculture.
"I think people don't realize how important agriculture was in Pinellas County. Most of the people under 50 have no idea how abundant the groves were, the sugar cane, the citrus groves … It's a big part of the story,'' Schnur said.
About a year ago, Schnur began holding monthly talks at Heritage Village called "Pinellas By the Decades,'' and much of those discussions can be found in the book.
"The interconnection of (the county's) history is very intriguing and came out during the lectures. I wanted this narrative to be written in a way that no matter where you live, you'll get something out of it.''
Along with Schnur, the Country Jubilee will feature about 100 artisans showing off their creations, many of them with a holiday theme.
Several entertainers, including 13-year-old Carmen Brandy of Safety Harbor, will perform at the band shell. The day will include a flea market, book sale, family activities and living history demonstrations.
Heritage Village, Pinellas County's 21-acre living history museum, includes more than 28 historic structures and features, some dating back to the 19th century.
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.