Nov. 15-21

This week in history

From the pages of the St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent.

100 years ago | 1909

Nov. 17: Sam Rainey's left hand was badly mauled by an alligator. Queen, kept at the rear of Will Carpenter's store, was to be tied up and sent to an exhibit at an ostrich farm. But she grabbed Rainey's left arm and was rolling him on the floor when Carpenter appeared. He whacked her on the snout with an iron bar to make her release Rainey. Queen, estimated to be nearly 75 years old and 11 feet long, was "roped and tied" by bystanders and taken to the exhibit on the afternoon train.

Nov. 19: The City Council put out bids to pave Central Avenue to Ninth Street, expanding the business district westward, literally and psychologically, from "its present terminus at Fifth Street."

75 years ago | 1934

Nov. 17: Pinellas County school enrollment was 13,874. The top cities: St. Petersburg, 5,125; Clearwater, 1,637; Gulfport, 1,165. The county had 11,111 white and 2,763 black students (1,830 in St. Petersburg), and 489 teachers.

Nov. 18: Florida was ready for its "biggest and best" tourist season, with 1.5 million visitors expected at its peak. Already, 10,000 tourists had registered with the city. The Times issued its annual "mail away" edition profiling the city for prospective visitors.

50 years ago | 1959

Nov. 16: Al Lang celebrated his 89th birthday. Lang, also known as Mr. Baseball or Sunshine Al, came here from Pittsburgh around 1909 on doctor's advice. Instead of dying, he became mayor, twice, and persuaded most major league clubs to hold spring training in Florida. Lang also pushed through an ordinance making the city's benches green. (He died three months later.)

Nov. 19: Northeast Shopping Center, near Fourth Street N and 38th Avenue, celebrated its grand opening. Stores included Eckerd Drug Store, Fremac's, Colony Shop, Woolworth, Service Hardware, DeSear's Appliance and Publix. (Publix is still there.)

Nov. 21: At 10:30 a.m. 13 floats, 10 bands and 28 balloon characters escorted Santa Claus into town in the annual Christmas parade. Santa and his sleigh rode on the Times float.

25 years ago | 1984

Nov. 16: Robert J. "Bobby Joe" Long, a 31-year-old Tampa man, was arrested for the rape and murder of nine women, "leaving a trail of their bodies in ditches and fields" in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. (Sentenced to death in 1986, Long remains in prison.)

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On sale now

To order Tampa Bay Through the Times, a history of the bay area with more than 500 photos and images of historical front pages from the St. Petersburg Times, go to www.tampabay.com/store.

Nov. 15-21 11/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 9:01pm]

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