Olds biographer to sign books at library

Published Jan. 18, 1998|Updated Sept. 12, 2005

(ran EO edition)

Author Patricia E. Heyden will be signing copies of her new book, Metta and R.E. Olds: Loves, Lives, Labors, from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Rotary Library Reading Room in the Oldsmar Library.

Heyden is from Lansing, Mich., the hometown of the couple who founded the city of Oldsmar in the early 1900s. Her book explores more than just their adventures in Oldsmar. It touches on their private life and relationship. They were born three days apart in June 1864 and died at age 86 within one week of each other in 1950.

"There's a strong concentration on Metta Olds, the great-woman-behind-a-great-man story," said arts assistant Laure Day.

Heyden found that R.E. Olds looked to his wife for advice and support, even on the Oldsmobile car he invented.

"She would go out on the road with him when he tested cars and listen to the engine," Day said. "He depended on her heavily for her opinion."

The couple had two daughters; two other children died in infancy. They kept their home in Lansing even while exploring the potential of building a city at the top of Tampa Bay.

R.E. Olds envisioned a booming industrial town when he began building Oldsmar.

The book tells how Olds mapped out Oldsmar "with wide, shady streets, a post office, state bank, sawmill and other necessary businesses, with a church in the middle of the town. At the bay, a luxurious hotel was planned along the 10-mile beachfront."

With Olds vigorously promoting Oldsmar to Northerners, the town grew to about 800 people. But a number of setbacks prevented his dream from being realized in its early years. By the time he abandoned Oldsmar in 1923, he had invested more than $4.5-million in the community.

"Oldsmar history is pretty unique, and anybody who takes pride in the city in which they live would naturally want to learn more about its beginning," Day said. "The fact that R.E. Olds had such a big dream for Oldsmar and really saw great potential in this area should be interesting to people. He could have retired at that point and gone down in history for his accomplishments, but he wanted to continue."

A Michigan historical society asked Heyden to give a presentation on Metta Olds. Her research brought her to Oldsmar, where she spent time at the library and interviewed Mayor Jerry Beverland, who is mentioned in the book.

"Mayor Jerry Beverland, a former police officer of Oldsmar, has recorded much of its history," Heyden wrote. "He recently said, "People really chided us about our little town, but in 1982 we had a population of 4,700, and our projected population for the year 2000 is 25,000.' "

Day said Heyden's visit was a mutual idea.

"She said everyone here at the library was so helpful in giving her assistance, she wanted to return and give back to the community," Day said.

Eckerd professor's work

on display at City Hall

A new exhibit in the City Hall gallery is unlike anything the city has featured before.

The collection by artist Kirk Ke Wang is in an assortment of mediums. The most dramatic are several boldly colored oils on angular shaped wood. There are also watercolors on paper and an oil painting that includes a tube-shaped fluorescent light in the middle.

"It's very unusual stuff," said arts assistant Laure Day. "It's not like what we're used to. He explores a lot of different mediums. It's interesting to see a lot of different things coming out of one person."

Wang is an assistant professor of visual arts at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. He is a painter, sculptor and designer. He was born in China, and the exhibit reflects an Asian influence, Day said.

He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts from Nanjing Normal University, where he also taught as an assistant professor. Wang has won numerous awards, including third place in the 1985 Sixth National Art Competition in China. One of his pieces hangs in the National Art Gallery in Beijing.

In 1986, Wang came to the United States as a visiting scholar and received a second master's degree in fine arts at the University of South Florida. He has worked as an art director for a design firm in Florida and designed many public art projects for Disney World, Sea World and Busch Gardens. Since 1993, he has taught painting, drawing, computer graphics and Asian art at Eckerd College.

The Oldsmar Art Gallery is at City Hall at 100 State St. and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Financial planning is

topic at Optimist Club

The Noon Optimist Club of Oldsmar will host guest speaker John Hawver from Key West Senior Services at its luncheon Thursday. Hawver is a financial planner and will give a presentation about how to protect assets from creditors after death.

Hawver gives seminars on estate planning, particularly on the use of annuities to keep taxes low. The presentation is open to the public.

The luncheon begins at noon in the private dining room of the Hillstown II Diner at Countyline Plaza at Tampa and Racetrack roads. The cost is $5.50. For reservations, call President Katie Kalieta at 944-2674.

On Saturday, club members will be at the Oldsmar Post Office for their "Random Acts of Kindness" effort. They will be washing car windows and greeting patrons from 10 a.m. to noon.

"It's sort of grown-up Boy Scouts," said club publicity chairwoman Janet Foust. "The Optimists are optimistic, and they promote the idea of optimism or the theory of applying optimism in daily life."

Garden club to hear

presentation on orchids

Orchids and landscaping will be topics of discussion for the Top of the Bay Garden Club Monday.

Karen and Jerry Sellers from Sarasota will give a guest presentation on several varieties of the orchid family: phalaenopsis, cattleyas, cymbidiums, oncidium and paphiopedilum.

The club will also discuss the effort to landscape the entrance to Canal Park. The garden club has erected a Blue Star By-Way memorial honoring veterans of U.S. armed forces at the entrance of the park facing Tampa Road. The memorial has been moved several times but is expected to remain at Canal Park permanently, said beautification chairwoman Linda Harwell, who is leading the project.

The hostesses for the meeting will be Jean Jorgenson and Karen Dunn. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday at TECO Hall, 106 State St.

Fifth-graders named

students of the month

The Greater Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce students of the month are Preston Simmons of Oldsmar Elementary and Chris Pergola of Forest Lakes Elementary.

Preston, the son of Kelly and Preston Simmons Sr. of Oldsmar, is a fifth-grader. He is being recognized for mathematics achievement.

Chris, the son of Peter and Angela Pergola of Palm Harbor, is a fifth-grader. His award is being given for school spirit.

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