Title: Interview with Banty Saunders (March 12, 1968)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006733/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Banty Saunders (March 12, 1968)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: March 12, 1968
Spatial Coverage: 12111
St. Lucie County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00006733
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'St. Lucie County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: SL 11

Table of Contents
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Full Text

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St. Lucie Tape ##4
Banty Saunders
March 12, 1968
Page 1

I don't know whether how many of you know Fuller Warren when he was

governor but when he was governor he got pretty much confused over

there and one Saturday afternoon he went over to Blountstown, his old

home and he somehow or other picked up a piece of walking down

the road and passed by an old farmer house there that knew him and he said,

"Fuller, what's the matter?" He says, "I'm confused, that's what's the

matter with me." He says, "What's the matter.?" He says, "Well, I'm

confused." He says, "Well, what's the trouble?" He says,"Well, I don't

know whether I lost a mule or found a piece of ." So I

brought the same piece because I'll tell you what my problem is. Accidently

I have applied today some of the oldest picture in St. Lucie County and

they're really worthwhile, and when U say it I mean it, because I thought

I spent some time picking up some picture I was going to bring

down and show you on the side, but I left mine at home. Now it's up

to you whether you want to see those pictures or listen to me because

I really can't tell you much more that Mr. Healy told you, but only that

you're going to have to make a decision because there's a whole lot of

them and they're going to have to be identified. That's the sad part

about it. I told, when I was picking up picture of my own to come down

here with I definitely made up my mind that I never want to go back to

the legislature again. But after I spent, pretty near a day looking

at pictures trying to find out who they were and when they were taken

I made a vow that if I get a chance to go to the legislature I want to

go there and pass just one bill. And that's that if anybody hands you

a picture, as a present or any other way and it isn't identified

you can just pull out your pistol and shoot them and nothing will

St. Lucie Tape t (if
Page 2

ever happen to him. Now here's all these pictures that I have here

tonight. I could hand them to you and when you would be through with them

you would know just as much about them as I had and ----------- put

the name and the date and the place. But they're not, so there, I want

you to decide, you're going to have to decide because I don't think you

could possibly stay here long enough or want to stay here long enough

to look at those pictures but if you don't want to go without

which ever you say. Talk. Well, that's that then. If you

want to stay after the, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll trot right

along with this and when I get through, those of you who want to stay

why, I'll be glad to show you the pictures 'cause I know you're really

expecting to stay tonight to see the pictures because it would be much

better. St. Lucie Coutny was created in 1905 and from St. Lucie County

since then has created Martin County, Ockeechobee County and Indian

River County. One of our oldest settlers is Alexander Bell, who was

born in Jasper Florida in 1827. He moved to Fort Pierce in 1872, homed

on Taylor Creek where now Fort Pierce Supply Company is. He had two

boys and four girls. He was very active in politics even in the old

days. He was a signer of the State Constitution the one we're working

under right now. He bought a store from Frank Smith in Old Fort Pierce

and his granddaughter told me about that the other day and I was very

anxious to hear that because I've been trying to find out where old

Fort Pierce is. Well,I wrote to historical commissions and societies

trying to find out the location of old Fort Pierce so they can make

some effort and have a museum putthere some day. But of all books I've

run up against is that some how or another they have never found out the

location of old Fort Pierce. I think there's about as many people in Fort

St. Lucie Tape ^ [

Page 3

Pierce that are here tonight that know who it is, but that don't show

you a _. I've asked our congressman to look it up and

put somebody to work and see if there's any way in the world that we can

find out where it is. But he Mrs. Frank Smith and he

and one of his sons was one our first county

commissioners. But there's a problem with beihg old and being a pioneer

because as I located tonight, it used ot be that I would call you the

names of the pioneers but there was only two people that I know of in

this county that are any older than I am and have been in this county

longer than I have, but then that means that I was awful young when

I came here and I could pull the roll pretty easy and I'm just going

to pull two of them unless they're absent and then we'll go on with

our meeting. As I said before and it's not that you have to say it but

pioneers are really rugged. And especially men and I've been trying to find

all my life to find out why my parents came down here. They came from the

upper peninsula of Michigan. Now I get very good at procrastinating so

I took the putting off for seventy five years to go back to where I was

born. And my advice to you. Don't ever do that,XTry to go back to where

you were born as soon as you can. When I went up there I knew I was

born there because I sent ahead and got a birth certicifate. I found out

I was born in wedlock at a certain time, so that fixed that, but that's

all that I had to do with Michigan. I roamed around there and I thought

that I could go out there and ask if anybody knew Banty SAunders and

they didn't know the name. I looked in the and no name in the

world you could. find but I did find out that my father had better

judgement than I thought he did because I'm glad he picked up and took

off from Michigan and come back where we are because it doesn't brag

St. Lucie Tape \\0

Page 4

about where I was. And I found out, too, why he came down here. That he

and his brother were doing pretty well in the wholesale fish business, and

it gave out and the said to me that they found out the fish business

as going out, why, they loaded the family in a boat and took off for

Florida. That's all the information you can get about it, but when he

got down here to Florida I found out why they came downthen and I've been

trying to find out ever since I've been here why people come to Florida.

There's generally three reasons. Some of them are really, in the old

days it was a health problem. My uncle had asthma and my sister had

asthma and they came down on that. That was the excuse, see. My uncle

died of acute appendicitis and my sister died because of the affects of

asthma because she never did get over it. Some, in the old days, they came

down here getting away from the law. They don't, there not doing, I

don't think there are too many coming down here now but the old

days you hear some of them talking he's saying. You say,

well, he says I'm out of state, too, but I can go back home. My witnesses

are dead. I've been talking to this club here and I made a vow, last

time I talked here that I would never talk again because I donft like

to make a vow because I can't get back in the response again, but I've

been having, the thing that I have been having to tell the people here,

what happened to the steam boats, did they get here ahead of the trade

boats, what happened to the pineapples, and what happened to the fishing

industry and what happened to the mosquitoes? Well, the mosquo'itoes

and the railroad are pretty well kept. Well, they're here but there's

not really as much of them as there used to be. And the next question

they ask me is, what did I find when I came down here? What was my most,

St. Lucie Tape # \N \

Page 5

first observation and how was I impressed with Fort Pierce. Well,

you know a little lad of three years should be very observant and learn

a whole lot. But when I got my eyes opened and found out, looked around,

I just saw three things. There was wood and plenty of wood, plenty of water

and there was plenty of mosquitoes. I could've sold the blood I donated

to the mosquitoes, I wouldn't be talking to you hear tonight. That's the

truth, but in the old days it was hard. You picture me, I'll show

you a picture after a while if you want to. When we were up a mile

north of here, we, father bought a mile north of the courthouse

if you remember where is. That's the

part of it and the other side across the railroad track is

So when they _. But there

were no roads here. There's nothing but woods and before the railroad

when we lived up there a mile north of town we could get home by sailboat,

or rowJoat or walk down the river bank. When they put the railroad in

why we could walk down the railroad. And now you can imagine what that

was to do Now I happened to be, the railroad happened to be at that time

I went to school. Tht 's where I got most of my education, walking down

the railroad tracks. But it was, i can tell you it was a lot of fun here.

We lived it up the hard way. The things I had never been able to find

out, never been able to forget, but it's really a fact. All the families

here were large families. They were supposed to have five or better. We

beat them because we had seven and until

and gotten broken hearted or something_ took a notion

to commit suicide. During that time we had no doctors or drug stores. There

weren't no and no sanity. And after that the Englishman committed

suicide. He broke the spell and you can see from that he

St. Lucie Tape #f \\'

Page 6

did a good job when he broke the spell. I want some of you to try to

figure that out.They get all Ithe modern medicine and there's plenty of

babies born and no doctors, no drug stores. There it is. We moved down

and I Mr. Healy said, I took a part in everything that was going on

The most important thing I did was I played on the baseball

team. We had a very rich land owner here a home owner named Col. Buzzee.

The jersips were manufactured at Bud's Baby Shoes.

Well he told us that if we let us call ourselves, that was his advertising

trademark and everything was three little pink-baby-boots. So he made

us, he told us if we would advertise, let, wear, he'd buy uniforms, bats,

and he had a by that time and he would take us where we

wanted to go He would just as soon daddy us if we could call ourselves

the Rosebuds. And you know, it would be a hard thing to get a team

like that, boys fiteen, sixteen years old to, about to take up with

a name like that. Well, what I used to do when I was out there, and I was

the Pepper Mattin of the team. I was jumping up and sown and letting him

have it. The Col. was over there leaning up against another one of his

buddies,kind of batting his eyes, and I look at him. I look at him and

he's just like a bound bandy rooster. Well, that was when I was fifteen

years old, and I couldn't get away from it, but I advise any of you,if

you had, well I don't guess there's too many children from this place, but

if you do have any children and do have a chance to naem them, if you give

them a nickname of Banty, it's really worth money because I tell you right

now, any of you who are in here tonight, regardless if you this is the

first time you've met me or not you will never forget if you come back

here in one year or three years or five years you'll say I know of some

St. Lucie Tape V ^\

Page 7

down there is Fort Pierce aamed Banty something. Well, that's

all you have to have. But it's really worthwhile b-ecause when you do that

you're a part of it. We have the, and the next thing I joined was the

Fort Piercband said. I had a lot of fun with that, We

played for, believe it or not, way back, way back, in 1902 we played for

auctions. We played for the first auction in Palm Beach. If I had sense

enough to bought a lot for what I could have bought it for back then I

wouldn't be talking to you bere tonight. I'd be just fooling around.

But the part that Fort Pierce started, of course, was fishing. It went good

for a while and pineapples was good for a while and then it was really

worthwhile. But the people of Fort Pierce, in this community seemed to be

able to play ahead of the game. When they saw that fishing was getting

out and pineapples were giving out they started planting 'igoves. And

of course they went from groves to tomatoes and from then on we've been

doing all right. And I think that one of the things, I had a very

I've been very disturbed about the world affairs. And I've been very

unhappy about it, but I've been thinking about what I could do about it.

And I realize that I certainly couldn't do very much. But then I thought

I would do a little thinking about St. Lucie County. You'd be surprised

When I analyzed St. Lucie County, the condition they're in now, with their

city commissioners and county commissioners in this county, I believe this

county is being better run, better managed in every way than any place

that I would ever want to be. I watched it. I know that they're doing

such a good job that I wouldn't want to take over. I would like to have

the job in the summers, but I certainly wouldn't want the worries and

troubles they have. And I wouldn't want to try to get elected again.

You know, I want to tell you that's probably what you think I've been doing

St. Lucie Tape #l I

Page 8

but this city and county affairs and with all of it and I've observed the

way the people live and how much time they've been on somebody else.

All the different organizations tonight. There's not people here

tonight because they're all off doing something. Girl:Scouts, the Boy

Scouts, YMCA, and one thing aftekanother. The people lived here

apparently for someone else and it makes it a mighty nice place to live

because I, I started to cut the headlines out of the paper this morning

but when you come to Fort Pierce, the only thing that happens bad in

Fort Pierce is I saw a sing if we stand on, we crawl, united we crawl.

I never knew that was right thing to say but I guess you got a picture of

it and that was it. Now to make this more interesting you can either

go now or I could keep on with all this, but would you rather have me,

ask me some questions and I'll try and answer you. If I can't answer

you I will tell you and if you don't why, we'll see how we could get this

table up and see what we can do with those pictures. What do you want

to do? Do you have any questions? Well it looks like we elected.

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