February 2016 
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

Did you realize that this is Leap Year - 29 days in February? When I realized that, it made me recall a chapter in Palmetto Leaves that was written on February 29, 1872. Harriet shares her day 144 years ago in Mandarin in "Picnicking Up Julington."

This  twenty-ninth day of February is a day made on purpose for a fishing-party. A day that comes only once in four years certainly ought to be good for something; and this is as good a day for picnicking up Julington as if it had been bespoken four years ahead. A bright sun, a blue sky, a fresh, strong breeze upon the water, - these are Nature's contributions. Art contributes two little white yachts, "The Nelly" and "The Bessie," and three rowboats. Down we all troop to the landing with our luncheon baskets, kerosene stove, tea-kettle, and coffee pot, baskets of oranges, and fishing reels. Out flutter the sails, and away we go. (Harriet Beecher Stowe)

So, when February 29 rolls around - take a boat on the river, grab your fishing pole, pack a picnic and "go up Julington" or find something brand new to discover in this fabulous place we call Mandarin....and think of Harriet!

Sandy Arpen

Don't Forget - Third Thursday Lecture - February 18
The Legacy of Stetson Kennedy
Stetson Kennedy - 2010
The mission of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation is "to do all that it can to help carry forward mankind's unending struggle for human rights in a free, peaceful, harmonious, democratic, just, humane, bounteous and joyful world, to nurture our cultural heritages, and to faithfully discharge our commitment of stewardship over Mother Earth and all her progeny."

Mr. Kennedy is known world-wide as an author, human rights activist and folklorist. His first book, Palmetto Country, appeared in 1942 as a volume in the American Folkways Series edited by Erskine Caldwell. Of it, folklorist Alan Lomax has said, "I very much doubt that a better book about Florida folklife will ever be written." Other books written by Kennedy include: The Klan Unmasked and Southern Exposure. According to the foundation's website, "During the 1950s, Kennedy's books, considered too incendiary to be published in the USA, were published in France by the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and subsequently translated into other languages." The Klan Unmasked chronicles Kennedy's infiltration and exposure of the Ku Klux Klan at a time when it was experiencing a resurgence in America.

Stetson Kennedy was born in Jacksonville in 1916 and passed away in 2011. For many years he lived in the Billard House, which was located at the site of the Billard Commemorative Park on Brady Road, and also at Beluthahatchee, his home in St. Johns County which is now a county park and is on the National Register of Literary Sites.
The Mandarin Museum & Historical Society presents Third Thursday Lectures quarterly in partnership with the Mandarin Community Club to educate the public about historical figures, general history and events in and around Mandarin, including the St. Johns River. It is held at the  Mandarin Community Club, which is located at 12447 Mandarin Road. Refreshments are at 6:30 pm with the presentation at 7:00 pm.

Learn more about Mandarin Museum activities at Also visit  the Mandarin Community Club website at and the Stetson Kennedy Foundation at
Volunteer Spotlight 
George DeMarino and Betty Taylor


"It was my father's doing", said George DeMarino, Master Gardener who gives much of his time to the growth and sustaining of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Kitchen Garden at the Walter Jones Historical Park. "Every Saturday as I would go out to play with my friends in Boston, I would be summoned by my dad", he said.  "I couldn't do anything before I had hoed or weeded a few rows in our garden".   
A career with the railroad took care of his financial responsibilities but the love for nature, that includes bee keeping and sea turtles in addition to gardening, has been his passion.
George has been involved at the museum since 2005, when Director Hugh Palmer solicited help from the University of  Florida Master Gardeners.  He planted the initial garden that year and has cared for it ever since. 
"Nature has played a trick on the garden", he said.  The winter vegetables should be thriving, however the warm weather and animals that frequent the small patch of collards, onions, broccoli, cabbage and sweet peas have been a major deterrent.
"Even though we aren't seeing much of a yield, we still have to take care of the garden and I much appreciate the volunteer help, particularly Peggy Reed, for consistence in watering, weeding and cultivating", said the man who is affectionately known as " the nature guy".
While George is tending the vegetables, Betty Taylor cares for the flowering plants in the Butterfly Garden. They have a similar story about how they came to love to garden.
"I believe I inherited my mother's green thumb," said Betty. "At least I started learning from her from my earliest days," she continued.
Betty came to be our gardener after meeting volunteer Janet Shelfer on a Riverkeeper cruise. "I was already an ardent lover of Florida history and was involved with the Amelia Island Historical Society, but getting involved with the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society was an easy thing to add to what I love to do", she said.
Her first project was to refurbish the Butterfly Garden which had been started as a Girl Scout Gold Award project and she has continued to make sure the plants add beauty to the grounds and food for the butterflies since then.
Both George and Betty expect to be busy once March 15 comes around. "All gardeners know - you don't plant before then," they agreed.

Keep an eye out for them. They'll be working quietly and faithfully in these special places - making our park interesting and beautiful for the public. 
Paula Suhey, Volunteer Coordinator  
Alice Stanley
Mandarin will miss Alice Stanley

We would like to extend our sympathy to Don Stanley, whose wife, Alice Stanley, a long time Mandarin resident and the last living grandchild of Walter Jones, died in January.

A Miss Aggie award winner (2009), Alice often spoke of spending time with her aunts, Aggie and Mamie, and had been very supportive when the time came to create the Walter Jones Historical Park.   Alice was a stalwart contributor to the history and value of our community, including her long-time work with the Mandarin Garden Club and we will long feel that influence.

  Paula Suhey, Volunteer Coordinator  
"Open House" at Mandarin Community Club on February 21

We are happy to share this announcement and invitation from Mandarin Community Club (MCC). We are also honored to be one of the featured organizations. We deeply value and honor our current community partnership with MCC  as well as our history and roots, which began in this historic building. Please plan to attend this event to learn more about these other important Mandarin organizations and  visit the 100- year-old Store and Post Office, right in the heart of old Mandarin. Tell your friends and neighbors....that's how it used to be done. But it's OK if you email or tweet them too!

Miss Aggie
2016 Miss Aggie Award on
 Miss Aggie Day March 5

Our annual event to honor Postmistress Agnes Jones and a woman who has also made great contributions to our Mandarin community takes place on Saturday, March 5 at the historic Store and Post Office. The Store and Post Office will be open from 12-4, with the award presentation at 1:00 pm.

It is not too late to nominate someone for this prestigious award. The deadline is February 20. Please click here to see all the information about the nomination and also the event.

See you there for the award presentation, RC Colas and a moonpie!
Enjoy Winter Celebration once more 
Many thanks to Toppy Carter and Cory Hutchcraft, volunteers at MMHS, for taking photographs and creating this beautiful video remembrance of this event.

  Click here to view.

Farewell and thank you to the
Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center

It is with deep sadness that we confirm the closing of the Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center, located at Jacksonville Landing. This wonderful museum exhibited the maritime history of Jacksonville through ship models, paintings, photographs and artifacts dating to 1562, including a large selection of U.S. Naval vessels of all kinds.  Serving Jacksonville proudly since 1987, the museum closed due to lack of financial support by the community.

When a  museum has to close, it impacts all of us. For those of us who work so hard to keep history alive, as they did, it brings fear and anxiety to our hearts as well as sadness. It is terribly difficult to keep a small museum going, even when it's existence is truly a gift to the community.

However, Director Paul Ghiotto had a positive attitude about his difficult job when he stated in his December newsletter, 

"Many people have told me that we here at the museum must be feeling emotionally exhausted and sad to see the museum come to its end. While we are sad to see the end coming we are holding up well, but thanks for the concern.  Actually, knowing that most of our models have gone to bigger and larger museums than ours makes us feel like we are a life-giving "organ (model) donor."  The JMHC will live on in other museum "bodies!"

So, we wish them farewell and we thank them for reaching out to MMHS, as well as all of the history museums in Jacksonville. As part of the closing process, all of the objects in their collection had to be returned, redistributed or sold. Most of the large models found homes with Navy museum in other states.We were very fortunate to be the recipients of several artifacts, including the name board that came off this beautiful St. Johns River steamship, the Magnolia. We also received the Civil War display of artifacts from the Columbine, a Union ship that was  sunk by the Confederates in the St. Johns, further south.  We will let you know when these items are out for the public to view.

And, we also gratefully accepted a donation of $3700 from the proceeds of the closing sale. History organizations were invited to apply for some funds to help support a project. We applied for help funding the future expansion of the museum building. This was a generous gift to us and we are indeed grateful to them.

As a happy side note, Paul has roots in Mandarin and he has become a MMHS volunteer and is already working on a special project. How fortunate we are.

Invasive Species Cleanup-up Day at 
 Walter Jones Park - Feb. 27 

Thank you to Board members Don Carter and Mike Woodward for being leaders of this invasive species removal in our park. We don't have very many air potato plants, but we have a ton of invasive fern and camphor that must GO. If you would like to help, please sign-in with them in the parking lot of the museum (11964 Mandarin Rd.) at 9 am. Bring gloves and a small pair of clippers if you have any.

Don't forget our regularly scheduled activities in February
"Music Under the Oaks"

A community jam where all are invited to play, listen, paint, or dance.

Due to expected weather that would be too cold for the instruments and listening comfortably, the jam will be suspended in  February and March for a "Winter Pause."

It will begin again on Sunday, April 3 from 2-4 pm.
"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers"

 Dr. Keith Holland and SJAEI divers continue monthly visits to Mandarin Museum in 2016.  These men  brought up  the Civil War artifacts from the muddy St. Johns River bottom. Artifacts not seen in Mandarin before are now on display.

Saturday, February 20,  from noon - 4 at Mandarin Museum
Post Office open and "Yoga on the River"

The historic Store and Post Office is back on a regular schedule - the first Saturday of every month from 12-4. Please stop by on
February 6 from 12-4.

Mark your calendars to join registered Yoga instructor, Karen Roumillat, on the Boardwalk in Walter Jones Park for a morning of gentle Yoga - all while gazing at the peaceful and beautiful St. Johns River.
Bring a mat and water.

Sunday, February 28
 at 9 am


UNDER THE OAKS MUSIC JAM - is taking a Winter "pause" due to winter weather, but will return the first Sunday in April - 2-4 pm

February 6 - Historic Mandarin Store and Post Office open - 12-4pm 
February 18 - Third Thursday Lecture - Legacy of Stetson Kennedy
February 20 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day 12-4pm
February 21 - Community Open House at Mandarin Community Club - 12-4
February 27 - Invasive Species Clean-up at Walter Jones Park 9am - 12pm
February 28 - Yoga on the River 9 am
March 5 - Historic Mandarin Store and Post Office open - 12-4pm AND Miss Aggie Day with award presentation at 1 pm
March 19 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day 12-4pm
March 26 & 27 - Easter Weekend - 28th Annual Mandarin Art Festival - MMHS will be at the Store and PO both days from 10-5.
April 3 - "Under the Oaks" Music Jam at Mandarin Museum
April 16 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day 12-4pm
April 30 - Grand Opening of the Schoolhouse - details in the march and April newsletters

Mandarin Museum (11964 Mandarin Road) is open every Saturday (except Dec. 24) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park .

The historic Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) is open the first Saturday of the month from 12-4. 
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