The second volume in Bill DeYoung’s Vintage St. Pete series is, like its predecessor, a look at local history through a decidedly different lens. Written in a breezy, entertaining style, Vintage St. Pete Volume II: Legends, Locations, Lifestyles brings together 22 stories of the city’s famous and infamous, from the well-known to the weird and the wonderful.
In the Legends section, readers will meet heroic characters like aviator Tony Jannus, who flew the world’s first passenger plane across Tampa Bay in 1914, and Captain Mac, the city’s beloved 1950s kiddie TV host. The book turns back the clock to the boom days of the 1920s, as the city’s opulent hotels – the Vinoy Park and the Don CeSar – begin to rise against the skyline.
How did the Sunshine Skyway Bridge get built? Find out here.
Then there’s the story of smooth-talking John 3:16 Cook, who blew into town preaching fire and brimstone in the 1970s, and after a few troublesome years was literally tossed out.
Locations is all about the movie, television and music industries and their St. Pete dalliances over he decades, from film shoots (Strategic Air Command, Ocean’s 11, Magic Mike) to TV episodes (Route 66) to rock star mini concerts (Bob Dylan at the Belleview Biltmore, Tom Petty on the Don CeSar roof). John Candy’s classic comedy Summer Rental – lensed on St. Pete Beach in 1985 – is remembered, fondly, through the words of his co-star, Largo native Karen Austin.
Several of St. Pete’s most iconic neighborhood movie theaters get the in-depth treatment, too, including the Playhouse, the Royal and the Beach.
In the Lifestyles section, readers will discover the city’s once-thriving dinner theater scene, the disastrous Florida Aflame outdoor drama that nearly bankrupted Pinellas County, and two long-gone and little-remembered tourist attractions, the Florida Wildlife Ranch and Criswell’s Money Museum, each of them run by local residents with oversized personalities.
With more than 100 photographs, many in full color, Vintage St. Pete Volume II: Legends, Locations, Lifestyles is a page-turning look into the city’s multi-faceted past – the stuff you knew, and the stuff you didn’t know.
From the forward by Mayor Rick Kriseman: “St. Pete’s early reputation as a resort town and the subsequent marketing campaigns that promoted our region and city’s sunny climate may lead some to overlook just how rich and textured our history is. Bill DeYoung gets it, and he’s captured it time and again.”
In the photo above: June Allyson and Jimmy Stewart in the opening scene of 1954’s Strategic Air Command, filmed at Al Lang Field in St. Pete.