November 22 2017
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
 Thanksgiving in St. Augustine A stew of salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning, hard sea biscuits and red wine may not seem like lip- smacking fare for a Thanksgiving feast today, but then newcomers arriving safely in an unfamiliar tropical land might be more focused on giving thanks than feasting. So it was September 8, 1565, as Spain’s Pedro Menendez de Aviles and 800 settlers celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and invited the native Timucuan tribe who occupied the landing site to dine with them, according to the late University of Florida History Professor Michael Gannon. Today’s dinners are more “todayish,” and among the free offerings are Hope & Deliverance Ministries’ 15th  Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner 10 am -  2 pm November 23 at the Ketterlinus gym on Orange Street, and a community dinner 11 am - 3 pm at First United Methodist Church on King Street.  Image: Norman Rockwell
History’s highlight 1837 escape – mysteries remain In the southwest angle of the Castillo de San Marcos, there is a slit in the coquina wall high above the  moat. Through this small opening, 18 Seminole warriors and two squaws made a seemingly impossible  escape November 29, 1837.  Preamble to Escape, in St. Augustine Bedtime Stories A Board of Inquiry, meeting the following day, could find no fault or evidence of assistance, and the mystery has never been solved. But that’s just one mystery. Those slits in the fortress’s thick southwest coquina walls were not part of the original architecture but installed by the British during their occupation 1763-84. And they weren’t to allow weapons to be fired out from the fortification while the firer remained under cover. “The slit windows in the Castillo's west wall were added for ventilation,” says Castillo Volunteer Coordinator Jill Leverett. “The British took over the fort, and all of Florida, in 1763, and they quickly started making changes. “When Colonel James Robertson, the Quartermaster General in North America, was tasked with inspecting the fortifications at Pensacola, Mobile, and St. Augustine in September 1763, he found the rooms designed to house soldiers were stifling. “To ventilate the casemates, he suggested the addition of loopholes in the fort’s outer walls. General Jeffrey Amherst, the British Commander in Chief of North America, gave approval for the recommended alterations. “A letter written in January 1766 to Major General Thomas Gage, the Commander in Chief of British forces in North America, stated that “[t]he casemates in the Front to the westward, have loop holes through the curtain, and from the height of the arches and the draught of Air through them, may I hope conveniently be applied to the purpose of Barracks.” “During the second Spanish period, the Spanish added two vertical bars to each loophole in 1799, likely as a safety measure.” Back to the escape mystery, Leverett says, “Unfortunately, I cannot identify the loophole through which Coacoochee escaped, because we honestly do not know for sure! “The Army records of the imprisonment are not terribly clear, and their description of the incident only says that the Seminoles ‘made their escape from a room in the South-Western angle of the fort.’ There are at least three rooms that could be interpreted to be ‘in the South-Western angle’ of the Castillo, one of which is popularly known as the ‘Osceola Room.’” “ However, Coacoochee's description of the room from which he escaped does not match up with the ‘Osceola Room,’ and the Army records don't really match it either. “There are a lot of contradictions and discrepancies in all the various stories about the Seminole escape, so we really can't say with 100% certainty how they got out, only that they did.”  Photo: Loopholes in Castillo ramparts
Resident parking program is nearing A residential permit parking program nears consideration by the City Commission after a second public workshop last week. Mobility Program Manager Reuben Franklin described a zone system known as the 60/50/25 rule. A petition for resident-only parking by at least 60% of households on a block, followed by a city survey that 50% of on-street parking is used and 25% or more of parked vehicles are not registered to a resident on the block. No mention of how long the survey process would take. In a June workshop, Franklin said the city would study an area four days a week over nine months. Under current rules, persons with a residential parking permit can park in any city resident-only. Under the new system, only residents with area-designated passes will be able to park in that designated zone. Franklin’s presentation with FAQs is here. 
Context Advisory Committee being formed for monument While St. Paul AME Pastor Ron Rawls continues his call – and rallying supporters – for removal of two Confederate monuments in the historic district, the city has issued a call for volunteers to serve on a Confederate Memorial Contextualization Advisory Committee. The City Commission at its October 23, 2017 meeting decided the Confederate Memorial in the Plaza de la Constitución should remain, but with signage placing it in historical context. The second memorial is in the West courtyard of the Governor’s House, under the control of the University of Florida which oversees state-owned historic properties here. Rawls responded to the commission decision, made after two lengthy public hearings, with a protest march during last Saturday’s ceremonies beginning the annual Nights of Lights. Deadline to volunteer for the seven-member committee is December 29 “The scope of the committee’s work is to identify gaps in Civil War history and create a continuum of the story of St. Augustine; to recognize the city’s unique and diverse heritage; seek public input on contextualization; recommend a contextualization plan and implementation strategy; provide order of magnitude cost and financing options, and provide a process going forward that is transparent, inclusive, and aligned with the City of St. Augustine’s Vision,” a city media release stated. Find the application form at
In the mailbag - Panhandling   The reality remains that panhandling is profitable and many donors have true empathy for the solicitors.
Secrets of Spanish Florida documentary to be presented WJCT and Flagler College preview Secrets of Spanish Florida: A Secrets of the Dead Special November 27 in the Virginia Room of Ringhaver Student Center. The special “uncovers one story of America’s past that never made it into textbooks,” the hosts promise. “The first permanent European settlement in the United States was founded in 1565 - two generations before Jamestown and Plymouth - and by the Spanish with a melting pot of people they brought with them.” Some of America’s leading archaeologists, maritime scientists, and historians share the story of Florida’s earliest settlers. Reception at 7 pm, screening at 7:30 and discussion and Q & A at 8:15. Visit  to reserve a seat.
Castillo by Candlelight: Enemy at the Gates The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument will host candlelight tours on Friday, December 1, featuring a special look into the Siege of 1740. In 1740, British General James Oglethorpe laid siege and was poised to run the Spanish from the city. Citizens – terrified about the possibility of losing their homes – clung to the hope that the Spanish forces would strike a blow from the Castillo that would send the English invaders away. A desperate plan was conceived to attack the British occupiers of Fort Mose. In partnership with the St. Augustine Garrison and Colonial Nightwatch, reenactors will tell the stories of St. Augustine on the brink of its destiny. Visitors will experience the evening before the Fort Mose counterattack, and learn about life in the town during the siege as the cannon fire away at the British on Anastasia Island. There will be six candlelit tours of roughly 45 minutes. Tours depart from the ticket both at 6:45, 7:00, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45, and 8:00 pm. Nonrefundable tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis, at the ticket booth or by phone Monday through Friday 9 am - 4 pm by calling (904) 829-6506 ext. 239. Tickets $10 adult, $5 child ages 5 to 15.