Move over Nancy Drew! There’s a new girl on the beaches of Sanibel solving our own Beach Bling mysteries.
In a few posts a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned there are some chunks of concrete, bricks and debris I’ve never seen before that have been uncovered because of beach erosion by the Sanibel lighthouse. Remember?
The first thing that caught my eye was this piece of concrete with a layer of aqua linoleum or tile adhered to it. Hmmm. Where did it come from? I wanted me a piece of that aqua Beach Bling!
Then I saw pieces of red brick scattered around…
There were random bits and pieces of concrete every where…
So I put on my “Pamsy Drew” hat and tracked down the very man that buried this rubble 40 years ago… Charles LeBuff.
While working for US Fish and Wildlife Service, Charles LeBuff lived in the beach cottage called Lighthouse Quarters 2 (which is still there today) in 1958 through 1979 when the Sanibel Lighthouse facility was headquarters for National Wildlife Refuge.
Jackpot! He knows the history of each of those pieces of rubble and wrote two books telling the story!
As he stated in his book, Lighthouse Quarters 3 was built in 1942 to house the Coast Guard’s wartime beach patrol. Then became a guest cottage rented to Service employees for vacation retreats.
Unfortunately, the cottage was torn down in 1969 because a Washington office employee complained about an odor of stinky bait which had been left in the unplugged refrigerator. At that time, the regional refuge supervisor thought that shutting the cottage down would be easier than maintaining it so they tore it down. What?? Was he crazy?
Charles said when they tore down the cottage, they burned the wood and used heavy equipment to move all the other remains of the building (concrete, bricks, etc) closer to the water. Charles pointed out that the aqua color on the concrete was the tile floor of the cottage.
The bricks were from the chimney of the cottage…
After demolishing and burying this cottage 40 years ago, he recognized each piece of this “Bling” and told me what it used to be.
Isn’t it so interesting how much you learn from getting out on the beach just to go shelling? I did see lots of good shells getting stuck around those concrete chunks but my curiosity about that “Bling” got the best of me and I didn’t pick up one shell.
Talking with Charles at “the scene of the crime” was fascinating. Of course I thought y’all would enjoy hearing him as well, so I made a short video so you could meet this memorable man.
I was tickled to hear him tell the stories about the “old days of Sanibel Lighthouse” and I also enjoyed browsing through the pages of his books. Check out his 2 books here- Sanybel Light: A Historical Autobiography – A Wildlife Life on a Florida Barrier Island and
J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (Images of America)
I’m so happy to tell you that the wonderful couple that now live in Lighthouse Quarters 2 love shelling too. Here are Judy and Dennis who have been in the cottage for 10 years and are now…. the “keepers of the Lighthouse”…
Thank you Pam for your wonderful story!! It makes me wish I had met the keepers of the lighthouse when I was on Sanibel this past February!!
So very interesting. I can’t believe that they demolished a cottage because of a stinky refrigerator. Excellent detective work Pam! I’ll have to stop and say hello to Charles when we are back next March. Thank you for my “something new” I learned today.
Love hearing about the history and now I know what I’m looking at.
I was real lucky finding that junonia…I thought it was a leopard crab as I was standing over it in thigh deep water Monday evening and as I slowly picked it up I was hoping I wouldn’t get pinched…lol…imagine my surprise…total luck.
Ha ha! I an awfully glad it was a Junonia rather than a leopard crab. Those guys must really hurt when they pinch you!
Never been pinched by one as they are usually very docile…it just looked odd…my brain wasn’t even thinking Junonia…I was shocked.
What a fabulous surprise then!
Good eye, Donnie! Congrats on your super find.
Thank you so much…I still can’t believe I found it and it wasn’t broken or pitted…I also was convinced I wouldn’t see one till winter. I hadn’t found any pieces in so long either.
Everything leading up to me just being there at that place and time was just odd.
Great info there, thanks for sharing it. Tried to view the video, but I got a message ” this video is private” & could not view it.
Love all your posts! I was there last week/weekend & was hoping to run into you on the beach, but no such luck. I did come home with some great treasures though. I also brought home a few egg casings that I will open up some time next week. After seeing your post on disecting the egg casings, I wish I would have brought more than one type of casing home.
How does one get to be ‘keep of the lighthouse’ ? Where do I send my resume for when they retire?
No kidding! I was going to ask the same question — it’s definitely a job I need to apply for!
Great story on the cottage,I’ll have to check it out when we come back down this winter.. To Donnie: What a Lucky Guy!!! To be in the right place at the right time twice !!! Both of the Junionia’s are beautiful!!!
Thank you…it seems to be a hot spot for them.
I was within a couple hundred yards from where I found the other one.
I also recall as I was leaving that the tide had gone lower quite a bit in that spot and that there must of been about 20 people in that general area…someone would of found it.
This is such an interesting post, Pam. And just yesterday I watched the first 2 30-minute videos on Sanibel history that are posted on the City of Sanibel’s website, where I learned all about Charles LeBuff! I’ll be there for 3 weeks starting May 19 and I definitely want to go in to the book store, buy his books, and meet him. I have such respect for the early conservationists who made Sanibel what it is today, with so much wild land preserved. Molly – my question as well – lighthouse keeper? Can you say dream job? Sign me up! Donnie – every time I see your shell haul I get sooo excited! What a beautiful junonia!
Thank you Dana and I ‘m sure we’ll run into each other on the sand and good luck finding natures treasures.
Why??? Why not me?? If someone gets to live in the lighthouse cottage, why not me??? I must have been really bad in a previous life!!
Really great story Pam!! Thanks for doing the investigative work and then sharing. As always, you are a treasure yourself!!
Very cool! Thanks for sharing!
I couldn’t play the video, it says “This video is private” :-(
I was at the lighthouse yesterday and today. Yesterday I found a lot of minis and mini-minis. The story was interesting as I saw the huge pieces of concrete as well. If only I could find a junonia. Couldn’t watch the video either.
I wasn’t able to watch the video either.
Ohhh nooo! Sorry you guys!! I hope the video is fixed now. Lemme know if y’all get it now. So glad you enjoyed this story. I love being a beach sleuth!
Just watched the video…fascinating.
Saw the video tonight. What a great piece of history. Thanks, Pam
Yes the video is fine now Pam. What a great story and what a great piece of detective work on your part!
We got back from Nevis yesterday evening. Also went to Montserrat on a day trip. Lots of interesting teeny tiny shells.
Video seems to be working now. Thanks for sharing the bit of history! I have both of the books and they are interesting reads!
Great story Pam! Donnie does it again. I really enjoyed shelling with him the day after Tom found his junonia 20 feet from me. That must be a junonia hot spot. His golden olive is really special. I know that it is not luck but hard work on his part. Keep doing it Donnie! Mother Earth Marilyn
Thank you so much Mother Earth Marilyn…so enjoyed shelling with all of you…and I’m sure I will see you all again. The lighthouse is my favorite place to be.
OK – Pam, the day after Bob and I met you at Blind Point (the pretty little yellow and orange minis etc.), we went to the lighthouse and yes, found the “bling” you just described – and LOTS of great shells – mostly alive (like the foot long horse conch, etc) – but that’s where I found my two baby’s ears…. And NOW – to know more of the history – wow – so neat!!!! We’ll be back down next Wednesday – we’re the new owners of a cute little “Park Model” in Periwinkle Park that we will be remodeling! See ya soon! Johnnie Lorren
That’s my plan for when I retire. Maybe we will be neighbors someday. :)
I “heart” Florida history and was so happy to learn about Charles and the history of the cottages by the lighthouse. Did you take home any of the chunks of concrete or bricks? I see stuff like that and I’m instantly in shabby chic/artist mode, especially because of its historical nature. I’ll be by to grab some pieces for myself. A chunk of the bricks would look great in a shadow box… :)
Charles is a natural historian. Thanks for hooking up with him and sharing another part of Sanibel. Lets hear more!
Well that was really interesting! I’ve read 2 of Charles’ books and they are really good. Highly recommend them!
Great story about the lighthouse! And, what a beautiful junonia! We have to go home in a week but I think we’re gonna come back in a month and rent a house for a month or two. Serious shelling with no schedule… can’t wait.
That is amazing to hear the history….and Donnie I’m jealous!!!
We are set to be down in June and Pam, Alex want to know if you’ve been practicing Uno. Fair warning. :)
I have read his book Sanybel Light and it is wonderful. If you like history and love Sanibel you need to read this book!
What a dream it would be to live in one of the cottages at the lighhouse!