The Richardsons in Ft Myers (1924-1938)

When Oliver and Lucy Richardson moved to Fort Myers in or around 1921, it was a small town on the Caloosahatchie River. Oliver made a deal with the owner of some farm land south of town. He worked the land and he shared the profits with the owner. It was hard making a go of it as the land was low and flooded often.

He would send his crops up north on consignment. His agents would in turn sell them and send him the profit. For several years this worked out fine. Then for two years in a row they sent him a bill rather than a check. He concluded that there was no money to be made by sending his produce up north anymore. As time passed, he grew less and sold what he could at the Fort Myers Curb Market.

1932 - Oliver Richardson is on the left.

Lucy got a job at Flossie Hills, a dry goods store, and worked there until she retired.

The two boys, Clyde and Ben (Frank), went to school and worked what odd jobs they could find. They also helped with the food by hunting and fishing. Later, the family moved closer to town. They rented the second story of a two story house.

Clyde and Ben played on their High School Football, Basketball and Baseball team. On the football team, Clyde was a running back and his nickname was “Cannonball.”

Clyde is 1st on middle row, Ben is 6th on the middle row.

Clyde is on the left end, Ben is on the right end.

Clyde and Ben would occupy their time with school, odd jobs and sports. When they played softball, Clyde would play somewhere in the infield and Ben would pitch. Ben was considered one of the best hurlers in the league. He was the pitcher who first introduced on the local diamond the “rise” ball which baffled batters when thrown properly. When they were older, they would even arrange games with other nearby towns.

At night, Clyde would drift over to the park to meet friends. They would play tennis or basketball. Sometimes, when he was in the Sea Scouts, they would borrow the sailboat and go sailing or fishing.

There was one movie theater in town, The “Florida.” It was located in the Arcade on First Street. It was an open air theater and the building had no roof. For a dime you could see such movies as Captain Blood or Robin Hood.

The boys would stay out until two or three o’clock in the morning. Lucy would wait up until they were both in for the night before she would go to bed.

Occasionally the Family would travel to Arcadia, Florida to visit Oliver’s family or to Tampa to see Hack or JB. These trips would usually only be for the day. Once, before they owned a car, they borrowed one from one of Lucy’s friends. Oliver failed to check the oil level and on the way back from Arcadia, they blew an engine.

Clyde - 1932

Ben (Frank) - 1932

On June 30, 1930, Clyde joined the National Guard. Guard members were encouraged to ride the horses. That provided another recreational activity. Clyde spent many hours with friends riding through the fields and woods around Fort Myers.

Clyde (on left) in the Florida National Guard.
Picture taken in 1938.

Once Clyde borrowed Hack’s car to go to a Guard meeting. Not being real familiar with it, when the meeting was over he got in the wrong car and drove it home. In those days most people didn’t bother using the key and unless you locked it, it started without one.

That night the Sergeant showed up at the door inquiring about his car. Needless to say it was an embarrassing moment.

In 1932 or 1933, the Richardson’s rented a two bedroom house on Heitman Street, close to downtown.

1424 Heitman Street

Life, in those days were quiet and simple. The house was always left unlocked. A night at home would involve with sitting around listening to the radio. They listened to Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Amos and Andy, the Lone Ranger and many more.

At Christmas time JB, Hack and Bert (Bertha) would come down for Christmas Dinner. They would put us a Christmas tree and be thankful for what they had.

During the Depression Clyde and Ben grabbed what jobs they could find. Clyde worked as a Lifeguard and pool cleaner at the city pool. He also had a paper route for several years. At times he worked for the A&P and the Sunshine Market.

Ben was a volunteer fireman.

Ben was working for the Sunshine Market as a delivery boy in 1934. On March 10, 1934, his car struck a parked car and the steering wheel caused fatal internal injuries. Ben died on March 14, 1934. The local City Softball Field was named “Richardson field” in his honor.

Oliver and Lucy used the insurance money they got for Frank’s death to by the house on Heitman street.

Clyde’s first car was an Oakland. He paid $15.00 for it. It was stripped down to four wheels, an engine and a seat. At that time there was no driver’s license or car tags to contend with.

In July of 1938, Clyde moved to Gainesville to work for his brother-in-law, David Kite. He was discharged from the National Guard on July 20, 1938. In December 22, 1941, Clyde enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

Oliver Richardson died on August 15, 1942 and Lucy Richardson died on July 11, 1960. Clyde Richardson died on August 5, 2002.