A POEM BY SAM BAILEY (1924-2010)

“A Brief History of the Old Store”

In 1900 was the beginning of Bailey’s store
However, some of us (the building and I) did not arrive until ’27 and ’24
Things were good in the early days
When transportation was boats and one-horse shays

Progressing fast from farmers and fishers
To land grabbers and Yankee well wishers
From out of the bay after the ’26 deplorium
Came this building, Sanibel’s finest (and only) emporium

On our store dock came all freight and mail to carry
And right next to it, the auto ferry
This was the lifeline of all the folks here,
The meeting place for islanders and visitors far and near

Our shelves were stacked with supplies and goods
For everybody coming from the beach or the woods
From tweezers and needles to double team plows
From overalls and tools to ladies’ things that were the cat’s meows

Dried beans, canned beans, slab pork, et al
Bananas, vegetables, honey and fruit – winter, summer or fall
Our slogan – and you should really heed it
This I quote, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”

Our father and the real father of this store
Was Frank P. Bailey, but yet there was much more
He fathered three sons as you see here now
Born, he thought, to fill his shoes and follow the plow

But plan and ideas don’t always come out right
However at the end of the tunnel there was some light
I’ll get to that in a sec or two
But then came the Depression and many dreams blew

Getting the boys interested in the store was tough as a rock
One wanted to ride horses, another was a jock
The oldest, after wandering and meandering around
Arrived back on Sanibel and his niche was found

After three years he took over the reins – in 1952
And established a record our dad would be proud of too
This old building has seen many come and go
And it’s great to see these old clapboards again to glow

For in 1966 she was put to rest to stay
New Bailey’s was relocated at the corner of Periwinkle and Tarpon Bay
But not it’s back in its glory and glee
Here is stand again proudly for all to see


The Sanibel Historical Village is closed for the off-season and will reopen October 20 with hours Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

schoolhouse historical 1900sThe Sanibel School for White Children was constructed in 1896 at the corner of what is now Bailey Road and Periwinkle Way. In 1903, it was moved up Periwinkle – then a sand road, using rollers underneath, a winch and mule – at Purdy Road (which runs next to Tahitian Gardens shopping center). There it remained for more than 100 years until it was moved to the Historical Village.

The school was segregated, as were all schools in the South at that time, and there was a School for Black Children in what is now Lily & Company Jewelers on Tarpon Bay Road. Both black and white parents petitioned to desegregate the new school being built in 1963. They succeeded and that school became the first integrated school in Lee County. The School for White Children was vacated in 1964, immediately after the integrated school opened.

School blackboard

After the present school was built, the schoolhouse became a theater, the Pirate Playhouse. It became a venue for local, and later professional, talent for 40 years. The school’s chalkboard stayed on the wall even through its years as a theater. When the Playhouse closed its doors, island icon Sam Bailey was instrumental in bringing the schoolhouse to the museum and seeing it restored to the school he remembered.

Early teachers received $2.50 per student per semester. One teacher, Nancy McCann, wore bobby sox and taught baseball at recess. In “Memories of the Sanibel School,” Christine Gault remembered, “Every year we had to listen to the World Series. At recess we all played softball. With so few kids, all of us were needed to eke out two teams. We played in a large open field next to the school. I was always the last to be chosen. Since I was the smallest kid, I was pitched grounders that I mostly missed anyway. I hate baseball.”

Schoolhouse for White ChildrenGault remembers that teaching on Sanibel was considered a hardship assignment that didn’t attract many applicants. Sometimes the bus driver substituted. Occasionally the teacher would declare nature study days and take the children to the beach. “I don’t remember much of the actual lessons,” Gault added. “I do know that although there were some weaknesses in my early education (such as spelling and punctuation), I learned a lot at that school. And what great memories it gave me!”




Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Sanibel Historical Village is located at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG ARTS) and there is handicap access to eight of the nine buildings. Admission is FREE for SHMV members and $15 for non-members (adults ages 18 years and up).  For more information, call 472-4648 during museum hours or visit www.sanibelmuseum.org.

Gala Appreciation: A Night of Celebration and Gratitude

At the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village, we are thrilled to commemorate 40 years of preserving the rich history of our beloved island. The Gala, a grand celebration, marked a momentous occasion, bringing together our community in a joyous reflection of...

Deck The Shore Was a Great Success

Thank you to the hundreds of friends and BIG ARTS Community Chorus that joined us for a special Holiday Celebration on Friday, December 1st. Sanibel Historical Museum & Village is open from 10 am - 4 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is FREE for SHMV...