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This Month in History: Believeing in the six degrees of separation theory

October 23, 2013
By TIM KNOX , Pine Island Eagle

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world, and popularized by a play written by John Guare.

You may remember from my article last week that the original bridge to be installed between Matlacha and the mainland was destroyed beyond repair in the 1926 hurricane. The winds in that storm were so great the dredge that was creating the roads leading up to the bridge was blown into the bridge and knocked it into Matlacha Pass. That dredge was owned by the J.L. Lofton Company and was named the C.W. Stribley.

Mr. C.W. Stribley was a good friend Lofton, and also the neighbor of Thomas Edison. And like Edison, Stribley was an inventor and created the process for making wax paper. The C.W. Stribley, the dredge, was also used to repair Edison's seawall at his McGregor Boulevard home.

The J.L. Lofton Company was also responsible for dredging the downtown Fort Myers's boat basin in 1910. By dredging the basin deeper for larger boats, they utilized the sand and muck to create that island you see when you drive over the downtown bridges. Lofton claimed squatter's rights to the island when it was finished and it became known as Lofton Island. He subsequently built a house on the island and lived there for many years.

In 1929, Lofton sold the island to T.H Phillips for $4,000 (too may double initial first names). Phillips, known as Tom Phillips to Pine Island residents many years later, was responsible for developing Tom's Town, which is now called Pine Island Center. Our Phillips Park at the four-way stop is named for him. Phillips also developed the St. James communities of Gulfhaven, Bay View and St. Jude's Harbor, and assisted in developing Flamingo Bay.

At the very end of Oleander Avenue, in St. James City, Phillips also owned the property that would became known as the community of Pine Island Shores.

Well, I for one believe in that six degrees of separation. I live in Pine Island Shores. And I did use some wax paper last night.

That is your Museum of the Islands This Month in History.

For more history of Pine Island visit us Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The museum are conveniently located next to the library.

Tim Knox is the museum historian



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