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Finding Grey Shingles

Letter to the Editor

August 31, 2016
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Finding Grey Shingles

To the Editor:

Five Zurer siblings, originally of New York, were casting about for a place to hold a family reunion. The question was quickly settled when we found a house online that we thought could be the house we had stayed in several Christmas vacations between 1958 and 1969 on Fort Myers Beach. It was a bittersweet memory: the first 9 and 11 years of our sisters' lives and the last 11 of our dad's.

Article Photos

Pearson submitted a photo of the home her family rented, called Grey Shingles, in 1960.

The house we used to stay in was called Grey Shingles. It had a distinctive roofline, stone chimney, and front porch. In June 2016, we rented a house with a chimney, roof, and porch that were "sorta similar"-and it was in the general vicinity of things we remembered: within a quick sprint to the Red Coconut trailer park, near a church with a tennis court, wide stretches of sand, shallow, mostly calm water, fishing passes in the mangroves on the other side of the island, and a safe distance from the frenzy and excitement to the north around the pier. There was little else to the south at that time. In fact, in videos and pictures of the time, we and our friends were almost the only people on the beach, and definitely the only ones in the water in December.

As soon as we got out on the beach this year, it took us little time to locate "the real Grey Shingles" a few houses up the shore from us. We are pretty well convinced that "Grey Shingles"--now white and without obvious shingles--is 3880 Estero. The dormer is much enlarged, there are 2 rental rooms upstairs and an addition to the south which eliminated the distinctive chimney. The old Grey Shingles is next door to what is now the Surf and Us Resort (3870 Estero), which looks very much the same as it did in the background of a 1961 photo of me, sitting on the beach knitting.

Whichever house, it was the same mostly-empty beach and water; the heavenly sandbar teeming with sea life that was exposed several evenings right before sunset, including the night of the Strawberry Moon.The weather forecast for the whole week we were in FMB was for "scattered thundershowers," but they missed us almost completely. Still, they were in the vicinity and cooled the temperature and provided stunning sunsets.

As it happens, 3750 Estero Boulevard, the house we stayed in for our reunion, served us well--to gather everyone together for the reunion in the very large common spaces, much more spacious than the Grey Shingles of our memory could have. Our children are now the ages our parents were during those early visits, and our grandchildren-they are us! We spent a wonderful week on the "same" beach with the same enchantment, cherishing old memories and creating new ones 50 years later.

Barbara Zurer Pearson of Mass.; with siblings Jim Zurer of Washington, D.C.; Burt Zurer of Md.; Carol Z. Kline of Calif.; and Holly Zurer of Maine.



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