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Monroe Canal Marina to host unique book signing
By Marianne Paton   - 02/10/2009

Pine Island Eagle

Now with the second printing of her book, "Images of America - Pine Island," author Mary Kaye Stevens will hold a special book signing to recognize those who helped make her book possible.

"I thought it would be nice to invite the people who I interviewed and contributed photos for my book for an afternoon of story swapping and to allow the people who have purchased my book to meet them," said Stevens. "During the writing of the book, I was able to interview about 100 people and while some of them are no longer with us, I expect anywhere from 40 to 50 of these long-term island residents to be present for the signing."

The book signing will take place Saturday, Feb. 14, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Monroe Canal Marina in St. James City. Attendees are invited to bring a chair and sample roasted hog or smoked mullet and enjoy chatting with old-time Pine Islanders featured in Stevens' book. Those attending also are welcome to bring their copy of the book to have them signed by what Stevens refers to as the "legends" of Pine Island.

In a recent conversation, Stevens related some of her experiences with the people she had the opportunity to interview.

"A gentleman named Bill McNagny told me an interesting story about his experiences with buzzards on the Island and about how his wife would hold dinner parties where John L. Lewis would fill in as host when he was away up north," said Stevens. "But, I would have to say that one of the most interesting people I was fortunate to meet was Kay DellaBitta. She told me about how her father would take Zane Gray fishing and in return he would give him an autographed copy of one of his books. The only problem was her father could not read, but his mother could and she would read them to him. Kay and her husband Frank also once owned Four Winds Marina and when she was a child she would cut through the property back when it was an orange orchard and steel fruit on her way home. Ironically, later she would own that same property."

Stevens also talked about a conversation with a notorious character from the island's past named Capt. Haines.

"Capt. Haines was a hoot even though he had something of a dark history and was suspected to be a murderer. He is remembered by neighbors for his love of soaking in a long bath while blasting Caruso from his Victrola," said Stevens.

With the completion of her Pine Island pictorial history book, Stevens recently was contracted to pen another in the "Images of America" series and will be collecting information for a book that will focus on the barrier islands of Pine Island Sound.

"I have begun work on the new book, but I am still looking for more photos and to do more interviews to complete the project," said Stevens. "This book also will be a combination of both research and interviews and I am looking forward to spending time with other islanders and learning about their histories as well."

Copies of the book "Images of America - Pine Island" are available for purchase at the Museum of the Islands or can be purchased from Stevens on Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Monroe Canal Marina.

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