Forty years ago in 1976, a Times columnist explored the history of Carrabelle and a young man from Alligator Point set off on a life journey.


It happened in Carrabelle

Earnestine Manning

Facts about Carrabelle, then and now…With the new bridge which spans the Carrabelle River looking near completion, my curiosity was aroused to an even greater extent in regard to finding out more of the local history of this area. To that end, I made a telephone call to Mr. Leo Hance, former Carrabelle mayor, and asked him if he would care to have a talk with me. He agreed and gave me some very interesting items about Carrabelle as it was since his birth here in 1900 to the present time.

According to Mr. Hance, the first settler, named MaCagor Pickett arrived in 1855. Transportation at the time was by boat, mostly the paddle-wheel type. The first original bridge was wooden.

In or about 1927, the first pilings were driven for it. Today, the new bridge is nearly ready to replace our existing bridge and not a moment too soon one thinks, as one bumps and bounces and maneuvers the crossing. The contract for the new bridge was let sometime in 1975 and completion date is early 1977 but may be sooner.

In 1935, Governor Dave Sholtz dedicated the bridge between Apalachicola and Eastpoint. The approximate length of this bridge is 4.5 miles. Prior to the existence of this bridge, boats and ferries were used as a means of transportation and delivery of goods between Carrabelle and Apalachicola.

At one time, a ferry operating between Eastpoint and Apalachicola could carry as many as ten cars and made six round trips per day. Two boats were particularly well remembered by Mr. Hance as he reminisced to me about happenings in this area many years ago. These were the “Crescent City” which was a paddle-wheel type and served as express, mail and passenger carrier; the other was named “Iola” which was a type of steam tug, propeller type.

Sawmills and lumber mills played a very important part in the development and economic impact of Carrabelle in the early part of this century. Because Carrabelle carried on a large trade with such countries as Spain, South America, Russia and Scandinavia, who bought such items from us as crossties and heavy timber.

Railroads were also very important to the growth of the area. The “C. T. and G.” operated between Carrabelle, Tallahassee and Georgia. Eventually the Georgia-Florida-Alabama Railroad system took this over, later it was operated by Seaboard. But then the government took over the railroad and finally took up the tracks.

The Gordon Johnston Army Post, which maintained as many as 20,000 soldiers, was very dependent on the railroad when it was in operation. There were two passenger trains which ran daily, plus freight which operated each day shipping seafood out of the area. With the advent of bridges to span the crossings, trucks were able to be put into use for the purpose of transporting seafood and freight service by the railroad declined.

Naval Store supplies operated by the Covingtons, were shipped both by train and ship to foreign ports, thereby increasing the flow of trade and adding to the economic independence of Carrabelle.

Mr. Hance made all these seem as clear to me as though they were unfolding before my eyes. I asked him if we could continue at a later date, to which he agreed. He is a very quiet-spoken man, very much impressed by the growth of his home town since his boyhood and very concerned about some of the happenings of our time.


Young inventor has some good ideas

George Jensen is the son of Mrs. George Jensen of Alligator Point.

George Jensen has made a lot of things work that he was never able to market.

Now he may be at the point of marketing something he has never seen work.

The young Pensacola draftsman hasn’t constructed a working model of his staple gun that puts a new twist in stapling.

But he’s successfully jury-rigged enough toasters, lawn-mowers and trailer hitches to have confidence that his invention will work.

Jensen’s staple gun patent-pending is just one of a long line of ideas he’s had for “doing things a better way.”

He has suggested to the United States Navy what he thought was a better way to defuel aircraft, to Herb-Ox Co. an improved way to market bouillon cubes and to Ford Motor Company and innovative idea for hooking up parking lights with auto courtesy lights.

So far, his biggest gain was a year-or-so supply of bouillon.

But this time around, the 28 year old tinkerer who got his start “making do” with repair materials available in Alligator Point has both some capital of his own and a marketing organization backing his belief that no one before him has put the curl in the heavy-duty hog staples like he has.

It all started around ’64 or ’65 when Jensen was watching some friends put together a crab trap. They were stapling two sections of chicken wire together one staple at a time and squeezing the ends of each staple around the wire individually using special pliers.

Single tool

Jensen wondered: Couldn’t it all be done with a single tool? He thought, yes and designed one on paper.

But it wasn’t until a year ago, when he saw an advertisement in Popular Mechanics for an inventors’-aid firm called Raymond Lee Organization, Inc., New York City, that he began to think about capitalizing on his fancy.

He wrote for the organization’s brochure. This sequence of events followed:

“I did a rough sketch and they thought it had possibilities. They sent a “Record of Invention” form which I filled out to indicate that I had the idea by this date.

“The next step was to get a patent search” – for which Jensen paid the company $100.

They searched through all patents that were anything like my invention to see if mine was really different.

“The closest things to it were and automatic tracheotomy, ear tagging device for cattle and a stapler for tagging sides of meat,” says Jensen.

At this point – the point of marketing –the process became more expensive. Jensen checked out the firm’s credibility through a Dunn and Bradstreet rating before borrowing the $1,200 required for what came next.

“They had the detailed drawings done for the patent application, hired a patent lawyer to do the write-up and filed the application. They have a prospectus which they circulated to as many Manufacturers as they think practicable – about 50.

The firm which also holds a 20 percent share in the invention, will also police manufacturers to make sure proper payment is made for any of the staple guns sold.

It occurred to Jensen he might be buying a “pig in a poke,” by advancing and idea to an unknown marketing firm. But says Jensen, “I have other ideas.”

Jensen’s staple gun, resembling a pistol with the staple magazine standing up on top of the barrel, works like this: when the handle is squeezed, a plunger moves forward, pushes a staple through a guide and into a pair of curved jaws that force the staple’s open ends together form a ring around the objects to be fastened together. All in a single operation.

Jensen’s short-term goal in the world of building crab traps is to go one step beyond the staple gun – but he’s not divulging how.