As 1977 drew to a close, there was lots of interesting news in Apalachicola, most of it apparently good. A city worker is praised and we can see the bay is producing a bumper crop of oysters. Even the local car thief is a really nice boy who helps his landlady with the chores.

Our Chasing Shadows question this week: Did Mrs. Mathews ever get her car back? You get bonus points if you can remember what kind of a car it was. The make and model seem to have been left out of the story.

If you know, please contact the Times at 653-8868 or Lois Swoboda at


Man borrows car, never returns

Mrs. Dorothy Sawyer Mathews reported to police last Thursday that a man renting an apartment from her borrowed her car and did not return.

Mrs. Mathews said Clint Canterbury, an employee at the Coca Cola Plant, had been living in an upstairs apartment at her house at 219 Avenue E. She said he borrowed her car Thursday morning to go to the laundry.

A warrant has been issued for Canterbury’s arrest.

“Three days after he moved in,” said Mrs. Mathews, “he began cleaning up the yard, raking and trimming. It was just marvelous. Then last Wednesday he overheard me telling some ladies that I would pick them up for a luncheon.”

“And he said, ‘Mrs. Mathews, you bring me a towel and some soap and let me wash this car for you.’ Well he cleaned up the car real well and drove me to St. Joe to get it inspected.

“The next morning,” she continues, “he came and asked me if he could borrow the car to go to the laundry and go to borrow a chain saw to cut down a cedar tree in the yard. I gave him my keys and he left around 8:30”

“By 10, I was getting worried. By 11, I thought he had a terrible wreck and the poor man was lying in the hospital. By 12, I was so nervous I could scream.”

Mrs. Mathews called the police about 2 p.m. and they set up roadblocks going out of the city, but Canterbury had apparently already left.

Mrs. Mathews said all her keys were on the chain that she lent Canterbury.


Member of old family is thirty-year city worker

Traditionally, news organizations have catered to the unusual, bizarre, illicit and outlandish. Rapes and murders, frauds, armed robberies, corruption of public officials and other such incivilities have always dominated the media.

The people who really make things go, who live quietly and unobtrusively, raise families and pay taxes are almost ignored. But we feel that those are the really important ones, the ones who are newsworthy because their presence is so important to the community.

So, from time to time, we will bring these essential citizens to the fore and acknowledge their worth. At the same time we will all get to know each other a little better.

Last Monday morning, Joe Zingarelli was seen driving a white pick-up truck at breakneck speed in the direction of the Apalachicola waterworks. His mission, no doubt, was concerned with a problem with the municipal water system that so effectively serves the area.

There was nothing unusual in his haste or in his activity for Joe has been attending to city problems for over 30 years. His responsibilities have, during that time, included, in addition to the water supply, the sewage treatment plant, maintenance of equipment, street and cemeteries, supervision of garbage collection and the volunteer fire fighting facilities. All of these functions, concentrated in one position, have challenged Joe and made him a person in the community to which the citizens are beholden.

Throughout his years of city employment he has been burdened with hundreds and thousands of problems, projects and malfunctions, to each of which he has brought vigor, enthusiasm and good humor.

He seems to have always been highly energized, Quitting school early, Joe spent several years as a planer in a local lumber mill and with the Port St. Joe paper company. During those years he had been a member of the local National Guard but his enlistment expired in 1940 when the local men of Company E were mobilized. He hurriedly reenlisted and left with them when they departed.

About a year after being discharged (in 1947) he was recruited to take over field operations of the city, responsibilities he still has.

Joe’s roots in Apalachicola go back a long way.

His grandfather, Genero Joseph Zingarelli, was born in Lapulia province, Italy in 1834 and came to the gulf coast of Florida at an early age where he worked in the sponge industry. At that time sponges were found in abundance from Key West to Apalachicola and were fished heavily throughout their range.

After an earlier marriage and several years’ residence in Wakulla County, Genero came to Apalachicola sometime after 1873 where he remarried, this time to Antonia Sangregorio. She is still remembered as the widow of the Sangregorio brother killed by lightning while fishing. Several children were produced by this union, one of whom was Angelo Joseph who married Elizabeth Shine, a native of Borbahue, County Cork, Ireland. Elizabeth had lived in Boston after arriving in this country and was brought to Apalachicola by the well-to-do and socially prominent Ruge family.

Elizabeth bore two sons, Genero (Jiggs) and Joe (the principal subject of this article) and two daughters, Helen and Theresa.

Joe married Marie Rentz of Sweetwater, Alabama in 1948. They met earlier while he was on leave from his wartime assignment in Alaska and she was employed in George Lewis’ local restaurant. They have four children one of whom, Jack, is a county commissioner.

Joe expects to retire in 1979 and involve himself more deeply in his hobby of beekeeping.

His shoes will be extremely difficult to fill and the city will need to let some ambitious worker follow him around for several months of indoctrination. There is only one person who knows where everything is, how it works and how to fix it. That person is Joe Zingarelli.


Oyster gulping time in Sarasota; just 30, 40 dozen more to go

Robert M. Ingle

Times Editor

Oyster eating is not yet an Olympic event, but it is gaining in popularity. For instance, the fourth annual raw oyster eating contest sponsored by Walt’s Fish Market in Sarasota is scheduled for Sunday, Dec.11 at 2 in the afternoon.

Walt’s is located on US 301 six blocks north of the Sarasota County Courthouse. Spectators are welcome to the battle of the eaters which features a $500 first prize, $250 second prize and $100 third prize.

The world champion, Vernon Bass, will be on hand, although he will not be a contestant. His record, 634 oysters in 20 minutes and 30 seconds, is in the “Guinness Book of Records.”

Contestants will be given one hour to try and beat Bass’s feat, which will not be easy.

Winners in this area have been less impressive. For instance, Robbie Roberts of Marietta, Georgia won the Apalachicola crown in 1976 by consuming 33 dozen in 15 minutes and again in 1977 with a total of 21 dozen in the same time.

We know the fate of the critters that will be consumed in Sarasota (digestion), but it is just as certain that they originate in Apalachicola.