A year of effort by members of the Dunedin Historical Society, coupled with contributions from Dunedin businesses, organizations and citizens, will come together on Sunday, Nov. 11 at the Dunedin Public Library at 2 p.m. On that day, the reprinted leather and soft cover copies of Dr. Blatchley’s writings in his “My Nature Nook” will be available to the public for purchase for the first time since 1931!
Dr. Willis S. Blatchley, in the early 1900s and himself a snowbird from Indiana, bought the property we now know as Weaver Park; there he built a home which has withstood two hurricanes. Impressive, yes! But the gem of his property and what has endured for over 80 years is the story that comes out of his simple platform, his “nook” as he called it, that he constructed on a “leaning oak tree.” From his “nook” he collected notes on the plant, fish, animal and human activity that surrounded the then 1700 citizens of Dunedin. His collection of diary notes and experiences were printed in a book he entitled “My Nature Nook.”
According to George Nigro, chairperson of the re-printing project, “it is the only written personal narrative, in existence, about life in Dunedin in the early part of the 1900s.”
Out of print, out of copyright and difficult to find, the Dunedin Historical Society undertook one of their most ambitious projects to save the book from what has been called the dustbin of history. Less than a handful of rare copies have been donated to the Museum, but, in the quest to find additional copies, an 18-month long Internet search yielded only one additional copy. “There are possibly more copies out there,” says Susan Littlejohn, president of the Dunedin Historical Society, “we just can’t find them.”
Ron Barnette, city commissioner, who often plays the role of Dr. Blatchley in the annual "History Comes Alive" said, “what our Historical Society has done is remarkable in this re-printing; visitors, tourists, historians and, most importantly, our children, now have the unique opportunity to read about life in our city in a time that was and will never be again.”
Margaret Word Burnside, co-editor of Tampa Bay Magazine, said of the re-print, “…this was a noble project.”
Vinnie Luisi, curator of the Dunedin Museum said, “this city pulled resources together to make the project a reality, it is a testament to how our fellow citizens believe in and love, so deeply, our City.”
George Nigro continues by saying, “Keep a lookout for the City’s channel 15 TV spot, which Courtney King, public information services manager, and her team, produced about Dr. Blatchley and his book, it is just great!”
Refreshments, a discussion with our own, current day "Dr. Blatchley," and the fascinating story of the re-printing will precede the opening of book sales. Just in time for Christmas, leather bound, limited edition, sequentially numbered, copies will be available for $100 each, and soft cover copies for $25 each.
Following the Nov. 11 event, copies of the book will be available for purchase exclusively through the Dunedin Historical Museum. There are only 150 limited edition copies of the leather bound volume; pre-orders may be arranged by visiting the Museum. Almost two dozen copies of the 150 leather bound copies have already been earmarked for patrons and sponsors, therefore, pre-order now in order to avoid disappointment.
Author's Note: Special Thanks to AlphaGraphics of Dunedin for publishing the book; Dave Barry of Griffin Bookbinding for binding the book; Jim Goins for photographing the book and, finally, Courtney King and her team for producing the video for TV.