In the Know: Songs written about the Tamiami Trail

Q. Has there ever been a song written about the Tamiami Trail?
Judith & Henry Shoemaker, Naples/Ohio

A. A paved highway linking Florida's two leading cities -- Tampa and Miami was constructed in the early 20s and was completed 13 years later, with the official opening on April 25, 1928. This 273-mile Tampa to Miami stretch of U.S. 41 is called the Tamiami Trail.

The Collier County Museum gives us some other interesting facts. The trail cost a reported $8 million to complete at a cost of $25,000 per mile. 2,598,000 sticks of dynamite were used to build the trail. The name "Tamiami Trail" was coined in 1915 by L.P. Dickie, executive vice president to the Tampa Board of Trade. The average workers earned $150 a month plus board. Collier County makes up 76 miles of the trail, followed by Sarasota County with 47 miles.

There were two songs: one was an instrumental by Bill Haley and the Comets released in 1960 and titled "Tamiami;" and the newly rediscovered "Tamiami Trail," sheet music provided by the Collier County Museum. This romantic ballad was written in 1926 by Cliff Friend and Joseph Santly. We can only imagine that the famous bandleader of the '20s,Vincent Lopez, who appears on the cover of the sheet music, made magic with this song.

After hearing this song come to life, thanks to the keyboards of Jim Gorby, manager of Fletcher Music in Coastland Center Mall, and the vocals of songwriter/singer Fred Tobias, we wanted to share it with all of you. Tobias, originally from New York, and now a full-time Naples resident, was best known for his 1958 hit "Born too Late," by the Poni Tails. He has also written songs that were recorded by Perry Como, Patti Page, Tony Bennett, Pat Boone and Elvis Presley, and wrote comedy material for Phyllis Diller and Donald O'Connor. Locally, Tobias and his wife, Lee, also a singer, write and perform a musical comedy at the Norris Center, and of course, his humorous letters to the editor.

Please join me, along with Fred and Lee Tobias, Jim Gorby, Dave Elliott and Gary Todd, with Gulf Coast Morning on NewsRadio 1660 AM, The Collier County Museum, The Collier Seminole State Park, which will present some magnificent photos of the trail taken during its construction phases. There will be a free concert on: Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2003, at the Coastland Center Mall, Palm Court, located on the south side near the Gap entrance, at 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for an evening of a little traveling music, a salute to our veterans and reintroducing the "Tamiami Trail."

Q. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and remember summer nights trying to catch lightning bugs as a child. I have lived in Naples for 17 years and can't remember seeing a lightning bug once any time of the year! Why aren't these bugs down here? What makes them light up and what makes them different colors? (I remember green and yellow lights on their tails.)

Michael Milner/Naples

A. Entomologist Jim Lloyd, with the University of Florida in Gainesville, tells us there are probably six or more species of fireflies in Southwest Florida. Depending on where you grew up, "lightning bug" and "fireflies" are both commonly used names given to these species. The larvae are predators, and feed on snails, worms and other soft body prey. There are fireflies in Southwest Florida, Lloyd said, however, the species here are small and don't form large populations as the species in the Midwest. Lloyd said he has seen them at Everglades National Park, along the Anhinga Trail, even in the winter months. He tells us the best place to look for them is along roadside ditches or cattail basins.

The light we see is a result of a chemical reaction. The color depends on the nature of the chemistry. You may see an amber, yellow or green light, depending on the species.

Q. To date, how much money has been raised for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collier County from the sales of the miniature gators? And are they still available to purchase and where?

Theresa Collins/Naples

A. Joanne Ricciardiello, co-chairwoman of the Gators Galore, says that the miniature sale of the gators to equally benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Naples Art Association has grossed just over $100,000 so far. We can expect to see many more miniatures available through a licensing agreement between Gators Galore Incorporated and Infinity Enterprises, a manufacturing and distributing company within the next few months, she said. Thirty life-size alligators will again adorn our city beginning Dec. 1, 2003, through April 2004, with new themes and some new participating artists. For information on where to purchase the miniatures or any other questions, call the Gators Galore hotline at 435-6385.

Q. Are cars containing Collier County beach parking permits allowed to park at metered spots (excluding handicap spaces) including the area of the Naples Pier?

F.M. Singer/Naples

A. Collier County beach parking decals are interchangeable and offer the same privileges as the city of Naples beach parking decals. So yes, you may park at the Pier and any other "beach access" areas only.

Did you know?

In 2002, Collier County's crime rate was 3,705 crimes per 100,000 residents. Of the 9,738 crimes reported in Collier in 2002, 1,415 were classified as violent crimes and 8,323 were considered property related crimes.

Ken Sanford, Research Manager, Economic Development Council of Collier County

In The Know is a weekly column compiled by Lisa Fleming. Contact her with questions at 213-6007 or at

© 2003 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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