Surprisingly, there were few calls about last week’s photo of Sunshine Plaza when it was under construction around 1980. The plaza originally consisted of just Sunshine Ace Hardware and Sunshine Foodway.
Chris Coburn saved the day, however, by sharing memories of working as a cashier in Sunshine Foodway when it was managed by Scott Ortengren.
Originally from Ohio, Coburn was employed as a clerk at Hartley’s Variety Store, in the Lawhon Shopping Center just across the street, when Sunshine Plaza was built. She transferred to the new grocery store and remembers how the community welcomed the “nice, new big stores.”
One of Coburn’s fondest memories is of a visit by the Budweiser Clydesdales.
“That was awesome,” she said.
Coburn has spent most of her working career in the same area of Bonita Beach Road. In 1984, she took a job at the Bonita Springs Post Office, where she has been ever since.
Ironically, both of Coburn’s sons also worked at the locally owned supermarket in Sunshine Plaza as well. One of her sons narrowly escaped serious injury when he was slashed by a sword in a bizarre accident on the loading dock,
A fellow named Bud phoned to identify the photo as the Grand Union building, constructed as part of Springs Plaza, where the Lawhon Shopping Center once existed. That plaza was built around the same time as Sunshine.
And a little more to share about Owen Downing, whose photo appeared April 8.
“Owen Downing (‘Big O’) was my father-in-law,” wrote Cliff Linzalone. “He was a laid back person, witty and loved to tell jokes. He had a great knowledge about baseball, which helped him, along with others, to start the Babe Ruth baseball league in Bonita Springs.”
Linzalone said Downing loved working with kids and devoted his whole life to Babe Ruth Baseball.
“If he wasn’t at the ball field, he would spend time traveling around the state for the games,” said Linzalone. “He also was an associate scout for the New York Yankees. He loved and enjoyed being part of Bonita Springs.”