Readers’ Reviews

Reading Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise has changed the way I will look at this area forever! What an incredible story. I absolutely loved it! I think of Myrtle’s story now every time I look out at the water & islands. When I walk the beach I think of who has been there before me! When I look at the trees I wonder if they are the same ones Myrtle looked up at — SO NEAT! — Robin S., New Port Richey, FL

Caladesi IslandI tell everyone I can about this book! — R.

I read Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise and loved it so much that I am giving it as gifts to other friends. — K.B.

I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed reading/remembering/living Yesteryear. I love every bit of it. My grandparents came from Germany in 1890 and communicated much as Myrtle does. My favorite time to read this book was right before I go to sleep… Somehow this book brings me into my early life, and I am enjoying that a great deal. — Betty Brenneman, Racine, WI

Sailing to Caladesi IslandI LOVE this book. Having grown up on Clearwater Beach, I was fascinated by the well-written accounts of life on the island… I used to sail my boat out to islands in the bay… I remember the pond. We used to go to the end of Clearwater Beach and dare each other to swim across. I never did because I had been warned about the strong currents. I was sorry to finish Yesteryear and have to put it down. — Paula Meyer, San Diego, CA

I’ve had one of the original editions of Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise since it was first published years ago (1984). It was wonderful to sit down with the new version with the added pictures, messages from Mrs. Betz’s granddaughters, and the time line… It brought back some happy memories of growing up in Dunedin. — Joan Demer, Stone Mountain, GA

The book is loaded with words for birds, boat gear, etc. that I never really knew. And the early history of that area has given me a new perspective. — John A. Boyd, Dunedin, FL

I just started reading it. My husband just finished it and really enjoyed the story. It is such a wonderful gift for anyone interested in the real Pinellas County. — D.T.

Caladesi Island homesteadThe layout of the beach cabins at Caladesi was straightforward and is imprinted in my brain: the kerosene stove, the cistern, the cotton curtains with wonderful sea creature patterns, the wooden shutters, the screening painted with oil to keep out the no-see-ums etc., etc. — Fred Chase, Stowe, VT

What a pleasant (and long, about 2,500 miles) trip we had accompanied by the reading of Yesteryear. Husband driving, I reading aloud to him. Enjoyed it immensely. So enlightening. And makes one appreciate those who have gone before us. — Terry B., Tarpon Springs, FL

I particularly liked the Timeline at the end, as it answers many of the “what happened next” questions for me. — S.

What a joyful surprise. I’m well into it already and it’s SO enthralling. It reads just like someone talking. America owes so much to the courage and hard work of immigrants in those days. — Miriam, Vienna, Austria

I can’t express the joy I found in seeing this beautiful edition of Myrtle Betz’s book. And look at all the pictures! This is a real treasure. — Rosemary F. Bogart, Georgia

Yesteryear I Lived in ParadiseThe cover with Christopher Still’s painting of Caladesi Island is gorgeous and captures the feel of the island so well. — Carmel vH., Tampa, FL

Such a cool story. I can’t even imagine some of the things she must have had to do to live there. — A.S.

I have been reading Yesteryear with great pleasure. Myrtle evokes the beauty of Caladesi Island and the feeling of a bygone time perfectly. Amazing that she wrote this when she was 87 years old!! What an inspiration! — Lisa Y., Clearwater, FL

My goodness — how interesting!! Hold another copy for me. D. and I were reading it TOGETHER last night because neither of us wants to wait for the other to finish it!!! The book evokes such a wonderful feeling of calm when reading it. This reflects the pace of life on Caladesi, and it was reinforced when I visited the island in March 2008. What a beautiful, peaceful place! Myrtle rowing to school in her boat. Myrtle writing this book so late in life; her lovely little dog; so many good bits!!! A lesson to us all to talk and listen to each other to record the histories of our parents and grandparents; otherwise, we will lose those precious links. — Colette O’Byrne, Dublin, Ireland

I found it so interesting. The book is beautifully done. — Janice V., Scranton, PA

Fascinating book… I just find the book absolutely well worth the read. I will pass it on to my mother when I am done reading, as I am sure she will enjoy it as well. Then I will continue to loan it out to others. — J.B.

rowing to Caladesi IslandMy father owned a fishing boat in Clearwater (the first one actually, the Seafever, which he and my family, but not me, I wasn’t born yet, brought down from New York in 1948) and so we always had john boats and skiffs and sailboats around. One year when I was about 8 years old my father, I and M., the son of his friend and employee, went to Hog Island to get a Christmas tree. We lashed 2-3 together, stuck them in a bucket of sand and moored them to the curtain rods to keep them from falling over, (which at least one did, one time.) We got our trees and we were heading back south to the Clearwater marina. We were in my sister’s sailboat, but not under sail, we had a little bitty, 6 hp engine and a mast with no sail that day. So as we were putting along, not going very fast, approaching the drawbridge to Clearwater Beach, M., who was about my age, was messing with the horn, pretending to play on it, like an instrument. We had to carry the horn because the bridge tender would need to raise the bridge since we had the tall mast. We were still quite far away from the bridge when the bridge tender started to raise the draw. That wouldn’t have been too bad, except at that moment the little dinky motor conked out, as it frequently did. My father tried and tried to get the stupid thing going and M. and I paddled like crazy but it took a really, really long time (seemed like years, but was probably 20 minutes or so) to get under that bridge. We backed up traffic to and from the island for ages, even made the paper. Such fame and fun. Clearwater Beach was a great place in those days, the 50’s and the 60’s. You didn’t have to be rich, the east and west streets weren’t paved… lots of fun things to do, like evacuating from hurricanes. We even had a goat for a short time when I was about 3-4 years old; she liked to ride on the city bus. I didn’t think I would ever be able to sleep without hearing the waves lapping outside my window; this was my big worry when we moved to S.H. when I was 15. — C.C.

I have always loved the story of Myrtle rowing to school. — Guy Balson, Clearwater Beach

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