This year’s History Day program focused on presenting to Class XVIII the history of Collier County and Naples in a meaningful and chronological way. By foregoing the usual trip to Everglades City, we were able to provide additional educational offerings, eliminate two hours of travel time, and save considerable expense.

We had an excellent lineup of speakers who provided the basic historical background necessary to educate the class. The three venues, Collier County Museum, Naples Depot Museum, and Backyard History Museum, provided a great atmosphere for the formal education segment. The afternoon session was more participatory with an extended walking tour of old Naples and a personal tour of the vintage home of acclaimed artist Paul Arsenault and his wife, Eileen.

Another special offering was the “Voices of Naples” – three of Naples’ senior legends, Lavern “Lal” Gaynor, Mary Watkins, and John R. Wood, provided their personal histories in a panel discussion moderated by Peter Thomas. This special gathering was particularly poignant since one of their dearest friends and another Naples legend, Earl Hodges, died just days before, and his memorial service was that afternoon. Their personal testimony bridged the gap between the day’s earlier lectures and pictures and helped make Naples’ history come alive.

Dennis Hansch