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Patriotic Poriferan: 1920

Patriotic Poriferan: 1920

Feb. 25, 1920. Washington, D.C. "Herbert J. Drane, Congressman from Florida, is from Tarpon Springs, which is said to be the largest sponge market in the world. Mr Drane's office gives the appearance of a permanent sponge exhibit. The walls are covered with sponges of every size and variety. Photo shows Mr. Drane with some of his choice specimens." National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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Well-made furniture

Who says Congress isn't frugal? Several pieces of the furniture seen here are still in circulation today. The desk, made by the Wanamaker Company, was originally a roll top desk, and there are a handful of those still in use (although none that I know of with the upper portion still attached). The Turkish chair in the corner is a highly prized item. There are dozens of those still in offices.

Something is amiss

I expected to see square pants in this picture.


Sponges are muscles filled with wind. They're at home in DC.

I thought

he was holding a meteorite, and how strong he must be. The moral of this is always read first.

The Congressman was from Lakeland

Herbert Drane was a resident and one of the founders of the that city. Tarpon Springs was in his district. Florida was sparsely populated in those days and only had four congressional districts.


Not a fun photo for us trypophobes. *urp*

Sponge-diving movies

One of my favorite movies as a kid was "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef" with Gilbert Roland and Robert Wagner as a father-son sponge-diving team. Another I saw on a late show was "Down to the Sea," set in Tarpon Springs. Interesting that when people want to talk about new technology putting an industry out of business they think buggy whips. Real sea sponges losing out to the new cellulose sponges was just as traumatic.

Credit to Steven Wright

Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen.

Shriner lapel pin

Many variations exist, but the basic layout is a sphinx head framed by two Bengal tiger claws in the shape of a crescent, a scimitar sword and a red jeweled star. The pin below is circa. 1900 and is composed of real cat claws, silver and gold. The double star is enameled in blue and displays the word Allah. The whole pin is less than an inch and a half wide across the claws.

Greeks in Tarpon Springs

Despite the congressman being from Pinellas County, the two pennants on the wall that I can read are from Polk County: Lakeland is the largest town in the county, and Bartow is the county seat. The sponge fishers in Tarpon Springs were almost exclusively Greeks, and by the time I was in high school plenty of them had migrated to my town. Since Greek boys were traditionally named after their paternal grandfather, the number of them I went to school with named George and the same last name was alarming! One I attended junior college with is now the head of Walt Disney World. He was working as a busboy there when I knew him.

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