1961: Jefferson Davis Baskin turns 100

Published April 30, 2007

APRIL 29, 1961

CLEARWATER - There's still a twinkle in the pale blue eyes that have watched the South's progress since the Civil War.

There's still a chuckle in the voice that now quavers with age.

There are still many smiles on the thin lips of Jefferson Davis Baskin, who turns 100 today.

"J.D." is one of Clearwater's most distinguished pioneer citizens and will celebrate his centennial at a dinner party this evening at the Jackson Road home of his only living son, attorney and former Clearwater mayor H.H. Baskin Sr. Besides his family, J.D.'s guests will include about 60 of his former fishing buddies, some from as far away as Yankeetown.

"We have Dad's birthday here every year, " says his son. "This year his cake will have one candle, to represent one century."

J.D. and his housekeeper live in a two-story white frame house set well back from the sidewalk at 107 S Fort Harrison Ave. The house was about 2 years old when he bought it and moved his family to Clearwater 60 years ago. It was built by one of his oldest friends, Albert Sidney Nelson of Largo, who turns 103 this July.

Mr. Baskin spends much of his time in his bedroom, which is filled with yellowed photographs and mementos.

"I reckon no man ever had a better recollection than I have, " J.D. said with a smile. One of his earliest recollections concerns his birthplace, a big farm near Perry, Ga., and his name.

"When the war ended there was a rumor that the Yankees were going to kill all boys named for the president of the Confederacy, " he recalled. "My mother wanted my dad to change my name, but he refused. One day when I was about 4 years old, some strange men approached me while I was sitting on a fence near my home. They asked me my name. When I said 'Jeff Davis, ' they threw back their heads and laughed and laughed. My mother was so scared she locked me in a bedroom the rest of the day. She said they were Yankee soldiers - and I guess they were. Until then, when I'd heard my folks talk about Yankees, I thought they were referring to some kind of animal."

APRIL 24, 1930

Aviation stunts too close for comfort

CLEARWATER - Aviators flying low and doing stunts in the air over residences near the Clearwater landing field are causing a great deal of annoyance to dwellers in the section east of the country club, according to a protest presented before the City Commission.

"There are laws for the proper operation of automobiles, why not for airplanes?" was the question put up to the city solons. City Manager Riddle declares that he has a simple ordinance for regulation of an airport, based on one in use in the national capital, that will be submitted to the City Commission in the near future for passage at an early date.

APRIL 21, 1930

UDC sundown rites Saturday

CLEARWATER - The Mary Custis Lee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will hold a sundown service Saturday at the Clearwater cemetery as part of the Southland's Confederate Memorial Day services for the heroic dead of the Confederacy.

A military salute, songs and eulogies will form the program, and the recently organized Children of the Confederacy will play an important role in evening's observances.

Veterans and their wives, and widows of veterans, will find automobiles awaiting them at the city park on Osceola Avenue to take them to the cemetery.

Mayor H.H. Baskin will deliver the memorial address and Rev. A.J. Kroelinger of Calvary Baptist Church will say a prayer for the souls of the dead.

North Pinellas History is compiled by Clearwater Times staff writer Theresa Blackwell. She can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

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