The story of what brought Martin Abraham Martin to Melbourne, Florida is lost in more than 100 years of morning mist rising off the Indian River. It was 1882. He was known as double-barreled Martin because of his first and last name.
Meanwhile, in 1869, three young adventurers, Edson Boyd Arnold, and his two brothers, Calvin and Will, made their way from their home in Thomasville, Ga., to St. Augustine. There they bought a small sailboat and sailed down the Halifax and Indian Rivers looking for a suitable place to homestead. They settled near the Martins in an area known then as Gobbler Head.
The land was rich and black and covered with palm, oak and hickory trees. The Arnolds planted banana trees along the riverbank. Orange groves went in behind a wind break of pine trees. The native Seminoles were friendly and kept them supplied with venison and wild hog meat. The river abounded with fish, oyster and wild duck. Both families thrived.
In 1911, the families were joined when Sam Martin met and married Nina Arnold. They were children of the original settler families. In 1897, Sam started a boat building business in Melbourne. During Prohibition, he may have made a few boats for rum runners.
Six children came along; Marshall, Boyd, Mabel, Louise, Shirley, and Charles. Louise was my husband’s mom. Only Shirley is left and we love her dearly.
With that much family history, it’s always a sentimental journey when Eric and I visit Florida every couple of years. We always start out in Melbourne where Aunt Shirley and Uncle Eddy spend a few winter months in a 99-year-old cottage. It was once owned by mom and Shirley’s brother, Boyd. He was a bridge tender in the days when someone had to raise the drawbridge to allow boat traffic to continue up or down the Indian River.
The cottage was just a short walk away. It has always been in the family and has stood strong through nearly a century of hurricanes. It’s not fancy but it has charm and we always feel warmly welcomed.
From there we travel up the coast to visit cousins in Jacksonville and then down to the St. Augustine area and a tiny speck on the map known as Glimpse of Glory. Finally, we trek across the state to Tampa to visit Aunt Rubye, who always wears pink in honor of her name.
Her husband, Marshall, was the first son born to Sam and Nina. He’s been gone for a long time but Aunt Rubye still speaks of him with warmth and deep devotion. She will be 90 this year. She has some health issues but she still treats us as honored guests when we stop by. For one thing, she always calls us precious children. That alone would keep us coming back.
On our recent visit in mid-February, she had prepared a beautiful bowl of ripe strawberries from nearby Plant City where they were at the peak of season. Then, she popped a tray of bruschetta into the oven. It was so delicious I asked for the recipe and she was glad to oblige. It just takes minutes to prepare and can be made ahead and then heated when your guests arrive.
Karyn Lindberg has called Olympia home since 1988. She is passionate about cooking and entertaining. She believes good recipes are meant to be shared
Aunt Rubye’s Bruschetta
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
Small can of chopped olives
1 cup sliced, stuffed green olives
Small bunch of green onions, chopped
6 to 8 fresh mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces shredded mozzarella or Italian style cheese
French bread, baguette or cocktail loaf
To start, put a cup each of mayonnaise and softened butter in a medium mixing bowl. I gave Earth Balance a try instead of butter and was surprised to find it is just as good as butter. I am from Wisconsin and never thought I would be saying such a thing. However, this product is lactose free, has no trans- or hydrogenated fats and each tablespoon has 400 mg of ALA Omega 3. It’s also vegan. The calorie and fat gram count is not much less than butter but it helps boost the good cholesterol.
Add a small can (about 4 ounces) of chopped black olives; a cup of sliced green olives; a small bunch of green onions (six to eight) chopped, including some of the green parts and six to eight mushrooms, sliced. Add an eight-ounce bag of shredded mozzarella and mix everything thoroughly.
Aunt Rubye used a loaf of French bread, sliced in half the long way. However, I found a loaf of sliced garlic bread in the day-old sale bin and used it instead. The mixture could really be thickly spread on your favorite bread from cocktail-size slices to a whole baguette.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture is hot and bubbly. If you have used a whole loaf, slice the baked halves into serving size pieces. Thanks Aunt Rubye. You are very precious to us too, you know.