“In the 1960s and 1970s, it was perfectly safe to ride anywhere—to the beach, the parks, the library, friends’ houses, and to school every day. In junior high we rode our bikes, trailing pull-carts with our golf clubs on them, to Lake Venice to play golf for $1 or $2 a round. Our parents had no worries when we rode off [with] no cell phones and no plans. We would just show up back home in time for dinner.” — Jeffrey A. Boone, Esq., Boone, Boone, Boone & Koda, P.A.

“In the 1980s and 1990s, we lived in Venice Acres. There was nothing out by Auburn Road. We used to drive our cars fast on the old dirt road that was Border Road. We’d look for the ‘ghost motorcycle’ out on Center Road. We tubed down the flooded streets when hurricanes came through. We body surfed at Venice Beach when the waters were rough. We played baseball at Wellfield, walked over to the Farm Store to get a Gatorade, or went to grab a bite to eat at Buddy’s Pizza.” —Justin Pachota, Venice Pier Group vice president 

“In the summer of 1967 when I was 12, we moved from Kalamazoo, Michigan, expecting to find the Florida of TV show Gentle Ben, about a family with a pet bear, an air boat, flamingos, alligators and snakes. What we found was our little house on Gulf Street with jalousie windows, terrazzo floors and no central air. It was hot. We [would] ride our bikes to the Rialto Shopping Center and cool down in the air-conditioned stores. The younger crowd met up at the tennis courts, while at the beach pavilion, the 'rednecks' hung out on the right side and the 'hippies' on the left. But everyone loved to cruise down Nokomis Avenue to Venice Avenue and then west towards the beach and back again.” —Jan Lugar, VHS Alumni Association president

“Growing up in Venice, all I could think of was getting out. When my family asked me to move back to start a family business, I didn’t want to live in Florida, but I wanted to be around family. Shortly after I moved back in 2003, my brother died in a tragic accident. [At] the funeral home, the line of more than 500 people [waiting] to speak to us was out the door and wrapped three sides of the building. Every principal and teacher my brother and I ever had. Every boss and co-worker my parents ever had. All of our friends. That night I realized this small town had become our family.” —Kelly Olliver, British Open Pub owner

“I moved to Venice from Bradenton midway through my middle school years. I was taken aback by the difference in population age, but I [soon] became awestruck at how close-knit Venice felt. People were friendlier, and the entire town rallied around Venice High School. I still smile when I remember how my teammates and I jumped into the Intracoastal Waterway during a break from late summertime practice.” —David Joyner, Joyner Family Insurance agent and owner 

“I spent much of my childhood sailing prams in Roberts Bay and keel boats in the Gulf. When I wasn’t sailing I was surfing at the jetties, and when there wasn’t any surf we would go water skiing in the bay. My friend Rod Koch and I would go waterskiing early in the morning and not see another boat for hours. The water was as smooth as glass." — Shaun D. Graser, DMD 

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