Growing up in Boca Grande in days gone by: History Bytes ‘Our bikes didn’t need brakes, because there were no cars around to stop for’

History Bytes 011716■ BY SUE ERWIN – Rick Montgomery and Loretta Tucker-Atha spoke to a crowd at the Johann Fust Library on Wednesday morning about their childhood memories of growing up in Boca Grande in the late 1960s through the early 1990s.

The event was part of the 2016 History Bytes series.

The Montgomery family lived above The Temptation restaurant and worked there for nearly three decades.

Rick said that growing up on the island was a unique experience.

“I didn’t come to realize that until I left the island to pursue a career with ESPN Sports Network. Then it dawned on me, years later, how good we had it as kids here,” Rick said.

Rick recalled that his parents ran The Temptation for 25 years.

“As a kid, I’d sit under one of the tables, wait there patiently and scare the ladies who eventually sat there,” Rick said.

He recalled seeing many celebrities in the Temp – including Neil Armstrong, Harrison Ford and Jimmy Buffett.

“I think Jimmy liked coming here to enjoy a cheeseburger in paradise,” Rick said.

Loretta remembers her dad literally driving his red pickup truck five miles per hour around the island.

“He wouldn’t go any faster. We’d sit on the flat bed and let our feet hang off the back. Then he’d tell us to scoot back in the truck, but how badly would we have gotten hurt falling off at five miles per hour?” she joked.

Loretta said that when the family left the island to get groceries, she would bring a pillow and sleep in the truck, since it took so long.

Both Rick and Loretta both said they know the island like the back of their hand.

“Our bikes didn’t need brakes, because there were no cars around to stop for,” Loretta said.

Rick said that although it sometimes could be boring growing up on the island, one good thing was that youngsters were never in need of food or treats.

“We could always fish and cook our catches. And another amazing treat on a hot summer day was, we would squeeze oranges over crushed ice. Oh, that was so refreshing and delicious,” Rick said.

Loretta said her dad, who worked at the Temp, would always be friendly to the tanker captains and tell them all the good places to eat at.

“So he would usually get invited to go out on the water with them, and being daddy’s little girl meant I got to go, too,” she said.

Loretta said that as kids they couldn’t wait to get off the island, and as adults they can’t wait to get back on. She and her husband have owned a vertical blind business in the area for the past 20 years.

Rick attended Ringling University and studied computer animation. He has worked for several major television networks but is slowly trying to make his way back to Boca Grande.

“As newer technology allows me to work from home, I will hopefully make it back here one day,” Rick said.

The program was free and open to the public.

U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management sponsored the event.

The next “Bytes” event will take place at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the library.

The Boca Grande Historical Society is always in need of more volunteers. For more information, call 964-1600.