BY SUE ERWIN – Pete Scott is a lucky island local who has experienced the good fortune of growing up in Boca Grande
before the island grew to become an international tourist destination.
After years of work experience both on and off the island in many different skill trades, he now spends six days every week working for the Johann Fust Library Foundation, keeping the grounds and buildings on the campus beautiful and inviting to guests.
Growing up, Pete attended Englewood Elementary School and then went on to Lemon Bay High School.
“That was back when Lemon Bay still used trailers for their classrooms and the middle school didn’t exist yet,” he said.
His father, Pete Scott, Sr., was a caretaker at Journey’s End on 18th Street on the island for years.
“I believe the Ingmans lived there at the time,” he said.
His father was also a marine mechanic and fishing charter captain.
When Pete was 14, his dad decided to move to Big Pine Key and continued his fishing business in the keys,
“Dad got tired of tarpon fishing, and he wanted to pursue lobster and stone crab fishing. My brother Marty stayed up here with my mother, Ruby Scott. My dad and I lived down there until 1993.”
During those years, Pete traveled back and forth regularly to visit his mother and brother.
“Fishing is hard work. The days on the water are really long. And I missed my mother and wanted to spend more time with her.”
Marty is currently a fishing charter captain on the island. He’s been fishing the local waterways for 25 years.
Ruby had a cleaning business, and Pete moved back to Boca Grande to help. She had that business for more than 40 years. She has since passed away, but Pete Sr. still resides on the island.
“Fishing in the keys just got too busy for him, dealing with 200 boats fishing near you all the time. He didn’t like the traffic,” Pete said. “But that’s just a natural result of so many people coming to Florida to see the natural resources that are available.”
Pete worked for a few years at the Pass Club at Boca Bay while it was being developed. Then he went to work as a heavy equipment operator.
“It was a really good opportunity. It was a time when everything was being bought, rebuilt and fixed up. It was a new adventure. I had different kinds of jobs all around the island, including construction, seawall repairs and taking apart and removing the phosphate dock,” Pete said. “I’ve always been a good, safe worker, and people look for those qualities … especially with complex jobs … safety always comes first.”
Pete eventually worked for several local contractors and bought a home in Grove City in 2000.
He worked at Rocky Creek Marina for a while, where he drove a forklift and moved boats around in and out of dry storage.
After that, he worked at the Boca Grande Post Office from 2000 to 2008 as a maintenance technician.
It was then that he took on a few private yard maintenance accounts, and soon after that he landed his current position at the library.
He likes his job because he enjoys making the area look beautiful for the patrons. “A power wash, a little paint and some fresh plants can make any place look so much more appealing,” he said.
As a young boy, Pete used to help his parents at Journey’s End with housecleaning and taking care of the grounds on the property.
The family stayed at Journey’s End while working there.
After his dad resigned from that job, some of his cousins took over as caretakers, and the family moved to the first “Dam” street.
Then his dad started working for the Fergusons, taking care of boats as well as the boat shed that was on the property.
Pete recalls washing boats and detailing cars for people on the island to earn extra money. He learned many different trades from his knowledgeable father, like how to work on marine and automobile engines.
“I also really enjoy doing yard maintenance, gardening and painting. I like being outdoors and in nature,” he said.
Pete said that growing up in Boca Grande in the 1970s was very different from how it appears today. “It was almost like a ghost town – especially during the summer months. The train depot had been condemned, and so was the old Boca Grande Hotel.”
Like many islanders at the time, Pete’s passion was fishing and reeling in tasty catches for dinner. Being on the island also inspired him to appreciate nature of all kinds.
“Red-breasted robins used to flock to the island by the hundreds every winter and eat the pepper tree berries. They were so pretty.”
Pete remembers spending a lot of time swimming at the beaches and body surfing the waves. He also recalls constantly dodging rattlesnakes, mosquitos and banana spiders when he was a kid.
“Back then there was a lot more water closer to the seawall. There used to be real good fishing from 1st Street to 8th Street right off the beaches, because the water was deeper. It made for easy fishing as a kid. Then the Army Corps of Engineers put the jetties in place to slow the current down.”
He’s caught his share of snook, redfish and whitings. It also was a great place for snorkeling, because the water was deep enough to float out and swim with the fish.
“I grew up fishing, and I did a lot of lobster and crabbing in the keys. I kind of lost interest in it after being out on the water six days a week for so many years. I’ve caught almost every kind of fish in the sea, and I do enjoy it every once in a while, but I get more satisfaction out of watching other people fish these days.”
Pete participated in the 1993 World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, and his team won first place.
“That was the last tournament I ever fished. I went out with a good finish,” he said.
Pete worked as a first mate for Capt. Raymond Rodriguez and a few other local captains for several years. He learned to mate when he was seven years old, when his father was a tarpon fishing guide.
“I’ve been baiting hooks and catching fish since then, up until about 10 years ago,” he said.
Although Pete has fished nearly his whole life, he doesn’t do very much of it these days. He’s had a few scary experiences in the water that are still fresh in his mind.
Once when he was speardiving in the keys and had a string of hogfish attached to his side, he saw a 12-foot bull shark swim up behind him.
“It took the flipper right off of my foot. It was my own mistake, because I was scuba diving near sunset and I should’ve known better, so I gave him all the fish I had on my string and he was content with that,” he said.
A scorpionfish also stung him on his thumb while he was trying to remove stone crabs from a trap, and his hand swelled up to three times its regular size.
After the bull shark experience and being poisoned from a scorpionfish sting, Pete decided it was time to give up the sport.
Currently, Pete is happy being semiretired and enjoys his home in Grove City. He said the area is quiet, which he likes, and he’s able to work on different projects like restoring a 1969 fiberglass boat.
“It’s a piece of old Florida where there isn’t too much traffic, and it’s located next to land owned by the state, so I get to see bobcats, owls, rabbits, eagles, quail … a lot of nature,” Pete said.
He also keeps busy with yard landscaping and gardening.
Pete is not married and has no children.
Right now, he is spending most of his days at the library, painting different parts of the building and spiffing things up for the season ahead.
Stop in the Johann Fust Library and say hello to the hard-working man who keeps the building looking so beautiful on a daily basis.