Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Yorker Florence Sharkey Remembers More Trusting Time

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Yorker Florence Sharkey Remembers More Trusting Time

Article excerpt

The world of Florence Sharkey's youth was filled with music, specifically, piano music.

"Everyone had a piano. They played games, sat around the piano and sang," she said.

Sharkey was 5 years old in 1900. The world, she said, has changed since then.

"Now instead of a piano in the home, they have a computer."

In her 105 years, Sharkey has seen hundreds of changes. The ones that have affected her most, however, are in people, not in things.

Born Dec. 13, 1894, Sharkey said she has seen a degradation in human nature that has resulted in the loss of neighborliness and honesty.

"You could trust your neighbors," she said from a chair at Quality Health of Fernandina Beach. "Your neighbors were your friends. You helped each other. You could trust them."

No longer can people leave home with doors unlocked.

"We've lost peace and trust," she said. Sharkey felt the loss before she moved to Jacksonville more than a decade ago from the Long Island town of Manhasset, where she had three locks on her door. That was quite a change from the safety and security she had known in her earlier years.

Sharkey grew up on 136th Street in New York, the only child on the block with a tricycle, she said.

After she married Henry Sharkey, a certified public accountant, in 1923, they remained in New York until they built a Tudor-style house in Manhasset, a city on western Long Island. Henry Sharkey had fought in World War I in Europe, where he suffered from the effects of a gas attack and shell shock and spent a long time in a Belgian hospital, Sharkey said.

In those days, milk and ice were delivered and people bought only the groceries they needed for one day.

"You had to walk there so you couldn't carry much," she said.

After they bought their first car, a Nash, Florence Sharkey learned to drive. She wanted to make their first trip a drive to Atlantic City, something her worried mother discouraged. It was before the days of expressways and that meant she had to drive through the busy cities of Newark and Elizabeth before hitting the open road. …

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