Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man Bird Could Ruffle a Crowd

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man Bird Could Ruffle a Crowd

Article excerpt

Walk through Brentwood. Hold hands with the hushed past.

Each street has had its families, bred and fled perhaps. Each street has its memories. If there be ghosts, surely they linger here.

Brentwood is a place of stories and legend, tales passed through the generations.

The story of Man Bird is one, and it is true.

In January 1913, the suburb of Brentwood muscled onto the Jacksonville frontier.

A new wave of suburbs bid to redefine the city: Brentwood, Murray Hill Heights, the "new" Riverside.

Brentwood burgeoned north of Springfield, a place of forests bordering a cornfield, where a housing project one day would be.

C.W. Bartleson and B.F. Hampton ramrodded the Brentwood Realty Investment Co.

Their suburb had a leg up, courtesy of city, state and federal governments. Brentwood was in the right place at the right time.

"Millions of dollars will be spent in improvements," said advertisements in the daily prints.

Municipal docks soon would open nearby. The Main Street car line would pass two blocks away.

The state was improving property nearby. The county had just built a school.

Davis Street, Springfield Park Boulevard and Lem Turner Road were being paved (Lem Turner would be straightened and run through the heart of the development, so they said).

Top it off with manna from heaven and who could resist.

So the company hired Man Bird to drop money from an airplane.

The airplane itself still was a spectacle, a sight alone to draw a crowd.

An airplane dropping free money was even better.

More than 6,000 people surged to Brentwood Sunday, Jan. 19, 1913, to watch "Man Bird" Charles K. Hamilton drop money from an airplane and to quite possibly get them some.

The attention of the populace thus engaged, the developers explained the "money" would be certificates good for a payment on a Brentwood lot.

The wiry aviator was to fly low and drop 1,000 envelopes. Of these, 125 would contain certificates from $10 to $35.

(This was before there were laws against provoking stampede or spontaneous community mayhem.)

Man Bird was considered "one of the best known aviators in the business. …

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