Sentimental Journey: Another Example of How CIHS Keeps History Alive
On February 13, the Captiva Island Historical Society screened an event encore, a video replay of “Sentimental Journey,” at the Captiva Civic Association. The original live performance presented on December 7, 2021, in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, is based on Captiva during the years of World War II. Monday’s pre-recorded encore was attended by an appreciative and enthusiastic audience.
CIHS archivist, Queenie Viglione, composed the script from the historical society’s online archives, as well as from the book “Tales from the Rain Barrel,” written by the late Ken Sushil. Ken’s father had been groundskeeper for Mr. Chadwick in the 1940’s and the Sushil family lived on the property we now know as South Seas Island Resort.
Seventeen members of the Sushil family reunited at the event, arriving from far corners of the country, to view the showing. Ken Sushil’s grandson, Harley Sushil, commented on his fondness for his recently departed grandfather, and his appreciation for the CIHS hosting the family for the performance.
Mike Boris, CIHS Vice President extended a warm welcome to the eager audience and recognized Megan Marquardt, Senior VP of The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, thanking the Trust Company for their season sponsorship of the CIHS. During Mr. Boris’ opening remarks he was “interrupted” by audience member Dennis Trooien of Minnesota who announced he was making a $500 gift to the CIHS in honor of all veterans.
CIHS Vice-President Mike Boris
Prior to the start of the “Sentimental Journey” program, Mr. Boris introduced Harley Sushil who spoke on behalf of the family, reminiscing about being on a boat as a young boy with his grandfather as he regaled him with stories of his early years on Captiva and talking about writing a book, which Harley encouraged him to do. In 2017, Mr. Sushil eventually published the book chronicling the war years on Captiva. “While Harley was speaking it seemed so intimate as if we were all part of the Sushil family paying tribute to his grandfather,” said Mary Jane Vinson, a CIHS Director and Events Chair.
Harley Sushil shares memories of his grandfather Ken Sushil,
whose book influenced the program
For a better part of an hour the audience was engrossed, clapping and laughing, as fictional character Vernon, a ,former WWII veteran, played by Austin Church, read the letters he received while overseas from his family and friends on Captiva. The content of the letters brought to life what historically was happening on Captiva during the war - and the effect the war had on the island and its inhabitants. Singer and pianist Terri Shaffer amplified the story with musical interludes of 40s tunes.
Ginny Reiss, a CIHS Director, had this to add: “In addition to being very informative, ‘Sentimental Journey’ provided attendees with a heartwarming evening. The program was not only a tribute to Ken Sushil, but a time when members of his family were able to gather and share family stories and memories. There was lots of laughter as well as a few tears. It was abundantly clear how very proud his family was of him.”
After the show the audience enjoyed gathering for cupcakes and conviviality.
The CIHS returns to the Captiva Civic Center on March 14 at 5:30p for Captiva History Movie Night. Beginning with the short film “Captiva’s Influence on Anne Morrow Lindbergh,” then followed by the full-length documentary, “Be Our Guest: The History of Lodging on Captiva & Sanibel,” which takes a closer look at historic accommodations of the two islands; from rooming house to resorts.
Dennis Trooien who announced he was making a generous gift in honor of all veterans.
As in past seasons, the CIHS is grateful to the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company for their financial support. This community focused organization has supported the CIHS for many years, helping us produce our programs.