During the late 1990s, Lee Irby—a graduate student in history at USF—wrote his master’s thesis on the migration of retirees to St. Petersburg. As part of his research, he interviewed Fred E. Wilder, a veteran of the Second World War who moved to southeastern St. Petersburg in 1953. Wilder had acquired four acres of land at the intersection of Sixth Street and Thirty-second Avenue (formerly Bayou Lake Avenue) South. By 1954, he opened Wilder’s Trailer Park, with offices located at 770-32nd Avenue South. During the next few years, Wilder’s Park became a magnet for retirees from other areas in search of a second home for the winter season. Senior citizens made up nearly 90% of the park’s early population. By the fall of 1956, residents began to receive Wilder’s Park News, a newsletter highlighting events at the park. For over twenty-three years, Henry Crossley served as editor of this publication. Issues include news of pot-luck suppers, social events, classified advertisements, and various recreational activities for park members. Publication coincided with the traditional period when seasonal residents stayed at the park, usually from November through April. Irby acquired this collection of newsletters, as well as occasional lists of residents and other notices, from Fred Wilder during his thesis research. Lee donated these materials on Wilder’s behalf for use by future researchers.
Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. Special Collections and University Archives.; Schnur, James Anthony; and Crossley, Henry, "Wilder's Park Collection : A Finding Aid" (2002). Special Collections and University Archives Finding Aids: All Items. 32.
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