he following essay was written by Leslie H. Roberts sometime after the Fall of 1934. Thus he would have been about 20 years old. This edition was typed by his Nephew WH Roberts in May of 1996 in an effort to preserve historical information on the Roberts' family. The word pictures painted herein give a glimpse of what it was like for two brothers growing up on the Manatee river. All italics were added by WH Roberts for clarity. The original was found among some old papers belonging to Leslie's mother and has been returned to Leslie Roberts.


I was born on the tenth day of July in the year nineteen hundred and fourteen, at the home of my Grandmother Jennings on the banks of the Rapahannock River in Kelly's Ford, Virginia.

The river is very rocky and shallow except for deep holes. It was not navigable except for small rafts and the like.


Shortly after my birth my family and I returned to ManaVista in the Atwood Grapefruit Company, Manatee County, Florida where my family had formerly lived before my birth.

My new home was on the edge of the Manatee River. My earliest recollection of the river is watching the lights of the steamers at night. The entire crop of Grapefruit was shipped by steamer. When I was yet a babe-in-arms, my parents used to take me in a twenty one foot open motor boat and go across the river to Manatee, a little town across the river, where my parents would buy their weekly supply of groceries.

Always there was a row-boat in front of my home and my oldest brother (
Wilbur Jennings Roberts) and I were as much at home in the boat, bobbing around in a raft or playing in the water.


About the time I went to school, my parents bought me a pair of water-wings and I would lie on my stomach supported by the water-wings. As the water-wings wore out, I gradually learned to swim and before I knew it, I was swimming.

When I first started to school we would row across the river and back every day.


In September of 1925 my father resigned his position with the Atwood Co. and we moved across the river to Manatee where my Grandmother Roberts lived. Here I have lived ever since.

(He also resigned as Postmaster of Manavista at the same time.)
(Grandfather WP Roberts had died about three years before)


In the Spring of 1932, Jimmie Dennis, a friend of ours, told Wilbur and I that he had a sailboat and that if we would fix the bottom, we could use it. This we did and I had my first experience with sail.

She was a round bottom sloop rig 21 feet long , 8 foot beam, with a centerboard. We sailed her that Spring and in the Summer four of us took a trip to Sarasota Bay in her. There we spent about a week.

She was wrecked sometime in late 1932 or early 1933.


In the Winter of 1933 we had some lumber that belonged to the Boy Scouts and to get it out of the road we built a boat.

She is 16 feet long, about 5 feet beam and flat bottom. She was built with a centerboard and ?????????? rigged as a cat boat. Later we moved her centerboard aft and made her a sloop, with the addition of a bow sprit. In the Fall of 1934 we took her out of the water where she is at present.