Earlier this month, the Women of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church presented “Sanibel’s Founding Mothers,” a play written and directed by parishioner Dory Rooker. The skit presented a picture of everyday life on Sanibel as seen through the eyes of early women settlers.
As inspiration for writing the play, Rooker points to her passion for women’s history. “Women have often been left out of our history. We need to recognize and celebrate their contributions,” she said. “I wrote this particular dramatization to honor women who had the strength and courage to face the frontier that was Sanibel Island.”
The settlers and the actors portraying them were Jo Bowen as Irene Rutland Shanahan, Rooker as Anna Woodring, Carol Heath as Clementine Gibson, Marilyn McNamara as Mrs. Henry Shanahan, Bettie Modys as Letitia Nutt and Georgia Barnes Martha Ponader as Georgia Barnes. The members of the cast were all attired in costumes from the late 1800s.
The play illustrated the hardships of early life on a remote island: Smudge pots and nets to cope with mosquitoes, land-clearing and farming, raising and educating children in primitive conditions, and ministering to spiritual needs. The players also shared stories of the many pleasures of this early time, including baseball games, candy pulling, picnics, log rolling parties, fish fries and dances.