When I barely turned fifteen years of age my mother married William Lund Sheppard. This retired Budd Railway executive, owner of several patents, and graduate of M.I.T., became my stepfather.
Bill Sheppard soon turned my childhood bedroom into his home office. There he hand-built a very well-built oversized engineer’s drafting table. I well remember my stepdad standing over this table, making drawings, erasing errant lines, turning around to the cabinet behind him to play the B-side of some record he was enjoying while he was working.
At first Bill Sheppard volunteered to design, and even build, ‘sets’ for the Manatee Players. Well built pieces such as staircases which the actors would use to run up and down and off the stage.
Soon, however, he turned his attention to the City of Bradenton itself, and quickly immersed himself in its preservation. He took on two major tasks ~
The preservation of ‘Old Main Street’
And the preservation of ‘Manatee Village Historical Park’
Which features an old locomotive ~
Making absolute sense considering my stepdad’s earlier career with Budd Railway.
I can sincerely say in all truth that Bradenton would not have these important historical sites, where people gather day and night to dine, drink and socialize, or to stroll and even plan a wedding surrounded by our past, if it hadn’t been for my stepdad.
I possess several old cassette tapes of my stepfather giving talks and chairing meetings around town discussing preserving Bradenton’s heritage. I recall many times when he and my mom would travel across the U.S. to visit other attractive and successful locations that had been preserved by their local populace. The Director of the ‘Manatee County Historical Records Library’ has personally shown me volumes of books all written, some by hand, by my stepdad. The contents of each containing great detail, typical of him, as to how these two Bradenton amenities should be and eventually did become preserved.
Perhaps the next time you’re enjoying a glass of wine or a cold beer along Old Main Street, or imagining you’re a railroad conductor, you might tip your glass or give an imaginary train whistle of thanks to Bill Sheppard, my stepdad. I am certain, even though he is no longer on this earthly plane, he will appreciate it.
© Hans Carl Clausen
President & Director
Captured On Film Productions Inc
A non-profit corporation expressly formed to educate and to inspire.