By STEPHEN FLANAGAN JACKSON
Whether you like your history pre-historic or a bit more current, the Ruskin Branch Library has a little something for both tastes. Now available for public view in the exhibit display cases are some fossils and replicas estimated to date back approximately 1.5 million years ago. The other new exhibit put together painstakingly by the library staff features a brief history of the St. Anne Catholic Church in Ruskin.
The pre-historic displays are a sample offering of what is provided at the Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum. The Ruskin Library is a compact presentation of a few fossils, newspaper articles and photos from the exciting Leisey Shell Pit discovery of 1983, 6 miles from Ruskin. Here in the library reading room you can view a real — as in genuine and real old — saber tooth cat skull featuring some horrendous canine (or are they feline) front teeth. No skulls are in the display cabinet from other animals but there are more teeth from such oldies as sloth, giant tapir, llama, mastodon and mammoths — all of which occupied this area an estimated 2 million years ago.
Scientific history was changed when the world’s greatest collection of Pleistocene fossils was uncovered in what is now referred to as the “Miracle at Cockroach Bay.” Paleontologists from all over the world flocked to the Leisey Shell Pit in southern Hillsborough County, uncovering scores of fantastic creatures from prehistoric times, some of them previously unknown to science. This display of objects in the library is representative of what you would see in the preserve, a small, nonprofit museum located inside Camp Bayou Nature Preserve at 4140 24th St. S.E. The Preserve is open to the public on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment. The library exhibit runs through March 2, so you better get on over there for your enjoyment and amazement.
The second new exhibit in this double feature is a quick review of the history of St. Anne Catholic Church with a small color picture of its humble beginnings on May 22, 1956. That small church was razed in 2007. The library exhibit, which will be up for several months, displays photos from the construction and dedication of the new church in 2009 under the leadership of the pastor Father John McEvoy. Also displayed are past and present parish bulletins and other religious artifacts and a miniature statue of St. Anne with her daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The parish of St. Anne now serves approximately 3,400 registered families, about 40 Hispanic or Latino. It also has a social hall, a food pantry and a related St. Vincent de Paul Society, which serves people in need.
The Ruskin Branch Library is at 26 Dickman Drive, Ruskin, and is part of the Hillsborough County Public Library system. The Ruskin branch is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more information, call 813-273-3652 and ask for Michelle Michaud, branch manager.