It was a terrific day as friends, family and members of the public showed up to see the official ribbon cutting ceremony of Snookey Park. The park is a natural oasis in the heart of historic Lady Lake. Named for U.S. Navy Veteran Atticus”Snookey” Blanton, who was lost on the USS Arizona in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The event was beautiful under the shady Florida Oak Trees that loom large over the park.
(The event was beautiful and held under the impressive Florida Oak Trees that make up a good portion of the park.)
Snookey Park is a natural preserve with a 2,000 foot walking trail. surrounded by a canopy of cedar, live oaks, water oaks and palm trees. It features amenities such as picnic shelters, water fountains and restrooms. “Snookey Park is the long-awaited passive recreation facility in the Town of Lady Lake” said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Burske. “We are fortunate to have the support of the Commission to help us preserve this beautiful and historic area of Lady Lake.
Atticus “Snookey” Blanton was born on Dec. 20, 1920 in Fort Myers and grew up among family in Lady Lake. At age 18, during the Great Depression, he found himself without job experience and decided to join the Navy. In 1940, he enlisted and his early letters home talked about his good fortune in being assigned to the USS Arizona, which was docked in California.
(The plaque dedicated to Atticus “Snooky” Blanton gives the story of his history and the sacrifice he made so that we may live free.)
“Snookey,” then a Shipfitter 3rd Class, told his family that his ship was sailing to Pearl Harbor. What he did not know was that on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan would order an attack on the Navy base and ships at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USS Arizona was struck by eight armor-piercing bombs. It is thought that most of the Arizona’s crew members died instantly during the explosion. More than 1,100 sailors and Marines were lost along with the ship.
(A large crowd of onlookers take in the morning’s ceremony.)
Snookey’s 16-year-old sister, Patricia, was in the Lady Lake Methodist Church that life-altering Sunday completing plans for the annual Christmas program. She was interrupted by the devastating news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ten days later, Snookey’s mother, Annie Lottie Blanton, sat upright and stared into the sunset after receiving the telegram from the War Department. It read: “Your son Atticus Lee Blanton is missing in action.” A month later, a second telegram arrived, which read the same as the first, but continued with “and presumed dead.”
The Town of Lady Lake is honored to dedicate Snooky Park in honor of lost hometown hero, Atticus “Snookey” Blanton.