235 19th Ave NE 33704

Then and Now — 1935 & 2022 — 235 19th Ave NE

From 1935: “You are invited to inspect this attractive home. You will like the arrangement of the large and sunlit rooms, the splendid, tiled bathroom, and many other conveniences attached. The grounds are large and well planted in shrubbery with magnificent shade trees in the rear. Two-car garage with private side drive. The house is fully and completely furnished, and ready for immediate occupancy. This may be just the place you are looking for, so do not fail to see it today. The price is $5500. Sold by F.J. Burns”

This house was originally owned in 1928 by Clarence and Toy Zimmerman. Clarence Gilbert Zimmerman was born in Philadelphia on July 19, 1896, the sixth of nine children born to Daniel and May Zimmerman. Clarence received his schooling in Philadelphia but dropping out of High School in 1911 to go to work.

On May 5, 1917, 21 year old Clarence joined the US Army and was shipped to France to fight during WWI. On October 15, 1918, while fighting in Meuse-Argonne, Clarence and his company were gassed by the Germans. Clarence survived but not without sustaining serious lung injuries that would haunt him the rest of his life. He continued his service until the end of the war when he was discharged on July 26, 1919.

In 1924 Clarence decided to move to St. Pete where he took a job with the Gandy Bridge Company. In 1926 he met Ms. Toy Lawson, daughter of a local, and well respected, police officer, Green “Dad” Lawson. Toy was a St. Pete High graduate of 1921. The couple hit it off and were married on June 2, 1928, at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Tampa.

Toy Zimmerman

Following their wedding the couple purchased this featured house to start their marriage. However, timing was not on their side and 1929 was a tough year for the country and for the Zimmermans. The market crash caused Clarence to be looking for work and there was none in St. Pete. The couple sold their new house and moved back to Pennsylvania. In 1930 they were living in a boarding house, Clarence working as a salesman and Toy as a domestic servant for a private family.

In 1934, Clarence’s breathing was causing him real issues and he applied for, and received, VA medical benefits for the gassing he received in the Argonne in WWI. Although not a lot of income, it did help a little.

By 1935 they were able to move back to St. Pete, but times were still tough, Clarence was working for an Amusement Company and Toy was working as a cashier/bookkeeper for a local restaurant. The couple was living at 3452 ½ Haines Rd.

Clarence died here in St. Pete on October 21, 1940, age 44, no doubt related to his lung injury in WWI. He is buried at Royal Palm South Cemetery in St. Pete.

Toy survived Clarence by 46 years, she passed away on June 21, 1986, age 83.

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