Meet MMHS Board Member Roger Sallas and learn why he loves Mandarin. Many will recognize Roger as a Spanish soldier, dressed in full uniform for Winter Celebration, or as the Losco Winery storyteller, always there to tell folks about the Losco family and their log cabin winery building that was moved to the park. After several years of volunteering in these and many other ways, Roger now serves on the Board of Directors, heading up the Facilities Committee.
I was asked to put together a brief outline about what I love about Mandarin so I looked at all the write-ups from current board members for inspiration. There are references to growing up in Mandarin, having parents, grandparents, great-grandparents who were Mandarin residents and references to having moved to Mandarin in more recent years. I can’t personally make a Mandarin connection in my family tree, only a connection to Florida that goes back seven generations to 1766 when my great-great-great-great-grandparents were recruited to come to Florida from the island of Menorca as indentured workers to toil in an ill-fated indigo plantation called New Smyrna. A combination of the failure of Turnbull’s plantation and a chance migration of a Spanish mariner named Jose Candalaria Salas to St. Augustine in the 1790s led to a marriage between Jose Candalaria and Juana Segui, the daughter of one of the Menorcans colonists. Some 250 years later, we are still hanging around North Florida. My family history includes a big chunk of Florida history, which explains my interest in Florida history. My early childhood Mandarin memories involve my Dad loading us all in the car for Sunday drives that frequently included stops at the Little Train, a ride under the moss covered oaks along Mandarin Road, and a scary ride across the river on the rickety old Shands Bridge.
I am proud of my Florida heritage and I enjoy passing on my interest and stories about Florida, so when I found an opportunity to be a docent at Walter Jones Park a few years ago, I accepted the challenge. I enjoy talking to the visitors, sharing tidbits of Florida and Mandarin history, and meeting relatives of the Loscos, Daneses, Bowdens, Hartleys, Pellicers, Hauts, Ghiottos, and other early Mandarin families.