As a proud descendant of the Minorcans who settled in St. Augustine, Robert (“Bobby”) Solano lived a life filled with youthful adventures. He was a product of Northeast Florida, growing up on the border between Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach. As a child, accompanying his beloved Pop, he “skeetered” over sand dunes and coquina bogs along a 30-mile stretch of coastline from Jacksonville Beach to Vilano Beach, searching for mullet and turtle eggs. After graduation from Fletcher High School, Bobby Solano put the lessons of his youth to work as an adult and achieved success beyond his wildest dreams.
Solano has written and published his life story, “The Last Beach Boy: A True American Story of Life and Adventure” (Windrusher Hall Press), and will appear at the Beaches Museum, 381 Beach Blvd., to discuss it at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24.
The book has many historical ties to St. Augustine and Jacksonville Beach, including how he and Pop were present the night Nazi spies landed on Ponte Vedra Beach. “The Last Beach Boy” includes tales of his encounters with diamondback rattlers, wild boars and sharks, as well as his days at Fletcher High School where he captained the basketball team that won the 1954 state championship.
Readers will learn that after graduating from high school, Solano was about to take a job digging ditches when he received a phone call that changed his life. He became a pioneer with one of the first ICEE franchises before launching his own KOOLEE frozen drink business. With his partner he grew that business, eventually serving more than 2,500 convenience stores.
Solano will appear with his co-author Victor DiGenti to discuss his life and sign copies of “The Last Beach Boy,” which the museum will have available for sale. The event is free, and refreshments will be served.