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Cape Coral family comes home - for final time

Jan. 21, 2013
Molter family say goodbye to childhood home
Molter family say goodbye to childhood home: One of the first homes in Cape Coral is torn down for the Pine Island Road expansion. Video by Guy Tubbs
Martha Worthman, front, Jake Molter, rear, Bob Molter, center, Pat Molter Emerson, right, watched their childhood home torn down today to make room for the expansion on Pine Island Road. / Guy Tubbs/
The Molter home was an old Army barrack from Buckingham Airfield. The demolition is to make way for the road expansion on Pine Island Road. / Guy Tubbs/


“Bye, bye old friend,” said Pat Molter Emerson.

She gave a half-hearted wave from the tailgate of a pickup. Around her, the Molter family gave a solemn toast to the remains. Several feet away, their childhood home lay scattered in splintered shards on the grass.

And still the siblings sang. They made-up lyrics, teased each other and watched their little 4-year-old grandniece Marcella giggle and squeal while speaking gibberish and running from her great aunt Martha’s old black Lab, Niki.

Any excuse for a celebration in this clan of Cape Coral pioneers.

Pine Island Road will soon go from a two-lane road to a four-lane road with a median. The two Molter homes left on the property were torn down as part of the right-of-way phase of the project, according to Debbie Tower, a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Transportation. Once the design phase is complete, they will put the project out for bid.

She said there will be a public information meeting around a week before construction starts.

“We anticipate starting this summer,” Tower said. “And estimate a (completion) date of fall of 2014.”

Early Wednesday afternoon, just the concrete frame of the living room was standing. It was the last portion of the home built for the 11 Molter siblings, first placed off Pine Island Road in 1949 by their father, Jake Molter Jr.

When asked what they felt as the backhoe claw first crashed in through the roof, the Molter sisters also known as the six-pack just touched their hearts and closed their eyes for a moment.

“It was just a lump right here,” said Ida Mae Willis, who traveled from Texas for the demolition. “Like somebody sucker punched you.”

The former old Army barracks had a ceiling made of solid heart pine and a floor made of concrete covered with tile. The house had been empty for more than a decade since their mother, Ida Mae Molter, died. Rocks were thrown at the jalousie windowpanes to break the glass they used to have to clean as kids. An old gardenia bush planted near the front door for their mother was scooped up with the rubble and carried off.

It was where Pat and Ida painted their room a pretty light green, and when it dried the walls turned a horrid sickly color. Where each and every kid scraped their knees and cleaned and washed and grew up.

Over lunch, they sang songs their father would strum on his guitar: “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea.” They ate ham and beans and homemade cornbread and drank Yuenglings and mimosas.

Slowly but surely, chunks of the house were carried away, but the heart pine they saved — to make into picture frames.

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