Where Is She Now?

May 15th, 2012, 12:00H · Topics: Around Town, Business, Famous And Not So..., Guys · Print

The staff of Florida Bonded Pools on Beach Blvd. circa early 1960’s in front of the business and their wonderful sign of world famous swimmer and movie star Esther Williams in all of her 30 foot tall glory.  I stopped by the business to find out more about the sign and had a great conversation with Jeffrey Clarkson, the second generation of the Clarkson family to own the business.  He filled me in on a little bit of the sign’s history.  His father, W.E. Clarkson was the national marketing representative for Esther Williams who at the time had a signature line of pool dealers around the country.  He decided he wanted his own business and bought the Jacksonville pool business in the early 1960’s from the original owner who started it in 1957.  The Esther Williams sign was in place until it was taken down and replaced with a new sign in the 1970’s.  Unfortunately Clarkson could not remember the company that removed the sign so we don’t know it’s ultimate fate but I can report that as of this posting, the real Esther Williams, who was born in 1921 or 1922 depending on the source is still around, living in Los Angeles, CA and selling a line of retro styled swimwear that harkens back to her silver screen days.

As a side note, Jeffrey Clarkson said his father got the contract and Florida Bonded Pools built the first two pools at Disney World for the Contemporary Hotel which are still in use today but Disney would not allow them to use that in their advertising.

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  1. 1 Robert July 25th, 2012 17:32H

    practically all of the neon signage in Jax back then was done by an outfit out on West Beaver street just this side of the Publix warehouse. it is on a dirt road, next to an old Forest Fire Tower.

    the place is still there, and is a mass of junk… there are a couple of acres of old signs dumped there….

    you will probably find Esther there, buried in a pile of plastic and aluminum.

  2. 2 sherry k December 13th, 2012 15:56H

    We lived in the nearby subdivision of Holiday Hill and used “Esther” as a landmark for visitors so they would know where to turn. You couldn’t miss her!

  3. 3 Robert Manley April 10th, 2013 1:07H

    We drove by this many times when our family lived in Southside Estates in the sixties. I had no idea that was Esther Williams!

  4. 4 Judi Frazier April 23rd, 2013 22:34H

    My pool was built in 1963 by Florida Bonded Pools. I remember the swimming pool inside the office and waiting nervously to find out if my parents were arranging a purchase. I remember Mr. Clarkson sold it to them. Finally, last year it needed new marsite. The repairman knew immediately it was built by Florida Bonded Pools.

  5. 5 Cindy M June 12th, 2013 4:36H

    Just this past week, June 6, 2013. Esther Williams passed away at the age of 91.

  6. 6 M.A.E Contracting March 29th, 2024 1:52H

    Wow, reading about the history of Florida Bonded Pools and their iconic Esther Williams sign really takes me back to a different era. It’s like stepping into a time capsule of the early 1960s, with all the charm and nostalgia that comes with it.

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About Photographer Loyd Sandgren

I first met Loyd Sandgren in 1997 as I was putting photo gear back into my car after... Learn More