Mrs. Biggers's Kindergarten Class, 1939

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Mrs. Biggers's Kindergarten Class, 1939

Mrs. Biggers's Kindergarten Class, 1939

June 10, 2017

Jerry Chicone is pictured center and Larry Grimes is third from the left in this photo of Mrs. Bigger's kindergarten class in Winter Garden, 1951.

Mrs. Bigger and her husband owned the kindergarten and the theater in Winter Garden.

Listen as Larry Grimes describes working with Jerry Chicone on preserving the history of Winter Garden in this excerpt from an oral history interview with Mr. Grimes at the Orlando Public Library on February 20, 2017.

LISTEN Part IV (15:05)

I've tried to be active with the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation which started the museum and then later on a History Center was added to that and Jerry [Chicone] has been the ramrod there. The old depot in downtown Winter Garden became available for sale. And Jerry says, "Take off your real estate man's hat and put on your community hat and let's go talk to these people and see if they'll sell it to us. I'll buy it and give it to the city." And I says, "Let's go." So we contacted them and there was about 4 or 5 owners. One of them, I'm not going to mention any names, wasn't that kind. We waited in his office for him to respond and he never came and his secretary says, "Well, he left out the back door."

Working with Jerry Chicone

But eventually we put it together and Jerry would recruit me because he figured I had not much to do. I don't know why he gets that in his mind. But I went with him down into Polk County to see about buying a wooden Indian. Well, he bought this wooden Indian and brought it up here, but it was a western Indian. And he wasn't satisfied with that because it wasn't the same type of Indian. Calusa Indian was what was in our area and this was a western Indian. A Navajo or something else, cigar store type Indian. So it stayed in there just a short period of time.

Boat from Lake Apopka

Another time somebody says, to call the museum, Lake Apopka's down now. It's now a hundred feet from the old shoreline and I see a boat out there about 10 feet out. I'll get it up on shore if you want it. So we got a trailer and we went over there. The guy had washed it out and everything. We got some other guys and got it on the trailer and got it to the museum and it was part of a display. And it was an old boat that had sunk and been forgotten, no telling for 50 years. But it was made out of cypress so nothing was wrong with it. Still, it's been cut down some, but it's still on display inside the museum.

The Winter Garden History Center

But we really have a great time there. Jerry's got a wonderful collection of citrus labels that he shows every year downthere. And he has two citrus label books with his friend, Brenda, that have kind of coauthored the book on the history of citrus labels. And we did a lot. We were o the board and active. I was chairman one time and I guess he was one time. So anyway we tried to do something for Winter Garden. But anyway what I did was miniscule compared to what Jerry did. Because he later helped raise the funds and a lot of it came out of his pocket to buy the land that the History Center now sits on. Because it had belonged to the Baptist Church. Well, when the city bought a city block and tore everything down and built a parking lot right across from the church. The church felt like it really didn't need that piece of land anymore. It wasn't very big. So Jerry and a couple of friends bought it and then they started a fundraising deal.

Kay Cappleman

But it's been a wonderful experience working there on that. We have some great people. It's open seven days a week from 1 to 5. And they are closed on holidays, but any other day Saturday or Sunday you can go out there and children love it. We've had Kay Cappleman that did tours with our school children and she had the history of downtown. She had repeated it so much it was like turning on a phonograph or something, you know. And she could tell about all the buildings that used to be here, you know. Thousands of kids have gone through that. And we don't get any tax money. It's all run by volunteers and donations and that's the way we want to keep it. It's a wonderful organization. That's it.

West Orange Trail

The wonderful trail that they have out there, the bike trail. And we have a city manager that was the spark plug. He was a local guy, but he was retired military and boy it was military right down the line. And he would get things done you wouldn't think possible. He wouldn't take no for an answer. You know whether it was public or private because he had a goal of what he wanted to see done. And my family happened at that time to own where the trail hit. And we made a deal for the county to buy that so it could be the trail head....




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