My dad bought the place up on Orange Avenue in 1934. He paid $800.00 for it. Ten dollars down and ten dollars a month. And at that time it was the only road to Miami and Tampa. Orange Blossom Trail hadn’t even been built yet and I-4 wasn’t even thought of…
Bobby Bandy describes growing up in Pine Castle in the 1930’s when boys moved outhouses on Halloween for fun and Saturday nights were spent listening to the Salvation Army Band on the corner of Church Street and Orange Avenue. He recalls there wasn’t much work in the area except agriculture. Later after serving in the Korean War, Mr. Bandy returned to Central Florida in the 1950’s and worked for Bellsouth as they were expanding with the growth from the space industry. Learn more about the transitions of economic development in our area and the enduring values to this day in this oral history interview with Pine Castle’s own Bobby Bandy.
My name is Booby Bandy and I was born in Old Hickory, Tennessee. My dad had asthma and he couldn’t take the winters up in Tennessee and we moved back here the last time in 1934. I’ve been here ever since except four years in the Navy and I lived two years in Nashville, Tennessee. And I come back and I’ve been here ever since. I grew up in here.
My dad bought the place up on Orange Avenue in 1934. He paid $800.00 for it. Ten dollars down and ten dollars a month. And at that time it was the only road to Miami and Tampa. Orange Blossom Trail hadn’t even been built yet and I-4 wasn’t even thought of. And we moved there, there used to be eight foot of brick in the center and four foot of macadam on each side. And about 1936 I think it was they come along and they capped the brick and the macadam off with asphalt over it and that road stayed that way until 1960, I think it was. And then they from Gore Avenue to Lake Jennie Jewell Drive, that was the first phase of widening Orange Avenue, of making a four lane road. It used to be a two lane road. It was brick from Orange Avenue to Grant Street and then asphalt from there down south. Then about 1941 they opened up Orange Blossom Trail just before the war started. Orange Avenue used to be called South Dixie Highway and they changed it to Kuhl Avenue. And then when I was in the Navy, I went in the Navy in 1951, in between there and 1955, they filled in Lake Lucerne and brought Orange Avenue down and changed Kuhl Avenue to Orange Avenue; and just swapped the streets. And then about ’62 … they widened Orange Avenue from Jennie Jewell Drive to McCoy Road and made it four lane all the way down there.
Dad’s Printing Business
Well, it used to be a country store back then. A garage and a country store…. Of course, daddy rebuilt that thing two or three different times. It was a two story building and we lived upstairs. And daddy started a printing business and a printing shop downstairs for a long time. It was a good business. We made a living during hard times. He worked the printing shop from about ’36 to ’46, I guess. I learned to do some of it. I wasn’t too good at typesetting. Back then you had to learn how to typeset. I could do it, but I was slow at it.
I went to Pine Castle School from the 1st through the 9th; then OHS from the 9th through the 12th. Of course, it was a small school back then… We rode the school bus. We used to have a school bus that brought people from over around the Holden Heights area into Pine Castle on the first load and second load they went all the way up to Pineloch Avenue and Orange Avenue and brought them in from Pineloch all the way south, that was the second load. We had lunch at school. It cost ten cents a day, and fifty cents a week… Back then it wasn’t like it is now. You just got Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving and two weeks off at Christmas. And we didn’t have no spring break like they do now.
Times were hard…
Back when I grew up times were hard. The war started in ’41 when I was in the 5th grade. And back then people had to look out for one another. We used to get what jobs we could get because there wasn’t much work around here at the time. If you didn’t work in an orange grove or a dairy or mixed poultry that was about it; the only jobs that were around here and citrus business…. When the war started I was about 10 or 11 years old, I went to work for Mr. Davis delivering newspapers. And I delivered newspapers with him on and off til I was out of high school….
Well, we’d get up and go to church in the morning. Back then we didn’t have nothing but a radio. Most of the time we’d have family get togethers and eat lunch together, family mainly. Fried chicken, banana pudding, stuff like that, and fresh vegetables. We raised a garden when we could and we raised chickens and all. We used to buy stuff by the hamper back then. People don’t even know what a hamper is now…. There was five of us kids and my mother and dad. [Sunday afternoon] Well, we just played with the neighborhood kids. Played ball and games.
Well, a lot of times, my grandparents lived in Tennessee at that time, mother would take us kids and go up there. We’d go to Tennessee in the summer. They lived on a farm in the country. [They were farmers.]
Work and Military Service
When I first got out of school I worked down at the Orlando Sentinel in the mailroom. And I had a paper route during high school, too. And the Korean War broke out and I went in the Navy for four years. When I got out of the Navy I married a girl from Tennessee and lived in Nashville for a couple of years. When I first got out of the service I worked for the Nashville Bridge Company for a couple of months. And I got on with the telephone company there in Nashville in ’55. And in ’57 they run out of work up there and the Cape [Cape Canaveral] was in full swing. And the telephone company was expanding down here with all the growth from the space industry. So I got a free ride down here and they paid all my expenses and transferred back to Orlando. Worked 33 years for Bellsouth. When I first moved back in ’57 we only had one central office here in Orlando and we only had 27 distribution cables in ’57. And now they got so many down there you can’t even count them And also they have, I think, about six different central offices in this area….
World War II
Back during the war Correct Craft got a contract to build a bunch of these pontoon boats to make bridges out of and they closed off Orange Avenue. You’d have to detour around Orange Avenue. They built boats out in the middle of the street. I was about 12 or 13 back then and I’d ride the school bus by and we’d see them out there stacking them boats and putting them on trailers and hauling them off. They were working 24 hours except Sunday. The government didn’t want them to, but they closed on Sunday.
Central Florida Military Bases
In about 1940 the Army started taking over the Orlando Airport and so in ’40, ’41 somewhere along in there the government bought this land out where McCoy is now and said Orlando we’re going to move your airport out here. So they started clearing land, where the base is now they made a base out there. Then the government say we want that, too. So they made it Pine Castle military base and they had Orlando base at the same time. And then in about ’47 I think it was they closed down Pine Castle [base] and kept Orlando base open. And then in ’68 or ’69 they taken and changed the air base over here to Orlando Air Base over here and made it Orlando Naval Training Center….
Of course, we had blackouts during the war that you’re not supposed to have any lights shining outside. And the Army used to have Signal Corps that used to put these search lights out all over the country around here. And then you could see these search lights beaming with the lights all flying in the air searching for planes and stuff.
Korean War and Operation Freedom
I went to Korea several times. I was on the troop transport ship several times, APA. And we carried troops back and forth. And the ship I was on would land them over there. We had one landing that I participated in when I went on aboard . I went on that ship in ’51. And they just come back from Korea… and then in ’52 we went back over there and landed again. We was taking Marines up in there and landed in the northern part of Korea. And then after the Korean War was over in ’53, I think it was June or July, when I was overseas we’d pick up the Air Force, Marines or somebody like that in the Philippines or Japan or somewhere and we’d carry them to Hong Kong for R&R and back and forth here. They’d go over there and spend a week over there and then we’d carry them back home. We done that for a while and then we come back. And then in ’54, in the summer of ’54 the French were getting out of what they called French Indo China which is Vietnam. They wanted out so I was transferred to LST which is a landing ship tank. And we went over there to dry dock in Yokosuka, Japan. And they retrofitted our LST with some showers and bathrooms on top of the deck and hauled refugees from Northern Indochina down to Saigon and different places there. We was on, it was called Operation Freedom. And then I got discharged in November of ’54.
Well, it was great to get home again. I came home on a USS Calvert which is another APA. And we brought a bunch of Air Force personnel to San Francisco and disembarked there… The Korean War was the war that everybody tried to forget and all. People weren’t as crazy about welcoming you back in the Korean War like they were now….
Pine Castle Traditions
We used to have Pioneer Days every year and we’d have an Old Timers get together once a year and all that. But so many of them died out and so many of the youngerds don’t want to take on the responsibility of doing it. I was in it for several years and all. See, I’m 83 years old. We used to have a covered dish and all. Everybody’d bring a covered dish and then we’d have people from all over the country that’d come back to Pine Castle. We ‘d have the place full. We’d have two to three hundred people. We used to have it at the Methodist Church for a long time and then we had it at the Baptist Church…
There used to be a gazebo down there in Pine Castle years ago. Back during WWII they put a marker up with all the people’s names who were in the service and all that. Then they built the women’s club and they made that a parking lot where the gazebo used to be. And we used to have Halloween [at the Gazebo] . The kids around here used to act up. And boys around here years ago, you know Pine Castle used to be way out in the sticks. We didn’t have no municipal water supply back then. Everybody had a well, pitcher pump, or maybe their own electric pump and had a lot of outhouses back then. And the boys used to take and move outhouses around on Halloween. Everybody was on their own back then and the about, I guess, in the early sixties they started Orlando Utilities extended their lines down there….
Orlando back in those days, people used to work six days a week and then on Saturday evening – Daddy worked when he first moved back here … he worked for the Cash Feed Company down on Robinson and Hughey Street. And he got paid $15.00 a week and he worked from early in the morning to late at night six days a week. He got paid on Saturday night and we’d go do our grocery shopping after he got off of work on Saturday night…It used to be that Salvation Army used to have their band downtown on Saturday night at the street downtown on Church and Orange. We’d go down there and listen to the Salvation Army band. Then over in Eola Park in the bandshell they’d have people come in and the bands and stuff play in the bandshell over at Eola Park. My dad like I say was a printer and he used to do a lot of printing from these stores around town and they used to want him to take it out in trade, you know, in a barter system… So we had a couple of customers that were Seventh Day Adventist and they’d be closed on Saturday, but if we’d go late Saturday night they’d open up late Saturday night after the sun went down…
I just love the area. It’s been home to me . It’s been good to me. Blessed me real good. [Pine Castle] people are closely knit. it used to be more so before Martin Company come in here. When Martin brought people from all over in here well it changed the outlook of this area… We still have Pioneer Days. Everyone looks forward to that. My brother drove his ’57 Chevrolet in the parade here.
My older brother Hillis who was married to Betty Bumby he passed away last August. But he was in the Navy right after WWII and then he grew up in Orlando also and participated in the building of Orlando years ago….