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Orlando Memory month at Winter Garden Library

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

West Orange Times

Citizens share memories through library program
By Cindy Baker

Memories of parents and grandparents moving into West Orange County, days of youth and the development of downtown Winter Garden are just a few of the topics that West Orange County residents have talked about during videotaped interviews for the Orlando Memory online project. The project was developed by the Orange County Library System.

Orlando Memory is a community-based digital archive designed to capture and preserve the stories, images and memories of the Orlando community.

Photo of Joan McSween, OCLS Librarian
Joan McSween, OCLS Librarian

According to Joan McSween, librarian at the Winter Garden Branch of the OCLS, Orlando Memory involves two components on the Internet. Interviews of citizens relaying their memories are put onto YouTube under Orlando Memory. Viewers can also  look at historical pictures, newspaper articles and narratives that have been provided by interview participants here at

McSween said the project is “a way to keep the memories alive within the community.”

She interviewed numerous community members at the library branch in December, and their interviews have been posted to YouTube. McSween said there is no deadline, however, as to when other West Orange County residents can go into the library to have their memories videotaped. The library is located at 805 E. Plant St.

Annie King Morris, Katherine Hall Watford, Fred Shepherd, Myra Kinnie, Jack Quesinberry and David Stanford are a few citizens of West Orange County who have been interviewed and can be seen on the Orlando Memory YouTube channel.

King was born and raised in Winter Garden.

“My grandfather moved to Winter Garden in the early 1920s, and he brought his family among which was my father, Joseph Edward King Jr. In the meantime, a beautiful little girl from Edison, Ga., moved to Winter Garden. Those two met and became Joe and Eddie May King, and from that union there were eight children n four boys and four girls.”

Watford said that she came to live in Winter Garden in the 1930s.

“That was because my dad became chief of police here in Winter Garden, and so we lived up over the City Hall. There were six cells below my bedroom. That was a fun time.”

Shepherd was born in Winter Garden and lived in the city most of his life except for the few times he moved away because of his dad’s work.

“When I was in second grade, [my family] moved me back to Winter Garden. So I came back home, I guess you could say I started in the elementary school, which was located on South Main Street. Mrs. Brock was principal, so I went to school there from the second grade to the sixth grade.

“Then after that I went to Lakeview. I graduated from Lakeview High School in 1948. Consequently those are some very good memories.”

Kinnie of Ocoee said she enjoyed growing up in Ocoee.

“We had fun. We went to Fish Lake, which is now Lake Olympia. That was our favorite place to swim because it has the great sandy bottom….I also enjoyed Winter Garden.”

Quesinberry related his time as mayor of Winter Garden.

“I was mayor of Winter Garden from 1991 to 2007, so I served 16 years and four months. But it was enjoyable being the mayor.

First, I was on the Planning and Zoning board for 10 years…..I won the [mayoral] election in ’91 and, like I’ve always said, I didn’t run to be a politician. I ran to be a public servant, and I helped a lot of people get little things done. Just because of being a contractor, I knew what to do in the building department….and was able to help them. So it’s just been a pleasant ride to be in Winter Garden.

“We spent about four and a half million [dollars] on downtown on the infrastructure — the lighting, the brick and everything. I want to point out it was grants. There are so many grants out there. When you’re rebuilding a nice city like we’ve got, we used very little of the General Fund….We dedicated the hotel, and it was refurbished. We put the clock tower in. We put in the pool, or the little fountain, and the gazebo. So much of that we did in the year 2003, and that year was our 100th year as a city.”

Stanford talked about how his family came to Winter Garden.

“My great-great-grandfather was Judge [Gamble] Speer, who came down in the Oakland area in about 1850, something like that. He dug the canals that connected Lake Apopka to Lake Dorr to Lake Eustis to the Ocklawaha River. So you could bring steamboats all the way down to Oakland, which was as far south as you could come before Orlando was born….There were no railroads….

Our great-great-grandfather founded our church, Oakland Presbyterian Church. We just celebrated our 125th anniversary, and he was instrumental in getting the Orange Belt Railroad in coming to Oakland.”

Members of the public are invited to participate in the “I Love Ocoee” history event that will take Feb. 18-22 at the West Oaks Library in Ocoee at 1821 E. Silver Star Road. Library staff will videotape interviews as to why someone loves Ocoee, and the interviews will later be posted onto the Orlando Memory site at Participants need to come prepared to share their story or bring a photograph, document or souvenir that highlights Ocoee history.

To schedule an interview, call 407-835-7318 or inquire at the West Oaks Library customer service desk.


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