My Morning in Citrus World



Lemon grove

Friday PM: write Saturday’s to-do list:

Lukas Nursery in Slavia:

666 fertilizer for lemon grove

return used plastic containers

Publix on Aloma:

sunflower seeds (four bags)


Saturday AM: Arrive Lukas. After not seeing any, ask new counter person if they carry 666 fertilizer. Unsure, he hails woman who always waits on me. He tells us that he has a chip inscribed 666 embedded in his brain; I respond “so do I” and attempt fingertip touch between us. He misses irony. Woman stares, and recommends 888.

Fill up at Shell station; start waiting behind tall, thin Mom in tiny shorts with 0.00 and Chik-Fil-A stickers on back of massive SUV. SUV engorged, Mom gets in, chats with daughter, proceeds to check phone. I refrain from honking her, and smile inwardly as crown of thorns is placed upon my head.

Follow Heritage Estate Sale signs to Grand Avenue on way home, hoping that abandoned old country house is the one – could not be more wrong. Actual estate sale is being held at Howell farms ranch-style on cul-de-sac, whose street is already filled with bargain hunters sporting hungry looks. I turn around to leave and hungry-looker opens truck door mere INCHES ahead of my front bumper; gives me dirty look. I smile; thorns dig deeper but do I complain? No.

Arrive home after completely forgetting Publix stop. (Now out of sunflower seeds and wine.)

Bring bag of 888 to back porch. Go in house to look for close-up glasses so as to read infinitesimal directions. Come back outside; go back in house to look for scissors to cut open industrial-strength bag of 888, misplacing close-up glasses in the bargain.

Pour out almost exactly a pound of 888 into container; march out to lemon grove and see that recent rain has caused woods grass to leap abundantly into every available square inch. Get on knees to remove woods grass, most of which is unreachable due to prickly, scratching branches in lemon grove.


Woods grass

Finally sprinkle recommended amount of 888 under tree; soak it in while feeling guilty that it has JUST rained not an hour ago.

Back inside to continue my day after rubbing alcohol on legs thanks to no-see-ums which, if I ever see one, will be blasted into eternity.

Remove crown of thorns and hang by back door for another day.




My First Day of School




My First Day of School

Actually, I’m not sure which first day of school I’m thinking about, though I have some idea. It could be the first day of pre-kindergarten, something called nursery school, which I don’t remember, though I do recall crying a lot during those few weeks that seemed endless. I was picked up and held a lot by the teachers, who all seemed so old but were probably nineteen years old and doing some sort of obligatory work-release thing for credits. Who can say? One of them told another girl that I was four years old, and I corrected her and said “four and a quarter,” which places this story in March of 1960. I was always struck by the fact that there were children in the class who seemed so much more calm and better-adjusted than I did; I think it was because they had older brothers and sisters who briefed them. I was the oldest of four, and therefore clueless.

Kindergarten itself took place in one of those red-brick public school buildings that are strewn all over Brooklyn. I don’t remember the first day at all, but I do remember that Mrs. Darby, our teacher, was nice and wore a pencil skirt. Mom walked me two and a half long blocks (while Interstate 278 was rammed through our neighborhood by Robert Moses) to bucolic Sixth Avenue, where all the row houses were only two stories tall and once in a while you could still spot an old wooden farmhouse left over from when Bay Ridge was a country retreat for crowded Manhattanites.

One day in Kindergarten we had a substitute teacher, for reasons unknown. In those days it was nobody’s business why a teacher suddenly disappeared. We were left to speculate and wonder, and any voiced questions were answered with either “none of your business”or “she went to visit her sister upstate.” The buses were filled with wandering instructors at that time. While Mrs. Darby wandered north, our substitute teacher told us she was a princess, and she produced a magic wand with a star on the end of it to prove it. We were truly enchanted with her glittery self and sat in a circle of little wooden chairs while she told us about her castle. When it came time to get up and do circle dancing, she said that we were stuck to our chairs by magic and would only be able to stand up when she touched us on the forehead with her wand. When it was my turn, I didn’t get up, because I didn’t feel magicked; she tapped me a few times until finally leaning in close and telling me with crinkly lipsticked lips to “get up NOW,” which I did. You don’t want to mess with someone who has friends who live in trees.

There had to have been a first day of first grade at the Catholic school, but I don’t remember it. What I do remember is going in early many mornings with my father, who received instructions from Sister Mary Magdalene – her real nun name – about what I was supposed to do for homework: continue with the alphabet and reading, because I had started the first grade knowing so much already. “He’s smart,” the relatives used to say about me because I didn’t like sports. “Rest your brain,” my grandmother would tell me when I’d ask her hard questions. Dad would take me to the library on Saturdays, where I would head for the adult section and its books about dinosaurs; he had to get me a special dispensation to be allowed to go and look at books in that rarefied atmosphere.

This went on for eight years, with those nuns. They never terrified me. Aside from two encounters (one for all of second grade, one for a substitute day in 6th. grade), the nuns were grand ladies to me. I even cozied up to the principal when I was in first grade (1961-1962) – Sister Mary John Francis, her real nun name – by sending her a get well card imploring her to not be afraid of the needle when she went into the hospital. Notice the difference in public school and Catholic school regarding the absence of an instructor: we Catholics weren’t afraid of illness or death, so it was sometimes okay to tell why Sister So-and-So was out that day.

I do remember the first day of high school, sometime in September of 1969. Everybody around me was different as just a few of us from St. Ephrem’s had gone on to Xaverian. We sat in the auditorium and were told, as young Catholic men, what was expected of us. There was a lot, and none of it had to do with what we actually wanted to do. There was a detailed discussion about gym class; we were told that we could or could not take showers after sweating for an hour; it was entirely up to us as individuals. I relaxed, because that was something I had been worrying about all through the summer of 1969. While ten percent of me welcomed the very idea of showering with my classmates, at least in my thoughts, the other ninety percent set up dire warnings and roadblocks against what might happen if I enjoyed it all too much. So I stayed sweaty (particularly notable when gym was first period.)

And within the first minute of the first high school religion class, the instructor – a Xaverian brother – said “first of all, forget anything any nun ever told you about religion.” What did he mean? You know – those stories about young boys not swallowing the wafer at Communion and sneaking it to McKinley Park and burying it in the dirt, only to see a bloody mess erupt from the soil. Things like that. Our high school religion classes were progressive in that we spent each hour discussing the merits of believing in the Holy Roman Catholic Church as opposed to NOT. One day Kevin Riley said “Ï think most of you talking about going to Mass or not are probably just too lazy to want to get up on Sunday morning.” Silence.

I do remember the first day of college, vividly. I had to take three buses to get to Brooklyn College from Bay Ridge (two if I walked the first leg) in Midwood, the Flatbush neighborhood where the school was located. I had to report to somewhere called SUBO, which – when a friend’s sister, who I gratefully encountered, explained – was the Student Union Building. Once there, I was told to report to a classroom on the far side of the campus – I think – to sit with, it turned out, a roomful of collegians for whom English was not their first language. After five minutes or so I got up and requested a chat with the instructor. “I don’t think I belong here,” I said, and she – or he – said “I agree,” and sent me on my way after crossing my name off a list. Maybe my last name, larded over as it is with vowels, alerted the authorities that I was in need of proper instruction regarding the use of the present imperfect subjunctive. Who can say?

There were many other first days of school at Brooklyn College, because you had to register each semester for your next set of classes; nobody who matriculated under Open Admission would argue that they were anything other than time-consuming, to say the least. We had to stand in multiple lines to register – required electives as well as those that counted toward your major, which most of us had no idea of. The lines were interminable, and snaked their way down hallways, up stairwells, through creaky swinging doors, and down escalators. One late evening at seven I was heading UP an escalator while Frank Siracusa headed DOWN in the opposite direction, and he called out “what are you taking this semester?” and I hollered back “Valium!”

While waiting on these lines, committees were formed to go to Kosher Kountry (this was a Jewish neighborhood) for coffee and snacks. Eventually you would reach a (laughable today) computer terminal with a person behind it; you would be told that the required English 1.1 Comp was filled to capacity already, yet they would be relieved when you produced your Regents scholarship waiver saying that you didn’t have to bother with that mandatory course; that you could go on to English 1.2 Lit, which covered The Canterbury Tales and Bede. I had decided I was an Art major in those days – “He reads a lot, and he’s good at art-“ and so, after the required courses, I filled four years with applied art classes (clay, oils) and art history lectures. Because this was the mid-seventies, you could smoke and drink coffee and eat in class, and I can truly say that every art slide I saw in those years was seen through a cloud of Newport smoke. I fell in love with the Duc De Berry and his Book of Hours, and played with the idea of joining a monastery so I could sit in candlelight and copy those books for all eternity. The vivid blues and reds and the challenging script written in an English foreign to me intrigued me and, maybe, pointed to a future bereft of first days. There I’d be at my carrel, studying and copying as the day waned outside the monastery window until the candle sputtered into nothingness and it was time to go to bed.

I did not go to graduate school; and there have been no first days of school since.

West Orange County History Posts


The people! The history! Working out here in West Orange County is a history buff’s dream come true. Here are some pictures that we’ve run recently on the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation Facebook page.

First off, here’s our Historic Marker, which stands at Woodland and Plant streets at the eastern entrance to downtown:




Going through the archives, we often encounter particularly striking images. Here’s a dramatic view of Lakeview High School. Alumnae, check in with your class year!


The history! The people!
While researching an article on Fullers Crossing, the old agricultural community northeast of Winter Garden, we unearthed a newspaper piece about Mrs. Mary Dale. Beginning in 1919, she lived on the property known locally as “Deadman’s Curve,” which is where North Fuller’s Crossroad makes an extreme right turn and becomes East Fullers Crossroad. Before the road was cut through and improved in the late 1920s, which included a wooden bridge spanning a creek, Mrs. Dale said “the only reason people drove up here was to come and see me.” Mrs. Dale is shown second from left in this gathering of ladies honoring Mrs. Phil Peters for the latter’s work at Winter Garden’s First United Methodist Church.
L to R: Margaret (Mrs. Bill Story), Mary (Mrs. Neal) Dale, Laura (Mrs. J. S.) Kirton [long-serving principal of Lakeview High School], (Charman of arrangements), Billy (Mrs. Bob) Davis, Madge (Mrs. Phil C.) Peters, Murphy (Mrs. L.W.) Tilden.


The Hawthorne Grove care barn fire occurred on August 18, 1975. The building was located off Broad Street behind the former First State Bank on South Dillard St. in Winter Garden, and was rented from H.M. Bowness of Ocoee. The Winter Garden Fire Department was assisted by the Ocoee Fire Department to help quell the flames.
Pictured are Fire Chief Jim Briggs (center) and Mike Spears (second from right). The other firefighters are not identified.



Welcome back to school from the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation!
The first schoolhouse in Winter Garden was built in the 1890s on the northwest corner of what is now Park Avenue and State Road 50, on land homesteaded by J.W.F. Bray in 1880. Consider yourselves lucky, kids: this school didn’t come with air conditioning!
By 1929, it was a private home lived in by Beulah’s Gillard family. Twenty years later it was moved to the South Tildenville neighborhood, though it no longer stands.


State Road 438 through Oakland was once a quiet country byway, and nowadays you might miss this Oakland gem constructed by the Orange Belt Railway company in the late 1880s. It is one of four residences still standing that were built to house company employees. The house, photographed here in 1986, exhibits many of the architectural details characteristic of the Carpenter Gothic style popular at the time. It is known historically as the “Pierson home,” named for Datus L. Pierson (1855-1914), its first owner. He was one of the founders of the South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association, the agricultural cooperative whose buildings still stand on Tildenville School Road at the West Orange Trail. Pierson is buried in the Oakland Cemetery, located a half mile west of the house.



November 22, 1963

My Uncle Johnny is Dad’s brother, sixteen years younger; when Dad was a teenager he realized there was going to be somebody new in the house besides him and his sister, my Aunt Terry. That was okay because Dad didn’t mind having a new baby hanging around, because he said he always wanted a younger brother to play baseball with.
By the time I came around, Uncle Johnny was nine years old, but he was already an uncle to Aunt Terry’s kid Joey, so I was his second nephew. Joey had two months of being the new baby star in the family, but then I came along with my asthma and pneumonia and was suddenly all anybody could ever talk about (so Ma tells me). And with Uncle Johnny still a kid, we were a pretty busy family of guys. Sometimes we’d go sledding in McKinley Park down Deadman’s Hill, which was just about the highest spot in the neighborhood for anybody to go and kill themselves on. In the winter it got icy slick, and from the top of the hill down to the Seventh Avenue gate was a scary, straight shot, and you either hoped to end up in some thick bushes, which would stop you from flying out through the gate and into the traffic, or you would hit the gate itself. One time me and my friends got creamed when we rode a flipped over picnic table with one pair of legs all the way down the hill and into the fence. We should have been killed but we were wrapped in so many layers of sweaters, scarves, hats, and snowsuits that nothing really happened. Egghead bumped his head of course, like he was always hitting it on something, so you couldn’t really tell.
You didn’t have to worry about running over the old men playing bocce on the court when you sped by them because they didn’t play bocce in the winter. I guess the parkie didn’t shovel snow because he was too nuts keeping us from flooding the bathrooms with paper towels stuck in the sinks. And there was one who was real mean, who threw sticks and rocks at us in the summer when we goofed on him. He wasn’t an Italian guy, and lived down the block from us near Eighth Avenue. He had two granddaughters, one I went to school with named Nancy, and one who was Uncle Johnny’s age named Karina.
Karina started out kind of short and lumpy, but by the time she finished high school she was tall and thin. She kind of had a face like a bird. I mean, birds don’t stand around long enough for us to decide whether some of us look like them, but there was something definitely about Karina that reminded me of a bird.
“What are you talking about?” Ma asked me when I told her this. “Just because she has a big nose and little eyes doesn’t mean she looks like a bird,” but she laughed when she said it which is a way for grownups to agree with kids without having to say “you’re right.”
Karina became one of those girls who go to the beauty parlor every Saturday morning with their mothers, wearing sunglasses and a kerchief over their hair like the Hollywood movie stars that you saw in the papers. You weren’t supposed to recognize them or say anything because they thought they looked bad; plus, they were going out in public with their mothers to a place they didn’t really want to be at, so the rest of us used to just stare quietly from whoever’s stoop we were sitting on when they tried to walk by, invisible. Sometimes we would laugh but one time we got a lecture from Mrs. Belvis, Kathy’s mother, while Kathy stood there crossing her eyes behind her mother’s back. We liked Kathy because she never acted like we were bad guys when we bothered her.
Kathy was sort of friends with Karina when Karina started going out with Uncle Johnny, but the girls got closer because Karina needed an ally and Uncle Johnny was good friends with Kathy because they were partners when they made their First Communion. Plus, Kathy was the type who could be friends with a lot of guys without anybody ever wondering whether or not they would start liking each other too much.
So one Saturday morning in the summer, Kathy went up the block with Uncle Johnny to get ices, and they were going to bring us back some—it took like ten minutes for us all to decide what flavors: me and Egghead and Tommy and Laraine and Doris and Lois. When Uncle Johnny came back, though, he was with Karina and her mother and we could tell that he must have met her when she was coming out of the beauty parlor because she looked all new: her blonde hair was all high up on her head and there was only a teeny bit of kerchief left to tie under her chin. Her mother looked all happy, because mothers liked Uncle Johnny anyway because he was an altar boy and never missed Mass.
When he gave us the ices I asked him where Kathy was he said she went to the store for her mother. There were a lot of questions I had, like were he and Kathy just plain friends, or were he and Karina going to be boyfriend and girlfriend, but Egghead’s mother came out and told us to get in the street with the ices because we were dripping all over her steps and that would bring ants. Somebody was always telling us that, like having ants was the worst thing that could ever happen.
Then they left to go down the block and we stood between parked cars eating our ices. I didn’t know why I asked for pistachio because I didn’t really like the nut part, just the green ice, so Lois traded me her lemon.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

At the end of the summer, we were all sitting around wondering what our next nuns were going to be like. I got through second grade with Sister Anne Elizabeth, a year I would like to forget, and now had the fear of spending third grade with Sister Gonzaga. The thing is, the older kids on the block could warn us about the nuns we were going to get, and let’s just say that Gonzaga was called Sister Godzilla behind her back. So I knew what my nun was going to be like. She was probably the meanest of the three mean nuns at school—Sister St. Dominic was the other one, and I already had Anne Elizabeth and now I had to have Gonzaga. I spent most of the summer trying not to think about her, but her face would pop into my mind anyway, usually when I was enjoying myself or thinking about something funny. And with nothing to say about it, I would get St. Dominic in the eighth grade, because she taught math and spelling. All the homerooms in the eighth grade marched around the hallways and inside different rooms for different subjects all day when the bell rang every hour, which meant that each day had a collection of nuns of all flavors and sizes—step right up, take your pick!– that only showed that God had some kind of weird plan for my life.
But here it was only a few weeks before third grade started, and my stomach was more of a mess every day. I would see Gonzaga way up in the front row of Mass each week, on the Mary side, sitting with the oldest nuns. I even heard once that she was around when they built the school, which was way before they had TV. She was the kind of nun that you heard before you saw. If you were standing in line outside the school waiting to get in after recess, you could hear her on the inside just when her swinging rosary beads hit the door. Then it would fly open and there she’d be in all her glory. We always got real quiet and it’s like, when she opened the big doors, she was looking at each and every one of us personally, right in the eyes.
It was like such a long time since first grade, when I was the favorite of all four nuns: Alberta, Julia, Magdalene, and Johnella. I even made them Valentines that year. Magdalene used to send me on errands to the eighth grade room nuns and one time I got to read aloud from the TV Guide and everybody clapped. So I liked school but by the time of Ann Elizabeth and now Gonzaga, it was like those days were gone forever.
“It stinks you have Gonzaga,” Egghead said. We were sitting with three older girls, Mary, Florence, and Eileen, who were taking turns brushing and playing with each other’s hair like those monkeys do on educational television shows.
“Gonzaga heard my cousin in confession and pulled her out of the booth and smacked her,” Eileen said. She had pointy blue eyeglasses with sparkles, that were always getting lost. We would find them in people’s yards, on the edge of a street drain, or in the pet store on the floor in front of the fish tanks. Her father owned the butcher shop and her mother had a mustache. “No lie.”
“That’s nothing,” Mary said. “My brother got his head rammed into the blackboard. The crack is still there if you wanna know. She keeps that good hygiene poster covering it up.” Mary’s parents were the artistic ones on the block. They had weird paintings and future looking lamps in their house long before anyone else ever thought of them.
“Her brother is a dentist, that’s where she got the poster,” Florence said. “And in her desk drawers are all the things she’s stole from kids over the years… old gum, Cracker Jack toys, cootie catchers, notes… She never throws notes away and so she knows everything about what’s going on.”
“She really hurts when she hits.”
“On account of she keeps chalk in her hand when she smacks you.”
“One time she smacked Lydia Farrentino in the hall outside Room 165 and split her lip with her nails. Plus, she throws erasers.”
Great. I felt like I had to throw up but probably Egghead’s mother would have come out and chased me home, so I kept it in. I figured I would probably have to hold it in for the next nine months because Gonzaga would have me expelled if I threw up in her room.
Then I forgot all about Gonzaga because Uncle Johnny stopped by the stoop with Karina and said they were going steady!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I didn’t forget for too long because soon it was the night of Labor Day and the next day was Gonzaga. I felt like I had a fever and a stomach ache and I wasn’t hungry all day.
“What’s the matter with you?” Ma asked when we were all sitting there at dinner.
“Because he has Gonzaga tomorrow,” Lois said. “He said and Mary and Florence and… and the other one SAID that she was going to smash his head on the blackboard. Right?” she asked me.
I didn’t say anything because I was afraid to open my mouth. Throwing up in school is one thing but throwing up on the table is another.
“Are you afraid of a nun?” Dad asked.
“Yes he is because Florence and Eileen and… and the other one SAID.”
“Why would you be afraid of a nun?” Dad asked.
“Are you kidding me?” Ma asked him. “Don’t you remember? When I was a kid they were really mean,” she said, slicing bread with the big knife. “Me and Tessie once had to stand outside in the cold with our books on our heads because we talked in Mass. Our eyes froze shut from tears!”
“Did you tell your Mothers on her?” Lois asked.
“Are you kidding? They woulda smacked us worse.”
“Don’t be afraid of nuns,” Dad said. “They’re just ladies like your Ma.”
“No, NOT like your Ma,” Ma said. “No way.”
The Tessie signal must have gone off somewhere because she appeared in the kitchen a minute later. She always let herself into our house no matter how many times Ma told her to ring the bell, but Tessie always said bells were for strangers.
“You ready for Gonzaga?” she asked. “Oh BOY, are you in for a treat! You better behave.” She took bread from the plate and went to our refrigerator for mayonnaise. “When I had her she said my skirt was too short and she made me sit in class with a newspaper wrapper around my legs. A newspaper!”
“Don’t scare the kid,” Ma said but you could tell she was enjoying all this on account of the fact that she was happy when she talked with Tessie about the olden days.
“You’ll be fine,” Dad said. “Just don’t give her trouble.”
“Yeah… don’t even MOVE. Don’t make a sound unless she calls on you. Never talk… don’t even look out the window,” Tessie said. “One time Claire Pultz got caught looking out the window, and Gonzaga made her stand outside looking IN the window for the rest of the day.”
“Her eyes went bad,” Ma said. “That’s why Claire has such thick glasses. When you see her in the A&P it’s like a blind lady coming toward you, she can’t see, she knocks into you with her cart.”
“For crying out loud!” Dad said.
That’s what I felt like doing: crying out loud, but instead I went into the bathroom and finally threw up. Maybe that would make it better the next day, but not really, so I prayed to the Virgin Mary that night to help me figure something out that would make this whole mess easier. But all the nuns looked like Mary with their dresses and veils… Anyway, I couldn’t think of anything except if somebody kidnapped me. Then they would find me dead in the sewer and boy would they feel bad.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Uncle Johnny and Karina walked me to school the next day, and I had to hear their Gonzaga stories. It wasn’t any use asking them to shut up because I was younger and, besides, everyone loved telling Gonzaga stories. I felt like I wasn’t ever going to see anyone normal again after going into the school and into that classroom.
The nuns were outside forming us into lines, and I went into the Room Six line with all the other kids. There was Gonzaga, waiting. She was sort of about as big as a Volkswagen.
She didn’t have to make sure we fell in place because she knew WE knew where we had to stand. Everyone looked scared, like we were about to get yelled at even though we didn’t know why. I guess we were all thinking who the first one was who was going to make her explode, and I sure didn’t want it to be me.
Nobody said a word. When it came time for Room Six to file in, Gonzaga clicked her clicker and we followed her, quiet, not looking left or right. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. In the classroom, we each went to our desk when she called out our name and seat. I was row five, seat five. Lucky me, there was nobody in my row yet and so I walked slowly, counting the desks so I wouldn’t sit in seat four or six by mistake.
“Move it along,” she said from the front. When I was in my desk, I breathed quietly and watched the other kids fill in the seats around me. Some of them looked like they wanted to cry. I probably did too but I kept trying to think of what Dad said.
“Don’t be afraid of nuns.” But I still was.
Noreen Kane sat down in front of me. Great. She was trouble from day one so I just knew that whenever she got called out, I was going to be in trouble too because she had this way of causing problems for everybody who sat near her in school.
When we were all quiet, sitting there like statues, Gonzaga took the roll call, probably to make sure none of us had tried to escape.
“Crescitelli… another one of those…”
“Present, Sister… what did you say?”
She looked at me from her desk way in the front.
“I beg your pardon… did you ask me a question?”
“Yes Sister.”
“I didn’t hear you.”
“YES, Sister.”
Now I was scared. I was turning out to be the first one!
“What question did you ask me?”
“I asked what you said after you said my name.”
“THAT was how you ask me a question?”
“Yes Sister.”
There was a long time where she just looked at me without saying anything. Nobody moved. From the corner of my eye I saw a mother with two little kids walking in the park across the street and I felt like I was in a prison.
“Come up here,” she finally said. “Now.”
I got up and felt like I had to go to the bathroom right that minute. When I got near her desk she got up and took my arm and turned me around so I was facing all those kids. I could feel her nails.
“I’m going to set an example, class,” she said. “Mr. Crescitelli here apparently doesn’t know how to properly ask a question, because apparently HE thinks he—“
She had to stop because there was a knock at the door.
“Don’t dare move,” she said to me as she went over and opened it. I figured, what have I got to lose, so I sneaked my head to the right and saw a nun standing out in the hall with like forty kids behind her looking scared. Gonzaga closed the door behind her after warning the class not to talk, but Noreen Kane whispered to me and asked what I saw outside. I was too afraid to answer.
After a while Gonzaga came in, closed the door, and told me to take my seat, quietly. When I was settled, she made an announcement.
“Gather your books and file out into the hall and go to Room 11 with Sister Daria.”
That’s all she said, but it turned out that her and Daria had to exchange kids for some reason. Like it was in a dream, we got our stuff and went out into the hall where that pretty young nun was standing with all those terrified looking kids I had seen when Gonzaga opened the door. As we went past them, feeling like we were going to Heaven upstairs in Room 11, Noreen whispered to those kids, “you guys are gonna get creamed.” We didn’t even know what Daria was like, except that she was one of those young “new” nuns, so she had to be better than Gonzaga.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
And she sure was. Third grade with Daria was a circus compared to what it could have been like with Gonzaga. There was even a new girl in the class that I liked, Sharon, and we used to walk through the park on our way home from school even though she had to go down a different block.
And it was perfect, until one day in Advent Daria had to go to the city for something. They never explained what, only that they had to be away for the day. She was probably in the convent with the mumps, but we weren’t supposed to know because nuns were perfect and never got sick.
The Room 11 kids had to go down to double up with the kids in Room Six, which made it pretty crowded. I was worried she would remember me from the first day of school, but Gonzaga had her hands full looking around making sure nobody was breathing. I had to sit next to some kid who smelled. Her class was already terrified enough, so it was mainly us she had to watch. I guess she figured it was going to be a lost cause with all of us jammed in there, so she told us Room 11 kids to do an exercise where we had to write down in our notebooks all the words with vowels that we saw in our readers.
Well, after a few minutes it was like every word had a vowel in it, and I got scared that maybe I heard the instructions wrong. That’s all I needed that day… it was bad enough that I was sweating because I was hoping Gonzaga wouldn’t remember me from the first day, but now I felt like I stuck out even more like a sore thumb, like she could read my mind.
I got so confused that I stopped writing down each and every word. It was getting boring anyway, so I started scribbling circles in my notebook to pass the time. And then I looked up and Gonzaga was standing by our desk.
“What are you doing?”
“Well Sister you said to write down the words with—“
That was all I got to say. She hauled me AND my notebook to the front of the room.
“I’m going to set an example, class,” she said. “Mr. Crescitelli here apparently doesn’t know how to follow instructions, and THIS is the result.”
She waved my notebook around for everyone to see. Boy, did I want to cry! And then she did something worse. She saw the back of my notebook where I had written I love Sharon… a girl I liked.
“Sharon WHO?”
“Sharon Maynard, Sister,” I sobbed. My nose was running too.
And Sharon was sitting just a few rows down, my Room 11 love probably feeling like an idiot because of me.
Gonzaga slammed the notebook against my rear end and gave me a lecture about writing on notebook covers, and I had to make sure I brought her a note from Ma saying WHY I had done it. “Written on THIS piece of paper,” Gonzaga said when she gave me an official piece of blue nun writing paper. “NOT on another sheet, do you understand me?”
I knew why I did it. I saw one of Uncle Johnny’s schoolbooks with his name and Karina’s written in funny bubble letters, and I wanted to do the same thing. So now I had to drag the whole family into it. But why was it such a big deal to Gonzaga? It’s not like it was a sin to write I love Sharon on a notebook… or was it?
Sharon didn’t walk with me that day, mainly on account of because I hurried ahead of her.
“I can’t believe that nun,” was what Ma said when I told her the whole story. “What’s she thinking you’re doing? Making out in the class?”
“What’s making out?” I asked.
“For crying out loud,” Dad said. “She hasn’t changed in twenty-five years.”
Ma called Tessie to tell her the latest Gonzaga story, and then Tessie came over to help Ma write the note.
“Do you put the date in the left corner or the right?” Ma asked.
“I think the right because it’s a note and not a typed business letter,” Tessie said, chewing on a pencil.
“I wish I could remember,” Ma said. Suddenly it was like the two of them were in school again, and they were afraid!
“Let’s try that then,” Ma said. “Then I guess I’ll write Dear Sister… or should I write Dear Sister Gonzaga?”
“MA! Just write it!”
“Don’t be so fresh! You and your love letters got me into this! If I screw up she’s gonna be over the house smacking me around before I know it!” She and Tessie thought that was so funny, but I didn’t.
Ma started writing.
“How do you spell Gonzaga?” she asked Tessie. “It’s been so long. Three A’s or one O and two A’s?”
“Oh for Christ’s sake, why don’t you just call the school? Call the principal!”
“Just spell it g-e-s-t-a-p-o,” Tessie said, and the two of them almost fell off the kitchen chairs.
So Ma practiced on the back of the phone book until she thought Gonzaga looked better than Ganzaga, but when she wrote on the official blue nun writing paper she spelled in Goonzaga!
“MA!!! I’m gonna get creamed!”
“Well, whaddya think of THAT! Goonzaga! Now I gotta start over!” she said and crumpled up the blue paper and tossed it into the garbage pail across the room.
“Two points,” Tessie said.
“But MA! She said I had to use THAT paper and now I’m gonna get KILLED!”
“What difference does it make what paper?”
“She SAID!”
“Is Jimmy going to get killed by Sister?” Lois asked when she came into the kitchen looking for her milk. “Because when I go to school I don’t wannoo be killed.”
“Go inside,” Ma told her.
“But my milk.”
Tessie got Lois her milk and then Ma started a new note on her own paper, which had pictures of flowers and turtles on it that she got for free from the bank once because they were out of those folded up plastic rain hats. I knew I was going to get creamed for this, and it would be all her fault, partly Tessie’s, and even Uncle Johnny’s. What did I do to get into this? Nothing!
Ma wrote that I was copying Uncle Johnny’s idea, and that she hoped Sister Gonzaga would forgive me. Could you believe it? Like I had done something wrong!
“It’s not that you did anything wrong, I just don’t want to get into a fight with her,” Ma said. “She’s not even your nun so let’s just get her off our backs, okay?”
“MA!!!” I said, and I wasn’t happy about it. No matter how I tried from then on, Gonzaga was going to know about me. I could never hide!
“Ask if she remembers us,” Tessie said. “Ask if she remembers the time she made us go down to the office because we were chewing gum and she yelled and we said it was Aspergum for our teeth.”
“That wasn’t us, Tessie, it was Margaret Sheehan and Sheila Gallagher.”
Oh boy! Here I was getting ready to be murdered, and all they could talk about was gum. Now do you believe what I had to go through?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

So the next morning I get up with that stomach feeling like I had all summer, and went to school. Ma made me cereal and I think she felt a little sorry for me because she asked if I wanted her to take me in.
“No! Boy, I just I wish we had that blue paper still, that’s all.”
“Have your cereal.”
“I don’t feel hungry.”
“Have some.”
Lois came into the kitchen.
“When Jimmy dies can we get a dog?”
I knew, I just knew she was going to be calling and telling Tessie what Lois said, as soon as I was out the door, because Ma had that look of she couldn’t wait to tell Tessie the latest. I just wanted to go to school and get it over with, whatever it was.
And you know what? Like it was through some nun magic, Daria knew all about what I had to do, and she said I could go and bring the note to Gonzaga after recess. “Maybe she won’t remember, but we’d better not take that chance, shall we?”
I loved her even more after that, and by the time I went home at lunch for my baloney sandwich, I was feeling happier—still scared, but not so much.
“Did the nun try and kill you?” Lois asked. “Did she hit you with a stick or what?”
“Let him eat, young lady!”
“Did she throw a rock in your head?”
On the way back to school I met Uncle Johnny and Karina and he said I looked sick. I told him real fast the whole thing about Gonzaga, but I said that it wasn’t really his fault even though he wrote on his notebook, too, and Karina laughed.
“Which girlfriend, Johnny?” she asked him.
“You were an altar boy, Uncle Johnny, is there a prayer I can say? Could something happen so she forgets?”
“She probably won’t forget but you can ask the Virgin Mary to help you in a good way.”
“Really? Like what? I tried but I couldn’t think of anything. And she didn’t help when I asked her once…”
“Say ‘Mary, make something happen to Sister so she forgets that I’m in trouble with her, but not a bad thing.’ “
“Say it.”
So I said it until he thought I sounded good, and then I ran to school.
When I got to Room 11, I sat in my seat until Daria said I could go down to Room Six with my note. The whole class knew where I was going, and Diana Massaia raised her hand and asked if she could walk down with me.
“I think he’s quite capable, Diana, but thank you. Class, that was a very good example of generosity and good citizenship.”
And everybody clapped for Diana Massaia.
Me, I went downstairs and stood outside Room Six. My hands were sweaty and felt like electricity was going through them. I was so afraid of getting the note wet that I put it on the floor and dried my hands on my pants. I said Uncle John’s prayer—‘Mary, make something happen to Sister so she forgets that I’m in trouble with her, but not a bad thing.’ Inside, I could hear Gonzaga.
“And that’s why we should pray every day for peace, because one day the Communists could be coming here on the Staten Island Ferry to take over. We could look out that window and see Communists! Do we want Communists to come to Bay Ridge?”
“No sister,” forty kids all said at the same time, because they knew what was good for them.
Finally I got up the nerve and knocked on the door.
“Silence!” I heard her say and then she came and opened the door. For a minute she looked down at me like who was I, and I thought I should run, but then she took my shoulder and marched me over to her desk. You couldn’t hear one sound in that hot room… and I thought I smelled a tuna fish sandwich.
“Well! And what have we got to say for ourselves?”
“I have the note, Sister.”
“Place it on my desk.”
Boy was I sweating. I put the paper with the flowers and turtles on her desk, and when she saw it she started to turn red, just like Dad did when he had to go out before work in the morning and shovel snow.
She brought her hand up slowly, and I got ready to be hit, but then she slammed it down on her desk, hard, and everybody jumped.
She had to stop because the loudspeaker came on in the corner of the wall above her desk, and you never knew if it was going to be for a fire drill so we always had to stop what we were doing and listen.
It was Sister John Francis, the principal, and she sounded very, very sad, like she was crying.
“Sisters and students, your attention please. We’ve just heard on the radio that President Kennedy has been shot.”
Gonzaga’s mouth popped open.
“Sisters, please join me and lead your classes in prayer. In the name of the Father…”
After praying Three Hail Marys with us, John Francis clicked off.
Oh boy… the President? Gonzaga was white, not red, and it was like she was frozen at her desk. Nobody did anything right away, but then some of her class started crying and she didn’t stop them. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, and it’s like she wasn’t there with us anymore, you know? Like she’d gone someplace else without moving. I could hear noises out in the hall, and out of the corner of my eye I could see mothers running past the windows, like they were coming to get their kids from school right now, even though it wasn’t anywhere near three o’clock. Everything was going so fast and slow at the same time, like I was in a speeding car watching it all on television.
Then Gonzaga started to cry, right there frozen at her desk, and she turned and looked at me.
“His poor children,” she whispered.
I didn’t know what to do, standing there far away from Room 11, so I reached across the back of her chair and patted her on the back of her head. Then she took my hand and held it while she raised her right hand to get everybody’s attention, and we all started saying another Hail Mary. I think the whole school was doing that.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Ma and Lois were outside school to meet me at three and we walked home, very quiet. Tessie was waiting in front of her house for us with some of the other ladies, but nobody was saying anything. Everybody looked like they had just been in the worst trouble ever.
“Any broken bones?” Tessie asked me, and that’s when Ma really started crying, and she couldn’t stop. Tessie took us all up the stairs and into our house, and we started that long afternoon and night of watching television, waiting for Dad to come home from the office.

In the Days of the Dinosaurs



I was fixated on them as a kid in the early 1960s, along with just about every other kid in America. Some of my earliest memories involve dinosaurs. My dad would take me to the McKinley Park library branch and I would run over into the adult section because they had really old science books that showed great pictures of dinosaurs, all labeled: ankylosaurus, brontosaurus, diplodocus, stegosaurus, tyrannosaurus rex… I was fascinated. These giant things once prowled the planet, and the earth actually SHOOK when they walked, the rumble made by their huge, heavy feet stamping on the ground  sounding like approaching thunder… It was incredible to me that there were things THIS BIG that had all eventually disappeared.

The book above was given to me by my Uncle John, who often brought me books. (Senior 63 was something I wrote on the cover myself,  which was the year he graduated from Fort Hamilton High School. I copied everything he did, actually. On a third grade notebook of mine I wrote “I love Sharon” in bubble letters because Uncle John had written similar sentiments on HIS notebooks. A substitute nun saw my paean one day and gave me hell, along with a swat on the bottom. Thank you, Sister Gonzaga, whose name sounded like a dinosaur, so there ya go.) The book had great you-are-there appeal:

“With his teeth and claws, the killer tears the flesh from the Duckbill. He gulps it in huge chunks. At the end of an hour, half the skeleton lies bare. The killer’s stomach is full. Slowly the great dinosaur walks to the jungle. There he stretches out beneath a palm tree. For several days he sleeps soundly. No other dinosaur dares to bother him. Then Tyrannosaurus wakes up, hungry again. He goes forth to make another kill. That is his life- killing, eating, and sleeping.”

Dad signed us up for an art class at Brooklyn College about that time, and in our group was one of those kids whose parents doted on him and fueled his fantasies: they were his supporting cast. I remember being GREEN with envy because they were letting him build a dinosaur diorama in their basement.

I  had a little bag of plastic dinosaurs in pastel colors that I would arrange in the backyard underneath the tomato plants and rosebushes. Right there in Brooklyn, way before Spielberg,  I established the original Jurassic Park.

And then you grow up.

And then it’s June 2014 and you decide it’s high time you visited Dinosaur World over in Orlampa. Yes, Orlampa. There is actually a sign on Interstate 4 which refers to the region between Orlando and Tampa as Orlampa, which sounds more like a disease of the lymph nodes. “Yeah, we’re going to the rehab place and bringing her some kale. They say kale is good for orlampa. You wanna come with us” “No thanks.”

You’ve possibly been to Dinosaur World, but you’ve definitely sped past it while driving through Orlampa. You saw the dinosaurs by the side of the road, and probably said “We should go there.” Very few of you have, judging by the people who were there today,  who were people that I probably have not spent a lot of time with in my life. (Ya get the pictcha? Yes, we see.) Let’s just say there were some Boy Scout leaders with their groups, women with coal miner’s daughter hairdos, and lots of little kids named Amber and Winchester. But you know what? I talk to anyone and interact with everyone, so it was fine. I immerse myself in these situations, sort of like the Dorothy Malone character in those Frankie and Annette beach movies: to observe.

Herewith, a series of photographs destined to thrill, enchant, terrify, and amuse you.


Something-o’-saureses at the entrance to Dinosaur World. Hadrosaurs? I always liked the little things perched atop their bony skulls. The literature always mentions the “tiny brains” of these creatures, kind of implying that they were too stupid to last more than a few million years.


Raptors? Possibly. Imagine leaving your tent at four in the morning (a time, between you and me, which is neither here nor there) and seeing a few of these watching while you free yourself, seeking relief? (Ladies, I don’t even want to imagine what you might experience.)


In a cave you will find this tiny card delineating the History of the World; the fan is situated so that you might find respite from the  sweat that breaks out when you realize we are doomed.


Imagine finding this in the toilet late at night? I’m just saying. ALWAYS check before sitting down!


Here are two something-o’-saureses fighting. Remember those dinosaur movies you used to watch on late afternoon TV instead of doing your homework? They always featured two dinosaurs fighting. There would be screams, loud groans, and, eventually, one would tumble into a crack in the earth when the inevitable earthquake occurred complete with lave-spewing volcanoes. This stock footage appeared in just about every dinosaur movie of the 1950s. Remember The Giant Behemoth? At one point a group of Londoners boarded a ferry, a little girl and her doll among them. Bronto appears… ferry is capsized… smash cut to doll floating in Thames, sans owner. I was devastated.


This fishy creature lived a lonnng time ago. Imagine schools of these still living off the Florida coast? It might mean the difference between a day spent in paradise and a day spent in the morgue should you decide to go for a swim after your continental breakfast.


Here is Kirk, Scandinavianically unaware that a dinosaur has just emerged from a nearby egg disguised as a trash receptacle.

The fine line between life and death has been explored ad infinitum in the films of Bergman. Here, the fine line is a bench.


This is the huge gift shop at Dinosaur World. After your experience, you can go crazy buying dino-related toys, gifts, tee shirts, etc. I bought a couple of dino-centric things for Blueie (my lovebird) to chew on. When I presented him with his gifts, he promptly squawked, flew around the area, crapped, and screamed in horror- which is basically what I did that day. And would I do it again? You bet!

A Gorgeous Sunday West Orange Trail Group Bike Tour



There was a chill in the air this morning when I went outside to load my bicycle onto the car’s bike rack, but the sky was a brilliant blue and the weather radar showed an absence of those rough-edged yellow and red and black things which look, lately, like remnants of burnt fried eggs roaming across my iMac’s screen.

West Orange Bikes and Blades  hired me to give a two-hour guided bike tour of the Trail from the Killarney Trailhead five miles east to the Winter Garden Heritage Museum and Ms Bee’s Popcorn and Candy Store, and the weather was perfect. I always jump at the chance to share West Orange County’s history with new people, and these conventioneers were a great group to work with





Here’s the gang, laden with popcorn and candy after their long haul.

Their bikes are parked across Plant Street at the Heritage Museum.


They got to see the new History Research and Education Center (our new offices) going up on Plant Street…


… our eastern gateway to the downtown Area…


…the beautifully preserved Edgewater Hotel…


…Centennial Fountain…


… the Garden Theatre, where Carol Lee is starring in Hairspray…


…Splash Park on Plant Street…


…City Hall…


…Brayton, an old community just west of downtown Winter Garden, where a former fertilizer company has been repurposed as Roundtable Productions, a multimedia production company…


…the former South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association offices in Tildenville…


…the old SLACGA water tower…


…the Luther Willis Tilden home (c.1910) on Tildenville School Road…


…Lake Brim behind the Tilden home…


…mile marker 801 from Richmond, Virginia, which stood along the old Orange Belt / ACL railroad tracks…


…a home on Oakland’s Tubb Street which began life as boarding house for railroad men when it was built in the late 1880s…


…Historic Town Hall in Oakland, which started out as a bank in 1912…


…and one of the views south of Oakland, former grove land stretching towards Lake Apopka’s south shore. It was a great ride and a great experience and, after I sent them off on their bus and back to the Portofino, I went exploring through some of the groves which still stand between Oakland and Tildenville…





Along the old Tildenville-Oakland Road, you pass through some very old properties…


…and the old road pops you out through here onto Oakland’s Starr Street.

SO… anybody up for a bike tour? There’s so much to see in West Orange County!

The Art of Shopping Locally


I’d heard that Se7en Bites Bakery / Cafe / Caterer was opening this week, and I was so glad to have a free Saturday to go down to their shop at 207 North Primrose and surround myself with freshly-baked goods. It’s a charming shop- bright and airy and energetic- its counter loaded with colorful and tempting delicacies.

In the picture are one slice of chocolate chip pumpkin spice cheesecake (Kirk ate the other slice well before its photo opportunity), an orange chocolate chip scone, and a hazelnut coffee cake with brown butter glaze.

They were all excellent, and what struck me is that you can taste and experience INGREDIENTS, not globs of overly-sweetened mushiness. This is true baking! You can really tell that Trina and Kevin, who I met today, love what they’re accomplishing here. “A Sweet and Savory Bakeshop” is an apt tagline for their fledgling enterprise!

They’ll also be featuring a Cookies and Milk Happy Hour from 230-330, and a culinary enticement called “Name Your Cookie of the Day.” 

Their hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 730-330, and Saturdays from 9 to3.   Yes- there are breakfast items, and beverages, making this a special little place to pause in before getting on the expressway. Find out all about them on Facebook at Se7en Bites, and you can phone them at 407-203-0727.


At the Finds On Shine Parisian Flea at Maxine’s, I picked up an exquisite hanging ornament by Crawford, an artist whose work I have enjoyed for many years. Today’s purchase features Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. My other pieces by Crawford feature Norma Shearer…

When I managed Urban Think! Bookstore in downtown Orlando Crawford was responsible for running our popular Canvas and Cocktails art nights,and helped give many local artists their initial exposure. And he’s still working hard as ever!


The Old and New Around Orlando’s Lake Eola


I haven’t blogged much lately. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in writing; my job at the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation involves a lot of writing, and I still take tons of photos as I wander and document West Orange County. Working as much as I do now has me staring fleetingly at my bicycle as I pass it where it stands perched in our living room, and I wonder when I’m going to go on another PhotoBike Tour. I’ve walked, though; downtown Winter Garden is just a few miles east of the area I’ve been documenting lately– Oakland and Tildenville and an area informally known as Brayton, which used to be a railroad stop where Brayton Road meets the railroad tracks. There were fertilizer plants here, and a packing house; if you’ve ridden the West Orange Trail and seen the building with the Seminoles logo on its roof- that’s Brayton; that building was once the Diamond R (Roper family) fertilizer plant. Cater corner to that, across the trail, is where the Bray packing house stood (the 1914 piers are still in the woods), which later became the Hall family fertilizer plant; if you peer closely at the picture below, you’ll see two of the piers. They sleep quietly in what looks very much like a jungle today, though this area was hopping with activity for many decades.


It was beautiful enough this morning to visit downtown Orlando, where Kirk usually goes every weekend for a walk with friends. Occasionally join them, though not always; I like to retain my air of exclusivity, feeling that my rare appearances will only be that much more appreciated. This morning, after a snack at the very delightful Le Gourmet Break on Magnolia Avenue (perfect French pastries), we headed to Lake Eola to have a walk and to tour the remaining house on Washington Street- you’ll recall the recent imbroglio regarding the demolition of homes in the block across the street from the park’s playground. The house at the head of this blog post was saved, and rehabilitated for a few hundred thousand dollars. It will serve as a community center and event rental facility. It was built in 1930 according to the OCPA site, and we’re very glad that it’s been saved. Here are a few shots of the mansion:


This window located at a landing halfway up the stairs to the second floor brightens up the center of the house.


Here’s a view of the park from an upstairs porch.


On a wall inside, a large postcard blow-up depicts the original Lake Eola bandshell.


Another view of the exterior.

The floors have all been refinished, and everything is fresh and clean and ready to receive guests in its new incarnation. There were lots of visitors, and plenty of city guides to answer questions and hand out literature. What would be a welcome addition, however: some sort of researched handout that details the lives of the families who built and occupied the house over the years. I love finding out about all that!

We followed our tour of the house with a turn around the lake, noting the remarkable rise in the swan population. I tell you, there are more than ever. When we exited the house, they handed us bags of swan food, and it’s like they’d been alerted to the fact: dozens of them were congregating at the water’s edge, waiting for us to sprinkle pellets into the water. They would nudge one another, sometimes lashing out with their beaks, as they vied for diving space. How come swans portrayed in movies and on greeting cards are always so benign? They’re actually snappish, impatient creatures. As I sprinkled my pellets like some latter-day version of St. Francis with his sparrows,I imagined myself starring in a movie called “The Swans,” in which I am pursued across hill and dale by these birds. They don’t move that quickly, and neither do I anymore, so picture endless sequences featuring this tableaux in slow motion, filmed with a lens shrouded in gossamer fabric. (Sort of like Lucy in “Mame.”)


As you walk around the lake, you might find yourself stepping in time with these guys… that’s daniel at the right,  entrepreneur at Kombucha!


And, finally, a stop for rye and ciabatta from Denny at the Sweet Traditions Bakery table at the Farmer’s Market.

What I like about the park is that so many different groups of people use it comfortably with one another. It’s a great urban space, made even more accessible by the intelligent use of a house that could just as easily have been demolished.

Winter Park’s Rollins College Greenhouse

Today after breakfast at the new branch of First Watch on Aloma Avenue, we went with our buddies Alan and Mark to visit the greenhouse at Rollins College; it was a nice antidote to all the yelling I’ve been doing this week thanks to the imminent destruction of the pioneer Capen House.

Alan is the greenhouse manager, and this morning he gave us a tour.  According to the Rollins website, The Susan O. and Frederick A. Hauck Botanical Research Center, or what is commonly referred to as “The Greenhouse,” is conveniently located next to the Alfond Boathouse on the shores of beautiful Lake Virginia. The Greenhouse opened on October 20, 1983, to facilitate student and faculty research, provide plant material for study and to permanently house a diverse collection of plant species, some of which are indigenous to Florida. During the Summer of 1998, a student designed and installed a butterfly garden. A book which describes each plant in the butterfly garden in detail is available to the public as a reference during normal hours.

It was very warm inside, what with all this weather we’ve been having, but I managed to photograph some of the inmates before the camera’s lens fogged over.


This is a chenille plant, though I first knew it as “Love Lies Bleeding” when I planted seeds years ago. “Love Lies Bleeding” sounds like the name of one of those bodice-ripper romance novels featuring Fabio on the cover. 


I’d ask to live in here if it was air-conditioned, but then I would survive and most of the plants wouldn’t. Besides, there might be bugs. I can imagine waking up at night and, in a panic, breaking through the glass panes because I discovered that I was covered with ants. It’s very nice inside, steamy and tropical and there are hundreds and hundreds of unusual plants growing and blooming. 


A geranium and a blood lily.


Pitcher plants. These things are big, over six inches long in some cases, and have been known to entice and digest things like mice. 


Beautiful orchids, here and below…



Ropy donkey tail, a sedum.


A nut from a cacao tree. Inside there is Swiss chocolate!

I also took some video of Alan demonstrating how the Venus Fly Traps work, but they are .avi files and won’t upload on WordPress unless I buy an upgrade. 

And there’s so much to see on the college grounds. Pinehurst Cottage, erected in 1886, is a showplace. It was one of the school’s original two buildings.


And the chapel…


It’s a beautiful spot for a school, nestled along Lake Virginia. It deserves a trip back, by bicycle.

Historic Winter Park- A Driving Tour

Here’s a complete scan of the Junior League‘s 1980 project. This is an invaluable booklet documenting the historic architectural legacy of Winter Park, which– in more than a few cases– has been allowed to vanish. (A link to my article of a few days ago regarding the imminent demolition of the Capen house, which is featured on the tour.)

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