Posts by Gregg

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Jim and Claudette Davis

By Gregg, 26 February, 2010, 119 Comments
James E. Davis

James E. Davis

Dorothy. may have said there is no place like home but Principal Jim Davis clearly feels there is no place like Zephyrhills. He is thankful for the opportunity to have served a cohesive community such as Zephyrhills that was concerned about young people and showed warmth and caring. “I would do it all again!” said Jim.

We had the distinct pleasure this week to interview James E. Davis who served as Principal of ZHS, Zephyrhills Junior High and Director of Employee Relations for the School District and his wife of 42 years, Claudette who also retired as an educator from Pasco County Schools.  Many alumni asked us to interview Mr. and Mrs. Davis for a countdown tribute.

Mr. Davis served ZHS from 1966 to 1975 and was principal from 1973 to 1975. He had the unique situation of assuming the principalship in 1973 when previous principal, Raymond Stewart was appointed by Florida Governor Reuben Askew to complete the term of Rodney B. Cox, Superintendent,  who died suddenly. It was an emotional and tumultuous time and Mr. Davis was the man for the job to bring a sense of normalcy and caring to the school during the transition. Later after Raymond lost the superintendent’s election, James became principal at ZJHS (now R.B. Stewart Middle School) from 1975 to 1984. Prior to becoming principal, James was a dean of students, assistant principal, math teacher and coach for hundreds of students at ZHS.

He retired in 2003 after serving for 19 years as the chief negotiator for the school district in the position of Director of Employee Relations. This unique leadership experience is indicative of the character of the man; Jim voluntarily stepped down as high school principal when Ray Stewart was out of a job because he felt it was the right thing to do. Undoubtedly that character has impacted many students, in fact generations, and enriched our community!

As we interviewed Jim and Claudette we found several recurring themes in their recollections: memories of students, pride in teachers, fondness for the community and commitment.

STUDENTS: “I enjoyed every one of them, and I remember them all,” Jim said. “I always tried to treat students the way I would want people to treat my kids.” Claudette added, “The students always knew that Jim cared.”

The life of a principal is one of self-sacrifice. Often Jim supervised students until midnight after ball games making certain that every student was safely picked up. Being a dean was a tough and grueling job as well; Jim recalled that he would telephone parents if students were absent (before the automated phone systems of today). He recalled making a phone call to the home of Mark Penney from the Class of 1971, a running back on the ZHS football team and talking with his mother.  After the mother said Mark was refusing to come to school, Jim made a home visit, ousted Mark and was invited for breakfast. After this incident Mark never missed another day of school.

A few personal anecdotes that Jim shared, were representative of the impact that he had on families. During his first year of teaching at ZHS after having taught in Tampa for one year, a group of his Van Buren students skipped school to make an excursion to Zephyrhills just to visit Mr. Davis. He recalls being called down to the principal’s office to meet with the group. One member of that first group of students, Bruce Kidd, telephoned Jim a couple of years ago to let him know that he had become a math professor at St. Petersburg Junior College.

Reuben Odom was another story that came to mind as Jim recalled Reuben phoning him at 2:00 a.m. a few years ago while on leave from the Navy to let him know that he was getting married the next day.  He just thought his old coach would want to know and characteristically, Jim felt honored to receive the call, even in the middle of the night.

Claudette and Jim said that they see students everywhere they go. Jim particularly enjoys the multi-generational groups. Even while serving as principal, he said it was quite extraordinary to work with a student whose parent you had also taught.  Not only do they see students in the local community, they said they have run into former students in other locations, Louisiana and elsewhere. The impact is truly far-reaching not only in geographic but personal impact. Jim is proud that several of his students later became teachers; Jerry Pricher and others keep in close contact with him.

BUILDINGS: Jim reminisced about the former ZHS campus. He said he remembered walking in to the vintage 1926 brick building each morning and just absorbing the character and history of the place.  When the school was on double sessions, he would usually arrive at 6:00 a.m. and do a regular walkthrough.  The auditorium and the hallways held many memories. Jim began teaching at ZHS in the first portable that the school district ever built. He said his portable was beside the classroom of Jean Murphy who was one of the first reading teachers in the school district. He personally constructed sidewalks along with Ray Stewart and tore down one of the Physical Education sheds. Lots of labor was poured into those buildings and the principals used to perform a great deal of it themselves.

Claudette Davis

Claudette Davis

COMMUNITY: “Zephyrhills was a fine place to work and an excellent place to raise your family,” said Jim. People had different concerns and positions but they worked through them without personal animosity.  So many key people made a difference; he recalled Jack Linville, Phil Shaver, Don Robinson, George Neukom, Bill Eiland, Bob Howell Bernie Wickstrom, and Irene Dobson. “I think the community supported the school  because they saw good people who cared about students.” Jim was principal of ZHS during integration and when asked about that time frame, he said that although they had a few situations, it was a smooth time. Openness with the students and creating an atmosphere of acceptance was essential. He credited Irene Dobson and the first African American Assistant Principal, Melvin Denard, as being instrumental in assisting with the process as well.

PARENTS:  Forging a bond with the parents was also a key principle that he followed. Jim said, “When parents realize you will protect and teach their children, and that you are headed in the same direction, you are a team. I believe in getting to know the parents. In those days the auditorium was jammed full when we had parent meetings.  The parents really viewed the principal and teachers as extensions of themselves as well.”

TEACHERS: Jim often brought the coaches home for dinner, said Claudette who is known to be a fantastic cook.  They recalled a time when Jim interviewed a teacher applicant, Carl Waldron and Jim invited him home for lunch; Jim said Carl called his wife, Mary, right there and said “I want this job because the principal even took me to his house for lunch.” Jim said that he had the type of teachers that you wanted to teach your own children. “They all liked kids!” He reminisced about Business/Language Arts Teacher, Constance Kaylor and recalled the day that she came to school and as they were chatting over a cup of coffee, mentioned that she had tripped on the sidewalk on the way to school. As it turned out she had broken her arm on the way to school but was concerned that Mr. Davis might not be able to find a suitable substitute, so wanted to make sure her students were taken care of before going to the hospital.

Throughout the interview Jim shared vignettes on some of the outstanding staff. Recognizable names were George Scudder, Cora McCreedy, John Clements, Jean Murphy, Ron Jeffries, Lisa Gude, Jake Redmon, Melvin Denard, Joyce Snow, Jane Reams, Stan Kendrick, Victor Smith, Liz Geiger, Victor Smith, Marion Crawford, Ann Crawford, Bill Kustes, Bill Worthington, Hazel Massey, Cora McCreedy, Dan Thomas, Mary Lou Massey and countless others.  He said an outstanding secretary, Evelyn Lail, contributed to many smooth years as well.

Jim shared that as Director of Employee Relations, he negotiated the teacher contact for nearly 20 years with the Union President, Liz Geiger, who had been one of the best math teachers he had known and always enjoyed a friendly camaraderie. He laughed about recruiting lunchroom manager Mary Lou Massey away from colleague principal, Ferd Renninger. It was obvious in the interview that Mr. Davis was a leader who inspired his staff.

As authors, we both had numerous encounters with Mr. Davis. Clereen was a student of his under his principalship and shared with him that she vividly recalled the location on the campus where she was caught in a public display of affection (PDA) and received her one and only detention. She chuckled as she recalled, “Mr. Davis, it must have been a great kiss because Jim Brunty and I have now been married 35 years.”  Madonna also shared that she was proud to recall that Jim hired her in her first teaching job and had a profound affect upon her career as well. “He and Claudette are just the best!”

Claudette Davis served for many years in the Pasco County School System as well. She is perhaps best known as the principal’s secretary for West Zephyrhills Elementary where she retired a few years ago but also helped to open Centennial Elementary School, Woodland Elementary School and Weightman Middle School. She fondly recalls working at Moore-Mickens Middle School in its final year as a middle school. Claudette is known as a wonderful care-taker for children and a tremendous child and parent advocate. Pitching in with fundraisers, joining in to serve at school dinners for the community and hosting celebrations for FCAT successes are memories that many have of Claudette. Always the first one to greet new students and parents coming to retrieve their children for an appointment or early dismissal, her warmth and nurturing spirit set the tone for the school.  All remember her lovely smile. Asked to share some memories, Claudette recalled her friend the Rev. Cora Hill whom she worked with at Moore-Mickens.

Mr. Davis is a 1959 Brandon High School graduate who served in the Army Reserve and graduated from the University of South Florida (its first graduating class) with a Bachelor of Arts in education in 1964. He taught and coached one year at Pasco Junior High and one year at Van Buren Junior High in Tampa, before coming to ZHS in 1966 as a ninth grade teacher. He coached track five years and assisted in football two years and was appointed as Dean of Boys in 1968. He became Stewart’s assistant in 1971.  He earned a Master’s Degree in Administration from Western Carolina University in 1971. Claudette and Jim have three children: Kimberly, Kelly, and James Jr. They are very proud of their children’s accomplishments. Kimberly Cassarelli is a cadet in the Police Academy and the parent of two children, Devon and Erin; Daughter Kelly Padilla is a graduate of USF and employed by Well Care and the parent of Frankie; and son, Jimmy is a graduate of the University of Florida where he is employed and currently working on his Master’s Degree.  All are graduated of ZHS.

Clereen and I could not resist asking about the obvious love affair between this handsome and devoted couple. With a chuckle, they said their first date was the ZHS senior prom at the Zephyrhills Municipal Auditorium. Jim said, “Can you imagine? The first date and I was supervising the students?”  Claudette laughed and said, “Not to worry, it was love at first sight.” They both agreed that acclimating to Zephyrhills was assisted by the gracious support of Beanie Clements and Betty Hall who would leave a gift or share a kindness to help them feel more a part of the Zephyrhills community!

Thank you Jim and Claudette for all of the lives you have touched.  The legacy will stretch to further generations. We are humbled by your service and want you to know you serve as an example to all of us!

Next week we would like to share alumni recollections of Jim and Claudette. Please write in!

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 29, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Come and get your tickets!

By Gregg, 26 February, 2010, No Comment

MerrillDancers_0004

Tickets for the Old fashion barn dance are now available for purchase at the ZHS front office. Tickets are just $5 and the dance is open to the public. Come and get yours today!

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Homecoming, a tradition

By Gregg, 25 February, 2010, No Comment

Homecoming is a festive time in a high school’s schedule of events. Traditionally it has been an occasion for alumni to return to the school and gather for reunions to renew acquaintances.  Over time, it has evolved into a signature event for the high school to boost school loyalty laced with a bit of jingoism for the spirit of the school, and most certainly the camaraderie support of the football team. I imagine every reader has at least one flashback on a memorable event such as the Homecoming game, a lively pep-rally, or memorable homecoming dance.

This year at ZHS the current homecoming week features a series of confidence-boosting, rally-enhancing merriment that will lift the football team and foster cohesiveness.  The scheduled events include designated dress-up days for the week, homecoming parade, the illustrious football game and a homecoming dance. A bit of easing of the school district official code of conduct’s dress code for the week permits students to assemble a creative outfit each day to reveal their true school spirit.  With homecoming week coinciding with Halloween, ZHS Student Council has capitalized on the time of the year to designate the official parade theme as ‘Favorite Horror Movie and/or Villian,’ so we should see some unique floats in the community parade on Friday.

If you happen to pass by the ZHS campus this week, you will see students dressed according to the designated Homecoming days which include:

Monday - Sports Day – Adorn your favorite professional or college team’s attire

Tuesday - Spotlight Day – Dress in red, green or yellow to designate your dating status?

Wednesday - Horror Movie or Favorite Villain Day?

Thursday - Twin Day – Select a friend and dress in matching twin outfits.

Friday - Spirit Day – Adorn yourself in orange and black and prepare the football team for victory!

Also note that the Homecoming Parade occurs in downtown Zephyrhills on Friday afternoon followed by the Homecoming game at the ZHS football field in the evening against Gulf High School.

Saturday – the Homecoming dance occurs in the Activity Center

So what of the history of homecoming at ZHS? We did a bit of digging to reveal to you a few snippets of information. We know of course that the first football team at ZHS was born in 1941-42 and composed of Dick Grange, Dick Tucker, Vernon Shaeffer, B.J. East, Nattie Storms, Bill Duey, Carl Lippincott, Willie Smith, Sanford Delk, Otis Jones, Norman Turner, Merrill Cherry, Carl England, Thurman Clardy, Richard Kelly, Billy Parsons and  Coach Thomas Burch Cornelius, and Assistant Coach,  W.W. Jackson. (Photo included) For several years due to World War II, ZHS was without a football team so we can only surmise that homecoming didn’t begin until a few years later.

Members of Zephyrhills High School's inaugural football team that played in 1941

Members of Zephyrhills High School's inaugural football team that played in 1941

In our research we found mention of homecoming around 1949. Our ZHS 100 committee has entertained the idea of compiling a comprehensive list of the homecoming games/scores as well as the homecoming queens and kings throughout history.  With this idea in mind, we invite you to send us information about the homecoming activities you recall. We promise to compile these for the upcoming centennial celebrations. Here are a few glimpses at homecomings that appeared to be prominent in the microfilm of the Zephyrhills News. For our history buffs out there, we hope these accounts will bring smiles to your face.

1950: Mary Ann Vestal ruled as queen over the ZHS Homecoming Game last Wednesday night and Paula Staples as princess. Others appearing in the half-time festivities were:  Lynda Wheeler, Vonda Clardy, Bunny Sue Sibley, and Julia Belle Pracher. Roger Whitworth was king and Jake Sapp, prince.  Jean Johnson, the 1949 Homecoming Queen crowned our new queen.

1953: 1953 Homecoming King and Queen are Raymond Geiger and Joan Myers. Neva Sellars, President of the class, served as emcee for the program.

1956: Colorful ZHS Homecoming festivities began Friday evening at toss-up time, when Bulldogs co-captains, Glenn Miller and Joe Thorn and sponsors, Ann Smith and Margaret Keen were spotted meeting the Crystal River captains and their sponsors on Krusen Field.  Drena Hampton was crowned by Carol Hughes, 1955 queen, with a tiara, given last year by former Mayor and Mrs. I.A. Krusen for the purpose.

1959: ZHS annual homecoming festivities will be climaxed this Friday evening with the crowning of royalty during halftime at Krusen Field.  A parade of floats will originate at the campus. Led by a police escort,  cheerleaders, majorettes, band, and class and organization floats will parade north on 10th street to 5th Avenue and then west to 1st street. The paraders will stop at 5th Avenue and 8th Street for a pep rally.  Another rally will be held after the parade.  The king and prince have been selected by members of the ZHS football team, under auspices of Student Council President, Bobby Baggett. Loretta Bamberger, homecoming queen for 1958, will crown 1959 royalty.

1961: Highlighting the ZHS’s 1961 homecoming festivities during halftime of the football game between the Bulldogs and the East Bay Indians at Charles B. Krusen Memorial Field Friday evening was the crowing of Linda Cavin as queen and Frank Kersey as king.  Sharing coronation honors with them were Bonnie Rannald as princess and Johnny Clements as prince. Dorothy Daniels, last year’s homecoming queen, crowned Queen Linda and King Frank in ceremonies, emceed by David Smith, last year’s student council president. Miss Cavin was escorted by Buzzie Reutimann.

Zephyrhills High School's 1951 Royalty were Homecoming Queen Joan Johnson, and Homecoming King Billy Richard

Zephyrhills High School's 1951 Royalty were Homecoming Queen Joan Johnson, and Homecoming King Billy Richard

1963: At the half-time Friday night, Judy Smith was crowned Homecoming Queen by 1962 Queen Susan Nichols. Diane Clements was crowned Princess by last year’s Princess, Anna Jo Davis.  Linda Sante and Mary Stanley were named sophomore and freshman maids. Also out for the coronation was “Big Mike” McGinnis who was crowned Homecoming King for 1963 and Ronnie Carroll, prince. And to top it all off, the Student Council sponsored the Homecoming Dance Saturday night. David Myers was in charge of the decorations and entertainment for the night. The room was strung with orange and black streamers meeting in the center. Up on the stage was a huge orange “Z”, donated by the seniors from their float.  It was flanked by foil letters saying “ZHS Homecoming.”  The FFA String Band performed for us and the rest of the program was emceed by Karol Kelly of Radio Station WZRH.

1968: Homecoming was one of the best and most successful for ZHS. There was something for everyone to participate in whether it was sticking a pin into  “Voodoo Ram” or cheering the team on at pep rally. The week ended perfectly with the team winning. During halftime of the game the Bulldog Marching Band formed a heart and as royalty candidates were escorted down the center. Everyone held their breath as Mr. Bill Brown (emcee) opened the envelope containing the final results. Sue Douglas was crowned 1968 Homecoming Queen by last year’s queen, Donna Bales.  Johnny Braxton was selected by the entire football team to reign with her as Homecoming King.  Two very deserving juniors, Sabra Cooper and Keathel Chauncey, received the honored titles of Homecoming Princess and Prince. Completing the Royalty Court were Lois Wells and Martha Padgett. Juniors captured first place honors with their float, “Darn the Rams.”  Second place honors went to the freshmen with their float, “Whip the Rams.”  Third place was awarded to the Senior Class with their float, “Dam the Rams.” The sophomores placed last with their float, “Knock Out the Rams,” but they received the honor of burning the “Voodoo Ram” at the bonfire and were recognized for decorating the halls with the best posters. Alumni were recognized at half time by being asked to stand. Mrs. Angie Skinner and Frank Sellars received a gift for being the earliest graduates of ZHS present at the game.

1970: ZHS had its first Homecoming egg toss. ‘Movies’ was the theme for 1970 Homecoming floats. Bruce Vogel, junior class president, said that the bonfire, pep rally and car smash scheduled for next Thursday is going to be the best ever. Other activities include tricycle races during lunch hours.

1971: Joni Palmer was crowned queen at halftime of the football game between ZHS and South Sumter High. Crowning the new queen was Ginger Douglas. Glenda Sisk, last year’s princess, crowned this year’s junior class winner, Janet Edmonston. Elected in voting within the football squad were James ‘Ricky’ Giles as King and Van McKenzie as Prince.

1973: Featured in the coronation of Homecoming Royalty at halftime of Friday night’s football game were six ZHS students:  Sue Sinacola, Queen Carl Hill (no. 10), King; Princess Patty Rutherford, and  Prince, Larry Hilton (no. 60). Flanking the group was Marta Meengs, freshman maid and Carla Burkham, sophomore maid.

1974: Karen Hughes was chosen by her fellow classmates to reign as the 1974 ZHS Homecoming Queen. The halftime coronation ceremonies were a highlight of the football game with Dunnellon Friday night. Others on the field at the climax of the ritual were Carla Burkam, sophomore maid; Dirk Padgett, Homecoming King; Christi Spoto, Princess; John Fries, Prince and Nancy Dockery, Freshman Maid.

The 1967 Homecoming Queen, Nancy Bently, crowns the 1968 Queen, Donna Bales

The 1967 Homecoming Queen, Nancy Bently, crowns the 1968 Queen, Donna Bales

1976: The homecoming royalty at Krusen Field  were King Ricky Padgett, named by the football team; Queen Andra Douglas, chosen by the student body and Trish Inman as Princess and Phil Fries as Prince. Chairman of the float committee is Beaty Cunningham and he said the parade float theme will be “Song Titles.” Floats will be judged on originality, construction, and appearance and the trophy will be awarded at halftime Friday night.

1978: Big events include a bonfire today after band practice and coronation rehearsal, and the annual Homecoming parade through downtown Zephyrhills. Teresa Ashbaugh is parade chairman.Candidates for Homecoming Queen are: Angie Baker, Brenda Howell, Cindy Dann, and Darlene Roman.

1995: Homecoming court is: Deana Deno, queen; Ricky Moore, king; Emilee Lewis, princess; Kevin Barry, prince; Rana Prior, sophomore maid; Brad Wernsing, sophomore squire; Elisia Rickard, freshman maid; and Will Stimpson, freshman squire.  A series of special contests and dress-up activities are sponsored and underway to boost enthusiasm.

Our list is by no means comprehensive, so send us your recollections, news clippings and memorabilia for our centennial bash! Savor the memories also!

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 22, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

And the winners are….

By Gregg, 25 February, 2010, No Comment

A joint effort between Main Street Zephyrhills and the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce earned Zephyrhills 2nd place in this year’s Pasco County Fair’s Community Exhibit. The exhibit featured Roberto Escobar’s design for the official centennial logo as its centerpiece. Be a judge for yourself and check out the photo below. Click the image for a larger view!

Zephyrhills Community exhibit

Zephyrhills Community exhibit - 2nd Place

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: 4-H Contributions Then & Now

By Gregg, 24 February, 2010, 2 Comments
1957 4-H Boy’s 4-H Club at Zephyrhills High School-Fred Trebour, Robert H. Campbell, Johnny Clements; second row-Paul Pattie, Paul Carlson, James Scborila, Curtis Tucker, Tommy Ross, Charles Grantham, Kenney Bloom; third row-Fred Lott, Jack Bently, John Dickinson, Ralph Couper, James Hill, James Clark, Ronald Highsmith, Tommy Geiger, Paul Yebba; fourth row-Larry Weicht, Jerome Outlaw, Jimmy Daniels, Leslie Dixon, Billy Coolidge, Charles Petty, Ronald Humphries, Marion Amerson, Tom McQuaddy, James Bohanan, Eddie Johnston, Leon Wilson. Photo from ZHS.

1957 4-H Boy’s 4-H Club at Zephyrhills High School-Fred Trebour, Robert H. Campbell, Johnny Clements; second row-Paul Pattie, Paul Carlson, James Scborila, Curtis Tucker, Tommy Ross, Charles Grantham, Kenney Bloom; third row-Fred Lott, Jack Bently, John Dickinson, Ralph Couper, James Hill, James Clark, Ronald Highsmith, Tommy Geiger, Paul Yebba; fourth row-Larry Weicht, Jerome Outlaw, Jimmy Daniels, Leslie Dixon, Billy Coolidge, Charles Petty, Ronald Humphries, Marion Amerson, Tom McQuaddy, James Bohanan, Eddie Johnston, Leon Wilson. Photo from ZHS.

The week of October 5th was National 4-H week. With our recent article on the contributions of scouting to the development of our community’s rich history, we wanted to focus attention this week on another important nonprofit youth organization, 4-H. Florida 4-H celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2009 and boasts 234,000 members and 10,000 volunteers statewide.  Florida 4-H began with corn clubs for boys in 1909 which was followed by tomato clubs for girls in 1912. The history of Zephyrhills is full of reference to 4-H and Extension organizations. In the early years of 4-H, projects were mainly focused on canning, corn growing and livestock projects. In the 1930’s, expansion of 4-H projects for girls included offerings such as clothing, home management, food and nutrition, and other home economics projects. Expansion for boys encompassed soil conservation, tractor driving, engineering, electricity and agricultural production projects. We know from our research that Zephyrhills had a 4-H club as early as 1913. Our article this week provides just a few snapshots of 4-H over time in our community.  The historical vignettes come from both pages of microfilm and recollections of local ZHS alumni. We realize the list is by no means, comprehensive, but we hope it will give you an indication of the educational impact that this organization has had over time. See if you recognize any of these names?  Please share with us more 4-H memories.

1913: Mrs. Rosemary Wallace Trottman, the author of The History of Zephyrhills, 1821-1921, was an active member of the Zephyrhills 4-H Tomato Club back in 1913. Rosemary was invited to be the keynote speaker at a 1976 4-H banquet and proudly detailed her tomato projects in the early years of the town when nearly every city home had a hearty garden and livestock. 4-H was not only social but important for learning some basic skills. She added that the passing of the Smith Lever Act was critical because it created the cooperative extension service.

1926 4-H Club Girls Camp

In 1926 the News announced that the annual camp of Home Demonstration 4-H Club girls would be held at the Port Richey home of the Demonstration Agent, Mrs. Harriett Ticknor. A photo of the girls in vintage bathing attire drinking bottles of milk, was posted proudly in the newspaper of the day with a caption entitled, Milk For Health.

1939 Produced Some National Winners

An announcement in the October 1939 Zephyrhills News celebrated students, Max Bryant & Dave Boatwright for winning University of Florida 4-H Scholarships as  a result of their Florida Dairy Team Demonstration competition. The boys competed at the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco and the community delight was depicted in the article as it stated, We have just received a wire from Mr. McClellan stating that the Florida Dairy Demonstration Team won the scholarship in the National Dairy Demonstration Contest in San Francisco.

1954: Phyllis Geiger Debien of the class of 1954 related that the mention of 4-H brings back great memories. Marianne Simmons was our leader so you know we always had plenty of projects to do (sewing, cooking, crafts, etc.)  I still have some of the ribbons that I won at the county fair, but the most memorable event was summer camp, years 1946-48.  We went to Camp MacQuarrie on a lake up near Ocala and slept in log cabins with bunk beds. It was the first time away from home except staying with cousins.  Crafts, singing, talent night, swimming lessons in the lake and some boating—I will never forget the feeling of that cold wet bathing suit in the morning!

1957: The News reported on a September 1957 meeting at the Florida Power Home Service Center of the 4-H Club. New officers for the year were Laura Higginson, President;  Ann Brooke Smith, vice president; Leslie Smith, secretary-treasurer, Barbara Higginson, Council Delegate, Betty Jo Hall, song leader and Ellen Barefoot, reporter.  Six Crystal Springs 4-H Club boys were also recognized at the annual county awards banquet that year: David Coell, dairy judging team; Joe Higginson, garden, dairy judging team and junior lamb; Paul Pattie, safety, dairy judging team, electricity and swine; Richard Morton, dairy judging team; Hal Morton, electricity and safety; and Jim Marsh, safety.

1957 4-H Girl’s 4-H Club at Zephyrhills High School-Barbra Higginson, Laura Higginson, Ann Smith, Leslie Smith; second row-Brenda Sue Brown, Myrtis Nelson, Vickie Hopkins, Patricia Jackson, Nancy Overhauls, Elaine Howard, Mary Ann Trebour, Patricia Chancey; third row-Gail Hill, Judy Trebour, Fay Gaskin, Ellen Barefoot, Vonceil Smith, Carol Shinner. Photo from ZHS.

1957 4-H Girl’s 4-H Club at Zephyrhills High School-Barbra Higginson, Laura Higginson, Ann Smith, Leslie Smith; second row-Brenda Sue Brown, Myrtis Nelson, Vickie Hopkins, Patricia Jackson, Nancy Overhauls, Elaine Howard, Mary Ann Trebour, Patricia Chancey; third row-Gail Hill, Judy Trebour, Fay Gaskin, Ellen Barefoot, Vonceil Smith, Carol Shinner. Photo from ZHS.

1964: Leslie (Smith) Ehrich, Class of 1964, told us that 4-H was a significant part of her youth in Zephyrhills. She related that her sister and two brothers were also in 4-H: Ann (Smith) Neukom, Class of 1958 and Ben Smith, Class of 1959. We were all 4-Hers along with our older brother Chan, who had already graduated in Virginia before we moved to Zephyrhills. During my school years, from age 9 until I graduated, 4-H was a large part of my life. Our mother, Mary Jeter, had been a 4-H’er in her youth and she raised us in the program.  As farm children, it was just a part of our lives.  We participated in most all of the projects offered.  Back in those days, girls were expected to have girl projects and boys had more of the agricultural side. When we arrived in Pasco County, there were no girls in the dairy program. Only after Mama assured the County Agent that she would be with us all the time, were we approved to show our cattle.  Mama was very knowledgeable on the subject and taught us well.  We all seemed to have a livestock aptitude and we enjoyed a lot of success with our Zephyrhills Guernsey dairy cattle. For me in particular, what I didn’t learn from Mama at home, I learned in 4-H.   With my best friend, Jere (Alston) Harkness, Class of 1964, by my side, we learned to sew this and cook that.  We made annual trips to Tallahassee (FSU) for additional classes on subjects that we could take back and share with younger members. One of my proudest 4-H accomplishments was a young lady from Zephyrhills who was just getting into 4-H as I was getting out. She had been given a Guernsey heifer calf and I spent many afternoons working with her and the calf.  Bonnie (Brocies) Jolly, Class of 1972, was one of the best 4-Her’s Pasco County has ever had.  She participated in many different projects, with emphasis on her dairy cow and beef steers each year.  And now, after all these years, she is an Extension Agent in Kentucky, and of course, works primarily with 4-H groups.  We are still close friends.  4-H gave me my proudest moments of my youth years.

1965: In 1965 Zephyrhills 4-H was featured in National Geographic magazine. Ron Penn, class of 1965 related that his grandmother, Mary Lloyd, was one of the 4-H leaders and he actively participated in swine and poultry projects.  Coincidentally, he and another ZHS alumni, Joe Maniscalco made national news in October 1964 when a middle-eastern dignitary was touring Pasco County. To experience the local culture, the visiting official was taken to none other than a county fair, Pasco.  Feeling it was newsworthy, National Geographic published a prominent photo of Ron and Joe with Ron’s prized rooster.  Ron says he still has the 4-H pin from his project.

Ron Penn and Joe Maniscalco with Blue Ribbon 4-H Rooster at Pasco County Fair in 1964; photo appeared in National Geographic. Photo from Ron Penn.

Ron Penn and Joe Maniscalco with Blue Ribbon 4-H Rooster at Pasco County Fair in 1964; photo appeared in National Geographic. Photo from Ron Penn.

1972: The Pasco County 4-H Dairy Judging team in February 1972, placed first at the Florida State Fair and included Denise Williams who placed as high individual among the 60 4-H youths competing; Pam Griffin who ranked as fourth high individual; Octavio Blanco who ranked as fifth high individual and Martha Mester of Zephyrhills.

1976: In 1976 a News article discusses the annual awards ceremony with mention of several Zephyrhills students. The program opened with the pledge to the flag led by Jodi Cochrane and the 4-H pledge led by Missy Hush, 4-H creed by Mike Nutt and devotions by Martha Ross. Linda Dukes, president of the 4-H County Council presided with assistance by David Herring. Topics included: Public Speaking by Steve Lane; demonstration on electrification by Greg Seigrist; County Council Report by Diane St. Romaine and Scott Black, and Share the Fun by Kathy Hormuth, Martha Ross, Jan Jernstrom, and Don Jernstrom. Reports were given on pertinent topics: Citizenship Short Course by H.V. Nawlin; 4-H Congress by Tina Dukes; Teen Leadership Forum by Linda Dukes and Leadership Camp by Ronda Ferguson. County Commissioner Bill Hamilton presented county record book. Special awards were given to Valerie Trippet of Zephyrhills, achievement; David Herring and Kathy Nawlin, Outstanding 4-H’er of 1975-76; Ronda Ferguson and Scott Black, Essay Contest Winners.  Record book winners for the 1976  included: Valerie Trippett, Erik Dukes, Clark Mickler, Jesse Bryniarski, Don Jernstrom, Debbie St. Romaine, H.V. Nawlin, John Huggins, Rita Boyd, Elaine Cochrane, Martha Ross, Bob Hunt, Tina Dukes, Valerie McBride, Jody Cochrane, Bryan Lofley, Jane Futch, Nancy Nawlin, Greg Seigrist, Jan Jernstrom, Scott Black, Marilyn Sumner, Jimmie Huggins, Kathy Nawlin, Ronda Ferguson, David Herring, Joan Sumner, Kathy Norton and Greg Partridge.

1978: Earning the right to compete in the Florida’s 4-H Congress State Finals events July 24-28, 1978 at the University of Florida at Gainesville were four Zephyrhills students: June Neumann, horticulture; Jodi Nutt and Laura Mester for a team demonstration in agriculture; Don Jernstrom in veterinarian science and Ronda Ferguson in public speaking.

1980: Susan Steuart McGee, class of 1980 said, I remember really enjoying 4-H meetings and one thing that I vividly recall was doing a demonstration on compiling a sewing basket with fellow 4-H’er, Ronda Ferguson. We won first place!

1993: Robin Counsell started Zephyrhills 4-H Club and met regularly at Woodland Elementary. A wonderful community activist, Robin planned monthly activities along with her cousin, Tommy Martin.  Livestock projects and workshops were regular events.  Robin was always adamant that the club participate annually in the Coastal Clean-Up project. Andrea Counsell, Jean Morel, Andrew Counsell, Mamie Wise, Jeremy Morel and others showed pigs and steers each year. When this club was phased out, Mamie went on to join Leaders of Tomorrow 4-H Club lead by Francine Hancock. Pasco County lead the state when Wise became State 4-H President and Tye Reedy became Vice President in 2001. Mamie and Kristin Benedini competed at state public speaking competitions as well.

Current officers in 2009 of Zephyrhills 4-H: President:  Jeffrey Mitchell, Vice-President:  Evan Freeman, Secretary:  Summer Belasic, Treasurer:  Serena Tackett, Reporter:  Bradley Boydston, and Cloverbud:  Mallory Crandell. Photo from Christie Combs Mitchell.

Current officers in 2009 of Zephyrhills 4-H: President: Jeffrey Mitchell, Vice-President: Evan Freeman, Secretary: Summer Belasic, Treasurer: Serena Tackett, Reporter: Bradley Boydston, and Cloverbud: Mallory Crandell. Photo from Christie Combs Mitchell.

2009: Christie Combs Mitchell, class of 1992 and current 4-H leader, related, As my son, Jeffrey, began to grow up, agriculture became a passion for him. This undoubtedly stemmed from his great family role models—dad, Scott Mitchell, Grandpa Charles Combs, Uncle Chuck Combs, Uncle John Combs and his cousin, John Boy Combs).  As a family, we decided to start a local 4-H club here in Zephyrhills where we were born and raised—thus the Zephyrhills

4-H club was established in 2004.  Today the Zephyrhills 4-H Club is one of the most active clubs in Pasco! We have a great group of members, leaders and parents who all share in the love of our community, 4-H and agriculture. The 2009/2010 Zephyrhills 4-H Club Officers are students: Jeffrey Mitchell, President; Evan Freeman, Vice President; Summer Belasic, Secretary; Serena Tackett, Treasurer; Serena Tackett, Reporter and Bradley Boydston, Cloverbud.

As an author, please indulge me as I share that my daughter, Rachel Wise is also currently an active 4-H member of Boots & Bits 4-H Club along with ZHS Junior, Julie Baniszewski.  They focus on equestrian projects and do loads of community service in the area as well.

We have only captured a small contingent of 4-H history in the Zephyrhills community.  Please share with us your recollections of 4-H and its contributions to the community.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 15, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Official Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary Logo Unveiled!

By Gregg, 24 February, 2010, 1 Comment

At the Zephyrhills City Council meeting on January 11th, 2010, the official logo of Zephyrhills’ 100th Anniversary was unveiled:

Roberto Escobar of RS Media Solutions donated his time (and talent) to create the official Zephyrhills Centennial Logo

Roberto Escobar of RS Media Solutions donated his time (and talent) to create the official centennial logo.

Zephyrhills Centennial Street BannersZephyrhills Centennial Window Cling

You can see this logo on the new street banners up and down Fifth Avenue and on window stickers all around Zephyrhills.

If you’d like a window cling for your business or home, please contact the Main Street office at (813) 780-1414 today!

Escobar's lovely family

Escobar's lovely family


Commemorative Crystal Ornament

The collectible ornament below is also available from Main Street Zephyrhills for just $25. Supplies are extremely limited, so call today and get your ornament before they’re gone! Call (813) 780-1414 now!

Zephyrhills Centennial Ornament

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Memories of Scouting in Zephyrhills

By Gregg, 23 February, 2010, No Comment

Zephyrhills is unique in so many ways. As we approach the centennial, it is a time to reflect on all the distinctive components of our community. From the town’s earliest inception, founders had a concern for youth.  As early at 1919, just a few years after the town of Zephyrhills was launched in 1910, Mary Shepard donated 2 1/2 acres to the city for a children’s playground. Mary specified that no games of chance or alcoholic drinks be allowed, nor play on Sunday. The park stands yet today, some 90 years after this selfless donation. You may recognize it as you travel through Zephyrhills on Gall Boulevard (301) heading south.  A gaze to the west and you see a lush inviting interlude of trees and picnic areas. Shepard Park has been home to the scouting program in the area for most of its years of existence. Perhaps Ms. Shepard was aware of the burgeoning scouting programs when she donated the land. It is interesting that Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in 1910, the same year as the inauguration of our town. Its mission is to provide a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness. Girl Scouts, as all girl scouts know, began in 1912 in Georgia when Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled 18 girls for a local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually and wanted to offer community service opportunities.

Often somewhat of a right of passage, scouting has offered mentorship and enrichment to our community but more importantly guidance to young people. Not surprisingly, we found many accounts in news history about scouting over time. Our alumni also shared some great stories.

Celia Linkey Anderson of Zephyrhills directed the move of the city library’s books in 1962 from the little wooden building which had been the town’s library since its founding to the new library adjacent to City Hall. “We used Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts plus other children and moved all the books in two afternoons. It was a 4-block round trip and those children were marvelous,” she recalled. We wonder how many other service projects have been completed by scout groups?

Many exemplary citizens have been forged from scouting roots as well.  1978 seemed to produce a bumper crop! The News reported that the ZHS class of 1978 had six Eagle Scouts (relating that the average was one Eagle for every 300 scouts, making ZHS way above the national average). Eagle Scouts were Homer E. Brooks, III, Bruce W. Clark, Jeffrey A. DeWitt, Willie T. Quick, Jr., Michael Schaffner, and James K. Waddey.

There were Oaths/Promises, Mottos and Laws. Do you remember the scouting oath or promise?

The Cub Scout Promise

I, (name), promise to do my best

To do my duty to God and my country,

To help other people, and

To obey the Law of the Pack.

Boy Scout Oath

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Girl Scouts

Girl Scout Troops 267 and 429

The Brownie & Girl Scout Promise

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Alumni memories:

The scout huts consisted of a single WWII barracks from the airport.  The building was cut in half and moved to the scout park – half for the girl scouts and half for the boy scouts.  The boy scouts already had a building so the parents/scouts built a new section of building to join them.  This was sometime around 1955-57.  Mr. Lee Reed took over from Mr. Floyd Kingston. We were called the Eagle Troop since so many of us made the highest rank of Eagle. The ones I remember becoming Eagles are Sam Surratt, Larry Turner, Marvin Reed, Reggie Brown, Mark Higginson and possible Russel Kirk and Harry Thain beside myself. There were another five or six that I don’t remember. Mr. Reed took a small group to the National Boy Scout Camp in Philmore, somewhere out west…Dean Martinson ‘65

I remember Brownie meetings in the girl’s hut. My brother would attend Boy Scouts at the same time in the adjoining building…Suzie (Hill) Pippin ‘73

I was in the Suncoast Brownie Scout Trop #410, Girl Scout Troop #148 and Cadet Scout, which was the most fun in my childhood days.  I remember camping at the old scout hut on a fall night. We constructed a make-shift tent out of chairs & blankets and watched TV movies all night long….usually Shock Theatre! The hut had an upright piano that we all played chopsticks on and a pedal sewing machine that was fun to pedal at fast pace! We had some great Den Mothers – Mrs. Bobbie Lou (Sibley) Hormuth, Mrs. Delores Moore, Mrs. Vera Morton, Mrs. Musgrove, Mrs. June Travis and of course, my mom, Mrs. Vera (Cook) Morrill to name a few.  Doing the community deeds to earn badges was so rewarding.  I still have my sash with pins & badges after almost 45 years. I will always remember the scout motto Be Prepared and live it daily…Clereen (Morrill) Brunty ‘73

I remember going to the scout hut with my mother. I was proud that she was the Brownie leader…Jackie (Hood) Grant ‘77

The building was old and musty but a great place to meet…Sharon (Geiger) Reeves ‘80

I was there faithfully every week because my mother as well as Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Dobson helped get the girls scout group going!…Maria Spoto ‘80

Oh boy…I remember having a lot of fish fry’s (Nile perch) and hushpuppies to raise money for scouting.  I recall collecting aluminum cans by the loads to recycle.  We had a huge bin made with lumber and chicken wire to hold those cans which we deposited each week.  With all the liquid we removed from the cans, we went home smelling like we mopped the floor of a brewery with our uniforms…Anonymous

I so remember weekly meetings at the Girl Scout hut…Dawn Baker ‘85

I went to those huts each and every week for my scout meeting…Sarah Baggett ‘92

Another story is that of the Hilferding family. Arriving in Zephyrhills in the early 1980s, Robert Hilferding became Scoutmaster of Troop 72 where his eldest son Eric Hilferding became an Eagle Scout in 1987. At the same time, Terry Hilferding was a Girl Scout leader for her daughter Carin Hilferding’s Troop in the West Wind Neighborhood.

When Eric went off to college, his younger brother Gregg Hilferding became a Boy Scout with Troop 427 which later merged with Troop 425. Gregg’s mother, Terry Hilferding, was the Scoutmaster of that Troop when he became an Eagle Scout in 1997. Mrs. Hilferding was one of the area’s first female Scoutmasters was awarded the Scouter of the Year Award in 1995. During that time, Carin (Hilferding) Fletcher served as a Den Leader for Cub Scout Park 425.

Both Gregg and Eric traveled extensively with Scouts, visiting such places as Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, Australia, and Iceland. The spirit of Service to Scouting continues as Gregg Hilferding is now the Scoutmaster of Troop 72, which still meets at Shepard Park on Monday nights as it did in the 1980s when his father was the Scoutmaster.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 8, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Freezette, Biff Burger, and the 1950s

By Gregg, 22 February, 2010, 10 Comments

With an official 100 year birthday right around the corner, there is so much to celebrate in Zephyrhills! One of our goals in Countdown is to capture a few glimpses of unique components of our town’s culture! With no disregard for the rich economic and political annals of olden times, we find that accounts of everyday happenings sometimes capture the spirit of the times. Many of the ZHS alumni who shared stories from their high school experiences, conveyed anecdotes from particularly the 1950’s through 1970’s. They mentioned the Freezette or the Biff Burger. Have you noticed that memories may be connected with the taste palate?  Does the thought of a broiled burger smothered with special sauce, a curled biff dog, and an orange fountain transport you back to a more carefree era? Well, read on!

In Zephyrhills, the Freez-Ette was located at 5841 Gall Boulevard where Mari’s Donut shop is now located.  The owners of the Freezette were Mabel & Louis Loysch. Their children are graduates of Zephyrhills High School. Their son, Louie Loysch, is a member of the Class of 1954 and currently works for the City of Zephyrhills. Their daughter, Linda (Loysch) Trottier of Plant City, is a graduate from the Class of 1963. Does anyone have any pictures of the Freezette they would like to share?

The Biff Burger was located at 5963 Gall Blvd. where ABC Pizza is now located. These restaurants were the forerunners of the fast food restaurants that occupy Zephyrhills today. After a football game, a trip to Biff Burger was in store.

Biff Burger

Biff Burger

Biff stood for “Best in Fast Food” and was a well-known national drive-in franchise initiated in Clearwater in 1956. They specialized in a unique char-broiled taste derived from a “roto-broiled” process. The original restaurants were portable metal facilities that featured ‘walk-up’ or ‘drive-in’ service while table seating was provided outdoors. One St. Petersburg location is the last one in operation. The sauce:

For your convenience, this recipe has been scaled down from that which was made in large quantities in 5 gallon buckets at the drive-ins.

1 large can Ketchup   (#10 Can, 115 oz)

2/3 to 1 cup Mustard

1 cup Sweet Pickle Relish

1/6 cup or 1 1/3 ounces Salt

Pinch Ground Ginger

2 tsp. Liquid Smoke

Biff Burger and Freez-Ette Memories from ZHS Alumni

The Biff burgers were different.  They were grilled and had a special sauce. Freezette was the only drive-in that existed in Zephyrhills; we went their after movies and baseball games…Phyllis (Geiger) Locke-Debien ‘54

Fantastic shakes and delicious burgers at Biff. All the older teens, the cool ones, were at Freez-Ette.I loved to go there after band events and games. They had the best food and I’ve never tasted a burger as good since then…Suzie (Hill) Pippin ‘73

Biff Burger: I loved those burgers with the special sauce.  Also I believe they originated tater tots. The chocolate milkshakes were the best. I also remember going to the Freezette after Band Practice on Thursday nights with a boy.  It was cool eating outside in your car with your window holding the tray of delicious burgers, fries and shakes…Clereen (Morrill) Brunty ‘73

The only place to get a burger, and they had the individual juke boxes at every table.  Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison is the one song that comes to mind!…Melody (Wheeler) Williford ‘78

The Tater Tots were great!…Sharon (Geiger) Reeves ‘80

This was the only place to go after a game in town. If you wanted to go to one of the other fast food restaurants, say Mc____, the nearest was Plant City …Laura (Heller) Woodham ‘83

Brant Blessing and Mia Bialik

Brant Blessings and Mia Bialik

My sister, Carolyn Baker, worked there for several years.  I remember walking to Biff Burger after elementary school …Dawn Baker ‘85

The Freez-Ette was a great place to sit and watch others drive ‘round & round’ while enjoying a coke…Ann Brooke (Smith) Neukom ‘58

The Freez-Ette was the place we would cruise through to see if anyone wanted to drag race on Fort King or Highway #39 toward Plant City.  I guess I shouldn’t say this, but it was the place everyone went who wanted to drag race…Benny Smith ‘59

Freez-Ette was a very cool place to hang out. It is a shame that teens today don’t have something like it…Lynn (Nichols) Timmons ‘60

Everyone went to the Freezette.  It was so neat to pull up in your car and have the car hop bring your food to you on a tray.  But what I remember the most about the Freezette is going there on break from our Senior car wash.  The car wash was being held at the Methodist Church parking lot and it was our turn to go get something to eat.  So, of course, we went to the Freezette.  I drove my Mom’s car and Howard went with me.  I don’t remember a thing that we ate or what we talked about.  But during our conversation Howard told me that some day he was going to marry me.  I was a bit shocked to hear that statement considering that we weren’t even dating.  Can’t remember just when we did start dating but we were married on December 9, 1972, six months after graduation! He obviously knew what he was talking about…Carol (McLeod) & Howard Reeves ‘72

Freez-Ette had the  best cole slaw; well worth the drive…Diane (Clements) Vilas ‘65

Neon lights… Rose (Potwin) McCarter ‘78

Paper drinking straws…Sharon (Geiger) Reeves ‘80

Are you kidding?  Who could forget the BBQ squish burgers and tater tots?  I had to track down one of the remaining BB in St. Petersburg and take my daughter and a friend out for lunch to enjoy the experience…Anonymous

So why reminisce about these culinary establishments?  Well, perhaps they represent an era of“Happy Days,” when the rock and roll generation began to come of age at ZHS. Similar to the popular television sitcom which featured this decade, Happy Days, there was a real sense of optimism.

In regard to cheerfulness, the motto of the class of 1950 was “Not At The Top—But Climbing” and 1956-“As Tomorrow Dawns.”  The school annual, Zephilsco, instituted the annual ritual of crowning the king and queen of the yearbook in a renowned surprise ceremony.  Examples of the yearbook royalty were: 1958—Felton Howard and Margaret Nelson; 1957—LeNore Lincoln and Paul Canady; 1956—Sarah Peck and Lamar Massey. The class of 1950 was excited to resurrect the annual ZHS alumni reunion as an opportunity for ZHS alumni and friends to get-together and reminisce about their experiences.

The school safety patrol was born and played an important role throughout the decade as a service club. Annual ceremonies in which the safety patrol members received their AAA patrol badges and handbooks were significant.  For example, in 1955–“James Jarrett, Jr., as captain headed the 26-member ZHS Safety Patrol in receiving obligations of office in the school auditorium.  Sam A. Bennett representing the Tampa Motor Club was in charge of the impressive installation ceremony.”

Other significant institutions during this decade include the PTA. In 1955, the PTA put out a decree to the area parents to attend the regular meetings. They presented monthly sessions and entertainment. Jean Murphy, a well-known community member/teacher often sang solos for the events. In 1954, the PTA hosted a special tea for the faculty and announced a membership goal of 500 parents for the year.  The curriculum innovations were in great part, parent-driven.

Also significant as an institution was the Future Farmers Association (FFA) for boys.  Nathan Geiger was an officer for several years, and not only did ZHS do quite well in the county tractor driving competitions, they also won many awards in the guitar-picking, band competitions for FFA boys as well.

The Zephyrhills News instituted a weekly student-written column entitled “School Daze,” and a budding journalism student reported on weekly events at the high school and often editorialized on happenings.  Some were Shirley Dixon in 1954 and Margie Braden in 1958. We are so delighted that this institution was re-established in 2009 by Danny Linville.

Sports continued to thrive. The ZHS baseball park was dedicated in 1957.  In 1952, ZHS moved into first place in the West Coast Conference in baseball. The quarterback club that was formed in 1941, boasted a membership of 100 in 1956 and worked on funding bleachers and lighting for Krusen Field which had been dedicated a few years earlier.  They also began the institution of taking the football players on an annual trip to see the University of Florida play a football game in Gainesville—quite a treat for the boys!

Krusen Field

Krusen Field

Students from this decade report that it snowed in Zephyrhills in 1957 and students were permitted to frolic in the schoolyard in the newly fallen and unusual snow of that winter.

Graduations during the decade were almost exclusively held at the Home Theater, that is the movie theater on Fifth Avenue in downtown Zephyrhills. The 1959 graduation at the end of the decade ended the tradition by being hosted at the brand new Zephyrhills Municipal Auditorium.  For example in 1958 the News reported that “following commencement exercises at the Home Theater last evening, Mrs. Robert Campbell, as general chairman of the party, plans for a dance at the American Legion Hall, immediately following graduation, a midnight show at the Home Theater, a swim party in the municipal pool and breakfast at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall.” It was most definitely happy days for ZHS.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 1, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: The naming of the streets

By Gregg, 18 February, 2010, No Comment

We thoroughly enjoy writing the Countdown column. As each week’s deadline approaches, we confer about a topic.  Believe it or not, we have so much to say! Well, knowing both of us, we’re sure you already know that! Truly, we are grateful for the many suggestions for interviews and topics…please keep them coming.   Our goal is to provide an array of historical information. With that said, we have been toying with a column about local street names for awhile. Through the alumni website, Clereen has surveyed and generated an initial list.

This week we offer an introduction to street names and their origins in Zephyrhills. In the earliest days of town-development, streets tended to be named for landmarks: churches, hills, lakes and other topographical features. As the identity developed and in response to military feats/heroism, names of brave men/women and leaders were popular names.  Later city officials began numbering the streets and a subsequent trend was the use of nature in street naming; hence streets with the names of trees and flowers.  ‘Street’ was displaced with ‘avenue because of new connecting roads from population expansion. Boulevard, park and terrace were reflective of architecture trends as well. After World War I, with automobiles on the scene, ‘drive’ was used in place of street as well. With the implementation of a system for emergency services (911), Pasco County eliminated duplicate road names/addresses in the county.

Bunt and Mary Lou Massey with their dog Jack - several folks read the article last week and wanted to see what the Massey's looked like today.

Bunt and Mary Lou Massey with their dog Jack - several folks read the article last week and wanted to see what the Massey's looked like today.

You ask ‘what is your point?’ Well, as you journey about our fine town and community, you may wonder about the various street names. For our student readers (since we are addressing school history), you may wonder who the person behind the name might be? Rosemary Trottman and other historians including the compilers of the recent A to Z book have given us some insights. A visit to the Depot Museum will answer some of your questions as well.

Consider  a few  Zephyrhills street names?

ALLEN ROAD

ALSTON AVENUE

BAILEY HILL ROAD

BOHANNON ROAD

BOYETTE ROAD

CASS ROAD

CHANCEY ROAD

CHARLES AVENUE

CHENKIN ROAD

COATS ROAD

DAUGHTERY ROAD

DEAN DAIRY ROAD

EILAND BOULEVARD

FORBES ROAD

GALL BOULEVARD (HWY. 301)

GEIGER ROAD

HILL DRIVE

JENDRAL AVENUE

JUDEE DRIVE

KIRKLAND DRIVE

KRUSEN FIELD ROAD

LANE ROAD

LANI DRIVE

LANIER ROAD

MASSEY ROAD

MORRIS BRIDGE ROAD

MURPHY ROAD

OTIS ALLEN ROAD

PATE ROAD

PAUL BUCHMAN HWY. (HWY. 39)

RYALS ROAD

SEABERG ROAD

SHAW DRIVE

SIMONS ROAD

STEBBINS AVENUE

TUCKER ROAD

URBAN ROAD

WILSON DRIVE

WIRE ROAD

We offer just a few samples for you of the origin of a sampling of our Zephyrhills street names. We are open for additions, corrections or further insights into our conclusions. We found that the names sometimes come from obvious connections and can also be the product of legend or perhaps in other cases, are not known.

Wire Road Legend has it that Wire Road got its name in early Abbott because of the telegraph lines (which were quite tall) that extended a great length of the path.

Gall Boulevard was undoubtedly named for Walter Gall.  Walter Gall bought 30,000 acres for $3.00 per acre and lumbered and then resold it (area including what is now Saddlebrook.) Gall was also instrumental in the building of Highway 301 in 1936 as a major thoroughfare right through town from his position on the State Road Department. In addition he was personnel director for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression and recruited thousands of men back to work.

Dean Dairy Road was named for ‘Dean’s Lakeside Dairy.’ Carolyn Dean of the family told us that the dairy encompassed part of what is now Betmar, Oaks Royal and Sunnyside Mobile Home Parks. ‘Lake’ was in the original road name because there were three lakes which filtered into Zephyr Lake (which have since been covered over). Carolyn shared that a wooden bridge on Dean Dairy Lake Road offered the greatest fishing around. She still reminisces about getting a dipper of the fresh milk from the dairy milk tank—“the best, coldest, sweetest milk ever!”

Lane Road was named for Clarence Lane.  Last week in our interview with Bunt Massey, he shared that he may have been known to partake from one of the infamous stills in that general area.

Coats Road was named for Ernie and Della Coats

Seaberg Road was given its moniker from Roy Seaberg, a prominent grove owner.

Could Chancey Road have its origins from the Chauncey family? Does anyone know? Chancey family members were early settlers to the area and often transported visitors by oxen cart to view the 5-acre tracts of land plotted out by the Colony Company. In 1910, the five acre plots sold for $50 which included a lot in town and stock in the company. The Chancey brothers, John, Abe, Jeff and Luke, were known for their well-trained oxen teams that performed many other tasks in the early town including supplying telephone poles for the growing Tampa Electric Company and delivering cordwood to the racks of the railroad depot for the locomotives.

Chancey family - early days in a wagon pulled by oxen

Chancey family - early days in a wagon pulled by oxen

Geiger Road undoubtedly comes from the Geiger family. Rosemary Trottman states in her book that John Geiger was the founder of the Geiger family in Zephyrhills. The inaugural city postmaster was James Geiger, known around town as ‘Uncle Jim’ who was also an owner of a general store and city councilman. Mr. and Mrs. Abram Elias Geiger homesteaded 160 acres west of Zephyrhills. Geiger Cemetery was on part of what was this original Geiger property.

Chenkins Road got its name from Herman and Rose Chenkins who established Chenkins Packing  for dried fruits (later known as Natural Foods Company, Inc.) in 1924 and operated it until 1966 in Zephyrhills.

Eiland Boulevard is named for William Eiland who was the police chief in Zephyrhills from 1961-1996.

Stebbins Avenue is named for a Zephyrhills Colony Land company realtor, A.E Stebbins whose son, Jesse Stebbins was also known as the first pastor of the colony’s first church, Bible Gospel Chapel, built in 1910 and the oldest church building constructed of hand-crafted block.

Whew, the list goes on and on! We invite you to tell us the stories about the creation of the various names.  We promise to give you periodic updates on the alumni website and the Countdown column about our findings. We envision that from the various origins and stories (perhaps even folklore), we will learn more about our own history which can be commemorated on the 100th anniversary…coming soon!

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on September 24, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Square Dancing at ZHS

By Gregg, 17 February, 2010, 10 Comments
2955555580_6478c6b283_o

photo credit: pchgorman

Founder’s Day is just around the corner. There’s a lot planned to celebrate Zephyrhills’ centennial, but what’s going on at Zephyrhills High School? A good old fashion Barn Dance, that’s what!

The Old-Fashion Barn Dance will be held on Friday, March 12 in the ZHS Activity Center. The dance is a fundraiser for the ZHS Chorus Program. The Chorus and Band will be performing at the Music Festival in Washington, D.C. in early April of this year. All proceeds from the Barn Dance will help the students raise money for the trip.

“The dance will help them do that, but it will also show folks how our Zephyrhills pioneers entertained themselves during the early years of the town,” said ZHS Chorus director and music teacher Louise Gore.

If you’ve never been to a barn dance before or even don’t even know what one is, you are in for a real treat! According to Louise, the dance will be run like the Tampa Friends of Old Time Dance run their events. There will actually be a caller teaching and calling the dances.

The dances, mostly line and circle dances, are some that were brought over from England, Ireland, Scotland, and France. Some of the dancers are called mixers because there are partner changes throughout. You get to meet everyone who came to dance that way!

“Think the Virginia Reel,” Louise said. “The dances are not that difficult, which makes them great for the whole family: everyone from elementary-school age to grandparents can do them!”

The event will start around 6:00PM and run until 10:00PM. Cookies and old fashioned lemonade will be available in the lobby during the dance. Entrance is only $5, and the event is open to the public.

The dance is almost like a warm-up for Founder’s Day and, like Louise said, will provide people with a different “date night” than they have seen in at least 60 years!!