Posts by Gregg

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Celebrities!

By , 14 December, 2009, No Comment

In an age of instant stardom through phenomenon’s such as American Idol and pop star infatuations  with the likes of Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift and others, adults might be tempted to believe that the current generation is vastly unique from those of previous eras.  Granted in an age of technological innovation when texting, iPods, Wii’s, cell phones and PDA’s are necessary tween/teen paraphernalia, the tools may have been tweaked a bit but it appears that every generation has had its share of celebrities.

In researching the archives of history for Zephyrhills schools (primarily ZHS), Clereen and I discovered today’s era is not particularly exceptional in its admiration of celebrities. The influence of various popular personalities is seen throughout this community’s school history.  The school’s annual, the Zephilsco, reflects the influence of various acclaimed celebs. We discovered in consulting with several folks, that a particularly distinctive feature of the annual was the selection by letter/US Mail of a annual king and queen by a well-known celebrity. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, key celebrities (usually television or movie stars) worked with the annual yearbook editor and vendor to select the coveted ZHS Yearbook King and Queen. They chose the winners from among photographs of senior nominees. In checking with neighboring communities, we found that this was an unusual practice and may have been exclusive to Zephyrhills.  We are uncertain as to who may have come up with this innovative idea. Does anyone know?

Consider that the following students (many of whom you will recognize) were selected the yearbook king and queen by the likes of John Wayne, Red Skelton or Johnny Carson:

1961 (Editor: Sandra Pricher): Garry Moore from the Garry Moore Television Show chose Queen-Mary Alice Gill & King-Richard Miles,
1962  (Editor: Barbara Russ):  Henry Morgan from I’ve Got A Secret Fame chose Delores Braxton & Clyde Bracknell,
1964 (Editor: Howard Kersey):  Comedian Red Skelton chose Cletia Weaver & John Wintersteen,
1965 (Editor: Kaye Henry):  Jean Morris from the WFLA TV station’s then popular Hi-Time chose Sandy Kirkland & Reggie Brown,
1966 (Editor: Laurel Reitz): Richard Chamberlain, TV’s Doctor Kildare selected Myra Bialik & Bill Lyons,
1967 (Editor: Marcia Deming): Johnny Carson of the Tonight Show chose Joan Thompson & Jim Jefferson,
1968 (Editor: Laura Eloise Hall):  Steve Spurrier (1967 Heisman Trophy Winner) from UF chose Michele Burke & Riki McGinnis,
1969 (Editors: Donna Merrill & Patty Hayden): Comedian Jackie Gleason chose Donna Merrill & Johnny Braxton,
1970 (Editor: Julie Phipps):  Actor, John Wayne chose Pat Artabasy & Cliff Brown,
1971 (Editor: Lynda Stewart): Miss Florida, Linda Donovan chose Suzanne Arnot & Larry McDonald,
1972 (Editor: Dee Dee Toole): Mickey Mouse of the newly opened Magic Kingdom chose Martha Padgett & Benji Cook,
1973 (Editor: Lynne Strickland & Phyllis Jarrett): Rock Group, Chicago chose Essalene Buckins & Jay Linville.

It must have been incredibly thrilling for the annual (yearbook) editor to receive a letter from an actor of the stature of John Wayne. Notice that the famous person reflects the time period as well.

Humility puts all of us in our place however and as one of the authors of this piece, I must confess that when I was preparing the jpegs (that’s the photo) insert for the article, a young man of about 17 was assisting me at a Tampa Office supply store.  He was perusing the letters from Richard Chamberlain, Jackie Gleason, etc., and he said to me, “Were these famous people?”  I then explained to him the significance of the various personalities.  I suspect he was thinking, “What is she talking about?” And I realized it is all relative to the age.

All of us of each generation however, share an interest in movie stars, pop idols or famous persons! Who was yours?

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 January 22, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills Historical Photos: Week 3

By , 11 December, 2009, 1 Comment

Each week you can get a glimpse into Zephyrhills history through photographs provided by Madonna Jervis Wise. Click any image for a larger view!

Citizens' Band, 1914Crystal Springs Roller RinkClass of 1935Zephyr Picnic, 1914 at Zephyr ParkZephyrhills Grade SchoolSkateboarders

Images of America: Zephyrhills Book Cover

Photos courtesy Madonna Jervis Wise
Author of Images of America: Zephyrhills
Scheduled to publish Spring 2010!

All rights reserved. Photo © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: The Precious 1926 Building

By , 9 December, 2009, No Comment

The ZHS building (or campus) has been a pillar of pride and a theme of triumph and tragedy throughout ZHS history. The very first ZHS building was a badge of pride when in 1910 it was opened. At both the 1975 and 1977 Alumni banquets, former ZHS student, Simon Geiger, recalled with joy how he hauled the logs for the construction of the wood building in the early 1900s from Greer’s Mill with a team of oxen. The first ZHS building in 1910 was divided into two rooms. The building was sometimes maintained by the parents and they helped to clean the building.

Zephyrhills suffered several fires that devastated their school buildings. The first ZHS two story building located between 7th and 8th street was burned to the ground in 1926. A bond issue was passed and a new $50,000 building was opened at 10th Avenue and 10th Street in Zephyrhills. At the time, the local newspaper reported on August 27, 1926: “It is a very pleasing structure—practically fireproof.” Like the Titanic, whose builders boasted of being unsinkable, these words would prove to be somewhat prophetic for the community which suffered another loss during the difficult years of the Depression in 1935. The “new” brick building was  also  severely damaged by fire. The third ZHS building was reconstructed with the help of President Roosevelt’s WPA project and opened once again in 1937 with great pride at 10th Avenue and 10th Street.

Tales of quirky ZHS building attachments and nuances fill the history pages. A fish pond in front of the school building was maintained by principals in the 1930’s and 1940’s and was a signature piece for the school. Often the principals lived on the school campus similar to a parsonage on church grounds. Ritual surrounds the many building additions: 1967-the first gymnasium, after so many years of playing basketball outdoors; the annex building in 1947, the new campus on the Hercules property on 12th street in 1975; the football stadium in 1979 and the ZHS Activity Center in 1980.

I think one feels the sense of “home” in regard to the pride of the school building when they recall the visit to the 1926 building at 10th Avenue (what is now Raymond B. Stewart Middle School) upon its final open-house in 2005 just before it was demolished. Former students visiting the building recalled school and developmental milestones—their first kiss, a dreaded test, a school fight, a pep rally and so much more. 1955 Alum, Craig Miller, shared a folksy story in which he was asked by the school principal, Mr. McPherson, to rid the school of a skunk in exchange for some vacation from school; the story illustrates how the school was seen as an extension of home and stakeholders had somewhat of a collective sense of ownership for the school building.

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 January 15, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: New Years

By , 8 December, 2009, 1 Comment

Zephyrhills is celebrating the centennial of the schools in the city of Zephyrhills in 2010. At the end of the 1909-10 school term, the one room school houses in the area closed (Independence School, Childers School and Union School) and in September of 1910, a state-of-the-art school building was opened at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Sixth Street in Zephyrhills which housed all grades.

As a commemoration of this school which opened with 61 students, a committee composed of community members, alumni and current staff members are organizing an  event to celebrate the many years of wonderful education in the community.  Our goal is to publish a weekly ‘tidbit’ or remembrance about the school’s history which often reflects the community.  We invite you to share stories, photos and information with us as you read the weekly articles.  You may reach us at: Madonna Wise (mwise {at} hughes(.)net) or 813 782 0246 or Clereen Brunty at: (clereen {at} tampabay.rr(.)com) or (813) 782-8763.

In honor of this festive time of the year when we celebrate the beginning of a new year, we reviewed the archives of Zephyrhills School history that mentioned the celebration of a “New Year” and came up with some fun remembrances.  We found New Year’s events with educational focuses mentioned in five articles in the Zephyrhills News (Colonist) archives.  See if any of these jog your memory?

JANUARY 1, 1920: The Zephyrhills Colonist (the Zephyrhills News’s previous name) reported an exciting New Year’s Day basketball game in 1920.  “Our local basketball team has secured a game with the St. Petersburg boys for New Years Day, to be played here.  This is expected to be one of the best and fastest games of the season as both sides are lining up for a hard fight and everyone is invited to come out and see some snappy playing.”

JANUARY 1, 1931: “The graduating classes of ZHS for the years 1928, 1929 and 1930 with a few invited guests enjoyed a social at Sunset Beach on Lake Pasadena the evening of January 1st.  The merry-makers began to gather at 8 o’clock and continued to arrive until 9. Uncle Frank Tousey, the genial proprietor and manager of Sunset Beach was at the door to welcome each arrival with his smiles and best wishes for the New Year.

Music for the occasion was furnished by the radio and Uncle Frank’s famous one-man band. Pool-golf claimed the attending of a few while others played bridge and many were dancing.

Uncle Frank started the game by calling Paul Jones which led to many others. Refreshments of sandwiches—all kinds—cake and hot chocolate were served.

Those present of the different classes were: 1930 class—Sadie Turner, Althia Guy, Cecil McGavern, Charlie Slater, Owen Gall and Fred Gill; 1929 class—Celia Linkey, Angie LeHeup, John Pennington, John Loomis, Robert Sibley, and Arthur Austin; 1928 class—Edith Plank, Tillie Reutimann, Lucile McGavern, Robert Campbell, James Campbell, Nelson Nabor, Clarence Darby and Bob Gill.  Guests were: Mrs. Fred Gill, Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Craig, Miss Esther Plank, A.N. Black of New Port Richey and Sam McGavern.

(Note that the modern-day alumni group was born out of the class of 1950.   Jaynell LeHeup was responsible for the modern-day Alumni movement which continues to thrive.)

JANUARY 1, 1972: The New Year’s holiday was the occasion for a reunion of 16 members of the ZHS class of 1958, who were guests of the Sunland Restaurant, New Year’s Day.  A portable TV set was provided by Dale’s Firestone Center in order that bowl games could be viewed. The 15-year picnic reunion in the summer of 1973 has been tentatively planned. Pictures in the photo were: Margaret Nelson Cherry, Darlene Wilson Bamberger, Mildred Smith Carter, Clara Mae Adams Fowler, Barbara Peeples, Ruthie King Kennedy,  and Gloria Lewis Jones.  Also attending were Brantley Smith, Murray Thomas, Marion Nesbitt, Ralph Massey, Donnie Nelson and Larry Bassell.  Class Sponsor John Clements, Harold Hunt, Roger Sibley, Jr., Charles Bloom, Bamberger, and Kennedy arranged the reunion.

JANUARY 1, 1931: Mrs. Vogel entertained the seventh and eighth grades and their teacher, Mrs. Guy, to a New Year’s picnic for her daughter, Frances, at her home north of the city. Games, basketball, football and contests were greatly enjoyed by the following: Alberta Corbin, Isabelle Austin, Rita Spellman, Helen Grant, Ruth McCoy, Margarite Reutimann, Eva West, Dorothy Boyer, Ruth Higginson, Delma Harrell, Pearl Baldwin, Elma Ryals, Mary Spellman, Sarah Parsons, Anlee Cripe, Laura Rogers, Audrey Fulgham of Tampa and Frances Vogel as well as Ernest Linkey, Horace Williford, Emil Reutimann, Donald Plank, Glenn McDowell, James Mott, Athel Thomas, Robert Seaberg, Clifford Wilson, Reggie Clark, Robert Cook, Jack Parsons, Richard Gaskins and Louis Gall.  The hostess was assisted by Mrs. Claude Cook, Mrs. Ed Seaberg, Mrs. J.T. Fulgham and Miss Edith Parrish of Tampa.

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 January 8, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills Historical Photos: Week 2

By , 4 December, 2009, No Comment

Each week you can get a glimpse into Zephyrhills history through photographs provided by Madonna Jervis Wise. Click any image for a larger view!

Horse Drawn CarriageZephyr LakeLive Oaks & MossSide View of Jeffries houseParadeOld Postcard

Images of America: Zephyrhills Book Cover

Photos courtesy Madonna Jervis Wise
Author of Images of America: Zephyrhills
Scheduled to publish Spring 2010!

All rights reserved. Photo © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills Historical Photos: Week 1

By , 25 November, 2009, No Comment

Each week you can get a glimpse into Zephyrhills history through photographs provided by Madonna Jervis Wise. Click any image for a larger view!

First Reutimann Garage Abbott Station Hotel Row Crystal Springs October 5, 1911 Map of Zephyrhills New England Hotel

Images of America: Zephyrhills Book Cover

Photos courtesy Madonna Jervis Wise
Author of Images of America: Zephyrhills
Scheduled to publish Spring 2010!

All rights reserved. Photo © Madonna Jervis Wise

Discover 100 Years of Zephyrhills History

By , 23 November, 2009, 1 Comment

Discover 100 Years of Zephyrhills History

Ever heard about a place called Abbott Station? Maybe you’ve seen Captain Jeffrey’s house but didn’t know who that was? Did you know Zephyrhills used to have large archway entrances welcoming people to the city?

With the 100th Anniversary of Zephyrhills right around the corner, now’s the time to learn everything about our great town!


History of Pasco County, Florida at


With articles covering every city in Pasco County as well as a wealth of images and topic specific pages, is an excellent site to visit to learn more about Zephyrhills and surrounding areas. Check out these specific pages for detailed information:


History of Zephyrhills, 1821-1921 Book CoverThe History of Zephyrhills, 1821-1921

By Rosemary W. Trottman, published in 1978 by Vantage Press ISBN 0-533-02882-5

The History of Zephyrhills, 1821-1921 on Google Books

This enlightening history of Zephyrhills, Florida, traces the evolution of the community from 1821 to 1921. During that century-long period Zephyrhills progressed from Spanish-Indian ownership to an autonomous municipality known alternately as “The Friendly City” and “The Pure Water City.”

Author, Rosemary Wallace Trottman is a scrupulous researcher with an unfailing eye for the significant detail and the novelist’s affinity for the “human touch.” While her history is replete with important events and dates, and considers the effects of the railroad and the automobile on the community, the citizenry of Zephyrhills and their changing life-styles throughout the years are also dealt with in depth. Particularly interesting is her account of the colonial years, in which the day-to-day activities of the settlers–log-rolling, sugar-caning, etc. are described.

The authoritative and charming glimpse into a vanished past makes a wonderful gift to the pioneers of Zephyrhills-and to readers everywhere.

While out-of-print, you can still check for a copy at the Zephyrhills Library. (If you have a picture of the cover, please email it to me!) Thank you Madonna Wise for sending me an image of the book cover!

Tapestry-Zephyrhills: An Anthology of Its History Through Education


By Madonna Jervis Wise, published in 2008 by BookSurge Publishing ISBN 978-1419696404

Tapestry-Zephyrhills: An Anthology of Its History Through Education on Google Books

Tapestry-Zephyrhills, An Anthology of Its History Through Education,” is a collection of news coverage of formal education in Zephyrhills, Florida. The reader will see history through the eyes of ordinary students experiencing the regional and national historical events that shaped their lives, as well as the rites of passage of growing up in the ambiance of a small Florida town. Over the years, the town and its schools adjust to and reflect advances in technology, societal changes and dramatic growth. You will come to know the local families and laugh with them at their joys and feel the pain of tragic losses. You will experience the town’s pride in their local celebrities. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Zephyrhills High School, which served as a cultural compass and center for local events and issues, the book provides highlights and news summaries from every year. Decade summaries for 1910 to 2010 highlight changes and movements as well as their impact on the community. The book chronicles the community’s evolution and tells its history from the vantage point of education.

Zephyrhills from A to Z


Compiled and Edited by Vicki Elkins and Margaret Sappanen, published in 2008 by University of Tampa Press ISBN 978-1597320504

Zephyrhills from A to Z on Google Books

Zephyrhills has a rich history that is full of surprising facts and engaging anecdotes. The story of its people and what they have achieved is told here in a collection of articles arranged from A to Z, spanning more than a hundred years of dynamic change in the Sunshine State.

Read about the city’s earliest days in the late 1800s when it was known as Abbott; its settlement by Civil War veterans; the pioneer citizens who found happiness around idyllic Zephyr Lake; the successes and trials of the entrepreneurs who sought their fortunes in endeavors as diverse as manufacturing, the lumber industry, and roadside attractions. Follow the story from A to Z — from Abbott to Zephyrhills — and discover how a whistle-stop dot on the map grew into the charming City of Pure Water, whose name has become synonymous with the country’s best spring water.

The book is generously illustrated with nearly a hundred photographs and other images.

Images of America: Zephyrhills

Set to release in Spring 2010, follow the link for more details!

Discover more books about Zephyrhills at Google Books or Know of a book about the history of Zephyrhills not included above? Share it in the comments below!

In Person

Depot Museum

Zephyrhills Depot Museum

The Zephyrhills Depot Museum is housed in the restored 1927 Atlantic Coast Line Railroad depot. Opened in October 1998, the museum is governed by the City Council and is funded by city tax dollars and donations. The museum emphasizes the history of trains and Zephyrhills. Four exhibit rooms are being developed: the Abbott Station Room for City history; the Family Room for family history; the Zephyrhills Alumni Room for school memorabilia; and the Railroad Room to house artifacts from the original depot and railroad memorabilia. The freight room houses a gift shop, office area, reference room for Florida and train histories and a model train display. Admission is free.

Zephyrhills World War II Barracks Museum

The museum is temporarily closed because firefighters have been working out of it since a January 2008 storm.

Dade City Pioneer Museum

They have an enormous amount of Zephyrhills stuff in their history center and it is open to the public through the week.

Any other Zephyrhills museums or historical exhibits that I’ve missed? Share them in the comments below!

100 Ideas For The 100th Anniversary

By , 17 November, 2009, 6 Comments

Sparkler 100

Just got back from the latest committee meeting. There are *so* many things in the works for the celebration of Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary. And Main Street Zephyrhills isn’t the only group planning these events. There are dozens of groups coming together to make this an amazing and memorable event for the community.

Here’s just a few of the things “in the works”:

  • Vintage and modern aircraft flyover
  • 1910 costume contest
  • Drum-line competition
  • Parade which includes a float for every decade from 1910 to 2010
  • 5K & family run/walk
  • Sunday picnic at the park
  • Archaeological Dig
  • Antique photoshoot with period costumes
  • Period actors performing a variety show and street plays
  • A huge fireworks show over Zephyr Lake
  • Historical memorabilia and timelines of city history
  • Walking/trolley/hay ride tours of historical landmarks
  • Model T’s Car Club

And that’s just a sample! If you’re group is putting on an event in conjunction with the Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary, leave a comment below with the details.

Sound too exciting to just be a participant? We need more volunteers to help make all these plans a reality. Our next committee meeting is on December 9th, 2009 at 1 pm at the Thanks A Latté cafe in Downtown Zephyrhills. Show up early to grab some lunch! Let us know you’ll be coming and in what area(s) you’re interested in helping.

Welcome to the official Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary website!

By , 17 November, 2009, 3 Comments

We’re happy to have you here!

On this site you’ll find all the news about upcoming Centennial events and news from events you’ve missed.

Looking for more information about the history of Zephyrhills? You’ll find that here, too!