PIECES OF THE PAST: A Great Read

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette

Summertime is always a good time for reading. I recently received a new book titled “Winter Garden Change Makers,” written by my friend, Jerry Chicone, Jr. He dedicated the book to the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation to “encourage more people to step forward to make positive changes for their hometown.”

The book is a tribute to the people who made his hometown of Winter Garden their home, and its welfare and success their priority, thus creating a positive legacy for other generations to enjoy. Of the more than 20 families highlighted in the book, only a few were primarily in citrus, which reminded me of my hometown of Winter Haven.

Although the history of both towns ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of the citrus industry, it truly took a village to create a community, and there were — and still are — many small towns throughout Florida that were impacted by people who made positive changes for the growth and success of not only their business, but for the town in which they lived. Yes, there were industry leaders, but there were also teachers, doctors, community leaders, visionaries, writers and more — people who, quite simply, cared.

Several passages in Chicone’s introduction stood out to me as a history buff, including this one: “History gives us a roadmap to the future, by allowing us to see mistakes of the past, the ways that people overcame hardships, sacrificed for others and won victories. Every day we live is a page in the history books of tomorrow.”

He goes on to note that the people in his book had one thing in common, in that “they did not start out with much and most never became truly wealthy. Winter Garden never had a Rockefeller. It was built by small-time citrus growers, fruit pickers, entrepreneurs, carpenters, teachers, truck drivers, telephone operators who knew your mama and how to find them if they did not answer the phone.”

The book is a brief snapshot of history and the people who cared enough to “be the change” in their community so their families could reap the benefits of those endeavors. It’s a great read of a slower time or, as the author says: “A time when Winter Garden men, black and white, tipped their hats to ladies and opened doors for the elderly. A time when women, black and white, raised their children to say yes ma’am and no ma’am, and to treat others as you would like to be treated.”

The book is available through the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, www.wghf.org, or by calling (407) 656-3244.

Share Your Stories

If you have any photos, memorabilia or stories you’d like to share or donate to the Citrus Archives, please contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at BBurne1003@aol.com or (561) 351-4314. Visit www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com to see photos, postcards, citrus labels and videos.florida citrus

Brenda Eubanks Burnette is executive director of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. Pieces of the Past is presented in partnership with Florida Southern College’s McKay Archives Center in Lakeland.

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