Old Days in Citrus Recalled

Ernie Neff Citrus, History

Dalton Yancey

Dalton Yancey, probably best known as the former chief executive officer of the Florida Sugar Cane League, recently recalled days working in his family citrus grove and for Florida Citrus Mutual.

“I grew up on a citrus family farm in Umatilla,” Yancey says. As a teenager, he recalls, “my dad put me on the business end of a hoe … For lunch, my dad would take some iced tea, and he’d take one little can of deviled ham, and one tomato and four slices of bread” with butter on them. He says his father would cut the deviled ham into four quarters, each less than a square inch, and spread a square onto a slice of bread. “You could actually see the butter through the ham,” he says. “And then he would slice the tomato so thin that you could read a newspaper through the tomato.” But, Yancey insists, “it was delicious.”

Years later, Yancey returned to work in citrus. “When I came back from Vietnam, the United States was in a recession at that time, and I wound up working as a field man for Florida Citrus Mutual,” he says. He worked the northern seven citrus counties in Florida in the 1970s. From there, he went to work for the Florida Sugar Cane League.

Yancy was one of more than 70 Mature Citrus Mentors who gathered in Tavares in mid-March for an annual meeting.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large