PIECES OF THE PAST: Orange Surprise

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette This past summer, I drove up to Asheville, North Carolina, and was able to visit Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned home in the nation. Officially opened on Christmas Eve of 1895, George Vanderbilt’s “country home” contains over 4 acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. As I browsed through the …

PIECES OF THE PAST: A Thanksgiving Mantra

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette Several years ago, I was at the 2017 Florida Ag Hall of Fame dinner for my friend, Bernie Lester, who was being inducted that year. He recounted such a wonderful story during his speech that I asked him to send it to me so I would have it for the Citrus Archives, and I’d like to …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Michael Leaves His Mark

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette In 1917, A.B. Michael consolidated his citrus groves in Wabasso, Florida, with the Deerfield Groves Company of Cocoa, becoming vice president and general manager. This eventually led to his involvement in the American Fruit Growers, Inc., becoming one of the original stockholders and directors, and handling all Florida operations. Noted for his commitment to quality, he …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Tiller of the Soil

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette I recently came across this poem in a 1930s book titled “Citrus Growing in Florida” by the Florida Department of Agriculture in a chapter on cover crops: “Would’st have abundant crops reward thy toilAnd fill thy barns, O tiller of the soil?Then ever keep in mind this maxim true,Feed well the land and ’twill in turn …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Advice From 1887

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette In researching the biographies for an upcoming book on the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame members, I came across a digitized book by Google online that was written in 1887. It’s titled “Florida Facts Both Bright and Blue: A Guide Book to Intending Settlers, Tourists, and Investors From a Northerner’s Standpoint; Plain Unvarnished Truth, Without ‘Taffy’; …

PIECES OF THE PAST: The ‘Plymouth Rock’ of Citrus

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

I recently acquired a visitor’s guide for Plymouth Citrus Products Cooperative. The guide invited visitors to tour the cooperative’s facilities located in where else but Plymouth, Florida, which is between Orlando and Leesburg.  According to the guide, the cooperative provided “quality canned and frozen citrus products, citrus pulp and molasses.” Visitors were encouraged to take a guided tour that showcased …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Orange Guards

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette We received a request for information several months ago from researcher/historian Jono Miller regarding an old production practice of leaving cabbage palms in citrus groves as “orange guards.” The trees helped protect groves from freezing due to the creation of a canopy to keep the heat from the land rising during cold weather. In his new …

PIECES OF THE PAST: A Quatrain to Frame

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette In the July 15, 1933 issue of the Florida Clearing House News, an article by the Committee of Fifty titled “To Fit Demand to Production – ADVERTISE” caught my eye. Advertising has always been the tennis ball in the citrus industry’s battle over how much is enough and whether generic advertising really helps. The Committee of …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Marching On

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette March usually signals the annual Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon, honoring those individuals who have made significant contributions to the state’s citrus industry. Like so many other things, COVID-19 changed that. This year, the celebration has been postponed to Friday, Nov. 5. Although it will still be at Florida Southern College, it will be …

PIECES OF THE PAST: February Was Eat More Citrus Month

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette February has always been a big month for the Florida citrus industry — so much so that the Florida Citrus Exposition was created in 1923 to help promote the annual crop. It took place every February and incorporated numerous competitions and events over 11 days. In 1954, the exposition included an opening-day parade; Canners and Allied …

Pieces of the Past: Waverly’s Window

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette I grew up in Winter Haven and have driven by Waverly Growers Cooperative countless times when traveling around Polk County. But I never knew that at one time there was a formal garden and picnic grounds adjacent to the Waverly Welcome House.  Founded in 1914 by a group of local growers led by Charles Hillery Walker …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Christmas Traditions

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette The orange became part of Christmastime traditions in the 19th century, along with the custom of hanging stockings near the fire. According to Emily Spivack, who wrote about the origin of the Christmas stocking for Smithsonian.com, the tradition of hanging stockings dates back to around 1823, when it is mentioned in the poem “Account of a …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Thanksgiving Joys

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette I just found several old Thanksgiving postcards with citrus themes that are quite beautiful. They are from an era when postage was a penny, and people sent postcards to friends and family on holidays. With everything going on in our world today, the postcards reminded me of the importance in reflecting on what’s good in our …

PIECES OF THE PAST: When Canned Grapefruit Came on the Scene

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette October has always signaled the first crop forecast, heralding the start of a new Florida citrus season. However, picking often begins in September for some eager to be the first out of the blocks. But, in the early days, with so much of the crop being sold fresh, it was imperative not to ruin the rest …

PIECES OF THE PAST: How to Manage a New Grove — in 1928

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette I was looking for inspiration for this month’s column and was trying to tie it in with this issue’s focus, which is grove management. Lo and behold, I came across a 44-page booklet I had tucked away called the “Book of Truth for Planters of New Groves” by Ocklawaha Nurseries, Inc. of Lake Jem, Florida. The …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Great Crate Finds

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette I recently bought several old citrus crates for the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame collection: Shiloh Fruit Packing Company, with the Indian Chief label Indian River Citrus Sub-Exchange packed by Graves Brothers Company in Wabasso, featuring the Flo brand label On Top Groves from Wetumpka Fruit Co., with the On Top Blue brand label The A. …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Orange Blossoms and Brides

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette The orange blossom has been part of wedding culture for centuries. Incorporating orange blossoms into the bride’s trousseau originated in ancient China where the white blossoms represented purity, chastity, innocence and fertility. In the article, “To Gather Orange Blossoms – History of Wedding Flowers Bouquets,” Cornelia Powell wrote, “There are few trees so prolific as the …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Selling Citrus on the Honor System

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette I recently came across a business reply card from Perrin & Thompson Groves of Winter Haven. I had heard of them since I grew up in Winter Haven but had never seen an advertisement like this one! The ad reads: “TRY THESE TREE-RIPENED ORANGES AND GRAPEFRUIT. Let us ship you on APPROVAL and at our expense …

PIECES OF THE PAST: Protecting a Treasured Tree

Tacy Callies Pieces of the Past

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette In the 1960s, 84-year-old Ethel G. Hakes recounted her firsthand experience of how the Temple orange rose to fame. “Have you ever heard of a tree so treasured that its owner sat up all night to watch over it? Yet that’s exactly what one greenhorn grower did one night when a hard freeze headed for our …