Louis Roney: Take your pick

As a boy, I saw much of Winter Park from the water while paddling my canoe through the lakes and canals.

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  • | 1:55 p.m. February 8, 2012
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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The excellent Minnesota Symphony Orchestra with its first-rate conductor Osmo Vanska and Midori violinist soloist, will play a special concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 9, at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center. This performance will be dedicated to the memory of David and Libby Roberts. David, a classmate of mine at Harvard (1942), was founding director and the first president of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation.

Trip to fame

Our neighbor and great pal Victor Morel will drive b.w. and me to Tallahassee in late March for the governor to induct me into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Such awards do not make one rich or famous perhaps, but they are vitamins for the ego in one’s late years.

Winter Park flashback

As a boy, I saw much of Winter Park from the water while paddling my canoe through the lakes and canals. Winter Park’s water acreage is surprisingly expansive if you explore it afloat.

Einstein’s declaration that “time is the fourth dimension” causes relic scenes of my childhood to speak to me in whispers from the past.

Downtown Winter Park was a quaint locale in the ’30s with a Piggly-Wiggly, a shoe repair shop and a watchmaker near the Baby Grand movie house. Movie theaters were quite different in the days before air-conditioning, but plenty of people stuck it out to see Betty Davis, Clark Gable, Jimmy Cagney, Norma Shearer and the rest. Without television one had to leave his house in order to be transported to faraway places, the way one can now do in his own living room.

Wealthy Winter Parkers, often with visored chauffeurs, drove slowly around town in Cadillacs, Lincolns, Pierce-Arrows, Franklins, Graham-Paiges, Hispano-Suizas, Auburns, Jordans, Cords, Rolls-Royces and other exotic autos.

Andy Ahick’s garage kept busy repairing ailing cars.

I graduated from grammar school on Park Avenue in 1932 and moved on to junior high and high school — all in two buildings on Huntington Avenue where a giant school complex now stands.

We practiced football on the field below the high school, and played our games at Orange Avenue’s Harper-Shepherd Field, which also housed big league baseball teams for spring practice. Rollins’ football games were played on Tinker Field in Orlando, the name being taken from the renowned Chicago Cubs infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance who were the most celebrated double-play combination in the history of baseball.

The place where we all swam was between Rollins’ two long docks extending from the shore of Lake Virginia. An occasional seaplane, with both wheels and pontoons, would take off or land on the lake.

Rollins students were, for the most part, from well-off families up North, many having come to Rollins after being unsuccessful in entering Ivy League schools. For a long time, Rollins had the reputation — true or not true — of having “no examinations and no grades.” I devoted much effort convincing guys I lived with at Harvard that Rollins was not a “snap school,” as some had heard. Through the years Rollins’ reputation has improved immensely, and the college is now highly respected everywhere.

There were no food stamps or welfare in those days, and people were generous to those who needed help.

Some Winter Park land, now invaluable, was going for as little as $10 an acre — but who had $10?

About Roney:

Harvard’42—Distinguished Prof, Em.—UCF

2004 Fla. Alliance for the Arts award

(Assisted by beautiful wife Joy Roney)