This week in West Orange County history: March 17, 2022

These are the stories that made headlines around West Orange County.

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85 years ago

Area people had the opportunity to ride in one of the largest and finest seaplanes when Capt. A.W. Bartlebaugh, former airmail pilot, arrived with his $35,000 aircraft. He landed on Lake Apopka and took passengers for 15-minute rides at $1 each.

A PWA sewing center was opened with Helen O. Sullivan as instructress. The advisory committee, consisting of Mrs. T.T. Cappleman, Mrs. F.L. Arnold, Mrs. Hoyle Pounds and Mrs. George Walker, got much of the necessary equipment. The garments made were for the community center to be issued to the relief plants.


80 years ago

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Engle of Chattanooga, Tenn., were guests at the Edgewater Hotel. He was the president of the Chattanooga Lookouts baseball club in training here.


50 years ago

The Girl Scouts of Ocoee’s Troop 436 entertained the residents of the Medic Home in Winter Garden with a program of miscellaneous songs. The troop, under the leadership of Mrs. Richard Burger and Mrs. Peter Burger, met at the Ocoee Christian Church.

Ben Hargrove, director of the West Orange YMCA, and Homer Craig, president of the YMCA Advisory Board, announced the Y exceeded its fundraising goal of $4,900 with a total of $5,782. More than 100 gifts and pledges were received, including a number of Century Club memberships.

Many local businesses participated in The Winter Garden Times’ Mystery Merchant contest: Frank’s Enco Station, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, W.T. Zeigler Furniture Co., Jim’s Equipment Co., The Leader Dept. Store, Jimmy’s Thriftway, Winter Garden Camera Exchange, Griffith Tire Co. Inc., Comfort Control, Winter Garden Inn, West Orange Discount, Goodyear, Green’s Fuel & Gas Co., Winter Garden Paint & Body Shop, TM Communications, Winter’s Radio & TV, Penny Saver, Windermere Country Store, Griffins Men’s Wear, Mr. D’s Bootery, J. Phillips Jewelers, Modern Stationery Inc., Ellis Inc. and Plaza Cleaners.


45 years ago

State Rep. Dick Batchelor spoke to Carolyn Tyrell’s civics class at Lakeview Junior High School.


30 years ago

Volunteers for the Florida Cracker Festival in Winter Garden met with representatives of Main Street Florida to learn more about promoting the festival and other events in the city: Gretchen Boyd, Maureen Ryan, Ann Ellis, Cheryl Medley, Bob Trescott, Sheri Grimes, Phillips Waley and Lynn Bowness.


20 years ago

Tiger Woods became the first person to successfully defend his title twice at the Bay Hill Invitational. The prestigious PGA event boasts the world’s top golfers.



Winter Garden historian and artist Rod Reeves has sketched local residents for decades, and in the 1970s, he provided drawings each week to The Winter Garden Times. Each “Remember” sketch was accompanied by a bit of information about the person featured.

For the March 23, 1972, issue of the newspaper, Reeves provided a drawing of B.D. “Pop” Bennett, who was a trustee of Ocoee High School for 25 years. Besides being a familiar face at the high school, Bennett loved making children giggle by wiggling his ears.

The OHS seniors dedicated their 1950 yearbook to Bennett because of his sincere interest in the educational system.



In observance of Women’s History Month, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation honors Mary Elizabeth George Johnson (1909-2000) of Winter Garden. Her great-granddaughter, Mia Johnson, visited the WGHF recently and shared memories of growing up on the Mary and Joe Johnston estate property along Railroad Avenue in Winter Garden. Most of the original homes standing in this quiet neighborhood — called “21 Jump” by Mia and friends — were built by Mary Johnson beginning in 1944. “When Great-Grandma had some extra money saved, up she’d build a house,” Mia Johnson said. In a time of strict racial segregation, housing provided opportunities for black residents to settle in and raise families — often offered by the Johnson family for nominal fees. Mary and her husband raised seven children: Wilbur, Sylvester, William, Earl, Joseph, Dan and Myra.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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