This week in West Orange County history: May 19, 2022

These are the people and events that shaped the West Orange County we live in today.

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85 years ago

The $125 diamond ring the Winter Garden Service League was selling chances on was given away at the Winter Garden Theatre.

Clarence Heidt left for St. Louis, Mo., where he was to attend a Purina Mills training school for two weeks. He was accompanied by Fred Roper, who attended a Purina Feeders convention.

Mr. and Mrs. B.R. Briley of Oakland announced the birth of a daughter, Edna Jane, May 14 at the Orange General Hospital in Orlando.


80 years ago

Funds were being raised for the summer recreational program, The Builders, and a donkey baseball game was being sponsored at Walker Field. The public was invited to attend and enjoy the laughs. A hand-picked town team with Bill Hartzog and Henry Britt Jr. as leaders was to challenge a team of Army boys. Tickets were 39 cents and 17 cents.

The L.A. Grimes camp on Lake Butler was being painted and having electric lights installed.


70 years ago

A group of students from the home economics classes at Lakeview High School presented an interesting program in assembly, modeling the dresses they made in class.

John T. “Tiger” Minor was elected president of the Ocoee Lions Club. Mrs. John “Nell” Minor was elected president of the Ocoee School PTA.


50 years ago

The first flight of Shawnee Airlines’ new daily STOLcraft service from Maguire Airport to Walt Disney World took place with three mayors: George Barley of Winter Garden, Hubert Fox of Ocoee and Dean Kinzey of Windermere.


40 years ago

Shirley Lait was a busy lady, spending three weeks in California visiting her family and then traveling to Virginia with her husband, Ray.


30 years ago

The First United Methodist Church of Winter Garden announced it was starting a preschool. Patty Tate was named the first director of The Learning Center


20 years ago

Winter Garden hired Bob Smith as the new Public Works director. Smith held the same position in Ocoee for the five years prior.

Residents were upset about a change to several of downtown Winter Garden’s parking lots. The lots — one between Downtown Brown’s on the east and Shaw’s Flowers & Gifts on the west and the other behind the former First Union National Bank building — were purchased by a group of businessmen who started charging $1 per hour or $2 a day. The lots always had been privately owned but were always free to the public.



May 16, 2002

If it was “unusually fine barbecue” you were looking for, one of the best restaurants in the area was Choctaw Willy’s. It opened in the Edgewater Hotel, where Thai Blossom currently operates, in 2000 and included a full meats menu of pork, ribs, chicken, turkey, beef and catfish. Fresh vegetables and scrumptious cobblers rounded out the menu.

The restaurant was owned by Ken Kelly Sr., Ken Kelly Jr., Chris Sharpe and Wayne Bird and served up barbecue and fixin’s at lunch and dinnertime.

A sister restaurant, Whippoor Willy’s, opened a few years later, also in the hotel, and offered family-style Southern meals.



Winter Garden Feed and Seed once stood at 49 S. Main St. The good smells of farm and hay and leather greeted you as you walked through the ancient wooden front doors; sometimes you were greeted by Pinky the pig, seen here resting after a hard day’s work doing nothing in particular. She was often accompanied by baby Penelope, a much smaller porcine companion; Phyllis the chicken; and Flower, a rabbit.

The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation gathers and preserves photographs, documents, letters and so much more in its vast West Orange County archive. Feel free to call the center at (407) 656-3244 if you have anything to share.



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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