This week in West Orange County history: Sept. 21, 2023

These are the people and events making headlines in West Orange County's past.

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50 years ago

Letter to the Editor: “To elementary students, During the past two years I have been privileged to work with the elementary students at Maxey, Dillard Street, Winter Garden and Tildenville schools. Most of the children knew me as Sgt. Decker. I am no longer with the police department in Winter Garden, and I will miss presenting safety and drug abuse programs. Children, I will always be your friend. Feel free to call on me at any time. I am presently with the Ocoee Police Department. Stop by and see me when you can. Sincerely, your friend, Ed Decker.”

40 years ago

Millie Keneipp opened a new monogramming shop called Monograms By Millie in the West Orange Shopping Center on Dillard Street. She invited folks in to get personalization and logos on everything from shirts, jackets and sweaters to towels, tote bags and canvas-back chairs.

Alice Marshall, owner of Finders Keepers, an antique and used furniture shop on Main Street in Windermere, obtained a temporary restraining order that prevented the town of Windermere from moving the building in which her business was situated. The town owned the building and wanted to move it further down the block to make room for a recreational plan.

35 years ago

The Winter Garden City Commission gave the makers of the horror movie, “Witch Story,” permission to shoot a scene at the Edgewater Hotel. Attempts to film part of the movie in Ocoee at the Withers-Maguire House were turned down by the city’s commission.

From Editor’s Notebook: Someone stopped at Pounds Motor Company and wanted to rent a hedging machine. When he told Herbert Pounds it was to mutilate a woman in a movie, Herbert turned him down.

30 years ago

A bulldozer knocked down the 17-year-old Ocoee City Hall in two hours in preparation for the construction of a new municipal complex on the same site. Huber Construction was building the new facility, which included a city hall and police department.

20 years ago

The young camel seemed eager to give Ocoee Mayor Scott Vandergrift a big, sloppy kiss, but it could have been the carrot dangling from the mayor’s mouth that enticed Sir Gus closer. At the Old Geezers Game between Winter Garden and Ocoee, the mayor from the losing city had to kiss the camel. To show he was a good sport, Winter Garden Mayor Jack Quesinberry let the camel plant one on his face as well.


SEPT. 20, 1973

If you shopped at Winn Dixie in 1973, you were sure to get the latest deals on food, drinks and household goods. In its weekly full-page advertisements in The Winter Garden Times, the grocery store let shoppers know of the best prices each week.

In the meat department, one could buy one pound of sliced bacon for $1.19, three pounds of ground beef for $2.89, frozen frying chickens at 50 cents per pound and chuck roast for $1.28 per pound. Elsewhere, shoppers could score four bottles of Hunt’s ketchup, four cans of Astor fruit cocktail, four bags of shoestring potatoes or Ocoma five pot pies for a buck.

In addition, there were offerings of fine English dinnerware in the Lochs of Scotland pattern and multiple “extra top value stamps” on select items lining the shelves.


The town of Oakland prepared to celebrate its 100th birthday in the autumn of 1987 — and resident and historian Louise Battin was outside Town Hall with a new sign commissioned to mark the town’s center. The Orange Belt Railway set up its offices in the town while preparing to lay track along the south shore of Lake Apopka. Founder “Judge” James Gamble Speer contributed half interest in a 200-acre tract to enable the railroad to be completed to Oakland from Apopka; the town’s Speer Park is named for him. The completion of this rail system through the area — along with the later Tavares & Gulf Railroad —  helped put the region on the map as a major shipper of citrus and vegetables for the next century.