West Orange County history for the week of July 4, 2024

This area was home to many interesting characters and stories. Here are a few from the past.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Excerpts from the newspaper's archives:

80 years ago

Lt. Elmer Youngblood of Clearwater spent the weekend with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Youngblood.

Tourists visiting Winter Garden were often heard making complimentary remarks about the cleanliness of the town, which speaks well for any community.

E.H. Ellis, proprietor of Ellis Pharmacy and owner of the business block near A.C.L. passenger depot, was endeavoring to learn who smashed the large plate-glass window in front of the vacant storeroom adjoining the bowling alley.

State highway engineers were in Winter Garden making surveys and getting a lineup on a new highway through the city.

The fish fry and picnic at Roper’s camp on Lake Butler was a delightful treat and outing for the large group of employees in attendance and “a jolly good time was had by all.”

Severe civilian shortages existed in washtubs, alarm clocks, window screening and flashlights, the War Production Board reports, with less severe shortages in flashlight batteries, clothes pins, double boilers, egg beaters and radio tubes.

70 years ago

Mrs. Simm Bell entertained a group of preschool-age children at a party in her home honoring her little daughter, Leia Ann Bell, on her sixth birthday.

50 years ago

William E. “Uncle Billy” Paquin, of North Lakeview Avenue, Winter Garden, celebrated his 98th birthday with multiple get-togethers.

45 years ago

The Rev. James A. Harnish began pulpit duties for the new St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in the epicenter on Sand Lake Road.

40 years ago

Walt Cobb, director of Westside Vo-Tech, accepted 11 new Honda motorcycles on behalf of the school from the American Honda Motor Company.

June Kent Raboy, a longtime resident of Windermere, tried out the new wheelchair ramp built by Boy Scouts in Troop 233, including Sean McGrath, David Gecewicz, David Scarboro, Brian Devoe, Danny Carrier and Tim Carrier.

Richard Pride retired from the United States Post Office after serving 31.5 years and rising through the ranks from clerk and letter carrier to mail foreman and assistant branch manager to postmaster.

Bay Hill resident Dee Parsons, an insurance executive and former Orange County Public Schools teacher, announced his intention to run for the Orange County School Board.

20 years ago

State, county and city leaders gathered in Ocoee to celebrate the honorary name designation of State Road 50 as Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from the Ocoee city limits near the State Road 429 Western Expressway to State Road 436 in east Orlando. Ocoee Mayor Scott Vandergrift handed Martin Luther King III a key to the city.


JUNE 27, 1974

There were not a lot of dining choices in West Orange County in the 1970s, and the ones that were here were mostly fast-food choices.

In the June 27, 1974, issue of The Winter Garden Times, several restaurants placed advertisements to entice residents to try their menu.

Burger Chef was located in Winter Garden’s Tri-City Shopping Center, in the building now occupied by Four Rivers Smokehouse, and offered burgers, fries and shakes. Some folks might even remember the restaurant’s mascot, Jeff, and the characters Burgerini and Count Fangburger.

If burgers weren’t your thing, you could go down the street to Pizza Hut, once located at 5 S. Dillard St. (there’s a China Panda there now). If customers clipped the advertised coupon out of the paper, they could purchase a 13-inch pizza and get one free.


This photograph of two children in a decorated carriage was composed in 1925, exactly 99 years ago this week. From left, Mary Elizabeth Kannon Payne, Carlton Lawson and the future Dr. Ben Hill Lawson. The occasion is a Fourth of July celebration in Winter Garden.



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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