Joy Wallace Dickinson

Joy Wallace Dickinson

Florida Flashback

 Landmark link to 1920s boom gleams again after renovation

Landmark link to 1920s boom gleams again after renovation

June 28, 2015

Late in the Roaring 1920s, as Florida's frenzied land boom was collapsing, excitement remained high in Orlando at the debut of a new building.

  • Photo contest shines spotlight on historic Orlando bungalows

    June 21, 2015

    Get snapping, folks. It's time again to take your best shots for old Orlando. In an annual rite, the city's Historic Preservation Board seeks calendar photos, with another rich subject for 2016 — "Bungalows of Orlando's Historic Districts."

  • Vanished little houses persist in local legend

    June 14, 2015

    Here's how the story goes: Small-scale homes near the railroad tracks in Orlando were built in the 1920s as housing for small people who worked for the James E. Strates Shows, based in Taft. They lived there until harassment by teenagers provoked one of the small residents to shoot and kill one of the teens, after which the little people moved away.

  • Natural wonder's ancient wood survives in Florida-centered art

    June 7, 2015

    "We were driving around one Sunday and saw this," the faded scribble reads on the back of a vintage Central Florida postcard. The image on the front depicts a tree so large and so old that it was not only our area's earliest tourist attraction but also a national natural wonder.

  • There's lots of 'there' here, Winter Park awards attest

    May 31, 2015

    "It's never too late to mend," reads a motto displayed at The Coop restaurant in Winter Park. It's a fitting sentiment for a business that recently won an award of excellence for historic renovation.

  • Archaeologists dig into care of state's historic cemeteries

    May 24, 2015

    Why are so many of us attracted to cemeteries full of strangers? It's a question author Lola Haskins raises in her preface to "Fifteen Florida Cemeteries: Strange Tales Unearthed" (University Press of Florida).

  • Women stood tall in fight for state's natural riches

    May 17, 2015

    "The scene is breathtaking and remarkably soothing," Leslie Kemp Poole begins her new book, "Saving Florida," as she describes the sandy beach and sapphire water at Canaveral National Seashore, the longest undeveloped public beach on Florida's east coast.

  • Dining-out memories come with slice of fine apple pie

    May 10, 2015

    According to research by the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day remains the top holiday for Americans to dine out, followed by Valentine's Day, Father's Day, New Year's Eve and Easter.

  • TV trailblazer 'Uncle Walt' made kids stars for a day

    May 5, 2015

    "If you were a child growing up in Central Florida in the 1950s and 1960s, you were either on the 'Uncle Walt' television show or knew someone who had been," writes Rick Sickles of Orlando about his dad, Walt Sickles.

  • Bricks from lost landmark survive in fabled Casa walls

    April 26, 2015

    Imagine it's 1886 in the railroad-fueled boomtown of Orlando. When folks come to visit, where will you take them to show off the Phenomenal City?

  • Tour-leading sexton brings history to life at cemetery

    April 19, 2015

    Yahoo! I recently nabbed one of Orlando's hottest tickets — the Moonlight Walking Tour at Greenwood Cemetery, led by longtime sexton Don Price.

  • Garden gates swing open for historic springtime stroll

    April 12, 2015

    Historic fun is busting out all over this April, as opportunities abound for fans of Old (and Real) Florida.

  • Named Orlando's top icon, Eola blooms at city's heart

    April 5, 2015

    One day in first grade, a schoolmate shocked my wide-eyed self with the declaration that Santa was not "real." When I asked my mother, she confirmed the bitter truth.

  • Downtown museum's new chief: 'I'm listening to the community'

    March 29, 2015

    "Our story here goes back 12,000 years," Michael Perkins tells a visiting group at the Orange County Regional History Center, referring to the ancient Indians who migrated into Florida when the wildlife included 12-foot-tall mammoths.

  • Civil rights pioneers recall support of strong mothers

    March 22, 2015

    For a decade, playwright and activist Spirit Trickey worked at the Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, Ark., helping visitors understand the dramatic events at the school in 1957, when her mother, Minnijean Brown Trickey, was one of the "Little Rock Nine" — young black teens who stepped into history when they entered the all-white school, escorted by federal troops.

  • Silly, somber choices blend in summer of '42 memory

    March 8, 2015

    Recent Flashbacks about two lost Orlando landmarks in the Lake Ivanhoe area — the Coliseum and the American Legion Hall — continue to inspire memories, as did a reference to the city's Municipal Auditorium, which is still with us, as part of the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center. Thanks to all. It's always great to hear from you.

  • Crowds mourned daring flier at Orlando rail station in 1926

    March 1, 2015

    Recently, dignitaries gathered at Orlando Executive Airport to honor one of the most fascinating figures to walk across the stage of the city's history: Bessie Coleman, a glamorous, gutsy black aviation pioneer who gained a coveted international pilot's license in 1921, before Amelia Earhart.

  • In vivid images and details, College Park's past unfolds

    February 22, 2015

    Not long ago, I heard an otherwise well-informed speaker from another part of Florida tell an audience that Jack Kerouac had lived in Winter Park — which isn't right, of course. Kerouac lived in College Park, home of the Kerouac House and Kerouac Project of Orlando.

  • Iconic educator Bethune stood at helm of struggle for justice

    February 15, 2015

    In a life that lasted from the aftermath of the Civil War to the dawn of the Space Age, Mary McLeod Bethune left her mark on the nation.

  • Great Depression put stamp on lost Ivanhoe landmarks

    February 8, 2015

    A recent "Flashback" about Kemp's Coliseum in Orlando continues to spark readers' memories and questions. Bob Miller recalls big-band dances there and wonders whether the building was linked to the Works Progress Administration of the New Deal; another reader, John Weyrick, also asks about the American Legion hall — another lost landmark that drew crowds to Orlando's Lake Ivanhoe area and was indeed part of the WPA's architectural legacy.

  • Colossal quilt collection tells 400 years of stories

    February 1, 2015

    Displays of art typically list the materials used: oil on canvas, charcoal on paper, and so on. But the art in the Orange County Regional History Center's upcoming exhibition creates powerful images in a different way — with materials ranging from cotton fabric to nylon thread.

  • Hurston's life fascinates as much as her fiction

    January 25, 2015

    Just after sundown on a January evening 55 years ago — Jan. 29, 1960, to be exact — Zora Neale Hurston died at the segregated St. Lucie County nursing home where she had been transferred in late October after suffering the first of two strokes.

  • 'Wish you were here' postcards enrich record of Florida's past

    January 18, 2015

    January is a big month for postcards in Florida, as dealers from the North arrive to offer their wares to postcard collectors at various shows around the state. On Jan. 30 and 31, for example, the Sunshine Postcard Club presents its winter show in Tampa at the Holiday Inn Express, Lakeside Ballroom, 4750 N. Dale Mabry Highway. (Details are on the club's Facebook page).

  • Vanishing Mount Vernon Inn mirrored national roadside style

    January 11, 2015

    In car trips along southern highways, I've become a seasoned road warrior when it comes to motels — even motels where my fellow travelers come to the free breakfast bar in pajamas and bare feet. I witnessed that during recent holiday travels.

  • Hospital shines light on past, searches for historic lanterns

    January 4, 2015

    At Orlando Regional Medical Center's rooftop heliport, the scene looks like something out of Star Wars. Helicopters land and depart bearing Air Care crews dressed in red jumpsuits and smooth helmets — trauma medicine at its most modern.

  • Time machine's bubbling for 1940s New Year's Eve

    December 28, 2014

    This week, the Flashback time machine hums with a big-band tune to warm up for New Year's Eve. We're heading back to the 1940s, and we simply must book a table at the Coliseum.

  • Take holiday visitors along to sites of history, beauty

    December 21, 2014

    If you've lived in these parts for any length of time, you know that sooner rather than later, company will be coming, often around the winter holidays.

  • Lost Langford Hotel lives on in icon votes, video history

    December 14, 2014

    Judging from the voting for Orlando's most-loved "icons" for 1960-1985, plenty of Central Floridians wish they could still pop into the Langford Hotel's Empire Room this holiday season, or any time. When the Historic Icons of Orlando project began releasing voting results last month, the Langford made the top 100 at No. 73.

  • Starry icon hails from days of neon-adorned retail bustle

    December 7, 2014

    The Beacham was a busy movie theater, diners packed Morrison's Cafeteria on Central, and most Orlandoans did their holiday shopping downtown when the city's big star came out to shine in 1955.

  • Mix history, gift-gathering at Cracker Christmas fest

    November 30, 2014

    Most of the year, tranquility marks the east Orange community of Christmas, where the pines are tall and the history runs deep. But on the first weekend in December — this year, Dec. 6 and 7 — it's another scene altogether, as crowds descend on Fort Christmas Historical Park to munch old-time food, listen to fiddle music, and shop for crafty gifts. This year marks the 37th Cracker Christmas.

  • Hey, Pilgrims: Too bad you didn't visit Florida

    November 23, 2014

    Thanksgiving, the homegrown American celebration of gratitude inspired by a 1621 harvest feast in Plymouth Colony, marks a rare nod on the calendar to U.S. colonial history.

  • Merita, curvy roadside icon, finds home at Morse Museum

    November 16, 2014

    When news broke in late 2012 that Orlando's venerable Merita Bread Bakery would close, reaction ranged from concern for workers losing their jobs to questions about the fate of the huge Merita sign overlooking Interstate 4 — a Central Florida icon since the 1960s.

  • After decades, Orlando family learns truth about WWII death

    November 9, 2014

    The young men photographed by a plane dubbed "Thunder Mug" are handsome enough to be the cast of a World War II movie, but they're the real thing: part of the 451st Bombardment Group, Fifteenth Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps, on July 18, 1944.

  • As Dr. Phillips Center debuts, listen to fascinating family saga

    November 2, 2014

    It's only a short walk from the grand home where the Phillips family long lived on Orlando's Lake Lucerne to the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which celebrates its ribbon-cutting Nov. 6.

  • Spirit of America's past lines streets of Cassadaga

    October 26, 2014

    At Halloween or any time, ghosts seem to be big business. Walking tours follow Florida's spirits from Pensacola to Key West, and volumes of spooky legends abound. In one, Jack Powell's "Haunting Sunshine," I read that Arthur, the spirit of an Irish tenor, is said to frequent the Cassadaga Hotel, leaving behind aromatic traces of gin and cigars.

  • Readers illuminate black lights, Depression reunion, Trail's past

    October 19, 2014

    A dip into the Flashback mailbag finds letters about the Orlando Youth Center, the 1935 Labor Day hurricane (and some good that came from it for one Orlando family), and the mom-and-pop motel days of the Orange Blossom Trail.

  • Gather your family stories: It's a gift for generations

    October 12, 2014

    It's not even mid-October, but these days Halloween seems to begin in August, and Christmas starts soon after. Thanksgiving is in danger of become "the day before Black Friday."

  • Haunted tales open doors to old St. Augustine's past

    October 27, 2013

    We're moved into prime day-trip weather, when cooler temperatures brighten the prospect of strolling historic streets, and none are more historic than St. Augustine's.

  • Visit to great Ybor City inspires visions of old dark deeds among the 'Goodfellas'

    April 14, 2012

    Strolling behind tour leader Scott Deitche through Tampa's Ybor City on a spring evening, I found my feet in the present but my brain back in a dark past — say, Nov. 10, 1936.

  • Resolved for 2012: A renewed appreciation of places that matter

    December 30, 2011

    Residents of tourism meccas often trade stories of the surprising things visitors can do or say.

  • Holiday of snowmen and Santa inspires that ol' smarty-pants style down South

    December 26, 2011

    "The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway." We may seldom hear those introductory lines to Irving Berlin's holiday anthem "White Christmas," but that's how the song begins.

  • Walt Disney's ties to Central Florida reach back far beyond debut of Magic Kingdom 40 years ago

    October 28, 2011

    Folks who write or talk about Central Florida's past have often quipped that our area has a fascinating history "B.D."—Before Disney.

  • Maitland Art Center: Meet the enigmatic, authentic Seminoles

    March 29, 2009

    Seminole: The word is everywhere in Florida, from college jerseys to gambling casinos.

  • Over the river, through the woods, to that town of the spirits we go

    October 28, 2007

    For decades, Orlando-area folks have taken a drive to visit the remarkable Volusia County community of Cassadaga, which scholars deem the oldest active religious community of its kind in the Southeast.

  • 'The heart of Maitland'

    October 7, 2007

    Folks "seeking health and wealth" couldn't find a better home than Maitland, Florida, an enterprising copywriter wrote about 1890.

  • Jewish pioneers gathered at family grove for High Holy Days

    September 16, 2007

    Last week, we started a fresh year on the Jewish calendar, when the HighHoly Days started at sundown Wednesday with Rosh Hashana, the New Year of5768.



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