The front page of The Orphan Helper for April 1934 features a poem by Maye White:
AN ORPHAN’S PRAYER
Dear God, I don’t know that prayer
“Bout “Lay Me Down To Sleep,”
‘Cause I ain’t got no mother
To give me care, and keep
Me like other boys I know;
To rock me to sleep at night;
To teach me and to train me
All the things that are right,
So tonight I can’t thank you for
A mother’s care: but instead,
I thank you for MY HOME
And a place to lay my head.
The postcard was shared with us by Ken Rager and Carol Malher did a little research about it.
The photograph on this postcard was probably taken during celebrations for the arrival of the first train of the East and West Coast Railway in 1915. The line followed today’s State Road 70—more or less—from Bradenton to Arcadia. (Despite its name, it was never built farther east than Arcadia.) Tracks were built several miles north of the original town of Pine Level established in 1866, so “New Pine Level” developed around the depot, with plenty of investment opportunities. The following article from p. 11 of the Feb. 18, 1915, The DeSoto County News imagines the festivities.
A Mighty Big Noise Coming With New R.R.
We are going to make a record racket when the new road pulls in. Program is being arranged. And will be announced shortly.
(From Saturday’s Daily.)
Arcadians are getting hep to the fact that the new railroad is nearly here, and that not very much more time is going to slip by ere the East and West Coast line’s big steam horses are going to blow for this station—and then —we are going to celebrate. We are going to pull some stunts that will be remembered. It is going to be a gigantic time in these parts. The fatted cattle we are going to kill will total up into the tons. There will be entertainment for the elite, and something to attract the serious and sedate. There will be fun and frolic for the general fun of folks and everybody is to be “at home.” This big time is not going to be any ordinary affair: we are going to spread out and annex the good people of Manatee. The date has not yet been set, but it will be, and published just as soon as the citizens and railway officials can get together on it.
It won’t be long, so start to get ready to shoot the moon full of high life. Give old gloom the once over and poison him with a proper grin. We’ll have the biggest time ever.
The Board of Trade is taking active steps to promote the celebration, and it behooves all the red blooded and public spirited citizens to help the thing along.
Where were the “Peace River Picnic Grounds, Arcadia, Florida,” photographed and colorized on this penny postcard? The May 11, 1916, DeSoto County News reported a “Union Sunday School” (meaning both Baptist and Methodist) picnic at near Peace River—perhaps this location?
“The Union S. S. Picnic: Near Peace River Was a Pronounced Success, and All, Old and Young, Had a Good Time; Suggested by Many That These Beautiful Grounds Be Improved for Permanent Gatherings of The Kind.
“The Union Sunday School picnic yesterday was all that the fondest heart could anticipate. Early in the morning the children began to assemble at the various church buildings and there was no lack of cars to take them out to the grounds promptly as had been promised.
“After reaching the grounds it was found that the various committees had all performed their duties well, and every provision had been made for the enjoyment of the children in the highest degree. Interesting games were indulged in until the dinner hour, when there was a spread that made the long tables fairly grown under the splendid edibles that had been prepared by loving hands and hearts. . . .
“The grounds where the picnic was held are beautiful and with just a little improvement can be made all that could be desired for such occasions.
“Life could be made much more enjoyable, not only for the children, but for the old people as well, if many such days were spent together in the woods, where we may have the better opportunity of knowing each other. We suggest that these grounds be improved and that such an outing be had a least once each month during the summer time. . . .”
The DeSoto County Schools held a spring festival on May Day, 1930, that included dancing around may poles on the north lawn of the DeSoto County Courthouse. Students elected Jerrold Gaskins as king and LeMerle Sutton as queen. Charles A. Moore photographed the scene.
The Orphan Helper was an occasional newspaper published by the Florida Baptist Children’s Home, probably printed by boys working in the print shop. Established in 1903, the Children’s Home cared for orphans from 1903 to 1948 when it moved to Lakeland. It was located at the northwest corner of W. Gibson and N. Arcadia Ave. Some of the buildings still stand, including the Superintendent’s Home at 100 W. Winifred St.
Bernard Cochran, who grew up in the Home, wrote his recollections, posted on Feb. 5, 2012, on the FBCH Web site: www.fbchomes.org/2012/02/05/bernard-cochran. His note about the newspaper is written tongue-in-cheek:
“Writing a letter for publication in the Children’s Homes’ occasional newspaper: The Orphan Helper: It was a chore but it taught us to be thoughtful of others. We all ended our letter with the same line: “I will close now and leave room for the others to write.” You see, that’s just being thoughtful — you didn’t want to pre-empt all the letter-writing space — right?”
Everything old is new again!
Many restaurants have begun “curb service,” so that customers do not have to enter the building to pick up their “carry-out” food. More than 80 years ago, such curb service appealed to customers of John Dishong’s Soda-Lunch as advertised in the July 27, 1936, Arcadian.
Dishong was the grandson of Owen H. Dishong, first sheriff of DeSoto County. John’s father, John Leslie Dishong, Sr., also served as sheriff and in the Florida legislature. More information about this family is in Chapter 33 of Footprints and Landmarks: Arcadia and DeSoto County, Florida, by George Howard Melton.
The restaurant was located in the Union Bus Station, at the northeast corner of Oak St. and DeSoto Ave. (just west of Richard Ames: Allstate Insurance, 7 E. Oak St.). Originally built as the DeSoto County Bank in 1890 for Anthony Peters, the building was bought by Barron Collier and remodeled in stucco in 1927. It burned in 1974.
Banana Orchard, Arcadia, Florida, Postcard
Today, most bananas eaten in the U.S. are grown in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Philippines, and Colombia, but sometime in the past, a “banana orchard” in Arcadia, Florida, was photographed and printed as a postcard.
In 1908, the four October issues of The Champion newspaper advertised “Hart’s Choice Banana Plants for sale at ten cents each. [See] Ed Scott, Arcadia.” Most people grew a few plants for themselves and their families to enjoy.
The Sept. 19, 1913, Ocala Banner reported, “It has been said that there is not a commercial banana orchard within the limits of the United States, but a paper published in Palm Beach, Fla., shows a picture of Denmark Gardens, owned by Carl M. Jensen, who claims that he is not only raising the poor man’s fruit commercially, but is making money on it.”
Published on Jan. 20, 1916, The DeSoto County News, DeSoto County Fair edition listed categories judged, including “best bunch of bananas” and “best banana plant in fruit,” according to The DeSoto County News.