Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Heritage from the Heart - December 2010 Orange Slice Fruit Cake

Gene Dickinson's
Orange Slice Fruitcake Recipe

When deciding what recipe to share at this Christmas season, I wanted something unique that has a
 story with it for "My Heritage...from the heart"! This is what I came up with. I recalled that back in the 80's, my sister-in-law, Nancy Blake Fitzpatrick, made a fruitcake with a different twist for the holidays. Not to get off track,but Nancy was married to the late Richard "Spike" Fitzpatrick, a well-known attorney-at-law in Inverness for many years. He was the second oldest of five boys in the Fitzpatrick family, of which my husband Pat was the youngest. Ok, now that I have the who's who explained, this particular fruitcake always stuck out in my mind during the holidays because one of its main ingredients, candied orange slices, was one of my favorites. Well...that is part of the reason, but I think it goes even deeper than that. It represented a time in my life that I now call "the good 'ole days", which brings sweet memories of loved ones who are no longer with us!

Reminiscing about that time in my life, I decided to e-mail Nancy to see if I could get this wonderful fruitcake recipe again, and she was happy to share. She did say that she hated to take credit for it, because it came from a well-known man from Inverness by the name of Gene Dickinson. Gene owned a laundry on the eastside of Citrus County for many years.

Nancy had "name dropped" a couple mutual friends who may have had more information about Mr. Dickinson, one of whom was Claire (Dollbaby) Jenkins. It was very convenient to get in touch with her, since we are friends on Facebook. I decided to drop her a line, to see what she knew of him. She remembered him well and this is what she shared:

"Gene had a laundry and dry cleaners on Hwy. 41 South, about where the Church of God is now, next to SunTrust Bank. He had a pickup and delivery service. I would just leave my sheets and dry cleaning at the back door, when we lived at the Country Club, he would pick them up and he would hang them in the family room when he brought them back, we never locked the doors back then. I do remember that the sheets were always folded so nicely and not a wrinkle in them. Randall's white dress shirts were the same way. The milk man did the same. Just walked into the kitchen and put the milk in the refrigerator and walked out. Oh, for the good old days. Hope this helps."

My intent was to just give a little bit of info about the man behind the recipe, but I wanted to know more about him and his family, so I went to Miss Dot, our mother-in-law, to see what she knew of him. Now, Miss Dot is a book of history and knowledge of the good 'ole days. When I mentioned his name, there were many family names to follow. I was walking my parents' dog (well really mine, but another story) at the time and needed a pen and paper to get all the names correct. I told her I would call her back when I was able to sit down and write in detail, and here is what she said:

"Gene Dickinson was the son-in-law of Judge May. He was also the nephew of Frankie Dickinson, who lived with him in later years. He had two sons, Russell and Billy. The mother of their boys was Lolita, daughter of Judge May."

Miss Dot also recalled that Gene's youngest son, Russell, was the same age as her oldest boys, Mike and Spike, and that the three of them were the very first altar boys at the Catholic church in Inverness. Russell was also in Miss Dot's Cub Scouts' group. The boys grew up and both succeeded with their lives. She recalls Billy retired from the Air Force and Russell worked for the State Employment Service in some way.

Miss Dot has been neighbors with Gene's family, and Gene himself, throughout her years of living in Inverness, both in town and out in Lochshire Park. For many years she worked the (voting) poles with his Aunt Frankie by her side. Miss Dot's guess is that Gene probably got the recipe for the "Orange Slice Fruit Cake" from his Aunt Frankie. Miss Dot, too, had the recipe for this unique fruitcake. She said Gene and Frankie have passed away, but will always be a part of "the good 'ole days" in her memory bank.
I hope you enjoyed this piece of history, and now on to this Orange Slice Fruitcake Recipe. I would love to hear more history of this story, if you would like to share on my blog. I would also love to hear if you tried to make it and how it turned out!

Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours,
Laura Lou

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Heritage Village Happenings - December 2010

When it Snows … it Snowballs at Heritage Village for the month of December… Most of us are open 7 days a week, adding Sundays, Noon till 4 p.m. until Christmas, for your shopping pleasure.  We also decided to take on not one but two Christmas Parades, in Crystal River and Inverness.  Our theme for December activities is “Don’t Let the Grinch Steal your Christmas” taken from the original Dr. Suess story, with details added from the Movie starring Jim Carrey . 

Village Men (Hometown Athletics & SuGaBuG Kids) built our floats, with our wonderful Artistic “friend” of the Village, Pat Rickard (Patric) making magic happen with a stroke of her brush, to bring this storybook theme come ALIVE!  Thanks to ALL those who made the Details happen, the list goes on and on!

Market Day with Art & Treasures is always 2nd Saturday of each month. I want to remind our local farmers who grow their own produce that you are welcome to set up with us FREE!  Plants, produce and pantry is what we are looking for at this event, complimented by Artistic Talent and Treasures of all nature.

Let it Snow JUBILATION is this Saturday, December 18th, 10 a.m. till 5 p.m….  Heritage-ville will be the place to be for the family! Sled down Mt. Crumpit, LIVE Camel Rides, Spider Mountain, Walking in a Snowflake (Human Hamster Balls), and Pictures with Santa … ofcourse!  FOOD, FUN and GREAT MEMORIES at Heritage Village for the Holidays! 

Check out our website and  newsletter (e-mail us at to get on our e-mailing list) This will keep you informed of the details of “What’s Happening at Heritage Village”  and receive our Special Savings & Coupons .   Call 352-564-1400 for more information about the Village and events.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Heritage from the Heart - December 2010

Aunt B's Piano Recitals from the Past...

Being in the Heritage House so much these days, I have many flash backs of my childhood years. Piano lessons in Aunt B's studio was a BIG part of mine (and many children's weekly route) that grew up in Crystal River. I have seen or spoke to a few of my friends (her pupils) in recent times. I wanted to share a few pictures with you of some of Aunt B's pupils that our paths have crossed recently. The Allen & Hagerty girls were at Coach Dabney Day in November, at Heritage Village. Margie and Christi were my neighbors in Tropic Terrace growing up, and Christi is my neighbor again today! I had one picture of Dana Hagerty Nycz with another childhood friend George Buzby, at recent event for Coach Dabney. I found Cathy Sparkman Fladung on Facebook, she had come to mind when I heard of Mr. Bob Kennedy passing away in recent times. Which, by the way, was a WONDERFUL man! My heart goes out to the family. Anyway, Cathy was another pupil! Please forgiving me for not knowing all proper names and spellings, today and in future ... haha

I do hope you enjoy the pictures and forward the newsletter to those that would enjoy as well. If you have any pictures of piano recitals with My Aunt B... please share ... I would love to post!

Have a Merry Christmas and thank you for your support and encouragement with Heritage Village.

Laura Lou Tolle Fitzpatrick 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Heritage Village Happenings - November 2010

Heritage Village Happenings…

In 1982, 26 years ago, my brother and his wife (Huey and Kathy Tolle) took on their first challenge at renovating a Historic Home. This late 1800 treasure was our ancestor’s home place. My grandmother (Edna Eubanks Barco) was born in the front bedroom of this house.  Also the first automobile, in Crystal River, was owned by our great grandfather that lived there. The House was best known to be where local children came for Piano lessons from Mrs. Ada B Edwards (our Aunt B).  In our eyes, this home place was an important piece of history to preserve.  After renovations took place, a Country Gift Shop was born in the Heritage House in 1983. This was the beginnings of “The Shoppes of Heritage Village”.  Twenty-seven years later, our family is at it again with a Home Décor and gift Shoppe in the Heritage House.  If you would like to read more about the different businesses in the Heritage House go to and click on “My Heritage…from the Heart” November story.

NOVEMBER CALENDAR … Nov 6th,  Stone Crab Jam on Bayside of Citrus Avenue.  Parking is FREE.  Cameron Decker, playing his Sax from 2 till 4 at Heritage House. Nov 11th Dr. Richard Castellano will be giving a FREE Image Lift Seminar at Café on the Avenue at 1:00, Nov 12th, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Shoppes open till 7 p.m., A Brighton Open House at Cotton Club 10 till 7; Nov 13th, Market Day with Art & Coach Dabney Day team up with the Lions Club at the Train Depot for a Health Fair; Nov 20th,  Trash N Treasure (HUGE yard sale) and SuGaBuG Kids 1st Birthday (I hear LIVE ELEPHANT RIDES are in store). For Details about all of this and more go to or call 352-564-1400.

My Heritage from the Heart - November 2010

Over the years, the changes of Heritage Village, has been like the changing of the fall leaves. Many different, colorful, creative, businesses, has been a part of this charming Village for over 25 years, with Toni Chatman and I being one of them. Our business was in the building that was originally known as the "Livery Stable" and was located where the Café on the Avenue and MezMerEYES sit today. This Country Gift Shop was called "Simple Country Pleasures." I am sharing this because I swore I would never get into the retail business again. Well guess what, I lied, many many years later, here I am giving it a try again with family and friends in the Heritage House. Being in this position again can only take me back to the beginnings of how this all began. I thought it might be of interest to you who has been here in the past, so I am going to start with the Heritage House for this November 2010 Newsletter. Hope you enjoy!

In 1982, 26 years ago, my brother and his wife (Huey and Kathy Tolle) took on their first challenge at
renovating a Historic Home in the heart of Historic Downtown Crystal River. This late 1800 treasure had very special meaning to our family. It was our ancestor's home place...a piece of our history that we did not want to lose or forget. It was at this location that my grandmother (Edna Eubanks Barco) was born in the front bedroom. It was also at this home that the first automobile, in Crystal River, was owned by our great grandfather that lived there. This family home was best known of my generation as being where the local children came for piano and voice lessons from Mrs. Ada B. Edwards (our Aunt B). For these reasons and many more...this home place was an important piece history that we wanted to preserve, but also use in a unique way to help keep their memory and the historic downtown alive.

After renovations took place, a charming Country Gift Shop was born and ready for Business in the Heritage House in 1983. To Kathy and Huey's surprise, their new beginnings did not stop at just the
creation of the Heritage House, but they also found out they were expecting their third child, a daughter Jessica Jean Tolle. Being a full time mom of 3 made her realize that running a business at this time was going to have to take a back seat to motherhood. This is when Patty Williams approached them about putting in a Quilt shop in this Historic Treasure. Patty ran the quilt shop for many years and during her stay, another wonderful business decided to join her in July of 1986, by putting in "Cobble Stone Alley Antiques" in the original home of the Crystal River Library next door. Dot and her late husband, Rob Koehler, ran their wonderful Antique shop for a few years in this small cottage until Patty moved on to new opportunities with quilting, leaving the Heritage House to become the home of Dot and Robby's Antique shoppe, Cobblestone Alley Antiques. Dot was in the Village until 2002, leaving after her husband passed away. She did return, after a few years, working for Diana and Betsy at the Cotton Club and La Te Da. She now works part time for "All About Nature" in the Blue Cottage on Citrus Avenue. Dot was and still is the Grandmother figure of Heritage Village in my eyes ... she has always been so passionate about us and still is!

After Dot closed, the Heritage House has had a number of tenants. I will be honest, I may of forgotten some of the businesses & names but do recollect most... Downstairs they were: The Stork Shop (a Maturity & Children's Shop); another Antique shop called Heritage House Antiques; followed by Mary
Beth's Bridal & Formal Wear; the most recently being "All About Nature". The latter two still are still located in Heritage Village area. Upstairs has housed a few specialty shoppes as well through time, such as Antiques, Vintage Clothing and Antiques, Designer Glass Studio by Rose Mary, The Village office twice, Poe House Books for many years, The Paper Room and Classic Arts & Frame Shoppe in recent times.  

Today we have come full circle and are proud to announce "The Heritage House" Home Décor & Gifts is now family owned with a team of Creative Co-op friends involved. This specialty shop is a unique combination of creativity and style. I like to refer to it as "Shabby Sheek" because we have a mix of rustic displays & antiques complimented by each of our Creative Co-op's favorite companies, all of us with a different flare of style! Be sure to visit us for events, we will be offering specials and samplings! We are excited to start this new venture with family and friends and see what all the fuss is about! Visit us in the Heritage House of Heritage Village at 657 North Citrus Avenue. 352-564-1400.

Heritage Village Happenings…

In 1982, 26 years ago, my brother and his wife (Huey and Kathy Tolle) took on their first challenge at renovating a Historic Home in the heart of Historic Downtown Crystal River. This late 1800 treasure had very special meaning to our family.  It was our ancestor’s home place…a piece of our history that we did not want to lose or forget. It was at this location that my grandmother (Edna Eubanks Barco) was born in the front bedroom.  It was also at this home that the first automobile, in Crystal River, was owned by our great grandfather that lived there. This family home was best known of my generation as being where the local children came for Piano and Voice lessons from Mrs. Ada B Edwards (our Aunt B).  This homeThat was the beginnings of what is now The Shoppes of Heritage Village. Over 18 Specialty Shops on Heritage Side of Citrus Avenue.

NOVEMBER CALENDAR … Nov 6th,  Stone Crab Jam on Bayside of Citrus Avenue.  Parking is FREE at Heritage Village.  Cameron Decker, playing his Sax from 2 till 4 on the porch of Heritage House. Nov 11th Dr. Richard Castellano will be giving a FREE Image Lift Seminar at Café on the Avenue at 1:00, Nov 12th, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Shoppes open till 7 p.m., A Brighton Open House at Cotton Club 10 till 7; Nov 13th, Market Day with Art & Coach Dabney Day team up with the Lions Club at the Train Depot for a Health Fair; Nov 20th,  Trash N Treasure (HUGE yard sale) and SuGaBuG Kids 1st Birthday (I hear LIVE ELEPHANT RIDES are in store). For Details about all of this and more go to or call 352-564-1400.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Heritage from the Heart - June 2010 Ode to Dad

Ode to Dad

I’m a Daddy’s Girl

Ever since I can remember I have been a Daddy’s girl.  As a little girl growing up in Tropic Terrace, I remember most every night, my Dad would lay on the floor in front of the TV, a couple of big pillows propped against the coffee table (which I believe we still have the table plus the couch in storage) and I would snuggle up under his arm, laying my head on his chest for a full night of TV watching.  My favorite night of all was Sundays…at 7 o’clock … Wonderful World of Color (I think “Color” changed to” Disney” later) Sunday night Disney movie (lasted an hour and started at 7 p.m.  (I think it started out on ABC and then went to NBC for some reason).   We only really had 3 main stations then, ABC, NBC, CBS…later came cable on 44.  Anyway, I had to be ready and in position before Tinker Bell got the show started (anybody who is around the age of 50 knows exactly what I mean)… man those were the days…I bet I am not the only one that thinks that way…

Another strong memory I have of Dad and Lou times was Dance class night from Miss Marion School of Dance.  At that time, Miss Marion’s studio was in the back corner of Sun Plaza downtown on Hwy 19, where 3 Sisters Antiques is today (with the Wash House Laundromat  next door)  Mom had a conflict that night, so Dad was in charge of picking me up on dance night.  Dance night was steak and french fries night too. He would let me bring a friend home from dance and we would swim while he grilled. Great memories…

As I grew up, I always took for granted the safe secure feeling I had.  I was never scared or worried about anything…dad always took care of everything.  Even something as silly as locking the house every night before we went to bed…remembering back…I always remember Dad walking around the house locking up…even still today he does the same routine.  Is that odd?…I guess not… just made me feel safe.

Dealing with friends…there were many occasions,  Christi Allen, best bud and next door neighbor then and now, would come over to spend the night…most of those  nights, dad would have to walk Christi home, in the middle of the night, because she decided it was time to go home…ha-ha… he was so good about that. Ha-ha..sorry Chris…just had to share   Blessings…

Getting older, I decided to go to school at Citrus High School, my Sophomore & Senior year (transferring back to Crystal River in between).  Dad would take me back and forth my Sophomore year because he was the Property Appraiser for Citrus Count and his office was located in the Inverness Courthouse, so it worked out perfectly.  It was at that time I took up his favorite sport, tennis.  Dad played most anything and played it well.  He was the club champion, from what I recall, at Inverness Golf and Country Club. I also became great friends with Brenda Bellamy Blitch when I went to Citrus (better known as Bean to our family).  She was also a great tennis player. I improved but not as good as Bean!  He encouraged me to take lessons and practice, practice, practice.  He was always proud of me, win or lose.

As we grew up, my Dad always insisted on singing the prayer before at our Holiday family gatherings …

Be present at our table Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
These creatures bless and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee….Amennnnnnn…..
My brother Huey always sings most the prayer off key….not sure if he can carry a tune or not because he is always silly during that prayer…ha-ha.  If any of the Tolle/Fitzpatrick family reads this, they know exactly what I am talking about…ha-ha…sorry Hugh…but you know it’s true…ha-ha

Dad did just about everything imaginable….from the professional side to the creative side.  Being the County Property Appraiser, Bank President, Real Estate Broker & owner, Builder, developer, sang at weddings & funerals, sang in choirs & solo at church, served on Crystal River City Council to the peanut cookie baker, bread maker, re -caining antique chair seats, refinishing antique pieces …and the list goes on and on…but most of all he was just my Dad…my hero …the greatest man I know…I love you Dad!  Your pixie…Lou

Heritage Village Happenings - September 2010


I don’t know about you, but just last week, as my husband and I sipped our morning cups of coffee, overlooking our beautiful Kings Bay and then again on my late afternoon walks with my dog, down to the 3rd street peer … I started feelin’that feelin’…some of you know exactly what I am talking about…a slight breeze…and the heat is just not so hot… that’s right… fall is teasing us and ohhhh does it feel good!  For many years I have been a part of entertaining our community with events in the heart of Historic Downtown Crystal River, but I must say the Fall events are my favorites!   Being 5th generation, from a family that lives and breathes community involvement, my passion has been entertaining the family in a wholesome environment.   I love surrounding  myself with creative minds, that have a love for Details.  That is why I am where I am today, Project Co-ordinator and Developer of Heritage Village, surrounded by wonderful creative business owners that feel the same way I do.  So mark your calendars and join us for the following upcoming events for September. SuGaBug  play dates go Around the World on Tuesdays(a cultural experience for mom & tots) Market Day with Art,  Saturday, September 11th   (Produce, Plants, Artistic Talent are invited to participate).   Trash N Treasure on Heritage House Grounds, Saturday September 18th  8 a.m. till Noon (treasures new and old);  “Let’s Talk Turkey” (canned food drive for local food banks) starting September 11th thru November 13th and Breast Cancer Awareness Event is September 30th, sponsored by The Cotton Club and Café on the Avenue.  Coming in October…The 23rd Annual Scarecrow Fest  on Oct 23 rd … details next month.  If you would like more information about events and/or Cottage rentals,  contact me at 352-564-1400.

Laura Lou Fitzpatrick
Project Co-ordinator & Developer
The Shoppes of Heritage Village

My Heritage from the Heart - October 2010

Beulah Katherine (Kay) Barco Tolle turns 85

My Mom & Dad
Mom blowing out her candles
On Saturday, September 18th2010, my mom turned 85 years old.  Mom is aging beautifully and is as spry as she was at 50.  We planned a Tailgating theme Birthday Party at Huey & Kathy’s House to watch her favorite team, The Florida Gators, play football.  Mom went out and bought matching Gator shirts, for she and dad to wear for this festive occasion.  The family brought tailgating themed foods and Birthday Cake to celebrate!  I can only hope I am half the amazing woman she is as I grow older!  I love you mom!

Grammer (mom) with her youngest Granddaughter Elisha & great-granddaughter Lilly, all sporting the Gator attire!

My Heritage from the Heart - September 2010

reprint coming soon. sorry

My Heritage from the Heart - August 2010

I am Laura Lou Tolle Fitzpatrick and I have been invited to write a monthly column about Heritage Village Happenings. My family created Heritage Village over 30 years ago, starting with the Heritage House. The Heritage House is the birth place of my grandmother, Edna Eubanks Barco, and built in the 1800's. My grandmothers sister, Ada B and husband Harvey Edwards lived there for many  years of their marriage, after the girls grew up. Aunt B was well know in our community for teaching piano and voice in the Heritage House. To keep their memory and heritage alive, we chose to create Heritage Village with the estate they left our family.  Today, the Heritage Village District houses over 15 unique specialty shops on North Citrus Avenue. I would discribe us as an Artsy group that has an eye for detail. The Village people not only offer unique treasures and experiences but also events that make a lasting memory.

Some of the events we are known for are: The 24th Annual Scarecrow Fest, Trash N Treasure, Let's Talk Turkey, Save the Ta Ta's, Let it Snow, "Egg"stravaganza, Red, White and Blueberry Day/ Patriotic Parade on Wheels, Football Fun Day, Back to School "Kick Off", Friday Night Lights, Market Day with Art, All About Me, Playdates at SuGaBug Kids, and the list keeps growing…

The Events to look for in August are Friday Night Lights, Aug. 13th, Classic Rock DJ/Tom Zapp will fill the air with outdoor music, while shoppes stay open till 7 p.m..  Market Day with Art will be from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 14th. This event is looking for local farmers, artists, and crafters.  Thursday, August 26th is "All About Me".  The Cotton Club and is joined by other shoppes that have speakers to educate those who have an interest in health and beauty! Dr. Richard Castellano, Plastic Surgeon, is the featured speaker for Cotton Club.

If you would like to know more of the "details" about "What's Happening on the Avenue", send your e-mail address to and receive our newsletter.

Laura Lou Tolle Fitzpatrick
Project Coordinator & Developer
The Shoppes of Heritage Village

My Heritage from the Heart - July 2010

My Grandmother… 
better known as MEMA

My “Mema” was born on July 1, 1902. Her birthday was always easy for me to remember…she was on the 1st, my brother, Huey, was the 3rd and of course the 4th of July we will not forget, then Shane, my son, was July 6th… July was a VERY BUSY Birthday month for the Tolle family, when she was alive. As long as I can remember, Mema would never tell her age. Today, of course, I can figure it out…but back then, we really didn’t know the year each elder family member was born, so it was pretty easy for us to just let it go… Every birthday she would tell us she was 39…that was just that… 39 it was!

Mema was a VERY strong and spry woman. She was the rock of the family for many, many years. I was young when my grandfather passed away, so as I grew up, Mema was always involved in our world. She was the younger sister of Ada B. Edwards (my Aunt B), so when I was younger, I remember her coming over from Inverness to stay at the home place (now Heritage House). The long back room was where the dining room was (fireplace on one end), just off the kitchen, was where she slept. Simply a day bed, up against the wall, tucked out of the way…nothing fancy…just somewhere to lay her head. I also remember on Saturday nights, too many to count, we would watch the Lawrence Welk Show at our house, Mema’s or Aunt B and Uncle Harvey’s. Of course being too cool for the tunes from Lawrence Welk, I always thought it was such punishment to have to sit and listen…but honestly, my parents enjoy the reruns today and when I walk into their house with it on, the rush of memories come back…a nice feeling…takes me back … I am sure you know what I mean!

Around elementary age, I remember Mema’s house strongly for lunch. Many of my family worked in the Court House in Inverness, so they all would come to Mema’s for lunch. Man the country cookin’ back in those days was finger lickin’ good! Of course… the only way this was possible (for many years Mema worked at the Court House too) was because they had help in the kitchen and her name was Flossy. Always a large meal… rest a spell, and then back to work they’d go!
As I grew older, Mema loved to take me shopping in Ocala on special occasions. We spent a lot of time at Belk Lindsey on Pine Street, I believe? They had the best shoe department! Haha Two of my MOST favorite stops came at the end…Morrison’s Cafeteria, on Silver Springs Blvd…NOTHING will ever compare to their fried shrimp and tarter sauce (which my hubby got the recipe by googling it and makes it for me on occasion) and then stopping downtown to pick up a Lemon Meringue pie from the Ocala Bakery on the Square, to bring home to the family. That Meringue must have been 4 inches in height…noooo exaggeration…I swear! haha
Baking oatmeal cookies were Mema’s trademark. When she would come to visit our house or Aunt B’s…she would very seldom show up without a tin of her oatmeal cookies for the family. It was a drier cookie made with Quaker oats…not like anything I have tasted today. That reminds me…I am going to hunt for that recipe!

As it was time to finish up high school, I decided to graduate from Citrus High. Making this decision, I decided I wanted to live with Mema in Inverness, my senior year. She was pleased and welcomed the company! I can’t believe I am mentioning food again (no wonder I love food so much…haha) but two of my favorite dishes she would make were Tuna Casserole and…LIVER and ONIONS with mashed potatoes and peas…I know…I was an odd child… what can I say..haha Anyway…it was a great year and wouldn’t of traded it for the world!
During this time, my strongest memory of Mema was at night before she went to bed…I will ALWAYS remember her saying her prayers, not only out load but on her knees at her bed side. Our bedrooms were close and I could hear her praying for each member of the family, every night! She was definitely a Child of God that made a HUGE impression on her granddaughter. Another woman that made a huge impression on me was her next door neighbor, Ruby Kelly. A God fearing, Pentecostal, wife of a preacher man…I remember her faith was so strong! Women of God…no doubt they were.

My parents , in the meantime, built a house on Hunting Lodge Drive, in Inverness, on the Lake. I had left for college, so Mema moved in with my parents. Years later, they all moved back to Crystal River and eventually built the house my parents reside in now. Mema lived with them until she passed away on July 23, 1995. It was rather ironic that Mema passed away at the age of 93, those favorite numbers of hers! I know she is in heaven, watching over us always!

Strolling Down Memory Lane 

In the Citrus County Chronicle
Wednesday, March 28, 1990

Written by Ester Duncan
Chronicle writer

Edna Barco is one of the county’s best known fourth generation natives. Her roots are deep in local history.
A spunky lady who refuses to reveal her age, this daughter of John and Beulah Eubanks was born in one of Crystal River’s most historic homes. The big, rambling dwelling, built almost 100 years ago, is now known as Heritage House and is still part of the family holdings.
Miss Edna spoke of her mother’s parents. “James and Virginia Miller were natives who settle near Crystal River when it was just a crossroads,” she said. “They lived way back in the woods about where the new mall will be located.”
An 1884 list of businesses in Crystal River includes the Miller’s general merchandise store. But the couple was residing there even earlier than that, according to Miss Edna. “Right after the Civil War,” she related, “freed slaves came here looking for work. One of our oldest and best known black families, the Scrivens, arrived then and got along fine with my grandparents. Their children worked for my mother and father, and a granddaughter helped me raise my daughter, Kay. They’re fine folks.”
Mrs. Eubanks and several Millers are listed as founders of one of Crystal River’s earliest churches, the Baptist Church, established in 1904. The Millers donated the original tract of land for the church and a Miller served as the first pastor.
Seated in the home of her daughter, Mrs. Kay Tolle, Miss Edna recalled some of there childhood memories. One of them was the day her father, John Eubanks, went to Brooksville to buy the first car in town and everyone turned out to watch for his return. “I was just a little girl then and was feeling sorry for myself because I had pink eye and had been sent to bed. Miss Edna remembered peeking out the window again and again. Finally she heard the cheers of the crowd and looked out to see a bright red car – a Buick. “My father was at the wheel,” she said. “He didn’t know a thing about a car. They showed him how to start the motor and gave him one driving lesson, then he brought it back himself.” Miss Edna wasn’t sure of the year, but the first automobiles to be registered in Citrus County were in 1912 at a cost of $2 each. Eubanks’ name is listed among the owners.
“Before that they had buggies,” she said, starting to chuckle. “One time I crawled into Dr. Bennett’s buggy and was caught drinking from his bottles of medicine. It didn’t seem to hurt me.”
One of her favorite jaunts was to stop in at her father’s fish house where the spring’s condomiums are located today. Late in the afternoon a launch would return pulling a number of row boats loaded with oysters. “Often there would be singing as the oysters were shucked,” she remembered. “And someone would hand me one of those oysters in the cracked shell. Oh, they were good.”
Summers vacations were especially happy times for a little girl, she said. Her family spent them on Shell Island, an island they owned near the gulf. “I remember how I looked forward to summers.” Miss Edna said. “I’d pack my doll trunk way in advance. The families would stay on the island while the daddies went back and forth to work every day.” The fun she remembered most were the fish fries and oyster roasts. “And when the tide was high we’d go swimming.”
An incident that became a family joke was the time the only cow that was branded as Miss Edna’s wandered onto a track of the Coastline Railroad. Cattle ran free in those days, even through the dusty streets of Crystal River,” Miss Edna explained, saying that the animals were rounded up and separated by brand every fall. “The Coastline paid my daddy for killing the cow and I gave my folks the money to put in electric lights.”
Miss Edna said she didn’t know too much about her father’s people, the Eubanks. “His parents died when he was just a little boy and he was raised by another family. He didn’t have much of an education, but he was good at figures. If you owed him money he knew exactly how much it was five years later.”
She remembered that her mother served meals in the big house the family lived in. “That was customary in those days,” she said. “Hotels and restaurants were scarce in little towns.”
Her mother’s first husband, a Mr. Proctor Willis, died after the couple had built the big house and had a daughter, whom Miss Edna referred to as Ada B. “My half-sister was 15 years older than I” she said. “She used to sew for me and fix my hair, and she was an excellent musician with a beautiful voice.”
Later, Miss Edna traveled to the Carolinas to attend high school because there were no accredited schools in Citrus County at that time and her sister was teaching there.
One Christmas vacation when Miss Edna was home she was invited to a typical gathering of young people. A popular chicken and rice dish was served which everyone called a “purlieu.” “Someone told me who Hugh Barco was,” she remembered, “and that was the first time I met him. The following summer when I came home from school we started going together.” She laughed. “I was a friend of his girl friend and they’d had a squabble. She refused to make up. First thing she knew he was in love with me and we were married the following year.”
Miss Edna said that her husband’s people were old settlers who arrived here prior to 1873. That was the year Nick Barco, her future father-in-law, was appointed Crystal River’s postmaster. He was among those who travelled to Tallahassee to lobby for the division of the Hernando County into Citrus, Pasco
and Hernando. “Folks in this area got tired of traveling sandy trails to Brooksville, then the county seat, “ Miss Edna explained. In 1889, her father-in-law was a pointed to serve as the county’s first treasurer.
Miss Edna’s husband served as mayor of Crystal River two terms in the late 1920’s and early ‘30s. Miss Edna herself worked in the county government service for 38 years. Back in those days when women were expected to stay home and do the ironing she was helping run things as the county assessor’s office. Her husband served as tax assessor from 1945 until his death in 1966, then she finished out his term, staying on to help her son-in-law, Ed Tolle, who was elected to the office and served eight years.
Mrs. Anne May Hensley, who retired in 1988 after 31 years of service as a clerk in the tax assessor’s office, remembers the Barco’s well. “They taught me everything I know,” she said. “They were grand folks to work for.” She recalled some for the early addressograph equipment and the jamming of metal address plates and property descriptions. “Today’s office equipment and that the Barco’s worked with are as different as night and day.”
Mrs. Tolle said of her mother, “I think the reason my mother has stayed so youthful for her age is that she worked with the public so many years. As a result, she’s still very interested in everything that’s going on. She’s always asking my husband about current events.”
When asked about some of the interesting family antiques in her daughter’s home, Miss Edna seemed disinterested. Instead, she brought out a handsome, colored photograph of her grandchildren and their families and concentrated on naming each one of them.
“I had three grandchildren, but Tuffy died when he was 28 years old. But I still have two, one of them is Hugh Eubanks Tolle and his wife Kathy who have three children.” She spoke their names slowly and distinctly: Brandon, Ryan and Jessica.”
After studying the photograph a moment, she continued: “And I have a granddaughter, Laura Lou Fitzpatrick, Kay’s and Tolle’s daughter. She’s married to Pat Fitzpatrick of Inverness who is in real estate and appraising with Tolle and Huey.” She paused and named their children as if she was counting rosary beads: Shane, Erin, Elaina, Elisha. “Those are the rest of my great-grandchildren.” She said, her voice overflowing with the love that only another grandmother knows.
The past with all its memories is precious to Miss Edna. More precious yet is the future – the future of her great-grandchildren.

My Heritage from the Heart - June 2010

My grandfather, through my mom's eyes... 

I am picking up where I left off in May, and also writing about some of my Mom’s memories of her Dad, being June 20, 2010 is Father’s Day.
Hugh Caffey Barco
Katherine B. Tolle's late father
Mom’s father’s name was Hugh Caffey Barco.  Caffey was his mother’s maiden name.  He was born Sept 19, 1897 and died February 14, 1966. He was one of Katherine and Nickabud Barco’s five children.  Four boys and a girl, with Hugh (granddaddy) being the oldest, Claude, Paul, Loch and Minnie (“Sister” was her nickname).  Nickabud (their father) was born May 6, 1847 and died May 22 1927.  Before he was married to Katherine Caffey, he was married to Florida Allen (from the Lecanto area), and had two boys.  Florida passed away at an early age.  

From the stories Mom was told, the Barco family owned approximately the whole block and more, on Crystal Street that houses today the home of Douglas Author Nicolson and others on that block (between the Train Depot and the Crystal River Middle School).  As time passed, they sold parcels of the property.  The home of the Nicolson’s was part of their original home place, from stories Mom remembers.   The original house was two stories, and there was a fire at some point of granddaddy’s life that took part of the house.  Many years later, the Holmes family lived there and raised their boys, Robert and Bill.  It wasn’t until recent years that Doug Nicolson bought the house and restored it, adding a large addition to the back.

Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of history on Granddaddy’s youth but I will pick back up when he married Edna Eubanks (Mom’s mother and my Mema)  After Mema and Granddaddy were married, a house was built for them, which is now the home of “Cakes & Creations” on Heritage Village Grounds, behind the family home place (Heritage House).   From what Mema (Mom’s mom) told her, she thinks  they lived in the “Barco Cottage” for a few years and this was the home where mom was brought to from the hospital.   Remember that both grandparents lived close; in front of their home was the Eubanks, and behind their home was the Barco’s. 

There was a period of time that Granddaddy was the Crystal River Mayor.  The records show from 1926-1927 and took a break and then from 1929-1932.

Mom’s childhood was during the time of the Great Depression.  Business in downtown Crystal River was not good enough to support Hugh and his family.  This forced him to find other work in the Gainesville area, where his sister, Minnie lived.  Minnie had a nice 2 story home two blocks away from the University of Florida.  The 2nd story of her home was used to rent out to boys that attended college at UF.  

Just as Granddaddy found work in the Gainesville area, he had a bad stroke. Mom was around 7 years old at the time. The family moved to Gainesville to be near his doctors and hospital.  Mema helped Minnie run the house full of College boys and later ran a Café, to help make ends meet.  Mom did not like school in Gainesville, so they decided to send Beulah Katherine back to Crystal River to live with her grandparents while Granddaddy continued to recover and work there in Gainesville.   

Granddaddy made a great recovery eventually and they moved back to Citrus County, but on the eastside.   During this time, James Conner won Clerk of the Circuit Court.  Mema took a job, working for him, in charge of all of the County Commissioners.  At this time, mom started school in the 4th grade.

Granddaddy ran a few businesses in Inverness.  In Hernando, he ran a gas station and restaurant for some time. The location was across the street from the lake, just past the only light in Hernando, I believe.  Part of that building is still there, and is made out of Rock.  Later, he also ran a Boxing arena in downtown Inverness, which is no longer there, but was located somewhere between the old movie theatre and the new Courthouse today. 

In 1944, Granddaddy decided to run for Citrus County Tax Assessor and won. Mom felt confident he was Tax Assessor for over 20 years.  Mema (Edna) worked alongside him during that time.  Another funny memory Mom recalls was as you are driving up on the Old Court House, there was a small area with a large Oak tree on the left.  Granddaddy, James Conner and other old timers were known to sit and play Dominoes for hours after work.  It was not unusual for these men to flick lighters and matches to finish up the competition after dark.

Also during this time, Granddaddy started Barco & Daniels in Crystal River.  It was an Oyster and Fish business where Charlie’s Fish House is today.  It had an apartment over the top of it.  Later in time, when my Dad came in the picture, he helped him run Barco and Daniels. 

When Granddaddy took office he had the idea of collecting a tax for the sole purpose of acquiring a hospital.  He worked with Senator James E. Conner to pass implementing legislation. A three mill tax was started in 1949 for this purpose and Citrus Memorial Hospital became a reality.

Some of the events that happened during granddaddy’s term in office was the beginnings of the Beverly Hills development.  The new Florida Power Plant was built in Citrus County, and US Hwy 19 was complete.  

Towards the end of his last term as Tax Assessor, Granddaddy had a heart attack and passed away February 14, 1966.  Because Mema worked alongside Granddaddy as Tax Assessor, she was appointed by the Governor Haydon Burns, to finish up his term.  Because Dad helped Mema in the Tax Assessor office ( when Granddaddy got sick), it was only natural for him to decide to try his hand at politics. He ran for Tax Assessor and won, Mema assisted him for a while. My dad was Tax Assessor from 1966 – 1976.  Today Granddaddy (Hugh C. Barco), Mema (Edna E. Barco) and Dad (Edgar E. Tolle Jr.) pictures hang on the wall, along with other Tax Assessors (property appraisers) in the Crystal River office as well as the Inverness office located in the Courthouse Annex.

Granddaddy was a good man… a Deacon of the Presbyterian Church, while Mema sang in the choir.  They lived next door to the church, on S. Osceola, in downtown Inverness for many years.  Citrus Memorial bought their property (their home was on) and also the Presbyterian church in recent years.  Their home was moved to another location and is still in the Inverness area.