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