Durrancetrans.doc Tape 1 Side A – due to technical recorder problems sound can not be presented on Tape 1 – to hear Mr. Durrance scroll below to Tape 2.
Kent: Today is December 11, 2001. This is Judy Kent speaking from the Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast, Florida. Joining me today are Patricia and Thomas Durrance.
First of all, thank you Patsy and Tommy for joining me today. I know that your grandparents were all pioneers in Flagler County and I would love to know a little more about them, especially about the Moody family.
Patsy: Well, my Grand Pa, Isaac I. Moody came from Georgia down to here. Then he brought in his brothers [Robert and George]. He was here for a few years and then he went back and he married my grandmother [Dora Lee]. She was up in Georgia, and he brought her down. At that time there wasn’t Bunnell; Bunnell wasn’t there. They lived in what they called “The Saplings” which is go out [County Road] 11 like you are going to Deland How far is it out there?
Tommy: It is about five miles west of Bunnell.
Patsy: It is about five miles west of Bunnell and north of Highway 11. He had turpentine business, and she [grandmother] was the only white woman there. It was all colored people. She told me this story: When Grand Pa came down they had people that had worked for them up in Georgia. He brought this little boy and his name was Alfonso. So he went by [the name] Alfonso Moody. [Laughter] Alfonso’s daddy was going to sell him, but Grand Pa said, “No, you’re not selling him, I’ll just take him with me.” So he brought him down, and Alfonso was just maybe nine or ten years old, so he stayed down here with Grand Pa.
Then, I don’t know how long they lived out in the Saplings, then when they moved into what is Bunnell they lived west of the railroad in south Bunnell. There was some houses there beyond where the Masonic Hall is. Grand Ma lived there, and that is where my Aunt Gladys was born and where my mother, Leona was born. Other cousins of my Grand Pa’s came: they could see that there was potential there. They came down; there was different ones, the Deens I know that one name. Like I said, it was turpentine is what they were doing.
Then how this all come about I have no idea, but later he formed Bunnell and they moved into what is Bunnell now. He had a bank and he and Major Lambert that’s what they called him, Major Lambert they were in business together in the Bunnell Development Co. They had this thing advertised by a man by the name of Mr. Vendenius in Chicago who advertised had a paper. They advertised, “Come to this County, it is booming.” They had excursions bringing people down to see it.
And then Grand Pa was on the St. Johns County Commission until they made Flagler County, Flagler County [in 1917]. So, he was the first Representative of Flagler County [to the State Legislature]. He was interested in seeing that the County grew; he was interested in that. In 1918 he was up at the legislature during the flu epidemic. He caught the flu and he came home and he died at home at the age of about forty-four. In the meantime he had built another house they had lived in Bunnell and they moved out to where he built a big house and another one for his brother, Bob on the Brick Road to Flagler Beach. His other brother, George, he was interested more in Flagler Beach which was known as Ocean City. Grand Pa sort of just let him do that and he stayed over on this side of the County.
Click here to see the original Bunnell Development Company charter dated 3 June 1909 in Durrance collection.
Kent: Do you remember him at all? No, you weren’t even born.
Patsy: No, my mother was only about ten when Grand Pa died. (Moody obituary and John Clegg remarks.) Like I say, he was just interested in seeing things grow. He and Major Lambert offered a piece of land in Bunnell and built the church and offered it to any denomination that wanted it. Well, the Methodists took him up on the offer. So they built that [church] which isn’t here anymore but it was right in the same place [as the present Bunnell Methodist Church].
Judy: A new sanctuary?
Patsy: Yes, it was where the Fellowship Hall is now.
Tommy: The built the parsonage too, didn’t they?
Patsy: Yes, they built the parsonage right next to it. But he I am just trying to think of some of the things that Momma told me that he did. I know that he came down and he bought this land for a nickel an acre. [laughter]
Judy: Oh my! Some of the books say that he ended up with about 30,000 acres he and Lambert together.
Tommy: It was the Bunnell Development Co. Subdivision. When you are surveying you have got to relate back to that even in this day and time.
Patsy: You still have to get clear deeds sometimes.
Judy: We will get back to some more of it. Tommy, we know a little bit about your family from the interview that we did with your sister, Norma Turner. I’ve read in Mr. Clegg’s book about your family, but it wasn’t clear to me just when it was that your Grand Father George Durrance came from San Mateo. It must have been before the turn of the century.
Tommy: Yes, it had to be, but I am not clear on that either, what year he came.
Judy: Surely before 1900.
Tommy: Yes, it had to be in the 1800s.
Judy: So you two are descended from very early pioneers in the County. What do you remember from your earliest memories of being in the county? What was it like for you as children here?
Patsy: I didn’t move here until I was in the seventh grade?
Judy: Where were you before that?
Patsy: I lived over in Tampa. I was born in Missouri. After my Grand Father died my grandmother remarried then they moved to Tampa. My Dad was from Missouri and he was the mailman. That’s how Mom and Dad met. We moved up there or they moved up there and that is where I was born. Then my dad died when I was twelve and we moved back to Tampa with Grandma. Then we moved over here and I think I was in the seventh grade when I moved over here.
Judy: She came because there was family here?
Patsy: Yes, she remarried you know. But I remember from then on how I loved it! Because when we lived in Missouri it was a small town not as small as Bunnell, but still small. Everybody knew everybody. Then after Dad died and we moved to Tampa; that was a big place. I made it through, but I didn’t really like it. When I moved back over here, everybody I would see would say, “We’re cousins.” I went home and I told Mamma, “You know we’re kin to everybody in this county!” She said, “Just about, honey.” That made me feel good to have family, it would be distant, distant cousins, but still we still do that. It was just a nice small place. We knew just about everybody and all the kids knew each other and we did things together. It didn’t matter whether you was seven years old or whether you was thirteen years old. We just all joined in; there wasn’t that many of us.
Judy: You lived in Bunnell?
Patsy: No, we lived at Flagler Beach and rode the school bus over there to the Bunnell School. It was a good place for a child to grow up. I’m glad that our two daughters, it was still small enough to have that “home town” feeling. They went our youngest daughter didn’t but our oldest daughter went to the same school that we had gone to. Tommy could probably tell you more about his childhood here.
Judy: [Tommy] you were on a farm, right?
Tommy: Yes, in fact, we moved from the airport, that is where our settlement [homestead] was. We had a little farm over there where the high school is now in that vicinity there. We had a big two-story house and a big barn, a big butcher pen with a blacksmith shop on the end of it. We really had a close-knit family. Whenever you went in to eat your dinner or supper, you didn’t cut the fool around the table or nothing. My father, he sat on one end of the table and my mother sat on the other end and we sat on benches around there. Just like I said, whenever you went to eat you could discuss things, what was going on through the day but you didn’t cut the fool at the dinner table. It was always, “Pass me this, and pass me that.” You didn’t reach for it. Our family was real close that way. We were brought upright.
We had our first churches at our house with the Mormons. They would come and stay with us for a week and we would hold church there on Sundays there at the house. Everybody would either walk or come in. That’s where I was raised, there, then during the war [WWII] we moved to Bunnell.
I got to thinking here just a while back I was sitting in the back yard and I got to thinking that of all the years that we lived there you didn’t have ice, you didn’t have a refrigerator. You couldn’t keep nothing. There was no deep freeze, so what we did, we prepared our food. When you grew your sweet ‘taters you put them in “banks”. You would put down a layer of pine straw; a layer of sweet potatoes, pine straw, sweet potatoes and then you covered that. They kept year round, but we would grow a crop every year. Everything you put up like that, even our pork. We had some hogs and cattle. Your cattle when you butchered one of those to bring to the market in Bunnell to sell to Mr. Bankston, the butcher. We ate what we didn’t sell off of that beef. But our pork, now, we would take and we had a smoke house there at the house. We would kill two or three hogs at one time and we would take and smoke that meat just curing it. You cured it with salt and smoking, which made it quite rank, so you had to par-boil it before you ate it (to get the salt out of it).
Judy: Who would do the butchering?
Tommy: Just the family, my father did and us boys.
Patsy: Tell her about when you lived out there and come in on the Brick Road
Tommy: Yes, I’m getting up to that. We grew everything you know, but we didn’t have fertilizer back then. On the farm there we would take at a certain time of the year and we would build fires inside this field. The cows would come in there and we would build fires for the smoke. The cows would come inside there and they would take and lay around that smoke and stuff to get rid of the mosquitoes and stuff like that. They would just lay down and whenever they get up you know the first thing a cow does when it gets up, it goes to the bathroom. Well, that was our fertilizer for our fields at that time. We would cut that in and then we would plant our crops and so forth. We would grow our corn, we would grow watermelons, and peas and a big sugar cane patch we always had.
A certain time of the year we had one big cane grinding. Everybody come out of Bunnell to the big cane grinding. We had a big grinder that ground the cane and we got the juice and that was all in a day’s and night’s time. We got the juice and we had a big boiler. And when you put the juice in there you had to keep that [fire] going. Then we made syrup out of that. We put the syrup in five gallon and gallon jugs. All the men and the boys and the kids and a lot of the women, but mostly men well they would come out to the cane grinding, that was the thing. And the men they were all in the back there, they would have a five-gallon jug of moon shine that was un-corked. So, they was drinking moonshine and that cane juice (a lot of times it will make you go to the bathroom a lot) so, a bunch of them was going to the bathroom a lot. And some of them went back to Bunnell staggering and some of them stayed all night there because they couldn’t make it back to Bunnell. But that was the big event, is the cane grinding. My Grandpa, he would just stay with it, he and my Dad you would test that syrup every so often and whenever it got to a certain point then you knew it was through and you pulled the fire out from under it. But that was a whole day and up into the night affair.
Judy: It was a social event, too.
Tommy: Yes, it was social. And whenever on Saturdays my father, he was working [during the week] but mainly one of the things that I can remember is if there was a few things we had to do over at the field we called it the field, not the farm like go and plant some corn then when it ended up that day at noon [on Saturday] my Mother would take me and my Grand Pa and she would give us a good bath. I would go over a lot of times and help him. Well, we was planting corn, I won’t never forget that. He would pull the hoe back and you would drop two, just two grains of corn in that hole. Then I would take my foot and I would kick it back and pat it over. Of course, you didn’t have shoes back then. Then he would go to the next, and we would do so many rows of corn. He sez, “Well, Tom when we get this bucket planted we will go to the house and get cleaned up and then we will go to Bunnell.” That was the tradition then. But he didn’t know that every time we got to the end of the row he would start doing something else around there and when he did, I would dig a hole at the end of the row and I would take a handful of corn and put it in there and cover it up. Well, as time went on my Grand Pa found out about the corn when all of it come up at one time. I had just put it in there by the hand fulls to get rid of that bucket of corn so we could go home and get ready to go to Bunnell. [laughter]
Then, we didn’t have no transportation, so we would get cleaned up and he and I would walk to Bunnell. It was three and one half miles and that wasn’t nothing. But he and I would walk there. I would walk with him every Saturday, to Bunnell. Every now and then somebody would come along in a vehicle and pick us up and give us a ride with them. But most generally you walked. Then later on in the afternoon my mother and father would come in. They would come in with a horse and wagon; it wasn’t a buggy, it was a wagon a four- wheel wagon. They hitched the old horse around in the back of the grocery store; there was places to hitch your horses. Then we stayed there ‘til around twelve o’clock. Everybody came to town in those days and they sat around on the benches around the drug store there just talking some of them playing checkers, but mostly talking. It was a get together of all the peoples throughout the whole County. They would meet there and just mingle and have their conversations and their get-to-gethers just what was going on in the County and stuff they would all get together there.
Then, I never will forget, when you think about it too, back then the Depression come in at that time. That was hard, but we didn’t have too bad a time because we grew our own stuff, we had our own meat and the only thing you would need was your staple stuff like your canned goods, tomatoes and so forth. My Daddy was working on the WPA. Men would come by at that time, about four or five of them. They would all get together and they walked right on in to Bunnell and they worked for the WPA, which was fifty cents a day [wages] that they got. They built the Community Center there in Bunnell. That was built by the WPA.
Before then though I would get 25 cents on Saturday. That bought me a hamburger there at the little lunch stand and a cold drink. Then, I had enough for the picture show. The main thing you had to save back for was that picture show. You would go to the picture show and after that was over with some other boys and me, we would play “Capture the Flag” all around the old Court House which is there now. We would play around that and pretty soon everybody would just give out. Some of them was leaving, going home.
Whenever I got through I would always my Mother always knew where to find me because we had an old barber there named Dad Sedesse. He was there, and he was crippled, but he had two chairs he had three chairs but one was over next to the wall that he never did use. So whenever my Mother and Father got ready to go they had done loaded up the wagon and everything and in the meantime he would give my Mother five dollars to buy groceries for the week. You didn’t come to town during the week. My Dad did working, but you didn’t come to town during the week then; you would have to buy things that would last you the full week. So she had five dollars. Well, one of my brothers and myself I couldn’t pick it up, I was too small it would take two of my biggest brothers to pick up that box of groceries and put it in the wagon. Then after everything closed up my Mother would always come and look for me in that barber’s chair, coiled up in that barber’s chair. Then we got in that horse wagon and Grand Pa was with us and we would all proceed to go to the house which was three and one half miles. That was your big Saturdays, everybody just got together on Saturdays back then.
Judy: Sounds like fun.
Tommy: Yes, it was. It was good living, good clean living.
Patsy: And you went to school
Tommy: Yes, but we ought to talk too, about where we lived back then. We moved from there in the 1950’s because the Navy built the air base there, which is the airport now. That was a Navy base. They built the base there so we moved to Bunnell. Well, that was a big deal, but you get to thinking later on in years that it wasn’t such a big deal to me. I would have rather stayed there [on the farm]. But we moved to Bunnell and I was right in the middle of everything. But when we left there we still didn’t have electricity inside of our house. I’ve often wondered since then The power pole that had the electricity on it was sitting outside our picket fence in our front yard; but we never did have electricity. We still had those kerosene lamps. That’s what you read by and that’s what you toted around with you like around the house at night. You took that lamp.
That brought us on up into the schools.
Judy: So you two met in the schools?
Tommy: Yes, we went together for a couple of three years before we was married.
Judy: That was before you went in the service?
Tommy: I never was in service [during WWII]. I was in the next bunch that they was to call up to draft when the war ended, and that ended that. The rest of my brothers were in service.
Patsy: But you were in the Navy Reserve.
Tommy: I was in the Navy Reserve after that. I joined the Naval Reserve and I got called into service during the Korean War. I spent two years in service then. I was on active duty which was at Jacksonville Naval Air Station and then I was sent over seas to Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean, which was quite an experience for a country boy.
Tommy: I would keep writing and tell my wife you could go anywhere you wanted to over there, because our planes were going back and forth. I went to Tripoli, North Africa, and Port Nioti in North Africa. Now, Tripoli was an Air Force base there in North Africa. Port Nioti was a Naval base. I always wanted to go to Tripoli; when I found out there was a plane going to Tripoli I would go and get on it. It was Air Force and they would find out that we were stationed in Malta. They seen us when we were coming in and they would say, “Here come those Malta boys.” They would feed us; they would give us the biggest and the finest steaks that you have ever seen in your life! We would just go there to eat on the weekends. That was quite expensive, but back then it was something else to take advantage of that.
While I was there [in Malta] I went to Italy and went all through that not all through Italy, but at Mount Vesuvius and I went to that town there that was destroyed
Patsy: The catacombs?
Tommy: The catacombs, well yeah, but
Tommy: Yes, Pompeii. I went all through Pompeii and I got some pictures and everything about that city of Pompeii. We flew over Mount Vesuvius there and turned the wings over like that [gestures with hands] and looked down in it. I’ll tell you that was enough for me; I didn’t enjoy that! I had another chance to go to every port every base that was on the Mediterranean, besides. They would take turns in the planes; this plane would go one week and another plane would do it the next. My Executive Officer I used to cook in the barracks. I got to where I couldn’t eat with the English and stuff kippers and potatoes. The potatoes wasn’t fried, they were boiled in grease! I just couldn’t eat those kippered herrings and those potatoes. I went to Port Niota and I had a first cousin there. He stayed on the base with his family and we used his commissary card and I bought cases of food: cases of corn, tomatoes, beans.
This friend of mine, he could build anything. We made our own coffee pot. We made our hot stove there with the coils and stuff; we made that. We would cook and eat there in the barracks and I got fat as a hog. [laughter] You can ask Patsy about that.
He asked me one time if I wanted to go on the “Med Cruise” they called it where you would go to every port and Switzerland then, but you had to fly across the Black Sea to get to there. I said, “Do we have to go across the Black Sea?” He said yes, so I said, “I ain’t going.” He kept on to me; he said, “You won’t never forget, you ought to take this.” I said no. I told him, “I’ll just don’t have the money.” and he said, “I’ll loan you the money and you can pay me back.” So that was the end of that.
So I spent my years there in service and then come on back and got out. I had Patsy and the kids. Our first daughter was born and I moved them up to Jacksonville so I could be with them. I got out of the service in 1953. I stayed in from 1951 to 1953 and then I got out and proceeded to go to work. First I came out and I was in cattle I wasn’t in the cattle business, but I was working for Larimore King at first. And from him I went to George Anen. It was during cattle dipping time we was having to dip all the cows in the County on account of a fever tick. The State wanted to get rid of it; they gave you ten cents a head for every cow you dipped and for every cow you didn’t dip that they found (that didn’t have that paint mark on them) it cost you three dollars. I went to work for Mr. Anen and then later on I went to work at a frozen food outfit I was in that then I started back into the survey business with Dewey Moody. D. D. Moody, he was the Tax Assessor and surveyor in the County. I was working with him at the time I was called into the service.
Judy: How did you learn that trade?
Tommy: Surveying? Mostly from Mr. Moody. In his line of work he was one of the best in the State. His line of work, which was tracing old surveys the original surveys tracing those and everything like that. I stayed with that (surveying) of course after Mr. Moody died. I worked for him for 7, no maybe 13 years. After he died I went to work for Philips Surveying in Daytona [Florida]. I was working for them whenever we got the contract to survey Palm Coast so I have surveyed all of Palm Coast.
Judy: So you knew about all that [Palm Coast] before it was general knowledge?
Tommy: Yes. So I had to go in there which I had learned from Mr. Moody about your original surveys and we had to run all the section lines throughout it and all the boundries in it outer boundries and inner boundries in all of Palm Coast, which was a pretty good task.
Judy: I should say. How long did I take you?
Tommy: It took us at least two years, but I had five crews working under me. We all worked for Philips. So, we surveyed Palm Coast at that time and was trying to keep up with the work outside of Palm Coast, but mainly Palm Coast was my bag; that’s all I had to do, was Palm Coast. I would tell them how to do the surveys in Bunnell and Flagler Beach and stuff because we had to do all that too. But Palm Coast was mine, and that was quite an interesting experience. It was really hard, but we got along really good.
In fact, Palm Coast was planned in New York and that is where they got into trouble in a lot of ways. They was planning that in New York and a lot of the planners up there had never been down and looked at the land. Right where the core of Palm Coast is over there now, right over there where the canals all come up through there there was oak trees there that was six and eight foot in diameter all over the whole thing. One of the first things that they done it was wrong they planned on having the lot so many feet up and the street so many feet under the top of the lot. Well, first they filled all that by drain and dredging and pumping that salt water in dredging that dirt in and they put the streets down. They put in the streets first and then the lots had to be so much higher than the streets which meant that much more dirt over it so the roots of the oak trees, the canopy trees just went. I told them, I said, “It won’t last, you are doing it wrong. You should take the streets down and go from there.” But they wouldn’t listen. They lost all those trees. Those trees was so big they had to take two D8 Caterpillars and put blade to blade to it to get up to that oak tree to push it over it was so big. It was just one right after another, just hundreds and hundreds of them. I got them to leave two trees, and it is on Palm Coast Parkway. One of them is the big cypress tree that you see right there.
Judy: The one with the big bird’s nest?
Tommy: Yes, at the top. This one is right there in front of Ben Lacey’s office the dentist’s office there. I don’t think it has got the bird’s nest. It is the other tree on the other side that has the bird’s nest. But I got them to save that cypress tree and on to the east of there I got them to save a big oak tree about six foot in diameter. They was going to take it out, I said, “No, don’t do that.” They said, “How come?” I said, “Because it is in the middle of the median. You have got two more lanes on the other side.” They never did build over there, they kept it all on one side. They built the two lanes on the south side, see? People don’t know that there is an extra [lane] that is done laid off. There is two more lanes to be built on the north side of those oak trees over next to the houses over to the sidewalk, or past that sidewalk. They built that sidewalk at random, but there’s two more lanes that can be built over there. But that is the way that Palm Coast come in and treated the land. It just ruint the looks of the whole thing. It was just like a dessert after they got through. They had to start [over] from scratch.
Judy: So you have seen a lot of change in the County in your time.
Tommy: Yes, some really big changes right there. In fact, if my Grand Pa and Daddy were still living I don’t know what they would be thinking. Back then, like I said, we always looked out after ourselves and you looked out after your neighbors, too. If somebody got sick at your house you would always have a neighbor to come over and stay with you. Whenever my Mother would do her washing a lot of times whenever she was sick or something an old colored woman and her three children would walk out of Bunnell to come out there and do her washing and stuff for her at that time. That was the way you lived back then.
Judy: That’s something else I wanted to ask you, you have both lived here before, during and after the racial integration of the schools. Tell us about that, how did that happen?
Patsy: Racial integration in the school happened after we were out. Our oldest daughter was in high school. At that time we lived out in Haw Creek. My step-father had a farm and had colored people working there. When my daughter, Rebecca, would go over to her Grand Ma’s well, Mama had a maid and her kids would be there playing. They had all played together, you know growing up and playing. So, Rebecca asked me, “Momma, what am I going to do?” because here was one of these big boys that was going to be in school with her. I said, “Well, you just be nice. Just go on about your business. You don’t have to be the best of friends, if it bothers you, but don’t be ugly to him because he is a human being just like you are.” So really, there wasn’t that much problem that’s when the old high school was there. There was just a few that came in, there wasn’t that many. It didn’t bother me that much because it was such a few of them that even showed up. They were afraid to come, just as afraid as our kids were afraid. I know [because] I worked in the school system this was years later they had this black woman who taught and they put her in the high school that was while Rebecca was there she [the teacher] almost had a nervous breakdown. She was afraid to say anything to a white child because she didn’t know what that parent was going to do, so she had no control over them. She knew she didn’t and I felt sorry for her, I really did. Finally it just sort of worked itself out.
The building [the old high school] burned and then everybody just went everywhere to school, Flagler Beach and Bunnell and wherever we could find a spot. There wasn’t that many of them that I remember even after they could go anywhere they wanted to. You would see them in the drugstore, I don’t remember seeing that many. They had their own, they were happy. I’m not saying that was right, because it wasn’t right, but they had just like the ones that lived out there on the farm at my step-father’s. They had a house, the electricity was paid for, and he was always loaning them money. Some of them, you give them money on Saturday and they would spend it all on liquor and that would be the end of it. He had one family there and the little boy had appendicitis and he took that child up to St. Augustine and paid for that operation there. A lot of them, they knew they were pretty well off in one way, in another way they wasn’t. We socialize with them now and don’t think anything about it. It was an adjustment for us.
Judy: Does your church have any black people that belong to it?
Patsy: I go to the Methodist Church in Bunnell. We have there is one couple. I think they just moved down here in Palm Coast, they come and she sings in the choir. There was another one, but they just don’t seem to want to come or something, I don’t know; it is open for them.
Judy: How about the Morman Church [Tommy]?
Tommy: I don’t know. I haven’t attended there in a long time. I go with Patsy to the Methodist Church.
Patsy: I think Norma [Turner] said they have a few that live in Palm Coast that come down.
Tommy: Maybe this would help if I could come in here between on that situation. Back then just like I said, on Saturday nights all the people would come to town on Saturdays. Most generally, in the daytime if you had blacks coming in that lived outside or anything like that they bought their groceries in the daytime. They would mingle right in with your white people, and bought their groceries and everything else. And like the people that lived in Bunnell there, they would go back to that portion of town. They wouldn’t be mingling at nighttime uptown. They were satisfied with their own environment and they didn’t want to step on anyone else’s environment to cause trouble or anything.
So that was the way that I kind of looked at it. We got along real good with the black people. Whenever they would come by dipping the turpentine and my mother would Every now and then they had a wagon; two mules would pull that wagon. They had dip barrels on it and they went around from tree to tree and got sap and put it in the dip barrels. They had a crew that was doing that. This old darkie was named Nick Warren. He was loud mouthed, and sometimes a person would have to walk 600 feet over to dip that one cup of turpentine, but he would do it. Momma would fix me up they all carried their dinners with them and most of them ate it before they ever got to the woods you had it in a little pail, in a lard bucket with a little handle on it. You can remember that?
Judy: Oh yeah.
Tommy: They packed everything on top of each other: your beans and your rice and your meat and your biscuit stuff was all packed on top. Well, I had to have one of them too, ‘cause I was a going with Nick. Every time he came to the house and he was going to dip a certain area around our house and stuff was in there. I would get on the wagon and go with him. So I would get me one of those pails of stuff like they did. Well, I would set up there with him and he drove those two mules. He would be hollering and going on to the boys that were dipping he would holler and you could hear him for a mile. He had a loud voice, too, so they could tell where the wagon was. You would see one coming in with a bucket load and he would dump it and another come from a different way. And that’s the way we done. Then whenever I got sleepy I would just lay down and go to sleep.
And like I said, they [Blacks] used to walk out from Bunnell when my Mother was sick to help with the laundry and everything like that. That’s the way that people got along. They was in their own environment, but they didn’t want to change that. In fact, the people in Bunnell didn’t want it to go that way; they wanted to stay the way they were, because they had their own town and their own environment stuff. That’s what they enjoyed and that is what they wanted. That’s the way I have seen that whenever I was growing up. Everything worked until we got to later on and up to now; it has really changed. Everything has changed. Back then everybody got along. In fact, you take an old colored person My Daddy, I used to hear him there would be an older colored person and he would call, “Hey Aunt Suzie, how you doing?” or old uncle so and so. We called them aunts and uncles when they were old, just to be sociable and to be kind to them. That is the way they thought of us and that is the way we thought of them. There wasn’t no trouble and everybody got along real well.
Patsy: Grand Pa brought down quite a few [Blacks] from Georgia, when they got started, [in the turpentine business] he and Major Lambert. They had some and those let’s see, it would be their grandchildren they are grown now. They had houses down there and what would have been their grandmothers, they helped Momma. They was always talking about Grand Pa and Grand Ma all that, but It was fun to see these people because they helped to raise Momma. They would say, “Oh, she sho was a purty little girl.”
Judy: What about your role [Patsy]? We heard about Tommy’s surveying. What was your role in the family and community?
Patsy: Well, I was just the housewife, wife and mother until our youngest daughter was in the forth grade, I guess. Betty Babbit Johnson, who was George Moody’s granddaughter, she worked at the school at Flagler Beach. She said, “Patsy, why don’t you come to work as an [teacher’s] aide?” I never worked as long as the kids was little, I just stayed home with them. So, that’s what I did; and I worked there as an aid I guess for two years.
Then the high school burned and we brought all the kids in the County for kindergarten, first and second grade. We had them in the Methodist Church, the Community Church; they were kindergarten classes. Then, in what is the Wickline Building we had oh let’s see first and second grades in there. When I first started working it was first through sixth; there was a combination of either four and five, or five and six, whichever. Then, I worked there and then they got the high school built and in the meantime I decided that I didn’t want to work. Tommy was working and making good money so I quit for two years. Well, I got bored, so when they built the high school, I went in there and I knew the lady that worked in the office I said, “I would like to have a job as an aide”. That was all that I wanted, because when we moved the thing [the former high school] over when it burned I was the secretary for Mrs. Holland, who was the principal there. The girl, Betty, she had moved to the County office, so I went to the high school and I said I wanted a job as an aide. I said, “I’ll work, but I don’t want any responsibility, I don’t want that.” I liked to work there [in the school] because you were off when your children was off and the hours was just right. So, when I interviewed with Mr. Miller, he was hunting a secretary, too. So I told him I really just wanted an aide’s job. In two or three days they called me back they said, “I can’t find anybody to be the secretary.” They said, “Won’t you take it and just try it?” I said, “Well, I don’t mind working, but I just don’t want all that responsibility, I know what that is.” I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll take it with the understanding that if somebody comes in here that you think could do a good job, I’ll step aside gladly and you just get me an aide job.” He said OK, so I stayed there how many years was I the secretary for the high school? When they opened the high school was seven through twelve, but it was still small, we didn’t have but about 900 kids. I knew every kid’s name. I stayed there for fifteen years, I guess. It was about fifteen years; I went through two or three principals.
Mr. Miller moved over to the County office. He had offered me a job helping with the insurance and I thought, “This schools just getting too big, I just don’t know the kids, I just not enjoying it like I did!” In the beginning I was right out there in the front. I enrolled them, I did everything, you know. Then [later] I was back in an office just doing paper work, so anyway I moved over then to the County office and worked with Mr. Miller. Then he had his accident, and then I stayed another year; I had planned on retiring before that. I stayed another year and then I retired. It was almost twenty-five years I worked for the School Board.
Judy: If you could give some advice to the folks in the County about where we should go from here, what would you think would be important? You’ve told us how it was when you were young, and how it changed.
Patsy: Well, I think that we ought to be very careful about how much bigger we want to grow because of no other thing but water. I have read about the water problem in Florida for years, even before Palm Coast came along. You get over-populated and where is the water coming from? That, to me, is my number one!
Tommy: Right where we live now in the City of Flagler Beach, their water comes from south of Gore Lake, which is a Palm Coast area; they own so many fields down there. It is piped from there to the pumping station on the west side of [Interstate] 95, and it goes from there right on over to the Beach and it is pumped there throughout the City. But I think that at one time they had three wells and I think that they got five now. But Palm Coast has surrounded that. So that is a cut-off. Then when Flagler Beach gets completely built out they are going to have to make some arrangements before it is completely built out. This is the reason for the hassle now with this development wanting to come in to help Flagler Beach furnish more water and stuff. It was turned down, Flagler Beach citizens turned it down. But we are still going to get into trouble down the line which we know. They better start thinking about it. If they don’t, they’re in trouble.
Tommy: Then it’s going to be too late. Everything like that
Patsy: That and then another thing, I hate to see all the woods and all that disappear. I guess I’m not one for progress maybe I’m not like my Grand Pa was in wanting development. I’m just you know, I guess you always like to have it the way it was. Life isn’t that way, but
I think that Palm Coast has helped our County a lot.
Judy: In what way?
Patsy: Well, just like your library here. You know, the shopping and the hospital and all that. We had to go to St. Augustine or Daytona to the hospital. If you was pregnant, you just hoped you made it. There has been a lot of good things.
Judy: Tommy, you were saying that you knew Merhl [Shoemaker].
Tommy: Yes, Merhl You see I was elected on the Board of County Commissioners in 1970. I forget what year Merhl came on, Merhl was a good working Commissioner. We always thought back then as working commissioners. You couldn’t go to a table and sit down and discuss [County] business. That law has always been there and it is there now. You could not do that. But now, if a Commissioner just like Mr. Cowart, one time Plantation Bay was in his district. He called me over the phone and he says, “Tommy, would you do me a favor?” I said, “Well, what is it?” He said, “There is a person down there that has got trouble with a swimming pool. He lives on the golf course him and his next door neighbor. Could you go down there and take care of that for me?” I said sure. So I dropped down there and took care of it for him. You was in charge of your district. You took care of everything in your district. My district was Flagler Beach and the Hammock. I took care of my district. I always told the City Commissioners there whenever I was elected on the Board of County Commissioners, I said, “You are elected to run the City. I am elected to run the County; but, whenever you need help throughout the City something that you really need sure, I’ll help.”
Tape 2 Side A – recorded sound
so at that time I went down there and took care of that situation. If one of the Commissioners heard about something was wrong in my district, he might give me a call and tell me to check on such and such at a certain place. We would do that, that is the way we worked together. We weren’t on that board of Commissioners sitting there fighting and arguing with each other. That’s just like the City of Flagler Beach. We paved a mile of streets in Bunnell (the County did) then we paved a mile of streets in Flagler Beach, just to keep it that way. Everybody got along great.
Then Merhl, was elected on the Board of County Commissioners. He was interested in libraries and so forth. Well, we kind of let Mehrl handle a lot of that. Of course, we would help him. I was Chairman up here when we had the other library over there [in the Palm Harbor Shopping Village]. It was the opening of that so I attended the opening and Merhl was there. I had another engagement I had to go to, so I plainly told the people there. I said, “I’m going to have to leave pretty shortly, but I’m going tell you what I’m going to do. We will take care of the opening ceremonies and all that, but when I tell you that I’ve got to leave I’m going to turn it over to Mr. Shoemaker. He knows more about this library, how we got it and where it’s going than anybody in the County. I sez, “I’m going to turn it over to him and in the meantime I am giving him this name, Mr. Library.” I said, “I thank you people and I’ve got to go.” Merhl always handled it. Merhl was a good working Commissioner. I enjoyed working with him on the Board of County Commissioners and then he retired. He passed away, I hated to hear that because he was always so interested in it, and about this library here, too.
Patsy: He was interested in the whole County, Merhl was. He used good common sense thinking about the future like, “If I do this, how will it affect later.”
Tommy: That’s the way our Board worked.
Tommy: That’s right, and common sense. A lot of common sense!
Judy: Well, I thank you so much. I really appreciate your views on what has happened.
Tommy: There’s one more thing if you have room for.
Tommy: I’m going to have to bring it up. The president [George W. Bush] was talking about this Thanksgiving the President of the United States was talking about, “Let’s get together and everybody in this world have a fine Thanksgiving.” Well, we always, at my house, we have a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family coming over and everything. We spend the day together, and more than you can eat.
But back when I was a boy, we got together and we all went down to Bulow; down where the park is now. There was a shanty there. It was just one big room with a fireplace in it and a little kitchen off there too. When we would go there a lot of the boys come out of Bunnell and they would go with us down to Bulow. We would go down there in that same old wagon (horse drawn). A lot of times the boys would come to us or some of them would even walk down there and we would stay two days stay two nights there. Now my Mother, she already had all of the pumpkin pies and potato pies and cakes and everything that was already made that we brought with us in the wagon. All us boys and stuff, we would get up and we would go hunting down there. We’d be killing squirrels to get and clean and eat around the camp with meals and stuff before our big Thanksgiving dinner. My Daddy would always take and kill a hog a small hog and we would barbeque that hog. All the boys and stuff out of Bunnell used to come there and we would go there and enjoy Thanksgiving that way, every year until the War [WWII] come. Then, the tradition carried on for maybe two years after that with the boys and stuff then it dropped off like that. That was our Thanksgiving then. The boys out of Bunnell would come and join us and then we would go down and spend Thanksgiving down there.
Judy: That was a lovely tradition.
Tommy: Yup, it sure was. I thought I would bring that in to let you know.
Patsy: When Tommy and I got married, his family he had three brothers and two sisters and then all of his aunts from his Dad’s side and their kids or families and us we would all go down there with our children. We went down one time and brought a big old truck down with a mattress and the kids would sleep in there. Then the boys the men, Tommy and his brothers and cousins they would go hunting and get turkey and squirrels and all. Our children were just little, and they just loved it out in the woods with a fire all night long going.
Tommy: Talking those women would get around that fire. You would try to get a little sleep lay down in the truck on the seat there to sleep. They were just laughing and going on and say, “Get up and build the fire up!” So we would build it up.
Patsy: We kept that up for several years we did that, then it got where everybody was moving and going here and there, so we don’t Plus you just can’t go out in the woods because that is all private land. Our kids, they got that, they got into some of that, so
Judy: They will treasure those memories.
Patsy: And our older grandson, he remembers he hunted with his Grand Pa all the time.
Tommy: Every time I would open that door he would get in that seat that was his seat he wasn’t big enough to tote a gun, but that was his seat and he wanted to go with me.
Judy: Thank you so much. I was really fun talking to you.
Patsy: I hope we gave you something.
Durrance Biographical Information
Interviewee Thomas W. Durrance, known to all as Tommy, was born and raised in Flagler County. His Grandparents were pioneers in the County, having arrived prior to 1900. His Father was born in Espanola, Florida and the family farms were located near the present-day airport and high school. He has fond memories of life on the farm with his extended family. Too young to follow his brothers into service in WWII, he entered the U. S. Naval reserve, and was called into active duty during the Korean conflict.
Following his military service he worked at several jobs, settling on surveying as his life work. His biggest challenge as a surveyor was in overseeing the survey of the land developed by ITT as Palm Coast. The survey was such a large undertaking that it required the work of five crews over a two-year period.
His civic leadership is evidenced by several terms served on the Flagler County Board of Commissioners. He was Chairman of the Board during the era when Flagler County’s first Public Library was established. He remains active in the community with his family, friends and church.
Interviewee Patricia Durrance known to all as Patsy is the granddaughter of Isaac I. and Dora Lee Moody. Isaac was the developer of Bunnell and primary force in the creation of Flagler County. Patsy was born in Missouri and moved to Flagler Beach with her mother and grandmother after they were widowed. At the time of the move she was in the seventh grade in school. She recalls being happy to be in the small, friendly town filled with kinfolk. Her young adult years were devoted to roles as wife and mother. Later she began to work in the Flagler County School System as a teacher’s aide, Secretary to the high school Principal and then in the County School Board Office working with insurance matters. Mrs. Durrance provided the photos and documents that illustrate this disk from memorabilia passed down by her mother, Leona Moody.
Credibility of the Interviewees is thought to be excellent. Their recollections are consistent with written histories of the era, and they corroborate and clarify one another’s accounts.
Interviewer Judith Kent is a member of the Friends of the Library of Flagler County who has volunteered to participate in the Historical Project as an interviewer. A resident of the county since 1995, she is a retired nurse educator. She gained her interviewing skills in her undergraduate nursing studies at FSU and master’s program at Teacher’s College, Columbia University where she majored in Counseling. Throughout her thirty years of professional nursing and teaching, these skills were practiced in both inpatient and community settings of the baccalaureate-nursing program of the University of Miami.
Clegg, John A. A History of Flagler County. John A. Clegg. Bunnell, Florida, 1976.
Holland, Mary Ketus Deen. Bunnell High School: 1917-1967. Bunnell, Flagler County, Florida. Mary Ketus Deen Holland, 1992.
ITT Community Development Corporation Planning Team. Comprehensive Land Use Plan: Palm Coast. Vol. 4: Natural Resources. Palm Coast, Florida.
Wilson, Catherine P. Wickline. A New Beginning: A Picturesque History of Flagler
Beach, Fl. Flagler Beach: Catherine P. Wickline Wilson, 1998.
Wilson, Catherine P. Wickline. Old Time Recipies of Then and Now: Flagler Beach 75th Anniversery Celegration Commemorative Cook Book. Flabler Beach, Florida. Catherine P. Wickline Wilson, 2000.