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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviewee: Anna Belle Strange
Interviewer: Faith McCarty
March 5, 1979
M: This is Faith McCarthy, and I am going to be doing an interview with my
grandmother, Anna Belle Strange. I am at Route 6, Box 864, Tolles Road, in
Palatka, Florida. Hello, Grandma.
M: Let us talk a little bit about yourself. You are a mother.
S: Yes, I have three children, grown children.
M: And grandchildren.
S: I have six grandchildren.
M: And they are all grown.
S: Yes, they are all grown.
M: Except for Ashley, your youngest.
S: She is eleven.
M: I guess I am your oldest. I am thirty-five. [laughter] How about great-
grandchildren? Do you have great-grandchildren also?
S: Yes, I have six great-grandchildren.
M: Good. What about your age? What is your age?
M: And your birthday is?
S: May 20, 1919.
M: OK. Now, you are a retired hairdresser.
S: Yes, ma'am.
M: That is what I would like to talk to you about today. When did you get your
S: In 1960.
M: And you retired when?
S: In 1988.
M: So that is twenty-eight years of [hairdressing].
S: Yes, ma'am.
M: Now, how old were you when you decided to become a hairdresser?
S: I was forty-one.
M: Is that when you decided to get your license?
S: Oh, no. That is when I got my license.
M: Where did you do that? Did you do that here in Palatka?
S: No. [I got it at] Powell's Beauty School in Gainesville.
M: That must have been pretty unusual for a forty-one-year-old woman to decide to
begin a career. What motivated you to do that?
S: Well, I think I always wanted to do that. I remember when I was a child I used to
want to mess around with people's hair. When my youngest child was seven years
old I decided I would go to beauty school. Well, she got sick, and I had to drop out.
I decided I would wait then until my youngest one was all through school. Then I
would try again. So I waited until she got through high school. Then she went to
beauty school. I should have gone the same time she went. It would have saved a
lot of expense. But I decided I was going to make sure she got through school
before I did. Then that is when I decided to go, and I went and enrolled. I stuck
with it that time.
M: What did it take for you to get your beauty license then?
S: Twelve hundred hours of school, and I had to drive from Palatka to Gainesville. It
was about 60 miles over there, so it was about 120 miles a day.
M: And it took you seven months?
S: It took me seven months to get my hours in.
M: That was quite a hardship. What kind of support did you have for this? What about
your husband, my grandfather? Was he very supportive of this?
S: No, he was not very supportive at all. Anyway, I got through it.
M: He was working at the time. Can you tell me a little bit about what he was doing?
S: He had a service station; [he sold] gasoline and serviced cars. He never did want
me to do anything but stay at the house and take care of the kids. I decided I was
really going to stick it out this time.
M: He wanted you to be dependent on him.
S: Yes, he did not want me to be independent at all. We had marriage trouble along
then, too, but I still stuck it out.
M: Do you think that your marriage problems had anything to do with your asserting
S: I think so.
M: Do you think he was threatened by that?
S: I think so. We got through that, though, after he saw that I was going to work
anyway. I had no children at home or anything to keep me tied down, and he
worked all the time, so ...
M: He just learned to accept it.
S: Yes, he accepted it then. After that we got along pretty good.
M: Do you think that he thought of you differently? Maybe he had more respect.
S: I think he did after he saw that I was on my own.
M: That you were capable of...
S: ... making a living for myself.
M: So that changed your relationship.
M: OK. What about your friends? Were they accepting of your assertion as a woman
to go out and get a career?
S: Oh, yes. My next door neighbor encouraged me. My sister-in-law and people up
and down the street [let me "experiment" on them]; I had a lot of people to practice
M: They were happy that you were doing it.
S: Yes, they were happy, and when I did get a job then, they all came to be my
M: What was your next-door neighbor's name?
S: Mrs. Helen Moddy.
M: And she was a good friend?
S: Yes, she was a good friend.
M: And she was about your age?
S: She was about ten years older than me, I think.
M: So maybe she wished that she had been able to do something like that.
S: I think she did.
M: She was very supportive.
M: And some of your other friends? What were their names?
S: My mother-in-law encouraged me.
M: What was her name?
S: Mrs. Allie Mae Strange. Her daughter was also Allie Mae.
M: And she was supportive, too?
M: They were both very supportive of you going out and becoming more independent
as a woman?
S: Yes, they really did support me in that.
M: OK. Let us talk a little bit about your school. It was Powell's Beauty School in
Gainesville. You had to complete 1,200 hours and drive all that way. What were
the other people like at the school? Can you tell me about them? Were there any
men in the school?
S: Oh, yes, there were just about as many men as there were women. I also had friends
that went to school there. One was a nurse, and she decided to change her career.
I think she was about sixty years old at the time.
M: So she was even older than you were [and] going out and getting a career [as well].
S: I guess there were twenty-five or thirty that were older than me that were going
there to school.
M: How big was the class, would you say? It is hard to say because everyone started
at different [times].
S: There were about 150 of them. It was a big school.
M: What was that like? Did you enjoy being with those people?
S: Oh, yes, I looked forward to having coffee every morning when we went in. We had
class first thing in the morning, and then we worked in the afternoon. So I really
M: Do you remember the name of the owner, the teacher?
S: Mr. Hiens.
M: And he was a beautician and your instructor, or was he the owner?
S: He was the owner. Mrs. Powell was the instructor. I think they were in together as
M: Interesting. Can you think of a funny story that happened to you? Can you relate
something that was funny that happened to you when you were in school?
S: The funniest thing that happened to me was when [a group of gypsies came in].
There were some gypsies that came into the school, maybe about twenty or thirty of
them, and they were all over the shop and into everything. I was working on a girl,
putting a permanent in her hair, and I got it finished and everything. Each of us had
to furnish our own supplies and stuff, each student. I went up to collect the money
from her, and when we came back they were gone, and all my supplies and a lot of
other stuff from the beauty school were gone. They had cleaned us out. [laughter]
M: The gypsies had robbed you?
S: Robbed us, yes. [laughter] So I sat down and just started to cry. All my supplies
were gone--all my scissors, combs, brushes. Mr. Hiens came back and said, "Honey,
come back here with me." I went back to the supply room with him, and he gave
me all my new supplies and stuff. That was real nice of him.
M: That was real nice.
S: It sure was.
M: So we talked about how your husband felt, how he was non-supportive, but your
women friends were supportive. How did your children feel about this? They were
grown and married and off on their own. How did they feel about this?
S: They wanted me to go. My son bought all my uniforms for me. He was real proud
M: He was very supportive and proud of his mother.
S: Yes. The youngest daughter was already through beauty school and was working.
M: Do you think she was motivated to go through school because of your desire to be
S: I think so, because I always encouraged her to do it.
M: And your oldest daughter, who was your oldest child and my mother, became a
S: Yes. I think that I encouraged her, too. But then she decided that that was not her
cup of tea, so she went to nursing school.
M: Probably about the same time in life that you started beauty school. She was in her
S: Yes. We were late bloomers. [laughter]
M: You retired in 1988, so you had twenty-eight years [of being a hairdresser]. Can you
think of a funny story that you can talk to us about that happened to you while you
were working as a hairdresser? [With] twenty-eight years in the hairdressing
profession, you must have quite a few stories to tell. I would like to hear some of
your stories. Does anything come to your mind?
S: Yes. One day this lady came in whose hair was hanging down and touched her heels
back behind, and she wanted it bleached. I told her it would take about two days
and that I would have to charge her a hundred dollars. I was trying to discourage
M: Did you think it would have been difficult to do, or did you not want to do it
because it would have hurt her hair?
S: No, it would not have hurt her hair. It was just a job. It would have been hard.
She said, "That won't be no problem," so I had to start work on her. We worked all
that day. I kept putting bleach on and washing it off, bleach on and washing it off.
That night when we closed up we had tied her hair up in a towel and let her go
home. Then she came back the next morning and start the process again. Finally
we got through in the afternoon. She lost a little bit of her hair because it broke off
from the bottom, but she was well pleased with the job. I tell you, I will never tackle
another one like that. [laughter]
M: Did it look pretty?
S: Yes, it looked real good. She kept coming to me for ten years after that.
M: Oh, my gosh. Did her hair get shorter?
S: Yes, it got shorter. [laughter]
M: She was real happy with you.
S: Yes, she was proud of it. The worst job I ever got was this lady they brought in.
She was a mental case. This was back when they teased their hair.
M: Like a beehive that was teased way up on their head.
S: She would wash it, but she never combed it out, and it had just matted all the way
down to her scalp. She had been in the hospital, and they brought her back from
the hospital and brought her to me to do something with her hair. I just slipped the
scissors up underneath and cut it loose all over. It was just like a wig when I got
through with it. Her hair was an inch long all over. We had to [do that] because
it was in such condition; she had gone so long. She said it had been a year since she
had combed it out. It was really bad. So I think that was my worst job.
M: That must have been terrible.
S: Oh, it was.
M: Was she happy when you got done, even though it was so short?
S: Yes, she was glad that it was off of her head because it had been bothering her so
M: Are there any other good stories that come to mind? Any funny customers?
S: I cannot remember right offhand.
M: OK. What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you, the weirdest thing that
ever happened to you while you were working as a hairdresser?
S: I think the scariest was one morning when I went to work about 7:00. It was not
daylight yet. I parked my car and went in and went in to work. Pretty soon one of
the customers came in and said, "Are you having car trouble?" I said, "No. Why?"
She said, "Well, there is a man under your car working on it." I said, "There is not
supposed to be." I went out and checked, and the man was lying there with his feet
sticking out. I kicked him on the foot and asked him, "What are you doing?" No
answer. I reached down and looked under there, and there was a man lying there.
The man next door came running out and said, "What happened? You have killed
a man, haven't you!" [laughter] I ran back in the shop and called the police. They
came out and got the man out from under my car, and he was dead. They came
in the shop and took me out to the restaurant next door and kept me there the
whole day long and questioned me. They said I had run over him and drug him.
They let me go home that night. That was on a Saturday. The next day was Sunday,
and they did not call me or anything. I was so upset. Then I called the police
station, and they said: "Oh, yes. The report is right here on the desk. Nobody
called you?" I said no. They said, "Well, he had a heart attack, and we figured he
kicked around and got under your car." [laughter] I missed all day Saturday, one
of my busiest days, because they were suspicious of me.
M: Oh, gosh.
S: So I sold my car the next week. I could not ride in it anymore after that. [laughter]
M: I think one of the things I remember growing up, knowing that you were a working
woman and a hairdresser, was that all year long you would save your tips so that we
could spend it [the money] on vacation.
S: Oh, yes. We went to Indiana the last time we went, and we stayed for two weeks.
I had enough fifty-cent pieces to last us for two weeks for our trip to Indiana.
[laughter] You kids were just about grown then.
M: Yes. I remember all those years going out to Salt Springs, knowing all year long that
you were saving your tip money so that we could out and spend the summer at Salt
Springs. That was very nice. Was it nice for you to know you could do that for your
kids and grandkids?
S: It sure was. The fun that you all got counting it out was good, too. [laughter] We
had some good times then.
M: Yes. It is time for us to end this interview, but I would like to talk to you more
about your life in general, so the next time we meet we will do that.
S: OK. You are welcome.
M: This is Faith McCarthy, and I am at the home of my grandmother, Anna Belle
Strange. [Today is February 9, 1992.] Hello, Grandma.
S: Hello, Faithy.
M: Can you give me your birthdate?
S: May 20, 1919.
M: Where were you born?
S: I was born in Crestonburge, Kentucky.
M: And how long did you live there?
S: Until I was about seven or eight years old. Then we moved to Warsaw, Indiana.
M: Can you tell me a little bit about your family?
S: I had two sisters older than me, and myself, and my dad. My mother took the oldest
girl, Lilly, with her, and my grandmother and my dad took the youngest ones and
M: What was your grandmother's name?
S: Minerva Hamilton. My dad's name was Ben J. Hamilton.
M: What was the name of the sister who stayed with you?
S: Julia Anna.
M: What was your father's occupation in Kentucky?
S: He owned a coal mine. When I was about seven or eight years old we moved to
Warsaw, Indiana. He worked in the creamery there where they made powdered milk
and stuff. He was the overseer of that, and he worked there for many years, until
M: Did your grandmother go with you to Indiana?
M: So she was really the primary caretaker?
S: Of the home, yes.
M: Do you remember much about her?
S: Oh, yes. My great-grandmother was with us, too. I forgot about her.
M: What was her name?
S: Her name was Anna Belle, spelled the same as mine. My mother started writing to
me when I was about sixteen years old, and she talked me into going to live with her.
My dad did not want me to go, so I decided I was going to catch a train and hobo
on up into Michigan. I got a girlfriend to go with me, and we hopped on the train.
She hopped in, and I got my leg hung. I cut it, and I fell off. She rode about a mile
up the track, and she jumped off then and came back and got me to the doctor in
time to keep me from bleeding to death. After that my dad said if I wanted to go
that bad I could go. But he did not hold it against me or anything. We were good
My stepfather was an onion grower, and he raised onions in the summertime and
took them to Florida in the wintertime and brought back oranges and grapefruits and
stuff. So we got to go to Florida every year and stay the winter.
M: What was your mother's name?
S: Maggie Mellon, and my stepfather was John H. Mellon.
M: Is Maggie short for Margaret?
S: Yes, I think it is.
M: What was her maiden name?
S: Miller. They [her parents] were German.
M: Were they from Germany?
S: Yes, they were.
M: Did you ever meet them?
S: Yes, but I never did like them. I never did have anything to do with them.
M: Did they also live in Kentucky?
S: Yes, in Crestonburge. They lived within ten miles of me. I did not see them the
whole eight years.
M: Do you remember their names?
S: Leander Miller.
M: Leander was your grandmother?
S: Grandfather. Jennie Miller was my grandmother.
M: So at the age of sixteen you went to live with your mother, Maggie Mellon, in
M: What town?
S: Three Rivers.
M: But you really did not know her. You had not seen her since you were ...
S: A year old, and I did not remember her.
M: That must have been a strange experience.
S: It was that way all my life. I never did really get to know her, and I never really did
feel close to her, even when she died.
M: Your stepfather was a farmer?
S: Yes, ma'am. He farmed nothing but onions.
M: Was that in Michigan?
S: Yes. Then he trucked them to Florida.
M: And sold them in Florida.
S: Yes. That way we got to do a lot of traveling. I think that is the reason I wanted
to go live with them. [laughter]
M: Your mother's and stepfather's traveling brought you to Florida?
S: Yes, ma'am. That was in 1936. We came to Tampa, Florida, and spent the winter.
My stepfather took fruit back north all winter long. In the spring we went back
north, and he started growing his onions. Then that fall we would come back down
to Deland. That was in 1937. So we came on up from there. He decided he was
going to farm down here in Florida, so he was looking around for a farm. We came
to Palatka, Florida, and we went to Silver Lake and rented a house out at Silver
Lake. That is when I met my husband on a blind date. That was in February. I
dated him through March and April, and we got married May 20, on my birthday.
M: What year was that?
S: That was 1937. Then my parents went back north, and I stayed down here.
M: With your husband.
S: With my husband.
M: What was his name?
S: Leonard Thomas Strange.
M: How old were you at that time?
S: I had just turned eighteen.
M: It was your birthday.
S: My birthday. He was twenty-two years old.
M: Where was he from?
S: He was born and raised out there where we had rented the house from. That was
his homeplace. His brother invited me to go on a blind date with his brother, and
it turned out to be Leonard. We got married, and about a year later we had a little
girl baby. Her name was Delores Strange. [She was your mother.]
M: What date she born on?
S: She was born on March 26, 1938.
M: Was that pretty exciting, becoming a mother?
S: Yes. I had a home delivery. The doctor came to the house. Back then doctors did
that a lot. It was kind of rough, a lot rougher than it was with the next ones I had.
The doctor came and spent a couple nights and days up there.
M: It sounds like you had a long delivery.
S: I did, on all of my children.
M: When was your next child born?
S: It was about a couple years later I had one that lived eighteen hours. Back then
doctors did not know anything about blood factors; they did not know what to do or
anything. I had Rh negative, and my husband was positive, so the baby died after
living eighteen hours.
M: That was your second child?
S: Second child, yes. That was kind of hard, too.
M: Was it a little boy or a girl?
S: It was a little boy.
M: Did you name him?
S: Yes. I named him after my dad, B. J. Strange. Those were his initials.
M: That was your son's name.
M: That must have broken your heart, [losing] your first son.
S: Yes, it sure did. It takes a long time to get over something like that.
M: Did you get pregnant again after that?
S: Yes. In 1941 I had a little boy, another son, and he was all right. The way I
understood it then [was] every other one died.
M: That was your concept at the time.
S: Yes. Now they know what to do for something like that. They can give you shots.
But they did not know anything back then.
M: So your third child lived. What was his name?
S: Leonard Thomas Strange.
M: After his father.
S: After his father. Yes. [But we called him Tommy.]
M: What was the birthdate of your third child?
S: December 9, 1941, just when the war was starting, World War II. I was in the
hospital when we got the news of it [the bombing of Pearl Harbor]. That was kind
of rough times back then.
M: Were you expecting the war to start?
S: No, we were not. They bombed Pearl Harbor, and it just happened overnight. It
was kind of scary. When labor started when I was having my third child, my husband
had loaned the car to one of his customers and had the man's log truck home with
him. That is what I had to get to the hospital in--a log truck. We had not made
arrangements to keep my little girl, so I had to put her in the ice cream parlor across
the street. Anyway, we got to the hospital in time. [laughter]
M: So your third child was delivered in the hospital.
S: Yes. And my second one was, too.
M: So you were in the hospital when Pearl Harbor was bombed?
M: And that was a surprise to you.
S: It sure was, because no one was expecting anything like that. All at once the news
came on that Sunday that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. It was real scary.
M: Were you frightened that your husband was going to have to go to war?
S: Yes, we just knew he would have to go.
M: That must have been pretty frightening for you, with two young children.
S: It sure was.
M: Did your husband have to go to war?
S: No. Let me see. That was December 9. In February my husband went north to get
in the defense work.
M: Did you go with him?
S: I went about six months later. Back then it was so hard to find a place to live. We
had to buy a trailer to live in when we finally got up there. Everything was so bad,
and everything was so rationed. [Take] sugar, [for example:] you had to have a baby
to get ten pounds of sugar. It was bad.
M: And you were afraid to leave Florida under those conditions.
S: Yes, until we got a trailer. He got in defense work. After he had been up there two
or three months I went up.
M: Where did he go when he went north?
S: Evansville, Indiana. We went there and stayed about a year. Then we went on
north to LaPorte, Indiana. That is where the youngest child was born, the youngest
M: What was her name?
S: Her name was Diana J. Strange.
M: What date was that? What was her birthday?
S: Hers is November 28, 1943.
M: When was it that you settled down in Palatka, Florida?
S: After the war we came back to Florida. I think it was 1950 when we came back.
M: What was it like to return to Palatka, Florida, in 1950?
S: Oh, it was great! It was wonderful here. It was real nice weather. We had left a
blizzard up in Indiana. We moved down to Silver Lake, and the kids all loved it out
there. We had a big two-story house with plenty of room. Diana was about three
years old, and she had learned to swim out in the lake. The lake was right in our
M: This home out at Silver Lake was the home that your husband ...
S: He was born in it.
M: And your daughter?
S: Yes. So it was really wonderful out there. It was a lovely town. There was the
Ravine Garden. Beautiful. Everything was so much better than it was in Indiana.
M: So you were happy to come back.
S: Oh, I was really happy. I did not want to go back [to Indiana] anymore, not even
for a visit.
M: So in 1950 you came back to Florida with your husband and your three children, and
you moved into his family's home out at Silver Lake in Palatka, Florida.
M: These were happy times for you.
S: Yes, they certainly were.
M: How long did you live in that house out at Silver Lake?
S: I think about five or six years. My kids all went to school out at Pen Isle. That is
a little settlement out by Silver Lake. Then we moved into town. We decided to
have the house remodeled. The man that was going to do the work was going to
move into the house and work on it. His daughter lived with him. It had a big
fireplace in it. One morning she was taking a bath by the fire, and she threw some
water in the fireplace. Some of the coals fell out onto the carpet. He took her to
school, and when he was halfway back he saw smoke coming from the house. By
the time we got out there the house was all burned down, [as well as] all the lumber
that we had bought and the tile by the side of the house for the remodeling. All that
burned up with it.
M: So you lost the whole house.
S: The whole house. We were discouraged.
M: You must have been devastated.
S: We certainly were. At the time we had forgotten about whether we had insurance
or not, so we were really in a state of mind. We had insurance, but my husband just
decided he would sell the land then, and we moved into town. We lived in town for
about twenty-five years after that. Then we moved out into the country.
M: So you must have lost your house out at Silver Lake in the mid 1950s, and at that
time you moved. The house burned down, and you were living in town and decided
to buy a house in town?
S: Yes, ma'am.
M: In Palatka.
S: In Palatka.
M: During these years what did your husband do?
S: He had a service station--filling station and tires and everything.
M: What was the name of this filling station?
S: Robshaw Service Center.
S: That was his brother-in-law. They went into business together. His name was Frank
M: They were partners?
S: Partners. Yes.
M: So Frank Robshaw was married to ...
S: To my husband's sister.
M: What was her name?
S: Allie Mae Robshaw.
M: They must have been a pretty close family, your husband's family.
S: Yes, they were real close.
M: Can you tell me a little about the Strange family?
S: Yes. Mr. and Mrs. Strange were living at the house out there when we moved to
Indiana. In the meantime they had moved to town. He passed away about 1943,
I think it was.
M: What was his name?
S: Thomas Edgar Strange.
M: And his mother's name, your mother-in-law?
S: Allie Strange.
M: So you knew both of them.
S: Yes, I knew both of them.
M: And you must have known your mother-in-law quite well.
S: Oh, she was just like a mother to me. I felt more like she was my mother than [I
felt about] my real mother. She was a real wonderful woman.
M: Tell me about her. What was she like?
S: She was real pleasant. She never had anything bad to say about anyone. She was
so jolly all the time. She was just a good Christian woman.
M: Had she been raised in Palatka also?
S: No. [She was raised in] Starke [Florida].
M: Oh, she was from Starke.
S: Yes. She was a wonderful woman.
M: How many children did she have?
S: She had two girls and four boys.
M: Were you pretty close to them? You were close to your mother-in-law.
S: I was close to all of them. We were all good friends. I have a lot more good friends
here in Palatka.
M: Good. Tell me about some of your friends in Palatka.
S: I have a girlfriend that I met fifty-five years ago, and she is still around.
M: What is her name?
S: Ruby Thompson.
M: Did she have children too?
S: Yes, she had two children, a boy and a girl. And I had another good friend who
lived next door, Mrs. Moddy.
M: What was Mrs. Moddy like?
S: She is still around. She is a wonderful person. Her husband has passed away now.
M: Did you get into any "trouble" with these girls?
S: No, just with my own girls. [laughter] Back then they were kind of sassy.
M: Tell me about your oldest daughter, Delores. Give me a funny story about her.
S: The funniest one I can think of is the time she opened her mouth to say something
bad to me. I was buttering her toast to get her ready for school. I had the stick of
butter in my hand, and I just pushed right into her mouth. [laughter] She had the
most surprised look on her face you have ever seen.[laughter] Outside of that, I had
pretty good children.
M: Your son was the middle child. Did he get into much trouble?
S: He did not get along too good with the girls. One morning they were fighting before
they went to school, and he knocked the coffee pot off the table. I was so mad at
him I said, "I won't be here when you get back." He got paid that week for his paper
route, and here he came home with a new coffee pot.
M: He had broken the [old] one, and he replaced it at the end of the week?
S: Yes. He said, "Thank God you are here. I though you would be gone." [laughter]
M: What was he like when he got a little older? Did he have any boy kind of trouble?
S: No. Back then children did not get into so much stuff like they do now. We did not
have any trouble with him outside of that.
There was one time when he was working at the station with his dad, and he and the
boy that worked there with him had to deliver some cars. They went over to this
boy's house, and they had moonshine. He had never drunk moonshine before.
Anyway, he got drunk and did not know where he was, and he was running up and
down the main street. He did not know where he was or what his name was or
anything. They [the police] got him and took him to jail. About 11:00 or 12:00 that
night he had not come home, and we went out looking for him. Finally one of the
policemen that knew my husband came by the house and said: "You have to get
down there and get that boy out of there. That is the awfullest place there ever was,
and your son is in there. You cannot let him spend the night in there." So we had
to go down and get him out of jail. He was still drunk when we got him home. He
put the garbage can over his head and was dancing around all over the place.
[laughter] He fell and broke a lamp. My husband just got in the car and left. He
would not stay there that night.
M: He could not handle seeing his son [drunk].
S: He could not stand that. I think that cured him of moonshine.
M: As I remember it, both your husband and son were big fishermen, and they used to
have challenges on who could catch the biggest bass.
S: They would not go fishing together. My son brought this twelve-pound bass home
one evening, and he would not tell my husband where he caught it. The next day
my son said that he kept seeing this boat coming around the corner and hiding and
following him. He said, "That was Dad trying to find out where the big fish are."
[laughter] Leonard said, "That little so-and-so was hiding and taking us all over the
river." Leonard never did catch a fish that day. Tommy was real lucky with his
fishing. He saved his fish and had it mounted.
M: I remember that fish. Tell me a funny story about your youngest, Diana. She was
your youngest; she was your baby.
S: Yes. We had taken them on these field trips. Mrs. Mae McDaniels and her
daughter went with us that day, and two boys. The girls had boyfriends, so they
went. We went to Silver Springs and spent the day. On the way back I kept seeing
them with a towel back in the back seat trying to hold something down. I looked
back there, and there was an alligator. Mae was driving barefooted, and her heels
were sticking back there, and that gator was just nippin' at her heels. [laughter] I
picked up my feet and put them on the dashboard. We almost had a wreck right
there on Silver Springs Boulevard.
M: They had taken an alligator?
S: They had stolen two alligators and had them under their bath towels and
pocketbooks. I did not know what to do. We could not take them back. I did not
want them to go to jail. It was a $500 fine, and I could not afford that. We took
the alligators on home. They kept them about a week or two and had them in a
washtub in the backyard. Those things would bite a piece right out of you. They
[the girls] got tired of them and finally gave them to Diana's cousin, Charles Jenkins.
They got rid of them.
M: It seems like I remember that you kept one of them.
S: We kept one for a while.
M: How big did it get?
S: Oh, it got [to be] four or five feet [long].
M: Was he like the family pet?
S: No. He would eat anything that came along. He had a little backyard to move
around in. Finally we got rid of him. That took care of that.
M: What were some of the other family pets?
S: Oh, we had a pit bull. Any children that came to play had to bring him cookies to
get in the house. Back then we did not have TV. We had radio, and they had to
listen to "The Lone Ranger" and all that on the radio. They would all want to come
over to my house and hear "The Lone Ranger," and everyone had to bring candy and
cookies to get into the house. [laughter]
M: He was the guard dog, and the password was a cookie.
S: And he lived a long time; he lived eighteen years. We had him over at Salt Springs
one time when your dad came up. [We had a cabin at Salt Springs.] That was
before you were born. He [the dog] caught him [one of the kids] out in the yard and
would not let him back in the house because he did not have any cookie or candy
to give him, so he was hollering, "Somebody bring me a cookie!" [laughter]
M: What was the dog's name?
S: Buddy. He was a good little dog. But he would sure make them think that he was
going to bite them if they came in the house. Give him candy or a cookie and he
let them in.
M: So your children started to grow up. When did they start leaving home?
S: My dad got sick back in Indiana, and we went up to see him. My oldest daughter,
Delores, decided that she did not want to take off from school, so we left her with
her Aunt Allie Mae and went back up to Warsaw. While we were gone she eloped
and got married. We came back home to a shock like that. We did not even know
the boy she had married. We had not been around him much or anything. That was
M: How old was she?
S: She was seventeen.
M: And what year was that?
S: Let me see. What year were you born?
M: [I was born in] 1957, [so this would have been] 1956?
S: No, they were married two years before you were born.
M: So your first child to leave home was Delores, the oldest one. What did you think
of that? You did not even know the boy. What was that like? Were you pretty
S: Leonard was so upset we had to take him over to Salt Springs and keep him a week
over there. He stayed in the bedroom and would not come out for a week.
M: He was pretty close to Delores, so he really felt like he was losing a daughter.
S: Yes, he sure did. But he gained a son instead. We thought a lot of Tom, her
husband, after we got to know him.
M: Was he pretty nervous coming to meet you all? He must have been.
S: Yes. Another thing, he had been married before, and he did not know how to tell
Leonard about it. Tom was surprised when Leonard said, "Well, it can't be helped
that you've been married before."
M: That must not have been done very often.
S: Not back then it did not.
M: So then your second surviving child was Tommy Strange. Was he the next to marry?
S: Yes. Diana and I had gone down to visit your mother, and we got a call: "Your son
is getting married tomorrow." We did not even know he had planned on getting
M: Did you know the girl he married?
S: No, we did not know her. She lived in St. Augustine. We rushed home to be there
for the wedding, Diana and I. They got married in a church in St. Augustine. It [the
announcement of the wedding] was in the paper in St. Augustine, but nobody in
Palatka knew anything about it.
M: Did Tommy not want you to be there?
S: He was afraid to tell us. We thought we had talked him out of it. He had gotten
up on the house to fix the roof, and he got acrophobia. He could not stand it up
there, and he could not get down. Mr. Moody next door--he was a Baptist preacher--
ran out there and said, "Tommy, I'll get you down if you won't get married."
[laughter] He had to promise him he would not get married. We did not think he
was going to get married then. We thought he was going to put it off and go on to
finish school, but he did not. He was enrolled in the junior college when that
happened. But he married a good girl. They were both lucky, not knowing them
any more than they did.
M: Yes. What was the name of the girl Tommy married?
S: Marsha Parrish.
M: What year was this? It must have been right around 1960 or so.
S: Yes. I believe it was 1961.
M: And they had children eventually?
S: Yes, they had two children.
M: What are their names?
S: Leonard Thomas III and John Edwards Strange.
M: Your oldest daughter was the first to marry. What was her husband's name?
S: Thomas James McCarthy.
M: Was he a local?
S: No. He was from Gainesville.
M: So when she married she went to Gainesville to live with her husband?
M: Can you tell me a little more about him?
S: Yes. He was going to college over there when they got married. She got a job at
the hospital where his mother was working, so she worked at the hospital.
M: They had children. Can you tell me about their family?
S: Yes. They have three children. The oldest was Faith Ann McCarthy. [That is you.]
The next one is Mary Margaret McCarthy, and the next one is Anna Belle McCarthy.
M: And Anna Belle was named after you?
S: I believe he named her after a poem, "Annabel Lee" [by Edgar Allan Poe]. I believe
that is what he named her after. But I think your middle name was after me.
M: Oh, I see. Faith Ann. So by the early 1960s you were a grandmother.
S: Yes. I was a grandmother when I was thirty-eight years old.
M: Tell me about how that made you feel.
S: Well, I married when I was eighteen and she married when she was eighteen, so that
way we had a little bit of time for children. [laughter]
M: Did you enjoy being a grandmother?
S: Oh, yes, I have loved it. I tell you, I have had more fun out of those children.
When I was going to beauty school I would stop nearly every day and take them
home with me to spend the night.
M: You would come over to Gainesville to go to school, pick up your grandchildren and
take them back [to Palatka] with you, they would spend the night, and then you
would have company on the way back over [to Gainesville the next day].
S: They loved it. I had a little English Ford I drove, and they thought that little car was
something else. [laughter]
M: What sorts of fun things did you do with your grandchildren?
S: Well, we had a cabin at Salt Springs, and I would take them over there on weekends
and take them over for the week when I would get a week off. They really had a
good time. They would go down and catch crabs.
M: So you had five grandchildren at that time.
S: Yes, I did.
M: What were their names?
S: Faith McCarthy, Mary McCarthy, Anna Belle McCarthy, Butch Strange--that is
Leonard Thomas Strange II--and John Edward Strange.
M: So the boys were nicknamed Butch and Jody.
S: Yes. They loved to catch crabs down at Salt Springs, so we would swim in the
daytime. Just me and the kids would go, and we would stay sometimes two weeks.
[Let me tell you something funny that happened one time.] Butch and I were going
to the springs when my car broke down, and I had to get out to hitch a ride, to try
to stop someone. He would not get out of the car without his little potty. He got
out on the side of the road. I looked, and he was waving his thumb and had his
little potty chair in his hand. [laughter]
M: He must have been pretty young. How old was he?
S: He was about three. Then one time when we were over there it was just after those
two girls disappeared from Silver Glen. He was going around--he was about four
years old--digging up everybody's garbage pile to see if they were buried there.
M: He was looking for the missing girls.
S: He was looking for the girls. He had everybody around there looking, telling them
that those girls were buried over there.
M: Did they ever find them?
S: They never did, and they have never heard from them to this day. That has been
about twenty-two or twenty-three years ago.
M: Tell me some other funny stories about your grandchildren. That must have been
a pretty happy time for you.
S: Yes. I look back over it now as the best time of my life, I think, when they were
little. Anna was one that did not like to mind very good. One day we were coming
from the springs and we were walking along. This car was coming, and I said,
"Everyone get on this side of the road." Well, she would not get over there. She
waited till the car got right almost to her, and then she ran across the road--right in
front of the car. It liked to scare me to death! So I got me a switch, because I told
her if she did not come when the rest did I was going to whip her. I had to get me
a switch and needle her little legs. [laughter] But we got along real good. We had
M: I remember the stories about making the sandbox.
S: Oh, yes.
M: Can you tell me about that?
S: Yes. You were the sand girl. You made mud pies. Every time I would come along
they were working the road over there, and they had this clay pile. You would call:
"Grandma, this is good dirt. Stop, Grandma. This is good dirt." So we would have
to stop and get a bucket of clay for you, and you would make those mud pies out
of it. That was fun.
M: Did the whole family [go out to Salt Springs]? You took the grandchildren out
there. Were there times when the whole family went there?
S: Yes, usually on the weekends the whole family would go out there and spend the
M: Tell me a little bit about Salt Springs. I remember the cabin. Can you describe the
cabin out there and the way it looked?
S: Yes. The cabin was not very good because we had to lease the land.
M: Who were you leasing the land from?
S: From a Silver Springs organization. We had a school bus, and there was a big room
added on to that. You kids had a good time "driving" the bus. We left the driver's
seat and the steering wheel in it. We had taken everything else out and put cots in
there. That was where we slept. Then we had the big room for eating and cooking
and everything like that. It was right close to the water, so it was a nice place. In
fact, we used to have one up by the road. That was a four-room cottage. But we
sold it and got closer down to the springs.
M: Those must have been pretty good times. How was your husband then? Was he still
working at the gas station here in Palatka?
S: Yes, and he had a bait route, too. He furnished bait to all the fish camps up and
down the river and down by Lake George. He even went to Jacksonville; he had
a route up there, too. So he was kind of busy.
M: That was just about the time when you were starting your career as a hairdresser.
M: You both worked hard.
S: Yes. We would run into each other every once in a while.
M: It must have been tough on your marriage.
S: Yes, it was pretty bad. But if I had not been going to school I would have been right
by myself at home, so it worked out pretty good.
M: So you kept yourself busy during those years with developing your career as a
S: Yes. When I first got out of school I got a job in the James Hotel Building in
Palatka, and I worked there for ten years.
M: Let us talk about that job a little bit. That is quite a long time, ten years. Do you
remember the name of the shop?
S: Doris's Beauty Shop.
M: And the owner was Doris?
M: What was her last name?
M: So women came in and got their hair done. What was it like working there? Did
you enjoy it? You must have. You worked ten years.
S: Yes. Back then the prices were cheaper, but you got a lot more work than you do
now, because nowadays people just get their hair cut, and they do it themselves at
home. But back then everybody teased their hair up. Sometimes I would be
working at 11:00 at night. It was a real busy time back then. We made good money,
M: A lot more people got their hair colored and ...
S: And cut and permed.
M: Fashions were a lot different back then.
S: Oh, yes. They had those big beehives where you tease the hair up. Everyone had
to come get their hair done on the weekend and then come back on Monday
morning and get it combed for the week. You had to recomb it and release it and
fix it back for them.
M: That was the trend, to get it done for the weekend and then get it [done for the
week]. Was it in a different style for the week?
S: No, it was just about the same thing. But we would not shampoo it or anything--
just comb it out.
M: After a wild weekend.
S: Yes. [laughter] It was pretty good. Nowadays they just brush it out and go on,
which is better. But you do not get as much money [now] as we did back then.
M: That shop was right around the corner from your husband's gas station.
S: Right in back of it, yes, it was. I would see him every once in a while. When I was
not busy I would run over. It was right in the middle of town, and we had all those
business people to work with. It was really nice working there.
M: So you worked there until the beginning of the early 1970s?
M: And then where did you go?
S: My daughter opened up a shop in East Palatka. She rented this big two-story house
and turned it into a beauty shop. We had quite a few people, about fifteen girls and
boys, working there. It was a good business there.
M: This was the 1970s, and women were still wearing the same styles. So you were very
S: Yes, we were really busy. We had to work hard, because they charged only about
$3.50 and $4.00 for a shampoo and set. Nowadays they get $15.00 for a haircut and
shampoo. We kept busy and made a good living at it.
M: What were those times like in Palatka? The 1960s and 1970s were pretty crazy
around the country. What was it like here in Palatka?
S: It was pretty good here. There was nothing out of the ordinary.
M: Life was pretty quiet?
S: Yes. I remember taking a vacation when I worked in East Palatka with my daughter.
I took three grandkids and went back to Indiana for a visit. Do you remember that?
M: Yes. Tell me a little bit about that trip.
S: I saved up enough fifty-cent pieces from tips--I had saved up $500--and I decided we
would run up and see my sisters. We got in the car and got a friend of mine to go
with us to help us drive.
M: Who was your friend?
S: Mae McDaniels.
M: How long had you been friends with her?
S: I first met her in the 1950s.
M: Was she a hairdresser also?
S: No, but her daughter was. Her daughter worked with us.
M: What was her daughter's name?
S: Sandra McDaniels. Mae was not a hairdresser, but she was a good friend. She liked
to travel a lot, and any time you asked her to go she was sitting on ready. We went
to South Bend, Indiana, first. We got my sister there and then went up to Toledo,
Ohio, to visit my other sister. We were gone for two weeks. I had not told my
husband where I was going, and he kept calling and calling everywhere. Finally he
got through to us in about a week's time. He said, "Why didn't you tell me that you
were going?" I said: "Well, you wasn't home to tell yet. I decided on the spur of the
moment." I could never find him home to call him, so I waited for him to find me.
Coming back we loaded up on typewriters. What all else did we get? Do you
remember getting the typewriter, or was that Anna that got it?
M: Maybe Mary. She was the typist.
S: I guess it was Mary that got the typewriter. We had it all on that Mustang. We had
to buy a rack to put all that stuff up there.
M: You were good to bring home [all that stuff].
S: Yes, we had all kinds of stuff. We had been shopping everywhere. So we drove
back and took our time. Where did we stop in Georgia?
M: Six Flags. The amusement park.
S: Yes. We had a good time there. We spent the night in Atlanta that night. Then
we came on back home. We had a good vacation. We visited a lot of museums and
stuff up there.
M: And you got to visit your sisters.
S: Yes, I got to visit my sisters.
M: Had it been a while since you had seen Lilly and Jewel?
S: It had been ten years since I had seen them, so we really had a good reunion. Then
we came on back.
I worked with my daughter over in East Palatka for I guess about five years. She
got sick and decided to sell the shop. She sold it to Bill Hamilton. He was not any
kin to me, but his last name was Hamilton. It caught on fire one night and got
burned down; the whole building burned down. So I went on down the road to
Annette's Beauty Shop, and I worked down there for about seven years. We got
along real good, and I loved working down there. Then I left there and opened up
a beauty shop over at Crescent Beach. My granddaughter Anna Belle moved up
here, and we went into business together over there. We named that shop Anna
Belle's. It was fun working over there, too. That was after my husband had died.
It was in 1979 when we opened over there.
M: So your husband died in 1979?
S: Yes, in June 1979.
M: How did he die?
S: Cancer of the prostate. We worked over there quite a while. Then I got tired of
living at the beach. It was so hot and all during the summertime that I just wanted
to come back home, so I moved back to Palatka. Then I went to work at Nola's
Beauty Shop. I had always wanted to work for Nola.
M: Oh, you knew her and respected her?
S: She was the one that Diana worked for when she first got out of beauty school. She
worked for her for about ten years.
M: And you always liked her and wanted to work for her.
S: Yes, because she was the nicest person to work with and work for. So I worked with
her there until she sold the shop. She sold it, but she had to take it back; she has
it back now. But now I am not able to work.
M: So you must have been in the hairdressing business for a little over twenty-five years.
S: Close to thirty.
M: Almost thirty. And you enjoyed it.
S: I sure did. I loved it. I would like to get up now and go to work in the morning if
M: So you miss it.
S: I miss it real bad.
M: What is it that you miss most about it?
S: Seeing the people and visiting with them and talking to them and hearing all the wild
M: I guess you have heard a few wild stories.
S: Oh, yes, I sure have.
M: Can you tell us any? Can you think of anything offhand?
S: It was just mostly gossip. One morning I went to work before daylight, and about
10:00 someone came in and said, "Are you having car trouble?" I said, "No. Why?"
They said: "There is a man under your car out there. I thought he was working on
it." I went running out there to see what was going on and saw his feet sticking out.
I went up and kicked his feet and asked, "What are you doing?" He did not answer,
so I raised down and looked. He had already turned black; he had died. The man
next door came running and saying: "Call the police! Anne has run over a man!
Call the police!" They called the police, and they got me from work. It was
Saturday, my busiest day, and here they took me over by the restaurant next door.
They sat there all day long and questioned me about that man, because he lived in
a trailer park right in the back of where I lived.
M: So they thought you knew him.
S: Yes, and they thought I had run over him and dragged him over there. [laughter]
M: They thought you dragged him all the way?
S: All the way over there. That evening they let me come home, and they said I would
be hearing from them. The next day I did not hear anything, so I called the police
station. The man said: "Right here is that report. He died of a heart attack." And
they did not even bother to call and tell me about it! I was upset over that. I sold
my car the next week. I did not want to drive it, because a man had died under it.
They said that he had a heart attack and kicked around and just kicked himself
under the car. You know how they kind of go into convulsions and stuff with a heart
M: I remember hearing a story about you going to a beauty convention, a hairdressers
S: Oh, to Santo Domingo [Dominican Republic].
M: Was that the first time you had ever been out of the country?
M: Can you tell me about what that experience was like?
S: Oh, that was great. We went to Santo Domingo. We got a plane out of West Palm
M: Who went with you?
S: Diana and her husband and George Curry [and his wife] April and Carolyn Cannon.
All of them were a marriage set. I guess there were about 150 people there from
Daytona and all around. We really had a good time. We stayed in the biggest hotel
in Santo Domingo. The funniest thing: my son-in-law looks like Jonathan Winters,
the comedian, and this newspaper man spotted him right away. He took a liking to
him, so he decided to take us out to the country the next day. Here he came bright
and early to the hotel to take us out to the country. He got us out in the country
when he said he had to go and interview Liz Taylor--she was getting a divorce over
there at the time--and he left us at what he said was his brother-in-law's restaurant.
They could not speak one word of English, and we could not speak any Spanish. We
got in there and were trying to find the bathroom. I [was wringing my hands and]
said, "Wash your hands." [laughter]
M: Trying to communicate with them.
S: Yes. Finally one of the waiters realized what I was doing, and he said, "Right that
way." He could speak English. All of those people over there act like they cannot
speak English, but they can. So we stayed out there, and it was getting [to be] about
4:00 or 5:00 in the evening. We had been there all day long, and we did not know
how to get back. There was no way we could call a taxi. We got scared of that man,
because he took us out there like that. Lord! We did not know what to ask for to
eat. We just sat there, and they stood around and watched us. This was way out in
Finally that evening that man came back. He came back the next morning wanting
us to go again, but we were afraid to ever leave the hotel with him again. He had
taken us out there like that.
M: Yes, and left you.
S: I know it. But we had such a good time.
M: How long were you there?
S: We were there seven days. Going back from the hotel to catch the plane, Carolyn
and I were on [the] bus and the rest of them had gone on another bus going to the
airport. We went down this road that they were putting tar on, and it splashed in
there and splashed all over Carolyn. She looked like a guinea egg. [laughter] She
was just splattered all over. I was afraid to tell her about it. We went to the gate
to get in, and they were pointing to her. She was sitting by the window. They would
not let her in.
M: Why not?
S: They thought she had some kind of disease. [laughter] So her tour guide, the one
that took us down there that headed the show, was standing out over there, and I
saw him over to the fence just a-laughin' and carrying' on. He was laughing so hard
he could not tell them to let her in. They were fixing to overturn the government
over there at that same time. We had been back about a month when they
overthrew the government and killed the king or the president. We were scared to
death, anyway, because everywhere we went there were soldiers with guns pointing
right at you. Finally we ran into a Spanish woman who could speak English. We
told her what had happened and why they would not let us in, and so she went to
the gate and got us in. And there was old Bob just sitting there on this bench, just
a-laughin' and carrying' on. Nobody had told Carolyn what had happened. Then she
saw Diana, and Diana said, "What happened to your face?" Then she got to looking
M: And began to realize [what had happened].
S: Yes, and then she got mad at me for not telling her. [laughter] But we had a time
getting back from down there.
M: Well, it sounds like there was quite a bit of tension. You could tell something was
S: And when the plane landed over there, they said if anyone had any marijuana or any
pills that were not prescription they would be shot on the spot.
M: Oh, my gosh. They told you that as you were getting off the plane?
S: Yes. Frank Sinatra had been over there a month before, and they would not let him
off the plane.
M: How come?
S: Because they said he was a gangster, and they would not let him off the plane. So
it was trying times over there. We could not buy anything to drink or anything.
Finally we found a supermarket where we got a couple of bottles, and we went back
to the hotel and drowned our sorrows. [laughter]
M: So your daughter and son-in-law were on this trip. Your daughter is Diana, and at
that point she was married.
S: To Bill Cubbage.
M: So it was Diana and Bill Cubbage. He sounds like a character. Do you have any
stories about him? Any good ones?
S: I do not know about him. There have been some stories about him.
M: What about any of the other people that married your children? Do you have any
funny family stories?
S: No. Before we left Santo Domingo I took the flu that week, and I had to stay in bed
most of the time. Then when we got to the airport I told that man, "If you empty
my stuff like you are doing everybody else's you can have it." He said, "You do not
have anything to declare, then, do you?" I showed him what I had. I said: "If you
empty that out you are going to have to take it because I do not want it. I am not
able to put it back in the suitcase."
M: You felt so weak.
S: And then I got back to the airport in West Palm Beach, and I was too sick to use
the telephone. They just piled my stuff out on the ground out there, and everybody
got in their cars and left--they left me stranded. I was just lying there throwing up.
It was awful! Finally one of the hairdressers from Daytona Beach came by and said,
"Do you mean they have all went and left you?" and I said yes. He said, "Can I use
the phone to get you some help?" I gave him the phone number of my daughter in
West Palm Beach because she had my car. He called her, and she came and picked
me up. I had to stay down there about two more weeks before I got over that [flu]
to come home. You and your husband Joey brought me home.
M: I remember that. That was in the mid 1970s.
S: Yes, about 1975.
M: By then you were in this house. You had moved from town back out here.
S: Out here, just outside of the city limits. That is when my husband had gone into the
fish [bait and tackle business]. He had ponds of fish out here.
M: So at that point he was raising bait and marketing it.
M: Did that allow him more time to spend with you at home, or did he get even busier?
S: No, he had more time. In the evenings when he would go to deliver bait I would
go with him all the time, so that worked out pretty good.
M: Those were good times, delivering bait all over this area.
S: Yes, and Jacksonville and Salt Springs and Lake George and all up and down the
[St. Johns] River.
M: And you got to know lots of people out there.
S: Yes, we sure did. At the fish camps we would always stop and go in. Maybe we
would even eat supper at one of them and grab a beer at one or two of them and
stuff like that.
M: Can you think of anybody out there at the fish camps that was a particular character
to you that you were impressed with?
S: Let me think. There was Pat Boone's uncle that lived down there on the river and
had a fish camp, but I cannot remember his first name. Anyway, I met Pat Boone
there one time.
M: Oh, yeah? What was that like?
S: It was real good, because he was real friendly. I shook hands with him and
everything. I got his autograph. It was nice.
M: Yes. Those were good people out there.
S: Yes, they are nice people.
M: This must have been a good time for you and your husband. You were spending
some time together and traveling around a bit. What was he like at this point?
S: He was good. He never turned anybody down for anything. Everybody owed him
money. He never turned anybody down, especially if they had children. He would
always help them out.
I remember one time we were going to the beach. We had run past this car, and
there were about eight or ten children. We stopped the car and backed up. They
had blown a tire out and did not have a spare. Those little children were so thirsty
and crying. So we went up to the next station, and he bought them a tire and two
or three cases of drinks and took them back to them. Those children were in bad
shape. Nobody had stopped, and she did not have any money or anything. She was
just taking the kids to the beach. So he fixed her tire, and she said, "Where do you
live so I can pay you when I get home?" He said: "Just forget about it. If it should
ever happen to someone else, just help them. Just don't say anything about it." He
told me not to mention it to anybody. He never would let anybody know what he
had done. He was just a real good person.
When he died this man walked up to the preacher down at the church, and he said:
"Leonard Strange was a good friend to me and my family. My son got killed in a
car wreck. I did not have any insurance, no money, or anything, and Leonard
Strange buried my son. He never would make me pay him or he would not take any
money on it or anything. He was just a good person."
M: And you did not know about that.
S: No, because he would not tell anybody or anything. I did not know about it either.
M: He just did these good deeds.
S: After he died people came forward telling what all he had done for them, things I
did not even know about. He never would tell me anything about it or anything.
M: I remember specifically a family whose father was in prison.
S: Yes, and they came to the funeral with those little girls. He had been giving them
Christmas money for two or three years since her husband and the children's father
had been in prison. He sold them bait; they had a little bait place. The children
would not be getting anything for Christmas, so he gave their mother money to get
them something. There were a lot of good deeds he did.
M: What year did he die?
S: [He died in] 1979.
M: Your grandchildren have grown up and gotten married, and you have a whole batch
M: Let us go through their names. Butch got married and has a son, Michael.
S: And a daughter Tabatha. Jodie got married, and he has a son, Creston, and a little
daughter, Marsha Lacey.
M: And your granddaughter Mary?
S: Mary has two children, a little boy, Tommy, and a little girl named Sara. And then
Anna has a little boy named Tate.
M: How does it feel to be a great-grandmother?
S: It feels good. I love kids. I have always loved kids. Of course, I do not have as
much patience with the little ones now like I did with the grandchildren. But I was
a lot younger then. But they are nice little children.
M: Michael and Tabatha live right next door to you, so you are near them.
S: Yes. I babysat with Tabatha till she was ready to go to school.
M: So you are very close to Tabatha.
S: Yes, I am closer to her than the rest of them.
M: What kind of a child is she?
S: Oh, she is a wonderful little girl. When I was sick in the hospital two or three weeks
ago my dog was sick. He would not eat anything unless you hand-fed him and talked
to him to get him to eat. She came over and fed him while I was in the hospital.
Finally he died. He was about nineteen years old. He just got so old.
M: Let me see. Tommy and Sara are a handful.
S: Yes, they are. They are cute little kids, I'll tell you. Little Tommy with his baseball
suit on is as cute as he can be.
M: And you got a phone call from Sara recently?
S: Yes. Sara calls me every once in a while. She is the only one that calls me. I
cannot understand too much of what she says. She called me the other night, and
I could understand a lot more, so she is getting better, I think, with her speech.
M: And Creston and Lacey? Lacey is just a baby now.
S: Yes. She is as cute as she can be. I went out there the other night, and she came
a-running with her hands thrown up. She was trying to cry, and she is so fat she
cannot limp; she would fall. They got her there, and Jodie picked her up and threw
her up on the bed. They saw five thumb tacks in the bottoms of her feet. She had
stepped on them.
M: Oh, my goodness.
S: Creston had poured them out on the rug, and she was just hollering.
M: No wonder!
S: And she was too fat to limp, and she had put all her weight on her feet. They had
imbedded in there, too.
M: What about little Tate? You have met him only a few times. He lives down in West
S: He is a little card, I'll tell you. He is the most pleasant baby I have ever met.
M: You still live on your own here in Palatka, and you have filled your house with little
friends--pets. Can you tell me about your pets?
S: I had four dogs, and I lost three of them. Then I got another one. Theh I have
another poodle here that is nine years old now.
M: What is her name?
S: Mitzy. Her real name is Cynthia Rumae on her birth certificate. Then I have about
fifty birds out there. I am fixing to sell off some of them. They are cockatiels. They
are the cutest things. Quite a few of them talk.
M: They keep you company?
S: Yes, they sure do. And I have a little canary that sings all the time, and that is cute.
I have a parrot. He is kind of mean to everybody but me. [laughter] He raises the
roof when somebody comes in.
M: I remember the story that you were out of the house. Tell me about that.
S: It was around Christmastime, and I went with the people next door to watch the
Christmas parade. When I finally got back home my neighbor came running and
said, "Call the sheriffs office right away!" I said, "Lord, what have I done now?"
I called, and they said: "Mrs. Strange, we are so glad to get in touch with you. They
are out looking everywhere for you. Someway your phone got off the hook" (I think
Mitzy knocked it off), "and the bird was hollering 'Help! Help! Help! Help!'" The
operator kept hearing that bird saying "Help! Help," so she called the sheriffs
department. They sent the ambulance and two fire trucks out and two sheriffs
cars. They searched the ponds back here where I live, the fish ponds where we used
to keep the fish. They went out there with sticks, probing down in that trying to find
me. They searched my house up one side and down the other. So they were fixing
to come back out here when I called down there, and the operator said: "I have to
stop them. They are going to be back out at your house." So she called them and
stopped them from coming back. They were so glad. She said, "Where have you
been?" I said: "I went to the parade. I did not know I was supposed to call you.
From now on, am I supposed to call you?" [laughter]
M: How did they get past the dogs?
S: I do not know. I think they tranquilized them. I think that is what happened.
M: Oh, goodness.
S: The dogs will not let anyone in the house, and their eyes were real red when I came
home. They probably shot mace in them and everything else. [laughter]
M: Just to get through to look for you.
S: Yes. The police and the ambulance and everybody were in here looking.
M: Well, Anna Belle Strange, thank you very much for spending this afternoon with me
and going over your life.
S: You are welcome.