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IRC 7
Interviewee: Pernell Kennedy
Interviewer: Pete Thompson
Date: April 23, 1969


T: This is a recording of some experiences of Pernell Kennedy, not an old timer
because he is not that old, but they should be interesting experiences. This
recording is experiences of Pernell Kennedy who has lived all of his life in the
Vero Beach area. I just wanted to ask Pernell to start out and tell a little bit about
when his father came here.

K: That was back in the early 1900s, Mr. Thompson, and he was working on the
railroad back on the Florida East Coast Railway. He was working on a section,
and he liked what he saw in this area here, and he decided to move here. He
was from Gainesville.

T: You had an uncle here whose name was Frank Harris.

K: A great-uncle, yes, Frank Harris, who was really a pioneer of this area. He came
in 1889 at the age of thirteen. He came with his father back in 1889, and they
stayed here for some time. His father built a palmetto shack, and that is where
they lived.

T: About where was that located?

K: Located north of the Gordon Motel, which is in the north city limits of Vero
Beach.

T: Okay. Now, how are you related to Frank Harris?

K: Frank Harris was my great-uncle. He was my mother's uncle.

T: Did your mother come to visit him, and your father met her?

K: That is right. My mother came when she was sixteen years old to live with Uncle
Frank due to health. She had asthma very bad, and the doctors in Virginia
recommended she come to Florida.

T: That is an interesting romance. Your father, was he in citrus at all?

K: No. My father, at that time, was postmaster of the city of Gifford and, also, he
had a store.

T: Oh yes. He was the second postmaster, in fact, wasn't he?


K: I think so, yes.









IRC 7
Page 2

T: Wasn't Brown the first postmaster?

K: I could not say for sure, but he was a postmaster, I would say, probably
somewhere around 1911 to 1913 on to about 1919 or 1920.

T: Frank Harris was interested particularly in the early days in raising beans and
vegetables, wasn't he?

K: That is right, yes.

T: Then did he get into citrus?

K: In a small way. He did live for a while over on Orchid Island over there. He lived
there and had a small grove over there. He grew some citrus there, and they
would ship it back north by barrels.

T: Did you ever hear the story about the Vero Post Office getting a higher rating
because of the money that Frank Harris spent shipping beans?

K: I sure have, a number of times.

T: Could you tell that story?

K: Well, it seems as though they were having trouble shipping. I do not recall if it
was a strike or what it was, but he could not ship any beans and he had a lot of
them down there, so he got the wild idea of shipping them through the post
office, and he did. Consequently, he really got a good pile of money out of it.

T: And he spent so much money on postage shipping beans that it raised the
classification of the post office of Vero.

K: That is right.

T: You went through the Depression here as a young lad, as I recall?

K: I sure did.

T: Could you tell just a little bit about some of the experiences in the Depression
years?

K: Back then, of course, I was going to grammar school and to high school. We
used to do a lot of fishing in the afternoons and on Saturdays. We would catch
fish and put them on a string and sell them for whatever we could get for them,
$0.25 or $0.35, what we did not eat ourselves. We would oyster when the oyster
season was in, and we would fish when we were not oystering.









IRC 7
Page 3

T: At that time, things were pretty blue. We have very few records of the status here
during the Depression in Vero. It was Vero Beach at that time, wasn't it?

K: That is right.

T: The citrus was not too prominent at that time, was it?

K: Well, citrus was prominent, of course nothing like it is today, but it was prominent.
Everyone was having a tough time then. I mean, it was hard to get anything for
your citrus. There was not, naturally, nowhere near the planting there is today.

T: Was the citrus at that time concentrated at any one spot, or was it just scattered?

K: No. Back then, most of your citrus was grown on the ridge that runs through here
and down on the river. That was where the citrus was planted. It was not planted
back in the woods then. I mean, most of the citrus was planted on the ridge and
right on the river.

T: There is a gentleman named Quentis Bobo who still has quite a large [and]
beautiful grapefruit grove over there. Is that the original grove that he put in when
he first came here?

K: Now, his father is the one who had planted the original grove. Quentis is the
oldest son of, I think, Mr. Walter Bobo, who you are speaking of. Yes, part of that
is the old Bobo grove that is quite old.

T: That is along the river just about opposite Gifford, isn't it?

K: Well, it is about in the middle of Gifford on towards the river, yes.

T: Now, you have quite a few groves here now. Are they concentrated, or are they
mostly along the river?

K: With the exception of two groves, they are on the river. We have groves at
Gifford in Winter Beach, and we also have a grove on Orchid Island. Then, we
have a couple of groves...in fact, we just sold one, which leaves us one grove out
west of town.

T: I would like to get back to Frank Harris for a minute. You told me so many stories
about him. He was, indeed, an interesting man. I remember reading about when
they were digging the canal here, the drainage canal, and he found some bones
and he stopped them. He was very interested gathering these bones, and he
notified the authorities. I think they named a wolf that he found some remnants of
after him. Do you remember this?









IRC 7
Page 4

K: Yes, I remember hearing something about that. Also, you know, they found quite
a few bones here, and they even started a museum up on the north relief canal,
well, the canal right north of the city here. He started a museum there and, in
fact, I have some pictures of that down at the place. They had on display all of
the bones that were found here, and they had a little trail that led down to the
water's edge and some cutouts of animals and things like that. They had a little
tour over there that he gave the people.

T: What finally became of that museum?

K: I do not really know. I cannot recall his name now who got the majority of the
bones. Uncle Frank kept quite a few of them, but what has happened to them I
really do not know.

T: It is too bad we do not have them today.

K: That is right.

T: You have really not had as many years as some of the old-timers, but I think you
have had some mighty interesting experiences here. I presume that you put up
with mosquitos just as badly as most anyone. You made a remark at one time
that it was your opinion that everybody in the world had to fight mosquitos like
they did here in Vero. Is that the way you looked at it?

K: I sure thought so. They were bad. In the summertime, they were very bad. Of
course, we all back in the summer, you know, we burned cabbage roots and
anything we could get up around the doors all day long, so when you would go in
and out, too many mosquitos would not get in. But at times, during the summer,
they were very bad, very bad.

T: Did you carry a mosquito brush?

K: I never carried a mosquito brush because, like I said, of course, I was just a small
boy and naturally, we were probably running and skipping most of the time. I
never did carry a brush, but I do know of a lot of people who used to carry
mosquito brushes when they would be walking.

T: Now, those mosquito brushes were made of the pieces of fronds?

K: Yes, my Aunt Dallas, who was Uncle Frank's wife, made them and sold them.
She made mosquito brushes, and she also made whisk brooms, and she made
hats. In fact, I very seldom ever saw Uncle Frank in a hat that was not made by
Aunt Dallas. She made all of his hats and she made, like I said, the mosquito
brushes and sold them. That is the way she would get some money.









IRC 7
Page 5

T: These old-timers, they had to have many, many capabilities to get along. Of
course, there was no ice at that time. Was meat dried, or how did they...?

K: No. The meat was just like it is now, except we lived out on the grove which was
on the north Gifford road down towards the river and we would never buy fresh
meat except on the weekends. They would cook it right then so it would not spoil.
We did not have any refrigeration, and the milk we drank was warm. When we
did get ice, it was a novelty. We enjoyed it.

T: I marvel at the way people endured many of the hardships that they had to in the
early days. Of course, the mosquitos were the worst. Can you think of any
others?

K: Well, the mosquitos and the sand gnats, sandflies, were very bad. Of course, we
thought that the whole world was going on the same way we were, so we really
did not think we were missing anything.

T: As long as everyone was equal, then it did not matter.

K: That is right.

T: Colonel Little told me that when he surveyed for a road through here that he sent
a detail of men ahead of him to kill the snakes so that the rest of the surveyors
could follow along and not be afraid of rattlesnakes. Were snakes around the part
of the country that you were familiar with at that time?

K: No. As I am sitting here, I only recall seeing one live rattlesnake in the groves
since I have been a little boy. Now, there were a lot of snakes, moccasins, black
snakes and things like that, but they were not as plentiful when I was coming up.
In fact, I guess you see about as many snakes now as you did then, maybe not
quite as much, but then there never were a lot of snakes, as I recall.

T: What school did you attend?

K: I attended Vero Beach High School.

T: Where was that located?

K: The same spot it is today.

T: Do you see very much difference in the schools today then at that time?

K: Oh yes. It is much bigger now than it was, and it is much nicer, naturally. But it is
in the same building. The same buildings that I went to are still being used.









IRC 7
Page 6

T: As I recall, you played football when you were there?

K: I tried to.

T: I understand that you were captain one year?

K: No. Another boy and I, Columbus Howard and I, were co-captains my senior
year. I believe it was the season of 1939.

T: I saw your son knock a lad out there who got in his way.

K: I hope he did, but I did not see him.

T: Well, he did not stay in his way at all. It is interesting to talk to you about the days
when you were young here, Pernell. You are not an old man yet.

K: Well, I am forty-nine.

T: You are just about the same age that the City of Vero is. In 1919, the City of Vero
got its charter, and this year, they are going to have a commemoration of that
date, the 50th Anniversary of that date. I think it was June 10 when the document
was signed, and they had their first meeting on June 12, 1919. So, you were born
just about the same time that the City of Vero.

K: I was born August, 1919.

T: Is there anything that you would like to remark about as to some of the pleasures
or some of the difficulties in the early days?

K: No. The only thing is, like I said, we used to do a lot of fishing back in those days,
and the fish sure did bite a lot better. There was a lot more of them than there are
now. We used to catch a lot of fish and a lot of big fish. Of course, I do not do
much fishing now, but from what I can understand, the fishing is kind of skimpy.
But we used to catch a lot of big bass and snug and trout, and sheepshead. Just
about anytime you wanted to go out there, you could catch plenty of fish.

T: They say that there used to be good hunting here?

K: I never was a hunter, but Uncle Frank was a great hunter, and I have heard him
tell about hunting bear and deer and also about deer being right in their yard
when he would get up in the morning. Sometimes, he would look out the window
and deer would be in their gardens. There was a lot of good hunting back in
those days, I am sure.

T: Let's see. Mr. Michael said that the Deerfield Packing name came because of the









IRC 7
Page 7

deer that came into the field there next to their house on Orchid Island.

K: Yes. There was a lot of deer at one time over there. There were quite a few
bears, too.

T: They had a bridge here across north of here, the first bridge, wasn't it?

K: They had a bridge at Winter Beach. Actually, it was in three portions. Yes, they
had three bridges there going across over to the ocean. They also had a bridge
there at John's Island, which carried you from that peninsula...

T: Do you recall those bridges?

K: Oh sure, definitely.

T: Who were those built by, do you remember?

K: I really could not tell you who they were built by.

T: I will have to look that up. It would be interesting to have a history of the bridges
here. After we get this new bridge at Wabasso built and then another bridge at
Vero Beach, we will be really quite well taken care of.

K: We sure will.

T: Well, thanks very much, Pernell, for this little talk. We want to make a series of
recordings so that we can put this away and, maybe, 100 years from now they
can take it out and they can find out what Vero Beach was like in the earlier days.
My name is Pete Thompson, William C. really, and I have been very much
interested in the history of this area. I had known very little about it, but I have
tried to dig around and talk to the old-timers and learn something.

K: Thank you, Mr. Thompson.


[End of the interview.]









April 23, 1969
Interviewer is Pete Thompson
Interviewee is Pernell Kennedy

T: This is a recording of some experiences of Pernell Kennedy, not an old timer

because he is not that old, but they should be interesting experiences. This

recording is experiences of Pernell Kennedy who has lived all of his life in the

Vero Beach area. I just wanted to ask Pernell to start out and tell a little bit about

when his father came here.

K: That was back in the early 1900s, Mr. Thompson, and he was working on the

railroad back on the Florida East Coast Railway. He was working on a section,

and he liked what he saw in this area here, and he decided to move here. He

was from Gainesville.

T: You had an uncle here whose name was Frank Harris.

K: A great-uncle, yes, Frank Harris, who was really a pioneer of this area. He came

in 1889 at the age of thirteen. He came with his father back in 1889, and they

stayed here for some time. His father built a palmetto shack, and that is where

they lived.

T: About where was that located?

K: Located north of the Gordon Motel, which is in the north city limits of Vero

Beach.

T: Okay. Now, how are you related to Frank Harris?

K: Frank Harris was my great-uncle. He was my mother's uncle.

T: Did your mother come to visit him, and your father met her?

K: That is right. My mother came when she was sixteen years old to live with Uncle









Frank due to health. She had asthma very bad, and the doctors in Virginia

recommended she come to Florida.

T: That is an interesting romance. Your father, was he in citrus at all?

K: No. My father, at that time, was postmaster of the city of Gifford and, also, he

had a store.

T: Oh yes. He was the second postmaster, in fact, wasn't he?

K: I think so, yes.

T: Wasn't Brown the first postmaster?

K: I could not say for sure, but he was a postmaster, I would say, probably

somewhere around 1911 to 1913 on to about 1919 or 1920.

T: Frank Harris was interested particularly in the early days in raising beans and

vegetables, wasn't he?

K: That is right, yes.

T: Then did he get into citrus?

K: In a small way. He did live for a while over on Orchid Island over there. He lived

there and had a small grove over there. He grew some citrus there, and they

would ship it back north by barrels.

T: Did you ever hear the story about the Vero Post Office getting a higher rating

because of the money that Frank Harris spent shipping beans?

K: I sure have, a number of times.

T: Could you tell that story?

K: Well, it seems as though they were having trouble shipping. I do not recall if it

was a strike or what it was, but he could not ship any beans and he had a lot of









them down there, so he got the wild idea of shipping them through the post

office, and he did. Consequently, he really got a good pile of money out of it.

T: And he spent so much money on postage shipping beans that it raised the

classification of the post office of Vero.

K: That is right.

T: You went through the Depression here as a young lad, as I recall?

K: I sure did.

T: Could you tell just a little bit about some of the experiences in the Depression

years?

K: Back then, of course, I was going to grammar school and to high school. We

used to do a lot of fishing in the afternoons and on Saturdays. We would catch

fish and put them on a string and sell them for whatever we could get for them,

$0.25 or $0.35, what we did not eat ourselves. We would oyster when the oyster

season was in, and we would fish when we were not oystering.

T: At that time, things were pretty blue. We have very few records of the status here

during the Depression in Vero. It was Vero Beach at that time, wasn't it?

K: That is right.

T: The citrus was not too prominent at that time, was it?

K: Well, citrus was prominent, of course nothing like it is today, but it was prominent.

Everyone was having a tough time then. I mean, it was hard to get anything for

your citrus. There was not, naturally, nowhere near the planting there is today.

T: Was the citrus at that time concentrated at any one spot, or was it just scattered?

K: No. Back then, most of your citrus was grown on the ridge that runs through here









and down on the river. That was where the citrus was planted. It was not planted

back in the woods then. I mean, most of the citrus was planted on the ridge and

right on the river.

T: There is a gentleman named Quentis Bobo who still has quite a large [and]

beautiful grapefruit grove over there. Is that the original grove that he put in when

he first came here?

K: Now, his father is the one who had planted the original grove. Quentis is the

oldest son of, I think, Mr. Walter Bobo, who you are speaking of. Yes, part of that

is the old Bobo grove that is quite old.

T: That is along the river just about opposite Gifford, isn't it?

K: Well, it is about in the middle of Gifford on towards the river, yes.

T: Now, you have quite a few groves here now. Are they concentrated, or are they

mostly along the river?

K: With the exception of two groves, they are on the river. We have groves at

Gifford in Winter Beach, and we also have a grove on Orchid Island. Then, we

have a couple of groves...in fact, we just sold one, which leaves us one grove out

west of town.

T: I would like to get back to Frank Harris for a minute. You told me so many stories

about him. He was, indeed, an interesting man. I remember reading about when

they were digging the canal here, the drainage canal, and he found some bones

and he stopped them. He was very interested gathering these bones, and he

notified the authorities. I think they named a wolf that he found some remnants of

after him. Do you remember this?









K: Yes, I remember hearing something about that. Also, you know, they found quite

a few bones here, and they even started a museum up on the north relief canal,

well, the canal right north of the city here. He started a museum there and, in

fact, I have some pictures of that down at the place. They had on display all of

the bones that were found here, and they had a little trail that led down to the

water's edge and some cutouts of animals and things like that. They had a little

tour over there that he gave the people.

T: What finally became of that museum?

K: I do not really know. I cannot recall his name now who got the majority of the

bones. Uncle Frank kept quite a few of them, but what has happened to them I

really do not know.

T: It is too bad we do not have them today.

K: That is right.

T: You have really not had as many years as some of the old-timers, but I think you

have had some mighty interesting experiences here. I presume that you put up

with mosquitos just as badly as most anyone. You made a remark at one time

that it was your opinion that everybody in the world had to fight mosquitos like

they did here in Vero. Is that the way you looked at it?

K: I sure thought so. They were bad. In the summertime, they were very bad. Of

course, we all back in the summer, you know, we burned cabbage roots and

anything we could get up around the doors all day long, so when you would go in

and out, too many mosquitos would not get in. But at times, during the summer,

they were very bad, very bad.









T: Did you carry a mosquito brush?

K: I never carried a mosquito brush because, like I said, of course, I was just a small

boy and naturally, we were probably running and skipping most of the time. I

never did carry a brush, but I do know of a lot of people who used to carry

mosquito brushes when they would be walking.

T: Now, those mosquito brushes were made of the pieces of fronds?

K: Yes, my Aunt Dallas, who was Uncle Frank's wife, made them and sold them.

She made mosquito brushes, and she also made whisk brooms, and she made

hats. In fact, I very seldom ever saw Uncle Frank in a hat that was not made by

Aunt Dallas. She made all of his hats and she made, like I said, the mosquito

brushes and sold them. That is the way she would get some money.

T: These old-timers, they had to have many, many capabilities to get along. Of

course, there was no ice at that time. Was meat dried, or how did they...?

K: No. The meat was just like it is now, except we lived out on the grove which was

on the north Gifford road down towards the river and we would never buy fresh

meat except on the weekends. They would cook it right then so it would not spoil.

We did not have any refrigeration, and the milk we drank was warm. When we

did get ice, it was a novelty. We enjoyed it.

T: I marvel at the way people endured many of the hardships that they had to in the

early days. Of course, the mosquitos were the worst. Can you think of any

others?

K: Well, the mosquitos and the sand gnats, sandflies, were very bad. Of course, we

thought that the whole world was going on the same way we were, so we really









did not think we were missing anything.

T: As long as everyone was equal, then it did not matter.

K: That is right.

T: Colonel Little told me that when he surveyed for a road through here that he sent

a detail of men ahead of him to kill the snakes so that the rest of the surveyors

could follow along and not be afraid of rattlesnakes. Were snakes around the part

of the country that you were familiar with at that time?

K: No. As I am sitting here, I only recall seeing one live rattlesnake in the groves

since I have been a little boy. Now, there were a lot of snakes, moccasins, black

snakes and things like that, but they were not as plentiful when I was coming up.

In fact, I guess you see about as many snakes now as you did then, maybe not

quite as much, but then there never were a lot of snakes, as I recall.

T: What school did you attend?

K: I attended Vero Beach High School.

T: Where was that located?

K: The same spot it is today.

T: Do you see very much difference in the schools today then at that time?

K: Oh yes. It is much bigger now than it was, and it is much nicer, naturally. But it is

in the same building. The same buildings that I went to are still being used.

T: As I recall, you played football when you were there?

K: I tried to.

T: I understand that you were captain one year?

K: No. Another boy and I, Columbus Howard and I, were co-captains my senior









year. I believe it was the season of 1939.

T: I saw your son knock a lad out there who got in his way.

K: I hope he did, but I did not see him.

T: Well, he did not stay in his way at all. It is interesting to talk to you about the days

when you were young here, Pernell. You are not an old man yet.

K: Well, I am forty-nine.

T: You are just about the same age that the City of Vero is. In 1919, the City of Vero

got its charter, and this year, they are going to have a commemoration of that

date, the 50th Anniversary of that date. I think it was June 10 when the document

was signed, and they had their first meeting on June 12, 1919. So, you were born

just about the same time that the City of Vero.

K: I was born August, 1919.

T: Is there anything that you would like to remark about as to some of the pleasures

or some of the difficulties in the early days?

K: No. The only thing is, like I said, we used to do a lot of fishing back in those days,

and the fish sure did bite a lot better. There was a lot more of them than there are

now. We used to catch a lot of fish and a lot of big fish. Of course, I do not do

much fishing now, but from what I can understand, the fishing is kind of skimpy.

But we used to catch a lot of big bass and snug and trout, and sheepshead. Just

about anytime you wanted to go out there, you could catch plenty of fish.

T: They say that there used to be good hunting here?

K: I never was a hunter, but Uncle Frank was a great hunter, and I have heard him

tell about hunting bear and deer and also about deer being right in their yard









when he would get up in the morning. Sometimes, he would look out the window

and deer would be in their gardens. There was a lot of good hunting back in

those days, I am sure.

T: Let's see. Mr. Michael said that the Deerfield Packing name came because of the

deer that came into the field there next to their house on Orchid Island.

K: Yes. There was a lot of deer at one time over there. There were quite a few

bears, too.

T: They had a bridge here across north of here, the first bridge, wasn't it?

K: They had a bridge at Winter Beach. Actually, it was in three portions. Yes, they

had three bridges there going across over to the ocean. They also had a bridge

there at John's Island, which carried you from that peninsula...

T: Do you recall those bridges?

K: Oh sure, definitely.

T: Who were those built by, do you remember?

K: I really could not tell you who they were built by.

T: I will have to look that up. It would be interesting to have a history of the bridges

here. After we get this new bridge at Wabasso built and then another bridge at

Vero Beach, we will be really quite well taken care of.

K: We sure will.

T: Well, thanks very much, Pernell, for this little talk. We want to make a series of

recordings so that we can put this away and, maybe, 100 years from now they

can take it out and they can find out what Vero Beach was like in the earlier days.

My name is Pete Thompson, William C. really, and I have been very much









interested in the history of this area. I had known very little about it, but I have

tried to dig around and talk to the old-timers and learn something.

K: Thank you, Mr. Thompson. [End of Interview.]




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