Southern Belles, Glass Bottom Boats and Jim Crow: Race and Tourism in Mid-20th Century Florida

Material Information

Southern Belles, Glass Bottom Boats and Jim Crow: Race and Tourism in Mid-20th Century Florida
Gresham, Kathryn
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
African American studies ( jstor )
African Americans ( jstor )
Black communities ( jstor )
Boats ( jstor )
Gardens ( jstor )
Glass bottom boats ( jstor )
Paradise ( jstor )
Tourism ( jstor )
United States history ( jstor )
White people ( jstor )
Undergraduate Honors Thesis, History


The tourism industry has arguably been the longest lasting and most influential in Flordia. Originally, the natural beauty of the state brought visitors to the state and entrepreneurs soon capitalized on this phenomenon and built tourist attractions to enhance and enable better viewing of the unique environment. Yet, these places were not available to everyone: Florida, like the rest of the south, was segregated because of Jim Crow traditions and African Americans were not allowed to visit these attractions. This was true for both Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida and Silver Springs in Marion County, Florida. My research is focused on the segregation and integration of Cypress Gardens and of Silver Springs. Cypress Gardens, opened by Dick Pope in 1936, held one day per year that African Americans could visit. Silver Springs was turned into a major tourist attraction by W. Carl Ray and W.M. “Shorty” Davidson in the 1920s. Included was a totally separate area called Paradise Park for African Americans. Cypress Gardens and Silver Springs bore witness to and participated in one of the most difficult times in Florida history, are reflective of the turmoil throughout the state at the time, and paved the way for the tourism industry that we have today. ( en )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [thesis author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EOGDKXY31_6QZUT0 INGEST_TIME 2016-07-13T20:52:37Z PACKAGE AA00046822_00001


Southern Belles, Glass Bottom Boats and Jim Crow: Race and Tourism in Mid 20th Century Florida By Kat hryn Gresham Advisor Dr. Steven Noll University of Florida History Department


Table of Contents Introduction Chapter 1 Section 1 History of Silver Springs 7 Section 2 History of Cypress Gardens Chapter 2 Section 1 Section 2 Chapter 3 Special Day or Special Place Section 1 Negro Day at Cypress Gardens Section 2 Paradise Park for African Americans Chapter 4 Section 1 Winter Haven and Segregation Section 2 O cala and Civil Rights Conclusion


3 Introduction On January 10, 1861 Florida became the third state to secede from the union. Throughout the Civil War Florida was a major player in the Confederate cause. Florida provided men, cattle, and salt, but it was not enough to lead the South to victory. After the Confederacy was defeated Florida moved slowly into Reconstruction when African American s ha d more rights than ever before. After Reconstruction ended in 1877, t he gradual spread of Jim Crow halted the progress of African Americans in the south. In Florida, places remote from larger cities were affected more than urban areas. From 1900 1930 the rate of lynching in Florida was nearly twice as high as in Mississippi, Georgia, or Louisiana. 1 In the midst of this racial upheaval, Florida was still attracting large number s of tourists, mostly from the north. Included in this stream of visitors was, surprisingly, a small but still significant number of African Americans. To help African American tourists navigate the Jim Crow south safely, Victor Green a New York postal employee, published from 1936 to 1964 The t ravel guide series provided African American tourists with the information needed in order to travel safely during the era of segregation. In the forward to the 1956 Green Book Green stated white traveler has had no difficulty in getting accommodati ons, but with the Negro it has been different This guide has made travelling more popular without encountering embarrassing situations. places for African Americans to 1 Michael Gannon, ed., The History of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013). 453


4 pat ron. For example, Ocala only had one overnight lodging the Carmen Manor Motel and t he list for the state of Florida t ook up only two pages 2 Two of the most popular tourist destinations during the late 19 th and into the mi d 20 th centuries were Silver Springs and Cypress Gardens Green listed nei ther in the 1956 edition of his These tourist attractions provided a glimpse of the exotic, the foreign, and maybe even the primitive. A contributor for the March 1937 edition of eign country, but I wanted this foreign country to be inhabited exclusively by Americans and run along American petty cheating on the part of the tradespeople. In Flor 3 The lush Florida landscape had been attracting visitors since before the Civil War and continue d to do so throughout the years after the Civil War Railroads made Florida accessible for people from all over the country. Henry Flagler developed the east c oast of Florida by building the Florida East Coast Railway that would eventually run all the way down to Key West. Finding labor was always a challen ge and Flagler used a variety of people, including African Americ ans to complete the railroad. On the working and liv he laborers, consisting of Italians, Greeks, Germans, and Negroes, are in separate camps ... The rough work of clearing is being done entirely by Negroes, they being accustomed to the use of the axe. 4 2 The Negro Travelers Green Book :: Negro Travelers, accessed April 5, 2016, 3 The Florida Historical Quarterly 80, no. 4 (Spring 2002): 483 503. 4 Labor Problems Of The Florida East Coast Railway Extension From Homestead To Key West: 1905


5 This was just one way in which African Americans made themselves necessary in the growing tourism trade African Americans were essential to the tourism industry in Florida. They made up the majority of cooks, waiters, maids, and bellhops in hotels. 5 It enerations of the same family would work together at resorts or serve as entertainers. Even in St. Augustine, where there was much racial unrest, African Americans could be found driving carriages carrying visitors city. 6 For Silve r Springs and Cypress Gardens, throughout the first seventy years of the 20 th century, African Americans became indispensible. Silver Springs located in Marion County just east of Ocala, became a major attraction be purchased it from Ed Carmichael. They began to make changes that would eventually bring thousands of people to the springs. 7 Cypress Gardens opened in 1935, when Dick and Julie Pope carve d out a tropical paradise from the swampy banks of Lake Eloise in Winter Haven, 8 Both of these locations employ ed prolific advertising campaigns in order to reach the largest audience possible. The beauty of the respective areas was used for movie sets and photographs that would be shown nationwide. 5 Tracy Revels, Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL) 2011 pg 105 6 Ibid,105 7 Tim Hollis, (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2006). 8 Lu Vickers, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010).


6 African Americans helped create the infrastructure of the attractions, were employed there, and provided a generally supportive community from which to pull labor African Americans dug the channels of Cypress Gardens and drove the famous glass bottom boats at Silver Springs. Regardless of these contributions they were not allowed to visit the attractions and enjoy their hard work because of Jim Crow segregation. Even though at times it appeared that Jim Crow in Florida was not as harsh as in the rest of the South it still was a brutal and often violent system 9 In response to segregation, the owners of Silver Springs opened Paradise Park i n 1949 an adjacent area for African Americans to swim, socialize, and see the springs. Cypress Gardens would designate only one day where African Americans could come in and see the gardens. Silver Sp rings and Cypress Gardens engage d these different strategies in or der to address the issue of African Americans wanting to visit their attractions to differing levels of success and effects within the surrounding community. In this thesis I will examine the history of both Silver Springs a nd Cypress Gardens. I will ana lyze how they utilized African Americans as laborers and employees. Furthermore, I will compare and contrast the different methods in place at each attraction that allowed African Americans to visit and enjoy them. Finally, I wil l examine the African Ameri can c ommunities in Winter Haven and Marion County to see what influence a major tourist destination had on the struggle for civil rights. 9 Tracy J. Revels, Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011). 185


Chapter 1 Section 1 History if Silver Springs Silver Springs has been a natural wonder for hundred of years. It expels 500 million gallons of crystal clear water into the Silver River every 24 hours. Tourism first began t here in the 1850s when northern entrepreneur Hubbard Hart started a steamboat lin e specifically designed to traverse the shallow and curved path of the Ocklawaha River, which merged with the Silver River fed by Silver Springs. George Barbour in his 1882 pamphlet on Florida Tourism described the of craft peculiar to the Ocklawah 10 Despite her initial misgivings about travelling on one of these steamboats and even comparing them to a who moved to Florida after the Civil War eventu 11 By the 1880s Silver Springs was popular enough to have its own hotel on the shore, several people rented out rowboats with glass bottoms to see the b eauty of the spring itself, and tou steamboats. A local businessman, Ed Carmichael decided t o capitalize on the success; he purchased Silver Springs and started his own fleet of boats. He boats out of business, but World War I led to a decrease in tourism and put his own boats back on land However, this did not mean that Silver Springs would fade back into the dense forest through which 10 George Barbour, Florida for T ourists, Invalids, and Settlers (New York, D. Appleton and company, 1884), 124, 127 11 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Palmetto Leaves (Boston: J.R. Osgood and Co, 1873). 261 262


8 so many visitors had come. In 1924, Silver Springs faced a major turning point in its history. 12 Another Ocala businessman, William Carl Ray, took interest in the beautiful location and began talks in 1924 with Carmichael to purchase his property, but every time he thought he had reached a deal with Carmichael the price would change. With rising suspicions, Ray parked his car and watched as Carmichael met with another buyer. continued bidding against each other, they would no t get anywh ere so he set up a secret meeting with Davidson. The pair decided to become partners and purchase Silver Springs; it would remain their joint venture for the next 40 years. 13 Ray and Davidson work ed for a decade to upgrade Silver Springs into a modern tou rist attraction. During this time the men took very little away from the profits of the 14 Some of these profi ts went to improving the glass bottom boats, which would become the symbol of Silver Springs. There is some controversy about who invented the glass bottom boat and when it occurred. The official story from Silver Springs is that it was created by Hullam J ones in 1878, another story says it was invented by Phillip Morrell but there is no date given to that event. Nevertheless, the boats were crucial to the success of the venture. When Ray and Davidson first purchased Silver Springs in 1924 the glass bottom boats had noisy outboard motors that interrupted the quiet beauty of the springs. The pair had gasoline 12 Hollis, Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails 8 13 Ibid. 8 9 14 Ibid. 10


9 motors installed but they did not improve the experience In 1932, quiet, electric motors were installed and ensured the serene experience that Ray and Davidson desired. It was so successful that the idea of glass bottom boats would spread to most of the major springs in the state. 15 Despite the success of the new and improved glass bottom boats, R ay and Davidson knew that they need ed more to keep people coming. In 1930 Ross Allen who collected reptiles in the bogs around Silver Springs approached Ray with the idea of doing a reptile show and he became a mainstay at Silver Springs. Ross Allen would become a celebrity based off of his many appearances as an eccentric and fearless scientist. A Seminole Indian Village and a Deer Ranch were added to entice even more people to the springs. 16 In a rather amusing attempt to make the boat ride more interesting, rhesus monkeys were placed on a small island that th e boats dro ve past. However, no one knew that these monkeys could swim, so they quickly left the island and have been an invasive species ever since. 17 The one thing that brought the most people to Silver Springs was the aggressive advertising campaign th at Ray and Davidson insisted on. World War II took a toll on the tourism industry but after it ended an all out publicity blitz occurred which continued to attract more people. The amount of advertisements printed for Silver Springs is incomparable to a to urist attraction of its size today. Silver Springs post cards were 15 Ibid. 9 10 16 Ibid. 12 13 17 Revels, Sunshine Paradise 115


10 printed in English, Spanish, German, and Portuguese, and the brochures were printed in batches of seven million. 18 Underwater photography became the medium for most of the advertisements. Bruce Mo zart, an Ocala photographer constantly i nven ted new ways to improve the complex art of taking pictures under water. The beautiful, athletic, and super blonde Ginger Stanley Hallowell lent her services to Mozart and Silver Springs. When necessary other employees at the springs fill ed in for the appro priate roles, such as Dee Dee Adams, a brunette secretary. The paradise, but for publicity, props were added to attract visitors. 19 The photographs were turned into billboards and placed all over the country, usually with the appropriate number of miles to Silver Springs proudly displayed on it. Until the 1970s Silver Springs was the most nationally famous attraction in Florida. 20 This was assisted by its prominent role in several major motion pictures. The Yearling Distant Drums The Creature from the Black Lagoon and others were all at least partially filmed at Silver Springs. 21 Today, visitors to Silver Springs can still see 18 Hollis, Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails 17 19 Tim Hollis, Selling the Sunshine State: A Celebration of Florida Tourism Advertisin g (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008). 174 175 20 Ibid. 170 21 Holl is, Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails 20 Figure 1 An example of underwater photography by Mozart. retrophotography from the lake bottom.html


11 the props left under water after filming ended. It was rare to find a vehicle full of tourists that did not stopover at Silver Springs, regardless of where their final destination was. 22 Tourists stated the beach as the main reason they visited Florida, but there was only so much sunbathing an antsy family could do. Between the end of World War II and the opening of Disney World, the market was ripe for creative roadside attractions and great 23 24 Silver Springs, like many of the roadside attractions that thrived before the 1971 opening of Disney World struggled afterwards. It changed ownership several times. In 1962 it was purchased by ABC and turned into an amusement park. Today, it is a State Park and visitors see a bit of old Florida tourism that is hard to find anywhere else. While i t is clear from the thousands of visitors that passed through the gates at Silver Springs that it was a very popular tourist attraction, not everyone could visit. Florida enforced segregation strictly and was a part of the Jim Crow south. African Americans lived nearby and worked at the park. Soon, they too want ed to visit the park and Ray and Davidson, always looking to turn a profit, were quick to respond to the desires of an untapped market. 22 Hollis, Selling the Sunshine State 170 23 Revels, Sunshine Paradise 106 24 Hollis, Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails 6


12 Section 2 History of Cypress Gardens Silver Spring s major competitor was Cypress Gardens, opened by Dick and Julie Pope on January 24, 1935 in Winter Haven, Florida. It originated from a 16 acre area of land along Lake Eloise that Pope remembered from his childhood where he p lanned to install native botanical gardens. 25 Pope staged several gardens would become a lifetime endeavor. The initial draw of Cypress Gardens was the flowers themselves and Pope had miles of walkways and canals built through the lush gardens for visitors to wander. Initially, Pope searched throughout Winter Haven and gathered any unusual plants from anyone who had them. The people that gave him plants were then given season passes once the gardens opened By 1941, The Washington Post of South America, the mountains of Mexico, the South Sea islands, and the flowery kingdoms of the east a 26 In the earliest brochures from Cypress Gardens it is the plants that are the focal point, there are lists organized by type that include pictures of each plant next to a brief description. 27 This made it easy for the visitors to identi fy what they were looking at and other details about the plants. Some of the more fascinating plants showcased at the Gardens were Bug Eating Pitcher Plants, the 25 S tephen E. Branch, Th e Salesman and His Swamp: Dick Pope's Cypress Gardens, The Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 80, No. 4 (Spring, 2002), pp. 488 26 Flowers attract thousands to Florida cypress gardens. 1941. The Washington Post (1923 1954) Dec 07, 1941.) (accessed December 9, 2014). 27 Florida Gardens Association. 1937. Florida Cypress Gardens. [Winter Haven, Fla.]: [Florida Gardens Association]


13 Shame Plant which closes up when touched, and the Confederate Rose which opens white and turns red. 28 it was for Silver Sp rings. 29 He designed the gardens with p ictures in mind; he went throughout the gardens with an eight by ten studio camera to ensure that visitors could get impressive pictures to show their friends back home. According to the Chicago Daily Tribute mak 30 blended together to make it a huge hit with the tourists who were lured in by the hypnotic sp 31 Washington Post and Times Herald i 32 Dick Pope was a master promoter. He was able to take a swampland and turn it into a huge tourist destination. Similar to Silver Springs, one of the most effective modes of advertising for the Gardens was using it as a backdrop for movies. Movi es such as 28 Bill Ballantine, FABULOUS FLORIDA, Cosmopolitan Magazine (April 1957) 38 43 29 Ibid, 81 30 Hearst, Joseph F. "FLORIDA PLAYGROUND." Chicago Daily Tribune (1923 1963), Jan 09, 1949, (accessed December 14, 2014) 31 Tim Hollis, Selling the Sunshine State: A Celeb ration of Florida Tourism Advertising (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL) 2008, 264 32 "New York Harbor is Voted 'most Photographed' Place." The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954 1959), Feb 24, 1957, 68232?accountid=10920 (accessed December 14, 2014)


14 using the beauty of the G supposed to be set in Hawaii, but Florida was chosen instead because MGM be lieved the lighting at Cypress Gardens was better. It was because of this movie that Dick Pope built shaped pool. The tropical plants, water sports, and the nations prem ier tourist destination in a 19 6 3 travel editors pol l. 33 34 Before he started the Gardens, Pope briefly went into the citrus industry. He used his skills as a publicity man to convince the industry to adopt a different type of packaging box to replace the old bulky ones. 35 These wire bound pac k ing boxes earned the Popes one hundred dollars a week and became the financial basis for his Gardens. 36 Th e c itrus industry was booming in Central Florida largely due to the low labor costs. The main labor supply were black migrant workers coming from Georgia and the Bahamas who usually stayed for the picking season and then returned to their families. But, wi th the lengthening of the growing season, increased numbers of African Americans settled in Polk, Lake, and other Central Florida count ies. Before the success of 33 Branch, The Salesman and His Swamp: Dick Pope s Cypress Gardens. 492 34 State Library and Archives of Florida, Easy to Love Promotional Photograph at the Cypress Gardens Swimming Pool Winter Haven, Florida, Flor ida Memory accessed April 1, 2016, 35 Lu Vickers (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010 pg. 38 39 36 S tephen E. Branch, The Salesman and His Swamp: Dick Pope's Cypress Gardens, The Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 80, No. 4 (Spring, 2002), pp. 488 "Easy to Love" promotional picture featuring Esther Williams in front of the Florida pool.


15 the citrus i ndustry in Polk County turpentine stills and lumber mills were run through violen ce and intimidation. This created a forced labor system enforced by camp bosses who ruled with an iron fist to satisfy production demands. 37 Despite the cheap labor) and that Route 27 ( a major north south highway through the state) had bypassed Winter Haven, Pope still dreamed of making it a major tourist destination. In the first step towards making Cypress Gardens a reality, Pope became the Chairma n of the Winter Haven Canal Commission Through this position he oversaw the connection and beautification of the chain of lakes in the area. He wanted to make the area more desirable for both tourism and real estate. 38 Pope settled on a 16 acre area of land along Lake Eloise that he remembered from his childhood for the botanical gardens that he planned to install. 39 He was able to garner support from the Winter Haven Canal Commission, who donated $2,800 to his project, in order to bring back the golden days and because of the success of other s imilar attractions. Additionally, Pope convinced his lawyer to incorporate Cypress Gardens as a non profit corporation so he could apply for Work Project Administration funds. Dick Pope had to use his skills as a master publicity man to prove that this pr oject was worth a branch of the WPA on the idea of instead of having men raking leaves at a dollar a day, we could beautify and rebuild 37 Gilbert King, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America Reprint edition (New York: Harper Perennial, 2013). 77 38 Lu Vickers , (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010 pg. 38 39 39 S tephen E. Branch, The Salesman and His Swamp: Dick Pope's Cypress Gardens, The Florida Historical Quarterly V ol. 80, No. 4 (Spring, 2002), pp. 488


16 40 The WPA supplied him with workers and paid them one dollar per day to dig canals, clear the under brush, and lay the walkways. 41 Plus, they added the hanging garden on Lake Eloise, which was the beginning of the famous Cypress Gardens botanical displays. The Ne w Deal, the WPA, and other forms of relief during the Great D epression were available to everyone, including African Americans. In fact, by 1935, the WPA employed about 350,000 African Americans annually, approximately 15% of its total workforce. In the CCC, or the Civilian Conservation Corps, the percentage of blacks involved grew from roughly 3% at its outset in 1933 to over 11% by the close of 1938 with a total of more than 350,000 enrolled in the CCC by the time the program ended in 1942. In 1934, Administration, or PWA, added a clause in all government construction contracts that established a quota for the hiring of black laborers based on the 1930 labor census and as a result a substan tial number of blacks received skilled employment on PWA projects, which had not been available to them before. 42 The men worked in the muck for five months before the money ran out from the government. The conditions in which the men worked were difficult. Those working for Pope had it easier than others. Zora Neale Hurston considered a pre eminent writer of African American literature, was aware of the conditions workers faced in Polk County, when crossing the county line she said it reminded her of a blu es song that went, 40 Vickers, Cypress Gar dens, America s Tropical Wonderland 41 41 Lu Vickers (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010 pg. 41 42 African Americans and the New Deal: A Look Back in Hi story, Roosevelt Institute February 5, 2010, americans and new deal look back history/.


17 43 Hurston was able to see beauty in the hard work provided by both black and white laborers. She described the l black bodies, muscled like gods, working to feed the hunger of the great tooth. Polk Furthermore, she wrote about o laughing, cursing and boasting of la trees. 44 P ope and Hurston were able to see beauty where others could not. Pope knew that others counties had their tourist attractions and he was determined to create something in Winter Haven that Pope applied for more fun ds and asked for more from the Canal C ommission both endeavor, earning him t While the name calling did not bother the Popes, the loss of funding left them feeling defeated and they considered backing out. Oddly, they left the choice up to chance and a flip of the coin deci ded that the Popes would stay in Winter Haven and continue the Gardens instead of moving to Orlando. 45 In order to continue the Cypress Gardens Association, Inc. was founded and work on the Gardens continued 43 Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men (Harper Collins, 2009). 59 44 Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography (Harper Collins, 2010). 147 148 45 Ibid, pg. 47


18 Miles of canals were dug by hand with shovels and the flowers were planted under the instruction of Julie Pope, who had quite the green thumb, and Vernon Rutter, a gardener from Tennessee. Rutter would use his large truck to transport dozens of men to work on the gardens and for this service he earned an extra quarter a day for gas. There were many African American w ision to life. Jim Doles toiled in the swamp helping to create beautiful gardens that his family, who remained in Winter Haven, would always be proud of. It those who worked for them as family and treated their employees well. In fact, the Doles to wander the paths of Cypress Gard ens that Jim had helped create. 46 47 48 46 Vickers, Cypress Gardens, America s Tropical Wonderland 41 51 47 Smathers Special Collections Library, Florida Ephemera Collection 48 State Libr ary and Archives of Florida, Cypress Trees and Knees in Florida Cypress Gardens, Florida Memory accessed February 4, 2016, Workers digging the canals at Cypress Gardens. CA 1930s Pope took the natural beauty of Lake Eloise and turned it into a garden for tourists to enjoy


19 Chapter 2 Section 1 The Supreme Court ruled in the 1896 case of Plessey v. Ferguson that was legal, but in most cases there was not a separate option for African Americans. This was true of many recreational sites. And for Florida, by the 1940s, it was clear that segregation wa s still holding the state back. African Americans were essential to the tourism industry in Florida. They made up the majority of employees in the service industry, especially in hotels 49 Yet, they cou ld not visit or enjoy the places that they worked. It was in this way that segregation made black Floridians necessary but invisible to most vi sitors. 50 Unlike Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs had been operating as a tourist attraction for many years and did it did not take much manual labor to turn it into a major tourist destination. For the first ten years Ray and Davidson continually reinvested in their project, keeping very little of the profits for themselves. One of the first added attractions made a hobby of collecting reptiles, approached Carl Ray about cre ating his own attraction on the property. The Reptile Institute would become a mainstay at Silver Springs and Allen would become a celebrity due to his many appearances as an eccentric scientist on s everal television shows 51 49 Tracy Revels, Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL) 2011 pg 85 50 Ibid, 85 51 Hollis, Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails


20 52 In addition to Ross Allen, Ray and Davidson employed many African Americans to keep Silver Springs running smoothly. While wandering through the grounds visitors often came across Aunt Silla. She was an aged African American woman who told tourists of The Legend of the Bridal Chamber a story about the springs very similar to the star Romeo and Juliet. It was printed on brochures and p amphlets along with illustrations of the young lovers going to a watery grave marry causing them both to die of a broken heart. Though playing on the stereotypes of mammies and Aunt Jemi mas, Aunt Silla told this story to thousands of visitors and held a position at Silver Springs until she passed away in the early 1950s; she claimed to be 110 years old. 53 52 State Library and Archives of Florida, Ross Allen Milking a Rattlesnake Ocala, Florida., Florida Memory accessed February 11, 2016, 53 Hollis, Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails Ross Allen Milking Rattlesna ke


21 54 near or over 100 years old she would have experienced the horrors of slavery herself. According to Deborah White author of Plantation Sou th, 55 In the mythology, Mammy is well cared for in her old age but even for the most helpful of house servant s there were no certainties. Mammies were just as motivated by self preservation as she was by loyalty to the family. 56 The Mammy, represented two 57 Aun t Silla was a relic of the past who through her storytelling kept alive not only a legend from Silver Springs but also a role that African American women had played for over a century. erican boat drivers who stole the show at Silver Springs. Hired by Ray and Davidson themselves, 54 State Library and Archives of Florida, Aunt Scilla Standing beside the Astatula at the Silver Springs Dock Florida, Florida Memory accessed February 11, 2016, items/show/149860. 55 Deborah White, Ar n t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South Revised Edition edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999) 47 48 56 Ibid. 54 55 57 Ibid. 61 Aunt Silla on a dock at Silver Springs


22 Roosevelt and David Faison worked as boat drivers at Silver Springs since the 1950s. While it was normal for African Americans to work in the service industry, few were as visible or as valued as the boat drivers at Silver Springs. David Faison experienced this first hand when he began working at a turpentine camp at the young age of ten years old with his uncle. He would help drive the mules to pick up the bucke ts filled with sap to market where it was processed into turpentine; two full 55 gallon barrels were considered a good day. When he was thirteen he left the turpentine camp to work at a sawmill and intensive in dustries he began his long career of boat driving at Silver Springs. 58 The boat drivers knew the route of their boats well and gave detailed explanation to the visitors gazing down at the beauty of the springs in the depths below. In a 2013 interview with the Ocala Star Banner Roosevelt Faison as clear and just as beautiful as it was 57 years ago." 59 In the same interview, David Faison discussed his first time driving a glass bottom boat and his unsuccessful attempt to get into the drivers seat, "I didn't have but two inches to walk on, and, oo ee, I hit the water," he said, "I just lost my balance and I turned around and jumped for the dock. I come up out of the water, stepped back on the boat and carried 'em off down the r iver." 60 David Faison expanded more on their training in an interview for this paper, he said, 58 Early Days, accessed February 5, 2016, 28/NEWS/202280301. 59 Three Men, 150 Years of Piloting Glass Bottom Boats at Silver Springs, accessed February 5, 2016, 60 Ibid.


23 we done was just ride with another captain and see what he did and you take it from 61 The African American glass bottom boat drivers became the face o f Silver Springs. They were featured on billboards and brochures, greeted visitors as they boarded the boats, and provided the fascinating information about the springs. Though other boat drivers were boats. 62 David Faison, w ho along with his brother claim two of the oldest Silver Springs is the decreased attendance and that there are fewer fish in the spring. He said he has stayed so long 63 61 David Faison, David Faison Interview By Katie Gresham, March 11, 2016, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. 62 Lu Vickers and Cynthia Wilson Graham, Remembering Paradise Park: Tourism and Segregation at Silver Springs (University Press of Florida, 2015). 71 63 Faison, David Faison Interview By Katie Gresham.


24 Silver Springs boat drivers logged many miles on the river but they were unable to show their friends and family the beauty that they delighted strangers with everyday because of segregation in Florida. Eddie Vereen was another boat driver at Silver Springs and his sister was a schoolteacher who told her black students about the springs. In the wintertime, Vereen would periodically and secretly pick up the silent students and give them the to ur that white students could easily access. This created a snowball affect as word spread from those students to church groups and beyond. This system quickly became complicated but the boat drivers would do it as their own form of resistance against segre gation. 64 64 Vickers and Wilson Graham, Remembering Paradise Park 7 9 Black boat driver showing visitors the springs .https :// /2349190778/in/photostream/


25 Section 2 Meanwhile, at Cypress Gardens image for his park by restoring a plantation house and establishing the Southern Belle as the iconic figure associated with the gardens. when Winter Haven was hit with a hard freeze that endangered many of the tropical flowers that had been flourishing within the Gardens. Had it not been for the six thousand ga llons of oil burned to keep the flowers and foliage alive, everything would have been lost. Unfortunately, the beautiful flame fine surrounding the entrance of the Gardens was forgotten, so when tourists drove past the Gardens they assumed everything was d ead, like the vine. Julie Pope had the idea to dress up local girls in her old Antebellum dresses and place them in front of the park to cover the dead vine. 65 Additionally, they were were a hit and their image would soon bec ome synonymous with that of Cypress Gardens itself 66 From the 1930s on, other Florida tourist attractions began to add alligators, snakes, or monkeys in order to entice visitors enthralled by these unfamiliar animals. Even Silver Springs joined in this as the reptile show there became a huge attraction. Yet, Dick Pope did not follow this trend, instead the Southern Belle at Cypress Gardens became a sy mbol of the area. They would pose around the park, talk with tourists, take pictures, and even help novice photographers find the perfect angle. 67 This led them to be 65 Lu Vickers (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010 pg. 74 66 S tephen E. Branch, The Salesman and His Swamp: Dick Pope's Cypress Gardens, The Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 80, No. 4 (Spring, 2002), pp. 492 67 Lu Vickers pical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010 pg. 74


26 termed by The Washington Post right at h ome in front of a camera. 68 In fact, when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor visited the Gardens in 1941, Pope sent two Belles with them in their personal car through the Gardens. They were so impressed by the women that the Duke remarked that he 69 70 Pope praise d 71 Yet, this tradition left out African Americans who did not view t he Antebellum Period represented by the Belles with the same positivity as many white southerners. Ther e was no such thing as a black Southern B elle so they were never featured in any pamphlet or other form of advertisements. Only in the twenty first centu ry would there be an African American southern Belle Joanna 68 Flowers attract thousands to florida cypress gardens. 1941. The Washington Post (1923 1954) Dec 07, 1941.) 1395075?accountid=10920 (accessed December 9, 2014). 69 Lu Vickers (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010 pg 85 70 Florida Memory accessed February 22, 2016, m/items/show/297044. 71 Lu Vickers (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010 pg 76


27 Barber accepted her position in the 2006 in a very different time and place from when African Americans were fighting for equal rights and the ability to enjoy Cypress Gardens. She viewed the Belles as a necessity that originated out of necessity, not as relic from a difficult part in American histo ry. 72 Another attraction that led to the success of Cypres s Gardens was the popularity of the Water Ski Show During World War II tourism decreased rapidly as war time restraints kept Americans at home. Pope served in the war installing lampposts, leaving Julie in charge of the Gardens. To deal with the lack of tourism, Julie ran an advertis ement in the newspaper showing water s kiers gliding lake across Lake Eloise. The very next day servicemen showed up at the Gardens expecting a water ski show. Julie, eve r a quick thinker, told the men that the show would be later in the afternoon, after her children got home from her school. Therefore, the Pope children and their friends performed the first ski show By the next weekend, eight hundred soldiers came to see the water ski show and because of this Julie Pope managed to get the Gardens as sold iers even appeared in promotional photos sent out across the country. 73 The Water Ski show beca me a f ixture at Cypress Gardens and le d to Winter 74 Cypress Gardens became the center of innovat ion within the sport. It started with the aqua maids who would aquaplane in coordinating bathing suits across the lake It would then continue to 72 Vickers, 316 73 Ibid, 92 74 Ibid, 44


28 develop and expand leading to pyramids of men and women, skiing ballerinas, and daredevil jumping off ramps. Willa McGuire Cook became the first Cypress Gardens Prima Ballerina after coming to Winter Haven in 1948 She was originally from Wisconsin, but came to Winter Haven where she became an expert on the Jitter Board, which was a board that literally jittered if the rider was not perfectly centered. One of her most famous performances was when she Jitter Boarded across Lake Eloise En Pointe. Championship at Cypress Gardens. Not only did it attract skiers from all over the nation, but each major newsreel company sent cameramen down t o film the competition. Not even President Truman dedicating Everglade National Park made as many newsreels as the competition. Willa McGuire Cook garnered her own attention due to her flashy swimsuits that she glided across the water wearing, some film co mpanies stayed and 75 The Cypress Gardens Ski Team, including Cook and Dick Pope Jr., competed internationally and Dick Pope woul d use them also to promote the G ardens. 76 Shows would eventually be done multiple times a day and Pope built a special viewing area so that the skiers could glide past the flashing cameras. 77 75 Lu Vickers (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Fl) 2010, 113 76 Ibid, 114 77 Ibid, 82


29 78 During the heyday of Cypress Gardens there were no African American water skiers. It was not until the summer of 1990 that two African American skiers became employed at Cypress Gardens. The two were brother and sister, Odis and Alicia Wilson, from Lake Wales. They learned how to ski before they could swim and had won national championships before they joined the Cypress Gardens Ski Team. 79 Ron Scarpa, a profess ional barefoot skier, trained Otis in exchange for work at his ski school. Their work paid off when the siblings both won awards for barefoot skiing. Mark Voisard, was the ski show director for 14 years at Cypress Gardens before he hired the siblings, he s 80 78 State Library and A Florida Memory accessed February 22, 2016, 79 Vickers, Cypress Gardens, America s Tropical Wonderland 337 80 Susan Bloodworth, Skiing Sibling Duo: Brother, Sister 1st Black Team at Gardens, Lakeland Ledger August 18, 1991, AAIBAJ&pg=1576,4624027&hl=en.


30 81 It might seem that for most of its existence Cypress Garden did not employ African Americans, but that was not true. When the restaurant was added it was staffed entirely by African Americans. In an interview with Lu Vickers, Betty Doles, one of the mily was able to use this hey would go into the park with out paying since it was assumed that they were working there. The African Americans who worked there were essentially invisible, t hey worked in service and not cooks and as waiters those were the jobs you had 82 As evidenced by Cypress Ga rdens, African Americans were vital to the Florida tourism industry by providing the labor that kept the attractions running smoothly. 81 Ibid. 82 Betty Doles, Doles Interview By Lu Vickers, February 2008.


31 Chapter 3 Special day or Special Place ? Section 1 Negro Day at Cypress Gardens Most southern recreational facilities, including Cypress Gardens, were uniformly segregated and allowed African Americans to visit only a few days per year. 83 Dick Pope first allowed African Americans to visit Cypress Gardens on Palm Sunday, 1942. He invited the Doles family to come after church and see the Gardens. Jim Doles dug the canals for the boat ride with a hand shovel while he kept an eye on his children whom he brought to work with him since there was no one else to watch them. The patriarch of the 84 As young children Betty, her sister Jacqu eline, and brother Walter, did not understand segregation but simply knew that Cypress Gardens was somewhere they did not go and that it was for whites only. When it was opened up to them on Palm Sunday they arrived by car in their finest Easter attire to see the gardens that their father had family standing inside Cypress Gardens on his own camera since the Doles did not have one. 85 83 Victoria W. Wolcott, Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle over Segregated Recreation in America Reprint edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). 105 84 Doles, Doles Interview By Lu Vickers. 85 Ibid.


32 The Doles visited less then ten years after Cypress Gardens opened and at that time it was truly just a garden. They walked through the gardens and saw the Southern Belles posing for photographs but the ski shows had not yet commenced. The other entertainment was the boat ride through the canals that their father helped build. As both the Doles children and Cypress Gardens gre w older they were able to visit more, blending in with the African American workers who were employed in the service industry there. Jacqueline remarked that after sneaking in through the employee gate, We still sat on the terrace where they served lun ch and ate lunch right along with all the other guests. And they never said anything to us. It was like we were 86 While the Doles family was able to visit Cypress Gardens they did not visit Bok Tower, another tourist attraction in Central Florida, until later in life. Even if there were designated days for African Americans to visit, few of them had cars to travel to see the attractions. Jacqueline remembere famous sites. Betty recalled Paradise Park at Silver Springs 87 The Doles children had parents who ensured that they saw everything that they had a chance to see. Betty explained that this was because of who they worked for and the opportunities that arose because of that. Their mother worked as a maid in upper class white homes and she would travel with the families in order to mind the children. Their 86 Ibid. 87 Ibid.


33 88 Others without connections like the Doles had were not as fortunate. It was difficult to get to Cypress Gardens for African Americans who did not have cars or some other type of transportation available to them even when th ey were allowed in on a regular basis. Once, Jacqueline states, Cypress Gardens was open for free and African Americans still did not go. Betty pointed out that this could have been because they have it set in their mind that they cannot go and that there are many African Americans who have spent most of their lives in Winter Haven but have never been to Cypress Gardens. 89 For the Doles family segregation was just a part of their lives. They listened to their parents when they said they could not go somewh ere. For example, Betty just listened to her parents when they told her that she could not order a hamburger from McDonalds or that she had to use the back window to order at places that would serve African Americans. This was the same everywhere; in bus s tations, train stations, and i 90 Young people today do not understand that African Americans wanted to be full citizens and consumers without the restraints of segregation. They wanted access to swimming pools, roller skating rinks, and amusement parks where they could co exist with white people. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even struggled with answering his daughters question about visiting Funtown, an Atlanta amusement park that was closed to 88 Ibid. 89 Ibid. 90 Ibid.


34 African Americans. For him and others access to recreational facilities was more about possession and power than about positive race relations. Additionally, the hard work many African Americans performed ensured that they desired places to relax and enjoy the little free time that they had. 91 For Jim Doles, even the hard manual labor of digging cana ls was better than working the nearby orange groves in Central Florida. Dick Pope was an understanding boss who treated his employees well regardless of skin color. When asked if Pope would have opened the doors sooner Betty and Jacqueline both say that he would have and that is what he was trying to do when he let them visit in 1942, over twenty years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He wanted African Americans to be exposed to all the same things that whites could see. Betty feels as though that is wh y he let them walk around the hen he opened the doors on Palm 92 91 Wolcott, Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters 1 3 92 Doles, Doles Interview By Lu Vickers.


35 Section 2 Paradise Park for African Americans Another strategy employed by the owners of tourist attractions was to open a separate area for African Americans to visit. While this strategy was rarely used, it created unique opportunities for both local and visiting African Americans. Ray and Davidson, the owners of Silver Springs opened Paradise Park for African Americans in 1949. Their motives were not completely altruistic since down river from their establis hment another piece of land had been bought by a competitor and threatened their hold on Silver Springs. Ray and Davidson were able to buy out their potential competitors thus ending the threat of competition but they still had the unhappiness of their bla ck employees to address. Therefore, for these compelling reasons, Ray and Davidson decided to open Paradise Park down river from the white area of Silver Springs. 93 While some state parks had designated beach areas for African Americans, Silver Springs was the only Florida roadside attraction that created a totally separate facility. In an interview for this paper, Luresa Lake, the cover girl for the Paradise Park bro chures said, 93 Cynthia Wilson Graham, Remembering Paradise Park Presentation (Wild Iris Bookstore, Gainesville, FL, November 4, 2015). Paradise Park opened up, because it was purposefully put t here for black people only, and the white people were on one side of Silver Spring and black people were on another side of Silver Spring and its all down the river. The River belongs to


36 Lake explained that she was chosen as the model for the cover of the brochures by the model she thought then and still does that it was an honor sinc e there were many beautiful women in the community. 94 Ray and Davidson, to their credit, chose one of their African American glass bottom boat drivers, Eddie Vereen, to be the manager of Paradi se Park. Vereen was born in Silver Springs in 1897 and began driving the boats in 1946. He employed a number of his family members at Paradise Park, including his son, daughters, and grandchildren. Everyone worked hard at the park, his niece, Catherine Ver een (now Montgomery), stated for an article in the Ocala Star Banner, people employed there. We worked from sunup to sundown, right up until the people 94 Luresa Lake, Luresa Lake Interveiw By Katie Gresham, March 11, 2016. Luresa Lake Cover, Smathers Special Collections Library


37 95 on a popular Paradise Park bumper sticker that would have been seen on many of the 247 cars he once counted in the parking lot of the park. 96 Reggie Lewis' Bumper Sticker, Smathers Special Collections Library By 1956, Paradise Park was hosting 100,000 visitors a year. Vereen was very proud of his establishment, he declared to the Sarasota Harold Tribune traveled to every Negro recreational facility in Florida and nowhere have I found a set up rights activist in Ocala, remembered that Paradise Park was about f ive acres of land with a large pavilion for dancing and lots of picnic places scattered through out the park. scenery and all of that was available to black people and peop le from everywhere in the 97 Pinkston also recalled meeting kids from all over the southeast at Paradise Park and that school groups would come throughout the summer. 98 95 Paradise Park Was a Haven for Black Community, accessed March 19, 2016, 96 Ibid. 97 Lake, Luresa Lake Interveiw By Katie Gresham. 98 Ann Pinkston, Ann Pinkston Interview by Ryan Morini and Justin Dunnavant, October 9, 2014, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.


38 Paradise Park became an important part of the African American co mmunity in Marion County. It was a gathering place for all different kinds of celebrations. In the spring there were Easter egg hunts and in the winter Santa Clause would come down the river on a glass bottom boat. Anne Pinkston, among many other African A mericans, were even baptized in the waters of Paradise Park. May Stafford, a lifelong resident of Marion County, had one of her most embarrassing moments at Paradise Park, she reminisced in an interview, Stafford had learned how to swim at Paradise Park and it was one of two places that African Americans could go swimming. 99 Visitors to Paradise Park could purchase tickets to ride the f amed Silver Springs Glass Bottom boats, captained almost exclusively by African Americans. Elease Lake, would be sent from the main spring head to take the visitors on a ride. Luresa continued saying that they got to see all of Silver Springs and see all the same things that white 99 May Stafford, May Stafford Interview By Ryan Morini, March 23, 2015, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. le back then, and I had one. I bought one. And I dived off that board, and the pressure of that water Brought my bathing suit down. And before that, I had this habit of getting about halfway across from the diving board to the float that was out there. An d I would dive off, and I would get about halfway, and I would holler help for the lifeguards to come dive in and get me. I bathing suit up and came out on my back. That was the most embarrassing moment I t hink that I have had in my life was right at Paradise Park.


39 patrons got to see aboard the same boats. 100 David Faison a longtime boat driver at Silver when it did they would call the 101 Eddie Vereen retired as manager of Paradise Park in 1967. During his nearly twenty years as manager he hosted thousands of people, conventions, and events. Additionally, he was recognized by Bethune Service in Business and Human Re upon retirement. 102 In 1969, t his beloved park was shut down when ABC purchased Silv er Springs. They closed it without consulting the community, gated off the road to access it, and fenced in the swimming area. It was a major loss for the African American community. 103 like it was silly, cause why clo se it when no one is arguing about it in the first place, why gone, with it being integrated white or black 104 100 Lake, Luresa Lake Interveiw By Katie Gresham. 101 Faison, David Fais on Interview By Katie Gresham. 102 Vereen Retires as Paradise Park Manager, Ocala Star Banner June 29, 1967. 103 Vickers and Wilson Graham, Remembering Paradise Park 15 104 Lake, Luresa Lake Interveiw By Katie Gresham.


Chapter 4 Section 1 Winter Haven and Segregation When asked about what segregation was like in Winter Haven, Jacqueline Doles 105 Flore nce Villa began in 1881 when a railway was built that connected the area to Northern markets. With travel for tourists and citrus eased by the railroad, Dr. Frederick William Inman and his wife Florence Jewett Inman moved to a large villa that eventually s hare d a name with his wife. They would make the Villa their permanent home and Dr. Inman purchased land and planted citrus to send north. He created a citrus growing, packing, shipping, and marketing cooperative called the Florence Villa Citrus Growers Association. Dr. Inman needed a skilled horticulturalist to ensure the success of his crop and he found one in Dan Laramore. Laramore was an African American and Seminole Indian from Albany, Georgia. He moved to California trying to escape segregation and learned the Jap anese technique of c itrus culture there. Dr. Inman gave Laramore some groves in addition to what that he purchased for himself. 106 Dan Laramore was hired to manage the coope itrus was a new industry to Florida, groves being planted the need for more and more labor to harvest the fruit increased. This led to the first wave of African American settlers coming to Florence Villa between 1883 and 1885. The Inmans b uilt a hotel overlooking a lake for their many visitors and at the 105 Doles, Doles Interview By Lu Vickers. 106 Ulysses Johnson, The History of Florence Villa (Lakeland, Florida: Genie Publishing, 2009). 9 11


41 turn of the century it increased in size adding many new jobs in the area. Mrs. Inman employed only the best and the demand for African American labor was high. For the hotel she needed coo ks, servers, maids, gardeners stable boys, buggy drivers and She wanted only the best cooks and bakers and the service at her hotel kept the visitors returning year after year. Soon, the news spread by word of mouth that there was employment for the children of former the first African American born in Florence Villa, but the number of other families increased exponentially during this time. They settled on the West Shores o f Lake Maude Growers Association, and those that worked in private homes all lived there. 107 B etty Doles remembered the importance of the citrus industry and the role that it determined by whom they worked for. Some African Americans lived on the groves that they w one of those that just picked the oranges, then you had no name, no status, no nothing. It Betty explained. They even recognized each other that way, she said, it was a kind of brainwashing that happened. If someone worked for Snively, a major citrus grower, or Pope they were up a little bit higher than everyone else. 108 107 Ibid. 9 11 108 Doles, Doles Interview By Lu Vickers.


42 Winter Haven enforced the doc trine of Separate but Equal onto the local African Americans. The first school for African Americans was opened in 1899 but by 1918 it was under investigation. It was found that the school was not open the same length of time as white schools which was illegal. However there was no action taken. 109 Betty Doles knew what segregation felt like since she could no go to school with whites or socialize with them and she was taught by her parents that she had a place and to stay in 110 Winter Haven and Florence Villa did not have the racial violence prominent in many Central Florida towns because of the large population of tourists a nd northerners. Walter Doles believed that Cypress Gardens helped African Americans in Winter Haven since it was a tourist attraction and the Chamber of Commerce depended on the business; Cypress Gardens held such a high place in Winter Haven that telling authorities you worked for them could get you out of them, 111 C ypress Gardens kept Winter Haven peaceful when other nearby towns were exploding with racial violence. For example, in Groveland, Florida, less then fifty miles from Winter Haven, four young African American men were accused of raping a seventeen year old married woman named Norma Padgett in 1949. The men, Ernest Thomas, Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin, were at the mercy of a 109 Johnson, The History of Florence Villa 15 110 Doles, Doles Interview By Lu Vicker s. 111 Ibid.


43 racist and corrupt judicial system in Groveland. Sheriff Willis McCall, a staunch racist and segregationist, was r esponsible for keeping the peace in Groveland as well as the deaths of two of the Groveland Boys. He violently beat the men in the basement of the jail to coerce confessions and shot two of them before they had a chance to stand trial. 112 The confessions an timeline of events and the violence the boys faced in the custody of the police. In what would be nicknamed th fair trial in the orange groves of Central Florida. Orange Barons and small grove owners, alike, used black labor in a method similar to slavery and it was nearly impossible for blacks to mov e away from manual labor. 113 the way to the Supreme Court, which he believed was the only fair court in the nation. When the Supreme Courted ordered a retrial, McCall shot and k illed Shepard and wounded Irvin while en route to their new trial. The state of Florida then opposed a review of the action of lower federal courts that denied Irvin his freedom on a petition for the writ of habeas corpus. The petition for habeas corpus, t he state contended, did not sufficiently show that the state knowingly perjured testimony or fabricated evidence or suppressed beneficial evidence to Irvin. 114 The deep infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan in the Sunshine State, especially central Florida, kept racial tensions high and the threat s of lynching were always present. With 112 King, Devil in the Gr ove 113 Ibid. 114 State Denies Irvin s Charge That A ssault Trial Was Unfair, Baltimore Afro American January 11, 1955.


44 members in the police force, the government, and the legal system, the influence of the Groveland Boys and Henry Moore, a Civil Rights activist, prove that this fight was a violent one and that the KKK had a firm grip on Central Florida. Despite this, Marshall was able to get the initial guilty verdict overturned by the Supreme Court and a retrial declared The retrial occurred in Marion County, home of Silver Springs, and Irvin was found guilty and sentenced to death after refusing a deal for life in prison if he pled guilty. In 1955, Governor Leroy Collins, known for promoting racial harmony, commuted the se ntence to life and Irvin was paroled in 1968 but he died one year later 115 Pope and the Chamber of Commerce knew that they could not have that kind of violence occurring in their tourist town. They kept their African American community content in their separate area; Florence Villa. There they had their own movies, stores, and a post office. Eventually, Florence Villa was incorporated into larger Winter Haven, Later, in the 1970s and 1980s Florence Villa was devastated socially and economically when the citrus and phosphate industries moved south. Additionally, in 1980, First Street, the main thoroughfare, was widened which led to more traffic but negatively affected the businesses on the street. The decline has contributed to drug use and other criminal activity in the community. The City of Winter Haven recognized the issues facing Florence Villa and has begun taking steps to improve the area and formed a Community Redev elopment Agency to work with the community towards a better future. 116 115 King, Devil in the Grove 116 The RMPK Group, The Co mmunity Redevelopment Plan For Florence Villa, June 2, 2000.


45 Section 2 Ocala and Civil Rights On June 12, 1926 Chandler Coding an African American man who was charged with attacking a white woman was lynched by a mob in Ocala. He was taken from two 117 From 1900 to 1930 Florida had the highest per capita rate of lynching and from 1921 to 1946 there were 61 African A mericans lynched in the state. 118 Unlike Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs and Paradise Park were located directly in an area in which southern traditions and customs, such as lynching, ran deep. So, despite the peaceful nature of the springs, Ocala was a hotb ed of racial unrest. Dorsey Miller, an educated civil rights activist in Marion County, recalled moving was really an adjustment for me to have to go to the back door, you know, going to segregated schools, going to segregated being segregated when I went into public o Morehouse College in Atlanta where he participated in sit ins and one summer when he was home from Atlanta he decided to start a Youth Council to improve life for the African Americans in Marion County. So he asked Reverend O. V. Pinkston if they could u se his church for meetings and when he agreed they set their plan into motion. 119 Since Miller knew he would not be able to spend the entire summer working with 117 Investigating Lynching of Negro by Ocala Mob, The Evening Independent January 13, 1926. 118 Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore, accessed Mar ch 20, 2016, 119 Dorsey Mil ler, Dorsey Miller Interview By Ryan Morini, November 11, 2014.


46 Frank Pink He was born in Silver Springs, graduated from Howard Academy, the African American high school, and went on to Virginia Union University. While in Richmond he helped with the sit i n movement and was trained in nonviolence by Martin Luther King Jr. 120 He returned to his hometown after graduation and performed many different duties. Pinkston taught school, pastored three churches, and worked towards making a better life in Marion County for everyone. Although he was not a radical, he was able to get people of all races to listen to him and therefore, was able to motivate many. 121 Pinkston became the President of the Marion County NAACP and the mass meetings at New Covenant Church became st anding room only. Because of this involvement, Marion County had a large and lively Civil Rights Movement especially from 1960 to 1963 122 They targeted lunch counters, hotels, and drug stores to be integrated; much to the confusion of white residents who thought Ocala had good race relations because of increased educational and recrea tional opportunities. Miller le d a group of fifteen to sit in them. The manager of the store called Miller into his office, who brought a large football player from Howard High School with him, and the owner said if they left peacefully the Drug Store t he owner removed the lunch counters rather than allowing African Americans to sit there. 123 120 Wilson Graham, Remembering Paradise Park Presentation. 182 121 Remembering a Liberator during Black History Mont h, Ocala Star Banner February 14, 1996. 122 Vickers and Wilson Graham, Remembering Paradise Park 183 123 Ibid.


47 Marion County, and Florida as a whole, was not a safe place to be a civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s ly thing even stay in their home because the threats were very real that night so each member of the family had to stay somewhere else. 124 In order to combat this the N AACP created Hunting and Fishing Clubs. It was formed in the 1960s to protect members of the NAACP who were planning marches and protests. The Hunting and Fishing Club was a legal way for African Americans to bear arms in order to protect their activists. The other NAACP officials when they visited the county. 125 The first death of a Civil Rights leader actually occurred in Florida. Harry T. Moore, the Florida State President of the NAACP was murdered on Christmas Day in 1951. He had built the Florida NAACP to a peak of 10,000 members in 63 chapters. The national office and Moore had disagreements over his political activities, especially when he inserted himself in the Grovela nd Case. He accused Sheriff McCall of beating the boys and called for his suspension and indicted for murder. Six weeks after Sam Shepard died from gunshot fired by McCall, Harry Moore and his wife Harriet te were murdered when a bomb exploded beneath their home 126 Their murder was never solved and the Marion County Hunting and Fishing Club did not want Pinkston to be the next victim of violence. 124 Pinkston, Ann Pinkston Interview by Ryan Morini and Justin Dunnavant. 125 Hunting and Fishing Club Had a Purpose, Ocala Star Banner October 23, 1989. 126 Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore.


48 Similar to Winter Haven, Marion County had a separate part for African Americans called West Broadway. Pinkston whatever you needed from downtown or up town, whichever way you wanna look at it a distinct dividing line from the 127 128 127 Miller, Dorsey Miller Interview By Ryan Morini. 128 Smathers Special Collection Library, University of Florida, Florida Aerial Maps Collection. oord=29.18600469999999, 82.13623489999998 ,, 1956 colored lines added by author. Orange Avenue, coming from the east side of downtown going west, was the dividing line between the black and white business districts. There were about four blocks, from Pine Street to Orange, on Broadway, where you had a lot of black businesses. And you h ad some whites. A lot of black businesses. And when they did the Christmas decoration, they would stop at Orange. further west to include the black businesses.


49 It took until President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 for more Marion County restaurants to be desegregated. Luresa Lake reflected on how much nowadays sit together, live together, marry each other now, and years ago your head might have been blown off; black man marrying a white woman, you 129 In fact, the Marion County School system had to be mandated by the federal government to meet a desegregation quota of one quarter minority teachers in 1995. 130 129 Lake, Luresa Lake Interveiw By Katie Gresham. 130 Laura Kauffmann, District Doubles Minority Hires, Still Has a Long Way to Go, Ocala Star Banner August 2, 1996.


50 Conclusion you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginni ng to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to 131 Written by Martin Luther King Jr. in his famous 1963 Letter from Birmingham J ail, the excerpt above reve als the importance of recreational facilities in the larger struggle for civil rights. Nationwide, the battle over segregated facilities raged. African Americans wanted access to pools, parks, and beaches that traditionally barred them from entering. Segre gated beaches were directly challenged in Baltimore in 1955, but the would go to the Supreme Court that agreed with the court of appeals, which ruled that, 132 The reaction from the south was very neg ative, instead of abiding by the ruling they either closed their facilities or transferred them to private ownership. In Florida, Governor k to the beaches to as sert their right to enjoy them. 133 St. Augustine, Florida, became a hot bed of racial tension. On June 23, 1964, two wade ins ended in violence on the beach at St. Augustine. According to The New 131 Martin Luther King, Letter From Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963, gham.1.html. 132 Darryl Paulson, STAY OU T, THE WATER S FINE: DESEGREGATING MUNICIPAL SWIMMING FACILITIES IN ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, Tampa Bay History 4, no. 2 (1982): 6 20. 133 Gannon, The History of Florida 463


51 York Times nine people had to be hospit alized and 12 people were arrested. In another act of protest, 145 African Americans and white sympathizers marched through the old slave market and back to the church from which they came along roads that were lined with jarring segregationists and state troopers. 134 Seven African Americans went to the Spa Pool in downtown St. Petersburg Florida and attempted by buy tickets, knowing that they would be rejected and thus laying the ground work for a lawsuit. Federal District Judge George W. Whitehurst presided over the Alsup v. St. Petersburg case and ruled that the city could not deny African Americans was part of how they ran the business of pools and beaches was immaterial. The City lost its appeal but despite this legal victory African Americans in St. Petersburg were sti ll denied entrance because the pool was closed for repairs or other reasons and the city still wanted to open separate beaches instead. On January 6, 1959, the City C ouncil voted to reopen Spa Pool and Beach for several reasons, but most importantly becaus e they had no legal grounds to keep it closed. 135 From Florida to New Jersey, African Americans fought against swimming pools that abided by Jim Crow customs. In the urban north, working class men of different races and origins originally used pools. When w omen wanted to enjoy swimming, gender separated pools did not create any major alarm. As cities started to build more lavish pools men and women started swimming together, simultaneously bathing suits were shrinking leading to an increased fear in racial m ixing. 136 Luresa Lake commented 134 The Associated Press, Rac ists Break up Florida Wade Ins, New York Times June 23, 1964. 135 Paulson, STAY OUT, THE WATER S FINE: DESEGREGATING MUNICIPAL SWIMMING FACILI TIES IN ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA. 136 Wolcott, Race, Riots, a nd Roller Coasters 24


52 even wanted to separate the waters as though the water would turn one white or black, whichever the case may be but that was one of the 137 While the legal system threatened the customs of the Jim Crow south, a mouse began to threaten the hold Cypress Gardens and Silver Springs had on tourism in Central Florida. After quietly buying 26,000 acres of land in southeast Orlando, it was announced in 1966 that Walt Disney would be building his next park, Disney World, in Florida. They chose Florida because of the climate and the preexisting large volume of tourists. At the time the attractions already present in F lorida had no idea the effect Disney would have on them. In fact, in 1967, Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, and others welcomed Disney World to Florida. 138 Dick Pope believed that what is good for Florida would be good for Cypress Gardens and since Winter Ha ven was not far from or Orlando visitors would be able to see both places. Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971, costing 400 million dollars to open. Silver Spr ings had an increase in attendance of 28% and Cypress Gardens had an increase of 38%. Sea World also moved into Orlando bringing more development and more people into an area that was losing the cohesiveness it once had. Disney World, Universal, and SeaWor ld were constantly shaping and changing Orlando and the tourist industry in Florida. 139 In 1985, Cypress Gardens, the most popular attraction of the 1960s and proud family owned establishment was sold to corporate ownership and is now 137 Lake, Luresa Lake Interveiw By Katie Gresham. 138 Vickers, Cypress Gardens, America s Tropical Wonderland 205 139 Revels, Sunshine Paradise 140


53 owned by the Winter Hav en County Commission which leases it to LEGOLAND so that visitors can see what is left of the original sixteen acres bought by Dick Pope. Silver Springs is now a sleepy state park with a nostalgic feel about it. Before the 1990s, Walt Disney World was th e only attraction that advertised on African American media. Florida was still not a very welcoming place for African Americans to visit in the last decades of the 20 th century. In 1990 riots in Miami over the treatment of Nelson Mandela when he visited ev entually led to a boycott of the city, which cost approximately $54 million dollars. So, while Disney World aimed to attract and accept people of all races they created a different type of separation that is still inherent to their business today; the abil ity to afford to go and to get there. Disney World is located out of reach of most public transportation so cars or the ability to pay for private transportation must be possible for visitors. Disney World is open to whoever can afford to buy a ticket. To visit Disney World today, a one day ticket costs over one hundred dollars each, with the median income of an African American family being $39,715 in 2010 61% of the white median income, and less than half owning a home it would be difficult to take a vac ation to Disney World. 140 141 Cypress Gardens and Silver Springs are remembered nostalgically as a part of the Florida tourism industry from a time before big corporations. They existed through some of the har shest parts of American history, including the st ruggle for civil rights by African Americans Each place had a unique strategy that allowed African Americans to visit and enjoy. Cypress Gardens had one day per year, the norm in the south, that they allowed African Americans in. Silver Springs operated P aradise Park for African 140 n.d., 141 African Americans | State of Working America, accessed March 21, 2016, sheets/african americans/.


54 Americans to swim and ride the glass bottom boats. The locations and demographics of each attraction determined what race relations were like there but they each had a separate part of town for African Americans in which they were able to live independently from the white communities. Cypress Gardens never attracted a large number of African American visitors, possibly, because of its positive rememb rance of the Antebellum South or because of the limited amount of time they could visit. On the other hand, Paradise Park was an important part of the local African American community and attracted visitors from all over the United States because of how ni cely it was set up. African Americans knew that Jim Crow w as not fair, but by most accounts, they were grateful for the exposure and ability to enjoy two of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida. David Faison longtime boat driver at Silver Spri ngs said it best, 142 142 Faison, David Faison Interview By Katie Gresham.


55 Bibliography Primary Sources African Americans | State of Working America. Accessed March 21, 2016. t sheets/african americans/. Barbour, George. Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers. New York, D. Appleton and company, 1884. Bloodworth, Susan. Skiing Sibling Duo: Brother, Sister 1st Black Tea m at Gardens. Lakeland Ledger August 18, 1991. AAAIBAJ&sjid=F_wDAAAAIBAJ&pg=1576,4624027&hl=en. Doles, Betty Doles Interview By Lu Vickers, February 2008 Faison, David. David Faison Interview By Katie Gresham, March 11, 2016. Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. Florida, State Library and Archives of. Aunt Scilla Standing beside the Astatula at the Silver Springs Dock Florida. Florida Memory Accessed February 11, 2016. Blossom Time in Florida Cypress Gardens. Florida Memory Accessed February 22, 2016. Easy to Love Promotional Photograph at the Cypress Gardens Swimming Pool Winter Haven, Florida. Florida Memory Accessed April 1, 2016. Ross Allen Milking a Rattlesnake Ocala, Florida. Florida Memory Accessed February 11, 2016. htt ps:// Water Skiing at Cypress Gardens Winter Haven, Florida. Florida Memory Accessed February 22, 2016. Investigating Lynching of Negro by Ocala Mob. The Evening Independent January 13, 1926. Kauffmann, Laura. District Doubles Minority Hires, Still Has a Long Way to Go. Ocala Star Banner August 2, 1996. King, Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963. ated_letter_from_birmingham.1.html. Lake, Luresa. Luresa Lake Interview By Katie Gresham, March 11, 2016. Miller, Dors ey. Dorsey Miller Interview By Ryan Morini, November 11, 2014. Paradise Park Was a Haven for Black Community. Accessed March 19, 2016. Pinkston, Ann. Ann Pinkston Interview by Ryan Morini and Justin Dunnavant, October 9, 2014. Samuel Pr octor Oral History Program. Press, The Associated. Racists Break up Florida Wade Ins. New York Times June 23, 1964. Smathers Special Collections Library, University of Florida, Ephemera Collection


56 Stafford, May. May Stafford Interview By Ryan Morini, M arch 23, 2015. Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. State Denies Irvin s Charge That Assault Trial Was Unfair. Baltimore Afro American January 11, 1955. Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Palmetto Leaves Boston: J.R. Osgood and Co, 1873. Vereen Retires as Paradi se Park Manager. Ocala Star Banner June 29, 1967. n.d. Secondary Sources Branch, Stephen. The Salesman and His Swamp: Dick Pope s Cypress Gardens The Florida Historical Quarterly 80, no. 4 (Spring 2002): 483 503. Early Days. Accessed February 5, 2016. Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore. Accessed March 20, 2016. Gannon, Michael, ed. The History of Florida Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013. Hollis, Tim. Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails: Florida s Tourist Springs Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2006. Selling the Sunshine State: A Celebration of Florida Tourism Advertising Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008. Hunting and Fishing Club Had a Purpose. Ocala Star Banner October 23, 1989. Hurston, Zora Neale. Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography Harper Collins, 2010. Mules and Men Harper Collins, 2009. Johnson, Ulysses. The History of Florence Villa Lakeland, Florida: Genie Publishing, 2009. King, Gilbert. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America Reprint edition. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. Marks. Labor Problems Of The Florida East Coast Railway Extension From Homestead To Key West: 1905 1907, n.d. Paradise Park Was a Haven for Black Community. Accessed March 19, 2016. Paulson, Darryl. STAY OUT, THE WATER S FINE: DESEGREGATING MUNICIPAL SWIMMING FACILITIES IN ST. PETERSBURG, FLORI DA. Tampa Bay History 4, no. 2 (1982): 6 20. Remembering a Liberator during Black History Month. Ocala Star Banner February 14, 1996. Revels, Tracy J. Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011. T he RMPK Group. The Community Redevelopment Plan For Florence Villa, June 2, 2000. Three Men, 150 Years of Piloting Glass Bottom Boats at Silver Springs. Accessed February 5, 2016.


57 Vic kers, Lu. Cypress Gardens, America s Tropical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010. Vickers, Lu, and Cynthia Wilson Graham. Remembering Paradise Park: Tourism and Segregation at Silver Springs Universi ty Press of Florida, 2015. White, Deborah. Ar n t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South Revised Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. Wilson Graham, Cynthia. Remembering Paradise Park Presentation. Wild Iris Bookstore, Gainesville FL, November 4, 2015. Wolcott, Victoria W. Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle over Segregated Recreation in America Reprint edition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.