Everybody smoked and nobody had a cell phone. It seems hard to believe that only 40 years ago teachers had a smoking lounge in the school, fancy phones were all the rage. Do you remember AT&T phone stores at the mall?

A working computer weighed several pounds, wearing seatbelts was not yet mandatory and people actually relied on the “telephone book” to locate telephone numbers. How things have changed.

Our Chasing Shadows question this week: What is your favorite memory of the Bicentennial? To comment, please contact the Times at 653-8868 or Lois Swoboda at lswoboda@starfl.com.


A tribute to Miss Maggie Buzzett

Margaret Winifred Buzzett known to everyone as Miss Maggie, passed away last Tuesday at the age of 93.The absence of her cheerful energetic presence will be felt for years to come by members of the community.

In memory of Miss Maggie, the Times is repeating a story by Mrs. Margaret Key published in December 1973 which commemorated her 90th birthday.


On Sunday, December 3, Miss Margaret Winifred Buzzett, better known as Miss Maggie, celebrated her 90th birthday. The tiny energetic lady has seen and participated in much of Apalachicola’s history during those 90 years.

Following a business career she was closely associated with the steamer Tarpon for 23 years – 13 as clerk and as agent – with an office on the Tarpon dock. For 33 years the Tarpon came to Apalach with a cargo of groceries and other merchandise every Thursday. Miss Maggie’s job was making bills of lading and checking freight. The Tarpon’s coastal route was Mobile, Pensacola, Panama City, Carrabelle and Apalachicola; then return trip to home port in Pensacola.

Veteran of the seas, Captain W. G. Barrow was 81 years old when he said to Miss Maggie on August 25, 1937, after her usual Thursday night dinner aboard the vessel, “Good night Maggie, I’ll see you next Thursday.” Next Thursday, September 2, Miss Maggie received a phone call, “Where’s the Tarpon?” asked the voice. “She must be in Carrabelle. I’ll get in my car and go over,” said Miss Maggie. There had been a storm, maybe the Tarpon was waiting it out. Before Miss Maggie could start, a second call came. “No need to go. She’s lost off Panama City.”

“God makes the weather and with His help, I make the trips,” Captain Barrow is credited with saying and on his 1735th trip the 50-year old Tarpon, hit by high seas, had sunk in minutes. The captain, helped onto a floating hatch cover, died of exposure in the cold night. Only 12 of the 31 aboard were saved. One crew member after a 25 hour swim had come ashore with news of the tragedy. Among those lost was one Apalachicola man. Second Mate W. H. Russell, father of Mrs. Francis Lovett.

In an interview in the 1920s between two periods of employment with the Tarpon Miss Maggie owned “The Fancy Grocery” where the Grill is located. Her nephew, John Joe Buzzett, worked as grocery boy on Saturdays for 75 cents, good wages then! Deliveries on Saturdays were made from 9 p.m. on. This was the custom in Apalach since many people were not equipped with accommodations for perishables such as meat for Sunday dinner.

After the Tarpon sank Miss Maggie took the agency for a truck line. The period extended after World War II. Then she “retired” that is, of course, a question if anyone is as busy as Miss Maggie who maintains two beach cottages and a large house.

She is one of ten children born to Joseph and Winifred Buzzett, only four of whom grew to adulthood. Besides herself, only one, Mrs. Marie Sturman of Houston, Texas is left. The late Will Buzzett and Miss Anna Fry were also her brother and sister.

With Miss Maggie’s childhood record of serious illness, a long and active life could not have been predicted. At ten she had polio, in those days called infantile paralysis. She then had meningitis and tetanus known then as lockjaw. Having survived all of these diseases, the little blond girl was ready for anything. She was never easily baffled and has been going strong since.


Number please?

When at last this little instrument appeared consisting, as it does, of parts every one of which is familiar to us and capable of being put together by an amateur, the disappointment, arising from its humble appearance, was only partially relieved on finding that it was really ready to talk. - James Clark Maxwell (1878)

Franklin Countians had their doubts this week about whether or not this “little instrument” could really talk. Effective Monday, was the change of 800 phone numbers in both Eastpoint and Apalachicola by the St. Joe Telephone and Telegraph Company to offer better service to the county.

Unfortunately, though, we won’t be able to judge the quality of the new system until we can find out just what those 800 numbers have been changed to! According to the phone company, new directories with the changed numbers were mailed to the customers on November 15 but three days later the books have not arrived in the county from the printers in Ohio.

This may seem only a minor inconvenience for we gossips. However it’s a major infraction for public services, businesses, county and city government and law enforcement agencies who depend on the phone system to conduct their affairs.

The staff at the Times was disturbed by the change in numbers but even more frustrated when we learned that our number had been incorrectly given out by phone information and the paper was listed under Apalachee Publishing Company instead of the Apalachicola Times.

As matters rest at press time, the phone company has left Franklin Countians not only at their mercy but also at the mercy of the U. S. Postal Service.


Black-out on St. George Island

Residents on St. George Island experienced a temporary black-out early Saturday evening as the result of a vehicle colliding with a power pole on the east end of the island.

John Whitley, 56, a house painter who lives on the island said Monday that his Volkswagen hit a sandy spot which pulled his steering wheel out of his hand and caused him to hit a power pole.

An unidentified motorist noticed the accident and called an ambulance to take Whitley to the county hospital. Whitely was treated at Weems Memorial for cuts and shoulder bruises Saturday evening and released on Sunday.

According to Dick White of Florida Power Corporation they received a call about 8 p.m. Saturday, notifying them of the black-out. The entire island suffered a power loss for only 15 minutes but the eastern end was without power for an hour and a half, White said.


Two police cars collide

Two police cars are thought to be a total loss by the Florida Highway Patro0l as a result of an accident Friday evening when Franklin County Deputy’s car struck the new Carrabelle police car from the rear on a wet road in Carrabelle.

FHP trooper Buck Phillips, investigating officer, estimated the damages to both cars at $7,000.

The collision occurred around 9 p.m. Friday when Franklin County Deputy Jim Phillips and Carrabelle Officer John Patton were on their way to answer an emergency call on Highway 67, said Carrabelle Police Chief Marvin Braswell.

Officer Patton stopped his car and Deputy Phillips hit him from the rear.

Chief Braswell said that the Carrabelle police car, a 1976 Ford Custom, had been purchased in September and was the force’s only vehicle. “We will have to rent a car to use until we replace the one we wrecked,” said Braswell.

The county car was a 1976 Buick. Neither officer was injured in the accident.


School smoking rules disputed

Apalachicola High Principal Jimmy Phifer and School Board Members were under fire during a school meeting Tuesday when angry parents disagreed with disciplinary measures and board policy regarding smoking on campus.

Edna Smith, Harvey Whitehead and Gloria Estes, parents of Apalachicola High School students, accused the principal of suspending schoolchildren for smoking although the students were outside school boundaries. The parents also questioned Phifer why he doesn’t allow students to smoke cigarettes across from the school before classes in the morning.

Phifer denied that he had suspended students who were smoking off school property but admitted that school faculty members had tried to encourage students to come directly to school rather than stay outside because of problems with marijuana smoking near the campus in the past. Harvey Whitehead and Gloria Estes said they felt it was unfair that students with a smoking habit weren’t allowed to smoke on the school grounds and suggested that the school set up a designated student smoking area. “If teachers are allowed to smoke then why aren’t the students?” Whitehead said.

School Superintendent Curtis McLean said that school board policies prohibit designated smoking areas and that possession of tobacco by a minor was a violation of Florida statutes. The board made no action on the parents’ grievances.

In selecting a new school board chairman, two motions failed to reach a vote for lack of a second and two school board members declined to serve as board chairman before Dewey Shiver could be re-electe3d for another two-year term as chairman.

Board member May Howze nominated Photis J. Nichols and Nichols in turn nominated Howze but none of the other members would second either motion. Buford Golden and Mickey Gay both declined the nomination when Nichols suggested them for the position. Shiver was finally elected by a 4 to 1 vote with Nichols casting the dissenting vote. Buford Golden was elected vice chairman.