In 1986 a group of World War II vets reunited in Apalachicola. Our Chasing Shadows question this week: Have the three survivors drunk the brandy? Does anybody know? If you have the answer, or a good idea for Chasing Shadows, call Lois Swoboda at 653-1819, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apalach’s 106th enters into tontine
Apalachicola was the site of an ancient ceremony Saturday as members of the U.S. Army Company E, 106th Engineers, 31st Dixie Division met in a reunion here.
Dixie Division veterans from around the state attended the reunion of World War II division which was inducted in Apalachicola in 1940 at 80 members strong, according to George Keith, who traveled here from his home in Palm Beach.
Meeting at the Seabreeze Restaurant in Eastpoint the old hands entered into a tontine agreement which will be in effect until only three members remain alive.
A tontine is an arrangement between a group or, as in the case of the veterans, to a trio of survivors.
In this case, according to J. E. Little, an Apalach native who came home to celebrate the reunion, a bottle of “fine quality brandy” will be left to the three who outlast the others in the company.
At the time, Little said, the three will travel to Apalachicola, where they will drink the brandy and remember their comrades.
Or, as the tontine agreement reads, “the tontine and legacy shall be consummated by the survivors assembling; and the names of all eighty members shall be called; and they shall drink a toast from the fine quality brandy to the comrades of their youth and Company E, 106th Engineers.”
During a cold spell men often find a business with a warm fire side on the Eastpoint waterfront and sit around to swap news, jokes and yarns. Frank (Sonny)Segree is knowledgable on many interesting subjects; especially the history of Eastpoint and it’s settlers. Red Smith, Carl rickards and James Sampson can keep you laughing but sometimes the talk gets real serious.
They were remembering “beatings” they got as young lads. J. D. Gilbert said the worst beating he ever got was over an orange tree loaded with oranges in his back yard. He said that one morning about breakfast time it was almost completely covered with red birds. He took his dad’s old shotgun and found the shells were fitted with salt instead of buckshot so he just poured some tacks down the barrel and let go. When things cleared up the orange tree was gone. The red birds feet were all tacked to the limbs and they flew off with it.
Vernon gilbert told of being the youngest in the family and no one would ever take him on a hunting trip. That year he was determined to go, so he got his dad’s 22 rifle, tied it to the handlebars of his bicycle and took off on his own up the mountain.
He passed two groups of hunters along the way who laughed at him and his 22 rifle. He made it to the top and right away he seen a deer. He aimed that 22 rifle and the deer fell on the first shot. Then he had to figure out how to get him home.
He managed to get him on his bicycle by sitting him on the seat , placing his forefeet on the handlebars and his hind feet on the pedals. He then seated himself in front of the deer, covering its forefeet and hind feet with his own feet and hands.
They were pedaling down the mountain. The bicycle was going fast and he lost his footholds on the pedals but the deer kept pedaling away down the mountain, past the astonished hunters to the bottom of the mountain, then his bicycle crashed and the deer jumped up and ran away with it tangled in his antlers.
Vernon says if anyone sees a deer with more than his share of antlers its probably his old bicycle.
Even though my two brothers told those tales in a serious and truthful manner, I doubted them because none of us Gilberts ever left an orange on a tree long enough for it to be loaded and the tires on that old bike would never have made it.Our community churches have a fellowship sing several times a year. Wednesday before Thanksgiving the United Methodist Church hosted a community Thanksgiving service and Eastpoint churches combined to give thanks for the many blessings throughout the year.
We have gospel singers in Eastpoint that could be professionals. They sing from their hearts with their God given talent. We have a tape of their songs which I have played over and over. I recognize most of the vocalists. Eastpoint is very proud of its young people, our seven churches, their pastors and many workers and if you haven’t attended one of these meetings you are missing a real joy in your life. It’s a place where you meet your neighbors and renew old acquaintences, make new friends and feel so welcome.
Local craftsman chosen to participate in state “Master Artist” apprentice program
An Apalachicola craftsman was one of five Florida folk artists named this week to participate in the 1986 Folk Arts Apprenticeship Project.
Corky Richards, a wood craftsman who makes oyster tongs, was chosen to act as a master artist along with Pauline Hodges, New Berlin, a pine needle basket maker; Sandy Kieth, Dunedin, a Scottish bagpiper; Robert James Rudd, Lake Worth, a cypress furniture maker and Spirol Skordilis, Tarpon Springs, a Greek bouzouki player.
Project director, Peter Roller was in Apalachicola Monday and Tuesday to sign a contract with Richards and his son, Rodney, an Eastpoint oysterman who will apprentice during the six month program.
Roller said the project helps encourage Florida’s cultural traditions by supporting master folk artists in passing their crafts to experienced apprentices.
“The Apprenticeship Project supports a six-month period of intensive learning in which apprentices gain the techniques and values of a master artist,” Roller said on Tuesday.
He said the apprentice’s progress is documented with photographs and taped interviews.
The artisits and apprentices are then invited to participate in the annual Florida Folk Festival held on May 22-24 in White Springs so that the traditions they are preserving can be presented to a statewide audience.
Richards has been making and repairing oyster tongs in his Water Street shop for over 15 years.
“Richards’ craft is especially important to the Apalachicola community because he adapts his oyster tongs to suit the particular needs of the local oysterman,” Roller said.
He said Rodney Richards will be concentrating on learning to forge, hammer and weld the metal parts that comprise the tongs’ “basket.” He will also learn to adjust the oyster tongs for different working conditions.