March 15, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

In 1940, Lake City's Peggy Jean Horton, age 10, was said to be the youngest professional dance teacher in America. Her "School of Dance" had presented revues in Live Oak, Lake City, and Jacksonville.

Her students' first stage production was "Enchanted Garden", and she was busily preparing her second production, "May Follies", when she received an unexpected congratulatory telegram from Hollywood dancer and movie star, Eleanor Powell.

Miss Powell's telegram said, "Good luck to you, dear, and to your students, opening night and always. Your dancing friend, Eleanor Powell."

Miss Powell then followed up the telegram by sending Peggy an autographed photograph.

At that same time, Miss Powell's latest movie, "Honolulu", was showing at the downtown Desoto Theater so it was big news in the little Lake City of 1940 that Peggy had gotten a telegram and photograph from a movie star whose movie was currently showing in Lake City.

All this was such big news around town that Miss Powell's telegram and photo were displayed alongside Peggy's photo in the main display window at Gelberg's Department Store.

Peggy never quite became an outstanding professional dancer herself but she was always proud of her brief encounter with the famous Eleanor Powell when she was just ten years old.


The CHS Class of 1946 will meet at Phish Heads Restaurant, 1445 SW Main Blvd., at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25. Please RSVP to Marie Kennon at 386-752-2965 or Mozelle Tompkins at 386-752-5086.


Rev. Dean Cassels, 68, died Monday, March 2, after an apparent heart attack. He had been the CHS band director around 1968 and afterwards at Starke and Lake Butler. Burial was at Conner Cemetery with Archer Funeral Home of Lake Butler in charge.


School Museum thanks go to retired CHS teacher Doris Zedaker, now of Fernandina, for donating five yearbooks: CHS (1970,71), LCCC (1964, 65,66). We also thank Ed and Joan Zedaker Catledge for delivering them.

By the way, The LCCC yearbook back then was named The Lumberjack and the college was known as Lake City Junior College and Forest Ranger School.

Thanks also to Wendy McFatter, for donating a beautifully framed photo of the first Future Farmers of America officers at Richardson Middle School from back in 2002. Those officers were Donna Ellercamp, Priscilla McDonald, Levi McFatter, Austin Pearce, Crystal Harrington, Rachel Robertson, and Ashley Pearce.


*1967: CHS won the state Class A football championship with a 27-7 win over Auburndale in Auburndale. That same night, Coral Gables beat Jacksonville Wolfson 21-7 for the AA (big school) title, and Green Cove Springs defeated Graceville 33-0 for the class B (small school) championship.

*1939: Mason City High School, no longer in existence, graduated 13 students: R. S. Cox, Emelyn Vivian Dicks, Mescal Gay, Dorothy Louise Howell, Edna Lurette Pope, Louise Geneva Tyre, Doris Alethia Williams, Ruth Fosteen Witt, Elton Wilson Dicks, Harvey Strickland Graham, John Josiah Lamb, Kathleen Tedder, and Clarence Henry Lloyd.

Lurette was the class valedictorian and Kathleen was salutatorian. Rev. Leonard Eikel of the Mikesville Presbyterian Church was the graduation speaker.

*1980: President Jimmy Carter announced on May 13 that he would nominate Francis J. McNeil (CHS 1950) to be "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Costa Rica". Francis had been a Senior Inspector in the office of the Inspector General at the State Department since 1978 and a Foreign Service Officer since 1956.

*1958: Supt. Buford Galloway presented teacher Lucille Young Inman a 'Faithful Service Award' for Outstanding Service as a teacher in the Public Schools of Florida and Columbia County' for 24 years.

1982: The current animal shelter opened, replacing the dilapidated 20-year-old sub-standard shelter. In 1997, the shelter celebrated its 45th anniversary (1962-2007).


A Martian wandered from his spaceship in the desert into a Las Vegas casino just as a slot machine was spewing forth a bunch of nickels. The Martian went over to it and said, "Listen fellow. With a cold like that, you really should take some aspirin and go to bed." square

H. Morris Williams is a local historian and long-time Columbia County resident.