July 5, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

Community players performed the musical comedy "Guys and Dolls" at the Lake City Community College Performing Arts Center June 25-28 and the show was a sparkler, a smash hit. At each performance, the appreciative audience gave the performers a rousing standing ovation and they deserved it.

The lead performers were at their best and the richly talented, 25-plus member cast gave A-plus performances up and down the line. The Hot Box Girls dancers---pert, saucy, and playfully flirtatious—did their part to keep the show going at full steam. Give a ton of credit to choreographer Jennifer Owens for that.

The incomparable Harry West directed the orchestra to perfection with the superb Owen Wingate the overall music director. Bob Gerard, a CHS graduate, was the director and he brings the highest standards to every show he directs.

Well done, guys and dolls! You staged was one of the best community theater productions done here in a long time.


Two weeks ago, I mentioned that Ritch Nettles was the 'N' in the original N & W Dry Cleaners but I didn't know who the 'W' was. Now I do, thanks to friend and column reader Pat Weeks Arnold who emailed me this information to complete the story.

"Morris, I always enjoy reading your section of the paper. About N & W, my daddy, Frank Weeks, and Ritch started the N & W business together.

"They both had returned home from World War II, and both had gone back to work at the Lake City Laundry. Then they decided to go into business for themselves and, together, they opened Nettles and Weeks Dry Cleaners, located on East Duval. They called it N & W.

"Their slogan was 'Large enough to accommodate, small enough to appreciate.' "

So, now we know. N & W stood for Nettles and Weeks. Thanks so much, Pat.


CHS football Coach Hobart Hooser (CHS coach 1931-42), a Tennessee graduate, compiled the best high school record in Florida from 1931-1935 when his first four teams went undefeated.

Understandably, many larger schools then wanted to hire him away from Lake City and two of those schools wee Julia Landon High and Andrew Jackson High of Jacksonville. However, both schools dropped their interest when they found Coach Hooser was a Tennessee man and not a Florida man. A big deal in those days.

What a surprise it must have been for Landon and Jackson when UF later hired Coach Hooser and eventually inducted him into their Athletic Hall of Fame where his induction plaque read, " Presented to Hobart Hooser for the great recognition UF has received through your many outstanding contributions to Florida athletes and athletics."

Not bad for a Tennessee man!


*1988: Jeff Buie, former star running back at CHS, died in a car crash, 21 years ago this month.

*1957: The first CHS Quarterback Club was formed under president Julius Minchin. By 1959, the club had grown to 20 members under president Eddie Joe Long, Sr. In 1969, Frank Wayt became club president, and under his energetic leadership, the club membership mushroomed into 1,000 members, making it one of the largest in Florida.

*1936: The CHS football team completed its fourth undefeated season under Coach Hobe Hooser and an all-star team was named from the top players of those four teams. The only two players still living from that all-star team are former Mayor Gerald Witt and Judge Wallace Jopling.

*1934: The CHS football team, a top team in Florida, defeated a strong team from Morristown, Tennessee, and the game's details were broadcast over Cincinnati radio station WLW, one of the most powerful radio stations in the country.


In 1905, City Marshall Charles F. Eaton and Sheriff W.N. Cone announced a $25 reward "for each and every person reported to us for selling in any way whiskies, wines, beer or any alcoholic drinks such as mixed cider with whiskey or any drink containing alcohol or whiskey in the city limits of Lake City with any evidence to convict."


Two short books: The Amish phone directory and "Things I Can't Afford" by Bill Gates. square

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