September 20, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

The late Leslie S. Soldwell was best known in Lake City during the 1930s, 1940s, and 50s as a jeweler and for his popular store, Soldwells Jewelers. But some, like master musician Tony Buzzella, know that Leslie was also an outstanding musician and the founder of the first Lake City Band, which played on special occasions at the bandstand in Olustee Park in the 1930s and 1940s.

He was also the first to try to get Columbia High School to start a band program and he wrote these words to CHS parents trumpeting the values of a school band.

The advantages and influences of a school band are indeed great and far reaching. Many keen enjoyments and pleasant associations are formed. Band work is splendid discipline, as it calls for strict attention to the task in hand and more or less quick thinking. It trains for citizenship, develops character and personality, improves scholarship, promotes good health, and inculcates a fondness for good music that will stay throughout life.

Measured from the standpoint of both the individual and the school, there is perhaps no form of activity that yields greater returns on the amount of time, money, and effort invested in a well trained band.

To try to give CHS a push in starting a band program, when his Lake City Band disbanded, he donated the uniforms to CHS and they were worn by the first CHS band students. Our School Museum has a photograph of CHS student Albert Bonney (CHS 1940) wearing one of those first uniforms.

And, thanks to Leslie Soldwells initial efforts, CHS has had a school band ever since.


The High Springs Community Theater (HSCT) will be presenting its next play, "Squabbles," a comedy, starting Friday, October 2. and running through October 25. Weekends only.

This production, like so many before it, will have a strong Lake City presence. With LCCCs Larry Gunter as director, David Hurner, also of LCCC, as assistant director, and set design by Jessica Sheely, also of Lake City, the play promises to be yet another in a long line of outstanding HSCT productions. Local actors in the play are the incomparable Frank Hubert, Pat Carrico, and Dewey Burton.

You can buy tickets at The Framery, 855 SW Baya Drive, (386-754-2780), and find more information at

Speaking of HSCT, four Lake City kids had significant roles in their childrens summer production of "Hansel and Gretel": Steve Jones, Jr. as Hansel, Kelbie Ronsonet as the Gingerbread Witch, Zach Krause as a troll, and Wes Jones (brother of Steve) as an Owl.


*1975: Hayward Lofton retired from our school system with 34 years service and K. Michael Cohen resigned after 19 years service.

*1992: A Lake City version of Frosty The Snowman was stolen. The 22-foot tall Christmas decoration disappeared from the roof of North Florida Medical Sales and Rentals on then-South First Street just days before Christmas. Evidently the thieves were smitten by a guilty conscience and secretly returned Frosty four days later. One politician said that Frosty simply kept the promise in his song to  come back again some day.

*1994: CHS football moved from Memorial Stadium, where the Tigers had played for 70 years, to the brand new stadium on the CHS campus. To mark the occasion, many students at CHS wore specially made tee shirts that read,  Welcome to the Jungle. New stadium. Same winning tradition.

*1996: The South Columbia Sports Complex at Fort White opened with pomp and ceremony, complete with an official ceremonial ribbon cutting.


Pine Grove Baptist Church celebrated its 63rd homecoming on Sunday, August 23, and 80-year-old Charles Knight, guest preacher, celebrated his 40 years of preaching by delivering a dynamic sermon. In fact, he was so energetic that Pastor Ronald Thompson referred to Rev. Knight as the Energizer Bunny because  he just keeps going and going and going.

By the way, the highly active Pine Grove Senior Citizens group calls themselves the ADY Group because they  ain't done yet!


The wages of sin is death - be sure to quit before payday! square

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