November 08, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

This coming Friday night the Santa Fe Raiders and the Ft. White Indians football teams continue a long-standing tradition which they call "The Battle for the Paddle", based on "The Legend of the Hickory Paddle."

Legend holds that competitions existed between the people of North Alachua County and South Columbia County long before the arrival of Ponce DeLeon.

The people were separated by a deep, dark river and the only way to compete was to cross the river by canoe.

For nearly 100 years, the canoe was propelled with a paddle hewn from the wood of a giant Hickory tree that grew on Rum Island. Late one night, the paddle was lost in the dark river but was found in 2002.

So, on Friday night, the Santa Fe Raiders and Ft. White Indians continue the long-standing tradition of the Hickory Paddle competition. At the conclusion of the game, the victor will be presented the paddle for display in the winning school's trophy case until these teams meet again.

Thanks to Santa Fe High School principal Bill Herschleb and Shayne Morgan, School Museum archivist and champion of all thing Fort White, for this information.


Three local churches shared some good and happy times at their morning services recently.

*Bethlehem Baptist's "Pastor Appreciation Day" perfectly blended the congregation's feelings of love and appreciation for Pastor Lowell O'Steen and his wife Gwen with lots of good-natured fun.

Everyone's favorite part was when the children all marched on stage on cue and taped dollar bills on the honorees from head to toe, including eyes, ears, nose, throat, and all over a certain good-natured preacher's head!

*Mikesville Presbyterian  Pastor Herb Brownlee used all his 73 years preaching experience to masterfully guide his congregation through a great, spirit-filled 132nd homecoming service.

A funny slipup happened when Pastor Herb was starting to baptize a 'fine baby boy' when his wife called out and said, "Honey, that boy you are baptizing is actually a girl!" And Pastor Herb got as big a laugh out of the slipup as anybody.

Lake City's Betty Eikel Norris (CHS 1947), a homecoming regular, was there and she doubtless has many warm memories of the church. Her father, the late Rev. Leonard Eikel, was Mikesville's longest serving pastor, so Mikesville is the church of Betty's youth.

*Pleasant Grove Methodist's  pastor Dusty Bailey, a young man mature way beyond his years, has been pastor there just six months but he conducted the homecoming service like an experienced veteran.

In his opening remarks, Pastor Bailey joked that he had accidentally  misspelled his church's name in a monthly report, calling it Pleasant "Groove." This reportedly prompted conference officials to think Pastor Bailey had the church going in a 'pleasant groove' and therefore it was a real cool, groovy church.


CHS grads from several generations gathered at Tucker's Fine Dining to pay tribute to the memory of the late Harold Williams who began the annual Sports Luncheon six years ago.

Harold's lifelong friend, Ray Kirkland, gave a beautiful memorial tribute to Harold, and Harold's widow, Liz, gave an eloquent response.

CHS head football coach Craig Howard wrapped up the event by 'wowing' the group with inspirational remarks about the joy of human fellowship, the power of love, the glory of teamwork, and the ultimate pleasure we all feel at being part of the CHS Tiger family.


Retired educator Joe Kirkland has been a lifelong pillar of the Florida Future Farmers of America (FFA) program at the local and state levels. More than once, he has been referred to as Florida's "Mr. FFA".

Accordingly, Joe has been inducted into the Florida FFA Hall of Fame, the first local resident to achieve that high honor. To those who know him best, Joe is also a Hall of Fame great guy and a southern gentlemen of the highest order.


The not-too-swift redneck read the 'peel and win' label on his drink at the local cafe and excitedly thought he had won a motor home—but it turned out the label said 'win a bagel'! square

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