November 22, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

Last Friday night Columbia High and Suwannee High played their annual Old Oaken Bucket football game, a tradition that began in 1951 at a Lake City homecoming game. Here are interesting tidbits about the game's history.

*Two days before the first game in 1951, CHS Coach Broughton Williams' homeroom 11-D created a homecoming display in the window of the DeSoto Drug Store depicting a swami peering into a crystal ball and predicting a 33-0 CHS victory over Live Oak. Two nights later CHS won 33-0 and the game's MVP was Gene Cox who wore number 33.

*In the 1960's, local businessman Jimmy Hair flew his small plane over the stadium and dropped the game ball onto the field.

*The original charter says the tradition is ‘to continue for a period of 99 years' or until the year 2050.

*Joseph W. Massengill, Suwannee High Student Council sponsor, ‘initiated the splendid tradition in order to create a friendly spirit, a closer pupil relationship, and a wholesome rivalry between the two schools.'

*The term ‘Old Oaken Bucket' is the title of a poem by Samuel Wordsworth and refers to the bucket farm people used to draw well water. It symbolizes a nostalgic tradition like the Columbia-Suwannee rivalry.

*There is also an Old Oaken Bucket college game between Indiana and Purdue.

*Game scores are inscribed on a trophy and displayed in the trophy case of the year's winning school.


*To Libby Dobelstein Clary, daughter of the late Betty Dobelstein, for donating 22 of her Mother's class photos from 1964-1988 when Betty was teaching at Eastside Elementary School; also, a 1971 CHS Tiger newspaper mostly dedicated to the departure from CHS of popular coach Paul Quinn.

Betty and Barbara Lawrence, also deceased, were friends and mainstays in our school system. Ironically, Betty graduated from Knoxville (TN) High School where Barbara's Father had been School Superintendent.

*To the family of Lamar and Mozelle Tompkins (CHS 1946) for donating  the 1975-1978 CHS yearbooks that had belonged to their daughter, Billie, who was tragically killed in a local car crash; also a CHS 1946 graduation program; and an excellent 1937 photo of the 20-member class at the old Midway School and their teacher, J.E. (John) Waters, who was later principal of Central Elementary School just before Claude Fralick.

*To the family of Hobe Hooser, CHS's legendary coach (1931-42), for donating his treasured Rotary Club pin. By the way, when Coach Hooser was coaching at UF and living in Gainesville, he would make up his missed Gainesville Rotary meetings by attending at the High Springs club.

*To CHS grad Gene Green for an excellent 8 x 10 black and white photo of himself in full Gator uniform when he was playing at UF as a sophomore in the school year 1959-60.


Have you ever heard of a Columbia County school called Gum Sink School (not Gum Swamp), located in the Fort White area?

I got a call from a woman who said her family has paperwork indicating that her grandfather, Frank F.P. Barry, was ordained as a preacher around 1896 by a church official named W. W. Holt and the ordination took place inside the Gum Sink school. Give me a call if you know where Gum Sink School was (755-8183) and I will pass on your information.


The High Springs Community Theater will be presenting a 1940's radio production of “It's A Wonderful Life”, starting November 27.

Six Lake Citians are in the show: Lorraine Kirkland, Amanda Willis Martinez, Brad Bullard, Henry Martinez, Willow Russell Martinez, and Zach Krause.

Weekends only. Get ticket information at The Framery, 755 SW Baya Avenue (386-754-2780), in Lake City.


There's still time before Christmas to buy a copy of “Old Florida Memories”, the wonderful pictorial history of Columbia County, but the books are now in short supply and when they are gone they are gone. They cost $21.39, including tax, at the Lake City Reporter office or you can call them at 386-752-1293 to order one. They would make a great Christmas present.


HOARSE THIEF: A person who steals cough drops. square

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