Peggy Best https://peggybest.com Author of Unsung Hero Thu, 19 Sep 2019 18:24:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.3 https://peggybest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/cropped-peggybest_icon-32x32.png Peggy Best https://peggybest.com 32 32 Tri-County Women Veterans https://peggybest.com/tri-county-women-veterans/ https://peggybest.com/tri-county-women-veterans/#respond Wed, 18 Sep 2019 22:49:20 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=5399 Sixteen percent of today's military force is female--the largest contingent in our history. Every service is recruiting more female high school and college graduates. Let's support our women warriors. Sixteen percent of today's military force is female--the largest contingent in our history. Every service is recruiting more female high school and college graduates. Let's support our women warriors.

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The Tri-County Women Veterans

The Tri-County Women Veterans meet the third Monday every month at Palmer Legends Country Club. I spoke about my books Unsung Hero and Dandelion Child: A Soldier’s Daughter, and about my desire to help each of these veteran heroes get their stories known. Sixteen percent of today’s military force is female–the largest contingent in our history. Every service is recruiting more female high school and college graduates. Let’s support our women warriors. Sue Roper said, “The Tri-County Women Veterans, as a group, coordinates only a couple of activities a year. (i.e. visit the Athena House in Tampa, participate in parades, etc.) Instead, we like to help other organizations by providing woman-power to make their events successful (i.e. Honor Flight, Operation Shoebox, Villagers For Veterans, Veterans Memorial Park, DAV, etc.) Hats off to these remarkable women.

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Village Honor Flight Challenge Coins https://peggybest.com/village-honor-flight-challenge-coins/ https://peggybest.com/village-honor-flight-challenge-coins/#respond Mon, 09 Sep 2019 22:29:40 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=5346 I attended a Village Honor Flight Lunch, where each veteran received a unique challenge coin. Along with the coin, the story told about its history, bestowed tribute upon these brave warriors. Like all heroes, their faces showed wonder they deserved such a reward.

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I attended a Village Honor Flight Lunch, where each veteran received a unique challenge coin. Along with the coin, the story told about its history, bestowed tribute upon these brave warriors. Like all heroes, their faces showed wonder they deserved such a reward.

According to Bob Lammle in an article written on September 26, 2012, for https://mentalfloss.com. “There are many examples of traditions that build camaraderie in the military. Few are as well-respected as the practice of carrying a challenge coin, a small medallion or token that signifies a person is a member of an organization.”

In ancient Rome, when an enlisted man performed well during a particular battle, officers handed him a coin with the mark of the legion from which it came. The coin, in addition to his pay, could be used as cash.  Some men held their coins as souvenirs.

During The Great War or WWI, a wealthy officer had bronze medallions struck with his flying squadron badge to give to his men. Little did he know how important that coin would become. 

One young flying ace was shot down over Germany and captured. The German’s took everything on his person except a small leather pouch he wore around his neck containing the medallion. They dressed him in German civilian clothing stripped of any military insignia. The pilot escaped and made his way to France with no identification. The French believed he was a spy and sentenced him for execution.

While contemplating his predicament, the pilot remembered his medallion and showed it to his captors. A French soldier recognized the badge. The execution was delayed. Later, they confirmed his identity and sent him back to his unit. The challenge coin saved his life. Today all services of the U.S. Military, as well as many civilian groups, present challenge coins, often with a special handshake to deserving members. These coins can be readily purchased, and are usually collected. Receiving one is an honor.

 
 

Korean Conflict Era Veteran Hilton Henderson

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Butterfly Garden https://peggybest.com/butterfly-garden/ https://peggybest.com/butterfly-garden/#respond Sat, 03 Aug 2019 16:20:40 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=5065 The butterfly garden in Lady Lake, Florida

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Six members and one guest of the Laureate Zeta Omicron Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi met with Alycyn Culbertson at the Fred Funk Butterfly Garden on the grounds of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Lake Griffin Road in Lady Lake, just outside The Villages, on Friday, July 26, 2019.  Alycyn took us through the many individual plots each housing both nectar and host plants for a particular butterfly. She gave us a map of the grounds with each garden listed with the names of plants and the butterfly those plants attract. We watched Long-tailed Skippers, Southern Dogface Sulphers, and various types of Swallowtail butterflies dart between host plants sucking their nectar. We began in the nursery where Monarch caterpillars gobble their milkweed host plant, and form a chrysalis. About one week later, the beautiful Monarch butterfly emerges. “If you want to attract butterflies to your garden,” Alycyn said, “start by planting good nectar plants like freebies, Lantana or Penta.  Add some host plants like milkweed or passion vine to keep butterflies in your garden.”

The Villages Butterfly Garden Club meets on the third Friday of each month from 1:30-3:20. Members of this club often visit the garden and perform upkeep. The public is welcome at all times to visit this garden at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 231 Lake Griffin Rd. in Lady Lake.

 

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Visiting the Sites in Salt Lake City https://peggybest.com/visiting-the-salt-lake-temple/ https://peggybest.com/visiting-the-salt-lake-temple/#respond Mon, 22 Jul 2019 02:12:05 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=4967 The post Visiting the Sites in Salt Lake City appeared first on Peggy Best.

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My husband, grandson, and I visited Salt Lake City, Utah to attend a Model Railroad Convention. While there, I spent my days walking to Temple Square, where I marveled at the many Latter Day Saints buildings and monuments.

Only four days after Brigham Young lead his congregation of Mormon pioneers into the valley (1847) and announced  it to be the “promised land,” he began planning the building of this temple. But construction didn’t begin until 1853 and took 40 years for completion. The present state of Utah, was, at the time of the Mormon settlement part of Mexico. In 1857 news broke out that a hostile United States Army would camp outside the city. This was during the time of the Mormon Rebellion from May 1857 to July 1858.

To hide the construction of the temple, Brigham Young had the foundations covered with dirt. However, when the dirt was removed, he saw that the firestone foundation would not hold the massive temple planned, so he replaced the firestone foundation with granite and sixteen foot thick footings. Finally, on April 6,1893, The Salt Lake Temple was completed and dedicated. Three other temples had been constructed and completed  prior to the Salt Lake Temple.

According to the Deseret News (April 19, 2019), the temple will close December 29 for renovation. Because Salt Lake City sits on a fault line, a major earthquake is expected any day. The addition of special footings, and the strengthening of the temple walls and towers, with base Isolators will take four years“It actually will now be the foundation of the temple, so when the earth moves, the base isolation system takes all that movement,” Brent Roberts, the church’s director of special projects said. The president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called the temple, “a stunning jewel in the crown of pioneer achievement.”

 https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900066730/heres-how-the-salt-lake-temples-base-isolation-system-will-protect-it-from-earthquakes.html

https://www.templesquare.com/blog/interesting-facts-you-didnt-know-about-the-salt-lake-temple/

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A Sloth To Love? https://peggybest.com/a-sloth-to-love/ https://peggybest.com/a-sloth-to-love/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2019 20:14:29 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=4943 The post A Sloth To Love? appeared first on Peggy Best.

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A Sloth To Love

Ancient sloths, as large as an elephant, roamed North America and became extinct around 10,000 years ago. The sloth I am holding lives in a cage and is used as a pet in the jungle of Honduras. The sloth is the slowest animal of the forest and rarely walks on land, but prefers to live in the trees. The fur is soft. I felt as though I were hugging my teddy bear. Although his three toes with large nails are a bit frightening, they are used to cling to branches as he slowly swings from limb to limb on the tree he inhabits.

A face only a mother could love.

A Sloth cuddles with Peggy in Honduras

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Votes For Women https://peggybest.com/votes-for-women/ https://peggybest.com/votes-for-women/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2019 15:37:31 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=4922 The post Votes For Women appeared first on Peggy Best.

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Peggy wears her pioneer outfit for a DAR sponsored rally commemorating our right to vote.

Women did not always have the right to vote. Our U.S. Constitution gave white property owning men the privilege of voting. Over time each state gave white men regardless or property ownership the right to vote. In 1848 the first women’s suffrage conference convened in New York, but it was 1920 before Congress gave all women, regardless of race or property ownership, the right to vote-except of course the American Indians. In 1924 an act was passed giving American Indians full citizenship and the right to vote.  The right to vote has a long and troubled past. Go online to learn more. DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!

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The Howey Mansion https://peggybest.com/the-howey-mansion/ https://peggybest.com/the-howey-mansion/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2019 23:37:10 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=4830 The post The Howey Mansion appeared first on Peggy Best.

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I joined a group from the American Association of University women for a tour of The Howey Mansion at Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida about an hour drive from The Villages, where I live. We gathered at the Eisenhower Recreation Center, joined together in a caravan and met at La Hacienda Mission Hills for lunch. Afterward, we drove a few miles down Citrus Avenue to tour The Howey Mansion. I found this outing and the people with whom I shared the experience to be most enjoyable. Especially since we also stopped at the Yalaha Bakery afterward for delicious cakes, pie, and cookies.

Our tour guide at the mansion explained the history of this house, it’s construction, and renovation, as well as stories of families who have lived in it beginning with its original owner, John Howey,

Born on January 19, 1876 in Odin, Illinois, John sold insurance at sixteen years old and by 1900 he began developing land and towns for the railroad in Oklahoma. He opened the Howey Motor Car Company in Kansas City in 1903. After making only seven Howey  Motor Cars the business closed. He bought a large tract of land in Mexico, but left due to the Mexican Revolution.

Being an enterprising  young man, he found Winter Haven in Florida, where he perfected his citrus farming and sales program. He began buying land for $8 to $10 per acre and planted each acre with 48 citrus trees. Then he sold those acres for $800 to $2000 per acre. He amassed his fortune.

In 1927, construction of his home—a 20-room, 7,200 square foot mansion at the cost of $250,000, around $3.2 million after inflation—was completed.  He, his wife Mary, and  their two adopted daughters, Mary and Lois lived in this home. John died in 1938. His daughter, Lois, died the year after. His wife, Mary, lived in the mansion until her death  in 1981.

The home was sold to different people, but lay abandoned for almost a decade before life was brought back into the building. This is a must see stop for anyone interested in the history of this area, or construction during the boom years of the 1920s.

More information can be found at:

  1. https://www.abandonedfl.com/howey-mansion/
  2. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/lake/os-lauren-ritchie-howey-mansion-restored-20180228-story.html

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Royal https://peggybest.com/royal/ https://peggybest.com/royal/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2019 23:28:19 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=4823 My visit to Royal close to the Villages, Floirida.

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I joined thirty ladies of the National Society of Daughters of the Union on a field trip to Royal, one of Florida’s oldest African American communities, fifteen minutes’ drive from The Villages, Florida. We drove up to a fenced area with an historic marker commemorating the Royal School Site.  The school no longer exists.  Structures on the ground include a beige concrete building that once housed the last school cafeteria, and now used as an enrichment and historical center. Another building contains a kitchen and a large cafeteria. Between the two buildings stands an outdoor wooden gazebo for use during picnics. Behind these structures is a playground and tennis, badminton area. Everything is well maintained and for the use of the community.

Karen Carbonneau, Regent of the Brigadier General Truman Seymour Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the Union officiated a short meeting welcoming two new members and presenting a certificate and donation to Beverly Steele, Founder of Young Performing Artists (YPAs), Inc. the corporation who owns the center.

Ben Simmons, a professional vocalist who works with YPAs, Inc., serenaded us during our lunch of baked chicken, great northern beans, perlo rice, cornbread, and 7up cake. After lunch, we returned to the beige concrete building where Steele led us into a small history room.

African American history came alive when Steele talked. She spoke about the Underground Railroad and explained an unusual quilt hanging on the wall. How did Harriet Tubman and other escaped slaves find their way through the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada? This quilt held the answer.

As Harriet or other leaders (conductors) led these slaves (passengers) following the drinking guard (the North Star) to specific safe houses (stations), signs appeared in nature or on quilts. As they passed various places, symbols sewn on this quilt told the conductor where to go. Often these quilts appeared on the window or over the porch railing. Abolitionists left food and clothing for the passengers.

Steele read the quilt to us while pointing at each block symbol: The Monkey Wrench turns the Wagon Wheel toward Canada with help from Jesus, the Carpenter, follow the Bear’s Trail through the woods. Fill your baskets with enough food and supplies to get you to the Crossroads. Once you get to the Crossroads, dig a Log Cabin in the ground. Shoofly told us to dress up in cotton and satin Bow Ties. Follow the geese and birds in the air, stay on the Drunkard’s Path. Take the sailboat across the Great Lakes to the North Star Canada.

Steele’s entertaining stories left an imprint for understanding the plight of early slaves and their struggles after freedom. Before the Civil War, escaped African men and woman and children lived with the Seminole Indians, in the Pilaklikaha or the Long Hammock areas. Many did not mix with the Indians and maintained their pure African heritage. Others did mix. These part Indian and part Negro people were labeled Mulatto. Often the white master of a plantation took one or several slaves as his, creating mixed- blooded children of White and African heritage. These children lived with the slaves but were often educated and given a little land upon the master’s death. They, too, were termed, Mulatto.

Liberated slaves had nowhere to go and no skills. They owned nothing. Most could not read nor write.  Many followed the Union soldiers and were given some food, but soon they became a burden. On January 16, 1865, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 15. This order provided 40 acres of land, confiscated from or abandoned by plantation owners, and a mule for plowing. Many slaves simply left their former homes in search of family members who had been sold, while others, marked off their 40-acre homesteads.

The assassination of President Lincoln left Johnson in charge. President Johnson and General Sherman didn’t get along, so Johnson revoked Special Field Order 15. Many Blacks who had settled elsewhere lost their land and became sharecroppers for the original plantation owners.

This community’s first settlers were former slaves from the Old Green Plantation located on the Withlacoochee River. The first settling families were the Harleys, the Andersons, and the Pickets. They marked off their forty acres with white picket fences, built log cabins and dug wells for water before plowing and planting.

Before the Civil War, the Long Hammock settlement of Blacks had first been quietly known as “Royalsville.” Had the slaves in this area been African Royalty? For a time after the war and with the influx of free slaves, Royalsville became known as Picketsville. But residents wanted their royal ancestry known, so by the late 1880s early 1890s, Picketsville, quietly, became known as Royal. The town was documented as Royal in 1880 and a post office established in 1891.

Today, Royal is a community, rather than a town. It is not part of the nearest city called Wildwood. Its population stands at 2205.  Slowly few of the present-day heirs to this land, sell. But there is a significant number of families who trace their lineage to freed slaves who were originally given the land under  Order 15.  Many families work elsewhere while maintaining their forty-acre lots. The children attend Wildwood Elementary, Middle and High Schools.

This brief outline of African American History spoke louder to me than any I had taught or learned from history textbooks. Having this community heritage center brings history alive to the people of Sumter, Marion, and Lake County. To top it off, we left this area with a small brown paper bag containing a dab of fresh homemade elderberry jelly and a freshly
baked biscuit.

 

baked biscuit.

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Ridge Live Steamers https://peggybest.com/ridge-live-steamers/ https://peggybest.com/ridge-live-steamers/#respond Wed, 03 Apr 2019 00:34:55 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=4695 The Live Steamers Railroad operated in Dundee Florida is an interesting place to visit while in the area.

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Remember the days of steam locomotives, coal smoke, distant whistles in the night, the snorting of a mighty engine pulling a heavy train out of the station? Those days are alive today… in miniature… at Ridge Live Steamers RLS in Dundee Florida. The trains are 1/8” scale, 1 ½” equals 1 foot of full-size steam engines. Most of the trains are owned by club members who keep them secured in the various warehouses on property and take them out to work and play during the year. The area is private and not open to the public. However, rail enthusiasts often come and share in the operations.

After enjoying a ride on a live steamer railroad, I spoke with Dana Bliss, vice president of the Ridge Live Steamers Club. “This operation” he said, “has evolved from the tabletop scale type of operation to a larger scale. We do the same things they do, only we actually ride our trains.”

Construction began in 1975 on property owned by an older couple named Jenks north of Auburndale, Florida. By 1982, the track was forced to move, so they built on property across from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. The first loop of track was ready by February 1983. It provided a 2,300 foot mainline, over 6,000 feet of track, 22 steaming bays, a hydraulic lift and camping hook-ups.

“It takes many hands to keep the area running. Every year, more and more people join our group. You do not have to own a train to join the RLS,” Bliss said.

The RLS helps those who are new to the hobby. “We are a 501(c) 3organization so we do allow other groups like the boy scouts to come and work with us and ride our trains. We are not an amusement park, we are a working miniature railroad.”

The weather in Florida is perfect for those who live up north and enjoy this hobby. One man from Wisconsin told me he has his own outdoor railroad up there. He keeps another engine here and works on it during the winter. “We work together, building small model houses to create something to look at while the trains run the tracks.”

The time it took for me to ride on a chair secured to a flat bed car pulled by a miniature steam engine seemed way too short. We chugged over one mile of track with working railroad signal lights and track switches, through a tunnel, over several bridges, and around an orange grove. An owl roosted in its little home in the tree looked down at me as my choo-choo passed by. He seemed to say “Wh…oo are you? Come on back ya’hear.”

www.RidgeLiveSteamers.org

 

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World War 2 Veterans History Project https://peggybest.com/world-war-2-veterans-history-project/ https://peggybest.com/world-war-2-veterans-history-project/#respond Sat, 16 Mar 2019 15:51:25 +0000 https://peggybest.com/?p=4671 Ben Mack-Jackson spoke at a DAR meeting in the villages about his project WW2veteranshistoryproject.

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Benjamin Mack-Jackson spoke at the John Bartram Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)  at Eisenhower Recreation Center in the Villages, Florida. This young man spoke eloquently about the program he began at the age of thirteen. His project is to interview as many WWII veterans as he finds and record their stories. He maintains a traveling museum of paraphernalia (medals, photos, uniforms) donated by these veterans and takes hi traveling museum primarily to schools with the goal of augmenting their knowledge of the greatest war the world has seen. For more information go to his website at ben@ww2veteranshistoryproject.com

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