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Growing up in Orange City

by Bill Crippen

Bill Crippen


Bill Crippen is a DeLand native who has always been interested in history. He used to walk the shell roads in front of his house to look for arrowheads when he was young. Bill has been to Stonehenge, Avesbury, Glastonbury, Teotihuacan, but remains enchanted with our local history. He is an active member of the West Volusia Historical Society. He enjoys collecting old bottles, old books, antique hand tools, and Maxfield Parrish prints. He is a raconteur, and loves performing in the annual cemetery walk for the West Volusia Historical society, which he’s done since 2000. He has portrayed many of our famous pioneers and colorful figures in west Volusia county.

When I was a boy, I was always amazed when the orange trees bloomed in the springtime…the smell of those sweet blossoms were everywhere, and the anticipation of the juicy fruit that was to come made me impatient for the ripening and harvesting of the citrus trees.

Oranges of all kinds, tangerines, red grapefruit, navels, would soon be ripe, and for sale at roadside stands that sprung up everywhere.

With the orange blossoms came the honeybees that harvested the nectar from the trees and gave us the smooth, delicious orange blossom honey that we would have on hot buttered biscuits at breakfast.

In the summertime, we would go to Blue Spring to swim in the heat of the day, diving into the cold, clear water and shivering, having the greatest time until our parents would call us out of that freezing, refreshing water to eat our lunch.

Dessert would likely be a chilled watermelon that we had put in the water on the sandy bottom near the dock when we had arrived at the spring.  Just the merest touch of a knife made it burst open, and we would sit on the edge of the dock in our swimsuits, getting the juice from the melons all over us,  and spit watermelon seeds into the water to see if the fish would eat them.

We could see fish of all kinds – bass, bream, alligator gar, perch, seemingly suspended in the clear water of the spring run, and, of course, the manatees.  They were huge slow animals, aptly named sea cows, as they meandered ever so slowly through the run, grazing on the water plants.

The orange trees are largely gone, but Blue Spring, the St. Johns River, and the manatees are still there, and the country is beautiful.

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