My memories of growing up in DeLand during the 1930s are varied and pleasant.
While riding our bikes one day, my brother and I observed an old two-story frame dwelling situated back in an orange grove off north Blue Avenue. It was across the street from what now is Blue Lake Elementary School.
The house had been abandoned for many years. The doors were open and several windows were broken, thus beckoning us to further investigate.
In our opinion, this was the ideal haunted house, and — with a few alterations — we were ready to present our findings to our group of fellow juvenile delinquents.
The only furnishing found in the house was an old rocking chair in one of the upstairs bedrooms. By attaching a string to this chair, it could be rocked from a closet, which also hid my brother, who was equipped with an axe whose blade had been dipped in red paint.
Our group frequently met at Oostsdam’s Grocery at the corner of East New York Avenue and Talmadge Gardens Road for RC Colas and Moon Pies.
When we revealed our discovery, one very vocal member of our group, Bobo, shouted, “There ain’t no such thing as a haunted house!”
We invited Bobo and others to meet with us at the house the next day. Bobo entered ahead of me, again shouting, “There ain’t no such thing as a haunted house!”
He repeated this phase as we climbed the stairs. When we reached the final bedroom, he opened the door to find an unoccupied rocking chair rocking away, and after further examination he saw a bloody axe moving from the closet door!
With that, Bobo took off down the stairs four steps at a time, and flew out the back door, through a rotten screen — which left a perfect imprint of Bobo’s body — and out into the grove!
lt was two weeks before any one saw Bobo.
The end of summer ushered in another school year. This year was to be much different than the year before.
l rode the school bus, only to find that the old two-story, wood frame junior high school, along with the separate band hall, had been replaced by a brand-new two-story brick building with an attached band hall.
Along with the new facility came new responsibilities: pick up your class schedule, find where your various teachers’ classrooms were located, and try not to be tardy.
The first day was traumatic! l had located all but one teacher when I spied a familiar face. lt was my fifth-grade teacher from Boston Avenue School, standing in the hall directing students to her room.
l ran to her, begging for directions to Mrs. Jones’ room. Without batting an eye, she uttered the words “smart aleck,” and shoved me into her room.
When I reported this instance to Mom, she promptly advised that my former teacher had divorced over the year and had remarried this summer. She was now Mrs. Jones. Back then, there was very little conversation about divorces.
The school bus was great, with one exception, the bus driver.
Mr. McKenzie had very strict rules about talking, from the time you stepped on the bus until you departed; however, on Fridays he would announce, “Talk if you wish but leave the roof on!”
A pretty little girl named Peggy Harris (Kazmierczak) can verify this practice.
— Heard is the retired owner of Dick Heard Insurance and Real Estate Inc. He has been married 69 years to the former Jean Alexander, and they have one daughter and two sons. Dick Heard’s civic involvement included serving as chairman of the West Volusia Hospital Authority, president of the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce, president of the West Volusia Board of Realtors, and a director of First Community Bank.