Ed Gfeller Thad Seymour John Lynn Wenxian Zhang Darla Moore Joy Dickinson
Dave Berto James T Talbert, Jr. Barbara Parsons Jack Lane Julian Chambliss Socky O'Sullivan
Early in 2014, after finishing the Langford Hotel documentary, Thaddeus Seymour suggested that I consider a film on Edwin Osgood Grover. I did not know who Grover was, and discovered that his profile in Winter Park history was quite low. There were no books on Grover. Biographies of Holt or the autobiography of John Andrew Rice only gave a limited account of Grover's life. Fortunately, the Olin Library archives had a large collection of Groveriana that mostly pertained to his activities at the college, and somewhat to Hannibal Square and Mead Botanical Garden. Wenxian Zhang and Darla Moore, at the archives, were of tremendous help to me not only in assisting me with records on Grover, but giving me the background for a better understanding of the college from the 1920s to 1940s. Barbara White at the Winter Park Public Library and Linda Kulman at the Winter Park Historical Association, were also helpful in giving me access to records of corresponding Winter Park history.
Contacting the historical societies in Grover's hometown in Maine and the various places he lived before coming to Winter Park took up much of my time. Jonathan Miller, director of the Olin library, urged me to contact Dave Berto, Rollins '56, in Santa Rosa, CA. Dave had come to Rollins in 1950 with the help of Edwin Grover, and, after graduating, remained in contact with his "guru" until Grover's death in 1965. On Labor Day 2014, Dave gave a splendid interview on Grover and their relationship in Roswell, GA.
In December 2014, when Joy Wallace Dickinson wrote a Sunday column in the Orlando Sentinel on the Langford Hotel video, she mentioned that I was now working on a Grover documentary. Through a sister who lives in Orlando, Barbara Buchanan Parsons, in Crossville, TN, heard about the project and contacted me. Barbara had grown up on Camellia Avenue, next door to the Grovers, and she spent many hours listening to Eulalie reading childrens' stories to her and her siblings. She knew the Grovers quite well, particularly Frances, Edwin's oldest daughter. In April 2015, we drove to Crossville to interview Barbara who had her unique insights into the Grover family. When Frances Grover was dissolving their household in 1970, money was an issue, and the Grovers' neighbors on Camellia helped with purchasing furniture and other items Frances and Hester would not be able to take to the retirement home in Kissimmee. It was a great surprise to walk into the Parsons' parlor in Crossville, TN, and find much of the Grover furniture in Barbara's home.
The last eyewitness of Edwin Grover I met at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Dr. James T Talbert, Jr. grew up in Hannibal Square during the WW II years. His father worked for Dr. Grover at Mead Botanical Garden as a gardener, and James often saw and talked with Dr. Grover. Grover also gave a set of encyclopedias to the Talbert family, and Dr. Talbert is convinced that without the influence of Edwin Grover, he would not have gotten an advanced education. James went to Hungerford High School in Eatonville, then Tuskeegee Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and got a Ph.D. in education from the University of Florida.
Most people assume that Mead Botanical Garden was created by Dr. Mead. However, the credit goes to Edwin Grover and Jack Connery. Finding biographical information on John Hurd Connery was equally difficult. At a Christmas party in 2014, Ernie Palmer mentioned that his family was related to the Connerys, and that his brother had a history of the Englerth family. Paul Palmer was very gracious in letting me borrow the history written by one of his aunts which contained several paragraphs on Jack Connery. I was able to interview, by phone, William Edwin Connery who now lives in Cape Coral. Edwin had lots of memories of his parents in Winter Park, and visiting Dr. Grover on Camellia.
Several members of the Rollins faculty agreed to be interviewed, above all Thaddeus Seymour, Jack Lane, Socky O'Sullivan, Julian Chambliss, Jonathan Miller, Wenxian Zhang and Kate Reich.
For Mertie Laura Graham, Edwin's wife, I received much support from the Mount Holyoke Archives. Her story is a monument to the large number of people, many of them members of the Congregational Church, who fought for education, economic betterment and equal rights for African Americans long before there was a civil rights movement. Look at Hamilton Holt: he was a founding member of the NAACP.
At Hannibal Square, I had the opportunity to interview Mary Daniels, chair of the Welbourne Avenue Nursery and Kindergarten. The nursery was founded by Mrs. Vincent, wife of the Congregational minister, and Mertie Grover, and is still very active today. Fairolyn Livingston filled me in on the history of the Hannibal Square community and it's role in Winter Park over the years. Peter Schreyer gave a comprehensive interview on the history of Hannibal Square as represented by the photographs in the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.
The Stange family recently renovated the Grover house on Osceola Avenue. They were so gracious to allow us to film an interview with Socky O'Sullivan on the porch of the Grover house where Grover probably often sat (minus traffic) enjoying the view of Lake Virginia. The house is currently for sale (May 2016).
John Lynn at GeniusDV in South Orlando, together with his talented instructors, has, for the past seven years, been teaching me the art of video production and post production editing. Any questions I have had (and there were many) he answered quickly and accurately and cheerfully. Whether it be Avid, Adobe Creative Cloud, or plain operation of my Apple devices, John usually has an answer or at least an approach to a solution within minutes. He has saved me numerous hours of attempting to contact corporate Help Desks. He is one of the producers of the documentary and has tolerated viewing preliminary versions ad nauseam.
Ed Gfeller is a retired psychiatrist who started making documentaries after 42 years of medical practice. Obtaining historical interviews is much like listening to a patient with the "third ear." You need to hear what's beyond the overt content. I used to make 8 mm movies when I was a kid. But it was too expensive. Today's technology is so fabulous: there are very few technical limitations, only artistic ones. And the technology is affordable.
Ed Gfeller 2016
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