The Haunted Bookstore, Zora, Rollins Poets (Faculty and Students) and The Angel Alley Press
When Edwin Grover moved to Winter Park in 1926, there was no bookstore in town. Students ordered their textbooks at the Rexall Pharmacy, and the pharmacist complained that they often did not pick up the books they ordered. Edwin started the "Haunted Bookstore" at the corner of New England and Park Avenue. He soon sold it
to Mr. Thompson who was in charge when Zora Neale Hurston came in and asked about a way to have her plays produced at Rollins. Thompson referred her to Edwin Grover who was happy to help with contacting Robert Wunsch, the Drama Coach. Grover also helped her get her first novel published and remained a "good angel within," as Zora put it, for years. Their correspondence on line at the University of Florida is fascinating. Zora had many supporters at Rollins, and was always welcome on campus. This at a time, when pro-segregation sentiment ran high in the city of Winter Park.
At Rollins, Grover started The Flamingo, the Rollins College Literary Supplement, a compilation of student poetry and literary commentary. He was involved with the Poetry Society, and he started the Angel Alley Press to publish items like The Rollins Songbook, Rollins poets, and his Vest Pocket Poets, 4x6 pamphlets to keep your favorite poets by your heart. In the 1700s, a Grover had a printing press in Angel Alley, off Fleet Street, in London, and Grover was convinced that he was a relative although that seems more wishful thinking.
Zora Neale Hurston
In Rollins’ Slant On Creative Writing, Grover describes the intent and content of the writing program at Rollins. It generated several well-known writers including Bucklin Moon who was one of the first white writers to write on the condition of African-Americans in Central Florida. His book Without Magnolias was in many ways a parody of the Holt years at Rollins, only in black. Holt and Grover had ample connections in the literary world and were able to bring prominent writers not only to the Animated Magazine each February, but to get them to stay and teach at Rollins. Willard Wattles, Jessie Rittenhouse, Corra Harris are examples. William Yust, the Director of the Library during much of the 30s and 40s published a booklet listing all the literary talent accumulated in Winter Park. It all started before Holt, though: Irving Bacheller was a very well known novelist who settled in Winter Park, was on the board of Rollins and brought Hamilton Holt to the college. Rex Beach was a rebellious student at Rollins who became a famous novelist and returned for the Animated Magazine on many occasions, and was President of the Alumni Association.
Ed Gfeller 2016
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