Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sun Columnist's Work Now in a Book

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sun Columnist's Work Now in a Book

Article excerpt


Dorothy Fletcher remembers the stories her father used to tell her before Alzheimer's robbed him of his memory.

"By the time I realized what was going on, it was too late," she said. "He couldn't tell them anymore."

Now the retired English teacher is telling her own stories - in written form - and filtered through the lens of Jacksonville residents who lived them.

She began a monthly "By the Wayside" column for the Sun community news section of the Times-Union in spring of 2008, focusing on the 1950s, '60s and '70s. They have been collected in a book, "Remembering Jacksonville," published by History Press in January.

Recently, Fletcher discussed her book and its columns at the Mandarin Community Club in an event sponsored by the club and the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society. She also spoke at Lakewood Presbyterian Church, which she attends and sings in the choir.

"I'm really pleased by how many people are moved by these stories," the 59-year-old said. "They want to tell me their perceptions of when they went to the drive-in or the Beatles concert."

One of her favorite columns, written too late for the book's deadline, talks about Miss Chic, the Jacksonville Zoo's famed elephant named for St. Elmo "Chic" Acosta, the politician for whom the bridge is named. Penny and nickel donations from Jacksonville children helped pay for the elephant.

A Madison, Wis., native, Fletcher moved to Jacksonville via Illinois when she was 7. She was shocked at how cold it was.

"We had been told it would be so nice and warm, and we nearly froze during that first winter," she said. "The Realtor said we wouldn't need a heater, but it was the great snow of 1958, and we were so unhappy."

That soon changed as the weather warmed.

She attended Kings Trail Elementary School, then known as School 203 and later called South San Jose. …

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