Thursday, October 22, 2009

Daddy! Just a Blip...

A few months ago, my Daddy showed me an article in a local magazine written about him. I was almost afraid to read it!

You see, my Dad is an avid political activist in Levy County and has been written about in several of the local newspapers and it is not always kind --or truthful! I was pleasantly surprised to read Ms. Rarick's article about the simple pleasures of living in a rural area.

Bronson has become a "suburb" of Gainesville. Soooo many new folks! (Most of them Yankees. LOL!) Most of the residents who lived there while I was growing up have moved or passed away. I have no idea of the actual statistics, but I would venture to guess that a huge majority of Bronson folks work in Gainesville and come to Bronson to sleep.

So many things have changed...but a few things stay the my sweet Daddy.

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Ms. Rarick a few weeks ago.  She has kindly given me permission to reprint her article for you here.  It will give you just a "blip" of a look into my dad's life.  Hope you enjoy it!

Out with the Cows
Talking with Charles W. Gilbert

By Elli Rarick

The rain held off just long enough for Charles W. Gilbert, known to many in Levy County simply as CW, to take me on a driving tour and picturesque journey of the area in and around Bronson where he has spent most of his 70 plus years.

Today, and since 1981, he and his wife Bobbie live on Oak Street. In the middle of the street just in front of the (new) house, built in 1993, is the stake that marks the center of the four-square-mile town of Bronson.

He still owns one 10 acre and one 30 acre parcel, part of the original farm, where he and his youngest son Beau run some cows and have hay to sell. Gilbert has one watermelon wagon left and uses it to take children on rides where they can throw pellets to the cows and travel into and through the "jungle" he has created on the 30 acre parcel off SR24.

Gilbert's paternal grandfather, Charles W. Gilbert, moved his family from Georgia to Newberry where his father was born in 1917. In 1924 the family moved to a house on Lake Street and south CR337 in Bronson.

His parents, Carroll W. and Mary Frances Gilbert, purchased 320 acres one mile out of town on CR337 off SR24. The original two-room house was located at what is now 9251 CR337. It was later replaced by a four room house in either 1944 or 1945 as the family grew from three to six children.

Gilbert said, "It was like a mansion to us! The boys had a bedroom and the girls had one too. It even had porches." In 1950 he recalls a storm taking the front porch off that house.

With an axe he helped to clear the land for planting that is now, in part, where the new Bronson High School sits. They planted watermelons mostly, and some corn. They had nine wagons to haul watermelons in and during the harvest would load as many as seven semi trailers a day.

Prior to 1947 there was a "no fence" law that allowed cows and hogs to run free. It was not an uncommon site to see cows and hogs wandering around town and even sleeping in parking lots. The Gilbert farm raised mostly hogs and some cows.

Gilbert remembered, "My job was to ride the horse out to wherever Daddy said. He would go to town and have coffee and find out what was going on and then come out to where I was to do the day's work."

During his later elementary school years, he told me, "My job on Thursday afternoon at 4 PM was to go and read the Bible to Mrs. Epperson."

He learned to drive in a 1939 Ford pick-up. His father served for 12 years as a county commissioner during the early 1950's and 1960's. Gilbert's mother was a school teacher in Bronson and later the principal at Otter Creek.

In 1955 Gilbert graduated from Bronson High School and in December of the same year traveled to Washington, D.C. to accept a training position in fingerprinting with the FBI. He remained there until 1958, teaching others the skill of the fingerprint identification process. It was there he met his first wife Betty. They had four children before she went home to be with the Lord, after they returned to Bronson.

Gilbert spent nearly 13 years in Tallahassee working for the FBI during which he earned a degree in Pre-Law in 1972. He worked over 3,000 cases and testified as an expert witness in fingerprint identification in over 100 cases.

When he returned to Bronson in 1972 he acquired his state general contractor's license to operate Aztec Industries in building houses. They also provided semi-loads of oak wood to barbeque restaurants in Florida and Georgia. The building (later Lee's Grocery on SR24) also housed a small engine repair shop.

He is employed by News America Marketing, a Rupert Murdock company, where he visits such area stores as CVS, Walgreen's, Dollar General, Hitchcock's and Winn Dixie monthly. He stated, "I do the stores because of the people I am apt to run into from the past."

On August 22nd Gilbert was among a group of past presidents (1969) of the Florida Division of the International Association for Identification being honored in Tampa for 50 years of service. He was part of the first organizational meeting in October 1959.

He and Bobbie, married 30 years, have a blended family made up of his three sons and one daughter; her daughter; their son and daughter and a total of 14 grandchildren.

In closing, Gilbert said, "I love being out with the cows."

Reprinted with permission from the author and 
In The Field, Marion's Agriculture Magazine
September Issue, Volume 2, Issue 9

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Interruption?



Okay, I guess I really don't have to interrupt because I'm the one who decides what to put on here in the first place!  How cool is that?
Actually, I was in the middle of posting my Illinois pictures before I was so rudely interrupted by LIFE!

So much has happened since my last post, I guess I need to slow down and catch my breath.  To begin with, September is such a busy month for us anyway; we have umpteen volleyball games, Bex is in school, we have our annual G-Girls weekend at the beach, various church activities and corporate taxes are due!  These are normal.  Add to that a special weekend for me attending a Beth Moore conference in Orlando with friends, Bex heading to Camp Charis for a teen weekend and then our whole family enjoying a day at Camp Charis for Family Fun Day...whew! all adds up to a very busy September.

But that was September.  Now we're knee-deep into October and the "busy" continues!  As September came to a close, the end of volleyball season loomed heavy in front us.  After playing for Maranatha Christian School for six years, Bex (and me!) looked forward to her Senior season with a mixture of anticipation and dread.  Anticipation for a wonderful season...and dread for the end of her final season playing the sport we both love so much.

This volleyball year has been filled with drama!  As school-time rolled around several of our team's players left for different schools, leaving the team with huge holes to fill.  After practicing/playing/camping with one group of girls all summer, the actual TEAM looks quite different for the season.

This year, our Senior starters include Bex (of course) and Emily.  Both have played for MCS since 7th grade as homeschoolers.  Valerie, who attends MCS has played, but never been a starter.  We have two Junior players -- Sarah is a homeschooler that came back to play with us this year after having to play elsewhere because of a conference rule that limits the number of homeschoolers on a team.  Jackie, is a MCS student who's been on the team for a lot of years.  LaTisha, a Sophomore, is a new MCS student and pretty new to volleyball also.  Kelly is our lone Freshman this year and new to volleyball.  Then we get down to Savana, (Cha-Cha) our 8th grade veteran player (Sarah's sister) who can't play any conference games because of that silly conference rule limiting homeschoolers.  Thankfully, she does get to play in our non-conference games and is a huge asset to the team just because of her encouraging spirit!  We were so limited on eligible players, our coach promoted two 7th graders to Varsity.  Cherelle and Emma had only played one year of JV so there has been a HUGE learning curve for them.  There you have it, an eclectic group of girls thrown together as a volleyball team...but what a TEAM they have become!

After getting off to a shaky start with girls playing new and unfamiliar defensive and offensive positions, and for some of them learning how to play REAL volleyball rather than the "bump ball" version, it's been quite a season.

This picture shows Bex "setting" the ball.  This was so far out of her comfort zone this year.  She is usually an Outside Hitter and LOVES hitting!  But this year, everyone had to make changes and adjustments.  I was proud that she worked so hard to learn this new position.  She still got plenty of chances to hit, too!

As we head into our final weekend of volleyball season, our record stands at 18-0 in regular season and tournament play.  We've knocked off each and every team in our conference, as well as, three big high schools here in Tallytown.  Our girls have worked so hard to accomplish this.

Our conference, Panhandle Christian Conference, stretches north from Florida, to Bainbridge, Georgia and Dothan, Alabama -- then west through Panama City and Pensacola, Florida  nearly to Mobile, Alabama.  It is divided up into two regions -- East and West.  Last weekend, we traveled to Panama City, FL for the East Regional Conference Championship.  The five schools (with teams this year) battled it out to be the East Regional Champions.  The top two finalists go on to another tournament (which is THIS weekend) called the Final Four.  There the top two teams from the East and the West play to decide the full Conference Champions.

Last weekend, our girls easily won the East Regional Tournament.  Here's a picture of our team after the game with our two coaches, Ginny and Rachel.

16-Cherelle, 12-Emma, 22-LaTisha, 13-Sarah, 8-Emily, 21-Bex, 23-Kelly, Savana, 3-Valerie.  Remember, Savana can't play in conference games :(  so she isn't in her uniform.  She cheers everyone on anyway!  Jackie (6) is the one down with the trophy.

Before the tournament, all the coaches vote to determine the best players in the conference for the All-Conference Team.  From MCS, Bex, Emily and Sarah were voted 1st Team All-Conference and Jackie was voted to the 2nd Team All-Conference!

After the championship game, a Most Valuable Player for the tournament is named.  This usually goes to a "tall girl."  That's just the way it is.  


This year, the Most Valuable Player trophy was awarded to a 5'5" Senior....


And, yes... Mom and Dad are so proud!!!  She plays her heart out each and every game and I was so thrilled for her to receive some recognition for her efforts.

Our last regular season game was against Godby High School here in Tallytown.  This is a big, public high school right down the road from MCS.  This is the first year they have agreed to play us.  Since this was the last home game of the season, it was dubbed "Senior Night."   All three of our seniors were recognized with team signed volleyballs, special t-shirts, roses and a framed picture of them playing.  It was a sweet time.  I cried.

As official scorekeeper, I'm considered part of the officiating team.  This means I'm supposed to be unbiased and QUIET during the games.  I've learned how to be somewhat quiet and somewhat unbiased.  But it is HARD!  Believe me, it is HARD!  Since it was our last game, the chief referee (who I've become good friends with over the years) turned around to me and whispered, "If you want to cheer tonight -- I'm not listening."  He was so sweet, he kept turning around between plays and telling me "Did you give her that Ace?  Did you give her that Kill?"  He was referring to my favorite, #21, of course.

So, this weekend we are headed to Pensacola for the Final Four Tournament.  We're excited, but also dread the ending of our sweet season.  Normally, when a team has such a great record, we finish our season by participating in the NACA National Volleyball Tournament in Dayton, TN where Christian school teams from all over the country come to compete.  Remember I mentioned earlier that the year has been filled with "drama?"  (Since this is a memoir for Bex, I can't NOT mention the drama...but I will keep it short and sweet.)  Well, part of the drama included the church Pastor canceling several of our games, our coach resigning under duress from the administration, and our being told that Nationals was NOT going to be in our future.  But despite these trials, our girls have kept their head and finished their season with much poise and focus.

The end of the season is bittersweet for me, as well.  I've been the Team Mom, Team Scorekeeper and traveled with the team for the past four years.  I love these girls and I love the game.  So MY sporting life is over along with Bex's.  But despite all this, I'm looking forward to the new chapters unfolding in my sweet Bex's life.  I can't wait to see what God has planned for her (AND me)!

Stay Tuned with me!