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The Florida Quest - Unlock the Legacy of the Walls

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

New video relates Orange City's stories

By Bob Koslow
Staff Writer

ORANGE CITY -- Some 200 Wisconsin residents founded and built Orange City on dreams, orange groves and water, but forces outside their control nearly wiped them out.

The winter freeze of 1894-95 killed the groves and the Great Depression almost made Orange City a ghost town.

"I reminisce about the good times we had. I do that a lot. But I wouldn't go back to that era. We had some tough times too," said Elizabeth Hall, a lifelong resi dent of the city's African-American community.

Her stories and others come to life in a new Orange City history video written and produced by Ron Hurtibise, a Daytona Beach News-Journal reporter and former resident of Orange City.

The 50-minute video is similar in style to Ken Burns' award-winning documentaries about the Civil War and baseball. The format uses video cameras that move about old still photographs to bring them some life, while a storyteller adds details and folk music fuels the emotions.

"Burns showed us how to do these and the technology is more affordable and easier to get into," said Hurtibise who says he's self-taught and lists video photography as a hobby.

"I was interested in seeing whether I could merge my storytelling skills from a print viewpoint into something like this, basically on my own similar to the way you write a story. Orange City history was a good first large project to cut my teeth on."

Joe Crews, a News-Journal reporter and former radio newsman, provides the narration. Chuck Rogers, son of folk musician Gamble Rogers, contributes the original musical arrangements.

Hurtibise sharpened his video skills a few years ago while developing a five-minute promotional tape for the Albertus Cottage restoration project, headed by himself and friend and City Councilman Gary Blair. At the time, Hurtibise lived in a garage apartment be tween the cottage and the historic DeYarman building.

"I felt like I was living in the center of the city's history," said Hurtibise, who moved to Daytona Beach this summer.

The Orange City Historical Preservation Board asked Hurtibise to make the history video after seeing the cottage tape.

After 18 months in the making, the video, "Orange City Florida ... Once Upon a Time," will make its premiere Oct. 25 at a special showing at the Dickinson Memorial Library.

More than 300 photographs highlight the video. Most were found in the Orange City Library Association archives, West Volusia Historical Society and Florida photographic collection of the Florida State Archives. Several photographs are not familiar to local history buffs. Many also appear in the Village Improvement Association's history, "Our Story of Orange City." Joan LaFleur edited the most recent edition.

She also is one of a dozen residents Hurtibise interviewed and incorporated with short appearances in the video. Others include Mayor Ted Erwin, folk historian Bill Dreggors, Bill Deas, a longtime resident and lay minister, Dickinson family expert Gayle Williams, Elizabeth Hall and Carol Forrer, owner of the DeYarman building. Also appearing are former teachers and best friends Helen Brokenshire and Ohse Davis. Brokenshire died in March at 77.

The video focuses on the early years of the city, including some stories about frontier lawlessness that accompanied the railroad in a town that prided itself on providing a cultural oasis in the backwoods of Central Florida. Hurtibise touches on some social issues of the city, including illnesses and education, but the story is about people.

"I wanted to keep the story true to the history books, the official version, but present it in an interesting way," Hurtibise said.

Unlock the Legacy of the Walls