Monthly Archives: December 2013

Another Day Gone

Ocala, FL
Feb 21, 1920

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray, New Providence, NJ

My dearest Ruthy:

Another day gone, the last in this berg, for tomorrow afternoon we go to Crystal
River and try for the sportive fish. They say fish are plentiful there and we should have
some fish.

Today was as warm and pleasant as yesterday and in midday a vest was a burden.
There is no question about the climate being a great relief from the severe Northern winter.
As I size up Florida it would be a fine place to spend 6 to 9 months of the year. Outside of
meat, living is cheaper here. Fresh eggs 55 cents a dozen and chickens plentiful. Oranges
2 cents a piece and grape fruit about the same.

Am glad you received my impromptu Valentine. It suddenly occurred to me in
Jacksonville that it was Valentines Day and then I thought it would be nice to send my
sweetheart a Valentine. So I went in search of one. I never dreamed that I would find
anything so appropriate. Your letter, as an answering valentine, fully repays me and makes
me glad of the unusual thoughtfulness.

I picked up some pretty postals which will show you something of Ocala and Florida
in general. The choo-choo train is for Charlie and with it a few kisses and one of his bear
hugs.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Family History


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No, I Haven’t Found Our Bungalow Yet

Ocala, FL
Feb 20, 1920

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray

My dearest Ruthy:

Only a week since I said good bye to you and it seems most a month. Things are so
different down here that it makes it seem far away.

This has been a beautiful day. A perfect blue sky and temperature this afternoon of
76 degrees.

Staid in town this morning, had an early lunch and had a 70 mile auto ride from
noon until 7 P M, winding up at Mr Condon’s home where we had a very fine Southern

Bernie Condon is the Overland agent, and thought he had a prospect for a 2nd
hand car at “Fruitland Park,” a village about 35 miles south of here. So he decided to look
this prospect up and in order to make delivery, in case he sold the car, I and Massey
trailed along in a new Overland (I driving), so Mr Condon would have means of returning.

With the fine weather and all we had a most delightful ride. Imagine stopping at an orange
and grapefruit grove, picking and eating the ripe luscious fruit. I picked and ate a large
grape fruit and it certainly tasted good.  Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Family History


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Mountains of Love and Oceans of Kisses

1920 Saloon

Ocala, FL
Feb 19, 1920

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray

My Dearest Ruthy:

This morning dawned without rain, but it was very cloudy and a heavy fog hung
about. We had planned an auto ride to Lake Weir, but on account of the stormy aspect
and wet roads, put it off. So we hung around town until afternoon. The fog passed off and
the sun broke through and by noon the weather was well nigh perfect.

I received your Sunday letter this morning and was glad to see your familiar hand
and phrase. It brought to my features the nearest thing to a “loud smile” that I have had
since arriving. That was a most original saying of Charles and he ought to have it

From your letter and newspaper reports should judge you have had some variety of
weather since I left. As Hickson is fond of ocean trips you ought to invite him out when the
cellar is full and ask him to get a scuttle of coal.

After lunch we went to the opera house (movie theatre) and heard Colonel Bryan
talk in the interest of the Anti Saloon League. The latter is going on with necessary work
notwithstanding the Federal Amendment and needs money and Uncle Bill was helping
them raise it. I did not subscribe, not being 100 % in sympathy with the cause so I am
enclosing the card thinking you might wish to dispose of some of your surplus change in
this way.

W J B [William Jennings Bryan] had lunch here and sat at the next table from me.
Naturally I watched his table manners. I can’t criticize him very much except that he ate
hurriedly, mostly because his time was short. He seemed fond of celery and ate it with a
stalk in each hand. He drank only water.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Family History


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Like the Hollow Tree People

Ocala, FL
Feb 18, 1920

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray, New Providence, NJ

My dearest Ruthy:

This was an off day, so I haven’t much to tell you. I could write you as nice an old
fashioned love letter as I ever wrote, but I’m not going to do it, not tonight, because it is
late. I’ve been to the movies, my first evening out and it is after eleven o’clock.

We had an auto hunting trip planned for today but it rained heavily and it had to be
put off. Just sat around and like the hollow tree people, smoked, listened to and told
stories, and attended a murder trial at the court house. After supper, which I couldn’t chew
in sheer desperation, went to a movie show and saw “Lost Money,” and one episode in
“The Great Gamble” which I witnessed some months ago in Summit. As I passed into the
hotel at 11 o’clock the thermometer registered 52 degrees and the rain had stopped.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Family History


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The Price of a Cannibal Sandwich


Ocala, FL
Feb 16, 1920

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray

My dearest Ruthy:

My first full day in Ocala is over. It is 9:15 and I am ready to retire.

This was a cold day for Florida, temperature about 50 degrees. Got up about 8 A M
and around ten Mr Massey came around and we started out on our days adventures.
Nothing very exciting.

We first walked around the town calling on bankers and storekeepers that Mr M
knew. We killed time until lunch hour this way and after eating hired a Maxwell car and
drove to Silver Springs. This is one of the sights of Florida. There, you hire a guide who
takes you out in a glass bottomed boat, the water being so clear you can see the bottom at
all points you pass over. There are different holes in the springs, one being 80 to 85 feet
deep and you can see bottom just as clearly as the bottom of your own bath tub. These
holes have different names, such as “Drawing Room,” “Bridal Chamber,” Devil’s Kitchen,”
etc. The more shallow places have a carpet of reeds, or a delicate moss, but the deeper
places have a covering of flaked lime stone which glistens and shows every color of the
rainbow as it is affected by the sun overhead. You could see several varieties of fish
sporting about, one whose name the guide mentioned but which I’ve forgotten, was easily
3 feet long. At the bottom of some of the holes you could see great catfish 3 or 4 feet long,
and bass a plenty.

It was truly a wonderful sight and probably you or the children have read about the
springs in the “Book of Wonders,” or elsewhere.

The springs are about 5 miles from here and I started to drive the car back and had
proceeded about 1/8 of a mile, when Mr Maxwell sputtered and died. A hasty inspection
revealed a decided lack of gasoline. Mr Massey’s friend had given him a car with about 2
quarts of gas to start with.

Mr M started to walk back to the spring to see if he could get some of the stuff that
made John D famous(ly rich) and then I sat down to enjoy my pipe and the delightful crisp
air. Soon a Ford came into view and I gave the driver the grand hailing sign of distress. He
stopped and seeing Massey down the road said there was no gas at the springs, only
water a plenty; so I called Mr M back. Our good Samaritan then produced an old grease
can, crawled under his car and drained off about a gallon of gas. This fixed us up and we
drove back to town, in style.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Family History


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Henry Ford Would Have Wept Copious Tears

Ocala, FL
Feb 15, 1920

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray, New Providence, NJ

My own dearest Ruthy:

This is just an extra letter all for yourself.

Mr Massey and I tramped about town until 6:30. Then we went home to sup with his
mother and spend the evening. I had my evening meal alone at this Hostelry and then
stepped across the street to a 7:30 Methodist service from whence I have just returned.

The church was a great deal better filled than a Summit evening affair, but the
minister was inferior to any ever heard in New Providence, not excepting Eddie Atwood.

The text murdered was: “There is one thing thou lackest.” He couldn’t have meant
me, because there are so many things I lack, that I couldn’t begin to count them all.

The singing was good and all-in-all, I came away refreshed.

Well Dear, the one essential thing I lackest is “You.” I wish you, Jack, Edward,
Charlie and Joe were here. Then the trip would be worth while.

There are many auto tourists here. One crowd of 3 woman and one bare man
arrived in a Ford from North Carolina just when we returned from our walk. The gent
(chauffeur) looked like a typical southern colonel and then there were his wife, at least so I
sized her up, and two other’s, none under 50.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Family History


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If Any Refuse, Let Me Know!

Ocala, FL
Feb 15, 1920

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray, New Providence, NJ

My Dearest Ruthy:

The enclosed cards are a few views of this town.

Left Jacksonville at 10:20 this morning and arrived at 4 o’clock this afternoon. Mr
Massey went to his mother’s home and I have been to my room, washed up and take this
opportunity to write you. Mr M will return later, so I don’t know what the evening program
will be.

Had a good night’s sleep in Jacksonville, getting up at 8 o’clock — a good breakfast
and left at 10:20.

The morning dawned bright and clear, the air crisp enough for a light overcoat. I
heard a native remark that this was the coldest day of the winter — temperature about 50

I think the distance from Jacksonville is about 125 miles to cover, which the train
consumed 5 ½ hours — some speed!

The country passed thru was mostly barren and uninteresting, with an occasional
cultivated patch. There were several fields of good sized lettuce and cabbages, the latter
ready for use.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Family History


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