HISTORY OF ZEPHYRHILLS HIGH SCHOOL
Highlights of 1948Events of the Year. 1947-48 was a year of improvements for the Zephyrhills High School. First off the bat was the organization of the Quarterback Club, headed by Mr. G.C. Rosenvold and Mr. W. D. Skinner. Their first project was a lighted football stadium. Mr. I. A. Krusen donated all equipment for building the field. Next in line was the new annex to the ZHS building for the third through sixth grades. The new basketball court was the next of the many improvements made to the campus during the year. Then came the smash hits of the year, the Senior class play, Brother Goose, presented January 29th, and the junior class play, He Couldn't Marry Five, presented March 15th. Both were hilarious comedies. The Seniors presented as their gift to the school an opaque projector to be used for visual education.
1948 Football team.Coach, Cappola; 1st row: Hinsz, Craig, LeHeup, Douglas, McGinnis, Tyre, Bright; 2nd row: Bodenburg, Rosenvold, Bohannon, Wells, England, Gore, Cherry, Adkinson; 3rd row: Hill, Cherry, Richards, Ryals, Jenkins, Nevins, Hail, and Manager Sommers.
Student Council at ZH High Has Ambitious Plans, Zephyrhills News, September 17, 1948
Action not words is the objective of the Student Council at Zephyrhills high school this year.
Organized during midterm last year, the Council succeeded in getting a number of small but mostly unimportant things done.
This year Principal L.R. Luckenbach has announced a number of undertakings for the Council such as painting the auditorium of dressing room, etc. and their results will be announced at a later date.
The Student Council is an organization of the students which oversees the student body and strives for improvement of the school.
Also recently becoming active are the Junior and Senior Classes. The Senior Class is already underway in the production of the yearbook, Zephilsco and their class play which will be given before January. Still indefinite are plans to attend the homecoming game of the University of Florida at Jacksonville in November and a trip to Washington, D.C. over the Christmas holidays.
The Junior Class has elected officers and is busy scheming ways to make money. The juniors cannot give the class play until after the first of the year.
Floridians to Vote on Four For President: Wallace, Thurmond, Dewey and Truman to Be On Ballot
17 Graduates Given Diplomas at Z.H.S., Zephyrhills News, Friday, June 11, 1948
Seventeen graduating Seniors received their diplomas in graduating exercises held in the high school auditorium last Monday night, June 7th. The speaker was Mr. Vincent McGuire, former high school teacher and coach and present Senior Class advisor at the P.K. Young Laboratory school in Gainesville.
The Rev. S.S. Mathis delivered the Invocation and Principal. L.R. Luckenbach was master of ceremonies.
Miss Betty Jo Turner was given the Valedictorian honor and Fred Gore the Salutatorian honor. Miss Turner delivered a very impressive Valedictory talk, “Our Heritage,” and Fred Gore gave the Salutatory message, “Public Service.” Other Seniors receiving honors were Joan Steve who was given a medal for outstanding citizenship by the D.A.R. Miss Steve also received the girls’ American Legion Award given for high standards. Jack Green was presented the boy’s Legion Award. James Burgess was given a certificate for perfect attendance.
Honor students were Jayne Kerr, June Lashley, Joan Steve, Norma Gregory, and Connie Palmer.
The long awaited diplomas were presented by Mr. I.A. Krusen, County Trustee Chairman. Fred LeHeup, Senior Class president, presented the Senior give to John Bryant, Student Council President and gifts to Mrs. Mack Matthews, Senior sponsor, Mrs. Atwater, Mr.Luckenback, and to Mr. Brooks, who directs the graduation chorus. Seniors who received diplomas were as follows: Jayne Kerr, Joan Steve, Jane Smith, Norma Gregory, Connie Palmer, Ellen Massey, June Lashley, Betty Jo Turner, Dick King, Bill Eiland, Richard Rosenvold, James Burgess, Fred Gore, Jack Green, Fred LeHeup, George Smith and Pauline Anderson.
Graduation Chorus of 1948: The Graduation Chorus, which sang at baccalaureate and graduation was trained and directed by Mr. M.S. Brooks. Mr. Brooks delayed his return to the north just so he could direct this group for the Seniors.
The chorus consisted of the following high school students: Joyce Baker, Audry Bodenburg, Patsy Doyle, Agnes Forbis, Joan Johnson, Evelyn Leach, Roberta Leeson, Shirley Leeson, Jaynell LeHeup, Marjorie Lott, Jean McGavern, Julia Pracher, Nancy Skinner, Elizabeth Stevenson, Dorothy Wetherington, Jerry Bodenburg, Howard Cherry, Robert Clardy, Woody Clark, Malvin Hinsz, Jack Lamb, William Tilly, Alton Tyre and Earl Wells.
Nostalgia, New Stadium on ZHS Alumni Program Sunday, Zephyrhills News, June 22, 1978, by Beverly McNeese
There will be more than a bit of nostalgia and reminiscing Sunday when the Zephyrhills High School Alumni and Friends gather again at the Community Center at Zephyr Park. There will be a business meeting in which Zephyrhills Chief of Police Bill Eiland of the Class of 1948 and a member of the board of directors of the Stadium Committee for the new ZHS will speak on the stadium project.
Zephyrhills News, July 30, 1977
Another enjoyable and successful Zephyrhills High School Alumni and Friends Reunion was held at the Zephyr Park Community Center.
John T.V. Clark, in answer to a former student, stated that he started the ZHS Band in 1948 with 18 or 20 students and now has 220 band students a day with 70 in Middle School Band.
Freshmen, 1948. 1st row: Rex Gilbreath, Thelma McKee, Mary Stephenson, Carrie Lou Parttridge, Pat Doyle, Barbara Corby, Marjorie Lott, Beverly Luke, Martha Keller, Edna Rainey, Leroy Hegadore; 2nd row: Nelda Cook, Betty J. Sullivan, Joyce Baker, Hilda Nesbit, Mary Greene, Marilyn McClelland, Nancy Wasner, Helene Rexroad, Cynthia Hinsz, Mary Ann Vestal, Elizabeth Bryant; 3rd row: Harry Wheeler, James Richards, Billy Marshal, J.D. Hayward, Dwight Ryals, John Gardner, Jo Sutorus, Glen Davis, John Ferguson, James Ferguson, James Long. Those not pictured: Barbara Sabin, Coralina Newsome, Jack Lamb, Norma King, Walter Hill, Mildred Hill, Frederick Dexter, Betty Bohannon
ZHS Alumni Boost Stadium Fund, Zephyrhills News, June 9, 1978
A large, enthusiastic crowd of home-towners, out-of-towners, and guests picnicked at the 9th annual reunion of the ZHS Alumni and Friends….gathering before noon at the Zephyr Park Community Center, first-comers set up tables, food and drinks, directed by a planning committee that had established an agenda and had worked long hours on planning the event. They included Mr. and Mrs. Jack Greene and Mrs. Ray (Anna Greene) Farmer, secretary of the ZHS Alumni and Friends and a member of the Class of 1954. Her brother, Jack from the class of 1948, and his wife, the former Lillian Mae Kress, class of 1950, were assisted by other members of their family and friends.
Parade Grand Marshall has many honors, Zephyrhills News, March 8, 2007, by Gary S. Hatrick
If it hadn’t been for an arm injury, the name Johnny Clements may have been as well-known to baseball fans as Hall of Famer Bob Feller. That’s what the Sporting News said of this years’ Founder’s Day Parade Grand Marshall back in the day when he was up and coming pro ball player.
While a jump over a shortstop on the way to second base put an end to hopes for the big time and national fame, Clements has a notoriety for which many so-called legends could only hope.
From 1948 until 1983, “Coach Clements” as many know him influenced the lives of Zephyrhills students as Zephyrhills High School coach and athletic director and taught American History until he retired from that position in 1972 and then as the drivers’ education teacher until he retired from that post in 1983. (Although they prevailed upon him to teach drivers’ education each year for four more years after he retired, he laughs).
Newcomers to Zephyrhills may know his name from the field that bears his name, “The John F. Clements Field,” on County Road 54 East, home field of the Zephyrhills Bulldogs baseball team.
Clements was born to a poor family, January 20, 1920 in Baxley, Ga. At the age of 5, his father passed away and his family moved to Bunnell, Florida.
The young Clements always liked sports. He admits he wasn’t much on the books in those days, but he was a good pitcher. So good that the St. Louis Cardinals farm teams took notice of him and would pay him $5 to pitch for the team at batting practice.
“They got wind of me, that I could throw the ball hard,” Clements said.
Jumping at the chance, Clements would skip school and take a bus to Daytona Beach and pitch. With his five-spot he could see a movie, get a steak dinner and take the bus home with a few cents left in his pocket. At the age of 15, he signed on with the farm team, but later was released because he was not old enough to be under contract.
Skipping school took its tool on Clements educational career, however, and he failed the 10th grade. As a result, he could not play basketball. It appears the only thing to do was study. It was then that the student athlete began hitting the books.
Clements was not just baseball player, he was also skilled in football and basketball. He earned a football scholarship to the University of Tampa and lettered in all three sports for three years. He was selected as the 17th athlete to be inducted into the UT Hall of Fame.
In football, Clements said that he could kick a ball right of left-footed and that he could kick a ball 100-yards with the roll after it landed.
When World War II came along, Clements enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he became combat conditioner and later a classification officer in the F-4U Fighter Squadron.
All the while baseball was in his life. It is not possible for this piece to chronicle all the games and all the places he played. As a summary, let’s just say that before the war a scout named Johnny Nee was looking at him for the New York Yankees, after the war Nee has switched jobs and looked him up recruiting him for the Philadelphia Phillies.
There were trades and changes during which he had the fall that shattered the bone in his elbow. He was still a good pitcher, but the handwriting was on the wall, Clements said. In 1948, he was traded and played with the Tampa Smokers.
That was also the year Clements took the job at ZHS and moved to Zephyrhills.
Throughout his career Clements achieved many distinctions. He was as senior class sponsor for 20 years and took kids on field trips as part of his position as an American History and Government teacher. In 1952, Clements organized Zephyrhills’ first Little League beginning with six teams. In 1957 he was named Pasco County Teacher of the Year. He was president of the west Coast Athletic Conference for two years and president of the Tampa Bay Athletic Conference for one year and in 1973 was one of three Florida high school coaches to receive a lifetime membership in the Florida High School Coaches Association. One of his greatest honors came when ZHS dedicated the home field in his name. The field was dedicated February 18, 1984, with much fanfare and more than 400 in attendance to the man who had a 418-154 winning record.
In 1988 his record was recognized by the FHSCA with a plaque for being only one of five high school coaches in the U.S. with a winning record of more than 400 games. Clements coached the American Legion Post 118 baseball team for 14 years, directed the Zephyrhills Summer Recreation program for 23 years, and operated the old Zephyrhills Municipal Pool along with his wife, Beanie, for 15 years. In 1984, Clements was presented with a trophy from the Pasco County Concourse for having done the most for youth in the county. Is there any doubt why?
He has also been an active member of the Rotary Club of Zephyrhills for more than 30 years having served as president and treasurer of the club and has a plaque for 30 years of perfect attendance.
Men must be impressed but ladies, listen to this: “I have lived a full life, Clements said. “I have had it all, but one of the greatest things that happened to me was my wife when she agreed to marry me.” Clements and Beanie were married August 14, 1943 and are approaching their 64th wedding anniversary. The Clements have two children, John II and Diane and have two grandchildren, Johnny III who is a Verizon employee living here in Zephyrhills and Kim McGavern who is a West Point graduate and a civilian expert on the Patriot missile and a linguist.
Clements is a personable man with a quick smile and genuine humility. He laments that all the time he is talking about himself that he is bragging and that he need to make sure he expresses gratitude for those who helped him when he was a poor child growing up. I’m sure there are many students here and around the world that would say the same of Coach Clements!
Dairyman Retires, St. Petersburg Times, July 12, 2004
The past clashes with the future along the eastern vista of Gore's Dairy.
Old Florida rubs shoulders with new development. Urban life encircles rural on the north end of a booming Zephyrhills.
Change raps on the door of the status quo. The dairy, which still coaxes milk from 1,500 cows each day, will shut down its machines and sell off its herd one day soon. Development is all around, and it's inching toward this rolling farm, which is under contract with home and shopping center builders. But it took new environmental rules to finally do what decades of backbreaking labor, animal disease and even previous offers from developers could not: shutter the dairy. New permits, never required in the past, plus an order to slash the number of cows added up to a fiscal no-brainer. Closing down made more sense than complying. Now the end is near. At the north end of the property, trucks haul in loads of clay-dirt dozens of times a day from construction sites across U.S. 301. The soil is raising the level of the land that fronts the highway, the better for shoppers to access future retail stores. To the south, the dairy still hums along as it has since its 74- year-old president, Fred Gore, first tugged udders every day before dawn. Gore was 14 when his father moved the family from Dover, in Hillsborough County, to the roughly 60-acre dairy surrounded by orange groves. They owned 18 cows.
Gore said he would wake up each day about 3 or 4 a.m., milk cows and drive delivery routes until it was time to go to school. Afterward, he would come home and milk some more. In such a small, close-knit community, police would look the other way when the unlicensed teenager drove his delivery truck. At first Gore delivered only in Zephyrhills, which had one stoplight at U.S. 301 and Fifth Avenue. Then his route expanded to Dade City and after that to Lacoochee. "Life was a lot simpler then," said Gore, a friendly faced gentleman with white-blond hair and a throaty, Southern voice.
Farm life didn't let go of Gore for long. He graduated from Zephyrhills High School, attended college in North Carolina and joined the Navy during the Korean War. But he was injured during flight training in Pensacola and never went overseas.
After a short stint as an insurance adjuster in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Gore ended up back on the family farm in 1955.
"You grow up in something, I guess," he said. "Your dad's a baker, you learn to bake."
By that time, the dairy owned 175 cows, milked by machines.
Over the next several years, the business saw a period of rapid growth and change. It acquired the cows from the prep school at Saint Leo, then supplied milk to the school. A modern "milking parlor" was added in 1957. Gore bought up other dairies in the state and owned land in Leesburg where he grew crops for feed. The company incorporated in 1960, and Gore became president in 1965.
He was the obvious choice to take it over. His brother, John Floyd Gore, who died last year, followed the musician's path and played for years with country singer Mel Tillis.
"He decided he wanted to blow the horn rather than working on the farm," Gore said.
The dairyman's life, Gore concedes, is not for everyone.
"The dairy business is not easy," he said. "Not many people want to work on a dairy farm."
The hardships are unforgiving: disease, fluctuating markets, long hours and hard, dirty work.
Problems often come unannounced.
Gore said the dairy has only missed one milking, when Hurricane Donna swept through in 1960 and knocked out power.
The cows, accustomed to being milked three times a day, went unmilked for a day and a half. Some developed mastitis, an inflammation of the udders, and died.
"It was not pretty," Gore said.
Soon after, the dairy was equipped with generators.
In the early 1970s a mysterious illness infected the herd. It turned out to be an unknown villain, a disease called mycoplasma.
"I'd never heard of it, didn't know what it was," Gore said.
About 200 cows were infected, spoiling their milk, and many had to be slaughtered. Gore sold them for meat but still took a hefty loss.
Gore is a salt-of-the-earth farmer who knows his animals and their habits.
"Cows do not like hot weather. They have on leather jackets with fur," he explains, adding that their milk production drops by 25 percent during the summer.
But sitting in front of his laptop computer, he proves he is well- versed in the business side of things. He monitors the price of milk on the Chicago exchange and explains how supply and demand, competition and the price of feed drive his livelihood.
It was Gore the businessman who decided when enough was enough.
He said state Department of Environmental Protection rules implemented in 1997 would have required him to obtain an industrial wastewater permit and cut his herd back to 1,300 cows. He crunched the numbers and came up with a compliance cost of $1-million.
"It just doesn't make financial sense," he said.
Per an agreement signed in February, the dairy will cease operations no later than Dec. 30, 2006.
"That's the drop-dead date," Gore said. "Hopefully this place will be sold by then."
The dairy property - 300 acres of prime real estate along a major highway - is under contract with developer Bob Starnes.
The price has not been disclosed.
It's directly across from the city's major shopping destination - a Wal-Mart Supercenter that opened in 2001.
Starnes said 230 acres will be developed into a residential community for active seniors, with clubhouses, pools and other recreation. The 60 acres along U.S. 301 will become a mixture of offices, stores and restaurants.
No contracts have been signed, Starnes said, but he has fielded inquiries from fast-food chains, upscale restaurants and some "big- box" retailers.
But it will probably be at least a year before the tractors and construction crews move in. Gore needs six months notice to sell his cows, dismantle the buildings and empty the ponds on the dairy. Starnes said he is waiting for the property to be annexed into the city, a process the Zephyrhills City Council already has set into motion.
Starnes said he realizes he is dealing with a local institution, albeit one whose relationship with its neighbors is mixed.
The sentiment he's heard around town about Gore's Dairy: "It's been good but it smells."
Gore came close to selling in the past. The Lowe's home improvement store going up on the west side of U.S. 301 almost found a home at the dairy.
"We've had offers, but we were making money most of the time," he said.
Nostalgia creeps into the conversation when Gore talks about selling and moving on. He's an Old Florida holdover who recalls drinking milkshakes at drugstore counters and trips to the beach when the coast was undeveloped and the gulf water was clear enough to see the bottom.
He played tailback for Zephyrhills High School, when his dad let him escape the dairy, on a feeble team whose coach had lettered not in football but in shuffleboard.
"It was a fun time," Gore said. "We didn't win but one or two games."
But the sentimental side of Gore seems dominated by the steely, practical side. He views change and growth as inevitable, and he is not keen on watching it happen. He is selling every acre of his land without retaining a stake in what happens to it.
"Whatever the buyer wants to do with it, it's his," he said.
He'll miss seeing the birds, gators and turtles that hang around the dairy, but he won't miss the crush of urban sprawl.
"I don't want to sit here and watch all these little houses pop up all around," he said. And Gore has about had his fill of life on the dairy, especially as the government's grip on him tightens.
"I'm getting tired of it. There's so many regulations now."
But he hasn't lost his appreciation for a hard day's work, for riding a tractor over the fields, then looking back to see what he accomplished.
And, frankly, he'll miss the cows. They were one of his favorite parts of the job.
"When I was closer to the cows, it was seeing a nice, healthy cow that was a good producer," he said. "Cows are interesting. They each have their own personality.
"Now they're a number and they've got a computer chip on them."
That's how things have changed for this lifelong dairyman. That's why he's moving on.
He'll go sport fishing in the Bahamas; spend time at his house in North Carolina. He plans to keep up his feed business and possibly buy property outside Pasco to grow berries.
"You got to do something," he said.
Gore's Dairy is one of the last in Pasco, an increasingly suburban county. After it closes, where's the milk going to come from?
"(Dairies) will keep moving a little further north," he said. "It always comes down to money, if you can make a living at it."
Gore is anticipating a good year. He said prices are up, unlike last year when they hit 1977 levels and many dairies had to cut back or fold.
But it will probably be his last. And he won't stick around to see what becomes of his family's land. He's not wondering what fancy restaurant the developer can lure, or what kind of homes populate the senior community.
That means no watching the sun set from the pool deck of his home on the back side of the property.
"It used to go down over the grove. You get a shaft of light on the pond. I'll miss that," he said. "Of course, now it's setting over Wal-Mart."
Alumni Reunion Draws 70 ZHS Grads for Talk on Old Days, Zephyrhills News, June 28, 1973, by Jaynell LeHeup
A very congenial group of 70 persons, alumni of Zephyrhills High School, families and friends met Sunday afternoon in the “Common” Room of the Bank of Zephyrhills for the annual “Summer Homecoming” and ZHS Alumni Association Reunion……..
The retiring vice president, Jack Greene, Class of 1948, Zephyrhills and his wife, the former Lillian Kress, class of 1950, were given a vote of thanks.
Alumni and Friends Reunion Set June 24, Zephyrhills News, 1984
The Zephyrhills High School Alumni and Friends Annual Reunion held the last Sunday of June each year will meet this year on Sunday, June 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Zephyrhills Municipal Auditorium in downtown Zephyrhills.
The ZHS Class of 1948 is now most prominent in the reunion with three of the four officers hailing from that class, including the President and former Vice President and Treasurer, W.R. Bill Eiland; Secretary, Mrs. Betty Jo Turner Hyder; also a former secretary, Mrs. Helen Payne Tibbs, a longtime ZHS friend, is this year’s treasurer.
ZHS Faithful Attend Reunion, Zephyrhills News, July 5, 1990
Over 300 ZHS Alumni and Friends attended the 21st annual reunion which was held June 24 at the Zephyrhills Lions Club on Dead Dairy Road. President Cecil McGavern Jr. gave a welcome and announced the ZHS ROTC Color Guard to present the flag for the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of God Bless America.
…Special class years were noted….all were given a certificate and carnations which were donated by Betty Jo Turner Hyder of Marion Smith Florist. Plaques were presented to Joan Cook Lane for outstanding alumnus and Helen P. Tibbs for outstanding service to the organization.
Newest Guidance Counselor Was 1948 ZHS Valedictorian, Zephyrhills News, September 20, 1973
Joining the faculty of Zephyrhills High School this week as junior high guidance counselor is Mrs. Betty Jo Hyder, who in 1948 was Valedictorian of her graduating class at ZHS.
A native of Zephyrhills—daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Jake Turner—whose closest relative here now is an aunt, Mrs. T.F. (Gladys) Smith, Mrs. Hyder earned her master’s degree in the area of educational counseling at California State University at Fullerton in 1972.
Mrs. Hyder attended University of Florida and earned her bachelor of science degree in physical education at Florida Southern College in 1957. During these years she taught physical education at ZHS in the 1955-56 and the 1956-57 years.
The new guidance counselor—who succeeds Elmo Collins (who has moved into a job at the county level as career education coordinator)—taught in Arizona and for seven years in California, mostly in junior high physical education but with an occasional science class.
She is residing at 222 Fairview Heights Road, and has two children, a son, Doug Brooks, a resident here the past several years; and a daughter, Jo Ann Hyder, who is in the ninth grade at ZHS.
ZHS Alumni and Friends Reunion Honors Classes of 1930 and 1955, Zephyrhills News, July 3, 1980, by Jaynell LeHeup
Each year it gets bigger and better—that is the general consensus about the ZHS Alumni and Friends Reunion! The 1980 Reunion was Sunday at the Community Center, Zephyr Park. There wasn’t just a full house—there was such an overflowing crowd that it was voted to try to obtain the larger Municipal Auditorium for the 1981 Reunion.
---A lovely floral centerpiece was awarded to Dick King, Class of 1948 of Lancaster, California for being the alumni which had come the farthest distance. He and three other classmates present, Betty Jo Turner Hyder, Jack Green and Fred LeHeup of Temple Terrace all started school together in Zephyrhills in 1938.
….This year the group’s president, Mrs. Laray Mott Jordan, Class of 1946, was attending a family reunion in North Carolina and was unable to be present. The Reunion was directed by VP John F. Clements of the ZHS faculty for the past 31 years, who was assisted by his wife Beanie, Mrs. Anna Greene Farmer, Class of 1954, Mrs. Jack (Lillian Mae Kress) Greene, Class of 1950, Bill Eiland, Class of 1948, Mrs. John (Mertie Hougaboom) Stephensens, Class of 1924, all former officers and this year’s other officers, Mrs. Betty Jo Turner Hyder, class of 1948, secretary and Mrs. Donnie (Sharon Forbes) Nelson, class of 1960, treasurer.
Alumni/Friends Reunion for 1985 Planned June 30, Zephyrhills News, June 13, 1985
High School graduations are in the limelight these past few weeks. It was one of the best and happiest times of our lives so it naturally figures that high school reunions will share some of the limelight…..The ZHS Alumni and Friends group lost one of its most loyal supporters May 31 when last year’s president, Jack Greene, Class of 1948, died unexpectedly. Jack together with his wife, Lillian Mae Kress Greene, Class of 1950, had worked for the success of each Reunion and this year will be the first that he missed.
His sister, Mrs. Anna Greene Whitehead, Class of 1954 is this year’s secretary and she may be contacted by any one who wishes further information about this year’s get together.
Artist Views Mural He Painted As A ZHS Senior 34 Years Ago, Zephyrhills News, April 28, 1982, by B.Y. Wickstrom, Editor
An estimated 3,000 students have passed through the halls of what is today Zephyrhills Junior High school since those days in 1948 when an inspirational wall mural was painted in the front hall by an artistic member of the senior class.
And since that long-ago day 34 years ago, most of those students and faculty members, too, have wondered who painted the mural?
So it was a pleasure to learn that the artist was visiting Zephyrhills, and was willing to meet the News at ZJHS for a photo with his mural.
“I am surprised it is still there; I thought that painting had long ago flaked off the wall and been painted over,” George Smith of New York City, said.
The son of Mrs. Rebecca “Becky” Smith, 409 18th Street, he was here for a short vacation, and to paint watercolors along the banks of the Hillsborough River, a la Winslow Homer.
Smith, 51, recalls that the mural was created by the 12 members of the 1948 senior class deciding what should be on it. “We had $17 in our treasury, so the others went out and bought one small can of every color of paint they could fine in Zephyrhills and Dade City while I drew the “cartoon” on the wall area.
“It was field day the Friday when we started and I worked through the weekend to finish it. I remember that near the end we ran out of red paint, and so one of the girls loaned me her lipstick—and it’s up there somewhere.” Smith said, pointing to an upper corner of the mural.
Smith, who was 16 when he painted the “futuristic yet classical” mural, now, owns a computer equipment sales store in New York at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, called Downstream Data, but continues to be active in the art world.
“I have been painting right along and have been an art teacher in this country, in France, and in India,” he said. For many years I painted in the modernist school, but now am coming back to realism, especially in watercolors.
His wife, Ann, is a native of London, England, where Smith also has studied art, and the two of them make trips often back to her homeland.
The ZHS graduate of 34 years ago recalls that his right-hand man on the project was Jack Greene who still resides in Zephyrhills at 125 Tucker Road.
“Another project Jack and I and some of the other seniors took on was to build an office for our librarian. (The library, two rooms west of the auditorium, is today a regular classroom, but the office still stands, being used as a storeroom.) We laid up the concrete blocks and built the window frames and glazed them. It was pretty good work for a bunch of kids.”
Smith also recalls helping Greene cast and installs heavy concrete letters spelling, “Zephyrhills High School,” on the grass of the school’s front lawn. “I imagine those letters have sunken down three feet below the surface by now, they were so heavy,” he noted.
ZJHS Principal Jim Davis sent word to Smith that the school would be pleased to pay him to retouch the mural in those few places where it is starting to deteriorate. But Smith declined.
“No, my feeling is that it was one of a kind and for its time, and someday it will be gone. But I am pleased that it has been admired for 34 years. I really never expected the painting to last this long.”
Picture and Caption from 4/28/88 Zephyrhills Newspaper below:
Caption: PROUD ARTIST—Artist George Smith poses before the mural he painted in 1948 when he was 16 and when what is today Zephyrhills Junior High was then the main high school building.