HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Memories of Robert Missouri
By WAYNE GROOVER
I am not sure whether these thoughts would be considered a story or just memories, but as I was walking earlier, I began to think of Robert Missouri and the influence he, among many other adults in Lacoochee, had on my life during the decade following World War II.
Robert was so much more to me than just an African American. In fact I did not even think of him as “colored” as the term for black people was then known at that time. I thought of him as a wonderful friend, teacher, and pancake breakfast provider.
On many mornings I would walk hand in hand with Robert to his home to sit with him and his family and eat pancakes. His wife, Seal, could absolutely cook the best pancakes I have even eaten. As we would sit around their table, the talk would often center around me. I was their guest, and they treated me as they might have treated a future king. It was as if I was their focus, although in their kitchen and adjoining dining room were their own four children, two at the breakfast table and a couple of others in a nearby crib.
Comments that I remember are such as, “I think you will be taller than your father, just look at the way you are growing up and you have such big hands.”
Then after listening to their kind words and eating all the pancakes I could pack into my five year old frame, I would tell Robert’s wife how much I liked her cooking and Robert would walk with me back to my home by Cummer’s office.
After speaking to my mother and leaving me with her, my friend Robert would walk next door to the office to continue his daily chores of keeping every inside room clean and the grounds on the outside landscaped with the lawn mowing and hedge clipping.
Robert’s transportation to get Cummer’s mail delivery at the post office was an old bicycle with a seat above the back tire for the mail. One day when I was seated on the back of his bike and holding the mail bag as we were returning to the office, my right heel got caught in the spokes of the back wheel. Suddenly realizing that his pedaling was harder than normal, Robert looked back about the same time that I began to cry from the pain. “Oh my goodness look what has happened now,” he said. “I’ll carry you right home.”
I do not recall what Robert did with the old bicycle, but I do remember the concerned look on his face and how he apologized to my mother again and again when she came to the door to see why Robert and I were standing at the back door.
Robert, as so many of those special people who made Lacoochee that never to be forgotten town, have passed on now, but those wonderful memories that they helped create will be with those of us who wait our turn.