HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY

Lacoochee


Remembering the Ferrells

By NELL MOODY WOODCOCK and WAYNE GROOVER

Nell’s Memory

Of all the five children born to Charlie and Nell Ferrell I remember two of them distinctly.

Gene Ferrell was a 12-year-classmate and friend from first grade at Lacoochee’s elementary school through graduation ceremonies at Pasco High in Dade City. World War II ended the next year in 1945.

His older sister Alice Ferrell worked as a clerk in the local post office. As a teenager, her flair for stylish clothes impressed me. She lived at home and I believe her dresses were made by Mrs. Troy Jones, a popular seamstress in Lacoochee.

Years later at the 2010 annual Lacoochee Reunion an old friend, Irene Parmenter, handed me a black and white picture. I immediately recognized the pink linen dress with rows of white ric-rac at the neck and waist. The straight skirt hit just below my knees. The dress in the picture had been a gift from my friend Alice Ferrell.

During the war years Alice and I would run into each other at local dances. The U. S. O. Hall was located on the second floor of the Massey Building in Dade City. There was an Army Air Force band at the Zephyrhills Army Airfield.

Alice married Ed McMahon in 1945 and they were divorced in 1974. I met her husband at a dance they were attending at the National Guard Armory in Dade City. By then I was married to the leader of that band, Roddy Woodcock.

The local 8-piece band had evolved from a 3-piece group. Two members of the original trio had played in the Army band while attending Zephyrhills High. Johnny Gore also from Zephyrhills had a brief stint with the 8-piece band. He became a member of the famous Mel Tillis’ band. Gore and his Saxophone were receiving top billing at the time of his death.

According to information on Google, In January 1942 the 1930’s Zephyrhills municipal airfield was taken over by the U. S. Air Corp. The Zephyrhills Army Airfield was assigned as a sub-base to the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics at Orlando’s Army Field.

Wayne’s Memory

When my sister Melanie and I were kids in Lacoochee in the early fifties, there were at least two summers that I recall Alice and Ed McMahon visiting her parents, Charlie and Nellie Ferrell, who lived a few doors down from us closer to the crate mill.

During these summer visits Claudia and Michael McMahon, Ed and Alice’s two adorable children, would wander down to our yard to play Hop Scotch and Hide and Seek. When their dad, Ed, thought his children had played with us neighborhood kids long enough, he would walk to our yard to take them back to the Ferrells. As soon as Claudia and Michael heard their dad call their names, they would run excitedly to greet him. He would immediately lean down and lift Michael to his shoulders, and then reach for Claudia to help her climb onto his back for their walk home.

Melanie and I would listen as the three of them laughed all the way down to the Ferrells where their mom and grandparents were waiting on the Ferrell’s front porch.

To read more about Ed McMahon, Google “Sealtest Big Top” and you will find it was sponsored by Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia and in paragraph 10 you’ll note that it states that old newspapers from that era in their listings refer to local WCAU announcer Ed McMahon (his first national exposure) as a clown.

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