Web  design by Theresa Osbron Smith; logo picture from J. W. Hunnicutt collection
ROY AND EDITH FOSTER OF LACOOCHEE, FLORIDA
By Arno Surls Webster
    This story is about former Lacoochee residents Roy and Edith Surls Foster.  Aunt Edith was my dad's oldest sister.  She married Uncle Roy when she was 16 years old.  It seems Aunt Edith was only 15 when their courtship began.  Uncle Roy was already a Deputy Sheriff of Levy County at the time.
    This caused a rift in the family because he was much older.  It took many years before reconciliation was made.  As I was growing up, I felt this strain on our family relationships, but did not understand.
    Uncle Roy loved his young wife.  He dressed her in the latest fashions and took her to all the official meetings that permitted women because he wanted to show her off.  He bought her a new car every couple years, taught her to drive and let her be his chauffeur because she loved to drive so much.
    Because of her love of the woods, Uncle Roy bought Aunt Edith two dogs and two guns; a small 22 pistol and a 410 shotgun.  She was a superb shot and often brought home game for their dinner - deer, wild hogs, turkey, squirrels, quail; there was plenty of game in those days.
    At first, they lived in Levy County, but when Cummer's mill there burned, most of our family, including Uncle Roy and Aunt Edith, moved to Lacoochee where Uncle Roy was employed as Mr. Cummer's personal forest ranger.
    In Lacoochee, Uncle Roy and Aunt Edith lived over by the lumberyard.  They always had two           dogs - big, bad dogs.  They kept their dogs in their fenced yard.  When I went over to visit, I would holler at the gate.  Aunt Edith would put the dogs in the house and take them to the back door.  I would go up to the porch and as she let them out the back door, I would go in the front door.  This procedure was reversed when I was ready to go home.  But, I digress.
    As I said, Uncle Roy was Mr. Cummer's forest ranger.  He was responsible to oversee the wildlife on Mr. Cummer's properties and serve as hunting guide during Mr. Cummer and his guests' visits to the area.  My Aunt Edith was his aide.  While Uncle Roy mitigated fire hazards, checked for poachers and property border disturbances, Aunt Edith would track deer, turkey and hogs to water holes and visit open areas to find flocks of quail and doves then report her findings to Uncle Roy.
    During their rounds of the Cummer properties, both would kill rattlesnakes whenever they happened upon them, which was frequently.  You may wonder why, but in those days, it was necessary to keep them thinned out.  Walking down a trail, if you didn't get him today, he may get you tomorrow.  They both wore snake leggings and never stepped over a log, but stepped on top of it as they passed over,  because if you threw your leg over the log, you may disturb a rattlesnake laying there waiting for prey.
    I remember one story Uncle Roy used to tell: He went out one day to make his rounds.  Right away, there was a big rattlesnake in the dirt road.  He stopped, got out, killed the snake, took the rattles and went on his way.  After finishing his day's work, he set out for home.  When he came to the place where he had killed the snake, there it was, striking in all directions.  He had shot the snake's jaw off but not its brain.
    The Cummer mill officers who came from Jacksonville were called the "higher ups."  They liked to come down to Lacoochee and go hunting.  They really liked to turkey hunt.  On these trips, Aunt Edith would set the hunts based on her knowledge of the habits of the animals on Cummer's property.
    Turkeys roost in the same tree most every night.  Beneath the tree was a clearing and in the mornings, the turkeys would fly down into this area and the toms would strut about for the hens before they went off to feed.  Aunt Edith knew where all the roosting trees were and how many turkeys were in each rafter.
    A few days before the hunt, she would choose one and make a blind at the edge of the clearing.  In a few days, the turkeys would get used to it.  Then, before the hunt, she would kill a turkey for each of the hunters expected, then dress and store them in her freezer.  After the hunt, each hunter could take home a turkey regardless of his success in the field.
    While Uncle Roy took the hunters out hunting, Aunt Edith would prepare a big turkey dinner for them to enjoy after they finished the hunt.  If a big tom were killed, Aunt Edith would prepare the tail, wings and beard so that the hunter could have them mounted as trophies as they did in those days.
    Aunt Edith and Uncle Roy enjoyed their life together.
    The one sad spot was that they were never able to have children, though they both loved them.  On many occasions, Aunt Edith took a child for a ride in her car or she and Uncle Roy would take someone to the picture show.   Sometimes, she and Uncle Roy bought neighbor children shoes and clothes for school.
    After Uncle Roy died, Aunt Edith lived alone for many years.  She often spent time hunting   and "living off the land," sometimes for months, though she had a nice home and secure income - she just loved life in
the woods.

Nell's Memories of the Fosters
By Nell Moody Woodcock
    Roy and Edith Foster made an indelible impression on me as a young child about to enter her teenage years. To begin with they didn't fit the mold of the average childless couple living in this major sawmill town called Lacoochee, Florida.
    Edith was young, fun to be around and had her own car. Roy was a constable, a Pasco County deputy sheriff, who arrested people who broke the law. And he liked children. My family lived near them in an area close to the elementary school and the company's lumber yard.
    I was 12, maybe 13 when I first began visiting in their home. One thing that caught my attention was a metal bank about as tall as a Kleenex box standing on one end. With each penny deposit in the bank you received a piece of chocolate candy. There was a dish close by filled with pennies. The bank had no closing hours. That's when I became a chocoholic.
    Nothing memorable sticks in my mind about the actual motor trips I made with them to Weeki Wachee Springs and Brooksville in Hernando County and to Plant City in Hillsborough County. But what happened on our arrival is as vivid as if it happened yesterday.
    Weeki Wachee Springs, is one of Florida's numerous first-magnitude springs discharging more than 60 million gallons of water every day from the aquifer. Back then it was a local swimming hole for people who lived in Brooksville or the historic community of Bay Port where the Weeki Wachee river empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
    On my first visit we found a diving board jutting out from the bank and a rope swing hanging from an Oak Tree limb extending over the springs. It took a brave soul to make the plunge into the icy cold water below. Yes, I made the plunge. There was a makeshift bath house on the bank constructed by the local swimmers. I don't remember anyone else being there on that day. 
    Today Weeki Wachee Springs, a world famous tourist attraction is one of Florida's many state parks. It is located at the intersection of U.S 19 and State Road 50.
    My next thrill occurred in Brooksville on our return trip home. Edith stopped to go shopping and I left the store with my first pair of high heel shoes. Gray colored soft leather sandals. Not meant for Lacoochee's sand roads and board sidewalks. But Edith understood a young girl's longings.  
    Next she took me to Plant City and a beauty shop for my first permanent wave. Plant City was a cow town then now famous for its annual Strawberry Festivals. Perhaps a few of you remember the contraptions used back then to put a permanent wave into a women's hair. A metal electric clamp attached to each individual curl for heat to set the permanent. While attached to that machine I began to wonder if all my hair might fall out. When the ordeal was over, Edith was pleased and I was sure I'd be the envy of all my girlfriends in Lacoochee when school opened that fall.



How Nell must have looked when getting her
first permanent. Picture courtesy of J. W. Hunnicutt