The Giant Orange of Melbourne, Florida

This is sometimes referred to as the Giant Orange of Melbourne, Florida. Erected in 1967 from concrete and steel, the Orange is fifteen feet in diameter.  Not to burst too many bubbles but there are several such Giant Oranges throughout Florida. For several years, the Eau Gallie Chamber of Commerce operated it as a orange juice stand.

Giant Orange of Melbourne, Fla. (1967)
Giant Orange of Melbourne, Fla. (1967)

The Rotary Club of Melbourne, Fla.,erected the stand in honor of the Disabled American Veterans. Melbourne is the second largest city in Brevard County and is part of or tributary to the St. Johns River system. Readers will recall the public hearings in 1922 called by the Corps of Engineers that initially selected the St. John’s River system over the old privately owned Florida East Coast Canal for conversion into the Intracoastal Waterway. While the Corps of Engineers initially selected the naturally deeper St. Johns River, the appointment of Col. Gilbert Youngberg as the new Florida chief of the Corps of Engineers in 1922 along with the leadership of Daytona developer and publisher Charles Burgman of the Association of the Florida East Coast Chambers of Commerce persuaded the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to change its recommendation to the Florida East Coast Canal for conversion into the Intracoastal Waterway.florida tourism

Boarding up Celery at Sanford, Florida, on the St. Johns River

It seems that celery has always been the staple crop of Sanford, Florida. One of my African-American friends, W. George Allen, just retired from the practice of law at 70 years old, a veteran of the civil rights movement.  George grew up in Sanford. As a child, George picked celery every day during the dark days of segregation.  One day in the courthouse in Fort Lauderdale George showed me the palms of his hands. Long, thin lines scarred his palms from pulling celery stalks out of the ground during childhood.  He left Sanford, graduated from Howard University, and was the first Black to graduate from the University of Florida Law School.

Located strategically on Lake Monroe, near Orlando, on the southern stretch of the St. Johns River, at the turn of the 19th century steamboat traffic between Sanford and Jacksonville had always been heavy and profitable.  However, in the early 1920s, a threat to Sanford’s agriculture and trade business appeared imminent. The threat was the privately owned Florida East Coast Canal, now a completed tollway between Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami.

The Corps of Engineers could not make up its mind. Should it recommend to Congress the taking over of the old Florida East Coast Canal?    Or recommend a change in course and the larger and deeper St. Johns River south, near Titusville, thence a short connecting Canal to the southern part of the old East Coast Canal?  If the Army recommended the old East Coast Canal, it would spell the death knell for Sanford and Central Florida. If the Corps decided upon the St. Johns River route, Daytona Beach and its thriving tourist business would be cut out of the picture. The Corps held four hearings in 1922 throughout the east coast to decide the question.