Courtesy photo of ELAINE LEVEY Waiting to board the train to take her back through Avon Park history is ÔMrs. Oliver Crosby,' wife of the founder of Avon Park. She is played by Jimmie Garner Butts, who'll be offering a one-woman show on the history of the community during this year's ÊOktoberfest. She will perform at times between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13 in the Avon Park Depot Museum. The mural itself can be seen at the Depot Restaurant on Main Street. ÊÊ
published: Friday, October 05, 2012
AP's 'Historical Ambassador' to put on shows at Oktoberfest
By LARRY LEVEY
AVON PARK - It's a strange mix, the 2012 Avon Park Oktoberfest and a performance on Avon Park history. But on Saturday, Oct. 13, that's exactly what will happen.
The history event is a monologue written and performed by Jimmie Garner Butts, who taught in Avon Park schools for 30 years before retiring. Dressed in a period dress, wearing a bonnet and carrying a parasol, she'll be offering a one-woman show at the Avon Park Depot Museum on the highlights of local history, with presentations given throughout the day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Taking on the role of Emma Crosby, the wife of the founder of Avon Park, Oliver Marvin Crosby, she'll tell tales ranging in time from her husband's very first visit (by horseback) to this area in 1886 to the recent renaming of our local college.
Her stories include Oliver's trips to England to recruit investors and settlers to come to Lake Forest, and how and why that name was later changed to Avon Park; the "Big Freeze" of 1894-95; "The Mile-Long Mall;" the Bandstand; the burial of "Old Man Gloom" during the Great Depression; the arrival of the railroad; the impact of World War II; the accidental discovery of Brown-and-Serve rolls; and other bits of history.
Butts has performed her show some 20-30 times. "I see myself as a 'historical ambassador' for Avon Park," she says. "I love sharing information about our early history and development, especially at our schools and civic organizations and the Avon Park Depot Museum."
The origins of the monologue took place in 1990 when she wrote and narrated (as Mrs. Crosby) a musical play called "Main Street in Review," based on several books on the history of Avon Park. The play, involving scores of local residents, both on-stage and back-stage, was given Oct. 11, 1990, at the Jacaranda Hotel.
Butts said that her friend, Pat Touchton, then director of Avon Park Main Street Inc. (a statewide effort to improve downtowns) "convinced me to put on a program to promote the development of Main Street."
Then, several years ago, Butts shortened the play and turned it into the monologue she now performs for the community, including the Oct. 13 shows.
Current resident Justine Devlin, who, at the time of the 1990 production, was president of the board of directors of the Main Street organization, gives high praise to Butts for her work on the play and the monologue. "She just nailed it," Devlin said. "She gave a voice to the history of our town."
For more information, call the Depot Museum at 453-3525 or museum director Elaine Levey at 385-8618.
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