Category Archives: Local History

Historic Cocoa Village

Where along the Space Coast can you get an old-style shave and barber cut, relax with a full-body aromatherapy relaxation massage, delight in wood-fired gourmet pizza or award-winning culinary delights from the Brazilian, French, Thai, Italian and good ol’  American traditions, go to a production at a historic Playhouse, listen to a weekly open-air live jazz concert for FREE, indulge in a fabulous dinner-show,  buy hand-crafted-in-front–of-you gifts, get your insurance, and do your banking all within a 2 block radius…???!

Scratching your head…? Historic Cocoa Village is the answer. Whether you are looking for a delightful lunch in a romantic courtyard or a relaxing (or bracing…) walk along the Indian River; want to take in some culture, art and history, or just prefer a more traditional shopping experience; looking for an old-style cigar or just to buy the grandkids some good ‘the-way-they’re-supposed-to-be’ toys – a delightful choice of shoppes, craft studios, galleries, restaurants, historical buildings, museum and wonderfully varied calendar of events and activities awaits you at Historic Cocoa Village.

Just east of the junction of US 1 and SR 520,  Historic Cocoa Village is well worth a visit. More than 50 unique shops, galleries, antique malls and restaurants line the charming, historic village streets, which are anchored by the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse on Brevard Ave and beautifully restored Porcher House to the south on Delannoy Ave. Historic Cocoa Village is also home to many professional services from accounting and taxation services to storage units, banking and real estate.

The range of things you can see, buy and do in Historic Cocoa Village is staggering. Hand crafted glass and ceramics are available in many stores including ‘The Pear Tree’ and ‘Horsefeathers’; Parrot head Island fun can be found at ‘Sand & Sea Gifts and Gallery’; Celtic designs at the Irish shop; exquisite tableware and interior design from ’ Something Different’, ‘Pacita’s’, ’Village Home’, and ‘Rendez-vous’; consignment wear from ‘Champagne Taste’.  Fused glass and mosaic creations; vintage clothing alongside with more contemporary, designer offerings; brick-a- brac, gourmet food –  dark chocolate balsamic vinegar bottled right in front of you is just one of many gourmet kitchen ingredients on offer in the Village…! – Collectables; antiques and silverware; precious stones and hand-made jewelry, paintings, sculpture and designs by local artists with actual studios and workshops in the Village.

Have a taste for something different…? Take a wander around the Village and choose from one of the vibrant restaurants and eateries along the historic streets – anything from European style haute-cuisine at Café Margaux to Brazilian steak-style at Brasas, Sushi at Thai Thai or pizza from Ryan’s Pizza, Gator tail at Norman’s Raw Bar & Grill  to more traditional Italian fare at Cara Mia. Why not get a coffee and just-baked Swedish pastry at Oleander Bakery or dare the wonderfully, refreshing blackberry iced tea at Ossorios’s…?

The Upcoming Events Calendar in Historic Cocoa Village is something to keep an eye on throughout the year – some of the regular events in the Village are the well-regarded Art & Crafts Shows which take place four times a year in the Village (the next one is the weekend of 6-7th March) featuring live music, street entertainment and of course, the work of hundreds of talented artists and crafters; various musical and dramatic productions at the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse; a fantastic variety of  dinner shows at Café Unique’s Ballroom on Florida Ave; The Space Coast Mardi Gras 25-28th February with VIP Masquerade Ball; The Chili Cook off and Taster on April 10th; Memorial Day Celebrations; Fourth of July Celebration; Gallery Walk; ‘Taste of the Village’; Classic Car Shows and much more.

Every Wednesday there is a green Farmer’s market in the centre of the Village with the acclaimed ‘Brown Bag lunch and Jazz’ live concert outside in the Gazebo along Brevard Avenue each Friday. Why not visit the historic Porcher House on Delannoy Ave on the 3rd Tuesday of each month for the wonderfully nostalgic’Florida Tea’ event….?

For more details on what Historic Cocoa Village has to offer please call Catherine at 321 631 9075 or e-mail her at to sign up for special events, tour and offer details. Events are updated regularly on the Village Facebook page www.facebook/historiccocoavillage and on the web

Any travel clubs or community groups who wish to plan a visit to Historic Cocoa Village should call Catherine to avail of all the Village has to offer.

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Historic Derby Street Chapel

by Ida Johnson Wright and Volamae Roberts Brinkley

Have you noticed the quaint little chapel with the new landscaping on the comer of Derby Street and Brevard Avenue in Cocoa Village? Are you aware of the changes made to this local historic landmark over the past few years? Did you know but for the vision of a dozen or so caring people, this delightful building would have been headed for the wrecking ball? First constructed in 1916 the chapel has been around for more than 90 years, but today, it has never looked lovelier!  .

In 1923, the Seventh Day Adventist Church expanded the craftsman-style building which was heralded as “an honor to the city.” It was used by this congregation until about 1955 when it was sold to the Church of Christ, Scientist for worship services. The Church of Christ, Scientist built a small building to the south of the chapel as their Reading Room. In the early 1960’s the church moved to a new location on North Indian River Drive and the chapel was sold to the First Baptist Church in 1964.

For several years, the little chapel served an overflow crowd of children every Sunday, and the minutes of First Baptist record a history of church buses bringing dozens of youngsters to this special place. When the new Christian Activities Center was built on Oak Street, the little chapel was no longer needed and became a storage place, and the building was destined to be demolished. After a neighbor objected to the destruction of the historic building, a few women in the church took up the task to save the chapel. In 2002, Cocoa Main Street proposed to restore the chapel as close as possible to its original state, and in 2003 signed a long-term lease for that expressed purpose. Five years later, with help of a matching grant from the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Tallahassee, the Derby Street Chapel is again “An Honor to the City.”

The roof withstood many years of hurricanes without leaking, and volunteers had hoped to save the original tin tiles, but the old tiles were too thin and fragile. The new roof, installed in 2007, was matched exactly to preserve the historic significance in accordance with the standards of the Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation. The flooring, made from Merritt Island heart of pine, was being tom up, but the floorboards were stacked to one side and put back in place. It is essentially the original flooring, beautifully refinished.

The original altar railing has been refinished. The pulpit was rescued from a dumpster and was lovingly refurbished by a volunteer. The original front door was stripped of years of old paint to reveal beautiful wood that has been refinished to a lovely patina. The pews were handcrafted by Merritt Island contractor Hermus Prine, in 1935, also from Merritt Island pine, and were donated by Stanley and Juanita Baxley owner of Wylie-Baxley Funeral Home. They have been restored and seem to fit the interior, as if made especially for the chapel.

Two stained glass windows that hang in the windows behind the pulpit were made by Irving Lipton, a retired engineer, who made them for the chapel shortly before he died at age 90. Front and side landscaping was a project of the Dirt Daubers Circle of the Cocoa Rockledge Garden Club. A new hurricane-proof back door was installed to accommodate an ADA approved ramp on the south side of the chapel that was completed in the summer of 2008.  .

An administration building with a multi-purpose room (dressing room, office) and rest rooms is expected to be completed by the end of2009, adjoining the ADA ramp on the south side of the chapel. In the garden, or park area, around the administration building, a bell-tower is planned to house an antique bell.

Except for the dream of countless individuals, this tiny Chapel would not exist. The restoration of the chapel was for the purpose of serving the community as a cultural center, available for weddings, wedding renewals, celebrations of life, concerts, recitals, art shows, educational and walking tours, and other special functions. You are invited to visit this charming little chapel, and consider using it for your next event!

The Derby Street Chapel was first constructed in 1916 by the congregation of the Cocoa Seventh Day Adventist and has had a long, religious heritage. It is now owned by the Cocoa First Baptist Church. After being completely restored to its original state, it is has now received historical site status.

Article provided courtesy of the Central Brevard Mosquito Beaters, 2009 Memory Book,

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by Pete Godke

We came to Cocoa Beach in 1938 from Sebastian, it was the last move my parents made. Paul and Ann Godke, my brother, Dale and I moved into the Ocean Lodge Hotel to become the new operators. This small hotel was located at the east end of the current Minutemen Causeway, where Coconuts Restaurant currently operates. The structure that was the Ocean Lodge Hotel was previously known as The Beach Casino in the 1920′ s and 1930′ s. The guests that stayed at the Ocean Lodge Hotel were primarily wealthy northerners who came down to enjoy the warm climate.

In those years, prior to World War II, there were very few permanent residents in Cocoa Beach. Besides the few scattered homes up and down the beach, the Ocean Lodge Hotel was the main structure. Most of the private resident’s homes were vacant except during the winter months. There were eight to ten homes between First and Fourth Streets South occupied throughout the year. The style of homes during the 1930’s was Spanish Stucco. Some of these homes still stand, but have been remodeled. The construction of these few homes, was done during the mid to late 1920’s with the materials being barged over to the beach. The builders would stay throughout the week and return to the mainland by boat on the weekends.

The actual beach has also changed. During these early years, the beach was very wide and beach driving was allowed without any restrictions. For fun, there were car races on the beach, and occasionally used as a landing strip for the hotel guest’s airplanes. Swimming was safe, and shell collecting was a favorite. Over all, the beach was considered superior to Daytona Beach. Our family collected many shells throughout the years, some of which we still have today. It was often said that the very small population through the day, increased dramatically after dark. That is, if you included the swarms of mosquitoes that came out.

After World War II began, we occasionally spotted smoke on the horizon from the ships that had been torpedoed. The Department of the Navy constructed and opened a Navy Patrol Bomber Base called BananaRiver Naval Air Station (now Patrick Air Force Base). Since I am retired military, I occasionally go to Patrick AFB and still recognize some of the original buildings left over from the Naval Base. The war was very close in those years, and it was not uncommon to find debris on the beach from sunken ships. Besides military equipment and salvage from these ships, occasionally survivors would come ashore in lifeboats, and then came to the hotel for help. For several years, a partially sunken freighter lay on a sandbar off shore from where Holiday Inn is now. The Ocean Lodge Hotel was used for many purposes throughout the war. The authorities built a tower on top of the hotel and my father was assigned the position of Local Air Warden. He was to report all sighted aircraft and any other unusual activities. This tower was manned twenty-four hours a day by volunteers and the notification was made to somewhere on the mainland by a”crank” type of telephone. Even with the black paint on the windows of the buildings and automobile headlights, and limiting activity after dark, there was still a threat from enemy submarines off the east coast. After several saboteurs landed in St. Augustine, the Coast Guard took over the hotel and made it a Coast Guard Station. There were men with sentry dogs patrolling the beach and automobiles were subject to search upon entering and leaving the mainland.

With the end of the war, the hotel and Cocoa Beach returned to its previous peaceful environment. The Naval Air Station closed in 1948, for several years, until it was turned over to the Air Force as a Missile Development Base. Because of the new 520 Causeway, the beach area was now accessible to more people and the beach became a popular tourist destination. We traveled on the beach in our beach buggy, which was actually a Model T Ford. We would take guests from the hotel to watch the turtles lay their eggs at night. During the turtle-hatching season, we would have turtle races, in front of the hotel, to see which hatchling made it to the water first. We also took guests to a small island in the Banana River off north Cocoa Beach, which was heavily populated by native birds for picture taking. This was similar to Pelican Island. In south Cocoa Beach, we visited Indian Burial grounds. The times were very laid-back and not stressful.

In the 1930s and 1940s, one of the best fishing and duck hunting locations in Cocoa Beach was in the area around Minutemen Causeway. My favorite spot was on Sunset Island, which is now a bridged street off Minutemen Causeway. This happens to be where my wife and I bought our home and we have lived there for many years. Cocoa Beach has changed a lot since the early years.

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Rest in Peace Indianola’s Pioneer Cemetery

by  Volamae Roberts Brinkley

On north Merritt Island just north of the Barge Canal is a quiet, calm, peaceful place surrounded by a rock wall. There is no sound except the soft rumbling of traffic in the distance and an occasional wail of a siren. Gnarled limbs of ancient salt cedars stretch in every direction. Cedars native to Merritt Island have stood guard in this spot for over a hundred years. Storms have twisted and turned the trunks in grotesque shapes, but they continue to protect those who have gone on before.

Here and there bright swatches of colorful flowers poke through the brown leaves as sunlight filters through a canopy of green foliage. Near the center of the enclosed space, shrubs have eroded the stones often causing them to crack and making the lettering difficult to read. Toward the rear, a large, well-kept plot filled with bright artificial flowers, a comfortable bench across the comer, and the name Kiser prominent on a bevy of stones. R.M. Kiser, well known owner of the Greyhound Bus Station died many years ago. R.M. (as he was known) and his brother Carey were the oldest of twelve children born to Andrew Kiser and his wife. The Kiser plot is like a large family coming together for a reunion. Someone has lovingly cared for the final resting place of these early settlers as evidenced in this secluded place.

Names like Nisbet, Field, Crisafulli, Hill, Sanders, are scattered here and there on weathered stones under the trees. They represent folks who braved the mosquitoes to etch out a living when the only access to Merritt Island was a narrow wooden bridge. The Crisafulli’s, Furnari, Beenson and Pollicchio’s were Italian families who settled on the extreme end of the Island in the 1920′ s setting hundreds of acres of seedlings by hand; then budding each young growth until it became known as the famous Indian River Fruit. The families moved from Ohio and invested their life savings of $3000 in land that was not cleared or properly drained for orange trees. The ever present mosquito and summer heat without electricity or telephone, the stench from the smoke to protect the livestock, made life almost intolerable. They loved the land, the freedom, and became known as some of the finest growers of fruit in the world. Mary Crisafulli is buried beneath the trees, her photo proudly portrayed on the stone. Other members of this family of men and women who pioneered Merritt Island are entombed in the southwest section of this lovely spot where the bright sunlight filters down through the trees.

Nearby an overgrown plot littered with debris from fallen leaves bears the name Nisbet and next to it, Hill. Dave Nisbet grew up on Merritt Island, and married Sarah Curtis, also of Merritt Island. Dave was a County Commissioner and was one of those instrumental in the eradication of the ever-present mosquitoes. In the summer you either stayed in the house, or went to the beach to rid yourself of the pesky critters. Under his direction, low-lying land was drained; hundreds of acres dredged and ditched. Dave hired Lee Wenner to fly a low flying plane to distribute mosquito spray. The name Nisbet is well known as a prominent figure in the development of Central Brevard County.

About half way down the path is a well-worn stone with a baby lamb carved on the front; the name Hardin in bold letters across the top, and underneath, the name Buddy. Over sixty years ago, four year old Buddy wandered away from his home on North Merritt Island, and walked into a retention pond looking for a lost toy. Several hours later, he was found where he had drowned in the pond. His sister Jan, was a best friend of my daughter Sherry.

As I walk the tree lined path it’s like reading a history book of names I remember while living on Merritt Island. In the early 50’s we lived in a “Quarters” house on a large grove north of where the Barge Canal is today. I remember the spray trucks that came about dark each evening putting out a huge cloud of fog that smelled horrible! I also remember driving a tractor from one grove to another to take fertilizer, and the retention pond behind our house where a child almost drowned one dark night. I remember thinking Merritt Island would sink when the Barge Canal was dug, and the long trek to Cocoa before the bridge across the canal was built. I recall the huge alligator behind a high wire fence in Bobby Hill’s yard that was called “Jumbo”. Each time I stopped to examine a name engraved on a granite stone, the name has a face and a story.

A simple pink granite stone is near the front of this tranquil setting. Pink silk roses adorn the sides and a picture· of two intertwined hands and the words, “In the Hands of God”, 1949- 1952, is etched on the surface. A daughter born on Merritt Island, now in heaven, was my reason for visiting the graves of these brave souls. This is the [mal resting place of many early settlers in Merritt Island long before Rockets lit up the night sky, or the Barge Canal split the island in two and spilled out in the ocean.

I invite you to visit in a place called Indianola Cemetery next time you pass by. Written in late April, 2008- when families came together to remember.

Article provided courtesy of the Central Brevard Mosquito Beaters,  Memory Book, available at the Florida Historical Library, 435 Brevard Av., Cocoa Village.

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Bakers’ Cocoa or Coco Plum

Charles W Skelly and Donna Sheriff

There are many stories about the naming of Cocoa; each one supported by some fact or the other, some old documents dug up or someone’s actual unquestioned memory, You know, one of them is probably true, Now you take the one that goes like this,

A group of settlers were sitting around on boxes in Willard’s Store chewin’ the fat and politicking’, the main issue was, “What are we going to name this city now that we’re about to be incorporated?” They discussed all kinds of names and everything in between. Since this was Willard’s store on Willard Street, how about Willardsville? At that point, I’ll bet things got a little heated. As a matter of fact, one brand new bridegroom probably suggested, “The Beautiful City of Estherville.”  .

Well, there’s a native shrub called the coco plum, which was found all over here and still is, and since this was more neutral, the men finally decided on Coco, Florida for the new city. Could it be true, even though no one recalls when an “A” got added?

Old Grandpa Hardee says, “Hogwash!” He had his story, too. And if you ask me, well, see what you think. Grandpa G. S. Hardee came to this area, down around Rockledge, in 1868. Grandpa’s dead now, but hetold good stories about the early days to anyone who would listen to his stories about Indians, traders, and settlers; about towns and people, too. He recollects that on June 15, 1883 his Great Uncle R. A. Hardee,who was a trader, filed a claim in Titusville for a plot of land on the site, which is now Cocoa. Great Uncle Hardee was always buying and selling land. He traded in horses, too, and before the War Between the States, some say he traded in slaves.

Anyway, the plot we’re talking about was called Hardee’s Plat of Indian River City. Now don’t confuse that with today’s Indian River City, that’s another story. Uncle Hardee’s plat was divided into lots 150 feet by 150 feet with fifty foot streets, and twenty foot alleys separating them. It was a goodinvestment and before you knew it there was regular shopping center there on the river front. One of thebuildings housed a general store and post office. President Ulysses S. Grant, himself, named the proprietor, Mrs. James, Post-mistress.

The river carried most of the traffic in those days so that’s where the equivalent of the modem day billboard was placed. Signs and advertisements were painted on the sides of buildings or wooden storefronts facing the river. The general store was popular with traders and hunters who came for supplies and to meet and talk. The traders often brought shopping lists from the settlers up and down the river.

Well, way back then in 1884, Baker’s Cocoa was supplying chocolate flavor for chocolate lovers and advertising their product in the near wilderness of Florida. The river front trading post was an ideal location for Baker’s Cocoa sign. Once the sign was up, though, no one bothered to repaint or replace it andthe “Baker’s” disappeared, but “Cocoa” remained readable. Then it was only a matter of time until this became a landmark and traders, hunters, and settlers alike would say, “I’ll meet you in Cocoa.” “Pick me up a sack of salt at Cocoa.” “I saw old Wooten at Cocoa last month.”

Everybody identified the landing as Cocoa, so when it came time to incorporate, that’s what Grandpa said they called it. The Town of Cocoa. Grandpa should know, he was around a long time. He was just twenty-six years old when he homesteaded on the mainland of Central Brevard. Part of that homestead was the old Sears Town in Rockledge, but Grandpa saw it all in another day.

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Established June 12, 1910

By Kay Wylie Nix

Baptists have worshipped on the corner of Brevard Avenue and Oak Street for almost 100 years. First Baptist Church was organized on Sunday, June 12, 1910 on the second floor of the Cocoa Town Hall, which was on the corner of King Street and Fin’ Avenue. The fifteen charter members of the church were J. N. Chalker, DellaChalker, T. Hodges, Carrie Hodges, J. R. Garren, Susie Garren, A. Z. Dixon, Mamie Dixon, Adela Rembert. Alida Platt, Rubie Platt, C. B. Owens, Della Owens, N.J. Cooper, and G. L. Combs. Under the leadership of the first pastor, Rev. F. M. Ross, the church continued meet in the “Opera House”, as the upstairs auditorium of the Town Hall was called, until a church building was erected in 1911 at the corner of Brevard A venue and Oak Street.

The first recorded revival meeting of the Cocoa Church was on Monday, January 271913. Rev. Raleigh Wright of Tullahoma, Tenn. began a meeting which was to last a week. The revival was successful. The recorded count of new members was nine.

The building was enlarged in 1914 to include an auditorium to seat 200 people, a choir loft and baptistery. In 1919 the building was again enlarged by adding a Sunday school room, enlarging the choir loft, and building an exposed baptistery. In 1920 the membership reached 100.

The noise from the Florida East Coast Railway just west of the traffic circle and the traffic congestion on U.S. #1 (which is now Florida Avenue) made worship services unbearable. By 1925 the congregation decided to purchase new property on the corner of Delannoy and Maryland Avenues. They were able to sell the church property, but continued to lease from the owner until they could raise money to construct their new building. To save money, they built a frame building on property they owned east of the sanctuary property. This building was called “The Tabernacle” and served the First Baptist congregation for several years. Finally, in 1930, the church was able to repurchase the original property for $5,000. Membership at this time had reached 275.

Sixteen pastors have served First Baptist since 1910. They include Rev. F.M. Ross, Rev. Robert Jones, Rev. J. R. Parsons, Rev. Springfield, Rev, Ira Sanders, Rev. J.C. Kazee, Rev. H. S. Howard, Rev. O. L. Riggs, Rev. Charles White, Dr. John Sycamore. Rev. Claude Bridges, Rev. Ray Garrett, Dr. James Sawyer, Rev. James Dunnam. Dr. Frank Thomas, Rev. Henry Green, Dr. William Marr. Dr. Charles Horton is the present pastor. .

During the ministry of Dr. James Sawyer, who served First Baptist for 27 years, church grew in numbers, purchased adjoining properties, erected buildings, helped to establish five missions, which are now vital churches in Central Brevard County – King Street, Cocoa Beach, Frontenac, Rockledge, and gave financial sup MerrittIsland in its early days.

The Carmichael Educational Building was completed and occupied in 1949. At this time in the history of Central Brevard, the missile program at Cape Canaveral was bringing thousands of new residents and all area churches showed growth in their memberships. A three-story educational building was erected east of the sanctuary in 1958. This building was later named for Pastor Emeritus Dr. James A. Sawyer. A new sanctuary was constructed on the site of the original church and was occupied in 1962.

A Christian Activities Center was built on the south side of Oak Street and dedicated in 1998. This building is used for fellowship dinners, recreational activities, and many social and educational events of the church and community. Additional property was purchased for parking at the close of 2008.

Because of the vision of those fifteen charter members, and the faithful leadership of pastors and lay people down through these decades, we know that God has great things in store for First Baptist

Church of Cocoa. We are proud to be His lighthouse on the comer of Brevard Avenue and Oak Street. Come and celebrate our great heritage with us on Sunday, June 13,2010.

Article provided courtesy of the Central Brevard Mosquito Beaters,  Memory Book, available at the Florida Historical Library, 435 Brevard Av., Cocoa Village.

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First Rocket Flight From Cape Was Awesome

by Fred Hopwood

The first missile fired from Cape Canaveral took place the morning of July 21, 1950.

The following paragraphs recall the last few minutes of the history making flight.

For a time, it looked like the show was off. It seemed that fate would dog the area again and that Bumper 8 would share the luck of Bumper 7, which failed to fire on July 19. The rocket was fifty-six feet high and six feet in diameter and weighed fourteen tons. It was of German manufacture and known as a V-2.

It was postponed from 8 a.m. to 8:54 a.m. Fueling was finished at 8:27 a.m. Then the “X” count started. “X” minus twenty-two minutes,” droned the loudspeaker. Two red flares seared across the sky. Dismally,the control center said, “Hold at X minus two minutes.” Moans and grumbles were heard.

Then the count started once more. At 9:22 a.m., the weather began to close in.

Cumulus clouds – rain ahead – dotted the horizon. Another “hold” from control.

Then at 9:26 a.m., the flares started once more across the skies. This was it. Seconds ticked by. Then a red flash. Bumper, its WAC Corporal stage nosing cockily into the sky, began to stir. Dust and smoke puffed up. It sounded like a hollow, rolling clap of thunder. Moving slowly upward, the slender steel tube seemed to hover around one-hundred feet. Then, like the rocket it was, Bumper made for the clouds and dove through a hole at about 6,000 feet.

Observers watched the circle of red flame and then saw a feather of vapor outlined above the clouds. The sun caught the vapor trail and cast a shadow on the clouds; the course was almost due east.

Traveling at approximately 2,700 miles an hour, the V -2 bumped off the WAC Corporal aftereighty-three seconds of light. At that point, the V -2 was some fifteen miles from the Cape and around eight and a half miles above the Earth.

At 143 seconds, Col. Harold R. Turner, safety officer, gave the command to destroy the former Germanrocket. At 160 seconds after firing, flak from the V-2, exploded by small blocks of explosives, showered down on the ocean. By that time, the first stage of Bumper had traveled nearly forty-eight miles.

The WAC Corporal probably continued on another seventy-five miles, according to Turner. But no details were given about the WAC. Turner explained that information was secret. The test firing was for the purpose of examining high-velocity phenomena at low altitudes. Conclusions, obviously, weren’t available for public consumption.

The rocket firing, exclusive of base expenses, cost less than $100,000. Check that against today’s $25 million lift-offs.

Fred Hopwood, local Historian, now deceased, was a resident of Melbourne and employed at Patrick AFB.He wrote many articles about early Brevard County, some of which have been printed in previous MosquitoBeater Memory Books

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Lighthouse Memories

Family Picnics at the Lighthouse “Old Site” – Yvonne Patrick Thornton

During the 1940’s I remember picnics at the Lighthouse’s “Old Site” near the ocean at an abandoned Coast Guard Station, with a watchtower from World War 11 on the beach. My Uncle Clinton “Buddy” Honeywell, Jr. would drive his 1938 Chevrolet taking his mother, Gertrude Wilson Honeywell, my Mom, Florence Honeywell Patrick, my sister Vell Dean, brother James and me for Sunday afternoon picnics at the Cape. We’d have fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans and iced tea. We’d stop to pick up Aunt “Toy” (Florence Quarterman), who always had delicious home-baked hot cinnamon raisin buns waiting for us to devour.

We’d walk through the sea oats and sea grape bushes to the ocean. The beach wasn’t very wide and was not level, but slanted down to the water’s edge. As the waves rolled in, they would create a ditch, which we’d walk through to get to the level ocean bottom. VeIl Dean and I would body surf or ride the waves in rubber inner tubes. What fun! Then we’d rinse off in the artesian well with water that smelled like rotten eggs! There was a water tower or cistern beside the well. We walked on the bolts of the “Old Site” foundation, (see photo) spreading our arms to balance ourselves.

We’d visit Captain Swain’s family at the lighthouse, then climb the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse. The wind was always blowing briskly way up there! What a beautiful view of the ocean and surrounding area! Vell Dean and I would climb up and down two or three times. Wish I had that much energy today! Little did we know that the lighthouse would one day be a backdrop for rockets that would send men to the moon.

Article provided courtesy of the Central Brevard Mosquito Beaters,  Memory Book 2010, available at the Florida Historical Library, 435 Brevard Av., Cocoa Village.

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North Cocoa Road was once an Indian Footpath

This picture taken of the trail along the Indian River in north Cocoa (now Indian River Drive) many years ago was once an Indian footpath. Later, horse and buggy, foot, bicycle, and perhaps a model-T would be seen along this road. Seeing only these things in the early days, you wouldn’t realize that this once upon-a-time footpath would become the first automobile route along the east coast from Jacksonville to Miami,and gained renown in the 1920s as the Dixie Highway – ‘From Montreal to Miami.’

During the expanding and boom-time years in Florida’s growth, the Dixie Highway ran right through the middle of the towns along the way and was a two day trip from Jacksonville to Miami. In the 1930s,passenger buses stopped in Cocoa, the halfway point, put their passengers up in the Cocoa House, for the night and continued the trip the next day. In fact, Forrest Avenue and Florida Avenue through Cocoa and Rockledge was called Dixie Highway.

Florida has always been friendly to newcomers, and who knows how many of our good citizens wound up here because of the hospitality of the old Cocoa House, with a promising view of the Indian River from its front porch, or that their auto broke down from the rigors of the rough trip on that old road.

Much of this information was taken from Those Days Remembered, an article written by Chuck Reed. Article provided courtesy of the Central Brevard Mosquito Beaters, Memory Book 2010, available at the Florida Historical Library, 435 Brevard Av., Cocoa Village.

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Porcher House was Once Cocoa City Hall

by Weona Cleveland

Mrs. Porcher died in 1937; Mr. Porcher in 1939. The home then was occupied by Mr. L.S. Andrews, his wife Mytice Porcher Andrews and children Lewis, Edward and daughter Norris until 1947. The house was then leased and used as a restaurant called Chip Ahoy. The Porcher house in Cocoa Village was built in 1916 by Edward Postell Porcher and his wife, Byrnina Peck Porcher.

Mrs. Pocher designed the home. It is an example of 20 century Classic Revival architecture, interpreted in local coquina rock.

A feature of particular interest is the integration of playing card symbols into the coquina around the front entry, representing Mrs. Porcher’s love of the game of bridge. This feature also has been carried through on the stone work at the rear entrance.

Edward Porcher was a pioneer in the citrus industry. He established the Deerfield Citrus Groves on Merritt Island in the mid-1880’s. He was the first to wash, inspect and grade his produce, and is credited with inventing a fruit-stamping machine, as well as a dolly for lifting the packed boxes of fruit.

He was one of the founders of the city of Cocoa and the Florida Citrus Commission. Mrs. Porcher was the first postmaster of Merritt Island.

In 1952, the home was sold to the City of Cocoa and used for a time as the Cocoa City Hall. The house underwent other changes, but eventually, the city restored the home and was able to have it named to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is used for special events. Note, picture below, river can be seen through carport at left.

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