Thursday, March 08, 2007

Orlando ’s Tallest Men

by David Parmer

Uncle Zeke, the Buzzardtown bard, was never without an opinion on any subject. If there was nothing important to write about, he would muse over anything that might be of interest to fill space in his newspaper column. One favorite subject seems to have been to detail the number of copperheads or rattlesnakes that were laid to waste by Joe Jeffries during the summer, or the number of eggs somebody’s hens laid, or the number of groundhogs that Arch Riffle shot some particular week. Zeke was also fond of telling about the car or truck accidents which had befallen his neighbors and friends. And, it was no small wonder that any vehicle could even travel on the muddy, “gone-to-hell road” that Uncle Zeke always complained about.

On one week in early 1934, Uncle Zeke apparently had not heard of any trucks going over the hill, or any huge snakes that had been decapitated, or any groundhogs that would eat no more, so he decided to tell his readers about the tallest men in the Orlando area. Now among some men and some women that seems to be a subject to satisfy curiosities, so Uncle Zeke put on his thinking cap and recited the tallest men in the Orlando area for his readers. Uncle Zeke listed his goliaths in no particular order although he did identify the tallest of the tall, Burton “Pate” Conrad as being over 6’6”. The other lanky fellows listed by Uncle Zeke were Bill Freeman, John Caynor, Pete Sweeney, “Dock” Heater, Marion Wymer, Pete Wymer, Troxell Skinner, E. M. Bennett, O. L. Henline, Coleman Jeffries, Polar Henline, Jennings Skinner, French Conrad, Ned Riffle, and Rolfe Bennett. Uncle Zeke swore that none of these giants of Orlando were under six feet tall.

Uncle Zeke was the pen name of Patrick Newton Blake, 1867-1951, pictured above.
For more from the Bard of Buzzardtown, click on: Uncle Zeke.

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