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We are looking for more pictures, memories, and stories to add to the OLDORTEGA.com website.

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Homage to Helen Lane

Palatka's Sunnypoint 1930's

Old Ortega circa 1940's

Old Ortega circa 1950's

Old Ortega circa 1960's

Parties, Picnics, and Adventure 1950's

Mrs. Sisk's Kindergarten 1956

May Fete in Willowbranch Park

Ortega School 1950's-1960's

Atlantic Beach, 1960's

Bartram School 1960's

Debutantes 1940's-60's

Jeff Hartzer's Old Ortega story

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My formative years in Old Ortega looked something like this...

Joseph, Dorothy, and Jeff Hartzer circa early 1960's at 2950 Arapaho Avenue

 

 

Growing Up in Old Ortega

My life at 2950 Arapaho Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida from 1951 until we moved to 4162 McGirts Boulevard in 1963 was nothing out of the ordinary for those times. What was out of the ordinary was those times. I have a need to re-visit Old Ortega and it is my hope that you will join me here and at Facebook to express and if so moved, share your own memories experiences from one of Jacksonville, Florida's most original and fabulous neighborhoods.


Old Ortega is where my father, a Notre Dame graduate and Captain in the United States Marine Corps courted my mother at her river home at 4545 Ortega Boulevard. My grandmother and grandfather moved there after living in Palatka, Florida where they owned the Wilson Cypress Company and had a beautiful house also on the St. John's River called, Sunny Point. My grandmother Mrs. Marguerite A. Corcoran used to tell me about speaking German to the P.O.W.'s then encamped at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. She also drove me daily over to Roosevelt Boulevard to watch the five p.m. passing of the Seaboard Coastline Railroad passenger train.

My grandmother used to tell me of living next to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and how her maid Olive Oil would serve up frogs' legs for lunch. I still have a book , South Moon Under that is signed by Mrs. Rawlings with a nice note to both Marguerite and Arthur Corcoran thanking them for their support while she was writing her next book.

I grew up loving planes, trains, automobiles, and all sorts of water craft. Spanish moss waved and mockingbirds called out in my childhood. There were summers spent at Atlantic Beach, Florida with iced tea in cobalt blue glasses. Verona Boulevard was then just unpaved dirt ruts and many of my dogs sadly got hit by cars and had to go to Dr. Fish. There was the Gear family across the street who had a horse .My best friend Chip Gear's Dad was a Navy pilot. One day I heard that he had crashed his plane off the deck of a Mayport based aircraft carrier. Soon after, the Gears moved to a place called Albuquerque and were never seen again.

In 1981 I left Jacksonville, after many years of teaching at my old high school, The Bolles School. In a 1967 Mercedes 250 S originally owned by a Jacksonville Navy Admiral friend of my grandmother, I headed off to Tacoma, Washington 'to be a writer'. After four years in the Pacific Northwest, my future wife, Debra Landau,and I set offwith all we owned in that instant classic Benz, down to a place somewhat in between Jacksonville and Tacoma…Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The high desert Land of Enchantment is where poet and musician, Jim Morrison once lived as well as my childhood friend, Chip Gear, whom I was never able to locate. There is no rust in Albuquerque to speak of and yes, it is a dry heat.

The place in my heart where memories of being a kindergartner with Mrs. Sisk at the Good Shepherd, a bunny rabbit in the May Fete, a tuxedo-owning-escort for many Debutantes, caught trash can loads of fresh shrimp with a man named, 'Squint', survived pneumonia, premature birth and celiac disease, and came to know the kindest people in the world...is alive with Ortega River sunsets and the sweet dreams of Old Ortega.

Jeff Hartzer

Jeff Hartzer, Chip Gear

Jeff Hartzer and Chip Gear (circa early 1950's at 2950 Arapaho Ave.)

Leaving Jacksonville in 1981 is one of thehardest things I have ever done…There is a song I can relate too by Jacksonville's J.J. Grey (aka 'Mofro').
Here they perform in Brighter Days in Atlanta.

Brighter Days

Don't stop even for the right thing
does it matter what I say?
my whole world was by that river
flowing north to meet the sea each day
I don't want to move away.

You look at me and you say "what's wrong boy?"
What else do you want me to say?
I don't want to leave tomorrow
been and gone but I belong here now
Your big world can wait another day.

Brighter days where did they go?

I am hopeful for where I'm going
but I belong in The South
That was where I was born a poor boy
Living life like there's no end in sight
even so I've done without

Brighter days where did they go?

Boy, you're about to hit the bottom
I feel alone, I feel I'm moving there
To a land you never saw and I see you're about to hit the bottom
Lord help me move away to a land you never saw
and I've seen.

Brighter days where did they go?

 

Jeff Hartzer
Miss Melanie/Jeff at BunnytownUSA
photo courtesy AbqTheMagazine

GOOGLE "JEFF HARTZER"

 

 

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OLD ORTEGA.com Links:

Photo Gallery Index Page

Homage to Helen Lane

Palatka's Sunnypoint 1930's

Old Ortega circa 1940's

Old Ortega circa 1950's

Old Ortega circa 1960's

Parties, Picnics, and Adventure 1950's

Mrs. Sisk's Kindergarten 1956

May Fete in Willowbranch Park

Ortega School 1950's-1960's

Atlantic Beach, 1960's

Bartram School 1960's

Debutantes 1940's-60's

Jeff Hartzer's Old Ortega story

Random Access Memories Index Page


You Might Be From Old Ortega if...

 

 

 

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