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PCR #148  (Vol. 4, No. 4)  This edition is for the week of January 20--26, 2003.
La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
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"....you're owed a memorial tree by me."

Dade City Cemetery sign
The Dade City Cemetery on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue where Dr. Paul Bearer's Memorial Tree was planted on Florida Arbor Day January 17, 2003, by Dade City's Parks crew.
Those were the closing words in "La Floridiana's" column of July 13-19, 2002 in La Floridiana, NPCR #122 in the article titled "Dr. Paul Bearer--Gone But Not Forgotten".

On Friday, January 17, 2003, I made good on my word by donating a Pignut Hickory tree planted in the memory of Dick Bennick, better known as fright show host Dr. Paul Bearer. The tree was part of Dade City's Florida Arbor Day celebration, which is sponsored annually by the Dade City Garden Club.

In an ironic twist of fate, as several old Pignut Hickories have recently died at the City's municipal cemetery, Dade City Parks Crew coordinator Connie Wilkerson asked me, less than a week prior to the Arbor Day planting, if I had any objection to its being planted at the cemetery. I told her that I thought that would be the perfect location!

Commemorative plaque to Dr. Paul BearerAfter giving my Arbor Day speech at the Garden Club, I began to track down the trees planted in this year's event. The last tree to be found was Dr. Paul Bearer's. Although leafless for the winter, his memorial tree is a beautiful 8' tall specimen. It is planted on the far eastern end of the Dade City Cemetery, just east of the large mausoleum. A bronze plaque attached to a small wooden post next to the tree proclaims "In Memory of Dr. Paul Bearer--Dick Bennick: Given by T.R.E.E. Inc. (my tree-planting organization) and Crazed Fanboy".

I can picture this as one day being a large tree with bare winter branches being silhouetted against a full moonlit night, draped with Spanish Moss--a fitting tribute to a wondrous person. To again quote from the July 13-19, 2002 column:

Dr. Paul Bearer's Pignut Hickory
Located on the east end of the cemetery, the good Doctor's tree is an 8' tall Pignut Hickory.
"Thank you Dr. Paul Bearer for bringing such joy to so many lives--you're owed a memorial tree by me."

AND NOW, A MESSAGE FROM NOLAN: I can never express enough how honored I am William Moriaty chose to make me a direct part of this commemoration by including the Crazed Fanboy name on the permanent plaque placed next to Dr. Paul Bearer's Pignut Hickory tree. Certainly all of us here in the Tampa Bay area feel very strongly about Dick Bennick and his contributions to television and movie fandom--only now his recognition extends to the entire world, via magazines and the internet, and we will continue to make whatever contributions we can to honor his legacy. Thank you Dick, and thank YOU Will for your foresight and thoughtfulness regarding this project. ---Nolan

And a Surprise Across the Street
Directly across the street from the Dade City Cemetery is Naomi Jones Pyracantha Park. This rather run-of-the-mill recreational park has quite a unique history. Where the current James Irwin Center building of the park resides was quite a bit of history....for it was a World War II prisoner of war camp that interned 250 hard-core German Nazis.

The Prisoner of War Special Projects Division of the U.S. Army established 500 such camps with a total capacity to furnish 378,000 prisoners to do agricultural labor, as much of the domestic farm labor force was serving oversees in this horrendous World War.

Prisoner of War Camp
This historical marker denotes the location of a Prison of War camp that, for a two year period during the Second World War, housed 230 hard-core German Nazis from Rommel's famed Afrika Korps.
There were 22 such camps in the state of Florida. Headquartered in Camp Blanding, Dade City's camp, known as "Camp #7" housed high-ranking officials from Rommel's famed Afrika Korps for about two years. The prisoners were put to work at the Dade City-Pasco Packing Plant (citrus fruits), the McDonald Mine in Brooksville (a limestone quarry) and Cummer Sons Cypress Mill in Lacoochee (harvesting and milling native Baldcypress trees).

Several former prisoners kept in touch by letter decades after their encampment. Others visited, and many fondly recalled the generally warm treatment they received in friendly Dade City during a very difficult time.

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.