Lacoochee – Whatever happened to



Whatever Happened To. . . .


My parents, David Lee Curry and Opal Jordan Curry, lived in a house in the Cummer quarters in Lacoochee, Florida, when I was born on May 3, 1926. When I was old enough to remember, I recall the street in front of our house was a sand road and the sidewalk made of wood. The Harpers lived on one side of us, the Heads on the other. The McElveens and Joneses were across the street.

Later my father was promoted to foreman of Cummer Cypress Company’s power plant and we moved closer to the mill. I lived on that street until I graduated from Pasco High School in 1944 and went off to Atlanta to become a nurse.

Before I left Lacoochee I worked at the commissary for a year. The company doctor, W. H. (Willie) Walters had an office at the end of that building. His nurse, Mrs. Sabine, was very impressive in her white starched uniform and was my inspiration to become a nurse. Dr. Walters picked Grady School of Nursing in Atlanta for me to attend (1945-1948).

When I received my diploma in nursing, I returned to Lacoochee, planning to take the summer off before choosing a hospital and applying for a position as a surgical nurse.

Margie McClure North, who lived in Jacksonville, had returned to her parents’ home in Lacoochee that summer awaiting the birth of her and Wilbur’s first child. She asked me to go with her to Brooksville for a routine visit with Dr. Samuel Harvard, who had an office above Bacon’s Drug Store.

After Margie saw the doctor, we decided to visit the 25-bed, county-owned and operated, Hernando County Hospital where the baby was to be delivered. On meeting the hospital’s superintendent and touring the hospital with Margie, I was hired on the spot and spent the next 40 years there.

During my tenure at this location I served a stint as superintendent of the hospital and watched as the new 40-bed Lykes Memorial Hospital went up block by block. When a hospital administrator was hired, I served as director of nurses for several years before become director of the operating room.

At my retirement party from the 100-bed Lykes Memorial Hospital in 1988 I received many gifts including a bonus check and 40-dozen red roses. I told a reporter a lot of patients would have roses in their rooms. One of the most memorable thank you notes I received was one from a woman who said she had never received a rose before.

My first recollection of Dr. Harvard was seeing him step out of his Packard automobile, on a house call to the Pope’s residence in Lacoochee. He was wearing a white linen suit, with a Panama hat to match, and carrying a black bag as he walked into their front yard. I never dreamed that one day we would be working side by side in a hospital operating room. Nor that I would see him and Dr. Walters at work together in that same room.

I married Malcolm Shepherd of Brooksville on April 15, 1949. Nell Moody Woodcock was my Matron of Honor. Four years later the first of our four sons were born. Malcolm’s mother baby-sat the kids while we worked. We both enjoyed camping and traveled with the boys. Every summer we went to a different state.

After 29 years with Florida Crushed Stone, Malcolm retired and we traveled extensively in our 30 foot home on wheels, which he drove up until a month before his death in January 1994. I still travel, but now I take bus tours with a group of friends. I have been blessed with good health and have had a full life.

Today, at least one day a week, I join other volunteers to work wherever I’m needed in the ultra-modern 140-bed Brooksville Regional Hospital located three miles east of town. The highly visible medical facility is accessible from State Road 50 or Wiscon Road, a short drive from my home.

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