Lacoochee – Night watchman



A Round With the Night Watchman

Groover house behind the Cummer pay office. Photo courtesy of Wayne Groover.


There he goes again, I said to myself as the old man with the large clock hanging by his side walked on the road in front of our house where I was playing on the porch in Lacoochee. By the time I saw him walking by a second time, I had built up enough curiosity to ask Mom and Dad if I could run after him to see where he went, and what he did. After thinking for a few seconds, they decided that it couldn’t hurt anything, so I ran out to the street to ask if I could go.

“All right with me,” Mr. Crawford responded.

For the next hour, Mr. Crawford, one of the night watchmen for the Cummer Cypress Mill, and I walked his hourly round. Every so often we would stop so he could open a box on a wall, take out a key and punch it into the clock that he would lift clock face up to check the time and make the necessary key turn.

Our first stop was at the end of the crate mill, then we walked on to the veneer mill where the workers were “pulling” an evening shift which involved taking sheets of wood from a Coe Dryer. The workers would stop for a moment, greet Mr. Crawford and one would say, “So, I see you have a helper with you tonight.” I don’t recall his response, as I was too busy looking into the large oven type dryer and drinking in the pungent wood smell.

On our round, we walked from one section of a mill to another so Mr. Crawford could make the necessary key punches. By the time we had walked from the crate mill, through the veneer mill, past the power plant, through the sawmill and into the planing mill, it was time to head back toward our starting point.

After completing a few rounds though the mill that summer, my eight year old curiosity must have been satisfied, because I stopped waiting to tag along. Occasionally, when I caught a glimpse of Mr. Crawford, thought of how I knew where he was going, and what he would be doing.

Today each time I look at a treasured enlargement of an old photograph that was made from the corner where Mr. Crawford turned to continue walking east in front of the pay office and then past the front porch of my house next door, I am reminded of wonderful memories of Lacoochee, my rounds with the night watchman among them.



Wayne Groover is a retired school teacher who lives in Orlando, Florida, where he taught in the Orange County Public School system for 44 years.

His sister, Melanie Groover Breckner, lives in Foley, Alabama. She is a retired high school counselor who worked for many years in the Georgia Public School System.

Their mother, Alice Lee Groover from Orlando, taught elementary grade school in Lacoochee, where she met and married their father Joshua (Josh) Groover on July 7th, 1939. Josh was a bookkeeper for Cummer Sons Cypress Company in the company’s payroll department.

Josh arrived in Lacoochee from Bradford County, Florida, in the summer of 1927 as a lad of 14 and lived with his older brother James Briton “Brit” Groover who was a lumber inspector at the mill where Josh soon found work.

Melanie Groover was born on November 18, 1940 and Wayne Groover in 1943, at the hospital closest to Lacoochee, the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Dade City.

The Groovers eventually moved to Dade City on March 1, 1955, after Josh accepted a teller’s position at the Bank of Pasco County.

Watch for more stories about the Groovers and life in Lacoochee. Wayne has many more to tell.

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