Oral Memoirs of Robert Hickey

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Title

Oral Memoirs of Robert Hickey

Alternative Title

Oral History, Robert Hickey

Subject

Ocoee (Fla.)
Riots--Florida
Race riots--United States
Apopka (Fla.)

Description

An oral history interview of Robert Hickey, a descendant of the Hickey family of Ocoee, Florida. The interview was conducted by Geoffrey Cravero at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, on February 26, 2019. Some of the topics covered include the family history of the Hickeys, growing up with his grandparents, John and Lucy Hickey, in Apopka, how John Hickey became a prosperous landowner in Ocoee, learning about the Ocoee Massacre and the resettlement of his family from his grandmother, interviewing his grandmother as an adult and conducting his own research about his grandfather’s landholdings, reflections on the Ocoee Massacre, working towards righting the injustice and honoring his grandparents, his closing remarks, the significance of his family dogs in his childhood, and carrying on his grandfather’s legacy.

Abstract

Oral history interview of Robert Hickey. Interview conducted by Geoffrey Cravero in Orlando, Florida, on February 26, 2019.

Table Of Contents

0:00:00 The family history of the Hickeys
0:03:39 Growing up with his grandparents, John and Lucy Hickey, in Apopka
0:05:33 How John Hickey became a prosperous landowner in Ocoee
0:07:12 Learning about the Ocoee Massacre and the resettlement of his family from his grandmother
0:14:23 Interviewing his grandmother as an adult and conducting his own research about his grandfather’s landholdings
0:17:07 Reflections on the Ocoee Massacre
0:19:49 Working towards righting the injustice and honoring his grandparents
0:24:38 Closing remarks
0:27:51 The significance of his family dogs in his childhood
0:30:16 Carrying on his grandfather’s legacy

Creator

Hickey, Robert
Cravero, Geoffrey
Allen, Josie Lemon

Source

Hickey, Robert. Interviewed by Geoffrey Cravero, February 26, 2019, 2019. Audio record available. RICHES, Orlando, Florida.

Publisher

Date Created

2019-02-26

Date Copyrighted

2019-02-26

Has Format

Digital transcript of original 36-minutes, and 07-seconds oral history: Hickey, Robert. Interviewed by Geoffrey Cravero. Audio record available. RICHES, Orlando, Florida.

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Multimedia software, such as QuickTime.

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video/mp4
application/pdf

Extent

1.62 GB
KB

Medium

36-minutes, and 07-seconds audio recording
15-page digital transcript

Language

eng

Type

Moving Image

Coverage

Apopka, Florida
Edgewood-Greenwood Cemetery, Apopka, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Hickey Subdivision, Ocoee, Florida

Accrual Method

Item Creation

Mediator

History Teacher

Provenance

Originally created by Robert Hickey, Geoffrey Cravero and Josie Lemon Allen and published by RICHES.

Rights Holder

Curator

Cravero, Geoffrey

Digital Collection

External Reference

Ortiz, Paul. "Ocoee, Florida: Remembering the 'single bloodiest day in modern U.S. political history'." Facing South, The Institute for Southern Studies. University of Mississippi, May 14, 2010. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.facingsouth.org/2010/05/ocoee-florida-remembering-the-single-bloodiest-day-in-modern-us-political-history.html.
Cordeiro, Monivette. "Ocoee will issue proclamation acknowledging 1920 Election Day massacre." Orlando Weekly. November 19, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2018/11/19/ocoee-will-issue-proclamation-acknowledging-1920-election-day-massacre.
Byrne, Jason. "Ocoee On Fire: The 1920 Election Day Massacre. Medium. November 23, 2014. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://medium.com/florida-history/ocoee-on-fire-the-1920-election-day-massacre-38adbda9666e.
Ericson, Edward Jr. "Dead wrong." Orlando Weekly. October 1, 1998. Accessed February 20, 2019.

Transcript

Cravero
…these here. Alright. So today is Tuesday, February the 26 th, 2019. My name is
Geoffrey Cravero and I am speaking with Mr. Robert Hickey in the conference
room of Trevor Colbourn Hall at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Mr. Hickey, thank you for speaking with us today. Uh, if you would, let’s begin
with some of your biography. Could you please tell us a little about where you’re
originally from and your upbringing?

Hickey
Okay. Uh, I’m originally from Apopka, Florida. That’s where I was born in 1947.
Uh, I was gonna speak a little to all of that by talking about my family in general.

Cravero
Perfect.

Hickey
Um, the Hickey Family. And I think that’s basically why I’m here. To talk about
my grandparents. And I’d like to start by first talking about them.

Uh, John Hickey. Uh, John Hickey was born March 1, 1871, in Moultrie, Georgia.
Uh, my grandmother, Lucy, uh—Lucy Silonia Lott, was born in April, uh—born
April 3, 1884, in Sneads, Florida. And, uh, she died in New York, uh, in June,
uh—June 26 th of 1990. And my grandfather died in—in Apopka at home in
September 1, 1955.5 Um, both are currently buried at—at the Edgewood
Cemetery in Apopka.

Um, it should be noted my grandfather both married previously—uh, he—I
think he had some 23 years on my grandmother. And, uh, he was married, uh—I
said previously. And their, uh, children from that previous marriage also in the
Central Florida area.

Um, uh, my grandmother, uh, uh, had six children from my grandfather. Uh,
John. And, uh, one of which was my mother, Dorothy. And, uh, Dorothy gave birth to me, as I said before, uh, January 9, 1947, in Apopka. Uh, soon after birth, my mother went to New York to, uh, make a living for herself. And I remained in Florida with my grandparents. And, uh, until I became—I guess until puberty.

But during that time, my grandmother would always take me to New York to
visit with my mother and other relatives and in-law. And eventually, I wind up living with my uncle. My mother’s brother, David. And, uh, he put me through school. All the way through high school. And after I graduate from high school, I joined the army. And I served in both Vietnam and
Germany as a helicopter crew chief. So, uh…

Allen
[coughs].

Hickey
…and, uh, after that time spent in the military, uh, I came home and I attended
state university in New York at Stony Brook [University]. And, uh, that’s where I
got a degree in education. And I was—served as an educator for like the next 25,
30 years. And I’m currently retired and reside in Queens, New York.

And, uh, I’d also like to mention at this time that I have a sister that’s the mayor,
uh, in Framingham, Massachusetts. So just need to say that. So all this from the
Hickey stock. So that generally speaks to the Hickey Family as a whole. Any
questions you have about them other than that, I’d be more than happy to
address.

Cravero
Um, what was it like growing up with your grandparents? With John and Lucy?

Hickey
Um, it was, um, a very warming experience. Of course, I didn’t understand it as
much then. Uh, you know, um, it was just the two of them and myself. No
television. Uh, uh, uh, just a typical evening would be spent, uh, with my
grandparents listening to the radio. Usually Oral Roberts or someone like that.
Maybe some hillbilly music, uh, out of the Ozarks. And, uh, eating oranges and
looking at the fireplace. And, uh, I would sit and listen to these two old souls talk
back and forth. And, uh, I—I really appreciate that now. I think that’s the
foundation for some of my, uh, learning and wisdom. Uh, you know? I think it
helps me to, uh, see things differently. So I—I really appreciate the time I spent
with my grandparents. And so I was with them until I said—until about twelve
years old. When I came north to live with my uncle. My uncle, who put me
through school.

So—but, uh, that foundation never left me. Uh, I was very happy as a kid with
my grandparents. My best friends were my dogs. Had about five to six dogs
usually. And th—they were my playmates. So—I mean I was happy. Yeah. So,
uh, that’s basically about my—my relationship with my grandparents. It was—it
was a good relationship. And I’m grateful.

Cravero
Um, what was the Hickey Family like, um, back in—when John and Lucy were
younger from—from their stories? Before that—the Election Day.

Hickey
Okay. Well, um [clears throat], from the things my grandmother told me, and
some of the friends of the family that was familiar with the situation, and from
some of the research I’ve done, um, they were prosperous. As were most of the
people in Ocoee from what I can tell. Uh, my grandmother, uh—grandfather was
very industrious. He, uh, had a lot of property. Uh, property which they sold.
I’ve seen a lot of copies of contracts where they sold stuff. Um, he also was in the
lumbering business. He distilled turpentine because he had this huge pine forest,
uh, p—a lot of pine trees on his property. So he would sell the lumber and he’d
make turpentine out of the sap. And, uh, he also ran a liberty—livery—delivery
business. He had an automobile and he had—did some delivery—delivery
services. So he, like—like most of the people in the area were very prosperous.
And, uh, they did well.

Cravero
Um, so what—did your parents—did your grandparents, uh, discuss, um, the
events leading up to the—that Election Day, November 2 nd , 1920? Um, what
the—what the overall community, uh, sentiment was like. And—and m—maybe
the—the months or year or so leading up to that.

Hickey
Well, later in life, you know, uh, a—as I got older, more so towards high school
age, when my grandma would come to New York to spend some time with us,
she would utter certain things. But I had no idea of the gravity of it all. Uh, you
know, I heard them mention Ocoee here, there. And, um, it was said, but it was
like, you know, not a whole lot. So—but she spent a lot—she’s told most of what
I know about it.

She told me about the time that the Ku Klux Klan and all of ‘em rode through the
community, burning down the homes and, uh, shooting up the place. And how
they hid out in the swamps in stump holes until, uh, it was over. And, uh, when
they came out of the s—swam—out of the swamps, uh, everything was gone.
Everything was burnt up. And, um, my grandfather, you know, some of his
livestock were still in place. So he did hook up the wagon to—with the mules
and stuff. And, uh, at night he sent—the next night I think or so, he sent her and
the children through some of the back roads to Apopka, where they had friends
to stay with. And, uh, he didn’t want to be with them. He thought they would stand a better chance if they were stopped. And, uh, my grandma did say they were stopped by some white men on horses. But they let ‘em go.

So he, uh—in the next day or two at night, he would travel through the woods
and the swamps and stuff until he finally made his way to Apopka to join them.
And that’s where they resettled. Luckily enough, he—he had property
somewhere—everywhere. So luckily enough, he had property in Apopka, also.
And, uh, a nice, um, citrus grove with orange trees and grapefruit trees. And so
he built a nice home on the grove. Uh, and as well as several other little houses
that he would rent to migrant workers that came in to pick oranges or work on
the muck, so to speak. You know? The, eh—the workers that picked the produce
and stuff. And, uh, so he would provide housing for them.

So—but he, you know—he was pretty old. Like I said, he was much older than
my grandma. So most of the time, when I knew my grandad, he was—eh, he’d
seen his better years, so to speak.

Cravero
Mm.

Hickey
Yeah. So—but, uh, like I said, he resettled in Apopka. Um, again, uh, I didn’t
know that we were lacking anything. Um, people would come by and speak with
him. Talk with him. And, you know, about how things used to be. And—and I
had cousins who said, man, you know? Mister—that grandad had a lot of
money. You know? People thought that perhaps he had hid some of the money
out in the grove and stuff. And, you know, I didn’t—I had no idea what they
were really talking about. But as I did some research, you know—to come across,
uh, articles that I read as to how he may have been one of the largest—had—he
lost more land than probably anybody else in that whole situation in Ocoee. And
to see his name in print: John Hickey Lost More than a Hundred and Some
Acres. And, you know. So, you know.

But, uh, s—I—so now I—and know he was a man of few words. He didn’t talk a
whole lot. You know? And now I have a better understanding of what was
probably bothering him. Yeah.

Cravero
Um, so [clears throat] do you have any—what are your, uh—did your
grandparents ever mention, uh, Mose Norman or J—uh, July Perry? Did they
have any relationship with either of them?

Hickey
Well, grandma mentioned—you know, when she was trying to tell me about
the—th—the—the riot. Or the—the—I think they—some people called it a riot.
Some people called it a massacre. She’d mention the fact that Mose Norman and
them—she tried to explain who they were. But I didn’t—you know how they
went and tried to vote. They all tried to vote. You know? I didn’t get whether or
not s—they were suc—successful or not. But the fact that Mose and, uh, July
Perry went and—and, uh, how he was murdered. J—July. Mose kind of got away for the moment. And that was supposedly the reason that they came into the community looking for him. And…

Allen
[clears throat].

Hickey
…uh, that was the reason for them supposedly, you know—but that’s one school
of thought. You know? That they were in pursuit of Mose and that’s why they
decided to turn the place upside down looking for him. And burned them all
out. Then again, you know, um, uh, how dare they have so much? You know?
Some people thought that, well, these people got all that stuff out there. And,
you know? They had more than a lot of the white people in the city had. So—but,
uh, yeah. That part. She—they knew. Yeah. They were always a close-knit
community. So, you know—so—but, uh. Yeah. She told me about th—the—you
know, the night when all that went down. You know? How they had killed Mo—
uh, July. Yeah.

And I didn’t get—like I said, I wasn’t sure whether or not they had any success at
voting. I think McKinley was—1920 it was. I—I think it was McKinley or
something. They were supposed to—they were all fired up about voting. They
were—they were excited about the opportunity. You know how that was. Paid
the poll tax and all that other stuff. And really wanted to do it [adjusts papers].
But, uh, they were denied. You know?

Cravero
Did they ever mention, um, where a lot of their friends in the community ended
up settling afterwards? Or—was Apopka like…

Hickey
Yeah. Apopka. Turned out to be a quite a few in Apopka and that area. You
know? Um, uh, I’m not sure what made Apopka the place. I just assumed that
they had property there as well. You know? Like I say, he had qu—quite a bit of
property all around the area. So, uh, I guess maybe that’s why they headed to
Apopka. Uh, you know? But it’s—there are a few other family members from
Apopka she—from Ocoee that settled in Apopka. Uh, but, uh—and that’s the
best I got it as a kid. You know? I mean I had no idea, uh, you know, what it was
all about at an early age. And, like I said, it was much later that I got an
understanding.

Hickey
And I did interview my grandma. One Saturday morning, a—a friend of mine
said, “Wow, Bob. Why don’t you interview Grandma and just let her talk?”
Because she’s w—a very few words. She only spoke basically when spoken to.
You know? And she’d answer your questions. That was basically it. So a friend
of my suggested, “Why don’t we take her out to breakfast and—and just ask her
some basic questions?” ‘Cause she was a history major, this friend of mine. So
she came up with some questions. And she just got her to talk. And that’s when
she talked about this thing in some detail. You know? And—and how they lost
so much. And—and how they were just grateful that they had their lives. And,
you know? And so am I. You know? I’m—I’m glad to have met ‘em. You know?

And then to read about John Hickey and h—his holdings. And I was most
impressed with an article I came across, uh, uh, uh, referred to Hickey
Subdivision. Uh, there’s a[sic] area in Ocoee right now, they still sometime[sic]
refer to it as Hickey Subdivision. And right at the intersection right now I guess
would be, uh, Ocoee-Apopka Road and Silver Star [Road]. Right in that general
area. And it’s like three blocks or more where he had this property that he had
divided up to more than 50 dissen—different parcels for sale. Uh, I don’t know if
he was gonna sell it all or if he was going to do some development. [inaudible]
—like the lots. So I don’t know if he was gonna try to develop it. But, uh, it seems
like he had some grand plans. You know? And, uh, I—that made me real proud.
You know? That he was thinking like that. You know?

And, uh—and like I said, you know, he lost quite a bit. But he was still, you
know, w—w—we wound up in Apopka, you know, in a nice orange grove that I
was raised on. You know? Three. Two acres. And all—all kinds of fruit trees. I
mean, tangerines, grapefruits, mandarins. I—I—I would say he had the only
mandarin tree I ever seen in the area. So, you know? Guava bushes. You know?
Um, tool shed full of all—whatever you needed. Smokehouse. Hams hanging.
You know? He—he lived a good life. He believed that. You know?
So I—I was real proud of that. But I didn’t—I just didn’t know. I just—it was a
matter of fact, you know? But after seeing what they went through and reading
about it, I got a great appreciation for it.

Cravero
Um, what are your own, uh, reflections on—on the Ocoee Massacre?

Hickey
Um, I think that, uh, it was a trem—quite an accomplishment. You know? It was
short period of time when—after the end of slavery. Slavery ended in 1865, and
here we’re talking about 1920. And, you know, 50 years or so later. Uh, a
tremendous accomplishment by these African-American people to build a—a
upstanding community, where most of them had. They weren’t lacking. They,
you know—they had some fellowship. A comradery amongst themselves. You
know? And, um, and—and i—they did well. They were thriving. And I mean,
uh, Mose and July Perry. I think I read something about Mose had a real fancy
automobile. He went to try to vote. [laughs] You know?

But, uh, I was impressed. And, uh, ‘cause I was real sad to see what happened to
them. That all of what they had, uh, all of a sudden on November 2 nd , 1920, the
pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness and all the thing that the American dream
is supposed to be about came to a squeaking halt for these people. You know? I
mean they in a f—in—in a matter of hours they had to flee for their lives. And,
uh, you know, for—for the next 50 years, there weren’t[sic] no black people in
Ocoee. 50 years plus. You know? So, um, it just seemed a little unfair, what
happened to ‘em. And, you know, it happened a—a—has happened other places.
You know? But, uh. Yeah. It was a bad thing. And like I said, i—it was, uh, pain
and sorrow. You know? I was pleased and happy about what I read. How they
lived and what they did. And then for it to end like that was, uh, bad. You know?
Very disheartening.

But—and now I understand why my grandad had—didn’t have much to say
about anything. And right ‘til the—the time he died, he—he was a very bitter
man. You know? So that—you know, that’s it. Uh, uh, so—yeah. So with that’s,
you know, um—I’m glad to know that they accomplished all those things. I’m
sad to see how it ended. Yeah.

Cravero
Um, can you talk a little about what efforts have been made to somehow right
the injustice? And—and what else can be done? What’s—what’s lacking?

Hickey
Well…

Cravero
[clears throat].
Hickey …um, I’ve heard things. Uh, we were contacted by, uh, a—a writer for
Associated Press. I forget his—Allen—I—I forget his—his name. But, you know,
he brought it to our attention about, you know, what happened then. You know?
And the injustices of it all. And what—the different type of, uh, movements. Uh,
people were trying to do some things to try to right that wrong. And, um, uh,
that’s why I was real glad to hear about Josie’s group and their efforts. And, uh,
when—and when they reached out to me, I—I was, “Wow. Yes.” I was,
“Anything I can do to help the situation.” And I’m grateful for—for that
organization, uh, and all the others. You and your group. And any way that,
uh—to right the situation as best possible.

I mean, you know, I don’t ever think there’s gonna be any type of reparations. As
a matter of fact, I s—did speak with someone, uh, regarding that. I spoke with
the same attorney that handled the Rosewood case. And, uh, you know,
explained who I was and—and what my concerns and issues was[sic]. And he
told me, said, “Well, you know, the Florida legislature said this is a one-time
deal. You know? This is not gonna set a precedent. This is it [claps hands]. Boom.
Bop. Boom.” I said, “Well, how can this, you know—it’s all the same.” But, uh,
that’s what I got from him. Okay? And, uh, I have notes on all of that stuff.

But, um, I’m happy to see that people are—the community is now integrated.
Uh, as a matter of fact, um, uh, aside from visiting, uh, Apopka, where my
grandparents’ ceme—eh, eh, burial site, you know—I do visit that, uh—them
whenever I’m in town. And—and I don’t know if I mentioned before that, you
know, I had a tombstone put out there for them, uh, a couple of years ago. An
inscribed at the base of the tombstone is a—is a phrase. It’s a little saying. It says,
“They survived”—excuse me. “They prospered in, and survived Ocoee.
November 2, 1920.” You know?

So right after I had that put in, the lady contacted me from the—you know, I’ve
been doing this. I spoke with City Hall in Apopka about the right way to go
about doing this. And the, uh, clerk from City Hall called me a couple of days
after it was installed. Said, “There’s a lady that wants to contact you. She was at
the cemetery. She saw this new tombstone you had erected—put there for your
grandparents. And she’d like to talk to you.” So, uh, this was [knocks], um, the—
from the historical society in Apopka. Uh, you know her name [knocks].

Allen
Francina…

Hickey
Francina…

Allen
Boykin.

Hickey
Boykins. And so then she called me. And she s—said, “I saw that saying.” You
know? So, you know, I was impressed that that got her attention. You know?
Because I want, you know—and I don’t want anybody—I don’t want them to be
known for that much. They did well there. And they survived it. You know?
The—the whole thing. So—but, um, you know? That’s basically it.

Uh, uh, so, uh, yeah. I will do whatever I can to keep the momentum going. Any
way I can help the organization moving forward. Uh, I—I will do that. And so,
i—i—making a trip like this. Hey, it worked. We worked it in. I was happy I
could be here. You know? I was coming. And so…

Cravero
[clears throat].

Hickey
…and, uh, the other thing that we’re gonna do, uh, my friends and I, we’re
gonna go out and play a little golf in their honor on Saturday in Ocoee [laughs].
So, you know, I—I—I’ll be thinking about ‘em.

Cravero
That’s fantastic. Well, we, uh—Mr. Hickey, we appreciate you making the trip
out here and sharing your story with us. And, um, do you have any final
thoughts you’d like to share? Anything else you’d like to add before we…

Hickey
Well…

Cravero
...finish?

Hickey
…um, again, uh, um, uh, I’d just like to again say that I’m grateful. And I’m in
full support of the Peace and Justice Initiative and all the other affiliate
organizations and individuals who have dedicated themselves to increasing the
knowledge of the p—events that occurred on November 2 nd , 1920. And that they
continue their dialogue and panel discussions with local scholars and—and
groups to try to, uh, bring back some type of truth and reconciliation in this
regard. And, uh, I pledge to do whatever I can to move the agenda forward.

Cravero
Alright. Well, thank you so much.

Hickey
So any time I can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to call.

Cravero
He’s looking at you [laughs].

Hickey
No. I’m looking at both of you.

Allen
[coughs].

Hickey
‘Cause you’re a team.

Cravero
Right.

Allen
Well, I just also want to thank you for coming out and doing the interview. It
means so much.

Hickey
Well, I—I want to thank you a—and y’all for what you’re doing. For having
interest in it. You know? I mean I didn’t—you know, I didn’t know that people
had that much interest in the whole situation. Okay?

Allen
I have a question.

Hickey
Mhmm.

Allen
So, eh, does—does your family now continue to tell the story to the generations
that have come in your family?

Hickey
I am the lead person in my family right now. Pretty much. See, I was mostly y—
you know, like I said, my grandparents had, uh—my grandma and my
grandad—that union that—there were six children. And out of those children, I
think I’m the oldest of the grands. You know? Um, and, uh, the rest of ‘em, th—
they don’t—they really don’t have an idea about this. Except when I tell ‘em—
my two nieces that I brought with me last summer, they were very interested,
you know? And they live here in Florida now. South Florida. And they were
very interested because that’s the kind of girls they are. You know? So, wow.
You know? So they intrigued by those type of thing. As a matter of fact, they
went out to Apopka and visited the historical society. And—and—and, you
know? So, uh, yeah. They have interest. But, uh, not many of ‘em. You know?
Uh, they have—they don’t quite understand.

Uh, you know, I—get together for Thanksgiving, I do some storytelling. You
know? But, and like again, I’m—I’m grateful that I have my—I spent my early
childhood with my grandparents. You know? I—I can’t tell you how invaluable
that is. You know? I mean just raw wisdom. You know?

Allen
When did you become aware of the world? So you didn’t have a t.v. And it is
you, John and Lucy. When did you become…

Hickey
Yeah.

Allen
…aware…

Hickey
Well…

Allen
…of what was…

Hickey
Well, those few trips that we, you know—I was a happy kid. My—my grandad,
he was—he couldn’t do very much. My grandma was still trying to work. My
grandma would take a bus to—from Apopka to Orlando to work in the kitchen
wa—washing dishes in the morning. She would do—catch the bus from Apopka
at about 4 [inaudible] in the morning. In the dark. My dogs would walk her to
the bus stop, which about a mile or so to what we called a “hard road”. Because
we lived down on the dirt road. So they would walk her to the bus stop in the
morning. She’d catch the bus into Orlando. And then the dogs came back and
they’d lay out in the front yard until I got up. I was pretty much on my own. Just
me and my dogs. I—I was able to get me[sic] something to eat and put on my
little shorts and straw hat. And my dogs and I were all over town the rest of the
day. People would say all they would see [laughs] a little—the dogs and a little
straw hat in the middle. The dogs—and I get emotional—took care of me. They
took care of me. I mean I could go somewhere, it started raining like now. I’d get
up on the big oak tree. It looked like a canopy. Rain would hardly hit the ground
sometimes. Later, I’d take a nap. And not that I was being neglected, but I was—
that was it. And this is before, you know, first grade, kindergarten. Try to do that
with a kid today.

Hickey
So from that little snotty nosed kid running around Apopka with his dogs to
retire as an educator, high school principal, Vietnam veteran, helicopter
mechanic, you know? It came from somewhere. So it was in the genes. If—if he
could do what he did, you know—and like I say, to see his name in print, and the
Hickey Subdivision, 50 plots of—on this map. It’s all laid out. How much did he
lose? And they were selling property all the time, too. So he was very
industrious. And, uh, you know, just—just pleased to be a part. You know? You
got any more questions for me? I—I’ll be more than happy to answer them.

Allen
Well, just a few. Um…

Hickey
You alright…

Allen
You said that your…

Hickey
…there, buddy?

Cravero
I’m fine.

Hickey
[inaudible].

Allen
You said that your grandfather…

Hickey
Mhmm.

Allen
…when he died, he was…

Cravero
[clears throat].

Allen
…bitter.

Hickey
I, you know…

Allen
How did he show it? How did he…

Hickey
He never…

Allen
…show…

Hickey
He loved me. I’ll say that much. Uh, he was—he was pretty old. Now I was born
in ’47. He died in ’55. Um, there were times that, you know, he was—his health
was failing. His mind was getting weak. Uh, but he didn’t, y—you know—he
treated me well. As he called me Bob. And, um, he—my aunt, who was their
baby girl, she was there. You know? The funny book reading. And she was like a
teenager and stuff like that. She tried to chastise me and he’d tell her she’d better
not. Leave him alone [inaudible]. [laughs] But, uh, uh, no. He didn’t talk a whole
lot about too much of anything. Some people would come by and visit. I had
cousins that came by and say, “You know.” Said mist—they s—my grandma
always called him Mr. Hickey. That’s what she referred to him as: Mr. Hickey.
And then some—some of my cousins was at—would come by—from like his
other set of children. Some of their grandchildren and stuff, they’d come by to
see him, too. And pay homage. And there was a good relationship between the
other siblings on both ends. And one of my cousins tell me, he said, “You know,
they said that—that grandpa—that when the banks and stuff was having
problems with the money. And he didn’t quite understand. So he went up to ask
the man at the bank, ‘Well, what ya’ll need?’” [laughs].

Allen
[laughs].

Hickey
They were having some—[inaudible] shut the banks down because the money
wasn’t flowing right. So he went—made ‘em—“Well, how much you need?”
[laughs]. They thought that was funny. You know?

So, like I said, people thought there was money buried out in the orange grove
and stuff. You know? But I don’t know whatever happened. It may have been.
You know? But, uh, uh, I think he lost a whole lot. And, like I say, he not only
lost property with that situation, but I think he lost dignity as well. And I think
that’s the reason that he was so bitter. You know? Because he was used to being a
self-sufficient, standup man. And the—to lose everything like that. And he
couldn’t do anything about it.

And I’m not sure how all of his land was lost. I—I would be anxious to see the
records on how land was transferred from that point on. Because, uh, I’m
thinking that when he may have been weak and not well, that he may have had
visitors to his home to coerce him into doing some things that maybe he wasn’t
really f—willing to do or wanted to do. And, uh, I’m thinking some of that could
have—it [inaudible]—you know? Because he was too much of a businessman.
Too smart. And, uh—and I just think that, uh, it was just taken from him.
So that’s why I’m curious to, uh, see what it looks like now on the corner of, uh,
Silver Star and, uh, Ocoee-Apopka Road. You know? So—but, uh, that, I want to
take a look at.

Allen
I don’t have anything else.

Cravero
You good? Alright. Well, thanks again, Mr. Hickey. This has been, uh, Geoffrey
Cravero with Robert Hickey in the conference room of Trevor Colbourn Hall at
the University of Central Florida in Orlando, on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.

Hickey
Yeah. Thank you.

Cravero
Sounds good. Thank you.

Allen
Thank you.

Citation

Hickey, Robert, Cravero, Geoffrey, and Allen, Josie Lemon, “Oral Memoirs of Robert Hickey,” RICHES, accessed July 25, 2024, https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/11060.

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