Why was Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev so pleased to hear news from Mount Dora? What First Lady dazzled Mount Dorans with her shoveling skills? Where in the world was Pistolville? The answers to these and other questions about Mount Dora’s past will be answered when the W.T. Bland Public Library presents local author and historian Gary McKechnie as he share tales from his book ‘A Brief History of Mount Dora’ on Saturday, May 18 at 2 p.m.
Co-written with his wife, Nancy Howell, the authors’ in-depth research of city and county archives and historic documents was complemented by long-term relationships with local historians and residents who shared intriguing and entertaining stories in danger of being lost to time. The first local history to be published since 2001 was written in a casual, conversational style which will be mirrored in the presentation which will includes insights into ‘Honky Tonk Freeway’, the big budget film shot in Mount Dora; the nation’s largest Cold War era fallout shelter hidden somewhere underground in Mount Dora; and a salute to famed Mount Dora Topic reporter Mabel Norris Reese and her ongoing efforts to combat Sheriff Willis McCall’s reign of terror.
“We were amazed at how often Mount Dora made national, and even international news,” explains McKechnie. “Having lived here since 1992 and having written about Florida’s history for years, we both assumed we knew nearly everything about our hometown. But as we dug into the research, we realized we had just scratched the surface — and that’s what makes sharing this information with audiences so much fun. People have no idea how extraordinary this place is.”
McKechnie is a former stand-up comedian and National Geographic author who also wrote the nation’s best-selling motorcycle guidebook.
Admission to the talk on Saturday, May 18th at 2 p.m. is free and refreshments will be available. The W.T. Bland Public Library is located at 1995 N. Donnelly Street in Mount Dora. Signed copies of ‘A Brief History of Mount Dora’ will be available for sale. For more information, call the library at (352) 735-7180.