Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

His Floridiana is colorful, historic

Former history teacher Don Ball has collected more than 1,800 citrus packing labels. You can see some at a lecture Wednesday.

RITA FARLOW | Times (2008)

Former history teacher Don Ball has collected more than 1,800 citrus packing labels. You can see some at a lecture Wednesday.

Not too long ago, before urban sprawl and development rolled in, much of Florida's landscape consisted of citrus groves, and the sweet smell of orange blossoms filled the air. It's a bygone era that Don Ball revels in.

Related News/Archive

Ball, 68, a fifth-generation member of one of Florida's pioneering families, will speak Wednesday to the Seminole Historical Society about the history of local citrus growers and his collection of more than 1,800 citrus packing labels.

The free event is at 7 p.m. and is open to the public at the Seminole Recreation Center, 9100 13th St. N, Room 210B.

Ball will discuss how the labels were used to advertise the citrus industry.

"This is among the earliest form of Florida advertising that exists," he said. "Growers used different subjects on the labels to catch the eye of produce buyers at the auction houses up North."

Some of the subjects Ball refers to include landscapes, women, children, animals, birds and scenes similar to those created later on by the Florida Highwaymen.

"They are absolutely incredible works of art," he said. "They are very colorful and come in three basic sizes: 3 by 9, 7 by 7, and 9 by 9. Each one has a story behind it."

Ball, a Largo resident, will be showcasing some of the local labels he has collected. One, titled Airview, was used by a packing house in Seminole. Set against a dark blue background with yellow lettering, it depicts undeveloped south Pinellas County featuring the Pier. He will give away a card stock copy to those who attend.

Ball's ancestors were citrus growers in Brevard County near the Indian River, but he spent most of his life away from the groves, teaching American history at Dixie Hollins High School and serving as a district executive and field director for the Pinellas Area Council of Boy Scouts of America.

It wasn't until 2005 when he was gifted with a vintage citrus label that he began to reconnect with his roots and started collecting the brightly colored illustrations, going to flea markets and label shows and browsing eBay.

"Once you're hooked, you're hooked," he said. "It rapidly grew into a passion that I overlooked most of my life. Being a fifth-generation Florida citrus family, I should have been more involved in that aspect of collecting."

Ball's collection goes from the 1880s to the 1950s and includes an original from his family's Confidence brand, dating from the teens to early 1920s. It features a Victorian child with a white dove on her hand and oranges in the background.

"It has such a special family meaning," he said.

For more information, call (727) 391-1433.

Things to do

For the Get out! calendar of other area events, see pages 15-16.

His Floridiana is colorful, historic 06/16/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 7:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politica

  2. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84


    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  3. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  4. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  5. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.