Publisher’s Perspective: Historical Series No. 69

Posted on 30 June 2011 by LeslieM

Since our family, the Eller family, has lived in Deerfield Beach since 1923, I’ve often been asked to put in writing some of the history of the area, either experienced personally, or that I heard from my parents or grandparents. For some of you old timers who might be worried about certain old “scandals” don’t worry. I won’t be writing about those (smile).

— David Eller, Publisher


College life was good, but not always fair

In my last Historical Essay, I shared about my first day in college at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where I played a guitar with my new friend, Bob Bidwell, learning rock and roll. I then went out and pigged out on green olives the first evening, making myself sick.

My first roommate in that dorm turned out to be a rather difficult fellow named Dale from New Jersey, who did not want to be there and was determined to make both our lives miserable. He succeeded for a few days before I was able to arrange to get a new roommate who was more compatible.

David Eller and Bob Hutson

His name was Bob Hutson from Tampa, Florida, a quiet type fellow engineering student whose family owned an orange grove and who could have been a twin of the movie star Tom Selleck. We soon found out that he could attract the ladies with his tall good looks and I would schmooze them along with personality and guitar. We made a good team and had a great time the rest of our five years together in college as engineering students, 2½ at Stetson University in DeLand and 2½ at University of Florida in Gainesville.

Since I was on a scholastic scholarship, however, I had to make exceptional grades to keep my scholarship. Fortunately, I had had a high school teacher named Joe Calis at Pompano High School who had given me some good advice. He told me, “David, when you get to college, it is very important for you to make really good grades your first semester. If you make mostly A’s your first semester, the professors the second semester will know you are a good student and will ‘carry you’ going forward, giving you the benefit of the doubt and blaming themselves if you’re not doing quite as well in their class. They will grade you up. Meanwhile, most of your freshmen classmates will be partying their first semester, many flunking out. So, their second semester, they will have to study all the time and you can ‘take over’ their first semester girl friends. It’s a win/win for you.”  He was right, and it worked. Life was good.

Wally Smith was another friend I made on our dorm floor. His nickname was “spider” because he was real skinny with long legs and could literally walk up the wall in the hallway by spreading his legs out to each wall and jerking each leg up in spurts until he could touch the ceiling with his hands. He once bragged that he could get us good seats on Saturday night in the normally crowded theatre in downtown DeLand. When we got there, he bought a small bag of popcorn and water which he mixed together and took it up to the balcony of the theatre, telling us to stay below. He then leaned over the balcony, over the best seats in the theatre, and made loud “throw up” noises as he scattered the wet popcorn on the people down below. They started jumping up and running to the rest rooms to remove what they assumed to be nasty stuff. Wally ran down and directed us college boys to assume the great seats, which had just emptied. We tried not to look at them or smile when they came out of the bathroom and went down to find new seats down front.

Life was good, but not always fair.

David Eller


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