April  2018 
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

We congratulate the Mandarin Community Club for hosting their 50th Annual Mandarin Art Festival March 31 and April 1. The Art Festival has become a tradition in Mandarin that families have looked forward to for generations - it has so much diverse and wonderful art for sale by artists from all over the country, children's art, music, food, homemade baked goods, prize drawings and just plain good old community spirit.

Please visit us in the historic 1911 Store and Post Office when you come to the Art Festival, as we will have volunteers there both days of the festival. We will be honoring two special artists from the past inside the store - Charlie Brown and Memphis Wood. Charlie and Memphis were long-time friends, artistic soulmates, and two of the founding artists of this very festival. We will have a small display of their work for you to enjoy as we remember them fifty years later!

On Saturday from noon to 3pm, local artist John Kenning will be at the store hand coloring his prints of the Store and Post Office and the Community Club. John donates the proceeds of his sales to the two organizations.  We will also have some of Brenda Councill's "Mandarin Series" prints available. There are very few of these left - anywhere! And frogs! We will have lots of pretty frogs.

Also,  both days, you can enjoy the acoustic music of MMHS Board member Patrick Plumlee and other local musicians, as they play for your pleasure at the Food Tent.

FREE OFF-SITE parking and shuttle will be available as there is no parking at the club:
  • Alberts Field (corner of Brady & Orange Picker Roads)
  • Mandarin Masonic Lodge #343 (2914 Loretto Road, 32223)
The Mandarin Museum and the 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse will be open as usual on Saturday - in Walter Jones Historic Park, from 9-4.

Detailed festival information can be found at


Sandy Arpen
"Why Do I Love Millie?"
 Book Event
April 14
11am - noon

We are so excited to offer a very unique opportunity for children and families to come together for a special book reading and discussion of bullying. Retired teacher, administrator and professor of education, Betty J. Bennett, PhD is passionate about children of all ages and has helped teachers, students, and parents alike in efforts to diminish the prevalence of bullying in our society.

Dr. Bennett, who lives in St. Johns County, decided to write a picture book for children that shares the story of a young girl named Helen who is tormented by bullies at school and how she discovers a loving and perceptive friend. In "Why Do I Love Millie?" Helen finds help where she least expects it in coping with the mean girls at school. Millie is Helen's faithful dog with whom Helen shares the difficulties of her day. The reading level of the book is elementary, however the message and the discussion will be appropriate for all children and parents.

This beautiful book was illustrated by Ed Gamble, former editorial cartoonist for the Florida Times-Union and currently a nationally syndicated cartoonist for King Features.  Mr. Gamble, and his wife Saundra have lived in Mandarin since 1981. He will be happy to autograph, along with Dr. Bennett, any books purchased after the presentation.

The reading will be held in the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children in Walter Jones Historical Park, 11964 Mandarin Road. Reservations are required due to space limitations. Please email us at with your name and number of attendees. If you are only interested in purchasing the book and meeting the authors, you may come at noon. For more information, please call (904) 268-0784.

There are still a FEW tickets left for
 Laughs for Charity  

If you have yet to get your tickets, call us ASAP at 268-0784 and reserve them. 

MMHS was selected as the major beneficiary of the Rotary Club of Mandarin's big  event on  April 19 - and all funds donated to us will be used for the Museum Expansion.

The annual "Laughs for Charity" typically draws over 300 guests to the The Comedy Zone at the Ramada Inn and helps the Mandarin Rotary raise  money for non-profit projects in the community.  
Your ticket includes heavy hors d'oeurves, two drinks, auctions and a really funny family comedy show. It is a fun night for everybody...and all for great causes in the community.

Don with his "Bouquet" from Folio Weekly
Congratulations to Donald Bowden
Recipient of the 2018 Miss Aggie Award

Most of you have already heard, but we were pleased to award Mandarin's Frog Man with the very first Miss Aggie Award given to a male.

After much thought and discussion, the Board  decided that since we are honoring a person for the characteristics that Agnes Jones had - charitable giving and love of the community of Mandarin, that there really was no reason to limit it to females.

Three years ago the mysterious Frog Man came to MMHS and offered to help raise some funds for the schoolhouse renovation by selling a few frogs. He then asked if we'd like to keep selling them in the Museum gift shop...and as they say, "the rest is history!"

Thank you Don Bowden for your very charitable giving and for the deep  love of your community! 
Volunteer Spotlight - Gene Schecter 

Gene at his favorite place, the schoolhouse.
"My wife was so ready for me to get back into volunteering," says Gene Schecter, a retired teacher who joined us in 2017.
Gene was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey where he lived until he went to the University of Miami, where he majored in history.  His years as a teacher took him to Florida, Maryland, Germany and England before he spent his last 24 years in the classroom back in Pennsylvania.   His teaching experience abroad was with the Department of Defense. 
"I retired and we lived in Massachusetts near our children.  While there I became a Red Sox fan and volunteered in Marblehead at the Jeremiah Lee Museum," he said.
Gene is the kind of volunteer who becomes immersed in the history of his current assignment. He has great stories of Jeremiah Lee (a man who was planning to sign the Declaration of Independence, but died of pneumonia just months prior to the signing).
The Schecters are in Northeast Florida to be near their daughter and grandchildren.  He is a very faithful volunteer who loves the history of the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for  African-American  Children.  He also is quick to help when a light bulb or smoke alarm battery needs changing!
We are fortunate that he is available two Saturdays each month and appreciate his wonderful spirit of volunteerism.

Paula Suhey, Volunteer Coordinator
Looking Back on March
A Busy Month Indeed! 
The first weekend in March brought the Late Bloomers Garden Club to help remove invasive species in the park for the city-wide clean-up day. These ladies, a few Board members and a community member made a huge difference going down the walk from the farmhouse to the river. THANK YOU SO MUCH for giving this time and effort to beautify Walter Jones  
Historical Park.

Northside Elementary came for a field trip in March and had a great time, as well as learning lots about old Florida. Thanks to Florida Blue for their sponsorship of this school and to Pat Plumlee, Bruce Vacca and Karen Roumillat for leading the tour.


The March Frog painting was a blast!

And, everybody had a big surprise when two wonderful young people, Brett Nolan and Chelsea Stanch, painted two old abandoned concrete street markers. One was at Loretto and Flynn and the other at Mandarin and Store Lane. What a wonderful job they did bringing these old posts back to life. These were county road markers before Consolidation. Thanks so much to them for this service to the community. Brett is now an MMHS volunteer and will soon be doing a monthly article on Mandarin history for MMHS in the Mandarin Newsline - it will be called "Back in Time with Brett!" Look for it in the May edition.

As a side note, Brett tells me that it was Chelsea who earned her Girl Scout Gold Award for creating the Butterfly Garden at the museum many years ago. We thank her for that and both of them for these wonderful signs.

Our Board member, Anne Morrow represented MMHS at the annual Carrie Clarke Day event, put on by the Historical Society of Orange Park, passing out lots of info about Mandarin and learning about the history of Orange Park. Check them out by clicking HERE

right here at the end of the month, Board member Gabriele Dempsey and MMHS member/Past President John Cooksey have tackled the falling-down fence around the Sawmill. What a much needed job that was. Thank you both!
And Tracey Arpen got the front porch of the Store and PO all cleaned up for the Art Festival. We also had a great group helping clean the inside of the store - Thanks to all. We could not exist without our volunteers - NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!!!!!


Don't you want to join in the fun??? Email Paula Suhey at and she'll get you set up. 
    Meet the Divers Day     
The monthly "Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" day
 at Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Historical Park. 
Look for the Maple Leaf  divers next on Saturday, April 21 - from 12-4.

Meet and talk with Dr. Keith Holland and the men who found the
Maple Leaf shipwreck and recovered the Civil War artifacts from this National Historic Landmark site in the St. Johns River at Mandarin Point. This is a unique and special opportunity to learn about Civil War history.
Historic Store and Post Office Open
The historic 1911 Mandarin Store and Post Office is open  on Saturday, March 31 from 10-5 and Sunday, April 1 from 10-4 during the Mandarin Art Festival. Located at 12471 Mandarin Road. You can even sit a spell on the front porch or play a game of checkers. 
The old Mandarin Store and Post Office evokes memories of small town and village general stores across America. It was the hub of village life from the time it opened in 1911 until it closed in 1964.   

 "Under the Oaks" Music Jams
No jam April 1 due to Easter and  the Mandarin Art Festival  - hear some of the musicians performing there in the Food Tent.

The next monthly "Under the Oaks" music jam will take  place on May 6 at Walter Jones Historical Park from 2-4, WEATHER PERMITTING! Bring an acoustic instrument if you would like to play - listeners are always welcome. Everybody bring a lawn chair. The Mandarin Museum and St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children will be open during this event.  This event is co-sponsored by the North Florida Folk Network.

Kathy and her dog Tanner

Third Thursday Lecture
May 17
The Wilderness of North Florida's Parks
Jacksonville artist Kathy Stark offers a unique and family friendly exploration of the extensive system of natural parks in North Florida. Her book The Wilderness of North Florida's Parks combines Stark's lush and expansive watercolor paintings with sketches, notes, historical facts and maps to create a work that is a both a guide and handbook, as well as a tribute, to the great unspoiled stretches of the region.
The Wilderness of North Florida's Parks was published in partnership with the Timucuan Parks Foundation , with a portion of the proceeds supporting that nonprofit, which advocates for North Florida's parks.
Kathy will give a very visual power point presentation using her park painting images and photos from her adventures in our parks, highlighting information most people don't know about the various parks. She will touch on the history contained within them and will offer tidbits about how she as an artist goes about painting the large scale watercolors.
She will bring a print of her large project map to show and a few original park sketchbook journal pages and park watercolors. Kathy's book will be for sale before and after the event, and she offers a chance to win a small print when you buy a book. And, she will happy to sign books she sells as well as ones you have already purchased somewhere else.
Third Thursday Lectures are presented by the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society in partnership with and at the Mandarin Community Club, 12447 Mandarin Rd. Refreshments begin at 6:30, with the lecture at 7. It is free and all are invited and encouraged to attend and invite a friend.  


  • March 31 and April 1: 50th Annual Mandarin Art Festival presented by Mandarin Community Club. MMHS will have the Store and PO both days.
  • April 1: NO music jam this day; musicians in the Food Tent at the Mandarin Art Festival
  • April 14: "Why Do I Love Millie" book event with author Betty J. Bennett, Ph.D. and illustrator Ed Gamble, 11 am - 12 pm
  • April 19: Rotary Club of Mandarin's "Laughs for Charity" event
  • April 21: Meet the Maple Leaf Divers, 12 pm - 4 pm
  • May 5:  Store and Post Office open, 12 pm - 4 pm
  • May 6: "Under the Oaks" music jam, 2 pm - 4 pm
  • May 12: Frog Painting, 10 am - 12 pm
  • May 17: Third Thursday Lecture, 6:30 pm - 8 pm at Mandarin Community Club
  • May 19: Meet the Maple Leaf Divers, 12 pm - 4 pm
  • June 2: Store and Post Office open, 12 pm - 4 pm
  • June 3: "Under the Oaks" music jam, 2 pm - 4 pm
  • June 16: Meet the Maple Leaf Divers, 12 pm - 4 pm
  • July 1: "Under the Oaks" music jam, 2 pm - 4 pm
  • July 7: Store and Post Office open, 12 pm - 4 pm
  • July 21: Meet the Maple Leaf Divers, 12 pm - 4 pm
  • September 22:  Smithsonian "Museum Day Live" event
  • December 1: 19th Annual Winter Celebration in Walter Jones Historical Park

Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children  are open every Saturday from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park . (11964 Mandarin Road)

The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road)  is open from 12-4 on the first Saturday of every month, except March 31 and April 1 - Art Festival Weekend - when it is open from 10-5 on Sat. and 10-4 on Sunday. 
School tours and adult group tours are scheduled during the week by appointment. Call 268-0784 or email us at
Follow us on Facebook. Click here to check it out.   
Memphis Wood
Memphis Wood and Charlie Brown
In closing, we can not think about artists or the Mandarin Art Festival without remembering two of the greatest Mandarin artists of long ago - both passed in the late 1980s. As a matter of fact, they were two of the 20 or so artists who were part of the very first festival in Mandarin. They are always greatly missed, this time of year especially.

Charlie Brown

MISSION: Mandarin Museum & Historical Society shares the stories of Mandarin's history, culture and natural resources by providing engaging programs that educate, entertain and inspire.


Mandarin Museum & Historical Society 
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