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James M. Reed, 77-year-old Orlando resident, sits back in his "old rocking chair" today and wonders, "What ever went with the huge fields of grass which were so prevalent sixty some years ago?"
Reed explained that when he came to Orlando with his father [Emanuel Reed] on April 22, 1889, "there was nothing but grass, good grass, the finest grass in the world over the place."
Reed was hasty to add that he wasn't criticizing the modern age. "Now don't get me wrong. As far as I am concerned, I'd like to go back to those days and make another run, when the grass was so plentiful and nourishing. But there's one thing in this modern age I'd sure like to take with me, and that's the automobile. The 'horseless carriage' is a thing of the modern age, and it sure would have come in handy about 64 years ago."
Reed came to Orlando from Hegins, Pennsylvania via Larned, Kansas with his father in a covered wagon and settled down on a section of land just east of the present site of Orlando.
"In fact, Reed declared, "it was part of what Orlando is today. We settled on our spot and the town came later."
Reed explained that life wasn't so bad back then, "after we got settled down on our plot of grassland."
They raised corn, a little cotton and "quite a bit of wheat."
Reed married Lilly Lemery later and they lived on the same homestead until five years ago when they moved into Orlando.
Reed recalls a meeting with the Dalton boys one day. He was working "for 60 cents a day" in the first grocery store in Orlando, owned by W. W. Black.
"The Dalton boys, together with Bill Doolin, another famous outlaw, came into the store one morning," Reed related, "and bought a jug of whiskey. After I handed it to them, one of the boys gave me ten dollars and told me to keep the change.
"If I knew that they were going to be so famous in later years, I'd have kept that ten dollars but money went as fast back then as it does now.
"The only thing really different is that money sure is easier to come by today than it was then."
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