Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #19
LEON TO GADSDEN
…Introducing the Ferrell family of Tallahassee…
The midday sun shines bright at Ferrell Hillside Estate, especially so in July, when the heat and humidity drive man and animal to a shaded area; for comfort and health. The natural kettles of the Mission Hills, on the northwest outskirts of 1896 Tallahassee, soak up the moist warmth like a sponge. Jack pine trees, trimmed with wisps of Spanish moss, dot the rolling knolls, thereby binding the loose sandy soil.
In the middle of this scenic bowl are the stately buildings that are the core of Hillside Estate. Several well maintained barns, framed by white wooden fences comprise the “farm” portion of the property. The three story house at the epicenter keeps the Ferrell clan in grand style, with the glistening waters of San Luis Lake in the distance. The pointed gables outnumber Ferrells on this four sided granite structure, a building more likely to be seen in New York City than Florida, but that is Martha Ferrell for you. This house is her castle, mostly because she needed coercion and coddling to an ‘Indian infested land surrounded by Confederate rebels’. These days, it would take a civil war to get her to move.
And move she does in her new Daimler motorcar, the one favored most by British royalty. She is hitting the open road on the just opened Thomasville Road, on her carefree way to Lake Killarney and a female friend who lives in the small Irish enclave there. She is wearing a white eyelet cotton frock, which gracefully follows the contour of her classically generous figure. Her perfectly coiffed strawberry blond hair is topped off by a wide-brimmed driving bonnet.
This little jaunt will use up the rest of this day and most of the next, with a side-trip to drop off children James and Agnes at a day camp at Maclay State Park, which is on the dusty trail.
“Agnes–James! Joseph has the auto started; let us be on our way!” The Ferrells’ manservant uses his field-honed muscles to crank the new engine into motion. Hopefully there is a capable someone at her destination or every time she needs a restart. No matter. Will she not look fine standing beside it regardless?
The Ferrell children arrive, prim and proper, if not overdressed for camp, armed with huge bags stuffed to the point where rope is needed to keep them from bursting at the seams.
“Please put our bags in the boot, Joseph.”
Looking at the available space in the rear, or rather the lack of said, the Negro helper says, “Yessum Ma’am, I thinks I can do it.”
On his way up the path from the stable, is John Ferrell, husband to Martha, father to 16 year old James and 14 year old Agnes. He has stabled his Saddlebred stallion, after spending the morning at Ferrell’s Grocery chain’s largest store; taking care of a good sized business, five miles and 45 minutes away on horseback from their San Luis Lake home. He slaps off the dust that has accumulated on his person, mostly because there are far more dirt roads and streets than hard surfaced, even in the Capitol city; three plus years from the approaching twentieth century.
“Hey, you Ferrells!,” he calls out, “I’m surprised to see you still here. You are burning daylight. Lake Killarney ain’t around the corner, Martha, closer to Georgia than Tallahassee.” There is genuine concern in his voice. He loves his family, though the time he spends working helps makes up for a general shortfall of attention given to him.