The Wild Wild FCA...E. Sears Young, class of 1967, sent in the below stories about students hunting down at Rainey's Lake. The lake, situated just south of and down the hill from the main building, eventually dried up in the mid 70s. Sears knew it in the 60's, when it was still a wilderness. For reference, it should be noted that the St. John's river, located only a few miles away, was a prime location for the filming of the 1930s Johnny Weismiller Tarzan movies.
"We used to hunt for rabbit and quail down by Rainey's Lake. We also used to have a hot plate. We only cooked on weekends but the Col. took it away towards the end of the year. Some of the other students complained. We were cooking bacon and potatoes and the fresh fish or rabbit we caught. After that it was sterno cans or wood. We used to keep the bass in the bathtub to keep it fresh.
The story about the alligator was true. From what we were told by the people that owned the lake, there was a woman who dove in to go swimming. She landed on an alligator. It killed her. Her husband tried to hunt it down and got one shot at it. He thought he had killed it but only blew off one eye. The alligator that bit a hole in our boat was about 13 feet long and only had one eye. The reason he attacked the boat was that as we were rowing across the lake one of the oars hit something and broke. It turned out to be him. The people that owned the lake told us they used to let the cattle walk to the lake to drink, also the horses, but they were losing them to the alligator. I had also been told the lake dried up some time later. Don't remember what year.
One of the other things you had to be careful of was crossing the golf course at night: wild monkeys. There weren't too many of them but you didn't want to meet up with one. I had only seen one when I was there. I did run into a couple of packs of wild dogs going down to the lake.
There was a set of woods about a mile behind the school that the locals used to tell us no one had ever spent the night in and survived. We used to wander in during the day looking for a rattle snake. There was a $500 reward for one longer than 5 feet. We found the shedding from a 6 to 7 foot one. We found where it lived but could never catch it.
There was also tales about a large cat that was killing cattle. It never ate them just killed them. The story went that a circus train turned over and they never caught all the animals. This is where some of the monkeys came from and the cat. Made you keep your eyes open.
The hunting and fishing was a story. When I arrived I met one of the students named Rick Cybulski. He had permission to fish on the lake. I was allowed to go the lake only with him then I had permission anytime I wanted to and if anyone else wanted to go they had to be with either him or me. Besides the alligators you also had cotton mouth snakes, rattle snakes, and some nasty turtles.
The hunting was something we never talked about. It was a 100 pointer. We were always very careful when we cooked quail or rabbit. The last thing we wanted anyone to know was that we shot them. There was a little problem about not having hunting licenses.
I don't remember any houses close other than the Rainey's at the lake. The orange groves were great when I was there. Next to the lake we would pick navel oranges the size of grapefruits. The grapefruits were another 50% bigger and almost as sweet as the oranges. The orange grove was owned by people that lived in N.Y. It hadn't been picked in 10 years and the Rainey's kept an eye on it for the owners. They told us if we wanted fruit to pick what we could eat.
We had become good friends with the Rainey's. They lived at the lake and owned it. They had a 17 year old daughter, and 15 year old son. Phil Jarmin, one of my friends was dating the daughter. The parents were nice and we did no damage. They would let us use their rifles. We didn't do a lot of hunting, we did get a few rabbit but it was hard to clean it in our bathrooms. The quail were easier. We cleaned one rabbit in our bathroom, boy was that nasty.
I do remember one day borrowing a little wood off the bed next door because the sterno can ran out. We need a little wood to finish cooking the quail. The bed we borrowed the wood from colapased about 2 in the morning."
"We used to keep the bass in the bathtub to keep it fresh."