1944 Plane Crashes Remembered

August 2, 2012

On July 20, 1944, two Army P-51 Mustang fighter planes crashed in our neighborhood killing both pilots and one civilian. The crashes damaged or destroyed eighteen houses and four apartment buildings, twelve garages and eight vehicles. On July 21, 2012, The Jenks House hosted a remembrance of the little know tragedy. Co-hosted by the Jacksonville Historical Society and emceed by local historian Wayne Wood, the event drew over 200 people. It began with Wayne showing a newsreel video and previously unreleased photos of the immediate aftermath of the crashes. The most sobering part of the event immediately followed as seven people spoke of their personal experiences, some quite graphic, of that day. Several, including R. Murray Jenks, spoke of knowing Lt. John (Jack) Egar, one of the pilots. Egar’s parents lived ½ block east of the Jenks family home, now our bed and breakfast. One speaker said that Mrs. Egar was actually outside raking leaves when the planes crashed. Reportedly she immediately sensed that her son was involved as he and his pilot friend had previously buzzed the neighborhood. The Jenks family home was the first residence damaged. Lt. Egar’s plane sheared off the top of a tall pine tree, which fell on the house. The pine tree survived but the Jenks family removed it months later at Mrs. Egar’s request. Seeing the damaged tree every day was too painful a reminder of her son’s death. R. Murray said that his family for years would find plane remnants in the yard as they gardened. Speaking of plane remnants, the morning of the remembrance Jerry Rowe brought us a fragment of a machine gun clip consisting of five 30mm bullets. His mother had found them the day of the crash.

For more information about the event and the 1944 crashes, check out the very well done Times-Union stories below. The first link is the background story that Charlie Patton and Nicole Fernandez did the morning of the remembrance. There are links to interviews with R. Murray Jenks and George Carswell who both knew Lt. Egar, links to the newsreel video, numerous previously classified photos of the damage and a link to the short version of one of the crash reports. The second link below has video of the actual remembrance including people talking about what they witnessed that day.



In 1944 Planes Crashed and Damaged The Jenks House

June 21, 2012

Lily Mains had told us the story.  So had  Nell Crews and Mrs. Waller, both long-time residents of Post Street.  Now we have the official, declassified  report of a WWII accident that even changed the the appearance of the Jenks House.

At about 7:45 AM on July 20, 1944, two P-51 Mustang fighter planes crashed on our street killing both pilots and one civilian.  The crash began just a few houses to the east of the Jenks family home.  The link below has newsreel coverage of the immediate aftermath of the accident.  At 32 seconds into the newsreel video, in the upper right hand quadrant, you see a hole in the brick wall of a building.  The hole, with a window above it and below it, is where the engine  of one of the P-51’s crashed into the bathroom of M. E. McGhee killing him as he was shaving.

We have just acquired the official government crash reports (one for each plane).  They are detailed, with lots of pictures and eye witness accounts of what happened.  In its Description of Accident it summarizes the incident:

“1.  On 20 July 1944 Lt. Egar was scheduled to fly a camera gunnery mission at 0700 EWT with Lt. Cope.  The flight took off at 0700, but Lt. Egar and Lt. Cope flew to Jacksonville, 180 miles distant, instead of performing their mission in the local area of Pinellas.  At 0745 Mr. Stanis Van Meensel, CAA Air Carrier Inspector, observed two P-51 type airplanes come over the city of Jacksonville at 1000 feet in close formation and dive in a bank to the left to a very low altitude over Post Street.  Lt. Egar was leading the two ship flight at an altitude of approximately 75 feet along Post Street, heading west.  At a point across the street from the home of his mother, 2749 Post Street, approximately 50 feet to the west, his plane sheared the top of a palm tree which extended about 10 feet above the high power electric lines.  The electric lines are approximately 50 feet high.  The plane then appeared to be out of control and lopped 10 feet of a pine tree at the next corner, James and Post Streets.  Skidding across the street, Lt. Egar’s plane struck a third tree, several houses, and a line of garages. The airplane was completely demolished and was scattered through a number of houses and yards. The engine went through an apartment building and fell in the street on the far side.  Lt. Egar’s body was found in the wreckage.

2.  The accident is due 100% to pilot error since the pilot was negligent in violating flying regulations and direct orders from his flight commander”.

The pine tree on the corner of James and Post Streets fell onto the Jenks home.  Enough of the roof’s clay barrel tiles were damaged that they re-roofed the house with asphalt shingles.  R. Murray Jenks, one of the three sons of Marjorie and Thomas Jenks, told us that years later they would still find small pieces of airplane in their yard.  The obituary for Lt. Egar said that he and Lt. Cope  “had developed a warm friendship and an understanding that when one was in trouble the other would come to his aid and that if necessary they would go down together”.


Down to Earth Farm and our front porch

April 26, 2012

Check out the news article about our friends at Down to Earth Farm. Each Tuesday, in season, Farmer Brian brings to our front porch just picked, organically grown produce. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members then come by to pick .up their produce. Many CSA members also pick up their pre-ordered, artisan baked breads from Sarah B., a neighborhood baker.



Neighborhood Home Tour April 16 & 17

March 30, 2011




Riverside Avondale Preseravtion, our historic district’s pre-eminent community organization holds its annual home tour on April 16 and 17.  Eleven historic homes, 1 business and two neighborhood schools are featured.   West Riverside Elementary School, one of these two schools, celebrates it 100 anniversary this year. Its auditorium has two  murals by Lee and Mimi Adams.  The Jenks House B&B was featured on the home tour of three years ago.  To order tour tickets go to the 1st link below.  Need a place to stay for the night?  Go to the 2nd link below to see if we still have guest rooms available.



Orange you thirsty?

January 28, 2011

Ambersweet oranges rock!

Our oranges are now ripe!
Our oranges are now ripe!

The oranges* from our organically grown trees are now ripe and they are truly outstanding.  Last year we harvested over 1,700 oranges.  Each morning we are juicing them for our guests.  We will finish harvesting them in about two weeks and will have hundreds refrigerated.  We will likely be juicing them well into April.  Come and enjoy!

*  For more information on Ambersweet oranges click on “Ambersweet oranges” under Blogroll to the right.

Radishes and Rain

January 19, 2011
I use rainy days in a special way in my garden.  Just before the rain comes I sow seeds and transplant seedlings.  With this last rain I threw out sorrell seeds and transplanted four different kinds of lettuce, a wonderful butterhead, a miniature romaine, a lovely red lettuce called merveille saisons, and a bibb lettuce.  We have one head of bibb left from the last planting.  Add a touch of arugula, a tossing of frozen sweet English peas, a powdering of freshly grated parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon to any of these lettuces and I get a delicous, delicately nutty flavored salad.  A sliced green onion and a couple of sliced radishes add pizazz as well.
I’ve had some good luck even in this drought.  My broccoli headed up beautifully and is now throwing out delicious side shoots.  I like it raw–so sweet. But steamed just until the last of the crunch is left is great as well.
I grew turnips for the first time and got real turnips along with the greens.  I have trouble with food that’s supposed to grow under the ground.  Getting radishes and beets to round out seems to be a challenge for me so this is a real triumph.   Roasting a chicken on a bed of turnips does wonderful things for both the flavor of the chicken and the turnips.  Stuffing the chicken with the greens makes a flavorful chicken broth or gravy as well.
Most exciting of all, we found a place in the garden to grow spinach where the bugs don’t grow.  The first batch grown in a dangerous spot looks like green lace but I’ve actually gotten two meals out of this second batch:  one for Tom and me and one for our guests.  Rub the spinach with some finely grated garlic and barely wilt it in hot olive oil.  It tastes great as a side or layer it in a fluffy omelet with a smidgeon of cheddar cheese for a delicious breakfast. The stunning dark green of the spinach makes any plate of food more beautiful.
Gardens need consistent care to be really productive.That’s probably why my first attempt at growing fava beans has not been successful.  They have produced lot’s of blossoms but no beans.  I think they probably needed more feeding and definitely more hand watering.  I’m going to try them again sometime because I have some great recipes for them.  I’ll just have to remember those waiting recipes the next time I want to take a siesta instead of hoeing a garden bed.

Dances With Rainwater!

August 4, 2009
Filter System Including 1st Flush Automatic Discard

Filter System Including 1st Flush Automatic Discard

1,100 Gallons Capacity!

1,100 Gallon Capacity!

Ila Rae was the inspiration for this new conservation measure at our B&B.  We have always been serious about water conservation.  In N.E. Florida rainfall can be very unreliable especially in the spring.  While our lawn has to be in its death throes before we water it, we do water our organic garden and citrus.  Using city water for that meant that we were often parsimonious with watering, sometimes to the detriment of our crops.  Now with an 1,100 gallon rainwater storage system we are more generous with our watering.  Our veggies, citrus and papayas (now 9′ tall) are loving it!  Tom had the system partially operative by mid-June and it has provided all of our outside watering since.  We can irrigate using gravity flow from the elevated tanks or pressurize the water with the pump from our old shallow well (dry for 20 years).  The catchment area of the garage apartment roof is 675 sq. ft.  A 1″ rainfall will capture 193 gallons of  rainwater.  With an average annual rainfall of 52″, we should be able to capture over 10,000 gallons of rainwater/year.  The filter system is multi-faceted beginning with gutter guard/screening.  The first 5 gallons of captured rainwater end up in our homemade 1st flush automatic discard pipe (4″ pvc pipe).  As this pipe fills with water a rubber ball floats up until it hits the bottom of a 4″ x 2″ bushing inside the top of this pipe.  This seals off the 4″ pipe and sends rainwater through the horizontal hub of the 2″ T to the 5 gallon red bucket.  The top of the bucket has a layer of window screening to catch any leaves, etc. that might have avoided the discard pipe.  Under the screen are two layers of blue window a/c filtering material.  Every couple weeks we check the bucket top for debris.  Once in the bucket, water has to rise about 8″ to enter the 3″ pipe that exits the bucket and leads to the four 275 gallon tanks in the garage below.  We invested about $650 in materials for this system.  We believe we can recoup that investment in 3-5 years depending on rainfall and planned increases in water/sewage rates.  If we had to pay for Tom’s  labor, the payback would be much longer.  We have always been  excited about rain falling on our garden and trees.  Now we get even more excited and have been known to head to the garage to watch the water level rise in the tanks during a heavy rainfall.  As I close off this entry, we have about 650 gallons stored and rain forecast for tomorrow.  While catching rainwater is a good idea, the system can be somewhat pricey depending on how elaborate it is.  Installing engineered, low-flow showerheads (2 gpm or less), installing 1.5 gallons/flush toilets and front loading, water and energy efficient washers will typically have better monetary paybacks.

Papaya Post

May 4, 2009
Dead papaya?

Dead papaya?

It lives!

It lives!

In late January, 2009 we had a  very hard freeze with the morning temperature dropping to 23 degrees F.  We had placed about 100 gal. of water in garbage cans around the base of this, our largest papaya.  We ran a mister all night long trying to keep the papaya alive.  The plant took a serious beating as you can tell from all the ice on it.  All the papaya fruit ended up in the compost bin  because of the freeze damage.  Now in late April the stump has sent out new growth.  In a month or two it will bloom and new fruit will set but probably not be large enough to pick by the end of the year.  If our previous experience is indicative, the new growth, currently at about 4′ off the ground, will  reach a height of about 15-20′.  As it grows taller it continues to bloom and set new fruit.  Our guests love these organically grown fruit with their breakfasts.   We like the challenge of trying to grow these tropical fruit in our sub-tropical clime.  Challenge it is as this is the only papaya  of five to survive that freeze.  Two years ago we harvested over 85 full grown papaya fruit from these plants.  We have just started new plants from seed and will soon transplant them  three feet from the south side of our home/bed and breakfast.  The red brick walls of the building will be heated by the sun during the day and then radiate that heat out toward the plants at night.  Hopefully, they will handle cold weather better there.  We look forward to leaning out of a 2nd story window and picking the fruit.  Using a swaying extension ladder gets a little unnerving when you are up 12-15′ in the air!

Welcome to The Jenks House B&B

December 16, 2008

Ambersweet oranges rock!

Our oranges are now ripe!

Our oranges are now ripe!

The oranges from our organically grown trees are now ripe.  Each morning we are juicing them for our guests.  From the tree 2 thee in less than 30!