Voices from Wakulla County:
Betty Oaks-Green was born in Crestview Florida in 1933. Her father traveled around the state working on various road construction and airport projects from the Space Coast to Eglin Air Force Base. Betty remembers traveling in a two-room wooden house on wheels and just setting up camp wherever work required. Life on the road presented some coastal land purchasing opportunities for her parents, but five dollars an acre seemed awfully expensive at the time.
During the early traveling years, Betty Green's family made bi-annual trips back to Wakulla County to visit grandparents and relatives. Betty Green's mother returned to Crestview so her children could attend school. When her family relocated to Crawfordville in Wakulla County to care for ailing family members, Betty Green thought her life had changed forever for the worst.
Mrs. Green not only survived the school transfer, but came back to teach in Crawfordville after completing her degree at Florida State University. While in the educational field, Mrs. Green was able to witness the changes occurring from segregated to integrated schools. She also witnessed the changing locations and vocations of the post World War II era students. “After World War II there were so many jobs opening up. And the black people had found jobs in Detroit and all the manufacturing cities up North, so that when the war was over, they did not come back to their homes, because really there was nothing there for them.” But it was not just the black population that started to emigrate from Wakulla County. World War II had opened doors for numerous populations.
As the farming lifestyle began to subside in the county, so too did the fishing industry along the coast in both Wakulla and neighboring Franklin County. Betty Green believes state laws along with foreign competition have impeded local fishermen “to the point where they really don’t. . . catch enough fish to make a good living out of it.” She fears they are losing their heritage and their livelihood to vacation destinations and sports fishermen.
Click here to bring up an interactive recreation map showing the locations of artificial reefs and boat launching ramps in the ARROW region.
Mrs. Green is currently the President of the Wakulla County Historical Society. Her son, Dale Green, was shot just a few years ago while on duty as a Tallahassee Police Officer. Then, shortly after her son’s tragic death, she lost her husband. Through such great loss, however, Betty Green has managed to keep her focus on the history of Wakulla County. When the local newspaper was forced to abandon thousands of photographs due to a relocation and then a fire, Mrs. Green scrambled to save glimpses of area history.
Betty Green salvaged all the photos and now has dozens of plastic storage crates scattered throughout her house as she painstakingly documents the names and places of anonymous pictures.
The Historical Society’s nearly completed new museum—the site of the old Wakulla County Jail—will eventually house the old photos, along with other important documents and records.