The Way We Were: Anis Ira Daley and Barney Daley

The Way We Were: Anis Ira Daley and Barney Daley
Muffet Rhyne, Cameron Crowe, Susan Hamner, Anis and Barney Daley, Annie Pajcic

When Dr. Gordon H. Ira Sr., bought a parcel on the Black Creek in the 1950s, his daughter, Anis Ira Daley, an Ortega resident, never dreamed five generations of her family would still enjoy the rustic retreat more than 60 years later.

Even compared to a hang-gliding trip in New Zealand and a fly-fishing trip in Canada, the Black Creek farm was the place the Ira and Daley families most loved to go. It also has served as a refuge for Anis’ husband, Barney.

“I would get home from work – I was gone a lot – and I would be dog tired,” said Barney, an outdoor advertising executive. Anis agreed. “Yes, it was a way to get him away from work!” she said.

“My family bought the property in the 1950s. They had the pines milled,” Anis continued. “My grandfather helped build it – floors, beds – everything. My brothers built the ski jumps, and Barney loved to fish there. One year Barney gave me a tennis court at the farm.”

Now the Daleys’ four daughters – Muffet Rhyne, Cameron Crowe, Susan Hamner, and Annie Pajcic – along with their sons-in-law, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren (with a third on the way) enjoy the Black Creek retreat as much as Anis and Barney did.

Barney on his home-built unicycle, 1951

Barney on his home-built unicycle, 1951

Divided by U.S. Route 17

Anis Ira and Barney Daley grew up not too far from each other, and both graduated from Robert E. Lee High School – Anis, Class of 1954 and Barney, Class of 1952 – but, surprisingly, had never met.

Barney’s (real name Barnwell Roy) childhood home was in Lakeshore, west of U.S. 17, and he attended Bayview Elementary. When he was nine years old, his father was killed in an automobile accident. An only child, Barney roamed the woods, fished in Cedar Creek, camped out and enjoyed the bag swing at Clay Bluff with his pal, Emsley Cobb.

“It was right where you go into Ortega Forest now – that was part of the golf course and part of the old Florida Country Club,” he said.

“One afternoon when I got home from school, in about the 5th grade, my grandmother, who lived with us, said she heard a big crash,” Barney said, recalling one of his many adventures. “I saw smoke, so I went to my friend Emsley Cobb’s house. We got on our bikes and rode over to the crash site of a PBY twin engine Navy reconnaissance plane, which had clipped the chimney of Bayview School. It was in a field where all the streets ended near Lakeshore Boulevard. That area was called Splinterville.

“On the way home we found a .50 caliber machine gun. I don’t know how we did it but we got it home and decided to mount it in the garage behind Emsley’s house. We hoisted it into the window and were all ready in case the enemy came. This was right after the war. About two days later all these military people piled out of their cars with their guns (they didn’t know we didn’t have any bullets) and that was it for our machine gun.”

Barney’s mother was determined that her only son would be a doctor so Barney entered Oxford College at Emory University in Georgia, as a pre-med student. However, eventually the dean called Barney’s mother and said, “He is just not cut out for it.” This assessment was based on the fact Barney had fainted three times at Grady Hospital while viewing surgery. “I didn’t want to be a doctor when I went in, and I didn’t want to be one when I got out,” he quipped. 

He completed a degree in business in 1956 at Emory, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity, as well as editor and illustrator of his college annual. Coincidentally, Anis was yearbook editor at Salem College, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she earned a degree in sociology and a minor in Elementary Education.

Anis and her family, including brothers Gordon Jr. and Stewart, lived on Challen Avenue in Avondale, east of U.S. 17, also called Roosevelt Boulevard. It was the only house she had lived in until she married.

Her adventures were somewhat tame compared to her husband’s. While he was riding his bike in Lakeshore, fishing, and exploring in the woods, she was riding her bicycle to West Riverside Elementary. “We were very upset that we didn’t get to go to John Gorrie until 8th grade,” she said.

Looking back, Avondale was “a real community,” Anis said. “We would go door to door doing scavenger hunts – no one ever locked their doors. There was a bike shed from Park Street to Oak Street so kids could park their bikes. The moms set up booths under the shed for Halloween. We all went to Mrs. Baggs’ Studio in Riverside for ballroom dancing, and there was a May Fete sponsored by Good Shepherd with a King, Queen, and Court. It was a kiddies’ Mardi Gras! Of course, we attended Sunday School at Riverside Park Methodist Church and loved feeding the ducks across the street at the park.

Army Reserves, Ft. Jackson 1957

Army Reserves, Ft. Jackson 1957

“There were tea dances on the old Ortega Pier every Saturday and Sunday afternoon,” Anis continued. “I went to the Canning Kitchen with my mother on the Prison Farm. My father was a doctor, and many of his patients paid him with produce, so we put up string beans, tomatoes, and jellies with help from the trustees in their blue-striped pants.”

Although they grew up relatively close in proximity, Barney and Anis did not meet until they found themselves on a double date while they were home from college on summer break. Anis was on a blind date with Barney’s cousin. “I could tell quickly that she was the lady I wanted,” said Barney. “She had the greatest personality. Nothing fazed her, and she was very attractive, of course.”

“The next weekend Barney called to ask me out,” Anis laughed. “I said, ‘I can’t go out with you – you’re dating somebody else!’”

Although she had committed to go to Sara and Bob Van Cleve’s wedding that didn’t stop Barney. He bought a tux (“I must have known she was going to be expensive.”) and escorted her to the wedding as their first date.

During their courtship, Anis rode the train from Winston-Salem to Atlanta to attend Old South Ball at Emory. “Mother made my dress and the parasol,” she said. They joked about spending a lot of time enjoying the beautiful view in the Moravian Cemetery in Winston-Salem because Barney did not have a car. His roommate at Emory would drop him off so he could stay at a professor’s house while visiting Anis at her school.

Growing a family, several businesses

“I went to work for [the Jacksonville office of] General Outdoor Advertising at 1 Riverside Avenue on my birthday, June 18, 1956,” said Barney. “It was the largest agency in the world at the time. All of a sudden, I get a draft notice. That was just what I wanted to do – be in the U.S. Army as a private,” he said sardonically.

“I joined the National Guard, did six months training and had a commitment for several years. I went to Officer Candidate School and achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant and Company Commander, then spent summers in Ft. Stewart,” said Barney. “That $100 a month was well appreciated when we had children – it bought some diapers!”

After their July 26, 1958 wedding at Anis’ home church, the Daleys set up housekeeping in their $13,250 home in Westfield.   

In 1962, Barney started his own business, Daley Outdoor Advertising, by “building one billboard at a time” and then bought another company in Key West. Anis said she and the girls loved going to Islamorada to play while Barney worked. They stayed at Jerry’s Sunset Inn in trade for advertising, Barney said. “They were one of my clients, and they were big on signs, but small on payments,” he laughed. In addition, he owned a printing and bindery company, and a shoe store.

“We enjoyed fantastic trips to New York to buy shoes for our store in Lakewood – Christopher’s Beautiful Shoes,” said Anis. “It was wonderful. The runway models would walk down wearing two different shoes. Our store manager would look at the shoes and Barney would look at the girls.” 

Anis stayed busy with their four daughters and managed Anis Daley’s Interiors on Talbot Avenue for 25 years. Their artistic gifts – Barney has created an impressive collection of watercolor paintings and their lovely home reflects Anis’s eye for beauty and comfort – have been passed on to the next generations. Their daughters’ talents and accomplishments are many and varied.

Anis Daley hang-gliding in New Zealand

Anis Daley hang-gliding in New Zealand

“Growing up, we let our girls be themselves, and they are all accomplished and artsy. They are the pride and joy of our lives,” said Anis. “We always told them ‘Don’t do anything halfway. If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when are you going to find the time to do it over?’

“All four of our daughters were married in my home church – Barney grew up at Trinity Lutheran – and Muffet and Annie wore my dress, which we bought at Furchott’s Bridal Salon downtown. I think it was around $500. I remember Mama thought it was awfully expensive,” Anis recalled.

The Daleys have been active at Ortega United Methodist Church for over 50 years and have contributed abundantly to the community. Anis taught at John Stockton (1958-1960) and Ortega (1966-67) Schools, and served as president of the Children’s Museum when it was on Riverside Avenue. She was instrumental in forming the first Nutcracker Ballet with Thelma Baggs and Mervyn Rickard. She has been active in Garden Circle, Tale Spinners Book Club, and the Colonial Dames of Florida.

Barney served on the Board of Directors of Methodist Hospital and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, where the couple was instrumental in founding St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School. They agree that it is a highlight of their many endeavors. In true “Let’s put on a show” fashion, Anis described establishing the school as “the greatest thing – so exciting. People were painting and putting down carpet.” Barney added, “Bill Montgomery had a fire escape, I had cranes – so we put it up. I wasn’t too sure about permits.”

Together nearly 59 years, Anis said, “It has never been dull. We like each other and have fun together. Barney is the best storyteller, and he has story after story.”

By Peggy Harrell Jennings
Resident Community News

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