A Turkey Hunt
Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash
Gene is, by his own description, a member of an endangered species. Namely, the native born Floridian with deep roots in the history and culture of his beloved state. Gene is the great, great grandson of William Rete Fletcher, called "Billy R." by his friends and family. Family legend has Billy R. moving to Florida before Florida became a state in 1845. The Fletcher family settled in what is now Dixie County along the Western side of the Suwannee River. The family made the move to Florida from Georgia during the Seminole Wars. They were Cowmen. Not to be confused with cowboys. They survived the Seminole Wars and the Civil War to emerge as one of the leading ranching families in North Florida.
Gene credits his mother, Laura Weaver Fletcher for getting him started on history in general and Florida history in particular. She was a lifelong teacher and lover of the history of the state.
Gene was born in the house that his great grandfather, George Washington Fletcher, had built around 1900. At the time of his birth in 1940, there was no electricity in the farming community where he lived so there was no running water or indoor plumbing.
With no phone, no TV and a battery operated radio that only worked occasionally, Gene became a ravenous reader. Over time, he began to focus on Florida history. During his business career, he wrote many reports and three books. All of these were technical and of little interest to most readers. His first non-fiction work is a memoir of his youth in the deep, segregated south. It is a compilation of stories ranging from his first sexual experience to his baptism by the light of cars parked to provide the light needed to conduct a ceremony, in a lake at night.
In 1962, Gene received a degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida.
After a successful career in business, he retired in 2000. In the years after the death of his father, T.E. (Tommie Gene) Fletcher for whom he was named, Gene began to make notes on the wisdom that his father had shared with him over the years. This eventually led to book that he has written entitled It Ain't The Same. The book is a compilation of memories from his childhood based on what he calls Tall Tales, Humor, Wisdom and Advice.