Addie Odee Collier was born in Courtland, Alabama on November 22, 1926. She was a decendant of the Echota Cherokee Indian tribe. She quickly became “Dee” as a young woman when she landed a top level security clearance at Oakridge, Tennessee Atomic Plant. She would come home on the weekends to Alabama and waitressed making extra money. Her stories of losing friends from explosions while carrying radioactive explosives were very scary to us as children.
My dad met my mom when he was stationed in the Airforce in Alabama. He was immediately attracted to my mom’s beauty, wit and charm. Many of the “officers” were after her, but he was determined she was the one for him, especially when she would slip him rationed cigarettes she would auction off on a “punch board” at the diner. After many attempts he was finally able to capture her heart, and they started writing while he was stationed in Egypt and then later Boca Raton.
One weekend my mom and dad eloped in Marietta, Georgia and she moved back to Boca Raton, Florida with my dad. She went to work for Winn Dixie as a cashier. With the special training and her experience working in restaurants she opened a restaurant. The military then transferred them to Wyoming where they had newspaper clippings of cows being frozen standing up. Being from the South, they knew they weren’t going to stay there long!
When my dad’s term was up, they moved back to warmer weather to help his dad with their farm and orange grove in Montverde, Florida. My dad also took a job with a packing house and train depot, and attended agricultural school to get his degree. My mom opened another restaurant and they built their first home together themselves. Neither of them were lazy people. Shortly after my they closed the depot, my mom and dad decided to buy a small produce stand in Sanford, Florida.
When you asked my mom about meeting my dad, she would always say she was just baiting him, the entire time she was dating him! She had always wanted to be an actress and she and my dad had a loving and passionate marriage, even a little bit of drama, comedy and tragedy. My dad was stubborn, steady and easy going, and my mom was even more stubborn, but adventureous and not afraid to take risks. She found much joy and happiness in their move to Sanford. They were successful in living and loving life there. Anyone that knew her well knew along with being a spitfire, she had one of the most loyal, passionate and giving hearts imaginable. She would often say,
“You don’t mess with my money, my children or my man… and not necessarily in that order!”
My mom passed way on July 3, 1973. It was a shock to her family, friends and community. Her father Emmett Collier had just passed away on May 31, 1973.
I find it ironic this was the day before their business anniversary of July 4th, and she was buried on July 5th, my younger brother’s 16th birthday. For many years I thought this was sad, but looking back I believe the Lord helped us to remember her, and how important she was and still is to our family.
My mom was raised in Alabama and spent many a day in the cotton fields as a child. She barely graduated the eighth grade. But many years of hard work, learning a trade, and sheer Alabama determination taught her to help my father build a successful business that is still in existence today (July 3, 2018). They would rise early before the sun was up and many times not go to bed until late in the evening, sometimes working 16-20 hour days. She always made certain we had clean, ironed clothes, a hot fresh meal waiting for us before and after school, then would come home and make my dad his dinner every night after they closed the market. As a child we spent many an hour or two in a playpen and working right by her side.
I had just turned 18. She was very sick and unable to come to my highschool graduation. Many were shocked when she passed and didn’t even realize she had been quite ill for a long time. She was one of the hardest working women I’ve ever known and my dad told me later, “Your mom was determined that you kids would grow up, graduate high school and not have to work like she did.” This helped me understand the “work ethic” my mom and dad’s generation had. They were raised in the depression era. I believe this fear of not being able to provide for your family led to many battles during my mom’s life.
I have so many stories both of her courage and hardships endured. I don’t ever remember my mom complaining. In fact I had to force her to go to the doctor the week before she passed. She enjoyed her life but I realize now, that she was often in a lot of pain. She had very bad varicose veins and standing all day on concrete year after year took it’s toll on her body. She encouraged us as young adults to “follow your dreams and passions.”
About Baggs Market
Established July 4, 1954
In 1954, Elmer and his wife Addie Odee Collier “Dee” Baggs started Baggs Market. Still nestled among a mighty oak, in Sanford, Florida, the stand as family and friends call it, was surrounded by woods, small animals and the loud boom of jets breaking the sound barrier as they took flight from the Sanford Naval Air Station. The Blue Angels would do training flights and the Baggs family would enjoy watching these private air shows while Elmer told stories about his adventures in Africa. The market now owned and run by the youngest son, Keith, sits very much as it did originally 64 years ago. The parking lot is crowded with customers buying fresh fruit, vegetables, hot boiled peanuts, and live bait.
You can now see and hear planes taking off and landing at nearby Sanford International Airport we are just missing the sonic boom from the Navy Jets back in the day!
“July 4th, 1954, was our grand opening,” my daddy said. “Fresh fruit and produce filled hampers and wooden boxes. Watermelons were piled high like Egyptian pyramids. Doug (the eldest son) was in a playpen and your momma was pregnant with you.” “Customers came out of the woods along with service men and woman who were flying home for the holiday,” Elmer continued. “Everyone was delighted to find the stand and the seemingly mile high pile of juicy watermelons.”
They earned enough money that first weekend to pay off their business loan!
Baggs Curb Market quickly became a friendly place to go. Dee’s outgoing personality and Elmer’s hearty laugh and good looks fit right into this growing city. Dee would pick out produce for customers. They didn’t even have to get out of their cars. One customer recalls Dee saying, “Bring your baby in and I’ll weigh her anytime.”
This July 4th, they will celebrate 64 years. I bet you can even still bring your baby in and get him/her weighed on the scales!
Mom, you are gone but not forgotten. I praise the Lord for such a wonderful mom. We miss and love you! Doug, Marlene & Keith