Photographers Olis and Jo Garber are the, 2024 Miss Aggie Day award winners. | Mandarin MuseumPhotographers Olis and Jo Garber are the, 2024 Miss Aggie Day award winners. | Mandarin Museum
Photographers Olis and Jo Garber are the, 2024 Miss Aggie Day award winners. | Mandarin Museum

Photography couple earns Miss Aggie award in Mandarin

Published on April 19, 2024 at 10:33 am

For more than 50 years, a little building with a tin-roofed porch at Mandarin and Brady roads was the center of that community, serving the grocery, gossip and postal needs of those who farmed and lived there into the 1960s.

For many of those years, Postmistress Agnes Grace Jones, better known as “Miss Aggie,” doled out the basics, provided soda pop to the Orange Pickers baseball team that played next door, and just handled the community’s needs.

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Although Jones died in 1992, her memory has lived on for 21 years as the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society annually honors a local resident who has helped the community. It’s known as “Miss Aggie Day.”

This year’s celebration at the Historic Mandarin Store and Post Office — the restored corner store run by Miss Aggie — honors local photographers Olis and Jo Garber with an award named after her.

“It was a total surprise to us,” Olis Garber said. “It’s just something that we love to do, both contributing to the community, plus I love doing photography, so it’s a great combination of things coming together.”

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Agnes Grace Jones, aka “Miss Aggie,” owner of what is now the Historic 1911 Mandarin Store and Post Office, sorts mail in this period image. | Mandarin Museum

Mandarin’s postmaster Walter Jones opened the post office and general store in 1911. His daughter took over as postmistress in 1928 and ran it until her retirement in 1964. The historical society and Mandarin Community Club restored the building, which is now open as a museum.

The society held the first Miss Aggie Day in 2001 to coincide with National Women’s Month, then set up the award in 2003 to honor a Mandarin resident who has contributed to the community via business, civic, educational or charitable accomplishments.

This years celebration will run from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the museum, at 12471 Mandarin Road, with RC Cola and Moon Pies, like Miss Aggie used to sell, plus live music. The Miss Aggie Award presentation will be at 11 a.m.

The museum’s executive director, Brittany Cohill, said the Garbers, longtime Mandarin residents who own Olis Garber Photography, were chosen because of their love for their community, which is also shown in their photography.

“Olis has also taken photographs of the historic buildings in Walter Jones Historical Park that we use in our digital and print marketing” Cohill said. “He gives us all of this to use free from copyright restrictions! … Additionally, it is not uncommon to encounter Olis and Jo cycling through Walter Jones Historical Park, stopping to smell flowers or admire vegetables in the gardens. “

The Garbers also documented the last remaining 19th- and early 20th century structures in Mandarin. Some of the images appear in the museum’s Images of America: Mandarin book, and in Wayne Wood’s Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage Bicentennial Edition.

“That was a great event about four years ago,” Olis Garber said. “That work was used in both books about a year later.”

His photos have also documented artist Brenda Councill’s recent sculpting of a Harriet Beecher Stowe statue in the historic store.

The Historic Mandarin Store and Post Office at 12471 Mandarin Road. | Mandarin Museum

Previous winners have included then-City Councilwoman Mary Ann Southwell in 2006, former Jacksonville Historical Society head Emily Lisska in 2013 and past Mandarin Community Club President Susie Scott.

Along with running the store and post office, Agnes Jones was the last member of her family to live in the family home, now the restored centerpiece of Walter Jones Historical Park at 11964 Mandarin Road, the city’s first historic park.

For more information about the society and the historic properties it maintains, go to mandarinmuseum.net.


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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