Orchard Resident Spotlight

Jack Brantley

jack-brantleyFlorida’s first real estate bubble occurred in the early 1920’s.  Miami had an image as a tropical paradise and outside investors across the United States began taking an interest in Miami real estate due in part to the publicity talents of audacious developers.

Walter Andrew Brantley had returned from France (WW1) in 1919 to the farm in Washington County, Georgia and was convinced by a family member to mortgage the Brantley Georgia property and invest in the “booming” Florida real estate market.

By January 1925 when Jack Brantley was born investors were beginning to read negative press about Florida investments. Forbes magazine warned that Florida land prices were based solely upon the expectations of finding eager investors, not upon real land values.

Too late to respond to the warnings, the W. A. Brantley family found themselves with worthless Florid real estate and Georgia property that could not be efficiently utilized under the terms of the  mortgage, and without funds to pursue and  means of living other than sharecropping.  As the number in the family grew to 8 their economy plight worsened.  In 1937 the Brantley’s eldest son joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, (CCC’s) in California.  This left Jack to become his father’s first line of help.  He was in the 6th grade when the busy planting season required him to skip his schooling and help his father.

Jack’s mother pleaded with school officials to permit him to do 7th grade work even though he had not finished 6th grade.  With the official’s permission granted Jack successfully completed the work and was promoted to the 7”grade.  Encouraged by his success Jack’s mother made the same request to the school officials for his 8th grade work.  Because Jack’s help was again required for the farm to survive until the next spring Jack’s efforts for the 8th grade were not successful so, he did not go to school the next 2 years.

In the summer of 1940 Jack’s aunt and her husband were disturbed to learn that Jack had not been to school for the two years.  They persuaded Jack’s parents to allow him to live in Ft. Pierce, Florida with them, attend school regularly and help care for their invalid son, Bill, less than a year younger than Jack.  This began in September, 1940 and lasted until February, 1943.

In 1943 Jack joined the U. S. Armed Forces, took intensive training at Fort Bragg, N. C., transferred to Fort Jackson, S.C. where he joined the 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion and soon boarded the Marine Raven on Staten Island for the 5,000 mile trip to Scotland.

In many respects, the war had been the most rapid, the most completely successful war in history.  Germany was utterly prostrate beneath the American, Russian and British conquers.  All of Germany was flattened, the German soldiers, no longer supermen were prisoners of war behind barbed wire.  With the exception of the air activities, all this had transpired in the eleven months between D day on June 6, 1944 and the unconditional surrender of the German army remnants on May 8, 1045. Truly a fast war, achieved with staggering successful results.

Jack Brantley had no plans beyond the years he served during WW11.  That all changed when the G. I. Bill of Rights was enacted giving free college education to those who served our country on active duty. Jack earned a degree in Architecture at Georgia Tech and had a very successful career.