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Dr. Fergie's: Not Just Another Roadside Attraction

The fruit stand's ads were heavily flavored by religious themes.
Tracy Wahl, NPR
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The fruit stand's ads were heavily flavored by religious themes.
The colors of the Highway 27 landmark were impossible to miss, even at twilight.
Tracy Wahl, NPR /
/
The colors of the Highway 27 landmark were impossible to miss, even at twilight.

Leesburg, Fla., a small town in citrus country, has lost a colorful personality and a business that became a landmark.

Out on Highway 27, the fruit stand run by Donald Ferguson -- known to locals as Dr. Fergie -- has been dismantled. Ferguson, 56, was killed in October in a traffic accident, hit by a semi as he carried a load of fruit back from Tampa.

For decades, the colorful fruit stand attracted the attention of visitors from all over the country. Hundreds of huge signs in vibrant colors decorated the building, pushing the healthful qualities of fruit mixed with spirituality. One example: "Praise the Lord, Health is Wealth."

The Ferguson family arrived from the Bahamas in the 1940s. Dr. Fergie as everyone called him, took over the fruit stand from his father, who owned a farm with citrus groves just outside town. A few years ago, he hired artist Lori Vadenai to help him brighten up the signs.

Leesburg Mayor John Christian says Dr. Fergie "looked at life as something that was enjoyable and every day was going to be different and better." He adds: "I think the fruit stand sort of symbolized what he felt about life itself."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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