Mrs. Pilcher was gifted this thank-you poster by a former Seminole student whom she allowed to park in her driveway.

Malavika Kannan and Serra Sowers

The following article was featured in our fall print issue. Print copies can be accessed in the media center or your English classroom.

If you head north from the Seminole High office, cross the bus loop, and look to your left, you’ll see a little green house. Knock on the door, and you might be lucky enough to befriend Barton and Olivia Pilcher, a long-time Sanford couple with a passion for the community they call home.

Mr. and Mrs. Pilcher have lived at 2700 Ridgewood Ave. for nearly 40 years. The couple shares strong ties to the school; Mr. Pilcher served as SHS’s Head of Guidance until 1973, and the couple’s five children graduated from SHS.

“We had kids here who would walk across the street to school,” remembered Mr. Pilcher, who is now 88 years old. “That certainly was convenient.”

Living next door to over 3,000 teenagers is certainly unusual, but the Pilchers have had plenty of time to get used to it. Apart from occasional football game chaos, the Pilchers say that they enjoy a relatively unbothered residence.

“We just got used to the noise and commotion,” said Mr. Pilcher. “Having worked at the school for some years, I kind of have a soft heart for that.”

Although the Pilchers don’t mind the company, the regular bus traffic between 7:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. is a definite downside to living next to the school.

“Once [the buses] start, nobody can get in or out,” said Mr. Pilcher. “Once I counted 65 school buses and thought, ‘Where are all these people coming from?’ I sat in the driveway and waited for the last bus to pass by in order to leave.”

Despite having spent the last 40 years beside SHS, the Pilchers say that living here is nothing short of an adventure. Mr. Pilcher vividly remembers an incident in which a fighter bomber carrying a pilot and navigator crashed near the school in the late 1960s after its engine flamed out. He said that he was at a conference in what is now Tribe Hall when he heard the sputtering engine up above.

“There was an airplane coming in very loud[ly] and we heard an explosion,” Mr. Pilcher recounted. “They ejected the navigator and he fell 400 feet or so. He broke down with a parachute and came down. So we came to the woods and the navigator was sitting on the ground, shaking because he had broken his ankle; the parachute was hanging in a tree. The only thing that calmed him down was a cigarette. That was a difficult adventure.”

Admittedly, nothing quite so dramatic has happened in recent years, and in spite of everything, the Pilchers agree they’ve picked a good place to live. After 56 years of marriage and 5 children,  they’re always eager to be kind. For example, a student who Mrs. Pilcher allowed to park in her driveway gave her the thank-you poster pictured above. The Pilchers still treasure it.

At age 97, Mrs. Pilcher reflects on the places she has lived and is proud to call Sanford home.

“We love Sanford,” said Mrs. Pilcher. “Some places we go and live there for a little while, but there’s no heart for it. If you want to live in a good place, this is it.”