There was a time when Audrey and Alban Major, co-owners of “The Party Line,” were widely known in the communities of Lutz and Land O’ Lakes.
“The paper – everybody wanted it. It just covered every facet of life here. The photo element really was much more extensive than most small papers had at that time,” said Dr. Susan A. MacManus, who lives in Land O’ Lakes.
MacManus is an expert on Florida politics and co-author of local history books about Lutz and Land O’ Lakes.
“If there was an event, they would cover it. And, if there was a family accomplishment or a highlight of someone’s achievement, they would publish it.
“So, basically, anyone who wanted to share news, they were the venue for doing it,” MacManus said.
The couple was tuned in to what mattered to area residents, she added.
“They were neighborly, very insightful about what people enjoyed about local life and they were sort of like the glue that stuck the communities of Land O’ Lakes and Lutz together,” said MacManus, whose family supported the creation of a digital collection of historic photographs and documents, which was recently dedicated at the Lutz Branch Library.
MacManus said one story published by The Party Line was particularly notable.
“They ran a piece that was classic, what I think was exemplary of their service to the community, which really identified all the old pioneer families in the area. It, to my knowledge, was the only such collection that was ever done along those lines,” she said.
Audrey Major, of Lutz, a co-owner of The Party Line, passed away peacefully on Nov. 17 at her home, at the age of 100, according to information provided to The Laker/Lutz News by her daughter, Heidi M. Taylor.
Audrey was born on Oct. 7, 1923 to Capt. Adrian and Amey Bicker-Caarten in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, as a dual citizen of the United States and Great Britain.
In St. Thomas she lived in the family compound, which included Black Beard’s Castle, according to obituary information, provided by her daughter.
While living in St Thomas, she flew with Charles Lindbergh, the obituary says.
When she was 10, Audrey’s family moved to London, where she attended boarding school.
“One day, Audrey defied warnings and climbed a Monkey Tree with huge thorns. She refused to come down because of the thorns, so the school had to rescue her,” the obituary information says.
The obituary goes on to say that Audrey was a registered nurse at 18, working in a London hospital during World War II.
Her obituary provides these additional details.
“Her family evacuated London, but Audrey stayed behind with her dog, a British Bull Terrier. One day, as bombs were falling, she ran to an air raid shelter where they refused to let her in because dogs were not allowed. She refused to go inside without her dog. They finally let her in.
“Amidst the bombings, she cared for the wounded at a London hospital. She alternated working on the live ambulance and the dead ambulance. In 1945, she cared for Holocaust survivors among the other war veterans after her fiancé’s fighter plane was shot down.”
By 1947, she had moved to the United States and in 1950, she met her husband, Alban, in Miami.
The family relocated to Lutz, where Audrey and Alban owned and operated “The Party Line,” with the help of their three children.
Alban was the reporter and photographer and Audrey was the editor.
Alban died suddenly at age 65, and after that Audrey founded a single-family home property management business, known as “MD Management.”
The company thrived and Audrey continued to run it until she was 90.
In addition to her professional life, she had many other interests.
She loved reading romantic novels, was an avid gardener at one point having 150 rose bushes and 50 orchids, and loved dogs, British Bull Terriers and German Shepherds, in particular.
She also enjoyed traveling the world with her three granddaughters, Amey, Norah and Paulla, the obituary says.
“In 1965, Audrey planted a Monkey Tree as a reminder not to do stupid things in life,” the obituary adds.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 35 years, Alban Roland Major; her son, Patrick Scott Major, and siblings, Capt. Delmar John Bicker-Caarten, Capt. James Bicker-Caarten and Peter Bicker-Caarten.
She is survived by her son, Gil R. Major, and his wife, Pamela, and daughter, Heidi M. Taylor and her husband, Stephen; and her grandchildren, Amey Major and Billy Marckesano, Norah Taylor and Paulla Taylor; and great-grandchild, Jamie Marckesano.
The Party Line went on to become The Lutz News, which went on to become The Laker/Lutz News.
Published December 06, 2023