10 weird old photos in Lakeland, FL

Roll up your sleeves and dig through Lakeland’s photo album with us — the weirder, the better.

Lakeland History 10

Jean Hamrick in a goat cart

Photo via Florida Memory

Lakeland history is kind of our thing. We geek out over Frank Lloyd Wright, the history of our regal swans, and of course, old aerial views of buildings from a bygone era. Sometimes our work brings us across photos that make us scratch our heads — those are the best days.

We scrolled through the Lakeland Public Library Archives to find the most bizarre photos from their extensive online collection. We also looked through the collection on Florida Memory.

Without further ado, here are 10 of our favorite, most bizarre photos of Lakeland.

Lakeland History 1

Photo via Florida Memory | 1925

Photo via Florida Memory

A quick glance at this photo and you may feel some sympathy for this mother of 27 children. But don’t fret quite yet. The description of the photo reads, “School children holding up letters that spell the word mother.” Our money is on the photo being taken for the childrens’ moms on Mother’s Day.

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“U Can’t Touch This” iconic moment in Lakeland’s pop culture history.

Find a more 1990s photo, we’ll wait. Here you have MC Hammer, hanging out in the streets of Lakeland, performing in a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial. You may be a “super dope homeboy from the Oaktown” MC, but you’ll always have these Lakelanders’ hearts.

A young boy wears a clown costume

Photo via Lakeland Public Library | 1931

Raise your hand if this picture is giving you flashbacks of homemade Halloween costumes. Mary Lucy Mendenhall, daughter of Civil Engineer Herbert Mendenhall, is pictured here before the Halloween parade in 1931. Herbert Mendenhall designed All Saints Episcopal Church.


Photo via Lakeland Public Library | 1938

Just another day for the Lakeland Fire Department. Check out this shot of a training exercise, where a firefighter carries his counterpart over his shoulder down a ladder.

Lakeland History 6

We couldn’t leave our royal swans out of the photo roundup.

These swans might look like they’re in a chokehold, but actually, they’re just canoodling while they get checked out by the city veterinarian. Every year the City of Lakeland stages a swan roundup during which the city veterinarian conducts a wellness check.

Lakeland History 5

We call this “keeping your friends humble.”

Talk about having a head up on the (friendly) competition. This photo, dubbed “The long and short of it,” features two cadets from the Lodwick School of Aeronautics with school owner Albert Lodwick.

Lakeland History 10

Photo via Florida Memory | 1931

Photo via Florida Memory

This photo has a lot going on, and all we really know is that it’s from 1931 and features a child named Jean Hamrick. So we’re left with a few questions: Is the goat real or stuffed? Did it actually pull lil’ Jean around town? What’s with the “Lakeland” race bib on the front of the cart?

Lakleand History 4

Photo via Florida Memory | 1947

Photo via Florida Memory

This 1940s photo actually features Lakelander Sir Ivor Thomas and the Lakeland Lawn Bowling Club. The club was established in 1923 and is still in Lakeland to this day.

Lakeland History 3

The 1991 fly-in was a sight to behold.

Photo via Florida Memory

No, this photo is not accidentally tilted upwards. We have what appears to be an experimental vertical takeoff at the fly-in. Regardless of whether this is just staged or the plane propelled its way into the air like this, we sure have clearance, Clarence.

Lakeland History 2

BRB, getting our photos taken with cats.

Photo via Florida Memory

Meet Esther Mayhall, a Lakeland citizen originally from Quincy, IL. Before settling in Lakeland, the Mayhall family had a touring stock company where they promoted and taught music in Polk County in the 1930s and 1940s.

Do you know of any additional context behind any of these photos? Send it our way.

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