"Annie Peters, 91, has a vivid memory from her childhood of helping Zora Neale Hurston wash dishes.
"Eatonville's paved streets and sidewalks were little more than dirt roads and paths when Peters was about 10. She would leave school in the afternoon and head for Hurston's house. Hurston, then a burgeoning writer visiting the town now and then, loved children, and Peters joined a throng who played and mingled in her yard.
"Peters, who still drives and runs a beauty salon from her house, is among a dwindling number of Eatonville's older residents who can share firsthand accounts about Hurston, the author of 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.'
"'Most of them are all gone; it's a great loss,' Peters said. 'Then really all they can do is read about her.'
"Hurston's adopted hometown celebrates her life and legacy every January with the Zora! Festival. Eatonville, a few miles north of Orlando, Fla., was to Zora Neale Hurston what Chicago was to Saul Bellow or London to Charles Dickens. Hurston later described her muse as 'the city of five lakes, three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, three hundred good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools, and no jail-house.'
"Hurston, who died in 1960 at age 69, was one of the authors of the Harlem Renaissance, famed for her short stories, novels and her autobiography, 'Dust Tracks on a Road.'"
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