Title: Interview with Cristine (Jill) Spruill Roberts
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/MH00001735/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Cristine (Jill) Spruill Roberts
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Cofrin, Mary Ann ( Interviewer )
Burger, Tracy A. ( Transcriber )
Publisher: Matheson Historical Museum
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1995
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: MH00001735
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Alachua County Historic Trust: Matheson Museum, Inc.
Holding Location: Alachua County Historic Trust: Matheson Museum, Inc.
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Interview i ith Cristine Roberts
Date of interview: February 25, 1995
Interviewer: Mary Ann Cofrin
Transcriber: Tracy A. Burger
Begin Tape 1, Side 1

Cofrin:My name is Mary Ann Cofrin. I am interviewing Jill Roberts for the Matheson Historical
Center on February 25, 1995, at The Village, 2801 NW 83rd Street, Gainesville,
Florida. Will you please state your full name and birth date for the tape, please.

Roberts: My name is Cristine Spruill Roberts, although I've always been called Jill. I was
born on August 27, 1915, in Gainesville, Florida.

Cofrin:How do you spell Spruill?

Roberts: S-P-R-U-I-L-L.

Cofrin: Tell me why you're called Jill.

Roberts: Because my brother who was two years older than I am was named after my father. It
was Big Jack and Little Jack. When I was born my father said I was to be called
Cristine after my mother. My mother said, 'There will not be two Cristines in this
house. I have enough trouble with two Jacks.' When he insisted, she said, 'Well, I
will never call her that,' and she just dubbed me Jill. And that's what I've always
been called.

Cofrin:Like Jack and Jill went up the hill.

Roberts: Right.

Cofrin:Oh, that was cute. So your brother was two years older and you were both born in
Gainesville? Tell me about your parents. Are they natives?

Roberts: My mother was born in either Ocala or Gainesville. I don't know really which one.
When she was married she was living in Gainesville. My father was from Easton,
North Carolina. While Spruill is a very strange name in Florida, there is one behind
every tree in North Carolina. He was working in Jackson at the time he came to
Florida, I mean to Gainesville, to a party that Miss Eva Dell, Mrs. Eva Dell, gave and
that's where he met my mother. He saw her from across the room and asked Eva to
introduce him. And the first thing he said to Mother was, 'Gal, I'm gonna marry you.'
At least that's what both of them say. And he did.

Cofrin:What was her maiden name?

Roberts: Cristine Richards.

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 2

Cofrin:Richards. And her parents were from the Ocala area, or do you know?

Roberts: No. No. My grandmother came to Gainesville to visit her sister who was married to
one of the first physicians in Gainesville. Mrs. Kate Phillips. And while she was
down here she met my grandfather who was a New Englander. He had graduated
from Yale and as soon as he graduated he came to Florida both for his health and
because he liked to come down here and plant an orange grove. He did in Arredondo,
and the first year that it bore was the big freeze.

Cofrin: And that was what year?

Roberts: 1888, 89. I don't know which. But that's where we always say our fortune went. It
really went, too.

Cofrin:And your grandparents on your father's side?

Roberts: They lived in North Carolina.

Cofrin: They were the North Carolina.

Roberts: I never really knew them. I was taken up to visit when I was two or three years old,
but I don't remember it.

Cofrin: So it was just your dad from that side of the family that came to Florida.

Roberts: Although some of his sisters came down to visit him, I learned to know them.

Cofrin:What is your earliest memory?

Roberts: Oh, that's hard to say. Believe it or not I can remember my second birthday.

Cofrin: Good for you.

Roberts: I can't remember what I did yesterday, but I remember that second birthday. We
were in Nashville, North Carolina staying at a boarding house for a brief vacation
when we had it. And I can remember the gifts I got and that, Jack being just two
years older than I, of course like any child, expected a present, too. So Mother put a
celluloid fish--you young people probable don't even know what celluloid is--but she
had a celluloid fish for him and she put it in the back of the trunk. People carried
trunks in those days. You see how long I've been around. And
Roberts: put a piece of paper around it, and she told him to go back to the trunk and pick up

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 3

the piece of paper and he went back and immediately stomped on the piece of paper
before he looked under it and that was the fate of his part of my birthday. The poor
fish was flat.

Cofrin: So where did you go to grade school, in Gainesville?

Roberts: I went to school both in Gainesville and Atlanta. When I was four years old, my
father was transferred with his headquarters in Atlanta. We moved up there. I would
start off school and then Mother was scared to death of being in a big city like
Atlanta. She was a country girl like we all are. We had my grandmother come up
and stay with us for awhile but Daddy travelled and wasn't there a whole lot with her.
When it got real cold she headed back to Gainesville with both of us in tow, so we
would start the semester in Atlanta and continue in Gainesville. We were so young
then it didn't matter.

Cofrin:When did you move back to Gainesville then?

Roberts: We lived up there four years. You figure it out.

Cofrin: So you were eight then. Four and four is eight.

Roberts: Daddy was transferred to Jacksonville at that time. I lived in Jacksonville all school
year because by that time we were too big to take back and forth but as soon as
vacation came, I came right back to Gainesville to Grandmother's where all my
friends and family were.

Cofrin: So you actually lived in Jacksonville from the time you were eight until...

Roberts: For five years.

Cofrin:Five years.

Roberts: But I really was half--

Cofrin:In Gainesville half the time.
Roberts: Yes. I never felt that I'd left Gainesville. It was always home to me and always will

Cofrin:Then after that, at about 13 then, you came back to Gainesville for good?

That's right. Been here ever since.


Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 4

Cofrin: So, at 13 you were starting junior high school. Where did you go to school?

Roberts: Well, it wasn't called Buchholtz then.

Cofrin:West Side School.

Roberts: I don't know what it was called. It was there on University Avenue and it's got
doctors offices on it now. But that's where I went from the ninth grade on and
graduated there.

Cofrin:Who do you remember as your favorite teachers at that school? I think it was called West
Side School, but I'm not sure.

Roberts: I'm not either, but when I was in grammar school I remember Mrs. Hall. I loved her
dearly. And then when I got in high school my favorite was Ms. Webber, the home
economics teacher, and I've forgotten her name, she taught geometry.

Cofrin:And did you go on to college after that?

Roberts: No, I didn't go to college. It was during the Depression. We were having enough
trouble educating Jack, and the boy always had priority besides, then people didn't
think as much about girls needing an education, so I took a business course while I
was a senior in high school and I worked doing secretarial work.

Cofrin:Did you take that business course locally, in Gainesville? Do you remember the name of

Roberts: It didn't have a name, it was a business school.

Cofrin:You were going to tell me about your geometry teacher.

Roberts: Mrs. Phipps.

Cofrin: She was one of your favorites.

Roberts: I thought she was a simply wonderful teacher and of course the White sisters. I had
them for English.

Cofrin:Well, tell me about the social life in Gainesville when you were in high school.

Roberts: Well, the social life was something else. I wasn't used to the kind of parties they had
here in Gainesville. We never had mixed company parties in Jacksonville. It was

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 5

always just girls or, I guess, the boys had their own. But here you had little parties
where you made five minute dates. You'd go assemble somewhere and then
everybody would go off for five minutes and then you'd have another date. I never
did get used to that. I thought that was pretty silly.

Cofrin:I think that's sort of strange. Were these just gatherings at people's homes or were they
dances? Well, they weren't dances, I guess.

Roberts: They were just gatherings. Perfectly pointless to me but everybody else seemed to
like them.

Cofrin:You had dances, too?

Roberts: After we gotjuniors and seniors in school we started having dances because we were
organized little women by that time. Women had dances and then I belonged to a
high school sorority. They've since been ruled out. I don't think they have them any
more. Our LSS club used to have benefit dances, and of course, that was pretty good
in Gainesville because school wasn't co-ed at that time. We used to make a lot of
money that way. I don't remember how much we charged but the boys would come
because it was the girls club. They knew they were going to have somebody to
dance with.

Cofrin:Can you tell me what you remember how Gainesville appeared in those days. What was it
like to be downtown and walk around the square, for instance.

Roberts: Oh, that was wonderful. That was what we did for recreation. It was really was a
delightful little town. I can remember that the streets weren't even paved when I was
child except for Main Street and University, but Oak Street, where I lived wasn't
paved. Our big excitement at night was if our mothers would let us go out and let us
play under the street light. Kids just played in their neighborhood. Nobody had any
transportation. There wasn't anywhere to go anyhow. And we had a wonderful time.
I think we had a lot more fun than the ones do now because everything is so
regimented now and everything is in such a rush. We had time to make peep shows,
if you know what a peep show is, do you?

Cofrin:Well, not exactly. Maybe you'd better tell us.

Roberts: Dig a little hole and put flowers in it or whatever you want to put in it then put a
piece of glass over the top of it. And peep down in it. The children all assembled
and played together. Climbed trees and built tree houses. And Ijust
Roberts: about wore that big oak tree that was in Ms. Williamson's yard out. Kept it good and
clean anyhow because it had mildew and moss all over the legs of it and all of us

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 6

played over there. Ms. Williamson didn't seem to care and it was in the side yard and
she didn't have to bother with us.

Cofrin: So you lived on Oak Street? That was on Oak and what is now...

Roberts: It wasn't on Oak it was about three blocks from us, one block up and one block over
and another block.

Cofrin:And you lived on what street then?

Roberts: Oak.

Cofrin:You lived on Oak. You were talking about where the tree was.

Roberts: Down there by the duck pond.

Cofrin: Oh, I see. I know. Oak Street was two or three blocks east of Main Street.

Roberts: Right.

Cofrin: So you lived...

Roberts: It's three blocks 'cause it's Third Avenue.

Cofrin:It's Third Avenue now.

Roberts: We lived on the corer of Third Avenue and Third Street which is really the heart of
the historic district. And the big old house is still standing. It's four apartments, four
or five apartments, now.
Cofrin: So was this your grandmother's house you lived in?

Roberts: Yes, it was.

Cofrin:And were they still living?

Roberts: Not my grandfather, he died before I was even born. But my grandmother was just
like another mother to me. I had two mothers. I was a lucky girl. Two wonderful

Cofrin: So who were your playmates in those days, in the neighborhood?

Roberts: Well, Mary Bonneford Sheppard lived across the street. She was two years older

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 7

than I, but we were just raised together and I loved her and she was my role model.
And then she was Mary Buck. Her mother was Catherine Hampton and she was my
cousin. We have the same great-grandmother. And she lived, well actually three
Jordons lived right in a row. My grandmother was Clara Jordon Richards. And she
lived on the corer of Third and Third. And her brother, Berkett Fry Jordon, lived
sideways across the street still facing Oak. But he lived in between her and her other
sister, Mary Ellen Jordon Cole Miller Hampton. And so there were bunches of
cousins and we were only separated by what we called Ms. Jordon, Mrs. Berkett Fry
Jordon was Aunt Enid and we loved her but she was very strict about whether we
walked through her yard or not and I don't blame her because she'd had paths through
it. We always had to go on the sidewalk, go around her house, Mary and I did. We
were just inseparable. We sucked the same lolly-pop. If we didn't have but a nickel
we bought one and divided it. And traded it off.

Cofrin:Menna Hampton is Fred Hampton's mother?

Roberts: Right.

Cofrin:Mary Alice called, Mommy?

Roberts: Well, yeah but that's his grandmother. Mary Alice's grandmother.

Cofrin:Mary Alice's grandmother was Mommy. And that's was Menna Hampton.

Roberts: And my grandmother was Nana. All the kids called her Aunt Taka. She hated the
name Clara. So nobody ever called her that.
Cofrin: So she got that name.

Roberts: All the children called her Aunt Taka.

Cofrin:And the Jordon family was from?

Roberts: They originated in Mississippi.

Cofrin:I see.

Roberts: And after the war started and they couldn't have anybody operate the plantation,
Roberts: they moved to Alabama. That's where my grandmother lived when she came to
Gainesville to visit her sister, Kate, and met my grandfather.

Cofrin: So, you didn't go to college, so you had a career. Or had you met Ed yet?

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 8

Roberts: Oh, no.

Cofrin:I didn't ask you what year you graduated from high school.

Roberts: I'm glad you didn't. I think it was 1934 but I always have to call up Lucille George
and ask her.

Cofrin:Are you the same class as Lucille?

Roberts: Yeah. Lucille's a little younger than I am because she's a lot smarter and she skipped
a grade. But she was in my wedding. We've been friends all our lives. I didn't even
know Ed then except that he ran the picture show and I heard people talk about him
and, strangely enough, I used to go over and sit with Mary _(207) Sheppard while
she dressed for her dates. She was two years older and, much more precocious than
I, she had started dating. I would go over and talk to her while she got dressed for
her dates. She had a bedroom upstairs. When the date came for her I would stay up
until he left and I would go on home. She dated Ed Roberts, the one I eventually
married, and I never even bothered to look over the bannister to see what he looked
like. I just waited upstairs until he had gone home. So I knew him that way before I
ever really met him.

Cofrin:If you graduated high school in 1934, then you said you went to work as a secretary.

Roberts: Then I was married in 1938.

Cofrin: Tell me about where you worked before we get into your marriage.

Roberts: Oh, Lord. The first job I ever had was for an insurance company and I didn't do
anything but do some typing. Then I got a job at the University at the infirmary and
worked for $10 a week, took short hand at night and I worked from 8 or 8:30 in the
morning until 5 with a half an hour for lunch.

Cofrin:Five days a week, I guess.

Roberts: Six days a week. And on the seventh I got off at 2 o'clock, and it was Sunday.

Cofrin:You mean you worked Sunday morning?

Roberts: Yeah.

Cofrin:At the infirmary.

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 9

Roberts: That was during the Depression. Younger people don't know anything about that
Depression but believe me I was glad to have that job and there was six other people
waiting in line if I didn't want it.

Cofrin:And didn't measure up.

Roberts: Yeah, that's right.

Cofrin:You say you took shorthand at night. You mean you were studying shorthand at school at

Roberts: No, under, the college that I couldn't think of the name of it, was Miss Lena Hunter.
She ran what she called a little business college out of her own name but she worked,
too, so she had to do that at night. Everybody worked then, except Mother, and
Mother was always home, bless her heart. It was so good to come in from school
and yell, 'Mother!', and she was there. She was working too, but not getting paid for

Cofrin: And what was Dad's job at that time?

Roberts: He was a sales manager for the, southeastern sales manager, for the Carnation milk
products company. And that's the reason he was headquartered in Atlanta and

Cofrin: So, after your job at the infirmary and the University, did you have any other jobs?

Roberts: Oh, heavens. After I got through with the infirmary I moved over to the business
office. I didn't have any trouble getting another ob on campus. And I worked in the
business office under Clyme Grimm. Actually in the auditor's part of the business
office until I got engaged and I resigned the next morning. I thought I was going to
be a lady of leisure then. That didn't last long. I got restless because I was always
used to being busy and I felt kind of useless. We didn't have any children right away
so I said I'd do fill-in work. And that's what I did, just when somebody wanted a
secretary, there's was sick or they wanted temporary work or something, I would do
that and I also taught short-hand under
Roberts: Miss Lena Hunter. She would let me have them for the first six weeks or so. She
had more pupils than she could take care of so then she'd take them and graduate
them under her name. My name didn't mean anything. I wasn't even that good a
secretary, but I did know my short-hand and know how to teach it.

Cofrin: So, tell me about your courtship with Ed. How long did you know him before you got

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 10

Roberts: Not very long. About a year, year and a half. Well, there wasn't anything to do but
go to the picture show. So he parked me in the picture show every night. And after
he got off, we went over to his house and listened to radio, then we didn't have TV.
And we'd listen to the radio and his mother was there.

Cofrin: Of course.

Roberts: Oh, yes. I wouldn't have been allowed to go over there. But she always had
prepared some sort of snack for us. We had a snack and went home. That doesn't
sound very romantic to anybody but we enjoyed it. We thought it was great.

Cofrin:And Ed had come to Gainesville?

Roberts: He had come here to manage the theater. Claud Lee was the head of the theaters.
There were two of them then, the Florida and the Lyric. And Claud Lee was the big
dog and Ed was his assistant, but then when Claud Lee moved on, they made Ed the
head man.

Cofrin: Of two theaters.

Roberts: Well, he got three of them at that time. They had the State but it didn't last long, it

Cofrin: So you and Ed were married then in 1938 and you knew him for about a year before that, or
dated him about a year before that.

Roberts: About a year and a half.

Cofrin: So then after you were married where did you live?

Roberts: We lived right on the village square. We lived in Miss Annie Scarritt's house which
was next door to George Dell's grocery store, right down town and across the street
from the abstract office on University Avenue because his mother was
Roberts: like his mother. They were like the bright lights and they wanted to be right in the
middle of everything. And I think at that time, very shortly after, they built those
two little places and your father had one of those little places out in front of the
courthouse, with the Chamber of Commerce.

Cofrin:Right. Across the street from, next to the abstract office I believe was _(299) Hardware?

Roberts: Yeah.

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 11

Cofrin: And if you walk on around the square can you tell me what you remember? That would be
the east side of the square.

Roberts: Well, if you were walking straight down University Avenue toward the University,
you came to Wilson's first.

Cofrin:Right. That would be the north side of the square.

Roberts: Yeah, that's the north side. And then there was, I forget, Miller's I guess they called
it when I was real little.

Cofrin:Miller's drug store.

Roberts: Yeah, and then they changed the name various times, but when I was real little
Miller's was there. And that was always the hang out for the University boys. That
seems funny but there wasn't anything for them to do. They'd walk into town and
hang out at Miller's. Of course I was too little to care whether they hung out there or
wherever. And then you went on down there was a ten cent store on the corer
where Chestnuts is now and then you headed south which would be the west side of
the square and there was a hardware store which later burned, the whole block
burned in there. When it burned, that was when I was courting Ed pretty hard. I
remember I had rolled my hair up and gotten in bed ready to go the work the next
morning and try to look glamorous and I heard Ed downstairs. He was yelling and
he says, 'The town's on fire! Come!' And I had to get up and comb all those curlers
out of my hair and go to the fire.

Cofrin:That's right. You were very close to it. A lot of people didn't know about it.

Roberts: Well, and we still have movies of that. I can't find them but I think he must have
given them to the Matheson Center when they first opened. That's the only thing I
can think of because I opened the box he wanted me to get them out the other day for
him. I opened the box where I just knew they were and they
Roberts: weren't there. That's the only thing we can figure.

Cofrin:I'll check and see if they are down there. So then going on further south after the hardware
store, Stock's was in there.

Roberts: Yeah. You came to Stock's first and then...

Cofrin:And Conova's was on the corner? A drug store? Or was that there later?

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 12




No. There was the hardware store and when you came back on the south side of the
square there was Cox furniture and Chitty's men's wear. Wasn't that the name of it?

Chitty's was there and then Cox on the far comer.

And then on the other side was Fiefer Bank and I remember it had a little tree on top
of it that grew out of a crack in the bricks. It always fascinated me. It was just about
a foot high but you could see it from the sidewalk and next to that was the ten cent

Cofrin: McRory.
Roberts: Yeah, and then on the comer was Barrett Hardware.

Cofrin:For awhile there was Piggly Wiggly in there. Was that later?

Roberts: Yeah. Piggly Wiggly.

Cofrin:A Piggly Wiggly grocery store was there.

Roberts: Yeah, it was between McRory's and Barrett's

Cofrin:And we forgot Ben Monty's shoe store on the west side. Was that there then?

Roberts: Yeah, that was there. Wasn't that burned down?

Cofrin:If that whole block burned, I guess it burned with that block.

Roberts: I guess it was still there.

Cofrin:It was there. Some of that was replaced I guess, too, wasn't it?

Roberts: Well, they rebuilt the whole block.

Cofrin:And some of the same stores came back in but not all of them. OK. So you...

Roberts: It was wonderful because all the stores were right around the square.

Cofrin:Right within walking distance of your house.

Roberts: It's so much better than we have to go 20 miles now to compare anything when you
shop. But then you just walked around and there was Wilson's on one side of the
square and I've forgotten the name of the clothing store on the other side for women.

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 13

Cofrin: On the south side or...

Roberts: Yeah. There was one on the south side.

Cofrin:McRudderman's. Ruddy's was there for awhile. And then we had the Personality Shop and
the Fashion Shop. Do you remember those?

Roberts: Uh huh. Not right on the square but within a block. So it was really pleasant to shop
in those days. You didn't run yourself to death. And you didn't even have to make
up your mind because you didn't have any choice. When I was in high school by that
time we used to go to Jacksonville and do most of our clothes and shoe shopping.

Cofrin:So you and Ed been married a long time--1939 right on up to 1995. That's a long time.

Roberts: Fifty-seven years. That is a long time.

Cofrin:You've had a good marriage.

Roberts: A good marriage, right.

Cofrin:Well, tell me some more about your married life. You did just part time work from then on.
You never worked...

Roberts: No, no. I finally settled down. Decided we weren't going to have any children. So I
might as well take a job because you don't make anything when you're filling in for
people. You don't have a vacation. You don't have sick leave. You're there whether
you're sick or not. And you're always just snowed under
Roberts: with work because they don't hire you until they're desperate, you know, when they
find out the secretary's not going to get back right soon, or something like that. But
it was fun, and it was good experience. I got so I could go into any office without
asking many questions, find what I wanted in the files, because I worked for so many
different people. And that made it real nice but when I finally decided I was going to
go to work, I had always wanted to be an architect and so one of the few jobs I asked
for, because usually people called me. But I went to Sanford _(399) and asked
him if they could use me. I told him what I wanted. I wanted to learn to read
blueprints and ledgering and maybe eventually get up to where I could take the,
whatever exam they have. At any rate, I found out right soon after I got in there, I
didn't have near enough sense to be an architect. But I did enjoy it because I did the
color work for them. Whenever I learned to read blueprints and figure out how the
light would be in the rooms, and this that and another, and he did mostly schools at
that time. I learned to pick out all the colors, the paints, and do all that color work,

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 14

and it was very interesting. He worked out of Gainesville and he was a noted school
architect, so I got to travel with him, not any overnight places, but we went to
Fernandina and different little towns around where he was building schools. I
supervised the paint on it and the curtains and the tiles and all this sort of stuff.

Cofrin:Well, I do know that you had a lot of artistic talent and you haven't told me a thing about
your artistic talent that you had even as a young girl.

Roberts: That's the only one time I had it. I don't have it any more. Couldn't draw a straight
line, but I used to love to draw. I never had any training though, except one summer
a professor at the university taught some classes and he had a studio downtown and I
was free to go down there and work any time I wanted to. And I did a little bit of art
work which I enjoyed very much and learned a good bit, too. But I never was real
good at it. It was just a hobby.

Cofrin:But you did have an eye for color, it sounds like.

Roberts: Well, yeah, I did have a pretty good eye for color. Because I did a few good things.
One job I did on a school, the superintendent of education of the State of Florida
wrote and asked Sanford who did his color work. And I felt very flattered.

Cofrin:Well, I bet you did. That was good. Did you and Ed travel a lot since you didn't have a

Roberts: No, we never did travel, that's the strange part about it. We were always going to
save our traveling until we retired, when we didn't have to tell the milk man
Roberts: not to come and stop the paper and pack up the silver for fear somebody'd steal it.
And as soon after he retired he had a stroke so we came out here to The Village. If
you can't be in your home, there's not a better place to be. We like it.

Cofrin:Well, I know you didn't stay in Miss Anne Scarritt's home all the time you were married, and
by the way we aught to spell her name. That was S-C-A-R-R-I-T-T. So you lived
there just the first few years?

Roberts: About the first year and a half, two years, and then Sidney and Elizabeth Robertson
had a vacant lot on Palmetto Street and they wanted to build on it but they couldn't
afford to. Everybody was hard up then. And they couldn't afford to build unless
they got some help on the rent. So we said we would rent it if they would build it.
And we loved that house.

Cofrin:Now, you say that was on Palmetto. Now even I can't place Palmetto. Now which one was

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 15

Roberts: It was the first street to the left after you passed the Kirby Smith school.

Cofrin:East of Kirby Smith?

Roberts: Yeah, it was in the same block that--we were right next door to Mrs. Sandy Graham.
You know, Bill Graham and Helen. It wasn't Helen's mother. Ms. McIntosh lived
on the comer.

Cofrin: The street past Kirby Smith, the next one was Roper, wasn't it? Is that the way they went? I
know Roper.

Roberts: Roper ran along the edge of Kirby Smith.

Cofrin:Right. Oh, you're talking about...Palmetto ran east and west.

Roberts: No. It ran north and south. It was one block east of Roper.

Cofrin: Oh. One block east of Roper. So then you were in, though, from University Avenue
several blocks.

Roberts: No. First blocks. The McIntosh's lived on the corner of Palmetto and University and
then the old Robertson house where Sid and Elizabeth lived, they inherited that, was
next, and then this vacant lot and then Bill Graham's parents lived in there. So we
lived between the Robertson's and the Graham's and they
Roberts: built a, I thought, was a real nice little house. Three bedrooms, because Ed's mother
lived with us. And she had a bedroom on the first floor and there were two bedrooms
upstairs with a bath between them. So if we wanted to have overnight guests we had
that extra bedroom.

Cofrin: So how long did you live there?

Roberts: We lived there until I talked Ed into buying a lot. No, we lived there until they
wanted it. That was it. About two or three years they got the mortgage under
control, so we had to move and we moved around the comer to an old house that
Dean Norman and Mrs. Norman owned. And they remodeled it and made it into two
apartments and we got the downstairs apartments. It's right next door to where Dr.
Marshall has his...they built a house between the one we were in, which was an old
house, they built a little house in between that which Dr. marshall took over. But
that was after we had moved. But we lived there and then we bought a lot before the
war and put out bids right before world war II for a house. An architect was so busy
and he messed around for so long that by the time we got the bids out everything just

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 16

spiraled, the government had put all kinds of holds on materials and it was just a
mess. And the bids came in...one of them was something like $10,000. It was
supposed to be an $8,000 house. And believe it or not, $8,000 built a good house. It
would have been a nice house. But we had to say we can't do it. We didn't have that
kind of money. Just millionaires lived in that kind of a house. We got the plans out
after World War II to see again, 'cause we already had the lot. M. Parrish, on the
first one, we couldn't get but two bids because the contractors wouldn't bid on it even
at that time because the war was right on us, and he said that he couldn't build it then
for less that $30,000. So see it had more than, it had about doubled.

Cofrin:So this was the bid after the war? It went up to $30,000 from ten. That's triple.

Roberts: Well, it was ten or twelve, I don't remember exactly. But anyhow, we of course
didn't build that. When we did build, we had to cut off a bedroom, a porch and
several other things.

Cofrin: So what year did you build the house?

Roberts: 1951. After Ed got back.

Cofrin:Oh, that's right. Did Ed go to war?

Roberts: Yeah.

Cofrin:OK. Tell me...oh, I'll ask him some of those questions. He did go for several years.

Roberts: Yeah. He was gone for three or four years which seemed, while he was gone Mary
and M. Parrish got, well before he came back Mary married but while during the war
she lived in the duplex that we lived in on University Avenue. I rented a room, my
extra bedroom downstairs and she moved in upstairs and after while she and...M. got
home before Ed did because Ed had to stay in and let the other men out, he was in
dispersion, so he was little late coming home, and they got married and lived upstairs
for awhile, where Mary already lived.

Cofrin: So when you and Ed were a young couple, who were your friends? Mary was not married
then so you had the Robertsons...

Roberts: We didn't see too much of the Robertsons. They were older than we were. Mostly,
we saw Bo and Francis Arnot, because they lived in a remodeled house right across
the street from the one we lived in on Palmetto. And we were married just about the
same time. We were pregnant at the same time.

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 17

Cofrin: Gainesville was still a quiet safe town. You probably never locked your doors.

Roberts: Oh, heavens. When we lived in the big old house, my grandmother's house, if it was
winter we shut the front door. But if it was summer, you didn't even bother to shut it
a lot of times and you never locked it. And it was just wonderful because everybody
was friends, you knew everybody and most people were family. Actually nobody
could say anything bad about anybody else because they might be related to them.

Cofrin: So then you got into your new house after Ed came home, and what did you say, 1945 or
something like that?

Roberts: Yeah, I think he got home that time.

Cofrin: So you built that house, and that was out on northwest Gainesville.

Roberts: Yeah. And when we built that lot, Ed and I had selected it ourselves. Ed never
would build one, even think about building when we were first married because he
said he was subject to transfer. And he didn't want to sink his money in a house.
Well, I spied this lot which was real close to the University on Second Avenue right
off of 22nd Street, just a block over from the President of the University of Florida.
Two blocks I guess. And I thought a lovely lot and it was half way to the country
club. He could walk to the country club if he had to.
Roberts: And he walked to the stadium and boy, when I pointed that out he decided maybe he
wasn't going to get transferred after all. And besides he'd settled in so in Gainesville,
he liked it, and he was managing the theater then and they moved the managers all
the time, of the theaters, but he felt safe because there was such a problem with
University boys, they were always breaking into the theater. A whole bunch of them
would raid it and this sort of thing, but Ed had learned to control them so they didn't
bother him. They left him here because a University town had more educated people
and they wanted to get pictures from most towns and he was pretty good at selecting
the right pictures. He couldn't say entirely about it but he had a good bit to say about
what they booked in here. So we finally got the house built and we lived there 41
years before we had to move.

Cofrin: Sounds like you were Gator fans if he was interested in walking to the stadium.
Roberts: It wasn't but two blocks from us and we loved it. Loved football and never missed a
game. We always got there. And Ed could walk out the country club and play golf.

Cofrin:Were you a golfer, too, or just Ed?

Roberts: Heavens no. I worked in the yard. You can see the results of my hobby. Ed worked
in the yard when he had to. He was very nice about mowing. And he would

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 18

transplant some, but he was not a yard man. And I was not a golfer.

Cofrin:Well, it sounds like you've had a very interesting, fulfilling life.

Roberts: Well, we have, we think. It's nothing exciting. It wouldn't excite anybody else, but it
suited us just fine.

Cofrin:Well, it's very interesting to hear what Gainesville was like in the 30's and 40's and 50's,
right on up.

Roberts: Well, it changed considerably after the war. It was just a small town and everybody,
as we both pointed out, was honest and we didn't lock the doors or anything. We just
started locking the doors after the war. And Gainesville started growing so fast and
you went down town and you didn't know anybody. It used to be that you knew

Cofrin: So you're not too happy with the change, I guess. We all wish for the old days, I guess.

Roberts: When you look back on things, you don't remember the bad things, you just
Roberts: remember the good things. And really, I think Gainesville was an ideal place to
grow up. When I was just a little kid, we had the American Legion Hall is now,
well, it's not the legion hall anymore, Matheson Center, there was a great big wooden
building which we called the Tabernacle. And that was where everything took place,
all the important things, like if you had a local play or the Chautauqua came to town
or whatever. It was always in the Tabernacle.

Cofrin:Now is that the same building as the Matheson Center and the American Legion Hall?

Roberts: No. It was a great big old barn of a building, wooden.

Cofrin:Was is east of the...

Roberts: It was...no, it was right where the American Legion is. Right there by the branch.

Cofrin:Oh, OK. Right there.

Roberts: Yeah, and it burned. It was a marvelous barn fire you never did see..

End of Side 1, Begin Side 2

Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 19

Roberts: The branch ran between the tabernacle and the public library. When I was a child I
just lived in that library or at least I took the books home, I didn't stay down there,
but both my brother and I read all the time. That was good for us.

Cofrin:Yes. It was. We all read a lot in those days.

Roberts: Kept us out of mischief, too.

Cofrin: To change the subject a little bit, over by where Cox Furniture Company, on the south side
of the square, there was at one time a big hall behind that, but I think that would have
been before your time. Seems to me my mother talked to me about, in back of

Roberts: Oh, you're talking about the old Baird Theater which was over Cox's.

Cofrin: Over Cox's. And what kind of a theater was that?

Roberts: It was a movie theater.

Cofrin:A movie theater.

Roberts: Yeah, and the Hampton's owned it. So every now and then they took me for free.

Cofrin:But it was an earlier movie house before the Lyric and the Florida and the State.
Roberts: I don't think the Lyric was there, it might have been, but I don't think so. But I know
every now and then Mary would take me to see a free movie for us because Uncle Ed
and Uncle Fred I think were both involved in that. It was a wonderful fire trap. It's a
good thing it never caught fire with people were up there. But I can remember the
Lyric Theater when it was the big theater before the built the Florida. And Mary
(022) McCraw used to play the piano in there while the movie went on and you'd
sit and watch the movie and every now and then somebody, they heated it with a
stove, and somebody would come in and open the stove door and put some wood or
coal in it, shake it down and that kind of interrupted the movie 'cause you could see
the light from the fire and also hear them bumping around. Mary _(027) would sit
there and just play the piano and if it were a love scene she could play anything.
She'd play something romantic and if it was something exciting she'd tune it up and
oh, it was just great.

Cofrin:Now this was the silent movies. This would have been back in the early 30's when you were
a little girl, very little girl.

It was earlier than the 30's. I was a big girl. I was in high school by...


Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 20

Cofrin:Alright, in the 20's.

Roberts: That's right. _(033) was just a young, young girl herself. But she played by ear and
she could play anything in the world.

Cofrin:And she could adjust the music to what was on the screen. How wonderful. How
wonderful. Well, have you got any other special memories that you want to talk

Roberts: Well, I can remember going to the Lyric theater one time. My mother entrusted me
to Jack as babysitter and gave us the money to go to the Lyric Theater and he was
supposed take care of me. So we got down to the Lyric Theater and he met several
of his little friends down there, but he was babysitting. He had me
Roberts: in tow. So we all got up in the balcony. It was the Cheeves boys, two of them were
Cheeves, Ike and Charlie. They sat up there and picked up all my hair up here on the
top and pulled it up and took a piece of chewing gum and rolled it methodically right
on down to my scalp. And I let them do it because Jack was supposed to, you know,
he was taking care of me and if Jack thought it was all right, it was all right with me.
Oh, Mother had a fit when I got home, you can imagine. They done such a goodjob
of it had to be cut out.

Cofrin:I was going to say she just had to cut it. That must have been interesting to grow out, too.
Did your parents, did your mother live to be quite elderly?

Roberts: No, she didn't. Of course to me she was elderly but she wasn't quite 72, she would
have been in about a month. And that's not old at all.

Cofrin:Doesn't seem old to me any more.

Roberts: But my grandmother lived on to her 80's.

Cofrin:Well, I've enjoyed this very much I hope you have.

Roberts: I've enjoyed it very much but everybody likes to talk about themselves. Particularly
when they've got a captive audience.

Cofrin:Well, I've enjoyed it and I think people at the Matheson Center will enjoy hearing about
what Gainesville was like and what your life was like.

We're going to edit this I hope.


Interview with Cristine Roberts
February 23, 1995
Page 21

Cofrin:You'll edit it. And we want to thank you very much for letting us do this. We really
appreciate it.

Roberts: Well, I've enjoyed it but I don't know of what interest it can be of anybody because I
didn't have anything really concrete to say, except that we played in our own back
yards and had a lot of fun and sit at the bottom of a tree and watch the clouds and
decide whether they were lions or tigers or what. Children don't have time to do that

Cofrin:No, and I think it's too bad. I think they are all missing a lot.

Roberts: And they don't have time to read. Mother always read to us before we went to bed
and of course we always had a big fight over whether Jack, it was his night to select
or mine.

Cofrin:Well, that's very interesting. But we'll give you a copy of this and we'll edit it and thank you

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