Title Page

Title: Interview with Edward H. Gardner
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/MH00001776/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Edward H. Gardner
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Cofrin, Mary Ann ( Interviewer )
Marston, Ruth C.
Publisher: Matheson Historical Museum
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2002
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: MH00001776
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Matheson Historical Society
Holding Location: Matheson Historical Society
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Table of Contents
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Full Text






Edward H. Gardner

Mary Ann Cofrin

Ruth C. Marston

February 10, 2002

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 1
February 10, 2002

C: My name is Mary Ann Cofrin. I am interviewing Edward H. Gardner at the
Matheson Museum at 513 E. University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida, on
February 10, 2002. Will you please your full name and birth date for the tape.

G: Edward H. Gardner, of 4930 N.E. 73rd Avenue. I was born on March 4, 1917.

C: What does the H stand for?

G: Howe.

C: Were your parents from this area?

G: My father was born in Baptist County in Louisiana and lived there until he was a
teenager. He was the youngest in the family. Then all of his family moved. A
sister lived over here in Gainesville. He was an icemaker in Starke for years and
as a teenager, he was smart and tried everything. When I was born, my mother
came over here to Gainesville to be with her sister-in-law
Baptist Church. I was born out there on March 4, 1917.

C: What was your father's full name?

G: Joseph Simms Gardner.

C: And your mother's name?

G: Edna Kay King.

C: Did her parents come from this area?

G: No. Her dad, Ed King, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was a barber there
until the Depression struck and he went out to Oklahoma, and it was very
unsatisfactory out there very rural and the climate was so bad that he just
couldn't stand it. He asked my grandmother, "Where would you like to live? Do
you want to go out on the West Coast?" She said, "No, let's go to Florida where
it's warm." He moved down there and got ajob as a barber.

C: Was he in Starke?

G: No. He came through Jacksonville and spotted ajob here in Gainesville and came
down here and got with Charlie Prevatt, and Charlie made him a partner he liked
him so well.

C: And being new in the barber business. So your parents met here in Gainesville.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 2
February 10, 2002

G: Yes.

C: Your father didn't move to Gainesville until after he was married, is that right?
When did he move to Gainesville?

G: I think he was He had a sister, maybe two sisters,
here, and he had bad health problems. His appendix ruptured, and he had a loving
doctor that pulled him through Dr. Lasper. He nursed him through the fever
period when it ruptured, and he got him back on his feet.

C: Was he a young man then? Was it before he was married?

G: He was very young, before he was married. He was a tinkerer with automobiles,
and he rebuilt cars and bicycles. He had one of the first bicycle shops here in
Gainesville. Then he got into the used car business.

C: Do you know what year he went into business? What year were your parents

G: I guess it was about the year I was born.

C: And that was 1917. So they were married and you were born in Gainesville, and
then they moved to Gainesville. Where did they live when you were born?

G: I don't know exactly but down near where Gainesville High School used to be on
University Avenue, on that street just the other side. There was a
house and we lived there when I was very small and my granddaddy was living.
My granddaddy had cancer in the jaw, and he went to Baltimore and they took his
jawbone right out, and he passed away in Baltimore.

C: But your parents lived in the area of the old Gainesville High School on
University Avenue.

G: Yes. That was before that high school was built.

C: So your dad first was in the ice business, you said. That was before Gainesville.

G: He was an orphan. His mother was an invalid and his daddy died when he was
five years old. He got into trying to raise strawberries with some people over in
Starke. He said he would have been a gambler, but he bet his crop and his
wagon and lost, so said that cured him from becoming one.

C: I would think so. Anyway, he has an icehouse in Starke. When he came to
Gainesville, that was when he went into the automobile business?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 3
February 10, 2002

G: Yes.

C: And he was in used cars. Do you know where that used car business was located?

G: At first he was bound to fix them up. He said he went down to the Phifer Bank
and the Phifers were big here in the bank.

C: Mr. Gus Phifer.

G: Gus Phifer said, "Yes, I'll loan you some money." Daddy said, "What will it cost
me?" He said, "We'll be partners." Daddy said when he went to give him his
half, he asked for interest! So Daddy quit Phifer and went over to First National
and stayed there until he died.

C: He used to repair cars out of his home, I guess, or did he have a place of business?

G: No. All of the automobile shops and dealers were put in the same building that
they had horses in. They were tin buildings. All the dealerships went into horse
stables all over. Do you remember a place called Star Garage? He was just south
of the Star Garage.

C: That was on Main Street?

G: That was on 2nd Street. Then the fellow across the street from him that was a real
friend, his name was Odell Prince. He died young. He had a Hupmobile and
Hudson dealership.

C: He died young, you say.

G: He died young. They were hunting brothers.

C: Did your dad have any business with him?

G: I don't think so.

C: But he repaired cars for whoever brought one in?

G: Yes. My daddy was buying them old Model T's and they didn't last very long,
and it didn't take much to fix them up. So he was buying and selling Model T
Fords. He was putting upholstery and tops on them. They were all touring cars;
they weren't sedans.

C: Now you were a little boy about then. Do you remember that? What year was it?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 4
February 10, 2002

G: The Star Garage had a vacant lot on the east side. They had a Chautauqua from
New York and they had a preacher there. I was five or six years old, and I went
to hear that Chautauqua. Well, Billy was an evangelist. When I
got through listening to him, I was a believer. I had been going to Sunday School
every Sunday before that.

C: So your father stayed in that area until when?

G: Until he went to Miami.

C: Oh, you went to Miami? What year was that?

G: He bought this house on the comer of North Main and 8th Avenue, in the colored
section down there a big house and we lived there three or four years while he
was in the used car business. He made a little money and decided that all of his
family would go to Miami. That was the thing to do in those days, go to Miami.
So we went down there.

C: What year would that have been?

G: 1924.

C: So the whole family moved to Miami. How long were you down there?

G: Just a short while. He had a friend named Joe Shannon.
Joe had a brother that he wanted to teach something about the automobile
business, and from Boston. Joe was a baker, and before
World War I he was baking for an old German.

C: Now, was this in Miami?

G: No, here. Right down there near University Avenue and the railroad. He was
working in that bakery and when the war started, nobody would buy the German's
bread. I forget that gentleman's name, but he was a fine fellow. He turned his
business over to Joe Shannon and told him to pay for it as he could. Joe made a
fortune by investing in housing. He wanted to carry my daddy all over Canada
and Alaska hunting. He even offered to pay his way
Daddy on Alaska. When Daddy left here and we went to
Miami, he came down there. He said, "If you'll come back to north Florida
somewhere and find a place for an automobile agency and take my brother and
teach him something about it, I'll fund some money." That was unusual.

C: So that's why you came back to Gainesville.

G: We came back to Gainesville right away!

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 5
February 10, 2002

C: Do you know what year that was?

G: It was in 1924.

C: So you didn't stay but a few months.

G: What us, the river overflowed. We were on Flagler Street and the
river. Do you know where that is?

C: No, you're in Miami now.

G: Yes. Flagler Street crosses a river, and we were right on the river. The water
came up. We had three cars and headed back to Gainesville with those three cars.
Daddy told his mechanics that they could take those tools and if they ever came to
Gainesville, to bring them. "Do whatever you want to with them." He was a
good mechanic-olic. Daddy had a lot of alcoholics working for him over the
years after he was in Chevrolet. So we came back out to Stewart, and we couldn't
get across the bridge. The railroad place was open, so mother and I went to
Cocoa and stayed with some friends. Daddy took the three cars and put them on a
barge that carried them around to Cocoa from Stewart.

That same place has an unusual history. There was a gang of bank robbers in the
swamp back there on an island and the sheriff could get to them. He made it
known that he was going to be in the south end of the county. The gang had
planned to rob a bank in Jacksonville. This is all in a book, so I know it's a fact.
This sheriff said he was going to be in the south end of the county on politics, so
he notified the sheriff in the next settlement across the bridge to be on the alert.
When the gang got on the bridge, they killed them.

C: Did this all happen about the time your dad was there?

G: I don't know exactly the date.

C: Somewhere in that area. It was in the news at the time that he came up here. So
then he picked you and your mother up in Cocoa and you came on back to

G: We had been neighbors with the people who were down there in Cocoa. We had
been neighbors here on Main Street. Weeks Miller if you can find that name in
the records was one of the county officials. I don't know whether he was an
assessor or a collector.

C: What was he doing in Cocoa?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 6
February 10, 2002

G: He had arthritis or something, and he got beaten in the election here in
Gainesville, and he went to bed. Ruth Miller, his wife, did sewing, and she kept
him up until he died. I don't remember where he died. They moved all around, to
Palatka, to Jacksonville. They had two daughters and a son.

C: Did they eventually go to Cocoa?

G: They knew that Cocoa was over there.

C: So when you visited them, was Weeks still living then?

G: Yes. I'm wondering what office he held here. He was a county officer.

C: Anyway, you and your mother stayed with them and then your dad brought you
on back to Gainesville and he went into business with Joe Shannon or Joe
Shannon put him up in business. Is that right?

G: Yes.

C: Joe Shannon backed him with money. Is that when he started the Chevrolet

G: Yes. Do you know where the pool room is downtown on Main?

C: Yes.

G: Well, that was the building. The front and the back. Later they went across the
street and later on they moved down in the Eli Witt building.

C: What did they call the dealership?

G: Gainesville Chevrolet.

C: Gainesville Chevrolet was the first dealership, and they kept that name all along.

G: Yes.

C: How long did your dad run the dealership?

G: Until the Depression. I forget exactly the date. The Depression came, and they
repossessed 129 cars in one month. I was telling this old man in the back here
who stopped the Depression. Who do you think stopped the world-wide
Depression? He won't ever get credit for it, but he stopped the world Depression.
He took the bank, the Rothschild Bank, in government. Hitler!

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 7
February 10, 2002

C: Hitler stopped it?

G: He took the bank and built a war machine that stopped the Depression.

C: Well, maybe everybody wouldn't agree.

G: I don't believe they would.

C: A lot of people think the war had something to do with stopping the Depression.
World War II came along, and everybody...

G: I had working. My daddy put me in business.

C: So you were working down there then? You were still a kid.

G: By 1929 my daddy put me in business.

C: If you were born in 1917, in 1929 you weren't very old. You were 12 years old.

G: He had a reason. Let me tell you his reason. He was smart. They had a bunch of
cars they were wrecking, that they couldn't fix up and sell, so he carried them out
to the house. The built a building out there that they used for a
shop for a while and then they turned it over to me with the cars. He put me in
business. That way I didn't need to go to him for pocket money. If he saw a car
that he wanted me to have, I put He did furnish me with
cars, but he didn't furnish me any money and I didn't have to go to him and ask
for money.

C: What did you do with those wrecked cars if they weren't worth fixing up?

G: I junked them sold them for junk.

C: So you took them apart and sold the parts. So you were just becoming a teenager.

G: I was very, very young. I finally hired a mechanic and I had a crew. We're
talking about the Depression. Common labor then was $1.00 a day!

C: Well, I've got to go back a little bit. You had brothers and sisters?

G: In 1926, I guess it was, I had a sister named Betty Gardner. Daddy ran the races
out at the fairgrounds. Remember when they had races on 8th Avenue out there?
Anyway, it's been a while. In 1926 they put on a program and had a beauty
contest for babies, and she won the beauty contest.

C: How old would she have been?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 8
February 10, 2002

G: She must have been two.

C: Was she bom in Gainesville or was she born in Miami?

G: Here.

C: So you were back in Gainesville by the time she was born.

G: Yes. Daddy told Joe Shannon, "I won't go to work until after hunting season."
was my Daddy's Christmas because that's when
hunting season was over. He was a fanatic on hunting. He had learned that as a
boy going back and forth from Kingsley Lake to Starke by himself. He had
become a hunter. You know how some men are football fanatics; well, he was a
fanatic about hunting.

C: Did he take you hunting when you were a young man?

G: Yes, ma'm. I was way across the Suwanee River down at Fanning Springs; went
into Levy County and down south at Old Town when I was five years old.

C: What did you mostly hunt?

G: I think that was more of a fishing trip. We went to an abandoned camp, built as a
timber camp, I guess, and Daddy left me in the camp and went down to the lake
and went fishing in an old boat that was They said there was a
frog in the well that was two feet long and he couldn't get out. We borrowed a
truck in Trenton. Daddy knew everybody. He was loved by everybody. He
could have been sheriff in Levy County. The fellow wanted him to go in the
sheriff business. He told him, "We will go out on the highway where the cattle
are and shoot them down and load them up."
Beville's idea was

C: Shooting the cattle?

G: Shooting the loose cattle on the open range.

C: I remember that. How did they get away with it?

G: They didn't. Beville had a brother.

C: Which Beville are we talking about?

G: We hunted with Morris Beville. He had two sons and one of them died in a plan
wreck going across the Atlantic.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 9
February 10, 2002

C: It wasn't the Beville Nursery family?

G: No. That was Morris Beville.

C: There was a Harper Beville that lived out the west side of town, but maybe that's
another family. We won't try to figure out who they were.

G: They call him

C: So that was a fishing trip we interjected there, but in your hunting days, did you
hunt birds? Was that dove hunting?

G: No. We went to Levy County down around Buck Island and where that riot was.
Anyway, 10 miles this side of Cedar Key we had a hog camp. We loved
during the Depression when there wasn't no jobs and no money.
Like I said, Daddy repossessed 129 cars in one month. The Chevrolet and
General Motors wanted to let him have money to keep going, and he said no. He
figured he would have enough for a while. Later on, he went to work for Mr.

C: Latham Davis.

G: Latham loved him. He carried him up into Kentucky, carried him down to Key
West and all over. Daddy was his top salesman.

C: During the Depression, when he was having problems with Chevrolet, he just got
rid of the dealership altogether? Then it was after that he went to work for
Latham Davis?

G: Yes.

C: Then what happened to you with your little project of selling parts out of old cars?
Did you get out of the business, too?

G: Yes. I got a job. My first permanent job was with Sears Roebuck and it was in
1940. All my cousins were drafted. They got the "Dear John" letter.

C: Now we're getting into World War II now. But we need to go back to finish your
teenage years. I'm talking about the end of the Depression, which was in the late

G: We liquidated a fleet of cars that Auburn Melton (?) had, the Buick dealer. We
took over on West 2nd Street, down at the Sunoco station
down there. We took over that and ...

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 10
February 10, 2002

C: Now this was during the Depression?

G: Yes, this was back in '29.

C: The end of the Depression.

G: We ran that place for Melton. It was a filling station and a used car lot. Daddy
got a man to fix the cars and sold them and got Melton off of the on
a bunch of junk.

C: Were you working for your Dad then? You would have been 17?

G: Yes. I didn't have much to do, and we took over the filling station. After we got
Melton out, we lived in the filling station and I helped Daddy with the station.
Then we got retread tire equipment and retreaded tires for a while. I was selling
the tires and traveled.

C: That was all up through the 30's, I guess.

G: Yes. About '40 I went to work for Sears Roebuck.

C: Now tell me a little bit about school. Where did you go to grade school? Kirby-

G: Yes.

C: Then Eastside School, right?

G: Yes. I went to high school and played football. I broke my nose and stayed out
of school a year, and then I went to P.K. Yonge. I graduated from P.K. Yonge. I
met some nice people out there.

C: What year did you graduate?

G: I can't remember.

C: Well, 1917 it probably would have been 1934?

G: A little later than that because I was out of school for a year.

C: Actually, I don't think P.K. opened until 1935. Were you in one of the first
graduating classes?

G: I think so.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 11
February 10, 2002

C: So that would have been 1936, maybe?

G: Later than that. Somewhere about '38.

C: Who were your friends in high school?

G: Dr. Crago and his sister.

C: John Crago and Jean Crago.

G: A bunch from Micanopy. I had a girl friend from Micanopy. I played in the
minstrel they had there. Mr. Lewis was one of my teachers.

C: Was that Hal Lewis?

G: Yes. I had a science teacher. I can't remember his name.

C: Mr. Gaity? ? spelling

G: Yes.

C: He was the science teacher when I was there. Mrs. tel, did she teach
you English?

G: Yes.

C: Then there was a Mrs. Laird that taught Latin.

G: Yes. And I took cooking.

C: Cooking from the Home Ec teacher? I don't remember who that was.

G: I was in the stage thing. I can't remember who was in charge of that, but we put
on plays. I was a minstrel.

C: I know who taught you singing Cleaver J. Carson? (spelling of first name?)

G: Yes.

C: She taught me, too. I know some of these names, too.

G: I've forgotten all of them. There was a principal after the war who was very

C: Was that Simmons?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 12
February 10, 2002

G: Yes. I could remember that. Simmons wanted to hire me as a disciplinarian. He
was beginning to have problems, I think, at that time and didn't have time to fool
with it. I enjoyed that school.

C: Okay, so after you graduated, you went to work for Sears Roebuck before World
War II started. Were you a salesman for Sears?

G: I was in charge of the automotive division. I was the manager of the division.

C: Well, that fit right in with your training.

G: I was paid $5 and something a day. That was good money. All my cousins got
letters from Roosevelt with their "Greetings." I went across the city block, out on
the square, and went down to the draft board and I asked that little secretary I'll
leave that story until later on Waldo Road and she was a good looking gal.
Instead of her going through the board, I asked her how I stood on the draft and
she just put my name down.

C: She did what?

G: She drafted me right there. I didn't have a wife. Do you know the reason I didn't
have a wife? I had all kinds of girl friends I mean beautiful girls but I
wouldn't take them for my wife because I didn't have a job. People don't do that
now. They go ahead and get married anyhow.

C: Right. Now before you went into service, you worked for Sears up until time to
go to the war, where did you live? Did you still live with your parents?

G: Yes.

C: And they were both living? Where did you live in Gainesville?

G: My daddy and bought five acres out where the school busses
are kept out there.

C: Out on the east side on Waldo Road?

G: Yes. We had five acres across the road and my was in the back
of it.

C: Was it Waldo Road or Newnan's Lake Road?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 13
February 10, 2002

G: We called it the Lake Road. It was dirt when we went out there. They had
scoop buckets, and they built with buckets.
They didn't have any bulldozers.

C: You mean they graded the road.

G: They graded the road to the lake.

C: So that was when you first came back from Miami.

G: Yes.

C: And you still had your junk shop out there.

G: When I was in the second grade, I lived just across Roper Avenue, they called it,
in an apartment house out there. I believe it was Jernigan's. I lived up there with
my grandmother. She didn't live with my dad and mom. She was my mother's

C: Why did you live with your grandmother?

G: Because Momma and Daddy was hunting.

C: Oh, and they needed somebody to take care of you.

G: Yes, and when they came, we rode all over the country looking for a place that he
thought would be suitable for an automobile agency and decided on right here.
Daddy bought this place out there and there wasn't any water or any lights. It was
just five acres out there, right in front of where the busses are.

C: Then where did you move to?

G: We lived there twenty years after World War II.

C: I know you played football when you were at G.H.S., but did they have high
school dances?

G: I can't remember much about dances. I went to square dances all over the
country, down in Springs.

C: Anyway, you were friends with the Cragos. Were there others that you knew?
Billy Thomas, was he one of the ones you knew?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 14
February 10, 2002

G: Yes. Billy Thomas didn't go to school there. He went to school at Gainesville
High School, and I played football on the team where he was. Yes, I knew Billy
Thomas well.

C: There were some others, I expect, that were friends.

G: I think that Billy Thomas is about the only one living out of that football team.

C: I don't know. John Crago, I don't know if he played football. Did he?

G: No. He was younger.

C: Oh, I thought he was your age. Anyway, you had a lot of good friends in

G: Yes. I've got a picture somewhere of that football team. I need to find it because
I think all of them are dead.

C: If you find it, we'll make a copy and put it down at the Matheson Center.

G: That would be fine.

C: They like to have copies of old pictures.

G: I'll look for it. We had "Horse" (Howard) Bishop as a coach. We had another
coach. He and his brother both played football, and his daddy owned a theater.
Hartman. Randy Hartman and Jimmy Hartman.

C: Randy Hartman. I knew that name, too. That was a good school to go to.
Professor Buchholz was still the principal, I guess? You had a good time in high
school. When you were in grade school, do you have any memories of any
special friends when you were over here at Kirby Smith? Of course, they called it
Eastside then.

G: I remember Bema Shannon. She was the oldest schoolteacher over there. That
was probably before your time. She taught for about 50 years, and she was the
principal over here.

C: The first principal I knew was Miss Metcalf.

G: I remember her and I was in her daughter's class. She
was a pretty little thing and went with all the University boys.

C: Miss Ruth Peeler was one of my first grade teachers. She taught over there.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 15
February 10, 2002

G: Ruth Peeler I remember her. She was there a long time. Bema Shannon retired
after about 50 years. You know what they paid her? $50 a month! The first bus
driver that I remember I can't call his name right off but he is still living in
East Gainesville. I don't know whether I've got his name written down or not. I
went to see him the other day. He was just a few years older than me and he was
driving the school bus when I was in the second grade! He went to Simmons. Do
you remember Simmons?

C: The only Simmons I knew was Boward Simmons out at P.K. Yonge, but that's a
different family. There was another Simmons family.

G: This fellow, I believe, was superintendent of the schools. One of the teachers
gave this fellow a note a bus. This
teacher I forget whether it was Bema Simmons or but
anyway, he gave him a note and he went to Simmons and Simmons said, "Yes,
you can drive the bus." He was one of the first bus drivers out here on the east

C: This wasn't a school bus?

G: Yes. A school bus.

C: Did you ride the bus?

G: I did a little bit.

C: Because you were out on the lake road.

G: I had a bicycle, and I remember riding out there

C: He would be a good one for us to talk to, to interview.

G: Yes. A real good one.

C: Well, when you think of his name.

G: He came up hard and worked his own way and he is still able to talk good.

C: I think we ought to go on now to your World War II experiences. You say you
got drafted.

G: I got drafted. I got paid the same thing that the CCC boys got paid. You know
what that was?

C: No.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 16
February 10, 2002

G: $21 a month. That's 710 a day. didn't have
any money. On top of that, and some of us being soldiers, he told Admiral Halsey
that so we were marines. So we went there and
got 71 a day and then went to Australia and we got $1 a day for a few days and
then we went to Caledonia and then to Guadalcanal and we were three
Christmases at Guadalcanal. I got $2 a day; I don't know what everybody else
got. I got combat as a soldier/marine.

C: Where did they train you before you went to Australia?

G: Fort Bragg, North Carolina. We went from Blanding to Fort Bragg. There were
five million of us drafted at that 71. We

C: Right. So you were in the war. Did you have some terrible experiences? Were
they bad, good?

G: Well, we had all gotten our letter and they sent us back to Caledonia and we spent
a few months there. Since I had already had malaria in the States, it didn't knock
me out. They sent me back to Guadalcanal. I was there the second Christmas.
Then my outfit moved up to where there were 91,000 Japs, up to Bougainville.
That was the biggest island. You see, there are a lot of islands in the Solomons.

C: Right.

G: Most of us went to Bougainville, and we were there a year. You see, this is
Australia's territory. The English had taken all the Australian soldiers and carried
them to Africa, so Australia didn't have any soldiers and we went in. There were
200 nurses on the ship that I went over on. They established a hospital in
Melbourne, Australia.

C: So you saw active combat.

G: Oh yes.

C: And you were in the part of the Marine Corps.

G: Well, we were drafted as soldiers.

C: You were drafted as soldiers, so were you in the Army actually?

G: We stayed in the Army, but we were under Admiral Halsey.

C: Admiral Halsey was a Navy man.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 17
February 10, 2002

G: Yes. All the news reports they put out was about Marines, and it was us.

C: And it was the Army.

G: It must have been a military secret.

C: Yes. So you stayed there until the war was over?

G: No. After they got through with us, they sent my outfit on to the Philippine
Islands when they invaded Leyte. My mother had written Senator Lodge and he
had got a bill to rotate soldiers after so long a time, and I think the Germans had
done the same thing. This was three years, you know. So I got signed out for the
rotation, and they told me I could have 30 days back in the States. Well, I got
back here in the spring and it wasn't long before the Germans fell and then they
bombed the Japs. Anyway, I got out in June 20, 1945.

C: Okay, so you stayed in until June 1945. But you did come for 30 days and have a

G: Yes, and they extended it, and I was home from about March. I came through on
the west coast, to San Francisco, when they were shipping us back this way, and
everybody was crying and President Roosevelt had died the day we shipped out
from California.

C: So you went back after your 30 day leave?

G: No. I reported to Atlanta, and they sent me home on furlough.

C: Then the war was over and you were out for good. Okay, so World War II was
over and you came back to Gainesville to live.

G: Yes. I went to work for Firestone Tire Company. I had two people old man
Green, that was a lumber man. I was in his car and gasoline.
You see, gasoline was rationed. Pat took me out to supper and
wanted to know what I wanted to do. I guess he thought I might want to work for

C: Had you known him before?

G: My cousin worked for him, and we were friends. My cousin stayed with him 35
years. I didn't go to work for him. I went to work right across the street there at
Firestone, and I stayed there a good while.

C: Who owned Firestone at that time?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 18
February 10, 2002

G: They changed hands while I was there. It wasn't an ownership, I think; it was

C: But you worked there for a while?

G: I worked there for about a year.

C: Then where did you go?

G: Then I went into the insurance business and went to Palatka.

C: An insurance business?

G: Liberty National.

C: Liberty National Insurance Company. Did you have to have somebody give you
some kind of training? In those days you didn't? You just went in.

G: Most of them had been paying premiums so they wouldn't drop the insurance, and
the inspector came down. The caught them and they fired them and me, too, and I
hadn't done that.

C: What had they done?

G: They paid the premiums for their customers.

C: What's wrong with that?

G: It's not legal.

C: So they kicked you all out of the insurance business, even though you hadn't done
that, and you were out of a job.

G: Yes.

C: Then where did you go? Had you gotten married by then?

G: No.

C: Still single, and you lived in Gainesville. Did you live with your folks then?

G: I went into the cattle business. Finally I opened a meat market down there on

C: 8th Avenue now.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 19
February 10, 2002

G: I opened a meat market down there, and my uncle was stealing my money so I got
out of that.

C: You bought cattle?

G: I bought and sold because my uncle was an expert on cattle buying. He was
buying cattle for a long time from Texas. This was before the war. He was he
was paying people $7 a head for cattle and they were shipping them from Texas.

C: And he was shipping cattle from before. So you knew him and when you got
back from the war, after the insurance thing failed, you were buying and selling

G: Yes, we were buying and selling. I bought as many as 15 head in a bunch.

C: Then you butchered them and started your own meat market?

G: Yes, we did some butchering.

C: Did that last just a few years?

G: Until he started taking my money!

C: Then what did you do?

G: What did I do? I got married.

C: Okay, what year was that?

G: 1948.

C: So we're getting up there. In 1948 you got married. You haven't told me about
your wife and how you met her.

G: She was working for McGriff in the upholstery business.

C: Which McGriff?

G: The one who was on 8h Avenue. I get them mixed up. I guess it was Gus.

C: There were twin boys. Was that Gus and Emmett?

G: That was Emmett.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 20
February 10, 2002

C: Emmett was the one that had an upholstery business.

G: Yes. My wife was working for him, and I met her there. My store was across the

C: Your butcher store.

G: Yes.

C: What was your wife's name?

G: Irene Tindol.

C: Was she from Gainesville?

G: No. She was from Enterprise, Alabama. I let her come over to my store, and she
opened up her sewing in my store.

C: So she quit McGriff and opened up her own?

G: Yes.

C: Was it upholstering again?

G: Yes.

C: Where did you and Irene live?

G: I forget the name of the place. I guess it was on 11 .

C: Had you been living there before you met her and married her?

G: No.

C: This was a new place you found.

G: I had been living with my folks up to that.

C: You and your wife found a place on 11th Avenue, you think? Over on the east

G: 11th Street.

C: Northeast?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 21
February 10, 2002

G: Yes. I was married 15 years and moved 13 times.

C: All in Gainesville?

G: She bought property and I bought property. The last place was Prairie Creek Fish

C: That was out on the Palatka Highway?

G: I bought 110 acres off the Parker Road, and I made a killing on that.

C: West of town. Now, when you had the Prairie Creek property, you didn't run a
fish camp, did you?

G: Yes. We had a fish camp.

C: What year was that?

G: It was up to 1960. 1958, 1959, and '60.

C: So just two or three years.

G: Yes.

C: And you lived out there and had a fish camp.

G: Yes.

C: That was somewhere after you left the butcher shop?

G: One of the first places we bought was out there at the end of the lake road. I
for something. He offered me some good
property and I didn't take it. We bought a lot out there right at the end of the lake
road, at Newnan's Lake.

C: Did you live out there, too?

G: Yes.

C: It sounds like you moved all over.

G: Oh yes. We did.

C: Did you have a family?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 22
February 10, 2002

G: She had two sons and we finally got them.

C: She had already been married before.

G: Oh yes.

C: You and she never had any children?

G: No.

C: Anyway, her two sons were with her husband and then she got them? When you
got married, where were the two boys?

G: They were up in Alabama.

C: With her husband?

G: Yes.

C: So she did get them eventually, and then you raised them?

G: Yes.

C: Were they little when you got them?

G: Well, rather small. One of them stayed with us until he graduated from high
school and the other one wasn't interested in school very much. But this one did
pretty well. He loved to go to church quite a bit, and he played drums in the
church. He went in the Navy as soon as he got out of high school. He wanted to
go in the and my brother-in-law and I talked him out of that. He
got in the Navy and was on the "Big E" that was bombing from the Philippines to
Hong Kong.

C: He was on the what?

G: The "Big E". Aircraft carrier.

C: What do you mean "Big E"?

G: That was one of the most famous ships.

C: And the name of it was "Big E"?

G: Yes. Enterprise.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 23
February 10, 2002

C: Oh, the Enterprise. So that was the ship he was on in the Navy an aircraft

G: Yes.

C: Now he was there during what action?

G: During the War. They bombed from the Philippines
(Manila) down to Hong Kong, and the Navy sent them back and forth. We lost a
lot of pilots out there.

C: But he did all right?

G: Yes. He was a gunner on the ship. He retired from the Navy and then took a job
with the Navy and lives over in Alligator Creek.

C: Okay, so is your wife still living?

G: No, she died in 1963.

C: So you've been on your own since then. And the other boy, did he stay around?

G: He's around and around. He called me the other night, the first time in years.

C: You've told me a lot of interesting things. I'm sure you may think of some other
things to tell me, and if you have any other particular stories you want to tell me
about your father or his friends or your business friends.

G: What I thought we were going to do was talk about the history of this county.

C: Well, I would like to hear you talk about the history of this county. I wanted to
get your history first, so you tell me what you want to tell me about the history of
Alachua County.

G: I've got

C: On a piece of paper? Good.

G: It's a little page.

C: That's wonderful.

G: I've got some more. I've got a whole thing written out on it, but it's just loose
and I do better just telling than I do writing.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 24
February 10, 2002

C: That's good. We want to hear it.

G: I have a contention that the reason St. Augustine lasted 400 years. Do you know
why? On account of cattle. They had Indians over here and they had a big cattle
farm. You know Tuscawilla right there at Micanopy, right up on the hill there
was a big ranch up there, a Spanish ranch. I don't know when it was established
or when it went away, but the reason that the fort lasted was because the Indians
were raising cattle over there and driving them out here to what we call Cowpen
Lake. They were penning them there and raising them and running them across
the St. John's and right out to the Spanish That was
their secret. The Spanish were different to the Indians. The main thing about this
Paynes Prairie.

C: Now, St. Augustine was founded long before Gainesville, but it didn't last any
longer. We're still here, and they're still here. What do you mean it lasted

G: I'm talking about militarily through their period. We tend
to zip through 400 years like it was nothing.

C: Well, Gainesville wasn't founded as early.

G: I'm talking about before the United States existed.

C: Right, I know you are. There wasn't any Gainesville.

G: And I've got a theory about Gainesville, what created Gainesville. The
government got this program going. You read about it in the history that way
they had to go to California. The government gave a section of land for every
mile of railroad that was laid, all over the country, and especially here. It was so
sweet because we had three railroads in here. One of the railroads was put here
by the first Senator, named Yulee. During the Confederate War, the Civil War,
they tore the railroad up, but he rebuilt it after the war, and it was across the state
from Feruandina to Cedar Key.

C: Right.

G: I remember we used to hunt down there during the time that it was going back and
forth to Cedar Key, before the highway was built. They had the railroad in there
and they finally changed the engine over to diesel electric. We called it the
"Hoodlum." My uncle went down there hunting and he put sulphur on and it got
wet, and his teeth got loose from sulphur. He had been a railroad man up in
Waldo, but got in a wreck and hurt his foot. When his teeth got loose, he flagged
the Hoodlum down and came back to Gainesville on it.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 25
February 10, 2002

C: His teeth got loose from what?

G: Sulphur.

C: What kind of sulphur was there?

G: I guess he put it in his shoes, on his legs, and then they got wet, and you can't do
that with sulphur.

C: Why would he put sulphur on?

G: For insects.

C: I see. You've got to explain these things as we go along. They don't make much
sense to us!

G: Anyway, he got the Hoodlum and got back to Gainesville, and later on, during
Prohibition, they hauled fish on the railroad from Cedar Key. The bootleggers
had a man put on in the
down low and put the fish and ice on top of it. That was how they smuggled it.
Later on, Daddy saw one of the cars that they were bootlegging their whiskey on,
and they bought that Manatee Springs place and they had a moss gin down there,
and they hauled their whiskey on top of that moss gin. They had boats coming up
the Suwanee River.

C: I never heard of moss gin. What does that mean? Did they make the whiskey?

G: Yes, but gin never This Florida moss,
they'd take it and dry it in place of that, and they had to have a gin to do it.

C: I see. It didn't have anything to do with whiskey. Okay, so that's part of your
story. You wanted to say something about Paynes Prairie.

G: Yes, and I want to say something about the Spanish ports they had missions. The
fact that they treated the Indians altogether different here from what they treated
them in other places. They continued to do it until General Jackson came down
here with a bunch of Cherokees and killed them all off up in Alachua.

C: Now you're talking about a long time ago, way back in the Civil War days.

G: Before the Civil War days.

C: How do you know all this?

G: I've read up on it quite a bit. You see, originally Florida was all Spanish.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 26
February 10, 2002

C: Right, except for the Indians.

G: Then they traded it to the British for about 20 years for the Bahamas. The British
were about as mean as anybody who came in, and they started planted rice over
there at Palatka at Rice Creek. They furnished the Indians blankets with disease
in them, and they killed off a whole tribe over there. I mean a big tribe. You
know those things they put up in Alaska, cut a tree out and make a name out of it.

C: Oh, statues.

G: They do that in California and Alaska, but they found some over here in Palatka.

C: Like a totem pole, you mean?

G: Yes. The English wiped that tribe out and then the Spanish got part of the back,
or was it the English? Anyway, the United States, under General Jackson, wanted
to get Florida.

C: To be a state.

G: To be a state. So after 1812, the Battle of that was fought
in New Orleans after the war was over, they fought a battle over there, and
Jackson had been fighting with the Cherokee Indians. He whipped them and then
brought some of them with him down here to Florida, and they wanted to take
Florida. He was the first governor of Florida, over in Pensacola. His wife said
there were so many mosquitoes she wouldn't stay there. He sent troops on down
near the in Alachua. He sent the Cherokees and they killed off all
the Spanish Indians.

C: Spanish Indians?

G: Yes, the ones that were going to school there.

C: Okay.

G: The Jesuit school. There were dozens of those schools around. People don't
realize there was one at Most people know about
that one. There was one between here and Alachua. There was one in Alachua,
and there were two or three on the other side of Alachua. The Jesuits were good
to the Indians. This Paynes Prairie out here that's the main thing that irks me.
It was sold to John for taxes Well, there's a whole lot behind that

C: Who owned it?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 27
February 10, 2002

G: The county. The railroad company gave it to the county.

C: Who was paying taxes on it?

G: That was the point. The county commission sold it for taxes.

C: Why? The county commission could pay its own taxes, couldn't they?

G: Let me tell you the story behind it. General "King" Payne was a master chief.
The Indians were more democratic than the white people were. They didn't
believe in owning that property. They said it was open to the public. When I was
a boy, they had berries out there on the east side all the way across down to

C: Berries?

G: Berries.

C: I know they raised cattle on it for a long time.

G: You see, I was a friend of the biggest cattle man there was here Arch Jackson.
Daddy knew his daddy, who was in the Civil War. They said there used to be a
lot of deer here until cattle disease killed them off.

C: Anyway, so the Prairie at one time was open and the county owned it, you say?

G: It was open to the public, and there were berries on it. People had farms and
berries and were living in hog heaven there under a democratic principle until the
county decided they had to have some money, so they sold it to John C

C: Right, from Ocala.

G: John C loved land around and fences, and there was 20 miles of
water there and he drained it off. He pumped it with diesels.

C: Where did he pump it to?

G: To Orange Lake. You see, this county owned Orange Lake. A lot of people don't
know that. It goes around by McIntosh but the lake bottom belongs to this
county. There were a lot of prairies that people don't know about, that's now
private property. This was cattle country. That's what I'm talking about, that St.
Augustine was dependent for their bread and butter from over here. All during
those years, it's forgotten. During the Spanish reign and during the English reign
and all down there, this was cattle country.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 28
February 10, 2002

C: Well, Paynes Prairie at one time was a lake way back.

G: Yes, I've been on it.

C: Yes, my mother used to talk about that.

G: The road stopped down on the other side. I remember before they built the road,
there was a fellow had a duck hunting camp out there. My daddy and this fellow I
mentioned that was a car dealer, they killed 200 ducks out there in one day.

C: So when you went out to the Prairie as a kid and all these dairy farms were out
there, what happened to them all? When Camp bought it, did they tear them
down or did they just disintegrate?

G: When this Camp bought it, they moved off because they weren't making a living.
He fenced it.

C: If it was his property, of course, he could do that. He shouldn't have, but he did.
The county shouldn't have sold it to him, don't you suppose?

G: Yes. They never gave his name to it, and he was democratic. That proves how
democratic we are.

C: We're not the best, right?

G: That opens up your eyes.

C: Right.

G: You see, morality changes. That bunch of Spanish who went down to Mexico
wanted to kill all of them. They were backed by the Catholic Church, weren't

C: Don't ask me. You're talking about things I'm not up on.

G: These Jesuits here seemed to be different. I don't think most people realize the
difference. They were supposed to be Catholic, weren't they?

C: Jesuits are Catholic, that's for sure.

G: Well, they didn't act like the rest of them.

C: Well, maybe not. Have you got any more special things you want to tell us for
the tape before we wrap this up?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 29
February 10, 2002

G: I was going to put this stuff in about the history as separate from mine.

C: Well, you'd better put it right here. This is going to be your only chance to put it
on tape, so if you've got some more history you want to talk about, now's the

G: Well, I needed to talk about Levy.

C: Levy County?

G: Mr. Levy.

C: I don't know who he is. What was his first name?

G: Let me tell you what happened to him. Levy was a friend to the Spanish. He was
in with these .At that time, the Spanish gave him half of

C: Anyway, the Spanish gave him half of Florida? Which half?

G: Well, it went way on down south Florida I don't know exactly. Florida wasn't
considered much, and he was a businessman. He was the one that brought indigo
and transportation. You see, the Spanish in those years were using the Suwanee
River and the St. John's River for transportation. People selling mules and were
located in Alachua.

C: Now you're talking about Mr. Levy.

G: Levy and Archer and all that section back in there, he went down in there and
opened up stores. He introduced sugar cane and indigo and a lot of things for
people to grow here.

C: I see. So you think Levy was a good man?

G: Well, he lived with his slaves. His son was named Yulee. He
wasn't taking Daddy's name. He was more of a good man for Florida, I think,
than Levy was. Yulee had to follow behind where his daddy went. He had big
farms all down to Homosassa. They've still got equipment down there that he set
up for the sugar cane business. They were introducing sugar cane into Florida.

C: What years are we talking about? You're talking about way back, long before
this was a state?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 30
February 10, 2002

G: I guess states kind of confuse me, but Levy, his daddy, was concerned with his
and the was part of the Spanish
government for a long time. ruled Spain for a long

C: Okay, that's how he got involved with Florida.

G: Yes. He was given the biggest part of Florida.

C: What did he do with it? He helped develop it.

G: I know he had stores all down from Alachua toward Levy County.

C: Eventually, did he die before it became a state? When it became a state, all that
property became part of the state, so that's interesting.

G: He took in He was the first senator to have the railroad.

C: And he was the son of this Levy?

G: He farmed all around Archer and on down toward the south.

C: Well, you have had a lot of interesting things to talk about. I've enjoyed it, and I
hope you have, too. I tell you, when we get this typed up, we will give it to you
and you read it and add anything you think you've forgotten. If you want to
change anything that's in there that you think is incorrect, or you remember
something different, no problem. We'll change it and put it in just the way you

G: We sort of shifted back and forth from personal to historical.

C: We usually do the person's history about your family, but I was very glad to hear
what you know about Florida and Alachua County history really, because this is
part of the Alachua County Historical Center.

G: The worst thing that happened around here was when the county sold Paynes
Prairie. I don't think it was theirs to sell.

C: Well, we don't know what year that was either, do we?

G: Yes.

C: What year do you think it was?

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 31
February 10, 2002

G: I can get real close. You see, when I was a boy, it wasn't sold. There wasn't any
Game Commission, so they couldn't stop it. This was back in the early 20's
before they built the highway across it.

C: Yes. You were just a boy in the 20's.

G: Yes. I was born in 1917. I guess I thought I was grown when I was 10.

C: That would have been 1927. Anyway, we can add any of that. We really can,
and make it the way you want it, so you're happy with it.

G: I was daddy's boy. He carried me everywhere. He took me to Crown Point down
there in Wacahoota when I was in my diapers, and he said the Crown girls
changed my diaper for me. He had the gasoline wagon that he was driving and
carried fuel down there.

C: The Crown what did you call it?

G: The Crowns. There was a whole tribe of Crowns down there.

C: It was a farm?

G: Yes. They had one of the side tracks from the river went inland.

C: Where was this?

G: This side of Wacahoota. You know where the country club is?

C: Oh sure.

G: Well, that was his house.

C: I see. The Crown family lived there. Okay.

G: He was

C: Do you know the name of the Crown family?

G: Well, there was a There were other dealers in there. There
was so much land in there for dairies that there was a Johnson Dairy. There was a

C: Well, you can add those names in here. If some of it's out of order, we can move
it around so it fits in. We'll do a good job. I've got a very nice woman that does
this. I thank you.

Interview with Edward H. Gardner 32
February 10, 2002

G: I appreciate it.

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