MATHESON HISTORICAL CENTER
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan
Ruth C. Marston
May 15, 1995
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 2
May 15, 1995
O: Good morning, Elizabeth. This is Betty O'Byrne again, and the date is May 15, 1995.
We are going to continue your interview. I read the little pieces of your life story that
you have written, and we had already covered most of them, so I thought it was most
appropriate rather than copying them, I thought it would be better if we talked about what
we have not already talked about that you mentioned in that. So, we will begin by going
back and remembering the places that you have lived in your life. Maybe the first place
M: Yes, we lived in Ocala when I was three or four years old, because that was when the war
was over and I remember .
O: That was World War I?
M: Yes. I was born in 1914, and that was 1918, so I was just four. We lived in a boarding
house and had a big black colored cook, who thought I was so perfect, and when I had
the flu that year she squeezed some onions somehow and made onion juice and put it in
my ears. I had terrible earaches, and she always waited on me. My momma was real sick
at the time, too. I had a big dog there, a collie named Pal, and we finally had to get rid of
him. He was getting so big and living in a boarding house, you couldn't hardly keep a
dog, so I gave him to a dairy outside of Ocala and they loved him. He used to herd the
cows for them.
O: You had flu while you were in Ocala?
O: How did they treat that?
M: Well, I don't remember. But the doctor would come to the house and give us something.
I don't know what they used way back then.
O: Did you put something on your chest?
M: Yes. She'd put I think it was camphor and lard and something -- you know, made a paste
and put it on you.
O: On flannel?
M: Yes. On red flannel.
O: And then you moved to Tampa?
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 3
May 15, 1995
M: No, before we moved to Tampa, we moved to Fort Myers.
O: Oh, I didn't know you lived down there.
M: Yes. You see, Daddy worked for the railroad and you know how they'd get bumped, or
whatever they call it, and moved to another place, so we moved to Fort Myers, but I don't
think we lived there but a year or two and then we moved to Tampa. We lived there four
or five years, I guess, before we moved to Orlando.
O: Well, I believe you were involved in some kind of an automobile accident while you
were in Tampa?
M: Yes, in Tampa, when I was five years old. I was going to Catholic school. The school
was on a block behind us, and my momma didn't want me to go clear across town to
school, so she sent me to a Catholic school. I was coming home one day, I think at lunch
time, and this man, a Cuban who owned the cigar factory, came flying around the comer
and run over me and dragged me for about a block or so and I couldn't walk for three
months. He did something and tore my kidney loose -- I have a floating kidney -- and he
paid all the bills and all, but I stayed in bed all that time and at the same time, my cat had
kittens and I used to keep the cat and kittens in bed with me.
O: Your momma let you keep the cat and kittens in bed with you?
M: Yes. I had a big yellow tom cat named "Golden" I think his name was, and he used to
love to be dressed up in doll clothes, and I would push him around in the doll
carriage. You'd put a hat and dress on him, and he'd ride in the doll carriage.
O: I believe you experienced a hurricane while you were living there in Tampa?
M: Yes, we had moved out in the northwest and I don't remember whether it was 1923 or
something when they had that bad one down in south Florida. Do you remember when it
O: No, I don't.
M: We'd have to look it up. We were there by ourselves. Daddy was out at the port of
Tampa, and Momma and me decided to go across the street to a lady's house because we
were afraid, and the wind was blowing so hard it kept knocking us down. It took us
about thirty minutes to get across the street. It was pouring down rain, but we did go
over there and stay until the worst blew over. The next day we went out to the bay shore,
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 4
May 15, 1995
as they called it, and there were baby grand pianos and cars and everything floating in the
water, in the bay. You could see the water had been up to the second story of some of
those two-story houses.
O: That was a lot. I guess the wind had blown the water up there.
M: Yes. It had really torn those pretty places to pieces and knocked the sea wall away, and
everything. It was really devastating. I reckon it killed. That was the same hurricane,
they were building the road down at Key West that killed all those people that year, I
think hundreds of people.
O: Your father worked out at the Port of Tampa? Did you all ever go out there?
M: There was a beautiful park out there called Ballast Point, and I know when my grandma
used to come, we used to go out there and they had amusements, a merry-go-round and
things, and it was a beautiful park -- had all kinds of beautiful flowers. I've often
wondered if it is still there in Tampa. I'm going to Tampa on June 2nd to that aquarium.
O: Oh, you are. How wonderful.
M: On a day trip with AAA.
O: Oh, how nice.
M: Yes, once or twice a year I go on trips with them.
O: Did you ever buy anything while you were down there at the port of Tampa where your
M: No, my daddy used to bring bananas and those that look like bananas, those plantains.
My mother ran the boarding house and she used to fry them. They were real good. He
worked out there and when the ships would come in, he could get them right off the
O: Then you moved to Orlando?
M: Yes. We lived there about a year or so when Penny was born.
O: Penny was your sister.
M: Yes, my only sister. She was bor there on Grace Street. I went to a private school
there. It was just a block down from where we lived. We lived in a big apartment house,
and this old lady had a private school and she didn't have but about six or eight kids when
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 5
May 15, 1995
I went to school there. I can't think of her name, but she was real nice, probably an old
maid, with her skirts sweeping the street, you know.
O: When Penny was born, did you like to do anything with her?
M: Oh, yes. My momma said she would never have had her if I hadn't begged for a sister.
Yes, I loved her dearly. I held her all the time and did everything for her. I really did
O: Pushed her around in the baby carriage?
M: Oh, yes. And carried her when I could. She was always full of the devil.
O: I believe you said in your written autobiography that your first boyfriend was there?
What was his name?
M: Leslie Hopkins. He lived across the street. His daddy had a sheet metal shop or
something. He worked on machinery and stuff, and he lived across the street. We used
to play all the time, climbing orange trees. There was an orange grove in back of the
house, and we used to climb the trees and played together all the time. We used to play
O: Did you live close to Lake Eola?
M: It was about two blocks, just down the street from us.
O: Did you ever go down there?
M: Oh, yes. We went down there and fed the ducks and the swans. Swans are mean, you
know, and one time I had a friend named Doreen, and she had a little bull dog and I had
the dog on a leash, and this swan kept spitting at us so he decided to chase him, so he
pulled me into the lake with him and the swan.
O: Well, I'm glad you got out all right. What are your memories of Wechiva Springs?
M: Oh, it was beautiful. We went there all the time. You know, in the summer, weekends
and all we went out there swimming, and you could even rent boats and go down the
river, you know the river that runs out into the St. Johns, I guess. It was a beautiful, clear
river, like the spring down here -- Crystal River, or something -- no, Rainbows --
beautiful water and cold as ice.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 6
May 15, 1995
O: How did you keep your watermelons cold?
M: Put them in the water.
O: While you were living in Orlando, you said something about going to Daytona Beach?
M: Every summer we'd spend a month at Daytona Beach. The last time we spent the month
there was when Momma was pregnant with Penny and she wasn't feeling so bad and
Daddy would come on the weekend and bring us a bunch of groceries and stuff from
Orlando, and my Grandma always went with us. There were three of us. I didn't know
anybody down there, and I'd go play on the beach, and I think that's where I got such bad
skin. I blistered so many times. I sure hated it down there. It was so boring. I'd go to
the bakery and get those creams -- you know, horns. That's why I got hooked on them. I
could eat them every day. Then when I grew up, I worked in Dorsey's Bakery with Ruth
Kennard, and we'd take the rolls out of the oven and they'd be hot and boy, they'd be so
good. The colored people were coming in, and they'd say they wanted a cinnamon
O: Cinnamon "bum", eh?
M: I worked there. That's the only real job I ever had in my life.
O: Where was Dorsey's Bakery?
M: Right up there next to where Cox is, Harry's, is now.
O: Where Harry's is.
M: Yes, the little store right next to it. That was the bakery.
O: Was that the Dorsey that ?
M: Lived on University Avenue. Then he moved from there, around to behind the Elks
O: When you came to Gainesville around 1925 or 1926, the first school you went to, I
believe, you said was Maggie Tebeau's?
M: Yes, I went to Maggie Tebeau. The only teacher I can remember except her was Martha
Boring. She was a Tison.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 7
May 15, 1995
O: She was a Tison, but she married a Boring.
M: Yes. Her daddy lived right on that street, Virginia Avenue, that used to be on this side of
the Post Office. They lived there and she married him.
O: So you remember your teacher, Martha Tison, who married a Boring?
O: And her father was a dentist.
M: She was a real pretty lady. She had the prettiest black hair. She's in a nursing home.
O: She's in a nursing home now?
M: I hear them talking in the Sunday School class about her.
O: How did you answer roll call at Maggie Tebeau's school?
M: We all had to answer with a Bible verse like, you know, "Jesus loves me." Just the short
ones, and I learned more of the Bible there than I ever did, because we had to have a new
one every day or they'd give you demerits. She was great on demerits -- the lady that ran
O: Then you went over to what is now called Kirby Smith?
M: Yes. My mother went to school there, and I went to school there, and my kids went to
O: Oh my goodness gracious.
M: They built Kirby Smith when my mother was a little girl, and they lived right behind it.
It was a big house there where my grandma lived, and the colored woman that lived in
the back yard there, they were former slaves of my grandpa, was Mamie Dugan. She
married an Irishman that was a bricklayer who built that school. She lived out here at
Fairbanks, and she had six kids. She worked for me up until she died.
O: And her name was?
M: Mamie D-u-g-a-n. She's got a daughter that runs that flower shop on 23rd.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 8
May 15, 1995
O: Ben's Flower Shop?
M: Yes. She's right across from Ward's. She's a high yellow. She has pretty good looking
kids. Her husband was a white man, an Irishman, Dugan.
O: Yes, that would be Irish, wouldn't it. And some of your teachers there -- I believe one
was a Bobbie Bums.
M: Yes, that's the first one I remember having. She was a very pretty young girl. You know
a long time ago, we didn't have young, pretty teachers. I know I've had some killers --
awful looking ones. There was one. I think it was a Mrs. Hall. Something happened to
Kirby Smith, and we had to go over to GHS one year. It got burned or something. And
she was the meanest old lady. At least I thought she was. She had a sick husband and
she just couldn't wait to get home to her husband, and all. I'm sure her name was Mrs.
Hall, I believe it was.
O: Did Miss Bobbie Bums have a problem with you while you were there?
M: Yes, talking. She'd say, "Elizabeth, will you hush?" If I talked again, she'd say, "Go
stand in the corer." I'd go stand in the corer.
O: Who were some of your other teachers there?
M: Jerry Blacklock and Miss Mizell and I can't think of some of the others. Mrs. Weber was
O: Some of your friends when you were growing up here in Gainesville were Elizabeth
M: And Elizabeth Flowers, and I lost contact with her. I asked a friend of mine that goes to
Genealogy Society that lives in Williston, but they lived in that next little town down
there what was it, Easterbrook or something -- anyhow, she lived down there. They
lived over here you know where the Chitty house used to be, in front of the Presbyterian
Church? They lived in the second house down there and later I'll tell you who lived there
was Sue O'Neill's family. That's where Elizabeth lived. They moved to Martinbrook --
that was the name of that little town down below Williston -- and I lost contact with her.
They moved when we were in high school.
O: What about Elizabeth Perry?
M: She didn't marry for a long time. She got mad because I got married so young. She got
mad at me for a while, but she married a man that worked for the Florida Forest Service
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 9
May 15, 1995
and they lived all over Florida. E.L. Molphus. She lives in Savannah. Two years ago
she wrote me and asked me to come to see her. No, she called me on the phone one time
and said, "Come see me." And I said, "Okay." I can't drive up there by myself, so my
daughter-in-law, Pat, took me up there. We went up there on Thursday and stayed until
Saturday, and we had a great time. I'd never been to Savannah, and it's a beautiful town.
O: What were some of the things that you and Elizabeth Perry liked to do?
M: Oh, we liked to go swimming together, and played cards.
O: Where did you go swimming?
M: Glen Springs. We walked to Glen Springs.
O: That was a long walk.
M: Yes. I can't imagine it today, but we sure did. We walked there almost every weekend.
O: Were the roads paved?
M: No, dirt. There wasn't any 13th Street, except for a little pig trail. There was a creek that
went under there where the overpass is now. We'd take off our shoes and wade in the
O: Another one of your friends was Iva Lee McClellan?
M: Yes, that was my husband-to-be's sister. She was two years older than I was. She was
more than two years older than me because she was older than my husband, and he was
three years older than me, so she must have been about five years older than me.
O: Well, that was a nice introduction to your husband, wasn't it?
M: No, I knew him before that. He said the first time he saw me when we moved back to
Gainesville -- he lived across the street -- he said I was standing out and playing on the
sidewalk and he said he came up to me, "My name is Leslie. What's yours?" I said,
"Elizabeth." He told me later, "I decided right then I was going to marry you." I said,
"That was a heck of a long time ago."
O: Well, as you were growing up, I believe you said you belonged to a club called the Girls
Indian Club here?
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 10
May 15, 1995
M: Yes, that's not exactly the right name; however, I can't think of it. It was the Indian
something, because my grandchildren belong to it in Orlando.
O: Indian Guides?
M: Yes, something like that. They met there on 1st Street across from the Methodist Church.
I believe it was in the Stringfellow house because that's where we had parties all the
O: What kind of parties did you have?
M: Hallowe'en parties and Christmas parties, and all. They always were real good to
entertain us and have refreshments. Of course, you know kids and refreshments.
O: Tell me about the Hallowe'en parties that you had.
M: One that has stuck out in my mind, one time they blindfolded us and said we were going
to feel body parts, and they had grapes and said that was somebody's eyes, and they had
some kind of moss or something was supposed to be the hair, and all kind of fingernails
and stuff, trying to scare us. Of course, we were all screamy little gals.
O: Did you have costumes?
M: Yes, we all had costumes. My grandma always sewed and made me one.
O: Do you remember any of your costumes?
M: Kind of like a gypsy, I think, you know, with the skirt and blouse and a tie around the
middle and something on my head. That was the last one I remember.
O: Were you ever a ghost?
O: How did you make a ghost costume?
M: Just took an old sheet and cut the eyes in it.
O: I don't think things have changed very much? Kids still do that, don't they?
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 11
May 15, 1995
M: Yes. I have so many little blacks come here to my house on Hallowe'en. There was the
cutest one one time. She wasn't no bigger than this. She had big eyes and had on this
sheet. I said, "Are you a ghost?" She said, "Yep."
O: What were some of the things you all used to do in your teen years -- like going
M: Yes, we'd go uptown and go to McCrory's -- it was up there on the square, you know --
and that was our favorite shopping place. Then we'd go to the movies. There was a
movie theater, upstairs over where Cox is now, before the Lyric Theater came here. I
think it cost a dime. We had to go upstairs to the movie theater. In a few years they built
the Lyric down there, where law offices are now, just a half a block from the
Hippodrome. We went to the movies, then we'd go to ride.
O: Where did the people gather at the soda fountain? What was the popular one?
M: Glasses, on the north side of the square. Yes, that was a big treat when we had a little
surplus money, we'd go there and get us a soda or a cherry coke. That was my big thing.
O: Cherry coke?
O: Did you ever have what they called a float?
M: Yes, sometimes.
O: But cherry coke was your favorite.
M: Yes. Banana splits -- we had them when we were real flush with money.
O: I know that you met your husband-to-be, but you dated other boys, too, before you got
M: Yes, I dated several.
O: Who were some of the boys you dated?
M: I dated Ernest Stephens and Fred Duke and Lester Tillman and Herbert Home. I went
with that one -- what was his name, they run a lumber yard out here on 6th St. I slapped
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 12
May 15, 1995
his face one time when he put his hand on my leg and I slapped his face, and he shoved
me out of the car.
O: Oh my goodness.
M: Out at the Devil's Millhopper. And I said, "That's all right. You can shove me out if you
want to. My Daddy will kill you if you don't let me ride home." He let me get back in
O: I believe there was a Mack Ridgell.
M: Mack Ridgell. We used to go swimming out there where the Kaolin Mines are. You
know what that is?
O: Yes. Out on the other side of Hawthorne.
M: Mary went with Roy. I went with Mack, and somebody else went with us. Another
couple, I can't remember who they were. And sometimes Margaret Ridgell used to go. I
got an infection one time out there. I had a scratch on my ankle, and the cows swam in
the lake and I got a bad infection. I went to the doctor for weeks. I thought my foot was
going to rot off. Had to keep a wet dressing on it all the time.
O: That wasn't any fun. So you got married at seventeen, had a baby at eighteen, and then
M: Life picked up! I'm telling you. I was busy. I had my sister and my two little nieces I
kept, so I had four kids at eighteen. I wasn't very good at doing this thing, so my
Daddy hired a cook before the baby was born because I just couldn't manage the kids and
cook and tend to young-uns. Then I had a little colored gal that worked for me that
entertained the kids -- you know, teen-ager. She used to take them. We had one of those
little windup victrolas, and she'd wind that thing up, and we had one -- I think it was the
"Indian War Dance" they played all the time. I used to think I'd go crazy if I heard that
thing another time.
O: Then you had some friends move in with you?
M: Yes, that was Mary and Roy Ridgell.
M: Of course, that was in 1932 or 1933 and there wasn't any work. He was a painter so we
let him stay there so she could help me with the kids. She came from a big family. They
lived there a year or so. Later they left. They got more prosperous. He got ajob and
then a cousin of mine lived in Tampa and he was a baker and couldn't find any work
down there and he moved in with three little girls.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 13
May 15, 1995
O: My, you had a lot of people living with you all the time.
M: His wife was real nice, and she helped me cook and everything and take care of the kids.
O: Life really did pick up for you!
M: I'm telling you. We had so many kids running around there. Her kids were real close.
She had one that was a cry baby. She whined all the time. It was maddening.
O: And your husband was working at this time at Pepper Printing Company?
M: He worked there until he retired.
O: And when he began, he was about ---
M: He was fourteen. He was in the eighth grade when he went to work.
O: And when you all got married, his wages were about what?
M: Thirty-six dollars a week. And nobody else we knew had that much money.
O: You all were rich.
M: Yes. We really were considering.
O: So how did you all entertain yourselves?
M: We'd go swimming, riding (always had an old piece of car). We'd go out to that lake --
can't think --
O: Santa Fe?
M: No, no, no. A lake out there where the Kaolin Mines are. I can't think of it. But we'd go
out there swimming or would go to Poe Springs once in a while, and on Sunday
when we first got married, he and I would go out here on 16th Avenue and take our shoes
off and walk up and down the creek. We'd go walking and playing in the creek.
O: That creek was known as what?
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May 15, 1995
M: Hog Town Creek. Of course, that street wasn't paved. It was only a dirt road, and it had
a wooden bridge on 16th where it crosses.
O: I remember their saying how deep it was.
M: Yes, it was. We had an old piece of Chevrolet. I hated that car, but that's the only car we
had to use on Sunday.
O: You would go to dances? Where would you go to dances?
M: We'd go out to Lake Santa Fe to I think it was called Shipman's Landing. Anyhow, they
had a hillbilly band or something out there on the weekends and we'd go out there. Dot
and Pewee Browning would go with us. I went with some other boys; oh, we'll forget
them. I went with Tillis for a long time.
O: You, also, I believe, enjoyed some of the alcohol products that were produced in Alachua
County at that time?
M: Yes, White Lightning. That's what it was called, and when you drank it, it stopped right
here like liquid fire. I think it was made out of potash; really it was.
O: Probably. But how did you get that White Lightning?
M: There was a place out there. I'm not sure where it is, but I think it was about where the
Millhopper Shopping Center is on one of those corners, that this man named Halston
Kenn. He was an old bootlegger. This road was an unpaved road. A fenced old barn.
He had a house and a barn out there. We'd flash the lights and he'd go out to the field and
dig up a pint or two pints. He'd holler and say, "How many?" and in about ten minutes
he'd come back. If you had the money, you'd pay it; if you didn't, you'd say, "I'll be back
Saturday. Thank you."
O: And later on, who did you get your?
M: From Thomas. Thomas had a filling station there on 13th Street. It wasn't paved either, I
don't believe. Was it paved then? I guess it was paved then.
O: If you couldn't pay for it then, would he?
M: Yes, Leslie would say, "Mr. Thomas, I'll pay you Saturday." He'd say, "Okay, Leslie, I'll
go write it down."
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May 15, 1995
O: Then World War II came along, and you had three children by that time, and your
husband went off to war and was gone for several years?
M: Three and a half years.
O: Three and a half years he didn't get to come home.
M: Well, he went to basic training down at Sebring and came home, I think, after six weeks
and then they shipped him to Texas. While he was in Texas, Guerry had meningitis. He
was fifteen months old.
O: That was your youngest.
M: Yes. No, he didn't. Guerry had meningitis before Leslie went to Texas because he was
fifteen months old, and I think he was about two and one-half when Leslie left here. I
had to take Guerry to Jacksonville. He had to have a hip operation, and Dr. Lovejoy
operated on him. He was the first child he'd ever put an artificial hip in. A doctor came
down from North Carolina and did it. He was on the operating table six or seven hours.
Today when they put the artificial hips in people, they only last ten years at the top, and
Guerry's had his for fifty years.
O: Where did he get it?
M: At Hope Haven.
O: Where did they get the material?
M: I don't know. It was some kind of metal, and they said to never put a heating pad or
anything on it because it would get red hot and burn him. So he could never put heat on
O: At that same time, you had a teen-age son.
M: Yes. He was driving me crazy.
O: And a daughter?
M: Yes. A daughter preteen. So I guess Leslie wasn't but eleven or twelve years old, but he
had a paper route. He used to go on the paper route at five or six o'clock in the
morning and come at eight at night. I wouldn't see him no more. I'd get out and hunt
him. During the war, he'd be coming home from Sunday school and he'd stop on the
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May 15, 1995
square and talk to the soldiers. They'd say, "Where you going?" He'd say, "I'm going
home. Do you want to go home and eat dinner with me?" If they'd say yes, he'd bring
two or three men home for me to feed. All kinds of people I'd never heard of.
O: I imagine that those soldiers were very grateful.
M: They were. They were real nice boys, and I never had any problem out of any of them. I
guess they were so glad to get a home-cooked meal.
O: And to get into a home. They were probably homesick. Let's talk about your memories
of your Grandmother Goss. What were some of your memories of her? Was she
a good cook?
M: Yes, a great cook. Everything she cooked was delightful to me. She was my favorite
person in the world, above my Momma or anybody. I loved my Grandmother so. I really
loved my Grandmother. She was the influence that set me going to church because my
mother and daddy never went to church in my life that I know except when I had the kids
christened or when I joined the church. My grandmother, when I'd come up here to visit
her in the summer, she'd take me to the Methodist Church, to Sunday School and all
kinds of things she went to there. So I went to church from the time I was six or seven
years old. I went to Sunday School. My Momma and Daddy would take me there on
Sunday and drop me off and come back and pick me up. She loved to go to these tent
meetings. There used to be Billy Sunday and I can't think of some of the others' names.
They used to put a tent up down there behind the First Baptist Church, and we'd go there
every night to tent meetings and sing all the good songs that they don't sing any more in
church. I don't like the high falutin' things they sing.
O: What kind of a stove did she cook on?
M: On a wood stove. And everything was good. She kept the coffee pot sitting on the back
of it all the time. She drank coffee all day long. She was a little tiny woman. She never
weighed hardly over a hundred pounds in her life.
O: What were some of the foods that she used to cook on that stove that you liked?
M: My favorite was corn, cut off of the cob. I could eat it all day long. Peas and beans, you
know, everything we always liked. Macaroni and cheese. Those were so good.
O: How about chicken?
M: Fried chicken. Yes. Every Sunday -- we always had chicken on Sunday. We used to
then but now we have it every day.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 17
May 15, 1995
O: Did she do a lot of baking?
M: She sure did. She made wonderful cakes and pies.
O: What were some of the treats that she would have on your birthday?
M: Ice cream -- home-made peach ice cream. And I got to lick the dasher when she pulled it
out of the chum.
O: You got to lick the dasher. That was your favorite.
M: Yeah, boy. It was delightful. She made coffee ice cream. I've never had coffee ice
anywhere else, but it was good.
O: Oh. Tell me about the flowers she used to grow.
M: She had everything. She had a green thumb. She'd take things she wanted to root and
stick them under the edge of the eaves of the house and root roses, azaleas, or anything
she wanted to root. Japonicas, we called them then; now they're camellias. She'd stick
them in the dirt and they'd root for her. I'm pretty good that way, too. I can make most
O: Yes, I have seen that, witnessed that. Did you have figs?
M: Yes, we had fig trees. We had a guava tree and pomegranate. I used to cut switches off
the pomegranate and beat my kids with them. Leslie hated them. He said, "They've got
ants on them."
O: Oh, my goodness.
M: They'd sting them, you know, where I hit them.
O: Would you like to eat those pomegranates?
M: Oh, yes. I liked pomegrantates. Didn't you? We had a great big tree of pomegranates.
O: What did you do with the guavas?
M: Just ate them. I never cooked them.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 18
May 15, 1995
O: You never cooked them.
M: Grandma did. She cooked them and made jelly out of them. I never did. I used to make
blackberry jelly, though, and blueberry pie.
O: How did you get your blackberries and blueberries?
M: The colored woman that worked for me lived out in Fairbanks and she'd come and pick
them and bring them to me. She used to walk to work from out there, and I'd take her
O: Oh, my goodness, to Fairbanks.
M: Yes. And I'd take her home. She was a little old lady, too. Her mother had been a slave
of my granddaddy's. Mamie Dugan, you know. She loved my kids. She helped
me raise all of them.
O: That's wonderful. What do you think has been the guiding principle of your life?
M: I guess trying to treat people like you want to be treated and try to be a good friend to
most people and help them. I've always helped people. When they're sick or anything,
all my life I've done that. I had a friend, Bob Bradburn, and when they had a baby, they
lived down in south Gainesville, they didn't have hardly any money and they had old Dr.
Merchant. She was going to have a baby, so I said, "I want to see a baby born," so I went
down there and stayed there. They had the baby and handed it to me. Ooh! I never will
forget that. I never had seen one born. And then I bathed her and dressed her.
O: I believe you also took care of children besides your own?
M: Always. Since I've lived here, I've taken my grandchildren. I've raised Leslie's four kids.
The couple who live back here had a baby and the couple who live nextdoor had two I
kept. I kept students' babies. I think altogether I counted up about fifteen kids I've raised
O: Well, you certainly have been a caregiver, but I know that giving your care has not only
been to children.
M: No. My Daddy lived with me all my married life, and he was ill for two or three years
and my husband was sick for eighteen years. He had three cancers and five strokes and
then seven years ago, this friend of my husband's, Mr. Olsen, got sick and lost his leg.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 19
May 15, 1995
Before he lost his leg, he had a hip operation and he couldn't go home so I took him in for
that. Then when he got better, he went home. He had a trailer out here in Brittany. Then
he went to the car races down here at Bronson, and he an aneurysm and they took him in
the ambulance to the VA Hospital and operated on him for eleven hours. He almost died.
When he got better, they said he couldn't go home because he couldn't get around in the
trailer so I said, "I'll take him in my house." So I brought him home and I had him seven
years. He died the last day of February this year.
O: Well, you certainly have been a caregiver.
M: I sure have. I said, "I'm through." Vera Hall, a friend of mine, she wants me to take her
out of the Bailey House but I can't do it because she's not well at all and she has to be
bathed and everything. I'm too old to do that kind of work anymore. I think I can do it to
myself, and it seems like I owe to myself to do for me.
O: Yes, I think you do owe yourself a little rest, but I know that you're not resting on your
laurels. You are going all the time. Well, Elizabeth, I certainly do appreciate
your talking to me.
M: Well, I hope it does you some good.
O: It definitely will. You have given us a lot of information about what it was like to live in
Gainesville during the 20's, 30's, 40's and all that.
M: When we had the train coming up and down Main Street, you know.
O: Oh, yes.
M: I mean that was a big deal. You know we used to go up there and watch Louis Pennisi.
He used to push a little pushcart and sell hamburgers and things, not hamburgers, I think
drinks and ice cream to the people on the train.
O: That was before he opened Louis' Diner.
M: Yes. I remember that. Elizabeth Perry and I, everytime we'd get some money we'd go to
Louis' and get a cold drink or a hamburger. That was in the 1930's or the late 1920's, so
that's been a long time ago. Yes, I went to Louis' ninety-third birthday party. He must be
pushing a hundred now.
O: I think he is.
M: I saw him not too long ago in Pic 'n Save.
Interview with: Frances Elizabeth Guerry McClellan 20
May 15, 1995
O: His last name is Pennisi.
M: Um-huh. He had three boys and a girl, I think.
O: I know he had some grandchildren that went to P.K., too, about the same time that your
granddaughter was there.
O: Well, I certainly do appreciate this very much.