MATHESON HISTORICAL CENTER
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens
Virginia Black Jess
Ruth C. Marston
May 9, 2000
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 2
May 9, 2000
J: This is Virginia Black Jess, on May 9, 2000. I am interviewing Katherine Yvonne
Mixson Stephens at her apartment in The Village at 2801 N.W. 83rd Street, in
Gainesville. Good morning, Katherine. Thanks for letting me come.
S: I think it's interesting that you're doing this.
J: Let's start at the beginning, as far back as you can remember. You said that you had a
grandmother who lived in Wacahoota.
S: I was bor in Gainesville. Do you know where Dr. Marshall's office is?
J: Is that on University Avenue?
S: East University Avenue. I was bor there, and Aunt Maggie and Uncle Jimmy Joy
took me in they didn't have any children and took Mother in when she was
pregnant, and they babysat with me all the time, so I always looked forward to going
over there. I can see my crib in the corer of that waiting room as Mother and Daddy
had told me so many times.
Then we moved around the corer, where my brother was born.
J: Your brother was?
S: C.G., which is Charles Guy, Jr. He died several years ago. My mother was from
South Carolina, and she came down here for her health. She had cancers on her vocal
chords. They didn't call it cancer they called it something else then but anyway, it
was cancer. She came down to spend the winters with her aunt and uncle in
Wacahoota, and that's where she met Daddy. He used to come down for the weekend
on horseback and get off there at the train station and they would leave him and that's
where Mother and Daddy would court. Mother couldn't speak above a whisper for a
year at a time, and Daddy always said that's why he married her.
Riding through town the other day I thought of funny old things. When Daddy went
to East Florida Seminary and graduated from there, he and his friends. One was a
Vidal but I don't know which one. Spaulding Smith, do you remember him?
S: They would go on their bicycles to the corer of what is now 13t Street and
University Avenue where there is a hotel, and there used to be a big pond.
J: And that was way out of town!
S: Yes. Dirt streets. They would go fishing in that pond every afternoon after school. I
remember when from 13th Street west was dirt.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 3
May 9, 2000
J: I remember that. I remember when there was nothing there but the little bit of
S: That's right, and the Administration Building was in that comer. It had a circular
drive around it, and it was pretty I think better than it is now.
J: I notice that Sam G. Mixson was born in Wachahoota, too. Was he a relative?
S: Oh yes. He was Daddy's first cousin. He had a stepmother that he didn't like or she
didn't like him, or something and he lived with my grandmother, so he and Daddy
grew up together. Daddy went straight from East Florida Seminary to Emory Dental
J: So that's where he got his degree. Did he get married after that?
S: Oh yes. He was practicing with Dr. Alderman. They had that big red brick house
where Bill Watson's office is. Watson and Stedman, and all those. They tore that
house down and used the bricks to build their building. Next door to Matheson Center
and next door to the American Legion.
J: I don't remember that office, but that's not surprising.
S: You know, when Ed and I first married well, the boys were about four, five or six
years old they came in and I caught them in the kitchen when they were just filling a
big bag of groceries. Everything edible. I said, "Where are you going?" They said
they had a friend who needed some food. I made them tell me, and there was a man
living under the American Legion building that was right next door. It was real high
off the ground because there used to be all fill there, not any more. Anyway, they
were taking this man food. So I gathered up a bunch of stuff and they took it over to
him. It didn't occur to me that he might kidnap them or kill them.
J: No, we weren't afraid of the homeless back then.
S: They were so nice to this person.
J: Do you remember when we never locked our doors or our cars?
J: Gainesville was a safe little town. I don't remember any crime in Gainesville, can
S: I guess Mr. Baird died strangely or something. A little scandal attached to that.
J: What was the story? Do you remember?
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 4
May 9, 2000
S: Oh yes. I don't tell it though. I think that's where E.A. Clayton got rich. He
defended these people.
J: I heard a story that he found pirate treasure in the Suwanee, and that's how Baird got
his fortune. There was something in the Saturday Evening Post about it. Well,
anyway, let's go back. Buddy and Theora were married and I guess they lived here
and had their two children. I guess Buddy pretty well spent most of his energy on
S: Oh yes.
J: Theora was a wicked bridge player.
S: Yes, she loved to play. She was good. We always laughed and would say, "Mother
went to Europe and Daddy went to Cedar Key." That's as far as he would go. He
loved Cedar Key.
J: I know your brother, C.G., always loved nature. I expect he was a lot like Buddy.
Loved lakes and camping.
S: His son, Bo, has a beautiful big sailboat.
J: Does he? Where does he keep it?
S: I'm not sure now. He is County Surveyor of Brooksville, the county for there, and he
married about two years ago for the second time. She had been married before. They
married on the dock at that place that burned not long ago at Yankeetown. Anyway,
they were married on the dock and then they sailed off in the sailboat. It was so cute.
Walton Lodge. Isaac Walton Lodge. That's where they married. It just burned to the
J: We just lose our landmarks it's terrible.
S: Anyway, we've got Mother and Daddy married.
J: Yes. And we know that Theora enjoyed bridge and Buddy practiced dentistry. Do
you remember anything special that happened any great triumphs or tragedies? You
didn't lose a house or anything like that?
S: No, and no one killed each other.
J: That's real good.
S: And we didn't have any alcoholics in the family. Of course, we all like a drink but no
one drank too much.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 5
May 9, 2000
J: So then Ed must have come along. How did you meet Ed?
S: He had the Southeast Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, I think of a
wholesale feed company, and his office was in Jacksonville. He came down to the
University to give a talk on feed. Sophie Burkham's husband was head of that
department at the University, and she asked Sherry Bishop and Edith Murphree and a
whole bunch of us single girls to come to a dinner dance and she would have someone
come get us all. So I met Ed and we liked each other right away and he won the golf
tournament that afternoon and I won the door prize or something, and they got us to sit
together. He went back to Jacksonville and he came back in a couple of days and a
couple days more, you know a couple times a week.
J: He kept the road hot.
S: I was working for Daddy in the office. I didn't get any pay but I was paid in different
J: That's neat. I'll bet you and your Daddy were real close.
S: Oh yes. We were. Mother and Bud were. Bud was exactly like Mother. Everything
he did was just like she would have done. I had a hunting license and a fishing license
until I married, and I took Daddy fishing every Tuesday. He started the dental clinic
out at the farm colony. It's something else now. Sunland.
J: It's Tachachala now. That's really an accomplishment.
S: Yes, he started that and he devoted Wednesdays to it.
J: Can you think of any other things he might have done? Was he head of any civic
S: No, he couldn't have cared less about politics, about clubs and associations.
J: He was just interested in people getting their care.
S: There was a young man at a filling station. Do you remember Byron Walker? He was
a nice man here in Gainesville, and he was married to an Eslinger. This young man
worked at his filling station and he stopped by one day and he had two front teeth that
had been knocked out with a baseball bat. Daddy was talking to him and he asked him
in conversation what he wanted for Christmas, and he said, "My two front teeth." Do
you know that Daddy made him two front teeth on a bridge and didn't charge him a
dime. He was so pleased.
J: I guess he was. I can't imagine anything worse than being without your two front
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 6
May 9, 2000
S: That's the sort of thing that Daddy did, because he couldn't care less who was
President of the Dental Association or the state or any of that stuff. He just did things
for people. He sent two boys to dental college. Would you have known Cecil
Thompson? He was a Presbyterian minister. He got up to be a Bishop in the
Presbyterian Church. Anyway, his mother was a widow and they didn't have much
money, and they lived where that building is across from Alachua General, on that
corner. I had a horse and my brother had a pony, and our lot where we kept the horse
and the pony. Back in those days, Daddy was liable to bring anything home in
payment. One day he came home with a cow. My mother said, "What in the world
are you going to do with that cow?" and he said, "Oh, Cecil will find something to do
J: Who was Cecil?
S: Cecil Thompson. He lived across the street from where Alachua General is now.
Then it had a real wide creek, as wide as this room, and sort of deep. A perfect place
for a pasture, so Daddy leased this property from, I think, Major Thomas I'm not
sure but anyway, we had my horse and Bud's pony and our cow in this fenced in
place. It was perfect. Cecil came up to the office every day after school and cleaned
up and fixed the floors and emptied trash and all that stuff, and Daddy was going to
send him to dental school. He was very interested in dental school. He came to work
one day and he said, "I've got bad news good and bad. He said his mother would
just be heartbroken if he wasn't a Presbyterian minister." Daddy said, "That's all
right. That's fine." He was a big Presbyterian, so Daddy sent him to Presbyterian
Theological School of New York.
I went to New York to visit a friend. Do you remember the Templetons, the Episcopal
minister? Dr. Templeton and he had two daughters, Ruth and Fay. Fay was older than
I but we were great friends. I went to visit her in New York, and Cecil took me to
clubs and shows, and we had the best time.
J: So that was your first time in the big city? I didn't get there until I got married. I
went on my honeymoon.
S: Really? I went up on the Clyde Line, on a ship.
J: To New York? From Jacksonville?
S: Yes. Cecil met me at the boat and put me on the boat coming home. I've forgotten
the name of the ship, but it burned.
J: I remember hearing about the Clyde Line. Way back then people did go on tours.
S: Mother and I had gone to New York on the Clyde Line.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 7
May 9, 2000
J: They don't do that anymore, do they?
S: No, I don't think it's in service now.
J: You don't even think of ships going from one port to another in Florida. It's out to
sea and across the ocean. In those days, I guess that was quite a tour. Those and the
S: When Cecil graduated from theological school, he came back here and was assistant
minister for a while. He was called up to Starke to preach one Sunday, and Daddy
gave him $3.00 to go to Starke on the train. He went on the train to Starke and
preached and fifty years later, I took Daddy to Starke and Cecil was there and they
celebrated his first preaching. He told the congregation that Daddy had given him
money to get up there. I think they paid $3.00 for coming out. That's where the $3.00
comes in. I think they paid him $3.00 and Daddy gave him a dollar or something to
go up on the train.
J: But the thing is he sure was good to his boys.
S: And it's the same little Presbyterian Church that you see on the way to Brandon. It's
round. It wasn't there then. It was on a residential street, one-way almost. A brick
street. They picked it up and moved it out on the road to Brandon. A pretty little
round, white church. Everybody from the church brought food and we had lunch. I
guess Mother had died by then. Cecil has since died.
J: We lose our good people. Can you remember different places in town you lived?
Where did you live when you had your pony? Could you walk there?
J: I guess you could walk most anywhere in Gainesville.
S: You know where the McGriffs live?
J: No. Why don't you just say if you can remember.
S: It was Union Street then. I don't know what it is now.
J: We can go in terms of "then" because we have a map showing the old streets.
S: I lived across the street. We moved from East Gainesville, where I was born, and
from the house I was bor in we moved around the comer to the two-story house. We
lived there until Bud was born. Then we moved out west on West Union, which is
now First Avenue, I think. We lived there until I married. It was across the street
from the McGriffs, Emmett and Gus Perry.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 8
May 9, 2000
J: Yes. I don't know why I can't remember that.
S: It's where Dr. Londano's office was. It has been turned into a medical group. They
tore my old house down. I went to the doctor one-day and the next day I went by and
it was gone. They just picked it up and moved it.
J: The first house I ever built in Tampa they tore down and built a three-story house in its
place. It hurts your feelings.
S: My grandmother lived on Masonic Street across from the Presbyterian Church, and
they tore it down and put an eating place there. It didn't make sense. It was a nice
two-story house with a porch all the way around.
J: You know, back in those days they were in the business of tearing down. Those
wonderful Baird and Stringfellow homes should never have come down.
S: That's right. And the old Miller home across the home from the Methodist Church. I
always thought it was so pretty. And the Baird home. Hazel Lee's old home on East
J: Well, we probably wouldn't have had the right attitude then either. We needed new
modem buildings. We didn't know about treasuring the past. We do now though.
Let's see. So you met Ed and he kept coming until he finally wooed you. Did you
have to move to Jacksonville?
S: He moved to Gainesville and commuted, not every day. He went in on Tuesday and
came home Thursday, something like that.
J: That's how you kept your marriage young.
S: Oh yes. I had a maid, and Mother and Daddy were here. I wouldn't move to
J: So then you had two boys? You called them Azee and Bzee.? I always thought that
was so cute.
S: Well, they were two years old when I married Ed. Didn't you know that?
J: Well, it's all kind of cloudy.
S: Anyway, they were two years old when I married Ed and that's another reason I didn't
move to Jacksonville. It was during the war and we went to Clearwater Beach Hotel.
We didn't have any gas. No one did. It was all we could scrape together to get back
and forth to Jacksonville. So we went to Clearwater Beach Hotel for three or four
days. We came home on a Saturday, I think, and my brother was there, and he wanted
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 9
May 9, 2000
to see the twins. He was going overseas and was to leave the next day or two or three
days later. They were with Ed's sister in Miami and we called her and asked if she
could get them ready and she said, "Sure." So she got them ready and we drove down
that day and came home that night. We had a potty-chair and a table for two on top of
the car. We just looked terrible. We got home about midnight and Bzee started
crying, and Daddy picked him up and said, "Now don't cry. I am your buddy." And
that's where the Buddy started. Now everybody calls Daddy Buddy."
J: I was going to ask you why they called him Buddy, and that was it.
S: Ed and I would go places golf tournaments or something like that and they would
stay with Mother and Daddy. Azee would sleep with Mother and Bzee would sleep
J: That's cute. Where are the boys now?
S: Azee is in Fort Lauderdale. He owns the Annheuser-Busch agency. Bzee is here in
We lived in the blue house across the street from the old law school, from the tennis
J: Oh, I know where that is.
S: Delaneys live there, across the street from the Milams. Anyway, Azee and Bzee
would go to the football stadium and sell cokes during the games. Azee would keep
right on selling until the game was over and pocket his money, and Bzee would sell
enough to buy what he wanted and then would sit down and watch the game.
J: And they think twins are supposed to be a lot alike, but they certainly had their own
S: Oh yes. Their grandmother from Texas came and visited us twice when the boys were
three or four, little. She wanted to see what I was like.
J: Yes, to see if you were taking care of them.
S: Bzee looked exactly like her. A deep cleft in his chin and the blackest eyes you ever
saw. He looked exactly like his grandmother. Azee looked just like Ed. So if I hadn't
seen her, I might have thought there was a mistake in the hospital because they are just
as different as day and night.
J: I guess they were fraternal twins, not identical.
S: No, they were not identical at all.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 10
May 9, 2000
J: That must have been a wonderful experience raising twins.
S: It was. Ed took us over to the beach one time. We were on the third floor of the Sea
Breeze Hotel and it had about five beds up there. We wanted four so we just took that.
I came down one afternoon and the maid had come up and gotten the boys because we
all took a nap. She had come up and gotten the boys and they were sitting down in the
dining room eating cookies and milk. We went swimming in the ocean. One of us
turned around and said, "Oh there's Daddy." Well, Daddy couldn't stand that we were
down there by ourselves. This was Ed; they said Daddy. He spent the rest of the
weekend with us. He was supposed to have come either Friday night or Saturday
morning. He couldn't stand it. So we had fun.
J: That's wonderful. Did you go to college?
S: I went to Miss Tebeau's.
J: What was that like? I've heard it mentioned so much.
S: It was beautiful. Do you remember the old Miller home across the street from the
J: Are you talking about the one on Main Street?
S: Yes. All that was the Miller home in the middle. It was big 3 stories, and a lot of
gingerbread, and it hadn't ever been painted. Well, Miss Tebeau's was like that. I
don't think it had ever been painted. It had beautiful azaleas up to the ceiling. The
train used to stop and the tourists would pick the flowers.
J: It was so spectacular.
S: It was. So I went there until I went away to boarding school at Ashley Hall. Barbara
Bush and I went to Ashley Hall.
J: Oh well.
S: Yeah. I was there a few years before her, before she arrived. Anyway, I went there
until I finished. Then I went two years of Junior College and then I got married.
J: Tell me a little more about Miss Tebeau's. Did they have a lot of teachers or just a
S: Dr. Templeton's daughter, Ruth, was one of the teachers. They had two others and
Miss Maggie's niece, Alice.
J: Did they teach things like English and the languages?
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 11
May 9, 2000
S: Not so much languages as Latin. She was great on English, and she walked up and
down that aisle and tapped you on the shoulder. Everybody says I have a nice
handwriting. It's just straight up and down.
J: That's Miss Tebeau?
S: Yes. Miss Tebeau.
J: Was it a fairly small school?
S: Oh yes. There was Dorothy Haile, Shirley Bishop, Dorothy McClamrock, Marjorie
McKinstry, and Catherine Tucker.
J: What did you all wear back then?
S: We didn't wear uniforms. At Ashley Hall we did. We had little navy skirts. Around
Christmas time we had plaid skirts, and navy sweaters, all cashmere, then white shirts.
They were cute uniforms. I liked them.
J: I guess in Gainesville probably not too much was available in the way of shopping,
S: There was Wilson's.
J: That was before Miss Geiger's time.
S: Yes. After I was grown, a teenager, there was a Fashion Shop, and we had more then
than we have now. Miss Geiger's, Miss Cherry's, and the Fashion Shop.
J: Rutherford's had a wonderful store. I'll never understand what happened to that store.
S: Poor management, I guess. Anyway, my pitcher and goblets over here have my
monogram all right, KYM, but the M is in the middle. My aunt that I was named for,
Mrs. Alderman I was named for her she gave me a pitcher and a goblet every year.
They have a KYM on them, and the Y in the middle.
We lived out there by the law school and the house is painted blue. Now the
Delaney's live there.
J: The law school wasn't there then.
S: No, it wasn't there then, but the tennis courts are there now.
J: The old university, of course, was the Gainesville Country Club.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 12
May 9, 2000
S: Oh yes. We lived on West Street behind the apartment houses. We lived there the
first year we were married. Mrs. Oscar Thomas owned it, and she let us have it. She
ran the people out. Anyway, he came in one day and said he wanted to buy a house
and we needed to find something half way between the golf course and the school,
because the boys were going on six. So, Mrs. Zach Douglas and Miss Broome you
know Ruth Broome she built it, so we bought that and lived there until the boys went
This apartment house on the Avenue came up for sale, and Ed was interested in
investing in something, so he said, "Let's move up there for a couple years." We built
a room across the back, 30x30', the biggest room you ever saw. Anyway, we ate and
lived and did everything in that one room. Then we had two bedrooms. We lived out
there about four years and then the boys came back from college with brides both of
them and then we bought the house at the Country Club and lived there for thirty
J: That was a beautiful house. Ed enjoyed golf a whole lot, I guess.
S: Oh yes. Every day! He worked and would go into Jacksonville a lot. Then after he
retired from there, he and my brother bought the paper company Gainesville Paper
Company. Of course, Ed didn't know a thing about paper. He had never seen a paper
house, but Bud worked for the Jacksonville Paper Company, so they went into
business for themselves. Then Ed retired again. He didn't like that kind of factory
work, so he retired and left it to Bud. Of course, he sold it.
J: Not so long ago though?
S: No. He was there a long time.
J: I can remember when Sonny's and Belks were his accounts. He was doing pretty
well, I think.
S: We had a warehouse out near Waldo Road, and there was a room. I had an extra bed -
real pretty, I thought, with big cannon ball posts. I also had an antique chair that a
friend of Ed's in Cincinnati gave me when we were up there one time, and we rode
home with it on the back seat. I thought Ed was going to leave me! Every time he had
to put luggage in he had to move that chair and it was a heavy mahogany rocker. I
didn't have a place for it, so we stored the bed and the chair in this warehouse, and
they were both stolen. It makes me so mad every time I think about my chair.
J: I bought a beautiful settee at an estate sale in St. Augustine, and we hired a pickup
truck to take it home, along with a dining room table. It blew off the back and just
crashed. It couldn't be repaired. It was originally bought from Jones Furniture. So,
we lose things and it's sad.
S: I don't like for things like that to happen to me.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 13
May 9, 2000
Cox Furniture Store was on the west side of the Square, the little red brick courthouse,
and I think it was burned almost to the ground when everybody got down there to the
big Gainesville fire.
J: I wonder what started that fire. Do you know?
S: I don't know. I know everybody went as close as they could and inside as much as
they could and brought things out. I remember sitting on the ground with two lamps
in my lap, but they didn't give me those lamps! I had to give them back to them. But
I did take care of them, and everybody had something.
J: They weren't looting in those days. They were trying to help out.
S: That's right.
J: Do you remember when that was? Was that in the 30's?
S: A long time ago. It had to have been in the 30's because I wasn't married to Ed then.
I married in 1938 with a big church wedding and all the to-do. But I didn't stay long.
I didn't like to live in Miami, so I came home and I never went back.
J: Oh, did you marry in Miami?
S: No, I married here, then I lived in Miami for a year, but I didn't stay. You can call it
spoiled or whatever you want to, but I didn't like a thing about it, so I came home.
J: And Ed came too?
J: He knew what he wanted.
S: Every year we'd have a fire at the lumber mills. Do you remember the old people that
we were talking about? Well, we had a fire and the Duke Lumber Company and Paul
Moss Factory both burned to the ground. And then Stringfellow had a big fire a few
J: I remember that. That wasn't too long ago I guess pretty long ago now in real terms.
S: I guess it was 25 years ago.
J: It doesn't seem like long ago.
S: Heavens, no. I'll be 90 in August.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 14
May 9, 2000
J: That's wonderful. You do it so well.
S: You know, Mother and Daddy were just as spry as they could be. The night before
Daddy died he went over to Mary Ross's to a cocktail party Ed and I and he went
before we did, so we walked on across the street. After an hour or an hour and a half
or so, somebody came rushing up to me, "Your father's going out the door by
himself." I said, "Well, what about it?" They said, "He's by himself." So I went up
to him and I said, "Are you going home?" He said, "Yes, I'm tired." So he went
home, crossed the street by himself, and went in by himself and went to bed. The next
day he dropped dead.
J: That's wonderful though to go having a good time. That's all you can ask.
S: Yes. That's right. And Ed said, "You know he died just like he lived," because he
didn't bother anybody. One afternoon when Ed played in the afternoon with the men
and I played with the women probably every day ...
J: You played golf?
S: Oh yes. I played every day.
J: We talked about your bridge, but I didn't know about your golf.
S: One day he came in and said, "What did you have today?" I said, "I didn't play
today." He said, "Well, what did we move out here for?" So I missed a day.
Anyway, I did play about every day.
J: I remember that Buddy used to bake cheese crackers and treat the girls when they
came by the 13th hole. I had forgotten that.
S: Oh, every day. And you know I don't have that recipe at all.
J: I think I have it. I think I got it from Fran.
S: I think it was a pound of sugar and a pound of flour.
J: No, there's no sugar in it. It was cheese and flour and nuts and lots of pepper.
S: And they were hot!
J: No sugar. I'll find it and get it to you if you want to, because I got it from Fran. Fran
married your brother, just for the record. She had Buddy's recipe.
S: I think she still lives in Brunswick.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 15
May 9, 2000
J: The last I heard. How long ago did you lose C.G.? About 10 years? Before my
husband died, I think. Dave's been gone three years. We need to talk about here.
You really enjoy The Village, don't you?
J: You have a nice leisurely life. You were telling me you sleep until noon.
J: Then you have lots of bridge games?
J: You enjoy different people for dinner?
S: Yes. I don't like having to make a date. You go down and they will put you with
someone. I kind of like to eat by myself sometimes.
J: But you don't get to do that? It's not too bad just one meal a day though. You said
you have breakfast and lunch up here. You have your own apartment and it is
absolutely beautiful. What is it about 1500 square feet?
S: I have no idea.
J: Anyway, it had a lot of space and it is beautiful.
S: I give something away every day. My cousin called me up just before you came. I
had given her last weekend when she was here a pitcher, a real tall pitcher, and it had a
beautiful gold-leaf chrysanthemum on it. It was given to Mother by cousins in
Valdosta for their 50h Anniversary. It was pretty, but you know if I die tomorrow, I
don't know who will have gotten it the first person in here would pick it up so I
just gave it to Ann.
My granddaughter, Azee's daughter, was here last Sunday afternoon. She is
volleyball instructor at Southern University. She and her friend had been to a
volleyball tournament in Atlanta and they stopped in. She called me about two
o'clock and said she would come by. She was near Gainesville out on 75, I guess, and
said they would stop in. They stayed a couple or three hours and I told her to look
around and if there was anything she wanted, take it. Over there I had a tall brass
pitcher a copper pitcher with a brass handle and a copper kettle with a brass
handle. Ed had bought me those two pieces on our honeymoon. We made a pact. If I
was driving and passed a milk-shake place a Dairy Queen if we passed a Dairy
Queen, I would stop and wake him up. If I was sleeping and he was driving and we
passed an antique shop, he would stop and wake me up! Anyway, I wanted the pitcher
but I wanted the kettle, too. I got out in the car and he asked, "What did you buy?" I
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 16
May 9, 2000
said, "Well, I bought the kettle but I really wanted the pitcher." He said, "For
heaven's sake, that's all I'll hear about for the next six months. Go back and get it."
So, I did and I brought the two pieces home. Jill's house is very tailored. She didn't
want any china or crystal or anything pretty she didn't want those but she did want
those two pieces, so I told her she could have them. She was thrilled to death. I kind
of miss them when I walk through here my pitcher and kettle.
J: I know that Theora always loved antiques and has beautiful antiques. Were these all
yours or were some of them her pieces?
S: Those two chairs were hers, and this was mine. Diana Angle gave me that chair. She
was moving and had no place for it, and I think I paid her a little bit for it. That statue
is probably the nicest one I ever had.
J: Is it alabaster or marble?
S: It's not marble.
J: It's a beautiful woman. Do you know who it represents?
S: She's pretty. The mate to her is in the Chicago Art Museum. The way I got it was
through the Frederick's down at Yankee Acres, out from Micanopy. They were
friends of Mother and Daddy, and I would take them down there often to spend
Sunday afternoon. I always loved that statue. She had it up on a high chest and she
would look down on you! The Frederick's called me one afternoon, and she said, "If
you want this statue, come quickly. Some antique dealers are here and are just making
me sell things." I said, "I'll be right down." Mother went with me. She wanted a
good bit for it and I was going to Europe the next day, so I said, "I just can't buy this
statue." Mother said, "I'll give you half if Ed will give you half." So they did, and I
brought it home that afternoon, and I went to Europe the next day.
J: You were well loved.
S: She's just beautiful.
J: She is beautiful.
S: She weighs a ton, and my ex-daughter-in-law, Dallas, moved her from two or three
houses for me, and she always said that was hers, so I guess I'll have to leave it to
J: You mean the statue weighs a ton, not Dallas.
S: Yes. Dallas would never let herself go like that. She's the best looking thing I ever
saw. I bought those candle sconces in Florence, Italy.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 17
May 9, 2000
J: You have traveled a lot, and we haven't talked about that yet.
S: I don't think anybody is interested in my travels, but I have been to Europe thirteen
times. I went to China on a separate trip, and I went to Japan. I've been to Singapore.
J: Was there one that you liked more than another?
S: Oh yes. Scandinavia is my joy.
J: Where is your family from originally? Mixson. Didn't I read that he was Scottish?
S: Mixson is English.
J: I might be mixed up. I was reading my own family history, too, and now I've got us
all mixed up. Do you know anything about the family before they came to
S: No one came to Wachahoota except Mother in the winters.
J: That's why your grandmother lived there? But Sam Mixson was listed as being from
Wachahoota back in this book that Jess Davis wrote.
S: Daddy always said, "He doesn't know what he's talking about." Jess Davis. Dad was
so much older than he and he thought he knew so much more. In the paper there
would be something that Jess Davis said, and Daddy would say, "He doesn't know
what he's talking about." But he was interesting.
J: Okay, so your dad was basically from Gainesville and you don't know much about the
family before that?
S: Before that, Mother and Daddy's families came from South Carolina. In Charleston
now, every other building has either Mixson or Bruton on it.
J: So both families were from the same place. Do you know why they came down?
S: I think my great-grandparents came because family wanted to rule the roost. My
great-grandfather wasn't good enough for my great-grandmother, you know -- family
feud -- so they just got married and came to Florida.
J: That was pretty smart. That goes way, way back.
S: I can remember my grandmother saying that she and her Negro mammy spent the
night out in the woods trying to get away from the Indians. She has some silver pieces
I had a cream and sugar but I've given those to Jill that she sat out in the woods
with the silver to hide it from the Indians.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 18
May 9, 2000
J: Did she ever make any mention of the wars, the battles around here?
S: They came down from Charleston by boat and then a wagon to Wachahoota. I'm glad
I didn't live in those days. Don't say "wagon" to me! Daddy was born in Gainesville.
Do you know where Dr. Snow's office was?
S: That was my grandmother's house, and Daddy was born in that house. So they came a
long time before that.
I don't think my grandfather was given to work very much. He wasn't too interested
in work. How I can remember him. He was good looking, had snow-white hair and a
big beard. He was really nice to all of us grandchildren. I always got into his lap and
played with his beard. I remember sitting on that porch with him.
J: No farming or anything?
S: He owned some cattle when he was still in Wachahoota. Then he owned a shop, a
butcher shop or something, a meat market. Anyway, I think they were his own cows
that were butchered.
J: That's interesting.
S: My grandmother was sweet. Everybody liked her. She always said, "We're poor, but
we're not common." She always said that. She had a Negro cook in the kitchen for
thirty years. She didn't come to work one day, but she came two or three days later,
and said, "I'm going to have a baby." My grandmother had seen this man at the back
gate every afternoon a man from one of the most prominent families in this town.
My grandmother couldn't have been too poor because my uncle went to medical
school and Daddy went to dental school, and my aunt went to Agnes Scott (?) so
they weren't too poor.
The Graham's were established, and the Stringfellows.
J: Colonel Bailey, I guess, was the most prominent. Yes, Ruth Sinclair. Her granddaddy
J: It's not too scanty to have professional dentists and educate all your children that way.
And then your Daddy sent those other people to college. I'd say you did all right! As
I sit here on this beautiful antique furniture, it's hard to feel sorry for you!
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 19
May 9, 2000
S: That's right. I sit here and look at that brass thing that has slipped. You see, you put it
around the pole and it sticks to the wall, but I guess it has decided not to stay there.
J: Do you have any other older pieces from your grandmother or just the pitcher that you
S: I have these two dishes.
J: Aren't they beautiful. They look hand painted. Whose were these? Made in
Germany. Oh, Katherine, that's lovely. It's a beautiful pink fluted dish with hand-
painted roses in the center. Just beautiful. It says "1596/1709." You don't suppose
that's the date.
S: That's an egg dish.
J: Yes, that's pretty.
S: These were on my mother's wedding cake.
J: Beautiful. Little angels. One of them is holding an arrow and the other is holding the
bow. They are little white bisque angels. Do you know where they came from?
J: Where did your Mother and Daddy get married? In Gainesville?
S: No, in Batesburg, South Carolina.
J: I know you treasure those.
S: Yes. Mother lived in Batesburg, which was half way between Columbia and Augusta,
and they were married there.
J: Can you tell me about your social life as a teenager. What did girls do for
entertainment in Gainesville? I know you talked about the dance where you met Ed.
Of course, that was after you were through college, I guess. What did you do when
you were younger?
S: The fraternities had tea dances at the Women's Club. The KA's and that beautiful,
columned hall on University Avenue. It was the Colson's old home.
J: I didn't know that.
S: Yes. Emmett and Gus's mother's parents, grandparents, built that old KA House. Of
course, when I was twelve, I guess I couldn't have been any older or I would have
been embarrassed the KA's had a Hallowe'en party. They had a big tub on the front
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 20
May 9, 2000
porch and had apples floating in it. Well, I remember that Perry McGriff and I I
don't think the twins were with us because they were younger I don't know who else
was along, but we went out there and we sneaked up on the porch and all grabbed an
apple. Anyway, we got home and Daddy made me go back the next day. I guess it
must have been Mother because Daddy never made me do anything. But Mother
made me go back and take some apples and apologize.
J: Oh, the humiliation of it all. So I guess the University does go way back.
S: Oh, it does. The first football game I remember going to maybe not the first but I
guess I was a teenager but Dr. Tigert when was he here? A long time ago.
J: He was just after Murphree, I think, so it was a long time ago. He was here for a long
S: The football field was where it is now, maybe closer to the Avenue. Anyway, there
were wooden bleachers on either side, and I remember climbing up in those bleachers
with friends. Mother and Daddy had seats, of course. Mrs. Tigert came in and she
was dressed to the teeth, like she was going to a party, but everybody was dressed.
Mother had on a hat.
J: In September when it's dreadfully hot, we would have on wool suits and feather hats
and kid gloves.
S: That's right.
J: That's why I don't like football, I think. It was miserable, but everybody did it.
S: Yes, they were dressed to the teeth.
J: I can remember they had rodeos there, too, and boxing matches. Sometimes during
the half of the football games they would have boxing matches. They would set up the
ring and let them box. I think Steve O'Connell was a boxer as a student.
S: Yes, he was. I had dates with Phil O'Connell.
J: Those were the days. What else do you remember about the University? I remember
the parades with the freshmen. Do you remember how we had 2000 students and they
were all boys?
S: Oh yes. No girls! Do you know where Dr. Farr lived? There was the Primrose Grille
was on the opposite side of the street from where it ended up. There was a Dutton
house and somebody else and then the Farr's. Dr. Farr was Vice-President and Dr.
Murphree was President. Jean and Jane Farr Jean was my friend Jane was
younger. Football parades was a shirttail parade.
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 21
May 9, 2000
J: Right. With the rat caps.
S: Shirttail parade and a rat cap.
J: Then they had pajama parades, too.
S: Yes. I always spent the night with Jean so we could sit on the porch and watch it. The
shirttail and the pajama parades and everybody participated.
J: It was a big event in town. Daddy used to bring us downtown in the car so we could
see the parade.
S: Coming downtown on a Saturday night was a big doing. Going to town and sitting
around the Square and watching people, and meeting all your friends.
J: That's where I learned to drive, too. In and out of the parking spaces all the way
around the Square, but at night when the traffic wasn't bad.
S: One afternoon I parked and Azee and Bzee were in the car. I came out of Wilson's
and they were both on top of the car. I yanked them off and spanked their bottoms,
and I saw Preacher Gordon during the next few days and he said, "I saw you spank
those boys." I said, "Yes, I did. I wore their bottoms out."
J: I can remember when we all used to go to the drugstore right after school ....
S: Yes, Glass's.
J: Well, there was Glass's and there was City Drug at one point, and Vidal's, and
Canova's was on the corer for a while but they all had fountains and we would all
go after school and sit and sip cokes until we were just about to die from sipping
S: Cherry coke.
J: Yes. Then we would go to the record shop. That was lots of fun. And those poor
little freshmen at the University had to wear their rat caps all the time. They couldn't
go out without them. They had boxes of apples in the end of each building. It was on
the honor system. You had to put in a nickel when you took an apple, and if it didn't
come out right, it was really bad. That honor system worked.
S: Well, life goes on.
J: Yes. This was a really good town to grow up in. You know what else we did was to
ride up and down the drag every Sunday afternoon. We would pick up the boys at one
end and take them to the other end and let them off and pick them up at the other end
and take them back. Did you all do that?
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 22
May 9, 2000
S: Yes, we did.
J: That was Gainesville's Sunday afternoon.
S: Daddy came home with a new Buick one time. A real pretty car, we thought. The
first time he let me drive it to town, and I was looking at that KA house and I just
bumped somebody's car. Tore up the whole front and I was scared to go home.
J: I'll betcha. And I'll bet since it was you, your daddy didn't do a thing!
S: No, Mother screamed and hollered but Daddy didn't.
J: My dad used to hate to get a car repaired. He was so busy he didn't have time to get it
repaired, and he actually had the hood tied down with a rope at one point. I had a
friend who said, "Gini, when I see your daddy coming, I park, because I know he
doesn't care if he hits anybody."
S: That reminds me, before Azee gave me this last car, I knew he was going to give me a
new car. I was on Archer Road and everybody was going at least 50 miles an hour,
and this young woman just cut right in front of me and she got the front of her car in
and I slammed on the brakes and everybody in back of me slammed on brakes. It
scared the wits out of everybody, but then the light flashed and when the light turned
red, I just bumped her. I bumped her so hard. I knew that I would break my
headlight, but I didn't. Anyway, she jumped out of her car and came back and said,
"What do you mean bumping into me?" I said, "You'd better go get back in that car
before I really get mad." She flew to her car. I told Azee, "If I had broken both
headlights, and everything about it, I would still have done it."
J: It would have been worth it.
S: I just bumped her so hard.
J: That's dangerous when people cut in like that.
S: Those young people on Archer Road drive like idiots. There was something in the
paper the other day about the elderly people and their driving license. I said, "I wish
they would. I think I would go before the legislature."
J: Speaking of Archer Road, do you remember when Stengel Field was out there? The
S: Yes, I do.
J: That really wasn't too long ago, it seems like. Now it's Butler Plaza. I can remember
somebody calling me one time when I was working at Shands and wanted to know
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 23
May 9, 2000
where to land their helicopter. They would always land at Stengel Field and they had
just started Butler Plaza and I was going all over the place trying to find them.
S: I can remember when old man Butler used to come by our house and call out,
"Vegetables, green beans, turnip greens."
J: They had a little vegetable stand right by the old icehouse.
S: He remembered this, too. Clark remembered Daddy. Bzee had some dates with his
daughter, Debbie. I think he was really fond of her.
J: She's a real nice girl, they say.
S: They always had circuses come to town, and Daddy and I would get up and go see
J: Oh, what fun!
S: We always did.
J: I remember the circuses. We always went to the circus. They smelled so bad!
S: Oh yes. Terrible. This morning I called to see about my season ticket to the
Performing Arts, and I can't get the ones I had this year and I can't get the ones I've
had for years. Somebody has given them $500 more, so they have the tickets.
Anyway, I said, "I've been coming to the Performing Arts all my life, and I've got to
have tickets," and she said, "Well, come down and we'll work something out." It just
bugs me so that you have to give $1,000 or $500 extra to get a ticket.
J: And you know that with anything else that would be crooked.
S: That's right.
J: That would be called skimming or something.
S: Mother used to take me to Chataqua when the opera house was over Cox Furniture
Store. Do you remember that?
J: I don't remember it, but I've heard about it.
S: We used to go to operas there all the time.
J: Was it a traveling company that would come?
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 24
May 9, 2000
J: I remember the Florida Theater when Sally Rand was there. I guess I was just barely
big enough to go. They didn't want to let me go, and I finally talked them into it. I
guess the fact was that she really wasn't nude; she had a body suit on. She looked
nude. I just thought that was the finest thing that she danced with fans and balloons.
S: John Baxter was my old beau when I was in high school. I didn't go to high school
here very long because I went to Ashley Hall, but John Baxter and I used to go fishing
together. We went to the movies one afternoon, and we were sitting there and
something picked us up on the back of our shirts, and it was Professor Buchholz. He
had caught me in the old Lyric Theater. I guess he picked up half a dozen of us. He
threw us out and took us back to school. Yes, John and I had skipped school.
J: I can remember when we used to go every Saturday morning and it would be "Tarzan
and the Apes" and cowboy movies and then some of the tap dance pupils would
S: Valentino I remember.
J: Then the local dance groups would put on a performance. Ina Jo Wrench and Milly
Swearington used to do a Coca-Cola dance. They would wind up; they would do a
back bend, and they would drink that Coca-Cola while they were doing the back bend.
I thought they were going to be special dancers they were so good.
S: Oh yes. Ina Jo loves to dance.
J: Yes, she really was good.
S: Vic was a really good dancer.
J: I didn't know him. It was a nice town. I wouldn't want to leave it. What were the
good restaurants in town? I remember the old Primrose Grille and the White House
Hotel. We used to have cream of peanut soup, I remember that.
S: Oh really? Miss Swords.
J: Everybody ate at Miss Swords. Family style.
S: She was across from the Thomas Hotel.
J: Right. Then she finally moved to near Louise Cannon, to a different location.
S: Have you seen Dr. DePass's old home? It's worth a trip. The next time you go to the
Thomas Center, look at Dr. DePass's home. It swear it's just great. It's orange ...
(end of tape)
Interview with Katherine Yvonne Mixson Stephens 25
May 9, 2000
J: Thank you so much for giving us this interview. We will have it transcribed and
returned to you for editing and addition of anything you would like to add. When it is
completed, we will give you a copy for your records.