Interviewee: Quinton Rumph
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: November 5, 2002
P: This is November 5, 2002, and I'm in Jacksonville with Mr. Quinton Rumph. You
were born, I guess your birthday is in three days, November 8, 1923.
R: That is correct.
P: Where were you born?
R: I was born in Mikesville, which is a little village in southern Columbia County
south of Lake City, Florida.
P: What was it like when you were growing up? What did your family do?
R: It was a totally agricultural area. Everyone had a small farm [where] they raised
peanuts, corn, tobacco, [and] cotton.
P: What was your upbringing like? Did you work on the farm a lot?
R: All of us [worked]. It was a matter [of fact] that on the farm the boys did the
plowing and the girls worked in the garden. Everyone had a chore. In addition to
that, in about 1927 we started growing flue-cured tobacco. We would trade labor
with the neighbors. There was five of us that would work for them, then there
would be five of them that would work with us on tobacco gathering day.
P: Was there much tobacco in Florida?
R: Lots of flue-cured tobacco. They had big warehouses in Lake City and Live Oak,
and finally in High Springs, and now all of those are closed. Today, instead of
having three and a half acre tobacco patches, they have forty and sixty and a
hundred acres of tobacco.
P: Was that your main crop?
R: It was the main money crop, but the main crop was truly corn and peanuts
because you fed the livestock [with that]. We had about a 100 head of cattle and
hogs, so we had the hog killings and the cow butchering and so forth right on the
P: Hog killings are supposed to be around the first frost, is that right?
R: That's right, as well as was the [sugar]cane grindings or when we made syrup. It
was all around Thanksgiving usually.
P: I know enough about grinding cane to know that there's some other drinks that
can be made out of that that have some alcoholic content.
R: My father never did participate in that, but there was a lot of illegal alcoholic
whiskeys made, and particularly in Baker County. Macclenny was sort of known
as the capital of moonshine.
P: Also you can make kind of a beer out of it as well, which doesn't have quite as
much alcoholic content, is that right?
R: We just made syrup out of it.
P: Just made syrup with it [laughing]. If you'd done it the other way, that might have
been your biggest money crop.
R: It could have been [laughing].
P: So when you grew up, what did you enjoy most about living on a farm?
R: I started to school in about 1929, and my oldest brother was a senior in high
school when I was in the first grade. We really had fun [when, we] the children
played games together. We worked together, but we played together, like touch
football and things like that. We played a lot, and I think in retrospect one of the
finest things that I remember was that everyone was broke. The doctors didn't
have money. They got paid in hams and syrup and things from the farm. We
didn't have the class distinction of the very rich and the very poor. I think that
that's what I remember and enjoy the most, that we were all broke.
P: Plus in hard times, everybody helps out everybody else.
R: Absolutely. In fact, they had a system that I thought was very clever. They had
what they called the "Beef Club". Eight farmers would get together, and each
week one of those eight would kill a beef and they would divide it up 1/8 and so
forth until you got your whole beef back, with an agreement it would weigh in a
certain amount. So we had fresh beef [all the time]. We didn't have refrigeration
like we have now.
P: Plus, as a young boy you had to make your own entertainment. Radio had come
in in 1921. Did you have a radio?
R: I remember when we got our first radio. We had an old Delco battery that would
sit underneath. We did not have electricity until I was a junior or senior in high
school. So the radio was our advice. We listened to Lowell Thomas and the
news, Amos and Andy, and Asher and Little Jimmy.
P: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
R: In my time there was six of us, but there had been two before, one died as an
infant and one died when I was six days or eight days old.
P: What was the breakdown? How many boys were there?
R: There were four boys and four girls, but [in] the rearing there were four boys
reared and two girls. One thing I want to interrupt and say, which I'm extremely
proud of my brothers and sisters, that all six of us have received degrees from
the University of Florida. I don't know of another family that has six siblings that
graduated from the University of Florida.
P: That's pretty impressive. What was the most important influence on you as you
were growing up?
R: My mother and father. They had taught school as young people. Back before the
University of Florida was at Gainesville, there was a branch of a university at
Lake City and a branch down at Bartow. My father didn't finish the branch at
Bartow, but he went down there. He and my mother taught school in Columbia
County, as did all five of my siblings. They each have taught at least one year in
Columbia County. I'm the only one that didn't teach.
P: How'd you escape that?
R: I escaped by marrying a teacher.
P: [laughing] That was almost as good, right?
R: Oh, it was much better. I used to say that after we were married she taught my
way through law school, and then when I had to wait to have clients to practice,
she taught so that I could practice law.
P: When you started school, did you go to a local school or did you go to Lake City?
R: As I said, when I was in the first grade, all of us rode the school bus to Ft. White.
All six of us received our diplomas from Ft. White High School.
P: This is getting a little bit ahead of the game, but I noticed in the paper the other
day that you'd gone back to Ft. White High School and had given them money to
pay for a student who could not otherwise afford to go to Florida Southern
R: Yes. Well, I have a student at Florida State University now, that I gave a four
year scholarship to last year from Ft. White. That was our retirement plan. Are
you familiar with a gift annuity?
R: Well, we gave [to the] Advent Christian Village, a retirement center near [where]
my father was [born]. [He was] an Advent Christian, and we gave $400,000 to
Advent Christian for their youth camp, and they dedicated the building for my
father. Then we had a gift annuity to the [Levin] College of Law of $600,000, that
the state is supposed to [give] some matching funds.
P: We're still waiting for those matching funds. [laughing]
R: And we gave $600,000 to the College of Education at the University of Florida.
Then we gave $1,500,000 to Florida Southern under the gift annuity program.
We designated the first choices of scholarships would go to graduates from Ft.
White High School, and that the grade point average was not important as long
as they had minimum grades for admission. Then I followed it through that the
graduates from Ft. White that graduated from Florida Southern, if they wanted to
go the College of Law, would have first priority.
P: UF College of Law.
R: University of Florida College of Law, that they would have first priority. Then the
same with the College of Education. As you know, most of those students are
graduate students. A great number of them are.
P: So in a way, you're paying back for your education.
R: No. When I say no in that manner, I worked hard. When I was a freshman at
Florida Southern College, there was times that I got up to be at the cafeteria at
four o'clock in the morning and would work [un]till seven for my three meals. I
would work in the registrar's office four hours a day as a typist and run the little
office for tuition. I sold Schwobilt clothes at downtown Lakeland four hours a day.
There were eleven hours a day that I worked, and I took a full load. So I really
don't have the emotion that I'm paying back.
P: I meant in terms of the value of an education. I don't mean monetary value.
R: I understand. What I would say to that is this, I wanted to stress the importance
of education to these children, and yes, that is a reward that they didn't have to
work eleven hours a day to do it.
P: And particularly ones who could not otherwise afford to go.
R: Oh, absolutely. This child that's at Florida State, there was no way the child could
go. He was the president of his class, he had a 3.7 grade average, and yet he
was not going to get to go to college. He plans to go to law school by the way.
P: That's great. Talk a little bit about what the Great Depression was like in your
area, primarily around Lake City and Ft. White.
R: I guess the darkest day of the depression at my father's house was in the 1930s.
There was no money, [but] we never went hungry because we grew our food and
canned it and so forth, but you still have to have a certain amount of clothing that
you don't make. You have to buy those clothes. He was going to borrow $10
from his sister to help out, and they said that they didn't have the $10. That night
my uncle by marriage was in High Springs. He came out to say they were
opening a market for fresh corn in High Springs, and that the market was going
to open at $1 [per] hamper. That day we broke corn all day from daylight on, and
we sold 120 hampers of corn, and my dad made $120. That was the break of the
P: That was a lot of money.
R: A great deal of money. He paid all of the debts, all back taxes, all that stuff.
P: So you never felt in any way deprived during this period?
R: No, because as I say, all my buddies were broke. Nobody had any money.
P: I talked to one person who went through the Depression, he was thirteen,
fourteen, fifteen. He wanted to go into town to go the movie, and he wanted to
get an ice cream cone. They couldn't afford even to get an ice cream cone. He
told me after the Depression he's had an ice cream cone every day of his life
because he did feel deprived back in those days.
R: Well, it was a luxury, but we had food. I know what it is to have cookies made
with syrup and not with sugar and that sort of thing, but I guess I can truthfully
say that in our home I never heard my mother and father have a serious fuss. I
never felt a day that I didn't feel loved, and I never felt a day that I was hungry. I,
being the youngest, they expected me to go to college, but they didn't say where
the money was coming from. But I had seen each of my siblings finish. By the
time I finished high school, three of them were teaching regular, full-time. The
Depression at our house truly ended when World War II started because that's
when the money began to flow. They built Camp Blanding. The farmers would
take their saws, hammers, and squares, and they were over building Camp
Blanding and they made regular paychecks.
P: Provided a lot of food, too.
R: It provided everything. We sold food there and all.
P: What was your family's view of Franklin Delano Roosevelt [President of the
United States, 1933-1945]?
R: They thought he was the greatest, absolutely the greatest, [and] that he was the
Savior. There's a country song that refers to that Franklin Roosevelt took the
South out of the Depression. Actually he didn't take it out, circumstances of
World War II truly took it out, but he did provide much work. Now one of my
brothers went into the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program]
camp. That was my brother Albert. He was later county school superintendent at
Lake City, and he was county school superintendent of Fernandina Beach in
P: Where was he in the CCC?
R: Over at Camp Blanding. They had a CCC camp there. Oh no, I think I'm wrong.
He was up near, is it Tybee Island near Savannah?
R: Well I think they had a CCC camp there, and that's where he was.
P: Usually they would go away from their local areas.
R: Yes, he was at Savannah.
P: The people I've talked to said it was the greatest experience of their lives.
R: Fort Scriven I believe was what they called it in Savannah.
P: Did he feel the same way about the experience?
R: He wanted to come home. He was a homing pigeon. He lived all of his life in
Florida until his very late death. He moved to Piano, Texas, where he had
Parkinson's Disease and he had dementia with it, and he really didn't know
anyone the last six years of his life.
P: Now you go to Ft. White High School, and what were your interests in terms of
your academic preparation? What courses did you like?
R: I think that the greatest thing that ever happened to me was Eldridge R. Collins
was our principal, and his son Julian Collins is now circuit judge in Columbia
County. I was there when he came. When I was a freshman in high school was
his first year there. He had gone up to FSCW, now Florida State University.
P: That was Florida State College for Women at the time, correct?
R: That's correct.
P: He hired three women. One of them taught Latin and languages and economics.
He had one that taught business education. I forget what the other one taught.
Let's see, there was Mary [Earl Beny] and Mary Ellen, [those and] I can't
remember the other one. These [were] fine young teachers with a very strict
principal. Eldridge had graduated from Ft. White school also before he went to
college, but he was extremely strict. But by me having those young teachers, I
learned to type and I learned to keep books. I finished high school on the first day
of May, . Well, on the ninth day of May I got a job at the Naval Air Station
in Jacksonville as a clerk typist. This is astonishing. I was making $120 a month.
My English teacher in Ft. White who had a master's degree made $90 a month.
P: What year was this?
P: Okay, so World War II has just started.
R: It had started in Europe.
P: So it was before December 7th [Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and U.S.
R: That's right.
P: How long were you working at the naval station?
R: I worked there until September 1942. My brother-in-law, my sister Bessie's
husband, had been in the Navy back in the early [years of the] Depression. He
had gone down and found a program called the V 1 Program, where you could
go to college and you had to pay your own way. I couldn't go to the University of
Florida because they had Army ROTC, [but] had no Navy program set up. I could
go to University of Miami, Florida Southern, or Stetson. I selected Florida
Southern. I was a Methodist, and it's a Methodist school. By doing that, after I
was there for one year, they ordered me to active duty and sent me to the
University of Miami where [Dr.] Leon Henderson, the former dean at the College
of Education [at the University of Florida], was the executive officer, and [Dr.]
Mode Stone, who was from the College of Education at FSU, both now
deceased, was commanding officer. I was in uniform, [so] I got my food free, my
books free, everything, education free, for that one calendar year. I believe, and I
may be wrong, I got around sixty semester hours in that one calendar year. We
had three trimesters. Instead of the two semesters, we went three trimesters.
From there I was sent to Northwestern University where I was commissioned an
ensign in the Navy and so forth.
P: When you were in Florida Southern doing this, were you undergoing training as
well as your academic course of study?
R: No. I told you what I did for eleven hours a day. There was nothing to do with the
Navy except maintain good grades.
P: Okay. So then you go and you're now an ensign in the Navy. Where are you
R: I went into the Amphibs, which is amphibian forces. The invasion of the main
island of Japan was already set, and we were on a ship with the orders for that
invasion whenever the [atomic] bombs were dropped [in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki] in August 1945. We went on in after the [bombs]. I was there on the
day of the signing of the Peace Treaty on the U.S.S. Missouri.
P: September 2, 1945.
R: That's correct.
P: You were actually on the Missouri?
R: No, no. I was on the island. [I was] just present there. I have never seen so many
warships in my life. All of the battleships of the world were in Tokyo Bay that day.
Cruisers was like destroyers there were so many of them. Anyway, they sent me
to a barracks ship for berthing. I got bored so I went down to the headquarters
and they gave me an assignment. From then on they liked me. I found out there
was going to be a vacancy on the barrack ship I was on, so I asked them would
they transfer me to it and they did. Well, this barrack ship was for the purpose of
berthing people was all it was. We had a doctor and a dentist aboard, a supply
officer and disbursing [officer], all of the facilities. In February, we got orders to
take the ship from Yokosuka, Japan, we called it Yokosooka, but they called it
Yokasuka, to Newport News, Virginia. Well, a day or two before we were
supposed to leave, the commanding officer had an emergency appendectomy. I
got orders from BuPers in Washington, I was twenty-two years old, to relieve
command and proceed without unnecessary delay to Newport News, Virginia.
P: That's a long trip [laughing].
R: It was a long trip, but we made it. We went from Yokosuka to Pearl [Harbor], and
from Pearl down to Balboa in the [Panama] Canal Zone, through the canal, and
on up there. Remember, I got in there on, I think it was, July 6. It had taken all
that length of time.
P: This is 1946 now, right?
P: What was the scene like when the armistice was signed? Was there a lot of
R: There was a lot of celebration to a degree, but it was sort of the Army [that] was
celebrating over here, the Navy over here. I think that it was a short-lived
celebration because there was so much to be done. For instance, I went into
Tokyo, and you could look out as far as your eye could see and [see] nothing but
burned buildings, unless they were like the old hotel....
P: Imperial Hotel.
R: Imperial Hotel and the Diet Building and what not. The Diet itself where the
government of Japan was run from. The [Imperial Palace was] where the
P: People forget that the firebombing of Tokyo did much more damage than either
Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
R: Oh, no doubt. It was the most devastating fire. It was just terrible. Were you there
P: No, as a historian I've just read about it.
R: Alright. Well, I have never in my life seen such devastation. I do know this to be
true, that the Japanese said that those that had any wealth they sent their
daughters and so forth up into the mountains because they were going to be
raped. When the American soldier came in and they were giving their candy out
of their pockets, it was a far cry from what they [the Japanese] had anticipated.
For instance, when I first got there, a police officer would see an officer like
myself and he'd run up and he'd be right with you just to honor you, that you are
the boss, and you would have to dismiss them. Finally, we had trains that would
have cars on it only for the military because they didn't feel like it was totally safe
to be on a train at night among a bunch of Japanese, because they were a
defeated nation. It was absolutely the most orderly takeover of a government. I
remember the Stars and Stripes came out one day.
P: That's the newspaper.
R: That was the newspaper. It had an article with [Gen. Douglas] MacArthur
[commander of U.S. forces in the Far East, 1941-1951; commander of
occupational forces in Japan, 1945-1951] on front with the Emperor. The
Emperor had come from the Imperial Palace over to the Diet Building. Dayat
means number one in Japan. And of course MacArthur wanted to be... I think it
was called the Dietchi Building.
P: Dietchi is correct.
R: That was number one. He [MacArthur] was so vain, he had to be number one.
P: Not only did he have his headquarters in there, he had the biggest room and the
R: He said though that when he met [Emperor] Hirohito that he had truly met the
number one gentleman of Japan. I never will forget that.
P: Of course it's interesting that Hirohito was a very short man and MacArthur was
fairly large. It's sort of an incongruous photo when you see them together.
R: It really was.
P: Did you feel any personal animosity while you were in Tokyo from the Japanese?
R: None whatever. [I] should have. I would describe it that everything in life, if you
handle it properly and so forth, life was so good. I know I've given food to
Japanese that needed the food I gave them, a C-Ration, which was a small box
of prearranged food for the servicemen, and stuff like that.
P: When you look back on your World War II experience, how did that influence
R: It made my education very simple. The military was extremely good to me and for
me. It was good to me in that I got all of the college work necessary before going
to law school by coming during the war, and a lot of it was paid for. Then, when I
came back to this country, I had never heard of the GI Bill of Rights. I didn't know
anything about that, that was a foreign word. But they told me about it whenever I
was being discharged, and I was separated from service out at the Naval Air
Station here in Jacksonville. They gave me a booklet on it and so forth. Well, I
was qualified to teach school, and Eldridge Collins, at that time, was a principal
over at Mayo at Lafayette High. I went over and he gave me a job for $2,700 a
year. I could go back to my job at the Naval Air Station, which, with the
promotions that [I] had been granted, I could get $4,500 a year. Needless to say,
the difference between that is enough that I had to go back there to the job, so I
did. I worked there, and I was really not happy. My wife had her college degree,
and she was working on her master's at the University of Tennessee when I
came back and brought her back to Florida. We were married on August 4, 1946.
Anyway, I went from that job in February and started law school in February. I
went in to register and the old dean that had been there from the beginning, I
can't recall his name.
R: No, before Finn. [It was Trusler,] the original dean from 1909. Anyway, he said
that they had [finished] enrollment for that quarter [and] that I'd have to wait till
the end of that semester and I could enroll in summer school. So I went over and
told Dean Leon Henderson about it, and he says, "Well, I'll take care of that. He
reaches up and gets his old Navy peacoat. It was cold weather. We walked back
over to the law school and he says to him, "Dean, I don't understand this. I took
two of your boys this morning and you couldn't take one of mine?" [The dean of
the law school replied,] "Well, Leon, cool down, he didn't tell me he was one of
your boys." Anyway, the old dean called Ila Pridgeon, his secretary in, and I was
in law school.
P: You'd only had one year of undergraduate at this point right?
R: No. I had a year at Florida Southern, and two years at the University at Miami
that I got in in one calendar year. Plus I was given credit for Midshipmen School
at Northwestern. So I had the equivalent of four years in college, or right close to
P: So that made you eligible. Were you there on the GI Bill?
R: Yes. That's what I was going to say. They paid for our books [and] they paid for
our tuition. If you didn't have children, I believe they paid us $90 a month. With all
of that, and Ann got a job teaching in Newberry, we were able to buy a car and
everything. We lived a normal young couple's life. We never had any money to
burn, but we never missed any meals.
P: You didn't live in Flavet then.
R: No. I lived off campus in an apartment on West Church Street.
P: One of the things that historians do is, now we look back at the GI Bill and we
see that as one of the great investments in American history. So many people
who wouldn't have been able to afford it now get a chance at an education.
R: And they paid so much taxes as a result of the education. They got good jobs,
good pay, income tax, they paid it back many fold.
P: Did you notice in law school that the veterans were more focused, more mature,
R: Oh, no doubt. Let me say. When I went down to Gainesville, I had never thought
of going to law school. I had never considered that in my whole life. I went down
to the College of Education, and Dr. Henderson showed me around. I went over
to the College of Architecture, College of Engineering, College of Agriculture. My
brother Leo, who is a retired dentist in Ormond Beach, he's the brother next older
than I am of the brothers, [and I] went to a movie. We came back, and the law
school had attached to the administrative building and all was the library. It was
just lighted up from top to bottom. I said to Leo, "What's all of the lights over
there?" He said, "That's the "Legal Eagle Factory". I said, "Well, what do you
mean? He said, "Law school." I said, "Let's walk over there." Well when we
walked in everything was so quiet, the tables were all full, and you could tell the
branch of service almost that the veteran had been in because none of us could
afford the clothes and school too. Every table was filled. When we went to the
fifth floor and when we got back to the first floor, I said, "I'm going to enroll in law
school tomorrow." He said, "You have got to be kidding." I said, "No, I think this is
for me. They're all business and I like that."
P: Although you had no specific interest in the law per se?
R: Never had thought of going to law school a day in my life. True story. Happiest
thing. Nothing could have been finer. My license is still active. I'm certified. I
could take you to the courthouse this afternoon. I'm fully qualified and certified,
including the occupational tax paid.
P: So you've been practicing law, in effect, since 1949?
R: June 6, 1949.
P: Back in those days you didn't have to take the bar exam, did you?
R: No. When you got your degree you got your license.
P: How many women were in the law school during that period of time?
R: As I recall, there were around six. As I remember. I may be wrong.
P: But not many.
R: I think there were around six. I think that was it.
P: I've heard other people talk about their law experience. Sometimes when women
would come into a classroom, the men would start shuffling their feet.
R: Oh yes, that was routine.
P: What was behind that?
R: It was a way of clapping their hands instead of clapping. I remember there was
one veteran that Dr. Crandall, I don't know if you ever heard of him, but he wrote
several books and he was a fine teacher at law school. In the practice courtroom
we had a lot of the freshman classes. It was nothing to have ninety in a class of
that time. And this young man [the veteran] was reciting and he used a word, and
Dr. Crandall said, "What does that word mean?" He said, "Well, I don't know sir."
He said, "Didn't the Veterans Administration give you a Black's Law Dictionary?"
He said, "No, sir, the veteran's administration didn't give me anything." He
reached down in his pocket and took out his wooden pipe. He raised his leg and
hit it against the wooden leg. You could hear it all over the room. He said, "I paid
for that book with my leg, Dr. Crandall." I'll never forget that.
P: What did you think, and almost everybody I'm sure has an opinion, of Professor
R: Dr. Teselle was a unique individual. In many ways Clarence Teselle was a
genius. I thought he was a very, very fine teacher. One day he had an old
Hudson or some car like that, LaSalle or Hudson. I forget what he drove.
Anyway, he stopped me and he said, "Rumph, aren't you from Jacksonville." I
said, "Yes, sir, I'm very familiar with it." He said, "Could you drive me over to
Jacksonville? My wife's in St. Vincent's Hospital." I drove Dr. Teselle over to
P: I remember Crandall now. He taught constitutional law, didn't he?
R: He taught common law pleading. He could have taught U.S. constitutional law. I
took it from another person, but he easily [could have]. That would have been his
P: What about Teselle's method? They said he could be really tough on students,
and a lot of people were terrified of him.
R: He was. Actually, I've seen kids just almost faint when he would call on them. His
background, as I recall, he had been a state's attorney in Cook County in Illinois.
He was tough, but he also wanted to bring out the best in each person in his
toughness. It's sort of like referring to tough love. His bark was a lot worse than
the bite, if you ever got to know Clarence Teselle.
P: But in retrospect, was that an effective teaching method?
R: Yes, he did a good job. I would say his students were prepared to go out and
P: As I recall, Dean Henry Finn came about 1948. Is that right?
R: Yes, he did. Yes, I knew Dean Finn well.
P: What'd you think of him?
R: It was such a gross change from the dean that we had. We had the old
fashioned, old mind dean, and here he was young [and] bright. He did make a lot
of changes in the short period that he was there.
P: Were you a good student in law school?
R: No, very average. I didn't see any "A"s and I didn't see any "E"s.
P: What makes a good law student?
R: A good law student? I think you can just say whatever makes a good student
makes a good law student. I was fortunate, if you remember, I said the Navy, I
owed it a lot. Well, when I left Ft. White my graduating class had thirteen in it. I
think from ninth through twelfth there was around eighty students. Then we were
out there competing, all of a sudden, with people that went to Andrew Jackson
High, Robert E. Lee High here in Jacksonville, big classes. We thought if we
knew what a Bunsen Burner was that we knew all about science, and we didn't
know anything. If you think about it, we had an eight- month school. Now, if you
think about it, we had only ten and a half years of school compared to the
children that went to Lee High School. Then you were competing with a class
that had 10 percent more education than you did to start with, and you from the
little school. It was tough.
P: So it took you awhile to catch up?
R: Let's say this. To me Florida Southern [College] was a blessing. It had small
classes, everyone knew everyone on campus, and so forth and so on. It was a
blessing. But my biggest blessing was at Northwestern. There were eight of us
midshipmen [in the suite], and I know that I probably, in relation to educational
background, was number eight. Well, I met a fellow that had gone to the
University of Michigan. He was from Holland, Michigan. [He's] still my good
friend. He took me and taught me how to take an exam. He taught me how to
analyze and study. He said that he had a professor that had taught him and he
was going to teach me. Of the eight, there were three of us commissioned
ensigns. For instance, one of the boys that busted out had been the commander
of Navy ROTC at Georgia Tech, and he busted out only, and I know, because of
fear. Either you became an ensign or you went back and was a apprentice
P: That's a big shift.
R: It was big and it was so important to us. Anyway, I was blessed.
P: Who were some of your distinguished classmates? I would guess that
Chesterfield Smith would have been one.
R: Chesterfield was there when I was there, but I believe Chesterfield finished in
1948. I knew him very well, but through the years I haven't followed him.
P: Who else was in your class who might be distinguished attorneys today?
R: Gosh. Do you know when you say that, do you realize that there's a lot of them
every time I pick up the Florida Law Journal I read a list of deceased attorneys. I
always, almost invariably, [see someone I know]. For instance, Allen Crouch
down in Gainesville. He was there with me. I think he just died last week. I don't
know. As I recall, none of our class made governor, which was unusual. But
George Proctor is a bankruptcy judge. I saw him grow from a commissioner
hearing officer for the insurance commissioner to become the senior bankruptcy
judge of the middle district of Florida. He's done very well.
P: When you look back on your experience in law school, how did that help prepare
you both for life and for the practice of law?
R: Actually, [in] the group that we went through with most of us were married. A lot
of us were married, [and] a lot of them had children. Being married, I didn't live
on campus. Back then they had the old rule that the teacher had to live in the
little town, so I had to commute for one year from Newberry to Gainesville. Dr.
Cumbee, who was the assistant dean of the College of Education, was my
chauffeur. I rode with him, and his wife taught with my wife at Newberry High
School. I think this, I think that going to school to us was more of a business than
it would be now, for instance. We had to make good grades to stay in school, and
that meant our books, our tuition. We were really married men. Anyway, a local
circuit judge was Tom Oakley. He was very popular circuit judge here in town..
[End side Al]
R: Tom was looking for work, and I remember he found a job with the assistant
county attorney. As assistant county attorney, Mr. Henry Blount was a very
important person around town at the time. He took Tom down to Levy's and
bought him three suits of clothes and told him he had to dress for the job.
Anyway, Tom wound up as the senior circuit judge and did a beautiful job.
P: So now you've finished with law school. What's your next move?
R: No one was hiring, because you can just imagine how many were graduating in
each class. Jacksonville was a smaller town then, really [and] truly. I knew within
a year probably nearly every lawyer in town by name. For instance, [if] we were
to mention firms like Rogers, Towers, and Bailey; I knew Mr. Rogers, Mr. Towers,
Mr. Bailey. I knew all of them personally. Now their next generation are retiring,
[like] Charlie Towers, Jr. Charlie Towers is the senior member of that firm, and
he's been practicing the same length of time I have.
P: Why did you decide to come to Jacksonville instead of somewhere else?
R: Ann and I talked about it, [and] we thought of Orlando. I told her I had always
liked Jacksonville. So we came here. I had an older uncle that was practicing law
here. He graduated from Washington and Lee University. [He was] my mother's
brother. He was telling me about how to practice. Well, I went and rented an
office space next to him [and] I did my own typing, and I realized that his way of
thinking of practicing law and mine was so foreign that I moved downstairs
immediately to my own office. I still couldn't afford a secretary, but I typed my
own pleadings. There was a title company that was right next door. The president
of the little title company and his office manager and I would go out and flip coins
for five-cent Cokes. Judge Porter, the owner of that company, wanted to go on a
vacation. He had to have an attorney to certify the title work. He taught me how
to examine titles. Now, I took a lot of real estate law in law school, I took Property
One, Two, Three, Four, and Five [and] I took abstracts and so forth, but you
really don't learn [how to do it]. You've got to do it. They give you the tool, but
you have to use the tool. So Judge Porter taught me how to examine titles. When
he came back I was doing it the same. I'd go down after five o'clock, after I
finished work, and do all of the title exams. They'd make the searches from the
company, but I'd take their searches and write the opinion of what was required.
He said, "Hey, I want to hire you to do this. I have now found somebody I trust
explicitly." So, I started representing the little title company.
I also found out that a lot of people back in those days, if they needed a lawyer to
draw a deed or anything, they went to the clerk of the court or they went to the
tax collector's office. I made friends with those guys, and they'd send their
business over to me. Before you know it, I was able to share a secretary with
George Proctor. I guess that was in the early 1950s, 1951 or 1952.
P: What other kind of law did you practice? Usually people starting out have to do a
little bit of everything.
R: Well, I did. At one time I must have had forty or fifty divorces pending. These little
gals would come down from New York where they'd have to wait a year. They'd
reside here ninety days. They called [them] "ninety-day wonders" because in
ninety days [you could get] residency, [and] file a suit, get the divorce, and it was
over with. It was a step forward. Then, as I developed into real estate, [I got an
offer]. There's a law firm, Smith, Axtell, and Howell, that represented the
American National Bank, and they had offices there. They invited me to be a
member of their firm. They wanted to make it a junior member and I said, "No,
whenever Mr. Smith and I make the same amount of money." I said, "Mr. Axtell, I
make as much money as you all do, I'm just having a difficulty keeping up with
my work as it is." So they called me in about an hour and said they had voted
and they wanted me to be in as a full member.
P: What year was this?
P: And up to that time you had done personal injury...
R: You name it [I've done it]. I've tried cases in the federal court. I tried an accident
case and the judge there was Judge Bryan Simpson. I'm up ready to start
selecting the jury and he said, "I have a couple of remarks to say about the
attorney for the plaintiff. He came from a little country town called Ft. White, and
he's worked his way to be here. I've known his parents." I said, "Oh, my god,
that's Sarah George Hall's husband." That was one of the farms that was almost
connected to ours. Anyway, I tried cases in the federal court. I tried criminal
cases. I've taken cases that shouldn't have been won and God was good to me.
In arguing to a jury, for instance, we refer to a yellow pad. When I'd stand up in
front of a jury, by the time I argued to that jury, I would know those jurors names
because I wrote them down. I would say, "Now Mr. So and So," and I would
never have that pad in front of me. I always thought that a pad puts something
between me and that other individual, and I wanted to be up there and be the
thirteenth or the seventh member of the jury. I wanted to be one of the boys.
P: Did you like courtroom work?
R: [I] loved it. I never went to work as a lawyer, I went to the office. I had almost fifty
years of the greatest profession that a person could have.
P: You also got to do some bankruptcy work as well?
R: I did a little bankruptcy work. When I left Smith, Axtell, and Howell, Mr. Smith and
Mr. Axtell died, Mr. Howell moved out, [and] the firm broke up. I had two partners.
I assigned one of them the bankruptcy work.
P: That's pretty specialized, isn't it?
R: It's specialized. To give you an idea, the attorney that I assigned to it is a
graduate of Georgia Tech. You have to have sort of a technical mind when you
finish there. That's sort of like bankruptcy is. He liked it, he loved it, and I didn't
have to do it.
P: What were some of your more interesting cases, particularly courtroom cases?
R: Well, I tell you, I had a fellow named Archie Carter, who was very well known all
over Jacksonville. He had been the head of the Florida High School Referee's
Association. He worked for Gordon Thompson Chevrolet. He was their new car
manager. Well something happened to Stumpey. Anyway, Gordon Thompson,
Jr. was [killed]. They say he had his shotgun that he was putting in his trunk and
his head was blown off and he was killed. They, apparently, Stumpey and Archie,
had been taking a certain amount of cars and shipping them off. They would be
floor-planned at the bank, but the bank always trusted them and never checked
the floor plan. When they did finally check, I think they found forty or fifty cars
missing, and they had been shipped to the islands.
Anyway, Archie Carter came to me, and this is in the late years of my practice. I
said, "Archie, I haven't handled a criminal case [in twenty years], why would you
come to me? There's so many lawyers that can do it." He said, "Quinton, when
you were in the Quarterback Club I said to myself, 'If I ever need a lawyer that's
my man.'" I took his case. It went into the federal courts, and there's about eight
banks involved. Some of them lost $1,500,000, some of them a couple million,
big stuff. My law partners and my secretary of about thirty-five years told me that
there's no way that I could ever get Archie Carter off. Well, I went in and I
pleaded nolo contendre. But before sentencing, I produced a black guy. He came
up and he said, "I want to tell ya'll [something.] Number one, your honor, sir,
about 30 percent of the people in Jacksonville are black. Mr. Archie Carter was
the first white man that went to black town to officiate a ball game. He was the
first white man that took a black man to white town to officiate a ball game. Do
ya'll know I'm the first black person that was ever hired as a new car salesman
[in Jacksonville] for Gordon Thompson Chevrolet? Mr. Archie Carter hired me.
I'm telling you Judge that 30 percent of the people of this town don't want Mr.
Archie to go to jail."
Then I produced [Mr. Bob Langley], the Oldsmobile dealer. He said that Archie
had started his business with Gordon Thompson, renting space from him so that
they could have the franchise. He started talking. He was an elderly gentleman.
He finally said, "Judge, I've forgotten what I'm supposed to say, but all I can tell
you is this, if I had a son, I wouldn't mind him being Archie Carter. He's a fine
P: So what was the final verdict?
R: [In the] final verdict, he was found guilty [and] sentenced to five years, but the
sentence was suspended, and he never served a day.
P: He was glad he hired you.
R: I had one bank vice-president, [when] I walked into Barnett Bank, call me an
S.O.B. in plain language. The president of the bank walked out and he said,
"That's enough of that, this lawyer did what he was hired to do." I talked with
another bank lawyer and he said, "Quinton, our little old bank lost $1,500,000,"
and you don't know how big $1,500,000 it was for that bank.
P: Let me ask you about your law firm. You started your law firm of Rumph,
Stoddard, and Christian about 1972? 1975 maybe?
R: It started with Rumph and Stoddard. Then at one time it was Rumph, Stoddard,
Smith, and Christian. I had several in and out. It was in the late 1960s or early
1970s, 1971 or 1972.
P: How many people were in that firm?
R: [There were] always four, four or five at the most.
P: How did you compete with some of the other law firms which were much, much
bigger and had greater resources?
R: I had more brains in my law firm. No. We divided the work. For instance, I had a
compliment very recently. A fellow that walked up to me here at the Beau Rivage
[condominium in Jacksonville where Rumph resides] and said, "Well, here is the
dean of all real estate lawyers, and he's still quoted today." That was a
compliment. Real estate law I loved. I tried all sorts of condemnation suits. Big
ones. Where Shands Hospital teaching is, I closed that loan out there for
$75,000,000. We had attorneys from Boston, New York, and Chicago. I will
promise you that I was told by the senior closing attorney for the lending
institutions, I was representing the borrower, the Methodist Medical Center, that
he stood up and said, "Before we close out I want it to be known that this would
have never closed except for Quinton Rumph." That was coming from the top. To
give you an idea, the title insurance rebate on that closing was around $90,000.
P: That's pretty good.
R: I'll tell you about one quick little case. It was eight days from the time I was in
Florida until we were paid. I had this young man come into my office. He had
been in for a minor deal before. My secretary called me and said, "Mr. Rumph, I
know you planned to leave town, but I think you better see Mr. Dudley Coleman
this afternoon." I said, "Okay, Virginia, I'll be there." He came in and said that he
and his mother had some partners in some coal mining interests in West Virginia
and Kentucky. They had been offered by their partners $100,000 each for their
interests in these coal mining leases. After we reviewed everything I said, "Well,
Dudley, I tell you what we'll do. I'll take the case on a contingency. The first
$200,000 will go to you and your mother, and all over that that I get, we will
divide three ways." I had them come down here, and I photocopied everything
that they brought. At the end of the day I said, "Now gentleman, I want you to
understand that I think you owe my clients $3,000,000." He said, "I want my
papers back." I said, "No, they're your partners. They're our papers. You'll get
nothing back." That was on Wednesday. The following Monday they had a
closing set. So on Sunday, Dudley and I flew to Lexington believing that the
closing would be in Lexington, Kentucky. I called the lawyer in Pikeville, Kentucky
to find out where the closing was. They said, "It's closing in Chicago." They gave
me the name, the phone number, the law firm, and the lawyer handling it. I called
them, and the fellow that was representing the partners came to the phone. I
said, "Mr. Stevens, I just sent you this telegram. If you close without disclosing
the interests of my clients, we will hold you personally responsible." I said, "You
expect that telegram at anytime to be handed to you." I said, "Now, can I speak
to Mr. So and So, [the attorney for the buyer]. He wouldn't come to the phone.
Well, I hung up real quick and dialed right back and fooled him. He came and
took the call. I told him that my clients owned 1/3 of the interests in those coal
mining leases, and that if he closed without disclosing that to the buyer, that I
would hold him personally responsible and sue him for it. They hung up and we
got a call back. The partners rented a jet and flew back to Lexington. So we
negotiated that day, and at the end of the day, making the story short, I settled
the case with them for $2,500,000. So I got 1/3 of $2.3 million for less than two
P: That's good work.
R: That was one of the big ones.
P: And your clients were happy too, I presume.
R: [They were] tickled to death. They were getting $100,000, and instead they got
P: Let me ask you another question that came up. Sam Proctor told me that you
had motels or land or something, that you had some other investments around.
R: When I was a young attorney in 1972, I owned some land out where they were
putting in Interstate 95 South, down at University Boulevard. I had a client that
had been to Oklahoma City. He had read an ad out there [about] how you could
save money in taxes by setting up your business. He went and came back and
told me about it. He said, "Quinton, we're going to put everything in my name
individually, that way I get to take all the points off of the loans and everything
against all of income. I won't have to pay any income taxes." He said, "I will take
a big insurance policy to cover me for all of this. I can take the cost of the
insurance as an expense." I said, "I can build that motel." That client had about a
sixth grade education, and I learned how to do it. So I got a Ramada Inn
franchise, and I built the first big motel that had live entertainment [in
Jacksonville]. I think the restaurant seated around 150, the lounge seated around
100, the meeting room seated around 150, and I had 150 rental units. It was all in
my individual name. By building that motel, I borrowed the money. I could go
back and take losses for five years. So for the five years before I built the motel, I
got all of the income tax I had paid back, 100 cents on the dollar. For the next
fifteen years, I didn't have to pay one dime of income tax. I sold the motel in 1988
and made $1,500,000 profit.
P: Another good business deal. Did the motel do pretty well?
R: Oh, it did excellent. Really, I had another not too long before I quit practicing law.
[Since I quit] going to the office, I've never practiced a bit. [I've] never had
another attorney client relationship since I left the office January 1, 1997.
Anyway, this fellow called me and said that his property had been foreclosed and
that he needed to sell it because he thought he could get some equity. I sent him
to a realtor. The realtor called me right back after he went out and looked at the
land and said, "Quinton, you don't need for someone else to buy this land, you
need to buy it yourself." I told him, "You've got to call Lee Rice, who was the
owner of the land, and ask him if he would consider an offer from me. He said,
"He'd be delighted." Lee owed around $185,000. Anyway, $150,000, and
someone had offered $35,000 more but he thought it was worth more than that,
so I offered him $285,000. He told me that he made $100,000 profit off of the
land, even though he used it for several years for his business. I don't believe in
cheating people because they're down. That's absolutely against my grain. I
kept the land for less than three years, and I sold it for $635,000 cash. I netted
$285,000 on it. Truthfully, I have made more money since I quit practicing law
than I ever made as a lawyer.
P: Talk a little bit about how Jacksonville changed from the time you started
practicing law till the time you quit practicing law.
R: Firstly, I'd think you'd think of the facility. The old courthouse had big old windows
and no air conditioning. In the summer, they'd raise those windows and you'd
have to have paper weights to anchor the papers down on your tables where you
were arguing your cases or they'd blow across the room. I saw us leave that old
facility. That facility was built right after what they called the Big Fire here in
Jacksonville, which I think was in the early 1900s, 1906 or thereabouts. The
judges had one great big room and in the corner was their desk, but in the rest
[of the room] they had all of what we call ex parte hearings right in that room.
That was their office [and their] hearing room. It was everything but the
courtroom. Then in the new courthouse the judge had his private office, his
private little bath, private hearing room, and big nice courtrooms. I think the
facilities really helped in the practice because you could have private conference
rooms and things where normally, in the old days, you'd go out in the hall where
everybody heard what was going on.
P: As we talked about earlier, the skyline of Jacksonville has changed dramatically.
R: Oh, it has. There was nothing downtown except what we called the Lynch
Building. Rogers, Towers, Bailey, Jones, and Gay was in a little building [called
the Consolidated Building] over on Bay Street. I think it had six stories. There
was none of the high rise, of course. The old judges, for instance, still used his
spittoon. I mean, [he] chewed tobacco and used his spittoon. He was the one
that I went to to swear me in as a lawyer. When I went in he asked where I came
from, and I told him, and he said, "Why don't you go over to Lake City and
practice law." I said, "Well, frankly, my mother's been there all of her life and she
said that it was absolutely the [most crooked and], most corrupt town." He said,
"Well, why don't you go over there to clean it up?" I said, "Because everybody
that has gone over to clean it up has become part of the system." He said, "Well,
hadn't you rather be a big fish in a little pond?" I said, "No, your honor, I had
much rather be a big fish in a big pond." He said, "Boy, hold up your hand." So
that's the way [it happened]. Not now. Now today they go to Tallahassee and
they have a big ceremony and so forth. Two people were present whenever I
was sworn in, the judge and me.
P: How important has Barnett Bank been to the development of Jacksonville?
R: The Barnett Bank was good for Jacksonville. I banked at the Barnett from 1949,
when I opened my first account at the Barnett Bank. I still have an account at
their bank, but I do think that when the president of the Barnett sold out, I think
he sold out his soul to get money.
P: Is this Alan Lastinger?
R: No, I know Alan, and I think he's a fine person. The person, whoever it is, and I'm
not calling names, it was absolutely a crime against nature for them to have sold
P: Because it really was a state bank and a Jacksonville bank, wasn't it?
R: It wasn't a state bank, it was a national bank. Barnett National Bank.
P: But I mean as it started.
R: Oh, yes. It started here locally. I know what you mean. It was a home bank. It
was a home headquarters. It was good. When Charlotte moved to Jacksonville
and took over their lending institutions, we lost an awful lot.
P: One of the early assessments of Jacksonville, and when you talked about Lake
City, there was a certain amount of corruption in Jacksonville in the 1920s and
1930s, was there not?
R: Well, that part, by the time I had gotten here, the mayor had to resign or
something. I had forgotten that political background, but basically the politics in
Jacksonville, through the years, has been relatively clean. I would say that. It had
been a good moral city. I'm talking about from the municipal point of view, it's
been basically honest through the years.
P: One mayor of Jacksonville ended up being governor [Haydon Burns, governor
1965-67, Jacksonville mayor, 1949-64].
R: That's correct. I think he was a good governor and I think he was a good mayor.
P: One of the things that I've kept up with is that there have been a lot of very
dynamic mayors of Jacksonville. Some I remember, like Jake Godbold and
people like that. What would your view of the current mayor [John Delaney] be?
R: I do not [know] Mayor Delaney personally, but I think he's done a good job. I
think he's wasted a lot of money with this program for getting the big game in
here in 2005. What do you call it? The football championship.
P: The Super Bowl.
R: Super Bowl. I think this, that they have wasted a lot of money. For instance, a
little neighborhood that I go in. They took and ripped up all of the streets. They
didn't need paving. There are oodles of streets that do need paving. A little lot
that my church owns, in order for us to rent it for parking, we have to spend
thousands of dollars to beautify it, and only one entrance to it, and all that. That's
all a bunch of hogwash that's being wasted. I think Delaney, per se, has made a
good mayor, done a good job, and has been good for the city, but I'm not certain
that wasting all of this money is good for the city or fair to the average resident.
P: One of the things he's emphasized, I guess, that's changed over the years, he's
more interested in conservation, cleaning up the [St. Johns] river, and making the
environment better. Not as much pollution and that sort of thing.
R: Ed Austin lives in this building, and I think Ed did some of that. Who was the one
that you just mentioned?
P: Jake Godbold.
R: I think he did some. Jake made a pretty good mayor. Far better than his normal
abilities would be there. I think he was a better mayor than he was a
businessman. I think he enjoyed every minute of it. I personally thought that Jake
did a good job.
P: When you look at your career as a lawyer, what part of that career, what
accomplishments, are you most proud of?
R: I do think that I helped the real estate lawyers of the city. I think that I had some
effect in changing the methods of real estate closings and relationships with title
companies. I was in the unique position. I represented the American Title
Insurance Company. I represented Chicago Title Insurance Company. On one
occasion, and this was amusing, we had a case that was going to come [to trial]
out of Atlantic Beach, involved heavy money. So they flew me up to Chicago to
observe so that, if it went to trial, I would be on the same footing as the attorney
for the plaintiff. So when the president of Chicago Title walks in to the room, he
says, "Now Mr. Rumph will be negotiating for us." Everybody would have liked to
have fainted. I said, "That's just no problem at all." So I stood up and I said, "Now
this is a blackboard." I looked over at the attorney from Orlando, VandenBerg I
believe, if it wasn't VandenBerg it was from his law firm, and I said, "Now you
take this board and explain to us how much we owe you and why." It threw him
off. He wasn't exactly expecting that type of negotiation. So he did. When he
finished we took a break and went to the men's room. I said, "I'll tell you exactly
how much your case is worth." I have forgotten what it was, $100,000. We
agreed and it was settled when we came out. I was always a good negotiator.
From the two or three things I've explained to you, negotiations for a lawyer is so
important. You've got to have the trust of everybody in the room to be a good
P: You had a lot of work with title companies. I'm a little bit ignorant about this, but
recently there's been some talk about fees that are too high. What is all that
R: Well, to give you an idea, when I closed the Methodist Medical Center, the title
rebate check to our law firm was around $90,000. I probably didn't have to work
over a day for that money. What it is, it would be like we sold the insurance. I
could have ordered it from Chicago, American, or any number of other
companies. It would be like the fee that they would pay a life insurance salesman
when they sell a policy. They get a premium. Well, the lawyers got a premium.
Now there was a big case, and this has been since I finished, that said that the
amount of the fee [was too high]. For instance, if you can believe it, the title
company, as I recall, was giving you 50 percent of the fee or 70 percent.
P: That's a bit large.
R: I think the case says that you can negotiate for that fee. That the person has that
right. There's always a question of disclosure between the attorney and his client.
We call it the card rate that was a published rate. That was the rate that we used.
For instance, in my law firm, I required every lawyer to tell the client exactly how
much of that fee that the law firm was getting that was not available to the client.
In other words, if the client went in and ordered the policy direct, he would pay
the card rate. If the lawyer ordered it, he would pay the card rate less 30 percent,
40 percent, or 50 percent. I've seen it all the way up to 70 percent.
P: Has the cost of title insurance increased significantly in the past few years?
R: No, it really hasn't. It's about the same.
P: Another question that came to mind. You've represented several different
corporations. What did you do, for example, for CSX Transportation?
R: My law firm, Dick Stoddard, has always represented them. He's in charge of their
collections and big stuff.
P: What about SafeCo? Did you work with them?
P: What about these Tom Bush Regency Motors?
R: Those are Gary Christian's clients.
P: Okay, so you've divided up these clients and that sort of thing.
R: Yes, and when I left they took my clients.
P: One of the things that I'm sure you're at least pleased with has been your
charitable contributions. Which of those do you think are going to be the most
valuable in the long run?
R: The gift annuity is perpetual. The scholarships at Florida Southern College and at
the University of Florida will be there from now on. That's in perpetuity.
P: So in terms of impact, you see the scholarships as the most important?
R: No doubt. In a few years, after my death, there will be at least ten to fifteen
students from Ft. White in various colleges and universities as a result of [my
donation]. My wife Ann was a much a part of it as I was, and I've always
considered her absolutely a true partner in addition to being my wife.
P: You have been involved with the Methodist Medical Center. You've been on the
Board of Directors out there.
R: Yes, and I was on the Board of Directors of Advent Christian Village. A quick
story about that that was cute. I kidded them and told them I was the token
Methodist on their board, but I went to my first meeting, and they were talking
about building a 150-bed nursing home and a 70-bed assisted care living facility.
They had the plans and so forth. They'd have a report on it, and then they'd go to
the next order of business. In the next order of business they were talking about
building some cluster apartments. The next meeting I went to they brought it up
and they were going to do the same thing, just give a report and go on. I said,
"Wait just a minute, I have a motion I want to make. I make a motion that we
borrow $14,000,000 to build a 150-bed nursing home and a 70-bed assisted care
living facility, construction to be started as quickly as the loan can be finalized."
This Advent preacher stood up and said, "Well, I'm sort of in shock, but I'll
second the motion solely for the purpose of discussion." Then I explained to them
how I had just finished closing the Methodist Medical Center, and that we could
use the same team, put it together, and we would have it closed within a year.
They believed in me, and within two years we had the dedication of the buildings
over there. Then on the cluster housing, when it came up secondly, I made a
motion that Pomeroy Carter, the president, be authorized to use $250,000 from a
certain fund to build the first clusters. Then as each cluster sold, that he could
rotate it and use the money as it came in to build. They must have about sixty of
those over there.
P: How has Florida Southern changed? Are you on the Board of Directors at Florida
R: No, I'm not any longer.
P: But you were at one time.
R: Yes, for a long while.
P: How has that institution changed?
R: It's just about like all of the other universities. It's bigger than when we were
there. Three times bigger probably. They have a lot more Jewish boys, a lot more
Catholics and blacks and so forth in make up. But I go down to the University of
Florida and I see these baggy britches going across campus and I think to
myself, "My God, is he going to be my doctor one day?" They [Florida Southern]
have the same change, but they still have the church. It is the only college that is
owned by a Methodist conference in the United States.
P: It's still a small school.
R: [It's] still a small school.
P: How important is the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, particularly the chapel?
R: The chapel was there when I was there and a lot of the walkways that he had
designed. A lot has been completed. It's got a lot of good advertising from it, but
it would have been the same whether Frank Lloyd did it or not.
P: Is there anything we haven't talked about that you would like to talk about or you
would like to bring up?
R: Yes. I would like to say this, that any successful lawyer should have a wife like
mine. She supported my church, she supported my law office, [and] she
supported my family in love and affection. I told you I had two sisters. [My father]
told me in the presence of my two sisters, that "If Ann was standing between
Marian and Bess, I do not know which one I'd love the best." A good marriage
means an awful lot to a successful person because as a lawyer you have enough
strife just by the nature of your profession. People want to sue each other. I
would say that to come home and still have the strife going on is bad. It's good, if
you can, to leave it at the office.
I would say this, the fun of practicing law, when I left, was not there. It was dog-
eat-dog, sue you, and what's in it for me. When I first started practicing law I
could pick up my phone and say to another lawyer, "Hey, David, I need another
ten days to file an answer. That'll be fine Quinton, no problem." I said, "I
appreciate it, let me know if I can help you." When I left, I would call [and say],
"David, I need ten days to file an answer." "That'll be fine." And the minute I hung
up I'd reach over and take the dictating equipment and say:
In accordance to our telephone conversation, you have granted me an additional
ten days to file an answer in the above entitled cause.
J. Quinton Rumph.
I had to pull those letters out at least three times in front of judges to show that
the other attorney was trying to wring me.
P: So not as much trust.
R: The trust was gone. If it wasn't down in black and white, it didn't happen. It's sad.
It's a sad indictment, but you can see the same current when we read about
Enron and so forth and so on. It's that attitude that's caused that.
P: So it's essentially a lack of business ethics as well.
P: People just want money and power.
R: My brother-in-law had a good saying. He said money is not everything, health is
2 percent. That's about the way they feel about money, that money's everything.
It's really not.
P: Anything else?
R: Is there anything you want to ask?
P: I think that's a good place to end. Thank you very much for your time.
R: I hope it's helpful of what you wanted.
P: Absolutely, very good.
R: Could I tell you about one other thing? I'd like you to know that my great-
grandfather, Giles U. Ellis, was the first member of the House of Representatives
of the state of Florida when it became a state. There were only ten counties. His
county was Columbia. It ran from the Suwannee River west to Live Oak to
Baldwin. And I can say this, which very few people will ever be able to say to
you, I knew each of my grandfathers [[John J. Bunch and Adolphus Rumph].
Each one of them fought four years in the Civil War. You won't hear that often.
One of them lived to be ninety, and one of them lived to be eighty-six. The
average age of their time was around forty-eight or forty-nine years old. I'm proud
of my background. Ellisville over there is named after Giles U. Ellis.
[End of the interview]