34 Pages OpBt-~ Nrelea)
February 26, 1973
Pp. 1-5: Robert Gray is a former FL secretary of state. His father was a Methodist minister as
were other men in his family. The Grays were also sea captains and planters. Gray's family
originated from Georgia and South Carolina. The Grays came to Florida in 1845 and helped to
organize the Florida Annual Conference. Robert Gray was born on August 2, 1982 in Cairo,
Georgia and was six months old when he first moved to Aucilla, Florida. He has three brothers.
Pp. 5-10: Robert won a scholarship to the South Florida Military College in Bartow. Before that,
he had been teaching since the age of 16 to help support the family. At Bartow, Gray was
instructed by Civil War major general E.M. Law. Gray tells the story of why his class boycotted
the school when Law resigned. Law and superintendent Sheats had been in a disagreement
leading to the resignation.
Pp. 10-14: Robert was nominated Lieutenant after his first three years at the college. After the
class resigned with Law, Gray returned home. He left for Tallahassee in search of a job and
earned one in 1903 as a committee clerk in the state senate.
Pp. 14-17: Robert was married to Grace Mullins while in Bartow. Together, they lived in the
governor's mansion under Governor Trummell's request. Gray had known Trummell since he
was a clerk with the state House and Trummell had been a Representative. The Trummells were
the first family to live in the new governor's mansion.
Pp. 17-23: Gray discusses his time as Trummell's secretary. Governor Gilchrist is also discussed.
Gray believes that Trummell is not well known today because of the poor press he received back
then. Despite this, Gray believes Trummell to have been an excellent governor. As his secretary,
Robert wrote speeches and bills and was a notary, but mainly he supported the Comptroller. Gray
also worked for William Knott as Insurance Comptroller. Gray was involved in Trummell's and
John Luning's campaigns.
Pp. 23-26: Governor Catts's campaign and terms are discussed. The Catholic issue is talked
about. Also, Gray tells the story of his investigation into Lonny Howell for Governor Catts.
Pp. 26-29: Gray discusses numerous people: Doak Campbell, Spessard Holland, Fuller Warren,
Charley Johns, Daniel McCarty and Leroy Collins. Basically, Gray attempts to touch upon all
fifteen governors under whom he worked.
Pp. 29-34: Gray says his career was satisfying. He likes the new secretary, Richard Stone.
Robert does not believe the new constitution is any better then the old one. The last few pages
are devoted to Gray's retrospect on his lifetime achievements.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWER: Samuel Proctor
INTERVIEWEE: Robert Gray, deceased
DATE: February 26, 1973
P: I'm interviewing Robert Andrew Gray, former Secretary of
State of Florida at his home here in Tallahassee on February
26, 1973. Mr. Gray, tell me about your mother and father.
I want to find out about your forebears.
G: My father was a Methodist minister. My grandfather on my
mother's side was a Methodist minister. My great-grandfather
on my mother's side was a Methodist minister. But in the
early days, when their children were just growing up, they
were sea captains. My great-grandfather owned a line of
sailing ships; of course, there were no steamships in those
days. It was the custom of the part of the country he lived
in--which was South Carolina--it was the custom in those
days that the oldest son would always learn the trade. He'd
be apprenticed out by his father. Now, that was my grand-
father on my mother's side. When he was seventeen years
old, his father, who was my great-grandfather, owned a line
of sailing ships. His father would not let him sail or learn
the sailor's trade in his father's ships, for fear his captains
would show him some favor. He apprenticed him out in a line
of ships that went all over the world, and he's had no favors.
He was a sailor before the mast, that's all he was.
P: This is your father's family?
G: No, that was my mother's family.
P: What was their name?
P: And they were originally from South Carolina?
G: Yeah. Her mother, who was my grandmother, was a Durant from
South Carolina. One of that family served in the United
States Senate. There was a United States senator by the name
of Durant. He belonged to that Durant family that was my
P: When did they first come to Florida?
G: It was about the time Florida became a state.
P: Around 1845?
P: They moved down from South.
G: My grandfather had become a minister, and right after he
married, he decided that he was called to preach, as they
called it back in those days. He took his bride and brought
her to Florida. And he helped organize the Florida Annual
P: Where did the family settle when they came into Florida?
G: His first charge was Aucilla. Then he served in Monticello,
and served in a lot of places.
Now, I omitted one thing. When he finished his four
year apprenticeship, he took an examination for mariner.
And the board passed him, and endorsed on his certificate--
they called it a certificate in those days--"Master mariner.
Good in all seas." He could sail anywhere in the world he
wanted to in command of a ship. And then his father, my
great-grandfather, gave him a ship. At twenty-one he went
to sea, in command of his own ship, with a crew of forty.
P: What was your grandfather's name? The minister?
G: Howren, that was on my mother's side. On the Gray side, of
course his name was Gray. And my father's family....
P: That's what I want to ask you about, your father's family.
G: My father's family lived up here in the very southwest corner
of Georgia--Decatur. It was then called Decatur County,
Georgia. It's been divided up into the part they call my
P: How did your father's father make his living. Your grandfather
G: He was what you would call a well-to-do planter. He had a
big farm in what was then Decatur County, Georgia, on the
Flint River. It was equipped with a cotton gin and the other
appurtenances that went with a big farm, a well-to-do farmer.
My father was one of the younger brothers.
P: What brought your father to Florida?
G: When he and my mother first married, my father had been to
Texas, and Texas was a new state, just opening up. Everybody
thought it was the place to go to make money. So my father
went, took my mother back with him to Texas. He homesteaded
some land out there and became a Texas farmer. But my mother
got homesick. She was not used to pioneer life. She had
been raised in a Methodist parsonage. So she began begin'
my father to come back to Georgia or Florida. At that time,
my grandfather Howren was stationed at Attapulgus, Georgia,
so when my mother came home, she went to Attapulgus. Well,
my father followed her, of course. He decided that he couldn't
stay in Texas if my mother didn't like it. So he came back,
and when he came back, he fell under the influence of my
maternal grandfather at once, who was then an active minister.
So my father decided he was called to preach, and he became
a Methodist preacher.
P: He gave up farming, then?
G: Yes, he gave up farming, and my father was a minister. Here
is one distinctive thing about my father. He was in the
Florida Conference for forty-seven years before he super-
annuated, as they call it. His entire ministry of forty-
seven years, was spent in the Tallahassee judiciary.
P: This area?
G: I've had a number of people ask me, "Where were you raised?"
I said, "In hollerin' distance of Tallahassee."
P: Where were you born, Mr. Gray?
G: At Cairo, Georgia.
G: August 2, 1882. Stone gave me quite a birthday party on
last August 2 to my delightful surprise. There were fully
500 people. The present governor, two former governors,
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and two other justices,
and all the minor people--four ex-cabinet officers that had
served with me in the cabinet, they came. Altogether there
was over 500 people came to that birthday party.
P: That was wonderful. How old were you when you came to
G: Six months.
P: Where did the family first live?
P: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
G: Three brothers.
P: What were their names?
G: My oldest brother was named Joe. He died in 1963. My next
brother...after he was grown, they called him W.D. When he
was growing up, we called him Willie, or Bill. But he was
eight years younger than I. He died last May. He was the
last living brother that I had. He lived about a block from
me over here. Then, my youngest brother was named Leon.
Leon, Sr., because his oldest son was named Leon, Jr. I
gave them a home to live in, 'bout a block and a half from
P: Is he living?
G: No. He died about four years ago. By the way, he was an
assistant professor at the University of Florida for twenty
P: What department?
G: Well, you've got me there.
P: What did he teach?
G: He had been a high school principal for thirty years. And Dr.
Tigert [John J. Tigert] was president of the university.
P: He probably was in education.
G: Very likely, very likely, education. He was a high school
principal for thirty years. I asked Dr. Tigert if he couldn't
give him a place in the university.
He said, "Yes. I can't pay him much. We start off
professors, or teachers, we start 'em off as assistant pro-
fessors. After they get their doctor's degree, we make 'em
Well, my youngest brother Leon had finished his disser-
tation as a doctor, and had had it approved, but he lacked....
At that time, the University of Florida, in order to confer
a doctor's degree on you, you had to go out of the state for
P: That's right.
G: You couldn't make your time at the university. So I found
that out, and I told him. I said, "I want you to go get
your doctor's degree, so you'll be an associate professor."
He says; "I can't afford it right now. It's takin' all
I'm making to live. And I'm raisin' a family of boys, and
I've got to educate and raise them."
I said, "I'll pay your expenses if you'll go get your
He says, "I still can't do it. I can't complete it.
I've got my dissertation written. It's been approved. But
I can't do it, because I've got my three boys to raise and
They are all graduates of the University of Florida or
P: Mr. Gray, how about you telling me about South Florida
Military College in Bartow? When did you go down there?
G: All right. At that time every county in Florida was permitted
to have one cadet. The legislature had authorized them to
have one cadet from.a county. My father was a pastor at
Crawfordville at that time. Crawfordville--county seat of
Wakulla County. I went up town, and I saw a young man with a
uniform on. So naturally I was attracted to it. I went up,
asked him where he went to school, and so on. And he talked to
me very freely.
He says, "I've had this scholarship from Wakulla County
for several years, but I can't go back. I'm not going back.
I've come home now to get a job, so it's gonna be open."
In a few weeks I noticed an advertisement in the paper
that an examination would be held to select a cadet from
Wakulla County to succeed this young man that I had been
talking' to. Quite a few of us took the examination. I've
forgotten just how many; maybe twenty-five, or thirty,
something' like that. I won out. I won the scholarship,
but at that time I had been teaching school for several
I will insert something that oughta come first. I
began teaching the day before I was sixteen.
P: Where was this?
G: That was what they call the Salford Creek school. It was a
rural school. One-teacher school. I taught all of the...
we didn't have any grades back in those days. You ask a
youngster, "Where are you in school?"
"I'm in the fourth reader."
"I'm in the third reader."
Everybody was graded by what reader they were in. No
grades; nothing in the world you could call a grade. I never
attended high school in my life, and yet I was principal of
several high schools. But I never attended a high school in
P: But you started teaching before you were sixteen?
G: Yeah. Now, my father's health failed about that time, and
he took what the ministers call a supernumerary relation.
That means that you drop out, and you're not active. You
get no pay; nobody pays you a dime. So my father took five
years out of his forty-seven in a supernumary relation.
Well, my oldest brother who was already teaching' school, he
and I turned our entire salary to my father to keep up his
family to live on. My father and my mother and the younger
boys were living. So I turned everything over I made except
my own board--that's the only thing I held out was my own
board. And you can't hardly believe this, but my board was
four dollars a month. And the county school board paid me
fifteen dollars a month--not a week now, but a month. Fifteen
dollars! I turned over eleven dollars to my father, and I
gave the old widow that I board with four dollars.
P: So you taught school before you went down to the military
G: I had to teach and sorta catch up with my money-makin'. If
you call fifteen dollars a month money-makin'.
P: In those days it looked pretty good.
G; Yeah, it went further then than it will go now,
G: Now I'll pick up the story at that point. I didn't get to
my military school that I had won the scholarship to until
February. My public country school was out in February.
P: So you taught until February?
G: I taught until February. Then I went down to Bartow.
P: How did you get down there?
G: On the train. Everybody went on the train in those days.
P: From Tallahassee?
G: Yeah. From Tallahassee you went to Jacksonville and took
the Coast Line to Lakeland, and then it was only fourteen
miles over to Bartow. Little branch road went over there.
When I got to Bartow in February, of course my class had
been there since September.
P: You don't remember the date of that? The year?
G: 1900. Back in those days the colleges and the universities
didn't ask you what you wanted to take--you took everything
that they had in the curriculum. You had to; it was manda-
tory. So my class was having to do that. They were having
to take everything in the curriculum. For a freshman class
that included algebra, trigonometry--I had never looked at
an algebra in my life. It included Latin, first-year Latin,
Caesar's Gallic Wars. And there was a higher class...the
higher class had Cicero's Oration, and Virgil's Aeneid. But
I had never looked at an algebra and I had never looked at
a Latin book in my life. I'd never been to anything but a
country school. My class, though, were very good to me.
They'd come to my room at night and labor with me on my
P: And you were behind because they had been there since Sept-
G: Yeah, I was behind them from September to February. And at
the end of the year I passed my examinations in all those
subjects with the help of my classmates coming to my room
at night and helping me.
I remember my Latin professor very well. He was the
only professor that ever called me down about anything. I
was mixed up on my pronunciation of Latin. I would pronounce
it in what they call "the continental broad A." Then I'd
sorta switch over to the English pronunciation. One day he
stopped me. He said, "Mr. Gray, I wish you would either take
one or the other. Don't try to switch from one to the other.
I don't care which you take, but just pick one of 'em."
Well, I was terribly embarrassed; after that I took the con-
tinental, and after that it was broad As.
P: Did your scholarship cover everything--room and board?
P: And all your expenses?
G: Well, almost everything. It did not cover uniforms; you
had to buy your own uniform. But it covered room and board
and meals and tuition. That was the only way I could have
ever gone to college.
P: Who was the principal? Who was the head of the school?
G: A Civil War major general, E.M. Law [Evander Mclvor Law.]
P: From South Carolina, wasn't he?
G: Alabama. I've got a paper that I wrote, and I submitted it
to some magazine, so I got a complimentary letter from Reader's
Digest about it, except they said they had all the articles
that they needed for six months. They sent me back the arti-
cle, but they complimented it very highly.
P: What kind of a man was General Law. [Here there is an inter-
ruption in the interview. It resumes with Dr. Proctor stat-
ing:] This is an article by you in the Orlando Sentinel,
December 29, 1963--"The Cadet Class of 1903 Resigned with its
G: Now what made that article readable...Senator Holland [Spessard
L. Holland] is quoted. He gave me permission to quote him, and
I quoted his full letter. And General Van Fleet [James A. Van
Fleet] who was a Korean general, full-rank, you know. He
commanded all troops in Korea. He was a native of Bartow. I
knew him when he was a little feller on the street selling'
newspapers. He wrote me a letter, and gave me permission to
P: Tell me about how the class resigned because of General Law.
G: This story tells ya, probably not as clearly as it should.
Uh, you know, we...you...you remember Mr. Sheats? [William
N. Sheats, Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1893-1904;
P: I do.
G: Well, you remember he was strictly honest, and so abrupt;
he was very abrupt.
G: General Law was the opposite kind of a man. He was just a
Southern gentleman in every sense of the word. He never
spoke in a high tone of voice to us cadets. He'd talk in a
low tone, and it was always a suggestion--it was never any-
thing we had to do. For instance, when I would go down there,
I was stoop-shouldered, you know. I was a country boy. I
had 'country" written all over me. He'd tap me on the shoulder.
He'd say, "Don't you think it would be nice to straighten up
a little bit?" And I'd rare back and straighten up. That
was the kind of man he was.
He was a major general in the Confederate Army, and at
the battle of Gettysburg he succeeded to the command of
Hood's division. He was in Hood's division, and he was a
brigadier general, but he was a senior brigadier...twenty-
six years old. And so when Hood got his arm wounded first
day of battle, he turned over his division to General Law,
who was the senior brigadier in his division. General Law
had an Alabama brigade--Alabama and Texas.
P: Why did Sheats not like General Law?
G: I never would have found out all about it from the general,
because he never talked about it. He never talked to us boys
about anything about his serviceor anything about the head
of that school. He never talked to us about his military
service at all in the Civil War.
General Law had filled some cadetships from counties
who did not send a cadet. There were other counties that
wanted to send a cadet, and so General Law told 'em, "Give
G: He was ordered to.... Sheats, as you know, was secretary of
the state board of education. Now, when I was on the state
board of education (for thirty-one years) if we got a letter,
we'd answer it; and we'd send 'em a copy of the letter. But
back in those.old days, back in 1900 and 1903, the cabinet
officers had practically no help allowed them by the legis-
lature. So Sheats had one clerk, Miss Clare [Clem] Hampton.
P: Now, Sheats was superintendent of public instruction?
G: Superintendent of public instruction. And that made him sec-
retary of the state board of education. But he only had one
clerk, and she was not a stenographer. So you can imagine
what happened. Sheats would get a letter, throw it in the
Now, it began to float out through the faculty that
General Law was fixin' to resign. Now, I think I can make
the story just a little more readable. The last year that
I was there, when I was in my senior year, General Law called
me over to his office and says, "Can't you arrange to be
here on time next year?"
I thought he had some reference to my having been late
every year. So I said, "Well, General, I've studied mighty
hard, and I've worked mighty hard just keeping' up with my
He said, "Oh, I'm not talking' about you academically.
You stand fourth in your class--four out of thirteen." But
he says, "You know that I always appoint the corporals and
the sergeants and the lieutenants and the captains in Septem-
ber. And if you're not here, I couldn't do anything for you."
Well, I caught the hint. So that year was the only
year that I got back on time. In my sophomore year I got
there after Christmas; in my junior year I got there after
Thanksgiving, but a little behind every time. But I borrowed
some money from an old bachelor who was reported to have
plenty of money. I borrowed some from him. He didn't hesi-
tate a minute. I went to him. I told him, "I want to get
back to school on time this year. How about lending me a
He says, "Yeah, I'll lend it to you. How much do you want?"
I said, "Well, I don't need but about forty or fifty dollars."
He says, "Yeah, I'll...." He pulled it out and handed it
to me. So I got there in September that year, and I was
read out a lieutenant of the line. That meant I had experi-
ence in drilling the company, and I took my turn as officer
of the day.
If you know anything at all about the military, why you
know that they have an officer of the day. And for twenty-
four hours, he's in charge of their entire campus. He sees
that all rules are met by the cadets. Well, I had to take
my turn every week as officer of the day. The way we, the
officers, there dressed for our dress...you wore a West
Point dress uniform--forty-four brass buttons, and they
all better be shinin' bright. Wouldn't do to have 'em
looking' like they needed shinin'. You had to shine all forty-
four of 'em. Then you had a red sash around your waist and
over your shoulder, and a sword buckled on to your sash.
That was the sign of your bein' officer of the day.
I was serving as officer of the day one Sunday, and a
portly gentleman in citizen's clothes stepped up in the
door of the guardhouse. Your officer of the day kept his
headquarters in the guardhouse, and had an orderly to send
on errands when he needed 'em. This portly gentleman stepped
up in the doorway. He had had military experience; in fact,
he had graduated from military school, but I didn't know it
then. I'd never seen him before. He stepped up in the door-
way, and I rose immediately, stood up to greet him; and the
first thing he said to me was, "I see you're on duty as
officer of the day."
I said, "Yes, sir, I happen to be officer of the day
today. What can I do for you?"
Now the rest of the story; it's a short story, but they
didn't use it in my story. He says, "I understand that your
senior class has been talking' about going. I want to talk
I rared back my shoulders, you know, and all those forty-
four brass buttons showing I said, "By whose authority, sir?"
"Oh," he said, "you don't know who I am?"
I said, "No sir, I'm sorry, I don't know who you are."
He said, "I'm to be the new president of this college.
I take charge here next week."
I said, "Well, in that case, I will have the senior class
assembled at your request." And I turned to the orderly and
I said, "Go have the class marshall of the senior class...tell
him that the officer of the day said to form at once and march
his class to the chapel, and we'll meet him at the chapel,"
Well, the orderly performed his duty all right--he
knew he better. Well, in just about five minutes the senior
class marched in. We took front row seats. This supposed
new president, he went around on the rail, and took his
position behind the podium--the pulpit, you know. And he
started with me. I was sitting next to the aisle. He
pointed his finger at me, and says, "Are you twenty-one years
old?" Just about like that.
I said, "No, sir, I'm twenty."
He says, "Well, I hear that your class is talking' about
leaving." Says, "We'll see about it. You won't do anything
of the kind. I won't let you."
I said, "Sir, I'm here on my own. I'm paying' my own
way through this school. My father is sick. He can't do
anything at all for me. I will do as I please."
Then he went right down the line: "Are you twenty-one?
Are you twenty-one? Are you twenty-one?" And every one of
us was twenty. We had not reached our twenty-first birthday.
We would reach it that year--1903, we'd a been twenty-one.
But we were still twenty.
He says, "Well, I'll see that you don't leave this campus."
He turned to me; he said, "Class is dismissed." So I pro-
ceeded down the aisle and took my position right outside the
door--the outside door, the entrance in on the campus. And
as the class passed me, two and two (you know, they're march-
ing two and two), I'd say, "Meet me in my room right away."
And they did.
When I got up to my room, the whole class was there.
And if you'd ever heard an indignation made, that was some
indignation made! Man, they didn't like it at all! And
they voted unanimously right there in my room that they'd
leave with the general! If the general was gonna leave,
well, they'd go out with him. And so they elected me as a
spokesman for the class, and the next morning at eight o'clock
our whole class went over to the general's quarters to see
the general. He wondered why we wanted to see him. So I
told him. I said, "General, we'd heard yesterday that you
were gonna leave next week. We're going with you. We're
resigning our cadetships, and our officers, and we're going
to leave the campus with you."
He says, "Now, young gentlemen...." I can remember the
conversation. He said, "Young gentlemen don't do that. Don't
do that. You don't think of me. Think about yourselves.
You'll wish you had remained."
We said, "No, we're going with you." And we all had
the old-fashioned flip trunks, you know. We packed our
trunks and sent 'em to the depot; bought our tickets to our
respective homes. And when the general was succeeded, the
day that that man succeeded the general, we were on the train
P: That must have caused a sensation in Bartow.
G: Well, Senator Holland was a native of Bartow, as you know.
Senator Holland mentions the fact about our class leaving'
and he says, "I approved of it. I think you did right."
And General Van Fleet said that he approved of it, although
he was a little boy...newspaper boy on the street. But he
was a full general.
P: Mr. Gray, when you came back to Bartow, what did you do?
G: When I got home early in 1903, I was broke. I had to borrow
some money to get home on. I was out of a job. I was en-
gaged to be married. The state senator from Wakulla County
lived right across the road from us. I went to see him. I
said, "Legislature's gonna meet in a little bit--two weeks,
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Well, I've got to have a job. Can you see that
I get a job in the legislature?"
"Why," he said, "yes, yes. I think that'd be fine. That
would be nice. You're perfectly competent to take it. You
write a good hand." So I got out some letters. I sent 'em
to all the senators. Well, of course, I was too unsophisti-
cated, I didn't know.... But I only got replies from a few
of the newly elected senators. I didn't get any replies at
all from what they call the "holdovers." And our senator
was a holdover.
Well, I came up to Tallahassee when the legislature was
meeting, still thinking' that I would get a job without any
trouble. Our representative partly represented Gadsen County;
we had two representatives then. I was living in Havana, and
enrolling secretary was the job I was running for. Well, the
new senators, were coming in. The newly elected senators were
coming in, and among them was an old gentleman. He had been
a saloon operator. He operated a saloon in Madison County.
My father had helped run the saloons out of Madison County,
but that old gentleman was a fine character. I didn't know
it then, I found it out later--but he....
P: What was his name? Do you remember?
G: It slipped my mind. I'll think of it. He had a full beard.
I approached him, asked him to vote for me for enrolling
He stroked his beard, and he said, "Son...." (See, I
was only twenty years old; I hadn't reached my twenty-first
birthday then.) He said, "Son who is your senator?"
I said, "Senator Rouse." [W.C. Rouse of Sopchoppy]
He said, "Why, he's a holdover senator, isn't he?"
I said, "Yes, I think he is."
He says, "Well, he was allocated a page." And I remem-
bered then that he'd brought his own son with him on the
train coming' up here. And later I asked him and his son if
he had brought his son to take his allocation of page. That's
all he had. He couldn't make me enrolling secretary. Then
I found out that this old senator that was strokin' his
beard, that he had the naming of enrolling secretary. And
he brought his friend up here to be enrolling secretary.
P: So there was no position for you as enrolling secretary?
G: No, no! There's no chance in the world for me to get it.
P: Senator Rouse had just not told you the whole story?
G: No, that's right. He hadn't told me the whole story. Well,
this old gentleman strokin' his beard, he said, "Son, I hate
for you to be disappointed. I'll tell you what I'll do.
I'll give you my committee to be clerk, but you'll have to
get two more committees. Now you go to Senator Rouse and
tell him that you've got to have his committee. You make
him promise you his committee, and that'll give you two
out of the three. Then you just get one more committee, and
you'll have your job."
Well, I thanked him, and I proceeded on that line, and
I got the job. I was a committee clerk in the state senate
in 1903. Well that was more money than I'd ever made in my
P: Jennings [William S. Jennings] was governor then, wasn't he?
G: That's right. Jennings was governor.
I made good money. I got five dollars a day--that was
more money than I'd ever made in my life--for that whole
session, for sixty days. So that year--1903--I paid up my
debts, I got married, and I had enough money left over for
P: Now, you got married to a girl from Bartow, didn't you?
G: That's right.
P: You had met her there when you were a cadet?
G: That's right.
P: What was her name?
G: Grace Mullins. This book, My Story, was dedicated to my
wife: "In the memory of my wife, Grace, who was my first
life partner for more than fifty years, and without whose
sympathetic help and understanding I would not have been
able to climb the sometimes steep pathway that led into the
P: That's a nice dedication.
G: Well, every word of that's so. She demonstrated it on many
occasions. If we got in an argument about a little thing
and she didn't want to do it, all I had to say was, "Well,
it'll help me politically."
She'd say, "Well, I'll try it; I'll do my best." She'd
do that every time, and that happened when the governor and
his wife come over to see us one night and told us they wanted
us to go live in the mansion with 'em...just to be part of
P: That was Park Trammell [governor 1913-1917]?
G: Park Trammell and his first wife, Virginia [Darby] Trammell. Park
Trammell told us what they come up for: "We want you to go out to
the mansion and live in the mansion with us just as family." The
new mansion is right on the .site of the old one. It's right across
Brevard Street. It was the only house north of Brevard Street.
Brevard Street was the northern city limits. Now it's built up
for a mile. Tallahassee then had about 3,000 people; it's got
Well, in other words, what I'm trying' to bring out is
that that's why he wanted us to be in the mansion, so that
when he had to go down the state, or go :to Washington, or
go somewhere on business, there'd be somebody there with
his wife, and she wouldn't be alone. That's what he wanted.
So when they left that night, the first thing Grace said...
she said: "We're not going to do anything of the sort."
I said, "Well, why, Grace? What's the matter?"
She says--this is her exact reply--she says, "Who ever
heard of two women living under the same roof for four years
and getting' along?"
I said, "Well, Grace, you know Mrs. Trammell very well.
She's a member of the Baptist church, and your father was a
Baptist minister. And besides, think of what a wonderful
opportunity it would be for me politically."
She said, "oh, well if you think so I'll try it."
And she and I agreed at the end of the four years that it
had been a perfect experience. Nothing, not a single event
of any consequence, had ever come between us. Everything was
just as smooth as it could be. Smoother than if it was the
P: Mr. Gray, how did you get acquainted with Park Trammell?
How did that start?
G: When he was in the [Florida] House of Representatives, I
was a clerk in the House of Representatives. I omitted that.
I told you about bein' a clerk in the senate. I was also an
elected clerk in the House of Representatives. I ran for
that and was elected.
P: Um-um. Was that during Broward's [Napolean Bonaparte Broward,
governor 1905-1909] administration?
G: Well, in 1909 Broward was...Broward went out that year.
P: Gilchrist was in then. [Albert W. Gilchrist, governor 1909-1913]
Did you know Governor Broward?
G: Oh, very well, indeed.
P: Did you like him?
G: Yeah. At first I belonged to a group that was agin' him,
so we were trying' to find every reason why he shouldn't be
governor. But I found out later that he was all right, that
he was really my kind of a governor, and I told him. I said,
"I wish I'd a' found out earlier 'bout the kind of man you
P: They were the first family to live in the mansion.
G: Yep. Broward was. I have a good little story I can tell
you about that old mansion and the new mansion sometime.
Maybe I better start that today. Naturally I was a young
man, and Broward was a middle-aged man. And naturally I
didn't associate on those levels in those days. But it's,
it's a long story, and I wanted to get started on it today.
About that time I had just finished serving...well, 1909 was
when I was a clerk in the house; 1911 I was a member of the
house, and Gilchrist was governor.
P: You got along well with Gilchrist?
G: Yeah, we got along fine. He vetoed one of my bills, and I
lacked one vote of putting' it over the veto. A few days
later I had another pet bill...I was fighting' for my life
in that. He sent for me. When I walked in his office, I
said, "Governor, you send for me?"
He looked up. "Yes, yes," he said, "Gray, are you mad
I said, "Well, no, Governor. Why should I be mad with
Said, "I vetoed your bill the other day."
I said, "Well, are you mad with me?"
He said, "Why, no. Why should I be mad with you?"
I said, "I tried my darndest to put it over your veto.
I lacked one vote of doin' it."
"Well," he said, "that was your constitutional privilege.
I don't blame you a minute."
P: He was a fair man.
G: Gilchrist was a very fair man. And he says, "I see you've
got another bill up there."--what I called my "legal tech-
nicality bill." Several of the supreme court call it the
"harmless error doctrine." Still on the statute books.
Never has been changed.
P: What does he call it? What kind of bill?
G: "Legal techincality."
P: Still on the books?
G: Still on the books. I asked Judge Whigindon of the appellate
court if they ever use it. He says, "Yes. We use it more
than any other bill. We dismiss a lot of cases, a lot of
cases. Just to name that...we just name that bill."
P: Well, let's get to Trammell now. When did you get to know
G: He was a member of the house in 1904 from Lakeland. Then he
was a member of the Florida Senate in 1905, and president of
the senate. Then he was attorney-general. Then he was gover-
nor. The he was United States senator.
P: You liked Trammell, didn't you?
G: Well, he appointed me as his secretary when he was governor
without my saying a single word about it, or without my even
hinting. I was in Key West as a witness. I was assistant
state auditor. I had taken a county official to show him
down there, and I was down there for court. I got a telegram
from Trammell: "Will you accept my secretaryship?"
I wired him, "The matter is entirely in your hands.
I'll be guided by your wishes." I got a second telegram from
him: "Come to Tallahassee at once."
The reason for the hurry was Talbot Whitfield had been
Gilchrist's secretary. Judge J. B. Whitfield, Talbot's half-
brother, was the most consummate politician I ever knew, and
yet he was constantly denying the fact that he was a politi-
cian: "I'm no politician. I'm no politician. No I couldn't
do that. I couldn't do that." But he's the most consummate
politician I ever saw. Well, he got a member of the supreme
court retired and moved back to Tampa, where he belonged.
Judge Whitfield had just been appointed to the court. He
got Talbot elected clerk of the supreme court. The clerk
of the supreme court made more than the governor did at that
time. Now, I mention that just to let you know why Talbot
left the governor's office right then. He went right to the
court that very day that he was elected.
P: Leaving a vacancy that had to be filled?
G: Yeah. Well, the clerk was paid a fee; he got a fee of every
case filed. It was an open secret here in town, especially
all of us that was connected with the state, that the clerk
of the supreme court got more than the supreme court justices
did...more than the governor did. He got about $15,000 a
year, and the governor made about $4,000 or $5,000 then.
P: So Trammell then offered you the position as his secretary.
G: That's right. I came back and went right to work in his office.
P: But you and he had been friends for several years before that?
G: Yes, yeah. And I knew his brother Worth very well indeed.
They were both in the house together.
P: You were on first-name terms with Park Trammell?
G: Yeah. Except I always called him "Governor." I did that as
respect to him. Even after he was the United States senator,
I'd call him "Governor." I'd forget sometimes and call him
"Governor," instead of "Senator." But he was just as good
to me as a man could ever be. You couldn't imagine a man
bein' any better to me.
P: Why don't you think Park Trammell is better known in Florida
history than he is? You don't hear much about him.
G: Well, I told you one real reason earlier today. The press...
those men are all dead now, there's none of 'em alive...the
press was not fair to Trammell.
G: They just ignored him...they preferred to do all their compli-
mentin' to Fletcher. [Senator Duncan U. Fletcher]
P: But Trammell was a good governor?
G: He was never defeated for any office. He won every office
he ever ran for, and he broke some records. For instance,
when he was elected United States senator as governor, at the
end of his governorship--no governor had ever been elected
senator before, but he was.
P: What were your duties as secretary to the governor?
G: Well, my main duty...I'd have a bunch of notary public's
blanks, you know, blank commissions that I...I could imitate
P: So you signed the...?
G: He said, "You sign those notaries." And I signed hundreds
of 'em with the name Park Trammell on there. And he couldn't
have told it himself. He couldn't have told the difference
between our signatures.
I did the same thing when I was in the comptroller's
office with Ernest Amos. He let me handle all the mail of
the office except whatever I thought ought to come to his
personal attention. There was a banker up here one day--
you know, the comptroller has charge of the banks--and they
were talking' about me signing' letters. The banker said to
Ernest Amos, "Well, Amos, how are we to know whether you
signed a letter or Gray signed it?"
Ernest Amos said, "Well, I'll tell you," he said. "You
look at it right close, and if you make up your mind that I
signed it, then you'll know that Gray signed it!"
P: Did you write any of Trammell's speeches?
G: I'd help him on it, and I'd help him draw bills. Back in
those days, instead of the governor depending on an open
speech to both houses of the legislature as they do now--
they call it a joint session, you know--instead of his
making' a speech to them, he just prepared his bills in ad-
vance. I helped Trammell word and write on a typewriter his
program for the legislature. Sixty-five bills, and I wrote
most of 'em.
P: Did you play any role at all in the 1912 campaign? Did you
go out and make speeches for Trammell?
G: Yes, but mainly I was supporting the treasurer, John Luning.
The comptroller, A. Church Croom, from South Florida, was
down there making' a speech one day. He had a heart attack,
and he dropped dead making' his speech. A week later the
commissioner of agriculture, B. C. McLin, was down there
making' a speech. He dropped dead. So within one week's
time there were two vacancies in the cabinet, comptroller
and [commissioner of agriculture]. Well, whoever was gover-
nor, I guess it was Gilchrist [Albert W. Gilchrist], he says...
Judge Whitfield [James B. Whitfield] was a close friend of
John C. Luning. And we younger men would be out in the hall-
way, and we'd see Judge Whitfield and John Luning and Mr.
Knott [William V. Knott, treasurer] going in the governor's
office. We'd turn around and look at each other, and we'd
say, "Boys, something or other is brewing. The 'three muske-
teers' are going in to see the governor."
Well, Mr. Luning was applying for comptroller. W. A.
McRae was appointed commissioner of agriculture. Gilchrist
said to Luning, "I tell you what I'll do. I want an experi-
enced man to be comptroller. I'll appoint Knott." And he'd
just been treasurer for a week. "I'll appoint him as comp-
troller, and that means a vacancy in the treasurer's office.
I'll appoint you treasurer." And he did. [In 1912, the
comptroller, A. C. Croom, died. He was replaced by W. V. Knott,
the treasurer; J. C. Luning became treasurer, and Luning's
post as commissioner of agriculture was given to W. A. McRae.]
In the meantime, Knott had offered me a job in his office.
I was insurance clerk. I handled every bit of the work of
the insurance department. Didn't have any typewriters. I
used a great big old open ledger, pen and ink...kept the
Mr. Knott called me in one day. He says, "I haven't
got but one vacancy in the comptroller's office. I can't
take anybody but you. You're the only one that's had ex-
perience. I want you to go with me to the comptroller's
I said, "All right, I'll be thankful for the job." He
had increased my pay just a little bit, not much, but a little
Luning had a number of characteristics. When I went in
to tell Luning about it...little bit of increase for me. He'd
run his hand in his pocket, right hand pocket. That was one
of his characteristics: "I'll pay you out of my own pocket.
I thought Will Knott was my friend."
I said, "Yeah, he is your friend."
"No, he isn't--takin' you away from me. You're the only
man in the treasurer's office that ever has been in politics.
I was depending on you to help me in my campaign."
Well, I went over to talk to Mr. Knott about it. I said,
"I don't want to be the cause of you and Luning falling out.
You're supposed to be good friends." I said, "He's mad about
Mr. Knott said, "Well, tell you what I'll do. I'll hold
it open for you till after the primary. You go ahead and stay
in there and help him out. Make speeches for him, and when-
ever the primary's over, you come on over and I'll give you
that job. I'll hold it open for you."
I went back and told Luning that. Luning run his hands
in his right pocket again. "I'll pay you the difference out
of my pocket. How much more is he going to pay you?"
I said, "The difference between $100 a month and, and,
Luning says, "I'll pay you the difference."
I says, "No, you won't." I said, "Nobody can pay me a
dime. I'm doin' this for you."
He said, "All right, all right. Tell you what I'll do."
He said, "You take the North and West Florida counties."
(I lived in Live Oak at that time.) "You take everything
from the Suwanee River west, and I'll go to South Florida."
Says, "I don't really expect to carry 'em anyhow." Told me
that. Said, "I'donr't expect to carry 'em anyhow. I'll go to
South Florida where the vote is, and I'll get enough there
to make up the difference."
Well, he couldn't have said anything that put me more
on my mettle. I never campaigned harder for a man in my
life than I did for John Luning. I campaigned awful hard
for him. I made speech after speech all through the North and
West Florida. I went into every precinct, and I'd make
speeches, and after I'd come down off the platform, an
old farmer had come to me and said, "I want to vote for that
man that you're working' fer, what's his name--Loody, Loony?"
I said, "No, his name is Luning. Here's his card; take
his card." I bet that happened forty times.
Well, Luning was nominated in the primary over three
good strong opponents--there were three of 'em running, all
three of 'em were good strong opponents--by 400 votes. I
went down to the secretary of state's office, to the elec-
tions division, and I told 'em I wanted to get the county-by-
county vote, and they gave it to me. I put 'em two parallel
columns--the ones that I campaigned, and the ones that Luning
campaigned. The ones that I campaigned gave him, I said, 400
majority; it was 150 majority--closer than I mentioned. The
counties that I campaigned gave him 400 majority. The counties
that he campaigned lacked 250 of bein' a majority.
P: Good thing he had you on his side.
G: I took 'em in and showed him. I said, "Mr. Luning, I want
to show you something." I said, "Do you remember when I pro-
mised you that I'd stay with you, and help you during the
campaign? You said that you didn't expect to carry my counties
anyway." He never said a word; he didn't open his mouth.
Looked down like that. I said, "Here's what happened. My
counties put you in. You were nominated over the other three
by a majority." And I said, "You can sit right here for
your stuff. My counties did it for you." He never said a
word. He didn't even open his mouth.
P: I want to ask you about the 1916 campaign, the one Trammell
was elected to the United States senate, and Sidney J. Catts
was involved. Tell me about that campaign.
G: Well, I supported Trammell of course. But my main business
was to try to get Luning nominated, and I did.
P: In 1916?
P: So you were supporting Trammell; he was running for the
senate against Nathan P. Bryan.
G: Yeah. That's right. No United States senator had ever been
denied his second term. Nathan P. Bryan had only served one
term. Nothing against him.
P: He was a good man.
G: He was a good man. He was a strong man. Trammell didn't
attack him at all. Trammell was just talking about himself.
P: Did the Catholic issue come up in the senate campaign? I
know Catts made it an issue in the governor's race.
G: Yeah. It probably had just a little reverberations because of
Catts; not because of Trammell, but because of Catts. All of
us who were supporting Trammell, we called him a "progressive."
We didn't have the classification of liberals and conservatives
in those days. But we called him a progressive, and a "people's
P: Well, he was a progressive.
G: Yeah, he was a progressive. And we called him a people's
man. So whenever the subject would come up, we'd say, "Well,
remember, Trammell's a people's man. He's a progressive."
And that's where he got his vote. He had a lot of friends
over the state.
P: He was a popular governor, wasn't he?
G: Yes. Yeah.
P: Did you know Sidney J. Catts?
G: Yes. He was gonna fire me. I was state auditor when he
come in. He was gonna fire me.
G: Because...well, there's only one little incident that ever
happened between us. One day, a little paper come out, 'bout
the size of this magazine, and right on the front page it
had Sidney J. Catt's picture. And underneath it, he says,
"I certify that Park Trammell treated me cruel when I went
into the governor's office." And he signed it Sidney J. Catts.
The next day, the newspaper men all come to the governor's
office askin' me, "What do you got to say about this?"
I said, "Well, I'll let Governor Trammell answer it."
And I tried all day to locate him. He was in Escambia County,
way out next to the Alabama line making' the speeches in the
woods. He made a lot of speeches himself and all. So I
tried all day, and I never reached him.
I told several newspaper men, "Now, if I can't reach
him, this thing ought to be answered, and I'll answer it.
I'll give it my own version if I can't reach Trammell. But,
I said, "If I can reach him, why, he'll make the statement."
Well, I didn't reach Trammell. So I gave the newspaper people
an answer to that ad. I said, "Trammell never treated anybody
cruel in his life. That isn't true."
Catts got awfully mad about it. You see, he was running
for governor. He was not running against Trammell at all, but
there he was, reaching' out meddling in the Trammell race.
P: And he was running' against Knott for governor, Catts was.
G: Yeah, Catts was. And Knott got the Democratic nomination,
but it didn't do him any good. Catts got the Prohibitionists
to nominate him, and he went out into the woods, and he says...
all over Florida he said, "They've stole the election from
me. I've been robbed of the nomination." And the people
P: He defeated a good man, too. Knott was a good man.
G: Knott was a good man. Naturally I voted for Knott, 'cause
I'd worked in his office. I knew what kind of man he was.
P: 'Course, Catts made a pretty good governor after he got in.
G: Except he'd ask you to do things that I wouldn't do. The
thing that finally broke us--that was the open break between
us and caused me to write Trammell, who was holding a secretary-
ship open for me--that caused me to write him a letter...
Catts called me down to his office one day. I was the state
auditor at the time. I'd been appointed to succeed Ernest
Amos. Ernest Amos had been elected comptroller. He called
me into his office; he says, "They tell me that the state
auditor, or the assistant auditor, has to investigate county
I said, "Yes, that's the rule."
He says, "I want you to go down to Jacksonville and in-
vestigate Lonny Howell. I'm gonna remove him from office."
Inthe same breath that he told me what he wanted me to do,
he says, "I'm gonna remove him forward." Well....
P: What was Lonny Howell then--sheriff?
G: No, he was solicitor of the criminal court of record.
P: Mr. Gray, go back and tell me if you will about pickin' up
Hodges on the train.
G: Mr. J. B. Hodges got on the train at Lake City, and came over
and sat by me in the Pullman. He says, "I see that you're
on your way to Jacksonville to investigate Lonny Howell."
I said, "How did you know it?"
He said, "Catts told me." He said, "Do you know Fred
I said, "Yes, I knew him quite well in Live Oak. He
was a good friend of mine."
He says, "Well, we're goin' to Fred Butler's office
first. I'm to prosecute the case." Well, we had never had
an experience of anybody prosecution He said, "I'm to pro-
secute the case."
P: You hadn't even started the investigation yet?
G: No, and he says, "Fred Butler will have the subpoenas all
made out for you. All you have to do is sign 'em, and he'll
turn 'em over to sheriff to sign, to serve,"
So I went to Fred Butler's office. Fred Butler had a
stack of subpoenas 'bout six or eight inches high. He shoved
'em across his desk to me to sign. I looked at 'em; I shoved
'em back to him; I said, "I won't sign these."
He said, "Why?"
I said, "Most every one of 'em are policemen. Nobody
could interrogate thirty-five policemen in one morning, and
you have made 'em all.returnable at nine o'clock in the morn-
ing. I won't sign 'em."
He said, "Well, what do you want me to do?"
I said, "You make about a third of 'em, or a fourth of
'em, returnable at nine o'clock in the morning, then about
a fourth of 'em returnable at three o'clock in the afternoon,
and about a fourth of 'em nine o'clock the next morning, and
so on, and spread 'em out over about four days. Then I'll
So he turned 'em over to his stenographer and told her
what to do. Then I signed 'em. And the next morning when
I got to askin' the policemen what they knew 'bout the charges
against him, they said, "Well, I don't think the governor
had any charges against him, except that he was supposed to
be in a little game of cards with us one night, but that was
last September. Since then in November, he was re-elected
by the biggest vote that anybody ever got in Duval County."
Every one of the policemen that I interrogated, that was the
substance of their testimony. So to protect myself, I hired
the official court reporter for Duval County, and I told him,
"I want you to take every word that these witnesses say, and
I want a typewritten transcript of every word of testimony."
And he did.
When I got back to Tallahassee, I waited a day or two,
and I didn't go to the governor's office. I was waiting' on
my testimony. The governor sent for me. He said, "Have you
finished that investigation of Lonny Howell?"
I said, "Yes, sir."
He said, "When you gonna file your report?"
I said, "I'm not going to file it."
He said, "What? You're not gonna file a report? I
told you I was gonna remove Lonny Howell."
I said, "Yes, governor, but I didn't find any grounds
He said, "Well, don't you file any report; don't you
file any report. I don't want any report out of you."
I said, "All right, if that's your wishes, I won't file
Well, in a few weeks the legislature met; of course, the
senate met. A very good friend of mine who was a senator from
Live Oak, Sid Heinley came down to the office of the secretary
of state one day, and walking' around, every now and then askin'
me a guarded question. I said, "Sid, you and I have been good
friends a long time. Just come out and tell me what you want."
He said, "Well, did you recommend removal of Lonny Howell?"
I said, "No, sir."
He said, "What? You didn't recommend it?"
I said, "No, sir, I did not recommend it."
He said, "That's all I want to know out of you."
I said, "Sit down here, and I'll tell you the whole story."
"No," he said, "that's all we wanted to know. My committee
don't want to know anything except the fact that you didn't
recommend it." And he went back up there and the senate reinstated
P: Catts didn't have any use for you after that?
G: No, he didn't have any use for me. [Here there occurs a gap in
the recorded interview. Mr. Gray's narrative resumes with:]
I said, "Well, which one of those two men did you think
was better suited for it?"
So the chairman of the Board of Control wouldn't
answer my question. He said, "Y'all go ahead and select a
man. We're not having anything to do with it." He was taking
it out of our hands.
Well, at that time the vice-chairman of the Board of Control
was from Quincy. He was a lawyer from Quincy. And I knew him,
'cause that was my home county. I turned to Love, and I said,
"Mr. Love, did you go to Peabody?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Now Mr. Love, you can't tell me that y'all didn't
have any choice at all." I said, "Which one of those men did
you think was better suited?"
And he laughed. He says, "Well, y'all go ahead and select
Joe Rumble was a Florida man.
P: He had taught at the University of Florida earlier.
G: Yeah. And we didn't think that he was too well suited for
the place, but the Board of Control was trying to maneuver
us into turning down a Florida man. We realized it then.
So after a while I got Love to say it. I said, "Now, which
of those two men that you all thought was a little bit better
suited for the president?"
He said, "Doak Campbell."
I turned to Holland [Spessard L. Holland] and I said,
"I move that Doak Campbell be confirmed as president of the
university [Florida State University]." That was the end of
P: That was it. And they got a good president.
G: He stayed there sixteen years, and was supposed to be the
best president they had ever had.
P: Now, Holland was governor during the war, wasn't he?
G: Yes, yes. World War II.
P: And he was succeeded by Millard Caldwell? Did you and Mr.
Caldwell get along well together?
G: Caldwell and I got along well. He like to worked me to death,
'cause he piled a lot of work on me, but we got along fine.
P: That was a busy time for Florida, the post-war period, wasn't
G: Yeah, that was a busy time.
P: A lot of growth, a lot of progress.
G: Well, if you remember, the constitution of 1885 was in effect
at that time. And the board of state institutions, or the
constitutional board--it consisted of the governor and all the
cabinet--it had charge of all state institutions...the mental
hospital at Chattahoochee, overcrowded; the prison at Raiford,
overcrowded. All the membership of the board of state insti-
tutions had to provide additional institutions. We created
four different mental hospitals. Caldwell made me chairman
of the committee that had the prisons, the hospitals, and
the other state institutions. I'd take legislation team on.
They never would give us all we asked for for the state in-
stitutions. I'd take Caldwell's legislators over to Chatta-
hoochee. I was chairman of the committee on that particular
institution, and I'd take the committee of the legislature,
I'd take them all through the institution. Invariably when
we got in the car to come home, one of that committee would
say, "Well, I never dreamed it was such a big institution."
They had five thousand patients then.
P: Mr. Gray, do you remember the 1948 campaign? 1948 Fuller
G: Oh, I didn't take any active part in that. But he got the
cattle off the road, and the hogs off the road. That was
the biggest thing he did. [Warren got a range law passed
requiring livestock to be fenced in.]
P: He was a pretty energetic man, wasn't he?
G: Yes. I think he was very energetic.
P: Lots of rumors about his activities, too, as governor, with
all of that support that he was getting from Johnson and
G: Well, I never took any part in any crookedness in...and so
they never tried to involve me.
P: They didn't get you involved in that?
G: No, I wasn't involved in anything about it.
P: You know, one of the things I want to ask you about is how
Charley Johns got to be governor.
G: By the death of McCarty. [Daniel T. McCarty]
P: McCarty was a good solid man, wasn't he?
G: McCarty took over in January, and in February he had a heart
attack. I was still living in front of the old mansion at
the time. That afternoon, the afternoon before the legisla-
ture was to meet next day, he sent for me. I went over to
the mansion to see what he wanted. He says, "I want you to
read my message to the legislature."
I said, "Well, Governor..."
He told me, says, "I've had five doctors out here this
afternoon and examined me. They all five say, "Don't do it.
You can't stand the strain." So he said, "I've got to have
somebody read it."
I said, "Well Governor, I'll be glad to do it for you.
"But," I said, "the legislature's got something to do with that.
They, the house and senate's got to say it's all right."
He said, "I've already tended to that. You go in my
office and sit at my desk, and a committee of the house and
senate will come down there and get you. And they approve
of your reading it." So that my stories that I've got show
me addressing the legislature, reading his message. McCarty
died in September, and Johns was president of the senate, and
under oath of office as acting governor. The supreme court
said he was only acting governor, but he made a fair governor.
He wasn't very active.
P: Did he rely much on you?
G: Yes, he called on me quite frequently. Cone [Frederick P. Cone,
governor 1937-1941] called on me most frequently because he was
so much in the hospital during his whole four years.
P: Now, in 1954 LeRoy Collins ran for governor. That was the
last governor you served under--Collins?
G: Yeah, Collins was the last governor I served under. I served
under nine governors. I really served under fifteen governors.
P: But as secretary of state...?
G: I served in the cabinet of nine governors.
P: Now when did you get some opposition? 1960?
G: Well, I guess the only opposition I had was the last four
years that I served. I retired in 1961, so 1954, I guess,
was the election that an ambitious young man decided he
wanted to be secretary of state.
P: Who was this?
G: Well, I'm sorry, I can't tell you his name...
P: Well, I can find it.
G. ...but you can get it.
P: He didn't get any kind of a vote showing at all, did he?
G: I bat him 400,000 votes to 100,000. Four to one.
P: Yeah, that was a tribute to you.
G: I had many, many friends who would come to me in the office
and say, "Bob, you don't have to leave your desk."
P: That's right.
G: And I didn't. I didn't go out over the state to canvass at
all. I just put the word out that my friends said it wasn't
necessary. That's all I did.
P: Mr. Gray, as you look now at Florida, you've seen it come a
long way. Are you satisfied?
G: Yes, I'm very much satisfied. The state has been good to me.
The governors have been good to me. They worked me mighty
hard, but I was glad to do the work. I was glad that I was
able to do it, and so I have nothing in the way of regrets.
P: You like Mr. Stone [Richard B. Stone, secretary of state, 1971-
1975] don't you?
G: Yes, I think Stone is making a good secretary of state. This
will sound awful braggadocios --I heard him make a speech; he
hadn't said a word to me about making a speech. He just in-
vited me to go as his guest to this civic club. He was run-
ning for secretary of state. He says, "I want to make the
people of Florida one promise." He had me sitting at the head
table. He pointed to me; he says, "I promise the people
of Florida that I will try to be as good a secretary of
state as Bob Gray." Well, it almost startled me, and I
thought to myself if he's man enough to come out and say
that openly, I'm man enough to say that I'm for him.
Well, now..."William V. Knott and the Gubernatorial
Campaign of 1916." Wayne Flynt was the man who wrote that
article. The main part of the campaign he didn't touch on.
Now that sounds awful for me, to be a former newspaperman,
to be saying that, but that's the impression I got. He said
very little about why Catts went all around the state. And
every speech he'd make, Catts would say, "They stole the elec-
tion from me." Well, he sold the people of Florida on the
fact that his election was stolen.
Now, do you know Jack Buford?
G: Well, his father was Rivers Buford. He was at one time
attorney general. He later served as a justice of the supreme
court. He was serving on the supreme court in 1916. Flynt
never said anything about that at all. When Catts accused
Knott of stealing the election from him, Mr. Knott wasn't
very aggressive, but he took some action about it, and it
went to the Supreme Court of Florida. They had fivejustices
then. The official returns from Perry gave Knott two votes.
The Supreme Court of Florida sent Rivers Buford down there
to Perry to count those ballots. He found nineteen that
voted for Knott.
P: Something had happened to seventeen of those ballots.
G: Well, he didn't mention that. But don't quote me on it,
because I was helping Trammell to be elected United States
senator, and he won.
P: Are you satisfied now with the new constitution that Florida
G: I haven't studied it. I don't think it's any improvement at
all on the constitution of 1885. That constitution, you
know, was first adopted by the people of Florida in 1868,
right at the end of Reconstruction days. And then they re-
vised the constitution in 1885, and for many, many, years
it shaped the Florida government and the cabinet system...
note the word "system"--cabinet system--flourished under it.
They were able to do things that they have never been able
to do since. Naturally, the governors, all of them, they
looked for just a little more power, just a little more power.
So some propositions that had been under the cabinet, they
got the legislature to put it under the governor, and let
him appoint the director.
P: You feel this is bad, putting too much power in the hands
of the governor?
G: Well, I was very much against it.
P: You're a strong supporter of the cabinet system, aren't you?
G: Yes, yes.
P: Are you satisfied with the cabinet now?
G: Well, I don't know whether I'd want to go that far or not,
because I haven't yet met some of the cabinet.
P: There's some people on there you do not know?
P: Who succeeded you as secretary of state?
G: Tom Adams.
P: He's been having some problems.
G: Yeah, And the next man was Stone. Yes, Adams has been
having some trouble.
P: But he may come out of all of this all right.
G: Yeah, he might. He's very resourceful.
P: He's a very resourceful man, and he's got a good head on
his shoulders. Did you stay in close contact with Mr. Adams?
G: No, I wouldn't say that. Remember I told you yesterday, I
retired fifteen years ago. I've been to the capitol four
times in the fifteen years.
P: So unless they come to see you, you don't go to tell them
what to do and how to do it?
G: Well, I avoided that. I was afraid somebody'd say, "Well,
Bob Gray's still trying to run things up there." And that's
exactly what I didn't want said.
P: Well, you've left your imprint on this state, Mr. Gray.
G: Well, a lot of my friends have been good enough to write me
a letter to that effect.
P: They're telling the truth, too.
G: I have a letter from Governor Askew [Reuben O'D. Askew, gov-
ernor 1971-1979] in my scrapbook I could show you right now.
He wrote me on my birthday, congratulating me on my birthday
and he and he said in his letter that I'd had quite an influ-
ence on the governors of Florida. And I think that if I have,
then I'm very happy about it.
P: Do you look back on your life? Are you satisfied with the
way your life went?
G: Yes. I think I've had an eventful life, and a satisfactory
P:') So you wouldn't have changed what went on in your lifetime?
G: Well, not everything, no.
P: Are you afraid of what's happening today--all of the unrest
and all of the activities that's going on?
G: Yes, I'm afraid the people of Florida will again be misled,
and they'll go off in the wrong direction.
P: This has happened in the past?
P: What about the economics? Are you apprehensive about where
we're going now?
G: Well, not as far as I understand them, and I'm supposed to
be familiar with the economic situation. When I was auditor,
and assistant auditor, and bank examiner, and chief bank ex-
aminer, I had to deal with those problems. But we didn't
have anything that's as up to date as we have today. This
business of ecology and keeping the atmosphere and keep
water pure and so on, those problems we didn't have. We
didn't know anything about them.
P: And we didn't have as many people around as we have now.
G: No, no.
P: Maybe that's our problem. We've almost got too many people.
But as far as the government is concerned, you feel that it's
moving in the right direction.
G: Yeah, yeah. It's doing pretty good. It's done pretty well.
P: We've got a good governor now.
G: Yeah. Askew is making a good governor.
P: Did you know Claude Kirk [governor, 1967-1971]?
G: Yes, I met him, but that was all. See, he and I belonged to
different political parties.
P: Oh, yeah. I know that.
G: And as I said a while ago, I've never-voted for anything but
a Democratic ticket.
P: Other than just meeting him, you really never had any con-
tacts with Mr. Kirk, then, did you?
G: No. You see, I had already retired.
P: Oh, yes, I know that. Farris Bryant [governor, 1961-1965]
came in as you were retiring, and then Haydon Burns, [1965-
1967] and then Claude Kirk.
G: Yeah. Well, I had no close contact with Farris Bryant or
with Haydon Burns. You see, they came in after I retired.
The first trip I made to the capitol after retiring...I
was naturally familiar with the elevator on the south end
of the capitol, because the office of the secretary of state
was right across the hall from the governor's. So I went
there. I went up, and before the elevator stopped I was on
the senate floor, and I said, "Well, long as I'm here, I
just as well visit the senate." So I explained to the door-
keeper. I said, "I'm a former member of the legislature,
and under the rules I'm entitled to go in on the floor."
He recognized me. He said, "Come right in." So I went
and took a seat on the floor of the senate. After a little
while one of the senators recognized me, sitting over there
on the lounge. Now this was his language, not mine. He said,
"We have a very distinguished visitor this morning." And he
introduced me. Well, when he did, I stood up and waved my
hand, and every member of the senate stood up, every one.
Now, that's unusual.
P: Well, it was a tribute to you.
G: I said, "I'll go down now to visit the house. I started down,
and I got about halfway, and I met a lobbyist that had been
around the capitol several years. I didn't remember his
name, but I knew his face. He used to represent the corpor-
ations, and you know I had charge of the corporations. He
met me about halfway, and he says, "Now what are you up here
I said, "Not a thing in the world, not a thing." I
turned right around and come home, and I didn't go back for
P: You didn't get down to the house then?
G: No. I turned right around right there and went home. I
didn't want anybody thinking like he did that I was up there
lobbying, because I had no idea of lobbying for anything.
No, I'm very well satisfied.