Title: Ben Hill Griffin
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00005624/00001
 Material Information
Title: Ben Hill Griffin
Series Title: Ben Hill Griffin
Physical Description: Book
Publication Date: June 1, 2000
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Bibliographic ID: UF00005624
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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VP 5
Inteviewee: Ben Hill Griffin, III
Interviewer: Vernon Peeples
Date: June 1, 2000

P: This is an interview with Ben Hill Griffin, III, in Frostproof, Florida, on June 1,
2000. First, what is your full name?

G: My full name is Ben Hill Griffin, III.

P: And the name of your father?

G: His name was Ben Hill Griffin, Jr.

P: And his father?

G: Was Ben Hill Griffin. He was not Sr. He was just Ben Hill Griffin.

P: That's an interesting name, and there has to be a history behind how your family
acquired the name of Ben Hill.

G: Okay. It's a very interesting story. Part of our roots, of our heritage, go back into
Georgia. Back in some 1876 or so, there was a great senator, U. S. senator, of
Georgia. His name was Benjamin Harvey Hill. He was highly recognized because
he was a statesman. He couldn't be influenced. We all know what a statesman
is. They vote in state what they believe strongly. So, he was recognized by that.
My great-grandfather so highly admired him that the senator's name was
Benjamin Harvey Hill he picked up the first and last name, Ben Hill. His last
name was Griffin, of course, so he named my grandfather Ben Hill Griffin in
recognition of his great admiration for Benjamin Harvey Hill. It's kind of like John
Glenn. When John Glenn was the first astronaut, there were tens of thousands of
babies named John Glenn Smith, John Glenn Griffin, John Glenn Peeples, John
Glenn Gordon. That was kind of the take on that.

P: Where in Georgia was your father's family from?

G: They were more associated closer into Atlanta. I can't give you the name of the
town. Part of our bloodline goes into South Carolina. I'm not a real genealogist.
I've got some things stuck away, and I need to get it all put together because
that's important. But they even had a county in Georgia, believe it or not, just
south of Atlanta. It's called Ben Hill County, and it's named for Benjamin Harvey
Hill. I passed a school bus going to North Carolina one time, just south of Atlanta,
and the bus said Ben Hill County on it. I'd love to get a license tag out of that

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P: What caused your family to leave Georgia and to move to Florida?

G: Basically seeking better economic opportunities. My grandfather, some
connection back there attracted him to the phosphate industry of Florida. He
settled and raised his family primarily in Tiger Bay, which is just due west of Fort
Mead. He was a foreman for one of the phosphate companies. That's known as
bone valley over there, as many people know, and there's tens of thousands of
acres that have great phosphate ore. Even Peace River, which, by the way, runs
about nine miles through one of our company ranches. We call it Peace River
Ranch. There's an old grade that they built with mules and a scoop. They'd
scoop the dirt out and throw it up on the grade to build it up so they'd get through
wet times so that they could have the mules and wagons to haul the raw ore right
out of the river. Way back there, see, the river channelized and cut deep. The
phosphate was so close to the top, they would actually cut the phosphate out of
the banks of the river because the overburden had been removed by the eons.
So, they would mine the ore there, put it on wagons and haul it, and then I don't
know where it was processed. But that was many, many years ago.

P: The phosphate industry started in the Peace River Valley area about 1888. That
would be the very first.

G: That's good to know. But anyway, my grandfather settled in Tiger Bay. It has now
been mined up. But my father, before it was mined he loved history, too he
took me to the exact location of his house. Back then, the phosphate companies,
you know, they had a company store. For the workers' convenience and credit,
they could buy their groceries or whatever and put it on their tab. The company
knew they were going to be paying them, so the company was safe in being able
to get its money back. Back then, you know, thirty miles could be a long, long
buggy ride or horseback ride. So, he took me to the very spot. Of course, the
house was gone, but the old original little wire fence.... Back in those days,
Vernon I am not tell you anything you don' t know they didn't have grass
yards. They'd sweep the yards; they had dirt yards. They didn't want grass. I'll
always remember exactly where, although it's now been mined out.

P: Some of those records to the old Tiger Bay community are now at the University
of South Florida. Just thought I would mention that.

G: Really? I'd like to get that. There's a historical society in Fort Mead that has some
information on Tiger Bay. There's a good friend over there by the name of Joe
Lodhoach. He's in his seventies now, and his wife, she is very interested in the
museum. She sent me a couple of pages out of the historical document that
names who was in Tiger Bay community, and it's got the name Ben Hill Griffin in
it, and it's got one of my father's uncles, Guy Maxy. His name is in it, and several

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other names that I remember my father speaking of that were a significant part of
that community of Fort Mead and Tiger Bay. Tiger Bay was like, I guess, five or
six miles west of Fort Mead. My father was born in 1910, October 20, and it's
recorded. I've never gone back to check it, but another person that was
interested in history said that Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. was born in a hurricane. And you
know how hurricanes twist and turn and are pretty powerful. And he says that's
why Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. had all that energy to carry on through his career.

P: There was indeed a hurricane in 1910 that came through this area.

G: I'd like to know the date of that.

P: I think it was in October, but I'm not sure.

G: It may not have been the exact date, but the wind was coming or the wind had
just left.

P: I don't want to leave your father's family completely, but before we get too far...

G: Let me just mention one thing about my grandfather. He was a foreman, at that
time, was a very good job. He was a leader of that number of men or women.
That didn't satisfy him totally. Apparently, he had time on weekends. What he
would do after he lived in Tiger Bay, he would go out and buy a hundred acres
with a house, or two hundred acres. He'd fix it up, maybe live there for two or
three years, then he would think of selling it. If he got a buyer, he'd already
picked out another two or three hundred acres. So he'd buy that one, move his
family into another place. He was accumulating his investment, not hurting his
job. Eventually, he came over to Frostproof. He didn't move to Frostproof, but
he came to Frostproof south of Breedy Lake. Same lake that I now live on. I
don't have it exactly, but he bought some old two or three thousand feet of
frontage on this beautiful big lake. Breedy Lake is a big lake. It doesn't
fluctuate more than a couple of feet. Then he started buying groves.
Eventually, he moved his family to Frostproof sometime. Dad said that he
remembered his first trip to Frostproof in a buckboard. He was one year old.
That's a pretty good memory. I don't know, I can't remember when.... That's
when... my grandfather started buying groves, and then he'd build a house.
Eventually, he retired from the mining business, moved over, he had bought
some groves, had some very warm locations. That big lake, you know, warms
the groves. And he also had, as he was moving around in the Ft. Mead area,
buying and selling this property, he accumulated some cattle. So he brought his
cattle over here, and he bought some land out in what we call Barilla, which is
an unincorporated community, about seven miles as a crow flies southwest of
Frostproof, and he kept his cattle over there. That's when he got into the
ranching business. So now you know some of the history of my father, how he

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got so interested in citrus and cattle. End of story.

P: What I wanted to get in here before we got too far along, is your mother's name
and where was she from?

G: She was from Bainbridge, Georgia. Her maiden name was Laura Francis
Pierce. I knew my grandfather. He was a fine man. When I knew him, I
would say he was retired. He spent a lot of time sitting on the bench uptown
and taking up time with the kids and giving us a nickle so we could buy a little
drink or an ice cream cone. Back then, you could go to a movie for ten cents,
and you could buy a bag of popcorn for a nickle. If you kept the bag and you
wanted some more popcorn, if you brought the bag back, they'd fill it up again for
a little bit less than what the original cost was.

P: When did your mother's family move to Florida?

G: I don't have a fix on that. I do have a fix on... my father met my mother here in
Frostproof in high school. She was four years younger than he. I think dad got
married when he was twenty-one, so she was seventeen, eighteen. She's now
eighty-five, enjoying good health, she travels. My sister and her daughter lives
in England. They're missionaries, in the missionary field, and have been in that
area. They even went into the Arabic countries, he learned Arabic, which is
must be a very, very difficult language to learn. So I've been told. They didn't
do very well converting those Arabs. They converted a few of them, but it was
tough, disappointing challenge.

P: What is the date of your birth and the place of your birth?

G: Let me finish up on my mother, alright? So I don't know exactly when she got
here. I remember a story that she told as a young girl in Georgia. They were
farmers. The Pierces were farmers. I guess, cotton and peanuts and that sort
of thing. Don't know how much they had accumulated, apparently enough to
retire back into Florida. I don't think they were very wealthy, but comfortable.
They went to church one day, I'm going to guess she was ten, twelve, something
like that. They went to church, finished church, went home, when they arrived at
home, the house had burned to the ground. Everything in it. Traumatic thing
for a young girl to go through. She's very proud that they persevered. Came
back, built another house. They lost all their treasures. I don't know how
valuable they were, but they were valuable to them. So then, she must have
moved to Florida, possibly as a teenager. I should know exactly, but I don't.
Her folks lived in Frostproof, then they moved to Bradenton for awhile. I
remember going over there and my grandfather would take me to the zoo. And
I'd see the monkeys, you know, I liked the activities of the little monkeys, always
moving around you know. Then they came back to Frostproof, ended their time

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of life in Frostproof, just one block away from where I was... I was actually born in
Lake Wales Hospital. I was born and raised in Frostproof.

P: When was that?

G: That was March 3, 1942. December, January, February... three months after
Pearl Harbor. So, I was here when Pearl Harbor was, but I was not
knowledgeable of what was going on in the world.

P: What was going on in Frostproof about the time that you were born?

G: Frostproof with the big Breedy Lake, it had some commercial fishing here. And
it was saines, and it was a very bountiful harvest of fish. There was a big ice
house, I remember, right downtown. Frostproof had four banks prior to the
Depression. After the Depression, only one bank stood. That bank still stands
today. It's Citizen's Bank of Frostproof. My grandfather was one of the
original stockholders and sat on the Board of Directors. We have no stock in
Citizen's Bank. I don't know when my grandfather sold it, or maybe my father
sold it. That bank was started by two of my great-uncles on my father's side.
Their names were Guy Maxie and Lat Maxie. They were very successful
businessmen. They too, came from the phosphate area to Frostproof. That the
lineage that also ties me into South Carolina, my blood line. Frostproof only had
one bank. Lat Maxie, he became quite wealthy. I guess he started like my
father, started very poor. He ran a drag line in the phosphate industry for a
number of years. My father, my grandfather being in Frostproof and his brother
Guy, he was known as more of the... he was credited. They had a Mr.
Frostproof Day. Guy Maxie got it, Lat Maxie never got it. Although Lat Maxie at
one time owned a packing house and a small concentrate plant, which my father
later bought from Minute Maid. The Maxies sold it to Clinton Foods, Clinton
Foods sold it to Minute Maid, snow crop name. Dad sat on the board of Minute
Maid in 1957, I remember going to New York with him when I was fifteen. So
fifteen in '42. Maybe I was thirteen. I went to a board meeting. Public
company board meeting. Man, that was big time for a little fellow. I remember
he took me down to Rockefeller Center. It was so cold, so it had to be
December, January. The blood vessels in my nose burst, and I had a bloody
nose until I could get back to the hotel. You know, it wasn't bleeding profusely
or anything. I was quite taken with Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center,
Grand Central Park. Sitting in that boardroom with all those important men and
women. I guess you might say that was my first entry into extended business
world, other than my father's corporate business world.

P: Do you know about what time your grandfather started in the citrus business.

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G: Yes sir, I can give you a note on that. Dad remembers riding from Ft. Mead, or
Tiger Bay to Frostproof. It took him half a day, I think. That would be about...
So I would speculate that he moved to Frostproof about 1915 because he
already had land here. I think he commuted and kept his job. He probably had
a man or something to take care of his groves and that sort of thing. He didn't
have a great amount. When he passed away, I don't think he had but maybe
110 acres. At that time, if you had a five or ten acre grove, you could live well.
You weren't wealthy, but if you just had that and did the work yourself, you had a
good income. Even though fruit prices do like they do now, they go up and they
go down. You're asking me about Frostproof. So Frostproof had a fishing deal,
we had the railroad coming in, we had a little fertilizer plant. My father managed
that fertilizer plant at one time. It was owned by Lat Maxie, Lat Maxie hired
him. His first job he ever had was trucking fruit. When you truck fruit, back
then, they had the wooden crates with the handles. They'd stack them about
four or five high. Then they had a little truck, they called it trucking. It's man
handled. He was paid fifteen cents an hour. So he went from fifteen cents an
hour trucking fruit in a packing house which was hard labor, hot, there wasn't any
air conditioning back then. I don't even think they had fans. He went from that
job, he managed the fertilizer company. Back then, the fertilizer would come in
on the rail in two hundred pound bags. Unloaded in the fertilizer plant, they
would mix it up to the grower's specifications. So much nitrogen, potash, etc,
MPK, minor elements. And then they'd sell it primarily to grove owners. I don't
think much went on with cattle pasturing. I don't think they much improved
pasture back then. I'm sure an order today, somebody could come in and say, I
want twenty-two tons. Back then, I imagine it was several hundred pound of this
mix and several hundred pounds of that. Dad was managing that business and
he would sell it. There's a story about my father on selling. He had been
working to try to get this man's business for years. One of my father's
characteristics, he's very persevering. He kept calling on the man and trying
every way he could to be nice to him and try to get his business. He liked the
man, and the man liked him, but he's buying his fertilizer from somebody else.
Dad couldn't believe why he couldn't sell to him. Finally, after three or four
years, he said, young man, I want to give you an order, and here's what I want.
And he started going through, he wanted a certain amount of this mix, certain
amount of that mix, certain amount of this mix. Dad said, sir, can I borrow your
pencil. The man, dad said, just blew up. He wasn't mad at him. He said,
young man, let me tell you something. You think you're a salesman and you
walk in, you've been working on me for three years and you walk in my office for
my business, and I'm ready to give it to you and you don't even have a pencil to
take down my order. Now why would want to entrust my business to you?
Daddy was embarrassed, the man was trying to teach him. Trying to help him.
Dad said, from that moment on, I carried a pen or a pencil with me everywhere I
went whether I was selling or whether I was in church. I had a pencil in case I
needed to make a note. My dad learned this and he'd write it down on a little

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piece of paper and he'd stick it in his pocket, next to where he kept his knife.
This is a fruit knife, it's got a long blade on it, and every citrus grower that's worth
a darn has got one of these because you can never inspect fruit just by looking at
its outside. You must cut it. Smell it, look at it, use all your knowledge to
determine that. Finally, you put your tongue in there just to lick it, the taste, to
see if it's sweet, close to maturity, whatever. My dad says, don't ever come in to
me about a crop of fruit until you tell me you have cut it as well as look at
everything else. There's an old saying that I learned from my father. I don't
know whether it originated with him or not, it may have. It goes like this, it could
apply to ladies as well. They say, if somebody says, have you got your knife?
Let me tell you something, I've got my britches on, don't I? That meant when he
put his britches on, that knife was with him. There's a lot of funny stories.

P: That's a great story. I'm delighted that you included that.

G: There's a pencil story there and there's a knife story there. And my father
wanted to make sure I understood both of them so I could learn it quick, not have
to wait for somebody else to teach me. He was a great teacher.

P: Your parents were married in 1933.

G: I would say that would be accurate. I don't recall the date obviously. But he
was born in 1910, so he would have been about twenty-three years old. So that
would be about right. He graduated from high school, he went to New York in
the produce business. Selling beans and so forth. Had a wonderful education.
He finally got a job up there and was selling commodities, beans or peas or some
kind of vegetables. He tells this story that he had these beans and he couldn't
sell them and it was his responsibility. So he had this bright idea to wire
Frostproof and see what beans were selling for in Frostproof. I don't know who
he wired, maybe his father. The wire came back, and it simply said, no beans in
Frostproof. So he gets a truck, loads it up with the beans he couldn't sell up
there, and he took off for Florida. Man, he had a real opportunity to make some
money on those beans. What he didn't calculate...I don't know how many days
it took to get from New York from Frostproof, and I don't know the time of the
year, but when he got to Frostproof, the beans had wilted pretty bad to the point
where I don't think I want to buy those. He ended up losing the whole load of
beans. He told me, he said, I had to get the truck back there. I guess he rode
the train back. He said, I knew I wasn't meant to be in New York in the produce
business. He learned another lesson. Life is full of lessons if you'll pay

P: Where did your parents live when they were first married?

G: They lived in a very small house. Dad took me to the house one time. It was in

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Frostproof. It was not on any main fairway, it had less value. Probably like a
two bedroom.

[End of side A1]

G: Living room, kitchen, I would imagine one bathroom. They did have indoor
plumbing. But they were not making much money. I'm sure my grandfather
helped them some because he had accumulated a nice estate at that time.
When he passed away, my grandfather had about 110 acres of grove and he
owned some pasture land out in Barilla and had him a small bunch of cattle. He
actually had a log cabin out in Barilla. The log cabin we lost. I remember it
because we used to spend Thanksgiving out there when I was a kid. My father
and all of his children would meet up with his three sisters. Dad had three
sisters which have all passed away, by the way. The last one lived to be in her
90's. Naomi Dream. We would gather out there and stay the Thanksgiving. I
don't know how all those people could sleep, but it happened. Thanksgiving we
had a tradition. We loved to bird hunt back in those days, quail, quail hunt.
They walked back then. They didn't ride these nice buggies and all like we do
today. They walked, so they got good exercise, and they had great dogs. They
probably found more birds because they walked rather than being in a big old
hunting buggy with high powered bird dogs running around out there, and you
pass more cubbies than you find. The system that was used back then, they'd
get up real early, before the crack of dawn. The men would spot themselves a
mile apart. Of course, they were hunting on my grandfather's land. He didn't
have much, but back then, it was an open range. Cattle were... there were very
few fences. Do you recall what governor in the state of Florida is credited with
putting fences...?

P: Fuller Warren.

G: Absolutely. 1950, I believe it was. I remember meeting Fuller Warren. I had
to be eight years old, in Frostproof. I went with my dad. He said, I want you to
meet the next governor of the state of Florida. That was my first step into
politics. Not that I've ever been elected. I have been appointed by the
governor, Governor Bob Graham to about six years on the Florida Citrus
Commission, which I was vice-chairman of from the get-go. I was chairman for
my last two years of service to the state and to the Florida citrus industry in that
position. I met Governor Fuller Warren then. Great orator, gosh, he could
speak and with passion. Back then, cattle were roaming everywhere, cars were
going faster. And it was a great law, but it caused great concern. By this time,
by 1950, see, my father bought piece of the ranch, about 16,000 acres. It's still
in the family corporation today. It's known as Peace River. Dad had bought
that in 1941 just before the war broke out. He learned about that Pearl Harbor.
He had been to Peace River Ranch to check on his cattle and check on his

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foreman. It was a Sunday, and that tells you something about what my father
did on weekends. He would work with his cattle, which gave him great peace
because he liked to see them eat. He says, son, there's not much difference
between a cow and an orange tree. The orange tree stays in one place and the
cows will move around, but they all need taking care of. I don't know how he
ever came up with that comparison, but he did. So he had left Peace River
Ranch and was going through Zaphill Springs. Of course, back then, you kind
of knew everybody. This man he knew on the side of the road flagged him
down. Have you heard the news? Have you heard the news? Dad said, what
news? The Japs have just bombed Pearl Harbor. Of course, that sent out
great concern throughout our nation and throughout Florida and throughout him.
See, in 1941, he had three daughters and I was to be born three months later, so
he had four children. He never went to the service. In '41, he was thirty-one
years old. I guess that was kind of considered a little bit old back in World War II
days. But he served the war effort by selling cattle. By that time, he had his
own fresh fruit packing house. So he sold oranges and grapefruit to the
government. That was considered being a part of service to our country during
World War II. As a matter of fact, they're building a memorial to the World War II
those who served in the service and those who were recognized as contributing
to the ultimate victory. And it's a $50,000,000 project. Maybe it's a
$100,000,000 project. It's going to be built in Washington. They've got about
$97,000,000. I just learned of this two weeks ago. If you qualify, and it has to
be approved, if you qualify, then you can have your name on that memorial.
And I'm going to qualify. I'm going to give as much as I can because those are
the men and women that provide us the freedom we enjoy today, if we don't give
it away.

P: Let me go back again, when your parents were married in 1933, that was
probably as low a point as there was in the economic depression of the 1930's.
I have read where your grandfather gave your father a ten acre grove. Is that
still in the family?

G: Absolutely. It's known as the Anderson Grove and it is owned by myself and my
four sisters in a small family corporation. A separate corporation known as
Griffin Groves, Inc. That is a separate individual family versus Ben Hill Griffin,
Inc. which is a family-owned private corporation that primarily the stockholders
are me and my four sisters. However, there are two or three stockholders in
there for various reasons, we get along fine with those stockholders and they
think we do a good job.

P: I'm sure that ten acres is a prize possession.

G: Absolutely. I remember as a young man, my father had this black man, his
name was Hilliard, he lived in a small little wood one-room house. Kind of like

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New Orleans, when they called it a shotgun house. You know what a shotgun
house is? You open the door and shot and it just cleans the whole house out.
That house was about this long and it had a couple of windows in it, and it had a
very short wooden front porch. This man's name was Hilliard, he was in an
accident as a young man and he'd lost all but two fingers on one hand. He had
crippled himself in his foot, I don't think he had but about a half of a foot. But he
was a hard worker. Dad loved Hilliard. I would go with him and we would go to
Hilliard's house. He was a bachelor at that time. I don't know if he had been
married before, but he was a man alone. Dad would go and stop in and visit
with Hilliard. I've seen him pass a bill or two to him, you know, ask him how he
was getting along. Of course, he was paying him, but he'd always say here's a
little something extra, you know. Check on him, see if he needed something.
He kept working for dad. This man, Hilliard, by himself, cleared a forty acre
piece of land that now is still in this family corporation, by himself, with hoe and
axe. And it had heavy palmettos on it. I'm sure it had some pine stumps on it.
Dad told me, he said, Hilliard did that. One of the finest pieces of citrus land, still
has a excellent grove on it, that my father planted. That grove is still alive, still
producing fruit, still making a profit. But we'd stop by Hilliard's house, go in, visit
with him, not long, fifteen, twenty minutes. I was just tidying along with my dad, I
was probably six, seven, eight years old. He'd take me. When he asked me to
go with him, he said, do you want to ride with me for awhile? I don't care if I was
planning on playing or whatever. I knew if I said no, he was not going to like
that. Sometimes I had to tell him no, and he didn't like it. Well, as long as he
lived, he'd call me up. Well, I was working for him. He said, you want to ride
with me today? Yes sir. High school, you want to ride with me today?
Saturday? Oh my gosh, I was in football. I was the captain of the football team
and all that stuff. Did you know that I was... I'm a little man, but we played Ft.
Mead. This would be about 1958 or '59. Tom McCuen attended that game. I
was a linebacker. That was my strength. I was linebacker and center.
Frostproof didn't have but about fifteen different boys for a team so you had to
play both ways, most of us. I played both ways all my football career except one
time, I was playing Arcadia, and I got my jaw dislocated, so they had to take me
out of the game. Old Dr. Dunnham, who's credited with saving my life, by the
way, when I was about one year old... he was in the stands. He was always
there in case somebody needed him. Dr. Dunnham came down, manipulated
my jaw back. I got it back in order. I said, coach, let me back... I think I missed
two plays. Coach, let me back in the game. No sir, you can't go. The other
team had the ball. The equipment manager or something, Dr. Dunnham said,
get that boy a mouthpiece so he could bite on something to help him keep that
jaw in place. Because you don't want to knock it out again. Actually, as a
young man, I intimidated the coach, and I finally convinced him. He said, okay
go back in. I went back in. But that was the Arcadia game. Tom McCuen
was at a game, I guess about '58 or '59. He wrote me up and I've got it in a little

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scrapbook that Ben Hill Griffin III made 70 percent of the tackles in that game.

P: Tom McCuen, of course, is a native of Wachula and is the sports editor of the
Tampa Tribune for many years and still writes a column for the Tampa Tribune.

G: I consider him a great friend, just like I know you must. He also wrote a column
on me. I got injured in my senior year. One of the assistant coaches, by that
time, we'd built up the staff a little bit. Assistant coach was an ex-professional
football player. Big, huge man must've weighed two-thirty and 6'3" and he
wrapped. As linebacker, many times you know you have to bump off of
somebody to get to somebody else to tackle them. I was center linebacker, that
gave me flexibility to go after the ball. Just instinct, find it, find the ball. I had
bruised my forearm so bad, they had little foam pads. Then you would take a
tape, and wrap it around that. I was young and I was always fired up about
playing football. But that assistant coach, he wrapped that thing so tight on me.
I didn't realize it, and I'm sure he didn't mean to, but it cut the circulation off, or
greatly impaired it. Sometime during the game, I think it happened during the
first half. It was early in the season, maybe third or fourth game, I noticed that
my left hand was numb. I looked at it and it was as white as that styrofoam cup.
So, I took myself out of the game and I said, what's happening here? He said,
that dag-gum tape is too tight. So the assistant coach, he cut it off. It started
changing color. That was a Friday night. I don't know what game it was. Back
then, of course, my father went to every football game Florida ever had in Florida
and most of those outside of Florida, he loved the Gators so much. And I'd get it
from him, however old I was. Old enough to go to a football game and behave.
I'd go to a football game. We'd drive. It would take about three and a half
hours. We'd go to the football game, and on the way back, we'd stop in Ocala,
there was a fine restaurant there called the Brahma Restaurant. Had a big old
Brahma with a big hump on it. They had beautiful steaks, great steaks, and I
love steaks. I once went with my dad when I was about thirteen or fourteen to a
fruit and vegetable convention. Dad was a member of that because he had a
fresh fruit packing house. So he would go to that convention and meet a lot of
his customers and that sort of thing. He'd take me with him most of the time, not
every time. But we had a convention in Quebec or Montreal, Canada. Of
course, I would attend some of his meeting with him. Otherwise, I'd wander
around the hotel and try to stay out of trouble. Dad had a real good fruit year
that year. Made some good money. I said, dad, I like steak. He said, eat all
the steak you want, son. I went for about two days, breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
eating steak. Man, I loved steak. That leads me back to the Brahma
Restaurant, we'd stop there. He'd always have a carful, not cramped, but there
were four or five of us. Cars were pretty big back then. He'd pick up the bill of
course. I was in there and I was ten or something, don't recall exactly. I was
looking at this menu and I was looking for a steak. I knew what a New York strip
was, I mean a T-bone, I knew what that was. I knew that was good. What the

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name of the T-bone that the best you can get? It's got the biggest eye in it.
The eye is a small part, that's the filet mignon of your filet mignon, that comes
from a T-bone steak from. I'll think of what they refer to it as. Anyway, six or
eight bucks was a lot of money for a meal back then, but dad, he never held me
up you know. Of course, he never held any of those men that were with him.
Order what you want, I'm picking up the tab. I remember looking down at the
bottom right-hand side of that menu and it says, millionaire's steak.
Porterhouse, that's the finest T-bone you can get. It says millionaires...I didn't
know what a millionaire was, but I knew it was somebody that had some money.
Millionaire's steak. I forget what it was, but it was about twelve, fifteen dollars.
I knew what kind of steak I could get for six or eight, I could get a fine steak.
And I knew how big it was going to be, see. Dad was sitting next to me, I said,
dad, can I have this? Yeah, you can have that. Thank you, I really appreciate
it, man that must be good. I remember getting his attention is, and whispering to
him, and saying dad I know how big a six or eight dollar steak is, but this steak is
twelve or fifteen bucks. I said, does that mean, it's twice as big as all those
other steaks? Of course, it didn't. I ate it and it was very good, but there wasn't
any need to pay that kind of money. You could pay six or eight dollars and have
a fine steak, just as good, less money.

P: One question about high school football. How much did you weigh when you
played high school football?

G: I was on the program weighing 150 Ibs. 5'8" if I really stretch, you know. I went
on to be recognized. All-state, I was granted an All-state linebacker for that
year. Of course, I was too small to play college ball. I went to the University of
Florida when I graduated from high school in 1960. 1960, you recall, September
11, Hurricane Donna came through Ft. Myers, right on up the state, and zeroed
in on Ft. Mead and Frostproof. As that storm approached, my mother and father
on that Saturday, delivered me to the University of Florida. Dad, of course, was
listening to the radio, he didn't want to upset me, but he knew what was coming
and he knew where it was coming from, and he knew it was going to hit him.
And he was so greatly concerned because thirty days prior to that, he had just
bought 6,000 acres of citrus that he had to go to New York City. I was in all the
negotiations with him, see. I was eighteen years old. A man in Miami owned it,
named Sottile. He had pyramided some stuff, he had banks, he had groves, he
had a lot of things. He had pyramided it, and his pyramid started falling apart
and he had to sell. Dad bought that 6,000 acres. At that time, in 1960, there
was no bank in the state of Florida that could loan you that much money. I don't
know what he paid for it, $5000 an acre $4000 an acre. Four and six, that's
$24,000,000. I've got it in our records. I tell the story that dad bought that
acreage. Of course, it was headlines all over the state. It was the biggest deal
that had ever hit Florida citrus and Florida agriculture I guess, monetarily. He
went to New York, convinced Banker's Trust to loan him the money. He'd

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worked it all out. If he said it once, he said it a hundred times, I don't need that
calculator, forget that computer, just give me a penny pencil. He called this a
penny pencil. It's a yellow... with an eraser on the end. He said, I'll figure it out
with a penny pencil. I guess he could concentrate better or something. He had
to go to New York, he got the money. Thirty days after he closed the deal, and
he was counting on that fruit. He had a packing house, and by then he had a
small concentrate plant here in Frostproof and that was part of the reason he
bought the groves, he needed more fruit to feed his concentrate plant because
the people that were selling him fruit knew he had to have it, and they'd jack the
price up on him. So the more fruit he had, the less vulnerable he was to these
people who were trying to jack him around. And he was counting on that crop of
fruit to go in his packing house and also to go in his processing plant. So he
was vertically integrating. He owned the groves, he owned the trees, he owned
the packing house, and he owned the concentrate house. That's getting awfully
close to... if he'd bought a supermarket chain, he'd have been right at the
consumer__ Although, he served on the Winn-Dixie board. __ Davis,
JD Davis, and Pine Davis. And he was very honored with that. And that takes
me back to how he got the concentrate plant. He was on the Minute Maid
board, when Minute Maid came under strong attack. Minute Maid had about
four concentrate plant, and the government came on Minute Maid, and said
you've got too many concentrate plants, you've got to sell one. So Minute Maid
decided to sell the Frostproof plant. At that point, my father had to resign. By
that point, my father had quite a bit of stock in Minute Maid, he believe in Minute
Maid, and it was worth a considerable amount of money at that time. He said,
dadgum, that's Frostproof, I want to buy that plant. So, he had to resign and
then get in the bidding war with others who might want this plant. He bought the
plant. At that time, Minute Maid owned the processing plant. At that time,
probably ran about 2-3,000,000 boxes per year. Concentrate, you know, orange
concentrate was developed in 1950. That revolutionized the orange juice
business. That was a cinderella product that has taken this industry from
infancy to multi-billion dollar industry in the state of Florida. Well, in the House
of Representatives, I believe citrus is number two in the state of Florida economic
arena, second only to tourism. So, it's big business. So, he bought the
concentrate plant in 1957 and he had to have fruit. That take you back to
purchasing the 6,000 acres of grove. Thirty days later, Hurricane Donna comes
through. First, it hit Peace River Ranch, tore up a bunch of his pine trees.
Funny though, we did not lose any cattle. It ruined our turkeys down there. It
came through at night see, the turkeys were on the roost. Came through at
night, and it blew the turkeys out of the trees. Killed them, messed them up.
Our population of turkeys went from 100 percent to ten or fifteen percent. On
our ranch. It took a number of years to build that back up. You ought to go
hunting with me over there sometime.

P: I need to do that.

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G: Would you like to?

P: That would be fun.
G: If I forget, would you remind me when hunting season starts?

P: Alright. I'd love to go hunting with you.

G: I could show you that ranch. The grade, we call it the phosphate grades.

P: I'd love to see it.

G: I could show you some other things. We've got a place called Micco, where the
last Seminole Indian in Hardy County lives. I never did meet him. But we
called it Micco well and Micco head. That single Seminole Indian, he lived
there by himself. I don't know exactly when he died, but he lived there when my
father bought that ranch. That takes me back to the 1950's. Dad wanted to
have his fences around his cattle, and he did. But he had bought another piece
of land on the north end... all that he ever wanted to buy was just that stuff that
__, if he could afford it. He put this fence on this new purchase, and the men
that had been open grazing, they didn't like that fence, they were mean men,
they started cutting his fence. By horseback, it was about an hour, hour and a
half ride. I wasn't there, but the story goes that dad would tell his foreman,
Dilbert Low.

[End of side A2]

G: He believed in fences and he had to keep his cattle in. He didn't want other
people grazing on his land. His land was for his cattle. But they did it a couple
of times, and every time, we'd tell Dilbert, which is now 84 years old, still living.
He was foreman on that ranch since dad bought it in 1941. He was the ranch
foreman all the way through until about fifteen years ago. __ he was strong
and still pretty big foreman. When he retired, dad immediately hired him for all
salary, to help in watching over the fences, watching the cattle, rambling around
on the ranch, keeping out poachers, helping to protect our property. Dilbert did
that until this past summer. He had an ache in his hip and they advised him to
have a hip replacement at 83 years old. It did not function properly, primarily
because of his strong-mindedness. Hard headedness, if you wanted to say it
that way. He wouldn't do the rehabilitation part. It hurt him when he did the
exercises and he didn't appreciate how important that was to his total recovery.
We all know the importance of rehabilitation, if you have a hip replacement or a
knee replacement. So, his hip popped out, had to operate again, 84 year old
man. Finally, that one didn't stay because...so now, he is terribly frustrated and I

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would say, depressed, because he so much wants his hip. But I guess it's
inoperable at this age, and the condition of it is real He's apparently
never going to have a hip replacement. He's such a prideful man, he doesn't
want to get in a wheelchair, he doesn't want to get in one of these motorized
deals, go through the yard or something. He doesn't want use a walker. It's
demeaning. He could do all these things, but he doesn't. I'm afraid that he's
going downhill. He had to move from his house. He and his son had some
serious disagreements. Son actually wanted to disown him. He was__
They came back together fortunately, and I understand now... I need to call
Dilbert. By the way, I'm still paying for the program __ at the ranch. That's
all. All those years he's been __ and I'm not going to go out and kill them off.
He's not well, you know. His son lives in Zaphill Springs, they're having him
over and that's going to be perfect for him. He'll have loved ones there. He'll
be able to __ Other friends will be able to come in and assist him. So, I'm
happy for him. I hope that he'll gain back a little bit of enjoyment of life and
recognize and appreciate he's not worse. Then, we go back to the
fence. Dad and Gilbert got up at three o'clock in the morning. Dad got
communications to these men who were cutting the fence, saying he's not going
to have it or put up with it. We want to meet. The men says well, how about
five o'clock this afternoon? That he was very, very concerned about that timing.
Because these were mean men, they carried pistols strapped to the hip, they
drank White Lightening. By the way, there were several moonshine stills in
Peace River Ranch. I know where the remnants of one or two of them still are.
But they were very active when dad bought the ranch in 1941. He and Dilbert,
dad packed a pistol also. He didn't put it on his hip, but he had his pistol handy.
Didn't know what was going to happen. So they met these men, Dad and Dilbert
stayed on our side of the fence, they were on the other side of the fence. I
wasn't there, but I'm sure there was very strong male communication of language
back and forth across that fence. They were rough, tough, hard as nails, and
they couldn't accept this fence being there, because their father and their
grandfather, they had raised cattle on this __ and they didn't like that fence.
They had to come to like it. Anyway, long story short, they had this meeting. I
don't know that we ever agreed to anything. Dilbert is a big strong man, back
then he could bulldoze an 800 Ib steer, throw him to the ground. He was strong,
didn't know his strength. Man to man combat, he would have been fine. I don't
know how good he was with a pistol, although, I did see him shoot a turkey flying
with a .22 rifle, shot him in the head. Was that skill or was that luck? He had to
have a certain amount of skill.

P: Didn't matter, it was effective.

G: It was a fact, because I helped eat the turkey. Anyway, finished that story, they
parted, went their own way, guns were never drawn. From that point on, the
fence was never cut.

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P: I have read where your father sometimes rode with a rifle by his side.

G: Absolutely, yes. Back then we had lots of rattlesnakes. He carried a rifle in his
Jeep Wagoneer. I guess if he were going to take you, he'd take it out. He
particularly carried that rifle in that Wagoneer when he was on any of his
ranches. He carried it for protection. He was a great supporter of wildlife. He
even put out an edict not to kill armadillo. __ Armadillo is not indigenous to
Florida, they came from Texas or somewhere. I think they hurt the quail
population, they dig up your yard, and dig up under your foundation of your
houses. I've lifted that rule in the last ten years. I was against __ maybe I
shouldn't say that, but we shoot armadillo. Don't tell law enforcement. But he
carried a rifle for rattlesnakes. Back then, Peace River Ranch and particularly
dad's ranch and our company ranch now in Barilla, where my grandfather built
that log cabin. He had a log barn and he had a log corn crib. Back in those
days, you had your corn crop, you put it in your own corn crib for your own family
use, just like sugarcane. I got a story about sugarcane, it's a great story. The
corn crib...termites got the big house. We used to go out there and have square
dances. Old country square dances, I mean bringing the musicians, you didn't
have amplifiers and all that stuff. They had the fiddles, they had guitars, what
else did they bring up? That's how I learned to call square dances. __ a
great square dance caller. Back in those days, they would throw one at
somebody's house and invite folks to come in. Back then, you didn't have open
beer bottles or liquor bottles, they were always kept in the trunk of the vehicle.
And the women knew, but they men, they __ they'd get behind the vehicle and
have a little toddy. They always built a big open fire out there. They'd give the
old square dances in November, December, January...cool part of the year.

[Pause in the tape]

G: We were talking about Dilbert Low, and he's now got a physical handicap and he
was living alone but now his son, who lives in Zaphill has added on a room,
specifically for him to be able to help care for him and have him in a family
atmosphere, so I feel good about that. This is a man I dearly love. He's the
one who taught me about square dancing. We'd square dance out there at my
grandfather's, after he passed away, maybe they were doing it before. We'd
have a square dance at his log cabin. I guess most people would call it, that
would be a ranch house today. It had a very large, I guess you would call it a
family room or great room in today's terms. You have your dining room, no
walls, fireplace, little tiny kitchen off to the side. We'd have a bonfire, we'd have
two bonfires. Normally, you'd have these square dances in cold months of the
year, so it wouldn't be hot. You worked up a lot of energy you know, when you
square dance in the summertime. Wood floors, which are very important to
square dancing because as you square dance, you're stomping your feet and

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getting in the rhythm with the music. Grab your partner and swing. Dilbert Low
had a strong voice, and I guess over the hundreds of square dances, I learned to
learn how he called square dances. And I never wrote it down, I guess just
repetition locked it in my mind. So I can call square dances today. I don't
necessarily like the notoriety. I don't do it for that. But if there's something
going on, they're going to have country music and somebody asks me to call a
square dance, I'm going to be at the party anyway, and I'll call the square dance.
Our company has a golf tournament that my father started thirty two years ago,
called the Ben Hill Griffin Invitational. So we've had that. I enjoy country music,
George Jones is my favorite. He's got a great song out named Choices now.
Ever heard it? Let me sing you a little bit of it. I've had choices since the day
that I was born and I've heard voices that told me right from wrong. If I hadn't
listened I would be here today living and dying on the choices I've made. I was
tempted at an early age I found I liked drinking and I never turned it down. I've
had loved ones, but it all turned away. So I'm living and dying on the choices
I've made. You think about that. That's what I like about country music is the
words. Means something. George Jones has had a lot of choices, he's made
some good ones and some bad ones.

P: Most all of us have.

G: That's right. So, we go back to __ and the Hurricane Donna of 1911. __ I
believe it occurred on September 11. My mother and father took me to the
University of Florida. My father knew something bad was coming and he knew it
was going to get him. My mother got so mad. I knew the hurricane was
coming. Matter of fact, at eighteen, I was going to find me a hurricane party at
the University of Florida. You know, those students had to have a hurricane
party somewhere. They were supposed to take me to the university, I was
staying in the dorm. They were going to have the trunk and the suitcase and
take it up to my room, let my mother fuss around the bed or whatever she was
going to do. They weren't going to stay long. My dad pulled up that morning,
he got out of that car, he said, Francis, tell Ben Hill goodbye. He opened that
trunk, he put that trunk out on the sidewalk and that suitcase, came up and shook
my hand and put his arm around me and said, son, I've got to go, I'm sorry we
can't go to your room, but that hurricane's really got me worried. I said, fine dad,
I can handle it. See, he had taught me enough about business, sometimes
business and mother nature can make you have to react in certain ways. I don't
know that he could do a darn thing about the hurricane. The Lord was handling
the hurricane. He and my mother, I don't know how fast he drove. That was
back when he was in the Senate. Might have been in the House, he was in the
House first and then went in the Senate. Dad served in the legislature for
sixteen and a half years as a district... everybody knows he ran against Ruben
Askew in Ruben's second term. And I strongly advised him, don't do it. He
said, son, I'm going to do it, I think. I told him all the reasons why. My reasons.

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I though __ But he had been in the legislature, he felt like he could be
___ citizens of Florida. He had a number of people who through the years that
told him, Ben, why don't you run for governor, I'll support you. So that's what he
did. But Ruben Askew was a very popular governor, he was in his second term,
there was no way you could beat him. Dad didn't even register to run for
governor until thirty minutes before the last day to qualify. That's how late he
got in the race. Vernon Peeples and I know, when you get in the race that late,
most people have already gotten committed, particularly with a popular governor
that they want to be with the winner. Well, dad came in second. That's the
closest I can put a positive spin on that. It was a distant second. But he always
was glad that he ran for governor. He told me, from now on, if you ever ask me
to run for governor, I'd say well, dadgum it, I've offered myself one time and I
didn't make it, I'm not going to do it again. What he would have done, I don't
know but he never ran for governor again.

P: He had your mother as his Lieutenant Governor running mate. No, my father
had been divorced from my mother, that was his second wife. Her name was
Elly Fernandez. She's still doing well. Bought her a house at Lake Willis
Country Club. I see Elly Griffin. She still goes by Elly. I see her from time to
time at the country club and always go speak to her. I made a promise to my
father that... that's a sad story. He knew that he was ailing in health. He knew
that there was some dissension in the family about this second marriage
because my sisters were very much opposed to my father divorcing their mother.
There's something about mothers and daughters that's different from sons and
fathers and sons and mothers. I guess there's an old saying about children
when they get married. When your daughter marries a husband, a daughter is a
daughter for the rest of her life. A son is a son until he takes a wife. I've seen
that around. I don't think it's always the situation. I love my mother very much.
I'm glad that the Lord has granted her longevity and good health and hopefully
she will be around a long time. Right now, she sure looks like it and acts like it.
There was a rift in the family when my father divorced my mother. I don't know
why it happened. I've always taken the approach, even when my mother and
father...I don't enter into those arenas, I don't know what goes on behind closed
doors. I don't know how they grew apart. I think I know. They had five
children. My mother devoted herself to raising those five children. My father,
he had a tremendous energy and a great vision, and he was on a rocket.
Somewhere along in there, they weren't communicating. She was not, and still
is not, that attuned to business. But dad was 110 percent concentrated in his
business. They grew apart and they were divorced. They'd been married
twenty years when my father died, so they got married in '69, '68, so they had
been married a long time. As my father was weakening, he and I had a father
son talk and I committed to him that I would make sure that I watched over and
advised as much as Elly Griffin wanted me to. Not objecting to her personal
affairs, but if she wanted my advice, if she needed some help, I was there for her.

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He wanted that assurance from me because he didn't want anybody to try to
take advantage of her out of my current family, in some way, to hurt her. She
inherited some groves from my father's estate. My company manages it. She
gets the same amount of money for her fruit that I get from mine, my personal
fruit. Her groves are kept in just as great of care as mine are. As well as
everybody else's within our organization, that's the way we do things. We talk
business from time to time, she seeks my advice. Zoning deal, they want to put
in this development across from her grove and she didn't know whether to
oppose it or not, and we talked that through. My advice was, I think it will help
you more than it will hurt you. Whether she took my advice or made her own
decision... she did make her own decision, she did not oppose it. I think she
mad the right decision. So I see her from time to time and always have time to
visit with her. She just lost her son-in-law, a young man by the name of Scott
Chapman, was married to her only daughter Judy. Very sad, he had a tumor
on his brain, brain cancer. Scott was a young man, I guess he's in his thirties or
so. Don't know exactly, time gets away, you know. Fortunately, I saw them.
Elly had all of her family function at Lake Rose Country Club. Might have been
her birthday, and Scott Chapman was there, and the daughter, and she's got two
beautiful grandchildren, maybe three granddaughters. They're getting to be
young ladies now. I got to visit with Elly's family. She's a__ originally. Was
her maiden name. Got to see Scott and two weeks later, Scott passed away.

P: My understanding of the reason your father selected his wife as running mate, he
didn't like the whole concept of having an office of lieutenant governor. He was
trying to make a point.

G: Absolutely, that was one of his foundations. If he was governor, he was going to
get rid of the lieutenant governor, well they don't do anything, and it costs the
state millions of dollars to have a lieutenant governor. So he picked his wife
Elly, she was not politically inclined, but she did it to help him. She became
quite a speaker, she'd never gotten up in front of an entire club in Miami and
gave a speech, but as lieutenant governor, she's got to do some talking. That
was kind of gutsy of her, and she did a good job. __ I am too. I don't think
we need it. If we didn't have a lieutenant governor, it would move to president of
the senate, that's where it was before the constitutional revision of it. Seems
like every time we get a constitutional revision, it messes up people's lives and
costs us more. And that leads me to the constitutional revision... what was the
last constitutional revision we've had... twenty years ago. So that would be
1980. And we put the Sunshine Law in, I don't like that. It should have been
drafted and operated differently. Now, if I want to run for City Council of
Frostproof, I have got to submit my entire personal financial statement. Half the
people that read it will think that I'm worth more than what I am. They find out
I'm not worth as much. The other half will think dadgum, I didn't think he was

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worth but half that. What it does in all communities, people don't run, because
they don't want their friends and associates to know their personal finances, so
we have a hard time in Frostproof getting somebody to run, primarily for that
reason. We have to go out and hunt Councilmen. Anybody that runs for the
House of Representatives or the Senate, they have got to take that into strong
consideration. What the public can see. My father had a message. An hour
ago, mentioned the pencil and what a lesson that was. I don't guess that's
funny story, that's a true story. In the last fifteen years or twenty years of my
father's life... my father was 79 and a half years old when he passed away. But
he had weak ankles, the cartilage had pretty much worn out. I guess it was a
result of him being born in a hurricane or something. One story comes to mind,
before about 1981, in our office then, he brought my desk into his office. He
joined his desk with mine. So we were sitting kind of a L-shape. He was sitting
this way, then I was added on the end. He was facing that way, I was facing this
way. I had my responsibility, he had responsibility for everything. He wanted
me in there, he never told me this, he wanted me in there to help educate me. I
guess he got tired of telling me everything he wanted to tell me. If I was sitting
there, he wouldn't have to tell me again, waste time. Amazingly, we got along
alright. I worried about it a little bit because every time he'd get on a
conversation and I was on a conversation, it didn't matter how quietly I was
speaking, it was interrupting his conversation or concentration, he'd grab the
phone. Hang up, well dad, I'm talking to so and so, this is an important call.
Hang up, tell him you'll call him back. Yeah, Joe, what do you want? He'd go
on with his, and obviously I would hang up. __ was not as important as I
thought it was because he was the boss. The last twenty years of his life, he
loved his ranches. He wanted somebody else to drive a lot of times, he'd be the
right hand passenger and he want somebody else to drive. He had this long
time black man by the name of Randolph Hamilton who still works for us today.
I just love him to death. He and his wife, Willa Mae are just the salt of the
earth, they just do anything for you. They've been associated with our family
ever since 65 years or something. He had this other driver and of course he'd
be going to his ranches in summertime. __ Story goes, that this guy was
driving and dad started seeing these stumps. He was concerned about hitting a
stump. When you hit a stump with a Jeep, I mean, it stops you. It doesn't
matter if you are going five miles an hour. You are going to have the potential of
hurting yourself. This particular time, he was driving. The old man wasn't
driving, he was driving. He was concentrating on driving, looking at these
stumps and everything. He told that man next to him, he said, I need some
help. Dad talked with a lot of intensity sometimes. Lots of people thought he
was mad at you, but he wasn't, he was just intense. He says, help me look for
stumps, we don't want to hit a stump. They were driving along. There's one,
there's one, there's one right straight ahead. He turned and missed that stump.
He was concentrating on not hitting a stump. He got aggravated by this man a
little bit for some reason. He says, I want to tell you one thing. I want you to

VP 5
Page 21

point out the stumps I don't see. Don't you tell me about the stumps that I do
see. Do you understand me? And that was a true story. How did the man
know what stumps he saw and what stumps he didn't. That was a little short
story about my dad, kind of funny, but true...had a message. The other one was
when I was in the office with him. __ together for ten or twelve years, so I was
basically in on every conversation. Either hearing his side of it, or he'd tell me to
pick up so I could hear. There was a lot of politics, a lot of business, a lot of
banking, negotiations, trying to help people, people calling for assistance. Any
number of reasons. It was in November, maybe late October, this friend of his
calls him up. That particular time, dad was busy, busy, busy. A lot of time he
had a phone in each hand. So he got this friend on there, and he wanted to be
courteous to him, wanted to hear what he wanted to talk about. The man was in
the citrus business, they were talking fruit, nothing serious you know. Pretty
light stuff, dad was trying to get the conversation over with, it wasn't real
important. What the man really called about was, that he got into it after about
three, five minutes. Found out that the man had this long range weather
forecast for January. You know, a lot of people call you and start talking about
something else, and then they get to really what they want to talk to you about.
The man says, I just got this private long range weather forecast, and they say
we're going to have one heck of a freeze come January 20. Dad lost it, he said
what? This man said, yes sir. Ben said, dadgum, this things says it's going to
have a hard freeze on the citrus groves on January 20. He jumped right down
that man's throat. Not mean, but just to let him know what his opinion was on
this long range forecast. He said this to that man, let me tell you something. I
don't know if it's going to freeze January 20, you don't know whether it's going to
freeze January 20, that expert, he don't know if it's going to freeze January 20.
You know who knows? Only God knows, the good Lord knows when it's going
to freeze. And let me tell you something else. He haven't even made up his
mind yet. End of conversation. That was a funny thing to me. That man never
called him about a long range forecast again.

P: Let's complete it with that for this session, okay

[End of the interview]

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