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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewee: Dr. Archibald "Archie" Robertson
Interview Date: January 1, 1969
R: I do not know precisely when my father's family moved into Tallahassee.
P: They came from where?
R: They came in from Alabama, the neighborhood of Montgomery. This was typical of north
Florida migration. My mother's people were Scotch Presbyterian from North Carolina.
P: They, perhaps, originally came down from Pennsylvania into the Carolinas?
R: No, that is not the story as we have it. This was the Bannerman family, and there is a widespread
clan still clinging to Tallahassee and the neighboring country.
This may well be myth, but this is the family history as handed down. This original Bannerman--I
have his pocket Bible, incidentally--who migrated from Scotland was Charles Bannerman.
He came over in the early 1700s to North Carolina, perhaps by way of Virginia. I do not
know, and I do not have the means to check all of the sources of information of that kind.
The immediate move into north Florida, into Leon County, was from North Carolina. There
were kinfolk from my grandmother Bannerman who had stopped in Georgia. There was, I
know, both before and after the Civil War some visiting back and forth of the kind that
meant you took the stagecoach or you had your own horse and buggy or your horses and
carriage, and you drove for several days. Once there your visit was a real visit. You stayed
there for a month or six weeks. You had to to rest up and to get ready for the return journey
to make it pay off.
As I recall, those kinspeople of my grandmother's were Kerrs; they were all Scotch, you see. They
pronounced it as if it were Carr, which is, I think, just a variant. My grandfather came down
into northern Leon County on the southwest of Lake Lamonia, which is a big lake about
seven miles long, all of which runs within a mile of the Georgia line. He came down in
1832, I think it was, bought land, and settled down. Now, how he lived or what sort of
dwelling he had I do not know.
P: This was shortly after the settling of Tallahassee?
R: Well, this was about the time of the question of where the capital would be located. This was in
1824, seven or eight years after news spread of the town. We begin to pick up family
records in 1837, but that is approximately when my grandfather began keeping a
combination personal diary and plantation record.
P: Are these records still available? Do you still have them?
R: Yes, and Dr. J. D. Glunt [UF professor of history] many years ago made a typescript of the
essentials of this record for the Cape.
P: Where are these documents?
R: You mean the originals? They came to me because I bear his name. He had no middle name--he
was Charles Bannerman. The diary passed into the possession of his oldest surviving son,
George Washington Bannerman. As the oldest surviving son he inherited the home section
of the Bannerman plantation when my grandfather died in 1867. At his death it passed on to
my Aunt Mary, who was several years older than my mother and who kept it in an aged,
prewar trunk, which had gone several times to the University of Georgia in Athens. My
uncles had gone to school there after the Civil War. It came to me by a family assumption
that it was to be handed down to someone in the family with his given name. I had it and
made it available to Dr. Glunt.
My mother and her friends in Tallahassee gave him a good deal of material that he used in the study
of the plantation records of northern Florida. The Blakes, for example, are among the early
and very large landholders in the eastern part of the county. Sally Blake was an old friend of
our family, so there were many connections in which we helped him locate the material he
used. That typescript I have glanced at very hurriedly, I mean to check very carefully
against the original record just for my own satisfaction and to make sure that I am
disentangling some of the curiosities in that old, old book. Even my grandfather or people
who had access to this record have used pages of the thing. Some of the unfilled pages in the
back had all sorts of scribblings and figures. It looked like it was all sorts of household
The record, as far as the plantation is concerned and building the house, goes back to 1837. The
house still stands and is in pretty good condition because it was handed, as I said, to the
oldest surviving son. He was given that section of the plantation as his share when the
plantation was divided. Getting into very exigent circumstances along in the early 1900s, he
had to sell it, but he sold it to a nephew with another one of the common names in the family,
Robert Bannerman. He was Robert, Jr., and it is Robert's daughter who with her family lives
in that house right now. They are not very well off, but they have been trying over a period
of, say, ten or fifteen years to renovate the place little by little, making the necessary repairs.
P: So it has been in Bannerman hands right from the very beginning.
R: Yes, and indeed most of the lands in the original plantation are in the hands of someone of the
P: Where in Tallahassee is the Bannerman house?
R: This is the plantation house that we are talking about. It is about sixteen miles a little northwest
on the side of that big Lake Lamonia. The family did have a small townhouse where I know
my grandmother, with some of the children who needed to go to school, lived in the winter.
The house that my mother built in about 1906 or 1907 is on the lot that adjoins that place on
the rear, but that passed out of my grandmother's hands at the end of the century. When I
knew her, she and this aunt of mine who had taken care of the family records and handed
them on to me lived in a small house that still stands a block to the east of the old Florida
State College for Women campus. We had moved from the country, from my father's place
on the other end of Lake Lamonia, so that my older brother and my sister could have access
to the Tallahassee school. They had outgrown the one-room schoolhouse that was still
adequate for me. It had nothing left to offer to the two older children.
P: Now, your grandfather, you said, fought in the Civil War?
R: No. He was too old a man. I have his draft card record. He had to register, as I gather every
white male did, and if there were free Negroes they had to register in the same way, didn't
P: No, free Negroes did not have to register.
R: That is the only thing that I have ever seen, and this merely indicates that he was along in his
sixties by that time. There were several sons involved. The oldest surviving son, G. W.
Bannerman, who, while I was going to school in that one-room schoolhouse up at the other
end of the lake, was county superintendent of public construction for Leon County. Now, he
was the oldest of the boys, and even though he was only seventeen or eighteen he fought for
most of the war. Jackson's part of Lee's army was in a great many of the savage battles of
the 1864-1865 campaign, and he [G. W. Bannerman] was wounded and carried a Yankee
bullet in his back to his grave. It never caused him any discomfort, so there it was. There
was one other. The next son to him was a student in that funny little academy that was
located, if I remember correctly, near the administration building of what is now Florida
P: Is this West Florida Seminary?
R: It became that later. What it was called at the time these boys were students there I do not know.
P: The West Florida Seminary was established in 1857.
R: Well, my father was a student out there even earlier than that. He got to medical school at Tulane
early enough to graduate and see about two and half or more years of service at the other end
of the Confederacy. He served as long as there was a force. He rode as a surgeon with some
branch or other of [Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford] Forrest's troops. My
father was one of the Confederate officer surgeons assigned, of all places, to Andersonville
Prison. He wound up the war with a long tour there. My mother told me when I was
growing up later, long after his death--he certainly never talked to me about that--that he
remembered with such frustration and sense of tragedy the whole business. If they broke a
scapel, that was it; there was nothing to replace it. They had no medicines. They had
nothing in the way of appropriate provisions. He remembered it simply as a long stretch of
horror. He did not like to talk about it even to her.
There was one little relic of that. There is in the Robertson family Bible that my sister has in her
house in Tallahassee--one of those old-fashioned, gaudy, heavy-bound [Bibles] with a lot of
gold tooling on it--a few rather scrappy entries about births and deaths in the family,
marriage dates, and various odd things that people will stick into a book like that because
they want it kept safe. Along with pressed flowers is a curious, rather crudely done pencil
sketch that purports to represent a bird's-eye view from the hilltop of that whole stretch of
Andersonville Prison in its early stages. That was the only visible evidence of my father's
service in the Confederate army. He was born in 1840 and was older than my Bannerman
uncle who fought in the Virginia armies. He had gone to school out there [in Lake City] in
that little school before it became the state seminary.
I think that you probably would remember in more detail the history of Tallahassee, but it was a
local enterprise that was intended to provide schooling for Tallahasseeans and the country
people who wanted to see their children get better schooling. There was a good bit about it
in that manuscript that I read the year before last about the history of Tallahassee that
stopped short at 1860. Dr. W. G. Dodd up at the college at Tallahassee spent a lot of his time
on the history, and he wrote several articles that have been published. He told my sister that
he had come upon at least two records of our father as a student, both to his credit. At any
rate, out of the curious state of medical education in those days he went on from that school
to Tulane and was graduated in time to see quite a long military service.
P: Tell me about your Robertson grandfather who settled in the Tallahassee area.
R: They were physicians so far as my father's descendants were concerned. He was named for an
uncle William Fitzgerald Robertson. His own father was Archibald Freeman Ipson
Robertson. There is an Ipson family with Jefferson connections still represented in
P: Jefferson's daughter married an Ipson.
R: My father's father moved, as I said, some time back. I simply do not know other than very
vaguely, but it was pretty early, because my father was bom after the move to Tallahassee.
P: You said that he was bom in 1840?
R: Yes, February 1840. I do not remember the exact date. His father soon afterwards died. But his
father was a physician. My grandmother, not long afterwards, married his brother for whom
my father had been named.
P: So your mother married twice, to two brothers?
R: Yes. Now, the second was also a physician whose office is indicated in some of the professional
cards that physicians used to print in local newspapers. That was the orthodox thing to do.
Right after the war my father practiced for a brief time with his stepfather in that office in
Tallahassee. The last time my sister and I drove by the location of that house, the little brick
building that was their office still stood on the comer of the block that fronted what was
known when I was a child growing up in Tallahassee as the Rascal Yard. It is now the site
of that huge building, housing the state Motor Vehicle Commission. It was called the Rascal
Yard, and it was the local square for the convenience and use of the whole community,
including the country people, who would drive in there on Saturdays from all around. You
saw everything from one-ox carts to a two-mule bay wagon [type of farm wagon], and every
type of farm merchandise was for sale. The town people, the women looking for chickens,
fresh vegetables, fresh eggs, and what have you, frequented the place. It was quite a home
for that sort of thing on Saturdays. On other days you might see a traveling tax show, or a
revival. I vividly recall when I was a grammar school boy that it was the regular site for the
city fathers or somebody to set up a little temporary stand for speakers, and that was a natural
gathering place for political rallies and speeches.
P: Maybe that is where it got its name--Rascal.
R: No, I think that was a good-natured way to say that this was where the people who were more or
less at the bottom half of the social scale came to sell and buy. But it is an amusing word, is
it not, sort of picturesque. Of course, it passed out of use, and there are not many people
who would remember that it was called that.
P: Your mother and father met and married in Tallahassee?
R: No. After that period of very brief practice with his father in town, my father moved to the
northern end of the county and took lodging with family that already lived at what was a
crossroads post office called Miccosukee. That was my birth place, though it was still a post
office. When I was a small boy going to school up there, it was on the Old Coach Road from
Tallahassee to Townsville and about midway between the towns. About three-quarters of a
mile at least on the Tallahassee side of the state line there was a crossroads store. It was
unused, and he eventually bought it and made his office out of it. But for some time after he
went out there he simply rode horseback and attended to people over that whole stretch of
the northern end of the county. Even as I remember things before his death (he died when I
was nine years old) he had been too heavy to ride horseback and carry his tools and drugs
and saddlebags. But the saddlebags had been what he had got around with until he was fifty
or so, after which he drove a good solid Morgan horse and an old-fashioned buggy that
protected against rainy weather. He still practiced all the way from up in south Georgia to as
far south as the village midway between Townsville and Tallahassee, then down to
Miccosukee, way off toward Lake Lamonia, and on Lake Miccosukee off to the southwest,
which meant all down the west side of Lake Miccosukee. He was the one physician
available in all that stretch of country.
P: It is too bad he did not keep journal or a diary.
R: Well, I do not know what became of them. There are a few papers that are in my older brother's
possession. I think that my mother decided that the accounts ought to be destroyed. I know
that when my father died there were many thousands of unpaid bills, but that was a matter of
the economics of the business. I think that I remarked maybe a little cynically to you that
everybody in that part of the world was still fighting a rear guard action, and the Civil War
was still going on.
P: That is right. It certainly was.
R: When Andrew [Lytle, lecturer in English] made that remark to somebody from New England he
should have known better, but he was mystified. One day when Robert Frost was here they
had an animated conversation, and Andrew and he got together, and Frost just could not
understand what Andrew was driving at. But it was a right accurate way to sum things up.
For that matter, this university was still fighting a rear guard action, in the first quarter of the
century, at least.
P: Poor whites.
R: Well, yes, some of them. But some of them were independent small farmers who did about as
well as anybody else. Already some of the influx of northern visitors was spilling over from
Thomasville. The whole Thomasville area had been a kind of successor to the gaudy days of
St. Augustine's first fame as a place to go and enjoy the sunshine and play golf. One of the
first was at Thomasville. We used to drive past it. I remember when we went on trading
trips or other purposes to Thomasville.
P: Let me get back to asking you about your mother's and father's meeting. I presume now that this
was somewhere in the area where he had gone to practice medicine after he had left
R: My mother became a school teacher. She had gone to the Young Female Seminary in
Thomasville and was equipped to teach school. She taught for a year or two at least at a
small country school in Miccosukee. Just where they met or how, I have no recollection.
My mother was no mere chick of a girl. Let me see. I did not look up the date of their
marriage, but it would have been near 1890, when my father would have been nearly fifty
and my mother would have been a young women in her late twenties.
P: I wonder why your father waited so late in life to get married.
R: He had a lot of family cares. He was very busy with his practice and was slowly accumulating
what amounted to a fairly modest plantation that extended to 1,440 acres when he died.
Either just before his death or just afterwards we acquired a small tract that stretches up
towards the Georgia line along the old highway, which carried it to more than 1,500 acres,
all of which he had sort of glued together over a long stretch of time. That was, of course,
conducted on the old basis of forty acres and a mule or eighty acres and two mules. Cotton
rental made a fairly competent income for us as long as he was living. But he died, as so
many men did, at what would now be regarded as a fairly youthful age--sixty-five.
P: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
R: I had one older brother and one older sister. My brother was the one that I went over to Savannah
again and again recently to see in his final illness. He was buried a month ago in
Tallahassee. He was William Fitzgerald, Jr., as long as my father lived. That name he has
passed on to his son, and his son has a son that bears that name. Out of the whole family,
that son and grandson and I are the only male Robertsons. My sister still lives at the age of
P: She makes her home in Tallahassee?
R: Yes, in Tallahassee. Her name is Mary. Her married name is Mrs. William Lisman Baker, a
Kentucky name from around the Hopkinsville area. There was less pressure to supply a
middle name in the older times, but curiously the women in my family are not infrequently
better supplied than the men in that respect. My Bannerman grandmother was Elvira Anne.
I know it is dreadful. I am not sure if her family name was Kerr or not, but she was Elvira
Anne. We have silver inherited from my mother and aunt that was Grandfather and
Grandmother Bannermans', and it is initialed C.E.A.B.--Charles and Elvira Anne
P: So you had a brother who just recently passed away and a sister, Mrs. Baker, who lives in
Tallahassee, and you are the youngest of the children in the family? There were none that
died as infants or anything like that?
P: Let's get into your own childhood. Once again, tell us where you were born and when.
R: March 20, 1895, in a house that had been built across the road from where my father lived as a
young beginning doctor, saddlebagging all over that part of the country. [The house was] a
double-pen log house with hand-hewn logs and placed together and then sheathed with oak,
both outside and in, and then floored with oak. [It was] tight and snug, with the usual big
chimney places and with a wide hall. After I came down here I found that people call it a
breezeway. We never called it anything but a hall. It had a high attic. The roof was a steep
one, so it had a nice attic where I spent many a happy rainy day. It was loaded to the gills
with many castaway books and novels that had been popular in the 1880s and 1890s and just
tons of magazines. It was marvelous for a child that had any instinct for reading.
My parents' best friend, Miss Annie McQueen, lived a little below us, out of Tallahassee. She
became quite a noted local writer living in Tallahassee many years later. I dubbed her Nan
as a child, and everyone who was intimate with her tended to use that pet name. Nan was
forever pushing books into my hands. Many of them were years ahead of my age, which
was all to the good. But I spent many a rainy day--it was just perfect--up in that attic sorting
out years of old magazines and old files that had gotten into disorder, like the old Century
That was going on before I was old enough, in the judgment of my mother and father, to be allowed
to go alone to school. Meanwhile, my brother, four years and four days older than I, and my
sister, nearly three years older than I, were going to school. They were traipsing exactly a
mile along the Meridian Road, as we called it--not the highway but the branch road that went
to the north and west of the lake. We called it the Strickland School because the Strickland
neighborhood, which was settled by people who farmed and ran a store down there at the
edge of the lake, provided a convenient name of it. The one-room schoolhouse still stands
adapted to household use; a family lives there. But it was the original school, with its fairly
large oak wood stove, which we boys, when I started getting into school, kept going pretty
well. My sister had been kept out of school for a year to play with me. There were Negro
children that I played with, but that was not the standard thing. My sister was nothing but a
girl, so she could afford not to go to school when she was six years old. Actually, she and I
were playmates. When I wanted to ramble with my male equals I had two little Negro boys
who were only too glad to traipse around the plantation with me. But when I was six, she
and I then joined my brother, traipsing that mile with a tin pail with lunch in it and whatever
books we needed. The intellectual fare was good enough to put me into the sixth grade three
years later when we moved into town.
P: You were nine years old then?
R: I was nearly ten. I was nine when my father died, and within the next year ...
P: The move was motivated, then, by your father's death?
R: That is right.
P: Your mother then wanted to move into town?
R: Yes. But we spent most of the summers out at the plantation.
P: You owned that property?
R: Yes, that was at the northern end of the tract of land. We had to be out there because there were
things to be looked at. Repairs had to be made--a new mud-and-stick chimney had to be
repaired or rebuilt--and, finally, in late August or early September the rental cotton began to
come in, and you had to collect your bales of cotton and market it to advantage. Even when
I was only ten or eleven years old I used to travel to Thomasville or Cairo, Georgia, which
were equally good and sometimes better local cotton markets, with my mother. Sometimes I
went alone, riding with one of the most trusted of the Negro tenants.
P: Your mother took over the actual business operations of the farm after your father's death?
R: Yes, and she proved herself a very good business woman. Economically, that became less and
less tenable for the reason that taxes ate up the proceeds of the plantation as it had to be run.
We clung to it until after World War I when my brother, because of his devotion to the place
and wishing to try his wings at something new, leased the whole plantation. He wanted to
run it on a rental basis except for sufficient pasturage and some plow land to raise feed so he
could begin a cattle business. But like what happened to a number of other dairy men at that
period, there was a wave of disease that the milk cows caught simply from grazing on
infected pastures. This caused them to lose their calves. The cattle were sold for beef. The
family decided--by this time I was a student at Harvard--that they had to let the place go, so
we sold it to a well-to-do Philidelphia man who had for many years leased the shooting
rights on the plantation. Meanwhile, of course, I had been going to school. I had three years
in that one-room schoolhouse.
P: I want to go back to your growing up years in Tallahassee.
R: After my father's death, we moved in mainly for the reason that we needed adequate schooling. I
went into the sixth grade, my sister into the seventh or eighth, and my brother into the ninth
grade, I think it was. We lived in my grandmother's house just a block from what was
already then FSCW, Florida State College for Women. It had become so in 1895 when it
was named at Lake City. In two more years I had gone through seventh and eighth grades
and struck a cluster of extraordinary teachers in Leon High School, as it was and is still
called. I had two years of algebra for mathematics. I had Mrs. Barber, who was the wife of
one of the mathematics teachers out at the college. For the whole high school curriculum in
Latin I had Miss Carrie Prevard, who also taught a course in Florida history. She had done
that little textbook that everybody used.
P: And a two-volume work later on.
R: She taught me American history and English, and advanced English literature. For Greek and for
eleventh- and twelveth-grade mathematics, which we all took automatically, I had Fenton
Davis, who was a student under the brilliant young professor of Latin and Greek at the newly
created Florida State College for Women. His name was Bondurant. He had studied at the
University of Virginia under the great Gildersleeve, who was also the teacher of Dean
[James N.] Anderson down here. I had Gildersleeve secondhand in Fenton Davis. She
somehow kept us interested in something as unintriguing to most students as eleventh- and
twelveth-grade mathematics. Trigonometry is now a mystery to me, but somehow or other
she unfolded some meaning in it. But what she did for me was to develop in me an interest
in Greek, which was easy to do because I had enjoyed my Latin with Miss Carrie. Miss
Carrie had supported Fenton Davis in trying to attract students to study Greek, and two of us
So when I came here to school in 1912 I confronted Dean Anderson with two years of high school
Greek, which had included plowing through pretty much all of the Illiad, among other
works. I had what I consider a rather curious and interesting interview as an entering
combination freshman and sophomore when I first came. At that time, and for some years
afterwards, in this state a graduate of a full-fledged high school could enter as a sophomore.
There were also at the time two subfreshman classes, and they were called in the catalogues
eleventh and twelfth grade, as you know.
I was accepted as a full sophomore in several subjects--English, history, physics, and Latin, because
I had had four years of Latin--but Dr. Anderson would not accept that in Greek. I had a
fellow student here, Royal Perkins Terry, who preferred to be called by people who
associated with him over the course of the years as R. P. He became a noted lawyer in
Miami, and in the 1930s he became one of the Board of Control members. R. P. had taken
in his preparatory school at least the last two years of Greek. Well, Dr. Anderson got the two
of us together, and he said, "Now, boys, I do not doubt that the two of you have had good
teaching, but I do not think that I ought to accept you as full-fledged sophomores in Greek,
so let's start out on freshman Greek and see how you do." We sailed through his freshman
Greek by Christmas, and he let us do the sophomore course in the remainder of the year,
from January to June. After that first year we were ready for full-fledged junior Greek study,
and the two of us went together all the way through.
P: I wanted to ask you who stimulated your great love for literature, which, of course, you had
already built up as a child. But who did you take literature from in high school?
R: The advanced English literature I took from Miss Carrie Prevard. I was lucky that they had not
taken her up to the college. It was not very long after I had graduated that she moved on to
P: As a high school student, had you begun to think about what you wanted to do?
R: No. I knew what I was to do. I simply grew up from childhood assuming that I would be a
physician like my father and his father and his uncle (who became his stepfather) and his
grandfather and his great-grandfather. There was a long line of physicians. This was
interrupted by younger sons, the nearer generations that I know about, who went into law.
The uncle for whom my father and mother named me, Archibald, was my father's younger
brother. He studied law, as everybody did, in an older lawyer's office. Then you passed the
bar examination and became a practicing attorney on your own or in partnership with the
man you studied under. Incidentally, one of the well-known judges on the supreme court of
this state had that kind of training, [Fred H.] Davis. He was a classmate in that high school.
Incidentally, he and I while we were in our senior year got out a literary magazine. By
george, I had not thought about that in a long time. He did the typing and provided all the
verse, and I did the editing. I do not know where I scared up a little bit of prose for it. But
we got out two or three issues. I do not suppose there are any of the issues in existence,
unless he kept some of them.
Well, the schooling was part of it. But my liking for books and history and the connection between
history and literature goes back to the old double-pen log house, seed and oak, with that nice
attic, and from people around me, like my own father, who drew my attention to serious
books. There were things like [John Lothrop] Motley's Rise of the Dutch Republic kicking
around in what we called the parlor, and there was an odd collection of miscellany. There
were medical books in the library. The strange sort of assortment, though, included pirated
American and complete editions of the more popular Victorian British novelists. Those were
lying around. My motherjust doted on all sorts of fiction.
The other person that I had a lot of intimacy with as a small boy tossed things my way and put in my
hands writers of prose fiction and saw to it that I had some poetry very early. I remember
reading stuff for lack of something to do before I began traipsing down that mile-long road to
the women's schoolhouse. It included whatever had caught my attention for some reason or
other, especially if it were illustrated. They were strange and mysterious and suggestive
engravings in that Motley. I began to pick up names that had romantic associations with
them. My history was a rather strange sort of history, I am sure. Most of it came out of
books like those Victorian novels. Are you old enough to have been exposed to the Hedy
books when you were a youngster?
P: I know what you are talking about.
R: I gobbled all of them. My brother and I must have had about forty of those things.
P: Horatio Alger and Tarzan were in my day.
R: Horatio Alger was going strong when I was a child, too. I did not like those nearly as much as I
did those with the supposition of history. I was never disillusioned about the history. I knew
a lot about the Crimean War because I had read a story with the hero, a nice British boy, who
did not die in "The Charge of the Light Brigade" but wandered through Russia and got to
Poland. I heard about Poland and its servitude. I did not get disillusioned about the
reliability of versions of history until I read With Lee in Virginia [by George A. Herty], and
early in that book was an account of the orangery. The Virginians were going out to pick
oranges, and I began to get suspicious. I became a cynical critic then.
But seriously, I had a lot of reasons for becoming a constant addict. When we moved to town I
became one of the best patrons of the old Walker Library, the little endowed place with its
balcony, where Miss Maggie Williams, the descendant of one of those old plantation
families whose house was destroyed only about ten or eleven years ago, was librarian. As I
remember, she was quite a librarian, for she delighted in helping people find things that she
thought they would be interested in. She dished out an endless array of the latest novels that
she could buy with what little pension the city fathers gave her to spend. But there were
some interesting old books kicking around that place. I recall one morning I went to get
some more reading, and I went home with my arms full. She took me up the little narrow
steps to the balcony on the west wall of the library. Way off at the far end were some old
books, and she pulled out the library's copy of [William] Bartram [Travels Through North
and N .,,nh Carolina, ...]. So I put my books down, and I sat there and read Bartram until it
was time to go to dinner--that is, midday--and then went back. My instinct was that ought
not to be carted around, and I do not doubt that she checked it out just as she did the last
copy of Bell Wright's novel. It was that kind of thing, that you were surrounded by people
who read all the time.
P: But your thought and your family's thought was that you would follow your fathers footsteps and
go into medicine.
R: All along I thought that my vocation would be to follow my father to Tulane. I went through here
and clear up to the first year of World War I on that assumption.
P: You were here, then, as a premed student?
R: I had stayed on, and I discovered, looking for information about two or three of the faculty,
something about myself. I was looking at a 1915 Seminole, and under my picture as a senior
in that thing was a detail that I had completely forgotten: I was already listed there as a
student assistant in English. So I must have been hashing up freshman compositions for Dr.
[James M.] Farr [professor of English] as a senior. I do remember that R. P. Terry, who
studied Latin and Greek with me all the way through 1912-1915, was a senior student
assistant in psychology helping Dr. [Harvey W.] Cox [professor of philosophy and
education] run the basic psychology course, which was about all that was available in
psychology. At that time the professor of philosophy was the professor of psychology [Dr.
Cox], and Terry helped him with whatever simple psychological experimentation could be
carried on. I took that course when Terry was there. But I had forgotten that I was already
doing some compassion grading for Dr. Farr, but evidently that led to what occurred.
The next two years I was given some sort of teaching fellowship which provided me with enough to
sustain me down here without much need to work in the summertime to make money or to
borrow. I was going to mention that I came here only because I had won, through Miss
Carrie Prevard's interest in me and her prominence as a member of the United Daughters of
the Confederacy [U.D.C.], the organization's single, statewide scholarship. She told my
mother and me about it and urged me to apply for it, and I got it. It paid my basic expenses
and room and board for the three years it took me to get through here.
P: Before we get to college, I want to go back to Tallahassee and ask you about some of your life
and activities in Tallahassee from the time you moved there as a ten-year-old child until the
time you left to come here to Gainesville to go to the University. We talked about your
schooling, but what about life in Tallahassee? It was a small country town.
R: It was a very small town; I think [there were] about 3,000 people then. There was always the
constant influx and outflow as administrations changed and as the personnel of legislature,
the administrative offices, the judges, the supreme court, and so on altered. But you
automatically came to know journalists from all over the state. If you worked as a boy--and
many of us did--in a store up on Monroe Street, you had a chance to get to know in a cursory
fashion--and sometimes more than that--men who had made their mark in the state
government and were continuing in Tallahassee as the judges did. So I came to know Judge
[Robert S.] Cockrell long before he moved here into the faculty, and I knew his bosom
buddy, Judge [Thomas M.] Shackleford. They would come down the street--you could set
your clock by them--in the morning at 10: 00 and in the mid afternoon to get their
Now, the first contacts that I had with people like that as a small boy came about from being
employed after schools hours and at holiday times and in the summer as a clerk in a famous
Tallahassee institution for many years. It was a little store that was a combination magazine
stand, jewelry store, and book store. Miss Annie McQueen, whom I spoke about, this good
friend of my mother's--Nan, as I had dubbed her--was the clerk. Erastos W. Clark was the
owner and jeweler and did engraving for Hall and Sundry, who bought the silver or brought
the silver in to be engraved. He was a funny little man, bearded and very reticent and sort of
suspicious, but he was very fond of Miss Annie McQueen, and he knew that she was good
for his business. She knew everyone, was known by everyone, and attracted people
interested in books. So that with the first chance there was for me to do work of that sort--I
got that part-time clerkship in that store. I proceeded to get rich early. I was paid fifty cents
a day, and I was soon investing my wealth in my first collected edition of [Charles] Dickens.
I never got beyond about twenty-five, but I still have them. You got them for a dollar and a
half a copy in those days--that was about 1909-1910.
P: Working in a shop like that gave you a chance to meet lots of people who came in.
R: That is right. Later on, as I got older, I got a better-paying job in the Tallahassee drug store down
at the next corer, which was how I got to know people like Judge Shackleford and Crockell.
They came regularly to get their Coca-Colas, and I served them, along with everybody else
that came into the store.
P: Just out of personal curiosity, did you get to know any of the Broward girls?
R: Josephine was in my class. Two or three of the other children were ahead of her, I think, but we
all played together. The schoolyard was a main social mixing place because all of the
youngsters were let out at one time. So as a sixth grader I played ball and hopscotch and
what have you with other boys and girls, but especially with the boys, because the boys
would herd together and the girls would herd together. There were little neighborhood
parties that always involved playing little innocent childhood games. There was very little in
the way of night entertainment, as I recall, but there was a good deal that was connected with
that school. By the time I was old enough to learn to dance I was more interested in hunting
and rambling in the country.
These boyhood associates of mine were quite a diverse crowd in what they became afterwards. In
high school the classes grew precipitately small. A great many of the local boys who were
going into their father's stores or to sell groceries or that kind of thing quit after tenth grade.
In eleventh grade, there were surely not more than seven or eight of us. As a senior I had
three classmates. There were four of us who graduated. One was headed for West Point and
became an army officer. That was Graham Palmer, whose father was a physician in
Tallahassee. Another was a boy who studied medicine and was a well-known physician in
Jacksonville. Another came here, and we roomed together the first year that we were on the
P: Who was that?
R: Bascom Barber, the son of the woman who had taught me algebra. He went into the real estate
business and spent his life down in Clearwater. He had a son here in school back in the early
1950s. He died about three or four years ago. He was well known down there and associated
with people like Jay Herrin who was a prominent alumnus of my time.
P: So you came to the University of Florida on a U.D.C. scholarship, planning to get yourself ready
for medical school.
R: That is right. We could not have afforded for me to stay here in college at that time. My brother
had been here the first and second year of Dr. [Albert A.] Murphree's presidency--that was
P: Did you know Dr. Murphree in Tallahassee?
R: Oh, yes. We did not go to the same church because my family was Presbyterian, and Dr.
Murphree was a Baptist. My father's family had been Episcopalian, but my father illustrated
pretty well the old proverb "free positions to atheists." He was all for his family going to
church whenever it was available. Out in the country we went to the old Presbyterian
church, which was a very old one down at Meridian. It was located on Bannerman land.
But the church that I remember best as a small child in the country was a old Methodist
church that still stands on the Meridian Road. It was called Bethpage, and it was served
about every fourth Sunday by a second-rate preacher. Now, whenever there was a service,
my mother bundled us three children into the carriage, and we all went to the church. In a
southern rural church the men sat on this side, and the women sat on the other side. Small
boys sat with their mothers, so I did. But when I got to be a little bit bigger my brother and I
went on the other side. I think it was because we would be scrambling in almost late, and we
would herd with the men. But in Tallahassee we all did go regularly to the services of the
But everybody passed up and down, not only Monroe Street, but most people also had business and
other errands that took them up and down College Street. By the time I was in high school
my mother had bought the lot that I mentioned that backed against the lot that was no longer
owned by the family. It is still the site of the first house, the type that you see only a few left
around here. It has a wide porch and is on a hillside so that there are three tiers of steps
leading up to the porch. Everybody connected with the college or having any kind of
errands in that direction would pass up and down. We knew the Hendersons. Mrs.
Murphree was a sister of John Anderson, the banker and the original founder of the family
who was a builder, Wyatt Murphree's great-grandfather. The Murphree's, I think, lived in
the Henderson house. Anyhow, when my brother was getting through high school his
graduation coincided with Dr. Murphree's change of place from the Tallahassee school to the
presidency down here [at UF] as successor to Dr. [Andrew W.] Sledd. Talks between him
and my mother and my brother resulted in Bill coming down here for two years. But he felt
the stress of family exigencies, and after the second year here he went to take a business
course at what was then the favorite place for such things, for southern boys, at least, at
Eastman. What is the name of that place?
P: In Georgia?
R: Eastman School of Business at Poughkeepsie, New York. That was a fairly long course. Of
course, they crammed them with accounting, and Bill then came back. By the time he
finished that study I was already here, and he came by and visited with me on his way back
home to Tallahassee, where he took a job in the Louis State Bank.
P: How did you go from Tallahassee to Gainesville?
R: You caught the Seaboard New Orleans to Jacksonville, and you got off at Lake City. You waited
a while and then caught the Georgia Southern & Florida--it later became the Coastline--and
you got off at Sampson City, which is a little bit up to the northeast of Gainesville. You then
picked up the T & J, the Tampa and Jacksonville, which ran from Sampson City on the north
to Micanopy on the south. The depot is still standing there--it is Strike Hardware.
P: It is the Baird's, isn't it?
R: No, you are thinking about the old Seaboard depot. I am talking about the one that still stands
alongside what is now the main Coastline. There is now some kind of hardware store. It has
been converted into a Trailways bus station. But the building was used for a while as a
hardware store. Well, that is a pretty good old piece of work, you know, with the typical
1880-1890s trim that is so attractive in some of the old store buildings down in the middle of
P: That was quite a journey.
R: There was another way you could do it. You could stay on Seaboard all the way into Jacksonville
and pick up the Seaboard out of Jacksonville right into Gainesville. But that was much too
round-a-about for us. You simply reversed that process. You got on the T & J about 4: 00 in
the afternoon. At that time the little locomotive was a bell-top wood burner, and it
sometimes ran two coaches. But it sometimes just ran with a tinder car for the locomtive and
the single combination coach, which had a few seats and passengers in the rear with
baggage. It may have carried mail, I do not doubt. But at some point midway between here
and Sampson City you would stop at a little platform were there were waiting supplies of
wood--mostly light wood--for fuel.
When you got to Sampson City, they turned around and went back to Gainesville, and you sat and
waited for the train from Tampa northward through Lake City toward Tacoma, I think was
the terminus. After arriving in Lake City you had that same wait for the train out of
Jacksonville, and if it was the afternoon or evening trip you got into Tallahassee somewhere
around 11: 30 or 12: 30 or later at night. If you left early in the morning here, you took the
morning train out of Jacksonville headed for New Orleans, which stopped at Lloyd, the little
way station forty miles east of Tallahassee. This was where passengers and crew of the train
were able to jump out and spend twenty minutes at a table [getting something to eat].
Lloyd was quite a famous feature of railroad life in north Florida. I never tried it but once because I
have always eaten what I have had time for. But in twenty minutes nearly everybody had
gobbled plates full of rich chicken stew, hot biscuits, country butter, and in-season fresh
vegetables. The engineer, the brakeman, and some of the passengers could stow away a
dinner in twenty minutes, but not I. So I had one meal at Lloyd, and from that time on if I
took that early train, I knew that we would be in Tallahassee by 2: 30, and I would get my
dinner at home.
P: Tell me about Gainesville when you first arrived. Had you been to Gainesville before?
R: No. It was a pretty town, very shady, and [there was] a kind of quietude about it. It was very
proud of its brick pavement which surrounded the courthouse square and ran all the way
down Virginia Street to the Seaboard depot. Much of that brick paving is still there now
along that narrow stretch to the now-long-disused Seaboard depot, which was taken over by
Baird [Hardware]. The first few blocks east along University Avenue were the parkways all
along. The pressures of modem traffic has only fairly recently destroyed those parkways.
There were lovely rows of nice live oaks, and the whole place was embowered with trees.
The hotels were attractive. The White House was already well known. It too was a railroad
stop. The train would come down to the station, stop at the White House to let out the dinner
passengers, come on up to the station, and then afterwards back on up to pick up the diners.
P: That was a gentle way of life that no longer exists.
R: That is right. The Tebeau School was an attractive feature of the town. These old maiden ladies
taught the children at the Tebeau School.
The town was already proudly boasting of its expansion. There was brick pavement around the
courthouse square for some distance, as I recall, out east University Avenue and on the
whole narrow strip that I believe used to be called Virginia Street that ran down to the old
Seaboard depot one block east of the courthouse square. The broad stretch of University
Avenue was not paved with brick past the Presbyterian church.
P: I thought it went as far as the Baptist church.
R: It may have come along the narrow stretch for another block or two. It may have come as far as
the T & J Railway.
P: Was it fairly wide to the Presbyterian church and then narrowed to something like a country road?
R: It narrowed until you got to the T & J depot. Then it widened again. It was paved soon after I
came here in 1912. I do not remember just how it was paved. The stretch from the T & J
out to the corer of the campus was paved a year or two later. But as I recall, everything on
the campus was simply graded dirt road. That was long before anyone thought of destroying
the original design of the campus, which was two opposed, convex circles with the buildings
arranged to fit into that scheme.
P: What about sidewalks?
R: From in town, everyone had built sidewalks all the way out. That was almost the universal
method of getting into town. Of course, we students were concerned about getting into town
then because there were no places of amusement here. The first year I was here there was
already in existence a small restaurant right across from old Science Hall, what is now Flint
Hall. That year the College Inn began with a local man, Uncle Dudley as he was known, and
his wife, Aunt Dudley. They were Mr. and Mrs. Dudley Williams, Gainesville people. He
had built with it his own hands, the original, very small, compact, local limestone surface.
He had gone out in his bass-bound Model-T Ford and hauled it back, or hired a wagon or
truck to bring it in from where he picked it up in the woods. You can still go out in the piney
woods and find boulders of surface limestone that have become quite hard. He built the
original place which you see pictured in the annual of 1913, 1914, and afterwards.
P: How built up was the area in terms of residence from the T & J railway to the campus?
R: Fairly thick. I mean, there were only a couple blocks that had no buildings. The stretch between
10th and 11th streets, where those apartments are built now and the store fronts face
University Avenue, was--before the Kinney Green apartments were built--a beautiful stretch
of pine woods. From there on into town there were a good many vacant lots, but the place
had been already pretty well built up to the point where there were some rather nice houses.
Congressman [Frank] Clark's house was handsome; it later became the Theta Chi fraternity
house and later the Elks Club. The original Elks Club was a right nice, two-storied,
old-fashioned house on the comer opposite of where the Florida National Bank is now. That
was not tor down until the late 1940s.
P: I wanted to ask you about the courthouse square appearance and the blocks immediately adjacent
to that. That has always been the center of Gainesville.
R: There were still a good many oak trees around the courthouse, at least on the north and east sides.
On the south side of what is now--and has been for twenty or thirty years--the Cox's
Furniture Company was the Baird Opera House where all the traveling companies
performed. We had some good companies there. The main floor of the opera house is now
the second floor of the Cox Furniture Company.
P: What was downstairs?
R: Stores were downstairs. The original site of the McCullen's drugstore was on the comer. Next to
it was a very nice bakery. And either next door to McCullen's or the second door beyond
McCullen's was the original Maraboro Photography Shop, some of whose pictures appear in
these earlier views of Gainesville and in the annual.
I would guess that the opera house would hold about 500 people because there was a large balcony
which was where most of us students wound up. The balcony was arranged in the
conventional southern small-town fashion. You went up the first flight of steps to the main
floor, which sloped gently down, and there was one open box on either side of this apron
stage. If you were a flush and wanted to be quite the man about town, whether you were a
Gainesville or a campus youngster, you sat yourselves up in the seats in one or the other of
those boxes. But they held only about five people comfortably. The bulk of the audience
was on that main floor. But we went up to the balcony. I cannot remember sitting on the
main floor except for the showing of just a few things like Birth of a Nation, which played
there the first time that film came here. But the road shows were the popular things that
secondary actors and actresses, dancers, and musicians prepared in New York and took to
the road with. That was still the heyday of the traveling show.
P: Do you remember any outstanding personalities appearing at the opera house?
R: Not then. I might yet pick up a few names that became known. Now, when it came to
Shakespeare, I can think of two companies that were celebrated and whose leading actors
were good: the Crewber Players and the Ben Greek Players. But that was later on, two or
three years later, during my stay here as an undergraduate.
But going back to the opera house, up in the balcony up the stairs was quite a mixture of people--
college boys, a few townspeople, and the Negro patrons. When you got into the balcony, the
eastern half of it was for white people and the western half was for Negroes. But there was a
great deal of interchange between them. I was accustomed to that system from up in
Tallahassee, and no doubt that was the practice. I could not prove it, but my impression was
that it was the way of taking care of Negro patronage in the theaters. It continued into the
early heyday of the silent movies. I saw that going on all over the South.
P: What about the courthouse square itself? Was there a fence around it that had been taken out?
R: No. There was a somewhat scraggly but well-tended lawn and the trees, as well as the pleasant
feature of the tower with that old clock.
P: Earlier there had been a band shell on the square. Was that gone?
R: I think so, but I am not sure. The only thing that I remember with any certainty was the usual and
still existing statue that the local chapter of the U.D.C. erected.
P: What about the utilization of the square as a political meeting ground?
R: My memory may have been faulty [about the band shell]. There may have been a little band
shell, but I would have to look at some of the old pictures to resurrect my memory of that.
The usual Fourth of July speech was delivered on the square. Some informal town meetings
occurred there, and speakers certainly must have had some at least temporary stand when the
political campaigns went on.
There was some very hot campaigning that touched the University a little bit later. While I was still
here in school there was the invasion of Florida by an Alabama carpetbagger. That was
Sidney J. Catts [who later became governor of Florida]. His election caused a good bit of
unrest among the faculty and especially President Murphree. I was told at the time that he
[Murphree] had been guilty of an indiscretion. He thought that he was in a semiprivate room
on the train--he was returning from Jacksonville. While sitting in the smoking car he had
delivered to a companion or two a very derogatory opinion of Catts. To his embarrassment
he discovered that Catts was seated to the rear of him. He thought, undoubtedly, that Catts
had heard him, so there was real reason for him wondering what would happen to him as
president and consequently what harm might be done to the growth of the University. His
fears were groundless, and I hasten to add that Catts turned out to be a reasonably good
governor. One interesting little detail is that his son promptly turned up down here as a
student in the law school and was well liked.
P: What about the appearance? Was it solidly business around the square in 1912?
R: Yes, it was built up solid, except one section where some of the nicest old houses were. Two or
three of them were simply moved when the building places drove them out. You still see
one on the comer of the block just north of the original location of the First Presbyterian
Church. It is an old tum-of-the-century frame house, a two-storied house with porches and a
big attic. Another one is tucked away out of sight in the middle of the block beside a parking
lot that takes care of the business of First Federal. Cornering that is the old Dutton House,
which is a handsome, huge place where the original family of the Duttons lived. All he had
to do was go across the street and enter the front door of his bank, the Dutton Bank. The
bank was on the comer next to the square. The Presbyterian church and the Dutton place
were catty-comer from each other at that next comer.
P: I think that there is an optometry place there now where the Dutton place was located.
R: The original Duttons, the parent Duttons, survived well into the late 1920s. They were good
friends of some of the faculty. Notably, I know they were friends of Dr. and Mrs. Charles
Langley Crow [professor of modem language]. I did not know the Duttons except in a kind
of distant fashion. When the families sojourned the town stopped. The house was either
rented or on a long-term lease was converted into the original Primrose Grill, which was on
the ground floor of the Dutton House.
P: Whose house was it that the Primrose Inn now occupies?
R: Major and Mrs. [inaudible]. They lived upstairs and made a quick success for their restaurant
because it was home cooking. I think they built that while still running the business across
the street in the old Dutton House. The place, I think, was expanded; they built onto the rear
as the major became more prosperous. It has been consistently a well-patronized restaurant,
and, of course, they have quite a large number of rooms.
P: I want to ask you about an area south of the court square, the post office, the original site of Oak
Hall. Was the post office finished when you were here?
R: Yes, it was fairly new then, and all of Gainesville pointed with pride to it. Congressman Clark
had proved his worth by having that built. It was a pretty fancy piece of architecture for a
town of only about 3,000.
P: What about the churches in the downtown area?
R: The First Methodist Church was already occupying what had originally been the East Florida
Seminary. The White House Hotel was in the same shape that you knew it yourself. The
church building proper for First Methodist is the small building towards town; that is the
original chapel. The Baptist church was the light-brick structure on the southwest corer of
the block across the street from the Baird Hardware Company.
P: The present new library is on the eastern part of that block.
R: The Baird people kept the tower when they demolished the original Baptist church. Down the
slope across the street was a fairly large frame structure where, for several years, the
University held its commencement convocations. The first one that I was ever involved in
used the auditorium of the Gainesville Grammar and High School combined, which is now
the Kirby-Smith Grammar School. The auditorium was the western most part of that
structure, separated from the classrooms. At least one commencement that I recall from my
early stay was in that auditorium.
P: Now, the Presbyterian church was located on West University Avenue.
R: Yes, with its tower and its rather curious version of a mixture of Gothic and Oriental architecture.
I thought it was a novel structure in the way of silver-sided Presbyterian structure. I do not
doubt that it raised some eyebrows when it was built. The old people around the town
objected violently to giving up that old building when the present church was decided on.
P: What about the present Baptist church, the one that is a little farther up?
R: That was built about the early 1930s, I think. My interest at the time was due to the somewhat
pretentious architecture. The size of the quarters was comparatively large, and above all
they had a very nice, large organ that Claude Murphree, the University organist and also
organist of that church, loved to play. I remember going down there. My wife and I went
down on a special trip with him to hear him exhibit the scope and quality of the organ.
P: Was there a Catholic church congregation that early?
R: Yes, as I recall, at that same little church at the north end of what was then West Main Street.
P: There were no religious places on the campus? I presume that the students went into town to
R: That is quite right. That continued to be the case long after I was back here on the faculty. I just
cannot recall when the first purely student religious building was erected out here. I suppose
it was in the 1930s. The Catholic Center may have been the first one, then followed the
Methodist and the Presbyterian [centers].
P: Were students welcomed at these services?
R: Yes, of course. My impression is that a majority of us went into town. I know I was something
of a heathen.
P: What was the relation between the townspeople and the students? Was there much social
R: Yes, there was a great deal. One pleasant custom among the socially inclined students was to
form little groups--maybe just two or three or sometimes a whole fraternity, which were very
small in those early days--and they would go pop calling on Sunday evening. They would
cover the whole downtown section. Now, old east Gainesville and the houses along the
main streets and University Avenue did agree on what girls to call on, and that would vary
from time to time depending on who they went to call on the last time. Some of us were
fairly often invited into town for Sunday dinner. I was pretty prompt because I was able to
come here in 1912 only because I had been granted the statewide U.D.C. scholarship which
paid my room and board. The lady who was the wife of the man who ran the other
newspaper in Gainesville at that time was prominent among the members of the J. J. Finley
Chapter. Her house is still standing. It was right opposite the old Baptist church. It is a nice
old piece of 1890s wooden architecture with the usual scroll trim on the lattice and rounded
bay windows. I think that Joe Conner has a nice photograph of it. There were lovely houses
all the way out, at least one block past the Kirby-Smith school. The town ended abruptly
right there, and it was country and sand roads from there on in.
P: Was there a movie theater here that early in Gainesville?
R: Yes. There were two, in fact, when I came. One was in a store building, which was not
uncommon. The first movie that I saw in Tallahassee was in a temporarily vacated store
building that was converted to the purposes by putting up a screen and setting up undertakers
chairs or something of that kind to provide for a small audience. That was the case here.
The location of the first one that I went into was about midway in the block just east of the
courthouse square. It was opposite the Baird Hardware Company, which was already one of
the main business in the town. Within that year, if not earlier (it may have already been in
the process), the original movie house built for that purpose was being put up. That was the
Lyric [Theater]. It was in the block just north of the post office. It was still in use up until
the early 1950s.
P: So that was the first real movie theater in Gainesville.
R: That is right. It remained just as you remember it, with its balcony and very short, little stage
which could be used for speakers to stand on. But it could not be used for anything more
elaborate than that. You could not convert it for the purpose of putting on a road show or an
amateur theatrical performance. For that, Gainesville had to resort to the Baird Opera
P: What about the traffic situation?
R: There were a few automobiles, and still only two or three of the students when I was on campus
had the use of a family automobile. [I particularly remember] the Taylor family and the
Cannon family--that is Finley Cannon and the father of the present Finley who was a fellow
student of mine. The Cannons had a big heavy Hudson that you risked your right arm
everytime you tried to crank it, and the Taylors had a large car, an early Buick or something
of that kind. When it was time to do rushing for their fraternities those boys could use those
automobiles. We would even race all the way out to paradise, which was counted as six
miles up the Coastline Railway, flag the train there, and get aboard to meet boys who were
coming in. For that purpose we used the Cannon family automobile. But there were not
very many in that decade 1910-1920, although they became gradually more and more
frequent. There were some expensive ones like those huge seven passenger Cadillacs that
began to make their appearance. One of the earliest ones was owned by the vice-president of
the University. Dr. Murphree had a very handsome automobile which he drove into the
campus constantly. But many of the faculty lived near enough to the campus to walk. Many
of us were still doing that throughout the 1920s.
I did not trouble to own an automobile until 1928 or 1929, after we had come back from that
abortive stay in Cambridge and after Dr. Murphree's death. We had to take an apartment
first on Main Street at Mrs. Graham's. It was not an apartment but was just simply the north
side of the ground floor of that huge old-fashioned house. After a year or so we engaged an
apartment in the second real apartment house built in town. Dr. [Hasse O.] Enwall, the
professor of philosophy that we both remember well, built a four-apartment building on what
was then Magnolia Street. This is the street that runs east from in front of the old post office
and the [Gainesville] Sun newspaper building. That was occupied largely by University
people, including Garland Powell, the second director of WRUF who is thought of as the
first one. He was actually preceded by the director of the [General] Extension Division, Bert
Riley, who was director for a year or so until after Dr. Murphree came in and brought in
P: But automobiles to begin with were very few.
R: The first residences that I was in after coming back on the faculty were near the University. I
took a room in a house that was just across the street from the campus at the level of the law
school building and later had a small apartment much closer towards town. I never thought
anything of walking a mile or even a mile and a half. The first year I was married, my wife
and I had the top floor of the old Hagler house, which is three blocks east of the old White
House Hotel. I simply struck out in the morning walking unless one of my freshman
students who lived in town came by and gave me a ride. He used to do this three mornings a
week so that we would both be in time for 8: 00 classes. Otherwise I walked [to campus]
and generally walked back the mile and a half to the apartment on Church Street. But the
streets were shady and nice, and I had grown up walking, so I kept on walking. It was only
when things got a little more pressing and we lived in a world in which we needed to go on
trips to Tallahassee or to Lake City or even to the neighborhood of Valdosta to see our
families that I found it necessary to buy an automobile.
P: I want to get back to your very first days as a student on the campus. You came here in
September of 1912 as a first-year student from Tallahassee. Where did you live as a student?
R: Another Tallahassee boy, [B. D.] Barber, who became a real estate man in Clearwater after the
war, and I engaged a room together in D section of Thomas Hall. At that time Thomas Hall
was still one of the main buildings for purposes other than rooming. The north end section
had rooms for students on the ground floor, but the second and third floors were devoted to
the University Infirmary and quarters for the nurse.
The nurse was a very engaging, peppery, little slip of a Scotch woman by the name of Miss [Mary]
McRobbie. Every student that was here from 1911 to 1917 remembers with affection her
tart humor and humanity. She is well established in the memory of everybody that lived on
campus. Her photograph appeared in the annual of every year until she went back home to
Scotland. She dispensed pills and whatever food you got while you were in the infirmary.
Everyone would remember her passage over to the mess hall with trays with metal covers
accompanied by a Negro orderly who was one of the men working in the kitchen. He was
detailed to help Miss McRobbie take back what she wanted for her patients. Whether you
stayed in the infirmary a day or two or not, everybody used to exchange quips and witticisms
with Miss McRobbie.
P: There was no physician attached to the infirmary in those days, was there?
R: Yes, there was. If you check on the early catalogues you will find that as early as 1905 Dr.
E[dward] R. Flint is listed as both professor of chemistry and resident physician. He had
taken his doctorate in chemistry at Gottingen and had come back to this country and studied
medicine at Harvard and took his M.D. at Harvard. I have some very pleasant recollections
of him. As a professor of chemistry he had an engaging way of teaching elementary
chemistry. All students in the College of Arts and Sciences and, of course, all students in
agriculture took some basic chemistry. Everyone was exposed to him as an undergraduate
instructor, and he was very good. Furthermore, his office was a hangout for anyone who had
any interest either in chemistry or rattlesnakes. He had some varied interests. He was quite
an amateur herpetologist, and he had some rattlesnake cages in the basement. We would
make some of them rattle as we went into sophomore English [class] because it was located,
for a while, on the basement floor near the entrance to Dr. Farr's English class.
P: Now, was all of this in Thomas Hall?
R: No, this was in Science Hall. Flint, along the way to his M.D., had been attached to some activity
that took him to China. He had picked up enough Chinese to retain his interest in it, and he
had kept up his study of it while he was at Harvard Medical School. There was then, and I
think that there still is, a sizable little community of Chinese in old Boston, so he delighted in
teaching a little Chinese. In fact, he conducted a little informal class, some of my friends
reminded me. One of them, Turner, was a surgeon in Manhattan for many years and is
semiretired down in Ocala. We were talking about Flint recently, and he said that Flint had
offered to teach some of them who were interested. For a good while he met with some in
the evenings, some of the advanced students who had been here long enough to know him.
He was well liked. How good a physician he was I just do not know. Every once in a while there
was a broken bone that needed to be repaired. After he retired from the University and went
to Washington where he continued for some years in a governmental job. His place as
resident physician was taken for a year or two by Dr. M. H. DePass, who was then
succeeded by Dr. George C. Tillman, who retained that post for many years. He may have
been resident physician when you came here.
My memory of my first year here is vivid with the recollection of the law students pulling out of that
section. The offices and the classrooms were very tiny for law faculty at that time. They had
four law professors at the most. The third section, C section, at least the second and third
floors, were then the University Library, which was not moved out of that section until
Peabody Hall was completed, and the library was then moved to Peabody.
I think that was in 1913-1914, but the same librarian was still in charge. He was a nice, little,
modest, very dividend, quiet, dark-black-haired man named [M. B.] Hadley. I do not think
that he was a very forceful person, but he was attentive to students and was geared to the
needs of any students who liked books. I think that he was a Yale graduate, but I do not
recall. At any rate, some of my more bookishly inclined fellow students and I began
spending some very happy hours in that library even when it was housed in that one section
of Thomas Hall.
Now, there were six sections of Thomas Hall. Wait. There could only have been three sections. At
any rate, all of the south end of the building was devoted to students' quarters, and all of
Buchman [Hall] was student quarters, with the exception of the upper floor and the second
floor. Mrs. [Sally J.] Swanson was the matron of the dormitory population and was in
charge of the student quarters, and her sons were students, either at the high school or
already on campus in that inner section of Buckman.
P: When I came they were still using the north end of Buckman for classrooms. Our French class
R: That was not going on when I was a student before the war. The ground floor and perhaps the
floor above the end section, the A section, of Buckman were occupied by Mr. Coffin when
he was the resident counselor. I think that was his title. This was a function that was shared
between him and Mr. L. W. Ducoss, who was both a teacher in the high school or the
subfreshman classes, as we called them, and in the college.
P: Mr. Cotten was also the librarian before Mr. Hadley.
R: This was in Lake City and here to the first year. He was responsible for whatever there was in the
way of a book collection from Lake City down here. Now, when I came Mr. Hadley was
already here. Mr. Cotten and his family lived in Buckman Hall for at least a year or two--I
think it was two. Soon after that, while he was teaching mathematics and, I believe, some
history, he came down here from Tallahassee.
P: I wanted to ask you about a building that I am curious about. It is the little one-story brick
building across from the old agriculture building, right on the corer there. The news bureau
presently uses it.
R: I think that you would have known it as Parkside Post Office for the campus.
P: Yes, but what was it when you came in 1912?
R: I am a little bit vague. It was in use, I think, as housing space for agriculture implements.
P: Was it a brick building then?
P: I believe that it was the original building on campus, put up to house the equipment being shipped
over from Lake City during the time that Buckman and Thomas were under construction;
until they could be used it was a storage house. If this is so, it would actually be the first
building on campus.
R: That may well be. As I recall, for what it is worth, it seems to me that I used to go past it daily
from the dormitory to classes, both the old Engineering Building, which was then simply the
Engineering Building, and to the other new building in line with it, which is now Peabody
Hall. I went to mathematics, history, Latin, and Greek classes in both those halls, and each
time we would go past that little brick building. My recollection then was that it was a small
building and that it had been expanded by addition to the south end of it.
P: I wanted to ask you if there was any special use for the cleared area between Buckman and
Thomas halls. Was that the drill area?
R: It was a kind of a parade ground so far as drilling was concerned. There were three companies,
A, B, and C, and they used to form there. Of course, those companies were pretty well
populated because you did two years service in the drill companies. You did other things
such as target practice in the spring, and everybody had to report at that target range, which
was then located in the valley where the parking lot to the north of the medical center is now
located. You are aware of how high that hill is? Well, the target pits were at the foot of the
hill so that even the wildest shot was not likely to send an army rifle bullet over the hill and
endanger anybody--except that mischievous students did deliberately send some bullets over
the hill. But everybody took a turn not only at firing his rifle but at manning the target pits,
of which there were two. There was a good deal of activity there, running the targets up,
then running them down the hill and replacing them.
P: That system was here when I came. I remember the rifle area. Was the name The [University]
Commons employed for what is now the cafeteria, the central eating place on campus?
R: In my day as a student, it was The Commons in the catalog, but it was known as the mess hall to
everybody else, which was logical. We were an army camp and, in effect, drilling students.
P: Uniforms were not worn?
R: No, but just for convenience many went to classes on drill days with just their fatigue shirt on, or
maybe even the shirt and britches both, but many of us changed because it was pretty hot,
and unless you had a class right on the heels of the drill period you changed.
For about two years there was one of the most beautiful buglers that I have ever heard, a boy from
St. Augustine attached to the battalion as bugler. I think that he would have been paid a
reasonable fee for his services as bugler because of this feature. He went to the ground floor
of each section of the dormitory where there were students and blew reveille. Then he blew
at all the assembly calls to drill and for the weekly Wednesday-afternoon parade. That may
have been less frequent, but I am vague about that. This was a regular dress parade that was
in the regulations. He also blew taps, not going into each section, since it was not a matter of
making a lot of beautiful noise to put the sleepy boys to bed. But that is the thing that lingers
in my ears after these years. He was really a very beautiful bugler and the tone was
marvelous, and the way that he could sustain the long notes was superb. A lot of us who
liked music would listen subconsciously around 10: 00 to hear him blow taps. He also blew
some long, fancy cavalry calls. He had some bugle music from the French army, and he
used to play it for us.
P: You said 10: 00?
R: Ten o'clock was taps; that was not exactly lights out, but it had been theoretically closing-up time.
Many a room got dark at that time for the simple reason that we got going so early in the
morning. If you were being drilled at 7: 00 A.M. or 7: 15 A.M., it was likely you were being
awakened at 6: 00 A.M. You had to get on some clothes, get over to the mess hall, grab a
little breakfast, get back [to your dorm room] and put on your black tie, and get out to the
assembly place. For us this was a little additional tax because we had to chase across and
around the comer of Buckman Hall. You see, the companies always formed on the east side
in the driveway or just across the driveway from the entrances to the sections of Buckman.
Most of the drill was conducted in the open pine woods between Buckman and what is now
Thirteenth Street. There was plenty of open space for three small companies. The company
was somewhat excited by the occasional little flurries of related activity. For instance, the
second year that I was in drill there was a Confederate reunion in Jacksonville, and the
battalion was invited to participate. So we were all carted over to Jacksonville, and we lived
in tents in a vacant field somewhere not far from the old waterworks. Those who had friends
or kinspeople in town could escape the tents, but the bulk of the boys spent those two or
three days in tents. I had kinspeople in town, a family living on Main Street not very far
from the park that extends to the east of Main Street.
P: Tell me about the room accommodations in Thomas Hall.
R: You had the basic essentials, period. You had a fairly comfortable bed with a mattress. Each
student had a little simple table with a straight chair or two. I think that if you wanted
anything more comfortable, like a lounging chair or something like that, you had to provide
P: Did you have to provide your own linens?
R: Yes, you had to bring your own sheets, blankets, and pillow cases. You were also responsible for
your own laundry.
P: Who did the laundry?
R: The neighboring Negro women would appear every Monday either before or after drill. Each one
had her patrons. You would bundle it up and take it downstairs to the launderess. I think
that they would pay them the magnificent, standard sum per week of thirty-five cents. The
amount could vary, but that was the standard charge. Once in a while some small boy--the
son of one of these women--would come along with her, and if the student upstairs did not
appear at a reasonable time with his sack of laundry, this small boy would come in and
knock at the door. Most of us would put our laundry in a pillow case and tie the end or wrap
it in a sheet and tie the ends of the sheet.
One of the scandals that I vaguely recall happened the first year that KA [Kappa Alpha] fraternity, of
which I was a member, was located in a rented fraternity house right across from Language
Hall. That would have been 1915-1916. Some atrociously selfish and irritable student
became a psychiatric case afterwards and was eased out of here due to this episode. He was
lying in bed in his second-floor room of Buckman Hall, and the laundress sent her little ten-
or eleven-year-old boy up to knock on the door and inquire about his laundry. He shouted
through the door, "Get the hell away from here. I am trying to sleep!" The little boy went
back to his mother on the outside, and they waited and waited for him to appear with his
laundry. The woman wanted to get the laundry and had a right to get it. So she sent the little
boy back up. That dam student had a pistol somewhere nearby, and he reached out and
grabbed the pistol and at random fired through the door. Some of the students coming and
going found the little boy's body within a few minutes outside the door. They got a hold of
Dr. [Edward R.] Flint, whose office was right across from Buckman Hall in what is now
called Flint Hall, and he came running in and found this boy dead as a doormat. He called
for all of the students to get together who were around both the dormitories and told them,
"This poor child is dead now. It is not your or my business now. I am reporting it to the
sheriffs office or the police." The president of the University had a hot potato on his hands.
I do not recall [all the details], but I do not doubt that you could get in touch with people who would
remember more details. But the student was pronounced a psychiatric case later. How he
was eased out I do not remember, because I was told about this afterwards. He was not tried
for murder, and, perhaps, that could have provided the opportunistic consideration for a
scandal hurting the University. So perhaps the University officials tried to hush it up. But
that is the only thing anywhere approaching unpleasantness that I remember.
P: How were the buildings heated in those days?
R: There were old-fashioned steam radiators which were not very adequate. The furnaces were in
the basement of the south section, in E section, of Buckman and F section in Thomas, so that
by the time the steam had traveled all the way to the north end it was a bit inadequate.
I recall one of my friends, a boy from Tampa who was a distant kinsman of the Murphree family
(Mrs. Murphree, I think) and who later became prominent in the state medical circles in the
state of New York after leaving here with his B.S. and M.A. He was another one of Dr.
Flint's chemistry students. He studied medicine and became a high official in the medical
service of New York. He retired many years ago and tried to get them to give him some
kind of position with the original cancer unit here long before the medical school was
established. I remember that Dr. Ray was the director of the research being conducted here.
My friend was kind of a character among the students. He was pretty good in science work.
He would lounge around his room. I can recall going into his room in Buckman Hall on
cool mornings, and he had rigged up a way to keep himself warm. He had tied a weight to
the thing that controlled the flow of steam so that the steam would pour out of the radiator
into his room, keeping him nice and warm, to the detriment of everybody else, at least to the
north of him.
I do not recall that we suffered from the simple, and what would be considered now intolerably cool,
living quarters. We would brighten them up in various ways. There were pennants and
pictures and ... I do not recall pin-up girls, but still there was a little bit of that kind of
humor. The third year that I was a student, four of us grouped together and took these
two-room quarters opposite of each other in the C Section of Thomas Hall and converted an
apartment into a study and lounge room. We were supposed to sleep across the hall in the
other rooms. This worked very fine when it came to the entertainment side of student life.
Our quarters became famous around the campus as the place to play bridge. I cannot recall
that any dice games were played there. That went on in other dormitory rooms. I never did
learn how to shoot dice. Some of my college friends were very good at it, and I can
remember looking in on games that lasted from the night before a football game, were
suspended while the game was on, and were resumed Saturday and went on through
Saturday and even on into Sunday night--with a changing population around the table. The
games were usually staged on a throw rug on the floor.
There were long stretches when there was no supervision that amounted to a hill of beans. The night
watchman never put a foot into the dormitories. His business was outside. One simple-
minded amusement of the students was to play tricks on the night watchman occasionally.
The one who was on duty when I was a sophomore and junior living on campus was a
gangling Alachua County man--a cracker with a mustache--sort of drooping and good
natured. In spite of that, we delighted to tantalize him by making noises that he would have
to go and investigate.
P: Were there curfew restrictions in those early days? Did you have to stay on campus?
R: No, not if you could find and afford a room off-campus, and there were a few who did.
P: But you could leave the campus at will? There was never any kind of attempt to discipline the
male students in terms of hours and this kind of thing? Weekends were free?
R: No, there were no curfews, and weekends were absolutely free.
P: What about the drinking situation in those early days and the girl situation on campus?
R: There was a good bit of drinking. Even the poorest of us could afford to come back from a trip to
Jacksonville or to Ocala with a bottle or two of our own. You could go into any bar in
Jacksonville and buy very good Scotch whiskey for two dollars--a quart, not a fifth. It would
be regarded as top- or medium-quality Scotch like Johnny Walker and that sort of thing.
Some of us were already addicted to Scotch when we could afford it. But I think that we
drank within reason. I do not recall that I was involved in more than two or three really
There were two or three students who were known for their excessive drinking, but there were not
many of them. Those who could afford to would stick around them because when they came
back to the campus they would bring quite a bit, and there would be quite a drinking party or
two as a consequence. There was not anything to warrant a reputation for drinking such as
the reputation of the student body at the University of Virginia. I imagine, though, to a great
many of the sober townsfolk it must have seemed like a good deal.
P: Was whiskey available in Gainesville?
R: No, the town was dry. But Marion County and Ocala were plenty wet and quite accessible.
There was no paved highway, but if you wanted to you could jog down to the station and get
on the Coastline Railway and get off at Ocala. There were at least four trains a day, two
south and two north.
P: Were there any scandals that you remember involving girls on campus?
R: Right offhand I do not recall anything. There were instances when prostitutes came out to the
neighborhood of the campus. I recall evenings when one to two would appear over at Uncle
Dud's College Inn and pick up a couple of students. Anything of that sort was likely to go on
in town in the less-respectable of the small hotels. There were two: what was called the
Commercial Hotel (the building is still standing opposite where the old Sun office and
printing shop used to be on Main Street, just the next block south of the square) and the
Brown House, which was a hotel in the decade before the war. It had a respectable dining
room, too. It was catty-comer from the old Coastline depot, the site occupied now by the
First National Bank. Now, catty-comer from there and next to the drugstore on the comer
was the original First National Bank. That building still stands. That is where I had my first
bank account, with all of twenty-five dollars in a checking account.
P: I had forgotten about that hotel, but I remember it now.
R: When we could afford to go into town and set ourselves up to a meal, we might prefer the Brown
House dining room for their convenience.
P: Let us get back to the campus. Were the bathroom facilities comfortable?
R: There was a shower, bath, toilet, and two wash basins on every floor of every section.
P: How do you remember the food and the service in the mess hall?
R: It was, of course, conventionally abominable. Actually, it was wholesome. Some tables were
more mannerly than others. Students' manners were pretty rough. The place was supervised
by a senior student whose business it was to stay in the cashier's cage overlooking [the
dining hall]. Among the people that I recall performing that function was a very tall
Tallahassee boy by the name of Yonge. He was known as Jump Yonge, J. E. Yonge. He
became a prominent attorney in Miami and died fairly young. He was preceded by John
Sutton [of Lakeland], who was by that time a law student. John later became a prominent
attorney and the first University of Florida graduate to be appointed to the Board of Control.
That was well into the 1920s. He was a very fine tackle on the football team and a very
P: I think that his sister or his wife's sister lives here in Gainesville.
R: He married one of the Floyd girls. There were two of them, and the one that John married was a
beautiful young girl.
P: I knew her.
R: Well, they were popular. [W. L.] "Major" Floyd, as he was called, was a professor of botany and
a very engaging, retiring, modest sort of a person who was much liked by the students in
agriculture. I did not take any botany until I was a senior. There was a special instructor in
botany by that time, a man by the name of [N. L. T.] Nelson. But Major Floyd had taught
friends of mine like Sam [P.] Ham, who was one of the four who clubbed together. There
was a boy from Monticello by the name of [G. R.] Bailey who subsequently married Finley
Cannon's sister and who made quite a success as an insurance man and had an office high up
in the Chrysler Tower in New York City. Bailey from Monticello; Sam Ham, who had
originally been an Alabama boy and who was a reading companion and dear friend of mine;
[W. H.] "Dr." Tumley; and I were the four.
All of us liked books--especially Ham, Tumley, and I. My first year here Ham, a boy from
Massachusetts, and I used to read a lot together aloud. We would get together on rainy
evenings or afternoons and [shared things] we had discovered that were interesting or novel,
like the first time that I found a complete set of translated papers. We plowed into a lot of
things, of course, looking for lurid titles and sometimes being disgusted to find that the hot
spots were not at all red. But that was an engaging feature of that first year here, and it
helped me to get settled in so that I do not recall getting very homesick.
P: How about costs? Dormitory and food costs?
R: They were very modest. I do not remember the exact figures, but very poor boys by the score
were on the campus and making a little bit of odd money at various jobs. The University
offered quite a variety of small, paying, sufficient jobs. And if a boy wanted to he could
always pick up something on his own, and a great many of the people that I associated with
did this. They had various little businesses. One sharp-witted fellow student of mine--older
than me but only a year or so ahead of me in college-- Gerald, used to make a business at the
beginning and end of terms by buying and selling books. He turned a pretty penny.
Incidentally, he was one of the main crap shooters around the place, and he made money that
way. There was a good bit of gambling on a small scale. But there was always formal
employment, and you could always find employment, even if it was only digging trenches
over in the Experiment Station or tending plants or working around the green houses.
By 1915 several of us were academic student assistants. My friend Terry, of whom I spoke earlier
and who kept pace with me through all of the three years of Latin and Greek which we took
together, was one. We studied three nights a week together in his room because mine was
too populated. We could be quiet and bear down on our studies, and that job done we could
turn to recreation. Terry was already a student assistant in the psychology department, and I
was handling a few compositions. I do not remember what the pay was, it was
inconsequential when a letter from home and a five-dollar bill meant affluence for a while.
P: Was there required formal chapel attendance on campus? Where did you meet?
R: The chapel was the north half of the second floor of the old Agricultural [College] Building, what
is now Floyd Hall. It was thrown together with a platform at the north end for the speakers
who might be involved in the chapel business.
P: This was a daily thing or a weekly thing?
R: I do not recall, but it was more than weekly. I think that it was five mornings a week.
P: This was the first hour of the morning?
R: It was slackened later on.
P: I think that it remained until Dr. Tigert came.
R: We did not have an auditorium until [sic] 1928.
P: But Peabody [Hall] had an auditorium up on the second floor, didn't it?
R: Yes, but it was never used for chapel purposes. That became the site of faculty meetings after the
faculty grew so large that it could not be accommodated [in an ordinary classroom]. The
first year that I was back here on the faculty, in 1922, Dr. Murphree that year and, I think, the
next year held University faculty meetings in the classroom that I taught my classes in. This
was on the second floor of what is now Anderson [Hall] but was then Language Hall, in the
southeast room which I continued to teach in until the last summer session that I taught.
When the classes were large, as in recent years, I would move to the classroom next to it, to
P: I remember that you taught me Shakespeare in that room.
R: By 1947-1948 the classes had gotten too large. At least the Shakespeare tradegies overflowed
those rooms, and I began clawing at [Richard S.] Dick Johnson [registrar], and he began
clawing at Dean [Walter J.] Matherly [College of Business Administration] to allow me to
use that nice 135-seat auditorium on the basement floor. But the deans were very jealous of
their buildings, and it took quite a little while until I got access to that. Meanwhile, I traipsed
across campus and used the big C-3, C-5 lecture room which had been provided on the
ground floor of the north end of Floyd Hall. Here we held the C-3 and C-5 lectures until we
outgrew that and had to move to the [University Memorial] Auditorium.
P: Now, chapel was really a religious service then?
R: Yes, a reading and a prayer and a hymn. It was a very brief service usually. It was a function to
which visitors on the campus were always invited. One of my vivid memories of the first
year that I was here--somewhere along in the early spring, I think--was when we had heard
from our professors and from Dr. Murphree in chapel that the campus was to be honored
with a prolonged visit from one of the most noted men of science. This was Hugo De Vries,
the Dutch botanist who was the father of the mutation theory, which was the first major
variation from the standard version of Darwinian evolution. Actually, he was expected to
stay longer and was given accommodations for his experiments. As I recall, the basic one
had to do with a study of chickpeas, which developed rapidly and could be subjected to a
quicker botanical experiment. I do not remember how long his stay was, but I do remember
when he came. The president had told us one week that this man was going to appear on
campus. We were all greatly impressed and felt that the prestige of our student body and
professors and campus in general was being greatly enhanced, as indeed it was. The
president had told us, "I know that you will treat him with every consideration and courtesy
as you have occasion."
A week or so later we were electrified. We used to form ranks, in companies outside of Floyd Hall,
and march in formation up to the chapel and take seats. The faculty would find themselves
seats, as would those who were involved in the modest, little, brief service. When we were
seated, a professor whispered to some neighboring students that there was to be a visitor at
chapel that morning, and there was this electric silence. We heard steps in the hallway, and
Dr. Murphree appeared with this bearded gentleman. Almost by instinct, I guess, we all as a
unit stood to our feet and waited respectfully. You could have heard a pin drop until the
president and the visitor were on the platform and taking their seats. Dr. Murphree later on
introduced him, and there was a tremendous uproar of applause. But I have always felt
rather proud of the way that sometimes-rowdy crowd of students behaved on that occasion.
P: One area that we have not gotten into, and I am sure that it will be of interest, is the sports activity
on campus during your undergraduate days.
R: There were pretty primitive provisions. For the size of the school we actually did better for
baseball, because it was easier and cheaper to provide for. Just to the west of Thomas Hall
was the recreational and physical activities area. There was a little, old, wooden gymnasium
with a few simple gymnastics apparatuses.
P: Is that building gone?
R: Yes, long ago. And outside there was a very little swimming pool. Actually all of the boys who
wanted to go swimming for fun were members of the swim team. Well, actually it was a
very informal team. We used to go across to what we called Freeze's Pond, which is still the
fairly clear little lake in the vicinity of NW 21st Street and 10th Avenue.
P: I know it. It is right near my house.
R: That was really where we had competent water to swim.
P: And that was out in the woods?
R: Yes. You traipsed along sandy paths that were not even anything more than a lane. That part of
town was wild woods. But there was a little bit of primitive activity. A few boys did have
bars and bells, and they had a gymnastics team. There was a little swimming. There was
formality in some of these activities. If you look in the annual, you find that as early as 1914
there was a tennis team with a captain and manager and whatnot. But that was kind of a
front. There was no organized intercollegiate activity in most of those minor sports.
P: There were no intermurals yet?
R: No. For tennis, as I recall, there were two cement courts which were very close to the west side
of Thomas Hall. Very few played tennis, and there was nothing like handball courts. The
old wooden gymnasium was large enough to have a basketball court, but basketball attracted
very little student interest. So it was mostly baseball and football, and, as I said, baseball
amounted to more in comparison with other sports.
P: There was intercollegiate baseball?
R: Yes, but it did not carry very far. I think that you will find that the teams throughout the 1900s to
the war years often played noncollegiate teams. These were club teams and teams from
nearby Jacksonville and other towns. When they played intercollegiate football and baseball
it was with a few of the modest schools like [Georgia] Tech, and Stetson, and [Florida]
Southern, and once in a while Rollins in baseball--I do not think they had a football team.
They played The Citadel, the University of South Carolina, and Clemson. The first year that
I was here they even played Auburn; that was when the Auburn series began. Everybody
was very much delighted and surprised at the outcome of that. I still remember it was 28-14.
I roomed across the hall from the boy who became the next year Everett [inaudible]'s roommate, a
Tallahassee boy and a famous football player in those days. He still counts among the
Florida greats. His name was [A. R.] Hancock, with the curious nickname of Puss. I never
delved into the origin of that. It never occurred to me to check it. But he was a science
student who later studied medicine and practiced for many decades out in Oklahoma. He
was a Tallahassee roughneck, and he and Sutton were the best of the line. This was the year
before [J.] Rex Farrior came and also played in the line, sometimes guard and sometimes
center. Sutton and Hancock and [inaudible] and other familiar Florida names [were all on
They went out to Auburn, and everybody thought they would be slaughtered. By that time Auburn,
Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia had developed into growing concerns as
football powers. Those [UF] boys proved themselves pretty well; the score was 28-14. I
remember hearing Hancock with a curious combination of pride and innate modesty describe
how they got one of those scores. He was down at the bottom of the stack when the lines
converged, and he found himself down at the bottom next to the Auburn player with the ball
in his arms. He told me, "I reached out and yanked the ball away from him." When the
referee unstacked the players, he was clinging to the ball, and the Auburn player failed to get
it back. Of course, that was illegal, but that led to one of those two unexpected scores.
P: Where were games played on campus?
R: Right out on that same field that we played baseball on. In the fall it became the football field. It
was innocent of any turf, and what grass grew naturally probably included sandspurs. In an
early annual are some photographs, just after World War I, that show a football crowd of the
kind that I remember so well. People who came out in their automobiles would line up their
automobiles [to watch the game]. This happened at the scene of the games we played in
Jacksonville. I went over with a lot of fellow students to at least two of those games. I
remember watching [John W.] Heisman, the famous [Georgia] Tech coach, pacing up and
down along the sidelines, coaching his team while the play was going on. People would line
their automobiles up facing the sidelines, and spectators on foot simply stood or sat on
convenient posts or stumps or on the fenders of other people's automobiles.
P: You did not have to go to the time or the expense to buy tickets then, did you?
R: There was a modest, little grandstand in the northwest comer of that field for baseball crowds,
and that remained there well into the 1920s. In fact, there were just two very short tennis
courts. I never played tennis. The boys I ran with were not athletic in the least. We had
plenty of walking to do. Any time you went to town, nineteen times out of twenty you
walked no matter what the weather--hot or cold, wet or dry. We went also for long Saturday
afternoon hikes. [There would be at least] two or three or maybe sometimes a little crowd,
carrying along a .22 rifle or maybe a single-barrel shotgun and a target pistol. I remember
long Saturday afternoons when we would set out and walk down the Ocala Road and go all
the way to Rocky Point where the road used to wonder through the woods down there. I
remember my friend who most liked this sort of thing was Herbert Lamson. He was a
prominent Episcopalian laymen and lawyer over in Jacksonville who died six or seven years
P: I knew Mr. Lamson.
R: Well, I was very fond of him and kept up that friendship throughout my life. He and I, and
sometimes company if there were other boys, [used to go on these Saturday afternoon
outings]. Sometimes Terry was one of the added. I can remember [doing this] especially in
P: We were talking about social life. We have not yet gotten into the academic world at all, and I am
purposely saving that for just a moment until we get all of the periphery out of the way, the
things that most interested the students, the non-academics. Let us talk a little bit about
social life in those days. You were a member of a fraternity?
R: Yes. There were three fraternities in existence already when I came, ATO, Kappa Alpha, and Pi
Kappa Alpha. None of these groups owned a house or even rented a house. They had rented
rooms downtown. The Pikes, as I remember, were in the new building on the comer right
across from the post office.
P: Would that be the building where the Lyric Theater eventually was? Did they have rooms
R: Yes. I am vague in my memory about the Lyric. I think it was all one building. The theater
building may have been something added afterwards, not as a part of that comer building. I
do not remember the location of the ATOs with any certainty, but it was somewhere around
the square. My own group, which numbered not more than sixteen or seventeen that year,
had its quarters on the second floor of a building which during the 1920s and 1930s was
occupied by George Dell's grocery downstairs. There was some kind of business there.
P: Can you locate that for us?
R: It was directly across University Avenue from the Baird Hardware Company. It was in the first
block, just four or five doors off of the square.
P: This is where that little group of buildings is now, adjacent to the new city hall.
R: That building was either modified or destroyed when the bank, which has a parking lot next to it,
across from Baird's, was erected.
P: Now, when you say "quarters," does this mean that the boys lived there?
R: No. It was purely for the weekly meeting of the fraternity and for any social affairs that could be
carried on in such modest surroundings.
P: I remember you said that you lived in the dormitory, but I did not know if some of these boys
lived off campus.
R: That came a little later. But all these three, I know, devoted most of their space to one large room
where modest dances could be held.
P: But there were no such things as eating quarters? There were no eating facilities there?
R: No, there was no provision whatever for cooking. There were facilities for refreshments at
dances, but I do not recall anything other than a little pop--affairs that did not involve any
elaborate preparation or refreshments during anytime that the three fraternities were having
there meetings and leasing their quarters.
P: Do you recall the cost at all?
R: It must have been very little, both the initiation fee and the monthly dues. I might be able to pin
that down, but offhand I do not think that I could have paid more than fifteen dollars or
maybe twenty dollars for the initiation fee. The dues were very modest. They certainly were
not more than a dollar and a half or two dollars.
P: I am curious about the relationship of these fraternities operating off campus and the University
administration. Was there any supervision, faculty advisors, or any kind of liaison?
R: We related rather directly with the president.
P: Well, with your fraternity, Dr. Murphree was a member of the KAs.
R: One other prominent member of the faculty was initiated by the chapter two or three years later,
Dr. Harvey Cox, who was professor of philosophy and taught some psychology too. He
went to Emory University. We took him in, and that was not an uncommon practice with the
fraternities in this part of the country. There was also a modest number of the physics staff.
Mr. W. S. Perry [instructor in physics and electrical engineering] was a KA, but he took very
little interest in the fraternity, if any at all.
P: But Dr. Murphee did, didn't he?
R: Yes, he did, and he entertained the chapter about once a year at his house. After they took that
big house over in east Gainesville the meetings were invariably on Saturday evenings, and
everybody was bound to be there. All the members who were in town that week would
certainly be present because there was little else to do, and in our group missing meetings
was regarded as serious business. It was started with the usual bit of ritual introduction, roll
call, reading of the minutes, and then a discussion of any of the chapter affairs that would be
subject to maybe a special assessment. There was a big annual affair towards the end of the
term. The first year that I was here that was a very flossy, fancy, and beautiful banquet at the
White House Hotel. Sometimes it was a big dance. It was prepared in advance with an able
committee. That involved special assessments and added material cost to the cost of that
second semester. I do not mean that it was extremely costly, but it cost something like five
dollars or more. When it came to the banquet, it must have been more than that, because we
had special guests in addition to our own dates, and that meant also a very elaborate meal
was served. I have among my mementos a little, leather-bound program of that banquet.
The menu is something to knock your eyes out.
P: You probably could not duplicate it in Gainesville today.
R: Not at twenty dollars a plate.
P: What about the nonfratemity students? Was there any type of a social life for them?
R: Aside from their church groups or activities associated with their churches, there was no
University-organized entertainment or play.
P: There was nothing like the later Military Ball Weekend or house parties or anything like that?
R: No. There was nothing like the freshman affairs that Ed Price was chiefly instrumental in setting
up and that were conducted in that old wooden gym for several years. My wife and I used to
help chaperon and take care of the visiting girls and the candidates for the beauty queen that
were chosen. But they had nothing of that sort. For one thing there was no money.
P: Life must have been pretty barren then for the nonfratemity boys.
R: No, not as much so. [There were] the everyday comings and goings, associations, and places like
that restaurant that I spoke of, Alex Francisco's place, and conspicuously after Uncle Dud
opened his College Inn. By the second year that I was here I had experienced many pleasant
associations of that kind--just sitting around talking, going for walks, going to the movies
together, rambling off into the country at the spur of the moment, or playing very
unorganized games. These things involved as much friendship with nonfratemity men as
with fraternity men.
P: When did the development begin for permanent fraternity houses adjacent to the campus?
R: That started with the rental by the ATO fraternity. I think that was my senior year, although it
could have been the year before. I think that it was the academic year 1914-1915. The ATO
fraternity knew that the Coleson family was moving out of the Coleson house across from
Language Hall. The ATOs rented that place and occupied it for at least two years. In the
meantime, they had plans underway to build their first house. They were well ahead of us in
the KA crowd. That set a kind of challenge for the other fraternities. The following year the
KA group similarly rented one of the two rental places right down the street from the
Coleson house. They were two identical houses, identical in architecture. I think they are
still standing. Anyway, the [James M.] Farrs lived in one on the comer of what was then
P: Is that were the Episcopal Chapel is now?
R: The Episcopal Chapel was at the other end of that short block going towards the Coleson House.
We in the KA group rented the house on the inside of the block and occupied it for at least
three years. Then in the first year of the war, 1917-1918, the chapter moved to a very
curious location. The Williams family had their business of running the College Inn. They
had sold it or leased it to a man named Burgess who continued to conduct the business, but
not in the same kind of amiable, slap-twisted friendly way in which the Williams had run it.
I suppose at the time his business was not very remunerative. At any rate, he got out. For
one year, at least, the KAs rented the building and adapted themselves to living there. They
were a very small chapter at that time.
At the rear of the little store building, the public part of it, either Uncle Dud or Burgess had put on an
addition and had been renting rooms or beds. As I recall there was a kind of dormitory with
at least three or four beds in this large room. Two of my college friends and classmates had
rented there. One of them was Alex Campbell [Jr.] from west Florida [Chipley], who was
one of the chemistry majors who graduated in my class. This had already happened by
1914-1915, that Campbell lived back there. Another more distinguished chemistry major
also lived back there. His name was [Fred] Halma. I completely lost track of him later, but
he was a brilliant fellow and stood out among Flint's chemistry students. I also recall a
migrant refuge, an Armenian boy, by the name of Dicran Hashadurian who was there for a
year or two as a student and then drifted on somewhere. But he had learned a pretty good
brand of English, and Uncle Dud had given him an occupation as a kitchen boy and waiter in
the College Inn. He lived there too.
P: From there were did the KAs move?
R: The KAs then took the Coleson house, which in the meantime had reverted to private hands.
During at least one year of the war I lived in that house. I had a room on the west side when
I was waiting to be drafted and doing some study.
P: We were talking about the locations of the KAs.
R: I must have had a room in the Coleson house the year that the KAs moved into the College Inn. I
was there when it was in private hands. That was during the year of the influenza epidemic.
P: I guess that building would then have the longest history as a fraternity house of any fraternity on
R: Yes, certainly as a matter of living quarters for a fraternity, because it was first the ATO house
and then the KA house. By the year 1919 the Farrs had bought the small Dutton house
residence. The son of the original Dutton had moved away, I suppose. Anyway, the Farrs
had moved out of the Gracey house on the comer, and Mrs. Ramsey, who founded Roselawn
and conducted that for many years, rented that house and conducted a boardinghouse there
on a modest scale. She served meals and rented the rooms upstairs to some of us college
P: What about organizations on campus? Were there debating societies and literary societies?
R: Yes. Every college had its club. In the College of Arts and Sciences it was the Farr Literary
Society. There was one in the law college. In the engineering college it was the Benton
Engineering Society. In agriculture and in the teaching college there was one of these, and
there were intercollegiate debates as a regular part of the program. As I recall, those always
occurred in the second semester. All of us were virtually a member of the appropriate
society and took some part in its activities. In the usual way, you went up from some modest
post that would be listed in the college annual, like doorkeeper, then secretary,
vice-president, and president, and then somebody else took up the rotation. Usually it was
students who stood out academically who ran those things, and, as usual, only a limited
number of the students involved in them were very competent debaters.
Being a good student did not necessarily make a good debater. I know that I was an abominably
poor debater, not nearly as skillful in the kind of parry and riposte and the snatching up of
something which could be played on effectively with three judges in rebuttals and things of
that sort. I took a very active part as a senior and junior in the debates, as did the boy who
was president of the academic senior class, which was distinguished from the law seniors,
who were separate. We actually had three senior class presidents: the boy who was the
president of arts and sciences; academic senior class president, and a fellow by the name of
[H. L.] DeWolf, who was one of my teammates in one of those debates. We were seniors at
that time, and I recall we worked up our debating notes when he was confined to Miss
McRobbie's infirmary bed with a case of German measles. Well, I had never had measles of
either variety, but I still went up, and we worked together and got ready for the debate,
which was with a pair of debaters from the teachers' college club--the Peabody Club, it was
P: What about the Farr Literary Society? What did it engage in?
R: It flourished far into the 1930s, being less and less needed and doing a variety of things. Of
course, by that time I was very busy doing my job as a teacher. My impression is that those
societies ceased to have any real function and live purpose, and so they all faded out of the
picture in the 1930s.
P: But at the time that you were an undergraduate, were you a member of the Farr Literary Society?
P: Did it do more than just debate? Did it involve itself in literary activity?
R: No. In a very casual and ineffectual fashion it provided an outlet for some mild intellectual
interest. There were a few papers delivered here and there, but there was not much of a
program that I can recall. The promoting of the few cultural activities that affected the
campus were not a matter of sponsorship by these literary clubs. I am thinking of those two
road companies that gave Shakespeare performances all over the United States for many
years. The one that we had here, the Ben [inaudible] Players, played in the open air in the
afternoons and evenings over at the old high school grounds. Over on the north side of the
building, where there were some nice oaks to provide shade in the afternoon, there was a
temporary stage erected. People sat around and used up what few chairs there were, and the
rest stood. It must have been a very modest size audience that saw those performances.
P: Were there campus publications? The Alligator?
R: The Alligator began the fall that I came here, as I remember, but I do not trust my memory on
details of this sort. Students that I was on friendly, or at least familiar, terms with started it.
By 1914-1915 they had purchased a modest press and were turning out their own paper. I
think that originally the Pepper Printing Co. did some of their printing.
There was another newspaper at the time here. It was a weekly, and that press might have turned out
the Alligator. But certainly while I was still an undergraduate, they bought type and set the
Alligator. Somewhere in the third year or so you will read in the Alligator of their pride in a
press. I remember one little item in the announcement of its ownership of its own press.
Somewhere there is a picture of that room in the basement of Anderson Hall, which was then
Language Hall. The University had some vacant space there, and for a year or two that was
the quarters for the Alligator. I never took any part in the reporting or editorial writing, but
some of the other students that I was close to did take a hand in it.
One of the men who was the managing editor and chiefly the guiding light for the early stages of the
Alligator was a mature student named Murio Blunt, who was, I think, from west Florida.
Another Tallahassee neighbor boy who was involved in it very early and who is still living
here in Gainesville is Ralph Stoutamire. He could probably give you some interesting
P: What about the Seminole?
R: The Seminole had started when my brother was down here. I think that the first volume was
1909-1910. I do recall from his copy, which is kicking around among my things at my
sister's house at Tallahassee, that it was dedicated to the infant daughter whom the student's
thought of as the Farr's first child. I heard--not from them but from the [C. L.] Crows
[professor of modem language] later on--that the Farrs had had a small infant who had died
while the school was still at Lake City. This was the first child that the Gainesville people
and the University here knew about. There is a picture of this little infant in her long, long
dress as the frontispiece of that first issue of the Seminole, and it is dedicated to her, whose
little life, I think the inscription said, "came into the world at the inception of this annual."
The first copy that I took a direct interest in, because my classmates and I were in it, was the
one for 1912-13.
P: You did not play any kind of a role in the publication of the Seminole?
P: Was there any other publication on campus at the time? Do you remember a literary magazine or
R: No, and Scandal Sheets, a secret publication, did not begin to my knowledge until I stood up
[inaudible] and in the second stages wittingly. There is a very nice little story connected
with that which I will give you when I get to that. But that is a matter of faculty-student
relations which involved directly the president as the person responsible for the conduct of
the faculty in relationship to classes and students.
P: What about politics on campus?
R: That was another thing that I was on the fringes of. As a matter of fact, my pleasures were not
connected merely with the fraternity life either but included hanging in rooms with students
who were, like myself, interested in books and magazines and spending endless hours--
especially on cold winter nights--in front of that very comfortable, big, open fireplace at
Uncle Dud's College Inn talking endlessly with whomever came along. Mostly it was the
leaders in the fraternity and a few outstanding nonfratemity men. There was a good deal of
political collusion between these two groups. The nonfratemity men, while I was a student,
began organizing in a rather haphazard fashion to get more of a share in the student offices
and that sort of thing. But, as I recall, there was very little that was done about those things.
Only after the student body grew large did the two plums that were connected with
officership in the student body--such as editorship of the Seminole--begin to have some
promise of being lucrative. There was nothing much to contend for when the student body
numbered only 400 or 500 students. I doubt that this University had 500 students even at the
time that the war broke out, and half of them washed out in two or three months when that
happened in the spring of 1917.
P: Let us talk about the academic life of the students. Do you remember about the classes when you
were a student?
R: A glance into the old catalogs will tell you that the course offerings were extremely limited.
Certainly, so long as I was an undergraduate and an M.A. student--except for special
arrangements made for special students, as was done for me in Latin and Greek--the course
offerings (certainly those that I was familiar with) tended to be just repetitive. The size of
the faculty had something--perhaps everything--to do with that. The classes were invariably
small. When I was in sophomore English there were no more than eighteen or twenty
students, and we rattled around in a corer basement room in what is now Flint Hall. I told
you earlier about Dr. Flint's rattlesnake cage sitting down the hallway near where we entered
that classroom. My figures might be quite wrong, and, of course, there are class records of
that sort thing. That was about as large as a class was. That and the sophomore Latin were
about the same size, because all B.A. and B.S. students took Latin.
P: I suppose that with classes being as small as they were there was a close relationship between
students and faculty.
R: That is true. The closeness of the dwelling of some of the faculty contributed to this. Dr. [John
R.] Benton, the head of the engineering college and my teacher in physics, was then
unmarried and had a room in the house occupied by the man who supervised the campus
groves, gardens, and green houses connected with the experiment station. We used to sit
outside the west door of the Science Hall and watch for Dr. Benton, whom we called "Old
Ickey." He must have been all of thirty-five at that time. We admired and respected him, but
he had some mannerisms that just tickled every student that ever watched him.
He was a very nervous person, and he had to keep a stern hold on himself in order to keep his mind
on the lecture and the demonstrations that he would set up for us before the lecture began.
This was a little lecture room with staggered seats so that everybody could see what was
going on at the demonstration table. One of his mannerisms that tickled us and that we
became accustomed to but which accounted for his being something of a curiosity among the
faculty was his pacing up and down. While doing this he would put either his finger or a
pencil in these holes that had been drilled in the side of the desk which were for setting up
apparatus; he would finger these holes as he paced from one end of the table to the other.
He gave interesting examinations, both for monthly quizzes and for finals. You had a little schedule
handed you which told you the precise minute that he expected you to be in the
classroom--that same classroom--and you were handed a set of questions upon your entry
and told to make yourself at home at a back seat, that he would call you when he was ready
for you. Quietly and in a murmur seated behind his desk he was already examining one of
your classmates. These were oral exams, and you had your questions handed to you so that
you could prepare your answers.
P: That was a novel way [to do an exam].
R: Yes, it was novel, and it had its advantages too. He would grade you right there, of course, and
he was willing to tell you how you had fared. So you came out either glum or happy. It was
all over in about fifteen or twenty minutes. The questions were varied; you had no
temptation to fidget about and worry about what you did not know. You knew that you
either knew it or you did not know it. You saw the score going down on his record.
He had no home life, so there was no social contact which amounted to anything, certainly as far as I
knew then. Much later, after he and Mrs. Benton were married and had small children in the
house, he did entertain mature students and young faculty like myself. They had me for
dinner, and they had other mature students for dinner, but Dr. Benton was not a very sociable
sort of man. He lived in a big house just behind what has been until recently the Pi Kappa
Alpha fraternity [house].
On the other hand, the Murphrees were quite sociable. When I first came here I lived in the two-
story, four-apartment building situated down close to town, just to the west of what is now
the Seagle Building. The Murphree family occupied the entire second floor of this
apartment building. Downstairs the apartment to the west was occupied by Dr. and Mrs.
[Charles L.] Crow. Many of us visited the Crows. We were always welcome there, and
even more so when they bought the bungalow at 10th Street. It was a California-type
bungalow which they bought, and it had been built and occupied by an early dean of the law
We were frequently visitors at the Farr's house, as well. I recall as a junior that I was one of two or
three students who were invited over for a luncheon. We knew well that we were not
expected to linger after the luncheon. But if we went over there in the evening, as we
sometimes did, we sat and talked with Dr. [James M.] Farr or with Dr. and Mrs. Farr. Many
of the students who knew Dr. Farr, especially after being in class with him, delighted in that.
P: Tell me about the Crows, [especially] about Dr. Crow as a teacher and as a person.
R: Dr. Crow was quite a character with the students, too. He had mannerisms that were easily
mimicked by a clever student. There was always a good-humored, loving, and teasing kind
of talk about him going on among the students taking the languages he taught. He taught all
of the three major, modem European languages. How he got around to it is more than I can
comprehend. In the early years that I was here, he was alone in the department, and yet he
got some teaching done in German, French and Spanish. His real love was Spanish, and
after that French. I took no Spanish, but I did get a start on both German and French with
I did not take any foreign languages the first year I was here because I was concentrating on Latin
and Greek. The next year I took some German, when I knew that I was not going to medical
school but hoped to go up north to a graduate school.
P: Were did Dr. Crow get his training?
R: He took his undergraduate work at the University of Virginia, I believe. Certainly he did his
doctorate in English at [inaudible]. He studied some with one of the great German scholars
of the 1880s and 1890s.
P: Was Dr. Crow an effective teacher?
R: Yes, with a very few students. He was not every engaging, nor was he much of a popularizer.
His method was a little bit dry and repetitive, and the pace was terribly slow. He also had
inadequately prepared students.
P: We are continuing our discussion. Today is February 13.
R: I would like to add that in my opinion Dr. Crow was one of the three best undergraduate
instructors I had. The other two were Benton and Flint. In general, students and faculty
shared my opinion. I say that because these three were more methodical, more careful, and
more consistently scholarly in their point of view and their handling of classes. Dr. Crow,
more than any of the group I had worked with over a long stretch of time, kept up with his
scholarship. He kept abreast even better than Dr. Farr and Dr. Benton. Dr. Benton also
stayed abreast, even while teaching physics and trying to build an engineering faculty with
inadequate means and all those diversions from teaching and studying. Flint did not do
anything but keep right up with a very interesting, appealing instruction for the amateur in
P: What about Dr. Crow's research?
R: Dr. Crow had done some very solid scholarship, but what I am really referring to now is this:
when he saw the need for the development of the Spanish work here, he did something about
it. He went to Spain in the summers at his own expense. He did this at least a couple of
times, and then changed over to more frequent visits to Mexico. In many cases Mrs. Crow
went along, and they made kind of a holiday out of it. He studied at the university there and
associated what he had come to know from Latin American countries, especially Mexicans.
We had a few from Mexico visit us. I recall being invited to the house for dinner with one of
the visiting university people from Mexico with whom they had become friendly. So he did
a good deal of additional study, well on into the late 1920s.
P: Did Dr. Crow have any administrative responsibilities?
R: Yes. For a long stretch he was secretary to the general faculty. His most onerous job was to get
out the catalog, which was somehow attached to that secretarial position.
P: I guess we do not have a secretary of the general faculty anymore.
R: No, except that the registrar used to be ex-officio to the [Faculty] Senate. Somehow it has
become a less-important function.
P: I read Dr. Crow's minutes, and they certainly are insightful. You certainly knew what was going
on in the faculty. There were all kinds of interesting little comments that Dr. Crow made.
R: Dr. Crow had a good sense of style. He could write well. He would always write to the point,
but with a little bit of humor. He had more of a quiet, subdued sense of humor, sort of a
quirkiness when he was on easy terms with people. That applied to his students, too.
P: I found that he was interested in the history of the University. We have found some sketches that
he wrote about some the early institutions that preceded the University. I wonder what sent
him off in that direction.
R: I think I know exactly what happened. In the middle 1930s Dr. Tigert had been long established
in the presidency. There had been no carefully considered efforts or plans to provide for
retirement or settle a retirement age for University faculty. I think that the same probably
applied to the FSCW up in Tallahassee and the Florida A & M group over on the other hill
there in Tallahassee. I cannot tell you precisely how this all developed, but suddenly,
tactlessly, unthinkingly brutally, the Board [of Control] precipitated something with the
president. At the time, the board decided to begin enforcing some kind of a retirement
system that would define an age beyond which a man could not retain his post on the faculty,
no matter how long his tenure or his qualities.
At this point, Dr. Crow must have been almost seventy. It was about 1936 or 1937. By that time,
Dr. [James N.] Anderson had been moved over to the Graduate School and appointed dean
for a good while. [William] Harold Wilson was made acting dean of arts and sciences. As a
rule, Dr. Tigert did not keep an open door to students and faculty, as had been the pleasant
custom in the Murphree era. So instead of asking Dr. Crow to come into his office when the
school was still relatively small and well, he did not discuss it with him at all
apparently--certainly as far as I knew the story from Dr. Crow and Mrs. Crow. Nothing was
said to Dr. Crow except through Harold Wilson. Dr. Tigert, in a typical and somewhat
bureaucratic method, called in the appropriate dean to the office where the C-3 office has
been for so many years. So Dr. Wilson called in Dr. Crow from right next door and dumped
this news on him, that he was to be retired. Nothing else was said.
We were very intimate with the Crows. By that time Arlene and I had been married for many years,
and for six or seven years had been living out in a little cottage I had tried to buy without
success in Palm Terrace. Arlene had cut some flowers and had also cooked something she
wanted the doctor and mistress to have. When I got in late from a game of tennis and
washed up, Arlene said that there was time before dinner and asked me to run this down to
the Crows' house. So I got into the Chevolet and trotted off down University Avenue to the
house. I rang the bell, and they were slow in answering it. When Mrs. Crow opened the
door she sort of caved into my arms, weeping when she saw who it was. I do not remember
her exact words, but it amounted to this: "They are making Charles retire." I asked her to sit
down. Dr. Crow did not come out just then. She told me the story as she thought she had it,
simply that Harold [Wilson] had called Dr. Crow in and told him he was no longer a teacher
and was no longer chairman of what was then the curious arrangement of German and
We had brought in Luker, a very excellent man, way back in the 1920s when the upsurge in
enrollment really got under way. Dr. Crow was running a combined department of German
and Spanish. People like Tom [inaudible] were in the German side. Ernest Hankins had
been here for many years by this time. Luker had died very young, and Ernie was the second
chairman in the French Department. Certainly he was the chairman beginning around 1924
I drew Mrs. Crow out as well as I could and gave her what comfort I could. Then I said I was going
to see what was going on. I do not think that Dr. Crow ever came out. So I went [home] and
told Arlene, and we mourned over our supper. I did not know what to do. I recall trying to
get Wilson on the phone and not being able to do so that night, but the next day Arlene and I
both went [to see the Crows]. I said to Mrs. Crow that we should try to get him out and give
him some diversion and perhaps a chance to talk with me if he wanted. That afternoon I
freed myself. It was a nice sunny day. I went to the Crows and took them both on a long
drive on the old road that used to wind along around the prairie and off into the pretty
byroads to the south there in the Micanopy region. Dr. Crow was just frozen tight like a
dead clam and responded in monosyllables when Mrs. Crow and I tried to draw him out.
The very next day Mrs. Crow told Arlene that Mrs. Tigert was shocked and disturbed by a
telephone conversation that she had had with Mrs. Crow that morning and had come to see
her and had given her some reassurance about what was involved. By that time also they
had given her some reassurance about what was involved, and they had called Dr. Crow
back in and had explained what was going on. Very soon after Dr. Tigert asked the board to
approve an informal sort of appointment for Dr. Crow. They commissioned Dr. Crow in
some fashion designated unoffically, though with semiofficial status, as historian of the
University. That was why when Dr. Crow quit teaching he settled into a pretty careful and
scrupulous retraining for quite a while--a year or two.
P: This was certainly a much more dignified way for him to retire than was originally suggested.
R: What happened with Mrs. Tigert was one of the reasons why. Though Dr. Tigert occasionally
stepped on our toes, Mrs. Tigert commanded a great deal of affection and respect among the
better-established members of the faculty who had had the opportunity to get to know her.
Mrs. Tigert called Mrs. Crow that morning to ask her to join in some committee of the
University Womens Club that they had worked on together. Mrs. Crow had blown up in her
face over the phone and began weeping. She said that she did not know why Mrs. Tigert
should want her to do anything when they were telling Charles that he had to go. This was
the first that Mrs. Tigert had heard of it, and she kept Mrs. Crow talking until she found out
that something really tragic had happened. She came right out there within ten or fifteen
minutes and did what she could to reassure Mrs. Crow. No doubt by what she said or
inferred that she was going to talk to [her husband] John about it.
P: The Crows had no children, did they?
R: I think that was one of the obvious reasons why they delighted in entertaining students. When I
went away to graduate school and throughout the 1920s there were other youngsters.
Sometimes the kids were rascals. But if they were fond of them, they had the run of the
house, in a limited way. Perhaps they were not so free and easy as the Farrs, but they were
When I was back here in the summer of 1923 and the summer of 1924, I went on my own expense
up north to work on one of the new courses that Dr. Farr and I were getting going. That is
what became the Introduction to World Literature. There were no books--there was nothing
like it. But we will come back to that.
P: I wonder about the Crows. Did both of them pass away here in Gainesville?
R: Yes. What I was coming to was how fond they were of some of their students and former
students. They were delighted at the news that I was going to be married. I had not had any
opportunity to take her out to meet them, but I had asked for the second semester on leave
for the year 1925-1926, and Arlene and I made our plans. She was under obligation to her
school in Tampa to teach, and there was something that I wanted to get started on again at
the [inaudible] library. So I took the second semester of that academic year off and spent all
of it in Cambridge.
Early in the summer before I went away from here, the Crows, knowing those plans, pointed out to
me that they had renovated and furnished three key parts of that big attic. Dr. Crow was
arranging the front room as a study. They had sealed and finished off and furnished a
bedroom and a bath right across the hall, which gave them a guest room. So they invited me
to come and spend that whole first semester just living in the house with them.
That quickly became a matter of virtually being a member of the family. Within a week I was no
longer dashing up the street here to Ma Ramsey's boardinghouse to get my breakfast.
Instead, I was eating breakfast with Dr. and Mrs. Crow. I planned to make it up to them in
various ways, and I did. For one thing, I taught Dr. Crow to drive a car, and that was
something. I never did teach him to be a good driver, but some people have blocks about
that. By that time, of course, Dr. Crow was sort of aged for a beginner at the wheel of an
automobile. I could also do a good deal that made life pleasant for them. What they did was
just out of pure, personal interest in me. They were extremely nice to me and Arlene, as they
were to a lot of students and the younger people in their own department. That was fairly
common practice then, because we were a fairly small community.
P: Then there was a much closer and warmer relationship between members of the faculty and
R: That is right. Pretty soon afterwards, they got settled in the old president's house over in
Highlands. It was a handsome old place where the Tigerts lived for so many years and
where the Millers lived for the first two or three years of his [presidency, before he died].
P: This is where the Slaughters now live.
R: I do not know about that. That house had been built by Mrs. Parrish. Mr. Parrish went broke,
and they had to dispose of it, so it became the president's house along about 1931 or maybe
earlier. Tigert came in 1928, so it was certainly built by 1930. The Tigerts had originally
lived in the house out on the little narrow rectangle, about 200 yards or more east of the
entrance to [inaudible].
P: Is that the stucco [house].
R: Yes, it was stucco. It was low and had an enclosed big front porch. After they came here in
1938, George and Rhea Fox lived in it for a good while before they bought the small house
that had been Henry Caldwell's house in the Duck Pond. This was just two doors back
toward University Avenue from where Arlene and I lived, so we were close neighbors.
P: I wanted to ask you about Dean Anderson. We have just mentioned him once or twice.
R: I said something about a half hour ago about counting Dr. Crow among the most genuinely
scholarly, in the way that he kept up and carried on his own preparation, and the other two
were Dr. Anderson and Dr. Benton.
Dr. Flint was also extremely clever as a lecturer, and I do not doubt that he was a good director of
individual students doing research, but he was not quite the scholar that these other two men
were. That was indicated by the fact that just as the war was breaking, he simply decamped
from the University and took on some kind of bureaucratic post in Washington. I am a bit
vague about that, so I have been asking some of my classmates to jot down what they
remember about Dr. Flint, and I will hand that on to you. As to why he left, when he left,
and what it was that he did, I have no recollection at all. His family never did live here with
him, though I think that he had a wife and a son. Well, that residence in Washington did not
last long, and he did not live long afterwards.
I think that most of us recognize that Dr. Benton was a strictly demanding kind of teacher, and that
was because of his respect for his own subject matter. Dr. Anderson was not a popular
teacher in any ordinary sense of the word. He was highly revered and completely respected
by a few who recognized the character of his scholarship. We sensed his hidden, quirky
sense of humor which he applied pretty cleverly now and then. In the handling and guidance
of students, which he did single handedly, he did not even have a secretary until...
P: I had the impression of Dean Anderson as being a cold man. I did not know him, but this was the
impression that I got.
R: You had the general impression. He had no social grace about him. He had no disposition for
anything. He seldom went to an academic meeting outside of our own faculty. I recall the
amusement and pleasure with which Dr. Murphree spread the word around to different
people and to some of the younger people like myself that he knew Dr. Anderson intimately
and loved him. Dr. Murphree was in a high good humor one day, and I walked in the west
end of that first floor, above the basement that is in Anderson Hall, and Dr. Murphree was
there chuckling. He said: "I have persuaded Anderson to go to the meeting of the
Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities." I do believe that it was the only time
that he was persuaded by anybody to go to any kind of national or regional meeting. He just
did not do it.
He was deeply but almost imperceptively pleased to have a few good students who would stick with
him. Happily, I was one of two who got next to him. The other was R. P. Terry, the Miami
lawyer who was one of three Board of Control chairmen out of my 1915 class. The earliest
had graduated in law the year before. That was Sutton. But there were three of them in my
1915 graduating class.
P: Who were the other two?
R: Raymond Maguire of [Ocoee, near] Orlando, and Tom Bryant [of Lakeland], who was taking his
law degree. He already had an A.B. two or three years earlier, but he was in the 1915
Getting back to Dr. Anderson and Terry and me, all A.B. students had to have Latin, at least two
years, and Terry and I were in a class that included people like Knowles and Gordon.
Anyhow, there was a fairly good sophomore class into which Terry and I entered our first
year because he had Latin throughout his preparatory school, Georgia Military Academy,
and I in Leon High School. Dr. Anderson was like Dr. Crow: scrupulously careful, not very
stimulating, but obviously conscientious. [He was] a little severe in his grading and his
criticism. You did three hours of recitation a week, and you also prepared a weekly paper
into which you turned English into Latin prose composition. You did the same in the first
year Greek, and in second year Greek, I believe. You did composition, turning it into the
I thought that I was in a large class because my class at Leon High School had been so tiny. But
there were not more than twelve, fourteen, or possibly sixteen in that sophomore Latin class.
The next year, of course, many of those did not continue Latin. As I recall, the junior Latin
class started with four and wound up with three. The third member was another future
lawyer, Newcombe Barrs, from here [Gainesville]. I think he lived out his life in
Jacksonville. But the class was essentially Terry and me, and it was the same story in Greek.
[There were] just two of us in senior Greek and, I believe, in senior Latin, though Barrs may
have been with us in that class too.
P: You mean that we once had a chairman of the Board of Control who was a Latin and Greek
R: Oh, yes. Our [R. P.'s and mine] Latin and Greek studies in high school were paralleled exactly,
except that I had read the Illiad in my senior year, and he had not read that far.
Now, coming back to Dr. Anderson, this is a nice little light on him. That junior year, when we were
essentially the class in Latin and Greek, he continued something that he had pulled on Terry
and me in Greek at the end of the first semester of the year before. In Latin we went ahead
and proceeded in regulation fashion, but Dr. Anderson was along with Dr. Crow and Dr. Farr
when we were admitted, since they were the committee on admission for A.B. students.
Well, there were three or five faculty members who were the committee on regular
admission. It was they who attended to me. He was delighted to have two boys turn
partially sophomores who had had that much Latin and Greek.
Terry and I started out that first year on a kind of informal agreement with him. He said: "I do not
want to admit you right off to sophomore Greek. I think that it would be too much for you."
He had this little beam in his eye and this funny, little muscular quirk here when he was
tickled. He would sort of clamp his jaw, and you would see the little muscle here form a
little [inaudible] in his jaw. Terry and I talked about this quite a lot. We recognized that we
were being put on the spot. You can take a test to be exempt from the course or you can take
the regular course. We had agreed with him that we would try to show him that we were
capable of doing the second-year Greek. To make a long story short, we cleaned up first-
year Greek in three months. That was the kind of flexibility that few people would have
believed that Dr. Anderson had. He let us both set our own pace. We did not realize that at
the time, but we soon recognized what he was doing.
P: But he was a demanding man for his students, wasn't he?
R: Yes. He really put his pencil down on every dot over every i when grading your exams and in
listening to your translation. He not only noted the accuracy but tried to get you to put it into
literate English, and he expressed his judgment of your written composition. The Christmas
holiday then was quite a happy one because Terry and I went away with freshman Greek
under our belts. How Dr. Anderson formalized the credit was his affair, but he did it. So
right after Christmas, before the end of the first semester, we started in on sophomore Greek.
We did the sophomore Greek in the five months that remained. After the beginning of the
second semester we were going to pick up with and finish [inaudible].
The first day in class there were the three of us sitting around, so we eventually moved that class into
his office. The bell rang, and he looked at us for the next assignment. Well, he did not look
at us, but he said, "You boys know what we can do in the next hour. Just go ahead and make
sure that you have read enough to cover an hour--and maybe a little more." That continued
to be the procedure as long as Terry and I were together. So we formed that habit throughout
our junior and senior years: we assigned a long evening, three days a week. Three nights a
week we got together no matter what else went on and prepared ourselves. In the later stages
that was a pretty hefty business, because we would bear down for three and four hours on the
Greek. When we got into senior Greek we were reading some extremely difficult Greek
drama and poetry, including something that drives English translators wild and provokes
endless arguments in the classical journals still as to how you interpret it. It is the great mass
of ancient Greek poetry from all of the dialects, in what is called The Greek Anthology, and
some of it is very fragmentary, especially Sappho. That is what we were biting into. We
read at least one of the major plays--I think we read two of Sophocles, one of [inaudible],
two (certainly one) of Sophocles, and one ofEuripedes.
Curiously, the most modem of the three great tragic writers was the most difficult for us, but that
was one of the sensational plays. Then we tackled some Aristophanes, and that was just
hellish. So we not uncommonly spent at least three and a half hours three nights a week
bearing down, and the other stuff was just like falling off a log. You read English novels and
American poetry with just the little finger of your left hand after you had tied yourself in
knots trying to puzzle out some of that Greek poetry.
P: We have come a long way in the Board of Control from the days when we were administered by a
R: A long time.
P: How did Dean Anderson stack up as an administrator and as dean of the Graduate School?
R: I suppose that he was too unbending, but he surely commanded respect.
P: But did he put the graduate program here at the University on the road?
R: Yes, very definitely, chiefly because he was determined that the scholarship and the coursework,
as far as possible, [be of the highest quality]. He had to give a lot of ground on the thesis and
the early dissertation work because there was a lack of library resources. I think that people
in chemistry and pharmacy and zoology were the earliest [students doing] Ph.D. work, and
that was established while Dr. Anderson was dean. He was dean until 1938. He met the
criteria--at any rate, on paper--of schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Chicago. I think
when you get around to plowing into the graduate school catalogs you will be distressed by
the lack of documentation for the very early stuff, but it is easy to draw the inferences.
I knew personally of the collisions between Dr. Anderson and Dr. Tigert. Dr. Tigert was a sort of
freewheeling, education-trained administrator. To him, I think, a thesis in education was as
fine a piece of scholarship--and probably a damn sight more useful--as a paper on some
erudite topic in Latin literature or the study of frogs in the biology department. I think you
will find that Dr. Tigert had a problem with an old stick-in-the-mud dean who did not want
to open up and loosen things to make it easy for a lot of students to file in here and take
M.A.s in education and M.S.s in education and in agriculture without much being demanded
Dr. Tigert had little or no use for the foreign language requirement. Dr. Anderson was determined
that those should not be destroyed, and there is bound to be some implications in all of that
scrapping. It was conducted decently, but nonetheless it was a real tussle inside the faculty.
Dr. Anderson had his supporters, but Dr. Tigert had his sympathizers too, especially in
people like Dean [James W.] Norman in education. There was nothing [inaudible] as far as I
recall, but there was a lot of sniping back and forth that was fairly polite. The agriculture
people, too, were concerned about getting rid of the foreign language requirement.
P: Was the Graduate School office down at the east end of Anderson?
R: That is right. After Anderson Hall was available--I think that was the second year that I was here,
in the fall of 1914--the College of Arts and Science and the president's office and the
departments of English, history, mathematics, foreign languages, classics, and the dean's
office, along with the registrar's office and the business manager's office, all rattled around
with a glorious lot of elbow room in the new building. They had quite a time of it for a long
stretch, sealing the basement floor which leaked--the floors were covered with water when it
rained. They finally whipped that problem. Meanwhile, the upper floors were quite
adequate. Dr. Anderson's arts and sciences dean's office became the one that you remember
Dr. Simpson occupying. When you began your student days was Dr. Anderson still dean
P: Yes. That was in 1937. He was dean of the Graduate School. Dean Leigh, of course, was dean
of arts and sciences.
R: The college office by that time was over in the chemistry building. What you knew as the
Graduate School office had been for many years, from 1913 until 1932, the arts and sciences
P: Were you close to the Andersons socially?
R: As close as anyone, I suppose. They did not have the kind of social contact that [other] people
[had]. Even the Bentons invited youngsters to the house. I remember having dinner at
Bentons more than once. This was after I had my bachelor's degree and was hanging around
as a graduate assistant and doing a little bit of teaching. A good many of the families had
students in and out of their house, but that did not apply to the Andersons. For one thing,
they were poorer, I suspect, in proportion to their family needs than some of the others, and
they lived a little farther away from the campus, though this was not the reason. They
simply had no disposition apparently to be on familiar or intimate social terms with the
students. Dr. Anderson was, however, always kind and considerate in his handling of the
undergraduate students when he was dean of arts and sciences. He was also a little too strict,
I think, in his interpretation of transfer credit and things of that sort.
P: Red tape?
R: Well, it was not red tape for him. That is why you might disagree with him. But you had to
respect his motives and reasoning. Of course, by the mid 1920s there was enough of an
influx of ill-qualified students of the new variety hell-bent on just getting a degree in order to
make a living and he had quite a war on his hands in trying to maintain standards. But he
had been beaten in a good many of his battles already.
[Let me tell you about] one thing that occurred that I had some knowledge of because it occurred
after I had my A.B. This was along with a number of other boys who were serving as
student assistants or fellows. Mine was in English, and Terry, who stayed a year after
graduation, was an assistant in the psychology lab. The year before that Spessard Holland
had been an assistant in Latin--he taught Latin in the high school that we had here while
finishing his Greek. He came here with an A.B. from Emory and had Latin at Emory, of
course. About 1916 or 1917 the others on the faculty, led by the head of the history
department, [Dr. Luther L.] Bernard, and Dr. Farr, I think, were determined to pry Dr.
Anderson loose from the Latin requirements for a college degree. They beat him on that,
much to his quiet sorrow, because he thought that they were just making a mess out of
college standards. Of course, eventually--and I have been involved with him on this end of
it--decades later it became a real struggle to keep the foreign language requirement in the
college at all, whether it be Spanish, Latin, French, German, or what have you. Especially at
the time of the General College--subsequently called the University College--there was a
group dead set on finishing off the language requirement.
P: We are continuing on the morning of February 18. One of the major personalities that we have
mentioned only in passing is Dr. Murphree, and I do not think that we should get out of the
1920s without talking about him. Talk about Dr. Murphrey as an personality, a person,
educator, and administrator here at the University. When did you first know Dr. Murphree?
R: As a small boy looking at a noted citizen when I was in grammar school in Tallahassee.
P: That is right. The Murphrees were living there.
R: He was on the campus at what was already FSCW.
P: So when you came to the University as a student he was the president?
R: That is right. The older people in the family knew the Murphree family well, and the
Hendersons, of course, into which Dr. Murphree had married in Tallahassee. There has
always been some sort of little family association at home in Tallahassee. My older brother
had come to Gainesville because of Dr. Murphree. He had come here to school in 1909 and
stayed two years. After that he went to business school in Poughkeepsie.
P: How well did you know Dr. Murphree?
R: Do you mean after I came here as a student? I think that I knew him as well as most of the
students did, and rather quickly because he knew then--because of the tiny student body--
everybody on campus. Then, too, I was quickly initiated into his own fraternity, the KAs. I
think I mentioned to you that there could not have been more than fifteen or sixteen at the
time that I was initiated. In the first three or four years that I was here it never climbed to
more than eighteen or nineteen until I was the number-one person in the chapter, and we got
an increase in students, like [inaudible] boys and two or three mature ones, like [inaudible]
from Jacksonville. He hit here about the same time as [inaudible] Knight, who was
prominent here as an Episcopal layman and as a [inaudible] alumnus and in the social and
professional life of Jacksonville. He died only recently, say, two or three years ago. Well,
with that kind of intimacy between young and older students, social life with the faculty was
made much easier. I think that at least once every year that group of us at the fraternity was
entertained at the Murphree house. [inaudible], who was one of the Henderson's cousins; a
boy from Tampa who was a classmate of mine and in that fraternity group; and I used to trot
around the house with him, and he made free with Dr. Murphree's car.
P: Dr. Murphree was a popular president as far as students were concerned?
R: Yes, there was no doubt about that. The older men that you talk to still have a kind of reverential
memories of him. It was justified because he could be very stem and tough. He was a very
good disciplinarian, and I think that all of the students generally agreed.
P: Talking about him as a disciplinarian, I heard reference made to a 48 Club, and I understand that
it emerged out of a hazing incident on campus in which students were caught for hazing
freshmen. Many of these were KAs, and they were caught and dismissed from the
University by Dr. Murphree. Then they formed some sort of a club later on. Do you
remember anything about that?
R: That I do not recall. It could have happened during the years that I was away from here. I was
away quite a lot during the war.
P: Well, it was a story that had to do with a carnival or a fair on campus. This particular group
raised the money that was later used to buy a portrait of Dr. Murphree that had hung in the
[University Memorial] Auditorium. Does this ring any sort of a bell with you at all?
R: No, not at all. I have no recollection of that at all.
P: Do you have any other recollections of him as a disciplinarian, as a stem father figure?
R: My own sense of his fairness and justice was the disciplining that I received as a junior. I was a
senior officer in the [ROTC] company. Sam Ham and I were both lieutenants; Sam was
second lieutenant in the same company. We had a fairly mature man, an agriculture major
by the name of Neil Hainlin, who was the company captain. He worked with the citrus
culture people and was away from campus quite a lot, so I virtually carried the
responsibilities for the company. I got the feeling that I was a little more military than was
quite the custom, so I got along nicely with Colonel [E. S.] Walker, who was then Major
Walker. He got that rank only after the war broke in 1917.
What we all detested was the target practice down in the valley. You shot back toward Newberry
Road, toward that huge precipice of a hill down there where the parking lot for the Medical
Center is now. I became engrossed in my own affairs, and Sam Ham and I both neglected
the target practice after getting pretty well weary of it. We were pulled in before the
discipline committee with Dr. Murphree and the rest of the members of the faculty on
discipline, looking pretty stem. We were given a sufficient number of demerits and given a
caustic warning, which was fair enough. We took a little revenge in the annual the year
after, where you will find 1st Lieutenant, Company C, USA, Retired. Of course, all of the
drilling was over by the time this little disciplinary problem arose, so we had no drill to take
care of. Our duties were done.
Well, that was the kind of student reaction, and we knew it at the time. But it does illustrate what I
am saying. Dr. Murphree did take his student body seriously. He liked people and got along
well with people. The only serious collision that I was aware of was that the faculty had
become a little nervous and resentful of his lack of interest in their salary problems. I was
told by both Dr. Farr and Dr. Crow that they put their heads [together] and held a little secret
meeting or two at their houses and presented Dr. Murphree with a kind of ultimatum, the
result of which was that he did make a move with the Board of Control, and I think they got
some improvement in their salaries.
P: What about Dr. Murphree as a scholar?
R: He had had the reputation--of course, I cannot speak about this with any authority at all--in
Tallahassee of being a good mathematics instructor. This much I think can be said with
certainty, that he loved to teach. I recall that when Dr. [inaudible], the first head professor
of math who was the math department [chairman] when I was a student, died suddenly, there
was a search for a successor which obviously took a good bit of time. The men that I knew
on the faculty chuckled a little over [this] because [in spite of the fact] that at that time the
president's office was pretty strenuous, Dr. Murphree had announced to them that he was
going to teach some of the mathematics. They had to scratch up some hasty help. I had it
told me by Dr. Farr, I guess, because Dr. Farr was vice-president all of that time, that Dr.
Murphee threw up his hands after a month or two and had to give up his sophomore or junior
math that he had assumed the responsibilities for. I think that they had pretty good luck, for
that was when they brought Dr. Simpson in.
P: Was Dr. Murphee, as you remember it, receptive to new programs and new concepts and new
educational philosophies on the campus?
R: Yes. I did not have any chance to observe that sort of thing until I came back as an assistant
professor in 1922. I know that one of the first things that he did was significant. I think it
was the second year (or maybe the third year) that he was here that he went at this
[inaudible] for the first time. The University, small as it was, was organized into the basic
system of colleges. Arts and sciences had not existed as such, and there was no formal
College of Agriculture. It sounds a little bit curious, but I think that you would know [this]
already from your examination of the early catalogs and other material. I remember it as
something that was fairly new, and the faculty was proud of it and saw that he was on the
right track about the organization and the conduct of affairs in a good university. Certainly
that continued, for he was very receptive, I thought, to new needs. He tried to keep abreast
of the times educationally.
P: As you reflect back on your student days here, how much freedom was there? Academic freedom
is very much in the news today. How free was the campus and the classroom?
R: I would say that I spat out what I thought around here all of my life. The faculty in those early
days were in very much the same position in that they felt and acted as quite independent
people. I never was under the impression during the time I was on the faculty from 1922
[that anyone was controlling what I taught in the classroom]. I did take a short leave of
absence in 1925-26, so I had six years of continuous service while Dr. Murphree was still in
office. He encouraged his people, his younger men, to advance themselves, and he was
delighted to have his former students do well and show some competence. He was
especially pleased to have students come back here on the faculty.
P: He was not afraid of inbreeding?
R: As a matter of fact, the only people that I recall that came back very early in the 1920s were
Elmer Hinckley and I. I came back in 1922, and Elmer was already here [in the Department
of Psychology] or came the same year or the following one. I recall talking to Dr. Murphree
the first time that I went into the office to say hello. He was voicing that sort of pleasure. He
said that it was fine for the University to have people like me who had studied here and knew
the University and were navtives of the state to come in on the faculty.
P: Does the Banks case ring a bell with you at all? Dr. [Enoch M.] Banks was head of history and
political science, probably the year before you came here as a student. This is one of the
famous academic freedom cases that is sometimes cited.
R: Well, I can cite you one other instance in which I was told, while away from the campus, that
there was a disposition on the campus. This would have gone back to Dr. Murphree, but I
think more to the Board of Control. There was an effort to suppress activity in the classroom
and outside that was socialistic or a little bit too leftist. The terms were not in use then. But
I was away. I have no recollection of the Banks business.
P: It happened before you came, but I wondered if there had been any repercussions. There was a
head of the history and political science department before Bernard who was ousted because
of sentiments which he had voiced in an article in which he challenged the South's position
in the Civil War and its subsequent treatment of the Negro.
R: There was a little local flurry of amused, gossipy talk, some of it outraged gossip, about an article
in the Florida Historical Society's [Quarterly] that exploded the lovely Tallahassee myth.
My own family knew that this was a myth because I had a very youthful uncle among the
students of the academy on the hill there at Tallahassee who, according to the myth, helped
win the Battle of Natural Bridge. [laughter] You know that story.
P: Yes. I know that story.
R: Well, this other thing I have no recollection of.
P: How about the Simms case? Does that strike a bell at all? He was a sociology man.
R: Very faintly.
P: We are continuing this interview on March 17, 1969. We were talking about Dr. Simms.
R: I probably would have known something about that, but I have now completely forgotten it. All
that I recall is that there was some typical wartime suspicion of him and that he was under
some kind of a cloud.
P: Did you know Dr. Simms?
R: Only faintly.
P: He lived somewhere on East University Avenue, according to the descriptions.
R: I do not recall hearing any talk about him when I came back down here. At that time three years
was a fairly long time.
P: Perhaps a more interesting case and one that would have caused more local comment was the
[L. W.] Buchholz hearing. Does that strike a bell? Dr. Buchholz was accused of being a
German sympathizer during the war.
R: I do not have any recollection of that either.
P: What about William Jennings Bryan's visits to the campus?
R: Let us return to Mr. Buchholz. This is Fritz Buchholz's father you know, and he was much liked
though regarded with some bemused bewilderment because of his manners. His very
appearance, as you know from his photographs, [was remarkable. He had] what seemed to
college boys as an exaggerated amount of beard. By this time practically everybody was
clean shaven or settled for a close mustache like Dr. Crow. In spite of what seems as
peculiarities to youngsters, he was liked and respected and was a close friend of the
P: Dr. Murphree came to his defense.
R: Dr. Murphree respected him. He had brought him here and had shifted him about from one post
to another. He had been distinguished as the superintendent of schools in Hillsborough
County. Pinellas County did not exist as an entity then. My recollection simply sums up to
this. He was a close friend of Dr. Murphree and of the family. And then Dr. Murphree
would have obviously defended his appointment of him and his character, which God knows
would have been sound enough. He seemed a little bit stuffy to me because of his constant
concern with private morals, but he was very sincere, and I know very well that we, my
roommates and I in Thomas Hall, respected him. He was a good influence in that he was not
snooping around, but he was sincerely interested in the boys under his charge, which was his
business for a year or two at least. He was resident counselor or had some formal title of that
kind in the catalog and in the annual. He taught a little of the more elementary mathematics
and eventually wound up as professor of education. Dr. Murphree gave him that title later.
It was after I was done with my undergraduate work.
P: I was getting ready to ask you if you remember Bryan's visits to the campus and if you had had
occasion to meet Bryan.
R: That happened the first year or two after I came back here. I was not in on any of the intimate
gatherings, but I remember Dr. Murphree and Dr. Farr telling me of the pleasure they had
had with Bryan here. One day he had been here planning the campaign to raise the money
for the YMCA building. Incidentally, a great many of us contributed fairly generously to
that fund, which I think I remember was largely lost in a busted bank here in town.
P: It was.
R: The day that I was speaking of they had taken Bryan simply to talk and visit around the locality
and had spent two or three hours sitting on a log on a bank out at the millhopper. But I also
attended an open convocation which was crowded into the space out here beside what was
then the new gymnasium. It is still in use--I think as the girl's gymnasium. Of course, he
paid his debts and, I guess, tried to gain some popularity in the state by promoting Dr.
Murphree as a candidate at the next democratic convention. I heard two of the famous
orators justify their reputations. He was one. Booker T. Washington was the other. And my
memory of hearing Booker T. Washington goes back to when I was just a grammar school
boy. He spoke in what we called the rascal yard, the open square just off the [inaudible],
bordered on the east by the street that borders the capitol grounds on the west. My
grandfather's medical office and where my own father practiced medicine for a while fronted
on that square on the north side. They would erect a little temporary platform for the
speakers. Booker T. Washington was brought into town by the people out at the A & M
college. Some of the Tuskegee people were on the platform, and the audience was largely
all mixed together, Negro and white. I recall that.
P: What about students' reactions to Bryan's attempt to get the University students to take the
R: That I do not remember hearing about at all. Of course, I was very busy with a heavy teaching
schedule and zipping back and forth to Tallahassee. That may have happened before I got
back here in 1922.
P: What about the evolution controversy?
R: Well, everyone followed that from a distance because it was taking place somewhere else.
P: I meant his efforts to get the Florida legislature to enact a statue that would have forbidden this in
the University and high schools of the state. Do you recall any reaction to that?
R: Not a thing. I must have had a very cursory interest in that.
P: Another area that I wanted to ask you about is the Father Conoley situation. Do you remember
Father [John] Conoley as the priest who was in charge of Crane Hall and was in charge of
the Masqueraders at the time that James Melvin was the star?
R: That is right, and Agot Jones was one of the chorus girls.
P: There was a lot of controversy about Father Conoley. Do you remember that?
R: Only as something off in the distance which I never got around to finding much about.
P: One of the things that bothered a lot of people was that Father Conoley was a Catholic, and he
was given entree onto the campus as a priest. In the records I have come upon this
R: I think that the anti-Catholicism may have been overplayed by a very vocal people. You know
what really caused his removal?
R: Okay. Before that I was aware because of my cursory intimacy with a lot of the boys in the KA
fraternity, like Edgar Jones, John A. Murphree, and soon after Waddie Murphree. I also
knew quite a number of the people who were studying law and have since become judges
and whose names are still known around the state, and others in my classes who lived on
campus, but especially among the type of students who promoted theatricals and who did a
lot of partying and a lot of off-campus politicing. That priest was a very popular figure,
extremely well liked by the students. I knew him when I saw him and could exchange a
hello on the street, and that was about all. I picked up no gossip myself directly from the
students. I think that the students were quite generally unaware of his trouble.
P: Really? What I was getting at was not the nature of his peculiarities but the feeling of
anti-Catholicism which was, of course, typical of southern communities in the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries. There was a resurgence of the KKK [Ku Klux Klan]. There have
been stories circulated through the years about Dr. Murphree's own anti-Catholic feelings
and the fact that there were no Catholics on the faculty as a result of his own prejudice. This
is really what I was getting at. I was using the Conoley [affair] as sort of a target.
R: That may have been, but I was not conscious of any great to-do about that sort of thing.
P: I remember that Dr. Leake told me once that there were some known KKK members on the
faculty in the 1920s. He did not name them. On second thought, I think that he did. It may
have been that Waugh was one of the names that he gave me, but I have forgotten. Yes, it
R: I do not remember a Waugh. In the 1920s the general faculty was still a very tiny outfit. The first
two or three years, and maybe throughout the whole time that he was still living, Dr.
Murphree used to hold general classroom meetings in my classroom, which was that corer
room on that second floor--the southeast corer toward the law school. There were two or
three large handsome pines out there, two of which while I was in that quarter were
destroyed by lightening. One of them was hit one day while I was teaching class.
P: But there was none of this kind of feeling of prejudice that you remember?
R: I think I would now remember it if there had been.
P: Do you feel that this is a false accusation made against Dr. Murphree?
R: Oh, no. I think that it is easy for a great many people to exact the gravity or the amount of
prevalence of that sort of thing. Obviously, there are plenty of people--and they are on the
faculty right now, and I could name some--that were active until very recently. I had a good
many snide remarks made to me from the direction of the C-3 office because I had brought
back a second time to the campus a distinguished Catholic laymen onto the English faculty.
That is R. B. Williams. But the real reason is not so much his Catholicism. That is not why
Wiese took pot shots at him every chance he got. It was because he did not subscribe to all
of the General College philosophy, especially as it applied to the standards in C-3. As long
as the General College existed, R. B. [Williams] was appalled and scandalized, and he could
be very brutally blunt and outspoken and did not give a damn or care who he was talking to.
If he thought so and so, he said so. He had expressed himself as I have about the outrageous
nonsense of running a freshman English class where a man can fail--literally dismally fail--in
his written composition and yet get as high as a C and maybe a B in the course as a whole.
That is something for Alice in Wonderland.
P: So this criticism was not as a result of any religious prejudices. I want to jump ahead and ask
about another situation, and that was the attempt on the part of two legislators around 1928
or 1929, Tatum and Pretcher. I do not know much about that situation.
R: I still have in my papers information that you will find somewhere in the library records or
elsewhere. I will have to dig around and systematize what little bit I have left of that kind of
relic. But I have a copy of the list of books that pair wanted to have prescribed. I chuckle
again, as many of us did at the time, about the length of the list. It was so brief. They were
so damned ignorant. One of them was a prominent Baptist layman up in Tallahassee. I have
forgotten who the other one was. There was quite a to-do when they made recommendations
to the legislature, wasn't there?
P: Yes. They were in the legislature.
R: Anyhow, part of this occurred when I was away. But somebody afterwards over at the library
gave me a list of the stuff that they demanded should be excluded. I think that at the time
Miss Miltmoore was the librarian, and she had to pick up the copies. I do not think that that
list had more than about eight or ten [books on it].
R: [George Bernard] Shaw's plays.
R: No. Just one, as I recall--Madame [inaudible]. Of course, that would have involved any
anthology of Shaw. There was not a complete edition of Shaw at the time. [Floyd H.]
Allport's Social Psychology is another title that sticks in my memory from that list. But it
was amusingly short. The comment, of course, was that we could have made that list ten
times as long for him in ten minutes if they had consulted the right people at Tallahassee and
P: Did this fit in with Miss Miltmoore's own philosophy?
R: To some extent, it did I think. She was kind of a female martinet, of course. No doubt she had
the strict sense of the moral obligation of the librarian. But it did not cause any real
difficulty. In addition to a good deal of [inaudible] on Dr. Farr's part, at least at first, until he
saw how things were going, I created for students who I was intimate with, and who
clamored to me about doing this, that, and the other, a course in modem fiction--the modem,
contemporary novel. I defined contemporary to include The Way of All Flesh. Then a
course in contemporary drama came next. This brought in the need for Shaw. In summer
school, about 1928, I taught a course in contemporary poetry, which went with a bang and I
had my classroom crowded out. There were fifty-odd people on the roll who began and
completed that course. Those courses included people like the first chancellor of the State
University System. His name was on at least two of those roles.
The first two of the novels courses I had conducted at our house, which was an apartment on Church
Street way over in east Gainesville. The boys would sit around on the floor when the chairs
gave out. There were twenty-five or twenty-six in that class. That gave me plenty of
chances to be concemed--and I do not recall that I needed to be much concemed--about what
few items were on that list. They did not cause us any trouble.
Very soon afterwards the [stock market] crash came, and Matting and I were passing the hat for ten
cents apiece from our students to buy books for our courses. Matting chuckled over there a
few weeks ago when he was around at the house to eat supper with us.
P: Tell me about your world literature [class], which was really something of an innovation, as I
understand it, at the time.
R: Oh, yes, it was indeed. We helped to start the wave that pretty soon afterwards--I mean, the next
decade, or by the late 1930s--swept over the country.
P: You say "we"?
R: Dr. Farr and I. When I was engaged to come back in 1922, I had gotten off the train heading
home to Tallahassee. I had already accepted the job, and Dr. Farr had--this was in late June,
so he was already at home with his father and step-mother at Union, South Carolina--driven
up to Greenville or Spartenburg. I was on a southern train from New York to Atlanta, and
then from Atlanta I caught GS&F down to Tallahassee. I got off the train at Spartenburg or
Greenville and had a couple of hours before I had to catch the next train which would take
me into Atlanta. We discussed what my teaching duties would be for the next year.
By this time we were getting a wave of college attendance following World War I, which was not as
spectacular as but was just as sure-footed as the one in 1948, 1949, and 1950. Also, as you
are well aware, everybody taught an enormous number of class hours in those days. Fifteen
hours was regarded as the regular thing, except in the law school. They already had very
nice little felt-padded parlors. I am pretty sure you could find that Dean [Harry R.] Trusler,
Clifford Crandall, and Steve Young, who was assistant of law and who I knew pretty well in
1915-1916 when I was on the Student Board of Athletics and that sort of thing, taught six,
seven, and occasionally eight hours. But there was not too much envy of them among the
rest of the faculty because I had seen, for instance, how much people like Knowles and
Kitridge and Fred Norris Robinson and all of the top figures at Harvard taught as well as
taking care of a fairly large handful of graduate students engaged on doctoral dissertations
and the like.
Anyhow, I was to teach seventeen hours this first year because of the new movement in the faculty.
The science people had insisted on having two more prescribed hours of science in the
freshman year. This was biology and chemistry and physics especially. And the A.B.
people said, "Well, you can do that, but we are going to have two hours prescribed for our
students too in the freshman year." So with that compromise students were confronted with
that business and had to take not the usual three hours but five hours in the freshman year.
Well, all A.B. students had to take five hours of English, and each of the departments--at any
rate, on the A.B. side of the college--had a little problem to solve: "What shall we do with
this gift of two extra hours?"
That new regulation about the curriculum was going to go into effect this first year that I was going
to be teaching. Dr. Farr told me that he and my predecessor, Beck, and Dr. Anderson had
simply to give a streamlined two-hour introduction to English literature, just as a holding
action. We would see what to do after having time to do more adequate planning. Well, I
mentioned right then to Dr. Farr that I should think that Dr. Anderson and he should be
concerned about the diminution of interest in Greek and Latin in the college.
As I mentioned last time, Dr. Farr, I am sure, was working with [Luther L.] Bernard in history as the
principal proponents for it, and with some [inaudible] from Dr. Anderson the Arts and
Science faculty had voted out the requirement of two years of Latin for the A.B. way back
around 1916. I knew from at least one visit with Dr. Anderson when I passed through on my
way back from Christmas to Tallahassee in 1921 that Greek was just about nonexistent and
Latin was getting thinner by the hour. So I had raised the question to Dr. Farr about--if Dr.
Anderson did not frown on it--trying some classic literature and translation. He said, "Where
the hell would you get the books?" I said, "I do not know. But we might think about this."
And we did. We began thinking and talking about this early in the fall when I got settled
here, and we avalanched with pretty heavy classes.
By that time Dr. Farr and other departments were having instructorships added. Hathaway may have
been teaching some English and some Spanish. Anyhow, we had some help and more the
next year or two. Certainly by 1926 Gene [inaudible] was an instructor, and we added a
youngster by the name of Petersen who subsequently went to Rutgers and stayed there.
Well, the planning of this business was a matter for Dr. Farr and me. We hammered out
some outlines and discussed what could be done if we could find the books. That was a real
question because the library appropriations were extraordinarily small. In parenthesis I will
add that it was not until 1928 that the legislature appropriated a library allocation of $10,000
for the entire University. I remember that figure because I had the delightful privilege of
spending the English department's share of it. I did it with lists and order plans in the kitchen
of the old Graham house where I lived temporarily after coming back after Dr. Murphree's
Coming back to the book problems, it was a very knotted one. I was going to spend much of the
summer back at Harvard. Anyway, in the summer of 1923, the end of my first year, it was
understood that I would stop in New York and talk to the publishers and the book dealers
and do the same when I got to Boston. So I went ahead and made out a very logical outline
which both Dr. Farr and I picked up from such things as the very popular [H. G.] Wells
History of the World, which was followed within a few years by general overview books like
[John] Drinkwater's Outline of Literature. We began with topics such as the origin of
language, the origin and growth of the alphabet, early Oriental thought in literature, such as
in Egypt and Babylonia, the psychology of language (Dr. Enwall would come over and
harangue our classes on that one). Once that was squared away we began with a unit on
pre-Greek, Oriental literature.
P: Where did you get the books?
R: I will tell you. They launched off on Greek and then Latin literature. I took the responsibility for
the lectures and for all of the Greek and Latin syllabi. Dr. Farr was to pick up then with all
of the Medieval and Renaissance, and we confidently expected to get up to the seventeenth-
century writers or the late sixteenth-century writers like Cervantes. But we really counted on
winding up with the full follow-up of late Renaissance literature. As a matter of fact, we
were doing this thing just staying ahead at the most by one week, and I was sometimes
proofreading the typesetting in the little corer room in the basement of Anderson [Hall]
where this work was being done. We would get out the sheets just in time to get them to the
P: You had arranged, then, to have a syllabus published?
R: We were publishing a syllabus for each lecture period.
P: In other words, you had made this arrangement in neither New York or Boston.
R: Meanwhile, during that summer, when I got to New York in late June, I went to see the people at
Scribner, at MacMillan, at Cambridge Press, and two or three of the old book dealers and so
on. I did the same sort of thing over at Boston. I turned up two or three very inadequate
anthologies that could act as a stop-gap on some of the Greek and Latin. We pieced out by
very careful expenditure translations of individual titles. We did this with individual titles
that we did not have to have many copies of because there were only two sections. I think
that we had about sixty students that first year, thirty in each section. Anyhow, we made do.
The amusing part about it was that as we got engrossed and found the students taking it very well,
we slowed down the pace from what we had assumed would be possible to include more and
more of the Greek and Latin literature than I had originally had in the design. Here was
another thing. Dr. Farr was supposed to do his part of the syllabus for the Medieval end of
the business while we were teaching the first semester, and he still had not done his syllabus.
We still had plenty of rich material in Latin literature. The upshot was that we got to the
Medieval sections just before the mid-way part in the second semester, and the course and
the syllabus stayed that way for the next eight or ten years. But it was a successful course.
I think that I mentioned to you that when I talked to the people in New York, even they did not know
what was going on right under their noses at Columbia. I found this out years later. But at
Boston talking to the people at Little Brown and the Atlantic Monthly Press they said, "This
is an interesting idea that you have. We know of a man out at Dartmouth who is trying the
same thing this year." I said, "What is he doing about his reading?" They said, "Well, that is
a pretty well-read student body. I do not think that he has to worry about that problem." But
they understood that we needed it, since we had to supply the books and supply the reading
P: Was yours, then, the first syllabus in the country?
R: It was the first syllabus that I knew anything about. The other venture of this kind was a far more
vested and far more influential kind of thing, and that was John Erskine's Great Books
course. His were for mature, selected students.
P: But yours really preceded Erskine's?
R: As part of a regular academic scheme, yes. I think that when we were cooking this up Erskine
had already been teaching that course. Within another year or so he busted out as a
bestseller with Helen of Troy. I can tell you some about the academic effects on him, his
feelings, and his career.
P: Before we close here this morning, I wanted to ask you about the impact of Dr. Murphree's
sudden death on the campus and the transition to Farr [as interim president] and then to
[John J.] Tigert.
R: I think that you have already read quite a lot that would give you the sense of the jilt that it
produced and the temporary disarray in which, in my impression, the administration of the
University fell. What was involved was a good bit of pulling and hauling about who would
be his successor.
P: No one was aware that Dr. Murphree was in poor health at all.
R: No. It just happened.
P: Do you think that he had ever fully recovered from the loss of Mrs. Murphree?
R: I did not know enough of their family affairs to have paid attention to that.
P: But he died in his sleep.
R: I think so. News [of the death] was, of course, in the northern papers, and we picked it up in the
Boston Transcript and the Herald before I had any word from anybody down here. Arlene
and I were living in a nice little apartment on the second floor, which was very convenient
because it was literally only two or three minutes' walk from the west gateway to the yard at
Harvard. A nice Texan was running a New England grocery store right up that first comer.
It was a lovely place to be, and we were having a beautiful time, though I was working hard
at the library. Arlene and I got letters about it first from Tallahassee from my mother and my
aunt. The first notice that I had that I can recall, because it was so jilting to me and my
plans, was a tremendously long letter from Dr. Farr. It said that he was serving as acting
president since he was vice-president. He said that enrollments were up, and he found it
impossible to continue to do full-time teaching and run the president's office, and he asked
me if I could come home. He had already discussed this with the Board of Control, and they
had approved offering me a higher salary to make up for it. Obviously, that was something
that I had to do. As soon as I could close out things I left. We paid rent in two places for a
This was the second semester, and I got here in time to pick up classes without any loss on the
students' part. But it meant an awful lot of expensive hurry up there in Boston. We came
home on an extra-fare train which was mighty near made up by the concert tickets to
Symphony Hall in Boston and theater tickets that Arlene had turned in. The theater agency
that I had credit with was nice. You could just pick up the phone and get good seats on short
P: The good old days.
R: That is right. Well, I do not remember very clearly. We juggled the course offerings a little bit.
Dr. Farr must have continued to teach something, but I do not remember what.
P: He continued as chairman of the English department?
R: Oh, yes. I was simply buried in a mass of classwork until summer came. It was understood in
advance that I would pick up and go back to Harvard, which I did, for the summer. Then
what happened afterwards just about put a stop to what I was doing. That was the third vital
P: Was there great disappointment on Farr's part in not getting the presidency?
R: I think there was, but it was well concealed. He had built up in part human nature. But my
impression is still strong that there was quite a lot of encouragement for him directly--
quietly, but directly--on the part of interested alumni who were great enthusiasts of Dr. Farr's
qualities as an educator.
P: Why did the board not select him?
R: I want to pin down a few details that I certainly do not feel that I ought to talk about until I know
them a little bit more securely. I do not hesitate to say what my impression is of what was
going on. As I recall the hassle about the succession to the presidency was bitterly
exacerbated by the fact that Mr. P. K. Yonge, who by that time had been chairman of the
board for some time, wanted to put a young kinsman of his into the presidency. Some of the
men still very active around here or in nearby towns like Jacksonville and Tampa formed a
kind of informal alumni to combat that business. They more or less made Ralph Stoutamire,
willingly, a front man for the business. They wrote letters and stirred up quite a lot of protest
against what they understood the board meant to do. And that was not so much in opposition
to Mr. Yonge and the appointment of a kinsman as it was, I think, an effort to make sure not
only that that kind of a political move was not allowed to go through but in part because they
wanted to push Dr. Farr's cause. It was in effect a protest action to get Dr. Farr for president.
P: In your opinion do you think that the board reacted against this kind of pressure and said no to Dr.
Farr because the alumni were pushing?
R: That is right. And on the part of Mr. Yonge, one or two of these alumni felt at that time that Mr.
Yonge was revengeful. I recall one of them telling me so. I can name two or three of the
people who ought to remember the details. One who is conspicuous is Ralph Dunbar. He
was discharged by Dr. Tigert because everybody who knew about it felt that it was Mr.
Yonge's revenge on Stoutamire. Stoutamire right now will tell you that he had reasons of his
own for getting out of his job as publicity man for the University.
There is another person who was involved with that, but I have not had a chance to talk with him.
Let me talk with him before you do if you have not already interviewed him. That is
P: You go ahead on that.
R: I do not know if they enlisted Spessard Holland on that or not.
P: The fact is that Dr. Farr had acquitted himself capably as vice-president.
R: Rex Farrior [Sr.] in Tampa was another one of those men. I think that Phil May [Sr.] in
Jacksonville was another. Anyhow, there was quite a toss-up. Oh, very definitely Raymond
Maguire in Orlando. Now, I have never talked to him about this. I never had any motive to.
We were out of touch for a long while during the 1930s. He came up for all sorts of things,
and there never was any opportunity to talk about such things. We had forgotten about it by
the time that he came here for leisure. He always came to our house after Homecoming and
after the [Florida] Blue Key Banquet and after the football game on Saturday night. He
would come with his first wife while they were still married and later in the 1950s with his
third wife, the doctor, until his death. Now, I have never quizzed Raymond. But two people
that I would like to talk to about this episode and see if I could pin down something a little
more factual than what Ralph Stoutamire has given me would be Clayton [Edward] and Rex
[Farrior]. He was one of those who contributed to the effort by letters, at any rate. So I
really do not know very much more than what I just told you. It is not a very precise history.
There was, of course, by that time a pretty hefty crowd of alumni scattered all over the state,
and there were still young middle-age men who were making their mark on the state.
P: In that they were such a strong political factor, it is surprising that the board bucked them, isn't it?
R: Well, Mr. Yonge had the reputation of being a very, very strong-willed old man and one who
carried strong-willed character into his own household. There were stories of his having
been at outs for an indefinitely long period of time with his wife. One of the tales that we
were told here back in the 1930s was that Mr. Yonge and his wife did not speak to each
other, though for family decency they met at the family table for breakfast, lunch, and
dinner, and that when Mr. Yonge wanted something which was out of his reach at his wife's
end of the table he would ask one of the children, "Julien, would you ask your mother to pass
so and so?" No, it was, "Julien, ask Mrs. Yonge to pass..."
P: This must have been a crushing blow to Dr. Farr.
R: Yes, it was. It really destroyed him in a way.
P: He had handled himself very well up until that time.
R: The only thing that he was interested in doing after that, as long as I knew him and had any
awareness of what sort of private life he was living, was his bridge. That became a sort of an
obsession with him. He got on the outs with me because I would not go and play at these
outrageously long sessions of duplicate bridge. I was a good player, and he was a pretty
good player. I do not think that he was as good as several of us who were in that group for
awhile. The best player in this town and one of the best players in this country--he won
prizes in it because that was the heyday of bridge--was Terrell [inaudible]. He was back here
on a long tour as an ROTC officer. Terrell was a whiz, and he and I both finally severed
from Dr. Farr and his bridge playing cronies because they were overdoing it. The last time I
was around that kind of thing we played twenty-four hours, and I got back to my room at 3:
00 or 4: 00 in the morning and had an 8: 00 A.M meeting. I could not take that. That was
just before I was married, and I was obviously not going to continue that kind of thing both
as a busy teacher and married man.
I felt very sorry about that business. It did not show on the surface. As you say, he had
distinguished himself as a very able and accomplished vice-president. I know some of the
reports to the Board of Control for transmission to the legislation. I saw myself as a student
assistant, editing some of the manuscript as Dr. Farr produced it. And when there was some
key move on to get something really effective done in the legislature, he did much of the
paperwork for Dr. Murphree. Dr. Murphree knew that he [Farr] could write, that he had a
keen, sharp-edged mind and that he could do it better than he [Murphree] could. I would
guess that if you had had a Harris poll in the 1920s Dr. Farr's popularity among the former
students and graduated alumni of this University would have been so far out in front of
everybody else that they would have been out of sight to the rear. Farr was more popular
with more former students than Dr. Murphree, though Dr. Murphree was a kind of a popular
hero with the alumni.
P: Dr. Tigert never leaned on Dr. Farr to the same degree that Dr. Murphree had?
R: Dr. Tigert was a little suspicious of Dr. Farr's motives and so on, but Dr. Tigert was a very nice
man down underneath and had good feelings. I had a good deal of distaste for Dr. Tigert in
the early years. The longer I lived in the building with him and the closer I got, the more
respect and liking I had for him.
P: Was this perhaps because of your feeling of allegiance and loyalty to Dr. Farr and so on?
R: No, it was quite separate from that I am sure.
P: Okay. Now we will continue with our interview. We were talking about the failure on the part of
Dr. Farr to become president of the University after Dr. Murphree's death, after having
served as acting president. Obviously, this was something that Dr. Farr wanted and failed to
get. I would like to press a little bit into what you think this did to Dr. Farr. I believe you
wanted to make a statement about your view of this whole situation.
R: Sam, the difficulty for me is that I had taken a extended leave of absence beginning the second
semester of 1926-1927, in other words, the spring semester of 1927. I had come back and
been married during the summer. We spent a happy and very hectic and busy year in
1926-1927. Did I get my years right? My first leave was for the second semester of the year
1925-1926. We were married in the summer of 1926. I stayed on throughout 1926-1927.
But I actually was supposed to have twelve months leave.
P: Let me see. Didn't Dr. Murphree die December of 1926?
R: No, 1927. We had gone north in June 1927, and that is when I began my twelve months'
absence. After stopping with friends in New York, we settled in Boston, found a very
convenient apartment, and settled down happily there, and I spent most of my time at the
treasury room at the library. We formed some interesting friendships, including two
Plympton sisters, first cousins of the New York banker who was quite a connoisseur of old
books and had formed a still-famous collection of Medieval material and textbooks. The
news of Dr. Murphree's death hit us like a ton of bricks.
P: I think you said that someone had wired you.
R: Something had gone wrong after Christmas. I do not remember precisely how the news came. I
think we got it in the newspapers first, and then letters had told us more about the
circumstances of the death of Dr. Murphree. I sat out wondering a month or so after his
death, when one day a long, long telegram came from Dr. Farr saying that he [Murphree]
had died as active president and that the situation was impossible. Of course, he could have
gone to the department, which was already overloaded at that time with the wave of postwar
enrollments and would have been swelling all the decade of the 1920s. He asked me if I
could break off my work right there and come back. This was just before the Board of
Control had sanctioned this request and supported it by the offer to advance my raise in rank
and a modest increase in salary through a long period, although I do not know precisely
what. So as quickly as I could get squared away up there, my wife and I turned in quite a
quantity of tickets to plays and musical events, especially concerts at Symphony Hall. This
paid most of our fare on an extra-fare train, and we left as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Farr had looked about the town with Mrs. Pruitt for that which was already hard to
get--a decent place to live. A small apartment is what we needed and wanted. Before we got
here they had found a place at Mrs. Graham's office at the Masonic temple on Main Street,
from which on the porch of the house we used to watch the trains go by. We found
ourselves very happily situated. It was an easy walk from the campus and so very
convenient from our point of living.
Well, I plunged in, acting as chairman of the English department, finding out what little I could of
what had occurred so far as the board's action was concerned. This ties up rather vaguely in
my memory, Sam, as I was too busy to kick people. My impression is strong, however, that
Dr. Farr suddenly wanted the appointment, but there was a hitch in the Board of Control with
subsequent information that Ralph Stoutamire primarily brought out that Mr. P. K. Yonge
wanted to appoint a kinsman of his. Also, remember that Dr. Farr's popularity was quite
strong with activist groups among the alumni. With Ralph Stoutamire serving as a kind of
liaison man, they stopped the bar movement of Mr. Yonge, and that led into the
unwillingness of the board. Perhaps it was impossible for Dr. Farr then to be appointed,
because as long as Mr. Yonge was chairman of the board he was not inclined to go along
P: Do I gather that Mr. Yonge felt that Farr was part of this anti-Yonge movement?
R: You have to assume that. Certainly Dr. Farr must have been fully aware of the activity of the
group of alumni, including those in Tampa, in Orlando, and right here. Irvin Clayton was
one of them. I have not talked with him, but I wanted to do a little article about Ralph for
this collection of sketches, and I want it to be accurate. Now, Ralph tells me most recently
that efforts of the alumni were certainly not directed at making Dr. Farr the appointee but to
stop the paternalistic appointment of an unknown and possibly an ill-equipped appointee of a
P: And on the other hand, Yonge thought that this is what the alumni had in mind.
R: Sam, this nearly was the inevitable residue of many things that people are so quick to forget, but
everybody assumed that the move was not only to prevent the appointment that Yonge
wanted to make--that was the first step--but was in preparation for seeing to it that Dr. Farr
got the appointment. I think that was the general assumption everywhere.
P: But are you saying that Stoutamire now says that this is not true?
R: Ralph told me when I talked to him that the intentions were not so much to see that Dr. Farr was
appointed as they were to prevent P. K. Yonge getting his way with the appointment of a
kinsman. I think it was a nephew of Mr. Yonge's. He was out in Texas and quite unknown
in this area. How that checks with the information that you may have yet to obtain, I do not
know, but that is what I can dredge up out of my recollection.
All that occurred at the end of that second semester after Dr. Murphree's death, as I recall. When I
went north for the summer to resume my reading up there I do not think an appointment had
been made. It must have been during that summer, then, that we got the news first in the
papers, and then the item in the Boston papers was drawn to our attention by people in the
apartment. Otherwise we would have missed it. Then I came back again at the end of the
summer. We were struggling with the rise in the enrollment, for the depression had not hit
yet. What I gradually became aware of was a very carefully controlled opposition between
Dr. Farr and Dr. Tigert. But that came out only after a year or two. Both men certainly were
highly respected. At the time Dr. Farr was very guarded in his bearing toward Dr. Tigert and
toward me, and suddenly I was probably as intimate with him as anyone else on the faculty.
P: Did he ever reveal his disappointment over this to you?
R: Not in so many words, but it was a deep-down disappointment, and obviously that also carried
some resentment toward those who had displaced him.
P: What about Mrs. Farr? She was an outspoken woman.
R: She did not speak with her usual abandon. As I recall, she had been very unwisely vocal in her
early years, especially at the time or about the time when the war ended, when I was
finishing up my master's work and getting squared away. She would very unwisely gossip
with the older students who were on friendly terms with the family and who were in the
house for dinner and things like that. I cannot recall that she talked very much about the
Tigerts, but I am speaking of what I was directly exposed to. I would just assume that she
popped off quite a bit with people that she felt at ease with.
Later on, I mean, three or four years after he [Tigert] had come and been settled, he talked to me
himself about people key in the earlier faculty. One was Dr. Farr, and the other was Dr.
Anderson. Dr. Anderson had his stubbornness too. It was not easy to move them in new
directions, and both of them were rather outspoken in private with me about their suspicions
of Dr. Tigert's plans and purposes in the year or two when the formation of the General
College was in question. Dr. Tigert I know looked to the leading faculty in the [College of]
Arts and Science to try to set up some kind of modification of the existing program for the
general student's and continuing until the second or sophomore level, I imagine. But he had
some opposition in the persons of Dr. Farr and Dr. Leigh. Dr. Leigh was a very outspoken
opponent of Dr. Tigert for setting up some kind of modified and looser program in the
establishment. Still, it may seem curious to you that I was not taken very much into their
confidence. They seemed to step out now and then with a hostile statement about the
direction that Dr. Tigert was going in. So much came to my ears of that sort that I wished
and told them that they were being very unwise not to try to cope with Dr. Tigert's ideas--
that they should at least make some signs of compromising to prevent any kind of complete
P: Let me get back. This leads up to the organization of the general education program here. This is
what you are talking about now. I want to ask you again about the Farr thing before we
leave it, and I think we can in a minute or so. What do you think this did to Dr. Farr's
personality as a man and a teacher?
R: I think that it affected him in two or three ways. It was all cumulative in the first place. I think he
became lazier about his own first-line concerns. I think he had to take refuge in rather trivial
recreation. Meanwhile, he had already become quite an addict at the bridge table. He began
about the time of Dr. Murphree's death to become more and more addicted to bridge playing,
so much so that even in years before I went to Harvard--in the first year of my marriage--I
just had to cut myself off from the group which included some of the best bridge players in
town, especially E. S. Walker, who was not yet a colonel (he was a major) in the ROTC
officers staff and was a very reliable person. He was the very best bridge player in the
community. He often dealt with the tidal wave of bridge players that swept the country in
the second half of the 1920s, and we began to get the columns by various bridge players and
experts. Dr. Farr became part of bridge table team. He wanted to play every night; he
wanted to play for endless hours. I could not see it.
P: Mrs. Farr did not share this tremendous enthusiasm?
R: No, she was not interested. She played a haphazard game. She was not in this crowd. This was a
men's group. It involved an increasing number of hours because Dr. Farr [became obsessed
with it]. What showed his absorption was the steady increase in the number of playing
boards. Most of us did not care for a straight-away bridge game. We played different.
Instead of playing a large number of boards one evening we usually would backtrack the
following week or even two weeks later. The lapse of time sharpens the character of the
bridge playing, and you forget the boards. Dr. Farr was so absorbed in this, got so much
satisfaction from bridge playing, that instead of playing a normal number of boards in one
evening he would start gradually persuading his fellow players to step up the number. I
recall one long night when I think forty-eight boards were played. As a result, I got back to
my house at the Eslinger place--this was before my marriage--at about 4: 00 in the morning,
and I had not even gotten class together. So my departure for that one semester, in the
second semester of the year 1925-1926 and my marriage in the summer of 1926, in addition
to increased committee and other departmental affairs, gave me just what I needed. I had not
cut myself out of that yet.
P: Dr. Farr continued as vice-president under Tigert, didn't he?
R: That is right.
P: So he still had a lot of administrative responsibility. But perhaps some of this was being
neglected a bit.
R: I think the fact was that maybe [he proceeded] without any motion on his part, and Dr. Tigert was
less and less inclined to call on him as he became more and more conscious toward the end
of the 1930s. He was running into opposition, quiet but steady, from key people in the
College of Arts and Sciences [like] Dr. Leigh, Dr. Anderson, and Dr. [inaudible]. Now,
those three I am sure of. There may have been others, but those were the ones that I was
aware of and sympathized with myself. To me, Dr. Farr, Dr. Anderson, and Dr. Leigh, it
was pretty obvious that Dr. Tigert, with his education background and with the impetus
given by the quick movement of a more heavily vocational bent in all schools in the United
States, was going to pitch out the baby with the bath and have no liberal arts program left at
P: Had Farr resumed his chairmanship of the English department?
R: Oh, yes, but the first move he made after Dr. Tigert's arrival was to set up a sort of
subadministration of the freshman program, and that became my favorite responsibility. Dr.
Farr would look in on it but only in a very casual way, only if something might have
happened that he thought should not be going on. I had a lot of professional association with
Dr. Farr. I had to, because I pulled him in on all the staff meetings that I could get him to
attend. He and I had agreed very early after he had set me up as chairman of freshman--it
was pretty obvious even to him--that we could not maintain the old type of freshman English
course. We were just not getting well-enough educated freshmen entrants from the high
schools, and the numbers were already a great problem. The sections were much too large,
and they had every instructor fully loaded, so we cut down on the amount of writing.
We finally arrived at something I did with great reluctance, and that was to ditch that famous old
Genung rhetoric, which was the last classical type of grammar all the way from Horace and
Aristotle through Medieval rhetoric and Renaissance rhetoric to the eighteenth century and
earlier nineteenth-century revolutions. Much of the terminology and much of the basic
rhetorical principles which are also oratorical were in edited and simplified form in the
famous rhetoric widely used for many years throughout the United States until around 1890,
I guess, certainly up to around 1920. This was written by a man who had been a professor of
rhetoric at Amherst, as I recall.
P: How successful do you think your freshman course was?
R: It did a good job. But we made a great mistake in ditching Genung's rhetoric. That was throwing
out the baby with the bath. I did not want to do that. I proposed to Dr. Farr first that he
maintain a system of classification for the incoming freshmen, giving them simple tests and
grouping at least one or two sections of the better students and letting them continue.
P: Sort of an honors kind of a program?
R: Yes, a new type. Looking back on it now, there are other things that could have been used. The
new type of rhetoric, which had begun by 1926-1927, was what I suggested. We had to
handle a larger number of incoming freshmen, and I had good help selecting them from
people who were good teachers. By that time Farris was here, and we had two or three
excellent young instructors in teaching composition. Dean [Robert A.] Mautz was one of
them, and he was good.
What I proposed to Dr. Farr was to have what you call a control section continuing the use of the old
Genung with a little better coordinated series. Dr. Farr said this struck him as an
impossibility. He could not imagine two different kinds of freshmen in the University.
P: Every freshman had to take this freshman English course, whatever his background and where
ever he came from?
R: Dr. Farr did back me up handsomely and with easy success in the [Faculty] Senate. I was not a
member of the senate until the year when I was given my professorship, the year following
my return here.
P: Was this what they built into the General College?
R: What they did there was a little excessive, perhaps. We should have been more wary of the
impact on the high school people, not the high school teacher. But it was the high school
principals who would have to answer to their own local clientele about how poorly Johnny
fared at the University. What the senate sanctioned was my proposal, through Dr. Farr
actually carried the ball. But everybody knew it was my scheme, which was to administer
some fairly efficient tests, which were well checked. It was a basic placement test in English
having such things as structure, fiction, and grammar. It was a good test. It would easily tell
whether a boy was visibly illiterate or whether he was moderately good in his use and
writing. So my proposal was that we administer these tests, these four or five tests, and on
the basis of the results put the lowest 25 percent in a sub-freshman, non-credit, three-hour
course for one term, and then move them on into a freshman course. A year or two later I
went back to the senate and asked them to increase the 25 percent to 33 percent, and the only
really vocal and excited protest to that was from Dr. Morton Hinely who wanted to know
what will come next year. "Are you going to take 50 percent?"
Actually, once they were in the sub-freshman class, I found--we all found--that a good many
students had plenty of brains, and they did not resent--at least not very long--being put in that
class. They applied themselves and got transferred into regular sections, for some of them,
within two months. They hitched up their britches and tightened their belts and did what we
asked them to do. Now, that, of course, was a very small minority. Everybody in that
sub-freshman class knew that they could get into the top. Nevertheless, that was coward-
running-coward to the mainstream of what was going on throughout the country in colleges
and universities. Already the Depression had hit and everybody was more and more
vocational minded about college according to this new trend.
P: You have to make a living.
R: What Dr. Tigert was doing in proposing a scheme in the General College would take care of the
first year or so of the university student's career and was something that fitted right into the
eagerness of the vocational students in business administration, agriculture, the school of
pharmacy, and education. Not so much then engineering because engineering was drawing
some of the heavier entrances in this University. But the desire in the school to run their
own show and not have anyone distracted by what was to them outmoded standards of
performance in methods for subjects like mathematics and English or the requirements for
prerequisite courses leading to various A.B. and B.S. specifications was conspicuous.
P: What about the philosophy of the educated man which I find running through some of the
correspondence of the people involved in setting up the General College?
R: The theory was to equip all students with a general education. I do not know whether I told you
that. Then let them go on with their specialized pursuits, whether that be economics or
business administration or agriculture or chemistry--whatever it might be. That sounded
good to me, and that was what I thought. I remarked some time ago that people like Dr.
Leigh, Dr. Farr, and Dr. Anderson were the ones I was most confident in and with whom I
had little opportunity to argue. Certainly Dr. Tigert quickly became aware of their
opposition, and there was a good deal of openness about their hostility. Dr. Farr escaped
wisely and openly during the year Dr. Tigert did an about-face--and with some contempt for
Dr. Tigert's [concept] for general education.
P: What do you mean, an "about-face"?
R: My recollection is that Dr. Tigert gave the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the
department heads ample opportunity to set up the kind of program he had in mind. Certainly
by 1932 there were two parties already, the General College scheme at Minnesota and the
more respectable one at the University of Chicago. Our plan that was finally adopted here in
1934 had a little bit of each, so to speak, as I recall. It was much closer to the Minnesota
plan than to the Chicago plan in a good many ways. Well, the failure to gain the presidency
did him [Dr. Farr] in. That, I think, illustrates the general sort of withdrawal that made him
not give a damn, and he was simply going to oppose what Dr. Tigert wanted, without much
effort and discretion.
P: On the issue of the general education program, there was what amounted to open hostility or an
open difference between Tigert, who favored it, and Farr, his vice-president and chairman of
the English department who was opposed to the thing.
R: May I add some other reasons for irritation. I suppose that the records would show some sort of
action on Dr. Tigert's part, but on this next thing that I am going to mention I know very well
Dr. Anderson had developed an even keener disapproval of what was going on about the
extension course work as it touched Dr. Enwall and Dr. [James D.] Glunt. They had been
spending more and more time away from the campus teaching what Dr. Anderson, with very
little justice, conceived to be a very slaving, time-consuming, non-equivalent university
program. In fact, classes had been drummed up in large numbers, and they were making a
lot of money, which Dr. Farr was always in need of. I suppose there were others that I was
not aware of, but I know from talking with Dr. Anderson that Dr. Enwall and Dr. Farr were
prime offenders in that respect. I do not recall the details. Perhaps if I had the chance to
comb through my own papers I could reconstruct something a little more accurate. But I do
know that Dr. Tigert got the board to put a sharp restriction on the amount of money that
could be made by a professor or instructor of any rank through the medium of extension
classes. That was another source of hostility.
P: Of course, this could have been suggested to him by Anderson.
R: That I am not sure of. Certainly that was one thing that Dr. Tigert and Dr. Anderson saw eye-to-
eye on. Any sensible person would have had to, because it certainly had become quite an
abuse. I think I told you that I was the prime seller; I was the first person ever to teach an
extension class as such to the pleasure of Dr. Murphree, who sanctioned it with great gusto.
The first summer that I had taught in the summer session, which was in 1926, a group of
people from the Tampa schools talked to me at the end of the term and asked me if I would
go down to Tampa every weekend in the first semester and teach a course for them. They
took up a collection of a dollar apiece per week or per two weeks--I think about every other
week. The next move was that they got the petition for and got college credit through the
extension division. That was done with ease. But it also encouraged the plunging ahead and
spreading out rapidly of the program without having any idea of the demand that would
come for that type of instruction. I continued to do that type of teaching through the first
year of my marriage, in other words, the year before I took the sabbatical year of leave. It
became more and more a burden. I myself think I made around $1,000 that year.
P: Which was a very substantial amount.
R: I think it was going every other week to Tampa. The second term I went over to St. Petersburg,
teaching under the extension program at that time. By the time I got back here from Harvard
in the year of Dr. Murphree's death the thing was already being abused. I never did it
anymore. I made up my mind at the end of the first year of my marriage that it was not for
me, that there were too many things to be done on campus. The traveling and that much
additional instruction were too much. I was already teaching the equivalent of seventeen
hours or more, and the extension division still could look to me to handle a little bit of
correspondence, which I continued to do until the end of World War II.
P: What about Farr, the scholar? He was noted for the Shakespeare class.
R: No, less for that than for the courses in American literature and the novel. He had taught
Shakespeare, and many of the alumni that I know and speak with would count the
Shakespeare class on the same par with his courses in the novels. People remembered the
courses in American literature and the novel. Of course, Dr. Farr had way back--I was an
undergraduate--conducted one of those courses, at least intermittently, by having the class
come to the house at night. That was something that I remember. He carried this on to
considerable extent as long as it was physically practical for the students. In the mid 1930s
they did not come; in fact, earlier than that they did not come. But I still continued to hold
night classes in the courses that I had initiated in the session--modem novel, modem poetry,
and modem drama. Those courses drew heavily, too heavily, to be manageable, whether in a
small apartment or in a house off campus.
P: What about Farr in the classroom? Was his impact of a theatrical nature?
R: It was somewhat. It tended to be repetitious. There was a certain limited amount of material that
he tended to use over and over again. He and I guess all of us tend to do that to some extent.
I think I said to you earlier that people that really kept up, that I had intimate knowledge of,
were Dr. Anderson, Dr. Crow, and Dr. Benton. Dr. Farr more and more as it got on into the
1920s was absorbed in bridge, and then the health of Dr. Murphree precipitated the change,
which was tragic from his point of view. He became quite careless. But I saw a little in that
when I was doing my own master's work--he directed my master's work. I had to go on my
own, and a master's student needs a little guidance. My own theory is that Ph.D. students
need a lot more guidance than they used to get and more than many of them get now. I do
not think you could appreciate this as much then because I happen to know how careful Dr.
P: Oh, yes, very much.
R: He not only encouraged but very practically guided every step in the master's work. That was the
one thing needed to be done, and the people that I saw letting even their master's students
sort of drift and go on their own were Dr. Farr and Emie Atkin [professor of French]. I came
near saving Forbes, but I could not quite salvage it. The trouble was that Emie just let
Forbes go off on his own with his thesis, and then when he came up with the final thesis ...
P: He tore it apart.
R: He did not tear it apart. He just dumped it in the waste basket, so to speak. And Forbes gave up
and turned his attention properly toward qualification. He gained that fellowship a good
many years later in the American Guild Ordinance at the time that I took another leave of
absence, just at the time the general college scheme was beginning to be important to people
like Dr. Farr. So I think there was a good bit of unspoken business and frustration that a
person of as lively a temperament and as lively a mind as Dr. Farr had simply gone to the
P: What about Dr. Farr's family? We know about his wife. What about his daughters?
R: Two very delightful young girls. The elder one, Jean, you find pictures as an infant. The first
issue of the Seminole was dedicated to her. At any rate, there is some sort of a little
description of her to be found in there. Jane was a good many years younger and not near as
pretty but much livelier and talented. I think there was no question about the doctor's
devotion to them. He was proud, as any father would be. I know he felt very deeply for
P: They were kind of lively girls, as I understand it.
R: Jean had every reason to be quite a college fritter. She was a pretty, petite, nice figure, lively,
very attractive youngster. I saw a little bit of Jean as a young girl. She was still going
through a private school. No. Wait. Was she in college? She was a student at the Tebeau
School, it seems. One of the other girls from an old Gainesville family that I knew very well
was about her age. They were flitting about together, driving Dr. Farr's car. He loved a
good automobile. He really drove them recklessly. Jean was a good driver.
A year or so before my marriage I was living at Ralph Stoutamire's in a small apartment that he took
out on University Avenue. Maybe it was earlier. Anyhow, Dr. Farr and Mrs. Farr had to be
away on some trip, so I went around the Farr's and guarded the premises. I stayed for a night
or two while the parents were gone, and the two youngsters parked the car on 10th Street,
which you surely know by reputation. Martha, Lee, and Jean were great friends, and Jean
had this fast and very fine roadster of her father's to use. Two evenings during the time that I
stayed there I took long rides with those two youngsters before it was time for them to go to
bed. They turned in like good little girls. But a little bit later on, in a year or two, when Jean
was going with the college boys and having a grand time ... You surely would have this
kind of information already.
Well, Dr. Farr did take great pride in those girls. How much he got in the way of backing and
comfort from his own family life I obviously would not know, but I think it was
considerable. They continued to entertain a great deal in their house. When I came back
from Harvard, one of the first things that happened--this was much earlier than any break in
Dr. Farr's professional and personal affairs--I had hardly gotten into town and to my room at
the Eslinger house in 1942 when Dr. Farr came by or called, and he invited me and Ralph
Stoutamire and the old crowd of alumni of the University to dinner. That was a frequent
thing. Often those card games were coupled with some sort of dinner or supper. Dr. Farr
could cook certain things very nicely. He was rightly proud of his oyster stews baked along
about midnight in a long card game. He would punctuate by cooking of this kind, and then
card playing would be reciprocal.
P: Wasn't there some scandal associated with these girls here too?
R: With the two youngsters? Not that I know of, except about Jane's parentage.
P: No, I meant something other than that, with a flier that came through town or something and
staying up at the Thomas Hotel.
R: That is something that I suppose would be mentioned to me as freely as it would have been to
people who were not as close personally and professionally to the family.
P: Where are the girls now?
R: I seem to have lost track of Jean and Jane both because I have not had a chance to visit with Miss
Golver, who is now Mrs. Hume. Miss Golver has a sister in Jacksonville. Frequently when
she would visit over there she would keep in touch with the Farrs, and she used to report to
me after Dr. Farr's death how Mrs. Farr was. Mrs. Farr lived on and maybe still lives ...
P: No, she is not. I knew Mrs. Farr, and I talked to her.
R: She became almost mindless, I gathered. But her health and her capacity to enjoy food and so on
P: And gossip. [laughter]
R: Meanwhile, Jane took nurse's training in T. D. Casey's hospital. T. D. helped to prosper her
professional career. Jane wound up as a navy nurse.
P: I met Jane.
R: Up until the last time that I checked about them, which seems like a year and a half or two--it may
well longer--Jane had been stationed for a good while at Guantanamo [Bay, Cuba]. She
would fly up or take a ride or hitch-hike.
P: This is Wednesday, March 19, and we were talking about the situation specifically in the English
department under Dr. Farr during the early part of the 1930s. We had been talking about
some of the personality problems and the strengths and weaknesses of Dr. Farr and also
about Dr. Farr's family when we were talking on Monday. Would you like to pick up at this
R: Well, you want something about the family association?
P: Yes, I think this would be good. I think it brings out the man.
R: I think that you a while ago implied that some of the information on what a dash the Farr's cut in
this town had already been gathered. Of course, the village was small. The campus was
very small, relatively. There were extraordinarily marked people. Of course, if Dr.
Murphree himself appeared on the town square unexpected, it would have been all over the
place within an hour. Pretty much the same undesirable notoriety attended any- and
everything that either Dr. Farr or Mrs. Farr did.
P: And they did not, as I understand it, discourage this kind of thing.
R: I do not know whether that can be said or not. They did not ask for it. But I think both of them
had a little bit--in fact, more than a little--of something that I certainly do not think is an
undesirable trait, that is a kind of self-reliance that whatever either or both of them did
satisfied them. They were pleased, and to heck with the rest of the world. I think there was
a good deal of that.
I know nothing whatever really about Mrs. Farr's background. I do know that everybody assumed
that she told romantic talks about her origin and early life. That was not merely woman's
gossipy talk around the village, because in my observation college men are just about as bad
gossips as are the women, and some of them even more so. Dr. Farr I do know about. I
never saw his father or his stepmother who were a constant topic of conversation--and not
particularly gracious public talk.
Dr. Farr was an only son, wasn't he? I am pretty sure of that. At any rate, he was youth and
maturity. His father was the big man in a small South Carolina town with pretty ancient
history, and Dr. Farr had a magnificent intellect to become a scholar. He had certainly cut a
path as a graduate student at Hopkins, a prize student of one of the most famous linguists and
Anglo-Saxon scholars in the English-speaking world, John Bright, who taught a great deal to
the top scholars coming out of the great schools like Yale and Harvard. Princeton was not
turning out many people then; neither was Hopkins. Dr. Farr had been reared in relative
security and luxury and probably was spoiled, given everything he wanted. So when he and
Mrs. Farr shared the brilliance of this, he had a kind of arrogance about him that came very
natural. He was in many ways of a very simple nature. But certainly he had a kind of boyish
good nature, a recklessness about him. It showed in the delight he took, and this was of
course interesting to the whole town and something of a source of envy to people who would
be inclined to be envious of somebody who seemed to be better off than them. He just
delighted in owning things, whether they were paid for or not. His father said he would have
given him the money to pay for them, and part of the scandal about them around here
touched on their notoriously languid regard for the bills.
P: Yes, I have heard a good bit about this.
R: We have one or two other distinguished members of our faculty who were sued for their positions
and things like that for long overdue bills. But the Farrs were, if you want to use the word,
notorious for that. Everybody knew. Every merchant knew that if he sold them groceries or
clothing or what have you, they would have to wait and do a lot of fuming and steaming to
get paid, that eventually Dr. Farr would race up to Union and come back with the money
from his father, who you know is the bank of that small town, to pay himself out of debt and
to get squared away again and proceed on the same sort of careless spendthrift way.
P: What happened to the Farr family fortune?
R: I do not know.
P: I am talking about his father and his stepmother. Why did none of this money come down to the
R: It did, but the old man, I mean, Dr. Farr's father, handed it out to him in chunks.
P: I was wondering what happened after his death.
R: I do not know what happened after his death. I am talking about as early as some others of us,
like the Henderson boys from Tampa, Terry, and general others who were contemporary
with me as undergraduates and who stayed on to do some science courses as I did. We went
with some frequency--I do not mean every week, but every now and then--to his house for
the evening. A little knot of people, sometimes on invitation as long as I was taking English
courses, would go over in the evening, but we did that at other houses--the Crows I have
mentioned especially. Everybody knew that Dr. Farr was kind of boyish, bravado, and the
like in speed and in ownership of something that would be the equivalent of a hot rodder
today. He had the best and one of the first privately owned big old 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917
[one of those years] Cadillacs, and they were making them to carry seven and eight people.
He ditched that in the early 1920s. I remember he owned the first hot rod Marman. Have
you heard of Marman automobiles?
P: Oh, yes, expensive and dashing.
R: One of the nicest people we had in the English department was also one of the dullest teachers--a
man named Haley who had a very poetic spirit and was a very nice person, always very
pecuniary. He came in the year after I did, replacing Beck. I think that was it. Of course,
they made a new assistant professorship for me, and he was technically a replacement for
Beck. Haley probably got himself in debt by buying an old beat-up Buick roadster. I recall
that every fall on his suggestion he and I went in the roadster (I was a little reckless then,
too) on the devious, unpaved roads from here down to Tampa for a football game. Ahead of
us that day was Dr. Farr, Mrs. Farr, I think probably the two little girls, and a student or two.
He drove that Marman through these weaving sand beds on the road down to Brooksville,
and as we rolled into Brooksville one of the wheels on the front simply came off. They were
put on in a curious sort of a bowline, totally unlike the way in which they later were put on.
But it would run sixty, seventy, maybe eighty miles per hour, and he loved to drive it that
way no matter what the road was. That is sort of symptomatic.
I do not think they [the Farrs] knew of the town gossip, but what they did know I do not think they
really bothered about. They were going to have their own way and have their fun. They
took their pleasures as they came.
Now, I have gotten away from your original question that I had begun answering, about the
character of the family. I think you had said. What was the question?
P: I was asking something about the personality of Farr and how this related to his family--the
weaknesses and strengths of Dr. Farr.
R: I think part of the town's curiosity and constant lively interest in them and gossip about them was
tied up with their splendthrift way of doing things as well as with their bad reputation as far
as business people were concerned. That, of course, did not affect Dr. Farr out here on
campus. He was a very attractive and lively person. He was a very effective speaker to
student groups. I remember hearing him during the First World War. Notable people
around the community were asked to give something like three-minute speeches supporting
the liberty laws and that sort of thing, and I heard him at a movie show when I was down for
a night with one or two other students. Dr. Farr was the speaker that night. He was not as
effective probably in that kind of situation as he was out here on campus. He could make a
talk, a pep talk--you know the sort of thing--to get students' interest aroused and all that. He
was and could be extremely attractive.
One of the main differences between Dr. Farr and all the first quarter of the twentieth-century history
of the University can be made talking about the impact of these earlier department men on
students. Literally everybody down to the last Negro boy raking leaves on the campus knew
Dr. Farr, whereas there were a limited number of people in the student body and even in the
faculty that knew men like Dr. Crow or Dr. Benton. The fact that he was vice-president and
that he was so effective at it made him a marked man.
P: You know in Dr. Farr's writings he takes credit for setting up the honor system here on the
R: I do not really remember securely enough, but I think he is entitled to a great deal of the credit.
He had the kind of inspiration for the students that a man from Virginia, like Dr. Anderson,
would never have had. Dr. Anderson just could not do that sort of thing. He shrank from
public gatherings. He was always a bit uncomfortable holding faculty meetings, which
lasted only about eighteen or twenty minutes. He was a very silent sort of a person. Dr.
Farr, on the other hand, was very expressive and animated and would plunge into the public
glare with ease and oftentimes with a good deal of relish. I think there is a good deal in that.
There would have been other people to support him. I simply have a blind spot in my
memory on that. A man like Spessard Holland probably would have an extraordinarily good
memory. [There are many] people and occasions he could speak on. It is an interesting
aspect of campus life to explore, come to think of it.
P: I would like to go on now, if you do not mind, to the situation leading to Farr's departure from the
R: Let me add one other thing about the honor business. Nearly all of our professors were practicing
it when I first came here, [including] Dr. Farr, Dr. Crow, and Dr. Anderson. Dr. Benton did
not. Remember how I told you he administered indivualized exams? You have that on an
earlier tape. So he did not have to worry whether his students were going to write on his
papers or not. But other men I have named, Dr. Phillip, as I recall, in giving exams and tests
in chemistry put their tests up on the board or supplied little typed copies to their students.
When the Latin and Greek classes numbered only two or three people, as they did in our
senior year--Terry and I were together in three or four classes where we were alone; that
would have been the year 1914 or 1915, I believe--[it was the same situation].
There was no formally adopted honor system at that time as a matter of student government because
student government was very nondescript and, for all practical purposes, non-existent. Dr.
Anderson would tell Terry and me what he wanted us to translate, and he would set the rest
of the examination. Of course, there were always questions concerning the grammatical
aspects of the language, whether Greek or Latin. It was not merely a matter of translation.
And he would tell us, "Go by your conscience." I can remember our writing examinations
and seeing our Latin and Greek at a quiet table tucked off--by that time the library was
located on the first floor of Peabody [Hall]--in the northeast comer of that floor. And it was
nice and quiet. Terry and I would take our papers over there and write at a table that was
almost an arm's length from the translation and everything else in the library. And we would
turn in our papers. I do not remember that we signed or wrote and signed a pledge. Maybe,
but I do not recall that we did. Dr. Crow practiced something of the same kind of free,
Now, I know that as a sophomore I saw that ease toward student tests and exams made a mess of in
Dr. Farr's English class, the sophomore rhetoric for colleges. There was a good deal of
cheating. But in other courses that I was in, in the main, trust in the students was well
rewarded, so that the atmosphere with a small student body where everyone knew
everybody, where the students all knew each other, was conducive to setting up some kind of
formal honor system. But I do not remember these things happening while I was there. It
may have happened while I was away.
P: I want to talk a little bit now about Dr. Farr's great tragedy and actually the thing which brought
about his moving off the campus, off the faculty, and away from Gainesville. This was the
situation that occurred somewhere around 1933-1934 and involved a syllabus or a textbook.
Would you like to say something about that?
R: I have, Sam, no recollection of that.
P: All right. Let me go back. I am wrong. I have said the wrong thing. It did not involve that at all.
It involved salary supplements. Say what you want about this.
R: I think it is pertinent to say that I was, of course, aware in scrappy fashion of the continuance of
the Farr's financial difficulties, and my wife and I could not avoid having forethoughts
because certainly we both intently disliked it and did not want it. But you could not avoid
having some gossipy insinuations and questions put to you. We were too close to the
department and to the Farr family for that not to happen. But up to about 1931-1932 there
was no sign that I caught that Dr. Farr was in real trouble. In fact, I think it was in the spring
semester of 1932 that Dr. Farr and the head English professor at Rollins exchanged places.
Dr. Farr had a whale of a good time with that mixed crowd at Rollins. The visiting professor
was a very acceptable teacher and a very likable poetic sort of a man, Henry Caldwell, who
was my office mate and a very close friend. I admired him, and his students did too. I had a
lot of pleasant association with the visitors. Dr. Farr would refer to the fun he had down at
Rollins often during the year or two afterwards when he came back.
Now, the following year, though, he had some kind of imagined or real illness. His students at that
time, some of whom had become instructors--I think especially Ed Price--were deeply
concerned about it, and they proposed to me that we persuade Dr. Farr to take a holiday on
pay that next summer. That must have been the summer of 1932 or 1933. I know that
several of us, and that included Ed Price, went to Dr. Farr, made the proposal to him, and
told him we would make sure Dr. Tigert understood and that we would arrange to take his
work. I would take his Shakespeare, and Caldwell could teach the historical grammar or
whatever Dr. Farr had been slated for. Well, he made a lot of fun of us and then he accepted,
and then he turned right around and made life miserable for his instructors. He did not pull it
on me, but he invited himself into their classrooms and then proceeded to have fun for
himself of the slightly malicious kind, telling them how they should have done what they did
not do in their classes. Well, everybody took that in good grace.
Part of the bargain was that I had been postponing from year to year getting back up to Harvard, so I
had pointed out to him that I was overdue to attempt that and that if he would take the
summer off with pay, I would go up to Harvard. I used the last of my inheritance from my
folks, and I borrowed a little bit here and there. I had a little bit coming back to me that I had
lent to other people. So we squeaked through for twelve months. Now, most of that time I
spent right out here in Palm Terrace, laboring through long, moldy notes, reading, getting
myself dredged up out of the abyss of shaky memory and all the effects of having neglected
my dissertation so long. I spent most of the second semester [in Cambridge] living in a small
room on the same street that my wife and I had occupied an apartment on back in
1927-1928. [It was very enjoyable] seeing John Livingston Lewis and enjoying several of
the men I had studied with at Harvard, one of whom, Spray, who's represented in that
festschrift, was still there on the faculty then.
We came back somewhere along in the summer, and my recollection is that Ed Price and Ed Moore
met us, for Eileen had gone over to Jacksonville, caught the tide line, and met me in
Charleston. (We had been separated three or four months.) We had a little interval between
arrival and departure, and she shifted over on my ship, so we had a little reunion. I think Ed
Price and Ed Moore met us.
Then the thing began to hit me. They made it direct and brief. Chiefly the two Eds, but also in other
ways I too were hit by the fact that some sort of scandal had developed in the previous year,
a very short time ago. What I was told was that Dr. Farr was accused by a graduate assistant.
There were one or two students on that kind of arrangement. A man named Bailey, who I
believe was majoring in French, but I am not sure, was serving as a paper grader for Dr. Farr.
He accused Dr. Farr of demanding a huge shakedown--a sharing of his legal pay. I think he
got fifty cents a paper for doing Dr. Farr's work, and he was doing Dr. Farr's correspondence
papers. According to the story I heard, Dr. Farr was demanding pay, and I also was told
without names being called that this involved similar treatment of instructors. Three or four
of them were by that time out on [inaudible]. That was something that had worried me a
little bit. Every time that Dr. Farr could make an addition he did so even if the person had
little training or experience. I thought he deliberately surrounded himself with a group of
instructors, some of whom were our own students--Jean Maultz, Allen Morris, Ed Price, at
least those three, and I think there was a fourth--[whom he could control in this manner].
Anyhow, having heard that very briefly, even that first afternoon when we were driving back here to
Gainesville, I tracked myself over to Dean Leigh the very next day and had a sort of
generalized confirmation from Dr. Leigh. I angered him by asking him, "This was done
without any knowledge of yours?" He understandably got very angry.
P: Now, Leigh, of course, was not yet vice-president. Farr was still vice-president.
R: Oh, no, he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He had been director of the School of
Pharmacy or had the deanship by that time. Anyhow, that is immaterial. Dr. Tigert by that
time had appointed him dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, so I do not remember if I
got Dean Leigh's sanction. The very next move I made, and I think it was the very next
morning, was to go to Dr. Tigert. I told him that I would like to know what was going on,
and he told me in a much more veiled and guarded language than Dr. Leigh had used.
P: The fact was that Dr. Leigh had confirmed this.
R: But the point was that he had said, "If you had not come in to talk to me I would have had to
come to you, because I want you to take over the department and run it until we can settle
things." Well, now, Dr. Farr had not even gotten back into town. Sam, my memory is
getting hazy about the timing of this, but I think this was getting pretty close to the time
when people who were away for summer trips and things were due back to begin registration
and teaching for the fall semester. When the Farrs arrived it was with the news that Dr. Farr
was ill. He did spend some time in the University infirmary. So there was a plausible
explanation as to why he did not appear on campus. In a veiled way, Dr. Tigert had told me
that I should see about arranging to have Dr. Farr's classes taught. "It does not matter how
you do it. It is up to you." You know how he talks. I do not remember if I asked him then,
"What about manpower? We are already overloaded." I noted what I was teaching in the
first year that Cliff [Lyons] was here, and he got some relief for me.
By that time we were head over heels in both the years of General College. But we were already
pretty badly gummed up, and we had never been able to get proper teaching loads, in
English, at any rate. Either that very morning or very soon afterwards I was clawing at Dr.
Tigert for teaching help. "If Dr. Farr is not going to be on campus this semester or this year,
then we must have some kind of replacement." That in a nutshell led to his finding the
money for me a little later that year, and I got Whitey in; Whitey Murphy came in at that
time. Meanwhile, we lost that semester's work.
P: With Dr. Farr not teaching?
R: Dr. Farr was not teaching. He did not even appear on campus. He spent a long period [away].
Just how long I do not recall.
P: In the infirmary?
R: But after a while he went on home, and it was not an obvious subterfuge. Everybody read it that
way that was aware something going on. But I saw Dr. Farr very little. Here was the second
reason why I do not remember anything where another man might. I just deliberately pushed
that whole unpleasant business out. I had to if I was to do what I was supposed to do, which
was to teach my own classes and run the department as well. And third, what was badly
needed was for someone to take the lead in restoring departmental morale. I did that every
year in the first place by calling the English group together and reminding them that the year
before I had been the only person in this whole area at the meeting of the South Atlantic
Model Language Association, about which I had correspondence in the year in which it was
originated. I was the only person who was down this way who was in touch with it. But
there were a number of men who especially loved it--at North Carolina, the head of the
English department at Emory, and I.
This was the fall of 1934, and I was slated to have some administrative job in this association. I had
no money; we had no money to go to meetings of that kind and did not for a good long
while. So I took my old Chevy and Henry Caldwell, Gene Mounts, Allen Morris, and
somebody else--there were five of us--and we hitched suitcases along the dashboard of this
very old Chevrolet and hacked off to Charleston. That was along in November of that year;
maybe it was Thanksgiving. Eileen and I had a general dinner, a stag dinner, along after
Christmas. We tried to do things like that. But the main thing was to keep up with the stock
and trade stuff of the departments. I was aggravated by the fact that planning the first year of
the General College was on the slate. I was in that up to my eyebrows as chairman that year
in the planning committee for freshman English, and we had endless sessions. It was all
pretty frustrating. It was baffling for the very good simple reason that most of us in the
committee knew that we were working behind a kind of veil and that the real thing was
going to be done by smaller, tighter, and intensive campus politics and politically constituted
arrangements. Nevertheless, we took it with utmost earnestness and devoted good intentions
and spent endless hours in sessions of that kind. It began the first semester and stretched into
the whole second semester and well on into the summertime.
Meanwhile, somewhere along about mid-term, although here again my memory is not secure on the
time, I was sitting at my desk in the hall office that Henry called on talking to a student or
two. It may have been about their registration next semester or something of that kind. Dr.
Farr--and I remember this particularly because it was so distressing--came in with an excited
P: This was the first time he had really appeared on campus in a long time?
R: Yes, this was the first I had seen him on campus, and it was the first time he had been on the
campus physically. Now, what conversations he had had or what letters exchanged with Dr.
Tigert or with other people in the administration or what contact he had had with Leigh, God
only knows. But he came in, interrupted me with the students, and said in effect, "I am all
right now, and I plan to start coming out now to resume my regular duties by next Monday
You can draw what inference you will from the next thing that happened. It was either that very
day, later in the day, or the very next day, Dr. Tigert came in the office. When I saw him
come in I was very grateful. I was alone at the time. Dr. Tigert said very bluntly, "I do not
want Dr. Farr on this campus. You are to understand that if he tries to come in and take
charge of things, just refer him to me. That is that." That isolated fragment I remember, but
the rest of it is a blur which I tried to keep off and out of my conscious awareness. I could
not succeed in doing that more than about half the time.
P: Of course, you were in a very sensitive position because of your friendship and relationship to the
R: Yes. There was the very tragic awareness of the disruption of something that had been deeply
pleasant for so long, and I was aware of the buzzing going on all over the place. But what
did make sense was the firmness of Dr. Tigert while he kept his counsel. He meant business.
So it became obvious to anyone who had doubts that whatever had been done was gravely
serious and that Dr. Farr was going to be forced off the campus, by whatever terms might be
decided. I am sure they gave him reasonable retirement compensation.
P: Actually they kept him on the payroll until 1941.
R: I recall that he was on that. I do not remember signing the payroll ever until I took over again as
the directing chairman of the division when Cliff [Lyons] went into the navy in 1942.
P: But your never saw Farr again?
R: Yes, I must have.
P: He left Gainesville pretty quickly.
R: They did. That is my impression. Eventually, within a short space of time, they sold that
handsome house over there on the boulevard almost opposite where Fred [inaudible] is, close
to the Duck Pond.
P: I know where the house is.
R: So far as removing his personal belongings from his office, which was 208, it was Jean who came
out to make arrangements about getting his books off the shelves and checking on his desk
and making sure any papers that were private and letters and things of that sort were properly
removed. I recall that they had by that time gone over to.... What was it?
P: Atlantic Beach.
R: They lived there for a long while. Several years afterwards when we were in Jacksonville, I
suppose for some football game or something, I made an effort to get in touch with him
when we got out there, but we were gummed up with other people in some way or another.
We had counted on staying over until Sunday, but we found that impractical. But I am pretty
sure that I did not see Dr. Farr here in Gainesville or here on the campus after that morning
when he came in with that request.
P: I do not think that once he left Gainesville he ever came back again.
R: I do not suppose so. Certainly I have no reason to know.
P: He told me this. I asked him.
R: I have no recollection [of seeing him or her], for that matter. I think that the only one who came
back over here after the move was Jean, who was not very long afterwards married. But she
certainly was not married when this all cascaded on the family.
P: There was no exchange of Christmas cards or any social correspondence at that point?
R: We never had that kind of correspondence. Eileen had been at a few of the parties that Mrs. Farr
gave. Mrs. Farr used to run an opposition show to Dr. Farr and his masculine bridge games.
Mrs. Farr loved to have parties. She loved to feed people and did it very handsomely. The
food was, of course, gorgeous. There was not any drinking because, of course, these were
prohibition days, until 1933. We served wine at that stag party for the English department.
We served them homemade raisin port [laughter] and Japanese rice wine that I myself had
made. To Mrs. Farr's parties she rarely went but was often invited. Often we played cards
with people like Myra and [inaudible] Clark. These were mixed parties. One of the pairs of
people who played were a very famous pair of bridge players who were said to make their
living by gambling on bridge, the Groneys. Does that name click in your memory? They
left about the time you came to Gainesville.
P: Who were they again?
R: Mr. and Mrs. Groney. They were good players but not among the best by any means in the town.
As a couple they went to Mrs. Farr's parties, but Groney also was a member of the group of
men who played at Dr. Farr's for those outrageously long sessions of duplicate bridge, from
which I retired.
P: This was a pretty traumatic thing for the campus.
R: Yes, it was. Sam, to me, and I think probably to people like Ed Price, on a smaller scale, it was
disagreeable and frustrating and distasteful and I think tragic. That whole nasty year was as
bad on a small scale as the two years when all the scandal exploded in Wayne Reitz's face
and he found himself having to do something about some of the most notable people on this
campus. I do not need to tell you who I mean.
Well, now, that touched a lot of us very nearly, and I speak of it because it illustrates what was
happening back there in that first year of refinement of the General College, which was sort
of spoiled for some of us in English by having this additional difficulty to cope with. When
that business exploded I would go to the post office--I mean, 1955, 1956, 1957; it stretched
across two years--and my God, here people were involved who were teaching for the English
department. I was even drawn in on one of the nasty little side cases of a graduate student
who professed to be a Ph.D. student, Carl Hilton. [Robert B.] Mautz, and I could see his
point, felt that it was necessary to drag the department head in on this, so I went over to Bob
Mautz's office one morning and spent two hours going over it separately. He and the
committee that was dealing with these cases had, of course, studied all the evidence, but he
thought since it was a graduate assistant paid on the English budget and working toward a
doctorate degree in English that I just must be in on it. Willy-nilly, I was in on one or two of
the faculty cases, one conspicuously which I certainly do not need to remind you of.
But it went deeper than that. Eileen and I had been among the seven or eight or nine people who had
been invited by Dick and Christine Johnson to their house for the wedding of Harley and
Irlene Chandler. We had many times been invited out with other people, including the
Millers. Dr. Miller loved to go out to the lake with the Chandlers. It was some fun. Eileen
and I are still fond of when they do have [their little get-togethers]. For the first time in
twenty years, the first time since all that blow up, they did come by and stop for two days
and nights, staying with Fred and Clare and with their sanction and with their naming the
people that they wanted invited. Again, they had a number of us over. Christine Johnson,
Eileen and me, Manning Dauer, Burt and Eppy Ames, and the former architect for the Board
of Control. Oh, I forget my own name sometimes. Guy and Mrs. Fulton. I think that was
all. No, there were one or two other people, too. On a small scale this was the way you
depended on [others], and yet you had long professional and, of course, personal
relationships, friends. We had been intimates with the Byers family repeatedly there at
parties. Fred and Jo had been closer to us personally then we were to anyone.
P: So you actually went through two of these experiences?
R: It was very messy. Well, I was much more mature, and I think I quoted Dean Heams about
shutting down my campus worries behind the cover of my desk when I left campus during
the 1950s. I was finding it hard to get to sleep because the wheels were just turning, and I
would be venting to myself my troubles or my anger at something that had gone wrong on
the campus. But it was very seldom, and in the last five or six years I know I never lost a
wink of sleep. [laughter]
P: I want to get away from this for just a minute. I think we have taken care of the Farr situation
very well. I want to ask you about a person, Mrs. Rawlings. What did you know about her?
This was her hey-day, in the 1930s, Mrs. Marjorie [Kinnan] Rawlings.
R: We did not have much to do with her in the 1930s, but we became very close friends, or I would
say good friends, with Marjorie about the end of the war when for some reason or other she
was in and out of town here more frequently than she had been. We got to know her through
a Miss Terry, who ran the little book shop and was a devoted admirer and good friend of
Marjorie's. Marjorie thought a lot of Miss Terry. The acquaintance I had with Marjorie was
through Sophie Berchum, who was then doing quite a free-wheeling job with the
[Gainesville] Sun, working for them. Mr. Bill Pepper I was running the paper. When you
knew it, it would have been ... Well, I am not sure. See, there were three. I knew the old
man, I knew Bill who ran the paper before the Peper family sold out, and the third one was a
student of mine in about 1946-1947 or 1948-1949. I helped his father staighten him out. He
had been a victom of misguided advise in his General College for two years.
P: Miss Berchum was the society editor?
R: Yes, she was the society editor, but she also had a month or two off at the height of the social
season, in January, February, and March, and she went on down to Plam Beach and, I
suppose, over to Miami for some weather time. In Palm Beach she had a grand time writing
those special feature stories on high society and interviewing a great number of very noted
people in the arts and business and the sports world and so on.
Well, we knew Marjorie was settling out there at Cross Creek, but it was physically a very difficult
thing to get around through Hawthorne and down and out to the creek. I would have to stop
eighteen or twenty miles out in winding sand roads and piney woods, and the road was
sometimes impassable. But that was not only the reason. I never was one to go inviting
myself to see somebody just because they had become noted. See, Eileen and I did not know
About the time that her first publication came out was when Sohpie got excited and caught her in
town, and Marjorie agreed to let Sophie do a special feature story on her, which in due time
was done. Sophie hounded me to call for that with her. Well, I told Sophie--my lord, this
was literally true--that I did not have time to do that sort of thing. But I said, "I will be
delighted to go over your stuff with you after its done, if that will comfort you," which did.
She came one afternoon with quite a stack of typed script, and I went over it and kept some
notes. Then we got back together, and I made a few suggestions for varying material for the
article that was maybe 99.99 percent Sophie, and maybe the other 0.01 percent was the
corrections or suggestions that I made. Nothing material. But soon after that I did meet
Marjorie at some social affair, and Eileen had become acquainted with her. But we did not
really know her until during the war years when she came in rather often.
Meanwhile, I had finished directing a thesis by a very bright boy we had here in 1935, 1936, 1937,
1938, 1939 by the name of Will McGuire.
P: I knew Will.
R: I was going to say you surely would have known him.
P: I would like to talk about Mrs. Rawlings and Bill Maguire's thesis as a way of moving you into
this friendship with her.
R: Yes. Well, it heightened my interest in her, and she got to know who we were. Meanwhile, the
people who had really become close friends with Marjorie were Dr. and Mrs. Tigert. Early
in the war years she came into town fairly often. In the meantime, Dr. Tigert had invited
[her to teach in] the English department. It was primarily Cliff Lyons who had gone out to
see her. She was awarded that honorary doctorate.
P: In 1941. She had already won the Pulitzer Prize.
R: That had come a year or two earlier, about 1939.
P: Now, she was teaching a course in creative writing, wasn't she?
R: Yes, you are right. I was just thinking about a summer school incident. The chief contact she had
with the campus in the mid 1930s was that Cliff got her to teach a course in creative writing
in the upcoming summer school. That was the very first summer ... No, wait a minute.
That was the summer at the end of the second year that Cliff was here. It was all agreed, and
everybody was delighted. Students like Will McGuire were titillated, and Dr. [James N.]
Norman's standard summer sessions preseason announcement came out--the form letter that
told you that you were appointed to a certain position and that the salary would be such and
such if the Board of Control approved. I remember Marjorie's letter. Cliff bounced out to
our house with it in much aggravation. For one thing, it was very close to June, too late to
get an adequate replacement. Marjorie's note said, in effect, "Here is what I have written to
Dean Norman, and here is a carbon copy of it," the note she had written to Dean Norman
said that she would sign no such "red-dog contract" or some such derogatory term. She was
really angry. The note could have said, in essence, "Here is what I have said to your dean of
the summer session, 'I am sorry, but I will not do that summer course.'"
So Cliffs main motive in coming out to my house that day was to ask what in the world we were
going to do. We had this thing in the catalog expecting to have a course of that kind taught.
He said, "Haven't you got a friend [who can fill in]?" By that time he knew Marjorie had
relied a lot on [author] Edward Granberry's assistance and advice in the early stages of her
writing, and I knew that was true. She told me so, and Ed and his wife described visits
Marjorie made to their house down there at Winter Park where he had for years been
instructor in contemporary literature and creative writing at Rollins. He had published three
pretty good Florida novels and was certainly a good Agrarian, as the word was then. So I
said, "Ed Granberry might be able to come on short notice. They do not run a summer
To make this story short, I do not remember whether I used the telephone, but I sounded out Ed, and
Ed was delighted, so we got Ed here. We found him a house--the Laison's were going to be
away all summer, so they were delighted to have the Granberrys use their house.
P: So he was a replacement for Mrs. Rawlings?
R: Yes. So here came the Granberrys, with all their erratic, insane, show-prize, wire-haired terriers,
crazy as loons, all of them, because they were inbred. The summer went off beautifully, and
Ed made quite a hit. Cliff was tickled to death to get off that hook. But it was quite a shock.
Meanwhile, back in 1934-1935 Dr. Tigert not only found another instructor for me, but the very next
year--it must have been a new budget--he at my request put $500 into my English budget for
the engaging of special speakers for the department. That made some people, including the
dean of the college and the director of the School of Pharmacy, a bit envious. But Cliff had
that to play with, and it was that $500 that paid Marjorie a stipend to come in. I think she
came in the first semester for either a week's stretch or every other week at her convenience.
P: Every other week.
R: She gave lectures, to which the public was really welcomed.
P: I was in that class.
R: Were you? You will have to record your opinions.
P: No, I want to ask you. Why was she so upset with the original note from Dean Norman?
R: I am a little hazy about that.
P: Because this was according to standard practices.
R: I am a bit hazy about that. Yes, everybody got it. That was why Cliff was so bowled over.
Marjorie was a very emotional, a very idealistic sort of a woman. She could fight, bleed, and
die for a cause at the drop of a hat. She really loved the people she loved, and she was a
good hater. Of course, she was already, I suppose, feeling the strain of forcing her talent,
because she did not write easily. She used to tell us, "For God's sake, come out and see me,
but do not come until 5: 00. I make myself get up, and when I am working"--that is, when
she is writing--"[I do not want to be bothered]." She set for herself a Spartan schedule,
getting up early, working at it, stopping to grab a bit to eat that Martha would bring her, that
nice little Negress that used to take care of her, Martha Mickens, and then working like hell
until 5: 00.
P: Would you say she was a woman of limited talents, who through discipline was able to [succeed]?
R: Yes. As a narrative artist things did not flow for her as, for instance, her friend up in North
Carolina, the notoriously prolific, overwinded man ...
P: Thomas Wolfe?
R: Yes. Wolfe wrote like a river stream. Marjorie would tell you that she bled every drop that went
on the page, and she rewrote while she was doing the proofreading. She told me and she
showed me pages on the typewriter where she would alter the text and make corrections.
P: What about her friendship with Dr. Tigert?
R: It was with both of them. She came in here often. Well, not often, because that just was not
practical. But if you could say that they had frequent visitors, she was one. Even during the
war Mrs. Tigert was away because of an illness somewhere in her family for quite a little
stretch and Marjorie had been away from the Creek [Cross Creek] for a little while, Dr.
Tigert discovered that she was out there and was coming into town, so he had gotten in touch
with her and called and said he wanted to come in and have tea because some interesting
visitor was coming into the house as a house guest. And he called us, me and Eileen, and
said, "I have drummed up this tea, and there is enough [for everyone]. I need a woman to
pour tea. Would you and Archie come?" We were delighted, and we went and had a grand
time. We were constantly doing that sort of thing. When John Erskine came here, the
Tigerts saw to it that Marjorie was invited. My recollection is that she did not make it to the
second time he was here on a visit, but she was at a big dinner party the first time he came.
P: You said you became more closely tied with her.
R: Yes, that is right. We began to keep in close touch with her, and whenever there was something
or someone we thought she would enjoy, we invited her in. She came when she could. In
the war years she and her husband, Norton, developed a trick. They went back and forth.
She did not like the house over there on the beach. She hated it. And this is the strange
thing, I guess, that came from growing up in such an inland locality in Wisconsin. But while
people like me and Eileen and Norton delighted to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf
or the roar of it--it easily becomes a roar at Crescent Beach--[Marjorie could not stand it].
The high tide pounds right up under the eaves of the house almost, and she did not like it. At
any rate, they also had to look after the Cross Creek place, so they would zip back and forth
to do that and other errands.
They made a game playing this word game. You have questions-and-answers where you put up a
question, and the questioned must come up with a name of an author or artist or what have
you. Our name for that game was "I am a B." Simply, if you were Beethoven, then your
question identified Beethoven. Well, she just delighted in that game. We would call
Princeton friends, George and Bee Fox, to came along--we were close friends, and they had
one house between neighbors of the Foxes--and they would stay overnight and come along
to Long Boat Key. The Foxes invited Marjorie, and they became fairly friendly with
Marjorie. We sat around after noontime dinner and played that game because Marjorie just
loved it. She was very free and easy.
When [Robert] Frost came to town we would always let her know in advance, and she just adored
him. It was kind of a distant worship, but very free and easy with him on personal terms.
Twice she had us out there at the Creek when he was here. She wanted to feed him and let
him see her place with her in it. I took Robert out there at least once--no, twice, I
remember--when she was somewhere else.
She spent some time in Richmond toward the end of her life and more and more time over at
Crescent Beach. We came to feel very intimate with Marjorie. She had a few things over in
St. Augustine that we wanted to get to and could not. The last one was an entertainment she
wanted to have--I have forgotten the nature of it--for James Branch Cabell, of whom she had
come to be quite fond. Some illness interrupted.
P: Did you play any role in getting her works placed here in the creative writing?
R: I did not need to. Dr. Tigert and Cliff were the prime movers on that, in the sense that they
reminded her again and again that we would welcome that sort of thing. But in really
precipitating the business of getting them here, Stan West [director of libraries and professor
of bibliography] and I did have something to do with it. I would say Stan more then I,
because Marjorie knew Stan from way back, too. There were a good many public things
even as late as the year before her heart attack. She had a fall in her house over there at
Crescent Beach. You got up to the living room quarters by a rather steep, outside stair.
Marjorie had been into town to get her groceries, and she made some sort of awkward
movement--she was overly heavy, you know--with her arms full and tumbled off that stair
onto the coquina. She described to Eileen and me how they got the coquina out of her. It
took them days to pick the pieces out of her poor bruised side and leg before they were sure
that they had everything. That gave her a bad jolt. So there were a lot of ailments.
Meanwhile, of course, she had suffered a good deal from alcoholism.
P: Was she a confirmed alcoholic, or was this just too much social drinking?
R: Well, she could certainly control her appetite for liquor, so far as Eileen and I knew her. I am not
really qualified to speak on this matter. I will cite an instance. Maybe it is not a good
example, but when she would knock off from work at 5: 00 in the afternoon she would turn
loose and sometimes would get too much to drink. One time was fairly early in the stretch of
years that Dr. Lowe was here. I can date it by the fact that Eileen's mother was still living
and was visiting with us in the house when Robert Frost came along. We made sure that
Marjorie knew well in advance, so she had come over to the Creek. Well, she came in one
afternoon to have dinner with us. That time there was not anybody else, just the family, just
the three of us, including Eileen's mother, Robert, and Marjorie. Marjorie, not having
anybody to be very concerned about, did have a little too much to drink, so much so that my
mother-in-law was tickled to death. She was a good, stem Methodist, but she had come to
know Marjorie and liked her, and that excused a lot for her. But Robert was a little bit
disconcerted and displeased that she had so much that she was seated in a low chair and
started to get up, but her feet would keep slipping out from under her. That was what
provoked my mother's laughter, but he did not find it laughable. She had no more to drink,
and we settled down to a good dinner. Eileen is a good cook, and she fed us well.
When it came time to change the plates and have desert, Marjorie, as was natural, started to get up
and help Eileen. Eileen did not protest, but it would not have done any good anyway,
especially since a woman does those things anyway. Mrs. Redding, Eileen's mother, got the
risibilities all over again in spite of the danger involved. Marjorie came and went through
that little kitchen door, rather on a incline, with plates and whatnot until most of the services
were completed. Robert and I both wondered if she would make it.
P: With the good china.
R: She would go at a decided incline. But there was nothing distressful about that. I have always
heard since her literary output became slacker around here that it was known that she was an
alcoholic. I guess it is true, but I guess we never ran into it very much.
Marjorie died in 1953 or 1954, and I had taken Frost over there to see her the spring before. He
came on the usual time, around March. He had heard about her illness. A couple of days
later he said, "Look here. I am going to be staying on another two days. Do you think it
would be all right for us to go over there and see Marjorie?" He said, and I noticed this
phrase, "My friends have been dying on me, and I would like to see her." So I called over
there. Norton came on the phone, and I told him that Robert was anxious to see Marjorie
and asked if it would be all right. Well, he held the phone and talked to Marjorie, and of
course it was all right. So Sunday afternoon we went out. He had his famous dog, Big
Shephard, that he had trained, a highly intelligent, awfully nice dog. We took the dog along
so he would have a chance to run on the seashore.
P: So you went to Crescent Beach, not to the Creek?
R: Yes, that is right. She had been flat on her back for months at the house in Crescent Beach,
literally flat on her back. She was not allowed to move around. She had nevertheless
completed the proofreading of the pages of that last volume of hers. I remember that.
Robert asked her something about it, and she told him about the progress of it. It was now in
the hands of Scribner's printers. Then she reached up and pulled Robert's head ... This is
the kind of author's reticence and pride combined. Nobody but Norton down here knew the
title of it. I said, "I will look the other way," and she said, "You can look, but I am not going
to tell you." Robert was standing lower, of course. We had started to move to get away
because we had promised Norton that we would not stay long--she was that bad off. So she
pulled Mr. Frost's head down and whispered in his ear what the title was, and it was a
beautiful title, with all the Biblical connotations, The Sojourner. I never did find out what
Robert thought of the novel, but I thought it was much better than the critics said. Gordon
Bigelow [UF professor of English and author of Frontier Eden: The Literary Career of
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings] rates it as a strained work. I found it a very good, hardy sort of a
novel. Did you read it?
P: No, that is the only one I have not read.
R: Well, if it is not kicking around here where you can lay your hands on it, let me know. I think
you would enjoy it.
P: It is the only one of her books I do not have, too.
R: Is that right? Well, Lord, Sam, I have lost I guess six or eight copies. I began lending them
around to people, I guess faculty and students. The earlier copies that I have are things like
"Lord Bill" ["of the Suwannee River"]. Of course, the things I would like most to have are
N,,uh Moon Under and Cross Creek. They long ago evaporated. They were lent, and I cling
to this one because there is a nice little note written on the fly--it is a prepublication copy that
Marjorie had been sent. They must have sent the books to her to autograph for those whom
she wanted to do it for and then shipped them back. As I recall, this came from Scribner's in
New York, but it had her little note on the fly.
P: How would you describe her as a person?
R: You cannot sum up very briefly. She was one of the most convivial people that I ever knew. She
delighted in much that is beautiful and homey. She had an enormous relish for everything
enjoyable and lovable, and that just bubbled in everything she did. That, of course, had its
counterpart. [What is] inseparable from that kind of nature is that you can be just as
troublesome to people or just as good a hater as you are a lover. So she had a few battles
with her neighbors and ...
P: Some of her friends.
R: Yes, some of her friends. The most notable, and one that was deeply tragic for her because that
cut deep ...
P: Zelma [Cason].
R: I think if you want to come up with your own prescriptions about what happens to people, that
would have taken a lot of light out of Marjorie. That was very stressful and big. The
possibility, of course, is that it would have promoted any alcoholic weaknesses. She was a
very delightful person to have in a crowd. She had enjoyed, when she first settled down in
Cross Creek, doing a lot of manly things. She loved to go hunting, she loved to go fishing,
and did a good deal of it--not so much [as hunting]. She was not as good a shot with a rifle
or shotgun as Martha Micken's old husband used to be. He loved to spin yams. I think he is
still living. But he was quite an old windbag and could be troublesome.
In the years after Marjorie was dead and gone, we were leading such frustrated and frustrating lives
trying to keep the place from going to the demolition bow-wows. I have quite a horrible
story to tell about that. Suppose we pick up on that. I think it ought to be in here.
P: This is Friday, March 21, and we will continue the interview with Professor Robertson. We are
talking about Mrs. Rawlings. You were sort of summing up and suggested that there might
be some additional information.
R: I had used the phrase "horrible story." From several points of view it is one. There was a
misunderstanding as to the value of her [inaudible] to the University and, more particularly,
the part of it that was stipulated in her will to come to the English department, so far as the
administration and utilization of the funds involved was concerned. The story begins, of
course, in the inadequate drafting of the will, as the lawyers, like Erwin Clayton, can tell
you. I had known Cliff and I had known about the tales from it. I had helped when I saw an
old college friend of mine, a friend who went back with to 1912. I think he got out of here
with his law degree in 1914--Phil May of Jacksonville. He is not now practicing actively,
but he was until very recently. He was a good friend of Marjorie's--she devoted to him, he
devoted to her. He and his wife, who is John Martin's sister, are frequently down at the
Creek. Phil got a tremendous personal satisfaction out of helping her devise the requests that
she wanted to make. You perhaps have seen the will. You would be interested in it. Much
of the earlier part--it is a long will--is devoted to a long series of individual requests to
particular items, to particular people.
P: And organizations.
R: And some organizations. That is quite right too. But the conspicuous thing was valued personal
belongings that she wanted to go to particular individuals. Then when it came to the main
disposition of the estate in its totality, Marjorie wanted to give it to the University, and in
two ways. What she wanted, she conceived, and what Phil May knew about conditions here
in the Experimental Station of the University as a whole and about citrus culture [were not
the same]. They just automatically assumed that a tract like that, already a growing orange
grove, which was reasonably profitable, would be valuable and valued by the Experiment
Station people for the promotion of any kind of land research and land studies. Here it was
eighteen miles away and a high land sloping off into the lakes on both sides.
The monetary income from the estate, whatever that might be, was and is bequeathed first to her
husband and her daughter as long as either of them survive. They are the primary legatees.
But upon the death of both of them, the entire income, whatever that may be, comes to the
English department for the study of American literature, and the promotion of creative
writing and for the encouragement and support of an promising creative writing artist. There
was a very careful stipulation--this was completely in accord with Marjorie's feeling about
racial relations--that some portion of the fund must be devoted to promoting the efforts of
Negro students and Negro writers. I forget the phrasing. It has been two or three years or
more since I have looked at the will. I had a complete copy supplied me by Erwin Clayton, I
suppose, for he carried the ball for the president's office when it came to the long, somewhat
tortuous business of probating the will and arriving at some kind of agreement with the two
legatees, Mr. Rawlings and Norton Baskin.
This dragged out for a year and a half or more, with the University trying to not carry its weight or
do its part in the maintenance of the place, especially in keeping that poor old bedraggled
house from complete caving in because of termites. It always needed reroofing and was in
constant need of repair inside. As recently as three years ago we had to keep a large segment
of the flooring in the living room fenced off because there was danger of people breaking an
ankle by going through the termite-ridden flooring.
P: One of the former girls that worked in the library, Linda Sasser, and her husband lived out there
for a while.
R: Right from the very beginning Stan had taken a very constant and helpful hand in all that. He had
ways and means that I did not have. He could always come up in consultation with me and
manage to ride over with someone who was willing to live out there. That ran into trouble,
because two of the students we had living out there used their privileges and did nothing
about doing a few things with their hands.
P: They just had a good time?
R: Like keeping the garden weeded. It got to be a scandal. Of course, Norton and a far distant
brother were not supposed to sacrifice their joint interest income for the maintenance of the
things when they--I thought quite sensibly and correctly--felt that the University ought,
through its maintenance people on the University, to help. Well, we got that done finally; we
got that to jump ahead a little bit, but it was always too little and too late. So for a long
stretch there was a lot of frustration and deliberation about keeping the place straight.
Now, the first jolt that both Phil May and I got was at the very first conference of the people
supposedly interested in the disposition of the Rawlings estate as it related to that
double-featured will to the University for Marjorie and the two prime legatees. Phil and the
two legatees and I assumed that the Experimental Station people would be interested in
taking over the land immediately. But there was nothing more emphatic or instant than the
display of disinterest, not only disinterest but determination not to be caught with something
they apparently felt by this time that Dean [H. Harold] Hume [former provost for agriculture]
had nothing to do with it, the administration of the agricultural three-ply outfit.
P: But Dr. Reitz did.
R: No, he was not in on this. This happened before he became president. He came very soon
P: I thought he was provost at this time.
R: He was very soon afterwards, but he sent the head of the Experiment Station to this meeting. I
would have been caught completely unaware if Dick Johnson, who was of course having
ears in every comer of Tigert Hall, was himself annoyed at what he began to catch might
happen. He tipped me off. He called me one night not long before that meeting and told me
there could be trouble about the utilization of the estate. That was a very useful bit of tip,
because I wrote a note to Phil May, who was, of course, a god with interest because of his
liking for and his fondness for Marjorie and, besides, for his concern about the
administration of her will.
P: And his fondness for the University of Florida. He was an active alumnus.
R: Well, that too. So he shared with me, and it was sort of a shock.
P: What was the Experiment Station? What was their position?
R: I am not sure about this detail, but I think they had already some rather grand ideas about a wider
and more varied terrain, which resulted not so many years afterwards, certainly. That huge
tract runs pretty close into Alachua and runs off to the west--the old Millhopper Road as it
runs westward skirts it--and there is not a handsome paved road that leads into the south
entrance of that huge acreage out there.
At any rate, the lack of concern was made clear. The Experiment Station did not want any part of it.
They did not want to grow grains, they did not want to take care of it, they did not want to
do citrus or other experiments with it.
P: They had not been notified or consulted at the time the will was being handled.
R: I presume not, but that I cannot answer. I am pretty sure not, although I believe that had Dean
Hinson been consulted, he would have been interested in having that sort of request made to
P: Well, the grove has just gone to rack and ruin, hasn't it?
R: The last two heavy freezes ...
P: Killed it really.
R: Well, not quite. Marjorie's near neighbor, right across the road down towards the lake a little bit,
down towards Cross Creek [were the Williams]. Mr. Williams died about a year and a half
ago, maybe two years, but Mrs. Williams tried to continue running the grove interest and the
Cross Creek fruit shipping business. About this time last year she had concluded [her
efforts], and I knew about it before she made the move because [inaudible] had talked with
an old friend of mine who had been ordering fruit from the business for a good while. When
he came along we would try to go out by Cross Creek to take a look at the house, and I have
some old photographs that he made, including color snaps of the house when it was in pretty
good condition. He liked Mrs. Williams, and we visited her at least three times that I recall.
I went by there about this time last year, and Mrs. Williams told me that she was finding it
too much and she was going to try to dispose of the gift box fruit.
P But the University still owns the grove area, doesn't it?
R: Oh, yes, that could not be tampered with. The question of the agricultural people's lack of interest
P: Isn't that the area that they are hoping ...
R: In the caring of both the grove and the house, primarily, that was the troublesome thing.
P: What was Mrs. Rawlings's idea about the utilization of the house?
R: That it could be a residence for a writer in residence or used for instruction for people who lived
P: But this was not done, was it?
R: Well, in a sense. We put people like Gene Barrow and another one of the graduate students [in
there]. Barrow was not a student of Andrew Lytle's, but he and Andrew were on pretty good
terms. And then there was a student in creative writing who had done his thesis with
Andrew about 1952 or 1953 and who had a small job in the library. Gene's presence there
meant a great deal to the development of a creative writing class.
P: And, of course, he was a good friend of Mrs. Rawlings's, too.
R: Incidentally, when I got around to assigning him to some English work, he did it marvelously
well. At least twice--I do not think it was more than twice--I got Gene to give the course in
creative writing. He devoted it to writing verse, and he made that a very stem, stiff, honest,
hard-working course. It did not draw, of course, nearly as many students, either
undergraduate or graduate, as Andrew's courses did. They got too heavy. We had the entry
to the catalog so that it could be used for that purpose. Gene gave it with a lot of relish, and
he really held his students' feet to the fire. They did a great deal of book work, and they
came away from his course knowing a good deal about the good solid historical aspects of
P: So anyway, he did lay off that for awhile.