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Sub: Pedro Fernandez
Int: Tom King
K: Dr. Fernandez when and where you born?
F: Well, I born in 1896 in Oviedo, Spain.
K: And you came to this country when?
F: I came to this country in 19...1 think it was in 1914.
K: Why did you decide to leave Spain and come to the United
F: First of all, I went to Cuba where my family had a business.
I thought that I would be with them, but I didn't like
Havana at the time. Then I came to this country. I believe
it was two years later, though I don't remember exactly.
The past is always very...I forget the past very easily,
dates and so forth. I never pay any attention to them. But
I think I was in Havana two years, and then I came here.
K: So you would have been approximately twenty years of age
when you came to the United States.
F: That's right.
K: How much education had you received in Spain before you came
to the United States?
F: Well, I had received a public and a high school, or what
they call there the institute. It's equivalent to, supposed
to be equivalent to, four years high school and two years
college. But there are some subjects that were required in
this country that we didn't cover. For instances the
schools in Spain didn't have the laboratories that you have
here in chemistry and biology. So my credentials were not
recognized in certain aspects. Those courses I had to take
over again, chemistry and biology, I think that was all I
took. I had done very good work in math, and, as far as I
remember, those are the only two courses that I was required
K: Well, at that time in life, what did you intend to become
F: Well, the reason for my coming here was to study medicine.
Because I intended to study medicine in this country, then
after I finish, I will go to Paris and get a postdoctoral in
Paris, and then go to Madrid. Then with the Spanish and
French and English, in Madrid I could do very well. But
things turned out different.
K: Were there any medical people in your family background?
F: There was an uncle, he was a doctor, and I also have now a
cousin who is a doctor in Oviedo.
K: Of course, medical schools take some money. Perhaps you could
tell me what sort of business your family was in, and
whether or not they were well to do.
F: My father was not well to do. My uncles were. One of them
had perhaps the largest cigar factory in Cuba.
F: He must have been....
K: What is the name of the cigar?
F: Romeo and Julieta, yes. They had approximately 2,000
employees working in the factory. He had paid one of my
brothers studies here; he studied business in this country.
I counted on him and his helping me on my work, I mean pay
for, take care of expenses while I was here.
K: What was your uncle's name?
F: His name was a Pepin Rodrigues. He was very well known in
Havana; as a matter of fact, he was one of the founders of
the country club only Castro had changed the club. His
painting was there, I mean his portrait was there in the
country club, as one of the most important founders of the
country club in Havana. He knew French and English and
traveled a great deal. He was very, very wealthy.
K: Did he have any influence in the United States?
F: Well, I guess his influence was related to his business in a
way, because those cigars were sold illegally in the United
States. He used to stop at the Waldrof Astoria when he came
always. He was very generous, or with a entertaining. I
guess that was the way in which he sold his merchandise. He
lived most of the time in Paris; outside the city of Paris,
he had a chalet there.
K: Was he able to ease your passage into this country in any way?
F: I didn't ask him.
K: You didn't ask him.
F: No. I came first class. I came in the Saratoga of the Ward
Line. I came first class. Then when the first time I left
the country, I left in tourist.
K: Where did you come into the country?
F: In New York.
K: Was there any difficulty in your....
F: No, in those days if you came second class or worse, then
they ask all sorts of questions. But if you came first
class, they didn't bother you at all. I came in, you see, I
was well dressed, and I traveled in first class. They just
looked at my name, and that was that. No question about it.
K: Was there anyone here to meet you?
F: Well, I had a cousin that I had never seen. He was very
kind, and not much help in the way of....He had been away
from Spain for many years, and he was considerably older
than I was, because I come from a family of fourteen. I was
number twelve. In terms of age, he could have been my
father; he was rather an old man already when I met him. He
was kind to me; he helped me wherever he could, not to a
very great extent.
K: Did he live in New York?
F: Yes, he lived in New York.
K: And did you live with him after you came into this country?
F: I never lived with him, no. I had some money in my pocket,
I mean I brought some money along. That's the only question
they asked me, by the way.
K: Did you have any money?
F: "How much money are you bringing into the country." I told
them I'm coming first class, and with the money I have,
there was no question at all about it. So I prefer not to
live with my cousin; I preferred to live alone. So I lived
alone until things began to go bad; until, my money began to
K: Did you speak English well?
F: No. I don't speak English well today either.
K: Does that present any problems for you?
F: Any problems? Many problems, many problems. The attitude
towards foreigners was quite different from today. We have
become used to foreigners. When I tried to find work, there
were two things against me: one, that I didn't know the
language well, and two that I was a foreigner. Now if you
are a foreigner and you belong to your part of a colony, a
large colony, like the Italians have a large colony in New
York, then the colony has sort of a protective attitude
towards somebody who comes from the same country--you know
the foreign colony. They have organizations, too. But the
Spaniards in New York were very, very few. Very few
Spaniards. As a matter of fact, even in those days there
very few Latin Americans in New York. So I was really on my
own, and for awhile I had a hard time, but I survived.
K: When did you start in medical school?
F: I didn't start medical school. I went to New York
University, and I study the premedical work. I think it was
in 19, I can't remember the time because I never know. But
it was after some years after I was in New York. I went to
Washington Square, took premedical work. Then a man who was
in charge of the premedical work, seemed to be waiting for
me, for the end of the year to come, to see how I would do.
His name was Millard. At the end of the year, I came out
with a grades that were As and Bs, and, mind you, it was
very difficult for me because sometimes I didn't understand
the lecturer, the professors. I understood them in science,
because in science the vocabulary is not to different. But
in other subjects, in political science for instance, and
all the courses.....His idea apparently was that I was going
to fail, and he wouldn't have any problems. Well, when I
finished with this course, and he realized that I finished
with an average of about B+, or something like that, he
called me to his office. He said that he could not accept
me for the recommendation. I have kept this, and I really
feel that this, really I don't like to speak about it. Dean
Graham called me to his office and told me that he was
terribly sorry, but that the only thing he could do as dean
of Arts and Sciences is transfer me to arts and sciences.
Of course, I felt that they were lost years. But there was
no nothing I could do under those conditions, you see. When
a person is in a foreign country and alone, as I felt that I
was, you seem to be, I felt that I was being hit by all
sides, all the time. So I was extremely grateful to Dean
Graham and I told him that under the conditions there was no
alternative for me. Because New York University did not
recommend me for the medical school, on the basis of
personality and I don't know what else Professor Munhard had
in mind. I could hardly go to another university to help
me. So then I changed to arts and sciences. After having
finished two years of premedical. That's how I ....
K: How were you getting money for tuition?
F: Well, I did get from a, I had besides my uncle, I had two
brothers who were very well off. One was very much favored
by my uncle. And I used to work in the summer; sometimes I
tutored. For instance I tutor a Ben Phippe, who lives here
in Florida now. They were multimillionaires. I tutor him
too; so he would be able to enter Yale University. I never
knew and I don't believe yet that a multimillionaire was
ever turned down by Yale. And a when I told Mrs. Fipps
that, do you do you think he'll he'll be able enter Yale, I
said any multimillionaire has the doors open to come into
Yale, whether he knows anything or not. Anyway I put him
through, I stayed with him and I went to Palm Beach with
him during the summer and I tutor some other people. Later
on in my life I tutor Guggenheim, Harry F. Guggenheim, when
he was named ambassador to Cuba. I made some money that
way; I mean I earned some money that way. Then all the
jobs, I worked for the steamship company; a company that was
called the Caribbean Steamship Company. In no time at all,
I went there for my vacation, and in no time at all I was
the man who was in charge of the forwarding department, that
is dispatching the ships, take care of the bill of lading's,
and invoices, consular invoices, and writing shipping
documents, and I was left in this position. When September
came for me to go back to school, I combined, which was very
difficult in those days. The head of the shipping company,
Mr. Plassitus, was so satisfied with my work that he said
you can do this and continue studying. I didn't think I
could, but he gave me a very confident typist, very good
typist. He was an Indian, a Mexican Indian. He could turn
out an awful lot of work if he was told what to do. So I
managed to do that, and I studied for, continued studying
for two and half years and working in the steamship company.
And I could work at night, any hours I wanted. That was a
godsend; it was really very, very wonderful. I was very
happy during those two and a half years.
K: What did you get your degree in, your bachelor's degree?
K: What subject?
F: What subject? This is strange because everything I did
always turned out different. I majored in psychology, I
don't know why I majored in psychology. I laugh when I
think of it. But I was interested in literature, and I took
all the courses in literature, the Spanish literature, some
in French. I already knew, because I used to read a great
deal our literature, I mean the spanish literature. But I
also read Russian and German and English literature and
always was very much interested in literature. But I felt
that in literature there was a great deal of psychology, and
other things. It was like a laboratory, a social and human
laboratory, the psychology was there. Domestic conditions
and emotions and so forth, you know, and in all kinds of
literature. The russian novelists like Turgenev or
Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy or you take novels like Madame
Bovary, they are real psychological stories. I feel that
this literature was a tremendous help for me in the field of
psychology. That contributed so much that others didn't
have, who were taking the same courses. But I meant to go
in psychology. In those days if you were a Russian, they
expected you to know about psychology, see. But if you were
a Spaniard, they didn't expect you to. Really there are
some things that are almost amusing when I look back now.
However, I did not listen, people call it to my attention.
A professors of psychology and that they thought that I had
followed a wrong line, and I thought perhaps I was. Before
this was tested, as far as my experience is concerned, a
woman died in the department, a teacher of spanish
literature. I had finished my B.A. and I was starting my
K: Was your B.A. in psychology, that was the degree?
F: Yes. I had finished my B.A., with major in psychology. I
could have said that I had majored also in...
F: Literature, because I had enough credits in literature to
call it a major, but I call it a minor. Because they say no
you your supposed to have a... You know, sometimes there
was certain rules in the universities, that as I look back
they were very unusual and they were very square. You know,
you had a major and two minors, that's all, you see. But
they didn't recognize two majors, see. Well this woman die,
and the head of the department, who knew me very well, his
name was Barlow, told me to, can you take her classes?
Well, I was not afraid of taking any, I wasn't afraid to
take any class in literature, because I always felt that in
these classes I knew a great deal more than the professors,
and I knew I knew more than the professors. I had read not
only in the spanish, but in the french, and in russian, and
in german, and english, I had read the whole all the
important novels in England, including the Forsythe Saga
from beginning to end, by Gals Worthy, and so when I asked
me, he asked me to take courses, see he didn't ask me to
take elementary courses, they were advanced courses, you
know. Her name was Theresa Flores. Well I took this
course, and continued studying. And this if funny, I
developed an ulcer, and I used to teach attend classes and
then go to the infirmary and lie down in the infirmary. By
the end of the year Professor Barlow asked me can you come
back in September? I said what conditions. He said, well a
member of the department. So that was the a circumstances
leading me away from anything that I had ever intended.
Because literature to me was a cultural thing, but never did
I intend to go into that field at all. So this is how I a
became a instructor first in spanish. And to give an idea,
and to stop in this for a second, to give you an idea of how
circumstances sometimes lead you into directions that you,
directions that you didn't intend to, that you didn't intend
to go. I used to take courses in the New School of Social
Research in New York, in economics and in political science.
And then I was terribly surprised when the head of the
Department of economics asked me to take a course in
economics, teach a course in economics. And I, I ended up
by teaching two courses in economics and two courses in
literature, peculiar combination when you think of it. When
I came to Florida I was teaching economics and literature.
K: You got your master's degree in what in French?
F: No. I got my master's degree in a spanish, and a the a my
economics, I mean my work in economics came after my
master's. See? When I felt that I wanted to take a little
time off and do the things that I wanted to do, and I
continued teaching with my master's, which wasn't difficult
in those days. I attended the schools in the New School of
social research in New York.
K: Did you get you master's degree from New York University?
K: And what about your PhD?
F: I never had a PhD.
K: You never got one.
F: No. I started writing, and writing, and you see I published
seven books. So I didn't want to take off time to go for
the PhD because I was getting credit for my writings.
K: When did you publish your first book?
F: You have, ask me a question there that would be difficult to
answer. Must have been 1938 or 1940, I don't know. A...
K: When did you begin teaching?
F: You see, when you ask me questions like that, it is very
difficult for me to answer them.
K: I'm sorry.
F: I must have begin teaching about 1928, 1927 or 1928--I don't
know, about that time. But I'm not certain, I want to be
very truthful in all these things. I never remember when
people ask me when did you arrive in this country, when did
you do this...
F: Because, to me it's unimportant, except that those questions
are always asked, see. Evarra, here, Professor Evarra, who
took my place in the University of Florida, he remembers
every little thing, you know. And to me those dates aren't
important. See? I came to this country I did this, I did
that and all that. But, when it comes to the chronological
part, I never, I never know when I got married for instance,
see--my wife gets very angry. But I, it's not important, I
got married, it's important.
K: Um hum.
F: The day that I got married, it may important in that you
want to celebrate it when the time comes--she wants to
celebrate it. But it's not important to me, it never had
been important to me. If a, I have a wonderful memory, I
can go to classes and in two days I remember the names of
all the students in the class. And, but, when you ask of
things in the past--for instance, when I they ask me to go
and work for the Office of War Information to broadcast in
New York during the war. If you ask me, I don't know when I
went into the Office of War Information. Then they sent me
to Algiers, I don't know when they sent me to Algiers. I
know that I broadcast in the office of war information for a
long time, teaching at the same time in the university. I
know that then they asked me to go to London first, then
they asked me to go to Algiers, to broadcast in Algiers. I
don't know when.
K: Could you tell me when you became a citizen of the United
F: Yes, I think I can. I think I became a citizen of the
United States in 1926.
K: Why had you decided to give up spanish citizenship, and become
a citizen of the United States? A, earlier you had
mentioned that you had hoped to return to Europe and
F: Remember what I intended to do.
K: To practice medicine.
F: Yes. It's easy to make a living, a good living, in Spain if
you are a doctor in Madrid, and can speak two languages.
K: Um hum.
F: Or three languages in this case. But a teaching literature,
there are many many competent and wonderful persons in Spain
who can teach literature. I wouldn't come to this country
to study literature in order to teach in Spain, because all
I could do is to learn to play the guitar and collect
pennies. No, it's not easy.
F: And they are usually a class, you know, that they protect
each other, and I wasn't part of it, I came from a from a
family that was not related to them, and they were not in
that sphere at all. See? So now after that I realized that
the only thing here I had a position, and the only thing for
me to do was become an American citizen. It was even
important for the position at the university, and I was
advised to become a citizen.
K: Yeah. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, did you have any
reaction to that?
F: Oh, I was very active in it, in connection with the Spanish
Civil War. I spoke all over the Northern part of the United
States, collecting for milk and medical supplies for Spain.
I never took charge of the collections, a group whoever
organized the meeting Springfield, Massachusetts, or in
Minneapolis, or someplace, they took care of this matter--
but I was one of the speakers, for the speakers, I called
into the meeting.
K: For which side now?
F: Oh, I could only speak for one side.
K: But which one?
F: Franco, I I I mean I mean Franco, the government, my God the
government, God forgive me. No.
K: I don't know this, you know.
F: You don't know? Well Franco was a fascist, and...
K: Oh, I know all about Franco, but I don't know for which side
you [inaudible] ....
F: Oh, no.
K: So I had to ask you questions like that.
F: No, No, I was a 100% for the republic, because, you know...
K: I see.
F: Later on, not later on, I had already translated the
constitution of the republic into english, which was
published in the New York Sun, and then in Current History
magazine June 1932, and that was a that was a constitution,
it was about 10,000 or 11,000 words, and rather difficult
because I had not studied law. I always undertook to do
something that I knew, sometimes or circumstances forced me
into that, I was asked to translate it. No I was very
closely identified with the people of the republic. And a,
I worked during the whole time of the Spanish Civil War in
as much as I could to help a that side. Franco, I would
rather die than work for Franco.
K: Did you work for the republicans in a formal capacity, or was
this entirely voluntary something that you did on your own?
F: No, it was voluntary. The organizations here administered
it and then after that, when I translated the constitution,
the Spanish government offered me a certain amount of money
for me to continue, I mean for me to continue, excuse me, to
continue with the translation. And translate the
supplementary laws of the constitution. And Harvard
University was interested in this project too. But then the
civil war came a ended, unfortunately on the side of Franco.
And the whole thing came to a stop. But the constitution
published is my translation.
K: Did you ever consider returning to Spain, during the Spanish
F: During the Spanish Civil War?
F: To go there and fight?
F: Well, one always has an impulse, but when I went my I was
married, and a had a position in the university and, besides
I remember that a my age already...
F: I was not a young boy. And some of my students went to
Spain, and I hope I wasn't instrumental in influencing them.
It was a it was a very terrible thing for me, because I
wanted so much for the republic to survive. And the
intellectual in Spain too, they had taken all them, I don't
know intellectuals are necessarily good in government, but I
felt they would be. I was very very disappointed when
everything turned against Spain, including all the
countries, democratic countries, France, every democratic
country, the United States wouldn't sell anything. But they
had all the help they wanted from Germany, and from Italy,
the other side, see. Well I, you see a, a the civil war,
when the civil war came, I, that was in 1936, and I was over
40 by that time. A so I, one feels, you know, I had a very
good friend a painter who went to Spain, and he was killed
in Spain, well he was 52. At 52 he was a very well known
artist and I know all the people who went there at quite an
advance age, considering military service, but I a.... then
another thing, you see, I had adopted a little girl, and
she's now married. I had responsibilities.
K: You said earlier that you had worked for the office of war
information, in the United States, after World War II broke
out. Who contacted you about that? Did you volunteer your
services, or did the government send somebody?
F: No, no, no they contacted me. You see I was doing, I had
been doing public speaking. You see, one war followed the
K: I know.
F: And I had been doing public speaking all over the North,
Northern part of the United States, so the, mostly in the
Northeast, I guess that's how they found out about me.
K: You had been doing public speaking in the cause of republican
Spain, or something else?
F: Republican Spain, that was before the ...
K: Yeah, it was...
F: Before the World War.
K: But that ended in 1939.
F: That's right.
K: So for two years, between 1939 and 1941, what, did you
continue to teach...graduate work?
F: I continued to teach, yes.
K: At where, New York University?
F: New York University, yes.
K: And then in 1941 you were contacted by the War Office, or whom
ever it was?
F: I I it was a surprise to me, I received this letter and I
took it to the dean, and the dean said well go ahead, and
see what they want, see. So they wanted me to broadcast.
I used to broadcast, a a do six broadcasts every night.
K: From, from where?
F: From New York. The office was in Broadway and I think it
was a a Broadway and 49 or 47 around there, up there. And
um, well I broadcasted in the night, I used to come back
about one or two o'clock in the morning, and teach classes
the next day. I got special permission from the university.
And it was then that I was asked to go to, first to London
to continue my broadcasts from there, because here
broadcasting to Latin America.
K: Um hum.
F: And then they changed there mind and asked me to go to
Algiers. And a I accepted although I was losing one salary,
I had two salaries.
F: I was teaching in the university, with the permission of the
university broadcasting in the office of war information.
This is as long...
K: What sort of frame were you broadcasting?
F: Well war news, war news, of course war news that's just
propaganda. You see, all the news during the war, are a
combination of news and propaganda, either by omission,
because omission can be propaganda--see, if you are defeated
some place and you don't you don't say anything about it, in
all the news you are victorious in such and you claim the
victory be more important than defeat.
K: Um hum.
F: There is a great deal of propaganda in it, I had to write
the scripts. I had directives, you know, the moment you get
out of line, they call it to your attention. For instance
once when I was sent to North Africa, and then from North
Africa I was sent to later on to Morocco. And in Morocco,
while I was in Morocco they had a strike in Spain, Franco
was against this you know. And I protest this, to me it was
very important, showing that things in Spain were not, they
moving in our side. My, in 48 hours I got very strict
instructions form Washington not to touch on anything
relating to Spain without their consent. Because that time
I was in charge of the registration, see. In Rabat, and I
got page that long instructing me all the things that I
could not do in connection with the Spain. And this is
interesting if you are interested in that. Algiers used to
broadcast to New York ...
K: Oh, I didn't know that.
F: For the press, you see, they have the United Press, and
Associated Press, and so on, broadcasting for publication,
for publication in New York. Then I found one day through
the monitors, my monitors I had in the station, I could hear
the broadcasting that apparently hit the mountains of Spain,
and then bounced back to Rabat[Morocco]. So I was getting
the news ahead of New York, or just as fast, and I began to
broadcast news that New York hadn't broadcast because or
published in the newspapers
K: Uh hun.
F: Because I had, you see, I didn't have a big organization.
So I got this and immediately I would write the scripts,
immediately I got from Washington instructions that I should
not broadcast and not only that I must tell them how how I
got this information, see. When I told them I don't how I
get it, my monitor just get it, and they said no, not they
gave me a limit of time, I think it was two days or
something like that, I could not touch on this news that I
was getting from some mysterious mountain somewhere. Well,
of course this has nothing to do with the University of
K: You went into Morocco long after it had been occupied, is that
F: Oh, yes. I went to Morocco after it was occupied. By the
time, well of course first I went to North Africa, I went to
K: Um hum.
F: I was in Algiers for some short time I realized that they
were not making use of me in Algiers.
K: Were you broadcasting in Spanish from Algiers?
F: No, in Algiers I came there, and a I had a very amusing
experience for me, they told me to take it easy, put me in
the hotel, and when a I went to see, finally I got tired of
not doing anything, I went to see Colonel Hasseltine who was
in charge of that body...
K: Colonel who?
K: Hasseltine. Okay [inaudible].
F: He was in charge to, of the psychological warfare, that was
the group that I was in, psychological warfare. And I told
him that I had been sent to there supposedly that I was
needed there, that I had left two positions in New York. He
said, who needed you here? Well they told me that
Eisenhower. He said Eisenhower needed you? I said well
that's what they told me, but I don't think they needed me,
but I don't why they need you either. Well I demanded that
to be sent back, and instead of that they sent me, they
asked me to go to Rabat in Morocco--to take charge of the
radio station in Morocco. That's how I came to Morocco.
K: Well what's the purpose of the radio station in Morocco?
F: Well, to broadcast to Spain, and to Latin America from
there. It's it's in the Atlantic coast.
K: I see, okay.
F: You see, a Spain is a short distance.
F: And we beamed this broadcast to Latin America and to Spain.
K: But you were never to mention Spain in your broadcasts?
F: Yes, I could mention, no in theory a I mean a, things
happening in Spain I was not supposed to mention them unless
I was given instructions to do it. There is a a, you speak
propaganda, there are many very subtle aspects of
propaganda. One is the complete omission, of things that
you know that are news. Even in the case of Spain when the
omission was required because they felt that they wanted to
still hope that Franco would be more friendly to our cause.
Another reason is not to give the enemy any comfort, so I
omit as much as possible defeats, anything that was bad, and
I minimize as much as possible anything that favored the
enemy. But not to tell them truths, just to white wash them
a bit, just to change them a bit, you know, omit and
minimize and maximize according to the subject of the
K: Did you remain in Rabat until the end of the war?
F: No. It was practically the end of the war. I developed my
ulcer--I told you that I had an ulcer.
F: Came back, and I was very sick with the ulcer. And they
tell that I that I had to be operated on, go back to the
states. And in case that I wanted an operation, they said,
that it would be better if I would be operated in Washington
or New York. So they sent me back to Oran[Algeria] in North
Africa, and then I came back in a convoy. That was shortly
before the end of the war. They had already in landed in
Italy, and they were close to the end of the war. But I can
not tell you again exactly when it was.
K: Okay, let me turn this off.
F: Except that I think that I came back in 19, I I am no use,
because I I don't know exactly. I think it was sometime in
the year 1944, but I'm not certain. I should have kept
End of Tape A side 1
K: Could you tell me when you met Antoine de Saint-Exupery?
F: Well, I met him on board of a ship in the convoy that went
to Algiers. The Saint-Exupery were all in army uniforms
and Saint-Exupery appeared on board in the uniform of the
French Airforce, dark blue uniform. Strange enough he
walked almost to the length of the ship straight to me, and
spoke to me. And he said he knew me. I looked at him, I
didn't know who he was. I said, well I would be delight to
know you, but I am sure you never met me. He said, no I
never met you, but I know you. He did very remarkable
things, and the way of guessing anything that people did to
me, a it's a very it's a very strange thing to me, because I
don't believe in anything supernatural, I don't believe.
Yet Saint-Exupery used to think that was very strange when
he came to me.... And a during the trip we played chess,
and we spoke, you know, about literature. And he had a
mountains of candy, chocolate candy and cigarettes, Turkish
cigarettes. In those days I smoked, I still like candy, and
I ate a lot of chocolates and smoked cigarettes. And I have
a book that you might be interested in seeing, it's called
La Terre Des Hommes, The Land of Men, which he writes, he
writes a big autograph. And he you know he draws, the book
the LePetit Pierre, The little Peter, was illustrated by
him. And in this in this a autograph he writes of our
experiences of the trip, and a shows a summary and so forth.
But he says at the end, in remembrance of all the games of
chess that I won, and all the cigarettes and candy that I
took from you. It was the very opposite; I had no
cigarettes and candy, and he never won a game. But he, he
was very very always upset that he would lose a game of
chess. And then then well he had just published or he was
in the, had just published, yes, LePetit Pierre which was
Little Pierre, it was called in english, in english. And he
wrote an autograph for my daughter, who was a little girl,
as written by the Little Prince to her, because she was a
little girl of 8 or 9, and had this page joined to the book
by the publishers, and sent it to my little girl. Then in
Algiers nobody trusted him, nobody trusted him. They
thought that he was on the side of Vichy, Vichy wasn't it
F: Vichy, yes. Where the government was.
K: Why would they think that?
F: Well, there may have been some truth in it, I don't know. I
hadn't been in this line of business...
F: They didn't trust him, and for a long for some time for a
short we used to see each other, and he used to come to my
office, in psychological warfare. When I contacted the
office of Eisenhower no, the answer was no. Saint-Exupery
was not to be employed. So we saw each other until I went
K: What was he doing there, if he was not to be employed? What
was his function?
F: Nothing, nobody wanted him.
K: Was anybody paying him?
F: I don't know how he lived, I don't know how he lived. He
seemed a alright. he used to eat with me, if you call that
eating, because the mess we used to eat, all we ate was
spam morning, afternoon, and night in different forms, and I
ended up by eating nothing but bread and peanut butter and
coffee--that's probably why my ulcer came back.
K: I guess so.
F: But Saint Exupery who didn't eat spam so often, he didn't
seem to find anything wrong with it, and once in awhile he
would go to a restaurant where he would find, and they's
prepare something different, and it tasted good to me, I
think it was cat or rabbit or I never asked--one waiter told
me don't ask any questions about the food. And a I was very
sorry not to see Saint-Exupery. When I came to Oran when I
was ill, I saw him again. He came to see me to the
hospital, I was in the hospital. And he told me that he was
going to disappear and that they were going to report that
he was dead. But I should never believe it. He was going
to go to some islands in the Pacific to keep away from our
civilization--that he didn't like it.
K: How did he intend to do this, to get to the Pacific?
F: Well, he didn't tell me. But then when I came to New York I
told my wife, told my wife, she said, how about Saint-
Exupery. I told her what he had told me. And about two
weeks later on a Sunday morning, my wife came rushing back
to me with the New York Times and said, look, Saint-Exupery
has been lost and they found a little bit and this little
thing that was supposed to be on his plane, the plane that
he was flying. Well I always hoped that what he told me was
true, and that the report was not true. But he told me, if
you were to meet Mrs. Fernandez, as I told her, that this
was going to be reported, and that I should never believe
it, because he would be hiding from this world.
K: Did he tell you why he wanted to hide from this world, why he
wanted to leave?
F: Well, he was disgusted with the civilization here like
Little Pierre. Well Little Pierre is indicative of his
escapist personality, of Saint-Exupery. Very charming
little book, very charming. In my conversations with him on
board and later on in Orana he manifested his disgust with
present day conditions, in terms of that time. His wife was
a woman who was very much interested in spiritualism, and
she was at the same time a club woman. He told me I never
met this woman. He seemed to be a loner from that point of
view. I can't describe him. He was very spiritual. He was
very gentle very sweet in personality. And he looked like a
dreamer, very much of a dreamer, in his eyes large eyes.
And a very soft voice, voice. Perhaps his personality can
best be illustrated by the fact that he hardly spoke to
anyone on board the ship. He spoke to another man whose
name was Southworth, who had also been in the Office of War
Information and who was quite an intellectual and used to
call him Fritz. And a beyond that I don't think that he
spoke more than a dozen words or so with some of the men he
K: Now he died shortly after rather he disappeared shortly after
you had returned to the United States then?
F: Yes, yes. And I still fell today I still hope that he will
be found. Because why did he choose to tell me of this, or
this intent to commit suicide and that was the way so I
would know, so I would think that he would be alive when he
wasn't. I don't know.
F: But I lived for many years hoping that Saint-Exupery would
be found in the South Pacific someplace where he said that
one could live very happily in a very pure atmosphere,
speaking one must speak in the social sense the economic
sense and so forth political. Perhaps, I don't know.
K: Well after the war ended did you return to teaching?
F: Yes, I returned to teaching.
K: Again at NYU?
F: Yes. I taught again economics and Spanish literature. I
was so pleased because they seemed to be so happy to get me
back. And then I came back to I received a letter from the
University of Florida asking me inviting me to teach at the
University of Florida. I didn't that there was such a place
as the University of Florida. I asked a professor there do
you know what sort of a university is this, is it only all a
little bit of a university in the backwoods of the state, a
cow college? You see? And then when I spoke to the dean
the they invited me to teach here he said, well it might be
a growing university but it I were you I wouldn't go but
because you are alright here but you may visit it and see
what you fell about it. And a when I visited during
Christmas time, I was a New York was a cold you know dark
and rainy and cold, and my daughter had bronchitis and came
here and it was a nice sunny day golden day beautiful. The
University had 5,600 students so it was really a cow
college. But it was a cow college a is a is not related to
the numbers I found because I found universities colleges at
which I spoke that are very small colleges and they were not
cow colleges. But a cow college was a mentality. Some
people who where there in the administration and teaching
would not like to hear this. But really it was, when they
say they spoke to me and discussed this because I wasn't
particularly eager to come in some respects. But I liked
the place. And they told me they praised the university and
how everything was or everything was everybody was happy
here. I said, Well people are happy in the cemetery too.
The question of cow college I discussed it with one of them,
and then later on I found out that it was true--it was a
mentality. For instance if I may tell you what things
were... They require a language for everyone to graduate
you know in arts and sciences, to prepare for something else
a language was required, a foreign language. In this
university they have a rule that a student coming from
Germany or France or Latin American or Spain who knew
english and spanish that did not say that he had to study a
foreign language because he did know a foreign language.
And when I said to the university but he knows a foreign
language, oh no that's his language. But the foreign
language is english. I couldn't get them I couldn't
convince them. Imagine what mentality that is, see. Here
is a person we can teach a student four years or five years
in some of our instructors, and the student doesn't know the
F: My students did learn the language, believe me. Because I
spoke to them in spanish. Therefore after four years after
of working on a language they go to Latin america and they
have a hard time. But here was a student coming from France
or Spain or Germany and knowing both languages, and no that
was not recognized see. They're required that you study
another language see. And when you, I had gone through this
in trying to study courses in another language from my own
when I my own and I realized how difficult it is. And I
tried to convince the administration that they know they
already knew a foreign language and their reply was no that
isn't a foreign language that's their language. Now if that
gives you an idea of the kind of a mentality they had. For
instance a fight that I continued for years from my part and
the school of education. In the school of education they
had one of our students who had one year of spanish or
french or something like that, and give him pump him full of
methodology courses--the community and the child, the child
and the community and the classroom and all that. I went to
P. K. Yonge where the classes were being given and I went
from class to class and I couldn't tell one class the
difference between one class and the other. They all
sounded the same to me. But they had to take all these
courses to be a certified to teach courses in education.
They pay no attention at all how much spanish or how much
french or how much german the student knew. The important
thing to take the courses in education. Well I fought that
with all I could and I made myself very very very unhappy
made others very unhappy. I remember that in the first time
somebody told me that I was rocking the boat, I said, I hope
it sinks. Today it's a little different but still the
emphasis is still the methodology courses: but they are
they want them to study more the language. Because these
students would go to the high schools and know all about the
child and the community and the community and the teacher,
and the teacher and the child and so forth, whatever the
titles were that were like that. They sometimes took a
course which I believe in the history of education. But
most of the things didn't help them that much in teaching
the language. Knowing the language fluently knowing the
grammar of the language knowing the literature knowing the
history of the country of the language they were teaching
that was disregarded completely disregarded. And a that
again is part of my saying we were a cow college. Each...
K: Why then did you decide to come to the University of Florida?
F: Well, this is a you see I'm a story writer I have published
quite a lot of short stories, and there's a story on that.
I was living with Professor Hays, who's still here.
K: That's Francis Hayes, right?
F: Francis Hayes. He wanted very much for me to stay here, to
accept the position. And I didn't want to hurt his
feelings. On New Year's night or Christmas Night, again I
don't know, but it was either Christmas Eve or New Year's
Eve, I went down town to telephone my wife in New York to
tell her that I was coming back that I wasn't going to come
here. The telephone company was, if you know where the
Episcopal church is, right across from the Episcopal church-
-not in front of the church but on the side of the church.
There was an old building there where it's occupied now
completely by Wilson. But in the second floor of that
building was the telephone company--that's all the telephone
company that was here and locomotives on Main Street. And
down stairs they had two telephone booths. So I came there
to make a long distance call so Hayes would not hear me make
the telephone call. And the woman told me the operator told
me that I had to wait about fifteen or twenty minutes that
she would call me down stairs told me where.... I was waiting
there when there was the most beautiful music came from
somewhere. Then I noticed that the church was lit up and
there was music and singing. And then around the corner
appeared a group of people dressed in church clothes playing
one was playing a viola and the other was playing something
else and the other were singing. They marched along the
sidewalk and came in through the other door through the side
door of the church. They came into the front came out
through the front went around the church and went into the
side door exactly across from where I was standing. It was
a very beautiful music. And when I was watching them going
into the church the telephone rang I went to the telephone
the operator said the connection is made. I said how is
everything there? And my wife said oh terrible, the little
girl is pretty sick and I don't feel to well either
terrible weather in New York. And here I was in a place
where it was warm and sun shine, it was beautiful. I said I
was going to tell you that I was coming back that we would
not come here but I wonder. She said anywhere I will go.
She said I'll go anywhere. Well so I went back and I asked
the dean whether he'd give me permission to leave the
university. He said, no I'm not going to the permission but
if you want to leave you can do it he said. So I came here
in January of that year.
K: Could you make as much money here as you were making at
F: No, no my salary was not it was about the same or perhaps
even a 200 dollars less--I don't remember.
K: Can you remember what it was what you were making?
F: 4,400 dollars or 4,600 dollars. You know salaries were
quite different in those days. I think it was 4,600 or
4,800 or something like that.
K: And you were brought in as a member of what faculty?
F: Language and literature. Because in those days the head of
the departments of the department of english was also head
for all the foreign languages, although he didn't speak he
didn't know any foreign language himself. He was Archie
Schields, no no Archie Robertson, Robertson. Archie
Schields is the manager in Henry Hull, the publisher of my
F: Archie Robertson. He was very good to me, and he was very
friendly to me always.
K: But you taught some economics courses as well, I believe?
F: No, not here.
K: You never taught economics here at all.
F: No, I never taught economics here.
K: Okay, I misunderstood you. I thought that you had.
F: No. I taught economics in New York University but not here.
K: And you arrived at the University of Florida in what year?
F: You know that I have to find I had to call the head of the
department to answer you today. I thought I arrived here in
1948 or 49, and he told me no I arrived in 1947.
Chronologically, you can't take my word for anything--I
mean in terms of time.
K: How many members were there of the language and literature
F: I don't know, because there was english and german and
spanish and and french and italian, there weren't many.
There are more in one department now than there were in the
whole department of romance languages at the time.
K: That's why I asked. Was anybody else teaching spanish?
F: Yes, Hayes and Wershow.
K: Oh, he's been here that long.
F: Yes, Wershow was here--he's dying now. It was very very
there were three of us teaching and there was an instructor
an assistant or something like that.
K: Did any of you have you PhD?
F: Yes, Hayes had it and Wershow had it. Yes, they all had it
F: In French, I don't know; I don't think so. In french I
think there were two people teaching three two I don't know.
K: Shortly after you arrived at the University of Florida the
McCarthy Era began.
K: I'm wondering if this caused you any problems, since you had
represented republican Spain in the United States?
F: Lots of problems.
K: Can you tell me some of them?
F: Yeah. When I arrived here oh there was a man who was in
charge of Latin American students.
K: Can you remember his name?
F: Martin, Martin-- I usually forget names too but after a
certain time--but Martin was the name. He was married to a
woman from Chile. She was a very very religious woman and
he had been a Presbyterian, and she convert him to
F: And from that time on he felt that he to convert all
humanity. Well he came to see me one day I had a house in
Hibiscus, and he told me that he was very glad glad I was
here because they needed me for something besides teaching.
Well I didn't know that this man had anything to say on my.
I said, "What do you need me for?" And he told me that many
Latin American students didn't go to church, and he wanted
to be a spiritual leader of the Latin American students. I
said, spiritual leader. I have a lot of trouble with my own
spirituality. What do you expect me to do? He said, "Well,
these boys come from good families Catholic families, and
many of them don't go to church on Sunday." I said, "Well,
a I don't go to church either." He said, "You don't? You
are a Spaniard you are a catholic." "No," I said, "You say
I am a catholic, I was a Catholic. I'm not a catholic. No
I will not undertake such a thing, Martin." I'd had totally
enough in that field to take care of my own life, I'm not
going to be a spiritual leader of any any men or group of
men. Absolutely no, the answer is no. And he he was very
surprised and he asked me did I belong to any to any church?
And I said, "Well, no I don't, but my little girl goes to
the Episcopal church. She sings in the choir there." He
said, "Then you are a traitor." I said, "No more a traitor
than you are. Except that I came out from the dark into the
light, and you went from the light into darkness," I said.
Well, I guess I was a little rough with him. I resented
this man coming with that. So then a suddenly this
accusation came. I had published some books, a one book we
were using of the books. I was in Fort Myers during the
summer when I heard the news over the radio that I was
accused of being an unfit Christian, and therefore a
communist. I said, "That I didn't know that they were
related." Well, I felt that I should come to the university
immediately. And I came to the university and I saw Dr.
Miller. Dr. Miller said, "Any truth in this?" I said, "How
can there be any truth?"
K: This is the president, President Miller, J. Hillis Miller?
F: President Miller. He said, "Well, I want to know is this--
can I defend you?" I said, "Well, I don't need your
defense, they'll have a hell of a time proving that I am a
communist, because I'm not." He said, I said "Neither of
you are saying that I am an unfit christian and therefore a
communist." I didn't know, because others are unfit
christians and I don't think jewish people are very
christian either, but that is their concern. Well he said,
"No no I want to come to your defense." I said, "Please
don't don't don't take any chances. Leave it to me. I can
defend myself." So the dean of the law school had regular
meetings than they had here. Trussler, he had never seen
me, a stupid man, very stupid man.
F: Trussler was it Trussler--yes Trussler. And Martin and
Father Mahoney, Mahoney of the church joined forces. The
priest came to see me one day to my office and told me to
recant. Well you know for a Spaniard who had turned away
turned away from Catholicism to tell him that's war. I got
up from my chair, I said, "Get the hell out of this office."
And I push him out and slammed the door. Well the
accusation came then and of course I had a friend who was a
very very good friend of mine as different from me
ideologically as any two people can be--but very good
friends. He was the editor and owner of the Gainesville
Sun, Bill Pepper Bill Pepper. Bill Pepper was not only a
Republican, but he was a very he was a very extreme right
Republican, you know the puppet establishment. We never
discussed politics because I realized that there was no no
use in talking politics with him.
K: Um hum.
F: But Bill was a very good friend of mine. We used to play
golf together. And he practiced Spanish with me, he spoke
spanish well. Later on he wrote a dictionary of printing
and journalistic terms--a very good dictionary. He
consulted with me all the time during these years. But Bill
knew the way I felt. Bill knew that I was not a communist.
Bill used to write the most terrible editorials that I ever
read,they were really in line with Gainesville as it was
then. But a...
K: In line with who?
F: They were they they seemed to manifest the small town that
it was at the time. Terrible editorials, incredible. I
never told him. I didn't want to hurt his feelings. But
Hays and I had a name for this editorials because an
editorial in Spanish is articulo de fundo means depth
article in depth. The diminutive of fundo is fundillo, see?
So we began to call articulos de fundillo, but fundillo also
means droop. Well, Bill Pepper when this thing came up, he
blew up, he blew his stack, and he came to my defense. And
he wrote the only editorial not only that but a very good
editorial in my defense. He came to my defense. Of course
when they came and interview me--this is funny--they came
five men from Tallahassee a. What do you call the ones from
Tallahassee? Congressman or... They came to my house in
Hibiscus. And I had a very nice house, had nice paintings,
and very good furniture. I always had been rather fond of
that. And they came and looked around. They told me what
they came for. They look around my house a living room with
a high very high ceiling, cathedral ceiling. And a one of
them said, "This doesn't look like the house of a
K: What is the house of a communist supposed to look like?
F: I said to him, "If you go by that you are making an awful
mistake. Communists can have very good houses if you give
them the rent." I said, "Don't go by this, go by me. But
not by house. Because by my house I would be a capitalist
and I'm not either." Well after they spoke to me I said,
"You are going to get yourself in the worst trouble that you
can imagine. I'm not a communist I've never been a member
of any organization right or left. And this is strange.
And for your benefit I tell you that the book that they
mention one of the books that they mention is being used by
28 catholic colleges, and some of them have used it three
times. And this stupid man in the church Mahoney and Martin
who is almost out of his mind and the stupid dean of the law
school are going to find themselves in trouble because I'm
going to sue them. I'm going to sue anyone who tries to
blacken my reputation." Well this one man said to the
other, "this this man is no communist. We got to be careful
with this man." I went to Tallahassee and Trussler was
interview there and I was sitting next to him. And they ask
him, "Do you know Professor Fernandez, did you ever meet
him?" He said, "No." "Do you know who publish his books?"
He said, "No." "Do you know what the books are about? Do
you speak spanish?" "NO." "Do you know what the books
about?" "No." "And you say that this book contains
antichristian sentiments?" Well that was the end that and
during that time remember a lot of people were investigated
here in the university. They were investigating they found
after looking for communists they found--funny--they found
homosexuals. You know we have a saying in Spanish for that
they didn't have to come to a university for that or the
committee. Of course you have homosexuals here, you have it
all over the world, men and women. And some poor fellows
some were very good teachers very good professors some of
them were exceptional, the best. And I hate to mention one
because he's here in Gainesville. He occupies a high
administrative position not not the one who was vice
president because he also came into this, you know. But
another one who's a friend of mine. A wonderful professor a
wonderful friend, he was dismissed, you see. Offensive,
they called him. The head of the department of geography
dismissed. Well I didn't that homosexuality had reached
such high stratosphere. Anyway, but in this case though
looking for communists and then their victories accusing the
wrong one and then finding homosexuals. This is a you asked
that question this is an answer to you.
K: Yeah. I've also been curious as to whether or not they had
tried to implicate you by claiming that since you had
represented the Spanish Republic that therefore you must be
F: Oh yeah of course. There was a not in Tallahassee but these
F: Yes. Because I represented the Soviet Reds, see. You see
in the Spanish Republic one side we were calling the
loyalists those that were with or man were loyalists, loyal
to the government. And the other were the Francistas.
Naturally one of the things is to call people names and the
Francistas found it whether in Spain the fascists all over
they found that the proper thing to do is to call the other
side the loyalist the Reds. So as far as the ignorant
people they heard of Reds and and and the others too--well,
I forgot what they called them but they were the other
Franchistas. And but this is strange because I was a very
much in contact with the republic. I translated the
constitution and the supplementary laws, I was working on
the supplementary laws. And then they had out of 456
members of congress, 100 were left. There were eighty-six
socialists of the Franchase, three different chase. And six
no eighty-four eighty-four and sixteen communists. This was
the composition of the congress of the republic, see. Well
so but a in the propaganda and there was in a case like
that. In civil wars, civil wars are very terrible the same
as it was here. But the civil wars are very very cruel name
calling is just one of the things--they are Reds.
K: The following is an interview with Professor Pedro Fernandez.
It was recorded on the fourth of February 1977, in the Ford
Library of the Florida State Museum. Alright Professor
Fernandez, yesterday we had finally gotten into some of your
experiences here at the University of Florida, and you had
told me about the communist witch hunt you had to get
through before you could finally get down to doing some real
teaching. Um, today I'd like to ask you a few things about
the structure of the language department, and some of the
problems that you ran into, the methods with which you
solved them, etc. When you first came here I understand
that the foreign language department was a part of a greater
department, a it was not separate, it had no autonomy unto
itself. Could you expand on that?
F: Of course the university was very small and it would have
been impossible to have a department for every language, or
even almost I might say even a department of languages, at
least that that is what they contended. A so they had a
department which was called language and literature, and it
was under Archie Robertson. It included as a it's indicated
english and foreign languages. It was unfortunate in the
sense that it is important, I believe, for a man in charge
of the foreign language department to know something about
foreign languages. And whereas Archie was a very good to
me, very friendly, and very good, very considerate, I felt
that he didn't know the problems that would involve in the
department of foreign languages. And something was started
to make after a number of years, to gain autonomy or
independence from the department of english. Strange enough
I didn't partake in that, I didn't, I wanted the separation
very much, but a two or three members of the department had
personal reasons for wanting the department separated, they
hoped to be named head of the department, each one of them.
One one, let me correct myself, they wanted to be made, each
one wanted to be made head of the department. And um, the
a, we had meetings, discussed the matter, but I didn't take
it up with the administration at all, they did. I hate to
mention the names, but there was one in German, who is now
dead now whose name I can mention, and Oscar Jones, who had
been assistant dean, he wanted to be head of the department.
And there was a one in french, Ernie, I suppose he's dead
too. And a there was one in the Spanish, who is alive, and
I'd rather not mention his name. But there was this
competition, this rivalry to be head of the department. I
was not at all interested, because one of the reasons why I
left New York is because I didn't want to be head of the
department, which was offered to me, that was not my
interest it's not my interest. Um, so if I had wanted to be
head of the department I would had a stay in new York in
K: Um hum.
F: So then it was a separated, finally separated, and the
separation created a department of foreign languages.
K: I'm sorry to have to ask you this, but can you remember when
that happened? What Year?
F: No. But that's easily if you call a a Wayne Conner...
K: Uh huh.
F: The head of romance languages, he will tell you when...
F: This was separated. Well they thought the problems was
solved by separating from english, see. But then after they
had a department of foreign languages, new problems were
created. The french of course, and the germans didn't like
to be a in in a department of foreign languages, each wanted
to be a to have a department of foreign languages, each
wanted to be a to have a department, a german...
K: A german department, and a french department?
F: French, german etc. No?
F: And um,
K: Go on, tell it, I won't check this.
F: In that, I did take part. Because I felt that the spanish
being so related to all the studies in connection with Latin
America, it was very important to have a Department of
Spanish. And that that should be the important department,
since we were the more numerous.
K: Um hum.
F: And the most important, and that continues to be to the
present time. Someone saw that for instance, I directed
more M.A.s and PhDs than the whole department put together,
of all the languages, you know. But I can not tell you when
the department split again. But thank him, you can also
find it out, through Wayne Conner. That the department
separated, and that was Wade Conner was already here,
separated into a department of german and the slavic
languages, and romance languages, and later the classical
languages. Um, the department of german never succeeded in
creating a real graduate studies, because there were not
enough students for MA's and PhD's.
K: Um hum.
F: And even today they are not allowed to give PhD's. The
department of french lost it, lost that right too, by not
having enough students. But the department of spanish
continue giving, continues giving MA's and PhDs to the
present time. One of the reasons for the discontent in the
language was that a man was made head of the department who
we all felt was really a mental case. He suffered from a
many a persecution, bad case, many a persecution.
K: Would that be Dr. Brunet?
F: Dr. Brunet, yes. A when you take a man that every two steps
when he walks in the street, in the street, he looks back to
see if anybody is following him, that's a sufficient
indication, in my knowledge of psychology, to know that that
man is nuts. Well, but he became very difficult. He became
difficult especially with the people who had published
anything, because he had a great envy. You know? And
anybody who published, he hated them.
K: Had he not published anything himself?
F: Nothing, not a line. Again they changed the head of the
department from a man who knew nothing about foreign
languages, but he never interfered in the matter of
publications, to a man who knew, who claimed he knew french,
nobody heard him speak a word of french, and if you spoke to
him in french he answered in english. Then he'd started
Latin, and he knew very little latin, because I studied
latin and I know. And um, but he became very very
difficult, very difficult in the department. And a,
especially he persecuted Hayes and me, and he started
persecuting Hayes first, and when I came to Hayes defense
than he got after me, he even tried to fire me. I had
published more than the whole department up to the present
time, by that time of languages, you see. I knew that he
was going to have a hard time firing me. But Dean Page he
was very close, Dean Page had appointed him. Dean Page and
Wimberly were very close to him. He complained and he tried
to convince Dean Page to fire me, but I guess he...
K: On what grounds?
F: Well, I guess he considered that I was difficult, in the
sense that I, you see, you can create that when you have
people working for you, you can find little faults with this
and that. I disagreed with him in educational policy, but I
think I have a right to disagree with the head of the
department in educational policy. When the laboratory was
established, the laboratory was very poorly very poorly
managed and run, and I said so. I said we should have a
good laboratory, and the laboratory he considered that his
project, it wasn't. It was the project of all. But he
considered... Because, you see, a laboratory can not answer
K: Can what?
F: Can not answer back.
K: That's right, it can't.
F: Laboratory can not complain, a laboratory can not ask for a
raise. And although I never needed in my life, because I
always made enough money after I was teaching through my
books. And I disagreed with the laboratory, the way it was
K: How was it conducted?
F: Well, very poorly conducted. In the, in the way, you see,
in laboratory a I can go into all the details,...
K: Um hum.
F: But the students could not hear what they wanted to hear.
Somebody who spoke poorly the language would make the tapes,
they were boring tapes. And the students use to go there
and read something else and not pay attention to the...
K: Um hum.
F: to the machines at all. And a a, they all agree with me
that the laboratory was very very poorly run, it turned the
tape making to students or assistants who didn't know the
F: Criticizing the laboratory was, or criticizing the way the
laboratory was run, was something that Brunet could not
take. Then another thing that antagonized the department
was to put microphones in the classes to find out how we
were teaching, or what we were saying in the classes.
F: I told him that I was going to tear the microphone from the
wall if he didn't take it out himself, and next thing was
that the microphones in all the classes disappear. And of
course he, I understand that he complained to the dean, but
what was the reaction I don't know on the part of Page. But
a this is my understanding, what they told me. The man
suffering from this persecution and this deep, this deeply
rooted envy, because he hadn't done anything, and as far as
we knew he was not competent in what he was teaching, and
that was the opinion of the whole department. For instance
Hayes would always speak to him in french, because his
french was not good. He had the name Brunet, but we
understand that his name used to be Brown, see. And this
were things of the department. Well, he continue, Brunet
Brunet continue and the difficulties grew, and then a I
don't know how or why or what was the specific reason for
his having resigned as head of the department, things were
very very bad, and I guess I suppose mind you, I suppose
Dean Page and the president, President Miller realized that
things could not go on like that, so he was, he resigned. A
he had tried to have people in the department fired if he
didn't like them, and I guess he had become a problem for
K: In the early years, your early years here in the University of
Florida, what was the philosophical thrust of the language
department? Were you primarily concerned with training
people to teach other people the language, or...
F: Yes, yes mostly that. Well there were two aspects, one was
of course, a cultural aspect. What people who wanted to
know the language and they may study government, politics,
economics, and they were interested in Latin America or in
France or some other place, and the language might be a help
to them in research, in visiting the countries. But the
primary reason was to prepare people to teach, because
remember the universities grew tremendously during that
time, and high schools. And there were two aspects in
teaching, one was the preparation for teaching in the
universities, and entirely different preparation for
teaching in the universities, and entirely different
preparation was for teaching in high schools. For teaching
in universities we required from the students a through
knowledge of the language, language and literature, and we
never send them out to teach in a university with an MA, I
mean with a BA excuse me, with a BA, they have to have at
least an MA, and then form there on too. And the for high
school, we have an other serious difficulty. This one I
fought very hard, and Hayes joined me on this. It was
related to the school of education. For the school of
education the courses in methodology were all important,
they really didn't pay much attention to whether a student
knew the language, if they didn't know the language. They
were perfectly willing to give courses in methodology and
give them a degree in education if the student had two years
of a language. And we fought that, I fought that very hard.
This is the type of rocking the boat that I did, never did I
do it for personal reasons, I never asked for the raise. If
you were to ask Dean Page, I think he's alive yet, I suppose
he's alive, as alive as a man like that can be, and um, but
if you are to ask him, he will tell you that I never asked
for a raise, I want to emphasize this. For though my salary
was low, I used to make so much more money from by books
that I can make from my teaching. So when I rocked the boat
it was for a principle, nothing personal. I fought this, we
had meetings with the teachers or the professors in the
school of education, they fought very hard, they fought
back, they wanted to retain that privilege for being the
ones who certify students to teach.
K: Um hum.
F: But their certification was worthless from the point of view
of teaching a language. For they didn't pay any attention
to the knowledge of the student in the language that they
intended to teach. Finally we won the battle, we won up to
a point. The way we did it was to start teaching, by giving
a degree teaching a the same for one a student as for the
other, but them giving a degree in teaching.
K: I see.
F: You see instead requiring an MA, which is a, which is a a
research and a MA thesis, we allowed them to get an MA in
K: Um hum.
F: By that we give them courses, extra courses, more knowledge
of the language, more knowledge of literature, more
knowledge of the of the civilization of the country, the
culture of the country, so they would be better prepared to
teach in high schools, because you can't I am convinced that
you can not teach a man to teach, he he must have it, or he
doesn't have it, no question about it. I have seen men who
have taken courses in methodology they should be sent to the
electric chair, as far as their teaching.
F: But a man who knows the literature and knows the culture of
the country the civilization of the country, and possibly
visit the country, so he gets the feeling of the country,
that person is ready to teach. So we won that. However, a
the school of education came and I believe at the present
time they certify that MA in romance languages, MA in
spanish, in teaching for teaching, MA in teaching.
K: Um hum.
F: So um, this has been the result of that, it brought a lot of
grey hairs to my head fighting this condition existing in
connection with the school of education. And the former
dean of the school of education, I, a there is only, he's a
slight man, a short, I can't think of his name. Even today
when I meet him at meetings he doesn't speak to me. He
considers me a difficult person, that's all I meant by that.
K: I understand that there was an NDEA summer institute...
F: Yes, we had...
F: We had that institute here, that was instituted by, that is
a, a that institute, or the reasons for the institute are an
indication that the schools of education all over the
country were not doing what they were supposed to do...
F: for the teachers were not ready, they were teaching the
language, but they were not ready to teach the languages,
and therefore Washington found it necessary to establish
these institutes in order to give them courses in culture
and the language. I taught twice in Tennessee, they invited
me to Tennessee, I was the coordinator one year. And then
here at the University of Florida, where I refused to accept
an invitation to teach in the institute, I finally consented
to teach a course in civilization. They were very
important, except that they were very short, six weeks or
eight weeks. But it show a that the teachers in our high
schools were not ready to teach, and we were trying to
K: Do you think these summer programs were effective?
F: Well, they were, comparatively, not to much, but what can
you do in six weeks or in a or in a eight weeks? But
something was done, because during the time they were in the
institute they lived together, you know,
K: Um hum.
F: here in Graham Hall for instance. And the professors were
with them. The language was spoken. They were not allowed
to speak English, and when you are forced to speak a foreign
language for six or eight weeks, they were not supposed to
speak, we were even very strict about their speaking the
foreign language. When you are forced to speak a foreign
language for six or eight weeks, morning, and afternoon, and
evening, and then take courses in the language, and take
courses in literature, and take courses in civilization, it
does it does things to you.
K: Um hum.
F: A lot is accomplished, not as much as we wanted to, but a
great deal was accomplished, of course.
K: And when did that program begin? Can you remember that?
F: There you go, I don't know.
K: Approximately, you can tell me was it the early S.
F: Ah, let me see, I was in Tennessee twice, you see that's why
they invited me to Tennessee when I finished here, when I
retire they invited me to teach in Tennessee, after I was
K: Oh, I didn't know that.
F: Because I had been there in two institutes.
K: Uh huh.
F: And they knew my work. Maybe the fifties, I don't know, I
can, you can...
K: Oh, I can check that [inaudible].
F: You can, um Wade Conner can tell you when was the courses
given here. And he pleaded with me to take the courses in
civilization because nobody would take it.
K: Um hum.
F: Nobody take it. In order to take a course in civilization
you had to know every aspects of the culture of the country,
literature and and art of all aspects, music and so forth,
every aspect of of art, the fine arts, and music, and
literature. Well you can find out through Wade Conner.
K: Ah, how well prepared were most high school graduates, in
their language when they came to the University of Florida,
and they began to try...
F: Ah, it's very uneven. Some knew it, didn't know spanish at
K: But had taken spanish in high school.
F: And taking a couple of years of spanish, or or one year, and
they were approved by the school of education, you see
through courses in methodology. And some who have taken
courses in universities, and um advanced courses and knew
the language, and some who were decedents or natives of...
K: Oh, these are the teachers your talking about now.
F: Yes, they were...
K: Well that's fine, but that's not the question. I was asking
you about high school students, who came to the University
of Florida then as freshmen. But go ahead, tell me about
the teachers, did [inaudible].
F: Oh, the, first I'm finishing with the teachers.
F: Ah, as I tell you some were very good, and some were
mediocre, and some were very bad. And now coming to the
students coming to the university, of course, the
preparation in the high schools of Florida was pitiful.
F: You see, they had for instance, we found schools in which
they didn't know, they didn't have anybody who who a could a
teach the spanish, so they appointed the assistant football
coach or somebody like that to teach spanish.
K: Uh huh.
F: Or somebody who had been teaching something else see, to
teach spanish. And in cases where the teacher of spanish
had taken two years or so of spanish, and then had been
certified by the school of education, and so the students
coming to us were pitiful, very very poor, we had to start
right down from the grass roots, and we had to bring them
up. And yet, a this department of languages grew
tremendously during the years that I was here.
K: Has the quality of the students improved any, in the time
you've been here?
F: Well, they are better prepared yes, as I understand it. You
see I haven't taught now for, in this university, for twelve
years. And even ten years before that I didn't teach the
elementary classes, or the intermediate classes, I taught
literature, I was in the upper level.
F: But I could tell, by the students coming up to the three
year level that I used to teach a class for some time, have
poorly how incredibly poorly prepared they were, and then I
went by what the teachers said, the other professors said.
K: Look, could you give me an evaluation of Dean Page? How
effective was he as a dean? Did...
F: Well, I guess he was effective from the point of view of
K: And what do you mean by that?
F: Ah, you see, Miller who was a very very friendly to me, and
we used to play golf together, Miller wanted men, and this
is, he never told me that but his secretary, Edith, told me
that, she spoke spanish. And Miller wanted big men in the
department, you know big fellows who could control the
department so you would have no problems, she said that to
K: Um hum.
F: In this concern would she would employ a bully like Brunet,
or a big fellow like a well a somebody else, you know, and
except those that was already there. He didn't get along
for a time, he even tried to get a rid of Manning Dauer. I
considered Page, he came from a private school, you know
from an academy.
F: One of these, one of those academies that they wear
uniforms. But he had that mentality, now if you consider
that mentality good for the university all right. He could
conduct a meeting, a faculty meeting, and he could lay down
the law. But that I considered him a good dean, frankly on
the basis of my experience and what I know, no I don't. I
want a dean that had more culture than Dean Page had, a dean
that had besides that a combination of culture and
administrative ability. And also in the administrative
ability I mean also recognition of people in the departments
who are valuable, and not just those that obey everything
and don't say anything at all, see. And don't think and
don't think from that that I was a complainer, I didn't I
never complained about anything in connection with me.
Classes were given to me, the best classes everything I
wanted, so when I fought I fought for a principle, and I
never fought for Fernandez, never asked for a raise, never
asked that my classes should be in the morning and not in
the afternoon, I never asked for..., and if you ask Dean
Page he can never tell you that I ever asked for anything
for me, that whenever I fought I fought for other reasons.
And Dean Page recognized, I want to tell you, that I was
right in connection with the school of education. But as he
told me a number of times we mustn't create troubles.
Rocking the boat was the word. I learned it at that time,
that expression in English.
K: What was the standard class size, when you began teaching
F: Very poor. The first time that I when I met my first class,
I came to the class and I found eighteen boys, they had
sweat shirts, and they were poorly dressed.
K: Were these veterans of World War II?
F: No, that was what I thought at that time.
K: They were not, [inaudible]...
F: And a, I didn't know that this college was not co-
educational, and I had wonderful classes in New York, and I
said "where are the girls?" And the boys, one boy said
that's what we like to know. And then they were, you know,
very poor students. So these classes had a fifteen, twelve,
the one I had had eighteen, and then in literature we had
four, five, six, seven, and by the time I left the
university I had thirty-eight classes in contemporary, in a
a contemporary literature. I had twenty-seven students in
poetry. My classes were filled, now don't go by that,
because the next classes the next professor would have about
five, or six, or seven. And today if you go to the
department of languages you find that the classes in
literature are very very small, the advanced classes, four,
five, six, seven, is the limit.
K: Was there a graduate program in spanish, when you came here?
F: Yes, there was, there was a...
K: When you arrived at the University of Florida.
F: Not a PhD program. There was a MA...
K: What, when was the PhD program...
F: Again you ask me a question that I can not [inaudible]
K: Okay, I'm sorry.
F: You can, you can set that down and ask a ....
K: But you can tell me something though about the PhD program,
you can tell me what the rationale was for instituting a PhD
program here at the University of Florida.
F: It was needed. It was very much needed, because we had to
prepare them for teaching in universities, and the only way
we could teach, prepare them for that was to give the PhD in
this university. And a, it might be of interest to you that
for instance a one of my students, my students even today,
and this is personal, even today when Christmas come I
receive letters from all over the United states, and
presents, not for grades. And one of my students a became
full professor in in Cincinnati before Hayes was made a full
professor, and she's the editor of a Spanish journal, which
sells all over in northern universities of America, see. A
her name was a Patricia O'Connally. Another one became, why
in my I have my students all all are in very good positions,
very good positions. But they all speak spanish like
natives. For instance, if Patricia O'Connally, if she were
to go to Madrid, and she goes to Madrid sometimes, nobody
knows that she's not born in Madrid.
K: That's quite an achievement.
F: And and I Judice Fulock, whose father was a research
professor in a in a the department of agriculture, some
phase of agriculture, economics, agricultural economics.
Judy Furlock who then became a associate professor in in
University of South Florida, and then she married, she's
married now to a judge, and she's teaching in Palm Beach.
Her spanish is absolutely unrecognizable as a foreign
student at all, she speaks just like a native, my students
spoke spanish like natives, because I require that from
them. My classes were conducted in spanish. And I directed
between here and Tennessee thirty-six MA's, and a number of
PhD's. No that was necessary. Now bringing it to the
present. They are making a very serious mistake in
K: Uh huh, that's what I wanted to ask you about.
F: In requiring a certain number in order to get the PhD
degree, they are making it quantitative, rather than a
K: Was there any attempt to do that while you were still teaching
at the university?
F: Pardon me.
K: Was there any attempt on the part of the board of regents or
the state legislature to institute a quantitative
K: while you were here at the University?
F: No, no.
K: There was not.
F: No. And that when we, we asked for it, we asked for the
PhD, they look into the, into the qualifications of the
faculty. Now look at the difference in that degree. The
qualifications of the faculty were the basis for giving the
K: Um hum.
F: Not the number of the students in your current class.
F: Because on the basis of that I should have been give twenty
PhD's, because I had thirty, thirty-eight students in the
class under criollary literature.
F: No. I don't care whether I have one or ten, the question is
that I have one who is good, or ten who are good, that's
all. And, this thing with Tallahassee this is incredible,
this is pork chop attitude towards the university, you know
the pork chop gang.
F: I don't understand it. I'm not here, but it's a it's
incredible to me. This is the way the French lost the right
to give PhD's. This is, they you have in french, in the
french department, between force, I don't particularly love
for the french, but they had in the french department a
number of very competent men. An a, and yet they can not,
they can not give the PhD. They can in german, they have...
K: But the french department did give PhD's up until recently.
F: they lost it.
K: I believe there was some combination between the french
department and the spanish department at one point.
F: They wanted that. They wanted that.
F: Yeah, but of course the spanish people didn't want it,
because they didn't want to pulled down with the french.
See? Ah, there's no combination now. No. The the spanish
professors did not want this combination, because you see,
they would water the program. They the, if you know what I
mean. They would...
F: The next thing you know we would lose the right, or they the
spanish professor would lose the, the section would lose the
right to give the PhD. It isn't now a question of the
competence of the french professors, because they had a
number of professors who were very good, and they have a
number who are very excellent indeed, at the present time.
They're being wasted. When you employ a professor you pay
him a salary of a full professor, and then you say oh no but
a you mustn't teach advanced courses, I mean in the PhD
level, his salary is being.....You see, when you have let me
explain this to you, unless you probably know it as well as
I, but I want this to be on the record.
K: Um hum.
F: When you have a professor, a department I mean, when you
have a department who gives the PhD's, and then you have a
class, a graduate class, you don't have a graduate class for
PhD students, you have three or four MA candidates, five or
six, the only thing that the PhD candidate takes is the time
for the director of the thesis, and that is not much.
F: That's all, the man who directs the thesis has to receive
and he had to contact, or rather the student, the the
candidate has to contact the professor, and give him a
chapter, ask about this or that, but that is not a class.
K: Um hum.
F: So they are wasting, they are wasting the value of this
professors, and lowering the standard of the university,
making the university a second class university. This is
the situation, it's quantitatively and not qualitatively.
K: Other than J. Hillis Miller, did you personally know any of
the presidents of the university while you were here?
F: No, I knew, knew but I didn't, I didn't play golf with him,
a Tigert before, Tigert was the president, and we used to
play golf in the same course, but I never spoke to him
except when it was necessary in connection with the work.
K: Can you give me an evaluation of the various presidents of the
F: I could not ...
K: About their relative worth and..
F: because, because you see Tigert is the man who was president
when I came here, and a I didn't know enough about him.
F: And Miller was a he was an enterprising man, he was a the
man who came here, and tried to and made the university
where it is today. But at the same time remember that the
times were right for it. Because the university from its
little cow college became a university.
K: Uh hum.
F: Tremendous number of students came, a new faculty and so
forth. But Miller was an administrator and he was an
enterprising man, he wanted this university to be a first
F: For instance, he build that tower over there, see. Ah, I'll
tell you after what we called that tower. He meant to have
a building around, and then this tower, see, first it
started with the tower,
F: And that was ambition, see, and um...
K: That's the century tower your talking about, am I correct?
F: Yeah, the century tower. I'll tell you after when the
recording isn't on what the faculty called that tower, see.
Miller was, he fought for development, for a big university,
for a sophisticated university.
K: Um hum.
F: He often discussed things with me at the in the golf course,
when we would sit down for a rest. And a, his a opinion of
Tallahassee was was not very very high. And for your
information he went to Tallahassee a week before he die, and
found that they say no to everything he asked for. And a I
was walking to my office when he stopped his car and asked
me to come in, and I came in and he was desperate, and he
referred to these people in Tallahassee as a bunch of
nincompoops. And Miller was heart broken, actually heart
broken because he could not get these people to agree with
him in what he wanted to do in the university, whatever it
was. I can just guess that it was, of course he wanted to
build up the university, to spend more money and so forth.
But he was very, he was heart broken. I was with him in the
car for about three quarters of an hour, sitting in the car,
he was talking with me. And his eyes were filled with
tears, because he was so um a frustrated in what he wanted
to do. Then he became ill and died a few days later of
heart, you see, his heart was not strong at all, because
when we use to play we play golf, we had to stop once in a
while, you know, and he have a little rest. He was followed
by whom? He was followed by a number of Wayne Reitz, oh
yes, I got, I knew Wayne Reitz after. He was very always
very nice to me, Wayne Reitz, very good to me. And a also
Allen, he was a friend of mine because I was a friend of
Miller, and therefore through Miller, if I was a good friend
of Miller I became a good friend of Allen, Allen, Allen um I
guess he's alive still, and a Wayne Reitz I see him once in
a while. There was a change in Wayne Reitz, in Miller and
Wayne Reitz, quite a change. In some difficulties when I
found that I had to make issue of certain things, both
miller and Wayne Reitz were, they listened to me. I only
make an issue when I would tell the head of the department
that I was going to make an issue out of it. I could go
into that, but it's in connection with my candidates and
isn't important, but I won the case, I would win the case.
Because, for instance, giving you one only for instance, and
that was candidacy of Mrs. Luther, she was writing her MA on
St. Augustine, and what took place in St.Augustine, and the
documents in St. Augustine. You have to know spanish very
well to be able to read these documents.
F: And she had to study the history, and make a study of the
history of the Spain and colonies. After she finished the
MA, you see it is the rule in this university, that the head
of the department must sign a thesis. This is amusing
because if a man doesn't know spanish or anything in
connection with the spain, like for instance Archie
Robertson couldn't know any foreign language, it seems
amusing that he should sign a thesis about something that he
knows nothing about. Well, when Brunet refused to sign the
thesis of Mrs. Luther...
K: On what grounds?
F: That the work that she did in St. Augustine was not good for
a MA, that it was not in literature. Of course there was
the language, there was the history, and so forth, see.
Well I made an issue of that. Brunet say that he would
rather resign than sign that thesis, so they wrote him a
letter that if he wanted to resign if you, he could resign.
And they sent a man who is now, what is he president of a
university, Fred Conner, it's in Alabama.
K: Oh, in Alabama.
F: Fred Conner, and they send the dean of the graduate school,
the associate dean of the graduate school to take the place
of Brunet to come to the examination. And they...
K: What did Brunet do about it?
F: Nothing, but he didn't want to resign.
End of Tape B side 1
F: Well, what was it, what what should I call it, what I am
speaking to you, I spoke to you of what was going on behind
the scenes, way down there in the department. With it's
ramifications to other to like to the to the graduate
school, to the to the school of education, to the giving the
PhD, I fought for that too, see.
K: Um hum.
F: I fought for the PhD, we all strove, we tried very hard to
get it, and we finally got it.
K: Now when you came to the University of Florida, where there
many Latin American students here?
F: Yes, there were, not like, I don't know how many there are
now, you know, there may have been, I have no idea, maybe
sixty, seventy students, I don't think there were a hundred.
And we had a man, Martin, that I spoke to you about.
K: What was his first name?
F: Joe Martin I believe. He's in, he moved to St. Augustine, I
think he's still there, if he's alive. It was pitiful
because through the conversion to Catholicism, you know,
there is nothing worse than a Protestant who becomes a
K: That's right, yeah.
F: I don't know about a jew becoming a catholic, I imagine that
it would be very impossible, because the worst man in the
Catholic church, the Great Inquisitor, whose name was
Torquematu, the Great Inquisitor, who committed so many
atrocities, he was Jewish. When, when, when an a a Claude
here in the department of French,
K: Claude Abraham?
F: Abraham. One day called to my attention how cruel we had
been with the Jews, I said who was cruel with the jews. He
said look at your Torquematu. I said why do you give him to
us, he was jewish, he said, "what," I said "he was jewish."
I said, "look, look into the history of it..." I said,
"well, so was partly jewish St. Theresa, and John of the
Cross." I said, "they were all jewish, converted to
catholicism, the great St. Theresa, the great founder of
convents." I don't know what is, what good are convents
anyway, the convents that they used to build. Well she
built I think twenty-eight convents, or something like that.
She was, she was of jewish descent, and and a Torquewata,
the great inquisitor, great in in in the sense that I mean
it, he was jewish, converted to catholicism. So, you know,
the converts are very very difficult. For to give you an
instance of these, I put my daughter in the Episcopal church
here, and that was when [inaudible] Father O'Mally was so
upset that I had become a traitor.
F: My daughter was in the Episcopal church, but I was not a
member of the Episcopal church, because I am no member of
any church, of any organization. There was a man there who
used to speak to me about becoming a member of the church.
At the time I became so annoyed at him when I used to go
every three of four Sundays to give my daughter a little
moral support, the religious support, or something, and he
always took, got hold of me, and wanted me to become an
Episcopalian, you know. And finally one day I told him. I
said, "don't speak to me about this any more." And then I
was talking to another Episcopalian, and I mention it. He
said, "oh, it's because he was converted, he used to be a
Baptist." Well, anyway lets go on to...
K: Oh, you were going to tell me about John Martin, that's what
got you started on this other...
F: Oh, John Martin, you see this is what happens you know.
F: One discusses the trunk, an trunk, a lovely trunk, and then
you go into the branches.
F: John Martin, I think I told you the other day what happened
to me with him, I think ...
F: in the corridor, but...
K: Yes, but you didn't tell me about his relationship with the
Latin American students, other than to say that...
F: He was director of the Latin American students,...
K: He was, I see.
F: Yes, he was named director of latin American students.
K: Ah, there was a separated organization for Latin American
students at the university that he was the head?
F: Well, it was for advice and then a helping them when they
came, with the course with the immigration, and if they got
into trouble with the police, and that sort of a thing...
F: difficulties with Latin American students.
K: Was he a member of the faculty? Or was he just in an
F: No, he wasn't. Then we then we gave him a class, and this
is might be of interest. They gave him a class in the
department, Martin spoke Spanish, you know. Because his
wife was Chilean, and he spoke spanish quite well. And the
moment we gave him a class in the department, to add to his
salary. But the moment he came into the department, he
began to criticize the books that he's call everything that
he didn't approve of not Christian. And he didn't think
that the books were christian. He was criticizing the most
famous author in Spain in the nineteenth century, and
probably second to Cervantes. And finally he became so
impossible through that in the department that we had to
tell him to quit, because he had no right as a man who was
given a class...
K: UM HUM.
F: in the decision of these books, and we were not going to
have any person who was so fanatic as he became have
anything to say in the selection of the books. And he never
spoke to either me or Hayes anymore since then never. While
he was here. So that's Martin.
K: In general what was the relationship between the spanish
faculty members and the Latin American students?
F: Very good. We had a club and you might be interested in
this aspect. We had a club and we were always, one of us
was advisor of the club, not John Martin, they didn't want
John Martin. Ah, I was an advisor for many years for that
club. We used to have little meetings and get together and
so forth. And then Guggenheim, told me...
K: Which Guggenheim?
F: Harry F. Guggenheim.
K: Harry, okay.
F: Harry F. Guggenheim, he was the one I tutored.
F: He became ambassador to Cuba, and he spoke spanish. I was
with him a whole summer in Sands Point in Long Island, and a
we used to play tennis and go fishing and all that, and
speak spanish all the time. And then when he went to Cuba
as ambassador, and then came back the following summer for a
two months vacation, and again I spent two with him. He
told me over and over that anything I wanted ever, all I
should do is to tell him, see. Well, what I wanted was, I
asked him one day if we built a small house, like a little
club, and it cost 15,000 to 25,000 dollars, would you help
in a place like that, if I asked you for that? He said I
told you anything you want you just have to tell me, see.
Well, we were very much interested in that and in connection
with Latin American students, I was interested that their
two languages would be recognized, but for that matter the
french or anybody else. By extension, if they were
recognized that they spoke english and spanish, the others
would be recognized by knowing French and English. So we
also a I spoke of building this place, and Hayes was very
much a part of it, but not a part of.... And Dr. Miller
found it out, no I told him once in the golf course, that
was where we met. And there he became very interested,
because he was promoter...
F: Primarily, Miller was a promoter, you know, he would have
been a promoter of the slave trade. And then he thought of
building up an interamerican house. He said that millions
were floating, you could just clean up. I didn't think so.
But he immediately name a committee of fourteen or fifteen,
of different departments interdepartments, a political
science, economics, everything, you see. We met. Then he
made the architectural plans for this house that was similar
to Wayne Reitz Union, around that pond there.
F: It was to be another pond there near Thirteenth Street, we
had a spanish architecture, and all that was great
ambitions, see. All he needed was a million and a half to
finish this. Well he knew a woman who he though all he had
to do was to cultivate her. These were the words used in
the meeting, which I thought were unwise, because you can't
say something to fourteen people and except it to be a
F: And this woman found it out, I didn't know her, I met years
later when I went to a Board of Regents meeting in
Tallahassee, because she became a member of the Board of
Regents. And she told me that she would never help the
state university, and at one time she said when I thought I
might then I heard something said, but I decided not to help
to, she probably heard that. And a...
K: Who was this? Can you give the name?
F: Du Pont, Mrs. du Pont. Well she would not help any state
university. But she mentioned that other thing.
F: Not exactly what. But, Miller spoke frankly that he thought
he could get the money from the person, but he didn't. And
he tried, and he brought a Wilgose here. Willgoose became
head of latin american studies. Miller thought that
Willgose was going to accomplish all that, was going to get
millions. Willgose did not get a cent for that. He
developed the Caribbean Conference, they still meet
sometimes, with a meeting once a year, see. There were very
successful conferences in the beginning. They were being
paid by the United Fruit company, and some other companies
that had interests in Latin America. But when it came to
the interamerican house, and what we intended to do at the
beginning, nothing came through. Then Dr. Miller came, I
didn't tell Dr. Miller who was the man who had offered me
help, I felt that that was a confidential matter, and I
didn't want him to be disturbed by anybody else. Miller
asked me who was the person who had offered me this plan. I
told him I was sorry but I had promised that I was not going
to use his name. Even if the money was to be given, I was
not going to mention it, that wasn't true, he never said
that to me. But I didn't want this man to be disturbed.
F: But I think Dr. Miller was very keen, he knew I knew
Guggenheim, and my guess is that he suspected that it was
Guggenheim. So he asked me one day was it Harry F.
Guggenheim. I said no,no no. Then he came another day and
he said, why don't we invite Guggenheim to be the main
speaker of the Caribbean Conference? I said, he was
ambassador to Cuba, he had interests in Latin America and
Chile and so forth, he's a man of culture. I said well I'll
ask him. So I call up, I telephone Guggenheim. He said
you're giving him an awful responsibility but I told you I
would never deny you anything, when is the Caribbean
Conference? I told him. He says alright I'll go. And he
say, ah he said, addressed, he addressed the conference it's
here in the library. He spoke in spanish and in english, he
wrote it, he spoke in english, and then I translated it into
spanish, and it was published by the university press.
Stretching out the little interest that we had with the
Latin American Club that we had, and this purpose in mind
and the money I had been offered, if I wanted it to build
the house, developed into the great interest and the
bringing Willgose here, and because he thought that Willgose
would succeed in a in getting endowments, donations for that
sort of thing.
K: Well that pretty well exhausts the questions that I had
prepared to ask you. Was there anything else that you would
care to add to this?
F: No. I realize that in saying, in speaking about these thing
I can directly, indirectly step on many peoples toes, when
they are dead--dead men don't complain. In the personal
aspect I don't complain because, I always fought my battles.
And anyway if I were try to win one now it's to late. I've
had many friends in the university, Manning Dauer and many
others friends in the university. Three presidents were,
especially Dr. Miller was a very good friend of mine. Allen
became very good friend, I don't think that Allen had the
qualifications that Dr. Miller had as a promoter. Wayne
Reitz is still today a good friend of mine. In the faculty
I had many many friends, so many so that I was appointed to
represent the faculty at Tallahassee, in the meetings.
Strange I told him, why do you send me when I speak with an
accent as a foreigner? They said well it's about time we
educate them. Well, so I have no complaints at all. If I
had depended, and this is the last thing I'm going to say,
on my salary then I would have complained about the
difference in salary and promotion between me and men who I
considered much less capable than I was. But when I was
getting so much in royalties, you know I used to get in
those days ten twelve thousand dollars in royalties a year
besides, and that that was a lot of money in those days, you
K: It is today.
F: Very true. I didn't know what to do with the money, because
I lived very modestly.
F: All my interest in traveling, visiting countries, in
broadening my vision, in reading the things not only in
literature but in economics, and in political science, and
international relations. Everything seems of interest to
me, that's, but you don't have to spend much money for, but
for traveling yes, I spend an awful lot of money on
traveling. Through my books, not through my salary at the
F: And it might be interesting to you, that because of the
mistake made by the dean here in thinking that I would the
given ten years recognition, because I was 48 or 49 when I
came here, my retirement pension in the university is 300
dollars a month. If I depended on that I would have to have
a guitar and a bulldog and a tin can and collect pennies
along University Avenue. But I developed full social
security through my self being self employed from my books,
and so forth you know.
F: If I hadn't had that, I probably would have complained about
the fact that I was not being recognized. Well this is a
all that I have to say, and it's been nice, Mr. King, to
have known you. And if you find that in this almost
spontaneous answers to your questions, I have gone too far
in anything, or I am out of line in anyway, just cross it
K: Oh, you will have the opportunity to do that yourself. We
will send you a copy of the transcript.
F: Don't send it.
K: You don't want to... go over it yourself...
F: No, you, oh yeah, no, well I I'd rather pick it up and do it
myself so by myself so I don't get any advice from my wife,
my wife advises me sometimes more than I want to be advised.
K: Um hum.
F: She's a very competent person, very very cultured,and very
competent but very afraid that I may, you know, step on some
K: Ah, yes.
F: And a she's timid you know, and you can see about what I, by
what I said that timidity is not one of my qualities, if it
is a quality. So I don't like to be curtailed or frustrated
in anything that I believe in or that I know and
K: Do you have any objections to us using this interview and the
transcript that will come from it, for scholarly purposes,
for research, things of that nature.
F: After I approve it, no. I have no objection. And of course
I like to approve it, because you understand, you know, you
asked me about Page, Page is alive...
F: Now there is nothing that I wouldn't say to Page in his
F: For the last thing that I said to Page going to retired
professors meeting, I met him, and I said well you're still
alive. Because the two enemies that I had, three enemies,
were Burnet, Page, and Wimberly they were like this. And
if he said that's a question, I said when did the other two
K: I see.
F: But I don't like to...
F: to record something like this. See? So therefore I may
have said something that I said well I...
K: Oh, sure. That's, you have the option to delete any thing you
want to from that tape.
F: Then after I sign, after I say this is alright, then a a you
can go on, I, it's alright, you can do anything you want.
K: Okay. Well thank you very much for the interview. I've
learned a great deal.
F: Well, and um this is um,...
End of Tape B side 2