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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Frances Reitz
Interviewer: Emily Ring
Date: March 21, 1986
E: Today is March 21,1986. My name is Emily Ring and I am sitting in the home of Mrs.
Frances Reitz, who is the wife of our former University president, Dr. J. Wayne Reitz.
Frances, can you tell us something about your grandparents?
F: Yes, I will start with my mother. She came from the Hillis family and they were from
England. She always said the family was Scotch-Irish. Apparently they came into
Pennsylvania in the early days and then located at Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. My
grandmother grew up there and she attended Steubenville Seminary, in Steubenville,
Ohio. That seminary is no longer in existence. I remember her as a very lovely
grandmother and very active up until the end of her life. She liked to write and give talks
and she loved music. At the time she was growing up in Mt. Pleasant, she met my
grandfather, who came there as a young ministerial student. My grandfather William
Henderson Hillis was born in Pennsylvania and they moved around into Virginia, into
Kentucky, and then because they were abolitionists, they went across the river to
Madison, Indiana. That is where he grew up and he started going to school at Hanover
College. This was during the Civil War. Then he went to school at Miami University in
Oxford, Ohio, and decided he wanted to go into the Presbyterian ministry. He went to
Pittsburgh and graduated from a seminary there. In the summertime the young
ministerial students went out to small churches and participated. So he happened to go
to Mt. Pleasant for the summer and that is where he met my grandmother. They were
married in May 1869, and his first church was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I had many
interesting letters from my grandmother, and my great-grandmother too, when they were
at Gettysburg because this was about five or six years after the War.
E. Aren't we lucky that our ancestors saved letters, because nobody saves them
F: I know, they are fascinating. She would say how she and her husband would go out
at sunset to the burial ground. I was able through those letters to trace my
great-grandfather, whom I had lost for a while in a census in Washington. I could not find
him. I discovered him in the census from Gettysburg. They were visiting there and were
called inmates of the family. Of course, when people traveled in those days they took
trunks, so they could stay several months. Then they returned back to Madison, Indiana.
E: I do not understand that term, "inmates of the family."
F: I do not either. But apparently, it meant a house guest.
E: I see.
F: For instance, if grandparents came to live with a family, they called them inmates.
E: I see, visiting relatives.
F: That is right. But they were probably not there for just a few weeks. A trip like that
was quite an undertaking in those days. That was my mother's side of the family. Since
he was a minister they lived all over. My grandfather Hillis was a Beta Theta Pi when he
was in college and he was a singer. He moved about to several places because usually
the churches had divided during the War into north and south Presbyterian groups, even
in the same town. He was very eager to see that they joined. If there were an older
minister, he felt that he should move on and leave the older minister there as the new
minister for the now united church. That happened about three times. They moved
about, and I could tell a lot of interesting stories that my grandmother would tell. She
came from a family who was not greatly wealthy, but they were well-to-do, and she was
not used to having to live as a minister's wife, especially in these little small towns.
Missouri and Kansas were the West in those days and so they went on out there.
Grandmother said that some of their pay was actually from missionary barrels. People
would send clothes to them and she would be disgusted at some of the things the ladies
would send, thinking the minister's wife could just wear this. She was a fastidious little
lady and she did not like that very well.
E: Did she have a large family of children to clothe?
F: She had two daughters and three sons.
E: And your mother was one of the daughters?
F: Yes, Margaret was her name. Margaret and Martha were her two daughters and
those two names have come down through generations. We do not have a Martha, but
we do have a Margaret. My family was interested in keeping records and so I have been
very lucky that way to know some of the things about them. Eventually they both moved
to Yates Center, Kansas which is a little town in southeastern Kansas. He died and was
buried there. After my father, Samuel Millikan, and my mother were married they lived in
Missouri. Then they moved to Kansas to this little town because my father had asthma
and was seeking a climate. In those days they knew nothing about allergies but he
found that it was a little better in Kansas. Eventually he found that he was absolutely
relieved of it if he went to Colorado and so we grew up there.
E: Well, going over to your father's side, where was your father born?
F: He was born in Greenfield, Indiana.
E: Give us his full name.
F: Samuel Hall Millikan. They were originally Quakers who came from England, settled
in North Carolina, and then moved on up into Ohio.
E: Did he become a Presbyterian like your mother?
F: Yes, but I do not know just when. Probably in Indiana when they moved there. His
grandparents were pioneers and they went from North Carolina into Washington
Courthouse, Ohio. The year 1849 was the gold rush, so in 1850 my father's grandfather
decided to go with a caravan that was going out west for the gold rush. I have his letters,
not the originals, but the copies. I think the originals are probably in Indianapolis in the
E: You are lucky to have all of these old family letters.
F: Yes, just because the family cared about it. Some families, I suppose, do not think
these things are important, but to our family they were. These letters are very, very
interesting. Great-grandfather Millikan, who died in California, had a brother who had
gone out in 1849 and returned with a great deal of gold. These letters show the caliber
of people who went in the caravan. They were prominent people of the city. There was
a street named Millikan Street there; this great-grandfather was interested in organizing
this town. It is a lovely little historical town--Washington Courthouse, Ohio. He built a
beautiful home and that was where he lived. My grandfather and great-grandfather
Millikan died at Pleasantville. I do not know whether he had typhoid fever or what.
E: What sort of work did he do? He was not a minister. Was he a businessman?
F: Yes, he and his father were the first surveyors in the town. They were some sort of
developers, I believe. A woman took me around when Wayne and I went back to the
town years later. We talked to a man at the museum there. They have an interesting
museum in a very, very old house. He said, oh, we know the Millikans here. And he
said, if you wish I will take you around town and show you some of the houses that he
built. They were really beautiful homes. One of the brothers, I guess, was an editor of
the paper. Anyone who had leadership ability really had a mission in those pioneer
towns. But my father could never understand why great-grandfather Millikan would leave
his wife and all the children. Knowing my father, I have often thought that probably if he
were in that era he might have wanted to do the same thing. I read a book about the
times when men went out from all over the world to the gold rush.
E: And some became very rich and others really did not get the gold.
F: My great-grandmother lost her money. She lost the house and so she gathered up
E: Now, how did she lose the money? The money that he had made in the gold rush?
F: He evidently never got back with it. So whether there was any money I do not know,
but she lost the house.
E: Oh, he never got back with the money?
F: No. He died. The last letter he wrote to her I have, and he did not say he was ill. In
many of his letters he would report, tell Mrs. so-and-so that her husband is well, and
such things as that. But in this last letter he wrote from Pleasantville at the close he said,
"May God in his goodness care for you and the children." She did not know for months
that he was gone.
E: Well that was a very precarious sort of life out there, wasn't it?
F: Oh, yes it was.
E: She was left alone with these children at about what age, do you suppose?
F: I do not know, I suppose in her forties maybe, she had a baby.
E: So what did she do then?
F: She had a friend in Ohio and I think she had a sister there, too. She was from what
must have been a distinguished family in Vermont; I think her great-grandfather was
chief justice of the state of Vermont. She had come down to Ohio and that was where
she met Samuel Millikan. My father's name was Samuel also. Well, it is a long story and
I must not dwell too much on the grandparents, but those are really interesting times. So
my grandmother, who was then left, lost the house. She was an artist. She went to visit
her sister and then I do not know how she came to Greenville, Indiana. I believe she had
a friend there and she turned out to be a very important woman in the community.
Greenville, Indiana was James Whitcomb Riley's home. [James Whitcomb Riley,
(1849-1916), American poet] Her house was right next door to the poet. At that time he
was a young boy, the same age as one of her sons, so she referred to him as the Riley
boy. She evidently taught in the school and Riley would come over and she encouraged
him very much.
E: We are going to interrupt this story of Frances's ancestors a moment to say that she
has just read me a fascinating passage from a book about James Whitcomb Riley. Who
was the poet who wrote the book?
F: Marcus Dickey.
E: This passage tells about her great-grandmother on her father's side, who was a
teacher and who befriended James Whitcomb Riley when he was a little boy and led him
to the love of good literature. We are going to make a xerox copy of the pages from this
book and insert it here. Now Frances is going to go back to her grandfather Millikan.
F: He grew up in Greenfield, Indiana and became a doctor in the town.
E: And his full name was?
F: Samuel Richard Millikan. He married the daughter of a doctor, Samuel Hall, and
studied medicine at the Cincinnati Medical College. His father-in-law was a graduate of
there, too. That is another story because he finally came down to Palatka. I would like
to tell you that story later.
E: Your doctor-grandfather came to Palatka to live?
F: Yes, in his retirement. I have letters from him written in Palatka. He married the
widow of an army general, I believe, who was an artist. That is really very interesting.
E: Since you are so rich in these family letters that go so far back in American history,
are you planning to put them in archives somewhere so that they will not be lost?
F: I would like to. I know that either of our daughters would be very much interested in
keeping this kind of thing. Some of the things about our immediate family will no doubt
go to the archives if they want it, but I do not know about the others. If they were
worthwhile I could have copies made. There are some interesting things I was telling Dr.
Mark Barrow, who is interested in restoration of historic Gainesville. I heard a most
interesting program at the Alachua County Historical Association a few weeks ago, which
he gave on the old town of Palatka and the Ocklawaha River. I told him that we bought a
grave over there thinking it was where my great-grandfather was buried, and then later
found out he was buried in Indiana. We laughed about that.
E: Tell me about the time you bought the grave.
F: It all started when my mother came down to live with us. My father had passed away
in Colorado so we wanted mother to be down close. She had a ten-room house and I
believe she brought most of it with her. We wanted her to enjoy the community and feel
a part of it. We all knew that great-grandfather Hall had come down from Indiana in his
retirement days. He was a doctor and he had come down to retire in Palatka, Florida. In
those days I mean that was wilderness. It was the very first town in Florida to be
developed. It was on the St. Johns River, and you had to approach it by the river. I wish
I had known this old gentleman. I have a picture of him and he was quite handsome with
white hair and a long white beard; he must have set the ladies of the town quite a flutter I
think, when he came to Palatka to live. He met a woman at this time who was very
beautiful. She was an artist and the widow of an army general and they were married.
E: Was this his second marriage?
F: Yes. His first wife had died a number of years before and he was lonely. Why he set
out for Florida, I do not know, but I can imagine that the family back in Indiana thought he
was going to the jumping-off place. But here he was. So Wayne and I thought we would
go over and see if we would find Great-grandfather Hall's grave. We took mother and
investigated. We went to the courthouse and there was no cemetery records. They did
tell us there was a record of this widow, his wife. She died apparently before he did. So
we went to the old cemetery--there are some very interesting old cemeteries in Palatka
since it was such an early town. According to Dr. Barrow, it was the fashionable thing to
come to Palatka because it was the only way to come into Florida. You approached it by
boat. So it was not just a lot of riff-raff in Palatka by any means. They would take boat
trips up and down the Ocklawaha and go on back to New York or wherever. Well,
Great-grandfather lost his wife there, so we went to the cemetery and found her grave
and there was an unmarked grave beside hers.
E: So you just assumed that was your Grandfather Hall?
F: Yes. We went back to the courthouse and they searched and could not find it. This
man said, well, I feel sure that it must have been this man. So we paid forty dollars to
have the grave marked.
E: Well, how did you know that anybody was in it?
F: Well, we did not really. But we assumed that there was.
E: There was a space for it.
F: We did not want to dig up the grave. So we had to assume that it was his.
E: And it was a very modest price.
F: Yes, forty dollars after all. Mother felt so much better that we had satisfied a long ago
wish of my father's that he could find that grave. After his visit to Palatka and later after
mother died, too, Wayne and I drove to Indiana to visit Greenfield, my father's old home.
My cousin was there and I said, well, we finally found Great-grandfather Hall's grave.
And he said, but Frances, he is buried right up here in such-and-such cemetery in a little
town near Greenfield. We were horrified. I am glad that my mother did not know that
because she died feeling happy and secure in the fact that we had found his historical
grave. It was so funny when I told Dr. Barrow about that, he nearly died. He said, I think
I will have to go look that up. Well, that is just one of the stories.
E: So it made your mother happy?
F: Yes, and in the meanwhile I learned a lot about Palatka and we visited some of the
very old homes there. Someone said Mrs. so-and-so would probably have been a young
girl when he came. We went over to see her and she remembered him and remembered
his white beard and what a handsome man he was around the town.
E: Do they have a historical preservation movement over there?
F: Well, there is a book which has I think has been published by a man over there
working in one of the city offices. I have his name. A young man who is here now
working for the Chamber of Commerce came from Palatka and he told me about this
book which is written of the history of Palatka.
E: Well, Frances, we are going to be here until the day after tomorrow if we do not get
on with your life. Now we are going to get down now to your mother and father.
F: Mother was born in a small town in Indiana--Rockville, I think it was. Of course, as I
told you, her father was a minister and so they moved on and they are all out there. One
of the places where my grandfather was a minister was in Lawrence, Kansas. He was
also a chaplain of the university students there. My mother grew up for several years
there and met my father when he sang in the choir of my grandfather's church.
E: Now, your mother's full name was?
F: Margaret Hillis Millikan. My father was a singer and had studied in New York. His
father was a doctor and they had a family friend who had spent many years in Italy
studying and returned to the United States and set up a studio in New York City.
E: Now, what was your grandfather's full name on your mother's side?
F: Samuel Richard Millikan. He wanted his daughter and his son to go study under a
teacher in New York. I think his name was Wilson. He was a pupil of Lon Farity, who
was a great expositor of the belcanto method of singing--the really flowing singing. So,
papa studied there. When he was there he worked at a shoemaker's store. But I think
he gave up his singing career because of the asthma and because of my mother. Later
my father moved on out to Kansas and he met mother because of their musical interest.
Mother played the piano. She had not graduated from the University of Kansas, so she
was teaching and met my father. The whole family was interested in music and always
had been in community music. I mean, not just satisfying yourself in concerts and
choruses and so forth.
E: Singing in choirs.
F: So mother would accompany my father. He found in his travels that the Colorado
climate was just the thing for him. He did not have asthma at all in Colorado. If we had
known the history of this, there was something that he was allergic to farther east. So
that was where I was born. It was in a little town of about 9,000 people.
E: What was the name of the town?
F: La Junta. It was on the Santa Fe railroad.
E: In what part of Colorado?
F: In the southeastern part. The Arkansas River flowed past the town. It is very historic
around that area because that is where the Santa Fe Trail was. We were not very far
from there. I grew up loving Colorado.
E: Was it up in the mountains?
F: No, it is really on the plains. It was not too far from Kansas; it is not too long of a
drive. Then, of course, there were the rivers. I remember when the Arkansas River
overflowed and it was a terrific flood. The rivers in the West just do not have banks.
E: Did he make music his career?
F: No, he was in business. One very sad thing happened when I was quite a young girl.
My Grandmother Hillis and her daughter Martha, who was my mother's only sister, came
to live with us. They were living with us in Yates Center and then when we came on to
Colorado they came out here. My Aunt Martha was a graduate in music from the
Chicago School of Fine Arts. She was an organist; she played and taught organ in our
church. During a very cold winter, she took coal to the church. This was at the time
when there was so much flu after the First World War in 1918. She and my Aunt Martha
got pneumonia and when I got scarlet fever my mother moved me to stay with a friend
who also had a child. My grandmother and Aunt Martha died a day apart at the hospital
of pneumonia. It was a terrible flu.
E: That was a terribly hard year; so many people died.
F: Yes. They were buried in Yates Center, Kansas because that was where my
grandfather was buried.
E: How big was your family that you grew up with?
F: I had a sister, Martha. She now lives in California.
E: Now we have gotten through with your ancestors and we want to know where you
went to school.
F: I graduated from high school in La Junta and I was the valedictorian. It was a class of
only about 100 students, I think. Then my family sent me to Stevens College, which was
a school for girls in Columbia, Missouri. Mother became ill before the year was out so I
had to come home to help with her.
E: You had started studying music when you were a child?
E: Was your mother your first teacher?
F: No, I studied under Miss Clara Winter in the Dunning system.
E: What was the Dunning system? You had to hold your hands a certain way?
F: Well, I do not remember, but years later Clara Winters told me, Frances, I always had
a joke about you because of the first recital where you played at the Presbyterian church.
I was starting to play my piece and I was having difficulty getting started, so Miss Winter
came over and discovered I had my handkerchief wound up in my right hand. I could not
make much headway with that.
E: I guess you were a little nervous.
F: I am sure I was, but I had to continue. My father wanted me to be a great artist in
singing. So I was in lots of operettas and things like that.
E: You started being in operettas in high school?
F: Yes. But then I went to Stevens College and because of mother's illness I came
home. The next fall I went to the University of Colorado and I studied out there three
E: Now, when you were at the University of Colorado, were you a sophomore?
F: Actually, I had not finished my freshman year at Stevens. I had to come home before
the school year was out, so I really was kind of catching up there. I was studying music,
I was president of the women's glee club, and I was president of Alpha Chi Omega. My
father felt it would be best if I went to a conservatory to graduate. I think he thought I had
too many extracurricular activities.
E: And he wanted you to concentrate on voice.
F: My very close girlfriend Ruth Galbraith--we had grown up together in La Junta--was
studying organ and I was studying voice. She wanted to go to the Cincinnati
Conservatory of Music. My father investigated that and he thought that would be good
for me, too, so we both went back to Cincinnati. We were probably juniors then. It was a
wonderful place, really inspiring because Cincinnati has "straight" music. After I
graduated from there I returned to La Junta in the summer and at that time a friend of
mine--a very close friend--was getting married. Her name was Dorothy Inman. Her
father was the principal of the high school. She was going to marry Robert Changly from
Colorado State University. They were going to be married in Colorado Springs at the
home of a minister friend there. The father was doing graduate work that year at the
university, so they thought it could be most convenient to come to Colorado Springs and
have this wedding. Well, Bob invited a friend to be his best man and the friend became
ill. He knew that Wayne Reitz was in the area and he also was a friend, so he asked him
if he would be the best man at the wedding. In the meantime Dorothy had asked me to
be her attendant. It was just going to be a small wedding in the minister's home. He was
going to have his church and then the wedding was to be about one o'clock. But Wayne
said that he could not really come. He had an aunt who was coming in from Kansas, and
he was going to take her to the Royal Gorge. They were going to be leaving about six
o'clock in the morning and he could not come to the wedding. He had not met me, you
see. He knew that some girl was coming, but he did not know who. But Bob sent him a
telegram and he said, "I do not want just a good man, I need a best man, you have to
come." So he decided he would. I went up, too, and that is where we met. In the
meantime, I rattled on about Wayne Reitz in the college yearbook.
E: You had looked him up in the yearbook?
F: Yes, I knew quite a bit about all of his activities. I thought I would probably never see
him again, but he persuaded me to stay over after the wedding at the Sigma Chi house
that summer. The house mother was there and they had both men and women students.
The girls were upstairs and the men were downstairs. So he asked me if I would stay
over. I was pretty much thrilled by that and I decided I would. Another boy was going to
meet me at the train that night, supposedly, when I arrived home after the wedding.
The information never go to him somehow. He said he met trains all night. I did stay.
Wayne took me to the Sigma Chi house and we went to a movie and to a little dance and
we had a good time. Anyway, at that time he told me about his plans. He wanted to go
into the state department, which meant that he would probably be on the other side of
the world. I thought I would never keep up with him because that sounded very far away.
But then we did, of course. We wrote to each other about once a week. In the
meantime, I went back in the summer to Cincinnati and received my final degree in
music there. This was in the midst of the Depression. Music jobs were very difficult to
get. We met in 1930 at the wedding of his friends and then we were married in 1935.
We celebrated our fiftieth anniversary last September.
E: So you had a courtship of about four and a half years.
F: Yes, Wayne in the meantime went to the University of Illinois and received his
master's degree there.
E: From time to time during this four or five years, you would see each other, wouldn't
F: Oh yes. He would come back about once a year and you know you did not fly in
those days. So, he would drive back. And then I would go to see him. I went to
Washington and he came down to Washington and met me. So I was wearing his pin
and I was teaching. It was difficult to get music positions. I was teaching in a school and
also had private lessons, teaching music. I got a position in Saguache, in the San Luis
Valley of Colorado. I was teaching in Pueblo but then I was able to get this position in
Saguache. That is in the mountains. It was the greatest experience because I definitely
was not a mountain girl, but I loved the people. They were so warm-hearted. It was
very, very different from anything I had known or grown up with. The teachers lived at
the hotel. There were some very wealthy people there and they would travel to Hawaii or
New York or wherever in the winter.
E: You taught music in the high school?
F: All through grade school and high school, too.
E: So you would go from grade to grade?
F: Yes. Well, I had a music room. There were well-educated people there and those
were the ones we were associated with. They enjoyed the teachers, too. They would
entertain us in their homes. They would have lovely times and there were dances we
would all go to. Just girls and the fellows would come and we had a big swinging dance
someplace. I taught there for two years and on Valentine's Day of 1935, Wayne sent a
diamond out to me from Florida. He had spent the last two years working in Washington
and then came down to Gainesville. He was supposed to travel around; he was with the
Farm Credit Administration and agricultural economics was his field. He was sent down
to visit all of the land-grant colleges all over the United States.
E: I wondered why he decided to go into agricultural economics, he had been interested
in the foreign service. That ties together doesn't it?
F: Yes, but the way this happened, during that winter when he was working in Colorado
after he had graduated, he had to visit certain areas of Colorado to take economic
records from farmers and ranchers. He was caught in a snowstorm east of Lamar,
Colorado, a terrible blizzard, and I think it was two or three day before he could get out.
He said that during that time he thought a lot about how he wanted to spend his life and
he decided he wanted to go into education, that that would be the most gratifying way to
spend his career.
E: Well, fortunately for this University he made that decision.
F: He went ahead and got his master's degree at the University of Illinois. He already
had that when he went to Washington to work for the Farm Credit Administration. He
was to head up a certain division there, which he did. He organized that and then they
sent him down here. At the time, this was one of the institutions that he had to visit. He
had never been to Florida and he thought it would be a good time to go down there
during Christmas vacation. So, he came down here and Dr. Turlington [John Edwin
Turlington, professor of Argricultural Economics, University of Florida] was then in the
department. But he had had a heart attack. So he took his records there and spent a
few days, and then went back to Washington. Then he got a telegram from Dean Newell
[Wilmon Newell, University of Florida Provost for Agriculture] asking him if he would
consider coming down for a year to teach in the Department of Agricultural Economics to
allow Dr. Turlington time to recover. Wayne thought that sounded very good, so he said
alright, he would come. So, he came down and Dr. C. V. Noble [Clarence Virgil Noble,
head professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Florida, 1926-1955] evidently had
become the chairman of the department during Dr. Turlington's absence. Everybody
was wonderful to him, and Wayne enjoyed Preacher Gordon. [Ulysses S. Gordon,
preacher, First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville] They played handball together and
tennis and he just liked him so much. Then Dr. Turlington died during that year, so he
was then asked if he would stay on. Wayne had become very fond of Gainesville and he
wrote and asked me if I would like to come to Florida. Well, Florida had seemed like the
end of the world to me. I had not traveled down this way and also, at that time, you
heard a lot about the land boom and how so many people in Florida lost a fortune at that
E: Oh yes, that was awful.
F: I did not know how that place would be.
E: Sounded like a pretty fast place.
F: Yes, but of course I would go anyplace Wayne would. So then he sent the ring and
we were married. He came out that summer. Then he started work on his Ph.D. at the
University of Wisconsin, so he was there. He came for our wedding on September 1,
1935; it was on a Sunday. Then we took the train down to Texas. He loves to travel and
plan the unusual so he had it arranged for our taking a boat, the Clyde-Mallory line out of
Galveston, across the Gulf to Miami. Well, as we arrived in Houston we heard the
newsboys telling about this terrible hurricane in 1935 in the Keys. It had washed
hundreds of men who were working for the WPA out into the ocean and they were never
heard from. It was just a terrible disaster. I said, Wayne, we are going to go out with the
storm. He said the day after a hurricane it is just as calm as can be; there is not going to
be any trouble at all. So we went down and that is when I began to trust him. I had great
faith, I knew he would not be taking me someplace that was too bad. So we took the
boat and the passengers had been reduced to about ninety. There were no children on
board. There were just ninety of us and I think they discovered that they had a bride and
groom on the boat. Clyde-Mallory was a fine line. When we finally arrived in Miami he
had arranged for us to stay in a hotel for about three days before coming up to
Gainesville. I cannot remember just how expensive it was, but you cannot imagine
staying in a Miami hotel for as cheaply as we did, and it was one of the nice ones.
E: Do you recall seeing any of the destruction in that area after the hurricane? I
suppose a lot of trees were down.
F: Oh, yes, there was. But that hurricane had gone to the Keys--south of Miami.
Everybody was so distraught about it. Then we came up to Gainesville. That time was
stayed two weeks at Mrs. A. P. Spencer's house. He had been away for a little while and
that was where Wayne had lived.
E: Was that a boarding house?
F: No, it was not a boarding house, it was their private home. Her husband was the
director of the service in Florida for agriculture extension. It was near Dr. Anderson's
office--Anderson and Emmel. Just north of that on the corner was the Spencer home
and it was quite a large house. She was so good to Wayne; she just loved him and she
spoiled him, too. She would let him take anything out of the refrigerator. If she had a
fresh cake she would say, just go help yourself, Wayne. He was totally spoiled in that
way. We stayed there for two weeks until we found a house--Mrs. Morris's home which
has been torn down now. We had the lower floor of her house.
E: What is that address?
F: That was on Old Masonic Avenue. I think it was called Porter's Corner.
E: In relation to the big post office downtown, in what direction was it?
F: It was southwest, not out very far. Right now I think there is a fried chicken restaurant
or something. They tore all of that down in there. I remember her beautiful floors and
how very lucky we were to get it. I think we paid about thirty-five dollars a month.
E: You had an apartment there?
F: Yes, Wayne can remember the figures of it. It is really appalling how cheaply one
could live here.
E: It was just appalling how low the salaries were, too.
F: Oh, yes.
E: Do you remember what the salary was that you made in those days?
F: No. He was given the same salary as Dr. Turlington and in fact, it was the same I
believe as his office mate, Dr. Glen Hamilton. [Dr. Henry Glenn Hamilton, professor of
Marketing Agricultural Products, University of Florida] Wayne just thought that was
terrible that he, a young man, would come in and be paid the same as Dr. Hamilton. But
they had the line item so they had to hold onto it.
F: Even though this young man did not have much experience.
E: How lucky for Wayne.
F: Yes, because we had friends here in the English department and they had very low
E: The same was true of the sociology department when we came here; a ridiculously
low salary, something like $2,400. We had made $1,800 at the University of Mississippi
one year, then the next year here we made $2,400.
F: I wish I could remember this. I should ask Wayne because it really was not a big
E: That was in 1938. Later you moved to that four-plex and you had some other people
living in the building.
F: Yes, then we moved to Arlington Street, which was a new apartment house. It had
four apartments in it, built by Dean Winston Little. [Winston Woodward Little, Dean of the
University College, University of Florida] We moved there the same time that he and his
bride Ann moved in.
E: I heard all about that place when I interviewed Ann Little. Who were the other two
couples living there?
F: Betty and Brian Culpepper lived upstairs and Hal Germond, who was then a bachelor
[Hallett Hunt Germond, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, University of Florida]. He
was a professor here for a long time and then married. He lived downstairs. Since I
taught voice lessons, I am sure I must have asked the Littles upstairs if it would bother
them. I would not have taught if it would have upset them. I had some students from the
University because voice was not taught there. In those days they had the leader of the
band and also a leader of the choral work.
E: Now, were they teaching piano in those days?
F: They did not teach piano in the University.
E: It was just group music.
F: Yes, the glee clubs, the ensemble, and they had the orchestra. They probably had
the Gator Band at that time.
E: Oh, I am sure that they did.
F: No voice, but the men's glee club was splendid. It was really fine. I had two boys
from Tallahassee who were musicians and they came to study with me. It was perhaps
only a block from the campus, so it was a good place to go.
E: What was the name of that street then?
E: Is that apartment building still there?
F: Yes. The neighborhood does not look the same. Then later, after the Culpeppers
moved, J. C. and Lucy Dickinson moved in. We all had children about the same time.
E: Is it still used as a an apartment house?
F: I am sure it must be.
E: They did not tear it down and put one of the big ones up.
F: Actually, we could look out through the bedroom windows, right over on P. K. Yonge,
it is so very close.
E: Well, let's get on to the birth of the two girls. The dates?
F: Margaret Ann was born in 1937 in Alachua General.
E: In those days, they kept you at Alachua General for about two weeks. Who was your
F: Dr. Thomas. Oh, how we all loved Dr. Thomas. Ann Little upstairs, her daughter,
Joanne, was born I believe, two weeks after Margaret Ann. She came home and we had
a lot in common in those days. Then the Culpeppers' oldest son was born about a
month later. I call her Margo now, but she is Margaret Ann. Then we decided if we
could get the money, we would go to the University of Wisconsin for Wayne to continue
and finish his Ph.D. Scholarships were very rare then and the secretary for the
president, Miss Pips, called him and said, Mr. Reitz, I wanted to tell you that there is to
be a scholarship offered for Ph.D. work and it will be offered by the Rockefeller
foundation. She said, why don't you try that? She seemed to like him. If Miss Pips told
you that, you might think you had a fair chance of getting it.
E: She was secretary to the president?
F: That is right. She was a wonderful woman. There were two applicants for this and
Wayne got it.
E: Let us talk about who was president of the University then.
F: Dr. Tigert [John J. Tigert, President of the University of Florida, (1928-1947)].
E: Tell us where they lived.
F: When he was president they lived across town, in the house which this Dr. Barrow,
whom I referred to before, has restored. The Tigert home was just elegant. Did you
know Mrs. Tigert?
F: She was my image of a wonderful president's wife.
E: Yes, she always crocheted a pair of booties for every child that was born to the
F: That is right. She would come to call, too, to bring the booties and see your baby.
E: So, Margaret Ann was born before you went to Wisconsin to finish the Ph.D?
F: We took her up there and Marjorie was born in Wisconsin on the Fourth of July, in
1940. There was about three years' difference. We had a wonderful time in Wisconsin
because he got this fellowship and we did not have to borrow the money. That was a
great assistance to us. We were there for two years and it was great life.
E: I wonder how many people got their Ph.D's from the Rockefeller foundation money.
We did that, too. It must have been dozens and dozens and that was the bottom of the
Depression. So if it had not been for that money, I do not know how everybody would
have done it. Now students have to borrow these tremendous amounts of money that
they have to pay back later.
F: Of course, there were many students who had to borrow then. At Wisconsin, I was
active in the University Dames as a graduate student. I do not think we had that at that
time here, but it was organized a year later. A lot of the girls were working and there on
very little money unless they had family sending them money or they had a fellowship.
We were fortunate to get a house belonging to Wayne's major professor, who was
leaving for a while--Dr. Higgard. Marjorie was born there. They had a very large house
so each of the little girls got a room. I had a girl student come out totake a room, so if
Wayne and I wanted to be out at night we would not have to worry. It did not turn out
very well because the girl smoked a lot in her room. I though it was a little risky to go off
and leave her since I was afraid she would fall asleep.
E: Especially since you were living in somebody else's house.
F: That is right, and I felt very responsible for it. We had to get along without someone.
Wayne belonged to the Taylor-Hibbard Club and we would get together occasionally for
dinners. They always came to our house with sort of a covered dish thing. I remember
particularly one night we had a waffle supper. I think we had waffle irons in every room
of the house and it was funny because it blew the electricity. We finally got that fixed and
we went on back. It was a lot of fun, but no one had very much money. Even though we
were on a fellowship we were fortunate, but we did not feel that we had much money.
That was a great time. Then we came down to Clemson and he was able to fill out a
position there in agricultural economics. That was an interesting experience. They are
lovely people there; they were so nice to us and we played bridge a great deal. Some of
the ladies would play bridge in the morning, afternoon, and the evening, too. They were
quite set apart since they were not near a city. It was just a small college community. It
was different from any place that I had been but everyone was really nice.
E: Was it a musical community?
F: Oh, no, nothing cultural--that I could tell.
E: The state university is at Columbia. Wasn't Clemson agricultural?
F: Surely. That is right.
E: We used to call it the cow college.
F: You know, they were lovely people and they were educated people. The men in the
afternoon when they finished their classes would go down to what they called the
drugstore, which was a pharmacy. I caught on to all of these things. If your husband did
not come home in time for dinner you would just call down there and say, would you
please tell Wayne that dinner is ready?
E: They were in the drugstore drinking Cokes?
F: Yes, or reading. They would get together there and talk. It used to be the young
professors. Or if they were not professors, they were assistant professors or something.
E: You were lucky he was not in a tavern drinking beer.
F: Oh, yes. Mercy, mercy. Another interesting thing about that was that any party in the
evening, you dressed for it. The men wore their tuxedos and the ladies wore long
E: After all, this was South Carolina.
F: Yes, and I loved it. I thought it was awfully nice. I got a chance to wear some of my
long dresses. Then when we returned to Gainesville, in the early days you wore long
dresses at the Gainesville Women's Club.
E: Tell us about the Gainesville Women's Club and particular fashions. If you were the
mother of daughters, it was mandatory to belong to the Gainesville Women's Club.
F: Yes, it was. I belonged to that.
E: They would have the dances for the little girls?
F: I think that the dances started after our daughters grew up and were in college.
E: Not being the mother of girls, I was wondering how they managed that. Did the girls
invite the boys that they wanted?
F: I am sure they did. One little thing was interesting to me. When Margo was a junior
in high school they had a custom in Gainesville. There was much entertaining for the
senior girls who were graduating. Lots and lots of parties would be given for them.
Maybe the majority of the girls were not entertained but certain ones were and it was all
written up in the paper and so forth. They might not even tell the hostess they could not
come. There was no feeling of obligation, it was just party, party, party. I talked with
some mothers--I suppose Ann Little was one--and asked them what they thought about
our giving one big party and trying to reduce all this private entertaining and see if we
could have a situation where not so many girls were left out. It would still be a nice
occasion but all of the high school girls would be invited. Why not bring P. K. Yonge and
Gainesville High School. We could get the mothers to do it if they were interested, you
know, have committees of mothers from both schools.
E: Marjorie was at Gainesville High School and Margo was at P. K. Yonge?
F: Marjorie was not in high school then. But she chose to go to GHS because most of
her friends were going to be over there. I guess they had gotten a little tired of P. K.
Yonge. In the mean time, we had gone to Washington to live and then came back. So, I
went to talk with the women who were in charge of the girls' activities and they all
thought it would be a very good thing. They felt that it was having an effect on the young
girls and graduates, and it was not good socially. There was too much emphasis on it
and their grades were falling. So that is what we did. We organized this. Margo and I
gave a party her junior year and we entertained for about seven or eight girls at our
home and then I felt free: I am going to get this thing started.
E: Would it include all girls?
F: That is right. So we had a wonderful party and Evelyn Hale, I think took the
chairmanship of it. I worked on maybe the first one. We were living on Fifth Place, so it
could have been that about that time Wayne was selected as the president. Well, I did
not feel that I should be chairman of this party. I said, let's have the party in the
president's house. We had all the girls come there from both high schools.
E: Did that become an annual affair?
F: Yes, it did.
E: But there was another dance at the club house on University Avenue.
F: That is right. Oh, there were many parties and I do not mean to say that this
eliminated them all together.
E: Was the Gainesville Women's Club in those days called the Twentieth-Century Club?
F: Yes it was.
E: They owned a small house on West University near the old Presbyterian church.
That house was later moved out on Sixteenth Avenue at the Millhopper Shopping
Center. It became the Gainesville Little Theater and it is still there. As the mother of
boys, I never quite understood how the party was given or whether the girls invited the
boys, but it does not matter. It was quite an honor to be invited I remember. We now
have reached the point where you are in the president's mansion. Tell us about the
building of it. It was built during the tenure of J. Hillis Miller and Nell Miller and it was not
a very old house when you moved in.
F: No, they lived there nine months and after he died and during the time the selection of
the president was being made, she lived there for a few months. Then she took an
apartment across town. There are so many interesting things about the building of the
E: I have always been so sorry that we have never sat down and got the life history of
Nell Miller. We should have done it while she was alive because she was a wonderful
F: Yes, she surely was. I still miss her at certain times.
E: She was a beautiful lady.
F: When we moved in the house I felt very sensitive, I knew that it would just be
heartbreaking to her to come there. I tried to imagine what would make it the easiest for
her to come so I decided it would be best if she came when there was quite a group
there, perhaps the University Women's Club or a large group like that. So if she did
break down, she could go off someplace. But she enjoyed doing that. I did not take her
upstairs. I had really changed very little, out of deference to her.
E: Well, it was a very beautiful home and it was almost brand-new when you moved into
it, so there was really not reason to redecorate anything.
F: The only thing that I actually changed was the wallpaper in the master bedroom. The
reason I did was it did not really look like Nell Miller. There was a lot of purple in it and to
me, it was not restful.
E: Was it purple flowers?
F: Something like that. She loved lavender, you know how she used that throughout.
E: And she always dressed in blue.
F: Yes, and you remember in the formal room, which I call the living room, the
davenport--the large sofa--was lavender and then the two chairs at either end were
lovely big chairs and they were in lavender, too. She used that a lot, but gold and blues
also; I like her colors. Now I did not go so much for lavender but I would not have
thought of changing it. I did change the Florida room later on.
E: Then Mrs. Miller made a whole new career for herself. She went over to the
Methodist Student Center and worked with Thaxton Springfield and became very
wonderfully useful over there at the council.
F: She had some wonderful experiences. Students can kind of bring you into a new
world and that was very good for her. Then she reached the point--it may have been
when Thaxton Springfield, the minister of the church, passed away--when Wayne talked
with her. He said, Nell, I know that you want to continue working. So they talked about it
and he felt that it would be good if she went to the new J. Hillis Miller Health Center to
start working. Possibly she could do something with families and helping in their
association that way. She thought she would like it, too. I know that he arranged for her
to do that. Nell told us right before she died, Frances, I would not have stayed in
Gainesville if it had not been for you and Wayne. I was so touched by that. I thought
she was so sweet.
E: She had two lovely sons; she could have moved away.
F: That is right.
E: Well, we have you moved into the mansion. We always called it the mansion in the
neighborhood. You had a Halloween party for the children and they loved going to the
mansion to get at those apples.
F: Yes, we had ghosts around. The first time--I do not know whether you want me to
get into some of these funny stories or not.
E: Go right ahead.
F: Before the house was finished Wayne and I were curious. I mean we had no idea
that we would ever live in such a place; it was being built for the Millers. One afternoon,
maybe it was after the workmen had gone, we just thought well, let's walk over there.
Let's walk over and if we can get in we will walk around there. It was such an enormous
place and it was not completed by any means. I climbed the ladder and looked on the
second floor and it was so large. I said, poor Mrs. Miller, I feel so sorry for her. I said I
would not live in this place for a million dollars. I remember saying that. But then it
became a beautiful home. I think at that time it was considered one of the finest in the
country. At least many people told us that it was the prettiest home. One person who
meant a lot to me was Mr. Jeff Hamilton, who was the architect.
E: He was from Mississippee.
F: Yes, and he came over. I did want the arrangement of the furniture different in the
living room because as you walked into the foyer and looked west through the beautiful
picture window, they had the grand piano up that way. In other words, as you entered
the living room on your left was the grand piano and it was just not conducive to people
really enjoying it. So I talked with Mr. Hamilton about it and he said let's rearrange that
living room the way you would like it. He cut out the little pieces of paper to represent the
different pieces of furniture in that room. He brought it over and we fixed it up and
moved them around the way we would like it. I did not move the sofa that has always
been there. I thought that wall was just a lovely place for it. But we did nove the piano
down. Mrs. Criser now has it on the right side, I liked it on the left side. Between the two
is the picture window.
E: Where you had it, it got light didn't it?
F: That is right. It was very nice. That Halloween party was funny because our girls
always went out on Halloween and we would always have a big time and the children
would come to our house. Well, the first year we lived there not one child came, nobody
came to ring the doorbell. I had decorated and was waiting for company. So I talked
with the mothers on Fifth Place where we had lived. We were good friends with
everybody on that street.
E: You had all the neighborhood.
F: We had all of the families.
E: All the former neighbors.
F: That is right. It always included Nell Miller. Anyway, I talked to them and I said, if you
are out with the children why don't you bring them down to our house? They all said that
would be fun. I had the girls hidden in two closets, one upstairs and one downstairs and
Wayne was on the sofa in the Florida room covered. As the children would approach
they came in and all the lights were off and I had the little flashlight and they would hear
moaning and groaning. It was funny. There were little girls and a few little boys, whose
eyes were as big as can be. I said we have to go up the steps now, your treats are in the
study. So they went up and here was Marjorie moaning from a closet in the hall there.
They went through all of the rooms with candles, then they went over to Wayne's study
and there were apples and candy and cookies. So it really was fun and that was the last
year that I did not have any children. I guess the news went around so every year we
had big crowds; sometimes we had seventy-five.
E: I heard all about it.
F: I guess you did. Well, that was fun. Then the children would come and play. I have
a lot of funny stories about them. They liked to play in the patio down the slope. The big
barbeque pit was down there and there were two large tables. We no longer used that
because it just became impractical. After we had air-conditioning we entertained in the
house. But these children were so cute. One time, I could hear the little neighbor
children--I cannot think of their names right now--hooping and hollering down there and I
was going off to a club meeting and I did not like to leave them there. They were very
good about not taking flowers or anything like that. I expect their their mothers had given
them instructions, but that was a great place to play and the only place in town you could
do such a thing. So, I called to them and I said, I am going off and there will not be
anyone here and I am just afraid if any of you got hurt that you would not have anybody
here to help you. One little boy said, oh, that's alright because we brought a stretcher!
They were so cute. They would come up the hill if they saw me out in the yard, and the
first thing they would say was, how is the president? One mother said that her little girl
called me Mrs. Eisenhower. She thought that was the president's house, and they
thought we were the Eisenhowers. I hated to see it when they cut that wedge for the
road across in front up there to go on to Newberry Road.
E: It cut one corner of the yard off.
F: That is right. I thought it was too bad but it had to be done, I suppose. This mother
told me at a party one time, she said my little girl came home and we were talking about
the city cutting a road across there and this little girl said, oh, Mrs. Eisenhower is not
going to like that. Well another little cute story about these children. There were three of
them came over---it must have been on an early Sunday morning and it had been
sprinkling. So here they came. The baby had his nightgown on and was carrying a big
black umbrella and the other two were not too much older and they did have their clothes
on. The doorbell rang and Wayne was out of town and I was preparing to have the
house sprayed. I had the draperies pulled up and furniture moved away from the wall
and as much as I could do. It was obvious for anybody who saw the interior that
something was going to happen. So, here I went to the door and I said, well, hello, did
you come to see me? And they said, yes, they wanted to see the house. So I just
invited them in; I knew who they were. I invited them in and they stood there and looked
around at this large place. They saw what was happening with furniture moved out and
all. The oldest child said, are you moving? I said, no, we are just getting ready to have it
sprayed. But it was really cute. Those children are really darling and so I took them
around the see the house and then I said, do your parents know where you are? I think
this was about seven o'clock in the morning. They don't know, they said, they were
asleep. I said, well, I suspect you had better go back home because they will be looking
for you. So I got them fixed up and we got the umbrella up and off they started and I did
not call their parents. I thought well, if they are asleep, I am not going to tell them. So,
they went off.
E: That was darling.
F: Children are so natural. They just say what they want to say.
E: Now, tell us about the girls. You said they both went to Wesley College?
F: No, Margo went one year and then we felt that she should come back. She was
going to major in music and pipe organ. There are a number of courses that she wanted
here that she could not get at Wesley, so she came back. Marjorie at that time was in
high school. Margo pledged Tri Delt and she stayed at the house. We never would
allow her to stay in the sorority house if they were crowded because she had no room
there We drove her there and she stayed at times when they had room for her at the Tri
Delt house. She was in a lot of musical things. We had many students over and the
choruses would come by and they would sit on that floor and just sing and sing.
E: Was it during this time that you organized the Friends of Music to help the music
F: No, that was after Wayne retired. I know because I would not have felt like asking
people for money when he was president. I did all I could to help them and they knew I
was very much interested. It was after I returned that I helped organize that.
E: Who taught the girls their piano lessons? Did you give them their first lessons?
F: No, I never did try that. That is very unusual for a mother to be able to do it; I
certainly admire it but I never did. I did not tell you this, but we went to Orlando during
the War and thought we would return to Gainesville. Wayne left the University at that
time--during the Second World War. So the girls had a wonderful experience there and
had a very fine music teacher--Mary Nelson, who was really an artist. Marjorie was very
small and she was not in school yet, but she would follow along. The teacher
encouraged them to bring their little brothers and sisters if they could shed finger painting
in one area. If you wanted to drop off your other child, that was all right with her.
Marjorie could play by ear, so she would take her sister's things that she had heard
played and she would come home and set the music up on the piano. It may have been
upside down, but she could play them. She does not do that now.
E: Was Wayne working for the agriculture department?
F: You mean in Orlando?
F: He was with United Brewers and Shippers as their economist. So we had four years
in Orlando. We had a wonderful time in Orlando. I had the junior choir in the First
Presbyterian Church, I was a scout leader, and and I did garden club work. It was a
busy time. We liked Orlando very much.
E: That was during the Second World War?
F: Yes. Then he was asked to come to Washington as the chief of the citrus division.
We had to sell our house and we had not been there very long. He was asked also to go
as an agricultural attache to the Philippines. We had just built our little house there on
Lake Davis and I hated to move and take the girls out there. They said that Manila had
been so desecrated during the War.
E: Now, we have mixed up our time sequence here but I do not think it matters because
when we were talking about Mrs. Miller, we jumped ahead to the time that you moved
into the president's home. But now we have gone back the Second World War when you
were living in Orlando. Then when you came back from Orlando?
F: We went to Washington.
E: For how many years?
F: It was about eighteen months I think. He was asked by Dr. Miller to come back to
Gainesville to be Provost of Agriculture. He came to Washington to ask him if he would
come and Wayne decided that he would.
E: So that was when you built the house of Fifth Place, when you came back?
F: Yes. That was 1950.
E: Did you buy that house or did you build it?
F: We built it on Fifth Place and then it was 1955 when he became president.
E: I see, so five years you lived on Fifth Place?
E: That is when all the mothers of Fifth Place had the annual Christmas parties?
F: Yes, all of the families.
E: Would you go from one house to the other?
F: No, we always met at our house. The little girls and mothers made little
with red bows. For the children we had the choir. Lester Hale would either read the
Christmas story from the Bible or he would tell Christmas stories. [Lester Leonard Hale,
Dean of Student Affairs and professor of Speech, University of Florida] It was a lot of
fun. The children would come in and help me make cookies several days before and
they looked like little angels standing there. The Powell children were across the
street--five little girls--and then there were the Littles.
E: Were the Webber children down there?
F: Webber? Yes, they lived down the street for a few years.
E: They had two boys.
F: And a girl, too. The whole neighborhood would come and then we just transported it
over to the president's house. And they all seemed to enjoy that, too. Oh, they were
dressed up. I have some cute pictures of them at Easter when everybody was dressed
up in their pretty little Easter dresses. We have a cute picture of them back on the wall in
the rear of the house. We were fortunate I felt because we had lived here. We had
friends. However, we became so busy we hardly ever had time to see our long-time
close friends, time was just so taken up. But it still had been our home, it was home to
E: So naturally you stayed here after Wayne stepped down as president because this
had been your home.
F: Yes, but we did not stay. We went to Washington.
E: I always think of that as a sort of interim because you came back.
F: That is right.
E: How long were you away that time?
F: Five or six years. We went to Washington and we were there for three years and
then we went to Thailand for two years. We came back here in 1973 and he left the
presidency in 1967.
E: What was it that you enjoyed most when you went to Washington the last time?
F: After he left the presidency?
F: I certainly enjoyed it. I was very much interested and I did a little painting there with a
young woman who lived down the hall. We lived in River House 1600 and we had a
beautiful apartment on the twelfth floor. We could look out on the corner of the twelfth
floor looking across all the way into Washington where we saw everything and anybody.
E: What was the address?
F: 1600 Joyce Street. We could see the river, the Capitol, and all of the great buildings
and locations that anybody came up to see as tourists. Through those windows we
looked down and could see the river--the boats down there sailing on Sundays down to
Alexandria. It was a lovely view and then I would go to the archives.
E: Well, now, the girls were out of the home by then?
F: Yes. Margo was married and Marjorie was working, or was she down here?
E: They both graduated from this university?
F: Yes. They both were graduated from here.
E: Margo of course, majored in music.
F: Yes, she did. She majored in music and then she decided she wanted to get a
master's degree in Christian Education so she went to Richmond, Virginia, to the
seminary there. And Marjorie, after she graduated from here, majored in political
science. She went to Geneva, Switzerland and was there a year.
E: With the United Nations?
F: No, she was with the United Nations when she came back, but she took advanced
work there at the Institute of International Studies. That is one of the great political
science schools in the world. Everything was in French and it was very good for her.
And, of course, in European schools they do a lot of vacationing. So she had some
friends there who were from Georgia. I do not know how they met. She had gone to
Agnes Scott first for two years and then she came here. She met them out there. When
they left Geneva she wanted to get a position in New York. She tried a lot of different
places and she was given work in Adali Stevenson's office [Adali E. Stevenson
(1900-1965) American Political Leader]. Many people would write to him and want him
to autograph his books. She said when he died one of the things she did was go through
the stacks of books that he had never gotten to sign and she would have to write to the
people to whom these belonged, expressing regret at not being able to attach his
signature to these various things but that he would stop to think of every word. She said
that was important to him and I think that was true. And so he took longer. She said she
thought that some of these people thought that she probably sat at his knees most of the
time and that they were very close so they would strike up correspondence with her. At
that time a couple of the girls whom she knew in Switzerland had been to the University
of Georgia and so they had had a crowd down there of students and they said they were
going to get together once a year and have a reunion. One of them had an aunt who
lived in New York and she said, if you invite your friends up here you can have this party
at my apartment. So that is what they did. This young man was coming up from Georgia
who was working in the governor's office at that time, Gus Turnbay. He did not have a
girlfriend so they wondered if Margie would like to be his date. That ended in a marriage
and they are both in Tallahassee.
E: Now, what is his job in Tallahassee?
F: He is vice-president of academic affairs.
E: For Florida State University?
F: Yes. He had a very busy job, very busy life up there.
E: So, Marjorie is following in her mother's footsteps as part of theuniversity
F: She is far beyond me now. She has started her own consulting service. They do not
have children and she worked first with the government. She was an assistant to the
Speaker of the House and she had some very good experiences. Then she was one of
the executives in Health and Rehabilitative Services. Then she decided she just felt that
she wanted to do something more on her own so she has started the consulting service.
E: What kind of consulting?
F: I do not know. She has requests in California, Latin America, North Carolina,
E: This is political work?
F: Not for the Florida government. But, anything that they want to know. She has
recently done something for HRS, something for the legislature, but I do not know what
these all are. She would be a good person to do this.
E: Kind of a go-between to match up people.
F: She comes through here and may spend a day or two. She had people to talk with at
HRS but it could be on health, it could be on old age, it could be on anything. She knows
how to put her finger on it and get certain persons.
E: Different social service agencies, I see. Now your other daughter, Margo, had three
F: Yes, she has three sons.
E: Tell us about them.
F: Of course she was a mother for a long time and interested in many things and in the
church. She did not have a paid position but she sings and she is in garden club work.
It must be about four years now that she has been divorced. Her husband left her and
so she had the three boys. Fortunately, Baxter's father, who was a prominent Louisville
attorney, had left in his will trusts for six grandsons for education. At this time, it is not
totally adequate, but it has been a great help. First she was able to get a very good
position in the Second Presbyterian Chruch as their director of Christian education. It is
a fine church in Lexington. So we are just very proud of Margo. She has a wonderful
rapport with the boys. Nathan is still in high school, and is looking around for a college to
go to. He wants to go into art and he is quite talented.
E: He is the youngest?
F: Yes, he is the youngest. The other two, I think they know what they are going to do,
E: The oldest's name?
E: And he is in college?
F: Yes, he will graduate next year.
E: What college?
F: I think history will be his major at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. It is difficult,
people say, for young people these days to make a decision as to what they want to
major in if they have not always had a feeling of what they wanted to do. He is very
E: Well, now what about the middle one?
F: Timothy. He has about decided to major in psychology. He dropped out of school for
a year and has gone back now.
E: Where is he in school now?
F: At Kentucky. Well, that was the logical place for him to go because of Margo with
E: Go to the local university.
F: That is right.
E: Well, I know you take quite an interest in them and I was just admiring the sketches
that you made of the three boys when you were living in Thailand. These are such
F: I enjoyed doing it.
E: Now, did they come over to visit you when you were there?
F: No, Marjorie and her husband did. We had a wonderful visit with them.
E: Before we end this tape, I want you to tell me what you liked so much about the two
years in Thailand?
F: Well, Wayne was overforthe Rockefeller Foundation in their university development
work, particularly with medical schools.
E: Now, what years would they have been?
F: It was the period from 1970-1973. The president of the Rockefeller Foundation was
Dr. George H. __, a very wonderful man and a wonderful friend of ours. He had
talked with Wayne several times and asked if he would like to come and work in the
foundation. So after my mother died, we went to Washington. She had been in a
retirement home in Orlando and it did not seem wise to bring her up there, we thought
we would be coming back in two years to Gainesville. But she was in the Presbyterian
home, The Towers, in Orlando. I would come down frequently and she would come up
to visit us. That worked out very well and then after she passed away rather suddenly,
Wayne and I felt that if we wanted to leave the country we could, but we would not have
done so while she was living. He had some other offers; he did not want to stay with the
government too long. Then George called and said, Wayne, I need a
university president who has had experience with a medical school. We need you in
Thailand, would you come work for us? That seemed very attractive and so that is what
we did. We got an apartment there and just had a wonderful life. There were two other
university presidents there, too, and their wives. We had an awfully good time. Dr. and
Mrs. Davidson from the University of Louisville, they were retired, and then Dr. and Mrs.
James Jenson from Oregon State. Wayne knew them, but I had not known either of
them. We all got well acquainted and they were so fine to us. We just thoroughly
E: And they were all working for the Rockefeller Foundation?
F: No, the Jensons worked for Rockefeller, and they were in a different university. He
was in agricultural work. Wayne left agriculture a long time ago and he was in university
administration. The Davidsons were with the Ford Foundation. I do not know just in
what area. There were many interesting people out there.
E: Well, there were some other University of Florida people over in Thailand about this
time, weren't there?
F: Some had been in Burma, but at the time that we were in Thailand, outsiders were
not allowed to enter Burma. That was closed off shortly after our people were out there.
You remember Emma Davis?
F: And the Williamsons and the Edwards. Those are the three faculty couples that were
there. We went up one summer and spent about three months out there while Wayne
was president. It was a kind of leave-taking. Of course there were some University of
Florida people who came every once in awhile to Thailand. We have gone back; Wayne
has been back five times and I guess I have been back for about three or four different
periods to work there. This is since we have returned to Gainesville.
E: That was a very wonderful experience for you wasn't it?
F: Yes, it surely was. The foundation has been mighty good to us. Rockefeller, of
course, gave us that experience.
E: While you were there you took up painting again.
F: Yes, and my teacher was from Australia. She would come over and she was a
teacher out there. She was a very attractive woman and she would get commissions to
paint portraits in Thailand and Bangkok. So she would come out there for about six
E: Well, Frances, you were involved with organizing the Friends of Music. What is its
purpose here on the university campus?
F: When we returned we had to look for a place to live in Gainesville. We thought it
would be very easy to find someplace to buy but we could not find what we wanted so
we looked around in this neighborhood of Brywood. We decided this would be a very
lovely place and not too far from the University because after all, that is the reason we
came back, to continue our friendships and associations. We built this house and it just
so happened that Dr. Donald McLaughlin, who was chairman of the department of music
at that time, lived right down the street. He is now dean at the University of Missouri.
They knew I was interested in music and I did tell Dr. McLaughlin that anytime that I
could help him in any way to call on me because I knew a lot of musical people and he
had just been here about a year. He said that he was interested in perhaps getting a
group together. So, he invited me to lunch and we talked about organizing a group.
Then I talked with Wayne. He was at that time starting to go over to the University
Foundation and work with them in private funding. So I gave Don McLaughlin this list
and we set up a meeting in the Arredondo Room in the Union. This was about 1974.
Then when we began to go, we gathered the various people together who I thought
would be interested in such a thing and we had it all set up. In fact, we even had kind of
a board president and so forth. They did not know it yet because we had all of the
offices selected. We thought once you got people together they are enthusiastic and it is
too much trouble to get them a second time to elect people. So, we felt we would go
kind of slowly on this and there was a nice crowd. I had the list of the people who
assembled in the Arredondo Room that night. Steve Wilkerson, director of the
foundation, was there and he spoke and we told them the story of how we would like to
organize a group who could help in many ways to get money for scholarships for music
students. Well, we had a motion then that they organize this and we did not know what
we would call it. It was not called Friends of Music first, but it might have been patrons of
music, I do not know, but it soon changed. Harry Sisler became the first president.
E: Tell us about Harry Sisler, he had been dean of arts and sciences.
F: Yes, he was dean of arts and sciences.
E: And he writes poetry.
F: Yes, and he was studying violin too, I believe, at that time. We thought he had
leadership capabilities and that he would be good one. We have had some wonderful
presidents. You know we had Ambassador Roundtree, we had Charles Roth and
various ones. I was so thrilled that night because as I watched these people leave, you
could tell they were all talking together. They looked as though they were just going to
write out a check right then. Out of that group, and I think there were about thirty-five
there, I think that we got over $5,000 dollars. Wasn't that wonderful? It was exciting, but
a lot of work, I tell you it really was.
E: I can imagine. So each year you were able to give several scholarships.
F: Oh, yes. If we get $10,000 the University matches it; and if we get $16,000, they
match it, which is a great help. We now have some very good scholarships including the
Edith Pitts scholarship.
E: There is one in your honor.
F: Yes, there is one in my honor. Edith Pitts was originally the wonderful secretary of
President Tigert and then she was secretary to three congressmen--senators in
Washington, and then came back and was Dr. Miller's secretary. Wayne persuaded her
to stay two years. She was tired, she said she wanted to leave but she said she would
stay two years, which she did. She loved the students and the music and all. So when
she left I guess that between them they had enough money and Sadie was given quite a
bit. So the money for her scholarship is in her perpetuity. The one for me is for their first
graduate student. They did not have any, all of this was for undergraduates. The one in
my honor, I would not let them name for me because there was already the one in the
Women's Club. I felt sensitive about it and so this one, for me was given by the Del_ ,
our friends--Rita and John Del of Cocoa. We were very close friends of John's
parents and when we needed a piano for the Friends of Music room he gave that.
E: At what period was the auditorium renovated?
F: I think it was finished in about 1976 or 1977.
E: It has this beautiful little reception room on the second floor that is pretty big. Is it
furnished by the Friends of Music?
F: There was not state money to do that and so Ambassador Roundtree was president,
and he took us all up. We had heard that we could have a room. We first thought about
furnishing one of the little rooms down below, on either side. So we went to look at that
and then we climbed the ladder and went up and saw this big room which would be like
what they call the green room in most big auditoriums. They have a green room which is
a reception room. I do not know why it is termed the green room. But there was no
money and that was a huge place and it had to be beautiful. We all voted right then on
which we wanted, the little room or the big one. We all said we thought we should take
the large one. So Bill Roundtree had come here to retire from Brazil. He said alright
Frances, it is yours. Well, I tell you I did not get much sleep that night but he knew that
Wayne would help. Of course, I depended entirely on him. It took about two years to get
the money because we had to have it furnished. The building was finally ready. It was
there without anything in it for quite a little while; a few months I am sure. I wanted a
woman. If we could get a wealthy woman and have her give the money and have it
named in her honor. But we were not able to do that. Wayne was visiting downstate, he
had it in mind he would go see Jeff McNeil who had been head of Hanover Trust in New
York--they had come down to retire--to talk with him and ask him if he would not like to
give that room. He said, I tell you Wayne, I will give the first amount. If you divide it into
three I will give one third if you get the other two. So he was the first one to encourage
us. Then he went on to see Harvey Smith in Winter Haven, and he said he would give
the second third. Then he thought of Newt and he took him out playing golf and
approached him on that.
E: Now, Mr. Newton lives here in Gainesville?
E: And he is a retired engineer?
F: That is right. So those are the three, and Newton says that was the most expensive
golf game he has ever had. But he and Jackie gave the third. I asked if it would be
alright if we had Mr. be the decorator because I knew him well and I thought
he would. Wayne and I had already gone to talk with him to see how he felt about that
and about an approximate price. He said he had been the decorator for the president's
home so he said he would do it and really he gave us wonderful consideration on that.
E: Is he in Jacksonville?
F: Yes, and he has not done the president's house, but he did that and I am so thankful.
It had to be something elegant, I felt. We named it the Friends of Music Memorial Room
and their names are on plaques. The D gave the piano and their names are
on plaques in the room. It says there that this room is in memory of those who have
contributed to the cultural life of this University and those who have given, artists and so
forth. So it will never be named for anyone else, it is in memory.
E: Well, I think the auditorium is such a handsome and historic building. Do you know
when that auditorium was built?
F: I think it was finished in 1923.
E: When we came here in 1938 we were told that that building had never been finished
and eventually it was finished. Was that during Wayne's presidency?
F: No, he got the money for it but he was gone.
E: But it was finally finished in the 1970s.
F: Yes. It was completed probably in 1977 and you see, it was that wing that was added
in which the Friends of Music Room and the offices downstairs were located.
E: Right. Are the acoustics considered very good in that auditorium?
F: I think so. They have done all kinds of things to try to correct it. Although they have
been able to keep the gothic architecture.
E: The gothic architecture is so intriguing to people.
F: Artists who come here love it. I was speaking one time with Joe Hanson, a wonderful
artist. I saw him after the concert and I said I have always wanted to get an artist in
residence here in music. Really it is just terrible that we do not have one here as large
as we are. So, I said if we ever got the money for that, would you be interested in
coming back? He said yes, but if you change that auditorium I won't come back. That
was before it was renovated.
E: Well, tell us about the organ. Is it a new organ or a renovated old organ?
F: It's the original organ, although I am sure parts have been added to it. They took it
all apart and sent it north to a company during the renovation.
E: I think it is intriguing that the organ sits way up in the sky.
F: That is European.
E: It leaves all the space on stage for the orchestra.
F: That is right. They could not have extended the stage if they had not done it.
E: I think we are so fortunate in having all these musical events here.
F: I do, too. But you know Emily, we do need a very large auditorium because I think
that auditorium holds only about 876 people. That is just a small portion of the students
and you could not very well have a great orchestra come here, as much as they cost,
and have them perform and not all of the students could come.
E: The Kennedy Auditorium in Washington and the Lincoln Center Concert Hall, how
many people do they seat? 3,000?
F: I expect. Architects have told Wayne that for a fine auditorium which we just wanted
so much to build, 2,400 is about the best.
E: I do not think you can go over 3,000.
F: No, that is right. I think it is great that they really are even talking about having one.
E: There is a movement afoot. I hope that they will put it downtown.
F: I think what Marshall Criser hopes to do is to have a University Auditorium out there
or a big concert hall or an arts center. I am not real sure.
E: I know they are going to build an art gallery because we do contribute to that, but I
had not heard about the auditorium.
F: Wayne told me at first they were going to put the art gallery there on Thirteenth
Street. That has been changed. Now I think they want to have a whole performing arts
center out on Thirty-Fourth Street.
E: Because this University is fortunate in having a large acreage, so much larger than all
of the downtown universities.
F: You know why that is?
E: Because of the agricultural college.
F: That is right.
E: So we have been very lucky in that respect.
F: We certainly have. I think when we do that then we can have big, first-class
orchestras and fill the place. There is no reason why we could not.
E: Let's hope we live to see that day.
F: I hope so.
E: Well, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your doing this. As you know, you
will get the transcript back from the museum and you will have a chance to correct it or
change it in any way you want to. I hope Wayne will approve of what has been said.
F: Thank you very much. I have enjoyed talking with you.