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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Leona Bramblett Tate
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
April 28, 1986
P: I am with Mrs. Leona Tate this morning. This interview is part of our
University of Florida Oral History Program, and we are interviewing in the Ford
Library at the Florida State Museum. This is April 28, 1986. Mrs. Tate, thank
you very much for coming to the University of Florida. I appreciate your doing
that very much. Let me start out first of all by asking you to give me your full
T: My name is Leona Bramblett Tate.
P: Bramblett was your maiden name?
T: That was my maiden name.
P: Do you have any objections to telling us when and where you were born?
T: I was born April 12, 1889, in O'Fallon, Missouri.
P: Where is that?
T: O'Fallon is thirty miles west of St. Louis.
P: It sounds like it was named after some Irish settler.
P: So, you just celebrated an important birthday, haven't you?
T: That is correct. I was ninety-seven on the twelfth of April.
P: Congratulations. Mrs. Tate, you were educated where?
T: Well, I had my primary school education in a one-room school house, where
the six grades were taught. And then in a private Presbyterian day school. I
went to Columbia, Missouri, for my high school.
P: What was your father's work?
T: My father was a farmer.
P: What brought the family to Missouri? Were they early settlers?
T: Yes. My grandfather owned slaves.
P: So it was not your father who settled in Missouri, it was an earlier generation.
T: The generation previous.
P: I see. Where do you think the family came from?
T: My father's people came from Kentucky, and I was told that they were
distillers of bourbon. My mother's people came from Pennsylvania.
P: What is your earliest memory?
T: Well, I remember when Mr. McKinley [William McKinley, President of the
United States of America, (1897-1901) was assassinated.
P: That would have been the turn of the century.
T: Oh, that reminds me, I remember distinctly the turn of the century. My mother
insisted that we stay up to see the turn of the century because it would be unlikely
that any of us would see another. So we were kept up past our bedtime and I
was bored to pieces because I did not see that anything had happened.
P: But you do remember that?
T: I do distinctly remember that.
P: What about the circumstances of McKinley's assassination?
T: Oh, that it just created a great deal of awe, and consternation, that the
President of the United States could be killed by anyone.
P: Now, how long did you live in O'Fallon?
T: Until I went away to school. My home was there until I was married, but I was
not in my own home because I was away at school. Then I went into nurse's
P: I want you to tell me about the nurse's training since that will connect with
what we are interested in here. What took you in that direction?
T: Well, I did not want to become a teacher, and that was the thing that young
women were doing a great deal. I had two older sisters. One was a teacher of
music and the other taught at public school. I just did not fancy that, and there
were not too many things open for a young woman to do. I saw an
advertisement in the Ladies' Home Journal, picturing
nurses, and I thought that would be rather nice.
P: Where did you do your nurse's training?
T: I went to the teaching hospital of the University of Missouri, which is Parker
Memorial Hospital, which is the teaching hospital of the university.
P: When was that?
T: I graduated in 1911.
P: So you did your high school in Columbia and then you went into your nurse's
P: How long in those years was the nurse's training program?
T: Three years.
P: Tell me a little bit about it.
T: Well, it was very different from the modern training. We were nurses, not
administrators, and since it was a teaching program, we did not do the menial
work that many nurses did do at that time because we had orderlies and maids.
We were taught by the university professors. There was a medical school in
connection with the hospital so we really received quite adequate training
theoretically. Our nursing behavior was quite different. We were taught that we
had to be above criticism, we were never allowed to go in public in uniform, and it
was rather strict.
P: Was there an academic program also?
T: Just in connection with nurse's training.
P: Did this mean you had to take science courses?
T: Anatomy and physiology were the two subjects that I recall.
P: Did you receive a nursing degree?
T: From the university.
P: You graduated you said in 1911. Where did you live while you were in
T: In the dormitories at the hospital. We did twelve-hour duty.
P: Now once you got your degree, your certificate as a nurse, did this allow you
only to work in the state of Missouri?
T: No, you might be interested in knowing because recently I refreshed my mind
on this point. I was the 289th nurse registered in the state of Missouri.
P: Where did you then find employment?
T: Well, the summer following my graduation, I substituted at the hospital for
vacation, and I did some private duty. Sometime during that summer, Dr. Noyes,
who was the superintendent of the hospital, came to me and told me he had had
an inquiry from the University of Florida asking him to recommend someone to
set up an infirmary, and would I be interested. I told him, yes, I thought I would.
So the usual formalities were gone through, and they asked for pictures and
further records, and that is the way I became acquainted with the university.
P: You had never been to Florida.
T: Oh, I did not even know where Florida was.
P: Much less, Gainesville, Florida.
P: But what intrigued you about coming here? T: I think I had an itchy foot. I just
had the desire to go somewhere and see something different.
P: You said Dr. Noyes was the one who directed you to this employment
possibility. Do you remember Dr. Noyes first name?
T: No, I do not.
P: What did you say his position was at the hospital?
T: He was the administrator.
P: I see. An inquiry had come to him and then he solicited you to find out what
your interests would be.
P: And you indicated that you would. You are still a single woman at this point
are you not?
T: Oh, yes.
P: So at some time during that summer did you enter into direct negotiations with
people here at the university?
T: No, I think Dr. Noyestook care of all of that.
P: How much were they offering you in pay?
T: You will be amused. Fifty dollars a month.
P: Was that in addition to room and board?
P: They would provide that for you?
P: Did they tell you where you would be living?
T: I do not remember that I knew that before I came.
P: They were setting up an infirmary for the first time?
P: What did they tell you about the university?
T: I do not recall that I knew very much about it.
P: All right, when did you make the journey here?
T: Well, I left St. Louis. This is early in September of 1911, and I had a
T:Pullman as far as Jacksonville. In Jacksonville I changed trains.
P: Do you remember how long the trip was from St. Louis to Jacksonville?
T: Well, I arrived in Gainesville mid afternoon the following day.
P: Okay, so you left St. Louis the previous morning?
T: Night, it was overnight and then until mid afternoon the following day.
P: You got into Jacksonville, and you said you changed trains.
T: I changed trains and arrived in Gainesville on a very, warm, humid afternoon
on a wood-burning locomotive. The train was pulled by a
P: What was that date again?
T: That was early September, the exact date I do not
that I was wearing a dark wool dress and a felt hat.
P: Do you remember who met you at the train?
T: Dr. Flint [Edward R. Flint, Professor of Chemistry
the University, University of Florida, (1906-1917)].
remember. I do remember
and Resident Physician to
P: Who was Dr. Edward Flint?
T: I think he was professor of chemistry and physics, and he had been asked by,
I assume, the board of the university to provide some kind of an infirmary for the
P: Now, he was the university physician?
P: Describe Dr. Flint?
T: He was a native of Massachusetts. He was very well educated, a graduate of
Harvard and had studied at Heidelberg. He disliked northern winters and came
south evidently. I think the new university was also interesting to him, and that I
remember quite well.
P: What did he look like?
T: Very fine looking man. I have a picture of him.
P: So he met you at the train.
T: Yes, and we took a hack out to the university.
P: The train came in where, do you remember that?
T: Well, in the middle of the little town of Gainesville.
P: It came right down Main Street didn't it? You got out right where our bank
building is now, just one block from University Avenue. What was your first
impression of Gainesville as you were riding out to the university?
T: Well, I was tired and I think I was a little discouraged.
P: You were hot, too.
T: I was very hot with that wool dress and the sun seemed very bright. I was
taken up to my quarters and deposited. When I left St. Louis the young man to
whom I was engaged, and later married, had given me a box of candy. I do not
remember anything about an evening meal or anything else except that I put my
belongings on the table including the box of candy and the next morning when I
got up it was covered with ants.
P: There went your fiance's gift.
T: Yes, and added to my discouragement.
P: Where were these quarters that Dr. Flint took you?
T: Well, it was on the top floor, and I think it was known as Thomas Hall.
Students occupied the first floor, the matron of the dining room occupied the
second floor with her three sons, and I had the top floor, which was divided in two
sections. One side was my living quarters and the other side was the infirmary.
P: Who was the matron?
T: Mrs. Swanson [Mrs. S.J. Swanson, Matron, University of Florida,
P: Describe your living quarters.
T: Very bare, just the very necessities, a bed, a couple of chairs, and a table.
P: Was it a one-room apartment?
T: One big room.
P: And a bathroom?
T: A bathroom in the hallway between the the infirmary and my living quarters.
P: Now the infirmary was not yet set up?
T: Oh, it had the beds and the tables.
P: Were there any student patients there when you arrived?
T: Oh no, it was just as the students were coming in.
P: Now the school had been under way since 1906, so it was already five years
old. Where had students been treated up until then?
T: I do not know.
P: But you were the first resident nurse.
T: According to my information.
P: Tell me what your procedure was. You worked for Dr. Flint, when students
got sick, they came to the infirmary, now you tell me how the procedure went
from that point.
T: Well, they were an amazing, healthy lot of students because I had very little to
do. As I recall, it was mostly dispensing aspirin and medication for hookworm,
mostly for hookworm. And they would come, present themselves with a slip of
paper from Dr. Flint, and I dispensed these medications. I think I bandaged a few
fingers, but there was very, very little illness.
P: Why hookworm?
T: Well, it was just quite prevelant. Many of those boys had it.
P: I thought hookworm was something that many people caught because they
T: Well, that is true.
P: But this would not have been true of the students.
T: Well, this was quite a rural section. I think they had all gone barefoot. I do not
have any doubt about that.
P: So they came to school with this disease, not necessarily something that they
picked up after they were here.
T: Oh no, they came with it, I am sure.
P: Where did you keep your medications?
T: We had a little medicine chest in the infirmary.
P: Where did the drugs come from?
T: I have no idea.
P: These were things ordered by Dr. Flint and delivered to you?
T: Yes. I had my own hypordermic needle, I brought that with me. There was
the thermometer, that was about it.
P: That was about the extent of the equipment?
T: Yes. P: Did you have patients that spent the night there?
T: Very few, very rarely.
P: During the short time that you were there, there were no epidemics, no flu
T: No, later in the year we had one student who was ill, and after having bed rest
for several days, his parents were sent for. They decided that he should go to a
hospital. So he was put on a cot, not the fancy cots we have now, but one of the
old fashioned kind, wire suspended, and I went with him. We rode in the
baggage car from Gainesville to Jacksonville, where he was put in the hospital.
P: There was no hospital in Gainesville at the time?
P: Do you know where the people in Gainesville were treated if they got sick?
P: Neither blacks nor whites had their own hospital at the time?
T: Not to my knowledge.
P: Who cleaned up the infirmary? And your apartment?
T: I cleaned my own apartment. But I do not recall ever cleaning the infirmary.
P: There probably were maids on the campus even then.
T: I do not recall.
P: Where did you take your food?
T: In the dining room with the students. Mrs. Swanson, the matron, and her
three sons had a table over in one corner and I was included at that table.
P: And that included breakfast, lunch and dinner?
P: How was the food?
T: Must I say?
P: (laughter) It was good. Tell me about Mrs. Swanson. Do you remember her?
T: I remember her quite well. Well, she was in charge of the kitchen and the
dining room. Now she had other duties, but I am not aware of them. I had a
feeling that she did not like me because I was a Northern adventurer. However,
she was always kind to me and we were polite. She only talked to me one time
when I took a walk out in the woods alone, and she thought that was very
improper and told me so.
P: What did the campus look like in 1911?
T: Well, I had not ever seen pine trees. Those tall, tall pine trees were very
impressive. It was not landscaped and it was very bare. It was kind of a desolate
P: How far were you from town?
T: About a mile.
P: How did you get into town?
T: I walked back and forth, often.
P: You often went into town?
T: I did.
T: To have something to do. Dr. Flint brought me books from the library, and I
read quite a bit and I wrote a lot of letters. I wrote to my family and my boyfriend.
P: How did you get mail?
T: One of the students had a motorcycle and he, for a fee went to the post office
every day and delivered mail and picked up our mail and delivered it to us.
P: What was your social life like?
T: Nil, very low social life.
P: Were you invited to the Flints?
T: Well, Dr. Flint did not have a family. His family was back in Massachusetts.
P: So he was a bachelor living here. How about the Murphrees?
T: I met Dr. Murphree [Albert A. Murphree, President, University of Florida,
(1909-1927)] but that was all.
P: Do you remember Dr. Crow [C. L. Crow, Professor of Modern Languages and
Secretary of the General Faculty, University of Florida, (1906-1942)]?
T: I do and that name had escaped me, but I do. I also remember some
instructor, and I think it was the engineering department, I have tried to think of
P: Dr. Harvey Cox [Harvey W. Cox, Professor of Philosophy and Education,
University of Florida, (1906-1921)].
T: Yes, I remember that name. But the name I am trying to remember was either
Stuart or some name similar. I have a picture of his wife, well, I have a picture of
him, a Kodak picture.
P: Well, we can easily find that because we have all of the old catalogues that list
the names. Were you friendly with any particular family?
T: Well, there was a man and his wife by the name of Schnabel [John Schnabel,
Assistant Horticulturalist, University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
(1909-1915)] who occupied a cottage on what was the lower part of
the campus then. Dr. Flint roomed with them and took his meals. I became
acquainted with Mrs. Schnabel, who was a kind, middle-aged German woman. I
frequently was invited there for either Saturday night supper or Sunday morning
breakfast. On my way from my residence to the Schnabel home, I went by a
sinkhole and there was an alligator in the sinkhole. I recall quite vividly one
Sunday morning when I was going down for breakfast, I wandered around and
found a few wild blackberry bushes and that delighted me. I was trying to get my
morning fruit, and I saw what I described when I got to the Schnabel home, which
they told me was this deadly snake that has beautiful markings on its body.
P: Coral snake.
T: Coral snake.
P: Do you remember the work that Mr. Schnabel did on campus?
T: Supervising the work at the experiment station.
P: You will be interested in knowing that that sinkhole is still in existence on
campus right outside of our present architecture building, and the Schnabel
house was next door to it and it was only demolished about six or eight years
T: That is interesting.
P: It was a little one story cottage.
T: I have a picture of that.
P: Yes, I remember that building on campus. It survived into the 1970s, and it
had been built originally to take care of the people who were in charge of the
farms and the experiment station activities which were very near by. Now, did the
students ever bother you, their noise on the first floor?
T: No, I was very well-treated and the only conversations that I had were brief as
I came and went from the building. I did not date any of the students but there
were two of them, and there is only one name that I recall, and his name was
Borden. Young Mr. Borden frequently walked me home from church on Sunday
P: What church did you attend?
P: And it was downtown?
P: So, you got downtown by walking to church?
P: The Methodist church was then on Northeast First Street I believe, across
from the old White House Hotel. Do you remember the White House Hotel?
P: A big one story, white painted wooden building, and the church obviously is
still there today and is still a functioning operation. So you walked that distance,
which was quite a distance. Did many of the students go to church?
T: I think so.
P: Do you recall the minister?
P: That was your Sunday activity then, going to church.
the part of the university for you to be a regular church
Was there any urging on
Dr. Murphree was a very religious man and wanted his
church oriented as much as possible. What did you do
faculty, of course, to
for recreation? You
T: I walked, I read, and I wrote letters.
P: But you were not involved, you did not play tennis or do any of those things?
T: There was not anything of that kind.
P: There were no facilities available?
P: What did the students do for recreation?
T: Well, of course you know there was a football team and during the fall months
we often went out to watch them practice, I remember doing that, but very
P: How many students were on campus? T: I wish I knew. But I am persuaded
it was perhaps 250.
P: Probably not very many more than that. It was a very small school.
T: That would be my estimate.
P: Other than Dr. Flint and Mr. Schnabel, did you have any contact with any of
T: This couple that I am trying to remember the name in engineering school.
P: Did any other faculty live either in Thomas Hall or Buckman Hall?
T: No, not to my knowledge.
P: The president had already moved out and was living in his own home?
P: At any time that you were here did the president, Dr. Murphree, ever have a
reception for the faculty?
T: I do not recall.
P: How long did you stay in Gainesville?
T: Until the end of the year.
P: That meant until the following June of 1912?
P: So you were here about ten months. Why did you leave?
T: The school year was finished. I had come for the school year.
P: Only for one year?
T: That is right.
P: Did they encourage you to stay on?
P: Was there a replacement for you?
T: I do not think so.
P: You did get, in addition to your fifty dollars, you got room and board?
P: So your fifty dollars was free and clear for you. Was that considered a fair
wage at the time?
T: I think so.
P: What did you do with your money?
T: Well, I went home and got married.
P: What about uniforms?
T: I had my own.
P: So the school did not have to supply any of those.
T: No, I had my own.
P: They took care of things like bedding and linens and so on?
P: So you had no expenditures here in Gainesville for anything very much.
T: Very little.
P: This was before the day of movie theatres and any of that kind of activity.
T: Dr. Flint did take me to, was it a nickelodeon? Could it have been a
T: He also took me to a black church, to hear the spirituals.
P: Did you get a chance to see any more of Florida?
T: Well, there were a few automobiles, I only remember two. I did become
friendly with a Miss Scarriet who was the stepdaughter of the owner of the
Wilson dry goods store. I do not recall her first name. We did not use first names
then. We used only the Miss Scarriet. I do remember that we went out in that
automobile because there were some of the students that she knew that could
drive, and we went outside of Gainesville, not very far, just a short distance, and I
do recall that we got bogged down in sand. It was always an expedition.
P: Do you remember Dr. Farr, James Farr? [James Marion Farr, Vice President,
University of Florida, (1906-1934)]
T: Yes, I recall that name.
P: He was the vice-president of the university and taught English.
T: I remember that name.
P: But you did not know either Dr. or Mrs. Farr?
T: I think possibly I did meet them. P: Now in addition to Thomas Hall, the other
large building on campus was Buckman. What was that building used for?
T: I do not know.
P: And there was the eating facility. Do you remember what they called it?
T: No, I do not.
P: The commons. You know all of those buildings are still in existence today.
T: Well, I think so, yes.
P: Yes, they are. The commons is still an eating facility on campus.
T: Oh, is it?
P: Yes, and the students still use it. Now they call it the Rathskeller. Now, when
you ate there was it a dining room or a cafeteria?
T: Dining room.
P: It later became a cafeteria. But the building is right there, some time you
ought to go in and see where you sat at that table. I suspect your apartment is
still there too, because Thomas Hall is still available.
T: Well, friends have driven me past and it looks familiar.
P: It looked familiar to you?
T: It did.
P: Now, do you remember other buildings on campus?
T: I have pictures of several.
P: There was a lot of construction going on when you were here in 1911 and
1912, there were a lot of buildings, Peabody Hall and Floyd Hall and what they
then called Language Hall were going up. Do you remember any of that?
T: Not very distinctly.
P: Were the streets paved on campus?
T: Oh, no.
P: Everything was sand.
T: Oh, yes.
P: Any sidewalks?
T: There was a sidewalk downtown, but not on the campus.
P: How about the road from the campus to town?
T: It was unpaved.
P: That was called University Avenue by that time?
P: Was there a path or a sidewalk to take as you walked?
T: Yes, and I think that was paved, most of the way paved.
P: Were there houses along the way?
T: There were, and as I recall a number of the university people lived in those
two story frame houses.
P: Anything large and pretentious?
T: No. I think not.
P: Any orange groves, do you remember?
T: That was one of the disappointments that I had. When I left Missouri, of
course, after I agreed to come I did try to find out something about Florida. I
knew there had been some development here and I knew that citrus fruit was
growing here and I was so disappointed I did not see an orange grove.
P: Did you get fresh fruit?
T: As I told you, my father was a farmer and we had an orchard and we had a
variety of fruit, peaches, plumbs, apples, and I was really and truly very hungry
for fruit. I must have written a pathetic letter home and he shipped me a barrel of
P: So you had all of those you needed. Probably more than you needed.
T: And I divided it with others.
P: But no citrus fruit?
T: I do not remember having one orange while I was here.
P: Can you remember the kinds of food that they served in the dining room in
terms of the vegetables and so on?
P: Grits. A lot of starch.
T: I never had seen grits until I came.
P: How did you take to grits, Mrs. Tate?
T: I learned to like them very much.
P: There were vegetable gardens on the campus, were there not?
T: Well, in connection with the experiment farm, and the Schnabels had a little
P: What about the weather the year you were here?
T: I remember the afternoon rains very definitely, the suddeness that they would
come. I would be on my way, walking to the town of Gainesville or coming home,
and just become drenched with rain when minutes before the sun had been
shining. I had never been accustomed to that and that made an impression. I
know that we needed some heat during the winter and there was a little stove put
up in my apartment.
P: A wood stove?
P: Who supplied the wood?
T: I went down in the vacant lot and picked up the wood.
P: I thought maybe you had a student bring it up to you on the third floor. That
was a long haul up there that third floor, wasn't it?
T: I was young.
P: The bathroom was in the hall, so you did not get very much privacy there. Did
you have anyone assisting you in the infirmary?
P: You took care of everything yourself. The time that you took the student over
to Jacksonville on the train, you came back, obviously you turned around and
came right on back.
T: Correct, I just deposited him. I guess I had made some inquiry about the
return and it was very uneventful apparently, since I do not remember too much
P: Did you have a chance to see any of Jacksonville?
T: No, very little. As I recall I had conveyance to the railroad station.
P: Do you recall across from the campus between Buckman and Thomas Halls,
directly across from the campus, a little eating facility and a post office?
T: No, I do not think there was a post office there. Why would we be sending our
mail by the student on the motorcycle?
P: Do you remember the eating facility there?
T: No, I do not.
P: A little stone building, a very small building.
T: It could have been there but I do not recall.
P: Also, try to recall this, you remember where the commons was, where the
dining room was, it was outside of the two buildings, the two main buildings, if you
went out of the commons and you went in a southeasterly direction as though you
were going to the Schnabels, do you remember a small wooden building or a low
one story building that was used for the storage of machinery and that sort of
T: No, I do not.
P: That was the original building on campus that was constructed to house the
farm equipment that was brought over from Lake City, and it also survived until
the 1970s, and I wondered if you would recall what it looked like.
T: No, I do not.
P: There were other sinkholes on the campus, do you remember where they
T: No, I do not.
P: What else do you recall of the campus at that time?
T: With reference to what?
P: Well, just the general looks of it, buildings.
T: The buildings all seemed new because I had come from the University of
Missouri where the buildings were older and covered with ivy, and these bare
buildings did have a new appearance.
P: Of course, they were new.
T: Yes, and the lack of shrubbery and grass.
P: Were there required chapel services for the students?
T: I think so, but I never attended.
P: You did not have to bother with that. The students had to go to chapel at least
twice a week.
T: I think so.
P: And scripture reading and prayer were part of that.
T: I think so.
P: What about musical things on campus, was there not a glee club?
T: They tried to organize one after Christmas. P: Did you attend any of the
music things on campus?
P: Was there a theatrical group to your knowledge, students, players?
T: Not to my knowledge.
P: Students played football, some basketball probably.
T: I only remember football.
P: Were the woods close up, too?
P: So if the students wanted to go hunting and fishing they could without too
much difficulty. Probably just walk out of the building and there they were. The
woods were right across from where Thomas Hall is now.
P: Did you enjoy your year here in Gainesville?
T: I was not unhappy.
P: I understand that you made a very nice trip, Mrs. Tate, while you were in
Gainesville. In fact, you went to Cuba. Tell me about that.
T: Yes. At Christmas time, I considered it too expensive to go home for
Chirstmas, and I think it was Dr. Flint who suggested that it would be an easy trip
to go to Cuba. So it was arranged that Mrs. Schnabel, Miss Scarriett, Dr. Flint,
and I would take the train to Tampa and get shipped to Cuba for the Christmas
vacation and we did. So that was quite an adventure. We spent a week or ten
days not only in Havana, but we went to the southern part of the island, saw the
sugar cane fields, the natives, and returned the same way we had gone.
P: You stayed in a hotel.
T: We stayed in a hotel. Well, it was a Christmas unlike any I had ever
experienced. It was a fiesta, and of course, there were no Christmas trees or
Christmas music. It was a foreign country to me. I think I was just in a state of
wonderment the whole time I was there. The language was entirely different from
anything that I had experienced before. But it was successful, we came back the
same way that we had gone down. Incidentally, you remember the sinking of the
Maine. I saw a portion of it submerged there in the bay and afterwards I saw that
very same portion on exhibit in an exhibition in the Smithsonian in Washington,
P: Was that your first sea voyage?
T: That was my first sea voyage.
P: You did well? T: Oh yes, quite well.
P: No sea sickness?
P: You traveled by train, I think you said, from here to Tampa.
P: And took passage out. So that was an exciting time.
T: It was.
P: Did you take pictures of things you saw in Cuba?
T: On board the ship, I have a number of pictures of that. I do not remember too
much about taking pictures in Cuba, but I do have a number on board the steam
P: Are you a camera buff?
T: No, I am not.
P: You took very excellent pictures on campus.
T: And I am most amazed.
P: Whose camera did you use?
T: My intended husband.
P: You obviously had them developed
somewhere in the Gainesville area.
P: Did you do your shopping for clothes and other supplies in downtown
T: I did not need very much. What little I did was at the Wilson Department
Store, and I did have time and I did make some garments by hand.
P: Do you remember what downtown Gainesville looked like around the
T: Yes, but not anything very outstanding.
P: Go back into your memory and tell us what it was like.
T: Framed buildings, one and two story. Just a country town.
T: Unpaved streets, horse-drawn carriages, buggies.
P: How did you, as a Northerner, get along with all these Southern country folk?
T: I cannot answer that. I do not know.
P: Were people friendly?
T: I did not think that they showed the Southern hospitality that they might have.
When I tell you that Miss Scarriett was really the only person that I made friends
with, you can see my acquaintances were quite limited.
P: How did you meet her?
T: I think at church. Although I do not remember any social life connected with
P: No socials at all for young folks?
P: Did you have any special friends among the students?
T: No, just a casual acquaintence.
P: So you led a rather lonely life here.
T: It was.
P: Except for Dr. Flint and the Schnabels?
T: Exactly. I am very glad that I liked to read.
P: So you left the following June of 1912. And where did you then go?
T: I went to my home in O'Fallon, Missouri, and attended my fiance's graduation
from the University of Missouri. He graduated as an electrical engineer in June.
P: What was his name?
T: Thomas R. Tate.
P: Where was he from?
T: He was born in El Dorado Springs, Missouri, and his father was a Baptist
P: Where did you two meet?
T: At the university.
P: As students. When were you married?
T: In July of 1912.
P: So the month after you left Gainesville you were at his commencement and
then the wedding was shortly afterwards?
T: Within a month.
P: Tell me about your life after that.
T: Oh, it has been very exciting. I have been very fortunate. His first job out of
school was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So that was a transition to go a very brief
time from Florida to living in Wisconsin. He was employed there with the
Milwaukee Electrical Railway and Light System, and from there we went to
Chicago. We were advancing during all of that time. We went to New York and
we were there for a long period of time, we were consulting engineers. Then, the
Depression overtook us.
P: The thirties.
T: Our home was in a suburb of New York, Westfield, New Jersey. During the
meantime, we had had four children. Our eldest was a daughter, and she was a
freshman at the University of Wisconsin the year of the Depression. So that was
quite a difficult time to be able to finance her in school. Of course, the
unemployment became prevelant and my husband, we will call him Tom, finally
after a brief time of being unemployed, went to Washington, D.C., where he
worked for the Federal Government for the next sixteen years.
P: You lived in Washington?
T: Yes, we moved from Westfield, New Jersey. It is interesting to know that the
year that my daughter Jean was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, my
youngest child, Robert, was in kindergarten. So we went to Washington where
we lived for sixteen years, and we had the Second World War. We had
experienced the First World War when we were living in New Jersey. Then, as I
say, we lived in Washington, D.C. I had two boys in the service. At this time my
daughter was married and no longer at home, but I had two boys who were in the
service, both in the air force. My youngest son was a student at military school in
Virginia, Fishburn Military School. I became very anxious about these boys in
school, and I decided that I should do something in the way of the war effort. So I
inquired about how I could go back to nursing, because in the meantime my
registration had lapsed.
P: After you left Florida you did not continue your nursing?
T: No, women did not work after they were married in that time. You just made
do with your husband's salary. It might be interesting to you to know that when
we were married my husband's salary was seventy dollars a month.
P: Well, he was doing better than you at fifty dollars a month.
T: Quite true. (laughter)
P: And you got room and board.
T: So I really was better paid, wasn't I?
P: That is right. You were more highly paid, so you should have kept on working
and he could have just sat back. Mrs. Tate, you had to count everything.
T: Well, that is very true. I agree with you. Well, while the boys were away in
training, I inquired about how I could go back to nursing, and I found out that I
would have to take a refresher course. I had never had a formal course in
pediatrics, so I thought the best thing to do was to take that course in pediatrics.
So I went to the children's hospital and just asked them if they could use me for a
volunteer because I was going to try to see if I should work for my registration or
not. But nurses were in great demand at that time, and they were very happy to
have me as a volunteer. I continued, and I was able to get my registration back
and I worked then for the next seven years.
P: In Washington.
T: In Washington. During the meantime, my husband's work was changed from
the federal government to a private engineering firm in Boston, Charles T.
Maine, consulting engineers. We decided to sell our home in Washington. At
this time my children were married, the two boys had married at the time they
were dismissed from the service. My youngest son was still in school, he later
became a paratrooper. We moved to Boston from Washington, and at the end of
a short period my husband was asked if he would consider an assignment with
the Marshall Plan to bring electricity to the country of Turkey. He came home one
night and told me that the president of Charles T. Maine had said, "How would
you like to go to Turkey on an assignment?" He said, "I would not, but Mrs. Tate
would." So after a due time we were sent to Turkey, and we lived there for three
years and came home because of his ill health. We came home the end of
November 1954 and he died in February of 1955.
P: So he was already sick when he returned?
P: Did you like living in Turkey ?
T: It was very primitive and a great physical hardship, but it was very rich in
history, and it is a beautiful country and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We spent one
vacation just seeing Turkey, and then we spent another vacation in India. The
third vacation we spent on our way home in Spain. So it was very rewarding,
and I can say unreservedly the happiest life, the three years of my married life.
P: So your husband died in February of 1955, and you have returned to the
United States, returned to where?
T: Well, we came back to Boston, and it is interesting to know that Mr. Ewell, the
president of Chares T. Maine, said you have had a rough three years, take
another month's vacation and go down South to see your children. So we first
stopped off in Washington where my daughter and my youngest son were living
and visited them, and then we came to Knoxville, Tennessee, where our son was
employed, and then on to Tampa, Florida, where our eldest son was. He thought
it would be very wise, since my husband was of retirement age, that we had not
owned a home since we left Washington, D.C. He persuaded us that we should
buy a home for our retirement and just sort of play it by ear until my husband was
ready to truly retire. All our plans were made to return to Boston January 1,1955,
but we did buy a home on Davis Island, on the third island in Tampa. My
husband was planning to go back to Boston the first of January, and he already
had an assignment to go to Texas on a consulting job, when he just came out
one morning, perhaps a week or so before we were due to leave for Boston, and
he said I have just written for an extended leave, sick leave, I do not feel able to
work. So we never did go back to Boston.
P: What brought your son to Tampa?
T: He was a salesman for Alco and this was his territory.
P: So, after your husband died you moved to Florida?
T: Well, we were still here, you see. We had bought the little house over on
Davis Island and we had gone into it. We had our household furnishings in
storage in Boston and they had just been put into the house.
P: Have you continued to live there since?
P: I wanted to ask you, Mrs. Tate, if you ever maintained any relationship with
people in Gainesville after you left the university that year.
T: I corresponded with Mrs. Schnabel.
P: Well, how about Dr. Flint?
T: Well, that is a strange story. While we were living in Westfield my husband
was commuting to New York City. We owned a little home about a mile from the
railroad station. I had four children at that time, of course, my daughter was older.
I was sitting in a little room, we called it the sun parlor in the front of the living
room. You would call it a Florida room. It was in the middle of the day, early
afternoon, and I noticed a gentleman walking down the street, and I thought that
looks like Dr. Flint but it cannot be. He continued to walk past the house, and
apparently he walked about a block and turned around and came in and it was
Dr. Flint. But anyway, he was on his way to Rutgers College, which is at New
Brunswick, New Jersey, and he had stopped by to renew my acquaintence.
P: He knew your married name then.
P: So you had a little visit with him.
T: Oh yes. We had an automobile, and I drove him back to the station. He
possibly spent a couple of hours with me. P: Did you correspond with him? Do
you have any of his letters?
P: Do you have any of the correspondence with people in Gainesville, Miss
Scarriett or any of those people?
P: Did you maintain a relationship with her?
T: No, I do not think so.
P: So once you left Gainesville, except for Mr. Flint and Mrs. Schnabel.
T: That is right.
P: What happened to the Schnabels?
T: I did correspond with them for a long time, but remember I was involved. My
husband was going forward rather fast, rapidly, and I was involved with my home
life, my babies and changing residence. I was a very busy person.
P: Are you still living in your Tampa home?
T: I am in an apartment now. The time came when it was unwise for me to
continue driving, I moved into an apartment.
P: Where are your children?
T: My eldest son is in Tampa, that is Thomas R.K. Jr. My daughter is retired
from the federal government and lives in Rockville, Maryland. David, the middle
son, is working for the same firm that his father's first job was at in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. He has been project manager on a number of nuclear power plants.
P: That leaves one more child.
T: He is in Camp Nills, Maryland.
P: You must have a lot of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
T: I have thirteen grandchildren, and at the last count I had seventeen
P: You will probably get some great-great-grandchildren.
T: There are some old enough.
P: Before you know it you will be.
T: God has been very good to me.
P: How do you attest to all of this longevity and being in such good health and
with such a clear mind? T: Oh, I am often asked that. I think hard work,
exercise, plain food and the fear of God.
P: You have seen lots of changes in your lifetime Mrs. Tate, from 1889 to 1986,
are you fearful of the future?
P: Do you think all of these changes have been for the good?
T: Unfortunately, that is a hard question to answer. I am very unhappy with the
present disregard of law and order. The distressing condition of our young
people. It disturbs me very much that a man's word is no longer his bond, that a
handshake does not mean anything. I am distressed at the lawlessness, the
abuse of liquor, drugs, human life.
P: Were you able to continue with your nursing at all after that seven years you
T: You never give up nursing, you nurse all of your life. It is passed on to your
children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, your friends, it is a
P: What else do you think we ought to say on this taped interview?
T: Oh, I think it is far too long now.
P: Oh, no it has been interesting, very interesting. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I
was just wondering if you had any other memories that you thought you ought to
T: Well, they would all be too personal. No, I think not.
P: What areas of the world have you visited, Mrs. Tate? Everywhere?
T: I have never been to Russia, I have never been to China.
P: But you have been all over the west of Europe?
T: Pretty much. I made three trips around the world. Two of them on cargo
P: You are an independent lady. What is your favorite part of the world?
T: To live? I would not live anywhere, if I had my choice, but the United States of
America. But if I felt it necessary to make a change, I would prefer Spain from
what I have been able to observe.
P: Have you been back there many times?
T: I have been in Spain three different times.
P: And you have always enjoyed it?
T: I enjoyed it. The people are kind, warm, hospitable, and that of course T:had
changed perhaps, but it is a beautiful country and I have liked it. In traveling, I
think you must like the people in order to like the place, and I have liked the
P: How do you fill your time now?
T: I am very busy.
P: Are you able to read at all?
T: No, very little. I have talking books from the library and they are a great
comfort. I am active in my church. It might interest you to know that there is an
international Bible study group known as Bible Study Fellowship. It was formed
by and Englishwoman who had been a missionary to China, and it is a thorough
study of the Bible. She has five books of the Bible that she has selected to make
an in-depth study of, and I have completed that. I did that two years ago.
P: So it sounds like you do stay very busy.
T: I am busy.
P: That is wonderful, that is the reason that you are able to stay as young as you
T: It has helped.
P: Well Mrs. Tate, I want to thank you, this has been a very, very nice experience
for me. I think we have gathered some important information about the early
history of the university which is not otherwise available, obviously, and I am
grateful to you.
T: You are welcome, it has been my pleasure.
P: It has been really a nice experience for me.
T: Thank you. I have enjoyed it, too.