This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
P: [This is Sam Proctor, and I am conducting] an oral history interview with Dr. Frederick
W. Conner who has had a long association with the University of Florida, both as a
member of the faculty and as an administrator at this institution. We are at the
Florida Museum of Natural History in the Ford Library. Today is October 3, 1989.
Fred, I want to start off first of all by asking you to give me your full name.
C: Frederick William Conner.
P: And you were born when?
C: May 16, 1909.
C: Rochester, New York.
P: Had your family lived in Rochester a long time?
C: Yes. My father was a doctor, and both my mother and father were from southern New
Jersey, but my father interned in Rochester and settled there and remained there for
the rest of his life.
P: What was your father's name?
C: William Borden Conner.
P: Not related to the milk [company]?
C: [No, but] I wish he were.
P: What about your mother? What was her name?
C: Serene Madeira. I am not sure how Madeira is spelled, but my theory is that some
romantic in the family was [named] after the Madeira Islands, but I never knew.
P: And what was her maiden name?
P: Are you an only child, or are there brothers and sisters?
C: I had one brother and one sister.
P: What were their names?
C: My brother was older. His name was James Frederick. My sister is younger, and her
name is Jean Elizabeth. Whipple is her married name.
P: And you grew up in Rochester?
P: You went to elementary and secondary schools there?
C: And the University of Rochester.
P: When were you graduated from high school?
P: And you went immediately to the University of Rochester for your undergraduate work?
C: That is right.
P: What was your major?
P: You started right out in that direction, why?
C: I liked to read books. Later on I was delighted to find that I could get paid to read the
books that I intended to read anyhow.
P: You were an early reader?
C: Yes. My brother taught me to read before I went to school.
P: Did you grow up in a household which encouraged education?
C: Yes. My father especially--though he felt, I think, that his own was deficient (most of us
do)--encouraged me. In retrospect, he was amazingly generous and kind. If I
wanted to buy a book, I could charge it to him; it was all right with him. I started to
collect books at an early age as a result. So, yes, there was a lot of
P: What area of English were you working in as an undergraduate?
C: I do not know that I can say any in particular, but I have always been interested in
American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. I think that is where I started.
P: Fred, was there anything especially that happened to you when you were an
undergraduate at Rochester that encouraged you to go on and do graduate work?
C: No. It really would probably be a little of the opposite. I wasted more time during my
undergraduate years in college than I ever did before or since. I had a ball! This
was in the 1920s, and you were not supposed to be serious in the 1920s. I had no
very great ambition at all. As a matter of fact, when I went away to graduate school,
I started out at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to get a M.B.A.
and continued to lead a lively life. But I made up my mind that this was not for me; I
would rather be poor than do this. So I switched to English. One thing that may
have had an influence was that
but was pre-med [at Penn], had
pretty good teachers at the time.
couple of his English lectures. I
me off in that direction.
my brother, although he was not an English major
taken a number of English courses and had some
When I went to visit him one time, he took me to a
was just amazed at the quality of them, so that set
P: What kind of student were you as an undergraduate?
P: Bad grades?
C: Mediocre grades.
P: Were you involved in a fraternity?
C: Yes. Delta Kappa Epsilon. The same as [George Bush and] Gerald Ford and Dan
P: Were you the traditional fraternity playboy?
C: I was.
P: Lots of partying and lots of having a good time?
C: Oh, my.
P: Were you involved in sports?
C: No. Of course, I played golf all my life. I was involved in the managerial sense; I was
manager of one of the teams when I was in high school, but that is all. I did not
have any athletic ability. I still do not.
P: The decision to go to the University of Pennsylvania was because your brother was
C: Yes. My father had gotten his M.D. there, my parents were from southern New Jersey,
it was in that area, and my brother had gone there.
P: So your original decision was to take your English major and go into business and work
on an MBA at Wharton, and you decided, as you said, that that was not the life for
C: Yes. I wish I had learned more. It would have helped me as an administrator.
P: And then you switched into the graduate program and their College of Arts and
Sciences, or whatever it was. You stayed at Penn for how long?
C: I was there for an additional three years and had gotten my masters degree in 1934.
Then it was quite a long time after that before I got my Ph.D. My dissertation was
long, long, long. It was about that thick. It was 1944 before I got that, because I
had started to work and gotten married.
P: What did you do your master's thesis on?
C: The reception of the idea of evolution by American poets.
P: Was that a particularly new concept?
C: Well, it was new enough that the head man would have rather that I did not. He would
have rather that I had taken some corner of something that he was interested in.
But I was interested in this, so he let me do it under the direction of one of the
younger members in the department--from whom I got very little direction, I thought.
But I am glad that I did it because it formed the central interest that I have had ever
since in the history of ideas.
P: Did anybody, any person on the faculty in your graduate program, have any particular
influence on you or play any special role in your life?
C: No. Some of them--one in particular--were very good teachers. Let me speak of the
one that I singled out. He was not in my field. It was Albert C. Baugh who was a
medievalist really. He taught an introductory course in research. They had two of
them: one a great big one for most people, and somehow or another they selected
a smaller group to work with Baugh. I was lucky enough to be in it. He did this: he
gave each one of us a minor eighteenth century figure who was in the DNB
[Dictionary of National Biography] and said, "Now, you go to the DNB, and your job
is to add something to what is already there." Well, what it meant was that he then
turned us loose with all the tools you would use to try to discover some biographical
and literary fact. I learned a tremendous amount from that. It was great fun. He
was a nice guy.
P: Had you turned your back on your sinful dissolute?
C: I got married. That helps.
P: You got married after you got your degree?
C: No. I got married in 1935.
P: And you got your degree, according to your record, in 1934.
C: That was just a master's.
P: I am talking about the master's degree.
P: So during your master's program I am asking you if you were a serious, dedicated
C: Much more.
P: Much more than you were as an undergraduate?
C: Yes. I was courting Jo. That took care of that end of my interest, and graduate work is
just more fun.
P: Where did you meet Jo and how?
C: This is a good story. When I went to Penn, I shared an apartment with a boy who lived
down the street and who I had known since we were both that high. He was an
undergraduate at the Wharton School, and I was, for one year, a graduate student.
When I had been there about three weeks, he got me a date just going out to Bryn
Mawr College Sunday afternoon for tea or something or other. Jo, my wife, was his
date. Somebody else that I cannot remember was mine. Then, at the end of the
year, he graduated. Well, that took care of that, so I just took over where he left off.
And you know the rest of it.
P: Now, what was her name?
C: Jane Speese Bronson.
P: Where was Jo from?
P: Her family from Philadelphia, and she was going to Bryn Mawr?
P: What was she studying?
C: Economics, I think.
P: One of the interesting things that happened when you were
Depression. How did that impact you [and] your family,
burdens on you as a student at Penn?
in graduate school was the
and did it bring any special
C: No, it did not. I was very lucky in that respect. Doctors do pretty well even in
depressions, so I did not have any noticeable stringency. As a matter of fact, it may
have made things a little easier because, while there was not much money, the
prices were awfully low. But I remember all of the signs of it and the very sad ones.
I remember the men on the street corner with the apples for five cents each. If you
parked your car--and I had a car, which indicates that I was not suffering very
much--when you go to a movie downtown, there would always be some guy around
[to ask], "Can I watch your car, mister?" And it was always a good idea to say yes.
But no, I was not hurt by the Depression.
P: You did not have to work as an undergraduate or a graduate student?
P: You got an allowance from your family that was adequate for you to maintain a car and
live in an apartment?
P: Did you get a chance to travel at all as an undergraduate or graduate student before you
C: No, [and] I curse myself for that. That was the time when it would have been easy--it
was inexpensive--but I did not.
P: It was not unusual at all for graduate students at that time to take off with a few dollars
on a trip to Europe for the summer.
C: Oh, it was not problem at all. You could go spend the year in Paris, and you did not
have to have much money.
P: Did you work during the summers as a graduate student?
C: Yes. Now, I had various kinds of jobs. I worked in a parking station. I did a variety of
things like that. I worked labor on a golf course. Nothing very constructive. Then,
of course, after I was married it really was another story. I was working on my
dissertation and things of that kind, and you need the summers there.
P: Now, you were graduated in 1934. Let us begin talking now about your employment.
You came to the University of Florida the following year, 1935?
P: What did you do during that interval year, from 1934 to 1935?
C: I was at Penn.
P: Starting a doctorate program?
C: Yes. I was finishing up everything that I had to finish up and getting started on the
doctoral program, [finding a] subject and all that. It is rather interesting how I got my
P: Yes, I would like to hear that.
C: Do you know Ed Moore and Jane Moore?
C: Jane was a contemporary of Jo at Bryn Mawr. She came through New York, [and] Jo
was in New York working in Macy's at the time. She was on one of the Macy's
training squad, and [she] learned a lot about life, I must say--more than I was
learning. They had lunch and Jane told Jo, when she found out that Jo was
interested in me and that I was a student in English, that they were looking for
somebody in English at the University of Florida. It did not pay very much money,
but there it was. So Jo phoned me and I telegraphed or phoned Archie [Robertson,
professor and acting head, Department of English] in the locker room of a country
club (I remember where I made the call). I got the job.
P: You got the job over the telephone, then?
C: I got the job over the telephone. It paid $1,680 for the year, full-time, and not with a
simple six-hour load, but a load of fifteen hours.
P: Why were you conversing about employment with Archie Robertson?
C: Well, what I meant was that I called the chairman of the department, and Archie was the
P: So Dr. Farr had already departed at the point you were applying?
P: So you had no contact with Farr?
C: No. I heard all about him, of course, when I got here, but I did not have pay any
kick-backs to him.
P: So Archie, then, was the acting chairman at that particular moment in time. Let me go
back for just a moment, because I want to get this chronologically. When were you
and Jo married?
P: Do you have a date?
C: Yes. December 27. We were married in The Little Church Around the Corner in New
P: And where did you go on your honeymoon?
C: Gainesville. My mother had a Pontiac coupe, and she had gotten to the point where
she did not drive anyhow, so she gave that to me so we would have something to
get back in. We took about four or five days getting down here. We had snow
problems for one. We were snowed in in Washington. The first night we went to
Princeton. I remember that Jo had a fur coat on and galoshes when we went in the
hotel in Savannah, it was that unseasonable.
P: So you had already come to Gainesville that fall to begin the new semester, you then
returned to New York during the holidays, you were married in December, and then
you returned to Gainesville with your bride.
C: That is right.
P: Where did you live?
C: Do you know where Roper Street was?
C: I think it was 315 South Roper in what was laughingly called an apartment. To use the
gas you had to put a quarter in the meter. The kitchen was a closet. It had a small
gas stove in it and some shelves. But Jo managed.
P: Do you remember what your rent was?
C: I think $25 a month.
P: Now, identify Roper Street in terms of where it is today.
C: I do not know the numbers. It is practically across the street from the Enwall
Apartments. [I remember that] because one of the nice things was that we found
ourselves right in the midst of a lot of University people. Ted and Tom Hauptman
lived over there, [and] Jane and Ed lived over there.
P: The Hauptman's?
C: Yes. Hauptman. He was head of the German department for a while. S. T. Dell was a
law student at the time; he lived across the street. It was a lousy place to live
except for the people.
P: You were close to the campus?
C: No, on the other side of town.
P: So you could not walk, but you had your car?
C: Yes. Now, I had walked when I first came. Before we were married, I just had a room
at the Staudemeyers' which was right across the street from the old White House
Hotel. I always walked to the campus from there unless it was raining. In those
days you could get a cab for a quarter.
P: There was no bus system in Gainesville in the 1930s.
P: Now, you had two children.
P: Give us their names.
C: The oldest one is William Borden Conner, named after my father.
P: And he was born?
C: Oh, gosh, 1940, maybe 1941.
P: But before you went into service?
P: Now he is deceased?
C: He is deceased, yes. He died at the age of twenty-six, just after graduating from law
P: And then your second son?
C: The second son was born about ten years later, about 1950.
P: And his name?
C: James Frederick.
P: And where is he?
C: He is now in Orlando, working in a kind of liaison position between the St. Johns River
Water Management District and the Lake Apopka cleanup that they are related to.
P: Is he married?
P: So you have no grandchildren.
P: Okay. Let us get back to the University of Florida now. How did you come from
wherever you were coming from in 1935 to Gainesville? You are not married yet.
The semester begins in September of 1935. How did you physically get here?
C: By train.
P: That took you from New York to Jacksonville and on into Gainesville?
C: I came in on the downtown tracks, and I landed on a hot, hot September day with an
overcoat, a set of golf clubs, a tennis racket, and about three bags.
P: Which raises the interesting question of how did you get from downtown out to the
C: Well, this was a problem. I called Archie's house. I do not know why I did not call his
office, but I did not. The first voice that I heard in Gainesville was the majestic voice
of Mrs. Robertson.
P: Well, that was a wonderful way to be received. [laughter]
C: It was a real beginning. I knew I was somewhere! And I got a cab, I guess. I do not
know where I stayed to begin with, but Archie and Alleyne got me the room at
Staudemeyer's. He was a prominent alumnus, I think.
P: That is Ralph Staudemeyer's family.
C: Yes. It was Ralph and Felicia; I believe that was his wife's name.
P: Fred, had you ever been south before?
C: I had never been south of the Mason-Dixon line.
P: So Gainesville must have been something of a shock for you, was not it?
C: Not a shock really. It was interesting--a little field trip in anthropology, but I liked it. I
liked all the people.
P: Kind of describe, as you remember it, what Gainesville was like in the middle 1930s.
C: Well, it was very provincial and very rural. Saturday night was a big thing. The farmers
in the surrounding area came in very frequently in a horse and wagon, parked near
the feed store, put in a little evening, and then went home. They were all poor. The
county was dry. One thing that added to my pleasure was that I played tennis with
Archie and [Albert Alexander] "Waddie" Murphree [professor, Department of
English] and [William Edgar] Ed Moore [professor, Department of English]. As a
matter of fact, we built a tennis court out behind Dean [Thomas Marshall] Simpson's
house, which was on what is now 13th Street. [Simpson was dean of the graduate
school and head professor of mathematics.] And Waddie was very kind to me
because Beryl, his wife, had gone back to England for the summer, and he was at
loose ends, as I was.
One red letter evening was when I had been here about three weeks. Waddie said that his
sister-in-law would like for me to come to dinner. That was Edith. John A. was not
feeling very well, so he went on up to bed. There was a bottle of scotch, and Edith
and Waddie and I drank all the bottle of scotch, and I began to think that maybe
Gainesville was all right.
P: That you had come back to civilization or something.
C: That is right. [laughter]
P: There were not very many paved streets around the campus in those early years.
C: Oh, not at all. I remember when Jo was pregnant, I would drive through the campus as
a short cut. And she would say, "For heaven's sakes, do not do this. With all these
bumps, this is killing me." And as you know, most of the buildings that are now
around were not in existence at that time. I shared an office with [William Edgar] Ed
[Moore] for about ten years in the third floor of what was then Language Hall, now
Anderson Hall. The office was burned in a fire. You cannot even get up there to
look at it. I tried a couple of times to go up and see it. I was very happy with the
whole thing. I enjoyed teaching.
P: The downtown area around the courthouse was the business area of Gainesville then.
P: Where did you and Jo buy groceries?
C: Piggly Wiggly.
P: Where was it located?
C: On the Baird Hardware side of the square.
P: So you or she had to travel in your car to do your grocery shopping. In those days they
delivered things like milk and so on to your house, did not they?
C: Yes, milk, ice--there were so many things of that kind. I remember coming home from
dances in Rochester. It would be late, and you would hear the clop, clop, clop of
the horse of the milk wagon and things of that kind.
P: What did you do for entertainment as a young couple in Gainesville during the
Depression [of the] 1930s?
C: We did not have any money to speak of, but the beauty of it was that neither did
anybody else. We could do almost anything that anybody else did because what it
came down to was dinner at the Primrose Grill for fifty cents [and a show at the]
Florida Theater for a quarter, and this was it. You would maybe stop in to the little
magazine store next to the Florida Theater and sample a magazine.
P: Or you could go to the Lyric Theater.
C: Or to the Lyric, yes.
P: What was the English department like? Now, Farr had just left and had been involved in
that kick-back system, so things must have been rather chaotic in the department at
the time, were they not?
C: They did not impress me as being chaotic. In retrospect they are fascinating, because it
was a rather odd mixture of human beings, and nothing like the scholars that you
can find today. Let us take W.A. [Washington Augustus] Clark [professor of
English], for example. Where are you going to find his equal? I do not need to tell
you all the stories about W. A. because you know them already. Or Henry Caldwell
[professor of English], [who was] a brilliant lecturer.
P: How large was the department?
C: Oh, probably eight people, maybe.
P: I want you to identify, if you would, for the tape, some of the people in there. Start with
Caldwell. Tell us a little bit about him.
C: Caldwell was British, from Yorkshire.
P: And it was Henry?
C: Henry Caldwell. He had a wonderful voice. He was a magnificent reader, and there
were people who just worshipped him. Irving Kallman was one [student]. Irving
came here to study agriculture, if you can imagine that. It always comes as a
surprise to me.
P: And Irving Kallman later owned the Florida Book Store.
C: It opened up the year I got here. That is one of the first things I do when I go to any
town: find out where the book store is. Irving had this little tin-roof bookstore half
way up the next block from where he was.
P: Near where the College Inn is.
C: Yes. I spent a lot of time there. Irving had come here to study agriculture, but he, I
think, lucked into a course with Caldwell, and he was just astounded.
P: Irving came, I think, from New York.
C: Henry was brilliant.
P: What brought Caldwell to Gainesville?
C: I never knew. He did not have a Ph.D., and that may have had something to do with it.
But he got located comfortably and did not have either the kind of specialized
scholarly interests or the degree to go elsewhere.
P: He died as a relatively young man, did not he?
C: Yes. I do not know what it was, but I remember he got terribly sick and was gone before
you knew it.
P: He died here in the 1930s?
C: I think so.
P: Yes, before the war. Now, you mentioned Washington Clark. Could you tell us a little
bit about him?
C: I could tell you a lot.
P: He was a tall, angular man who loved to play bridge.
C: And when he answered the phone he picked it up and said, "Start talking." When he
wanted some work done, he went down to the square and picked up a couple of the
people that were always sitting there on the wooden benches and said, "How would
you like to make $5 an hour?" Of course, they loved to do that, so he brought them
out, and they moved this from there. It took them five minutes, and he paid them at
the rate of $5 an hour. [laughter] Oh, there were millions of things like that. He
smoked a cigarette in the middle of his mouth with the smoke going up through his
eyes. He actually was a very generous person who was always helping people. If
they needed money or they needed anything, he would probably get it for them and
not say anything about it. He liked to appear as wicked as possible--and he gave a
pretty good appearance of it--but he actually was a very kindly person.
P: Was [Henry] Philip Constans in the English department then?
C: No. The speech department was already separate, and he was chairman of that.
P: It was not still part of the same department?
P: What about Ed Moore?
C: Ed and I shared an office for about ten years. I was fond of Ed. He amazed me in
some ways. He was not a very orderly person. His desk was always a heap of
papers, but he always knew exactly where everything was, and if you asked him he
would reach into the pile of papers and give it to you. He kind of took me under his
wing because he had had some experience and I was a tenderfoot of the tenderest
kind. He kind of told me what to do, how to make out a classbook, what to expect,
and a few things like that.
P: Who else was in the department?
C: Waddie. I was fond of Waddie, although a lot of people did not like him. They thought
that he was affected because of his Oxford experience, and I guess he was to some
P: What was his relationship to President [Albert A.] Murphree [1909-1927]?
C: He was his son. Let me see. [Charles Eugene] Gene Mounts [professor of English]
was another character. The English department was like pages out of Dickens.
P: What about Mounts? Tell us about him.
C: Well, he was very vain with very little to be vain about. He was always having affairs,
frequently with students, and he would write poems about them and read the poems
over WRUF. [laughter]
P: So he was a womanizer.
C: Yes. On these occasions when he would break with his wife (she would throw him out
probably), he would sleep in his office, which was right across the hall from me. He
kept the mattress and whatever else there was in the closet of the office--which had
a glass window on it so everybody could see it. Then, finally, he put up a little sign
on it, "Honi soit qui mal y pense."
P: It is kind of surprising that the University in that era would have allowed him to remain on
C: The University did not pay much attention. One of the nice things about the University
then, as against later on, is that you did not have a lot of rules and a lot of people
checking up on you. You accepted the meager salary and went your way. The
police force was "Hawkshaw"; he was the only arm of the law. There was one
telephone on the third floor of Language Hall.
P: Who was Hawkshaw?
C: He was the night watchman really, and everybody knew him.
P: And he went around on his bicycle.
C: Yes, with his flashlight. If he saw a burglar I do not know what he would do except say,
"Boo." But everybody loved him.
P: And there were not many burglars on the campus in those early years.
Now, let us talk about the Robertsons, because they have become, in some ways, legends
here, both Archie and Alleyne. Let us start with her first of all. I understand she was
originally from Lake City, but she camouflaged that very well.
C: You know, here is a strange thing. While I was in Birmingham, I got well acquainted
with a man named Wilson who was from Valdosta. That is where he was from, but
he had gone to Harvard and studied Elizabethan literature. He did the same things
that Archie did, had the same manners as Archie, had the same speech that Archie
had. Archie's speech was not Tallahassee speech; of course, neither was Alleyne's
Lake City speech.
P: How did she spell her name?
C: Alleyne. There is a famous Britisher who pronounces it "Allen." Well, I was very fond of
both of them, and they both were as nice as they could be to me. I never had any
of the problems that many of the people had with Alleyne. I do not think she ever
said nasty things about me or Jo as she did about a lot of people. I never knew
why, but maybe we did not give her the occasion. But she had a tongue that was
as sharp as a razor. She could pin you to the wall if need be. I remember when
Archie had appendicitis, and I went out to see him. Some student called up and
asked if Archie was there. What he had failed to do, of course, was to say: "How
do you do, Mrs. Robertson? My name is such and such." She blasted him but
P: There were several strong women associated with the University in those days.
C: I'll say there were.
P: Alleyne was one. Perhaps Mrs. [Townes R.] Leigh was another.
C: Yes, she was. And Mrs. [Wilmon] Newell. Jo usually names three. But they were
strong women. Of course, Mrs. [John J.] Tigert was not a noisy kind, but she had a
good deal of strength of her own.
P: Mrs. Townse R. Leigh was kind of a noisy lady, was she not?
C: Yes. She just wanted to boss everybody. Now, everybody complained about the
Harvest Moon Suppers. I loved them. I thought this was the finest entertainment
that we had.
P: Maybe you ought to explain the Harvest Moon Suppers, which were given, I understand,
annually. First of all, Mrs. Leigh was who?
C: Mrs. Leigh was the wife of Townes R. Leigh, who was the dean of the College of Arts
P: And also vice-president of the University.
C: That is right. These Harvest Moon Suppers came in the fall, as they should, and it was
also a kind of beginning of the academic year. Her motive, I am sure, was just to
provide the social occasion that would help to bring the academic community
together. But she always had a gimmick. I remember one, for example, where
[William] Harold Wilson, who was the assistant dean [of the College of Arts and
Sciences], had to light a candle for every college that anyone in the faculty was
connected with, had ever taught at, had gone to school at, or whatever it was. Well,
that is a lot of candles, and they were in a fairly confined space, so there was some
danger before it was over that the place might get burned down. But Harold was
dutiful. Do you know about Miss [Priscilla M.] Kennedy [chief clerk, College of Arts
C: This is just gossip, and it may not be true, but it was told that Harold's wife had come in
when his secretary was sitting on his knee. That, of course, in those days, was not
P: Even if Gene Mounts was sleeping in his office.
C: So they either fired that secretary or at any rate got her a different job, and Mrs. Wilson
sold the gossip line and selected the successor. The successor was Miss Kennedy,
a nice, little elderly lady with a black velvet band around her neck. That was
P: Go back to the Harvest Moon Supper.
C: In another one, the gimmick was for there to be a long series of toasts; that is,
everybody and anybody who amounted to anything would make a toast. This took
quite a long time because each one of the toasters felt compelled to make a few
remarks before he took his drink. It was, I think, maybe about 10: 30 when they
finally got around to Dr. Tigert. Dr. Tigert said he was reminded about the story of
Mark Twain. When Mark Twain was leaving Europe, he turned around to the
multitude and said: "Is there anybody here whom I have not tipped? If there is, let
him please step forward." [Dr. Tigert said,] "I feel the same way. If there is
anybody around here who has not given a toast and who would like to give a toast,
let him please step forward." [laughter] And so it went, including, for example, the
present to Mrs. Tigert of a gavel made (now I have two things mixed up here) made
from a tree that grew in the garden of the White House of the Confederacy. That is
one. The other was a plant planted in a teaspoon of dirt from the house of each
member of the faculty. [There were] lots and lots of things like that.
P: So it was great fall entertainment?
C: Oh, yes. Now, people grumbled. But, you know, it is like in the army: you do not know
of anybody who does not grumble while they are probably eating better than they
did at home. I rather enjoyed it. For example, the first one that I went to, whoever
was supposed to speak was not available, and Dr. [Hasse Octavius] Enwall
[professor of philosophy] substituted for him and told what he told many times in
speeches, of how he had come to go to college in the United States. He had been
in the Swedish Merchant Marine in England. They anchored in San Francisco Bay
over toward Oakland, and he got off and saw the University of California and all the
young people going to college and decided that was for him. He got off the ship as
quickly as he could, entered college, and that was it. He, of course, was a legend
all by himself.
P: He was chairman of the philosophy department at the time. Now, how good of an
administrator was Archie?
C: I thought he was all right. Sometimes I would rather not have so good an administrator
as somebody with qualifications of another kind. Good administrators sometimes
are a pain in the neck. They want all the Is dotted and Ts crossed and everything
on time, but maybe they are not interested in what the enterprise is all about.
Archie was interested in what the enterprise is all about, and so far as I was
concerned he did a good job.
P: You did not have that much money, anyway, to play around with as far as salaries and
library allocations and so on were concerned.
C: He got me up to $1,800 after I had been here two years.
P: I want to ask you about the General College, which also begins about the time you
arrive on campus. Did you have any connection with it?
C: Yes. I did not have any administrative connection, of course, and in the beginning
rather less than more of a teaching connection. My first schedule had two courses
in it which were the old freshman English [courses] because they had people who
had failed the old freshman English and who wanted to take it again so that they
could possibly pass it and make some use of the experience they had already had.
One of the amusing things is that I had two classes consisting entirely of people
who had flunked freshman English at least once. We had a term paper. I told them
that when I was a freshman and had to write a term paper, I had written about the
First Battle of the Marne. I could recommend battles because they are fairly
interesting to boys as compared with some other subjects. They are compact--you
do not get into a lot of theoretical matters if you just tell what happened--and nearly
always you could find an article in an encyclopedia that could give you most of the
information that you would need. Well, one came in on the Battle of Waterloo in
magnificent Victorian English. I got the boy off in the corner, and we talked about
his paper. I said to him, "Now, here is what it says in my encyclopedia, and here is
what you said in your paper." He said, "Well, I thought you wanted a good paper,
and it sure is written a lot better than I could write it."
P: He was being honest.
C: Well, I decided I was not the right professor for things like that.
P: So you taught two classes in freshman English. What else did you teach?
C: Ed Moore asked if I knew anything about the nineteenth century. It was the only thing I
had not had anything in graduate school about. If he had asked me if I knew
anything about painting, I would have said yes. So I went home and started to
learn. It was English literature of the nineteenth century, and it was fun. I think I
also might have had one section of C3 that was reading, writing, and speaking.
They had writing labs in those days, you know, and I had a couple of them.
P: So you had a full load. Every day?
C: Fifteen hours.
P: Now, you were on arts and sciences payroll, were you not?
P: What was your connection with the General College? Did you teach any courses there
at all other than the C3 course in reading and writing? Did you teach anything in the
C: I did after a while. After a while I taught humanities.
P: Dean [Winston W.] Little [associate dean, General College] brought you into that
C: Well, he did not, but they grew on each other. This was, of course, the germ of that
action that I took later recommending that the University College be done away with
and be substituted, or displaced, by a different scheme. But the [Faculty] Senate
rejected it, and that is all right with me. They probably should have. There was a
pretty constant struggle and a good deal of antagonism between the divisions--who
worked for whom and who took who's orders and so on. The horizontal division of
the University never seemed to me to be a good idea. At any rate, I had very little to
do with it. In those early days, I just taught what I was told to teach, and that was it.
P: Jacob Hooper Wise was the chairman of the freshman English program.
P: Who was he?
C: Jake was what you described. His background, I think, was in P. K. Yonge [Lab School]
and the College of Education. He was a good, serious, kindly, efficient person. I
have no criticism of him.
P: Did Ed Moore leave the Arts and Sciences and become more active in the General
C: Yes, because he became chairman of the logic course, which had originally been Dean
Little's brainchild but was probably developed more by Ed than anyone else. It was
a better course, I think, than most people gave it credit for. I have a copy Ed's book,
the textbook he wrote for the course, and I think it is a damn good book.
P: Ed is deceased now, is not he?
C: Yes, just recently.
P: Where was he living?
C: I think in Raleigh. One of the North Carolina cities.
P: He had family there?
C: His daughter, Sally, his younger daughter, had married and moved there. Jane and Ed
lived out on 10th Avenue for a long time, but they felt they needed to be near Sally
for additional help.
P: When did Clifford Lyons come into the English department?
C: He was not here very long. He came about 1941.
P: Oh, that late. I thought he was the 1930s.
C: Well, now, it may be the 1930s. I guess it was, probably 1938 or 1939. Cliff was a good
appointment, but then he left just after the war. He was in the war, and when he
came back after a couple of years, he had an offer of a deanship at the University of
North Carolina. He did not stay in it very long because he found that he did not
have the authority that he had been led to think that he would, and I think there was
some conflict. He remained at North Carolina in the English department with a good
P: What about the student body here in the 1930s?
C: I thought they were good. Now, in a way they were more select, and certainly more
homogenous, than they are now.
P: The vast majority were Floridians?
P: And Florida was basically a rural state at that time.
C: Yes. One of my better students was George Smathers [U.S. Senator from Florida,
1951-1969]. I had to introduce him someplace five or six years ago, and I looked to
see what grades I had given him. I had given him an A the first term--he took that
nineteenth century English literature course--and only a C the second. But then
further investigation revealed that he had not handed in certain book reports that he
was supposed to. He was more mature in behavior and appearance than most
students were. He was bright and energetic, on the debating team, the basketball
team, and a lot of it.
P: But he was not the typical university student at that time, because you had more from
places like Live Oak and Perry than you had from places like, perhaps, Miami,
which is where Smathers came from.
C: That is true. That makes a great deal of difference.
P: Was this a farm school then?
C: To a considerable extent, I expect it was. In the lower division you did not notice it so
much because you saw them all together. When you get the upper division major
statistics a lot of them were going into the ag school and so on.
P: But it really was not a corn-pone school, was it?
C: No, I did not think so. We were poor and did not have any money or any of the things
P: What kind of a library did we have?
C: Terrible. There was no copy of Cardinal Newman's Apalogia. There was only, as I
remember, one copy of any book by Huxley. This was like saying that they did not
have any Encyclopedia Britannica. And then Dr. Tigert, I think, toward the end of
the 1930s applied for a GEB Grant for the enrichment of the library because he
wanted to get the University into Phi Beta Kappa, and the Phi Beta Kappa visiting
team had said, "Not with that library." I think he got matching money from the state,
and they bought a lot of books real fast. It was an education for me, because Bill
Haines and I were Archie's two slaves.
P: Bill was in the English department also at the time?
C: Yes. Archie had to get up some bibliographies and check to see what books were in the
library and what were not in the library so that he could have orders. His principle
was to have at least $10,000 of needed books right on his desk for any time that
any money should break loose. Winston Little was a little niggardly about his library
funds, and he did not get them spent. Very frequently he would call Archie at the
end of the year, and he would say, "I still have $5,000 in the library book fund," and
Archie would say, "I can spend it immediately." But it was an education to me,
because I just spent my time with bibliographies and the library card catalog and
learned no end of things.
P: Now, the library was all jammed into what we now call Library East.
C: And even less than that.
P: Only the south end of it was available at that time. It had not been so many years earlier
that it had moved out of the basement of Peabody Hall.
C: I did not know about this. I know it as a fact that it is true, but it is before my time. An
interesting little thing about the library--do you know who one of the librarians was?
C: Mrs. Addison Pound.
P: She was an employee of the library?
P: Who was the librarian when you arrived? Was Mrs. Miltmore still at the helm?
C: She was in her last year.
P: Cora Miltmore. I understand she was another strong woman.
C: Yes. I did not have much to do with her, but I used to hear those things about her. We
had a Friends of the Library organization. A young, Oxford Rhodes scholar who
was in the law school was on it, and Gene Mounts was on it, and I was secretary.
This will tell you a lot about Gene Mounts. I had my
and Gene said, "May I see your minutes?"
comma in there, saying, "I use a comma after
loved him from then on.
minutes all ready to read and so on,
He got out his pencil, and he put a
all introductory adverbial phrases." I
P: Where were the arts and sciences offices? In Language Hall?
C: No, in the chemistry building, because it was Dean Leigh's.
P: But all the classes were in Language?
C: Pretty much, yes.
P: And the president's office was in
Simpson's office was in there.
Language Hall, [as was] the graduate school. Dean
C: The bookstore.
P: The bookstore was where?
C: In the basement.
P: I see. And the registrar's office?
C: That was there, too.
P: And then, of course, the General College, which was the name before University
College was first started, was there because Dean Little's office was there on the
P: Where was the post office? Had it already moved out of Science Hall to the little
building where Turlington is now when you arrived?
C: Yes. That is where it was. I had a box there for a while.
P: And the [University Memorial] Auditorium, of course, was where the cultural activities on
the campus took place.
P: Was there very much of that kind of thing available in the poor 1930s? Was the Lyceum
C: Comparatively there was not much, but there was some, and some of it [was] quite
memorable. I remember there was a cellist. It was in the summertime--of course, it
was good and hot because there was no such thing as air-conditioning--and they
had the curtains drawn part way like that, and that door in the back of the auditorium
was open to create a draft. The man was playing his cello, and the janitor, without
any shirt on, just his underwear shirt, marched across with an armful of toilet paper.
P: Now, the organ was there, and Claude Murphree was the organist at the time.
C: That is right.
P: Some of the memorable people on campus, relatively young at the time, were Manning
Dauer [professor and chairman, Department of Political Science] and Bill Carlton
[professor and chairman, Department of Social Sciences].
C: Oh, by all means.
P: And they were good friends of yours, were not they?
C: Yes. In the very beginning [we were] not so close, although I knew Manning from the
very beginning because we were both friends of Archie's.
P: So you had a social relationship with people in other departments other than English.
P: And, of course, you remember James Miller Leake [professor and chairman,
Department of History and Political Science].
C: Yes. He lived right behind us when we lived on Roper Street. When I applied for some
kind of position in naval intelligence, the FBI came around to inquire about me, and
they went to Dr. Leake, whose name I had given. I felt that if his name did not carry
weight, I did not know whose would. But he said a characteristic thing. After he
answered all the questions of the FBI man he said, "Now, how do you know I am all
P: Yes. I remember, as everyone else does also, his Ford automobile outside of Peabody
Hall, under that oak tree that used to stand there on the corner. What about Dr.
Tigert? Did you, as a new professor on campus, have any association with Dr.
C: No, not really. He was somebody in the distance. Of course, he never knew who
anybody was, so a close relation was not invited. I remember W. A. [Washington
Augustus] Clark [assistant professor, Department of English]--who, gosh, you would
think Dr. Tigert would have known who he was--was coming down the hall with his
briefcase in his hand. He went over and said hello to Dr. Tigert, and Dr. Tigert said,
"I am sorry young man. Mr. Graham does all the buying around here."
P: Of course, he was referring the Klein Graham, the business manager on the campus at
the time. I guess Dick Johnson was already the registrar when you arrived.
C: No. What was his name? He became vice-president and had that sexual problem.
P: Yes, we know. Harley Chandler.
C: Harley Chandler. Dick was his right-hand man though, and I would not be at all
surprised if Dick ran the office.
P: He was the one that organized the famous poker games with Manning Dauer and
C: I never was involved with that. In fact, one of the things that I should have done that I
have not done, both here and in Alabama, is play poker. Some of the most
interesting people and most knowledgeable do that, and it would be like a seminar, I
P: It is never too late for you to take up that activity, now that you are retired.
C: I am not very good at it.
P: Was your special area of teaching here in American literature or European?
C: In an interesting way it was not. Herman Spivey [associate professor, Department of
English] was the American lit. man, and I taught it when Herman was not here. If he
went away or was gone one of the summer terms, I would teach it. If I was going to
be behind anybody, there is nobody I would rather be behind than Herman. I
thought he was a wonderful man. I did, however, become a confirmed generalist
because being an administrator that was almost a compulsion. A part of it was
teaching C5, the humanities, because there you covered just anything of music, art,
you name it, from one end to the other.
Jimmy Glunt [professor, Department of History and Political Science] was the chairman for
quite a while, and, of course, he was another character. He got interested in side
issues and would lose time. I remember several students coming to me along
about late November, and they would say: "Now, we are in Dr. Glunt's class. We
like him very much, and he is very interesting. He knows all about guns and trains,
and he has told us all about guns. But we are supposed to be in the eighteenth
century, and we are still back in the Middle Ages. Would you mind if we attended
your course for a while?" [laughter]
P: Let me ask you also about some of the so-called celebrities that came to Gainesville,
who perhaps were attracted here because of the English department. I would like to
start out, first of all, with Robert Frost. Did he come here, to your knowledge,
because there was a university here?
C: I do know how the first invitation happened, but it was when Cliff was here, so that
would have been in the late 1930s. I suspect that it is one of those things where
somebody knows somebody else, and somebody else knows that Frost spends his
winters in south Florida and likes to be able to work his way back with a succession
of lecturing jobs.
P: He had spent time in both Key West and Miami.
C: He had permanent quarters in Coconut Grove or Coral Gables, just south of Miami. I
think it was Coral Gables.
P: That in a way was an area where writers in the 1930s wintered.
C: Yes. He and Harvey Allen were close friends and it may have been through one of
those connections, but there are lots of underground connections in the literary
P: Do you think Lyons knew Frost?
C: I do not think he knew him before that. I think he knew him through that. Somebody
said you can get Frost for a reasonable sum if you would like to have him in. I know
Cliff was an admirer of Frost, and he probably just wrote him a letter saying, "We
can offer you so much. Would you come and give us a lecture?"
P: So he came first as a guest lecturer?
P: Do you know how or why he made the decision to buy property here and to move his
C: Well, he wanted to settle permanently somewhere in Florida and had looked around and
liked it here. I think it was property up toward Micanopy. Maybe you know better
P: Well, the property, the house that he lived in, was near the Duck Pond.
C: That was a rental business.
P: And he bought, I guess, farm property, which I thought was out more in the Archer
direction, but I did not know. I was hoping you could tell me.
C: I have had kind of the feeling that it was towards Micanopy, but [I have] nothing really to
base that on. Jo might know, because Jo knew Frost's daughter. She used to play
tennis with her.
P: Where was the rental house?
C: It was just off the Duck Pond toward the Hotel Thomas.
P: And the house is still standing, I think.
C: Oh, yes. There were small, unpretentious upstairs and downstairs apartments.
P: Did you get to know the Frosts?
C: Yes. Every time he would come after Archie had succeeded Cliff, the standard
procedure was for him to invite various members of the department to come over
and chat with Frost, and he always asked me.
P: Now, let me get one fact straight. Archie was the acting chairman of the English
Department after Dr. Farr resigned, and then he was succeeded by Clifford Lyons
P: So Cliff came here as chairman of the department, and when Cliff left to go to Chapel
Hill, Archie then moved back into that position?
C: He first was moved back into the acting position, but then they changed it after about
two years. There was a considerable feeling in the department that this was no way
to do things and that Archie had been a good chairman, and they wanted to make
P: Okay. So he was thus in the position to extend these kinds of social invitations and to
handle the arrangements for Frost.
P: Do you think Archie was the one who was responsible for helping the Frosts get the
house and moving the family and so on?
C: Of course, they never got into the permanent place that they wanted. They would come
here and stay in the early days-- maybe a month or two in the wintertime--and live in
the upstairs/downstairs house that you are thinking of.
P: The one that you described off the Duck Pond?
P: The rental property.
C: The lady was known as Josephine. You would know it if I could think of it.
P: Well, before we are through you will remember it.
C: They lived there. Then Mrs. Frost got sick and, of course, died there.
P: She died in Gainesville?
C: Yes. He was a difficult man. He was interesting and entertaining, but I would not want
to be married to him. Both of them were about as conservative as you could get, I
mean, politically, Mrs. Frost especially. That is something that most people, even
readers of Frost, do not notice, but it is there.
P: She was politically conservative?
C: Yes, and so was he, but not quite as vigorously as she. They hated Roosevelt.
P: It is interesting that he would have had that later association with Kennedy.
P: But she was gone by then.
C: Yes, and I am sure it was kept on a non-political basis. I enjoyed him. He knew a great
deal. Long ago I ceased to expect talented artists or literary people to be personally
virtuous. It does not seem to make much difference to their product, and they
usually are not.
P: Was he a very literate man in knowing what was going on in the world other than in
C: Yes, he had broad interests. He had taught school and had read widely, and he liked
the world of opinion. He had strong opinions of his own and knew what they were
about. The Frosts were not as sophisticated--not like the New York sophisticates.
P: Well, he never attempted to show or palm himself off in that way at all. In fact, I think he
rather enjoyed the homespun.
C: Rather the opposite. He wanted to appear like ...
P: A Vermonter. He did not identify himself in terms of his writings with Florida, did he? He
did not write Florida poetry.
C: No. I am trying to think if I remember any Florida poem. I do not.
P: There was some personal tragedy, I think, in their family with his son.
C: This came after Mrs. Frost's death. Their son committed suicide.
P: On the farm?
C: Not down here. He had gone back north, and it was a couple of months after Mrs.
Frost's death. Then he had one daughter who was in an asylum of some kind and
another who died of tuberculosis, I think, or a disease of that sort.
P: Did you know any of the children?
C: I knew the one, Leslie. She was the healthy one and the one Jo played tennis with.
P: She had children, I believe, did she not?
C: Very charming children.
P: And they went to school here in Gainesville, elementary school.
C: Yes, Lee and ... I forget the other one.
P: I was told they went to old Kirby Smith down on East University Avenue, which would
have been within walking distance of the house.
C: Yes. Leslie and the children lived right across the street from Kirby Smith. Mrs. Metcalf
was a very close friend of Leslie's.
P: So Leslie and her family did not live with her father and mother in the same house?
C: They did during a part of the time at the house near the Duck Pond, because it was a
little scandalous in some people's perspective. Robert insisted that they, that he
and Mrs. Frost, live on the second floor because he did not want the noise of the
children's feet overhead when he was writing poems. Since she died of a
succession of heart attacks, there are those who have been willing to say, "Well, if
she did not have to climb all those stairs, she might not have had it."
P: Was Leslie married?
C: Yes, a very interesting marriage. Do you remember Kay Francis in the movies? Leslie
was the wife of a man who later married Francis.
P: He was the husband of Kay Francis?
P: And he divorced Kay Francis and married Leslie.
C: It was the other way around, I think.
P: Oh, I see. Did you know the son that committed suicide?
C: No. I think Jo did.
P: Did the Frosts mix with the Gainesville community or with just a
handful of people in the
C: They mixed with the Tigerts, for one, and Mrs. [Marjorie Kinnan] Rawlings.
P: Of course, he was already a celebrity.
C: Yes, but they really were not socializing people. They attend things partly out of duty,
and then they would take an interest in some people. They were nice to us, but not
on any great scale. They were pleasant. Robert liked a regular pattern of life.
Later, after Mrs. Frost was dead, he continued to come and would always stay with
Archie and Alleyne. He would walk in the mornings, and Alleyne would get him in
the car and drive him off someplace where he could have a walk in the country.
You will never guess where it was.
C: Sixteenth Avenue.
P: Near where I live now.
C: It was then, of course, kind of a dirt road.
P: Burt Ames [professor, General Extension Division] had some property out there.
C: I wondered why I was not as smart as Burt Ames. Let me see. I thought there were
three--Burt and Angus.
P: Angus Laird [assistant professor, social sciences]?
C: Angus Laird, yes. He owned some out there. It is lovely country.
P: We could put up a historical marker there and say Robert Frost journeyed there. Was
he relaxed enough to be on a first-name basis with people? Did you call him
Robert, and did he call you Fred?
C: I did not. I called him Mr. Frost, and I do not know that he called me anything. Alleyne
called him Robert, and Archie called him Robert--no Bob or anything like that. I do
not know of anybody that called him that.
P: Now, one of the people I suspect he was friendly with, and perhaps you will recall her,
was Miss Terry who ran the little bookstore down on University Avenue. Do you
remember Miss Terry?
C: I sure do. The thing I remember about her was in the Rawlings trial when she had given
some testimony and was being cross-examined by the lady lawyer of... What's her
P: Miss Cason.
C: Yes. Of course, what the lawyer was trying to do was to
Alleyne said, "Miss Terry, are you sure that that is the
thought she was accusing her of lying. She was just a
loud noise. I can see that pince-nez shaking on her nose
bore in on her testimony.
case?" Well, Miss Terry
little bird, but she made a
as she says that.
P: Now, Miss Terry's little shop was where?
C: On University Avenue, just west of Rickenbacher's, I am guessing.
P: Well, a little bit farther along. It was in that little stucco building across from the Florida
Theater on the other side of the Primrose.
C: Yes. I am a couple of lots away from it.
P: But you are in the right block, of course.
about, of course, was Mrs. Rawlings.
involved with her?
The other person I wanted you to ask you
Were you closer to her, more friendly, more
C: No, I was not at all, and neither was Jo. She did not like ordinary social occasions, and
she did not like women very much. But Dr. Tigert liked her and she liked him; they
were made for each other. Cliff was very fond of her, and they did a lot of partying
together. I got brushed off by her. The first time I met her was at Cliffs house at a
cocktail party or something like that. There she was, and I had to say something to
her. I knew she had spent a good many of her early years in Rochester. That is
where I come from, so I just mentioned that. She looked me in the eye and said,
"The unhappiest years of my life were spent in Rochester," and she turned on her
heel and walked away.
P: That put you in your place.
C: I could understand it because her husband, Charles Rawlings, wrote "Yachting News" in
the [Rochester] paper. I was familiar with his name from the sports page, but I knew
nothing about her until I got down here. But she was a talented woman. I have
never been terribly fond of her writing the way some people are. But it is good, and
she was an honest and able artist. No, I did not have any close relationship.
P: You said Mrs. Rawlings did not like women?
C: No. That was my impression.
P: Were you ever out to her house? Did she ever invite you for any social activity?
P: There were a number of people on campus who were close to her.
C: Yes, there were.
P: I think Bill Carlton was one of those.
C: Yes, I would guess so. I did not know it.
P: Not Manning, but Bill and that kind of Bohemian group that he traveled with at that time.
But Mrs. Rawlings taught a class.
C: Yes, and she quit it, too.
P: What do you mean, "she quit it"?
C: It was one of the summer school classes. Summer school in those days was
self-financing; the summer school was self- supporting. Your appointment came in
a letter from Dean [James W.] Norman [of the College of Education] stating that you
would teach such-and-such at such-and-such a rank for such-and-such a salary
provided that the summer school receipts were sufficient. When Mrs. Rawlings got
hers, she said, "This is a yellow dog contract and I will not sign it," and she sent it
back. What happened as a result, I do not know.
P: Well, she taught the course, because I took the course from her.
C: Oh, you did? Well, that is the best evidence I can think of.
P: Yes, that was it. Now, how she got paid and under what circumstances I do not know.
But it was a regular course, I thought offered under the aegis of the English
department. It was a creative writing course.
C: Probably, yes.
P: That was the reason I was wondering, since you were in the English department, if she
was your colleague.
C: I did not know what happened afterwards. But I did hear that, and of course the slaves
down in the galleys let up a cheer.
P: Another person that came, not often, but once in a while, to the campus was the poet
Louis Untermeyer. He must have been a friend also of someone in the department.
C: He was a friend of Robert Frost's principally. They were very good friends, and one of
his wives, Jean Starr Untermeyer, was an even better friend of Frost's. They were
mutual admirers and warmly friendly. I knew Untermeyer both here and in Alabama
because he came up there one time. He is ideal for that kind of thing. He was by
no means the caliber of poet that Frost was, but he was a better entertainer and
very ready and easy and knowledgeable. He was, I thought, a great success here
P: Did you get to know him at all here?
C: I knew him better in Alabama. I did not really know him well either place, but enough to
spend some time with him and chat.
P: I want to ask you about one other person who came after the war, and that is [American
author] Andrew Lytle.
C: Yes, I knew Andrew well. Andrew is still alive.
C: How Andrew got here I do not know. I expect it is through the grapevine as I described
the others. He came and lived in Gainesville for a good many years and was, I
thought, a great success as a teacher, judging by the response that I get from
students. During much of that time I was doing much of the advising and registering
in the graduate program. I could see how they reacted to Andrew, and they really
worshipped them. I remember one thing that many of them would say: "Well, even
if he did not teach me to write, he taught me to read." He was good at that, and he
came across well, too, with students. We see him from time to time. Again, he also
kind of visited Alabama.
When my house was robbed, I was having dinner with Andrew up in Tennessee. The
phone message for me was that I better come home because the burglars had
been after us. I thought he was first rate. Now, I do not care too much for his
fiction. (You should get young people whose memories work, so I will just let it go at
that.) I have not been an ardent reader of his fiction.
P: Did your paths cross at all with C. Vann Woodward the short time that he was on the
C: Yes. Vann and I both taught C5 at that time. He was getting his Tom Watson[:
Agrarian Rebel] published, and he gave me several chapters to read and comment
on. We were, of course, present in staff meetings and things of that kind, though we
were never personally close.
P: He was very close with Manning and Bill, and he says so in his introduction to Watson.
C: He is a fairly cool and remote person except with people who are close to him. But he is
a nice guy and terribly bright, and a fine writer.
P: It is kind of interesting that a university like the University of Florida in Gainesville in the
1930s, tucked away almost in nowhere, would attract so many important luminaries,
either already arrived or just beginning to move up the ladder.
C: Well, part of the answer, I suspect, is that Florida is a nice place to go in the wintertime.
That tends to draw people in this direction, particularly intellectual people who are
movable because they are not tied down to a nine-to-five job. That is not enough,
but it is a beginning.
P: Do you think that the Tigerts were in any way responsible for attracting people here like
C: I do not think so. I do not think that Dr. Tigert had much of that kind of an interest, and I
do not think that his personality is the kind that would have attracted that type of
person. Quite often it would have been, I think, people in the departments:
somebody knows somebody, and it works that way.
P: Were you, as a young faculty, expected to involve yourself in student affairs as advisor
to clubs or that kind of thing?
C: I do not know whether I was expected to, but I did. I was the faculty advisor of the
Florida Review, and I think I was just assigned to it. I was a very dutiful young
person, not wanting to starve to death and hoping I could get married right soon. So
if they said, "Advise the Florida Review," I would advise the Florida Review.
P: We have not had a literary journal equal to that since.
C: No. It was good, and I liked a lot of the youngsters who were involved in it. Will
McGuire [editor and publisher, Princeton University Press], for instance.
P: Do you stay in touch with Bill?
C: No, I do not.
P: I just got a note from him two weeks ago.
C: Well, he has cut a wide swath with the [Carl] Jung papers all that publishing he has
done. He has written his autobiography, has he not?
P: I do not know about that. He is writing the history of the Norton Gallery in Palm Beach.
C: Oh, really? Well, I am sure that I read somewhere that he has a volume that may not be
autobiography in the literal Benjamin Franklin sense but that deals with the
experience of the editorial work that he has done.
P: What about Stetson Kennedy? Does that name ring a bell with you at all?
C: No, I do not know him.
P: He is an outstanding folklorist who has written extensively about Florida and was a
student here at the time that you were here. He has done that book Palmetto
Country; the University of Florida Press has just brought out a reprint of it last week.
C: Now, that sounds familiar, Palmetto Country.
P: Well, I thought he might have turned up in one of your classes.
C: Well, he may have been. These kids were leftish in their political views.
P: McGuire certainly was.
C: McGuire was, and there was another guy that I think was a Communist, but I cannot
remember what his name was. But Jo and I attended a couple of their meetings,
one at the little Blue Room halfway downtown on the left-hand side.
P: I do not know where the Blue Room was.
C: Well, it is still there. It is a little restaurant, and it has been painted blue several times in
P: That is not where the Black Cat was, is it?
C: I do not think so. But I thought it was the nearest, probably, that I ever got to attending a
P: Now, World War II is approaching at the end of the 1930s, and obviously it impacts
everybody. Pearl Harbor is December 1941, and you were still on campus at the
time. What was your career during the war?
C: Well, I was deferred for a while, and probably could have remained that because I was
fairly old. Let me see. I was in my middle thirties.
P: And you were married and had a child.
C: Yes. I kind of wanted to get involved in it, but I did not want to wind up as a yardbird or
an infantryman. The other guys in the department, Cliff and Tom Stroup and
Norman Eliason and Herman Spivey were all in the navy and had gotten
commissions, so I said, "Oh, I think I will try that." I used to drive over to
Jacksonville to the naval procurement office because I had a succession of
examinations and so on. I would always drive past Camp Blanding so I could see
these poor foot soldiers marching in the hot sun with packs on their backs, and it
encouraged me to think that the navy is the proper choice. I got in and was in for a
little under two years.
P: You went into the navy in 1944.
C: July 1944, I think.
P: And you stayed in until 1946?
P: Where were you sworn in?
C: I was sworn in ... Let me see.
accepted in Jacksonville,
P: That is New York.
P: And what rank did you come in?
If the terminology is "sworn in," I do not know. I was
and my orders were to report to Plattsburgh for
C: Lieutenant junior] g[rade], and I am ashamed to say that I had a wonderful time. I
enjoyed the whole thing.
P: Did you go overseas?
C: Yes, I got to Pearl Harbor, in case you can call that overseas. But I could not afford to
go to Pearl Harbor.
P: I was going to say, because you came several years after the action.
C: Exactly, they did not even have a blackout when I was there.
When I left the states
butter was scarce, but they had all the butter you wanted. It came from New
Zealand. God knows it is beautiful out there. And the indoctrination was fine, too. It
came at the end of the summer. Let me see. July, August, September--those are
nice months up there in Plattsburgh. And it was kind of fun going up there. Jo went
with me to New York. We had a cottage on the Jersey shore which had been her
mother's and which Jo inherited. But she went up, and we went to the Hotel Astor
and danced and things of that kind. Then we went back to the hotel, because I had
to get up at 6: 00. And damned if there were not bed bugs in the bed, and they had
to move us in the middle of the night. So I got
nothing to eat. I just made the train for Plattsburgh,
a fried egg sandwich.
practically no sleep, and I
Somewhere above Albany
P: You led a very romantic life. What did they expect an aging English professor to do in
C: Well, that was what I was waiting to find out. In communications. I described myself
disparagingly as an over-aged yeoman. They would not let enlisted men handle
top-secret dispatches, so they always had officer typists, is what it amounted to.
P: Did you cut a dashing figure in Hawaii in your white uniform?
C: No. We were not wearing whites. In fact, I had had to lose a lot of weight to get in the
navy. Then after I had been in the navy about two months the old uniforms did not
fit me. So I do not know if I had any whites I could wear.
But I did a lot of fun things. One thing I used to do and thought, God, if this is not
characteristic of a college professor, I do not know what is. I would go down to the
town library--they have a very nice, pretty library downtown, and it is quiet--and you
could sit there and read a book and not hear any noise. If you are living in barracks
you get a little tired of the racket.
P: You were strange. Instead of prowling the red-light districts, you were in the library
reading a book.
C: I will tell you, it is a college professor's life.
P: Now, you get out of the navy in 1946, and you come back to the University of Florida.
P: You came as an instructor to begin with in 1935, and then you became an assistant
professor. The date for that was [what]?
C: 1939, I think.
P: You became an assistant professor in 1939. I was going to ask you, what do you
remember your salary was?
C: I cannot remember, but I am sure it was miniscule. When I left here in 1961 to become
dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama, I had an
increase of 100 per cent in my salary, but it was still only $16,000. An instructor
makes $16,000 these days.
P: More than that, really. Now, you were promoted to associate professor, according to my
notes, in 1944.
P: The same year that you went into service.
C: Yes, and it is the year my Ph.D. was conferred.
P: Now, I would like you to give us, for the record, a little bit about that Ph.D. program,
because you really start that way back in 1934, the year before you came here.
C: Well, I started on it, but it was from then on a question of dissertation. As I said, the
advisement I got was terribly slight, and I was a little bullheaded in not choosing a
topic that would be one that would be a part of my adviser's work and that he would
P: What was your dissertation topic?
C: The reception of the theory of evolution by American poets. This entailed a great deal of
work, and I am not a fast worker. I am not sorry about about any of it, because I
was fascinated by the history of ideas. Lovejoy's book came out just when I was
starting it in the early 1930s and that got me interested.
P: When you mention Lovejoy's book, identify that. Who is Lovejoy?
C: That is Arthur Lovejoy, a professor at Johns Hopkins.
P: And his book?
C: The Great Chain of Being[: A Study of the
and, of course, that was related to the
on it. What I found having made
self-education, because what I knew
needed to know something about was
History of an Idea]. It is a history of that idea,
theory of evolution. That is how I got started
this choice, I let myself in for no end of
about biology and all of the related things I
P: But you had people on the campus like [James] Speed Rogers [head professor of
biology and geology] and so on who could help you.
C: They would not be interested in the versions of evolution that the poets were.
P: You did your research during the summer months?
C: At nights. When you are young you do not have to sleep all that much.
P: And you wrote your dissertation which was then accepted at Pennsylvania, and you
received you degree in the spring commencement of 1944?
C: Yes. I was not there. I think my mother-in-law picked up the diploma for me.
P: Were you already in service?
P: So 1944 marks several things: you get your dissertation, you are promoted to associate
professor, and you go into the navy at that particular time. And you are still with the
one child in the family. Your second son was not yet born?
P: Now, you returned to the University of Florida in 1946, and it was a much changed
university, was it not?
C: Yes, and changing faster after I got back. So many people that I talk with say, "When
did you come here?" Like Ed Kirkland [associate professor, English] and John Fain
[associate professor, English] and so on, so many people came around 1946, 1947,
and 1948, because so many things were happening.
P: Like what?
P: All right. Tell us a little bit about some of these changes as you saw them. Coeducation
came officially to the University in 1947.
C: Yes, and the state was growing in population and in wealth because--maybe I have
these things wrong--air-conditioning and air transportation were coming along, and
those things were a terrific impetus to growth in the state. So I came back to a
more-sophisticated and wealthier state than I had left. Now, just how that would fit
with the years and how much before and how much afterward, I am not sure.
P: Certainly World War II made a terrific impact on Florida in every way--economically,
politically, and socially.
C: Of course, I was used to classes that were exclusively male before I left here. For
instance, the worst gaff that I ever pulled in a class, fortunately, was in the all-male
days. We were talking about Giotto's campanile [in Florence, Italy], and I said, "Do
you know what a campanile is?" Of course, the people in class had never heard of
it. I said, "Well, it is a bell tower that kind of stands next to a cathedral. You
certainly know the Leaning Tower of Pisa?" Most had never heard of it. I said,
"That is where Galileo dropped his balls out the window." I think I set a record. We
had to call the class off. The first class that I had in 1935, that nineteenth-century
English literature class, had a beautiful girl sitting right in the middle of the front row.
She was the wife of somebody, although no students were married in those days.
P: There were about a hundred women on campus by the end of the 1930s. Now, when
you came back, the first thing, of course, that impacted the university was the GI
Bill, so there was this sudden explosion of students on the campus.
C: Yes, I had forgotten that.
P: And there was no place to teach them and no place to house them, so all these
temporary buildings arrived.
C: And George Baughman [business manager] got us all the temporary buildings. Did he
P: He did it, yes.
C: He has a nice house now out on the golf course.
P: That is what I understand. We got all those temporaries from [Camp] Blanding and from
the WAC center over in Lake City and all of those wonderful places, and Flavets
came into being. All the temporary buildings remained on campus for a very long
time. What did you teach when you returned?
C: I taught C5 and C3 and one upper-division course of some kind. Now, I had gotten
interested in philosophy--I think I always had been--because the problem of my
dissertation was not really scientific but theological and philosophical, because that
is what poets were. I think George Fox had, by that time, been teaching some
philosophy and was made chairman of philosophy in the press after the war. He let
me teach a philosophy course and so on, so I got involved in that. So sometimes
the upper-division course that I would be teaching would be a philosophy course,
not an English course.
P: The old order was changing here. Dr. Tigert was moving off the scene into retirement.
Dean [H. Harold] Hume, you remember, was acting president for a short while.
C: He was a fine man.
P: Yes. And then he was succeeded, of course, by J. Hillis Miller, who came in late 1947
or early 1948 and who stayed on as president until his death in November 1953.
C: He was a fine man, too.
P: You became a full professor in 1949. Were promotions in those years dependent upon
publication and service and classroom performance in the way they have been in
more recent years?
C: Not in the way they have been, no. I am sure we will get to this when we get to my
administrative experiences, but the world that I grew up in was very informal in
those things. That is, the dean and the committee would examine a person that
they knew, look at the things he had done, and decide whether they thought he
ought to be promoted or ought not to be. Now, of course, we have a string of
committees and various devices for making that a more-exact judgment, if it is that.
Of course, I did have a book which came out in the year I was promoted to full
professor. Cosmic Optimism was published in 1949.
P: Was that your dissertation?
C: Well, it was substantially my dissertation. It was somewhat improved and developed.
P: Who published it?
C: University of Florida Press.
P: When did you begin to slip into the administration?
C: When I got hungry. [laughter]
P: You are still mainly completely faculty throughout the 1940s.
C: Yes. L. E. Grinter [dean, Graduate School] probably had more to do with it than anyone
else. L. E. and Dr. Miller, I think, were the two people more than anybody else who
oriented the University according to a national standard rather than the state and
local view that I think had prevailed earlier in my experience here. Well, L. E. came
in as dean of the Graduate School, and what he wanted to do was to have a
Graduate Council which was not simply representative of the different power units
on the campus but to consist of people who were willing and able to change things
to improve the standards of scholarship. How he decided I would fit into this, I am
not sure, but he got me appointed to the Graduate Council. Then he needed an
assistant dean, and he made me an assistant dean.
P: But does that come at the end of the 1950s? I have the date there of 1958 that you
became the assistant dean of the Graduate School.
C: Well, yes, going that far.
P: I would like you to fill in those years between 1949 and 1958.
C: I am not sure that I can except for that single item of the membership in the Graduate
Council. I do not think that there is much of anything that I could say--and I thought
back over this--that I was accomplishing in a public way that would justify anything.
The book and maybe the service on the Graduate Council might, but I was teaching
a lot of things and working like a dog. It often happens, I think, in the academic
world that your real education is not the one that other teachers gave you but that
you get yourself, because you have to have it to meet classes the next day on
subjects that you are learning faster than they are. This was true, for example, with
teaching C5. They played music, art, philosophy, history, and I was interested in all
of them. So I was doing a lot of work in those days, but [there was] not really much
in a formal way to show for it.
P: But you had to stay ahead of your students, so you had to do a lot of reading?
C: Yes, and I do not mean just enough to stagger through, because I wanted to know those
subjects. The center of my interest has been and still is the history of ideas, and
this brings in any one of the things in a course like C5 or C2, for that matter.
P: Did you and Grinter know each other before Grinter arrived on campus?
C: I never knew anything about him.
P: What do you think attracted you to him?
C: I do not think anything did. I think that was it--nothing. I
was glad to work for him or
P: Do you think that he had read your book and that, because you were talking about ideas
C: What he saw in me I do not know. I felt that he was a person of great ability. I think he
was a pain in the ass often. But there is no question of his ability and what he did
for the University.
P: He pushed the University considerably?
P: The only thing that the University had really
before the war was Phi Beta Kappa.
C: Yes, and this is the kind of thing that you
done to achieve any kind of recognition
expect as kind of a minimum for a fine
P: But the University was not satisfied with just those kinds of things after World War II.
C: No. Miller and Grinter--Miller in New York state and Grinter in the Midwest--had seen
the big leagues. They knew what it was, and they wanted to do it here.
P: What about Dr. Miller? Were you close to him?
C: Not at all. I scarcely knew him.
P: So you had no chance to discuss any of your concepts. He did not call you in and ask
for your opinion about growth or development or change?
P: Your links, then, with the upper echelons, the administrative echelons, were almost
non-existent in those years, were they not?
C: Except through membership on the Graduate Council and other committee work. I
cannot remember what that would be, but I was not and did not have any desire to
be in the middle of the administrative picture.
P: What about you and Grinter? Would you discuss things with him? Did he call upon you
for your opinions and ideas?
C: Oh, yes. I do not think he ever took them. No, he was the kind of person who made up
his mind. He liked to talk with other people about it, but his mind did not change
P: Was he looking for people to support his point of view?
C: Not quite in that sense. That would imply that he was uncertain and needed the support
of others. L. E. had an ego that allowed him to reach conclusions, and he knew
they were right. Now, he was not impractical about that, but he was not hesitant.
P: You referred to him as sometimes a pain.
C: Yes. Oh, yes.
P: What do you mean by that? [Was he] a difficult person to get along with?
C: No, he was always agreeable, but he would be rather cold and arrogant sometimes. I
suppose one thing that sometimes bothered me was that he was too thoroughly
convinced that he knew exactly how everything should be done, and it did not seem
to me it was altogether that clear. I am trying to think of an example. I can
remember this kind of thing: if we would be talking about some problem like the
foreign language requirement in graduate education and I raised some questions,
he would be likely to say, "I cleared my mind on that subject a long time ago, and
what I have concluded is this," and he would state something very beautifully clear.
But it did not seem to be that simple, and we differed in that respect. But I liked him,
and I had great respect for his powers. I think he did an immense amount of good,
although often riding roughshod over people's sensibilities.
He went for one semester to the University of Hawaii. I think maybe they were looking him
over for president. At any rate, he taught there for a year and left me in charge. Not
quite in charge. I was not acting dean. They had some other words for it that did
not have as much authority. But I saw an awful lot of people who had had it up to
here with the Graduate School and wanted somebody they could tell it to. So they
would make an appointment and come over to the office.
P: You were a Dear Abby.
C: Right. They would tell me how terrible things were.
P: Now, throughout the 1950s you still are a faculty person teaching in the English
department. Were you and Jo able to do any traveling then?
C: No. Of course, we had the children for one, but we had the cottage on the Jersey coast,
as I said had been Jo's mother's. Jo had been going to it since 1923, and I had
been going to it since before we were married. We would have a month off as
administrators every year. That is where we would go, so we did not do any
traveling in the sense of European travel or educational travel.
P: Where did you live in Gainesville after the war?
C: 6th Place. Do you know where Paul Moore lives?
C: It is just off 22nd Street on 6th Place.
P: Oh, I know where it is.
C: It is land that Ed Price owned.
P: You built the house, or you bought it?
C: We bought it from Mrs. Broom. There was a builder who built a lot of houses in
Gainesville who built it and the one across the street. It was $7,900, and I had to
get a $5,400 mortgage. M. M. Parrish's father did not think I could pay if off in
twenty years. He insisted that it be twenty-five years, and it was 4.25 percent.
P: Those are the romantic days of the past.
Let us move ahead now to your moving up officially to the Graduate School. That came at
the end of the 1950s. Are we leaving anything out of the story that needs to go in
C: I probably wrote down somewhere that my appointment to Graduate School was 1958,
but I am not sure. It started out this way. L. E. called Archie on the phone and said,
"I would like to use Fred half time." And Archie said okay.
P: Did Grinter talk with you?
C: I am sure that he had, or I am sure that he may have come about it the other way
around, that he called me and said: "I talked with Archie to see if I could get you for
half time, and he said it would be all right. Would it be all right with you? You would
be assistant dean," and so on. So that is how that happened.
P: And he told you about some money.
C: Yes. What, I do not know.
P: So you moved to Grinter Hall?
C: Well, I moved to Grinter Hall for half the week, anyhow.
P: And the rest of the time?
C: I never had an office of my own. I did not get an office of my own until I became a dean.
P: You came back to a shared office after the war?
C: Yes. [Thomas] Walter Herbert [professor, English] and I shared an office for a long
P: You shared one with Ed Moore first and now with Walter Herbert. And now you are
sharing one with L. E. Grinter, perhaps. What were your responsibilities as the
assistant dean in the graduate school, besides listening to all these sad tales?
C: You know, Sam, it is hard for me to answer that. You know, if I could just get Jimmy
Perkins in the corner, I am sure I could find out. She knew more than anybody else.
P: She ran the school?
C: Yes. I am sure there must have been some regular things, but I do not know what they
P: Really what I think I would like to ask you or find out is were you involved in
policy-making yet on that level as assistant dean, or were you carrying out decisions
that Dean Grinter had made?
C: Well, mostly the latter, of course, but on some matters that would come up in the
graduate council, it would be not uncommon for L. E. to say, "Now, what do you
think about that?" particularly if it was something that he was not terribly
sympathetic towards, like the language examination.
P: What kind of a graduate program did we have here at the University by comparison to,
let us say, other southern schools, on a score of one to ten, in the end of the 1950s?
C: Well, if the comparison is with Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, I would
say we were just about the same. If it is Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, they were
ahead of us.
P: Had there been considerable improvement in the library as a result of the growth of the
C: Yes. We were getting money now. One of the first big things--this was, I thought, an
instance of L. E.'s abilities--he was able to get money from the president for his
P: But did that come a little bit later?
C: I do not know just when it came. I thought the question was about his contribution.
P: Yes, yes.
C: This was a major factor in the upping of the quality of the graduate program. It was
done for just that purpose. His view was, the best way to improve a graduate
program is to get some really good people and put them in it, and the others will try
to catch up.
P: Now, J. Wayne Reitz, who had been provost of agriculture here, moves into the
presidency. Did that change anything as far as you remember it? You are moving
from a man like Miller--New York, sophisticated, the big view--to J. Wayne Reitz,
who comes out of this agricultural background.
C: It may have caused some. I am sure it probably must have, but not as much as one
might think. Wayne had around him people like Grinter and faculty members and
the propaganda for quality that had taught him. And the institution's inertia of
movement was already in the direction of improving quality. So it was not like going
back to something different from before.
P: There was not backtracking, then? It was a continuing movement forward?
C: In principle, yes.
P: Of course, some things were happening in the state. First of all we were getting a new
university in south Florida--the University of South Florida comes into existence
during the 1950s. The change is beginning in terms of population and growth in
south Florida and political pressure. All of this, of course, was to be a dangerous
thing from the University of Florida's point of view. Were you as a faculty person,
now becoming in some ways a senior faculty person, and others conscious of this
C: I knew about it intellectually--I could do the arithmetic--but I did not feel anything
happening that was threatening to me. It entered my life really more when I got to
Birmingham, where I was in just the opposite position. Here I had been in the old
institution defending us because we have quality and so on, and there I was in the
new institution, an urban institution, saying there is a vacuum here that you must fill.
It seemed ironic to me. I thought things moved pretty smoothly.
P: What do you remember of the kinds of political pressures that were exerted on the
University and faculty in the 1950s: the necessity to fingerprint, for instance, and
take the oath?
C: Those things seemed to be more symbols than anything else. I have thought from the
very beginning that the University of Florida has been more subject to political
interference than is good for it or than is true in good universities, usually, as it is
now. It seems that the legislature would like to draw up the curriculum.
P: But you remember that John Reynolds [assistant professor, social sciences] got caught
up in that nasty business in the beginning of the 1950s.
C: I remember that. It was personally bitter and nasty, but it was not something that was
close to home.
P: What do you remember about the John's Committee?
C: I had forgotten about the John's Committee.
P: It was active here at the end of the 1950s.
C: I remember. Since I was in that office over there, I have seen many of the documents.
P: And the infamous John's Committee Report was published in 1963.
C: Now, what is the question?
P: My question is, what do you remember of the John's Committee? You were here as a
C: I remember, of course, principally, that there were a number of people involved in it who
were close friends of mine and about whom I had had no suspicions. Of course, the
campus hummed with gossip about it.
P: Now, the first search, and the reason for the committee's being set up, was to find out if
there were communists or socialists, so the first investigation started there. It was
not successful in terms that there were no communists or socialists on our campus
to speak of. Then it moved into the homosexual investigation. Now, do you
remember any kind of activity going on, not individuals, but I mean the investigation
itself as far as your department was concerned, as far as the college was
C: No, what I remember is echoes of it and talk about it. Everybody was talking about it.
Everybody knew the essentials.
P: And, of course, it was in the newspaper.
C: And yet it was not something that I was involved in or that I was close to. I knew a lot of
these people, and some of them I liked. But that side of their lives was just a
surprise to me.
P: Do you feel that it damaged substantially the University as a result of this?
C: It did at the time, I am sure. I do not think it did permanently.
P: What brought about your move after 1961 from Gainesville to Alabama?
P: How did all of this come about? Were you just suddenly called one day?
C: I had been invited to Tuscaloosa to be looked at for chairman of the English department.
I turned it down because when I looked at the whole picture it looked as if I would
be better off here. Then two or three months later the phone rang, and it was Frank
Rose, the president of the University of Alabama, saying: "Would you be interested
in being dean of our College of Arts and Sciences? I do not want you to tell me
unless you really are serious about it, because I do not want to get my faculty (you
know what the line would be) in an uproar." I said I was interested. As I said, it was
for almost twice what I was making, even though it still was not very much money.
It looked like a lot then. So Jo and I went up, were interviewed, said yes, and there
P: I mean, just like that.
C: I have always said the secret of my success was my weak character: somebody asks
me to do something, and I do it.
P: So it came about just like that. You had no aversions to leaving Gainesville?
C: I did. Some people were anxious that I should not leave. Dick Johnson [registrar] was.
One of the pleasanter parts of my job in the graduate office was dealing with Dick--
though Jimmy Perkins was the only one who could really deal with him. But I would
have to go down to get something done, and I would get there about two in the
afternoon and leave about five. Dick is as funny as could be, as you know. He
gave me quite an extended talk on the subject of the black rights problem in
Alabama being, of course, worse than it was here. But I still decided that it would be
a good thing to do, and I did it. And I am glad I did.
P: That is a question I wanted to raise with you. You get there in 1961, which is right at the
moment George Wallace is standing in the door, with the integration of the
University of Alabama. So you walk right into that hodgepodge of activity.
C: Yes, and some of it was bitter. The standing in the door was largely a charade.
P: Of course. Autherine Lucy was already enrolled at that point.
C: Yes. I thought Vivian Malone was the name of the girl. Autherine Lucy had been
enrolled but dropped out. That was in the 1950s. In the 1960s there was Vivian
Malone--she was the girl who was taken in--and the boy. One of the most heroic
people that I know that I have ever seen was Vivian Malone. There she was on this
large campus just with antipathy all around her, as dignified, as unafraid, as
imperturbable as you can imagine. She went to everything. If there was a concert,
she was there. The guts that woman had, I swear, I have never seen anything I
have admired so much.
Now, the boy was a nice guy, but he wanted to please people. When he was on the
campus, he said what people on the campus wanted to hear. When he went back
home, he said what people back home wanted to hear. It did not jibe. And he had
personal troubles; he had a nervous breakdown and so on. I think he went to
Detroit. But those things were going on.
P: What advice did you give to your faculty?
C: I did not have to give any. The president gave advice, and most of the faculty was
already much better acquainted with the situation than I was. Most of them were, I
thought, right thinking on the matter. They were not like the Alabama
segregationists who were coming from the rubber tire factory.
P: Did you consider yourself a man of courage if you had had to face a particular problem?
C: I do not know what I would have done.
P: Now, before you ever left to go to Tuscaloosa, we began having some problems here.
In 1957 we admitted the first black to the law school, a man from Orlando who
dropped out. Then in 1959 we had a black woman, Daphne Duval, beginning here.
I think she was taking some graduate courses in education. The integration of the
University on the graduate level had begun as a result of the federal court order in
1957. Now, do you recall any of these things happening in terms of the graduate
school becoming involved?
C: No. I am sure that it must have been, but I think that their policy would have been--and I
think mine would have been too--that the less you do about a thing like this, the
better off you are. You have to be ready to do something in case it is demanded,
but try not to make an issue of it.
P: So this was also your philosophy in Tuscaloosa.
C: It would have been, yes.
P: The president is running the school and setting the policy?
C: Well, it is not simply that. If black students have been admitted to the university, just act
as if this is the way it is supposed to be. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Actually, as I
have said, in the early 1960s I would not have had much to do with it because I was
too new on the campus, and relatively little was needed. When Wallace stood in the
door, for example, the president's word to the deans was: "Stay in your offices. I do
not want you down there." And I was doing what any good dean should do: I was
sitting in my office figuring out why we needed more money than we had.
P: Of course, you are there at this critical time in the history of Alabama, 1961 to 1966, so it
goes beyond just Wallace standing in the doorway. There was a lot of political
resistance to integration, perhaps as much in that state as any other southern state.
C: Oh, yes. Now, it was largely legalism, the fights about nullification and the like rather
than physical action. Now, there was physical action, and it affected me really not
so much on the campus as in another place. In the Presbyterian church were some
black students who came from Stillman College, and they threw them out. I was not
there, but I think it left a permanent mark on my son Jim. He was a radical from
then on. I did not see much of that, but Jo did because she is a better church goer
than I am. She has a lot of good stories about it, particularly about a marine general
who was a member of the Department of History who would not allow it to go on.
What they wanted to do was not pass the plate to the blacks, but that was not his
P: So you were not leading any battles during the time that you were there. What brought
you back to Gainesville in 1966?
C: Wayne [Reitz] called me.
P: Once again out of the blue?
C: Out of the blue. Well, it has a preface. I had been invited to the University of Miami by
Jack Harrison and ... What was his name, the chemist, big guy?
P: I know the person you are talking about. Both of them had been here.
C: Yes. They wanted me to be dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I went down and
decided against it. But Wayne apparently heard about it. He called and said: "I
understand that you have been down to the University of Miami. That indicates to
me that you might possibly be willing to leave the University of Alabama. What
would you think of being vice-president?" Well, that is a good job that is worth
considering, so I did. Now, there is one little thing. Wayne, I think, intended to
leave at that time.
P: He had already made the decision and announced his decision to leave.
C: Well, I did not know that, but I think he thinks I did. I can tell you it came as a blow to
me when he left, because a vice-president in a university is in a very weak position if
the president who appoints him leaves. A new president is going to come in who is
probably going to want his own vice-president.
P: You might not have accepted the invitation to return had you known that?
C: I might not have, that is true. On the other hand, everything worked out all right. I am
sure that Wayne thought I did know. I have no resentment about it.
P: What did he offer you in terms of money?
C: I cannot remember.
P: More than you were getting as Alabama, presumably.
C: Yes, but not all that much more.
P: Who did you succeed in that office?
C: Harry Philpott. You see, originally when I came there were two vice-presidents. One
was Bob Mautz, vice-president for academic affairs, and then there was the other
vice-president, the title of which was not very clear. It could be called executive
vice-president, but whether it was that or not I do not know. When Harry held the
job, for quite a while he was the only vice-president; the University only had one.
But I worked in that position for two years and did not like it very much. Then when
Steve [O'Connell] came [as president] and Bob was appointed chancellor, I asked
Steve if he could see his way clear to appointing me academic vice-president. I was
really much more interested in the academic side of universities and not the
business and political side.
P: And he was agreeable to that?
C: And he did that.
P: Now, what were your responsibilities as executive vice-president?
C: I was not quite sure. Almost everybody who held that job had the same problem, you
did not really know what you were supposed to do. Every time you did do
something, you were a little confused as to the standard it was to be judged by,
whether you had done what you felt was right or whether you had done what the
president would think was right. For the most part you were just the right arm of the
P: More than a flunky, though?
C: Oh, yes.
P: Were you involved in helping with the policy-making decisions?
C: I would say yes.
P: When you came, Reitz was still sitting as president?
P: Did he consult with you frequently and often?
C: Not very often really, because I was new in a situation in which he already knew how
P: He was old and you were new in terms of that operation.
C: He almost had to think up a question, but he would assign things to me from time to
P: Did you have any responsibility as a lobbyist in Tallahassee at the time the legislature
was in session?
P: Were you involved in fund raising for the University or alumni relations?
P: Did you work with the deans on the college? Of course, Mautz was the academic dean,
so you had no responsibilities there.
C: No. Specifically, there was no defined set of responsibilities. There were a lot of little
things. For instance, you will remember the president in those days had a personal
fund that was the profits from the coke machines. It was a considerable sum of
money and was used by Wayne, I thought, very wisely and usefully. He turned that
over to me. I remember one other problem was the establishment of rules for the
use of human subjects in research. This involved, of course, a lot of different
departments and a lot of negotiation, a lot of statement and restatement and so on.
He asked me to work on that. Sure, he would want to know in the end anything
radically new that was proposed to do. But I did that kind of thing.
P: Was it largely a ceremonial type of position, a ribbon cutting type of thing?
C: No, it was a waiting kind of thing. After all, I was Wayne's vice-president, but he was not
going to be here very long. He is a kind of do-it-yourself person, in any case. I did
not like the job.
P: It did not keep you busy enough?
C: Yes, that is one way of putting it.
P: You are basically an ideas man--at least that was your academic background and
C: Yes, probably not an administrator.
P: Yes, and you moved into an administrative position where you really do not have very
much call to think, in an ill- defined area.
C: Now, I am not the only one who had this problem in this job. Almost everybody has had
P: And has it. I am not so sure it has changed even that much today.
C: Yes. Who is in it now?
P: Who is our vice-president?
C: Oh, I do not think there is any.
P: No, we do not have that anymore. [Marshall] Criser [UF president, 1984-1989] did that.
C: Harry Sisler [Stephen C. O'Connell's vice-president] had a heart attack, because it made
him more impatient.
P: And John Nattress [executive vice-president to President Robert Q. Marston] had it.
C: Nattress, I think, did the best job on it. Harold Hanson [executive vice-president to
President Robert Q. Marston prior to Nattress] had it and I think experienced some
of these same things.
P: But I agree with you. It is an ill-defined position, at least as I view it from the outside.
Nobody really knows what the vice-president is supposed to be doing, and you
probably were more sensitive to that than anybody else. Did you ever think that
perhaps you had made the wrong decision in leaving Tuscaloosa and coming to the
University of Florida?
C: No, I really did not. I do not fret much about things like that. I am not terribly ambitious.
I am glad to take what steps upward and forward I can, or that are offered to me.
As I said, with a weak character, if somebody else asks you to do something, you
just say yes.
P: Well, it seems to me you have gotten some very lucky breaks, because you have
moved up the academic and administrative ladder.
C: I am about to move down, however, because I moved down from the job that I had here
to the job that I had in Birmingham.
P: I know, but before you do that, you become the vice-president for academic affairs,
which has always been considered the second most powerful position at the
University of Florida. Was it the second most powerful position when you had it?
C: I think so.
P: More so than Grinter?
C: Well, Grinter is, of course ...
P: He is dean of the Graduate School.
C: And nominally I was his boss. But realistically I was not, and did not need to be,
because I knew what he was doing. I approved what he was doing, and he kept his
eye pretty much on his own business in the Graduate School.
P: When you took over that position, had Mautz left it in pretty good shape for you?
P: Was it a well-defined position? Did you know what you were doing and what your
C: Not really. None of those positions are clearly defined, it seems to me, in the sense that
you have something that you can write out and say you do this, this, this and this.
P: There is no job description?
C: No. You answer your mail in the morning, and God knows what might be in it. There
will be requests and proposals, and you agree or disagree, depending on what is in
P: How did you relate to the deans on the campus?
C: Personally, I thought very well. I did not have any fights with any of them.
P: Did you have any control or supervision over the health center?
C: This is a good question.
P: There are the colleges there, the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, all with
deans. I am presuming you had nothing to do with the operation of Shands Hospital
or anything like that. I am really asking you about the academic programs.
C: I know the answer. I am just trying to think of how it ought to be said. Actually, the
same problem is arising in Birmingham right now, because they have a medical
center that is even more powerful than ours. But the answer is that I had control in
respect to academic appointments and in respect to academic curricula. After all,
this is largely nominal, because they are rich, they are powerful, and the questions
are really not very urgent. That is, if the dean of the College of Medicine wants to
do such and such with his curriculum, if there are formalities to be met in the way of
curriculum committees, that has to be done. I am not likely to disagree with the
dean. So there is a lot of the superiority that is nominal rather than actual.
Now, it comes up sometimes. For instance, I was chairman of the committee to appoint a
provost of medicine. Was he called that, or was he called vice-president? I cannot
remember. When we appointed Ed Ackell [provost, J. Hillis Miller Health Center]
there was a fairly bitter internal division on that. But in the position that I held, I had
the power to turn it in the direction of Ed Ackell and did. IFAS [Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences], of course, is a case of the same thing.
P: I was going to ask you about how you related to IFAS.
C: It is the same in that there is a great deal of it that is simply nominal. Now, there is
authority, though, if you feel you must use it. Bob has used it a great deal.
P: Well, Bob is provost, so he really had a larger responsibility.
C: Well, when they use the title, I liked the title, but I could not see what there was in the
new title that made the job any different than it was before.
P: Well, it was explained that he had much more control over IFAS and the medical center.
That is the reason I was raising what it was like in the 1960s as compared with
what it is like in the 1980s.
C: Well, he may have it. But if he has it is because of the personal strength that he
exercises rather than any kind of a job, because nominally, in academic matters, the
various colleges in the medical center and in IFAS were responsible to the vice-
president for academic affairs. That is what he was, vice-president for academic
affairs, and so far as those are involved in academic affairs, they report to him.
P: Did you and Stephen C. O'Connell get along well?
C: Fine. I admired Steve.
P: He was an easy person to work with?
C: Yes, he was kindly and thoughtful and restrained and utterly courageous.
P: What about your relationship with Mautz? He was the chancellor in Tallahassee, but he
had held this position. Did you get any pressure? I was wondering whether he was
telling you what or how to do anything.
C: No, he did not.
P: I am not really thinking so much about Mautz personally as the chancellor's office trying
to direct curriculum and academic activities at the University of Florida. Was there
that kind of pressure from Tallahassee then? There seems to be an increasing
amount of it today.
C: I would guess that it is all over the country. I know it is happening in Alabama just as it
is here. The administrative road is that of centralization, and chancellors are
increasing their power and increasingly attempting to appoint vice-presidents and
presidents that they control. That is what [Charles] Reed [chancellor, State
University System] is after right now.
P: Yes, if we can read the papers right.
You were here, too, as academic vice-president at the time the big civil rights problems and
Vietnam problems explode on this campus. What role did you play there? That
became somewhat violent for the first time in our history, at the end of the 1960s,
the early 1970s. They took over Tigert Hall.
C: Well, lots of things [happened], some of them tangential. [They were] tangential
because the real central figure, of course, was the president. He was the one they
wanted to deal with, because he was the one who had the authority to get
something done or to live through a situation. Of course, all kinds of things
happened, such as bodies all over the floor of the second floor of Tigert Hall and
things of that kind. I had won a closer connection with a fragment of it, of course, in
the Marshall Jones things. This was in Wayne's time, but it dealt with some of the
principles, not of segregation but of political action. But I was involved in all of the
meetings and discussions, things of that kind which we had to do. But if there were
a statement to be issued or an action to be taken, it would be the president's with
my advice and the advice of others around his rather than my doing it on my own.
P: Now, of course, they were unhappy with your office because the blacks felt that your
office had not done enough student and faculty recruiting. There were not enough
blacks in either of those areas.
C: Yes, and, of course, we were always trying to increase and improve the recruitment of
P: Of course, they charged that that was just a charade. That does not necessarily mean
that it was true.
C: No, it does not. We hired Tom Cole [dean of Academic Affairs for Instructional Service],
who was the right color. Now, that was not long before I left.
P: No, it was right at the time you were leaving in 1971. All of these explosions were as
much the Vietnam situation as it was the black students. Now, the blacks, of
course, had revolted, had been taken off to jail, all of those things. You remember
they left almost en masse. But the real trouble in terms of the street revolt comes
with Vietnam, and maybe that was after you had already departed from Gainesville.
C: I know Tom was somewhat disturbed when he learned I was going to leave, because I
had hired him. It is a little like me and Wayne: he was a little apprehensive, as if his
friend was leaving. Actually, it did not work out that way.
P: Because he is still here, or I guess this is his retirement year.
C: Yes. I went to the retirement party they had for him a while ago.
P: What about the [Faculty] Union. That also comes onto our campus.
C: I have had nothing to do with that. I think Harold Hanson had most to do with that after I
left. I do not think the union even existed until after I left.
P: So that came after 1971. That is true. That was during the Marston period that the
union comes. What drew you back to Alabama? Are you going to say "money"
P: A challenge; you are supposed to say a challenge.
C: No, I cannot do that. It does not fit with my philosophy. [laughter] One was a heart
attack which was serious enough to require that I stay home for three months. Two,
just as I had concluded (not quite as much) that the executive vice-presidency was
not my meat, I thought less and less that the academic vice-presidency was. In
fact, all of Tigert Hall seemed to me to be about as far removed from the actualities
of education as you could get.
P: John Eldridge [professor of economics] always referred to it as the Kremlin: it was not
easy to get in or to get out.
C: Those things, plus sheer chance, as chance runs through quite a few of these things.
You see, when I was in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama in Birmingham was
simply an extension center of the home institution, so I already knew a great deal
about the Birmingham situation and knew the people. I knew the director very well.
He called me because he was looking for a chairman of what he called his Division
of Humanities. And just the same day, or at least the same week, the legislature
had changed the rules of retirement so that the age that I had just achieved was
exactly the right age for good benefits in retirement. So I said, "George, what about
me?" He kind of did a double take, and he said, "Well, let me look into this." So I
discussed it with him, and again I am glad I did this. I enjoyed it there.
P: So you took your retirement at the University of Florida and went off there to the
University of Alabama in Birmingham, which in a way was a new university as of
C: That was the beauty of it. People sometimes used to ask me how I found the University
of Alabama and the University of Florida, how they were alike and different. I said
that working at the University of Alabama was like working at a plantation. If you
wanted to do something, you asked the boss. If he said yes, you did it; if he said
no, you did not do it. But working at the University of Florida was like working for
the United States Navy. If you want to do something, you fill out some papers and
you have a committee meeting.
P: That is a marvelous way of describing it. I had not heard that one before. [laughter]
C: As I have already indicated, it is the academic world--the world of learning--that I like,
and there was an opportunity to go back to it. And to do things. This was a virgin
institution. You could make it.
P: What departments were under your supervision there?
C: English, philosophy, art, music, and foreign languages. History was not; history was in
the social sciences.
P: All the things you really loved.
C: Sure. What could be nicer? And I was able to do a lot of things there.
P: So you went off the Birmingham with a damaged heart, a retirement check in your
pocket, and whatever they gave you at your retirement dinner here, whatever that
C: A gold watch, probably.
P: No, maybe the president's medal. That costs less.
C: Well, it was a nice dinner. I enjoyed it.
P: I have forgotten where it was.
C: It was in the Reitz Union, the third floor place.
P: I may have been there.
C: You probably were.
P: I go to lots of retirement dinners.
C: When I came to the University of Florida there were 2,800 students.
P: There were that many?
C: In 1935. I do not know. I got this figure out of an old annual report.
P: I do not think there were quite that many, but that does not make any difference.
C: When I left the University of Florida in 1971 there were 2,800 faculty members.
P: Do not tell me you took credit for all of that, Fred Conner. [laughter] How long did you
stay in Birmingham?
C: From 1971 till when resigned the deanship about 1976 or 1977. I am a lifetime
P: You were given emeritus there, were you not?
C: Yes. That [in itself] is something. The board does not give you a certificate.
P: Oh, they put your picture on there. Did they give you an office when you retired there?
C: No, I did not ever have an office.
P: I know you do not have an office, but I am talking about the real people, the real faculty
people. You kept your house here in Gainesville, and you were delighted to come
back. I think that is kind of interesting in itself, that you intended to come back here.
C: Well, Gainesville is a nice place to live.
P: Of course.
C: And I had no intention of staying there. I was sixty-two when I went there.
P: When you went where? Back to Tuscaloosa?
C: No, back to Birmingham. You do not want to try to build yourself a new life. If I came
back here I knew almost everybody in town anyhow.
P: And everybody knew you.
P: And you were moving right back into your old house, which was a smart thing, as you
are the first one to admit. Now, you said you had a heart attack. When was that?
C: I think probably 1969.
P: Did that just come on suddenly one day?
C: Yes. I was taking a shower in the morning. I got this pain that did not go away, and I
got to the phone and got some help. In those days they did not operate as freely as
they do now. But then, of course, I had them later on and had a by-pass.
P: I was going to say, it certainly was not very fatal. You have survived twenty years.
C: Actually, I have been healthier since then. Of course, you tend to take better care of
yourself. Well, look what you did, walking five miles a day and so on. The first thing
I knew, Sam Proctor looked like an athlete.
P: Did you smoke?
C: I had quit. That was a funny thing. When I was in the navy, my brother was a doctor
and was on a hospital ship, the Tranquillity, which was coming out to the Pacific for
the Japanese invasion (which never came off). It put in at Pearl Harbor and met
him at the officers club, and we were having a couple of drinks. He said: "You
know, something funny has happened. The statistics seem to point to some kind of
a close relationship between lung cancer and cigarette smoking. It used to be when
I would go to medical meetings the rooms would be blue with smoke. But now I
look around and about half the doctors have quit." That was the first I had heard of
it. This was way back in middle 1940s, but it sure was true.
P: And you had also survived the tragedy of your son's death, which was a sad time in your
C: Yes. That you do not get over fast.
P: When did that happen?
C: It was just after I came back here in 1966,1 guess about 1967.
P: Not quite twenty-five years ago.
C: We see his wife fairly frequently. She married a real nice guy, a doctor, and named one
of her children after Jo.
P: So you come back now to the life of the leisurely rich, to Gainesville. You moved back
C: We moved back here ... Well, it is getting close to ten years now. Nobody in my family
every lived beyond seventy, and I am eighty now.
P: And you are going strong.
C: I keep expecting that this will be the last decade.
P: You came back when?
C: [We came] back to Gainesville in 1977 or maybe 1978. Where did you get all of these
P: Oh, from a lot of secret sources I have. We do not give out all that information in the
oral history office. [laughter] Now, what have you been doing since?
C: I write a fair amount. Much of it does not get anywhere so far as public acclaim is
concerned, but after all I am not seeking promotion.
P: Or tenure.
C: Or tenure. I told retired faculty I am going to give them a talk in December on the
question of what happened to liberalism. Why am I doing this? Because I love to
find things out, and there are all those interesting books to read, and I just see if I
cannot get to things. L. E. Grinter used to have an expression: "I cleared my mind
on that subject a long time age." Well, what I am attempting to do is clear my mind
of it. I have done one on aesthetics, I have written about Santayana, and I have
written about Suzanne Langer. You know, some of it gets published; some of it
does not. But I like it, and every morning I get up and read and write. Every
afternoon, if I can, I play golf. Every night I watch television or listen to music, or
read. What could be nicer?
P: I was going to say, I am very envious of that kind of life that you lead.
C: Do you do much the same thing yourself?
P: No. I teach. I have not retired. I do all of the things I did twenty years ago.
Would you say you have lived a full and satisfying life, Fred?
C: Oh, God, yes. And as you have said, a lucky life. I have been incredibly lucky. Almost
everything I have done I have been glad I did.
P: Including getting the right kind of wife.
C: Exactly. She is and was a gem.
P: Now, how long have you been married?
C: Fifty-four or fifty-five years--something like that.
P: That is a long time. You can hardly remember when you were not married.
C: Well, I sure would do it over again. Now, if I can just get Jo back from Spain without the
airplane falling down ...
P: What do you think about as you look into the future now? I mean, you are eighty years
C: I take a dim view of the future.
P: You think the young people have gone completely to hell with themselves?
C: Many of them have, and the older people as well. That is through some of the policies
that have been followed and that are being followed.
P: Are you a political person?
C: Not in some ways. Not in the way of being emotionally engaged and wanting to fight
about political causes and hating one side and loving the other. But I am a political
person in the sense that I find it fascinating to study. I get The New York Times
about five days a week. All the people who do that are political junkies.
P: They want to know what is going on in the world.
P: Do you consider yourself a spectator at the things that are going on in the world and in
the country? You are not ready to pick up the fight?
C: In a sense, yes. Not because I admire that role as compared with the activist, as some
people do. But it seems to be my temperament.
P: Why do you have a dim feeling about the future?
C: Population, environment, foolish finance.
P: What about a University like this? Do you think, as you look at it, we are doing a good
job of educating our kids and getting them ready for life?
C: I do not know about that. That is one of the things that I notice is that I really do not
know what is going on in the University, because I have not had a real connection
with it in nearly twenty years. Even now that I am back here it is a casual
connection. I think the University of Florida probably, all things considered, is doing
a very good job considering all the problems that it has--and they are immense. It is
not the kind of University I like: it is too big. I have a good friend who is now
president of Wake Forest and has been for about five or six years. That is the size
institution I like. He is doing a hell of a good job.
P: But this University was never that small during the times after the 1930s.
C: No. This is a horse of another color. The big state universities are just going to be
bigger than that. I think it is probably the times that make it that big and not
somebody's mistake. There are just all those people there who need education,
and somebody has to do it.
P: They are pounding on the door.
C: And there are a lot of bright ones.
P: Fred, what have we not said here?
C: The two things I thought that you probably would want to bore in to but have not are the
Marshall Jones tenure case and the University College.
P: I would like to ask you about the University College, first of all, because we mentioned it
earlier. You made the point that you felt you argued, or urged, the movement of the
University College into the College of Arts and Sciences. That did come about at
the end of the 1970s. Talk about that a little bit.
C: Well, that is not quite what I had in mind. Now, it is true that a lot of the students would
go to the College of Arts and Sciences. It is true in a degree, but simply that there
would not be a University College as such.
P: What did you have against it? Was it the concept?
C: This has always been painful to me because there are so many people in University
College that I admire and who are good friends of mine, and I enjoyed teaching in it
so much. Frank Doty [dean, University College], I think, is one of the finest people
this University has ever had. But I lived many years with a horizontal division of a
subject--as between Jacob Wise [chairman emeritus of Comprehensive Course;
professor emeritus of English] and Archie Robertson [head of English department],
to put it in personal terms, between C3 and C5 on the one hand and the English
Department on the other. And they were constantly fighting each other. I thought it
was bad for both of them and that it was bad probably for a university to divide its
subject matter horizontally rather than along disciplinary lines.
Now, I drew up a proposal. I found when I dug it out of my files that it was about ten pages
single spaced, so I will not attempt to describe it. But you get some sense in it that
there will be a dean of general studies (I forget what the name was). But his
function would be rather like that of the dean of the graduate school, except that in
the way that the dean of the graduate school is concerned with graduate studies, he
would be concerned with general studies. And there would be a considerable
loosening up of the curriculum of the departments that existed. The humanities or
social studies or whatever they might be would continue to exist. They would be
smaller, but that was it. I think the basis of it was my feeling that the seeds of
discord were sowed in a horizontal division.
P: Do you think that was more important than the concept that [President John J.] Tigert
had in setting up the program in the first place, of giving students a basic education
in the social sciences and the humanities their first two years here? In other words,
what you are saying is personality clashes created tension?
C: No, I am saying clashes of interest and organization. I felt that in the plan I proposed,
the opportunity for general education--in fact, the requirement of general education--
would continue to exist in a more-flexible form.
P: General education seems to have relatively disappeared here.
C: When I come back and talk with some people, I have felt maybe I was wrong. Or
maybe I was right. But what was done after I left was wrong. I do not know what
was done, and I have not made much attempt to find out. Before I left, my proposal
was submitted to the [Faculty] Senate, and it was rejected. That is all there was to
P: But there was a lot of faculty and student unhappiness, and certainly unhappiness in the
Tigert Hall, with the University College as it was operating in the 1960s and 1970s.
But very often I find alumni who think about what they got out of those courses who
say, "You know, that was the most valuable course that I had."
C: Particularly C5.
P: And C1, the institutions course. They say, "You made me read things I would not have
read otherwise, and I can remember those better than I can almost anything I took
at the University." I think part of it may have been the fact that there were some bad
teachers in University College; but there were a lot of splendid teachers in University
C: Well, I felt when it was turned down by the senate that that was where, for the time
being, at any rate, I ought to stop. Then, of course, I was gone.
P: Would you have any objections to me making a copy of that report so that we would
have it in the files? It probably does not exist anywhere else.
C: No, that is all right. I know I do not want to fight it over again.
P: No. It will just be in the files now.
C: Well, I am too old worry about that.
P: Let us talk about the Marshall Jones case, because I did miss that. Part of it is that I do
not know enough about the Marshall Jones tenure case, so I would like you to start,
if you are willing to, right from the very beginning of that. You will be the first
interviewee that has really talked about that at all, so we need to get it.
C: Well, I do not know that it is that important.
P: But it is part of the history of the University.
C: Marshall Jones was on the faculty of clinical psychology in the medical school. One
student, I think, had committed suicide, and another had come to some kind of bad
P: Can you give me an approximate date on when he was here?
C: It was when I came back and Wayne was still president.
P: So it would be 1966.
C: Yes. Jones came up for tenure and had been recommended for tenure by his
department and his college. Wayne was bitterly opposed to it.
P: Now, Marshall Jones had come here as a Yale graduate, had he not?
C: I do not know.
P: He was well trained.
C: There was no question of his competence. Wayne and I talked about it a good many
times, and Wayne really felt very strongly about it.
C: I think Wayne really held him responsible for the tragedies. After all, I should not say
things like that with this thing going because I do not know the real reason.
P: You just think that that might have been true without saying anything.
C: Yes, yes. You asked what were my duties. Here was one of them: to think about this
matter. And I wrote out a statement, as I tend to do being a literary type, and gave
a reason why I was not going to vote for tenure. It was based upon a speech that
Jones had given to a local honorary, the gist of which, as I read it, was that you
cannot get action through democratic methods. The only way in a university or
anywhere else that people can get anything done is by rebellion.
P: That was his famous Phi Beta Kappa address, I think.
C: No, it was Kappa Delta.
P: Whatever it was, yes.
C: My view was that a tenure decision is the award of a permanent job because the person
has the qualifications of an intellectual, scholarly, moral, and practical sort. And if he
has assured you that he believes that the only way you can get anything done is by
rebellion, that seemed to me to be reason enough for not granting tenure. You
know what the upshot of that would be. It was picked up immediately as a First
Amendment violation, that a person was being fired for saying the wrong things.
Now, that is the travesty of how I think about it, but this was the gist of it. I gave it to
Wayne, and I guess I wrote it too well, because he read it to the faculty of the
medical school. Then, of course, the fat was in the fire. And it lasted for a long
The last thing I remember was that we had to appear before a committee of the AAUP
[American Association of University Professors] up on DuPont Circle [in
Washington, DC], and Steve did all the talking as the lawyer in the group. The
settlement of it was to deny Jones tenure but to give him, in effect, a year's salary. I
think that is the way it came out. I am sure that this is one thing that a lot of people
think I was wrong about.
P: Did you talk to Jones before you wrote the statement?
P: You purposely did not talk to him?
C: Yes, I guess that would be so. I think my feeling would have been there is nothing to be
learned. I had his speech, and I had read it several times. And I knew the rest of
his record. The question was, should he have a lifetime job?
P: Had he been making public statements that ruffled people's feathers other than this
C: Oh, yes, I am sure he had. I remember one time he gave a speech at the noon hour on
the steps of Tigert Hall right under my window. I do not have any objection to that.
But when I was asked to think that matter out, that was the conclusion I came to,
and it was, especially in those days, not the popular view at all.
P: It was not a popular view with the faculty.
C: Yes, and especially with the AAUP, of which I have always regarded myself a loyal
P: What decision did the AAUP make?
C: I think they contributed to the final disposition of it: no tenure, but a year's indemnity.
P: They did not place the University on any list?
C: Yes, they did. They put us on report. I have forgotten what it is, but it is one of those
statements and descriptions in the AAUP records, which I have somewhere.
P: Did you get much flack from the medical school as a result of this decision?
C: Not as as much as I thought that we might.
P: What about the faculty on the big campus?
C: I do not know. I never got much.
P: It never came to you?
C: No. I think there was a lot of muttering and a lot of hard things said, but nobody came
up to me and said it. I probably had some letters, but I do not remember.
P: But he became something of the hero for the radical element on the campus.
C: Yes. Of course, there were a lot of them in 1966, 1967.
P: To your knowledge, did he appeal this decision?
C: I think he, or somebody for him, appealed it to AAUP.
P: I wonder what happened to Marshall Jones. I do not know.
C: I think he went to the medical school in Hershey [PA], which is where the dean of the
medical school went.
Now, anybody in an administrative position was bound to have tenure problems during
those years. I had them in Alabama. There it truly was a case. The chairwomen of
the art department had four faculty members, and they all came up for tenure at the
same time. None of them was especially good, and two of them were terrible. She
recommended tenure in the case of two, but not the other two. It was, in both
cases, one man and one woman, and, of course, it was a woman making the
judgment. Well, the woman who was not getting tenure flew into a wrath and
appealed to all of the agencies possible, and we got a class action suit. The funny
thing about it is the man who had been denied tenure joined in the class action suit
saying that the university had denied tenure to a woman only to conceal its
embarrassment at having denied tenure to him.
P: That is kind of stretching things a little bit.
C: I did two things as a result of it, and this is the kind of thing I did a lot of at the University
of Alabama. I wrote about fifteen pages, single spaced, on the subject of promotion
and tenure. What I thought I was doing was that I was dealing here with people
who had not really had any knowledge of how the academic world works. These
were people teaching in an extension division who came in and taught a course in
freshman English. I have looked probably a dozen times in the last four or five
years for this, and I could not find it. I found it this morning, so I have not really read
it through again. If I found it last night I would have.
C: Fred, what are you going to do with your papers, things like this?
P: I am going to put them all together, Xerox those that have been published and those that
are just typed, put them all together, and make about a half a dozen copies. I will
give one to my son, one to Tom Harn, one to Jo, and a few people like that.
P: Why do not you also at the same time turn everything you have over to the University
C: Well, that might be a good idea.
P: I am going to ask Carla Kemp [University of Florida archivist] to get in touch with you so
that she can take the things and put them into the right kind of acid-free manuscript
boxes. You cover such a long period of the University's history, and it is a critical
period, really. You cover from the 1930s to the end of the 1970s, and really onto
the end of the 1980s, because you are still involved in the academic community.
C: After all, I am the guy who got Bob Bryan [provost, vice-president for academic affairs,
and interim president, 1989- 1990] to go into administration, and also the one who
brought him back from Florida Atlantic [University in Boca Raton].
P: Yes. Tell me about that.
C: Well, he was L. E. [Grinter] again. He kind of coolly sits above a battle and can see
what is going on.
P: He is a cool character. I like Bob Bryan very much.
C: Well, L. E. came into the office one time. He said, "You know, if you would like to have
Bob Bryan back, I think you can get him." He knew damn well I could. So I got in
touch with Bob and said, "Will you come up and be my right-hand man?" And, of
course, he did. When I had that heart attack, he just took over, and he did it better
than I would have done it.
P: Did you have anything to do with bringing him here in the first place to be in your
C: No. His dissertation was under Tom Stroup who was from here, you know, and I think
he got his original job that way. But I began to have administrative things to do with
him almost immediately because Aubrey Williams [graduate research professor of
English] had gone to Rice and did not like it very much. He had had a research
professorship here, but he wanted to come back, and Bob was promoting that. He
would come over, and we would go to lunch about every day until we got this matter
straightened out. That was the first administrative labor that I saw him involved in.
P: You saw a spark of genius there.
C: Well, I knew he was a kind of a guy who worked to get what he wanted.
P: And he is still at it.
C: Yes. And he probably will get himself in a lot of trouble, because he does not control his
P: It is under much better control now than it was before he moved into the president's
office. He does not use quite the vocabulary.
C: I thought he might turn out to be the wittiest president we ever had.
P: He did not have to go far to do that. Fred, I do appreciate this.
C: I have enjoyed it.
P: It has been an excellent interview, and it is exactly what I had hoped it would be. I am
just hoping you are not disappointed.
I am sure you were not quite sure what to
expect from all of this.
C: You are a good questioner. Maybe you ought to go back and get a law degree and be a
P: It is too late for all of that.