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Full Text


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
the University of Florida

Interviewer: Dr. Samuel Proctor

Interviewee: Frank Wright


P:We are beginning an interview with Frank S. Wright in his

condominium in West Palm Beach at 1200 South Flagler Drive,

apartment 701 and 702. This is Friday, January 18, 1996.

What is your full name?

W:I was born on June 2, 1905. Then the family, Barbeau, my

mother had written in her own handwriting. My name, as I

gave it to you. My date of birth was 1:20 a.m., June 2,


P:Give me your full name again.

W:Franklin Sumner Wright.

P:Frank, where were you born?

W:Miami, Florida. In a house right along what was then the

ocean, more or less, as my parents related it to me. The

site is what later became the site of Jackson Memorial


P:Tell me a little bit about your family, and how they got to

Miami. Where did you father come from?

W:My father was a railroad engineer.

P:What was his name by the way?

W:John Asbury Wright.

P:He was a railroad man?

W:He was that. He went in on the second train ever to go into


P:So he worked for the Florida East Coast then, Flagler's


W:That is correct. Then later with the Seaboard Airline. He had

a very early identity with Miami, which was then just at

best a fishing village. I never knew real early Miami

because my brother, named for my father, Johnson Wright, was

born January 5, 1903. He was two and one-half years older

than me.

P:Where did your father come from?

W:He was a Georgian. His family had lived in South Carolina and

in the Atlanta area for two or three generations.

P:Where did he go to school and learn how to be a trainman?

W:Well, I am not sure if I can recall that.

P:What was your mother's name?

W:My mother's name was Lillian Angela Lane.

P:And where was she from?

W:She was born in Cedar Key, in that area.

P:She was a Floridian then.

W:Oh yes. She was a second generation Floridian. Her father was

an MD. She never fully got over my not taking pre-med and

going on to become a doctor, so she would have someone to

identify with her father.

P:Well he had to be one of the earlier physicians in the state.

W:I suppose he was.

P:Where did the Lane family come from?

W:The Lane family, as far as I know, were always indigenous to


P:They must have come from South Carolina, Georgia, or somewhere

before they settled in Cedar Key.

W:Georgia. I think that is correct.

P:Cedar Key of course in the nineteenth century was a thriving

seaport, and the terminus of the cross-state railroad.

W:Yes. I remember during my years at the University of Florida

on occasion there would be reasons to go to Cedar Key. The

sickest I believe I ever was in my life was when we went out

[on a] forty foot, round bottom boat. The water was very

choppy and very rough. It became a rolling water. The boat

would just keep rolling and rolling.

P:And you kept getting sicker.

W:Sicker and sicker. It was the only time I was ever seasick in

my life.

P:Well that is a miserable feeling. Now you were born in Miami.

How long did you live there before the family moved and

where did it move to?

W:The family moved very shortly after I was born. I understand

[it] was within about six months. [They] moved into Live

Oak, Florida.

P:What brought them there--your father's work?

W:That is right. Live Oak was somewhat halfway between

Jacksonville and Pensacola.

P:What kind of work did your dad do on the train?

W:Oh he was an engineer. He was a very good one. He was honored

in a big way on his fiftieth anniversary with the railroad,

and then on his retirement.

P:Was it his work that brought him into Jacksonville because

after you left Live Oak you moved to Jacksonville, did you


W:That is right.

P:It was his job--they transferred him?

W:That is right.

P:Your first and earliest memories had to be Jacksonville, not

Live Oak or Miami.

W:No my first memories [are] of Live Oak. We lived in Live Oak,

I would say, three years or more. I would say within the

first year of my birth in Miami we moved to Live Oak. We

were there. I remember Live Oak.

P:But you grew up in Jacksonville.


P:Where did you all live?

W:Early on we lived on 207 Everett Street. That was in the

western part of Jacksonville. Then we moved downtown, and

lived right downtown on Newman's Street. That was when I

was going to high school. That was very convenient because

it was not many blocks away to Duval High School.

P:Where did you go to elementary school?

W:I went to what I guess would be John Gorrie Elementary School.

P:Out in Riverside?

W:Yes, that is right.

P:Then from there, when the family moved downtown, you went to

Duval High School?

W:That is right.

P:Of course John Gorrie was a junior high school in those years--

the seventh through the ninth grades.

W:Yes, but that was my early recollection. There was a school

there that later became that.

P:Yes. Kirby Smith and John Gory were the two junior high

schools when you were growing up. Robert E. Lee and Andrew

Jackson were the ones out in the suburbs. Duval High School

was the one downtown that so many people went to.

W:The first school, I believe, was more or less developed

simultaneously with Lee and Jackson.


W:And then Fletcher over on the south side. I remember that very

well. I have great memories of my high school era.

P:Talk about high school a little bit. I know baseball was one

of your loves at the time.

W:Well, I keep my high school annual around and look at it from

time to time.

P:Brings back fond memories.

W:Yes it does. I was trying to establish a connection with the

school some time back, and found that there is noone

connected with Duval High School, persay, that seems to be

around. Have you found any evidence of that yourself?


W:Now the responsibility for information about Duval High School

you get from the Jacksonville Public Library. I have talked

to them on the phone and have had a lot of [help] from the

woman who seems to be most in charge of that area of

information. As far as I could determine, I am the only

survivor of my class of 1922.

P:You graduated then in 1922?


P:You were telling me last night about your sandlot baseball

team. Now that precedes Duval High School, does it not?

W:That is right.

P:Go back to it and tell me about your connection with The

Florida Times-Union and what brought that about.

W:Well, I grew up loving baseball, like I guess most America kids

[did] of that era. That was long before football really

attracted young people. This was well before there was any

such organization or operation known, for example, that Baby

Ruth leads. Kids grew up liking baseball if their parents

bought them a glove or bat. Somebody would have a baseball.

They just congregated in your neighborhood with your

friends. And you just played ball. That is why I guess it

got its name--the great American sport. It early on

appealed to so many kids.

P:So you organized a kid's team.

W:Yes. I was sort of a spark among the kids among the kids in my

neighborhood. On Saturdays, I delivered for a grocery store

that was in our neighborhood. Most people and kids in those

days did a lot of work around the house, or they had a job

of some kind. I had a delivery job. So we did not play

baseball but five days a week. We played at it five days a

week. Saturday was kind of a workday. Sunday was always

a day that your parents set aside for your Sunday school,

starting early, and then moving on to going to church later.

I not only liked baseball, but God gave me some ability to

express myself in writing early on, and I suppose along with

that, an early relationship to what became public relations

(pr). I was well along in life before I ever heard of that

word or that term. I had some of the makeup of what became

the pr person. That is that I had a feeling that I wanted

my kid's baseball team to get some attention, some


Well, I was ten years old. After one of the games, I just up and

went on my own to downtown Jacksonville, the largest city in

the state. Through the eyes of a ten year old, it was sort

of a mammoth. It did not awe me and that is a quality that

I am very proud of that I have retained. Nothing awes me.

No situation awes me. No person awes me. So that is why I

suppose I found myself in the Florida-Times Union Building

asking for who I could see to give my piece about my kid

baseball team. So I was sent down to what was the sports

department, and I was very cordially received by the elderly

man in that room. His name was Harry Culley. He had then

been sports editor for the Times-Union for nearly eighteen

years. He just said, "Kid, what can I do for you?" I said,

"Well I wrote something out here that I wanted to give you

for your paper." We always took the paper. I grew up as a

kid with a newspaper in my life. I was always, I suppose,

an avid reader. I learned to read the newspaper early on.

So I knew what was in the newspaper, and I could read about

baseball in the sports section.

So I saw they never had anything about sandlot baseball. It did

not awe me from thinking there ought to be something in

there about my team. As I say, there was no such thing as a

Baby Ruth League. They did not write about young sports

like that. So I guess I was breaking ground with the paper,

going down there, and being hopeful. I was not aware that it

was a ground breaking thing. I just knew that there was

nothing in the paper, and I wanted something in the paper

about my team. So Harry Culley was very friendly. He said,

"Kid what do you want, or what have you here?" I handed him

a little something I had written out. I was always blessed

with good penmanship. I thanked the Lord many times that I

had an extremely easy to read penmanship. I remember that

came about from the earliest part of school by drawing

circles. That was how we got our hands in motion--drawing

circles. I do not know if they do it that way anymore. I

do not think they do. I hear they do not do it in medical

school because doctors have absolutely atrocious


P:So Culley took your story.

W:I grew up with good penmanship, and I had written this piece

since I worked at the grocery store. The grocery store was

very close to the little area where we played our sandlot

baseball. They had this white wrapping paper. You would

pull it through big rollers, and tear off a piece to wrap up

the meat or whatever they were wrapping up. So I had just

torn off a piece of that paper, and I wrote my first piece.

I carried it in. Anyone other than a Harry Culley type

would have probably dismissed me rather quickly, and in such

a way that I would have figured that this was no place for

me. Harry Culley greeted me, as I said, warmly, and said,

"What do you have here kid?" I showed him, and he looked at

it. He did not have any children at the time. He later had

a son named Lee Culley. He was, as I recall at that time,

not even married. I was not sure about that. He was very

friendly to me. He said, "Thank you kid for coming by. If

I do not use this piece you have written, do not get

discouraged. You come on back." He patted me on the

shoulder, and I left. It did not appear in the paper.

I was showing another quality that I have had all my life, and

that is persistence. I persists in many things. In fact,

that is often said by people who know me. Over a period of

time, Frank is a persistent person. So I went back a second

time, and again was greeted very nicely by Mr. Culley. I

turned in my little piece I had written. Again, he said,

"If I do not use anything, do not get discouraged. Come see

me again sometime." It was not long before I was back

again. Again, I did not succeed in getting him to print

anything about my team. I went a fourth time. On the

fourth visit, he accepted it as he had the others. The next

day, in the morning piece was that little piece about my

kid's sandlot team. Now remember, there was nobody else.

Harry Culley, at that time, was the only person in the

sports department. He was doing everything that was

required. Most of it, in those early days, was editing the

copies that came down about sports from afar, the big

leagues, and so forth. The great variety in sports was not

there in those days. Anyway, that little piece appeared,

and of course I was elated. That is one thing I know my

mother was so proud of. My father was a great fisherman,

and he liked baseball. My brother liked baseball. They

were just elated that this had happened.

That piece was around for quite a long time. I have never been

able in recent years to put my hands on that little article.

I do not think it can surface because I have exhausted

everything through the years trying to drag it up somewhere.

It did come out. Because of my several trips in there, I

became recognizable to a certain number of people because

when you went into the Times-Union Building, you went up

about three or four stairs, through two big doors, and down

a hallway. On the right were the little cubicles where the

different reporters and so forth worked. Then you went on

back down, and turned a little corner to the left. It went

into what was the sports room or area--the sports editor

section. So in time, I went back, and they got to know me.

I became a copy boy after school.

P:What did that mean?

W:You would be assigned to take pieces of copy from say the city

editor. He would have some instructions to give to a

reporter. He would write something done or something. They

did not have intercommunication like we do today. They did

not have all that network of phones. I would take it down

to a reporter. Some reporter would finish up the story. I

would bring it back to the city editor, and then take it

from the city editor to the next place it would go. So I

guess I moved around pretty well. I could handle what they

had to be handled. So I was a copy boy. In time, I was

getting ready to go to the University of Florida. I was

quite well known there. The paper decided they wanted me to

write about Jacksonville students at the University of


P:They paid you?

W:Yes. In those days, you were paid by what is known in the

trade as a stringer. What you would write, you were

responsible for cutting it out when it appeared in the

paper. You would measure it out, and send it in to the

paper. They would pay you by the inch. So I became a

stringer. I was the first person ever at the University of

Florida to write from the campus for a publication, or in

this case the largest newspaper in Florida. I was always a

rather gregarious person, so it was easy to keep in touch

with all the people from Jacksonville who were there, or

from Duval County. There were not too many from Duval

County as such.

P:The University itself was very small in those years. What

brought you to the University of Florida rather than to some

other institution?

W:I did not know anything but the University of Florida.

P:Were you a good student in high school?

W:Well, again I think I had some of my report cards saved at one

time. A certain amount of things were lost--some pictures

and some other materials were lost--when I was at the round

table and we were moving from one location to another. We

had to pack up all the things. My secretary, Jo Carter, was

in charge of heading our move. In the course of it,

inadvertently, she set down some files. We were discarding

things and moving other things. Somehow one of the file

boxes got into the discard list. I am telling you Sam, I

grieved over that for a long time because I knew some things

that were in there that could never be replaced. I was

really distraught for a long time. We had a similar

experience. She was with me, to the day, twenty-five years.

She retired after twenty-five years to the day. When we

made the last move, she was with me, we talked about the

move. We had an area where we had not seen any files where

we had been for seven years. It was in a separate little

room. We were now making the move to a place where space

was going to be at a premium. We were moving to a more

expensive place over in the Como Building. We would not

have that much space. Where we had been, we had lots of

space. We talked about it and decided that files that [we

had] files that had been there seven years. If we had not

gone into that file for any reason in seven years, there was

a pretty good reason we did not need to relate to it.

P:That is a good reason.

W:So we left it. That was a part of our downsizing, to use a

term that is very much in contemporary literature. So we

downsized. To this day, we never ever had to ponder what

could have been in that file because we never looked for

something or had occasion to reflect upon something that we

could not put our hands on and not find it, and then say

well, "It must have been in what we did not bring."

P:Frank, let us get you to the University of Florida now. This

was the only university you really considered.

W:Oh yes.

P:Had you ever been to Gainesville before you enrolled there in

September 1922?


P:So you are seeing it for the first time.

W:That is right.

P:How do you remember coming in from Jacksonville--on the train?

W:That is right. Everybody went to college on the train in those

days, practically everybody. It was the only way to get

there. We had very few automobiles. Our family had a car

my father bought. We had Maxwell. That was the first car.

Later we had a Rio.

P:So your first car was a Maxwell?

W:It was a Maxwell. It was seventy-five miles to Gainesville.

The roads were not plentiful. I think we were talking last

night. You will remember some roads in those early years.

My father's situation in the railroad business was such that

my mother and my older brother and I were given passes that

we could use to go anywhere in the United States for free.

So I naturally went to Gainesville on the railroad, as many

people did. In my high school years, there were three boys.

P:Give me those names again.

W:Otto Nolte. Mack Moore. I have got a picture of the three of

us here. We were classmates.

P:So you were the three.

W:We three put on the lead in our junior class play when we were

juniors. When we were seniors, we had the play called

"Fooling Father." I will say, without being a braggadocio,

that we were very successful with that. So if I do say so,

I [[please fill in]]. Our junior class play was quite well

received, so we just automatically became the centerpiece

for what was going to be the effort of the senior class.

The play that was selected was a well known play at that

time. It has probably been used many, many times through

the years. "Fooling Father." It was a comedy. The three

of us just found it a very congenial and exciting kind of a

vehicle. We got enormous attention with it, so much so that

representatives of the Keith Falderol circuit. You are

probably too young to remember.

P:I know what you are talking about. Keith Vaudeville.

W:In Jacksonville, the Imperial Theater was the Jacksonville

scene of a movie. Then they would give you this big

additional feature. It was usually not a full length movie

because they gave five acts of fifteen minutes each, so that

they had news reels and other features to give you a very

good program.

P:You could spend a whole afternoon in the movies in those years.

They did that at the Palace Theater also on Forsyth Street.

W:I guess the Palace was the largest theater. The Imperial was


P:In that same block. I remember the Imperial. The Palace was

on the corner of Forsyth and Ocean.

W:You have a great memory for that Sam. That is right. The

representative came and very seriously offered us a job with

Keith Vaudeville taking this "Fooling Father" skit on the

circuit. That circuit was very pretentious and very

extensive. For those days, it was good pay.

P:Yes, but you had to turn it down to go to the University of


W:That is what we did.

P:Were you the three that came together and were roommates?

W:No. We three went to the University of Florida, but we did not

continue to [[please fill in]]. None of us got into the

dramatic or the theater field.

P:Tell me about the trip from Jacksonville on the train to

Gainesville, coming down the middle of Main Street.

W:Well, it was a nice experience. They sounded off that you are

approaching Gainesville, and the next stop is Gainesville.

P:And you got off on Main Street.

W:That is right.

P:How did you get out to the campus?

W:Well, as I remember, we just had to go in a taxi.

P:Of course you had suitcases.

W:That is right. I had two roommates--Bobby Burritt and John


P:Where was he [Bobby] from?

W:He was from Jacksonville.

P:Dickinson was also from Jacksonville?

W:John Dickinson was president of our class. The three of us

found it was nice to be roommates.

P:Where did you all live?

W:49A Thomas Hall.

P:So the taxi brought you to 49A. You knew what your room

assignment was ahead of time?

W:Yes. You first had to go in and take your money, your check

and get enrolled. Then they would give you your room

assignment that had been made when we had written in. As

you pointed out, it was a fairly small institution, though

it was still big for three kids coming right out of high


P:Do you remember what the tuition was in those early years?

W:No, I do not. I really do not.

P:It was very small by comparison today.

W:Oh I am sure.

P:The lady in charge of the rooms was Mrs. Swanson?

W:I am not so sure that I would say that it was or was not. The

name has a certain ring to it, but I would not want to

attest to it.

P:Dr. Murphree [Albert A. Murphree] was the president [1909-


W:Dr. Murphree was the president.

P:When did you meet him?

W:I met him early on because he was a good Baptist, and I was

raised in the Baptist church. So we went to the Baptist

church for Sunday school. For the first Sunday, we went to

church there. I believe it was the first Sunday I met Dr.

Murphree. As I say, I was never awestruck by people. I was

always very polite to people who were my seniors. I was

raised that way. I was not overwhelmed by somebody's


P:How did you get to church? That was a long way from the


W:I know. We walked. In those days, we walked.

P:Right down University Avenue.

W:That is right. It was paved from the corner of what I guess

was Thirteenth Street (in later years).

P:But in your years, [it was] Ninth Street.

W:Nothing was paved. It was all sand roads. Everything around

the campus. It was paved from downtown right out to Ninth

Street, at the corner. From then on, it was unpaved.

P:Were the roads, the streets on campus, paved?


P:No paved streets?

W:Let me reflect. I guess from the corner around past what was

the law school, on around what was Peabody Hall was off to

the left, and on down past the science building.

P:Which is now Flint Hall.

W:Then it ran into the dormitories.

P:Buckman and Thomas.

W:Right across from that was the College Inn.

P:Now when you were on campus, let us go back to 1922, on campus

you had what was the law school, Bryan Hall, Language Hall,

the science building, the two dormitories, Peabody, Benton,

which was the engineering, and the agricultural building.

Where was the library?

W:The library was part of the...



P:Down below on the basement floor or the first floor?

W:I think it was some of both. I think it was part of both.

P:I see. Because it was not until a little bit later that they

built the separate library building. But you were there

when it was still in Peabody.

W:That is correct. Absolutely correct.

P:Where were your classes?

W:My classes were held in Benton and in Peabody.

P:I see. They were all around the campus too I guess.


P:There was not an auditorium yet on campus.


P:So where did you meet for assembly?

W:At the gym.

P:Oh yes. That is right. That was opened in 1919, so that was

available to you already.

W:It was kind of like an airplane hanger.

P:Did you have chapel services?

W:Yes, the first great speaker that I ever heard there was

William Jennings Bryan.

P:He came to the campus because he was a good friend of Dr.


W:I heard him speak when I was a freshman.

P:Did they have compulsory chapel services so that students had

to go daily or weekly?

W:I think we had to go twice a week.

P:And the faculty ran the service?

W:Yes, that is right.

P:Where did you have social activities?

W:In my case, the fraternity house was the center of it.

P:But was there a dance area on the campus itself?

W:You see, it was not coeducational.

P:But you did have girls in town that could be invited.

W:Well yes, but we did not have big social affairs then.

P:Not like they did in later years. Where did you eat?

W:We ate in the mess hall.

P:The Commons?


P:Which was right around the corner from Thomas.

W:That is correct. It was on the southern part of that area

between Buckman and Thomas Hall down at the south end.

P:As you know, that building is gone. It burned. There is a new

building on that site that opened just this last year,

called the Counseling Service. It is a very handsome

building. It is on the exact site of the old Commons. In

those years, you ate sitting down at big tables. It was

family style?


P:Did you work on campus? Did you have a job?

W:No, you see right from the beginning, I was writing. [[end of

side A]]

P:So you were working and making a little bit of money, unlike

most of the students on campus?

W:That is right. So much so. In my junior year, I was at the

Gainesville Sun. I had started working for them and writing

for them.

P:So you were interested in journalism right from the very

beginning, but they did not have a journalism program at the

University, did they?

W:No. It was just something like any good newspaper person would

tell you today. They do not value enormously your

journalism degree as such because if they cannot teach you

really how to write. If you are a writer they can teach you

how to improve. You cannot go to a journalism school as a

nonwriter and end up being a writer. They want you to take

courses in English and history.

P:Get yourself a good humanities background.

W:That is correct. Then if you have enough writing ability and

have demonstrated it in some way, the newspaper will then

bring you in and they will guide you and bring you up in the

way that they would like you to be trained.

P:Frank, I would like you to tell me about the organization of

your fraternity. I know that played a very important role

in your life and continues to. How did that come about?

W:When I went to the University of Florida, John Dickinson

received a bid from ATO [Alpha Tau Omega], a fraternity, and

I did too. Bobby Burritt did not. John was president of

the student body, and he was a kind of a rigid fellow. He

cared more about John than anything else. He was kind of

egotistical. I guess that went with his type of early

training. It made him a good president of the student body

when he was in that role in high school. I had a sympathy

for Bob Burritt. I just declined ATO and I put them off

because I was trying to get Bob a bid, but I never could get

Bob a bid. There was a group on campus known as Beta Pi.

The University physician, Dr. Tillman [George C.] and Kline

Graham [Kline Harrison Graham, business manager], were

members of that fraternity, Beta Pi. They were petitioning

Beta Theta Pi. Everybody that I met were very, very

likeable people and very friendly. ATO, SAE [Sigma Alpha

Epsilon], and PIK [Pi Kappa Alpha] were the other big


P:KA was on campus I think.

W:KA was on and Kappa Sigma. After a little while, it became

evident that Bobby Burritt was not going to make it into

that group. So we went into the Beta Pi because we felt

very comfortable there. Beta Pi was a natural name

protesting Beta Theta Pi. It turned out that the charter

that they were supposed to give to this chapter [Beta Pi] at

their national convention and had been assured that it would

be granted was not. They said it would be two years before

the next convention. Did you ever know B.C. Riley [Bert

Clair, Dean of General Extension Division]?

P:Yes, of course I knew Bert Riley.

W:Bert Riley was the head of extension. He worked for the

University. He was kind of a dynamic leadership type

individual. He was We had all come to like

our chapter advisor, Captain Ames [Burton Weber Ames, Head

of Correspondence Study, General Extension Division].

P:I did not know him.

W:He was one of the military people on duty at the University.

The moment that they would turned down at the Beta Theta Pi

convention [[please finish thought]]. Bert Riley was a

pretty slick guy. He was kind of an operator, using later

terms, you know. It's the language that we sometimes use

for a person that maneuvers very well and is quick. He

[was] quite an operator. He immediately came and met with

us, our group. He said, "It will be two years before you

can get your Beta Theta Pi. We have got a convention coming

up, and I am going to start to work. I want you all to

start thinking that you will be Phi Delta Theta's instead

Beta Theta Pi's." Well in those days, you did not the

history of any of those and it did not seem...

P:It really did not make any difference.

W:It did not make any difference. You had a nice fellowship. If

they were interested and wanted to give you a new identity,

and it made sense, it was all right. So we were

acquiescence to his proposals. He went to work, and he

really organized the effort. He got the national fraternity

very much interested. They sent a representative down to

meet with the group. We passed their criteria. Our chapter

advisor, Captain Bull Ames, was a rough and tough army man

from Oklahoma. So he was chapter advisor at that time. He

and Bert Riley got along well.

P:So you all went Phi Delta Theta.

W:So the end of that effort became Phi Delta Theta.

P:I do not think Beta Theta Pi ever came to the campus.

W:Yes, it did, but it was quite some years later.

P:It is not there now.

W:They must have had some difficulty.

P:Of course Phi Delta Theta is still there.

W:Oh yes. That picture you saw was [[please fill in]].

P:In those early years, Frank, did fraternities already have

houses or did they have rented space, some of them downtown?

W:The Beta Pi always rented a house.

P:Close to the campus?

W:Well, the first house was when you come out on the street,

coming from Benton Hall past Peabody Hall, and on down to

Language Hall. Then you run into University Avenue. If you

did not turn right or left, you would run into this little

green bungalow. That was the first house. Beta Pi.

P:I remember when I arrived on campus in 1937, the Phi Delta

Theta's had a very nice brick house.

W:Right around from the College Inn.

P:That is right.

W:That picture, I believe, was taken right in front. The street

was not paved, and we had no sidewalk. I think in the

foreground you will notice that the grassy area is kind of

limited right there. I had been out playing golf. I played

golf in that era. So we had this picture set up. I was a

little bit late coming back so I did not have a chance to

really go change my clothes. So I just was in the picture

in what I was wearing--my golfing outfit. You will notice


P:You know, that is curious. I did not know they had golf in

Gainesville at the time. Where did you play?

W:We played way out on what later became the golf course.

P:Oh. Straight on out Newberry Road.

W:That is right.

P:I did not realize that the golf course dated that far back.

W:Indeed it does.

P:I think the Gainesville Country Club had it. It was not yet a

University property.

W:No, that is right. Definitely, it was the Gainesville Country


P:That was not close to the campus either, when you think about

it. You had to get out there.

W:Well that is true.

P:Hiked out.

W:Well, I tell you, in my case, in my junior year, I was able to

buy a car.

P:Oh, you were a big shot then.

W:I really was.

P:When you came there as a freshman, I want to get back to what

the campus looked liked and who the faculty were. You said

there were no paved streets on the campus. Were there


W:I will not say there were not any, but they were very minimal.

P:The campus obviously was very limited in size.

W:That is right. It was.

P:What was beyond where the Drill Field was, which is now the

O'Connell Center parking lot?

W:That is where the parade was around, for the ROTC.

P:Yes. West of that was just woods?

W:That is right. It was the boondocks. The boondocks started

fairly close to campus.

P:The country boys used to go hunting out there for rabbits.


P:The campus on the south side ended right behind what is now the


W:That is right. That was again the boondocks. They did not

have any development in our area.

P:The College of Agriculture, I think, had some farms out there.

W:That was the extent of it.

P:Was Thirteenth Street or then Ninth Street paved going south to

Payne's Prairie and Ocala? That had to be a main artery

with cars coming in from Lake City.

W:Yes, and north to Lake City.

P:That was paved.

W:I believe that was paved, just as it was paved right out from

the corner there. Otherwise, it was not paved.

P:Now the College Inn was on its location on University across

from the dormitories, was it not?

W:Exactly. That is where we went. That is where Hawk Shaw


P:Tell us who Hawk Shaw was.

W:Hawk Shaw was a little fellow. He was not the prototype of a

big, rugged policeman, but he was the campus policeman.

P:Really more like a watchman than a policeman.

W:I think you are using exactly the right word. He was a

watchman. I think his beat was just the dormitory area. He

was to watch over that.

P:Make sure doors were locked at night on the buildings.

W:Frankly, in that era, most everybody was fairly calm. It was

not a raucous type of student [body].

P:Hawk Shaw had a little dog, I understand, that followed him

around on his bicycle.

W:He did. He walked around a lot.

P:Do you recall when you came in 1922 whether there was still a

fence around the campus or had they demolished that?

W:I do not remember a fence.

P:They had had a fence earlier, but I think that went at the

end of World War I.

W:I do not recall a fence, as such.

P:You took ROTC of course because it was a land grant school.

All students had to take the first and second year.

W:That is right. If you did well enough (whatever the standard

was) and you showed interest, you applied for ROTC. If you

met the criteria, you could go into the army or advanced

military for your junior and senior years.

P:Were you Scabbard and Blade [national honorary fraternity]?

W:Yes, I was selected in the Scabbard and Blade. I have a

picture of it on my wall of memories.

P:I understand you were the adjutant too for your battalion.

W:That is right.

P:Were you infantry or were you artillery?


P:So you did not get a chance to ride those horses?

W:No. The only time I rode the horses was in parades. I was

given a horse to ride in the parade.

P:Did they have military balls yet every fall? Was that part of

the tradition?

W:Well, we had a military ball, I believe, my senior year.

P:That was a big social activity.

W:Oh yes, it really was.

P:You brought a girlfriend in?

W:I brought a girl in by the name of Marian Wooten from

Jacksonville. I had been courting her for a couple of

years. She was a beautiful redhead. Through my early

years, I went with four different girls. Let me tell you...

P:Do you remember the names of all of them?

W:Oh yes.

P:Well you have only given us Miss Wooten's name.

W:One was named Laura Bull. She was from Canada. Her family was

reputed to be among the wealthy families of Canada. They

liked to come to Florida for the winter. So they wanted her

daughter to be near part of that time.

P:Who were the other two?

W:Hazel Leigh Baird from Baird Hardware.

P:Who was the last one?

W:The last one was not too serious at that time. I later had a

more serious one, so this was in my earliest times. I

continued to date Hazel Leigh Baird and Marian Wooten.

Marian Wooten was a gorgeous woman. I have her picture of

to this day. I have showed it to Eleanor on occasion.

There is no jealousy.

P:I can see that you were a romantic dude back in those early

years Frank.

W:Hazel Leigh Baird's family owned the Baird Hardware which was

for all of that part of Florida. They had everything.

P:Oh yes. That was the big hardware place in wholesale and



P:That was a moneyed family.

W:That is correct. Hazel Leigh Baird and I went together, but we

broke up because she just would not quit smoking. Early on

I had a anathema to smoking. I bought her too many packages

of cigarettes. In that day, I was not a moneyed person at

all, but I had a car and I could take her out. If you did

that, in those days, you assumed the responsibility for

whatever happened. We would stop for an ice cream, soda, or

something. Not every time, but a number of times she wanted

a pack of cigarettes. So I had to include that in what I

was paying.

P:In the bill [laughter].

W:We talked about it. I am so thankful, really, that it did not

have any appeal to me and it did not grab me enough that I

ever started to smoke. It grabbed me enough that I had to

tell Hazel Leigh Believe it or not, she

had a sister. They were the only two in that family. They

were going to acquire all of the family fortune. Hazel

Leigh, I must say, and I do not want to sound egotistical,

but I think she was really in love with me and wanted to get

married. She wanted to go steady and then get married. I

just had to break it off because I just could not accept

that as a part of her overall life.

P:Frank, tell me about your involvement with student athletics.

W:Student athletics?

P:You boxed?

W:I tried that until I was boxing [one day with Tom Sebring].

Tom Sebring was the coach at that time, and we were

sparring. As I mentioned last night, I got this good lick

on the chin. I guess that was the first time I had ever

really been hit on the chin in that way. Stars just came

everywhere. I figured, "My goodness alive. I must be

vulnerable or I would not have been hit like that." I do

not know that my defense as a boxer would ever be good

enough to keep me from getting pounded.

P:Did you then become the manager of the boxing team?

W:Yes, I did. I was the manager of the boxing team. I remember

one time, we had a trip. On a Friday night, we were at VPI;

Saturday at the University of Virginia; and Monday night we

were staying over because you had to make all these things

work out. At we had about a three event option

trip. I was much more comfortable there. As a result of

that, I wrote quite a bit about boxing.

P:Boxing was much more of a major sport on American campuses then

was it not?


P:Certainly it was at the University of Florida.

W:Right. If I had my druthers today, if I was czar in sports, I

would totally eliminate boxing.

P:But you were interested then in boxing as the manager of the

boxing team, and you also played golf. Any other sports?

W:I played intramural football for the fraternity. I never was

good enough to really go for the football team, though I was

always identified with it because I was writing about it,

you know.

P:Did they have tennis courts or racquetball courts on the campus

that early?

W:Not like they have developed [now]. They did have two tennis

courts. We always had good tennis players.

P:I want to go back and talk to you about the 1920s as you

remember it. You were there when Homecoming really gets

started at the University of Florida.

W:Let me put the time frame in focus for you.

P:All right, please.

W:I went there as a student in 1922. Graduation for me was 1926,

except the actually conferring of the diploma came in 1930

because I picked up a time to get that remaining credit.

P:Let me just break in here and ask you what was this missing


W:I was just too busy with so many things around the University,

and I was not that good of a student. I was lucky to just

do a normal passing job with most everything.

P:And you were involved with so many extracurricular things.

W:I was. I was active in my fraternity. I was secretary, RUSH

chairman, and president those last three years. I was

always a very conscientious person. So whatever I got

involved in, I would aspire to do it well.

P:So you left in 1926 with one credit missing and you did not

pick that up and really graduate until 1930. Am I right on

the record there?

W:That is right.

P:Now talk about some of these things. I would like to get this

history of Homecoming since you were a participant.

W:Let me finish this time frame with you. Commencement day was

in 1926. I was still there because I was writing the

activities of that time for the Times-Union. The day before

graduation day, Phil Ball, the managing editor of the Times-

Union reached me on the telephone. He said, "Frank, come up

immediately. You are taking over the sports desk." I can

remember this just as vividly as if it happened day before

yesterday--hearing him say that to me. I had just turned

twenty-one. This was about the second or third of June. I

was stunned because here was Harry Culley who was the man

who had befriended me when I went in there as a ten year

old, and in whom I had related to in all the subsequent

years following that.

During the summers, I was doing some work for the newspaper.

Harry Culley would take me to the boxing bouts. The

American Legion sponsored boxing bouts at the Duval County

Armory. The National Guard on Tuesday night, and the

American Legion on Friday night. He would frequently take

me there. He would take me to baseball games. I was a

baseball person. I grew up kind of knowing the score. He

put the real polished, professional touch on my learning how

to score in every detail, a baseball game. He just could

not have been a more wonderful person in my early life.

When Phil Ball said, "Frank, you are coming up to take over the

sports desk. Come immediately." I had one more day there

for some reason. I said, "I cannot come today or tomorrow,

but I will come up right after that." I said, "What about

Harry?" This is what I remember so vividly. He said, "Do

not get sentimental. I am giving you this opportunity and

you may never get another one like it. So you ought to know

that Harry had a problem." He did. He drank. I will never

forgive Phil Ball because he was a drinker. The two of them

many, many times would go out after work and drink together.

If every drinker in the history of men drinking had been

like Harry Culley, we would never have had a problem

associated with alcohol. He would be drinking, and as it

caught up with him, he would start drinking in the early

evening. He would say we went out to cover a boxing bout.

He would have a drink or two here and there. When we come

back to the newspaper, at that time I was working under the

city editor, not under the sports department. Harry related

to me, and I related to him and his department. So if we

went to a boxing bout and came back, I would have to report

back into the city editor. A number of times, Harry's

drinking would cause him just to talk out. Some people get

boisterous, sober drinking. Some people get into any number

of moods, attitudes, and situations with their drinking.

Harry was never rough, uncouth, or anything. His drinking

just caused him to fall off into a sleep. When he would

come back, Harry was very exemplary in that he kept

beautiful notes on everything he was involved with. I would

go to a boxing bout with him and he would keep great notes

on it. So this was what happened a number of times.

P:In other words, he was fired for drinking, and you were his


W:I was named to succeed him, but I had a lot of association with

him from the time I was ten years old.

P:He was a friend.

W:Absolutely. Later on, when I was in college, and in those

intervening periods, I had many occasions to go into his

office and finish a story.

P:Let us not jump ahead of the story. I want to get you back to

the campus in the 1920s when you were still a student, and

before 1926. I want to get some of that history in there of

those four years. The one I am particularly interested in

is the beginning of Homecoming. We played Drake that year.

W:Yes, I remember when Drake came there from Des Moines, Iowa.

P:That is when Blue Key comes into existence. I guess it was

Dean Riley that was responsible for that, was he not?

W:Yes, he founded Florida Blue Key. He was establishing chapters

over the country.

P:Were you in the original Blue Key contingent?

W:No, I was in the first group they took in after they had their

charter members. They had the meeting to pick them.

P:You were selected then.

W:I was in that group. I was not one of the charter members. I

guess the core members that really came together to say we

will have a chapter of Florida Blue Key.

P:Of course that was the original chapter in the United States.

W:That is right.

P:That was set up to be a service organization to help out with

Homecoming. I think that was its purpose in coming into

being. It became much broader than that, of course,


W:Yes. After that, one of the major things that they seemed to

want to do was to disassociate themselves with it being some

part of a chain or national operation, like Bert Riley had

in mind. I think Bert was setting up these chapters. As

the organizer and the chief proponent of this type of campus

organization, I cannot say this for sure because I never got

into this side of it, but my impression would be that he had

some little financial interest in it as well.

P:There was a big hassle at their national meeting in Chicago one

year. That is when Florida pulled out and became Florida

Blue Key.

W:That is right.

P:Now, in that first Homecoming, they had the beginnings of a lot

of things that became traditional at the University, even

including a small parade, I understand.

W:Yes, it was one of the ideas to do something when you start


P:Were you present at that first game with Drake?


P:The football field was where?

W:The football field was right out there where the military field

was. We just had temporary bleachers.

P:They did put up bleachers for people to sit down.

W:On the west side of the field. That would be the shady side of

course. Then I remember very well that was football that

way until the late 1920s when they started getting ready to

build Florida Field.

P:I want to hold that because that is an important history of the

University. While you were on campus as a student, did you

write for any of the publications--The Alligator? Were you

involved with The Seminole, which was the yearbook. Were

you involved with any of those activities?

W:Yes. They asked me to contribute some articles, but I never...

P:You were not on the staff?

W:No, I was just too busy otherwise.

P:Tell me about Fuller Warren [governor of Florida, 1949-1953].

I know he was a friend of yours and later becomes an

associate in a way. He was a student on campus at the same

time you were.

W:Well, he was one year later than I was. I was one year ahead

of Fuller.

P:Fuller came from Blountstown, Florida.

W:He came from Blountstown, and came on campus as one of the most

gregarious, immediately likeable, friendly people that ever

came on that campus. I suppose you could almost say he

pioneered the friendly spirit of the Florida campus, the

real friendliness of it because he just exemplified [it].

P:He knew everybody. How did you two meet?

W:We just met. I think in a way, Fuller made a point of meeting

me because Fuller was always interested in people knowing

and liking Fuller Warren. Here I was, a writer and so it

sort of behooved Fuller to get to know me.

P:You might get his name in the paper.

W:That is right. I think he kind of moved around fast. It was

not his first day on campus, I would not think, but it was

not long before here was Fuller and here was Frank Wright

and we were meeting. Right away he asked me, "What is your

full name?" I told him Frank Sumner Wright. My mother

called me Franklin, she told me later on, when I was just a

kid growing up. I never remembered that she did that as

such. So they got it down to Frank pretty quick. I told

him my name was Frank Sumner Wright. For many, many a time,

Fuller would just say, "Hey Frank Sumner Wright!" He did

that with many people. That was why he was so good at

remembering names. It was often said that he knew more

people in Florida and remembered more peoples names than

anybody in the state. I do not think there was any question

about it because he would meet them and get their first and

middle names. If you just keep saying that, you are going

to remember at least two of those names if not all of them.

He remembered Frank Sumner and he called me that for a

long, long time.

P:Dr. Murphree had that same ability to remember names, did he


W:Yes. He was a very warm spirited man. I liked him and enjoyed

a nice presidential-student relationship with him.

P:But you and Fuller remained friends for all your lives, did you


W:All our lives, yes.

P:After he left school and you left school, you maintained that


W:Yes, we kept in touch. [We were] not intensely close, but

enough. He was in Jacksonville, and he was a legislator

from Jacksonville. That he decided to run for governor. In

1940, he asked me if I would manage his campaign. I told

him, "Fuller, I have always liked you and I always have

respected your many gifts." I do not know exactly how to

put it, but a good many people thought Fuller was somewhat

of a lightweight. He was not a real deep thinker. I

suppose I was a part of some of that. I would not say that

Fuller was frivolous, but to some people he seemed a little

bit frivolous. You did not question his honesty at all. If

he spoke well of you, you just appreciated that and accepted

that he was sincere. I think he was. Many people seemed to

feel that he was not especially deep. He was not a great

student. He was the classic good student, an especially

bright student. Many people did not take Fuller seriously

beyond liking him immensely. Everybody that knew him [liked

him] unless they later had some reason not to like him.

P:What did you tell him when he asked you about the 1940


W:I said, "Fuller I really appreciate you asking me. It is not

my decision, of course, but I want you to ponder the

question do you think you are really ready for it. That is

the most important job in Florida. I know you have been in

the legislature, but you are going up against a number of

candidates." The two that were the most outstanding in the

early announced field of candidates were Spessard Holland

[Spessard L. Holland, governor, 1941-1945] and Paul

Whitehair from De Land.


W:Francis P. Whitehair. He had been assistant secretary to the

navy. He was a very attractive chap. He had a big position

and would command a good organized following. Spessard

Holland had been a leader in the Florida legislature,

president of the Senate, and president of the Alumni

Association at the University. As time and events showed,

if you were Florida alumnus, you had a good chance of

getting that high office. If you went to Stetson or you

went to Florida Southern, you did not have that immediate

following of people. Anyway, I told Fuller that I think I

would decline because I did not feel he was quite ready.

Perhaps I did not feel that I should undertake that

particular responsibility. Eight years later, after the

war, to get into service, Fuller had to have an operation

for which he paid the bill. He had the surgery in

Jacksonville at St. Lukes Hospital, as I recall. It was

surgery of the kind that the navy had felt would keep him

out and unable to enlist. They did not want to enlist him

and then pay for the surgery. So he went ahead and had it.

He went back, and the navy accepted him. So he went into

the service. He had a good record. He studied a lot while

he was moving around. He used to always keep books with him

to read when they were out at sea. When they would go into

ports, he would go to the library and check out books for

government. He was a more serious student then than he was,

I think, when he was an undergraduate at the University of


W:When he asked me if I would manage his campaign this time,

I said, "Yes, I would be glad to Fuller if you really want

me to because I have talked to you about your and

I am impressed with your added experiences over eight years.

I think you are quite ready." So I went into his campaign

with a lot of enthusiasm. It was a successful campaign.

The run-off was with Dan McCarty [Dan T., governor, 1953],

whom I liked very much from Fort Pierce. Dan had worked in

the student union as a student.

P:Senator Shands had been in that campaign early on, had he not?

W:Yes. He was a backer of Dan's. The governor who was Fuller's

predecessor, Millard Caldwell [Millard F., governor, 1945-

1949], came out for Dan. It was not an easy campaign.

P:Fuller was running on what kind of a platform?

W:His principal thing was to take the limestone off the highways

of Florida.

P:Which had been a very dangerous thing on the highways.

W:Yes, but he was being opposed by the cattle lobby, the

livestock lobby, which was said to be the most powerful

lobby in the state because livestock was a big, big

industry. They did not have to spend any money fencing in

the cattle. They would brand them, and they knew how to

round them up and sell them. They did not roam far from the

area, but they would roam on the highways. In that

campaign, I even hit a cow at night and did a little damage

to my car. It could have been more serious. If you

remember the shoulders of the road and the bridges. A cow

that was black could just suddenly come up off that shoulder

and be out there in the highway just at the same time you

were coming up the highway.

P:Or they would just lie down on the highway when it was warmer

than the [grass].

W:That is right. The warmth of the...

P:The asphalt.

W:You are absolutely right.

P:What about the sales tax? Was that a factor in the campaign in



P:It came in during Fuller Warren's administration.

W:Fuller came in with about eight different planks in his

platform. The citrus industry was a big one. What he

proposed was again opposed by the citrus people. Another

one was that he wanted to tax the phosphate industry. There

was a tremendous amount of rock going out of Florida. It

was a source [of income]. So Fuller had eight planks in

this platform that were going to mean big changes in the way

these industries or interests had been operating.

P:I did not realize that you had managed his campaign in 1948.

By the way, he was a very loyal University of Florida


W:He sure was.

P:He wanted to bring a winning team to Florida.

W:That is right. That is correct.

P:Now when he is finally elected, he beats Dan McCarty in the

run-off right?

W:By a 17,000 vote margin.

P:What role did you play in the administration?

W:When I agreed to manage his campaign, I made one of the

smartest decisions of my life. I told him, "Fuller, I do

not want to have anything to do with the raising of five

cents of money. I want no responsibility for raising any


P:I want to finish up with the Fuller Warren administration. You

said you did not want to be a fund raiser.

W:I said, "Fuller, I want no responsibility or involvement in

raising campaign funds, nor any in administering them." I

am not always especially bright or sharp in making forward

looking decisions. That has to be one of the best that I

ever did. I did not have a feel for it anyway. I never

liked to ask people for money. I would rather do things for

people than to asks things from people. Money was certainly

a part of that kind of philosophy. I knew that it would

take a lot of money to run campaigns. Whatever was

involved, I just did not want that. I said, "I will do all

the other things, but I do not want to get involved." As I

indicated, that was a very astute, prudent, and wise

decision because as it turned out when Fuller had the

Kefauver [Carey Estes Kefauver, Senator, Tennessee]

investigation come up. It was in connection with his fund

raising and the funds involved to a considerable extent. I

know that when they first came in on that investigation,

they quickly found out that there was no need to call Frank


P:He was not involved.

W:All their checking showed that the position that I had taken

was that I was not involved in any way. Julian Fant, who

was president of the Riverside Bank and was KA at

Gainesville (an early admirer of Fuller's), became treasurer

of the campaign. C.V. Griffin, the citrus king, who with

Dodge Taylor, was partner in a lot of the citrus holdings;

and Bill Johnston, from Jacksonville, who was involved with

the dog tracks, were the principal financial supporters of

Fuller. There was nothing wrong with that. As it turned

out, there was nothing wrong other than they were trying to

associate the use of money with too much influence, I guess.

I never got into that. As I said, that was an early, wise

decision on my part.

P:Was Louis Wolfson also involved in that?

W:Oh yes, definitely. Louis is one of the finest people I have

ever known. When I was just looking through some of the

older files, I found some correspondence with his secretary.

P:Yet he went to jail.

W:Yes. It was tragic.

P:The Securities and Exchange Commission was involved with it, I


W:That all came later.

P:Very much later.

W:That is beyond the...

P:Warren period.

W:I knew he owned Capital Transit, which was the Washington

transportation system. Louis Wolfson had a brother.

P:Sam, Sol, and Cecil.

W:Yes, there were four of them.

P:Sam is dead.

W:Cecil, I believe, was the youngest, was he not?

P:Cecil is the youngest. Sol lives in Jacksonville.

W:Is Cecil still living too?


W:I had no particular reason to keep in touch with them.

P:Louis lives in Miami.


P:Anyway, you had no involvement in that activity. As a result,

you were not called to testify for the Kefauver

investigation in Florida.

W:That is right. I was never associated in any way with any

inquiries or investigations.

P:After Fuller was elected, what role did you play in the


W:As a part of the campaign, I was handling his schedule for all

of his appearances and making those arrangements. That

involved keeping people that had known Fuller and getting

them organized in their particular communities and getting a

schedule of commitments for Fuller to go all over the state

to meet with his people. So when Fuller was elected, he

realized that he had no particular gift or patience to deal

with taking their campaign and pulling it all into an

operation of state government under his new responsible role

as governor of the state of Florida. He felt that I would

be of a great deal of help to him. I was in Miami of course

at that time. I had opted to go after the war to Miami. My

going had nothing really to do with my having been born

there. I went there and opened a PR office. The University

had held my job open for me. Dr. Tigert wanted me very much

to return. He wrote me a few letters during the two and

one-half years that I was in China. I heard from him on

occasions. He kept that spot open for me and wanted me to

very much to come back, but I opted to go to Miami. That is

where I had my office at the time I agreed to [help] Fuller.

I had a chap named Hague who was working with me, and Al

Lang. Both of them are since deceased. They were able to

keep my office going.

P:So you just took a leave from your office while you worked with

Fuller during the campaign.

W:That is right.

P:Okay. Fuller is elected now. What role did you play in the


W:After he was elected, then he asked me to come and become his

assistant. He asked Charlie Clark, who had grown up with

him in Blountstown, to do the same thing. Charlie was not

as well known as I was because of my many years at the

University of Florida. That is why I was valuable to

Fuller, and he knew that. I did have connections and

friends all over the state of Florida. I had been alumni


P:Do not get into that yet.

W:He knew that I could do a lot of things in the working of that

office that would be important and that he did not have a

particular interest or feel for. When I was Miami, part of

the time my office was in connection within the same

building and on the same floor as the Shutts Bowen law firm.

Frank Shutts was one of the early founders of The Miami

Herald. Bowen was a big attorney. Dorothy McMaster was a

very exceptionally capable secretary. So she loaned at

times for part of the campaign, or some of her time was

given. So when the campaign was over, in thinking of an

office operation, it became necessary to have an excellent

secretary for Fuller. So Dorothy was engaged. Her office

was right here at the end of the reception room, so she

became the receptionist and Fuller's personal secretary.

P:This was in Tallahassee?

W:Right. So you would walk up and go into the reception room in

the governor's office, and at the far end was Dorothy

McMaster sitting there. Off to her right would be an

entrance into the governor's office. From the governor's

office would be the next office. He would have Charlie

Clark in one office and me in another.

P:So you left Miami and you moved to Tallahassee?

W:Yes. I took a leave of absence from my office.

P:And you established a residence in Tallahassee then?

W:That is correct. In Gainesville, I had become a Kiwanian, so I

became a member of the Kiwanis Club in Tallahassee. I

rented a house out there. I used to give parties there.

Interestingly, because I liked milk so much, I was persuaded

that goat's milk was the best of all milk. So I bought two

goats. I had somebody come in and milk the goats. Dale

Clark--does that name mean anything? He was the foremost

banker in the state. He was the king of the banking world

in Monticello. He had been in the legislature. He was a

great early supporter of Fuller's. So I would have him

among my early guests out at my place.

P:So what job did you do as the assistant to Fuller? Did you

schedule events and appearances?

W:He called me the assistant governor. He had them make a car

plate [that said] assistant governor. I still have that

around some place. He did not give that to Charlie Clark,

but he gave it to me. He called me assistant governor. In

that era, there was no lieutenant governor.

P:Yes, of course.

W:Later, that became a legal office.

P:Tell me specifically what you did.

W:I was just the assistant governor, really.

P:Did you have anything to do with appointments?

W:Oh yes. He did not make any appointments.

P:No, I mean the people that he selected on commissions and


W:I had to know all about that. I had to relate to the people

that wanted appointments of their particular friends made.

P:Did you do any liaison work with the legislature?


P:The legislature met every other year then.

W:That was Charlie Clark's job.

P:I see. He did that work. You scheduled public appearances for

Fuller then as he went around the state.

W:All the many invitations that came in to him.

P:You had nothing to do with his romantic life. [Laughter].

W:No, I did not.

P:I am just laughing about that.

W:Yes. Damn Cupid and Fuller had a very special relationship.

Then Cupid got he and Barbara together.

P:They met in California?

W:Well, they met when we went out for a trip. That is when he

met her. I met her too.

P:I was trying to think of what motivated him to go out there. I

do not know.

W:He went out to promote Florida citrus in California.

P:And he met her and she was a starlet, as they called them in

those days. She was a very attractive woman from her


W:A very pretty woman. Not a sensationally great woman, but very

pretty. [She was] a bright enough person. Fuller fell for

her beauty.

P:Her allure.

W:You see, Fuller had just never particularly gotten too involved

romantically with anybody up to that time. He was a sitting

duck. She saw that he was an attractive man, and a superb


P:And the governor.

W:Attractive, and the governor of a state. She was ready.

P:That did not last very long though, did it not?


P:They were married in Tallahassee or in California?

W:They were married in California.

P:I wonder if she is still living.

W:She was living up until a few years ago. I saw her once or

twice after their divorce. We were friendly enough. I just

do not know. I do not have that answer.

P:Let me go back now to the 1920s. You leave Gainesville, and

you go into Jacksonville to become the sports editor. You

were only twenty-one years old.

W:I was the youngest sports editor ever of a major, daily


P:That was a real responsibility, was it not?

W:Absolutely it was.

P:How much did they pay you?

W:You know, I really cannot recall.

P:With you marvelous recall, your memory?

W:No, I do not recall. I really do not recall. Money and

finances were never a strong suit with me.

P:By this time, Culley did not have a staff, but did you have a


W:They told me I could have one assistant. I engaged a young man

by the name of Arnold Fennefrank, who had come in though to

work with Harry Culley because Harry was needing some help.

He was there. He was a Jacksonville boy. He went to the

University of Alabama. I had met him. He had not been

there too long with Harry, but I had met him and liked him.

He was just a little short fellow.

P:I remember him.

W:Arnold Fennefrank. They said you can have one assistant, so I

just retained Arnold because he had all the good qualities.

P:What were your responsibilities as sports editor?

W:Just everything that related to sports.

P:You covered the football games?


P:You had to go down to Gainesville to see football games?

W:Yes, or you would send somebody down. You would send Arnold

down maybe.

P:You covered the Florida vs. Georgia game of course.

W:You were responsible for how your sports section in the

newspaper was laid out.

P:How did you get the news or the information of the activities

that went on up north or elsewhere?

W:From what is known as the wire services--the AP wire and the

UPI wire. That is how it all came in, by telegraph.

P:Now I know that the big prize fights, the heavyweight champion

prize fights, were something that caught the interests of

people everywhere. Those were broadcast, were they not?

Radio was coming in.

W:That is right. If I can defer a moment to go back to my junior

and senior years. In my senior years, I was sports editor

of The Gainesville Sun. I could do that. It was an

afternoon paper. I would be responsible for going in there.

That is part of why I was not that involved in the

curriculum. I was doing so many things, you see.

P:You did not have time to be a student.

W:I did not have any time. At The Gainesville Sun in those days,

the World Series was the particular thing. Bill Arnold was

the business manager of The Sun. W.M. Pepper Sr. owned The

Gainesville Sun. They had these windows on the west side of

the building. The building was right by the post office.

You remember the big post office?

P:It is still there.

W:It looked like a little piece of Greek architecture.

P:It is still there. I was in it this week.

W:Immediately east of it was The Gainesville Sun building.

P:It is still there too.

W:Bill Arnold was a great baseball fan. They would have the AP

wire ticker right in there. He would have it hooked up so

that he could [[please finish thought]]. He put a big

megaphone through the window, and would stick it out the

window. He would sit there inside the building, speaking

into this big megaphone, and give the play by play to

people. People would stand out there, kind of in front of

the post office. The police kind of closed off the street

so that you could stand there and listen to the play by play

in front of the post office.

P:Did they not do something like that also at The Florida Times-

Union. I thought I remembered reading about that. They had

the big bulletin board or something. People would stand out

in the street and you would see what was going on as they

changed the wording.

W:Sure. Yes they did some of that. There was a chap named Tommy

Jenkins. Tommy Jenkins was foreman of the composing room.

In that day, everything was set in type. They used liner

type machines and set it. Tommy was a great sportsperson,

so he organized that for the Times-Union.

P:Do you remember the Sharkey vs Jack Dempsey fight?


P:You were at the Times-Union then. I have forgotten the date of


W:I will tell you there are many things now that happened through

that era, but the thing that I remember most, I think, are

things to be remembered. You just forget many things. That

was an era that I had there. Then I went back to the

University. Other things became more important. During my

year there, the New York Yankees trained in St. Petersburg.

That was in Babe Ruth's era. [With] Jacksonville being the

largest city in Florida and a great baseball town, they

would schedule [training] at St. Petersburg and come to

Jacksonville to play a game in the afternoon either with the

Jacksonville Tars, the St. Louis Cardinals, or somebody that

was training in Florida. They would meet there and have

that game. Each would move on to start their respective

trips going back to their home base to start their season.


They would always leave by train. They traveled by train then,

[and] are still traveling by train. The Yankees would have

their private coach. It was interesting. I saw this happen

a couple of times--only twice I guess. You would go down,

and follow the team the end of their departure. You would

cover their game. Their train pulled out usually at 10:00

p.m. If their next stop was Charleston, Birmingham, or

wherever they were playing the next day, they would leave at

10:00 at night. They would have to really role Babe Ruth

into the train. He had been drinking through the evening.

P:That was one of his problems.

W:That was his problem, yes. He played a lot of baseball, they

say. I never was

P:I want to ask you what brought you back to the University of

Florida? Why did you leave the job at The Florida Times-

Union and come back to Gainesville?

W:I had an opportunity to do two things. I got the offer from

the University of Florida.

P:Who made that offer to you?

W:Everett Yon. They had nobody down there doing that. Jimmy

Boyd from Jacksonville was Phi Delta, a member of my

fraternity, and he was graduate manager of athletics. Sam

Butts. You knew Sam?

P:I knew Sam.

W:Did you know who he married?

P:I have forgotten.

W:He married the daughter of W.M. Pepper.

P:That is right, he married the Pepper girl.

W:Sam came out of Anapolis.

P:They lived near us--about four or five blocks away. I knew


W:I am not sure that Sam finished Anapolis, but he had gone


P:Anyway, he was involved in bringing you back to Gainesville.

W:No, he was not. W.M. Pepper knew that being sports editor

to The Gainesville Sun was not a big enough job for his son-

n-law. So he aimed at The Times-Union. It was all a coming

together of a lot of things. So the University of Florida

offered me this spot.

P:So that would free up the position in Jacksonville.

W:To take...


W:That would give an opportunity for Sam Butts. I was to start

in October. Then there was a group in Springfield

[Jacksonville]. I will show you the copies of the

Springfield [[please fill in--inaudible]].

P:Let me ask you something. Was this a disappointment to you,

that you were leaving Jacksonville? Actually, were you

being fired from Jacksonville?

W:Well, I do not think I was being fired.

P:But it was an arrangement over which you had no control.

W:I would say that there were those forces at work.

P:So The Gainesville Sun, the Peppers, worked with The Florida

Times-Union owners. Who were the owners of The Florida

Times-Union then?

W:Well, you know the construction of the company? You know how

it is run?

P:No. You mean during the 1920s?


P:No. Unless that is unimportant to the story here. I want to

get you back to Gainesville.

W:It is not unimportant in the fact that the owners of The Times-

Union was the railroads.

P:Okay, the Florida East Coast Railroad. I know that.

W:There are three railroads. The general council's of the three

railroads made up the board of director's of The Times-

Union. The board had installed a man by the name of Willis

Ball as editor in chief.

P:I knew Mr. Ball.

W:Did you know his son Phil?



P:His grandson lives in Gainesville now.

W:I must tell you a cute story. You may want to edit it out.

P:Oh no. I am not going to edit. Anything that you say is


W:This is one of the great newspaper stories of all time.


W:They had a weatherman by the name of Frank Wing.

P:By the they, you are talking about The Times-Union now?

W:Yes. He was a reporter, but he was more than a reporter. He

had a talent for writing jingles. So he wrote weather

jingles. You would read The Times-Union, read his jingle,

and he would tell you the weather report.

P:I did not know that.

W:[It was] very unique. Frank Wing was the only man that I ever

knew who drank this way. He did not drink but he

would take his bottle of ammonia that he would never keep in

his desk. He would keep it in his desk and keep it refilled

from his homes supply of ammonia. I never knew of


P:Real ammonia?

W:Real ammonia. He would take and put some ammonia in a cup. He

would go back to the water fountain and fill it up then--I

do not know the proportions.

P:I thought ammonia was poisonous.

W:No. I do not know the proportions. I have never even

discussed it with somebody. I should sometime. Frank Wing

made many and many a trip from his little writing niche back

to the water fountain. He was kind of always on a pleasant

high. He was like Harry Culley. There was nothing

objectionable about his drinking. He was a quiet fellow.

It was a quiet, jovial high. I guess the management of the

paper, the authorities, got to where they did not like his

style too much. So they had evidently decided, now whether

this went on up to Scott Loftin and W.A. Kaye, two of the...


W:I think they put in W.M. Ball, and then he put in his son Phil

just to operate the paper, not bother them. I do not think

they had anything to do with any administration of the paper

activities. One day, Frank was called to Mr. Ball's office.

The word had seeped around that he was going to be fired by

Mr. Ball. Herbert Bayer--did you ever know Herbert Bayer?


W:[He] was one of the best newspapermen that you could ever find.

He was the police reporter, and a good one. He covered the

police crime scene. He was enormously liked by everybody on

the paper, even the Balls'. They had great respect for him

and everybody else on the paper. Herbert was a good

producer of good covers, writing. He was also a kind of a

SWhen the word got around that Frank Wing was

going to be fired, who managed to get up by the door after

Frank Wing went in and just listen at the door? Nobody

would have dared do that except Herbert Mayer, to be caught

right outside the door like that. It was well enough that

he could hear what was going on. Phil Ball's office was not

that visible, or he was away at the time. I could

understand that Bill was a little bit blustery. He would

have to make some decisions. He may have made the decision

to fire him, but Mr. Ball (the senior) had to really have

confirmed it. So now Frank Wing went in to see Mr. Ball to

make sure that that is what they wanted and he wanted. You

see the two of them ran The Times-Union.

P:I understand that.

W:The senior Mr. Ball was the one who instituted the special

coverage of the legislature. No newspaper, I do not believe

in history, ever covered the legislature. They ran


P:Finish the other story with Frank.

W:I am. The reason I am telling you this.

P:I like what you are telling me.

W:The role of W.M. Ball was editor in chief. He sat there as the

total authority. He was the one that did all this great

work with the legislature. Phil was the managing editor,

and did the day in and day out things. Here was Frank Wing

who had been told that he was losing his job. He asked if

he could go in to see Mr. Ball. That is where Herbert Bayer

came into this picture. That was the rumor. It was known

that Frank Wing was losing his job and he was now going in

to see Mr. Ball. Herbert Bayer got to stand at the door and

listen when Frank Wing went in. I am now paraphrasing the

conversation. He said, "Mr. Ball, is it true that I am

being fired?" Mr. Ball was a very courtly man, if you ever

knew him. [He said], "Yes, Mr. Wing, you are being

dismissed." [Wing said], "Well this is unexpected Mr. Ball.

It surprises me. I thought I was a very good employee and

doing a very good job here. I am surprised to learn that I

am being fired." He said, "Before I leave, would you permit

me to ask you a question?" [Mr. Ball] says, "Of course, Mr.

Wing." "Mr. Ball I would like to ask you what are the four

most useless things in the world?" Accordingly Mr. Ball was

caught unprepared to answer a question like that. How could

you suddenly be asked the question what are the four most

useless things in the world? Have you ever heard this


P:Never. It is a good story.

W:He says, "Yes of course, Mr. Wing." He asked that question.

He says, "Well, I do not believe Mr. Wing I can answer that.

I just do not believe I can have the answer." He said,

"Mr. Ball, I can tell you. The four most useless things in

the world are the two balls on the Pope and the two Balls'

on The Times-Union."

P:[Laughter]. We are not going to edit that out.

W:Well it is Sam Ball and Phil Ball.

P:[Laughter]. So Young left upon that.

W:He left and Mr. Ball was just dumbfounded to hear such a thing.

P:That somebody would be so impertinent.

W:Nobody had ever thought of that, I think, except Frank Wing.

In all the goings on, people thought of W.M. Ball as a

courteous gentleman. He did not know much about the

newspaper, and was put in because of his nice connection

with that. He had the big job of running a newspaper.

P:So as I understand it, to bring you back to Gainesville, Pepper

worked out something with Ball, which created a vacancy in


W:They were trying to...

P:Take care of Sam Butts.

W:The son-n-law. It was not an open thing at all.

P:I understand.

W:It had nothing basically to do [[please finish thought]].

P:They had nothing against you, but they needed your job.

W:That is right. It all just came together without any collusion

I think because every John and Jimmy Boyd [[end of this


P:Jimmy Boyd knew what your talents and accomplishments were.

W:Jimmy was a Jacksonville boy and I had known him...

P:Through the fraternity.

W:Before that actually, in Jacksonville.

P:You said Everett Yon invited you to come back to Gainesville.

W:Oh yes.

P:Do you remember what they were offering you in the way of

duties, responsibilities, salaries, and so on? This was a

new field, was it not? They did not have a sportsperson in

Gainesville at the University.

W:They had nothing of that kind. The University had nobody to

interpret the University. I think this was a tribute to the

foresightedness of Everett Yon and Jimmy Boyd.

P:They were inviting you back first to be PR for the sports

program, were they not?

W:That was all.

P:It had nothing to do with the rest of the University.

W:Nothing to do with the University. The University, per se, Dr.

Murphree was not involved in this at all. This was strictly

the athletic department.

P:The athletic department was paying you?

W:That is right.

P:Where did the athletic department have its offices in those

early years?

W:In the gym.

P:In the gym?

W:That big, old, wooden gym. That is where we had the student


P:Now wait a minute. You said a wooden gym.

W:Well it was big, steel beams.

P:And a green painted wooden thing.


P:Okay, but you know they had put up a gymnasium in 1919, with an

auditorium and a basketball [court].

W:Well, that was where I heard William Jennings Bryan.

P:But they did not have offices there?

W:As far as I know that is where their offices were too. Later

when they built the big gym.

P:I know. I want to get the 1920s. I remember the big gym

coming in later on. That green painted thing outside of the

infirmary and the other brick gymnasium--is that where the

sports or athletic department had its offices?


P:Okay. I did not know that.

W:Everything had to be accommodated in that building.

P:That is where the big dances were held and so on.

W:That is right. It was the centerpiece of the University in

those early years.

P:I remember that, yes. Right behind what became the Florida


W:That is correct. Right from that, as I said, you would go out

and the dining hall was there between the two dormitories.

P:Right. I understand exactly where it is. That is where your

office was. You remember what they were offering you in


W:No, I never have thought about it through the years. I do not

have the slightest remembrance. I have the remembrance of

what was paid Dr. Tigert.

P:I know, but they did not pay anybody very much in those early


W:No, not at all.

P:Even the coaches did not get very much money.

W:That is right. It would be an interesting thing if you want to

do some research to go back and evaluate those kinds of

things. It would just seem infinitesimal. As I say when a

nickel bought you a big bag of popcorn or a Coca-Cola.

P:Or a Hershey bar.


P:Give me the dates of when you left Jacksonville and came back

to Gainesville.

W:I reported on October 1, 1927.

P:Dr. Murphree dies that December.

W:December 8.

P:Yes. So you were only in Gainesville a few weeks before that


W:That is right. Of course, I was always very much at home in


P:Oh sure. You had been a student there for four years.

W:That is right. [I] was very much involved in things.

P:And you knew people and people knew you, both downtown at The

Gainesville Sun property and on campus.

W:That is right. [[Break in tape]].

P:I want to ask you Frank about what your responsibilities were

going to be. You said they had not been spelled out


W:Well they did not have any...I am trying to think in terms of

business or otherwise.

P:The point is they had never had a sports director before in

charge of activity like that.

W:No, and there was not one anywhere in the south.

P:So you were creating something.

W:I pioneered. I was the first appointee of this kind to any

university in the south. Six months after I was named and

went on the job, Tulane named a man by the name of Horace

Renegar as the sports publicity man. He was the first after

me--six months later. We became very good friends. We

exchanged a lot of conversation and commentary.

P:What sports were there? Football, baseball, and basketball

were obvious sports for you to cover.

W:Yes. I think the next important sport was swimming.

P:They already had a swimming pool on campus?

W:That is right, and a swimming team.

P:Before they had the swimming pool, which came in the middle of

the 1920s (about 1924 I guess), what did they use for


W:Well, we went out to Devil's Millhopper. What was that little

lake out there--it was part of Devil's Millhopper? Then you

went out to the lake east of Gainesville.

P:Newnan's Lake? You did not go that far did you?


P:Let me tell you [this]. Near my house, off of what is now

Twenty-Second Street (I am sure in the 1920s that was the

woods then), there is a sinkhole with water in it that is

known as Freeze's Pond. I understand that was used.

W:Oh yes. I am glad you mentioned it. Is that still there?

P:That is still there.

W:We went many a time to Freeze's Pond.

P:I have a picture of a board projecting out. I guess a diving

board is what you would call it with what looks like the

swimming team. The men [were] in one piece bathing suits.

They are young enough so that they must have been University

of Florida students. I was told that was so far out in the

woods, way out in the woods, that the students used to go

out there sometimes without any bathing suits at all. Not

the swimming team, but just students.

W:Oh that is true. I remember it.

P:It was a swimming hole.

W:Freeze's Pond.

P:It is still there.

W:How is it used now.

P:You know there are houses around it now. It is just a

landscaped area now. Nobody swims in it at all. So it was

used by the swimming team?

W:Oh yes.

P:Okay. That kind of authenticates what I heard is the story.

W:That is true.

P:You would get to it by the path going through the woods.


P:So swimming was a competitive sport.

W:Tennis was

P:You said they had two tennis courts.

W:That is right. We had some very good tennis players. We had

some early champions from that era.

P:You played golf. Were any other students involved in that

activity? I know it was not an organized sport that early.

W: No, it was not. It became a competitive sport some time later

than that.

P:Was it your responsibility to do any reporting on the

intramural activities?

W:No. It was not. That was primarily an exercise activity.

Those that were involved in it, if it was the fraternity

league or the dormitory league, you had two leagues.

P:Did you have any assistants working with you?

W:No, I did not.

P:No students?

W:No. I had a secretary.

P:You shared that secretary, I bet.

W:Cary Deaton, whose husband was the manager of the Commercial

Hotel. Do you remember the Commercial Hotel?

P:Oh sure, yes.

W:Down on Main Street.

P:The building is still there. They have turned it into an

office building.

W:Right on the corner. That is when you headed out that way, you

head toward the west part of the campus.

P:Right. It was just on the downtown.

W:Cary Deaton was my secretary for several years. That is all we

had. There was no format laid out. They just knew I knew

the University. I knew the sports picture. I was a fairly

innovative type person, and an initiative taking type

person. All they knew is that Frank will come in and do

everything he can.

P:Frank, I want to interrupt about this episode. There was

something I wanted to ask you earlier that I do not know

much about. They had in the 1920s organizations on the

campus known as the Ribbon Societies. What were they?

W:They were primarily...

P:Social groups?

W:They were strictly social groups. If you could get tapped into

a Ribbon Society, you would be a part of a group that would

plan a dance.

P:Oh I see.

W:You would carry out a dance.

P:So you had no political activity or student government

activity--nothing like that on campus?

W:No. We had two to begin with. There was good competition

among those two to put on the best dance of the season.

They were usually a mix of both fraternity and nonfraternity


P:Frank, I know of your interest in journalism. I want to ask

you also about the underground newspapers that were

published on the campus in the 1920s. La Fouquet was one of

them. Does that ring a bell with you? I know they were

there. I have seen some copies of them in our archives.

W:Well, I would be interested to be briefed on that by you.

P:They were very mild. They were called underground newspapers.

They call them that now. They really kind of criticized or

made attacks against particular faculty or administrators.

I know that there was one which had many references to

Fuller Warren, who was then a student on campus, in which

they referred to him as the "west wind", indicating that

there was a lot of hot air and so on associated with what he

said and did.

W:I have a recall about that sort of thing.

P:Not many?

W:No. It did not really take hold.

P:It was not the rebellion activities of the 1960s.

W:Fortunately. I do not think those were wholesome things. The

Alligator had an editor named Wil Fairbanks, from

Jacksonville. He was an intelligent individual, scholarly.

He turned some issues of The Alligator into very critical

type reporting on faculty and students. It only survived

for two years of his editorship. Then it got back into

hands less volatile and critical.

P:The honor system was very much in vogue when you were there.

W:It sure was. You would go by, put down a nickel, and get an


P:Professors did not stay in the room when a test was given.

W:Correct. Yes, I thought that was a great part of the

University of Florida.

P:They are trying to revive that now. I do not know whether they

are going to be successful or not.

W:You were dealing with a smaller number of people.

P:And perhaps a more honest time.

W:A more manageable type of group, manageable in the sense that

if you had a good idea or plan, you could managed it into

this group. You are right. Growing up in Live Oak and in

Jacksonville, we never locked the door, and never thought of


P:Or never locked up a bicycle.

W:That is right. We never thought about it. So I grew up in an

era totally different from what we have evolved into as a


P:Frank, do you remember a man on campus, a student by the name

of Angus Laird [Angus MacKenzie Laird, Instructor, History

and Political Science]?

W:Very well. He was from west Florida. He later taught at the

University of Florida.

P:In the 1930s.

W:I remember Angus. I thought about [him] as just a good,

wholesome, country boy.

P:I have an interview with Angus. He did about three years ago

in a nursing home in Tallahassee.

W:My goodness.

P:He lived a good, rich life though.

W:Yes. I liked Angus. He was the epitome of a honor system, let

us say.


W:When Angus was around, and said, "We are going to have an honor

system fellows," he could have been dean of the Honor System

Program. He was that type of person.

P:While you were on campus, and after you left and went to

Jacksonville and returned, you still maintained your

interest in your fraternity. What were you, the chapter

advisor when you came back?

W:Yes. As I said, through my graduate years, I had three

important posts during my sophomore, junior, and senior

years. I was Rush chairman, secretary, and then president

those three years. When I came back, Dean Riley was chapter

advisor for a while. Professor Morgan, who was out of the

Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, was in the School

of Architecture.

P:I think his name was Ralph Morgen [Professor of Chemical


W:I believe that is right. Weaver [Rudolph Weaver, Director of

School of Architecture and Allied Arts] was head of the

School of Architecture. We used to talk about Frank Lloyd

Wright. They had some great stories about Frank Lloyd

Wright. I can tell you two or three at the right time. He

was chapter advisor for a while.

P:Were you not active on the regional basis and even the national


W:That is correct. In Phi Delta Theta we had what is known as

the province president. The province president was a person

recommended to the general council of the fraternity. That

was the five member national board. They were at a point

then that the individual (after they checked them out), who

would represent the best interests of the fraternity in the

chapters of a certain region [[please finish thought]]. The

region that I was asked to be a part of was Florida and

Georgia. We had chapters at the University of Florida,

Florida State, Rollins College, University of Miami, and

other places. Those were the principal ones when I was

active in that role. I did quite well there. I was in that

role. After the war, I was asked to come back and serve as

province president again. Sam Nunn [U.S. Senator, GA], who

has had a good record, was in the chapter at Georgia when I

was a province president. I have got to meet him there. We

have exchanged correspondence in the time since then. [We

had] some very wonderful young men. We have got a couple of

them right here now. One is a circuit judge in Sarasota,

Russel Thomas, and his brother Jack Thomas. They are both

very active Phi Delts. They were in the chapter then. They

like to talk about it. That is when the first met me, when

I came up from the University of Florida and had some

official status with the fraternity.

P:Now you are the only surviving member of that original class in


W:That is right. I went to that seventieth year reunion.

P:They honored you that weekend, did they not?

W:That is right.

P:Now the house that they lived in when you were just organizing,

you moved from there to where? I was just trying to get the

progression of fraternity houses.

W:They stayed in that house until they went to a house that was

on the site where the present house is. Then they bought

that property. They destroyed that house, and started fresh

with the present house. That has been the fraternity home

now for a great many years. It was so well built. We had

an architect who was a Phi Delt--another one, not Morgen.

[He] was over in the School of Architecture.

P:Are they not on Thirteenth Street now across from Tigert Hall?

W:Yes, right across.

P:I thought they moved out of a two story brick building on what

was then Washington Street, and is today Fifteenth Street.

W:Washington Street was the name of that street where the

building was when we were chartered. Was that not

Washington Street around the corner?

P:Yes. Let us get back now to the main reason that you came back

to Gainesville. That is to be the sports publicity director

in charge of the athletic program.

W:That is right. As I said, there was no format given to me. My

appointment reflected an enormous amount of confidence in

me, my background, and experience. They felt that with the

enthusiasm that I had shown that I would be able to take

that job and make something very good of it for the

University of Florida.

P:Very quickly, they broadened the base of that from sports

program to the director or public relations for the entire


W:Well, that was done when Dr. Tigert [John J. Tigert, president,

University of Florida, 1928-1947] came there. Dr. Tigert

came in. He was a Phi Delta Theta. He was the national

president of Phi Delta Theta when he was appointed and came

to the campus. So I immediately was able to have not only a

professional relationship there in the work, but also a nice

personal relationship. Dr. Tigert was not an easy person to

know well. He kept his distance from people. He was quite

a different type than Dr. Murphree was. We became quite

close in every respect. He would call me on the phone and

ask my opinion oftentimes about something he was considering

in the president's office. He would call me over there on

occasion to talk about matters. He had not been there long

when he gave these first calls. My of these calls I spoke

about to him later when I had to the whole University in my

responsibility net. He called me one day (he had not been

there long), and he called me Mr. Wright two or three times.

After that it was Frank. He called everybody else by their

University name. Everybody was Dean Benton to him, Dr. so

and so, or whatever was the proper title. He got down to

where he was calling me Frank all the time, which I

appreciated because it made me feel a little bit more

relaxed in the relationship, and easier to deal with. So he

said, "I seem to feel that we have got the cart before the

horse here at the University. As you know from having

handled the reporting of my appointment to come here as the

president, I had quite a career in sports. I was second

string, all southern, halfback at Vanderbilt. In baseball I

was a conference first team, baseball player. I am clearly

an athletic fan. I seem to see a lot in the papers about

sports here, but I do not see anything about the

University." I said, "Dr. Tigert, that is understandable.

There is nobody. Frank Cooper [Francis J. Cooper, Editor,

Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension Service],

because we are a land grant university, is looking out for

anything in the agricultural sense, experiment station

sense, and extension division sense. Only when there is

something from the College of Agriculture that is newsworthy

will he send that out." I said there is not that much

because most of the news is coming out from the people that

were into those other programs. I said, "There is just

nobody doing it." He said, "I can see you are getting a lot

in the press about this. Would you be willing to take on

the responsibility for the rest of the University?" I

remembering saying this very well. I said, "Whatever is

your wish, Mr. President. That is what I will try to do."

He said, "Well, I want you to take this on. I will go to

the Board of Control and get a suitable increase for you to

take on the responsibility of the entire University, keep

the sports, the athletics department, and let us see what

will happen." So I did. I did that for a good many years.

P:Once again, did they back it up with some student help or some

other staff people?

W:Really no. I continued that with one secretary. I did get the

use of some student help, a little bit of help to have some

students in who were interested in writing. They were just

temporary. It still was just a much bigger job for Frank

Wright to do with a secretary.

P:The University continues to grow.

W:Yes. After that happened, suddenly [there] was another call

from Dr. Tigert. He says, "I have an impossible situation

here with Mr. Stoutemire."[[Larry, I asked Dr. P about this

name--cannot find in the Alumni book--we think this is how

it is spelled]] Did you get Ralph? Did you ever get Ralph?

P:No, I did not.

W:Ralph was the first alumni secretary the University ever had.

He came either from west Florida or from small town in

central Florida. I think he too was a west Florida man. To

make a long story shorter, in his role as alumni secretary,

when Dr. Murphree died, Jimmy Farr [James Marion Farr] was

head of the English department. He was the senior person on

the staff.

P:He was also vice president of the University.

W:Yes, he had been given that title. He did not have to function

in that role very much.


W:He was more or less a paper title. He said, "Mr. Stoutemire is

giving me a great deal of problems." What had happened was

Ralph Stoutemire belonged to the old school you might say,

or the original school. When the vacancy occurred, he

immediately undertook to try to bring about the election of

Jimmy Farr to succeed Dr. Murphree.

P:Jimmy Farr had been the vice president, and he assumed the

acting presidency.

W:That is right.

P:He had first said he did not want to be president, but he

quickly changed his mind, did he not?

W:I believe that is right. Ralph Stoutemire, instead of making

input, in any way that he wanted to [[please clarify]]. [He

could write] to Alumni Affairs. I am sure he passed on the

feeling. What he actually did, Sam, was to begin an

intensive contact with the alumni everywhere. He was just

making sure that they contact the Board of Control. It is

the Board of Regents now. He insisted on the Board of

Control that Jimmy Farr be made president. P.K. Yonge was

chairman of the Board of Control at that time. I do not

know the others offhand. I could think about it. They had

other ideas. I guess growing out of contacts that they had

had with Dr. Farr or with people who knew Jimmy Farr would

be for him. Other people said now is the time to get an

outstanding educator to head the University.

P:We were at a real turning point.

W:I think that is right. I think a new opportunity and a new era

was in hand, and I do not think we can move into it with

Jimmy Farr. That became the persuasion of the Board of

Control. In time, they had finished their search, and were

ready to announce Dr. Tigert. I had been involved in

dealing with P.K. Yonge, and I have a wonderful picture of

him now in my files. I got a call that they were coming

down to make announcement and wanted me to handle the

announcement that Dr. John J. Tigert had been named


P:After all, he had been the U.S. Commissioner of Education.

That was a very prestigious job.

W:For eight years.

P:Very prestigious.

W:He had been a very outstanding student at Vanderbilt.

P:And came from a distinguished family.

W:His grandfather, Bishop McTyeire, founded Vanderbilt.


W:He went on as a Rhodes Scholar. When he came back, he was

president of Kentucky Wesleyan [College] in 1927. [[Larry--

we are not sure what he means by in the twenty-seventh]].

He had a lot of credentials.

P:Now I noticed too that you play an active role not only on

campus in public affairs and public relations, but you also

play a very active role on the national level.

W:Before I forget it, in the community too I was quite active.

P:I am going to get to your involvement with the community. I

noticed that you are the American College Public Relations

Association national president, an 800 member operation.

W:1936 to 1937, I was elected in Boston, Massachussets. My term

ended at the convention in Louisville, Kentucky. I was the

first University of Florida PR director and to date.

P:I was going to ask you about comparing it all the way up to the


W:No one from the University of Florida has ever achieved that

same distinction of being president.

P:Did that call for a lot of travel that time you served as

national president?

W:No, it did not. It did call for some, but not too much. It

was manageable.

P:As a person in charge of public relations, news releases, and

so on for all of the academic community and all of the

University of Florida, you wrote stories for the papers.

W:I will tell you [what] one of the first strong developments

that took place was. When that was done and the president

announced here was Frank Wright, who was known for his work

in the sports, is taking on the entire University, every

dean of the college said, "Son, I will make the most of

this." The most difficult person that I had to deal with in

that connection was Dean Benton [J.R.] was dean of...


W:Dean Benton was the Ichabod Crane of his time; a tall, slender,

lean, and gaut fellow. He did not know much about public

relations at all to begin with. Some of them did, and some

did not. They were so grown into their work, they did not

care anything about dealing with the faculty and the

students. The outside world did not interest them. They

did not have to go before committees and things like that to

justify budget requests. All that was worked out with the

president of the University. Townes Randolph Leigh [Dean of

the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and head of the

chemistry department].

P:Oh yes. And Mrs. Lee.

W:Did you ever know them?


W:Obviously you did from your response. He had a very

interesting war record. He never let me forget it. He

would ask me to come to his office almost every other day it

seemed like, just to try to find something that I could

write about about him. It was not a college then. It

started out as a department of the University and became a

school of pharmacy.

P:Who was the director of the school? It was not Perry Foote

[Perry Albert Foote, Associate Professor of Pharmacy] yet in


W:Townes ran the whole thing.

P:Oh he had that under his jurisdiction too. He came here as

chairman of chemistry. Then of course he broadened it out.

He became then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I

had forgotten that he organized the pharmacy program on


W:Then Weaver was head of the school of architecture.

P:Rudolph Weaver.

W:He was a handsome man. He was a very publicity minded person.

It was an ongoing competition from all these newcomers now

who could access somebody who could interpret what they were


P:Did they feed you ideas for feature stories? Did you do that

kind of thing?

W:Well, some would feed them to me very regularly and with others

you would have to build a fire under them to tell me what

was really going on. I got along with everybody very well.

P:You got along with Garland Powell [Garland W. Powell, Director,

Radio Station WRUF]?

W:Yes. Garland Powell had come in there, as you know, to pioneer

the radio station. He never attempted to feel that WRUF was

a substitute for what I was doing. He was very much

interested in an Americanism program.

P:He was a superpatriot was he not?

W:Yes he was. I was myself, so to speak. I always got a flutter

in my heart when I saw the American flag flying. I had been

in the ROTC Program. I was just a pretty good American I

thought. Garland and I got along very nicely. He wanted

his place to be an empire to itself. It was unique. That

was a new dimension of information to the public domain and

I respected that.

P:I guess he worked closely too with Dean Joe Weil [Joseph Weil,

Dean of the College of Engineering] in setting up the

electrical work.

W:That is right. Joe Weil then became dean of engineering. He

was a great guy to work with because he had a great flair

for publicity. If you had a flair for it, it made it easier

for me. If anything, you found that you were having to put

breaks on these folks at times because they were expecting

everything. They would forget anybody else had anything on

campus going on. I much preferred having to deal with

putting the breaks on some of these people.

P:Than building a fire.

W:Than building a fire under them in order to get something.

Otherwise, you would not have any real interpretation of the

University as a whole.

P:What about you and Major Riley?

W:B.C. Riley? Bert C. Riley? I always got along great with Bert

C. Riley. He had an empire of his own. He was an empire

builder. His interest in the University was primarily

relating to those people, professors and others, who he

could get into his extension program. He would either write

materials for that or go out and lead classes once or twice

a week at Ocala, Orlando, or wherever he was putting his

program in place. He did a great deal that way. He took

the University into the communities in ways that was not the

case and case for years.

P:It was the sciences.

W:The only thing that went out from the campus, the University,

in the early years was from the College of Agriculture

because it was a land grant university. The other

activities were just submerged and so forth.

P:Did you earn your keep?

W:Oh boy, I know I did. I never worked harder in my life than I

worked during my fifteen years there. As I say, I left

fifteen years to the day. I took over the total University

within the time Dr. Tigert was appointed and came there in

the spring of 1928. It was not long after that, as I say,

that I had the whole University on. It is not self serving

to say that you are conscientious. Anybody that has ever

known me knew that was one of my characteristics.

P:When you left to go to The Times-Union and move to

Jacksonville, you gave up your lodging, the apartment or

whatever it was you were living in up until that time,


W:Oh yes.

P:In Gainesville?

W:Oh yes.

P:When you move back now to Gainesville, is it at the end of

1927? It is. At the end of 1927 you move back to

Gainesville to take over as sports director. Where did you

yourself live in Gainesville?

W:Because I knew everybody there was [single]. Tom Sebring was

single. He was the head coach. Warren Cowell [Warren

Cassius Cowell, Associate Professor of Coaching and Physical

Education] was single. Dick Stanley, who managed Ma

Ramsey's was single. Do you remember Dick Stanley?

P:Oh sure.

W:He was the brother of Spick Stanley.

P:Oh yes. I missed what you were saying there. Dick Stanley I


W:I got there, and they said, "Come and take an apartment. We

will all form an apartment." We had the whole top upstairs.

P:Where was this?

W:Ma Ramsey's.

P:Oh I see. Okay.

W:We had the whole spread.

P:That was convenient up there. Did you all eat at Ma Ramsey's


W:Yes. We ate at Ma Ramsey's. In time, we spread out a little


P:You did not have too many selections of eating places.


P:You had the Varsity Grill down on the corner of Ninth and


W:That is right.

P:The Black Owl.

W:That is right.

P:And of course the College Inn.

W:That is right.

P:Was the Primrose already in operation?

W:The Primrose Grill was there.

P:And the Royal Cafe downtown.

W:And the Greek Cafe. Josh Cody had a Greek football player. He

lived down there. He took his meals in there. It was a

problem. He was drinking twenty cups of coffee a day.


W:His name was Petronas. He was in his element there. He

represented something of a problem in this little way or

that little way. Coffee was one of the things that they did

not want the football players to drink a lot of in that day

and time.

P:It jived them up too much they thought.

W:Whatever the feeling was, they thought it was not good for him.

P:They did not worry too much about smoking in those days.

W:That was slow to come. It was a shame that is was a little bit


P:As slow as it was, yes.

W:I will tell you one of the reasons why is so many coaches

smoked. [They] smoked cigars too. A coach of an athletic

team should be a great example.

P:A role model.


P:Who was the coach when you came back here in 1928?

W:Charlie Bachman [Charles W. Bachman, Professor of Coaching and

Physical Education, Athletic Director, Head Coach].

P:What kind of a guy was he?

W:I had the ability, I guess from my kid days [[end of tape]].

W:...got along well with everybody, reasonably well with

everybody to the point that I could avoid conflicts. I have

been something of a moderator many times, and something of a

healer. It was very interesting. I just had a call this

morning from a good friend of mine, a very good friend of

mine. We were both involved in the same organizations. He

has had a strange exiting from it because when he moved away

for a short time, he was taken out. He did not actually

resign, but when he came back, they did not take him back

in. It has been a thorny problem. Twice today, in the

early morning, in the very short time when we were breaking

to get ready to go at 11:45, I had a call from him. It

involved trying to deal with this problem that he has. Now

we are talking about mature men in their fifties and so


P:Are you talking about the people in Gainesville now? You said

you were able to get along with the coaches and the other

athletic persons?

W:Yes, but I said it has carried over through my whole lifetime.

P:You are a peacemaker.

W:I was involved in

P:Or a bridge builder.

W:Whatever. So I got along well with Charlie Bachman. He was

kind of a country fellow, a swaggering kind of a man. He

was always a cocky fellow. Notre Dame was the king of the

football world, so why should he not be? There was a man in

Jacksonville named Joe Walsh. He was a Notre Dame man. He

just took Charlie Bachman under his wing, and Charlie

Bachman was lucky to have him. So Charlie would go

anywhere. If anybody gave him any trouble, he would get the

word back to Joe Walsh. Joe Walsh would straighten

something out. So we had a lot of Notre Dame influence

under Charlie Bachman. Then his line coach was Joe Bedenk.

He was an all American at Penn State. It was Joe Bedenk,

Tom Sebring, Brady Cowell, and myself were the four who

shared the apartment there for quite a long time. Right on

up to the end, Tom, who married Elise Bishop. Brady Cowell

did not marry during my era. He was coach at Stetson, but

he later married. Both of them are deceased. Dick Stanley-

-I have lost touch. Is he deceased? I think he is.

P:I do not know.

W:He was the manager of Ma Ramsey's.

P:I do not know what happened to him or whether he is deceased or


W:His brother, W.A. Stanley, who became a judge, played football

at Florida. He became a judge in Duval County.

P:I do not know him.

W:I think he is deceased now too.

P:How did you get along with Kline Graham [Kline Harrison Graham,

business manager]?

W:Oh perfect. He was a tyrant to a good many people.

P:That is the reason I asked you that question because I knew his


W:Yes. Well I gave you the right interpretation. Kline Graham

was a man who was just bedeviled with his arthritis and bent

over terribly.

P:He lived to a very ripe old age.

W:I just approached everybody. I tell everybody today, "Here you

are. Here is your friend here. Here I am. You like this

guy, and you like me. But you do not want me to like that

guy. I cannot accept that. Let's you and I keep our

friendship. Let you and he keep his friendship. If I

happen to get along well with both of you, wonderful."


W:Do not try to suddenly tell me not to like this guy, if you

have had a falling out with him at some point. It is beyond

an acquaintanceship when you talk like that. I want the

comradery and whatever goes with a nice friendship.

P:When you came back, some new developments happened with

traditions on the campus. When did Gator Growl start?

W:Some things like that I have not thought about in the way of

giving you a specific answer.

P:As director, that is the kind of thing you would be

publicizing. Homecoming you would be publicizing.

W:That is right. I was in on that and publicized it. You would

have Florida Blue Key--that became their hallmark.

P:Homecoming, as it is today.

W:I have been to many Homecomings'. I have been to them in quite

recent times.

P:You have been to the Blue Key banquets of course many times

over the years.

W:Many times.

P:I am sure you have heard some of the great speakers that they

have brought in.

W:Yes I have. It became a great political forum. It was not

conceived to be that, but it emerged into that.

P:Now I want to find out how you happened to also become director

of the Alumni Association. First you are sports director.

Then you are in charge of the whole University.

W:Including so I retained that hat, and then took on a

larger hat.

P:It seems to me they keep widening the brim of this hat that you

are wearing.

W:That is exactly what happened. One day (I think I mentioned it

earlier but just to in passing) Dr. Murphree called me over

to tell me he was having a problem Mr. Stoutemire. He

proceeded to tell me what was happening. After Ralph

Stoutemire lost out in his bid to get Jimmy Farr as

president [[please finish thought]]. I think I have said

this on a few occasions Sam, to maybe some alumnus or

somebody that was sensible and could understand a little bit

of analyzing. I said, "I do not believe saw an otherwise

intelligent man make a dumb and stupid a decision as Ralph

Stoutemire did which led to his demise." He had no vision

of what could come of it, and he put the hangman's noose

around his neck when he started doing what he started doing.

P:In the Farr situation.

W:In the Farr situation. He became animated for Jimmy Farr. He

became very opposing to the selection of Dr. Tigert or

anybody. So Dr. Tigert arrives and starts on the job. Here

was the stupid decision. Instead of accepting it...

P:As a fate accompli.

W:In going about his job, he had been the first alumni secretary,

or later director of Alumni Affairs, which is a better title

I think. He just got on his horse of indignation.

P:He could not get off of it really in many ways.

W:He could not get off of it, and he rode all over the state and

everywhere he could. He wrote every letter he could, and

made every telephone call he could. Here was Dr. Tigert on

the job trying to do well, and trying to get his hands and

feet into a big responsibility. Here was this man (Ralph),

and that included some association with alumni, churning up

opposition, reporting erroneously any conceivable thing that

he could instill into the minds of any alumnus who would

listen to him. [Ralph would say], "He is disliked by the

students. He is hated by the students. He is terrible."

Every conceivable thing. At first, the alumni did not

necessarily respond to that. You see, I mean they heard

Ralph Stoutemire, and maybe they just were not cooperating

in any way. They were not going out of their way to help

Dr. Tigert. Then it got to where they were beginning to

pick up the momentum that Ralph was presenting them. Dr.

Tigert listened to that and endured that sort of situation

for quite a while. Then he called Ralph Stoutemire in. He

said, "Mr. Stoutemire, there is no question about it. You

have not just done a little isolated piece of harpooning

(which is my word for it), but it is something now that I am

getting here and there. I ask you to please desist. Give

me a chance. There surely must be other things you can do

in your role other than just [run me down]." It did not

stop it. Ralph kept it up. He called him in again. Ralph

did not deny it, but he did not promise to stop. After a

third talk from Dr. Tigert, Dr. Tigert called the chairman

of the Board of Control, P.K. Yonge, and he called Dr. T.C.

Cassum, who was president of the Alumni Association (I had

that role). He called the key people in the Athletic

Association, and asked them all to come to his office. As I

said, I was close to Dr. Tigert, and I had a responsibility.

He did not tip me off, but he more or less did, in the

sense that I knew he was going to lay the case before them.


P:Let us get back to something important. The University of

Florida in the 1920s and 1930s.

W:Well we were talking about his meeting coming up.

P:Yes. Dr. Tigert had called. And you were present at that


W:Yes indeed.

P:Was Ralph Stoutemire actually there?

W:Yes. I believe Ralph was definitely there because Dr. Tigert

was a man of no pretense. [[phone rings again]]

P:Now we are back at this meeting.

W:Dr. Tigert said, "Gentleman, we are here on a very serious

situation. I am going to lay out the facts before you."

The reason I know that Ralph was there is because Ralph

could not deny any of the things that Dr. Tigert had said.

He admitted to his actions before the appointment, after the

appointment, and it was crystal clear that he was almost a

traitor to the totality of the University of Florida. He

was really knifing a man who was the head of it. That is

why when I said when Ralph made the dumbest move by not

being able to think instantly that my time is up.

P:Is this when he lost it at that meeting?


P:Did Tigert then remove him?

W:Oh yes.

P:At that meeting?

W:It was voted, unanimously.

P:I see.

W:Dr. Tigert was justified in being rid of this man Ralph


P:Did he make the appointment of you at that meeting also?

W:That is the rest of that story.

P:He had already talked with about it, had he not?

W:No. I do not think he had. I will tell you why I do not think

he did. He said, "I have got a serious meeting on. I do

not know what is going to come of it." I had already

responded to Dr. Tigert once, and I guess that he felt it


P:Safe to give you more responsibility Frank.

W:If the situation arose to do that, he could probably count on

my supporting his actions.

P:On the other hand, placing you in charge of all public

relations at the University, in addition to your sports

activities was one thing. Now making you also director of

alumni relations.

W:That is correct.

P:That is a big, big job.

W:That is right. For example, Horace Renegar continued on for

years as sports publicity director until he died at Tulane.

He did not take on any additional work.

P:Here you have got another big responsibility.

W:I had the University of Florida in total.

P:What year is this that you take over?

W:This was within about a year.

P:Tigert came in 1929.

W:Yes. It was during that year, 1929.

P:By this time, the University has a pretty sizable alumni.


P:We had been in operation in Gainesville since 1906. You

remember they added to the University alumni files, the male

graduates of the schools that preceded--the East Florida

Seminary, the Florida Agricultural College.

W:You had a lot of names in your roster of people who had not

actually been enrolled, but they were the predecessor.

P:Like Robert A. Gray for instance. [He] was a graduate of the

South Florida Military College.

W:That is correct. Yet, we always felt proud of him.

P:Well, they exchanged his diploma.

W:Yes that is correct.

P:Way back some twenty years before Tigert arrived.

W:There might have been some others that asked for it.

P:Anyway, you had a sizable number. You really did not have an

alumni program much to speak of until you arrived.

W:Well, let me go back to the meeting. The first action at that

meeting was Dr. Tigert says, "I feel that if Mr. Stoutemire

continues, I would be uncomfortable here, and I would have

to resign."

P:That is a pretty big threat from a president.

W:That is right. They had no choice. I mean Ralph had picked

the site, and dug his own grave. Here was a man now and

they were in the prospect [[clarify]]. They knew Dr. Tigert

well enough to know he had credentials. He could have gone

well up on the ladder educationally.

P:They were not going to trade Dr. Tigert for Ralph Stoutemire.

W:No way. When he said that, there was a little discussion. The

motion was, "Mr. Stoutemire, it is necessary for you to

resign." Ralph had no choice.

P:He certainly did not at that point.

W:No choice whatsoever.

P:Let us get to your responsibilities as alumni director.

W:Then they made the decision for him to leave, right then,

summarily relieved at that meeting. Then the question

arised, "Who will we appoint? What will we do?" As I say,

I know Dr. Casson very well as an individual from

Jacksonville because he was among those like Frank Norris

from the Atlantic National Bank, Dr. J. Lee Curby Smith, a

famous doctor, and Malcom McCrury, people like that who went

on football trips.

P:I see. People who knew you from then.

W:They knew me very well. Then it was pointed out well, let us

do this. Frank took on that other responsibility quite

recently and seems to be handling it well enough. Dr.

Tigert said, "Yes, he certainly is." So he says, "Let us

ask Frank to take this on for six months. Then we will have

time to find a permanent replacement." At the end of six

months, nobody had come up with any.

P:You were the replacement Frank. [Laughter].

W:I was carrying on. They just somehow felt that Frank Wright

could do it.

P:At that time I suspect they had no real records or things like

that--names, addresses.

W:Well, Ralph had his office in the law school building where the

law school was.

P:Bryan Hall.

W:So I took it over. You had to just do it from scratch. Again,

I was known to so many alumni because of my first connection

and then the broader connection. As I say, I never worked

harder in my life. Write in your book October 1, 1927, and

write September 30, 1942.

P:That is your period of tenure.

W:That is fifteen years to the day, absolutely to the day.

September was my last day on those three jobs because then I

reported on that October 1 to Fort Mead, Maryland to pick up

my active [[please finish thought]].

P:Let me go back once again. I want to keep this in

chronological order. While you were director of Alumni

Affairs with an office in Bryan Hall, what were your

responsibilities? What did you do as director?

W:I will tell you again. I had to start with a certain number of

alumni who had been kind of wedded to Ralph Stoutemire

because Ralph had been a student there. Some had known him

in that capacity. He had been the only one that had ever

dealt with them in any way as a former student of the

University. He did not have much of an alumni program.

P:So the thing was wide open for you.


P:How did you communicate with them? I understand that there was

the beginnings of an alumni magazine.

W:Well, that is right. We started it. I had to become editor of

the alumni magazine. That really was a big job.

P:Of course I have never seen any copies of that alumni magazine.

W:You never did?

P:I have never seen any.

W:They are not in the library?

P:There may be some. Until I began checking your career, I had

not known the alumni magazine went back that far.

W:The Florida Alumnus. I wish you would check it out.

P:I will.

W:I do not know that I have it. I have quite a bit of material

that I have not even looked at in connection to you coming.

P:You edited the magazine.

W:That is right.

P:Where was it printed?

W:By Pepper Printing Company.

P:I see. Then did it just get mailed out to alumni for free, or

did they have to pay for it?

W:We started by getting it out and mailing it to those who paid

their dues.

P:So there was a dues program.

W:That is right. We had alumni dues.

P:Later they dropped the dues for the alumni.

W:That was quite fairly recent.


W:I was not familiar with that change in operation.

P:It sounds to me like you had what amounted to selling

memberships and receiving dues money.

W:We did. Oh yes, we definitely did.

P:So you had a financial responsibility too.

W:It was really a horrendous shock.

P:Did you have a secretary separate from the other secretary?

W:Yes, I kept another one, Gussy Carter.

P:So you had one for the alumni and one for the public relations.

The magazine was just exclusively yours?

W:[[Larry--this is unclear--I am guessing at what he is saying]].

It belonged to the alumni, so to speak.

P:Did you have anybody helping you with the magazine? Any

journalism students?

W:No. Actually I think we tried to develop some activity in that

field, but we did not have any money to pay anybody to do

it. It was a real bootstrap operation.

P:Of course, you are going now into the Depression period too.

W:You are so right.

P:Times were kind of tough in Florida even before the Depression


W:You are so right.

P:The boom bubble burst.

W:Those were lean, lean times.


W:So they did not have anybody to offer an alumni directorship

separate salary to at that time. The alumni were not that

well organized. They certainly were not organized enough to

make an impact in the selection of the president. If they

were a real force, you see, that would have been something

else. They were not that much of a force.

P:Another thing that seems to have started under you that I was

not aware of was the Endowment Program--fund raising.

W:That is true.

P:I had not thought about that.

W:That is true.

P:So many of the later presidents, like Reitz [J. Wayne Reitz,

president, 1955-1967] and O'Connell [Stephen C. O'Connell,

president, 1968-1974] claim credit for that.

W:Well, that was not true really. I never got into that that

much. We did have a little program. I will tell you an

attorney in Gainesville--Irwin Clayton.

P:Okay. I knew Irwin Clayton.

W:He was a law partner of Estes Baxter.

P:I know Mr. Baxter. I knew Mrs. Baxter. She later worked in

the library.

W:Well I have not thought of these names in years, [until] when

you mentioned this now. I knew that there had to be a legal

beginning to something like that. That is when I appealed

to a man that I had come to know quite well. First, Estes

Baxter was the older of the two of them. Irwin was the

younger of the two. So I appealed to Irwin. I knew him

better. Estes Baxter was a strange kind of a man. He was

the senior lawyer in all of Gainesville. I never will

forget he had black hair growing out of both ears, and he

had hair growing out of his nose. I do not know anybody

today that does it, but to me he was such a terrible person

to look at. Nobody, including his wife or children, ever

intervened to tell him to get a barber to clean up that act.

Evidently, they thought it was a mark of distinction. His

law partner never did tell him. So as long he lived, as far

as I know, until his death kept that way.

P:I think he had been associated in earlier years with Senator

Fletcher. It was somebody like that. I do not remember

enough about that.

W:He was a good friend of Dr. Murphree. He was the senior lawyer

in Gainesville, clearly. With Irwin Clayton, they were the

senior law firm.

P:So it was through them you worked?

W:Well, I went to him and asked him to draw up some legal papers

to set up an endowment corporation so we could receive

gifts, and get some support other than what came from the

state legislature. That was the turning point in the whole

thing. The mechanics for that came about at that time.

P:I am sure that was with the cooperation and support of Dr.


W:Yes. Again, [he said], "Frank take on that. Get something

like that started." Well, I did.

P:Dr. Tigert knew he had a good workhorse in you Frank.

W:I guess I cannot deny that. Without seeming self-serving, I

never had a lazy bone in my body. Never. I always had

almost an extra abundance of energy. I was always a willing

Willy about anything. I would just go after it, you know.

P:So that is how you went down to the office and got this set up.

W:That is right. We had to get it chartered, a charter to do

that. That took a little while. Then we got a committee of

alumni interested in that. We did those necessary steps.

P:Well, let me ask the crucial question here now. Were you

successful in getting any gifts?

W:I cannot say that I can point to any singular gift coming in or

think of one. We had people who would say send in their

alumni dues and say, "Here is another ten dollars for the

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