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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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
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
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
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
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.
P:Had you ever been to Gainesville before you enrolled there in
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
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: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
P:Did you work on campus? Did you have a job?
W:No, you see right from the beginning, I was writing. [[end of
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
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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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: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,
P:Did they have tennis courts or racquetball courts on the campus
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
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
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
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...
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
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...
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
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
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: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
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
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.
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.
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
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
W:I reported on October 1, 1927.
P:Dr. Murphree dies that December.
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.
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?
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.
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
P:Was it your responsibility to do any reporting on the
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.
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
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...
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.
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.
P:He lived a good, rich life though.
W:Yes. I liked Angus. He was the epitome of a honor system, let
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
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
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
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.
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
W:No, it did not. It did call for some, but not too much. It
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
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.
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
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,
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?
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?
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
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
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,
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
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
P:You have been to the Blue Key banquets of course many times
over the years.
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
P:It seems to me they keep widening the brim of this hat that you
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
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?
P:At that meeting?
W:It was voted, unanimously.
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
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
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
W:Well, Ralph had his office in the law school building where the
law school was.
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.
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
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
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
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