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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewer: Sherilynn Wood
Interviewee: Robert Wood
S: This is Monday, March 18, 1996. I am Sherry Wood and I am sitting here this
evening with Bob Wood, in our living room. I just want to talk about Bob's life,
and it is a great opportunity for that. First, can you just to get it on the record and
everything, can you just tell me what your whole name is and spell your middle
W: Robert Pierce Wood III, PIERCE.
S: And also Wood, how do you spell that?
S: No "e's" or anything like that. O.k., Bob, can you tell me where you were born
and when you were born?
W: I was born in Jacksonville, Florida on June 3, 1952.
S: I wanted to ask you about your--that you are the III. Can you tell me who is the II
and the I?
W: My father has Jr. tagged on the end of his name and my grandfather has Sr.
tagged on the end of his name. We are a southern family, obviously. My dad
and my granddad both were born and raised in Evinston, Florida, a small town.
It is not even a town now. It is actually just an old general store that says
"Evinston" on the front of it. There is a park there. It is between Gainesville and
Ocala. I guess that was more of a rural thing to name people like that; I do not
really know. I do not see too many tagging that on their names anymore, so
maybe I got something that was kind of a hold-over to an eighteenth-century
custom, I do not know. The only time anyone ever really batted an eye is when I
lived in Scotland and I was applying for insurance one time. I put my entire
name, I put the III and the guy goes, oh, we have royalty here, the III. Other than
that, people usually just take it in stride.
S: So your family has been here for a long time?
W: Yes. My family has been in this area for 125 years. Captain Evins, he was a
confederate cavalry officer, moved down here after the Civil War and founded the
town of Evinston. He is like my great, great grandfather. So the family has been
down there, the family house that Captain Evins built is still down there in
Evinston to stay, still in the family.
S: So you were born in Jacksonville, Florida. Did you grow up there?
W: Yes, I spent most of my school years in Jacksonville, Florida. The early part of
my life I spent in Guam and San Diego and Key West.
S: What is your earliest memory of childhood? Was it in Jacksonville?
W: My earliest memories, I think, are of Guam.
S: How old were you?
W: I turned three in Guam. Sounds like some sort of jelly or jam when you say
Guam. Uh. I got Guam smeared all over me. I got some of this Guam between
my fingers and cannot seem to get it off. I turned three there.
S: How long did you live there? Just for that short period?
W: Eighteen months. So I do not really have any memories before that of anything
S: What is your memory in Guam?
W: The most vivid thing I have is that it was all jungle there. We lived in a clearing in
the jungle and there were quonset huts that were built around in a big circle. A
quonset hut is a, I do not know if you know, has corrugated metal. It looks like
someone cut a huge tin can long ways and set it so it is sort of rounded on the
top. There were screens and slats on the sides so the wind could blow through
because it was hot the whole time. What I remember is my dad would go
snorkeling for shells there in Guam; there is a huge reef that goes out and I can
just remember sitting on the shore, on the rocks, there were caves at the end of
the jungle, and watching my dad walk out, it seemed like he walked out for miles
on this reef. It was nothing but clear blue, nothing else around. I guess that is
the memory. I also remember, I guess in Hawaii you call them luaus, I do not
know what they really called them there because I was only three and I did not
ask. But they had a big party down on the beach and the Guamanian people had
dug a pit and they had skewered these big hogs and they were cooking them in
the pit and there were tables set up and all the adults were running around. Now
from pictures that I have seen I know they were all drinking and they all seemed
like they were having a great time to me. It was a big party celebration. I
remember going up to the table where my parents were and my dad handed me
down this piece of the hog and I still remember the way that it was so sweet and
it melted in my mouth. So I ran away from the table with this thing, like the way a
puppy runs away from the table with a scrap and put it in my mouth and stopped
because it was so good. I turned around and went back to the table to beg some
more, but there was not any more then. I have that memory also of there in
Guam. Those are my earliest memories.
S: I have heard your mother tell a story about you Guam and
W: Well, yes. I do not really remember this, but it is interesting to me to hear it
because at this time in my life I have gotten into music, I have gotten into blues
music and early rock and roll just really appeals to me. My father was in the
Navy, that is why we were there. The Navy, of course, draws people from all
different areas of the country and all different background. So in our little
clearing there in the jungle, there was a young couple from New York City. My
parents used to say they reminded them of beatniks. They used to stay up all
night playing these records over and over again. They would play rock and roll
records and jazz records; this is 1955, so this is some really early stuff that they
were playing, I guess. I suppose I just slept through it, being a little kid, but one
evening it was around dinner time and I went up to my mom and told her to get
into the kitchen and rattle those pots and pans, which is lyric from an old rock
and roll song. I do not know, is that a Bobby Darren song? I cannot remember.
Get into that kitchen and rattle them pots and pans, I do not know, I do not
remember the song. I wonder if some of those rhythms and some of that music
from that early period just sort of got embedded in my head and now I am trying
to work them out with my guys in the band, I do not know. Interesting.
S: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
W: I had a younger brother. He was four years younger than me. His name was
David James Wood and I guess he would have been a senior if he had gotten
married and had children. I guess that is the way my parents would have
planned it, anyway. It is interesting. I always thought of myself as being kind of
artistic. I like music and painting and dance, but I am also very practical. My
brother could never really could seem to get anything practical together, but I
have seen some of the surviving things that he drew; beautiful stuff. I listened to
him play guitar; really interesting, creative. He actually wrote a story and sent it
off. Things I Have Always Wanted to Do. Good story, good science fiction
short story. I still have a copy of that. So I guess in a sense, he was really the
true artist. It is not the person that strives, it is not the soliaries, it is the
Mozarts, the people that are not really trying that just do it, that are the true
artists. He died in his twenties in a motorcycle accident.
S: So he was not born in Guam, if he was four years younger than you.
W: No, he was born in San Diego, California.
S: Was that your next place after Guam?
W: Yes. San Diego, California.
S: That was also because your father was in the Navy?
W: In the Navy, that was his next duty station. I have just a few memories of San
Diego. I remember horseback riding with my mom down in a prairie. We lived
on the edge of what was a large prairie, much like Payne's Prairie reminds me
of that here in Gainesville. There were small single-unit apartments on the edge
of the prairie and I think somewhere along in the prairie there was a dairy farm. I
do remember riding horses there. I think I have pictures of me with a little
cowboy hat on--no! Not a cowboy hat, a Davey Crockett little coon-skin cap.
That is it. Davey Crockett then. I look back on that because later I went back
and I graduated from high school in San Diego, which would be 1970. It is funny
because in my memory as a small child, I remember the prairie like Payne's
Prairie. It sloped down and there was all this open expanse. Now, if you never
knew it was there, you would not know it was there. It is just a dip in the road. I
am always just amazed here in Gainesville that they have been able to preserve
Payne's Prairie, whereas in San Diego, nobody thought about it back then.
There was lots of room; cattle country, orange groves, much like Florida. But
they just kept building and there is nothing left now. But I remember it, it was
S: We hope that that does not happen here. So San Diego, how long did you live
there? Just a short while?
W: Gosh, I do not really know. It all gets kind of blurry there. I remember some
cross-country driving and some long, it must have been across Texas, Arizona,
this unending desert and mountains. I guess I was really struck by that because
my memories up until then were more open ocean, the Pacific Ocean and water
everywhere, running around in shorts or diapers or whatever, training pants.
Then the next thing I remember, the dry dusty journey.
S: So you were traveling across the country when you left San Diego?
W: Right. When we left San Diego, we went to Key West, Florida, which was my
father's next duty station.
S: So your entire family drove across country?
S: What a long drive.
W: Yes, in the 1950s.
S: What year would that be you think?
W: Must have been around 1956 or 1957.
S: Much different on the highways in 1956 and 1957 cross-country.
W: I do not remember a lot of it, to tell you the truth. What I remember is later years
driving Interstate 10, going back across the country and having sort of these
ghost memories of, now doesn't the road go up over a hill and go through a little
town here? And it not being there. Just these kind of ghost memories of things
that are not there, as opposed to memories of things that were there. When I go
some place and it is not how I remember it, it is kind of an un-deja you. Hey, I
have never been here at all.
S: So then you went to Key West, how long did you live there?
W: I do not know. All I really know for sure is we ended up in Jacksonville, Florida in
1958 when I started school. So somewhere in San Diego, Key West gets divided
up between being three in Guam. Somewhere in there it is all divided up. I
assume it is an eighteen month chunks, which I think is kind of what the military
does with people or did back then. But I am not really sure.
S: So you ended up then in Jacksonville starting school and your father was still in
W: Still in the Navy, living in Naval housing; all these little houses all in a row.
S: Where was that?
W: In Jacksonville, Florida.
S: Was there a particular place or base or something there?
W: The base is Naval Air Station, Jacksonville. I guess they are not real inventive
with their names. The only thing I can remember about that that people might
relate to if they had lived in Jacksonville or gone through it. Eventually the old
Naval housing became the Cumberland Campus for the Florida Junior College.
They took it over and they used all the old houses for classrooms.
S: So what school did you go to?
W: I think I went to a school called Fishware.
S: That was the elementary school.
W: In the Riverside area of Jacksonville. Well, I guess it is called Cumberland
Riverside. I was only there for a little while and we moved to the west side of
Jacksonville and started going to Normandy Village Elementary because
Jacksonville, at that time, experienced the suburbs and some of the first suburbs
were built on the west side of Jacksonville and they had French names; one of
them was called Normandy and one of them was called Normandy Village.
The original Normandy Village became Old Normandy and then there was just
New Normandy. Everything had French names. I lived on Louvre Street,
which we all called "Luv-ra". We live on Louvre Drive. We did not know. So yes,
I went to Normandy Village and it was real interesting to me in that I was really
bad in school. I really hated school; maybe it was like growing up down in Key
West when there was nothing there. I can remember Key West going out; the
big thing was my dad would go wax the car and we would drive out and there
would be a beach where there would be no one but us; it was like Guam.
Endless expanses of nothingness. So maybe school was just too restrictive for
me. But somewhere in the first grade, somebody decided to take the pencil out
of my right hand and put it in to my left hand. From that point on, I did much
better in school. I am, I was, left- handed.
So they were originally forcing you to write right-handed.
Right-handed, yes. I do not know if that is done so much anymore or not, I do
not really know. I guess it was done pretty much standard practice back then. I
know even later on when I took guitar lessons and now to this day, I play guitar
right-handed because my guitar teacher said that it would just be so much better
for me if I learned how to play guitar right-handed and that I would thank him later
Do you thank him now?
Well, I have gotten over that; I went through a period of anxiety about that.
Certainly, I had just learned to play. The only left-handed musician I had ever
seen was Paul McCartney. George Harrison was really my favorite Beetle, so
it really did not dawn on my. But I saw Jimmy Hendrix play with the Monkey
Show in Jacksonville and from that point on, I felt like I kind of got ripped off,
man. It is an interesting thing, when we go through life, for me anyway playing
guitar, I always thought, well God, if I change over now, I will lose everything I
learned. Well, that was like thirty years ago. I certainly could have turned the
guitar over. But now, I really truly think it would be too late. I think there are
advantages and disadvantages to it, so I am not bitter and it really does not
bother me anymore.
S: So going back to your childhood and your school in Jacksonville, do you have
any particular memories about elementary school in Jacksonville or what life was
like in Jacksonville, what kind of things you did?
W: I certainly do have some memories of elementary school. The think that strikes
me from my childhood, living in the suburbs compared to later on when my
daughter was growing up, is seeing how my mother and all the mothers were all
home in these little cracker box houses. It would be, mom, I am going over to
Brent's house. And I would get on my bicycle, go get Brent and we would ride
our bicycles up to the playground, which was probably five blocks away, but it
seemed like the other side of the world to us, it was a great adventure. We
would stay gone, we would come home at lunch, then we would, mom, I am gone
again. We would be gone again. It never seemed like anyone ever worried;
there was never any problem with that. Now I have friends my age who have
children. They would not think of letting their kids just get on their bicycles and
go ride off for the day somewhere or go to the playground and play or do the
things we did. There was a stand of planted pines and actually I guess some
older forests behind the subdivision because it was just cleared out of woods out
on the west end of Jacksonville. [interruption] So I was just talking about some
of the things I guess when I was in elementary school, is that what we want to
S: Well, we can go on from there, but it is kind of like what your life was like growing
up in Jacksonville in those days, in the 1950s and early 1960s.
W: I guess if I thought about it a lot, I suppose there would be a lot of different little
nuance things I could pick out being a little kid then. The things I remember are
little kid things mostly. I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Coolidge, really
nice and she seemed to be one of the first teachers that really kind of thought
that I might have something worthy and she kind of pushed me in some
directions. It was an interesting class because I guess there were not enough
teachers to go around so it was a third and fourth grade class combined; a huge
classroom. The thing that was neat was that when I was a third-grader, we got to
compete with the fourth-graders in some things. I remember doing multiplication
tables and being the first one done and having them all right. That is a memory
that I have. I just have this general good sense about her as a person. One of
the school teachers you remember.
S: What school was this again?
W: This would be Normandy Village.
S: Normandy Village School.
W: Old Normandy, the Old Normandy Village. New Normandy eventually got an
elementary school and they moved over there in fifth grade. The Old Normandy
was one of those flat building. All the entrances are from the outside. The walls
were made with a kind of paneling. It looked like a kind of plastic. The top half
was a window and the bottom half was this kind of plastic-looking panels and
they were orange and aquamarine. I guess that was considered state-of -the-art
back then. I kind of remember, there was a building downtown Jacksonville that
was all aquamarine-looking too. It was one of the new skyscrapers. The sky is
pretty low in Jacksonville, though. It was a big building for Jacksonville. It was a
What school did you go to after that?
I went from there -- I do remember having a first dance there. It was real
interesting. We had lessons, we are having this big school dance, right,
elementary school. So for the dance, we had lessons. I guess it was all the kids,
maybe they took us all in by classrooms, I do not remember. Everyone got
dance lessons before the dance. I remember one of the dances was, they were
doing the boogie-woogie. It is like everyone gets in a line and bends over and
goes left and right, we were doing the boogie-woogie. My God, what was that all
about? I wish I could remember some of the music from that period, it was
probably very interesting. My mother's youngest sister, Josephine, I guess she
was late-teens then, took that opportunity to teach me the twist. That was a big
thing then. That just seemed like, I do not know, it is hard to describe now. Oh,
"mashed potatoes" too, we were doing that, I believe. So we had this dance; I
remember this dance and I remember the girl I took, Carla. She had really kinky
blonde hair. The thing I remember because it is the thing that was most
embarrassing to me. We were a very poor family, and I could not just out and
buy dancing shoes, so I had to wear my school shoes, which unfortunately for
me that year, they were like these brogans, these large, clodhopper shoes that I
just thought were so cool that I had to have them. I did not know I would have to
discover girls and dancing by the end of the year. They were really awkward to
try to dance in. The whole experience ended up being embarrassing in a way.
That is my memory of the dance; I do not remember anything about the dance
except just being incredibly nervous. I can still see the shoes, they were kind of
like this yellowish-orange. I just see my shoes, I see Carla, I feel embarrassed.
That is all I remember.
You do not remember what grade that was really, but it was elementary school?
It was fourth grade at the latest because then we went to another school; the
Did you go with the same kids?
Well the kids that lived over in my neighborhood went to the new school, it was
about the same kids.
All the kids went to the same schools together, the neighborhood schools.
Right. Everyone you played with you went to school with. There was not busing
anybody from anywhere around.
Was it all white kids?
Yes. The whole neighborhood was white. Come to think of it, I guess looking
back it seems odd, but at the time it was just what I knew. It was just the kids in
the neighborhood. I cannot even remember being around-- The first time I
remember being around black kids would be in high school when I started
running track and we would run against different schools. That is the first time I
remember that. A little earlier before that, back in the fifth and sixth grade in the
new school, I had my first male teacher, I cannot remember his name. I can kind
of picture him in my mind. I had my first male teacher, I remember that; that was
real interesting, it was a whole different thing. It was almost like, oh boy, the
guys get a teacher. The girls could not be like the teacher's pet all the time. We
have a guy teacher, we have a teacher on our side. That felt kind of neat. I kind
of remember that. coming up, so this is probably what I
thought, you know, at the time. I do not know if it was around that time, but I
remember the older guys in the neighborhood had these hot-rod cars, cars with
really loud mufflers. They were all jacked up on the back and they had big tires
in the back and you know chrome hub caps and moonies and--
Moonies, what is that?
A moonie is like a round hub cap that is like a mirror, like a little moonie. They
would always have their cigarettes rolled up in their t-shirt sleeves, they had
black slicked-back hair; it seemed like they all had black hair; I am sure they did
not all have black hair, but that is what I remember. So those were the big kids
and it was like, you kind of stayed out of their way. I am sure from their point of
view, we did not exist. The little kids did not exist at all to them. In our minds, we
had to stay out of their way. That is the perspective of being the little kid. One I
remember is Larrian Griffin and he was like the "fonz" of the neighborhood, he
was the head dude on all the greasers. He had the hottest car and he was the
best mechanic and smoked cigarettes. He was the tough guy and he was the
first person I knew that died in Vietnam. He was the first person in the
neighborhood to die in Vietnam. I was very young at the time, so it was very
early on, I do not really know what year. It gets kind of a little blurry there.
At that point you must have been in junior high school.
I was in junior high the first part of seventh grade there, but then my dad got
transferred yet again. We moved out to the beaches in Jacksonville, Mayport.
But you were still in Normandy Village--
When Larrian died, yes. We came back; we stayed out at the beaches for two
years. So I get that kind of confused, but I do remember the kids being the
greaser kids in the neighborhood. My friend Mike Pittman, his older brother was
one of those kids and he joined the Army, but I do not remember him dying. The
only think that sticks in my mind is because when he went to the Army, he left
two records and I cannot remember what they were. He left his electric guitar
and amplifier. The first electric guitar and amplifier I ever saw and got to play
was Mike Pittman's big brother's when he went into the Army. We were like still
pretty little kids, like junior high. He left two records. One of them was called Hot
Rod and Lincoln, I still remember that one, but I do not remember the other one.
Those are the only two songs that we had; there were only two records. They
were the only two records in the neighborhood. We did not have a record player.
So you could not listen to them, then?
At my house.
So you did not have a record player, he had a record player.
He had his brother's record player. We played those two songs over and over.
S: The little "forty-five" records?
W: Right, "forty-fives", yes. Big hole in the center.
S: What was the reaction for your neighborhood kids when the older kid died in
Vietnam? That was something certainly that you were not experienced with.
W: I do not know. It was very strange. I think it was kind of not real to us in a way.
My dad was in World War II in Korea and certainly the military, we had the
in combat; all these action movies. Little boys played with guns; all the
kids in the neighborhood, we all, "rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat", you know, we did not have
guns, we would get a stick.
S: Were most of the kid's fathers in the Navy like yours?
W: It seems like there were quite a few in that neighborhood. If the fathers who
were not in, had, it seemed like to me. But yes, it seemed like my friend's
fathers were all in the military. I look back on it and it is very interesting, yes. It
is true. I had not thought about it.
S: So what did you think?
W: They only thing I can think of now it seems it is different. I just think, oh my God,
oh my God, you know if I ever got to Washington, I would try to find his name,
then I could find out what year it was. You know, I would have to go through a
few years, but I would have a sense of where it was, you know, middle 1960s
somewhere. I would like to find his name. The thing that really struck me was
his younger brother, Wayne Griffin. Of all the little kids in the neighborhood,
Wayne was like a year older than the group that I hung out with. A year seemed
like a lot then. His brother was Larrian, so everyone treated Wayne like, you
know, if Larrian was a king, Wayne was a little prince because of his brother. I
mean his brother was like the coolest person in the neighborhood and so Wayne,
by default, was cool. And Wayne just went nuts; Wayne turned in to a person
who just beat people up and tore things up and eventually dropped out of school.
What struck me, I kept on thinking back, I think I was really sad for Wayne.
When people used to call him you know like a hoodlum back then, hoodlum is
the hood; it sounds so archaic, I would defend him. I always considered Wayne
my friend. It was one of those real interesting relationships where kids did not
mess with me in the neighborhood because Wayne was my friend. He was only
my friend because I was a friend to him.
S: So I guess talk more about your school. I want to you know, stick with a
W: About going through school, some of the different things?
S: Yes. So all these things you have been talking about are junior high school?
W: Well, yes. I think it is sort of the beginning of junior high school. We can follow it
through; we can do like the history of America as seen by Bob Wood.
S: I do not think you told me the name of the junior high school that you went to.
W: The first one, and it was really kind of a shock to me and I guess a coming of
age. The way I remember up until the end of elementary school I remember as a
kind of a shiny golden time for me. It seemed like I always had a sense of
"meness", except maybe at the dance, when I felt like I was way out of
something I did not understand. I can remember when I went to junior high
school. My mother bought me clothes that I thought were kind of dress-up
clothes and she bought me a briefcase. I was appalled that I would have to
wear these clothes and carry a briefcase. It so devastated my view of myself. I
think it kind of sewed the seeds of my later rebellion in that whole instant. It just
could not be cool anymore. I could not be Bobby anymore like that. Then I had
to be someone I was not. Going to junior high school was a real change anyway.
Over the summer the girls had all grown breasts. Now somebody that you
played with treated you like you did not exist. The girls were all interested in
ninth graders, they were not interested in seventh graders, you know. I was
totally readjusting; I guess I was starting to go through puberty myself. There
was this whole different thing. I am having questions about me and then I am
assuming a role that was not me. I just hated the first six weeks of junior high
school. I just totally lost my star and did not know what I was doing. I was really
floundering. Luckily we moved to the beaches. That was great. It was a chance
to start all over, with a whole new identity. I did not have to be the nerd person
again, that I was fast becoming in Stillwell Elementary School. Stillwell
Elementary School, the only thing I can remember that was really distinct about
that was --
O.k. wait, I am a little confused.
Stillwell was the junior high school I went to; in seventh grade I started Stillwell.
You said elementary school.
I am sorry. Stillwell Junior High School. From elementary school I went to
Stillwell and that is where I felt so awkward. It seemed like traumatic things were
starting to happen; those little things that seem so significant when you are
twelve and thirteen. I remember coach Skynard who later became infamous
because a group of kids there in school named their band after him, Leonard
Skynard. I can remember Dwayne Allman was hanging around the halls there;
I did not know who it was until later on, but I just remember seeing him. I got to
play, it must have been later, we will pick this story up later when I come back. I
played my first rock gig there in Stillwell, a sock hop. Anyway, that was later.
Now I went to the beach, to Jacksonville Beach, Fletcher Junior High School.
S: So you did not have to be a nerd anymore, you did not have to carry the
W: Nope, no briefcase there. I do not know if I just destroyed the briefcase, lost the
briefcase, buried the briefcase in the back yard, but I did not have the briefcase
anymore. I got to be a surfer then because we were at the beach and it was that
time. It would be about 1965 or 1966 that we are talking about. Surf music. It
was great because I was at a beach. I had a paper route and I saved up money
over the summer for my paper route and I bought a surf board and I could be like
a surfer. Things I remember are like the clothes, the surfer shirts with no collars,
they had kind of piping around them. This really was another traumatic, I have
curly hair and like all these surfers had this straight blonde hair and I had this
curly red hair. I got this stuff called Dippidy-do and I would put it on the front of
my hair and try to slick it down so it would hang down front. I would be out at the
beach burning the skin right off my nose trying to bleach my hair out blonde. You
had to look like a surfer anyway. I was doing that and it was really pretty cool.
S: Did you get to surf a lot?
W: Yes. It was neat; we only lived a few blocks from the beach and my parents got
surf board racks in the car and they would take me down and just toss me off for
the day. There would be more kids from the neighborhood there and we would
surf all day.
S: Was your brother also surfing?
W: No, my brother, he was four years younger so he was not old enough to go down
to the beach all by himself. So my brother was one of the little kids; I guess I was
getting to be one of the bigger kids.
S: Surfing all the time.
W: Surfing, yes.
S: Was that right at Jacksonville Beach, is that where it was?
W: Well I lived in Mayport Naval Base in Naval housing right on the base. It was
kind of interesting. Right along the beach area they have all the--
W: ...and the chief, the chiefs had their own club and they had the officer's club
further down towards the Chatty. But access six, which was like the prime
Jacksonville surfing area, and access six, all that means is that it is the number
six access to the beach because there were not condos for miles and miles, it
was just sand dunes all overgrown with seaoats and scraggly little trees and
then they would just bulldoze through them and they made these accesses
where you could go on the beach. So access six was right near the Naval
station, so we would go down and surf. There was a long pilings and a fence
way out into the ocean, well it was not way out, it was probably a couple hundred
yards, max. The security was kind of lax, I would say, because we would go
down and surf and if the surf was better access six, we would just paddle our
surfboards around the fence and go surf there and paddle back over there and
go home. It was kind of a neat time. It was a real good time. Getting back to my
first memories; getting back to being at the beach at the ocean. I guess that is
still where I feel more like me, going back to the ocean.
And at this point you are living on the base so your dad is at home?
We were living on the base and my dad was home sometimes but he was also
still coming and going. My dad was gone most of my childhood.
Because he was at sea, on the ship?
Yes, and the thing I did not find out until much later was that--I guess from my
story you can see that we moved around different places, different states,
different regions in the early part of my life--the only reason we got to stay in
Jacksonville where my brother and I got to have friends and go to school, was
that my dad kept volunteering to go on ship after ship so that he would not have
to leave the Jacksonville area. He could have taken shore duty but he would
have had to move which would have disrupted the family. Of course I did not
know that as a child.
You just knew he was not there?
He just was not there, he was always on ship. I did not know he was making a
conscious choice to try to get so semblance of a home life. An interesting
choice. I do not know which would have been better. Would it have been better
to have the father there sometime and share all the new places together and
become a closer family, I do not know. It is hard to say because I did not live the
other life. I thought it was interesting that they made a choice and a sacrifice,
certainly for him, to do that.
S: For your mother as well.
W: For her to be able to stay here. Her family is in Gainesville and my dad's family
is in Evinston, Gainesville/Evinston. So, there was plenty of support.
S: How long did you stay at the beach?
W: I think I was there through most of tenth grade, so seventh through tenth grade,
so a couple of years. Couple of years, ninth grade, yes, probably in the middle of
ninth grade, I guess.
S: Sounds like a good time.
W: Yes, it was a good time. That is where I learned how to play guitar; I took guitar
lessons. It was a great time, my parents would drive me into town for guitar
lessons on Saturday while I was taking those. They would take me to the beach,
so it was really good. They were really going with whatever; you know, doing
different things, whatever I was into. So yes, it was a good time, a real good
S: When you left there, where did you move to?
W: We moved right back to the west side of Jacksonville. Right back in the same
S: Same house?
W: Yes. What had happened is my mother's youngest sister, Josephine, who taught
me how to do the twist, had gotten married and they needed a place to stay. So
they rented the house while we moved to the beach. Then when we were ready
to move back they found another place and we moved back into our house.
S: So how did the neighborhood change? Did it have some of the same kids?
W: It was really great then because I got to come back, surfing was in, guitar playing
was in--I guess people still use the term "in", that means that is "what is
happening, what is cool"; I do not know what the kids call it now, it was really
"hip"--so it was great. I came back from the beach. It was like, wow, a guy from
the beach, a surfer. Whoa. You know on the west side of town nobody really
had cars then and there still were not like extensive freeways or expressways so
it was kind of a long drive to the beach. It was not really available, certainly not
like it was for me. It was not like the focus of their culture like it was at the beach,
where surf music and surfing were what was happening.
S: So you were a cool dude?
W: Well, yes, I guess. I just felt a lot better about myself. I felt like I had a place,
you know? So yes, it was good coming back from the beach. Gone was the
briefcase. I felt so much better about myself.
S: You were playing music and you had just started doing that?
W: Right. It was good. It was great because a friend of mine from the neighborhood,
Rick Radman, another left-handed guy that I grew up with and had shared a lot
of rivalries with. We both were on track teams then and we would compete in the
track meets. We were both left-handed and we both learned how to play guitar
independently while I was at the beach. So we would compete in that, he was
always like much better and still to this day is much more proficient. Another one
of these people that just is a talent, who does not have to continually strive to be
a talent. He just picks up the guitar and plays it. It was great because we got to
bond and he could show me a lot of things. We actually got a little group
together and we went back. We were in Paxon High School then; we were high
school kids, the cool kids. We went back to the junior high and played a sock-
hop and that was the first thing we played.
What was that like?
It was like a total disaster. We practiced these songs and we got up on stage
and it was like I do not know what happened. We all just forgot how to play or
something. It was horrible. But we did get up there and do it and I did play one
song where everyone stopped and looked at me and I do not know if they were
going, oh my God, what is he doing, or if they were really enjoying it.
What was that?
It was called the "Crystal Ship" by a group called The Doors. So this is moving
a little later now, we are moving into kind of the psychedelic era at this point. It
was kind of a neat time. I could drive then and I could date. So I started dating.
The thing that sticks in my mind is they had, I think it was around this time, you
know this span of two years, tenth and eleventh grade, where there were
at a place called The Forest Inn, which was a nightclub, a bar on the
weekends. But on Sunday afternoons they did not serve any liquor and bands
would just show up and jam. They had Wow. I guess if you have
never heard that term, I am not really sure how to describe it. I suppose in the
west coast they were having "love-ins" and so here we were having a "be-in",
trying to emulate the human "be-ins" that were going on in San Francisco where
people just come and hang out.
That was still a real new thing for them.
Well it was a real new thing for them, it was a real new thing for Jacksonville,
Florida, which is a very conservative city. Very much oriented towards the
military and what we all fundamentalist Christian, Evangelical Christian kind of
lifestyle. Rural lifestyle in the big city. It was all really taking the country by
storm, the youth movement, I guess. We were really way on the fringes, but it
was interesting to be able to get a taste of it. I feel very lucky living in
Jacksonville to have found where this was happening and at least be a
participant in it to some extent. The band that came and played later became
known as the Allman Brothers.
You mentioned them before in school, so you went to school with these guys?
No, the Lynard Skynard people. Dwayne Allman, I think, just showed up in the
school one day. I only remember that because the guy had this really long hair,
and I will put it this way, if your hair touched your collar, you were like a hippie in
Jacksonville. That was long hair.
Even at the beach?
At the beach there were still dress codes. You still had to have your shirt tucked
in, your hair could not be over I do not know, so many inches long and it could
not come over your collar. The guys at the beach that had really long hair would
grow their hair all the way from the back of their head all around to the front of
their head, like bald guys to now.
Yes, so it would look short in school but when they went surfing it would all fall
down over their ears and stuff; it would be long. But I could not do that because I
have curly hair. But I remember Dwayne Allman being in Stillwell at one point
because I just remember seeing this guy with this sort of matted hair and kind of
one of those leather hippie cowboy hats and boots and his hair down past his
shoulders, which was like an alien walking down the hall. It was jaw-dropping,
everybody stopped, people dropped books, it was just like unimaginable the
impact that seeing someone like that had at that point.
[?] first guy around with long hair, then?
I just remember him from being at school, he was not in my school. He did not
go to Stillwell, he was much older than us. I do not remember him from being
around anywhere. I only just remember him because I saw him in that hall once
and then later at the I saw him playing guitar. Then it was even later
before I knew who they were.
It was later before they even became anybody.
Right, I suppose so. So that was really interesting. I was hearing what was
really good music so it was great. I think, you know, I could have been hearing
really crummy music somewhere and thinking it was really cool. I probably in
that state may not have been able to tell the difference but it was nice to be able
to be close to something. Then I look back and I think that was really authentic.
It was the first introduction to drugs that I had in that group of people too. We
were there one afternoon and there was a girl there that had some tobacco she
said that was opiated. It was offered; I did not smoke any because I guess
because I was driving and that was still a little too far for me. I remember a friend
of mine that had smoked some. I do not know what it did for him. It was all like
tremendously, quote, psychedelic, unquote to me anyway, just being there. It
was like going to another planet for the afternoon and then coming home to
Leave it to Beaver; it was like being able to see another something different.
S: You were driving yourself so your parents did not know what you were doing and
you were older and-- Your hair was short?
W: Oh yes. Gosh. And it was like just before that, we were still at the beach that I
had seen Jimmy Hendrix, so he had toured with the Monkeys. My mother had
bought tickets for my brother and me for my birthday to go see the Monkeys.
Shows you like what the influences were. I mean the Monkeys were a television
program. I had not gotten to see the Beetles when they toured. I was going to
go the next year and they never toured again. So I guess it was a consolation
that my mother bought tickets to see the Monkeys when they came. I had
another experience like seeing the Allman Brothers at the was the
opening act for the Monkeys with the Jimmy Hendrix experience. My God, you
talk about a totally foreign culture. I guess I had heard some of the roots of this
music as a child in Guam, you know, listening to the Beatniks from New York
playing jazz and some blues. Really, the only music I listened to was the Beetles.
I bought every Beetle record. At that point we had finally gotten a record player.
The first record our family bought was Meet the Beetles when we bought our
record player. So I had bought Beetle albums.
S: You had also seen the Beetles on television.
W: I saw them once, once on the Ed Sullivan Show, the last time they played, I saw
S: Was that on your television, did you have a television?
W: Yes, we had a little black and white television. We were not into color, color
came later. We did not even get a television until, oh gosh, I was probably in
third grade. We did not even have a television set.
S: So what was the Monkeys concert like and then with Hendrix there?
W: I just remember so many distinct things. It was like going to the_ I
guess I saw a glimpse of something, something that I could read about in
magazines in Look Magazine and Life magazine about the youth movement
and things that were going on around the country. What I normally saw was the
packaged result of that, like the Monkeys or Beetle trading cards or something
like that. I felt like I was getting a glimpse of something real, something authentic
when I saw Jimmy Hendrix and later participated in the But the
groups up to that point, to me, you know there is like four or five guys that kind of
dress the same you know and they got up there and they did their three-minute
songs. I mean, here we are in Jacksonville, Florida, lots of mothers with
daughters to see Davey Jones, the Monkeys. So the audience was mostly
really young people, you know. I would say a lot of pre-teen girls there. The
audience if not 100 percent white in Jacksonville, Florida was probably 99.5
percent white. So you have young white girls and their mothers in the south,
Jacksonville, Florida. Jimmy Hendrix comes on stage. First of all there is a black
man, have to say that. I guess I had seen some American Bandstands or
something when I was a kid when they would have a du-op and they would have
black groups, I was certainly aware of that. But here was this black man with this
huge hair sticking out all over the place and he is draped in like this multi-
colored-looking silks and big bell-bottoms and he was left-handed. My God, he is
a left-handed guitar player, finally, you know? So right there I was totally bonded
to this guy, my God, he is left-handed. A three-piece group and instead of having
these little amplifiers, they had these huge walls of amplifiers. The entire stage
was amplifiers. There was just a roar of the hum of these amplifiers an there
were these two skinny white guys with huge hair everywhere and multi-colored
costumes on and then they just started playing this music that was like nothing I
had ever heard before and nothing anyone has ever heard before, really. The
thing that struck me, I was learning to play guitar then, I kept thinking, where is
the other guitar player, where is the other guitar player? Usually you had a lead
guitar player, a rhythm guitar player and I could hear all this music but I could
only see three people and I was wondering where it was all coming from. I could
not fathom that Jimmy Hendrix was playing all this. He was in his prime then, he
had just done the Monterey Pot Festival where he burned the guitar. He was
doing all the things where he would put the guitar between his legs and run his
hands up and down the neck. Then he would go up to the amplifier like he was
having sex with it, violent sex, while the guitar was screaming. We are in the
south here, you know, and this is still, I think still if you wander around in Stark,
you will know what I am talking about. This was the 1960s in Jacksonville,
Florida. All these young girls and there was this wild--I guess it was like all these
southern people's nightmares. This wild black man having sex with an inanimate
object on the stage making this most horrendous devil music. I just loved it. I
just thought it was the most incredible thing I had ever seen in my life. It was so
odd at the end, the guy just played his heart out, at the end I just remember it just
ringing into silence as they left the stage. I jumped up and I was just screaming
and applauding. There were just small pockets of people clapping. That is my
recollection of that.
S: Those mothers and daughters just did not know what to do. That was the warm-
W: It is amazing that just recently I am playing music with a little blues band now,
actually it was two weeks ago, some people came out and there was an older
woman there and she was talking about the Monkeys...and older woman, my
age. She was talking about the Monkeys and how she was a fan of the
Monkeys, did we know any Monkeys because I guess that was the last time that
she had immersed herself into what was the popular rock music. People grow up
and they assume roles and they do other things with their lives. Not like some of
us who just got stuck in our adolescence. But she was talking about the
Monkeys and she was talking about seeing the Monkeys in Jacksonville, Florida.
I said, my God, I was at that concert, do you remember seeing Jimmy Hendrix?
And she thought, yes, he came on before them. And she went on--her
experience was totally different than mine. She went on to talk about how much
she loved the Monkeys show. I barely remember the Monkeys show. I was
totally devastated by Jimmy Hendrix. I guess it is just all a matter of perception.
Anyway, so then later on we are at the and so I got to feel like I was
closer to something that was real. I guess getting a taste of that I started desiring
something a little different than cheeze-wiz and white bread, Velveeta on
SIt is hard, you are brought up in a culture. I would not say that my life
was terrible or anything buy I saw something different that really appealed to me.
I started pursuing that. So the were part of that.
S: It seems like that musically you were really touched and that is so much a part of
who you are and that was something that really opened the door for you.
W: Yes, I think so, seek possibilities. I just saw people that just seemed totally,
totally into the moment. I guess it was like surfing or being on the beach. It was
like the sun, like Jimmy Hendrix playing guitar, like Dwayne Allman playing guitar,
like waves crashing. I do not know. I found it very appealing.
S: You mentioned that you went to school with Lynard Skynard. How was that
because they became a really big band?
W: There were these guys there. They were, again, like a little older than me, I think
a couple of years older, so I never really knew any of the people. They lived in,
the Vansance, they did not live in Normandy Village, they lived a little closer to
town in what was officially called the West Side of Jacksonville, the way I
remember it is being a little more seedier, a little more where the people kind of
fought their way through. That section of town. A little harder section of town.
Whereas over in Normandy Village we were all like, "La la la, riding all our
bicycles around, la la," we did not have a clue what was going on.
You said they named their band after the coach?
Coach Skynar, yes, Lynard Skynar.
What is Lynard?
I think Lynard was his first name.
Oh, that was his whole name, Lynard Skynar?
Yes, I believe so.
That is interesting that they just liked his name.
I do not know if they liked him or they just thought he was a jerk or something.
Or maybe he hassled them about their hair. It was just kind of a joke, I think, my
impression. I do not know if it was a common thing, but in that section of town
where we grew up there were a lot of kind of word games that went on. You kind
of mutate names and stuff, so Lynard Skynner would become Lynard Skynard.
Things would say like, a woman maybe would say like, she ain't pretty when she
was really pretty. "Hmm, I know she ain't pretty." It is kind of hard to explain
because it really does not make any sense but there was this really kind of a
dialect or slang.
In that neighborhood?
Yes, I do not know, that whole section of Jacksonville.
When did you graduate from high school?
W: I graduated from high school in 1970, but my senior year of high school, my dad
moved yet again back to San Diego. So 1969-1970, after wanting to find this
culture and trying to see what this was all about, what me contemporaries were
doing in different parts of the country, suddenly as a senior in high school I was
sort of thrown into southern California, back right into the midst of the culture; it
was not northern California but it was in southern California sort of part of it
where you know the kids in school were surfers, there were people in bands, we
could go on the weekends and see the bands that were only mentioned in
magazines back in Jacksonville, Florida. I mean, of course I had seen Jimmy
Hendrix as a fluke with the Monkeys and then the Allman Brothers just because
they lived there. But now I went and saw the Jefferson Airplane, the Big
Brother and the Holding Company, and all these groups. Country Joe and
the Fish, Greatful Dead, all the groups that were you know like legendary I
suppose at that point. Certainly from Jacksonville, Florida, they were. It was like
you could not imagine what it would be like to actually be there. So that was
good because I got to be there. It was real interesting. I really liked California a
lot. California is a real, well at that time, I do not know how it is now, but it was
and was not what I expected. I found a lot of what I imagined, drug use and
promiscuity and freedom of expression and dress, but then I also found that
some of the most conservative people I have ever met in my life were there in
school. You know there were people dressed like they were going to play tennis
and you know people with crew cuts and it was just amazingly diverse. There
were more African-American children, people in school with me there and there
were also Mexican-Americans, I guess everyone said, "Chicanos" back then. So
it was real diverse to go from Jacksonville, Florida, where we did not have any
black children in our school. The schools were integrated in Jacksonville the
year I left, and there were riots in the schools, but I was not there. I was in
California where they had already gone through all the integration growing pains.
So suddenly it was a really diverse group of people that I was thrust into.
S: How did you adapt to that drastic change of culture?
W: Gee, I do not know, I guess I did o.k.
S: It sounds like you were seeking out [diversity]--
W: Yes, so I do not know, for me it was kind of neat. I did not suddenly become like
the darling though I felt a lot of times like an observer because these were all
really established, I certainly was not a part of it. I had grown up in a whole
different place and I had a taste of what I thought was a culture. But being in it, I
would find myself going, hmmm, this is interesting. It was almost as if, hmm, if I
was actually here doing this, this would be really amazing. Well I was actually
there doing it, but I guess that was part of my survival instinct at that point. I got
into smoking marijuana then. I had actually smoked marijuana several years
before in Jacksonville, Florida, once, but had never gotten to do it again. Here it
is interesting again that the three guys I ended up hanging around with, their
fathers were all in the military. I had a car; had a sports car, a Triumph. We
would get our little bag of marijuana and we would go and smoke it--well, we did
not smoke the whole bag, but we would go smoke some pot--and our big thing
was go to Shakey's Pizza Parlor. The thing that was cool there in San Diego
with Shakey's, I do not know if it was like this across the country, but, one side
was like the banjo's and you know, "I want a girl just like the girl, everybody sing,"
you know and the parents would be there and they would have like a guy with a
straw hat playing or something and there would be families. You would order
pizza. But behind that there would be another place in another room with
another entrance totally by itself and it just had a jukebox and then it had like
picnic tables with nothing there that you could break. That is where the
teenagers were. It was like a place set aside for teenagers. That is where we
would all go. That is where everyone would go. Then we would have all the rock
music that was popular in the jukebox. It would be loud, but they could not hear
it because they had you know, like a kitchen in between. On the other side was
the more traditional family-oriented Shakey's. So that would be like our big thing.
We would go to a movie or whatever and we would get stoned and we would eat
pizza. I guess we really thought we were into the counter-culture then. O.k., so
we got to see lots of bands and I thought that was real interesting. Before I really
got into my friends, you know, the bands would play and my parents would go
and I did not really know anyone like over the summer before I started school.
They would just leave me at these rock concerts that would go on all day rock
festivals like whoever ten years after, Jefferson Airplane, whoever was playing,
they would be all day, all these different bands. I would get my ticket and I would
just wander in and there would be you know, people tripping, that I deduced later.
I did not really have a clue. And what was really neat was people would pass
joints and I would get to smoke marijuana at these things and go home. I would
really feel like I was really into something then, something that I could only
imagine in Jacksonville. You know where people are freely doing drugs and
wandering through the audience, people throwing candies and oranges and
beautiful music and people talking about love and conversations about spirituality
and it was just really neat. I got to see like a lot of really long-haired people and
some really groovy chicks. So that was a pretty neat thing--totally different than
Jacksonville, just all thrust on me. And I guess for me, as much of it as I could
get away with I would do. I got together with a bunch of guys and we got a little
rock band together and we would play. Well, we played a couple parties and
things; we were never really very good but we had a lot of fun. The most fun I
guess would be people in the neighborhood would come over and listen to us
play and that would be fun.
[?] start growing your hair long yet?
Well I started to get permission to grow my hair long.
So your parents did give you permission?
To grow my hair long. But once it started, it was real odd. I guess I started the
like, like man, you know like, I started to become more like these people that I
was hanging around with and a lot less like the observer of a counter-culture. I
had my fringe jacket and you know my hair was beginning to get curly out over
my ears. I had my little pouch of Marijuana and I would go to the shows and so I
guess my parents got reactionary at some point. Right towards the end when I
was getting ready to graduate from high school, they forced me to get my hair
cut. It was like one of these heavy-duty screaming things where you know, as
long as you live in my house, blah, blah, blah. Real bad scene. It a
bad heavy at home. The parents did not really realize this, and I kind of realized
it in time, but not really because I was really emotional, but that total rejection of
the culture, that counter-culture, something I was really toying with, my God, I
was just like some white bread yokel from Jacksonville, Florida. I did not have a
clue what was going on. I was just around the outskirts. I thought I was really
into something. I was really just hanging around the edges of something I really
did not understand. But my parents' total rejection of that felt like a total rejection
of me. At that point I felt like I had been denied and it really, what in retrospect I
think it did, it thrust me right into that counter-culture, deeply into that counter-
culture. Whereas I feel like if I had just been allowed kind of ride it out, because I
was ready to go to college at that point. I had been accepted to colleges that
were great in California. It was basically you had Mesa Junior College, which
is right across the street from the high school. It is considered grades thirteen
and fourteen. If you wanted to go you just went. It was not a big deal. I had
already applied and I was going. What they ended up doing that I felt was so
unbearable, that denial, I guess we have a theme running through here over my
whole life where I am really searching for myself and when I lose that. But at this
point I feel very strong that I no longer had to deny what I wanted and if I could
not have it, then I was just going to go get it. I was just going to go take it. At this
point in my life I felt strong enough to do that. So when I graduated from high
school I just left home.
S: Interesting perspective, being able to see that that is what pushed you away.
W: They had like a jazz band at the junior college and lots of really neat stuff going
on and I would have been able to pursue my music and I really wanted to go
there. I just felt at the time that I had just been denied all of that and that I was
never going to be the kid with the briefcase again. I was never going to do that.
S: Sounds like a good point to stop.
[end tape A, side B]
S: This is tape two and this again is an interview with Bob Wood in our home,
Sunday afternoon, March 23. I am Sherilynn Wood. We left off on tape one with
talking about your high school, you graduated from high school in 1970 and so I
want to continue from there and go up to talking about when you came to the
University of Florida and what your first job was there. But before we go into
that, I just have a couple of housekeeping things. I wanted to go back and just
have you tell me your name of your parents and your mom's maiden name and
the name of your brother and any spellings that might be confusing.
W: My father's name was Robert Pierce Wood, Jr. My mother's name is Eunice May
Wood and her maiden name was Gilbreath.
S: How do you spell your mother's first name?
S: And May is "Mae" or is it "May"?
W: I think it is May.
S: Eunice May Gilbreath.
S: Your father's middle name is Pierce, which is the same as yours. Can you spell
that for us?
S: And your brother's name?
W: David James Wood.
S: Just to go back and just to put this in here, what year did your brother die? You
did mention him before.
W: I do not know exactly what year. He was twenty-five-years-old. So that would
be, gosh, when was he born? He was born in 1956--so early 1980s, 1981 or
S: So we will continue with after high school and kind of get more into a synopsis of
some things from high school until you started working for the University of
Florida. I do not want to limit too much what you say, but I do not want to get too
involved in it because I really would like to get to talking about the university.
W: I understand that. There are a million stories to be told in this city and we are
only going to tell a couple of them here today. After high school, I kind of had a
falling out with my parents so I kind of left abruptly. I just took all my stuff and
split back to Jacksonville, Florida. I spent the summer living with an old friend in
his house. His parents had gone to Germany for the summer so we kind of hung
S: Who was this?
W: His name was Henry Waggoner. I became friends again with an old girlfriend I
had had in Jacksonville, Candice Collins, and towards the end of summer, we
left together and went wandering around. We eventually ended up down in
Miami with some people down there.
S: How were you wandering around? What do you mean by wandering around?
W: We got to Miami by bus and when we got down there we really did not have any
direction of where we wanted to go. We had a particularly intense
experience. We took the rest of our money and bought bus tickets as far west as
we could get, which was somewhere in the panhandle of Florida.
S: Can you tell us what you mean, experience so that everybody will know
what that is. Maybe not everybody knows what that is.
W: Oh, is a psychoactive drug. I guess you could say it
would be similar to LSD.
S: Were you taking in mushrooms?
W: No, this was a more synthetic It is what it was billed as, but hey, you
know. It did not have the good housekeeping seal on the little thing, so.
S: This is still 1970, 1971?
W: 1970, yes.
S: So it was still in the early years of--
W: Well, it was in my early years. We will put it that way. Still in my early years.
Just an aside. In my opinion, probably from 1970 through 1973, we sort of got
the middle class children sort of, I am including myself, became more immersed
in the drug culture, whereas earlier on, probably in the middle to late 1960s, I
think, it was a smaller group of individuals that were experimenting, but they were
getting a lot of media attention. That is just my opinion. So anyways.
S: You made it to the panhandle.
W: Right. We had $8 left and so we decided to continue on to California, so we
hitchhiked to California.
S: You have $8 in your pocket?
W: Yes. We had $8. It was pretty interesting, pretty exciting. There is really not
way to describe that feeling of freedom that you get, standing out on the road
with no money in your pocket. It scares me to death to think about it now days,
but at the time it was really exhilarating and thrilling. We made it to California but
Candice, being underage, got arrested and promptly sent right back to
S: How old was she?
W: She was seventeen then. Which in Florida made her of age, but in California it
was twenty-one for women and it was eighteen for men.
S: And you were eighteen?
W: I was eighteen. So I came back to Florida and we got married. That was the
beginning of my first marriage.
S: So when was that, the date of your marriage?
W: I will just make something up [sarcastic]. It was September 29, 1970. We had a
child April 4, 1972.
S: What is her name?
W: Her name is Trinity Wood.
S: How do spell Trinity, just for the record?
S: No middle name or anything?
W: No. On most official documents her middle name is "NMN".
S: What does that mean?
W: No middle name.
S: That is such an unusual name, why did you name her Trinity? Was there a
W: I think it just gets a little blurry with age, but considering the times. It was a real
flying convention because all the grandmothers and mothers were all waiting to
see who would get honored by having their name passed on. So I guess in that
sense, my family was pretty disappointed in that choice of a name because of
traditional cultural reasons. I feel that Trinity was just sort of symbolic of what a
child is. It is a union of three people. There is no religious connotation to the
S: So here it is, 1970, you are married, you have a child, you are eighteen.
W: Well in 1972, I was twenty when Trinity was actually born. Just working menial
jobs; no real education. Now, because I threw that all away to become married,
but we had working-class friends who lived in Riverside, in Jacksonville, Florida.
It was a nice time, we did lots of hard work; all sorts of different jobs, but really
did not have any sense of having to strive for anything. It was an easy time to
live, it seemed like, in America. With a little bit of money you could find plenty of
food. There were plenty of friends and houses to go to and visit and there was a
sense of community in Riverside among the people who were our age. It was a
very pleasant time.
S: So how long did you live in the Riverside area?
W: I lived there, I guess, until 1976.
S: What happened then?
W: I moved to Colorado. In the mean time between there, Candice and I had gotten
divorced, but we had gotten back together, really more for Trinity's sake than
anything I think in retrospect. We thought that just being in Jacksonville was
bringing us down. At that point we started looking toward the future and the
future of our daughter and thinking that well o.k., it was fun to sort of lay in the
sunshine, but after a while, even the most pleasant situations get monotonous
and it is time to think about the future. So we moved to Colorado Springs hoping
that there would be something new for us. We got to Colorado Springs and
realized that they had a out there; jobs are incredibly
scarce. We ended up in almost the same situation as in Jacksonville, Florida.
S: Why did you chose Colorado Springs anyway?
W: I had a friend that lived in Colorado Springs who I went to high school with in
California, Guy Burger. We went out there and was able to stay at his house for
a week or so until we were able to get our own apartment. So we had a contact
S: So that is why you chose to go there, because you knew somebody?
W: Right, right. We had heard it was really beautiful out there and it was nice. And
it was. It was a very, very beautiful place; lots of nice people.
S: So were you able to find work?
W: Just menial work; working in a parking lot, that is all. I had no skill, I had no
experience. What was I to do? So I started looking for options and I started
thinking that electronics would be a good option at that point. This was around
1976, 1977. It seemed like that was where the future was lying to me from things
I was hearing in the media, but after working outside, especially working outside
in Colorado in the winter and working outside in the summer in Florida, I was
really ready to work indoors; some place that was clean and air-conditioned.
Electronics really seemed like that was where it was at for me. So I explored the
options of going to technical schools and realized that with the job I had that any
kind of school was really out of my economic grasp, so I ended up joining the
Navy. Because of all the college preparatory courses I took in high school, I was
really able to chose any vocation I wanted after I took the test in the Navy. I
chose to be an electronics technician, which meant I had to enlist for six years in
S: Why is that? In order to get the training?
W: Yes, in order to get the advanced training. I ended up in the Navy having almost
two years of school, that is eight hours a day, five days a week of school. So that
seemed like a good trade-off.
S: That is pretty intense training.
W: It was.
S: This is 1976?
W: 1977 actually was when I went into the Navy.
S: How did your family feel about that, your wife and daughter? I guess your
daughter was still pretty young, but--
W: She really did not know what was going on too much, but it was a good decision.
Also in doing that, Candice and I remarried. It was kind of affirming a new
direction for the family unit we were living on.
S: I am a little confused. You were married before, you got divorced, you got back
together but you did not actually get married until --
W: No. We did not get married until we had made the decision I was going into the
military. At that point--
S: You felt like you had a future?
W: Yes, it felt like we had a future. Of course when you are married in the military
you get more money.
S: That is a good point.
W: You get more money and you also get money for living expenses, for housing for
your family and you also get free medical benefits for your family, daughter and
wife that you would not get for a companion.
S: Is your father or your grandfather or anyone in your family had been in the
W: Of course, my dad, earlier we had talked about moving around.
S: That is right.
W: My dad was a veteran of the Navy so of course he was pretty excited. My
mother's father had also been in the Navy, he was a lifer in the Navy and then
retired from the Navy.
S: At this time, was your father still in the Navy or had he retired?
W: If he had not retired he was in like his last year or two.
S: So he probably felt very good about you following along?
W: Oh yes. By doing that, my family, my parents and I sort of came back together
again. We were able to bridge some riffs that had been created in the teenage
years. So we moved on from there; the future looked bright.
S: O.k., so you go a lot of training in the Navy, two years of school.
W: Right, in various places. In San Diego, California, Great Lakes, Illinois, Fort
Gordon, Georgia. Then, after all this training, my first duty station was
Jacksonville, Florida. Right back in Jacksonville, Florida where we had went
through all this trouble to get away from.
S: That must have felt really strange to go back to Jacksonville.
W: It was very strange, but in a sense, I had a good job now, I had all the benefits of
being in the military for my family. I had training, I had a future and I could still
visit my friends in Riverside and there was something about that period that I do
not know if people would understand now. Getting towards the late 1970,
certainly in the early 1970s, there was a thing with short-hairs and long-hairs.
People who were in the military or people with short hair, it was seen as an
ideological choice where people with long hair were seen as an ideological
choice. So short- hairs and long-hairs--
S: They did not mix.
W: Right. I look back on the British history, like the cavaliers and the round-heads.
There is a correlation between different styles. It was easy for me because really
it was quite a culture shock, being in a military situation for me after being a
totally free spirit. In the years before that I had with my friend Philip hitchhiked
across country yet again, for fun. We had done that. So my whole philosophy of
life was one of being really free and unfettered, so being in the military was quite
a change. It was really nice to be able to go back, be in the military and yet still
visit my hippie friends in Riverside and hang out.
S: Were they accepting of you then?
W: Oh yes.
S: You were friends, you were still the same guy.
W: Yes, it was no problem. I had grown up with most of these people.
S: What kind of work were you doing then? Were you able to do electronics work
W: In the military? Oh yes. I was working for what was called the ground
electronics, which was all the transmitters and receivers for the airplanes
squadrons that were coming in and out of the Naval air station. Plus my
particular job skill was in cryptographic equipment, so I had a secret security
clearance at that point and was working on the red telephones that people
communicate with in cryptic communications. So yes, it was real exciting. It
was the main mission for the Naval air station at that point, anti-submarine
S: That is interesting, being in Jacksonville, I have heard a lot of stories about
during World War II certainly about submarine activity off the coast of Florida and
off Jacksonville. Was that the kind of thing that you were working on? This is the
Cold War era.
W: What would happen is, I think it was Russia, one of the northern
seaports in Russia, the submarines would leave from there and they would come
out around, come down, I guess it is Iceland, Greenland, around there, I cannot
really picture it right now. I did not brush up on my geography. But what would
happen is that out of Iceland, United States Navy airplanes would fly out. I do
not suppose that this is classified still, but I do not really know. Basically what
would happen is the airplanes would track the Soviet submarines coming out of
their northern harbors and they would fly along with them as long as they would
and they would drop sonar buoys from the airplanes that would basically be able
to track the Soviet submarines. The Soviet Submarines would come across the
north Atlantic down, staying well away from the coast of the United States, but
following the coast of the United States down and into Cuba and around to
different ports that they had. The airplanes coming out of Iceland had limited
range, so the planes would basically hand it off like in a relay, the submarines
would be to the next squadron. Along that corridor was where the airplanes that
flew out of the Naval air station in Jacksonville and they would pick them up out
in the Atlantic and follow them a certain distance and then they would return and
that is the way it went.
S: Kind of exciting, I imagine.
W: Yes. It is exciting. It is kind of like looking inside at what is going on, like, hmm,
S: How long did you stay in Jacksonville?
W: That was a two year term of duty. From there, I got assigned to my first ship and
it was in Charleston, South Carolina in the dry docks. It was a submarine tender.
S: What year was this?
W: It gets all kind of jumbled together there. We are talking early 1980s at this point.
S: So you went to Charleston, South Carolina?
W: Right, and stayed there for I guess over a year while the ship was in dry dock
getting refurbished. That was fine. Family life was working out well. My
daughter had taken up ballet and was dancing and it was another good time.
Charleston is a beautiful town, lots to do. Navy is like a bad job you go to, you
come home. It was kind of interesting. Inside into the military, I checked on
board the ship, this one little Naval here, I was very nervous. I had been
in my hometown and I had been on a shore station. Now I was going to my first
ship, the real Navy. All through boot camp training they were, when you get to
your first ship then you are in the real Navy.
S: But the ship was still in dry docks. But you went and worked on the ship?
W: Yes. You still go to the ship. There are civilian workers working on the ship, plus
you work on the ship and also, in conjunction with that there are schools there in
Charleston where you can get training. I went to various schools in radar and
different aspects of electronic security systems and things like that.
S: So what about your first day?
W: So I am checking onto the ship and I am dressed in like my full-dress uniform, my
hair is cut so close and shaved and my fingernails are clean. I get on board and I
am trying to remember everything you are supposed to do like salute the flag,
salute the guy standing there and ask permission to come aboard, then you wait
there while the representative from your division comes down and gets you. It is
loud and dirty and things going on and cranes and people everywhere. This
huge ship is totally exposed in dry docks. It is like twelve stories high sitting
totally free from the water. The whole situation is so intimidating. This guy
comes down, a big old kind of hulking kind of guy, with a wrinkled dungaree
uniform, his hat is sort of sideways on head introduces himself, I do not
remember his name now. He take me around, checks me in,
and stuff and just boisterous. I am thinking, oh, this is the real Navy and
everybody is really loud and it is real macho and there is people yelling in the
halls. If you can imagine all these rivet guns going off in the dirt and the dust and
everything. We finally get to the work center and we go inside. There is this kind
of dust, dark little room and there is a couple of people sitting there in their
dungaree uniform kind of bent over the work bench. One guy is just laying there
with his face on the bench. I come in and they dogged the door behind me.
S: What does that mean?
W: It has these big latches and they pull them down, they push them all the way
down. That is what you do if the ship is sinking or something; you dog the doors
and it makes a water-tight seal. There I am all clean in my dress-uniform and the
guys all look up. One guy that is laying down looks up and they go, this is Wood,
he is a new guy. The guy looks at me and he goes, you do drugs, Wood? I am
like so scared that I just blurt out, I smoke a little pot. One guy looks up at the
other guy and says, he is alright. From there on out I was totally accepted. I was
just amazed at the amount of drugs that were being used in the Navy. It was just
incredible. So here I was in Riverside with all my old hippie buddies, I come up
to my first duty station and the first question I am asked is if I smoke pot. From
there on out, I am accepted totally by these guys; it was like no change. I think
we tend to have these distinctions in America of what certain people do, but in
that point, it seemed like you can change the hair and the clothes, but everyone
was kind of the same; the people I ran into. Maybe I was just lucky.
S: Were they guy that were in the similar experience of you that in that time period
W: We had the oil embargo; they were young well-adjusted hippies until they could
not find work. Then there were some of the older people who were kind of
interesting in that group too, were people that had tried to avoid the draft so they
joined the Navy. There were plenty of gung-ho God and country folk around, but
in my particular work center they were just people that were repairing equipment
for the Navy in exchange for on-the-job training. They were not ideologically
welded to the concept of being in the military, I can assure you.
S: This is post-Vietnam now.
W: It is post-Vietnam now so it was interesting; we were like the younger people, I
was actually older. I enlisted when I was twenty-five. The people who were in
charge were the people who tried to avoid the draft in Vietnam and found that the
Navy was o.k. for them and so they had stayed on.
S: So in that time you could join the Navy and then your chances of being sent to
Vietnam were very slim?
W: Well yes, as opposed to being in the Army.
S: Right. If you were drafted you were sent to the Army?
S: I never realized that. So there were other ways of escaping the draft.
Interesting. Was that another two-year stint then?
W: It was a little over a year until they got the ship ready and then we went down--
S: Did you actually go out on the ship then?
W: Well, when they got the ship ready we took it down to Cuba. It is interesting, the
American Navy, they do all their, what they call refresher training, out of
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the American Naval Base. So right there in Cuba,
they are always dropping bombs and shooting; it is kind of an intimidation factor,
I am sure. So we went down to Cuba and put on a gas mask and tried to figure
out how to make a water-tight seal on a door. It was real interesting. Kind of
funny for us, another one of those things in my Navy experience, the guy that
was in charge of evaluating out work center and everyone was like paranoid
because these people could make you work day and night to get things right and
really make it hard on you. We would do different kind of drills where they would
say, alright, this space has been hit by a shell and this is a live electrical wire and
this person is bleeding, what do you do? So we went down and the person
assigned to evaluate us was Fred Anson, the guy who had been my leading
petty officer in Jacksonville; he was like a friend. Also, at my work center, the
guy who had worked with me in Jacksonville, Tony Delgado, checked on. So
there were three of us, we were back together yet again. Here I am among
friends. In the evenings we would go over to Fred's house and play video
games. The days, he would come up and there would be like a simulated
chemical spill so we would have to dog-down all the hatches and stuff. Fred
would say things like, o.k., now take your gas masks out of the bags, I need two
volunteers. There has been a hit in the ships passage way Coke
machine, we need to make a run. So we would be on a mission; we would go
down and fill our gas mask bags up with cold Cokes and take them back up and
sit around and drink Coke while we are having this nuclear drill or whatever. It
was fun and we came back. We were out for about ten days then we came back.
Then the ship was assigned to Holy Scotland. That was great, my
family got to go to Scotland. Of course the guys, we rode the ship over. So that
was my going down for refresher training and going across the Atlantic. I think
that took about a week. I was in the Navy for seven years, that was the only time
I ever spent at sea. I am sure other people had different experiences. So we
went over and then we were in Holy Scotland for two years; beautiful
area. It was near an isolated little town called Dinune. It was kind of eerie in a
way, there was this little lock called Holy Lock because at some point in the
middle ages, a ship that was carrying religious artifacts to Rome had sunk there,
so it was called the Holy Lock. Now it is full of American nuclear submarines.
We anchored out in the middle of the lock because we did not have permission
from the British government to come to dock with any nuclear weapons. So that
is what we did; every morning we got up, got on the boat, went to work, came
home. It was really cold; that is all I remember about work there. Then again,
we had a good bunch of guys we worked with. The Navy wives, they were
organized into going to Glasgo and passing along the Hashish connection, so it
was like there was no break in continuity from the type of lifestyle I had been
living all along, except the jobs were more intense. I make it sound frivolous, but
we were all very dedicated to what we did. There was a sense of pride among
the people; even if we maybe did not share the same philosophy as some of the
politicians that were directing the use of the military, we certainly had a sense of
pride in what we did. Also, there was a sense that we had gotten a good deal
because we had gotten paid to go to school. We were tax payers and the
general consensus was that we were paying back a loan by doing a good job.
Whatever the philosophy of the politician were, we had signed a contract and if
anyone wanted to say there is a nuclear deterrent, whether we agreed with it or
not, it was our job to make sure that if the trigger was to be pulled, the gun would
fire. So we did our jobs. I dwell on this other part because I find it as an
interesting aside to the traditional concept of what the military is all about. But do
not get me wrong.
S: So were you doing similar work there with your security clearance?
W: Actually the security clearance had gone up to top secret by then because we
were on what was called a foreign-deployed submarine squadron, which meant
that we were not in American Waters any longer. We tended a submarine
squadron that went places and did things. At that time, there was the bombing in
Beirut that killed the 200 American Marines. We were actually getting
submarines from the Mediterranean coming up. So it was a little more serious,
there was a little more tension. You would get different bulletins about different
terrorist groups that were threatening to attack American military installations so
we would have drills with that constantly. It was deadly serious. When I stood
watches on the quarter deck, I carried a .45 automatic pistol and ammunition.
We had Marines who were there to defend the nuclear weapons, we carried
nuclear weapons. They were real and they were there and the Marines and
machine guns. It was all very real. But it was a lot of fun; we went home and we
got to do a lot of neat things like go to and visit museums, Scotland has
beautiful country, beautiful people. It was great.
S: It sounds so interesting in that you presented it as just a job and you were just
going to your job. I guess you were fortunate that you had a family there so that
you really did have a different life--
W: I did not have to live on the ship and be immersed in it totally.
S: You were able to have something away from your work.
W: That made it a lot more bearable.
S: Then to be in a beautiful place like Scotland.
W: It was certainly very nice, the was a picturesque little village. They
were real nice.
S: How did the people of Dinune accept you as being from the American military?
W: The people of Dinune had an American submarine tender there for I guess
twenty-give years when I was there, so whole generations of Dinune had grown
up with the American military there. The young girls of twenty-five years ago had
married American sailors, now have daughters that were there, so there were
mixed American families for a couple of generations, so the Americans were very
much intertwined into the community of Dinune. It was very easy.
S: How long did you stay there? When did you leave Dinune and where did you go
W: Can we take a little break before we do that?
S: Now we are up to what year--
W: It is around 1984 and I am getting out of the Navy. While I was stationed in
Dinune, I was sent to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Sperry/Univac computer
school. While I was there, I really enjoyed that area. It seemed to me that there
was a lot of opportunity for electronics so I thought that would be a good place to
try to start finding work when I left the Navy. So from there, I went and got
checked out of the Navy in Rhode Island. We got all our stuff shipped, our family
got all of our belongings shipped and our car and we went to Minnesota. It
ended up being a very bad experience. There were not jobs; I had a tremendous
amount of training, radar, cryptographic, computers, transmitters, receivers,
everything. Land line communication, conversion,
anything that had to do with electronics. But I did not have an associates degree.
I felt like the end of the Wizard of Oz when they tell the Scarecrow, the only thing
you do not have that they have is a diploma, a degree. So it was very hard to get
a job there, and the jobs all seemed not to be what I expected. So at one point I
actually tried to reenlist in the Navy, but even that got all screwed up because
there was an offer of a reenlistment bonus of $12,000, which when I actually
went back to Rhode Island, it kind of disappeared in some technicalities. So
eventually, to make a long story short, we got all our belongings together and
moved to Gainesville because my family lived here. We came and stayed with
my family in Gainesville while we tried to sort out what we would do with our lives
after the military. I applied for work at the University of Florida. Well after a
couple of months, eventually I got offered a job at WRUF, the radio station in
Weimer Hall as a technician. Really the pay was very, very low. Actually much
lower than some of what I thought were menial jobs in Minnesota that I would not
accept. But, at a certain point, you have been staying with your parents for a
couple months and it does not look like anything is materializing. Luckily within
that period though I had finally gotten my associates degree through a state
university in New York. I had finished the requirements, I just had not gotten the
actual degree when I was in Minnesota. I had gotten the degree finally now, so
maybe that helped.
S: Is this 1985 by now?
W: It is really 1984 still. All this happened within a couple of months, probably about
three or four months, real frantic months. They were a real hardship on the
family. It was very disappointing for me and disappointing for my wife and my
daughter too. I had always promised that when we got out of the Navy I would
get her a horse. It never happened; we had dreams that just were not realized,
all of us. It was very disappointing. I always regret that. Anyway, I went to work
at RUF in Weimer Hall at the University of Florida as a technician. I thought it
was very interesting in a way because gosh, being in the military I was so used to
working, getting a piece of equipment, working and fixing it. I was qualified, I
would do this, I was given this, I would fix it, given this, I would fix it, work... You
are given the concept and you see it through; you make sure it works. When I
was looking around, the people I was involved with, some of the other people
that were working OPS doing what I did did not have any electronics training.
The guy that was the chief engineer, he had like six months of training in the
Army and he is the chief engineer. He was a Hamm radio operator, so that
qualified him as being the chief engineer, he had been there a long time; much
S: Who was he?
W: Ed Stolmack. Much more qualified, I felt I was, than any of the people that were
working there. Very hard, doing just the very basics of electronics, hook wire one
from point A to point B. Wire two from point C to point D. I guess I did learn
about the political side of working in a radio station, what was expected from a
radio engineer, the concept of little things like, you learn the SEC, you cannot
have so much modulation on your transmitter. You know, how you get the signal
out to your transmitter in a civilian radio station, there are certain protocols and
things. It was basically learning nothing to do with electronics as much as
learning protocol. It was very frustrating for me. I had really been working on
bigger things. Luckily after a year there, I had gotten a job offer to move
downstairs to the television station. Bryan Leats, the chief engineer there, and
ex-Navy person, he rounded up the chief engineer from WUFT FM, the classical
public station in Weimer Hall and me. He was able to Shang-hi us down to the
S: Correct me, but your initial impression of the University of Florida was not very
good with your experience of your first job there. From listening to you, it does
not sound like your impression of the University of Florida was good when you
first came and is so drastically different from your experience in the Navy with
work ethic, management style.
[end side A]
W: [tape begins in mid-sentence] ...and I had another job in for coastal engineering,
an offer at the University of Florida which would have been working with titles,
but I do not really know because I did not take the job. I had talked to them and
we had been working on land lines and computer communications. But RUF
basically offered me a dime more an hour and I had worked in communications
so I was thinking, I was trying to build a resume, so I was thinking that if I worked
in communications and continued along there, it might be better in the future, so
that is why I chose that job. But there were a couple of different things I could
say working there. WRUF is kind of an interesting thing to me because it is a
commercial radio station but it is owned by the State of Florida and it works out of
the University of Florida, out of the Journalism College. There were some things
working there because you had people working in a commercial radio station.
My sense, and I still believe this, is that engineering staff is not held in very high
esteem. Really, it's bottom line, people are there trying to make money. Back
then, it seemed like the traditional line of ascent was you moved to sales
manager to general manager, that is the way that went. One of the good things
that Ed Slamont did for me was he got me other part-time jobs around town to
help me supplement my income. I would go to these little AM stations and work
and see the situations. There were engineers working at some of the stations
around town doing things like if the drain was stopped up they would undo them
or they would go out and saw limbs down or they would do yard work. That is
really not what I got into electronics to do. People with a little bit of electronics
background, maybe some military, if you were lucky you would get somebody
who had some training. That was the engineering staff and so you could kind of
see why there was not really much to it, really. If you knew how to run a
transmitter, which, you know Hamm operators do as hobbies, you could basically
run a radio station. So it was just more or less that that concept was very
disappointing to me, working in that field of commercial radio. That was kind of
S: What was your impression of Gainesville and the university in general because
you had just moved to Gainesville.
W: I had always liked Gainesville when I lived in Jacksonville. I used to come over
here to come to concerts and I thought Gainesville was really a neat place and of
course since my family grew up down in Evinston, I had visited Gainesville on
and off my entire life as a child, so I had seen Gainesville grow from a little town
to when Lillian's was actually a music store, and all sorts of things. I had seen it
when the Hippodrome was actually a post office, stuff like that. So
Gainesville I liked. Really, there were times earlier on in my life I would have
given anything to have a job at the University of Florida. So I was living my
dream in that aspect. Working radio you had to do things like go out in the
middle of the night if they went off the air and work on the transmitter. I was
constantly on call, it really interfered with my family life. My daughter was going
through her teenage years and I could not be home; I had to go work at the
stupid radio station all the time, you know. The work itself would have been
easy, it was just so demanding. I was on an on-call, I found out years later I was
carrying a beeper and it was kind of like they had given me a beeper but they did
not tell me that wink, wink, nod, nod, if you are on call for the university you are
supposed to get on-call pay. So I was on-call for twenty-four hours a day for a
year and did not get a penny for it. So I started finding out about the politics of
working at the University of Florida. If you allow people to do things to you, they
will just do them to you. You can get angry about that, but in a sense you have
to know what your rights are. So it was an education, getting into the university
system. And an education about commercial radio too. That aspect is what I did
not like the most about my first year of working. So then I got to go down into
television. The systems are much more complex, the videotape machines,
timing, just the electronics in general are much more sophisticated in television. I
did not really know a lot about television. I had worked on radar and radar
indicators which are a crude version of television. I had the electronics down but
the concepts of television receivers and transmitters was new; I was learning.
Even when I got down there I thought was interesting the people I was working
with; the electronics shop, the one with the Hamm operator. That is how he had
gotten his electronics, the other person that was there. I had taken an
electronics course in junior college so he had gotten his training that way. After I
had been there a couple months, the senior technician there said he just wanted
to tell me that it was really great having somebody working there that knew
something about electronics and could really fix stuff. Because what you run into
there is you get people who may even have bachelor's degrees in journalism but
they get their first time jobs in working in master control, which is where they
switch the programs onto the air or they load up tape machines which are
operator-oriented machines that have nothing to do with electronics repair or
understanding of electronics, per say. Not to belittle the concepts of working on
some of the equipment because it is complex, especially when you get into the
editing parts. But some of those people, as a means of promotion, because
there are really no promotion avenues from there would tend to move into
engineering, which actually is what happened to Al Holt who later became our
chief engineer. He did have some junior college training, I believe, but his
bachelor's degree is in communications or journalism or telecommunications,
whatever they give you there in Weimer Hall. So it is really kind of interesting. I
am still working under the work ethic of the military where I am thinking, my God,
I was hired to do this job because I can actually do this job. I was not hired
because my friend was the chief engineer--oops, I was not supposed to say that,
that is not how they hire people at the University of Florida, oops. No, they have
strict hiring guidelines and only the most qualified individuals are hired.
S: As you said before, wink, wink, nod, nod, right? What was your job title and what
were you actually doing in your first job at the television station?
W: I was the electronics technician; electronics engineering technician, or just
electronics technician at the radio station. I became a technologist, I am not sure
of all the prefixes to that. That would be a different pay grade.
S: So you were actually repairing television equipment?
W: Television-type equipment, yes. Monitors, tape machines, the terminal
equipment, which would be any of the character generators, video switcher and
S: Did you do work on the transmitters or do you do work on the transmitters?
W: I have been out there to the transmitter but the thing that is so incredibly cool
about the television station is they have a person that comes in from the outside
that is on call to work on the transmitter which means that I can go home at 5:00.
I have an electronics job where I can work and then I can go home. It is what I
wanted; that is why I went into the Navy. So it was great. It is good; it was good
coming down and working in television. It was a challenge. I felt better about
myself, really. I felt now I was actually starting to hit my stride, I started making
some more money and then gotten a few raises; things were looking good there.
Unfortunately, at this period in my life I also got divorced. So it started to be an
emotionally dark period while I was trying to figure out what I was doing there.
Kind of sad in retrospect; it seemed right at the point when finally we had begun
to realize that some of those dreams that we had worked so hard toward, we
really ended up growing apart; we really were not the same people. It happens
more often than people like to think. Some people go along pretending, I
suppose, in their lives. It was good; it was very hard emotionally because it just
seemed like, wow, now it is finally going to happen, then it broke up.
S: You made it through all that hardship--that was the result of all the hardship and
change and struggles.
W: Right. So actually, Candice, at that time was studying at Santa Fe Community
College to become a computer programmer and so while I was putting her
through school and we hung on to the marriage until she got through school so
she could get a job, you know? We were not out to make each other's lives
miserable, it was just that we no longer had anything to share with each other. I
had known her, she is one of the people I have known the longest in my life that I
still know. I do not have any animosity towards her because we do not live
together anymore. It was dark, emotionally, but good things came of it.
S: Can you tell me something a little more about the station operation, how the
television station being at the University of Florida operated, what kind of station
is it, what it its affiliation, why does the university have a television station?
W: Right. Well there are different things that happened at WUFT TV, Channel 5,
VHF, full-power, 100,000-watt television station. Its affiliation is with the public
broadcasting system so it is a public television station. We offer on- the-air
programming that is available on PBS. The engineering staff operators and the
maintenance people, the managers are all full-time State of Florida employees,
but we also offer in conjunction there with the College of Journalism WUFT puts
on a daily half-hour news program that is staffed by students. They do all the
switching, they are behind the cameras, they are in front of the cameras, they
write the stories. Now there are staff individuals that are the news directors that
guide them and help them format the broadcast. It is actually done by the
students, so the station performs an educational service to the students in the
College of Journalism, who are in the telecommunications and the news
S: Do you actually work with some of the students in any kind of connection with the
news program as a maintenance engineer?
W: I guess working with them in the broad sense that we are all working for Channel
5 to make something happen. If they are all there trying to get a story, edit a
story on some equipment and the equipment is malfunctioning, I am there to
make sure that the equipment works so they can get their story edited so it can
get on the air. So in that sense, we are a team. That is my interfacing with the
students usually. With some of the students I am on a first name basis. Now in
recent months we have gotten some students who are actually switching some of
the breaks and programming at the master control of Channel 5, so of course I
see them more often.
S: Switching some of the breaks, you mean like in between the shows just to make
W: Right. They are there and they monitor what is going out on the air, they make
sure the transmitter is working within its parameters. They make sure that the
show that is supposed to be on the air, that is scheduled, is on the air. The
monitor and make sure the video and audio quality are what they are supposed
S: [?] put their promotional [?]
W: And the breaks are in between the programming for public television. A
commercial station, of course, would have commercials. Public television has
S: For their own shows.
W: Promote their own shows on programming. Periodically they have fund-breaks,
fund-drives where we ask the public to support their public broadcasting station.
Also, there is a low-power television station that has come about in the last few
years that now is totally switched by students so students can go and work at the
low-power television station. It is also carried on the cable system here, Cox
Cable in Gainesville. So what the students are putting on the air at this low-
power fifty-two-watt station nobody can pick up. But what they do switch does go
on the local and Gainesville cable. So they are getting experience that way also.
I guess one of the important missions of Channel 5 is to provide training for
students. That way we are more of an educational facility.
S: So I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the students, just what your
impression of the students are and how students have changed over the years, if
you have any impression of that in the years that you have there. Every year you
get a new crop a students coming in there and you do have some connection
with them through the news program and just being on the [?]
W: That is a pretty complex question in a sense. In the last few years I have
attended classes at Weimer Hall myself; I am a telecommunications student in
the College of Journalism and Communications so from that standpoint I have
interacted with students, you know how it is in classes where we have to do
projects together and so I have to get up and give speeches, they have to give
speeches, we have to write papers, sometimes we write them together. It has
been real neat; I have learned some things and I get to watch the professors, the
instructors. For years before this, I have interacted with these people, usually
with the same people for years and did not really know what they did, but now I
get to see what they do for a living because I am taking their classes. They kind
of know what I do, I do not think they really understand fully, as a general
statement what I do. I get to know what they do and I find that very interesting.
It makes more sense about what goes on and what is being taught there. It is
very news-oriented, but actually in the last probably couple of years, I have seen
a new crop of associate professors coming in that have kind of given a little more
vigor to the program and that has been good. It is maybe a little more
production-oriented, maybe. At least they try to put it in there, what they can and
still stick to the curriculum.
S: With respect to the students' interaction with you as a station, do you see them
as being serious students headed for a bright future in the world of journalism
and communications? Do they put out a good product for their involvement in
production producing a news show on a daily basis?
W: Just off the top of my head, I have to say that it is hard because it is a thing like
when people say, "those engineers", that is in our concept of like the radio
engineer I was talking about, the guy that goes and cleans the toilet. I do not
identify with that at all. It is a hard time of life, I believe, being away from home
and I believe that when a young person comes into a university environment,
they look for acceptance and they may have a certain lifestyle and they will fall in
with others of that lifestyle or if they are floundering they will try to fall in with
whomever accepts them. So in that sense, there are groups of students, but
they are certainly individuals. There are people that are very serious about their
careers and their futures and very hard-working students and I have seen some
really talented people. I have seen people that will volunteer for anything, that
will work incredible hours, that will work over holidays, work through spring break,
do anything to get things on their resume and learn about what it takes to make a
television station work. All I can say is that I hope those people have a bright
future. But a person who is that hard-working, something good should come for
them. So in that aspect, there are a lot of hard-workers, there are people that I
see and in my classes that are kind of going through the motions of taking
classes. Maybe they just have not really made up their minds what they want to
do with their lives. You know, when I was that age, I would think that what I
would have felt in some of those classes was that I was just trying to get through
and made a grade and move on to the next level, not really aware of what it is in
this particular class that may be the gleam, the part that might really help me
later. Taking the classes now, I tend to do that. I certainly want to know what is
going to be on the test so I can learn that and make a good grade. If there is a
part that interests me, I will really hone in on that and say well, this I really want
to know, I really want to know about script writing, I want to know how you
develop a character or this or that. Certainly in the script writing class I attended,
you see a variety of people. It is funny. It is like some of the students seem to
be writing for their click, more than for themselves. They want their writing to
appear as a certain type of individual to the people that they are in with. But that
is not true of everyone. I saw people that were writing really deep stuff and
things that were meaningful to them. It is hard to generalize. Over the years I
have seen certainly students kind of fluctuate in their outward attitudes as we
went through the republican era of the Reaganomics, the 1000 points of light that
George Bush used to kill all those thousands of people in Panama, then into the
Clinton era. Where did I get my outlook when I was that age? Where do these
people get their outlooks, CNN? I do not know, but I have certainly seen the last
few years a kind of growth in the individuality in the students, a certain segment
of students that I can certainly relate to from my experience when I was
seventeen, eighteen and nineteen. Though they are not me and they may wear
their hair long and bell-bottoms, they are not me and they are not doing what I
did. I think in America it takes a certain amount of courage to be different and to
express an opinion that is different than the majority. We seem to be ruled by the
It has been interesting relating to the students. I have to say, in the last year or
so of classes, I felt in general a kind of distancing from the students in sense
Did it have something to do with your age?
Yes, I felt that it was age-[related] in that though we have things in common
professionally to relate to or classes, I do not have their life experience and they
do not have my life experience. They do not really know who Nixon was, they
were not around when Kennedy was assassinated, they do not know what
Vietnam was about. These are things that shaped my life, there are things that
shaped their lives. It is just not part of my personal make-up and I have often
joked it is kind of like being in a kind of twilight zone, living in Gainesville where
my group of friends, the people that I am around, we all grow old, but everyone
around us stays twenty.
That is a very true phenomenon of Gainesville.
It is and there are a lot of things about that that are really nice. You are able to
certainly maintain a kind of youthful outlook and I find that really good. But
having to relate on an individual basis, just the television programs we grew up
watching are so different, you know. I could give a damn about Scooby-Doo. So
it is just a whole different thing.
S: On a different topic, still on the station, I wanted to know if through the years that
you have worked there, have you had any special personalities or celeberties
that have visited the station that you thought were particularly interesting?
W: I got to meet Gene Rodenbery, that was really neat, he was the creator of
S: I know you are a "Trekie" fan.
W: I love StarTrek, as a child it still held up the banner that technology would save
us all. I do not know if I really believe that anymore, but it is certainly nice to go
there occasionally and have that belief, that we could all, green and yellow, black
and white, oh my God, what a site, that we could all live together and that we all
could share some common ideals or at least respect the differences and
ideologies. So it was really wonderful, I just met him briefly. I go to shake his
hand. He was just a big, meaty, warm hands, I remember. Just like B.B. King's
when I met him. He was smiling, he seemed very happy and very at ease and
very self-assured. He went over to give a speech that I did not get to go see
because I had to work that night on something at the station but I did get to meet
him, which I thought was neat. To this day, I wish I just had the presence of mind
to ask him for his autograph but I was as bowled over as anyone and in awe.
S: Any others that you thought were really interesting?
W: Who else did I see? God, it seems like there was somebody else I was thinking
about the other day. Who was that guy? Everyone would kill me for not
remembering this guy's name. Stop for a second. [tape off]
S: Did you come up with any?
W: The one was William Buckley, the conservative columnist. I did not go down to
meet him because I just thought it was real interesting watching him like wiggle
his forehead how he does. Buckley was always kind of interesting because
being as ultra-conservative, he always does seem to have a morality about him.
I can remember as a kid watching him and debating; I cannot
remember which election it was, I was really young. But had called
him a fascist and William Buckley jumped up waiving his hands and said he
would like kick his butt or something. It was so out of character for William
Buckley. Anyway, William Buckley was there so I thought it was kind of intriguing
he was there. Also I got to meet John Amos, he is an actor who has done
television and movies. He was there to narrate a local production called the The
Black Warriors of the Seminole, it was about how free Africans and escaped
slaves had come to live with the Seminoles in Florida. In the local production
done at WUFT, had a great field engineer, Sherilynn Wood work on that and it
won a Sun Coast Emmy. John Amos came to narrate it and I just accidently got
to meet him. I was working on something with Karen Hann, throwing
screwdrivers and stuff around, just got in the elevator and the elevator door
closed and there he was. Our producer, Benny Jones was standing there and
introduced me and I thought it was really nice and neat. So I got to meet him, I
thought that was really nice.
And Mr. McFeeley, I want to put that in.
Mr. McFeeley from Mr. Rogers, and excellent television program that PBS does,
Next can you tell us a little about your job, you became the manager.
I actually kept getting promoted though there and became the engineering
manager or the assistant chief engineer for Channel 5. I held that position for
four years. During that time we expanded facility, actually Weimer Hall, the
college, was expanded during that period. We acquired another studio and
another control room. We greatly upgraded the facility. I was responsible for
implementing those changes with my crew of people. It was very complex; had
to coordinate all the different cablings and keep the station on the air, do local
productions, do the news and yet build a whole new studio. Also at that time we
renovated our old facility so it was a very tough time, a real challenge though.
Earlier, I was dwelling on the fact that you had people that had never done the
particular job that they were doing or that they had been promoted into at the
university. Then they were doing it and they sort of grew into it. Well I had never
built. I had built things in the military and I had seen how things were and
actually I had been a leading petty officer in the Navy, so I had leadership
training and I had done this position in engineering manager, but not for a
television station, but I actually got to build a television station. So that was a
real growing thing, something I had never done before, but I grew into it and got
to do that. It was great; it was a good time there in my occupation. Very hard.
S: Since you are talking about being in management, can you give us a brief
overview of how the station is and how it works?
W: For engineering in particular. As a general manager who is over the station
manager for the public FM station, WUFT FM, and over the station manager for
the television station. Under the station manager, at the time, I was doing this.
Under the station manager, the chain of command would be the director of
engineering and under the director of engineering would be the engineering
manager, which I was. Under me, at that time, were the maintenance engineers
and the engineering supervisor who was the supervisor for the operations
department, who were the people who were switching breaks. So under me
there were thirteen people altogether at that time. So that is the way it broke
down into the chain of command. What happened later was kind of an
interesting thing that also is a part of how it is to work at the university, State of
Florida, and be a State of Florida employee. Back up in the radio station, the guy
that was the Chief Engineer, Ed Slomack, been there all those years,
radio operator, still there clawing away. When the expanded up there, they
brought in people from the outside to build their studios. ED Slomack is still
sitting in his office being the chief engineer, but the radio station, they consulted
outside consultants, whereas down at the television, we renovated and built it all
and designed it all ourselves. But after that period of time, as the old guard was
slowly disappearing from RUF and new people were being hired. Their various
reasons why, I do not really want to get into the speculation, but what essentially
happened was Ed Slomack ended up without a job. This commercial radio
station decided they no longer needed a chief engineer or actually even an
engineering staff. The person who is their technician, his job was transferred to
the FM station and then RUF paid him to come and work there and do his old
job. So one of the excuses that were given as to why the positions were
eliminated was salary and yet RUF still pays the same salary to this technician,
he is just no longer on their staff. So I find that very confusing, it seems to reek
of politics to me, but anyway. Also, Ed Slomack had reached his thirty years,
which he had told many people over the course of the last ten years that when he
reached thirty years he was retiring, and they eliminated his job.
Expecting him to retire?
The assumption was that he would retire at thirty years, which he can do at fifty-
five and get full retirement. But he did not retire. It was not handled tactfully at
RUF, I believe. So he went through the University system as a USPS employee
has certain rights under the union and state employees have certain rights when
a job is eliminated. He can look for a job of lessor, he can look for a job of equal,
if he finds a job and if he is a senior person, he can bump the person in position.
It does not really matter whether the qualifications for the job are, loop hole, loop
hole, exactly the same. It only matters if that person has sat at that desk longer.
Somebody that has been there thirty years, if they can find another job that has
their same title, then they can essentially, if they chose to do it, usually most
people do not do that because you disrupt a whole system. People have been
hired into a certain position and you usually end up creating animosity among the
people that you do that with. Ed's solution was no exception to that. In that he
was the chief engineer and I am an engineering manager, but both of the jobs
written down in the state were senior broadcast engineer technologist. So Ed
proceeded to bump down into the television station.
And bumped you right out of a job.
Right. A job that I had earned and interviewed for and was hired into, and
because of the state system, I no longer had. I was back at the bench working,
repairing equipment. Ed Slomack, who was a radio engineer was now running
this television department.
Of course, I mean it goes without saying. And to this day, in my opinion, he is
totally unqualified. But of course the people in the station who do not want to
create any political wave, the upper management just acts as if nothing ever
happened. There is never any kind of arbitration; never any kind of gosh, we
really feel sorry that this happened. Well, that is part of the system, but there is
never any concept of, well, maybe since we have you as a qualified person, we
can try to work this out, we can hand off job positions, we can try to make the
system work better. It was just that this person assumes all the responsibilities of
the position, qualified or not, to a position that I had a actually made bigger. A
position I had made bigger by creating advancement opportunities for the
operators within their system, created technologist positions for the operators,
given more training to the people, had built the station. None of that really
matters to the State of Florida in the employment aspects. None of that really
matters to any of the people who are in charge of the television station. What
matters is that every blank is filled, every line is signed, every dot, every period.
That is all that matters, nothing happened. Well, certainly it was devastating for
me personally. Here I am working for a guy I never respected in the first place.
I had no respect for him. In my opinion he is not qualified for the
position he does. Also, he had the opportunity to do the right thing and he did
not do it, so I have no respect personally for this person.
S: The system allowed him to do it, but doesn't that give you no respect for the
system? It would me.
W: Well the system, yes, has a flaw in it. But of course it can be said that I did not
lose my job because I went down and bumped this junior guy in the shop. At that
time I had just remarried to the most wonderful woman I have ever met and
continue to be incredibly happy with. Oh, what was I talking about? She,
through cutbacks in the system that were happening at that time in the State of
Florida, had just lost her job. So she was having a sense of loss and I had this
sense of loss. I did not lose any salary, the one thing they did for me. They
allowed me to keep my salary, which I am eternally grateful for. But one of my
best friends at work lost his job; I bumped him. So am I a sleezeball also? I had
my reasons, I am sure Ed had his reason.
S: To me it is just such an ineffective backwards system of University of Florida
[end tape B]
S: This is tape three interview with Bob Wood by Sherilynn Wood, Sunday, March
24. We are just finishing up and we were talking about your opinion and
impression of the University of Florida and Florida employment.
W: Ok, I had had an experience which was unpleasant to say the least in having to
be bumped from a position, not because of anything that I did, but merely
because a person with seniority in another whole area had lost their job and
through the state system they are allowed to bump me. We were giving some
opinions and I was expressing how and will continue to express how hurt I was
by that and how I blamed individual and yet I had my own reasons for bumping
the next person over who was actually a friend of mine and how that worked. It
is funny how we can justify things in ourselves that we will never justify and be
able to understand in others. I think that is an important point to make too. As
unjust as some of this seems and it brings up emotions to even talk about, things
that have not settled and probably will never be settled, it was an attempt by the
system, I believe to guarantee work for people so that people could not be
arbitrarily dumped out. It would give some guarantee and some security to the
workers and in a sense, that is a good thing. The idea here is a good idea, I
believe. You want to have people continue their careers and have employment.
So it is a good idea. You can see how now it took years for that to settle out;
people have left the engineering department because of this. Not me, I have had
to struggle with it, but it basically shook the whole foundation in seeing one
person have to lose their job arbitrarily because of the way this happened.
Instead of creating a sense of job security among the workers, what it created
was a sense of insecurity and unfairness among the workers. They felt that at
any point they could arbitrarily have a new boss, someone who everyone
certainly, I cannot say that, that would be my opinion, but I would say that some
people certainly feel that was unqualified, a person that was not one of them, that
had not worked in television, that did not understand what they did. I am talking
mostly about operators now, who did not understand their position and we have
had several operators that have quit and have had very strong, strong personality
conflicts with Ed Slomack, who is in my position. I would say those were the
people who had the hardest feelings. So in a sense, a system that tries to do a
good thing ends up doing not quite what it set out to do, let me just put it that
way. I was very hostile and very judgmental of this person for years after this
happened, the couple of years this person has been there in this position. I still
find myself second guessing at times, but what I found that helped me personally
was that I am still at the University of Florida. I like working there, beautiful
campus, great people, I am taking classes, I can go out and walk this campus
during my breaks and my lunch hours. It is lovely there; I still live in Gainesville,
still making the same salary I made without the headaches, my God. I do not get
to make the decisions though, is what I miss and I felt that I was doing good work
there because I felt like I was trying to engenderate respect for the people in the
engineering department. I was trying to give them something which I thought
was really important. Which they will never have now, because the rest of the
management does not have a clue of what goes on with anybody besides
themselves and never will and never want to be. They are totally engrossed in
the bureaucracy of what goes on there, doing their little bureaucratic thing. Once
I allowed that to envelop me in its warm arms and I saw that there is no need to
care and there is no longer any need to understand, all I do is what is put in front
of me and I am very happy. I had this whole sense of well-being, of fullness in
that I am no longer really even a clog in something turning because really nothing
is turning. There are no clogs.
S: Clog or a Cog?
W: Cog, right, I am sorry, you are right, a cog, I am sorry. A cog in something
turning because nothing is turning, it is just a bag of marshmallows. The most
important thing for me to do is not to move in the bag or heaven forbid make a
sharp, pointy object out of a marshmallow and actually try to create a sense of
direction or purpose. That is the ultimate sin among the bureaucracy I have
S: That you just go and do your job...
W: I do my job and like I said earlier about in the military, I have pride in what I do. I
do not know if it is me personally because I have been brought up with a strong
work ethic, or it is something that I learned and was trained into me in the
military. It just really bothers me not to do the work, and so I still do the work and
I try to emotionally detach myself from the workings of the station. Then I get
along. It seems like such a backwards way to make things work. Of course, we
cannot have all the workers making the decisions or we would be like the
Bolshevik Revolution, you know, we like the third act of the Soviet congress
where the soldiers in the front lines who were Russian were allowed to elect their
leaders and if there were any orders that were given they did not like then they
could vote and refuse to obey them. There is no way we can work that way in
that sense, so there has to be a hierarchy. It was just hard for me having
promoted into a position of authority where I felt I was making a difference. Now
I am back in a position where I really have no authority and there is no real
authority. There is no one in my opinion that wants to make a difference. The
concept of wanting to make a difference does not exist. I cannot stress to you
how deeply this idea permeates the bureaucracy of this television station. The
most important thing it seems is not to do.
It seems very strange for a university and public broadcasting, to me, that--
Well certainly in communications, the communications industry right now, we are
on a threshold of a hold see changer. I heard somebody say on a paradigm
shift. We are at a whole change in what can be expected from a broadcast
station, all the different delivery systems for education and entertainment that
may come into the household in the near future. The very life of public
broadcasting as you know it is ending. Congress is slowly writing public
broadcasting out of the system. Public broadcasting needs to reinvent itself.
There are different things that are offered through public broadcasting, the math
net uplinks. There is just so much and so many things that could be happening
and we have people that are just waiting for their next thing, you know. The chief
engineer at the station no longer even really is a participant in the engineering
part of the station. He has chosen to do computer work and no longer for all
practical purposes interfaces at all; totally detached. He can do that. The
engineering manager no longer is in charge of the engineering supervisor, that
has been taken away from him. The people that are in maintenance, they repair
things and that is what they do. Because the concept of the person in the
engineering manager has been for thirty years he has been institutionalized and
to just sit in his office and do what comes across his desk. There is no forward
looking. So it is really a very weird time. For me certainly, I just want to finish my
degree, do my job, and try to do things that broaden my work. If I have a chance
to work outside and do projects, video projects and different projects, I do those
and try to broaden myself. I try to personally be aware of what is happening in
the telecommunications industry.
S: I just wanted to follow up on that note of your statements about the changes in
PBS and the current situation at the station. To me it seems the mediocrity of the
administration, what do you think the future the future of WUFT is? It is a PBS
station, it is affiliated with the university.
W: My personal feelings are that National Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS,
will come up with a plan and then it will filter down to the stations. This plan will
be slowly implemented into what we do. The plan might be something as simple
as having limited commercials or different types of fund raising or doing more
uplinks or offer different services such as a math-line.
S: More educational.
W: More educational programming. I think they will figure that out. It is interesting
because I read different trade magazines about different stations around the
country and they are trying different things and they are searching in different
directions and they are trying to be innovative and they are trying to find their
own solutions because the funding is going to be ending and with the multitude of
delivery systems, they are trying to find some kind of niche. You know, the right
one, the wrong one, but they are doing things; they are trying to find something to
do. I think what will happen at WUFT, it that when something is figured out it will
be slowly be implemented into WUFT.
You mean figured out by national people?
By national PBS.
The station is not doing it.
The station will not do anything. The people who run the station will attend all the
meetings and they will write all the memos and whatever, but there will be no
innovation. It will just slowly happen. The thing that saves UFT is that it is
affiliated with the College of Journalism and we do offer that training for students
in the news. Even if you look at the bleakest scenario where the State of Florida
decided to just sell the station outright to a commercial entity, a CBS, we may get
a CBS station here in Gainesville or something, and they totally lose it, we still
have a low-powered station. Every night on Cox Cable the students could put on
a news broadcast. But the college, the university, now you get into the politics,
do not want to lose that because it is a big selling point for their educational
facility is that they have this opportunity for student to put on this broadcast every
evening and to work at a full-power VHF station. Everyone in management
knows that, that politically for the university, no one wants to lose the station. In
a sense, no matter what you do at the station, it is always going to be there,
everyone realized that so nobody has to do a damn thing.
S: So it can just continue to be there?
W: It just continues to go on. And for me, that was a hard thing to understand, and
so it goes, as Kurt Voneget. Kurt Voneget gave a speech at the University of
Florida and I got to see him. It was one of the really neat things about working
there and being a part of the community there at the university. I got to see Kurt
Voneget, one of the greatest authors of our time.
S: The last question, and you have already touched on this a little bit, but if you
have anything more to say about what is your future at the station or away from
the station? What do you see for yourself?
W: Well that is pretty timely for me because as you, my wife, as you finish your next
level of education in distance learning, there will be some opportunities for us as
a family that may open up. This may mean a move, a new situation, it may not.
But me personally, I am hoping to finish a liberal arts degree from the State
University in New York. I am getting a degree through their distance learning
program and I should finish that up this summer. So I will have my bachelor's
degree and so that gives me something else, I believe on my resume that makes
me a sellable entity. I do not feel I have to stay at WUFT and be a technologist,
though I probably could end up dying there at that bench if I so chose. I have
worked myself into a fairly good salary range there, so I am not unhappy with
that, but there really are not any challenges and certainly when I get out of
school, then I will not have anything really outside of that that is minimally
challenging me and so if there are opportunities that are there that I see, I will be
looking for them. I will be looking for that next opportunity, whether it is here
locally, whether something, maybe in distance learning or something in one of
the newer aspects of telecommunications, some opportunity presents itself, I will
jump at that. There is just something about me that is not sedentary. I am still
looking, I am still looking toward the future.
S: You like to do good work, you like to work. You have that strong work ethic in
you. You want challenges.
W: I like a challenge. Gainesville is a nice place to live; I have a nice place and a
nice situation of friends. If the opportunity presents itself, I would chuck the
whole damn thing for the American dollar. No, I do not want to put that in. No,
but if there is something out there, something challenging and rewarding, I would
certainly go to that. I do not want to seem to passive about it, I am certainly
always looking for opportunities in the future.
S: Well thank you very much; I think that was an excellent interview.
W: Well thank you, I certainly enjoyed talking about myself.
S: Thank you.