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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewer: Verena Krausneker
Interviewee: Noel Lake
K: This is Verena Krausneker talking to Mr. Noel Lake at his
home at 630 SW 26th Place in Gainesville, Florida. Today
the date is the 15th, I believe?
L: Yes, income tax day.
K: Oh, I see. April the 15th, 1996. First here a question
about the photos you took. I talked to Dr. Proctor and he
got very excited and said the Archive of UF would love to
have those pictures.
L: Oh, okay, I will try to round them up.
K: Yes. I guess there is no hurry, but he just said they are
definitely very interested in them.
L: I had asked another professor before and he was not
interested in all.
K: Dr. Proctor is the right person to talk about that. Maybe I
should tell you a little bit about me. I am a student from
Austria and I am just here for a year. My minor is history
and I am taking a seminar class with Dr. Proctor. The
special thing we are working about now is the Plaza as I
have told you on the phone.
L: So that is what you want to know about today?
K: Yes, I would like to know a little bit about your person
K: If that is possible.
K: And then probably because you are the specialist concerning
landscape and planning and everything about the Plaza. Sir,
could you first tell me your full name please? Plus middle
L: Noel Reese Lake.
K: When and where were you born?
L: I was born in Jacksonville, [Florida] June the 9th, 1926.
K: Could you maybe tell me your parents full names too?
L: My mother is still living. I think she is ninety years old.
Her name is Katie Lake. My dad died back in 1960 and his
name was William Reese Lake.
K: Your mother's maiden name?
L: Was Katie Hill.
K: Okay that is all the demographic information. [both laugh]
So you were born in Jacksonville and you grew up there and
you went to school there?
L: That is right I went to school there and I joined the Army
Air Corps in my last year in high school and then I went in
the service. I spent two years in Army Air Corps and the
war ended before I finished training, but I did not go over
seas. I went over to and to the Philippines.
K: You went over there to...?
L: Well, to take the places of the fellows that were coming
home after the war was over.
K: Were you excited about doing that?
L: Yes, I was excited. It was very interesting.
K: How long did you say you spent abroad?
L: Oh, let us see, about a year I guess it was on
That is where they had the air base from which the atomic
bomb was flown. As a matter of fact, that was the 505th
Bomb Group and for awhile I was in the 504th Bomb Group.
No, that was the 509th Bomb Group, that is right. 509th,
then I was in the 504th for awhile, and then in the 505th
for awhile, that is the way it was. Then one of the
interesting things that I helped do was deactivate the
twentieth Air Force and move all of their equipment to the
thirteenth Air Force which was in the Philippines at Clark
K: So you went over there then?
L: Yes, I went to the Philippines.
K: Wow, that is a completely different part of the world.
L: Yes, that is right. It was interesting.
K: Being in the military did you see something of the life
there, of the people, of the natives there or were you
mainly on the base and in American culture?
L: Well, mainly on the base, but yes I got to see the Filipinos
quite a bit. They were interesting people. They are small
people, stature wise, but they were friendly. In a way I
think back and I am glad that at last we are out of the
Philippines. Let them have it to themselves. Quite a few
years ago the volcano erupted all over Clark Field and they
have abandoned that base. In a way, I think that is a good
thing. Get the Americans out of there.
K: Then you came back after about a year.
L: I came back and the talk was about the GI Bill. I had not
much thought about ever going to college, but I did not know
what else to do. I decided maybe I ought to take advantage
of the GI Bill and come here to the University of Florida
and go to school. I did not know exactly what I wanted to
major in but I finally decided on ornamental horticulture or
landscape horticulture is what I had in mind. I started in
ornamental horticulture here at the University in February
of 1947. I went by the classroom for landscape architecture
one day and I saw what they were doing and I said boy that
is what I would like to do. I can do those drawings that
they were doing. So I went to see my professor, actually I
went to see Dr. [Harold] Hume [Dean, College of Agriculture,
1943 1950]. You have heard of him right, Harold Hume?
L: He was head of The College of Agriculture then. I asked him
what he thought about me switching majors to landscape
architecture. He said, well go for it if that is what you
want to do. Maybe you can come back after you get your
degree in landscape architecture and go ahead and finish
your degree in ornamental horticulture. That is just what I
did. I went and got a degree in landscape architecture with
high honors and came back and spent another year. I thought
I had another year on the GI Bill but it turned out that I
did not. They made a mistake. Anyway, I got a job as my
professor's lab assistant and finished the year out and got
my degree in ornamental horticulture. Then I had gone down
to Palm Beach with two of my classmates that had graduated
the year before I did and they were checking on a position
in Palm Beach. They decided not to go to work down there,
but I decided that I would go work that summer. It was the
summer before my last year. I liked it so when I got my
degree in horticulture I went back and worked there for
about five years in Palm Beach.
K: Was that the small field back then, landscaping and that?
L: Yes, that is interesting too. It was, there were hardly any
professional landscape architects in the state of Florida.
One got started about the time I was started in Palm Beach.
I can not think of his name right away but he was in Fort
Lauderdale, there was two in Fort Lauderdale as a matter of
fact. Another one Porter Reynolds, he was in Fort
Lauderdale. A few years later as I worked in Palm Beach one
of my classmates came to work down there as a professional
landscape architect. A few years later he helped to
organize the landscape architecture, the few that were in
the state of Florida. Now there is a lot of them. There is
a thousand or so I guess. The field has grown a lot.
K: Does the field include gardening and that kind of knowledge
about plants and stuff like that?
L: Yes, but they do not emphasize that very much. They
emphasize your design, larger scale developments like sub-
divisions and things like that, more than they do the
horticulture part of it.
K: What was the field that interested you the most about
landscaping? What aspect was your favorite one?
L: Well, I had always liked to draw and that is one of the
things that interested me when I saw what they were doing.
The professors they had at that time let them do a lot of
drawings. That picture there is one of them we did as a
class project. It was a sketch problem.
L: We were suppose to do that in one afternoon. did
that in one afternoon from a little poem on the back of that
that you had to describe.
K: Great! Wow! Then you were in West Palm Beach and you
worked with a company?
L: I worked right in Palm Beach, right in the heart of Palm
Beach. That was the best apprenticeship I think anybody
could have had in that field at that time. That is where
the really wealthy people live and they spend a lot of money
on their landscapes.
K: So it was like individual people would hire you for their
L: Yes, for estates. A lot of big estates on the island of
Palm Beach. I did a little bit of work over in West Palm
Beach and Lake Worth, but mostly right there in Palm Beach
on the island.
K: How long do you usually spend with one estate?
L: It depends, it varies a lot.
K: I have no clue about that, this is all very new and
L: You try to draw up a plan and work out an estimate in about
a day. You can do about one a day I would say.
K: Then what if they have ideas of what they would like, do
they tell you that?
L: Yes, you go talk to them, find out what they have in mind.
The people down in that area would seem to have less
interest in the details then they do here in Gainesville
area. They would kind of leave it up to us. What I do
there, I would go sell the job to the client, draw up the
plans as part of the selling technique and then the
president of the company would assign me a crew of men and I
would actually go out and do the work, supervise the work.
So you did the whole thing. I liked that way of doing it.
Where as now, in this area or I guess mostly throughout the
state, the landscape architects draw up plans and
specifications and bid their work. Landscape construction
companies, the lowest bidders, usually get the job to do the
K: What happened then, after five years in West Palm Beach?
L: I was down there a year I guess working full time and got
married and my wife and I stayed down there another three or
K: When did you get married? What year?
L: I got married in 1951 I think it was. She was from
Jacksonville too and our parents, especially her parents,
wanted us to move closer back to Jacksonville. I had
applied for a job twice before [and] I had done some tests
that were for civil service work in landscape architecture.
I had passed the test and they offered me the job and I
turned it down twice. The third time they had offered it to
me again and the about that same time I heard about this job
opening here at the University, superintendent of grounds at
the University. I applied for that and just before I
decided to leave to take the government civil service job in
Philadelphia, they made up their minds. J. Wayne Reitz
[President Emeritus, University of Florida, 1967 1982]
made up his mind to hire me to be superintendent of the
grounds here at the University. Just before I came here to
the University to be superintendent of grounds, the grounds
department and the police department were combined because
they were both so small. The fellow that was in charge of
those two combined departments had been appointed Sheriff of
K: Which two departments?
L: Grounds and campus police. They were all the same
department, but they were growing. When he was appointed
Sheriff they decided to split the department and make a
police department and a grounds department so I never did
have anything to do with the police department. It began to
grow. The campus was growing. When I came here the main
part of the campus ended right behind the HUB. McCarty Hall
had not been built yet. It was started I think the year
after I came here. The Health Center had not been built, it
was just a corn field down there then. There was not even a
road going down in that direction.
K: Do you remember what year that was when you started?
L: I started work here in September of 1955. They started both
those buildings, they started the Health Center I think in
1956 and McCarty Hall, so the campus began to spread right
K: Your official position was superintendent for grounds.
L: Superintendent of grounds. Later they upgraded that
position to landscape and grounds-keeping superintendent.
Then about twenty-five, twenty-six years later they decided
to take the landscape design which I had always had. I had
had a few landscape designers working for me, usually it was
landscape architecture students working part time. We had
finally gotten a full-time position for that, for landscape
designer. Well we had more than that. We had one full-time
position and several part-time positions. They decided to
split those departments. I said, if you are going to do
that I would like to be the campus landscape designer. That
is what they did. For the last about seven years I was
there that is what it was. I was campus landscape
architect. I had one fellow working with me full-time too.
Two of us did that together.
K: Before the superintendent position, you had a lot of people
working for you?
L: I had about 140 positions, but that did not tell the whole
story. We had a 140 line item positions, but I do not
remember having them all filled at one time. We had a
tremendous turnover, over 100 percent almost every year.
K: How come?
L: The University of Florida paid less than anybody else
working. If any governmental agency, like the city or the
county, saw somebody that was working for us they liked they
could hire them right out away from us because they would
pay them more. They did that a lot.
K: What things did your division have to take care of? Was it
the planting on ground and landscape? Are the cleaning
people the same?
L: The way I used to figure it about 30 to 40 percent of our
man power was spent on grounds maintenance, just cleaning up
the grounds. The other about 60 percent of the time was
spent on new construction, doing new landscapes. That was
not enough, we could not keep up. As fast as they were
building buildings here and then expanding the campus we
just could not do the new landscapes as fast as we should
have been able.
K: That includes the hills and planting new trees and stuff
L: Yes. We did some fairly heavy construction work too. We
dug the canal that leads from the Health Center to Lake
Alice. We had drag lines, and bull dozers and all kinds of
heavy equipment. We built a garbage transfer station. That
was under the grounds department, the collection and
disposal of refuse. We did the sign painting, traffic
painting, maintaining of the roads, even paved some roads.
We did all the sidewalk construction and retaining walls
construction. There is something in the paper today about
all the bricks they use on campus showing some workers
building a retaining wall and planners we usually do a lot
of that. All the irrigation installation and maintenance of
the operations of irrigation. Since I was superintendent of
grounds they have taken several of those chores away from
ground and they have organized a utility department. I do
not think that the refuse collection comes under grounds any
more nor does the installation of irrigation mains. The
road and traffic sign chores come under utilities now I
K: When you first started you took over from somebody else who
had the position before you I imagine?
L: Yes, that was what I said awhile ago. That was Joe Kavasc.
Joe Kavasc was appointed Sheriff by the government.
K: That was his?
L: He was in charge of grounds and police departments.
K: But his education was police?
L: His education was horticulture. He got a masters degree in
horticulture here at the University of Florida. He got the
job as superintendent of the grounds. A minor part of the
grounds back then was the police department. We did not
have very many policemen, did not need them.
K: It is such a funny combination. [laughter]
L: They did not need very many policeman so they let him be in
charge since he knew and understood police work pretty good,
had not had any experience and was a good politician. The
governor appointed him sheriff when they got rid of the
sheriff here in Alachua County. He stayed sheriff until he
K: You worked parallel then. When you first came on campus,
did you have any ideas or plans that you wanted to change
things? Or was there so much things that had to be done?
L: No, not very much. I tried hard to continue what Joe Kavsac
had already started. I did not want to make any sudden
changes. But I did do this, my wife and I would take our
vacations in the summertime, wherever we would go if we
passed anywhere near another college campus I would be sure
to visit and see what they were doing and see what it looked
like. That is one of the things you asked me a little bit
ago about the Plaza of Americas. I remember one time I had
given a lot of thought to Plaza of Americas. Well what is
wrong that people do not use it?
K: When you came people did not hang out there?
L: No, they did not use the Plaza of the Americas very much.
They would use the crosswalk to cross from one part of the
campus to the other. They never did congregate out there.
Finally, I decided maybe it is too expansive, it is just too
big. People do not feel comfortable there. I remember
visiting the campus of Wake Forrest in Winston Salem, North
Carolina, they had just built a new campus. While it was
still brand new we happened to go by there one day and I
noticed that they had developed a mall on their campus and
had lined the mall with magnolia trees. That is about as
far North as our native magnolia grand of Florida will grow.
Something clicked in my mind. I said, boy look how that
defines space those heavy magnolias. So I said maybe that
is what we need to do. I came back and decided that we
would plant a double row of magnolias in the Plaza of the
Americas and try to open up the center and close the space
in a little bit. That is what we did. Many years later,
they built Library West on the north end of the Plaza of the
Americas, that helped give a feeling of enclosure too. It
gave a good solid wall to the north end. It was interesting
that when they built the building I went there and they
lined up the building with the rows of magnolias we planted.
They were exactly symmetrical, just like they cleared off a
few inches. I said, hey you should have moved the building
over this way a little bit so it would have lined up with
our magnolias. I think then that scheme worked. Even
before they built Library West people began to congregate
more there in the Plaza. Actually, I have not been there.
I have not looked at it lately. I do not know how the
magnolias have grown. I do remember one incident that when
they used to have the preliminary skits for homecoming they
would have the try outs out there in the Plaza of the
Americas. One day a boy called me and said one of the
magnolias that we had planted was in the way of setting up
his stage for his skit. I said well move your stage. No,
he had to put it right there and we should come over and
move the magnolia. I said we cannot do that it is the wrong
time of the year to try to transplant a tree. It is too big
anyway. He said, well if you do not come move it, it will
not be there tomorrow. I happened to go by there the next
day and there was a magnolia lying out on the ground. They
had cut it down.
K: They did?
K: Did that make you mad?
L: That made me very mad.
K: I can imagine.
L: The next winter when we could plant trees, we got one as
large as was available and planted it in its place. It was
years behind all of the others then.
K: I have had older students tell me that they remember that
there used to be more bushes and flowers on the Plaza. Now
it is more trees and meadows there is not so many magnolias.
L: Another thing is that when I was a student, this is
something they ought to try again, they used to have Pan-
American day and they had flags for every Pan-American
country and they had a monument on the edge of the Plaza of
the Americas and a place to stand those flags. They even
planted a live oak tree for every country. Those live oak
trees ring the Plaza of the Americas. I thought that was
kind of nice and I think that is something they ought to try
again. Have Pan-American day and put up all of the flags of
all of the Pan-American countries.
K: What is your favorite area on the campus? I imagine you
know every spot on there.
L: [laughter] The favorite area, I do not know. I never
thought much about that. I do not know whether I have a
favorite area or not. The Reitz Union, probably.
K: If you go by the Plaza now every noon there are so many
people there that just sit in the grass and enjoy
themselves. Did you know they serve food there? The Hare
L: Yes, I had heard that, yes.
K: People go there to have their lunch. It is a big social
center of the Plaza now.
L: That is good, that is the way it ought to be. You know, it
was interesting that after they built the Reitz Union they
tried to move some of those gatherings that were happening
there in the Plaza of the Americas closer to the Reitz
Union. I do not think it ever really succeeded very well.
They just were not able to get them to move down there. I
think that is part of the problem. You have got to give
them sort of a feeling of enclosure you know.
K: Do you remember any of the gatherings on the Plaza? There
were political demonstrations there, I think. Do you
remember any of that?
L: Well, I remember one incident that I would like to forget.
I had done a drawing for a design for the walkways across
the Plaza of the Americas. I do not know if you have ever
looked closely at the British flag or not but it is two
crosses, St. Andrew's cross and somebody else's cross. That
same design is used a lot in formal gardens. What we were
trying to do was change the crosswalks just a little bit in
the Plaza of Americas so we could sort of formalize that
design, make it a little more symmetrical. We were working
toward that. That was after I was landscape designer and
landscape architect. My partner was out there with me and
we were trying to lay out those walks and the students
questioned what we were doing. I said well, we are getting
ready to build a stage here, we were not really, I should
not have told them that. Anyway, one of these activists on
campus heard about it and he got all up in arms about it and
started protesting something that we were not really going
to do. It was hard to get them to calm down. We were not
planning to build a stage in Plaza of the Americas. We did
not have the money to do it in the first place. As a result
they stopped the construction of the crosswalks that we
wanted to put in there.
K: People got very upset. It was all because of a joke?
K: That is so interesting.
L: When I left the University they still had not carried out
that design. I did a drawing showing how it would look and
it would have been real nice to do that.
K: Were there plans to build a building on that space of the
L: No, I do not think so.
K: No, not really.
L: There was a lot of protest when they put Library West there.
K: There were rumors that they wanted to get rid of the whole
Plaza and just build another building on there.
L: I do not remember that, but I do remember when they did the
plans for Library West there was a faction that fought that
K: Was that students that were against it?
L: Oh yes, students, professors, all of them.
K: One of the things that interests me is how so many students
hang out there and gather there. I think they leave a lot
of dirt behind, they leave a lot of trash. I wonder how the
people that do the maintenance on campus, how do they feel
about the students? People who work on campus have to clean
after the students, have to plant new trees if they cut them
down, all of that. Students seem to not appreciate it.
L: They resign to it. These people figure that it is their job
to clean up behind students and take care of them. If they
did not mess up they might not have work. They might not
have a job cleaning up behind them. Over the years they
formed the Credit Union on the campus. Arthur Reitz was one
of the main stays in doing that. That was great. I thought
it was great because one of the problems that I had as
superintendent of the grounds was that our employees would
come in and want a loan. I did not have the authority to
give them a loan from the University pay. They would want
me to loan some money myself. As soon as they got the
Credit Union going good I could tell them no, you go to the
Credit Union that is what it is for. It is to give you
loans. The Credit Union was on campus quite a few years,
then they decided to build off campus and they did. They
asked me to do a landscape plan for it, which I did. I
helped to maintain it for awhile. I even got one of the
regular grounds employees to do that in his spare time.
Then the Campus Federal Credit Union grew so they decided to
build another building, a bigger building which they did on
Thirty-Fourth Street. I did the landscape plan for that.
The fellow that was maintaining the original credit union, I
think he got sick and finally he died I think, anyway I took
over the maintenance of that ground in my spare time. Then
they built this other one about the time I retired so I
maintained that in my spare time and started it and I have
continued to do that and the Campus Credit Union keeps
it. As a matter of fact, you came just awhile
ago. What I am is doing is working on plans for another
building the Credit Union has acquired is the old IBM
building. We are doing the relandscaping of that now. I
have got to get bids on irrigation system for it and some
more planning. That has kept me pretty busy at least one
day a week since I retired.
K: When did you retire?
L: I retired June 1, 1988 and I was sixty-two June the 9th.
Just a week before I was sixty-two years old.
K: That was in 1988. You said the last seven years you worked
in a different position when they finally got the landscape?
L: Yes, they had a new director of the physical plant and he
decided to separate the architectural design and landscaping
design. Well, he had already separated architectural
design, or had formed a group, I guess a department, to do
architectural design and he decided to take that away from
the grounds department, the landscape design and put it into
that same group.
K: Do you think that was a good move?
L: No, I did not agree with it but I said if that is what you
are going to do I want to be the campus landscape architect.
I was ready to give up the headaches involved in personal
problems with trying to keep the grounds department going.
It had all kinds of problems. The federal government got
involved. The Federal Wage and Hour Law gave us a time that
people would punch in and you had to have fifteen minute
breaks in the morning and afternoon. The things that the
federal government asked, or demanded we do, did not really
work very well with getting the grounds work done. It
chopped a big chunk of our man hours out when they did that.
Then along came the labor unions, they got involved. Their
demands took another chunk out of our production, man hours
and a lot of time. It got where I thought we were less and
less productive. I did not like all of those headaches
trying to get the job done. When I came here hardly anybody
in the grounds department made more than a dollar an hour.
Most of them made about ninety cents and hour. When we
would give them raised it would be a nickel an hour. I
would mull over that. I would usually get the budget saying
how much money we had to give somebody a raise or the whole
group a raise and I would go home and stay up most of the
night trying to figure our who got a nickel an hour raise.
Back in 1956, now inflation is carried away. I guess it is
more in line now with what other agencies are paying for
that type of work. I hope it is.
K: That means that you were already responsible for financial
problems and financial managing.
L: Yes, I had a budget you had to live by.
K: So that was all in your hands. Wow!
L: Yes, it was a million dollar budget. It is interesting that
I heard that soon after I left that department they
increased it to three million dollars a year.
K: That would have made the job easier.
L: That would have made the job much easier if I had had that
kind of money and if the personnel department had increased
the hourly wage more in line of what other agencies were
paying. Which I think that they did.
K: I guess planning a campus is very different from planning
any other kind of garden so were there priorities that you
had to keep in mind as you try to make changes? Safety or a
lot of people will need the space or that it should be
social like the Plaza?
L: You always have to keep in mind the health, safety and
welfare of the students. As a matter of fact one of the
things I try to do is let the campus itself be a teaching
resources. They talked for years about having an arboretum
K: What is that?
L: That is where you have trees. A botanical garden. It
seemed to me the ideal place for it after they built the new
horticultural building in Fifield Hall was there behind
Fifield Hall but no horticultural was not willing to give up
the land that they were using for agronomic crops for an
arboretum. About the time I was trying to promote that an
arboretum on campus, Don Goodman began the
Botanical Gardens and that is probably the arboretum for
this area now. It is more of a county project. It is not
connected with the University. Anyway I said if we cannot
have a specific area for an arboretum we will just call the
whole campus an arboretum and we will try to plant as many
different species as we can throughout the campus wherever
they grow best, you know protect the specie. That is what
K: Really, I did not know that.
L: They tell me that that idea is kind of going by the wayside
now. They do not try to have that diversity. As a matter
of fact I made a list of the trees that we had on campus and
the trees that we ought to have on campus and then
distributed it to anybody that seemed to be interested in it
to try to get some help to do that. In the process we
introduced a lot of plants that are being used now and
people do not realize how they came about in this area. One
of the best examples is a Shoemard Oak, Quercus Shormardi.
When they built Newell Drive down the hillside to where the
Health Center was going to be, that was soon after I came
here I think back in 1956, or 1957, in the process of
building that road they but fill out on the shoulder of the
road and there was a large tree that it filled around and
the fill caused it to die. It was a pretty tree and I had
never had it identified before so I took specimens to the
arboretum to Dr. Erdman West and asked him to identify it.
What is this tree? He said that is Shoemard Oak. I said,
well why is there not more around? He said, well evidently
they grew tall and straight and made good lumber, firewood
or something. Anyway they were all cut. He even told me
that the tree likes a situation where there is calcarious
soil, that is a lot of lime in the soil. Oh, boy that might
solve a problem if we had some of these. As they built
parking lots and roadways back then they had a lime rock
base and allowed a lot of lime rock to spill out into the
shoulders. It caused conditions that a lot of plants just
would not grow in. I was looking for something as an
alternate to Oaks and Water Oaks which had been
planted a lot in that situation and had a very short life
span and very brittle. This Shoemard Oak was a deciduous
tree too. I thought that [it] would be nice to have a tree
that would allow in sunlight in the wintertime. I had a
student working with me at the time and I talked to him
about that. I said, boy it sure would be nice if we could
find some Shoemard Oak somewhere. This fellow liked to go
out scouting on weekends and he was pretty well off. He was
one of the few people back then that had an automobile. One
weekend he was up at Itchentuckny Springs and up there he
found what he thought was little saplings of Shoemard Oak.
He brought them back and we had it identified and yes, that
is what they were. We found out who owned that property at
the time and got permission to go up there and collect these
little sapling trees which were kind of ragged. They were
growing in among other young trees and we brought them back
and planted them in the parking lot at Perry Field where the
track is over there. We planted a few behind Jennings Hall.
That was close to where the original one was that died.
They grew. They grew fine. After they got bigger their
leaves would color up in the fall of the year people wanted
to know what is that tree with the pretty leaves. The
students that were studying horticulture so they began to
collect some of those students had graduated and gone into
the nursery business and they came back to the campus and
collected acorns of the Shoemard Oaks and started planting
them in their nurseries. Then people would visit the campus
and see them. I got requests from nurserymen around the
state, especially up around Tallahassee area to collect
acorns and send them. Which I did. I would go over the
Jennings Hall and those trees and the ones in Perry Field
along with nurserymen and get bushels of acorns and send to
these nurseries. They would pay me a little bit for them.
That way we got Shoemard Oaks reestablished in this part,
they are everywhere now. There are Oaks that are all along
Archer Road there by Shands and that is what they are.
Another plant that has become real popular and we had it on
campus for years and people did not seem to catch on to it
until just a few years ago was Asian Jasmine. We were on a
list Nurseries in and we were on a
plant introduction list in Beltsville, Maryland was the
plant introduction station where they bring in new plants
and distribute them from there. It was a professor in
agriculture that was supposed to supervise that because this
is part of the anyway. He got me on the list to
try out new things. One of the things that we tried out was
Asian Jasmine. We planted it in the planter at the physics
building and it did fine, but no body noticed it. No body
seemed to be interested in it. They thought it was
something else. I think they thought it was Asian Jasmine
extracts from Asianticanm and the Confederate Jasmine
Jasmine They thought it was a
regular Confederate Jasmine. Then years later when the
Museum was built we planted it on the embankments of the
inside of the Museum. On the front of the Museum on those
embankments. I was glad to do that because grass was too
hard to maintain. It really caught on in this area then.
They have been planting it everywhere.
K: You say people did not notice. Did you usually get
reactions from people when they saw new plants?
L: Well, I could tell that people notice if they asked me what
that was and if they could have some of it to plant. If
they could get a cutting from that.
K: Did that happen regularly?
L: Yes, it happened a lot. Some people abused that privilege
of getting cuttings from the campus so eventually we had to
stop letting them do that. There was one fellow in
particular, a nurseryman from South Florida, that had a
contract to plant a lot of Jasmine Primrose
Jasmines on the embankments of the interstate interchanges.
Without permission he came and he just mutilated the
Primrose Jasmine we had on campus to get cuttings to
propagate for the Road Department. That is when we had to
tell the police if they saw anybody doing it to stop them.
Another plant that I for year I have been getting seeds from
the American Horticultural Society and at one time I got
some which is a Chinese Fringe Tree. There
is one growing right down there it is just finishing
blooming. If you go over to the Credit Union, do you know
where the campus Credit Union is? Your Campus Federal
Credit Union is?
L: It is the corner of South West Thirty-Fourth Street and
Twentieth Avenue. Well along the north of that property
there is a whole row of Chinese Fringe trees. They are
blooming now, just finishing blooming, it still has some
flowers. I grew those in my yard, got them started. [I] did
not know what to do with them, so I after I got them started
I took them to Nursery and gave them to Monroe
and I said grow these on in pots for awhile.
Later we planted them at the Reitz Union down by the pond.
K: That is a very pretty pond down there. When my parents
visited campus that is the spot they liked the best down
there by the Reitz Union.
L: They grew there and as they matured and started blooming a
lot I told Nurseman about it. I said, this is a plant you
ought to grow, but they did not seem to be interested until
they saw them blooming there. Then they got real interested
and they collected the seed and cut the cuttings. They grow
easily from seeds or cuttings. Now that plant has caught on
when it was very popular around here. Where did you learn
to speak English so well?
K: We have English in school from age eight on.
L: You do not have much accent at all.
K: I have been here for a year.
L: Have you? You learned to speak like Florida crackers,
K: I try to.
L: You do very well.
K: You mentioned students of landscape architecture were they
in touch with your division? Were they interested in what
is going on campus? Did they learn on campus?
L: I hope so, yes.
K: Was there an exchange between you?
L: Oh, yes, I was in pretty close touch with the professors in
K: Did you ever think about teaching?
L: No, no I would not be interested in teaching it at all. No
more than the little bit that I was involved in. I was more
involved with the garden clubs here in Gainesville. As a
matter of fact, I am an honorary member of the Gainesville
Garden Club. We had short courses that I would participate
in the Garden Club and women.
K: That is one question I wanted to ask you. Do you have a,
how do you call it a CV? Like where you hold life and all
of your honors and everything ? I do not know the
English word for it.
K: Do you have something like that?
L: Yes a resume.
K: Resume, exactly. That I could maybe have a copy of?
L: I think I may have one in my file. See down there? See
those white things leaning against the tree?
L: Do you know what they are?
K: Bicycle racks?
L: Yes, well that is my invention.
L: Yes, that was interesting the way that happened, this is
many years ago about twenty years ago. Two of the campus
policemen came to see me and said we have a problem. I
said, what is it. They said that people are stealing
bicycles and the students do not have a good way to lock the
bicycles. They said, come with me and they wanted to take
me over to Anderson Hall and show me what they were talking
about. We got over there and every sign post and trees in
that area had a bicycle locked to it. They said what we
need is a post with a top that they can put their chain
around or lock around and they cannot lift it over the top
and steal a bike. Back then bicycle theft was a real
problem. They said,can you come up with an idea to keep
them from stealing it. I got to thinking about it and did
some drawings of how we might do a post that has a loop or a
top in it so they could lock it, especially with the
horseshoe locks you know. Lock it to the post and then they
could not slip it over the top. I came up first with a very
complicated idea, we were going to put a little roof over
the whole thing, the whole nine yards. Then I developed all
kinds of configurations of bicycle, basically the inverted U
but they were different. You probably have seen them, what
we call an H-configuration and a Anyway I
tried to sell this idea to the Director of the Physical
Plant. Well he was not interested in it at first. I was
doing a little landscape job on the side for a lady that
owned Joe's Deli. Do you know where that is?
L: I think the city wanted her to put in some bicycle racks.
So I designed a bicycle rack for here parking lot there. It
is gone now.
K: Like those?
L: No, it was not quite like those. You had a cross-pipe that
connected them. The cars kept hitting it though, trying to
get in that little parking lot, so later they took it out.
Then the people over in the College of Law saw that and they
wanted something like that there. Through the campus I got
a chance to put some over there. About that time the City
of Gainesville hired a bicycle coordinator, a lady named
Mary Anne Knuth. She had seen what I had done. She was a
student I think at the time. She came to me and said she
had been hired by the City and she wanted some for the City.
So I began to make some myself for the City. Actually for
awhile I installed them all around.
K: You were making them yourself?
L: Yes. I do not know if you have ever been to the Gainesville
Shopping Center up on North Main Street but I made and
installed those up there. They were the multiple-T type.
If you look down at the top of it there is a whole series
like this and the bicycles go in there.
K: Yes, I have locked my bike in there.
L: They have a cross bar across the back. One reason I did
that, that made it a little more stable because this type
you had to really anchor it good, but that you did not have
to anchor it that well. After I left the University there
was a superintendent of grounds he had tried to come up with
a design of his own. He did and he spent a lot of money
developing one that really did not work. On University
projects there were contractors and the contractors got me
to make the bicycle racks that they were supposed to install
at the new buildings. I made quite a few and sold to those
contractors and they in turn installed some at the Reitz
Union and some of them were out by the Plaza of Americas.
Then the University put out for bids. I had done the
drawings and I had left them over there in the files at the
Physical Plant for these bicycle racks. They put out bids
for bicycle racks they did not notify me and they started.
So they distributed drawings around to people to bid on and
some other people started making them and selling them to
the University. I did not even get a chance to sell any to
the University. Later I protested that. I told them it is
my idea, and you should have let me bid on it. But through
contractors I have been able to sell quite a few over there
and I have sold them all over, a lot of them in the City of
Gainesville. Some of them went to Texas A & M, University
of Alabama, University of Mississippi, and some of them up
at Ohio at the University. I sold them to the Florida Parks
Department, all around the state. I sold a lot the them
over the years.
K: Before that there were no bicycle racks in the City?
L: Well they used the old style of it. We had problems with
that too. We had gotten an idea about some concrete blocks
that they make slots and I do not know whether there was any
left on the campus or not, because you wheel up into the
K: Yes, yes.
L: Well, these bicycles that had the real narrow wheels if
somebody would push just gently sideways on that bicycle in
that slot then it would bend the wheel. So yes, we had
problems with that. The old style of bicycle rack went out
of style because of those thin wheel bicycles. It was so
easy to bend the wheel. Let me see if I can find a resume.
In the mean time you can look at those books if you want
K: Oh, okay thank-you.
L: Yes, I found something.
K: Oh, thank-you.
L: I have got it on my computer so I can run some more copies.
K: I see there is a whole bunch of newspaper articles have you
interviewed about your work?
L: Yes, over the years. One paper that I especially liked and
it was many years ago. It was the Alligator, Professor Hugh
Cunningham took his class and gave them a project and they
called it Campus Beautiful. That was real nice because the
Alligator back then and I guess still does seemed to thrive
on sensationalism and they never mentioned anything very
positive. But that was different than most of the [articles
the Alligator wrote.] It was kind of nice.
see he is retired now too.
K: What is his name?
L: Professor Hugh Cunningham, he was a professor of Journalism.
He remembers that too. He thought it turned out real good.
It was different from what the Alligator had been printing,
K: That was real interesting. It seems like so many changes on
campus started right there in your head with new ideas and
stuff. That is really great.
L: Well people will come visit a campus. I remember the
landscape architect for Disney World came and visited with
me. I think he offered me a job as a matter of fact. I was
tempted. I went down there and they rolled out the royal
carpet for me and showed me around and tried to sell me on
going to work for them. Maybe I should have.
K: That is one question I wanted to ask you. Did you ever
think about leaving the UF?
L: Well I did for awhile but when I did I went to the wrong
outfit and it went bankrupt and had to come back. I left
for a year, no it was not a year, just a few months to go up
to the Island Plantation. They went bankrupt and
so I saw the handwriting on the wall and I left and came
back and got my old job back here at the University. Then I
had another offer at that same time to go to Sea Islands,
Georgia to take charge of the grounds there. When I turned
that down my counterpart at the University of Georgia, he
got that job and he has been there ever since. That would
have been a nice one too. They did not go bankrupt, they
strived in Sea Islands, Georgia. But for me I do not know,
I got good connections and I continued to go up there and
work in my spare time as a consultant. Have you ever been
L: Well Island is in Florida, but it is at the very
northeast corner of Florida above Jacksonville and the south
end of the island was bought by a development company and it
developed it. It is real nice. As a matter of fact, the
Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape
Architecture is going to have their meeting there I think in
June or July.
K: Are you going?
L: I do not know. They called me and wanted to know if I would
conduct a tour, but in the past year I have only been there
one time I think. Last time I was there was along about
last fall, so I do not go up there very much anymore. It is
a long way up there. It is about two hundred miles. They
did not ask for me very much anymore and I was not
particularly interested in going that far.
K: Did you like living in Gainesville?
L: Oh, yes.
K: Moving somewhere else would mean that your whole family
would have to move.
L: Yes, see we have only lived here at this house for not quite
four years yet. All of the time that I worked at the
University I lived up close to the campus right over there
on Tenth Street, right in the sorority area. Do you know
where the sorority houses are?
K: Yes, I think so.
L: Right across the street from Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority
house. As a matter of fact, when we built that house we
lived in there, that whole block there where Kappa Alpha
Theta is was vacant. So it shows how that has grown too. I
think Gainesville when it was voted number one city in the
country, think that is it. That is about right. I think it
is because look around. We go to Jacksonville and we have
to go fairly often to check on my mother up there, she lives
up there by herself, I surely would not want to live in
Jacksonville. It is kind of dirty compared to Gainesville.
K: You sure have a beautiful spot here. The lake outside.
L: There are several reasons why we chose this place. I wanted
to move away from the sorority area because it is so noisy
over there you know.
K: I bet.
L: Another thing that my wife liked it because it is well lit.
The lights galore at night the whole place is lit up like
daylight to protect the sorority girls. All of that
commotion, after I did not have any connection with the
University anymore I thought well we need to get away from
that. Anyway, my daughter lives right next door here. Our
grandson was born about the same time we bought this place.
In the place that we built there on Tenth Street, we built
a duplex and we lived there for a while. Then we built a
house next door to that. My wife had found out living in a
duplex that had concrete slab on the ground, like most
houses do now a days in this part of the world, then the
house we built had wooden floors upstairs.
Her legs hurt her as long as she had to walk on the concrete
floor. When we moved to the other house, we had wooden
floors and it was obvious that this house had to have wooden
floors. It is high up off the ground. We found out the
lady lived here by herself and wanted to sell it and move
away. We bought it and paid too much for it I guess but
considered I can see my grandson everyday I do not think
that is too bad and close to my daughter. Our son lives
about as far away as you can get. He lives in California
now. He is an exercise buff. You know Arnold
K: He is from Austria.
L: That is one of my son's ideas. He knows him personally
K: How old are your children?
L: Let us see, I have to think about that now. My son was born
in 1960 that makes him about thirty-six, he will be thirty-
six years old this year and our daughter is two years older.
She is thirty-eight, or she will be thirty-eight in May.
K: So your children went to UF too?
L: No, it is interesting that we live real close to P.K. Yong
Laboratory School and we were lucky enough to get them into
that school. They could walk over there easily. It was
only a few blocks away. When my wife and I were growing up
we were going to school during the war and they were
rationing everything, gasoline and everything. We had a
long way to go to get to school and a hard time getting
there. We were determined that our kids were going to have
it easier. That is why we stayed right there where we were
so they could go to P.K. Yong. My daughter went to P.K.
Yong then she went on the Santa Fe Community College. She
liked Santa Fe a lot. She stayed there as long as she could
then she went to the University and got a degree in
psychology. Now she has a pretty good job doing that. Our
son wanted to go out of state so he went up to Mercer at
Macon, Georgia. He had already gotten interested in
exercise because he had a part time job with Gainesville
Health and Fitness. As a matter of fact he would go over
there at night and clean up. Then he someway got him
permission to go use the weight room there on campus. So he
got to know those guys that lifted weights. He went up to
Mercer and he asked them about it, do you not have an
exercise room? No. So he proceeded to set up one for them.
He spent more time doing that then he did studying, so he
flunked out there. He went on the work and I forgot what
kind of job he had, a sales job of some kind. He kind of
liked sales I guess but he realized he needed to get a
degree. He came back to live with Marian's dad in
Jacksonville and he went to Jonah's College there in
Jacksonville and got a degree in business marketing. Then
he went and worked for Nautilus Exercise Equipment. Later
he worked for Arthur Jones who is the inventor of Nautilus
but had sold it to somebody else. I do not know, all of a
sudden he decided that he did not like working for Arthur
Jones. The nice thing about that was it was down in Ocala,
so he was close to home. He went to work for some outfit
out in California and that did not pan out after a year or
so, so he went to work for Cybex in New York which is
supposed to be the biggest exercise equipment and medical
equipment in the company now. He worked right there in New
York City a lot around Manhattan for about four or five
years and made a lot of money, boy and spent a lot of money
too. Like big corporations do, they divided his territory
and he did not like what they had done so they said we will
let you have Northern California. Well he had been there
before and he knew that the weather was better out there
than it was in New York so that is what he did. He has gone
to California now. He lives in Walnut Creek near San
Francisco. He has never gotten married. He has had
girlfriends galore, but he has never got married.
K: Thank you for telling me. Shall we look at some of these.
I am very curious about the newspaper articles.
L: Go ahead, help yourself. Here is that.
K: Ah, the Alligator.
L: This was the one that Hugh Cunningham was in charge of that
[Looking at newspaper articles]
L: See here was the graduation June 1950. There
is my name right at the bottom of the page.
K: Oh, yes. With high honors.
L: In landscape architecture. Then the year later I graduated
with honors in agriculture. I look at that and see who my
old classmates were. It was interesting that we had in the
landscape class was so small back then that our professor
also taught interior design. There were only as I remember
two girls in that class and they graduated I think the same
time I did. They were both veterans. They had both went in
the military. One of the things that they did was when they
graduated, each one of them gave me one of these little
things, see a little memento.
L: It might be made in Austria too because I have seen other
things like that at over there.
K: We still have them.
L: Do you?
K: Do you still have those?
L: Yes, I still have them yes. Look through these. We took a
tour of Europe about two or three years ago and we went into
the edge of the Black Forest.
K: That is beautiful. I have been there once.
L: That is about as close to Austria as I guess we will ever
get. We bought a coo-coo clock there, made there.
K: Tell me, if you had an idea of something that you wanted to
do on campus did you have to ask somebody or was it up to
you to make.
L: That is what was interesting. When I first went there they
kind of had free run. I could do what I wanted to pretty
much. That is what made the job so interesting in the
beginning. Later as it grew they brought in people over me.
These people were supposed to be my boss, but they did not
know beans about what I was doing. All they did was
interfere in what we were trying to get done.
K: That must be so aggravating.
L: It was. The bosses that I have had, see I could not go
directly to him anymore I had to go through these others and
he could not understand what the problem. I do not know
whether he ever did or not, but it got frustrating to have
to go through these people. These people actually kind of
harassed me more than they did any good. I was not able to
accomplish the things that I had been doing. That was
another reason I was kind of anxious to give up
superintendent of grounds job and be the campus landscape
architect. I did not have to worry with the people and I
could do the designs and they could take them and use them
if they wanted to. That was up to them.
K: There are so many articles with your picture and your name
and they quote you.
L: Yes, my wife has done a good job of that. Every time they
print my name anywhere she would grab it and cut it out.
K: I am wondering if there is anything more that I could ask
about the Plaza. I have only been on campus for a year so
older students usually know stories about Halloween parties,
but for me the Plaza has always been like I have seen it.
You probably know more how it has changed, you know?
L: Well, one change that has happened that I do not like, I
mean nobody I guess likes it, is there were big pines. I
guess there are a few of them left. Those long leaf pine.
They are called Virgin Long Leaf Pine because they were
original ones here. Nobody knows exactly how old they are.
Pretty sure they are a 100 years old or more. Over the
years they have died. Usually from being struck by
lightning because they are the tallest element around there.
They sort of stand by themselves out there in the Plaza of
the Americas. I remember one day we had a storm and
lightning struck two of them. There were two pines fairly
close together about five, six feet apart and the lightning
ricochet off one to the other as it came to the ground. It
killed both of them. We tried to save them. We sprayed
them with insecticide to try to keep the insects
out of them, but they were gone.
K: Oh, no. Did they set on fire or no?
L: Well there was one time that one exploded just after being
hit by lightning. There was some pavement around it and it
just blew the pavement all up too. That is kind of scary.
K: That was on the Plaza, so those trees are gone from there
L: Well I think there may be a few, but not very many, not like
there was when I came here to the University. There is one
there, I hope it is still there, between Flint Hall and the
Chemistry Building that we had a dedication ceremony as the
bicentennial tree when the country was 200 years old. That
was 1976. We decide to dedicate that tree as the
K: Where is that again?
L: It is just south of Flint Hall. Between Flint Hall and the
Chemistry Building. We had a tree outfit but a lightning
arrestor in that. There are several trees on campus that
have lightning arrestor in them.
L: Yes. We put a rod of copper wire all the way to the top.
K: So it does not go in the tree.
L: So it goes down the wire instead of in the tree, yes.
K: That is the way to prevent this. I live in the Duckpond
L: You live there now?
K: Yes, that is a very nice area.
L: Yes, is it not. I am on the Gainesville Tree Advisory Board
and the people in the Duckpond area have been very
interested in what we do on the Tree Advisory Board. The
City of Gainesville is having problems with the street trees
over in that neighborhood. The trees are getting old and
declining and the people hate to see them come out and
anytime one is taken out they protest it. We have to go and
try to calm them down and tell them what we really need to
be doing over there is planting some new trees to take the
place of these trees that are beginning to die out. I think
they are going along with that alright. You may have
noticed though that there is a big pine tree that I think
was struck by lightning, died anyway and instead of taking
it all the way out they just took the top out and left the
main trunk. Do you know that one?
L: It is right on that park, right about the middle of the
Duckpond Park area.
K: People are very protective of their trees, that is right.
L: How did you happen to live over there? That is a little bit
unusual for a student to live in there.
K: To Duckpond?
K: Because when I moved here my friends lived there in a house
and then right down the street I rented a house too. I bike
to school it really is not that far. It is beautiful to
live there. It is quiet, I like that.
L: Here was something that was probably since I retired. Let
me see, no. Yes, this is since I retired. That was in the
K: Ah, that is one of the oaks.
L: Yes, that is a Shoemard Oak. Now I was telling them the
same story I told you. Oh, do you know about the moon tree
on campus? Here is an article about that.
L: Well they took some tree seed all the way to the moon and
back and the distributed the seed around. They gave some to
the Forrest Department here at the University of Florida and
some other university, I think the University of Mississippi
State. The forestry people planted them and they grew and
after awhile they gave us a couple of pine trees and a
sycamore that they had grown from those seeds. We planted
them near the forestry building. The forestry building was
new then. The pine trees were immediately girdled by some
of our grounds maintenance people with weed-eaters, you know
those string trimmers, but the sycamore survived. It is
right there at the corner of Museum Road and McCarty Drive
at the northeast corner of that intersection. This was
taken several years ago. We kept it a secret that that is
what it was. We did not tell anybody. Finally, the word
got out to one of the professors who claimed to be a big
proponent of trees and out that that was the moon
tree. But by then it was big enough that nobody could pull
it up. That is what we were afraid of, that somebody would
pull it out of the ground.
K: Was that a big problem, people just stealing plants?
L: Yes, there was quite a problem when I was there with people
stealing plants. I will never forget we had planted the
courtyard of the Music Building and the police told me about
this. They saw some ladies walking down Stadium Road, going
off campus and one of the ladies had both hands full of
plants. So they stopped them and asked them where they got
that and they told them they got them out of the courtyard
of the Music building. They took them and called us and
told them that they had some plants that had been pulled up
and we went and looked and sure enough. I could never
understand why they would take those particular plants.
They were thorny. I do not know how they could hold on to
them. We used to have problems to, we would plant trees
like we planted pine trees. The pine trees would get up
about fifteen, twenty feet high but they would still be
fairly small caliber. Younger kids would come on campus and
climb those pine trees and ride them down. The pine trees
stayed bent over that way. It would ruin the tree.
K: So many problems you had to deal with.
L: Here was an article it was published in a magazine. I do
not see a date on here but it was a few years ago. This was
one of the things I believed in doing that my successors did
not and that was to kill the weeds around trees with
chemical round-up so there would not be any point in anybody
using the string trimmers to try to trim around the trees to
trim the grass. The guy that took my place he did not
believe in chemical edging so he used weedeaters and boy his
people girdled. They killed trees as fast as they could
plant them. I never could understand that, how you could
get by on so many trees.
K: The chemical edging does not harm the tree?
L: No, the ground up or glasacate I used to tell people that
was a God-send. That was just what we needed to help us in
grounds maintenance because we did not have enough man power
to maintain it like we wanted to. It kills only what you
get the chemical on a green leaf. If the stem of the tree
is still green, you do not want to get it on the trunk, but
if it is old enough that the bark has turned brown you can
get it on the trunk of the tree and it would not hurt it.
Of course, you do not want to have to do that too often, but
once a year is probably enough anyway to keep the grass and
the weeds away.
K: That is funny because you do not even fight the weed, you
fight the people who cut the weed.
L: That is your own people that .That used to
happen so much, that was so frustrating. We would plant
native plants on campus to try to establish some native
plants. Because they were native these people that we had
to hire to do the work thought they were weeds and they
would get rid of them as they went through the campus
maintaining the grounds. I would go plant the plants and go
put a stake by them to mark them and take the fellow that
was in charge and show him we planted these would you please
do not. He would forget to tell his people and the people
he supervised would go through and cut them off or pull them
K: That is frustrating.
L: But we kept trying. Well when I round up my pictures, my
colored slides mostly, should I get in touch with Dr.
K: Yes, that would be the best.
L: I do not know him but he and Ralph Lowenstein I think are
good friends. Do you know Lowenstein in Journalism?
L: He was director of the College of Journalism.
K: Would you like me to write down his phone number for you?
L: That is alright, I will look it up. I will need a little
time to go through them and figure. Some of those slides
that I have I used to be called on fairly often to give a
talk about the growth of the campus landscape.
K: Talk to who?
L: To groups like students in landscape architecture and garden
club groups. I think I still got some of those in the order
that I showed them way back then.
K: Okay, we are done. One last thing, this is a release form.
What is going to happen is the History Department will type
up the interview and they will send you a copy. This is
that you agreed that the text will be in the Archives after
you have checked it.
L: After I have checked it.
L: Okay, that is a good point. When will you get your degree?
K: Probably in two years.
L: What will it be in?
K: Linguistics, Languages.
L: Oh, good, good. You will be good for that. How many
languages can you speak?
L: My goodness.
K: Thank-you so much.
L: I know you speak English real good but..
K: German, Spanish, and I learned French. I have been studying
[END OF TAPE A]