Interviewee: Charles Savage
Interviewer: Sid Johnson
Date: September 17, 1984
J: How are you this morning, Mr. Savage?
S: Real fine, thank you.
J: Where were you born?
S: In Ocala, Florida.
J: And what day?
S: October 3, 1898.
J: And you have got a birthday coming up very soon.
S: Yes sir.
J: You are eighty-six. Do you have any plans for that?
S: Yes, I have a cousin whose birthday is on the fourth of October, and we usually
have a birthday party together. This year we are going to have itat his home
which is in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.
J: Well, congratulations on that and I hope you have a fine time.
S: Thank you.
J: Who were your parents?
S: My father was Charles A. Savage. I used to use junior quite a bit, but I have a
son now and he is usually the third and junior sometimes. So I just put my
Charles A. Savage or Charles A. Savage, Sr. My mother was Elizabeth Victoria
J: Where was your Mama from?
S: Well, both of my parents were from South Carolina.
J: Do you know when they moved to Ocala, or to Florida?
S: Yes, she was a little girl and he was a little boy when they moved here. Their
parents moved here, and lived about six miles east of the center of Ocala, at a
place which was called Capulet at that time. They used to have a town out there
named Montague which was near Capulet. I guess the names came from
Shakespeare's books. Now they are part of Ocala. So that is where I was born
and we call it Ocala now.
J: When did your grandparents move here?
S: My great-grandparents, of which we have complete records, went from Alabama
to South Carolina, and then back to Alabama again. My mother's side came
from South Carolina, and on my father's side they came from Alabama.
J: Would they have moved here about 1870?
S: I would guess maybe 1875. They came down here and each had a big orange
grove and the orange groves were killed in the big freeze of 1894-1895.
J: Did they recover from that big freeze and re-establish the orange groves?
J: What did your father do for work besides manage the orange grove?
S: Well, my father did not own any orange groves. My grandparents owned the
J: What did your father do for a living?
S: My father owned and operated a small sawmill.
J: Where did he operate that?
S: Camden, Florida.
J: What did your mama do?
S: She never worked. She was a housekeeper.
J: Did she raise a big family?
S: She had five children in our family.
J: How old are your brothers and sisters?
S: Well, ranging anywhere from ten to fifteen years younger than I am. I have one
brother who died in early youth. He was about thirteen years old.
J: Did your grandparents remain here during the rest of their lives?
S: Yes, they all remained here and lived here the rest of their lives.
J: Where did you go to school from elementary school through high school?
S: I went to Candler School through the eighth grade. That is as high as it went.
Then I graduated from Ocala High School in 1917.
J: I see your diploma up there. Is that your original diploma?
S: Well, I have the original. That is one that is put in plastic.
J: That is quite a diploma.
S: You mean the size of it?
S: All the diplomas you get now seem to have shrunk and become little things. I
kid my young law partners about that. I tell them they do not have as big a
diploma as I have.
J: Now where was Ocala High School located at that time?
S: Well, I am afraid I cannot give you the number of the street, but it was in
Southwest Ocala. There was just one building. It accommodated all the grades
from the second to the twelfth.
J: Were there any outstanding teachers that you recall from your high school days?
S: Well, I remember that one of my principals was Mr. Workman. He kept good
J: Where is Candler?
S: Candler is twelve miles southeast of Ocala.
J: What was the school building like?
S: One building with three rooms.
J: Would ya'll have to cut the firewood and bring it inside?
S: Yes, it was heated with firewood and a stove.
J: How did you get to and from school in those days?
S: Some days my father would take me in, but we lived three miles from Candler
and my brother and I usually walked to school--three miles there and three miles
J: Did your papa run the sawmill for the rest of his life?
S: Yes. Until he got too old and retired. He died at an early age.
J: Would you say that he had a successful business?
J: What were some of your hobbies when you were in high school?
S: Well, I played baseball and football and had the honor of playing on the only
Ocala High School football team that never won a game.
J: Now, quite an honor, huh?
J: Where would you play football?
S: Well, we played near the school. Near where the eighth grade school is now
located. We had a field that we played on.
J: Was there a stadium or a set of bleachers where spectators could watch?
S: No. There were not any bleachers at all at any of the places that I ever played.
The public stood around the field and watched it.
J: Was this good hunting and fishing territory?
S: Oh, it was wonderful, yes, and still is with Ocala National Forest.
J: Did you have much time during your high school years to do any hunting and
S: Yes, I have always loved to fish. That is one of my best hobbies besides
athletics. I never did like to hunt very much, but I liked to be out in the woods
and just to hunt some.
J: Where were your favorite spots?
S: My favorite spots to hunt were near Candler, near where I lived in the country.
Then in my later years, I used to hunt ducks down on the Gulf of Mexico. I
would go out from a boat into the Gulf and shoot ducks.
J: Would you go to Orange Lake to do some fishing?
S: Oh, yes. I fished in Orange Lake quite a lot.
J: Pretty good fishing there?
S: It was excellent fishing. Of course we had many other places--one of my
favorites is the Oklawaha River and the many lakes in the forest. I now own a
place in the forest on a lake and I go over there and go fishing quite a lot now.
J: Now those places aren't close by, and back in the late 1910's you had to...
S: No. In those days I did not fish in any of those places. I fished in Smith Lake
and Bowers Lake, which were near Candler; and a few smaller lakes called
ponds in those days. There are not ponds in Florida now, they are all lakes.
J: Did you use a bicycle?
S: Since we had no hard surface raods then, we walked. Most of them were within
three miles of where I lived.
J: Well, you graduated in 1917, and what kind of job or occupation had you been
thinking about pursuing?
S: Well, since I was a little boy, my grandmother on my father's side had always told
me I was going to be a lawyer. So I think she had a great influence over me.
But when I got of high school, I needed something to make some money, and
money enough to go to college. So, I joined the army in World War I, but the
war was over before I knew it. I was only in the service 89 days. I was sent to
the University of Florida in a group that would become officers. We were to
spend three months in Gainesville, then go to Plattsburg, New York for three
more months and then come out as second lieutenants. We were told about the
spring drive against the Germans and that we had be in that. I almost felt in
those days like I had been in the war, but I never fired a shot.
J: Why would they want to send you to New York?
S: That is the place all the new officers graduated. Plattsburg, New York.
J: So you were drafted?
S: No, I volunteered. This was a volunteer outfit.
J: How soon after you graduated from high school did you volunteer?
S: About one year.
J: How much money did you expect to make through your volunteer service?
S: Well, the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. I returned to Ocala and
was able to take the civil service exam and got a job in the post office.
J: What were your duties at the post office?
S: I was a letter carrier. I worked there for approximately one year and saved my
money. Those jobs paid excellent in those days. Then I went to the University
of Florida. Now, during my days in the army I had taken one semester of
engineering. They advised us to take engineering. They let you take anything
you wanted. But when I returned to school, I went back to what I had always
intended to be--a lawyer.
J: What was your ROTC training for those eighty-nine days?
S: Well, it was not ROTC. It was called SATC then. ROTC is what they have in
the colleges now, and they had it then. It was special. It was called the Student
Army Training Corps. When I went back to law school--oh, I desired a
commission so much in the service that I just could not let my training in World
War I disappear. So believe it or not, I took ROTC and law. I did not have to in
those days, they did not require it. They gave me one year of credit for my
service in World War I under a special ruling of the war department, and I only
had to go senior ROTC. So I got a reserve commission which I kept for sixteen
J: You were with the post office for one year?
S: About one year. I made enough money in the post office in a year and saved it
to go to school.
J: So you were with the post office until about 1919?
S: Yes, something like that.
J: Then you went to the University of Florida.
S: The last three years or so. I do not know how that exactly works out or what the
months were, but I worked in the post office approximately one year and then
went to college for three years.
J: What was your first impression of Gainesville when you arrived?
S: Do you mean Gainesville, or the University of Florida?
S: Well, I liked Gainesville. I thought it was about like Ocala. They are about the
same size. I liked the University very much and I think when I was in college,
those were certainly some of my happiest years.
J: Were any of the roads paved?
S: Between the University and what we call "uptown" Gainesville was almost a
wilderness. The town started about where the railroad is going east on
J: How did you travel between Ocala and Gainesville? Did you ride a trainer drive
S: Oh, no. Nobody had cars in those days. I went up on a train.
J: The train let you off near Main Street and University Avenue? Did you walk to
S: Yes, I just walked there.
J: Were there taxis?
S: No, I do not remember going in a taxi. I do not think I did. I know I roomed in a
house that was almost where the Seagle Building is located on University
J: Did you live in that building for your entire law school experience?
S: No. I stayed there only my first year in college. Then I moved out into the
dormitory, and lived part-time in each one. Then in my last year in college, I
moved out and roomed on the farm, as we called it. That is where the
experiment station was located. I lived with the operator of that experiment
J: Would you have to put in so many hours a week to live out at the experiment
S: No, I did not have to, I do not think. But I did work out there on the farm. I did
not have enough money to pay my way through. I also waited on tables.
J: Where did you wait on tables?
S: Well, at that time, directly south of and almost on a straight line between the two
dormitories we had what we called a mess hall. That is where nearly everybody
ate. The only exception to that was a restaurant on the north side of University
Avenue, across from the University. There was a restaurant there.
J: Was that called the Old College Inn?
J: Now the two dormitories you spoke about, were those Buckman Hall and...
S: Thomas. Thomas and Buckman halls.
J: When you registered for law school before going to the University I take it, you
filled out an application in Ocala and sent it up to them and they said yes, we
S: Frankly, I do not remember. I suppose I did. It was no trouble to get in law
school in those days.
J: Did you appear at the law school and sign up for your courses right there?
S: It seems to me that we did not. We went to the business office first where they
admitted all students and had an interview, and then went into it. Now, they
were seeking students in those days. You had no trouble in getting in and all
you meeded as a qualification was a high school diploma.
J: And, of course, you had yours.
J: Was there anything like a GI Bill as they had after World War II for veterans?
S: There was but you had to be in the service nintey days, and I was only in
J: But the eighty-nine days exempted you from that first year of law school.
S: Exempted from the first year of ROTC.
J: So, you still had to take all three years of law school.
S: I took three years of ROTC instead of four, and they gave me credit for the year I
was in the service. One year for eighty-nine days that I was in the service.
J: Did you have a three-year program in law school?
S: What do you mean by that?
J: Were there three years of course work that you had to take?
S: Yes. I had to take the same subjects and pass them as every other student in
the law school. But they let me take quite a few without going to classes--those
that I needed to make up that extra semester. I actually finished law school in
J: Who was the first teacher you remember when you think about the law school?
S: Well, I guess Dr. Crandall [Clifford W. Crandall, professor (1914-1949)] would be
the best one we had. Dean Trusler [Harry R. Trusler, professor (1909-1947),
dean (1915-1947)] was the dean of the law school. He used to ride a bicycle out
there all the time and he put these little loops around his legs to hold his pant
legs. We always used to wonder why he did not walk out there.
J: Where did he live?
S: I do not know.
J: I have a list of the courses for 1921 that you probably took when you were there.
Do any of those look familiar, or spark your memory as to any interesting events
in those classes?
S: Well, now I am looking at the first year and the first semester. It says Torts and
Contracts, taught by Professor Trusler, who was Dean Trusler. That is correct.
There is Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. It seems to me like we only had
that as one subject.
J: Now that is 1921, so that is the year you graduated.
S: Well, this says first year, first semester.
J: That is for people coming in in 1921.
J: So they may have changed some of those first-year courses.
S: Yes, they might have changed. Those two I think were combined and Professor
Cockrell [Robert S. Cockrell, professor (1919-1941)] taught us. He had been a
former member of the Supreme Court of Florida.
J: What was he like in class?
S: Well, he was an excellent teacher in a way, and in a way, he was not. He had
favorites who he played to all the time. There were one or two boys he did not
like and who he was not going to let pass. So they went up and took the bar
examination and got to be lawyers before the rest of them.
J: Who were they?
S: One of them lived in Gainesville; his name was Sigsbee Scruggs. He died about
a year or two ago.
J: So was Sigsbee not a favorite of Judge Cockrell?
S: That is right. He did not believe the professor was going to pass him. He could
see a lot of animosity there and he went up and took the bar. The bar was so
easy to pass that he was able to pass it in his senior year. I have forgotten the
other boy's name. It was Sam Getzen, also from Gainesville.
J: How did Sam line up against the Judge? Was he also not a favorite of his?
S: He was not a favorite at all. I think the Judge very much disliked Sam for some
J: How did Sam and Sigsbee feel about the Judge?
S: Well, they had not use for him at all. They thought about him like he thought
about them. I knew that situation so I played along and got along fine with him.
J: Could you watch the animosity unfold, the hard feelings?
S: Yes, you could see it. He would have some real hard questions that he would
always ask those boys.
J: How well did they do?
S: They actually did not do too well anyway, but he seemed to pick on them. I do
not know why, but that is what happened. Dean Trusler had a peculiar quality or
trait. When he taught, he was a very good teacher, but as he went along, he
would shut his eyes completely and teach you with his eyes shut. We noticed all
these little things in those days.
J: Was it warm in class?
S: Warm? Well, we did not notice it. You know, the weather is something to
which you get accustomed. We all like air conditioning now, but when I first had
air conditioning, I did not like it at all. Now I could not do without it.
J: Did you have screens on the windows?
S: I think so, but I am not sure. Yes, I am sure there were screens.
J: When were most of your courses? In the morning? in the afternoon? did you
have any night courses?
S: There were no night courses. They were in the mornings usually, as I recall it,
and went into the early afternoon. It was all the difference in the world to me
between studying engineering and law. When I got in law I thought boy, this is
the easiest thing I ever saw.
J: Was engineering that difficult for you or just different?
S: Oh, it was. I did good in it, but I had to study terribly hard. And you know, that
engineering which I had that one semester has aided me so much in being a
lawyer. I know more about land surveys and contour maps and all that. When
a lawyer starts out practicing, he could see a contour map, but he would not
know what it meant. In my military training, I personally have made a contour
map of all of the University of Florida and about a mile out on each side.
J: Why do you think that Professor Crandall was the best of all the professors?
S: Well, he seemed to be able to teach you better; and we boys, I think, had
more respect for him than we did our other teachers. Because Dean
Crandall,between terms of college, practiced law in Illinois and he would go back
there every year. I remember one thing he would always say, "Now the law
in Illinois is this way. . ." We had a big respect for him because we
thought, well, he was a lawyer and he was it. We sort of looked down on the
other professors a tiny little bit. We thought if they could be good lawyers, they
would not be teaching us. The teaching profession did not pay then like it does
J: Did Trusler or Crandall have a consulting business, or prepare briefs for lawyers
in town, or anything like that?
S: No, they did not, I am sure.
J: There is a fellow who was teaching about the time you were there by the
name of John Howard Moore [professor (191-1921)].
J: What do you remember about him?
S: I remember that he was a very poor teacher. We thought he knew the subject
he was teaching very well, but he could not trasmit it to the students.
J: Did he have any idiosyncracies as you remember?
S: No, not that I know of.
J: Now you talked about Dean Trusler closing his eyes and rambling on. Did
Professor Crandall or Judge Cockrell have some idiosyncracies?
S: No, not that I know of. I have told you the only one that Cockrell had. He has
the honor of being the only member of the Florida Supreme Court that has ever
been defeated for office.
J: Not much of an honor, is it?
S: Not a great honor.
J: Who was he defeated by?
S: I do not know, but he was defeated before he taught at the University of Florida.
That is the reason that he came down there.
J: There is another fellow by the name of James Madison Chapman [professor
S: Yes. I should say so.
J: Sounds like you really knew him. Tell me about him.
S: Well, he taught what we call elocution in those days. Well, I think that was the
course of study that has aided me more in the practice of law than any other one
thing. He taught you how to talk, how to change your voice, how to pronounce
your words distinctly, and everything like that. I only took from him during his
summer school that I attended. It was a few months and I thought it was a
wonderful course, and it has done me a world of good. In my younger days, I
was a trial lawyer; and I was a prosecuting attorney for ten years. I have been
county prosecuting attorney, assistant state's attorney and state's attorney in this
J: So you would say that Professor Chapman had quite an influence on you.
S: Oh, he did. Very much.
J: Do you recall where any of these professors lived in Gainesville, if it was close
by; or if you remember going over to their houses for a social gathering?
S: No, I do not.
J: There are two other men. One is William Gordon Kline, who is on this list of
professors. I do not recall what he was teaching though. [professor
S: I do not remember him at all--wait a minute--there was a Kline who was in charge
of the mess hall, that might have been him. I am not sure.
J: Let us see if one of these courses that he taught might spark your memory. I
have a list of them here: Crandall, Crandall, Moore, Kline. Kline taught United
States Constitutional law. Does that ring a bell?
S: No, it certainly does not.
J: What about Alfred Leo Buser? [professor (1919)].
S: I do not know him.
J: I think we have pretty much covered all the instructors. Do you remember any
special lecturers who were practicing attorneys in Gainesville; or Supreme Court
members that came down to give a lecture in class or partake in the practice
courts or moot courts?
S: No, I do not.
J: Tell me about the practice courts.
S: The practice court was not very good. When I got out of law school, I must say I
hardly knew anything. I was weaker on procedure than anything else. We had
common law pleading in those days, and these older lawyers could plead you
right out of court.
J: How could they do that?
S: Well, you had to put everything in your pleadings that was necessary, and you
had to cover all the evidence in that pleading that you were going to offer--but
you had to do it in very complicated ways. It is a very complicated method of
pleading which has been abolished. They would file what we called a demur.
You demurred, that is the verb. A demur is whatyou file now, and they could just
put you out of court for fighting your case that way.
J: Were you aware of that in law school?
S: No, I was not. We were very weak on pleading. And another thing, we did not
have any practical observation of the trial of cases. I had never seen a case
tried when I graduated from law school.
J: Did your instructors ever suggest that you go to the courthouse and watch them?
S: They never did. I think some of the students did, but I was just so darn busy I
did not. But most of them did not.
J: So how was the practice court weak?
S: Weak in that they did not teach you proper procedure. You would have one little
case. I think we only had to have one criminal and one civil case in practice
court to graduate and you got a little bit out of it, but you really did not get very
J: And you said you were very busy? What were some of the jobs that you were
S: Well, I worked out on the farm and also waited on tables.
J: Did you wait on tables your entire law school career?
S: Yes, I did. Except when I was in the service, and then I did not.
J: How much did that pay?
S: All you got were your meals and room.
J: Was that a room over at Buckman Hall or Thomas Hall?
S: That is right.
J: How about the room at the agricultural farm?
S: That was optional. I did not get that. I paid for that. I wanted to get down
there because I was behind all the time I was in law school. I had to catch up
about half a year. So I caught a lot of it up in my senior year and I wanted to be
away from the university so I would be quiet and calm and have more time to
J: Was it not quiet and calm at the dormitories?
S: No, it was not. It was pretty wild and wooly there, I'll tell you.
J: What were some of the wild and wooly things you remember?
S: Well, I can tell you a few, and they are awful. We used to have a man who was
in charge. His name was Buchholz. They have a high school in Gainesville
named after him today. Anyway, when school was nearly over we boys would
just go wild. I remember two things. First, we would take toilet paper and string
it out over the electric lines by throwing it over and then twisting it around like
that. Another thing that happened was in the dormitory where I was living and
that was Thomas Hall. Some of the students took a gallon can of syrup and
poured it all over the stairs. Then they cut open some pillows and let the two
pillows drop down and catch in that. That is the way we acted. Then, of
course, you had hazing which is a bad thing. I enjoyed it both when I was a
freshman and later, but I do not like it now. There have been too many bad
J: What was hazing, specifically, for you?
S: We were called rats as freshmen. We had to wear a certain colored cap--a red
cap, as I remember--when I was there, and anytime you left your dormitory or left
your classroom, you had better have that cap on. But then lots of times in the
evening all these students who were not freshmen would make all the rats come
out of their rooms, and if you did not come out, they would come and get you.
You then had to run through a long line about the length of that dormitory with
these people with their belts on each side of you hitting you as you went along.
J: Were you a rat even though it was your first year of law school and you were not
in the undergraduate academic program?
S: I was a rat. We had a lot of boys who would cheat on it. I remember one
especially. He would always tell them, "I have got the piles, I have got the piles."
They would let him off. It is a wonder I did not have the piles, too. But I did
not. I went through it and enjoyed it. And that did not happen too often--once
in a while. It was prohibited but nobody stopped it. The one year--I believe it
was my senior year--they had some hazing there and they took all the rats and
cut their hair off. That book you have is 1921, and that was my senior year. I
wonder if you have got a picture of them.
J: We might have a picture.
S: I think you have, of the hair cuts.
J: Why don't you look through that and I will continue to ask you some questions
while you are looking for it.
S: All right.
J: How would you appear in class? What was your dress then?
S: I was such a poor boy back in those days that, believe it or not, like quite a few
others, I wore my army uniforms that I had in SATC most of the time. Then, in
addition to that, you see, we had our uniforms later on from ROTC. Do they give
them uniforms now?
J: I do not know if they give uniforms to them, but they do wear uniforms.
S: Also in my senior year, I got paid. I do not know whether they pay all of them
now or whether they pay the senior ROTC students, but we got paid. I was
supposed to get paid the last two years and although they gave me one year's
credit for my service in World War I, they only paid me for one year.
J: You were talking earlier about the veteran's program for World War I vets.
J: You missed out on that because you only did eighty-nine days instead of ninety?
J: What was that program?
S: Well, the only part of the program that I know of happened immediately after the
war, and that was they paid each veteran ninety dollars.
J: A month?
S: No. They just paid them one time. That was what they called a bonus.
J: I guess ninety dollars would have been a lot of money back then.
S: It was a lot of money in those days, but I did not get that. I am eligible, due to
my service in World War I, to go to Veterans hospitals. I have been in one, and I
know I can get in them, but I have never received any other benefits.
J: When you lived in Buckman Hall and Thomas Hall, and you looked across
University Avenue, what did you see?
S: Is Buckman Hall the one furthest east?
S: That is what I thought. Well, there were a few scattered buildings. There would
have been the restaurant I told you about, and there was the ATO fraternity
J: Here is a 1930 diagram. There is not one for campus that I can find for 1920.
S: Well, this is north, I suppose.
J: Yes. That is University Avenue, and this is Thirteenth Street or 441.
S: This would be the north side of University Avenue?
J: Yes. So you would be living in this area, and I am talking about over this way.
S: Well, that is all I remember. There might have been another fraternity house
J: Were there trees over there?
S: Oh, yes. It was trees and woods then.
J: Sounds like you spent a lot of time in your ROTC training in your college.
S: Yes, I did.
J: How much time away could you anticipate drilling and going to class for ROTC?
S: It seems to me like we were in ROTC only about an hour everyday, but then we
had special things we had to do like the contour map of the University of Florida
campus and things like that.
J: How did you participate in the military ball on campus?
S: I remember very little about it.
J: They may not have had it, I am not certain.
S: I am not sure either because I have been to them since then, and I cannot
J: Did you belong to a fraternity?
S: No, I did not.
J: Did you have a part in spring house parties and fall frolic and that kind of
S: Well, I had very little social life in these days because I did not have any money,
and I did not have any clothes to wear.
J: I guess that is pretty important to social life.
S: It was very important in those days. I could have joined the fraternity but I did
not do it because I did not think I was able to.
J: Did you have support from your parents financially through college?
S: A little bit, but very little and only in my senior year. I got by on what I had
saved, and, my last semester my senior year I borrowed a little money from an
uncle of mine and paid him back about ten years later.
J: You said you enjoyed the study of law quite a bit. Did you also expect to make a
large amount of money? Were lawyers in this area paid well? Could you look
to them and think, well, he has made a lot of money, I can make some money
going to law school.
S: That is one of the things that caused me to study law in addition to my
grandmother's advice. I could see in Ocala the other lawyers were well off.
J: Was there anyone besides your grandma that was influential in you going to law
S: No, I do not think so.
J: Just your own desire and what your grandmother desired.
S: That is right.
J: Where would you generally study?
S: Generally studied in my room where we stayed.
J: Did you make use of the law library?
S: Very rarely. That is another deficiency in those days. You were not told
enough how to find the law. Those two things were missing. The procedural
teaching and you might include the other as part of that. I did because that is
part of the law. In our office here today, every lawyer in here graduated from the
University of Florida. The new lawyers that we bring in have knowledge of how
to find the law one thousand percent better than mine. They know better than
the older lawyers how to find it.
J: They have progressed quite a bit.
S: Yes, I think the law school has greatly improved.
J: There were several traditions at the law school, at least that I am aware of. In
the later 1920's and the early 1930's, one of the traditions that was begun was
S: Doing what?
J: Shuffling. You shuffle your feet or maybe stomp your feet in class.
S: Yes, slightly. That did not happen very often but it did happen once in a while.
J: Do you remember why that would happen in class?
S: Do you mean like when the professor would say something the students did not
J: Yes. Now Mrs. Crandall at one time would drive up in a car by the law school on
the road that is located on the map and toot her horn at the end of the period,
and Professor Crandall would still be lecturing and the students would shuffle
their feet. Do you have that recollection?
S: No, I do not remember that at all.
J: How many hours a week outside of class would you generally study?
S: I would say about two hours a day.
J: Did any of these professors have nicknames?
S: Not that I remember.
J: And what would you call Judge Cockrell in class?
S: Well, we would just call him Professor Cockrell.
J: Nobody was calling him Judge?
S: I guess he did not really want to be reminded of that, and they did not want to tell
J: How much did it cost you every semester in tuition?
S: You have got me there. I cannot remember that far back.
J: Do you have a sense of how much it might have cost you to go through law
school for the entire three years?
S: No, I really do not.
J: Where were your books bought?
S: They must have been bought at the University of Florida, but to tell you the truth,
I do not know.
J: Would you buy a used book from a third-year law student?
S: Yes, you could do that. That was done quite a lot.
J: Were there many students in there with suits and ties on in class, or was it more
S: Very informal. They dressed like they wanted to.
J: Were there any classes in how to prepare a brief to present your case?
S: Yes there were, but they were poor I would say because we did not know
anything about it when we got out of school.
J: You said your favorite professor was Crandall. Was there a favorite course that
you had also?
S: No, I do not think so. Some were a little easier than others, but I would not say I
had a favorite.
J: What were some of the easier courses for you?
S: Legal Ethics was about the easiest.
J: What was a difficult one?
S: I guess Contracts.
J: Were there any women in any of your classes?
S: There were not women in the University of Florida at all when I was there. But in
my senior year I believe we had a lady from Gainesville who was granted
permission to take law courses. She used to, and we would look at her like she
was crazy or something. We thought, why does that woman study law? She
could never be a lawyer. I have forgotten her name, but she was about
twenty-five years old I think.
J: So she was a few years older than most of the other people?
J: And she was from Gainesville? She was a native of the town?
S: Yes, she was a native of Gainesville.
J: Do you remember the course that she was in?
S: No, I do not.
J: How many people were in your class?
S: In my graduating class, I think there were thirteen of us.
J: How many people would be in your classes?
S: You know, I do not know.
J: Thirty? Forty?
S: I was going to say about twenty, but it may have been thirty. I think twenty
would be closer.
J: When you walked into the old building from the west where it says College of
Law, what was to the immediate left?
S: I really cannot remember.
J: I know it is a long time ago. To the right I believe there was a classroom.
S: That is correct. It might have been the library to the left, but I am not sure.
J: Do you remember a librarian in there?
S: Yes, but I do not remember the name of the librarian.
J: Do you remember if it was a lady or a man?
S: It seems to me like it was a lady, but I am not sure.
J: Was her name Agatha Freeman Walsh?
S: I cannot tell you for sure.
J: Do you remember Priscilla Kennedy?
J: Mrs. Walsh retired or quit in 1920, and Miss Kennedy took over in the library.
S: So I was right on it being a woman, but I cannot remember her name.
J: You said you went to one summer school session. Did you go to all the summer
S: No, I just went to one.
J: What did you do during the summers?
S: I worked at various places, at any jobs I could get.
J: In Gainesville?
S: No, I came back to Ocala, and sometimes I would work only part time. I would
just get any job I could.
J: How much money could you expect to make at these part-time jobs?
S: Very little.
J: Dollar or two a week?
S: I remember one of them in which I got three dollars a week. I was working in a
bookshop where they sold all the books for children in the county (you had to
buy your own books in those days); and they also sold musical instruments there.
J: Were there any loans available that you could take advantage of while you were
S: No, not of which I knew.
J: Federal Government or through the college?
S: I do not think any at all.
J: Now it sounds like you were on a work-study type of program, waiting tables for
your dorm room. Were there other people that were taking advantage of that?
S: Oh, yes, very much. And the longer you waited on tables, the better. It was
quite a demand on the part of the students to do that.
J: That was a popular job?
S: A very popular job because, well, it paid more, much more than anything else.
The kitchen was on the south end of the building. Then the rest of it was what
you call a mess hall. And the longer you waited on tables, the nearer you got to
the kitchen. There was one peculiar thing, and I still cannot understand how
they did it. We had quite a few waiters, and I never tried this very much, but
they would come running out of that kitchen and slide on the floor to the table
with this big tray in their hands. It endangered everybody that was in reach of
the spillage, but nothing ever happened. I never knew a person to slip down.
J: That was at the mess hall?
J: Show me which building that is on this map. I am not sure which one it is
myself. Was it the commons building right next to your dorm?
S: Now where are the two dormitories?
J: There are Buckman and Thomas.
S: Well, it was about halfway between the two.
J: That is part of the commons.
S: Is that west?
J: Yes. So that is the building. Now, you came home during the summers to
Ocala. Did you also come home during the semester breaks to see your folks
and visit for a weekend, or would you stay in Gainesville?
S: I would stay in Gainesville.
J: As a general rule, would you say that most of the law students had the same
lifestyle as you or did they have more money or less money?
S: They had more than I did. I would say that when I was in law school, the law
students came from the most wealthy families in Florida.
J: Did any of them own an automobile?
S: There was only one automobile owned by a student on the university campus the
whole time I was there. It was a big old red Stutz, and it was owned by a man in
Ocala, Ed Green. His father had been a lawyer in Ocala. His dad and his
mother were living, and he had plenty of money. That automobile was one of
the unusual things to see.
J: When did Ed Green graduate?
S: You know, I really do not know, but he was a lawyer. He did graduate and it
seems to me like he graduated the year before I did, but I am not sure.
J: So he would drive that Stutz between Ocala and Gainesville?
S: Yes, and around the campus.
J: Of course, that was just a wilderness between Ocala and Gainesville at that time.
S: He was a member of the KA fraternity.
J: Where was the KA building?
S: Seems to me like it was on the northside of University Avenue.
J: How common was it for law students to work?
S: Well, it was not a common thing. There were several students who worked and
one of them was Alto Adams. You know of Alto. He was in my class, by the
way. We were personal friends and we made more money than any other
members of our class. I liked to say that when we were in college, we would
have been picked as the two most likely to succeed.
J: Is he living in Fort Pierce?
S: Yes. I visit his home, and he visits mine. We see each other in North Carolina.
We are good friends.
J: He is pictured in that book, I think as a critic, and as a vice-president of the John
Marshall Debating Society. What was that all about?
S: Well, we used to have debates between the law students in Gainesville, and then
they had debates with other colleges.
J: Would you drive or take a train?
S: Well, I was not ever in any of those.
J: You were not in the John Marshall Debating Society?
S: I do not think so. I might have been. I do not remember. Anyway, I did not
win. I did not go anywhere, so I do not know.
J: Do you remember if they debated with Stetson University in Deland?
S: I think they did.
J: Were there any publications produced by the law school, such as University of
Florida Law Review?
S: No, there was nothing like the Law Review in those days. The only thing that I
know of was the Seminole.
J: Were there petitions that were passed amongst law students trying to change
some course or registering a complaint with some of the instructors, that you
J: What kind of test were you administered when you were taking your classes? Did
you have a mid-term and a final, or just a final?
S: It seems to me like we would have a test at the end of each semester. But then
I think we would have a final test in addition to that.
J: Do you remember, if during your first year, the examinations were any different?
Did you have two of them your first year, and then one at the end of your class
for the second and third years?
S: No, I really do not remember. I remember that I was always able to make a
better grade on the test than I did in class. I do not know why.
J: How much was your class participation worth in relation to your grade on an
S: I do not know. I do not think they ever told us.
J: But they took that into consideration?
S: Yes. Most of them took it into consideration.
J: What were some of the common gripes that you students had about school? Of
course, you did not know about it not being very practical at that time.
S: I do not remember that there were any. There might have been some, but they
were very few and far between.
J: So there was one automobile on campus and that was owned by a student.
None of the professors had an automobile?
S: No, I do not think they did.
J: Was the bicycle a common mode of transportation?
S: Yes, the bicycle was very common.
J: Did you have a bike?
S: No. Not at the University of Florida.
J: Your transportation was solely by feet?
S: I believe it was.
J: Did you catch a ride in the Stutz with Ed Green to Ocala? Do you remember
S: No, I do not. Ed and I were not close friends, but after he came back and we
both started practicing law, we were the best of friends in Ocala. We used to go
fishing there at least once a week together, and he and his wife and my wife
were very close friends. In fact, when I got married I was building a house at
that time, and for a few months I lived at Ed Green's house in Ocala. That is
how close we were.
J: And you barely knew each other in law school. Now there was a Marion County
Club of which you were president. That is in this book. What were your
responsibilities as president?
S: Practically nothing.
J: I see about every significant county in the state at that time had its own club at
S: That is correct. We met once in a while, but very few times--maybe two or three
times a year.
J: So being a student from that county made you eligible for the club?
S: That is right, but it was a very inactive club.
J: You were also very involved in athletics during your law school terms. Was it
pretty common for people in law school to be in athletics?
S: No. Law students participated less in athletics than any of the other students,
but I always liked athletics. I played for the Ocala High School team and
weighed one hundred and twenty-five pounds. I never made the team in
Gainesville. I was too light for football, even in those days. I went out for
baseball. I never could throw the ball as fast as I was supposed to though I was
a wonderful batter. So I left those alone. Then I went into boxing and I won the
lightweight boxing championship for the University of Florida for two years.
Boxing, in those days, was quite a college sport. It is not anymore you know.
In those days it was ranked equal with football. And of course when I was in a
boxing class, I had to fight people that were my weight. Then I got along a lot
better. I weighed 135 pounds. I had gained ten pounds since high school.
After I had won the lightweight boxing championship for two years, I went up to
what was then Camp Knox, Kentucky to take my senior ROTC. I won a ROTC
lightweight boxing championship against boys from across the United States of
America. I got a gold medal that I will show you.
J: I would like to see that before we leave. Did you win any money along with the
J: I would like you to describe that process of winning the gold medal in boxing
from the time you started here in Gainesville. Did you win firsthere and then you
were selected by the University to go?
S: No, I had won lightweight boxing championships at the University of Florida for
two years. Then, as I said before, I had to take my senior ROTC after I
graduated, so we were sent to Camp Knox, Kentucky. There we had all the
different branches of service. I have often wondered why they gave me this
medal and said I won the ROTC championship--I do not know yet. This is my
tops in athletics. Do you know what they did to me for my senior ROTC
S: I never drilled a single day. I was in one mock battle. When I got up there they
interviewed me and found out I was champion University of Florida lightweight. I
entertained the rest of the time. I boxed just about every day I was there.
J: In Kentucky?
S: Yes. Boxing was quite a sport in those days and you had all the different
weights. I do not know how many bouts I had up there--maybe thirty or forty.
J: Do you remember any of the people who went on to do something else?
S: No, but I remember who I fought for the championship.
J: Who was that?
S: His name was Gibson and he was from University of California. That is what
puzzles me now. We had them all up there. You would not think California
would have been at Camp Knox. He was a redheaded boy. I was scared to
death of him. There were some gamblers who came out there from Louisville,
and they were gambling on these boxing bouts. I had two or three spies out
there who would tell me what the odds were. Well, the odds were on the other
guy winning. Now that scared me to death.
J: How many rounds did ya'll go?
S: Well, we boxed like amateurs--three rounds--which is about like they do now. I
think they have bigger gloves now than we had.
J: How did the fight end?
S: Well, neither one knocked the other one out, but I got it on points. I never will
forget the first round in that fight. I knocked him down twice. He hit that floor
and he would not wait for the count. He jumped right up. That liked to scared
me to death because when I hit people and knocked them down I expected them
to stay there. He did not do that at all, he did not behave like he should.
J: How big was he?
S: He was 135 pounds, the same as I was. By the way, I almost failed to make it
because I got to 136. I did not eat anything or drink any water for twenty-four
hours before that fight. I just did make it in at 135.
J: Who did you fight here in Florida when you won the welterweight championship?
S: I swear I cannot remember their names. I should remember, I fought a lot of
them all the way up; and I cannot remember the name of the one that I fought
last. That should be lightweight.
J: Well, they have got you down as welterweight in the book.
S: Oh, in the book. Oh, well, I will tell you why they did that. It will sound like
bragging sure enough, but I will tell you why they did that and how it happened.
I was not going to tell you but we had welterweight champion and I challenged
him for his title.
J: And you beat him?
S: I beat him. But boy, he pounded me in the side here until I had a blue spot that
big when the fight was over. I was lucky on some of these fights. You know
what happened to him?
S: His nose started bleeding and he could not come back out in the ring.
J: How big is welterweight size?
S: Ten more pounds 145 pounds.
J: Did it make a lot of difference?
S: Yes, it sure did. He could hit a lot harder than I could.
J: Sounds like you devoted a lot of time to the practice of boxing.
S: I did, and I used to keep in training and run about three or four miles a day.
J: Did you to go to law school, too?
J: You had some twelve to fourteen hour days then.
S: I sure did. I ran in the afternoon after it got cooler. Instead of going out and
running around the track or something like that, I had another boy that ran with
me. We had just take off across country, climb fences and everything else. I
figured I would get more exercise that way.
J: You were also on the College of Law baseball and football teams.
J: What was that about?
S: Well, the colleges used to play each other in those days.
J: Were you a captain of either of those teams?
S: No. I did not do too well in that sort of athletics, except when I got them down to
my weight, then I could whip them.
J: So you were a pretty small fellow, considering everyone else.
S: Yes, I was very small.
J: How many times a week or a month would you all play baseball and football
S: I cannot remember how often we played. Seems to me like about once a
J: Was Florida State College for Women established during your college career?
S: I do not know.
J: Do you remember Ed Green taking his Stutz there and picking up dates? Or
driving to Jacksonville to watch the games there?
S: I really do not know. I had so many dates up there later, I do not remember.
My wife was up there in that school when we were married.
J: When did you and your wife meet?
S: I was member of the House of Representatives in 1923, and she was a freshman
J: What is her name?
S: Her name was Dorothy Margaret Rollo, and we married the next year.
J: She graduated in 1926?
S: No, she never graduated. I ruined her education.
J: Did you participate in any of the dances that they had on the Gainesville
S: Dances? No.
J: Or the military balls or fraternity dances?
S: No, practically none. And again, I was too "poorboy" to date and did not have
any clothes to wear.
J: Too busy?
S: Too busy also.
J: How easy were dates to come by in the Gainesville area while you were at
S: Fairly easy, but I did not have any dates. I was too busy.
J: What were some of the hot spots or places that fellows would meet and hang out
and have a sandwich or drink a beer?
S: Well, really there was not any.
J: Was there the Black Cat, on the corner of University and Ninth?
S: I do not remember. Maybe they had something there, but I never went to it.
J: Was there beer at the Old College Inn that you could purchase?
S: I do not think so. One thing that we have not covered was after we would win a
football game. We would have these parades in town and they were rough.
We would do things that we should not ever have done. We went into a bakery
one time and just ate pies right and left inside.
J: Just went in there and took them and ate them?
J: You guys were pretty rough.
S: Yes, pretty rough.
J: Would the entire university empty out and do this?
S: We would march down University Avenue in a big column and go in these places.
The main thing we would take over would be the picture show. We took that
over a number of times. The people in there would get up and leave, and we
would sit down in there and they would show us the picture. We would meet out
in front of the University. There were not any cars in those days, so we would
march up University Avenue into town.
J: What movies do you remember moving in on?
S: Oh, I do not remember. I guess I was too excited to think about it.
J: Where would you eat besides the cafeteria for your meals? Would you go to the
Old College Inn or some other restaurants?
S: No, I do not remember eating anywhere except in the mess hall. That was not a
J: It was a mess hall?
S: That is right. You brought the food out and put it on the table.
J: Were there a number of waiters that would bring more food when those bowls
J: Could you eat as much as you wanted to?
S: No, one plate, one serving.
J: Were there any pool halls around that you remember?
S: I do not remember.
J: Now you say you remember the John Marshall Debating Society, but you were
not part of that.
S: I do not think so.
J: You were commissioned second lieutenant in the army when you graduated?
S: No. I had to go to senior ROTC, and that was after I graduated. I had to go
after I graduated because I had only three years in college. They gave me
credit, but they still made me do all these things you would have done in the four
years. You could not get a commission until you had that senior ROTC. I did
not do a thing up there but box. I was the only entertainment around. They
picked out people, mainly wrestlers and boxers. That is all they had. That
shows you how popular those were compared with other sports in those days.
Not only did we have championship fights, but we had contests between the
universities. The University of Florida almost won. We had one boy who failed
to show up. We would have had a chance to win with him. He was a lightweight
wrestler. He had quite a reputation. He won every wrestling bout he had ever
been engaged in at the University of Florida. He was champion at the University
of Florida. He was on this entertainment group I was with, and there was a guy
that neither one of us could beat. They gave you a time limit in those days.
Neither one of them won the decision and that seemed to ruin him completely.
He did not even show up, though we tried to get him to go. He said, "No, I do
not feel like it. I will lose." He was despondent over not winning that bout.
That is the only time he lost. So we had no chance at that one. The University
of Florida might have won the whole thing. I remember we won the heavyweight
wrestling championship because of a fellow named Driggers. He was from the
University of Florida.
J: Were Sigsbee Scruggs or Sam Getzen involved in any of these sports activities?
S: Neither one, no.
J: Were all your classes held at the law college, or did you have any meet over at
the dormitory or across the street?
S: All at the law college.
J: You thought the library was to the left and there was a classroom to the right.
What was upstairs?
S: I am not sure whether the library was downstairs or upstairs. I know the way
you entered the building it would be on your left. I do not remember whether it
was downstairs or upstairs.
J: Do you remember having classes and looking out from the second story window
at the top of the pine trees?
S: I know we had most of our classes downstairs, but I cannot tell you about them.
J: When did you graduate?
S: June 7, 1921.
J: And you did not have to take the bar examination.
S: I guess you know the history of that, don't you?
J: Well, you were given a diploma privilege up until about 1950.
S: Yes. Here is what happened. The University of Florida was granted the
diploma privilege because they were a state school. Then Stetson receivedit
and then the University of Miami received it. People graduating from law school
from those three schools did not have to take the bar exam. Then they were
about to start a correspondence law school in Jacksonville. The legislature
decided that everybody would have to take it, and that is what happened. That
was over a great period of years.
J: When did they require graduating law students to take the bar examination?
S: I do not remember. It was about twenty years ago.
J: What were your graduating ceremonies like? Where were they held? Was
there a procession specifically for law students?
S: They were held at a building that would have been a little southwest of the
dormitories. It was the auditorium, I believe.
J: Was there any construction visible on campus at that time? New buildings going
up or additions?
S: No, I do not think so.
J: Now was there a separate ceremony for law students after graduation when you
received your LL.B. and this other plaque that you have which is from the
S: Well, that is admissions.
J: That admitted you? Did you receive that at the same ceremony?
S: No, you got that later. You can see there is a difference in the dates. This was
June 10, 1921.
J: And that is the seventh.
S: And that one is June 7, three days earlier.
J: Do you remember another graduation ceremony inside the College of Law?
S: I think it all happened in the auditorium.
J: Did they have a separate ceremony?
S: I think you walked one by one.
J: Did Dean Trusler hand you your diploma?
S: I do not know. I guess I was so lucky to get it I did not notice who gave it to me.
J: So you graduated. You had your diploma. You were admitted to the bar and
you had thoughts of returning to Ocala. Why not stay in Gainesville?
S: Well, we used to say that lawyers who did not have enough money to go
anywhere stayed in Gainesville. There were too many lawyers in Gainesville.
Ocala was my home. I came back to it.
J: You took the train back here and then what did you proceed to do?
S: Well, I could not get a job in Ocala with any of the lawyers. So I went to Orlando
and worked there about six months with a lawyer. He died. So I came back to
Ocala, and after about a month or two I got a job with a lawyer here.
J: Who did you get that job with?
S: Raymond Bullock. His brother was the only circuit judge in the fifth circuit, which
was for five counties. We used to practice all the time before his brother, and
the other lawyers did not seem to care anything about it. His brother, as far as I
know, did not treat him quite as well as he did the other lawyers. I think he was
trying to protect himself. The judge was harder on him than on anybody else.
Then I found out after I started working for him that he was an alcoholic. He
would get drunk everyday. First thing I knew, I was having to try some of his
cases. He would get to court and he had taken a drink or two. Then we would
have a recess and he would go out and take a big drink and the judge would
motion me up there. "Charlie, Greg has been drinking." "I did not see him,
Judge." But I could smell it on his breath and I would tell him something like,
"Okay." He would say, "I do not know what I am going to do about that brother
of mine. I am going to call him in my office now, and I am going to talk to him."
It does not make any difference what he says. You have got to try this case.
So, I got thrown into cases and I learned fast--I had to.
J: Soon after you graduated, you were a U.S. Commissioner. What was that
S: The commissioners in those days took the place of another office that they have
now in federal court. I do not know what they call it now. It is the one that
assists the judge. He is a preliminary judge; he is kind of like a justice of the
peace used to be. Oh, I thought I was the biggest shot in Ocala. I would go
down to the old building, and they had a big place where they held court. It took
up about half the second story, and I would get in that big old chair and be the
judge. I was just a kid almost.
J: That was in 1924. How long did that last?
S: I may have resigned shortly afterwards, I do not remember. I was a member of
the legislature in 1925 and I do not think I could have held both of those jobs.
J: Tell me about the election of 1925.
S: I ran for the State House of Representatives against an old man; he was about
sixty years old. I thought he was terribly old then. I whipped that old man. In
those days, you had to file an expense account. He forgot to file one of the
expense accounts and got disqualified.
J: So it was very easy for you?
S: Yes. I got the Democratic nomination.
J: What do you remember doing your first term?
S: Not much of anything. I was the youngest member of the House of
Representatives. In the first term, you do not have much influence. I do not
remember any special bills that I sponsored or anything. I was doing a lot of
courting in those days, too, and did not have much time to sponsor bills.
J: That is when you met your wife?
S: That is where I met my wife. I had an old automobile that had front lights which
turned when you turned your steering wheel. The girls at the college had my car
all the time. I was rooming near the Capitol and they had my car. It was easy
to recognize Charlie Savage's car and one would get out and another got in.
That went on the whole time. I was courting during most of 1925. Finally I got
caught. Then I was a state senator from 1935 through 1939.
J: You were a prosecuting attorney, I believe, during the time when you were not in
S: That is correct. I went in backwards, too. I was a state's attorney and later I
took a job as assistant state's attorney. But prior to having either one of those, I
was county prosecuting attorney.
J: Were you able to retain your practice when you were state's attorney and when
you were in the legislature?
S: I kept my private practice. There is quite a difference now between legislators
and in my time. We met, of course, every two years for sixty days. It was a job
that did not pay anything. I would get five dollars a day, I think, for the sixty days
and transportation once to Tallahassee and once back. But you had to go all
over the state in order to have any influence. It was an expensive thing. I
actually resigned from the senate.
J: In 1939?
S: Yes. Then I became assistant state's attorney. I had always wanted to run for
state's attorney. I was defeated for state's attorney the first time by thirty-six
votes. There was a very excellent state's attorney here from Lake County, Jess
Hunter, and he was a personal friend of mine. I just could not run against him.
He thought I was going to run against him. I told him I was not. He never did
quite believe it until election time. And then I got to be...
J: The assistants had to be appointed.
S: Yes. Well, Fred Cone was governor [1937-1941] and I had supported him in the
gubernatorial race. He actually offered me the job and I took it.
J: I have read in several articles that you were the youngest state's attorney to send
two people to death row, or something to that effect. Do you remember that?
S: I do not remember the article, but I do know about those two cases.
J: Will you tell me a little bit about those cases?
S: Yes. One was the case from Citrus County in which a Negro man beat his wife
to death and a Negro taxi driver saw it all. She was not dead when he got her
home, but they were separated. She had gone to live with one of her relatives.
He went there and got her and put her in the taxi, which had hired, and beat on
her all the way home. She must have been pretty bad off when he took her out
of the car. Anyway, either she died or he finished killing her. Then he took her
out and buried her in a shallow grave and the taxi driver told on him. So we had
a witness. In those days it was not right, but we all did a lot of things that were
not right, you have got to judge everybody in history within the times they lived,
and the people with which they lived anyways, usually we would let a Negro
plead guilty to second degree murder and give him life and that was all there was
to it unless he killed a white person. Well, the whole bunch of Negroes in that
county came to me and met me at the sheriff's office and they begged me not to
do that. They said, "We want him sent to the electric chair."
J: Now how old were you at this time?
S: Well, let me see. That was when I was assistant state's attorney, so it was in
the 1940's. Anyway, I tried him and the jury did send him to the electric chair.
In those days, the jury passed one verdict. They could find you guilty of murder
in the first degree with recommendation for mercy, which meant you got life. But
there was no recommendation for you to go to the electric chair. You just went.
The other case was here in Ocala. There were a couple of women here. They
were living in a house of ill-fame, we will say, and a soldier came back here and
was dating this woman. She had a prior boyfriend. His name was Sullivan. I
remember his name, but I do not remember the lady's name. So he came in
there and he caught them together and he told the soldier that he was going
home to get his gun and kill him unless he was gone when he got back.
Somehow the soldier must not have believed him because he stayed there. He
just walked in and shot him right there and killed him. We had two women as
witnesses and he went to the electric chair. Both of them were electrocuted. I
did not know there was a write-up on that.
J: Let me show you the article. I will leave that with you as a matter of fact.
S: Do. I did not know about it.
J: You were a county prosecuting attorney in 1926. How was that different from
being a state attorney?
S: Here is the difference. There is a lot of difference. Back then, the state's
attorneys had to run for office. They ran for the democratic nomination.
Actually they were never really elected, but ran in the primary and then the
governor always appointed them. I do not know of any exceptions. They have
got a whole bunch of them now. In those days there were a lot of cases tried in
the county judge's court. Those were misdemeanors and the court had its own
prosecuting attorney. They were appointed by the county commissioner.
J: Now in the second case that you argued, and the man went to death row.About
what year was that?
S: It was in the 1940's.
J: Both of them were in the 1940's?
J: You were state attorney for 1927 and 1930, and then from that to state's senator
from 1935 to 1939. What were you doing in those five years between state
attorney and state senator?
S: I was engaged in general practice of law.
J: Those were some of the worst years of the Depression. Was it pretty bleak for
S: Actually it was, though I thought it was worse than it was. I got by all right. I
had my home paid for prior to that time. I got by without any trouble at all, but I
was worried all the time about not making any money. Everybody else was. I
did not lose any money, by the way, because we did not have any to lose.
J: As a county prosecuting attorney, did you make more or less money than as
state attorney in the 1920's?
S: We made less money.
J: As a county prosecutor?
S: Yes. Well, it seems odd now, but it seems to me that I got $150 per month as
county prosecuting attorney; and as state's attorney and assistant, I got $300 per
month. That does not seem like anything, does it?
J: No, but it was double what you were making as a county prosecuting attorney.
S: Yes it was. The county prosecuting attorney only handled misdemeanors--little
cases punishable up to one year, I believe. They went to county jail.
J: Well, at $300 per month as a state's attorney, it would seem to me that you
could make more money in private practice.
S: Well, let me tell you about them and compare them. I certainly remember that.
I lost money, of course, from being a member of the legislature in the summer;
but I would say with the political jobs that I have held that they neither added to
or subtracted from my income. I cannot see any difference.
J: About break even?
J: Were your terms in the senate much different than your one term in the house of
S: Yes, I think so. Quite different. I was quite active in the senate. I was old
enough then, although I was next to the youngest member of the senate. But I
was very close to the president of the senate. His name was Hodges and he
was from Tallahassee. Later, he ran for governor. My house term was very
negligible, but in the senate I was appointed on a special committee. When the
president had something special he wanted he would have this referred to my
committee instead of some of the others. We whipped through the first
workmen's compensation law in Florida. I drew it up and sponsored it through
the senate. Then the next thing--I do not know whether I am ashamed of it or
whether I am proud of it--I got through the first what we called "old age
assistance law" in Florida. I drafted that law.
J: You were quite active.
S: Yes, I was very active. In addition to that special committee, I was on two other
committees. One of them was what they called a judicial committee. We had
three of those judicial committees in the senate, and every bill that was
introduced had to go through one of those committees which would pass on its
constitutionality. I do not know whether they have ever done that before or
since, but that is what Hodges did. He said he wanted to have a bill go through
that was constitutional. He would pass it to me to have it passed. We turned
down quite a few, though not many. If we thought one was a little borderline, we
would pass it. But if we saw it was clearly wrong, we would not pass it. Now,
the attorney general, I think, does the job we had.
J: I do not recall you telling me why you resigned in 1939.
S: The senate was costing me money. I told you before that is the only job I had
that really cost me money--lots of it. Most of the people in the senate at that
time were wealthy people. Seems like I have always been around people who
have more money than I. But we used to meet anywhere from Pensacola to
Key West and we paid all our own expenses. There was not any travel
expenses paid, and the darn thing was getting in my pocketbook pretty good. I
resigned from the senate to take the job as assistant state's attorney. It paid a
good salary, I thought, for those days, though it does not sound like anything
J: There is a list of people who graduated with you that are part of the John
Marshall Debating Society and I would like you to talk a little bit about them
because you are one of the last surviving members of this class. This is the list.
I do not want you to go through all of them because there are too many, but talk
a little bit about each person.
S: Alto Adams is the first one I see. Alto was a poor boy like I was in college. He
had to work. He worked his way through college. I guess he has been the
most successful member of my class. His wealth is so much I doubt if he knows
what it is himself. He owns about 100,000 acres of land. He owns 50,000 in
Florida and 50,000 more out in New Mexico or Arizona, I forget which. He has
been on the Supreme Court of Florida twice.
J: Was he active in student government politics and law school politics when he
was in college?
J: Were there any of the people you see there that were active in student
S: No, not many.
J: Too busy going through school, trying to get an education?
S: I guess so. Yes, I do not think any of these were very active in student activities.
J: Do you remember most of these people?
S: Oh, yes. I remember all of them, I think. I knew them. Would you like to know
about some of the others?
S: W. E. Thompson. I do not know very much about him after he got out of law
school. E. C. Vyning I knew as Clyde Vyning. He was a lawyer who went to
Miami to practice. He was a successful lawyer. Oscar Norton or O.H. Norton
practiced in Tampa and was a successful lawyer.
J: Is Alto Adams still alive?
S: Yes. We are the only two members of our class left. Then on the second
semester you have L. C. Crofton, president. He was little older than the rest of
us. He was a very successful lawyer. Peacock is named on here in the second
semester as president along with Crofton, I do not know why. Peacock was not
a very successful lawyer, but he practiced law.
J: Where did he practice?
S: Dade City, I believe. Thelma Keene was a very successful lawyer and practiced
in Tallahassee. He is dead, of course. Hoyt Carlton was also older than the
rest of us and he practiced law, as far as I know, all the time. That is all of them
I believe. Every member of my class made law their profession and they were
J: Were any of them invested in land, or in the management of a company in
addition to their law practice?
S: Yes. You cannot make millions of dollars out of practicing law. You could not
then, and you still cannot. Taxes will get it. In Florida, as you know, land has
been the great investment, the people make the most money out of. Alto Adams
was one of those who dealt in land and made most of his money that way. I
have dealt in land very extensively. About the others, I could not tell you. Alto
and I have been closer than any of the others. As I said, Alto and I are the only
living members of the 1921 class. The most recent person to die in our class
was Fred Mellor, who was a lawyer on the West Coast of Florida--Sarasota, I
believe. Adams, Mellor and I used to meet at Adams' place and spend time
down there. My class, I think, had more reunions than any class which has
graduated from the University of Florida.
J: How good of a student was Alto Adams?
S: Fair, kind of like I was.
J: How about Fred Mellor?
S: Fred Mellor was a good student, an excellent student.
J: Did anyone in your class graduate with a J.D. degree as opposed to the LL.B?
S: I do not think so. No, I am sure no one did. But later there were boys in college
with me, who were then in academic colleges, who got J.D. degrees. One was
Thomas Ferguson of Miami, who was a very close friend of mine. Do you know
what you had to do to get a J.D. degree in those days?
J: Well, why don't you tell me? I have an idea.
S: Well, here is what you had to do. You had to have three years toward an
academic degree. Then you could enter the law school. And you got credit for
one year there for both. So you got the whole thing in...
S: Yes, six years. But you had to make a certain grade in law school. What it was
I cannot remember. It seems to me that it was ninety out of 100, but I am not
J: They made that retroactive about 1967 where everyone was awarded the J.D.
S: Yes, but you do not see mine up there.
J: No, I wondered how you felt about that.
S: Well, that was a most peculiar deal. Printed down on the bottom of it in little tiny
letters it says it is an honorary degree. Well, I think the president of the
University, and I have forgotten who it was, but I know it was a fellow named
Ferguson from Tampa who was on the Board of Regents. I remember when he
gave out these things at the University of Florida. He said that his was the first
time anybody gave themselves a degree. So the J.D. was given to all the
graduates of the University of Florida College of Law. Now, by that time, of
course, these young lawyers had gotten these J.D. degrees. They were the big
majority, so believe it or not, the Florida Bar passed a "Provision of Ethics" that
you could not have both of those diplomas on your wall at the same time. That
is the reason you do not see mine up there.
J: Now there were some students who earned the J.D. in the 1920's and the
S: Yes, that started before I had left law school but none of those were in my class.
Now, I do not know whether any student in law school at that time got a J.D. or
not, but they were in college taking their preliminary work toward an academic
degree. I think quite a few did. I would say the best student in my class was
J: Why did you think he was the best?
S: He made the best grades. We checked up on each other all the time.
J: How were the grades posted?
S: I do not know. I think they were posted, though I am not sure they were. But
we students talked to each other.
J: You freely exchanged your grades?
S: Yes, we exchanged grades all the time. And like they say, those who made the
best grades usually did not make the most money. The ones who made the
poorest grades made the most money. Will Madison was the Jacksonville city
attorney for most of his law practice days, and he finally started getting a lot of
assistance up there. But he remained the top one, I think, until he died or
retired. That is about all he ever did. It was a good job wonderful job yet us
other attorneys made more money than he did.
J: Would you make more money out of your law practice without the other
S: Yes. Out of law practice.
J: I believe Sam Getzen was in the house of representatives at the same time you
were in 1925. Do you recall that?
S: No, I do not think he did, though he was in the house of representatives. He
was also a senator. In fact, he was a senator twice. Once from Alachua
County and once from Sumter County.
J: I have got a list.
S: He was one of the boys that slipped up and took the bar examination.
J: Yes, he was a state senator in 1931 and 1933. He was a house representative
from Sumter County in 1923 and 1925; and then in 1927 he was speaker pro
temps. In 1929, he was speaker.
S: He was in the house of representatives in 1925?
S: Is that from Sumter County?
J: Yes. This information is out of the Book of Legislators of Florida put out by Allen
S: I do not think he was in the house with me. If he was, I cannot remember. I am
pretty sure he was not. But he was in both the house and the senate. He was
elected senator from Alachua County one time and Sumter County another time.
J: He represented the 38th district as a senator in 1931 and 1933. Does that
sound about right?
S: Yes, that sounds about right. I was in the senate in 1935.
J: Now there was an incident with Sam Getzen and Judge Cockrell about 1925 at
the University. Do you know anything about that?
S: Well, like I told you before, they did not have any use for each other.But I do not
J: He presented some charges against Judge Cockrell. I think one of them was for
drinking in class or appearing intoxicated.
S: Now that you mention that, I do remember.
J: Can you tell me what you remember about it?
S: I do not remember anything other than just hearing about it. I have forgotten.
J: Nothing came of it from what I understand. He just presented those charges
and wanted some action taken against him.
S: And you can see what I told you at first about them not liking each other. I had
forgotten that until you brought it up. Now I remember. Funny how you forget
these things. If somebody else brings them to your attention you can remember.
J: Well, you have said that you think the caliber of students is superior to when you
S: Oh yes, very much so. And I have told you the two branches that were the most
different and improved.
J: Now I think there are four other lawyers in your firm that are associates. How do
you term those people? Are they your partners or associates?
S: They are my partners. They are all graduates of the University of Florida. The
firm is Savage, Krim, Simons, Fuller, Ackerman.
J: How does a recent graduate of the University of Florida come to you and say, "I
would like to be a part of your firm."? What is the process?
S: We usually take them in here and let them work for us during the last year they
are in college. Then we select them from that. Usually we do not try more than
one or two at a time. Usually one at a time. I do not know how they pick that
one, but if he is good we keep him; if not, we do not.
J: Were you able to clerk for lawyers when you were in law school?
S: No, it was unheard of. That was the worst part about it.
J: You could have done it if somebody had told you.
S: You could have I guess, but I do not know whether they even allowed you to do
J: Do you remember Alto Adams, or Fred Mellor, or any of your friends doing that?
S: No, I do not. I do not think it was done.
J: Do you choose people from the University of Florida exclusively?
S: Yes. Every student we have gotten in here we took in later; and they were all
from the University of Florida. I am from the University of Florida, Fred Krim is
from the University of Florida, as is Gary Simons. We have just done that.
After all, Florida graduates rate high on the bar exam. A larger percentage from
the University of Florida get in the bar from taking the exams. It is pretty good to
have the bar. I think the bar examination is very good.
J: Did you have a term on the Florida State Board of Bar Examiners?
S: No, I have never been on that.
J: How many students from the University of Florida Law College give you a call
and ask if they could clerk here?
S: Quite a few. Lots of them write us a letter and give us their background. We get
the one we want to work with us. That is the way we do it.
J: Thanks for sharing your time today.
S: You are welcome.