Sara O'Neal, Sam Thompson, Alfred Seymour
April 20, 1999
24 pages Open
In this interview, three people with ties to Olustee and the Osceola National Forest
answer specific questions about the camp. On page 1, they talk about the train and
waiting room, and page 2, the electricity in Olustee, powered by its own dynamo. Page
3-4 contain info on the hook-and-bag mail system used at the camp, and page 4, the
telegraph and radio operator. On page 5, a description of the inside of the depot is
given (see also page 11). Information on the train is contained from pages 12-15.
On page 6, the interviewees discuss recall the turpentine and timbering work done at
the camp (see also page 19), and on page 7, share reasons for why they entered the
Civilian Conservation Corps. Page 8-10 contain anecdotes about requisition from Fort
Benning, Georgia, and making moonshine. Page 10-11 also contains their memories
about doing plays and dances at the camp for entertainment (see also page 23). They
recollect more on turpentining, and recall specific others associated with the camp on
page 17. Schooling is covered on page 15-19 and 22-23.
The trio talk about the practice of stealing families for the turpentine business on page
20, as well as government help during the Depression on that same page. The CCC's
value in teaching trades is covered on page 21. The interview concludes with an
anecdote relating the determination of their peers to work their way up in life (page 22-
Interviewees: Sara O'Neal, Sam Thompson, Alfred Seymour
Interviewers: Cindi Cerrato, Greg Lussier
Date: April 20, 1999
O: You could just go to the window and purchase the ticket. Then, you stand out in
front and wait for the train. You go up on that platform, and you stand up and
T: That is the way it was.
C: Sara, did you ever go in the waiting room with them?
O: Yeah. I went into the back of the outward waiting room to the black waiting room.
We went back there but, most of the time, we would stand out in front on the
tracks and wait for the train.
C: Were there chairs and benches in the waiting room?
O: There was one. It was, like, two benches, one big speaker, like maybe one here
and one here, and you walk in and sit down for the train. The front of the station
was, like, for the white. They'd go in, and they could go up to their window into
the front of the station. They could go in there. We would go up. We would walk
up to the station. We would go right to the window and get our tickets, and then
he would go around and unlock the door, and you could go in and sit down and
wait in the back until the train comes if you want to. We'd always go out and play
on the tracks.
C: So, you didn't go into the station master's room or the cargo room or anything?
O: I'd usually stand up on there, on like this.
T: The platform.
O: And look all into that.
C: Do you remember back then if there was electricity in Olustee?
T: I would think there must have been because there were several stores operating
on U. S. 90.
C: Did you have it at the camp?
T: We had electricity in the camp. We furnished our own. We had, what they
called, a dynamo.
O: A dynamo. That's what I think most did before they run the lines here. That's
what most were using was the dynamos ...
T: That is what they had.
0: ... That they'd hook up to like a business or something. They would use those.
C: I was told there weren't any phones through the 1940s here. Were there phones
when you were here?
O: Hm-mm. [No.]
T: Well, I remember the telephones, the old-time telephones that you wind the thing,
and you get the operator. Then, you tell her what you want. That was good back
then. You didn't have this, if you want one, push two; if you want two, dial three,
and that sort. [Laughing.] You didn't have that then. You wound that thing, and
you got the operator, and you told the operator what you want. I mean, it was so
simple back then. So simple.
C: So, they did have phones in Olustee when you were there?
T: Yeah. They had phones.
C: Okay, because I was told that they didn't have phone service until the 1940s.
That is why we wanted to find out.
T: Now, that may have been a connection with the forestry service, from various fire
towers, etc., etc., and they, in turn, hooked into Southern Bell in Lake City.
C: Did you have phones at the camp?
T: Yes. This is where we called from.
C: Okay. Well, that is pretty modern, then. When you all got your mail, did your
mail come to the camp?
T: The mail? No, we had a truck that go to town and pick up our mail.
C: So, it didn't come on the train? Because we were wondering if it came on the
train or not and if there was a big mail hook out on the train near the tracks.
T: Yeah. There was a ...
O: Post office there.
T: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There was a post office.
O: We mailed our mail at the Olustee Post Office.
T: We also had that truck Willie Crickett bought. He drove the truck to the post
O: He'd come up, and he'd pick up the mail.
C: So, the mail didn't come here by the train?
C: Oh, it did? Do you remember, did it have a big mail hook? They had these big
mail hooks that they could just keep going and just throw the bag right on top of
the hook as they went by.
T: Yeah. They had something there that messages and everything was placed on
this hook. You are right. They would throw the mail bag out and, by the same
token, an arm would reach out there and pick up the outgoing mail. I guess
maybe that would reel it in.
O: They'd bring it in, and they'd throw out the mail for us. They'd throw it off, and
our mail would go on it, kick it back in.
C: Well, do you want me to keep asking the rest of them? They didn't go into the
depot, Greg, so the rest of the questions do not pertain. They had phones, so
they didn't have to worry about the telegraph. All the rest of the questions were
provided they went into the building, and they didn't. Did you ever have to send
a telegraph that you had to go into the depot?
T: Not necessarily. I don't think. We did have the tic, tic, tic, tic.
O: You would give him what you wanted to send off, and then he would telegraph it.
C: Was the Western-Union-like office at the railroad station?
0: I guess they would do that because when you wanted to send off a message, like
a Western Union, you would go there and give it to him, and he would send it.
Like, where now you have to go to a Western Union place, and they send it. But,
you would do it here; you could do it at the depot.
T: Excuse me. We also had a radio operator that did things like that. I don't know
whether it was a network of CCCs or not, but we did have a radio operator. In
fact, in the book that I showed you the last time that I was here, it showed a radio
C: So, you really didn't have to use the telegraph at the station.
T: No, no, no. This was, more or less, a regional thing or statewide thing or
something like that whereby the CCC camps were connected with the other
C: Okay. Greg, question?
T: Shoot them to us. We, we rollin'. [Laughs.]
C: Well, the questions I had written down here are ones you cannot answer
because of the questions before.
T: Ask them anyway. Let's see what you had in mind.
C: Well, we just wanted to know the inside of the depot, the different rooms and
what you saw.
L: Or the outside? Do you remember if they had big turpentine barrels on the
O: There were big old barrels just on outside on that part that went all the way
C: But, there were no seats, were there, outside to sit on?
O: There weren't any seats to sit on.
T: There was a bench or two outside; there was a metal bench on the outside.
C: On the platform? Metal or wrought iron?
T: There were big red barrels that was either full of water or something.
L: Of turpentine.
T: No, it wasn't turpentine. You can tell a turpentine barrel. [Laughs.] Turpentine
barrels had drippings on the side of it and things like that, and I don't think they'd
manage the turpentine barrels there along where the passengers lingered. They
were, more or less, on the big wheel cart or something like that.
O: It would be further down. We had the field thing that we cooked the turpentine
and all that. We used to have a big field just across the way, where
Marshall lived. We used to have a big field over there where we do the barrels
and take them off for the turpentine.
L: What about the timbering? Did you ask about the members seeing the logs
going down the railroad at all? Do you remember ever seeing that?
C: They had not worked on any of those other rails.
T: We hadn't worked on those, what you call them, spur lines.
C: But, did you see the cars coming through when they attach here? Did you see
them come through this number?
T: No. The only thing we saw back then that was nearby where I was and where, I
guess, Seymour was, was those big skidders. Now, the skidders would bring
the log in. Now, what they did with them, I can't even remember.
O: They'd be loaded on the train.
T: They'd load them on the train.
C: Did they? Did they travel by train, loading up the timber?
O: Like they used to do the cut wood. The cut wood used to go on the train too.
T: Oh, that wood territory-_ on skidders! I had to do that for fifteen [fifty?]
years. [Everybody laughs.]
S: and lift it up and lift through. They called it lifting.
C: I guess back to the CCC, just a couple of other little questions I did not have
written down. I assumed the both of you joined the CCC for money because I
know it was back during the Depression.
T: We joined the CCC because, number one, we were poor. We wanted to get out
of the general rung of things whereby there was nothing to do. Bored and sitting,
you get into trouble and all that sort of stuff. That's why we joined the CCC
camp. In addition to that, we heard that, and we realized that, the little money
that we were getting was comparable to a lot of money that they are getting
today, but they were sending a good portion of that money home to take care of
C: Well, that was a requirement, wasn't it, that so much of it went back to your
T: That was definitely a requirement.
C: Do you remember how much you made when you first joined the CCC?
T: I first got thirty dollars a month, and then you got to be an assistant leader, and
you got thirty-six. Now, each time, twenty-five went home. So, either you got
five, or you got eleven. If you got to be a leader, you got what?
T: Forty-five dollars.
C: Not really much, huh?
T: Oh, it was big money.
S: At that time.
O: It was big money back then. You could get all your groceries for ten dollars.
C: Well, I had interviewed the man who was the ranger here from 1935-1937, and
he first starting working here in 1931, which was also during the Depression.
Actually, he made good money. He worked the fire tower, over where we just
were, and he got paid 100 dollars a month. So, that was really good money,
twenty-five dollars a week.
S: That was good money in those days.
C: Of course, you had everything supplied though, right? You food, your clothes,
everything. You didn't need money except for your personal things.
S: Yeah right. Some kind of smoke, cigarettes or whatever.
C: But everything else was supplied to you, so you didn't need anything else.
L: Tell us about some of your experiences at the camp.
C: Yes. Any unique, unusual experiences?
L: Or Sarah, tell us about some of the things you remember from the depot.
T: Comicals? I'll tell you a comical one. We used to get our supplies, let's say, we
get a requisition from Fort Benning, and then we buy locally, on the local
market. Their department would buy some food that didn't go well, like bananas
would spoil quickly; apples and grapes and all that sort of stuff sometimes would
spoil a little quicker than you could use it up. That's one of the reasons why we
always had a lot to give to those transfers that go buy on the train. In certain
cases, it would go bad, and they didn't know what to do with it. So, I felt that we
would tell them to save it. Then, we'd get a big jug, a big pot, and put them
grapes in. [Laughs.] Put those things in.
O: Let it work.
T: Yeah. We let it work.
C: Full of water and sugar? [Laughs.]
T: But, we didn't know what we were doing because we would put them in gallon
bottles, and then we would call ourselves hiding our treasures. We would go out
somewhere and dig up a hole and put it in there and cover the whole thing up. In
about three days, you see a mound of dirt there and a mount of dirt there.
Wherever we put a bottle, there was a mound of dirt because stuff bursts, you
know. We didn't have sense enough to let it air out. So, we learned something
there: never bury a bottle without giving it some air.
C: Well, I was told from that ranger, you should have gone to Taylor's because
that's where the moonshine was; that's what they were doing up there.
T: They were all around. Sometimes, we would go through the woods, and I told
somebody down there, at the monument-that's what we used to call that place
down there, the monument. See, that's another word that I hadn't used in a long
time. We would see a wisp of smoke. Now, these were the young boys on
Saturday afternoons, Friday afternoons, Sunday afternoons, with nothing to do.
You get to walk through the woods, and you see a wisp of smoke, and you stop
S: And you can get you a drink of moonshine.
T: And you come on back to the cabin and sleep it off.
S: Come back to the cabin. Did you do that too?
O: Who I wouldn't? God no!
C: Yeah, but you knew all these people.
0: I was just a little kid. I was running around about five or six.
S: We did all that the regular way
O: Be old enough to walk in the woods because, see, they used to come to my
house, to our house, from this teacher, Ms. Brown and Ms. Townsend, and
Esther Callanough used to be the school teacher. They used to be there at our
house. I mean, my aunt and uncle used to live with them. That's how we got to
go to the CCC camp a lot because those guys would come up, and they would
do plays. You all used to do plays for the school and come up, and we had play
night. You all would perform for us. Then, we would go down and try to play for
you all a fun new thing, any devilish purpose playing and stuff like
L: What about that Quartet? Did you ever go? Did any of you participate in that?
T: We weren't members of it, but we had quartets. We gave a concert, and we
gave wonderful dances. Ooh, for the dances, we would draw from all around,
from Jacksonville all the way, almost, to Tallahassee.
C: That was the thing. You got the young ladies to come up to the camp, right?
O: They would go out for a big night.
C: Now, were you too little, Sara, to go to the dances?
O: Oh yeah. I couldn't go to the dances. My cousins and those, they were old
enough because they were dating some of the guys at the CCC camp, some of
them, friends. They'd date the guys, and we'd run behind them, you know, if they
talked it, then they walked it. We'd ride and look them right up in the face and
see what they said to the boys, and we'd go back and tell it. [Laughs.]
T: We learned conservation then that was beneficial.
C: I was going to ask you a few of the depot questions but, obviously, if you hadn't
been in the depot, you really can't.
O: You see, you don't go in it. But, we could stand up and look in because he had
all the little works was right around the windows.
C: That big bay window?
O: That big bay window where he worked at and when you bought your ticket, you'd
get it from right there. You might go back over to the back or something and do
something, maybe like a telegraph or whatever thing. It wasn't too much into the
depot, inside of it; the area that they worked with was right in that window, so you
could stand up and listen. The only thing we would really go there for is a ticket.
We could play on it when there wasn't trains, when it wasn't a workday or
something. Like, on Sunday, we might walk over and play around there because
you could go all the way around the bend, go to the back, or go up the steps, and
walk all the way around to the front window and come back down the steps and,
then, play around the front of it. We used to do that. But, normally, when
somebody was going to catch the train, like on Sunday, well, we would walk up,
but you would already have your ticket. It'd be you bought a round-trip ticket. To
come from Jacksonville, you bought a round-trip ticket to go back to Jacksonville.
And you had your ticket, so you knew what time the train was going to run. So,
all you do is walk up and wait. But you had to flag it down.
C: Oh really?
O: Yeah, because he wouldn't be at a call in Lake City to say, you'll be picking up
two passengers in Olustee. But that way, the train would stop because they
already had the message that they would be picking up two passengers in
Olustee, so they would stop. But on Sunday, you had to flag.
L: How far ahead did you have to get?
O: You'd get a big white handkerchief, and your train is coming, and you've got to
do it just like this.
L: Oh no. You're kidding!
C: Isn't that funny?
O: Yeah. You start flagging like this, then when he see you, then he'll, woo, woo.
So, you know then, you'd step off because he'd see you. You got to keep doing
it until he recognizes.
C: Otherwise, he kept going.
O: Yeah. See, when you flag, you hold it up, and you keep flagging. When he give
you the signal, like woo, woo, when he get close enough to you, he'll honk the
horn, the whistle on the train, to let you know that he see you. So you step off,
and then he'll start slowing down.
C: So, you had to get right on the track.
O: You'd get off the track.
C: But you had to stand in the middle of them to wave them down.
O: So, he'd be coming, like when they're, say for instance, up here and you down
the road, let's say right where he is now but right over in there, well, you start
flagging and, then, he'll finally see you and, then, he'll start slowing down. But
now, if it's a weekday, you wouldn't have to flag him because Mr. Charlie
Coleman would be in the station. He would call Lake City, and they would get
the orders for them that passengers would be in Olustee.
C: Was there a certain schedule during the week that it went, like, back and forth to
Jacksonville and Lake City?
O: Well, see what it was, a train going to Jacksonville, it'd be like one time in the
evening. Say, it'd go back to Jacksonville, like, four o'clock in the evening or five
in the evening or something like that. It'd come through here going back to
Jacksonville. Coming from Jacksonville, it'd probably get here about one o'clock.
C: In the afternoon?
O: In the afternoon, coming from Jacksonville. So, you'd catch it earlier out of the
station in Jacksonville to come here. If you was coming from Jacksonville here,
you'd go to the to beat the place in Jacksonville and catch the train.
And, you come on here. You can get off here, so that the train would be here at
one o'clock. So, if anybody wanted to catch it to go to Lake City, they could
catch it at one o'clock and go to Lake City, like that. You see, they got the little
Amtrak up there now. They have a little station up there where you catch it
whenever it comes through. So, they had the big depot in Lake City too. You
could go there to catch the train, and you could catch the train coming back here
too. They'd put us off here. Like if we missed the buses and we couldn't get a
bus, we go on down on Railroad Street and catch the train and come home
because that's the only two ways you had to get home. We didn't have cars and
stuff like that. You see, we even went to school on the bus. We catch the
Greyhound bus to go to school. We'd ride from here to Lake City on the bus.
C: When you were a kid, how much did it cost to go to Lake City on the train? Do
O: I can't even remember now, but I know it wasn't much over thirty or forty. It was
about sixty cent on the train and, maybe, about thirty cent on the bus.
C: Was that one way? Sixty cents?
O: Yeah. On the train. The train was a little bit higher than the bus. Now, the bus,
we used to get a whole riding book for two weeks for two dollars and sixty cents.
My mama used to by riding books all the school year, and the riding book costs
two dollars and sixty cents for two weeks.
C: That's kind of expensive, though, for the kids to go school back then.
O: Yeah. Three of us was going to school.
C: What year was that?
O: That was, maybe, in the years from 1942 to 1947 because I graduated in 1947
from high school, and she was buying us riding books. I went to Lake City ninth,
tenth, eleventh, and twelfth. I went four years in Lake City. Then, they put a bus
on later. They put a school bus on, this thing they use to call the icebox, a little
thing about we were just jammed in to go to school. They finally gave us that.
Then finally, they put on a big bus then, but I was out of school then.
T: Do you remember the little car train that used to run from Jacksonville to
Tallahassee? I guess this, maybe, was during the time when everybody was
going to streamline the trains, when they first starting talking about streamlining
the trains. It was a noisy little thing. It was about as long as a good size bus. It
had rails on it, and it was kind of low to the ground. That's what would take the
legislators from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. Early in the morning, you could
hear that thing rattling down the tracks.
C: So it wasn't for public use?
S: Oh yeah. We called it a streamline.
T: There was just one coach. And another thing I wanted to talk about was the fact
that it seemed like there was a store. They had turpentine.
O: Oh, it was the Commissary. The Commissary was right down there where we
lived, right under those pecan trees?
O: Okay. That was the Commissary. It used to be right there. It was like a building;
they had offices in it. Their houses was across the streets over here, you know.
But, the way to go, not before you get to the store there but right down that line,
all that way. They had houses, like where the wood rider would live in one
house, the boss man lived in one, and whatever.
C: For the CCCs?
T: No, no. This is private turpentine
O: Turpentine. Yeah, where those camps was there too, and then the depot.
T: I'm trying to think of that man's name, the one that I remember that was in charge
of that store, that Commissary there.
T: Howard? Yeah. He later moved to Lake City.
O: Hm-mm, and then his son took over.
C: Was the Commissary just for those people, or could you go in them too?
O: Nobody could get from there but the people that worked for that. We had to get
through the store, but the people that lived over, you see, they had quarters all
back into there. All back down there.
C: That's the one across the street from the battlefield?
O: Hm-mm [no]. That's right here, right up there.
T: It's right here in town. Right across from the depot.
C: Okay. Where the log cabin is?
O: Right past that on down; all back into there was a turpentine camp.
T: You see, the turpentine people have, I guess maybe you might call it, a life of
their own. The boss man, the owner of the turpentine mills, would lease the
woods, you know, to do the turpentine and all that sort of stuff. He looked out for
his people, those people that worked for him. That's when you talk about the
seven-mile camp ...
C: There are a lot of camps there.
T: ... they would establish little camps, or little establishments, in various parts of the
area that they had leased. They would set those little cabins up and, sometimes,
they'd stay there a long time.
O: They'd stay there a long time because, Ms. Daniel, she taught out there. Ms.
Daniel, right down here now, taught at the seven; that was her first school. She
came out of college; that was her first school she had to go. We'd take her every
Sunday and, after, she had to get somebody to take a ride with her. She'd go
out to Seventeen Camp and stay all the week to teach.
C: How did she get out there? What did she ride on?
O: We get somebody with a car, and they would take her. Her mama would find
somebody, maybe, that could take her out there. They would take her out to
Seventeen Camp. She'd take all of her things for the week, her food and
everything she had to take out there to live for the five days. Friday evening,
she'd come in, home, and stay the weekend, and Sunday, she had to get ready
and go back out. She stayed out there, and that was her first job when she came
out. Most all of them, when they come out of college, that would be their first job
teaching. They would get one teacher school like that and work in it.
S: There would be a test for it.
O: Yeah, to see, would they be a good teacher, not like
C: So, was it the one-room school?
O: One-room schoolhouse and all the kids in there, and you teach however high it
goes, like first, second, and third, or whatever she would do. Maybe, three
grades or whatever in their schools. When they get how high they would go,
when they would leave that school, they would have to come into the higher
S: And go into town.
O: Like up into MacClenny or Sanderson or High Springs.
C: That was before they had the school in Olustee?
O: No, they had to come to Olustee. That's what they did. We had a school in
Olustee, but our school only went to the eighth grade.
C: That was for the black kids?
O: For the black kids. We had it right down here, down from where I live. It was
right off of Possum Trot Road. We had a big old white school with a big old yard.
The government fences came beside it and all. The government surrounded
us. They had to change some stuff, and we had the school line there.
T: It was the government boundary line
O: When they get through out at the seventeen-mile camp, they had a cart. The
boss man would furnish a cart to bring the kids, the ones when they get into the
sixth grade or seventh grade or whatever. The cart would bring them to Olustee
to our school. They would go there until they graduate from eighth grade to ninth
grade. Then, they would have to go from wherever.
C: Were these camps mostly black?
T: That's all.
C: Oh, they were?
O: That's all they were.
C: All the turpentine camps?
T: Who else would do that kind of work?
C: Well, I don't know that.
T: See, that was one of the low jobs, they would call it.
O: They'd be scraping, digging. Low job, then.
C: Yeah, but it was also during the Depression. It was a job. You know, a lot of
people would do most anything.
O: The people would almost buy the people, you know, would you come to that job?
C: You had a company store, like you were saying. You had a company that you
bought from there.
O: We would go see the people and bring them back. You know, if I want to leave
this turpentine job, I don't like this boss man, we need to go to this one. He'd do
you better. Well, they'd go in at night and steal them out, the families, and bring
them. That's how a lot of people got to Olustee. They were stole from Alabama
and other places and come here.
C: See, I didn't know that, so all the camps were black. Because, like I said, there
were at least fifteen turpentine camps back in 1930s, that I know of.
O: They was all black.
C: Like I said, during the Depression, you know, my family's from the big city, but
still, there wasn't food and jobs.
O: That's what happened out here.
T: But you had a lot of government help or something like that, didn't you?
C: With my family, actually, my mother's family was lucky enough that they had a
business that they supplied rich people. They weren't rich, but they supplied rich
people. So, they always had some income.
T: In the inner cities, they had a lot of federal help. When I say federal, I mean
government help. So, this is one of the things that we looked at and our parents
looked at, and this is also one of the reasons why they encourage us to go to the
CCC camp. If we wanted to make something of ourselves, that's what they
called it: if you want to make something of yourself, you go to the camp and be a
good boy. That's what they'd always say because they did not get the prescribed
help that other people would get, other races were getting.
O: Then, you all would learn trades too, then.
T: Yeah. There was a possibility of doing an awful lot. You expanded yourself
when you got to the CCC camp.
T: You expanded yourself, you see. It was there, whether you used it or not.
S: At that time, it was one of the best things that could have happened. It took us
off the streets.
C: I wanted to ask you, Mr. Seymour, did you know how to cook before you went to
S: No. I learned. One of the best things that ever happened to me.
C: Did you ever work as a cook after that?
T: Always his love.
C: Well, see, I didn't know that.
O: because we used to cook at
S: And the Corn Cupboard.
T: And then, you went to Holiday Inn.
C: So, you did learn a trade, then, that was useful for the rest of your life.
S: Yes. We just happened to be young, and it took us off the streets.
C: Because I know, especially most boys didn't cook. Their mama and their sisters
S: Right. I know, and I loved it.
T: Oh, it's good to reminisce and see where you come from, where you came from,
what you did, and all that sort of stuff. It's really good. Because it wasn't easy
0: I was usually crying going to school. You were so cold. And we had to run
behind the bus and stuff. We had to come all the way from down here, all the
way up in, we call it, the station, up there to get on the bus. But, the bus driver
would run by us and go up there and park and go inside the little bus station.
We'd just be running, trying to get up there to that bus, and it'd be so cold. Then,
we'd get to Lake City, and we still had to walk about-how far was it, wasn't it
about-a mile towards Richardson when we get off the bus? About two miles.
S: Well, it seemed.
T: At that time, yeah.
O: Hm-mm. Boy, it would be so cold. We get there, we'd be crying and have to go
into the classroom.
S: It was about two miles.
O: It is two miles from that bus station to Richardson. We've had to walk it when we
get off that bus. We had it tough, boy. If the kids now don't want to go to school,
and you go to step out the door ...
L: Drive them all the way to the door and they complain.
S: Well, we had to be running and all kinds of things to get to school. Some kids
used to, before they were doing that, the kids had to get a room. You parents
had to find somewhere for you to go at whatever city you could go. You had
people you had to go and live with them. Some kids had to sleep on the top of
their lockers and stuff, to try to go to school. It was rough, to go to high school.
We did make it, but it was hard. Then, some of them went on to college, but it
was tough, you know, they had to go like that. St. Augustine Memorial, they went
to that. You had to pay, and it was hard to get the tuition fees to try to go to
school, maybe, say about 200 or 300 dollars to try to go for a semester then.
They didn't have the money. They'd be at the
T: Even then, it was hard to get that money. Now, you're talking about the
Quartets, the schools that did some of everything to try to raise money to help
indigent children, and that was all of them. There's where the Quartets and the
choral groups and all that came in because they would buy and old school bus
and fix it up where they could travel with it. Then, they'd go from city to city and
try to sing to raise money so that they could have some money for the school.
C: But they'd bring it back to the local schools where the camp was.
T: No, no, no. This is for the college. We're talking about the college now. Oh, we
graduated from the local school.
C: No, but I mean it's for helping out some of the local kids. That's great that they
T: Exactly. See because, number one, most of the kids who could go to college at
that time were poor-well, we all were poor-but the parents did encourage them
to go. I knew a man who left Lake City walking and went all the way to Tuskegee
in Alabama, thumbed his way. He left Lake City walking. He worked himself up.
He said, oh, it took a lot of us, it took a lot to bring him back down. Sometimes I
get so fooled. He worked himself up to be a Bishop in the Methodist Church.
That shows you how ambitious he was, from walking to school; Tuskegee is,
what, 900 miles, maybe 1000 miles from Lake City. He went up there and took
up ministry, and he also took up carpentry; that was to fall back on. My brother
went there, and he took up carpentry. He went to Miami. That's where we were
living at that time. He couldn't get a job as a carpenter. As a finished carpenter,
he couldn't get a job. So, you know what he did? He went and got him a couple
of lawn mowers. And you know what he had when he retired? About fifteen
people working for him. He had about five trucks and a nice home. That's what
it took. You had to have the determination. I wish everybody in the world,
everybody in the United States, could have lived through that period, the way we
had to live through. I just wish that.
S: Hm-mm. It's been an experience.
T: Oh, it's time to go home now. I think, maybe, I'll run out because I'm getting old.
L: Well, we appreciate it.
C: Yes, we appreciate you guys stopping by.
S: And we appreciate you too. We appreciate you listening to us.
L: If you don't mind, we may use some of this or some of that in the depot, like one-
to two-minute excerpts if that's okay?
T: Yeah, that's all right.