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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
55 pages- Open
June 12 & August 1, 2000
Cason talks about How he came to work with James McEwen as a partner in the firm of McEwen
& Cason (pages 1-3). He talks about how he left the law firm and opened up the Brandon State
Bank in January, 1961 (pages 4-5). He describes how his bank came to be part of Sun Bank
(pages 5-6), and goes on to explain how Sun Bank merged with Trust Company of Georgia to
become known as Sun Trust Bank (pages 6-7).
Cason talks about politics in the Hillsborough County area (pages 9-10). He discusses the plans
for transportation expansion that went on in the late 1950s and early 1960s (pages 10-11). He
talks about the primaries of the election of 1960 (pages 11-12). He discusses the Farris Bryant
campaign in Hillsborough County. He talks about who was working with him and who was
working against him (pages 13-15). He talks about the members on the Road Board and his own
term on the Road Board (pages 15-17). Carson describes the other elections he was involved in
over the years (pages 18-21).
Carson describes the crime scene in Tampa during the 1950s. He talks about the underground
gambling practice and the Mafia (pages 22-23). He talks about Sam Davis being a crime-buster
in Tampa at that time (pages 23-24). He recounts the growth of Tampa beginning with the
creation of a sanitary sewer district about 1954 (pages 24-26). He talks about his experience as
city attorney for the city of Tampa (pages 26-27).
Carson talks about his term on the Florida Road Board beginning in 1961 (pages 27-32). He
talks about how they paid off the Sunshine Skyway bridge (pages 29-31). He discusses the
peoples' feelings about Interstate 4 being built so close to town (pages 31-33). Carson talks
about the I-4 merge with 1-75 and how it came to need expanding (page 33-35). He describes
one preacher in particular who had a big problem with this road expansion (pages 35-56). He
talks about the changes to the roads in Tampa during this time and the battles and planning they
went through to get those changes (pages 36-40). He discusses the planners and the engineers
that worked on these roads (pages 40-42).
Cason talks about how urban renewal affected the different neighborhoods at the time (pages 42-
43). He discusses the issues they had and are having with the portion of 1-275 that has Tampa
International Airport on it and the expansion expectations everyone has (page 43-45). Cason
talks about the Tampa Port Authority and the transportation issues it brings (pages 45-47). He
discusses George B. Howell and the influence he had on shipping and banking in the Tampa area
(pages 47-49). He talks about the banks in the south and the pros and cons they had on society
(pages 49-52). Cason discusses the large developments in Tampa, particularly the airport, and
some of the issues people had with the developments being where they were (pages 52-55).
University of Florida
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Interviewee: Warren Cason
Interviewer: Alan Bliss
Date of Interview: June 12 & August 1, 2000
B: It is June 12, 2000. I am at the residence of Warren Cason in Tampa, Florida.
Mr. Cason, you graduated from the University of Florida Law School in 1950. Is
C: That is correct.
B: And I understand that you went to practice law first in Orlando, Florida?
C: I went with a law firm in Orlando as an associate to Pleus, Edwards & Rush, for
the first year and two months.
B: How did you happen to select that firm to work for?
C: In 1950, when everybody got back from the service, there was a great deluge of
students coming to the University of Florida, and other universities and other
colleges. The law school was absolutely overcrowded with students and
graduates. The main thing then was to get a job. There were a lot of lawyers who
graduated who were not able to get a job practicing law with the firm that they
chose. This was a fine firm that did a great deal of things, including primarily, in
my case, real-estate transactions, including the examination of abstracts, writing
title-insurance for Orlando Federal Savings and Loan, and a good deal of
litigation, both of which I worked in. In 1951, I had an opportunity to come to
Tampa as a legal assistant to the probate judge, which at that time was a judge
at the county judge's court (now a part of the circuit court) and get an education
in probate trust and estates in a one-year term that I could not have gotten in law
school in three or four years. So, I chose to come to Tampa, having been from
Plant City, as well as my wife, [who] was from Plant City, and went to work for
Judge William C. Brooker, who was the county judge and the probate judge,
and I got a great deal of knowledge on probate trust and estates from my one
year at the court. It was invaluable to me. Later on, after I left there, I went into a
firm with James "Red" McEwen, who was a former Gator second-stringer.
When we had the great team in 1928, he was second-string quarterback. He was
just elected to state attorney, and he and I formed a firm. I left the judge's office
and went to work as a partner in the firm of McEwen & Cason. That lasted until
December 31, 1960, at which time I decided to go on my own and form a firm,
which I did, which eventually evolved into the firm that I merged with Holland &
Knight in 1989.
B: How did you come to learn about that opening with Judge Brooker?
C: Well, having been in Plant City and raised outside of Plant City about five miles, I
knew the people in Plant City. The president of the local bank, the Hillsborough
State Bank, was a very close personal friend of Judge Brooker. They had been
in the First World War together. They were good friends. He told me that there
was an opening, and as a result, I came down and interviewed during my
vacation time in October of 1951. That is when I decided that I would come on
HIL CO 73 page 2
back, not to Plant City but to Hillsborough County, to practice law.
B: Did you see at the time that that job was going to be beneficial to you in terms of
helping you learn about probate in the states and trusts?
C: Yes. Otherwise the job itself, just to be a clerk to a probate judge, it is a dead-
end street if you are going to stay there the rest of your life. I did it simply from an
educational standpoint. I knew that there was an opportunity to learn firsthand
what it would take to really be an excellent probate and trust lawyer and an
estate lawyer. That is the reason I took the job.
B: And you stayed at that for one year?
C: One year. Then, in the latter part of September in 1952, James M. "Red"
McEwen, the state attorney, and I formed a partnership and practiced law as
McEwen & Cason.
B: How did you form your acquaintance with Red McEwen? I understand he was a
former Gator, but he was older than you by a good bit.
C: Red graduated from school...well, he was on that 1928 team, so he was
considerably older than I was. Red had some estate practice, probate practice,
and as a result, he would come into the probate judge's office with problems
about how to handle this particular estate or this particular matter in an estate.
He and I got to be friends over a period of time, and that is how it happened. He
offered me the job. Obviously, it was something I was looking for because a year
is enough to learn all you are going to learn in the probate judge's office. I had
no idea that Red was a [Gator] when I came to Tampa to work for the probate
judge. It would not have made any difference anyway, but that helped solidify our
B: Where was your office when you and he started practicing together?
C: It was in the old First National Bank building. The building had thirteenth floors,
and we were on the thirteenth, which a lot of people would think may be a bad
omen, but it was a lucky floor to us. From there, we moved to 416 Pierce Street,
which is directly across the street from the courthouse, in a new building that was
B: Your whole specialty, when you started out with that firm, had revolved around
the estates and trusts?
C: No, not all of it. There was a great deal of litigation. Red and I handled the first
big malpractice case that I was aware of, medical malpractice. There was a
doctor here by the name of Baldor. He was a Cuban who came here to practice
HIL CO 73 page 3
medicine. I am sure he had a degree and was licensed to practice, but he was a
quack. He had what they called a coch-shock treatment, which turned out to be
nothing but purified water. A client came to us having lost his whole bottom jaw
from cancer on his lip that could have been excised surgically very simply and
easily, or radiated maybe, and he would never have had any problem. But this
guy, he was afraid of surgery, and so am I, now, too. He did not want surgery,
and as a result, he ended up going to this Dr. Baldor, who sold him on the deal
that a few shots would correct it. The shots were very expensive, and this was a
nice old guy from the country who just wanted to get rid of the little sore on his
lower lip. It kept getting progressively worse and worse, and, finally, they had to
excise the whole jaw. His tongue would be hanging down almost to his chest. Of
course, obviously, he kept something over it. In the trial of that case, we did get
permission from the court to let the jury look at the client, without a jaw, without it
being covered up. I am not sure that did not have some effect on them, I am sure
it did, but it was fair because of the fact that he had lost his jaw. As a result, the
whole medical profession wanted to move [Baldor] out of town. They wanted to
get rid of him, disbar him, as we call it in the law practice. So, we had no problem
about specialists [being witnesses], and the very best who were trained in cancer
treatment, including the big group from New York. (I will think of the name in a
few minutes. I talked about it last week.) They came down and testified, and all
the local doctors volunteered to testify. We got a $65,000 judgement in 1953,
which was the biggest judgement that had ever been gotten in this area.
Obviously, now, a $65,000 judgement is nothing, but in 1953, it was something,
except we were not able to collect but a very few dollars. Maybe out of the
$65,000, we collected for the old man $10,000, and we did not charge him
anything. But the doctor left and went to Cuba. We got rid of him.
B: Was there such a thing as medical malpractice insurance?
C: At that time, you could not buy insurance.
B: You just had to go self-insured?
C: People realized what he was. An insurance company would not insure him. That
was one of the first big litigation cases that I participated in. We did both. I
handled most of the estate work and probate in the office. Red was state
attorney, so part of his time was spent doing that. At that time, a state attorney
did not have to be full-time. I guess about a third of Red's time was taken up
there, and the other half, basically, for Red, was litigation. Now, he was a great
B: What was his specialty?
C: Anything that came along. Red was a lawyer who just loved practicing law and
loved litigating, loved to try cases. He would spend as much time on a $10 case
HIL CO 73 page 4
as he would a $1,000,000 case. That was just Red. Red and I had a discussion
about it and I said, Red, I do not want to practice for the rest of my life just on
this type [of] law. I would like to expand and get into banking and finance and
other fields. So, I filed a charter with the state to get a bank approved out of
Brandon and got it approved just before we broke up, before the termination of
our partnership, which was on friendly terms. Red and I both agreed it was the
best thing to do. [The bank] opened January 5, 1961. I was sworn in as a
member of the State Road Board on January 4, flew home, opened a bank the
next day, Brandon State Bank.
B: When did you first get interested in the banking business?
C: That is where the money is. That is what whoever robbed banks said. They
asked, why do you rob banks? He said, that is where the money is. That is not
really true. Obviously, I had a feeling all along. There was one bank in Plant City
at that time. A couple of others had been there, and they had gone broke during
the Depression. The people around the bank were, although we lived way out in
the country and went to town on Saturday nights and Saturday afternoons, my
mother had gone to high school in Plant City and lived in Plant City and knew all
these people. I got to know Mr. Arthur Boring, and he [was] the gentleman who
was friendly with Judge [Brooker]. But it just occurred to me in the very beginning
that banking had to be a good business, and Brandon, where we lived at that
time, was a growing community. I felt like Brandon needed a bank. The First
National Bank of Tampa said, well, all they need out there is a place to cash
checks. So, I went to the Exchange Bank, which I did business with, and they
said, well, we think it is ready for banking, and we would be glad to assist you;
we will be the correspondent bank (which you have to have when you first open
a bank anyway. All through the banking time you are open, you have
correspondent banks.) It was an era and an area. The era was there, and the
area was great, just growing. Today, it is unbelievable what is out there. When I
filed the application in 1959, we had a group of people. It was a civic venture,
really, of people in Brandon who wanted a bank. I became involved with them. At
the first meeting, when it looked like we were going to be successful in getting a
charter, we had an election. Let me go back a little bit. In order to get the
subscribers, at that time, you only had to have $300,000 to start a bank. Today,
the regulators would not even talk to you at less than $5,000,000, and that is the
way it should be. But back then, $300,000 was worth, probably, $1,500,000 now.
So it was enough capital. Brandon was not a rich community. It was a group of
old farmers, an old farming section. On Saturday night, I would take a card-table
and go down to the local hardware store, and next door was a local grocery
store, and I would take subscriptions from people who wanted to subscribe to
stock. That is how we got our subscribers. We got to the point where we had the
$300,000, so we had a meeting to elect the officers and the board of directors.
Frankly, I would have said, I sure would like to be elected secretary. That way, as
secretary, I could be representing the bank at the same time. Well, as it turned
HIL CO 73 page 5
out, I was elected to the board, elected president and chairman of the board of
the bank. That surprised me. I did not realize, had no idea, that would happen.
Anyway, we went ahead and bought a piece of property right in what was then
downtown Brandon and built a building. The building is still there, but it is not a
bank building anymore. I think it is doctors' offices now. A very nice building, and
it opened up January 5, 1961. In 1982, we had been approached by a half-dozen
of the different holding companies that were expanding and growing in Florida at
that time. In the beginning, you could only have a bank. You could not have
branches when we started the bank. You could have a subsidiary bank, but you
had to have half the stock owned by our stockholders, the Brandon State Bank
stockholders. We formed one of those at Riverview, the Bank of Riverview.
Then, a little later on, they said, well, if you want to put a branch in, you can put
within a mile of your main office. So, the board of directors put up the money,
and we bought a location within a mile of the Brandon State Bank home office.
But we never used it. Banking was moving so fast at that time that the first thing
you know, they had approved that you could branch anywhere within the county
but you could not branch across county-lines. Then, the next thing you know, you
could branch across county-lines, and the next thing you know, you could branch
across state-lines. Today, you can go anywhere. So, we had a monopoly on the
market out there for, oh, twelve or fifteen years, before another bank moved out
B: Was that because bigger banks could not branch themselves out into that area?
C: Well, once we opened the bank, at that time, it was not necessary to have
another bank. It probably would not have been economically feasible. They could
not prove to the regulator, the bank commissioner, that we needed another bank
in that area. As time went by and the town grew--it was not incorporated, by the
way. It was an unincorporated community of Hillsborough County. Barnett Bank
established a branch there, but by that time, we were so far along that they really
did not affect our business. But in 1982, and in the early 1980s and the latter part
of the 1970s, all the holding companies were coming to Florida, and all of them
were offering to buy banks. I originally looked at one in Fort Lauderdale named
Landmark Bank, which, after looking into it very closely, I was not satisfied with.
B: To clarify, you were considering offers from banks.
C: Yes, because they were going to locate next door to us and we knew it was
going to be tough.
B: And Landmark was one of these that was shooting offers?
C: Landmark was not even in the picture to move out there. Landmark owned a
bank in St. Petersburg, and the president of that bank, the CEO of that bank,
was a friend of mine. He talked to me about them making us an offer to acquire
HIL CO 73 page 6
Brandon State Bank. We looked at them, and it was not satisfactory. I did not
think that holding company would ever go very far, and as a matter of fact, it did
not. It was acquired by somebody else. Then, there was Sun Bank in Orlando. I
had gone to school with Joel Wells. Joel was a year or two behind me in law
school, but I knew him and he knew me. He came down to Hillsborough County
and said, we ought to go see Warren Cason and see if we can buy that bank and
put it into our system. They had a bank in Dale Mabry that they acquired, on
Dale Mabry right over here as a matter of fact, but it was not doing anything to
speak of. Then, Joel and I spent a good deal of time together along with Billy
Dial, whose daughter is the president of the University of Florida Foundation
now. He was a real mover-and-shaker in Florida. He is the one who was
responsible, basically, for getting Disney World where it is. Billy, of course, was a
long-time friend. He knew a lot of people, and he came to see me. He and Joel
made an offer, we negotiated it and finally made a deal, and we became a part
of Sun Bank. At that time, it was Sun Bank.
B: How did you know Billy Dial?
C: Through membership on the State of Florida Road Board. He had been on the
Turnpike Authority and had been active in politics. So, I knew him through
politics and then through membership on the Road Board and other friends. He
was a good friend of Howard Frankland [former Road Board member, Tampa
businessman and banker; namesake of the Howard Frankland Bridge across
Tampa Bay], and he was on the board of the Atlantic Coastline Railroad, and we,
being the city of Tampa, were trying to buy all of the Atlantic Coastline property
along the river from Franklin Street north to Fortune Street, which was all
warehouses and needed to be cleaned up. Billy was active in Atlantic Coastline
on the board, and he was helpful in getting it done. Then, when we merged with
Sun Bank, I became a member of the Sun Bank board in Orlando, the big board,
the holding-company board, and chairman of the board of the combined banks
here, Sun Banks in Hillsborough County. Then we merged the Sun Bank of
Pinellas County into Sun Bank of Hillsborough, and I became chairman of that
board. That was a good bank when the merger was completed. The combination
of the two made an excellent bank. Then, in 1984, Joel Wells started talking
about doing something with one of the big banks in Atlanta, or out of the state of
Florida. They corresponded at Sun Bank with Trust Company of Georgia-our
correspondent bank in Atlanta was Trust Company of Georgia-and, as a result,
started dealing with Trust Company of Georgia. Joel was the one who really put
it together. He was a great visionary. He could see things down the road that was
going to happen that other people could not. It would blow your mind because
there was no way other people could see as far in advance as he did.
Unfortunately, Joel passed away with cancer after we merged with Trust
Company of Georgia, I guess probably 1989 or somewhere along there. Anyway,
the legislation had not been approved by Congress to allow the merger of Trust
HIL CO 73 page 7
Company of Georgia and Sun Bank of Florida at that time. On July 1, 1985, it
became law that we could merge, and that is when we actually did merge the
two, on July 1, 1985. I then became a member of the board in Atlanta, and we
still had the bank board in Sun Bank in Orlando. Later, we phased that out
because it was not really necessary, so we just had officers of the holding
company become the directors of Sun Bank/Florida. The rest of us who were not
officers in the corporation went off of that Sun Bank board and stayed on the
Sun Trust board in Atlanta. That is basically the banking business. I was
instrumental in forming two or three other banks. I helped Ellsworth Simmons
[is this the former Hillsborough County Commission Chairman, ca. Early
1950s?] and a group form the bank in Sun City.
B: When was that?
C: I would say 1965, 1966, somewhere along there.
B: And what was the name of that bank?
C: Sun City Bank, or Bank of Sun City.
B: Did that eventually become part of Sun Bank as well?
C: Yes. We represented a group that formed a bank in south St. Petersburg, known
as Pinellas State Bank, but that was sold individually to somebody else. I was
not on that board. I just represented the group, as a lawyer. I stayed on the Sun
Trust board until I became seventy. When you become seventy, your nearest
birthday to the annual meeting, you go off the board. That is the requirement, as
the requirement is also that if you were an officer or employee of the company,
at sixty-five, you have to retire. So, I retired from the Sun Trust board five years
ago. The meeting was in April, and that would have been my last board meeting.
But since then, I have been very active in both banks, Sun Trust here and Sun
Trust in Orlando. I am on a committee, a board of the private banking group.
What we do is, to become involved with the private capital group, you have to
have $5,000,000 that you want [the bank] to invest for you. I am a member of
that board. I am a member of our trust committee, on the board here, the Sun
Trust Bank in Tampa. So, I am still actively involved in the bank, although not
officially on the board.
B: You said it was 1985 when the law changed in Florida.
C: It changed nationwide.
B: That was a federal law that allowed you to merge across state-lines?
C: Yes, across state boundaries.
HIL CO 73 page 8
B: So that did not have anything to do with the Florida legislature or Florida state
C: There may have had to been some law passed by the state to authorize it, too. I
do not recall, but the key was the federal banking law.
B: Backing up a little bit here, I guess you answered my question by saying, it
sounds like, you had always been at least intrigued by the banking business.
C: I thought it was a good business to be in. It was a good group to represent. I
mean, representing a bank, I thought at the time and it turned out to be
rewarding, financially and otherwise. I felt like a banking client would be good for
the firm. That is when I filed the application. Subsequently, Red and I dissolved
[the firm], and [the bank] became a client of my new firm.
B: Did he continue as state attorney during the whole time you practiced together?
C: No, Red served two terms. He was elected, I think, in the 1952 election for a
four-year term, and then he was re-elected in 1956 for a four-year term. His term
expired, obviously, in 1960. He then became a member of the Gibbons law firm,
which is a big law firm here. Sam Gibbons, a former congressman, had gone to
school and was very close to the older Gibbons, Arthur Gibbons, particularly--
Sam's uncle. They all went to the University of Florida.
B: Okay. Did Red run for another term in 1960?
B: You said you were living out in Brandon when you got started and organized the
Brandon State Bank.
C: Actually, they called it Mimona, but it is the greater Brandon area. It is between
here and Brandon, about two miles from what was then downtown Brandon.
There was not even a traffic light in Brandon, so I do not how you call it, really,
downtown Brandon. But from Parsons and 60, at that time, was the center of
town. It was about two miles west, right north [Route?] of 60 on a lake.
B: At that time, your office was right downtown in Tampa, as you said. How long did
it take you to drive from home to the office then?
C: Fifteen minutes, no traffic.
B: Not a bad commute in those days.
HIL CO 73 page 9
C: And in the meantime, they completed 60 from Adamo Drive and 60 out to 301,
so it became a straight shot then.
B: Did you live out in Brandon the whole time you were in practice with Red?
C: No. Actually, we moved before the bank was open, in 1957. We had three
children, and they were going to school in town.
B: In town, meaning in Tampa?
C: In Tampa. I would bring them in the morning, or, if I had something else to do or
was out of town, Dot would bring them. It got to be quite a drive, you know, a
taxi-cab operation, so we moved to town in 1957 but moved back to Brandon, to
Valrico, which is another part of the Brandon area which is a little on the
northeast of Brandon, on a lake there in the middle of a big orange grove. A
beautiful home. We lived there a long time. That is where the children grew up.
B: But still going to school here in Tampa.
C: Yes. By that time, one of them was old enough, well, not quite old enough but it
was not too long before one of them was old enough to drive,. So she would
drive them all to school.
B: When did you first get involved in politics here in Tampa and Hillsborough
C: Well, Hillsborough County, from the word go. I supported Dan McCarty for
governor when he ran. I believe it was 1952.
B: He was a Gator.
C: Right. So was John, and so was his other brother. You know Dan died early on. I
really got involved in governors' politics in 1959 when Farris Bryant [Florida
governor, 1961-1965] asked me to manage his campaign from the central west
coast of Florida from the Kissimmee River to the Gulf and from north Hernando
County down through Naples.
B: From around the Withlacoochee River south?
C: Just about.
B: Was it your idea to carve it up that way?
C: No, it was not really carved up that way. I was just handling the west coast,
which included all those areas. Our headquarters were here in Tampa, but we
HIL CO 73 page 10
had some headquarters in Pinellas County and Polk County and all over. We
three offices in Tampa, one in downtown on Tampa Street, one in Ybor City, and
one in West Tampa. Of course, Doyle [won Hillsborough County] because he
grew up in Tampa. He went to school at Plant High School.
B: Who was that?
C: Doyle Carlton, who Farris ran against. We came within 300 votes of winning
Hillsborough County, and that really was the key for him being elected, Farris
Bryant being elected.
B: That was a close election?
C: Very close. I remember we had some experts from upcountry. I do not remember
who they were now, but they showed us what would be the key to the election,
and that was what became to be known as the 1-4 corridor, from
Clearwater/Tampa/St. Pete to Daytona Beach through Orlando. Within that big
geographical area, that was the area where we thought we could win the
election, but we had to do well in west Florida. We figured that Farris, being a
conservative, and Doyle, basically being a little more liberal, and that is purely
and simply socially, I mean, that was what the common perception was at the
time. Doyle and Farris were no different. I mean, they both felt the same way.
Doyle would have been a hell of a governor, would have been a great governor. I
did not know Doyle Carlton, but I came to know Farris Bryant through a group of
people here in Tampa, John Hammer being one of them, the Cones being
others. Through them, I got to know Farris Bryant.
B: Who is John Hammer?
C: John Hammer was a very successful life-insurance man here in Tampa who had
gone to the University of Florida, and he had somehow gotten to be friendly with
Farris. I do not know how. The Cones were friendly. They were road-builders. All
of the road-builders were basically friendly with Farris. For what reason, I do not
know. I guess they felt like he would be fair in the building of roads throughout
the State of Florida.
B: Did Doyle Conner and Farris Bryant both believe that it was important to improve
transportation and build more roads?
C: No question about it.
B: Everybody then pretty much believed that, did they not?
C: At that time, we were just beginning our big expansion in Florida, in the late
1950s and early 1960s. Yes, no question about it. Our road system was
HIL CO 73 page 11
antiquated and had to have something done.
B: You mentioned the 1-4 corridor when you were doing your political planning for
the Bryant campaign. Did they use any language like that at the time and kind of
use 1-4 as a symbol of tying this area together?
C: 1-4 at that time had been designed. I mean, they knew where the corridor was
going to be, but it was not 1-4, the road itself. It was the area. Pinellas County
was obviously conservative. Hillsborough County, with the exception of the Latin
and the black vote, was conservative, particularly east and south Hillsborough
County. Polk County was conservative. So, going across, you had a conservative
strip all the way across. We had big maps showing the population. We
discounted to a great extent Miami and Fort Lauderdale, particularly Dade
County, for several reasons. We did not think we would do well there.
B: Carlton wound up doing well there?
C: Carlton did well, but we did pretty good. We did not come close to carrying it. We
did not expect to. We came closer in Broward County. As you go up the coast,
you get more conservative. Then, when we got to west Florida-the Tampa
Tribune came out that evening about ten o'clock. The Tribune used to come out
about nine o'clock, and you would go downtown and buy one when they were
giving them to all the people that distributed them.
B: This is the Tribune, not the [Tampa] Times?
C: The Times was still in existence, but this was the Tribune, and the Tribune had a
headline, "Doyle Carlton Wins"... a big headline. That was just like the Harry
Truman headline [referring to the erroneous Chicago Tribune front page
announcement of a Thomas Dewey victory in the 1948 presidential election], you
know. That was on the night of the election.
B: This is the Democratic primary we are talking about.
B: And that was in 1959, so it would have been about August or so.
C: No, that would have been in 1960. The election was in 1960. They always take
office in the odd years. Elections are in even years. Our election primaries then
were at different times than they are now. Now, I think our primaries are in
September. Back then, our primaries were in April, May. So, we had a long time
between then and the general election. Anyway, when we won the Democratic
primary, the general election...I do not even remember who was running, to tell
you the truth, so it was not a problem. So the election was a primary. I have that
HIL CO 73 page 12
newspaper somewhere, but I do not know where it is.
B: I am going to look for it on microfilm.
C: If you go to the Tribune, in their archives, you will find it. It will be in whatever the
election was in 1960 for the second Democratic primary.
B: There had to be two primaries?
C: Yes, because you had John McCarty, and you had Bud Dickinson [Fred O. "Bud"
Dickinson, later State Comptroller], and oh, you had a half dozen people in that
race. Of course it ended up with Farris Bryant and Doyle Carleton running off
against each other.
B: So there was a first primary with a big fracas, but were any of the rest of those
candidates-you mentioned John McCarty, and Bud Dickinson...
C: John McCarty probably went with Doyle Carlton. They were better friends than
Farris was with either one of them. I did not even know Doyle Carlton at the time.
I had met John McCarty. We had polls that showed that, really, the one to worry
about was John McCarty, one of the reasons being the lower east coast. He was
from down there, and we thought he was going to be a real factor. It turned out
he was not. Dickinson jumped in and helped Farris in the second primary, and
when he did, he came to see me and said, you know, I have to make a decision
about what I am going to do; I would like to support Farris, but I have to know,
you know, four years from now, I am going to run again. That was his first race.
So, I said, if you really get in here and really support Farris, I will support you four
years from now. Because Bud Dickinson was a good man. He just got carried
away with himself talking. He could have won that election, but he lost it.
Anyway, he came in and helped us. I do not even remember who the others
were in the race, but they were not major players. One of them was Fred Karl,
[later Judge, later Hillsborough County administrator] I think.
B: The governor was a four-year term then, or two years?
B: But Farris did not think he wanted more than one term?
C: I think you were restricted to one term. He had all he wanted, and most
governors do. Today, you can go two terms, so most of them do. I guess [Bob]
Martinez [governor from ] and [Haydon] Burns [governor from] are the only
ones who got beat before the second term. But you have Graham [Bob Graham,
Florida Governor 1979-1987, later U.S. Senator] and Askew [Reubin O'D.
Askew, Florida Governor 1971-1979] and others, and Lawton [Lawton Chiles,
HIL CO 73 page 13
Florida Governor 1991-1998, previously U.S. Senator], who won the second
B: That would explain why LeRoy Collins [governor from] was not running again in
C: LeRoy Collins, if you recall, they let him run for the unexpired term of Dan
McCarty's term [and] he was actually there almost seven years, so he could run
again after that. Subsequent to that, they changed the law so that you could
serve two terms.
B: Who else was active with you on the Farris Bryant campaign in Hillsborough
C: We had Billy Poe [William Poe], who became mayor of Tampa. He was active.
We had a bunch of young people who really got out and busted their rear-ends.
Most of them were Jaycee people, Junior Chamber of Commerce people, who
really got carried away and did a good job. We had some good supporters in
Ybor City and in west Tampa.
B: Even though those are liberal areas?
C: Yes, but we played some games with them. I say we, but I did not know anything
about it at the time as the manager. I found out that what was going on was, at
that time, one of the big things in an election was to give people rides to the
polls. You would have a ballot printed, and obviously, you would highlight the
[candidates] you wanted voted. Well, we knew where basically in Ybor City that
Carlton had his ballots, and in west Tampa, and those were the two areas where
this transpired more than in the other areas of Tampa. I found out later that
probably some of our people printed up some ballots. Instead of having Carlton's
name, it had Bryant's name there. We would take them to the polls and they
would vote, and hopefully they voted for us. Another trick that they played
was-and I did not know you could do this because we never had a telephone in
my home until my brother and I got back from the service in 1946, and we got
Mom a telephone-or electricity, as a matter of fact, or running water-but we
found out that if you called a number-each of [our campaigns] had a number to
call if you wanted a ride to the polls. So, we would call their number, go to a
payphone, call their number, and did not hang up, just left the line open, and that
tied up that line. We got a lot of complaints about that, and I told our people we
should not do that, so they stopped. After the election I told them they had to quit
doing that. It was a very interesting election, to almost beat LeRoy Collins'
people, because LeRoy, if you remember, was for Carlton. He went to Miami,
made a big statewide speech the night before the election, in Miami, for Doyle.
Farris and I were down there. At that time, I was traveling with Farris Bryant. I
was in the studio. Farris was very bright. He took a briefcase with him and he
HIL CO 73 page 14
kept pulling things out, and Doyle did not know what he was pulling out. You
know, he might throw something out: well, here is a question I want to ask you,
and he would read it. Doyle did not do a good job in that. Excuse me, I am
wrong. The one I am thinking about, that was Doyle's telecast. He had fifteen
minutes, statewide television, which was expensive. Today, it would really be
expensive. But prior to that, Farris and Doyle had a debate on television. That
was very early on, that anybody ever did that. This was out of the Miami office,
too, the Miami TV station. Farris carried his briefcase with him, and he kept
pulling things out of there and looking at them and making notes. It made Doyle
very nervous, and Doyle did not do as well on that as Farris. Farris was a hell of
a speaker. He could articulate very well what he wanted to get across. Doyle was
just an old common Florida cracker whose father had been governor and who
was wealthy, because they owned thousands of acres of land. Unfortunately, he
had bad acne when he was a kid. I do not know if you have ever seen him or not,
but his face was really in terrible shape. So he was not attractive on television.
And they had some very expensive people from the north, New York or
Washington, that were his PR people, advertising. They came up with one ad
which, in effect, said you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. That really
played against him, because we used it. It was, you sign your name on my back
and I will do this, or whatever.
B: This was Doyle Carlton's PR people?
C: That is right. His advertising people came up with it, and nobody could ever
understand why. They were professional people. Every campaign hired their
advertisers and PR people and polling people. By that time, the governor's races
and all were getting involved in that. This was maybe the first time I was aware of
it. So, he had some big shots from New York City, and Bill Squires was a poll-
taker. That was early on in the 1960s, so he was just getting started. But there
were advertisers and PR people that each candidate would have, and you paid
them so much to come up with your advertising, to design your billboards and
the wording on it and to tell you what you should be concentrating on in the race.
Of course, somebody from New York had no more knowledge, about what you
ought to be concentrating on down here than anybody. But everybody had them.
They thought it was important. Farris had a group of people that made that
decision about what we should do now, what we should concentrate on, where
we are going to pick up votes by taking positions that we feel people will be more
amenable to us than the other side. Obviously, in west Florida, it was very
conservative, especially at that time, and that is what turned the Tribune around.
Those were the last [votes] to come in. A lot of them were an hour behind us in
voting anyway. The first that came in were big cities, and Doyle was way ahead.
That is when the Tribune said, well, he is a winner. But as each county starting
coming in, going west, we started picking up, and we passed him. If you could
find that [headline], it would be interesting. It would be a Democratic primary in
1960. In the Republican [primary], I do not even know who ran, but they would
HIL CO 73 page 15
have been an also-ran, anyway.
B: At that time, was Pinellas County becoming more Republican, or still Democrat?
C: At that time, there had been a couple of legislators elected from Pinellas County,
Bill Cramer, [U.S. Congressman William Cramer] probably, and Goldner [St.
Petersburg Mayor Herman Goldner] were the first two, and it became, and I
guess it still is, basically Republican.
B: It is indeed. I did not know if it had gone that way then but even the Democrats
were conservative then.
C: I am not sure how we ended up in that race. It would have been a very close
race, probably. We probably won it. But that would have not been the deciding
factor. It would have been the general election. I do not know whether the
Republicans really voted Republican very much because they [were] usually
also-rans that were running. Anyway, after the election, I got a call. Farris had
announced his chief administrative aide was going to be Jimmy Kynes, a great
All-American football player at Florida and practicing law in Ocala, from
Marianna. He was very active in Farris' campaign, and Farris named him his
chief administrative aide. Jimmy was there the whole time, the whole four years
with the exception of the last few months when Farris had appointed him
attorney general when somebody left the attorney general's office, I believe.
Jimmy lost that race by 300 votes. That had been the 1964 election, and that
was the best thing that ever happened to him, to lose it, because he went to work
for Jim Walter [James Walter, Tampa-based manufactured-home builder and
entrepreneur] and did very well. He was going to practice law with me. He came
down, we were at a conference, and he said, well, Warren, I obligated myself to
go see Jim Walter; he asked me, before I made a decision, to come by and say
hello to him, and I am going to go out and pay him my respects, but I will be right
back. But he never came back, which was fine because Jimmy was a good
friend. He died of cancer, and one of his sons died of the same cancer. Jimmy
called and asked me if I would entertain the appointment as the State Beverage
Commissioner. This was during the period of time from the election to the
inauguration, when you are putting together your team. And I said, no, Jimmy, I
would not be interested in that job. That is a cesspool. I mean, there is so much
going on in that department, I just do not want to have anything to do with it. So,
Farris called me and said, Warren, I would like for you to be on my Road Board,
which surprised me because my wife is first cousin to the Cones, who were the
biggest road contractors in the state at the time, the Cone Brothers, [and] were
off the bid-list for bribing inspectors for the road department along with about five
or six others of the big contractors. So I was surprised. He said, I would like for
you to be in my office in Ocala on a certain time on a certain day, and I said I will
be there. That was his headquarters. Farris was practicing law in Ocala when he
ran. He was born and raised there, and was practicing law there. We had a
HIL CO 73 page 16
meeting, and when I had gotten there, I had heard through Jimmy who the
members were going to be. There are five districts, and they are the original five
congressional districts that they diwied out years ago when we had five
congressman. Mine was number one, Hillsborough County. This area was the
first district and it included Polk County and Pinellas, everything from Hernando
County through Lee County, over to the river [referring to the Caloosahatchee
River, in Lee County, or the Withlacoochee River, in Hernando County?],
which is basically where I ran the campaign, too. So, I went up there and I saw
John Phillips, who was there from Lakeland. He was one of the supporters in
Lakeland. A former road-builder, retired, very wealthy and helped raise money. I
said, what is he doing here? You cannot have two from one district, so I was a
little confused about what was going on. As it turns out, when we sat down and
had the meeting, John was going to be chairman of the road board. He just
happened to be from my district. I was the member from this district, and then
there were four other members: Max Brewer, who was a campaign chairman
from Titusville; John Monahan from Fort Lauderdale [also a member of the
Turnpike Authority] ; a guy from Lake City, Ralph Powers; and, in west Florida,
Billy Mayo, whose father was commissioner of agriculture for forty-some-odd
years, an old, old name in politics in Florida. Those were the five members plus
B: Every time a governor came into office, he appointed a whole new Road Board?
C: Well, your term expired on the day the governor's term expired. What happened
in this case [was] they all submitted their resignation, both on the Turnpike
Authority and the Road Board, because they knew that their term was up. They
were good friends of mine. Howard Franklin was a member of the Turnpike
Authority, and he was from here. He talked to me and said, Warren, what do you
think I ought to do? I said, well, Mr. Franklin-he was Mr. Franklin to me because
he was a hell of a guy, a self-made man, very wealthy, had done it all on his
own-I said, if it were me, Mr. Franklin, I would submit my resignation, because
you know at 12:00 that day, you are going anyway. He said, that is my feeling, so
he did, and he talked to other members of the group and they did the same
thing. So there were not any hard feelings. I do not know if there ever is. I guess
there could be a situation where the one serving could be a good friend of the
incoming governor and with the understanding of I am going to stay on. I had the
great fortune of following Al Rogero, from Clearwater. He was Collins' appointee
and got in all kinds of troubles. He was tried criminally for several things and was
B: During his term on the Road Board or after?
C: No, after he had gone off. Anyway, he was accused of buying property on
interchanges and a bridge going to Fort Myers, going across. He was accused of
HIL CO 73 page 17
all those kinds of things. They never proved it, but as a result, everybody was
very careful. I would have been anyway, but I was extremely careful about being
sure that I am not or none of my family is buying any property where I know a
road is going. But Al was a good friend. We cut a ribbon over there while he was
still alive. He has subsequently died. I invited to a ceremony because he was a
friend of mine. He was a former high school football coach at Clearwater High
School when I was in high school. He was a teacher and a coach and then went
in the insurance business. He was a University of Florida man.
B: How did Collins come to appoint him in the first place?
C: I do not know. I never was close to Collins. I guess, probably, he was very active
in his campaign, and somebody who gave a lot of money maybe insisted on it or
something. I do not know, but Al was a good guy. I think maybe some of his
friends just took advantage of him. He was acquitted and never convicted of
anything, and I am glad.
B: When Governor-elect Bryant first asked you about the Road Board, did you feel
disposed to accept right away, or did you hesitate and think things over?
C: No, no. I think that was a position that was very important, that gave you the
opportunity to meet people and be with people who later on could be helpful in a
law practice, particularly, and, basically, that is what happened.
B: Did you feel strongly about transportation in those days? Was that something
that had been an important issue for you?
C: Not particularly important. Obviously, at that time, there was not that much of a
problem because Florida really had not started growing yet. After the [Second
World] War, people started coming down here, and it was just becoming a
problem. That was not the reason that I...I did not ask Farris to be on the Road
Board, saying, in effect, Farris, here is something I have been interested in all my
life, and I want to help the road system. That did not happen. It was not a great
thing in my life.
B: But you served a full term on the Road Board.
C: I did.
B: Let me back up a little bit. You had gotten involved in helping Dan McCarty, in
supporting him in his first election when he ran for governor in 1952. Did you
work in the campaign, or were you just a supporter of his?
C: Well, my wife's father was very active.
HIL CO 73 page 18
B: What was his name?
C: John H. Cone, from Plant City. He was a brother to the Cone Brothers
Contracting Company. An old family in Plant City, on the other side of Plant City.
He was active, and I did not really get out actively putting up signs, putting up
bumper stickers, and those kinds of things. I am not sure that was even a big
thing at that time. It became very big in our election, the 1960 election, but I
voted for him and obviously I was for him because Mr. Cone was. Dan McCarty
would have been a great governor.
B: What other elections did you get involved in, between then and when you worked
for Farris Bryant?
C: The first statewide election I got involved with was the Supreme Court. I still have
a file in my office, and a picture. In 1954, Steve O'Connell was appointed to the
Supreme Court by LeRoy Collins, and he ran for election. A group of us in
Hillsborough County, one of us, Neal McMullen, had gone to school with him.
He was way ahead of me in school. Red McEwen was very close to his brother,
who was the state attorney in Palm Beach County, Phil O'Connell. I met Phil
through Red, and then, of course, I met Steve O'Connell through Phil O'Connell.
Knowing how important the University of Florida was to Steve, I helped him in
that election. I still have my file with his picture. Subsequently, after he went on,
he was appointed to the Supreme Court, and then he went to the University of
Florida as president. He left, I think, in 1972. Later on, I opened that office in
Tallahassee, and Steve became, in effect, a partner in the firm, and it gave him a
place to go. He was retired from the Supreme Court, he was retired from the
presidency of the University of Florida, and he was a hell of a friend and a good
guy. So, I opened an office, and he got two other people to come in and staff the
office along with him until I broke up the firm in 1989, at the time I merged my
firm with Holland & Knight.
B: So you helped O'Connell when he ran for election.
C: I was on his committee. I remember meeting in a little office, in Neal McMullen's
office in the old First National Bank building. Then, people did not have big
spacious offices. They were very small offices. Neal was a good guy, and he
later on became a circuit judge and was a good one.
B: That is here in Hillsborough County.
C: Yes, in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. There are probably half a dozen of us who
were friends of Steve's, who got out. The first political speech I made in my life
was at a little gathering in Seffner, which is a little old bump in the road between
here and Plant City. The little city club got together, and I went out there and
made a speech for Steve.
HIL CO 73 page 19
B: What did you say?
C: I commend him to you. That was my last sentence. He was not that difficult to
make a speech about. A hell of a guy.
B: It has to be hard for a person to run for a judgeship because you cannot very
well promise anybody anything.
C: They have done away with that now. You do not have to run to be a Supreme
Court Justice. You can still run for circuit judges. I think they have a law that you
mark a ballot whether you approve what this guy has done or disapprove, and if
he gets more approved, he is elected. That way, you do not actually have to go
out and raise money and campaign, which is demeaning to a judge. But, at that
time, every judge had to run.
B: That was 1954. Any other campaigns that you worked in after that, up until Farris
Bryant? Any local elections for mayor?
C: Oh yes, every local election, basically county commissioners and the school
board. The mayor of Tampa had been the mayor a long time. He did not really
have any real opposition. Later on, I got very involved in local races, mayors'
races, for instance. Julian Lane was a friend of mine, and he ran against Nick
Nuccio, who was even a better friend. I supported Nick Nuccio, and Julian beat
him the first time. The next time, Nick ran against Julian and beat him. I helped
Nick both times. Nick was a good mayor. He never delegated anything because
he just wanted to be sure that it was done right. The newspapers did not like him
because, I guess, they thought he was one of the good-old-boy mayors, but he
did a good job. He was on the county commission for many years, too. Other
races, all kinds of races, local races, I have been involved in. Dick Greco, a
friend of mine, and I was very active in getting him to run the very first time he
ran back in the 1960s.
B: When he ran for Council the first time or for mayor the first time?
C: He ran for the Council and then for mayor.
B: When you came [to Tampa] to practice law, Curtis Hixon was the mayor, and
had been since 1943.
B: What is your assessment of him as a mayor?
C: I did not know Mr. Hixon that well. I do not know of anything he did wrong. I do
HIL CO 73 page 20
not remember when he left office.
B: He died in May of 1956.
C: Obviously, he would have had a race sometime between the time I came here,
because they were four-year terms, as I recall. They are now. I do not even
remember who ran against him. I did not get involved in that race. As a matter of
fact, I was living out in the country at the time.
B: When he died, he had just been re-elected to his fourth term as mayor. Did that
cause a lot of confusion or uncertainty in local politics, when he died?
C: Was that the time that J. L. Young was chairman of the City Council and
became acting mayor, interim mayor or whatever you call it?
C: That opened up the mayor's office for a whole bunch of people to get involved in
it, and I do not remember who all of them were.
B: Nick ran, of course, J. L. Young ran, and there were, as you say, several others.
C: Nick won that race, did he not?
B: Yes, he did. That was his first term when he won that special election.
C: Yes, he beat J. L., and then I guess the next time was four years later when
Julian ran against him. Julian was the campaign manager in Hillsborough County
for Dan McCarty.
B: In 1952.
C: Yes. He and Dan had gone to school together, I think. I did not get that active in
the campaign itself. I was active in the senatorial campaign in 1950 on campus
because I was still in law school part of that time.
B: The U. S. Senate campaign?
C: Yes, when George Smathers ran against [Claude] Pepper and beat him in
1950. I remember coming home one time and going to a rally, and Will Banks
from Alabama-Dr. Will Banks was a veterinarian, and his brother was in the
cattle business-were big Pepper supporters. Dot and I were not even married
then. Dot had gone on radio for George, and I went to a rally in Plant City while I
was still in school. I was surprised at these old crackers from Alabama being for
"Red" Pepper. Of course, George pulled some real tricks on him in that race.
HIL CO 73 page 21
B: Was Pepper as red as George made him out to be?
C: No, Pepper was just ahead of his time. Also, did you know that he matriculated
at the University of Florida? That is what George would say in west Florida.
Those people had no idea what matriculated meant. They thought maybe he had
molested somebody. He used all kinds [of tricks]. You look at that race. That is
an interesting race to look at and see, some of the things that George's people
said. George may not have said it, but he used a lot of big words that did not
mean anything except to the people who did not understand them. He
matriculated at the university, that sounds bad. But I was active in that race, and
so was Dot.
B: And Julian Lane apparently was active in that as well.
C: I am sure he was active for George, yes.
B: So you and Lane knew each other through your University of Florida
C: No, Julian was so far ahead of me. Julian graduated in the mid-1930s. He played
football and was captain of the football team in 1935 or something like that. I did
not start until 1946. I graduated from high school in 1943.
B: And then went in the service.
C: Went in the service. So I only knew Julian as a dairyman being friendly with Mr.
Cone, who was also in dairy business. Dot's father was a dairyman.
B: Where was Julian's farm?
C: Part of Tampa now. It is out on 22nd Street and Claire-Mel City. Basically, most of
Claire-Mel City was his dairy. As a matter of fact, I used to drive. We lived at
Brandon before 60 was put through from Adamo to 301. I would come that way
most of the time, instead of going through Ybor City. I would come through Palm
River and 22nd Street, right by Julian's dairy, on the way to town. Julian was a
good honest guy.
B: But you were friendlier with Nick Nuccio.
C: Nick had just done so much that I thought he deserved to be the mayor, and a lot
of my friends felt the same way. Most of them were active in Nick's campaign.
Julian did a good job running a campaign. Newspapers were for Julian. They
were always against Nick.
B: How did you first come to be friendly with Nick? When he was a county
HIL CO 73 page 22
C: No, I did not know him when he was a county commissioner. I do not really
know. My friends became active with him. Of course, when I first started
practicing law here, we took anything that came in the office, from two-bit
divorces to the biggest case you can get. I am sure some of them were zoning
cases which the city had to approve for land use. Somehow, I became friendly
with Nick over a period of time. Later on, after my term on the Road Board which
ended January of 1965, in December of 1964, I became county attorney. As
county attorney, you deal with the city a great deal, and that gave me an awful lot
of opportunities to know people and do things. It was not a very rewarding job,
not rewarding at all, but it was part-time. I guess I maybe made $5,000 or $6,000
a year salary, but I only went to the courthouse when it was necessary. It was not
a full-time job. When I resigned, I made a recommendation that they make it a
full-time job, and they did, about two years later.
B: Let me back up just a second to when you first came to Tampa. Were you in
Tampa when the [Estes] Kefauver [senator from Tennessee] hearings
[regarding organized crime] came to town?
C: I was practicing law in Orlando, and I remember Dot and I were riding home on a
Friday afternoon listening to the Kefauver committee in Tampa. Kefauver was
not here. He did not come, but others came. I do not remember the exact date of
when he came, do you?
B: I think it was 1951.
C: Okay. If it was before October 1, 1951, I was in Orlando. I remember that [one
of] the two people they were interested in talking to most of all was the sheriff,
who was Hugh Culbreath. They actually adjourned the hearing, went to his
home, and required him to open his safe. He had a safe in his home. There was
not anything in the safe, as far as I know. I think that is what the newspaper said.
They did not find anything in the safe, I do not think. They never filed any
grievance against him or anything. The other one that they wanted to talk to was
the state attorney, who was J. Rex Farrior, Sr., and he was in a hospital and
subsequently got permission to file written interrogatories and sent them to them
in Washington. He did not appear. I am sure they talked to him. At that time, we
had the county solicitor, the constable, the justice of the peace. We had the old
setup. Subsequently, that of course changed. They probably subpoenaed
Traficante [Tampa businessman and reputed organized crime figure Santos
Traficante] and some of those people, but I am sure they did not say anything. I
was not here at the time.
B: I gather they thought that bolita [underground gambling practice] had been
HIL CO 73 page 23
allowed to become a big business due to the patronage of certain...
C: It had become a big business, particularly in the Latin community, in Ybor City
and west Tampa. It took a dime to play it as I recall, but at that time, a dime was
a pretty good bit of money, as opposed to what a dime is worth today. Of course,
you had all kinds of people who supposedly were running the Mafia. My partner
was the state attorney, so I became familiar to a great extent with who those
people were. I remember when Charlie Wall was assassinated in his home, a
place with a wall, and he had a garage he pulled into and he had a safe area to
walk through that was covered on both sides and the top, but somebody got into
his house and cut his throat, I mean, butchered him. My partner, being the state
attorney at the time, said, do you want to go with me? I said, hell yeah. That was
the first time I had seen one of those assassinations.
B: So you went to the scene?
C: I went to the house when Red went. It was a terrible scene. The theory was it
had to be somebody who knew him to get in. I did not know Mr. Wall, never met
him, had no desire to meet him. He was related to the big family here of Walls,
the old Knight & Wall Hardware. There was a Dr. Wall here who was very
popular, very well-known, in the big family. Charlie just decided he wanted to go
a different way, I guess. I guess there was a Mafia at that time, whatever a Mafia
is. They kept killing each other off. I think there were about three or four
assassinations during the time that Red was state attorney.
B: They never did figure out who did kill Charlie Wall, did they?
C: No, or any of the others. I do not think they ever solved any of the big ones.
B: When do you think it was, that all of that became less influential around Tampa
and this area? Or less active?
C: I do not think it was as lucrative at that time or later on as it had been before.
Traficante basically became active in Miami and in Cuba and lived down there,
although his family was still here, most of the time. I guess we just outgrew it. I
do not know if you know Sam Davis? Sam Davis married a lady whose father
owned an insurance business here, and Sam went to work in his father-in-law's
insurance office and I think eventually ended up with it. Ayala was her name.
Sam was appointed by Dan McCarty as Beverage Commissioner and he was
also elected as president of the crime committee. Sam became a crime-buster
then. The Gasparilla crew-which is the one that used to put on the big parade
[referring to Tampa's traditional, annual Gasparilla pirate invasion and parade].
Now, the city and the county have pretty much taken it over. I think we still put on
a parade, but I have not been in one in fifteen years, I guess, or on the boat in
fifteen years--anyway, when they would have their annual meetings out at the
HIL CO 73 page 24
Yacht Club or at the old Tampa Terrace Hotel, in the ballroom, when they got
through with the meetings, they would set up these tables where you could
gamble, play cards or shoot craps or whatever. Sam went in there and busted it
up, and he was a member [Laughter].
B: What was his job when he did that?
C: He was director of the Beverage Commission, and you were not supposed to be
serving beverages. You could not gamble where you got beverages, and they
[didn't have a] license, I guess. Sam was a character. A good friend. He died two
or three years ago. He played football. He was the captain of the football team at
Florida about the same time that Julian Lane was, maybe a little before, and he
had two brothers who played there and had a brother that played at Duke,
Charlie Davis, who is now dead. That was an interesting sidelight.
B: You mentioned a crime commission that was working in Hillsborough County
then. Did they accomplish much?
C: I think they at least exposed to the public what was going on. Up until then, you
would read about it in the newspaper, not paying much attention. I am not sure
whether this was the Junior Chamber of Commerce or the Senior Chamber of
Commerce, probably the Senior Chamber. I think it was named the Crime
Commission, and a lot of big people in Tampa belonged to it. The purpose was
to see if they could not get rid of the name of being a big Mafia town. I am not
sure what all, if anything, they accomplished except they did bring it to the light,
so people became aware of the fact that maybe there was more to it than just
the gossip and the assassinations. I am not sure whether there were any
convictions or even charges were ever filed. I guess the newspaper would reflect
that. That was a sidelight on Sam. Later on, when I represented the county and
the Hillsborough County Industrial Development Authority, Sam was one of our
chairman in a series of years, and he would have to go to New York to sign the
bonds or to be involved in the closings. He would hold court when he went up
there, and he would tell all the people in New York about the Mafia in Tampa and
how his Crime Commission had busted it up, how as the director of the beverage
department he did these things. He was a hell of a guy.
B: I guess for Tampa to have a reputation for being a criminal community was not
good for selling industrial development bonds or recruiting industry.
C: Well, that happened long before the industrial development bonds, but it was not
a good image for Tampa to have. I think the Chamber of Commerce and the
Junior Chamber of Commerce both came to that conclusion. I think the Crime
Commission probably served some purpose.
B: It was in 1954 that the city of Tampa was first able to sell its sewer bonds, to
HIL CO 73 page 25
create a sanitary sewer district. Do you remember anything about that?
C: No. I was not active in city government at that time, but I would say that was
about the time that we probably needed a real sewer system that we did not
have, in 1954, because the city was growing. I do not know the date, but that
probably is about right.
B: Were people concerned about pollution and Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay?
C: Pollution, no. You know, once in awhile, you would read that a sewer-line had
broken and raw sewage was going into the bay, but that was a one-day publicity
thing and it was gone. What happened is, as people developed Tampa and [its]
environs, it became necessary to handle the sewage and the storm-drainage.
They had to do something. That was the beginning of the real growth in Tampa. I
would say it did not really start, though, until after that date but not very much
after that date, the date that you mentioned about the sewer bonds.
B: About 1954.
C: Yes. The city of Tampa had begun moving by that time. That was nine years
after the war.
B: There had been a lot of efforts to annex more territory into the city of Tampa.
Were you favorably disposed toward that? Did you support it?
C: The big one was the city of Port Tampa, which was actually a separate city out
by MacDill Field. That was a big thing at the time by some of the people there. I
think it was good for the area and I think it was good for Tampa, but there was
one guy in particular who opposed it and he walked all the way to Tallahassee to
appear before the legislature. I think you had to have special legislation to do it,
but that did not do any good. They accomplished [the annexation]. I cannot even
remember now who the mayor was at the time.
B: Do you remember what year that annexation was?
B: No, but it was probably in the late 1950s or real early 1960s. That is just my
guess. Since that time, of course, the City of Tampa has expanded considerably,
particular up north. I can remember when the city limit was Howard Avenue,
which is over here a pretty good ways. Then they moved out, moved out, moved
out. Now, you go, of course, to the bay. The big movement, though, is New
Tampa, which they call the area north of University of South Florida. That really
is growing, and it is sort of gerrymandered, too, but [Mayor] Greco felt like it was
important to get those people in the city. Obviously for tax purposes it is, if you
are going to furnish them the amenities they have to have. That was not a
difficult thing to do. The county opposed it, because the county wanted to keep
HIL CO 73 page 26
them in [unincorporated] Hillsborough County, but the feeling was that the county
could not furnish them the water and sewer and all those kinds of things that
they needed, and the streets and so forth. It made it easier for it to come about.
B: Has it always been that way? When the city has wanted to grow into
unincorporated areas, did the county always resist that?
C: The only one I can recall the county resisting was that, and that was recently.
B: So, in the older annexations, it had not been that big of an issue.
C: No, I do not recall there being any big squabble about it. There may have been
some people who said, I do not want to be in the city because I do not want
double taxation, but it never was a big problem that I knew about. At that time, I
[would or would not have been?] in a position to know about it, I guess. I did
serve as city attorney in 1978 and 1979.
B: City attorney or county attorney?
C: City attorney, for the city of Tampa. What happened is that Henry Williams, who
had been the city attorney, resigned after a long time and retired. That was two
years before [Mayor] Billy Poe's term was over, so he asked me if I would serve
for that unexpired time and I did. It was interesting. We did a lot of bond work
where we refinanced a lot of bonds and saved an awful lot of interest. They had
issued these bonds at a time when the interest rate was fairly high. We got them
refunded at a much lower rate, and it was good for the city. 1978 or 1979, I
believe it was. Congress was getting ready to pass an act which would have
done away with our right to refund under that type of refunding. We would have
lost our ability to refund those bonds, so it was important that we get it done. I
remember meeting in City Hall, and we had a fiscal advisor, Bill Hough [William
R. Hough, municipal bond consultant and founder of the firm by that name] from
St. Petersburg. A good Florida man and a good bond man. He was one of the
real experts in the state. But he was representing a whole bunch of cities and
counties and different areas on refunding. Everybody was trying to get it done
before the shoe fell, and nobody knew when that was going to happen. I
remember [listening to] him, and we had maybe a room this size. There were
probably twenty of us. I said, whatever you do, now, I know you have a bunch of
other things going on, but you are the fiscal advisor for this city and it is up to you
now to get this done. And if you do not get it done, the mayor is going to be
looking right down your throat, and so am I. So, whatever you do, it is goddamn
important you get this done. And we did it. We only beat it by probably three or
four weeks, but before the shoe fell, we got it accomplished. I guess I was the
only person who ever served as county attorney and city attorney, but not at the
HIL CO 73 page 27
B: Yes, you mentioned working as county attorney starting in about 1964.
C: 1964 to 1971 or 1972, somewhere along there.
B: How did that appointment come about? Was it the county commissioners who
appointed you to that job?
B: Collectively or the chairman?
C: No, no, it is elected by them.
B: As a group.
C: By a quorum. I mean, you are not a quorum, but a majority has to be in favor of
it. I was just finishing my term on the road board. I had done a hell of a job
getting [Interstate] 4 finished through here and getting started on [Interstate] 75
going north and getting a lot of other work done, and so it was not any big
B: I wanted to ask you more about the Road Board experience. I know you say that
you had not been particularly excited about transportation before you went on
the road board. Did you still feel that way when you finished your four-year term?
C: Oh, no. It becomes very obvious to you when you get involved. The problem with
most people, the only time they think about it is if they are riding on a road and
traffic jammed up or something of that nature.
[interview recessed until a later date.]
B: It is Tuesday, August 1, 2000. I am Alan Bliss at the home of Warren Cason in
Tampa, Florida, and we are about to begin the second installment of my oral
history interview with him. Mr. Cason, when we left off last time, we were just
getting ready to start talking about the state Road Board on which you served as
a member. You were appointed by [Florida] Governor Farris Bryant [1961-1965]
when he took office in 1961. He had called upon you at the end of his campaign
after he was successfully elected, during the transition approached you about
serving, and you had agreed. You accepted appointment and were sworn in.
That was the same time that you started Brandon State Bank, and then you
started service on the Road Board. Is that right?
C: That is correct. I [was] sworn in, in Tallahassee, on January 4, 1961. I flew home
on that afternoon, and the next morning, I opened the Brandon State Bank, on
January 5, 1961.
HIL CO 73 page 28
B: And if I understand correctly, up until you started service on the Road Board,
transportation issues had not been very significant in your outlook.
C: Not really.
B: But once you got into the meat of transportation on the road board, how did your
attitudes evolve from there?
C: The more of you become familiar with what the problems are and the problems
of funding, the more interest you have and the more information you get and the
more inside views, you see what the conditions are in the state of Florida. This
was a period shortly after the Second World War, actually about fifteen years
after the Second World War. Things had really started progressing in Florida in
the early 1960s. That was about the time when the need for road improvement
began to exhibit itself.
B: When I read through the correspondence between Curtis Hixon, who was mayor
of Tampa up until 1956, the transportation correspondence that he had was
mostly with your predecessor on the Road Board, Al Rogero.
C: That is correct.
B: The impression I gained from looking at that correspondence was that there was
a rather testy relationship at times between Hixon and Mr. Rogero, [Rogero]
being from Clearwater but the district appointee for the same district that you
C: I was not aware of any problems, even after I took over, because Hixon had died
in 1956, 1 believe, and I did not become a road board member until January of
1961. Until you mentioned it, I was not aware of the fact that there had been a
B: The gist of the issue appeared to be that Mayor Hixon felt that Tampa,
Hillsborough County in general but particularly the City of Tampa, was not getting
as many improvements out of the State Road Department as he and his
colleagues in Tampa politics believed it should. In looking over Mayor [Nick]
Nuccio's correspondence, the tone became a lot friendlier, during the Nuccio
C: That is not an unusual feeling that Curtis Hixon had, for a mayor of every city in
the state of Florida. Very few of them felt like they were getting their fair share of
the money being spent on roads and road improvements and transportation.
That does not surprise me because that is not unusual. In fact, it is usual for the
mayor and the city commission and others connected with the city to feel that
they are being left out in most cases.
HIL CO 73 page 29
B: Do you think that being from Hillsborough County and Tampa when you came on
to the road board, did that make any difference in terms of how well Hillsborough
and Tampa fared on road improvements?
C: It did not from the standpoint of partiality, but it did from a standpoint of knowing
the people and dealing with them, having known them for some time and being a
part of the community. We did not have a relationship that was adverse or testy
or confrontational with the city of Tampa or Hillsborough County, as opposed to
Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg, for instance. That became very
confrontational. Again, I may be wandering, but because of the fact that I wanted
to refinance the bonds on the Sunshine Skyway-the toll was $1-the newspaper
[the St. Petersburg Times] and Mr. Poynter [Nelson Poynter, publisher of the
Times] made it very clear that if I did, it would be a great confrontation between
them, the newspaper, Mr. Poynter and me, and therefore it never was
accomplished. However, it could have been a great, great thing for Pinellas
County and Manatee County, which are the two counties that Sunshine Skyway
terminates on and begins on. We could have refunded the bond, raised the
money, to build all the roads that those two counties needed for years. But they
were so opposed to it and the county commission and the city council were so
opposed to it that I did not even choose to make an issue of it. There were a lot
of other things I could do that would bear fruit as opposed to fighting that battle.
B: What made it attractive at that time to refinance? Were the bond markets just
C: Oh, the interest rates were good, the cost of $1 to go across Sunshine Skyway
as opposed to driving all the way around through Tampa and back down to
Bradenton and Palmetto, gas-wise and time-wise, was unbelievable, as
compared to what it would be going across Sunshine Skyway. It made sense,
but it did not make sense from their standpoint. They wanted the toll removed.
B: Had you refinanced the bonds then, the toll would have continued but...?
C: Well, it would probably have been reduced to $0.50, and we would have raised
considerable funds because the bridge had been paid for. It was a good, good
toll project in that it returned through tolls significant funds that could have been
used to expand the road system leading to and from it. That was what was
B: The tolls did continue for many years. In fact, they are still in place on the
C: Those tolls are. Not during my administration but subsequently, the bonds were
refunded, and a new bridge was built, a four-lane bridge. Even before that and
subsequent to my administration, an additional bridge had been built alongside
HIL CO 73 page 30
the old bridge.
B: A twin to the original.
C: So that has been done. Now, of course, a lot of people ride across it just to look
B: So, Poynter's objection, and the rest of the St. Petersburg contingent, they
objected that they wanted toll-money from the bridge to go only to that bridge
project and nothing else.
C: They did not want the toll. They wanted the toll removed, period, and to make it a
B: Did they have an idea how to pay off the bonds, absent the tolls?
C: No, but that is one of the big problems you run into with toll projects. In my
opinion, knowing what the conditions of the transportation problems was in
Hillsborough and in the state of Florida, toll roads made a lot of sense. I know
that AAA [American Automobile Association] was always opposed to it because
they said, we want free roads. Now, I do not know what a free road is.
Somebody has got to pay for the road, and the only other way to pay for it is
through taxes, primarily gasoline taxes. So, it is the ideal way, in my opinion, to
solve problems that there is not sufficient funding at present time to solve. An
example of that would have been when 1-75 and 1-4 came to Tampa and
terminated. 1-75 was designed to go on down to Naples and connect with what
we had built at the time, Alligator Alley [originally a state toll-road through the
central Everglades], which a lot of people made fun of. Here is a road going
across the state through alligator country, but now it is a part of 1-75 to Fort
Lauderdale and Miami, an excellent addition to the interstate system. The
[Tampa] Tribune at that time through Mr. Jim Clendinen, the chief editorial writer
of the Tribune, killed the plans to build a toll road from 1-75 down to Naples
through the selling of bonds and subsequently turned that over to the state of
Florida and the federal bureau of roads as a connection of the interstate system.
We could have built it at that time for less than a third of what it was finally built
for twenty years later, in [construction] cost and [right-of-way] acquisition, and so
forth. Mr. [William] Cramer, who was then a congressman in Washington, said
that he guaranteed that the road would be started within three years and
completed within three or four years all the way to Naples. I told Mr. Clendinen at
the time that he would be very, very fortunate to see that road completed in
twenty years. The road was completed almost exactly twenty years later. So to
go south, we were still using U.S. 41 as the only road going to Fort Myers, to
Naples and that area, which was growing and still is a very fast-growing area.
That is why toll-roads became so important. Other states did that, built roads
where they knew that the federal government, who funded primarily the road-
HIL CO 73 page 31
building of the interstate system, could not afford to, because of the income from
the gasoline taxes, to build all the interstate that they wanted to at one time.
Other states did build toll-roads, and then they were contributed to the interstate
system, and the tolls were [eventually] removed. Therefore, the interstate system
was completed much sooner.
B: The route that you proposed for a toll-road that went down the west coast south
of Tampa down to Alligator Alley. Was that route about where 1-75 wound up
C: The corridor that we were looking at in the Chamber of Commerce and others,
and this was after my term of office but I was still very active in the development
of roads and I was county attorney for Hillsborough County at the time, and we
tried our best. The corridor that was finally set was the corridor that we had
determined at the time. Now, the exact location of the road could vary 100 yards
or a quarter of a mile or whatever, whatever at that point in time made sense. But
that was twenty years later.
B: But your idea was generally to run it down east of the major cities?
B: Inland several miles from the coast, and provide an alternative to 41?
C: The interstate system and the federal bureau of roads had determined that they
did not want to build the interstate system through cities anymore. They wanted
to go outside of the city and build an alternate route to downtown, which has
been done in many, many cases, because it was so expensive to build through
an urban area that had been developed and you have got to buy right-of-way,
you have to then remove everything on it, and then you have got to build in the
B: When you came on the road board, was Interstate 4 already pretty well under
construction through Tampa?
C: The alignment of Interstate 4 had been pretty much set. There was some slight
variation but only slight. The road had been built in some portion from Orlando to
Tampa, and during my time in office, we completed it through the city of Tampa
and all the way over to and through St. Petersburg. I am not sure whether or not
it was completed through St. Petersburg to the bridge, but the Howard Frankland
Bridge was built. It was completed during our term in office through Tampa and
well on the way through Pinellas County.
B: When I researched the construction of the interstate through Tampa, I did not
find much evidence that people in Tampa had much objection or strong feelings
HIL CO 73 page 32
one way or the other to the location of the interstate. There were just a very few
exceptions to that. One of them was a contingent from Seminole Heights Baptist
Church that was unhappy about Interstate 75 being so close to the church with
an exit there. Another was a Tampa attorney named MacFarlane who objected
to the right-of-way cutting through MacFarlane Park in West Tampa. But outside
of that, I did not find much evidence of opponents. Am I correct about that, or do
you think there were opponents?
C: From my knowledge, the alignment of the road did not create a lot of problems.
The alignment of the road was something that the county commission and the
city of Tampa pretty much were in agreement about. The big problem that we
faced was, where do we put the interchanges? Downtown, where would it be?
Where would it be in Ybor City? That was a big something that was contested. It
only took a slight south portion of MacFarlane Park, but that was a problem that
Mr. MacFarlane's father had built the park and developed that part of West
Tampa, and [he] felt like it should not be done. But to vary it, you would have had
to change the alignment and go around, and it would have been expensive to
obtain the right of way and construct the roads. It was built in the right place.
B: How did the MacFarlane controversy eventually get resolved?
C: That controversy was resolved before I came on the board, because the federal
bureau of roads and the State Road Department had determined that this is
where it should go, economy-wise and from a functional use of the interstate
system. Although they may listen to the complaints, there were no changes and
there were no interchanges at MacFarlane Park.
B: Do you think very many people in Tampa had input into where the road went, or
was the plan pretty much handed down from the [U.S.] Department of
Transportation and the State Road Department?
C: There was a great deal of input by the governing bodies of Hillsborough County.
That would be the county commission, the City of Tampa and its city council.
Those people all had a great deal of input. You always had a hearing in which
people were invited and notices given, told them to come in and get information
and look at the alignment and make whatever statements they want to make.
There is a lot more of that going on now. It is actually required now, and if you do
not do it, the road cannot be let because the federal bureau will not let you do it
without those noticed hearings and getting the complaints and answering them,
never to the satisfaction of the people who are complaining, but to the extent that
the road department or the federal bureau of roads had anything to say about it.
The federal bureau of roads had a great deal to say about the building of the
interstate system. Obviously, that was understandable because it was a federal
project. One of the things that they did not see was the future. When you look at
the interchange of 1-4 and what is now [1-]275 in downtown Tampa, there was
HIL CO 73 page 33
one section, that was only one lane, where traffic coming from the east on 1-4 got
into the interchange. For that traffic to merge, then, into traffic going on further
west and then south, there was one lane of traffic. It was a hell of a bottleneck.
We tried our best, including going to Washington and sitting down with those
people and explaining to them that this interchange needs to be enlarged, and
we are going to outgrow it within a very short period of time. Their answer was,
you will not outgrow it, and you will not fill the transportation facilities on
Interstate 4 and 75 and 275 going west for years down the road. Our feeling was
it would be overloaded within less than five years, and it was. And they refused
to do anything about it. So that is why we got the problem we have today, and
you know what they call it, "Malfunction Junction." That is the name of it, and it is
very appropriate. But there just was not any way to get the federal bureau of
roads to get off of that position they were taking and their funds. I say their funds,
but those are funds that come from the State of Florida and are sent to
Washington. By the time they get back to Florida, it is less than 50 percent of
what went to Washington.
B: In the way of gas taxes?
C: In the way of gas taxes, correct.
B: Although the funding formula was supposed to be $0.90 cents of federal money
out of every dollar going to interstate.
C: That is right, and then 10 percent furnished by the state of Florida. Then they
turned the maintenance of the roads and the whole road system over to the state
road department. Therein lies the problem with the road department phase, once
that thing was completed. Mowing the roads was a hell of an expense, and it still
is, keeping the shoulders and the right-of-way mowed. The states were not
prepared, including all the other states, to absorb that big cost at the time the
roads were completed and turned over to the states.
B: Were you part of the delegation that went to see the federal highway
administration or, was it called the federal department of transportation?
C: The federal bureau of roads at the time, I think. It has changed now. Yes, I was.
B: And so you were convinced even before they started construction on the
interchange that it needed to have more lanes.
C: Absolutely. It was obvious that the traffic was going to bottle up right there
coming from the north, coming from the east, coming from the south and the
west. There just was not any way. Their minds were closed, and [there was]
nothing we could do about it.
HIL CO 73 page 34
B: Was that pretty soon after you came on the board?
C: Oh, before, even. The question had been bandied back and forth at the time I
came on. The State Road Department at that time had complained about it and
nothing had been done, and we continued the complaints.
B: So the State Road Board staff, did they have the same opinion you did, that it
C: My opinion came from their information furnished to me. I could look at a road
and not tell you, at that time, when I thought the road was going to reach its
capacity, but those people, having been in the business for years and that was
their job, knew by the study of the traffic patterns and so forth and the traffic
count that they had, which I was not privy to before I went on the Road Board. It
was obvious that it would clog up.
B: Do you remember anybody else who went with you to Washington with that
C: [Ellsworth] Simmons. If it was at a time that Nick [Nuccio] was mayor, he would
have gone. Our fellows from the department of transportation in this district and
in Tallahassee went.
B: That was when Julian Lane was mayor. Would he have gone?
C: Julian Lane, I cannot remember now exactly what the dates of his term of office
B: He was mayor from 1959 until 1963.
C: Okay, when I became member of the board, he was the mayor at the time. Julian
and his department, I am not sure. I do not remember Julian going, but I do
remember his traffic people and his engineers going with us. They were a part of
the whole delegation.
B: Do you remember the city engineer for Tampa, a man named Roy K. Van
C: Former highway engineer for the road department.
B: Was he? I did not know that.
C: Oh yes. A fine, fine gentleman. He retired later on, but he was a real
professional. Oh yes, I knew him very well.
HIL CO 73 page 35
B: And you held him in high regard?
C: High regard. Very high regard.
B: The correspondence files, many of them in Julian Lane's files, reveal an
extremely contentious relationship between Mr. Van Camp and the State Road
Department officials over the details of interchange constructions, grade
crossings, utilities, relocations and all the rest of it.
C: Those were the day-to-day problems, with the exception of interchanges and the
location of them, that the two sides get involved in, the City of Tampa and their
people and the State Road Department. That is where most of the problems
arise. It was not the alignment. Now, later on, there were quarrels about
alignments and so forth, particularly going north, and we were buying right-of-
way going north on what became 1-275, originally designed to be 1-75, and then
they decided, okay, we will send 1-75 out east and then bring 1-275 through here,
through St. Petersburg north of the bridge. That had been pretty much
determined, that the alignment was going right down through some fine old areas
of town, Tampa Heights and some of the other subdivisions north of town. It
came very close to the big Baptist church on Hillsborough Avenue, right where
the interstate road crosses there.
B: Seminole Heights.
C: Is that the name of it?
B: I believe so.
C: Okay. There was a fine, fine old preacher who came to see me, and he was very
contentious. He wanted us to gut the road and go away from his church. I just
told him there was no way we could do that. This was in early 1961. He came in
the office, walked in the door and said, I took my mean pills before I came, so I
am ready. We had quite a discussion, and many times we had a discussion, but
there just was not anything I could do. We did our best to try to buffer the area so
that the noise would not be disruptive to the church. There just was not any way I
could really [do anything for him]. They were right at Hillsborough and the
interstate, right on the corner, and it was just an impossible task at that point in
time to make that change. The alignment order had been set. There is probably
a lot of correspondence in the file from him. Wimbish, I believe, was his name.
He went to Tallahassee. I am not sure if he went to Washington, but that was a
very contentious problem.
B: Yes, I found letters from that pastor to Julian Lane. I did not know that he had
engaged you on this as well, but he was very bitter about the project.
HIL CO 73 page 36
C: Of course, Julian had very little to do with the alignment of the road, basically,
with the exception of suggesting the recommendations and hopefully some help
that the city would receive from the federal bureau of roads and from the State
Road Department on alignment. But the alignment basically was set by those
B: You said there were some other arguments over the alignment of that stretch of
1-75, as it was called then, later 1-275. What other areas were...?
C: The interchanges became a big problem again, as they always do. If people own
property on the interchange, that is where they want the interchange to be. If you
got it down here, they want you to move it to this location, etcetera. Then, the
City of Tampa and the State Road Department were concerned about
interchanges where the road system was not adequate to get the people to and
from that interchange. If people are using an interchange and they are coming
off onto Hillsborough Avenue, say, or getting on at Hillsborough Avenue, you
have got to be sure that there is enough capacity on the road system there to
take care of it. That is where, later on, the federal bureau of roads did agree that
they could spend some money and they would approve the spending of money
to build some access roads to improve the road system near the interchanges [in
order to] to improve the flow of traffic to and from the interchanges.
B: So, the City of Tampa got some federal help with improving city streets around
the interchanges for this?
C: Some. I am not sure it was adequate from their standpoint, but it was all that we
could get for them.
B: How was it that the streets got selected for interchanges to be built? Did it have
to meet a certain criteria to be [an interchange]?
C: Those are [selected and] designed by the engineers, approved by the federal
bureau of roads and by the state road department, with some input from the
cities and the counties. But they are the ones who determine. They had traffic
counts all up and down the alignment of the to-be-built interstate system, so they
knew where the traffic was coming from and they knew where they needed to
have an interchange, whether it was east-west traffic. On Interstate 75 going
north, obviously one of the places would have been Hillsborough Avenue. That
was an important consideration. Others you can see up and down the alignment
would have been at Sligh Avenue, Martin Luther King, which at that time was
called Buffalo. The east-west main thoroughfares were where you basically
found your interchanges.
B: Was there much argument over where to put grade-crossings on the interstate,
meaning where a street could go under the interstate?
HIL CO 73 page 37
C: There was a great deal there because you would cut off access to-and-from.
One of them, one of the ones that became very confrontational, was Ybor City,
where 15th Street goes under the interstate. It was originally designed not to go
under it. It would just stop there, and the only access would have been where the
interchanges were, which did not make a lot of sense. But we finally got one at
B: Who was it that was arguing in favor [of the grade-crossing]?
C: Well, obviously the little town of Ybor City, which was a part of the City of Tampa,
was very, very upset about it, and the city became upset about it, and the road
department. All of those were in agreement that there should be an underpass
B: So, that was one battle that you ?
C: And MacDill Avenue over here on the west side of town was another one that
had to have [one], because that was the main access road north and south.
B: And originally that had not been planned?
C: I do not remember whether that was or not. It probably was planned. But MacDill
was the east boundary of MacFarlane Park. That probably was planned because
it was a very important north-south road, whereas 15th Street in Ybor City was
not that important from the standpoint of moving a lot of traffic north and south,
but it was important from the standpoint of Ybor City and access to Ybor City.
B: It is a little odd that there is an exit westbound at Lois Avenue, and then east and
west you can get off at Lois. You cannot get back on trying to go westbound, but
C: No, there is a full interchange at Lois. Now, Westshore Boulevard has a full
interchange. That interchange has been changed now, whereas you cannot get
on [the interstate] going west on Westshore and you cannot get off coming east
of Westshore, but you can still get off going west from downtown and you can
get back on going east on Westshore. That had a full interchange, but later on
through the widening of that portion of the interstate system maybe five years
ago, that then was closed, the westbound traffic was closed.
B: I guess I thought Lois was the one where you could get off if you were headed
west toward the airport, but you had to go over to Dale Mabry to get back on the
interstate going west.
C: No. Lois has always been a full interchange, and it is so close to Dale Mabry that
it is questionable, why would you have that? But Lois moved a lot of traffic north
HIL CO 73 page 38
and south, and it was the only one between Dale Mabry and Westshore that
really moved traffic north and south all the way. If you go out there today, the
Lois interchange is a full interchange, and it has always been a full interchange.
But it is very close to Dale Mabry, and the question was, do we need it this
close? But you need it that close because the traffic going north and south was
B: When the discussion was going on about building overpasses and interchanges
at these major surface streets like Lois and Hillsborough Avenue and Dale
Mabry, was there much discussion about whether or not those bridges needed to
be made wider in order to allow for those roads to be made larger in future
C: Unfortunately, the future planning of the interstate system did not take into
consideration, except in certain small areas, let us build this road and these
bridges so that if we need to add an extra lane, we can do it in the median. That
was done, and is being done, going north now, and it was done going west from
downtown to the Howard Frankland Bridge, where the bridges were six-laned
and the open space in the middle was filled in. The same thing is happening now
going north on [1-]275. The bridges are under construction now where they are
putting them together in the middle in the medians. Eventually, they will put two
lanes in the middle where the medians are and therefore add an extra lane of
traffic. Now and then, the problem you get is on the outside where you got to go
out and acquire additional right-of-way, to six-, eight-, nine-lane it or whatever.
That is what is going to be very expensive, and that is what is going to be time-
B: So there was some forethought about widening the interstate?
C: I am not sure it was forethought. There was not very much planning. There are
some stretches that there is not enough room in between, in the median in
between the bridges, the bridge going north and the bridge coming south, to put
two more lanes of traffic. I am not sure there are any right in downtown Tampa,
but there are some all over the state of Florida. The advance-planning has not
gotten to that point. Today, if they had to plan the interstate system, you would
be able to see a completely different plan. I think maybe a lot of it would have
been widen it out, go ahead and buy the right-of-way, and we will build it inside
so that we have already got the right-of-way. That could very well be one of the
solutions. Going north from Tampa to Gainesville and on up to the state line
where they have six lanes, there are many bridges. They started something
which I think is very bright. They started to go ahead and do the bridges before
they let the contracts, before the other two lanes, the roads themselves. In the
city of Tampa now, there are about three or four interchanges where the bridges
are being widened now, under a separate contract, so that when they get to the
point of making additional lanes going north, they have got that already done.
HIL CO 73 page 39
B: It will not be a bottleneck.
C: And then the bridges are time-consuming, of course.
B: What about future improvements to the surface streets, like Lois itself and Dale
Mabry itself. Was there a thought then that those streets would need to be made
wider as years went by?
C: I am sure it was thought of on the part of the engineers who were familiar with
the traffic count, and where is the traffic coming from and where is it going? At
that time, the federal bureau of roads was not too much interested in that. It was
a state problem or a local problem. A lot of those roads are state roads,
Hillsborough [Avenue], for instance. That was a state road, and therefore the
state had to furnish the funds to do that with. There would be improvement of the
approaches to the interchange. But there were others that were just city streets,
that then that became a city problem. Then the road department and the cities
cooperated. The county gets some of the tax money, as you know, to build, to be
spent on secondary roads and things of that nature. Sometimes you make a
state road in order to spend the tax money on it. That has been done so it could
be designated a state road. Ashley Street was one of them.
B: Apparently, Mr. Van Camp had quite some lengthy battles with the State Road
Department planners about the Ashley Street interchange. I guess that was a
controversy right down through the months when it was under construction.
C: I do not think Mr. Van Camp ever gave up on his position, but once they start
construction, there is not a hell of a lot you can do about it. But he did insist, and
I think to a great extent that he was right. A lot of things that Mr. Van Camp said
should be done were things that should have been done, and either the road
department or the federal bureau of roads did not do it, because they did not
want the city dictating to them or they did not have the funds to do it with.
B: Did they sometimes offer to let the city do it if the city would come up with the
money, or the state?
C: I am sure there have been some changes in some of the designs if somebody
said, okay, I will come up with the money to do this change, not in the basic
interstate system itself but in approaches and things of that nature.
B: Do you remember what the things were that Mr. Van Camp wanted that he could
C: No. I mean, you are talking about what now, forty years?
B: Well, the Ashley Street interchange remained a problem for quite some number
HIL CO 73 page 40
of years after it was built.
C: And it still is. Getting on going east, you take your life in your own hands,
because there is no lane there to access the interstate. That was one of [Van
Camp's] contentions, I am sure, that people are going to get killed trying to get
on the interstate there, or it is going to back up traffic for miles because what you
have got to do is you have got to get out there and look behind you to see if you
can get Into an ongoing lane that is full of traffic because there are only about
100 yards of access [ramp] built in, and it keeps narrowing down to where there
is nothing before you get to the turn in the road going north.
B: Clearly, that interchange was not engineered to be able to meet the demands
that it started receiving almost right away when the highway opened. Do you
think it had to do with construction costs or right-of-way costs that the federal
C: I would say, I do not know. The highway department was extremely jealous of
their ability to say, it is going to be this or it is not going to be anything at all. I
mean, they were the ones with our tax money going into Washington to come
back down here to be spent. They pretty much won just about every argument
that became a real argument, even though we or the city or others could prove
that they were wrong. They would not change it like that. That one lane of traffic,
only one lane of traffic in the whole United States on the interstate system. That
"Malfunction Junction" interchange of [interstates] 4 and 75.
B: Did you get the idea that these were engineers who felt like they knew better
than local citizens?
C: Oh yes. They were much smarter than anybody else and they were from
Washington, and you just were not supposed to question them. Once in awhile,
you would come upon an engineer who had come from the states and
understood what the problems were and he was much easier to deal with, but
there were very few of those.
B: So, is it fair to use the word arrogant, perhaps, to characterize their...?
C: Domineering is maybe even a better word. They just said, we dominate this
situation and we are going to tell you where you are going to build a road, where
we are going to build it. That is their prerogative, I suppose, because it is their
money that they are spending, but, still, tax monies come from the state of
B: How about the planners and engineers at the state road department in
Tallahassee? Were they cut from the same cloth or were they different?
HIL CO 73 page 41
C: Well, in the sense that they are dealing with the little communities themselves,
the mind-set was the same but it was much simpler, much easier to deal with the
road department because you are dealing with somebody who is in-state. And
the governor could say to the Road Board, now, sit down and listen to those
people and see if it makes sense, and see if you can cooperate. I know if it is
going to be a very expensive thing to do and if it not the right thing to do, do not
do it. So, they were not nearly as difficult to deal with, no.
B: They had to answer a little bit more to Florida citizens. [tape interrupted.]
C: ...where he thought after having run for governor and [he was responsible] for
the state of Florida and being told by every city and every county what their
needs were, he was pretty familiar with what the real problems were. If one came
up that he recognized as a problem, why, he had no qualms about saying to the
road department or to the engineers or to the members of the Road Board. Now,
here is something we also got to look at and talk about. He never did say to me,
Warren, that is something you got to do, nor do I think he ever said that to
anybody else. But he would suggest it though, be sure that you are right when
you do this and listen to them, what they are saying, and see if there are some
things that we can do to make those adjustments and make them happy.
B: Do you remember a planning consultant for the city of Tampa named George
C: Oh yes.
B: What kind a person would you say he was?
C: I personally liked George Simons. He basically was a traffic engineer, where
traffic was coming from, where it was going, my recollection is, [though] it has
been a long time. He worked for the city as a consultant for years. I do not
remember when he started, but he had some input into where the road systems
were going and interstate systems.
B: I am interested in how much input he had, because he was hired originally by the
city of Tampa, according to the records I have found, in 1939 by Bob Chancey,
[Robert E. Lee Chancey, Tampa mayor, 1931-1943] who was mayor then.
Simons worked for Chancy and for Hixon, for J. L. Young, and at least into the
first Nick Nuccio administration. I have not been able to figure out exactly when it
was that Simons quit working for the city, but he prepared three major
comprehensive plans for the city, including traffic plans, and he developed the
last of them in 1956, which was the same year that President [Dwight D.]
Eisenhower signed the interstate bill.
C: Simons, I know him. I met him, I should say. But his plan existed for years, and I
HIL CO 73 page 42
think the city probably still looks at them. He was making studies about where is
the city of Tampa going to grow and where are your traffic patterns going to
become involved, and therefore where should your road system go? As you said,
he made several studies like that. I am sure they were taken into consideration.
Now, if it was before 1961, I would not have been a part of it, but if it was after
1961, I would have been a part of it. But everybody was familiar with his plans,
and I have met him. He was a nice fellow. I think he was a good planner, and
that is what he was, a planner, not a designer, of roads, to my recollection.
B: Urban renewal was something that was going on in Tampa at about the same
time that the interstate was being built through the city. I gather from the
correspondence that it was a controversy as well, whether and to what extent
urban renewal would be made to work alongside and be made to function with
the highway construction.
C: Urban renewal was a very controversial subject. A lot of people saw it as federal
government encroaching upon local government, but it became a reality. Some
of the area that we went through, particularly around Ybor City, was part that had
been involved in urban renewal. But when you look at the [interstate] right-of-
way, and I have used this term over the years, we renewed more urban areas
than the urban renewal ever did with the big swath of the city that we went
through and just removing everything. But we tried to design it in conjunction with
whatever the renewal was doing in parts of Ybor City that was done.
B: Is it true that urban renewal tended to affect the black neighborhoods more so
than it did any white neighborhoods?
C: I would say it affected neighborhoods that were basically low-income
neighborhoods that were not cared for, regardless of whether they were black or
white or Latin. A lot of them were Latin, particularly in Ybor City. But I guess if
you just went out and counted the houses that were torn down, I do not have any
idea what the count would be, but it certainly had a lot to do with the
neighborhoods that were in terrible condition and not cared for as they should
B: Did the people in any of those neighborhoods ever, to your recollection, show
any evidence of any political activism in response to urban renewal or the
C: Well, the areas where urban renewal was active, Sam Gibbons' [Sam M.
Gibbons, State Representative from Tampa, 1953-57; State Senator, 1959-62;
U.S. Congressman from 7th District (Tampa), 1962-1998] firm was the firm that
represented urban renewal in the taking of the property. There were objections
by a lot of people. Whether they were ever in concert or not, I do not know
because I was not involved in that, pretty much only reading about it in the
HIL CO 73 page 43
newspaper and talking to people about it, but not directly involved. But I am sure
there were neighborhoods that people maybe had little city clubs or something
that would object to it. It was a contentious item that came to pass that a lot of
people still do not necessarily agree with, because they were seeing at the time
an encroachment of federal government into local politics and taking money from
the federal government to further control the local area.
B: Did federal rules have much impact on how urban renewal worked itself out in
the city, or do you think the city had a lot of freedom as to how it was
C: I do not really know. I would imagine that the federal rules prevailed. There was
a question that was in dispute, but I was not directly involved, so I do not really
B: We talked a little bit about the interchange, and the interchange wound up being
built. Do you remember an area of Tampa that known as the Scrub, in the 1940s
C: The town that was pretty much where the interchange is?
B: Right I think so, from what I have seen on the old maps of that. Do you think
that the Scrub location wound up getting chosen for the interchange in an
attempt to solve a problem with blighted neighborhoods?
C: That alignment had been set before I became a member of the Road Board, and
so I do not really know how they reached their conclusion about where the
alignment would be. But it only would make sense to go through an area if you
furnish additional housing for those people somewhere else. That was
detrimental to their health, really. That is the only thing I could say about it.
B: When 1-4 was being built-we call it 1-275 now, but at the time it was 1-4 from
downtown west to the Howard Franklin Bridge-Tampa Airport was getting ready
to embark on some major growth. Was there much talk in planning the interstate
out toward Tampa Airport to take advantage of having the interstate being able
to take travelers in and out of what became Tampa International?
C: That was probably one of the big problems we faced from the standpoint of
where interchanges should be and what the traffic flow was going to be. As you
travel that area, you are talking about Memorial Highway and it was a very
restricted area, because on the west side, you have got the Bay, and on the east
side, you have got the airport, and so you were really restricted as to what you
could do. It is going to be a bigger problem in the future when Suncoast Parkway
is completed on up [north of Hillsborough County] and more traffic comes down
the Veterans Expressway and empties right into downtown Tampa. There have
HIL CO 73 page 44
got to be some plans, and I am sure the road department is thinking about it.
There is still a Turnpike Authority, except it is run by the road department now,
as opposed to a different group of people running it. I am sure they are looking at
that. As a matter of fact, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a private
engineer for a private company who did supervision on Veterans Expressway
and is now doing it on Suncoast. The big problem we are going to face in the
future is, how do we get this traffic, once we get it to the city of Tampa, how do
we get it dispersed to where it is going? I am sure those plans will be reviewed
and worked on. If they are not working on it now, they will be. There has been a
great deal of change right at Kennedy and where Memorial comes down and just
where the Westshore shopping mall is. They did a real good job of realigning it,
and traffic there, because what you have, you have traffic from Kennedy going
east off of Howard Franklin Bridge, and they were stopping for a long traffic light.
Now, that has pretty much eased up by the way they redesigned it, but that is
only a stop-gap measure. There is going to have be some real, real engineering
done on that.
B: Did you have much dealings with people who were on the Hillsborough Aviation
Authority when you were on the road board ?
C: Oh yes.
B: And it was to do with these very same matters?
C: The Aviation Authority members were appointed by the governor basically.
Hillsborough County had one and the city of Tampa had one, but the other three
were appointed by the governor. I was very close personal friends with them, and
we talked about it a lot. They had their engineering companies working for them,
consulting engineers, Greiner and Company being one of them. The road
department cooperated with them trying to figure out how to resolve the problem.
Nobody ever thought, in my opinion, in the 1950s that the Tampa International
Airport would remain right where it is right now, permanently.
B: Did not think so?
C: There was obviously thinking that [the airport] would have to be moved outside
somewhere where there is more expansion room. Now, it is the most convenient
airport to downtown and to the city of any city I have ever been to, from a
standpoint of access. I can leave my office and be at the airport in ten minutes.
But they still have room to put another runway north and south on the west side,
and they are acquiring a lot of property on the east side for service facilities, like
Delta and U.S. Air have a big repair facility, each, there. So, they are planning for
the future and they are acquiring, but I do not think anybody ever thought that
was going to be the case. Then by that time, the road system was already pretty
much designed, and there was not a whole lot anybody could do about it. There
HIL CO 73 page 45
is that restriction there between the airport and the Bay. Somehow, that is going
to have to be resolved. It is going to be a tough one to solve. Of course, it does
interchange now with the interstate system. When you are coming around the
airport, there are two lanes of the traffic from Memorial around the airport that
goes on to Interstate 275 East and also West, so you have got access to the
interstate system. A lot of people use that and get off at Lois [Avenue] or go on
downtown and get off there, if they want to go downtown. But an awful lot of
people still use Kennedy, and that is the logjam.
B: Where else would the regional airport have gone to if it had not stayed there?
C: There was discussion about several locations. Of course, Pinellas County did
their best to get it over there at their airport, which was at that time wide-open. I
mean, there was nothing around it, primarily, and it could have expanded. I
guess what you could say was that we won the war, and it is on this side of the
Bay. It is not that much further from St. Petersburg to Clearwater to the airport,
but it is further and it is on our side of the Bay. At that time, the northwest had
not been developed at all. There was a lot of land out there that had not been
developed. It could have been used as an airport, but that is all developed now. I
do not see the Tampa International Airport changing in my lifetime, and I am not
sure how long that is going to be.
B: A long time, we hope.
C: I hope. Yes, we cooperated with the Aviation Authority, trying to figure out how
was the best way to get traffic in and out of the airport.
B: You think the fact of the airport being out west there on the site of what had been
Drew Field, during the war and after, do you think the fact that the airport was
there had anything to do with the interstate being built out to the west end of
Tampa as it was?
C: I think, obviously, the airport was there, and it would be important to run the
interstate system by the airport because a lot of our air traffic comes from
Pinellas County and a lot of it comes from Polk County and Manatee County. It
was important to be able to get the people to it. That certainly was something, I
am sure, was thought of at the time. I was not on the Road Board at the time, but
if they did not think about it, then they were derelict in their duties because that
was something very important.
B: Before we leave transportation completely, I want to ask you about the Tampa
Port Authority. We have talked about the Road Board and the Aviation Authority.
Did you have any dealings or many dealings with the Tampa Port Authority, and
do you think that has been important in the way Tampa has grown up over the
HIL CO 73 page 46
C: The Port Authority is one of our biggest assets, our port is, and the Port Authority
over the years has done a good job. We are now developing container cargo
coming into Tampa. We just started that, whereas in most big ports, that is the
bulk of their trade. Ours has been bulk cargo such as phosphate. That was a big
money-maker. You know, they do not charge very much to ship phosphate. But
more and more, Tampa is becoming a distribution center for cargo. The port,
now in cooperation with a private company, has become a containerized
warehouse and unloading facility. It is pre-packaged stuff, if you know what I am
talking about. They just unload it off the boat and put it over here. That is
something that is very important because that is high-priced cargo, as opposed
to phosphate. It is important that we develop that. We have enlarged our port to
way over on the east side to where the phosphate now is. The phosphate used
to come and was loaded at Port Tampa or Harbor Island, which is right
downtown, which is owned by the Seaboard Coastline [railroad] with Port Tampa.
All that train traffic with the phosphate had to come right downtown, so getting
those [rail] facilities closed, with the exception that there is still a little bit going to
Port Tampa. But it comes early in the morning between maybe 1:00 and 5:00 or
something like that so you do not stop traffic downtown. We moved all the big
facilities over on the east bay, and that is where the phosphate facility is primarily
going now. Some private ones and some built by the Port Authority, funded by
the Port Authority, but mostly private construction.
B: The Port Authority members are appointed, I guess, similar to the Aviation
Authority, some by the governor, some come from local nominations.
C: The chairman and the mayor are on the Authority, or they designate, and the
chairman of the county commission, and the governor appoints the other three.
B: Do you think that the Tampa Port Authority has been able to function pretty
effectively for the benefit of local interests?
C: By and large. There have been times when it was petty politics through some
appointments of some of the governors that were not what they should be, but I
think by and large they now have hired some real professionals as port directors
and assistant port directors who know what they are doing, and they are doing a
good job. The Port Authority now is doing a so much better job than they were
years ago when it was for importation of bananas and things of that nature and
exportation of phosphate, and that was basically Port Tampa. But since that
time, they have really grown into a much larger [operation]. I think volume-wise, it
is the seventh-largest port in the country. That is because of phosphate.
B: When was it that the port started getting more sophisticated, do you think?
C: I think [Florida Governor LeRoy] Collins [1955 to 1961] made some very good
appointments to the Port Authority. Up until that time, [the criteria] would have
HIL CO 73 page 47
been pretty much who gave me $100 or who worked the hardest. I am sure that
they all considered, all things being equal, that if there are two people being
equal, [the] one [who] was my supporter is appointed. And I do not have any
problem with that all. That is the way it should be, that is government, that is
politics. But I think probably beginning with [Florida Governor] Dan [T.] McCarty
[1953, died in office 1953], that was probably when the better people were
appointed. When I say better, the more enlightened people who have done a
good job of running the two Authorities.
B: I gather from the research that I have done that the Port Authority, as we know it
today, did not really get off the ground until around the time of World War II?
C: I think that is right. A lawyer by the name of Brown, Old Man Brown, [Tampa
attorney Ray Brown] was the one who came up with the concept of having a Port
Authority, years ago. He represented the Port Authority when he had it finally
approved by the legislature.
B: Do you remember when this was?
C: That would have been before the war? Right after the war, he was still...then his
son became the attorney for the port authority. I believe his name was Ray
Brown, but I could be wrong about that. His son was Norman Brown, I believe.
Anyway, the legislature adopted a bill that created the Authority, as I recall, in the
late 1930s. I could be wrong a little bit about the timing. It may have been in the
1940s. But during the war, the only Port Authority was basically downtown
Tampa at the foot of Franklin Street, where the convention center is now. That is
where the port facilities were. For anything out in the east, Ybor Channel had
been dredged, but that had not developed very much. After the war then, we
needed to get this thing out of downtown. As a matter of fact, the company that I
was on the board of bought Luckenbach Steamship [Company], which was a
great deal of downtown with the Franklin Street ownership, and we bought the
island, Harbor Island. We had a contract to buy and we were maybe ten years
premature in developing it, so we sold it to somebody else. Now, you see what
has happened to it, and that was twenty-five years ago. But the Port Authority
now is doing an excellent job, through hiring primarily real professionals who
know how to make a port go.
B: I have asked you earlier whether you knew George B. Howell, the fellow who
was the chairman of Marine Bank. Do you recall Mr. Howell?
C: Oh yes. I remember Mr. Howell when he was vice president of Exchange Bank
and went across the street on Franklin Street, catty-cornered across the street,
and started the little bank. I do not remember even the name of it now, but it was
about a little bit larger than this room we are in. It developed into Marine Bank,
which was a good-sized bank. His family owned it and ran it for years, and then
HIL CO 73 page 48
they merged with Frank Smathers' Banks down in Miami, and subsequently, the
Howell family was no longer involved in the running of the bank or the holding
company. It became Flagship Bank, and later on, we (we being SunTrust Bank),
Sun Bank, bought Flagship. That bank today is part of the SunTrust Bank
system. Mr. Howell also was the owner of the shipyards during the war.
B: Tampa Shipyard.
C: And built a lot of the Liberty ships during that period of time. I assume after the
war, I am not sure, he or his estate sold it. I think I met Mr. Howell, but I did not
really know him real personal. My son-in-law, of course, is his grandson and has
all of the history on him and his activities in Tampa. Howell Park on Bay Shore
was a condominium built on their old homestead. That is where the Howell Park
B: The reason I first got interested in Mr. Howell is because his name shows up as
the president of a World War II outfit called the Economic Development
Committee of Tampa, sometimes called the Committee for Economic
Development. Did you ever hear of that outfit?
C: I heard the name, but I was not familiar with it, because I was not here.
B: Right, that was prior to your time. Well, they were involved with planning for
postwar employment, and they got involved with getting legislation passed and
making plans for postwar projects. Some of it had to do with planning, somewhat
to my surprise, it turns out for the interstate expressways, some to do with the
Hillsborough Aviation Authority, and some to do with the Port Authority. But I am
interested in your assessment of George Howell, the senior George Howell.
C: From my knowledge and from my observation in seeing him during the few years
that I knew him, he was what I call a doer. He had a vision. He knew where he
wanted to go and what he wanted to do, and he did it. A fine businessman, a
strong, strong person, personally, personalitywise. Started out as a banker and
then formed his own bank and developed that bank into quite a bank. It was one
of the three big banks in downtown Tampa. Then his shipyard. The Myrtle Hill
Cemetery was a part of the Howell clan, which is the big cemetery east of town. I
do not know how much Mr. Howell had to do with that, but that was a part. You
had the Clewis family and the Howell family. They were intermarried. The Clewis
family was very influential, too. Together, they were very important to the
development of Tampa.
B: That brings us pretty nicely to the subject of banking. I know we covered your
career with Sun Bank and Brandon State Bank and SunTrust in the first section
of our interview, but Mr. Howell was involved in banking as well. I understand
that when he started Marine Bank, that was the first time in quite some number
HIL CO 73 page 49
of years that Tampa had more than just two major downtown banks.
C: That is right.
B: Do you think that made a big difference?
C: I think it made some difference, yes, because I think it gave businesspeople and
borrowers another bank to go to. Exchange Bank was a good bank. First
National Bank was a good bank. Both of them were old banks, controlled to
some extent by families. Exchange Bank by the Peter O. Knight family to a great
extent and then the First National Bank by the Tolliver family and others. There
had been some other downtown banks that went bust during the Depression. As
far as I know, Mr. Howell's bank was the first bank that had been chartered in
downtown since the banks went bust during the Depression. From that little
location where he was, he moved down to what had been Madison Drugs at the
corner of Madison Street and Franklin and really developed the bank there. Then
he built the big building across the street, I think probably the first new building
downtown Tampa after the war.
B: The big blue building.
C: Hm-mm [yes], which is now the police station. I am sure that the other banks had
a great deal to do with keeping other banks out. They were powerful. They were
run by powerful people.
B: Of course, banking and politics are the same as any other business. You want to
have a political environment that helps business. But I wonder if you have an
opinion, or if you can give me an opinion, of a historical argument that I have
heard. The argument is this: some people say that after the end of the Civil War,
northern banking and northern industry kept money out of the South in the
United States and that southern business felt itself to be cut off a lot from access
to capital for major borrowing, and that had a lot to do with keeping the South
backwards relative to the kind of growth that big northern cities experienced
during the early part of the twentieth century. This argument says that it was not
until Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal that southern businessmen and
southern banks got access again to capital and that it was because of the New
Deal that business was able to get energized and be able to do bigger borrowing
than they historically had. Does that sound like it makes sense to you?
D: I think that certainly could be an argument. I have not gone back and studied
banking that far back, but there is no question about the fact that the southeast
did not have major banks. The question, then, would be why? That could
certainly be one of the arguments as to why it did not have major banks. Take
Florida, Ed Ball [DuPont heir, founder of Florida National Banks] had twenty-one
banks or something, twenty-two banks, in the state of Florida. He could have
HIL CO 73 page 50
controlled banking in the state of Florida forever. He did not choose to do that.
He ran his own little banks, and they were [very conservative]. Now, Tampa is
the only big city that did not have a Florida National Bank in it.
B: Why not?
C: I do not know. I guess the other banks kept him out. I do not know that to be a
fact, but that has got to be a reason, because he was in Lakeland, he was in St.
Petersburg. Why not the industrial commercial part of this area?
B: Do you think they [the existing Tampa bankers] could have kept him out if they
C: I do not know. I would just be guessing if I said yes. I do not know. But it is fact,
you got a little town like Bushnell that had a Florida National Bank in it. In the
1950s and through the 1960s, a big bank in Florida was the old First National
Bank of Miami, which became Southeast Bank. That is where people went for
big money, unless they had to go for bigger money to New York or someplace
B: Even people from Tampa?
C: Tampa I mean, the banks here would go there for cooperating on a loan.
B: How big a loan would it have to take before they would have to go out of town?
C: I do not know. I was not in Miami by that point and time, but that was known as
the bank in Florida. When it went broke, that was a sad, sad day, and it did not
have to go broke. They forced that into bankruptcy. It turned upside-down, and
First Union bought it. In my opinion, it was not fairly put out to bid for other
banks, holding companies, to acquire it, to make an effort to really acquire it, but
that is neither here nor there. That was done. I would say that would be a good
argument. I guess the only other place in the South that had banks that were of
any consequence would have been Atlanta. Atlanta had three big downtown
banks. They had the Trust Company of Georgia, the Citizens and Southern
Bank, C & S, and the old First National Bank, all of which became the big banks.
B: Now, these were the big banks shortly after the end of the war in the 1950s.
C: Those were the three big banks in downtown Atlanta, in Georgia and in the
B: Would people from Tampa try to enter into cooperative agreement with those
banks for financing?
HIL CO 73 page 51
C: Oh, they were your correspondent banks of a lot of the banks down here. When I
formed the Brandon State Bank, our correspondent bank outside of the state of
Florida was Trust Company Bank, ran all of our bonds and so forth.
B: So you would cooperate on big loans.
C: Right, but we did not make big loans at the Brandon Bank. I am sure that the
First National, Exchange and Marine had corresponding relationships with
somebody up there, or maybe with all three of them.
B: When you got into banking, there were people whom you dealt with who had
been in banking in Tampa for quite some time, with whom you probably had a
chance to talk banking and politics. What kind of opinion did they have of the
New Deal and the Roosevelt years? Did you ever get a clue as to whether they
thought that was good or bad?
C: Some of them felt like that was what was wrong in banking. Some of them felt
that was what saved banking. A lot of them did not like the New Deal because it
was so liberal-related. That may have had some effect on their thinking about
banking. Obviously, the banks were in bad trouble back then. But those laws that
were put into effect in 1933, and before that, even, but 1933 primarily, have now
become old and stale and are being changed. Back then, a banking company of
a bank could also be in the stockbrokers' business and underwrite issues of
stock. That stopped then. Now, it is allowed again. You know, you got to be a
real student of banking to know whether that is right or wrong, and I am not that
good a student of how banking derived from way back there when you bartered
and now, when it is a different situation. But that obviously was the thing that I
think had to be done in order to save the banking system back then, and the
Federal Reserve was created to really do something and authorized to do
something. It probably had already been in existence, but recently, the banking
business, as with all other businesses since the mid-1970s, is a new business
altogether. There is no relationship. You would not recognize today what you
saw then. Beginning with advertising. Banks did not advertise. That was just
something that banks did not do. That was beneath them. CPAs [Certified
Public Accountants], they could not advertise. Lawyers were not supposed to
advertise. Banks were not advertising. But first thing you knew, hell, they were all
over television and all over front-pages of newspapers advertising free checking.
Well, you can only give free checking if you want to go broke, because
somebody has got to pay to do all those things a bank has to do. I think the
banking system has evolved to now where it is a completely different animal.
When we look at Citigroup, which is Smith-Barney, Travelers and all the other
things thrown into one holding company, and Citibank is a part of it. That is so far
from what banking used to be. I am not saying it is wrong. I think it is just
different. We live different now. You do not know anything except what you see
on television, primarily, and what you read sometimes in the newspaper. The
HIL CO 73 page 52
same thing is happening in newspapers. What is going to be the future in
newspapers? Well, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] has just
said that newspapers cannot be owned by a company that also owns a TV
station in the same town. That is very recent. That already had happened here,
and there was not anything they could do about it. Now, they put them together,
and their newsrooms are cooperating and working together. Their circulation on
newspapers are going down, down, and down. A news item, if it is more than a
minute on television, it is something really special. You just get a blip, and you
get what they want you to hear, not what the real facts are. I think that is going to
warp the thinking of the people, who used to have an afternoon newspaper and
a morning newspaper, and they were usually different from the standpoint of
whether they were liberal or conservative, and you got both sides. They do not
do that anymore. The media is so far to the left that you do not get the right side
of it anymore. I think that is why we are going to see a little change in this
election, in my opinion. The people have gone so far to the left, they want to get
back to the middle now. I do not think we will ever get over to the right, and I do
not think we should. The right where [Pat] Buchanan [former aide to President
Richard Nixon and presidential candidate] wants to be, there is just no place for
that. But I think right in the middle is where it ought to be. Now, that had nothing
to do with the question you asked me.
B: Well, it is interesting stuff. Related to banking, I was interested if you had any
experience of the kind of financing that it took to start building really large
developments in the Tampa Bay area. I guess I am thinking here of shopping
centers and industrial properties and office properties.
C: I would say in the beginning, the majority of those type of developments were
financed from outside of the state of Florida. I think now that there is some effort
on the part of the big banks to participate in those. But I would say if today you
wanted to build a 1,500,000-square foot shopping center, you would get your
financing from somewhere else, outside of the state of Florida.
B: From an insurance company?
C: Insurance companies and conglomerates that are making those loans.
B: Do you remember who the big lenders were, who first started in with shopping
centers and that sort of property in the 1950s? Was there any particular
insurance company that started up first, as far as being willing to lend in Tampa?
C: No. I know that Equitable did a good deal of lending in Tampa, but I do not know
the exact names of the others who became active in Tampa in that period.
B: We talked a little bit about the dissension over the Sunshine Skyway project.
Were there any other conflicts with the St. Petersburg community that you recall
HIL CO 73 page 53
from your career and politics here locally, to do with the road board or other
issues? I guess St. Pete and Tampa have always been rivals.
C: Turn it off, and I will tell you a story. [Tape interrupted.]
B: All right. We were starting to talk a little bit about the contentiousness of the
relationship between St. Petersburg and Tampa over time, how you saw that
play out in your own Road Board experience.
C: Probably the biggest contention ever, the biggest one problem that arose, was
the location of the airport. That became a real problem. Over a number of years,
it went back and forth to the FAA [Federal Aviation Authority] and whoever else
makes decisions about where international airports can be located, and finally it
was located in Tampa. That was a very, very difficult situation between the two
counties. As far as the Road Board was concerned and my time on the Road
Board, I had some real difficulty with the governments of Pinellas County, the
county commission and different city governments. They had about twelve,
fourteen different cities in Pinellas County. Never had any problems with Tarpon
Springs or Clearwater, but...[End of Side 6, Tape C.] The biggest problem that I
had personally with them was the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which could have
been refunded and we could have raised additional funds through the refunding
of the bonds to be paid by tolls, so that all the work could be done in Pinellas and
Manatee County that they needed for years to come. It was a bridge that should
have been built, it was built, and it was a good toll-road. It raised considerable
funds, much more than just the maintenance and payment of bonds for the
bridge. The newspaper, primarily, and Mr. Poynter [Nelson Poynter], who was
the owner and published the newspaper, told me that the bridge would never be
refunded and he did not want the bridge bothered because it was, in effect, his
bridge. I said, well, that is fine, if it is your bridge then you ought to have a say-
so, although the bridge belonged to the people of the state of Florida and
particularly to the people of Pinellas and Manatee Counties. But I did not pursue
that any further. He did say once something to the effect that the bond will be
refunded over my dead body, I suggested that might not be a bad idea, and we
dropped the conversation there. Other things that developed in Pinellas County
were the location of roads and the building and rebuilding of bridges. One of the
things I remember most of all [in] my relations with Pinellas County and its
governments and its civic clubs and community clubs was the building of a
bridge, and I believe it was Madeira Beach Causeway, which was an old turnstile
bridge on the Intracoastal Highway. It should have been replaced, but we did not
have the funds to do it. They did not accept that as a reason, and they got up a
phone-calling group of maybe 100 people who were to call me. Every five
minutes, they assigned somebody to call me and wake me up and tell me what
needed to be done to the bridge. Needless to say, that only lasted until the third
call. I just hung up. The message got back to them the next day, that they
certainly would not get a bridge nor any other assistance from the road
HIL CO 73 page 54
department under those kind of conditions. We had a relationship with the
county commission particularly because they were a peculiar group of people
who were governing a very, very fine county in the state of Florida, and were not
competent to do so. We had problems with them all the time, and it got to almost
a name-calling situation. As a result, very few roads and very little money was
spent in Pinellas County after the construction of 66th Street, which was a very
important thing which I did, right off the bat, after we took office. But that is about
all they got after that, simply because of their refusal to cooperate and to do
things that needed to be done for the good of the whole community. As a result,
B: When you say the whole community in that context, you are referring to the
whole Pinellas County area?
C: I am talking about, basically, the whole county of Pinellas, because what was
good for one part may not have been good for the other part, as far as they were
concerned. It is a long, narrow county, beginning with Tarpon Springs on the
north and going through St. Petersburg on the south where the Sunshine
Skyway Bridge starts. It is not a very wide county, and a lot of their interests are
not the same. People in Tarpon Springs and Dunedin and Clearwater do not
have the same interests, or did not have the same interests, as the people in
south Pinellas County, and so there was always a break in their relationships
over there. It was difficult to deal with them when they were fighting among
themselves. As a result, I had thirteen other counties in my district which also
needed a lot of work and a lot of roads, a lot of bridges, so we concentrated
basically on those counties while Pinellas County was trying to get their act
together to get something accomplished.
B: Were there people in St. Petersburg that you did develop a good working
relationship at any point with?
C: Some of my dearest friends and long-time friends and college friends were
people in the Chamber of Commerce and the business community, and they
could not have been nicer. They could not have been more cooperative. They
were doing everything they could to get the county commission to cooperate and
the different areas of the county to cooperate, such as beaches and [Key] Largo
and St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs. But they never were able to get
all of the groups together on a project that was important to all of them. As a
result, we did not get a heck of a lot accomplished in Pinellas County. But there
were some fine, fine businesspeople, commercial people, over there who still are
there and are still good friends.
B: Any names that occur to you?
C: Raleigh Green, Jr., obviously, was one, who became the CEO of Florida Federal,
HIL CO 73 page 55
which his father had started in 1933. A lot of lawyers that I had gone to school
with but whom I also had gotten to know later. Baya Harrison [and Ben Overton,
later a justice of the Florida Supreme Court], who was a lawyer. Any number of
people. There were just great individuals there who were in the business and the
community who were cooperative and wanted to help, but never could get the
county government and the city governments to cooperate.
B: All right. That is probably a pretty good point for us to bring it to a halt for today,
and I want to thank you.
C: Well, I appreciate it.
[End of Interview.]