This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limits the amount of materials that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contacat the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Mrs. Virginia Conrad
INTERVIEWER: Sid Johnston
February 19, 1983
J: Good morning, Weenie. How did you get the name "Weenie"?
C: I had a great nephew that hadn't seen me for a long time. He was
at the foot of the stairs, and my mother was sick, and I was at
the head of the stairs. His nurse had brought him down to see
his grandmother, and I stooddown at the head of the stairs, and I
said, "Well, hello Donald," and he looked up at me and said, "Hello
Weenie Corklin." And I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Aren't
you Weenie Corklin?" No one has ever been able to find out, not
his mother, or anybody, where the name "Weenie Corklin" came from.
But from that day on I have been "Weenie Corklin". Since then all
the grandchildren, great-grandnieces, and nephews, have called me
"Weenie". The other side of that my family, my husband's side, the
Conrad's call me "Aunt Red". But to the Johnston side of the fam-
ily, I am "Weenie".
J: Where does "Aunt Red" come from?
C: Well, I have red hair, and all my friends call me "Red". So I am
just "Aunt Red", I'm still "Aunt Red" at eighty-two years old. I
was born in August of 1900.
J: Where were you born?
C: I was born on south Boulevard in DeLand, Florida, in a house that's
now a filling station. My mother and father had been married ten
years before they had a son, Paul Johnston, and then I came along.
I was named Virginia, and we are Paul and Virginia, which is a
classic. But neither of us lived up to that really.
J: Do you recall the address of the house?
C: Well, it was on the 100 block; it's right downtown now in DeLand.
It was the first house in DeLand, Florida to have electricity.
Cords hung from the ceiling with a bulb at the end, and you
reached up and turned them on. My mother's family came here in
1873 and homesteaded out near the Stetson estate, south. It
joined the southern border of the Stetson estate. In the big
freeze, I was always a little confused if it was 1889 or '98, they
lost everything. The trees split and they moved into town into
this house. That is where they lived most of their married life
until Paul was born, and then I was born.
J: What were your parents' names?
C: Bertha Bennett and Sydney Weller Johnston.
F: When were they married?
C: Oh, I don't know. About ten years before Paul was born. Thirteen
years before I was born, and I was born in 1900. You'll have to
figure that out.
J: Where did they come from?
C: My father came from Hernando, Mississippi. My mother's family
came from Wabash, Indiana, There were no railroads. They came
down to Jacksonville and got on the riverboat, and came down the
St. Johns River. My grandfather, Basil Bennett, had preceded them
and had planted an orange grove and built a home. My mother tells
me that he met them at the landing, which was then called Lake
Beresford Landing. He had two horses and a flat wagon on which
they put all their worldly possessions, of which some I still own.
He took them to that home and they lived there until the big
freeze. They lived there from '73 until either '89 or '98, which
I'm confused about, and then they moved in town.
J: There was a big freeze in December 1894 and February 1899.
C: That's the one I'm talking about (1894); that's when they moved
J: Were you born in a house, or in a hospital in DeLand?
C: Oh there was never any hospital here in 1900.
J: How long did you stay in the home?
C: We stayed in that home until Papa made a little more money, and
we bought a beautiful lot near Stetson University on Michigan
Avenue. We had sold the home on south Boulevard and moved into a
house that we rented on Rich Avenue while we waited for the house
to be completed. We moved into the house in 1906. I have pic-
tures of us driving up to it. It was a big colonial house with
columns. I can remember the truck backing up to the door, and I
was allowed to ride on that truck with my brother. Each room in
that house had a fireplace; that was all the heat we had. Finally
we just couldn't keep the house warm, and we'd close off the liv-
ing room. Then upstairs in his room Papa put in a coal grate, and
we'd all go out there in the morning and get dressed in his room.
The house was laid out differently than any house I've ever seen
since. My room entered into my mother's, my mother's entered
into my brother's, my brother's entered into my father's, and then
my father's went out on to this was upstairs, a large screen
porch. We would all grab our clothes and run into Papa's room to
get dressed in the morning in front of the coal grate. By then he
had the fires going downstairs. Of course, in those days we paid
five dollars a week for service that stayed all day, and they would
come in the morning and bring in the wood and start the fires. Of
course, you couldn't do that now; nobody could afford that now.
J: How many servants were there?
C: We had a colored maid who came in the morning and got breakfast,
and lunch, and then she had a son named Alvin, and he came and did
the wood work, carried in the food. We had an old colored woman
who we called "Dichie"; I don't know why. Something about that
we couldn't say diapers and so we said "Dichies". She always
changed our diapers, so she became "Dichie", "Dichie" stayed
with us a long, long time.
J: Was the house on Michigan Avenue the first house in DeLand to
C: No, the one on south Boulevard. By the time we got up there we
had things you punch in the wall. But "Dichie" stayed with us
and from then we went to Julia. We were up on a hill on Michigan
Avenue. Then down from us was a colored settlement called "Red
City". It was a very high class group of colored people. But I
must tell you, on Michigan Avenue colored people were not allowed
to walk to their quarters. Ohio Avenue was the street south of
us, where the Greyhound bus station is now. The colored traffic
all went down Ohio Avenue, up Amelia Avenue and down into "Red
City", which really was Michigan. We called where we lived
"Quality Hill". My mother and father's best friends, Dr. and Mrs.
Fisher, owned Fisher's Drug store in downtown DeLand. They bought
the lot two down from them and built a home. They moved up there
soon after we did. So Uncle Doc and Aunt Gert were my lifelong
friends; they weren't my real uncle and aunt, of course. Every-
body in those days called all their friends uncle and aunt. But
the colored people were not allowed to go in front of our houses,
which doesn't seem possible now. We never locked a door; I would
come in at night and go upstairs; I cannot remember a front, side,
or back door. We had a large veranda and from the east corner you
could get all four winds; we had a great big swing out there and
every night after supper, the family would go out there and sit.
J: Sounds like you really liked that house, and that it was a happy
and warm place.
C: Oh, that was home! Yes, oh my goodness, yes! And the big fires,
I can remember sitting at the breakfast table and looking through
the entrance hall, which was really a room, and into the big, for-
mal living room and seeing those fires burn. Christmas morning
was wonderful; they put up a tree and, of course, we had real
candles. Paul and I had to stay at the top of the stairs until
Momma and Papa got all the candles in little brackets and lighted.
Then we came down and got our presents and then blew those
candles out; they were not lighted again. We did that first thing
Christmas morning. We lit the candles only that one time each
year because it was very dangerous. Of course, each time we had
a real tree; they's go out in the woods, and you didn't have to go
very far then. Everything around Stetson University was pine
J: What color was the house?
C: A light green with dark shutters. Everybody in town was shocked
at Momma; it should have been white they thought. Well, my
mother wanted to things differently, as I have. All my life I
just haven't wanted to be like everybody else; it's fun to be a
little different, and have people look at you like-oh, my good-
ness--and so Momma, she painted it green and I guess it would have
been better white, I mean, all colonial houses were white, but
ours was green, and stayed green, too.
F: Did your mother or father ever talk about the Civil War and their
C: Oh, my father, he lived through the carpetbag plays. After his
son, Paul, married, and Paul had two sons, Donald and Dick
Johnston, Dick used to spend hours with Papa up in his room, lis-
tening to history of the Civil War. But Papa never told him that
the South lost the Civil War. He thought the South won every
single battle, and when that boy went to school, he still thought
the South won the War. He had his father's Confederate suit. My
mother had her father's suit; he was a doctor in the Union army.
My mother thought it was funny when she put the two wuits, the
Confederate suit and the Union suit, in a trunk in our attic. And
somehow the squirrels would get into the attic and drop acorns
through, and we would always say, "That's our grandfathers
fighting the Civil War in that trunk." Then that house burned and
we lost many valuable things. Among the things we lost was a
side-saddle that my mother had used. We always had a pony in the
barn after we moved to Michigan Avenue. In fact, we had a pony on
J: What year did that burn?
C: Let's see. Momma died in '33, so about '35. It must have been
two or three years after she died.
J: Was it still your home?
C: Oh, no. Papa sold it to a Mr. and Mrs. Grey Black.
J: What did Papa Sydney do for work?
C: He ran and helped establish the E.O. Painter Printing Company. I
can't give you much of the history of that because I just knew it
was where he worked and we worked awfully hard. Night after night
he would go back; he ran the linotype operators; he fed the
presses; and he really worked very hard and made a very good liv-
ing for us, but we were not rich. I was taught to be very
thrifty and although we had everything, we were one of the last
families to have a car. We stuck with the horse-and-buggy. I
remember the morning our horse Prince died. He had stringhalt.
And I used to try to ride him horseback; it was terrible riding
him because you'd go bumpity-bump. Paul went down to feed him one
morning and Prince was dead, and he came screaming up the backyard.
Our lot was deep and joined Stetson University property on the
J: You were saying that your father went back to the printing company
C: He walked there.
J: He actually did the printing work himself?
J: Was he an office manager?
C: He did everything. He got the business, he printed it, he got it
out. He did have a bindery and a woman that worked for him for
years and years. I can't recall her name. She was out at the
printing office in DeLeon Springs. What did they call her?
J: Dewey Finelli?
C: Finelli. That's right. She was his right-hand bower. She did the
bindery work. He worked that up into quite a big establishment.
We got lots of printing out of Jacksonville, and not so much Tampa,
I don't believe. But he was always going to Jacksonville and
would get these liquor contracts; we did liquor labels. We made a
terrible mistake once. He did this big job for a church and a big
job for the liquor people, and the people that stuffed the envel-
opes sent the liquor advertisements- to the Christian people
(laughter) and, anyways the liquor got the Christians, and the
Christians got the liquor. And I don't think he collected for
either one (laughter). We went through a bad time with that I re-
J: That was a temperance league or something?
C: That's right.
J: How far was the office where he worked from the home?
C: Well, the office is on Wisconsin Avenue, and then you come to Rich,
then New York. It was four long blocks, and I mean that's a long
block from New York to Howry.
J: When was the business moved to Wisconsin Avenue?
C: Oh, that's where it originated, down in the hole. That's my first
recollections. You see, I was born in 1900, and he'd been in the
printing business, I guess, ever since he married Momma, when they
were out towards Stetson. That was way out of town then. Stetson
estate had a great big orange grove and they built a shed over it,
to protect it. And my father's estate was actually homesteaded.
That's what he did, he got it by homesteading it. His homestead
connected with the Stetson estate on the south, which is now Spring
J: So the business was about four blocks away from the home?
C: At least.
J: That's Michigan to Wisconsin Avenues.
C: No. Michigan's where the new house was. We were on south Boule-
vard at that time. Then after we moved to Michigan, he cut through
some neighbor's yard. The Rose's let him walk through, and then he
crossed under a railroad trestle. That was the little line that
came in from DeLand junction to DeLand. He went under that trestle
right to the E.O. Painter Printing Company which was down in a hole.
Then towards the end, they got to making some money, and he needed
coal to keep his place, and he had a carload of coal delivered.
And Stetson University, and Bert Fish, and the Abstract Company
downtown all depended on him for their coal supply. Then as time
went on, he turned that over to his son Paul. Paul used to get
his friends and they would go down and fill the truck with coal and
J: So the coal came in by rail?
C: That came in by rail. There was a short rail near the Painter
Printing Company. It's still there; you can see it.
J: Right. So when did you move from south Boulevard to Michigan
J: Could you see the printing office from the Michigan home?
C: No, because of the oak trees. Now, on the corner of Michigan is a
big bank; then there were homes. When we built up on Michigan
Avenue, on what we called "Quality Hill," our house was the first
house built there. Then the Fisher house came. Then some people
named Dody built across the street from us. Then on down Mrs.
Wideman built a big house, and ran it as a boarding house. All of
this is right on the edge of the Stetson campus. Now Stetson has
bought all that property; they bought where our house was, where
Mr. Osborn's was, where Aunt Jim and Uncle Me Perkins's were, they
bought all of that. In fact, I understand they would like to con-
trol Michigan Avenue. Mrs. Buck has died, and sold them her house.
The two houses on the corner they own. I think the only thing left
in there is Aunt Gert and Uncle Doc's house. And I understand they
will negotiate for it.
J: Share with me the first recollections of walking into the printing
plant where your father worked.
C: Momma would dress Paul and I up every afternoon and we'd hitch up
Prince to the two-seater Surrey with a fringe on top. And oh,
that was our big treat. We'd go down to see Papa in the afternoon,
and it's very vague because I knew it as I grew up, so my first
impressions I couldn't give you. But it grew; the bindery was
added. Then I remember once or twice when he's buy a big new
press. We'd all go down to see it. Momma was so proud of that.
He really built that business. In fact, my father is responsible
for my brother's good living, my brother's two son's good living,
and now my brother's two son's sons are working there. So it is a
four generation operation. Whey they never changed the name from
Painter to Johnston, I don't know. But I know at one time my
brother wanted; he went in with my father before he died. But
Papa said no; E.O. Painter was too well established out of town,
and that it would take an awful lot of doing to re-establish the
name from E.O. Painter to Johnston.
J: Was it always a two-story building from what you can remember?
C: You go into an office where the bookkeeper worked, and off of that
was Papa's office. Then you went through a door into the big
pressroom. There were two presses there as I remember; the lino-
types were upstairs. Then off of the big pressroom they built the
bindery. And I guess at that time there weren't too many good
binderies in the state, because he got an awful lot of big printing.
J: Do you remember any of the printing work he did?
C: Not except the liquor and the temperance league. That really
stands out. Oh I know, for years andyyears, and this is something
we lost in the first, we printed Stetson University's annual. It
started back in oh way back (1909). From the time Stetson pub-
lished annuals it had a suede cover, and each year he would get
them a different color suede. Each year, Dr. Hulley, who was then
the president, would autograph one and give it to Momma; we had an
entire collection. It was an Indian name, Oshihiyi. I remember
they were in dark green, browns, and dark red suede. Maybe suede
is not the word. One year it came off on people's hands, and Papa
had trouble with that. But we lost every one of those in that fire.
They would have been very valuable to Stetson now, if we had them,
because Dr. Hulley autographed all of them. Then I remember when
Hulley stopped letting Papa print them. They were a Baptist
school, and there were Baptist printing offices opening in the
state. So consequently, we didn't get the business. It was all
fair I'm sure, but we didn't think it was fair. It was something
he looked forward to in getting his money every spring. I don't
know what year they stopped, but they were all up there through
about '22, I guess.
J: You mentioned that you and Momma were really proud of Papa Sydney
in the way he built the business and the new presses that were com-
ing in. About what time era was this when you can recall the
C: Oh heavens no. I just know every now and then we'd hear that the
old press was wearing out; and they didn't have money to buy a new
one. Then the people would come from Atlanta, Schroeter Brothers,
and put in the presses for him. When Austin and I were married,
Mr. Schroeter sent us a beautiful silver pitcher. That was Mr.
Schroeter's wedding present to us when we were married in 1922.
He used to come and we'd always have him to dinner at our house on
J: So all the different presses were before 1925?
C: Yes, well from then on I guess they had to keep buying them. And
linotype operate machines, too. I was never allowed to go upstairs
without an adult, something about getting in the machinery. I re-
member some of the workers taking my hand, and I'd go and watch
them working the linotype machines. There was Bertha Pollard that
worked there for years and years. She would stop and make my name
on a little piece of lead, and I would bring those home. They had
a big pot that they melted lead with so they could set new type.
J: Do you recall the kinds of sights and smells within the office when
you went down there?
C: Our one horror was a thing called Printer's Pond next door. When
the hard rains came, one time it flooded the place where he stored
his paper. Papa had quite a good idea of when paper was going up
in price, and he had a storeroom in back of the bindery and the
pressroom. I can remember sliding the big doors back there when
the big truck, well I guess they got it by trucks inthose days; no
it came in on that sideline by train, and then they transferred it
into that storeroom. One day it flooded that, and he sued the
city; I can't tell you the outcome of that. Finally, the city had
to buy it; they kept dumping so much water down there. Oh it went
on and on. You can probably find some records of that.
J: Do you recall if Wisconsin Avenue has always run straight through
as a road between Amelia and the Boulevard?
C: Yes. The railroad track ran right along side of it at one time.
There were no buildings in front of the track, as you rode along
by it. Wait a minute, that's Church Street, isn't it? Wisconsin's
the street where you go down. It's the next street, which is
Church, where the busline is, and where the railroad track really
ran. Then the railroad track was between Church and Wisconsin.
J: Some of the maps I was looking through at the county courthouse
show Wisconsin as a series of little loops, instead of a straight
C: There was a jog, but I, it wasn't so noticeable. They cut down
something there at the top of the hill, and straightened it out.
The Barnett Bank is on it now, and Feasel and Ace Hardware are all
at the top of the hill. I can remember riding downtown later on
in life, and my father always wore white suits, summer and winter.
He just loved it. It kind of attracted attention to him. I can
remember riding by on the Boulevard and seeing Papa walk up the
hill from down at the printing office. We'd stop and pick him up
and ride him to town. But in those days you used your feet.
J: Today that rail siding runs between Wisconsin Avenue and Ohio
C: That's Ohio. That's right.
J: Between Ohio and Wisconsin.
C: That's right. And Ohio runs between Michigan and Wisconsin.
J: Then Church is on the other side of the pond.
C: That's right. The pond used to flood, and there were colored
people who had homes down there. Papa bought some of those homes,
and they were really and truly drowned out several times; those
colored people would have to moved up to higher land.
J: Was that before you were married when these floods happened?
Can you come to a year that might have happened?
C: Any one flood? No. Just occasionally. Like what we've had, like
this winter. The pond would have been gone. It would have over-
J: It would have been a full lake.
C: That's right. Then finally the city put a fence when some alliga-
tors got into the pond. The people working in the printing office
would look out at them sunning themselves. The little pickanin-
nies all were playing in that pond. Finally the city put a fence
up around it.
J: You said a pickaninny?
C: That's what we called the little colored boys.
J: Where does that term stem from?
C: I've heard it all my life. The little pickaninnies. You can't
play with the little pickaninnies.
J: What did your mother do?
C: Oh! Bertha Johnston! She just kept house. That was the help.
She never was too domestic, I must admit. Her one idea was to get
somebody else to do it. Which I am in the same position. If I
can get somebody else to do it, I'll let them do it. But we sure
had three good meals a day. And it was rather formal. We never
sat down to breakfast if we weren't all there. There was some-
thing interesting that we had at our house. We had a gong that we
got someplace. They were three Chinese chimes. There was a big
one at the top dong, dong, dong. There was a soft thing on the
end that you hit the chimes with. When the colored girl got there
in the morning and got breakfast started, we had what we called a
"getting up" bell. Ding, dong, dong, dong, dong, ding. We did the
same thing every morning. That meant get up and get dressed. Get
your teeth washed, get down, and have breakfast. And then the
second one would ring, and that meant breakfast was ready. Momma
and Papa and Paul and I would come down those steps together. And
we sat very formally around the breakfast table and had, I guess,
a very substantial breakfast. I never saw my father go to work
without kissing Momma on the cheek good-bye. Then Paul and I were
off to school, and Papa would walk across Ohio Avenue, under the
trestle. One of the big treats of Paul's and my life was Papa
would take us on Saturday or Sunday to stand under the trestle when
the train went by, which we shouldn't have been allowed to do, I'm
sure. There were cinders and we'd get a cinder in our eye. And
Momma used to fuss about that. Papa would take us hold one of us
under each arm and the train would go over our heads.
J: Did your momma take you down to the printing shop often?
C: Nope. No, no.
J: Once a week?
C: No. Only when something interesting was happening down there. Then
we did finally get phones. And of course, they were on the side
of the wall and you rung 'em and Central would say, "number
please." And the printing office number was 34. Our telephone
number on Michigan Avenue was 55. And Central could listen in to
everything we said. The Central was up over Allen's Drugstore
J: You mentioned you were off to school after he went to work. Where
was the school?
C: Now that was after we were older. I went to Stetson University
Academy. They had a teaching school. Paul and I went there to
kindergarted and all through grammar school. And of course we
walked to Stetson; we weren't far from there. It was in DeLand
Hall, the old school. They were training those teachers to be kin-
dergarten teachers; they also had from the first to the eighth
grade, I guess it was. That's where Paul and I went to school.
J: Did you go beyond eighth grade somewhere else?
C: Well, let's not go into that part of my life. I was never a very
good student. I just would not concentrate. I wanted to have a
good time. They sent me away to school in Jacksonville called
Flagler School for Girls out on St. Johns River. It was called an
open-air school for girls. We wore bloomers and minis and it was
wonderful fun. E.O. Painter's daughter, Okle Painter, made a do-
nation to that school when I was there. Papa may have had some-
thing to do with it; it was a heated swimming pool. Every
morning and night we would go swimming.
J: Did you ever get a chance to meet Okle or Mr. Painter?
C: Oh yes. In fact, one time Papa was going to Jacksonville and he
took Paul, and Paul came back and told Momma they had diamond
doorknobs, which were, of course, glass. And then I was allowed
to go on the next trip. It was a great big mansion right in
Riverside. I can see it now. It was made of grey stone, and to
me looked like a castle, although we lived in what I considered
a big house. But this was really more or less of a palatial
thing. He had made a lot of money with fertilizer, of course.
And I don't know what year Papa bought him out, but he eventually
J: It was about 1904, right after they incorporated.
C: Oh really? Well then why were we still so friendly with him?
He used to come to DeLand and Momma would have him up to meals.
J: I think they probably enjoyed working with each other. They had
started working together sometime in the 1880's, about 1885.
And I think they had developed a really personal relationship.
Now there's a big friend right there, George.
C: That's old George Cat.
J: This is Weenie's cat. He weighs about thirty-eight pounds.
C: No. Thirty-two. Drop him off a little bit. But he isn't the
fattest cat in the world. He's just the biggest in the state of
Florida. He won the prize at the fair.
J: How long ago was that?
C: Oh! Let's see. Four years ago, probably in November.
J: How did you go up to see Painter? What made of transportation
did you take?
C: Oh, the trains had started running by then. I was probably ten
or twelve years old. Another thing we could though, there was a
station down by the College Arms and when Papa was going to
Jacksonville, we would take him in the surrey to the station,
which was right at the corner of Amelia and east New York Avenue.
Then we would hurry home with the horse and buggy when the train
would start and get on our veranda. And there was one vacant
space where we could see the train pass, right where he would
walk to work each day. He would stand between the coach and
baggage car and wave his handkerchief at us. And we had hand-
kerchiefs that we would wave back. That was a big thing. When
he would come on the train we could always see him going through
that little space. Oh, that was a big thing. He never came home
without a present. One day it got to be a family joke. We asked,
"What did you bring us?" A piece of bacon. I don't know where
that came from, but there would be a surprise, of course. Well,
he just brought us a slab of bacon.
J: Earlier in the interview, you mentioned Bert Fish and his connec-
tion in town. Do you recall he and Papa Sydney attempting to form
a printing company in Jacksonville?
C: I don't know who went in with Papa for that. I thought Painter
might have, but I guess he was dead then. Some man and I can't
recall his name. He had a daughter named Evelyn. I do remember
that. They opened a Jacksonville printing company. I think it
finally failed, or else they sold it. Momma was very unhappy at
that time because Papa spent so much time in Jacksonville. I would
go up and stay with his family sometime, when he was growing up.
J: With the Painter's?
C: No, with the family that went into the printing company with him.
Momma was used to having Papa home, and it just didn't suit her
because in order to get that established, he'd go up and stay a
week or two at a time, maybe come home (on the weekends). See, our
transportation was the train. And at that time we had the little
sideline. Then later on in life, we'd have to take him out to the
junction. Then when they moved the station up on Michigan Avenue,
we'd take Prince and the surrey, and hitch him up there. The train
that ran late in the afternoon was called eighty-five. We would
ride out to the station on Michigan and buy tickets at ten cents a
piece. We would take a lunch, ride out on that train, and see the
big train come in, have our lunch, and come back in on the train
and pick up Prince and come home.
J: What did your surrey look like?
C: It's a four wheel vehicle with a top on it. Don't you know in
"Oklahoma," the song, "A Surrey with a Fringe on Top." Well,
there's a very famous song about "Oklahoma". The surrey had a
fringe on top. That's what everybody had; it was a sign of ele-
gance. Momma and Papa would sit up front and drive, and Paul and
I sat in the back seat. Oh boy, that was fun. Glad to think
about that again.
J: Where did you all drive?
C: Straight on up Michigan Avenue from where we lived to the station.
Then in the afternoon, we'd drive out and Momma would show us the
old homestead. That was one of our trips. She had moved as a
girl from there when the orange grove had frozen down. And she'd
show us where the house was, that they finally burned. That was
our big treat.
J: What were the roads like?
C: Oh! Pine straw. Then they started putting the shell down. Then
those roads would become just terrible after a rain. But Michigan
Avenue, up until the time I was grown, was pine straw. It was a
hill. And when they started having automobiles, the wheels would
spin. Everybody saved the pine needles. The city would come and
rake your yards to put them out in the streets. The side streets
were pine straw at that time; I think they put clay on the main
J: How was your ride in the surrey to Daytona Beach?
C: We couldn't do that. When they went to Daytona in the summer,
which they did occasionally, they would rent a vehicle. Sometimes
they didn't get through this little creek out there. What did they
call that little river that runs along on the Daytona road?
J: Tomoka River.
C: And if it was high, they'd have to turn and come back. Otherwise,
the horses would go through it and they'd have their trunks with
their clothes in it to stay maybe a month. The Seaside Inn is
where we used to stay. My grandfather died over there. I wasn't
born. But they had gone over for the summer and were staying at
Seaside Inn. Doctor Bennett died in Daytona, on one of these va-
J: So the trip to Daytona for the day was...
C: Oh no. In fact, even after you got cars, your car would break down.
You would have to get out, an get water from the ditches to put in
the radiator. We didn't have a car; people would take us occasion-
ally. But you would go in the morning, and come home in the after-
J: Did you ever take a car to Jacksonville to see Mr. Painter?
C: Not in my lifetime. When did Painter die?
C: Well, see, I was thirteen years old when he died. So all of this
that I'm telling you about Painter was before 1913.
J: You said Paul thought of the house as a mansion with diamond knobs.
What did you think of it when you saw it?
C: Well, I was prepared. I guess I was a little blase. I wasn't
gonna be taken in by it. Now, Okle Painter married a very promi-
nent lawyer up there named Williams and did a lot of good. She
had a daughter and I would think that you could trace that
Williams girl. Because I know Okle Painter wanted to keep her
identity and make a business. I think she went into real estate.
J: She also took over the fertilizer business after Painter died.
I'm not sure when the business folded but it's sometime in the
C: Where would Okle Painter be in my age bracket. I don't know. I
believe she was older then I am. She was a big woman, I remember.
J: In 1913, she was a secretary for Painter.
C: Was that before she was Williams?
C: We always called her Okle Painter Williams. Papa used to laugh
about it. I don't know whether she got in his hair or not. But
Painter was always pushing Okle and I think papa probably didn't
think she was capable. But she came through. I believe she got
along real good.
J: I think she had a good degree of professionalism about her in bus-
iness. She was a secretary for Mr. Painter at the fertilizer com-
pany for quite a while.
C: She would have had to in those days. Women weren't doing things
like that. But she was unattractive, I remember. She was not at-
tractive to Papa or Momma, and I don't remember that she ever came
to DeLand with him.
J: In Riverside, when you were there, was Mr. Painter's house on the
C: No. That's called Riverside. A very exclusive, very beautiful,
great big homes. Some of them are on the river, but his was a
block back. It was on the corner of King Street and something.
Virgil Bennett recalls it. I was talking to her about the Bunt's
who were very rich and very influential lumber people, I believe.
They lived next door to the Painter's. In there were the Wilcox's
and the, I can't think of their name, but they were very prominent
Jacksonville people. Painter was among them. But I don't recall
Mr. E.O. Painter at all.
J: I've got an old snapshot of DeLand that I'd like you to take a
look at and identify some of these buildings. This is from a
paper dated February 1, 1975. I'm looking at the center photograph
and I see a horse and a cart with two people in it.
C: That's Prince and this is our little wagon. Now this was before
the surrey with the fringe on top. This is a July fourth parade
and, of course, Momma saw to it that we led it. I don't know any-
body else. I guess that's the fire engine right in back of us,
isn't it? With the horses drawing it? ...right here has been
torn down and the new bank's been built. That's not there now.
J: Looking at this picture, going from left to right, can you identi-
fy these buildings for me?
C: That was Miller Hardware on the corner of New York and Boulevard.
J: Is the the boulevard looking north?
J: Then this next...
C: I don't remember. Bars, she sold material, was down there. Now
this was evidently torn down and the bank building is there across
from... That is Allen's Drugstore. In back of Allen's drugstore
was a post office, where my grandfather was first postmaster.
J: What is at the corner here of Rich add :the Boulevard?
C: No. That's Indiana. Rich is down here. That's the Codrington
J: The Codrington building is almost out of sight then.
C: It's on the corner of Rich and the Boulevard. Allen Drugstore is
on the corner of Indiana. This is the old Volusia County Bank that
failed. Miller's Hardware has a balcony out here. And they
turned that into apartments and people lived up there. Now you
see how few people came out to see the parade because everybody was
in it. There weren't any people left to come to the parade.
J: The streets look like they might be sand.
C: Clay sand. They finally turned it to sand.
J: That's the main street and this photograph is dated 1903.
C: I was three years old and Paul was five. See the bicycles, the
carts, and the people? Everybody dressed like that. They wore
suspenders and straw hats. Paul Johnston led the Fourth of July
parade. They didn't even put me in there.
J: Well, you were probably a little toddler.
C: My mother saw to it that we got in there.
J: Do you remember the College Arms Hotel in DeLand?
C: It was the center of everything. The train that came in from the
station brought in their help every year on that little sideline.
Many of the rich people who came, John B. Stetson being one of
them, had private cars and their private cars would come and be
put on a siding at the station that was up on the corner of Amelia
and New York Avenue. Many rich people, and I remember we heard
that they charged as much as, oh, what was it a day? We just
thought that was terrible. Once a year, papa saved his money and
took momma and Paul and me there to have a Sunday dinner. The
main thing was that if Paul didn't take his napkin out, he
couldn't have his dinner. That was the big joke before we left
home. He was to be sure and take his napkin out. But many
famous people I can't think of the names right now one was
Rhinehart, and a lot of people connected with Stetson up in
Philadelphia. They would spend the entire winter here and we
would get to know some of them. Over where Pantry Pride is now was
their golf course. It was a private golf course just for the
College Arms people. Towards the end the DeLand people were asked
to be members. That was when the College Arms people really
started mingling. But it used to make my mother upset because
they talked about the village, which was DeLand. It was built on
the same lines as a forties ghost hotel. It had about four stories
and an elevator. It was the first elevator I was ever in. And as
I grew older, along sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, they had a
big dance every Saturday night with an orchestra that consisted of
a violin and a piano and a drum. And the DeLand boys of the fam-
ilies that were know were invited to have dates. That was our big
thing, going to the College Arms dances. The ballroom was round
and I can remember whirling around there thinking I was something,
in a new dress. That Saturday night was quite something in my
life. And they would bring a car load, we called them biddies,
from Philadelphia, which were the servants and the bellboys. They
lived out in that train. No, I guess they lived in the fourth
floor of the College Arms. And one or two of the DeLand boys had
little affairs with the biddies, and it was quite scandalous. Do
you know that so-and-so had a, I won't call names, had a date with
a biddy? And those biddies were probably just as decent as we
were, but they were servants at the College Arms.
J: You said that a new dress was something in your life. When you
bought a dress, where did you go to purchase it?
C: Oh, you had it made. There were seamstresses here. In fact, my
wedding dress was made. I had someone come to the house. Momma
would have a girl, a seamstress, come to the house probably sev-
eral times a year, in the spring, and fall. And we would buy ma-
terial and get patterns, and they would put the sewing matching up
in papa's room. Of course, it wasn't electric then. Peddle, ped-
dle, peddle, and make clothes for the season. Then I remember
when I was about fourteen, B. Altman's catalog came and momma
saved up enough money and ordered me a green coat. I was going to
Stetson and Stetson colors were green. Our winters were definitely
not what we're having now. I don't ever remember being cold.
That is the only coat I ever remember having. We just used those
fireplaces. We couldn't live now with just a fireplace.
J: That was the coat that you ordered from the catalog?
C: Yes. That was B. Altman's. It had the B. Altman's tag in it. I
wore it for years and years! It was beautiful. It was all wool.
I remember it had a belt. But I was quite something because I had
a coat from B. Altman's in New York City. Then as time went on,
she started ordering from Bess, but Bess was not that expensive.
J: Did it take quite a while to get the jacket in? Were you anti-
cipating it for a while?
C: We picked it out in the catalog and it probably came along in
September. The mails were coming through pretty, oh, of course,
not like they do now. We had three or four trains a day going
south, and three or four trains a day going north at that time.
But eighty-five was a big train that the passengers came in. It
got here around five o'clock at night. I don't know when it left
New York. Now DeLand is the only station the train stops. You
can't get off at Daytona. You can get off at Sanford. But any-
body that wants to go to Daytona, and the hotels over there when
you go out to meet the trains, the hotels send their buses over to
pick up the people that are going to stay at their hotels.
J: You said that towards the end the College Arms Hotel...
C: Well, during World War II, I guess, the Navy took it over. It
was getting where people did not want to come and stay a whole
season. They would have cars and they would go from DeLand to
Miami, and back, and stay three or four days like they do now.
But in those olden days, they spent the entire three or four months
here. They just couldn't keep it going, and so it was sold to the
Navy. Oh my, that was quite a gay time. They were all at the
golf club and by then we were all members of the College Arms Golf
Course, it was called. We met all the important people that
stayed up there.
J: When do you recall it being torn down?
C: They tore it down when Bert Fish bought it and gave it for the
hospital. I don't know exactly when that happened, but I know
that he gave the land, no, his brother, Ben Fish, gave the land.
Bert Fish built the hospital building. And it was called Fish
J: There's some letters that you have that are written by your papa
to you when you were in Mentone, Alabama.
C: Oh, Mentone Springs. Rachel Steven's sister was the hostess up
there, and I was always having malaria. The one idea was to get
me out of Florida in the summer. I remember she went with me as
my chaperone. I stayed a month in Mentone Springs.
J: Did that happen for only one year?
C: Just that one summer, and I don't think I stayed but a month.
J: Paul didn't go with you?
C: No, I guess I was eighteen years old the year I was up there.
J: Now you said earlier that your mother was a housewife and it seems
that she was a very prolific photographer and being involved with
you in North Carolina, and making trips with you.
C: Well, she was an ambitious person. I really think that she be-
lieved Paul would be the president of the United States someday,
and that I would be the first lady. That's why we have all these
pictures. When we were first born, she took a picture every week
so that when the time came, whe would have our pictures as
children. But she really thought we were going to be something.
They were married ten years before they had any children, and I
guess we were two pretty spoiled children.
J: What did Painter Printing look like from the outside?
C: It was an old brick building. I think it was sandstone brick.
They used to make sandstone brick. The Bond Lumber Company did
that at Lake Helen. Many of the buildings in DeLand are made of
them. Austin Conrad never had much faith in them. He said they
put more sand in them than they should, and he wondered if they
would someday crumble. But everybody bought brick from there, and
I was pretty sure that was Bond Lumber Company brick used at
Painter Printing. I'm also sure the lumber in this house was
hand-picked by Austin. The floors are made of inch pine knotting.
The closer you get to the heart of the pine, the harder the wood.
Our gloors are all hand-picked and laid in a pattern, and it's
too bad that we've put wall-to-wall carpeting on. But it was just
impossible to keep pine floors polished and looking good. When we
first moved up here, we had two nine-by-twelve rugs in there and
the rest of it was bare. We just couldn't keep the floors shined.
We finally came to putting in the wall-to-wall carpeting.
J: So was the plant landscaped?
C: Oh no! It was a hole. Nothing would grow down there. I was
speaking of that coal business. I believe Papa started making
food money off that coal deal. That train would come in on that
siding and would stay there until they got it all unloaded into a
pen. I remember they sold to the hospital and to Stetson
University. Then Stetson started putting in oil and coal bit, but
it was not good coal. It was soft coal and it would smoke. I can
remember seeing the black smoke coming out of the chimneys up at
Stetson and the hospital. And by the way, down at the printing
office I remember Papa used to have to get up if he didn't have
someone else to do it and go down to start some kind of a fire
to melt the lead. I can remember him leaving early some morn-
ings because so-and-so... Usually they had a person do that, but
you couldn't depend on them. Do they still melt that lead at the
J: Yes. They've got an electric melting pot today.
C:i That's how he started buying coal. He needed that coal, and some-
times he'd get two and three carloads a winter, if he had it
booked and sold.
J: Did you have a professional landscaper come to your house on
C: Oh for heaven's sakes, nol The colored men would come and do it,
And of course, we had big oak trees. We had a terrible time get-
ting along. It was a fight, just like it is now; you can't get a
J: When were you married?
J: Who did you marry?
C: Austin Ulrich Conrad. Ulrich, is German. I can't tell you the
story, but something about his grandfather getting out of Germany
under...It's quite a story. I don't who has it, but I wish I had
written it down. But he escaped some way and got into the United
States. Then that family, I think, originally homesteaded in New
York state near Seneca Falls. But somewhere in the West, Wisonsin,
some of them were also, I think. And Uncle Jake was a Florida
state senator (28th district, 1913, 1915), and Austin Conrad was a
page for him at about twelve years old. Uncle Jake came down here
and bought, I'm afraid to say because it'll sound like too much.
But I think it was acres and acres and acres of land. Then they
put up a planing mill. It was a big thing. They had three little
trains. They ran the tracks all through the piney woods, and they
would bring the wood into the Conrad Lumber Company. They would
cut it and lathe it. Then we went in turpentine business. When
all the first growth pine was cut over, they took the little pines
and slashed them. We started the turpentine business in Barberville.
There's a law that you can only do an inch a year or something. We
have pictures of that. It was quite something to go out and watch
them dump that. It was hot and furious and the flames came up, and
they put the pure turpentine, and then the resin would go to one
place and the turpentine to another. Then what was left was per-
fectly wonderful for making fires with. They gave it to everybody
in DeLand. We'd come out and get sackloads of it at Barberville.
Every Satufday night from the time we were married, Austin and I'd
leave here at five o'clock with a payroll and the colored men from
the lumber yard would meet us under a tree on the Glenwood Road.
He'd call out Joe, Tom, and they'd step up and get their money.
They always had to have a little extra. They paid them with tokens.
Don Johnston could give you quite a bit on that token business.
They used the tokens at the commissary. That's where Austin worked
when we first married. He also kept the books out at the lumber
J: It was almost like a little town?
C: No, just this one building. Then they had a railroad station that
the train went through one time. It didn't make the curve, and
split right through it. It was a terrible wreck. It was a passen-
ger train and all the people were brought into the hospital here.
J: What was Uncle Jake's full name?
C: Oh, heavens. Everybody ought to know that. I don't. Jacob B.
Conrad, I believe. He was president of several banks and then a
bunch of the men here in town got together and they built the
Clarington Hotel, which is now the Plaza, I think, in Daytona
Beach. He was a very rich and influential man. Very smart man.
He had no children. He was my husband's idol. He took him on all
his trips with him. Austin travelled everyplace with him. From
the time Austin was a little boy had this quick mathematical brain.
He could just really figure. So when time came, Uncle Jake had
died, and then Cousin Ray took over and was president of all the
things. Then when Cousin Ray died, Austin took over.
J: Where did Austin get the name "Deedee" or "Dee"?
C: Well, that's just too silly to tell. That's a little private ro-
mance that we had going. But it came from a comic strip called
"Deedee Bumpkins", I think. And the silly part was we were both
"Deedee". He called me "Deedee" and I called him "Deedee". Then
I went into "Weenie". But most everybody called him "Bo Peep".
He was the smallest person in Stetson, and he played shortstop on
their team up there. They called him "little Bo Peep". So that's
where he gets the Uncle Bo. Everybody calls him "Uncle Bo".
Eleanor, Allen, and all those children all call him "Uncle Bo".
Well, I think David Gumby does.
J: Did Dee move from New York with his parents?
C: Oh no. He was born here. Uncle Jake moved down here. Then the
whole family came down. There were houses out in Glenwood.
Austin's mother's name was Bonnie Wood. She married Austin's
father, who was John Conrad, who was a brother of Uncle Jake's.
However, Uncle Jake had half-brothers. Fred Conrad, who was pres-
ident of the Merchant's Bank in.Daytona, and a big man over there.
And Eugene Conrad, who ran a grocery store. By the way, Austin
used to go over and spend the summers with Uncle Gene. There was
one launch that went twice a day from the mainland to Daytona
Beach. He went with the grocery man and delivered the groceries
to the people on the beachside; there were only about four or five
houses on Daytona Beach at that time. He had the fun of getting
in that lauch and going across the Halifax River, and they would
dock over there. Then they would have a team meet them and they
would go from house to house and deliver those groceries. He used
to love to tell me about that.
J: This was all before the turpentine business?
C: Oh, this was when he was a little boy. This is before he went to
J: Where did he go to college?
C: He went to Stetson and got many diplomas. The year that Uncle
Jake died and Cousin Ray stepped up, Austin was offered this job
out there. He was within three months of graduating from college
at Stetson. Either he took that job or they got somebody else.
So he quit school and went out there and went to work, thank good-
ness. Because see what he worked into. He came right along with
it. He was only about eighteen then. But he had such a brain
that... I used to know, when we lived in DeLand and he lived out
there, there were people in town who were connected with the
Bond's and the Conrad's who originally came here together, and
they used to tell about this little boy out in Glenwood that was
so smart with figures. And they'd quote things that he said and
did. That was my husband. Then he started coming to town; he and
Paul were good friends. He and his sister drove this little horse,
Peanuts, into town from Glenwood every morning. He'd sit in Dr.
Hulley's backyard. Then they'd both go to school. Austin would
come home with Paul for lunch a lot. I was eight years old when I
first started eyeing him. And he started to eye me. And then as
time went on, why, we really more or less courted all of our lives.
I've known him all my life.
J: Did you all attend many parties together?
C: Oh yes! Everything. In fact, my mother thought I should see
other people. Oh, I had quite a few dates and things, but it was
Austin always that I'd go back to. And she'd say, well, you just
don't know. You haven't been out with enough other boys. And she
really did not know. Neither Papa nor Momma, well, Papa, I think
had enough insight to realize what a fine person I was getting.
But I think Momma still was wanting me to marry the president of
the United States. Austin just didn't suit her. But as time went
on, he was the one that really was good to her. In fact, he paid
as much attention to her as Paul did.
J: What did you all do for dates?
C: Oh! Pictures shows finally. Ten cents. Downtown was a drugstore.
And, oh boy! You'd have a class at Stetson from eight to nine.
And you'd have a vacant period from ten to eleven and everybody
would walk downtown. Coca Colas were five cents. We'd get one,
put two straws in it. And then the fraternities started having
dances. Austin was Sigma Nu. You saw pictures of the big Sigma
Nu dance in that one book. And oh! Daytona. The pier. Oh!
Every Friday and Saturday night, they had this great big ballroom
out on the end of the pier, and they'd have one of the big balls
that go around in the center and big bands would come play music.
J: How did you all get over there?
C: Oh, by then, he had a Ford that Uncle Jake owned. We were very
popular because he was one of the very...I think that may be one
reason I wanted to stick with him! I knew I was going to get
places if I went...Oh, he took me to the College Arms dance. And
oh, it was quite a thing. The boys had to be dressed up.
J: Did you have a problem with the stream on US 92 overflowing at
C: Oh there wasn't such a thing as 92. It was a nine foot brick road.
There's some of it still out around the airport. That narrow
brick road. That was the original old Daytona Road. If you met a
car and it had been raining and the shell had washed off, some-
times you were really in trouble. It was awfully hard meeting a
car. You know how narrow it is out there.
J: Did you all ever take a horse and buggy over there?
C: No. Not on a date. You never could do that in one day with a
horse. You would have to spend the night or the week when you
went over there.
J; Would you go over for a day to Daytona, or for an evening with an
C: Oh, my goodness, yes! Oh, we could go twenty-five miles an hour.
J: A whole twenty-five miles an hour.
C: A whole twenty-five miles an hour. That was the speed limit, I
J: Were there any policemen out there on the road?
C: No. Not very many. One interesting thing. Landis, Fish, and Hull
were a big law firm here. And somehow or another, they built one
of the first bridges that went across from Daytona to Daytona
Beach. It's the old Main Street bridge now. You had to stop and
pay a toll. Well, of course, nobody had an extra twenty-five
cents that it cost to go across that bridge. So Erskin Landis
was one of our cohorts, and a good friend of Austin's and Paul's.
We would put on the speed and run through that toll gate saying
""Landis." Then when we'd come back, we'd say "Fish". But we
usually used "Landis", because usually Erskin was with us. We'd
all get down the bottom of the car and whoever was driving it
would holler "Landis" and off we'd go. Nobody ever chased us so
I guess they didn't have it patrolled. But you'd stop and a man
would come out and you'd pay him to go on.
J: When did you have this house built for you and Austin?
C: This house plan was a wedding present from Mr. Cartney, who was an
architect. He was a friend of Momma's and Papa's. So when we
first married, Austin developed this Athen's Park area, and Paul
bought the first lot up on the hill and Austin bought this one
down here. Paul started his house and moved in before we did.
He was the first one up here. And then we were the second. When
we first got married, we rented a house down on Florida Avenue.
I'll show it to you. Then we started the house right away. We
stayed there until it was just too big. We moved into an apart-
ment down on Howry Avenue and started building. We married in
June of '22 and we moved up here in September. The architect had
a hard time. Momma insisted on arches. She wanted panish arches,
and he had a problem adjusting all these arches in these rooms and
fixing the windows to fit them. He said he lost money on it. It
cost us eight thousand, five hundred dollars.
J: That was in 1922.
C: Yes, to build this house. Then we put this wing on in about 1975
and it cost triple that, I think. Just this one room and bath and
J: This one room is twenty by twenty.
C: It's more than that. Twenty-two by about twenty-six. That room in
there is twenty-six by nineteen. But it was a bathroom and it's the
plumbing that runs you up. But I know this one room cost almost
triple what we paid for the whole house in those days.
J: I noticed in some of the early pictures of this house that the
roofed balcony was not there.
C: No. That was a parapet. It was an open balcony and we could never
stop the rain. So finally they raised the roof, and put the roof
over it. They just had to; people still have trouble with parapets.
J: Did Austin share much of the business life with you?
C: Oh definitely not. I had no idea what he made. One day when the
census woman came and asked me how much my husband made, I told
her I had no idea. So when he came at noon, I told him that and
he said you tell her it's none of her business. And that's as far
as I ever got. That's why when he died I had no idea that he had
accumulated the wealth that he had. I was always so conservative
and he was always trying to get me to spend money. He said, well,
you want it, get it. And when we'd go to a restaurant, I'd look
down the menu and pick out the cheapest side. And it would irri-
tate him so. And he'd order something good and I'd eat off of his
plate. And he'd say you should have ordered it yourself. He was
a great fellow. He put up with a lot. He really did.
J: When did your mother and father die?
C: Momma died in 1933, and Papa died in 1936.
J: Now you were on a voyage with him after your momma died.
C: Right after Momma died. All the time Momma was sick, for the last
five years, we had nurses which would come on duty at seven and
stay until seven. We'd pay them twenty dollars a night, which was
forty dollars a day. You couldn't get them for an hour for that.
But Papa would give me so much money to buy the groceries and sort
of help run that house. Each week, whatever was left, she had me
put in an envelope in the top bureau drawer. She said, "When
something happens to me, I want you and Sydney to take a trip."
Papa didn't know about it. She died in August on her birthday,
and we left in September and took a trip to the Panama Canal. We
went to Tampa on the train and caught a boat to Cuba. They were
having a revolution in Cuba that night and the boat wanted to
leave. We had a wild time getting over. Then coming back through
the canal, before we reached Balboa, we went through that awful
hurricane. No, that was on the way over. And it was a terrible
thing. Our radar went out. We limped into San Diego and when we
got in the band was playing because we really were the survivors.
The ship went over a thirty-three degree angle, and the water came
in our necks; we were in the ballroom at the time. The piano and
everything slid down and one of the officers went under the couch
and I fell on him and broke his leg. I got the flashlight out of
his pocket and found Papa sitting over on another chair. It really
kind of ruined the trip going over. Coming back was very pleasant.
J: What did Deedee think about your trip and going with Papa?
C: He always wanted me to do what I wanted to do. He was the most
generous person you've ever heard. He would not travel. He would
not get on a boat. He was seasick going to New York once as a
little boy and he knew that I really wanted to do these things,
and so it was alright. We weren't gone too long. We went over in
two weeks and back in two weeks.
J: Did Deedee take trips with you on the boat often?
C: Towards the last twenty years of our lives, we made at least six-
teen Caribbean trips because he wouldn't be away at the office over
two or three weeks. He just would not get out of contact with
what was going on here. He said if you don't run your business,
nobody else is going to. He finally overcame his seasickness. It
was fear. The first one we went on, he was sick the first night.
We went out of Jacksonville, going through the jetties, and we hit
a storm. He turned green and had to go to his room. But the rest
of the trip was calm. He really had a fear of it, and he found
out he didn't have to be seasick. However, I don't believe that.
Some people just are seasick. They can't help it. A lot of it is
psychological, I believe.
J: Share with me some of the places that you and he travelled to by
C: Oh my goodness. The Hansiatic was our favorite. We went five
times on it. And we went to Barbados, Cucacao, Martinique, and
St. Thomas. They all end up in St. Thomas. That's where you
get your liquor and your perfume cheap. The cheapest perfume was
in Martinique, though. But it was dirty' They had open sewers.
Now I don't think they do, but when we first went, the open sewers
would be running under the bridge.
J: When was your first trip?
C: Our first trip was a terrible one. We went out of Jacksonville on
the Victoria. We had the poorest little old stateroom. We didn't
know anything about what to pick out. From then on, we got nice
big staterooms with private baths. Later we had a sitting room
and bedroom. It's really luxury travelling when you take those
cruises. But that Hansiatic was one of our favorites. We went
five times and finally got a gold pin. You got a silver one each
time until you'd been five times. We knew the cruise and they
knew us. We went every year for I think fifteen years. Barbados
was one of our favorites, too.
J: Did you ever take any cruises by yourself?
C: Yeah. One. In '39. The war was declared. I was on the Corinthia.
That was lots of fun. I went to New York. Margaret Woodall Beech
met me and I stayed with them a couple of days and they put me on
the ship. We sailed out on this Corinthia, which was a great big
English ship. I was travelling alone. It was my first experience.
I was scared, but I did want to see some of the world. We went up
to the St. Lawrence River and went to Sagmanay. While we were out,
war was declared and they closed all our portholes and painted them
black. Nobody was allowed on deck after sunset. There was no air
conditioning in those days, and if they went on deck and somebody
had opened their porthole, they would close your porthole. There
was no smoking. Once a day at twelve o'clock, everybody was as-
sembled and they gave us the war news. There were a lot of French
and English people on there. We thought, when we came back out of
the St. Lawrence into New York, that it would be cancelled. We
thought they would give us all our money back; it was the Canard
line. But we went on down to Bermuda. I had an interesting trip.
There was a young girl travelling with her father that was younger
than I. She was lonesome and we were alone. This boy fell in
love with her, and so I was very lucky. She was engaged to another
person and she wouldn't go any place with Russ without me. So I
had a good time and I would not have had a good trip if it hadn't
been for Harriet. Harriet and Russ took me to nightclubs and I
ate dinner with them. Then we came back from Bermuda and back
into New York. Margaret met me and I came on home.
J: Did you get a call from Dee while you were on ship?
C: No, I don't think so that trip. I had letters. When we docked in
Bermuda, we got in touch. There was never any difficulty about
what I wanted to do. As I say, he was certainly a great fellow.
When Papa died, he left me his money, which was, at that time,
quite a large amount. Every time I wanted to do something, I'd
say, "Well, alright Dee, I'll take Papa's money." But he never
let me touch Papa's money. He'd always spend his money. I didn't
know it; I really thought I was digging into my own money and
taking these trips.
J: When did Papa die?
C: In March, 1936.
J: Did he suffer any real complications from the time that Bertha,
his wife, died?
C: Yes. He just never was himself after that. It's very sad; he
just really didn't want to live. He had no reason to go on. She
was sick five years and we all just were centered around Momma and
that illness. I think that maybe both of us just really let it
get us, and that trip that we took after she died was not good.
We both thought that when we came back, she'd still be here. You
have to have time after something like that.
J: What was she sick from?
C: She had a breast malignancy. She had it removed. Dr. West did it,
and everything was clear. X-ray had just come in and they recom-
mended it, and she went to Jacksonville and took that x-ray. She
really died from an overexposure of x-ray. It cooked the lungs,
and it was as if she had tuberculosis. She'd run .a little fever
every afternoon. There was no germ but the lining of the lung was
cooked, as we understood it. She was a very frail, thin woman, and
evidently gave her the treatment that they would give a healthy,
J: Did you and your brother Paul lose contact during the years?
C: No. When Paul and Connie were married, Dee and I were in their
wedding, and they were in our wedding. We just couldn't have got-
ten along without Paul and Connie. We depended on them, and they
depended on us, especially when you boys were born.
J: They lived up the street, and when did they build their house?
C: Oh, before we did, and they moved in before we did. We moved in
about September, and they had been up there. They added an up-
stairs to their house, and changed it completely.
J: Did your upstairs basically stay the same, then, except for the
C: That's right. When we walked out of our bedroom, we walked right
out into the open air. We lived here about three or four years
before they did that.
J: And Paul added on a whole new story?
C: Well, the two boys were born and they just had one big bedroom and
one small bedroom. So they built an upstairs and added that great
big bedroom. Donald had the downstairs bedroom and Dick slept in
the bedroom off of theirs. They were both born after they moved;
that's the only place they lived.
J: Is there anything else you now remember about Painter Printing?
C: People kept coming in and wanting to make his shop into a union
shop. He was fighting it, and I think he still did up until the
end. At one time, some union men came in here and I remember
hearing Momma and Papa talking about it, and that Paul and I
weren't to be frightened. Some of the people that were working
for Papa did want to join the union. We had dinner that night and
I remember they pulled all the shades down and it was very hush-
-hush. Then later on in life, I would hear them say occasionally
that the union was causing trouble again. I guess the union was
trying to come in on the little businesses and get in control.
The printing company isn't union now, is it?
C: So I guess he held out against that.
J: Was that about 1919?
C: It was before I married in '22.
J: Was Dewey Finelli there then?
C: Oh yes, I think so. Somebody else you really should talk to is
Joyce Bowen. He's in abstract business here and is my age. Any-
thing that I remember, he would remember. He knew Papa and he
might know something about the money that was spent on the Painter
Printing Company. There were colored houses down there, and some
nice colored families. We had what we called good colored sec-
tions and bad. Red City was good colored people, and we got most
of our help from down there. Dun's Bottom was across town; that
area is still known as Dun's Bottom, as I understand it. And
Yamasee was another colored town. There were three of them.
J: Was one of them Spring Hill?
C: No, Spring Hill was what is the truck route now. Our old homestead
was on Spring Hill. There was a spring in there and through the
years Austin and I have bought that property back. We have since
sold it and are still collecting for it. But we would ride out
and try to find the spring. There's a great big sinkhole which we
think now must have been where the spring was.
J: So much of the help that Papa got was from Red City?
C: No, I'm talking about domestic for Papa and Connie (Corbin, who
married Paul Johnston in 1922).
J: That was not for the shop then?
C: No, he had white help down there. In those days colored people
just really didn't have any rights. Out at the railroad station
there was a colored waiting room, a colored bathroom, and a white
waiting room, a white bathroom. There's what we called a Jim Crow
coach on the end of the train. The colored people sat back there.
I remember when they did away with the Jim Crow coaches. We used
to say to people who'd get too brown at the beach that they would
have to sit in the Jim Crow car.
J: How many people did Papa have working for him?
C: Oh, I don't think too many. He had a linotype operator, and the
bindery woman, and a press feeder. Probably four or five. Then
as soon as Paul went in, Paul and Papa were in the front office.
Paul was in what we called the entrance, where the books were
kept. Papa had the private office and off of it was a little
J: Would he go out and make his own business? Or go out and try and
C: Since I've been talking to you about this, I wonder if a lot of
this Jacksonville business wasn't thrown to him from E.O.
Painter, who lived in Jacksonville. I imagine that the whiskey
contracts that he got and the religious ones and any of the big
deals that he got (may have come through him). He did every bit
of Stetson printing. But I think maybe E.O. Painter threw a lot
of it down here because he was still interested in it up until a
J: Now in the 1920's, E.O. Painter Printing Company published the
Supreme Court Records of Florida. Would you think that Painter's
connection there would have made a difference?
C: No. I think Papa probably did that. I tell you who probably did
it. Some of the influential people here. I don't know who our
senator was then.Murray Sams was some kind of politician (Florida
House of Representatives, Volusia County 1918-1923). Uncle Jim
Perkins was a state road commissioner, but that was late in his
life. Papa went to Tallahassee every now and then. He'd be gone
a week when he went to Tallahassee; it seemed to take forever to
get to Tallahassee.
J: Did he ever take you?
C: No. In fact, I was well grown before I went to Tallahassee. I
haven't been too many times now. Dorothy Conrad Simpson lives in
Monticella, and when Leroy Collins was governor, he was their best
friend, and a good friend of Austin's. We have pictures of him
and supported him financially, and went up to his inauguration.
No! Leroy and Dan McCarthy. He was Eastcoast Lumber and Supply
Company and was in with Conrad Lumber Company here. The McCarthy's
were the head people of the Eastcoast Lumber and Supply Company
Tylander. Tylander finally bought us out up here. Conrad Lumber
Company turned into Tylander Lumber. It is now the Diamond Lumber
Company. The Diamond Match people bought it.
J: Did Austin start the real estate company that's known as Conrad
C: No. He bought out Bagley, who had a well-established insurance
company here. Cousin Ray bought out Bagley. Austin had interest
in it from the very first. Cousin Ray and Austin bought out
Bagley and established what was Conrad Insurance Company. Then
they added the real estate. The whole thing was called The Conrad
Company. Under that title was real estate and insurance, which
are two absolutely separate businesses even now. The Conrad
Realty Company still owns a lot of downtown property. They just
rented where the sheriff's office is now. They put in an elevator
in that building. They built the Bond Lumber Company, and Conrad
all those buildings south of town where Betty Dreka is now, and
all along there, and Clark's three story building. Touchton's
Drug Company was the store on the corner, and they owned all that.
block from the jail. We still own from the jail up to Touchton's.
Rhodes Spell has charge of the realty company. He collects the
rent and keeps up the buildings and has made a real good deal just
lately because there was a second hand furniture store, and the
sheriff's office was taken over. He's done it all over. Then
where the insurance company was, Austin put in a big fireplace
down there, and it was a nice office. When Cousin Ray died Dick
Simpson inherited Cousin Ray's part of the insurance company. But
I guess we bought Dorothy and Dick out of the insurance company.
J: Touchton's is where on Woodland Boulevard?
C: It was a drugstore that everybody met and had Coca Colas. It was
on the southwest corner of New York and the Boulevard; it was
where Fisher's Drugstore used to be. Right across from the Dreka
building, which is now the Whitehair Building. We leased it to
Touchton in a ninety-nine year lease. We practically gave it up.
Then came an alley. Then came the big building with the two
stories. Then came another alley. Every Fourth of July and
January first we have seen horses that we put up with signs on
them, "This is the property of Conrad Realty Company." If you use
something so long, it finally becomes the property of the city.
So we closed those alleys for two days out of every year. Conse-
quently, we still own those alleys in there. One of the bank
buildings we turned into a garage so that all the people that
rented from us have a place to put their cars.
J: When was the Bond Lumber Company out in Glenwood phased out?
C: It was phased out in that they cut over all the lumber and put in
orange trees. That became big orange groves out there. Cousin
Ray really took care of the orange groves. Austin had very little
to do with that. I forget what year they absolutely stopped saw-
milling and moved in town. It's in some records. It probably's
in that record that you have there. Then they moved in and opened
the Conrad Lymber Company, which is the retail place here in town
now. That was the same time that they bought out Bagley. That's
why Austin worked so hard. He had charge of the lumber company
and the insurance company and the realty company. As long as
Cousin Ray was here, he ran part of it and Austin was more or less
the bookkeeper, or just the handyman. But after Ray died, Austin
was determined that those things were going to continue and do
well. He felt that some of the Conrad family, I won't tell names,
did not feel that he was as capable as Cousin Ray. But he stepped
in and proved it and made a great deal of money for them.
J: Now it sounds like the sawmill was out near the railroad.
C: It was. Now that's the property, some of it, that Jeff has
J: Do you know what the streets are?
C: Well, one's called Bond's Mill. Grand Avenue runs through Glen-
wood and you go through Glenwood and you come to Bone's Mill and
you turn to the left and go down toward the tracks and the commis-
sary was there. Then the big sawmill, and then over to the left
was the planer where they dressed the lumber. And then they'd
bring it into the Conrad Lumber Company in town.
J: By rail or by truck?
C; I think by truck, then. They did use rails. On the mainline,
they had a station out there called Bond Station. The passenger
trains never stopped there. But the freight train stopped to pick
up the lumber, and the turpentine. They had a big platform at the
station. I can see the big drums of resin and turpentine. They
sold it to a place called Powell's manufacturers in Jacksonville.
Nestile Fountain Powell's family were connected with that. They
bought all our turpentine. There was a curve there, and the train
was going too fast. Austin had just been out there with a ship-
ment, and the freight train had left. He hadn't been off the
platform twenty minutes, and this train plowed right through the
middle of it. They sent in an alarm to town and I went out with
Ibby Acree. We brought in three people to the hospital. The bag-
gage man's jugular vein was cut. And Dr. Woodbury, who was our
surgeon then, went out and he held that, until they got him into
the hospital here.
J: Were there people killed in that accident?
C: No. He was the closest. But one man that we brought in kept
telling how he was going to sue them. Ibby and I couldn't wait
to get him out of the car. She let him sit up in the front seat
because he was in such bad shape, he thought, and hw was all
humped over, We never knew what happened to him.
J: Was it a big area where the sawmill was?
C: Oh yes! Acres and acres and acres. I think a hundred thousand
acres. They had an awful lot. Then they sold to a cypress com-
pany up in Palatka. The Fleischel's had something to do with that.
That bought the lumber and bought up what was left. Then they were
going to take the cypress off of it. They used our lumber mill out
there for something; I think you have to have special things,
though, for cypress. They put in their own plant. We didn't go
out much after that. Austin used to get his lunches out there.
They'd have cheese and sardines and crackers and bread.
J: You didn't take him his lunch then?
C: Well, I was supposed to but I sometimes didn't get up and get that
lunch made. Also I think that there was a little thing going on.
His mother lived on the road to Glenwood and she was used to fix-
ing his lunches, so she offered to if he'd stop every morning. I
think it worked; she really fixed his lunches every day.
J: Worked it out pretty well.
C: Good for me.
J: What did you do during the day when Austin went to work?
C: Well, before Mom died, I would leave in the morning and go down to
pick her up and get the nurses. We kept having to change nurses.
I would take her shopping list. I ate lunch every day with Papa
downstairs while Momma was sick upstairs. We ate in the dining
room under her bedroom. She had read a story about a family where
the grandmother lived upstairs. When the family started doing
things downstairs, she...So Momma got her cane and if something
went on and she wanted to know what was going on, she'd pound on
the floor and we'd go upstairs. One of the nurses usually ate
with us. I really think maybe I neglected Dee in that it was such
a big job there. The night nurses had to have a meal and the
nurses that were there had to have three meals a day, and their
household running was a little more important to me than my own, I
think. Dee and I did a lot of eating out. I think maybe he was
glad because I sure wasn't much of a cook.
J: Did you not like to cook?
C: No! I never was taught to. We had all those colored people there
to do it, and we just let them do it. I didn't really know how.
J: So Momma didn't cook much either?
C: No. I went to Doctor Pate's open house the other day and Dr. Pate
says, "I've been hearing a story about you and I want to know if
it's true." I said, "Probably." He said, "What about the frying
pans?" Well, when we moved and were waiting to build this house,
we moved to an upstairs apartment house on Hawry Avenue, the
Waldorf Apartments. I didn't know what to do with the grease in
the frying pan. I stopped up the sink by pouring it down the sink
and the landlord would get upset. So every Monday morning, I'd go
to the ten cents store and buy seven frying pans for ten cents a
piece. And I filled up, what we called in those days, slopholes.
And every morning, I'd throw my frying pan out. Ruby Woodbury,
who lived under us, came up one day and said, "Red, did you know
that our slophole is full of frying pans?" And I said, "Yes, I
do. I put them there." So that has followed me through life and
Dr. Pate has just heard it and he said, "I want to hear you tell
it." So I told it to him at that party the other night. That was
about two weeks ago. Every place I go, that frying pan story
comes up. So you'll hear it the rest of your life, too.
J: What did you think when you were doing those things? That was just
a normal thing to do?
C: That was the kind of person I was. Most of my friends wanted to
do what their friends were doing. Well, I wanted to be a little
different. I guess. I don't think I was conscious of it. When
so-and-so had her hair cut and curled one way, I did just the op-
posite. Everybody else stayed in the kitchen and cooked; I didn't
want to stay in the kitchen and cook. So I didn't. But I did
lots of funny things like that I guess.
J: Where would you all eat out?
C: Well, boarding houses started opening up and there was a place
called the Oaks. It's on the corner of Clara and Rich, and an
awfully nice lady ran it. We paid fifty cents for our dinner.
We'd have soup and salad and we saw people we knew there. Lots of
people started doing it at that time. We got a good three course
meal. There weren't many hamburger joints, you know.
J: Did Austin ever delegate the authority of running the business, or
the Bond Lumber Company, to someone else?
C: Never. Never gave up any of it. That was one of his, I think,
one of the reasons he worked so hard. Even after he took in Bill
Duff and Jim Getser, he still oversaw the whole procedure. Bill
has told me that.
J: Real estate, insurance, and lumber.
C: Every bit of it. He really didn't have much to do, when they formed
the real estate. They needed a third man. Mr. Douglas and Cousin
Ray formed the real estate, built all those buildings downtown.
They needed a third person to make a corporation. They gave
Austin quite a nice bunch of shares, so he became the third member
of that. Then or course, after Cousin Ray died, he had to run the
real estate business, which he has now practically gotten out of.
Dorothy Simpson and Rhodes Spell run it today. I get a nice check
from them two or three times. Whatever Rhodes makes down there, I
get part of it.
J: Today the road in Glenwood is a two-lane road split by a long line
of oak trees.
C: That's always been there. Austin's Aunt Charlotte was the post
mistress at Glenwood, and the little house that they lived in
before we were married was down by the post office. She had eggs
and chickens. It was the only store in Glenwood and they lived
right next door to it. They had outdoor plumbing and when Austin
was courting me, he had a sister, Myrtle, who finally married
Frances Miller and lived in Miami. I would go out and spend the
night. I would ride out with the pony, Peanuts, and spend the
night. I would have to go out to that outdoor bathroom. I went
only one night. They had lamps, but they didn't have indoor plumb-
ing. I really didn't care much about spending the night out there
very often. Pigs would run around there at night.
J: Wild pigs?
C: No, I don't know whose they were. There were pigs and chickens
out in the backyard.
J: Did Dee have any other sisters or brothers?
C: No. Myrtle Miller was his sister. She married very well and had
children; Graham Miller, Charlotte Miller, and Lili Miller Page.
J: Was there a church out in Glenwood that you all attended?
C: Oh, Momma Lotty ran the church; she played the organ, sang in the
choir, and ran the Sunday school. Children went to school in the
little church. And that's where Austin went to school until he
started at Stetson. I think he came into the academy way earlier
than he should have, but he passed the examination. He was in
here in the grade school; I guess he went right into the academy
J: What age did he begin at Stetson?
C: Oh, you've got me. Thirteen, fourteen. Well, Myrtle was older
and she was in college. He would come in to the academy and she'd
go into college.
J: So there were two separate functions within the DeLand or Stetson
C: Oh my, yes! The kindergarten and the grade school was all over in
DeLand Hall. Chaudoin Hall and Science Hall were where the college
people met, We saw nothing of them; we were separate.
J: Where was Dee's house that he was born and raised in Glenwood?
C: Well, they moved. He was born out in the little house in Glenwood,
and then when Aunt Charlotte gave up the store and someone else
became the post mistress, they built a lovely home which is still
out there. They sold it after Momma Lotty died. Aunt Charlotte
and Aunt Mae and Momma Lotty lived in that house all of our mar-
ried life. In fact, they had moved there before we got married.
Then Aunt Charlotte died and left the house to Momma Lotty, and
then she left it to Frances Miller, who's now Frances Waller.
J: Is the little house that Dee was born and raised in still standing?
C: It's gone.
J: Was it near the newer house that they built?
C: No. He was five years older than I. They moved from the house
where he was born, down to the house by the post office. The one
that I knew, and that I'm speaking of now, was the one by the post
office. It is still there. I saw it the other day.
J: I want to thank you, Weenie, for sharing your thoughts and time
with me. Well, George has kept very quiet during all this.
C: Yes. He's been, I think he's enjoyed it.
J: He's been a good friend. Let me let you go.