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 PROGRAM
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Otis Fagan
INTERVIEWER: Sidney Johnston
October 8, 1984
J: How are you today, Mr. Fagan? It is good to see you again. I never
thought that I would see one my old teachers again, to tell you the
F: It is a pleasure to have you here.
J: Thank you. When were you born?
F: I was born August 2, 1913.
J: And where was that?
F: In Hernando County. Out in the little city of Brooksville, Florida.
J: And what is the community that you were born in? Does it have a
F: It had a name. It is about five miles east of the city proper which
was the county seat. The community was on the side of a beautiful
hill and it was called Mundan Hill. There was a little sadness in my
younger days because I lost both of my parents.
J: What did you lost them from?
F: Well, due to the times, they died. It was just after World War I.
J: What about the time?
F: An epidemic was going around. My daddy died first and Mother lived
about a year and a half more. I was the youngest of three boys. We
were given out to different members of the family to raise.
J: So you were five years old when both your parents had died then.
F: No, I was not. I believe it was toward the end of World War I. I
think it was around the, 1917 or 1918 when they died. I think that
is probably right. Somewhere between 1915 and 1917 Daddy died, and
she died around 1917 or 1918. I do not remember the exact dates.
Here is a little history on them, and my mother especially. My
mother was raised in the house of her mother, who had a brother with
five boys and no wife because his wife had died. My grandmother had
become mother for those boys, and my mother, a sister for those
boys. At any rate, I became very close. So when she became a
grown woman and married and had these three boys, and she died and
her husband died, those five boys looked after us as our uncles. So
they were actually our cousins. But we lived there and that was all
the cousins we had. But in my case, the father of those boys remar-
ried, and about the time I came along, the wife did not have children,
so she wanted me. She really loved me. And incidentally, she was
J: Did the flu epidemic ravage that community and Brooksville?
F: Pretty much.
J: Did a lot of people pass away?
F: Yes, right in that area.
J: How did you feel about your parents passing away and then being sep-
arated from your brothers?
F: Well, really, I was too young. It did not matter too much at that
point. But as I began to grow older, I just felt different from
other kids because they had mothers and fathers, and I did not have
any. And they would say, you know how kids are, they would friendly
say, "I am sorry you don't have a mother or father." It was kind of
sad. And the two boys who took my brothers, well, one of them went
to Miami and my other brother was raised in Plant City.
J: Well, your family was spread throughout the southern part of the
F: Yes, and it got kind of lonely for me because I had begun to grow
up. And I was a little more closer when we were all in the community
as brothers. We had come very close to one another.
J: How much older are your brothers?
F: About two years apart. I am the last one. The middle one died in
J: Sorry to hear that.
F: He would have been seventy-three this coming March.
J: You are seventy-one yourself, and let me say that you are in excel-
lent health. I hope I look as good when I am seventy as you do.
F: Thank you. The oldest boy used to stay out in the country. He
would hardly ever come to the city. And after this particular thing,
by the time I was sixteen, we would take him for rides. And from
then on, I started being my own boss.
J: Do you have a sense of what your mama and papa did for work?
F: Well, but my daddy was just a laborer. Worked around construction
work like constructing buildings and every time I go to Brooksville
they have always told me that his last job was helping build that
courthouse. It is right in the center of this little town.
Brooksville is on a hill and I always look at that and think about
that. That was one of his last jobs, helping to build that court-
J: What a memory.
F: Then after this happened, after they died and all, and I was kind of
on my own like a floater. I decided I would leave the community.
My first stop was down in Plant City where my brother lived with a
cousin, and I stayed down there a while. I did not like it too
much, and the other cousins lived in this little town. So I left
those cousins and came to DeLand.
J: Why did you not like it in Plant City?
F: I do not know why.
J: You were sixteen years old, and on your own. What did not appeal to
you about that?
F: Well, if I could have gotten a steady job, I guess I would have put
up with it. But the biggest thing there was picking strawberries,
and we picked them cold.
J: That is right.
F: I knew it was cold, and there was frost everywhere. You had to get
out there and pick and I think that is one thing I did not like
J: That is a good practical reason for not staying.
F: I did not like that.
J: So how did you come to DeLand?
F: Well, this cousin was over here; this was way before your time I
guess, but the Landis's would ring a bell. There were some Landis's
around here. He was a famous attorney around here.
J: Cary Landis [Cary D. Landis, attorney-general, Florida, 1931-1938].
F: Yes, that group. Well, Mr. Landis's wife had an uncle who was an
elderly fellow and when his wife had died, he needed somebody to
drive. This cousin knew I could drive. I was a pretty good driver
back then. He told me to come over to get this job driving this old
man and living on the premises.
J: How about that.
F: And that is how I got into DeLand.
J: And you were driving a car in Plant City when you found out about
this. Now how did you get up from Plant City to DeLand?
F: I caught the train. It was only two dollars and forty cents.
J: Two dollars and forty cents from Plant City to DeLand. Who picked
you up at the station?
F: Well, I had this cousin meet me here in DeLand. He came down to the
station and picked me up and carried me out there Monday morning.
He introduced me to this old man and the people here were so nice.
He had a housekeeper. He did not have a wife and could not drive.
He had this old Chrysler, one of these old running board jobs with a
tire on either side. You hardly ever see that kind. It was black
with wire spokes painted yellow. This car was a midnight blue.
J: Sounds sharp.
F: It was something. And I used to drive him around. I worked four
years for him.
J: What was his name?
F: R. E. Roberts.
J: How much did he agree to pay you?
F: Oh, you don't want to hear that do you?
J: Sure I do.
F: Twenty-four dollars a month.
J: Was that pretty good pay in those days?
F: It was fair because I had somewhere to stay and I got all my food.
J: Where were you staying?
F: Out on east Boston Avenue. If you go straight to DeLand High, and
if you do a sharp turn on Boston, it was about half the block down.
His house was painted green though I do not think it is green now.
They have torn some parts of it down. I passed by it the other day.
Unless you know the spot exactly, you would not know it. But anyway,
he had a nice little house.
J: And you were living with a fellow that you were also a chauffeur for.
F: Yes, in a little house out in the back past the garage, but the
house faced the north and it was very nice. It was convenient with
a bathtub and hot and cold water.
J: So you did not have to walk to work. Whenever he wanted you, he
came by and knocked on the door and said, "I am ready."
F: That is right.
J: Was he a kind fellow?
F: Oh, very kind. And he thought a lot of me. I kept his car clean.
He liked that.
J: What were some of your hobbies? What did you do for fun during that
F: Oh, I liked sports. I never did get a chance to play, even play in
competitive sports, but I liked to see other people do them and I
like to do them. That was during the summer--softball and fishing.
J: Where would you fish?
F: In the St. Johns River.
J: That is a long way from where you were living. How did you get out
F: Sometimes we would ride bicycles.
J: Pretty resourceful people.
F: Well, a little before he passed away, and after I got married, well,
that was not enough--I needed a little more money. And I could move
around and as I told you, I could clean houses. I used to get two
dollars a day for cleaning up the house and I always had special
places I would go to each day.
J: When did Mr. Roberts pass away?
F: Oh, Mr. Roberts passed away, well, it must have been between 1930 and
J: Was it before the Depression hit and the stock market crashed?
F: No, it was after.
J: After that.
F: I think that happened in 1926. Little after that. He said it hit
him pretty hard, too. He was a traveling shoe salesman. He was
from Detroit, Michigan, and came down here for his health. He had
retired and moved to Florida before I knew him.
J: Now were you attending school during any of these years?
F: Now that is a good question. I attended night school. Whenever I
could I attended night school in Plant City. Then eventually we got
into a war.
J: Where did you attend night school?
F: We had an old school; it was called Euclid.
J: Was it where the present day Euclid Elementary School is?
J: Where was the building?
F: The building was farther up. They had a two-story building and a
couple of buildings sort of spread out.
J: And how often would you meet?
F: We met about three times a week.
J: Did you receive a high school diploma during your night school
F: No. Before I got my high school diploma I went into the army.
That was when I left the printshop--to go to the army. But when I
came back, I decided I would go back to school. When I got back in
DeLand, they needed a janitor, and I went and talked with the princi-
pal during the summer and asked him if it was possible for me to go
to school and be the janitor, and if I could hack it. So he talked
to the school board and they agreed, and I used to be the janitor at
the school, and I took tests and they started me off at the tenth
grade level because of my experience, and I graduated top of the
F: After that happened, I had some time left because I was only using
half of my GI bill. They paid you pretty good--better than they do
now. I do not know whether they give anything now. I had the maxi-
mum, which is five calendar years to go to school because I had been
in the army three years.
J: And this was after 1945 when you were released from service.
F: That is right. So after I had completed my high school, I had three
calendar years left and I got to thinking about college. I applied
to Florida A&M. That is in Tallahassee, and 1 was accepted and then
I thought of how it was so far from home and being married. Then I
had bought an old car, pretty good used car, and I said, "Now, if I
go to Cookman, I can drive over there." And so I went and signed
up to go to Cookman. They accepted me and as soon as I did that, I
found about four more boys around here going to school, too. So each
morning the boys would get in the car and drive to Daytona to school,
and come back that evening.
J: How many years were you at Bethune-Cookman?
F: Four years.
J: That was starting in 1946?
F: No. I had to come back. I worked three years at Euclid High, and
attended classes for three years. So I started out actually in 1949
and I completed in 1952.
J: Well, before you went into service, and right after Mr. Roberts
passed away, you began cleaning houses?
J: Doing that for two dollars a house?
F: No. Two dollars a day. However long it took. Most of the people
would give me two dollars at least.
J: And would it only take a full day to clean a house?
F: No, I could do it in half a day. I would get through by three
J: Who were some of the people who hired you to clean their homes?
F: Well, most of them are not alive anymore. There was a person who
lived on the corner of Minnesota and Stone, Fred Steele, I think.
And then one guy that was mayor of DeLand, Hogel. I think it was
Hogel. It was something like that, but it was Hogel. I cannot re-
member that guy. He was not a mayor at that time, but he was later
J: Well, it will come back to you.
F: I cannot recall his name right now. I am trying to remember.
J: Where were you living at that time?
F: I was living right down that street, right on the corner of Adelle
and Voohris. There is an old two-story house; it is cream colored,
J: Did you ride your bike over there to clean the house?
F: Yes. I had a good bike.
J: What were some of the supplies you had to carry with you to clean
F: They would always furnish everything. And after a while I wanted
something steady and I decided to go to Miami. I left my wife and
went to Miami and there was not much there, but domestic work like
working in a restaurant, that sort of thing. So I got to be a bus-
boy, cleaning off the tables behind the waitresses. I just did that
for the season. I was back by April.
J: What year would that have been?
F: The year I returned was 1939, because that is when I started at the
J: When did you marry?
F: January 5, 1937.
J: Right after New Year's.
F: Right after New Year's.
J: So you were in Miami for the tourist season. How was it down there?
Was it busy?
F: Yes, it was very busy, but it was quite an experience. That was my
first trip to Miami. I had to learn how to ride those streetcars.
You have read about them; I doubt if you have had a chance to ride
them. Maybe you have been in some places where they have them. But
from Miami proper to over to Miami Beach, it would take you an hour
each way. You would lost two hours going and coming to work. I would
have to be at work by seven o'clock and I got out by ten o'clock at
J: How were times in DeLand during the Depression from 1929 through
F: It was very tough. About all that was offered people around here for
work was with the city, or they would pick fruit and ferns. Now
those people who had a regular job had been working for fern growers;
they had it pretty good because they always paid pretty good wages,
according to the times. It was piece work, somebody who could pick
a hundred, they did pretty good, if you could do that kind of work.
I could never do it. I tried picking fruit once, but I found out I
was poor at it, and I gave it up.
J: One of the big banks closed in DeLand in 1929, the Volusia County
Trust-and Company. Were there other businesses that you watched
fold or collapse or go out of business?
F: Well, I did not get into DeLand until 1935. A lot of this had hap-
pened before I got here, but I could see the signs of things that
had happened because of the Depression. That bank was one of these
things; I believe it was down at Orange City at that time. It
crashed and they eventually moved it over to DeLand, and opened it
up again, right on the corner of the Boulevard and Indiana. That is
still standing, but it is no longer a bank.
J: What are some other businesses that you remember not being around
when you returned?
F: I was thinking there was a very big feedstore that was known as
Beauman's Feedstore. It was a big thing. Whatever you needed for
agriculture, they sold it. And the train would always back up and
unload there, but the track is no longer there.
J: Was that on Amelia Avenue?
F: Yes, right on that corner. And of course there was Allen's Drugstore.
I do not think it faded out because of the Depression, but that the
older heads passed on and I guess there is no one else to carry it on.
There was Allen Funeral Home and Furniture Store.
J: They sold furniture, too?
F: They sold furniture right in the funeral home, and later on they
come known as Allen-Summerhill; it was right in there where
McCrory's store is, it was right in that area. It always was a long
building, and they renovated it. And of course on the other end
down there was Paul Hunter's place and there was Golf Hardware. He
was a plumber.
J: When did you decide to start working for Painter Printing?
F: After I returned from Miami. Mr. Johnston needed somebody because
his man had left, I think, and he went north because of a better job
J: Do you remember who that fellow was?
F: No, I have forgotten his name.
J: Did Mr. Johnston advertise for a position open?
F: No. I tell you one thing that happened. See this was sort of a
family deal. Now, my sister-in-law, Lulu, was working for Mrs.
Conrad. And Mrs. Conrad knew me; I used to clean her yard. Evi-
dently Mrs. Conrad told her to tell me to check with Paul, because
Paul needed a man. So when that happened I went up there and asked
him and he talked to me and asked me about driving and what have you
and he said, "Come by there Monday morning." I do not recall the
month or date, but I went down there on Monday morning, and he gave
me the job. He told me what to do and took me around. One of the
things I had to do was to be down there at seven and turn on the
linotype machines so that metal would, I think we called them pigs
of metal would melt and get hot, that is. Then when the operators
would come in at eight, they could go right on to work.
J: So you would start at seven and the rest of the team would start at
F: Started at eight.
J: Did he have you sign a contract or any kind of agreement?
J: He just said, "You are hired," and that was it?
F: That is right. No contract. No, not for that type of work, and we
got along fine because I could always listen to what people were
saying. When I work for a person, I listen to what he tells me to do
and what not to do, and I try to remember it, and not have him tell-
ing me the same thing over and over. So we got along fine.
J: Where did you live at that time when you began work there?
F: I was living here on this corner where I spoke of and had been work-
ing, and I had a bicycle I would ride to work.
J: Were there many cars in DeLand at that time?
F: Quite a few cars. Well, you are not much younger. I used to like
to ride through at twelve o'clock. The more there, the more fun I
could have speeding in and out. I can remember doing such funny
J: I have a photograph here of the old shop, and I would like you to
take me on a little walking tour.
F: Yes, that is it. Right on this side was my door to go in; I had the
key to that. And anytime I needed to go there, I could go there. I
would go in that door, and then on this other wall over here was a
door to go into all this other area.
J: When you walked in there was there a cage or some kind of wall that
separated you from the rest of the office?
F: Yes. Do you remember Miss Kitty?
F: She sat right behind this door. When you walked in front of her,
Mr. Johnston's office was over in here. These two windows were to
his office. No, one was-to her office and this was to his. There
was a stairway right up in here. And right out back was all the
machinery, and all the books and materials were done upstairs.
Right over on this side, about halfway down that building, I used to
throw metal out of a chute into the pot where I melted it; it was a
rigged up thing by a tinsmith, Paul Jacob, and I would pour it down
there in that thing.
J: Was that tin chute already there when you started, or did they put
that up after you started?
F: No, it was already there.
J: There were people melting right inside the building at one time.
F: No, it had moved outisde.
J: It had moved outside.
F: Yes, I believe they did tell me that they moved the pot.
J: I could not believe it. They had to melt it with a big fire inside.
F: Yes. It must have been sort of dangerous. But they built a little
shed outside where it would not be exposed directly to the rain, and
that is where we melted it.
J: Now was there a time clock or any kind of punch system?
F: Yes, on that wall behind this door. Not this wall, but over on the
other door as you walked in there was a big clock and you punched
your time. I had to punch in and everybody coming in had to punch
in and punch out.
J: As you are walking in the building and you turn towards the time
clock and you look at all the cards, how many cards are there? How
many people are working there?
F: How many people worked there when he had his full group--once a year
he had to do five hundred log books.
J: Five hundred log books. Did that keep you all busy?
F: It kept us busy. [laughter] I think it took about, I believe,
ninety days. They would always give him a time limit. Maybe longer
than that, but I know we worked and he kept a full crew. And up-
stairs at that time he had three linotype machines running and they
had one person that did the proofreading and put those things
F: No, like the galleys but smaller. Oh, I forgot the name of those
little things, but anyway they had a young man that would put in the
pages. That was the thing that held the pages of the book. I think
they printed about eight pages every time that it would go under the
J: Oh, it was the chases or forms they called those.
F: Yes, I guess so. So anyway this fellow would lock these pages in
order in that; that was the fourth person. Then there was somebody
up there that was proofreading--that was five. Then you had one
fellow up there--his name was William Roseborough. I think he lives
around here now. William was a student at Stetson and he would come
down and do what they called "pull galleys." See, when he would
print these pages [on a proof press], he had a roller and would go
over the lead type and then pull something else over it, and then
you would get the impression, and the person could read it. [ed.
note--operation known as proofing.]
J: And Mr. Roseborough would work upstairs here after school?
F: Right. Yes.
J: Was he working there when you began or did he come later?
F: I believe he was there when I began.
J: Where was the bindery? Where did they put the covers on the books?
F: If we could look out this window, back about ten or fifteen feet was
a long desk-like thing, and it was made very strong. That is where
she would bind them, and back in this corner here was a folding
machine that folds these pages. Then back there also was a stitch-
ing machine. After she got them folded, she would stitch them. She
would sit down at this machine and stitch them. Then she would move
over to this long table and bind them. Put the covers on them.
Now my job was to wrap them. There was a young fellow by the name
of Leonard. I have forgotten Leonard's last name, but we both went
to the army. William Roseborough was drafted earlier; I think
William went into the air force. I think he became a pilot. He
made it through. I do not know what happened to Leonard, but William
J: Was William recruited or drafted before you?
F: He left before I did. Both of them left before I did. I was about
the last one to leave. I was about the last one they picked up.
J: Now you say during the busy season you were making five hundred law
books. Were there some slow seasons too?
F: Oh, yes. During the summer it was very slow. Now one big job I had
during the summer, I think we put out about ten thousand pamphlets
for Stetson and we sent them all over the world.
J: What were those pamphlets for? Advertising?
F: Advertising. Stetson would have a fund. Pictures of the whole
campus and everything important. Our job was to fold them and I had
to stack them; I have forgotten how many stacks, maybe twenty-five
to a stack until maybe I had five hundred or a thousand in this
group. And then they would send them all over the world.
J: What would you wrap the books in? You were talking about wrapping
F: He had big sheets of paper like what they make brown paper bags out
of. That same kind of paper. Instead of rolls he would get it in
big sheets where they could cut them. And you had a huge paper cut-
ter back there.
F: No, the paper cutter was downstairs. See, when you would get through
with taking care of these books, we had a manual elevator. Anything
heavy we could get on these ropes and manually pull it all the way
J: Where was the elevator?
F: The elevator was about midway down this building. There was an
opening, it was not a door that you opened and closed, but a wide
opening to go back over into this area. You had a wall upstairs
that divided the area.
J: All the way down the building?
F: Yes. Now, wait a minute. No. Upstairs was completely open. It is
downstairs that I am thinking about. So the stairway was close to
this wall. And then all that other space was open up there.
J: But the cutter was downstairs.
F: The cutter was downstairs.
J: And you would wrap the books in that brown paper?
J: And what would you do with them then?
F: Pack them in a box. And then these big trucks would come and get
J: And you would send them down the elevator. Now as I remember...
F: The books would come down the elevator before we finished them; down-
stairs was the finishing job. Now what would happen, the books were
printed downstairs. Now what went on upstairs was simply to cut them
with these linotype machines.
J: So you would set the metal and the type upstairs.
F: Yes, that is right.
J: And then where was that metal stored in pages and galleys? Was that
F: Yes, that was kept upstairs. They had all kinds of shelves.
J: That lead would be brought downstairs and locked up downstairs in
the chase or the form and then sent to the press.
F: No, the form was locked upstairs and sent down on this elevator.
J: Was that elevator down this wall about halfway?
F: No, it was over in this area. Toward the center.
J: About halfway down the building?
F: Yes, about halfway down the building.
J: That is a different place than I had remembered. It was locked up
upstairs, and then where was the paper folded after it was printed
on the press?
F: Back over in this area. That is where the folding and stitching
machines were. They called that the binding room, and over in here
was the printing area. He had two big presses, huge things, and then
about three or four little fellows that you would stand off and feed
them and they would print.
J: How about this part of the building? What was over there?
F: I cannot get hold of this part of the building.
J: Do you think maybe that was where the bindery was? Because as I
remember this was a full wall all the way down with a couple of holes
cut in it for passageways through.
F: Well, maybe. Oh. I was looking at this as something really differ-
ent. I guess this was divided.
J: It is a little deceiving.
F: I thought it was a completely different building, but now I can un-
derstand. All this what I was telling you from here to here, was
completely a printing area, only up front was the office with one for
Mr. Johnston and one for Kitty. I see it now. This is where I used
to have to wash the cars on this lawn over here. I can see that now.
I could not make it out before. Out here was the street; just out-
side this was the street [Wisconsin Avenue].
J: Was that one of the automobiles that you would wash?
F: I remember the station wagon.
J: You do?
F: Yes, I do. Yes sir. I would have to make deliveries with it. See,
he did a lot of printing for those law offices and for the court-
houses--letterheads and that sort of thing.
J: Well, during the slow times in the summer, would he fire people or
what action did he take?
F: No, he did not actually fire them. He just said, "Nothing to do
next week. We are caught up. I will let you know when we get some
more work in." And everybody accepted it.
J: Would he pay them a retainer or anything?
F: I do not think so. I never heard him say, but my job was steady
because there was always something for me to do. I was the only
one that had a steady job. I did not ever have to go home and rest.
J: How much did he pay you to start working there?
F: When I started off I would get two dollars a day. Now, he decided
he wanted me to come down Saturday and scrub the office; I did not
scrub the rest of the place. And I would come down and scrub and
wax the office so he decided he wanted me to work five and a half
days instead of five days. So I got eleven dollars. Then Social
Security had to come out of that.
J: So he paid you a dollar to come down for that half-day on Saturday.
Now, you said a couple of cars. He had a second one?
F: Oh, yes. He had his and Mrs. Johnston, I believe that time he had a
Lincoln Zephyr. They do not make them now. But it was a beautiful
car made on the style they are just catching up with. A twelve-
cylinder job. It was a beautiful maroon thing.
J: So those people would come back when work began picking up in
F: Well, they would not be out any more than thirty to sixty days. He
was a pretty gifted man and he could get the work. He would find
jobs. Get a book for somebody that he did not know about to print.
And that kept him going. He would be out of work from thirty to
sometimes sixty days.
J: How many people would be left in the shop during those slow times?
F: During the slow times that was Miss Katherine and myself. Sometimes
it would be just me.
J: Just you?
F: And Katherine.
J: How about that. Nobody upstairs.
J: Bertha Pollard. Do you remember her?
F: Yes, I remember Miss Bertha. A lot of times there was not nothing
for them to do.
J: It was that slow.
F: Just that slow. And once in a while, he would scatter this thing
out sometimes. Maybe he took six months to get that book ready.
And at certain times--Arthur was that other guy that I was trying to
remember--she and Arthur could come there and proofread and fool with
stuff upstairs, and sometimes there would be three or four of us
there in the slow time, because Miss Bertha had been around a long
time and there was always something she could be doing. Just like
William used to pull these galleys when he was going into the ser-
vice; he went probably a year or more before I did. When there was
not anything else to do, she would pull the galleys. Then sit down
and proofread it. Pull it and proofread it.
J: Did Mr. Johnston ever talk to you about raises?
F: Oh, yes. Before I finally left I probably was making about twenty-
five dollars a week.
J: He doubled your salary in four years then just about.
F: Yes. Because you see what was happening, he was getting a lot of
J: Where would the defense work be?
F: Somewhere out towards where the old fairgrounds were, where they
keep animals now--by the train station--well, right in there was a
sort of defense shop and they made parachutes, I believe it was para-
chutes. That was one place. And down on the St. Johns River they
made boats. A boat shop down there on the St. Johns River. They
hired a lot of people. Now the kind of boats they made I believe was
something like a water tank or boats that go out to meet the big
ships. It may have been tubs they made down there.
J: So the industry in DeLand really picked up.
F: Yes, it picked up.
J: Do you think we were printing more books than letterheads and station-
ery during that time?
F: I believe so. Now I went out there several times to look at the_
place and they looked quite busy. I learned one thing--how I used to
do it, [melting lead with air conditioning], well it is so easy now;
it is a dream. Now it is done inside. I could not believe it.
They showed me how it is done out there. It is something else.
J: A whole different process. Was it cold in there during the winter?
F: We had a pretty hard time keeping that place warm. The furnace was
heated with coal; they sold coal, too. So they had a coal furnace.
And then you had a big fan that would come on when you would get it
hot enough, and that would help some, but when it got real cold, it...
J: Was that furnace near the melting shed?
J: Then it had a fan with duct work, but that did not work real well?
F: No, it did not work real well.
J: So when you melted lead in the winter, you stayed plenty warm.
F: Yes, I stayed warm then.
J: Tell me a little bit more about the coal business. Did you ever
deliver coal to people in the area?
F: Oh, yes.
J: Who were some of those folks?
F: Oh, my goodness. More or less to the school people. See, people
were phasing out coal during this particular time, and this was the
beginning of the changeover to oil. See, coal was smutty. But
they would back these cars of coal onto the sail siding, and they had
bins, and I unloaded them.
J: You unloaded them. So they would dump coal down that chute and I
guess there was a concrete slab out there and it would slide down
J: Did we have a truck or something?
F: Yes, you had a three-quarter ton pickup truck by Ford, and I just
thought that was mine.
J: How did you do all this work? You were delivering coal. I guess
you were gathering signets to make books. Did you ever do any
F: Once in a while I would go up there and pull the galleys, too, when
there was not much to do. But during the winters were the times
when I was real busy.
J: I guess so. Delivering coal and working in the print shop.
F: And then on the side of the coal, he sold fuel oil. And he had at
one time, all the schools on the west side of the county; DeLand
High School, out to Orange City, Euclid, Boston Avenue, and Dempsie
Brewster, although it was called Wisconsin Avenue at that time. I
had to deliver oil, and those tanks held two thousand gallons and my
truck could carry five hundred gallons.
J: You made a lot of trips then?
F: If they ran down low I had to fill it up.
J: How many days a week would you be delivering oil?
F: Sometimes everyday when it got real cold. Six days.
J: And you would not even go into the print shop at all?
F: No, I would just get my truck and start going. And I was careful on
Friday nights because he would say, "You got to do a lot of deliver-
ing tomorrow. That is all you can do at the office." So sometimes
there would not be anybody other than me. I would get there about
eight o'clock and I would work till I had delivered all that coal.
And whatever she had in there I delivered before I knocked off. And
I had to go all the way up to Barberville and Seville, and all those
county schools, and carry coal or oil, whichever they had.
J: Was there a large oil tank on the back side of the property?
F: Yes, when you came out the front door and kept walking, there under
some trees. He had a what, a ten thousand tank. It may have been
more than that. Or maybe it was just ten thousand.
J: And did the truck have a small tank that you could detatch and then
load up with coal, or did you have another truck for the oil?
F: No, just one. And I do not know how I did it. It was not very
large, but he made something. It was like a block-and-tackle, and
you would raise that tank and run the truck out from under it and
then leave it hanging. And then come back and put the truck under
it when you wanted to haul oil. Oh boy, I am telling you, it was an
experience. Attached to the tank was a little power motor run by
gasoline and I could run from the truck with a hundred-foot hose...
[end of tape]
J: Had some kind of block-and-tackle.
F: Yes, it was something like a block-and-tackle.
J: So in the summer months you were not delivering any coal or oil.
F: No. Maybe coming up to school time in September or the end of
August, people checked and got their tanks full so they would be
ready when it turned cold.
J: Would you collect the money when you dropped off the coal and the
F: At some places I would. But at places like the county I had to be
sure somebody signed.
J: Now the coal came in by train. How would your oil come in?
F: Big old trailer trucks.
J: How about the paper and new machinery and ink and those kind of
supplies? How would they come into the shop?
F: They would come in by these trucks. There was a place around here
that, I forgot the name of it, they had local people who would deliv-
er after they would put off supplies at a main spot. And they would
bring all the paper and inks. We kept plenty of paper of all des-
cription. All those boxes weighed five or six hundred pounds. They
always had two or three men come and unload that which was in the
J: In the busy season how many people would be in the shop?
F: We had, I think two printers, we may have had up to twelve people.
J: Did you ever have all three linotype machines rolling at one time?
F: Yes, they used to have all three of them running at one time.
J: Now, you melted the lead downstairs in that big pot, and I guess
you used coal to fire it.
F: Yes, I did.
J: And how long would you melt at a period? Would it be a couple of
F: No, I would do all my melting in the day because on days I melted, I
got down there about five or five-thirty in the morning and got that
heat going. It was awful hot. I do not know. I guess it would get
up to maybe two hundred and some degrees. I would try to do that
early in the morning, and pour it in those pig molds. In the after-
noon I could empty them out and I would get them back upstairs.
J: How would you get them back upstairs?
F: Carry them back upstairs. Most everybody who was working at the
time was busy doing their work, so it was my job. If I did not have
enough work to do, I would carry my metal back upstairs.
J: I have come across a roster of employees of Painter Printing for
1914, and I am curious if you know any of these people. I would
like you to look this over and tell me if you remember any of those
names, anything about these people that looks familiar. Was Bertha
there when you left?
F: Yes, she was there.
J: How old was she would you say when you left the shop?
F: When I left the shop, I do not know. I am just guessing now; I think
that Miss Bertha was probably approaching sixty.
J: She was a spinster, then, never married?
F: That is what I had understood. I knew Joshua Connell. He was a nice
J: What did Josh do?
F: He was a printer. He ran the press.
J: Where did he live in town?
F: He lived out on Plymouth Avenue, I believe. He owned property and
lived in a big house out there.
J: Was he one of the people that Mr. Johnston would say, "You will have
to come back later; I do not have any work right now for you" to?
F: Well, he would fit into the work schedule when I was there. I guess
at this time  he was a regular worker, but he was not a regu-
lar worker when I worked there. He worked for the DeLand Sun News,
and would do part-time printing for us. They were on Rich Avenue
then, where the bicycle shop is; that might be the same building.
J: That old Schwinn place.
F: Yes. That was where he worked. Mr. Johnston's main pressman was
George Riley, but George Riley liked his fluid and he would not be
J: So Mr. Johnston would call up Josh, and Josh would come in.
F: Josh would have to come in and print the type.
J: Now everybody else went home at five I guess. What time did you
F: Well, I usually went home at five, after everybody got out. I had to
see that everything was closed up.
J: You were the last one to leave.
F: First one to get there and the last one to leave. Bertha and Josh
are the only two I remember well.
J: Do you remember a Ruth Carpenter? She married, but I do not remember
her married name.
F: No, I do not remember.
J: Do you remember any females other than Katherine Butt?
F: A little blonde woman. Do you remember her?
J: A lot of people called her "Red."
J: Judy Finelli?
F: Yes, Judy Finelli. Is she living now?
J: Yes. I had an interview with her about a year ago. She is doing
F: I have not seen her in quite some time.
J: So Miss Bertha and Mrs. Finelli and Miss Katherine were there.
F: I cannot recall any other female around there at that time.
J: And you were drafted in 1943?
F: I was drafted in April 1943. April first I went to the draft board.
J: Do you remember James Tate? He is one of the people listed on
F: I see James Tate, but I cannot get him straight in my mind. He may
have shown up around here sometime, but I do not recall.
J: Was there ever any talk of workmen's compensation or insurance?
F: Oh, yes. That came in after I had stopped. It was funny. A guy
came in and checked all the records, and his business fell under the
category of interstate commercial or something. Anyway, it had to
do with working overtime, time and a half and all that sort of thing.
They checked it out and the company was not quite in accord with how
they were supposed to be. Everybody got back pay for not having been
paid overtime. I do not recall if it was time and a half. I think
it was time and a half, and they had put in too many hours, just like!.
I worked on Saturday. And instead of two dollars for Saturday, I
should have gotten four dollars. So I got two hundred and fifty dol-
lars, most money I had ever owned at one time.
J: I guess that was back pay for a year?
F: Yes. Evidently. I have forgotten how long I had been there, but
everybody went back and picked up everything. Everybody got a pretty
good check. That is the only time I can remember that kind of thing;
from then on they had to take out insurance and income tax.
J: Was there any talk of medical insurance?
J: How about paid vacations or any kind of vacation time?
F: No. Excuse me. Let me back up there. We did not have to pay for
everything because evidently they had some kind of insurance because
I recall once I had a little accident. I had the furnace going and
it had been cold; so it warmed up in the day like Florida will do,
and it started getting cooler again. So everybody was getting a
little chilly and I went out to start the furnace, wake the furnace
up again. I opened the door and the coal was kind of simmering. I
threw some more in there and I was in a hurry so I put some kerosene
on it, and went away and did something else. I came back in a half
an hour and it had not done anything, and foolishly I opened a draft,
and boy that thing like to take my head off.
J: What happened to you?
F: The fire jumped out the door and burned me pretty good in the face.
And of course, Mr. Johnston took me to the doctor right away. And I
stayed from work two or three days in the care of a doctor. So the
company paid for it because I never did get a doctor bill.
J: Did you feel he took care of you in that situation?
F: Yes, he sure did. But I got a good singe. I did not get any bad
deep skin burns, but I got singed good; all my eyelashes left and
everything on the face was burned.
J: I bet you were plenty scared.
F: Oh, I was scared to death. The thing just kind of bopped, all in my
face. Everybody thought I was dead.
J: I bet you thought you were dead, too.
F: I thought so, too. Of everybody around, about half of them voted.
That was so foolish to turn that draft open. That was why it was not
burning--it could not get a draft and I made the mistake of opening
J: Would you say that there was a friendly atmosphere at work?
F: Oh, yes. It was a nice group of people down there. Really friendly.
J: What did you call Mr. Johnston? Is that just what you called him?
F: Yes, that is what I called him.
J: Anybody else call him anything else?
F: Yes, they called him Paul. See, all of those were old workers,
except the younger fellow that was drafted. He called him Mr.
Johnston. But all the rest of them called him Paul.
J: Did you ever know my great-grandfather?
F: I did not know him. I do not know how long he had been gone, but
they talked about him so much I assumed he had not been gone too
long when I started working there.
J: March 1937, so it was almost two years.
F: Almost two years.
J: Was Miss Katherine there when you first started?
F: Yes, she was there. I think she was there when Mr. Sydney was there.
J: She came within about two or three months from what I understand
before Papa Sydney passed away, so they just did know each other.
F: But all of them talked about what a great man he was and a good com-
panion, your great-grandfather. Mr. Johnston was a jolly fellow.
He just liked to say silly things that would split them up so fast.
J: How did he compare in the shop talk to Sydney Weller?
F: Oh, they thought Mr. Sydney was wonderful. But they thought that
Paul was just too tight on them. He really was not because every
time he would go up that hill, after about five or ten minutes, they
would stop work. But anyway, they liked him. But just because he
was the son, I think, they just never could accept him just in the
same attitude that they did the old man, because evidently he had a
lot of diplomacy and feeling in handling people. Mr. Johnston would
just say what he thought.
J: Not exactly diplomatic.
F: If he thought of it, he would say it.
J: How long was your lunch break?
F: One hour.
J: And where would you eat?
F: I would get on my wheels and go home most of the time.
J: How about the other employees?
F: Most of them brought their lunch and they would sit around there
and eat, and some of them would go home.
J: Was there a coke machine around?
F: No, we did not have anything like that at the time. I believe they
had a little jar where there were cookies, but no drinks. On the
top of the hill somebody ran a service station, and they usually
sent me because I was free to go.
J: The shop was flooded several times in the 1960s and a couple of times
in the 1920s.
F: That did not happen in those four years that I worked there.
J: Not at all?
F: Not the first time. It did not ever. It happened soon after I left
once or twice. They had a lot of problems and I think that was what
inspired them to move out where they did not have any water.
F: That old hole, drainage pond would fill up with water and come all
over in there. But that never did happen in those four years. I
saw a lot of water out front because there was a little low place
right out front from this place. I saw quite a big of water out
there, but it never did come in the shop.
J: City plats show that the road comes down here and then splits and
makes two half moons. When you rode your bike down the hill, do
you remember seeing a straight road?
F: I recall coming down that road, somewhere I think there is a place
on part of the lawn, and it seemed like when he would leave with
this car, he would come right out here on this side and go out and
up the hill.
J: I remember this loop and there was a little culvert that sat right
here that connected the ponds.
F: Yes, I am sure that is the way it was. Now, you could not go this
way because behind that was Jacob's Lumber Company behind this
building, and over the the left was Todd's Woodyard. We sort of
shared the same area because Todd had wood out there. I do not know
who owned the property, but part of it belonged to the company. But
anyway, Todd had a lot of wood and sold wood.
J: Painter had an old fertilizer business about the turn of the century.
Do you know anything about that?
F: No. I did hear them talking about it sometime, but I do not recall
that. They were only in the printing business.
J: There is a power line coming into the building here. Maybe that is
a telephone wire.
F: That is a telephone wire. It seems like the power line is on the
back of the building because I know in this particular building here,
downstairs, over in the corner is where all the big switches were and
where they would run those machines from.
J: Was there any sign of a steam generator or another way of powering
all the equipment?
F: Seems like he had one of those machines from the steam machine era,
though I am not sure. I have heard something about that. But when
I was there, everything was run off electricity.
J: There was a time when there were some steam generators sunk in the
floor and I have not quite determined what and how all the linkage
happened. Supposedly, steel shafts ran down the length of the build-
ing and leather belts would work off small pulleys and operate the
presses and you would engage a certain gear and the press would
start to turn.
F: That is right.
J: Do you remember any of that happening?
F: It was all power when I got there. It was different ways; on some
press back in the corner we had to change the belt and reverse the
flow of power to make it go. They had two of these big old presses,
but one of those presses, they had to do something different with.
One they did not use often and one we called a smaller press that
would do book work.
J: Were there two big presses back almost the same size?
F: No, one was larger than the other.
J: Was one about as long as from this wall into your little family room
and then about this wide?
F: No, I do not think it was that large. Maybe about from here to this
J: Was that the biggest one?
F: Yes, that was the biggest one. The other one was about one-third
J: We have one today that is huge and I am wondering when that came to
F: Yes, I have looked in your shop and I do not believe he bought any
of those big presses. It seems like he sold them to some newspaper.
I thought I heard that. But I do not believe he carried any of that
stuff over to the new place. Everything looked so different from
J: What was the best experience or memory you had when you were working
there? What seemed to appeal to you the most about working there?
F: Well, I guess I should say one thing that I liked. I thought quite
a big of Mr. Johnston because he always did little things to sort of
break the monotony of being around there. I remember that time he
took me, his two boys, and Mr. Jimmy Pollard, who was a brother to
Miss Bertha Pollard, up to Jacksonville and bought a boat. He sent
me back to DeLand in the car. Then he came down the river in the
boat. So evenings when it was slow, he would take me with him down
the river and we would take a boat ride. In thinking about working
for him and him being a nice person, he took me up in the mountains
of North Carolina. He kept me up there two or three days. I had
never been out of the state before. Those were things which made me
glad I had the job. I used to go down on Saturdays when nobody was
working but me, and wrap books. When there was nothing else to do,
I spent a lot of time reading law books. It was really amusing to
see what you could find in those law books.
J: There is a little cabin in Black Mountain, North Carolina, that he
bought in the early 1940s. Do you remember going there?
F: Yes, that was the name of the place. Wasn't that out from Asheville?
J: Yes. Thirteen miles east of Asheville.
F: Yes. That is the place.
J: It is a log cabin with concrete chink logs. So he owned that and
you went on up there with him.
F: Yes, I was working for him when he bought that place. And I used to
enjoy going up there with him.
J: Well, in opposition to that, what do you think were some of the
worst times, or maybe the hardest times working there?
F: The hardest time was dealing with the coal.
J: Driving all over the county and...
F: Well, it was not so bad delivering, but unloading. Some of those
railway cars held sixty tons, and I had this little wide shovel with
a handle about that long, and that was what I unloaded with. A
regular shovel that you used around the yard would not do any good.
They had these regular coal shovels. That was the roughest time I
think. I did not have any problems with delivering the oil or coal
because it was easy. All I had to do was drive up to the tank and
open a valve. If I wanted to deliver all the oil I had in the tank,
I would just open the valve.
J: You spoke earlier about doing some maintenance at his house on
F: Oh, yes.
J: What kind of things were you doing?
F: Well, I had always been handy with tools, though no expert in any
one. I had learned to paint. I remember I painted the bathroom,
worked] around in the yard, and of course, [did] little things
around the shop like fixing pipes and working on the truck. I would
keep it going when I had nothing better to do.
J: He had a real gem when you were working there.
F: Oh, he thought I was wonderful; he thought anything he needed, I
knew how to do it. I was not that good, but he just felt like that.
Anytime I met him downtown or anyplace he would say, "If I had you
working for me long enough, I could have retired long ago." We
would always have a good time.
J: What about his sons, Don and Dick? What do you remember about them
doing in this time?
F: Well, during this time, I think Don was in the ninth grade and he
used to come down; that was when he started coming down to work. Of
course Dick did not have much to do, and some nights when they would
go out, Don would either go out or go to the movies, but Dick was too
young, so I would go sit with Dick.
J: Babysit up there, then, basically.
F: Yes, just he and I. He did not stay up long. He would go to bed and
I just sat there until they would come home.
J: Now you had been married at least two years when all this was going
F: Yes, at least two years.
J: When did you have your first child?
F: We never did have any children. We had this little girl come to
live with us. She was born in 1952 or 1954.
J: So you had a family to support but you did not have any children.
J: What work did your wife do?
F: She was a cook. There was a Miss Holman, who lived in that area
near Stetson; they called it, I think, University Terrace at that
time. Didn't your family live in there somewhere along Amelia?
J: 1040 North Amelia. That would be three blocks due north of the
corner of Plymouth and Amelia, so not quite in that area but close.
F: This is where Pennsylvania crosses Amelia. There was a house cut in
J: Beautiful place.
F: That is where my wife used to work, for the people who owned that
J: What a place to work in. We live about seven blocks north of there.
When Don came down to the shop, what kind of work do you remember
F: I believe he pulled galleys. I think that was what his main job was.
J: Do you remember killing out, what they call killing out pages, or
killing out galleys or just doing away with the old lead and melting
F: I guess so, because we used it over and over. I am not too sure on
J: They may have called it something else.
F: Because I tell you what, they probably did without me knowing. In
this corner, behind these linotype machines, where they could throw
the material [lead] behind them under this window, and I would throw
the lead out the window and down the chute. They could just bring
those galleys they did not want and drop them on that pile, and then
I would just melt them again.
J: Would you take a shovel to pick that lead up with?
F: Yes, I had a shovel. And you know what happened one morning, and it
about fired me, too. Each linotype machine had two hundred and fifty
volts operating it. I do not know what happened, but they were
grounded to this tin that the linotypes sat on. This wire and metal
pipe made from tin were tied together, and early one morning I picked
up a shovel and hit that thing and fire came from everywhere. I did
not do any work. He said, "Did you heat up the metal?" I said, "No,
I did not." And I told him what happened. He got the electricians
to come down and check the things out, and they could not find out
what happened, but I was here. [laughter]
J: You did not want to touch it again.
F: I was not going to touch that thing again. I did not get a shock but
fire jumped from it because I had on rubber shoes and I was standing
on this tin. I am glad I did not have on shoes with tacks. I do not
know what would have happened, but I am afraid I would not be here
now if I had had those kind of shoes. I had on some of those big
J: Did many employees have automobiles?
F: Most of them did.
J: And where did they park their cars?
F: They had a little shed out there under those trees.
J: Over on the west side of the property?
F: Yes, on the west side and sort of to the north.
J: We spoke a little bit earlier about overtime and the government
making Mr. Johnston pay some back wages. How much overtime would
you work? Would there be a second shift of people coming in to work
F: Oh, no. I do not recall that. Probably one or two times they had
to go back at night and finish something like a book. When they
got in a hurry, or when they got behind because they did not get
paper on time, or they would have to send a copy to Tallahassee and
they would be slow there and then they would have a deadline. Now
that may have happened once or twice.
J: Not as a regular kind of thing.
F: No. I know I did not ever have to go back at night.
J: Just before the old building was demolished in 1970, we had problems
with kids vandalizing the place and breaking windows. Do you remem-
ber any of this happening?
F: No. For some reason they did not bother that. Once in a while you
might find windows broken by something. I do not know whether it was
vandalism or what, but you just did not find that at that time. I do
not know why. There were not any break-ins at the time I was working
J: What was Dewey Finelli all about when you worked there? Was she a
fiery young lady?
F: Oh, yes, she was terrifying, especially when those machines did not
J: I can see her now.
F: Oh, she was hard to get lost the day those things would not fold
right. The paper sometimes would be damp or the quality was not the
same and it just would not work right. Although it was supposed to
have been the same size and the machine set with the proper pull,
according to her statement, and it would not do nothing but just
tear up. Oh boy.
J: How did she and Paul get along?
F: He did not bother her when she was like that. But when he would
come in and she was singing and the machine was working good, he
would know it was alright to go in and say something to her. But
when that thing was acting up, he would just come and look at her
and turn around and go back.
J: He did not want any part of that. Knew there was a tigress out
there. There are stories in our family about her becoming so fiery
and so upset about things that she would absolutely throw screw-
drivers and small hammers and yardsticks all over the room and just
really go into deep frenzy. Do you remember that back then?
F: Oh, yes. I remember that. I have seen her throw a few around there
when she would get so upset. Especially on that folding machine
they had there. I do not know what kind you have now, but it looked
like it would work just every other time when you had a lot of
important work to get out. You could not get it set right; it may
have been really a lack of really knowing how to get all the adjust-
ments right. A lot of times those things come out of the factory
and they specify certain settings, and you do not do this unless you
do this. It may have been that because there were many settings to
do. The paper went in one way, came down and made about three
circles and came out bow-legged. Well, now it could not make all
those turns, if it was not just right.
J: After she would fold the paper, what was the next process in line?
F: After she would fold the paper,she had a press. That was way over
in the corner. She would press the folded paper together. Then
after that, she went to the sewing machine and sewed the backs to-
gether. Then she would put the glue on.
J: How would she put the glue on?
F: She had an electric glue pot, I call it. It was a pot that had an
electric prong to plug in. Then you put the glue in; the glue was
resin-looking. You put it in there and heated it and stirred it to
make a liquid out of it. Then you take a brush and put it on the
back of the books. While it is hot you set it right in the cover, but
it had to be in the right place. And then when it gets cold, your
books are ready for the next step.
J: What was the next step?
F: Oh, before you put it in the cover, and they were sewn together, you
had to go over to the cutter and cut them just right. That was the
J: Were you putting these books in a hard cover?
F: A hard cover. These law books.
J: Do you remember doing that yourself?
F: No. My job was to wrap them. She and this fellow Leonard used to
put these together. One would put the glue on and the other would
put it in the cover.
J: Do you remember putting any soft covers on books?
F: Oh, yes. We used to put on soft covers. They used to do Stetson
University's catalog, and some other school catalogs. They always
had soft covers. Now if it was a yearbook or something like that,
it always had a hard cover.
J: Did the glue pot ever bother you?
F: No, because when I got ready to handle the books again it was
wrapping. I did not bother with that sewing them together and then
gluing them and putting them in the cover. There was one other step
before you wrapped them. After you got them in the cover in the
finished position, you had to put them in the press again, because
where the books would come together here on the end, you had to make
a crease. You can see it in a hard cover book. They had a machine
that put those creases in them. It made that crease by pressing it
together in that round part.
J That is interesting. I did not know we did that.
F: Yes. We did all that. That is what they did then. It was a good
job. Seems like they had a little label to put on the back of it to
say what volume it was.
J: So they kept you busy all the time working there.
F: Yes, there was something to do when he had business. He kept doing
pretty good. He never would have to do without work for more than
thirty or sixty days.
J: And the war took you away from it in April, 1943?
J: And you came back and you worked at Euclid Avenue School.
J: And you attended night school and then you went over to Bethune-
Cookman for four years. When did you graduate from Bethune-Cookman?
F: In May, 1953.
J: What did you decide to do after that?
F: Over at Bethune-Cookman they had a trade shop, and I always liked
working with tools. I said I was going over there and learn how to
be an electrician if they would let me. I got over there and looked
around and met a friend of mine from over here. He was in the
academic part of the school. He says, "C'mon boy, let's go. C'mon
over here with me. I'm in business education." We were good
friends and I enrolled in the academic part os it, and majored in
business education. This same guy that told me to do that, he is
the business manager of that school now. He was a smart guy. He
was from DeLand but he lives over there. Doing a nice job. I am
glad I followed his advice. Of course I did not get a job as soon
as I finished. I went to Miami and stayed about two years. Then I
found out a position was open back home. So, I left there.
J: When did you first begin teaching here in DeLand?
F: In 1956, the second semester.
J: And where were you teaching?
F: At the old Euclid school.
J: And how long did you stay there?
F: Well, I started in 1956 and stayed there until January, 1962. The
new school building, what they called Southwestern was first built
as a high school. It was so crowded at that old school; at that
time we had about six hundred kids and that is a lot of kids; they
were just walking on one another. But after we got over to the
other school it was much nicer.
J: Were you teaching a business course?
F: Yes, I taught typewriting most of the time until we got over to the
other school and I taught typewriting in seventh grade.
J: Which class did you enjoy teaching more?
F: Seventh grade math.
J: Why is that?
F: I do not know. I just liked it. I guess it was more challenging.
J: You mentioned earlier that the typewriting course was innovative--
it was something they were trying out.
J: Was it very successful?
F: Yes. Back during that time they had grades seventh through
twelfth. We started from ninth grade teaching typing and if a
person wanted to come back the next year, he could volunteer to come
back. I had some pretty good students at that level that were
really trying to learn a vocation. I had a student who now works in
one of the schools as a secretary; this student never did finish high
school. She does a wonderful job, and must have been on her job at
least twenty years. Her typing really paid off.
J: I am not sure of this but I am under the impression that Southwestern
was built as a black high school.
F: That was what it was exactly. It was a black high school.
J: How did you feel about having segregated black and white high
F: The biggest problem I have always had concerning things like that,
is that you need numbers to develop the type of schools which expose
kids to the things that they should have. With a small school you
cannot expose them to enough. You have to give them what you call
comprehensive training. You cannot get into any technical fields.
Now because of the large enrollment at DeLand Senior High I believe
that if a kid wants to pursue a course in mathematics, he can go up
to first year calculus. You cannot do that in these little schools
because you do not have more than one kid out of four or five
hundred that would tax himself to work that way. But with a large
school you have got numbers and various categories to offer somebody
a higher thing. That is the difference I can see there.
J: Did you have a problem with not having enough numbers down at
J: How many people would you say were there as opposed to the white
F: We only had an enrollment of five hundred. And I know DeLand High
must have had twelve to fifteen hundred.
J: And how many grades did you have five hundred people for?
F: Seven through twelve.
J: And the high school had grades nine through twelve or ten through
F: Ten through twelve.
J: Was there any kind of community action that was possible that you
saw to help remedy what you saw as an inequitable system?
F: No, not at that time. We used to meet and talk and discuss these
things and a lot of times we had been criticized for not motivating
kids enough to achieve. These were some of the basics. What they
did not discover was that you always had one or two achievers, but
that was not enough for anybody to notice. It is the bulk instead.
A lot of times people will say, "That is a small group--you should
be able to do this or do that." But you cannot expose them to any-
thing. The things they had to have in high school were math,
English, social studies, P.E., and one or two others. Home economics
was an option; you could take that if you wanted, and things like
typewriting, bookkeeping, and shorthand, you took if you wanted.
Well, you may have five kids, but you cannot run a class with five
kids. So these are some of the tough things that we tried to talk
about. From the standpoint of bringing the schools together it was
a better opportunity for the kids to be exposed to more.
J: When were they brought together?
F: The school year of 1969-1970, fall of 1969.
J: And were the desegregated classes in both Southwestern and over at
the high school over on Plymouth and Hill avenues?
F: No. I think when they desegregated the schools, the high school was
DeLand High, and then Southwestern immediately became a seventh grade
center. DeLand High School got overcrowded right then. But in my
opinion, and it seemed as though they did not want this, but across
the truck route there were enough kids there to at least raise that
enrollment up to about one thousand, and they could have kept that
school out there as a high school.
J: So they moved the class that I was in and had you as a typing
teacher, to Southwestern. Did that ease the student crunch on the
junior high or was that not a problem for them?
F: I believe it did. When they desegregated and moved all the seventh
graders over there, that left room because they only had the eighth
and ninth grade at the junior high, so that evidently gave them more
space. But before then they had three grades at that place. I do
not think anywhere in the county had just the seventh grade until
J: So they relieved the pressure on the junior high and increased the
pressure on the high school.
F: Yes, that is right.
J: They really did not help themselves out too much. Would you say
that is accurate?
F: Well, yes. I could say that is pretty accurate.
J: And you were at Euclid and moved to Southwestern and you were
teaching in the seventh grade then in typing, and then they deseg-
regated the system and you remained at Southwestern?
J: As a typing teacher; and did you continue to teach a math course,
J: How heavy was your schedule?
F: I believe I taught about five classes a day out of seven periods. I
had one other little job. I was chairman of the budget. Now, this
budget had to do with the supplies of the teachers. I had to order
the supplies and distribute the supplies. They gave me one p riod
off anyways, and I got an extra period. I had about thirty kids in
each class on an average. That was about average--about 150 day.
J: Did you enjoy teaching a mixed class?
F: Yes, because I went into it with this attitude. I did not go in
there to teach white children, black children; I used to tell them,
"I teach students." When you develop this attitude I think you get
all this other stuff out of your mind.
J: And out of their minds.
J: I know I have never felt any of that. I was so oblivious to it I
did not realize that desegregation was even an issue in DeLand. And
I am sure that the kind of attitude that you had, and the rest of the
teachers helped promote that.
F: Yes, and I think that was the key thing to making it successful.
Say if I would have had a different attitude, and felt that the kids
did not want to do because they had a black teacher and were not
going to listen to him, I would have wanted to treat this kids dif-
ferent from these black kids over here. I tried to keep them all
seated together. I did not have any special area for anyone. Most
teachers assigned a seat, but I never would assign seats. They were
free to sit where they wanted as long as they were orderly. It
worked pretty good. I had no big problems.
J: Did you remain at Southwestern until you retired?
F: I sure did. I only worked at one school and that was Euclid, then
Euclid became Southwestern. I had the chance to go into two differ-
ent schools, Taylor in Pierson and the one in Deltona, but I was
J: When did you retire?
J: Well, I want to thank you today for sharing information with me. I
have really enjoyed it.
F: I enjoyed it very much.