Title: Walter Price Bevis
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006960/00001
 Material Information
Title: Walter Price Bevis
Series Title: Walter Price Bevis
Physical Description: Book
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00006960
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


This item has the following downloads:

Binder78 ( PDF )

Full Text


In this interview, Walter P. Bevis gives his personal
impressions of Park Trammell as an office-holder, campaigner
and family-man. Having worked for Trammell at intervals
during his long career in Tallahassee, Mr. Bevis could
give details about Mr. Trammell's political life from his
time as attorney general to his return to Lakeland after
serving as U.S. Senator. With nothing but admiration and
respect for Trammell, Mr. Bevis also mentions several
other Florida political personalities.


Angle, A. J., 21-22

Bevis, Walter Price
youth and introduction to politics, 1-2
work in Park Trammell campaigns, 7-9
work for R. A. Gray, 9-10, 12-13

Broward, Napoleon Bonaparte, 18

Catts, Gov. Sidney J., 9-10, 19-22

Combs, Agnes (Williamson), 12-13

Crooms, Mrs. (stenographer for Sen. Trammell), 9

Fletcher, Sen. Duncan Upshaw, 20

Gilchrist, Gov. Albert W., 8-9, 18

Gray, Robert A., 7, 9-10, 12-13

Hudson, F. M., 21

Luning, J. C., 8-9

Milton, William H., 21

Pepper, Claude, 20-21

Emma (Mrs. P. B. McDougall), 14
John (brother), 14
John, Sr., 2
Ripley, 14
Ruby (Trammell) Whitfield, 2-3
Virginia D. (first wife of Park), 5-7, 15
Wilson, 3

Trammell, Park
attorney general, 2, 15-16
legislation (as governor), 12
political campaigns, 2, 7-8, 11, 17-18

political views, 17-20
politician, 4-6, 13, 16
private law practice/income, 10-11, 22

Whitfield, G. Talbot, 3


B: We're both old people. I'm eighty-eight and my wife's eighty-

K: Well, I think you both look in just great shape.

B: We must have been married sixty-three years.

K: Really? That's remarkable. Just wonderful. Mr. Bevis, could
I start by asking you your full name?

B: Walter Price Bevis.

K: And where and when were you born?

B: I was born in Bascom, Florida, in Jackson County near Marianna,
January 7, 1887.

K: What were your parents names?

B: My father was named William Allen Bevis and my mother was named
Julia Cordelia Grant before she married. And they were married
and lived, and family were raised at Bascom, Florida.

K: You grew up in Bascom, sir?

B: Have you been there, Mr. Kerber?

K: No, sir, I haven't.

B: It's just a little small country town. I was raised on a farm.

K: And you went to school there?

B: Yes. We didn't have but twelve children, and I was number three
from the top.

K: Just a little farming community?

B: Yes.

K: And how did you first get involved in politics, Mr. Bevis?

B: Well, it's kind of a strange situation. When my parents married
they decided that their first boy child they had they'd make a
doctor out of him, and the second one they'd make a preacher.
Well, when I was born I was left-handed, and they sent me to school
and the teacher made me change to my right hand. Of course then
I began to stammer, and that preaching was out. Then I decided
on my course for my life's work. I worked on my father's four-
house farm.
Then I decided the best thing for me to do was to take a
business course. So I went to Dothan, Alabama, which was not
very far from there, and took a business course. And I came to
Tallahassee in the session of the legislature in 1911, and ran
for messenger and was defeated by an older man who had been a mes-
senger for several years. I didn't know that when I ran. I
then got employment with the legislature. John Kellum was busi-
ness manager for F.S.U. [Florida State University] at that time,
as well as chief clerk of the House; and I was employed by him
until the legislature was over, and then Park Trammell. That's
when I came in with Park Trammell.

K: So it was in 1911 that you first met Mr. Trammell?

B: Yes. He decided that I didn't mind work, and so on and so forth.
So he hired me to assist his wife in conducting his campaign.
He was then attorney general [of Florida] and was seeking the of-
fice of the governor. Well, Mrs. Trammell and myself did the
business part of...in other words, did the political part of the
campaign. I worked in the office as a law clerk in the daytime,
and we would work at night with the election work at his home.

K: Did you ever meet Park Trammell's father, John Trammell?

B: No. I knew his brother John, who was an attorney.

K: His father John, was at one time the superintendent of the hos-
pital at Chattahoochee.

B: No, I wasn't old enough at that time. He was one of the first
superintendents they had over there.

K: Right. Did you know the widow, Park Trammell's mother who later
became Mrs. Whitfield?

B: Yes.

K: What was her first name, sir?

B: Ruby. She was much younger than John Trammell, Sr.

K: And do you have any idea when she married Mr. Whitfield? Would
it have been after you met Park Trammell, or was .it sometime
before then?

B: No. I don't know. Well, she married Mr. Whitfield, the....
You see, she has a son in Miami.

K: Yes sir--Wilson?

B: Wilson.

K: Wilson Trammell? What were the relations between she and Park
Trammell? I sort of understood from your letter that he tried
to look out for her and give her a position.

B: Well, there wasn't any particular relation. He looked after her.
You see, she married G. Talbot Whitfield.

K: Yes, sir.

B: And [Whitfield] raised Wilson Trammell who was a small boy when
she [Ruby] married him [Whitfield]. He raised and educated
Wilson, who has practiced law in Miami. But he [Park Trammell]
didn't make any change in his private secretaryship upon account
of the family connections. And so that shows that he [Park]
was looking after Mr. Whitfield, who was the second husband of
Mrs. John Trammell, Sr.

K: Was he a thoughtful and considerate kind of man? Did he often
do things like that?

B: Yes, he did. He was the best. He was a most kind-hearted man.
I've never known of a man that was more so. He had all the good
qualifications, and was a smart politician. He had a gift.
Have you seen his picture?

K: Yes, sir, I have.

B: He's naturally a good-looking man.

K: Yes, he is.

B: And I told you about him going from Lakeland to United States
senator, didn't I...

K: All the steps up.

B: ...without a break?

K: Yes.

B: I think the reason he did was that he was kind-hearted and had
the best memory of people. He would go along down the street and
he wouldn't try to remember all of your name. Take me as an ex-
ample. My name is Walter, and he'd say, "Hi, Walter. How are
you getting along? How's everybody down in Bascom?" or wherever.
He'd always remember the man's first name, where he was from, and
he had an uncanny way of doing that.
And he had another political qualification that not many
people had. He always kept a card index of his supporters in
his desk drawer. In other words, if you was from Jackson County
and...say the sheriff died over there and he had to make an ap-
pointment, he would never make appointments until after the funeral
was over, and then he would go to his card index and pick out one
of his favorite supporters.

K: Always somebody reliable? Somebody who had helped him on the
way up?

B: And that he felt sure would be re-elected.

K: In other words, he wouldn't select someone just because they
had supported him, but they would have to have some appeal on
their own to the public?

B: The reason he would not appoint a person he felt could not be
re-elected was that that person could not be of much help to him

K: It had to be the both, right?

B: And popular.

K: I see.

B: I'll give you an incident to show you how keen his memory was.
I was walking down the streets of Bartow with him one day, and
was approaching a man that I knew that the last time he saw him
he was living in Marianna and he was wearing short trousers.
He was in the abstract office. I says to myself, "Now here's
one time he's going to get caught out." So we went on down and
we met this fellow--his name was McLeod. He says, "Hello, Mr.

McLeod. How you getting along?" He says, "How's everybody in
Marianna? I didn't know you was in the abstract business down

K: Was that just a natural thing, or did he also really work on it,
make a point of doing it?

B: Well, it was natural I reckon, because you couldn't work on some-
thing if you didn't have the wherewithal to do it with.

K: I understand Fuller Warren had that same kind of memory.

B: No.

K: It's not true?

B: Nothing like this man.

K: Nothing compared to Governor Trammell?

B: He was pretty good, but there's been a lot of people that I
have known politically. Trammell's wife was a big help. She
didn't have that qualification, but she helped him a lot. And
a lot of his friends said, "Well, now since Mrs. Trammell died,
I know that Park is going to get defeated." But pshaw, he just
got more votes than ever right on, because he had that political

K: Do you know if he ever did work for his father at Chattahoochee?
Did he ever mention anything about that to you?

B: No.

K: He was born in Alabama.

B: Alabama?

K: Yes, sir.

B: But his boyhood days were spent in Lakeland.

K: Yes, sir.
Mr. Bevis, Park Trammell was in the Florida House, as you
said, and the Florida Senate. Was he well-regarded by his col-
leagues, as far as you know, as a legislator?

B: Oh, yes. When he was attorney general and was seeking the office
of governor, he had a form letter that he would write to his
colleagues in the senate. He would start off a letter by saying
that...about his memory of the association in the senate and so
on, and then ask for his support. And in the house the same way.
And so he had built him up many friends among state and county
officials. And he'd always go to the court house in all counties
when court was in session. You know, the courts in Florida meet
in each county on a certain date. Well, he'd always make it a
point to be in that county when the court convened, because
he knew it was important politically.

K: Say hello to people and greet them? I see. Sir, what did he
look like? How big was he?

B: He was unusually tall and well-proportioned.

K: Six feet three inches, six feet four inches maybe?

B: He never did have to buy tailor-made suits to make him look nice.
He'd get one of those hand-me-downs and he would look just as
nice as if he was dressed in a tailor-made suit.

K: Was he a big, husky man?

B: Tall and well-proportioned. You can tell that by his picture.

K: Yes, it does look like that.

B: He was a big, well-proportioned man.

K: And was he really as handsome as they say?

B: Yes, he was.
And he could sit down and talk to you. Over there one
year when he was running for some office, the newspaper man op-
posed him. But he went down and visited and talked to him, and
by the time he got through with him the man was for him.

K: He was good, then, in a discussion with people? He was a charming
kind of man?

B: He had what I call magical charm. A charming individual.

K: Did it ever bother Mrs. Trammell at all that he got so much at-
tention, being such a charming and good-looking man?

B: No, it's another thing about him, he never had any affair with
any other women.

K: Straight down the line, a good man?
Let's talk a little about Mrs. Trammell. Did she have a
problem with her health?

B: No, she was very healthy woman, and worked hard, and her prin-
cipal interest was her husband's welfare and success.

K: The reason I asked is Secretary Gray mentioned in his book that
the reason that the Grays moved into the mansion with the Gover-
nor and Mrs. Trammell was that he didn't want her to be alone.
So it wasn't Mrs. Trammell's health?

B: No, they didn't want her to be alone.

K: It was just that they didn't have any children?

B: Neither did the Grays. The Grays never had any children.

K: So the mansion was just too big for two people?

B: Governor Trammell didn't have any children. And Mr. Gray--I
guess you read his book--he went to Washington with him. He was
his secretary. If you could have had this biography before Mr.
Gray died.... Mr. Gray died just about the time I got your letter.
He would have been an ideal man [to interview about Trammell].
Of course, I worked for him [Trammell] a long time, but Mr. Gray
was more closely associated with him than I was.

K: Would you tell me a little bit about how you and Mrs. Trammell
worked on the campaign? Did you put material in envelopes, or...?

B: The way he ran his campaign, he got a list of the newspapers of
the state, and he got a one-column cut of himself with his format
that he was a candidate for governor, and he would send one of
those to each newspaper. That's the first thing he did. Well,
then when he would write a letter, he would say, "I am, as you
know, a candidate for governor of the state of Florida in the
coming primary." And we would get out what we called campaign
literature, too. He would get up the form letter, and we would
write the form letters and send them out to the senators, to the
representatives, and to all the state and county officials. We'd
get the secretary of state's report, all the county judges, all
the county officers. And we would answer all the letters, and
then he had some literature that he would send out, printed lit-
erature. So she and I would do most of that at night. I mean,
I would help her at night and work in the office in the daytime.

K: And as far as you know, he would pay for all of this himself,
including the postage and everything?

B: No. Yes, the state never had to pay for anything. In other words,
the money that he spent...he didn't do like a lot of these peo-
ple these days, get the state's money in their own pocket.

K: He didn't abuse the privileges of his office. Did he have a
sense of humor, sir, or was he kind of a straight-laced person?

B: Well, he had a sense of humor, but he wouldn't tell no dirty

K: Just an average kind of a person?

B: Yes, he was a strict member of the Baptist church. He and his
wife always went to church.

K: Was that the First Baptist Church?

B: Uh huh.

K: And they were regular attendants?
O.K., now just to get this straight, you first went to work
for him when he was attorney general, but when he was running
for governor?

B: That's right. In other words, he met me on the street. I had
been working with Mr. Kellum, and I couldn't work out there after
that. It was a girl's school. I couldn't work out there except
during the summer school. And he met me on the street and told
me that he understood that I was a good, hard worker, and that
he needed just such a man as me to help him with his campaign
for governor, and he couldn't pay him that much salary, but he
would do the best he could.
But another interesting thing was at the very last of his
campaign he was running short of money, and he had letters there
that he didn't have the money to buy the stamps [for]. He says,
"Walter, you know I've got to get these letters mailed out, and
I need twenty dollars for stamps." I says, "Well, I'll just let
you have twenty dollars, and you can pay me back."

K: That's great. Did you work for him after the campaign of 1912,
or did you go work for Mr. Luning?

B: Mr. Luning was secretary to board of trustees of the Internal
Improvements Board. Gilchrist was the governor before Trammell,

and he had two vacancies at the same time. The comptroller died,
and the commissioner of agriculture died. And Gilchrist wanted
Luning, J.C. Luning the first commissioner of agriculture, and he
[Luning] didn't want that. He wanted to be treasurer. So he re-
signed as commissioner of agriculture and he appointed W.A. McRae,
who was clerk of the circuit court in Jackson County in that
Mr. Knott was then state treasurer. He resigned and they
put Luning in the state treasurer, and put Mr. Knott in the place
of Mr. A.C. Croom who was comptroller, who died at the same time
B.E. McLin, commissioner of agriculture, did. Mr. Luning was
inexperienced politically, and when time come for changing over
the administration and Gilchrist's time out, he [Trammell] says,
"Walter, I can't make any changein the governor's office on account
of Mr. Whitfield being Mrs. [John] Trammell's second husband,
and he's got two secretaries in.now, but both of them are widows.
I couldn't turn widows out." And he said, "I'll get Mr. Luning
to give you a job to manage his campaign, because he's inexperi-
So I went from there to Luning's office, and he was state
treasurer, and stayed until time Trammell wanted to run for United
States senator. Then he got me back down to his office.

K: From 1912 to 1916 you would have been with Mr. Luning and then in
the '16 campaign you went back to help Mr. Trammell? Then you
told me that you stayed on for awhile under Governor Catts until
you went into the Navy?

B: Yes, in other words when he [Trammell] went to Washington, 'course
Catts succeeded him, and Mr. Gray was his secretary. After a cer-
tain length of time, why Whitfield got appointed clerk of the
[Florida] Supreme Court and he moved his crowd over there. And
Mr. Gray got to be secretary, and Mrs. Crooms that I told you about
became Trammell's stenographer. She was Trammell's stenographer,
And I was Mr. Gray's stenographer. When he [Trammell] went to
Washington he took both of them with him and left me, because
I had a family and a farm and things like that here. And I stayed
on with Catts until...you see, the World War was coming on and I
was subject to be drafted. And I tried to join the Army here,
but on account of a busted kneecap they turned me down. A man from
Key West come in there one day. He said, "I can get you in the
Navy, and they won't even look at your knee." So I left Catts
then and went and joined the Navy in World War I.

K: Would you tell me a little bit more about your own subsequent
career? You served in the Navy, and then...?

B: I went down to Key West, and the first thing they asked, he says,
"What kind of work you been doing?" I told him I worked in the
governor's office. He said, "Well, you're the very man we're
looking for. We need somebody to look after the personnel records
in the admiral's office." They put me in clerical work in there,
and I stayed in there till I got out.
When the time come to get out, they let me out, one of the
first ones after the war was over, and I got back to Tallahassee
just in time to get a job in the legislature, because the legis-
lature was convening. I worked for the state from the time I
started working for Trammell right on up to '55. I resigned as
chief clerk in the secretary of state's office, Bob Gray,'s office,
R.A. Gray.

K: Sir, what were your impressions of Governor Catts, Sidney Catts?
Was he a good governor? What kind of a man was he?

B: He was terrible. He didn't make a good governor. In the first
place I think that he was a...I don't think he was normal. I
think he had sort of screws in his head. And he was overbearing,
high-tempered, and if everybody didn't do just exactly like he
wanted them to do he lost his temper. He was a Baptist preacher
and he was a forceful speaker. I didn't stay with him any longer
than I could help it. But when he went up to Camp Wheeler'and they
had a shortage of blankets, that's when I left him and went in
the Navy. When he come back he wrote me a long letter: "May the
Lord bless you and keep you" and so on and so forth, "and if you
ever get out, you'll get your job back." I said, "That's a good
junk letter to keep." So, when I got out, he didn't give me the
same job, but he got another job.

K: He did? How about that? Well, that was nice of him anyway.

B: But he wouldn't have done that if I hadn't had...

K: ...had the letter in writing?

B: ...had that letter!

K: It's a good thing you kept it. Did Governor Trammell practice
private law while he was in office? He didn't do anything like
that, did he?

B: He did at Lakeland before he came here [Tallahassee], but he never
practiced law.

K: Not while he was a state office holder?

B: And another thing was, he told me all the time he was Senator,
he never took any side money. He told me--the last time I talked
to him, he was in the secretary of state's office and I was working
for Bob Gray--he says, "You know, Walter, all the time I have
been United States senator I haven't saved any money. I'm prac-
tically a pauper. Now I have to borrow money to carry on the
campaign." But he didn't take any side money, and he didn't
practice law, and he looked after the interests of the people all
the time.

K: Would you have any idea from whom he would have borrowed the
money to finance his senate campaign? Would it have been friends
like Mr. Gray?

B: No.

K: People like that?

B: Florida banks.

K: Just go to a bank...?

B: Right.

K: ...and say put a mortgage on the house or something?

B: Yes.

K: Very good. Was he regarded as a good attorney? Did he know the
law or did you...?

B: Oh, yes.

K: He went to Cumberland Law School, right?

B: Yes, yes.

K: And also to Vanderbilt for a time?

B: Yes. He was well-educated.

K: Sir, are we tiring you out, or are you doing all right? Are
we talking too long or am I tiring you out?

B: Oh, no. I just hope I'm helping you out.

K: Your memory is fantastic, and I'm very, very glad that I came
here and found you. How did he go about getting his legislative
program enacted? Did he just sort of say to the legislature, this
is what you ought to do, or did he work through certain officers?

B: He didn't have any trouble. The people loved him. In other words,
he was the only governor that I ever knew that the legislature
didn't try to work in opposition to, and they knew that he was
interested in the will of the people. And he did everything for
F.S.U. and the school [University of Florida] in Gainesville he
could. He didn't have any trouble with getting.his legislation

K: So they went along with him because they realized that the people
were behind him?

B: They don't have people like that now. I wish they had--of course
I'm an old man--I wish they had people in office now that were like
the majority of the people in those days. Now I have a picture of
the cabinet, Park Trammell's cabinet, and all those fellows was
high-class men. But they don't have people like that now. It's
"What can I get out of it?" now.

K: Did Mr. Trammell write his own bills, or did he ask people like
Mr. Gray or someone to draft the bills?

B: Well, he'd tell Gray what he wanted and then Gray....

K: Mr. Gray would put it over. What kind of a work schedule did he
follow as governor? What was his working day like? Did he get
up early and go up to the capital and spend all day there, or
what? Do you know anything about that?

B: Well, when he was running the campaign he worked at home at night.
But he could get there at eight o'clock and he'd stay there until
five. He always had good help, and he never had any trouble with

K: Was he a good administrator?

B: Yes.

K: He had no trouble in managing people? Who were some of the other
people that were working with him at that time besides you and
Mr. Gray?

B: There was Mrs. Combs, who was Agnes Williamson.

K: And she was the stenographer?

B: That was before she married. And myself. I was Mr. Gray's sten-
ographer. And Mrs. Combs was Governor Trammell1s stenographer.

K: And that was the whole governor's office?

B: That constituted it. That constituted the office, and Mr. Gray
was what you call a private secretary. He had charge of the of-

K: I see. Did Mr. Trammell rely a great deal on his subordinates?

B: Yes.

K: In other words, he'd tell you to do something and he just assumed
that it would be done, that he had good people working for him?

B: Yes.

K: How did he go about making decisions? Did he know like that
what he wanted to do, or did he try to think about things, think
things through?

B: Well, he'd talk it over with Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray was secretary
of state for a long time and he was a well-educated man. He was
a school teacher and a newspaper man. And he was just as smart
a man as Trammell, practically, but he didn't have his personality.

K: Did he continue to discuss things during his administration with
Mrs. Trammell as he did during the campaign? Or do you know?

B: I expect he did. Of course I wasn't that intimate with him to
know. But he would discuss things with people, and if he got in
a tight place and he didn't want to answer you, he had this ex-
pression: "The chances are it is. I see no reason why it shouldn't
be." Now if you can make anything out of that [laughter]....

K: He just wanted to avoid the whole thing, right? Change the sub-

B: If you can make anything out of that, you're good. "The chances
are it is. I see no reason why it shouldn't be."

K: So unless he wanted to commit himself about something, he wouldn't?

B: I don't want to say this, but his brothers was a detriment to
him rather than a help. In other words he had three brothers:
Worth Trammell and Ripley Trammell, they called him Rip, and John.
Well, they were all lawyers. But there wasn't any of them lawyers
of note. He had the brains of the family, and John would come
over here when he [Park] was governor, and he-knew Park would be
ashamed of him if he wasn't nicely dressed, so he'd put on the old,
dirtiest, torn-up suit he could find and come over here. And of
course Park would go buy him a suit. Then Worth was assistant
attorney general. He put Worth in his office to help him, and he
wasn't any help to him. And Rip...to cap it all off, when he
[Park] went to Washington, Rip went up there, too. And instead
of renting him a place to stay, he fixed him up a room in Park's
office and slept in there. Of course that embarrassed Park.
But they wasn't any help to him, none of them.

K: Were they always asking for favors and things like that?

B: Yes.

K: Or did he just do it out of the goodness of his...?

B: No, they didn't have to ask him because if he.... They put in
to embarrass him, and he'd get out of it by keeping them.

K: What about his sisters? Were they the same way?

B: No.

K: Or did you know those ladies?

B: He had one sister that worked over there at the state hospital
for insane. She got a job when his father was superintendent of
the hospital. She was one of the matrons, the nurses over there
during her lifetime, and the other one, Emma, she married a banker

K: That's Mrs. [P.B.] McDougall?

B: She was all right, except she had just the opposite kind of dis-
position than Trammell. She'd always make enemies rather than
friends. Nothing ever suited her.

K: That's too bad. Sir, you said that he would travel from court-
house to courthouse to meet people during the campaign. Did he
travel much during the rest of his term when he was governor or
attorney general, or did he stick in Tallahassee?

B: No, you see the attorney general, he'd have United States cases
against Florida, and he'd go to New York and other states at
state expense.

K: He would plead the state's case himself?

B: He didn't practice any law except for the benefit of the state.

K: Do you know if he took Mrs. Trammell with him when he would go
off to New York?

B: No, she remained here. But the peculiar thing about Mrs. Trammell
was that after all these years of working real hard for him right
here in Tallahassee, she went with him to Washington and she got
pleurisy or something, and didd just a short while after he began
his work as U.S. senator.

K: Yes, sir. In 1922 she died. Did that have a large effect on him?
Did it sadden him? I suppose naturally it would.

B: Well, it grieved him, and he didn't marry for a long time after
her death. And he married some woman he met in Washington, I
think. After he left here and went to Washington I didn't know
anything much about his life when I was still in Florida.

K: Only when he would maybe come back and come over to see Mr. Gray....

B: Yes, he'd come to see....

K: ...and see you and his old friends? How did he address his wife?

B: Virgie.

K: What did he do for recreation, Mr. Bevis?

B: Politics.

K: Politics was his whole life?

B: It was.

K: He didn't go in for sports?

B: Didn't play golf or anything.

K: Did he smoke or drink? I suppose as a Baptist he wouldn't.

B: Yes, he smoked. That's the only thing...he never smoked but
one a day and that was all day long when at work. I don't think
I ever did see him in the office without a cigar in his mouth.
He smoked good cigars. But that's all he ever smoked--cigars.

K: Was he a prohibitionist, or was it just a personal thing?

B: Yes. A personal thing.

K: He believed in prohibition? Do you remember where they lived
when he was attorney general, before he became governor?

B: Are you acquainted in Tallahassee?

K: Not very well, sir.

B: Well, if you go up to North Monroe Street, past the hotel, and
there was a house right on the intersection of Tennessee and Monroe
which is a main thoroughfare going back as far as this way on
Monroe, and there was a house there, two-story house. He stayed
there and he rented that two-story home all the time that he lived
in Tallahassee. And he conducted his political work, meetings,
pamphlets, etc. When we would work, we would use the upstairs
for political purposes, and then he used the downstairs for living
quarters and other things.

K: Did he have many close friends, sir, or did he sort of treat every-
body equally? In other words, were the men, say in his cabinet,
his close friends?

B: Yes, well, they were all his close friends. Of course, they loved
him. But I don't believe that the man had an enemy in the world.
If a fellow didn't like him, he'd....

K: He'd win him over?

B: He'd win him over.

K: Were the Trammells big for entertaining? Did they like to have
people over.

B: No, he didn't entertain. In other words, he didn't make a big
show of anything like most governors do.

K: If people happened to drop in, that was all right? But they didn't
give big parties or anything?

B: Yes. In fact he didn't have much spare money to entertain.

K: He was very careful about his budget and what not? And he just
lived off his salary then...

B: Yes.

K: ...after he took office? Was he a reader, Mr. Bevis? Did he
read a lot, outside of what he had to do as governor--his paperwork?

B: Well....

K: Maybe the newspapers?

B: He might have. I know one time when he was running for United
States senator, some fellows down in Jacksonville challenged him
to a joint debate in a schoolhouse here, and they accused him of
nepotism and plagiarism. Nepotism is giving your own people jobs,
and they thought they had him. But he got up, smiling, and he had
all the endorsements.... Now he pointed to Worth, that'brother of
his that was assistant attorney general. He said, "Now they accuse
me of nepotism. But here's a stack of recommendations and endorse-
ments this high for Worth Trammell, and here's just two or three
for the other fellow. Now you can see by that. Anybody wants to
come up here and look at them, why come on up and look." And he
said, "I might have used some of Henry Grady's expressions in some
of my speeches, but it wasn't intentional."

K: Did he believe that Florida should encourage tourism, and encourage
industry like the phosphate industry, things like these?

B: Yes, he was pleased. Flagler built the railroad about the same
time to Key West during his administration, and Plant built the
Coast Line [Atlantic Coast Line Railroad] into Tampa, and he
was very much interested in the tourists coming to Florida.

K: What kind of a speaker was he in a campaign, or did you ever see
him address a crowd? Did he gesture and get them going with him,
or did he just kind of talk to them and reason with them?

B: He was a good speaker. He just kindof talked. He never said
anything disparaging against even his enemies. He would protect
himself when he was running against somebody. He'd say, "Well,
he's a pretty good man over here. Dont know much about him."

K: Did he like to talk about issues in a campaign, or would he kind
of tell the people about his own qualifications and his own views,
and things like that?

B: Oh, he'd say his qualifications speak for themselves; that he was
a candidate and would appreciate any votes that they'd give him,
as he felt like that he was doing his duty at all times.

K: So they should judge him on his performance to date if they wanted
to keep him on.
Do you know if Governor Trammell considered himself a supporter
or a follower of Napolean Bonaparte Broward? Was he an anti-corp-
oration, anti-railroad man? Or was he more of a conservative

B: He wasn't a corporation man. He was for the common man, and he
didn't fight the corporation, but he let people know that he wasn't
a corporation man.

K: What were his relations with Governor Gilchrist, the governor who
preceded him? Were they friendly at all?

B: Well, they were friendly. He was friendly with Gilchrist, but
Gilchrist was always making fun of him, and saidthat he was
just a handsome man with a bunch of hair.. [laughter]

K: He liked to wear his hair long, didn't he?

B: Yes.

K: How did he feel about women's suffrage? Did he want to see women
get the vote?

B: Well, that didn't come up until after that, and there wasn't
anything said about it.

K: So he never took any position on it?

B: It wasn't an issue.

K: Do you remember how he felt about Everglades drainage?

B: For it.

K: How about the primary system of elections? Did he approve of it?
Did he favor the primaries over the old system of conventions?

B: Yes, you see when he was elected they....

K: They already had primaries, right?

B: No, they had the first and second choice both. It was when Catts
was running for governor [that] they changed the law from the first
and second primary to the first and second choice votes. But
he was against that. He was for the first and second primary.

K: I see. How about good roads? Was he a supporter of the good
roads movement in Florida?

B: The who?

K: Paved roads?

B: Yes. Good roads.

K: Good roads? He was for good roads?

B: Uh huh.

K: Did, as far as you know did he ever bring the Negro issue into
any of his campaigns?

B: There wasn't any mention about that; the civil rights hadn't
started yet.

K: How about the policy of leasing the state's convicts to private
business? Was he against that?

B: Yes, he was against that.

K: He wanted to put a stop to that? Do you remember if he supported
Woodrow Wilson before the Democratic convention in 1912? Or would
he have been supporting Mr. Underwood or Mr. Clark for the Demo-
cratic nomination for president?

B: To tell you the truth, I don't know about that.

K: Did he take much interest in national politics until he ran for
the senate?

B: Not much.

K: You said that you served in the Navy in World War I. Was Mr.
Trammell in favor of the United States entering the war before
1917? Or did he also think that that was not something to worry
about as far as governor?

B: When the war came on...

K: '14.

B: ...everybody, you were supposed to fight the wars and make the
world safe for democracy. That was a laugh. And I think that
he felt that the war was necessary. I did. I thought that it
was necessary, and I guess everybody.else did.

K: Let me ask you about Senator [Duncan Upshaw] Fletcher? Were
Senator Trammell and Senator Fletcher good friends?

B: They were just the opposite. He [Fletcher] was a corporation
man. And Park took a neutral stand.

K: Did they get along? Were they friends?

B: Yes, they got along fine. He was a good corporation senator,
and Trammell was good for the people. And they got along well.
Everybody thought we had two good senators when we had Fletcher
and Trammell.

K: But they were generally recognized among knowledgeable political
people like yourself as representing two different groups within
the Democratic party? I see.

B: You haven't mentioned anything about Claude Pepper.

K: Well, sir, I was going to save that for last, because I didn't
want to get you mad at me.

B: Claude Pepper thought he could beat Trammell, and he accused
Trammell of misusing the Cubans. Trammell had a lot of friends
in Tampa. And Tampa went solidly for him. But Pepper was an
orator. He was a smart lawyer. He thought sure he could beat

K: Was Pepper the corporation candidate in '34?

B: Yes.

K: He was? So you think it was just that Hillsborough County was
so much for Senator Trammell that he got the vote that put him

B: Yes.

K: It wasn't a crooked election the way Pepper said it was?

B: No. No. But he had to have some excuse to give. [laughter]

K: Sir, let me ask you about 1912. Mr. Trammell didn't quite get
enough votes in the first primary for governor to win, but William
Milton decided not to contest it in the second primary.

B: Yes.

K: There were charges that they made...

B: I remember that very well.

K: ...a deal, is that true?

B: I remember very well. It was three candidates. There was F.M.
Hudson, Park Trammell, and W.H. Milton. Well, W.H. Milton was
a good man, a good friend of mine, and he realized that he didn't
get enough votes. So he withdrew.

K: He did it because he realized that he would just lose in the
second primary?

B: Yes, and that....

K: Then there was nothing to these charges that were leveled against
them about making a deal?

B: Trammell didn't even ask him. He just withdrew, and of course
that made him [Trammell] the nominee.

K: I have one more thing I'd like to ask you. Did you know a man,
a friend of Trammell's, named A.J. Angle?

B: Yes, I knew him.

K: Can you tell me something about him?

B: Well, Angle was an undertaker, and he was in the legislature.
I don't recall any connection between Angle and Trammell except
they were both from Polk County.

K: The reason I ask is I've seen his name come up several times
sort of in a vague connection. And also he was a witness when
the senator got remarried in 1934, one of the only two witnesses
to the marriage. And I was just wondering if he was a close friend
or a political advisor?

B: Well, he was. They were raised down there in the same area.

K: They grew up together?

B: And I think that Angle was a very good man. He was an under-
taker, and he was a very poor legislator representing Polk County,
but he made friends. He had a lot of friends. But he wasn't a
shining light as a politician.
Governor Catts succeeded him [Trammell] and he was sitting
there one night. Before he [Catts] came in as governor, he spent
the night there [at the mansion] with him [Trammell], and he said,
"Well, Governor, I guess you are a wealthy man after serving the
state four years for governor."
He [Trammell] says, "No. I'm practically a pauper. I'm
going to have to borrow money to....?

K: To go home to Lakeland? He did have a sense of humor, didn't he?

B: So Catts was a different type.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs