Trammell intv. #4
Subject: Thomas C. Darby
Intv: Stephen Kerber D. Soles
Place: Tampa, Florida C
K; Today is Wednesday, June 25, 1975. My name is Steve Kerber, and I'm going
to be doing an interview with Mr. Thomas C. Darby, D-a-r-b-y. 1012 South
Rome Avenue, Tampa, Florida, 33606. The time is approximately 2:00 p.m.
There we go. That's better. You live in a very nice neighborhood.
K: Right near the water. You live in a very nice neighborhood.
D: Oh, yes. Well, we've been here about twenty years, about twenty-two years.
K: Have you? ...Mr. Darby, could I start by asking you your full name.
D: Thomas C.
K: Thomas C. Darby.
D: Yes, /',
K: And...where and when were ou born, sir?
D: Apopka, Florida.
K: And when, sir?
K: 1887. And...did you grow up in Apopka?
D: No sir...no, I was there just when I was in'...younger days.
K: ...Do you remember when you moved to Lakeland? Or did you move from Apopka
D: Well ,when I moved...when we was in Lakeland, Park Trammell was in Lakeland.
K: ffhk ^.
D: ...I don't know exactly when that was, but I was in Lakeland in 1903.
K: Uh, huh. And did you....
D: And we moved, my father and my step-mom moved from there to Jacksonville.
K: Uh, huh. What was your father's name, sir?
D: Thomas'iC. I was c \OT
K: -[rt you were junior. And what was your mother's name?
K: Mfriah. I see. ...How did you happen to come to Tampa? Did you come here
as a young man or as an adult or...
D: Oh...we came to Tampa on account of my wife's sister.
K: I see.
D: She lived here and she was Y d c\ Q in 55.
K: I see. What was your occupation, sir?
D: Clerk with the -L\\ _t Centl Railroad.
K: Oh, really.
D: In Jackson, Mississippi.
K: I see. ...Did you...attend school in Lakeland as a boy?
D: Yes 5'e
K: You did.
D: Now, I don't knowj..I just can't remember what year that was.
K: Uh, huh. ...Would that have been grade school, or high school also?
D: It was grade school. I think it was.. think it was a grade school.
K:Let ask you about your brothers and sisters. How many did you have?
D: I had no brothers,
K: Just sisters?
D: Just sisters.
K: Did you just have two sisters?
D: No, I had three.
K: You had three.
D: Park Trammell's wife, and another sister lived in Orlando, but she passed away
about a couple of years ago. And then I've got another sister who lives in
Orlando...Mrs. C.P. Dickinson.
K: Mrs. Dickinson was Marie Darby? Is that right?
D: aIu", 5 "
Your sister Marie...
...became Mrs. Dickinson?
Was it, and it was your sister, Virginia, that married Park Trammell?
Was your other sister named Persia?
Persia. Was she your third sister, Persia?
She...she was my, she was my second sister.
Was Virginia the oldest?
And then Persia?
And then Marie?
Did Persia ever marry, Mr. Darby?
Did she get married?
She...she married...George Phillips.
I see. So her husband was named Phillips?
And was he an attorney in Orlando?
They was in Orlando. He was in the manufacturing business.
And...Persia passed away a few years ago, is that right?
I think about a couple years ago, yes.
I see, okay. And so Marie is your only surviving sister?
K: Were they all yourfull sisters, sir, or...
K: They were. Okay. ...Were the girls born in Apopka or in Lakeland, or do you
D: \B( that?
K: Your sisters, were they born in Apopka?
D: ...My oldest sister, I think...
D: Virginia, I don't remember where she was born in Apopka or not, but my younger
K: Um, huh. Were they much younger than you, sir?
D: Oh, yes.' l WCY "
K: Ta5va e- About five years or ten years.
D: No, they wasn't that young. Of course...my older sister was...Virginia, Ive
forgotten how old she was. I don't just, I don't just remember when...
K: She would have been older than you?
D: Oh, yes. OV\ CS
K: 2am _Bz. And then the other two were younger than you?
D: My second .nomy...
K: Persia was older than you?
K: And then you?
D: And then me.
K: And then the younger one, Marie?
K: Okay. ..Do you remember where you lived in Lakeland, sir, which street you
lived on, or what part of town you lived in?
D: No, I don't.
D: School wasn't very far, was just...down the street. Park Trammell built that
house, had it built.
K: Did Virginia go to school with you at that same school or after you?
D No, oh no, no.
K: No, she was older and out of school by now,
D: No...neither one of them. I went to school in Apopka, too when I was just a
K: I see, uh, huh, okay/ Do you remember when you first met Park Trammell? Do
D: No, I don't. I was thinking about that the other day. I don't know ywen it
was. I don't know where...I don't know where it was. l-t Virginia met him,
I believe she met him in Lakeland.
K: Probably in Lakeland. Did your family know the Trammell family, John, the father,
and his children?
D: I think so, yes sir.
K: You did. Do you remember anything yourself about John Trammell, Park's father?
D: fo, I don't particularly know much about John.
K: Would it sound right if I told you he was a politician also in Polk County?
K: Does that ring any bells?
D: I think he was a politician, yes.
K: Okay. Did you have any idea of he helped his son get started in politics, or
do you remember?
D: ...You're talking about Park Trammell's father?
K: Yes. Would John Trammell have helped his son, do you remember get into politics?
D: Not John. I'm talking about...that was his brother, I think.
K: I think he had a brother named John, but his father was also named John.
D: I don't remember his father.
K: Okay/ Now...did you live with Park and Virginia forf a while?
D: Yes sir.
K: Was that right after they got married?
D: No. I don't remember just what year it was. I used to go back and forth and...
my father...let's see ..he was in Jacksonville.
K: I see.
D: And he also...well of course he--my father moved from...
K: From Lakeland?
D: pack-i ihe was in, he was in business in Lakeland, in the grocery business.
K: Ke owned a grocery store. Did you work for your father in the grocery store?
D: I worked for him when he was up in-.C V -
K: In Crescent City.
D: /was the last lC e that rag
K: I see. Did Park Trammell ever work for your father in that store?
K: Do you know if he ever worked as a clerk in a store? Do you remember?
D: I don't remember.
K: Do you remember if Trammell ever worked as a traveling salesman at any time?
D: I don't remember. Seems to me like I remember him saying he was 0-
Sbut the only time I knew Park Trammell when he was a politician.
K: I see, okay. Do you remember anything about what Park Trammell looked like, sir?
Could you describe him at all? Was he a very big man?
D: Let's see, I did have some pictures of him, but I got a picture back there of
his wife, Virginia.
K: What I want to get at was, was he as really as handsome as people said he was
at the time as the newspapers said?
D: He was what?
K: Was he as handsome?
D: Oh, yes! OK-e, kye
K: He was. Did tat have anything to do with his political success, do you think,
that he was such a good looking man?
D: I really don't know. It's been such a long time ago.
K: oyou remember people talking about his memory for names and faces, Trammell's
memory? Was he supposed to have a good one? Do you remember if he had any
hobbies of any kind, sir? Did he hunt or fish or collect stampior anything?
D: No, I don't think he did. Now, he might have, but I don't think he did.
K: He spent most of his time involved inlpolitical activittS,1
D: Yeah. I only knew him when I went to akeland. He was a lawyer then. a
K: I see. When did you leave Lakeland and lose contact with Trammell and your
D: I used to live--we lived in Lakeland in 1903, my father and my step-mother.
And then when the Jacksonville fire, the Jacq nville fire was in 1903.
D: It was long about June, I think, and we moved to Jacksonville.
D: Yeah... Jacksonville in about August or somewhere in that neighborhood.
K: So, from that time on you never lived very close to Park Trammell or to
D: Oh, no. From that time on...quite a few times I went down there and I lived
with them. Oh, I forgot now A6- 1 W~a s
K: SO you made trips...
D: h -W C S M ,I~kf I was living with them when I went to school.
K: I see. So you L'h stayad- with them in Lakeland?
K: At their home. I see. Did you ever visit them in Tallahassee after he...
D: Oh, yeah.
K: ...after he became attorney general and governor?
D: I visited them in Tallahassee when he was governor.
K: I e, in the governor's mansionY//Do you remember if they liked to entertain,
if they had big parties?
D: I think he did. Now, I'm not sure, 'cause that was all,.LAJi''
K: You were still very young at that time.
D: He was, 4yQ. C, *
K: 'kay. Do you remember if he smokeda cigar, Mr. Darby?
D: I don't think so. I don't think:- ae iu 'c -.
K: He didn't smoke.
D: In fact, I know he didn't. He didn't smoke or drink.
K: He didn't smoke.- He6didn't"drink.' Okay. -And was he a--strict Baptist?
D: Yes, sir.
K: Yes. He took his religion very seriously.
D: Ela&s ery much so.
K: Very strict. Okay. Do you remember hearing of a man named A. J. Angle, a
politician who was also an undertaker, I believe in Bartow?
D: In Bartow? Orr
K: Mr. Angle, A-n-g-l-e,/koesn't ring any bells, fkay. Was Mr. Trammell a
reserved man, or was he very enthusiastic and spirited?
D: He was very much a reserved man.
K: Quiet. I see. Did he enjoy having the family around his Y6\ _L_ *, .
D: Yes, he did.
K: He did.
D: He didn't, Park Trammell didn't have any children.
K: No, he didn't./ Do you remember what his voice was like, sir? Was it a deep...
D: E1-er t z.-r4gg -what?
K: ...his voice. Was it a deep, kind of a booming voice, or was it just an
average kind of voice?
D: /Park Trammell had a good voice/ he made a lot of speeches.
K: You've heard him give speeches?
D: I believe his was one of the f. t men-LJ E J U C-_ ever knew.
K: When he gave a speech, sir, did he like to gesticulate and emphasize things,
or was he more quiet qLS AoA kS ki -C t jY This speeches?
D: I think he emphasized things. I do remember one time when he was--somebody
accused him of having a private secretary.
K: Um, hum.
D: And I think that was in ) 0\0 V if I remember right.
I was sitting '. I forgot who the man was, but he
accused him of having a secretary that paid, that he paid him over $400 a
K: Um, hum.
D: Park Trammell answered him that night, and he told him, he said, "Yes, I have
got one. I've got a private secretary. I got a secretary." It was then about
eleven o'clock at night, and he was making a speech in Orlando. And this
gentleman was sitting right underneath him. "If you go into my home in
Tallahassee in the governor's mansion, my secretary was sending out \i C~T
S . and mailing it to you people. That secretary is my wife."
K: That was a good reply, wasn't it?
D: When he told him that, he says,"You don't have to take my word for it. You
can ask anybody around here." And when he said that he just C 0 CQ
YdQJ c diss t1_q' I0' tAUJ 0_,V A
K: Mr. Darby, do you know if Mr. Trammell had any dealings with Peter O. Knight,
the famous Tampa businessman and attorney?
D: No, I don't.
K: You don't. Okay. Would you happen to know where Mr. Trammell stayed when
he came to Tampa? Did he have a favorite hotel, or...
D: No, I don't.
K: Do you remember where Virginia and Park were married? Would it have been in
your father's home?
D: I was thinking about that the other day. I don'tAwhether they were married
in Lakeland or not.
K:They did live in Lakeland though) after they were married?
D: Oh, yeah. Park Trammell was mayor of Lakeland. He ran for mayor, for junior
senator, every office but Congress. And he didn't want that. And never was
K: Why do you think he was so successful, Mr. Darby? Was it because he was
D: Well, he was just a n honest man and a politician.
K: And the people recognized this \ \_ \ k/r
D: ~ S N' \hlU I met a man over here ..not long
ago \p c Y \
K: Um, hum.
D: And he said, "I understand you were some kin to Park Trammell." I said, "Yes,
he was my brother-in-law." "Well," he says, "I knew him. He was one of the
finest men that the Lord ever made."
K: A fine tribute after all these years.
D: He was to run against H.J. Grant in Lakeland.
K: Um, hum. Do you know if that was a friendly rivalry/or were there any hard
D: No, there wasn't any hard feelings.
K: It was just all above board and... Okay. Did you see Park Trammell after your
sister passed away in 1922, or did you kind of lose contact with the family?
Ltey et C ,O
D:/ I'm not sure.. I don't remember. I think I did, but I don't remember where.
She was buried in Lakeland, Florida Ya one of the biggest funerals Lakeland
K: Yes sir, I've read about it. It was very impressive. Speaking of your sister,
is it true that she dig play a large part in his campaigns. That she did mail
out literature and/she did help him in his political campaigns? (C is true.
D: She sure did.
K: She was a big help to him?
D: She was just about as good a politician as he was.
K: Do you have any idea how he paid for his campaigns...
D: No, I don't.
K: ...was it just money he saved, do you suppose? Okay. Did you ever meet or
hear anything about the lady that he married later, Mrs. Mesmer?
D: No, I never did meet her. I never saw her.
K: Do you remember ever hearing any stories about Senator Trammell's secretaries
in his later years trying to borrow money from people before they would let
people write to him, or get in contact with him?
D: No, I don't.
K: Okay. Back in 1916, Sidney Catts ran for governor of Florida, while Governor
Trammell was running for the Senate, and they were both running on platforms
that stressed the dangers of Catholicism in Florida. I was wondering if you
remember if Mr. Trammell felt very strongly about that, or whether it more just
a political issuethat had been raised?
D: No, I don't remember.
K: Okay. All right, there's just one more thing that I'll trouble you about, Mr.
Darby. Do you remember your father ever loaning lMr. Trammell any money for
which Trammell gave your father the deed to a house and there being any trouble
about getting the money back?
D: No, I don't.
K: Okay. Well, I think that's about all that I wanted to ask you. Just let me
explain to you what happens with this. After this recording is made, I take
it back to Gainesville, and then a copy of it is typed up and I send you that
typewritten copy of it. And then if there's anything in that that you find is
incorrect or that you would rather just strike out, you can go ahead and just
remove that. You ink it out or pencil it out. And then if you'll send it
back to me, we'll type up a final version of it. And then we send you one of
those final versions and the other one will be used for the dissertation that
I'm trying to write about Park Trammell. And eventually, that will get put
into the university library.
D: Would you like to see a picture of my sister?
K: I would indeed, yes sir, if it's not too much trouble.
D:..politician. If for, whatever you call it, adjourned like this morning, he
never stayed in Washington. He left that night and come to Florida.
K: Straight back to Florida. I see.
D: _Se my sister. And he visited everybody he knew of.
K: He went from town to town visiting people.
D: He just made his visits.
K: I see.
D: He could come out in your yard and you was working, I don't care how dirty you
were, how much sand you had in your hand, he would shake \C A> Q)
c(" ., He says, C" F. i my hand is just as dirty
as yours B-_ -- ------- He knew everybody, and
never had, never was--I don't believe I ever heard him say anything against
K: Do you think that he died with relatively little money because he was so
honest, sir? 0b "h A
D: No, I don't... I don't knowita he had anything ng
K: I see. Okay. WI3- .