ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
PARK TRAMMELL INTERVIEWS
INTERVIEWEE: J. HARDIN PETERSON
INTERVIEWER: STEVE KERBER
DATE: OCTOBER 20, 1975
Alabama, 19, 25
Alachua County, 2, 4
Alamo, 3, 4
Anderson Hall, 6
Angle, Allie J., 25-27, 49
Angle, Bayard, 26
Bartow, 23, 27, 40
Baxter, Maxwell, 7
Belle Glade, 45
Bloom, L.W., 49
Bonham, James Butler, 4
Broward, Napolean Bonaparte, 24
Brown House, 5
Bryan, William Jennings, 37
Bryant, Eva, 5
Bryant, Tom, 1
Buckman Hall, 6
Caldwell, Millard, 31, 32
Carr, George, 49-51
Catts, Sidney, 24, 25
Chiles, Lawton, 23
Clark, Frank, 23
Click, David, 44-47
Coast Line, 5
Coogle, George, 51
Crandall, Professor, 7
Drane Field, 52
Drane, Herbert, 23, 52
Dwiggins, Charles, 49
Eagle Lake, 9
Engineering Building, 6
Farrior, Rex, 34
Ferris, Josiah, 44, 45-47
Fletcher, Duncan, 27-31
Fort Lauderdale, 7
Fort Myers, 22, 42
Geiger, Willa E., 3
Georgia, 4, 17, 32
Grady, Henry, 17, 18
Gray, Bob, 44
Green, Lex, 23, 31, 32
Grey Locks, 40
Haines City, 27
Hallam Colony, 50
Hallam, Willard, 50, 51
Harris, William, G., 33
Hetherington, M. F., 1
Highland Park, 9
Hill, Will, 29, 30
Hillcrest Heights, 9
Hillsborough County, 37
History of Polk County, 1
Holland, Spessard, 15, 23
Knight, Peter, Jr., 21
Knight, Peter 0., 21, 22, 34, 35
Lake Hollinsworth, 40
Lake Wales, 9
Lake Weir, 19
Lakeland, 1, 3, 4, 8-12, 20-23, 27, 29, 31, 42, 47, 49, 50-52
Lakeland High School, 4
Lakeland Highlands Cooperative, 26
Lakeland Public Library, 51
Language Hall, 6
Law Department (University of Florida), 6
Law Library, 6
Lee, Colonel, 42
McCall, Amos, 5
MacDill Field, 30
McKay, David Brennan, 34, 35
McKay, Kenneth, 35
Marshall, Tom, 50
Maynard, Leslie, 5
Memminger, C. G., 52
Naval Affairs Committee, 11, 14, 45
New Deal, 11
New South, 17
Padgett, Ed, 39
Padgett, family, 38, 39
Pallard, Lucy, 5
Park Family, 19
Park, R. 0., 18, 19
Pepper, Claude, 37
Peterson, J. Hardin:
family background, 2-4
Peterson, Newton F., 2
Polk County, 9, 19, 27, 26
Rawls, Dudley, 51
Reformed Swiss Church, 3
Roberson, Justine, 39
Roosevelt, Franklin, 30
Russell, Richard "Dick", 32, 33
Sarasota, 7, 17, 45
Sears, Congressman, 31, 32
Sholtz, David, 33, 34
South Carolina, 2, 24
Stevens, Minor, 40
Tallahassee, 10, 12, 20, 44
Tampa, 21, 22, 26, 27, 30, 34, 37
Tampa Electric Company, 22
Tampa Machine, 36-38
Tampa, port, 26
Tennessee, 7, 49
Trammell, Beatrice Mesmer, 12, 13, 38-40
Trammell, Carl, 20
Trammell, Charlie, 20
Trammell, Clyde, 20
Trammell, Emma, 43
Trammell, John, 18
attorney general, 11
campaign expenses, 41
death, 28, 33, 41
economic views, 18, 24
election of 1934, 37
financial status, 47-48
law practice, 21, 43-44
marriage to Beatrice, 39-40
memorial service, 47
oratorial ability, 22
pallbearers, 33, 49-51
personal appearance, 13, 15, 16
personal habits, 18
personality, 13-17, 31
political assets, 23
political views, 24
relations with Fletcher, 29-31
relations with Knight, 21
reputation, 27, 28
Tampa Machine, 37, 38
Trammell Library, 51-52
wife's death (Virginia), 31
mentioned, 1, 21, 26, 27, 32, 33, 45, 46
Trammell, Rip, 19
Trammell, Ruth, 43
Trammell, Virginia, 20, 31
Trammell, Wilson, 43
Trammell, Worth, 43
Travis, William Barret, 3, 4
University of Florida, 5, 7
Washington, D.C., 7, 12, 20, 27, 31, 34, 44, 46
Whitaker, Pat, 34
Wilcox, Congressman, 31, 32
Winn, Kate, 5
World War I, 8
K: Today is Monday, October 20, 1975. My name is Steve Kerber
and I'm in Lakeland, Florida, and I'm going to interview
former Florida Congressman J. Hardin Peterson about Park
P: We were pretty busy on our side and he was pretty busy on
K: I'm sure.
P: ...and so, I always liked him. Now, in Hetherington's History
of Polk County, have you seen that?
K: Yes,sir, I have glanced through that.
P: You have one?
K: Yes, sir. There is one at the university.
P: Alright. It has the reference to him and it tells more about
him. And I phoned his sister-in-law, but she didn't know much
about him. Now Tom Bryant here is a little older than I was,
and he was raised here.
K: Yes, sir.
P: And he may know.... You've got sketches, got out of this...
Congressional biographical sketches, you've got that?
K: Yes, sir, I do. I appreciate your mentioning that.
P: That's alright. We were trying....
K: Yes, I understood from your letter, sir, that you didn't feel
you knew him all that well personally, but I'm just as inter-
ested in things that you might have heard about him, either
in Florida or in Washington.
P: Yes, alright.
K: And so what I'd like to do, if it's alright with you (it's
kind of funny cross-examining an attorney), but I have a few
questions that I'd like to go through and get your responses
to. And if at any time you have something you want to inter-
ject or change just feel free to do so.
P: Yes, alright.
K: What will happen is that after I talk with you and do this
tape, it'll be typed up and I'll send it back to you.
P: Good, alright.
K: And if there's anything that you put in now that you care to
delete later, that's fine with me and we can strike it out
and that'll be the end of it. Alright, I'd like to begin by
asking you just a little bit about yourself. Would you give
me your full name?
P: James Hardin Peterson.
K: That's H-a-r-d-i-n?
P: Yeah, H-a-r-d-i-n.
K: And when and where were you born?
P: I was born in Batesburg, South Carolina, February 11, 1894.
K: I see. And what was your father's name?
P: Newton F. Peterson.
K: And what did he do? Was he an attorney or a farmer or...?
P: No, he was a saw mill man at that time. And then later he
came to Florida and worked in the phosphate business in
K: Oh, I see.
P: And then we...in those days we said "mined out" when the mine
and the company had certain land and they mined the deposits,
sometimes they went out of business. And so dad then went to
railroading. And he was a conductor until he quit along about,
oh, a few years after I graduated from the university.
K: So do you remember what time then, what year roughly you
would have come to Lakeland?
P: Yes, I came in 1903.
P: In 1903.
K: I see. And what was your mother's name?
P: Willa E. Geiger. G-e-i-g-e-r.
K: And was she also a native South Carolinian?
P: She was a native South Carolinian. She was from an old family.
Dad and mother both were from old families. My, on my mother's
side they, my first American ancestor was Swiss. They came
over at the time of the Reformation and the Lutherans and
the Reformed Swiss Church came over and they settled in the
Carolinas. And you are not particularly interested in this
but as kind of a historical note one of my cousins still oc-
cupies the land they got as a land grant in 1737.
K: That's remarkable!
P: And it has been continuously in residence and owned by the
oldest son descendants since 1737.
K: That's fantastic. That must be a very unique kind of thing.
P: Yes. And from dad's people came over with the Scots, and
settled in the Carolinas and they were old families. Three
of my great-grand--wait a minute--a great-grandfather and
two of his brothers were Baptist preachers.
K: I see.
P: And my own grand--my great-grandfather--baptized William
Barret Travis who was killed at the Alamo.
K: Really? Colonel Travis?
P: Yes, he baptized Travis. And Travis and [James Butler] Bonham,
who was killed also at the Alamo, were both members of his
church. There's a lot of history in South Carolina.
K: Yes, there certainly is. So your family then moved down here
P: Yes, 1903 to Lakeland. We moved down to Alachua County in
about 1896. I was about two years old in 1896, and then grand-
dad got sick and dad went back in 1900 to help him wind up
his business affairs. He had a store in Augusta, Georgia,
and we lived in Augusta two years and then we came back to
K: I see. Do you remember where you lived in, as far as the
street or anything? Did they have street names back then?
Where you originally lived in Lakeland, sir?
P: Yes, I lived in...for a short time out in the north, northeast
section. But that was only two or three months. Then we
moved over on New York Avenue and we stayed there about, oh,
a couple of years, and then we moved up to Missouri Avenue--
all right close in, now. And then we moved out and we bought
a place out on the north side of town. Bought, well about
two acres of land out there. Dad thought the kids ought to
have some room to.... So, then as we grew up, we came right
in close to town, right next to the Lakeland High School.
And we bought a lot from the mayor and we built a bigger house
and as our fortune got a little bit better we built a little
bit bigger house. But dad always thought we ought to own our
own home. So that was about the first thing he was looking
for was a home.
K: I see. So you went to grade school and high school then in
P: High school, grade and high school.
K: Both of them.
P: I graduated in high school here in 1911.
P: Yes, there was only five in the class.
K: Do you remember who the other people were?
P: I was the only boy. The girls were Eva Bryant, Kate Winn,
Leslie Maynard and Lucy Pallard.
K: Oh, there were four girls and one boy.
P: One boy and four girls.
K: That's a nice situation to be in. Then did you go off to col-
P: I went to, well, I went to work for the railroad company.
K: I see.
P: And worked there at the railroad company all one summer and
then a year. About a year and a half. And then I went to
K: To the university?
P: Yes, and I was there, I graduated then in 1914. I'll tell you
a little funny story. The stock claim agent of the Coast
Line said that I went to law school because Amos McCall's...
the Coast Line killed one of Amos McCall's bulls. The way
it happened was actually this. The stock claim agent was
getting nearly blind and I was working upstairs in the super-
intendent's office and late in the evening I'd go by and
help him make up his reports. And we, he was quite fond of
me and I was quite fond of him, and Amos McCall had some cows
down here at Wauchula. And in those days the railroad com-
pany had to pay double the value of the cow when they...when
the railroad's right-of-way wasn't fenced. It was a double
K: For killing the cow.
P: And so the stock claim agent.,.they were always killing cows,
but it was cheaper to pay for them than it was to fence. And
he went down there and he came back and said Amos McCall had
just bought a hotel in Gainesville, and he wants boys to work
for their board and lodging. And if you'll get in touch with
him, he'll give you a job there probably, I got in touch with
him, and I got a job clerking at the old Brown House, Now
the Brown House is torn down now. Let's see, you're at
Gainesville, aren't you?
K: Yes, sir, I sure am.
P: Well, it used to be right across the street from the railroad
station where the railroad, where the tracks ran right down
the street right next to the park. And it's a block...a block
east of University Avenue and the park. I don't know where
the park in now...where the courthouse square is there is a
K: Yes, I know where you mean. So you didn't live on campus
then, you lived....
P: I didn't live on the campus. I lived out in the...had the
board and lodging at the hotel and the last three months
work was too heavy for me to carry the work, and then I
boarded with another student.
K: Do you remember if there were more than two buildings at the
time, sir? I think there was Buckman Hall and there was
Language Hall? But I'm not sure if there were more.
P: There were two buildings...let's see. I think the Engineering
Building may have been built then, but they had one little
building was the Law Department and the Law Library. And
there was Buckman Hall and...there were two halls.
K: Language Hall? Would that have been the other one? Now
it's called Anderson Hall.
P: Yes. I'm not quite sure. I think the Engineering Building...
they had a small Engineering building, but I'm not sure. I
K: That's alright. Then during those four years you were study-
ing law as an undergraduate, the law school wasn't considered....
P: Well, I only went there only two years.
P: I studied a few subjects that I thought would help me in law.
I took logic, psychology, and English. And I took
mathematics because I liked it, and then I took my law. And
I took all those simultaneously, but I had the classes when
there wasn't law classes, I attended the others. But I con-
centrated on my law mostly.
K: When you finished, sir, did you then have a law degree?
P: I had a LL.D. degree when I finished, and I finished before
I was twenty-one. And I had to get a court order to allow
me to practice.
K: I see.
P: I had to get the court to remove my disabilities of non-age.
I was just a little over twenty when I graduated.
K: Did you have to take a bar exam?
P: No, you didn't have to take a bar exam in those days. A
graduate of the University of Florida was admitted on his
P: Yeah, automatically.
K: So then did you come back here to practice?
P: I came back here and started into practice and practiced a
few months and I had...during the time I was at law school
Professor Crandall said, "Mr. Peterson, they won't give a
young lawyer much business to start on. And when I was a
young man, I took a land clerk exam. And it was a wonderful
experience, and so I'd advise you to try to get with a bigger
firm or take one of those exams, or a similar exam." But we
got interested. We went down to the post office and lo and
behold they was going to give a land law clerk exam in about
two months. Well, Maxwell Baxter, who later practiced at
Sarasota and then at Fort Lauderdale, and I went down there
and got the data about the examination and we took it, And
we told some of the other boys about it and several of them
took it too. But Maxwell and I boned up on it and we both
passed the exam. And Maxwell was registered in Tennessee,
and he was on the Tennessee register and I was on the Florida
register and I was the only man on the Florida register, so
I got an appointment pretty soon after I took the exam. And
I went to Washington then, and it was a good experience, And
the people were absolutely royal--treated me royally. It
wasn't much like a government clerk. As a matter of fact when
I went to the...I didn't report to the chief of the division;
I reported to the assistant secretary of the interior.
P: And then he sent a messenger around for the director of the
general land office, and he came around and made a great im-
pression on me as a cracker kid. And the director came in
and said, "Mr. Peterson, I'm to have the pleasure of having
you in my division."
K: Well, that was anice way to put it.
P: Right. Well, I stayed there and I told them frankly I was
there for experience, and so they assigned me to different...
anybody taking vacation, they assigned me around there and
I got a wonderful experience. And I made friends that have
lasted all my life. One of the boys that I worked with was
the vice-president of an insurance company and all that,
but it was a happy experience.
K: A wonderful experience.
P: I'm boring you too much....
K: No, sir, not at all. I'm interested in anything you have to
say. So that would have been, then, in 1913 or '15?
P: That was in the latter part of '14 and early part of '15.
K: Oh, '14.
P: Yes, and I came back--I was up there a little more than six
months--I came back in '15. And then I started practicing
law continuously until the first world war.
K: In Lakeland?
P: Yeah, in Lakeland.
K: From 1915....
P: Yes. And then when the first world war...in about a year, my
practice picked up real good. And I was...became city attor-
ney and director of a little bank they organized and I was
doing real well, and then when the world war came, I went
into service and then I came back and started to practice
again. So we...but from 1914 on, I know pretty well as to
what happened. Of course, back of there was kid days and I
kind of hazy....
K: You weren't all that interested. So after the war, sir, then
when did you pick up your political career again? You said
you had been city attorney here in Lakeland.
P: Yes, after the war was over they had already appointed a city
attorney for that year. That was the early part of '19.
And then in '20, they appointed me city attorney again. And
I stayed in as city attorney until I resigned to go to
Congress, and I resigned in the latter part of '32.
K: And then you went back to Washington as a Congressman.
P: Yes. But I was county solicitor and prosecuting attorney in
Polk County also. And there weren't so many lawyers in
those days and by reason of my being city attorney in
Lakeland, and I was handling bond issues and knew the proceed-
ings pretty well, they hired me in all these little towns
K: To do the same type of work?
P: Yes. I was Lake Wales...city attorney, Lake Wales, city at-
torney, Frostproof, city attorney at Eagle Lake, city attor-
ney at Hillcrest Heights, city attorney at Highland Park. I
represented nine towns.
K: Most of Polk County, I imagine.
P: Yes, at Polk County. Yes.
K: So then when did you leave the House of Representatives and
did you come back...
P: I left....
K: ...and resume your practice then?
P: Yes, my term was out, January the third, 1951, I served a
little less than eighteen years. It was nine terms. But when
we, when I went in, we went in on March 4th, and when they
amended the Constitution they, they go in in January.
K: Yes, sir.
P: And so I, I served eighteen years, less than January to March.
K: Short month. [Mr. Peterson's secretary entered for a moment.]
P: Yes. I thought they had....Good, that's right. Fine. Thank
K: Okay, let me shift a little bit, Mr. Peterson, and ask you if
you remember when you first met Park Trammell personally.
P: No, I don't remember. We, we all knew him. He'd go up there
and down the streets of Lakeland...
K: As a fellow citizen, right?
P: ...when he was home. And we all knew him and I went to school
with two of his sisters.
K: I see.
P: And we just took him for granted. He was homefolk.
K: He was always...
P: Yes, so I...
K: ...well-known as you were growing up.
P: ...I didn't see him so often.
K: But you would have known of him since at least you were a high
P: Yes, in the high school and he would speak at the high school
and I was there, he dedicated the Confederate monument in the
park and I was there at the time and heard him speak and all
K: I see.
P: And, but when I first, first saw him it's hard to fix because
he would come home and visit.
P: But he was in Tallahassee most of the time when I was older
because he was attorney general and governor.
K: Yes. He would have been there as attorney general from what,
1909 to 1913.
P: Let's see, I've got....
K: Then he was in there as governor from '13 till '17.
P: Yes, I can find it right here.
K: So during those years he did come back...
P: Yes, he came back from time to time and...
K: ...to Lakeland?
P: ...he'd always have a crowd around him. He was a good mixer.
One of the best mixers I've ever seen and....
K: Would he be likely to be here most of the time when the
legislature was not in session, or was it more infrequent?
P: At the time that he was elected senator, the legislature
was pretty well in session most of the time.
K: I see.
P: He didn't get to be back home much.
K: So just occasionally?
P: And especially after I was elected to Congress, we were home
very little of the time.
P: Because that was in the Depression years.
K: Early days of the New Deal and so on?
P: He was also chairman of the Naval Affairs committee....
K: Yes, sir.
P: ...for a time.
P: But he'd come down and go through his district as often as
P: Let's see...oh, these dates have....
K: Well, he would have been away as far as you're concerned
when you were growing up from 1909...
P: When I was growing up he was away because he was attorney
general and then governor....
K: ...all the way till 1917 in Tallahassee...
P: And...yes, and he was up...
K: ...and then afterwards in Washington.
P: ...up there nearly all of the time except occasionally on
weekends he'd come home.
K: How would you characterize then your relationship with him,
sir? Were you more just acquaintances than real personal
P: Well, he was, my relationship when he was originally in
Lakeland and I was a boy, was just casual.
P: We'd see him and we knew who he was and he was older than I
P: But after we had gone up to Washington it was, it was cordial.
He was real helpful to me and he, he was of course on his side
[the Senate]. He was busy. But when we, occasionally we had
bills together and he was cooperative and the, and he invited
me out to dinner a couple of times. And, when my wife's father
died, he and Mrs. Trammell both came to the hotel where we
were, and I have always thought that was gracious of them.
P: She, we had two small children then, and Mrs. Trammell said,
"I'll stay here at the hotel with your children or I'll take
the children out to my house..."
K: That was really nice, wasn't it?
P: "...while you go down to see your father."
K: That would have been the second Mrs. Trammell. Right.
P: The second Mrs. Trammell.
K: Right, so you have talked at length with him personally.
P: Oh, yes, I...
K: The two of you.
P: ...I used to go over and we would sit together and chat a
while and yes,I've talked...when I was in Congress I talked
K: What kind of conversationalist was he, sir? Was he witty or
was he just kind of normal homefolks?
P: He was normal homefolks. He wasn't especially witty. He was,
but he had, he was a handsome man.
P: I considered him a handsome man, and in addition to that he
K: He was?
P: Yes, he made you feel at home.
K: He made you feel that he was interested in you?
P: Yes, and he was, he was supposed...I'll shut that door because...
K: All right, thank you.
P: ...and he was a good mixer and he was a good voter getter.
P: Now this is the part where a lot of the people judge him,
most of the people think of him purely as a politician and a
back-slapping, handshaking politician, and that his greeting
them was usually politics. But I, that's where I don't feel
that way. I think he was warm. He was, by nature, was
friendly, and he had more ability than the average one gave
him credit for.
K: So it was his...
K: ...natural personality?
K: It wasn't just something that he assumed in order to be
P: No, it wasn't make-believe. I believe that he was sincere.
And they thought of him as mostly the politician, not as a
worker. But when he came to the test, when he became chair-
man of this Naval Affairs committee, he took over and he was
a good chairman.
K: He did, he was a strong person?
P: He was. He got his bills through.
K: He did?
K: How did he do that, sir? Did he work, do you know if he
worked through the Democratic leadership, or was it personal
popularity among his colleagues?
P: Well, in those days mostly anything sponsored by the Democratic
leadership would go through.
K: With a very large majority...
K: ...at that time there wasn't
P: And so, but I did want to make that point because I didn't
consider him just a politician. He was an able and he was
a warm man. Now....
K: Do you feel he was an intelligent man?
P: I feel he was intelligent and a man and, and was more in-
telligent than ordinarily people thought he was, and they....
K: People would be thrown off by his easy manner, then...?
K: Sort of under-rate him?
P: Yes, they just said, they thought of him--I like Park--and
that's all there was to it. Then....
K: But he had something upstairs, too?
P: Yes, he had something up there. He was bound to have, to go
right up. He was elected everytime he ran.
K: One would think so.
P: Other than Spessard Holland, I think he was about the only
governor in recent years that got to the Senate. That was
K: It was the graveyard for political ambition.
P: Yes, that's right.
K: Tell me a little bit more about what he looked like, sir.
Was he a thin man or a heavy-set man?
P: No, he wasn't. He was kind of reasonably well-built and had,
his hair was curly and he let it grow a little bit longer
than the average person did.
K: I see.
P: He, it went down...
K: In the back?
P: ...towards the back and little curls left in back.
K: I see.
P: But I considered him a handsome man.
K: Yes, I've read that in many, many newspaper articles.
P: Yes, yes.
K: And he was kind of stockily-built would you say?
P: Yes, he was well-proportioned, though. Yes.
K: How tall would you say he was, sir, just roughly?
P: I don't know, but he was about my height I'd say.
K: I see, 5'10", 5'11"?
P: I'm 5'9".
K: Okay, 5'10". Did he have a sense of humor, Mr. Peterson?
P: Did he...?
K: Did he have a sense of humor? Did he appreciate a good joke
or a good story?
P: Yes, I think he did. He didn't, wasn't, he didn't joke much,
K: He didn't.
P: ...he was, he had a reasonably good sense of humor.
K: But he was more of a quiet man.
P: He wasn't, wasn't cracking jokes all of the time.
K: I see.
P: But he....
K: He wasn't a storyteller then?
P: No, the, I'll tell you a little story that illustrates this
thing. The, he was remarkable for knowing people, and they
said if he met you a year, he'd know you a year later and all
that. Well, they tell the story that he was campaigning over
at Sarasota and a man came in and said, "Well, and how are
you Brother so-and-so?" And he said, "How are you getting
along?" He said, "Fine." He said, "I see you're still riding
the same old grey mule." And so some of them said to him,
"Senator, how did you know he was riding that grey mule?"
He said, "I looked at his britches and saw grey mule hairs on
them." They told that on him, he didn't deny it. He'd smile
and joke about it.
K: So his memory is not misrepresented then?
P: No, no.
K: He did have this remarkable memory...
P: It was remarkable.
K: ...for names and faces?
P: He had a photographic memory.
K: Would that apply to things he read as well as to people he met?
P: I think, yes, I think it would.
K: It did.
P: Because I know now, the, at the time when he made one of the
speeches in the park, he was a great admirer of Henry Grady.
K: Was he?
P: Yes, and he quoted from Henry Grady's speech at Elberton,
Georgia, and his New South several times, and sometimes,
though, in quoting those, he failed to tell them where the
quotes began and one of the newspapers--I've forgotten what
it was--had a charge of plagiarism. But he replied just,
"Anybody taking, paid enough attention should have known."
But he was a great admirer of Grady. Grady was this great
K: Yes, sir, he was. Did Mr. Trammell then favor economic pro-
gress and industrialization in the South to a great extent?
Was he interested in this for Florida?
P: I never heard him express himself, never searched the record
on that, but I would say he did because we all....
K: Just in the context of Grady?
P: Yes, we all favored, we did, we wouldn't have favored as
much now maybe.
P: Because it has been helpful but it spoils us.
K: It's been overdone especially in the South.
P: That's right.
K: Did he drink or smoke, sir?
P: I don't know. I never, I never seen him do either, and if
he did drink he didn't drink to excess. I never saw any in-
dication of it.
K: Was he an articulate man? Did he, for instance, quote the
Bible frequently in his talks or his everyday language?
P: I don't remember if he quoted now.
P: But he made a good speech. He was a good speaker.
K: Do you remember if you knew his father, John Trammell?
P: I knew of him, but I didn't know him. I knew...
K: You would have been a very young fellow.
P: ...I knew two sisters. I knew his brothers casually and I knew
his uncle, Park, R.O. Park. He was a very good friend of mine
and he ran a little fish market here.
K: Did he?
P: His mother's people were Park. He was named after his mother's
K: Did his mother's people then live here before the Trammells
did, would you happen to know?
P: When I first knew him, R.O. Park was running the fish market
and, but I think they came from Alabama. I'm not sure. That
K: I know the Trammells did. I'm not sure...
K: ...about the Parks. But, well, his father was an influential
Democratic politician. He twice represented Polk County in
the legislature and then from 1893 to 1901, he was superin-
tendent of the hospital at Chattahoochee. Given the fact that
he was holding a very important patronage job...
K: ...would the father have been able to get the son into poli-
tics, do you think, or do you remember if that was the case?
P: I don't remember that frankly. I don't, I know the father's
name and I've seen it in the histories and references to him,
but I didn't know him. I knew his...
K: It's unimportant.
P: ...uncle here on his father's side, Uncle Rip Trammell we
K: I see.
P: He was his father's brother and he was a locomotive engineer.
K: Was he?
K: He worked for the railroad also?
P: Lived right over in Lake Weir over here and he had some fine
children and let's see, he had two sons, at least three sons,
Carl and Clyde and Charlie. He had three sons, and Charlie
was elected county judge when he was quite a youngster and
later Charlie went to Washington and Park helped him.
Charlie, Charlie became a judge of the tax court in Washington.
K: Through Park's influence?
P: Yes, yes, it's through Park's help. But Charlie was elected
county judge on his own.
P: He was quite a young man.
K: We would have had the qualifications?
P: Yes, yes.
K: He just helped him as a senator? Okay, do you possibly re-
member where Park and his first wife, Virginia, lived in
Lakeland? Any idea?
P: No, I don't. I don't know because they were living in...
K: In the mansion in Tallahassee.
P: ...in the mansion when I first knew about it.
P: And I don't remember ever seeing her. But they said she was
a beautiful woman, but I never, I don't remember ever seeing
K: I have heard that Virginia was a very astute woman politically.
Is that, would that be in accord with anything that you have
P: I had the general idea she was a very astute woman. But I....
K: Helpful in meeting people?
P: Yes, and someone who told me she was beautiful, but I don't
remember ever seeing her.
K: You didn't ever meet her yourself? Okay. This is a very long
K: ...but do you know if he ever or did you ever hear if Park
Trammell ever worked in a store in Lakeland or in Tampa as
a young man?
P: I don't know that he did, but I don't doubt it. I don't
K: Or as a traveling salesman? Did you ever hear of that?
P: No, I don't know ever did.
K: Okay, Mr. Peterson, I think sometime around 1900 Park Trammell
was in Tampa and I believe that he clerked or he worked in
some capacity in the law offices of Peter O. Knight. Does
that ring a bell to you? Do you know if that's true?
P: No, it doesn't. Of course, he was already...
K: Still very young.
P: ...a lawyer when I first knew him. But I, it wouldn't sur-
K: Do you know if he....
P: Now Peter 0. Knight's son is still living.
K: Yes, Peter Knight,Jr.
P: Young Peter is living.
K: Do you, do you know if they ever had a relationship later on?
Mr. Knight supported Trammell, I know, in the 20s and 30s,
P: I don't know what the relationship was...
K: Would you be familiar with that?
P: ...but Peter O. Knight was a political power in those days.
K: Very influential.
P: Yes, yes. He was quite active. Peter 0. Knight had originally
come from Fort Myers.
P: Practiced in Lakeland, I mean in Tampa, and became head of
a big firm in Tampa and was general counsel for the Tampa
Electric Company and all, and he was a power in politics.
K: So if it was true that Trammell did start out, say, as a
clerk in his office, that would have been a very signifi-
cant place for a young attorney to...
K: ...begin a career?
P: Yes, it would.
K: Did you, you say that you saw Mr. Trammell speak publicly.
What was his style of speaking? Did he gesture a lot and
wave his hands around or was he stationary, do you remember?
P: I don't remember gesturing, occasionally to emphasize. Some
but not unduly amount, it wasn't noticeable.
K: Do you remember what his voice was like? Was it very deep
and resonant or was it just an average kind of voice?
P: I don't exactly recall, except I do know it was distinctive
and why, as he got more enthused I think the pitch of it
K: I see.
P: ...and became more resonant. But I considered him a good
speaker. I wouldn't consider him an outstanding orator, but
he was a better than average speaker.
K: But more of a calm and reasoned speaker...
P: Yes, that, that is...
K: ...than a shouter?
P: ...yes, yes.
K: What do you think his greatest vote-getting asset was?
Was it the fact that he could say hello to somebody on the
street after two years?
P: I think it was. The greatest vote-getting asset was the fact
that he remembered people, and was able to shake hands with
them. He made the people believe he was glad to see them and
I think he actually was, because he always would take up time
with them a little bit.
K: So that would make them feel that he knew them...
K: ...and he knew their problems....
K: ...and was considerate of them?
P: I think that is because he was a master mixer and they tell
all kinds of stories about him. They told about me, too, and
some of the ones they used to tell on me they told on him
twenty years earlier.
K: Sir, do you have any idea why in the early years of this cen-
tury there were so many influential political figures coming
out of this area, coming out of Lakeland? Mr. Trammell and
Mr. Drane and people like this?
P: I don't know. I studied on that a while back, because it's
been remarkable somewhat because, we have produced Trammell,
Spessard Holland, now Lawton Chiles, and we...Herbert Drane,
the man who I succeeded, was in Congress several years. And
then I was in Congress, and while this is not generally
known, but Frank Clark, whom Lex Green defeated, practiced law
at Bartow and was city attorney and was buried at Bartow.
And so they had three congressmen and three senators.
K: A remarkable record.
P: But I think it was a reasonably large county, it was a res-
pected county, law enforcement, and there wasn't any scandals
down here, and I think it was midway between the real big
counties and the little counties, and the people kind of re-
spected the county and the persons that come from it started
off with a good endorsement.
K: So that the first man had a good reputation...
P: Yes, that's right.
K: ...and then the next one came along and things just built
P: But there's certain counties produced the men that were
elected to office. I know, for instance, my father and
mother's home county in South Carolina, they have produced
more governors from that one county than any other county
in the United States.
P: There's nine governors had been elected from that home county.
K: Remarkable. Mr. Peterson, in 1912 and again in 1916, Park
Trammell in several speeches claimed to be following in the
footsteps of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward as an anti-corporation
type of candidate. Do you remember if that would be an ac-
curate way to describe him at that time or if people perceived
him in that way?
P: I don't recall much about it.
K: It's just too early. Okay. While he lived in Tallahassee he
and his wife were very strict church-going Baptists...
K: ...and in 1916 when he ran for the Senate, Sidney Catts was
running for governor and he won and what I'm wondering is if
Mr. Trammell and Mr. Catts to your knowledge had any kind of
understanding or cooperative effort going in 1916?
P: No, I don't think so.
K: Just.... You don't think so?
P: I knew Catts too.
K: What's your impression of Catts?
P: Catts was an opportunist.
K: Was he?
P: I think he was.
K: Do you feel that he was completely sane?
P: Do which?
K: Do you feel he was completely sane, Mr. Catts, or did he get
a little off the deep-end at times?
P: I think he got off the little deep-end at times.
K: In his rabid anti-Catholicism, or in....
P: Yes, that's what elected him. See, Catts was elected gover-
nor before he was legally qualified.
K: Before he was a Florida citizen, right.
P: Yes, he, when he took the oath of office he was qualified, but
when he was elected he hadn't been in the state long enough.
P: But I, Catts in my opinion, he doesn't rank high.
K: I see. You might be interested to know that there's a man
at a small college in Alabama who has written a biography of
P: Oh, yes.
K: That will be out within a year or so.
P: Yes, yes.
K: You might find that interesting. Do you remember a man
named Allie Angle, A.J. Angle?
P: I knew him quite well.
K: He was a representative...
K: ...I think from Polk County.
K: Then I think he was also a collector...
P: Yes. U.S. collector of customs.
K: ...at the Tampa port, a collector.
P: I knew him and his son is still living and he's just retired
as a collector of customs,of course. His son succeeded him.
K: In Tampa?
P: I don't whether he succeeded him, but he had the same job his
K: Later held the same position?
P: And his son is president of the Lakeland Highlands Cooperative
and I'm their attorney, so I see his son about once a month.
K: What's his first name, sir?
P: Bayard, B-a-y-a-r-d.
K: I see. Do you know if the father was an adviser to Mr.
Trammell or a confidant of some sort?
P: Yes, I think he was. He rather close to him and I expect that
he advised him and he was active in his political campaign.
K: He was.
K: Can you tell me something aboutihim? His personality or his...
was he as bright a man as Mr. Trammell?
P: I knew him quite a bit and I liked him, but I don't know
generally, I see him when he's in group meetings and we, when
I was where he was we'd meet and shake hands and it's like a
lot of friends you take for granted.
P: You don't know what they're doing or anything.
P: But I do know that he was loyal to Park. One of his closest
K: He was?
K: Then he was definitely a supporter of him.
P: Yes, and the, and I think he stood well with Fletcher.
But I knew him and his son.
K: Would he have been a Lakelander do you remember? A native
Lakelander or just a native of Polk County? I know he served
in the legislature from Polk County.
P: Yes, I think he lived towards Haines City. I don't know
whether he was a native or not but he lived here a long
K: I see.
P: Up that way. I'm not, not sure. There were two families
of the Angles and one was a Democrat and the other was
Republican up there. Allie was the Democrat. And I
think that he lived at Haines City and maybe later at Bartow.
K: I see.
P: And then later he was at Tampa.
K: Could you tell me what Mr. Trammell's reputation was in
Washington when you first got there as a congressman?
Do you remember what people said about him? The other
congressmen might have told you about his effectiveness
as a senator or just anything that comes to mind?
P: No, I don't. At the last campaign before, they had a lot
of, there was, I don't whether it was papers or passed
word of mouth, but they made fun of him because he
slept in his office. They said he slept in his office,
and some of them tried to make out that he was doing that
to save money and all. But someone remarked about that
after. I went up there and Trammell said he did sleep
in his office once at night. He'd worked late, was tired,
and he went to sleep on the couch. But as far as living
in his office, he didn't. But, but all the senators I
saw, they liked him. But I, it's hard to evaluate because,
you know, when you're in the House you stick it on your side
P: And when you go over to the Senate you, if you're interested
in the bill you go over and see your own senators and say,
"Well, it has passed the House. It was done by number so-
and-so and you watch out for it."
P: And we, I was there...see, Fletcher and Trammell both died
about the same time, not very far apart.
K: Yes sir, Senator Fletcher died about three or four months later.
P: Yes, yes.
K: Maybe not even that long.
P: And I was a young congressman and I was, and there was night
sessions. We'd pass some bills and then we'd walk to alert
the senators that they passed so they'd catch it when it
came over there. And some of those night sessions I
wore myself out walking all the way back after...let me get
this exact dates.
K: All right. I think Mr, Trammell died in early May and I
think Fletcher may have died in June or July,
P: Yes, Trammell, I mean Fletcher was slated to die before
Trammell because he was old and been sick and,.,,
K: Yes, Mr. Trammell was only sixty years old,
P: Yes, he was...let's see, he died May 8, 1936,
P: See, I'd....
K: Fletcher was....
P: I had served one term...
P: ...and about a half of another term when he died.
K: Sir, speaking of....
P: See, he was mayor of Lakeland in 1899. He was there....
K: About '99 to 1903, I think.
P: Yes, that was, he was mayor of Lakeland when I moved here,
K: Sir, speaking of Senator Fletcher, could you compare the
two a little bit for me? Was Senator Fletcher a harder
worker, or was he any smarter?
P: Yes, I think he was smarter.
K: You think so?
P: I think he was a deeper man,
an unusually good secretary.
I think. But, and Fletcher had
K: Mr. Hill?
P: Will Hill.
K: Yes, sir.
P: He was a classmate of mine.
K: Was he?
P: But he was the oldest man in the class, and I was next to
K: I see.
P: Hill was grown and had children when
and he became Fletcher's secretary.
they gave him an interim appointment
he went to law school,
And when Fletcher died
as senator a little
while so he would have the honor of being a senator, but
Fletcher was unusually able,
K: He knew a good deal about banking, didn't he?
P: He knew a lot about banking. He really deserved the credit
for the farm credit acts and the various banking reform
acts and he was a good worker, a hard worker. I'll tell
you one story about how we were trying to get MacDill Field
K: Right, in Tampa.
P: And Senator Fletcher had promised to help to get MacDill
Field although other places in the state wanted it, but he'd
committed himself. And we had an appointment with the
secretary of war one morning and I went over to Fletcher's
office and Fletcher was to go with me, and it just was
snowing, just pouring down snow. And I said, "Senator, it's
snowing outside. It's snowing real bad, and if you'll just
call the secretary of war and evidence your interest, I
won't expect you to go out in the snow." He said, "No,
I'm going. I'm going to get, I'm going with you." So he
got his overcoat and he went right on in that snow.
K: So he was a well-resp?...
P: And that always impressed me.
K: He was a well-respected senator?
P: Was highly respected.
K: Even with Franklin Roosevelt?
P: Yes, yes.
K: Do you have any idea what the relations between Trammell
and Fletcher were personally?
P: No, I don't. On the surface they were friendly.
K: They got along all right?
P: Yes, they did. They, they got along all right so far...and
I never saw any indication of discord.
K: Sir, there was an article in Time Magazine in 1929, which
I don't know whether it was politically motivated or what-
not, but it claimed that Senator Trammell in a way presented
two different faces. One to the Florida voter and another
when he was in Washington. It said that he, being a lonely
man since his wife died in 1922, this would have been in
K: ...the article was, that he liked to visit nightclubs and
he liked to party and things like this. Does that fit in
at all with what you knew about him?
P: I didn't hear anything or know anything about that and when
the, we went out one time to have, he asked us out to dinner
and it was out in the country where they had, they fixed
a dinner in a large, like a club, and they served drinks
around, but I know he did not partake any drink there.
K: He did not.
P: He, it may have been because he knew I didn't drink, but
he, we both had orange juice.
K: I see. Do you possibly remember his courting any other
ladies before he remarried in 1934.
P: No, no, I don't. I don't know it.
K: In 1936 or around that time, the Florida congressmen were,
Mr. Sears, Mr. Green, Mr. Wilcox, Millard Caldwell and
yourself, were any of you more intimate friends with
Mr. Trammell than any others or...?
P: No, I guess I was the closest to him.
K: You were?
K: Mainly because of coming from Lakeland.
P: Yes. I think I was closest to him. Millard, being up in
West Florida where he was governor, may know something and
it might be well to interview him.
K: I've written to him and I'm going to talk to him.
K: But I don't really know how closely they were associated.
P: Mr. Sears is dead, Lex Green is dead, Wilcox is dead.
Caldwell and I are the only two that remain of that crowd.
K: Did the congressmen in any way respect one of the senators
more than any other or did, was there good cooperation on
behalf of Florida among all the representatives in Congress?
P: There was good cooperation as far as I'm concerned and I
think there was, between the others, they, I think that
sometimes the House members think the senators try to
steal part of their credit. If you get in a project and
the senators announced it first, but that never happened
with me. When they made an announcement they announced
it with the senator in cooperation with Congressman
Peterson, did so-and-so.
K: So there was as least the normal amount of cooperation.
P: Yes, yes it was. I got, I got perfect cooperation from
both of them.
K: Would you possibly know if Mr. Trammell had any close
friends among the senators? I know we've talked that you
didn't get over to the Senate much, but I was thinking
that maybe Richard Russell from Georgia or....
P: I, I don't know, as I said I didn't know when he'd leave
the Senate, I don't where....
P: But I imagine he was, let's see, I don't think Dick was
there then. Dick began his service in the Senate in 1938.
K: I think he had just come in...
P: Or maybe at the beginning of the 73rd Congress, January
1933, right about at that time.
K: ...right at the time Mr. Trammell was dying, because he
did attend the funeral, I believe.
P: Let's see, I'll find out.
K: He was one of the senatorial pallbearers for the funeral.
P: But he was, he was, maybe served part of a term with
K: I guess they wouldn't have had time...
K: ...to know each other very well.
P: I knew Dick quite well. My cousin who served in Congress
the same time I did, married Dick's sister.
K: He's another very...
K: ...powerful man, wasn't he?
P: Yes. Now he, he'd have made a great president, Dick Russell
would. Let's see, elected a Democrat to the United States
Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William
G. Harris, and then, then doesn't say when the date, was
reelected in '33.
K: Well,then he would have.
P: So he would have served a while with Senator Trammell.
K: For a little while, a few years anyway.
K: Well, let me get back to Florida. Can you tell me anything
about the relations between Mr. Trammell and David Sholtz,
the governor of Florida?
P: No, I couldn't.
K: Did you know Mr. Sholtz at all?
P: I, I knew him quite well.
K: You did.
P: I knew him, we were campaigning one time. We were, we'd
meet on the platform quite a few times and the, and I'd
meet him, and when he would go to Washington he always
came by to see me. And he had breakfast with me, well,
the last time I ever saw him, he dropped in and I asked
him to have breakfast with me. But I don't know what
their relationship was.
K: Do you know if he wanted to be senator, sir? Lots of
people said that he did.
P: I think he did. I think...
K: A natural...
P: I think he was probably ambitious to be senator.
K: Could you possibly tell me the names of any of the men
besides or including Peter 0. Knight, who were very in-
fluential in Tampa politics in the 1930s? Would there have
been any that would have been likely to be more influential
than Mr. Knight?
P: D.B.....D.B. McKay...
K: Mr. McKay
P: ...was there in Tampa and active in politics, but he, he's
dead. And Pat Whitaker was active with certain groups.
He was a strong politician. And Rex Farrior is a, was a
lawyer. He graduated from the University of Florida about
a year after I did, and he was strong in politics. There
was, and Kenneth McKay was reasonably strong in politics.
But I guess Brennan McKay, D.B. McKay, was, other than
Peter O. Knight, was about the strongest in politics in
the country, that is up on the surface. Now right below
the surface there's a lot of key men. They worked together.
But the old Tampa machine, it was the result of a full
operation between a lot of people.
K: Can you tell me anything about the Tampa machine, sir?
I've come across almost nothing written about it, but
it must have been very successful, wasn't it? And well-
P: The machine was very successful. The machine was pretty
well broken up when they started having voting machines.
K: I see.
P: Because they would mark the ballots for the person. Then
they'd tell her to go in and vote and they'd mark the name,
like the dummy ballot.
K: They could just compare them?
P: And for instance when, the first time I ran I didn't carry
any of those Latin precincts at all.
K: I see.
P: I'd get some of them, three hundred and eighty to five. I'd
K: You'd get the five.
P: I had to get my votes by fringe votes around in the big
counties and then all the small counties. And, but, then
when they started the vote machines they had more trouble
and then a little later on account of that machine fell
to pieces except the certain key men, these, worked to-
gether, and oh, but they, they would disagree at times.
But at one time there was a real, real strong machine there.
K: Do you know how the mechanics of that worked, sir? In
other words, what, on the lowest level, one would have to
do to get the vote go a certain way? Was, in other words,
were there instructions coming down from above or did a
bunch of local leaders get together and say, "We favor
P: Yes, they, they, they....
P: ...they do that and then they'd usually, if they agreed,
they'd get together and then they had certain men, they
had the clubs or certain cigar factories or one man in the
cigar factory or organization and, but I saw evidence the
machine in two elections, although I beat the machine the
second election. The, and after that I carried the precincts
nearly all of the time. But they, they would mark them in,
but I think when the machines were, the people were able to
carry a machine vote is because they didn't know the
individuals. They hadn't, didn't take time to see them.
They relied on their leaders. I think when they would get
out and see the individuals, those young Italian lawyers,
the young Spanish lawyers, and you met them and they liked
you, the machine couldn't operate. They said, "No, I'm
going to vote for Pete, or I'm going to vote for so-and-so,"
because they knew him. But if they hadn't campaigned, they
didn't know him, and some of the leaders said, "Well, you'd
like, vote for so-and-so. I'll mark your ballot then."
K: So what you're saying, sir, is that then in these early days
it was the influential people in .the Italian and the Cuban
or Spanish communities, say the factory owners or somebody...
K: ...who would say, "Why don't you vote for...
P: Yes, "he's a good man...."
K: ...Congressman X or Senator Y," and why, and then say the say
the cigar workers or whatever...
P: Yes, that's right.
K: ...would follow along?
P: And that's not only true of the Spanish and Italian, but it
is also true of the other workers in other places.
K: So it was people going along with...
P: Well, with the leaders.
K: ...the more influential people in the community?
P: Their leaders they liked and respected or they were under
an obligation to him and they, they didn't give a rip and
maybe they hadn't seen the candidate.
K: O.K., along these lines then, in 1934, Claude Pepper ran
against Park Trammell.
K: And he came very close to him in the first primary and he
almost beat him in the regular election [second primary].
K: But Mr. Trammell won on the strength of a totally, as you
said, lopsided vote from Tampa, from Hillsborough County.
What I'd, what I'm trying to phrase, to ask you, is whether
that vote came about, in your opinion, because Mr. Trammell
was that popular with those people, or whether it was just
this machine operating, or maybe a combination of both?
P: It's a combination, because he was popular with the common
people, see, and he was also, their leaders were supporting
K: So there was no reason for them to disagree with the
P: No, that's, that's...and Pepper was a newcomer in politics,
but he was a powerful orator. If you hear Pepper on the
stands, he's another William Jennings Bryan.
K: But there would have been no reason for out-right illegality
to result in that kind of an election result.
P: No, I, I think, I think if the machine had just left it
alone, Trammell would have carried it.
K: I see.
P: Because after my first election when I saw some evidence
of that, but after my second election I saw no evidence
of any machine vote against me.
K: Well, I guess time...
P: And I think it's because they actually know him. If they
knew Park Trammell and the use of that name, they'd mark
K: That was it.
P: But a newcomer come there, they didn't know, had never seen
him, they'll naturally vote for their bosses.
K: No reason to vote for him. Sir, you said you met Beatrice
Mesmer Trammell, the second Mrs. Trammell...
K: ...could you tell me anything else about her, your impressions
P: No, I don't. Just the fact when...
K: They came to your hotel.
P: ...my wife's father died. That impressed me and the, and
we were out to dinner one time with her after the senator
married her, but other than that I only occasionally saw
K: Do you remember if she was intelligent or well-spoken?
P: I think she was intelligent. One thing, I oughtn't to say
this, I guess, but as far as impressed me was, she had af-
fected an English accent...
P: Yes, and I, but I think she was raised out here. I think
she was a Padgett out here.
K: Yes, sir. Right.
P: But what amused me was she had a decided English accent.
K: That's strange?
P: But, but I just don't know much about her at all.
K: Do you remember anything about the Padgetts? For instance,
were they landholders? Did they have groves? Is that
where they made their money?
P: They had some groves here and they were good, highly re-
spected. They were, had small groves, and one of them
married a Roberson, Justine Roberson, her old family.
Justine is still living and she, I think she's on the
Board of this Water Control District. And Ed Padgett, I
think, was on the school board. They were a good middle-
class Florida people, highly respected.
K: I see.
P: But she had married previously and had gone up north
before I knew...knew her.
K: I was going to ask you about that. I believe she was married
to a man who was a Catholic and then she divorced him and
they had a son.
P: I don't know.
K: And then in 1934 when Mr. Trammell married her it was almost
very secretive. I think there were only...
P: Yes, it was. It was.
K: ...two witnesses present. He was married here in the...
K: ...I think the Methodist church...
P: I don't know.
K: ...or the Presbyterian.
P: But I was, I was surprised when I first saw the announcement.
K: There was surprise and talk about that?
P: Well, they were all surprised. They didn't know he was
K: So no one knew that they had been seeing each other before
P: I don't think that, I don't think it was. I...
K: At least she had not been prominent in Washington...
P: No, no.
K: ...so that you or anyone else had heard about it! O.K.,
I was told that she owned a very beautiful home, a place
called Grey Locks on the road to Bartow?
P: She bought, after the senator died, she bought Grey Locks,
and that was a home that was built by Minor Stevens right
at the corner as you turn around Lake Hollinsworth to
go to Bartow...there's a, the home has since been torn
down and there's apartment houses there and they're
ugly apartment houses. I thought it was a crime to tear
K: Yes, sir.
P: The, and she bought that, but I don't think she was able
to finance it and keep the payments up and all. But, and
I think probably she got hard up towards the last. But
I did know, I know that she did buy that a while...
K: But after he was dead, as you remember?
P: Yes, after his death.
K: I've been told that although Mr. Trammell seemed a healthy
man, that really his health wasn't all that good and that he
liked to go to mineral baths. Is that true? Warm Springs
kind of places?
P: I suspected that. When I went out and two or three times
in the office I felt that Park was not healthy. But one
time when we were out together we were talking and he said,
"I, I don't plan on being here at that time." I said,
"Now, you're not going to retire." He said, "Well, sometimes
the, you get retired when you're not retiring yourself."
And then another time we were just talking along there and
he said, "Well, I'd like for you to succeed me," something
like that; and I said, "Well, I don't have any ambition
to be in the Senate. I'm trying to get seniority and get
my chairmanship in the House, and furthermore we feel you
pretty well represent us." And he said, "But I..." Those
two little hints made me feel that he was, was sick or
something. But, of course, but it surprised me when his
death came as suddenly as it did. I don't know what
he died of, what they, what they said he died with, but it
was rather sudden.
K: Yes, it was. He, as far as you know, had been in pretty
good health at least externally...
K: ...until, right up until then.
P: Yes, you see no indication, but I felt like he had a pre-
monition or something. Two little things that you can't
quite put your finger on. That's what.
K: Did you feel at all that he was aging rapidly towards the
P: I didn't see any indication of that.
K: O.K. Sir, do you have any idea how he would have financed
his campaigns, or how most candidates in Florida say
between 1910 and 1930 would have gotten up money? I know
it didn't cost anywhere near as much then.
P: There wasn't much, didn't have much expenses in those days,
and I don't have, don't know how he financed them at all.
In my case I didn't take contributions. I paid my own way
and during that whole time I ran the, I only took then
about four thousand dollars and those, those were little
contributions, ten or twenty-five dollars. I was afraid
I'd hurt the fellow's feelings to send it back. But I've
received substantial contributions that I'd immediately
returned and thanked them. And I have some instance, a
man would send them to me the second or third time and I
marked cancelled on the checks and framed them. I never
cashed them. But my theory was that I couldn't take the
contributions and be my own man.
P: If I had taken a thousand dollars from a man and he later
come to me and said, "Pete, I want you to appoint my son
to West Point," I would feel like I had appointed that
boy and sold the appointment. On the other hand I, if
I didn't appoint, I'd feel like an ingrate. So I didn't
take and a person going to be postmaster and all. I just,
I didn't, I'd thank them and send it back. Of course ex-
penses were not like they are now.
P: Because I never, the most I ever spent in any one campaign
was, oh, just four thousand dollars.
K: Basically what one would have had to do then is just go
from town to town and county seat to county seat?
P: Yes, and make the speeches and they hired a sound wagon
with a loudspeaker on it, and they'd go up there and they'd
play that tune and then you'd gather a crowd, you'd say
"howdy" and speak a little bit, shake hands and go to the
next town. I made ten, ten speeches a day that way.
Started at Lakeland and wound up at Ft. Myers once. It's
a different kind of campaigning that they do now.
K: Did the, did the state Democratic committee try to get the
candidates to go out together?
P: They, usually the county committees arranged the rallies
and then the state committee kind of coordinated. They
knew when the rally was and they'd tell the state candidates.
K: I see.
P: Yes, and now in the general election, the state would take
over and have rallies. For instance, I campaigned with
Colonel Lee, who was elected comptroller and all. We were,
we were sent together. We would speak about four times.
One, we'd alternate. While he was speaking in one little
town, I'd speak and then we'd, I'd go down and be the
third speaker down there and he'd be the third speaker....
K: I see. O.K. Sir, do you know if Mr. Trammell ever really
practiced the law? For instance, was he practicing law while
he was in the Senate? Did he have an office here?
P: No, no, he didn't...
K: He didn't.
P: ...have any law office here. He probably had when he was
in the State Senate, but when he was in the United States
Senate he didn't practice law.
K: And you don't remember him practicing really.
P: I don't know, remember. He did practice in Lakeland in
the early days I think, but, and occasionally I find a
deed where he acted as a notary public and acknowledgement.
K: I see, but as far as you know he didn't have a firm or
he didn't belong to a firm?
P: No, no, that was before my day. See, he had been elected, but
he had been elected governor by the time I....
K: Well, in '13, he was already...
P: Yes, that's right.
P: But I was getting big enough to know...
K: To be aware of this. So...
P: The family was living here, Ruth and Emma, his two sisters,
they were going to school and his cousins. He has cousins
yet living up on the east coast. Judge Worth Trammell was,
I think, his brother.
K: Yes, that's right. And his younger half-brother, Wilson, is
an attorney down in Miami.
K: He was the...
P: And I think Clyde's son, the senator's Uncle Rip's grandson,
would be a great-grandnephew. I think he's at Ocala, Clyde is.
K: Yes sir. Yes, sir. Just from having talked to him and knowing
him a little bit in Washington, could you give me any estimate
of his ability and knowledge as an attorney? Was there
any questions that you discussed that...
P: No, we never discussed...
K: No way to tell?
P: ...actual legal questions. We discussed the passage of
P: And of course you ought to have legal knowledge, but you
have a drafting service and the, you don't heed the legal
knowledge. It helps you, but you don't have to have it.
K: But it's not absolutely necessary...?
P: That's right.
K: Did you know either David Click or Josiah Ferris,who were his
P: Who was that?
K: Mr. Trammell's secretaries, David Click, C-l-i-c-k?
P: Oh yes, yes, I knew Dave and Joe both. Yes. Now Bob
Gray was his secretary a long time.
K: Yes, sir.
K: In, in Tallahassee and then again...
K: ...in Washington.
P: And Dave, I knew he worked in his office. I don't know
whether he was a secretary or not, because, and I don't
remember just how long he worked there. But I knew
Dave and Dave went in the Navy and served at Guam for a
while, and then went down and raised sugar down in the...
K: I think he's down in Sarasota.
P: Near Belle Glade in the Everglades.
P: And I ran across him several times since I've been out, but
I didn't remember him being very long with the senator.
K: I think...
P: David was a pretty able, sociable man, and had a good per-
K: He's a bright man?
K: ...quite intelligent?
P: Yes, but I don't, I don't remember his being so very long with
Senator Trammell. The fact is I had forgotten it was Trammell.
K: I think he was the clerk or whatever, to the Naval Affairs
P: Oh yes, that's,that's right.
K: He was chairman.
P: That's right. Senator Trammell was chairman. He may have
been appointed to the committee instead of the personal
K: So perhaps it was only the few years that he was chairman.
K: And Joseph Ferris, do you remember him? Joe Ferris? F-e-r-r-i-s?
P: Yes. I knew him quite well. I knew Joe right, well, now
Joe remained after Trammell's death, didn't he?
K: I believe so.
K: He stayed on with...
P: Yes, he was very able...
K: ...the interim senator.
P: ...and a very .likable. I think, let's see,
back I think he did some lobbying for, I may
thought he was doing, worked for some of the
but I don't know.
after he came
K: I'm not sure. I'm still trying to track him down.
P: But Joe had a good personality and was likeable.
K: You would consider them both competent...
P: Yes, I consider...
...for that kind of position?
P: Yes, I consider Click and Ferris competent, very competent,
and Joe and Dave Click both had good personalities. But I
think they must have remained in Washington because I knew
Joe and Dave some years later, after the senator's death.
K: Yes, I, I heard of him but I had the idea he went down in
the sugar country that same place Click did.
K: Well, Mr. Click gave me an address. I haven't heard from
him yet, so...
P: Yes, he, he was at Clewiston around the lake a little
north of Clewiston. Around out in the country near the
lake. But he moved over to the east coast somewhere, I
K: Do you remember if they were both from Lakeland?
P: Or which?
K: Do you remember if they were both from Lakeland or perhaps how
they would have gotten their position?
P: No, no, no, they were not.
K: They were not.
P: Neither one of them was from Lakeland.
K: How would one have gotten a position like that? Just
through recommendation perhaps or...
K: ...friendship, something like that?
P: He may have met them, may have met them on a campaign or
some friends might meet him and they recommend him or some-
times meet them at the campaign you'd take a fancy to them.
K: O.K., Mr. Peterson, in 1936, I don't know whether you actually
spoke the words in the House, but there was a memorial
service for Mr. Trammell in the House, I guess, and you
mentioned that he had not accumulated many wordly goods.
Why was this so? Was he just exceptionally honest, or
was he a spendthrift with the money that he acquired, or
was he just not concerned with money?
P: He was not a spendthrift. Of course, at that time, the
senators didn't get much pay and the pay was, and they
didn't get but one travelling expense back home. And so,
if you're dependent entirely on your salary you'd go
backwards almost. You'd just barely, and then...
K: You'd just hold your own?
P: Yes, and then this part I oughtn't to tell you, but it's, I
think it's pertinent. A few of his kinfolks were borrowing
from him. I think some of the... some of the, some of the
kinfolks were borrowing from him. I couldn't prove that
because there's nobody definitely knows, but that is my
general supposition that he, some of them were kind of
borrowing from him. But the, but the salary itself, if
you came to Florida many times you'd eat it up. You see,
when we went to Congress in the, in '33, the base salary was
only ten thousand dollars, and when we passed the economy
bill they cut it to $7,500. But he only got once mileage
to go to Washington. You got ten cents a mile for a thousand
mile trip from here. So we got a hundred dollars. Well, you
can imagine if you get invitations to come back to speak and
all that. And so, but he didn't accumulate anything.
K: I see. But you have heard that his brothers, or his
family, would borrow money from him? Did you hear that they
P: That was my understanding that some of his family and others...
K: ...they would ask for favors or try to get jobs or things
P: I don't, I don't know about getting a job, but, but my,
it's a feeling and kind of the impression that he was
helping his family. Some them now, some of them were not.
K: I understand.
P: But even with, without that he wouldn't have had much chance
K: Right, especially if he had no...
P: Yes, I went backwards.
P: I went backwards when I was at Congress. The, but I paid
my own expenses and but I went, when the situation was
tight and I knew to a certain extent what I was getting
into, and but I had, well I had about eighty acres of grove
when I went to Congress and during the time I was at Congress
I ate seventy of them up. I came back with ten.
K: And glad to have the ten, I guess?
P: Yes, but it was, it was a wonderful experience is what it
was. It's worthwhile when a man likes public service, and...
K: I'd like to, if I could, read the names of the eight pall-
bearers at his funeral and see if you can tell me what, if
any, their relationship might have been to him.
P: All right, I've forgotten who they were, but...
K: One of them was Charles Dwiggins, D-w-i-g-g-i-n-s?
P: Yes, yes. Charles Dwiggins was a man from Tennessee, had
originally been, had also been mayor of Lakeland.
K: I see.
P: And he was, was an officer at a bank, one of the banks that
he had, that had...well, all the banks went busted, but
he was the officer of the bank and was mayor of the town,
and was a pallbearer. I served when he was mayor, I was
K: L.W. Bloom, B-l-o-o-m?
P: Yes, Bloom was editor of an independent newspaper here.
The, and later the two newspapers combined and Bloom was
the editor of the combined newspaper.
K: I see.
P: But times got hard and he sold out. But Bloom was, I knew
Bloom quite well. I was one of the first men he met when
he moved here. He was from Kansas. He was a kind of re-
former. He was my friend and Senator Trammell's friend and
the Senator named him pallmaster.
K: There's Mr. Angle that we talked about and there's a man
named Carr, C-a-r-r. Do you know him?
P: I've forgotten that he was a pallbearer, but it must have
been George that, that was, married a Carter here and his son
is my son's law partner now.
K: Oh, really?
P: Yes, and I think, that must have been that because he was
the only George Carr I know. He was, he'd been a younger
man than Park, but he was at that time they owned one
of the hotels that was here.
P: So I imagine that was here...
K: I understand that Mr. Trammell in his later years stayed
in the hotel. Would that have...
P: The which?
K: ...would have stayed here in that hotel when he, when he
came back home? Would that be possible?
P: I wouldn't know.
K: So just for the tape could you go back to Tom Marshall and
P: Which is it?
K: Tom Marshall?
P: Tom Marshall?
K: Yes, could you go over that?
P: Yes, Tom Marshall was an old-timer in Lakeland, one of the
old families. And he was a, I think, was a contractor and
a house builder.
K: I see.
P: And, but he was one of the old families here.
K: Willard Hallam, H-a-l-l-a-m?
P: Yes, Willard was a younger generation and he was a son of
the man that developed the Hallam Colony tracts. They
had, of course, thousands of acres of land the early days
of settlement. And then Mr. Hallam sold it off in ten acre
tracts, the grove, and developed what is out in the clubhouse
section out here where there are little hills out here.
I live out there myself.
K: I see.
P: And Willard was his son. Willard was younger than the rest
of them. Georgewas the next youngest to Willard. I think,
well, I just think Park liked Willard and Willard was active.
K: There's a man named George Coogie, C-o-o-g-l-e?
P: The Coogles, yes, I know George Coogle. George was a,
I don't know whether he was in the brokerage, the citrus
brokerage business or not, but he bought and sold produce
in Lakeland and I don't, I don't know what else he did, but
I knew him. He was kind of an old-timer here.
K: And the last one is Dudley Rawls, R-a-l, R-a-w-l-s, Rawls?
P: I'm not sure which Rawls Dudley is. There were several
Rawlses, and I think Dudley was a young lawyer, but I'm
K: Doesn't ring that many bells for you.
P: I, I knew Dudley, but there's several of the Rawlses, and
there's one of them went into the service and I, the last
I heard of him was a brigadier general.
P: And that may have been Dudley. I'll try to get than in-
formation before you leave. My son may remember or George
Carr may know.
K: Well, I guess that's all, except for one question, all that
I have to ask you, sir. I'm just curious, as I understand,
the public library had been named after...
P: Yes, yes.
K: Park Trammell, and then I guess when they moved into their
new building on the lake, I think they just changed it back
to the Lakeland Public Library, and I was wondering if
there's any special reason for that or they just felt it
should be named the Lakeland Public Library.
P: No, there was no special reason for that. I think, I think
when they had called this other one Trammell and the, and
when they built the new one they probably didn't want
this Trammell over here and that Trammell over there.
P: But there was no, I'm sure there was no special reason for it.
K: I see.
P: The fact is they, they didn't name it for Park until some-
time after his death and somebody said that it ought to be
named for Park Trammell. We haven't recognized him and they
named it. But the, but there ought to be more recognition
of him here, that Lakeland has been slow to recognize dif-
ferent people. We, we had for instance, C.G. Memminger,
son of the last treasurer of the Confederacy. He, he was,
lived here a long time and he had a nice home. It was
well furnished with antique furniture. Well, they moved his
house and everything and left not even a marker where he lived.
The Spanish American troops were stationed right along here.
We don't find any marker or anything about that. Senator
George's father lived out over on the lake and he gave them
some land for a park, but no one can find the park named.
They were slow in recognizing. They didn't name Drane
Field for Mr. Drane till after he got out of Congress and
somebody suggested and they all agreed to it. But they
just, nobody would sit down and thought over it really.
On the spur of the moment I expect that a committee went
down and wanted to name this Trammell Library, the commissioners
would have it done.