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GHS 24A jc
SUBJECT: MR. EDWIN TURLINGTON (T)
INTERVIEWER: WRIGHT (W)
W: ...Wright, and I'm here with Mr. Ed Turlington, who lives
at 2133 S.W. 70th Avenue, and he is a city...county commissioner,
and I am here interviewing him for this oral history project
for the university. Mr. Turlington, how long have you lived here
T: Well, my mother advised me that I moved here in 1916.
W: How old were you then?
T: Well, I'm 55 now, so I imagine I was about 4 or 5 months
W: When you came to Gainesville, was...what was the town like?
T: Well, has uh...course I really don't recall for a year or two
at least, but uh, I think we moved uh into a house on Hines Street
immediately north of Shaw and Keeter motor company, now Hines I think
would be 3rd avenue northwest.
W: Was that out in the country then?
T: Well, I would say, it was four blocks from the courthouse,
or five blocks from the courthouse.
W: Did you have a large family?
T: Well, I....there were six boys and one sister
in our family.
W: I would say that was pretty large. Did y'all get along
T: Well, I, I remember some good tussles and I also remember
some good times, sometimes uh, when one would go off during the
summer and come home, all the other five would think, well, he's
crowding me again, and, but when any other of the five would go
off, why the same situation existed with them, so I imagine it
was more or less feeling your way as young people.
W: As we go on a little bit further, uh, as a teenager, what
were some of your activities that you did?
T: Well, I really enjoyed growing up in Gainesville. Uh,
y'know, our home was where Gainesville high school now sits on
13th St. 13th St. was then north 9th St. And it ended at the
corner of 23rd and 13th, which was about a block and a half further
out. Uh, as I remember the, uh, T Road out there, then
called north 9th, was the ruts were very deep and sometimes you'd
trip over 'em trying to get out 'em, walking home from school.
Uh, I had a very resourceful father that helped me get started
in the dairy business, and I learned to milk cows and I peddled
milk all over Gainesville on a bicycle, all over north Gainesville
on a bicycle. And I made good money, but there was one thing,
I didn't have time to spend it, so I put it all in the bank. And uh,
and I got along real well, I also uh, for 500 a day furnished ahorse
and a wagon and uh buy of water in 20 gallon jugs
to furnish the surveyors who were surveying the N lake
properties in the Lake Road out there. Uh, that had never been
surveyed before, except uh, as a passing through from the state
or federal surveyors. And uh, for 50 a day, I furnished everything,
and.uh, I remember getting permission to cut some cedar trees
and sell 'em for Christmas trees, and I drove my wagon up on
the courthouse square and sold 'em, and I made as much as $230
to $300 a day selling Christmas trees. So that's when I made some
real money. But as a young person, uh, I think that uh, what interested
me most was Gainesville high school was then um what Santa Fe
Junior College is now calling their west campus, old Buchotlz
was originally Gainesville high school, and I started to school
there in the 1st grade in 1922, I believe it was. Uh, and, of course
the school has had some additions, and the cafeteria and certain other
things, but the red brick building was there at that time. Yes, it's
really been interesting to see it grow, but now it's gotten to where
you really can't keep up with all the people in town. Ybu try to
but there are so many new people, so many new faces, but uh, I enjoyed
seeing every bit of it, and I think that much has been accomplished,
and much more will be accomplished when you young people get there
doing the job.
W: How many students attended Gainesville high back then?
T: Well if I remember right, the year I graduated was the biggest
class in Gainesville high school in several years; there were 108
graduating seniors. And Ithink that the class number, as far as
g radiation numbers tended down for several years, that was in 1934, and
you know it seems like everything does run in cycles, um, the fact that
you have a big crop of war babies, and then you have a big crop of
weddings and then you have another crop of babies, and it does run
in cycles in some degree.
W: What were some of the activities that you participated
in at school?
T: Well, we had a fair intra/inter-mural program, uh, I think
probably the thing that would interest you most in early history was the
fact that uh, uh they started putting shoes and socks on all of us
uh, while I was in high school and uh, you were not allowed to come to
schools without shoes and socks on anymore and uh, it uh was quite a
changee because a lot of people didn't even own a pair of shoes. And
it was no hot pavement to walk on like present day young people have
to walk on with their bare feet; we had good sand that would cool 'em
a little as you walked; only had to worry about sand spurs and briars.
But uh, I think that one of the most interesting things was when the,
it came down that hook worms were really prevalent all around
and all kids should be forced to wear shoes for their health. And uh
Gainesville high school was one of the first ones that really
crowded the issue and, and made uh for this to exist, and health
then got under way here to some degree.
W: After the shoes, did they start, uh, wanting you to wear
shirts tucked in and stuff like that?
T: Well I don't think really that was ever a big problem;
you had one or two uh individuals that might like to wear their
shirt tails out, but I think generally most of 'em were pretty well
'bout to the fact that uh...I remember distinctly
hidin' my shoes in the morning to keep from wearing them to school.
And uh, because I was just like the peer groups of the present day,
if ya, if other ninth grade boys didn't have on shoes, I didn't want
to have on shoes.
W: What was your...what did you do on a Saturday night; did y'all
go out and play hooky on somebody?
T: Well, no more than little neighborhood, games. You might
say, uh, I guess every little boy does some things that he wouldn't care
to tell grace right here at this time, but it would be real
interesting to hear how the more things change, the more they remain
the same, and uh, yes, we had quiet activities, and of course then
we had coon hunting, and we had 'possum hunting, and uh, we would have
a Saturday afternoon, uh, rabbit chase, uh, down where Sears and
Roebuck now is, and over where Woolco now is ; the best rabbits
were always on the Woolco side. And we'd get two or three bags full
of 'em, as all the boys would gang around and we would get out. But
we had our own activities, and this is one of the major things that
changed, y'know, as we had a lot of population increase, young people
couldn't go over to the farms without trespassing and tearing up the
man's fence and everything, and you don't want this so the city has
taken on a responsibility of putting in a lot of recreational facilities,
and I think even though they were well behind in getting these facilities
available to the general public, that Gainesville is still ahead of most
places its size, in the recreation area. And that of course is to give
facilities to young people, uh, my daddy built about the first swimming
Iool there was in Gainesville. It was a Cypress-sided pool and it's
on, right there on the campus where Gainesville is, about um, maybe
a hundred...no, 'bout fifty yards north of the auditorium. In fact,
we destroyed it after we sold it to the high school; it was all pushed
in with a bulldozer and made back in the normal state. And, of course,
on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, why everybody in Gainesville that
we knew came to see us to go swimming. Uh, and uh, then Mr. Pound
built Glen Springs and of course it was much larger and much nicer
and got a.log more use. Uh, most of the people that lived by the
university would go swimming in 's pond over there and
(I'm) sure you've all heard about that place, about four or five blocks
north of the campus. And I think the university's first team was
W: How old were you when you left home?
T: Well, I ought not to tell you this, but uh, I tell a lot
of people that I got married before I got seventeen, and uh, uh maybe
I was seventeen, but I'll tell you I was much too immature to get married,
but I was married and uh, uh we did just about like some other young
people that get, uh, planning on uh getting married, why, I think, now
we had our first date on the first day of January, and got married on
T: Then we didn't tell anybody for going on two years, before
we let anybody know about it. Then, so this is part of...you see the
more things change, the more they remain the same. And sometimes, your
good judgment and your good luck, and I must confess at that point it's
a lot of luck, uh, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't.
There's really no guarantee onlife, whether you're going to enjoy it or not,
but I can I can truthfully say I have enjoyed 54 or 55 years of my life.
W: What...did you have any kind of ceremony or anything?
T: What do you mean?
T: Oh, yes, the judge...the judge had a little ceremony. I'd
tell you but not on that tape. (laugh)
W: (laugh) Was...was uh life really as bad as sometimes we hear
it, like drudging to school ten miles in the rain and whatever?
T: When the snow's 4 feet deep?
T: Well of course I never did see snow 'til I got in the Navy.
I went north several times to see it, but never did get to see it.
Uh, and uh, as far as saying you could, that we didn't enjoy life;
we enjoyed life, uh, I remember going through the sesquecentennial
in Philadelphia in 1927, and seeing the Liberty Bell and taking
extensive trips to Canada, to seeing many activities; going to the
World's Fair at Chicago in 1933. Yes, I can tell you this, I travelled
extensively, but I never knew of a better place than Gainesville to
live, and I remember that they just finished the stadium, and so
Malcolm Campbell raced his Bluebird on Daytona Beach, and he came back
through Gainesville and everybody was so proud that he had exceeded
the hundred miles an hour in his automobile and he was up there making
a speech and he said my friends, my friends from down here in the sticks,
and you know they did n't have too many friends here, because we didn't
consider ourselves in the sticks, although it was really country down here.
W: How did you get around...you travelled all these places. Did
you have a car?
T: Well, yes, we had a car, and you know, we had one of the early
cars that had a triangle on the back of it, that you mounted on the bumper
I mean on the license tag, and it said beware, four wheel brakes, and if
you were following a car that had that sign on there you better stay twice
as far back, because your two wheel wouldn't stop you half as fast as four
wheel. And uh, so therefore, you better beware.
W: Did you ever have anybody run into you?
T: Well, if I say him coming, I gave it the gas so maybe I
could outrun him. Uh, my grandson here, young fellow says, granddaddy
why do they keep pushing the age for driving; how old were you when you
drove? And I said well Ben, they didn't have licenses then, and uh I'm
sure that I was driving a car by myself when I was twelve, and I'm sure
that I drove downtown when I was twelve, or thirteen, and uh, he said well
why can't I do that now? I said well, it took me about half the day
to get it to going 24 miles an hour, and then, you had to hunt all over
town to find another one to run into. Nowadays, it's not that way.
You mash the gas and you're going 90 in just a second, and there's
a car coming by and you better see it. I think it is a good rule
that we make people a little more mature before they maim themselves
up, and yet I can see somebody, some young person squalling about it,
but uh, it's uh a real thing planning and living and you're growing
up, Grace, uh, is a hundred times harder right now when it was when
I was a boy.
W: I believe it.
T: I, I'm serious.
W: What was your first job?
T: Well, I always worked for myself. Uh, I did work with Mr.
Sherman and Dr. Stokes in um planting centipede grass and some
farms, but a lot of times my dad would have a hundred
acres of watermelon and I always helped with them. I had my own cows and
uh my own horse; Irode the horse to school many times, and uh little
girls would make my horse sick feeding him apples so that they would
get a chance to ride, and I had a good horse, and, yea, I had plenty
of little jobs to do like that 50( a day for the surveyors' water boy.
W: Was 50 a lot of money then?
T: Gee, it took 5 to buy a package of gum; I don't see where
...you still get that...I think they've finally gotten upto 7 now, haven't they
for a package of gum?
T: But most of things, of course, inflation has hit most things.
W: Did you like working for yourself?
T: Well, I liked it because I was reasonably industrious and
very prosperous in my transactions, I bought cows and sold milk and
raised calves and slaughtered them for the fraternity houses at the
university, but they didn't have any meat inspection then or any milk
inspection then, but I know I ran a good program and had very
sanitary milk, and the meat carcasses I took the best of care of them
and got 'em to the cooler quickly, and, and uh they...once I sold 'em, why
they'd give me a call, and I'd go get 'em another milk-fed, veal calf.
And I made good money.
W: Did you attend college yourself?
T: Well, I started in 1934 and I finished in '38. And uh,
after working with the federal government and being in service where I
was in the Navy, uh, skipper of the ship, Tokyo Bay, I came back and
then went into the teaching profession. And uh, I, right now, I've
forgotten your question so you're going to have to tell me what it was
W: What, what did you teach?
T: Well, I taught agriculture, at Gainesville high school, but uh,
what was your question; I still don't remember what your question was.
It slipped my mind and I talked it...
W: I don't know; I was listening to what you were saying, and
wasn't paying much attention to myself.
T: All right...was about the college degree. I came back and
under the GI bill, I got a master's degree and then I, I went on back
again with a planned program and got a Rank 1, which is the average
of a Ph.D. without a thesis, which is the maximum for pay in a high
school system. In a college system I understand it's...you can get
more with a Ph.D.
W: If you had your life to live over again, would you do it.
T: Well,/I'm sure I wouldn't have enough energy left to do it
(laugh); I just believe I'd run plumb out of gas.
W: If you had to do it again, what kind of changes would you
T: Well, I believe that uh, and this is one thing I sincerely
believe, that uh, more young people need to have more experiences in
managing their own finances, in planning their own lives with supervision.
Uh, in...I would, I believe I would take a more active part in the
political structure as a young person so that I would not be found
warning when the opportunity came to run for office. But uh, yes, I
would make myself be the president of every club I could get elected
to. I would take an active part in some savings handsome investments at
all times, so that I could see the fluctuation of money, the inflation and
the recession, and I would use my political judgment to keep our society
on a more even keel, by expounding my knowledge to others.
W: What was Florida like when you were doing all your travelling;
was there...were there very many other people travelling?
T: Well, they had some real fine touring cars; they had the
Buick and the P and there were others that were really
high-flying cars. And uh, they would carry you along real fine until
you ran over a sand spur or something, let the air out of the tires.
Uh, it did...the rubber was real soft and it lasted very short periods
of time...tire would uh, if you got it on hard road, I don't believe
it would last very long today. I know it wouldn't it at high speeds.
But I take...if I were to tell you the story about the cars, uh, one
of the new dealers here in town sold a man this new automobile and he
told him, he said now when you see that speedometer hit a thousand
miles, you drain the oil out now, and take care of that motor. The
man said all right, so, when it turned over to thousand he was out
on the Millhopper was a dirt, two-rut road, and he got out of that car
in. his Sunday suit and he drained the oil out and before he got to town,
the engine had burned up. And he said but mister, you didn't tell me
I was supposed to put any oil back in, you just said to be sure at a
thousand that I drain that out! And they had quite a squable...uh, y'know,
we're getting a lot smarter people, and maybe we'll get cars to lasting
a little longer if we quit the abuse of them. I think some of the
interesting things that I remember most was leaving to go fishing at
Cedar Key, and I, if we ever passed a paved road, I don't remember it.
And we would be stuck three times going down and four times coming home.
And it was quite a trip. And uh, now my mother...she's now 86...made
her first trip to Miami and she,..uh, the man said there's supposed to
be a turn in the road about here, and about that time the dirver turned
because the road turned and my mother went over the fence and into the
sand. And uh, stuck her head in the sand and when she got up she was
concerned that her hat was ruined. Uh, yes you can remember the university
had full parties at uh Hampton Beach and Earlton Beach and the whole
university could be there and there wasn't too many people. But it's not
that way now.
W: Did you...when you were going to all these places, were there
...were you driving your own car?
T: Well, I never drove my own car anywhere until after I got...
any distance, until after I got into 10th or llth grade at Gainesville
high school. I remember in the 10th grade and llth grade going most
any place that I chose to go, playing basketball or something with the
gang, and uh, going in a Model A, which is a 1931 model, all over the
countryside with the other fellas, and uh, it was quite an interesting
experience, there was no lack of entertainment for us, uh, and it was
all learning entertainment it seemed like and this I think is
important that you learn while you do enjoy yourself and yet you
down to when you're studying.
You edit out that bad part now.
W: Okay. What in your studying and things...what was the..
what kind of study habits did you have.
T: Well if I were candid about the thing, and being honest,
I would say that I had the poorest of study habits. I had a brother
Henry, the next younger...uh, now, Dr. Henry Turlington in Chapel Hill
and, he skipped two grades and made my high school life look very
embarrassing to me at times. He would make 100 on the final examination
in history, and I would be asking the teacher to give me two morepoints
so I could pass. Uh, it wasn't that I couldn't learn it, I just uh
had too many other activities. And then along came Ralph and Ralph
was really not too good a student in my opinion until he got out at
P.K. in friendly competition with some other guys and they did try to
excel and uh, yes, he really did a real good job of his leaning processes.
I've had to uh, get back in and work a little harder at it after I got
a little older, but, it/I hadn't been all bad; I had some experiences
they didn't have and there were some places I was reasonably knowledgeable.
W: What were the punishments like in school? If you didn't
T: Well, do you know there was no rule against using the paddle, uh,
or the belt or anything else, and the teacher could use it or the
principal either, and frankly, uh, as a school teacher at Gainesville high
school, I remember distinctly putting the paddle to one or two, and uh
we kept, generally kept a cowhide upon the blackboard for refreshing the
memory of some little individual that may choose to want to misbehave, but
I remember that after about 1950, that I never whipped one; we let
one of their peer group do it. And they always did it so well,
there was no challenging after that; they got the message.
W: What... how come they changed; why did you quit paddling?
T: Well if I were to tell you why I quit paddling, it would really
be a, a shocker to you, and I would rather, I would rather just tell you
I quit. Uh, y'know, this is really something that's hard to understand,
but everyone of you...of us has to learn how to control our disciplines,
and you really never know how well you've done that until you're under
"a real severe strain. And uh, I think that I whipped one little boy
"a little too hard, but when I told him to go call his daddy on the phone
and I'd get the principal down here, you could tell he wasn't going to
cal his daddy. And I didn't call the principal, and uh, we had an
understanding from then on I wouldn't whip anymore and he wouldn't misbehave
like that anymore, and I think it was over a, a boy, type of brother,
you might say in a way, they would...had a young, smaller boy and was
pushing his arm toward the saw blade that was moving, and it scared me
so bad that I really think I a little bit over-whipped him. And
that's when I quit. Now, I know there's two sides to this. I think that you
should do it on the spot, and I think the teacher should do it, but and
I think the teacher should be fair, and just to have the understanding...
I used to tell the boys to hold their ankles and I would refresh their
memories that they were, supposed to behave and I don't particularly
see anything wrong with that.
W: Do you think we're too lenient today?
T: Too permissive you might say? Yes and no. I think that
young people need experiences, but they need supervised experiences so
that they don't get maimed and permanently disfigured before they
get grown, but they must have these experiences in growing up, and that
means in how to handle money, how you handle the legal process so that
somebody can't put you in a very jeopardizing positionif you can't
help it% uh, with your own economics, and there are just so many things
I think that uh, uh tend to be like a pendulum on a clock, we're
either over-permissive or we just aren't permissive enough There's
no neutral, and I, I'm of the opinion that at the present time
we're a little bit too permissive. Uh, and yet, at the same time I watch
parents still restricting young people when, if they were mine I would
'git, boy, I'd love to see you go.' For instance, I'm one that tends to
believe there's no boy that's worth a toot that hasn't wanted to run away
from home by the time he's sixteen. Now I, I can't believe that, that
thought hasn't gone through his mind. Uh, and uh maybe he ought run away for
a day, and have an experience of how hard it is, because I've had 'em come
back and when they told experiences of how rough it was, they weren't ever
gonna run away again, and I think that that would influence others not to go,
but there's always gonna be some gonna run away from home, I know that. But
any girls much running away when I was growing up, and that's the
bad part of what's going on today. 'Cause see they grow up even a
little faster, and then they're that much more immature when they
get out in the world, and the world is a cruel place. It can be
deadly at times.
W: What were the clothes like when you were goingg to
T: Well, I think that uh, if I remember right, the best
dressed I ever was is the year they opened up the Newman Lake
Road and they had a big doing out at Newman's Lake. And there were 2500
people out there and I had on a pair of white suede shoes and
a pair of flannel britches and a flannel coat and a type of high-grade
hat that was made by and I don't know what you call it,
might been something, but anyway, I really looked sharp that
day, and I was every bit of fourteen. And I drove my car out there
and took my girlfriend out to see what was going on. I remember that.
Uh, yes, they dressed, I thought pretty well then, and uh haircuts,
they...there was one boy in my grade that had long hair. So you see
really nothing has changed a whole lot, just a degree.
W: Well, what did Newman's Lake look like when you went out
there that day?
T: Well, pretty much like it is now. Uh, 'cept they didn't
have all those uh commercial businesses along there. But the road was
W: How was the....was it polluted or anything?
T: Well, really not...I'm sure that Nature had left it just
like it was. And I see by the paper today that uh they need to have a
channeling of the water to suck the ... END OF SIDE ONE. (cont'd)
T: Getting back to Newman's Lake, uh, if they were to put
the channels to suck the extra water out and move some of the mud if
you want call it that and some of the fertilizers that wash off the
groves around there and pastures that create the algae, algae problem,
uh, that it might solve the problem of the uh fish that are not
edible being, now getting in extensive population, but I don't really
Newman's Lake per se is really heavily polluted. I think it could get
heavily polluted. But I think that maybe there is something into
needing a little more circulation; you know, it's a shallow lake.
W: How would you compare the fishing of now and then?
T: Well, I don't know, I, I feel that there are some places
where fishing was much better then, uh, I know that whenever people
move in the water table goes down, and I also know they have drained
many of the better fishing lakes so that they wouldhave more pasture
around the edge of the lake with no trees to clear off, and uh, I think
the fishing might have been a little better then, I remember the biggest
one we caught was a 14 lb. black bass in T and
right behind it caught another one that weighed 16 lb. Maybe you don't
get any quite that big very often, but uh, there are some good fish.
W: What about music...did you have...has there been a great change
in the music?
T: Oh, I tell you, they, the twenties were the flappers and
the music they had was real fast and real noisy but it didn't seem
noisy to me then, but/would now. And I guess the rock 'n roll of
the day, uh, if I were your age, I would feel it was not too noisy,
but when you play it around me, it might very easily be a little too
noisy. You do change.
W: What were some of the popular hits for you back then?
T: Well, I was in a play, and I had to sing the one, I was the
lead player, male, and I had to sing this song, I Don't
Want to Set the World On Fire, uh Moon Over Miami was in the '30's
I'm sure. Uh, there were many, but often slower numbers than there
were in the '20's or now. And the volume certainly didn't need to
be as great to get the message over.
W: Did you have...was there any conflict about the music
between you and your parents? The kind that you liked and the kind
that they liked?
T: Well to be honest at 6ur house, no. Uh, but, I'm sure
there were at other houses. Uh, you know I never...I don't believe
my, my pop ever told me to sing any songs any differently or
tore 'em down, maybe once or twice he'd tell me the radio was talking,
but you know the radio came in about that time too. Now, our radio
was almost as long as this couch, with a speaker on top, and it had
about 21 tubes in it, and you could get one or two stations and no
interference, oh it was just the nicest thing you've ever seen
to have a radio. And of course the ice box came in in '22 I believe,
if I remember right, and they were still cutting ice out of the lake
at Cayuga in Ithaca New York in August I was up there, and they'd run
the lake of ice, and they didn't even have anyplace to make ice, and
they were still selling coca-cola and they tried to sell me a hot one
and I said mister, you can't sell me a hot coca-cola, and he said but
we have no ice, and I said well, gee, that's bad, uh, why? He said
well we don't even have ice machines up here yet, and there have been
considerable changes haven't there?
T: And I think lack in the twenties was when the first man tried to, and did sell
tickets to the moon for a hundred dollars, round trip. And everybody said he
was crazy and he sold a lot of tickets anyway, but, you know he must not have
been totally crazy.
W: Well, I thank you very much for, for lettin' us come and talk to you and I
really appreciate it, been really interesting. Is there anything else
you might want to add?
T: Well. I, it's always a pleasure to talk to young people and I, I do, uh, get some
ideas. Now, maybe you ought to tell me some things that, uh, that the, uh,
generation gap has put in you that, uh, you think, uh, people like me would
never think, uh, fairly about. Uh, I do talk to, uh, quite a few young
people and, uh, I have surmised that part of the problem at the barber shop
is that, that, uh, many of the barbers have not chosen to, to go in and, uh,
go to school more and take new courses in styling and grooming and since they
haven't, they tend to be real slurring about their remarks to, uh, certain
individuals that, uh, dirty old hair with lice and all this in it then, certainly
were I a young person I would go back after he had insulted me a couple of
times and, uh, decided that, uh, many of the young people think that the way
they cut the hair is, is a hacking process and, uh, they don't like it done
and, uh, they want a hair stylist. Well, uh, a barber that succeeds now is
gonna have to be a hair stylist and he better face that and certain of our
I think, certain of our older persons are gonna have to, uh, adjust to the
fact that we are saying now that new grace will have to be educated three
times in your lifetime. I would choose to think not three but ten.