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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
SUBJECT: MR. W.O. MERCHANT (M)
I: ...and I am interviewing Mr. W.O. Marchant, age 53, Box 373,
Archer Strada. He's a cattle farmer, and he's livedin Alachua County
since 1926. Today is June 1, 1971.
Mr. Marchant where were you born at?
M: In Georgia.
I: Where in Georgia?
M: In Bayleaf, Georgia.
1: Did you go to school...did you live in Georgia a long time, or did
you come to Florida, then?
M: I lived in Florida all my life.
I: Yea, how...where did you go to school, in Florida?
M: Micanopy, Archer, and South Carolina.
I: Well, which one was your elementary school?
M: Micanopy and Archer.
I: Did you like them?
I: How many hours did you go to school when you were in elementary
M: From 8 til 3:30.
I: And then when you got...where did you go to high school?
M: In South Carolina.
I: How long did you go, how many hours there?
M: Uh, five hours about.
I: Did you go to college after high school?
M: Un uh.
I: What did you usually wear: to school?
M: We wore clothes.
I: Like what kind of clothes?
M: High school or elementary?
M: It was overalls and shirts to elementary school, and then in
high school we wore, we wore nice clothes.
I: Uh huh.
M: Just regular, dungarees and shirtsand sometimes bare feet.
I: Do you remember any of your teachers? That you liked particularly?
M: Yes, I liked Miss Worth and Miss R ...
I: Uh huh.
M: and Miss T
I: Was there a teacher, was there a teacher that you didn't get along
with at all, that was kinda old or something like that?
M: Not very much, maybe one.
I: Uh huh, like...
M: Miss Dudley.
I: Did you get in trouble/ lot at school, or were you a pretty good
M: Not too much, I got a whipping about once a day.
I: How large a family did you have, how many children?
M: Five. Well three kids and mama and papa.
I: Did you get along well with your family?
M: Oh yea, we got along fine.
I: Did you share your personal belongings, like your clothes and things?
M: We did.
I: Did you have any specific duties that was assigned to you?
M: At home? Yes. We had to bring in wood, water, and uh keep the yard
clean, keep our room clean too.
I: Were there any duties that you didn't like at all ?
M: This was, this was at night-time. I worked during the day
when school was out during the summer.
I: Uh huh.
M: I worked with my, worked with my dad all during the summer.
I: What did you do?
M: He was in the turpentine, saw mill business. And we worked all
during the work hours and then at night we'd come in and do all the chores
and uh, everything that had to be done, well we had to do it.
I: Who were you always told you resembledmost, your mother or your
M: My mother.
I: Did you like that very much?
M: No. No, I liked, I liked my father the best, so...
I: Did you have any, any dogs or any kind of strange pet?
M: No, nothing but billy goats and cats and my sister had a dog.
I: Uh huh. Did you attend services regularly on Sunday?
M: Every Sunday.
I: At what time were the services?
M: Sunday school was at ten, and uh, regular church service at 11.
I: Did you always sit with your family in church?
M: Every day.
I: Did lots of people fall asleep in church?
M: Me too (laugh). Yea, I fell asleep in church also. But not
the grown folks, just the kids. the sermon was kinda dry and boring,
and we's ready to get out of church and go swimming.
I: Was there any kind, type of nursery with, to keep the children in?
M: No nursery, un uh. No, they just, the mother and daddy carried
all the kids around/up in the aisles of the church, and they had
church, and there was no one to keep the kids.
I: Did you date much when you were younger?
M: Sure. There was a lot of pretty girls then.
I: Was there? How old were you when you started dating?
M: About 12, 14.
I: Did you have a steady girlfriend?
M: Oh yes. But she wasn't real steady, y'know. There were, there were
lots of girls to date then.
I: About how many times do you think you were in love?
M: All the time, every day. We just loved the girls all the time.
I: How long...when did you...when were you married?
I: How didyou meet your wife?
M: I was with a buddy of mine at Rainbow Springs, and uh,/were
off on an outing, a picnic, go swimming...
I: Uh huh.
M: Trip with a whole lot of school kids marching, and uh, I met
I: Did you knew you loved her right off?
M: Oh no, I just, she was just a girl, and uh, I had a chance to ride
home with her, me and my buddy, he found his girl out there
I: Did he marry the person that he met out there?
M: No, no, he didn't marry her. I made the mistake of marrying mine.
I: What did you do on special events, like um, prom and graduation and
special dances and things like that?
M: Oh, we went to all kinds of We uh, we got dressed up
maybe a week or two before, and made big things for it, and then uh, the night
of the big dance, why, we just had a lot of fun.
I: Did you go to all the proms in high school? Every...was there a
prom every year?
M: No, un uh. You see, it, it was, it's different, it was different
then as it is now. We'd have a, a junior-senior prom, and that was once
a year, and that was the big thing, you know, it's a...'cause we didn't have a...
I don't know why we didn't have 'em, but we just didn't have things like
you're having it today.
I: How long was considered late stay out? at night?
M: Twelve o'clock.
I: What did you...when you went on a date, where did you usually go?
M: We'd, we'd go to, we'd to to the movies, or we'd go to someplace
where they had um, what we called a and we would uh, dance
and uh, and everything.
I: Did you every bring a girl home real late and get in trouble?
M: Un uh, no.
I: You were always on time, huh?
I: Um, how long have you been driving?
M: Uh, since uh, 1932.
I: Do you remember the first kind of car you drove?
M: Yea. A model T.
I: What color was it?
M: Oh, it was a, it was a Model T pick-up that my Dad gave me
transportation, I wanted it for,
to get the engine out of it, to run a power saw that I had. They were
easy to get a hold of, and the transportation you didn't need too much,
but/'cause nobody went anywhere, there weren't too many places to go
except into town.
I: Did you ever have to take a driver's test? Or did you not get your
license...did you have?
M: We didn't know what a driver's test was...
I: Oh, you didn't have a license or anything?
M: No, you could drive, you could drive with...if you were old enough
to drive a car, well you drive the car. So the Model T, Model A, the Model A's
came out after the Model T's.
I: Mmm. What kind of, like what kind of fuel did it run on?
M: On gasoline.
I: How much did it cost then.
M: The gasoline? Uh, 16, 17 a gallon. And, and no more.
I: Did you drive everywhere you went?
M: You mean my own car?
I: Yea, ...
M: See, I didn't really have a car. We had this Model T pick-up, and uh,
and my brother had a tan Model T car that we always used to go swimming
in after school. And uh, we didn't go too many places. So, the Model T
wouldn't take us too far, we had to change too many flat tires.
I: Did you ever have...have you ever gotten a ticket driving?
M: No,we wasn't even near/in the highways, because
I: Did you ever have a wreck?
M: Never go fast enough to have wreck. There, there was a man,
there was a man who had a Model T car, and he
spruced it up, real high-powered car, I mean to fly, and it would getup
to 30 miles an hour, that's the fastest thing
(laugh). That was called a race car. Didn't have too many policemen
because in a little town like Alachua or Wilson or
we didn't have any use for policemen, but now when you come to Gainesville,
they had city policemen, but they didn't bother you, there wasn't many
policemen there. It was, didn't...there was no reason for a police to
you for stealing not until after, after World
War II, I think there was a soldier out here who was stopped for stealing
and give you a ticket for 3 dollars.
M: the whole thing?
M: Well they had a foot-walking cop, you know they didn't have a motorcycle,
and they didn't have a car. And uh, we had this little old Model T pick-up and
we'd go by him with the lights off at night, and, and tease him with the lights
off and he'd holler, stand/stay and holler at us, and we'd stop. He didn't have
a whistle. And we'd stop and he'd go and give us a ticket for no license,
and we had the license .
I: He was just stopping you.
M: Yes. So,
I: How long have you lived in Alachua County?
M: Well, golly, I don't really know because I lived in County
for awhile. Um, about twenty years.
I: Did you like it when you came here?
M: Well, I didn't have any choice; I had to stay with my mother and my
dad while I was growing.
I: What time did they consider grown?
M: Well, when you was 18 years old, you had to leave home, or you
start making you own living, whether you got married or whether you
I: What was your, what was you first house you lived here in Alachua County;
w hat was it like?
M: Well, at the time, little bit, was propped up, didn't have
a ceiling and painted; did have floors.
I: Didn't have a ceiling in it?
M: And it had glass and no ceiling and it had, uh, electric
lights with a cord hanging from the ceiling with a teardrop looking bulb in it
for alight bulb. And the lights went off at ten o'clock!
I: At night?
M: Yea, you had to get all your business before ten o'clock, 'cause
they turned them off.
I: Who turned 'em off?
M: The power plant turned 'em off!
I: The power plant?
M: Yea. That was a big city office.
I: About what was the population, do you remember, in um, Gainesville when
I: ; I guess it was about uh 16, 17,000,
I think in the early '30's, but I'm not sure about that.
I: did you come over here shopping on special days, or did
your family come over here?
M: Yea, we'd come over, we'd come over on Saturdays to do our shopping.
I: When you, when you went shopping did you, like grocery shopping,
did you buy quantities of food or just what you needed, y'know?
M: We'd buy just what we needed, we had local stores close by we
could buy what we needed or come to Gainesville on
Saturday, get ice cream, popcorn and sit-and watch the cars go by.
The food that we had then is just about like they are now, they just
were packaged different.
I: Was it, what was your favorite food?
M: Well, golly, we lived on a farm, we didn't have any...
I: Everything was fresh, in other words, instead of packaged?
M: Yea, all our, all our food we grew, just about, and uh, our
we'd buy at the store, and all the paper things we'd buy at the
store, like/and salt and pepper.
M: We even made homemade ice cream.
(3rd person: .)
I: Did you work anywhere?
M: I worked with my father, yea.
I: About() how long did you work in a day?
M: From, from uh, sun-up until sundown, and then after night I did all
these chores I was telling you about earlier.
M: Did most of that at night.
I: When you came over here and you went grocery shopping, what, what
grocery store, do you remember, what were the stores like over here?
M: They had, uh, they had stores that was, uh, I guess you could call
them modern stores, like the A & P store, and they had what we called
open air fruit markets, where you could buy your fruits and vegetables.
M: Of course we didn't have the modern supermarkets like they've got
today. They were pretty nice.
I: Mmmhmm. But where did they, where did your mom, parents buy your
clothes from that you wore?
I: Everything you wore ?
M: Yea, overalls and shoes, and other things like that there.
I: What kind of food did you like the best that your mom cooked?
Like cakes or anything like that?
M: Oh, I can't really...I loved, everything was good to me
but uh, I favorite pie was blackberry pie that she would make and uh,
I guess my favorite cake was an upside pineapple cake.
M: I guess she always had good food; everything tasted good.
I: Mmhm. What kind of housekeeping utilities did you...was your house...
like washing machine, or whatever?
M: Oh, golly, no, we had uh, we had uh, peopleout from the turpentine
place to come up and do the washing. We didn't have, we didn't have a,
a washing machine, or a dryer; all the washing was done by hand and all of the
clothes were ironed by hand, and just everything about the house was always done
by hand. There were no electrical appliances or anything, that's...and so um
ten or twelve years old I guess the, they uh, uh, the
refrigerator come out, and one of those
M: And so, things weren't really too bad, but it just wasn't as convenient
as it is today.
M: You couldn't like you do now,
you kinda had to work a little bit to do it.
I: What do you consider to be the good life?
M: Uh, good life? I consider uh all my childhood days as a good life,
right up until I began to assume responsibility myself, and it didn't
seem quite so different.
M: I thought that was a good life.
I: You thought...
M: It...it seems a little rough, and it seems hard, but it really wasn't
I: Not,...in other words, your adulthood doesn't seem to be the good
life to you?
M: Oh, no, not like my childhood days, no. Because we didn't have
the responsibility that we've got now.
M: We uh, things seemed to come real easily; we didn't worry about where
it was coming from, it was just there.
M: Uh, we always had plenty of good food to eat and a place
I: Well, thank you very much.
END OF INTERVIEW.