Title: Interview with Mrs. Henry C. Rendler (May 26, 1971)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007732/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Mrs. Henry C. Rendler (May 26, 1971)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: May 26, 1971
Subject: Gainesville High School
Spatial Coverage: 12001
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007732
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Gainesville High School' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: GHS 31

Table of Contents
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Full Text

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behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
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GH$ 31A



B: This is Debby Bowman interviewing Mrs. Rendler; Mrs. Rendler...


R: I'm 77 years old.

B: And how long have you lived in Gainesville?

R: Uh, going on ten years.

B: Okay, well, uh, where were you born, tell me something about

your town where you were born.

R: Well, I was born in New York City, but I, I didn't live down where

I was born, very long. I, my family moved to the Bronx, and I went-to

school in the Bronx, but that was way back, and uh, the Bronx was a lot
different/than it is now.

B: Well, tell me something about the schools, y'know, like from the

things you did or your teachers.

R: Well, I remember before we moved up to a little village in Westchester,

uh, I went to a larger school down in the Bronx, and uh, um, the uh teachers

were very,um, patient and had a lot of um, had a lot of uh fun with the children,

we played games and sang songs and I remember one time I had to go to the

assembly where the grown-up children were, and sing a song with the little

and we had one of our daddy's handkerchiefs and they made knots in each

corner and made a cap and we were the waves dancing on the...

B: Oh, wow.

R: ...the sea. Then we moved to the, uh, Westchester village where I

went through school, and uh, that was uh, more or less like a country school,

although it was a red brick building, a large building, but uh, we had up to

t he 8th grade and then you graduated into high school. And um, it hap-...

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so happened that uh, I was valedictorian of my class so I, I uh, went to

normal college after I graduated, I happened to pass the exams, and uh, I

went to normal college. It has since changed; now it's uh, Hunter College

in New York. But uh, I travelled from Westchester then down to Hunter

College, each day.

B: At your school did you have, y'know this little country one you're

talking about, did you have to drink out of water they went out and got;

did you have a little stove to keep you warm in the winter or what?

R: No, it wasn't that sort; no, it wasn't quite that countrified, but uh,

all the classes were in the one building, and uh, um I don't remember too much

about water, but I do know that we had um, uh facilities in the building; it

wasn't like a regular old-fashioned country, uh, school, where they had

wells and such; we did have running water in the building.

B: Well, uh, a lot of people talk about their old times in school, like um,

their, you know, they'll talk about dipping pigtails in ink or something...

R: Mmhmm.

B: ...uh, do you remember like, one of your first uh, well what do you

want to call it, boyfriends, or something...how, how you showed each other

you liked each other, or uh...

R: Well, frankly, I never had...was too much interested in boys...

B: (laugh).

R: ...I was a book worm, and I wasn't hooked, and uh I do know when I

first went to that,uh, school in the Bronx, uh some little boy must have

had a crush on me, and he came and brought me a bunch of flowers...I was

only there just a couple of days, and I didn't know what to do with them, so

I stuffed them in my desk, then I brought them home in the afternoon to my

mother and I said well, I don't know what these are for, but I said, I...

page 3


I don't remember the little boys name, but I said he brought them to me, and, and

insisted that I keep them. But uh, I don't remember the boy after that...I don't

know, he probably got discouraged because I just wasn't interested in boys at all.

B: Well uh, did you work when you got out of school, or did you work at

any jobs during that time?

R: No, no, in those days we didn't have jobs after school; un uh.

B: What about when you started college?

R: Well, no, see I had quite a long distance to travel; I went on the

subway and the streetcar to get to the college, and the college was getting

so terribly crowded that we were put in, what they called annexes, sometimes

some of the school buildings around New York City would have an extra room or

two, and they'd put a couple of the classes from the college in these rooms,

and we would have to travel on the subway to get to these places.

B: Uh, do you remember of any of your friends working, how much it...

y'know, they get paid an hour, compared to now, you know, uh?

R: I really wouldn't know. I really don't recall that. In those days

we didn't think about the hours, we thought about the weekly salary, that was

it, you know...

B: Yea.

R: ...we didn't think of the hours or the number of hours.

B: Well, okay.

R: I remember the first job I had...I worked for the Consolidated Gas Company

in New York City, and uh, I had uh, relative from the family that lived...that

worked in this office, and she was uh, going on a vacation, and they wanted to

get somebody in there to take her place while she was gone. And they asked me

outcome in. I was going to a business school at the time. And uh, I came in and uh

she showed me what to do, I mean I worked with her for a few days, and then she

page 4

GH, 31A

went away, and I had to take over, and I was scared to death, and uh, uh, that uh,

because I only worked half a day, I only got ten dollars a week.

B: Oh (laugh).

R: But, but uh, but uh, as I uh, as I progressed, why, the salary went

up a little bit each yar, they'd give you a little advance. But those

days, we were glad to get ten dollars. (laugh)

B: (laugh) Yea, right. Well, like, back in those days when it came

to uh your parents, and restrictions they put on you, like dating or something

like that, uh, hw different was it then, I mean, like did you have to be in,

like ten, or what?

R: Definitely, definitely. Well, of course, while I was going to

school, I didn't have...go out at all. I had several girlfriends that

were in the neighborhood, as I say I never was too much for going out with
boys; in fact, we just didn't do that, but the girls used to go out/weekends

we'd go to the park or we'd take long walks, do things together on weekends.

We didn't even have automobiles in those days.

B: (Laugh).

R: But uh, later on after I went to business, then I was allowed some

freedom; I would go out um, to um a show, in those days we had vaudeville
shows,/to the theater where they had plays; I can remember being um,

Morette Taylor in um, oh, dear, what is the...where she flys around in the

air, y'know...

B: Uh, Mary Poppins?

R: No,dear, no.

B: (laugh).

R: It was Peter Pan.

B: Peter Pan, oh yes. (I don't even that show that.)

page 5


R: Mmhmm.

B: Yea, well, what time would you have to be in then, do you remember?

R: Well, um...

B: Did you have a certain time?

R: There was no special time, except I was supposed to come home right

after the show; I wasn't supposed to stay out after the show. But see, we were,

we were handicapped because we always had to travel on the subway or the

trolley, because I lived in this little village, which was not built up and

didn't have too much in the way of uh travel.

B: Well, uh, then if you're, y'know, like uh, kinda that far away, what

were some of things you did, you know, for fun, the kids, games or, you know

like uh, throwing beans or things like that; did you have those?

R: Well, we used to, we used to uh sew together; I had one special

girlfriend that um, had a machine and we used to make a lot of our clothes;

we got a lot of fun out of that because we were quite a lot alike and we

...everybody called us the sisters because we looked alike and we usually

dressed alike, or similarly, so that we looked like twins. And um, uh, there

were a couple of other girls who were neighbors who lived in adjoining houses

and the four of us used to go around together and, as I say, on weekends we'd

uh, take walks, hikes, and uh, uh, I don't mean, real ambitious walks, but

just around the...it was country, and we'd just walk around the country.

B: Oh, okay, let's see...Oh, about the clothes, then, what do you think

about like y'know, the long dresses and everything, then what do you think

about them coming back now? Y'know, like girls wearing long dresses or real

short skirts or...

R: Well, I think um, young girls look wonderful in short skirts...

B: (laugh), wow.

page 6


R: I really enjoy them, I do. And uh, I think that if they care about wearing

the longer ones,, why, that's up to them, I think as long as they feel

comfortable why that's what they should wear. I think modern times, at least

these times, people shouldn't have to stick to one fashion if they don't care

a bout it.

B: Yea.

R: I won't tell you what I think about the older women in the short


B: (Laugh). Yea, I can see that.

R: (laugh)

B: Well, uh, well, back in, when you're in your town when you were a little

younger, uh, how did they have their meetings; did they have like town meetings,

or where they met in a building, everybody, or did they vote for their mayor...?

R: Well, this section had, this sectio+ad uh, only, just shortly before

we moved there been um taken in by the city of New York, in the burrough of

the Bronx, so that we really had part of the county government in our little

town, 'cause it had been the county seat, and we still had theold county

court house, but it also had cityolice and uh, uh city government, part of

the city government too. So, that uh, it wasn't like a country village-that was

entirely isolated; we were part of the city, actually.

B: Well, did you have a lot of trouble, I mean, during that time, you know

like, I guess lately you've had a lot...

R: No, in those days, I don't remember anything like that, not at all.

B: Um, as you got a little older, like uh, when you first met your husband,

how did you meet him? What happened?

R: Well, I told you I worked for the Consolidated Gas Company, and I wa s in

an office downtown New York on Irving Place, and this wasn't a very nice

page 7


neighborhood, and, and the girls that I ate lunch with, uh, and I used to

walk quite a distance to go to eat lunch. Sometimes we'd go down to

Wanamakers, or sometimes we'd go up around 23rd Street, and this meant

quite a long walk for us. So one time my daddy was talking to me about

a little German restaurant that he and some friends used to go to when

they came down to New York on business. And he said, why don't you try

this little restaurant. So uh, one day, I got my nerve up and I

dragged one of my girlfriends in with me, and uh, we sat over in a

corner on the side and uh, um it was a very nice place, they had a...

it wasn't fancy, but it was run by a German family, and they had, in

the rear of it they had apiano and there were drums and evidently -at...

in the evenings when people came to dinner, they may have had music, of

course we were there in, at noon time, and uh, there were people that

came in there that evidently uh, uh knew the proprietor and had the same

tables every day, and my girlfriend and I enjoyed the first time we went

in there and I, uh, we said well we'd come back. We went in there a couple

of times and noticed that the same people kept coming back all the time,

just seemed more or less like a family affair. And uh, we got a kick out

of it, we got a kick out of it. (Forgot?) Anyway, um, um, around this

center table, a group of tables, there were a number of men who came in

every day, and um, they knew each othbr real well, and uh, couple of them

I believe were travelling men, and weren't always able to come in. But uh,

several of those that uh were regulars got to know us. And uh, my girlfriend

didn't care much, too much about the German cooking, so I decided I would

go alone. And uh, through that I met my husband who was one of these men that

sat around this table. And after I had, we had talked, they,..when there 'd

be a vacancy at their table, they'd call me over and ask me to sit at their

page 8


table with them. So then he'd walk me back to my office, and then uh, with that

uh, we became more friendly and uh, he asked me whether I would go out wit h

him, on a weekend, um I don't know whether it was Saturday or Sunday.

Well I said uh, can I ask my girlfriend? And he said sure, so I asked my

particular girlfriend from Westchester whether she would like to come, and

she asked her friend. So there were four of us that went together. I don't

remember just what we did; I think we went to Coney Island the first time, and uh,

then uh:. later on, my, uh husband, my friend, asked whether we wouldn't like

to go out, he had a friend who was a travelling man who had been on trip down

south and he-met a girl from Fort Smith, Arkansas, whom harried and brought

up to New York. Well, she was so strange; she didn't know a soul in New York

except his family, and of course they went into an apartment by themselves

so she was stranded, and uh, my husband asked, my friend asked me if I wouldn't

go to see this, uh, Jenny, because she was so lonesome; her husband was, had

to go off on trips, of course, and he was afraid that she would really want to

go back home, wouldn't want to stay. So uh, my girlfriend and I went to see

Jenny several times, and then when Jack came back from his travelling trip,

the six of us went out together. And uh, in those days, they had trips that

went from New York City up the Hudson, and I can remember the first time we

went out together, we went out on one of these boat rides up the Hudson and

then came back, and we had a lot of fun, because Jack was very lively, he

was a sort of a dry wit and uh, he was full of the dickens; his wife was

a beautiful girl, and a little on the plumpish side, but she was a very, very

sweet girl, and we felt so sorry for her because we knew she was terribly

lonesome. So we got to see quite a lot of her, and as my husband, as my

boyfriend and I got to know each other better, why, we became engaged and then

later got married, and uh, the six of us, still kept doing things together,

page 9


although my girlfriend only got married after I did, the one from Westchester, but

uh, we had a lot of fun together and used to do a lot of things together.

B: Well, how long were you, uh...how long did you know your husband before

you got married?

R: Oh, let me see, must have been, oh, over two years. But um, we uh,

shortly after we were married, um, he had to go to Arizona, and uh, we left...

we went to Chicago and spent a couple of nights, a couple of days with uh

some friends of his, who had been in New York formerly, but uh, had moved

to Chicago, and uh, they took us on a trip down around the GreatLakes, the um

Lake Michigan, and uh, we camped...not camped, we picnicked on the way,

and then came back that second night, and then um, we made up, we got the

train and went on down to Phoenix, Arizona, and we spent about six months

in Arizona. And while we were there, we went to see a friend of uh, my

husband's mother, who had come from Switzerland on the same boat my husband's

mother some years before, and she was going to meet her sweetheart who had

a homestead out in the, the real desert outside of Phoenix. And we went

dowh to see her, and they lived in a...well, you couldn't call it a building,

it was more like a tent, uh, enclosed with uh, wooden frame, but it was

nothing but uh, looked like bagging around the outside and then, and then the

netting on the top. And he was telling...this man was telling us when he

first went there, when he came to the United States...he was also from

Switzerland...he said uh, he went out there...he decided he was going to

Homestead, and if they lived and worked the land for a certain length of

time, it's theirs, so he had 160 acres, he had been there for several years,

and uh, he had sent for his sweetheart, and she came. She didn't know what

she was getting into, of course, and they had three children, and uh, there

were two boys. One was about 6, I would imagine, the next one 4, and they

page 10


had a little girl about 1-1/2 old; she was a darling little baby, who

still writes to me, by the way. And keeps in touch. But uh, we went out

there several times to see them, and one time he asked...he wanted to

treat us, andhe asked whether we ate watermelon. Oh, watermelon, we said,

you don't have watermelon out here; this was in the Fall, really towards

Winter. He said, well I happen to have one, he said, that I've been saving.

They had no refrigeration, but he had kept it under the house, and uh, he

cut that watermelon and it was the sweetest thing...it wasn't very large,
not like we get/here in Florida, but it was a watermelon, and to think that

it was grown in the desert in a climate that had no, no water...the only

water they got was if a (some) shower should come, or if some water flows

down from the mountain range that was way off in the distance, I don't know

how many miles, but they said sometimes water did come through, from down,

from this rain, come down through the, um, desert, and uh, they were not too

far from the Grand Canal that supplied the water, irrigation in Phoenix way.

But see, it didn't flow up their way. They couldn't get it their way. So uh,

it was just so near and yet so far, because they couldn't have it; they couldn't

use it. But um, he worked very hard, anhe had a number of other children afterwards,

but both those two boys lost their lives in the Grand Canal when they went in to

swim. The one was just a child when he died, and the younger boy had gone all

t he way home, instead of trying to get help near by. He had run all the way

home to try to find somebody to help the brother, who was in the water. And of

course the child was drowned. And um, this younger one, was a grown young man...
he was in his twenties, and he dove practically in the same region,/same area

of the Grand Canal, and he lost his life too.

B: Oh, my father one time at school, and they went down to a big thing

like that, to swim in, and they dove off a cliff and the were

page 11


so rocky, y'know, to because the rock's really big.

But uh, you were talking about the watermelons, do you remember

the kids, or the guys talking about stealing watermelons, or do you...

or did they do that then?

R: Oh, I was, I spent a vacation with some who, some of my family

who lived on, out on Long Island one time, and there was a farmer near

by that, well it was really the father of one of these youngsters that was

in the, the crowd that was sitting around my aunt's porch, and uh,

it was evening, it was getting dark, and the...one boy said, oh, let's have

some watermelon. And I said, oh, how are you going to get it? He says,

I know how to get it, he says, I know where some good ones are. So, I

think it was the son of the farmer. So, he went out and he came...he and

the other boy came back and they each had a nice big watermelon. Of

course there was a real crowd around. My aunt had a number of children,

and I was a visitor, and there were several other visitors from the

neighborhood, so we really had...we really had a lot of fun, and uh,
I didn't, I didn't/steal it, but I helped eat it. (laugh)

B: (laugh) Did he get caught?

R: No, no, no. They had plenty of them, so I don't think it,

unless the father said something to him, y'know, outside, but I mean,

we didn't know anything about that, he didn't tellus.

B: What about Halloween; do you remember some of the tricks they'd

play on people during Halloween.

R: I don't remember Halloween so much in those days, to tell you

the truth. I don't remember that we made so much of it as, you know,

as they have in more recent years.

B: Oh.

R: Thanksgiving was a time when the youngsters used to dress up and

page 12


go around and go from door to door, but uh, Halloween they didn't do very

much in those days.

B: What about for Christmas, did you, did you have your fireplace

or anything, or did you, or uh, did you have your, y'know, the tree and uh...

R: We always had a tree, I can remember the first Christmas I can

remember. Uh, I don't remember whether we had a tree, but I was...must have

beenonly a baby, but I can remember my mother had dressed a doll for me, and

my father came in, he was so anxious for me to see that...there must have

been a tree...see what Santa Claus had brought. It woke me up, and I was

so pesty, I wouldn't look. (laugh) Well, I've been reminded of that many

many times through the years. But then I can remember the, the first one

I really remember, is a tree that, uh, was sat in the corner of a room,

in the living room, and my mother's younger sister, who was like a big

sister to me, uh, used to come and stay with us, and she was with us at

this time, and we all took hands and we sang songs around the Christmas

tree, and uh, one of my aunts was there who used to sing, used to talk
in German and she/sing' some of the German Christmas songs. But I can...

and that, that tree had candles on it, and my mother was scared to death

for fear the tree would go over or we'd tip one of the candles over.

B: You made your own decorations?

R: I don't remember the decorations, really. I really don't

remember. I think I used to make these rings, the chains, out of papers.

B: Yea. and popcorn?

R: Mmm.

B: Did you do that?

R: No, I don't remember popcorn.

page 13


B: It snowed up there, didn't...right?

R: Yes, oh yes, uh huh.

B: Did y'all, y'know, go skiing a lot, or sledding?

R: No skiing in those days, no, but we used to do a lot of


B: And then...

R: ...and uh, when I lived in Westchester, we had some wonderful

little places where there were hills and the hills went off into the,

what we used to call the um, well, it wasn't woods and it wasn't swamp,

exactly, but it went down a long, and there were some nice bumps in

between, you know, and the boys used tojust love that. I had a couple

of brothers that grew up with me, and they just used to love that.

B: Well, you said you lived in Gainesville about 10 years. Um,

have you noticed any real great changes, that happened during the time

that you lived here?

R: The only changes, real changes that I've noticed is that it's

grown so, in fact, I've known Gainesville now for over 20 years, going

on 23 I guess, 24, but uh, it has grown tremendously, I can remember when

University Avenue had the park-like center all along the way, and up

and d own on both sides was this park. Of course, they needed the room

for the traffic, so that was all done away with. All I can say is, it

certainly has grown.

B: Well, okay, um, this report we're doing is kinda on the

good life. If you had a chance um, to do anything you wanted to do, or

live wherever you wanted to, you know, as a good life for you, where would

this be? Or, now what would you like to do? Just for your good life;

something you'd really like to do.

page 14


R: Mmhmm. Well, of course, I'm rather old to be thinking about

changes, but uh, I, I think no matter where you live, you can have a good

life for yourself, and uh, I would want to be where my family were, that

would make a good life for me. And uh, I think, they tell me the North

has changed a great deal, so I don't know whether I would want to go back

there, I think I would just as leave stay where I am, and be near my


B: If you had a chance to travel anywhere, where would you go?

Anyplace you could visit?

R: I think I would like to go around the United States. See more

of the United States.

B: Well, okay, um, guess that's all. Thank you very much.

R: Well, you're very welcome, very welcome. I hope I've helped

you some, that's all.


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