• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Cover
 Interview







PAGE 1

DIVISION OF FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL 50TH ANNIVERSARY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT Interview with Mary Alice Stapler Employed with FHP Interviewed by Lieutenant Charles Williams Date Interviewed March 23, 1989 1



PAGE 1

CW: This is March 23rd, 1989. The interview is being conducted with Ms. Mary Alice Stapler former secretary with the Highway Patrol. This is Chuck Williams. We are at the Highway Patrol station in Orlando at 5200 East Colonial Drive and the time is 11:40 a.m. Mary Alice as you know the Highway Patrol is fixing to celebrate its 50th anniversary and we are doing what they call an oral history program. We are trying to interview some retired members of the Patrol both in the sworn and non-sworn position and try to get some historical events that may not have been recorded officially. Just your feeling about the Patrol when you started with it and this will in turn be put in the archives in the Florida Highway Patrol at the Academy and also at the University of Florida state historical archives which they are the university that collects all the history of Florida in the past and so forth. We have had a pretty colorful history with the Patrol from time to time. First of all give me your complete name. MAS: Mary Alice Stapler. CW: Mary Alice Stapler. When did you start with the Patrol Mary Alice? 2



PAGE 1

MAS: 1957 in February of 57. CW: In Orlando? MAS: In Orlando. CW: Are you a native of Orlando? MAS: No. CW: Where are you from originally? MAS: Schooled in Leesburg. Born in south Georgia. CW: What part of Georgia? MAS: Valdosta. CW: Valdosta. When did you move to Florida? MAS: Well, it was almost as an infant and like I said in Leesburg is where I had the twelve years of high school and I went to work for the State Board of Health. I had 14 years with them and I had 25 years with the Florida Highway Patrol when I retired in 1984 with better than 39 years with state service. 3



PAGE 1

4 i CW: What was your position at the time of your retirement? MAS: I presume I was a secretary. I was with Troop D at the time of retirement but most of my work time was with Troop I the weight division and saw it grow from very small with one clerical employee and Colonel Kirkman's brother was doing clerical work with me. Ward Kirkman. CW: Why did you join the Patrol? Looking for a good retirement system or did you know somebody in the Patrol which kind of got you interested? MAS: I was working with wife of Captain Brasell at the Orange County Health Department and she mentioned that a job had opened here in the Patrol. He was a Captain which was the commander, was the commander's rank at the time of Troop I and I just decided to make a switch in employment from one state agency to another without any interruption in service. CW: Troop I was the weights division and it was upstairs here. MAS: Well when I began here it was in one room just slightly down the road from here and then they built the little building that is in the back here that I don't know how it is occupied now. Its a nice little building. I remember the price of the building was $20,000.00 and it was a one floor building strong enough to hold a second floor if it should be needed 4



PAGE 1

CW: Where the driver license people used to be or is it that little barn on (unk)... MAS: No, it is a low flat long building. I don't know what you are using it for now but it was a very nice building. CW: Weights division. Was this the state headquarters for the weights division? MAS: The headquarters for all over the state. The portable scales men and the troopers at the weigh station...of course better history can be gotten from some of the men who were working there but we went as far as Key West to Pensacola. It was state headquarters. CW: You had the same rank structure. MAS: The same rank structure and those men were also used for traffic detail if it was necessary. They had the same rank and the same authority as any other troopers who were on the road. There were 2 lieutenants and a captain made up the rank part of it and then of course there were first sergeants. First Sergeant Hunter... CW: Who was the Captain? MAS: I came here with Captain Brasell. 5



PAGE 1

CW: What was his first name? MAS: It was L. W. Brasell. CW: L. W. Brasell. MAS: I had an interruption of service of about two years when I went to work for Lawyer's Title that would not do to go into but when I came back to work I worked for Captain R. C. Webb for about six months and then Captain Valton Sheffield came in. When he left if I am not very much mistaken Captain Jack King came from Tallahassee to Orlando and he had been in Investigations and became Captain. This was not his first experience with the weight division because he had been a trooper here. John Polk, Sheriff of Seminole County was a trooper in the weight division. Davis, David Davis who is in Investigations now was a trooper here. It was Lieutenant Jordan and Lieutenant Brackins who were District Commanders. One had one part of the state from Orlando north Lieutenant Brackins; and Lieutenant Jordan had the southern part of the state. There was a good deal of comradery in that particular troop. CW: You had a First Sergeant here also. MAS: William K. Hunter. 6



PAGE 1

CW: William K. Hunter. He ultimately retired back to Tallahassee? MAS: Yes. CW: Did you kind of work with the other secretaries in the Troop D operation or was it more or less isolated? MAS: We were more or less isolated other than perhaps to relieve on the switchboard. Another kind of interesting point when I came to work out here in 1957 there were two clerical employees in the traffic and at lunchtime one or the other of those girls relieved in the radio room. It was that type of an operation. CW: Orlando 1957. Describe Orlando in 1957. Different from what it is today I guess. MAS: It certainly was. It was a lot slower moving. We didn't have the shopping malls within miles of this station and things like that. To go really back to it, in the little building, if we didn't bring our lunch there was a little filling station affair across the road. If you wanted to make a sandwich you had to get three slices of meat because the first one was going to be dried out. CW: One of the earlier delis huh? 7



PAGE 1

MAS: Yes. CW: I guess State Road 50 was what two lane then? MAS: As best I can remember. CW: Was the station here at this location? MAS: When I came it was right on the other side of where Curcuit City is and I believe you still have the building back there that was traffic office. It was small, very small and then about six months after I came to work here or maybe a little less they built this other building for the weight division. We were still in the same lot but we would walk 50 feet or so from one building to the other. CW: You were here when they built the two story job we are in now I guess? MAS: Yes and when they moved those two buildings they pulled them through the field down here to this location. It was a joint venture with the Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol. We occupied the second floor, the entire second floor. CW: How many troopers were assigned to the weight division when you first came? Do you recall? 8



PAGE 1

MAS: I don't know. The first history of the Patrol that I recall does....the files were researched and we went down the line with who was the Captain and the number of troopers. Then until tthe time when it was not all troopers but they took in weight inspectors who were nonuniformed personnel. And of course that did reduce the uniform personnel who were in the weight division because uniform people were manning the scale houses and to go back just a little bit after Captain King came in the weight division when he left and became the Captain of Troop D which I guess now carries the rank of Major then Captain Edlin came from MVI which had suffered the same fate that the weight division did. Of course the weight division went into the Public Service Commission employees. CW: When we absorbed the civilian weight inspectors didn't they put them in the scale houses so they could put our people back out on the road? MAS: Well we didn't....Highway Patrol did not absorb the weight division but they absorbed some of the employees but Public Service Commission absorbed the weight division using their own employees and retaining most weight inspectors but no troopers or clerical personnel. CW: The troopers working the portable scales I guess you had to keep track of all their activity and so forth? 9



PAGE 1

MAS: The bookkeeping system was a little obsolete but it had been set up by a state auditor and it had perfect check and balances. The weight inspectors, and troopers, were fund collectors, some in cash, some in checks but there was no way with the checks and balances that one dollar of that money could be held up over a certain period of time but of course they did sign a statement of how they would handle it and how many days they had to get it to the Orlando office. Cash collected was converted into money orders. CW: I guess you were audited quite regularly? MAS: Yes, very frequently and we would be audited with one auditor here in the Orlando office and one auditor out at the scale house checking against each other and ..... CW: What was the overweight penalty back then? MAS: I don't know what it is nowbut I imagine it stayed at five cents a pound above the allowable weight and that could amount to as much as five and six thousands dollars fine on a single load of heavy equipment. CW: You handled a lot of money in and out of here then didn't you? 10



PAGE 1

MAS: Yes we did. I don't want to give any information that I am not sure of but I believe we were to about three million dollars a year when we went down. There were dedicated men working and there was strong leadership. CW: I guess you were....Disney had come in before you retired didn't it? MAS: I have been retired for a little better than four years now. CW: Goodness time goes by fast, doesn't it? MAS: Well the Highway Patrol was good to me I have no fault to find. I did work in traffic and I don't really remember quite how long it was because most of my time was in weight division. When you take 25 years well that's a long time and if I worked in traffic two years that would still be a short part of my time. CW: When the weight division was transferred to another authority, what happened to your job? Did they move you? MAS: I became ..... as soon as all of the paperwork was completed which was approximately a year because we had records to transfer and a lot of bookkeeping things to complete including disposing of records which took several years before anyone would come and claim the old records but I was 11



PAGE 1

transferred into Troop D. I worked for Lieutenant Hagler and since I recall that is the only other person. I did relieve the Troop D secretary at times when she was on vacation. CW: Did you work in the investigation section? Didn't you do some work for them at one time? MAS: I worked for Lieutenant Brown. CW: Right. MAS: Yes. CW: He was running polygraphs and so forth. MAS: Yes, I typed a lot of his polygraphs. CW: Who is the most colorful character you can remember on the Highway Patrol? MAS: Why I might not have known him very well I would say Colonel Kirkman was as colorful as anybody. CW: Did you see him very much? 12



PAGE 1

MAS: He knew everybody by name and when his eyesight began to fail we began to have the larger name tags the ones he could read. CW: Did you have to wear a uniform? MAS: We wore uniforms, yes. CW: That came about fairly early didn't it? Didn't we used to buy all clerks uniforms? MAS: Yes. We had the dry cleaning and shoe allowance just like the troopers. CW: They were the same color? MAS: Exactly except we wore skirts or either black pumps or black loafers depending on your preference. CW: Tell me about Colonel Kirkman. MAS: Well I just know that, I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one to say, that when he stamped his foot in Tallahassee the whole state shook. That's what they used to say. CW: That's what I have heard. He ruled with an iron fist. . .. ... 13



PAGE 1

MAS: But I think he was a kind man and like I said he knew everybody by their first name and if he called from Tallahassee he knew who he was going to get on the telephone of course we do have to realize it was a smaller organization than it is now. You couldn't expect that of a man. CW: Did he come to Orlando quite often to visit? MAS: Yes he did. CW: You said his brother was working here at the station? MAS: He was keeping daily reports the statistics part of it and we were doing the bookkeeping. CW: For the weights division? MAS: Yes. CW: What kind of fellow was he like? Was he anything like the Colonel? MAS: Not in appearance he was not. He was very tall and slender and he also had a dual capacity he did the lawns. They were not like these lawns. I noticed when I came up that the lawns were certainly green and pretty. 14



PAGE 1

CW: I guess he just did most anything that needed to be done at that time. MAS: Took the mail to the post office and things like that. CW: How long was he here? Was he here when you got here? MAS: He was here when I came and of course I was here when he retired. CW:. Is he still living? MAS: No he is not living. CW: Colonel Kirkman, did he take a big interest in the weights division like he did in traffic? MAS: I believe that he did. I know those who were assigned to the weight division enjoyed it. We did get young troopers that wanted traffic and of course they got it eventually. CW: I think the uniformed division of the weights troop when it left the Highway Patrol, didn't it go to the Department of Transportation and that kind of created a uniform division of weight inspectors? 15



PAGE 1

MAS: I don't believe that is quite the way it was. The troopers went into traffic because they were sworn uniformed personnel just like any other troopers. We all were dispersed to the troops that could absorb us and of course were they could they were in the same location. The weight inspectors who were not sworn ........ might have been sworn but not to the degree that the Highway Patrol not with the training because they did nothing but weigh trucks and collect overweight assessments. They were all transferred to Public Service Commission. Anybody who weighs trucks has to answer to the Department of Transportation to a degree. What degree that structure is I certainly don't know. I don't know now I might have known at that time. CW: I guess you had some of the older troopers in the weight division that hated to have to go back into traffic? MAS: Yes we did. CW: Some of the older troopers that were in the weight division for quite a long time do you know of any that it was difficult for them to make the transfer into traffic? MAS: No more than any normal change of jobs? 16



PAGE 1

MAS: That reminds me of another little incident that happened before I left. I was called down as juror for the Bundy case and when the judge said if you know any of these witnesses raise your hand. Well they had Lieutenant Kenneth Boatright and my hand had to go up and then they had Sergeant Pace and the hand had to go up again and Bundy...the judge didn't see me one time when I put the hand up and Bundy pointed and said she raised her hand. CW: Did you sit on the Bundy jury? MAS: No I was there up until they had chosen the last alternate. I was in the group but there is one time it was kind of good that you knew some of those Patrol personnel. CW: After Colonel Kirkman retired Colonel Clifton took over had the weight division still in tact when Colonel Clifton.... MAS: I believe....yes. I believe Colonel Beach was commander at the time we went down. CW: You and I were talking a few moments ago just about the weight division in general and the fact that we were regulated by the Highway Patrol but more by the Department of Transportation. What kind of an arrangement was that? 17



PAGE 1

MAS: It was a financial arrangement where the Department of Transportation supported the weight division and for the most part of this time funds were sent to them. CW: Was it one of those trust fund deals where the Department of Transportation would reimburse our Department for the weight division employees and so forth in Troop I? MAS: Yes CW: And then we just sent all the revenues to DOT for overweight? MAS: I believe so. CW: Was there any difference in the salaries between and maybe your counterpart in Troop D in traffic? MAS: The weight division because it was supported by the Department of Transportation the clerical employees could receive raises at odd times and our salaries exceeded the Florida Highway Patrol clerical salaries. Not by a great deal perhaps by twenty dollars a month depending on your amount of service but a raise could be given if I said on the spur of the moment that might not be quite that way, increases could be given at odd times where now things are regulated so that it is based on your evaluation and it 18



PAGE 1

comes due at certain times of the year if I am not mistaken and of course I worked under those conditions for lots of my time. CW: What was the starting salary when you came as a secretary with the Highway Patrol or weight division? MAS: When I came here, I came at $250.00 a month. I was here only about three months and I was raised to $300.00. CW: That was pretty close to what a trooper was starting at wasn't it? MAS: I'd had 14 years experience. CW: I was talking to another retired member yesterday, Buddy Herring, do you remember him? MAS: I never did work with him very much. I remember him but I.... CW: He started, I think he said he started in 1956 with the Patrol and his salary was $215.00 a month or something like that and of course back in that time he was paying $70.00 a month rent or something like that. 19



PAGE 1

MAS: Usually salaries are....it takes all you make no matter what you make but the prices of things and the salaries go up together. CW: What do you remember about people after Colonel Clifton or Colonel Kirkman. MAS: Of course Colonel Clifton from what we knew in the field, seemed to be Colonel Kirkman's right hand man and then I can't remember the dates that Colonel Clifton was commander but it was short lived compared to the amount of time Beach was there and short lived compared to the time Colonel Kirkman was there. I believe that Colonel Kirkman established the Highway Patrol. CW: Back when you first started what kind of equipment did the weight troopers have? Did they have pretty good equipment, portable scales and stuff like that? MAS: Yes. It was always kept pretty well up to date and plans were made on the highway for traffic so they could build a new weight station. They were on the major highways and the weigh stations were never closed. They were a 24 hour day operation and now when you travel the highways and you get around Belleview and some of those places you will see the weight station closed. Well it is probably open during 20 ... ...



PAGE 1

workdays but if you take a short trip on Sunday you are likely to find them closed and that would not have been tolerated under the Highway Patrol. CW: Think there's a lot of trucks getting by that ought to be caught. What did you do with the truck, trooper stopped the truck and he weighed him on the portable scales and I think there was a provision even back then that he could go to a regular scale house, couldn't he? MAS: Within a certain distance. You could not carry him too far. CW: What happened when a trooper weighed a truck and he was five or six thousand pounds overweight and he didn't have the money to pay for it? MAS: You got parked. CW: Parked? We owned the truck until he paid? MAS: Yes. It didn't take long until he got the money if you parked the man's truck with merchandise that was expected somewhere especially if it was perishable. Of course if we had a freeze then the Governor only could lift or raise weight restrictions. That happened around the Pensacola area where they waived the weight regulations after a hurricane and that could only be done by proclamation from 21



PAGE 1

the Governor. It was not just done at anybody's discretion. This was done for the potato crops around Hastings at times. There were embargoes on fuel oil and commodities that had to be moved in a hurry because of weather condition. CW: Suppose they had a load of perishables on his truck and the weight restrictions hadn't been lifted and he just couldn't pay it, did they let them sit there and spoil? Did we become responsible to make sure that the load...... MAS: We were never responsible. We couldn't have handled that in any type of financial way...never responsible for it and usually they would wire the money and if you knew these people and knew just where they were I mean you knew where their company was you were not going to hold it because you could go by the office or get another trooper to go by and get the money for them. You might call them and get authorization. The trooper would do that. He was responsible for collecting his own cases. CW: In other words he could take the money right on the spot, huh? MAS: Yeah. He could take it in cash. But like I say the bookkeeping system was such that if there were any irregularities the lieutenant or captain was told and that 22



PAGE 1

trooper was contacted right away but those things didn't happen to any extent because they knew what was going to happen. CW: Did you get a lot of bad checks? MAS: Yes we did. We got some bad checks. We had some good help in collecting. We could hold the next truck or delay it. Now I am not absolutely sure that it was legal to hold a truck from a company but you certainly didn't extend anymore credit to those particular people because the credit was not yours to extend. The funds belonged to the state and so when you did it.....the trooper did it on his own. CW: In other words if the guy did not want to pay ultimately the trooper could have been held responsible? MAS: Yes. CW: Sort of like whether you took a cash bond from somebody on the road or let him sign the ticket and promise to appear in court the trooper knew he might be responsible ultimately for that. Did you get a lot of complaints from the trucking companies when you stopped one of their trucks and held it until they could pay an overweight fine? Did a lot of them call in and complain? 23



PAGE 1

MAS: They all knew the operation. They knew how it was going to be and they also knew they were likely to get stopped. Some overloaded because it was cheaper to pay the fine than to run two trucks perhaps but we didn't have any big complaints. CW: Did you have a lot of trucks back then trying to sneak in and out of Florida trying to avoid scale houses? MAS: Circumvent the scale houses? That's why the portables were out there and of course naturally they did and just like you can circumvent a patrol car out there on the road if you know about it ahead of time and of course when CB's came along they all knew where they were. CW: What the CBer's call a chicken coop? MAS: Yeah. CW: Did you ever work in any of the scale houses to see how they..... MAS: No. I've been in one but it was limited very limited number of times. If like they were going to send clericals to Tallahassee for a meeting on leave reports or other changes then we might stop by the scale houses that we would pass but that would be the extent of our business there we didn't have any business there when it came right down to it. 24



PAGE 1

CW: I guess the priority was first to man the scale houses and if you had any extra people then you could put them out with the portables on the road. MAS: No you had assigned troopers to scale house because it took so many at a particular scale operation around the clock and that is how many you had assigned there and those men did not handle portable scales the others were rolling troopers with portable scales. CW: You might have to bring one in off the road if somebody got sick or something to work the scale house or how did they work that? MAS: I don't know exactly how they used their manpower but they did cover the scale houses. They were very seldom closed. CW: What is the biggest change you have seen in the Highway Patrol in the last ten or fifteen years? MAS: Well, four years of it I haven't been around to see any and I am sure there have been a lot of changes. I think the clerical help has to be more efficient probably now than they did when I started. CW: We didn't have the computers when you were here. 25



PAGE 1

MAS: They had just come out but I was fixing to leave so I didn't trouble to learn much about them. CW: Well have you got anything else to add? Things that you can remember that we haven't talked about? MAS: No, I don't think of anything. I think you have done a good job of covering. CW: Well thanks. Tell that to my boss. MAS: Maybe that will get you a cup of coffee. CW: Mary Alice I thank you. The waiver you just signed indicates that you do not have any problem with this going to the historical archives at the University of Florida. This is going to be transcribed on paper and we will provide you with a copy of it so you can have something to keep in a notebook somewhere either that or the bird cage or..... MAS: I want to know when the annual comes out because I certainly want to see it purchase a copy of it when it comes out because I did spend a lot of years here, interesting years. CW: Almost like your family. 26



PAGE 1

* MAS: Anytime anybody had any trouble they were like your family not almost like it... they were. CW: I thank you for your time. This interview concluded at 11:15 a.m. March 23, 1989. 27


DARK ITEM
Mary Alice Stapler
CITATION
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007785/00001
 Material Information
Title: Mary Alice Stapler
Physical Description: Book
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UF00007785:00001

Downloads
Table of Contents
    Cover
        Page 1
    Interview
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
Full Text










DIVISION OF FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL


50TH ANNIVERSARY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT





Interview with Mary Alice Stapler



Employed with FHP



Interviewed by Lieutenant Charles Williams


Date Interviewed March 23, 1989












CW: This is March 23rd, 1989. The interview is being conducted

with Ms. Mary Alice Stapler former secretary with the

Highway Patrol. This is Chuck Williams. We are at the

Highway Patrol station in Orlando at 5200 East Colonial

Drive and the time is 11:40 a.m. Mary Alice as you know the

Highway Patrol is fixing to celebrate its 50th anniversary

and we are doing what they call an oral history program. We

are trying to interview some retired members of the Patrol

both in the sworn and non-sworn position and try to get some

historical events that may not have been recorded

officially. Just your feeling about the Patrol when you

started with it and this will in turn be put in the archives

in the Florida Highway Patrol at the Academy and also at the

University of Florida state historical archives which they

are the university that collects all the history of Florida

in the past and so forth. We have had a pretty colorful

history with the Patrol from time to time. First of all

give me your complete name.



MAS: Mary Alice Stapler.



CW: Mary Alice Stapler. When did you start with the Patrol Mary

Alice?








MAS: 1957 in February of 57.


CW: In Orlando?



MAS: In Orlando.


CW: Are you a native of Orlando?


MAS: No.



CW: Where are you from originally?



MAS: Schooled in Leesburg. Born in south Georgia.



CW: What part of Georgia?



MAS: Valdosta.



CW: Valdosta. When did you move to Florida?



MAS: Well, it was almost as an infant and like I said in Leesburg

is where I had the twelve years of high school and I went to

work for the State Board of Health. I had 14 years with

them and I had 25 years with the Florida Highway Patrol when

I retired in 1984 with better than 39 years with state

service.








CW: What was your position at the time of your retirement?


MAS: I presume I was a secretary. I was with Troop D at the time

of retirement but most of my work time was with Troop I the

weight division and saw it grow from very small with one

clerical employee and Colonel Kirkman's brother was doing

clerical work with me. Ward Kirkman.



CW: Why did you join the Patrol? Looking for a good retirement

system or did you know somebody in the Patrol which kind of

got you interested?



MAS: I was working with wife of Captain Brasell at the Orange

County Health Department and she mentioned that a job had

opened here in the Patrol. He was a Captain which was the

commander, was the commander's rank at the time of Troop I

and I just decided to make a switch in employment from one

state agency to another without any interruption in service.



CW: Troop I was the weights division and it was upstairs here.



MAS: Well when I began here it was in one room just slightly down

the road from here and then they built the little building

that is in the back here that I don't know how it is

occupied now. Its a nice little building. I remember the

price of the building was $20,000.00 and it was a one floor

building strong enough to hold a second floor if it should

be needed.








CW: Where the driver license people used to be or is it that

little barn on (unk)...



MAS: No, it is a low flat long building. I don't know what you

are using it for now but it was a very nice building.



CW: Weights division. Was this the state headquarters for the

weights division?



MAS: The headquarters for all over the state. The portable

scales men and the troopers at the weigh station...of course

better history can be gotten from some of the men who were

working there but we went as far as Key West to Pensacola.

It was state headquarters.



CW: You had the same rank structure.



MAS: The same rank structure and those men were also used for

traffic detail if it was necessary. They had the same rank

and the same authority as any other troopers who were on the

road. There were 2 lieutenants and a captain made up the

rank part of it and then of course there were first

sergeants. First Sergeant Hunter...



CW: Who was the Captain?



MAS: I came here with Captain Brasell.








CW: What was his first name?


MAS: It was L. W. Brasell.



CW: L. W. Brasell.

/

MAS: I had an interruption of service of about two years when I

went to work for Lawyer's Title that would not do to go into

but when I came back to work I worked for Captain R. C. Webb

for about six months and then Captain Valton Sheffield came

in. When he left if I am not very much mistaken Captain

Jack King came from Tallahassee to Orlando and he had been

in Investigations and became Captain. This was not his

first experience with the weight division because he had

been a trooper here. John Polk, Sheriff of Seminole County

was a trooper in the weight division. Davis, David Davis

who is in Investigations now was a trooper here. It was

Lieutenant Jordan and Lieutenant Brackins who were District

Commanders. One had one part of the state from Orlando

north Lieutenant Brackins; and Lieutenant Jordan had the

southern part of the state. There was a good deal of

comradery in that particular troop.



CW: You had a First Sergeant here also.



MAS: William K. Hunter.








CW: William K. Hunter. He ultimately retired back to

Tallahassee?



MAS: Yes.



CW: Did you kind of work with the other secretaries in the Troop

D operation or was it more or less isolated?



MAS: We were more or less isolated other than perhaps to relieve

on the switchboard. Another kind of interesting point when

I came to work out here in 1957 there were two clerical

employees in the traffic and at lunchtime one or the other

of those girls relieved in the radio room. It was that type

of an operation.



CW: Orlando 1957. Describe Orlando in 1957. Different from

what it is today I guess.



MAS: It certainly was. It was a lot slower moving. We didn't

have the shopping malls within miles of this station and

things like that. To go really back to it, in the little

building, if we didn't bring our lunch there was a little

filling station affair across the road. If you wanted to

make a sandwich you had to get three slices of meat because

the first one was going to be dried out.



CW: One of the earlier delis huh?








MAS: Yes.


CW: I guess State Road 50 was what two lane then?



MAS: As best I can remember.



CW: Was the station here at this location?



MAS: When I came it was right on the other side of where Curcuit

City is and I believe you still have the building back there

that was traffic office. It was small, very small and then

about six months after I came to work here or maybe a little

less they built this other building for the weight

division. We were still in the same lot but we would walk

50 feet or so from one building to the other.



CW: You were here when they built the two story job we are in

now I guess?



MAS: Yes and when they moved those two buildings they pulled them

through the field down here to this location. It was a

joint venture with the Department of Transportation and

Highway Patrol. We occupied the second floor, the entire

second floor.



CW: How many troopers were assigned to the weight division when

you first came? Do you recall?








MAS: I don't know. The first history of the Patrol that I recall

does....the files were researched and we went down the line

with who was the Captain and the number of troopers. Then

until tthe time when it was not all troopers but they took

in weight inspectors who were nonuniformed personnel. And

of course that did reduce the uniform personnel who were in

the weight division because uniform people were manning the

scale houses and to go back just a little bit after Captain

King came in the weight division when he left and became the

Captain of Troop D which I guess now carries the rank of

Major then Captain Edlin came from MVI which had suffered

the same fate that the weight division did. Of course the

weight division went into the Public Service Commission

employees.



CW: When we absorbed the civilian weight inspectors didn't they

put them in the scale houses so they could put our people

back out on the road?



MAS: Well we didn't....Highway Patrol did not absorb the weight

division but they absorbed some of the employees but Public

Service Commission absorbed the weight division using their

own employees and retaining most weight inspectors but no

troopers or clerical personnel.



CW: The troopers working the portable scales I guess you had to

keep track of all their activity and so forth?








MAS: The bookkeeping system was a little obsolete but it had been

set up by a state auditor and it had perfect check and

balances. The weight inspectors, and troopers, were fund

collectors, some in cash, some in checks but there was no

way with the checks and balances that one dollar of that

money could be held up over a certain period of time but of

course they did sign a statement of how they would handle it

and how many days they had to get it to the Orlando office.

Cash collected was converted into money orders.



CW: I guess you were audited quite regularly?



MAS: Yes, very frequently and we would be audited with one

auditor here in the Orlando office and one auditor out at

the scale house checking against each other and .....



CW: What was the overweight penalty back then?



MAS: I don't know what it is nowbut I imagine it stayed at five

cents a pound above the allowable weight and that could

amount to as much as five and six thousands dollars fine on

a single load of heavy equipment.



CW: You handled a lot of money in and out of here then didn't

you?








MAS: Yes we did. I don't want to give any information that I am

not sure of but I believe we were to about three million

dollars a year when we went down. There were dedicated men

working and there was strong leadership.



CW: I guess you were.... Disney had come in before you retired /

didn't it?



MAS: I have been retired for a little better than four years now.



CW: Goodness time goes by fast, doesn't it?



MAS: Well the Highway Patrol was good to me I have no fault to

find. I did work in traffic and I don't really remember

quite how long it was because most of my time was in weight

division. When you take 25 years well that's a long time

and if I worked in traffic two years that would still be a

short part of my time.



CW: When the weight division was transferred to another

authority, what happened to your job? Did they move you?



MAS: I became......as soon as all of the paperwork was completed

which was approximately a year because we had records to

transfer and a lot of bookkeeping things to complete

including disposing of records which took several years

before anyone would come and claim the old records but I was








transferred into Troop D. I worked for Lieutenant Hagler

and since I recall that is the only other person. I did

relieve the Troop D secretary at times when she was on

vacation.



CW: Did you work in the investigation section? Didn't you do

some work for them at one time?



MAS: I worked for Lieutenant Brown.



CW: Right.



MAS: Yes.



CW: He was running polygraphs and so forth.



MAS: Yes, I typed a lot of his polygraphs.



CW: Who is the most colorful character you can remember on the

Highway Patrol?



MAS: Why I might not have known him very well I would say Colonel

Kirkman was as colorful as anybody.



CW: Did you see him very much?


M








MAS: He knew everybody by name and when his eyesight began to

fail we began to have the larger name tags the ones he could

read.



CW: Did you have to wear a uniform?


MAS: We wore uniforms, yes.


CW: That came about fairly early didn't it? Didn't we used to

buy all clerks uniforms?



MAS: Yes. We had the dry cleaning and shoe allowance just like

the troopers.



CW: They were the same color?



MAS: Exactly except we wore skirts or either black pumps or black

loafers depending on your preference.



CW: Tell me about Colonel Kirkman.



MAS: Well I just know that, I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one

to say, that when he stamped his foot in Tallahassee the

whole state shook. That's what they used to say.



CW: That's what I have heard. He ruled with an iron fist.








MAS: But I think he was a kind man and like I said he knew

everybody by their first name and if he called from

Tallahassee he knew who he was going to get on the telephone

of course we do have to realize it was a smaller

organization than it is now. You couldn't expect that of a

man.



CW: Did he come to Orlando quite often to visit?



MAS: Yes he did.



CW: You said his brother was working here at the station?



MAS: He was keeping daily reports the statistics part of it and

we were doing the bookkeeping.



CW: For the weights division?



MAS: Yes.



CW: What kind of fellow was he like? Was he anything like the

Colonel?



MAS: Not in appearance he was not. He was very tall and slender

and he also had a dual capacity he did the lawns. They were

not like these lawns. I noticed when I came up that the

lawns were certainly green and pretty.








CW: I guess he just did most anything that needed to be done at

that time.



MAS: Took the mail to the post office and things like that.



CW: How long was he here? Was he here when you got here?



MAS: He was here when I came and of course I was here when he

retired.



CW: Is he still living?



MAS: No he is not living.



CW: Colonel Kirkman, did he take a big interest in the weights

division like he did in traffic?



MAS: I believe that he did. I know those who were assigned to

the weight division enjoyed it. We did get young troopers

that wanted traffic and of course they got it eventually.



CW: I think the uniformed division of the weights troop when it

left the Highway Patrol, didn't it go to the Department of

Transportation and that kind of created a uniform division

of weight inspectors?








MAS: I don't believe that is quite the way it was. The troopers

went into traffic because they were sworn uniformed

personnel just like any other troopers. We all were

dispersed to the troops that could absorb us and of course

were they could they were in the same location. The weight

inspectors who were not sworn ........might have been sworn

but not to the degree that the Highway Patrol not with the

training because they did nothing but weigh trucks and

collect overweight assessments. They were all transferred

to Public Service Commission. Anybody who weighs trucks has

to answer to the Department of Transportation to a degree.

What degree that structure is I certainly don't know. I

don't know now I might have known at that time.



CW: I guess you had some of the older troopers in the weight

division that hated to have to go back into traffic?



MAS: Yes we did.



CW: Some of the older troopers that were in the weight division

for quite a long time do you know of any that it was

difficult for them to make the transfer into traffic?



MAS: No more than any normal change of jobs?








MAS: That reminds me of another little incident that happened

before I left. I was called down as juror for the Bundy

case and when the judge said if you know any of these

witnesses raise your hand. Well they had Lieutenant Kenneth

Boatright and my hand had to go up and then they had

Sergeant Pace and the hand had to go up again and

Bundy...the judge didn't see me one time when I put the hand

up and Bundy pointed and said she raised her hand.



CW: Did you sit on the Bundy jury?



MAS: No I was there up until they had chosen the last alternate.

I was in the group but there is one time it was kind of good

that you knew some of those Patrol personnel.



CW: After Colonel Kirkman retired Colonel Clifton took over had

the weight division still in tact when Colonel Clifton....



MAS: I believe....yes. I believe Colonel Beach was commander at

the time we went down.



CW: You and I were talking a few moments ago just about the

weight division in general and the fact that we were

regulated by the Highway Patrol but more by the Department

of Transportation. What kind of an arrangement was that?








MAS: It was a financial arrangement where the Department of

Transportation supported the weight division and for the

most part of this time funds were sent to them.



CW: Was it one of those trust fund deals where the Department of

Transportation would reimburse our Department for the weight

division employees and so forth in Troop I?



MAS: Yes



CW: And then we just sent all the revenues to DOT for

overweight?



MAS: I believe so.



CW: Was there any difference in the salaries between and maybe

your counterpart in Troop D in traffic?



MAS: The weight division because it was supported by the

Department of Transportation the clerical employees could

receive raises at odd times and our salaries exceeded the

Florida Highway Patrol clerical salaries. Not by a great

deal perhaps by twenty dollars a month depending on your

amount of service but a raise could be given if I said on

the spur of the moment that might not be quite that way,

increases could be given at odd times where now things are

regulated so that it is based on your evaluation and it








comes due at certain times of the year if I am not mistaken

and of course I worked under those conditions for lots of my

time.



CW: What was the starting salary when you came as a secretary

with the Highway Patrol or weight division?



MAS: When I came here, I came at $250.00 a month. I was here

only about three months and I was raised to $300.00.



CW: That was pretty close to what a trooper was starting at

wasn't it?



MAS: I'd had 14 years experience.



CW: I was talking to another retired member yesterday, Buddy

Herring, do you remember him?



MAS: I never did work with him very much. I remember him but

I....



CW: He started, I think he said he started in 1956 with the

Patrol and his salary was $215.00 a month or something like

that and of course back in that time he was paying $70.00 a

month rent or something like that.








MAS: Usually salaries are....it takes all you make no matter what

you make but the prices of things and the salaries go up

together.



CW: What do you remember about people after Colonel Clifton or

Colonel Kirkman.



MAS: Of course Colonel Clifton from what we knew in the field,

seemed to be Colonel Kirkman's right hand man and then I

can't remember the dates that Colonel Clifton was commander

but it was short lived compared to the amount of time Beach

was there and short lived compared to the time Colonel

Kirkman was there. I believe that Colonel Kirkman

established the Highway Patrol.



CW: Back when you first started what kind of equipment did the

weight troopers have? Did they have pretty good equipment,

portable scales and stuff like that?



MAS: Yes. It was always kept pretty well up to date and plans

were made on the highway for traffic so they could build a

new weight station. They were on the major highways and the

weigh stations were never closed. They were a 24 hour day

operation and now when you travel the highways and you get

around Belleview and some of those places you will see the

weight station closed. Well it is probably open during








workdays but if you take a short trip on Sunday you are

likely to find them closed and that would not have been

tolerated under the Highway Patrol.



CW: Think there's a lot of trucks getting by that ought to be

caught. What did you do with the truck, trooper stopped the

truck and he weighed him on the portable scales and I think

there was a provision even back then that he could go to a

regular scale house, couldn't he?



MAS: Within a certain distance. You could not carry him too far.



CW: What happened when a trooper weighed a truck and he was five

or six thousand pounds overweight and he didn't have the

money to pay for it?



MAS: You got parked.



CW: Parked? We owned the truck until he paid?



MAS: Yes. It didn't take long until he got the money if you

parked the man's truck with merchandise that was expected

somewhere especially if it was perishable. Of course if we

had a freeze then the Governor only could lift or raise

weight restrictions. That happened around the Pensacola

area where they waived the weight regulations after a

hurricane and that could only be done by proclamation from








the Governor. It was not just done at anybody's

discretion. This was done for the potato crops around

Hastings at times. There were embargoes on fuel oil and

commodities that had to be moved in a hurry because of

weather condition.



CW: Suppose they had a load of perishables on his truck and the

weight restrictions hadn't been lifted and he just couldn't

pay it, did they let them sit there and spoil? Did we

become responsible to make sure that the load......



MAS: We were never responsible. We couldn't have handled that in

any type of financial way...never responsible for it and

usually they would wire the money and if you knew these

people and knew just where they were I mean you knew where

their company was you were not going to hold it because you

could go by the office or get another trooper to go by and

get the money for them. You might call them and get

authorization. The trooper would do that. He was

responsible for collecting his own cases.



CW: In other words he could take the money right on the spot,

huh?



MAS: Yeah. He could take it in cash. But like I say the

bookkeeping system was such that if there were any

irregularities the lieutenant or captain was told and that








trooper was contacted right away but those things didn't

happen to any extent because they knew what was going to

happen.



CW: Did you get a lot of bad checks?



MAS: Yes we did. We got some bad checks. We had some good help

in collecting. We could hold the next truck or delay it.

Now I am not absolutely sure that it was legal to hold a

truck from a company but you certainly didn't extend anymore

credit to those particular people because the credit was not

yours to extend. The funds belonged to the state and so

when you did it.....the trooper did it on his own.



CW: In other words if the guy did not want to pay ultimately the

trooper could have been held responsible?



MAS: Yes.



CW: Sort of like whether you took a cash bond from somebody on

the road or let him sign the ticket and promise to appear in

court the trooper knew he might be responsible ultimately

for that. Did you get a lot of complaints from the trucking

companies when you stopped one of their trucks and held it

until they could pay an overweight fine? Did a lot of them

call in and complain?








MAS: They all knew the operation. They knew how it was going to

be and they also knew they were likely to get stopped. Some

overloaded because it was cheaper to pay the fine than to

run two trucks perhaps but we didn't have any big

complaints.



CW: Did you have a lot of trucks back then trying to sneak in

and out of Florida trying to avoid scale houses?



MAS: Circumvent the scale houses? That's why the portables were

out there and of course naturally they did and just like you

can circumvent a patrol car out there on the road if you

know about it ahead of time and of course when CB's came

along they all knew where they were.



CW: What the CBer's call a chicken coop?



MAS: Yeah.



CW: Did you ever work in any of the scale houses to see how

they.....



MAS: No. I've been in one but it was limited very limited number

of times. If like they were going to send clericals to

Tallahassee for a meeting on leave reports or other changes

then we might stop by the scale houses that we would pass

but that would be the extent of our business there we didn't

have any business there when it came right down to it.







CW: I guess the priority was first to man the scale houses and

if you had any extra people then you could put them out with

the portables on the road.



MAS: No you had assigned troopers to scale house because it took

so many at a particular scale operation around the clock and

that is how many you had assigned there and those men did

not handle portable scales the others were rolling troopers

with portable scales.



CW: You might have to bring one in off the road if somebody got

sick or something to work the scale house or how did they

work that?



MAS: I don't know exactly how they used their manpower but they

did cover the scale houses. They were very seldom closed.



CW: What is the biggest change you have seen in the Highway

Patrol in the last ten or fifteen years?



MAS: Well, four years of it I haven't been around to see any and

I am sure there have been a lot of changes. I think the

clerical help has to be more efficient probably now than

they did when I started.



CW: We didn't have the computers when you were here.







MAS: They had just come out but I was fixing to leave so I didn't

trouble to learn much about them.



CW: Well have you got anything else to add? Things that you can

remember that we haven't talked about?



MAS: No, I don't think of anything. I think you have done a good

job of covering.



CW: Well thanks. Tell that to my boss.



MAS: Maybe that will get you a cup of coffee.



CW: Mary Alice I thank you. The waiver you just signed

indicates that you do not have any problem with this going

to the historical archives at the University of Florida.

This is going to be transcribed on paper and we will provide

you with a copy of it so you can have something to keep in a

notebook somewhere either that or the bird cage or.....



MAS: I want to know when the annual comes out because I certainly

want to see it purchase a copy of it when it comes out

because I did spend a lot of years here, interesting years.



CW: Almost like your family.






* 4, $.

MAS: Anytime anybody had any trouble they were like your family

not almost like it... they were.


CW: I thank you for your time.

11:15 a.m. March 23, 1989.


This interview concluded at




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2011 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated May 24, 2011 - Version 3.0.0 - mvs