UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEWEES: J. Maxey Dell, Jr.
INTERVIEWER: Joyce Miller
DATE: January 25, 1977
M: This is Joyce Miller on January 25, 1977 at 8:00 in the home of Dr. J.
Maxey Dell, Jr., 923 Southwest First Avenue. Dr. Dell, maybe you can
relate when your family began in Gainesville and then bring us up to
date with your father and yourself.
D: The family came to Alachua County about 1825, somewhere near there.
They settled out around Newnansville and in the area between Hague and
Alachua. They lived in this area. They have lived in this area ever
since. My father was born out between Hague and Paradise and my grand-
father, up around Newnansville. My father was a physician here, beginning
in 1902, and then I began practicing in 1932.
M: Was your father in any way connected with Sunland at some point?
D: At one time he was superintendent at Sunland.
M: Do you recall when that was?
D: When was it, Hazel? It was before World War II, wasn't it?
HD: It was when our children were real small babies.
D: It must have been about 1937, along in there.
HD: Jimmy was born in '35.
D: Probably right close to there anyway.
HD: Right around in there.
D: CAbout] '37, '38, '39.
M: Do you recall that at all?
M: Do you know what the conditions were like at Sunland from discussing with
your father at the time?
D: They weren't bad. Most of the work out at Sunland was done more or less
on a free basis by the doctors in Gainesville at that time. They didn't
have a physician, as such, out there except my father was a physician.
But he did mostly administrative work.
M: Was it just a few houses at that time?
D: There were just a few. But there were several buildings out there.
HD: Yes, I remember.
D: Quite a few of the buildings.
HD: They didn't have that system then that they have now where you have the
children go into the different houses and they have a housemother and
D: They didn't have the cottages then that they have now.
M: Just everybody was in one mass building?
D: There were several buildings. I guess there must have been three or four
rather large buildings, wouldn't you say, Hazel?
HD: Oh, yes. They had the girls of course in one. Then they had separated
the real bad cases. Then there were the ones that had a pass system; the
children did. If they didn't like you, you were a low-grade normal some-
body apparently had told those children. They could get to the sixth
grade, but that was all that they kept up. I mean everybody that couldn't
get through sixth grade stayed.
M: What year was it that Sunland was established?
D: I don't really know. Dr. CJ. H.3 Colson was the first superintendent out
there. He was a doctor here in Gainesville. One of the old doctors.
He's been dead a long time. But he was the first superintendent that I
M: Did they have black children also or did that come later?
D: I don't remember whether they had any black children or not.
M: And your father directed it for a few years, or do you recall how....
D: Yes, for a few years. I think for about, oh, I don't know, two, three,or
four years. Then Mr. Phillips was superintendent.
M: During the time that he directed Sunland, did he give up his private
D: Yes. He had just about given up his practice anyway. I came back here
in '32, and after that he didn't do very much practice. He had had his
hands burned with X-ray in the early days and so he quit doing anything
with X-rays when I came back.
M: Where did you get your training?
M: So, it was two years of undergraduate, then four years of medical school,
and then a year of internship and then practice. When you came back in
'32, did you open up your own practice, or did you go in with your father?
D: I took over his office and he quit practicing. I started practicing.
M: Where was that office located?
D: It was located on South Main Street. There is a vacant lot there now.
It's right across from that parking lot where Maggie Tebeau's school
used to be.
M: Across Main or across the same street?
D: Across Main.
M: West side of Main Street then?
D: East side of Main Street.
M: Oh, east side of Main Street then.
D: Tebeau's was on the west side.
M: Who were the other doctors practicing when you began in '32?
D: There was Dr. [George C.3 Tillman, CMatthew H.] DePass, Dr. CW. C.] Thomas,
Dr. [Thomas A.3 Snow, Dr. King, and Dr. -S. D.3 Rice. You said when I
started, didn't you?
D: Dr. [William T.3 Elmore, Dr. [John E.3 Maines, Dr. CEdwin H.] Andrews,
Dr. D.CeWitt] T. Smith and Dr. CJ. Lee] Summerlin.
M: Which Summerlin is this? Winston?
D: No, it was his dad. Winston and Glen's dad. I believe that's all.
HD: Dr. CWilbur3 Lassiter.
D: Yes, Dr. Lassiter.
M: Are all these doctors deceased, or do you know of any that are still
D: I believe they are all dead, aren't they?
M: When a doctor opened up a practice in Gainesville in the early thirties,
did he specialize in anything, or was it a general practice?
D: No, there weren't any specialists. Everybody did general practice.
They all delivered babies and operated and made house calls. Well, not
all of them operated, but all of them did general practice and delivered
babies. No specialists at all.
M: What about in terms of the hospital? Prior to Alachua General--not the
new part but the old part--there was a wooden structure that served as
the hospital. When did the brick structure actually get built?
D: There was not a brick structure that replaced the wood structure. It
wasn't brick altogether. Part of it was. What do you call that stuff
that you throw on there?
D: A lot of it was stucco. That was the first big hospital with an opera-
ting room and everything. Previous to that they had all been hospitals
in homes. Someone would have a home that was a hospital. But this
hospital was built before the thirties in the late 1920s.
M: It was already fairly established when you were practicing here?
D: Yes, the hospital had been in use for about three or four years when I
M: What was the procedure for going to the hospital? Was there an emergency
ward? Did you directly take the patient, or is it any way different
than the way it is today in reference to the hospital?
D: They had a small emergency room but most of the work was done at home or
in the offices. Not much done in the emergency room at the hospital,
except emergencies, broken arms, and things like that. I don't believe
that so many of the patients that go into the hospital now wouldn't have
gone in then. They would have been treated at home or in the office.
M: Did you have extensive equipment to be able to treat someone in your
office, or was it just that medicine wasn't as sophisticated as it is
D: Somebody'd break their arm back in those days, why, they might either go
to the hospital or to the doctor's office. The doctor might treat them
in the office rather than at the hospital. But I don't guess it's greatly
different as far as the treatment goes than as it is now. It's just that
they go to the hospital for a lot of things that the doctors in the thirties
used to go to see them for.
M: As long as you are talking about doctors seeing patients, were house calls
D: Oh, yes. House calls were real common.
M: Would this be including evenings and weekends?
D: Yes. It would include evenings and weekends.
M: When do you think the change came about to where...well, I would hate
to use the stereotype of doctors playing golf on the weekends and Friday
afternoons, but when do you feel that this change came about in reference
to going out and doing house calls?
D: In the thirties most of the doctors were individual practitioners. Dr.
Thomas and Dr. King were together, but two would be about as much as any
group would have. Then during the war, a lot of the doctors left to go
into the service. The doctors that were here had to cut way down on
house calls and get the people to come to the hospital, to the emergency
room, instead of them going to the house. I suspect that it more or
less evolved from that. The people began to go to the emergency room,
or the doctor would tell them to meet him at the emergency room because
it would save so much time. Second, because there were facilities at
the hospital that they didn't have available in the home. In other words,
a person comes in with a stomachache. They could get a blood count,
X-ray at the hospital, or whatever the patient needed, and do it with
much more facility than they could if they were making house calls.
Really and truly, a house call, most of the time, was not a very efficient
way to practice medicine.
M: Where would a doctor send his lab work? Did he do it himself, or were
there special labs in the thirties?
D: They didn't do a lot of things, but in their offices they would usually
do the urinalysis and the blood counts. The blood chemistries that
were available at that time would be done at the hospital by the laboratory:
the blood sugars, the diabetes, and the blood test for nitrogen in the
blood from kidney failure. Those were blood tests that went to the Board
of Health at Jacksonville.
M: There weren't any laboratories as the one near the general hospital today.
D: No, only in the hospital. That was the only laboratory that was available.
M: What kind of facilities did the university students have? Did they also
use Alachua General Hospital?
D: No, they had an infirmary in the thirties. Dr. Tillman was the physician
at the infirmary. It was like a small hospital in a way. He did some
operations out there on the boys.
M: It was much more extensive than the infirmary on campus is today?
D: Actually, it is in the same building. I don't know when the infirmary was
built. I don't remember when Dr. Tillman went there. He was the phy-
sician there for a long time.
M: In prices, as compared to today, what would be the difference of just
anything, medicines or actual fees?
D: I think the delivery fee from an OB for an exceptional case would be
around fifty dollars in the early thirties. That was right in the De-
pression in the early thirties, and nobody really had very much money.
You would get paid quite often in produce, like chicken. I can remember
when the obstetrical fee was twenty-five and thirty-five dollars before
I went to medical school, but it went on up to around fifty and seventy-
five dollars during the thirties.
M: Would you say it is about $300 now, or even higher than that?
D: I read in the paper that it was higher than that, but I don't know. I
don't really know what the obstetrical fees are now. I know that we used
to get five dollars for an X-ray of an arm, and we get about fifteen to
twenty dollars now.
M: What about a house call?
D: A house call used to be three dollars and an office visit two dollars.
M: And today?
D: I think if a doctor made a house call today, it would probably be twenty-
five or thirty dollars.
M: A visit today to a doctor? What would you say if someone came in for
a general check-up then as compared to a general check-up now?
D: I don't know because I don't do any general work. The average office
visit back then was about two or three dollars?
M: Was there any such thing as health insurance at that time? Did individuals
have insurance, or was it all payment either in cash or produce?
D: I don't remember any insurance during the thirties. I think that Blue
Shield was started just before World War II. Actually during the first
part of World WarII was when Blue Shield was born.
M: You were talking about Dr. EG. F. Robertson, the dentist. I read an
article in the Gainesville Sun a couple of weeks ago in reference to the
fact that they would take either an intern or the newest dental assistant
and send them all over town looking for left-handed equipment that doesn't
come left-handed. Did they ever play any jokes on new physicians in town
or interns in town such as that? Just sort of jokes on the new guy?
M: What about the type of equipment that you had in your office? How does
it relate to equipment today? Would you have an X-ray machine in your
D: You would have one, but it was nothing to compare with the present machines.
They are so much more efficient and so much safer. Those in the 1930s were
dangerous. You got shocked every once in a while with the open wires in
those machines. They did pretty good work, but they can't compare with
the present machines. It was nothing really unusual at all to see doctors
deliver babies in the homes during the 1930s. I guess that there were many
more babies delivered in the homes than there were in the hospitals during
the 1930s. At least during the first part of the 1930s, because it cost
a lost of money. People didn't have money to go to the hospital.
M: Besides the X-ray equipment, what else would your office look like?
Would you have a lobby as an office does today? Would you have a separate
room for consultation? Would it just be one room?
D: Most of the offices...there weren't many rooms. Of course there would
always be a reception room, a room for the patients, a waiting room.
They did a lot of tonsillectomies in the office. Dr. Summerlin did most
all of the tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies in the office. He and
Dr. Smith. That was true for a long time. I think by the 1930s they
quit doing any operations in the home. They did a lot of minor surgery
in the office. I know back then they used to gather together all the poor
kids that needed their tonsils out and they would have a tonsillectomy
day. Dr. Summerlin would do probably thirty to forty tonsillectomies down
there in one day. It would be in the American Legion Hall down there. They
would all be out on cots, and they would have set up the operating room
right there in the Legion Home and do them all there.
M: Would this be voluntary for the doctor, or would the American Legion pay?
D: It would be voluntary.
M: Did you have assistants and a secretary?
D: Most of the doctors had perhaps a nurse or an assistant, not necessarily
a nurse. But some of them had nurses. Somebody to keep the books and
make the appointments.
M: Who worked in your office?
D: Hazel, the first was Smitty, wasn't she still there?
D: She was a nurse.
M: Who was this?
D: Smitty was her name. I've forgotten her name.
D: Beatrice Smith. Then a little later on, I trained a girl. She wasn't
a nurse and her name was, oh shucks, what was Bertha's name?
D: Bertha Gillespie. Then the McKinstry girl was one of the girls that
we trained just to do that. We didn't have really what you would call
trained office assistants. You would just teach them how to do blood
counts and urinalyses, how to fix the patients for you, boil up the
instruments, and things like that.
M: Was it unusual for an office to have a full-fledged nurse then?
D: Yes, most of them. There were a few doctors who had nurses. But maybe
a lot of them did have, for that matter, one nurse maybe.
M: A person like the people you mentioned that weren't nurses but were
assistants that you trained, what would they earn?
D: I can't say I remember, but I don't think it would be much over say fifteen
or twenty dollars a week.
M: Over and above expenses, what would the profit of a doctor be per week?
D: My first two years, it was a loss not a profit.
M: Was that due to expenses or because of the Depression?
D: Depression. Nobody had any money. I would think that by 1935 things had
picked up a bit, and probably they made about $300 a month, something
M: Was this over and above expenses?
M: What would be the kinds of expenses, such as rent? How much would rent
be, or did your father own that building and then you bought it?
D: He owned the building. The only expenses would be, of course, X-ray
films, developing solutions, and the regular things that an office has
besides that: ether, antiseptics, sponges, instruments, and just the
general office equipment that you would have. I think the first $400
or $500 we got hold of, we went up to Johns Hopkins, didn't we, Hazel,
to Baltimore? We took the kids up there. That must have been about
1937. I went up there and studied there about a month. We could save
up $500 in about a year or two.
M: What year did you get married?
D: In 1931.
M: In Gainesville, or were you still in Georgia?
D: In Atlanta, got married and came back to Gainesville.
M: Your wife was not native to Gainesville?
D: No, she was an anesthetist at the hospital. She was from Illinois
M: What is your wife's maiden name?
M: Then you met and came to Gainesville. When were your children born?
D: Bobbie is forty-four, isn't she, Hazel?
HD: She is forty-three. She was born in 1933 and Jimmy was born in 1935.
S: That's right.
M: Who delivered your own children?
D: Dr. Thomas.
M: Was Dr. Thomas like the grandfather of doctors, or how could I put this,
D: He did a lot to further medical practice in the community by bringing in
young men and getting them started. Dr. Tillman and Dr. DePass and some
of the other doctors were here before Dr. Thomas came. But he encouraged
a lot of young doctors to come here and helped them get started.
M: Are both of your children living in Gainesville?
D: No, my son is a dentist in Gainesville, but my daughter lives in
M: You son is J. Maxey Dell, III, the dentist?
D: Yes. For a lot of the doctors, they used to make up a kit for them to
take out for deliveries in the home. The hospital would sterilize the
M: What would be in the kit?
D: The sheets, the drapes, the gauze bandages, the little silver nitrate
that you had to put in the babies' eyes, and tape to tie the cord with.
I think they also had their foreceps, but I don't think they did much
forceps delivery in the home. That was the main thing that was in the
M: Was there an AMA EAmerican Medical Association] at that point?
D: Oh, yes.
M: What kind of function did it have on local doctors? Were you really
aware of it? Was it as powerful a lobbyist group as it is today?
D: No. I would say it was not nearly as powerful a lobbyist group as it
is today because actually it didn't need to be. There was never any mal-
practice suits. Nobody ever heard of a malpractice suit in the 1930s.
Nobody ever heard of having to fill out any forms or the government paying
anybody for anything, so really the only thing that the AMA did was in
the neighborhood of the dispensing information and having a library that
was available and those things.
M: Did they have a monthly bulletin or magazine?
D: Yes, they had the Journal of the AMA at that time, but it was more or less
during the thirties. There was just no insurance and no forms to fill
out for Medicare and Medicaid and Champus or any of the many things that
the government pays for now.
M: Was there a fee for belonging to the AMA?
M: Do you recall how much you had to pay?
D: No, I really don't. It wasn't much, probably five dollars, or something
M: Per year, you think?
M: What about prescriptions? Did doctors give out as many prescriptions
then and have people go to the druggist, or did the doctor actually give
the medicine himself?
D: No, the doctor usually wrote prescriptions and they were compounded most
of them by the druggist. Most all of the stuff he prescribes now is al-
ready made up. But the druggist used to make up lots of the prescriptions,
your cough medicines, tonics, and what have you. Of course we didn't have
many specifics at that time. We didn't have antibiotics until later on,
and some of the sulphur drugs later, late in the thirties.
M: Did you have drug companies come as they do today, visit the office and
try to persuade you to try their product?
M: That was common then also?
D: It wasn't very common. Drug salesmen didn't during the first part of
the thirties. They weren't very many drug salesmen coming around.
M: That is prosperity improved?
D: That and the drugs that they were selling because the druggists themselves
here would make up most of the drugs. If they had malaria, the drugs
that you had weren't many then. Quinine for malaria, and the rest of them
were more of less cough medicines and tonics and that was about it.
M: You mentioned malaria. I've talked to some people who recall malaria in
the thirties and others that feel it was at an earlier time. Were there
epidemics of malaria during the thirties here?
D: Oh yes, quite a few people died from malaria. I can remember autopsying
a couple of people that died of what they called black water fever. That
M: Was it just from open areas of water that bred mosquitoes?
D: Mosquitoes? Yes.
M: The person would come in and see you in the office and receive the treat-
D: Yes. You would try to make the diagnosis by the blood smear. You could
see the malarial organisms in the blood smear. But a lot of people
treated them with quinine anyway, whether we found the parasite or not.
M: Were there other epidemics during the thirties besides malaria?
D: Yellow fever went way back before that.
M: Did many people suffer from malnutrition or rickets because of the De-
D: I think they suffered from rickets and scurvy because of ignorance, as well
as the Depression.
M: By that you mean not eating the right foods?
D: Well, not realizing that we had viosterol. They knew about viosterol
which is cod liver oil. Of course the sunshine down here in Florida
is the thing that kept a lot of them from having so much rickets. But
we never see any scurvy anymore. We never see rickets anymore either for
that matter. But I don't recall anything that we had any epidemics around
other than the flu. We have little epidemics of the flu now.
M: In the thirties did many people have home remedies? Did many people feel
that the type of cure given to them by their grandfather and grandmother
was perhaps better than going to a doctor? Do you remember any of those
D: Old Judge Davis up around Quincy used to be a very staunch advocate of
snake oil. I don't know where he got snake oil from but--and swamproot.
People used a lot of things for different things because the doctor or
somebody else would tell them, "Give it to them," and they were going to
get well anyway. Then when they gave it to them, and got well, why, they
thought it was the thing that made them well. There were a lot of differ-
ent things that people prescribed for different things. But they didn't
have very much scientific basis to them.
HD: Like mustard plasters.
M: Like what?
HD: Mustard plasters. They were bad. The colored folks especially used them.
D: Yes. Mustard plasters, turpentine stupes. When you had a case of
pneumonia back then, you didn't have any antibiotics to give them, but
you treated their distension of the abdomen with turpentine stupes and
their pains in their chest with a mustard plaster. They gave them
sponge baths, sponge them down, and curse them to keep them from having
such high fevers. There wasn't medicine to use. They still bled them
some, once in a while.
HD: I remember for high blood pressure.
D: Oh yes, they used to bleed them for high blood pressure. Still might do
it for that matter, donating their blood to hold down the blood pressure.
M: Was a doctor's status very high at that time in the community, as it is
D: I would say that it is higher.
M: Higher then?
D: It was higher then because he was closer to the patients, because of his
contact with them. He didn't have the medicine to cure them. He had to
give them mental help to help them along. He came in closer contact
with them, coming into the home. The doctor, I believe, was then a little
bit more idolized than he is now. Used to think that the doctor couldn't
do any wrong. I know that there were so many things then that there was
no treatment available for, that antibiotics have taken over. We used to
have a lot of cases of mastoid infection and Dr. Summerlin used to do a
lot of mastoidectomies. Now you hardly ever see a mastoid operation
anymore. You very, very seldom see one. Same way with empyema or pus
in the pleural cavity, around where the person had pneumonia. Very
seldom you ever see empyema anymore except in neglected cases because
they are cured by antibiotics. Psychiatry was an unknown specialist.
M: That was what I was going to ask you next, if there was psychiatry.
D: Every doctor was his own psychiatrist, he and the preacher.
M: When do you think psychiatry really came in fashion, especially in
Gainesville? Would you say after the war?
D: Oh yes, a good bit after the war. I don't think we had a psychiatrist
here. I can't remember a psychiatrist being here until the middle 1950s,
HD: If there were, they must have been up at the university.
D: They must have been.
M: For those patients you couldn't save, where were the cemeteries in town
in the thirties?
D: Same place. Evergreen.
M: That was it?
HD: No, we had another one.
D: Well, the Jewish cemeteries.
M: The Jewish cemetery and Evergreen, those were the two?
HD: They were the only ones we had. Now they've got new ones.
D: There were plenty of little private cemeteries all over this county.
M: Was it still common in the thirties to bury people with their families
at little private cemeteries, as you mentioned, rather than go to the
town cemeteries such as Evergreen?
D: Most all of them would go to Evergreen, but there are little areas of
private cemeteries all over Alachua county.
M: Did the blacks have a separate cemetery?
D: Yes, still do.
M: Do you know where that was?
D: Right south of Evergreen.
M: Are they joined together or just like a separate area?
D: I don't know. I haven't been out to the black cemetery in a long time.
I looked over there one time and there are a lot of graves over there.
I think they are still burying them out there.
HD: Actually they have some colored people buried in Evergreen.
D: Inside Evergreen?
HD: Yes, inside Evergreen in the family plot of this family and I can't
remember their name. They put just the first names, our good and faith-
ful servant. This is an old, old....
D: I never noticed.
M: So if a black person worked for a white person, they might bury the black
HD: There were slaves too, you know. There were slaves here at one time and
the family of the slaves. Of course they still stayed with the family.
There are some Dells in town who were slaves of the old Dell family.
I hope I'm not giving....
D: Yes, a lot of my people...
M: That's all right.
D: ...are in cemeteries that we know about where they are, but they are
out in the field somewhere way out in the northwest part of the county.
M: Perhaps around Newnansville? Any of them buried around Newnansville?
D: Yes, out around Newnansville. There is a Dell's little cemetery out there,
just this side of Hague out in the field. About three of four years ago,
we went out there and built a fence around because cows were getting in
there. The cemetery was ours, but the land it was right in the middle of
HD: Right in the middle of that man's field. They wouldn't buy the land, and
they wouldn't think of ever using it.
M: They have allowed you to have that piece there?
HD: They wouldn't go into it ever. That's bad luck.
D: [JamesD Wershow, was he the county commissioner?
D: His daddy, who is a pretty fat, big man, is a lawyer. He's got some
place out there around Newnansville or somewhere out around Alachua, and
one of our cemeteries is on his property. The old Dell plantation was
out there at Hague, across from where the General Electric place is now, out
to the cemetery.
HD: That's when she told us that the colored people wouldn't plow up within
a certain amount of that. He couldn't use it because they wouldn't
plow there. They wouldn't work the soil for fear that they would get the
spirit. They were disturbing the dead and the spirit of the dead would
haunt them or something. It was a superstition, because after you're
dead, it doesn't matter how....
D: To illustrate some of the differences for instance in the development of an
X-ray film, back in the thirties we used to have two tanks to develop
the X-ray films in, and we didn't have any refrigeration except by ice.
The ice man would bring ice by every morning and we would refrigerate the
tanks in order to get to the proper temperature. Then the next thing that
they came along with, why they had refrigeration with a thermostat that
you just turned it on and it refrigerated the solutions. Then the next
thing they made is the carrier. We used to hang them up in racks and let
them dry. Then they made dryers that would blow hot air on them and dry
them. They began to get faster developers, and they actually made chain
developers where you just put them on a rack and it would take them all
the way through. The whole process of development for film to be ready
to be read, even with the hot air dryers, would take about thirty minutes.
Now with automatic developers, the type where you just put the film in
and in ninety seconds it's out and ready to read and dry.
M: I was going to say, I was just at my dentist's office and it only takes
a couple minutes nowadays. They can bring it back right away and tell
you where your cavities are.
HD: He would just run around with the drill before that, filling anything.
Sometimes they filled the wrong tooth.
D: Every once in a while you would think about this barium that they give
you by mouth to drink when you take examination of your stomach. It
used to be very grainy and you used to mix it with buttermilk. Now it's
nicely flavored with either chocolate, and some of it actually tastes
quite like marshmellow. It's not bad at all. But there have been so
many advances in the X-ray field that you can hardly believe that you
can take films as fast now as you can. There's just no comparison between
the present and the past.
M: Where did you live in the 1930s?
D: I lived right there at the office in the same house. First started off,
we had two rooms for the office, one room and little waiting room for
the patients. Then the kitchen and the dining room and our living room
was on the same floor. We slept upstairs. In those days, a lot of
people slept on a sleeping porch all winter long, out in the air, not
in a room. We'd go and undress down by the fireplace and leave your
clothes on the chairs, and then run jump in the bed out there on the
sleeping porch. They had feather mattresses in those days and they were
really warm. No central heat, no air conditioning during the thirties.
M: Did you live at your office all during the thirties?
D: We moved away about 1939.
M: To where?
D: Out on the prairie, just off of CHighway] 441 before it crosses the
M: Further out than where Art's restaurant is?
D: Just this side of the prairie, where the road goes across the prairie.
I don't know where Art's is, but I think Art's is this side. There are some
restaurants over the other side of the prairie, too. My wife and I were
talking about the heating back in the 1930s, about how you heated your
house. We had fireplaces. We had two-burner oil stoves and a single-
burner oil stove, a round one. It was portable. You could pick it up
and carry it, put it in the bathroom and get the bathroom warmed up so
you could take a bath. The open fireplaces. It's so different now. You've
got central heat and you just put on the thermostat. Everything is auto-
matic. You don't have to go out, cut wood, and bring in coal.
HD: Maxey, until and Rose came here to live, this house did not have
any heat in it except these two fireplaces.
M: This house here? When did you acquire this house?
D: We came in 1952. We moved from out on the prairie. We didn't have any
air-conditioning unit. But they would always have one nurse during the
summertime that didn't do anything except mop the doctor's face and keep
him from sweating and dropping down in the wound. They wore masks, but
still they would sweat a lot. Many a time, during an X-ray, you used to
have--your room was dark for fluoroscopy, when you used to fluoroscope
a patient. You wear a lead apron and lead gloves and you get in that room
with it shut up tight, so it's dark. With those lead gloves on, many
times I would be wringing wet. I know I must have lost five pounds in a
morning. Now it's all nice and air-conditioned. They actually don't even
have it completely dark.
HD: There was nobody who had air conditioning. We are getting weak.
D: I think the first air conditioning....
HD: We are, it's true.
D: The first air-conditioner we ever had was out on the prairie. We had a
window air-conditioner then. We had it up there in that room.
HD: We had it that....
D: We had a great big fan in there.
M: Let me ask you a little off the medical field. Your uncle owned a
grocery store in town, is that correct?
D: He wasn't my uncle, he was my cousin, George Dell.
M: This was located where the foreign car place is today, across from Kirby
Smith. Is that right?
D: Yes, but not in the thirties.
M: Where was it in the thirties?
D: They have torn it down now, but you remember where the Citizen's Bank
used to be right down there where the city hall bought that property.
M: Where the city hall bought the property?
D: City hall bought all that property up there where Wilson's is.
M: The parking lot?
D: Yes, the parking lot that is just east there. His grocery store was
there in the thirties, wasn't it, Hazel?
HD: He was down there where Smith's Shoe Store was. That was between East
Main and down First Avenue.
D: Was that in the thirties?
HD: No, down University Avenue.
D: On University Avenue.
HD: That was when I was pregnant with Bobbie. That was in 1933, 'cause he
gave me some to _, and I just barely made it to the curb.
D: You don't mean he was down where his last store was in the thirties.
HD: No, that's down there by Kirby Smith.
M: Was it a regular retail grocery store?
M: Someone told me either during the thirties or perhaps later it was like
a gourmet grocery store. Was it already that kind of place in the thirties?
D: To some extent it was.
HD: It was carriage trade. You don't have that anymore. You have supermarkets.
But his was catering to the carriage trade.
M: What is carriage trade?
HD: They ordered them by telephone and he delivered them. But the carriage
trade in the old days were the people who had carriagesandthey didn't
walk to the store. They went to the store and picked out the groceries,
and the driver, whatever they called him, picked up the basket and took it
out for her. They got the finest foods. If they wanted fine strawberries
when nobody else was having strawberries, they would be shipped in.
D: But she said....
HD: George did the same thing. In fact, somebody liked raspberries. He had
to ship them in by plane. He went and met the plane in Jacksonville and
brought them home lots of times.
D: What she said is right, that he did sort of run a gourmet type of business.
He catered to....
M: This was as early as the thirties that it was this kind of carriage
trade and this kind of business for the more exclusive people in town.
As early, even during...?
HD: Well, other people went there, you know. I don't mean that nobody else
went there. But he catered to them, same as that grocery store over there.
They cater to the colored people because most of their trade is Ewith]
D: If you went there in those days, what Hazel would do would be to go down
there to the store, and he would go with her to pick out the groceries and
wait on her. She guessed things and would tell him what was good and what
wasn't good and what I wanted because that was better.
M: Would this be specially to you because you were related, or was he like
this to all the customers?
D: No, with everybody.
M: Very personable and a very helpful individual.
D: All the stores nearly had delivery service too, like Wilson's down there.
Wilson's had a delivery service. They would deliver. Old Henry used
to deliver stuff for Wilson's.
HD: I guess the town was very different then. Everything was personalized.
There was no streamlining.
D: Well, it was a small town.
HD: You could feed six people for ten dollars a week, grocery money. You
didn't eat high on the hog, but you ate well.
M: You ate well for that. Could you afford steaks on that?
HD: Oh, yes. We always had meat three times a day.
M: Meat three times a day?
HD: Yes, breakfast, dinner,and supper. We had a cook to cook it. Boy,
them was the days.
M: When were you on the Nuclear and Space Commission?
D: The Florida Nuclear and Space Commission.
M: Was that later on in the fifties?
M: You served on that along with John Selle, is that right?
D: I served on it with Dr. George Davis [Professor of Animal Nutrition] out
at the university and John Selle came later.
M: After you were on it.
D: He was appointed afterwards. The doctor, the radiation physicist out
there at the university was on it. His was more of a consultant capacity,
and the president of Florida Power was sort of a secretary for the com-
M: Your wife mentioned that in the days of the thirties, you could not only
eat well but you also had a cook. Would this be someone who would live
in with you? How much would you pay that person?
D: We used to pay Karen Embrey ten dollars a week, didn't we?
HD: Yes, that was in the thirties, ten dollars a week.
D: They had a house out on the grounds. They lived in the house itself
later, didn't they? We started out with them out there though, didn't
HD: Started out with them in the room.
D: Then later on built the house out there, where the chicken place was.
M: Are you referring to the house on the prairie, when you lived out on
D: When we were downtown, they lived and came to work.
M: They came to work each day?
HD: We had a cook and a laundress who came two times a day, and she washed
out in the yard.
M: A cook and a laundress.
HD: She washed out in the yard and ironed in the house. When the children came
along, we had a full-time nurse.
M: What would you pay the full-time nurse.
HD: Two and a half a week. She was just a girl. I think we paid Bessie
five dollars a week. She was the cook.
D: We took one of them up to Baltimore with us when we went up there to study.
D: Baltimore. We went to Baltimore with her.
M: Was this Bessie or was it somebody else?
D: Goldie, wasn't it? What was Goldie's name?
HD: Flossie. Her name was Flossie and we called her Goldie. She couldn't
read or write. I didn't know it because she had been taking Maxie's
phone calls all the time and giving him the messages. We didn't know she
D: They cooked. I mean they still did the clothes out in the yard in a great
big old iron pot.
HD: No Laundromats.
M: When did theLaundromats and washing machines and stuff come in?
HD: Laundromats came in right after the war. The first one we had was down
here on Second Avenue.
D: With J. Vernell Hughes.
HD: Yes, Mr. Hughes ran it.
D: But you had a washing machine out there on the prairie.
HD: I had one out on the prairie.
D: You would wring it up in a wringer.
HD: Yes, you had to wring the clothes out. You didn't have to wring them
out, but you had to hang them out. They didn't have such a thing as a
dryer. They had the washing machine which was a great help. Then we
came here and in the town, soon there was a Laundromat on every corner
practically. We knew the Hugheses. One of the girls who worked for him,
her mother had worked for us in our house here.
D: She was a white woman.
HD: That was the first Laundromat that I know about in Gainesville. That was
right after the war.
M: Were all of these people, your laundress and nurse and cook, white or
HD: Black, no white ones.
D: That one she spoke of was white.
HD: She was white. All the others were black. The reason for that was that
that was the only jobs they could get, and you wouldn't hire a white
person, except in cases of emergency, I mean, if you had to have somebody,
because that was their job. The white person had no business even to apply.
D: The black people who worked for you, you were expected to look after them
if they were sick.
HD: And you did. Not only that but they had toting privileges.
M: They had what privileges?
HD: Toting privileges. It's when you got some stew left over, you've got a
piece of roast left over that's not enough for another meal, she takes
that home. She takes the vegetables home. She takes a meal home for the
M: That's called toting. I never heard of that.
HD: To tote is to carry. So they will tote them home.
M: That was a privilege they had?
HD: Yes, they had that privilege, taking home the leftovers.
M: Did many families have extra help? Cooks, laundry people?
M: Not just the professional people, like doctors and attorneys, but....
HD: Oh no, everybody.
M: Everybody had these facilities.
HD: Sometimes they would have them a half day, but they would have them. I
don't know of anybody that didn't have any.
D: We nearly always had a place for them to stay. When I was coming along as
a boy, we always had a house there on the grounds that they lived in.
HD: Daddy gave Mary Jane her house and that was included in her pay. He had
owned some houses and he gave her her house rent-free.
D: Houses would rent for about two or three dollars a month, that is the
houses where she is talking about. Their money was a whole lot different
than it is now.
M: Was your father a mayor in the late thirties?
D: He was a mayor at one time. He was a state senator at one time, and he
was city councilman quite a few times.
M: Do you recall any experiences while he was mayor, or did you have any
interaction with it at that time? I guess this would be after he had
given you the medical practice.
D: I don't, he was....
HD: He was senator then.
D: He was senator when you came here. I think it was in the twenties that
he was mayor, and he was a state senator the last part of the twenties
and the first part of the thirties.
M: Let me ask you a few things in general then about the thirties. Were
you members of any organizations during the thirties?
D: Like the Kiwanis Club or something like that?
D: Yes, my wife was a charter member of the Junior League and president of
the Junior League.
M: When did the Junior League begin?
D: It was in the thirties, wasn't it? It was after you got here, wasn't it?
HD: It was when I was still nursing Jimmy.
M: What kind of service would the Junior League provide then?
HD: We set up a clinic. I set it up with another girl.
D: Out at the hospital for the well baby clinic.
HD: The well baby and the prenatal clinic. Many of these women had delivered
their children by midwives at home. They came in to have an examination
to see if they were going to run into trouble or to be advised upon.
M: They would come into the clinic and have this?
D: Mrs. Carrie McCollum is the one that started that Junior Welfare League.
HD: Her name is Palmer now. EShe has died.]
D: The only other organizations that I was a member of was the medical
societies, of course, and the Kiwanis Club.
M: Getting back to this Junior League, did it have regular meetings also?
M: Where did it meet?
HD: It met at different places. Most of the time though they had it at the
American Legion Hall down where the library is.
D: That legion hall is still down there.
M: The one on Main Street?
D: On East University Avenue.
HD: By Sweetwater Creek?
D: Sweetwater Branch.
HD: We met at different places, wherever we could get a meeting hall for
nothing. Sometimes in schools.
M: Besides Mrs. McCollum and yourself, do you recall other people who were
in the Junior League as early as the thirties?
HD: Oh, yes. Catherine Turbeville.
D: She's a pink lady over at the hospital now.
HD: I'm trying to think of the charter members. Ellen Andrews, Jane Maines....
D: Free Duncan was a member, wasn't she? Wasn't she a Junior Leaguer?
D: Later on.
HD: She was later one, but the ones that went in just at first are the ones
who I can't remember. Catherine Turbeville was the first president.
Hazel Lee Baird was in there at that time. She was a Baird of Baird
D: No, she was a Baird of the Baird fertilizer man, not the hardware man.
HD: The fertilizer, not the hardware. It's about the same thing. I can't
think of that judge, it was Colclough, and you know that school down there
that we were talking about that--Metcalf.
D: Yes, Winnie Metcalf.
HD: Dorothy Bullard, Ellie Mae Canova. Ellie Mae died. She was a good member
too. Mary Parker McCraw, Rodney Bishop.
D: What about Temple?
HD: Temple Boltin, yes.
M: You mentioned a couple of people that I have met through these interviews.
HD: They are the old-timers.
M: Is there any final thing that you feel is very important that I have
failed to mention that you would like to mention?
D: I can't think of anything. It was just a small town in the 1930s and
now it's a great big old town.
HD: Everybody knew everybody. You didn't have any secrets.
M: Yes, people have mentioned that everybody knew everybody.
close relationship. You saw your friends regularly. They
getting together at Glass's for a soda, sitting around and
It was a very
HD: Yes, Janet Clark and Temple Boltin said she always took care of our
children. I said, "You didn't take care of them so very well." We used
to be down there every morning at Glass's getting us a Coke with, of
all things, ammonia. That was very popular.
HD: Yes, you put a few drops of ammonia in it.
D: In a Coca-Cola they used to do that.
M: What's that taste like? Can you drink that?
D: Yes, they did.
HD: I'll tell you what it tastes like: a potato salad.
The kids now are a lot nicer than they were then.
It was the in-thing.
M: They are a lot nicer?
HD: Yes, they are.
are very nice.
Even the ones that stink are nicer. Yes, they are, they