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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEWEE: Sid Grossman
INTERVIEWER: Joyce Miller
DATE: February 12, 1977
M: This is Joyce Miller. I'm interviewing Mr. Sid Grossman at his home,
3949 Northwest Thirty-eighth Place at quarter to eleven in the morning,
on Saturday, February 12. Mr. Grossman, how did you come to Gainesville?
G: Actually I was raised in Florida. I left New York in 1935 knowing that
I didn't like the northern states'kind of weather and everything else.
I decided I'd come back to Florida to try to make a living. Three of
us came down in an old truck: my father and my brother-in-law, Max,
and myself. We were going probably to work in Miami. When we got to
Miami things were kind of rough, and we decided maybe we ought to go
back to New York 'cause it wasn't any better in Florida. On the way
back from Miami we decided to go to Orlando where I had an uncle by
the name of Seigle [whom] we thought we'd visit. We stayed overnight
in Orlando and decided to go back the next day. We went through
Gainesville and sort of liked it so we decided to stay. That's how
we got back to Florida.
M: What was there about Gainesville that attracted you so quickly?
G: It seems that when I was a youngster living in Jacksonville, I had an
aunt and uncle by the name of Pepper living in Gainesville. I used
to go to Gainesville for a holiday which used to take all day to go
from Jacksonville to Gainesville in them days. I liked Gainesville
because it was a small town and people were very friendly, nothing
like New York at all.
M: What kind of facility did you set up for living quarters when you got
G: We stayed in a tourist home. Persons by the name of Fetner and Joiner
owned it. Chief Joiner's father or grandfather owned a house right
across the street from the new First National Bank. Barton Douglas
owns the building now. We stayed there in two rooms or one room. We
rented a place from a black postal delivery fellow [Days] on Eighth
Avenue, then was called Boundary Street, and we paid him ten dollars
a month rent for this old barn plus the land. He didn't want to rent
it by the month but being we gave him a full year in advance rent he
took it, because things were pretty rough then. That's where we opened
up our place to start buying and selling scrap. In about a few weeks
later my mother came down by train 'cause we had no way to eat. We
had to eat out. She stayed there until I went up about three months
later and brought my wife and my sister-in-law and her child back. I
had a car in New York at that time and I drove them back. We rented
a house behind Kirby Smith. It was on old Orange Street and the three
families used to live in this one house for about a year. That's the
way I started in Gainesville.
M: Then after that year, where did you move from there?
G: We decided that three families couldn't live together without killing
each other so we separated. My wife and I moved into Buns Furnished
Apartment on Garden Street. My brother-in-law and his wife and child
moved to the place on old Evans Street. My father and mother stayed
in the house we were in and that belonged then to the Davis family.
Paid twenty-five dollars a month rent.
M: Who were the first people that you came into contact with?
G: The first people I actually met were Mr. and Mrs. Buns. They had a
department store here and we became friendly because they were Jewish
and we were Jewish then.
M: What department...?
Mrs. G: You knew them from before, didn't you?
G: We knew them from before.
M: What store did they own?
G: They had a store behind the old Commercial Hotel on Second Avenue.
Right now I think there's a shoemaker and used to be....
M: Duval Shoe Repair.
G: Yeah. Then they used to have the Tampa Tribune or the St. Petersburg
Times paper there. They owned that building and they sold dry goods
and ready-to-wear stuff there. They lived upstairs and next door.
M: When did you get active in the synagogue?
G: At that time the synagogue was split. Mr. Buns had his own over his
store,and half of the other congregation had their own synagogue which
they were fighting among each other. My father was a cantor in the
synagogue. He just didn't like that split in Gainesville in the
Jewish religion; and he tried his best to get them together, which he
sort of did. They brought Buns back into the congregation. But we had
trouble with the older generation. They didn't want the younger genera-
tion to take over and they wouldn't do nothing. Anyway, we finally
all became members. We voted the old officers out. In fact, in 1936
I became president of the congregation and was president for two or
M: Mr. Rudderman became president after you?
G: Mr. Rudderman became president. Rudderman must have got here in '37,
M: About '36.
G: Thirty-six. He was on our side. We had the Singer boys and the Robin
boys, but their fathers didn't think the younger generation should even
come into the synagogue. We got our property back together, and we
paid off what little mortgage they owned and fixed it up. That's the
way we ran the synagogue.
M: This is the synagogue that was located on Second or Third downtown?
G: It was on....
M: Southwest Second?
G: Yeah. It was on Southwest Second between Third and....It was on a little
street there. It was between Third and Second on a little street. The
building is still there. I don't know what they use it for. We sold it.
M: So some of the families you mentioned: the Robins--were they still
Rabinowitz at that time?
G: We met a lot of families that are Jewish people. We had the Singers,
the Nasals which were very friendly, the Singers, and the Rabinowitzes,
Of course the boys now call themselves Robins but it was Rabinowitz
then. There was Dean Weil. We met his wife and him. There was about
ten or fifteen Jewish families. The Sobels were living then.
M: And Burkham, at that time?
G: Part of Burkham's family kept the Jewish faith, part of it didn't. I
don't know which part did or didn't, but they were there. The Jewish
generation in Gainesville goes way back. The Pinkersons and all which
probably--from Sam Proctor if you ever read his history on the Jewish
people in Gainesville--goes back in the 1700s, maybe earlier.
M: So it wasn't unusual to have a number of Jewish families in town at all?
G: I think that every town of 16,000 population in the South had some
Jewish people, because the Jewish people usually had little stores and
got along. Gainesville being a university town even then, there was
a lot of Jewish people even back there in the 1920s. The Sobels and
Rabinowitzes,most of them been born here. All the Peppers from Miami
were born here.
M: Did you find that because there was a solid group of Jews here in the
community, and they were for the most part store owners, did you find
that there was not as much prejudice as might have been?
G: Let me tell you my view of prejudice. There's always a jealousy
among everybody which causes prejudice. I think the only prejudice
we had is because very few people work for other people. Things were
bad and they opened up little stores. As far as Jewish people's con-
cerned, I've been in Gainesville now going on forty-two years. I've
had people call me the curly-headed Jew or that Jew. You overlook
a lot because a lot of them don't know whether it's prejudice or they're
just jealous. They thought because I came here and opened a scrapyard
and made money, why couldn't they have done it or something like that.
I've also had a lot of people that are friends of mine today that might
say once in a while, "You know, a long time ago some of my best friends
were Jews." It's according to how you would take it. I never let any-
body step on me or anything like that as far as religion is concerned,
and I've always been proud to be Jewish. I'm not strictly religious.
I'm not an Orthodox--my father was-but I had very, very little trouble
in Gainesville or any part of Florida as far as being disappointed or
thinking to myself that I didn't get it or I didn't do it because I was
a Jew. If it happened I didn't know it. I do think that some people
believe Jews alike are jealous of other people, and they use that as an
escape or something.
M: Were there any clubs perhaps that you felt that...?
G: I don't know whether I was kept out because I was Jewish. I think some
of the clubs that I was kept out of was because things happened, and maybe
they didn't like the gentleman that introduced me into the club. I had
a little problem getting into :the Elks, which I'm a member now. I had
problems getting into the Masonics which I am a Masonic member now. I
never used the argument "I didn't get in because I'm Jewish" to myself.
If I did I wouldn't of ever joined although I think the clubs themselves
from years back had people in there that caused a lot of trouble and some
of them were Jewish and they might have taken resentment towards it. But
whether it was so or not, I never used it because if I'd felt that way about
organizations, I would have never joined them.
Mrs. G: But wait a minute. There were a number of Jewish people that were members
G: There were Jewish members at all times but maybe they didn't want so many.
I don't know. In Masonics it takes only one to keep you out and the Elks,
it takes three. I've been a Lion member for over thirty years here. I was
an original charter member to Moose. I'm still a Moose member.
M: Did you join the Optimists in the thirties also?
G: I'm a life member of Optimists. When the Optimists started here, I
joined and then they broke up.
Mrs. G: It wasn't in 1930, it was later than that.
G: No, the Optimists came in the late thirties, closer to the forties.
But I'm an Optimist and, like I say, I had no problem joining a country
club or anything like that. If a person's kept out I don't think of
any organization.....I'm not talking about the Knights of Pythias that
religion is in it. I think that mainly people were kept out not
because they're Jewish or they're Irish or they're Italian, I think
it's more or less their character or something happened, that somebody's
in the club that knew about him and maybe had a personal dislike. I don't
say people. I'm pretty sure there were people in Gainesville that dis-
liked me as well as maybe something like that. But I've never held it.
I think people got mad at business. You always run into maybe some
problems. But I don't think organizations can....People can actually
say, "Well, I was kept out of country club because I'm a Jew or I'm
an Irish or I'm an Italian." I don't believe it. He may have been
kept out because he had an argument with some automobile dealer and
that guy's a big shot. That I don't know, see?
M: Did you join the country club as early as the thirties?
G: Yeah. I was nearly a charter member of the original country club of
Gainesville. Never had any problem. In fact, I joined so long ago
that the stock was only seventy-five dollars so you know that's a
long time ago.
M: Were the Weils in at that time already?
G: I don't think the Weils were ever in the country club. I don't know
if they were ever a member. They might of, I don't know. They have
a big membership.
M: Were you in...?
G: The Weils were not joiners. The Ruddermans joined the country club.
They came and the Silvermans and all. As far as I know, nearly all the
Jews in town belonged to the country club. I mean it.
M: Did your wife try to get in the women's club?
Mrs. G: I didn't have a bit of trouble.
M: No trouble at all.
G: You belonged to the women's club, didn't you?
Mrs. G: I did.
G: Well, you belong to the women's club on account of your children, espe-
cially if you got a girl. I think that's mainly....
Mrs. G: But I didn't have any trouble at all.
M: How early did you join the women's club?
Mrs. G: My daughter back then was twelve. She's forty now. Thirty-eight years
G: If she's forty now, it's thirty years ago.
Mrs. G: Yeah, thirty years ago.
M: I understand your feeling about prejudice, but for instance, Mrs. Rudderman
had very little trouble getting in. But she has something unusual. She
has a southern accent and she's from the South.
Mrs. G: That's right.
M: I was wondering if there would be a different attitude towards someone....
G: Actually I think the North had problems back in the thirties because
Florida blamed the North for their...
M: Bust in '26?
G: ...bust and all that. I believe that but I was actually raised in
Florida. I never had a southern accent. She's got more of a southern
accent, she's born in New York. I was born in Providence. She lived
in New York until she was twenty years old, but I lived in Florida.
Outside of nine months of my life I lived all my life in Florida,
except the five years that I went back to New York when I got married.
But I never.... There's always some of that "that Yankee" or "that
Canadian" or something like that, but to me it never bothered that way.
There probably are clubs that you couldn't join because of religion, but
I don't know. I don't say I'd join the Klu Klux Klans. I mean maybe
if they'd invited me, I would've, but I mean I'm just saying that I
don't know nothing about it. But I do know I've had some very dear
friends, in fact business friends,that did belong to it but me Jewish
and them not being didn't mean anything. I didn't approve of their
ideas of being a hooded, you know, a secret organization. I don't approve
of any of them. But if you look at a lot of organizations, a lot of
them are secret. I don't believe that a person should be blackballed
for the color of the skin or anything like that, but I can't talk for
M: Let's talk a little bit more about the synagogue. It was still the
Depression by '35 when you were here and the synagogue was just forming
this new group. Did that effect the synagogue at all in terms of
G: We had no problem with finances. All we owed on the synagogue at that
particular time, if I remember, was about a $1,500 mortgage. At that time
the women were running the synagogue, not the men. The men said they were
running it, but the women....When I got in as president, we went out and
sold raffles or we done something and we paid off the mortgage. We put
a new roof and then we went ahead and painted it. As things went on we
raised money to put air conditioning and heat. At one time it was just
nothing but an open building. It was built in '21 or '22, I think. They
had problems when they built it. That's what caused the split. One of them
wanted their name on top of the stone or one on the bottom and big arguments
came. I think things happened, but this is what I say in family.
I always say you should never get involved in the family dispute and
this is the same thing. The Jewish people here were like family. Nearly
everyone was a relative of somebody else except the Buns and the Weils
were sort of outsiders, but the Singers and the Sobels and the Nasals and
the Rabinowitzes were kin some way. Even the Silvermans were all brought
in because he was a cousin of this one and that's the way it worked out.
We had problems. At first, my father was sort of a rabbi free...me to help
him out and that's what....
M: Did he get paid or was that a voluntary thing?
M: No, when he was....
Mrs. G: Your father.
G: No, my father never got paid except that he made them give him I think
$100 a year that he donated back as a gift. He was funny about the way....
When he died he left it all to the synagogue anyway. Then we were part-
ners with Hillel. Hillel had a rabbi and we paid for half of the Hillel
to give Friday night service in the synagogue.
M: How early was that that they had a Hillel? Was it already here?
G: Hillel was built during World War II, around '42, '43. Original building
was brought from Camp Blanding and set up in here. A fellow by the name
Mrs. G: Sidney, they lived in a...
G: Oh, they had houses.
Mrs. G: ...house.
G: They rented houses before that. I got a nephew through marriage that was
a Hillel director here but he had it in a house. It was over there right
off of University Avenue. The house was owned by the...
Mrs. G: Leibowitz.
G: ...Leibowitz family, Leibowitz. That was before World War II. That was
right around the forties.
M: How much was membership at the synagogue?
G: Fifty dollars if you could afford it. Whoever couldn't afford it got
free membership. We turn away more now than we did then, if they turn it
away now. Then we went up. People who can afford more should give more,
and people did. We had no problem raising money. The only problem was
you had to go out and collect it. Whoever was president was the guy
walking around seeing Joe Silverman, seeing the Michaels, or seeing....
Mrs. G: Joe Silverman lived here as long as we did. The Barbers lived here before
G: But we had no problem as far as money. Sure we argued about it. It's
like anything else. We had our meetings once a month and nine times out
of ten or ninety times out of ninety-nine they went along fine. Then
you get into argument that you had to separate the keep because you always
had something. We had problems of hiring. Then we hired our own rabbi
when we couldn't make a deal with Hillel. We decided we were gonna
build a new center, which we did, and went into debts. Now we have our
own rabbi and everything else which works up to about an $80,000 budget.
M: In the late thirties, was it hard to get a minion on Saturday?
G: It was hard to get a minion anytime in Gainesville. We used to call up
or go pick them up. Are you Jewish?
G: Oh. I've been inconsistent Now I understand they put women in
it but it's getting....
M: I didn't know that.
G: Yeah. Where a woman can....
Mrs. G: can go up to the altar and read from the...just like you call up
G: If a man had __ you know is for the dead. We used to
phone, get one of the women to call or Joe to call and we'd get a minion
by ....If they would come to us, we would go. Everybody had somebody
Mrs. G: See, the women had to get then, just like the men. We had trouble,
but we had services Friday night. We had services like that and we usually
got to ten. Sometimes you didn't. High holidays we always were full.
M: Of course.
G: We were free. In other words, the members got in high holiday free.
All the surrounding...Ocala would come and Trenton and everybody would
come and pack our place, but never give us any money. Some of them did.
We did get money. The Leibowitzes had a brother in Ocala. He used to
come here and then my father tried to run the synagogue in Ocala. They got
one there they open up once a year,but it couldn't work out.
M: What year did your father pass away?
G: You've got the date. I think it's fifteen years. My mother passed away
first and then my father.
M: When someone died inthe family, would they sit at the home or would they
go down to the synagogue because it was so hard to get the people together?
G: Oh, you never had trouble at a funeral.
Mrs. G: It's either '56 or '57 'cause the first day....Some calendars they don't
G: So it's twenty years my father....The two things about Jewish religion--
I guess all religion, I don't know why I should say Jewish. Usually
you meet everybody at weddings or funerals. Had no trouble. The Jewish
religion you and usually sit at the oldest person's relatives'
house. Like for instance, being my father died, we sat here in Gainesville.
Not at this house, at a different house. My sister and all would come
over 'cause actually the son is supposed to have it. But it don't make
any difference and the people would come every night or every morning
for a minion for this seven days or for how long they set you up. But at
a funeral you need a minion for that. There was very, very little problem.
I don't think anybody ever had problems, because they made phone calls and
worse comes to worse you can always get six or seven boys from the
M: Do you recall in the late thirties perhaps, any large Jewish wedding
or Jewish funeral in particular?
G: In the thirties? No, you don't have such a thing. You might have a large
wedding but they don't have large funerals. We never state a funeral by
how large it is because a person died in Gainesville. You might have
fifteen to one Christians coming in, how many friends they got. My
brother-in-law died just three years ago and a funeral home was packed
but it wasn't all Jewish. My brother was in Key West. But in the thirties,
I don't even know of a wedding in the thirties that I remember.
Mrs. G. Gussie's daughter was married.
G: But that was in the forties.
M: Were there any Jewish professors here? Was there a quota on Jewish
G: There was a lot of Jewish professors.
Mrs. G: That's because we didn't know if _
G: Up until World War II, I guess professors didn't want it known or didn't
care to know if they were Jewish.
Mrs. G: Even now.
G: You got a lot of Jewish....You got Sam Proctor, you had Nat Drosdoff....
M: Sam Proctor was only a student in the late thirties.
G: He was sort of a student and taught at the same time. Then you had--
what's this guy's name? I just seen him in a show a couple Fridays
ago with his wife. They live over there....
Mrs. G: What does he do? Then I could tell you.
G: He's an engineer. He worked with Dean Weil for a long while.
Mrs. G: Dick Dresdner.
G: Dresdner. They were all professors of teaching. I could say you had eight
or ten that I knew of. They might of only came to show on high holidays,
but only one or two belonged to the synagogue at that particular time. As
things got along, now there must be 50 to 100. I don't know how many there
Mrs. G: There are a lot of Jewish people that work on campus, even in the veterans
hospital. You know they're Jewish and they don't associate because....
G: They don't care or they don't want to be involved.
M: Was there a sisterhood or a women's club in the late thirties?
G: Oh yeah, there was a sisterhood. As long as there was a show....Congregations
always have a sisterhood. You don't know of any of them anywherein the
country that don't have a sisterhood. Because they bake their cake, they
do the sewing, and they do the cleaning when things....
Mrs. G: We used to have card parties in
G: In that time you didn't hire a janitor. The women used to go and clean
the place up for Friday night sermon. Or else they had a wedding there.
They bake the cake and things like that. Backbone was always the women's
organization. I think any Jewish person at that time would say the same.
M: Where would the card parties be? Would they be at...?
Mrs. G: At a home.
M: At a home?
G: Somebody's home.
M: Again to raise money or just for a social?
Mrs. G: We had to raise money.
G: Mainly social and raise money.
Mrs. G: Mainly to raise money.
G: They had a lot of things. The women had the probably came out in
the forties or the thirties.
Mrs. G: During the war.
G: But the women always done something, either the older ones still do and
the younger ones enjoy doing. Nowadays a lot of women work in their
husband's business. It's hard for them. But they're always out doing
things. Wasn't for them I don't think we'd have a today.
M: Was there a Sunday school then?
Mrs. G: Always.
G: Always a Sunday school but a small class and we used to get free talent.
The people of the community would help and then we used to get students
that had Jewish backgrounds that used to get a dollar a Sunday to help.
Now they must have 125 to 150 kids but them days they might of had four
or five. It's hard if a kid had a big Bar Mitzvah. They used to get
somebody in town that knew enough Hebrew and knew enough about the thing
that would teach the kid for nothing.
M: So the Sunday school would be a combined Hebrew school and Sunday school.
In other words, they wouldn't just learn....
G: Not exactly. The Sunday school is not a combined.
M: Let me just go on and ask you another couple of questions then. Dr. Proctor
mentioned that in 1939 the synagogue undertook a project to take in a
family that they supported with groceries. They were trying to escape.
G: This was a German refugee. We took on a lot of things and it cost money.
I think the worst thing we done is we took this family in not knowing
what to do. First place, the one we got--and I don't say they're all
alike--he thought that everything was coming to him, the family. We set
him up at a little grocery store and we started him off and everything.
It just didn't work out. I can't remember their name.
Mrs. G: What was their name, Nithell?
G: Nithell. In fact, he worked for me. We even gave him a job at our place
to help him out. Then he became a meat cutter.
Mrs. G: That whole family at different times
G: But it just seems either the town was too small or we didn't know enough,
and all we were doing was running into problems. It came through the
United Jewish Appeal. I don't know how we got them. Finally they moved
to New York. He became a meat cutter, which he's doing all right. But
my impression of the Jewish families from Germany, German Jews, or whatever
you want to call them, just had a chip on their shoulder. Like it was our
fault what .was happening to them. I always wanted to give, but I
didn't want to get involved. I tried to get the but they did
anyway. They never listen. They don't always listen to you anyway.
It cost us a lot of extra money and I don't think we helped the family
like we should have, not knowing what to do. We put him in business
for himself and he couldn't make out. He didn't know and his wife worked.
He had a nice wife and he had one kid. It just didn't work out for some
reason. Then we took a mother and a daughter, or two daughters. That
worked out pretty good but we couldn't handle them in Gainesville.
Mrs. G: We had to support them.
G: They couldn't work. There was also laws for these United States about
these people. I think she went to New York. But she worked for a
Mrs. G: No.
G: ...or a fraternity. Every time we got involved in something like that,
maybe it was 70 per cent our community's fault, but we just couldn't
M: Let's change the subject now and talk a little about your business. What
made you start the scrap business when you got here? How did you get it
started and where was it?
G: My father's been in the scrap business way before when I was born probably.
He's always been a peddler of some kind. He had a scrapyard .in Jackson-
ville. That was 1928. Everything went bad and he moved back to New York.
When he was in New York, he peddled scrap.
M: What was his name?
G: Frank Grossman. I stayed in Florida about three to six months after
my folks had moved north. I came up there and I quit school. I went
on the truck with him and peddled, bought scrap, and sold it. I got a
job on Bedford Avenue with a tire company with a fellow by the name of
I stayed with him a year. I think I made fifteen dollars a
week. Then I went to work for London Tire Company in '31. I worked
there two years.
Then in '33 I got married. I never did like New York. Never did
like any place that you can't walk down the street and say hello to
somebody. New York, that's an insult even them days. Even when I got married
I told my wife that one of these days I'm going to move back to Florida.
She hated Florida. We went here on our honeymoon and she despised it. So
I worked for London Tire Company and I had a very good job. In '33, which
was the Depression, I was making thirty dollars a week. I got married
on that. I stayed with her folks. They owned a house. It seems that her
brother lost his job. My father wasn't doing much anyway. One day
I came home and I said, "Listen, I'm gonna move to Florida." I said,
"Could you let me go if I take your brother?" She felt sorry for her
brother, so we went to Florida, the three men.
We stopped in Jacksonville because we lived in Jacksonville. By the
way, we had relatives all over Florida. There was no place in Florida
we weren't kin. The Jewish religion. We stopped at an aunt's house in
Jacksonville. Then we went, like I said, to Miami, but everybody was
either so poor or they figured if they helped us in the same business
they were in, it might hurt them. We decided we were going to go back
to Gainesville. I always had my job open and, like I said, coming through
Gainesville we just hit this town. It was a day like today, beautiful
weather, and we just said we'd stay here and we did.
M: So where did you establish your business?
G: On Boundary Street.
Mrs. G: That's Eighth Avenue.
G: That's Eighth Avenue now where the U-Rental is. I rented there and then
we bought the property. My father always did like land and he never cared
for money so every nickle he got he bought land somewhere in Gainesville.
Cheap stuff. Then World War II came and we started growing.
M: In the thirties where would you buy...?
G: I peddled to the farms at different towns. I drove a truck. We'd buy
batteries and old cars and meanwhile a person would bring in fifty cents'
worth of items. A lot of money for then. We maybe only got a dollar
for it. But we accumulated and accumulated and sold old auto parts and
stuff like that.
M: Who would you sell to?
G: We'd sell to dealers like in Jacksonville and we hauled it into Wolfson--
I don't know if you know them. Louis Wolfson's father was a scrapper.
The Fletchers were in the scrap business.
Mrs. G: Margos.
G: The Margos. Them days they had a fellow by the name of Goffan,and then
in Tampa, Bass was in the scrap business.
M: So you might collect here in Gainesville but then you would haul it out
G: Sell it to whoever'd pay. We'd clean it, prepare it, and do whatever we
can to it, and then sell it. Now we have our own process.
M: How long did you stay in that location?
G: We stayed on Eighth Avenue until we had World War II and then we moved
across town where we are now.
M: Was it a profitable business before the war or was it after the war that
it became a really profitable business?
G: We never had any trouble not eating. We always had food on the table. We
always had enough to go to movies or something like that. Them days ice
cream soda was a nickle. So we never had any problem. But maybe we didn't
have new automobiles or something like that. But we never had any problems
living. We didn't starve. We didn't have to go out and beg or anything
M: Did you have employees working for you or was it just the three men?
G: We had people work for....We had one man by the name of Charlie Jones that
was in the scrap business here. It was so bad that he decided to come
work for us. He started at seven dollars a week, and most times we paid
a dollar and a quarter a day. Of course, wage and hour came in and every-
thing. He stayed with me until he died. He died in the fifties. When
we first started, we worked ourselves from one man and then we had two men.
In World War II we had twenty men working for us.
M: As early as the thirties, to make a living, was it a seven-day-a-week
G: It was always a six day, I wouldn't say it's a seven day. Even today,
though we're closed on Saturday I always read the mail. It always was
a six day to me. Of course, as things went in, wage and hour came in,
salaries went up, and we couldn't pay overtime, then it became a five and
a half day. Then it became a five day. But you always worked. I used
to travel all night to be at the place in the daytimeor get up at three
o'clock in the morning to go out so I could hit Live Oak or Lake City at a
certain time to meet somebody to buy stuff or sell stuff.
M: One other topic was football. When you came here did you immediately get
involved with the University of Florida as a fan?
G: I became a fan right away because I always liked sports. In fact, at one
time I was president of the G-man Baseball. That's a pro league but it
was a [class] D in minor league. I was with football since 1935-1936.
Haven't missed a game in-town or out-of-town except one game.
M: Since '35?
G: One game, the game they played in California.
M: When was that?
G: I don't know. The team got sick and they had to go on a different date.
I couldn't make it. I think they were playing in California.
M: You said that you were an original member of the Quarterback Club? Was
G: One of the original members of the Gainesville Quarterback Club, yeah.
M: But you don't recall the exact year. I can check that out.
G: I don't know the date.
M: When you were interested in football in the late thirties, was Coach Bachman
still here or had he been removed already?
G: We had Coach Bachman, Coach Bob Woodruff. Then after Bob Woodruff came
four coaches since I been there. We had a very bad team for a long while.
M: Do we have a good one now?
G: Compared to what it was in the thirties. The best team Florida ever had
was in '28 and I wasn't here.
M: That was when Van Sickle was still playing?
G: Yeah. But we had some ups and downs. I didn't go to college. In fact, I
went to very little school. You get into a town and you make it like
your college. You want to see it win and everything. But I like sports
and I think sports is a relief. I love TV. The greatest invention in
the world is TV to me.
M: Who were some of the other people that were in the Quarterback Club as early
as you were?
G: Well, I'll tell you, Lindsey Cellon, M. M. Parrish, myself. We must of
started the club with eighty people. Them days we had one trip a year
out of town. We used to have them train trips. Now we go by plane.
M: Did you go on the Atlantic Coastline?
G: Either Atlantic Coastline or the Seaboarder out of Waldo.
M: What kind of activities would go on on the train while you were waiting
to get to the town?
G: Any kind. It was all men so they usually gambled or drank or ate. I mean,
it's nothing out of the ordinary for the trips going up there.
M: Were the community men separated from the students? They had one car and the
band had another car?
G: You didn't have students go with the Quarterback trip. You might of got
the cheerleaders once in a while, or the band might of been hooked on to the
train. Very few of the Quarterback members had anything to do with the
students as far as football's concerned. We enjoyed getting a good
football team and praising the boys or having them at the dinner. Something
like that. We were like big brothers to the football team until the confer-
ence changed all the rules where you couldn't do it. We used to give trophies
when we were allowed. Now we can't do it. Now you have to wait till he
graduates if he gets anything. We used to give them gifts. We can't do
M: Who was the big competition at that time? Was it Georgia EInstitute of3
G: I think the biggest competition we had was either Georgia Tech--but the
biggest as far as I'm concerned was CUniversity of Kentucky. We never
won much. We went a year and a half, fifteen games, without even winning
M: Was there still ten games a season at that time?
G: It was ten and now it's eleven. We would lose the games that we were
supposed to win. That's how bad we were. We played players like Choo Choo
Justice and all. We had a couple All-Americans during that time. We've
had pretty good teams.
M: What would be the cost of a ticket to go to a game?
G: Four dollars. Then it became six. Now it's ten or twelve.
M: What about in terms of a trip that you'd take on the train?
G: Our first trip cost us fifty dollars a person including tickets.
M: That's round trip?
G: Yeah, and that included staying in the car and everything else.
M: Do you recall how far away that was?
G: I think our first trip was EUniversity of] Tennessee.
M: Would you stay...?
G: Usually stay in a car or get a hotel room. Things were cheap then. We'd
have 100 and then we could take guests if we wanted.
M: But the women never went on those trips?
G: No, not on a Quarterback trip. That's a man's trip.
M: Just the men.
G: Women don't belong to the Quarterback Club. I don't know why, but they
M: Even when it was an out-of-town thing, it was still just...?
G: We had games we took the wives, but it wasn't a Quarterback trip.
M: So there'd be special...?
G: There's one trip a year just men.
M: Other times when you went on the train though...?
G: Always took your wives.
M: Then you took your wives?
G: She went to every game except the Quarterback trip. Jewish holidays she
wouldn't go. I'd go but she wouldn't.
M: You would go?
G: I'd go anyway. I'm going to have to leave you. Thank you.