Title: Gussie Rudderman
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00024313/00001
 Material Information
Title: Gussie Rudderman
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Rudderman, Gussie ( Interviewee )
Miller, Joyce ( Interviewer )
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: December 16, 1976
Copyright Date: 1976
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00024313
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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Full Text


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
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Fair use limts the amount of material that may be

For all other permissions and requests, contact the
the University of Florida

AL34AB Page 1
Side 1A

M: This is Joyce Miller interviewing Mr. and Mrs. Rudderman in their home, Gainesville

Golf Estates at 3:30 in the afternoon on December 16, 1976. And I'd like to start

by asking Mrs. Rudderman where she was born and some of her early history prior to

coming to Gainesville.

R: Well, I hate to say how long back it was when I was born, but it was in the early

1900Ps, and I was born in Atlanta. And the unusual thing about my birth is that my

husband was born around the corner from where I was born in the same year, and our

mothers had the same midwife that brought both of us when we, when we were born. And

of course we didn't meet till we were in high school, but we always felt like we had

an association because we were born such close neighbors and through the same person

handling us when we were both babies. But we both lived in Atlanta until we were, when

wNe were married and we went to school together.

M: What year were you married?

R: We were married in 1924. But we were sweethearts front 1918 on. We were next door

neighbors and Ike used to go to Tech High School and I went to CO(n4er1C'I. High

School. And we'd ride the street car or walk. He'd walk me to my school most of the

time, and then walk on for miles and miles to Tech High School. And then most of the

time he'd make some kind of arrangement, but he'd be back when I got out of school, and

we'd walk back home together. Of course, in those days, thereAwere no cars and the,

the only thing you could do if you wanted to be together was walk or take the street

cars, and the street car cost a nickel. We didn't always have those extra nickels to

ride the street car, so we did a lot of walking in our courting days. And Ike

graduated in Georgia Tech and he went on to Tech High School.


R: I mean, Tech,...

UR: I graduated from prep school and then from there I went to Georgia Tech for a short



R: And then, when I graduated from Coynierctij I went into business. I went to work

at the, at a newspaper office when I was seventeen years old. I worked at the Hearst

paper in Atlanta, the Atlanta Georgian. And I worked in the advertising department
for a while. And then I became secretary for the publisher. Btt I worked there a

number of years and really enjoyed working there and had a lot of good experience

working for a newspaper office. As I told the reporter the other day t-hey interviewed

me, I had a marvelous time there, because I had a chance to meetaprominent people.

I remember very well William Randolph Hearst, the owner of the newspaper, coming to

a convention in Atlanta. And since I was in the publisher's office, he had a few
of -Hid"1_
letters and thingsAhe wanted done, and I took care of that for him and I thought it

was just the most marvelous thing to be associated with the man that owned so many

newspapers and was such a prominent man. At the time, the Hearst newspapers were just

all over the country at that time, and very popular and sensational papers. TheyA all

their news was put out in a very sensational way.A The Atlanta, other Atlanta news-

papers were moderate papers, but Hearst was always, he'd always look for the big

sensations, and then another time I met John D. Rockefeller, the first John D. Rock-

efeller, and he, these people came in on either business conventions or some compli-

cation with the newspaper people. And I had a lot of fun with Mr. Rockefeller. He
uk--he would
wouldAtease me alot because of my southern accent. I've always been teased because I

speak with such a Georgia drawla. uA)....

M: That's the in thing to do now, though.
When we--wh~en ,,e-- I. oIO-' o -"
R: A~~s he left, I went down the elevator with him to, sort of a eseor .a-echttgh, and

I said to him, "Well, Mr. Rockefeller, I think you ought to give me one of your famous
jk7ey'lj SCe6 krm
dimes." He was famous for giving the little street urchins a dime whenever 4cd-eeL-,
.-these Mcvw-
and they'd find out who he was and follow him. But he'd give* them theseAbrand new

dimes he used to carry around in his pocket. And he'd give it to them, and they'd

leave him alone. They knew that they eetd- get a dime if they followed him around a

little bit. He was very famous even all the way down into Florida. He came to

Page 2


live in Daytona Beach for a long while. Had a lovely home there.

M: It's too bad the city knocked it down.

R: Yes. So I said to him, "I think you ought to give me one of your dimes for memory,

to remember you by." And he said, "No, I can't do that. I just give that to the poor

little street boys." And I bet I was so disappointed because I thought would be a

wonderful thing to put in my souvenir box.

IR: Actually that home wasn't in Daytona Beach but was in Ormond Beach and is still in

existence as far as I know.

M: I thought, I knew they closed it. I thought they were in the process of tearing it

down. I could be incorrect; I know it's directly across from the Ormond Hotel.

IR:-OZ- hotel, that's right.

M: That Flagler had bought, and the two of them had associated together at the turn of

the century.

R: There's a very interesting story that my daughter-in-law tells about John D. Rockefeller.

HerAgrandfather was John D. Rockefeller's tailor in New York, and when the Rockefeller's

moved to Daytona, Rockefeller himself wanted Mr. Sherman to come down to Daytona to

continue taking care of his clothes. And he persuaded Mr. Sherman to come down to

live in Daytona. And he helped him get a little house and Mr. Sherman said I can't

make a living down there in the South tailoring because there's no, there's really no

place for it at the present time. So Mr. Rockefeller bought him a camera and he set

him up to taking pictures of families...one of these old time, is it stereo-type

cameras? You remember, the old, old type, ten-type, the tsn-type camera. And he, he

set this up in front of his house and he used to take family pictures. But in the

back of his house, he had a room where he did the tailoring. And he still took care of

Mr. Rockefeller's home-. Well, he lived there many, many years and he became a very

prominent and wealthy man living in Daytona, having been brought there by the Rockefeller

family. We always thought that the Rockefeller's sort of belonged to our family.

M: When did you leave the business of working for the newspaper?

Page 3


R: Well, I went to New York in 1923. I wanted to, wanted to see a little bit of different

things than Atlanta. I'd lived in Atlanta all my life, but I had a sister living in

New York, so I went up there. And I went to work at City College in New York. There

was a peculiar thing how I got that job. I was looking through the want ad section

to see where I could go to work, and I found several jobs that sounded like, that

would appeal to me, and I thought, well, I'd call. They gave the phone number in

those days for you to call. So I called and each place I called they'd say, "Well,

come in to see me, I want to interview you." So when I called City College, it was

closer to the neighborhood that I was living in so I thought, well, I'll go down there

first because it's closer and I'll be able to get around there. So I went down there

and interviewedAthe lady, and it was in the Registrar's office, and she gave me the
.5 a1 ay
job. And in fact, I got a higher saar y than I'd even asked for. So I was just

real thrilled when I got that job. And I asked her, I said, "I'm just amazed that

I got this job so quickly. I'd heard it was kind of difficult to get a position."

She said, "well, when I heard your voice on the telephone, I knew I wanted you to work

tEhere." So my southern accent has paid off for me in a lot of different ways.

M: Did you only work there for a year until you came back and got married?

R: Uh huh, came back and got married then.

M: And you got married in Atlanta?

R: Uh huh.

M: And then what did you do from '24 until 1936?

R: Well, that was the time that belonged to my husband. He started making plans for

us, for our family, for us, because we were only married a year before our little

daughter was born. So he always had plans that someday he would be in business for

himself, because he was the kind of man that wanted to be his own, his own boss, is

what he used to say. Isn't that right, honey? Tell about a little bit, about those

early years.

Page 4

Page 5

IR: Well, I couldn't make a living in Atlanta, to tell you the truth about it, so I

accepted a position in one of the small towns in Georgia. And, well, we switched

from one town to another; in fact I stayed in oh, might say swampholes in the

southern part of Georgia. But being a big city boy, I didn't particularly like it.

It took me along time to become accustomed toAsmall towns. Every opportunity I had,

you might say every couple of weeks, well, I used to rush back to Atlanta. Until

t4he-i t B dwqv-e, O I really belonged wit t-e i A A '"tr_ .

So I decided, after leaving south Georgia and coming back to Atlanta, I was through

with it, and someone persuaded me to move to .J1O 4 Georgia for a change. And I

stayed in, before we lived, -we'-trom one extreme to the other, from a hot climate--

Syou can say the southern cities of Georgia are hot--to a place in north Georgia called

Cornelia where we lived there in the snow part of the time. It was .a-c unusual for


R: It was up in the mountains, mountains of north Georgia.
I acr
IR: And then after a year or so, we moved back to Atlanta and thenAhad the opportunity

again to work in...

R: Florida.

IR: Back in the state of Florida. We selected Florida because I was suffering a little

bit from asthma:and thy I could get somewhere near the water, 1- VwIOUd

Le hmPeI,- nr "l& And I took evouj of 4kh-; +Cke+r -ihi vk/f-t oTveyr 4o I \ _____4
JrcX jemc oai rtA Wiil uh,
)i A malaria. When I say ctuaiiFcje I got it, good. Really got it good. So I pulled

out of there and finally went to live in, I had my own fresh business in a

town called Monticello. Are you familiar with it?

M: Yes sir.

IR: We lived there for eight years, all during the Depression years...19..

R: 4-2-1ertVny ne.

IR: Well, it was started in about 1928 and it was a hand-to-mouth existence until I had

my opportunity to move to Gainesville. I was always going to go. By that time, we


Page 6

had another member of the family. One boy, one girl and then we had another little

girl. My wife's sister's child was living with us for a while. And I was always
lookingAa little bit larger place that had a little bit of, what I would say, culture,

but I would n l- ifl associations with people of their own religion.

That's why we landed here in May of 1936, when the population, as far as I'm concerned,

was 11, 500A people.

R: Let me tell a little more about Georgia before you get to Florida. Have you got

enough on that?

M: Um hum.

R: I'd like to tell you some of the early experiences that we had living in the country

towns in Georgia. We lived in the country town called Lumber City, Georgia. I
don't think there were over three-hundred people in the town.

IR: About 500 supposedly.

R: Well, it was a small amount of people any And there was a retail store, and he

was hired as the manager for this store. Now this town didn't have any electricity.

The store that he was operating had a Delco system to put lights in his store, and it

also took care of the street lights on the corner, the one little downtown corner that

we lived in, of the town that we lived in. And when we went to Lumber City, Georgia,

there were no roads that lead into the town and no bridge over the, over the river.

And we were on the truck and we forded the river on a raft, on the, on the truck with

our belongings. Ike and I and our baby, and all our little belongings were loaded onto

this truck and this man forded us across the river to the little town. And we lived

there for about a year. We didn't have any lights in the house. We used kerosene

lamps] O4nd no indoor plumbing,, Od, and there was no heat in the housed We used

fireplaces with big logs to heat the house. And yet, I guess, we were the happiest

people you ever saw. I guess actually because we were young. I think you don't feel

like you have any privation when you're young and happy and enjoying life, and you

don't have any, too many demands. There was not anything that we thought we were


Page 7

lacking, because we were enjoying what we were doing. We didn't look for any

fine things; we didn't have any, but we didn't look for them. So we were contented

with what we had. But, of course, we always had the hope that someday we would

accomplish more. The main thing we always wanted was to be able to own an automobile.

That was the thing that we always hoped for.

M: When was the first "' *
R: Well, when we finally, it was about, it took us about three-'years more. In 1927, I

think, we were able then to buy a car. We moved up to north Georgia then and that year

he was very fortunate. He worked on a- commission basis and the store did well that

year, and they gave him a bonus of $700f,0'and we bought our first car with that bonus

that he got that year.

IR: Imagine buying a Pontiac for around $ff2= 700O.00

M: Um hum. As compared to maybe five or six thousand today.

able to buy an automobile. Then we felt we were really on the road up. And of course,

then going to Monticello and going into business for ourselves was the big thing, because

then we felt like we wouldn't have to keep moving every year. Every year he'd move

because somebody else would offer him atittle bit more salary. So we'd pick up and go

because we felt like that was the advancement that we were getting. But we were very

unhappy changing places of living year, you know, stay in one place a year and move.

It just wasn't a happy situation with us. And we're really home people. We like to

establish a home and keep it.
M: Now, you say you moved to Gainesville because of people of \4e-same background.

R: Um hum.

M: How did you know that that was the situation in Gainesville?

IR: We weren't aware of it at the time, but we knew it was a much larger town and of

course we knew that the town had a synagogue which we were very much interested in

and the opportunities for the children were here too.


AL34AB Page 8

R: The.- the schools, mainly, vere what we were interested in. And the university being

here had a lot to do with it because we felt like there would be opportunities for us

to learn from the university as well as chances for our children to grow up and go to

the university. We didn't know whether we could ever afford to send our children

away to school, so knowing that we were going to a university town gave us hopes then.

IR: But we did, even we ex ~r=3g in Monticello, we sent our daughter$ to the University

of Wisconsin.

R: No, we lived here then. She didn't go till 1940.

IR: Oh, you're right. I'm ahead of myself.

R: We were able to afford to send them to school but in those years we didn't know whether

we would be. That's why we mainly came to Gainesville, because of the opportunities

we saw here. And of course the chance to get the business was something that was just

aApiece of luck for us. We were fortunate to have a friend that was a banker in

Monticello and he lent us the money to come over to Gainesville to open our first

place of business.

M: And you mentioned one of the things that you knew was here was the synagogue. Is that

the synagogue that was located, oh, about three blocks -off of downtown?

IR: Second Place.

M: Three Second.
TR: Mnv ^m-,.ThxAi IJa it.
R: SW 2nd Place.

M: And about how many members were there when you came? f; y-fiV
IR: I think that the amount of families that they had here, would you say there were-35-or
49-/Jewish families?

R: I think that or less.

M: And that would have included Beekanm s-. iVkuM 2

IR: That's right.

IR: Who's that?
IR: Who's that?

AL34AB Page 9

M: R Ae--ls. They might have gone by...

R: Robbin:q family. Th had been-o~pb family, were here longer than any of the

Jewish families that we ) that we knew of. Kopliwitz family and the Grossman family

lived here.

IR: Round"Bl'stine -io,-h e it.

R: The LeboVitz family. The Brownstein who's store we, we bought. They moved away when

we came here. And the Bunce family was here. I think that's about as many as were

here. He says 35-families but...

IR: No, there was more than that. I can think of them, I'm trying to think of the names

as you're going along. One was an attorney. Do you remember the one who passed away?

He lived here and his father had a place of business on the ...

R: Sobol, the Sobol family.

IR: Sobol family.

R: They were a very old, ol1-time family here. Very fine family that lived here. And

the Edlestein family lived here. But...

IR: And the Grossman group were here.
/et47, T Co-'A {k+^.
R:A But we, when we belonged to the synagogue, it was right after the Depression and it was

very difficult supporting the synagogue. Actually there would be about +i- people that

paid synagogue dues. The rest of them, maybe, would come once in a while, or maybe
Wje re- -twe.e-
War2-e not too interested. But there was about -3- families.

M: Do you recall what those dues were?
Tv'nI y- QiLe Idolr.s
IR:A 5'a year.

M: For the whole family.

R: Uh huh, for the whole family. And besides that, the city had, had paved the sidewalk

in front of that, and we had to pay sidewalk fees, and that was another thing that was

very difficult to collect enough money up to pay for -he sidewalk fee that we had to

pay, in addition to the mortgage. They had a big mortgage on the synagogue.

M: Well, who led the services? There was no rabbi at that time.

Page 10

IR: No, you know, as far as the Jewish religion is concerned, you don't particularly have

to have a rabbi. Anyone who's capable of leading to the satisfaction of the group,

and at the time, I think we had...

R: Mr. Grossman.

IR: ...Mr. Grossman...

R: Sidne Grossman's father was our leader for many years.

IR: And t~L-f the years we were, we were able to get the services of students who were

pretty doggone good as far as handling the services was concerned, and we got along Ver


M: I must remember to look up Mr. Grossman himself, the younger Mr. Grossman.
a bo'Vd A
R: Yeah, he would have some wonderful stories of -trat Gainesville because...

IR: That's Sidney.

R: ...he-s been in business. In fact...

IR: Gourse there's a younger one here now, his son. Now Sidney has retired and turned

the business over, I think, to his son, and his son-in-law.

M: Now he was in...

R: Scrap iron.

M: ...a junk business or something.

R: Scrap iron.

M: When we first came up here, almost the first month we were here, we met him at the

University Inn. He used to go there alot for breakfast and sit and talk to my father.

R: Yes. Well, he's a very popular man -a=eg the young, sporting fellows here in Gainesville.

Sidney is considered a real big sport and a football enthusiast. He goes on all the,

all the football trips and everything.tj

IR: All types of sports.

R: ;',He and Ike used to go to the World Series years ago. And Sidney liked to go to

everything in the field of sports.

IR: Still does.


Page 11

R: So, they used to have real good times together when they were young men.

M: Did you ever go on the train to football games with him?

IR: No, I never cared much for that.

R: We went on the train to football games. We went to a game, to Miami, when they

had the special, football game special, but that wasn't that, that many years ago.

That probably was in the -5 when we took the football special to Miami. But...

M: Now getting back to the synagogue, what kind of activities would there be? Would there

be Friday service and Saturday morning service or was there also teaching?

IR: Friday services mostly and it was difficult to have Saturday services, just as, it is

just as difficult today.

M: Today. Because of the lack of eminr.?4 m& 'i0on

R: That's right.

IR: And of course when we had the High Holidays we -5Wore a IVIle skoa, used to be crowded

with so many students. I remember several occasions where the place was so crowded.

a+d-particularly because of the students that we had more on the outside than we had

on the inside, just listening.

R: And we'd open the windows and open the door, and they'd stand in the doors and the

windows and listen to the service because there just wasn't room for everybody to get


M: Now during the High Holy days, would they hire a rabbi from outside?

IR: On occasion.

R: Not in those early years;after, after a few years after we paid off the mortgage and

people got in better circumstances, then we were able to hire a rabbi for the, for the

Holy days.

IR: We forgot to mention Dean Weils, family.

R: Yes.

IR: On \d-r on. en g re CfIaicr one5 here.

R: The dean of the engineering college. He was actually one, one of the Jewish families


Page 12

that had been here longer that was still living when we came here. He had been here,

I think, way earlier than 1926, I'm not sure how early he came, but he was the dean

of the engineering college. And he did a lot of, lot of things for Gainesville.

M: Well, what was the reaction of the non-Jewish community to the Jews in town, being

that they were in prominent positions, both as you mentioned, Dean Weil's as well

as merchants? Was there any kind of resentment?

IR: No, not that I'm aware of.

R: Well, I feel like there was. There was a lot of things, I think, that came up. Now

Dean Weil was very well respected, and I doubt if he ever had any problems of, I don't

like to say antisemitism, but a lot of times Jewish people not being accepted in certain

areas. But, I could see a lot of it when we first came here. In the first place,

there were very few Jewish professors working at the university. And there were even

a quota on Jewish students, so there was a problem that had to be overcome. And then

other things happened. I, when I first came here, I wanted to join the Woman's Club.

And I was, my name was put up by Mrs. Weil and...

IR: You were already a member from Monticello so she just wanted to transfer.

R: But when my name came up, they turned it down, and so we...Mrs. Weil tried to find out,

and they said well, they just didn't think they wanted to have Jewish women in the club.

M: But Mrs. Weil was already in and she was Jewish.

R: Mrs. Weil was Jewish, but they didn't want to start having groups of Jewish women &40 '"

Well, at that time, they didn't understand Jewish women. They understood Mrs. Weil.

She was a very refined lady, and they had heard, and probably had seen or been told

about Jewish families. You know, in those years, even in Miami, there were signs out

"restricted clientele", and...

M: It was still true in the 50&- in Miami, such as the Kenworth Hotel.

R: Yes. And the people just heard all these things. They didn't know what Jewish people

were, but they just heard all these rumors, andAthey were afraid to accept Jewish

people because they didn't know anything about them. And, they didn't know anything


Page 13

about me when I first came there, except that I had a Jewish name, that's the only

thing they knew about me. And, so, Mrs. Well went to bat with the president of the

Woman's Club at that time. She was a Mrs. Neville, that was, herhusband also was-

connected with the university. And they made a talk before the group and told them

that they just didn't see how they could refuse to accept a person on account of their

religious belief. And said if they, if they knew me, they would like me. So they
of the.
invited me to come to the Club. And I got acquainted with all a ladies, and they

thought I wasn't any different than they were. That, I'm sure, maybe speaking with an

accent might have made a difference, but I didn't speak with an accent. I was just

a southern girl, just like they were. And they accepted me just beautifully from then

on. And from that day on, there was never any discussion about accepting a lady whether

she was, according to what her religion was.

M: What year did you become a member?
+iir-{y- ix.
R: In '- I came immediately, as soon as I came in I wanted to join the Woman's Club.

IR: Something along those lines too, is when I was invited to become a member of the

synagogue. I think the same day that Dean Well asked me in, to be a member, that very

same day I was elected president and I had the presidency for about three years.

Couldn't get rid of it.

M: Of the synagogue?

R: Yes.
, ye h.
M: They were definitely looking for leadership.

R: Yes, they were looking for...and he was a young, aggressive man in those days, with a

lot of good ideas, qnd willing to help.

END OF 5tbE 1A


AL34AB Page 14
Side 1B

M: Was there a separate woman's organization?

R: Yes.

M: Or, and was there Sunday school or Hebrew school for the children?

R: It was during ea the first year that we came here. I don't know 0 whether it was

when I was president of the sisterhood, but it was close to those years that we started

a Sunday school for the children in the synagogue. And we'd have it on Sundays. And

we didn't have separate classrooms, so we had to divide the benches up. Each group of

benches would be a different class, and the mothers would come and teach the Sunday

school classes. And we did that for many years. In fact, there were a lot of hard-
uje--theqret wem,
ships, because there wasn't any way to heat the synagogue, and we hated having the

children come there when it was cold. Finally, Ike and another group of men got together,

and they put a little coal heater in the synagogue. But then somebody had to go down

there early in the morning to light this coal heater so it would warm up by the time

the children got there. So there were a lot of hardships, but nobody seemed to mind.

Everybody had a good time doing, doing their share, and the mothers all pitched in and

came and taught Sunday school. And of course they learned themselves too, because

they had prepared themselves for what they wanted to teach the children.

M: Well, what year did you belong to the Gainesville Country Club?

R: Well, I think we moved out to the Golfview subdivision in 1937. We were very lucky

when we came here. We got into a business that, maybe the town was waiting for some-

thing like we were doing. And we got into it and worked real hard and it's like a

Horatio Alger story-if you keep trying and trying and trying, you're going finally hit-

you keep saying I can do it, I can do it, and then finally you do it. And our first

year that we came here, we did very well. And it seemed like the people were looking

for the type of store that we put in. And so we did very well that first year. The

next year...we only rented a house for one year. The next year we bought a house out

in the Golfview subdivision. Of course, we bought a house that was very beautiful, but

we only paid $9000.4for it. This last couple of months ago, that house sold for $78,000.00

Page 15

That same house that we lived in.
5eca(use of
IR: w-BtAwe had added...

R: We'd added a lot of things.

IR: ...quite a bit of territory to the adjoining lots, oh, about...

R: We bought three extra lots around the house, and remodeled the house. But it was a
beautiful house to start with. AndAthe time we bought it, it was considered one of

the nicest homes in Gainesville, because at that time people were building homes that

cost $3,000.00.

IR: $3-.OO1I believe.

R: And if you built a $6,000.ohome, you really had a very nice home. And a $9,00oQawas really
50 -4o SZ~, o?
considered like a mansion. Like what they consider now the 4QiOS homes.

M: So did you immediately associate with the country club, being that it was almost across

the street?

R: I believe we joined immediately because we were just three doors, three houses from the

country club. We joined immediately. It didn't cost but-0l. to join. And vJe wVerc....

M: Was that per year or was thatAjust the mandatory...

R: The initiation.

IR: That was for4certificate.

R: Yes, initiation fee. Aind u .....

IR: The dues were very high.

R:...I don't know who put, who put our name ontit, but I imagine it was Dean Weil.

M: Well, did you have any difficulty getting in there...

R: No.

M: ...because of being Jewish.

R: No, because there were alreadyAone or two Jewish members, and I think when the ice

is broken the first time, then it's not as difficult for the ensuing people to get in.

IR: Our very close friend was a member and he lived...

R: WhoGwas that?


Page 16

IR: Marcus.

R: Oh, Marcus Edlestein.

IR: Marcus Edlestein, and that was the reason primarily for us even considering moving out

near the club.

R: They had a home out there. We were very good friends.

M: And so the Jewish families in town were scattered. There wasn't one particular section

they lived in.

IR: No.

R: No, uh uh. Most of them lived out in the east part of town.

IR: Around the Highlands.
R: And a few of them were in the Highlands. Lebowitz family always had a pretty home

out in the Highlands. He used to have the L & L Men's Shop there, the original

L & L Men's Shop downtown. And the family, the Rob6in's family now,

was really one of the pioneer families of Gainesville, as far as living here a long time,

but being associated with everything that occurred in the university town. The

university boysthat wanted to live in a Jewish family would board with Mrs.

And she was very famous for her good meals.

M: Where did she...where was her guest home?

R: Her first home was on University Avenue where the, I guess it's still there, the

Strike's bicycle place, andAshe had a big, old-fashioned home set back off the road

on University Avenue with a big porch all the way around, and she was a very, very

kind lady. And she loved the students. She had three, I guess, three or four big

boys; how many more is in the Robbin's...

IR: Four. + ""re

R: Four boys, and they were all university students. She didn't have any girls.AAnnd she

was just really famous...like a housemother. Whenever the boys wanted to go to eat,


Page 17

they'd, they'd either be invited or they'd offer to pay for a meal there at the

home. They, they were a very fine family. And then we had, finally,

we were able to get a Hillel house here. And it was in a rented house right off the

University Avenue. And...

M: Do you recall what year that was that Hillel came?
R: I believe it was in the, in the later "-'O. Maybe about 1938, and they sent a rabbi

down here, and then we were really happy, because we had a young Jewish family and a
\c-\e'5 46)
very fine rabbi and speaker, Rabbi he is the rabbi now in, I think,

Dallas, Texas, is that is, is that his, I'm not sure that that's where he is now, but

he's, he has become a very prominent rabbi in this country. But this was his first

parish, and he and his very attractive young wife came here to live. And they lived

in this big home, and then we made a Hillel foundation out of the other parts of the

house. So we used to have meetings there, oh, more than once or twice a week. All

the t fro eLe used to entertain for the students, Jewish students there. We'd

give suppers there and we'd have Hanakkah parties and whatever occasion came up, we'd

go to the Hillel house and have the students, and we were very close to the students,

and whatever Jewish professors were here. Now in the early years, a lot of professors

didn't want to acknowledge that they were Jewish. They would just, they felt likethere

was some kind of stigma attached to.being Jewish, or you couldn't have advanced as fast

if you were. So they didn't associate themselves very much with the Jewish people. Of

course a few of them did, and I'm sure that they had a very happy life, those that did

join the congregation. Well$ now, we have the most prominent Jewish doctors and

professors that belong to our synagogue that are really the background and the backbone
of our congregation now. And it seems like to meAsuch a miracle that we could build

up our congregation to have what we have now in comparison to what we used to have

in those early years.

M: Let's go back and talk about your store some more. You mentioned that you bought


Page 18

the store from another gentleman who left town. What was his name again?

IR: Brownstein.

M: Brownstein.

IR: I didn't buy the store from him. He was, he was moving out to a larger operation in

Jacksonville. And I just came in to the store that he been in...

R: Yeah, but you bought all the equipment and everything.

IR: I bought part of the equipment that he had, and part of the fixtures.

M: And where was this store located?
IR: It was located on the south side of the square downtown. AndACox's furniture, after

the fire on the square, finally moved over next to us, RtuddJ And you know

that Coxs*p now -tand to where we used to have a store.

M: So that section that they've added was your store?

R: Dale's now, Dale's Gift Shop is now where Rudder's used to be. But at that time, in

those early years is when we had the old courthouse, the original, old courthouse, and

the whole courthouse square was covered with tremendous oak trees, on both sides of the

street, all the way around the square. The trees were higher than the two-story

buildings that, that our store was in. They were huge trees and beautiful and the

whole street was a shaded street, a gorgeous situation there where you really felt like

you werejactually in the woods more than you were in, in the downtown area.

M: What kinds of things did your store sell? Did it sell all clothing, for men and women?

R: We sold clothing for men and women and children. But the things that we sold that's

unusual was heavy underwear. I'll never forget the hundreds of dozens of men's union

suits that we used to buy) Cknd ladie's long underwear; Ihe kind of underwear that 4,h/

-hahad legs in them, that they used to pull their stockings up over this underwear. And

children's underwear. And children's long stockings. They wore stockings up over

their knees. Now that's even in the '"es, Athose were the interesting things that...

we sold what we called tobacco cloth. The farmers used to cover their tobacco fields

to make shade tobacco. And they used to put stakes out on the fields and come to our


Page 19

store and buy tobacco cloth. It looked like a gauze, and we sold it in tremendous

bales. And they used to come and buy hundreds of bales, hundreds of yards of tobacco

cloth in great big bales.

IR: Not here.

R: Yes, we did, when we first came here.

IR: Did we?

R: And in addition to tobacco cloth, we sold, let me see what I was going to say, was

muslin. People used to make all their sheets and children's clothes and aprons and

housedresses out of unbleached muslin. And we used to sell that by the yard. But

at that/time, it used to be ten or twelve cents a yard.

IR: She's got a retentive memory to tell you; about a lot of the things she's telling you,

I'm a little bit surprised at myself. I'd completely forgotten about it.

R: Well, this is why I'm writing my story, because I love all these memories. And I

could talk about the tobacco cloth, or I could talk about the muslin and I could make

up a whole story about a family that used the muslin.

M: That's OK, this is fine.

R: And what else...and then high-topped shoes. Mostly men's. I don't think we sold

women's high-topped shoes here in Gainesville.

IR: No, we did the smaller towns though.

R: We did that before we came to Gainesville. We used to sell high-topped shoes. In

fact, when we were in this town of Lumber City, we sold high-topped shoes that were

button shoes that you used to have to have a button hook to pull through and pull the

button through the button, through the button hole. But when we came here, we sold

mostly, it was, work shoes. We sold a lot of work shoes for men. And you could sell

a pair of men's heavy brogan work shoes for $1.99.

M: Well, was your store just one level?
J;ke u
R: At first. But, in fact, it was a real old-fashioned looking store. Like real

country store. It had, it had a stairway that went up ratbetwen the middle of the


Page 20

store, and upstairs was the old Oddfellow's Lodge. It was a great big hall. And

we had, we had the two underneath sections with the stairway splitting the store. And

we used to have to run around the stairway to wait on people in the otherApart of the

store. We had that only for a few years, but we realized it wasAhurting our business,

so we had the stairway taken down. And we put an inside stairway, and used it for a

storeroom for a few years. And then that opened up the whole front of the store, but
-for,4-, C-
it was still one floor for a good many years. It was not until about, in the "S& that

we added the second floor as a retail space.

M: What would your...would you say your competition was Wilson's or which particular

stores did...

R: Well, Wilson's was really not our competition because it was considered the high-

class store, and that's where everybody went to buy their fine clothes and everything.

Our store was more or less like a country store and we catered to the people that wanted

popular priced merchandise. We sold housedresses for $1.98 and even ladies' shoes

were in that price range. Well, that's in the early years. Of course, we built up

the store till where we became a very fine store too, But in the early years, we started

off, because it was right after the Depression, and people just didn't have any money.

And we were able, by traveling mostly...Ike was a very fine merchant, and he knew

how to find out where, where things were available. He'd go to all the mill towns in

Georgia. And whatever leftover things that they had that were not on order, he would

buy up in bulk lots. And then he became friends with a lot of people that were in the

wholesale business that would give him extended credits. He always had the kind of

personality that people felt like they could trust him.

IR: Well, at this point I'11 leave...you continue.

M: You sure you don't want to stay?

IR: No.

M: enK. oo cut
R: D't hin k -ore ,eng io a .. dcntuckedm
IR: Don't you think you're getting enough information? You don't need me.



R: Well, we like having you.
IR: Well I like listening and uh after you get through with that tape I'd like to
listen to it myself, maybe I can a few things about vYle.

R: Well let's see, what else can . .

M: I was going to ask you about the advertising, did you advertise in the Gaines-

ville Sun or um did you ever advertise in the alligator?

JIR: No, I'll tell you our form of advertising was entirely different. We never, we only
used the newspaper to print us large sheets, and then we used to hire boys to take
the sheets out and put them in all the cars, andAthe wagons I imagine. I don't

remember there was too many wagons around, and spread 'em around town.
I:And deliver them to the houses.

1RKf And deliver, and put 'em in the, well I don't think we put them in the mailboxeS.
R; No, we delivered 'em to the houses.

JIR: But we had uh full page, I don't think I see to many of them lately/but it was a

little bit larger than our present sheet, and perhaps two times or three times

a year we'd have a, we'd put on a big sale. And uh just prior to that why pro-

bably I would go to the markets for promotions where I could pick up merchandise

to put out-on the price. And those were the days when we really used to have the
crowds, in fact of the matter they would be crowding the entrance of the store
before we even opened up.

MA #: Were you open six days a week?

KR~f'+his was interesting, our hours . .
M: What hours were you open?

Rd: Hours were very interesting. We'd open at e4jht-o4-c +ek in the morning but we
stayed in the store till tefn-.-e-cek every day, and on Saturday we would stay
+111 rn:-T\welve in +ne V Cvii~l? R;:TwJet f. Xv'-ist.
-unti4 twelve. And the amazing thing is.that the people would come to buy, to make

purchases in, that late at night. We never could understand why people came so late.

M: The groceries were open on Saturday night also.

R4:'A Uh huh, and uh,


JK4:A See, Saturday used to be a payday, payday used to be once a week, and of course
a lot of the turce that we catered to, particularly the blacks, they'd
get payed off on Saturday, and uh they'd spend their money on clothes or groceries, 0YVc
things of that sort and by Monday they were broke again. So Saturday was always
our big day for business. And we used to hire a lot of students, give them a
13.00 or posirby t5.o
flat salary, maybe thre- detrs-. the tonp 'old-fve fie-dOthhs, and a per-
centage on top of that.

M: Would that be per week?

IR1 : Per day.
M: Three dollars a day?
K: For r.nri .
R: On Saturday, mostly,
R-: Feo-SaturdayW Tat was our, but they worked long hours, they worked till the store
w 4
closed. And they were a big help to us, we made friends -i- so many students.
19;: We were a big help to them to because that was their only source For getting

additional money.

M: Um hum, and that was a good salary.
IR?: And a lot of them were, a lot of them were sons of merchants, and they were
familiar with that type of business. We help any, a doctor and a lawyer through
their college years.
KR: We still are in contact with many of the students that worked for us when they
we" here at the University that are very, very prominent people now, and they still
have the nicest affection for us. We got a letter yesterday from a lawyer in
Miami that used to keep books for us in our early years, and he had uh, my

daughter had sent them the write-up in the paper.
M: And who was that?

1l': This is Gary Rosen, he's a, in fact he's a judge he's Judge Rosen in Miami
now .a l wit thc 'rt'~'tfe

Page 22

And he wrote the sweetest, dearest letter. When it came yesterday, it brought tears

to our eyes when we realized how much this fellow thought of us. It was such a good

feeling to know that a young man from that many years back would remember us and have

such a good feeling.

M: How many years ago did he work for you?

R: Well, they'v"been married over -rears. They married the same length of time as


IR: Oh, -39fyears?

R: Uh huh. So I guess it was years ago that he worked for us.

IR: He kept our books for us.

R: He kept, he did the bookkeeping for us. Before he came, we used to do the bookwork.

We used to go to work on Sundays and do our bookwork. We worked all day, every day
rVV eIve-
of the week till 10:00 at night. -42-on Saturday then go back Sunday after breakfast

and do our bookwork and get ready for...

M: While the store was closed on Sunday?

R: ...and get ready for the next week. But the most exciting things in our store was on

Saturday nights, around 8:00, it seemed like everybody that was in town would congregate

in our store. And it used to be like a carnival. People in there buying like they

were afraid the things were going to get bought up, that they wouldn't have a chance to

buy. And all you had to do was go around and ask a person what did they want, and

they'd ask you to wrap this up. It was not, you just didn't even have to try to sell
or show themA just either give them their size or, the cutest thing I remember was

selling ladies' hats. They used to love hats, because they went to church, everybody

went to church-they still do I'm sure-but they'd wear hats and gloves to church.

And on Saturday nights it was the cutest thing. They had their money with them and

the biggest thing seemed to me, to them was to come to get a new hat and a pair of

gloves to wear to church. Course we sold a lot of other things, but those things were,

it just stuck in my mind that these were the vain things that people wanted. That is


Page 23

when the time came that they could have a little extra money over there.

M: So the store was very prosperous then, right from the start.

R: Right from the start, we were very fortunate to get it off to a good start. And then

as time went along, we added better and a little more nicer merchandise. And we began

to get the town trade'and we finally built up to where we had a very, very fine
department store, but we never lost ourAcustomers. They always came back, so we

accumulated the..,we had our old customers and then we had the townspeople. And...
WeUA the
M:: rou say you had the old customers and thenAtownspeople. Were most of your old cus-

tomers then university people?

R: No.

M: Or students?

R: The newer:people were the university people that we would get.ARIBut our first customers

were the, were the black people and the people that had to buy for very low and

popular merchandise, because Wilson's then sold what we considered the high-class

goods. And then when we, when we could uptrade, trade up some, why, then we began

having...but the thing that I used to love in our store--whenever I'd buy anything, I'd

always buy something one price higher than was our popular price. Since I was selling

the item for $2.00, I'd say, well, I'll buy one or two pieces that sell for $5.00.

And those $5.00 pieces always went so fast. I'd make that my next standard. I'd buy

the $5.00 pieces and then I'd say, well, I'll try a $10.00 piece and see how this would

go. This is all learning, learning how to merchandise. And when I'd see the $10.00

pieces go, I kept increasing until I find out what the demands were. And that's how

we finally accomplished getting into a better bracket. And we have people now in

Gainesville that tell us, I used to buy all my clothes in your store and I loved your

store when you had it, and young kids would come in and tell Ike even now that my

mother used to take me up.- We finally had a children's department on the second floor.-

and fit me up in the beautiful clothes that you used to carry. We did carry a very

fine children's department, finally. In fact, Gainesville has never had a real fine


Page 24

children's store since we, since we gave ours up. Course Maas Brothers has nice

things now, but it was never a real classy children's store like we had. We had the

Boy Scout department up there, and made it, dressed it up to a very fine store, and the

children were real proud to have their parents bring them up there and buy their


M: Well, do you recall the 1938 fire that was on the west side of the square.

R: Oh, yes, that was...uh huh...that was, that was, we were very close to that fire

because my sister, at that time, had come to Gainesville and met one of the Edlestein

bachelors, and she was married to him. And he had a shop on the square and they both

worked in the shop. One of my older sisters.

M: Where was that shop?

R: That was on the, where the Miller building is now, where the L & L used to be, whatever's

in there now. I don't even know what the name of the store that's in there now. But

in was in that, that square where...

IR: Next door to where Stag and Drag was.

R: Yeah. Stag and Drag is the one I'm thinking of, in that, in that...

IR: I think it was called the Fashion Shop.

R: Yeah. And it was, it's now the Miller block. But it was, it was called the 100ifo r ce1-

location of downtown Gainesville. All the nicest stores were in that, were in that

block, in that square. And where Baker's is now, was Conoga's Drugstore. And next

to Conoga's was Oscar Thomas' hardware store. And the fire started in the hardware

sttre. It was, he had a lot of paint in the back of the store andAI'm not, I couldn't
b 4_
say definitely what, what combustion startedA but we always understood it was a lot

of rags and paint and wires lying around, and that, that's the way that the fire

started. And we immediately heard that there was a fire downtown and came down...

M: How did you hear? Did you hear it on the radio or bells?

R: No, someone called us up.

M: Called you.


Page 25

R: They called us up and said there's a fire downtown. It may have even been the

police that called us, because we had a business downtown. And it was in the evening

and I think it was close to about 9:00 at night. And we took our two children and

we came downtown to see where the fire was and what was happening. Well, when we came,

half of the block was already burning, and the fire was, flamed right up into the

sky. And then the fire, the frightening thing was to see it turn the corner. It

turned that corner going down to where Cox Furniture Store was. They had a big

furniture store down in the center of that block, and next door to Cox's Furniture

was Judge Tench had a shoestore, and it was, the fire was just traveling. You could

see the, you could see the flames, and the fire, the wind, it must have been a windy

day. I compare it a lot to a big fire that I saw in Atlanta when I was a, when I was

a child, when half of the city of Atlanta was destroyed. And most of the problem was

that the wind was blowing so strong, and carrying the flames. And the fire, the

chars of fire were being swept over the buildings, and blowing into the, into the stores

on down the street. And we, we stood there and watched the flames just go through the

whole buildings. They could see the roofs of the buildings collapse. To me, that

was the most horrifying thing to see, to see the.....



AL34AB Page 26
Side 1B

R: ...equipment, whoever had equipment; I'm pretty sure there was some from Archer and

from, I think it was Newberry too, but they sent their firefighters, the volunteers

and so we had a lot of help. And everybody in Gainesville--the men volunteered carrying

buckets of water and doing things;..it was absolutely amazing to see how many people

were working to try to help to control the fire. When they came, were getting down

to -Te[ehS Store, they made a brigade of people; formed a line and they went into

his store and starting carrying out the shoes, and they'd give a stack of shoes to

people so they carried it out to the courthouse lawn and stacked all his, his stock out

on the courthouse lawn. They tried to do that in Cox's Furniture store. You'd see

three or four men carryingAicebox; I don't know if we had refridgenators in those

days. And carrying out pieces of furniture. The whole courthouse was loaded. The

courthouse lawn, with things that they were trying to save for these merchants. Every-

body was trying to help, and of course we had the fear that the wind would blow the

fire over the corner of the street and get towards our block. We were fortunate that

it didn't. The fire that I wrote about in Atlanta, it just blew over the corners and

took squares, one square after another by the wind blowing the flames and the burning

embers across the roads.

M: Well, how long would you say it took before the square was cleaned up and building

began again?

R: Oh, it took a long time. The town was so desolate, it looked so bad. I'm sure it

must have been more than a year before Gainesville overcame that fire. The, my

sister and her husband were able to get a little tiny store down there where J. C.

Penney!s is now. There were a lot of delapidated stores in that block. Tiny, little

cubbyholes. Used to be littleAcoffee shops and little restaurants and newsstands and

things of that sort in that block. And they were able to get one in there. Course

their, their store was destroyed entirely. There wasn't anything that...

M: Did they have any insurance?

Page 27

R: Yes, they had some insurance. Enough to give them a little start to be able to buy

some more stock. And they had, they did a big credit business. And their books were

destroyed. And the most marvelous thing happened that people were so kind that those

that owed him money came and told him what they owed him and people paid their bills.

They just didn't say because the books were destroyed we're not going to pay up. And
h m
many people helped them out by coming along and saying I know how much I owe you and

I'll pay you and this will help you get started again. So it, just the kindness of

people, the good heartedness of people that really make this world, that give people

a beautiful picture of what humanity can be.

M: What happened to their second shop?

R: Well, their second shop, they did very well. They build it up and when the new

building was put up where it is now, then they were able to go back in their old

location. And they had a very, very classy shop. It was called the Fashion Shop.

I think he told you. And they carried real high-class, very fine clothes, where you

could pay fifty or sixty dollars for a dress or go in and get a formal for $75.41nd

things of that sort. And they, they, most of their business was on credit because in

those days everybody, well, now, it's the same thing. You buy things on charge accounts.

M: Could people buy, could they buy on credit at your store also?

R: Not at, no, not, I don't think we ever did have a, we never did have a charge business.

I never remember that we had a charge business. Now we do, in our little shop, but it

was always on a cash basis, and people seemed to accept that. They knew that when they

came to the store that they had to have the cash to pay for it. I guess they under-

stood that if we didn't have the money we couldn't buy new things to add on.

M: What about the Fellow and other shops that were around the square? Do you recall

Otto Stock Store or Chittey's or some of the grocery stores around the square? pell's,


R: Well, Chittey's and Stock's were also the real fine men's shops. Well, Mr. Stock

actually, he was a tailor when heAfirst started in his shop. And he started selling the


Page 28

fabric to make tailor-made clothes. He was a very fine tailor. And eventually he
started adding in ready-made things 4ai his shop, but when you bought a, a man bought

a suit from Stock's, he was supposed to be buying ,e- very, very fine suit and if he

had tailor-made clothes from Stock's, he was really considered a very well-dressed man.

And most of the doctors and the university professors, the deans or the president of

the university, would get their clothes from Stock's. And Chittey's store was the

businessman's store. The well-dressed businessmen used to go to Chittey's to get

their clothes. And the old man Chittey ran the store and his young sonahelped him

out in that store. And they always carried real fine name brand things, And the

thing that I remember about Chittey's that I used to always think it was such a great

thing if I could afford to go in there and buy Ike a shirt or a bathrobe. I used to

love to buy pretty bathrobes and get it at Chittey's store. I thought that was,Areally

something to be able to buy something along in that. But...

What about the grocery stores? Do you recall the grocery stores down there?

Oh, yes, the grocery stores were around the square. And that's one thing that brought

people to town a lot, was coming to town to do their grocery shopping. And the
people that lived out in the country would come into town and buy at least 4 whole week's

groceries at one time, because they didn't, a lot of times they didn't come back again

during the week. Saturday was the big day where everybody came to town. And over on

the, where the plaza is now, there used to be a Piggly Wiggly store there. And you'd

go in there on Saturday nights and it would be just jammed with people. And they'd

buy big things like big sacks of flour and big sacks of sugar and supply themselves.

grits and bacon was a very big, big deal--to buy big slabs of bacon. You didn't

buy bacon in packages; you'd buy these big slabs of bacon. And you didn't, you, there
mo t
were very few chickens that you bought. It was, it was amazing, in those* days, Most

everybody used to buy live chickens and they'd take care of slaughtering them and picking

the chickens themselves. Used to buy, they used to have chicken coops on the outside

of the store and you'd go and pick out the chicken that you wanted and take a live


Page 29

chicken home.

M: Oh, it would be live when you took it home and then you'd kill it yourself?

R: Yeah, uh huh, and kill it yourself. That was the hardest thing for me. Of course

I never could learn to do it, but in those days I had a maid that worked for me, because

I had to go to business and I had two children. So I had a girl that worked for me, and

she took care of that chore for me. And at that time I used to pay her $3.00 a week,

and she would come at 8:00 in the morning and stay till 6:30 in the evening. And fix oar

fij the meals,4take care of the children when they came home from school, and looked

after the house, took care of the house and everything. And that same girl worked for
6erVenteeiC or eigteen
me for at leastAl7--~-k& years, and when she quit, she was making $35. week. Every

week, as the times went along better, I'd raise her as conditions got better. And

when she quit she was making .= -i'rfy- Five.

M: Do you recall a shop owned by Mr. Berkum or was he the studebaker by.the time you got

here? -'

R: Well, they had a store downtown called Berkum's, but itAdidn't stay in, didn't stay

in operation very long after we came here. He went into the automobile business from

that, from that store. Actually, I think it was Louis Berkum's father that ran the

store, and then when his father passed away, Louis went into the automobile business.

M: Now, this was after you already here that this happened?
R: After we were already here. And he had a sister, Ida Berkum, that waskvery kind,

lovely lady. She was a maiden lady, she never did get married, but she was sweet and

kind and everybody in Gainesville loved Miss Ida. They lived on North Main Street in

one of the real old, old Gainesville homes. In fact, the house may be still there;

I think it was one of the houses that finally became a private school. And she was,

she was a very fine lady and a refined lady. The things that I remember that she did

for me is when I first wanted to entertain, I needed help fixing up and entertaining,
how to
and Miss Ida used to always come and help me and show me how tofdecorate the tables

and make fancy dishes for me. At first I didn't pay, I always would give her a gift


Page 30

but eventually it got to where I would call on her help a lot of times and then I

got to where I was able to repay her in some way for it. But she was the one that

really helped me start entertaining here in Gainesville. We used to have cocktail

parties where,at that time there was very few cocktail parties given in Gainesville,...

M: Was this as early as the '-3s? +ir-iIe

R: Yeah, it was in the late '-"a that we started doing this. And since I had the big

home it was our pleasure and privilegeAto do a lot of the entertaining, particularly

for the Jewish people and when we'd have out-of-town Jewish guests and everything.

So we had a little crowd that we used to meet together nearly every, every Saturday

night. But one thing I got to tell you about is the juke joints here in Gainesville.

M: Let me just ask you one other thing about the Berkum's first. About Sophie Berkum.

Was she Louis Berkum's...

R: Sister.

M: Sister. And she was the style, fashion editor, I guess, on the newspaper.

R: Yes, yeah, um hum. She was very well thought of and they were considered the aris-

tocracy of Gainesville, along with a lot of other people at that time. Everybody

considered the Berkum's as one of the real fine old families here in Gainesville.

R: Have you ever heardA ....there's two other people I wanted to ask you about, and someone

mentioned this name to me and I don't know anything about them two brothers and a

sister named Selly.

R: Selly. Yeah, they're a prominent family here now. In fact Paul Selly was the one

that built the home that we bought in Golfview.

M: Well, what was Paul and, I guess it was John, were the brothers.

R: Paul and John and...I +ryf v +o +ik of....

M: Adaleide was the little...

R: Adaleide Selly, yes. They started off when I got acquainted with them, they had what

we called a moss factory. You know, all this moss that grows around? They used to

collect that and sterilize it and dry it and whatever process they used, and used to


Page 31

sell it for fillings for sofas and chairs and probably even mattresses. But that was

their business was the moss factory.

M: What was the name of the business, do you recall?

R: No, I think we just called Shelly's Moss Factory, and it was on South Main Street.

And it was set way back, sort of, in the woodsy-looking area. You could always

pass there and see big piles of that moss out on the ground drying.

M: So they were very successful then in the '-%3shirtieS.

R: They were a very successful family and very well thought of. Adaleide was, I'm pretty

sure she was a school teacher and everybody really loved her. And John and Paul were

very distinguished men. The/ihouse that we bought, John practically built it all him-

self. It had a beam ceiling in the living room that each beam was at least a foot

deep, and he hand-carved all that. It was cyprus wood and he used a blower to blow out

the designs of the pattern of the wood. The design in the wood was brought out in dark

by him burning it. And the house was absolutely one of the most unusual things you

ever saw.

M: Well, did he build just that house or did he do building on the side?

R: He built that house, no, he built it for himself.

M: I see.

R: And then he lived in it for about two years, and decided he wanted to build something

else. And he sold us the house. We bought the house without seeing the inside of it.
-_tkey Neren'+
We loved where the location of it, and we loved the outside. They weren't4home when

we went to look at it and the next daywe saw it from the outside)and the next day we

called him up and told him we'd buy it. And then we went in and looked at it. But

we knew that was what we wanted. We loved the location and where it was sitting, the

type of house it was.

M: Also, did you ever know Irving Caldman?

R: No, I'm not familiar with Caldman.

M: Now, you wanted to mention something just a minute ago, I'm sorry.'O0h yes, I wanted


Page 32

to tell you about the Prohibition days here. And the entertainment that the people

used to go out for. There was very little entertainment except going to the movies.

And the big thing every night, are we taking too much time?

M: No, I was just, the only reason I'm checking is I don't want the tape to run out while

we're talking.

R: Well, I got to tell you these little incidents.

M: No, I'm not cutting you short.

R: The big thing was going to the movies and everybody)everytime the movie would change,

and it would be most every day,, a movie would stay over two days, but the

movies would change everyday, and nearly every family in town would go to the movies)

every night. And I think if you missed the movie you were really heartbroken. Course
+hirt+ cevit
it didn't cost much to go to the movies i+ was aboutA\-4 in those days, so you could

afford to take your family. But the entertainment was going to what we called the

juke joints. And that was the big thing everytime you'd meet a crowd, you'd say,
well,Ayou going juking Saturday night?

M: How do you spell that-juking?

R: J-U-K-E, it's juke like a jukebox? The reason it's called juking is because we had

those jukeboxes to give us the music. And out on the Hawthorne-Road there was a great

big barn. a Luge barn. And inside that barn was the dance hall. And they, in those

days you couldn't, they couldn't sell liquor. So everybody could bring their bottle.

Everybody knew where you could go to a bootlegger and get a bottle. And you'd take

your bottles out there and there were tables sitting around the dance floor and you

could buy set-ups. Could get ice and glasses and ginger ale and those places used

to be crowded on the weekends. Everybody in town went juking, and we'd have this, all

the popular music on the jukebox. And dance and have fun and really wild parties.

M: What would the charge be to get in?

R: I don't think there was any charge. You just paying for your set-ups was the way


Page 33

they made the money. And I think you had to put your money in the machine.

M: In the jukebox?

R: To keep the box going. And whoever was sitting around was closest, or whatever selection

you wanted, you'd go up and put your nickel in and get the record that you wanted to

dance by or listen to. And there were a lot of real wild parties. There was a lot
-the mXn +cLdt WAM5)
of drinking and a lot of fights.A One fellow was getting somebody else's girl and before

you'd know it there'd be a fight in the middle of the floor. And a lot of switchblades

and knives brought out, even amongst the white people in those days. It was, it was

kinda risky to go to some of those.

M: Was it mostly townspeople who went or did university professors go also?

R: Yes, yeah it was the townspeople and the professors would go. A lot of people connected

with the university used to go. There was not any entertainment. People didn't give

a lot of parties.4~ U I....
Well wouIc
M: /Weid people go if they didn't have a husband or a wife also, if they were single they

might go also?

R: Yes, yes, a lot of single people went. Lot of single people. There weren't too many

students that I remember. The students would congregate around the university, mostly

on the streets. They were, well, of course, there were fraternities, some fraternities,

not many. But they would play around on the streets. The thing that I remember mostly
was the pajama parades that the students used to have beforekfootball game, the night

before a football game, used to all dress in their pajamas and go down University Avenue

singing and shouting all the university songs. "We are the boys from old Florida" and

all that. And we got to win and down with the Owls, and all these slogans that they

would ... -&A hen the big thing was down at West University Avenue and 13th

Street, they used to always build a bonfire, right in the middle of that section. And

all the traffic and everything would have to find ways to get around it.

M: Right on the pavement, it was paved by that time.


R: Right in the middle of the road the built a bonfire. And the people that lived in

that neighborhood had to really watch their property because they'd come and tear

anything to get a piece of wood to add on to that bonfire. And there were a lot of
old houses and the rails on the porches. They used to steal the rails offAthe porches,

anything they could get their hands on to add to that bonfire. Course some years they

really got kind of wild. I remember one time they got hold of somebody's car and

pushed it into the middle of the bonfire. It got to be... Eck cc kiee

M: That's wild.

R: But the students in those days seemed to have a good time because they created their

own fun. And it wasn't too much that they were seeking. There wasn't a lot of

drinking among the students, knd there was no, no dope at all. You never did hear of

any of them taking, taking anything. But they just had a good time. You'd walk

along the streets around the campus, and you'd see just droves of them walking along

and singing and having, just having a young, joyous time together. And the big thing

that we remember is when they used to win the football game. They used to come downtown

then. Most of the time a student didn't come downtown except maybe to shop. We used

to have a lot of them shopping. But when win a football game, the big shock

to us was they'd come downtown and they'd form a snake parade, holding, each one holding

on to the shoulders of the boy ahead of him. And they used to go through all the stores

just dash in and out, make this snake all through every store.

M: They were doing this by the '*e -hir +lcS

R: Yeah. And finally, when they'd have a football game, we'd close our store the hour

that the football game was over because we knew we couldn't control the crowds coming

in the store. So we'd close for a couple of hours till the, till the, all the eagerness

subsided and the town calmed down a little bit. But football was really the great

thing, course it is now too, but they really showed a lot of enthusiasm for football
-+hey Were.
in those early days. But they were very,Avery happy days, even though there were

only about 11,000 people in this town. But everybody had pride in Gainesville. This


Page 34

Page 35

is one thing that I've always admired about this city. People always wanted to see it

get better, and I'm still hoping now that downtown will get a rebirth, because now that

they've put the mall up, not the mall, the plaza, and all the new buildings going to

go in :town, I really see a good future for Gainesville downtown. A lot of people are

discouraged about it, but I really have a vision that it's going to come back to be

a fine little town. It may not ever be, what you would call, a real prosperous business

section, but it's going to be a beautiful little town. I have some real good ideas of, for

rebuilding some of the stores downtown, and I'm real anxious to get with some of the

architects or people that are interested in redoing some of the downtown buildings.

M: is one of them, yeah.

R: Have some great ideas that I believe I could tell them about. They wouldn't be too
costly to make downtown look like a real pretty little city. -Bt I'm hoping that pretty

soon I can get with somebody and kindof do something with these ideas that I have.

But I just see a wonderful future for Gainesville. Course the university has been the

big drawing card.L--.s. grown so much. I love going to the university. I have such a

good time with the students, and I have such a rapport with them, you would never believe

that I'm three times as old as some of the students the way we sit.:around and talk and

have such a good time together. But I just enjoy them so much and they seem to enjoy

me>Go we ....
me)_ "

M: I can see that. Well, I've thoroughly enjoyed talking to you and I'd like to ask that

I be able to use this material on my research se that's OK with you.

R: That'd be fine.

M: It's OK?

R: Because the book that I'm writing contains a lot of these items, so it'll sort of

corraborate what I've been saying to you. E $Np OF I TERVi\E V3

am C? -TtAPE


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