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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: J. Francis Cooper
INTERVIEWER: Joyce Miller
DATE: November 9, 1976
M: Mr. Cooper, when did you come to Gainesville and what brought
you to Gainesville?
C: I came to Gainesville on February 1, 1925, Miss Miller. I
was employed as editor for the agricultural experiment station
and the agricultural extension service. I started work at that
time. Gainesville was a much smaller town than it is now.
I could walk down the street in 1930 and just about say "Hi,
Bill" or "Good morning, Jim" or "Hello, Sam" or whatever to
whomever I met. But today I can walk down the street and I
won't know ten people I meet. For instance, a friend of mine
who was also at the university in agriculture at the time,
moved out to Northwest 11th Street just off University Avenue,
which is now right downtown. Well, at that time he was so far
out in the country we used to tell him to hang a lantern out
so we could find his place if we wanted to get out there at
night. That shows you how the town has grown and how small it
was at that time.
There were a few streets paved. When I came to Gainesville
in 1925, University Avenue and Main Street were about the main
streets in town. I might regale you a story about what Dr.
Romer, who was with the university, said. I got married on
October 25, 1925, and my bride and I were coming home from
Jacksonville on the train. Dr. Romer, knowing that we were
bride and groom, was on the same train and he came over and
started talking to us. He had kidded my wife about when she
got sand in her shoe she'd never want to leave Florida. She
had never been in Florida previously. Well, she stepped of
the train into a pile of sand, they were working on the street
down there at the old railroad station at the time, and she
got her shoe full of sand by the time she stepped off the train.
That was typical of the time.
Rental housing in Gainesville at that time was rather scarce.
It was not plentiful in 1930, and it was very scarce from
1925 to 1930. The Florida boom was on in the late '20s.
Everybody was trying to come to Florida but nobody had a place
to live. My bride and I had a pretty bad time trying to find
a good place to live when we first got married, and even up
through the early 1930s. We wound up living, for seven and
a half years, over by the duck pond on East Boulevard. Then
in 1940 we built this house on N.W. 3rd Place and moved here.
The train came down Main Street, and the town was more or less
built around the courthouse, which was the center of town at
that time. Milk was delivered to our homes. The university
enrollment was very small. I think it was about 1,500 at that
time. In 1928 I started the Florida Farm Hour on radio station
WRUF, and continued on that program until I retired in 1961.
M: I understand that at that time your voice went all over central
Florida and WRUF was the major radio station of this area.
C: It was a principal outlet in this area, and the Farm Hour
program was rather popular for a long time. We started out as
an hour program, and after some years it was finally cut down
to a half hour. About the time I retired in 1961 it was cut down
to fifteen minutes. A few years after that it was discontinued
altogether. There were fewer and fewer farm people to listen
to actual farm news. Of course, the general public wants to hear
about what's happening on the farm front and what's available.
But the National Farm Hour program, NBC, has long since been
M: What was the format of your program?
C: Mostly we had talks by specialists in the experiment station and
the extension service. Once a week, every Tuesday, I had a
program of questions and answers. I took questions that had
been received during the week by various workers out there, not
just the editorial department, but any department. If anybody
in the experiment station or the extension service had received
a question that was of general interest and had answered it, I
took that question and that answer and read it over the radio.
So I became known as the question-and-answer man around Gainesville
for a long time.
M: Did you ever go to national meetings in which people mentioned
having heard you in Florida or different parts of the country?
C: No, WRUF didn't go that far out of Florida. I did appear
a time or two on the NBC National Farm and Home Hour. But as
far as Florida Farm Hour goes, I've been told many times that
people around here or in Florida heard me, but not outside
M: [Dr. M.] Hervey Sharpe [Communications specialist and head,
Agriculture Extension Service] was telling me how you were almost
a pioneer in mass media programs, and that you worked on this
program with two other persons, Jeff Thomas and Clyde Beale.
C: I started in agricultural college editorial work here by myself.
As a matter of fact, I taught two courses in journalism for one
semester, the only journalism courses that were taught at the
university at that time. I taught for the first semester in
1925. In '25, the university got a professor of journalism, and
I devoted my time totally to editorial work. Then in 1927, I
got my first assistant, Ernest G. Moore. After two years he
quit and went to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and became
Chief of Information for the Agriculture Research Service at
USDA. When Ernest quit in 1929, I got Ralph Fulghum, who stayed
with me until 1934 -- five years. Then he quit and went to the
USDA and became Assistant Chief of Information for the Agricul-
tural Extension Service at USDA. About 1933, Jeff Thomas
joined the staff. He broadcasted the farm news every day until
he died about ten years later. Clyde Beale joined me in
1935 when Ralph Fulghum quit. Old Clyde, he was really a wheel
horse. He could do what needed to be done. He was there, and
he was loyal. He was one of the best I ever saw.
M: What made you stay here and work on the program instead of
going to work for the USDA? A lot of your assistants had left.
C: For one thing, I never really got a firm offer from the USDA.
The other was I had to go to Washington every year or two for
a week or so in connection with my work, and I used to tell the
boys up there that if I stayed there two weeks I'd go plum
crazy. There was too much running around like a chicken with his
head cut off, and I figured that I wouldn't get enough done
to really show that I had done the work. You'd be busy all the
time, but to get actual accomplishment you just had too many
things, too many meetings, too much red tape. Here I felt like
I was really doing some work that was doing some good.
M: Your training before you came here, was it in journalism
specifically, or was it related to agriculture?
C: I finished at what is now Auburn University, then Alabama
Polytechnic Institute, in animal husbandry. I went to work
on a newspaper the next day after I graduated and worked for
a little over a year on daily newspapers. Then I worked for
two and a half years on Progressive Farmer magazine, published
in Birmingham, Alabama. So my journalism has been more or
less by experience. I did take one course in agricultural
journalism my senior year at Auburn, but I was not actually
trained in journalism. I was raised on the farm and trained
M: Was that farm in Alabama also?
C: Yes, the farm was in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.
The Florida Extension Service back in those days conducted what
we called Farmer's Week every year. We'd have a week of programs
at the university in which farmers and farm women would be
invited to come in. We'd have programs on various phases of
agriculture, livestock, fruit crops, and citrus -- every phase
of agriculture. We'd have programs for the women also in home
economics. The Farmer's Week program in 1932 was the last one
held. Since that time, we have held farm institutes, citrus
institutes, and poultry institutes, and things of that kind
at various points in the state, where people would not stay
for an entire week but stay for about two days.
M: You're very familiar with agriculture and what was going on at
the experiment station and throughout Gainesville. How did the
1929 depression affect first, agriculture in general, and
secondly, your position at the university?
C: As far as agriculture in general was concerned, the effect was
pretty drastic, as it was on everybody else. Prices were quite
low, but food was available at a very cheap price for the public.
In fact, the editor of one of the farm magazines had an editorial
about that time.on the contribution that Florida was making to
the health of the nation by giving them citrus at such a low
price. It was really pretty rough on the producers but it was
very good for those who ate the food. As far as our own activities
were concerned, our salaries were reduced at one time, I think
that was 1933, might have been '31 or '29, but we got a ten percent
reduction at one two-year term and a five percent reduction at
a second two-year term. The legislature met every two years
at that time. Our salaries were reduced about sixteen percent overall.
Even so, I had a little more money left over at the end of the
month with my reduced salary that I did later on when I got
back up to a normal salary.
M: And the prices went back up?
C: Yes, ma'am.
M: Did you ever fear losing your job because the university would
have to let people go?
C: Fortunately, no. I never had that threat to hang over my head.
They almost had to have an extension editor and an experiment
station editor throughout the whole period. You can do research,
but unless somebody knows about it, it hasn't accomplished anything.
M: What about prices in town at that time? You mentioned citrus
being very low. Do you recall buying anything specifically at
a comparative price?
C: I couldn't cite prices for anything, but the prices in general
were very low at that time. A quart of milk was maybe fifteen
cents. I'm not sure if that's right or wrong, but compared to
today it was extremely low.
Another thing the '30's did was bring a lot of federal agriculture
agencies to Gainesville, and a lot of those are still here.
When Franklin Roosevelt became president, Congress began to pass
laws setting up new agencies to try to overcome the Depression
and put people back on their feet. The headquarters in Florida
for practically all of those was Gainesville. The Agricultural
Adjustment Act was passed in 1933 shortly after Roosevelt became
President. It is now the Agrucultural Stabilization and Conservation
Service, with headquarters here in Gainesville at the post office.
The Rural Electrification Administration came into being, and the
Rural Rehabilitation Administration, which later became the Rural
Resettlement Administration and is now the Farmers Home Administration.
The Soil Conservation Service also came into being in the 1930s. All
of those except REA had headquarters here, in Gainesville at that time.
M: Can you recall specific ways the AAA affected Gainesville farmers?
C: Of course, there were more Florida farmers than Gainesville
farmers. The AAA paid them to conduct certain practices that they
should have already been doing to improve their farm. It seemed
rather strange to me at the time. They would pay a farmer to
terrace his land if he had hillside land that needed terracing.
They would give him a certain allowance to terrace his land.
I was raised on a farm in Alabama, and I can't remember when we
didn't have our farm terraced before the AAA was ever thought
of. They paid him for soil-conserving practices, growing 'legumes
and that sort ofthing. Also, they conducted a campaign to plow
up cotton and kill pigs to reduce the amount of product that was
on hand to help improve the price. They did improve prices on
nearly everything that was produced at the time.
M: Were the farmers pretty excited about the election of Franklin
C: Everybody was ready for a change at the time, and I think farmers,
like the rest of them were interested in seeing a change come.
But I can't really say if they were excited about the matter.
I'd say they were interested in it.
M: Did any farmers lose their farms during that period in this area?
C: I'm not sure. I rather think so, though.
M: I was wondering if during the Depression you remember any bread
or soup lines in Gainesville?
C: No, I do not remember any of those.
M: Do you remember any of the industries in town? Do you remember
the tung oil industry?
C: Yes, the tung oil industry was being promoted about that time.
Of course, there is no tung oil industry now. I helped promote
tung oil, as a matter of fact. There was a number of plantings
made around here. B.B. Williamson was one of the earlier planters
of tung oil in this area. Also, he was one of the earlier
planters of a crop called crotalaria, which the experiment
station introduced. It too has since gone out of popularity.
But Harry W. Bennett, up in the north end of.the county, had a
big acreage in tung oil. He never made a move that he didn't
come by the experiment station and check on it. He came by my
office about once a week and we talked over situations at that
time. At one time it became a rather popular industry, but
since has declined completely.
M: Do you remember any of the festivals they had in relation to
tung oil? The tung blossum festival through the downtown area?
C: Yes, I have a slight recollection. I can't give you any details
on the tung oil festival. At one time they tried to plant tung
trees alongside the highway across Paynes Prairie, to make sort
of an avenue of tung trees there and have a showplace for tung oil.
But the tung trees did-not thrive there. r
M: Where was your office?
C: I started in what is now Newell Hall, the old agricultural experiment
station building. Later I moved over into what is now Rolf's
Hall, the horticulture building. The editorial office is now
in McCarty Hall.
M: Did you feel very connected with the university while you were
C: Yes, I was definitely a part of the university.
M: Did you attend some of the events? Do you remember any plays or
football games that you attended?
C: I used to attend practically all the football games, and anything
that interested me.
M: What do you remember about the football games?
C: I remember when they built this present stadium. The old stadium
was much smaller and different, but this stadium was built
around the late '20s or early '30s. It has since been enlarged,
but at that time it was one of the good places in town also.
M: Did you walk to the games?
C: Yes, I walked mostly. I lived close enough. When I lived on the
boulevard I had to drive out.
M: What kind of clothes would you wear to a football game ?
C: About the same thing I usually wear. I didn't try to show off
or do anything unusual.
M: Did you ever bring your wife, or was it strictly a male-oriented
C: Oh, womanattended definitely. My wife was not too interested in
football, she didn't attend too many games, but they could
go if they wanted to.
M: Was there a homecoming parade in those days, or any homecoming
events? Gator Growl?
C: I don't remember when homecoming events started, but they probably
started about in the '30s.
M: What about the eating places around the university? Did you ever
eat in the Black Cat or the C.I. [College Inn]?
C: I've eaten at the C.I., not particularly at the Black Cat. But
Mrs. Ramsey, Ma Ramsey, used to run a boarding house right
across from the campus on the corner of 17th Street and University
Avenue. I ate there a good bit.
C: Would you pay one price for the week, or would you pay each day
for a meal?
C: I paid mine by the meal, although I think she had customers who
ate their regularly. She had good food and a pretty good place
to eat. Most eating places were boarding houses at that time,
not so many restaurants.
M: There would be people who lived and ate there, but it was also
open for people just to come in and eat.
C: That's right. I ate at some of the boarding houses.
M: Did you ever go down and eat at the Primrose?
C: Yes, I ate at the Primrose. It's had good meals over the years.
I've eaten there for fifty-one years. I've eaten there off and on
M: Did you know Byron Winn at the time?
C: Yes, I knew Byron Winn and also Byron Winn, Jr. Byron, Jr. was a
member of my Boy Scout troop.
M: When were you in charge of Boy Scouts?.
C: I had a troop from 1928 to 1938, the American Legion Troop.
We had an excellent troop, and several members have made their mark
since then. The other main troop in town at that time was
Troop 2, which is now called 84, at the First Methodist Church.
Burt W. Ames was the Scoutmaster. I had Troop 4, which later
became Troop 82, and later died after I quit. We build a cabin
for our troop down at the American Legion Hall, in the back, and
had our own cabin to meet in for a good many years. After I
quit the troop it kind of faded away, and the cabin is no longer
there. I've had lots of experiences with the Boy Scouts.
I had a boy named Herbert Smith joined the troop. We'd have
the ceremonial initiation service inside the cabin and put on
a regular ceremony. But on the Christmas camp every year, we
had what they called an initiation, which is kind of like
fraternities do with hell week. They put them through a lot of
funny doings. The Christmas that Herbert joined the group, we
camped out at Camp Francis, a Boy Scout camp near Interlachen,
Florida. We had a campfire outdoors and the initiates were
going through the ceremony without any difficulty. The Senior
Patrol Leader who was Bill Crow, Bill is now with Black, Crow
and Eidness here in town, had told the initiates that they were
going to take them down and throw them in the lake. So Herbert
refused to go. He started to cry. Finally, I turned to Bill and
said, "Okay Bill, take the rest of the boys down there and throw
'em in the lake. I'll stay here with Herbert around the campfire."
After he kind of settled down from his crying I said, "Herbert,
how come you don't want to go through this? You've gone through
all the rest of this initiation without a bauble, why do you not
want to go through this one?" He said, "I told my mother I was
not going to get my clothes wet, and I'm not going to get my
clothes wet." Well, if he'd been right keen on the trigger, what
I told him next would have told him that he was okay. I said,
"Herbert, I'm not going to let these boys do anything to you tonight
that your mother wouldn't let them do if she were here." Well,
even that didn't tell him that they were not going to throw him
in the lake. So then I had a bright idea. I said, "If that's all
that bothers you, how 'bout taking off your clothes? "Yes sir.
I'll do that." He perked right up.
What they did was they took the boys down to the dock and blind-
folded them and got them all confused and discombobulated.
Then they told them to jump, but they had him coming back toward
the land instead of going into the water. They had a big boy
standing there to catch him if he started to dive or anything like
that. Another boy with a chunk would stand there, and everytime
they told one to dive, he'd hit the water with a chunk and
somebody'd say, "Ooooh. How cold it is." The rest of them who
were blindfolded thought that boy had really hit the water. But
they didn't wet a single boy.
M: Did the boys also earn merit badges as they do today?
C: Yes, they earned merit badges. We had some Eagle Scouts in
our group. A number of them became eagle scouts, as a matter
of fact. We did a lot of camping. I took the troop one year
down to Gulf Hammock on Wekiva Creek. We had to take our own
squad tent down there to camp under, and I had my tent. I made
the mistake of taking them down there one Christmas, and from then
on I could never get them to go anywhere else. We couldn't
go to Camp Echockottee, the BSA camp near Jacksonville, or anywhere
there was a building. They wanted to go to Gulf Hammock. So we
went down there every Christmas from the time I first took them
till I quit the troop. We had some amusing experiences over
M: Who was your assistant leader?
C: A young fellow named Cyrus Anderson. Cy later graduated from
the university and went out to the University of Oregon at
Eugene. He later came back here to the university, and later
went to Jacksonville on the county staff over there.
I'm going to tell you about the trip to Gulf Hammock one Christmas.
Herbert's younger brother, Billy Smith, went with us on that
particular camp. Billy was not a member of our troop. He was
kind of a young monkey, always into something foolish. Well,
after supper the night of the initiation, it was announced that
we're going to initiate everybody who had not been initiated
whether he was a member of the troop or not. So Billy said,
"Oh, oh, I'm sick. I have a stomachache. Oh, oh, I'm sick."
So Bill Crow, Senior Patrol Leader, said "Okay." He went over
to the first aid kit and got about a quart of castor oil out of
it and said, "We don't initiate sick folks, but we do doctor them."
Billy decided he'd rather be initiated.
M: I was going to ask you about some of the places you shopped in
the '30s. Did you ever shop at Dale!s or Piggly-Wiggly on the
C: We bought groceries from Piggly-Wiggly until they moved away
from the square. Smith and Hooper used to be a store downtown
which later became Sears and Roebuck on the square. McCollum's
Drugstore was down there on the square. We did most of our
shopping on the square at that time.
M: When Sears came, it was on the square?
C: It was on the west side of the square, at what is now Parker's
Office Equipment Store.
M: Do you remember a small catalog store from Montgomery Ward?
C: I have only a faint recollection of that.
M: Do you recall the 1938 fire, and were you present?
C: I did not know about the fire until afterwards. I was in
Gainesville, but I didn't know it was during at that time.
I didn't see the fire.
M: How did you first find out?
C: I think it was through radio or through people talking about it.
M: You didn't hear the bells where you were?
M: Besides the Boy Scouts, you were active in the American Legion.
Do you remember any of the activities the American Legion
performed during the '30s.
C: We had our regular meetings, and we also had a firing squad that
operated at funerals for veterans.
M: They would go out and perform the ceremony?
C: They would fire the salute over the coffin of the deceased veteran.
M: Where were the local cemeteries at that time?
C: There was only one that I know of and that was Evergreen which is
still in existence.
M: Would that be located where there was once a tung oil plant in
that general vicinity also?
C: Yes, it's not too far from the tung oil plant, tung oil paint
store. There was a Jewish cemetery on East University Avenue,
just across the railroad track. It's still there.
M: Did you ever go to the White-House Hotel and the Thomas Hotel?
What were your impressions of those places?
C: The first night I was in Gainesville,I stayed at the White
House Hotel. As a matter of fact, the railroad used to stop
the train there. The train would come through about noon every
day and would stop long enough for people to go into the
White House and get their lunch. Also, we used to hold our annual
meetings of the Agricultural Extension Service at the Thomas
Hotel. In 1937, we had the annual convention of the American
Association of Agricultural College Editors there. The Thomas
Hotel was headquarters for that.
M: What was that meeting like?
C: The agricultural college editors hold their session, they discuss
their problems and talk about what they have learned to do in
a better way, or how they get material out better.
M: Would you bring your wife to an event like that, or would it be
all the men?
C: We had both women editors and wives, at all meetings. Of course,
the wives didn't attend too many of the business sessions, but
my wife attended a number of sessions with me throughout the
M: Did they have social functions for men and women also at that
C: Yes, banquets and get-togethers and things of that sort.
M: Were they also at the Hotel Thomas, or did they go to another
place in town for those kind of events?
C: Well, most of our events back in those days were at the Hotel
Thomas because it was about the only place we could go. In
1959 we did have a banquet at the Gainesville Golf and Country
Club, which is now the University Golf and Country Club. And
we stayed in dormitories that year. But back in the '30s the
Hotel Thomas was just about it.
M: Do you recall the Seagle Building in the '30s?
C: That was a sore thumb sticking up there -- a skeleton until
later on. It started out as a hotel, and the Depression came
along and the '29 bust and it never was finished as a hotel.
It stayed there just sticking up in the air without any
finishment and was more or less an eyesore. I don't remember
exactly when, but mostly Moorman Parrish and the others in
the Chamber of Commerce conceived the idea of getting the university
to take it over. They got Mrs. Georgia Seagle to give $20,000
to help complete it. As I recall, the county and the state
each put up $20,000. They finished the hotel and it was to be
named the John F. Seagle building which was in honor of her
brother,. the late John F. Seagle.
M: Do you remember a market being under the building at all?
C: No, 1 remember they used to have a spring down there. They had
a hard time getting the water stopped from coming into the
M: What did you do for recreation in the '30s? Did you ever go and
use any of the springs or attend the movie theaters?
C: Oh, yes. We had the movie theaters and also we had Glenn Springs,
which is now the Elks Club, and Magnesia Springs down between
here and Hawthorne. There was also Earlton Beach and some of the
lakes around here. We used to have picnics out at Earlton Beach
and elsewhere around.
M: Did you ever go to Newnans Lake and swim there?
C: I've never been swimming in Newnans Lake. It's not a very extra-
good swimming place.
M: What theater did you go to?
C: The Florida theater. The Lyric Theater didn't stay in business
too long in the '30s, that I recall. They used to have Bank Night
at the Florida Theater, which always drew a big crowd. They'd
give away money and prizes at Bank Night. There was a lot of
people there for that.
M: Did you ever win?
C: Heck no!
M: How much money would they give out on a Bank Night? Would
it be five dollars or a large sum of money?
C: It'd be more than that, I don't recall now. Claude Lee, who
had moved back to town, was the manager of the theater at that
time. Ed Roberts, who later went with the bank here in town,
became manager after Claude quit. The Florida Theater was the
main show place in town in the 1930s.
M: Did they have organ playing at that time?
C: No, I don't think so.
M: It was already removed by then?
C: I think it was. I don't recall it at least.
M: Do you remember Mr. Hal Batey who served as mayor?
C: Yes, I know Hal very well. He had a wholesale grocery on what
is now Second Avenue Southwest, near the railroad track.
M: What kind of business was he in besides becoming mayor?
C: Baxter or Baxley?
C: E.G. Baxter was a lawyer. M.H. Baxley, I'm not sure what his
business was at the time but I knew him.
M: What kind of relationship did the townspeople have with the
mayors? Was it a very close relationship or did town government
seem like it was something distant from the people?
C: I wouldn't say it was too distant. You knew just about everybody
in town at that time. He was your friend.
M: The mayor and the commissioners would be almost like neighbors
M: What was the relationship between the townspeople and the university?
Did you feel that the townspeople respected you because of the
university connection? Was there resentment because you were
connected with the university?
C: I never felt either any unusual respect or unusual resentment.
I was just another person it seemed to me. I was just like
M: It didn't matter what connection you had?
C: No. I had friends in town, friends in the university and as
far as I knew, nobody ever said, "Well, he's up there higher
than I am" or "He's down lower than I am." We're all just people.
M: Do you recall the malaria epidemic that took place in the late
'30s? Did anyone in your family contract malaria?
C: I'm not sure about the late '30s, but my wife had malaria.
I think we caught that on one of our trips out to the West.
But I don't remember too much about any malaria epidemic in
M: You don't recall mosquito inspectors checking around your home
C: Yes, they've done that more or less over the years.
M: But nothing in particular about the '30s?
C: No, I don't relate that to the '30s.
M: Did you know F.W. Buchholz?
C: Yes, I knew Fritz pretty well, and his son Bill was in my Boy
M: How about Mr. [John H.] Tigert [President, University of Florida]?
What kind of relationship did you have with Mr. Tigert?
C: Well, I was one of his slaves! Dr. Tigert was rather peculiar
in many ways. I have met him on the campus when you'd think
I was a long lost brother. Then, the next day I might pass him
on the campus and he wouldn't even see me.
M: Do you think it was because he was so busy or was this the nature
of the man?
C: I rather think it was both.
M: Did you know Mr. Klein [H.] Graham [UF Business Manager]?
C: Yes, I knew Mr. Graham quite well, too. I've known him over the
years until he died.
M: Do you know how recently he died?
G: Within the last four or five years.
M: Did you have to get finances through Mr. Graham or were you
G: We were financed separately through the agriculture division.
M: They received their money directly form the state, is that
C: Well, you'd better not quote me on that. We had our appropriation,
but I suspect Klein Graham did have a hand in it. Yes, it
probably went through him. Miss Ruby Newhall was our business
manager for many hears.
M: Who was your doctor in town? Did you know Dr. Thomas?
C: Did I know Dr. Thomas! He was my doctor from 1925 until he died.
He was a wonderful man.
M: How often would you go to a doctor? Would it be a yearly check-up
in the '30s, or would you only go to the doctor when you were
C: I shouldn't admit it, but I did not have an annual check-up.
I went to him when I needed him. He and I were neighbors. When
I lived over by the duck pond on East Boulevard he lived just around
M: What kind of prices would he charge?
C: Very reasonable. Like three dollars a call back in those days.
Later, of course, it went up, but then he was always there anyway.
M: Would a typical visit be very fast, or would you stay and talk
for a while?
C: As long as necessary. I played bridge with Dr. Thomas many
times. He was a man who could work hard, but he could relax
instantly. I've been playing bridge at his house and he'd
get a call and go out and Mrs. Thomas would take his hand.
Then he'd come back in and she'd say, "Here, Clark, take this hand."
"Oh, no, you go ahead and finish this hand." And he'd sit down
and be asleep before the hand was finished.
M: Did you often play bridge? Was this a weekly gathering of a
special group of people who played bridge?
C: I wouldn't say a weekly gathering, but we did play bridge. I
played lots of bridge over the years. I like to play bridge.
M: Was that a major form of entertainment then?
C: It was a very nice entertainment form.
M: It wouldn't cost any money either, because you'd be at somebody's
C: That's right. They'd serve a few refreshments maybe.
M: What were some of the buildings on campus when you worked there?
Maybe you could reconstruct what was there in the '30s.
C: Well, the dormitories -- Buckman and Thomas Halls. The experiment
station -- Yulee Hall. The horticulture building was built
during the '30s. Language Hall was the president's office.
M: That would be present day Anderson Hall.
C: Yes. Dean [James Nesbitt] Anderson [Professor of Ancient Languages]
had his office in there at the time. Then the law college was
east of that, and the teacher's college, Peabody Hall, was on
campus. The P.K. Yonge School was built during the '30s.
Actually, where some of the dormitories are now was farm land.
We had the farm. If they hadn't had the farm, the university would
have trouble expanding around there. They've taken over most
of the farm, but we used to have farm land all over that place.
Where McCarty Hall is now, even where the Hub is, used to be part
of the farm.
M: What about around the University Auditorium? Was that farm land
also, where the Plaza is today?
C: South of the Auditorium. The auditorium was built during the
'30s. It was university land, but the farm was just south of
M: Some people mention moonshine in Gainesville in the '30s. Do
you recall moonshine being here?
C: I'm sure it was, although I never ran into any! Moonshine was
everywhere. I hadn't had any dealings whatever with moonshine.
M: Would you buy your milk from the University Dairy or did you use
other local dairies is town?
C: Hartman Dairy was my dairyman for a long time.
M: Where was that located?
C: North of town. Frannie Hartman got killed and the dairy quit.
It was up off the 13th Street, north of town.
M: Where did the town go at that time? Where were the city limits?
C: I can't tell you where the city limits were but I know where most
of the town was. Northwest Sixth Street, where the railroad
track is, the town was mostly on the other side of what's now the
railroad tracks. There wasn't too much out this side of the track.
M: So was the university considered out of town?
C: Yes, it was beyond town at that time.
M: How about the east section of town?
C: It was as far as Waldo Road. Over that way were mostly residences,
no businesses over there at that time.
M: Most of the businesses were just in the directly downtown area?
C: Downtown mostly, yes.
M: Where did you vote at that time?
C: I couldn't tell you that. I don't know now where we did vote
at that time.
M: Do you remember sitting around the courthouse having instrumental
programs or people coming in to sell their goods at the courthouse
in the '30s?
C: No, I never sat around down there.
M: Do you remember getting a modern-typp refrigerator? Did that come
in the '30s?
C: No, we had ice refrigerators in the '30s, I'm sure. I don't remember
when we did get our first refrigerator, but it was probably when
we moved into this house in 1940.
M: Do you recall getting your radio in the '30s?
C: Yes, maybe late '20s.
M: Did you ever shop downtown on Saturday nights when the stores
were open late?
C: We hardly ever shopped on Saturday nights because we were usually
M: Helen Ketler came to town in the '30s for the Lion's Club. Do
you recall meeting her or seeing her here?
C: No, I did not see her. I don't recall it.
M: Did you have any connection with the county fair in the '30s?
C: No, no connection with the fair.
M: Did you attend at all?
C: Yes, I used to go to the fair.
M: What kinds of things would they do in the fair?
C: It was a small fair, and they had a few entertaining features
and a few exhibits, but not too many.
M: Where was it located?
C: At what used to be called Citizen's Field. I used to attend
the south Florida fair which became the state fair more. Also,
I attended the fair in Jakcsonville, which at that time was the
state fair until it died.
M: When they had the county fair out at Citizen's Field, was that
considered really going outside of Gainesville to go to the fair?
C: Yes, that was kind of beyond the town.
M: Did you ever eat at Louis' Lunch downtown?
C: Very rarely, once or twice.
M: You don't recall any impressions of the place?
M: What about law enforcement in Gainesville? Was it very good?
Did you have any trouble with big crimes in Gainesville?
C: I don't recall that crime was a particular problem here back in
M: Do you recall the town being any different in the summer when the
students were mostly gone? Was there a different attitude in town?
C: I wouldn't say there was a different attitude.
around more easily and there were fewer people
of thing, but I wouldn't class it as a different
You could get
and that sort
M: Thank you very much. I appreciate your taking the time to do this.
I know you're very busy.
C: You're quite welcome. I'm not too busy, I'm retired now. I
work only when I want to, which is a pretty nice deal.