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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEWEE: Barton T. Douglas
INTERVIEWER: Joyce Miller
DATE: December 1, 1976
M: This is Joyce Miller interviewing Barton T. Douglas at his home in
Gainesville, Florida on December 1, 1976 at 7:10 in the evening. This
evening we're going to talk about the arrival of the Douglas family to
Gainesville and then what Mr. Douglas did in the thirties and what
the town was like in the 1930s. So I'll start by asking you about your
family coming to Gainesville.
D: [Shortly before] the great freeze in Florida, my folks had immigrated
from South Carolina to Summerfield, Marion County, Florida [sometime
near 18803. Thereafter, their grove was dead due to the cold and the
freeze. There was nothing left for their livelihood other than to open
up some type of new business. The town that they lived in was Summer-
field, Florida, it being a very small village, and was not conducive to
one trying to make a living for a wife and three children. So my father
decided to move to Gainesville, Florida,and he opened a grocery store.
This was in the later 1880s. The exact date I do not remember. He had
a grocery store in Gainesville across from the square where Parker's
equipment store is now located. He also had a store on the southeast
corner of Gainesville, which has been torn down and is a parking lot now
across from the new downtown plaza that is being built next to the new
judicial center. It was also a grocery store. The main street when
they arrived was Alachua Avenue Crenamed University Avenue] and it was
dirt. There were no paved streets. Now this information was handed
down to me from my parents. CAfter my parents moved to Gainesville] there
were two other children born, my older brother Zach and myself in Gaines-
ville. I live on the site where my father and mother maintained their
home for many years. I was born in a house right next door to where I
am presently living. My wife and I tore down the old homestead which
had fourteen rooms Cand built our new home (612 Northeast Fourth Avenue)
M: What year were you born in?
D: I was born March 23, 1908. I'm sixty-eight years of age. I can remember
playing baseball on unpaved Northeast Sixth Street. Our family never
had any automobiles at that time. It was only wagons and horses and a
few bicycles. It was not dangerous to be out in the streets because
people would watch out for you and you would naturally know that
conditions were safe for you to be there. Skipping from that particular
area of my childhood days, I did go to Kirby Smith School which was not
Kirby Smith then but was what we called the Eastside Grammar School.
The kindergarten was called chalk class because that's where you'd learn
to write in chalk.
M: Was that a public kindergarten that they had there?
D: Yes, also public school. The high school was also there. So every-
thing we had was combined. Now Buchholz school, which was later Santa
Fe and was our high school, was built later. That's where I graduated.
I went to the University of Florida in 1926 and graduated. After fin-
ishing my academic work, I graduated in law in 1932.
M: When you went there in 1926 as an undergraduate, did you know either Dr.
CAlbert A.] Murphree CPresident of the University of Florida] or [D. R.]
Billy Matthews [Congressman]?
D: I certainly did. I knew both of them. I knew where Dr. Murphree lived.
He lived over on Seminary Street which is Northeast Fifth Avenue now. I
know his son, John A. H. Murphree. I knew all of his daughters. John
A. H. Murphree is one of our circuit judges now. I knew him when he
was a practitioner of law in Gainesville and not a judge. I knew Billy
Matthews before he ever went to college or got into politics. He was
a very prominent man in his church which is First Presbyterian Church.
He happens to be an elder Cas well as myself]. I've been elder for
a number of years there.
M: What year did you go from the University of Florida undergraduate to
D: In 1929.
M: You did have then a four-year degree before you started?
D: No, in those days you didn't have to have a degree to get into the law
college. You could take anything you wanted to take, that you thought
would be pre-law quality education for you. In fact, I took courses in
sociology, agriculture, history, Latin, mathematics and did not receive
an academic degree, but I got what I thought would be equivalent to that.
In order to get a degree you had to follow a formula and law colleges
would accept you at that particular time on that basis. So as long as
you had your required number of hours and the average that would measure
up to their standards....
M: Then you would enter the law school. At that time it was also three
years, is that correct?
D: Correct. Three years. I was in the old law college.
M: At Bryan Hall?
D: [I don't know. It was the first law college building. No name then.]
Dean [Harry Raymond] Trusler was the dean at that time. I have a
picture in my study of the faculty as well as my graduating class.
M: Who were the faculty members at the law school besides Dean Trusler that
D: Well, there was Professor Dean Slagle and Professor CGeorge Washington]
Thompson, Professor CRobert Spratt] Cockrell, Professor CJames Westbay]
Day, Professor [Clarence John] TeSelle. There was another man that
taught Roman law that I do not remember his name. I however took Roman
law under him.
M: Did you know any of these professors personally?
D: Very closely. In fact, the student body was limited to about 100.
M: That is the student body of the law school you're referring to?
D: I'd say that is--I'm guessing now--approximately 100 to 150. I stand
to be corrected on that.
M: Do any of those professors that you had in law school stand out? Any
remembrances about occurrences in the classroom or the particular
D: The dean of the college always lectured with his eyes closed and you
could easily go to sleep.
M: He would lecture with his eyes closed?
D: Right. Never with them open.
M: Were the law classes as they are today in which there is just a final
at the end or were there papers and tests in between?
D: Oh, no. You had intermittent tests. We had to study common law, which
they don't have to study now. They studied equity. Equity and common
law pleading were separated in the course, and therefore we got a good
base in the fundamentals of the common law that originated in England.
M: About what size would your classes be?
D: I'd say thirty to forty.
M: Are there any students that were in your graduating class in the law
school that you remember in particular?
D: Oh, yes.
M: Such as?
D: There was the United States judge down in Miami, Tubby Ives. He got
killed though by a train. There was a boy from Tampa and he was
a state's attorney. I wish I could think of his name. I'd have to
get the pictures and refresh my mind.
M: There are no other attorneys within the county that were in your gradu-
D: Yes. Park Carmichael graduated one year before I did.
M: He's still practicing in town also?
D: In Gainesville. I'm retired. I retired in 1974, December.
M: But you still have your office downtown?
D: I still have my office downtown. I still have my telephone number and
everything but that is for a purpose. I have files down there and if
people want any old documents that they would like to know something
about, they're available. That's the reason I maintain the office.
I'm on social security now and you cannot do any work over fifteen
hours, and you can't make but "x" number of dollars. I adhere to the
rules and regulations of social security very strictly. Of course
there's other income that comes to my wife and thank goodness that I
got her, and we can all live together.
M: Let's talk about the university when you were there in the early thirties.
What did the campus look like to you?
D: We used to have not as many buildings as there are now. The library
was half as large and we used to parade ROTC CReserve Office Training
Corps] where you have a building that is between Science Hall, that
we knew at that time, and Anderson building. That was where we used
to parade and assemble for ROTC. We had the Anderson building, the
Peabody building, the Engineering Hall which was right across the
street from Peabody Hall. Then we had Bryan dormitory and Buckman
Hall. The College Inn was quite a deal in those days. That was a
high entertainment for food and drinks. [The Black Cat was famous for
M: Did you live on campus when you were in law school?
D: I did not. I always lived at home.
M: Did you participate in any of the university activities, such as
M: Pajama marches?
D: No, I didn't do anything like that. I belonged to a fraternity there. I
had an automobile which not many students in those days had. You hardly
ever saw automobiles or bicycles like there are today.
M: What fraternity were you in?
D: I was in Delta Chi fraternity. In their fiftieth year now.
M: Where was that located at that time?
D: At that particular time it was on what we know now as Northwest Thirteenth
Street. At that time it had another name, and I can't remember what name
it was. Diagonally across from the Amoco station, I think, is a hair net
shop. That was called the Black Cat. That was owned by Bud Mizell who
became the head of the Florida Federal Savings and Loan Association. A
very prominent man and a citizen. Downtown you had the Phifer State Bank
which was on the east side of the courthouse. You had the Stringfellow
Grocery Company which was next to the Atlantic Coastline Railroad. If
I'm not mistaken in 1930 the railroad ran down West Main Street. The
depot was right across from where my office is located. Incidentally,
my office, from research that my wife has done, is thought to have been
one of the first buildings that was built after the initial courthouse was
built after being moved from Newnansville, Florida. It has been con-
tinuously a law office since it was initially built, occupied by lawyers
from time to time. I don't mean necessarily the same firm. Where
Modern Shoe Repair now is, it's on the north corner of Northeast First
Avenue in Gainesville, Florida, was the first bus station in Gainesville.
Downstairs they had the passengers and the lavatory for the white people,
and upstairs was where the colored people went to use the lavatory and
M: You mentioned the Phifer bank at the same time the First National was also
in town. Mr. CLee3 Graham was the head of First National and of course
the Phifer family was head of Phifer Bank. Did you have any occurrence
to do business with either one?
D: I had done business with the First National Bank since I was a little
M: Do you remember Mr. Graham in particular?
D: Oh, very much so. I've been to his home. I've been to his office in the
First National Bank. I knew his secretary, and knew him even before
he got to be president of the bank. In the bank he was another
officer in the bank. Mr. H. E. Taylor for many, many years was president
of the bank. He lived in a house just a block up from me on Fifth Avenue.
Where Mr. [Aubrey L.3 Williams, who is an English teacher now at the
University of Florida, lives.
M: What kind of cases did you handle in '32? Was it when you opened...?
D: I began my law office in 1932.
M: Did you handle all cases, or did you handle just civil or just criminal?
D: In those particular days it was very difficult. It was hard times and
the business was more or less monopolized by the big law firms in Gaines-
ville. You were very fortunate to get anything you could, and you would
get what was left. That went on a good long time. You must remember that
you did not have the population in Gainesville or the county or the
surrounding counties that you have now. Big business sought the big law
firms which were not numerous in Gainesville, but were in Jacksonville.
So therefore your practice in Gainesville had to be very limited, and it
was to the poor and to the blacks. If I could make expenses, I considered
myself doing very good.
M: What kind of case would a poor person come to you with? What kind of
things would they be involved in?
D: A murder case.
M: Criminal cases then predominately?
D: A murder case or a divorce case or to draw a deed. Poor people did not
operate like the corporations. Later in life I got to be representing
insurance companies. I was claim defense counsel for numerous insurance
companies.and that was one of my specialties.
M: This was later on after...?
D: Later in my life, yes.
M: You mentioned that most of the big firms were in Jacksonville and so a
big business would go to Jacksonville for a lawyer.
D: I mean big business period, whether it was in Gainesville or not, they
would go to the big law firms who had been established for years and
M: What were the big law firms in Gainesville?
D: There was Hampton and Hampton, and there was Clayton and his partner--
I'm just trying to think...I can't think of the gentleman's name. It
was Baxter and Clayton. That was the two big law firms.
M: Are any of those firms still in existence?
D: Both of them are. But they got many names added to them now.
M: In your firm, was it just yourself?
D: Just myself.
M: At anytime during your practice did you have a partner or was it just
yourself all the way?
D: I never had a partner during any time in my practice. I had lawyers
that worked for me and lawyers that have gone, been very successful.
Some of them have gone on the bench. Some of them have branched out.
Osee Fagan, city attorney in Gainesville, worked for me at one time.
And Judge Kathryn Wright worked for me at one time, I know some that's
gone to Tallahassee, some gone to Miami, all over the state.
M: You handled particularly cases of poor whites and blacks.
D: I'm talking about that. That was in the early part of my practice.
M: That's what I'm referring to. Did you ever handle any cases involving,
let's say, Charles Chestnut, Sr.?
D: Oh,, no. He never got involved with anything that would require any lit-
M: Are there any people that you particularly remember their case from then
that you would be able to discuss?
D: I do know of lots of cases and instances.
M: I mean unusual cases for instance.
D: Yes, I do, but I'd rather not discuss them because I feel like if you
represent someone that it's confidential and that it might be a record,
but I don't feel like it's for publication.
M: By '32, when you were in practice....
D: During that time I moved to Texas for a while, lived there for several
years, and was admitted to the bar there. Due to ill health of my
mother, I had to return. I went back to my office and kept going.
Just about that time World War II broke out. Things changed again and
I got into the navy. I was in the navy until 1945. Then I came back
to Gainesville and I devoted myself strictly to civil work.
M: What year did you leave for Texas?
D: It seemed to me like...it's been so long...I'd rather not say to be
accurate about it.
M: Do you recall coming back?
D: It was in the thirties.
M: But you don't recall what period in the thirties that you came back?
D: [I don't remember.]
M: So you were gone during the period of the Depression actually. Not
at the '29 bust itself, or '26 bust.
D: I remember the '29 bust very well.
M: Here in Gainesville?
D: Yes, and I remember the run on the First National Bank.
M: What happened at First National? The bank stayed open at all times,
did they not?
D: They stayed open and paid every dime that anybody wanted to get their
M: The other banks in Gainesville closed?
D: They closed. I wish I could give you some more information about
the Texas thing. I had a brother living in Fort Worth, and I'll be honest
with you, I hadn't thought of these things in years and years. Just to
pick up overnight and think them out, I just can't tell you.
M: You mentioned that you do recall the Depression and the run on the First
National Bank and other banks in town. What other impressions did the
Depression leave upon you?
D: I remember the land boom in 1926 very well. I remember when property
went sky-high and all over. It's kind of like it is right now. This
reminds me very much of the Depression, the way conditions are right today.
I can see things are doing and acting like they were in 1926 and '29.
M: I think Jimmy Carter said today conditions are even worse than he thought
they were when he was campaigning, economically and....
M: Did you ever get into politics?
M: When was that?
D: I ran for county attorney against [J.] Emory Cross. Emory is one of our
county judges now. We had quite a campaign. I got beat by three votes,
and that was enough for me to get out of politics for a lifetime.
M: When you were here in the thirties, do you recall city government and
city politics at all, not as part of the political system, but as an
attorney just looking at city government? Do you recall the city
D: I thought they had a city commission, yes.
M: Do you recall for instance the two political factions: the Silk Hats
or the Wool Hats?
D: I do.
M: What do you recall about their battling in town or differences?
D: The Wool Hats made it mighty hot for the Silk Hats. I think if it had
not been for the Wool Hats, they kept things kind of even keel.
M: Were you associated with either?
D: No, I wasn't. I was only just observing.
M: Do you know any of the mayors perhaps during the late thirties?
D: I knew them all.
M: Was CBenmont M.] Tench the mayor when you came back from Texas?
D: I do not remember. I couldn't tell you to save my life. I knew
Tench was a mayor.
M: Were there any city officials that you were particularly close to?
D: [LeeJ Graham was mayor-commissioner and Tench was. I think Mr. [William
M.] Bullard was. I knew them all, but to recite their names now I'm
dense on them. You know you forget these things.
M: The whole purpose of what I'm doing is that if we don't record it now,
we will lose that whole period of history. There is nothing written
on the thirties at all. The closest thing that comes to it is that
Jess Davis has written a history of Gainesville, as well as the history
of Alachua County, but he doesn't go into all the different areas. He's
chosen a few of the big families to discuss in the back of the book but
has left out quite a few of the details. The book was written about
fifteen years ago, and so, through my research, I'm trying to record
some more about what it was like. I realize that it's a hard thing to try
to think back forty years and figure out where you were and what you were
doing forty years ago.
D: It's impossible and I had a heart attack back in 1967. One of the rea-
sons I retired is my health condition. You don't remember things as good
after you've had a heart attack as you do beforehand. That's the
reason I could be mistaken in some of the statements I've made here.
I don't want to be bound to them.
M: I'm not interested specifically in any particular dates or events, more
about your feelings about certain things. So that's perfectly all right.
D: I'm not certain whether it was in 1930 or not, but I know that we had
two Gainesville papers. There was Gainesville Daily Sun and the
Gainesville Evening News. The Gainesville Evening News put out their
paper six days a week. They didn't put out a Sunday edition, and it
was an evening paper. The Sun, at that time, put out seven papers a
week, and it was a morning paper. They have reversed. Now they put
out the evening paper, and they bought out the Gainesville Evening News.
M: You mentioned before when we were talking about the Black Cat and the
College Inn. Did you ever eat at the Black Cat?
D: Oh sure, many times.
M: Was it just a hamburger stand or was it a regular restaurant?
D: It was a hamburger stand and a good one.
M: You mentioned later that Mizell became director of....
D: President of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association.
M: I guess that was his first business while he was a student...?
D: That's correct. He was well liked. He got to be president of the
student body, too.
M: Did you know his brother who, I believe, was with him at the restaurant?
D: I did.
M: What was his brother's name? Do you recall?
D: No, I don't.
M: You also mentioned the CI. Did you eat there quite a bit?
D: No, I didn't eat there, but I just happened to know the people that
owned it. Mr. and Mrs. Hammond are the people that owned it. It was a
focal center for all the students in that particular area to go over
there and get their midnight snacks. It was very economical food for
M: When you came back in the late thirties to Gainesville, by that time
the initial optimism about....
D: You say late thirties. As I say don't pinpoint that because I have
no recollection of the year that I even went or returned.
M: Perhaps you can remember the reaction though to this in '33. There was
great optimism at the election of Franklin Roosevelt and by the mid-thir-
ties, of course, the Supreme Court had overturned many of his New Deal
programs and then in, I believe, '35 or '36, he also tried to pack
the Supreme Court. Do you recall any reaction in the attitude of people
to change towards Franklin Roosevelt?
D: All of the people that I had ever associated with seemed to think that
he was a great president.
M: You would say that this was probably true of the people you knew? They felt
this way throughout his administration?
D: The people that I had been associated with.
M: Did you know Manning Dauer [Professor of Political Science] at the time?
D: I knew Manning Dauer when he was at the University of Florida as a
M: That would've been at the same time you were an undergraduate then?
D: Years ago. That's right.
M:: So you didn't know him later on when he was a professor.
D: I've known him ever since he's been a student. He knows me but we
have never been what you'd call closely associated. It's just because
our paths didn't cross that way.
M: What would you do for recreation when you were here? Did you ever go
to Glen Springs which was opened by the thirties?
D: I would drive out there. I wasn't an ardent person to engage in going
to those dances or either swimming. I would always like to go to foot-
ball games or travel in my automobile to different towns and spend the
weekends at different towns and things like that.
M: Did you go to the University of Florida football games?
D: I sure did.
M: Do you recall how you dressed or what the stadium was like?
D: We used to have knickers when I went to school out there. Our hair was
short-cropped; all freshmen had short-cropped hair, and we used to wear
rat caps. They respected the upperclassmen very much. It's an entirely
different school today than it was at that time.
M: When you went to football games, would it be groups of men going or would
the men find dates?
D: I'd go with probably some of my fraternity brothers.
M: They would sit together similar to the way they do today?
D: That's right.
M: Did you drive your car to the football game or usually walk?
D; No, I'd leave it at the house.
M: Leave it at the house and then walk?
M: When were your children born? Were they born much later?
D: I've been married twice. My first wife died when my oldest son was born.
He has since graduated from college and now he's living in Leesburg.
From the second time I married I have four children. My oldest son is
twenty-seven I believe. My second son is at the University of Florida
now. He's a freshman. His name is Zachariah H. Douglas II, named after
his uncle who was a lawyer in Jacksonville. He's seventeen. I have a
son who's eleven, and his name is Alexander Scott Douglas II. Then
I have a little girl, Monica Carlene Douglas, who is named exactly after
her mother, my wife. She is eight. She's in the third grade, I believe,
at P. K. Yonge.
M: How old is your oldest son?
M: No, your oldest son from the first marriage?
M: Oh, I see. What other things did you do as far as recreation? You men-
tioned that you would drive out of town, did you ever...?
D: Doing lots of fishing.
M: A lot of fishing? Where would you fish?
D: Orange Lake in Lochloosa and sometimes at Wauburg.
M: Lake Wauburg was opened by that time?
D: That's right. That was a good place to fish. And Tuscawilla.
M: Which is in Micanopy.
D: Right, by Micanopy.
M: What about hunting? Did you hunt also?
D: I used to go dove hunting a lot, yes.
M: Where would you go, out on the prairie?
D: No, I'd go up here in Bradford County. Wherever you can get an invitation
to hunt, but you kind of self-ask yourself into these dove hunts. You
stake you out all around, and it'll take about ten or fifteen people.
So you get up a party and you go out to dove hunt.
M: So you would go in a group hunting. How about fishing, would you go in a
group or go by yourself?
D: Not necessarily. It's better to go by yourself.
M: Did you ever go...?
D: I did used to go a lot with Dr. EHarry Louis] Thompson when I was in
law college. He loved to fish.
M: Dr. Thompson was...?
D: Professor Thompson. He taught
M: Through the law school?
D: And through the law school.
M: Is he still living?
D: He's dead. He was quite an author, too. I have a book in the library
now that he gave me on abstracts that I don't think there's anything
that can meet with.
M: Would you ever go fishing or hunting on Sunday or was Sunday considered
strictly a church day?
D: Oh, no. You wouldn't bat an eye on Sunday. Sunday was very holy.
M: Your family belonged to the First Presbyterian Church?
D: Presbyterian churchback to the Revolution.
M: Where was the Presbyterian church located originally?
D: On the corner of University Avenue. Right where the Florida National
Bank is now.
M: Where is the church now?
D: Church is on Second Avenue and....It's that white....
M: Oh, I know. A couple blocks down from the Church of Christ or God, I
don't know which, but on Second Avenue.
D: It's a beautiful church.
M: When did they move it, and when did they knock down the original church?
D: We had the history of that the other day. If you come to one of our
meetings that we're going to have in a few weeks, you'd find out all
M: I was curious in that the Methodist church was not knocked down. It
still remains from the old Methodist church, and the Baptist church
D: No, it doesn't.
M: The Baptist church that's thereon University is not the original?
D: The Baptist church that I used to go on account of I was stuck on a girl
was where the library is now.
M: Where the new.library is?
D: Yes. They got a plaque there saying that this is where the First Baptist
M: So both the Presbyterian church and the Baptist church have moved.
D: The original Presbyterian church was the first church in Gainesville.
The First Presbyterian Church was a wooden church down near where the
old post office was, on the left-hand side.
M: Was that church still here when you were born, the one you're referring
to now, or was that already gone?
D: I have an idea that it was,
M: But basically you remember going to the one that was located near the
D: That's the only one I remember ever going to. That's the one I was
christened in. Going to Sunday school there. Sunday school was built
right onto it in the back.
M: Besides church, what else would a family do on Sunday?
D: You'd get in a buggy and go riding, or a hack. You'd have a place in
the back for people to sit in. But my daddy never liked to do that
because he wanted his horses to rest on Sunday.
M: Did he use them in the grocery business?
D: He used them in the grocery business.
M: When did your father's grocery close?
D: I don't remember. I don't remember because he went in the insurance
M: Did you ever go to the theaters in town?
D: Lyric Theater, I went there religiously. I always sat in the gallery and
ate peanuts. That was during Fatty Arbuckle days and the mystery serials.
Be just about ready to jump off a cliff and they'd stop it and next week
we'd need to come back.
M: Did you ever go to the Florida Theater?
D: Oh sure. After every football game that they won, they would raid the
M: What would that consist of, just everybody going?
D: Just sitting in there waiting till they turned on the theater on the show.
M: Would they pay for a ticket?
M: Just go in and wait.
D: It's automatically free.
M: The owners would allow that or the students just...?
D: Sure, they couldn't help themselves.
M: Oh, I see. What about...?
D: It was just good fun. It wouldn't be anything damaging.
M: Do you recall bank night at the Florida Theater where they gave away
D: No, I don't.
M: Did you ever visit the Thomas Hotel or the White House Hotel?
D: Oh sure, many times.
M: What kind of impression did either one leave upon you?
D: I just wish they were back. They had the most delicious food at the
White House. We used to eat Sunday dinners there or lunches--we called
them dinners--at the White House, and then we went over to the Thomas
Hotel. We would always have our guests stay at either one of the houses.
Either one was very good.
M: Which did you prefer?
D: Either one. It was just the variety of food that I desired, that was all.
You'd get tired of eating at the White House, you'd go over to the Thomas.
Thomas was more swanky.
M: That's true, but I would have liked to see the White House. I believe it
was knocked down just a couple of years before I came to Gainesville.
D: The White House was all wood. It had a warm, homey atmosphere and just
the minute you stepped on, they had a long veranda with nothing but
chairs that you could sit down, relax and rest. It was just a cheerful
place. That's where Professor TeSelle lived after his wife died. He's
one of our law professors. It was very homey and very friendly; just
one of those things that you just loved to relax. It took the tension
away from you.
M: Do you recall the railroad train...?
D: Stopping for dinner? Yes, many times.
M: For the people to get off to eat.
D: I've seen the people get off twenty minutes for lunch.
M: You sold ice cream to the people on the train, did you not, in the
D: I sold ice cream with Louis's Hamburger Stand.
M: Louis Pennisi?
M: That's who told me about it.
D: That's right. We sold something else. I know we sold ice cream and
whatever he had we sold. I worked for him and it was a good job, too.
M: Would you get on the train itself while it was stopped and sell up and
down the aisles?
D: Yes. Go right through. I was just a youngster.
M: He sort of gave up the ice cream business in the late twenties to go
into the hamburger....
D: The hamburger, yes.
M: The family has been in that ever since.
D: He and my brother-in-law were in France together in the army, in the artil-
D: World War I. Now he's an Italian, but I think he's got to be an American
citizen because he went over as a youngster. He may be an immigrant's
son, but he was World War I in France.
M: He still has quite a bit of accent.
M: Do you recall anything about the cost of living when you opened your law
practice as compared to the cost of living today?
D: It was much cheaper than it is now. I would hate to be an attorney and
start out on my own today. Those days you could utilize the University
of Florida library. You could just rent a very small place to hang out
your shingle. The printing, they would carry you on if you didn't have
the cash to put down. You were a lawyer and they had faith enough to
believe.....You wouldn't have an engraved stationery like the attorneys
do this day and time. They start out with plush offices. They would
start out with very simple offices and they wouldn't put on the dog
like they do today, but they would put out good lawyers. The quality of
lawyers in those days, you don't have them today.
M: Rather than have a law library of your own, which would be a very big
expense, you would be able to go to the university at that time?
M: Did you have clerks?
D: At this time you could go to the library up at the courthouse. You don't
even have to go out to the....
M: To the university?
D: That's right.
M: Did you have clerks at the time do much of the research?
D: Never heard of them.
M: You did even the research on cases yourself?
D: That's right. Never heard of such a thing.
M: Today the firms have all the clerks do the dirty work at the cheap rates
and they collect the large rates.
D: That's right. Never heard of such a thing.
M: Do you recall any diseases in town, such as some people recall in the
late thirties malaria?
D: Malaria. I remember the flu epidemic where people died by the hundreds.
I remember First Avenue between East Main Street and West Main Street on
express carts, stacked, where casket boxes that were four and five on
top of each other one, right after another for this epidemic flu that was
going on, that swine flu that they've been talking about. Brave me,
you take it today and die tomorrow. If you haven't taken your shot,
M: What about malaria, do you recall that being a major thing?
D: I had it.
M: You had it also?
D: I had it. Doctor CWilburn] Lassiter treated me with quinine.
M: Did you ever go to Dr. EWilliam C.3 Thomas?
D: He's a later doctor. I went to the old doctor, Dr. CJ. Harrison] Hodges,
whose house now is owned by the Episcopal church. That's the man that
brought me in the world. That was my doctor for many years. Dr. Thomas
was a later doctor. But my mother went to him. He was her doctor when
she died. Another famous doctor here is....
M: Dr. [George C.] Tillman?
M: What about dentists? Do you recall any of the dentists in town?
D: Yes, Dr. CBenmont A.3 Tench was my dentist. In fact, I found his diploma
in a building that I owned at one time and I gave it to Benmont Tench.
M: Oh, you gave it to the judge himself.
D: It was Judge Tench. It was a diploma where he had graduated from dental
M: You were in town during Prohibition. Do you recall moonshine in town?
D: Oh, sure. Yes, that's all they had.
M: Would it be fairly easy to find?
D: It was something like that stuff they smoke, marijuana. It's the same
deal; same deal exactly.
M: That everybody would be doing it and there'd be no way of enforcing it.
D: That's right.
M: I heard David Brinkley tonight give a comment about how some of these
laws are just not enforceable.
D: That's right.
M: What about slot machines? Do you recall slot machines being here also?
D: I sure did.
M: What was your reaction to the slot machines?
D: I didn't particularly care for them because I saw people go hungry that
would go and just utilize....I remember one laundry man that couldn't
resist every slot machine he went by. If he had a dime he'd put it in.
Last dime he had he'd put it in there. His son is a painter here in town
now. Paints signs.
M: Others have mentioned that also, little children dropping money in and
then not having money for lunch. This was before the days that the govern-
ment would subsidize the lunchroom program.
D: Yes, that's right. I don't know about the children, but I do know about
M: I know a lot of people who would stay home or visit each other's homes
as entertainment and others mentioned bridge. Did you ever participate
in anything like that?
D: At college I tolerated it. I was more the outdoor boy. I'd like to get
in the car and take a girl somewhere. Go and have a dance or a movie
or something like that. Playing bridge to me was a waste of time.
M: What about shopping? Where did you do your shopping?
D: I used to do it at Burnett the Clothier, that was on the north side of
the square, or at Burkhim's which is on the west side of the square.
M: Was that a clothing store?
D: That was a clothing store, Burkhim's.
M: That would be the family, I guess, of the Burkhim who was the....
D: I thought you were talking about me.
D: You mean like a department store? I'd say that the Wilson's or my mother
used to go over to Jacksonville to Furchgott's.
M: But the Burkhims owned the store and that....
D: That was strictly men's.
M: But that is the family of Sophie Burkhim I assume from, that wrote for
the Gainesville Sun.
D: That's right. That was her daddy, L. J. Burkhim. His son was Louis.
M: Where would you do your grocery shopping?
D: Used to do it at Dell's. Charles Dell is a doctor now. He used to work
for his daddy there. The first Dell's was on the east side of the court-
house square. Then they moved right down here where this Fiat....
M: Right on University Avenue?
M: Being that most of the stores were down on the square in the thirties,
perhaps you remember the 1938 fire that burnt...?
D: I sure do, that burnt down the east side of the square.
M: Did you see it?
D: No, I did not. I didn't know anything about it till it all happened.
M: Did you read about it in the newspaper the next day or hear it on the
D: I must have heard about it.
M: So you didn't actually see it or anything?
D: No, I didn't see it.
M: What about the county fair? Do you recall ever going to the county fair
when it was at Citizen's Field?
D: I certainly did.
M: Was it a large fair?
D: It was a very large fair. They had the exposition and the carnival was
always an excellent attraction. They certainly did go in for horse racing
with the carts. What do you call that where they pull these carts around?
M: Harness racing.
D: Harness racing. That's what they had. Then they'd have chickens and pigs
and cows and all kinds of....That was a big event every year.
M: Would it be in the springtime?
D: I don't remember. No, it would be in the wintertime. I think it would
be around November.
M: What about clubs? Did you belong to any social, fraternal, or professional
organizations in town? I mean after your fraternity when you were al-
D: I was not a joiner. I did belong to the Benevolent Protective Order
of Elks. I'm a life member of that organization. I belong to Knights
of Pythias and the Masonic Order.
M: My father's in Knights of Pythias in Miami. I used to see the sign in
front of an old white building on Main, I guess.
D: The local corporation owns that, but the Knights of Pythias has been
decapitated now. It's out of business. The charter has been withdrawn
by the national charter because they just couldn't get enough members
to maintain a growing organization.
M: Was that fairly recently?
D: That's right, recently. That was a very old Knights of Pythias. My
daddy belonged to it.
M: Why would a club not be able to compete with Kiwanis or all the others?
D: It's just one of those things. That fraternalism just died a natural death
and for no good reason.
M: I've asked you so many questions. Is there anything that you would just
like to tell me about the thirties that I perhaps did not ask you about?
D: I think that I've tried to tell you everything I could think of. It is
so difficult to just reel off something unless you've had a chance to
sit down, brief it, and refresh your memory on things. I have tried to
give it the best I recollect and a lot of that could be mistaken as to
the dates or time or things like that.