Title: Mr. Henry Turner
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00024707/00001
 Material Information
Title: Mr. Henry Turner
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Turner, Henry ( Interviewee )
Miller, Joyce ( Interviewer )
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00024707
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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For all other permissions and requests, contact the
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AL 26A Bridges


This is Joyce Miller. I'm interviewing Mr. Turner at his home on N.W.

8th Avenue, 1513 N.W. 8th Avenue, at 3:40 in the afternoon on December

14th. And I'd like to ask Mr. Turner when he was born and where.

T: I was born September the 14th, 1906 in the country in Brooks County,

Georgia, but that's just out of Putman, Georgia. At age fourteen,

my family moved to Ocala, Florida. I went to high school in Ocala,

and came to the university in 1925. At the end of the first semester

I was offered a job with the Atlantic Coastline Railroad and accepted

with full intention of returning to the university. However, in the

meantime, I got married and started a family, and made forty-five

years and seven months of railroading working in Ocala, Leesburg, and

Gainesville as a station agent.

I: Okay. Your family that moved to Ocala, how many were in the family?

T: My mother and father and five children.

I: Uh huh.

T: I have one brother and three sisters.

I: And they're all still living?

T: No, one sister dead; the rest of them still living.

I: Are they also living in this area?

T: One living in Gainesville; one in Tallahassee; one in Ocala; and myself

in Gainesville.

I: What's the name of the other person in Gainesville?

T: Harriet Todd, who was my baby sister.

I: Uh huh. And when you went to work for Atlantic Coastline, where were

you living at that time--still in Ocala?

T: Ocala. My family all lived in Ocala at that time.

AL 26A Bridges


I: When and why did you make the transition to Gainesville?

T: That was mainly seniority. You--someone gets cut off and they roll

you and you roll someone else and seniority dictated my moving to

Gainesville more than anything else. We were living in Leesburg, and

we dearly loved Leesburg; one of the most friendly towns we were ever

in. And then we moved to Gainesville, and it was a university town,

and in those days it was hardboil cut and dried. They didn't care for

the university; the downtown didn't care for the university and the

university didn't care for downtown. And we didn't like Gainesville.

You had-

I: This was in '34 when you came?

T: This was in t34.

I: Uh huh.
a-yjo o'-o-
T: The university was small; had, oh, just the little sment f 2,000

students and I think that's about what it was at that time. Most all

of them came to town at that time on the train. They got off the train

on Main Street downtown where the First National Bank is now. And at--

well, it's kind of funny to say that the train ran right down the middle

of Main Street, but that's exactly what it did. And there were very

few paved roads in Gainesville at that time. University Avenue and

Main Street were primarily the paved roads of the town.

I: Now you mentioned that there was some antagonism between the downtown

and the university campus?

T: Well, it wasn't exactly what you'd call antagonism. It was--we don't

trust you and you don't trust us.

I: Did you personally experience any particular incident of this?

T: Well, when I was here as a student, it was extremely hard to get

AL 26A Bridges


T: a check cashed. The merchant didn't--well, I've seen that come and go
since then at the university. At one time the university would expel

a student for a bad check. When I first moved here, that was not true.

And I understand that's not true now. Students have a hard job getting

a check cashed.

I: Uh huh.

T: They went through a period of time when any merchant in town would

take a student's check because the university would just kick them out

if they didn't make that check good. Of course, we at the railroad--

the policy of the railroad was in selling tickets to students or anybody

else--it was cash.

Now I don't know what else to tell you on that part of it.

I: You worked for the Atlantic Coastline. Where did the line that ran

through Gainesville run to and from?

T: We came out of Jacksonville through Burnett's Lake, which is the

edge of Alachua down through Gainesville on through Ocala, Leesburg,

and to Clearwater, St. Petersburg.

I: Uh huh.

T: This was originally the Florida Southern Railroad, and this particular

branch is still known as the Florida Southern. That's the branch that

comes right through Gainesville.

I: When did it become part of the Atlantic Coastline?

T: In, I believe now, I think it was 1885, but I would not be positive

of that.

I: Then when Henry Plant was involved with the railroad.

T: It's a part of the old Plant system, yes.

AL 26A Bridges

I: Uh huh. What other railroads--what were your competing railroads

through town or if not competing, what other railroads went through


T: Well, you had the J. G. & G., which is Jacksonville Gainesville and

Gulf. You referred a while ago to a T. & J. That's the same thing.

I: Uh huh.

T: Tampa and Jacksonville. Of course, it never did go to Tampa and

it never did get to Jacksonville. But then the name was later changed

to the Jacksonville Gainesville and Gulf, and it made Gainesville and the

gulf, but it never did get to Jacksonville.

I: Well, where--when it was supposedly going to Jacksonville and Tampa, what

was it doing--just stopping outside the city?

T: Stopping and connecting here with the Atlantic Coastline and the


I: Uh huh.

T: It later became a part of under lease rights of the Seaboard. Then

when it was disposed of completely, the Seaboard did not bid on it.

The Atlantic Coastline did, and it became a part of our railroad, and

the line that we are on. And the main reason that we bought it--the

Atlantic Coastline bought it was to get out of Main Street. There was

pressure on us-terrific pressure from the city to get out of Main


I: When was this?

T: This was in the period just after World War II.

I: Uh huh.

T: And we actually moved into our new depot on Sixth Street in the late

summer, I believe it was August or early September of 1948, and moved

AL 26A Bridges


T: out of Main Street. And that was quite a way, yes. One day we were

running down Main Street and the next day we were running over on

Sixth Street.

I: Now on Sixth Street though, before you moved there, the Seaboard

ran on that line?

T: That was the old J. G. and G., and was operated by the Seaboard.

I: Uh huh. When did the name change from Tampa Jacksonville to the

other name?

T: I couldn't tell you that, I doubt. That was--it was bound to have

been in the early 1900s.

I: As some people refer to it--well, people refer to it by both names
and it's the same-
T: There's T. & J. and J. G. & G., but it was actually the Jacksonville

Gainesville & Gulf in its later years.

I: Uh huh. What were the--what kind of people did the railroad pick up

here? Was it mostly university students?

T: An awful lot of our traffic--passenger traffic was university students.

No question about that. We'd get load after load of baggage and

students and when this train'd pull in, the street would just fill up

with students coming off the train. And of course, an awful lot of

them came up on the Seaboard from Miami and that area through Waldo,

but that's--that wasn't our part of it. Now during the war, when

Camp Blanding was in operation, we kept two and three men standing at

the window selling tickets twenty-four hours a day. There was just

no stopping them. I mean it was just for every--for every train there

were-there was no reservations. You sold them tickets, and they got

on the train when it came, ad that's all there was to it.

AL 26A Bridges


I: Was this true for the '30s, too? Were there no reservations?

T: Now/of course, you know I'm talking--no, no. We had no reservations

until after World War II. Then's when we started making reservations.

Of course, Pullman, we always had reservations.

I: Uh huh.

T: But for coaches, there was not reservations until after World War II.

I: As early as the '30s you had Pullman cars and regular coach cars.,

what other facility would you have on a train going through Gainesville?

Would you have a dining car or a club car?

T: There was--until we started running the Champion through here after

World War II, there was no dining car on the train. Now at times, we

had--they would wire us from Lake Butler to have so many sandwiches

and so much coffee. And at one time, there was a cafeteria right

diagonally across from the First National Bank. There was a cafeteria

there, and we'd get them to service the train, and we'd give them a

list of sandwiches and what was wanted, see. They had a regular

schedule-menu that they'd give to the passengers, and we'd--as the

train came in here around--right at noon and the sandwiches would go

on the train and the coffee. And at a later time we had the White

House Hotel take care of that, and we had on special trains that came

in, we stop there on Main Street and get off and go (n either the

cafeteria or the White House.

I: If you did that, how long would the stop be?

T: We would allow a minimum of thirty minutes. Of course, it'd always

take a little bit longer.

AL 26A Bridges


I: Uh huh.

T: Yeah.

I: What would be the price of the ticket between Gainesville and say

outside of Tampa?

T: Well, I've been out of ticket selling so long until it'd be a little

hard for me to quote an actual ticket at that time. I can remember

quite well, though, that it was $2.10 to Jacksonville, $4.85, I think,

to St. Petersburg.

I: Could you make some comparison with approximately what that would be

today-the same distance?

T: No, I couldn't. I wouldn't have any way of knowing of it\0cause I

have not idea in the world what the fares are now.

I: How long have you been retired from your--

T: Five years and three months.

I: Well, I can easily call up the Seaboard or--and get the price of that.

T: When I retired, let me say this, I had a very dear friend of mine

retired several years before I did, and he never accepted retirement.

He--once or twice every day that rolled around, he was back down there

at that depot. He knew just as much about that railroad the day he

died as he did when he retired.

I: Was this a local person?

T: Yes.

I: Who was that?

T: Well, I don't mind giving you his name, but he committed suicide and

it's Claude Allen. Dr. Ben Samuels married his daughter. Dr. Dell

married his daughter. His wife, his widow, works at Rutherford's Jeweler.

AL 26A Bridges


T: And the fact that he committed suicide makes me hesitate to let--

I don't mind you putting it on tape, but I hate for you to use it

where it might go to them. You know that most people in town don't

know that he committed suicide.

I: I wouldn't put that in. The only thing I was mention was that how

dedicated he was to the railroad.

T: All right. Now Claude came back and I had a chair right there

my desk that was designated as Claude Allen's chair. And he'd come

in there and somebody was sitting in it, he looked hard at them, too.

I tell you that right now, but I made up my mind before I retired that

when I retired I was cutting my strings with the railroad and I did.

I: Well, I know my grandfather didn't make the break. He worked for

fifty-one years with the Long Island Railroad, and couldn't accept

retirement at all--got sick almost immediately and died soon afterwards.

But between him and his brother, they each worked fifty to fifgy-one

years on the Long Island Railroad.

T: I worked forty-five years and seven months, and when I go back down

there to that depot right now, everybody in that office gets up and

comes over and speaks to me. And I love it.

I: Right.

T: But I'm not going to be down there so much that they won't be glad

to see me.

I: Right. Well, what madyh-o change--alleviating the problem of cost--

what change, would you say, has taken place over the last forty years

in the railroad.

T: Now you have spoke and referred mainly to passenger business. The

AL 26A Bridges


T: railroads never make money on passenger business. They were the

happiest people in the world when Amtrak took the passenger business

away from them.

I: Uh huh.

T: And even in the heyday of the passenger trains, it was a losing

proposition with them. They made their money on freight, and now

my job was both freight and passenger.

I: Uh huh.

T: And except at rush times, I did very little with the passenger business.

I had my ticket sellers and I backed them up when the rush got on and

that was all there was to it. I spent most of my time in the freight

business. And in 1950, well, let's go back a little further than that,

in 1947, the latter part of 1947 and early 1948, the Atlantic Coastline

Railroad bought ten big passenger locomotives--even bigger than the

one that pulled the freedom train in here. Normally a passenger

locomotive or any steam locomotive would run for a minimum of fifty

years. It's not unusual to have had one working on the road that was

fifty years old. And in 1950 the diesel locomotive came out, and

before the end of 1950, the Atlantic Coastline Railroad scrapped those

,i~n e ten locomotives that cost them a quarter of a million dollars a


I: A quarter of a million dollars a piece!

T: And they went to scrap.

I: After two years?

T: After two years.

I: Mmmm.

T: That's how fast diesel power took over. And I have said many times that

AL 26A Bridges


T: the best thing that ever happened to me in this town during my

railroading days was in 1950 when they sent me a diesel locomotive

to work my yard. And two years later when they put a radio on that

diesel locomotive. That was the two best things that ever happened)

because you-without the radio-your only communication was by person.

And you had--and I've got--well, Caqnop_ company at north Gainesville

right now had over ten miles of track in their own yard. And we worked

every part of that track besides working from yard limit to yard limit

which is about another ten miles--working, every industry in town.

And when you started out to find that switch!ay and then give them a

message to go do something, you may have to wander all over twenty-five K,\-S

of track to find him.

I: Uh huh.

T: With a radio, you had him instantly. And I had an old yard foreman

that I'd swear when he saw me coming, he'd take off and run the other

way just as hard as that engine'd go. That's before I had the radio

and before I had the diesel. And the old steam engines or anytime

you went to them, they either had a hold of more cars than they could

handle or they had to cut loose with what they had a hold of and go

get more. Now that was all changed when you got a diesel.

I: Uh huh.

T: I don't care how many cars you put behind a diesel, he's going to

move them. And he may not make them move more than four miles an hour,

but he'll move them. Your steam locomotive just doesn't do that. Nov

bpt once you get them rolling, your steam locomotive will move them.

All right. That was where I spent most of my work was on the yard

AL 26A Side One
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looking after the switch engines, keeping everything rolling, keeping

everybody satisfied, and at the same time backing up my ticket clerks

in the ticket office.

I: Well do you recall specifically which companies, or industries in town

your railroad serviced as early as '34 or that area?

T: Oh yeah, you have, the don-S> Company's still out there. That's

treating plant on the corner of 23rd and the railroad. But uh, uh,

now, the plant that's not there at all now was our biggest customer,

that was ((c C n(or Company. They, uh, processed pine tar. They

got, uh, stump wood in and cooked the tar out of that stump wood and

made pine tar and turpentine by what they call a destructive method.

Uh, the natural method for getting turpentine and pine tar is to chip

the pine trees in the woods and let the tar run out of it into a container.

And that, that's uh, the natural way. But the destructive way is what

they did here, which cooks the wood and that's what makes charcoal.

I: Um hum.

T: I was cooking in my yard on charcoal when there wasn't another person

in Gainesville doing it, other than people who worked around Cabot out

there. And that was, that was the biggest industry we had in town,

and uh, you could smell that pine tar over a great part of Gainesville.

There's no question about it. And uh, when the people got hot after

pollution, they told Cabot they had to do certain things. And Cabot

figured up the cost. He says well, we're not going to do it, we'll just

AL 26A Side One
bd Page 12

close up. And in a short period of time they closed that plant out

completely and put 150 people out of work. Which I'm not, there's

not question but what there was some pollution there, I'm not arguing

that point at all, but we sure hated to lose a good customer like that.

Because we, we increased or decreased in our business in any month

depending on how Cabot Cvi-< ~ shipped pine tar and turpentine out

of here.

I: What other companies besides those two did you service?

T: Well, uh, Cabot and CohS were our two big customers, they were

the two biggest. And Adkins Manufacturing Company, uh, in the south

end of town was our next biggest. Yeah. Those three were our biggest...

I: Did you have any connection with the tung, uh, processing at all?

T: Tung oil products, uh, we had some. It never was too much of a paying

off proposition as far as the railroad was concerned. We had some.

There was a tung oil plant, uh, west of town here that we serviced.

Now over on in the L+rosse area that was served by Seaboard.

I: Um hum. Uh, did you find that there was much competition in these

industries between say, shipping by the railroad and perhaps shipping

by trucks...

T: Well of course in the...

I: ...as early as the thirties, or was it that late?

T: ...in the eary thirties it was entirely the rail. Uh, it was, actually

it was after, well it was in the forties before, before the trucks really

AL 26A Side One
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got to cutting in on our freight business too much.

I: What about, do you remember, uh, any major accidents that happened

in terms of the railroad in the Gainesville area.

T: Oh yes.

I: That had taken place at that time.

T: I've been, well when the radio came in, of course, uh, we knew about

an accident almost the instant it happened. And uh, uh, when they'd

call us on the radio and tell us about hitting an automobile, or what

have you that type. Uh, my, people in the office knew immediately, if

I was out of the office I, of course I heard it the time they heard it.

But they, we called the police, we called ambulances, and uh, quite a

number of occasions I, uh, been right, either right behind or right ahead

of the police and the ambulance in getting there, and uh, but the biggest

accident that I was ever connected with is when I was, it was on a

Sunday morning, and I was ta there listening, working at the office, and

all of the sudden the engineer on our southbound_ champion was pulling

twelve, fourteen cars I believe it was. Came in, he says, uh, \I'm on

the ground, I'm running full speed, we'll turn over any minute!. He said)

\\I'm one mile south of Lake Butler.' And he talked to me right straight

on through. Didn't a one of those cars turn over.

I: They didn't?

T: Didn't a one, how they kept from doing it, nobody will ever know. But

he pulled that train to a stop, there wasn't a person hurt, but we sure

AL 26A Side One
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had ourselves a handful that day getting those passengers, and getting

'em on down the road.

I: Do you recall what year that was, approximately?

T: I'd say that that was, that wasn't in thirties, that was in the fifties,

that was around.

I: In the fifties.

T: That was somewhere around 1955.

I: Did the radio cut down quite a bit on accidents.

T: It cut down on, uh, it cut down tremendously on the amount of delay

that a train had, and the amount of delay you had in getting help to

the people who got hurt. Yes, there's no question about that.

I: Do you recall any suits, perhaps by people that had gotten hurt?

T: Oh yes.

I: Was it common practice then as it is now in a suit, or...

T: Well, the whole thing was this. The railroad figures that it cost

them a minimum $1500 to go to court on any suit.

I: That's today?

T: Today, I mean that was back when, before I retired.

I: Right.

T: I don't know what it is now.

I: Right.

T: But back before I retired, they figured it cost them a minimum of $1500

to go to court. Now we had, uh, and we know that this was happening.

AL 26A Side One
bd Page 15

Particularly with a bunch of Miami lawyers. They would, uh, solicit

a case, never make one ounce of preparation for it. Know that they

had, they couldn't win, but never make one ounce of preparation for

it except the absolute minimum to file the papers, banking entirely

on settling for any figure slightly under $1500 because they knew the

railroad would do it, because it cost 'em that much to take any case

to court. And that's, uh, well as old Judge Adkins, his son's now

in the Supreme Court, George Adkins was our lawyer, and he says the

best way in the world to get a purebred cat was to breed a Florida

scrub to a Coastline loc motive. It immediately become a purebred cat.


I: Do you recall although this was a competitor railroad, perhaps you would
) 7
recall this name, Ed Ball. Because I guess by the settlement of the

Dupont estate, which would have been in the late thirties, I guess...

T: Now you're talking about the Florida East Coast now...

I: Yes.

T: ...and Ed Ball of course is, uh, he's one of the greatest geniuses as

far as making money goes, that's ever lived I reckon. Of course he

didn't know, he took a fifteen million dollar estate of the Dupont's

and I don't believe anybody knows now what it's worth.

I: I have some guesses of twenty million for his personal fortune and

another twenty billion I believe is the corporations.

T: (Chuckle). It's fan, it's fantastic, I'll tell you right now that man

AL 26A Side One

bd Page 16

is a genius, there's not question about that.

I: But do you recall his name in terms of the F.E.C. railroad as early

as the thirties?

T: No, no.

I: It's mostly since then.

T: He took over the F.E.C. after it went bankrupt. And uh, uh, it was the

strike that shut it down. And he, well I wouldn't have given him a

Chinaman's chance of making money out of it, but he made money. There's

no question about it.

I: Well...

T: And this happened in the fifties.

I: ...the one thing he did as you mentioned before about passengers, is

he closed down passenger service, kept the freight part.

T: Right, right.

I: So I guess he kept the profitable part, although the union members thought

that uh, by shutting down the railroad it would have some major effect

on 'em. And they were wrong. Even throwing, I can recall seeing cars

over on their sides down in the Fort Lauderdale area, Miami-Hollywood

area, and I guess it really had not affect.

T: No, uh, well your railroad never did make money out of less than carload

freight, and it never make any money out of ppssengers.- And they got

rid of both of 'em. The two biggest headaches I had was the passenger

business and the less carload freight. Passenger business was taken

away from Gainesville from my office when Amtrak took over just prior

AL 26A Side One
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to my retirement. And three months after I retired they went out of

the less carload business. So the two biggest headaches I had went

by the board.

I: What effect did the depression have on the railroad. Now you were

already working for the railroad in '25, I guess, and then you were

here in '34 when the depression was really being felt by that time.

Did you find that, uh, this had a great deal of effect on the railroad?

T: Well there's no question about that, *, and right here in Gainesville

in 1934-35. We had, /R', of course they can't do that now they, .h, the

labor unions have shut that off. But we used to work men as extra labor.

And I had men sit right on that platform down there at the depot on

Main Street all day long waiting for one hour, two hours work at twenty

cents an hour less ten percent.

I: What was the less ten percent for?

T: That was the last reduction that was made. They were still paying them

twenty cents an hour, but xi4AJy, there was a ten percent education

from that because of the depression being like it was, that was the last

reduction made to, in other words my salary was $3.91 an hour if I'm

remembering right. And the last notice I had of any reduction, it had

been reduced and reduced, was there'll be another ten percent...


AL 26A Side Two
bd Page 18

one just a little further on the salary business and to show you the

difference. And don't misunderstand me now, the railroad was considered

in, in those days to be one of the best paying jobs you could get. But,

uh, when I got, when I moved to Gainesville my regular paycheck every

fifteen days was just under $50, and that was considered good money.

I mean that, uh, I was, I was in the upper bracket so to speak. But uh,

these boys, these colored boys would hang around that depot all day for

two or three hours work. And they got just as I said, twenty cents an

hour less, less ten percent. And uh, one of my best employees that

finally became a regular employee and one of my porters, Morris GreenI

pe swears to his dying day that, uh, that my warehouseman who was keeping

time was not only not paying him but eighteen cents an hour, but was

shortening him on his time in addition to that. I never could prove

that for Morris, but he swears it was true and dh-uh, that pretty well

shapes up all that I can tell you about the railroad other than...

I: Was it just black men looking for jobs at that time or in the depression

were there white men looking for anything in the railroad also?

T: There was, there was white and colored, both/j n that same boat. I

was lucky enough never to be without work. But yi, I had one man for

instance that was cut off and when I contacted him it was twenty years

later 4~fgr they, he was cut off and lived here in Gainesville, and

they asked me to try to find him. And I through his brother I located

him in Palatka. He hadn't hit a lick's worth for the railroad, twenty

AL 26A Side Two
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years after that when I called him, got hold of him and told him

that they wanted him to come back to work. And he went on and retired

from the railroad. Was running passenger trains right through here


I: Do you recall his name?

T: Uh, Percy Bainbridge.

I: Now, because your family was prosperous in comparison to many in the

depression in Gainesville, did you find that ],, many of your relatives

or friends moved into your family or...

T: No, no, huh uh.

I: Did you, so you didn't experience any kind of having to sha3rwith others?

T: We'd A, we'd take up a collection night to buy a gallon of gas to

ride up and down University Avenue.

I: Was that for fun riding?

T: Uh, just to get out and see what was going on. And that would be just

the ...

4. Neighborhood.

T: ...the neighborhood, you know. The only way we could do it would be

to get up enough money to get a gallon of gas.

I: How much would that gallon of gas cost you then?

T: About twenty cents, something like that.

I: And what kind of car did you drive.

T: Uh, we had a, we had a '31 Chevrolet.. That '31 Chevrolet I bought in

AL 26A Side Two
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Ocala. And it was a sport model. 2-Y, 6-Y wheels, 2-Y wheels sitting

in the fender of each side. And I paid Turnipseed Chevrolet $631 for

that car delivered in Ocala. Now you just figure what the change is from

then till now.

I: Right, right. Did you ever buy a car in the thirties, jy after that

car from a Gainesville/::.LO; business?

T: The next car we had after that was a '41 Ford, what's t4at iakce

,,74: I don't remember. That might have been purchased from Shaw Keeter then.

T: I'm not sure, my mind's just not quite clear on that.

I: What did...

?: The thing is that we all pitched in and spent $2. 35 on a Monopoly set,

and everybody met at our house every night to play Monopoly.

I: Okay Mrs. Turner where was your house in the thirties?

M: We lived on the corer of Pleasant Street, south.

I: And how long did you live there?

M: We lived there about four years.

I: Until about '38?

M: Yeah, uh huh.

I: And then where did you move?

M: We moved up behind Shaw# Keeter's old garage when they was, it was on


T: Mechanic Street.

M: ...Mechanic Street.

AL 26A Side Two
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I: And i what did you and your friends do in the neighborhood for

recreation during the thirties?

M: Well when we lived on Pleasant Street, we lived in a neighborhood

where there were quite a few people our age. And of course, money

was scarce, nobody had any money to spend. But one thing that we

did that we enjoyed a great deal was we all pitched in together

and bought one Monopoly set when it first came out, the game. And

they met at our house every night and we played Monopoly every night.

One interesting thing about it, we had a red-headed friend that lived

with us and she got so mad one night playing Monopoly that she swore

off she'd never play the game. She said no one should ever do anything

to make them as mad as she got madly, you know, as it made her when she

lost a Monopoly game, so that took her out of our crowd of Monopoly


I: Do you recall who she was?

M: Yes, Sally Cooksie. Um hum, very dear friend, she's been a friend through

the years.

T: We just got a Christmas card from her today.

I: Who were some of the other people you played with, do you recall? Some

of the neighbors?

T: John and Virginia Wines, who else?

M: Un, oh golly, Cooksie, the Flaggs, Norman and Johnn Flagg lived behind

us in a garage apartment. And uh, my brother-in-law was staying with us

AL 26A Side Two
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going to school, Grover Moore. He played on the football team that

year. And gj, my brother stayed with us and worked with Woolworth,

John Bailey. And there were just were a nice group of us around all

the time. We had a young daughter, 2 years old when we moved here.

So none of the ,rest of them had children so everybody came to our

house because we were at home with our child. They were happy times

although we hardly knew from one day to the next where the next meal

was coming.

T: It was very happy times. I'll never forget the night that we, we

all pitched in and went and bought a watermelon. And after we had

eaten all the watermelon that we, out of it / hey got to throwing

melons at each other. And my wife and Johnny Wines locked arms each

with a piece of watermelon where they'd have to turn loose to get, and

when they got through they both needed a shower, I'll tell y1. I'll

tell yg, that was a great time.

I: Your wife mentioned that for a while a relative of hers lived with you,

he played on the football team. So I imagine you must have been interested

in the Gator football team in the thirties then.

T: I never missed one.

I: Uh, what kind of attire and what kind of activities went on at a football


T: Well, very much like it is now. I don't think, b ,,, there was always

some drinking, there was always somebody gon~g sit behind you that was

AL 26A Side Two
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gonna hit you when the big play come up, you expected that. And h,

it was always\ wait till next year.

I: (Chuckle). And it's been that way ever since. I guess by the time

you were here the gators were already playing in the S.E.C. (conference).

T: Oh yes. Yeah.

I: And ti, the big rivals, do you recall the big rival games.at that time?

T: Well one that we never play anymore is Georgia Tech. That used to be

a great game. And of course in my railroading, and in those days, we

brought special trains into Gainesville for the football games here,

and we almost always ran a special train from here toerd the ones that

we would usually go to would be in New Orleans, Louisiana or in Atlanta

for Georgia Tech, then it was Tennessee and Kentucky.

I: When you ran a special railroad for that, it would be extra cars on...

T: It would be a special train right out of here.

I: Complete special train.

T: However many cars we needed. And the railroad usually sent me the

nucleus that started the special train would be the band. If I could

line up Colonel Buchman and the band to go, we'd promise them two cars,

two coaches, plus a baggage car for all their equipment. And from that

then, we would build a special train.

I: What would be the minimum aboat of cars or people that would have to

sign up.

T: Well we wouldn't, we didn't like to run with, Og we figured that we could

AL 26A Side Two
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make enough out of it if we had the band and *4 a minimum of, oh,

100 more people to make it 4h...

I: And did you usually get that?

T: Oh we'd, we'd usually run anywhere from eighteen, nineteen, twenty

cars. i, with dh5 in the coaches, would be fifty-four to the coach

and in the Pullman cars there'd be about twenty to the Pullman.


I: And this would be adults as well as students?

T: Oh yes. Uh, and they'd send me to look after the band. And of course

we'd have other representatives looking after the rest of the train.

I: Would there be special cars for the students and the adults, or would

they all be mixed in together?

T: It'd pretty well all be mixed unless someone took a special, now Sid

Grossman, Curtis Newsom used to like to take a whole car, and uh...

I: Sid's still around isn't he?

T: Oh yes, yes Sid Grossman, Curtis Newsom's still here too. 4.,they'd

take special cars, for all, then that crowd would be in there, and there'd

be poker games going, and id~ just general fun, you know. Vhf I saw

'em rolling, saw one group rolling high dice, $100 a roll coming back

one night. I also saw one time when, tlwhen a college professor, and

I couldn't tell you his name to save my life now A1y we put him to bed

in a Pullman berth in Jacksonville, Florida going up, we took him off

the train at Gainesville when we got back. He stayed just that drunk

the entire trip.

AL 26A Side Two
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I: Now...

T: Now...

I: I guess by that time liquor must have been legal then.

T: Probably was.

I: Yeah, I think.

T: would think so. Now, on another occasion, let me tell you something

else that happened on one of those trips. We were coming into Atlanta,

Georgia, 4:00 in the morning. Union station in Atlanta is right down-


I: Yes, I know.

T: W we i4i, the band wanted to get off and seranade Atlanta. Uh, Colonel

Buchman came to mea and said what do you think about itli And I said/

M well, the downtown where we are I don't believe anybody'll bother us,

let's try!/ So when we hit that, hit Atlanta 4:00 in the morning, right

out of that train they came playing"We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole

StateAGeorgi. And there must have been twenty-five policemen out on

the street by the time we got up there. And they never did a thing

except smile at us. We marched all the way around that block up there

close to, what's the name ofgj. Richard's.

I: Um hum, yeah.

T: And if, back down and ona to the train and the policemen never said a

word to us. And the bunch got the steam off you know, and everything

was alight. 414 that was the same trip that I took both an overcoat

AL 26A Side Two
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and a raincoat with me. In fact, I did that most any time when I

was going up cause you never can figure what the weather is. And-uf,
it was so cold in Atlanta, well I figured it couldn't possibly rain.

And Dashwood Hicks, runs Hicks Bargain Center right down here, didn't

have a coat with him, had a short-sleeved shirt and I let him have my

raincoat. When we got into Knoxville, Tennessee it was a soft rain,
or -,, Vr-i ^<^c rC ,
and soft slushy snow. And I wished I had my raincoat a&eo-~ea*-that.

That's the only football game in my life t1~t I ever left at halftime,

but I left that one at halftime.

I: What did the band pay for a ticket at that time, or was it a group rate,

or how did they work it?

T: It would be a group rate, and would be figured on that basis. it

would usually,.,ih, I'm saying around $45 per person/round trip and they'd

take around 120.

I: And did the university pick up that tab.

T: The university, the athletic department, but... and the cheerleaders

and the majorettes and the band would go and they'd usually be around

any where from a 100 to 120 people in that group.

I: When did the railroad stop running special trains to games?

T: Well we ran specials to to Gainesville the year before we quit running

passenger trains. The year before Amtrak took in. It was not unusual

for us to have five special trains sitting right here at Gainesville,

and A14 we only had room to park three.

AL 26A Side Two

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I: This was coming into Gainesville?

T: Coming into Gainesville for the game.

I: And what about, and where would this be coming, from Jacksonville?

T: Mainly these came from the south. They came from Sarasota, Bradenton,

Tampa, Miami, always for the Miami game there'd be one or two specials

come up from Miami.

I: Okay what about going out?

T: Going out we mainly went to New Orleans, Atlanta, to Georgia Tech.in

Atlanta, and toj Qv Kentucky and Tennessee.

I: But when did that stop.ddid that stop about the same time or4 s-\"CC

T: That stopped two or three years before the inbound train stopped, yes.

I: Because of, I guess, people using cars and buses more often.

T: Right, and flying.

I: And flying.

T: Yeah.

I: Where would, %N the railroad buy equipment locally? Or would*,j

that come {f3 a national office?

T: We bought nothing /S1 if I'm reading you right. We didn't buy anything

locally. Uh, except ice and water.

I: And where would you purchase those from.

T: We bought ice from Gainesville Ice and Cold Storage, which is out of

business now.

I: Is that the one that used to/Ion 10th?

AL 26A Side Two
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T: Right, and we bought,.jiwe bought the water from the city

of Gainesville, and u ~.lQ, they would equip a fire ag where we

could plug in to it. And we'd have to, on those special trains,
we'd have water every car. Your air conditioning and your drinking

water both had to be filled up. Same most of 'em would take enough

drinking water from where they originated. That was not the proposition,

the trouble was with the air conditioning water.

I: Well how early in the train's history did you have air conditioning?

T: Well, 4pH that's hard for me to say. But we, during my period of time

of running specials in here for football games, we always, we always

had, .dr" air conditioningiidt, although in the early stages it was

ice-activated. You'drii open up those bunkers underneath and put,

put *a 300-4. blocks of ice in there and then they'd draw the air

through that and cool the car. That was the early stages of air

conditioning. Then later on of course they went to mechanical air

conditioning. Then they had to have water for that. Thattri* was


I: Did you belong to any social organizations in the late '30s?

T: No, I later joined the Kiwanis Club, but y my main work~'ihf outside

of the railroad was with the Methodist Church.

I: Um hum, the First Methodist Church?

T: First Methodist, I was church treasurer there for twenty, twenty-two


AL 26A Side Two
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I: And do you recall any special activities the Methodist Church did

at that time period?

T: Well, just the main thing that regular churches do all the time is


I: Um hum. Do you recall any of the members that belonged as early as

the '30s.

T: Colonel Floyd, who's been dead quite a number of years, but ^y his

grand, his grandson MacDaniels, runs this, 4 MacDaniels flea market,

antique furniture place out on East University Avenue, way out there.

That's his grandson. Colonel Floyd was,,~ one of our early, earliest

members. Pfifer, does that name mean anything to you?

I: The Pfiffer family from the bank?

T: The Pfi fer, Uncle Gus Pfi fer was an active member, all the Pfi fer's

were active members of our church along in the early '30s, the ones

that were living, yeah.

I: Now at that time in the '30s you just hadAShs one daughter who was an

infant, is that correct?

T: Well, she was born in 1931, she was a cheerleader at Gainesville High

School which is the old Sante Fe building down on University Avenue.

I: So by, in the late '30s then she was already attending elementary

school, is that correct?

T: Oh yes, yes.

I: Did she attend at Kirby Smith.

AL 26A Side Two
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T: Yeah, she went to Kirby Smith.

I: And do you recall any interaction you had with Kirby Smith at that


T: Oh, we were in the P.T.A. We hauled the cheerleaders all over, well

anytime they moved, I4 we were the ones that were carrying 'em.

&e4,ause at that time when she was a cheerleader was in the '40s. And

Mary had gone to work, and she had a car of her own, and I had my

car, 41 anytime the cheerleaders had to go anywhere, well she drove

one car and I drove the other and we took 'em to the football games

and everywhere else.

I: Do you recall the Seagle building and what your reaction was to

seeing the Seagle building?

T: That old skeleton.

I: Um hum.

T: Yes, I recall it quite well. It was a eye sore, and it's still, it's

not much better than an eye sore. But it's a lot better than it was

when it was an old boarded-up skeleton.

I: What about, some families remember having a Obout with malaria in the

late '30s. Do you recall that in Gainesville?

T: Yes, I had my share of it. I fought malaria for quite a number of

YMy first bout was when I was in high school and this happened in the

summer when I worked up in the Okefenokee Swamp. And I come out of there

AL 26A Side Two

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with malaria and it, it was,/tl well it was well up in the '30s

before I ever got rid of it, really got rid of it.

I: But you don't recall say a special, i;.n almost an epidemic of it

here in Gainesville as late as the '30s?

T: No I don't.

I: 4y who was your doctor and dentist in Gainesville in the '30s?
T: Well Dr. Summit, Summit, Summit...

M: Summit and Hussey.

T: Summit and Hussey, right. Hussey was our dentist and Summit was our


I: Um hum, and this was in the '30s?

T: This was in the '30's, yes.

I: Do you recall where either of their offices were?

T: Yes, A that's the reason I come, we hadn't been here too long when,

ft, u our home at that time was, tdh right behind, well do you know

where Dr. 2 's office is uptown.

I: No sir.

T: Uh, you know where the Florida National Bank is?

I: Yes sir, um hum.

T: A ight, right across the street that runs right beside Florida National

Bank and about midway of that block there was a house there that we

rented, and4 Dr. Summit moved here from Cross City and he took a long-

term lease on that house. And that's when we moved down to the other

AL 26A Side Two
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place that the wife was telling you about. Un, Dr. Summit came to

us. He didn't send the landlord or the realestate or anybody else,

he came to us and was so nice in apologizing in telling us how bad

he hated to rent the house out from under us, but how it was ideally

situated for him, for an office. We got to liking him so well until

we, we made him our doctor, and never regretted it. He was a great

man, he's dead. Been dead quite a few years.

I: Um hum.

T: I think I know what she's gonna do.

M: Well, Uie speaking of our doctor, I think we had a very interesting

experience with Dr. Summit when he came to our home that day to tell

us that he had leased the buildings he said he realized what an incon-

venience it was going to be, and he would like us to, if we wanted to

use his services, that as long as he lived we would never be sent a

bill for his services because of inconvenience that he offered us.

We did this for several years, and then I went to him and I felt that

he had fulfilled any obligation he ever owed us and we just couldn't

accept it any longer.

I: Well(just out of curiosity/ do you recall what rent you were paying on

that building before he moved in?

T: Thirty-five dollars a month'.

I: Thirty-five dollars a month? And then you mentioned your dentist, uh,

what was his name again?

AL 26A Side Two
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T: Dr. S. A. Hussey, Jr.

I: Um hum, and do you recall anything about Dr. Hussey?

T: Well, he was a fine dentist, and~ b as all dentists were in those

days, his prices were very reasonable. Oyause they had to be, because

people didn't make any money. I mean there's, you think about trying

to live now on less than a hundred dollars a month.

I: I can't live on what I make, let alone any less. I want to ask you

about a few people in town and maybe you could react to some that you

know. Uh, did you know Prof, Bucholz.

T: Quite, well. I could tell you a very interesting experience with him.

I: Feel free.

T: Uh, let me just briefly say this, 4 our daughter was graduated from

high school. Uh, Profj Bucholz had never allowed robes. They wore

street clothes.

M: Long dresses.

T: Long dresses and so forth. And uh, this particular senior class decided

that they wanted to wear robes. And he says no sir.

I: Do you recall what year we're referring to now?

T: Uh, we're talking about 1950 aren't we Mary?

M: Right.

T: And, the high school wanted to take it to the school board. And of

course, + 4,my daughter was in, was a cheerleader and we became, we got

in the middle of it. And/ih, we went before the school board. They made

AL 26A Side Two
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a very good appeal. And Dr. S. A. Hussey, Sr. was on the school

board, I think he was chairman of the school board. And he, li*, he

settled the question when he said that~,t), )that one of the greatest

pictures that he had of his youth and the one that he went back to

and looked at more than any one else was his picture in his robe at

his graduation. And 0fj. it was brought up immediately, well that was

your college graduation, and Dr. Hussey saidyes it was, my college

graduation. But you must remember that better than half of this senior

class will never graduate from college. And if they want to have their

picture made with a robe on, I think they ought to do it./

I: Um hum.

T: And that was the first year that Gainesville High School allowed robes,

and it's been done ever year since then, it's never been stopped.

I: What about John Tigert. Do you recall John Tigert?

T: I know John, knew John Tigert quite well. He was a member of the First

United Methodist Church. He sat in the regular place ever Sunday. And

u.t i, I had a very high regard for John Tigert.

I: Well rather than ask you any other questions because to be honest I can't

see if this tape is almost over or not would you like to make

any comments in particular about the '30s on things that I haven't asked


T: I think you pretty well covered it. I think that/,tha that the '30s were

great. With all their hardships. I think that we had one of the greatest

AL 26A Side Two
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presidents since Abe LincolnX Pad FDR andd)4 I wish we could say

that presidents since him have had the ethics that he had. Maybe,

O' of course old Harry Truman was a favorite of mine too. But...

I: You must be a staunch democrat.

T: Well, uh...

M: Amen.

T: ... the times I have voted Republican I have regretted it.

I: I can say the same for myself.

T: I think you've pretty well covered everything.

I: Do you mind if I use this material in my research that I've gathered


T: Not in the slightest, except for the one thing I would not like any

mention whatsoever to be made derogative to Claude Allen.

I: Okay.

T: Now, if you'll cut it off, I'll tell yp...


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