Group Title: Mrs. R.A. Williams
Title: Mrs. R. A. Williams
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00024718/00001
 Material Information
Title: Mrs. R. A. Williams
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Williams, R. A. ( Interviewee )
Riddle, Brad ( Interviewer )
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: March 20, 1970
Copyright Date: 1970
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00024718
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.

Table of Contents
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        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
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
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
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Fair use limts the amount of material that may be

For all other permissions and requests, contact the
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Side 1-Beginning


This is an interview with Mrs. R.A. Williams on March 20, 1970, at

approximately 1:30 P.M. on the subject the Hotel Thomas, the boulevard,

anything to do with the 1920.s.

(The interviewer is Brad Riddle)

I: Okay, first of all Mrs. Williams, how long have you lived here in

Alachua County?

I: Ninetm f-i.i ten is when you first came here. Approximately how old

were you then, do you remember?

W: Twenty-three.

I: Twenty-three. Okay, can you remember anything about the boulevard

when it was constructed at all?

W: Yes, but I don't remember the year. It was OC( in my neighborhood.

I knew the,.,.f0etP* s 4 C. LpQ4l),

I: How old were you at the time when it was constructed, do you remember?

W: I don't know.

I: Uh-huh. Okay. jwSJo Let's see, okay. Did the people carry on

recreational activities on it. Like did they used to ride on it, ride

horses and take walks in the evening and stuff like that after the

boulevard was constructed? Do you remember like when you used to
take walks or stuff like that.

W: Well, this was the Highland Heights out here, see.

I: Uh huh.

W: And this was supposed to be nicest part of Gainesville I;V r .

I: Uh huh. Can you remember anything else about it. Did yy ll used to

have sports like baseballivplay baseball there on Sunday afternoons

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I: on the boulevard or anything of that sort?

W: No. J10

I: Okay, let's talk a little bit about your social life ofAl920*s or

approximately ar-und-in-there. What did you do for the weekendsW

activities, SSV what did you do on the weekends?

W: Nothing special. Well, oh yeah, I had 'ois o"'-- family

I: Uh huh.

W: If that's what you want to-da.

I: Sure, anything, you know, just tell me anything--

W: Well, I worked. You know I'm a nurse.

I: Uh huh.

W: And I hadlyou didn't get off. It _____ and all that when

you had a hospital, but I did. Yes. I had a family.

I: How many were in your family, m'am?

W: My husband and son.

I: One son. Did ya1l have picnics like on Sunday afternoon and how

often did y 1l have picnics and where did you have them?

W: Oh, special occasions--the fourth of July and things like that.

Vk1. ttco o get out and i 4 we didn't have

cars, see.

I: Yeah. Where did these picnics take place--like around the duck pond?

Where did most of the picnics take place back then?

W: No, just nothing special. I don't remember i' go

somewhere. 7ik 0 r-A \ i(r. somebody took you

somewhere if they As#twere fortunate enough to have a car. We went

and you know, idly riding but not too much. Especially when we had

our vacations. You know you went by train then.

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I: Uh huh. Was there theatres here then in Gainesville?

W: Yes, one. Lyric4Lyric Theatre.

I: Lyric Theatre.

W: I remember that.

I: Well, could you describe it to me.

W: Oh.

I: Anything about it back then.

W: Well, it's a nice little theatre, and it was in back of Cox's

Furniture Store. '7 Bi ,Bt________

aggSAta It was a little--just wonderful and very nice.

I: About how many people did it seat? Was it very large or was it a

real small little type of theatre?

W: It was very small. The opera house4they had an opera housew*that

was over Cox's Furniture Store.

I: Yeah. Yeah.

W: You'Vt. G

I: Yes m'am. 4,s"t ig i t-~ ~

W: You're not a Gainesville boy, are you?

I: Yes m'am. I am a Gainesville,.boy. I've just been doing a little


W: Uh huh. Yeah. Tell me sra- \ Sc1 (^< i, ,'

I: Well, you know about it more than I. How often did movies come here-*

I mean to the theatre. -tae-A&ey--did the same movie stay here for

quite a while or did they have a different every week?

W: Every week.

I: What was the cost back then. I know it has jumped tremendously nowadays

How much couldLyou get into the movies for?

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W: Now, you know I don't remember that one. WC'-Cr \0i

but I don't remember what it was.

I: Did you attend school here or your sonand church?

W: My son?

I: Uh huh.

W: Well, I thought this was about Kirby Smith you wanted.

I: We'll get to that later on that certain topic on that one.

W: No, I'm from St. Petersburg.

I: Uh huh.

W: It's my home. I went to school there. And when I came here I was

a nurse. See, I'd been in training ov- O-N ,1 0v

I: Uh huh. Did you attend church here and if you did what church?

W: Oh yes. Methodist. Methodist.

I: Is that the one that's over there by the Citizen's Bank--the First

Methodist Church or where was he methodist church located?

W: The First Methodist Church was the one I went to.

I: Uh huh. Okay. Did y l1 have big celebrations on the holidays like

Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving and that? How did yq( l

celebrate them then?

W: Well, we all had hospitals and we had nurses and all, and yes, we
made it a very nice time for the ___ _

I: Uh huh. Do you remember anything about the Hotel Thomas being built?

Was it being built here when you lived here?

W: I lived just across the street from it when the Thomas was built.

I: Do you remember anything about it when it was being built?
W: Well, it was built '_

I: \_ \ 3 ____ uh huh. Can you remember anything about the

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I: social life that was built around it--around the Hotel Thomas and

all? Did they have big parties there and balls and did you--

W: I don't remember that. It was a home, you know. The Thomas had

a family there, you know. And so I __

I: Uh huh.

W: Beautiful place.

I: Well, that's what I heard. I wish I could have seen it. a .

Could you tell me anything about, like when you first moved here, did

they have tradesmen and maids and watermen and deliverymen here in

town or can you remember?
It- -
W: Oh, yes. But was 0et enough. _1__ vegetable and bread

would come by ringing the bell, you know, in the afternoon. Get your

groceries-rI mean your vegetables and bread. And the grocery stores

they came in the morning to take your orders and deliver them and

they don't have that anymore. It would be nice.

I: Did yalldid you and your husband do your own yard work or did you

hire somebody to do your yard work?

W: No, we had someone.

I: 'a.- Do you know if he's still living by any chance at all?

W: You mean 4 ~ o(rc 'a / ?

I: Yes m'am. The man who--

W: He was m7 orderly, and he did the yard work. He sa~uead. Heasmeat

arigirt-noew. _____

I: Oh. Could you think of anybody that's still living that was--

W: All my doctors are gone.

I: They are.

W: And they are all--I worked for all of them. I had patients for all

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W: the doctors. Dr. Thomas diedtoAss keA- \;A I ..~ ':

I: Okay. Okay, let's talk a little about the house)-the inside of your

house back then. Did you all have stoves back then? What kind of

stoves did you use to prepare your food and stuff like that?

W: I guess we had wood stoves unless--we didn't have electric stoves.

I: You had wood stoves.

W: Yeah, I mean you W when the ot-5lv bNtrC n"t until, yeah,

we had just wood heaters.

I: Uh huh. Where did you get the wood from?

W: They had woodyards -wV Mth i. e r it d t .

I: Oh yeah. Okay. How did you preserve your food, like you know,
nowadays we have refrigerators and back then how did you keep your

food cold?

W: Icebox.

I: Icebox.

W: We had an iceman bring the ice in, fill up your refrigerator.

I: How often did you have to get ice, didn't it melt?

W: Every day. Every day.

I: How did you get rid of the excess water that melted every day?

W: I had a pan under there, and you was always having to empty the pan.

I: Oh yeah?

W: Yeah. Well, you don't know anything about that, do you?

I: No, that's why I'm here. I want to learn about some of that stuff.

I think it's pretty neat. Let's see. What kind of lighting did you

have in your house--what type of--

W: Electric lighting.

I: You did have electric lights. I see. Did you have a telephone?

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W: Yes. Yeah.

I: How many--de most of the people--could they afford telephones then or

not? Was it like one to every block or--

W: Well, we had, you know, the old-fashioned \CV-, Vt yo0 ring/

you know, and you'd talk. And we had--

W: Yeah, we had 7 had them on the walls and we had them on the

desk, and 7\_ ( \_i_ 7 _

I: Uh huh. How did you heat your house? How did you, you know, stay

warm .c .r___

W: There was a wood stove.

I: Wood stoves?

W: There were heaters in all the rooms.

I: Did you have fireplaces or was it just heaters?

W: iwe s; we had fireplaces.

I: Uh huh.

W: Downstairs.

I: Uh huh.

W: We had nice fireplaces.

I: If I remember this isn't the original house here. Your other house

is on what street that you first lived in?

W: It was on Roper Avenue.

I: Roper Avenue. 4

W: And that's right--I think- i-im~:e 7th--N.E. 7th Street.

I: Uh huh.

W: Well, it was a big house. I had two houses. I lived in one and I had

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W: a hospital in the other one.

I: Oh yeah. ~ i

W: 4 Qm_ there. (p
t< 1*v <
I: Isn't Mr. Murphy live in it right now--Mr. A.A. Murphy or do you know
that owns the house originally.

W: No, it's Wade Wilson bought it from--I had ,_and

he's made apartmentS-

I: Oh yeah.

w: _____- \ so_ _-o _\ _

I: Okay. Has the house changed, like has it been remodeled since you've

moved out. I mean, like was it falling apart when they redid or--

W: Oh no. It was in good condition, and after I gave up the hospital

and Alachua General opened, then we closedJ /6d remodeled it and

made a home and I had rooms.

I: Oh, yes m'am. Okay. Now I guess we'll start talking about your

hospital. This is well, it's pretty important and you know mostly

about it I guess. Okay. What was the date, do you remember, that

you opened your hospital? Can you remember?

W: In '18--1918.

I: ini Lik .ightcn. Okay. How many doctors did you have there and

nurses in the hospital, do you remember right off hand?

W: Well, not too many. I kept two)#I had two regular nurses c' -,

I-Tfed- awth$-r _

I: Uh huh.

W: 6o ~o / it was surgery.

I: Uh huh.

W: They didn't have a surgical hospital here. They had little places, but

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W: at that time when a person had to have surgery, they had to go to

Jacksonville. They didn't-ido it in the home. Well, I ~or_- -

4-eY doctors.

I: That's it. Did the doctors made housecalls, didn't they?

W: Oh they were wonderful. They V~ce. appointments no~.-~

I: Yeah, waiting in line and all.

W: Yeah, mine was all surgery.

I: Uh huh.

W: _extra sometimes.

I: Did they build a new hospital while you were here'-a bigger hospital.

W: Yeah, and the Alachua General, see.

I: Uh huh.

W: And then they opened, and see they--I closed my place. And then I just

rented rooms, you knowtirremodeled and rented rooms.

I: Did you go with the Alachua-I mean-.

W: Oh, I did some special work over there, you know, special nursing, but

no, I was home. I E >_ home.

I: Uh huh. Was there any drugstores here?

W: Yes.

I: Where were they located and what was the main one?''

W: Downtown. Downtown.

I: On the square d3- pt2cC

W: Uh huh. Thecity drug and B ford's aaU h. There

I: Oh. Were there medicines being used then?

W: Why, yes. Yes, you mean. prescriptions?

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I: Yes, stuff like thal . -.-- -- 7

W: Oh yeah.

I: Uh huh. Ifsn-like A*, like mSe, when children miss

school because they were out sick and that, do you

know how they made up their work or not? Did they

make it up in the hospital or at home or--

W: Well, I just had the one sire.

I: Uh huh. \ r

W: I just had one site. ..'g.dM1i1a "eL..

I: Uh huh. You did say you used to teach school, right?

W: No.

I: Oh, you did not teach school.

W: No. No, I '(nCe- .

I: Okay. When you first moved here and your son attended

Kirby Smith, was that the only public school here in


W: Well, nor one. There was just one more. And then they

built the high school buildingw'now, wkiLh is still

I\' .T And then-f-Cand he w.a ill metfe-i-a,

ra Cv LA. 0"4 when Bucloltz opened
______ he*? r- iothere
there on4-over here on N.W. s And he -^ -there

and then he went to the university.

I: Uh huh. Okay. How did your son get to school? What,

you know, was transportation then? Did he walk?

W: He caught a ai-ev -j'~- just around the corner there.

I: Uh huh.

W: No, we had cars by that time.



I: Certainly, you did.

W: To get him to school.

I: Yes. When he attended the university, did you still

drive him to school or did, *

W: Well, he owned his own car.

I: He did. That was nice. How did the children dress for

school, and did they dress entirely different from


W: Well, they were very neat, and you know, just sqv y

,~Agethey didn't dress like they do now andf.some of them.

Well, I have three grandsons. I know what I'm talking


I: Stk4did the teachers give the students a lot of

homework then?

W: Yes, they had homework.

I: In your household did you have a set time when he came

home that he had to do his homework or anything like that?

W: Tried to, yes.

I: Tridd to? Okay. What wwe they studyM*gt.mw? What

subjects did they--

W: Reading, writing, and arithmetic, I guess.

I: Yeah.

W: You know, like that.

I: Basic stuff. hc.

W: Yeah.

I: What was the length of their school day? How long did

they go to school from what time to what time?

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W: kA*-*b 8:00 on to noon and back and three-thirty) or

something like that) t5 I remember it.

I: Oh, that's okay. The exact time is not-l.

Was the length of the school year the same as it is

today? You know, you'd start in September and go

;til December and--

W: Well, they didn't have all the semesters and all that,

you know.

I: Uh huh.

W: You just went on -til the Peee A6t-e, you know.

I: Uh huh.

W: And no, I don't remember. I don't remember. It's

not like they have it now.

I: Did they have holidays like a summer vacation?

W: Oh yeah.

I: They did.

W: Sure did.

I: Like is it-*was it like three months, you know, like

we have it nowd-like we go to school three-fourths
W: Yes. Uh huh. Yes.

I: Okay. That's good. Did y l1 used to take, like, trips

to the beach going, you know, when you had a summer

vacation&rwhen you got off from, you know, work whenever

you could get off, did you like to go to the beach or

how did you spend your time?

W: Or the lake. Oh, yes we did.

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I: What lake did you go V+Newnan's Lake? -J2" that where

you went swimming or* .,,

W: No, we went down to Ocala about.4I don't know-**different

lakes, and you know, _I l___ places around and the

boys went fishing awd we swime-d, yes -out at Ormond

Beach. We went out there a lot.

I: Oh yeah. I know where that is. I've rc ,_

W: We'd .e-dewn to a cottage UC- c-- t-. fishing

I: Did you like -ever take any real long trips, like all

the way up north or out to the west or anything like that?

W: .' I., ,., I've been to John Hopkins and Baltimore and
l", ', ,,', ^",, yn ,) r',.- ,-')
Atlanta and all that-iam-la' =Z- --- .B.a. but they

wasn't pitae trips.

I: Oh. Okay.
------------- -7 ir [ '
W: Are you-- ,81

I: Oh, that's okay. It's noa;rAimportant. Were the roads

here around town-4were they in good condition or what

were they made out of--all dirt?

W: Dirt. _>& clr University Avenue was paved with


I: Really?

W: And then and put those little
islands through here, you know, and

_asphalt _. And now I saw a

light go on.

I: Yeah. Well, did they bring in dirtferdid they haul it in?

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W: No.

I: Or not? They didn't.

(interruption--stop tape for some reason)
Lt4c' c (A--4'
Start back with the train again. I 'i t~ih --ra set.

Just tell me anything you want to about the train.

W: Well, I don't knowsit had two had had 0


I: Uh huh.

W: And if you wanted to get somewhere, that's the way you


I: Where could this train take you to--any special places?

W: Well, it used to take me to St. Petersburg. That's

my home down there, see.

I: Uh huh.

W: And I went __

I: How often do the train# come into Gainesville--daily?

W: Daily.

I: Uh huh.


I: Did yll ever take family trips--did your whole family

go down to St. Petersburg with you and spend like a couple
/ --
weeks down there?

W: Yes, if we had time, yes. J.ed -

I: I see. Uh huh. What was the farthest point that you

traveled on the train from Gainesville to where? Where

was the farthest place that--

W: Baltimore.

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I: Baltimore? That's where the train took you. About how

many days did it take you to get there?

W: I don't remember that.

I: I='d-4se.-a.-Aoi n time. Okay. Was there-9-were automobiles

sold here in Gainesville or did you have to buy them

somewhere else?

W: Here, they had them here.

I: Uh huh. When you had to have work done on them, did you

have to do it yourself or did you have it serviced?

W: Well, we had it servicedo-put it in the garage _-_ __-_

I: Uh huh. I see. Can you tell me anything about the

important businesses here in Gainesville that were

\~crC ? Was there any important businesses?

W: Yeah, there were. They were all important.

^y.'^T-I&re -t he r-e---

W: Well, ~j) [iAl- 'cC, t.Iit my husband was Cnctt

I: Uh huh.

W: CI P-

Is V^^S OC\ ScVLg \^;-^,'

W: Was a nice store. Definitely. I think that's about

over as now.

I: Yeah. Did you and your husband invest money in land

around here at all? Did you buy up a lot of land?

W: No.

I: No?

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W: We bought our home.

I: Uh huh. How did most people earn a living around

Gainesville? I mean--you know, I know that they did--

everybody, you know, had jobs like they do today, but

what were'~was there anything specific that most of

the people were earning their living from? Farming or

stuff like that?

W: Well, there was a lot of farming, you know, all around.

And I don't know anything special. Everybody tried to

make a living.

I: Yeah. What were the salaries thend.the wages? How much"#

did you get paid by the day or the hour or how did that


W: Well, 0i~c c'Ci compared to today, I guess it

was all right.

I: Uh huh.

W: You didn't get these big salaries, you know1 4-5- Ti --

soawed ~ ammfei you worked for a living.

I: What kind of city government did you have? What type-o

cAsE~--ygS-let's see, like, well, what was the govern-

ment like here in Gainesville?

W: I don't know.

I: Did they have any laws like they do now, like, about

Sunday liquor sales? Did they sell liquor on Sunday?

W: I don't remember that.

I: Okay. Well, what about law enforcement here? Did you

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I: have a police staff here?

W: Yes, a sheriff and police.

I: How did you get in contact with them when, you know,

you had trouble.

W: Dh, we had telephones.

I: Call them? Was there a lot of crime going on in

Gainesville then?

W: Not like it is now, no.

I: Uh huh. What types of crime did go on? They had, like,

horse stealing and stuff like that?

W: I wouldn't know about that.

I: Did they have the jail then?

W: Yes.

I: Where was the jail located? Do you remember? In the


W: No, see there was a -, An 4--C-, you know o _

I: Uh huh.

W: *- , tl ^ *

I: Right. Yes m'am.
/ -7
W: Well, you know where the city, _____ ta building,

1iSetZ~t-. It was a city and county jail right in that,-

hemcewte her where they built the post office in

that section right in there.

I: Uh huh.

W: And of course, Iri \ _,Je-, c cAO<-c ,
I _. @ -------

E-.d~-o-S A^-E-Ert-[-l-T ROE KG:bl^ k

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