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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Mrs. Lola Frazier
INTERVIEWER: Emily Ring
DATE: March 21, 1981
R: My name is Emily Ring. Today is March 21, 1981. I am here in
the town of Alachua, which is a small town twenty miles north
of Gainesville, or fifteen?
F: I think the signs up there say fifteen.
R: Fifteen miles north of the city of Gainesville. I'm going to be
making a life history of Mrs. Lola Frazier, who has lived in this
town for many, many years and who works at Penney's in Gainesville.
R: At Belk-Lindsey's in Gainesville. Mrs. Frazier, how long have you
lived in this town?
F: I lived in the county for twenty-five years. We lived about six
miles out in the county before we moved in town.
R: What is your husband's full name?
F: Opid Eastern Frazier.
R: Would you tell us, Mrs. Frazier, where you were born and when you
F: I was born in Franklin County, North Carolina on April 9, 1899. I
lived in Franklin County until I was about eighteen years old, just
after the World War I. Then I moved to Richmond, Virginia.
R: What was your father's full name?
F: My father's name was Samuel Thomas.
R: What occupation did he have?
F: He was a farmer.
R: This was near the town of...?
R: Louisburg, Franklin County, North Carolina. That is how many miles
north of Raleigh?
F: Twenty-nine miles.
R: Your father ran what sort of farm?
F: Tobacco and cotton and corn. Vegetables that we ate, of course.
R: Who was your mother? What was her name before...?
F: My mother was Virginia Emma Strickland. I never heard of any
Stricklands in North Carolina except my mother's family of
Stricklands until I came to Florida. The woods is full of them
R: How many children did your mother have?
R: I believe you had a twin sister.
F: I am a twin, yes. Her name is Ola, and my name is Lola.
R: How nice. Tell us the little story about telling you apart.
F: We were so identical that people didn't usually know which one
was which. My uncle would always say, "I'm going to tie a ribbon
around your wrist so I can tell you from the other." We were always
mixed up. Couldn't tell which was which.
R: What position in the family did you twin sisters occupy? Were you
the eldest or the middle?
F: No, we were the third ones. Then I had a brother that was born in
June and my mother died in October. The family was separated after
her death, different ones came in and took one of us, and another one
took another. So we were separated, and we never lived together. To
my memory my twin sister and I have never lived together more than
a year at a time in our whole life.
R: Do you find it true, in your case, that you and your twin sister, even
though separated during most of your life, have a great many character-
istics in common?
F: Yes, ma'am, I surely do. For instance, one time I went to visit her
in New Orleans where she had lived and raised her family. I bought a
piece of material and made a new dress to wear down there. When I got
there, she had one exactly like it made from the same pattern.
R: How remarkable.
F: When we were growing up, I had the whooping cough [pertussis]. I
lived with a family that lived ten miles from where she lived. Of
course in those days, ten miles is a long way because there's no way
to go except to walk or to go by wagon or buggy or something.
F: They wouldn't let me go anywhere near her because they didn't
want her to catch whooping cough, and she caught it anyway. Or
anyway, she had the whooping cough, just the same.
R: Isn't that remarkable!
F: When she was five years old, she lived with maybe the same family
because we were shifted from one family to another quite often.
R: These were all relatives, I assume.
F: Most of them, yes, or married in the family.
When she was five years old, she got burned real severely, and
they didn't know if she'd live. She cried for me, and they took me
to stay over there with her. When I got there, when I saw them
changing her bandages and how badly she was burned, I cried so bad
they had to take me back. Couldn't let me stay.
R: There was a very close feeling between you then.
F: Yes, there always has been.
R: Do you correspond with one another?
F: Oh, we talk on the telephone about every week.
R: Which is much more expensive.
F: I don't know. The postage is going up so now.
R: That's right.
F: It's almost as cheap to call as it is to write.
R: Yes, I'll need to start calling.
F: But we talk quite often.
R: That's nice. How many children and grandchildren does she have?
F: She has three children living. She lost a couple, but she has
three living children. She has, I think, twenty. I'd have to
count to really know.
R: Twenty grandchildren?
F: Yes. She has a son in Lansing [Michigan], I believe it is. A
son in Richmond [Virginia] and a daughter in Richmond. The son in
Richmond has got to have four bypasses...
R: Oh, goodness.
F: ...the thirtieth of this month.
R: Does heart trouble run in the fmaily?
F: Yes, it does. I said it many times that I think the whole family
is going to die with heart trouble. I take a digitalis every day
R: Is that right? You look to me in the pink of health. How old are
F: I'll be eighty-two April 9.
R: You're still working at Belk-Lindsey three days a week.
F: Yes, ma'am.
R: That's wonderful. Who drives you into town?
F: I drive myself.
R: That's so good. You go right down [U.S. Highway] 441?
F: No, I go out this way and go on the interstate.
R: You go on the interstate? You find that's easier?
F: It's nearer. I go out this way to thirty-ninth.
R: It doesn't bother you, that fast traffic on the interstate, getting
in and off the interstate?
F: No, not a bit. I don't mind driving anywhere, as long as I know
where I'm going. I hate to drive when I don't know which lane I'm
supposed to be in to turn and things like that.
R: I guess all of you who commute to Gainesville must be very concerned
about the high price of gasoline now?
F: Yes, we are.
R: Your husband is an invalid?
F: No, not exactly. He just went back there and lay down awhile. He's
been up this morning.
R: What has been his occupation?
F: He's a tobacco farmer that's why he came in Florida. Tobacco
was rather new. He was down here four years before I came, before
we were married even. He grew tobacco out on this section between
here and High Springs. There's houses built all over that land now.
R: That land has become valuable. I want to go back to your childhood
in Franklin County, North Carolina. I see you have an old picture
here of a family reunion where there are about two or three dozen
people here. All you girls and children are dressed in white, so it
must have been a light color.
F: I think that that was maybe where the camera took the pictures, I
doubt if they were all white dresses.
R: But they were light colors.
F: It must have been pastel shades.
R: It must have been summertime.
F: Yes. Must have been floral prints and things like this.
R: Is that a tobacco barn in the background?
F: That's the church.
R: That's a country church, excuse me.
F: It was a bush farm. They put out holes. I believe they called
them rafters at that time and put bushes over them. We worshipped
in that for a whole year. Then they made money and built that
little church. I wouldn't be surprised if my father didn't help
to build it.
F: He was handy with....
R: Your mother doesn't appear in this picture because she died when
you were very--how old?
F: About fifteen months.
R: Then your father remarried.
F: When I was seven years old, my father remarried.
R: You have how many half-sisters?
R: Four half-sisters.
F: And three half-brothers.
R: You and your twin sister were the only ones issue from your own
mother, is that it?
F: We're the only ones living, but by then I, do have a sister and
two brothers dead. They were my mother's children. We're the
only two that are living of my mother's.
R: Does your twin sister also have heart trouble?
F: Not that I know of. She may, but I don't know.
I might tell you this. When Mother died, nobody in the family
was able to take him because they had small babies of their own.
So Mable Lady wanted him. They wanted to adopt him very badly.
Daddy told them that he wasn't going to give away one of his children,
but that he would never bother them if they took him. So they took
him, and they sold the farm that they had close to us and moved to
Granville County, which is up near Oxford. Up in that way, Oxford
is the town. They lived close to it and so they sold the farm in
Franklin County and moved to Granville County thinking that it was
so far distant, which was maybe forty miles, that he would never
know us or know who we were, So he got to be a grown man. He was
in the last year of high school when my grandmother's estate had to
be settled. There was a little bit of money that was supposed to
come to all of us. The lawyers went to her and told'her this. She
said that if anybody had to tell him, she wanted to tell him, but
daddy never had let us go up there or anything. Of course, my
stepmother's people lived in the same town. I know you've heard of
the Slaughters: Frank, the baseball player, Enos Slaughter, and....
R: The novelist?
F: Frank Slaughter....
R: The novelist.
F: Novelist. They are my stepmother's nephews. So daddy told them
that he would never bother them. My stepmother's people lived in
that county. So she went up there to visit them one time, and
she let me go with her. I called Mrs. Daniel, who was his guardian
mother, and I asked her if I could see him. She said, "Well, since
he's found out that he has brothers and sisters, he is not himself.
He is very upset about it, and I think it would do him good if he
did see one of you." So I went to the school building where he was
going to school. I didn't see anybody around but one woman and I
asked her. She, I suppose, was a teacher or an office worker, I
don't know which. I asked her if I could see my brother, Raymond
Daniel. She said, "Well, he's in the chapel." and she said, "If
you'll wait out here, he'll come down those steps." When he came
down the steps, it seemed to me that instictively I knew him.
R: He had taken another name of his....
F: They gave him their name, so that he would....
R: The foster parents.
F: Yes, Daniel. He went by the name of Raymond Daniel.
R: This was the first time you had seen him.
F: First time I had ever seen him. I knew about him all the time,
but he didn't know about us.
R: How old are you then?
F: I was probably sixteen, somewhere along there.
R: In those days, instead of divorce, you had the death of one parent.
Now we have all this divorce, but then, either the father or the
mother died young, and you had the second marriage. So you had the
same kind of complicated family relationships, didn't you?
F: Yes, we did.
R: Now we have these divorces and all these step-children and all of
the custody problems and so forth.
F: There was no custody problem. He never was adopted until after he
was married. He had a child to go to school and the teachers
questioned as to whether they should register this child by the name
of Daniel or by the name of Dickerson. He went down and he said
that he'd been by the name of Daniel all these years, so he didn't
see how he could change it then. He went to the courthouse himself
and had his name legalized Daniel. So he was a Daniel.
R: Let's go back to your grandfather who was a Dickerson, right?
R: Is he in this family picture?
F: No, that was my father in that picture.
R: But your grandfather did fight in the Civil War, didn't he?
F: Yes, ma'am.
R: You have a....
F: He came home with frozen feet from Appomattox, I think, or
somewhere up in Virginia there.
R: Frozen feet, my goodness.
F: Frozen feet and, you know, they didn't have any shoes. If you
read that book, you'd be surprised at what they did go through.
R: My goodness.
F: He had pneumonia and died. That's the one.
R: The name of this book is They Fought by P. H. Pierce. Your father's
name is in this book?
F: My grandfather.
R: I mean your grandfather, right. Do you remember who his commanding
F: No, but it's probably in there.
R: Yes, we'll have to look.
F: I've read it, but I don't remember all these things. I know he
fought up to Virginia. Then he had frozen feet, and that's why
they dismissed him to go home. He had to get home the best way he
could, so I don't know how he got home. None of us know. But he
did get home and in the mean time, he had nine children already.
There was another one born after he got home. He died, his wife
died, and that baby all died within two weeks time.
R: My goodness.
F: So that's how my father's father came along. He was orphaned at
nine years old. He was nine when his father died.
R: Suppose you tell us about the kind of school you went to.
F: A one-room schoolhouse.
R: It was heated by a wood stove?
F: Yes, ma'am. Sometimes a two-room schoolhouse.
R: About how many children would be there on the average?
F: In the two-room schoolhouse it was probably fifty children and two
R:. Two teachers, but you started out with one teacher. Tell me
how one teacher could teach all the different ages in a one-
F: The only thing we learned in those days was reading and writing
and arithmetic. She had a class where we'd all learn the abcs.
Then we had a class for those that were in arithmetic, another,
spelling. We had spelling bee's every week.
R: Did you sit on benches, or did you have desks?
F: Both, I've done both. But we used to have spelling bee's every
R: I'll bet you were good at that.
F: I was but I can't spell at all now. I was good when I was growing
up. I was good at a lot of things that I can't do now.
R: They taught penmanship, too, didn't they?
F: Yes, they did. We had books, and then she'd give us examples.
This was the kind of thing we had to do.
R: That noise you hear in the background is Mrs. Frazier writing on
F: That's the way we learned how to write.
R: So your generation has much better handwriting than the present
generation, I'm sure.
F: I don't know about that. But I do know that where I work, there
are some college students-a lot of them work there-that I can't
read what they write.
R: Living on a North Carolina farm, did you pretty much raise
everything that you ate?
F: Yes, ma'am, we sure did.
R: You had a milk cow?
F: We had cows, we had hogs, we had the milk and butter, and we had
the hogs. We grew all the vegetables that, practically, we ate.
R: Tobacco was the cash crop?
F: Tobacco and cotton. We had cotton, too.
R: Was that the light kind of tobacco or the dark?
F: It was the light, barn cured.
R: They made the cigarettes from, right? Did your father smoke
a pipe, or did he smoke the cigarettes?
F: I don't believe I ever knew anything about cigarettes while I
was growing up until I got grown. Then people used to roll
them themselves and very few people could buy them. They bought
tobacco in a little bag, about a six-inch long bag, and they
had papers with it.
R: I remember those.
F: They'd roll their own cigarettes. But my daddy never smoked
them as far as I know. He used to smoke a corncob pipe that he
R: My first husband used to roll his own. He had a little little
tiny machine that rolled them, because they were much cheaper that
way. He smoked cigarettes all of his life, and it finally killed
him with emphysema. We didn't know in those days that cigarettes
were so very harmful to the lungs, did we?
F: No, we didn't. People lots of times talk about smoking now. I
say when I was coming up, it was disgraceful for a girl to smoke.
R: Yes, indeed. Even when I was coming up, and I'm seventy-two,
a little younger than you, it was disgraceful.
F: So I never did it then. After I got older, I figured, that costs
money, why should I spend that money when I can use it for something
different and better.
R: Weren't we lucky that we never started?
F: I never smoked cigarettes. I wouldn't say I never had one in
my mouth, because my first husband used to smoke. Many times we'd
be riding, and I'd light one for him while he was driving or
something like that, but I never smoked one.
R: This is your first husband?
R: Did it injure his health?
F: He was in World War I, and he had some problems with his
that he died from. I don't really know what.
R: What was his name?
R: You had children by him?
F: No, I did not.
R: Going back to your schooling, you finished at this little school....
F: I didn't finish, I just went to school.
R: Then what happened?
F: I didn't even know what grade the finishing was. I worked,
worked on the farm.
R: You did?
F: Yes, ma'am. I picked cotton many days, and I helped with the
tobacco and did all the things that anybody does on a farm.
R: Do you think that made you a very strong person?
F: I don't think it hurt me any.
R: It didn't hurt you. You were out in the fresh air and the sunshine.
F: During the first war we'd say: my father had only one son to help,
so the girls had to work.
R: You helped with the animals?
F: I milked;the cow.
R: You did? And got the eggs in?
F: Not all the time, I didn't, but there were times when I did.
Most of the time I milked the cow, though. That was my chore.
We each had chores to do. Some had to bring in stove wood. You
had to cook on a wood stove with firewood.
R: How many children were in the household most of the time while
you were growing up?
F: They came along while I was growing up. Seven of them....
R: You were the eldest girl?
F: No, I wasn't the eldest. My older sister died. But she
married at fourteen.
R: Did she really? So then you became the eldest girl?
R: You helped her bring up the children.
F: Yes, I did.
R: You were sort of a substitute momma?
F: To her children and to my sister's children, too. My
was in the hospital one time, and I kept her daughter
long that the child started calling me Momma.
R: My goodness. You have had a very long career working
occupations, haven't you?
for her so
F: Uh huh.
R: So you're what we might call a real career woman.
F: There's a lady on a ranch here calls me a worker horse.
R: You're still working. That's wonderful. How did you happen to
leave North Carolina?
F: I had gotten up to where I was nineteen years old. It was after
the war was over. My brother was back from the war....
R: This is the First World War?
F: Yes, World War I. My two sisters, my step-sister and my twin
sister, had both married and left home. I was very lonely there,
and it wasn't too pleasant for me. So I just left and I went to
R: Where your twin sister was?
F: No, she wasn't in Richmond. I just went to Richmond because I
had heard that there were places that girls could board and get
a job. In those days they did have boarding houses for girls
away from home.
R: How old were you then?
F: About nineteen, I think.
R: That took a lot of courage, didn't it? But girls that age tend
to have a lot of spunk.
F: I did have. Then we had a neighbor that thought that I was
being imposed on quite a bit at home. They gave me twenty dollars
and took me to Raleigh to catch the train. I went and nobody knew
it at home that I was going.
R: In other words, you just kind of eloped by yourself?
F: I just sort of ran away.
R: That was exciting, wasn't it?
F: I got into Richmond on a Saturday morning.
R: Was it scary?
F: I didn't know one street from the other. I stayed in the railroad
station for hours trying to figure out which way to go. Finally
I decided I would go to the Red Cross and ask her to send me to a
.boarding house. She sent me to a branch of the Y.W.C.A. There
were twenty-seven girls boarding there.
R: Thank goodness for the Red Cross and the Y.W.C.A.
F: The next morning I went out to look for a job, and I did get a
R: Where was that?
F: I got a job down at a tobacco factory, but I didn't stay there too
long, I went to work then in a--oh, I worked several places.
R: Department store, maybe?
F: No, I didn't work in a department store. I worked for a lady that
ran a tea room for a while. Her husband had diabetes and she wanted
me to stay there to keep him from eating things that he shouldn't
F: I worked there for a while, and then I went back to the tobacco
factory and worked. I got sick.
R: Was it hard on your health to work in a tobacco factory?
F: No, that wasn't it. It came from things that had happened to
me before I went there. The doctor said it was the strain on
me. I'd done some hard work on the farm.
R: Hard, outdoor work..
F: I had surgery then for adhesions.
R: You had some female trouble?
F: Adhesions. I was in the hospital for several months.
R: My goodness.
F: In the meantime this young man that I knew and had been seeing a
lot of wanted me to marry him. After I came out of the hospital
in November or,something like this, we got married in December.
We went to Minnesota to live, but he was from Wisconsin. He had
a sister living in Minneapolis, and he could get a job in Minneapolis.
So we went out there and he worked.
R: What year was that?
F: About 1921, I think. I worked in a laundry where his sister worked.
That's where I started to sew.
R: How did that happen?
F: I went in and the man said the only job he had was somebody to
use the sewing machine. I said, "Well, I can use a sewing machine."
He said, "You ever worked on an electric machine?" I said, "Let me
see it and I'll try it." So I sat down and went to work. The
laundry that I worked in had lots of doctor's coats and things like
that they'd always mend and had holes in them and snagged places
and so on. This was more or less a darning job.
R: But you had to do it on the machine?
F: Yes. We stayed out there a year, I believe. I didn't like it out
there because it was so cold. So I wanted to come back and I came
R: With your husband?
F: I didn't come back with him. He came back after I did. Well, later.
But I came back to Richmond. I saw an ad in the paper. Somebody
wanted a tailor to sew for them. So I went, got that job, and worked
as a tailor. Then I started to work for the custom tailors that
made clothes for professional people mostly, and even for the
governor of Virginia.
R: They didn't have any labor unions in the South in those days
for such workers. Did they begin to have labor unions?
F: I never knew about them if they did.
R: So you didn't have any pension plan or any hospital insurance or....
F: None of that.
R: None of those fringe benefits.
F: I worked with one man until 1941, I believe it was. A lady from
my church told me there was a job open in Miller and Rhodes if I
wanted it. I said, "I do, becaues here I'd work for the rest of
my life and I'd have nothing." But here I do have.
R: Was that...?
F: That's a department store.
R: In Richmond?
F: Yes. Miller and Rhodes. It's a huge store and now it has branches
in several cities around.
R: They did have a pension system?
F: They had everything. They had insurance, they had pensions, they
had all the nice things that anybody wanted. So I went to work
R: This was just about the time that the Second World War broke out.
Then your husband....
F: So I worked there till I came to Florida.
R: Your husband went off to war?
F: He died in the meantime. He was buried in Richmond.
R: You had no children by him?
R: So then you decided to come to Florida.
F: I married Mr. Frazier. He was in Florida. He was down here. I
didn't want to come.
R: Where did you meet Mr. Frazier?
F: We'd known each other. Our families had known each other all
our lives. He grew up in the same town that my brother did in
R: Oxford, North Carolina. Did he come from a very large family,
F: How many is in your family, seven or eight, isn't it? [to Mr.
R: Seven children. There were three boys and four girls. Yes, I
see now. How many are still living? Four still living, uh huh.
In those days people really had big families, didn't they?
F: Yes, they did. It was just sort of a tradition that when they got
married, they just had children.
R: I guess the family itself was the social security system for all
those years before we had any social security system.
F: My father had the theory--and I think a lot of people did along
in those days--that [when] the children grew up, they were supposed
to take care of the parents, and they did.
F: They did do it. But now they put them in a home.
R: It's so sad. The homes are not very good, no. I like the old
system better. It was kind of hard on those younger ones, but
it worked, didn't it? It was so much easier on the old people.
I see in front of me a very charming picture of you, your
twin sister, and your step-sister. How many step-sisters are in
F: I think there's four.
R: Four step-sisters and three step-brothers, right?
R: This picture was taken about the year...?
F: About two years ago.
R: Where was this family reunion held?
F: In North Carolina, in the same county, but it was held at a club.
I can't tell you the name of the club to save my life.
R: Now we come to the point where you're living in...
R: ...Florida with Mr. Frazier. Mr. Frazier is a tobacco farmer.
Then you had some children by him, right?
R: No, you didn't? So then having been a career woman all your
life, you continued to work on the farm. When did you get the
job in Gainesville?
F: I helped him with the farm when we first came down here. The
first job I had I think it was with Medicare. Do you know Grace
R: Yes, indeed. Wonderful woman.
F: She can tell you about me.
R: You're supposed to tell us about you.
F: She was the head of the pilot program when they surveyed the
R: We're talking about Mrs. Sidney Knight.
F: I went over and asked for a job. She gave it to me, and I
surveyed all of this area: High Springs, Alachua, La Crosse, all
the land in here.
R: What organization made that survey?
F: I guess it was the government.
R: The government.
F: As far as I know, it was the government. She was the head of it.
She sort of organized this and gave us territories to cover.
R: About what year was...?
F: Seventeen people worked. They paid us so much a mile for the gas
R: This was not the census, was it?
F: No, we surveyed for Medicare. There was no Medicare before this.
They were surveying the people to see how many older people there
were that had never paid in Social Security. Medicare was to be
for those on Social Security only.
R: How did they manage to include them in the Medicare? Didn't
they have to pay something to get on it?
F: Yes. You have to pay even now.
R: I mean, they had never earned their Social Security, but they
were allowed to come in to Medicare by paying a fee?
F: First there was a lot of people didn't get any Social Security.
If they didn't get any Social Security, they didn't get any
Medicare. But there was a lot of people on Social Security who
were afraid of this Medicare business. I found a lot of them
that wouldn't sign up for it because they were afraid of it.
They thought there was a catch in it some way. But most of the
ones that signed in this county were black. But there were a lot
of white ones that did 'cause they saw it coming and knew that
if you didn't do it, you wouldn't get anything.
R: Did you persuade some of the people to go ahead and join it?
F: I didn't persuade them. I just presented the program, and I said,
"Now, it's up to you. You can if you want to." A friend of mine,
lived right there close to me, she said, "No, sir, I'm not going
to do it. I belong to Red Cross [sic], and Red Cross is going to
pay my bills. I'm not going to do anything." As soon as Medicare
came out, Red Cross cancelled her policy. When that began to
happen, then everybody began to call in and wanted Medicare.
R: You're not talking about Blue Cross and Blue Shield?
F: Blue Cross, yes I am. They cancelled everybody that was old
enough for Medicare because they could get Medicare. Then they
just gave them a supplementary policy.
R: So then they were forced to go on Medicare.
F: They were forced to or else.
F: Blue Cross cancelled. So I worked in that program until we got
it going. Then I was without a job. I wanted to do something,
and I wasn't happy just being home doing nothing. So I saw an
ad in the paper from Belk Lindsey. I went over there and I
thought, "Well, I'm not going to stay here long," because when
Obie would get through with his tobacco--you know, tobacco is a
seasonal crop, down here anyway--he'd go back up the country and
work on the market, buy and lease there.
R: The town of Alachua has always been a big tobacco market, hasn't
it? The warehouse.
F: Yes, it's a market. I don't know how big, but it's a market. So
I'd go back up there and visit around with the family while he
was on the market. That's why I quit several jobs that I had. I
worked one time for Singer Sewing Machine Company for about six or
R: Demonstrating their models?
F: Yeah, demonstrating. I taught a sewing class one time. Then I
worked at Wilson's.
R: I seem to recall when you worked at Wilson's. You seem so familiar
to me, yes. I used to go to Wilson's sometimes and get clothes
F: I never worked in alterations. I sewed.
R: You sewed.
F: A sewing position--I worked for Norma Chestnut, who's dead now--
in the lingerie department.
R: Wilson's was such a nice store, it was really the best store we
had in those days.
F: Yes, I used to say it was a miniature of Miller and Rhodes.
F: Miller and Rhodes was a very high class store.
R: I miss the old Wilson's.
F: They have a pretty good store now in the mall.
R: They do. How would you compare the Wilson's in the Oaks Mall now
with Belk Lindsey? I still go to the old Belk Lindsey in the old
Gainesville Shopping Center.
F: It's nearer?
R: It's much nearer to me, and I'm more familiar with it.
F: But Wilson's compared to Belk Lindsey? I don't hardly think there's
R: You think Belk Lindsey is better?
F: Yes, ma'am. Belk Lindsey, I believe, does the biggest business
of any store in that mall unless it's Penney's. I don't know how
to compare it with Penney's.
R: There was a lot of controversy about building that mall.
F: Now they're going to build another one in addition to this
right in back of it, they claim.
R: I don't know how the traffic problem is on the west side of the
mall, but certainly going east into Gainesville, the traffic jams
are pretty bad at certain hours.
F: I know. Yesterday afternoon when I was coming home, the traffic
R: It's terrific in this direction, too. Is that because of so many
people who work in the stores in the mall actually live in Newberry
F: There's four or five from Alachua that work in the mall. I don't
know anybody from Newberry, but I do know a couple from Archer, a
lady that works in monogramming and helps me, too.
R: Would it be possible for you to get into a car pool?
F: No, because our schedules are so entirely different. There's two
ladies here that I know that they go to work early in the morning,
sometimes as early as 7:30 a.m. because they work in the office.
They have to get out invoices and a whole lot of things they have
to do before the store opens. Then there's somebody else that sells
in a different department don't go till noon and works till 9:00 at
night, those kind of schedules. I usually leave here about 8:00 in
the morning, and I'm there before 7:30.
R: You're there until what?
F: I'm there before 8:30, I mean.
R: About what time do you leave?
F: At 4:00.
R: Then it takes you how long to get home?
F: About twenty minutes.
R: Unless there is too much traffic.
F: Unless there's a lot of traffic.
R: But you come home before the worst of the traffic, don't you?
F: Yes, I do most of the time, butssometimes at that time of day
there's just as much traffic as there is later. I don't know
why it is, unless people shop early.
R: Where do you eat your lunch?
F: I take a lunch with me and we have a lounge.
R: Do they treat you pretty good there?
F: Yes, I think Belk Lindsey's has some of the nicest people
working there of any store I've ever worked in.
R: That's good to hear.
F: They have nice Christian people almost all over that store.
R: Is that right?
F: There's a few that you don't agree with. They have every kind of
people there. They've got Mormons, and they've got Catholics, and
they've got all kinds, but all of them seem to be nice.
R: Do you feel that the sewing work that you do is easier that waiting
on the customers?
F: It would be easier for me because I don't think I could stand on
my feet all those hours. I have worked as a salesperson, and I
enjoyed it when I did. I worked at Wilson's as a salesperson.
R: Are you the only alteration lady?
F: No, ma'am, we have three. One lady's really hired to do monograms,
but when she isn't monogramming, she helps with alterations.
R: I read in the paper recently that some woman somewhere is suing a
department store because they're charging women for the alterations
whereas they give the alterations to men in the men's department
free. How do you feel about that? Do you think that the alterations
for women should be free if the alterations for men are free?
F: Yes, I feel that one is entitled to it if the other one is. I
think Belks does it. As far as I know they do. But I think there
are some alterations that ought to be charged for because customers
come in and demand things from us that is really not an alteration.
It's more than just an alteration.
R: Remaking the dress practically.
F: Yes, or the suit.
R: Or the suit, which is quite a job.
F: For instance, there are people who come in with a low shoulder.
You've got to put in a shoulder pad. They have a wrinkle in the
neck and you've got to lower collars. Those kind of things I
think should be paid for.
R: That's very tricky work, isn't it?
F: Yes, it is.
R: Yes, fitting.
F: It's not harder work, but it's tricky as you say. It consumes
R: You must have had very extensive experience in the great differences
in the way people are shaped.
F: I have. I had a man come in a year ago, I guess it was, wanted
to go to his daughter's wedding or his son's wedding. He'd been
in an accident and had broke a shoulder. He had no shoulder. They
built him some kind of a silver plate or something. I built his
shoulder up in the suit, filled up his suit, and he was really
happy for it. Then I had a lady come in with a child that was
abnormal. He was short and fat, and he couldn't wear children's
clothes. He had to have a man's suit, and I made that to fit him.
She was most happy. I had to cut the coat off at the bottom, and
shorten it for him and a lot of things that, that everybody don't
R: People certainly come in various sizes and shapes, don't they?
F: Yes, they do. Almost everybody has some kind of a problem.
R: That's a beautiful diamond ring you're wearing. Have you had that
a long time?
F: Mr. Frazier gave me this before we were married.
R: That is just lovely.
F: Thank you.
R: You're not afraid to wear it to work at Belk Lindsey?
F: I have been, but I figured that if you can't enjoy it and wear
it, you might as well not have it.
R: That's right.
F: So I put it back on. But while I was in the hospital, so many
people were having things stolen from their homes, I had it put
in a box at the bank. I put my watch and my rings and everything
R: Tell us a little bit about what it's like to live here in this
small community of Alachua. About how big is Alachua now?
F: I don't know what the population is. I would imagine maybe 1200
or something like that.
R: What sort of churches do they have, the denominations here, and
which one do you belong to?
F: I belong to the Baptist church.
R: Is it the biggest?
F: It's the biggest one.
R: It's usually the biggest one in the southern town, isn't it?
F: And they have a Methodist church. A section over there that I
don't know about but I hear once in a while that there is one over
R: These are all white churches. Of course youhave some black
F: There are three or four black churches, but I can't tell you too
much about them. There's one they call St. Matthew's that I see.
It's on the side of [U.S. Highway] 441 over there. There's another
one up on Church Street. That's the street over here.
R: Are there any Jewish people in Alachua that you know of?
F: Well, the Wershows were here. I guess they still are.
R: The Wershows, a very prominent county family.
F: I think they live here. They did live here.
R: They probably were affiliated with the synagogue in Gainesville.
F: I know that Mrs. Wershow taught a book at the woman's club one
time. What was it? The Exodus or something like that. The book
about the Jews. She taught that book.
R: The woman's club is very active here, right?
F: Oh, yes. I was a member of it until I got so busy and never
could go, so I just withdrew.
R: What other organizations do you have here?
F: I'm an Eastern Star.
R: An active member of the Eastern Star?
F: I wouldn't say too active. I have been, but I'm not as active
any more 'cause I've had so much sickness in the last year or
R: Is that because Mr. Frazier is a Mason?
R: Does your husband have to be a Mason for you to be an Eastern
F: Either your husband, your brother, your father, or your grandfather,
or son has to belong. You have to be Mason connected some way.
But it doesn't necessarily have to be your husband.
R: I suppose your church has a women's missionary society?
F: Yes, ma'am. We have everything there is to have.
R: Do you and your husband go to Sunday school and church?
F: I do. He doesn't go to church anymore at all, because he isn't
R: His health?
F: We've just gotten a new van at church that holds fifteen people.
R: Yes, you went somewhere yesterday in the Van.
F: Yesterday, to Palatka, to that park over there. Have you been?
R: To Palatka to the park? That's not....
F: That park over there. I don't know if it's a state park or
national park, but it's a beautiful place. I never knew it was.
R: I've been to the azalea gardens over at Palatka. Maybe that
was the Osceola National Forest? No, that's not it. Maybe it's
a state park over there in Palatka.
F: It could be because the pastor mentioned--he was raised in
R: What a beautiful day you had to go. I believe that was Thursday,
R: Two days ago.
F: It rained until we got to Palatka, and then it cleared up a little.
But when we went out to the park and were walking through the
gardens there, we walked so many steps that I was so stiff yesterday
that I couldn't hardly go.
R: Because you're used to a sit down job.
F: The woods and the azaleas were out of this world.
R: People in Gainesville say that the azaleas have never been so
F: These by my porch haven't bloomed yet. I can't understand it.
Everybody else's, you see over there, have.
R: I think it depends upon how much sun they've gotten, whether
they're early or late. But some of those big old trees in
Gainesville are so beautiful. People say that this is the prettiest
they've every been. I don't know just why we had a long period of
cold this winter. Maybe they liked that, maybe that makes them
F: I don't know.
R: Very pretty. You remember when we thought the azaleas had been
hurt by that sudden freeze we had. No such thing, they're right
out, they're just gorgeous now, aren't they? Well, we're lucky
to live in this....
F: The azaleas over there in that park and the dogwoods down in the
ravines-it looked like, I asked if it was a sinkhole.
R: You're speaking of Ravine Gardens. That's a gorgeous place.
F: They were so dogwooded down in the bottom of that. It looked like
you were just seeing the top of them, driving around.
R: Just a lake of white, I suppose.
F: Uh huh, and azaleas all mixed in. It's a beautiful park.
R: Do you often go on church picnics and church trips?
F: We'd just gotten the van, and the pastor said, "Well, the
senior citizens ought to initiate it with the first ride."
So that's the first trip we've had.
R: Tell us about your pastor. What's his name?
F: His name is Neal Sherouse, and he's great.
R: Is he a young man?
F: Yes, he's a young man. He is about thirty years old. I think
he's had his thirtieth birthday since he's been here. He took
a little over a year now.
R: I'd love to hear him preach.
F: He's a good preacher. He has a master's degree in music, his
wife has a master's degree in music, and they sing beautifully.
R: Didn't Preacher Gordon used to come out here when he retired in
Gainesville from the First Presbyterian Church and have the
Presbyterian Church here?
F: I think he did a long time ago, but I never knew Gordon.
R: He's been dead for some years. He had a long...
F: I've heard a lot about him.
R: ...long career as the minister of the First Presbyterian Church
in Gainesville. After he retired, he came out here to Alachua.
Some of his parishoners loved him so much that they used to come
out here to hear him. I came out here with a neighbor of mine....
F: Dr. Hale was here, and he was wonderful.
R: Then Dr. Hale followed him, and he was a wonderful preacher.
F: I read in the paper where Dr. Hale was going to Louisiana.
R: But he's remarried now.
F: Dr. Hale is?
R: Yes, he's remarried. He married a niece of Dr. Gordon. He was
so fond of Dr. Gordon.
F: Wasn't he married before?
R: His first wife died some years ago--I forget how many-and he
was a widower. I think it was while he was a widower that he
came here to preach. Then he went to Ocala to preach, I believe,
and since then he remarried just maybe a year or two ago. I just
barely have met his wife, and they....
F: I thought he was married when he was out here.
R: I think they now live in this big real estate development on the
way to Gainesville.
F: Turkey Creek?
R: I think they live in Turkey Creek.
F: They bought that house of the Feelans on [U.S. Highway] 441, up
on the hill there, where that other church is. He thought that
they were going to move the Presbyterian church out there, and he
found out they didn't have enough money to do-it. I don't know
how true it is. But he gave a reading at Christmas time in our
church about two or three years ago, I guess it was, when all the
churches came together to hear him.
R: I bet he gave Dickens's Christmas Carol.
F: Yes, he did.
R: He used to give that every Christmas season, at the Sigma Nu house.
I heard him several times. He was wonderful.
F: Yes. We had a big houseful that night he gave it. But our churches
here sort of cooperated. We had the Thanksgiving service together,
and sometimes we have Easter Cantata together, and things like
that. But we haven't since Neal's been here because he sings so
well, and .our choir has grown so. They have music choir, and the
young people's choir, and adult choirs, and everything now because
both of them sing and both of them are so musical. He teaches some
people too, I think.
R: That was one of the things I remember vividly about Preacher Gordon
when I heard him out here in Alachua. In his later years, after he
retired in Gainesville, he knew the Presbyterian hymn book so
much by memory that he never looked at the words when he led the
singing. He just knew them by heart. It's wonderful to have a
memory like that when you're old.
F: Yes, it is. I wish mine was.
R: I wish mine was,too.
F: One of my problems is my forgettery.
R: This happens to us.
F: I cannot remember names to save my life.
R: I know it. It's kind of embarrassing sometimes.
F: Usually we go. up every year [to see my sister]. But this year,
he's not able to ride, so I don't know if we'll get to go or
R: Maybe she can come down here. Thank you so much.
F: She came down for my birthday when we had the party at church,
and she was down here last year, too.
R: That's nice. It's nice to have a sister that you can talk to on
the telephone. I have one. I don't know what I'd do without her.
I'm lucky in that she's seven years younger than I am, so she's
F: My twin and I are the only ones of my mother's children that are
R: So there's a double bond between you.
F: Yes, there is. We're a pretty close.
R: Well, thank you so much.