Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Materials and methods
 Biographical sketch

Title: Judge Benjamin M. Tench, Jr.
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00024774/00001
 Material Information
Title: Judge Benjamin M. Tench, Jr.
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Steigner, Nancy ( Interviewer )
Tench, Benjamin M. Jr. ( Interviewee )
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: August 6, 1986
Copyright Date: 1986
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00024774
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
    Title Page
        Page A-i
    Table of Contents
        Page A-ii
        Page A-iii
        Page A-iv
        Page A-1
        Page A-2
    Materials and methods
        Page A-3
        Page A-4
        Page A-5
        Page A-6
        Page A-7
        Page B-i
        Page B-1
        Page B-2
        Page B-3
        Page B-4
        Page B-5
        Page B-6
        Page B-7
        Page B-8
        Page B-9
        Page B-10
        Page B-11
        Page B-12
        Page B-13
        Page B-14
        Page B-15
        Page B-16
        Page B-17
        Page B-18
        Page B-19
        Page B-20
    Biographical sketch
        Page B-21
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
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be

For all other permissions and requests, contact the
the University of Florida

Discovering Oral History
Nancy Steigner

Dr. Samuel Proctor
Oral History Project
Florida State Museum
University of Florida
August 6, 1986


I. Preliminaries

A. Acknowledgements

B. Abstract

II. Introduction

A. Reason for Research

B. Definition

C. History

III. Materials & Methods

A. Research

B. Arranging Interview

C. Recording

D. Editing

'E. Final entry

IV. Discussion

V. End Sections

A. Figures

1. Oral History Processing Flowchart

2, Copyright release form

3. Index card

4. Log sheet

5. Contact letter

B. Example-Transcript and Audit-Edit

C. Example-Final Draft

D. Bibliography

VI. Biographical Sketch


I would like to thank Dr. Proctor for opening his lab

and letting me in to experience oral history and its process

this summer.

Also, I would like to give my thanks to the people in the

oral history office who have helped me feel welcomed and their

support and the comic relief that we had in the office.

I would especially like to express my graditude to

Roberta Young. Because without her this research paper would

never have gotten started. Her help allowed me to realize

the things that needed to be done.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Elizabeth F. Abbott

and the whole entire Student Science Training Program faculty

for all their efforts and support and for the starting of the


Nancy Steigner


This study has attempted to capture some useful information

about the life of Judge Benjamin Montmorency Tench, Jr.

After doing some back ground research, an interview was set up

with Judge Tench. This was done through a formal letter and a phone

call. Once the interview was completed the copy release form was

signed. Then, the tape was transcribed into a dialogue form.

The transcript was then placed through an audit-edit. The interviewer

went to Judge Tench, at that point, to check for errors. A final edit

was conducted and then the final draft was typed. Once the final draft

is typed it is proofread for typograDhical errors. These errors are

corrected ana another check for typographical errors is made. An

abstract is written to summarize the interview. Now, the interview

is stored in the archives to be used by researchers.

In conclusion, I was able to go through the oral history process,

learn about Judge Tench's family background, schooling, beginnings

in law, his children, and some of his experiences.


Oral history is the collecting of information through interviews

that have been pre-planned to allow the interviewee to reminisce.

The process used is very similar to the scientific method. Oral

historians gather background information on their subjects. They

use a tape recorder as their apparstus to collect data. They do

their "experimenting" by interviewing subjects in their lab -

the world.

History is put together by the preserved documents and the usage

of human imagination and sympathy. (Hoopes) Oral history puts

together one of the harder documents for us. The documents that have

their origins from speech and ideas or attitudes that people create.

"While the individual recording are some times fragmentary

and highly personal. Taken together they provide a fund, of color,

detail, and incident invaluable for future historical research."

(Baum) For this reason the topics covered are very broad. Each

oral historian tries to save a piece of a jigsaw puzzel that is

created as time passes.

With the increase in technology, society travels at a faster rate.

For instance, during the colonial period transactions were made

through letters, and it was common that each individual kept

a descriptive diary. Yet, in our time we use telephones and

have no use or time with diaries. Therefore, our history is

being lost rapidly each day.

The simplicity of oral history allows us to gather information

quickly and rather accurately. This procedure, also, allows those

who are incapable of writing to just "tell" us their story.


The University of Florida Oral History Archives is the largest

inthe Southeast. The archives has a collection with over 2,500

interviews. The tapes cover thirty-five projects that range from

Indian history to the Law: College if University of Florida to nne

of the Florida county projects.

The archives got its start in 1967, under Dr. Samuel Proctor,

Distinguished Professor of History. A grant was given by tobacco

heiress Doris Duke. Doris Duke had given several grants to

universities to do extensive research on Indian history. So,

the project was brought to a start.


An oral history interview starts with the researcher doing

background information on the interviewee. One can do this

by obtaining a personal vitae, contacting associates, and

studying that event or era.

Once the background information is found, an interview must be

scheduled. This can be done by contacting that person through a

formal letter or by phone. The original contact should be followed

by a phone call. An interview should be scheduled at the convenience

of the interviewee. This will help you to get a rood interview.

The actual interview should take place in a comfortable setting

with little distractions as possible.

An oral historian pre-plans the interview. The background

information is used as a skeleton of the interview. He makes

sure that all the equipment is working and is familiar with the

operation of the equipment. A good oral historian, also. knows

that any thing could happen. Therefore, fresh batteries. .n

extension cord, and extra tapes are taken with them to the


The tape that is used -a very important. It should be a

high quality, low density tape. The tape should be sixty

minutes and may be as long as ninety minutes, but anything

longer would be to fragile.

Setting up for an interview is important, also. This

stage can determine the outcome of your interview. During this

the interviewer should seem professional and confident, but

must also gain the trust of their interviewee. This could

be done by telling the interviewee what is going to be done

and small talk can also help. The recorder should be placed


a question. If the right information is not found, then

there is a blank left. This blank will be filled in the audit-


Once the transcript is written there is an audit-edit process.

An audit-edit is when a person listens to the tape and reads the

transcript to fill in blanks and check punctuation and sentence

structure. The most important job of the editor is to make sure that

the dialogue flows smoothly without changing its authenticity.

After the audit-edit is completed the transcript is looked

over by the interviewer to see if blanks could be filled. This

was skipped in this case because the interviewer did both the

transcribing and audit-edit.

Normally, a copy of the transcript is sent to the interviewee

for an edit. But due to the lack of time, the interviewer went

to the interviewee to ask questions. If the transcript is sent, it is

usually back to the oral history lab within four weeks. If the

transcript is lost then a second copy is sent. When the transcript is

returned it is placed through the final edit. If the transcript is

is never returned, then it is placed through a house edit. Then,

it is put in the final edit stage.

The final edit is done by following the guidelines of the

Chicago Manual of Style. The final editor must do the following:

1)' Correcting punctuation and spelling errors.

2) Correcting style errors.

3) Correcting fact errors.

4) Indicating para.graphs.

5) Laying-out format.


equal distance between the interviewer and interviewee. The

recorder should be visible to the interviewer so that he can

watch the tape.

During the interview, the interviewer may wish to keep

notes on what is said and write down any questions that come

up. Note taking can be helpful in the end to ask for spelling

of proper nouns or checking facts. The most important part

of note taking is that it reassures the interviewee that you

are interested in what they have to say.

After the interview is conducted, the legal release form is

signed. (see figure2). The tape is brought back to the oral

history lab where it is duplicated and logged. The tape-is

given an index card which has the following information:

1) Index number.

2) Name of interviewer and interviewee.

3) Date of interview.

4) Place and condition of interview.

5) Number of tapes.

(see figure3)

The original tape is left in an envelope while the duplicate

is used for transcribing.

The transcriber has the responsibility of listening to the

tape through a dictaphone and typing the interview as accurately

as possible, into a dialogue draft. The transcriber is also

responsible for correct spelling, punctuation, anrl must concern

themselves with the names of proper nouns. If there is a doubt

it is up to the transcriber to look it up.in reference or to ask


After the final edit is typed the typist gives it back to the final

editor for another check and corrections are made.

At this point, the interview is completely processed. Before

it can be placed in the archives an abstract is written to provide

a summary of the interview, the transcript is xeroxed, one copy is

sent to the interviewee and another is placed in the archives.



Oral history is a science that preserves our time in

a dialogue form on paper. It is a process that is interesting

and has public appeal. Nowadays, most families are using it as

a way of preserving their heritage. The simple process that it

is allows us to save a lot of history for so little.

This project is an example of an oral history interview.

It follows the process and captures the life of Judge Tench.

Though there seems to be only a little nonsense thing, his

ideas are now on paper and they will remain there for another

to see, and to learn from.

Let it be known, that this project could have been improved

upon if more time was given to do background information so that

the interviewer could have had a better structure to work with.

In conclusion, this project fulfilled the oral historian's

goal, and the results show that which Judge Tench wanted to

express on his family background, schooling, the beginnings of

his law career, his children, and his experiences.





JULY 16, 1986

S: Can you pJease.tell meyyour name?

T: My name is Benjamin Montmorency Tench, Jr. There are some
people who refer to me as Benmont M. Tench, but that is
totally improper. I think Mr. Jess Davis kept putting that
name for both my father and me in his history book and
several people drew to his attention that it was inaccurate,
but nobody could persuade him and tell what he was going to
use, so he used it.

S: Is your middle name a family name? Is there any history to

T: It was my father's middle name. He was named for his Uncle
Benjamin and his Uncle Montmorency, and it was his name.
When he was a very small boy they contracted the two names
and called him Benmont. B-E-N-M-O-N-T. It is not spelled
as two words but as one word. That was his nickname when
he was a boy growing up and that was the name that I used
when I was growing up, and that is also the name which my
son uses professionally. I do not want to say it is a
stage name, it is not a stage name. It is just that he was
called that when he was growing up, so he just used it in
the entertainment business.

S: So, it is just a family name that has been handed down? I
also understand your father used to own a shoe store.

T: He did.

S: Do you remember the name of the shoe store?

T: It was the B. M. Tench Shoe Store.;

S: Did you ever work there?

T: I did indeed. I began when I was ten years old. My father
was a man of considerable financial affluence until the
Florida Boom and the subsequent Depression. He had made a
great deal of money in a fairly unusual fashion. My mother
and I were in Waynesville, North Carolina at the Waynesville
Inn, it might have been called the Waynesville Inn. I remember
that it was a great big rambling three-story or four-story
Victorian-type hotel, which has now been torn down I imagine.
I remember too because everybody had to take a nap from one
to three o'clock, which I thought was a total bore.

S: They made the whole hotel do it?

T: The whole hotel took a nap. Everybody knew that when you
went there that was what you wanted to do. You went there
because that was the way things went on. You must understand
this was in the 1920s and 1930s when there was a different
lifestyle, and it suited everybody who went there to take this


T: siesta. It seemed to go from one to three or twelve to
two, I think it was one to three. Then everybody got up
and there were card parties for the ladies and croquet
parties or whatever was going on, and that weighs heavily
on a little. boy who was nine or ten years old. Anyway,
my mother got a telegram, and of course in the 1930s you
did not use the telephone very much because you sometimes
could not hear what they were trying to say, but she got
a telegram from my father that said come home, Frances,
we are in trouble. We were in trouble financially, and
about all that was left was the one shoe store. So, my mother
had come to Gainesville to be a bookkeeper for Bear Hardware
Company and she was used to work. So, she went out and
started keeping books for the manufacturers and I went down
there and swept up the store on Saturday mornings and clerked
when the time came. My father, who was twenty years older
then my mother, and should not have had to straddle salesman
stoold and sell shoes, nonetheless did. He had one clerk
named Luis Jernigan, and the four of us started rolling back.

S: What was your mother's name?

T: My mother's name was Frances Darby Tench. She was born in
Chester County, South Carolina and was educated at a little
town and a little school called Due West. D-U-E-W-E-S-T,
South Carolina. She was born in Chester County and she had
three living sisters and three living brothers.

S: Is there anything else that you want to tell us about her?

T: Well, she was born in the 1800s, her exact birth year slips
me for a minute, but my mother must have been born in the
1880s. I think my Aunt Helen, her younger sister, was born.
in 1890, and plantations in the deep South at that point
were silf-contained units. Bear in mind that there was no
electricity. No matter how big of a house or how lavish your
lifestyle was, there were still some things that had to be done,
and one of them was cooking over a wooden stove. This was all
right in the winter time but it was hell to pay in the summer
time. My grandfather died very early in life and left the
plantation to my grandmother to run. Like a great many
southern families, particularly because my grandfather died
fairly early, the place became a matriarchy. The boys were
sent away to school and the women ran the plantation.
My grandmother ran the plantation. I have never looked this
up, but I understand that they hand 200 hands in the division
of laborers. My Aunt Annabel, who was the oldest, kept books
on it, and began by helping my grandmother when she was about
fourteen or fifteen, which was pretty young. And her younger
sister, Aunt Mayne, had the responsibility for the health of
the hands, whether they were fiel hands or house hands, and
if Someone would come to her hurt, whe would apply whatever
rudimentary knowledge that she had. You grew up fast under

T: these circumstances. This place was eight or ten miles
from Chester, I do not think Chester even had a hospital.
So, she did the things such as pouring turpentine, filling
gashes, and binding up wounds. All that sort of thing, and
subsequently became on of the first registered nurses in
modern history in South Carolina. She spent her whole life
in Chester County as a registered nurse, and as the senior
nurse in Chester County Hospital. My mother was responsible
for teaching hand wives sewing, housekeeping, and things like
that. She had to go out to the hands' houses on the fields
and teach them to sew, and my Aunt Helen, who was the youngest
of the girls, had the responsibility to take care of the
kitchen and to teach the hands how to cook. These
responsibilities became heavier as the girls got older. The
boys were away at school and my three uncles gradually
took on more, more and more responsibility in these particular
areas, and as a result my mother was never a really good cook,
She used to say that she could never make a pot of coffee
and it was almost true for a very ldng time, but she could
sew beautifully. She was a seamstress of extraordianry
ability. My Aunt Helen, on the other hand, could hardly
put a button on a shirt, but boy, she was the best cook in
southern history. She cooked in a rather old fashion way
and I remember during the Depression my mother used to fuss
about her. Aunt Helen thought nothing about using a dozen
eggs and a pound of butter and just dozens of quarts of milk
and at times that came to a sum of money that made a difference.
That was the way Aunt Helen cooked, and that was available
when she was running the kitchen on a large plantation. It
was great. I have got a lot of recipes for cake, that we had
the past two Sundays, and you can leave that for a week and
it would stay just as moist as the day it was baked.

S: I understand that you are interested in the Civil War.

T: Not particularly.

S: But your family was in it.

T: Yes, my grandfather Tench was a major. This is family tradition
that I am perfectly willing to be corrected on by any sort of
historical evidence. I have never been one of those to pursue
the genealogy back forever and ever. I can tell by family
tradition that my grandfather's grandfather was awarded
a sword by the state of South Carolina for service in the
War 1812. My grandfather was born in north Georgia, just
across the line from Union County, South Carolina. Again, my
father lived on a huge plantation and he was sent, as most
young gentlemen, were, to the University of Virginia, where
he had matriculated at the out break of the War Between the
States. The University of Virginia is a rare and wonderful
place, Jefferson laid it out beautifully. In doing so, he
did it in a fashion where the professors lived in what was
called a pavilion, a two-story, commodeless house. And
under the colonade there would be a series of single rooms

T: with fireplaces and a window in which the students lived.
The theory was that you could get up if it was snowing or
raining and go all the way around and find the Calculus
professor and say I do not understand this. Please explain
it to me. It was what Jefferson referred to as my academical
village. And he was there when the War Between the States
broke out and allegedly left under some cloud. Southerners
did not have valets they called them body servants. They
would take them to the University of Virginia, as everybody
did then, and his body servant, who was black, of course,
was a slave. And these rooms at the University of Virginia
were heated by fireplace then, and so apparently there was a
duel fought over whose body servant had stolen the kindling
from in front of whose door, and either he was the light
and left and went to the Stonewall Jackson brigade, or he
was shown the door and went to join the Stonewall Jackson
brigade. Anyway, he stayed three or four weeks until and
decided this was not the way to fight a war. Then he went
back to Georgia, and he and some others organized the first
Georgia caValry. Now I have never seen it, and I have never
taken the time to go to Baltimore and try to look it up, but
I have always understood that there was an article sometime
after the War Between the States that says that the last
cavalry charge, the Confederate cavalry made was by the first
Georgia cavalry and that it was led by a Major John Walter
Tench. That account I am told appeared in the Baltimore
Sun, I think. I am certainly giving you nothing but family
tradition. And when the war was over all of his family's
property was in that area of Georgia which was destroyed by
the March to the Sea. Major Tench's wife had an uncle in
Gainesville whose name.was James B. Dawkins. Judge Dawkins
signed the Articles of Succession.-. I have a r1ea.ly'fine
facsimile of those articles which carries-his legible signature.
After the war, and again I have not checked, I understand that
he was a Confederate Congressmen. -Then he came back here
after the war and he became a circuit judge. The job I hold
now, and as a matter of fact, I will regress and tell you
that I used to have an unlisted telephone number, and I
still have one here in the office. I have two listed telephone
numbers here in my chambers, but this first number 372-8585,
which was the number I had when I was a lawyer, I had as an
unlisted phone number. So, people would try to find out from
information, and they would be told I am sorry but Judge Tench
has an unlisted number. Well, that is political death, you
cannot do that. So, I called up the telephone company and
said, "Hey, I do not want you to tell them the number that is
for my out phone calls, so that if anything gets ganged up I
can still call out even if Stacey had two people holding out
there for her setting hearings. So, they said I had to list
it in somebody's name, so it is listed uncer James B. Dawkins.
So, if you ever call on the number for James B. Dawkins and
you get an answer you are in trouble, baby. You are in very
bad trouble.

S: So, your grandfather came to Gainesville?

T: They came south to Florida. My father, I think, was six
years ole when they came. He was born in 1870. And I
understand that they left the train in Waldo, which you
still do today. And I think probably Jess Davis talked to
my father about that. His account of the boardwalks and
the lack of paved streets and everything else is probably
much better than mine. But people say it was a primitive
operation. Now in the 1890s, Gainesville was really a
thriving resort town to some extent. There was a musical
comedy star then called Faye Templeton, and she and her
father and mother wintered here. The Cox's Furniture
Company was the opers house. Do you know where Cox's
Furniture Company is? Right catercornered across the street

S: No, I do not know.
( Stepped out of the room to go and look out the window.)
T: So, the second and third floors of Cox's Furniture Company
on the corner of Southeast first Street and Southeast First
Avenue, was the opera house and the Templetons performed
and entertained there. I think that they were Presbyterians
and I have some memory of their having put on some benefit
for the organ at the Presbyterian church. Her family
were devout members of the church. In some fashion or another
they contributed. So, there was not really much for my
grandfather to do. He has two older brothers, my Uncle
James Dawkins Lamar Tench, and his younger brother who was
always called Harry but I think he was christened Henry Tench.
My Uncle Dawkins became a dentist and one of the very early
dental surgeons in this area, but not the first I am sure.
I recall that he died while. I was away at World War II
sometime around 1945. My Uncle Harry went to Tallahassee and
become a rate expert at a utility commission. And early in
middle ages, he died of a heart attack. There was so much
catch as catch can, everybody had to work. And my father
worked packing oranges and that sort of thing, but he did not
get to go beyond fourth grade. He was a man who lost his
hearing, and while the procedure for restoring it would be
simple today, it was not then. He lost his hearing at
a very young age, in his early twenties. The Eustachian tube
which runs from your nasal passages to your ear was clogged.
If he was on a train, he had no difficulty hearing at all,
because the train would shake and that would clear his
Eustachian tube. I am being a complete layman about this so
correct me if I am wrong. He was very hard-headed and he got
his first job selling shoes, which you would not think a man
who was hard of hearing could do because customers would have
to shout. Well, he got the job because the president of the
J. C. Godwin Shoe Company had his office over the boiler room
or the company. Now shoe companies particularly at that point,

T: had great steam engine rooms that ran belts that were two
to three blocks long. It was these machines that made shoes.
Now on the second or third floor the engine room was the
president's office. Well, it shook like a train and for years
and years he never knew that my father was deaf. And my father
went out and worked very hard and played out his territory and
made a great deal of money. I have been told that between
1900 and 1910 when there was no income tax, when a dollar
really bought a dollars worth of something, he was making
$ 25,000 a year. That is a lot.of money and that went down
the tube when the telegram got to Waynesville from Gainesville.
Is this what you want, young lady?

S: Basically, I just want to know whatever you want to talk about.

T: You can interrupt me any time you want to if you want to pursue
another subject.

S: Did you grow up in Gainesville?

T: I was born here.

S: What year?

T: I am a complete Southerner. I was born on a frosty morning
and if you know Dixie well enough, that is a line out of the
second verse. On October 23, 1919. I was born in Mrs. Day
Edward's. It was not a hospital, we did not have a hospital.
I do not think we had a true hospital until sometime in the
late 1920s or early 1930s. That you can check in AGH records.
And I can tell you where the house is. If you get on what I
think is Southwest Ninth Avenue and go east, you come to a
jog and go left and get on Depot Street. To the right across
the railroad tracks is the P. K. Yonge Laboratory School. As
you go you come to a one-story'house with a very hi.gh;roof. -To
the right across those tracks and adjacent to the P. K. Yonge
School, there is a house called Tumbling Creek that was used
sometime back as a place for the Hare Krishnas. I was delivered
by a man named Jay Maxey Dell, Sr., and if you pursue family
names in Gainesville you will find a great many Dells. Almost
all of them have done a credit to themselves and to their
community. I do no know any Dell who has not. The present
senior partner of the largest oldest firm in Gainesville is
Carl Maxey Dell, Jr. He is married to Elizabeth Shands, whose
father was the senator for the new Shands Teaching Hospital.
Maxey Dell, Sr. was a practicing physician that had I think the
first x-ray, and was a radiologist very renown for the
development of that';subdiscipline of medicine. When he was an
old, old man I remember he had to wear white gloves on his
hands because of the radiation burns he had gotten as a young
man. His son, J. Maxey Dell, IIIis a dentist. And J. Maxey
Dell, Sr. was a very old and close friend of my father.

S: So, you went to school here? And then did you go to the

T: I went to kindergarten, grammar school, high school, college,
and one year of law school. And then in the summer of 1940,
before World War II broke out, the army was offering those
who had a reserved commission a chance to go in to the army
for one year only. And if we go and serve our year, we would
never be called up again, unless of course there was a national
emergency. Well, I saluted the adjutant at Fort Sill on
July 21, and I think my orders were dated the eighteenth day
of July. I was given a three-day delay on travel time to get
there. I was already going to school as a second lieutenant
to learn gunnery anddthings that an artillery officer has to
know. And I think I entered on July 21 or 22, the only trouble,
of course, was that the Japanese inconveniently extended my
tour of duty by a considerable number of years.

S: After the war, did you come back andrifinish school?

T: No, by the time the war had been fought, the G. I. Bill was
going and I had saved $ 6,000 and I decided that I wanted to
go to school somewhere other than Gainesville. I had gone
to school here all my life, and that was all I knew. I think
the law school had six law professors, and since my grandfather
had graduated from the University of Virginia, I decided I
would go there. The University of Virginia had and still has
a surperb law school and that is where my law degree is from.
My law degree is from the recommendation of the faculty of the
law department not the .law school.

S: So, what did you do after college?

T: After college I went to the army. I think my mother very
wisely said, I think you need to quit. You go into the
army and get this behind you." They had given me $500 for
a graduation present, and that was a..lot of money. Clearly,
I needed wheels, so they agreed to buy me or give me another
$450. So for $950 I bought a super deluxe Ford convertible.
Gorgeous automobile! Ninety horsepower. Man! It had an
automatic top and a jumpseat in the back seat so really you
could pack six people in it if was raining that hard, but that
made the back seat pretty full. It had a radio, but no air
conditioning. The gear shift was on the steering post not
on the floor. And it had this automatic top that-you could
pull a button and it would go down and push a button and 'it
would go up. It also had the most marvelous invention. It
had a radio which you could set to five different stations.
Then you had to twist the little knob on top of the radio.
But between the brakes and the clutch, if you drive a stick
shift automobile, there was a button that would change stations
so that you could change the music without letting go of the
girl. It was just a magnificent automobile! And it had

T: real leather upholstery and was the top of the line automobile
that Ford Motor Company made for $ 950. I graduated and three
of the men in my fraternity had cars exactly like it. They
were all bought from the Holtsinger Motor Company in Tampa.
Chesty Holtsinger's father was a Ford Motor Company man so he
had one. And Dubbie Maclain had one and Dick Benika, whose
father was the president of the First National Bank in Tampa,
had one. And I got the last one. Mine was dark blue and all
of theirs were light green or light blue or something red
perhaps. Mine was the last one, and I drove it out of the
Holtsinger Ford Motor Company in the rain. /It.broke my heart.
My father had campaigned very hard against getting a convertible,
and when I came home he said it is your decision but it is just
foolish to get a cnavas-topped automobile. In the first place,
you have to keep repairing the canvas. The second thing is
it is not safe. Of course, as a young man my father had made
his money driving all over Georgia, South Carolina, eastern
Alabama, and northern Florida with his driver, Joe Brown, and
in those days they did not have roll up windows. When it rained
you had to get out and put up the eyes and glass curtains, and
if you turned over, you were likely to be crushed, the roads
were nothing like we have now. When I was a boy you did not
have a paved road from here to Jacksonville. It stopped when
you got to be about Starke. And he thought as a matter of
safety and intelligence you ought to buy a car with a hard top
and roll up windows. I drove into the yard and we had runners,
two strips of concrete with grass in between. I drove in so
proud that I could not see straight. My mother was standing
out on the front porch down the steps and I could hear my
father turn and say to her, "My God, Frances, have I sired
a fool?" (Ha! Ha! Ha:) And that is the way he really felt
about it; how could I be so damn dumb to buy a canvas-topped
automobile. Well, thank goodness he improved,his opinion of
me before he died. So, then I got ready to.,gointo the Army.
I had my summer uniforms, which in those days were khaki which
came through my senior year in ROTC. And they included khaki
breeches and boots, and a brown belt. I had a white uniform
for summer wear and a khaki shirt, and that is what I went off
to war in. Of course, when I got to Fort Sill I had to buy
new uniforms and whatever. It really did not make that much
of a difference, I was making $143 a month and I could not
spend any of it. Gasoline on the post was fifteen cents a
gallon. So, I got ready to go and a friend of mine Joe Bill
Rood, who subsequently was a state senator from Manatee County,
I think, and another man named Bill Reed. Both of them were
SAEs and they asked if they could ride out with me, and I said
sure. So, I picked them up around five or five-thirty at the
ATO house. I think the ATO house was over near the Sigma Alpha
Epsilon and Phi Alpha Theta houses. And I think'they were
crashed there that night with somebody's permission I am sure.
You did not do that kind of thing without permission then. I
picked them up at the ATO house right across from Tigert Hall.
Thirteenth Street was two lanes wide and there were huge oak

T: trees in front of the ATO house. I have a very clear
rememberance of having driven west Mosanic, which is now
Southwest Second, Until I got to what was then Ninth, which
is now Thirteenth, and stopping to pick them up and getting
their footlockers stoweda.away andthen we startedloff. .'We
made it to New Orleans by night fall. We were not about
to stop anywhere short of New Orleans. My father gave me
fifty dollars to have in my pocket and that was all the money
I could possibly need.

S: I guess you started practicing law in Gainesville?

T: Yes, you may want to back up and go back to the thirties
before you get there.

S: Okay.

T: In those days, you can check the figures, but I seriously
doubt that there were 12,000 people in Gainesville. At
least forty percent and I think probably more like fifty
percent were black and-outside the mainstream of society.
They were here and they furnished the labor force, but they
were not really here. I sometimes say, "Hell, I grew up
and was thrown into this century," because a great parallel
can be drawn between British India and the deep South in the
1890s and the early part of this century. Things were very,
very stratified in terms of social order. You will find
people who will argue about this and if you are going to
publish what I am saying, then that will get into trouble.
But the Protestant Church was there. I did not know until
I got into high school that I did not know any Catholics.
And Jews were in another strata entirely, and it was not
something that I understood. There was an absolutely beautiful
girl named Marie Browstien. Golly damn, she was a beauty!
Liquid brown eyes and long bl- ck hair. And I wanted a. date
with Marie Browstien so I asked her out. Her father ran a
store on the south side of the square about where Ruddy's
is. R-uddy''s was right next to Cox's Furniture Company. So
I asked her on a date Wednesday or Thursday night. The next
morning her father came over and said to my father that he
wanted to have a very serious conversation. My father, I
think, was about the same age, and Mr. Browstien said, "Now
Ben, your boy asked my girl for a date." And my father said,
"Well, I did not know that," He said, "Well, I want you to
know that my girl does not go out with any goy. (Goy being
the Jewish word for gentile. ) So, he will have to make other
arrangements for Saturday night." I could not have a date
with Marie Browstien. I was not opposed to the idea, it was
simply that a nice Jewish girl was not going to get hooked up
with any goy. You better believe it! ( laughter) Sometimes
I think that what you could call a reverse discrimination
thing is the funniest thing in the whole world.

T: I remember right after the war, I had just started practicing
and I was working for the Florida State Board of Architecture.
I wanted to stay in a particular hotel, the Pan Coast, which
had a particular architectural significance. I called and
asked for reservations and they said they were sorry but they
were full. I knew damn well they were not, it could not be,
it was not the right time of year for them to be full in Miami
Beach. Because Miami Beach was folded up and there was no air
conditioning, and when you have no air conditioning and the
weather is like it is today, you are not going to have anybody
coming to Florida. So, I knew, it was beginning to be an early
summer and they could not have been full. And I said, "You do
not understand, I realize that my first name is Benjamin, but
I am a Presbyterian. And the man said to me as politely as he
could, "We understand that Mr. Tench, but that is the very
problem. This is a restricted hotel, and you are not Jewish."
( Ha! Ha! Ha! ) And so there were what is called a restricted
hotels on the beach then, but they were unrestricted to gentiles.
But I had run into one where they were restricting their trade
to Jews. And I think it is the funniest story I have ever
heard in my life. And they really did. They had three rabbis
on their staff to be certain that all cattle were killed and
the meat was butchered according to kosher custom, and the
chefs all had to prepare kosher food. That really is the way
you stayed there. ( Ha! Hat Ha! ) So, I went to a much less
hotel. ( Ha' Hal Hal ) Because I was a gentile. I think that
is the funniest story I have ever heard. You know the thing
that most people do not realize is a lot of the nostalgia.
Believe me, I do not wish to go back to the good 'ole times,
I could not stand it.

My mother's and father's house was a two-story house.. And
for the three of us, I had a younger brother who was a still
born, and after that my mohter could not have any more
children, so I was an only child. And that is not an easy
life, to be an only child. And with the last name Tench, it
gets you into a lot of trouble, and of course, having a middle
name like Montmorency does not help when you go to school. At
any rate, I had a second storyroom and my bed was in an alcove.
That house is on the corner of what is now Southwest Second
Street and Southwest Second Avenue, Second Place and Southwest
Second Street. Right over there. My room was on the second
floor and there was one windoe to the west, a window on the
south, a window on the north and two other windows on the north.
I would wake up in the middle of the night in the terrible
heat waves in July or August, sleeping only in my shorts. Damn
all these synthetic fabrics, if you ever want to be cool, wear
cotton. And you could outline my body in perspiration, it was
so damn hot. Well, just imagine if there was no relief from
what is out there today. You are in air conditioning and I am
air conditioned at night, and you are air conditioned at night,
but remember at night the temperature does not fall and the
humidity does not go away. Now, it does in New England and in
North Carolina, it does in the mountains, but not in the low
countries. But it does not here, it just does not and the

T: net result was only ladies who felt it was absolutely
imperative wore stockings. That is just absurd. My mother
would never have been seen alive without hers but that is
just absurd. Girls did not wear stockings. However, from
April or May when it started getting hot, until September
or October there was no sense in it. Men wore seersucker suits
and went without their ties. In the 1930s this was a lovely
little town with ten or twelve thousand people in it, all of
whom knew everyone. It had a downtown square, with a glorious
red brick court house. There were street lights with five
bulbs, not just on the corner, but regular so after dinner it
was not unusual for my father and mother since we lived near
the square to get up from the dinner table and shortly decide
that they would walk around the square. They would spend time
walking around the square, window shop, or greet people, it
was a pleasant thing to do. And University Avenue stopped
where the president's mansion is. It did not go past Twenty-
Second Street. Twenty-Third Street, where I live, was not
paved. There was nothing there on the back boundary of my lot.
I live on the east side of Northeast Twenty-Third Street and
is three blocks off University Avenue. It was the west
boundary of Gainesville, after that it was Alachua County.
Nohting was at Thirty-Fourth Street. The country club which
is not a university country club was way out of the boondocks.
The railroad ran straight through the middle of town and a man
would run before it with a red bandana to warn traffic. The
Atlantic Coast Line station used to be where the Atlantic Bank
is now. And where that parking lot is, South Main became
South west Second PLace. You know where the County Building
is over there on Main Street? The commercial hotel? No, you
do not. All right let's go from there. Do you know where the
building I own is? The building I own is? The building called
the Tench Building?

S: No, I do not.

T: Let's go look out that window. (Left to the other room to look
out the window.) Main between Southwest Second Street and
Southwest Second Place was where Mrs. Maggie Thebeaux had a
school for young ladies and the most beautiful gardens you
have ever seen in your life. They were just so lush and overgrown
and there was no formalities. They used to slow the trains
down in the spring and the conductors would go through urging
people to look out the west side of the train to see the
magnificent display of azaleas and dogwood. And the train
would stop at noog, where the Sun Bank is and let people off,
and they would have their lunch at the White House Hotel, which
was located where the Sun Bank is now on North Main. After the
train broke up in Jacksonville and one unit went to Tampa, there
after there was no dining car on this unit going to Tampa.
They stopped at Gainesville and had lunch and everybody liked
it. It was great ffod and a pleasant chance to get out and
stretch their legs, and there were huge oak trees up and down
all the streets. When I was a very young boy almost every
major street in Gainesville had a center plot with trees

T: and azaleas and flowers and they were all somewhat kin to
what is now Northeast First Street. It goes past the Episcopal
Church and up behind Sun Bank and has a center plot with palm
trees in the middle and that sort of thing. Certainly on
West-East University, particularly East University coming from
town, were oak trees on the side and in the center. Then we
had to look like Ft. Lauderdale so we had to take out all the
oak trees. There was no public transportation and if the
University boys wanted to come to town they would stand on the
corner, and they would stand out by the Sigma Alpha Espilon
house and throw their thumb in the air, and the townspeople
would stop and pick them up and bring them downtown with them.
They stand outside the theatre house or the Presbyterian Church,
which was where the Florida National Bank is now, and thumb
their way back. So, there really was not much need for public

S: So, you started practicing law in 1940s?

T: I got out of the University of Virginia and talk about arrogance.
Some people my age like to say that people your age are an
arrogant generation. You do not know what arrogance is. I
graduated from the University of Virginia and took the Virginia
Bar exam for practice. I knew I would come to Florida and take
the Bar exam, so I just took the Virginia Bar exam for practice.
You know you can bust those bloody things. There is no
insurance that you are going to pass a Bar exam and I just took
it for practice. I was so intellectually arrogant I did not
think I could bust a Bar exam. Well, that is the silliest
thing on God's green earth. It scares me to death right now
to think about it. What if I had busted it? Anyhow, I had
a chance to practice with a very large firm and a very
successful firm named Steptoe and Johnson a.nd nobody could
understand why I would not take that damn job. It paid $175
a month, and that was an awful lot of money then. And they
paid my way to go over to their home offices and spend the
night, pay my hotel bill, take a tour of their offices, meet
the senior partners, and all that sort of thing. I turned them
down. I just could not see that. I went back and the dean
had a request from a wonderful law firm in Palm Beach, Wideman,
Woodlaw, and Stewart, and I went there to practice. I stayed
down there for a while until I got there on the Fourth of July
and every single thing was boarded up. Fourth of July 1947,
everything was boarded up. Every hotel room had a fan and that
was the method by which you were supposed to survive. I was
blue as hell. I just did not see how I could live in that
place. They gave me the job and I damn well took it because
it paid $200 a month and that really was a fortune.,for a lawyer
to make at that point. I stayed down there until around
Christmas or just after Christmas and it was not working out.
I wanted to try cases, and they had a very healthy practice
that involved the Prince of Wales and Count Consuela Vanderbilt,
and the Dodges. And while that kind of practice makes you a
great deal of money, it is very dull as far as I am personally

T: concerned. Of course, I should have stayed down there and
made money. So, I came back and r opened my law office on
West Main South. It was at what is now 115 South Main, but
it was something else then. Now Gainesville had two main
streets, both of which ran north and south. One is now called
Northeast First Street and Southeast First Street, which is
right out the window, comes right by Cox's Furniture Company
and runs into what is now the Hippodrome, which was the old
post office. And that was East Main South because it was
south of University Avenue. North of it was East Main North,
but what we now call Main Street was Main North and West Main
South. And my father owned that building, so around the first
of September 1948, I guess I began the practice of law in
Gainesville by myself with a copy of the Florida Statutes, a
copy of Koeman on Equality, Carson, and Crandell on Common
Law Pleading, and I am not sure about Crandell and Reflrearh
on Administration on Will and Estate Affair, a Royal
typewriter that I had bought in 1935 or 1936 for forty dollars
for a special student discount and a ream of paper. I did not
know a bloody thing ( Ha! Hal ) on God's green earth.

S: Do you think the town depends on the university?

T: Oh, sure. We would be just another Lake City or Ocala, we
would not be as well off as Ocala, because Ocala has always
had Silver Springs and Silver Springs was one of the great
attractions in the country literally during the 1930s. If
you stopped at Silver Springs they tied with hemlock twine
a sign on your fr~ant-and.backbbumper ;sqyiing, "'See'iSi 'Ier
Springs" an-d all over the country you would run into people
who had this cardboard thing across the front of their car
and back of their car stretching all the way across their
bumper "See Silver Springs". No, I think Gainesville would
be an interesting place to visit perhaps, but I think that
if we did not have the dymanism, the energy that the university
gives us, I do not think that we would by anywhere near what
we are now. The statistics on what it means ini terms of dollars
and cents to the town you can get from the Chamber of Commerce.
But the things that football teams and basketball teams and
the Florida PLayers, and I did not put these on any particular
order, but I like the Florida Players because it gives it
another flavor entirely. The Homecoming Parade, the Budapest
String Quartet, the cultural things that happen to us here, the
new museum that is going up, the art gallery that is going up.
The Kaufmann family is contributing so much too, I think it is
going to be named after Sam Harn.

S: Just here?

T: There used to be a great argument that we ought to stop giving
them free water. And my father, who at one point was mayor
commissioner, always opposed that. And I always opposed it,
too. They said that it was costing us $60,000 a year, and he
and I always took the position, let it cost us $60,000 a year.
That is the deal we made to persuade them to come here from


T: High Springs. They started in High Springs in about 1910
or 1912. Under the Buckman Act, Gainesville had agreed to
provide them with water and electricity which was not a very
big deal at that point. They came. As far as I am concerned,
if we now pay them half a million dollars a year in water just
get them the bloody water, we should. We would be nothing
without them. I did not want the city to welch on that
contract. And I may say that I am greatly a minority when the
city finally would just not give them the water anymore without
charging them for it. I do not think we should have. We
would not have Shands here, we would not have the Veterans'
Hospital. Oh no, without the university, Gainesville would
just be another north Florida town, I think.

S: I have to think now because you said so many things.

T: Well, you are not limited to this. If you want to go home and
play your tape and start thinking of things you want to ask, I
will be very glad to go through this exercise again. What is
your deadline or when you have to finish it?

S: Because I am with the Florida Foundation, I am only going to
be here until August the ninth. This is my science project
even though it has nothing to do with science.

T: Yes, it has to do with science. I was relieved to find out
that this was a part of that program. Because there is a lot
more in this world than just mixing things up in a test tube
and getting the Challenger off safely. We really want to know
the laws, the lawyers are always talking like this and I think
that is why we always talk about it. We, Americans, have a
very difficult time because we do not know where we have been
and we do not have any tradition that other cultures have.
Cultures meaning not necessarily racial cultures not Indonesian
or Jewish or American Indian culture, but a culture like
English cultures, for example, the Scots culture or French
culture. We do not have that, so we have such little sense of

S: It is also because we are a young country.

T: That is it precisely. But we do not have much inclination to
know where we have been because we think we know where we have
been. The perfect example of that is the hue and cry about
freedom of the press. Well, there was no reporter present at
the Constitutional Convention in 1787. And when it was over,
Dr. Johnson left Independence Hall in Philadelphia and an old
woman said to him, "What have we, Dr. Johnson, a republic or
a monarchy?" And he said, "We have a republic, madame, by the
grace of God." But nobody knew what was going on in that room,
and to this day the only real information that we haveare
Madison's notes and Madison did not take shorthand. So,-we get
all mixed up about what "rights" that we think have existed


T: forever and are buried in the Constitution and those which
have no foundation in history at all. A beautiful example
is that everybody says that we have a right to the private
ballot, the secret ballot. ( Ha! Ha! ) When John Marshall
was elected to Congress from the Richmond District in the
Commonwealth of Virginia, the election official sat in the
middle of a very long table, because the parties were at
each others throats. And women did not vote, blacks did
not vote, unless you had a considerable amount of property
you did not vote. And you marched straight up to him and
said, "My name is Benjamin M. Tench." And he checked you
off, and said, "For whom do you vote?" "I vote for Mister
Marshall." "Mister Marshall's keg of rounds is to the right
you may join him and his friends." And he checked off one
more vote for John Marshall. This right to private ballot
does not exist in terms of history. So, I think it is
terribly important, and I think this is a science. I think
we do need more attention to trying to put together all
these family traditional histories which may or may not have
anything to do with it but which may lead to something which
does throw a light on how we got from there to here. So, if
you have to be through by the ninth, I suggest that you take
your tape and go listen to it and decide whether you want to
continue this. The gaps in here in the fifties that have
not been covered, for example, and some even in the thirties
and forties. Make yourself notes and call Stacey and I will
find a way one way or another to fill the rest of it in for
you if I can, and I can. I realize where you icannotd'o iti
the last thing before the ninth.

S: I understand that you probably get sick of this, but I
understand that your son is in the entertainment business,
and since I have to make, 'to do an:oral presentation and-
most the people know abouf the band, I was just wondering
how you feel about him being in the music business.

T: I will not discuss my son unless I discuss his three fantastic

S: Okay. Tell me about everybody. I want to know about all of
your children.

T: All right. I married a.woman named Mary Catherine McInnis.
M-C-I-N-N-I-S. Now Maginnis is Irish, but McInnis is very
Scottish. And her father owned forty percent of the
Robertson, Patterson, and McInnis Lumber Company which owned
in turn twenty percent of what is now Levy County. And
around 1925, Mr. Patterson andcMr. McInnis came down and
paid four and a half dollars for 132,000 acres of land in
Levy County. Now everybody thinks that I married a very
rich woman, but by the time it got all divided out among
brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and everything
else, it was not a hell of a lot. People say you might
have married a rich woman because that land is worth ten

T: million dollars now. But her father had decided to come to
bring the children. The sheriff for the county appointed him
district sheriff who ran things. And he had the authority to
print his own money. In the Depression it was used as legal
tender as far away as Williston, twenty miles away. Teachers
were being paid in script and you were not sure if it was any
good, but it was a piece of pack mack so they were sure that
money, was good. We were married in 1950 and I have a daughter
who was born in 1951, who is now a partner at Dell, Graham,
Wilcox, Barber, Henderson, Manaco, and Carter. That is the
oldest firm in town. She went to Miss Porter school in
Farmington, Conneticut. From there she went to Sophie
Newcomb, which is really Tulane, where she graduated with honors
and Phi Betta Kappa. Then she came back after she had been
working ing Washington for a while and then found out that when
you have a college degree you do not have very much. With that
and a nickel you can get a half a cup of coffee. So, she came
back here and went to law school and graduated with honors and
became the only clerk that Justice Adkins has ever asked to
repeat. And so, she clerked for two years for Justice Adkins
in the Supreme Court and came back here and is now married and
has two children.

S: Now, what is her name?

T: Her name is Catherine Laughlin Tench-Waldloch. We tried to
give the children names that would work if they wanted to
have a different kind of name or if they wanted to have an
ordinary name. She could be called Cathy or Katie or Cath,
anything that she wanted, but she had elected to be called
Laughlin, which is a Scotch name which is part of Katie's
family names. And Benmont-is. the next child born in 1954.
And he is an amazing young man, a thoroughly amazing young man.
I am intensely proud of him. I have to be very careful what
I say about him because he has to keep an image going. How
public is what I say going to be?

S: Well, this is going to be stored in the archives and if anybody
wants to research your family...

T: I just do not want this on the front page of the Gainesville
Sun, because he does have an image that he has to maintain.
Everyone in the entertainment business does. I started him
with my music teacher. At that point, I was playing the piano.
I was working on a little Beethoven sonata in two movements, a
sonata G, not very good. I came home one afternoon and I heard
it just being ripped off. I wondered who in the hell was
playing the piano. It was my six year old son. So I said wait
a minute, this little boy has got more going for him then I
realized. So, I immediately put him in the hands of Professor
Danberg, the professor of music, and he studied with him until
I went into the Foreign Service in 1962. He studied at the
National Conservatory in Panama where I was in the Foreign

T: Service. And he studied there under Latin Classic teachers
and then he came home, and we spent a year, and he went back
to Professor Danberg to study classics. And after that he
went to Phillip's Exeter Academy of Justice. Splendid
boys boarding school, really super. And there was an old
gentleman they used to call Mr. Hertz, I forgot his exact
name, who used to come up from Boston three times a week to
teach the young gentlmen how to play the piano. I remember
seeing Benmont, who was a rather slight boy, behind this
great nine foot piano in the music building at Exeter that
the Rockerfeller's had given them. This old German standing
beating time with a baton stick. If you play the piano, when
you play triplets, which are three notes played in one beat,
it is very easy if you are not careful for them to gallpp.
As long as I live I will remember this little boy playing
behind this huge piano, gee, it looked like a football field,
and standing over him was this old German saying, "Benjamin,
your are stupid. Your triplets are galloping." ( Hal HA! Ha!)
And he graduated there and then he went to Tulane and he came
home at the end of two years and said, "I just cannot hack it.
I have got to play music." So, he andniTommy I think I am right
in this, I think that Stan Lanche was drumming with Wild Turkey
then. It was another drummer there. Stan is from Gainesville.
The only one of the boys that was not from Gainesville is Howie
Epstien, who is'a base player. Mike Campbell is, Benmont is,
and Stan and Tommy are. Benmont will be the most amazing
contradiction you' can possibly imagine. Last Christmas, he
came home and he had with him a brand new Sony ghetto blaster.
Beautiful thing, it was not about this big, but he said that
he wanted me to hear it. Well, he put it down on the fire
place, which is raised a little by the chair I was sitting in.
Right by my ear, he said that I just had to hear this new
compact disc music. I thought to myself, "Oh, boy. I am going
to get an ear full of it and I will not be able to hear." It
was about eleven-thirty Christmas eve. I will hot be able to
hear for the next week, but I have to do it. He cranked the
thing up and turned it on. He said, "I have been playing it
all the way from L. A. and I can take it apart." So, he showed
me how to take it apart. He threw off the amplifiers and used
it like a Walkman. "And I have been using it just like a
Walkman on the plane. Just listen to this music, listen, really
this sound is beyond anything that we have heard before in
reproduced sound." And I was saying, "Oh, boy. I got to
listen to this." Then he turns it on and all of a sudden
these things came out and (sings the open notes to Beethoven's
sixth symphony) That little boy is thirty years old, at the
peak of his profession as a rock 'n' roll musician, and has
been playing the fifth and sixth symphonies all the way across
the United States. About three or four years ago he was going
to Japan and Australia for six weeks. And do you know what
he took for reading material? I had given him, either for his
birthday or Christmas or something, a hundred and eight page
biography of Peter the Great. That was his reading material.
You just do not expect to see somebody at the top of that

T: Profession taking time out to read...

S: Peter the Great.

T: Massey wrote Alexandra, Nicholas and Alexandra, and then
became interested in and wrote a really beautiful biography
of Peter the Great. I just think the world of him. He has
not let it go to his head. He is just as and he is. We have
a tradition in our family that on Christmas eve around seven
o'clock I have always read, even when Missy, his sister, was
only two months old, I began reading It Was the Night Before
Christmas and the Christmas story from Luke. And she did not
understand a word of it, but I read it anyhow and I have read
it every Christmas since. I want you to know that Benmont will
call up if he can get a line through and say, "I am on the
phone, now. You can read it." That is just great. And his
younger sister, Darby, speaks French, Spanish, Italian, and
German, has her bachlor's from Yale, and her master's from
Middlebury and the University of Florence in Italy, and is now
completing her Ph. D. at Yale. She told me that she wanted to
go to graduate school and I said, "That is fine, sweetheart,
where are you going to apply for the graduate school and get
your Ph. D. ?" And she said, "Harvard and Yale." And I said,
"Well, Darby, we have got have a fall back. East Texas
State Teachers College or something. Suppose they do not take
you. You have got to have somewhere else." And she said,
"Berkley." Berkley is a fall back! Golly damn, they all three
took her and Yale made her a fellow of Yale University so you
do nothave to pay any tuition, Berkley took her and made her
a fellow and so she did not have to pay any tuition and gave
her three hundred dollars a month. She is just superb. Last
year she got a just. She came Back f.rom a full break in Italy
and she :was-a soprano soloist with the Yale Glee Club, and.
toured Europe. Just a superb gal. Her younger sister,
Racheal. She went to Ethel Walkers in Simsbury, Conneticut
and then to Yale. Racheal is a superb actress. All of them
speak at least two languages, expect for Racheal who speaks
only French andEnglish. The others speak at least French,
Spanish, and English. Racheal graduated from Duke with honors
and is taking her Master's of Fine Arts and Drama at the
University of Florida. This summer she is playing the lead in
the Merry Wives of Windsor at the Casino Theatre in Nantucket.
So, I will not talk about one of them unless I talk about all
of them.

S: And I can understand why you would talk about all of them.

T: Damn right. I do not understand people who say that children
are such a bore and they are so much work, they disappoint you,
I do not understand that. Yes, there are disappointments but,
I have the four greatest children in history.

S: You do.

T: By golly.

S: Okay, I think that we have covered most of it.

T: But Benmont Tench is a thoroughly trained classic musician.
Which is one reason which he is as good as he is. And if he
wants, and if her chose to do so, he could sit down and rip
you off a Bach, or Brahms, or Shostakovich. And most of the
time he eledts to play the kind of music he does, he likes
to play it. Except that he plays one piece of music that
almost every pianist in the world who plays the piano for
fun, plays, and I cannot tell you why, but as one who has
played the piano for a long time I can tell you that it is
true, somehow or another everybody plays "Somewhere Over the
Rainbow." He does a mean rendition of "What a Friend We Have
in Jesus." Boy, he can tear that one out.

S: Okay. Well, thank you...

T: You can put your notes together. Call tomorrow or the next

( the tape ends )


1. Baum, Willa K., Oral History for the Local Historical Society,
American Association for State and Local History, Nashville,

2. Chicago Manual of Style, The, Thirteenth Edition, Revised and
Expanded, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1982.

3. Davis, Jess 'G., History of Gainesville, Florida with Biographical
Sketches of Families, Jess G. Davis, Gainesville, 1966.

4. Gove, Philip Babcock, Ph. D. Ed. in chief, Webster's Third
New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged,
G. & C. Merriam Company, Springfield, 1976.

5. Davis, C., Back, K., and MacLean, K., From Tape to Type
An Oral History Manual and Workbook,Illinois State Library,
Springfield, 1975.

6. Hoopes, James, Oral History: An Introduction for Students,
University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1979.

7. Proctor, Dr. Samuel, Distinguished Service Professor of
History, Personal Lectures, July 7-25, 1986.

8. Shumway, Gary L., and Hatrley, William G., An Oral History Primer,
Shumway, G., and Hatrley. W., Salt Lake City, 1973.

9. Tench, Judge Benjamin M., Interview, July 16,1986.


Nancy S. Steigner was born in Beaufort, South Carolina in

1970. She spent her younger years in Okinawa, Japan. Where at

the age of ten she returned to the States. She now lives Ocala,

Florida, where she attends Forest High School. She is an'active

member of the Spanish Club and has been the president for two

years. She is, also, a member of Mu Alpha Theta and the National

Art Honor Society.

Miss Steigner attended the Student Science Training Program

at the University of Florida on a full scholarship. During this

program she worked under Dr. Samuel Proctor, Distinguished Professor

of History, in Oral History Project at the Florida State Museum

where she conducted an oral history interview with Judge Benjamin

Montmorency Tench, Jr.


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