Title: Minnie Lou Tillman
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00024778/00001
 Material Information
Title: Minnie Lou Tillman
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Tillman, Minnie Lou ( Interviewee )
Rose, Joe ( Interviewer )
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: April 26, 1989
Copyright Date: 1989
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00024778
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
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
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



Interviewee: Minnie Lou Tillman

Interviewer: Joe Rose

April 26, 1989

R: I want you to begin by telling me your full name.

T: Minnie Lou Tillman.

R: What was your maiden name?

T: Minnie Lou Jones.

R: When were you born?

T: September 4, 1908.

R: So that makes you eighty-one years old this year.

T: I was born in Atmore, Alabama.

R: Where in Alabama is that? How big of a town is it?

T: It is not a very big town, I guess it has between 2,500 and
5,000 people; it was not very big, just a country town. We
moved about from place to place. My father was a sharecropper
and he moved from place to place. All in my younger
childhood, that is what he did. He was a carpenter and he
was, I guess you would call him a handyman. He would do
almost anything.

R: What was your father's name?

T: Sidney Eugene Jones.

R: What was your mother's name?

T: Her name was Ailie Louise Brewer.

R: Did your father originally come from Alabama?

T: Yes.

R: And so he had lived there most of his life?

T: And my mother, his mother, and his whole family did, too.

R: Where was your mother's family from? Were they also from

T: Yes, they were from Alabama, but a different town. It was
just a small town named Andalusia.

R: Is Atmore in south Alabama or north Alabama?


T: It is more in the eastern part of Alabama, I believe.

R: And that is where you grew up then?

T: Yes, and at an early age we moved to Andalusia, Alabama. That
is in the central part. It is about ninety-six miles south of
Montgomery. When we moved there, I was in the second grade
in school and we lived there until we moved to Florida in

R: When you say your father was a sharecropper, do you mean he
worked for a lot of different men?

T: Yes, there were big farmers that had cotton crops, and at that
time they did not have cotton pickers. People were hired to
pick the cotton and paid by the pound to pick cotton. There
were a bunch of us, and we were always quite small, but he
would take the family of children and we would pick cotton for
the other fellows. That is the way we made our living,
because we had gardens and raised what we ate ourselves. But
that is what we did, from place to place until we moved to
Andalusia. We lived in Andalusia for a quite awhile, until
I went to the ninth grade, and then we moved to Florida. I
attended Gainesville High School in the ninth grade, in 1924.
I did not finish Gainesville High School. I stopped and went
to work. I worked with Southern Bell.

R: Well, we should go back. In Andalusia, when your father and
your family moved there, did your father still continue to

T: No. He was a blacksmith. He had a blacksmith shop there and
he would shoe the animals for the farmers. He would sharpen
their tools, and he would make things for their plows. You
know, everything blacksmiths would do. We lived in town

R: How many brothers and sisters do you have? How big of a
process was this for you all to move?

T: There were eight of us that lived to be grown. There were
four boys and four girls.

R: So it was a big family, and I imagine it was a lot to move.

T: Yes.

R: Let me ask, where were you in that group? Were you the
oldest or youngest or somewhere in between?

T: I was next to the youngest. The oldest was a brother, and he
was two years older than my sister that is still living. She
was the next one in line, and she is 88 now. Then it just
goes on down like steps. We are eighteen [years separated]
and two years apart from each other. I was next to the baby,
and he was a boy.

R: You mentioned that your father, when he was a sharecropper,
had you all go out and pick cotton. Do you remember doing
that? Was that still when you were in Atmore or did you all
do that after you went to Andalusia?

T: We lived in the country surrounding Atmore when we did that,
and I remember doing that.

R: Did you do that in Andalusia too?

T: No, we did not do that after we went to Andalusia. When we
went to Andalusia he opened his blacksmith shop and that is
where we made a living. We rented a home and we all lived
there together. All my brothers and sisters went to school
in Andalusia.

R: I would imagine that life was a little bit easier once he was
able to open his business.

T: Yes, it was. It was much better then.

R: A little more stable, I am sure.

T: Yes. We did not have to move so often.

R: You mentioned you moved to Florida in what year?

T: 1924.

R: And why did your father decide to move the family down here?

T: Well, the oldest sister, the one that lives in Campville,
Lorida, married a man from Florida and they came down here.
He was in World War I. When he got back from the war, they
got married and he came to the University. He went through
the University. You know, they had some kind of G.I. Bill.
He took agriculture at the University. They bought a home and
started their family down here, so my parents decided they
would come, too. So we moved down here in 1924. I have been
here ever since.

R: Did the whole family move?

T: Yes, everybody at one time.

R: What did your father do when he came down here?

T: He worked as a carpenter's helper for a while. Now this was
during a depression--leading on up to what was called the real
Depression. But we never had any money, we were just always
poor farmers. So he would work at any job he could find until
he got established in his own way. Then, after that, my older
brothers and sisters were getting married and were
establishing their homes, and there were not so many at home.
It made it easier that way.

R: When you all moved to Florida, did you move to this area right
here where you are living right now?

T: No, to Gainesville.

R: Where in Gainesville did you live?

T: Well, back in 1924 the streets were named differently. They
have not always been First and Second street and like that.
We lived on South Bay street. South Bay street was the street
that the old jail was on. We lived right on the corner of Bay
street and what is now Fourth Avenue, and the jail was right
on the north corner of the same block. A fellow by the name
of Pinkerson was sheriff then. His son [Charles Pinkoson,
M.D.] is a doctor now; he is an eye specialist, I think.

R: Was that in what is now northeast Gainesville? You said it
was on the corner of what is now Fourth Avenue, would that be
Northeast Fourth? Was it back off there in some of the area
that is close to the duck pond now.

T: No, it is on the other way. It was Southeast Fourth. Do you
know where the city water plant is now? Our place was right
up towards town, that is, back this way from there. So it was
southeast. It was right in the division along in there. But
that is where we lived and we lived there for a long time.
That house has been torn down and there are all the new
buildings. You know that black lawyer, Aaron Green, has an
office right along there where our house was [410 SE 4th
Ave.]. Right at the back of his office is where our house

R: Is the house that you all lived in still standing?

T: No, that is all changed. The old jail is gone and everything.
They built a jail in the south section of town and they just
completely tore that old jail down.

R: And you said when you moved here you were in the ninth grade
and you started high school at Gainesville.

T: But I did not finish it. I went from the time school started
in September, all through that first fall. During the
Christmas holidays I got a job. I quit school and went to
work and helped support the family.

R: What kind of job did you get?

T: I got a job with the telephone company as an operator. I
worked five years there.

R: This would have been back in 1924. What was it like to be an

T: It was altogether different from the way it is now. We had
great bulky headsets. You had switchboards that had long
cords and all up above were your holes and your numbers; and
your numbers were in blocks of hundreds, and anybody could
call a number. You had to just say, "Number please," if you
were a local operator. They would give you a number, you
would pick up your cord and follow it along there until you
got to the hole where his number was, and then you just pushed
it in. Then you had a little button you had to ring. So it
was altogether different from what it is now. I worked on
the local switchboard for a couple of years, and then they put
me on the toll line. It was a lot easier on the toll line.

R: What were some of the differences?

T: Well, say if you had a long distance call from somebody in
Gainesville for New York, you would have to go through
different stations in different states. You had our toll
station, and you had to get another code station to get the
code to get on in to New York. She would tell you what
circuit you were going to be on. It was just altogether
different. It was just crazy.

R: Yes, I am sure it is. How many operators were there when you
were there?

T: There were twenty-three when I was there.

R: And about how big a town was Gainesville at that time?

T: There were between 5,000 and 6,000 here.

R: At that time?

T: Yes, that included the University. You know, they counted the
University students.

R: I see. So I imagine you all kept pretty busy.

T: Yes, we were busy. I worked there five years. I was working
there when I met my husband. We got married, and I still
worked there for a while. I worked about, I guess, nine
months afterward. No, it was more than that; maybe it was
eighteen months after I got married that I still worked there.
He was an automobile mechanic and worked for the Ford place.
He was foreman down at the Ford place.

R: How did you meet him?

T: My daddy bought an old Ford and it was not starting. We
called the Ford place, and they sent him around. We were not
very far from the Ford place. The Ford place then was right
across from the Hippodrome Theatre, kind of angling across
that way. We were just about two blocks down there; a little
more than two blocks, but not very far from the Ford place.
I had to walk right by the shop every morning going to work.
Do you know the bank on the corner there that used to be
Wilson's, right across from the Administration Building? The
telephone office was on the end, right on the corner of the
next block. Well, I had to walk to work every morning, and
I would see him and he would see me. Well, the old car would
not start, and we called a mechanic to come start the car.
We had not had it but a few days and it was the kind you had
to crank.

R: Was this the first car you ever had?

T: Yes, the first car we ever had. We had horse and buggies. It
was a used car, but we bought the car and it would not start.
The thing of it was, we did not know how to start it! So we
called, and they sent Dick around. I got out there to see
what he was going to do to the car, and he introduced himself
to me. He said, "I met one of your sisters." I said, "Yes,
she told me she met you." The next time I went by the Ford
place he stopped and came out there to where I was and asked
me how the car was running. I said, "Well, Dad can start it,
and it is running all right." He said, "Well, I decided I am
going with the wrong girl."

R: [laughter] He was dating someone else at the time?

T: He dated my sister at the time! They were at some kind of
gathering, and he met Eva. He had one date with her, and then
he saw me and said, "I believe I am dating the wrong girl."
So I said, "You go ahead with your business and I will go
ahead with mine." Then he called me for dates, and we went
together about three years before we were married.

R: Well, let me go back and pick something up. You said
something interesting and I really did not even think about
it when you first said it. You said you only had horses and

buggies until that time. How did you all move to Florida
then? Did you move to Florida in a wagon or did you take the

T: We came to Florida on the train. But when we moved from one
place to another, there would be the wagons. Say if we were
working for one farmer, he would have wagons to haul his
cotton to the gin--big double-team, two-mule wagons. So they
would usually move the sharecropper from one place to another
in their own wagon, you know--just like they haul their crop.
But we never had mules and wagons, we had buggies and horses.

We lived one time on a strawberry farm. There was a great
strawberry crop that year and nobody could get pickers. So
Daddy took all of us on the buggy--everybody rode on that
buggy; kids on the back, kids on the front, and kids on the
seat--to the strawberry fields, and we made a lot of money
that day. Everybody picked strawberries and we pooled our
resources and we made money that day, for those times. I
think they paid you fifteen cents a crate to pick them. There
was eight of us. Daddy did not pick, he just kind of took
care of our money. He kept up with what we were doing. You
talk about families together, that was togetherness!

It was tough sometimes. The Depression did not really hit
until 1929, and we had been married a year. We got married
in 1928 and the Depression hit us about 1929. It got worse
and worse before it got better. We weathered the storm all
right. My husband was a mechanic, and after we were married
he quit his job at the Ford place and opened his own shop.
We lived on the corner out there where that little store is
right now.

R: Let me get this right. You dated for about three years, and
then in what year did you get married?

T: 1928.

R: Where did your husband live?

T: He lived right out here at Rochelle.

R: So he was from out here?

T: Yes, born and raised. He went to that school right there.
That was the only school he ever went to.

R: This little school building that is right down the road here?

T: Yes, right in my yard there. It adjoins my property right

R: Had he moved into Gainesville to work?

T: No, he never did move into Gainesville until we were married.
We lived in Gainesville about four months after we were
married. We got an apartment, lived there about four months,
and then he opened a garage in Rochelle out on that corner.
In 1939 we built that house that is on that corner right now
and we moved in there. But before then, when he had his first
shop there, he built a garage and a huge shed that was just
like a barn. On one side we had an apartment and on the other
side he had his garage. I worked at the telephone office
then, and we lived out there.

Then he built a little store and we had a gas station and a
little grocery store. When I would have my days off, I would
take care of the station while he was working on cars. That
is the way we got along. It was not very long after we got
married before I quit altogether. We stocked that little
station with groceries. The groceries were so high in
Gainesville that we could not buy enough at one time to get
their discount rates. We had a pick-up truck, and I would
take that pick-up truck every Friday and go to Jacksonville,
load that thing down with groceries, and bring it back while
he was working in the garage.

R: Now, the garage and the corner store is the building right up
here that is still standing, right? Is it the same building?

T: No, that is not the one he built. But there is a building on
the same lot where we built. The one we built is the dwelling
there; the house across the road.

R: And that is on the corner of Highway 20 and...?

T: Highway 2082.

R: I could not remember the name of the road right off.

T: Micanopy Road is 234 and it intersects with 2082 down here at
this corner. That is 2082, the Orange Heights road, and it
goes straight on through Windsor, you know.

R: Right.

T: Well, when we were first married, we lived in this old barn
thing that my husband built. We had an apartment on one side,
and had a garage on the other. He borrowed money from his
daddy to buy the first groceries we ever bought. That is how
we got our nest egg started right there on that corner.
Lester was born right over there in 1931, when we lived in
that little garage.

R: Well, let me go back and ask a little bit about your husband.
What was his full name?

T: William Dixon Tillman, Jr.

R: And he went by Dick?

T: I always called him Dick. His mother called him Dixon.

R: How long had his family been here?

T: Well they were born and raised right around here.

R: They went back a long time. How would you define this area
of Rochelle? Was there ever a town here?

T: Oh, yes. When my husband was a little boy, this was quite a
little thriving place. There were two grocery stores, and
there was a meat market, and his daddy owned the meat market.
Well, he did not own the meat market, but he sold beef to the
meat market. Dick would deliver the beef to the meat market.
He butchered the cows out at his place, and Dick would bring
the meat to the butcher. It was a railroad town. There was
a junction here for the Atlantic Coastline and the Seaboard.
It had a big water tank, and trains always stopped here. We
had two passenger trains go through here every day, one going
south and one going north. They were called the thirty-nine
and forty. Thirty-nine went south and forty went north.

R: So this was a stop for the railroad?

T: Yes, a stop for the railroad. They had a hotel, and the woman
that ran the hotel boarded the trainmen that worked this road.
This road went to Micanopy and on into Jacksonville. It
junctioned with the train that now goes to Jacksonville when
you get to Hawthorne. It went to Micanopy and Macintosh and
everywhere down in there. There was a station at Orange Lake.
The teachers would have field trips for the school kids during
school time. Well, they would take the kids down to the
depot, put them on the train, and let them come to Rochelle.
Their parents would meet them in Rochelle and let them have
a train ride. That was way back then, when Dick was a boy.

R: What was it like when you first moved out here? Had that time
kind of passed and a lot of the town closed down?

T: Yes, there were more people here then than there are now.
There were two churches. One, the church behind June's house,
is still there. That is one of the churches; that is the
Methodist Church. There was a Baptist Church, and it was on
the corner right over here. There was a post office, and
right where Steven's swimming pool is now was where the post

office was then. Before Dick and I were married, I never will
forget, his box number was sixty-three at that post office.
When I went on vacation from the telephone office to
Montgomery, Alabama, to visit with my sister who lived up
there, I wrote him to Box 63 in Rochelle. But since then they
have done away with the post office.

R: I guess so, since Steven's swimming pool is right there.
Well, the town of Rochelle was just right here where your
trailer is now.

T: Yes, on each side of this railroad track. The schoolyard was
there, and they had a lot of kids go to the school.

R: What was the name of the school?

T: Just the Rochelle School. It was an elementary school; it
did not go higher than the eighth grade. When the kids got
through the eighth grade, then they took the bus to

R: About how many kids were there out here at that time? Was it

T: Yes. I do not remember the number of the kids, but I have
seen a picture of the group of them; they looked like
something between eighteen and twenty in that school group
picture. Dick had two sisters and a brother that went there,
so that was four. And then all of those other kids around
here went.

R: You said that Dick's family was from around here and they had
been around here for a long time. What did his father do?

T: He was a farmer and a cattleman. I own his place out there.

R: Is the old place still standing, or just the land?

T: Yes, the land is there and it is mine. When they had the
division of Dick's father's property, each kid got so much,
and Dick fell heir to the home place. Of course, when he
passed away it was mine; and as long as I live it will me
mine. Steven has pine trees planted on it now.

R: Well, how many acres was it that he farmed?

T: You mean the whole plot?

R: Yes, how many acres did he have?

T: Well, let me see. Each kid got forty acres and there are four
of them. It was 160 acres I believe, and that included the

home place. He had pastures out in this woods, and where he
did not have enough pasture--when the cows got too full on
that pasture--then he rented from the W.D. Phifer Company.
That was a turpentine company that was down at Phifer. He
rented pastures from them when his herd got so big that his
acreage would not take care of them.

R: Did he ever plant fields or raise any crops, or was he mainly
a cattle farmer?

T: My husband or his daddy?

R: His daddy.

T: His daddy was both. He had crops; he planted cotton and he
planted other vegetables. But he did not plant as much as my
husband used to during our early marriage, when Lester was a
boy. Dick's daddy's health had gotten kind of bad, so my
husband looked after his herd. There were no fences then and
they always ran together. Each farmer knew his own cattle
then. In those days they marked and branded the cattle in the
woods. They had cattle pens and they dipped them and
everything. They would have certain days of the year and
times of the year, usually in the springtime, and all the
cattlemen would get together and they would drive their cows
into this huge pen. They would have people marking the ears
using the branding iron. I still have my husband's branding
iron. When they branded them, that is the way they marked
them. They would work together as a team. Everybody would
help, they would just use the different brands and markings
in the ears. My husband had his shop up there, but he had to
ride the range; so his daddy gave him a percentage of the new
cows each year for keeping up with his cattle. That is how
he got his start in the cattle business. When he sold his
cows, he had quite a bit of cattle. It helped us a lot.

R: So in 1928 you got married and shortly afterwards you moved
out here and your husband started his own repair shop.

T: But we had been living out here in that shop up there ever
since he quit the Ford place. He quit the Ford place right
after we got married just a few months--long enough for him
to get that building built. Then he quit over there. You
see, he built on the building after he came home from work.
He had help building the building when he got to certain
stages of it, and as soon as he got the apartment side built,
we moved in. That is where we were living when my first child
was born.

R: What was the road like? Highway 20 is now a beautiful paved
road and is busy with traffic.

T: It was a dirt road then.

R: How much traffic was on there then? Was there very much
coming between Hawthorne and Gainesville?

T: Yes, there was quite a bit. Not long after we were married
they paved this State Road 20. When Lester was a small boy,
Williams-Thomas had an ambulance and Johnson-Hays had an
ambulance (it was just called the Johnson Funeral Home then).
But each one had an ambulance, and anybody that got sick then
would call for the ambulance. Now, you know, they call the
rescue squad; then they called the ambulance. Dick William's
(who owns Williams-Thomas now) home was in Hawthorne. Anybody
that got sick in Hawthorne called Dick Williams. At that time
the cows were just all over the sides of the road and
everything, just running loose. There were no fences, no
nothing--and they just seemed like they congregated along that
road bed because they planted grass along there.

Well, when Dick Williams would get a call to go to Hawthorne,
he would start blowing his siren when he crossed Parari Creek
at that bridge down there. Lester would hear him, and if
there were any cows along the road anywhere by that crossing
up there, Lester would have time to drive them back. He would
get out there and drive those cows back so the ambulance could
come by without slowing down. Now when Lester was a little
boy he did that. Then after they passed that no fence law--
and I never did understand (and now I am an old lady) why they
called it the "no fence law." They did not have any fences
in. But when they passed the no fence law, everybody had to
fence up the cows. Can you imagine that?

R: It sounds a little contrary.

T: Looks to me like they should have just said they were
discontinuing the no fence law, you know, because there were
no fences. Now, since they passed that no fence law,
everybody is responsible for his cattle. Back then, if one
farmer's cows got on the road, another farmer that saw the cow
caught it and went and notified the owner. They just all
worked together.

R: Did your husband's father continue his cattle business at that
time? Did he put up all the fences and everything?

T: Yes, he kept them back. The people that he rented from, they
had to rent the pasture. They had to be fenced in you know.
They had to put the wires up and everything. He had a big
herd when he died. Dick was made the administrator of that
estate. They all had a meeting together and decided to sell
his herd and just divide up the money; so they did. Then that

left the whole range for Dick's cows, and what he had
inherited as they came along.

R: What year did his father die?

T: In 1946. World War II ended in 1945 and he died that next
year. He died in September of that year.

R: You have mentioned Lester a couple of times. How many
children did you have?

T: Two.

R: And who was born first?

T: Lester.

R: What was his full name?

T: Henry Lester.

R: I did not know that; I thought Lester was his first name.

T: He never liked Henry, so he never was called Henry. He was
called Lester.

R: And he was born in what year?

T: In 1931.

R: And who was your second?

T: He was seven years and four months old the day his sister was

R: And what was her name.

T: Martha Ann Tillman. She was born seven years and four months
to the day. He was born the twenty-eighth of January and she
was born the twenty-eighth of May.

R: So he was still a boy in the beginning of the Depression, I

T: Yes.

R: It would be my guess that the Depression would have treated
you a little different that it treated a lot of other people.
Did you have the store by this time? Had you started selling
things out of the store?

T: Yes, we did. At that time, there was a little commissary down
at Phifer. They had a little store down there for the
turpentine workers--people that worked in the turpentine
woods. They got groceries down there on credit all during
the month. They just got paid once a month and they got their
groceries at that little commissary (they called it). It was
a lot higher than we sold groceries, because we sold for cash

R: Was that a company owned store at Phifer?

T: The W.D. Phifer company was what it called. They were the
ones that owned the Phifer State Bank in Gainesville for so

R: How far away from here is Phifer; the store, the town and

T: Do you know down here where 2082 curves to go up to the
crossroads, and there is a dirt road goes east? It is just
right down there less than a mile.

R: So there were turpentine people all around this area?

T: Yes. They were mostly black people. The foremen and the
managers were white, but the others were mostly black. When
my husband grew vegetables like cucumbers, watermelons, beans,
squash and all these things, all the wives of the turpentine
men would help him in the fields. They would pick his squash,
cucumbers or whatever it was he planted, then help him harvest
his things.

R: Did they live in camps?

T: No, they had little shacks--mostly just little two-room shacks
down there they built specially for them.

R: Were they all owned by the Phifer Company too?

T: Yes. None of them owned their homes, that I know of, until
after the Phifer company quit the turpentine business. It is
now the Owens-Illinois. It is not that now--Owens-Illinois
sold out to some box company. I forget the name of it, but
they do not turpentine the woods any more, they make boxes.

R: That is kind of a lost business; they do not do that any more.
How big was the community of turpentine workers at that time?

T: There was a bunch of them. As I started to say, with our
little store, I would go on Friday to Jacksonville. I would
take our truck on Friday and I would go to this wholesale
place in Jacksonville and just load that thing down.


R: Do you remember the name of the place you went in

T: It was called the Daylight Grocer. It is still over there.

R: Is it? And they would sell products to you wholesale?

T: They would send us a price list each week and we would just
mark that price list. Dick and I would get in the store, and
we would check our stock and see what we were low on. We
would check that price list off that they had sent us. I
would take that price list, and here I would go.

R: Did you go by yourself?

T: Yes, by myself.

R: How long did it take to get to Jacksonville at that time?

T: Oh, a couple of hours. There were not any four-lane highways,
I would just go through Baldwin and just ride on up that way.

R: What sort of things did you sell in your grocery store?

T: Just regular grocery things. We sold dry peanuts, and we had
a pretty good little market. We had beef. Now, there was
Swift and Company that had a truck that come by once a week,
usually on Friday. We bought our beef and bacon and sausage
and things like that right off his refrigerated truck. Just
before payday at Phifer, we would stock up with a lot more
stuff because all of them, when they got their money down
there, would pay just as much on their bills as they could get
by with and then they would bring us the rest of their money.
And that is the way we made our money. We had our prices.
Our prices were higher here than it would be at Winn-Dixie
because they had so much at the time. They got so much at a
cheaper wholesale than we did. But we got our reduction in
price by hauling our own and I hauled it.

R: Now, where was the closest Winn-Dixie at the time? I guess
it was all the way in Gainesville, right?

T: Yes, it was all the way into Gainesville. It was right there
on First Street, but it was called the Margaret Ann. When
they came to Gainesville they changed it from the Margaret
Ann to the Winn- Dixie. Then they moved from that place to
somewhere else in Gainesville.

R: Did you become familiar with a few of the country stores and
some of the things like that that sold all sorts of products?

Did you sell farm equipment or did you have some things from

T: No, he carried flashlight batteries, fan belts, and things
like that he could use in his shop or he could sell it to
somebody else if he wanted to. We had kerosene, gas, and oil;
and we had pretty good stock of regular staple items.

R: Were there any other places in town or around this area that
sold the gasoline and kerosene at that time?

T: No. Ours was the only filling station between Gainesville and

R: I imagine you got a lot of business.

T: Yes, you would be surprised how people would stop at night,
completely out of gas. Many a time, Dick would work until
sometimes two o'clock in the morning in his watermelon fields,
just be to bed, and somebody would come along that was
completely out of gas that just could not go any further.
They said, "could you just get up and sell me just one gallon
of gas?" One night he was just so tired he could hardly move,
and he said, "No. If you cannot fill your tank, I am not
getting up." He said he just wanted enough to get to
Hawthorne. Dick told him, "You ought to have gotten your gas
before you left Hawthorne. Now I worked all day and I am
tired and I am not getting up for the money I make from one
gallon of gas. If you can fill up your tank, I will get up."
The man filled up his tank. You know there is a lot of logic
in there.

R: How did the Depression affect your business?

T: Well, it affected us just like it did everybody else. Nobody
had any money to pay for anything. We had food there and
people would come along--my husband was not one to turn
anybody away--and if he said he was hungry and he did not have
any money, we fed him cheese and crackers or whatever canned
goods that we had. You see, that just knocked into our
profit, but that is the way you do it when you see somebody
hungry. You feed him if you have anything.

And a queer thing happened to us. You remember way back
then--I do not think you do--but you remember there was a time
when all the banks closed. At that time would you believe we
had our little bit of money in the Hawthorne bank. We bought
our gas from the Standard Oil Company in Hawthorne. Well this
particular day--I was working at the telephone office then--
the gas man came and filled up. We had two huge underground
tanks. He filled up both of those tanks and went back to
Hawthorne and Dick had given him a check for it. He got that

check into Hawthorne and right after, when they closed that
day, they did not open again.

I was at the telephone office, and we usually knew what was
going on around town. That board just lit up, and the first
person to answer the signal said, "Give me the First National
Bank." They said the Hawthorne State Bank had just closed and
nobody had any money for anything. I said, "Oh me, I hope
that gas man got back there with Dick's check before they
closed"--because see we would have owed the gas company man.
But lucky for us he made it. We lost the other money we had
in there, which was not too much. During the Depression any
amount was appreciable, you know. But we lucked out on the
gas. We had two full tanks of gas and the man got to the bank
with the check.

R: So that would have been in 1929 when a lot of the banks

T: Yes, that was in 1929.

R: I guess so since you were still working at the operator

T: Yes. But that was a hard time. The president of the First
National Bank--his name was Taylor--went on the radio (there
were not any televisions, you know). Everyone was afraid they
were going to lose their money at the First National.
Everybody panicked that had money in these banks. He said,
"Just come on down, First National has got your money. If you
want your money, just come over and get it." I am telling you
right now, you would be surprised at the people that took
their money out of there. They lined up to get their money
like they were going to a circus or something.

R: Did you go to get yours out?

T: No. We did not have any in that bank. Ours was all in

R: Oh. That was the one in Gainesville.

T: But when we had some more money, we put it in the First
National in Gainesville, and it has been there ever since.
We have used that bank ever since, we never did change again.
Later, I went to work for First National, but that was a long
time after the Depression.

R: You said that a lot of people would come by, and I know that
there were a lot of people who were hungry at that time.
Knowing you, although I never got to know your husband, I
would imagine that you would be the kind that would feed them

or do whatever you could for them. Did you all become known
for that?

T: Well, I will tell you the truth; we usually knew the people's
circumstances around us, that is, our neighbors. You knew if
they had anything, or you knew if they do not. You know if
they pay their bills and you know if they do not. At that
time, when we had that little store, brother and sister Lively
was living over yonder in Putnam County. He was working at
the Kayolin mines, and they had that bunch of kids: Mary
Jane, and Judy (the one in Jacksonville), and James, and then
Max Beech's wife, Jean. All of those kids were coming up and
going to school. I just remembered so plain how hard we had
it when I was coming up. Well, they would come and Mrs.
Lively would sell us eggs. She had a big flock of chickens
and she would bring us eggs and exchange them for groceries,
and then we sold the eggs in the store. We go way back with
the Livelys.

R: Really?

T: Yes sir.

R: They live a good ten or fifteen miles away.

T: Yes. But you see, they did not live in Melrose then. They
would be on their way to Gainesville, to shop for school
clothes for the kids or something, and bring us the eggs
because we knew them. At that time, the Livelys were going
to University Avenue [Church of Christ] just like we were.
We knew them at church. We had been going to church with her
ever since we got to Florida. It was just a wonderful
relationship. We worked together all the time.

R: You all have been friends for a long time?

T: Yes. We go back a long ways. When Lester passed away she
said she felt like she had just lost a son. She just cried.
See, he preached at Melrose for five years and they seemed to
think well of him over there.

R: Knowing her, I can see how she would say that, too. She is
a good lady.

T: She is. She is wonderful.

R: Were there a lot of other people that would bring you eggs or
products that they grew on their farm?

T: People in Windsor did. They brought us eggs, and we had
regular egg customers that wanted yard fresh eggs, you know.
Way back then there was not so many people that would eat

these eggs right out of the stores because they would be cold
storage eggs. They would want them right fresh out of the
yard. There is a difference in the taste. So we usually had
quite a few eggs. We had good, regular egg customers the
whole time.

R: What kind of refrigeration did you have at that time? I know
electricity was coming into a lot of the areas in Florida
around that time. Did you all have electricity out in this

T: We did not at first. When we were first married, my husband
had a Delco plant. He built an icebox for that store that
was as long as this trailer is wide.

R: About ten or twelve feet?

T: Yes, and he built it himself. He insulated it and everything.
On the top of it is where we had our cold drinks. All along
the bottom was cabinets for the meats and things you
refrigerate, you know. And on the top of it, the solid top
of that thing was just a water bin, and you just sit your Coca
Cola bottles in it. There were no cans; everything was in
bottles. We would just have rows and certain divisions for
Cokes, Pepsis and whatever. He had pipes all around on top
of that thing, and when you pulled that Coca Cola out of there
and pulled the cap on it, it would just ice over. We kept it
so cold.

R: You began talking about the REA. What did that stand for?
Do you remember what those initials stood for?

T: Rural Electrification Association. They went around and got
signatures from all the would be customers. You had to pay
$5.00 to be a member and we signed up for that when he still
had that little Delco plant up there. We used that Delco
plant until they got the lines built out here.

R: What year did they bring the electricity in?

T: Joe, I have forgot what year that was.

R: I guess it would have been the mid 1930s, before World War II.

T: Yes. I guess it was the mid 1930s. He built our first home
in 1939; that old house up on that corner. That is where we

R: Now that is the one that still over there today?

T: Yes. Now, the old barn and everything has been torn down and
the Zetrours own that.

R: I am sorry, what was that?

T: The Zetrours own that. Horace and Wallace. Wallace is still
living, but Horace is gone. Wallace owns that, and he built
that block place and rented it to somebody. Dick built us a
store on that side of the road because we bought that lot
there. We bought a square acre right on that corner and built
the store there. We still lived in that place until we got
our house built. We still had that store until he got his
store built, and then we moved over there.

R: How old would your husband have been when World War II
started? Was he drafted, or was he passed the draft age?

T: No, he was not drafted. He was too old for the draft, I
think. Now he was born in 1902, so you see he would be
eighty-six now.

R: So he would have been around forty-one or forty-two at the

T: He missed that, he did not have to go there.

R: As the Depression went on, could you tell that things were
picking up economically? Could you tell that things were
getting better?

T: Yes. We could tell by the amount of business we were doing
and the amount of gas we were selling. We knew people had
more money to spend on gas in the community. We could go by
that. We used that as a barometer for buying our groceries
and stocking our store.

R: What happened with this railroad during the war?

T: It was still going during the war. The Atlantic Coastline
sold out to the Seaboard. They changed it to the SR instead
of the ACR. So now, it is just the Seaboard. The Atlantic
Coastline does not come here any more. Dick shipped his
watermelons by rail. He would order a car to pack his
watermelons in, and they would put it on the sidelines spur
out there. They would sit there until he got it loaded. They
would set it out there and leave it there for a certain amount
of days. If he did not have it filled up, then they would
pick up the car. But, he usually got it filled up. There was
a limit as to how long it could sit there.

R: What did you think of the programs the Roosevelt
administration tried to push through for some of the recovery?
What was your opinion of President Roosevelt and some of the
changes that came about during this time?

T: Well, I thought he was a good president, and I still think
that he was for the underdog. You know, it was the real
American people that he was most interested in. I think he
tried to help them a whole lot more than Hoover did. If you
put Hoover and Roosevelt together, why there would just be no
comparison there when the poorer people are considered, you
know. He tried as hard as he could to start programs that
would help the people and the country, like building up the
highways and things. He used a lot of labor from people could
not do anything else. He made a better looking country out
of us, these United States, by doing that. If he just doled
out the money, why it would be awful. But I do not reckon
that we want to get into politics.

R: Oh, well, you can if you want to.

T: I will tell you right now, you look at the trash along our
highways and it is embarrassing to me to see that people
scatter so much trash. The prisons are so full; they cannot
do a thing with the prisoners and there is nowhere to put
them. Why can they not put them out there on the roads and
let them clear up the trash that is there? If they would work
them like they should, there would not be so much meanness
going on in the prisons. They will not just sit down and
behave themselves when they get there. They would get fresh
air, exercise and everything else. Instead the taxpayers have
to pay for all these fine things and just let them sit there
and watch television while the country is going to pot.

You just notice when you start out now, on this road between
here and Highway 20. It is a dumping grounds. We have called
the county commissioners; and I have called them and called
them. They say they cannot clean up the whole county. Well,
the west side of the county is the most popular, you know.
The ritzier classes are on the west side; so, if they do any
cleaning up, they do it there. They just let the east side
go to pot. But we have to pay as much taxes as they do; so
that is not very fair.

R: That is true. Your impressions of Roosevelt and what he did
in trying to get the country back to work were very positive.
What do you remember feeling when you heard that he died? Of
course the war was almost over at the time.

T: Yes. I was sad about that. Then the war ended so soon after
he died, and I was sad about that because I was hoping he
would live to see it end. I had a sad feeling about that.
I was just happy that it was over, because I had a nephew that
was in the war and I had a brother-in-law that was in the war.
I was glad for them. I was sad for Roosevelt, because as far
as I could tell he worked hard to bring an end to it. Of

course, I guess just like everybody else, he made mistakes.
I know a lot of people who do not agree with his policies.
As far as I am concerned, I think positively about him. But
I was sad that he did not live to see the end of the war. He
did everything he could, I think, to take care of the people
who could not take care of themselves. When the war was going
on it was so tough.

R: What changes do you remember happening around here when the
war ended and everybody came back? The University over in
Gainesville all of the sudden got a lot of the soldiers that
were out now and coming back on the G.I. Bill. What do you
remember about the area and its growth?

T: Well, my sister that lives over Campville, her husband was one
of those fellows. He went through that school, and I think
that he thought he got a fair deal because he never would have
been able to go through without it. That was a lot of help
to them. They had a big family. Of course the family came
after that, but then his education enabled him to do better
than he would have.

R: How far out was the city growing out this direction in the
late 1940s and early 1950s? How far was it into town from
here at that time? I mean, now the edge of town would be out
there around the Winn-Dixie.

T: Yes, just this side of the Winn-Dixie. Well the city limits
was further up. I cannot remember just where that sign was
before they moved it the last time, you know. I do not
remember just how far it was.

R: How long did you continue to own and run your store? When did
you finish doing that?

T: Well, let us see....

R: Did your husband continue to work as a mechanic during all
that time out here?

T: No, he did not. When he closed that garage, he got out of the
garage business and went totally to farming and raising the
cattle. The year after Lester finished high school, he had
an accident.

R: Your husband?

T: No, Lester. He was working after school the year he finished
high school. He finished high school in Melrose. He was
working for Bob Sinclair that lived down there. He had a big
farm with cattle and he had just moved out there. Rollin,
Lester's cousin, and Lester worked after school on this man's

farm and they were clearing it up. To get to his farm you
drive through that gate that is just beyond June's there,
right down in that field. They were clearing the lane down
there and they had cut down some trees, had piled them and
were burning them. He picked up a can of gas and put some gas
on the fire, and there came a puff of wind and just blew it
right back on him. It burned both of his feet and his legs
from his ankles to his knees. He was laid up for a long time
and he could not walk. He was in a wheelchair, on crutches
and everything.

We still had the little store that Dick had built, so Dick
stocked it and put him in it. He said, "Here, you make you
some money," because he could not do anything but sit about,
you know. But he could wheel himself around in that store.
So he ran that store that was on the corner for a little
while. Dick was working in the farm and driving the cows and
everything. That was before Lester and June were married.

We were hoping that he would go to the University, but he
never would go. We just could not persuade him to go. He
said he did not want to go to the University. This man that
he was working for told him that he would pay his college fee
for four years if he would go. He said, "I will be there
every time you change classes, take you from one building to
the other, or I will have a car there. You will not have to
walk." You see he could not walk. He said he would get him
from building to building; but we just could not persuade him
to go. Dick told him, "I will sell every cow on the range to
put you through that University if you want to go." He said
he did not want to go. But now when Stephen come along,
Lester said he was going to college; he wanted Stephen to go.

R: Lester wanted his son Stephen to go?

T: I think for the reason that he really regretted not going to
the University. He did have a brilliant mind and he could
have gone places with his music. He took music lessons and
he could really play the piano.

R: This is Lester?

T: Yes.

R: I did not know that.

T: We had an old piano when we lived on the corner right there
and we gave him piano lessons. After his accident he did not
have much interest in anything and he would not do very much.
One day I was keeping store for him, I was in the store and
I heard him playing that piano. The store was not very far
from the house, and he was just tearing that thing up. I came

to the house and I said, "Well, what has come over you?" He
said, "I thought I would see if I forgot all I knew," and he
just continued to play. He would just play all day long.

His daddy built him a ramp where he could get up and down the
steps with his wheelchair. This was before he got on
crutches. And that was a sight in this world. He and June
were sweethearts when he was burned. He just thought he was
a goner, you know. He was just in so much pain. A friend of
his said that he wanted to see June. I said, "Are you
serious, do you really want to see June?" He said, "Yes, I
want to see June." So I went out there and I said, "Dick, I
am going over to get June." So I took the car and went and got
June. I told her mother, "Let her pack some clothes, she can
just stay with me until she gets ready to come home, or until
he gets ready for her to come home." I was glad she came.
I had my family to care for and help Dick and cover the store
and everything. Lester did not help so much in the store at
that time. He had pain up his hands and everything. It was
nice for June to go sit with him at the hospital. It relieved
me. Dick had to work on the range and on the farm too.

R: Well, since Lester did not go to school, what did he do as an
occupation for most of his life?

T: He worked for the telephone company. He worked for them for
thirty-five years.

R: Was he a repairman?

T: He was a switchboard man in the switch room; in the back
there. He did it all. He worked from the ground up. When
he first started working in that line of work, he started
working for Western Electric. Then he had to travel all over
the place. He and June had married and they had a mobile
home. They traveled from one job to the other, where ever
Western sent him. They got tired of that. So then he got his
time that he had with Western bridged with Southern Bell, and
he got credit for working with Western. He had that credit
added to his other credit with Southern Bell. After he got
transferred and was there a certain length of time, then he
could bridge his time and that would add on to his retirement
years. He worked at that, and then they put him on the lines
and he climbed poles. He never was an installer, but he
climbed poles and he worked in the cable division. He did it
all, and finally wound up working in the switchroom.

R: I know a little bit about Lester, but I do not recall ever
meeting your daughter. Did she get married, or go to school?

T: She finished Gainesville High School but she did not go to
college, she went to work. She worked with the appraiser's

office for years and years and years at the courthouse. [J.]
Pierce Smith was the property appraiser then, and she worked
there. Then she married a man that worked with an insurance
company. When she got married she was working at the
insurance company where he was.

R: In Gainesville?

T: Yes. Well, they had a policy that husbands and wives could
not work at the same place.

R: What insurance company was this, do you remember?

T: I sure do not. They had an apartment in town. After that,
he joined the Air Force. He was in the Air Force and they
moved all over this country. They first moved to Orlando,
then they shipped him overseas to Iceland. He stayed in
Iceland one stretch of his time and then he came back to
Orlando. Then they shipped him from Orlando to the Eglin Air
Force Base in California, and they stayed there then until he
got out of the Air Force. They divorced and then she

R: Where is she now?

T: She is in Australia.

R: How did she ever get all the way over there?

T: I wonder too.

R: Have you ever gone to visit her?

T: No. She has tried to get me to go but I just do not want to
go there.

R: It is a pretty long journey.

T: Yes. It is a long journey. But she comes home pretty often.
She married a man from Australia who is a business analyst;
an industrial analyst or something. She likes it. She thinks
it is something.

R: You said a little while ago that you went back to work at a
later time. When was it that you went back to work? Where
was it that you went to work at?

T: From where?

R: You said you worked at the bank.

T: Yes. The first time I went to work after Lester was born I
worked at Sears. I worked Sears Roebuck's switchboard for a
while. Then, when the First National built their new
building, they put in a switchboard and I had a chance to
operate that switchboard. So I left Sears and I went to the

R: What years were these?

T: Well, let us see. I will give you a little quiz. I retired
from the bank in 1970 and I had been there sixteen years.

R: Okay. So that would have been in the early 1950s, 1953 or

T: Yes. So I worked there for that length of time.

R: What year did your husband pass away?

T: 1968.

R: So you went back to work before he died.

T: Yes. I was working at the bank when he died, and I worked two
years after he died. He died in 1968 and I retired in 1970.

R: You would have started back in 1954, I guess. There were a
lot of changes going on in the country in the late 1950s and
1960s: some of the presidents, some of the civil rights
movements and such. What are some of your recollections of
those times in this area?

T: Well, I will tell you. They were interesting experiences.
You know, when that civil rights law was passed I was working
at the bank. We had two porters who were black men and we had
a maid that was black. Up until that time, you see, they did
not have a separate water cooler, but they went to the kitchen
to get their water when they got ready for a drink. Mr. Uton
was our president then. When that law passed, he called a
meeting of all the employees and told us about the law. He
explained the law and said that he had to hire some black
people. He had to have a certain percentage of black help
because we were federally backed. So he said from now on we
do everything together. He said, "Now if there is anybody
that cannot abide by these rules, just make different
arrangements, because this is the law and we have to do the
law. We drink out of the same water coolers, and we eat at
the same table."

We had a lounge in the upstairs there where we all had our
lunch. We did not have but thirty minutes for lunch, but we
took our lunch. There was one man--that was a sight now--he

just was not going to do that. He was an officer in the
installment loan department and oh, he was hurt. It did not
make any difference with the porters or the maid, they did not
come in and try to eat with us. They did just like they had
been doing.

We got to talking one day sitting there at the table; I was
sitting at the head of the table and he was sitting right
here. He said, "All right now Tilly, if this porter comes in
here (his name was Ernest) and sits down by you to eat his
lunch, what are you going to do?" I said, "I am going to eat
my lunch." He said, "You mean you are not going to get up?"
I said, "Why, no." He said, "You would just sit there and not
say anything?" I said, "I would not say a thing to him unless
he tried to take my lunch, then I would tell him that that was
my lunch."

He was so mad he did not know what to do. He said, "You mean
you are going to drink water out of that water cooler down
there where they drink water from?" I said, "Why sure, if I
get thirsty. They get just as thirsty as we do. It does not
hurt. That water pours all the time. You do not touch it.
You keep your mouth away from that spigot there and you will
not touch it either." He was so mad. He got over it though,
I think.

They never did come in and eat at the same time. Of course
we did not eat all at the same time. I went to lunch at a
certain time, somebody had to relieve me at the switchboard.
Then the tellers would go one at a time. We did not all sit
at that table at the same time. He finally calmed down, and
he got to where he did not say anything about it and it worked
out all right.

R: Well, I know that I have met a few people when I was out at
Center Hill who were quite prejudiced, and I was wondering
about your husband. What was your husband's attitude with
most of the people out at the turpentine camp being black?

T: He did not treat them a bit different. You should have been
to his funeral. There was a third as many black people there
as there was white; and there was a big crowd at his funeral.
He had some wonderful black friends. They would do anything
in the world for him, and he would for them. He did not make
any difference, and Lester was the same way. They were just
brought up that way.

R: I know that is unusual from some people.

T: Yes, but you see, we had a lot of dealings with them in the
store. The black person's money bought just as much, and as

long as they behaved themselves, why he treated them just like
anybody else.

R: They were some of his best customers?

T: Yes, and they were friends. They would do anything for him
and he would do anything for them.

R: Where is your husband buried at?

T: Oakridge. Were you at Lester's funeral?

R: Yes, I was.

T: He is buried right next to Lester.

R: And that is right down the road here on Highway 234. Is that
a family cemetery?

T: Yes. That is the Rochelle cemetery. It is called Oakridge.
Old Governor [Edward A.] Perry that was governor of the state
for so long [1885-1889] donated that land. Down here where
Lester was burned, where he was working for that man, was the
old Perry home. That is where the governor lived. I mean
that was his home; he lived in Tallahassee of course. But,
anyway, that was the old Perry home down there where he was
working when he was burned.

R: Perry was from around this area?

T: Yes. He is buried in Oakridge.

R: Governor Perry?

T: Yes. Governor Perry. There is just a driveway between my
husband's grave and his grave in the cemetery.

R: How far back does that cemetery go?

T: I forgot how many acres that he donated, but it was for the
community of Rochelle. That was the way he donated it.
Somebody usually has charge of it, so far as keeping it
cleaned up and everything. It is a pretty good size, but I
have forgotten how many acres it is. Just anybody cannot bury
their dead there because it was specifically donated for the
people that lived in the community. There was somebody from
out of state, I do not remember who it was now, that had
somebody that lived down here and they wanted them buried down
there. I do not believe they were allowed to bury him there
because they did not live there. It was for the community.

R: It has been a community cemetery?

T: Yes. Just a community project. You ought to stop by there
sometime and read that historical monument. They had a
dedication to Perry down there a couple of years ago when
Karen was in her second year at the University. She saw her
history teacher down there that day at this historical
meeting. She went and spoke to him and he was very nice. He
was interested to talk with her down there. He told her that
if she could get some real old time news about this place down
here, and put that in her thesis, it would count so much on
her grade. I do not remember how much it was. But she was
all on fire to do it at that time, but she never did do it.

R: Now she is getting ready to try and start law school.

T: So she is doing that now.

R: She would probably be able to ask you a few different
questions than I am.

T: I told her this morning that you were coming. She called to
tell me about her mother and I told her that you were coming
to interview me about some things. She said, "He is? Now I
was going to do that." I said, "Yes, you said you were." But
she was just as interested as the next person you know, she
liked to go down there and go around where those old graves
were and see who is down there.

R: Lester, your son, died just a year and a half ago, was it not?

T: Two years, the twentieth of January.

R: That means that you only have the one surviving daughter. How
many of your brothers and sisters are left?

T: Just one sister.

R: This is the sister out at Campville?

T: Yes. She was the oldest girl and I was the youngest.

R: So, you and June and your sister, and of course Karen and
Steve, are the family you have around here. I know that you
are quite a religious person. You are a member of what

T: Northeast Church of Christ.

R: Was your family members of the Church of Christ?

T: Yes. My father was not, and this sister that lives in
Campville was not; she is a member of the Baptist Church. But

all the others are or were. My husband was not when I married
him, and we lived together forty years. We had our fortieth
wedding anniversary on the twentieth of August and he obeyed
the gospel the eighteenth of September after that. Then he
died. I guess this was back in 1968; he died in 1968. We had
been married forty years before he obeyed the gospel.

R: Where did you go to church when you first came down here?

T: At University Avenue Church of Christ.

R: Where is that located?

T: You know where the City Hall is?

R: Yes.

T: It was right across the street from City Hall, a little bitty
church there. You know there used to be a McGriff Surveying
office right there. That is where the University Avenue
Church was when I first began to worship there in 1924. My
mother was a member of the church, but my father was not. She
never could convert him, and she was very much against my
marrying my husband because of that. But I overruled her and
lived forty years without it. It was worth it, every bit.
I do not regret a bit of it, but it was hard. I would not
advise anybody to marry outside of the church. It is a hard

We raised two children and they are both members of the
church. When Lester and June told us they planned to get
married, they said, "Neither one of us are members of the
church." I said, "Well, that is fine. I do not have any
reservations at all about June. I think I can love her for
you just as much as needs be (because I had known her for so
long and she had been in our home so much). But there is just
one thing I want to ask of you: before you get married, I
want you both to obey the gospel. Do not start off on the
wrong foot." He had been bringing her to church and Sunday
school ever since they had been going together. She had not
been to any other church. She had just been going with him.
He would go and get her and bring her. She would spend the
weekend with us and he would take her to church. He really
convinced her.

Rex Kyker was the minister there at University Avenue. He was
an English professor at the University. They told me that on
Thursday, and on Friday he called Rex and asked him what time
he could go to lunch. He said he could go anytime Lester
wanted him to. He said, "What is up?" Lester said, "Well,
June and I want you to perform our wedding ceremony." Rex
said, "Oh!" Lester said, "Yes, but I want you to meet us down

at the church. We want to be baptized first and then we want
you to perform the ceremony right then." So he met them and
he said, "Can I bring my wife?" I will have to have two
witnesses." He said, "Alright, bring your wife." June had
her sister in town. He said, "I will get June's sister."

They went and got June's sister, and just met them at the
church. Rex called his wife and said to meet him down at the
church. He baptized them, and then he performed the wedding
ceremony right there. It turned out that he had have three
witnesses, and they called a man in off the street to witness
the ceremony, right there at the church building. June said,
"Now you know, I never thought about getting married with my
hair dripping." You know, she was right out of the
baptistery. They did not even change clothes. They just came
right out of the baptistery, and he performed the ceremony
right there. I did not know anything about it until Sunday
morning. Lester told them, "Now do not call mother; we will
be here Sunday."

R: He did not even tell you that they were getting married?

T: No, he did not tell me; and the preacher did not tell me.
They announced it at church, so everybody else knew the same
time as I did. That was kind of odd I always thought, but we
were so proud of them.

R: I guess you had a little bit of influence on them, because
they did what you asked.

T: I hope I did.

R: Have you gone to church there in Gainesville them most all
your life?

T: Yes. I was baptized in Alabama. I was baptized in Andalusia
when I was thirteen years old. That has been a long time.
I was baptized in a pond. They did not have a baptistery at
the church I attended, but there was what we called a pond.
They are more like small lakes here. I was baptized in that
lake; in that pond.

R: Well, that is about all I have to ask you this afternoon. Is
there any other things you want to say?

T: I think I told you everything that I can think of.

R: Well, I really appreciate you talking to me.

T: Well, I hope it will help you some way.

R: Oh, I am sure it will. I appreciate you giving me your time.

You go over that and correct my English please.

I sure will.

You will have a lot of correcting to do, I am sure.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs