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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: loleen Cody
Interviewer: Emily Ring
May 9, 1988
R: My name is Emily Ring, and I am sitting in the lovely apartment at Gaineswood
Condominiums of Mrs. M. D. Cody--Ioleen Cody--who is a long-time resident of
Gainesville and has been very active in Gainesville civic affairs for many years.
We are going to ask loleen to tell us about her life, and then we are going to put
it in the [oral history] archives of the University of Florida.
Ioleen, tell us when and where you were born and who your parents were.
C: I was born in Llano, Texas. That is in the hill country of Texas. My father and
mother were Wallace and Cora Watkins. My mother was prominent in the Culture
Club there. And my uncle, who owned one of the nicest and biggest houses in town,
died and left his home to the Culture Club.
R: Wonderful! What part of Texas is that?
C: In the hill country. That is out northwest of Austin. I have a thing in there [that
is] framed. The state legislature drew up resolutions at [my father's] death, and he
lived to be 100 [years old].
C: Mother lived to be ninety-eight. But they were together, and they had good health
and enjoyed life to the last minute.
C: I went to Yvonne and Charles Dell (my daughter and son-in-law) and I went out
to see my father. I guess he had had a little stroke; he was in a nursing home. [It
was] a very nice one at home with his own furniture and his own television, radio,
and everything. He fell out of bed, so I am sure he had a small stroke. So we went
out to see him. We got there, and he was just in a perfect temper because he could
not get out of bed and take us to dinner that evening. He insisted that we go to a
Mexican restaurant, which Texas, of course, is full of.
R: How old was he at this time?
C: [He was] 100. He was 100 [years old] in July the summer before, and this was in
January. He wanted us all to go to the club and sign his name and have a Mexican
dinner. He said to me, "Now you go over there and take Charles."
R: So your father was upset because he could not get out of bed and take you to
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C: [Yes], and there he was over 100 years old. But his brain was never impaired. He
really just wore out and died. We left, I think, on a Wednesday. We got home, and
we were home a day, maybe two days, and my brother called and said he had passed
away in the night. So Yvonne and I got on the plane and went back to Texas.
R: Now, what business was he in?
C: He was in the insurance business. My grandfather died--his father--and left his
mother with six children.
R: What was your grandfather's name?
R: He was also a Texan?
C: No, he was Welsh. His parents had came from Wales, but he had come from, I
think North Carolina, to Texas. His wife--my grandmother Watkins--was a
McGehee. And my great-grandfather McGehee came from Virginia to North
Carolina and [from] North Carolina to Montgomery, Alabama, with 150 slaves. He
and another man built the railroad into Montgomery and the first plank highway in
Alabama. I understand that there is a monument to him somewhere in Montgomery.
He was quite a guy.
R: I remember seeing a plank highway when I was a child in Mississippi, and it was
better than the mud.
C: Well, I guess it was. I have never seen one. Anyway, my Grandfather Watkins
died, and my Grandmother Cody, who was the daughter of this McGehee . .
D: Mother, wait a minute. You said your grandmother Cody.
C: Well, I meant my grandmother Watkins.
R: Let me say that Yvonne Cody Dell, Ioleen's daughter, has come in, and she is
helping out and listening.
C: Well, when their father died, my father was the youngest of the six children. My
grandmother died not too long after that, and they all got some money. My father--
who was, I think, eighteen at the time--decided he would go to Chicago to the fair
with some of his money. His brothers, who were older, tried to keep him at home.
But nothing was doing. He went to the fair and spent part of his money.
Well, the two brothers just did not know a thing about business. They were all
young, but two brothers decided they would go in the grocery business, and the
oldest brother decided that he would go in the hardware business. My father came
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back from his trip [during] which he had had a wonderful time and had met some
people in Chicago. They took him in and showed him all of Chicago and a
wonderful time. My older uncle, Uncle George, decided that my father should go
in the hardware business with him, which he did. They had a very nice business
and, I guess you would say, prospered, [although] not to a great extent but as one
does in a small town.
Then my father took on an insurance business and had his office in the hardware
store. Then they decided that they would . well, my uncle was not well. This
was many years later, and [he] was in the hospital in San Antonio and was not going
to recover maybe, and my father sold the business. They were so close that when
he went to San Antonio, my Uncle George said something about the business. My
father said, "George, I sold that hardware store." George did not say a word. It was
all right [that] my father had sold the business. In the meantime, they had bought
a bankrupt general merchandise store. Neither one of them knew calico from linen.
R: That was in San Antonio?
C: No, that was in Llano. So my father was still trying to run that [general store] and
[trying to] run his insurance business. My brother, who lived in Austin, had married
in the meantime and had a son who had an allergy for cedar trees. Austin is full of
cedar, so he had to leave Austin. My father gave him the general merchandise store,
and he just kept his insurance business.
R: Now, what was your brother's name?
C: His name was Jim.
R: Did you have any other brothers?
C: Yes, I had another brother named Clifford who was a medical officer in the navy.
He got through with his internship in the 1920s.
R: Were you the eldest of the children?
C: Yes, I was the oldest [living child]. I had another brother who died with influenza
in the first World War. He was eighteen or nineteen, I have forgotten which.
R: Now, what year were you born, Ioleen?
C: Oh, I hate to tell you. I never tell my age!
R: Well, you do not have to tell us.
C: You know what I say? A woman who will tell her age will tell anything. [laughter]
C: If you do not tell it, you do not have to act it.
R: That is a good idea. I approve of that. I am afraid I am very prone to tell people
my age. Maybe it is not a good idea. Anyway, you got started off in the hill country
C: Yes. And I went to school [there]. The town was a small town, and when I was
thirteen, I was sent to San Antonio to a boarding school.
R: What was that? Do you remember the name of it?
C: Yes, it was Westmoreland College. But the name has been changed two or three
times. And there I stayed until I married.
R: How many years did you stay there?
C: It went from the preschool, I guess you would call it, or the first grade, maybe, on
up through the second year of college. I was a senior the year I married, and [I]
promised my parents I would continue going to school because Derrell, at the time,
was teaching school in a college in west Texas.
R: Was that unusual to go to school all the way from kindergarten through [college at
the same school]?
C: Well, we were in a small town.
R: I see. There were no public schools nearby.
C: Yes, there was a public school there, and my father was chairman of the school
board. But I do not know why [we attended the boarding school]. Everybody in
town sent their children off to school when they were thirteen or fourteen years
old. I do not why they did it.
R: But you were not younger. I thought you went when you were [in the early grades].
C: No, I was fourteen. In what grade would you be at fourteen? Sixth or seventh or
eighth, something like that.
R: Yes, about the eighth grade. I understand. I thought you [had] said you went much
earlier than that.
C: No. I meant to say that the school had some students that were much younger.
There were, I guess, seventy-five girls in the school.
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R: Do you remember any of the subjects that you studied?
C: Oh, just regular routine studying. [I] started off just like you would in any school,
except we had a course in culture and a course in manners and a course in charm.
R: Did you have a course in geography?
C: Oh, yes.
R: I had geography from the sixth grade. Now they say that the students who go
through public school do not know any geography.
C: I understand that.
R: They do not know where the United States is on the world map. We have got to
do something about that.
C: Well, they have changed everything so that I do not know. But when I went to
school, for heaven sakes, it was so many years ago that it was just reading, writing,
and arithmetic. And you went through the whole thing down through geography and
R: And American history.
C: Yes. English and history and geography.
R: You married rather young?
R: At what age?
C: I was just twenty.
R: I see. And you had come home by then, or were you still in school?
C: No. I became engaged while I was in school, and I was married during the
R: And your husband's name was?
C: Madison Derrell Cody.
R: [Derrell] was a family name?
C: Yes, he was named for his grandfather Cody, who was from Covington, Georgia.
R: So the Codys had come from Georgia.
C: Yes. Derrell's mother was born and raised in Texas, and her mother, during the
Civil War, had just built a new home. They had not finished the second story, and
she gave the lumber that was stacked up somewhere on the ground ...
R: Was this in Atlanta?
C: No, this was in Georgetown, Texas. She gave the lumber for coffins for the dead
in the Civil War. Derrell's grandfather--his mother's father--was a lawyer and a
district judge. They lived in this big [house]. It was not a colonial house as we
know it, but it was a colonial house. It had a rock post that went up [to support]
the second floor instead of the usual columns. He held court under trees very often.
In the "good ol' days" out west it was man eat dog and dog eat man.
R: [He held court] in the town square [or] at the house up under the trees?
C: Well, he traveled over a district.
R: A circuit, yes.
C: But Derrell's Grandmother Hughes--[was very sick]. Indians were all around, and
she was an invalid. (She had tuberculosis.) She was in bed reading one evening
after dark with her children around her, and they heard this grunt. It was a big
Indian chief. It must have scared the living [daylights out of her]. It did scare the
children nearly to death. But he had been watching [them from outside] the window,
and she had been trying to teach one of her daughters to sew. Of course, they did
not know what he was talking about. Finally, he made signs like that, so she caught
on [to what he wanted]. So she gave him the thimble and the needle, and he went
home and left them alone.
R: He was quite pleased with that, I will bet.
C: Oh, that is what he came for and they put him down.
R: Do you remember what tribe of Indians he could have been with?
C: There were Cherokees out there. I do not know what tribe that man might have
been from, but they were more civilized by that time than they had been [previously].
R: About what year would that have been?
C: Oh, heavens, I do not know. I guess it was when Derrell's mother was young, and
she would be ...
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D: She was born in 1856.
R: Just before the Civil War.
C: Yes, during the Civil War or along that time. The next morning this Indian chief
sent his squaw to the house to learn how to thread the needle and get some thread
and use the whole thing.
R: There were friendly relationships with the Indians.
C: Derrell's grandmother taught the Indian how to sew.
R: Did they make those beautiful baskets then? I suppose they did.
C: Oh, a few of them made them out of mesquite. We had mesquite and willow, and
they made them out of mesquite and willow. We did not have big trees like they
have around here.
R: Well, now, when you married [was] your husband much older than you?
C: He was nearly six years [older].
R: I see. And then by that time you were through with school.
C: Well, Derrell had rheumatic fever when he was a child, and he was treated for
typhoid fever. It left him with a heart murmur and palpitation. He had been a
chemist with the Texas Oil Company after he graduated from school. He had a
heart flurry of some sort, and they told him he should quit that and get into
something with less stress and strain. They suggested teaching, so this [the year
we married] was his first year.
R: Where had he gone to school?
C: Well, he had graduated from Southwestern University and had done graduate work
at the University of Chicago. But of all of the things that have stress and strain,
[teaching is perhaps one of the worst].
C: But he did not run into that, so we came down here. I do not remember anything
about it. In fact, I do not remember much about the University [of Florida] when
we came here.
R: Now, in what subject did he take his degree?
C: He took it in chemistry, and I do not know how he got into botany and bacteriology.
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R: At what university did he study that?
C: At the University of Chicago. And he did summer work at the University of
Wisconsin one summer.
R: And what year did he come here to this faculty?
C: In the fall of 1919.
R: So tell us what Gainesville was like.
C: Well, Gainesville was a very small town. I do not remember, [but] I think there
were 3,000 students at the University.
D: No, Mother. That was [not until after] World War II that they had 3,000.
R: That is right, Yvonne. They must have had much fewer at that time. Now, did you
live over near Roper Street?
R: Not at first.
C: No. At first, I came with great ideas about where I wanted to live. I wanted a cute
little apartment with chintz draperies and all sorts of things. Dr. Townes R. Leigh
was head of the chemistry department at the time. Derrell had gone to school to
him. So Dr. Leigh, who had been here quite awhile, took me out in his car to look
at apartments. Well, there was no such thing as an apartment house. There were
people in town who had big houses (their children were gone), so they had taken
maybe two rooms or three upstairs and made an apartment. They were simply awful,
I hate to admit, and I would not take any of them. Finally, Dr. Leigh looked at me
and said, "What were you looking for?" So I told him, and he said, "My dear child,
there is no such thing as that in Gainesville." We were staying at the White House
Hotel, and every day Derrell would come home from the University and he would
say: "We have got to get out of this hotel. We cannot afford it." Mrs. [Albert A.]
Murphree had a nephew who lived in Houston.
R: [Her husband], Dr. Murphree, was president of the University [1909-1927].
C: Yes. Mrs. Murphree was named Henderson; she was from Tallahassee. We knew
W.B. Henderson, a nephew of hers, in Houston. He thought that Gainesville and
the University of Florida would just be the place for Derrell, of course, because of
Dr. Murphree, and it was. And Dr. Murphree was certainly a gentleman and a
scholar and a nice person. So Derrell went to Dr. Murphree, and he said, "If we do
not find a place to live, I am going to lose a wife and go broke."
- 8 -
R: At that time [were] the Murphrees living in the big house at the end of [Northeast]
D: They lived on University Avenue. I remember the house.
C: They lived in a shingle apartment house on University Avenue.
R: It was an apartment house?
C: Yes, but it was all full, and we could not afford it anyway.
D: I remember the house.
R: Yvonne, do you remember exactly where it was located?
D: Well, it was located somewhere between ... You know, all of the landmarks are
gone. Do you know where the women's club used to stand? [So] you know where
just past the railroad tracks [going west] there is a small shopping mall on the right?
R: The Women's Club was next to the [First] Presbyterian Church, was it not?
D: No. Remember where [the original] GHS [Gainesville High School] was?
R: Oh, yes.
D: OK. The women's club was across the street from GHS, and somewhere between
that point and . [Do] you know where now there is the Gator Lodge that a
woman turned [into a place] for football players? She built it, initially, for football
D: It was somewhere within [that area].
C: Before the railroad track?
D: No, past it [coming] from downtown.
R: Well, that is 6th [Street] there.
D: That is right. [It was] between 6th [Street] and let us say maybe about 10th [Street],
somewhere in there. See, it has long since been torn down, and many, many things
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have been there. The Owl--which is gone many, many years--stood about where it
was. Everything changes so that it is [hard to remember].
C: Well, the Murphrees were living in that apartment, but soon afterwards they bought
that house over in east Gainesville and lived there.
R: The one where the Tigerts lived? [John J. Tigert, president, University of Florida,
D: Oh, no. That was built when the Tigerts were here.
C: This was in back of the [First United] Methodist Church. Do you know where the
old Bishop house is?
C: Do you know where the little city park is?
C: Well, it was near that. Of course, now they have changed the name of the streets,
so I do not even remember the name of the street [on which it was located].
R: It might have been 5th Avenue.
C: No. It could have been, [but] I do not know. Anyway, the house is still there.
R: I expect Dr. [Samuel] Proctor knows exactly where it was.
C: He probably does.
R: So you had to get out of the White House [Hotel]?
C: Well, when Derrell went to Dr. Murphree, he persuaded the Esslingers . [do]
you know Marie Clayton?
C: Well, her father was Mr. Esslinger, and they had a bakery downtown and lived
where the Presbyterian student house is now.
R: I see.
C: Dr. Murphree persuaded the Esslingers to rent us a room and persuaded Mrs.
Ramsey, who was feeding boys, [to provide us with meals]. She had three
fraternities: the KAs [Kappa Alpha], the SAEs [Sigma Alpha Epsilon], I believe,
- 10 -
and the Phi Delta Thetas. (My husband was Phi Delta Theta.) Mrs. Ramsey took
us for meals, and I was the only woman there.
R: Now, Mrs. Ramsey had her boarding house in what location?
C: Right across the street from the campus, and there were two houses there that were
built just alike, if you remember. I think they are still there.
D: One of them might be [part of the English department]. You know, the English
department, I think, got a house and had offices for graduates in it. I believe it is
R: That is not the black history house, is it? No.
D: Well, it might be. You know, we are going back when I quit teaching, which is in
the mid-1970s. At that point it was [part of the English department].
R: Well, there were several boarding houses on [University Avenue].
C: Well, everything in town had rooms to rent. Anyway, we rented the room from
Mrs. Esslinger. We got there, and I hate to tell this, but ... we went up to Mrs.
Ramsey's the next morning for breakfast. In our part of Texas we ate rice. I had
never seen grits before, and the boys would fill their plates with grits, put the bacon
and eggs over that, then poor syrup all over it, [and] then dig in and just eat it.
R: Well that is terrifying.
C: I just sat and looked. I almost missed breakfast. Anyway, that impressed me. So
I walked back to the Esslingers, which was just a block down the street, and Dr.
Esslinger had a sister who had a case of arrested development. She was sitting on
the porch swing, and [she] looked at me, grinning, and I realized that she was not
normal. I was scared to go in, and the Esslingers were both working in their bakery
downtown. I was afraid to go in the house, so I sat on the porch all morning.
[laughter] I walked back up to Mrs. Ramsey's to meet Derrell for lunch, and I said:
"I am scared to go in the house. There is a crazy woman down there." [laughter]
He said it was not so, and I took him down there during the time we were at lunch.
I had sat on the steps and she sat in the porch swing until noon. Derrell went down
there and he saw her, and he went back to Dr. Murphree and said, "I will tell you
the truth. I do not know what is the matter with Ioleen, but she will not stay at
Esslinger's [house with his sister there]." Dr. Murphree said: "Oh, that is just Aunt
Annie. She is perfectly harmless." But I would not go in the house by myself, which
D: How old were you by then?
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C: I was twenty years old.
D: Mother, no.
C: Well, I was about twenty. I was twenty-one when we came to Gainesville.
D: No, because you had gone to west Texas and you had gone to Gulfport.
C: Well, still, I was twenty-one when I came to Gainesville.
D: Well, you could not have gone all those places in one year.
R: How did she happen to go to Gulfport?
D: [She went] because Father taught there in the military academy.
C: Yes, during the war, the army would not take him [for combat duty], so they put
him in a military school.
R: Yes, I spent a large part of my life down on the Mississippi Gulf coast.
C: Did you? Oh, I loved it. It was so pretty.
R: Yes, it was a lovely college town. Gulf Park, did he teach there at that college?
D: No, Mother, it was the military school. Gulf Park is a women's school.
R: It is probably coeducational now.
C: What was the name of that school? It was a boys' military school.
R: Yes, I remember. Right.
C: I have forgotten the name of it.
D: I have, too. We used to ride by it on the way to Texas. And you know, Father
taught in Clarendon, in west Texas, at the same time Georgia O'Keefe ..
C: Was that called Gulfcoast Academy?
D: Gulfcoast Academy.
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D: He taught in Clarendon, Texas, when Georgia O'Keefe was teaching there. [Georgia
O'Keefe (1887-19 ), American abstract painter of natural objects, Ed.]
R: Where in Texas?
C: In Clarendon. That is out in the panhandle of Texas.
D: I happened to be reading a biography of Georgia O'Keefe, and realized they were
there at the same time. And I said, "Mother, do you remember Georgia O'Keefe?"
[She said,] "No." [laughter]
C: Well, look, that was a long time ago.
R: She was not famous then.
D: That is right. The reason I asked you [about your being worried about Aunt Annie]
was I was so surprised at your timidity and I thought you must have been in your
mid-twenties by then.
C: No. I was twenty-one because I registered to vote the first year we were here.
R: Well, none of us realized much about mental illness until today.
C: No. Then Dr. Murphree persuaded the Willoughbys, who lived just [in] back of
the Esslingers [to let us rent from them]. Do you know who the Willoughbys were?
R: I do not know.
C: He taught at the University. In what field, I do not know. Alice Parrish is the
R: Oh, I know Alice Parrish.
C: Well, it was in her home. And we still ate at Mrs. Ramsey's. The first evening we
went to Mrs. Ramsey's for dinner, some boys were coming down the steps. We were
sitting [and] waiting for dinner to be announced. One of them said to the other,
"What is the name of that couple in here?" And this boy said, "I do not know but
they are from the west somewhere. They have a western name." [laughter] So Cody
was a western name. We stayed there [at the Willoughbys] until the spring. Then
we rented an apartment that some people had built in the upstairs of their house.
R: We stopped a moment because of the yard machine, but maybe we can hear above
it. We are talking about Ioleen Cody's early days in Gainesville and living in a
boarding house and having meals in another boarding house. Ioleen, when did you
finally get into a home of your own?
- 13 -
C: Well, after we lived in the Haigler house awhile, and I think the Phi Delta Theta
boys (there were four here) thought we had rented a chapter house because they
ate with us half the time. George Dell had a grocery store at the time.
R: Tell us where that was.
C: It was downtown on the square. I had never kept house before and knew very little.
I just did not know anything about cooking. So Mrs. Haigler, who was an excellent
cook, just said, "Well, trade with George Dell, and he will tell you every morning
what to have." And he did!
R: And you would just call on the telephone.
C: I would just call on the telephone.
R: Those were the good old days.
C: He had a colored man and one cart with a horse and a seatbelt up there so
somebody could ride with the driver, and he would send him around to take orders.
So I ordered everything he suggested. At the time, we were paying $50 a month for
rent for the apartment, which was very small. Derrell was making $150 [a month]
at the University, and my first grocery bill came. It was $98.
C: Well, you can imagine my reaction. I would cry a little, then cry a little more. I
just did not know what we would do.
C: So I spread it out on the mantle. When Derrell came in the door, I burst into tears
again that evening. I said, "You just look on that mantle and see." I thought he
would have a stroke. About that time, some of these boys came in, and I was still
weeping. They said, "What is the matter?" So I told them to look at the bill. So
they said, "Well, we will go get something and cook dinner this evening." And they
did. We finally got it paid. We had to write home for money, of course. We paid
the grocery bill, and I learned a lot. I learned on the hard road of experience, I will
R: Do you remember what it cost to eat in the boarding house?
C: I have not the remotest idea. I do not know. But Mrs. Ramsey was feeding
university students, and it was very cheap, comparatively speaking. As a matter of
fact, everything was cheaper then than it is now.
- 14 -
R: She probably served very copious meals.
C: Well, she served a lot of starchy things. Yet, the Primrose Grill opened not too
many years after that, and you could go there in the evening and get a T-bone steak
with drink and dessert for fifty cents. I remember that very distinctly. And Mr.
Wynn, who owned the Primrose Grill, made fresh, homemade ice cream every day,
and baked a cake every day. So you would have ice cream and cake for dessert, or
pie, or anything you wanted.
R: And Southern cooked vegetables.
C: [It was] wonderful food! [It was] much better than I could cook. [laughter] So we
ate there a lot.
D: Why do you think your bill was so high that first month?
C: I just ordered everything he told me to. I ordered everything canned. I do not
R: Well, Yvonne, did you not marry into the Dell family? You should be able to tell
us why it was so expensive. [laughter]
D: I have no idea. That was long before I was born. I wonder if it was because you
were feeding all the other people.
C: Well, I was feeding four boys. I have to tell you something funny about those boys,
too. When a houseparty weekend would come along, they would all want to have
a date, and Derrell and I would rent another room and keep the girls for these boys.
R: They came from out of town?
C: Yes, because this was just a boys' university at the time. I would always say, "Now,
do not stop downstairs because we have nothing to do with the downstairs of the
house. We only have this part up here." Well, this one boy came in one evening
and he wanted to kiss the girl goodnight, and she put up a fight. Mr. Haigler
charged out of his bedroom in his nightshirt and said, "By God, kiss him, and let us
all go to bed." [laughter] I never heard such a stampede in my life as that couple
[made] coming up the steps. Then the boy was afraid to leave and go downstairs.
He was afraid Mr. Haigler would say something to him.
R: He was the bouncer?
C: Yes. We laughed about that and we have laughed about it for years. Finally we
rented a larger apartment upstairs in Dr. DePass's house. His children were all
gone but Marie, and he made an apartment in the upstairs of his house. He and
his family lived downstairs.
- 15 -
R: What street was that?
C: That was on 1st Street.
D: [That is] not where the DePass house was when I came along.
C: No. It was right across from the Methodist church. It has been torn down in the
meantime. Do you know where the Graham house was?
C: The Waldo house was between the Graham house and the DePass house. The
DePass house was on that corner. I have forgotten what is on there now. Then
Derrell had a year's leave of absence to go to the University of Chicago. That was
the year Yvonne was born.
R: What year was that?
D: I see you are mighty free with my age, where you were not free with yours.
C: She was born Christmas Eve in Llano, Texas. Before [the delivery,] I had never
seen a doctor at home. I had been going to a doctor in Austin.
R: So you went back to Texas for Yvonne to be born?
C: Well, my father and mother just could not stand for me to stay in Chicago. So I
went back to Texas and I went back to the doctor who I had known for a long time.
He had made arrangements for me to go into the hospital in Austin. There was a
terrible blizzard in Texas, and I started this episode in the evening about seven
o'clock and could not get anywhere. [I] had to stay at home.
D: I thought you told me I came early.
C: You did. You came a month early.
R: And you came at home.
D: And I was an "episode." Did you get that?
R: I got that, yes. You were an "episode."
C: Well, she was an episode, because ...
- 16 -
R: But you did not have any serious trouble.
C: No. But I had the baby in one room and all the neighbors sat in another one.
R: The doctor was there?
C: Yes, he was there. We had a wild night, but it all worked out all right.
R: Good. What year did you finally get into your own house here in Gainesville, and
where was it located?
C: You know the Spanish house that the Days [James Westbay, professor of law] lived
in on the Boulevard? [It is] a two-story white house with the bay windows. [We
were] right next door to that. We lived there thirty-five years.
R: That was a lovely location. Did you build that house or did you buy it?
C: We bought it. Some people named Heinberg built it and lived in it a year. We,
in the meantime, had moved back to the Haigler house.
R: Now, the Days were in the law school?
C: Yes. He was in law school.
R: And the Matherlys [Walter J. Matherly, first dean of College of Commerce and
Journalism] were across the street?
C: The Matherlys were over on across the street, yes. Closer to the duck bond. See,
we looked down the Boulevard from an angle. We lived there. After Derrell's
death, I lived there for some time. Then they put the Santa Fe [Community] College
over there where the Thomas Hotel is. In the meantime, Gainesville had grown.
R: After the war, it took a big growth spurt.
C: Yes. There was so much meanness, and that is when everything started going the
other way, you know, from being nice and quiet and easy and nobody afraid.
C: I am scared of the dark anyway. So finally Yvonne gave me this dog for protection.
A man who owned the Love for Sale store downtown was training dogs, and I had
him train this dog for a watchdog.
R: Good. He is still with you?
- 17 -
R: He is how old?
C: He will be sixteen in June. I moved down here [to Gaineswood] with him when
he was a year old. I will have been here fifteen years in October.
R: It must have been quite a new building at that time.
C: It was not even finished when I came out to look at it. I looked at everything in
town. The woman came to the door of the house one evening. In the meantime,
the Days had both died, and there was a young couple named Bednarek. He [Dr.
Alexander Bednarek] is head of the math department at the University now. They
lived next door in the Day house. Anyway, the woman came to the door late in the
afternoon and asked me if the house was for sale. I said, "Well, I have not thought
about it." She said: "I like it better than any house I have seen. Would you show
it to me?" I let her in and showed her the downstairs. I finally got a little nervous
about it and did not take her upstairs. She explained that she was getting a divorce
from her husband. She lived in Bradenton and was moving up here to be near the
doctors at Shands. I do not know what her ailment was. Anyway, she left. I went
out in the backyard and told Al Bednarek. Al said: "Ioleen, you do not know what
on earth [that woman was up to.] What do you know? You did not even know her.
You told her the price of the house. You do not know what the house is worth.
You are crazy!"
R: So you did not go through a real estate agent.
C: I did finally. The thing that happened was I had given her an option on the house.
Al said: "Ioleen, you are crazier than I thought you were." He just worried himself
down about it. Anyway, the woman did not call me before the option was out, and
I was leaving to go to North Carolina.
R: How did you know what price to put on it?
C: Out of the blue, I named a price. I did not know one thing on earth, and Al was
right. I was crazy. I went on to North Carolina with Annie Pound and Lavinia and
Bob Price. We went up there and stayed in Ann and Addison's condominium. Just
before I left, the woman [told me her] husband did not give her the settlement she
thought she was going to get [and therefore she] could not buy the house. So she
went to the real estate agent and told them that she had looked at my house and she
wanted something like that. Of course, I had never listed it. They descended upon
R: I can imagine. Did you get more money than you had first said?
C: Yes. $15,000 more because they had a multiple listing.
- 18 -
R: I see.
C: After the time I got back from North Carolina, they had the multiple listing [and]
put the price on the house. It was sold! I just was flabbergasted because I had no
place to go. I had not even thought about anything else.
R: This building was not finished.
C: No. The walls were up, but the inside was not all finished. Dr. [Ward D.] Noyes,
who is at Shands Hospital, had bought the place and a man in Tallahassee thought
he bought it, and they were quarreling about it. There I sat with my roof going away
from my head and nowhere to go.
R: You were a gardener. You hated to leave.
C: Yes, I did. I miss the house. On the other hand, I do feel very secure here. So I
had to get out and find a place to live.
C: And I looked all over town. I talked to Dr. [Linton] Ali Grinter [later dean of
Graduate School] about it. I talked to [William A.] Bill Shands [state senator] and
a lot of people who were friends who had offered to help me and all that sort of
thing. In the meantime, Derrell was dead, and I was by myself.
R: What year did he die?
C: He died in 1960.
R: Of a heart attack?
C: Yes. So Ali Grinter said [something like], "Buy out in Gaineswood because that is
built better than many places between Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta." So I came out
here to look. I was going to buy the apartment across the hall, and found out that
Annie [Pound] had bought it the day before. She had gotten scared at her house.
She had had an incident that had frightened her. So I took this place. I cannot go
into heights because they do something to me. There were only two apartments
available--this one and the one in that wing over there. Without thinking about
exposure, I said, "Well, I will just take this one." So they finished it right away.
R: I see. This is on the east side.
C: Well, it is north. But that is the east that way, and this is north. So, in a month,
I had to give up the house. I moved out here and I do not know what I did with
- 19 -
half of my things, and the other half I gave away. Then I moved out here with too
many things. Finally it all shook down and here I am.
R: Well, you are in a nice, safe place. Ioleen, tell us about your activities in the
Gainesville . .
C: I ought to tell about Mrs. Leigh and the University.
R: That is right. We were going to talk about Mrs. Townes Leigh, who is quite . .
C: Dr. Leigh was head of the chemistry department, and Mrs. Leigh was a great
R: Oh, yes.
C: So the first thing she organized was a University faculty women's card group--bridge
group. Dr. and Mrs. Leigh had bought a small farm in east Gainesville with a
beautiful, beautiful oak tree on it. Mrs. Leigh immediately named the farm Fair
R: It is now on 5th Avenue in the northeast [part of town].
C: Yes. It is now a subdivision. But anyway, when they had bought it, it had been a
little farm and they were growing melons and corn and that sort of thing. So Mrs.
Leigh decided she would have the first bridge club meeting. [In attendance were]
[wife of the University president] Mrs. [Jennie Henderson] Murphree and Alberta
Murphree [daughter of the University president] and Mrs. Leigh and Mrs. Matherly
(I believe). Anyway, there were eight of us, and a lot of other people on the faculty
were perfectly furious because she had not invited them, particularly Mrs. Trusler.
R: Oh, I can imagine it now. Dr. [Harry R.] Trusler was head of the law college [dean,
C: Well, anyway, she had the bridge club, and I won the prize. Guess what it was.
C: They grew citron melons out there on the farm. [My prize was a citron melon, and]
it was about this long and about this big around, with a red ribbon tied on its tail.
R: And you are supposed to make it into a gourd.
C: I did not have a car. I was walking. [laughter] So on the way home, I threw it in
a vacant lot.
R: You were very disappointed.
C: No, I was not disappointed. I was so amused I could hardly be decent when I had
this heavy melon to haul. Anyway, I left. [I] thanked her and we all left and when
we got out of sight, we almost went to pieces. It was so funny. Here was this thing
with a little red ribbon tied on that little twisted stem. So I pitched it over in this
lot. I got home; it was late in the afternoon. The phone rang. Mrs. Leigh was
going to come over and show me how to make citron pickle or something [from the]
melon. [laughter] I told her I was sorry, [but] that I was not going to be home for
a while. Derrell got a flashlight and went over and found the melon.
R: It was a wonder you found it.
C: It was not too bad because I could not throw it very far.
R: I thought you were going to say you were supposed to make a gourd out of it.
C: No. I was supposed to make citron pickle or something out of it.
R: I see. Well, she was quite a character.
C: Yes. She was definitely a character. Anyway, we got it home, and it had been split
open. So before she could get there I peeled it real quick and cut it up. I wasted
more sugar with that thing than I could afford. I got her out of the way though,
because she kept asking me about it for years. And I would tell her, "Oh, it was very
R: Did she organize the University Women's Club?
C: Yes. Then she organized the University Women's Club, which met [in] some
temporary buildings on the campus that had been put there during the first world
war for students, I guess. We met in one of those the first few times. I think all
the women on the faculty were invited for that. It went on. It is still in existence.
R: Yes, indeed.
C: [It is] very active.
R: And recently we had the fiftieth anniversary of the University Women's Club. And
all the former presidents were honored. You were there.
C: I was there.
R: Each got a red rose.
C: We each got a beautiful red rose.
- 21 -
R: It was at Holiday Inn West. It was a beautiful location, and we had a fashion show.
I believe practically all the former presidents were there.
C: There were fifteen of us there, or something like that. I think I was the oldest one.
[I was] the first one.
R: You were first in the line.
C: The line was made up as the years went by.
R: The receiving line was very impressive.
C: It was a very nice meeting.
R: Yes, it was. Of course, the University was very small then, and the faculty was very
small. What were some of the things that the University Women's Club was
interested in at that time?
C: I do not remember anything except the fact ...
R: Did we do scholarships then?
C: Mrs. Leigh had a very formal business meeting, according to Hoyle, and I do not
know how I ever got into the thing, but I was program chairman.
R: Was Arah Heath the historian? Arah Heath played an important role, and I do
not remember just what she did.
C: That was later on. I do not remember any of her activity in the thing.
R: Do you remember the Harvest Moon Suppers?
C: Indeed I do. And you should ask . oh, what is his name? His wife is an
Episcopalian, and her name is Ann, I think. I cannot think of his name. You see,
that is part of old age. You forget names.
R: Oh, I do, too. You might remember it later.
C: The Harvest Moon Supper was in the fall, and it got to be a regular event. All the
faculty, men, women, and children were invited.
R: Do you recall the occasion when Mrs. Leigh asked each of us to bring a little
package of soil from our home state? Was it from our home state?
C: I do not know. I do not remember that.
R: We were going to put it all together or something. It was a very sentimental
C: I think that is when they had the Plaza of the Americas.
R: We had it in the old student union building [in] Bryant Hall. That is where we did
C: Yes, eventually. But that was not built at the time she organized this.
R: Right. Well, I did not come until 1938, so I do not know the history of the club
before that time. But by the time I came, we did have the Harvest Moon Supper
every October, and we had quite a program. I remember Arah Heath reading her
poems. I believe she read her poems. It was a very command performance. You
did not dare cut it.
D: You know there are minutes somewhere. Remember the time Mrs. Carroll got me
to write that show? She somehow produced the minutes that went way back to the
beginning. They had a scrapbook.
R: We still have the scrapbook, and photographs, too. There is a room in the bottom
floor of the auditorium which is set aside for the archives of the University Women's
Club. [It is] right there under the auditorium. That was done just a few years ago.
C: I had wonderful experiences being program chairman because I met some very
interesting people and had some very interesting experiences.
R: Tell us about some of those.
C: Remember the Rudolph Weavers?
R: Oh, yes. He was [in] architecture.
C: Yes. Mrs. Weaver was a professional pianist.
R: That is right.
C: She had had a write-up in the paper, so I asked her if she would play for the
University Women's Club. We met in the afternoons. Yes, she would. She was
very gracious about it, but we would have to meet in the auditorium. That was the
new building at the time. She asked the Hamptons, who were neighbors of mine
(and I knew them very well). Mrs. W. B. Hampton was, I think, the only person in
town who had a chauffeur.
R: [Are they of the] Wade Hamptons?
- 23 -
D: This is old Mrs. Hampton.
C: This is old Mrs. Hampton. Wade's grandmother.
D: That is her grandmother.
R: Oh. Wade's grandmother. All right.
D: The current Wade's grandmother.
C: [They had] a Packard car. So Mrs. Weaver asked Mrs. Hampton if she would send
her out in that car with the chauffeur. Mrs. Hampton said she would. So up drives
Mrs. Weaver in the Hampton's car with [a] chauffeur. The piano was moved this
way an inch and this way a half an inch, and finally, it was all right. She played one
piece and [received] great applause from the audience, who dared not to applaud
loudly, and she left. She would not even play an encore.
R: She only played one piece?
C: One piece. And I thought, "Well, good Lord!" I got up and said I was sorry we
did not have more of a program, but next time, I would sing, [laughter] that I would
give them all an encore if they wanted it. [laughter] Anyway, we got through that.
R: It is too bad Yvonne was not old enough then to put on a skit.
C: That is right. Then one time, there was a man named Royal Dixon, who had written
a great number of books. The first time I had ever heard of a homosexual man was
this Royal Dixon. He had his lover with him, and they had rented a place out on
one of the lakes. He and his pal were both botanists, so Derrell got to know them.
So I asked him if he would make a talk. He was real prominent all over the country
at the time.
D: I remember him.
C: So he did, and I had the Tigerts and I have forgotten who [else]. But I remember
the Tigerts distinctly. I had a luncheon before the meeting, and Dr. and Mrs. Tigert
were here at that time. He made one of the most interesting talks.
R: Did he not write some books?
C: He wrote a half dozen books on botany and plants and things. They invited us out
to the lake where they had rented a house for a Sunday dinner. They had a sandhill
crane that they had tamed and named Andy Gump [a cartoon character of the time].
Andy Gump was just like a dog or a cat. He just followed you around and enjoyed
himself. That spring, he had friends who came up to his pen, so he left. [laughter]
R: Was that Lake Santa Fe?
C: Yes, I guess it was [Lake] Santa Fe. But they were very interesting people.
C: Then, who else did I have? Oh! When Marjorie Rawlings came, I asked her if she
would make a talk, and she was delighted. I asked Dr. Tigert if he would introduce
her, which he did. The Tigerts just ate it up. They just love that sort of thing.
C: So we had it at the Women's Club, which is the community theater now, and it was
R: I remember that occasion.
C: We were going to have this meeting, and hear Mrs. Rawlings make her talk, and
then all those who wanted to could play cards and do whatever. The clubhouse
had a tearoom to the side, and they put the cardtables up there. Of course, they
had rented the place from the Women's Club. Mrs. Newell was a great performer
in the Women's Club, and she was telling me what we could do and what we could
not do. Among other things, we could play cards. They had cardtable covers tied
on the post at the side.
C: But we would have to rent them and have to have them laundered, all of which I
R: This building belonged to the Gainesville Women's Club?
C: Yes. There was no place on the campus at the time to have anything like that.
R: Was this not a luncheon meeting?
C: No. It was an evening meeting.
R: But she did speak to the Gainesville Women's Club at a literary luncheon.
C: Yes. She spoke to the University several times, but this was her first performance.
At the time, she was married to Mr. [Charles] Rawlings. I was entertaining Marjorie
Rawlings, and Derrell, my husband, was taking care of her husband, Mr. Rawlings.
During the evening, we were all sitting at small tables in the club. We had had a
- 25 -
dinner. This man Rawlings looked around over the crowd like that, and said to
Derrell, "Is this the University faculty?" Derrell said, "Yes, it is." He said, "[It is] a
bovine looking group, isn't it?" [laughter] It made Derrell perfectly furious.
[laughter] He came home in a temper. [laughter]
R: I can imagine.
C: Oh, dear. Well, anyway, I got to know Marjorie Rawlings real well.
R: About how old was Yvonne then?
C: Oh, I do not know. Were you around at that time? You must have been.
R: Oh, yes. She was born in 1923, and Mrs. Rawlings was writing in the 1930s.
C: Yes. This was right after she had moved down here to live at the lake. But honest
to goodness, the funny things that can happen to you as you go along. When we had
one of those Harvest Moon Suppers ... oh, what was the actress's name who was
here at the University giving a one-woman performance?
D: Was it Cornelia Otis Skinner?
C: Cornelia Otis Skinner. And she and Mrs. Leake . remember Dr. [James Miller]
R: Oh, yes.
C: He was head of the history department. Well, Mrs. Leake had gone to boarding
school somewhere with Cornelia Otis Skinner. So of course, she was all excited.
They had a reception in the new union building, which [is now] the old one, and
asked me to be at the head of the line and introduce everybody, which I was getting
along fine doing. Students, of course, were all invited, and they were all excited to
meet Cornelia Otis Skinner. So as she went down the line and I introduced her to
people, I said, "We are going now to meet Mrs. Leake. I think you were in school
with Mrs. Leake." And you know, she snubbed her, and would not even shake her
hand. A crowd of boys waiting right here at the end of the line, turned and walked
off and did not speak to her. I could have kissed every one of them.
R: It served her right.
C: I thought that was the most wonderful act of loyalty to a faculty member. I do not
know what possessed Cornelia Otis Skinner. She evidently did not remember the
woman, or she was just plain ugly.
R: She was probably embarrassed because she was supposed to remember her, maybe.
- 26 -
C: Could be. I do not know. I never did know. But Mrs. Leake was just hurt to the
quick. She really was.
R: I can imagine.
C: [She was so hurt] because she had looked forward to it and it was just going to be
something for her to remember.
R: Dr. Leake was such a dear.
R: My first husband, Dr. John McLaughlin, was very fond of him. I would go up to
the campus to pick him up to come home for lunch, and he and Dr. Leake would
be standing in front of Peabody Hall, and they would be chatting, and I would just
wait, and wait, and wait. He could not get away from Dr. Leake politely.
C: You know, Dr. Leake had three or four great big bird dogs. They lived in east
Gainesville on Roper Avenue.
R: We lived on Roper, too.
C: They had portieres. You remember what they called them?
C: [They had portieres] between the living room and the room in back of it. I do not
know what that room was. These dogs walked back and forth until it was just as
greasy as it could be, up about that high off of the dog's back. The dogs were
always part of the entertainment because they always were on hand. If you went
there, you went to see the dogs as well as the Leakes. [It would be] like coming
to my house and seeing Willie.
R: Well, those were days when ...
C: Everybody knew everybody.
R: Everybody knew everybody.
C: And everybody came calling.
R: Oh, I kept the calling cards that were brought to me when I came here in 1938.
C: I wish I had.
- 27 -
R: I still have them in my house somewhere. I have things stored away, and every
once in awhile I come across something. I came across those calling cards several
years ago, and it was so nice to have them.
C: I wish I had thought of doing such a thing. When we came, all the old faculty
members called on the new ones. So everybody called. Mrs. Trusler and Mrs.
Anderson called on me the same afternoon. Susanna Trusler was two or three
years old, and we were living at the Willoughby's. I was allowed to entertain guests
in the Willoughby's living room. Susanna wet the floor. I was embarrassed to death
because I did not know what to do. Anyway, they stayed and made a visit. Derrell
came home from the University and brought me a Hershey bar. I whammed it
against the wall, and he said, "What is the matter with you?" I said, "I am so tired
of old women I do not know what to do." [laughter]
R: You had to worry for fear the house would not look right and that you were not
C: Oh, I know.
R: They came on Sunday afternoon, mostly.
C: Well, that is when the students came on Pop calls. But most of the women came
in the week. Later on, as I got older, when I started off to do something, Derrell
would say, "Always remember now, that you threw the Hershey bar." [laughter] But
I got so that I was very fond of all those women, naturally.
R: Why don't we go to Yvonne's young days when she grew up here. Yvonne Cody
Dell is your only child?
R: And she has lived in Gainesville most of her life, right? You lived in New York
for a while, did you not, Yvonne?
R: How many years did you live in New York City?
D: Only about a year.
R: About a year. And you have always been very active in the theater. We forgot to
say, Ioleen, that you were very active in the Fine Art Association.
C: Yes. Do you remember Mrs. Buchholz? She was an artist, and she and Miss Nell
Trelevant . I ran across that the other day. I still have that. Anyway, I got
involved with it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Mrs. Buchholz for a while was the sort
- 28 -
of ring leader of the whole thing. Then the men in the University art department,
Carl Mittell and Mr .... oh, goodness, I cannot think of the man's name who was
here at the same time . were very interested. We had a very nice organization.
They still do. I do not go anymore because they started meeting in the evening and
I do not drive in the evening.
R: Didier Graefee came eventually, and Bob Carson, and the big lawyer. What is his
name? He has the collection of ... Yvonne, you know.
C: You mean Bill Chandler?
R: Bill Chandler was very active in it. One time, the Art Association sponsored a
firetruck going down University Avenue for the Christmas parade. I think Bill
Chandler dressed like Santa Claus and he threw candy to the children.
C: Yes, he did. He used to dress like Santa Claus a lot.
D: I do not know whether this would be our place for the kind of information you are
getting, [but let me relate this story to you]. I know this was because Mother was
so involved in the art club. One time I got involved in being the publicity chairman.
Didier Graeffe had composed some music. This was going to be presented at one
of their meetings at the old Gainesville Community Center. It was down near the
duck pond. I went by to interview [Dr. Graeffe] to get information to put in the
paper, and Mrs. Graeffe met me at the door, and said, "Come in. Come in. Didier
is in the bedroom. Come on in." There in the middle of the bed, in his pajamas,
was Didier Graeffe and one of his students, a female. She was in pajamas.
C: He had on a fur bed jacket, you remember.
D: Yes. And they had a glockenspiel. They had a cat. It was a super large cat named
Ajax. Ajax and the student with the glockenspiel and Didier Graefee were sitting
in bed. [laughter] He would [sing a note], and she would hit the glockenspiel, and
he would say: "Yes. That is the note." They would write it down.
R: She was helping him to compose?
D: She was recording.
R: I see.
D: She was helping him hit the tone on the glockenspiel and he said to me, "I create
best in bed." [laughter] I had great difficulty keeping a straight face through the
interview. [Regarding] the performance, there was a woman in town who was
Austrian. I cannot remember her name now. She was going to perform this music.
She came in a leotard, and it seems to me they did the whole thing again with the
- 29 -
R: Didier's dramas were full of percussion, were they not?
D: Yes. They would strike the note and she would [sing the note], whatever it was,
and a group of three or four other women wearing leotards danced to [the music].
The note would be sung, and they would strike a pose. Then they would strike the
glockenspiel and she would hum the note. I thought, "I wish I had a movie of this
from start to finish."
C: I have to go back to Mrs. Leigh with that. Do you remember Vestus Twiggs
Jackson, who was in the chemistry department?
C: He went on a walking tour through Europe with two shirts or something. I do not
know. It was ridiculous. But when he got back, Mrs. Leigh asked him to make a
talk for the University Women's Club, which he accepted and did. She played the
piano. He did not know she was going to do this. So when he started off [talking
about] when he got to France, she played La Marseillaise [laughter]. When he got
to every country, she played the national anthem [of that country]. He got so rattled
that he did not know what he was talking about. Everybody was just in stitches.
R: She had to be in on it.
C: Yes. [She had to be in on] everything.
D: I remember her. She had a very large, old car that was very high up off the ground.
This was back when cars had running boards.
D: And she would drive through the campus sort of like this, and you mentioned Mrs.
Heath. At one point we lived very near the Heaths. Mrs. Heath was a very small
woman, and when she sat in the car to drive, she could barely see up over the hood
of the car. You would see Mrs. Heath ride by, and all you could see was the top of
her head [laughter].
C: She looked through the steering wheel to drive.
R: I used to do that too, because I am very short. It was very difficult to drive those
cars if you were short.
C: The seats did not go up and down like they do now.
R: No. I used to look through the steering wheel.
- 30 -
C: I used to think Mrs. Heath was going to get killed in her car.
R: Now I have a car where you can lower the steering wheel so you can see over it.
C: I do, too. Of course, [with] all the cars now you need to lower [the steering wheel].
You can adjust things to suit you.
R: Don't you think you had a very interesting and entertaining childhood in Gainesville,
Yvonne? There were so many characters.
D: Yes, I did. I cannot remember who I was talking to in the last twenty-four hours,
but we were talking about the past and how safe Gainesville was.
C: It was wonderful.
D: I had a bicycle and never owned a lock. I never had a key to the house because
the house was never locked.
R: That is right.
D: Whoever I was talking to (it was someone else in Gainesville) said it was so
C: Oh, it was. Well, you never thought about [crime].
D: Somebody told me that they had such freedom to go on picnics around town. I
thought, "My goodness." A group of us would get on bicycles and ride all over town
and have picnics. I would never have allowed my children [to do such a thing].
Now, my children each had two bicycles stolen with locks on them.
R: At this point, tell us who your two children are, Yvonne.
D: Alexis and Liddon.
R: And Alexis is going to be a doctor? She is studying at the University medical school.
D: She is in her third year. Yes. Liddon jumped on me because he said I was not
naming his position accurately, so, Mother, maybe you know. I said he was a sales
manager and he said he is the head of sales for a certain division of Atkins
R: Give us the full names of your two children.
D: Alexis is Ioleen Alexis Dell. She was named for Mother.
- 31 -
D: The Alexis [comes from the fact that] we were just convinced we were going to
have a son, and it was going to be Charles Alexander Dell, Jr. I guess about three
or four days before she was born ...
C: You were in the doctor's office and ...
D: No, we were sitting in a hotel lobby in Baltimore, and I picked up a magazine, and
the cover story was about Alexis Irende du Pont DeNemours. I said, "If we have a
girl, let us name her Alexis." [laughter] So we did have a girl, and that is where the
Alexis came from.
R: You married into the Dell family, which is a very old Gainesville family.
D: Yes, indeed.
R: It has several branches, does it not?
R: I always get confused about the Dell family. [J.] Maxie Dell's father was a doctor
and he was a doctor. What relation were they to the Charles Dell that you married?
Were they cousins?
D: I think you had better cut the tape off. [break in tape]
R: We are going to talk a minute about the three portraits on the wall.
C: This is Madison Derrell Cody, for whom my husband was named.
R: Your husband's father.
C: No, [it is] his grandfather. And this was his grandmother, who was Ann Cody.
Everybody in the family thought Yvonne looked like her. I cannot see it.
R: She was very beautiful.
C: Yes, she was.
R: [She was] brunette, like Yvonne.
C: They lived in Covington, Georgia, and were buried there. They both died when
Derrell's father was a young man, and he was raised by an aunt and Mrs. Hardy.
Was that not her name? Mary Hardy? She did take care of some of the family
things and had them for her nephew who she was raising. Among other things were
- 32 -
these wine bottles up here. I have a coffee urn. I think Yvonne has a great many
C: These portraits were painted in New York in ... when? Early 1800s.
D: I have the third portrait. It is of my grandfather when he was four. So all you
would have to do to figure it out would be to come up with when he was born. He
was older than my grandmother, and my grandmother was born in 1856, so it had
to be sometime between, I guess, 1850 and 1856.
C: It was during that time, and as I said, they were painted in New York. When
Derrell's mother died and these were given to him ... this over here. Do you see
that silver-looking place on it?
C: A lot of the ornamentation on it was cracked and broken, and one or two things
[were] off. We were wondering where we could get it fixed. So we took it to
Jacksonville to a man who was with a paper company way downtown on Bay Street.
It is not there anymore. He was an Austrian. We got there, and he was very
enthusiastic, and said yes, he could fix them. [Actually, we only needed to fix] this
one, because that one was all right. So I tentatively asked him how much it was
going to be, and he told me. I said: "Oh, for goodness sake. You can go buy a new
frame [for that amount]." He hugged it like this, and he said, "You are not going
to do any such of a thing. I am going to fix it." I said, "Who is going to pay for it?"
He said, "You are." Well, Derrell and I left it. He scared us into leaving it, and I
am glad we did. But I thought $250 was just a scandalous price, and this was thirty-
five years ago.
R: For those days, it was very high.
D: That is terrible, Mother.
C: I thought it was awful. He said: "You could never get another frame like this. I
am going to fix this frame." But evidently, something has happened--that little
scratch in there--since I moved down here. It gradually did it. I know a man who
can put on gold leafs.
D: The one I have, I am ashamed to say, I fixed myself.
C: What did you do?
D: I got some gold paint and just painted it. You can get gold leaf paint. I just painted
- 33 -
C: I have toyed with that. I was supposed to have used gold leaf on it.
R: It comes in little sheets.
C: Yes. It comes in little squares.
D: I did not go that far. I just bought paint.
R: Vivian Elbrooke did it for us on one of our family portraits, the one that hangs
over my fireplace. It was Dr. McLoughlin's grandmother. Now, this portrait of
Yvonne was done by ...
C: Ella Van Leer. [Blake] Van Leer was head of the engineering school at the
R: How old was she when this was done?
C: I think [she was] seven or eight.
D: If you do not see pain in that portrait, you should, because I was forced to sit still
for long [periods of time], like an hour or more at a time.
R: I do not see any pain.
D: I can still remember [where] she painted it. We were upstairs on the screened back
porch. I looked out the window at trees. They lived in the house [that] later the
Shands bought, and I can still see those trees, and how I longed to be in them
[laughter] and not be sitting still in that chair.
C: Ella was an artist. She had been doing maps for the Rand McNally Company.
That was really her field. But she wanted to be a portrait painter. I think most
artists do. She would paint anybody that would sit for her. She persuaded all of
us who were friends to sit for her. She did my portrait. She did Yvonne. Derrell
would not sit for her.
R: Where is your portrait?
C: [It is in] Yvonne's house. Mine is a conversation piece.
D: We had Mother's [portrait] onstage in a play last year. I did not tell her that she
was going to [have her portrait onstage]. I told her that she was in for a great
C: There I was, on the stage.
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D: This was See How They Run. It was supposed to be the home of a British vicar.
R: Was that the community theater?
D: Yes. The play was supposed to be in the late 1930s or the early 1940s. It was a
very period play. It is hard to realize the 1940s are a period now.
R: That is right.
D: But it was our period. It was a very period play. The costumes were going to be
in period, and they wanted the house to look right. So I took that portrait out, and
it was placed over the mantelpiece. It was the principal set piece.
R: Were you surprised when you saw it there, Ioleen?
C: Yes, I was. I was going to say that the Gracys were friends of Ella's, and she did
one of Peggy Gracy, and Peggy was in a red dress, and her arms were straight like
that, and she had a cat in her lap. She did one of Cecil. It was the best thing she
ever did. As [Sam] Harn used to say, the lace on Yvonne's collar and Peggy's cat
were the best things Ella ever did. [laughter] I should go show her the picture of
my grandmother that Cramer Swords did from the tin type. I have it back in my
D: Peggy Gracy saw the play before Mother did, and she said to Mother, "You are in
for quite a surprise when you see the play."
R: We really should do a life history of Peggy Gracy. I do not know whether Sam
Proctor has done one yet or not.
C: Peggy is not old enough [to do an interview] if you are doing old people.
R: Peggy is about my age, and I consider myself a senior citizen.
C: I guess she would, too.
R: She was very active in Holy Trinity when I came in 1938. I have done [interviews
with] about thirty-five ladies.
C: Have you really?
R: Yes. I interviewed Annie Pound about five years ago.
D: I am so glad.
R: She was as clear as a bell.
- 35 -
D: I feel so strongly that there should have been more in the paper when she died.
R: I was away.
D: Well, it was almost nothing. There was but one small paragraph.
R: That is a shame.
D: A number of us talked about this, and I have a friend who is in her twenties who
wants to be a freelance writer. I recommended to her that she track down
[information about Louise Pound]. I gave her all sorts of people to call. I saw her
the other day. Maybe she is shy about it. I do not know. She had not pursued it.
C: I told Al [Alvin] Alsobrook about it.
D: You did?
C: Yes. I told him that you felt, and I did too, [that there should have been more in
the paper about Annie when she died].
When Derrell and I came to Gainesville, as I said, we were staying at the White
House Hotel. We were Methodists anyway. So the first Sunday we were here, we
walked across the street to the Methodist church. As we came out of the church,
Annie Pound and Ollie Dell--Olive's mother--introduced themselves to us and asked
us if we had just come. We told her who we were and that we were here to stay and
all that sort of thing. The next Sunday, Annie and Addison asked us to go to Poe
Springs swimming [and] to take a picnic supper. That threw me in a circle, because
I did not have at the time anyplace to fix anything. So they said, "We did not mean
for you to bring it." Well, that went on for several years in the summertime. Every
Sunday afternoon we would go to Poe Springs swimming.
R: Did you ever go to Magnesia Springs?
C: No. Well, yes, I have been out there, but this Sunday business with the Pounds was
to go to Poe Springs.
R: I see.
C: And then the Dells asked us out to their place on Lake Kingsley.
D: Is Magnesia Springs still open?
R: I do not know.
- 36 -
C: I do not, either. Of course we were Methodist. So then we worked in the Methodist
church together. That is how our friendship started.
R: Were you in the same garden club?
C: No. She was in one circle and I was in another.
R: Which one were you in?
C: I was in the Rose Circle.
R: Do you still keep active in it?
C: I got out about three years ago.
R: They make you work too hard.
C: That did not bother me as much as entertaining at home. It was just too much for
this apartment to handle. I tried it once or twice, and it just put me in bed almost,
because [it was too much of a strain].
R: I know some people who have gone for many years to a garden circle and they just
said, "I am perfectly willing to resign because I can no longer entertain in my home,
but I would like to stay if I am excused from this duty." [It is] a perfectly logical
C: I think it is too, except I felt like ... it is a luncheon meeting. At least the Rose
R: Oh, my goodness. That is quite an undertaking.
C: Yes. It just got to be too much for this little kitchen.
D: Mother, tell the story about the Methodist circle where you had to entertain for
Mrs. Gracy every time.
C: The worst of it is ... I had never been a member of things because I had been in
school all the time. Well, we came, [and] of course, Annie asked me to join the
Women's Missionary Society. That was what they used to call it in the Methodist
Church. I joined everything anybody asked me to. So, [the time] came around,
and somebody asked me if I would entertain them. I glibly said I would. We were
living in the DePass apartment. I had not even brought my silver down from home.
I was just living in a furnished apartment. So I called Mrs. Bell (she was chairman
of the circle) and I asked her how many she thought would be there. She said, "We
usually have about twelve, but I hope we will have fifteen." Guess how many came.
- 37 -
R: Oh, boy.
C: I could have killed every one of them. Two of them brought children that went to
the johnny the whole time they were there.
R: And you did not have enough chairs.
C: I did not have anything. They sat on the floor. Well, I think curiosity brought most
of them. I went downstairs. The DePasses lived downstairs. I had planned to have
tea and cookies or tea and sandwiches. I have forgotten. It was tea and something,
I remember. I did not have enough for that many people. Ms. Nell Trelevant (who
was Mr. DePass' sister ), and they had a houseboy named Archie. There
was a little store back over there on Main Street, and they sent Archie over [for
groceries], and Archie and Ms. Nell made sandwiches all through the meeting. By
the time it was time to serve the tea, I had plenty of food. Everybody said, "Oh,
aren't you smart to have all this ready." [laughter] I just let them think so.
D: I was talking about the times that Mrs. Gracy would say, "Ioleen, honey, won't you
C: Later on, remember Aunt Mamie Phifer?
C: And [do you remember] Mrs. Gracy Sr.?
C: They were both in the circle because there was only one missionary circle at the
time. The church was small, too, like the town.
R: I have heard of them. They were before my coming.
C: Yes. Well, anyway, Mrs. Gracy would call me and say "Ioleen, honey." (She had a
trembling sort of voice.) "It is our time to have the circle." There she was with a
great big house and a servant. I was like the proverbial poor, moving all over town.
Anyway, I would say, "That is all right, Mrs. Gracy. I will go on and have it." [She
would say,] "Oh, would you, honey? That would be just fine." In a little while the
phone would ring and it would be Aunt Mamie Phifer. [She would say,] "Oh, Ioleen,
we have got to have the circle." I said, "I already told Mrs. Gracy I would have it."
- 38 -
I remember the first time I had it after we bought the house. That was nearly fifty
years ago. My mother had sent me some long spoons that had a straw in them.
[They were] silver spoons with a straw, you know?
R: Yes. I have seen those.
C: I had been home and somebody had served ice cream with ginger ale in a tall glass.
So I wanted to use my new spoons, and I had ice cream in the tall glasses with cakes
or something. Aunt Mamie and Mrs. Gracy just thought we had the finest meeting
that ever was. They went home with all the cookies just thrilled to death. I will not
forget that as long as I live.
R: Ioleen, do you remember in the old days before any alcoholic beverages were
allowed to be sold at University functions, the favorite refreshment for a large
reception would be a big punch bowl full of strong coffee with vanilla ice cream
floating in it?
R: That was delicious! We never have that anymore.
C: Where did I go not too long ago that I had it? It was good. They very often had
that. It still is iced coffee or whatever they call it. I like iced coffee.
D: You know that is that is still served a lot, but it has alcohol in it.
R: It does?
D: Yes. I have had it recently.
C: Well, sometimes that comes under the heading of Irish coffee.
R: I see.
C: And they put the Irish whiskey in it. However, I have never had it with alcohol in
R: I do not remember alcoholic beverages being served much at University functions
when I came.
D: Remember [that] they were against the law.
R: That is right.
C: Oh, heavens! As long as the Tigerts lived here, as long as he was president of the
University ... remember somebody said that Dr. Tigert was drunk at something.
- 39 -
R: Oh, no.
C: Do you not remember that?
C: Oh, my goodness. It was just terrible.
R: A scandal?
C: Dr. Leigh, Mrs. Townes Randolph Leigh's husband, organized an evening reception
at the University for the faculty to back Dr. Tigert up. So the whole faculty turned
out. It was a very emotional evening because he was touched with that much
D: You mean this was because he had been accused of being drunk?
C: They were accusing the governor of the state [as well] at the time. Anyway, some
paper had come out.
R: This was a political thing?
C: Yes. Well, Dr. Tigert later on did not mind having a drink after he was retired.
Sometime when they first came, Derrell's brother and his wife came down and spent
Christmas with us and stayed through New Year's. The only liquor we got was
home-brewing stuff that was made out here in the country. Dr. [J. H.] Montgomery,
who traveled for the ag college, kept going back and forth to Cuba and around. He
had brought us a bottle of sloe gin and a bottle of some sort of liquor. I have
forgotten what. So I had an open house on New Year's afternoon.
R: He had gotten drunk somewhere?
C: Yes. And I have forgotten where it was or how it was or how it got out. It was in
a paper somewhere. The University faculty stood right behind him during the whole
C: And it washed away and blew over. The same thing [happened] for the governor.
That was when liquor first started being served.
R: And then you said that you had a New Year's afternoon.
C: Well, I am not going to tell that.
- 40 -
R: You are not going to tell us about that?
D: She had time to think.
R: All right. We will skip that.
C: Well, I will tell you [that] it did not amount to anything, and it was funny, but I do
not think it needs to be in there.
R: That is all right.
C: I was very fond of Dr. and Mrs. Tigert. [I was] particularly fond of Mrs. Tigert.
R: They were lovely people.
C: Yes, and we were great friends. [We] saw a lot of them when they lived up in their
R: All belonged to the Methodist church.
C: All belonged to the Methodist church, and Derrell and Dr. Tigert were both Phi
Delta Thetas. They were interested in that. We had a lot in common.
R: Yvonne, how did you happen to join the Episcopal church? [Was it] because you
knew some people there?
C: She was raised down there in the Hampton clan.
D: I think there were two influences. One [was that] I grew up and lived for many
years across the street from Fred and Alice Hampton. Mary Alice Hampton, their
daughter, was a good friend of mine. She was an Episcopalian, and I used to go with
her sometimes to church. Ruth Riley, who was a friend of Mother's, started taking
me to the Cradle Row [an Episcopal children's Sunday school] when I was about
four. I went for quite a number of years--I think I was about eight--before Mother
suddenly [realized what was going on]. I can remember her talking to me that I was
really a Methodist and she did not want me going to the Episcopal church anymore.
[laughter] I remember her enticing me by telling me the Ham girls were all
Methodist and I would fit right in. So I went to the Methodist church from about
[the age of] eight until I was ..
C: You went to the Methodist church in the morning and the Episcopal church in the
D: That was later. When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I had [the] flu. By that time
I was in the [youth group of the church. It was] what would be like the YPSL in the
Episcopal church: Young People's Service League. Epworth League something.
- 41 -
C: The Epworth League was Methodist.
D: I cannot remember what it was. I missed about three weeks. When I came back,
they made me stand up and introduce myself as a newcomer. It made me so mad
I never would go back at all.
R: I thought the Harns belonged to the Episcopal church.
D: No. They were Methodists.
R: They were Methodist?
C: Mrs. Gracy was dyed-in-the-wool Methodist. She was their grandmother. Sam was
a Presbyterian, but Gladys [was Methodist]. She even taught a Sunday school class
when she was young in the Methodist church. During the Depression, Sam was
having such a hard time keeping his family going. Remember Dr. Floyd, who did
something on the campus? He was always on the Board of Stewards at the
Methodist church. He went to Sam, who had a little drugstore over on Main Street
and [was] just barely making ends meet, and asked him for a donation for the
church. Sam said, "Don't they pay the preacher a certain sum?" Dr. Floyd said,
"Yes." [Sam said,] "Don't they give him a car?" Dr. Floyd said, "Yes." [Sam said,]
"Doesn't he get free rent on his house?" Dr. Floyd said, "Yes. He does." Sam said,
"Will you please get out? It just makes my mouth water." [laughter] He let him go.
R: Was that Dr. Floyd the father of Clara?
C: Clara Floyd, the lawyer?
C: No. He had two daughters. They were older than I and they are all dead.
D: Was there not a Mrs. Floyd who was the principal of Eastside grammar school when
I was in school?
C: No. It was not that Mrs. Floyd.
D: It seems to me Mrs. Floyd was the principal.
C: Could be. I do not remember.
R: Where did you go to school, Yvonne?
- 42 -
D: To finish off the Episcopal story, I had a very good friend [named] Judy Walker
who was an Episcopalian. When I was about sixteen or seventeen I started going
nights with her to the Episcopal church's Young People's Service League. I had a
wonderful time. They had a house that belonged to the University Episcopal
Church, and that is where they met and had a picnic supper every Sunday night.
R: Was that near the Chapel of the Incarnation?
D: Yes. It was just around the corner. I think the house is still there. At any rate, I
just slowly began going to the Episcopal church and decided one day I was going
to join. I guess I was about eighteen or nineteen. I remember Mother begged me
C: No, I did not beg you. I said: "I will tell you what. You go with me to the
Methodist church this Sunday, and next Sunday I will go with you to the Episcopal
church." So she went with me to the Methodist church and right in the middle of
the sermon she nudged me like that and said, "The Methodists just had their chance
and lost." [laughter]
D: I do not remember this. Mother begged me to wait until her parents were dead
because she said they would be so upset.
C: They were not [upset] at all.
D: I said I would not wait. When I think about my grandfather living to almost 101,
it would have been a long wait.
C: You never would have gotten there.
D: Mother then went to church with me sometime along, and she said, "I think you
made the right decision. All the Episcopalians seem to have long, thin faces, and
you have a long, thin face." [laughter]
C: I do not remember saying such a thing. When we got out of the church the day
that [Yvonne said] they lost their chance, I said, "Yvonne, what in the world was
the matter?" She said, "The minister made a grammatical error."
D: Oh, for heaven's sakes!
C: She was in Tallahassee and thought she knew everything.
R: You were going to FSU?
D: I think in terms of church, the Methodists are inclined to go on and on.
R: [The preachers give] longer sermons.
- 43 -
D: Yes. I know when I go to a funeral at the Methodist church ...
R: They have long eulogies.
D: Oh, my goodness! They talk forever. I like a service where you know when you
are going to get out. When there is a structured service, you know they are going
to have to stick with the book.
R: Did you do your college work in Tallahassee?
D: Yes, I did. I went to a lot of schools, as a matter of fact. I went to what was then
Florida State College for Women. It is now FSU.
C: She got her BA degree there.
R: I see.
D: Then I went over the years to the University of Alabama and to Southwestern
University and to SMU [Southern Methodist University] in Dallas, and to the
University of Iowa.
C: [And she went to] Yale.
D: And to Yale.
R: My goodness.
D: Father said one day at the dinner table . .
R: You were a perennial student.
D: Yes. Oh, and also [I went] to the University of Florida. He said, "Yvonne, I do
not know what you know, but I must say you have scope." [laughter]
R: Right. You have always been interested in literature and dramatics and you have
been in a number of plays.
R: And you are still acting?
D: Yes, indeed. I was in something last night.
R: Tell us about the play you were in last night.
- 44 -
D: I told my daughter when I got home, I could see Mother looking bored to tears
through it all. [laughter]
C: Your daughter was bored, too. But I will tell you why I was bored. It was so loud.
D: Well, it was very long. It needed cutting.
C: It needed cutting in half.
R: Tell us the name of the play and who wrote it.
D: This is Gary Gordon, and I was not in town when he was mayor, but I understand
he was mayor in 1984. This was the second show he has done this way. He did
one last fall. This was Primary Colors. It was a political satire. I thought it was
a lot of fun, and Gary is very bright.
R: To have it on the eve of our city election was very appropriate.
D: That is right.
C: There were parts in it that were very clever, but it was very long, and so loud that
[it bothered me]. Loud things just do something to me.
R: Maybe they had the loudspeaker on too loud.
D: I do not know whether in that space they needed microphones anyway. It was the
Spanish Court at the Thomas [Center]. That is a small enough area that I think that
everyone could have been loud enough [without microphones]. But that was a choice
they went with.
R: They probably did not need a loudspeaker.
D: No. I doubt it. I think one of the problems (I never said anything to Gary about
it) [was that with] a satire, the audience has got to know and be totally familiar
with what you are satirizing, or there is nothing they can laugh at because they do
not catch on.
R: They do not understand.
C: I think everyone caught on.
D: I think that Gary was torn in his script between making a spoof out of the whole
political endeavor and trying to be serious, and every once in awhile making very
- 45 -
serious statements. It is not that you cannot make serious statements in a satire,
R: You have got to know the difference.
D: He was taking whole sections of it and being very serious. We are deluged with
politics nowadays, particularly right this minute.
R: [There is] too much TV on politics.
D: He went into so much detail about what the candidates were saying and we hear
it on television all day long. I think this was probably what turned some people
off. They were hearing the real speeches instead of speeches that were overdone
to satirize what they were saying. You would hear word for word what the
candidates were really saying.
R: I see. Who else was in it?
D: This was a very funny experience. The first time I went to a rehearsal, these kids
(when I say kids, [I mean] they are adults but I would say their age range was mid-
twenties to mid-thirties) looked at me like, "Where did she come from?" You know,
Mrs. Methuselah is joining the group. It was about the third rehearsal that I realized
I had brought kind of a pall to the group. They did not speak freely among each
other and somehow at that same rehearsal, they decided I was all right. Two of the
boys came and poured some of their beer into my glass. I guess it is kind of like
sharing a needle nowadays. I am in [now]. I am part of the group. Everything
changed. They all spoke freely from then on and I was just part of the group. I am
ashamed to say I [only] got to know their first names. Mark Goldstein is a lawyer
in town, and he played [Michael] Dukakis.
R: He did?
C: He was the best one in the show.
R: I bet he was good.
D: He was very good.
C: He almost looked the part.
R: He looks like him, yes.
C: Emily, I hate to tell you, but it is one o'clock.
R: We had better stop it right now.
- 47 -