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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
University of Florida
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Interviewee: Myrna & Clayton Hustard
Interviewer: Mike Rowland
Date of Interview: December 17, 2003
Interviewee: Myrna Hustad
Interviewer: Mike Rowland
Date: December 17, 2003
R: Today is December 17, 2003. My name is Mike Rowland and I'm a student at the
University of Florida. I'm meeting with Myrna Hustad and her husband for an oral history
interview. Before we get started I want to say that this is a marvelous day for an oral
history interview about aviation since we're celebrating the 100th anniversary of the
Wright brothers' first flight. I appreciate both of you being here today. Myrna, I have a
number of questions for you. If you could, though, start out by telling me when you came
to Gainesville, a little bit about yourself, where you're from, and when you were born.
H: I'm Myrna Hustad, and I was born in Spooner, Wisconsin, on February 2, 1917. That's
eighty-six years ago. I'm a niece of Carl Stengel. He was number twelve in the family of
Stengel children; my dad was number four. Grandmother Stengel had twelve children.
Uncle Carl is the baby. He was the sole remaining one for several years and he lived the
longest. I married Clayton Hustad here in Gainesville. We came to Florida in 1943.
Clayton came for a vacation [and we] never went back to Wisconsin. I was teaching in
Boscobel, Wisconsin. At the end of the school term in June 1943, I came to Gainesville.
He and Pastor Weber, of then St. Matthews Lutheran Church, had arranged our wedding.
On June 19, 1943, we were married on the second floor of the old, old, old Florida Union.
It's a building which still stands. It has stained glass windows on the second floor of the
union. Uncle Carl was my Florida daddy. My father was working for the railroad in
Wisconsin and during the war vacations were not allowed, so my parents were not present
for our wedding. Uncle Carl walked me down the aisle [and] gave me away. [Uncle Carl
and Aunt Gen] gave us our reception at their home. So we had a beautiful wedding
regardless [that] our parents could not be here. I had been here in Gainesville visiting
Aunt Gen and Uncle Carl in 1939. During that time we flew to different parts of Florida,
so I got to see Florida from the air before I saw Florida from the ground. One of the
occasions was what they called a fly-in, where all the local pilots all over the state of
Florida would gather in one place on a weekend. We were able to attend that occasion.
Before I came to Florida, in the early 1940s, Uncle Carl flew to Wisconsin. Our small
town in northern Wisconsin had no airfield so he had to fly into Superior, Wisconsin, to
land his plane. We had to drive to Superior to get him. When he left to come back to
Florida, I flew from Superior to Madison with him in his red Cessna. That was our
favorite. It was his private plane and it took us to many interesting [places]. In 1943,
when we came to stay, the plane was still available. We did a little flying here in Florida
with him too. I guess I should go back to 1939. We stayed at the motel rooms that were
built on the field out there, which is now Gainesville Airport. I see them on NE 2nd
Street, right between 16th Avenue and 10th Avenue. There's quite a row of these
wooden houses which were the motel or the housing cabins for the students at Stengel
Field. They stayed in one and we stayed in the other cabin during my stay in 1939.
R: When in 1939 was that?
H: [It was] at Christmastime. We spent Christmas here in Florida. It was my sister and I that
came down. Clayton was not in the picture yet.
R: So that was the winter of 1939-1940?
H: Yeah. Aunt Gen and a friend of hers drove us all around Florida to see all the tourist spots
like the Ringling Brothers' winter quarters and the museum, [and] Bradenton, and
Sarasota. We went all through the west coast [to] many of those interesting tourist things.
Seeing the winter headquarters for the circus was a sight for me.
R: Where was that?
H: [That was in] Sarasota, and the museum [is there too]. [It] has all the relics of the
Ringling Brothers family in this huge building. It was interesting to see. When we got
airborne at Orlando, coming back to Gainesville from the fly-in, something struck the
windshield and it shattered. So from that area to Gainesville, we had cold air coming in
on us, but Uncle Carl got us safely back to Gainesville with no problem.
R: Now, were you flying in the red Cessna?
H: [Yes, we were] in the red Cessna. We had been to this fly-in at Orlando that weekend.
R: This was during the Christmas season?
R: Do you remember the date?
H: It would be December 1939, but I don't know exactly the dates of that. It was before
Christmas. It wasn't Christmas weekend.
R: Do you have any idea what it was that shattered the window?
H: We're not sure. We thought it might have been a bird, but we don't know. I don't recall if
it was. An interesting thing about that is that Uncle Carl never had an accident flying. He
never had a forced landing and he never crashed in all his years of flying. That's what I
think is remarkable today for all the years that he flew. He started in the late 1920s when
aviation was just in its infancy.
R: Can you tell me how he got started?
H: I guess it would be his interest in motorcycles. He liked everything motorized and I think
it was a new adventure for him. He was a motorcycle cop here in Gainesville. We used to
get papers that he would send us articles on out of the Gainesville newspaper about
Stengel's Flying Circus. He used to entertain people in Gainesville by doing all his
aerobatics in the air on Sunday afternoons or something, and it was called Stengel's
Flying Circus. We got many articles [on that], [but] I don't have them; I wish I did have
copies of those articles. He would send them up to us so we knew what he was doing
down here in Florida.
R: Did he have other pilots flying aerobatics with him?
H: I think he was the only one for years. To my knowledge he was "it" in Gainesville in the
beginning in the late 1920s.
R: Do you remember how long he did the flying circus?
H: Oh no, but I'd say it was the late 1920s.
CH: I would say it was into the 1930s. Can I interject some? Talking about the flying, the first
plane he bought, he bought an SW Tailorcraft. After he had paid for the plane he had no
money to buy gas, so he barnstormed his way back to Florida. He'd find a field to land in
there, take a few people up, and get enough gas to go on. That's the way he got his first
plane into town. The way he got to be a cop here to begin with is he left Bunnell, resigned
his job down there.
H: He was a state police motorcyclist.
CH: He went into Jacksonville and bought a new motorcycle and was headed for California.
So leaving Jacksonville he came through Gainesville and saw the cops here, and he found
out there was going to be a football game the next day. So they asked him to stay over
and work the crowd with his motorcycle to see if it worked. Well it turned out this is
where he was meant to be.
H: He never got to California to live. He stayed in Gainesville as a motorcycle policeman.
R: Do you know when he came to Gainesville for that game?
H: That was in the 1920s too. I'd say maybe around 1925.
CH: It's hard to imagine his age and the things he did because he left the wheat fields of
Canada and came to Bunnell [when] he was fourteen or fifteen years old and [then] got
onto the police force there.
H: [He did that] by telling them he was eighteen.
CH: So there's a discrepancy there in age related to what he's doing.
R: Oh, he was taking responsibilities way beyond his years.
H: Yes, that's right. He was a Florida Highway Patrol[man] on motorcycle [when he was]
underage. He was fourteen or fifteen years of age.
CH: The cops would chase the rum runners.
H: [The men] that were going from New York to Cuba. That was back in the 1920s when the
prohibition [law was in effect] and the rum industry was undercover, of course.
R: So he was chasing people who were carrying illegal alcohol?
H: That's right. Some of the cars that he stopped had sides of the doors, secret panels that
were stashed with the liquor, trunks that had special cubbies or something that [held the
alcohol]. He told a lot of stories at different times. One of the people that he stopped
every once in awhile was the one that had the house in Ormond.
CH: He always gave a dime every time he saw him.
H: Yeah, it was this millionaire from New York who came to Ormond every winter. They
had that big hotel in Ormond that was destroyed a couple years ago and new apartments
R: Well if it comes to you later you can tell me.
H: He would stop his car maybe to talk to a different car, [and he always] gave him a dime.
He got many a dime from this millionaire that came. I wish I could say [the name of] that
R: What are some other stories you remember, because I'm sure he had some run ins with
some rough characters during that period.
H: He told us about the secret places in the cars and all that, and who he stopped. That was
about it that we knew. When he became a part of the only motorcycle cop in the
Gainesville Police Force, he would patrol the University Avenue around Gainesville
High. The building is gone, but it's now a parking lot.
CH: It's probably where the 720 building is.
H: The 720 building up to University Avenue was the high school, Bucholtz High School.
He would patrol it at noontime when the kids would be out, so he got to be liked by many
of the young people that were going to school. He would hang out with them. Of course
he was practically their age as a motorcycle cop.
R: When did he leave the police force?
CH: I would say it was in the late 1930s.
H: [It was] close to 1940, yeah.
R: He decided to go into aviation full time and he opened up a flying service?
H: With his flying he heard about this V-12 program training university students for the
beginnings of flight, and he got into that with the government. That's when he really went
forward full time as [an] aviator. That's when the war came. [He had] his local school out
there where the airport is now, and when the government took it over for the B-24
bomber training, then he was forced to leave. That's when he built Stengel Field.
R: Do you remember when that was?
CH: It was right around 1940, because they were still working on the field when we came.
H: Yeah, in 1943.
CH: I don't know the date, but I'd say it's somewhere close to that.
H: When we came in 1943, he was definitely at Stengel Field on Archer Road, because we
lived with those bombers over our head for two or three years during the war.
CH: He had another program, the PT program too, Primary Training. One of these programs,
or maybe both, were with the college of engineering for the university when Dean Weil
was the dean. At one time he had thirty-two Piper Cubs flying [and] taking off every
[three] minutes around the clock in daylight hours, training them. That's where he was
transporting them back and forth.
H: That was the beginning of the U.S. Air Force was the Piper Cub training, because all
those pilots ended up in the Air Force. A lot of their beginnings was right here.
R: How did Carl feel about having to leave the airport and go and establish a whole new air
CH: He wasn't happy.
H: Well no, [because] he had to go into debt to get it built so he could continue with the
program. Having the contract with the government helped a lot for him to do it.
R: Did you hear him talk about that?
H: Not too much.
CH: Not too much. He was not one to look back. He looked forward. In other words, when he
got that property out there, part of it laid to the north and east of the main field, and
beyond that piece of property he built houses as an income to get the thing going. Then a
lot of the students at the university and employees lived in them.
H: [They] lived in the housing. It was called Stengel Field Housing, which is now that
shopping area on the east side of Archer Road.
R: Right, that's Butler Plaza.
H: Butler Plaza was the airport, and east across was the housing.
CH: Like [where] Kentucky Fried Chicken and Steak and Ale [are], [it was in] that area right
along there. There was a triangular piece of land.
H: Behind the hangars on Stengel Field he had a row of single brick cottages for the flying
students and some of his instructors.
R: Are those houses still there?
CH: Yes, I think they are.
H: Some of them I think are.
CH: I don't know, I think those are all gone now.
H: With Butler Plaza going west I think they were destroyed.
CH: There was a row of sixteen, I think it was, that faced north, [and] then facing south they
had built several cement block houses. He also had a small trailer park right there. Then
he also had a building there [because] at one time he was in the cabinet making business,
and he had that building in there too.
H: But all that's all gone for Butler Plaza.
R: You say that Carl was not happy about having to leave the airport?
H: No, because he had a foundation there and then they had to start a new field.
CH: There was no compensation for what he had done, in other words.
R: And he was the first manager of the airport up there?
H: Yeah, the government came in and took it over. There was nothing he could do [because]
Uncle Sam wanted it. I want you, I want this. (Laughing)
CH: Really his cabins, and they were cabins, were located on the west side of Waldo Road,
H: [It's the west side] of Archer Road.
H: Oh the cabins? No, they were where the airport was.
CH: On the airport site? I thought they were on the other site.
H: Maybe some of them might have been, yeah, maybe they were. It's a long time ago.
CH: Of course, I think the airport's bigger now than what it was when he was there.
H: Oh yeah, definitely.
R: World War II was an important time for the expansion of the airport. Carl was forced to
move his operation to what became Stengel Field and the Army Air Force moved in.
What can you tell me about that, the operation that was going on out there with the army?
H: Well we had a lot of noise from the planes landing and taking off because it was so close
to Gainesville. It was interesting. The Air Force pilots were housed out there at the field,
CH: Yeah, they had dormitories out there.
H: Yeah, the government had [dormitories for them]. Some of the married ones lived in
apartments in Gainesville, too.
R: Did you know any of the folks stationed out there? Do you remember any names?
CH: [I remember a guy named] Snover.
R: What did he do?
CH: Oh, he was at Camp Blanding.
H: I was going to say, that wasn't him.
CH: Also people that worked at Camp Blanding lived in Gainesville. They had airports all the
way around here. They had one in Williston and one in Montbrook.
H: [There was one in] Palatka.
R: There was Keystone Heights.
H: We had Green Cove Springs.
CH: During this period when Carl was heading his programs, he also had an airport at Green
Cove Springs, and they tried to get one in Opalocka, Florida, but politics kept him out of
that. In other words, he wasn't in position to pay them the price they wanted for the
privilege of flying time there.
H: Opalocka became a government flying with the
R: Well why did the Air Force build up a base in Gainesville?
H: Probably the weather had a lot to do with it, and maybe the basic thing that there was a
field there that they could move in and take over.
CH: Well the other thing too, at that time, with the history of everything, it was just being
born. It was in a growing up stage. You had a group of fellows, the thrillers, who would
say, I want to fly, so they'd take lessons. Just like John D. Tigert II, he was a [student] at
[UF], and he ended up with Pan-Am. Several people from Savannah and all around the
area, students [from all over] would come out there and learn to fly. That was before the
R: Do you have any memories of Alachua Army Air Field?
CH: Not really.
H: It was on the other side of town.
CH: That really had come and gone by the time we got here.
H: It was going, it was flying the fighters, and we heard those bombers going overhead.
CH: I don't know if they'd call it the Alison Field yet or not.
H: That was at the end of the war when it was called John R. Alison Airport.
R: You told me that you could hear the planes going over. Did you ever hear bombs, guns, or
anything like that?
CH: No, they did not practice that.
H: It was just practice flying, but they were noisy, noisy flyers.
CH: [There was a] lot of hedge hopping done.
R: It was low altitude flying?
H: Yeah. I was told, we never experienced it, but they said that some housewife in
Kirkwood, which is right on South 13th Street, was hanging up her clothes out in the yard
and the Bomber came close enough that they went and took her clothes off her
R: That probably didn't make her very happy.
H: No. We didn't experience that, but I was told that that happened. You can tell [that] the
bombers came low.
R: Have you heard any other stories like that?
H: No, that's one that I heard.
R: Did you know any of the airmen stationed at the airfield?
H: No, I don't think we ever met any of those. We met people from Blanding, but not [from
CH: Well sometimes we met them at the hotel. That was a pretty garden there.
H: [giggling] I don't think we should talk about that.
R: That's okay, that's interesting too because there was an officer's club in the basement of
the Hotel Thomas.
H: That's right, we used to go there for parties.
CH: I don't think [it was] all the officers [only].
H: It was.
CH: There were often other people.
H: Yes I know, but it was called the officer's club.
CH: You see at that time, this area was dry. The only way you could get liquor was through
R: Oh, but they served alcohol?
H: You brought your own.
R: Oh, you brought your own beer to [the club]?
H: No, the beer you could get there.
CH: They could sell beer, but no liquor.
H: [It was in] the basement of the Thomas Hotel, which is now Thomas Hotel, that building.
Is the basement still there? Have you [been]? We haven't ever been [back]?
CH: I'm sure it's still there.
R: I don't know.
H: It was a nice little clubroom down there, and I'm just wondering if they had ever done
anything about that.
R: Do you have any other memories of parties at the Hotel Thomas?
H: We met there several times.
CH: There were different groups.
H: Yeah, there was the Jaycees.
CH: If there were any servicemen they generally joined in the activity. It would become a one
big unit party. The other place in Gainesville, when the military went out there, [it]
became a military [hangout] was the Bird, which is a type of nightingale, was out there on
H: The Nightingale Nightclub, they called it, was known as the Bird.
CH: That was one of the only places they could go, and they'd make you bring your own
liquor there, too, in brown packages. That was another place that burned down.
R: When did it burn down?
H: That was an interesting night.
CH: The firemen had a dance out there.
H: It was the fire departments annual celebration and they had a big to-do dance at the Bird.
They all went home and they closed up at two or two thirty or something like that. At four
o'clock it was in flames and burned to the ground on the night of the fire department's
R: What year was that?
H: It was right after we got here in 1943, probably about 1944.
CH: No, I think it's probably 1945 or so. I'm sure your paper, the Gainesville Sun, [would
H: I don't know that I had anything about that.
CH: [Go to the paper for] information about it.
R: Okay, in the Gainesville Daily Sun?
R: How did the community feel about Alachua Army Airfield?
H: I think they were glad to have it.
CH: My feelings were mixed feelings. I don't think a lot of people had gotten too into
aviation, because you have to realize that aviation was fairly new.
R: I guess the potential for the commercial aspect or military value, they weren't keen on
that. Could you explain yourself further? What do you mean they had mixed feelings?
CH: Gainesville has been a peculiar town. In other words, they don't like outsiders coming
and so called "becoming a success". They sort of resent that. So he, being independent, he
did make some enemies down the road.
R: Are you talking about Carl?
CH: Yeah. One of his good friends was Gus Phifer, of the Phifer State Bank, whom, when he
loaned money to do business, they were going on faith and not on any [collateral]. He
helped a lot. Gainesville is a very big, huge town in respect. They're very clannish.
R: You said they don't like having outsiders come in and be successful?
CH: That's right.
R: Why is that?
CH: [You have to] realize that back in those days Gainesville [was small]. People were really
into each other. We're talking about a town with 25,000 population. We're not talking
about a big city. In other words it's nothing but a large, small town, and you know what
happens in these small towns.
R: How did World War II affect that, because a lot of people came in from out of town? You
had the military at the University of Florida, you had the air base, [and] you had the
influence from Camp Blanding.
CH: You had a lot of greed in this whole area. In other words, I don't know about in
Gainesville, but they said in Starke, people were renting out chicken coops for fantastic
money for people to live in.
R: So renters were taking advantage of the military families?
CH: That's right. In other words, anything that could be made into apartments would be made
into apartments. [It was] just something to get their money from them.
R: Do you remember instances of that here in Gainesville?
CH: Not officially, no.
R: You heard, I guess, stories?
R: What are some of those stories?
CH: About the only one really they talked about was Starke, because there was a heavy
influence of military personnel in there.
H: [It was] so close to Blanding. Starke was just a widening in the road when we came here.
It just blossomed by the war and by Camp Blanding.
R: Yes, Camp Blanding became one of the largest cities in Florida during the war.
H: [There was] huge training that was carried on at Camp Blanding. Of course, they were
from all over.
R: What kind of economic impact did the airfield have?
CH: Are you talking about the Alachua Airfield?
R: [I'm talking about the] Alachua Army Airfield.
CH: I really don't know if any economic benefits have arrived from that, except we ended up
with the airport.
R: What kinds of things did the Gainesville citizens do to make the soldiers and airmen who
were here feel welcome?
H: They had the USO.
CH: The Boltin Center down here was built by federal money, and that was a USO. Weekends
they would be full. There would be dances in there; they served light lunches.
H: They had a reading room for the fellows. It was a popular spot. All the young ladies
became dance partners for the soldiers and a lot of romances were created from that. Then
it was called the USO, and now it's the Boltin Center.
CH: Also, the churches tried to have programs where the parishioners would take these
soldiers home for dinner and that kind of stuff. I would say that as far as that respect,
Gainesville was on the ball on that. They did a good job.
H: People in Gainesville welcomed the servicemen. I feel that. Doing the things in our
church that we did, plus living in an apartment across from the Boltin Center [USO], we
saw all the activity going on. My sister was living down here and was a beautician. She
was one of the hostesses and took part in a lot of the activities at the Boltin Center [USO],
so we were really involved with the soldiers.
R: Were there any problems with the military personnel in Gainesville?
CH: Basically no. I mean, there's very few isolated incidents of drunkenness and that kind of
stuff. Basically there were no major problems.
R: How were race relations in Gainesville during the war?
H: Gainesville was built of white people, and they were surrounded by black people, and
[then] there was white people [again]. The housing in Gainesville, you went from one
section to the other. It was amazing [to us] when we came to that. Coming from
Wisconsin, we had no idea about segregation and such. It woke us up. It was definitely a
separated social area.
CH: We didn't have any black soldiers. They brought in the black soldiers, but the blacks had
their own units somewhere. In other words, at that time there wasn't any bridges [between
H: I was going to say, we didn't see black service people.
R: So you don't remember seeing any black servicemen during the war?
H: Not down here.
R: Do you remember hearing about any accidents at the airports, close calls?
H: No, I don't recall that. [I don't recall] any.
CH: If there was any, it never got out.
H: It seemed to be a safe operation out there. It was certainly a lot of flying, we know that.
R: You did mention that there were pilots who took risks that local citizens didn't
appreciate, like the low level flying.
CH: That's right.
R: Here's something that I've wondered about. There were some major roads here in
Gainesville, and those might have seemed like popular places to go buzzing. Did you hear
about anybody doing that kind of thing?
H: No, [I didn't hear of anything like that].
CH: That plane was not a good plane for buzzing.
R: What kind of plane?
CH: Two engine bombers.
H: It was a B bomber.
CH: Those were [too] cumbersome for buzzing.
R: There were twin engine bombers out there. Do you remember any other kinds of planes
flying out there?
H: No, it was the training for the B-24's. That's what the set up was, for B-24's.
R: Do you think the army presence during World War II had any lasting effect on
CH: Yes in one way, we ended up with the airport. Number two, we ended up with the
recreation center, which has been the cornerstone for the recreation program in
Gainesville, as well as in part of Alachua County.
H: See, the government sold it to the city for $1, the USO building, the Boltin Center. It's
been city [owned] ever since.
CH: We had an increase of population based upon marriages of the servicemen with local
girls. I know a couple couples that that did happen. They became honorable citizens you
might say of Gainesville.
R: Why did the Army Air Force give the airfield back to the city after the war?
H: They didn't need the training [field] anymore, so they gave it back. That was because
there was no need for that type of operation.
R: I'll talk to each of you about this. Myrna, what has been your personal involvement with
aviation? You told me, for instance, that you were in the Civil Air Patrol.
H: We both were members of the Civil Air Patrol, and it met out at Stengel Field. I started
learning the manual and such to become a pilot, but I never finished.
R: Did you actually do some flying?
H: No, not as [a pilot]. [I flew] as a passenger, but not any actual flying. I thoroughly enjoyed
it. It was an interesting time in my life to study it and see the makings of a pilot and what
goes into it, but I just didn't finish.
R: Clayton, what has been your experience with aviation?
CH: As a passenger basically. I haven't been circling around the airport, but I've never done
any flying lessons.
R: What were your responsibilities in the Civil Air Patrol?
CH: Oh I had no responsibilities.
H: We had training. We had to go through all the military training.
CH: Oh yeah, the CAP program.
R: I ask that because along the coast there were Civil Air Patrol units that did anti-submarine
flying and air raid warning observation. I was wondering if you had any duties related to
those activities or similar to those.
H: No, [we didn't do anything like that]. There were some that went to the top of the Seagle
building and did aerial, but we weren't involved in that.
R: Did you ever go to the top of the Seagle Building?
H: No, but they used to have patrols stationed up there for observation.
R: Let's talk about Carl again, what were Carl Stengel's contributions to aviation?
H: I think he brought it to Gainesville. With his circus and all, he got young people
interested into aviation. Then going into training of the pilots, I think he brought aviation
to Gainesville by his flying skill.
CH: He also provided the impetus and the training for several to go into aviation and to the
army of his service.
[end side Al]
CH: I think that is a major contribution to the service, the introduction of aviation and the
training of young people.
R: What was it about Carl that made him successful? He seems to have been the number
one enthusiast for aviation here in Gainesville.
H: He had a wonderful outgoing personality. People enjoyed knowing him and working with
him. I think he drew the people into it.
CH: Yeah, in other words, he caused the individuals to build themselves up. As an example,
out there at the airport before he sold back there in the 1940s and 1950s, Ernest Pitts
designed the Pitts Special out there. He built several there, including one racer that they
used to use our house as one of the pylon for the track.
H: For the training.
CH: That plane there was better than 300 miles per hour.
H: We watched the construction of the Pitt's Special, which is still used in air shows. You
can still see Pitt's Specials, and the original was built right there at Stengel Field.
CH: The first one that was built, Betty Skelton bought that. It was a two-wing biplane. She
flew aerobatics throughout the United States. They moved [Pitts Special Manufacturing]
to Homestead, then Curtiss Pitts' sold out to a company in Colorado. About ten years ago
they had a show in St. Augustine and Carl went over there, and they had 2,700 Pitts
Specials there that day that flew in from all over the United States. After aviation died
down out there, one of the gentlemen who worked on the Pitts Specials, Dudley Reed,
opened up a violin factory and violin repair service, and [he] built the violins and violas.
R: That was here in Gainesville?
H: It was a trailer at Stengel Field.
CH: Yeah, he had one of those cement block buildings.
H: He lived in the trailer.
CH: No, they made them into cement block buildings. He actually, as it turns out to be, [was]
a fantastic violin [maker]. Dr. Cade has one of them, he's a concert violinist. He says its
one of the better violins that he's ever played.
H: It was made here at Stengel Field.
R: What time period was Dudley Reed doing that?
H: [It was] right at the end of the war.
CH: No, [it was the] mid 1950s.
H: Yeah, well after the war.
CH: [It was] after the Pitts Special, because Pitts went to Homestead. He didn't go down there
with Pitts. He stayed here and went into that.
R: Why did Curtiss Pitts leave Gainesville?
H: I have no idea [why he left]. (Laughing)
CH: It may have been for a better facility. Or was he from South Florida?
H: He might have been [from South Florida]. He was one of Uncle Carl's instructors in the
flying school program, and building the airplane was his pastime, his side [hobby].
R: And you told me that you saw them build it. I've heard from other people that they
actually traced out the outline of the wings on the floor of the hangar?
H: Yeah, you'd walk over there and go in and see the progress of building that little plane.
CH: They had nothing to go from. That was a complete new field of miniature airplanes. As
hot as they were, they had to be pretty good pilots to be in small plane like that and some
actions that they made
R: What kinds of stories can you tell me about Stengel Field?
H: I don't know.
R: Do you remember hearing about any accidents?
CH: No, Carl never had an accident nor did the PT & V [12 Program].
H: None of his students ever crashed. He seemed to have good luck with him whenever he
got in the plane because he never had problems, and he flew constantly. He was more in
the air that he was on the ground for years.
R: His luck also seemed to transfer to his instructors and his students?
H: Yep, he had a very successful [life].
CH: He was very high in safety. In other words, he knew what the plane could do towards the
good, and also knew what could happen in the bad. In other words, he was operating to
the positive side.
R: Who are some people in the area today who would be good to talk to about local aviation
H: C.A. Pound, Jr., probably, Buster Pound. He was one of the students and he ended up
high in the Navy air force during the war. I think he would be [good to talk to].
R: And he lives here in Gainesville?
H: Yes, he's the son of the Baird hardware [owner].
CH: His wife just died. The funeral was a graveside service for her at eight yesterday. The
other one is John J. Tigert, [i], down in Brooksville.
H: He was the president of the university's son, and he was one of Uncle Carl's students.
CH: He was really close to both Gen and Carl. Then there's one up in Savannah.
H: Oh, I can't say his name. Is it Podney?
CH: Now Patsy Stengel was the wife of Herb, Herb was the nephew. Did Herb go?
H: I don't know.
CH: He did the driving of the students.
H: Station wagon that delivered the students from the campus to the field.
CH: The other gal was Ruby Taylor, but she's dead.
H: And Herb is dead too.
R: Is there anything else you can think of that you'd like to say?
H: I'm trying to think.
R: Well I certainly appreciate your time, and it's been fun talking to you.
H: It's been fun recalling all this and bringing back a lot of memories.
CH: You can go back and I don't know if the college of engineering, in the history of their
activities, was having the PT and the V-12 program. Because the university was presented
the training, and all those housed were here for three months or six months, and the
university provided the instruction, the theory.
H: Carl gave the flight part of it.
CH: If you could find the record there if they're in connection with it.
H: Dean Weil was the dean of the college of engineering at that time, so you can go into the
history of the university.
CH: I think he was one of the key persons that got the thing in here and supported it.
R: Got what in?
H: [He got in] these government flight programs, the V-12.
CH: He was a very aggressive dean, and that built a bright college. They also had one of the
things to the side, and that is a fuse developed here at the university in the Seagle
Building. What fuse was it?
H: You should have brushed up on it.
CH: One of the floors of the Seagle Building is where they designed that fuse. It was a secret
and you couldn't get into that.
H: It was vital to the war effort and it was a hush-hush project.
CH: [It was the] proximity fuse that was developed there. One of the men that worked on that
was Paul Tedder. When he died, he paid his wife $50,000 to put her in the patents, but
they'd been done. [They] put patency in because they were all adding to the war efforts.
Sam Goethee is dead too. He was tied in somehow with Dean Weil in there.
R: Clayton, we didn't get this information at the beginning, but could you tell us just briefly
a little bit about yourself? Where were you born?
CH: I was born in New Glorus, Green County, Wisconsin, on June 30, 1918. It was a farm,
and I went to my first grades in school in a little one room schoolhouse, Plainview
School, and then went to New Glarus High School. I graduated there and helped on the
farm, and then ended up working in a hardware store, Disch Hardware in New Glarus,
Wisconsin. I developed a problem that traces back to [an accident], in high school when I
was a freshman, in my back. In wintertime it would affect my right leg and I'd have to use
a big brace down there. So that's one of the reasons I went to Florida, it got rid of that.
When I came to Florida, I went to work with the Baird Hardware, and my job there was in
charge of government programs. [I was in charge of] two major programs, the CMP,
Control and Materials Program, and the OPA, Office of Price Administration. [There
were] two Prentice Hall books there, and I had to know all in those books. When the war
effort was over, then I went to plumbing, heating, and electrical management.
H: [He did that] at Bairds.
CH: I stayed until 1963, then in1976 I went into whole sale distributing, and then into
R: I'm sorry, what was that last part?
CH: [I went into] whole sale distributing.
H: It's heating and air.
CH: Wholesale heating and air condition. I've been tied in with the hardware field, electrical
plumbing, controls, hardware, electrical plumbing and all those.
R: What were your dealings with the military during World War II?
CH: I was in stock and service.
H: [He had to do that] because of his back injury. The government didn't want him because
he had this back [injury].
CH: That's why I worked in the hardware store up there in Wisconsin. Then when I left and
came down here, it was still in the war.
R: Right, but you said that you dealt with certain programs. Did you have any dealings with
the military as far as filling orders or working with them?
CH: In other words, the Control Material Program and the old Office of Price Administration.
The Control Material Program had different ratings. In other words, if you sold 100 kegs
of nails to the government, they'd say, because class eight classification. We could place
that order base into a manufacturer at a class eight specification and get it filled prior to
any other classification. There was a means in which we applied for classifications in
order to replenish stock while running down the military sale. Also, the price of
administrations was frozen. In other words, you had a book, and that book was your bible.
There was only certain ways in which you could change your pricing up. In other words
you could go down anyways. But to increase your price it was a complicated process.
R: Did you sell a lot? Did the military order a lot of material through you?
CH: We did a lot of business at Camp Blanding. Also the chip building company over at
R: Did you have any dealings with Alachua Army Airfield?
CH: Yeah, I'm sure there was. I don't remember exactly.
H: Yeah, with some of the government contracts.
R: Would there be any records of those kinds of transactions left today?
CH: I would say there wouldn't be.
H: Would Buster Pound know much?
CH: I doubt it.
H: He was in as a pilot; he wasn't in the hardware business yet until he came back at the end
of the war.
CH: I doubt if there are [any records]. One of the gals that worked out at Camp Blanding is
still living here, but she's an old gal now. I don't know whether she'd have any
intelligence whatsoever. [Her name was] Durant. She worked with Scarborough out there
at Camp Blanding. Material is something that was all bid. It'd be classified on the rating
basis depending on what they needed it for. It was interesting during the time. Say we'd
get an approval for X number of dollars for a certain product, and then we'd place it there
and it'd get delivered, we'd cancel it there, and then place it somewhere else. Sometimes
both shipments were coming. It was interesting to me.
H: He had to keep Barid Hardware on an even keel with the government.
CH: I was from off the street in there, and I could tell them yes or no and they would
acknowledge it. There was a little bit of resentment from some of the employees because
R: How did you get the job at Barid?
CH: I had been here about two weeks and decided I was going to stay, so I went into Barid
Hardware and applied for a job. The man I talked to said, no, there was not an opening.
R: Who did you talk to?
CH: [I talked to] Sam Nixon. He was vice-president of the retail operation. I went over to the
next place, Cox Furniture, and they wanted a shipping clerk.
H: That's where the restaurant is today, on that corer.
CH: I went in Wednesday and was hired, and was starting Thursday morning. Before the day
was over, I got a call that Jim Lawrence over at Barid Hardware will see me. He was the
vice-president in charge of sales in the whole sale end. Somehow he found out that I was
applying for a job through Sam Nixon, and Sam sent me down the street, and that didn't
set very well with Jim because he needed some personnel. They offered the same wage
that I was getting, so I worked at Cox Furniture on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and
Monday I started at Barid Hardware on March 15, 1943.
H: He stayed for twenty years.
CH: Then after twenty years Then everything started from scratch because nobody
had been doing any of that. The inspector came through in 1945 and checked it, my
R: What organization was this inspector from?
CH: [He was from] the government. I think it was from the Control and Materials office. It got
a clean bill of help. In a conversation with him he said he'd just come from Marion
Harbor in Ocala, and he told them to get the thing into shape and he'd come back. It was
interesting, especially when I had no college education and no other [person] guiding me.
There wasn't anybody I could go asking for help because I had to develop the information
myself. We came through with only one complaint on price, and that turned out in
Barrett's favor. But that's the only one. The salesman said that they were the best
informed person's on priorities and pricing of anybody on the street. I got the advice of
what was happening.
H: You didn't realize how close your work was with the government with the war program
R: It was such an interesting time because so many people did so much for the war effort.
CH: A lot of these factories were losing all their key personnel to the projection.
H: They were going into the service.
CH: The idea of this classification business started at your military order, and that was
followed all the way to the mine. In other words, it was all connected together, and if one
place stumbled, the whole thing wouldn't run. It was very interesting. But that's now over
R: Well the library's going to kick us out of this room soon, is there anything else that you
would like to say before we conclude?
H: I can't think of anything. It was a very interesting life living close to Uncle Carl. I feel
close to aviation because it all started with him.
CH: One year, Aunt Gen rented a beach cottage over at Jacksonville Beach, so we flew over
there every evening and flew back in the morning.
H: I was teaching at P.K. Yonge and Clayton was working at Baird's, and Uncle Carl was
having this flight. As soon as work was done in the afternoon, we'd all get in his plane
and he'd fly us over to Craig Field in Jacksonville, and then Aunt Gen would meet us
there and take us to the beach. Then the next morning she'd take us back to Craig Field
and we'd get in this red Cessna and fly back to Gainesville so I could go to teach and he
could go to Baird Hardware.
R: So the two of you just piled into this old Cessna with him.
H: It was a four place Cessna. His red one. That was a wonderful summer vacation, working
and enjoying the beach at the same time.
R: What summer was that?
CH: I would say it was in the early 1950s.
R: It was well after the war.
H: [It was] around 1950, yeah.
CH: The regrettable thing is that if he had been a better businessman and not been fleeced out
of some of the stuff, Stengel Field would be a flying field today and not a [shopping
R: What were some things that happened to Carl?
CH: He poured money into some things, like his Opalocka deal down there that didn't turn
out, and some other things that I don't know exact particulars [on]. Not one thing caused
the problem. Actually, in one way it did not deter him, because he went and built that
motel down at the Withlacoochee River, Inglis, after that. As it turned out, he was up
there about twenty-five years.
R: Who was Carl working for?
CH: [He was working for the] Suwannee Lumber Company at Cross City. He did all the
maintenance cleaning up the yard. He had equipment, dump trucks and a front end loader,
which he leased out. He charged them every time he used it to clean up the yard, plus [he
got] his wages. But he'd go up there, leave the house here about 3 or 3:30 in the morning
and work all day, and then he'd come back.
R: You say he was a great pilot but not necessarily a good businessman?
H: Yeah, that's right.
R: You say he was fleeced. What were those situations?
CH: He had one or two troubles because they worked with [finances], and all they did was see
what they could get out of it and then took off.
R: What did they do?
CH: They screwed up the management basically. In other words, he was a little bit gullible. I
don't think you want to publish that.
R: I think it's valuable to know those kinds of things, because it's important to know what
kind of person Carl was. I think to really appreciate the things that Carl was dealing with,
the challenges he faced, and also the contributions he made and the businesses he built
up, it's important to know not only his strengths, but his weaknesses.
CH: It's a little bit like he ran two stores. If you're here at one place, they'll steal you over at
the other place. So you go over there, and in the meantime they'll steal from here. This is
about the case of that. In other words, he had a place over at Green Cove Springs, [and]
he's trying to get this one at Opalocka. He had some place elsewhere, and Gainesville,
and he couldn't be at all places at the same time.
R: So it sounds like in a way it was a problem with the managers he hired to take care of
these far-flung businesses.
CH: Yeah, it was personnel problems.
H: Wasn't there one at St. Augustine?
CH: Yeah, I think so. So that is really what happened. See, he went bankrupt.
R: When did that happen?
CH: [It was] in the 1950s. He lost the houses. That was a separate entity from the airport.
R: You're talking about the houses that were near the airport right?
H: The Stengel Housing that was across Archer Road.
CH: Then eventually he lost the airport. The corer by C.K. Hammond and Gene Ahmond.
They owned the College Inn, a very, very successful operation. C.K. Hammond was
trained to where he made pennies out of product rather than dollars. In other words if you
could make a penny here and a penny there, it all accumulates to make a dollar. That's
what happened to the College Inn. So then he and Gene ended up at the airport, and
somehow they sold it to Clark Butler.
R: And Carl ended up having to sell the airport because of financial difficulties?
H: That's right.
R: So it was a way for him to get out of debt. Do you know how much he sold the airport
CH: I have no idea.
CH: I think it was a foreclosure procedure.
R: At that point it was way beyond his control?
CH: Then Clark Butler bought in. From that time on Clark Butler started building houses.
R: He was very successful.
CH: He was very successful.
R: I read recently an oral history interview that's in the collection at the University of
Florida, and I thought it was interesting that Clark Butler said that the Stengel Airport
development was the biggest project of his life.
CH: His whole Archer Road project has developed into a tremendous operation, because the
airport didn't take up all that property. He bought motels, houses, restaurants, everything
from 34th Street to 1-75. Carl didn't own but about a quarter of that. He invested a lot of
it. You don't have a project of that size anywhere else in the United States like he's got.
There's thirty-five [restaurants] in that area out there.
R: I want to thank you both for your time, I've enjoyed talking with you.
H: This has been fun.
[end of interview]