R: Jones is being interviewed by Verdell Robinson. Arthur is one of the students that
attended Ogden Elementary School. what year did you start school?
J: Let's see here.
R: Take your time, think back. How old were you? Maybe if you think how old you
were when you started, then you can say what year it was.
J: Must have been 1928 maybe. 1928.
R: 1928. Do you know how old you were when you started?
J: I really don't know. I can't just guess it.
R: I wasn't six or seven or eight, or four or five? Maybe you were one of those early
J: Let's see, maybe seven.
R: Maybe seven?
J: I don't know. Seven.
R: So if you were seven, then that will put it at 1928 still? 1928. Do you remember
the year you stopped school at Ogden? Was that the only school you went to,
J: I went to Douglas High School.
R: Oh, okay. I guess my question though is what year did you stop school at
J: I don't remember that.
R: Do you remember what grade you were in your last year at Ogden?
J: Probably second, I would think. I don't know.
R: Do you remember the month that school opened and closed?
J: No I don't.
R: Probably in the fall it opened.
J: Around September, I believe.
OSP-5, Jones, Page 2
R: Around September?
R: Was it a six-month school term, or three-month?
J: I think it was a three month.
R: if it opened in September, then it closed in December. There was no school after
Christmas? I know you had to work then.
J: That's what I'm thinking. I can't think. I don't remember. I can't answer that.
R: But you think it opened in September probably.
J: Probably, yeah.
R: And you think you only went for three months at a time.
J: Right, that would be about right.
R: How did you get to and from school?
J: You talking about Ogden?
R: Yeah, we're talking about Ogden.
R: Walked. Walked there and walked back.
R: Who were the teachers back then?
J: Professor Laws, and Franklin Jones.
R: Did they stay out there or they commuted from Gainesville?
J: They roomed with Uncle Arthur.
R: Oh okay. They roomed with your Uncle Arthur. Both of them stayed at the same
J: I'm sure I'm right, yeah, they roomed with Uncle Arthur.
OSP-5, Jones, Page 3
R: Which one of them was the lead teacher or the principal? Was one of them
considered the principal, or one of them?
J: One teacher and that was it.
R: One teacher? So Professor Laws, when he was there, Franklin Jones was not
J: No they taught at different terms.
R: So when one was teaching the other one wasn't?
J: No there's different terms of school, like this term, and there wasn't but one each
time, one teacher for the whole school.
R: Okay, okay, yeah. So, of course, if it was only one, then that one was the lead
teacher or the principal, the whatever. That one was the one.
J: That was it.
R: How many students did that teacher teach?
J: Oh Lord, roughly I would say it was forty or fifty maybe. It was a lot of students.
R: Was the school divided in to more than one room? So it was just one big floor?
J: No. One big, open.
R: No partition?
J: No partition.
R: You were in the second grade, and if they had some fourth graders there. The
teacher just taught all of ya'll the same thing at the same time?
J: No, you went at time. Everybody was in separate, like it was first grade. When
they called first grade, all the first graders they went up. They had no particular
place to sit or nothing. They said well we didn't want to. When they were called
up they always stood in lines in the whatever being taught. Other than that they
were at their desk, but when they called for like first grade or second grade, they
went in that grade and they stood up.
R: What about writing? What if they had to write?
J: They had a blackboard.
OSP-5, Jones, Page 4
R: But they didn't write on the paper on the desk?
J: No, we didn't have much of that.
R: That's interesting, huh. How was the school heated in the winter time?
J: A wood heater. They'd go out in the woods and get a group to go out and gather
wood everywhere you could find it.
R: Of course it had windows. You just opened the windows to cool it, or the windows
were open all the time?
J: To tell you the truth I don't remember whether Ogden School just had a big front
door, double front door just opened wide, but as far as windows, I don't
remember. But I remember it had double doors they'd just swing wide.
R: Where did you eat lunch?
J: Under the trees. We used to have an old log we'd all sit on and eat dinner, we'd
bring our lunch from home, such as it was.
R: You had a bag or a bucket or a pot?
J: They used to have a little bucket that by law they called a jewel. A jewel lard and
mostly it was what you had your lunch in. In this bucket would be, well with three
or four from my house, all that was in there we had to eat together. That one
bucket had everybody's food in it. You'd sit down and everybody would get a little
R: With three or four sisters and brothers you'd eat out of the same.
J: Yeah, all the food was in that one bucket.
R: Well when you got it, did you have something to put it in, or you'd just eat in your
hand? Everybody got a little bit.
J: Everybody got some.
R: You didn't have a plate, but what did you put it in?
J: I don't remember how we ate it
R: I'm trying to see that.
J: We had a spoon or two in that bucket. I don't know if we passed the spoon
OSP-5, Jones, Page 5
around or just how that thing went, but we all at out of one bucket.
R: Okay. How long did you have to eat? Like a break or lunch hour?
J: I think we had a whole hour. You'd play ball and whatnot during the lunch hour.
R: So you had some recreation time. Was there another time, too? Did you come
out later for another break period for recreation?
J: No, the next break school would be over. School must have terminated around
two-thirty or something like that, I don't remember. The next break you'd be on
your way to go home.
R: So the only break was lunch break for an hour, and you played, and that was
your activity time as well. Then you go back in. Then the next time school was
J: School was out in the afternoon.
R: What time was that break? About twelve o'clock?
J: Twelve o'clock.
R: So from twelve to one you were outside?
R: Then you'd come back in and have lesson again. Some of the other grades I
guess would be taught.
J: Yeah what you call primer. You don't remember that primer.
R: Yes I do. I remember primer, yes I do.
J: That "Little Boy Blue," you know, was in that primer grade.
R: Now is that before first grade?
J: That's at the beginning of it when you got in the primer grade
R: Yeah that's first, that's like in like kindergarten I guess.
J: Yeah. I don't know what to think of what the book said.
R: I was gonna ask you about that, too. That's coming was about the books.
OSP-5, Jones, Page 6
J: I'm trying to think about the books. One of them had primer about "Jack and Jill."
I think that was in the first grade. "Little Boy Blue" went up the hill, and all that
kind of stuff. Let me see, what was some of the stuff in the other one.
R: Anything about a horse through the green gates?
J: No. I don't remember.
R: Back to the food. Was there any food prepared at school?
J: None at all. You had to bring it from home.
R: Didn't cook. Everybody brought it. What you played outside was ball?
J: We played baseball. We had a croquet set.
J: It was nice man. I thought I was going somewhere with that croquet set.
R: Now is that something you hit with a pallet?
J: Right, a little pallet. I don't remember how that thing, but I think you start off, you
have a round [thing] you stick 'em in the ground, and you could knock the ball
R: Oh yeah.
J: Then they'd have one sitting to the side and you gotta know to hit that ball to
make it go in that little one.
R: What about the outhouses?
J: It was wood and it was in the back of the school.
R: Was there more than one?
R: There wasn't one for boys and one for girls?
OSP-5, Jones, Page 7
R: It was just one for everybody.
R: Okay. It was in the back of the school. So the girls and boys just had to line up
and have different times to go I guess. The teacher did that?
J: As far as I can remember let me see, what was it, you used to use a finger sign.
If you wanted to talk to somebody you'd say, may I speak, and you'd hold up
your finger. You wanted water--I done forgot how that thing went. If you wanted
to be excused to go outside, just hold up three fingers I think. I done forgot all
R: Now the water, did you have a pump at the school?
J: We had a pump, but the water was kept in a pail in the back of the school. It was
in a bucket with one dipper. Everybody drank out of the same bucket. When he
drank, he dipped it back in the bucket, the next man get it, he'd drink, just like
that. When he'd get through he'd just put it back in the bucket. One man passed
it around. You'd dip and drink and put it back in the bucket.
R: Oh, so somebody had the bucket and they passed the water.
J: Somebody would get up and pass the water. They did this at certain times, get
up and pass the water around. I don't remember whether the teacher said pass
the water or whatnot, but it was done by one of the students just come down the
R: One of the bigger students, older students.
J: Yeah, bring the bucket with the dipper in it. Everybody just drank and then put it
back in the bucket, and then the next man did.
R: You said down the line, you all were sitting in individual desks? You had a desk?
J: Desks, yeah. There was isles in there.
R: Between the desks?
J: Once and then one per desk.
R: You were talking about the books, the text you were using. What condition were
they in? Were they new?
OSP-5, Jones, Page 8
J: You couldn't tell what they was by looking at 'em. There wasn't backs on them or
anything, you couldn't tell what they were. You'd say well I don't know, didn't they
have what you call a supervisor going to get their books today, but he'd bring 'em
in a cardboard box. I can't remember how you would tell which is a fresh one
because they didn't have backs on 'em. They're just old books that look like they
should have been thrown away. That's what we had to study in.
R: They had been used.
J: Oh worse than that. You just couldn't tell what they was. There wasn't no backs
or nothing on 'em.
R: But what about inside once you open them up. The pages were torn up, too?
J: That's what I'm trying to tell you. That's what we had to go by with the help of the
teacher. They'd give you your books and that's what you'd study.
R: Did you take them home?
J: Oh yeah. You had to keep up with what they give you your books. You had
assignments and so forth.
R: Anything else about the books?
J: The first time I remember doing the Roman tables, they wasn't time tables, they
was Roman numerals. One "I" one, then come up with two times, with the times
tables. I remember, too, when quite a few people, and you were sitting by one,
and you'd like to make an eight, you'd draw a line. That was an eight. Couldn't
just make eight like they do now. You'd do like this, draw you a line. ...
R: And then put like an "s" through it?
J: "S" through it, and that was an eight. That's what it looked like for children to
make eights. They wasn't making eights like that then. You had to draw a line,
and best I can remember it was done like that. That was an eight.
R: Looks like an eight to me.
J: That's the first way we'd learn.
R: Okay, Mr. Jones. This question is about school closing. What did they do at the
end of the school year? Were there any activities?
J: They had a school closing program. They'd have spelling matches. Usually had a
big turnout for lunch, food you know. Everybody would bring food, just a big day.
OSP-5, Jones, Page 9
R: A family. The parents brought food.
J: Yeah. [The] spelling match was about the only thing I think they had.
R: What about a play? Did they have a play?
J: Usually around Christmas time with Santa Claus. Christmas, that's when you'd
see they had plays and things. Christmastime.
R: Now you said earlier that you think school only lasted about three months, so it
should have been closing around Christmastime. Did you come back, do you
remember now that you're thinking? Did you come back to school after
J: I don't think you did, no.
R: So all of that, the spelling bee ....
J: Three months is about as long as school would last I believe. I can't remember.
R: And that's because people had to work?
J: Oh man. That was the main thing.
R: You had to do that even when school was in?
J: Oh Lord. When they decided they had something that needed to be done, you
could forget it for a week. When you go back, as far as grades, you wasn't
graded. Just start off again. I don't know where you start at.
R: So when the school year ended, you might not get promoted, is that what you're
saying? You may not have been to school enough to go to the next grade?
J: Best that I remember, you don't know whether you passed, was gonna get
promoted or not, you just start according to what ever books they give you when
you go back to school the next time. But as far as passing or getting a grade,
they didn't have no grades then.
R: So you didn't even know what grade you were in?
J: No, no.
R: What is one of the things that you remember most that happened to you, or it
happened if it wasn't to you, to some of the other children, some of the teachers
while you were at Ogden School?
OSP-5, Jones, Page 10
J: I think the most thing I can remember is the first time I ever [had] seen a movie.
They showed us a movie once. There was no sound, but the actions were there.
As I can remember they could just put a sheet up on the wall and show the
movie, and boy I thought that was it.
R: Do you remember what it was about? Was it a cowboy move, or was it
something to do with school?
J: No, it was more like, I would say a general work. They would show like I
remember seeing mules and plows. It was different actions, but it wasn't nothing
like cowboys, no. It was just working in general.
R: More like farm?
J: Farm work, that's what they showed. I remember seeing it looked like, I
remember good the plow was going. It wasn't the mule or nothing there. The
plow was going by itself, you know. I remember that real well.
J: Oh man. Fiction was what it was. I remember that. That's about one of the main
things I remember. Other than that whatever, you know, you went to school. It
was nice, you know. We had what you call ball games. We'd get groups, you
would play one another.
R: You'd chose sides. Somebody would pick what side, who was going to be on
J: Right, that's it. That's the way it'd go. We used the old system to find out who
played first. You'd throw the bat up, catch it, and the one who'd get the last hand
they'd go first.
R: So it would be hand over hand.
J: That's to keep from arguing over who played first.
R: Oh. Now they, I guess they do that now.
J: They flip a coin.
R: Flip a coin. Of course you children didn't have no coins.
J: I was fixin' to say. That was out of the question.
R: The teacher might have had one, but maybe. That was the way it was.
OSP-5, Jones, Page 11
J: That was kind of scarce back in them days. It was scarce back then, coins.
R: Sure. So the first movie that you ever saw it was without sound, but it was action.
J: Right, no sound, but action.
R: And it was a sheet on the wall?
J: That's what it was, just put out a white sheet. Show that movie, but it was no
sound, you just had to look at it.
R: Well now that was which one of them professors? Was it Jones or Laws?
J: It might have been Laws. Laws was there before Franklin.
R: What did your parents think about education as far as making sure that, I don't
J: They would never push that. I don't think we got pushed on that too much. You
never heard my daddy mention nothing about no school. That was his last
thought. I can't say.
R: What about your momma?
J: Same. I don't think my daddy never been to school.
R: Where was he from?
J: Fort White. The mine at Fort White. I don't know where that is, but that's where
he say he come from.
R: Fort White.
J: Some mines in Fort White somewhere.
R: Some mines?
J: He say he was born around the mines in Fort White. My daddy's mother was a
shepherd. Grandma Fanny was a shepherd. You ever hear of them shepherds
around Fort White in Columbia County?
R: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
J: That's some of my grandmother's people, and the Lotes. All of daddy's people
OSP-5, Jones, Page 12
are mostly from Columbia County.
R: Back to the next question. Your parents, really, you never heard them say
anything about education?
J: No. That was a off the table issue.
R: What about the girls versus the boys? Did they want the girls to go, but the boys
had to stay home and work?
J: Seems like the girls had, yeah. He was more interested in them going. They did
go to Fegnien, let's see.
R: That's in Ocala, isn't it?
J: Yeah. On this side of Ocala, but that's about as far as they got. I don't know if
they even finished high school or not. I was in the military when they went out
there, so I don't know. But I know they went to Fegnien.
R: What about the teachers? Did they push education? They wanted ya'll to learn
what they were teaching?
J: Oh yeah. Both of them teachers were pretty stern, pretty stern. In fact, they said
professor Laws was a little bit too stern. He would just push too hard. At that time
they had switches they kept. They didn't have straps, they'd use switches. You
could see them in the corner by his desk. Professor Laws had gotten in trouble
quite a few times about being a little bit too rough.
R: The parents got on him about it?
J: Yeah, he was too hard. But professor Franklin Jones, He was just a good
teacher. He put his on the line for you to learn. Professor Laws was just mean.
He would put it to you. Otherwise that's about all.
R: Did he ever whip you?
J: No, but I've seen him whip people. They didn't have what they have like you
send people to the principal's office and all that. He was all of it. Whatever he
[wanted]. I think even when the primer was out it was that way. Wasn't nobody
but him. There wasn't no two teachers.
R: That's what he said, yeah.
J: I'm quite sure he was like that. He was it.
OSP-5, Jones, Page 13
R: Yeah. Well Arthur, that's all of the questions that I had. I appreciate you taking
the time. Is there anything else that you can think of about during that time when
you were at school that you want to tell us?
J: Well, all I can say is that was some of the good old days, some of the good old
days. We had to walk, and we know what we had to do, so that was no problem,
just do it.
R: What was there, a school bus for the white students?
J: Oh yeah, yeah.
R: At that time?
J: Yes sir. You had to get out the road every morning. Yes sir. As far as I can
remember back they always had school busses.
R: Who was this driver?
J: Lem Beatenball.
R: Oh then, too?
J: He drove the bus out there, the only one that I ever known.
R: 'Cause he was the one driving when I was in school.
J: He was the one. I knew his dad. I don't know why they called him a Bryant, his
daddy was a Beatenball. But they called him Lem Bryant. The white children
always had busses, but we never had a bus as far as I can remember. We
walked, I guess we must have walked five miles. Back from where ya'll live out to
where Ogden school is now.
J: Back and forth.
R: Okay, Mr. Jones, I appreciate you takin' the time.
[End of Interview.]