Interviewee: Richard J. Anderson
Interviewer: Joyce Miller
Date: December 13, 1976
Dr. Richard J. Anderson came to the University of Florida in 1943, where he has
served as professor of psychology and as an associate with the University Counseling
Center. He retired from the University in 1979.
In this interview Dr. Anderson discusses at great length the economic and social
conditions of Gainesville and the University of Florida, beginning in the 1930s. He has
a remarkable memory for detail. Considerable attention is paid to Gainesville's
business district, especially in the 1930s.
Of particular interest is life at the University of Florida in the 1930s. As
background, Dr. Anderson describes the economic boom of the 1910s and 1920s,
during which many bright, ambitious, and wealthy people came to Florida and to
Gainesville. When the Florida boom burst, followed shortly by the Great Depression,
those people were unable to leave Florida. On the positive side, the children of these
bright, energetic people attended the University of Florida, and Dr. Anderson considers
the 1930s one of the best in the history of the University in terms of students, faculty,
Dr. Anderson has vivid recollections of such items as rat caps, rat courts, rat
parades, tuition and dorm fees, F Books, which "contained vital information that every
good freshman ought to know, and every bad freshman was going to suffer for not
knowing," the Orange Peel, which was a "humor and pornography magazine" written
and edited by students, and WRUF. He worked for WRUF and talks about Walter
The decade of the 1940s was one of rapid growth for the University. Dr.
Anderson is especially proud of his work on Public Law 346, which dealt with tuition for
veterans. In addition to benetiting these veterans as students, this new policy also
enabled the University to make substantial progress on maintenance work that had
heretofore gone undone. Dr. Anderson also speaks of President J. Hillis Miller and
Klein Graham, the University's business manager.
M: We are with Dr. Anderson in his office in the Psychology Building on the
University of Florida campus on December 13, 1976 at 4:15 in the afternoon.
Dr. Anderson, what was it like on East Main Street in the 1930s?
A: It was developing around the courthouse with a thin thread leading from there out
to the University. There were a couple of hash house-type eating places across
from the campus and a few similar little eating places scattered every block or
two between downtown and campus. That is a reasonable characterization from
a very superficial point of view.
But, actually, the heart and core of shopping and business concentration in
Gainesville was East Main Street, which is the area now known as NE First
Street for about two blocks, from the area that has been cut off [by a brick wall]
just east of the courthouse to me, at least, that is a nonsensical and stupid
mass of bricks and the little stub of SE First Street extending from that barrier
of bricks two blocks to the old post office. Actually, East Main Street, from the
old post office to the old City Hall, was the heart and core of Gainesville.
Starting at the old post office at the south end, just two blocks south of University
Avenue, you had the post office facing north cutting off the streets. Once that
street left the downtown business district it went past the Holy Trinity Episcopal
Church, the First [United] Methodist Church, the [First] Christian Church
[Disciples of Christ], and the Roman Catholic St. Patrick's Church. It had three
of the five or six most prominent churches in town, including the First Methodist
and the Holy Trinity Episcopal, which probably were the two principle churches of
the business and professional community in town. It had also some residences
along that street with a planting mall in the middle of it and very nice landscaping,
and there were some very comfortable homes of some very prominent local
citizens scattered among the churches beyond the business section.
In the 1930s, the post office anchored the whole crux of the business
community. Right next to the post office on the east side you had University
Chevrolet, run by the Davis family, and on the west side you had the Lyric
Theater, which was the older of the two movie theaters then in town. There
were two movie theaters: what is now the Great Southern Music Hall [and is once
again the Florida Theater] was the Florida Theater up on University Avenue,
which was relatively new in the 1930s, and the Lyric, which was the older movie
theater and the one more widely used by townspeople. The Florida [Theater]
tended to be mostly a student theater. There was also a theater out on what
was then called Seminary Street, NW Fifth Avenue, out in the northwest section,
in what was then the colored neighborhood of Gainesville. That was, of course,
a black theater, a "colored" theater, as it was called then.
Next to the Lyric Theater you had a couple of little eating places and then the
firehouse. The original downtown firehouse was the center of the fire
department, as well as the place where the engines were kept; it was the
administrative center for the department. Firehouse Number Two was built in a
location that, as you know, has recently been closed in the northwest section on
about Seventh Street. There was the Greyhound bus station across from the
firehouse at the corner there of Second Street (the third avenue going from the
post office) and Second Avenue going north of the firehouse and the bus station.
Then there were furniture stores. The Cox Furniture Company moved in on a
feed store after the big fire in the spring of 1938. It was over in a location that
was later used by Sears [Roebuck & Company] for about fifteen or twenty years
and is now used by Flake Parker [Complete Office Outfitters].
M: That was a Sears before it was Parker's?
A: Yes, that was the Sears store in this area before Sears built out where they are
now on Thirteenth Street. Sears was in there from the time it was rebuilt after
the 1938 fire until the time that mall [Gainesville Mall] was built in the 1960s, so
Sears was in there somewhere around the vicinity of twenty-five years. I said
fifteen to twenty; it was longer than that.
Now, until Sears moved into there, the area west of the courthouse square was
not a prime shopping area. Along old Union Street there, what is now SW First
Street, was a small stubble of street that did not go anywhere. There were
mostly ramshackle buildings with tin sheds over the sidewalk, and they were fish
stores, sawdust-floored meat markets, and feed and seed stores. There were a
lot of little businesses like that in there, like Luther Blake's blacksmith shop,
which was the only survivor of that whole background of tradition. Rice's
Hardware Store is another minor remnant of that period. The Smith-Decker
furniture store was the first introduction of a class operation in that area.
Robinson's Market, right next to that, is somewhat similar to what some of the
stores in there were like, but only by present comparative standards of judgment.
It is a much more modern store than anything that was in there thirty or forty
years ago. But that area along the west side of West Main Street facing the
courthouse was not a particularly impressive shopping area.
M: Now, [Louis] Berkum's and Chitty's what side of the square were they on?
A: Jim's Men's Store was where that location is now, on the southeast corner of
what is now called Main Street and First Avenue South. Henry Chitty, Jr., [ran
that family business]. Henry was a classmate of mine here when we were
freshmen, but he later went to Clemson to get his degree because he wanted to
study agriculture, particularly cattle breeding. He did not want to put up with the
general education program with University College to please Dean [Walter J.]
Matherly's ideals [dean, College of Business Administration], and he cut out for
Clemson on that note. When he came back, he took over the operation of the
men's store because it was a traditional family business that had been in the
family since 1910. Now, Louis Berkum, in those days (since you have used his
name), was the Studebaker dealer. He, to my knowledge, did not have a
business in that area, did he?
M: At one time he did, but he might have been out of it by then. He changed
businesses, and I think it might have been as early as the turn of the century
where his family owned a stored in that vicinity.
A: Well, actually, there are very old Jewish merchant families in Gainesville who
have been in the community a long time, and several of these people have been
in multiple businesses. But the Louis Berkum I am thinking of, whom I knew
rather well, would have been a middle-aged man remember, I was a teen-age
kid, so he was a middle-aged man who might have been in his early thirties to
me. He was the Studebaker dealer at the time when I was a student around
here, and Studebaker was a very popular and prestigious sort of car. In fact, I
can remember when my engineering friend, LaTour, whom you have mentioned
a couple of times today, used to drive Studebakers because he, being a person
who understood mechanical things, felt that driving a Studebaker was consistent
with the judgment of them, and he was proud of it. A Studebaker had a good bit
of prestige as a car that a sensible person would buy.
M: There were quite a few dealers, though, in town at that time. There was a Ford
dealership, and the Brasington family was already in the dealership by the late
A: Oh, yes, and actually automobile dealers Charlie Brooking, the
Plymouth-DeSoto dealer, and Stottlemeyer, the Chrysler-Plymouth dealer -were
very prominent politically and socially in the community. Of course, Shaw &
Keeter was the Ford agency in those days, and the Davis family had the
Chevrolet agency, which I have already mentioned as University Chevrolet down
on SE First Street.
M: And Ogletree was here in the 1930s.
A: Yes, the Ogletree family is a very old family, and they had various automobile
agencies over the years. Unfortunately, the makes were consolidating and
going out of business. At one time right after the War the University of Florida's
business manager, George Baughman, got affiliated in a Packard agency, which
I believe his father operated. George was the principal source of credit and
investment capital for his father to operate the agency, and they operated the
agency for a very short time before Packard and Studebaker had to join forces,
as both companies were in the process of folding into what is now American
There used to be local outlets for a dozen or more automobile manufacturers in
the 1930s, because in the 1930s automobile companies were not going out of
business, and the Depression did not reduce the number of brands. In fact, the
Chrysler Corporation brought out Plymouth in 1933. They had not been making
Plymouths until the Depression, and then they decided that with the Chrysler
Corporation having Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge as relatively what were then
called medium-priced cars, they needed to compete with Ford and Chevrolet with
a cheap car in the low-price range. They invented Plymouth in the middle of the
Depression, and it sold well enough to become one of the big three in terms of
sales volume. They stayed that way until sometime after World War II when
things began to shape up on a new basis, and General Motors began to
dominate the whole industry.
There were a lot of automobile dealers in town. University Chevrolet, as the
dominant one, along with Shaw & Keeter, was the only one on this East Main
Street business section. Then, as you went north, opposite the courthouse on
East Main Street, you had a tremendous block in that one long block. I
mentioned the old bad theater building was operating as a feed and seed store
before Cox moved in in 1938, and then came the courthouse on the west side.
On the east side, you first have the Phifer State Bank, which not only was very
prominent, but Uncle Gus Phifer was probably one of the most influential men in
town. Not only was he a wealthy man and a principal stockholder in the bank,
which was the Phifer State Bank, but he was a tremendous source of financial
support and encouragement to other people.
Next to the Phifer State Bank you had McCrory's dime store. That store closed
after a long period of years. It was an un-air-conditioned store that had run
down and had outlived its day, but in the 1930s that was the new big dime store
in Gainesville. It was the prestige dime store; it had about three times the floor
space of the Woolworth store, which was just a little corner store. Woolworth's
was not this whole block that you see now. In fact, it was right there by the
railroad tracks on University Avenue and occupied just the front corner of its
present site--maybe fifteen or eighteen percent of the present area because of
the store's floor space. There were also pool halls and beer joints and things
like this behind the Woolworth store in the rest of that block, taking up about half
McCrory's store was the big dime store, and then you got to Baird Hardware. Of
course, Addison Pound, Sr., who has recently died in his eighties, [owned Baird
Hardware]. Addison Pound, Jr. is right now probably in his early sixties. C. A.
Pound, Jr., sometimes known to older people around Gainesville as Buster, has
been taking over more and more of the responsibility for the Pound operations,
but old Addison remained very active until he died. Baird Hardware was very
important as a retail store that sold practically everything. They had exclusive
lines on many types of merchandise. It was the state distributorship, for
example, for Mercury outboard motors. [State distributorships] did not amount
to much in the 1930s, but it was a key to the wholesaling of hardware.
Baird Hardware was a far more prominent regional business than most people
realize. Baird hardware was the principle hardware retail outlet between Ocala,
Tallahassee, Orlando, Jacksonville, and the Georgia line. Addison Pound told
me on a couple of occasions that when he first started working in the Baird
Hardware operation he used to be out on the road for a very, very low salary.
He operated with a wagon, selling hardware on a kind of Avon lady-type route.
Calling on the customers instead of having the customers have to come to
Gainesville, he could sell a new hammer or saw, a handful of nails, or some of
the things that you might need on a farmstead in the way of immediate hardware.
Then as you came up across University Avenue, the old Vidal drugstore was on
the corner facing Baird Hardware and the courthouse and Wilson's department
store. Again, Wilson's department store was a little store in the front of the
present building. I still remember Tony Steller and the tailor's daughter, Viola.
Viola Steller used to sit up there keeping the books on a balcony in the back of
Wilson's. I remember when I used to go and deposit my paycheck with Uncle
Gus Pfifer. When the University was very late paying--and the University was
frequently late paying, and by now we are talking about the early 1940s rather
than the late 1930s--Uncle Gus would deposit your paycheck before it arrived
from Tallahassee and deduct fifty cents on the deposit slip. You could then
draw out a considerable portion of the money in cash and go pay your bills up
and down East Main Street. At Wilson's balcony, Viola Steller sat up there with
Wilson's books opened and a pen and ink ledger. She would take the $8.00 or
$6.48 or $7.53 or $12.19 or whatever it was you owed for last month in cash and
give you a handwritten receipt.
Right behind Wilson's, where Nelson Reeves's shoe department is in the present
Wilson's department store, was the phone company--not just the business office,
but the switchboard and the operating equipment. And then, of course, the Holy
Trinity [Episcopal] Church was there.
M: I believe above Wilson's were located doctors' offices and professional offices.
A: They were not above Wilson's so much as above that whole block building, which
I believe belonged to old A. P. Vidal, the pharmacist. Yes, I got my first draft
physical with old Dr. Snow up there in one of those doctors' offices directly above
the city drug company. You went up the stairs right alongside the city drug
company, and there was a long hall running up and down from one end of the
block to the other. The stores downstairs were rented out as retail stores, and
the offices upstairs were rented out as doctors' offices and so on separately. I
still remember Dr. Snow leaving me standing in that room with one chair in it; he
told me to put my clothes on the chair, so I had no place to sit. The old
courthouse, with its dirty, dust-stained windows across the street, had no curtains
or shades, and his office had no curtains or shades. It was cold weather, so the
windows were closed on both sides of the street, and I still remember standing
there shivering. Across the room the door opened into the hall. Dr. Snow had
other offices up and down that hall and one where he probably sat and did his
paper work, but when he went to go to an examining room, and he left the office
where he did his paperwork (and he probably left the door wide open) and went
down the hall into these other rooms where he had patients standing with all their
clothes on one chair in the room. It was a fairly minimal medical practice.
M: Was this in the late 1930s that you went for this physical?
A: Well, this was my draft physical, so it had to be the fall of 1941. The situation in
the 1930s had been identical, however, because there was not much change in
those days. You have heard about the changes in the Seagle Building in
1937/38. That was the only major change in anything downtown, or near
downtown. In those days the Seagle Building was regarded as "halfway"
downtown, and not downtown. As a matter of fact, there was nothing much
between Shaw & Keeter and the Seagle Building except that filling station, which
is now Firestone but was operated then as a filling station.
Getting back to the other side of East Main Street--we are now talking about NE
Main Street, north of University Avenue opposite Wilson's and Baird Hardware,
behind the Vidal Drug Company. Now, a lot of people had offices in there.
There was a small barber shop in there that did a lot of business for the
downtown people. Ben Richards had a real estate office in there. M. M.
Parrish Sr. and Jr. had their offices in there.
Across First Avenue, opposite the Holy Trinity Church, was a Margaret Anne
supermarket. Margaret Anne was a chain out of Lakeland or someplace down
in south central Florida which gave rise to one of the present chains. I am not
entirely sure which one, although if I stop to think a minute it may come to me.
But that Margaret Anne store was built just before World War II, in the late 1930s
or possibly 1940, and it had enormous floor space.
The tax collector's office was in the same block with McCory's and Baird's
hardware. By the way, between McCrory's and Baird's there was a Piggly
Wiggly grocery store, which was later incorporated as a gift shop by Baird
Hardware. They had supermarket-type service in a tiny little store of about
1,500 square feet. They used shopping carts and had a cash register at the end
of the counter and some other modern conveniences; it was an imitation of the
Margaret Anne grocery, which really was a supermarket. It was like the big time
supermarkets that you were beginning to see in larger cities.
Now, what this meant is that in the late 1930s, or just before World War II, East
Main Street contained essentially everything in Gainesville. The post office and
federal building was at one end of it, and city hall was beyond Margaret Anne's
were at the north end of it, so that city government was up there. By the way,
that old city hall had almost as much usable floor space as the present new city
hall. It was on the corner of East Main Street and what we now call NE Second
Avenue. All of those streets were open so traffic did not clog the way it does
Then they built that present city hall, which I think is a monstrosity. I think the
thing looks like a cement factory, and it is one of the most monstrously ugly
pieces of architecture I have ever seen anywhere. But, to me, that terribly
inefficient and relatively useless modern city hall cuts off the four streets that
used to run through that four-block area, and the city hall that used to exist on the
corner was a very efficient and operational building. It was built only in the
1920s, so tearing it down was, in my opinion, a political travesty and an
economic disaster. The present city hall will not last as long as that building
would have lasted if it had been left where it was.
M: Let me ask you about one particular story, though, that you did not mention. I
have read some reference to a Montgomery Ward's store downtown, yet no one
that I have talked to has mentioned it.
A: There was none. I do not even remember a catalog walk-in facility downtown,
although there could have been something like that in a small hole in the wall
somewhere. But I can say absolutely, and as certainly as I have said anything,
that there was not a Montgomery Ward's store. I do not know where you got
that story, but God knows what you come up with in stories. I know I got sort of
annoyed today or yesterday reading the Gainesville Sun that our visiting
graduate research professor, [William] Woodruff, who made the commencement
speech, was reported by some kid who has been in town a couple of years as
the first University of Florida faculty member to make a commencement address.
This is utter nonsense, because we have had some very famous speeches, and
some very important speeches, made as commencement addresses on this
campus by faculty members, many of them long before my time, I am sure. As
a matter of fact, the commencement speech made to my graduating class was
[delivered by William G. Carleton, and it was a] very, very prominent and a very,
very significant speech at the time it was delivered. It was a very timely
appraisal of the world situation, much more so than Dr. Woodruff's talk, although
Dr. Woodruffs talk certainly was much more meaningful and had an enormous
amount of content compared to a typical commencement address.
M: Your commencement was in 1939 or 1940?
M: I do not even recall the three that I have listened to.
A: Bill Carlton made a terrific appraisal . [interruption] ... and then our deep
involvement in the War, because we were about as deeply involved in the War in
May or June of 1940 as we were in December of 1941. It was just that we had
not been involved in the shooting as a sitting duck target the way we were on
December 7, 1941. I think that Carlton's appraisal of the world situation was a
very meaningful commencement address. I think this is one problem. To my
way of thinking, the University of Florida was a better academic institution with a
better faculty and a better student body than is the case today. They were more
alert to what was going on in the world.
M: Was that because of the limited number of people? Was it possibly because of
the times, or was it possibly because of the fact that it was all male and therefore
[experienced] fewer diversions? Why would you say?
A: I would say all of those are fairly superficial features. For one thing, it was not
all that small. This was the only university the state of Florida had ever owned.
Although it was all male, practically every male who graduated from a Florida
high school who wanted to do anything in any academic field, or on any
university-level profession, came here. I think that was our biggest asset,
because one of the things that happened in the United States in the 1910s and
early 1920s was that some of the most ambitious, able, and promising people in
the United States came to Florida. Some of them got rich and stayed, some of
them went broke and went home, some of them died without ever accomplishing
anything or leaving anything, but a very large percentage of them got trapped
here. Now, many people came to Florida in the 1910s and 1920s with ambitious
plans and money to invest, and their ambitious plans failed. They lost the
money that they had to invest, and some of them lived to die rich in the 1940s,
1950s, and 1960s. Some of them did not even live to die rich; in fact, some of
them lived and died without getting rich.
Many of these people left a legacy that Florida has not appreciated that I do not
think anyone has pointed out, and that was they left their kids. Extremely bright,
ambitious, the up-and-coming newly-wed young couples came down from Boston
or Chicago or Detroit or New York or Philadelphia or Cleveland with money, with
plans, and they got trapped in Florida when the boom collapsed. Then, when
the Depression hit the country, they really got trapped in Florida. Their children
came to the University of Florida, even if the fathers had gone to Princeton or
Northwestern or to Michigan or Cornell. We had the best students that you
could find in the United States in many ways, because we had the children of the
people who had come here in the 1910s and 1920s as builders and as ambitious,
capable, energetic people. There were not very many of them in the world, and
there never have been very many of them in the United States; they tend to
move around in the United States. They tended to swarm into New York in the
late 1820s through the 1840s, pushing it ahead of Philadelphia as the largest city
in the United States. And once the Erie Canal was built, that made it the
greatest port in the world. You do not find much evidence of them anymore
because their sons and their grandsons tended to move on to Chicago after Mrs.
O'Leary's cow or to San Francisco after the collapse of the Gold Rush and the
building of the Transcontinental Railroad.
You find here that these people swarmed up and down the Florida East Coast
Railway and U.S. Highway 1 and reached the end of everything in Miami. They
stopped off at St. Petersburg, where the distance and Tampa weather ended
their railroads these people dropped off into Florida. Some of the few spots of
progress and development that there ever have been in the United States [have
been here in Florida].
I think that is the reason the University of Florida had such outstanding students
in the 1930s. We built such an outstanding academic program, and was, in my
opinion, a far better institution then than it is now. Not only did we have better
administrators and better faculty, but especially we had better students. You are
not going to find a generation of students like that again until you bring about the
same kind of accidental combination of forces.
Now, many of the children of these Floridians whose fathers were trapped here in
the 1910s and 1920s and whose fathers and mothers left the state and the
University nothing much in the way of economical physical development or
accumulated wealth [have been going elsewhere to college]. The interesting
thing to me is that the children of some of these Florida students of the 1930s
have not been coming here. They are the ones who have been going to
Harvard and Princeton and Northwestern and Stanford because by now their
parents can afford to send them anywhere. They go to schools with the higher
academic standards and prestige, especially the private schools with national
and international acclaim.
I really think that what I have been saying about students also can be extended
to some extent to faculty. The University of Florida, when it was established in
1905 and was open for business in 1906, did not grow very fast at first. Then
President A. [Albert] A. Murphree, [president, University of Florida, 1909-1927],
who got promoted over here after having been the president of the Florida State
College for Women until 1909, replacing [Andrew W.] Sledd [president, University
of Florida, 1905-1909], was able to build an extremely high caliber of faculty in a
climate of tremendous expansion and tremendous exuberance. Incidentally,
Murphree had the same length of term as [John J.] Tigert [president, University of
Florida, 1928-1947]--nineteen years. Now, it was not a particularly distinguished
faculty, because his secret of success was to hire young and keep. Our
promotion rate and our salary increase rate were slow, and, unfortunately, both
are still somewhat slow compared to most academic institutions. But our holding
power was great. It so happens that once the boom had collapsed and the
Depression hit we were able to hold a terrific faculty at extremely low salaries.
Most faculty members today would find the circumstances of employment and
conditions of payment and fulfillment of contract obligations absolutely horrifying,
but they have to understand what the true situations had been. We had a
tremendous faculty then.
M: Where were you at this time? Where were you before you came to the
A: Actually, I was born and raised in New York and graduated from a high school in
Jamaica, [inaudible] of Queens County, out on Long Island. It is one of the five
counties in New York. That was a very peculiar situation, also, because I was in
Queens County, which had increased from 440,000 people in the 1920 census to
1,080,000 people in the 1930 census. The county moved up to something like
fifth or sixth in population among all counties in the United States. The increase
in population of that county alone would have been very high in the rank of
counties, which means that the county had practically no facilities, especially
schools. I did not even go to a public school until I was in the fourth grade
because there was none. We had no police protection and no fire protection,
just exorbitant taxes; city taxes were unbelievable. There were no city facilities
that far out in the fringes of the city. There were only two paved streets in the
community where I lived, with 30,000 people. There was one wooden school
building built in 1870 with a two-room annex built in 1910 being attended by
1,000 kids on split shifts in a community of 28,000 people. That was the public
Now, I graduated from high school. There was no place really to go to high
school in New York, so my father deliberately retired very early and came down
here to investigate. I wanted to be a college professor when I was a kid, and I
still to some extent want to be one, but I am weaning. My father decided that if I
wanted an undergraduate education in the 1930s as a foundation for graduate
work, the University of Florida was the best place in the United States to get it, so
he retired early and we moved to St. Petersburg. In fact, we moved to a house
he was living in when he died in 1974. He lived there for 38 years, and moved
there essentially so that I and my bother could go to the University of Florida.
So I deliberately came to Florida to attend the University, and I graduated from
high school before coming here. I believe it was true that under the University
College in the 1930s you could probably get a better undergraduate education
here than just about anyplace in the United States.
M: You are referring to the general college program that was instituted?
A: As a part of the total picture. Now, actually, remember we had a brand new
graduate school beginning about 1930 under Dean J. N. [James Nesbitt]
Anderson. We had a very forward-looking administration, first under President
Murphree, and then under John Tigert from 1928 [to 1947] until Millard Caldwell
[governor, State of Florida, 1945-1949] managed to liquidate President Tigert.
That was probably one of the worst and most abusive things that has ever
happened to this University by a vicious political intrusion. But we had
tremendously good leadership in the administration and were able to accumulate
an extremely fine faculty.
M: Before we discuss the faculty, what did you major in when you came? In what
program did you enroll?
A: Well, I came with a terrific background in mathematics as a freshman. I wanted
to major in mathematics, and did. When I got my bachelor's degree, I got a
fellowship to do graduate work and started out doing my graduate work in
mathematical statistics. I thought that in the impending future there would be a
tremendous explosion of data processing and mathematical and statistical
technology, which would be about as earth-shaking as the agricultural revolution,
which took place in various stages. Things did not develop quite the way I was
expecting, but I think things have developed in this area rather phenomenally.
I know I was still talking on this note at either the first or the second symposium
ever presented to the Southeastern Psychological Association in Atlanta in 1956,
twenty years after I came here as a freshman. I still remember putting forth a
whole lot of ideas in 1956 concerning the tremendous advances within
psychology, like psychometrics, statistical data processing, application of
computer technology, and all of these things that I said would probably take
place within the next ten years. The last man at that symposium was old E. E.
Cureton from Tennessee, who was then head of their psychology department.
Cureton was still alive. The last time I saw him was at a meeting in New Orleans
in 1972, but he was a white-haired, crotchety, disillusioned, somewhat embittered
old man in 1956. Also on the program was Bert Drucker, who was talking about
the hardware and the machine technology of computer operation. Cureton said
that the highfalutin ideas of these two young squirts who had preceded him on
the symposium sounded great to him, but he was perfectly willing to guess that
for the rest of his life most of the work done by psychologists would still be done
with pencil and paper, and a lot of the arithmetic would still be wrong. I think,
unfortunately, that Cureton turned out to be right, because a lot of the things that
I thought were going to happen within the next ten years twenty years ago -
have not happened yet, and a lot of the work being done by psychologists is still
being done with pencil and paper, and a lot of the arithmetic is still wrong.
I got the kind of mathematical background I was hoping for, I guess, but I began
finding as a graduate student that I was looking for more ways to put the
statistical technology and the mathematical models into more constructive uses.
I decided that psychology was probably more promising than economics or
biology or some of the other areas that I had been sounding out, even though I
had had practically no undergraduate work in psychology at all. I decided to do
my doctorate in psychology at the last minute, just before going off to Michigan to
work on my doctorate. Dean [Thomas Marshall] Simpson, who had been my
advisor as chairman of the math department when I was an undergraduate, was
unhappy about this because he had gotten his Ph.D. from Wisconsin in
mathematics, and up until the day I left for Michigan to get my Ph.D. in
psychology he had always encouraged me to go to Wisconsin to take my Ph.D.
in mathematics. I did not do that, but my younger brother later went from here,
where he was president of the student body during the turbulent years of the
War, and he got his bachelor's and master's degrees here right after the War.
He later went to Michigan and got his Ph.D. there in mathematical statistics, and
he stayed in mathematical statistics, which is a fairly pure and unapplied
discipline. Any involvements I have with computers and mathematics and
mathematical models is in connection with research projects, usually
psychological or in community psychology or some psychologically-related
orientation of one kind or another dealing with testing or evaluation, so I am really
in somewhat the same orientation as I was when I came here as a freshman.
M: You mentioned a few minutes ago professors, and then you mentioned your own
professor, Simpson, is that right?
A: Yes. Dean Simpson came here very early, about 1917 or so. When I knew him
he was head of the math department and had succeeded J. N. Anderson as
dean of the graduate school. In those days all of the deans were also
department chairman who were being paid very meager salaries, usually with no
noticeable increments for multiple-administrative responsibilities. Now, what this
usually meant was that a man who was both the dean and a department
chairman usually had one secretary who was the secretary in the dean's office.
There were only about a dozen secretaries on the whole campus, and half of
them were in agriculture, because they mailed out the agriculture bulletins to the
experiment stations and so on. The registrar's office, the president's office, and
the agriculture experiment station were the only outfits that had any secretarial
help. The departments did not have any secretarial help, but the dean might
have a secretary as dean who would do all of the work of the college. The dean,
as department chairman, might have some younger colleague who, as a junior
assistant department chairman, would do most of the administrative work of the
department, particularly the routine work or the leg work.
This was true rather widely. For example, [James] Speed Rogers was chairman
of the biology [and geology] department in the College of Arts and Sciences. He
was the chairman of the C-6 biological science survey course in what was then
called the General College, and he was director of the Florida State Museum.
He had three administrative positions for one salary. And Townes Randolph
Leigh, who was chairman of the chemistry department, was also dean of the
College of Arts and Sciences and the vice president of the University. It was
quite unlike the situations now where I have friends who are vice-president and I
do not even know they are vice-presidents. I know about a dozen people who
are vice-presidents, but there must be at least one who is a vice-president that I
do not know it yet. At least I find out every once in a while some friend I have
had for years has been a vice-president for a couple of years and I have not
known it. But Leigh was the only vice-president we had and was, as some of his
detractors used to point out, one more than we needed. He spent practically no
time and had practically no function as vice-president, except to try to go over
and read Tigert's mail when Tigert was out of town. He tried to be chairman of
the chemistry department and he tried to be dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences, and this did not leave him a whole lot of time for the vice-presidency.
He was caught holding on the lids of two cans at once, and you start running out
of hands to hold down a third lid.
M: What was your reaction to John Tigert himself?
A: Oh, I thought he was a monumental man in more ways than physical. Tigert
was an extremely staunch man. He was big and strong and rugged physically.
He was stern and very strong morally and spiritually, and he was a man of rather
dogged persistent courage and determination. He was also reasonably affable
and friendly, and I think he did some very, very prominent things for the
University. Of course, the one man who's name you may not have heard often
enough, or who's role in this University in the 1930s you may not have
appreciated, is Walter Jefferies Matherly [dean, College of Business
Administration]. Have you heard much about Matherly?
M: Matherly's name has been mentioned, but not with any emphasis.
A: Well, Walter Matherly was, in my opinion, a tremendously powerful force on this
campus. He came here between the collapse of the boom and the onset of the
Depression, probably about 1927.
I have not confirmed any of the dates on this. If I use a date, for heaven's sake,
do not hold me to it, because these are approximations; they all can be checked
in the written sources. Whatever you can say about the bias and the selective
editorial wickedness of written sources, they at least stay put. Confabulations
and verbal memories do not stay put, and tapes can get demagnetized and
erased. I think we are stuck with written sources for some of the best
authoritative documentation we can get, because however bad the thing was at
the time it was written, it at least stays what it was. Something can be wrong
when it is written, like this business in the Gainesville Sun the other day about
Woodruff's being the first commencement address by a faculty member or any
such nonsense. I know somebody wrote some sports page recently that the
1928 University of Florida football team was the one that came closest to winning
the Southeastern Conference title.
M: There was no Southeastern Conference in the 1920s.
A: This is correct. The Southeastern Conference was not established until 1933,
so if 1928 was the closest we have ever come to winning the title, we have really
been bad. But this is what some sportswriter wrote. It was probably some
sports writer who was born since 1933 and is still wet behind the ears.
Anyway, Matherly's role was tremendous because he not only built a very sound
and very aggressive College of Business Administration, but he was the principal
architect of the General College or University College. He put it together, first as
chairman of the committee to study general education and make
recommendations to President Tigert, and then in selling the committee
recommendation to Tigert as an operational act of the president of the University.
He then served as acting dean of the General College to get it through its
uncomfortable delivery and its weaning and its walking and its standing on its
own two feet, when an overwhelming majority of faculty were violently opposed
to it. There was more opposition to the General College when it was foisted
upon this campus by Walter Matherly than there ever has been since, in my
opinion. When I got here as a freshman the opposition was deeply
indoctrinated. I do not know whether you have had this pointed out to you or
not, but Steve [Stephen C.] O'Connell [president, University of Florida,
1968-1974] was a member of the last freshman class to come here before the
M: No, I did not realize that.
A: He was indoctrinated with the idea that they had ruined the University by making
the new kids come in under a nonsensical scheme that nobody liked. I think
O'Connell's attitudes toward the General College or University College never
were particularly favorable because he was a member of the last class to escape
it; this was his awareness all the while he was a student here. This is one
reason why, in O'Connell's presidency, the University College got less than
staunch support from the president's office. O'Connell had never experienced
anything but strong opposition to the University College by his fellow students
and classmates who were not in it. The new kids were being told, "Boy, are you
kids being given a bad deal."
The first freshman class to come here not in the University College was in 1935.
That was smaller than the 1934 class. Now, you can say this is due to the
Depression or the general dwindling and so on. No. The University of Florida
always leads national trends. We are sort of in a position like the kid on roller
skates playing on the end of a snap-the-whip where, when you start skating
around the school yard and somebody begins to trip and something goes out of
whack, it is the kid on the far end who was going to bang on the wall.
When the post-war boom hit, we had 2,800 students in February of 1946, at the
end of the first semester. The start of the next semester, in February of 1946 -
the same month we had 6,500 students. By September of 1949, we had
11,000 students, which made us the twenty-first largest university in the United
States. Then the roof fell in. The crop failures of the birth generations of the
1930s began reaching college age, and the number of people of college age in
the United States began declining enormously, the way it is beginning to decline
now and will decline drastically in the 1980s. When they are not born eighteen
years ago, you do not invent them as college students. Unfortunately, the
quality of the college student material declined even more than the quantity in the
1930s, and I believe again in the 1960s, so I think the problem we had in the
1950s is very similar to the problem we will have in the 1980s, and it is very
First of all, we had a numbers erosion and a decline in the number of college
students. But, beyond that, somewhat more subtly and even more disastrously,
we had a terrible decline in the quality of college students, and this is insidious.
Of course, our enrollment got down to around 8,300 to 8,500 by about 1954.
Just as we led this tremendous swing up from 2,800 in the first term after the War
to 11,000 within three and one-half years, we bumped. Even though we
became co-educational and brought in hundreds of women, and our female
enrollment tended to offset some of our loss in enrollment, we still dropped far
faster than the national average.
This University will never be a large university again. We will never get to
twenty-first among universities in the United States again. We not only will
never get back to where we were in 1949, we are not close to getting half-way
back. In other words, we were twenty-first then, and we are not about to get to
forty-second; I do not think I will ever live to see us be forty-second, much less
twenty-first, again. We have had it. This has been partly a matter of internal
state politics, you see, as has been discussed by a number of people.
M: As a teacher, I have had it. I have felt it personally.
A: Yes. Well, getting back to Matherly's situation, Matherly was a tremendously
ambitious and capable man, and a very, very effective administrator. For a long
time it was presumed that he would be a logical successor to President Tigert,
and I think this is something that would not have displeased either of them. Had
Tigert left under some other circumstance, we might have had a different story.
Of course, Tigert left with Millard Caldwell still in the governorship, and Tom
Leigh and John Tigert were liquidated by the peak of Millard Caldwell's
administration. Somebody who had been grooming as Tigert's successor was in
about the same position as Tom Leigh's assistant coaches Millard Caldwell
was looking in those directions. In fact, the first three people who were the
front-runners in the Caldwell-dominated search for a president of the University
of Florida all had one thing in common (this is nothing against a state; I do not
mean for it to be taken either facetiously or fantically): they were all born in
Mississippi, and this was one of the things that endeared them to Millard Caldwell
with his congressional record and his political and emotional affiliations coming
out of west Florida.
M: I am afraid I am not familiar with who was president between 1948 and 1953.
A: J. Hillis Miller.
M: Oh, that is right. I am sorry.
A: Now, Hillis had two virtues. One was, as president of the Associated Colleges of
Upper New York, he forced them to string together a bunch of their army air
force, navy, and other military installations in small towns and barracks buildings
into a set of state colleges established by the state of New York for veterans on a
very weird basis. I told you [that] in 1936 I graduated from high school in New
York. At that time there was no place to go to school in New York. The state of
New York did not have a university of any consequence, or even an identifiable
university. Oh, on Long Island there was a small sub-collegiate academic
program out in Farmingdale with some kind of an agricultural/industrial school
that did a little bit of potato and cabbage technology. Cornell had some state
assistance to its agricultural programs, I think, to capitalize on federal money that
was used for land grant operation in the land grant states which had land grant
colleges and universities. There were also a couple of shabby teacher's
colleges scattered around the state of New York. In fact, my high school took
over one teacher training institution as an annex when the high school enrollment
got outrageous and the high school had no place to put students.
I had trouble telling my classmates in college when I came to the University of
Florida that the high school I attended had three times as many students as the
University of Florida. It had three times as many people watching its football
game when we lost to our principal rival, 48-0. When I was here at the
University of Florida as a freshman, we beat Maryland, 7-6, in the old horseshoe
that had been built in 1924 and was dedicated by a loss to Alabama, and we had
about 8,000 people watching us beat Maryland, 7-6. A year earlier I had
watched our high school lose before a crowd of 20,000 not 8,000 and we lost
48-0 to a rival we had not scored on in the four years I had been in high school.
We had 20,000 people at a high school football game, but my classmates at the
University of Florida could not believe in a high school with an enrollment of
10,000. They could not believe that I had about as many people in my freshman
class in high school as the whole University of Florida enrollment, and about as
many people in my high school graduating class as our freshman class at the
University of Florida, because it was a different world.
But, anyway, we were dealing with a situation where the University of Florida in
the 1930s was a tremendously up-and-coming institution, and Matherly was an
important part of that total operation. But Caldwell would not touch him with a
ten-foot pole as a successor to Tigert. Miller was in an ideal position because
he had proven his ability to put things together and organize and move with the
future. He was able to use the gimmick in the Public Law 346.
Public Law 346 provided an original fifty and seventy-five dollars for married and
single veterans. When I was at Michigan I was heavily responsible for having
that raised to seventy-five dollars for single [veterans] and ninety dollars for
married [veterans]. I wish I had something more to do with it than just writing a
research report (which lead to some misconceptions and misinterpretations), but
I had done a study of veterans in Michigan and found that single veterans could
not make it on fifty dollars they were spending nearer to seventy-five dollars -
and the married veterans could not make it on seventy-five dollars they were
spending nearer to ninety dollars. The married veteran was mostly being heavily
subsidized by his wife's income, and that was not included in the interpretation
which fed back through the lines of communication putting pressure on the
government to raise the stipend for veterans.
But, in addition to paying the veterans, the institution was paid the full tuition
costs. Where a state university had established out-of-state tuition, the
out-of-state tuition costs were paid even for in-state veterans. This meant that
we began hiring janitors in buildings that had never been swept, and we began
replacing floor boards that had worn off around the nails. We began putting in
windows that had been broken for twelve years and painting walls that had never
been painted since the buildings were built, because we suddenly had money
running out of our ears. This is how we were able to afford to expand the
graduate program; [we were] able to grow like mad, because the University of
Florida had about seventy percent of its students under Public Law 346 right after
the War. No other state university had over half. A university that was
co-educational might have had seventy percent of its males on Public Law 346
but might have forty percent female enrollment, so it wound up with about
forty-five or fifty percent veterans under Public Law 346. There would be about
fifteen or twenty percent males not under Public Law 346 and about thirty or forty
M: Let us go back to some of the personalities, then, of the 1930s. As long as we
are talking about finance, this would be appropriate, also. [Tell me about] Klein
Graham [business manager, University of Florida].
A: Well, Klein and I were very close friends. I think one of the things that I want to
say now about Klein and John Tigert [is that] they both worked together here for
a long period of years. Klein, as you may know, was severely crippled. I never
saw Klein when he was standing up; he was always hunched over and had
severe spinal distortion, even when I was a freshman.
He was our original business manager. He came here from Lake City with the
strong boxes and the ledgers. He told me one time that when they came from
Lake City they could not take the road directly south through High Springs
because there was a vigilante committee ready to burn the records and beat up
the people. They did not want to evacuate the Lake City agricultural college,
which wanted to become the University of Florida in Gainesville, so they followed
the railroad tracks along the present route of Highway 100 to Lulu, and then
worked their way through the woods from Lulu back down towards Gainesville.
They left this crowd of vigilantes south of Lake City thirsting for blood, ready to
ambush them on the road.
By the time I came here, Klein had already been business manager at the
University of Florida for over thirty years, and he was in very poor health. He
retired about 1948 when he reached retirement age, but Klein's mind was still
alert when he was around 80. He lived over there near the duck pond, just two
or three blocks from me, and I used to go see him. It was very rarely on a purely
social call; sometimes it was on Rotary Club business when I was secretary or
president of the Rotary Club. Klein had been the founder of the Rotary Florida
Fellowship Scholarship Loan Fund program, and I used to see him about that
and other things.
I would go to see Klein and he would say, "Oh, come in, Dick, come in. Pick me
up; prop me up; prop me up. I want to see you. I want to talk to you," and his
mind would be so alert and so bright. He would start asking, "Do you remember
when Walter Mayberry did such-and-such in the game against so-and-so," and I
would say that I remembered and we would talk about it for about an hour. He
would say, "Now, do you remember back in 1915 ... ," and I would say, "Wait a
minute, Klein. I was not even born." He would say, "Oh, that is right. You
remember a few things of the more recent old times, but nobody remembers the
old times." Now, Klein, despite his physical frailty and the fact that I never saw
him when he could get out of a chair and walk around, was acutely alert. His
mind was so alert when he was an old man that he could actually remember
precisely people's salaries at times when certain budgets were passed and the
dates when things happened. Now, I am better than most people at this kind of
thing, but Klein is so much better than almost anybody I have ever known. This
was one of the involvements he had as business manager; it was part of a
But John Tigert, as an old man, got to the point when he could not remember a
thing after he got back from India. The last time I saw John he was physically a
powerful man. John was still about 6'4" in his old age and he still must have
weighed 250, and he was awfully strong. I saw him in front of some apartments
he owned, about a block or two from where Klein lived (about five blocks from
where I live) one afternoon when I was out strolling. I walked on and said, "Oh,
Dr. John, how are you doing?" John looked down at me and said, "Old friend, I
recognize you, and I know you are somebody I know and have known for a long
time, but you are going to have to tell me your name, how long ago we knew
each other, and how well. I do not recognize people anymore." John knew
He was wearing a pair of size fifty-six purple shorts, an extra large undershirt,
and shoes and these short men's socks in the style that almost everybody wears
now that just come up about four inches about the shoes. It was a sort of
funny-looking getup to be out there edging the lawns with one of these old
disc-type scoop edges, which are very inefficient. They edge about four inches
of grass per shot, but with John's prodigious strength, even in his old age, he was
operating that edger [handily]. He was reaching over and throwing the grass
scraps off the curb. It was a hot day, too; it was probably close to ninety
degrees. He was sweating a good bit, but the hard labor was not bothering him.
He could not remember much about anything. I talked to him about things that
had happened and people he had known back when he was president and I was
a student. He remembered his tremendous fondness for John McCarty, who
was his favorite student body president, and he remembered some of the
attitudes he had had. But as far as memory for events or dates or specific
things, John did not have much memory of things.
M: Was John McCarty Dan's brother?
A: Yes, [he was] Dan's younger brother and was president of the student body here
the academic year 1940-1941. Dan had been a student in the early 1930's. In
fact, Dan was speaker of the [Florida] House of Representatives in 1940. But
Klein Graham, even in his old age, was writing poems and writing songs about
the University of Florida. If somebody would come by and talk to him about the
University, he would talk for hours.
M: They are very fortunate in that they have a tape of him.
M: It was made a number of years ago.
A: Well, I am very efficient in doing business on the phone. I do business much
more efficiently over the phone than I do in person because I do not like to
terminate or to direct personal involvements excessively. I do like to terminate
telephone conversations expeditiously for a number of reasons. My daughter
calls from school and spends forty-five minutes talking to her mother, and then
calls back fifteen minutes later because she just remembered something else
she wants to talk about. I get upset, because I regard these excessive long
distance phone class three and four times a week as totally unnecessary. As
they point out, it is good for my wife and daughter to visit on the phone, but what
they are doing is visiting on the long distance phone, and I do not ever do that.
But Klein would sometimes call me on the phone and talk. I might have to go to
class or something, and I am never going to tell somebody over the phone I am
going to hang up on them because I have got to go to a class. I think most
people are too damn rude about things like that, anyway, and I do not want to
encourage that sort of orientation. But I do not think Klein ever ran down on a
conversation or ever hung up because he was through talking. It always had to
be some pressing demand of mine, such as having to go to a class which was
already assembled and waiting for me downstairs, or having to get in the car and
drive to another building to find a place to park by the library at 2:30 in the
afternoon. I would have to start winding Klein down and tell him, "All right, Klein,
I remember that, and I am very interested in hearing about it, but I have got a
scheduled appointment in a couple of minutes. Let us get back to
such-and-such and finish that up. Then we can come back to this later if we
have time. But I am going to have to do this and this." [I had ] do it with clear
and full explanations of what we were doing and why, and not with an abrupt: "I
have to go now, friend."
One of the things that impressed me about Klein was his desire to be heard and
his willingness to be involved. One time, just before he died, when the Rotary
Club was still meeting out here at the Holiday Inn on Thirteenth Street, he was to
come over and talk about the Rotary Loan Fund this rotating, revolving loan
fund that he established. It had gotten archaic. It was established very
generously in the 1930s to provide [a loan in which] a student would not need to
pay back any on the principal [while he was in school] and [would have to pay]
only three percent interest beginning immediately after he graduated from
college. He then had a long time to pay back the principle; the three percent
interest had to be paid immediately, and periodically. This was extremely
generous for those days.
Now the federal government is doing nine-to-one matching, and most of the
money that the federal government has put into certain notorious institutions is
being stolen nobody ever pays it back. You put up a thousand dollars, get
nine thousand dollars of federal money for a total of ten thousand dollars, and
literally steal it. They give it to students, keep no records, and the next year the
students go back with another thousand, get another nine thousand, and do the
same thing with another ten thousand. That kind of thing was not happening
[back then]. The loan fund that Klein designed was an extremely generous loan
fund, but it had become somewhat unpopular because of its rather stringent
requirements: the money had to be paid back, and with interest. The interest
accumulated and had to be repaid periodically the minute you left school. We
had the thing reorganized, and Klein was supposed to come out to the Rotary
Club [and speak on the matter]. Well, somebody got him into a car and got him
there. I felt very flattered. Do you know John Selle?
A: Well, if you have been talking to people downtown and have not heard about the
Selles, I do know what is going on; you should have heard about the Selles.
M: I will check it out.
A: There are two brothers, probably in their late sixties, John and Paul, and there
was a little sister, Adelaide, probably in her late fifties or close to sixty. Their
family came down from Wisconsin and was very prominent in several lines of
business, particularly forest technologies, excelsior mills, which used Spanish
moss fibers for upholstery, and this kind of stuff. John was at one time a
building contractor, and now he has a concrete additives business on South Main
Street. Paul has been in various continuing family businesses.
The reason I mentioned this is the Selle brothers are a large pair of people.
Both men are now old and considerably shriveled in size; John has probably
gotten down to about 6'3", 250 pounds, and Paul has probably gotten down to
about 6'1" and 240 pounds. When somebody had to put Klein in an armchair
(because he could not walk or stand) and carry him from the car to the podium
where he was to speak at the Holiday Inn, he looked over the crowd assembling
to greet him at the car and said, "I do not want anybody to touch me but two
people. I want to tell those two people exactly how to pick me up and put me in
the chair and exactly how to carry the chair. The only two people I want to touch
me are John Selle and Dick Anderson." I felt very flattered because there were
several people there larger than I am. On a good day, I am still under 200
pounds; I have never been over that except on certain overeating occasions,
which have always been very temporary, and I have not been six feet tall since I
was in my teens. At the time, I was under six feet tall and under 200 pounds,
and there were bigger people who could carry the chair with John. But he
picked me and John Selle to carry the chair because we were the two people he
would trust with his delicate little body.
Now, this is the way Klein was, even right up to his death. He was so interested
and involved in things that if a program he had instituted was being revised and
modernized he wanted to be there to talk about it. He wanted to tell everybody
his side of things, assimilate their side, and integrate it and understand it better
than anybody in the room by the time the discussion was over. If he had to be
carried into the room like a sack of potatoes, he was going to be carried into the
room on his terms. Nobody was going to put him in a wheelchair and wheel him
around. But he was an indomitable person and one of the most rigorous people
I have ever known. I do not think fifty cents ever was unaccounted for in the
forty-two years or however long it was that he was business manager of the
University. The man's memory for detail and attention to minutia without losing
contact with the broad picture was unbelievable. Klein was one of the real
powerful forces of this University for the first forty-two years of its existence,
which is, of course, most of the time it has been in existence.
I think people we have been talking about J. N. Anderson, [Thomas M.]
Simpson, who built the graduate school, [Walter J.] Matherly, who built the
College of Business Administration and the University or General College [were
important in developing the University of Florida]. Little [Winston W. Little, dean,
General College] was simply the lid-sitter Matherly picked to sit on the lid of what
he created. Little let three things get out from under him, and he never could get
them back. But, people like this Leigh, [Albert A.] Murphree, [John J.] Tigert -
were the real builders of this University.
It so happens, as a matter of historic accident, that the 1930s is a significant
decade in the career of every one of these men except A. A. Murphree, who died
in 1928. The University really did not suffer too much during the Depression.
We had no money, and the budget kept getting retrenched. I understand that
when the legislature met in 1929 it did some retrenching. When it met in 1931 it
cut salaries heavily. When it met in April of 1933 it not only cut salaries heavily,
but it suspended the payment of additional salary money until January of 1934.
Then in 1935 it met and cut salaries again, which was pretty drastic. By 1938
you would have expected some people to have starved, and to some extent
some did. I think some people became demoralized and some people tended to
get defensive or belligerent, but, for the most part, most people simply
retrenched, did what planning and organizing had to be done, and rode it like a
M: Let me ask you a few specific things now. When you came in 1936, do you
recall how much tuition you paid?
A: Pretty accurately. The fees were around $34.50 per term; none of that was
tuition there was no tuition. For one semester I paid $100 out-of-state tuition
because I graduated from an out-of-state high school, but, because of my
academic record and since my parents had deliberately bought a house in St.
Petersburg to become state residents, I paid that only once. I got a very nice
letter telling me that I was not going to pay that money anymore. As a graduate
[student], I got one of the ten fellowships that paid $300 apiece, and I think I paid
$18.75 out of that. Again, none of that was tuition. The difference between
graduate and undergraduate fees was services. Graduate students got no
infirmary privileges and no infirmary care, and that proved to be crucial in March
of 1941. I was taken in in an ambulance and wound up being billed day rates at
the infirmary where I never saw a doctor for five days. An orderly attended me,
and the policy was attention of illness by appointment only.
At any rate, these fees that were paid were mostly to support the Alligator, the
Seminole yearbook, athletics, the infirmary, and this sort of thing, and the $34.50
for an undergraduate for a full semester, or the $18.75 for graduate students,
simply covered those things.
Now, I remember a lot about other fee rates, too, if you want that information.
For example, the room rates in the dormitories for a semester ranged from
$24.50 for those sections of Buckman and Thomas Halls which had not been
remodeled by the 1930s, and then on up. [It cost] thirty-two dollars a semester, I
think, for the sections of Buckman and Thomas that had been remodeled, and
twenty-eight dollars for the sections that were later called Sledd Hall, but was
called New Dorm in the 1930s. Of course, New Dorm was new enough not to
have been remodeled. Then, as a big PWA project that is the Public Works
Administration, not the WPA we had a ground-breaking ceremony for Fletcher
and Murphree Halls carefully inaugurated on this campus by Claude Pepper
shortly after he had been appointed senator by Governor [Fred P.] Cone and just
before he won re-election in 1938. When those were built in the late 1930s and
opened in about September 1939, their rates were much higher. They were
about forty-seven or forty-eight dollars per student per semester. Many of the
rooms in those were two- and three-student rooms, and there were, I think, no
single rooms. The remodeled sections of Buckman and Thomas had a lot of
single rooms. The unremodeled sections had three-student suites, and the new
sections that were remodeled had two-student and one-student rooms.
M: Would you pay more for a single student room?
A: Oh, yes. A single room would probably cost about forty dollars a semester. A
two-man room in a remodeled section would probably cost about thirty-six dollars
a semester, and in the unremodeled sections, with two roommates (three men in
a suite), you would pay $24.50 a semester.
In those days the cafeteria had a plan whereby you could pay twenty dollars a
month and show up three times a day in a special eating room; it used to be
referred to by a lot of euphemisms, many of them vulgar, such as the "feed lot"
and the "slurp trough" and stuff like that. But you could shell out to that place
and eat everything you wanted to eat three times a day, thirty-one days a month.
Some people deliberately did not take the twenty dollars a month option in
February because you did not get as much as you did in March.
Now, the cafeteria was really a non-profit operation. When I came here as a
freshman, Hubert Shot was president of the student body and head monitor in
the dormitories. We had no professional people, nobody in the housing office
except the president of the student body, as head monitor. He was head of the
floor staff in the cafeteria; there were no paid professional employees running the
cafeteria at all. Hubert would go over there on his lunch hour he was very
careful to keep his classes in early morning and afternoon and would be
walking around with a dish towel on his arm, cleaning tables as a busboy, or
filling in behind the cashier if the cashier did not show up on time or had to go to
the bathroom or something. He ate his own lunch just before or just after the
crowded minutes in the two-hour lunch period. Students did all the work. We
did all the work on the steam tables, we had a student cashier, and we had
student busboys. There were no paid employees other than students, and the
students were paid the equivalent of eighteen cents an hour in meal tickets,
which could not be spent outside and could not be traded at face value. In other
words, if some student worked in the cafeteria and wanted to get rid of a meal
ticket from which he had $3.60 worth of meals still coming for twenty hours of
work, his twenty hours of work was not $3.60 worth of money: it was $3.60 worth
of meal tickets. Especially at the end of the month, if he wanted to sell it to
somebody, he was going to have to discount that heavily. He might have to sell
it for three bucks or three and a quarter in order to get rid of it. The off-campus
eating places were even worse.
M: Was the Black Cat still there?
A: I do not remember a place called the Black Cat. I think that name was used
sometime later for a place probably now owned by Coleman, in a two-story brick
M: The Black Cat was a little bit closer to where the present-day Goering's [book
store] is near Thirteenth [Street]. The Mizell brothers owned it at that time. The
College Inn, though, was there.
A: The College Inn was there, and it was a very different sort of thing than it is now.
Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Hammond operated it, and later on Gene Arno bought in with
them. He later took over and managed and ran it. They became silent
partners, and then finally he bought them out completely. During the 1930s they
operated the place down on Ninth Street called the Varsity Grill, which was next
to that building where that bookstore is at Thirteenth Street and University
Avenue now. That building was not there then. That building was built later,
and the first person in there was a grocery man by the name of Chester Harold,
who moved in there in the late 1930s with a grocery store called Molly's Modern
Market. That was a relatively small store, but a supermarket-organized type
store, and Chester Harold operated it all by himself. Typically he had nobody
else in the store but himself. He did all the shelving, the sweeping, the cashier
work, and everything all by himself. It never had a lively trade; it mostly had
walk-in trade of students and faculty who lived within a few blocks of Thirteenth
Street (or Ninth Street before inflation) and University Avenue. He did not have
much trade from University Avenue or that area because, you see, the fraternity
houses were all up and down University Avenue in the vicinity of Ninth Street,
and they did no business with Molly's Modern Market. They did a lot of beer
business, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, with Hammond's Varsity
Grill. It was a rather insidious situation, though, because the politically powerful
fraternities had the Varsity Grill sewed up, and non-fraternity students could not
get jobs at the Varsity Grill, so the Varsity Grill mostly catered to a select group of
M: You mentioned Irving Coleman. Was he a student about the same time you
A: Oh, Lord, no.
M: What was doing?
A: He ran the Florida Bookstore.
M: He was already running the bookstore then.
A: Yes. He was the skinny old man who looked older then than he does now.
Remember, I was a red-headed teen-age kid, and Irving Coleman in those days
was the skinny old man who looked older than I will ever get to be. I still know
Irving; I see him frequently, and we are good friends. The Colemans have a
son, Clayton, who is a schoolmate and a very good friend of my older daughter.
I have some peculiar age involvements with people, because here I think of
Irving as an old man because he was in business as one of the most
conspicuously prominent people [in Gainesville]. When When I came here as a
freshman, his bookstore was "the" bookstore. He was the rich old man who ran
the bookstore where you had to buy your books. Yet, my daughter and Clayton
were close friends for years, all the way through school; [they were] not just
acquainted with each other, but very close friends. My daughter one time even
worked for Coleman.
I have this kind of age affiliation with people like Irving and a lot of the people
who were my professors. In fact this is now going into the past some of the
people who were my professors have children the age of or younger than my
older children. Two years ago I had three teenagers who had not started
college yet, and the youngest of them has just started here this year as a
freshman. As of the end of this quarter, which has just ended, he is a third of
the way through. He is an eighteen-year old, first-semester freshman who has
accumulated something like sixty-two of his 186 hours credit.
M: What is your son's name?
A: Bob. Robert S. Anderson.
M: Did he go to Gainesville High School?
A: Yes. He got a very find education at Gainesville High School. Actually, my
daughter, who graduated a year ahead of him, got a fairly mediocre education in
the same high school. [She received ] excellent grades because she is a very
hard-working and conscientious girl. My son who graduated two years earlier
than that could not have gotten an education if he had used pliers and tweezers.
The school has changed that much.
M: A lot depends on the particular teachers you have, also, and not just the school.
A: Yes, yes. I think that my son who graduated three years ago had a dictated
selection of teachers, which was pretty bad. He has now graduated from Santa
Fe [Community College] with an excellent record and doing well, so I am not
unhappy about the total picture. But, here again, it is amazing how much
Gainesville High School has improved in the last five to eight years. I think it has
probably changed in an awful lot of areas, not just the teaching faculty and
reshuffling the teachers from among the various high schools.
M: No, it was a trend in education, too, to get back to changing the philosophy. I
know; I teach at Buchholz, and there has been a tremendous change in
philosophy over the last five years.
A: Well, there is change all the time, because I have probably served on more
doctoral committees in the College of Education than any person in any college
on this campus, including the College of Education. In fact, Bob Stripling came
up to me once at a time when there were six Ed.D.s going through
commencement, and I had been on the supervising committee of five of the six.
Nobody in the College of Education had been on the supervisory committee of
more than two, and Bob made some wisecrack that if the sixth man who was
majoring in curriculum and administration had a minor field or had an
outside-of-the-college member on the supervisory committee, I would have had a
clean sweep. In those days I was serving on an incredibly high percentage of
the doctoral committees in the College of Education. Long ago they did not
have very many people over there who were involved in testing, data processing,
computer analysis, and experimental design, and there was a written agreement
between our department and the College of Education [that] I would start being
used almost entirely on their committees as a minor field representative on just
the psychology and quantitative aspects of dissertations with psychological
overtones. [I would also] be relieved of supervision of psychology Ph.D.s and
master's degrees, essentially.
M: Now they have a whole department.
A: Oh, they have three departments.
M: Is Soar [Robert S. Soar, professor of education] one of those people involved in
A: Yes, Soar is one of my old students.
M: He was one of my professors.
A: He is also one of my close friends. Once upon a time, back in the late 1940s it
must have been, Bob Soar, his wife, Ruth, and a man by the name of Bill Kessin
were all three in my class, History of Psychology, at the same time. Kessin is
now an editor of one of the major publishing houses. Kessin went off to Yale to
get his Ph.D., and Bob Soar went to Minnesota. One of my dear friends who
had been an undergraduate contemporary of mine, a year behind me, and a very
close personal friend, sat in the back of that room and practically tore his hair out
by the roots, twisting a little curly black forelock with his index finger all the while I
was lecturing. After about two weeks, and he came up and said, "I have been
delegated, old buddy, to talk to you as a representative of the graduate students
in your class." And I said, "Oh? What is the problem?" He said, "You have
got to stop those three whiz kids in the infield from fielding everything, because
they sop up everything you say so completely that we cannot even hear you in
the second and third rows." I said, "Bill, you sit in the back row." He is about
6'5". He said, "Well, that is because I can see over everybody." He added, "But
seriously, every graduate student in that course is thinking of committing suicide
or shooting you or doing something because the three of them just know so
much more about everything that you say than anybody else in the class, and
how are graduate students going to pass the course?" "Well," I told him, "we are
going to have four or five tests during the term, so just do not worry about it."
Bob Soar, Ruth Soar, and Bill Kessin never, anyone of them, finished out of the
first five on any occasion or any task. Ruth always finished first, then Bob, a
stranger, and Bill one, two, three, and four. Or they would finish Ruth, Bill, a
stranger, a stranger, and Bob, or something like this. Bob and Bill usually
finished second and third, respectively, and never fell below fifth, but Ruth always
finished first. The graduate students got frantic by the end of that term because
here was a combined level course with graduates and undergraduates in
together, and these three childish-looking little undergraduates they all
happened to be small and skinny-looking were just picking off everything like
this, [and it was] very frightening. But Bob was a very fine student, and he is a
darn good research professor now that he is at the other end of the line.
M: The two of them write together; he writes with his wife, I know.
A: Yes. Oh, yes, Ruth is a very capable person. Well, do you have some other
questions going back to the 1930s?
M: Yes. One person mentioned this particular [tape cuts off] about getting dressed
a special way to go to the Florida-Georgia game. They remember a top hat,
cane, that kind of outfit. Do you recall anything special for the Georgia game?
A: No. This may have been idiosyncratic, but, of course, we usually wore our rat
caps to the Georgia game.
M: They were still wearing rat caps in the 1930s?
A: Oh, God, yes. This is why when Steve O'Connell came back here [he wanted to
reinstate such practices as the wearing of rat caps]. See, Steve graduated from
law school in May of 1940, the same time I got my bachelor's degree, and rat
caps were still being worn then. The idea was you wore your rat cap until the
day of the Georgia game. In 1937 we beat Georgia for the first time in the
history of the Southeastern Conference and about the second or third time in
history, and rat caps did not need to be worn after the Georgia game in 1937.
There were rat caps all over the mud on that field afterward. Well, we tore down
the goal posts.
M: This is in Jacksonville?
A: In Jacksonville. Now, we had been playing Georgia in Jacksonville longer than I
can remember, and every blasted year they would take home more money from
the game than we did. When Woodruff [George Robert Woodruff, head football
coach and director of Intercollegiate Athletics] went up there, two years before he
got bounced, he was intent on getting a home-and-home arrangement if we
could not get a fair shake in Jacksonville. He came back and found himself on
the skids they not only had the Georgia game, but they had the 1958 and 1959
Miami games in Jacksonville. Just unbelievable.
But, anyway, in 1937, I got home with my own rat cap. I also got home with half
a goal post, and it was metal pipe goal post. I kept it in my room in Buckman
Hall and sawed off six-inch sections of it and wrote "Florida 6, Georgia 0" on
them, signed them, and gave them to all of my friends. I do not have any
sections of that goal post left; I do not know what every happened to all of them.
But, yes, the Georgia game always was the big event.
That Georgia game in 1937 was a very, very interesting game to me. I drove up
with some friends in a car my roommate and I had bought for eleven bucks.
This was before driver's licenses, so nobody had to have a driver's license, and
there was no highway patrol. If you bought a car for eleven bucks and got it to
run, you just drove it out on the highway. We took it up to Jacksonville, leaving
here at 5:00 in the morning, and we got back at 5:00 the next morning with half a
goal post on it. I was wearing a red and black lumberjack, one of these heavy
jackets, because the weather was terribly cold that day. One of those cold
fronts had gone through about Thursday, and it was blistering cold the day of the
football game. I was advised by my friends to get a nice big orange and blue felt
University of Florida wall plaque and have it sewn on the back of my red and
black jacket so I would not be mistaken for a Georgia fan walking down a dark
street in Jacksonville on the day of the game. There was a great deal of
attention to wearing red and black if you were for Georgia, or orange and blue if
you were for Florida, and there was a good bit of parading in the streets, formal
and informal. There was a good bit more horseplay and a great bit more
exuberance then than there is now.
M: Did they still have pajama parties in the late 1930s?
A: Oh, yes, and they were bad.
M: Were they pajama parties or shirttail parties? I have heard both expressions.
A: No, they were very bad. See, this was after pledge week was over, and it was a
Friday night that they fraternities turned out all their pledges in pajamas.
Usually, the fraternity members by then got to know what a freshman had as
pajamas, and a freshman was forced into his gaudiest pajamas. There were
practically no freshman living in the dormitories. In contrast to a philosophy
which developed later, freshman were expendable. Freshman were not worth a
damn, and we were going to have more when the next year came around, so
freshman typically could not get into the dormitories. There was not room for
them, and the dormitory rooms were at a premium. The rates were low, the
accommodations were good, and they were right on campus. Freshman had to
find chinks in the cracks where they could, which is another reason why over a
third of the student body lived in fraternity houses. A high percentage of the
freshmen were what I call enslaved into the fraternities, primarily because the
only housing that a mother would tolerate were these nice, plush-looking
fraternities with their fancy living rooms and their bunks beds and their barracks
accommodations up under the attics for freshmen.
M: I am going to assume, then, that you were not in a fraternity.
A: That is pretty obvious. Yes, I have some rather non-fraternity roots which
warrant a political pretense when I used to run for office as a non-fraternity
candidate in student body government. But the fraternities would get their boys
out. Any poor freshman who found his way into the dormitories would be gotten
out by his dormitory mates. Now, I was living in a private home with a family.
My neighbors were Preacher Gordon and his family over here across the street,
and J. E. Johnson, who was professor of Bible and head of the campus YMCA.
My mother did not know what a nice influence she had placed me with, because
having Preacher Gordon and Dr. Johnson as my neighbors across the street was
a really good influence on a teenage kid. I was living with a family named Smith,
and there were two ATO students living in the same house. Those boys came
home that Friday night they had other things to do and made darn good and
sure that I was out there in my green-flowered pajamas. They were both big
boys. One of them was about as tall and heavy as any sophomore I knew, and
the other one was a junior who was about my size and maybe a little heavier, so I
was not going to stand up to him too easily.
Anyway, every fraternity house brought its pledges out, and you got out there
and marched from the dormitories and the College Inn. In those days, we had
these heavy four-inch ROTC belts; they were made of thick, heavy leather with a
great big brass buckle on them. Some boys would hold them by the buckle end
and swing the strap, which would just slap it, making a loud noise and sting a
little bit. But some of the guys, especially when the thing started getting rough,
would grab the leather end of the belt and swing the buckle. That brass buckle
weighed about half a pound or more and had four nice sharp corners and a brass
tongue about two inches long that went through the holes of the belt. That thing
could leave a welt and a bruise if it just grazed you, and it could hurt. When that
buckle hit, it just hurt.
Of course, the fraternity boys all had their rat paddles, and they would be out
there just beating the daylights out of their own freshmen. Now, when all the
freshman were herded down the middle of University Avenue, they would just
beat the living daylights out of other people's freshmen. The fraternity boys
were beating the devil out of their own freshmen and getting them onto University
Avenue, [and then] they then turned on other people's freshmen. And you ran,
because anytime you were a sitting target you just got the hell beat out of you
until you started moving again. You ran all the way from the campus down to
the courthouse square, around the courthouse square, and back out to University
Avenue to the campus and disbanded.
Well, actually, I fell in with a couple of people I knew who were recruited athletes.
I figured I was a fairly big freshman, and if I were in with a whole bunch of
big-looking freshman, some scrawny kid with a recognizable face and a paddle in
one hand and a belt in the other is going to know that if he is too abusive and
gets recognized, there will be some occasions when we will see him again.
Now, a lot of the boys ran barefoot, but I cannot walk barefoot to this day. I
could not walk barefoot on this tile floor for very long without stepping on
something that would hurt me because the dust on this floor is enough to hurt
me, so I wore shoes all the way. I think I wore a pair of homemade moccasins.
That is what I sometimes wear instead of shoes under such circumstances.
Some of these boys were running barefoot on that red brick street. I could not
have done that even if it had not been for the paddles and the belts. I stayed
with this group of really rough-looking characters, and I did not get beat up too
We were not coeducational yet, so there were very few young women watching
the parade, and a couple of upperclassmen would sometimes pull somebody out
and make them go over and kiss the feet of any young woman who was watching
the parade. They paddled him all the while he was bending over to kiss their
feet. If he did not get both their feet kissed, they would keep beating him and
making him bend over and paddling him every time he bent until he managed to
satisfy the young woman that her feet had been properly kissed.
M: Did anybody get hurt to the point of actually being taken to a clinic or something?
A: Oh, yes. Well, where would you take them? The people got taken back to their
rooms and had their cuts mended and their bruises treated. But I was starting to
say, when we got back to the Pike [Pi Kappa Alpha] house on the way back out,
a bunch of Pikes who had been loafing and drinking (I think beer was now legal,
although I do not think that would have mattered too much) came flying off that
porch. They were about eight or ten upperclassmen who had not bothered to go
downtown and beat the hell out of the freshman all the way downtown. They
had probably run the Pike freshmen out into the mob, beaten up a few kids, and
gone back on the porch to have a few more beers.
Well, when the parade started coming back down there, they came zooming out
to take part in the festivities. One big red-headed joker barreled the man who
was standing next to me, the guy I had deliberately chosen to run downtown and
back with because I wanted to be near him when the fighting started. He almost
killed one of those boys. This Pike upperclassman got knocked down in the
street, and he was down on the stones in the street with his ankle up on the curb.
His calf was sitting there about six inches above the brick, and this two-hundred
and some pound oaf comes bouncing up there with both heels ready to take the
shin. It was all I could do to hold him back and push him off balance to keep him
from breaking the boy's leg--he was going to take his foot off! Now, it was
brutal, it was fierce. I was never a freshman again, and I did not pay much
attention to these things after that because I made the run once. Once you have
made the run. . Some people want to go back as sophomores and juniors
and seniors to get even.
M: So it was not a weekly event or anything like that. It was just once?
A: Oh, it was before the first home football game.
M: And it would just be that one run, and then next year there would be another
more run for a new group?
A: That one run, yes, [and another run the] next year. You would not survive more
than one of these.
M: Well, see, I did not get that kind of impressions from others, but people I have
talked to have not been a part of it.
A: Have you talked to anybody who ever ran in it?
M: No, that is what I am saying: they have not been part of it. It has been like
community people who vaguely remember that they happened, and they were
probably out looking.
A: Well, the community people thought it was great fun, because here were all
these college boys up to their hijinks and whooping and hollering and having fun.
Some nice kid you have known for two or three years would come up and say,
"Miss Jones, would you like to have us have some freshmen kiss your feet?"
She would answer, "Oh, no, John, I would not want to humiliate the poor boy like
that." He would say, "Well, have fun. Thank you, ma'am," and he would run on
off and look for a freshman to pound on. Now, some woman who came and
watched these kids having fun would not think much about that,
Another thing, too, was rat courts. In the 1930s rat courts were very bad. The
fraternity rat courts were terrible for the fraternity pledges. The few freshmen
living in the dormitories really caught hell because the fraternity boys had a future
interest in their freshmen. They did not want to kill them because they had to
come back next year as members and join the other side. In the dormitories it
really did not matter if some freshman got abused in the rat court, though,
because they went home and never came back after Christmas, or he finished
the first semester and never bothered to stick around long enough to get grades.
Of course, under the General College program you did not get grades at all until
May. From September to May you did not get any grades that counted toward
anything. Courses were year courses.
M: You did not get grades from first semester?
A: You did not have anything accounted until you took the final examination; one
six-hour examination in May or June counted a year's credit in English and the
M: A six-hour exam per course?
A: Yes. There were two sessions one from 8:30 to 11:30 in the morning, and one
from 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon on the same day. Now, I had tougher
examinations than that in high school, so this did not seem like abuse to me, but
to the kids who had been excused from examinations in high school because
they were seniors, a six-hour examination sounded abusive.
M: It does to me, at this point.
A: It does not to me, because I think if you are going to do a decent job on the
examination, you ought to do it. It is like the difference between a fifteen-minute
tune-up of the carburetor and a two-hour tune-up of an automobile engine. You
cannot tune-up an automobile engine in fifteen minutes, and I do not think you
can examine a student in a course in two hours, especially not a year course.
Take a year's survey in the social sciences, for example. Now, I had a lot of
background in social sciences, especially from the kind of high school I attended.
I made the highest grade on the damn thing because to me it was duck soup. I
mean, a six-hour examination over nine months of work? Hell, I had much
tougher things than that in high school. But for somebody who had been
excused from forty-five minute or one-hour examinations as a high school senior
to wade into this the next year it was like telling somebody who never had been
in a professional boxing match that he was going to get a crack at the next $2
million fight and go into the ring with Muhammad Ali. Some people do not
appreciate the privilege.
This was one of the problems with the rat courts. The rat courts in the
dormitories were very bad. I lived off campus, but if some dormitory people
invited you to their rat court repeatedly and you never came, they might get you
sometime if you are even over in the cafeteria, 6:00 to 7:00 in the evening. They
would have a rat court lined up for that evening, and three or four upperclassmen
might get you physically by force. Now, if they did not have any freshmen in
their section to beat the daylights out of and wanted to have a rat court, you were
a guest at their rat court.
M: I am not familiar with this rat court at all. Did they hold like a mock court and
then beat you up afterwards?
A: Well, they would accuse you of things that you might or might not have done, and
they would joke abut testimony that might or might not be given against you.
Then they would penalize you by baring your bottom and putting paddle prints on
it. Some people used to have things like their initials carved in the paddles, and
they would try to see if they could put their initials on somebody's bottom with
their paddle. Almost anybody could do this, but it was considered a great thing
to do, when you would bare somebody's bottom and haul off with a paddle and
WHAM! In the dormitories it was totally uncontrollable. I remember there were
no residence hall counselors, no professional hall staff, nothing but student
Now, I was a student monitor myself. It was a tough job because you had no
appeal to anybody else. You had to get in there when there was a water fight or
when some of the students were beating up another student in the rat court or
when they had decided to throw somebody in the shower because he was all
dressed up to go out on a date. You as the monitor had to decide whether you
were going to break it up or not, but if you decided to break it up, then the trouble
began. I was a member of the minority political party when I became a monitor;
it was by appointment to the opposition party which was controlling student
government because they had to balance the slate a little bit.
M: Was there just one party over the years, or did it change every year like it does
A: Oh, no, the parties definitely changed. There were only two parties. They
typically changed names did not change identity. That is another long story that
is tremendously complex, and most of it has never been discussed by the people
who did it.
But, anyway, I was put into a dormitory section, Thomas A, facing the College
Inn. It was the loudest, rowdiest, noisiest, and most troublesome section of the
dormitories. I was put in there with a bunch of boys who had a tradition of
throwing the monitor into the shower every time they wanted to, and the previous
monitor had taken to living somewhere else because he did not like that much
exposure to water. The first night I was in that dormitory section I got thrown
into the shower three times. After the third time we all decided that it was not
worth the time and effort, and it did not get done again.
It was almost impossible to have any kind of authority. When Steve O'Connell
was student body president he was also a dormitory monitor, because, by
appointment, the student body president was also the head monitor, but he was
the last one to have this responsibility. The next year we hired a former student
body president who had not been able to find meaningful job or to establish a
career for himself, and we hired him as Director of Residents. Shot put him in
charge of the dormitories.
M: Who was this?
A: Jack Butler, John D. Butler. If you have got a minute, I will relate one last story
about Jack Butler when we are finished here. But the people over in New Dorm
G, where Steve O'Connell lived, swear up and down that this happened one
night: there was a rat court going on, and they were beating the hell out of a
freshman, a boy from Bermuda. He came here because Florida was the nearest
university climatically and geographically, in his parent's appraisal, to Bermuda.
He left that year and never came back, primarily because of the abuse of the rat
courts. I did not go over there to participate in the rat court, but they swear up
and down that Steve, who was a good friend of mine, came down the stairs with
his green shades on and said, "Hello, Dick. All right, boys, break up this rowdy
nonsense. I am trying to study, and some of you ought to be doing it, too."
They swear I was not there, but I was; I usually was there when there was a
disturbance in his section, and their saying I was not was slander.
Getting back to John Butler, he came in here that year I was a dormitory monitor
in Section A, Thomas Hall. I had a boy in my section named George Maxwell,
who was what they called a "good country boy" from west Florida. George was
no trouble to me. He was not one of the ones who threw me in the shower three
times the first night I was there. He never created any disturbance, and he was
no trouble at all.
Have you ever heard of Kay Kyser? Kay Kyser had an enormous band with the
most vaudeville acts, horseplay, and weird comic characters you have ever seen.
It would be exactly in keeping with some of the campy crap that goes on today
as pseudo-music. We had Kay Kyser and his "College of Musical Knowledge"
here. The big band came in here and got a professor's full salary for one stand,
which used to impress me tremendously as a future college professor. Kay
Kyser got out there in the stadium on Friday night before the dance for a public
concert for all the students to come. In those days most of the boys could not
get dates for the dances, so the students who wanted to hear his music could
come before the dance. That way they did not have to pay for tickets for the
dance when they could not even get a date for it.
So Kay Kyser was out there in a white suit on a fall evening at the ground level of
the old-fashioned horseshoe stadium, and he performed for about two or three
thousand people who were seated in the north stands. George Maxwell got one
of those soda acid fire extinguishers out of the brand new Murphree Hall (which
was about a block away), walked up to the stage, and sprayed Kay Kyser head
to toe with that foaming solution from the soda acid fire extinguisher. Kay Kyser
went back to the Thomas Hotel, across the street from where I now live, and
sulked; he would not come back to the dance that night. Since we were paying
him $3,500, the Fraternity Council and everybody connected with the Fall Frolics
dance was indignant. Kay Kyser did play the tea dance Saturday afternoon, the
Saturday night feature dance, and the Sunday swing concert, I think, all for the
same $3,500. Now, at a time when the average faculty salary was about $2,600
a year, $3,500 seemed like enough. Ginny Sims was the star vocalist, and she
was a woman, so that was enough for most of the University of Florida students.
She sang a lot when Kay was not there to make up for his absence. They also
had a comic character named "Ishkabibble" [trumpet player Merwyn Bogue], who
was just a clown who used to sing nonsensical songs. They also had a few
straight specialists who sang.
Anyway, Jack Butler called me over to his office the next day and said, "All right,
Dick. You are monitoring the section where Maxwell lives. Sign this complaint
against him, because we are going to throw him out of the dormitories." I said,
"Now, wait a minute, Jack. It happened in the stadium. I am perfectly willing for
George to be chastised for something he did. I do not like Kay Kyser, and I do
not like his music, so I was not there. I am not going to sign a complaint saying
that George has been any trouble to me, because he has not."
A lot of the students kept guns in those days, and George had a rifle. The next
weekend he took his rifle and went out and shot a hawk. He came back to the
dormitory, cut up a chair and put the pieces in a five-gallon trash can, along with
some papers from his notebook and some old waste paper, plucked the feathers
off the hawk, lit a fire in the trash can, and tried to cook that hawk. George had
been drinking probably after he shot the hawk, because I cannot imaging
anyone dead drunk shooting a hawk in the head. George was a good shot, as
Kay Kyser had learned with the fire extinguisher.
Well, he had shot the hawk in the head and plucked it; he had burned up a chair,
the paper, and the feathers in the trash can; the ceiling of the room was
smudged; and room had a great stink to it. George had eaten some of the
half-cooked hawk and subsequently lost his appetite, and he threw up the rot-gut
moonshine he had been drinking and the half-raw, unpalatable hawk he had
eaten all over the room.
Monday morning Mrs. Peeler came in to clean. She was a very heavy woman
who walked with a cane. She may not have weighed 250 pounds, but it seemed
like it to me. She had to go through doorways sideways.
M: Would that be Ruth Peeler?
A: It was her mother. Do you know Ruth?
M: I know the name as a teacher.
A: Well, this is Ma Peeler, Ruth's mother. Ruth taught at the P. K. Yonge
Laboratory School for many years. There were rather large, amiable black girls
who used to do the heavy cleaning, and they were referred to in those day as
swamp angels. Have you ever heard that term before?
A: Well, swamp angels mostly worked with dust rags and these big, broad push
brooms with the oblong end on a stick, t-shaped, and a lot of loose, short,
four-inch bristles. The swamp angels would come into a room with these push
brooms and dust rags. They typically worked in crews of five or six, and they
would go over everything in the room in about four seconds flat make the bed,
dust the things a little bit, and push the stuff out into the hallway with the push
brooms. They would open the door, push the room clean in about four seconds
flat, slam and lock the door, and be gone like that.
Well, Ma Peeler opened the door and started to come into George's room, and
there he lay, maybe just in his undershorts, sprawled on the bed, sick, drunk, and
the room a filthy mess. Did I tell you she carried a cane? She hobbled over to
the bed and gave George about two whacks across the butt with that cane.
Now, George probably did not go the rat parade when he was a freshman,
because he was not the kind of boy to go to social events of any kind, and
nobody had hit him in that dormitory section that I knew about. I think I would
have known about it if somebody had hit George, because anybody who hit
George would have been shot. That is what happened to Ma Peeler. She
neglected to observe that on the bed with George was also his rifle. He put four
bullets in that door casing before she could get through the door. So I went over
and signed Jack Butler's complaint against George Maxwell, and we threw him
out of the dormitory. He had finally done something to deserve getting thrown
out of the dormitory.
M: Do you have any idea where he is today?
A: I have not seen him since that day. We threw him out of the dormitory section,
and I have not seen him since. But things were different.
M: Let me ask you about one last story that Mr. LaTorre brought to mind. He said
that one day at the radio station everybody wanted to take the day off, and they
stuck some guy with the job. He had some story that he got tired of it or
something, so he closed the station and just cut out. Do you recall that story or
what it was about?
A: I do not recall the incident, but it could very well have happened, and the FCC
would have torn its hair out. WRUF was the first radio station ever owned by a
college of a university in the United States, or probably in the world. We used to
be on the air from sunup Gainesville to sundown Denver with no network
affiliation. There were no paid people on the air, just student talent.
Due to my versatility, I used to to parts in radio guild shows with people who later
became famous TV personalities and movie stars and all kinds of stuff. I had
gone to a cosmopolitan high school, and I had heard every kind of dialect that
exists, so I mostly did dialects and crowd noises on the radio. If they wanted a
drunken Irishman in a skit on WRUF, I would come down the parts were
usually atrocious and writing obnoxious and say, "Sure, now, what the hell is
going on in the pub? It's early morning and the place is as full as it would be on
a Friday night," and everybody would think this was a marvelously authentic Irish
brogue. I also had Chinese classmates and friends in high school that nobody
around here had had, so if they wanted to have a Chinaman come in with the
laundry and say, "You want to have the four shirts with the collars all starched
and the shirttails folded down double? Sure, we can do that. Easy to do."
This went as a good Chinese dialect. They also learned I could differentiate
between a Swedish dialect and Norwegian with reasonable authenticity, so got to
do a lot of crowd noises, bit parts, and dialects.
M: This is while you were a student, you would go and do this?
A: Yes. I was a freshman. By the time I was a senior I was practically out of it.
As a graduate student, Garland Powell [director, WRUF radio station] and Elmer
Hinckley [head professor of psychology] got together and decided that I could not
fool around the radio station anymore because I was going to go on and become
a psychologist. You see, we had nothing but student talent down there.
The first person from WRUF to become famous was the great [Walter] "Red"
Barber. Red got famous because when the [Brooklyn] Dodgers began trying to
put professional baseball on the radio, there was nobody who had experience.
They tried putting Clem McCarty on because he had been broadcasting horse
When I was a kid living in New York, I used to hear Clem broadcasting horse
races from Belmont a few miles away from my house. I used to ride over to
Belmont on my bicycle and touch the horses. In those days you could just
wander in and out of the stables, and these horses that had won the Kentucky
Derby would just stand there, and you could go in and pat them on the butt and
look at them. They would not let you ride them. I would not have wanted to
ride them in those days, anyway, because I had a bicycle.
I remember hearing Clem McCarty broadcasting from Belmont, for example,
saying, "They are coming up to the starting gate. So-and-so is on
such-and-such a horse. He is acting a little fidgety and a little nervous, but they
have all the horses in the barrier. They're off! At the quarter pose it is
so-and-so in first place, so-and-so in second, and somebody is coming up on the
outside three lengths behind. They're in the turn, back on the far end of the
turn." Clem McCarty, with that slightly raspy, very fast delivery of his, would be
telling you, "In the back stretch so-and-so is in front by half a length." Then you
would hear the crowd noise, indicating that somebody had won the race, and he
would say, "The order of finish one, two, three is Equipoise, Bright Lady, and
Going Home." Then he would tell you about who was there and so on.
Now, it only takes two minutes to run a mile, and broadcasting a two-minute,
one-mile horse race is one thing. But broadcasting a baseball game that may
take an hour and a half [is quite another]. Besides, you have got to know
baseball. You have got to be aware of the fact that the pitcher is not just
standing there on the mound scratching his left ear, and the guy on first base is
not just nonchalantly wandering ten feet from the bag looking for four-leaf
clovers. The guy on first is taking a long lead towards second, and the pitcher is
making up his mind whether to try for a quick put-out at first or to try for a force
that may let the guy steal second.
Red had been down here as a red-headed kid from Sanford, broadcasting
football and baseball games on WRUF to the students who wanted to stay in the
dormitories and study, but still keep track of how their friends were doing against
Auburn, Georgia, and Georgia Tech. Any rivals we may have had were not
nearly as important as Auburn, Georgia, and Georgia Tech; they were our three
rivals. Red was a thoroughly experienced baseball announcer at age twenty.
WOR, as part of the 400 stations of the Mutual Broadcasting Network, was
subsidized by national advertisers to broadcast the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball
games. The Brooklyn Dodgers had the smallest home stadium of any major
league baseball team, and they needed some extra income. Red went up to
New York as the baseball announcer for WOR and the Mutual Broadcasting
Network as a try-out, and, even though he had a mush-mouth, grits-and-hush
puppies Southern accent that was hard to understand, he made it. A lot of the
baseball players and some of the baseball fans could not understand him, but
people learned to accept his accent. He did learn to de-emphasize it a little bit
over the years, although he still has a more-pronounced Southern accent than
almost anybody you will find in Seminole County today. Florida is not as
Southern and accents are not as regionally distinctive today as they were in the
M: Was he actually a student here?
A: For three years, and then he left here without completing his senior year,
because he was making more money at WOR as chief baseball announcer on
the Mutual Broadcasting Network than any professor here at the University of
Florida ever stood a chance of making.
M: About what year was that?
A: It was about 1932 or 1934. He never came back to finish his degree.
M: He did come back once, though, to do the Gator Growl.
A: Oh, he came back and got honorary degrees and did all kinds of things. He did
not turn his back on the University, he just never came back as a kid student.
Interestingly enough, he came back when [J.] Hillis Miller tried to change the
history of the world. When we had a centennial in 1953, just twenty-three years
after our twenty-fifth anniversary celebration in 1930, which was the biggest
celebration we have ever had here. That is something you ought to look
into--the 1930 twenty-fifth anniversary celebration. Have you done much
research on that?
A: That is when this [psychology] department was founded, and Elmer Hinckley
became chairman. It is also when the speech department was founded, and H.
[Henry] Philip Constans became chairman.
M: That I know about.
A: That is when the graduate school was founded, and James Nesbitt Anderson
became dean of the graduate school after having been dean of the College of
Arts and Sciences. Nineteen thirty was the big year in the history of the
University of Florida; it was the year of its twenty-fifth anniversary that the
University of Florida really came of age.
At any rate, when Hillis Miller had the centennial in 1953, we brought in the three
most prominent alumni of the University of Florida and none of them had
graduated! One was the movie star and operatic tenor, James Melton, who had
sung in our glee club and had been an undistinguished student and just filtered
away. The second was the famous red Barber, whom we have just discussed,
and the third was a man by the name of Doug Lee. Doug Lee was totally
inconspicuous, but he was the business manager of the Seminole and this F
Book. Have you ever seen one of these? I got three of them out to show you
this afternoon. As a person with historian interests and background, you can be
trusted to take them and get them back to me.
M: Yes, definitely.
A: You know, then, that they are precious stuff, but take them and look them over.
They have complete fee schedules, the complete student body constitution,
pictures of all the student body officers.
M: They had these F Books in the 1930s, too?
A: Oh, yes, yes. Those are the recent ones, but those F Books contained
everything a freshman ought to know and damn sure had better know by Friday
morning. When you came here for orientation on Monday morning, they gave
you one of those books, and what you did not know by Friday could be and was
held against you. If you did not know the names of the deans of all the colleges,
the names of all the student body officers, their home towns, their departmental
majors, this was the subject of a rat court invitation. If you did know, for
example, that the Debate Club got twenty-five cents per student per semester,
and that the Florida Players got twenty cents per student per semester, this
would get you a couple of good licks at a rat court. F Books contained vital
information that every good freshman ought to know, and every bad freshman
was going to suffer for not knowing it. I have the F Books from my own
undergraduate days somewhere, but those were three I happened to find
available to me when I was looking a week or two ago when you called me.
M: This is interesting, because some of the people I have interviewed have their
pictures in here, such as [Donald Ray] "Billy" Matthews.
A: Yes. Dear old Billy was director of the Florida Union when I was a freshman.
We became very close friends that year. We now teach the same Sunday
school class on different Sundays. He, Charles Durrence, George Davis, Earl
Sawyer, and I have a rotating Sunday school class team teaching arrangement.
M: Charles Durrence, from the College of Education?
M: I guess he is retired now.
A: Yes. In fact, all of them are.
M: Well, Billy Matthews is still teaching.
A: He is retired from congress and he is retired from the University of Florida, and
[inaudible] from Santa Fe [Community College], and George Davis has had to
step down as director of sponsored research. This is the Orange Peel. It was
the humor and pornography magazine, and he was the editor of it.
M: It was here by the 1930s?
A: It was here off and on. You would get a bunch of wise guys who wanted to print
something lewd, vulgar, and shocking. It would be in print for two or three years,
and then they would graduate or get kicked out of school or something, so it
would not get printed for a year or two. As you will see in the Division of Student
Body Funds, there was a fee for the Orange Peel- twenty cents a semester per
student. That means that the money accumulated in the years when there was
not an Orange Peel.
There was another matter I myself was not clear on that the F Book points out in
detail. Florida Review was the name of the magazine until 1942, and then the
name was changed to the Orange Peel. That means it probably was not
published during the War, and the money accumulated, so they were able to do
something pretty gaudy with the first post-war edition of the Orange Peel.
M: I believe there was a difference. I do not recall that the Florida Review was that
type of publication.
A: No, it was more of a literary publication. But, here again, these things changed
tremendously, because there was a bunch of transient students who were doing
the writing and editing, and the policies changed as fast as the personnel
changed, which was every September.
M: That is still true today.
A: Oh, it is more true today, because in those days students tended to come and
stay four years and graduate. Now most of our students are junior college
transfers, and the average length of time a student spends on campus has
decreased from those days.
You will find a lot of people in there who may be recognizable. Of course, the
yearbooks and F Books I had as an undergraduate include people who are either
dead and have student housing named after them, or people who have become
famous, like [U.S. Senator] George Smathers and Steve O'Connell, who were
presidents of the student body. For example, when I was a freshman Hubert
Schucht was president of the student body, and he is the one they named
Schucht Village after. Also, the year after I left, Bill [William W.] Corry was a
sophomore and lived upstairs over me I was a graduate student at the time -
and Corry Village is named after him. Hubert Schucht and Bill Corry were two of
the finest people I have ever known in my life. Each of them was a top-notch
football player, each of them was an outstanding scholar, and each of them was
a fine gentleman, as fine a person as you would want to know. Of course, that
is the person who was in a position to be killed as a commanding officer leading
combat troops, just the way the guy who is going to be tackled and fouled with a
late hit in a football game is the guy who just scored the touchdown by a
miraculous run; he is the guy they are out to get.
Losing people like Hubert Schucht and Bill Corry have been tremendous losses
to this student body and to the University of Florida because you cannot find a
better alumnus than a Bill Corry or a Hubert Schucht, and you cannot afford to
lose two of them. Hubert Schucht, George Smathers, Steve O'Connell, Ed Ruth,
John McCarty, Charlie Sherman, and Bill Corry in sequence this was a group of
seven University of Florida student body presidents I knew from my freshman
year (my brother was president the next year, but I will leave him out), and I do
not think you could spend fifteen minutes of computer time making a search of
the records and produce a group of seven people with more ability, versatility,
talent, skills, accomplishments, and promise than that one group of seven people
who were elected student presidents. Look at the jerks who get elected to the
student body presidency today.
M: It is just a shame to look back and see what this University has done to
somebody like Stephen C. O'Connell. Being president of the University aged
him terribly. He had the roughest time, probably, of any of the presidents.
A: Oh, yes.
M: Let me just get this on the tape, please. Is it okay for me to use this research in
what I am doing?
A: Well, I would not call it research, per se. Some of it is clues on where to look for
other things. I think I may have said a couple of things that would be mildly
embarrassing to somebody or even to me if it were repeated in the wrong place,
but I think if you use it judiciously I do not mind.
M: Thank you, Dr. Anderson. I appreciate your time and cooperation.
[End of the interview]