Interviewee: Louise Kincaid
Interviewer: Connie Llewellyn
Date: February 22, 1988
L: This is Connie Llewellyn interviewing Louise Kincaid at her home in Gainesville,
Florida. Today is February 22, 1988. This interview is for the Florida Museum
of Natural History's Oral History Project on the Junior Welfare League in
Gainesville. Good afternoon, Miss Kincaid.
K: Good afternoon.
L: I would like to start today by getting some biographical information from you.
Where were you born?
K: I was born in Gainesville, but I should have been born in Newberry. My father
had a general store there. My mother had two [earlier] children, and I was the
third. Her family was in Gainesville, and she came here to give birth to me.
L: Were you born in a home here?
K: Yes. There was a female doctor here, and she delivered me. When I was
working at Florida State Board of Health, I tried to get my birth certificate. They
looked, and I did have a birth certificate. She had written up a birth certificate,
but you were not required to then.
L: I did not realize that.
K: I think it was in 1912 when they required everybody to have a certificate, and I
was born in 1906. It shows you how a woman sometimes would do things that
were not usually done by everybody.
L: That is really interesting. Do your brothers and sisters have birth certificates?
K: No, not any of them. They were born in Newberry with doctors [in attendance],
but they did not file birth certificates then; it was not required.
L: How long was your family in Newberry? Was your father born in Newberry?
K: No, my father was born in Gainesville, and his father had come from South
Carolina. They had a farm. I do not know whether they called it a farm or a
plantation, but where Kincaid Road goes out toward Paynes Prairie was
grandfather's place. It was named for my family. They were all born here. I
had a lot of relatives in Gainesville. My mother's family left New York state and
came down, so I have a lot of relatives here.
L: What was your mother's maiden name?
K: La Fontisee.
L: What was your mother's full name?
K: Eugenie--that is French. Eugenie Olive is her name.
L: And your father's full name?
K: Thomas Moore Kincaid.
L: So your family has been in the Gainesville area for a long time.
K: For many years. So many of them are out in Evergreen Cemetery now. Aunt
Carrie was only three years old when she came down from New York. She was
the youngest one.
L: Aunt Carrie was your mother's sister?
L: What was her full name?
K: Caroline Julia La Fontisee McCollum Palmer.
L: Did you live in Newberry then?
K: Yes, we children were there until high school. Then my mother, who had been a
teacher, made us go somewhere else. For instance, I had a brother who went
down to St. Leo [College in St. Leo, Florida], and my sister [Mary] went to the
convent in St. Augustine. Then we came into Gainesville and lived with aunts.
L: Who was we?
K: Well, there were Olive and Kitty, younger than I. There was Thomas, Mary, me,
Olive, and Kitty--five of us.
L: So three of you came to high school in Gainesville?
L: The three youngest.
L: Where did you go to grade school?
K: In Newberry.
L: What is the earliest thing you can remember?
K: I would have to think about that. I do not know if I know "the" earliest. We used
to come in to Catholic mass in Gainesville, and we used to celebrate mass in
Newberry once in a while. I remember when Kitty was born; I was six years old.
We were in Gainesville, and my mother was in Newberry; I can remember that.
There are several things [that stay in your mind, like a birth or something, that I
remember], but I am not sure just what year it was. I can remember earlier than
that, because I can remember when my Grandfather La Fontisee came out and
built us some swings and things like that, but I do not know the year. It was
before I was six years old.
L: When you came to Gainesville, where did you go to school?
K: GHS [Gainesville High School]. That was the only high school in Gainesville.
L: For white people.
K: Yes. Lincoln was for the blacks.
L: What grade started at GHS?
K: Ninth grade.
L: So it was just the last four years, the way it is now.
L: How did you like going to school at GHS?
K: I liked it fine.
L: Did you enjoy living in Gainesville?
K: Yes, I had so many friends that I had met by then. I had a friend, Rosaland
Williamson, whom I had known. We used to come into Gainesville and visit our
aunts, and we would meet people and the children of their friends. Rosaland
Williamson was one of them. When we started off to school, I got into a home
room, and Rosaland did not think it was right. She came and told me I must not
be in that room, that I would have to get in another room. She managed it so I
got with the other group.
L: She took care of you!
K: Yes. She thought I was not with the group I would be most happy with.
L: So you were in school in Gainesville for four years?
L: And you graduated from GHS?
L: Then what did you do?
K: Then I went to Florida State College for Women, FSCW [now Florida State
University in Tallahassee], but I went there only one year. There were five of my
friends and I who went at the same time, and none of us went the second year.
Two of them got married and did not go back. We all lived in Jenny Murphree
Hall, which was new then, and we all pledged Chi Omega, so we have remained
friends for all these long years. They do not all live in Gainesville, but we keep
in touch. I have lost some of them--some of them have died.
L: What did you do after that year?
K: The next year we went back [to Tallahassee]. Mary wanted to [be in business
college]. She was older than I.
L: Is this your sister?
K: Yes. She wanted to take a business course, and she thought maybe she could
get it at the college [FSCW]. There was a business college there in
Tallahassee, and we stayed there for about three months with a friend of the
family. I think Mary continued on, but I came back to Gainesville. I was the
worst secretary that ever was.
L: I do not believe that.
K: I was. I did not like it, so I did not [do well]. I worked for my uncle--nobody else
would have had me. I really was not good at it at all. But Mary could play the
piano, so she was great on the typewriter. She was a great secretary.
L: Did you also take the business course when she did?
K: Yes, but I did not stay with it as long as she did. In fact, my uncle said he
thought that I did not need to go back there, so he got what he deserved.
L: What was your uncle's name that you worked for?
K: His name was Thomas Fielding.
L: What kind of business was he in?
K: He was a lawyer.
L: So you came back to Gainesville, and you were a secretary.
K: Yes, for quite a while, maybe a couple years. I am not sure it was that long.
L: What did you do then?
K: My sister Olive was at Tallahassee, and she knew a girl there who had gone to
Massachusetts General [Hospital in Boston] to take a nursing course. She was
in love with a boy who was going to Harvard to get his degree to be a doctor.
Olive thought that she and I might like to do that, and I said I would go along with
her. I did not want to be a secretary.
Well, nobody thought we ought to do it. They said if we were going to do that,
we would have to go to Johns Hopkins [University in Baltimore] or [the] Mayo
[Clinic]. We did not know any more about it than that. So we went to Mayo in
Rochester, Minnesota and stayed out there for three years. We only came
home once. We had friends that we had met out there, and we would go home
with them. But it was tough.
L: This is you and your sister?
L: And you were in nursing training?
K: Yes. And she was excellent; she really enjoyed the bedside nursing. I did not
like that. We were in Gainesville about a year when Olive was married, and then
I got this job as a city nurse. Well, I found out I did not know what I was
supposed to do, so I went [back to school]. There were two places in the United
States that gave a degree in nursing: Vanderbilt University and somewhere in the
Northeast--I cannot remember which school it was. I decided on Vanderbilt. I
went up there to find out if they would accept me and how long it would take me
to get a degree, if I put together all the credits I had taken from the other places.
They said that if I would go to summer school that summer it would be just one
year. The University of Florida had two sessions of summer school that year, so
I went to both of those. Then I went up Vanderbilt and got a B.S. in nursing. I
also received public health training; all summer we did field work in public health.
I spent almost a whole year in Nashville. I loved Nashville.
L: It is a lovely city.
K: Yes, it is a lovely town.
L: So you got your B.S. in nursing from Vanderbilt.
K: Yes. Then later on I went to [Johns] Hopkins [University] and got a Master's in
Public Health. I was up there for a year.
L: Was this right after you finished at Vanderbilt?
K: No, that was right after World War II. I went out to Japan as a public health
nurse to teach in a Japanese hospital. There were civilian employees; they
were not in the army. I was with that for almost two years.
L: How did you like that?
K: I liked it. We worked in the Japanese hospital, so it was different. You did not
get to see a lot of Americans like you did in the office. But it was nice to be with
the Japanese and learn more about them.
L: Was this after the war?
K: It was during the occupation. I think it was December of 1947 when left for
Japan, and I came home in 1949.
L: That sounds like an exciting experience. I wish we had more time to talk about
that, too. I bet you had a chance to see a lot of the scenery.
K: Oh! We could get on the train [and ride all over the country]. There was no
cost on the train. Then there was a fifty-cent laundry fee that you had to pay the
hotel. The army took over so many of these hotels and used them for their
personnel, and we could go see and do things. It was great.
L: So you were over there training personnel in the Japanese hospital?
K: No. See, there was a Japanese hospital. I think it was an Episcopalian
missionary hospital, a lovely hospital. The army took that hospital over, and this
was a Japanese Red Cross hospital. It was not anything like what our hospitals
were. We thought it was just terrible. We did not think they were doing
anything right. We had a faculty there of nurses; it was a school of nursing, and
they wanted public health experience, too, so I went over and did that. There
were about four of us who we were supposed to work with the Japanese.
L: So you were on the faculty?
K: Well, we were really with the occupation army. They put Americans in different
positions like that with the Japanese. We were not supposed to give any
restrictions, but we were to help them if we could in any way in doing kind things.
We could not trade or swap things with them or anything like that. It was
interesting. I enjoyed it.
The Japanese women are so lovely. The nurses and the faculty there were just
lovely people. The Japanese women are just delightful. I do not know what
they are like today, but they were then. They were just so kind to us. They
seemed to enjoy us. Of course, the doctors were there, and we would have
talks with the doctors, too.
L: You did not feel that they felt a lot of resentment?
K: They did not like to talk about it. There was a woman I was so fond of, Chizu
San. I was such a friend of hers, and I asked Chizu if she and I could talk about
that some time. They usually would not talk about it, but she did. I think they
talked about the atomic bomb and all that, but then we [Americans] would say
that they [the Japanese] bombed Hawaii first. But you try not to get into that.
L: But you did not see any overt animosity.
K: No, I never did, although I do not know why. Even if you went out into the
countryside, they seemed glad to see us helping. I had an automobile while I
was over there--I bought one from a missionary--and we would drive out. A lot
of us had automobiles. They were just as nice as they could be. In fact, I never
saw any of them who were impolite.
L: Where were you during the 1930s?
K: I went to Vanderbilt in the 1930s; I believe it was 1934 or 1935. [The reason I
remember that is because] in the spring of 1935, Aunt Carrie called Kitty and me
over, and she said that she had been down in Lakeland and had heard about
this, [the Junior Welfare League], and she asked us if we would talk to some of
our friends to see if they would be interested in going over to her place to have
supper [and consider forming a chapter]. She had the best cook that ever was,
so everybody came.
While this was going on, I went up to Vanderbilt to see if I could finish in a year.
I went to Nashville and spoke to the dean there and had that all lined up, and I
was going to Vanderbilt when this happened. When Aunt Carrie came up with
this, I had already talked to Vanderbilt about my coming next year. They had
meetings for the League, and they organized it, but it was still in the early stages
while I was here. I left [for Vanderbilt] in August.
L: So this was in the spring and the summer, then?
K: Yes. They had several meetings without me, but it was not anything that I was
participating in too much, because I was not going to be here. Then there were
several of us [who left Gainesville].
Later on Kitty went up to Montgomery. There was some federal agency here,
and they transferred her to Montgomery. Elise Jones went up there, too, so
several of us had left the group that really started the [Junior Welfare] League.
As far as charter members, I think the charter members were not many more
than we were working with that summer, because there was not a lot of us here.
Then they began to talk about who would be included in the membership and all
that kind of thing.
L: So you were the city nurse at that time for Gainesville?
K: Yes, for about a year. I knew I did not know what I was doing, so I had to go
and learn something about it. But I liked public health so much better than I did
hospital bedside nursing. I did not like that, but I enjoyed public health. That
was my life then. I have stayed with it for all these years.
L: I noticed in looking back through the Junior Welfare League records that they
worked with the Public Health Department very closely.
K: It is interesting. None of those things that the League started existed before in
the community. For instance, there was not a school lunch program. The
League initiated that with the schools. They went out and visited the families to
see who was eligible for lunch at the school. That was one of their big projects.
Then, later on, according to the scrapbook, Hazel Dell, Dr. Dell's wife, started the
clinics. I had always thought that it was Ella Mae Canova. Both of them were
nurses, and they started the pre-natal and pediatric clinics, which were great.
I guess the League did the lunch project until the federal government took over,
and then the Alachua County Health Department took over the clinics. But the
League still worked in the clinics. They had nurses in there. I was back home
for a year one time with nothing to do, so I did affiliate with the League, and I
used to go out and work in the clinics. Of course, that was interesting work, but I
did that just for that one year. When I came back, I was too old to be an active,
so I was a sustainer. I do not really know much to tell you about the League.
L: What you are saying is very interesting. The year that you were here and
worked in the clinic, did you work in both of them? Which one did you work at?
There was a well-baby clinic and a pre-natal clinic. Were they two separate
K: No, not really. They were at different times. I could not tell you about that. I
do not remember the well-baby clinic as much as the pre-natal. I worked with
the pre-natal clinic.
L: What did you do?
K: The clinics were in the basement of the hospital.
L: What was the name of the hospital?
K: Alachua General. It was Alachua County Hospital then.
L: Was it located where it is today?
K: Yes, but it was just a small thing. The doctors gave their time, and the girls did
the work there. I think there was a picture of a nurse in here. I do not think
they ever paid any nurse to work in the clinics. In fact, quite a few nurses were
members of the League.
L: There were members of the League who did volunteer work?
L: I did see in the minutes of one meeting that there was some hired help at the
K: Was it Laura [Tucker]?
L: I do not recall the name.
K: But they did have some hired help?
L: Yes, it said it was a colored woman.
K: Oh, really? I do not know. I do not believe when I was there they had any.
L: Who was Laura [Tucker]?
K: There is a picture of Dr. Dell, and this is the well-baby clinic. How she was
affiliated with it, I do not know, because she was not a League member. I do not
know whether she was paid for anything or not. I do not know what Laura was
doing then. She is still here, but I do not know just what she was doing.
Anyway, there was always some League member there to do the clerical things
in the clinics. Of course, there was always someone there to help the doctor,
doing things like bringing the patients in and getting them ready. It was a
wonderful thing because, prior to that, the only thing they had were these
midwives. They did not have any kind of preparation or supervision. Of course,
the maternal death statistics were very high. So they could get in here for
medical examinations. Then, after a while, the Alachua County Health
Department took it over. Then the obstetric department of the University took it
over. They had the doctors from the University, so the League was no longer
associated with the clinics. But they had started it.
L: I did read that one of the duties of this colored woman that they hired was to go
and do the visitations in the homes of the black patients. I do not know whether
she had any other function during the clinic days or not.
K: I never knew they had anybody colored.
L: That could have been later.
K: Oh, it must have been. When I left, there was not a colored woman there.
[Rosa London was colored, but she probably worked later.]
L: The year that you were in town, you served as a nurse for the clinic?
K: Yes. I could be in with the patient with the doctor. I am sure I did.
L: At that time, did the Welfare League have any regulations about how much time
you needed to put in?
L: What do you remember about that?
K: I do not remember how many hours you had to put in. There were several girls
that had to give up the League because they had small children and did not have
help, and they could not give much time. But there was quite a bit of hours
required of the active members. Those projects really took a lot of time.
L: I can see that they did. They were still doing the lunchroom project even after
they took on the clinic.
K: Yes, and then they had the thrift shop. They did a lot of things to try to get
money to help with that lunchroom. So there were a lot of things to do. I do not
know what their membership quota was at that time. Do you?
L: It was less that fifty. I know it started out around forty, and then there was some
discussion about raising it. From what I read, there was some resistance at first,
and then I think they did raise it to forty-five. It was a relatively small number.
K: It certainly was. It took a lot of time, especially that lunch program. That was
five days a week that they had to be in that lunchroom. They did have paid help
L: They hired people?
L: Were you involved in the lunchroom project at all?
L: What about the thrift shop?
K: No. See, all my hours I was in the clinic.
L: You mentioned some of the fund-raising projects to fund the lunchroom project
and the clinic. What sorts of things did you do?
K: There are a number of things in this scrapbook. They had dances and the
Follies. A man would come and would have a show.
L: Were you here when they had a Folly?
K: No, it was after I came back.
L: Did you go to the performance?
L: What was it like?
K: It was interesting. They did pretty well.
L: Did they? They used talent from the town?
K: Yes, and a lot of the girls from the League. They gave a lot of time to that. I do
not know how it would happen, but they must have contracted some kind of
agency that could get somebody to come and put on a show like that. He would
come down, and they would have about two weeks to do it, so they had to work
L: I guess so. I read that they sponsored benefit motion pictures and sold tickets to
it to raise money. And they had silver teas. What were the silver teas?
K: That was the silver money you slipped in there, as I understand it. They did not
have a prize. Things were so different then moneywise. If you got a silver
dollar, that was not bad, but now nobody would want to do anything like that for a
L: That was in the Depression still, right?
K: Yes, that was in the height of the Depression.
L: What was Gainesville like during the Depression?
K: Like every other town: everybody was having a hard time. Banks failed. That
began when we were up in Rochester. Olive and I had a bank account down
here in Gainesville. We went into town one day and bought some shoes, [and
the check was returned because the bank had failed. It was posted on two or
three bulletin boards around the nursing school that the bank had failed and that
our check had been returned.] That was something. We were just out of
L: So this bank in Gainesville failed?
K: Yes. I think that was the Phifer Bank that we had the money in, and it had
L: So you never recovered any of that money?
K: I do not remember if we did. Maybe some, but not very much.
L: What did you do?
K: Of course, it was not very expensive up there. In nursing then you earned
enough to pay your expenses. The hospital really had a small staff; there were
just a few private-nursing floors. The rest of them were all student nurses, and
that is the way they paid for their schooling. Of course, there were sisters,
because this was a Catholic hospital. They were stern. They had started with a
little nothing, and you ought to see what that hospital is like now. They made a
lot of money.
L: So when you came back to Gainesville, the Depression was still on.
K: Yes. When we were private duty, a typical salary was six dollars a day--it got
that low. It was just terrible. Just imagine. I think eighty dollars a month was a
pretty good salary for secretaries. Of course, things were cheaper, but it was
very hard. See how fortunate you were to be born later? You did not know
what was going on.
L: It was a tough time.
K: It certainly was. And they did not have the programs then that they have now to
L: That is part of the reason that the Welfare League started trying to do things.
L: Were there bread lines in Gainesville?
K: I do not think so; I do not remember any. I do not know why. There probably
should have been, but there was not. Everybody had so little that they could not
very well do for other people.
L: Was there any aid for those poor people?
K: Well, there was social service welfare, but I do not know when that started.
L: Government aid, you mean?
L: Before that, was there any aid through churches?
K: I do not know. I suppose, but I do not remember. Maybe a family that was in
dire trouble would be helped by the church. But there was nothing organized,
nothing you could depend on.
L: What were some of the businesses on the square back then? I think Cox
Furniture was there.
K: Where Cox Furniture is was really McCollum's Drugstore. That belonged to my
uncle, who was Aunt Carrie's husband. He had a drugstore on the southern part
of the square. His uncle, Bodiford, was on the north side. They really were
L: What was the name of that drugstore?
K: Bodiford. Up above that was the Baird Theatre; that was where they had all the
plays that would come through. The fire department was down there, and the
Lyric Theatre down farther. Around the square was the Phifer Bank and Baird
Hardware. I cannot remember all those people.
L: You have told me a lot of them already.
K: Well, you know a lot of them.
L: Now, the Phifer Bank was a state bank?
L: Is that the only bank that closed in Gainesville?
K: I do not know. [There was another bank in town--the" bank --that] I know my
father had some stock in, but I do not know that it closed. I do not remember the
name. He had to put up money for the stock. I do not know whether that bank
failed or not. Later on it was called First Federal, and now it is First Union. It
was that bank.
L: So it survived.
K: Yes, it has been sold from one place to another.
L: You mentioned that your Aunt Carrie brought the idea for the Junior Welfare
League back to Gainesville. Tell me a little bit more about that.
K: Aunt Carrie was interested in woman's clubs. They had the best little club in
Lakeland. It was called the Little Woman's Club, and it was for children of
adolescent age. Aunt Carrie, I guess, saw a chance for these young women,
who were not doing anything, [to become active in their community], so she
decided that she would see if they would be interested in this organization. This
is what I recall. Then, as I said, she asked Kitty and me to see if some of our
friends would be interested. We were at that age to have a welfare group, so we
just asked them to come.
L: Do you remember how many people there were at the very beginning?
K: No, I do not know. We started with a group, and then they enlarged the group.
Other people could think of others who might be interested, so I do not think
there were many of us to begin with. It was not really organized at that time, but
you could think about asking so-and-so to see if she would be interested. That
summer it grew. Then they had the charter drafted and bylaws and all that sort
of thing, so they really got the organization going. All this was under the
sponsorship of Gainesville Woman's Club. I do not know when they broke from
the woman's club, but eventually they felt they no longer needed it.
L: What part was it that your aunt played?
K: Well, you should read this; she tells about it in this article. I should have
underlined some of these things. "The Junior Welfare League was formed on
Mrs. Palmer's front porch. 'I was just a sponsor,' she said. 'The girls did it
themselves. I purposefully kept my participation sketchy. I wanted them to do
things their way."' She got them together, but she did not make any suggestions
of how they should do it, what they should do, or anything like that. They did it
L: What is that that you are reading from? That is a newspaper article?
L: This is from the Gainesville Sun, January 21, 1973: "A Morning Visit with Aunt
Carrie." Now, you quote in the article a Mrs. Palmer. She was born Caroline
K: Caroline Julia La Fontisee.
L: Then she became Mrs. McCollum, and she later became Mrs. Palmer?
L: Well, it looks from this article that she was quite a club woman.
K: I should say she was.
L: What sorts of things was she active in?
K: She was active in community activities and a lot of things for church. Then from
the community she branched out into the state. She was the president of the
Florida (state) Woman's Club. She was also president of the Twentieth Century
Club, as it was called then. Now it is the Gainesville Woman's Club.
L: So that is the same group?
K: Yes. It was the Twentieth Century Club, and then they renamed it. Mrs.
Palmer was president of the Twentieth Century Club in 1913 and state president
of the Federation of Women Clubs in 1919. This is the quote: '"They thought I
was too young to be a state president,' she remembered, 'but I told them I was
old enough to be the president of the United States.'" Then the article says,
"Mrs. McCollum and Mable Voyle helped organize the [National Federation of]
Business and Professional Women's Clubs." She was just always into
L: It sounds like she was a very active lady.
K: Very, and away from home a lot of the time. Uncle Jim, her husband, was just
so good about that--letting her go. Then she was the president of the National
Council of Catholic Women, and she would be away a lot working with that. The
office was in Washington, DC, so she was up there a lot. She went to other
L: She was in a lot of organizations, and not just at the local level.
K: That is right--state and national, like that National Council of Catholic Women.
She was a recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, given by Pope Pius XII.
She worked in so many things that I do not remember them all. She was
interested in the library. An aunt on my father's side, Mrs. A. R. Harper (my
father's sister), wrote to the Andrew Carnegie Fund got the money to start the
library. The Twentieth Century Club was organized at our Aunt Mrs.
L: This is another aunt?
K: Yes. I had five aunts here in town: three of my father's sisters and two of my
mother's. Some of them came back, so we had more at one time. But they
were all interested in clubs and doing things.
L: This list of Mrs. Palmer's activities is impressive and quite lengthy, too. I see
she was involved in the Red Cross and in war relief services.
K: She was in everything.
L: And it was in her involvement in the Gainesville Woman's Club, which was called
the Twentieth Century Club, that started the Junior Welfare League.
K: I do not remember if it was the Gainesville Woman's Club then or not.
L: I believe I saw that it was the Twentieth Century Club. How long did she serve
as sponsor for the Welfare League?
K: The League was so important to her. They never had anything that she was not
[actively involved in]. If they had the banquet at the end of the year or anything
like that, she was always invited. So it was not so much a sponsorship as it was
just giving her a lot of attention, and she enjoyed that. They were very good to
her. They never forgot her.
L: I did read that especially in the first few years she was a pretty active advisor to
K: I do not think it was so much advisement as it was Aunt Carrie's way of doing
things. If she wanted something done, [she would get the ball rolling]. She
would have a porch supper or luncheon--there was always food. As I said,
Lucille Hunt was the best cook that I have ever known, and a great person. I
loved her. Oh, she was a wonderful cook. Aunt Carrie would get the girls
together and maybe suggest something. Then they would take off from there
and decide whether they wanted to do that. I do not think that lasted very long,
because soon the League was on its own feet and had their own projects.
L: When you came back to town and worked with the League that one year in the
clinics, was she still serving as an advisor or sponsor at that time?
K: I would hate to say what her position was, because I do not know. She never
did intrude and suggest that the League adpot particular projects. She just let
them go their way. I do not know that she even suggested any special thing that
L: So maybe it was more a position of silent support, rather than trying to tell them
what to do.
K: That is right.
L: But still she was sponsoring them in a real sense in that she was being
K: She was the Twentieth Century Club's sponsor of the Junior Welfare League as
long as it was affiliated with the club. She was a sponsor to the Junior Welfare
League until they did not need a sponsor.
L: Do you remember who was president the year you came back and worked with
K: No, I really do not. I looked at this scrapbook and was so surprised as some
people who were president. For instance, I did not realize that Hazel Dell was a
president early in the history in the League. I know Catherine Tuterville was the
first president. I thought Elise Jones was next, but she was not; she just finished
out somebody's term. I think it was someone who left Gainesville. It is all in the
L: It would be interesting to look through that scrapbook.
K: There are things that I did not know about at all.
L: Let us talk a little bit about the make-up of the club. Was it a fairly
homogeneous group of women?
K: Well, when we first started, that was one of the hottest questions of the whole
thing: Who was going to be asked to be in there? There was a lot of discussion
about who would be invited for initiation into the club. That was a hot topic.
When we first started that summer, we met at the Twentieth Century Club's tea
room. It was not in the big assembly room; it was a smaller one, and we were a
small group. One group of people would be on one side and one on the other,
depending on what the discussion was. But that is what makes a good
L: You have to have strong opinions.
K: Oh, they had strong opinions. It was fun. I can think of several instances
where it was really a hard-fought thing, whether they could agree on something.
I do not even remember if you could blackball anybody or if we had to have total
vote. How do they do it now?
L: As long as I have known about the group, nobody has been able to blackball
anybody, if by blackball you mean that one person's objecting could keep
someone out. They just changed the rules in the last three or four years about
their admissions policy. At this time, basically anyone who is sponsored is
admitted through the provisional program, during which time they are judged on
the commitment they give and whether they do or do not complete the
provisional course. At that time they are voted on by the members of the board
K: You mean they ask people to come be in the provisional [program] and then not
take them into the League?
L: I do not think they ask them with that in mind, but that is a possibility. I do not
know anybody that that has ever happened to, but that is the way it is set up
K: Is there a committee that says who will be chosen as provisional members?
L: Yes, there is.
K: The whole group does not vote on that?
L: No, they do not anymore. There is a committee. The people who are proposed
[for membership] are sponsored by a certain number of members.
K: You could suggest to that committee anybody whom you think would make a
L: Yes, you could, only it would take more than one member's suggestion.
K: But that is the way the group gets new members.
L: Yes. They delegated that responsibility to the committee and then to the board
of directors, who do have the authority to vote them in as full members at the end
of the provisional course. It sounds like that is very different from the way it
K: Yes, it sounds as though people are not as rigid about who could and could not
[End side Al]
L: I think you are right about that. Did they have a lot of spirited discussion about
other issues, too?
K: I know they had later on, but I was not here. So many of them were about the
hours that provisional members put in: Had she gotten in all of her hours?
Everybody was very solicitous that everybody else had to work as hard as they
L: That is only natural.
K: It was quite a job for them to get that many hours. Of course, every project they
had was hard work. It was not what the League does now. I do not know what
the League does now, but they do not do the work that the Welfare League girls
did. It was a welfare organization. They were doing projects and helping the
poor, the people that needed medical care, and things like that.
L: It was direct service.
K: Yes, and it was given by those girls; they did it. When you think about it, I do not
know that anybody would be very interested in an organization like that now.
But there was such a great need for those three or four things they did. They
got a lot of fun out of it, though.
They also had all these dances and other activities that were designed to raise
money. At that time, the Junior Welfare League was very well thought of. I
think everybody liked it. It was no trouble to get members because it had clout
at the time. People thought it was something to be in the Junior Welfare
League. I do not know whether they still think that about the Junior [Welfare]
League or not. The girls liked being in the Junior [Welfare] League. They
worked hard for it.
L: I can see that they worked hard, judging from the list of things that they
accomplished. You were talking about the dances they had. Were those well
K: I read about the dances in the scrapbook. I was never involved in them.
L: You did not go to any of the dances?
K: No, I do not remember any. I think that was early in the history of the League.
They had to have money to buy school lunches for the children. I know you
read this about how cheap [the lunches were].
L: I saw one thing that said they cost seven and a half cents a lunch. Did the
people in the League plan the menus?
L: Did you know anyone who was in charge of doing that?
K: No, but have heard a lot of them talk about how hard they worked. Some of
them, I think, had too much [to do] and gave up the League, but I do not know
who. I could not tell you who was in the group when it started. It had just been
too long to remember that little nucleus that started that whole thing.
L: Was that little nucleus basically Gainesville women?
K: Yes, all of them.
L: So they were people who had grown up together and had known each other for a
K: Yes, and they were in the same age group. I asked my friends and Kitty asked
her friends, and they came in, and it got larger.
L: About what age group would you say that was?
K: I would say the women were in their twenties.
L: Maybe they felt comfortable enough with each other, knowing each other for so
long, to be able to disagree.
K: I should say so. They were very comfortable in doing it. Some of them were
the kind of people that are opinionated about things and do not mind expressing
themselves. For some of them it was just a riot. They would be so upset.
Words would go back and forth, but we did not ever have a real fight. It would
not have been good if everybody had agreed about everything. There had to be
some conflict about those things to really make it go. Nobody would care as
much if everything went so well.
We think back and laugh now about how hard we took it all--who was going to be
there, how many hours were required, etc. But we all knew each other really
well, and there were just a few of us. There were not many to begin with. The
League now is a big club because every year you take people in. Did you say
now you cannot have more than forty members?
L: No, I read in the minutes that during the first ten years of the League there was a
membership cap. Before the Junior Welfare League became the Junior League
in 1975, there was a rule that you could not have more than 100 actives. When
they joined the National Association of Junior Leagues and dropped the "welfare"
from their name, they did away with that regulation.
K: So there is no cap on members?
L: There is not upward limit, and, as far as I know, there is no lower limit, either.
K: I think those welfare leagues all had membership numbers. Most of them had
the same bylaws. They took them from one to the other.
L: I really do not know anything about any of the others except Gainesville's. I am
not familiar enough with the others to be able to answer that.
K: I do not know why, but it seems to me that they took the bylaws from those other
leagues, so we all had the same bylaws.
L: When you were participating with the Junior Welfare League, were there any
conferences with other welfare leagues in Florida?
L: Did you get to go to any of those?
L: What did you hear about those conferences?
K: Well, I never paid any attention to it. I knew that they had them because Aunt
Carrie said she had heard about it in Lakeland. But I did not know there were so
many until I saw it here. There were about five or six of them.
L: I even read that once during that first ten-year period Gainesville hosted the
conference. I do not recall which year.
K: Well, it is in the scrapbook. Ellen Andrews was the president that year, and she
entertained. Orlando and Lakeland grew, and they were eligible for the Junior
League quite a while before Gainesville got one. You had to have so much
population in the city--that was one thing the national organization required.
L: That is right. You had to have a certain population, and you had to have a
certain economic base, too. There were several qualifications. The third
qualification that I remember was you had to get your membership to a certain
K: What is the League doing now?
L: Well, I am a sustaining member. I am not active myself, so I am probably not
the most up-to-date person to answer you. The League is still involved in some
direct services, although that is not necessarily the biggest thrust of their work.
For instance, they have a volunteer group that works in the premature baby
nursery at Shands [Hospital]. They cuddle the babies and rock them, and they
do other things under the supervision of the nurses over there. They are
providing direct hands-on care there, which I think is very interesting.
They have two projects that have to do with the elderly, I think. In one of them,
they visit the nursing homes of the area. At one time they were taking around a
portable display from the Florida Museum of Natural History that had things that
could be handled, giving some sort of presentation at the nursing home, and
allowing the people there to have hands-on experience. And they were having
direct relationships with the patients in the nursing home. I understand that
there is another elderly program.
K: Are they doing that now?
L: I know they were as of last year. I have not heard as of this year. It is a
relatively current program. One of their big emphases at this time is focused
through the Family Resource Center, which is housed in a little brick building on
the next block down from Alachua General [Hospital]. It is a program the
League set up, and it works in collaboration with some other agencies in town.
It serves as a clearing house for family need. They do not provide direct
hands-on experience in terms of giving aid to people, but it as an educational
process in that there is a library there, and they also provide lectures or seminars
to parents throughout the community, not just to the League members or one
particular part of the community, on parenting and other problems that families
face, like drug and alcohol abuse, managing finances, personal enrichment-type
programs, stress, etc. They try to give seminars on those different factors that
can tend to weaken the family. They have a parenting program, which is an
eight- to twelve-week session, that is also given to the community in which they
deal with parents who have very small children, birth to six months. Then there
is another one for parents of toddlers. In these sessions they teach parenting
skills and talk about the family as the basic unit.
K: Do the girls do that?
L: Some of the women that are in the Junior League volunteer to do that, and there
are other outside volunteers that work with the Family Resource Center that are
not in the Junior League. There are also people in the community who come
and donate their time for the seminars. Some of those people are members of
the League, and some are not. They are professionals who donate their time. I
have been to two of those luncheon seminars, and they are very well done and
seem to be very well received by the community.
K: Are you saying that what the League is doing is organizing the resources that the
community has to help these people and telling them where they can go for help?
L: That is one portion of it. Right now they have a federal grant called a care grant.
I am a little fuzzy as to what that does. I believe they are researching the
facilities that are available in terms of not trying to overlap services, but to
provide services to as wide a segment as possible. That is not the general
focus of the Family Resource Center. That is something that is funded
separately by some federal money.
K: You have paid work on that?
L: Yes. The director of the Family Resource Center is Sandra Owen. You may
K: Is she the one who used to be involved in real estate?
L: Her mother-in-law did. Sandra Owen is a past president of the League. Her
area is counseling, and she has been in this position for about two years.
K: Does she have a staff?
L: The person on the care grant is federally funded, and then there is a part-time
secretary. The rest of the work is done on a volunteer basis. They coordinate
services in terms of directing people where to go to get things that are available.
They also try to make certain that services that are not currently available are
being provided somewhere. They pull people for their board of directors from
lots of different avenues in Gainesville--from social service agencies, from private
business, from professions, from the volunteer community, as well as from the
K: So the board is a special entity apart from the League itself. The board
members do not have to be members of the Junior League?
L: That is right. It is totally separate. This is a process that they try to explain to
the membership as collaboration. In other words, the League has put in over
$100,000 into this already, but it is not something that the League controls. The
League has a say in it because there are people on the board who are members
of the League and because those people who are working in the Family
Resource Center do come back for more money from time to time. Therefore,
the League is only going to continue to put money in it as long as they are
satisfied that it is being utilized wisely. But the League does not "control" it. It
is a separate entity of its own. It is a corporation of its own, and it has people
from different areas sitting on its board. So that is an example of some of the
things that the League is doing in the community today that are different from
what your group did.
There is still some direct hands-on service, and there is a real interest in the
membership for hands-on service, because you can really see that you are
making a difference, and you get a lot of personal feedback from it, too. But I
think there is a feeling in the group that on an organizational basis, structurally,
there is an opportunity to make a difference in the system in addition to making a
one-on-one difference. So they have groups like the Family Resource Center in
which they are trying to make changes in the system to help people's needs as
well as helping one-on-one.
K: It would seem to me that there would be agencies that are doing this separately
but that maybe the family did not know about, and you could send them to that
L: That is one of the services that the Family Resource Center provides.
K: There are a lot of things that you talked about for which there are agencies that
do those kinds of things.
L: Right. There are people from some of those agencies sitting on their board to
help them know what is available.
K: Are there many people that go to them for help, or is it more like learning the
L: I do not know how much of their clientele is referred to them and how much just
comes in "off the street." I know it is just now beginning to build recognition in
the community. For instance, in the fall they had a Halloween carnival at the
Oaks Mall. The primary purpose was to raise money, but a secondary purpose
was to get recognition in the community and to have the community recognize
them for what they are. As they become better known, they will get more
primary recipients instead of being referred. Presently, I do not know how much
is referred and how many go there first.
K: Who would refer them?
L: A social service agency or a professional that they might know individually.
They are fairly well known among the social service agencies in town. I do not
know that they are that well known among individuals, and that is one of the
things they are trying to improve.
K: Where are they located?
L: It is a small brick building directly behind Dr. [Gerald G.] Hazouri's parking lot and
just to the east of Alachua General. The Mental Health Services used to be in
that same little brick building.
K: Do they own that?
L: No, Alachua General owns it, but they are allowing them to use it until they need
it. But it was a very good starting place.
K: I wonder why I never heard anything like that before. I wonder where they got
the idea. The Junior League is doing that?
L: That is one of their projects. I think that over a period of ten or twelve years, the
members of the League, in dealing with the community and in doing community
outreach work, became aware of a vacuum in this area, and they thought they
needed to fulfill a need. They pinpointed where the need was and began to
work toward trying to set up something in that area. They designated the profits
from their Follies to that, as well as some other moneys that they had.
K: They do not do the Follies anymore.
L: Yes, they do. Every four years now.
K: At one time it seemed to me that somebody would go to the city commission and
somebody would go to something else; it was more community and was not
really a service. Do you know what I mean? What did they call that?
L: I think they have been interested in several different areas. I know one time
they were very interested in a nature center. They established Morningside
Nature Center and worked very closely with the [Gainesville City] Commission in
doing that. In fact, they set it up and funded it for the first few years. Then they
went to the commission and asked them to fund a line in the budget for it, and
now Bivens Arm Nature Park and Morningside Nature Center are part of the
city's Cultural and Nature Operations. I think they felt that through the use of
advocacy in a political sense they could make a difference in the community.
Maybe this is what you are referring to.
K: Yes. I guess maybe they had to learn something about setting up an advocacy
L: The League does offer training programs for its membership in different things.
They do train in advocacy, and they also offer training for the community. I do
not know that there has been an advocacy training in the community in the last
couple of years, but they offer training to the community in a wide spectrum of
Some years they will target education. The last couple of years, I think, they
have been really involved in drug abuse. Feeling as they do in the community
and in the Family Resource Center, educating people about a problem is one of
the first steps to helping solve it. They will put on a symposium or forum on an
issue and have a workshop to discuss what the problems are. I know in the
case of education and drug abuse they brought in national speakers to talk to the
community, and they had workshops. The League sponsored this for several
segments of the government and for community-wide workshops, as well as
some forums just for their membership. Then the League would try to take what
was learned at those symposia and develop some plans of action for Gainesville.
They have found that they are more successful when they are able to incorporate
other groups in the community with them in developing this, rather than
developing it themselves and saying, "This is what we want you to do." They will
ask people from the social services (as they did in the collaboration for the
Family Resource Center), from the government, and from professional groups in
town to come together and work on a problem, because they have found that if
groups are involved in helping describe the problem they are usually more
interested in helping find a solution. This is a new approach that they have been
trying for the last ten years, and it has been fairly successful.
K: It sounds like a great help to the community to have somebody doing something
L: I am sure there are a lot of groups in town that are working toward that. I think it
has been very rewarding.
K: There will always be problems, and you just pick up what you can. But that
sounds like a very good program. There are a lot of agencies that are not
utilized because people do not know about them.
L: That is right. That is one of the things that the women began to discover. We
have pretty good facilities in this town, but people are not aware of them.
Sometimes one agency is not aware of what another agency offers, or, it is sad
to say, maybe there is some petty jealousy, and some agency is working at
cross-purposes with another agency instead of trying to work together to provide
a more blanketed area of service. That is one of the goals of the Family
K: Do they resent you at all?
L: This was one thing that the group was concerned about, and that is the reason
they started out from the beginning as a collaborative process. Instead of
saying, "We have developed the answers to all these problems, and we want to
give them to you," they have said, "We want to go in as a group," and they
formed a steering committee. From the very beginning, the League was not in
control of what was going to happen because they put people on the steering
committee from all these different areas we are talking about. So they got their
input about what the questions were and what the problems were and what the
possible solutions were. The steering committee chose the board of directors.
K: You are dealing with official agencies, and you are an unofficial, volunteer
agency. I think it is great that that can happen, but I would think it would be hard
L: Well, probably the two people in town who have dealt in most depth with this
situation are Caroline Kitchens and Helen Anderson. You may know both of
them. From talking to them --this has not been my personal experience, but
what I have learned through them--they feel that there has been a great deal of
cooperation and a fair amount of success. I am sure you have to appreciate the
fact that the League is responsible for putting up all the money, giving them more
clout than they might have had otherwise. The League has put almost all the
money into what has gone into it, with the exception of the federal grant.
K: Well, that makes a difference. You cannot tell people what they have to do once
you have it subsidized.
L: You are right. I do not think they were trying to take the position of telling people
what to do, but what you are saying is a very good point, especially if these are
"professional" people and you are "volunteers."
K: You have to walk mighty carefully, because they would resent somebody telling
L: I think that has proven to be an interesting situation.
K: It is bound to be. Just being human beings and human nature, they think they
know more. But, of course, the thing that you are doing is to help the people by
using what these people are able to give. That is the main thing they are doing
L: That is one of the big projects they are doing. I am sorry I cannot list some
others off the top of my head.
K: How many members do they have?
L: I would say there are roughly 150 to 160 actives.
K: Where do they have their meetings?
L: This year they have had them at the Thomas Center; they rented the Spanish
Court in the Thomas Center. I assume they are going to continue to do that.
K: Do they have many meetings?
L: I believe they meet once a month except in the summer. A lot of the work is
done in committees.
K: It is a big thing now. How it has grown!
L: It has changed a lot from when you all started it.
K: I should say. It sounds as though they are doing a great program. I did not
know they were doing all that.
L: I am sure I have not done them justice in what they are doing. As I said, I am
not the one who is the most up-to-date on what the programs are. They are
doing a variety of things.
K: Who is their president?
L: This year it is Linda Knight. Her husband is Jim Knight, the dean of [Academic
Affairs for] Continuing Education at [the University of] Florida. She is from Live
Oak originally, but they have lived in Gainesville for a number of years now.
K: That is great for young women in their community. The Junior Welfare League
teaches them so much about what the needs are in the community.
L: That is true, it certainly does.
K: And they are people that can get things done. They have some prestige.
People will listen and help with people like that. I am glad to hear all of this. I
would like to know more about that.
L: I will try to get you some more information. It does sound like it is kind of
different. But I guess in fifty years it ought to change some.
K: Yes. Well, the town has changed. Look at the things the government does
now. The League began these little things, [like the school lunch program and
the projects for the nursing homes], but the need was there, and it was very
great. It was up to the federal government, the state government, and the city to
do some of those things.
L: In the case of Gainesville, some of them were things that were started by the
Junior Welfare League that were later taken over [by the city].
K: The League was doing it, and then these agencies came in and took it over. Of
course, when certain things would come to the city, like Shands Hospital and the
medical school, they would do things for the city.
L: That is right. Those needs were not being served in an organized fashion.
K: I do not think there are midwives anymore. I think the maternity patients are
delivered at Shands. In fact, I think I heard one of the interns ask if white ladies
ever had babies, because most of the people who come are black. But they all
get such great maternity care.
L: I am sure that has lowered the death rate.
K: Yes, I think maternity death is almost unheard of now. It used to happen very
L: You have worked in public health for a number of years, then.
K: Yes, I guess about twenty-six.
L: When did you retire?
K: I could not tell you when I retired.
L: I bet you saw a lot of changes in the state of public health during that period of
K: It is not the way it was when I started. For instance, there is now a state board
of health in Jacksonville, and I worked out of the state office a long time. I went
all over the state working with health departments in other counties. I did that
for quite a while, and then I was here in Gainesville. We had the
Commonwealth Program that provided field training for nurses, doctors,
sanitarians, clerks, and fields like that. They worked with us here in Alachua
County. Then when the College of Nursing started, they had their public health
field work with us, too. They had a faculty person who worked with our health
department. That is the way they did their clinical practice, which was good.
We did not have the kind of public health that we have now. The programs are
L: I want to thank you for talking with me today. I have certainly enjoyed it.
K: I appreciate your company.