W: These are some general questions. We know that you were a teacher out there
at Ogden school. You know what this is for right? This is to help get a marker for
the old Ogden Schools. They want us to interview some people who were
principals out there, as well as some teachers and students. I think Ken's going
to be one of the students that we interview.
S: Ken didn't never go out there.
W: No, he didn't. Freeman might be one of the persons; Freeman went out there.
S: Freeman went there recently, and your sister Verdell.
W: But Ken was too young, he didn't go out there?
W: The first question we want to ask you is how were you hired at the school?
S: I was hired through the Alachua County School Board. I believe I had to take a
W: The school board of Alachua County is the one that hired you?
S: As well as I can remember.
W: Where were you interviewed? Did they come out and interview you, or did you
have to go in for the interview?
S: No, Mr A.L. Mebane, the superintendent at that time, came to see if I was able to
work, and spoke with my parents. You know where the bookstore is north of
Westview, well, that's where the school board was. You had to go upstairs there,
and I took a test. You found out the same day [you] took the test, it would be
awhile before you could start teaching out there.
W: How were you informed that you got the job? Did they inform you at the same
S: Yes. Professor A.L. Mebane came to my parents' home..
W: Oh, okay.
S: He asked if I could work and my daddy said, yes, she can work, if she gets it the
hard way she'll appreciate it better. I almost cried. At that time when children was
coming up, you couldn't be in old people's conversation. He just gave me a look
and I had to go around and leave them there.
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 2
W: Did you receive a clear job description of what they expected of you?
S: Not to my knowledge. I don't remember that, but I know my first job out there, at
the time I got out of high school without going to college, I worked with Mrs. Mary
Jones.. She was a teacher at the school at that time.
W: How long was the school term? When did it start? What time of the year?
S: It started in September and it was eight or nine months, as I recall. It wasn't no
ten months like it is now.
W: So it went from September to... when did it end?
S: When did it end? Eight months later.
W: Eight months from then, which was about the last of May or something. Do you
think that's okay?
S: I think that's right.
W: So it was September to May. Being in the rural area, and a lot of us worked on
the farm, did farming take precedent over the school?
S: I don't know if farming did or not, because we were girls and my daddy didn't
allow his girls to work.
W: Yeah, y'all lived down there.
S: We lived down there on Carlie Dupree's farm.
W: The next thing is, do you remember what your starting salary was?
S: [laughing] I sure don't, but I do know I wasn't taking $100 home a month.
W: You know you weren't taking $100 a month.
S: The first check I got was $89 and something cents. But I don't know what the
starting salary was.
W: How did your salary compare with what the other people in the rural area was
S: I don't know, because we didn't get into other people's business in the
community. Mr. Dupree had his farm, but they were paying us, my brother and
him, and I don't know but they were getting so much money a day.
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 3
W: Did the Negroes as well as the whites out there in the community respect you
and your position?
S: Well, yes, the blacks were more against me than the whites, because I worked
out there. I don't know why he was against me, my cousin LJ. But I worked until I
got married at the school.
W: So you think you had better respect from the whites than the blacks?
S: I think so. I don't know [about] back then, because I didn't deal with it. If anything
was said about us, it would get back to our daddies and [our] people; at that time
it's like your momma or somebody else. When I got home-we didn't have a
telephone at that time-and I was wondering how did they get that knowledge that
we had been acting up in school?
W: It was the grapevine.
S: I guess so. They must have had somebody out there. What do they call [those]
W: Spies. And [you] didn't have telephones.
S: We didn't have telephones. That is something I still worried about. But they would
W: What were some of the major discipline problems? Did you have discipline
S: They had discipline problems like speaking unfavorable statements about their
parents. Most of the things I had [experienced] were, you say something about
momma, and they said, you talking about my momma? Then they would get into
fights. We had a big old rail, you know they had and he had one of
those things and [was] saying, I'll kill you boy, I'll kill you. I looked around and I
said, boy, if you don't put that thing down, I'll kill you. I was so scared that I was
trembling, but anyway, I got him to put that railing down.
W: I guess you answered that, how you handled those discipline problems.
S: Well, we whipped them. At that time, you could paddle the children. Then we
called the parents and the parents would come. We'd tell the parents and Mrs.
Jones, [and] they would come to school, and the parents told the boys, if you
can't come to school and learn, you can come home and work.
W: Was there a school in the community prior to Ogden School?
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 4
S: They had one down to Damascus for a long time.
W: Yeah, but you never went to that school.
W: And you didn't teach down there.
W: Who was instrumental in getting Ogden School set up?
S: I sure don't know, because that was before my time.
W: Yeah, but you don't know one person who was instrumental in getting the school
W: Now you don't know what year Ogden started?
W: That's the problem that we're having, trying to find a year.
S: I do not know. But I guess it was way back then, because I know when I began in
1945, that school was a one teacher school a long time before then, until my
brother went there.
W: Now some of these people that you just named, my next question was going to
be who were some of the first teachers, but you just named some of them.
S: No, I don't know. Those were some of the teachers that I knew, but there were
some people out there before Mr. Jones.
W: A. Quinn Jones taught there?
S: There's two Jones, I think it was A. Quinn Jones and Franklin Jones. What was
the other one's name? It was A. Quinn and one was the principal, the one with
curly hair, was this man named Max's brother. There was Mrs. Maude Lewis,
Mrs. Stella Ferguson, Mamie Long, Mrs. Mary Jones, Ruth Woods, Ferrman
Welch, and Mrs. Henley.
W: Yeah, I remember them.
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 5
S: Well, way before then, one of the first teachers I went to was Mrs. Lewis.
W: Maude Lewis.
S: Maude Lewis was teaching there with A. Quinn Jones.
W: Did you all have a principal out there?
S: It was a two teacher school when I first taught there. Mrs. Jones took the early
grades, one through seven I think, and I taught fourth through seventh grades,
because there were more children. Then the next year Mrs. Ruth Woods and I
worked together, then Mrs. Mamie Long and I worked together. Then I worked by
myself; I guess you'd call it the principal and the teacher. I don't know what you
W: Yeah. Do you remember approximately how many students they had?
S: [There were about] seventy.
W: You think they had that many?
S: Yes, I know they did. When I first went to school we had the long seats in the
back by rows. We had all girls on one side and all boys on the other side, and in
the middle they had the lower grades.
W: So they would separate the girls from the boys in the same classroom?
S: Right. The girls would sit on the left side next to Mrs. Davidson, the boys were on
the other side. I never will forget that, and I was wondering why they did it that
W: They want me to ask how was a teacher assigned to the school, but I don't know
if you could answer that question.
S: Well, when I first started teaching I didn't have no college education. Back then I
don't think they had two years or what not, but I know I took a test. They had me
take a test. I took the test first and then they told me that somebody had coached
me and I had to go back and take it again. I never will forget.
W: You say somebody had coached you?
W: You must have done pretty good on the test.
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 6
S: I did, and I got the job.
W: What was the highest grade that was taught out there?
W: Seven was the highest grade that was taught?
S: Yes, at the time I knew about.
W: They weren't able to have different teachers for different grades.
W: One teacher taught more than one grade.
S: Yes. As I stated, when I first started teaching Mrs. Mary Jones had first, second,
third, fourth, and fifth, and I had sixth and seventh, because there was less
children in six and seven.
W: And you all taught everything.
S: Yes, everything.
W: Language as well as math; reading, writing, and arithmetic, you taught all of it.
W: Now you say you started at less than $100; do you remember what you highest
salary that you got out there?
S: I don't know how much that was, it's been so long. I don't know how long you
went to the school there.
W: Through the fourth grade. I went there through the fourth grade, to 1950 or 1951,
when they closed it down.
S: See, Kenny was born in 1949 and I worked until just about a month before Kenny
was born. I started working out there in 1944 or 1945, the time I got out of high
W: Do you know if there was anything like a PTA?
S: Yes, we had a PTA.
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 7
W: Is there any special thing that you remember having out there that you might
want to say, because these are basically all the questions that I have.
S: Well, what we did out there, I remember having what we called the 'Picnic
Spread' at that time. At the end of the school year we'd have big lunches out
there, and the children would come and everybody would bring a little something
to eat, and we had a little program. We had a spelling bee. Those were the kind
of things we had.
W: Spelling bees. At the end of the school year, like a picnic or something.
S: Yes, a picnic, but we called it the Picnic Spread. But it was a picnic.
W: Alright, thank you Ms. Simmons. This is the end of the interview. These are the
twenty-four questions that I have here. I had more for the other person, but they
cut them down so that's basically what I wanted to ask you. Thanks for your time
and thanks for this good interview.
Part II of Interview
W: One of the questions that they wanted to ask was to describe the classrooms. If
you can, just describe the classroom a little bit.
S: When I first started teaching out there it was two classrooms, one was on the
south side and one was on the north. We had the seats, and that's the way they
W: Single seats.
S: Yes, three or four people could sit on one of them old long benches, then as they
got smaller where I was teaching they were single desks.
W: Were books readily available?
S: They had a few books. If a family had children in the same grade, they had to
W: They were new books?
S: No, it was handed down books.
W: Secondhand books, yeah, I know.
S: We didn't have no new books.
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 8
W: Alright. It says here to evaluate the quality of students. What do you think, were
the students pretty good students?
S: Most of them were good, because they didn't have too much to do but go out and
play ball and jump rope, and they studied and they were pretty good students.
W: We didn't have class periods like they do now, but about what time do you think
the class began?
S: We'd start school as soon as the students arrived, and we had the older
children's lesson first. Like if they were in seventh grade, we had their work first,
like reading, then next we'd come on down, like seven, six, five. When we got
there we just went on. When we got done with that lesson, we couldn't stay on it
very long, we had to go right on with the others. My first year, as I said, I had fifth,
sixth, and seventh because there were less children in that. Mrs. Jones had first
grade through fourth.
W: I don't know if we touched on this last week or not, but the end of the day, was
there a typical time that the class ended during the day?
S: Yes, we had to be out at three thirty or four [o'clock], as well as I can remember I
think it was about that time.
W: Okay. Other activities, like extracurricular activities; what other things were going
on out there?
S: Well, if someone liked to sing then they would sing, but we didn't have a piano or
nothing. They'd get in a little quartet and form a little [chorus.]
W: The subjects, they wanted me to ask what some of the subjects were.
S: We had reading, arithmetic, writing, history, and we had geography.
S: Yes, and English.
W: Now if you had some students fall behind, like if they were sorta slow, what did
you do about that?
S: If they fell especially behind in the reading, they were retrained the next year they
had to repeat that grade. Sometimes they didn't.
W: Now do you remember many students that left Ogden and went to high school
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 9
S: Yes. Many, many more students went on.
W: How did they compare with the other students in high school? Were they pretty
well prepared you think?
S: I think they were, because they went on to other schools and college.
W: When Ogden finally got to close, do you know why it closed?
S: I sure don't; I don't know why it closed.
W: Well, we know it closed in the 1950-1951 school year.
S: 1951? It closed before then.
W: Before 1950?
S: After 1950, because I know Richie was born in 1950 or 1951, and I was teaching
out there when Kenny was born in 1949. Other people taught longer than me
after that because I went back a little bit after that in 1949.
W: So you weren't teaching out there when it closed, so you don't really have a
reaction to it closing. You don't have any feelings one way or the other about the
school closing. It didn't affect you.
W: They asked what was your relationship to the county school board and school
officials? Did you have communication with the school board at that time?
S: Oh, sure I did. I told you before that Mr. Setwright-that's the only superintendent
that comes to my mind right now, there might have been one before that. I don't
know what they were, but they would come around and see how well you were
doing. Our other school, he was a black man, he had married Louise Hayes, and
they would come around and see what was happening. Mr. W.M. Harris was on
some sort of board of trustee or something; he was on that.
W: So you knew a lot of the parents?
S: Oh yeah, I knew all the parents.
W: At that time the teacher had ...
S: We had a good relationship with each other.
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 10
W: How did you view your role as a teacher out there?
S: I think I was friendly, it was excellent, I think because everyone thought so.
W: Teachers were looked up to by the parents, too.
W: Well, during this time everything was segregated. Was there any problem that
the school system came across because of the segregation during that time?
S: The only thing I can remember, I don't know no problem really, but we had to
walk so far and the school bus for white children passed by us and they threw
little things, spit balls and things, out the window at us. We didn't have any
W: So the only problem that you saw was the walking.
S: The walking, and [the fact that] we didn't have any books out there. The books to
supply the children's need. We had secondhand books and we had to double up
on that. Then if the parents were able enough they had to buy books, because I
know my daddy had to buy books for us.
W: Were you evaluated by your superiors? Who were your superiors? The principal? You
didn't have principal out there at all.
S: Well, I was one of the principals. [Also] Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Ruth Woods, and Mamie Long.
W: So you really didn't have anybody out there to answer to did you?
S: No, for the first time Mrs. Jones and I worked together, and we got along fine. She was
teaching longer than me. She taught longer than I.
W: She was teaching longer and she had been there.
S: She had been there but she had been other places. Then Ms. Woods and I worked
together, and Mrs. Mamie Long and I worked together out there. And before my time
there was Mr. Henway, there was Mr. Jones, [and] there was Ms. Ferguson.
W: So these were the people that you remember that were maybe your superiors because of
the length of time that they had been out there.
S: Oh, yes. I guess so. But they didn't have the proper [title].
OSP 2, Simmons, Page 11
W: Two more questions, and one of them was what were your goals in teaching your
S: To be the best they could be.
W: To teach them to be the best that they could be?
S: Yes.And what I mean about that, if they came to school, they had to learn something. If
they didn't learn [I could whip them]-at that time we could whip children, but I very
seldom whipped one because they were normally good..
W: Finally, the last thing I guess I'll ask is how did the parents out there view education?
S: I think they viewed it fine as well as they could with the understanding that they had
that's like some parents we have today. They wanted their children to learn, they wanted
the education, but they didn't know too much about the education in the books that we
had. They had to go with
W: But as I remember, parents out there had a high ...
S: They looked up to the teachers.
W: They had a high expectation of the education. They wanted the kids to graduate from
S: Right, they really wanted that for their children.
W: Well. that's all the questions that I was going to ask, so I'm going to go ahead and turn
this thing off. Thank you for your time. Thanks for letting me come back again.
[End of Interview.]