Interviewee: Jim Edson
Interviewer: Jennifer Garrett
Date: October 28, 2004
G: It's October 21, 2004. I'm interviewing Jim Edson about the Flavet Village. Jim,
where are you from?
G: Can you discuss what your military experience was before you came to the
E: I went in the army when I was seventeen. I spent two years [there], came out as
a staff sergeant. I had a small amount of G.I. Bill, which I used for one year at
Jacksonville Junior College and then transferred to the University of Florida for
the last three.
G: The G.I. Bill that you were on, it was limited in how many credits it covered?
E: Yes. It was varied. I only had a little over what amounted to three semesters of
G.I. Bills. I had to work thereafter. I worked before.
G: What year did you start at the University of Florida?
E: I started Jacksonville Junior college in 1949, which is when I got out of the army.
I went there one year, so I guess it was 1950 that I started at the University in
my sophomore year.
G: Your military experience-did it impact your work ethic later on in your academic
E: I guess I grew up kind of in the military. I graduated from high school when I was
barely seventeen. I only went eleven years to school because [the school]
promoted me twice. I was probably a year younger than anybody in high school.
When I got out, I couldn't get a job. You can't really go to work until you're
eighteen. I could go in the army, so I did when I was seventeen.
G: Did your military experience help your focus in your studies later on or your
commitment to getting your degree?
E: I think so. I was more mature. I was not too conscientious in high school,
believe me. I thought I was trying to play football. It was not scholastically
inclined, to put it mildly. I did a lot better in college.
G: Why did you choose to transfer to the University of Florida after you had gone to
E: I had originally planned to go to University of Florida to begin with. My folks were
living in Jacksonville and I could stay at home with them that first year and save
some money, so when I went to University of Florida I was totally on my own.
G: At that time, your G.I. Bill had already run out?
E: No. I used it at Jacksonville Junior College, which is now Jacksonville University.
In fact, it was the next year. I used it there because the tuition was higher there
for that year than at University of Florida. I really only had a little over one
semester on the G.I. Bill at University of Florida. After that, I had to work to pay
tuition. Tuition then isn't what it is now, I'm pretty sure.
G: How many semesters were you at the University of Florida?
E: I guess six and a summer school.
G: A university cheerleader of this era concluded that they, meaning the veterans,
have no school spirit, [saying] all these people are interested in is getting an
education. Why was an education so important to you?
E: I was in the service, and I think it was important to me just like it was important to
anybody. [If you go to school] you get a better job and a better salary.
G: Did you agree with the idea that the statement implies? That the veterans that
were coming back just weren't as interested in football or other things?
E: No, I don't agree with that at all. War time veterans may have been a little more
disinterested. Of course, as far as the cheerleaders' concepts, back in those
days, the Gators couldn't win a football game if they tried. If people were a little
less interested... No, I don't think so. I never missed a football game while I was
there. Of course, I wouldn't go to one now. I can't stand the crowds and the way
those kids dress is a disgrace. I didn't see any less school spirit among the
veterans. Although there were less veterans when I got there than there had
been a couple of years before.
G: Were you motivated? Did you consider yourself more motivated than say, the
people who hadn't gone through the military experience at the University of
E: I can't say that I was. I was more motivated than I would had been if I hadn't
been in the service, I guess.
G: What did you study at University of Florida?
E: My degree's in forestry.
G: What did you expect university life would be like?
E: I don't suspect I had a concept. My brother had gone there and graduated four
years ahead of me. I was familiar with the university.
G: Did you know exactly how much longer it would take you to graduate at the
University of Florida?
E: I assumed I could do it in four years of college. Actually, I recall one semester I
carried twenty semester hours and I worked better than forty hours a week, and
believe me, my grades suffered. I would have been better off scholastically if I
had dragged it out a little more. It was good to get out of there. I was hungry
and ready to go to work.
G: Did you have any concerns about coming to University of Florida?
E: No. I had no doubt that I could handle it, if that's what you mean.
G: Can you describe a typical school day for you? What time did you wake up, how
many classes did you attend, when did you go to your job?
E: I had several different jobs when I was with the university. My classes were
[throughout the] normal spread of the day. At one time I was a lifeguard at Camp
Wauburg. They wanted me to work on Saturday and Sundays and one afternoon
a week. Maybe more, I don't know. I worked probably more than I should have,
but by the same token, I had to come up with the tuition each time. Then I
worked for the school of forestry on the Austin-Cary Forest. That was in the late
afternoon after class. Four or five of us worked out there.
G: Did you usually walk to your job? I know you said Lake Wauburg, you couldn't
have walked all the way out there.
E: We had to drive out there.
G: You had a car?
E: Yes. Such as it was.
G: How did you handle the transition into college life, coming out of the service?
E: I guess I was used to a certain degree of regimentation. I didn't have any real
transition there, as you'd call it.
G: Was there any difficulty in having to learn from the professors or was there any
kind of difficulty with that whereas you might have given orders in your military
service and now you had to start over again?
E: I was still a young punk kid. I was used to taking orders. I was used to putting
up with the professors.
G: You mentioned how busy your schedule was. How did you balance your school
and your work with your family responsibilities once you were married?
E: I don't know there was any balancing to do. We were married my senior year. I
don't know there's any balancing.
G: Was it difficult?
E: No. In fact, I made my best grades after we were married. Maybe we stopped
going out to the Thomas Hotel for beer once we were married. I didn't see any
balancing to be done.
G: Let's talk a little bit about the Flavet housing. Where did you live just before you
moved into Flavet?
E: We had an apartment. Ginger would remember the address, I don't. It was a
garage apartment. It was about double the rent that Flavet was. I don't
remember the numbers on either one, but we lived there one semester and then
the second semester we got into Flavet.
G: Where did you live before you got married? Did you live on campus?
E: No. Four of us had an apartment. I roomed with three law students. I heard a
lot of law at the dinner table.
G: How did you go about finding a place for you and Ginger to live? Was it difficult
to find places?
E: There were almost no apartments then. It's amazing how many there are now.
There was not much. Of course, the university was far smaller. I forget how we
found this. We didn't have a whole lot to choose from, particularly that it was
reasonably close to the university. Now, I guess they have apartments all over
G: Do you remember how you found out about Flavet Village?
E: No, I don't. It was there.
G: It was there the whole time you had gone to school there.
E: It was there long before that.
G: Which Flavet did you live in?
G: What were your expectations when you moved in there? Did you have any
housing expectations? Were you proud to be moving into Flavet?
E: I don't know that I was proud. The rent was about half, and that was a big factor
when you're going to school and trying to pay for it as you went. Ginger was
working our senior year, but there was never a year I didn't make more money
than she did, because I was in Reserve and I was commissioned a year before I
graduated. I got a check there, and then I had been getting a ROTC check, and I
G: Can you describe the interior and the exterior of the Flavet that you lived in?
Ginger mentioned that it was a one bedroom?
E: I'm sure it was. I can't really picture it. It's been a long time. I'm sure we didn't
need two bedrooms. I don't think we had two bedrooms. Other than that, I
guess it had a kitchen and a living room, that's about all I can vaguely remember.
G: Do you remember if all the apartments were the same on the interior?
E: I don't know. I never got into very many.
G: Do you recall what the kitchen was equipped with?
E: No, not at all.
G: Do you know if there were any optional amenities when you moved in?
Something that you could pay extra for to get?
E: I don't think there were. If there were, we weren't in any position to pay anything
extra for anything.
G: Ginger said that you did not have a telephone. Where did you usually go to use
the telephone when you needed it?
E: We could go to the fraternity house. Ginger worked for the Director of Food
Service, and she had access to phones during the day. We didn't need a phone
G: Were there any issues with sound inconvenience, hearing your neighbors?
E: I don't recall. I'm sure it was not sound proof, but I don't think there were any
G: Do you remember if any of the residences aided in the maintenance of the
structure? Were you required to do any maintenance or keep it up or anything?
G: Were you allowed to have pets?
E: I don't know if we were. I suspect we were not, but we didn't have any, so it was
beside the point.
G: Would you describe Flavet as being nicer than the garage apartment that you
had lived in or not as nice or about the same?
E: Neither one were brand new, for sure. I would say they were close to parallel. I
didn't see a whole lot of difference.
G: Your main motivation was just to bring your rent down?
E: Yes, for sure.
G: I'm going ask you about the social life of Flavet Village, which I realize, with your
schedule and what Ginger has told me, was limited. Can you describe the social
life at Flavet Village? Was there a social aspect to living there?
E: I was in a fraternity, Sigma Chi, and Ginger had been a Sigma Kappa, so our
social life would have been around that more so than anything in Flavet. To my
knowledge, if there's any social life in Flavet, I'm not aware of it.
G: Did you know anyone in the Village before you moved in?
E: I'm sure I did, but I couldn't recall.
G: Did most residents living there have similar backgrounds?
E: Yes, I think so.
G: Do you recall how the residences celebrated holidays, such as Thanksgiving, did
most people stay home, did some people stay there?
E: I know we usually stayed there. Well, actually, in the spring semester, there are
not that many holidays, and if we went anywhere it was to Orlando or
Jacksonville and it was very briefly because we both had jobs.
G: I read in the Flavet archives that movies were shown at the Flavets. Do you
remember anything about that?
E: I'm not aware of it.
G: Did you feel like you were close to your neighbors in Flavet?
E: Physically or socially?
E: Not really. We didn't have a whole lot of time to socialize.
G: Do you keep up with anyone that you met at Flavet?
E: No. Actually, I know more people from my high school reunion than I do from
college reunion. In fact, when I went back this time, there was almost no one
there that I knew.
G: Do you recall if there were church services held in the Flavets ever?
E: I don't know.
G: What did you do for recreation while living in Flavet? You mentioned that you
went to your fraternity. Was there anything outside of the fraternity that you and
Ginger did for recreation?
E: No. We didn't have time. Of course, we attended football games, but not while
we were at Flavet ,because that was the off-season. I was still active in the
fraternity. It really had no formal form of recreation as you call it.
G: What were the age ranges of residences in the Village?
E: I don't know. I guess they had to be a veteran up until about the time we got in
there. So I guess they tended to be our age or maybe a little bit older. They
couldn't be much younger.
G: Did they open it up to non-veterans while you were there?
E: They did just before we got in, which was a source of irritation. We got married
in September, and I went over and put in an application for Flavet. They said,
when you are married, then we can put your name on the list. They wouldn't
even put my name on the list before we were married. That's why we couldn't
get in there that first semester. Then they started about that time, to keep it full,
they started letting a few non-veterans in. That kind of irritated me because I felt
like I should have been able to put my name on the list, at least that first
semester. I guess thereafter it was presumably less and less veterans. I guess
they needed to keep it full to pay for [it].
G: Do you remember how big it was at that time? I know you were in Flavet Three,
so Flavet One and Flavet Two were still open. They weren't still building on three
while you were there?
E: No. The buildings were built during the war. They weren't building any more.
G: They weren't building any more of the structures on campus at that point?
E: They were, shall we say, mature buildings.
G: Were there any minorities living in Flavet?
E: There were no minorities in the whole university. I won't get into that.
G: Were there any single veterans in Flavet?
E: I don't think they were eligible.
G: What happened when you or someone in your family got sick? Ginger said that
you all never got sick. Were you still eligible to go the infirmary?
E: I guess I was. I was a student as much as anybody was. I never [educated]
myself of it because I never got sick.
G: Do you remember there being a volunteer fire department in Flavet Three?
E: I don't remember it. There could have been.
G: Was there any kind of Flavet newsletter or did they hold any elections while you
E: If they did, I don't recall it, let's put it that way.
G: Did you feel safe living in Flavet?
E: I feel safe most anyplace. Yeah, I felt safe there.
G: Was there any crime in Flavet?
E: Not to my knowledge. It's probably safer than some of those dorms.
G: Did you feel there was a sense of community with in the Flavet?
E: I wasn't there long enough to really feel like I was part of a community. There
probably was. My community would have been a little more along the fraternity
aspect. If there was, I didn't avail myself in Flavet.
G: Dean of Students R.C. Beatty was quoted as saying that there was a low divorce
rate in the Flavets. Beatty's explanation for this was that the veterans of this era
have something in the way of character. What was this character and what do
you think kept these families together?
E: I think there was obviously more maturity within the Flavet than there was in the
rest of the university. First of all, you had to have been in the service. Therefore,
you were probably a little older. You had to be married. That makes a more
G: What kind of rules were there for living in Flavet? Do you remember any?
E: Pay your rent is all I know. You had to be eligible to get in.
G: Was there ever any disciplinary action taken against anyone living in Flavet?
Was there anything you could do that would get you in trouble with the
university? I had read about an instance where a lot of the people living in Flavet
went over to the agriculture experiment station, going through their garden and
things like that. Do you remember anything like that?
E: No, I don't remember any.
G: Did many residents own vehicles?
E: Yes, most of the people in Flavet probably owned a vehicle, I think.
G: Did they have any traffic problems?
E: There was parking problems. Believe me, that university hasn't solved those yet.
They've gotten worse. In fact, we had one car. I'd walk to class. Ginger would
take the car when she went to work, then she'd park it. I'd take it home for lunch
and bring it back. I had to find it in the parking lot there. Parking wasn't great
there. It never has been.
G: When you were in Flavet Three, was it an easy walk to get to your classes?
E: I didn't think it was prohibitive, no. I never mind walking. I was in the infantry
and did a little walking after as a forester. I'm not afraid to walk, never was.
G: Do you recall there being any window unit air conditioners in Flavet Three when
you lived there?
E: No, I don't recall it, but there probably was.
G: Were there any controversial issues among the residents of Flavet? I know you
said you were kind of upset that they had started letting in non-veterans.
E: I wasn't upset, I was irritated. No, I don't know of anything.
G: How much of a concern was money to you when you lived in Flavet?
E: We didn't have enough money to have any great concerns. We lived in a
manner that we would think is terribly spartan if we had to do it now. I was used
to living on short rations. Money was always a problem. I had to borrow $100
from the bank to get from Gainesville to my first job in Pensacola, Florida. We
didn't have any money left over. We got by.
G: How much did it cost to live in Flavet at that time?
E: I don't know. I would imagine around $30 a month or something like that. I
assume that included your electricity, but I don't remember those things. Ginger
would remember that better than I would.
G: I was just wondering how most people afforded the rent. I know it was cheaper
than anywhere else. Were most people still on the G.I. Bill that were veterans?
E: There were people older than I that had been in service longer than I and had
more G.I. Bills. I don't know.
G: Can you give me an idea of what expenses made up your budget? You
mentioned that tuition was a large part of it.
E: I wouldn't say it was a large part. Tuition was, I think, $50 or $75 a semester.
That doesn't sound like any big deal. We paid rent and we ate.
G: Utilities were included in Flavet?
E: I think they were, I don't recall seeing any extra bills for that.
G: Did you expect that your financial situation would change after you graduated,
that you would be making more money and living more comfortably?
E: I knew we couldn't live any more frugally than we had been living. My first job, I
think I made $325 a month. Actually, I guess the Korean War had ended. I had
been commissioned a year before. Up until two weeks before graduation, I was
scheduled to go back in the army. Then I got a letter and the Korean War had
ended. I got a letter that any veteran could request not to go back in service. I
did. Therefore, I had not gone out and looked for a job because I had a job with
Uncle Sam [the government] again. Either the service or any industry job would
have been more rewarding financially than what our economics were as a
G: Did you experience in Flavet influence your life in any way?
E: No, I wouldn't say so.
G: Would you assess your experience living in Flavet as a positive experience?
E: I guess you would say yes.
G: Were there any negative aspects of living there that you haven't talked about?
E: I don't recall any. It was a place to live, and that's all.
G: Can you suggest anyone else that I might need to talk to about this research,
anyone that you know that lived in Flavet around that same time?
E: No. I haven't been in contact with any.
G: Is there anything else that I haven't asked you about that you'd want to talk about
that time living in Flavet?
E: No. I don't know anything else. I don't know that we were there long enough to
be that pertinent for your study.
G: Speaking of that, were there a lot of people that were in that same situation of
just living there for just a semester or do you know?
E: I think most people lived there longer than we did. If they were married when
they were in the service, they were eligible when they got to the university.
Some of them might have lived there four years.
G: Thank you so much.
E: You're more than welcome. I hope I've been some meager assistance.
G: Yes, thank you very much.
[End of the interview.]