Interviewee: Bill Emerson
Interviewer: Jennifer Garrett
Date: November 20, 2004
G: lt=s November 20, 2004. l=m interviewing Bill Emerson about his experiences at
Flavet Village [One]. Mr. Emerson, where are you from?
E: Columbia, Tennessee.
G: Can you briefly describe your military experience?
E: Yes. I went to what was then St. Petersburg Junior College, which is now St.
Petersburg College, the first two years. I graduated in June 1941 and then went
to the University of Florida. Of course, Pearl Harbor happened in December of
that year. My roommate and I immediately enlisted. They took us, but they said
we have no place to put three million men. So go back and finish this semester.
So I went back and finished the second semester of that year. I finished in June
and was going in the Navy in June of that year. That is on active duty in June of
that year. I was sent to pre-flight school at the University of Georgia, and then
primary training at the naval air base in New Orleans, Louisiana. Then to what
they called [NAS Pensacola], that was the next training phase. In New Orleans,
it was just bi-planes. You got bi-plane primary training. The advanced training
was in Pensacola. I went through about three different phases there, and then
finished and was sent [to] the final squadron, [where] you could apply for the
Marine Corps. So I did that and was accepted in the Marines. For our
operational training, we were sent to Cherry Port, North Carolina. We had heard
that if you were in multi-engines and graduated in the Marine Corps, you=d wind
up in P-38's, or A-20's, and we got to Cherry Port and found nothing but B-25's.
You never saw such a disappointed bunch of young men in your life. That=s
what it was. The Marines had a group of B-25's. Not many people know it.
That=s what we learned to fly. Two of us, which made it even worse, were kept
for instructional duty and had that duty for quite some time. Then the Marine
Corps opened a training base in Edenton, North Carolina. We were sent there to
train the graduates from flight school. I had that duty until I went overseas.
When I went overseas, I wound up on Okinawa. Our duty, our squadron, there
were only about two B-25 squadrons in the Marine Corps that got into service.
Both in the Pacific. Our squadron was assigned to anti-shipping, which was a
new endeavor. It had not been done before. They took all the bomb racks out of
the bomb bays and filled them up with gas tanks and took all the machine guns
off, except one in the tail. It held three rockets under each wings. We took off at
dusk and flew 500 feet over the water all night looking for enemy shipping. If we
got an blip on the radar, we flew over the ship and we had IFF equipment, which
is Identification Friend or Foe. If it came back friendly, we kept going, of course.
If it didn't, we made a time turn, came back, and the automatic pilot released the
rockets at the proper time. [There was] a huge parachute flare in the tail, which
was designed to light up the scene, so a camera in the tail could take a picture of
your hit. [And] the light would blind the gunner, so they couldn't see to shoot at
you. It was all new and had never been done before. I never worried about
getting shot. I worried about finding that [island the] next morning after flying all
different headings all night. It was effective. It was the first time it had ever been
done, as far as I know. Then the war was over, and I got home just in time for
Christmas of 1945.
G: Where were you released? What city did you go to?
A: The flight training, you mean?
G: No, in 1945. When you were released from the service.
A: [San Diego.] l=d never understood why I had orders to come home. 1=11 have to
go back and tell you that part of the story. I had what they call the duty one day,
on Sunday. I was sitting in the guard house at the gate. I=m a captain by this
time, so there=s a sergeant there with me. The field telephone rings and he
says, Captain Emerson=s right here. He hands me the phone, and the voice
says, this is [Sergeant] So-And-So at wing headquarters, which was down the
shoreline in Okinawa, a base called Awassi. He said, you have orders to report
down here 0600 tomorrow morning for a flight home. There were a lot of people
in the squadron that had more points than I did. None of them got orders to go
home, and I didn't believe this was the case. I said, you=re joking, and hung up.
The phone rang again in about thirty seconds, and this gruff voice says, this is
General So-And-So. You=d better have your rear end down here 0600 tomorrow
morning or you=re going to be court-martialed. Still not believing it, I packed up
and a couple friends drove me down in a jeep to Awassi, and here=s a Navy
Lockheed twin-engine that they had converted to passenger service. There was
nobody there except senior naval officers. I didn't see anybody under
Lieutenant Commander. Here I am a measly captain in a grubby uniform, and
they all looked at me like I had leprosy. I got on the plane and we flew to Pearl
Harbor, and I still can=t figure it out. lt=s early December and I think I might get
home in time for Christmas. I had a baby I hadn=t seen. This flight was to Pearl
Harbor. They put us off there into some officers= quarters. I figured l=d be
forgotten and be there forever. I was only there four or five days and then I got
orders to report on board the U.S.S. Texas.
I went down there to where it was berthed, and there was a sailor sitting there at
a little table. I said, Captain Emerson. He said, Captain Emerson, you=re in the
Admiral=s cabin. By then, l=m ready to believe anything, and he picks up my
sea bag and takes me over to the starboard side of this battleship. There by the
cabin door it said Admiral=s cabin. When we walked in, there were sixty-four
bunks, four deep in there. We all got to return. We got home. One engine failed
on the way to San Diego, but we were about half-way home, so they decided that
they didn't want to turn back. We got to San Diego, it must have been the
fifteenth or sixteenth of December. I=m still hoping to get home for Christmas to
St. Pete. We found out that they brought nine thousand men [into San Diego]
that day. You couldn't get out of San Diego any wayBon a train, or a bus, or a
plane, or anyhow. Four of us hired a taxi to Dallas. The deal was we=d give him
all our gasoline stamps and all our tire coupons and take turns driving. We
didn't stop for anything except gasoline all the way to Dallas. From there I was
able to get on a plane and finally managed to get home. I got kicked off in
Atlanta, and again, just by a stroke of luck, I got on a plane that was bound for
Tampa. Then I got home about two o= clock in the morning on about December
18 or 19. Just in time for Christmas. Jane met me. The commercial field in
those days was on [Tampa=s] Davis Island. She drove over from St. Pete at two
o= clock in the morning with this brand-new two-month-old baby that I hadn=t
seen, of course. It was quite a homecoming.
G: At that time, was Jane living with her family, or did you have the house there?
E: She was with her family.
G: At that point, how did you get to Flavet? How did you hear about it? What
motivated you to go back to school?
E: I can=t remember exactly how we heard about Flavet, but that was the only way;
we could have never done it otherwise. We applied for it, never expecting to get
it, and managed to get in for the second semester of that year, which started in
January 1946. I went through that semester and both sessions of summer
school, and graduated at the end of August 1946. As I recall, rent was
something like $21 bucks a month. Between that and the G.I. Bill, it was the only
way we could have made it. When I got out of the service with flight pay, in those
days, you got fifty percent of your base pay for flight pay added. I had what they
call a fogie, which meant [one tour of] duty, and with all those things combined, I
was making $500 a month, which was a lot of money. The biggest miracle to me
is that we decided to get out of the service. My commission was what they call a
reserve commission. They told us that if we decided to stay in, that we had a
choice, that they=d make our commissions regular commissions. It was so hard
with a baby to give up $500 a month and look at another year in college. As I
said, if it hadn=t been for the G.I. Bill and Flavet, I couldn't have done it. The
golf course looked awfully attractive, and the Officer=s Club was awfully
attractive. We did it, I guess, because we just figured long-range we had to do
that. It was sheer luck that we did.
G: Was that decision mainly up to you?
E: We made the decision together. I had a choice of staying in or getting out. That
choice was up to us.
G: Did your parents go to college?
E: No. I was the first person in my family, of all my aunts and uncles and cousins, I
was about the first to go to college and get a college degree.
G: Why was it so important for you to graduate?
E: I realized that I had a lot better chance at a career with a college degree than I
did without it. I have to say the G.I. Bill, it would not have been possible without
that. With that, that was an extra incentive to finish school. I only had one year
to go. If l=d had four years to go, I guess I probably couldn't have done it. I
figured with one year, and with that help from the government, that we ought to at
least give it a try, so we did.
G: You decided to go back to the University of Florida because that's where you
had gone before?
E: Yes. And it was a state university. The money was a big factor, too, of course.
G: A university cheerleader of this era concluded they, meaning the veterans, have
no school spirit; all these people are interested in is getting an education. That
was in the St. Petersburg Times, November 13, 1946. How do you feel about
E: I would not have made such a statement. I can=t say that it was as wildly
enthusiastic as it is now, but you have to remember that almost everyone there
was in somewhat the same situation I was in. We really didn't have time for
much except getting an education and getting a job. That was top of your list.
After all, you=re already four years older than you should have been when you
graduated from college. You=ve got a wife and baby, which was very new to the
University of Florida. I wouldn't expect the same kind of school spirit that there
is there now. I wouldn't agree with that statement, [though].
G: Did you feel like you were more motivated than a freshmen entering the
university in 1946?
E: Oh, yes. A wife and baby motivates you very much.
G: Did you draw from any of your military experiences? Was there anything that
happened to you in the military that made you more motivated when you got
E: I think the experience itself was very motivational. I never will forget that, when I
went overseas, and I was shipping out from Miramar, that [meant] taking [Jane]
to San Diego. She insisted on going out there with me. To my huge surprise,
her parents agreed with her. I think the only reason for that is that we thought
we=d probably never see each other again. You have to remember that's a
concept that everyone going overseas must have had. It was a lot different
motivation than it would have been if there hadn=t been a war.
G: What did you study at UF?
E: I majored in accounting. That=s what you did in those days if you didn't know
what else to do.
G: How did you expect that your life would be different than it had been when you
went to the university before you were married and before the war?
E: I hadn=t really thought about that. I know the opportunities would have never
presented themselves as they did. I guess if you are successful at one thing, you
could probably be successful at another. I don=t think the opportunity would
have presented itself. For example, Merrill Lynch [investment firm that Emerson
worked for] did not even have a training school until after the war. I always have
thought that they started that training school [because,] from the Depression from
about 1929 till the end of World War II, not many people [entered the investment
business] during the Depression and the war. The average age of the people
was a lot higher than they would like for it to have been. The way they designed
that school, you had to have been in the service, and you had to have at least
one child. Your base pay was based on those two things: how many years you
were in the service and how many dependents you had. I started out $260 a
month. 1=11 never forget it. A training school. I think that the training school in
addition to the over-average age of their people, it also was an attempt to give
something back to the servicemen. They figured they=d made a sacrifice for
their country. I think they had a great bearing on that opportunity, [which] would
never had presented itself if I hadn=t been in the service to finish school.
G: When you decided to go back and finish, did you have to make an application to
the university, and did you know that you would get back in? Was it guaranteed?
E: Yes, I had to write in an application. It was not guaranteed. However, you
always felt that your service record would play a great part in getting you in. I
think that had a great bearing on it, too.
G: Did you know exactly how long it would take you to graduate?
E: No, I did not know. I knew I was going to try and do what I talked about; go
straight through summer school and finish. We didn't have any money. I had to
get out and get a job.
G: You were able to get the G.I. Bill all through the summer?
E: Yes. I think the G.I. Bill was effective whether it was a regular semester or
summer school. They did everything they could to make it possible for
servicemen to get through.
G: Were your classes over-crowded because of this?
E: No. I don=t remember that. I don=t remember any class, I don=t remember the
numbers, but we=d sit in one room. I never saw a class like we see these days.
G: What were your biggest concerns about coming back to school with a family?
E: Well, there was a financial concern. I guess that was the greatest. I don=t
remember any other real concerns at all. It was just whether or not we=d be able
to make it financially. Neither one of our parents had money. We were pretty
much on our own. I have to say the G.I. Bill was making it possible for us and so
many other servicemen to do that.
G: Will you describe a typical school day for you, such as what time you got up and
what your responsibilities were during the day?
E: Before the war, I had all my classes in the morning. l=d worked my way through
high school and junior college here by ushering in the Florida Theater. All the
movies in the state were owned by the Sparks Brothers in those days. Florida
Theater was the first-run theater here. I had worked there for three years. When
I got ready to go to the University of Florida, they were kind enough to transfer
me up there to the old Florida Theater there on University. I had all my classes
arranged in the morning, and I went down, opened the theater. If you were the
ticket-checker, you were the boss, you see. l=d open the theater at twelve forty
five and took tickets until six, and then carry [a] laundry [route] late at night. After
the war, the things had changed as far as the job situation was. I can=t recall
whether I had all my classes in the morning or not, but I do know that I had some
odd jobs that I did at times whenever I wasn=t in class. Most of them had to do
with building. There were so many buildings being built. I had so many jobs.
Not a skills job by any means, just a labor job.
G: How would you describe the transition between military life and college life?
E: The freedom was very noticeable. Not having to report for military affairs. Of
course, you had class things that you had to report for. I think the freedom and
not having to take orders from anybody was the biggest difference. Of course,
having a wife and baby was really the biggest difference.
G: Did you ever have any problems with taking instructions from the professors
where you had been an officer before? Was that ever an issue?
E: Not really, no. I guess, there again, probably being in the service made you a
little bit more susceptible to taking what you consider the instructions from the
professors. You=re used to taking orders. You take the instructions from the
professors. I would think that would be one thing.
G: How did you balance your school responsibilities with your family
E: I don=t remember having any particular problem with that. You did not have a
lawn and grounds to maintain like you do if you have a home. These were just
little wooden structures. I don=t even remember our yard. There wasn=t very
much upkeep for your residence. The main thing was just making sure you had
enough money to buy groceries and gasoline for the car.
G: Where did you live just before moving to Flavet?
E: In St. Pete. As I told you, I got home just in time for Christmas. I think I lived
there, Jane=s mother and dad had a little apartment house. See, I wasn=t there
very long. because it couldn't be more than two or three weeks before we went
G: Did you know about Flavet when you were applying to the university, and if so,
how did you find out about it?
E: I can=t remember that. I don=t know for sure. We sure were [lucky]. That was
the first Flavet. I think they had maybe three of them, if I remember right. The
rest of them were two-story barracks. Our building had three units in it, that's all
it was. We were just very lucky all around.
G: Did Flavet meet all of your housing expectations? Or did you even have any
E: We didn't have any. So yes, it did.
G: Can you describe the interior of your apartment, such as how many bedrooms it
had, what the furnishings?
E: To my recollection, it had three rooms: one bedroom, a living room, and the
kitchen. You ate in the kitchen.
G: You supplied your own furniture?
G: Were all the apartments the same on the interior?
E: I don=t know the answer to that. I would think they probably had some with more
than one bedroom, but I=m not sure about that. I was never inside one of the
two-story ones. The three units that were in this building we were in were just
G: Were there any optional amenities?
E: You mean things that you had a choice?
G: Like if you could rent a fan?
E: I don=t remember anything like that. Of course, no air conditioning.
G: I=ve read over a copy of one of the lease agreements that states that electricity
was provided in the rent. If you had certain appliances such as an electric ice
box, a washing machine, a waffle iron, a coffee percolator, or an electric fan, that
you would be charged extra. Was that something that had been instituted when
you lived there?
E: I don=t remember that. We didn't have any of those things, so maybe that's
why I don=t remember it.
G: Did you have a telephone?
E: I think we must have, but I don=t remember it. I know we did though.
G: Was there anything that you did to make your apartment more livable, such as
did you have a study space within there?
E: No. Of course, the baby=s bed was in the living room, too, because the bedroom
wasn=t big enough for it in there. I just studied over there in one corner near
where the baby=s bed was.
G: Did you have a desk or anything?
E: I don=t remember a desk.
G: What were the issues with sound in the unit; being able to hear your neighbors?
Was that a problem?
E: I don=t remember that being a problem.
G: Did you ever have to aid in the maintenance of the building?
E: Not to my recollection.
G: Do you know if you were allowed to have any pets?
E: We didn't have one. I don=t remember anybody having one, so I can=t answer
that question, but I don=t remember any pets.
G: Would you describe the social life at Flavet Village?
E: It was nothing organized at all. Since you all were in the same boat, you had to
have at least one child, and of course, the children were usually very young,
we=d get together and walk the kids and things like that. I don=t remember any
organized social activities. We were all too busy because almost everybody had
to work another job, too.
G: What time did you usually get home at night from that job?
E: My job wasn=t at night. It was in the daytime. It was just odd jobs, working in
building areas where they were building new buildings.
G: You would usually be home by dinner?
G: Did you know anyone in the Village before you moved in?
E: I don=t believe so. I don=t think we knew anybody before hand, but we became
pretty close while we were there. Of course, that wasn=t a very long period of
time. It was only about eight months that we were there.
G: Did most residents have similar backgrounds?
E: I think so. Some of them, as I recall, one of our neighbors was a graduate
student. In other words, he=d finished college and was a little older. I think the
backgrounds were pretty similar. Not so much the service, but all of them had to
be in the military.
G: Were they all around the same age as you?
E: Like I said, this one fellow was a little older because he was in grad school, but
very similar in age.
G: What were those age ranges?
E: I had finished three years of college. I guess maybe I had to have been twenty-
five. I would say twenty-three would be maybe as young as you=d find anybody.
I don=t think very many people had gone into the service that were in high
school. Some may have been a little younger than that.
G: Did residents ever celebrate holidays together?
E: Yeah. Of course, we weren=t there for Christmas. I don=t remember specifically
how, but I=m sure we did. You have to remember we were only there for eight
months, so there weren=t too many holidays in there.
G: Did you feel like you were close to your neighbors?
E: Yes. We were all in the same boat, that made [us] feel very close.
G: Do you keep up with any of the friends you met there?
E: No, not anymore. We did for a while, but not in the last few years.
G: Was there any groups of people that tended to socialize together, such as based
on what they were studying or based on what type of military service they had?
E: Our social life really was mainly with people from St. Pete, people we had known
there. Very few of them, in fact, I can=t remember any of whom were in the
same situation we were, but they had been in the service, and probably weren=t
married. They were going to school up there. We=d get together more with
them than we did with the residents of Flavet. A lot of times they would drive up
from St. Pete, people that we knew, and we=d see them then. They=d come by
G: Was there anything that you did for recreation while you were living there?
E: Not really.
G: Were there any bridges games or intramural sports or anything like that?
E: I think Jane played a little bridge, but I never did anything like that.
G: Did you have to work on the weekends?
E: I don=t think so. I don=t remember working on the weekends. That type of
business, building, usually didn't go on the weekend.
G: How much workload was there for you studying-wise? Were you at the library
until the late hours of the night or did you ever spend all weekend studying?
E: I don=t think I ever carried more than I think what was equivalent to hours of
class, was three hours. I had fifteen hours was about the most that I carried. It
wasn=t all that tough. l=m not going to tell you I had a hard time getting through.
I didn't get all A=s, either, but I got through without too much trouble.
G: Was there any diversity among the residents as far as where they were from or
their backgrounds or their ethnicity?
E: I don=t recall any ethnic differences. They were from all different kinds of
backgrounds as far as family and that sort of thing, but I don=t recall any very
wealthy people, either because they wouldn't have gone and had to do that. We
were all pretty much alike and in the same boat.
G: There was an incident that happened later on in one of the other Flavets about
one of the employers having a maid. Did anyone you know of have a maid in
E: Not to my recollection.
G: When you or someone in your family got sick, what did you do?
E: The medical center was over about where the student union building used to be,
which is very close to the old gym.
G: That was Dauer Hall at that time?
E: I think so, yes. I think what I got was viral pneumonia, and I was in there for a
little while. It was right between class and walking from class to the Flavet
Village, right in line with that. It was a very small building. It was only about two
stories high as I recall.
G: lt=s still there.
E: Is it still there?
G: Oh yes. They still use it as an infirmary.
E: Oh do they? 1=11 be darned.
G: They=re doing an addition now.
E: The locations about where I said, isn=t it?
G: Yes. Were you able to stay there overnight?
E: Yes. I think I stayed there two or three days because it was pneumonia.
G: Did you have any problems that you needed to go to the infirmary for malaria or
things like that?
E: I don=t recall that at all.
G: How much of a concern was fire to you while you were living in Flavet?
E: Fire? I never thought very much about it. It wasn=t very much of a concern.
G: You did have gas heat and a gas stove?
E: I believe so.
G: Do you recall any kind of newsletter or newspaper about the Flavets?
G: Where did you get most of your news from?
E: I guess we must have gotten a newspaper. I don=t remember if it was a
Gainesville Sun. Those days there obviously was no television. You had radio
and the newspaper. I guess that was about it.
G: Did you feel like you were active in the Gainesville community at all? Did you
align yourself more with the Gainesville community or more with the university?
E: More with the university.
G: Did you feel safe living in Flavet?
E: Yes. You didn't really have those worries in those days. That was in the days
when anybody would pick you up if you were hitchhiking and had a rat cap on.
Nobody picks up hitchhikers anymore. You never thought about that sort of
thing. I never remember having any concerns about the safety of my family at
G: Did you feel like there was a sense of community in Flavet?
G: Why was that?
E: Because we all had similar backgrounds. We were all going through it. Being in
the service brings you very close together. All having to get an education, and
you had a much different feeling about getting an education than we would have
had if we hadn=t been in the service. We had to be successful. We couldn't
G: That was because of your responsibilities with your family?
E: Well, you=re much more serious at that age, for one thing. Having been through
the dangers and everything of war is the other. Having a family and dependents
is the third, I guess. It makes you a lot more serious about getting an education.
G: Did you feel like you were under a lot of pressure?
E: I don=t remember that. I know I would now, but I didn't then.
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 that he was
talking about, and what kept these families together?
E: I was not aware of that, but it doesn't surprise me. I guess most of them, if I
take my experience, I had been separated from my wife for so long, and a baby
makes a big difference. Everybody had to have at least those two things to be
there. I don=t recall anybody separating. Nobody I knew separated while we
G: What kind of rules were in place while living in Flavet?
E: I know we had rules, but I don=t remember what they were. They didn't impress
themselves as being very [strict].
G: They were generally adhered to?
E: I=m sure they were, yeah.
G: Was there any kind of disciplinary action taken against somebody living in
Flavet? Where they broke any kind of rules?
E: I don=t remember any.
G: If you had a complaint about another resident, was there a place where you
could lodge your complaint?
E: I don=t remember that, either. We never had that experience, but I don=t know
whether there was or not.
G: Did many residents own vehicles?
E: Yeah. Quite a few. I was going to tell you, to start with, when Jane insisted on
going to the west coast with me, I had a 1940 Plymouth business coupe with four
recapped tires. Tires were almost impossible to get in those days. A car was
almost impossible to get, too. I don=t know how I happened to have it. I had
bought it from a friend of mine in the service. Her dad agreed that he would
come out and drive her home. l=m not sure whether he wanted the car more
than he wanted her, but he agreed to come out there and get her. When he
started out, they kicked him off the train somewhere and he got on a bus. Then
they kicked him off the bus.
G: Why did he get kicked off?
E: Servicemen. This was right during the war. He was a civilian. When he finally
got to El Centro, he had to hitchhike the rest of the way to La Jolla where we
were living. He got there and brought Jane and the car back. There weren=t
many motels in those days. This trunk was so big that a double-bed mattress
was laying without being folded. I figured we=d have to spend the night in the
car sometimes because we wouldn't be able to find a motel; there weren=t any.
Of course, I had the first blowout before I got to Houston. When I got to
Houston, I managed to find some recapped tires and we finally made it that way.
That=s the same car we had when we went to Gainesville. Of course, we could
not have done it without the car. We couldn't have gotten up there and had to
have it to get around. I think everybody was in the same boat there, too.
G: Speaking of limited availabilities, did you still run into issues with rationing and
certain items not being available when you were in Gainesville in the Flavets?
E: I don=t remember not being able to get things. I know they were not very
plentiful, but we were always able to get what we needed.
G: Did most residents own vehicles?
E: I think so.
G: Were there any traffic problems?
E: No. I remember you parked right behind your unit. Our unit was on a circular
drive. It had two straight streets. You came in on a straight street, and another
straight street ran this way, and then a circle was down here. We lived at the
beginning of that circle. No garages of course. No carports.
G: The road wasn=t paved, right?
E: I don=t think it was. I don=t remember for sure.
G: Were the residents allowed to wash their cars or anything?
E: I don=t remember ever washing the car. I don=t think we had a hose.
G: Were there any unwritten rules or codes that residents lived by?
E: I guess you could say that the unwritten code was that everybody pretty much
behaved [themselves]. You didn't do anything that disrupted the neighborhood,
and that was true of everybody. That all goes with the age and responsibility that
[End of side A1]
G: You were talking about women on campus?
E: Before the war, there were definitely only boys [on campus]. Right after the war,
most of them wives, but it was so unusual seeing all these ladies on the campus.
I don=t think it went co-educational until several years later.
E: Yeah. At that point, not many of them were students, but they were there, and
that was unusual. That made you act a little bit better than you otherwise [might]
G: What were the most controversial local issues among the residents of Flavet?
Was there anything that they were particularly concerned about having to do with
the university or the city of Gainesville?
E: I don=t remember any problems with the city, and there were not very many
problems with the university. I think they really bent over backwards to help us
along with our education. I don=t know how many other universities had that
experience, but I think the University of Florida was very proud of this Flavet
housing situation. I know that they would frequently bring military people down
there to see what they had done with these things. I don=t know what kind of
arrangements they made to get these barracks, but they wanted to show the
military that they had used them well, which they did.
G: Were you proud that you lived in Flavet?
E: Yes. I was proud of the fact that we were going to go to school to finish, because
it looked so iffy.
G: I=m going to move on to some economic questions. You=ve touched on this a
little bit, but could you expand on how much of a concern money was for you
when you lived in Flavet?
E: Well, we had no investments. We lived hand-to-mouth, you might say. Our
parents were not in a position to help us. I don=t mean that they weren=t willing,
but they just weren=t in a position to help us. We had to do it pretty much on our
own. That causes you to be a little bit serious about the way you handle your
money. We didn't waste any money. We didn't have it to waste.
G: How much did it cost to live in Flavet?
E: l=m not sure, but I think I remember $21 [per month]. You=re talking about rent?
E: I think it was $21 a month ...
G: Can you give me an idea of what expenses made up your budget?
E: Food and gasoline, aside from the rent and utilities. We didn't have very many
expenses. I don=t remember going to the movies very much. In fact, there were
only two movie theaters in town at that time; State Theater and the Florida
Theater. I don=t remember even going to them.
G: Did you ever go out to eat?
E: No. That=s one thing we did not do.
G: Was there ever a time when your G.I. check didn't come on time?
E: Not to my memory.
G: Can you tell me a little bit more about some of the jobs that you worked during
E: I didn't have regular jobs. It wasn=t like I told you before the war what I did.
After the war they were all odd jobs. As I said, mostly with builders that were
building the buildings there on campus. I don=t mean skill jobs. I didn't have
any particular skills. It was maybe just manual labor.
G: Was it hard to find a job that would work around your school schedule?
E: No. I don=t think it was very hard. There was a lot going on. They were glad to
G: Did you ever consider having your wife go to work?
E: No. It never entered my mind.
G: Did you expect that your financial situation would change after you graduated?
E: I hoped it would, but I didn't have very many expectations.
G: Was that part of your motivation while you were in school?
E: Yeah, to get the degree? Yes. No question that the career opportunities were
one of the biggest things that you thought about.
G: Do you feel like living in Flavet influenced your life later on in any way?
E: Yes. I think it did. Mainly for the reason as I said, I don=t think we could have
done that if it hadn=t been for Flavet.
G: Would you assess your experience living in Flavet as a positive or negative
E: Very positive.
G: Why was that?
E: Well, you felt like you were accomplishing something. You felt like your family
was safe, and you felt like you were going to make it. I don=t think many of
those things would have happened otherwise. In those days, if you=d had to live
somewhere off-campus, you couldn't afford it in the first place, but I just don=t
think it would have been the same. We were all in the same boat. That meant
that we felt as part of the community, not as outsiders. I think that had a great
deal to do with it.
G: Were there any negative aspects of living there that we haven=t already
E: Other than it was a fairly spartan existence, and I don=t really consider that a
negative aspect, because we were kind of used to it, really. And we really felt
like we were accomplishing something. That made up for almost any downsides
you could think of.
G: Can you suggest any other individuals that might be helpful to this research?
E: They=re all dead. I don=t think there are many people who lived in Flavet Village
who are probably still alive. I can=t think of anybody off-hand.
G: Is there anything else that I haven=t asked you about that you would like to talk
E: No. I think that's about covered it.
G: Thank you.
G: There=s one last thing I need to ask you about. Do you feel like your experience
living in Flavet influenced how active you are in the university now in being such
an active alumni?
E: I think so. I think you appreciate that sort of thing more and more the older you
get. You didn't realize the significance of it totally at that age. As you get older
and look back, and you do realize that if it hadn=t been for that, you probably
wouldn't have. I don=t mean l=m satisfied with where I am, that's not the point,
but I don=t believe l=d be where I am today if it hadn=t been for Flavet. You
have to realize that and think about it, which is why you take interest in the
university anyway, because you want to show your appreciation you have for
what they did for you. I just don=t think that would have happened without
G: Thank you.
[End of the interview.]