Interviewee: John Andre Bouvier, Jr.
Interviewer: William Spencer
S: You were born at Hillcrest on Boardman in 1903, I believe.
B: That is right, Will. That was my grandfather's place. He had practiced medicine
in Louisiana. My grandmother had developed bronchial trouble, so he brought
her to Florida to recover. He bought the old Hillcrest, I guess you would call it,
an orange grove plantation. It had a big orange grove, an old plantation house,
and some other adjunct buildings. The location was beautiful. It sat a top a hill,
and looking down on this hill across to the east you could see Orange Lake very
The house, if you are interested in the type of house, was very typical of the old
southern houses. As you approached it from the front, there was a two-story
piazza. Some of the southern houses had the piazza running for the two-story
height but did not have a floor between the first and the second. The columns
just ran all the way to the ceiling. But this one had the two piazzas or porches
with much smaller columns running from the floor of the first-floor porch to the
ceiling and floor of the second and then to another porch up top.
S: Hard pine?
B: It undoubtedly was built from the old Florida pine. The design of the house, as I
say, was typical because the front door was a double door. I guess you would
probably call it a French type door. Outlined around the door was glass of varied
colors in little squares. I do not remember the size, but I think probably they
were six or eight inches square and ran up the side of the door and across the
top, so it cast a very pretty effect inside.
S: Like a prism.
B: Yes, inside the house. As you entered these doors, you entered a typically wide
hall. Going immediately to your right, there were double doors again that opened
into what was used most of the time when I was a boy as a formal parlor. Then
behind that and adjacent to it was another room that was connected to it that
could be used to enlarge that parlor or for a sitting room. In the corner toward
the center of the two rooms was a double flue, and there was a fireplace in each
of the two rooms. As a matter of fact, the flue went on up through the second
floor to right above these two rooms; there were two fireplaces upstairs, also.
To the left of the door as you entered, as I have said, was another double door,
and that went into a very informal sitting room. That is where the family spent
most of the time. Behind that, corresponding to the room that was an adjunct to
the parlor, was the dining room. Behind the dining room was the pantry. Then
outside of the rectangle of the main house, which I have just described, was the
beginning of an "L" that went on toward the rear, and there was the pantry, the
kitchen, and the storage room for groceries and staples. They bought flour and
things of this sort by the barrel and stored it back there. It was quite a workable
The hall of which I spoke went right on through the center of the house and out
to an L-shaped back porch that L-ed off of the pantry and storage room and
behind the adjunct room to the parlor. There were doors, of course, from both
that adjunct room and from the dining room into the hall. Under that staircase
was a large closet.
The stairs went up to an equally wide hall on the second floor, and up there in
the front was a door out to the piazza. There was also, somewhere in there as I
recall, a window seat. It must have been at the side of that door which I do not
believe now was a double door. I think that was probably a single door that you
could go out on that porch upstairs, where you could look across and see the
lake. Then there were four doors opening off of that hall, each one going into a
S: No bath?
B: No bath. Of course, as you get older, things seem to have been much larger, I
guess, than they actually were, so I have no idea of the dimensions of any of
these rooms. To me, they seemed a pretty good size, but they may have been
not so large as I thought. The ceilings in all of the rooms were very high. In
those days they did not have air conditioning, naturally, and they did not worry
about having space to air condition. Of course, the result of that was that the
heat rose, and the floors were always inclined to be cold and the heat was up
against the ceiling.
The description of the house reminds me of a book called / Came Out of the
Eighteenth Century [by John Andrew Rice]. I think Cotton Ed Smith of South
Carolina was probably one of the characters in that book. There is a description
in there of a plantation house in South Carolina that practically parallels this
house. I remember when I read that book I thought I was back at Hillcrest.
S: Did your grandfather remodel or build? You said there was an old plantation
house when he got the property.
B: Well, I do not think he did anything to it except what was necessary. I think he
just kept it as it was. It was a good tight house in fairly good condition.
S: Were the bathrooms out back then?
B: Oh, yes, we had a chic sale. It was a pretty good size one. I do not remember
ever having to stand on one foot and then the other waiting to get in. But it was
far enough away from the house not to be objectionable.
S: How long did you actually live there?
B: Well, I was born there. My mother and father were living in Ocala, which was
only about twenty miles away, so when it was time for myself and my little
brother to be born I think my sister was born there, too my mother would go
up to Grandpa, who was an M.D., and he delivered us.
S: He actually delivered you.
B: Oh, yes. He, as I said, had practiced in Louisiana and then moved to Florida. I
do not know if that has much bearing on what you are interested in, but he had
graduated from Jefferson Medical School in 1854. He went into the Confederate
Army, and when the war was over, instead of going back to Alabama where he
had practiced for a year or two before he went into the army, he became imbued
with the idea that he wanted to serve and practice somewhere where the people
really needed a doctor, so he picked out that Cajun country of Louisiana where
they really did need doctors and did his active practice there. His brother, who
he put through Jefferson Medical also, also went to Louisiana to practice, but he
went to St. Charles and practiced there. He was the father of Dr. Shaler
Richardson, who for a good many years was the outstanding eye doctor in
Florida. He had a statewide reputation and was, I think, in charge of the public
health service in Florida for some time, too. That was not a full-time job, but it
was part of his practice.
S: What brought your grandfather to Florida?
B: It was my grandmother's health he was interested in protecting. This was looked
on, even that part of the state, as a place to come for health.
S: Did he practice at all in Florida?
B: No, only in case of emergency. I remember one time when I was sitting on the
back porch an old Negro came up holding his jaw and said, "Doc Richardson, I
need some help." My grandfather asked what was the matter. He says, "I got a
bad tooth." My grandfather went in and got his instruments, and he extracted
that tooth for that man. I guess that was rather common in those days that
M.D.s practiced some dentistry.
S: Tooth pulling.
B: Yes. Doctors were not on every corner as they are today.
S: But your grandfather went into citrus cultivation.
B: There was a citrus grove on the property when he bought it. About four or five
years after he bought it, the great freeze came in Florida, and it really damaged
his orange grove. But we always produced oranges. I remember he and my
grandmother would ship oranges by the barrel down to my brother and myself in
Ocala. They would give them to us. We would take those oranges and put them
in our little wagon and sell them for a penny a piece around Florida. That is the
way we made our pin money. They were delicious oranges.
I ought to talk about those oranges. I can also remember one time we got a
warning of a freeze. This must have been about 1913 or 1914, somewhere
along in there. My dad got my brother and myself and put us in the automobile,
which of course was an open touring car, and drove us up to Hillcrest to pick
oranges. We loaded all of the oranges that we could pick so the freeze did not
catch them, and we put them in that Ford. I do not think I was ever as cold in my
life, because there were no windows we had curtains.
S: Completely a touring car.
B: Yes. They had curtains, but they did not hold out much of the air. Golly, I was
glad when that trip was over. I do not know if the oranges were worth it. At least
we saved that many from getting frozen.
S: So you were living in Ocala, but you visited Hillcrest.
B: That is right.
S: How often?
B: Well, as soon as school was out, practically every year we would pack up bag
and baggage and go up the twenty miles to visit Grandma and Grandpa. It was
a very interesting place.
My grandfather gave me a little plot of ground up there, and I would go up in the
summertime to plant. He had an old horse called Don. I remember before this
garden incident I was riding Don bareback just as a little kid. I knew nothing
about controlling the horse. Don decided it was time for him to go into the barn,
so into the barn he went, and he raked me right off his back. But he was a lovely
horse, just as gentle as could be.
My grandfather hitched up the plow for me and let me plow up my garden's
bottom. Of course, you recognize this is some time after I got raked off Don's
back. I was big enough to hold a plow now. I used to plow that little bit that I did
bare footed. The sand would squeeze up between my toes nice and cool.
S: You can feel it now.
B: Yes, I sure can.
S: I was going to ask you how you spent your time during those summers.
Gardening is obviously one of them. What were some other things?
B: Well, I remember sitting in school around May, down in Ocala. I could not get
my mind on my studies. I was looking out the window at the beautiful, fresh
spring air thinking, "Well, pretty soon now I am going to be going up to Hillcrest.
I am going to enjoy that. I can hardly wait to get away from down here, the big
city of Ocala." At the time we moved away from there in 1919 Ocala had a
population of approximately eight thousand five thousand whites and three
thousand blacks. Ocala, of course, has really changed now.
S: It must have seventy to eighty thousand now.
B: There was a family that lived to the north of us named McRae into which my
S: Was that John McRae?
B: No, that was the old man, I think. They had several children. The girl's name
was Flora, I believe, and then there was Cecil, who married my sister, and John
and Francis, who I think in later years was called Frank.
S: That is right.
B: Well, Frank was my age, John was my brother's age, and Cecil was older than
both of them. We used to play with them quite a bit, all except Cecil. He was
oldest, and he did not play with us as much. Thinking about the McRaes, I think
about what happened so much in the South. Kids smoked two things: grape vine
and rabbit tobacco. I do not know whether you have ever seen any rabbit
tobacco or not, but it was quite interesting.
S: No. Tell me about it.
B: We would get cigarette papers and wrap this rabbit tobacco and smoke it. It
made a pretty good smoke because it had a little nicotine in it. But the grape
vine was an interesting thing. You would cut the grape vine between the joints
where the rather tightly knit center part was open enough so it would draw air.
S: There is fiber through there.
B: It was very tight, and it was very hard to draw the air through, as I recall. In our
Ocala yard we had a scuppernong vine, and my grandfather had some grapes,
too. I think one of them was scuppernong, but I believe he had some others.
Around the house, by the way, in addition to the orange trees that were all
around were a couple peach trees. One of those trees had a very interesting
fruit in it. It had fruit that was maybe two and a half to three inches in diameter
and was flat, not more than 3/4 or an inch to an inch thick. It was an unusual
peach. I forget the name of it, but it was a good-tasting peach. We had fig trees
and peach trees.
S: You had a sand pear tree, too, I think, because that is still there.
B: Yes, that is right. My grandfather bought some other acreage together with his
son, my Uncle Purdy. I remember helping to clear that forty acres. They were
going to farm it. It was a disaster. My grandfather was never able to make any
money off of anything of that kind, so he finally gave up on it and quit farming it.
S: What about your mother's tonsils?
B: My grandfather said he was going to take my mother's tonsils out, so she ran
and hid under the house so he could not do it. He finally found her and brought
her out. I think at that time they took them out without any anesthetic. To my
mother, that was a rather bad experience. She did not have any complications
S: So she hid under the house.
B: Yes, under the house. Grandpa had to go under and pull her out. I can
remember, too, my mother's sister. She was also married at Hillcrest. She
married a Price, Carlton Price.
S: That was Louise?
B: Yes. They had the place just south of ours. I say just south, but to tell you the
truth I do not remember where the Price house was. I think it might have been in
S: Not the one in McIntosh?
S: They call it Price Dixon.
B: No, I think not. I think they were much closer to Hillcrest. Of course, none of
those distances are great. McIntosh is but two miles from Hillcrest, but in those
days it seemed like a long way. In the second grade, for some reason my father
took all the family up to Hillcrest to stay for what was the equivalent of one
semester. We children went to school down in McIntosh. That was very
pleasant. We walked to and from school because there were not the dangers of
automobiles and things of that kind. We walked a good part of the way through
the woods and through the sand road down to McIntosh. We went to school in a
one-room school house. The grades, I think were from one to seven at least it
might have been one through eight. I remember how fascinated I was I was in
the second grade listening to the recitations and the lessons of all the other
children. You could hear them all.
S: Was that when Myrtis Sharkey and you were in the same class?
B: I guess it was, yes.
S: She remembers that, and she remembers you.
B: It was a beautiful experience walking to and from school. I think about kids being
bussed today to school and parents taking them. Of course, conditions are
different. We always carried our own lunch. Sometimes we made it, but most of
the time our mothers would make our lunch for us. This idea of children having
to have cafeterias and all in schools is rather silly.
S: What did she make you? A sandwich?
B: Yes, and always a piece of fruit. We were never undernourished. I hear all
these arguments of people that poor children are not fed real well and they have
to have the cafeterias to get proper food. Of course, this applies only in
instances where children are not fed properly at home. So they pawn them off
on the public to feed them. The transportation and the feeding and the buying of
the books was the obligation of the mother and father.
S: Not the school?
B: The obligation of the public was to provide a good school building and good
teachers. The rest of it was carried by the family, and I think we had a lot better
education than we have now. Another good thing I can see with all the schools
that I attended, and particularly this one, was they were close enough to the
family so that the mother and father knew what was going on; they did not lose
control of it. I have a feeling that my mother and father never felt like, "Gee, I am
so glad school started because I am getting rid of my children for a while." I
know there is a lot of that feeling that goes on today, that parents cannot wait for
school to start to get the children out from under foot.
S: That was for a semester.
B: Yes. The rest of that semester we were in Jacksonville. Of course, in the first
grade I was in Ocala. Then the second grade was split between McIntosh and
Ocala, and my third grade, fourth grade, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades
were in Ocala.
My mother had an uncle who was my grandmother Richardson's brother. He
lived out in St. Louis, and he invited me to come out and live with him for a
semester, so I started my high school work out in St. Louis. The first time I saw
snow was when I went out there. Again, it was a very pleasant experience. Up
to that time, a football to me was just something that you kicked. I knew nothing
about the rules of football. When I went out to Webster Groves, which is a
suburb of St. Louis, I went to school out there. They had a pretty good football
team, so my uncle let me go out and compete.
S: You still had your arm then?
B: Oh, yes. So I learned what football was. Consequently, when I went back to
Florida the second semester, the football season was over, but we played a little
bit. The next year, beginning my sophomore year, one professor (Professor
Sumner), a boy named Charlie Britton from Lake City that had played football
(Lake City had football), and I started Ocala High School's first football team.
The first game that we had was against a bunch of fellows the American
Legion. Many of them had been college men, so they had a bigger football team
to play us. So that was Ocala's introduction to football.
One bad thing I remember about that football was I had a boil. You do not see
boils on people like you did back in those years. My brother had boils, my sister
had boils, and I had them. I had one on my right arm, just below my elbow, in
that game with the legion. I got my arm stepped on, and it bruised that boil to
where it would not come to a head. Old Dr. Walters lanced it. He said, "I think
your skin is tougher than my lance." He almost broke his lance trying to get
through there because the skin does harden when you get a bruise like that on a
boil. He must have gotten at least a cup full of corruption out of that thing. That
is one of my recollections of football in Ocala.
S: Going back to Hillcrest, were there family gatherings from time to time when the
whole family got together?
B: Yes, there were. My aunt that I mentioned a while ago, Mrs. Price, would bring
her children up to Hillcrest. They lived down in Palm Beach and Miami. She
would bring her children up to Hillcrest, so I got to know them real well up there.
They would come up and stay for two or three weeks at a time. There was a
number of them: there was Dorothy, Carl, Lucy, Beth, and Bedford. There were
five of them, and there were three of us all the time. A fourth, my brother Gerald,
died I guess in the 1920s. He was born around 1910, and he died about 1924,
when he was fourteen years old. So we had that group. My Uncle Purdy, who
was my mother's brother, had only two children. One of them is still alive,
Christine Hickman, and she lives in South Carolina. The other little fellow was a
delightful young man. He was killed riding his bicycle in Miami. But we did get
those cousins up there. Then there were always some other cousins. I do not
remember connections necessarily. There were the Braces and Laniers that
I remember one terribly disappointing thing. Adults should be so careful what
they do with children. One of these cousins came; of course, he was a grown
man. I have no idea what his age was. He was probably in his twenties, but I
was just a little kid. I took to him right away and oh, he was such a nice fellow.
He said, "John, do you have a knife?" I said, "No, I do not have a knife." He
said, "Well, I am going to get you one." Well, I will tell you, the next day he went
down to Evinston to the store. I could not contain myself waiting for him to get
back to give me that knife. I had been waiting so anxiously all day, and then
nothing was said about it. So I finally asked him about it, and he said, "Oh, I
forgot that," just as nonchalantly as you can imagine. It did not bother him. He
said, "Next time I go I will get it." Well, this went on for about three times, and I
never did get the knife. Such a crestfallen, dejected child I was. You would not
think a knife would be so important to me, but little things are so important with
S: Where did they go for groceries? Did they go down to the store in Evinston?
B: Yes. My grandfather would hitch up old Don to the buggy. We had a carriage,
too. We had a barn where we kept the carriage and the buggy. I guess the
carriage was something sort of like a surrey. More people were using the surrey.
Many is the time I went down to the grocery. If we had anything bulky to carry
like barrels, we would take the wagon and bounce it down the sand road. If I
recall correctly, there was a smaller store in Boardman. Of course, there was
another store, but it was further away in McIntosh.
S: The nearest one was Evinston, the little post office/general store.
B: As I look back at those close distances, I cannot see that it made much
difference, because a jogger could go from Hillcrest to the store down in
McIntosh in no time and back. But for some reason, Evinston was the main
store where our groceries were purchased.
S: Is that where your grandfather got his mail?
B: The mail may have come to Boardman, because that was the closest whistle
stop on the railroad. Of course, that was about half the distance to Evinston.
We could see the train from up on our porch.
S: Was there passenger service?
B: Oh, yes.
S: It was passenger and freight?
B: Yes. I believe it was the ACL that ran along there; I am almost sure it was the
S: There was one called Tug and Jerk I have been told.
B: That is the Tampa and Jacksonville. That ran through Gainesville. I do not think
that ran through Ocala.
S: The spur went through Micanopy, I think. People have told me that.
B: That is probably true. That also had another nickname Tom and Jerry.
S: Did you ever ride it?
B: No, I never did. It seems to me we had a number of little railroads that served
those areas. I know down in Ocala where my dad had a garage we had to go
out to McCoy to get an automobile. We rode the train.
S: Oh, Fort McCoy?
B: Fort McCoy, that is right. I also remember a little old two-cylinder Maxwell that
my dad had repaired for a fellow that lived in Williston. How thrilled I was! I had
to deliver that automobile from Ocala to Williston and come back on the train. I
probably was not more than thirteen years old, because I started driving I guess
when I was eleven. Of course, I worked in the garage. But my dad was willing to
turn me loose in that little chug chug chug to drive it over there.
S: How long did it take you to drive to Williston?
B: To tell you the truth, I do not remember.
S: That is probably a good way.
B: I had been driving somewhere between twenty and twenty-five miles an hour.
Certainly not any faster than twenty-five. To me that was a man's job, and I was
able to do it. I came back from Williston on the train, and that is what made me
think about it.
S: Even Williston had a depot then.
B: Yes. That is why I say it seemed to me there were quite a few little trains around
then. My mother took us either from McIntosh or from somewhere, from Ocala
maybe, down to Webster on the train one time. I can remember traveling on that
train. She would watch out the window, and finally she called us. She said,
"Come on! Here it is." She showed us a place where the story has it that one
day one of those sink holes opened up along side the track, and that whole train
car was lost in that sink hole. I guess that must be true, because we have seen
what happened down in Winter Park and other places where sink holes did open
S: Did you do any fishing, in Orange Lake for example?
B: No. As a matter of fact, my dad did not engage in any sports that I know of, and
certainly did not do any with us down there. After we moved to Jacksonville, we
would go crabbing. We did very little fishing, though. I did not learn anything
about fishing from my father. What I learned about fishing I learned later.
But there was good fishing in Orange Lake. People caught bass and other
things of that kind in there. Thinking about that area and this is not
chronological at all when I was at the University of Florida, Greer Kirkpatrick
and I went duck hunting out on Payne's Prairie, which was quite a different thing
then from what it is now.
S: A lot of water.
B: Golly, it was cold. As a matter of fact, as I recall it was about twenty-eight or
twenty-nine [degrees]. As long as we were in the boat and dry, we were okay.
But I remember standing up in the boat to take a shot, which I should not have
done, at some ducks that were swimming in the water. I thought maybe if I shot I
might get one and maybe the others would fly up and I could get at another one.
The boat drifted broadside, and when I pulled the trigger, over I went into that
water. I was using Watt Kirkpatrick's gun because I did not have one, and down
it went in the drain. As cold as it was, I dove in about three or four times trying to
recover it, but I never could. So Greer and I paddled over to the land as fast as
we could, and we built a fire to warm me up. But I will tell you, I never was so
S: It is a wonder you survived.
B: I never was so cold. I did not know Florida could get so cold. I guess I do, too,
because I also remember about 1917 in Florida, in that winter, it got so cold that
the bird bath in the back yard froze solid. In the garage, many times we had
radiators and engine blocks that froze because they did not have the
sophisticated things, like antifreeze. A lot of people would put kerosene in, and
put alcohol in and other things of this sort to keep it from freezing.
S: In Hillcrest they had only the fireplaces for heat? Is that correct?
B: Yes. That is all.
S: Just the four fireplaces.
B: No, we had eight, and then of course there was the flue in the kitchen the
kitchen stove was there. But you see, in that grouping of those rooms two on
this side of the hall downstairs, two on this side, two up and two up those flues
ran right on up through. Well, there had to be four flues in each chimney
because there had to be one flue for each fireplace. So the informal sitting room
had one, the dining room had one, and the two bedrooms upstairs each had one.
Then the parlor and the adjunct parlor and the other two bedrooms had
fireplaces. It was a very livable house.
S: It would probably be very pleasant in summer.
B: Yes, it would, because of the high ceilings. But we had mosquitoes; we always
slept under mosquito netting. I had a wire frame that had a rope and pulleys up
to the ceiling that was threaded through there and so you could let that frame
down or pull it up depending on the height that you wanted it. It had an opening
of course in the netting cloth netting that so you could get in, and you would
get in there real quick and pull that together and fasten it so that mosquitoes
hopefully would not get in.
S: Did they have screens?
B: Oh, yes, there were screens in the house.
S: And even so you got mosquitoes.
B: That is right. We used to have another pest: gnats. When we sat on the piazza
on the porch, we had our little bottle of citronella, and we kept dotting our skins to
keep the gnats off.
I cannot say that my grandfather was a good farmer--he was not at all. He never
made any money out of the place. I think that when he finally decided to sell the
house and the grove part, I somehow associate the amount of $2,500 with it.
Whether that was just for part of it or not, I do not know. But at any rate, he sold
it for enough to buy a house in Ocala.
S: Oh, then he moved to Ocala. When was that?
B: That must have been about 1917. I would say it was about 1917. The years I
am talking about at Hillcrest were from 1903 up until that time.
S: You all were in Ocala then, or had you gone to Jacksonville?
B: We were in Ocala then. We did not move to Jacksonville until 1919.
S: So your grandfather and grandmother then moved down to be near you.
B: Yes. Because mother was watching out for them. Aunt Louise never did take
care of Grandma and Grandpa at all. Neither did Uncle Purdy. So anytime they
were not living independent of themselves, they were with us. As a matter of
fact, the last five years of my grandfather's life, he lived exclusively with us.
S: He lived to be 100?
B: No. He died in his ninety-ninth year. He was between ninety-eight and
ninety-nine. He still had a few months to go to make ninety-nine.
S: What finally happened to him? Did he have a heart attack, or did he just give
B: Just gave out. For at least five or six months he had rather heavy senile
dementia. He was rather difficult to take care of. But I will say this, my father
was always perfectly wonderful to the old man. So often the old proposition of
blood being thicker than water is true. Husbands sort of resent the wives' fathers
coming to live with them and vice versa, but I never saw any of that with my dad.
S: How about your grandmother?
B: She died in 1924. For a little space of time after they bought the house in Ocala,
they lived there as long as we lived there. Then when we moved away, my aunt
in West Palm Beach bought a house for them with my grandmother's money.
They moved down there and lived down there until my grandmother died. She
died down there and was buried in West Palm Beach. By this time my family
had gone to Raiford, and Grandpa came up to live with Mother and Daddy at
Raiford. He lived there until he died. I guess he died in 1929.
S: Who bought Hillcrest from your grandfather?
B: Well, the only person I associate with that is a dentist in Gainesville, whose
name I do not know. As a matter of fact, I sent an emissary in to try to buy it at
one time, and he wanted some outrageous price for it. I know he never sold it to
anybody. He wanted something like $80,000 for it. I would have liked to have
had it back to restore it to how I remember it. Then he sold it I think to Sam Huff.
S: 0. D. Huff?
B: 0. D. Huff, yes. I guess he is the one that tore it down.
S: He is the one that made the fish camp out of it.
B: Yes. It was criminal, because that was a good house. It was solid, it was
substantial, it sat in such a beautiful spot.
Incidentally, an interesting little thing about that place is my Aunt Louise married
Price, as I was telling you, and, of course, my mother married my father [at
Hillcrest]. Shortly after they were married or about the time they were married (I
think they were both married about the same time), Dad and Uncle Carlton each
planted an oak tree, one on the southeast corner of the piazza and one on the
northeast corner. They said at the time they planted them, "We will plant these
trees, and they will be an indication of which one of us is the strongest and which
one of us lives the longest." Well, it did not work out that way because my
father's tree was not the strongest, but it did live and do very well. My father
outlived my Uncle Carlton, whose tree really did do a little bit better than my
dad's. But those trees are still standing there. As a matter of fact, we have a
watercolor that Bets did. I think it is the one that is in the dining room.
S: I believe it is, yes.
B: The inspiration for that was those trees. The interesting thing about that is that
she did not like it, so she threw it away. I picked it up off of the trash pile and
had it framed. She now likes it.
S: Well, people's tastes change.
B: You say you cannot get the Richardson boys to talk about this?
B: That is a shame, because they were steadily there.
S: I may get Leroy; I am going to try Leroy.
B: They were steadily there. You know Micanopy was a long ways away from us -
my goodness, four miles away.
S: So your only contact with Micanopy was when you were a student.
B: Yes, at the University of Florida. We hardly ever went up to Micanopy from down
S: How did you get to know the Franklins?
B: I do not remember how I met Louise [Franklin], but I did meet her, and I used to
come down from Gainesville to court her.
At that time I had a little Ford that was, as we called them in those days, a
"cutdown." This thing was a rather remarkable thing. If you remember the old
Model T Ford, it had a transverse spring that ran across the front and one across
the back; there were only two springs. They were semi-electrical, but they were
transverse running across the car. In order to lower the center of gravity of the
body, we would have to put in offset standards for the spring clevises so that
they would go forward of the axle or back, depending on which way you wanted
it. Then we hung the clevises on them and put the spring bolts down through
them. This allowed the spring to sit level with or below the axle so it dropped the
level of the car. Normally, the spring was sitting up on top of the bracket, and the
bracket came up through the axle. You were dropping it probably six inches by
doing this. You did the same thing in the back. In order to do it in the back, you
had to change the differential, because now you were setting the rear axle back.
To do that, you had to put a filler in. Part of this kit was an adaptor to lengthen
the drive shaft so it would reach from the engine to the back.
Well, I had this thing fixed up this way, and it had no fenders on it. The body
was just the width of the frame, which was not much wider than that chair. So
two people sitting in that seat sat pretty snug. On the back of it was a tool box,
and the gas tank was back there. In the regular Model T Ford, the gas tank was
under the seat, but dropping it down this way you could not do that, so you had
to put the gas tank in the back.
I also doctored up the engine. I bored out the exhaust valve ports and put in the
larger tractor valves, and I ground the cam shaft down so it would have a much
quicker drop. I had taken the old Ford carburetor off and put on a Stromberg
carburetor, taken the old Ford ignition and put on high-tension ignition. The way
Henry Ford built those Fords, the ignition was supplied by a magneto, which was
part of the fly wheel. It was low tension. There were coils under the dash that
took the current from there and carried it to the spark plugs. You could take the
little old timer off the front of the cam shaft, and then you could buy a distributor
and put it on. It had its own coil and breaker points, much like the modern ones
today that are not electronic ignition. All together this gave this little old thing a
lot of power, and even though it did have that low center of gravity, I did turn it
over one time. But I just made too short a turn coming from the country club in
Jacksonville in going home one night. But on University Avenue in Gainesville I
could spin the wheel and hit the brake, and the thing would turn 180 degrees and
go back the other way without stopping.
I remember one night I was down courting Louise, and a fellow named Anderson
gave us a hard time. He was sort of a smarty guy. I remember he was a KA
[Kappa Alpha fraternity], but I do not hold that against him. The KAs called
themselves the "southern gentlemen," which is good. But the implication was
that the rest of us were not. So here I am down there on my date with Louise
Franklin, and he crashes my date, for which I was not too happy. He starts riding
me about my car: "I have heard you think your automobile is pretty good, that
you can spin it around right on the street." I said, "Yes, I can." He said, "I do not
believe it. Prove it to me." So I said, "Okay, I will, under one condition." He
says, "What is that?" I said, "That you and Louise both ride with me." Of course,
there was no place for him to ride except on that tool box on the back. Louise
was up beside me in the seat, and she was not too happy about it.
S: I was going to ask you how she felt about all this.
B: She was not too happy then, and after the rest of what I tell you happened, she
was even more unhappy. So I get out there on the highway, right in front of the
Franklin house. I had gotten it up to a pretty good speed I guess I was
probably doing forth-five or fifty miles an hour, which then was pretty good speed
and I flipped that wheel and hit those brakes with Anderson sitting on the tool
box on the back. When that rear end came around, and he just took a dive, just
floated over the car and landed over in the ditch. The street was not the street it
is today. Well, Louise started berating me, so I stopped the car and went over
and helped pick him up and dust him off. He said good night and went on back
to Gainesville. So I accomplished what I wanted. The Franklins are very nice
people. I will not say that she and I were ever serious, but she was good
company. She made a good date. I have lost track of them.
S: I see Ben occasionally. I think George is the older one. Of course, they do not
live in Micanopy any more.
B: They do not?
B: Where did they go?
S: They live in Gainesville. Of course, they still have the crate mill, and they still
B: That is right. At your house I have heard the whistle.
S: Right, every morning at 7:00 and every evening at 5:00. That, I assume, was
there when you were. It has been there forever.
B: Oh, yes, it was. All I was associated him with was the lumber business of some
form. Of course, that means the crate mill. He probably did have lumber, also.
But it was wood anyhow.
Micanopy back in those days did raise a lot of citrus. Going back to the Prices
again, I can remember that they had a packing house, and they did a lot of
citrus. I think that the change in the weather made the risk of frozen crops too
S: It was unpredictable.
B: Yes. The citrus business moved on further south, as it was more predictable
south of that area. Citrus sort of died down up that way. It did not die out, it just
decreased a great deal.
S: Well, the house, you remember, in Micanopy that we had had citrus on it, and it
was citrus that had been planted probably fifty years ago.
B: I guess Huff raises quite a bit of the citrus.
S: And R. D. Hester has been involved in it, also. They are the main ones.
B: Her sister and her husband who lived in McIntosh, McRae, had a nice little grove.
I remember he used to raise the most beautiful navel oranges. I remember
when I was in Syracuse I had him ship for me probably twenty or thirty bushels
as gifts to different people in the manufacturing business that I knew from
American Management Association. So they did still have some citrus. I guess
you have it up there now.
S: Yes, we do. I think we are about done.