Interviewee: Gail Randolph
Interviewer: Juan Mena
Date: April 19, 1993
M: This is an oral interview with Gail Randolph at St. Francis House. The address
here is 15 SE Fourth Avenue [Gainesville, Florida]. Thanks a lot, Gail, for
helping me out. Is it okay if I call you Gail?
M: Ok. When were you born?
R: March 7, 1954
M: Where did you grow up? Where were you born?
R: Starke, Florida
M: Oh. So you are [from] nearby. Did you grow up in Starke?
M: Where did you go to high school?
R: Bradford High School in Starke.
M: Did you graduate?
R: Yes. I graduated on June 5, 1972.
M: All right. Where did you start working?
R: I started working while I was in high school as a library aide, but it was a work
study program, and I worked three hours a day in the library for one year,
because I had classes.
M: Then what did you do after that?
R: In 1973, I moved to Daytona Beach [Florida].
M: I went to school in Stetson. That is like in Deland. I went there for a couple of
years, but I spent all of my time in Daytona. It was a wonderful little city, just
right by the beach and everything. Did you like Daytona a lot?
R: Yes, I did. I liked Daytona. My father lives there.
M: Oh, really? How long were you in Daytona?
R: About ten years.
M: So, the early 1980s?
M: And then did you come to Gainesville?
R: Yes, I came to Gainesville.
M: What brought you to Gainesville?
R: My sister and her family live here.
M: You came to be near your sister.
R: Yes, but she has turned me away so that I cannot see her or anything. I go to
her door and I knock on her door she will say, "Get away from our door."
M: Why did she do that?
R: I do not know why she turned against me now. I was not expecting nothing like
this when I came from Seattle [Washington]. By now I thought that I would be in
school, [and taking] some kind of classes right now. That was my dream before,
while I was on the bus coming from Seattle.
M: You were in Seattle for a while?
R: Yes. For about six years.
M: So, you went from Daytona to Seattle?
R: Yes. I got married in Seattle and [it was a] very unsuccessful thing.
M: So few are these days. It is so rough to find the right person.
R: Yes, that is not easy. You cannot just go out there and say, "Well, I got
M: When you came to Gainesville, did you work anywhere?
R: I did not work anywhere because I am struggling with emotional problems, and I
am very disturbed inside, and I cannot [work]. I want to just be able to mend or
heal a little, where I can just get myself together. I have been having such a
hard time going to sleep at night and that has really [had an] effect on me, and I
have just been going down, down, down. My neighbors see me like that and it
disturbs them in a way, it distracts them. But, I try not to distract anybody.
M: No, I understand.
R: I am too over careful or something.
R: I do not want to be like that. I think what I am doing is actually just feeling sorry
for myself. I think somebody else should help, you know. Kind of like give me a
boost, help me not to feel down like this.
M: That is true.
R: Because it does not look like I am going to have happiness in my life.
M: How long have you felt this way?
R: Well, I have been feeling like this for the last week or so. You know, have you
ever met somebody that you would just love? They was all alone before you met
them, they did not have a boyfriend, they did not have a girlfriend, or whatever,
and now it seems like you meet somebody and they are telling you, "Don't put
your confidence in me because I am nothing to you." And I am only human, so
that is something I have to deal with [and] I am having to struggle with thinking
about someone that I like, and that I know. I would have made it with him. So,
something inside says, "Well, you ain't gonna get over him." It is hard. I could
feel this hurt all over my body, and that is not good.
M: He is from around here?
R: Yes, he just does not want me to call his name or even mention him, so that is
something I would not do no way. That is not in me and I do not do that
anyways. I have been alive now thirty-nine years and I have never gone around
scandalizing people's name because I could not get their attention. I have had to
wear this feeling away from me, and I am having to deal with the hurt. I know
when you find somebody else, when you meet somebody else, it will make a
difference because that person that you are walking with, whoever you find, is
sort of taking the place of the empty, the void that is in my heart.
M: How long have you been homeless?
R: It is a terrible thing to be in love with somebody that does not want you. I mean, I
am thirty-nine years old and I will be forty next year and I have not really enjoyed
my life at all. All I have ever done is just talk about how I feel, and I have a real
bad sleeping problem.
M: And how things need to get better, yes. How long have you been homeless?
R: For two weeks. I've always had my own apartment, and just now the enemy, not
the enemy, but. I do not wanna be put out on the street.
M: It has just kind of gotten tougher recently?
R: It has gotten tougher.
M: Have you been working?
R: I have not been able to work yet, because of the lack of sleep. You know, I have
gone two months without any sleep, [only] about thirty minutes at night. I just lay
in the bed.
M: Up to two weeks ago, though, where were you? You had an apartment?
R: Yes, I had an apartment over at College Manor, and I was afraid to stay. So, I
was going around bothering my neighbors.
R: I wanted to just talk with them and stuff.
M: So, what have you been doing the past two weeks?
R: I was in the hospital.
M: Why? For your sleeping problem?
M: Did you just get out?
R: Yes, I got out about four days ago.
M: And you do not have your apartment anymore?
R: No, I gave it up because I was not sleeping there at night. I could sleep, but it
was just like I was having such bad nightmares.
M: What did the doctors tell you?
R: I mean I was scared to stay in my own apartment.
M: It must be terrible. What did the doctors tell you?
R: They just gave me some medicine to take. I just keep thinking that I have not
met the right doctor that could really just see how I am and knows how I feel, and
if the right medicine would work for me that would just let me sleep about ten
hours or more. And I would just like him to take this hurt away from me. I just do
not want nobody to be taking advantage of my feelings. I never really had a
boyfriend. When I got married, I asked my husband to marry me. He did not ask
me, I asked him to marry me.
M: Hey, these are modern times.
R: Then, he thought about it. He said, "No way. Not until you get well." He said,
"When you get well then we'll think about it." I said, "If you marry me, then this
thing that is bothering my life real bad and trying to destroy me, you'll be like
protecting me. And it would just save me from just going around in the streets
looking for somebody to be with."
M: I know, I understand what you are saying. It did not work out with your husband?
R: Anyways, it did not. We was always arguing, he was always arguing that he
wanted to just be free from me. So, he has his heart's desire, because I am
here. He is somewhere in Washington I guess, or gone back to the Virgin
Islands. It is something that is bothering me.
M: So, it did not work out, you came down to Gainesville to be with your sister?
R: Yes, for the holidays. See, I did not even know I would be in Gainesville right
M: You just kind of decided?
R: See, what it is, I planned to live here, but she was completely out of it, us being
friends and stuff.
M: You could not live with your sister?
R: I said, "Well, that's the way it is." And I did not have any idea she was gonna
turn against me like this.
M: So, you have just been without an apartment for about a couple of weeks now.
Is this your first time you have been without a place to stay?
R: Yes, it is.
M: What are your plans? How long have you been here at St. Francis House?
R: Well, I have been here about six days now.
M: How long are you going to stay? Is there a limit?
R: I will probably be here three more weeks, and then I think they are gonna help
me get moved over to Majestic Oaks.
M: Is there some apartment complex? What are you planning to do? Are you going
to try to get a job?
R: Well, that is what I had thought, you know, as soon as I am well enough. I like to
think about when I was at this [one] job and how happy I was.
M: Which job was that?
R: Working at the Vogue store. Sometimes you see magazines that say The
Vogue, all those clothes the ladies fashions.
M: They really have a store [called] "The Vogue?"
R: Yes. There was one in Daytona Beach for years and I got hired there. I was
learned to do everything that they were doing. They liked me on the job, I did my
work well. I was just glad that I had the job, but then I lost it. I went back to
Seattle. [I] thought I had to see my husband and stuff.
M: But, you liked working with women's clothing and everything?
M: It must have been a nice atmosphere and everything.
R: It was. I just enjoyed that job so much, and putting women's clothes where they
should be on the rack and stuff, making boxes, putting prices on clothes, it was
good. I was so comfortable and relaxed on that job, I could not have been
better, I tell you.
M: How long were you with them? How long did you work there?
R: Just for a short while.
M: It must have been nice. It is sad when you lose a good job that you are happy
with. Because there are so few of those out there.
R: That is right. And I was happy on my job. Well, [I was happy on] most any job I
had. Last year I was at work in Starke, in a manufacturing company where they
make clothes. And I miss that job. I was so happy just sitting at the machine.
M: It sounds like you miss [having a] job, you miss working.
R: Yes, because it gives me something to think about. I do not have to feel down
M: It keeps you preoccupied.
R: I like to keep my mind on my work so that I will not go berserk. I wish that I had
another opportunity to work there, but I do not have a car right now.
M: Yes, that makes it difficult to get around.
R: Because if I did, and I was sleeping, I would be on my job at seven [o'clock] and I
would just be there working and nothing could distract my attention.
M: Have you ever been tempted to go back to Daytona? You said your dad lives
R: Yes, my father lives there.
M: Have you ever thought about going back?
R: Well, he has just got two bedrooms. His girl, his fiancee, lives there. She likes
me, but, I am going back to see him as soon as I can.
M: That is good.
R: Everytime I see him he always asks me for a dollar [laughter]. That is too much
to talk about.
M: No, that is okay.
R: I said, "I do not have a dollar."
M: So, what do you think of St. Francis House?
R: Oh, it is nice. It is a nice facility to help people. It is very nice and warm. It is a
good environment in here. It is a nice place to be.
M: What do you do while you are here? When you wake up in the morning, do you
R: Well, when I get up in the morning, I get breakfast and then I have been going to
the library, you know, downtownn. I have been going there for the last five days
and I stay there until lunch time and I walk here to get some lunch, and then I will
go back to the library until they are closing.
M: Are you getting a lot of reading done?
R: Some. I am just trying to just force myself to get my brain cranked up. You see,
right now I am very nervous because [of] the lack of sleep. And I said I know
there is no way that I would die like this, but with not having any sleep, you know
that is miserable. If you cannot sleep before you die?
M: I know what you are saying. If you go awhile without sleep you get real on edge.
So, your plans are to get into that apartment complex and do what? Find a job?
M: Are they going to help you find a job or are you going to look for yourself?
R: I am gonna look for myself. I will probably just get a job in housekeeping. That
is not really what I want to do. I wanna just get a job bagging groceries, you
know, at Albertson's. I would like to do that, just bagging groceries.
R: I would do that if I could just get myself together to learn how to do that. It would
sure help me, because that would make me not feel afraid of people. I am not
afraid of people, but sometimes I draw up inside and I just want to just hide or
M: No, I am sure. You are kind of shy.
R: It is nothing but feelings, it is only natural I guess. I feel like this because, being
single, and being alone, that is not a good feeling. So, I thought a job like
working at Albertson's would just take care of the loneliness that is in me. I will
be around a lot of people and that way this void that I have now, I will not feel like
M: Look into the future: six months from now, where would you want to be?
Where, how, what?
R: Six months from now, I would like to be at Santa Fe in class.
M: Community College?
M: What would you like to take? What would you like to major in? You do not know
R: Yes, I know.
R: Business administration, where I left off. I would like to just take accounting until
I get done. I have always wanted to learn accounting in school and I just had
such a problem and I always got a "D" in it. I always wanted to learn Accounting
1, and Accounting 2.
M: That is great. And you will be working, hopefully.
R: Yes. I am talking you to death.
M: No, no, that is cool. That is cool.
R: I am saying I wish it could come true. I know it sounds impossible.
M: Where did you take classes before?
R: I have been in school before, you know, and I have just been out for a while. So,
when I was in Seattle, I was taking college courses up there.
M: You have already taken some courses?
R: Yes, at Hialeah Community College.
M: You are probably pretty far along.
R: Well, not really. It is just something to help me brush up with typing. I went to
typing class everyday and I went to IBM computer programming. I was learning
how to do WordPerfect.
M: Oh, wow. How did that go? Did it go okay?
M: That is good.
R: It was all right. I enjoyed just being in a class.
M: Well, Gail, thank you very much for your help.
R: It was a struggle, but I made myself just go to school up there. I do not want my
mind to be torn down.
M: Oh, yes. It is tough.
R: It was one of those good things that I could look forward to, having a career.
M: Well, good luck, and thanks a lot.
R: Okay, you're welcome.