Citation
Interview with Paige Pinnell

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Paige Pinnell
Creator:
Pepper, Bill ( Interviewer )
Marston, Ruth C. ( Transcriber )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
Matheson Historical Museum
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Record Information

Source Institution:
Matheson History Museum
Holding Location:
Matheson History Museum
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text













MATHESON HISTORICAL CENTER


ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM


INTERVIEWEE: INTERVIEWER: TRANSCRIBER:


Paige Pinnell Bill Pepper Ruth C. Marston


November 1, 1995









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 2
November 1, 1995



Pepper: This is an interview with Paige Pinnell, former Postmaster of Gainesville, conducted
by W. Pepper (Bill Pepper III) on November 1, 1995, at The Village in N.W. 83rd Street, in Gainesville, where Paige lives with his wife. Paige, when did you become
Postmaster at Gainesville?

Pinnell: April of 1960.

Pepper That is thirty-five years ago.

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: Tell me about your tenure. How long were you the Postmaster, and when did you
retire?

Pinnell: I retired July 24, 1970, so I was in the office for practically ten years, and I
have enjoyed twenty-five years of retirement.

Pepper: Very good. We'll be concentrating primarily on things that you know about, due to
your background in Gainesville, that affected Alachua County and Gainesville in any way. We're looking for things that have to do with the history of Gainesville, so if you have knowledge of certain things that happened -- but first, tell me when you came to Gainesville, where you were born, and when you went to work for the post
office, things like that.

Pinnell: Okay. Well, I was born on February 19, 1905, and reared in Eastman, Dodge
County, Georgia, and resided there until I came to Gainesville in 1932. September 1, 1932 I arrived in Gainesville. For three years I had a seed, feed and fertilizer business in a partnership which I didn't enjoy fully toward the last, so I took the Civil Service Examination and made a good enough grade to be called to work at the post office. I made my partner a proposition that I would sell him my half or buy his half, and he took me up on buying my half and then I went with the post office in 1936 -April 1.

Pepper: Tell me the significant dates and progress that you made in the Postal Service.

Pinnell: Well, that's a little difficult to remember the exact dates on this but anyway I
started out as a clerk/carrier. That meant that I performed duties in both those areas at whatever time the work was available. I progressed then until I became a full clerk, then a Money Order Clerk and later on, the position of Superintendent of the University Station opened and I was accepted at the University Station, which at that
time was on the campus.









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 3
November 1, 1995




Pepper: About what year was that?

Pinnell: It was probably '54 - '55, and then I became Postmaster in '60, so I was at the
Station for about five years.

Pepper: Did you serve in the Army or Navy Air Force?

Pinnell: I was in the Navy for three years.

Pepper: I see. What did you do in the Navy?

Pinnell: I was in postal work all the time. I went into the Navy on December 15,
1942, one year after Pearl Harbor. I was first in service in Norfolk, Virginia, for just a short time and then in the early spring of 1943, they opened an amphibious training base at Fort Pierce, Florida, and I made application to move there, to which I was
assigned.

Pepper: Is that Little Creek?

Pinnell: Little Creek, Virginia. No, I was not in Little Creek. Fort Pierce was an
amphibious training base. It proved to be a big, big institution, but in 1944 I was commissioned and sent to Panama Canal Zone to relieve an officer that had been in service there for a long time, so for two years I served in the Panama Canal Zone,
mostly in charge of two of the stations there, one at Balboa and one at Cristobal. Pepper: My uncle, Bill Tucker, was the Commanding Officer at Rodman down there -Rodman Naval Base -- in the Canal Zone as an Admiral. But it was probably after
you were there.

Pinnell: I was there from 1942, or 1943 to 1945.

Pepper: Yes, I don't think he had arrived there yet. Okay, then you got out of the Navy and
came back to the Gainesville Post Office? Pinell: Yes.

Pepper: When was that?

Pinnell: That was in early '46. I came back to the Post Office here in Gainesville as
Superintendent of Mail and served in that capacity until I went to the University









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 4
November 1, 1995



Station, as I mentioned before, as Superintendent of the station. Then in 1960 I was
commissioned Postmaster and came back to the main office.

Pepper: Oh, you succeeded Jess Davis?

Pinnell: Yes. Jess was Postmaster for twenty-one years and I imagine that that will
stand a long time.

Pepper: What do you remember about Jess that would be of interest to people?

Pinnell: Well, Jess was a very interesting personality. He was interested in a lot of
things, interested in a lot of people. Consequently, he prepared a little history of Alachua County and another one of Gainesville, two volumes, but as he told me many times he was Postmaster at a time when Gainesville was just remaining the same, year after year, and he had time to get out and interview people all over the county and get all the information he needed to compile his little histories. Jess was quite an organizer. He organized the first ball teams - sponsored by the American Legion posts. Anyway, he organized and coached the ball clubs for many years.
Jess was a member of the board that looked after the Draft Board, the registration to
go in service, a long time.

Pepper: The Draft Board?

Pinnell: Yes, thank you.

Pepper: You mentioned that Jess talked about years in which Gainesville didn't change much.
Do you remember those years?

Pinnell: Yes, I remember the years all right. During his twenty years of being
Postmaster, 1940, I guess, to 1960, the city did not change much. There was not much turnover. There were not many changes in the Post Office; we did not have many extensions we had to give out and all of the growth really started just after the
war. It began to really grow.

Pepper: How big was Gainesville at the time we're talking about, when it was pretty stable,
approximately?

Pinnell: I would say between 8,000 to 10,000 over a twenty-year period.


I remember as a kid when Gainesville hit 10,000 in the census and it was a big thing.


Pepper:









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 5
November 1, 1995




Pinnell: What year was it?

Pepper: I don't remember the year. But I remember as a kid when that happened, and we
thought, "Man, we've got 10,000 people." We'd never been 10,000 before.

Pinnell: We were about 10,000 in 1932, when I came to Gainesville. There were
more, of course, when I started working in the Post Office in 1936.

Pepper: What do you remember about the Gainesville then as a stable, that is a static thing,
rather than a changing thing. What about the people in the community and the
attitudes in the community, if anything?

Pinnell: Well, it was a very stable community and most everyone knew everybody
else in town, and one of the things I remember was on Saturday nights a lot of people would go uptown and park their cars and just watch the people going and coming,
shopping and chatting, and things of that sort.

Pepper: Was that around the Square?

Pinnell: Yes, around the Square most all of this happened. During those years there
were two movies in town. One was the Lyric, which was down on what would be now S.E. 1st St. and the other was the Florida, which was a very new movie at that time on West University Avenue. They had different advertising things that they called "Dish Night". They would give away dishes, give away different things like that. They didn't have to attend the movie to get a dish or anything, but they were lucky otherwise, but those advertising campaigns drew a lot of people. But I
remember, also, the baseball games, especially the leagues, and the .

Pepper: Was that the Florida State League?

Pinnell: I was thinking about the World Series, when people would come down to the
Main Post Office and sit on the grass while somebody from the Sun came to the window upstairs to announce the score. Well, we did have a good Florida State League, and Gainesville had a good team in those years. Some players advanced to
the Majors.

Pepper: Back to announcing the athletic events. We didn't have a lot of interest in radio at
that time, so I guess that was a factor. So that was about up to what year where
people gathered and heard the thing coming from the Sun office?









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 6
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: I would guess until about 1934 when they did the announcement from the
window.

Pepper: How would that take place? What would happen?

Pinnell: Well, people would come and sit on the lawn on the east side of the Post
Office, which faced the Gainesville Sun building, and they would just sit and converse and chat, until the end of an inning when someone would come to the
window upstairs and call out the score. Pepper: Did they call it out with a megaphone?

Pinnell: I don't think so. I don't remember that, because it was just across a very
narrow street.

Pepper: Yes.

Pinnell: The drug store would put up the scores, make a box score, and write on the
mirror right behind the soda fountain when the scores would come in. Some people
would just stay at the drug store and sip on their coke or ice cream. Pepper: Were there other sports events that were done that way?

Pinnell: No, just the baseball. No, I don't think they ever did anything else.

Pepper: That was the World Series?

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: You said the Florida State Theater was quite an attraction in those days, wasn't it?

Pinnell: Yes, it was a unique theater and it was very nice, too. I think the manager
was a man named Lee.

Pepper: I remember him. Claude Lee.

Pinnell: He was quite a one to carry on different advertising tricks to get people.

Pepper: He went on to greater things with movies, but he always kept his roots and contacts
back here. I remember that. And wasn't it Ed Roberts that replaced him?









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 7
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: Yes, Ed Roberts was his assistant at the time who later became full manager
of the theaters.

Pepper: Of the Florida and the Lyric?

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: Oh he did?

Pinnell: Yes. Ed and I went into service the same day.

Pepper: Oh, did you know Ed? Ed was a nice fellow.

Pinnell: Yes. He lives at The Village.

Pepper: Ed does? Oh, my goodness, we ought to interview him. Is he in good spirits and
health and his faculties good?

Pinnell: Ed has had some health troubles, but he gets about well. He loves to talk and
chat. A happy sort of fellow in spite of his slowness in getting around.

Pepper: Tell us about some of the developments that came about as Gainesville began to
grow that you witnessed.

Pinnell: Well, about the first thing I remember uptown is the Seagle Building, which
had been started long before I came to Gainesville but was just a frame, a tall frame, because of some difficulties with the contractors or otherwise, I don't know, that stopped the progress of the building, but anyway, it remained just a concrete frame for a long time and later it seems the University got into the picture with the owners and they made it into a museum. The museum had been on the campus for a long time and they changed it, finished the building and had the museum on the first and second floors. The rest of it was offices from various activities at the University.
That was about the first thing that came along.

Then, of course, the town began to grow and developers began subdivisions and so on. One of the main things that I recall that happened after the war was the extension of West University Avenue. At one time it ended at about what is now N.W. 21st.
St. and curved around to what is now S.W. 2nd Avenue. It was called Newberry Road from that point on. There were at least two subdivisions west of 21st St. One was called Hibiscus Park; one was called Palm Terrace; and there might have been a









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 8
November 1, 1995



third. Just one street subdivisions. This road curved to miss those subdivisions and
later a larger subdivision was created on the south side of this street, called .

Pepper: Golfview.

Pinnell: Yes, Golfview, thank you. So those were the main subdivisions. Well, they
wanted to straighten out or continue West University Avenue and they went right through the two subdivisions that were on the north side. A long time it took to get all the negotiations finished that they could do that. It still is not a straight street; it curves about two or three times to avoid certain main homes and property that were
there at the time.

Pepper: Who were some of the people active in that development or those subdivisions at that
time? Do you remember any of them?

Pinnell: Well, the names sort of halt there. I remember one person who was very
active in trying to keep them from coming. A man named DeBusk -- E.F. DeBusk.
He was very active in trying . He had a home in there, of course.

Pepper: What was he trying to prevent?

Pinnell: The extension of University Avenue. He didn't want it to come through those
subdivisions. It seems that one person named Flowers -- I think he was one of the instigators. Maybe he was a member of the State Road Board at the time. He had considerable influence, and he was the main one in Gainesville that was pushing for
the opening of University Avenue on westward.

Pepper: Was DeBusk a University professor?

Pinnell: Yes. He was in the Agriculture College at the University.

Pepper: So you remember quite a campaign and a resistance and finally it was achieved.

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: What about the quadrant system?

Pinnell: Well, I remember well the quadrant system. I was at the Post Office at the
time.


Pepper: Were you the Postmaster?









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 9
November 1, 1995




Pinnell: No, I was the Superintendent of Mail. It was before my time as Postmaster. I
was Superintendent of Mail and worked real closely with the engineer for the city, whose responsibility it was to name and number all of the streets in town and numbering all the houses. Everything changed because uptown where it all began at University Avenue and Main Street the numbers began with "0" instead of "1". In other words, the first block with unit "0" and as it went on out into the other areas, every block lost one block number, and this was real hard to overcome for a lot of people. I remember quite well when all of the streets and avenues, avenues running east and west and streets north and south, and all of the numbers of homes on the west side of the north and south streets became the even numbers and all of the numbers on the south side of University Avenue became odd numbers, on the north side even numbers and so on. All this made it very simple. All the compli-cations that came in and still exist were short streets in between Avenues and Streets. The ones that ran north and south were called Terraces and the ones that ran east and west at that time were called Lanes. Well, today they are still numbered this way, and now there are so many subdivisions that have come in over the city they've had to
add to those, Courts.

Pepper: They have Courts and Places and Circles and Lanes. What provoked the quadrant
system into coming into being?

Pinnell: Well, I was a member at that time ofthe Junior Chamber of Commerce? We
had a leader at that time with some experience in cities that had the quadrant system
of naming the streets, etc. His name happened to be Bill Pepper!

Pepper: Yes.

Pinnell: He was the main one, as I recall, in being instrumental in finally getting it all
to come about. This happened July 1, 1950. All the old Oranges and streets of that
sort, trees, and so on, went out and we came in with the numerical.

Pepper: That's W.M. Pepper, Jr., my father. I'm the III, so he's the one you were talking
about. That was in 1950.

Pinnell: He was the main one that I recall, the main reason it ever came about.

Pepper: He was the editor of the paper and was pushing it editorially, etc. I believe that is
true.









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 10
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: He was President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and pushed it in that
organization, too.

Pepper: How long did that activity go on? That campaign. Was it a long campaign?

Pinnell: From the first of it to the finality of it was I suspect three years.

Pepper: What else can you remember about the Post Office itself and its development in
Gainesville that would be of interest?

Pinnell: Well, the Post Office in which I went to work was on S.E. 1st Street. It was
started in 1909 and completed in 1911. It had a full basement and was a very, very and is -- a substantial building. I think that if I had to go for the most safe building in Gainesville for any reason, I think that the old Post Office -- they call it now the Hippodrome Theatre. That building was one of the most impressive buildings because it's all Grecian style with the columns out front, and so on. In 1936 it was quite adequate for our needs, but later on after the war it was entirely too small. We kept altering the floor and put the carrier cases in the basement, dropped the mail down through the shute to the carriers and they would sort it and then they had to bring it out but we did not have an elevator that went into the basement. They had to bring it out one bundle at a time on their shoulders. It was very, very awkward and an inconvenient way of doing business, but that was all we had. Well, later we had what had been a laundry to work our parcel post. It was completely separated from
the other mail.

Pepper: Was it across the street?

Pinnell: No, it was on the south side of what is now S.W. 2nd Ave. and had been a
part of what was formerly the Ideal Laundry. Ideal had built a different building and had this space that we could use for simply the work of parcel post. That was all that was worked there. The incoming parcel post; none of the outgoing was there. But anyway, that was the first expansion that we got into. Well, a little bit later the University wanted their space that had been formerly the University Station Post Office on the campus and the Post Office had to seek other space. So we went into negotiations with the Department with a man named Smysor, who owned a vacant
lot.

Pepper: Smysor?

Pinnell: Yes, Paul Smysor. He built the building and then leased it to the government
as a postal facility, and it's still there, still in operation.









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 11
November 1, 1995




Pepper: Where is it?

Pinnell: It's N.W. 1st Ave. in the 1600 block.

Pepper: Well, that's the one now that's right out by the University.

Pinnell: Yes, just off of University.

Pepper: Were you in on any other postal building?

Pinnell: Yes. Of course, it had been started before I became Postmaster -- the basic
work on getting a new federal building on S.E. 1st Ave. We entered that building October 15, 1964 -- in '64 -- and that was one of the greatest things that we had ever known while I was Postmaster, so far as facilities were concerned. We thought we had one for many years to come. That has not been proved true because we have the new tremendous facility on S.W. 34th Street now, but that came about for different reasons other than Gainesville, because when zip codes came in, Gainesville was developing the main office in zip code 326 and 326 denoted an area embracing twenty-four other post offices and all the mail for those offices would come and go, be received and dispatched through the Gainesville office, and of course, our facility on S.E. 1st Ave., which we thought would be good for a long time became inadequate and they had to build a new building, which has been in operation
probably six years now.

Pepper: Has the zip code been an enhancement generally for the Postal Service?

Pinnell: Yes, very much so. Before zip codes, dispatching clerks, of which I was one
for many years, had to memorize the service of all of the post offices in Florida and we had a considerably larger number than we have today. For instance, just say,
Gulf Hammock.

Pepper: Sopchoppy?

Pinnell: Well, I don't know. Sopchoppy was probably served out of Tallahassee, but
until then the mail had to come to Gainesville first and then was distributed out there and this was true of a lot of minor post offices in the state. They were served through a bigger office. So, the clerks all had to learn the service of the offices, of every one in the state and memorize them. They had to take a final examination on them. Had little practice cases with every office named and on the back side it would show how it was served. So we had to take those exams twice a year and had to pass with a 99









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 12
November 1, 1995



-- not much room for error. Well, when the zip codes came in, every town was known by the first three numerals and if the clerk could read this, he could dispatch the mail without any knowledge of where it was going to go. So, zip code, so far as I'm concerned, through my career was the greatest thing that's ever happened to the
Post Office.

Pepper: Is there anything else that you can remember about the Post Office generally, that
would be of interest to the community?

Pinnell: Well, Bill, I don't know of anything to describe very well that would be of
real interest except that when I went in 1936 we had nine city routes, which were walking routes. The postmen walked and they had two deliveries a day. So, every postman had different routes. They were not all exactly the same length, but I suppose that not any one was less than six miles walking. And the one uptown was served by a postman for many, many years named Childs. It was a shorter route but it was compact and had a lot of mail. Well, later, much later we began to be mechanized a little -- had some little Cushman scooters, open deals that the carrier drove along, three-wheeled vehicles, and we were glad when that era came along.
There was a lot of interest, but it soon worked out the Cushman scooter was not adequate for the daily grind that they had to be put through so the larger vehicles began to develop. Right-hand drive. They all were right-hand drives. The driver could drive up and service the boxes right from the vehicle. All of them are one trip
service a day. I don't remember the date that two services a day went out.

Pepper: Are you saying that some of these routes were six miles and a man would do them
twice; in other words, he would walk twelve miles a day?

Pinnell: It didn't necessarily mean that because the afternoon route, the afternoon trip,
was very light. Most of the time it was very light and might include mail which had to be left at the office in the morning, the second and third-class mail, and there was a southbound train supposed to arrive in Gainesville about 11:30 and if it was on
time, which was very rare --Pepper: Are you talking about ACL?

Pinnell: Yes. We could receive some of the mail from the southbound train, but not
often. So, the afternoon trips were light and all of the postmen could route their mail in such a way that they could reach the points of delivery much faster than they did in the morning. They did not have to cover the whole thing. Each one learned the
tricks of where they could save time, and so on.









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 13
November 1, 1995



Pepper: Was that the time when ACL was coming right down Main Street?

Pinnell: Yes. I don't remember dates on that very well, but it was about 1950, the
same time that our quadrant system came in, that the railroad came right down Main Street, north and south. The station was -- I guess it's the First Union Bank, the names have changed a lot. At that time it was First National, but the station was
right in that lot and the train stopped there, right in the middle of the street.

Pepper: Yes, I can remember that myself. Are there any other things that you remember
about the community or the University of Florida that would be of interest in this
interview, to people in the future?

Pinnell: Well, of course, the President of the University -- for a long time -- was Dr.
Tigert.

Pepper: John J. Tigert.

Pinnell: John J. Tigert. He was President a long time. I don't remember when his
term ended but it was after I started working at the Post Office because I remember I substituted for all of the carriers in the summertime when they took their vacations. I was learning the route with the regular carrier and we got to Dr. Tigert's home. This was, of course, always in the summertime when they took their vacations. The carrier told me as we went up to put the mail in the box which was in a little breezeway between the garage and the home, he said, "Now, on this little shelf you will find a glass of cold water." He says, "You drink it." Mrs. Tigert put that water out there every day. She worked a lot, so I followed his orders and drank the water and welcomed it every time. It was there every time. A lot of the time she would be out -- she liked to work in the garden -- and was outside a lot, and I became well acquainted with Mrs. Tigert just in a minute or two conversations with her the time
that I was serving on the route.

Pepper: That was on The Boulevard, wasn't it?

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: It runs into 10th Avenue, does it?

Pinnell: Yes. It curves around up to 10th Avenue.


The Sweetwater branch runs through there.


Pepper:









Interview with: Paige Pinnell 14
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: That's interesting. Did you ever have any contact with Dr. Tigert himself?.

Pinnell: Very rarely. Not in any business way or social way at all.

Pepper: When you were Supervisor at the University Station, did you have any contact with
the President of the University in any way?

Pinnell: Well, yes, with Steve O'Connell I did. He had an idea and I think maybe we
generated it together, that he would like to bring about a situation like the University of Alabama where the University of Alabama has its own Post Office and Postmaster. It's called the University of Alabama; doesn't have any town connected with it at all. He was interested in seeing what might be done about that and had me come in several times to just talk about it, but I don't know, I think that he got very busy with other duties that he found more pressing and he didn't ever pursue that, so it's never been done. That was the years when the students began to become so restless and sat on the President's desk and things like that and Steve got very busy with other activities and forgot about his ambition to make the University a separate unit. I was interested because I thought it would be a lot better to have the mail come
directly to the institution without having to come through the Post Office.

Pepper: Do you think it still might be a good idea.

Pinnell: Well, I would seek to find out. It's grown a lot bigger than it was then with a
lot more mail, and if they could get it one step shorter, it would be helpful.

Pepper: That's interesting. Is there anything else you can think of that would be of interest.
We've covered a lot of ground here.

Pinnell: Yes. Well, I don't know, Bill. I've had to think back through the years. I've
been retired twenty-five years. These years were earlier than that. If I had a little
more time to think about it .

Pepper: Well, we will have this transcribed and provide you with a copy for editing and for
any additions you may wish to make. You will, of course, receive a copy for your records upon completion. Thank you so much for your time in providing this
interesting interview.




Full Text

PAGE 1

MATHESON HISTORICAL CENTER ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM INTERVIEWEE: Paige Pinnell INTERVIEWER: Bill Pepper TRANSCRIBER: Ruth C. Marston November 1, 1995

PAGE 2

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 2 Pepper: This is an interview with Paige Pinne ll, former Postmaster of Gainesville, conducted by W. Pepper (Bill Pepper III) on November 1, 1995, at The Village in N.W. 83rd Street, in Gainesville, where Paige lives w ith his wife. Paige, when did you become Postmaster at Gainesville? Pinnell: April of 1960. Pepper That is thirty-five years ago. Pinnell: Yes. Pepper: Tell me about your tenure. How l ong were you the Postmaster, and when did you retire? Pinnell: I retired July 24, 1970, so I was in the office for practically ten years, and I have enjoyed twenty-five years of retirement. Pepper: Very good. We'll be concentrating primarily on things that you know about, due to your background in Gainesville, that affected Alachua County and Gainesville in any way. We're looking for things that have to do with the history of Gainesville, so if you have knowledge of certain things that happened -but first, tell me when you came to Gainesville, where you were born, and when you went to work for the post office, things like that. Pinnell: Okay. Well, I was born on Februa ry 19, 1905, and reared in Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia, and resided there until I came to Gainesville in 1932. September 1, 1932 I arrived in Gainesville. For three years I had a seed, feed and fertilizer business in a partnership which I didn't enjoy fully toward the last, so I took the Civil Service Examination and made a good enough gr ade to be called to work at the post office. I made my partner a proposition that I would sell him my half or buy his half, and he took me up on buying my half and th en I went with the post office in 1936 -April 1. Pepper: Tell me the significant dates and progress that you made in the Postal Service. Pinnell: Well, that's a little difficult to reme mber the exact dates on this but anyway I started out as a clerk/carrier. That meant that I performed duties in both those areas at whatever time the work was available. I progressed then until I became a full clerk, then a Money Order Clerk and later on, the position of Superintendent of the University Station opened and I was accepted at the University Station, which at that time was on the campus.

PAGE 3

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 3 Pepper: About what year was that? Pinnell: It was probably '54 '55, and then I became Postmaster in '60, so I was at the Station for about five years. Pepper: Did you serve in the Army or Navy Air Force? Pinnell: I was in the Navy for three years. Pepper: I see. What did you do in the Navy? Pinnell: I was in postal work all the time. I went into the Navy on December 15, 1942, one year after Pearl Harbor. I was first in service in Norfolk, Virginia, for just a short time and then in the early spring of 1943, they opened an amphibious training base at Fort Pierce, Florida, and I made application to move there, to which I was assigned. . Pepper: Is that Little Creek? Pinnell: Little Creek, Virginia. No, I was not in Little Creek. Fort Pierce was an amphibious training base. It proved to be a big, big institution, but in 1944 I was commissioned and sent to Panama Canal Zone to relieve an officer that had been in service there for a long time, so for two years I served in the Panama Canal Zone, mostly in charge of two of the stations there, one at Balboa and one at Cristobal. Pepper: My uncle, Bill Tucker, was the Commanding Officer at Rodman down there -Rodman Naval Base -in the Canal Zone as an Admiral. But it was probably after you were there. Pinnell: I was there from 1942, or 1943 to 1945. Pepper: Yes, I don't think he had arrived there yet. Okay, then you got out of the Navy and came back to the Gainesville Post Office? Pinell: Yes. Pepper: When was that? Pinnell: That was in early '46. I came back to the Post Office here in Gainesville as Superintendent of Mail and served in that capacity until I went to the University

PAGE 4

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 4 Station, as I mentioned before, as Superint endent of the station. Then in 1960 I was commissioned Postmaster and came back to the main office. Pepper: Oh, you succeeded Jess Davis? Pinnell: Yes. Jess was Postmaster for twen ty-one years and I imagine that that will stand a long time. Pepper: What do you remember about Jess that would be of interest to people? Pinnell: Well, Jess was a very interesting pe rsonality. He was interested in a lot of things, interested in a lot of people. C onsequently, he prepared a little history of Alachua County and another one of Gaines ville, two volumes, but as he told me many times he was Postmaster at a time when Gainesville was just remaining the same, year after year, and he had time to get out and interview people all over the county and get all the information he needed to compile his little histories. Jess was quite an organizer. He organized the fi rst ball teams sponsored by the American Legion posts. Anyway, he organized and coached the ball clubs for many years. Jess was a member of the board that looked after the Draft Board, the registration to go in service, a long time. Pepper: The Draft Board? Pinnell: Yes, thank you. Pepper: You mentioned that Jess talked about y ears in which Gainesville didn't change much. Do you remember those years? Pinnell: Yes, I remember the years all ri ght. During his twenty years of being Postmaster, 1940, I guess, to 1960, the city did not change much. There was not much turnover. There were not many change s in the Post Office; we did not have many extensions we had to give out and all of the growth really started just after the war. It began to really grow. Pepper: How big was Gainesville at the time we 're talking about, when it was pretty stable, approximately? Pinnell: I would say between 8,000 to 10,000 over a twenty-year period. Pepper: I remember as a kid when Gainesville hit 10,000 in the census and it was a big thing.

PAGE 5

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 5 Pinnell: What year was it? Pepper: I don't remember the year. But I remember as a kid when that happened, and we thought, "Man, we've got 10,000 people." We'd never been 10,000 before. Pinnell: We were about 10,000 in 1932, when I came to Gainesville. There were more, of course, when I started working in the Post Office in 1936. Pepper: What do you remember about the Gainesville then as a stable, that is a static thing, rather than a changing thing. What a bout the people in the community and the attitudes in the community, if anything? Pinnell: Well, it was a very stable community and most everyone knew everybody else in town, and one of the things I reme mber was on Saturday nights a lot of people would go uptown and park their cars and just watch the people going and coming, shopping and chatting, and things of that sort. Pepper: Was that around the Square? Pinnell: Yes, around the Square most all of this happened. During those years there were two movies in town. One was the Lyric, which was down on what would be now S.E. 1st St. and the other was the Flor ida, which was a very new movie at that time on West University Avenue. They had different advertising things that they called "Dish Night". They would give away dishes, give away different things like that. They didn't have to attend the movie to get a dish or anything, but they were lucky otherwise, but those advertising cam paigns drew a lot of people. But I remember, also, the baseball games, especially the leagues, and the . . . Pepper: Was that the Florida State League? Pinnell: I was thinking about the World Seri es, when people would come down to the Main Post Office and sit on the grass while somebody from the Sun came to the window upstairs to announce the score. Well, we did have a good Florida State League, and Gainesville had a good team in t hose years. Some players advanced to the Majors. Pepper: Back to announcing the athletic events. We didn't have a lot of interest in radio at that time, so I guess that was a factor. So that was about up to what year where people gathered and heard the thing coming from the Sun office?

PAGE 6

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 6 Pinnell: I would guess until about 1934 when they did the announcement from the window. Pepper: How would that take place? What would happen? Pinnell: Well, people would come and sit on the lawn on the east side of the Post Office, which faced the Gainesville Sun building, and they would just sit and converse and chat, until the end of an i nning when someone would come to the window upstairs and call out the score. Pepper: Did they call it out with a megaphone? Pinnell: I don't think so. I don't remember that, because it was just across a very narrow street. Pepper: Yes. Pinnell: The drug store would put up the sc ores, make a box score, and write on the mirror right behind the soda fountain when the scores would come in. Some people would just stay at the drug store and sip on their coke or ice cream. Pepper: Were there other sports events that were done that way? Pinnell: No, just the baseball. No, I don't think they ever did anything else. Pepper: That was the World Series? Pinnell: Yes. Pepper: You said the Florida State Theater was quite an attraction in those days, wasn't it? Pinnell: Yes, it was a unique theater and it was very nice, too. I think the manager was a man named Lee. Pepper: I remember him. Claude Lee. Pinnell: He was quite a one to carry on different advertising tricks to get people. Pepper: He went on to greater things with movi es, but he always kept his roots and contacts back here. I remember that. And wasn't it Ed Roberts that replaced him?

PAGE 7

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 7 Pinnell: Yes, Ed Roberts was his assistant at the time who later became full manager of the theaters. Pepper: Of the Florida and the Lyric? Pinnell: Yes. Pepper: Oh he did? Pinnell: Yes. Ed and I went into service the same day. Pepper: Oh, did you know Ed? Ed was a nice fellow. Pinnell: Yes. He lives at The Village. Pepper: Ed does? Oh, my goodness, we ought to interview him. Is he in good spirits and health and his faculties good? Pinnell: Ed has had some health troubles, but he gets about well. He loves to talk and chat. A happy sort of fellow in spite of his slowness in getting around. Pepper: Tell us about some of the developmen ts that came about as Gainesville began to grow that you witnessed. Pinnell: Well, about the first thing I reme mber uptown is the Seagle Building, which had been started long before I came to Gaines ville but was just a frame, a tall frame, because of some difficulties with the cont ractors or otherwise, I don't know, that stopped the progress of the building, but anyw ay, it remained just a concrete frame for a long time and later it seems the Univers ity got into the picture with the owners and they made it into a museum. The mu seum had been on the campus for a long time and they changed it, finished the bu ilding and had the museum on the first and second floors. The rest of it was offices from various activities at the University. That was about the first thing that came along. Then, of course, the town began to grow and developers began subdivisions and so on. One of the main things that I recall th at happened after the war was the extension of West University Avenue. At one time it ended at about what is now N.W. 21st. St. and curved around to what is now S. W. 2nd Avenue. It was called Newberry Road from that point on. There were at l east two subdivisions west of 21st St. One was called Hibiscus Park; one was called Pa lm Terrace; and there might have been a

PAGE 8

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 8 third. Just one street subdivisions. This road curved to miss those subdivisions and later a larger subdivision was created on the south side of this street, called . . . Pepper: Golfview. Pinnell: Yes, Golfview, thank you. So those were the main subdivisions. Well, they wanted to straighten out or continue West University Avenue and they went right through the two subdivisions that were on th e north side. A long time it took to get all the negotiations finished that they could do that. It still is not a straight street; it curves about two or three times to avoid certain main homes and property that were there at the time. Pepper: Who were some of the people active in that development or those subdivisions at that time? Do you remember any of them? Pinnell: Well, the names sort of halt ther e. I remember one person who was very active in trying to keep them from coming . A man named DeBusk -E.F. DeBusk. He was very active in trying . . . He had a home in there, of course. Pepper: What was he trying to prevent? Pinnell: The extension of University Avenue . He didn't want it to come through those subdivisions. It seems that one person na med Flowers -I think he was one of the instigators. Maybe he was a member of th e State Road Board at the time. He had considerable influence, and he was the main one in Gainesville that was pushing for the opening of University Avenue on westward. Pepper: Was DeBusk a University professor? Pinnell: Yes. He was in the Agriculture College at the University. Pepper: So you remember quite a campaign and a resistance and finally it was achieved. Pinnell: Yes. Pepper: What about the quadrant system? Pinnell: Well, I remember well the quadrant sy stem. I was at the Post Office at the time. Pepper: Were you the Postmaster?

PAGE 9

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 9 Pinnell: No, I was the Superintendent of Mail. It was before my time as Postmaster. I was Superintendent of Mail and worked real closely with the engineer for the city, whose responsibility it was to name and num ber all of the streets in town and numbering all the houses. Everything change d because uptown where it all began at University Avenue and Main Street the numbe rs began with "0" instead of "1". In other words, the first block with unit "0" and as it went on out into the other areas, every block lost one block number, and this was real hard to overcome for a lot of people. I remember quite well when all of the streets and avenues, avenues running east and west and streets north and south, and all of the numbers of homes on the west side of the north and south street s became the even numbers and all of the numbers on the south side of University Avenue became odd numbers, on the north side even numbers and so on. All this ma de it very simple. All the compli-cations that came in and still exist were short str eets in between Avenues and Streets. The ones that ran north and south were called Te rraces and the ones that ran east and west at that time were called Lanes. Well, today they are still numbered this way, and now there are so many subdivisions that have come in over the city they've had to add to those, Courts. Pepper: They have Courts and Places and Ci rcles and Lanes. What provoked the quadrant system into coming into being? Pinnell: Well, I was a member at that time of the Junior Chamber of Commerce? We had a leader at that time with some experience in cities that had the quadrant system of naming the streets, etc. His name happened to be Bill Pepper! Pepper: Yes. Pinnell: He was the main one, as I recall, in being instrumental in finally getting it all to come about. This happened July 1, 1950. All the old Oranges and streets of that sort, trees, and so on, went out and we came in with the numerical. Pepper: That's W.M. Pepper, Jr., my father. I'm the III, so he's the one you were talking about. That was in 1950. Pinnell: He was the main one that I recall, the main reason it ever came about. Pepper: He was the editor of the paper and was pushing it editorially, etc. I believe that is true.

PAGE 10

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 10 Pinnell: He was President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and pushed it in that organization, too. Pepper: How long did that activity go on? That campaign. Was it a long campaign? Pinnell: From the first of it to the finality of it was I suspect three years. Pepper: What else can you remember about th e Post Office itself and its development in Gainesville that would be of interest? Pinnell: Well, the Post Office in which I went to work was on S.E. 1st Street. It was started in 1909 and completed in 1911. It ha d a full basement and was a very, very and is -a substantial building. I think that if I had to go for the most safe building in Gainesville for any reason, I think that th e old Post Office -they call it now the Hippodrome Theatre. That building was one of the most impressive buildings because it's all Grecian style with the co lumns out front, and so on. In 1936 it was quite adequate for our needs, but later on after the war it was entirely too small. We kept altering the floor and put the carrier cases in the basement, dropped the mail down through the shute to the carriers and th ey would sort it and then they had to bring it out but we did not have an elevator that went into the basement. They had to bring it out one bundle at a time on their shoulders. It was very, very awkward and an inconvenient way of doing business, but th at was all we had. Well, later we had what had been a laundry to work our parcel post. It was completely separated from the other mail. Pepper: Was it across the street? Pinnell: No, it was on the south side of wh at is now S.W. 2nd Ave. and had been a part of what was formerly the Ideal Laundr y. Ideal had built a different building and had this space that we could use for simply th e work of parcel post. That was all that was worked there. The incoming parcel post; none of the outgoing was there. But anyway, that was the first expansion that we got into. Well, a little bit later the University wanted their space that had been formerly the University Station Post Office on the campus and the Post Office had to seek other space. So we went into negotiations with the Department with a man named Smysor, who owned a vacant lot. Pepper: Smysor? Pinnell: Yes, Paul Smysor. He built the bu ilding and then leased it to the government as a postal facility, and it's still there, still in operation.

PAGE 11

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 11 Pepper: Where is it? Pinnell: It's N.W. 1st Ave. in the 1600 block. Pepper: Well, that's the one now that's right out by the University. Pinnell: Yes, just off of University. Pepper: Were you in on any other postal building? Pinnell: Yes. Of course, it had been started before I became Postmaster -the basic work on getting a new federal building on S.E. 1st Ave. We entered that building October 15, 1964 -in '64 -and that was one of the greatest things that we had ever known while I was Postmaster, so far as f acilities were concerned. We thought we had one for many years to come. That has not been proved true because we have the new tremendous facility on S.W. 34th Street now, but that came about for different reasons other than Gainesville, because when zip codes came in, Gainesville was developing the main office in zip c ode 326 and 326 denoted an area embracing twenty-four other post offices and all the mail for those offices would come and go, be received and dispatched through the Gaines ville office, and of course, our facility on S.E. 1st Ave., which we thought would be good for a long time became inadequate and they had to build a new building, which has been in operation probably six years now. Pepper: Has the zip code been an enhancement generally for the Postal Service? Pinnell: Yes, very much so. Before zip c odes, dispatching clerks, of which I was one for many years, had to memorize the service of all of the post offices in Florida and we had a considerably larger number than we have today. For instance, just say, Gulf Hammock. Pepper: Sopchoppy? Pinnell: Well, I don't know. Sopchoppy was pr obably served out of Tallahassee, but until then the mail had to come to Gainesville first and then was distributed out there and this was true of a lot of minor post offi ces in the state. They were served through a bigger office. So, the clerks all had to l earn the service of the offices, of every one in the state and memorize them. They had to take a final examination on them. Had little practice cases with every office named and on the back side it would show how it was served. So we had to take those ex ams twice a year and had to pass with a 99

PAGE 12

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 12 -not much room for error. Well, when the zip codes came in, every town was known by the first three numerals and if the cl erk could read this, he could dispatch the mail without any knowledge of where it wa s going to go. So, zip code, so far as I'm concerned, through my career was the greatest thing that's ever happened to the Post Office. Pepper: Is there anything else that you can remember about the Post Office generally, that would be of interest to the community? Pinnell: Well, Bill, I don't know of anything to describe very well that would be of real interest except that when I went in 1936 we had nine city routes, which were walking routes. The postmen walked and they had two deliveries a day. So, every postman had different routes. They were not all exactly the same length, but I suppose that not any one was less than six miles walking. And the one uptown was served by a postman for many, many years name d Childs. It was a shorter route but it was compact and had a lot of mail. We ll, later, much later we began to be mechanized a little -had some little Cushma n scooters, open deals that the carrier drove along, three-wheeled vehicles, and we were glad when that era came along. There was a lot of interest, but it soon worked out the Cushman scooter was not adequate for the daily grind that they had to be put through so the larger vehicles began to develop. Right-hand drive. They all were right-hand drives. The driver could drive up and service the boxes right from the vehicle. All of them are one trip service a day. I don't remember the date that two services a day went out. Pepper: Are you saying that some of these rout es were six miles and a man would do them twice; in other words, he would walk twelve miles a day? Pinnell: It didn't necessarily mean that because the afternoon route, the afternoon trip, was very light. Most of the time it was ve ry light and might include mail which had to be left at the office in the morning, the second and third-class mail, and there was a southbound train supposed to arrive in Gainesville about 11:30 and if it was on time, which was very rare --Pepper: Are you talking about ACL? Pinnell: Yes. We could receive some of the mail from the southbound train, but not often. So, the afternoon trips were light and all of the postmen could route their mail in such a way that they could reach the points of delivery much faster than they did in the morning. They did not have to cover the whole thing. Each one learned the tricks of where they could save time, and so on.

PAGE 13

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 13 Pepper: Was that the time when ACL was coming right down Main Street? Pinnell: Yes. I don't remember dates on that very well, but it was about 1950, the same time that our quadrant system came in, that the railroad came right down Main Street, north and south. The station was -I guess it's the First Union Bank, the names have changed a lot. At that time it was First National, but the station was right in that lot and the train stopped there, right in the middle of the street. Pepper: Yes, I can remember that myself. Are there any other things that you remember about the community or the University of Fl orida that would be of interest in this interview, to people in the future? Pinnell: Well, of course, the President of the University -for a long time -was Dr. Tigert. Pepper: John J. Tigert. Pinnell: John J. Tigert. He was Presiden t a long time. I don't remember when his term ended but it was after I started worki ng at the Post Office because I remember I substituted for all of the carri ers in the summertime when they took their vacations. I was learning the route with the regular carrier and we got to Dr. Tigert's home. This was, of course, always in the summertim e when they took their vacations. The carrier told me as we went up to put the mail in the box which was in a little breezeway between the garage and the home, he said, "Now, on this little shelf you will find a glass of cold water." He says, "You drink it." Mrs. Tigert put that water out there every day. She worked a lot, so I followed his orders and drank the water and welcomed it every time. It was there ev ery time. A lot of the time she would be out -she liked to work in the garden -and was outside a lot, and I became well acquainted with Mrs. Tigert just in a mi nute or two conversations with her the time that I was serving on the route. Pepper: That was on The Boulevard, wasn't it? Pinnell: Yes. Pepper: It runs into 10th Avenue, does it? Pinnell: Yes. It curves around up to 10th Avenue. Pepper: The Sweetwater branch runs through there.

PAGE 14

Interview with: Paige Pinnell November 1, 1995 14 Pinnell: Yes. Pepper: That's interesting. Did you ever have any contact with Dr. Tigert himself? Pinnell: Very rarely. Not in any business way or social way at all. Pepper: When you were Supervisor at the Univ ersity Station, did you have any contact with the President of the University in any way? Pinnell: Well, yes, with Steve O'Connell I di d. He had an idea and I think maybe we generated it together, that he would like to bring about a situation like the University of Alabama where the University of Alabama has its own Post Office and Postmaster. It's called the University of Alabama; doesn't have any town connected with it at all. He was interested in seei ng what might be done about that and had me come in several times to just talk about it, but I don't know, I think that he got very busy with other duties that he found more pr essing and he didn't ever pursue that, so it's never been done. That was the years when the students began to become so restless and sat on the President's desk and things like that and Steve got very busy with other activities and forgot about his am bition to make the University a separate unit. I was interested because I thought it w ould be a lot better to have the mail come directly to the institution without having to come through the Post Office. Pepper: Do you think it still might be a good idea. Pinnell: Well, I would seek to find out. It's grown a lot bigger than it was then with a lot more mail, and if they could get it one step shorter, it would be helpful. Pepper: That's interesting. Is there anything else you can think of that would be of interest. We've covered a lot of ground here. Pinnell: Yes. Well, I don't know, Bill. I've had to think back through the years. I've been retired twenty-five years. These year s were earlier than that. If I had a little more time to think about it . . . Pepper: Well, we will have this transcribed and provide you with a copy for editing and for any additions you may wish to make. You will, of course, receive a copy for your records upon completion. Thank you so much for your time in providing this interesting interview.


xml record header identifier oai:www.uflib.ufl.edu.ufdc:MH0000256400001datestamp 2009-02-11setSpec [UFDC_OAI_SET]metadata oai_dc:dc xmlns:oai_dc http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc xmlns:dc http:purl.orgdcelements1.1 xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc.xsd dc:title Interview with Paige Pinnelldc:creator Pepper, Bill ( Interviewer )Marston, Ruth C. ( Transcriber )dc:publisher Matheson Historical Museumdc:date November 1995dc:type Archivaldc:identifier http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ufdc/?b=MH00002564&v=00001dc:source Alachua County Historic Trust: Matheson Museum, Inc.dc:language English















MATHESON HISTORICAL CENTER


ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM


INTERVIEWEE: INTERVIEWER: TRANSCRIBER:


Paige Pinnell Bill Pepper Ruth C. Marston


November 1, 1995







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 2
November 1, 1995



Pepper: This is an interview with Paige Pinnell, former Postmaster of Gainesville, conducted
by W. Pepper (Bill Pepper III) on November 1, 1995, at The Village in N.W. 83rd Street, in Gainesville, where Paige lives with his wife. Paige, when did you become
Postmaster at Gainesville?

Pinnell: April of 1960.

Pepper That is thirty-five years ago.

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: Tell me about your tenure. How long were you the Postmaster, and when did you
retire?

Pinnell: I retired July 24, 1970, so I was in the office for practically ten years, and I
have enjoyed twenty-five years of retirement.

Pepper: Very good. We'll be concentrating primarily on things that you know about, due to
your background in Gainesville, that affected Alachua County and Gainesville in any way. We're looking for things that have to do with the history of Gainesville, so if you have knowledge of certain things that happened -- but first, tell me when you came to Gainesville, where you were born, and when you went to work for the post
office, things like that.

Pinnell: Okay. Well, I was born on February 19, 1905, and reared in Eastman, Dodge
County, Georgia, and resided there until I came to Gainesville in 1932. September 1, 1932 I arrived in Gainesville. For three years I had a seed, feed and fertilizer business in a partnership which I didn't enjoy fully toward the last, so I took the Civil Service Examination and made a good enough grade to be called to work at the post office. I made my partner a proposition that I would sell him my half or buy his half, and he took me up on buying my half and then I went with the post office in 1936 -April 1.

Pepper: Tell me the significant dates and progress that you made in the Postal Service.

Pinnell: Well, that's a little difficult to remember the exact dates on this but anyway I
started out as a clerk/carrier. That meant that I performed duties in both those areas at whatever time the work was available. I progressed then until I became a full clerk, then a Money Order Clerk and later on, the position of Superintendent of the University Station opened and I was accepted at the University Station, which at that
time was on the campus.







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 3
November 1, 1995




Pepper: About what year was that?

Pinnell: It was probably '54 - '55, and then I became Postmaster in '60, so I was at the
Station for about five years.

Pepper: Did you serve in the Army or Navy Air Force?

Pinnell: I was in the Navy for three years.

Pepper: I see. What did you do in the Navy?

Pinnell: I was in postal work all the time. I went into the Navy on December 15,
1942, one year after Pearl Harbor. I was first in service in Norfolk, Virginia, for just a short time and then in the early spring of 1943, they opened an amphibious training base at Fort Pierce, Florida, and I made application to move there, to which I was
assigned.

Pepper: Is that Little Creek?

Pinnell: Little Creek, Virginia. No, I was not in Little Creek. Fort Pierce was an
amphibious training base. It proved to be a big, big institution, but in 1944 I was commissioned and sent to Panama Canal Zone to relieve an officer that had been in service there for a long time, so for two years I served in the Panama Canal Zone,
mostly in charge of two of the stations there, one at Balboa and one at Cristobal. Pepper: My uncle, Bill Tucker, was the Commanding Officer at Rodman down there -Rodman Naval Base -- in the Canal Zone as an Admiral. But it was probably after
you were there.

Pinnell: I was there from 1942, or 1943 to 1945.

Pepper: Yes, I don't think he had arrived there yet. Okay, then you got out of the Navy and
came back to the Gainesville Post Office? Pinell: Yes.

Pepper: When was that?

Pinnell: That was in early '46. I came back to the Post Office here in Gainesville as
Superintendent of Mail and served in that capacity until I went to the University







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 4
November 1, 1995



Station, as I mentioned before, as Superintendent of the station. Then in 1960 I was
commissioned Postmaster and came back to the main office.

Pepper: Oh, you succeeded Jess Davis?

Pinnell: Yes. Jess was Postmaster for twenty-one years and I imagine that that will
stand a long time.

Pepper: What do you remember about Jess that would be of interest to people?

Pinnell: Well, Jess was a very interesting personality. He was interested in a lot of
things, interested in a lot of people. Consequently, he prepared a little history of Alachua County and another one of Gainesville, two volumes, but as he told me many times he was Postmaster at a time when Gainesville was just remaining the same, year after year, and he had time to get out and interview people all over the county and get all the information he needed to compile his little histories. Jess was quite an organizer. He organized the first ball teams - sponsored by the American Legion posts. Anyway, he organized and coached the ball clubs for many years.
Jess was a member of the board that looked after the Draft Board, the registration to
go in service, a long time.

Pepper: The Draft Board?

Pinnell: Yes, thank you.

Pepper: You mentioned that Jess talked about years in which Gainesville didn't change much.
Do you remember those years?

Pinnell: Yes, I remember the years all right. During his twenty years of being
Postmaster, 1940, I guess, to 1960, the city did not change much. There was not much turnover. There were not many changes in the Post Office; we did not have many extensions we had to give out and all of the growth really started just after the
war. It began to really grow.

Pepper: How big was Gainesville at the time we're talking about, when it was pretty stable,
approximately?

Pinnell: I would say between 8,000 to 10,000 over a twenty-year period.


I remember as a kid when Gainesville hit 10,000 in the census and it was a big thing.


Pepper:







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 5
November 1, 1995




Pinnell: What year was it?

Pepper: I don't remember the year. But I remember as a kid when that happened, and we
thought, "Man, we've got 10,000 people." We'd never been 10,000 before.

Pinnell: We were about 10,000 in 1932, when I came to Gainesville. There were
more, of course, when I started working in the Post Office in 1936.

Pepper: What do you remember about the Gainesville then as a stable, that is a static thing,
rather than a changing thing. What about the people in the community and the
attitudes in the community, if anything?

Pinnell: Well, it was a very stable community and most everyone knew everybody
else in town, and one of the things I remember was on Saturday nights a lot of people would go uptown and park their cars and just watch the people going and coming,
shopping and chatting, and things of that sort.

Pepper: Was that around the Square?

Pinnell: Yes, around the Square most all of this happened. During those years there
were two movies in town. One was the Lyric, which was down on what would be now S.E. 1st St. and the other was the Florida, which was a very new movie at that time on West University Avenue. They had different advertising things that they called "Dish Night". They would give away dishes, give away different things like that. They didn't have to attend the movie to get a dish or anything, but they were lucky otherwise, but those advertising campaigns drew a lot of people. But I
remember, also, the baseball games, especially the leagues, and the.

Pepper: Was that the Florida State League?

Pinnell: I was thinking about the World Series, when people would come down to the
Main Post Office and sit on the grass while somebody from the Sun came to the window upstairs to announce the score. Well, we did have a good Florida State League, and Gainesville had a good team in those years. Some players advanced to
the Majors.

Pepper: Back to announcing the athletic events. We didn't have a lot of interest in radio at
that time, so I guess that was a factor. So that was about up to what year where
people gathered and heard the thing coming from the Sun office?







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 6
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: I would guess until about 1934 when they did the announcement from the
window.

Pepper: How would that take place? What would happen?

Pinnell: Well, people would come and sit on the lawn on the east side of the Post
Office, which faced the Gainesville Sun building, and they would just sit and converse and chat, until the end of an inning when someone would come to the
window upstairs and call out the score. Pepper: Did they call it out with a megaphone?

Pinnell: I don't think so. I don't remember that, because it was just across a very
narrow street.

Pepper: Yes.

Pinnell: The drug store would put up the scores, make a box score, and write on the
mirror right behind the soda fountain when the scores would come in. Some people
would just stay at the drug store and sip on their coke or ice cream. Pepper: Were there other sports events that were done that way?

Pinnell: No, just the baseball. No, I don't think they ever did anything else.

Pepper: That was the World Series?

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: You said the Florida State Theater was quite an attraction in those days, wasn't it?

Pinnell: Yes, it was a unique theater and it was very nice, too. I think the manager
was a man named Lee.

Pepper: I remember him. Claude Lee.

Pinnell: He was quite a one to carry on different advertising tricks to get people.

Pepper: He went on to greater things with movies, but he always kept his roots and contacts
back here. I remember that. And wasn't it Ed Roberts that replaced him?







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 7
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: Yes, Ed Roberts was his assistant at the time who later became full manager
of the theaters.

Pepper: Of the Florida and the Lyric?

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: Oh he did?

Pinnell: Yes. Ed and I went into service the same day.

Pepper: Oh, did you know Ed? Ed was a nice fellow.

Pinnell: Yes. He lives at The Village.

Pepper: Ed does? Oh, my goodness, we ought to interview him. Is he in good spirits and
health and his faculties good?

Pinnell: Ed has had some health troubles, but he gets about well. He loves to talk and
chat. A happy sort of fellow in spite of his slowness in getting around.

Pepper: Tell us about some of the developments that came about as Gainesville began to
grow that you witnessed.

Pinnell: Well, about the first thing I remember uptown is the Seagle Building, which
had been started long before I came to Gainesville but was just a frame, a tall frame, because of some difficulties with the contractors or otherwise, I don't know, that stopped the progress of the building, but anyway, it remained just a concrete frame for a long time and later it seems the University got into the picture with the owners and they made it into a museum. The museum had been on the campus for a long time and they changed it, finished the building and had the museum on the first and second floors. The rest of it was offices from various activities at the University.
That was about the first thing that came along.

Then, of course, the town began to grow and developers began subdivisions and so on. One ofthe main things that I recall that happened after the war was the extension of West University Avenue. At one time it ended at about what is now N.W. 21st.
St. and curved around to what is now S.W. 2nd Avenue. It was called Newberry Road from that point on. There were at least two subdivisions west of 21st St. One was called Hibiscus Park; one was called Palm Terrace; and there might have been a







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 8
November 1, 1995



third. Just one street subdivisions. This road curved to miss those subdivisions and
later a larger subdivision was created on the south side of this street, called.

Pepper: Golfview.

Pinnell: Yes, Golfview, thank you. So those were the main subdivisions. Well, they
wanted to straighten out or continue West University Avenue and they went right through the two subdivisions that were on the north side. A long time it took to get all the negotiations finished that they could do that. It still is not a straight street; it curves about two or three times to avoid certain main homes and property that were
there at the time.

Pepper: Who were some ofthe people active in that development or those subdivisions at that
time? Do you remember any of them?

Pinnell: Well, the names sort of halt there. I remember one person who was very
active in trying to keep them from coming. A man named DeBusk -- E.F. DeBusk.
He was very active in trying . He had a home in there, of course.

Pepper: What was he trying to prevent?

Pinnell: The extension of University Avenue. He didn't want it to come through those
subdivisions. It seems that one person named Flowers -- I think he was one of the instigators. Maybe he was a member of the State Road Board at the time. He had considerable influence, and he was the main one in Gainesville that was pushing for
the opening of University Avenue on westward.

Pepper: Was DeBusk a University professor?

Pinnell: Yes. He was in the Agriculture College at the University.

Pepper: So you remember quite a campaign and a resistance and finally it was achieved.

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: What about the quadrant system?

Pinnell: Well, I remember well the quadrant system. I was at the Post Office at the
time.


Pepper: Were you the Postmaster?







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 9
November 1, 1995




Pinnell: No, I was the Superintendent of Mail. It was before my time as Postmaster. I
was Superintendent of Mail and worked real closely with the engineer for the city, whose responsibility it was to name and number all of the streets in town and numbering all the houses. Everything changed because uptown where it all began at University Avenue and Main Street the numbers began with "0" instead of " 1". In other words, the first block with unit "0" and as it went on out into the other areas, every block lost one block number, and this was real hard to overcome for a lot of people. I remember quite well when all of the streets and avenues, avenues running east and west and streets north and south, and all of the numbers of homes on the west side of the north and south streets became the even numbers and all of the numbers on the south side of University Avenue became odd numbers, on the north side even numbers and so on. All this made it very simple. All the compli-cations that came in and still exist were short streets in between Avenues and Streets. The ones that ran north and south were called Terraces and the ones that ran east and west at that time were called Lanes. Well, today they are still numbered this way, and now there are so many subdivisions that have come in over the city they've had to
add to those, Courts.

Pepper: They have Courts and Places and Circles and Lanes. What provoked the quadrant
system into coming into being?

Pinnell: Well, I was a member at that time ofthe Junior Chamber of Commerce? We
had a leader at that time with some experience in cities that had the quadrant system
of naming the streets, etc. His name happened to be Bill Pepper!

Pepper: Yes.

Pinnell: He was the main one, as I recall, in being instrumental in finally getting it all
to come about. This happened July 1, 1950. All the old Oranges and streets of that
sort, trees, and so on, went out and we came in with the numerical.

Pepper: That's W.M. Pepper, Jr., my father. I'm the III, so he's the one you were talking
about. That was in 1950.

Pinnell: He was the main one that I recall, the main reason it ever came about.

Pepper: He was the editor of the paper and was pushing it editorially, etc. I believe that is
true.







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 10
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: He was President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and pushed it in that
organization, too.

Pepper: How long did that activity go on? That campaign. Was it a long campaign?

Pinnell: From the first of it to the finality of it was I suspect three years.

Pepper: What else can you remember about the Post Office itself and its development in
Gainesville that would be of interest?

Pinnell: Well, the Post Office in which I went to work was on S.E. 1st Street. It was
started in 1909 and completed in 1911. It had a full basement and was a very, very and is -- a substantial building. Ithink that if I had to go for the most safe building in Gainesville for any reason, I think that the old Post Office -- they call it now the Hippodrome Theatre. That building was one of the most impressive buildings because it's all Grecian style with the columns out front, and so on. In 1936 it was quite adequate for our needs, but later on after the war it was entirely too small. We kept altering the floor and put the carrier cases in the basement, dropped the mail down through the shute to the carriers and they would sort it and then they had to bring it out but we did not have an elevator that went into the basement. They had to bring it out one bundle at a time on their shoulders. It was very, very awkward and an inconvenient way of doing business, but that was all we had. Well, later we had what had been a laundry to work our parcel post. It was completely separated from
the other mail.

Pepper: Was it across the street?

Pinnell: No, it was on the south side of what is now S.W. 2nd Ave. and had been a
part of what was formerly the Ideal Laundry. Ideal had built a different building and had this space that we could use for simply the work of parcel post. That was all that was worked there. The incoming parcel post; none of the outgoing was there. But anyway, that was the first expansion that we got into. Well, a little bit later the University wanted their space that had been formerly the University Station Post Office on the campus and the Post Office had to seek other space. So we went into negotiations with the Department with a man named Smysor, who owned a vacant
lot.

Pepper: Smysor?

Pinnell: Yes, Paul Smysor. He built the building and then leased it to the government
as a postal facility, and it's still there, still in operation.







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 11
November 1, 1995




Pepper: Where is it?

Pinnell: It's N.W. 1st Ave. in the 1600 block.

Pepper: Well, that's the one now that's right out by the University.

Pinnell: Yes, just off of University.

Pepper: Were you in on any other postal building?

Pinnell: Yes. Of course, it had been started before I became Postmaster -- the basic
work on getting a new federal building on S.E. 1st Ave. We entered that building October 15, 1964 -- in '64 -- and that was one of the greatest things that we had ever known while I was Postmaster, so far as facilities were concerned. We thought we had one for many years to come. That has not been proved true because we have the new tremendous facility on S.W. 34th Street now, but that came about for different reasons other than Gainesville, because when zip codes came in, Gainesville was developing the main office in zip code 326 and 326 denoted an area embracing twenty-four other post offices and all the mail for those offices would come and go, be received and dispatched through the Gainesville office, and of course, our facility on S.E. 1st Ave., which we thought would be good for a long time became inadequate and they had to build a new building, which has been in operation
probably six years now.

Pepper: Has the zip code been an enhancement generally for the Postal Service?

Pinnell: Yes, very much so. Before zip codes, dispatching clerks, of which I was one
for many years, had to memorize the service of all of the post offices in Florida and we had a considerably larger number than we have today. For instance, just say,
Gulf Hammock.

Pepper: Sopchoppy?

Pinnell: Well, I don't know. Sopchoppy was probably served out of Tallahassee, but
until then the mail had to come to Gainesville first and then was distributed out there and this was true of a lot of minor post offices in the state. They were served through a bigger office. So, the clerks all had to learn the service of the offices, of every one in the state and memorize them. They had to take a final examination on them. Had little practice cases with every office named and on the back side it would show how it was served. So we had to take those exams twice a year and had to pass with a 99







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 12
November 1, 1995



-- not much room for error. Well, when the zip codes came in, every town was known by the first three numerals and if the clerk could read this, he could dispatch the mail without any knowledge of where it was going to go. So, zip code, so far as I'm concerned, through my career was the greatest thing that's ever happened to the
Post Office.

Pepper: Is there anything else that you can remember about the Post Office generally, that
would be of interest to the community?

Pinnell: Well, Bill, I don't know of anything to describe very well that would be of
real interest except that when I went in 1936 we had nine city routes, which were walking routes. The postmen walked and they had two deliveries a day. So, every postman had different routes. They were not all exactly the same length, but I suppose that not any one was less than six miles walking. And the one uptown was served by a postman for many, many years named Childs. It was a shorter route but it was compact and had a lot of mail. Well, later, much later we began to be mechanized a little -- had some little Cushman scooters, open deals that the carrier drove along, three-wheeled vehicles, and we were glad when that era came along.
There was a lot of interest, but it soon worked out the Cushman scooter was not adequate for the daily grind that they had to be put through so the larger vehicles began to develop. Right-hand drive. They all were right-hand drives. The driver could drive up and service the boxes right from the vehicle. All of them are one trip
service a day. I don't remember the date that two services a day went out.

Pepper: Are you saying that some of these routes were six miles and a man would do them
twice; in other words, he would walk twelve miles a day?

Pinnell: It didn't necessarily mean that because the afternoon route, the afternoon trip,
was very light. Most of the time it was very light and might include mail which had to be left at the office in the morning, the second and third-class mail, and there was a southbound train supposed to arrive in Gainesville about 11:30 and if it was on
time, which was very rare --Pepper: Are you talking about ACL?

Pinnell: Yes. We could receive some of the mail from the southbound train, but not
often. So, the afternoon trips were light and all of the postmen could route their mail in such a way that they could reach the points of delivery much faster than they did in the morning. They did not have to cover the whole thing. Each one learned the
tricks of where they could save time, and so on.







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 13
November 1, 1995



Pepper: Was that the time when ACL was coming right down Main Street?

Pinnell: Yes. I don't remember dates on that very well, but it was about 1950, the
same time that our quadrant system came in, that the railroad came right down Main Street, north and south. The station was -- I guess it's the First Union Bank, the names have changed a lot. At that time it was First National, but the station was
right in that lot and the train stopped there, right in the middle of the street.

Pepper: Yes, I can remember that myself. Are there any other things that you remember
about the community or the University of Florida that would be of interest in this
interview, to people in the future?

Pinnell: Well, of course, the President of the University -- for a long time -- was Dr.
Tigert.

Pepper: John J. Tigert.

Pinnell: John J. Tigert. He was President a long time. I don't remember when his
tennrm ended but it was after I started working at the Post Office because I remember I substituted for all ofthe carriers in the summertime when they took their vacations. I was learning the route with the regular carrier and we got to Dr. Tigert's home. This was, of course, always in the summertime when they took their vacations. The carrier told me as we went up to put the mail in the box which was in a little breezeway between the garage and the home, he said, "Now, on this little shelf you will find a glass of cold water." He says, "You drink it." Mrs. Tigert put that water out there every day. She worked a lot, so I followed his orders and drank the water and welcomed it every time. It was there every time. A lot of the time she would be out -- she liked to work in the garden -- and was outside a lot, and I became well acquainted with Mrs. Tigert just in a minute or two conversations with her the time
that I was serving on the route.

Pepper: That was on The Boulevard, wasn't it?

Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: It runs into 10th Avenue, does it?

Pinnell: Yes. It curves around up to 10th Avenue.


The Sweetwater branch runs through there.


Pepper:







Interview with: Paige Pinnell 14
November 1, 1995



Pinnell: Yes.

Pepper: That's interesting. Did you ever have any contact with Dr. Tigert himself?.

Pinnell: Very rarely. Not in any business way or social way at all.

Pepper: When you were Supervisor at the University Station, did you have any contact with
the President of the University in any way?

Pinnell: Well, yes, with Steve O'Connell I did. He had an idea and I think maybe we
generated it together, that he would like to bring about a situation like the University of Alabama where the University of Alabama has its own Post Office and Postmaster. It's called the University of Alabama; doesn't have any town connected with it at all. He was interested in seeing what might be done about that and had me come in several times to just talk about it, but I don't know, I think that he got very busy with other duties that he found more pressing and he didn't ever pursue that, so it's never been done. That was the years when the students began to become so restless and sat on the President's desk and things like that and Steve got very busy with other activities and forgot about his ambition to make the University a separate unit. I was interested because I thought it would be a lot better to have the mail come
directly to the institution without having to come through the Post Office.

Pepper: Do you think it still might be a good idea.

Pinnell: Well, I would seekto find out. It's grown a lot bigger than it was then with a
lot more mail, and if they could get it one step shorter, it would be helpful.

Pepper: That's interesting. Is there anything else you can think of that would be of interest.
We've covered a lot of ground here.

Pinnell: Yes. Well, I don't know, Bill. I've had to think back through the years. I've
been retired twenty-five years. These years were earlier than that. If I had a little
more time to think about it . .

Pepper: Well, we will have this transcribed and provide you with a copy for editing and for
any additions you may wish to make. You will, of course, receive a copy for your records upon completion. Thank you so much for your time in providing this
interesting interview.