Interview with Mamie James Schofield Saunders, June 6, 1986

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Interview with Mamie James Schofield Saunders, June 6, 1986
Saunders, Mamie James Schofield ( Interviewee )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Fifth Avenue (Gainesville, Fla.)
African Americans ( fast )
Fifth Avenue African American (Alachua County) Oral History Collection ( local )
Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History ( local )
Florida History ( local )
Oral histories ( lcgft )
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This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Fifth Avenue Blacks' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
FAB 052 Mamie James Schofield Saunders 06-06-1986 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )


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Interviewee: Mamie James Schofield Saunders

Interviewer: Joel Buchanan

June 6, 1986



Mamie James Schofield Saunders was born in Thomasville, Georgia, on
August 24, 1907, but came to GAinesville as a young child since her mother was
a native of the area. She attended Union Academy and completed two years at
old Lincoln High School. She was a housekeeper for more than thirty-four years
until her recent retirement.

This interview discusses Mrs Saunders' life and work as a housekeeper and
the responsibilities she assumed in that position. The bulk of the interview
is extensive description of earlier times in Gainesville and the changes that
have taken place over the years. Mrs. Saunders explains how the neighborhood
changed and the many residents of the Fifth Avenue community.

B: June 6, 1986, ten-thirty a.m. in the morning. I am Joel Buchanan
conducting an interview this morning with Mrs. Mamie James Schofield
Saunders at her home 808 N.W. 7th Avenue. Mrs. Saunders has been a
resident of Gainesville in Alachua County all of her life. She is
a retired housekeeper of more than thirty-four years. This
interview is for the University of Florida Oral History Project and the
City of Gainesville. Good morning, Mrs. Saunders.

S: Good morning.

B: How are you this morning?

S: Fine.

B: Would you please spell your maiden name for me? Schofield.

S: S-c-h-o-f-i-e-l-d.

B: Did you ever ask your parents where that name came from?

S: No, I did not.

B: Where were you born Mrs. Saunders?

S: In Thomasville, Georgia.

B: Now, were your parents from Gainesville?

S: My mother was from Gainesville, but my father was from Aiken, South

B: Did they ever tell you how they got to Florida?

S: No.

B: They did not.

S: But my mother was born right here.

B: She was born in Gainesville?

S: Yes.

B: And what was your mother's name?

S: Fanny Kay Schofield, well Stuart before she married.

B: And when you say she was born here, was it anywhere near the area that we
are in now?

S: Yes, right here.

B: In this house?

S: Yes.


B: And who were some of your mother's relatives?

S: I do not think you would remember John Stuart. That was her brother, her
twin brother, and her father was named Milton Stuart. He used to run a
stable uptown.

B: Where about uptown?

S: Had they torn the Presbyterian Church down before you got large enough
to know that?

B: Yes. Now where was that located?

S: It was located right on the corner of Second and University Avenue, and his
stable was on University Avenue right across the street.

B: That was your grandfather?

S: Yes.

B: Now, do you remember going to the stable?

S: Oh, no I do not remember that, because the stable got burnt up before I
was born.

B: I see. What did Mrs. Saunders' mother do?

S: Not anything.

B: She did not do anything. Did you have any brothers and sisters?

S: I had a brother and a sister.

B: What are their names?

S: Robert Schofield and Clifford Schofield.

B: You mentioned that you were born in Georgia. Did you stay in Georgia very

S: No, my father was just working there at the time, and they left here and
went there and I happened to be born there, and they came right on back
here and lived.

B: They came back so you spent all of your time here in Gainesville.

S: Yes.

B: May I ask when Mrs. Saunders was born, birthdate?

S: August 24, 1907.

B: What do you recall about your childhood?


S: Not anything.

B: Do you recall the first day of school? Where did you go to school?

S: Union Academy.

B: Describe the building for me. No one has ever told me if it was a two-
story building, one story, or how many rooms there were. How was it

S: I do not know how many rooms there were. But you know it was in the paper
about ten months ago. They had the picture. And do you know I intended to
cut it out and keep it, but I forgot. But I will tell you where it was,
right where the center is.

B: On Second Street?

S: Yes, that is where it was.

B: How did you get there?

S: Walked.

B: You did not walk by yourself everyday.

S: No, I did not walk by myself. You know, just a crowd of children were
going to school there.

B: How many years did you attend Union Academy?

S: I went there when I was five. Not like now, you know, you have to wait
until you are six. I do not know what year it was. I went out here two

B: Now when you say out here, you are talking about old Lincoln?

S: Yes, I went to old Lincoln two years and that is as far as I got in

B: Now, was Professor Jones the principal there?

S: Yes.

B: When you were there?

S: Yes, he was the principal at the Union Academy.

B: When you were there he was the principal at Union Academy?

S: Yes.

B: My goodness, that has been some years hasn't it?

S: Yes, it has. I cannot remember what year he came, but he was principal


back then.

B: You were born in Georgia, and this is your mother's home. Were you reared
in this house?

S: No, this was not her house. This was my grandmother's house but the house
that was next door to Mr. Lewis' house was my mother's house, and that is
where I was reared.

B: What was Seventh Avenue referred to in your early days?

S: Columbia Street.

B: And the street that is on the east side is what, Eighth Street now was

S: Sixth Street.

B: And what was Tenth Street?

S: Ninth Street. Wait a minute let me see, no, it was not that. Ninth
Street was Thirteenth Street. And I can't get Tenth Street. It looked
like to me that was Seventh Street, I think. I am not sure. Yes, it was.
Yes, because the city was getting larger.

B: You hear so many people talk about this not being a pleasant place to
live, and you have been here all of you life. Has this been a nice
neighborhood to live in?

S: I think so. I really do.

B: In your early days were there many more houses in this area than what
are here now.

S: Well, you remember when they tore the houses down across the street. It
just is not as crowded in here.

B: Now were the houses that they tore down about the last four or five years
were those there a long time ago? Or did you have families that had homes
that lived there?

S: No, they had not been there a long, long time. I do not know what year
they built those houses, but I am going to say all that happened about in
the 1930s. That is what I am going to say but I could be wrong about the

B: But you think it happened it that period of time. Now I was told that
across from you there used to be a little store.

S: Right there on the corner, yes.

B: Who ran that store and what kind of store was it?

S: A little grocery store, you know. That is all it was. And the people


that owned the two-story house, the girl that you are going to interview.

B: Debose.

S: Debose, it was their aunt.

B: Their aunt's house.

S: Yes.

B: What was her name?

S: One of them was named Katie Sutton and the other one was Marjorie O'Neil,
two sisters.

B: And they ran the little store right here?

S: Yes.

B: How have you seen this area change over the last thirty years?

S: Oh, it has changed wonderfully, because of the different people that
have been coming in. All these people around here to me are new on that
side. Now, June is the oldest one that is not new.

B: Who?

S: June Williams. She is the oldest one that is not new, that I know of that
moved in their new houses down here.

B: So all the other houses around here are people that have been here for

S: Yes.

B: I see. Let's try to reestablish this block back about thirty years. Your
grandmother lived here. Now who lived next to your grandmother?

S: There was not a house there, it was just a lot. The next house was
mother's house.

B: And the next house to your mother, the Johnson's lived there?

S: No, no. That was a vacant lot. The next house was Daniel's house. That
was my uncle's house and that was it.

B: So actually your family had this whole block.

S: Oh, yes we had the whole thing on over to Eighth Avenue. We had that whole

B: You mean to tell me that from here?

S: Yes, to Eighth Avenue.


B: Was all your family's property?

S: Yes.

B: The Schofields'.

S: The Stuarts'. All those people down in there, they bought from the

B: Would you have wanted to have kept it in the family if you could have?

S: No.

B: Why?

S: Too expensive, that is why we did not keep it.

B: Are there many Stuarts living?

S: No, there aren't any down there. Because my aunt Florie Jasmer (?)
now, the one that owned house that I was raised in. I gave that to her
because she did not have anything and she was the last one that died.
She died in 1964.

B: Now are you the only member now of the older family that is living?

S: There is one in Jacksonville.

B: A cousin or aunt?

S: She is my cousin, but she is kind of just a niece, you know.

B: Is she a Schofield?

S: No, she is a Luey.

B: You retired from housekeeping for thirty-four years. Did you work that
thirty-four years for the same family?

S: Yes.

B: And that family's name is?

S: Mullin.

B: The Mullins.

S: R.P. Mullin. He is dead now. So, she married again. She married a Mullin
and he is Kenneth Mullin.

B: What kind of work did they do? Did they have a business?

S: They were museum people.

B: Now, what museum was he in charge of? Was he in charge of one?


S: No, he was not in charge of one. He worked at the Florida State Museum.
He was an archeologist there.

B: This is the one that was in the Seagle building downtown.

S: Yes, and then after they moved, he was over here. He died the Christmas
of 1976.

B: How did you happen to get that job?

S: I do not know exactly, but I worked for her mother. I had taken care of
her mother a year and her mother passed, and so then she wanted me to come
and work for her, and that is just how I got it.

B: And you were with her for thirty-four years?

S:. Yes.

B: Did you enjoy your work?

S: Yes, I enjoyed it.

B: Do you feel that since things have changed so much that you eventually
will not have people doing housekeeping work. Do you think that
eventually you will not be able to find people to do that kind of work?

S: I do not know. Well, yes and no. Because they got it now. You would be
surprised at white people that do that work, and they come in and clean
your house for you for so much. They take one day or two days a week and
clean your house. Because my lady got into the place that she would do
it, but she would pay me just the same, because I had been there so long
and I was not able to do it. That is the main thing. I was not able to
keep her house.

B: You got your salary and then she had another lady to come in and do some
of the things that you were doing?

S: Why sure.

B: Well, why should she do that?

S: Because, well, you do not find that. I struck it good, that is all I can

B: Do you feel that you became a part of the family?

S: Yes.

B: Why?

S: I just feel that way. I do not know. And she comes to see me once a
month. She hasn't been here this month, but she will be here today or


B: And she comes to visit you?

S: Yes.

B: So actually your job was not a job, you became a part of the family?

S: Yes.

B: And I assume that you did more than just simply take care of the house.
Were there times that you ran the errands, paid the bills, things of that

S: I did not have to pay bills, but I had to do all the buying for the food
and everything like that. And she was the woman that just walked in the
house, just like you walk in here and walk out. It was four, but the boys
were grown and gone, so it was just the two of us.

B: So, actually you ran the house.

S: Yes.

B: Now, how many hours did you work. Were you there from eight o'clock until
five or were you there all day?

S: Yes, I worked at ten o'clock in the morning, go in at ten. I was supposed
to get off at eight, but I got off before eight at night.

B: So that would mean that you would have to prepare the meals?

S: Yes, two meals a day.

B: Who made the decision what you cooked?

S: I did.

B: You know, I think that is delightful. But what if you prepared something
that they did not want to have that day? Would she let you know that?

S: If she would want something special she would tell me, you know. And if
she wanted company that was different.

B: Did you ever have to bring in extra help to do parties and things of that

S: Yes, if she wanted something she would bring in extra. You remember Paul
Dixon. He used to come in and help us.

B: In your taking care of the house and doing the shopping and the preparing
of the meals, did you ever do very large parties at the home?

S: No, not too large parties.

B: What was the best part of the work that you enjoyed? To be there thirty-


four years there had to be something you enjoyed doing.

S: Well, I would just rather do my everyday work. You know, just prepare my
meals. And of course, she liked everything just so. I had to serve in
courses and all for just her.

B: The family had their meals served in courses?

S: Oh, yes.

B: Wasn't that kind of difficult for one person to do?

S: No.

B: It wasn't. Well, how did you feel when you came home and fixed dinner for
your family? Did you serve them in courses?

S: No.

B: Well, why didn't you? (laughter)

S: Well, I was glad to get home but you know I was not. I was not tired I
think that is what's wrong with me now. I just work all the time and I
never was tired. And I am a person who did not want to sit down and just
hold my hands. And now I do not want to do one thing.

B: Not one thing.

S: Not one thing. I do not want to put my hands on another day of work.

B: How old were you when you started working there? You had to be kind of
young didn't you? Was this your first job?

S: No, this wasn't my first job.

B: What did you do preceding that? What kind of work did you do before you
started with the Mullins?

S: I did day work for different people. I did not have but three days work,
but that is all I wanted.

B: You only worked three days a week? What days were those?

S: Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.

B: Was the pay very well?

S: Well, they paid pretty good but see my husband was working you know, and
that was enough for us to get along with. But then he got sick and he
wasn't able to do anything, and of course I had to work. Well, I had to
get a job.

B: Your husband's name was what, please?

S: Bradley Saunders.


B: Was he from Gainesville or did he have family in Gainesville?

S: No.

B: Where was he from?

S: Quincy, Florida.

B: How did you meet him?

S: I met him in Clearwater.

B: What were you doing in Clearwater?

S: Well, I was living in Clearwater at the time.

B: And you met this gentleman there?

S: Yes.

B: What year did you all get married?

S: In 1950.

B: And you brought him back to Gainesville?

S: No, he came back to Gainesville. I came to Gainesville. Brother had gotten
sick, and I came to Gainesville. My brother was down there. My brother
and I both were down there, and he got sick and I had to get him home. So,
then I wasn't married, and so he just kept coming to see me every other
week. And then sometimes I would go and see him. And we just kept on
like that until finally we got married.

B: Did you have a church wedding?

S: No, I sure did not. I did not have a wedding. No, I did went right down
there to the....

B: Do you remember that day?

S: Yes, I remember it.

B: You went to the courthouse?

S: Yes, I went to the courthouse.

B: And what did you do after you got married?

S: Not anything.

B: Did you go to work that day or did you come home?

S: No, I did not go to work that day. I came home.


B: And at the courthouse, who was your witness?

S: I do not think I had a witness.

B: You did not have a witness.

S: You had Barbara's girl. That was all, because I did not want to tell
nobody. You know how these things is.

B: You did not want to tell nobody, but they had to know it sometime.

S: Yes, they had to know it sometime.

B: What did Mr. Saunders do?

S: He was a fruit picker.

B: A fruit picker?

S: Yes.

B: And where did he, did he do that in this area?

S: Oh, no. When we came here, he got a job out at the university working as a

B: How many years was he there?

S: Oh, I do not know how many years he was there.

B: In working for the Mullins, I know you had to leave here. What part of
town did they live in?

S: Kirkwood.

B: They lived in Kirkwood. And you would go there, and you would be the
housekeeper. Did you have to wear a uniform?

S: Oh, yes.

B: You did. And you did the shopping and took care of the house. How did
you feel leaving here and going there to do the work and coming here. Do
you think that they had more things, more benefits that you did not have?
Were you bitter about it, or was that the way the world was at that time?

S: Well, I just felt like that is the way the world was. I was working, I
wanted to work. They were nice to me, so I just would want to work.

B: When you say nice to you, what do you mean by that?

S: Well, they were always giving me vacations.

B: You got vacations?

S: Sure, I got vacations.


B: Not with pay.

S: Why, what else? How could I afford to take care of a family and not get

B: Well, I never heard of a housekeeper getting paid vacations.

S: Oh, no. Well, I always did. I got three weeks vacation with pay. And
sometimes I would go off and stay months, because he would go on a dig you
know. And I would get my money right on.

B: You mean they would be gone for months sometimes. Now what did you do
when they were gone all that time. Did you have to in?

S: I would have to go and check the mail like that and water the flowers.
You know they are going to give me something to do and that was it.
And that was it. What else was there to do?

B: Because the house wasn't messed up was it?

S: No, no they were very clean people and I liked that.

B: And you did not have to cook for anyone because no one was there.

S: That is right.

B: But you still got the same salary.

S: Yes.

B: And you actually took care of the house.

S: Yes.

B: Now, did you ever stay over any time?

S: No.

B: Did you ever travel with them?

S: No.

B: Did they ever ask you to go away with them'on travels?

S: No, they did not. They knew not to ask me. I would not have gone.

B: Well, what if they were going away for two or three months and needed you
to take care of them there?

S: Well, they would just have to get somebody else. I had my children.

B: You mentioned they would go on digs. What did you mean by that?

S: Well, he was an archaeologist and they dig. I always say that they dig


for money but they dig more than that.

B: So they would be gone on these different trips. About what was the
longest time they would stay? A month, two, three?

S: Yes.

B: And you mentioned that you had children. How many children did you have?

S: Two.

B: And their names are?

S: Larry and Robert. You know them both.

B: I sure do. Your oldest son is a mortician. Why do you think he went into
that profession?

S: I do not know. From a little boy all around here, if anything would die he
would bury it, and he said that is what he was going to be.

B: A mortician.

S: So, I said, "I do not care what you be, you just have to be something." That
is what I told both of my children. I told them they have to be something.

B: Some people have some desires over others, and so Larry ended up being a
mortician. And you say he actually buried things when he was a child.

S: Yes, and people would call on him, because they knew that. They would
call him when their pets would die or something, and Larry would go get
them and bury them.

B: He would.

S: He surely would.

B: Did he get paid to do it.

S: No.

B: They did not give him anything.

S: No, and he did not want nothing, he was glad to do it. That is something
that child loved.

B: I wonder why. Was there anyone in the family that simply encouraged him or
was it just that he...

S: I say it was when Larry was little, I used to go, I used to love to go to
funerals, but I do not go to them now because I am not able. So I figure
that is why he did it. I do not know.

B: You used to love to go to funerals.


S: Yes.

B: Why?

S: I do not know. I guess just to have somewhere to go.

B: So I guess there wasn't very much to be done in Gainesville years ago was

S: No.

B: Where did black people go for entertainment?

S: Well, we used to go to the picture show, and I think that was about twice a

B: Is this the one on Fifth Avenue?

S: No. You do not know anything about this one. It was up on Second Street.

B: Where on Second Street?

S: Do you know where the white Funeral Parlor was, it is still there.

B: Dorsey's Funeral Home?

S: Yes, well it was along in there, that is where the picture show was.

B: Do you recall the name?

S: No, I sure cannot. But I tell you, I used to go there. A cousin of mine
used to go to the Mets.

B: Now, the Mets that you just mentioned, is that any relation to Sarah Mets

S: No.

B: So the Mets used to run this theatre that was on Second Street.

S: Yes.

B: Any other place in Gainesville that blacks used to go for entertainment?

S: Not that I know of. Not on this side.

B: You mentioned that you would take your three weeks vacation with pay. Did
you travel?

S: No.

B: What did you do for those few weeks?

S: I just stayed home.


B: And did nothing.

S: I just stayed home and stayed around the house and that was it.

B: And when you went back to work after three weeks was the house in a mess?

S: No.

B: Did you get paid for holidays? Did you get vacations or get off on the

S: All holidays were mine.

B: What would they do about their Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners?

S: Well, they would go out.

B: You mean to tell me that you were not there on Christmas Day to prepare
their Christmas dinner for them?

S: No. The only time I would go was if Norma had company and asked me. I
would go. I would do that. But it was very seldom that they would ask me
to do that. Because when I worked first, I do not know why I said it, but
I was glad I said it. When she was asking about the job and telling me
about the job, I told them I am not going to work on holidays. They belong
to me. I just always thought about my children, I wanted to be with them.
I did not want to work any days but I had to. And when night came there
were no lights out there, where I worked in Kirkwood. I did not notice
they had no light. But I had to stay out there.

B: Until eight.

S: And daaaaark, where I parked my car would be so dark and I would just pray
until I got in my car.

B: And you never had any problems.

S: Never had any problems.

B: But you told her when she hired you, you let her know that holidays were

S: Yes.

B: And she did not say anything about it?

S: No, they were very nice people both of them. They were from Boston.

B: Do you think that young people should be trained now to be able to be

S: Yes.

B: Do you think it is a good job to have?


S: Yes, if you get good people, yes it's a good job.

B: Now, of course you did not have insurance and take out retirement did

S: No, they did not take out retirement. I did not have to pay my social
security. The paid it for me, and they said that I wasn't making

B: And so they paid it for you?

S: Yes.

B: You said that your mother used to do what now?

S: Wash for the Shands.

B: And that is Senator Shands [William A. Shands, Florida Senate, 32nd dist.,
1941-1955, 1957 President]?

S: Yes, Senator Shands, him and his wife. They had one child, Elizabeth.
When they first came here they were living on University Avenue,
It used to be what they called Taylor's Flat, but they tore that down
before you were born I guess.

B: Yes, now what was the Taylor's Flat?

S: You remember Newberry Laundry now? You know where the Carpet Mart is?

B: Yes, that is on the west side of the Seagle building?

S: Well this was along in there. It was a long building of apartment houses
and that is where that place was. And they tore it down. I believe they
tore it down or moved it. Anyway they got rid of it. And they used to
live there. My mother was working for them, not working for them she was
washing for them. She used to wash and iron. People used to take in
washing and ironing, you know, and that is what my mother did.

B: Did you ever go and help her do that?

S: Yes.

B: How did she get the wash? Did they bring it to her?

S: They would bring it to her.

B: And did they give you so many days to do it? Like if they brought it
Monday, when would they pick it up?

S: I cannot remember that. But anyway, they used to bring it the first of the
week and they did not pick it up until about the last, you know. They
would give you plenty of time to do it. Because my mother had two or
three families that she washed for and they would bring their clothes and

leave them.


B: I never understood in my reading where people that washed clothes used
boil them. What was the purpose of boiling?

S: We boiled them to get the dirt and germs out. My mother had a great big
old wash pot. It was black, you know. They would rub those clothes and put
them in that pot and boil them. They had a stick that you used.

B: I heard that had a stick they used to beat it.

S: They would boil them and take them up and put more in. But I often sit
down and think about a lot. If my mother was here now what would she think

B: She could not imagine a washing machine?

S: No.

B: We were talking about working at the home. Do the boys when they come to
town get in touch with you, the family that you have raised? You said
that the Mellon boys have grown up now. There were four of them.

S: No, there are two boys, but they are men now. And one of them has a
family, the other one just has a wife. But, they come to the home but
they stay in motels and things, because they do not bring the family there
because that makes work for me.

B: When they see you, is it like they are glad to see you?

S: Yes. And by her not coming kind of late this month, I said probably she
had gone. I mean I do not think she had either, but they're coming over to
spend the weekend. She and Jim would go and spend the week down there
with them if she is able to go. But they did not put the telephone in her
house so I said well, she is gone.

B: Now what do you mean put the telephone here in your house?

S: Theykonnect her telephone to my house, and I get all her messages for
her while she is away.

B: So actually were in charge of the house.

S: Yes.

B: So, while she would be gone on these trips they would call the phone here
and you would take the messages for her.

S: Yes. I guess she will come today or tomorrow.

B: Now if she doesn't come would you call her.

S: No, I am not going to call her. She will be here.

B: You are not going to call her?

S: No.


B: Well, she is going to come then.

S: She will come. See, she is not a well woman either. I am a year older
than her, but I am in a little bit better shape in a way, but she can
beat me walking.

B: Oh, can she?

S: Yes.

B: It's probably all those years that you spent on your feet doing those
different things in the house, that is probably the reason you cannot
walk well.

S: The doctor claims it's arthritis. I do not know.

B: Now, when she comes to visit you does she stay very long?

S: No, she will stay, but he won't let her stay too long because he says she
is all right. She seems to be a nice looking person. But if she combs her
hair right, he would say, "My God, that witch." She looks like a witch,
but she is a nice person. Is that tape machine on?

B: That's okay. Nobody will hear but you and I. Well, how long does she
stay? Does she come in and stay for a few minutes?

S: Yes, she will come in and sit right where you sit and we will start
talking. She will be telling me all what happened in white town, you

B: That is another thing I wanted to ask you. By you working in the home did
you get a chance to get a lot of the gossip of what was going on?

S: Oh, yes I got gossip, but you see I do not ever have any gossip.

B: Oh, you got the gossip but you never had any gossip.

S: Yes.

B: Why didn't you have any?

S: I do not talk about my people. It don't look right, and it is not none of
their business. And I know all what is done over on this side, it can
stay away from my part.

B: But you heard the other part. I guess you got a chance to get a lot of

S: I used to get a lot of information, quite a bit.

B: Now, working in Kirkwood which is a nice section of town, I guess at one
time it was among the better places to live wasn't it, for whites?

S: It still is.


B: Did you know any of the other maids that worked in that area?

S: That is the place that you do not see people. I do not know.

B: What do you mean you do not see people?

S: You may just see somebody coming in, go to the next house. That is all you
would ever see of them.

B: You did not see them anymore.

S: No, and walking around you would never see people.

B: So, I guess the houses were pretty well spaced out that you just did not
see people. So you did not get a chance to see any of the other maids in
the area.

S: No, I did not see any maids. Now, the Duncans, you remember Harry
Duncan's aunt. They lived next door. Now, I would see their maid because
they were right next door but I have not seen her. They all died, and I
have not seen her since they died.

B: About transportation, how did you in the early times when you first
started working, how did you get out?

S: Oh, I had my car when I first started working for them. I already had my

B: Would they pay transportation for you?

S: Yes. And they have taken care of my car for me too.

B: They took care of the maintenance on your car?

S: Sure, I wouldn't have been going out there if it hadn't have been for

B: But you had to have a car to go to work and why should they take care of
your car?

S: I am going to work for them.

B: And they actually took care of the maintenance of your car for you?

S: Yes.

B: Now, you do not mean that if you had to have major work on the car, a flat
tire, they would actually take care of that expense?

S: Well, if I had a flat tire, I always had Triple A. But, if something
happened to my car, I would put it in the shop and they would get it out.
That is true. If I needed a tire, she would pay for it.


B: Well, that was very good, just think about the advantages you had. Right
now, I work with the university and if my car breaks down that is my
expense. So, you actually got hold of a very good family that actually
took care of you.

S: Yes.

B: So, I guess the reason they took care of your car by you having a good car
to come to work, they did not have to worry about picking you up and
bringing you back.

S: That is right because they did not want to do that. They did not want to
be bothered.

B: You say you went to work at ten and got off at eight. Who set those hours?

S: They picked the hours. I did not pick them.

B: Would you have chosen different hours?

S: Yes. I would go on at ten and get off at two.

B: What would keep you busy all day?

S: I did not like the hours. That is one thing I did not like, but they never
did know it. I never told them.

B: And you were there from ten until eight.

S: Yes.

B: Now if you had to do it again, would you work for her again if you had to
work all over?

S: Yes.

B: But you would have different hours.

S: Yes. I would because you have to have different hours now. She cannot
eat late. She used to eat at a quarter to seven.

B: They would eat that late?

S: Yes.

B: Why did they have dinner so late?

S: That is what she wanted.

B: So you actually had to have dinner ready at a quarter to seven?

S: Yes.

B: And does that mean you set the table and you made sure that everything
was ready to serve? You said you served courses every night.


S: Yes.

B: Now did you work seven days a week or five?

S: Five.

B: Oh, so you did not work on Saturdays and Sundays?

S: No.

B: Did she ever call you on Saturdays and Sundays?

S: No.

B: What would they do about eating then?

S: Go out to eat.

B: So they only had Mamie Monday through Friday.

S: That is right.

B: From ten until eight.

S: Yes.

B: And you served dinner at 7:15 and you were out of the house by 8:00.

S: Yes.

B: Now what if you went over, did you get paid more?

S: Yes.

B: You had a very good job didn't you?

S: Yes.

B: Now, when you retired did you refer someone else to work there for you,
or how did they get someone else to work?

S: Well, I have never been off the job, since I started.

B: You never were off the job?

S: No.

B: But, now you have retired now haven't you?

S: Yes, I am retired. But then, you know, it is a funny thing if I feel
tired, I just get on my vacation.

B: Tell me when you had a vacation.


S: Yes, I would get a little vacation and sometimes I would take two weeks,
sometimes I would take one week and go back and get two weeks some other
time, you know. At my convenience.

B: In working there was there ever a time that you felt like you wanted to
simply say that I am going to leave here and not come back?

S: Yes.

B: What would get you upset?

S: I do not know exactly now. But you know when you're older you're upset

B: How long have you been retired now?

S: A year in February.

B: Who is doing the housework for her now?

S: No one.

B: Now you say she comes to visit you. Do you ever go to visit her?

S: No. She asks me to come, but I never have been yet.

B: Why?

S: I just haven't felt up to going.

B: And probably after you would get there, you would see the house in such a
mess you would get there and want to straighten it up.

S: I do not hardly think so. She is not that kind of a person. And this
husband that she married, he is just wonderful. He can take care of her
so nice. I am so glad she married him, I do not know what to do. But I
was sick of her and she got me to stay.

B: And she remarried?

S: Yes.

B: Now, after Mr. Saunders died, did you remarry?

S: No.

B: Well, after her husband died she remarried?

S: She did not have any children. See, her children were all gone and she did
not have anybody with her and she was afraid. And she was getting on my
nerves because she wanted me just to come and stay.

B: She wanted you to stay with her?


S: Well, I could not do that. I was not going to leave my children and go
stay with her. And I was praying for her to find her a companion.

B: And the Lord answered your prayer.

S: The Lord answered my prayer. And you know it was a funny thing. He was
working right there in the museum and she had never met him. They had
never met each other.

B: So she married another museum man.

S: Of course, he does not have money. He has social security and something

B: Now does she have money?

S: Oh, yes, she's got money.

B: Now where did she get her money from? Did her family have it?

S: Her husband had money. Oh, he had plenty of money.

B: For the years that you were with the family do you feel that you were part
of the will?

S: Well, I think I already got mine.

B: You think you have already gotten it then. Was she very kind to you when
you were ready to leave?

S: Yes.

B: Mrs. Saunders, did you ever have a desire to leave Gainesville?

S: No.

B: Why? It is unusual to find a person who was born someplace. Well, you
were born away but you came here, and you have been here almost all of your
life. What made you stay in Gainesville?

S: Well, because I was doing all right, there was not any need to leave. I
did leave Gainesville once you know. I told you that.

B: Now how long were you gone when you left?

S: I guess I was gone about two years, but I did not like it where I was. I
was in Clearwater. I did not like the conditions and things where I was.
There were not any nice homes and things, you know. I just did not like

B: So you came back.

S: Yes. I said I was going to stay in the homestead.

B: Have you always lived in this one block?


S: Yes.

B: Right in this block?

S: Yes.

B: And you had no desire to go any other place?

S: No.

B: Well, that is totally unusual. I am quite sure that I cannot find many
people in this town that was reared in an area, in a house, and is staying
in it right now.

S: Well, let's see I remodeled it two or three times, and I never remodeled it
the last time so I guess that is why I stay here.

B: Now, of the two sons that you have do you think one of them would want to
remain in the homestead?

S: Yes, I know Robert may not, but Larry will.

B: Do you think Larry is going to spend his life in Gainesville?

S: Yes. I believe it.

B: And you think if he marries he is going to bring his wife here. He won't
move some other place?

S: I do not think so.

B: Why do you feel that way?

S: He may not bring her here if I am living, and I do not know that because I
told him he could get married. I wish he would get married. Larry is

B: Right now there are so many married today and if you check back with them
in ten years and they do not have that wife.

S: They sure don't.

B: And I mean there are a lot of people. Years ago when people got married
they stayed together. They took all those ups and downs, but nowadays
they're gone just like this.

S: That is right they just won't take it and I do not know why. And they're
just as well taken.

B: What church have you been affiliated with here in Gainesville?

S: Mt. Pleasant.

B: Now, have you been with Mt. Pleasant all your life?


S: Yes.

B: How has the church changed? Has the building changed very much over the

S: No.

B: Can you recall all of the pastors that have been there since you have been

S: No, I do not think I can. You see because when I was away I cannot recall
the pastors, and I guess I forgot a lot of them.

B: Have a lot of pastors come and gone since you have been there?

S: Yes.

B: Right now there is nothing on the north side of Mt. Pleasant. What used to
be there in the early years where the vacant lot is where people park
their cars? They just tore down a two-story building that was a barber

S: Oh, yes. There was a barber shop there and there used to be a grocery
store, and a drive-in store was there, and I think that was it.

B: Were there ever any doctor's offices in that area?

S: Yes, Doctor Ayres had his office in the building that they just tore down.

B: You mean the grey building, Doctor Ayres had an office in there?

S: Yes. Now the one you know though is his dad.

B: Robert's dad. Now did the building come up to the street right there by
the church? Or was there always some space there?

S: No, there was always some space there.

B: I have been told that Pleasant Street, which it was called then, was where
all of your big shot blacks had buisnesses and things, located on that
street. Tell me some of the businesses that were on Pleasant Street? You
mentioned the Mets Theatre, and you said there was a dry good store.

S: Yes, that was Sullivans.

B: Who had the grocery store?

S: Sullivan.

B: And Dr. Ayres had an office their?

S: Yes.

B: What else was further down the street? I was told that once upon a time
there used to be a jewelry store. A guy used to do jewelry, watches or



S: Well, I do not know about that. I did not know too much about Pleasant
Street because it always was supposed to be a bad street.

B: Oh, it was? What do you mean when you say bad?

S: Well, they said, just like they gave Fifth Avenue a bad name. I guess that
is the way it was.

B: So now, was Pleasant Street the bad street and was Fifth Avenue the main

S: Fifth Avenue did not used to be bad, I don't think. We used to call that
Seminary Street, and it was not bad.

B: Were there a lot of buisnesses on Seminary?

S: No, I do not remember it.

B: You mentioned you did not know very much about it. As a lady, were you
kind of proper that you were not supposed to be on that street?

S: Well, I do not know. I was not on there. But, I do not know if I was
not supposed to be on there. But, I have always been afraid of trouble
now, I tell you. And when I heard bad things, I thought I should not go.
I just did not go.

B: Now when they say Fifth Avenue area, they are talking about the whole
section, but I guess when you are talking about Fifth Avenue you are
talking about the actual street Fifth Avenue.

S: Yes.

B: Well, this was a pleasant place to live, right?

S: Yes.

B: Now, who was your next door neighbor on the corner here? Was there ever
a house on this corner?

S: No.

B: Nothing was on this corner.

S: No, nothing was on that corner, nothing at all.

B: And has Mrs. Griffin always lived next door?

S: Yes, she always lived right next door.

B: Well, have you been very active in the Mt. Pleasant Church?

S: No.


B: Why haven't you been?

S: Well, I just haven't been very active, I just tell it like it is.

B: You were just a member?

S: A member.

B: Can I assume that you were one of the pillars of that church?

S: Yes, I really did my part in there but I was not active, you know.

B: Now was that your father's and mother's church?

S: That was my mother's church. My father's church was Mt. Carmel.

B: And you said this was your grandmother's house. Where was she a member?

S: Mt. Pleasant.

B: And what was her name?

S: Julia Stuart.

B: And your grandfather's name?

S: Walter Stuart.

B: Do you know your great-grandparent's name?

S: No.

B: And your mother's name was?

S: Fannie Schofield.

B: Stuart Schofield.

S: Yes.

B: And your father?

S: Robert Schofield.

B: Now, are they buried in Gainesville?

S: Yes.

B: And what cemetery is that in?

S: Mt. Pleasant.

B: Now that is on what we call Thirteenth. What was it then?

S: Ninth.


B: How do you think they are going to improve the area around Mt. Pleasant?
Would you want to move Mt. Pleasant church from there and put it some
other place?

S: No.

B: Why not?

S: I like it where it is.

B: You do?

S: Yes.

B: Was the church there before the street was named Pleasant Street?

S: Well, I do not know about that.

B: Has it always been Pleasant Street?

S: Yes.

B: And the church is named Mt. Pleasant.

S: Yes.

B: Do you feel that the church is doing its part, playing a major role in the

S: Yes.

B: Has it always been a very prominent active church?

S: Yes.

B: Always a large membership?

S: Yes.

B: Now, I heard--this might shock you--but I have heard that that was always
the church for important niggers and your yellow niggers. Is that true?

S: No, that is not true. No, people just shout that story. Well, I am not
important and I am not yellow, and I have been a member there for years and

B: But now you are a prominent family that has been here for years and years?
The Stuarts. And could that mean that you were prominent to be a member
of that church? I have always heard that, but that is not true.

S: I do not believe that.

B: Now, most churches here that have been here for years have had some
splits. Has there ever been a split of Mt. Pleasant?


S: Yes, there has. Botley Temple split.

B: Oh, did Botley Temple come from Mt. Pleasant?

S: Yes.

B: And about what year was that?

S: I think it was in the 1950s.

B: What caused the split, do you remember?

S: Oh, it was a lady. Now, wait I do not know.

B: What have you heard? I mean, I would just like to know. Because right
now the thing that is happening with Mt. Carmel, I find that totally
interesting. That is the only time that has ever happened in my lifetime.
And I have heard that every church has had some split and I wonder why
people do that.

S: Well, I think it is a shame. I really do. But this lady's name is
Camellia Edwards. She is the one that split, so they say that split Mt.
Pleasant. Well, I know she had it in her house. We used to have church
at her house until we got the temple.

B: And so those persons who built the temple were once members of Mt.

S: Yes.

B: That is interesting. But you never left?

S: Oh no. But they left when you were little. Do you remember Reverend

B: No.

S: I did not think so. Now, I liked him, he was a nice man. He did not care
no more for you than he did for me regardless of your color or your money.
We all were just the same. Now, I like a person like that, but they did
not like that you know. They wanted a big shot, they wanted him to look
up to them but he did not look up to them.

B: Now do you have any big shots in your church?

S: Yes, well they call themselves big shots, you know.

B: But to you they are just people there.

S: Yes, they are just people.

B: Being here and not having very much to do in the early years, were you a
member of any social clubs?


S: No.

B: You have not been a member of a social club?

S: I have not. But you know for years and years, but I am a member now. I
belong to the Bessie Ann Brown circle. I have been a member there for
about ten years.

B: Now what is that?

S: It helps people. You know they have a meeting once a month. And it helps
the church.

B: Now who was Bessie Ann Brown?

S: You did not know Cousin Bessie. Maybe you did not know. You just missed
out then. She was a teacher. I know you are going to remember her
when she was a teacher out at Lincoln. She used to teach first grade.
And they retired, I guess before you started school. But you know Miss
Carolyn Bell. Well, Carolyn Bell stayed in her house.

B: Oh, really.

S: Yes.

B: Now, was Mrs. Bell related to Mrs. Brown?

S: Yes, she was her niece.

B: And so the circle is named after her?

S: Yes.

B: And you have been a member for ten years?

S: Yes.

B: Are you an officer?

S: No.

B: So you are one of those persons that like to just sit down and take it

S: That is right.

B: No leadership at all.

S: No.

B: Just let others who want to do it go ahead and do it.

S: That is right.

B: Well, that is unusual. Usually you find most people who have been here,


here and here but now, sit back. So all your time was given with the
Mullins and your family here?

S: That is right.

B: Most of the homes that I see in this area that are nice size homes. Are
most of those homes are owned by the family that lived in the house? Is
that correct? Were most of the houses in this area owned by the people
who lived in them, correct?

S: Yes.

B: Because I think right here, wasn't there a doctor that lived right across
from you?

S: Yes, Dr. Debose.

B: Now, what kind of doctor was he?

S: Dentist.

B: And wasn't there a doctor who lived further down, Dr. Stafford?

S: Yes.

B: What kind of doctor was he?

S: He was a dentist.

B: Where were their offices located?

S: Dr. Stafford's office was in his, you see that upstairs building by his
house. That was his office. And Dr. Debose's office is on Fifth Avenue, a
little stone building. It looked like a garage I say. It sits kind of

B: Across Sixth Street?

S: Yes.

B: Oh, that building was his office.

S: Yes.

B: Were there any other doctors here besides Dr. Stafford?

S: Debose, Ayers.

B: I was told that there was a black hospital somewhere in the area before
they started taking blacks at the hospital. Where was that hospital

S: Let me see. I really do not know the name of the street now, but you know
where the red light is down there after you leave Dunkins?


B: Yes, that is on Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street right straight down here.

S: Yes, well the next blinking light.

B: All right that is on Fourth.

S: Well, that is where the hospital was.

B: I heard it was there. What was the name of the hospital?

S: They called it the Janie Roe's hospital.

B: Was there a lady here by that name?

S: Yes, she was a nurse and her house is right on the corner of Fourth, and I
do not know what the name of the other street is. Just at her house. She
is dead though of course, now. And the hospital was going down, right
there, and somebody is living there now.

B: But it was a hospital.

S: It was a hospital.

B: And it was her private hospital.

S: Yes.

B: Now, I was told that there were several private little schools also around.

S: Yes, you know where the police officer that used to stand on Eighth
Street, Sergeant Louis. Well, he lived there. That used to be a private
school. I used to go there years ago.

B: You went there to school.

S: I went there to school. The lady's name was Miss Mary Jones. She had a
school there. I do not know what year it was. They would not give money.
We did not have school at the Union Academy, and you had to send your
children to private school, and I went to that little school.

B: Now, you said they would not give you money, what do you mean?

S: I do not know anything about it because I was small, but I know they did
not have any school, and I went to Miss Mary Jones' school.

B: And it was in her house?

S: In her house.

B: And you were taught by Mrs. Jones.

S: Taught by Mrs. Jones.

B: Were there any other private schools that you know of in the area?


S: Yes, the state school. You know where the, they called it .... I only
went to kindergarten there, you know. But they moved it now.

B: Not the Saint Augustine.

S: Yes, the Saint Augustine. Reverend Spinks used to go to school there.
And my sister, she went there.

B: Now I went there. When I went there it was Mrs. Bell. Mrs. Bell was
running it and Mrs. Gibson. And I went there for elementary. Now, has
Bell nursery always been around?

S: Miss Bell and Miss Gibson. You went to Bell Nursery.

B: No, I went to Saint Augustine. There was a lady there by the name of Bell,
but not Bell Nursery.

S: Because Robert went to Bell Nursery. He was younger than you. But Larry
went to Saint Augustine. Miss Bessie Garrison, used to run a private
school. It was down from Dr. Banks' office in the back.

B: Oh, Dr. Banks' office. There was a private school there?

S: Yes, and right next to it there was a big two-story house. I think that
house is still on the corner.

B: And it is still there now right.

S: And the little house is right by it. That is where her school was.

B: Oh, and she lived in a two-story house.

S: Yes.

B: I see. Well, there was about three of four private schools here.

S: Yes.

B: And you went to Mrs. Jones' school?

S: Yes.

B: When you moved here, when you came back here, this street was not paved
was it?

S: Yes, it was paved.

B: There is something I want to ask you. You mentioned that you did the
shopping for the family that you worked for. Did you ever have problems
shopping for the family and being black? Were you allowed to go in any
store that you wanted to and do your shopping?

S: Yes. I had a problem once at the laundry. I wanted to do some rugs at
the laundry and they did not want me to bring my things in.


B: And what did you do about it?

S: And the laundry was on Sixteenth Street but they do not have the laundry
there now. I do not know what is in that place now. But anyhow, I
told them, I said, "These are not my things. These belong to white
people. They are not mine." She told me that I could not come in.
So, I went back I just went back and I told her about it. When I saw her
the next day I told her about it. I do not know what was said because I
was not there but anyway she told me the next day to carry the rugs back
down, and I went back down there and I went right on in.

B: No you didn't.

S: Yes, I did. And I never had any more trouble.

B: No more.

S: No more.

B: Now what about when you shopped? Did you have problems with shopping?

S: No.

B: Now I assume that because you were buying for this white family that you
went into the big supermarkets?

S: Yes, I would go anywhere I wanted to and look at things.

B: And you had no problems?

S: No.

B: But now, you did not buy tablecloths and napkins and things like that for
the house did you?

S: No, no.

B: Because then you would have to go into the other stores and you would have

S: Yes.

B: As a black lady when you were doing your own shopping, clothing, hats, did
you ever have problems in shopping downtown?

S: No.

B: You never had any problems?

S: No.

B: What did you think when they started having the demonstrations all over
the United States to have integration? What did you think about that?

S: I did not know what to think about it. But I will tell you one thing, I


just did not try any of it then.

B: You did not try any?

S: I did not try any of it. And when I came home, my husband told me that
Larry had been out, nothing doing, just to go. and that made me so mad
and scared, but I did not want him to know I was scared. I didn't know what
to do. I was scared to death they'd get my child. He went over here on
University Avenue to the College Inn. He was over there, him and Keneen.
They got in. I do not know how they got in, but they told them, I do not
care how, you get out the best way you can, but you better get out of

B: So you were actually scared for them?

S: I was scared to death. And the child wasn't, but I was scared. That is
the truth.

B: Now, how do you feel. Do you go out at all? Before you retired and
became ill, did you used to go out to have lunch and dinner at these
different places?

S: Oh, yes I would go.

B: And you enjoyed it now, right?

S: Yes, I enjoyed it.

B: So did you ever think you would live to see blacks and whites mixing

S: No, I never did.

B: Do you think it is going to stay this way?

S: I do not know. It is hard to tell.

B: You do not think we will ever go back to that way do you?

S: There would be trouble if we did.

B: Oh, yes. Because see, I will not take what you have taken.

S: No.

B: Just because I am furious. Let me ask you this. Did you not ever in your
early days ever want to go to some of the places that the whites were
going but you could not go, like to the restaurants or to the theatres?

S: I wanted to go to the theatres, but I never really wanted to go to the

B: Really. And did you ever do much travelling?

S: No.


B: So that never worried you about the travelling.

S: No.

B: Have you and your boss ever gone out to lunch or dinner together?

S: No.

B: Why haven't you all?

S: She never has asked me and I never have gone.

B: Now, if she asked you, wouldn't you go?

S: Yes.

B: I would think you would enjoy going out to eat since you did so much
cooking for her?

S: Yes.

B: And I am quite sure that she probably thinks that no one can cook like you
cook. Are there any special recipes that you have that you know you can
really cook well?

S: No.

B: Oh, you have got to have something.

S: No, I do not think so.

B: Nothing.

S: Nothing.

B: Who does all the cooking at the house now?

S: Well, I do a little something.

B: Well, I know you have a special dish that you know you cook very well. I
have heard someone talk about it. What is it? Chicken and dumplings,
something that someone said you make very well.

S: It is not chicken and dumplings because I cannot make any dumplings.

B: You cannot make dumplings?

S: No. All my dumplings are so mushy.

B: Give me at least one favorite thing that you can cook very well. I know
if Larry was sitting here he would probably almost have a fit that you
won't tell me one of your favorite dishes.

S: I just do not know. I don't know the recipes just offhand.


B: But you still can cook very well.

S: Yes, I can cook.

B: Well, Mrs. Saunders I have enjoyed talking to you this morning and I will
ask you this one last question, and then I am going to sneak away. If you
had to tell a young white boy or girl that is just getting started, and you
said that you did not believe in trouble and evidently you have had a
good life because you are still sitting in your home where you were
raised, what would you tell them that they should do to be able to be
comfortable like you are right now?

S: Well, I do not know what to tell them to do anymore, to try to work, be
honest, you know.

B: So you feel if you have a job that is helpful?

S: Sure, that is helpful.

B: Well, you know children nowadays are lazy. They do not want to work.

S: No, they do not want to work. They expect when they work they can get so
much money, but people don't want to pay you so much.

B: Now do you believe in saving?

S: Yes, I believe in saving.

B: But believe in work and being honest.

S: Yes.

B: I have heard a lot of people say that they would love to hire a person
working in their house, but you just cannot trust these people nowadays.

S: That is what they say.

B: What is different than when you started working? You just were a
trustworthy person then?

S: Yes.

B: Well, I have enjoyed talking to you today.

S: Well, I have enjoyed your talking to me.

B: And I am so pleased that you allowed me to have this privilege to sit
here and talk with you. Now what are you going to do the rest of the day?

S: Well, I am going to shell some peas.

B: Shell some peas, what type?

S: Black-eyed.


B: Are you going to cook them?

S: No. I am going to put them in the freezer.

B: You do not hve many to shell do you?

S: I have a half of a bushel.

B: That is a lot of peas.

S: Yes, that is a lot of peas. And let me tell you one thing, I don't think
they all are going to get shelled.

B: You don't.

S: Larry brought these peas here. I won't say anything. I will do the best I

B: That is a lot of peas to shell.

S: Yes, that is a lot of peas.

B: And you do not look like the kind of person that did much shelling years
ago did you?

S: No.

B: You did not?

S: No.

B: But you bought a lot of fresh vegetables, but you did not do a lot of the
shelling and stuff.

S: Yes, I bought a lot of fresh vegetables but peas. But you see, it doesn't
take many peas for a meal, but all these peas this child brought here.

B: That is a lot of peas and you have got to shell them too because after you
keep them for so long they get hard to work with. Let me ask you this one
question. You said you shopped for the family. How did you control the
money? Did they just give you so much money to shop with? How did you do

S: Whenever I would need money I would tell them, and they would give me a

B: Did you have to show receipts?

S: No.

B: They never questioned whether you were spending the money?

S: No.


B: You just said what you needed and they would give it to you?

S: That is right.

B: Well, that is excellent. I have enjoyed talking to you. Thank you.