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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
University of Florida
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
University of Florida Project
Interviewee: Albert A. Murphree, Jr.
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
Date: February 3 and February 10, 1969
P: Professor Murphree is Associate Professor of English at the
University of Florida. We will conduct the interview on a
casual, first name basis. I think that the first question I
want to ask you is what is the origin of this Waddie business?
M: It is really a fault of history. It seems that when I was three
or four years old I had great difficulty in pronouncing Albert.
I think that Waddie is probably a corruption from my attempts to
do so. At any rate, something like that may have occurred, and I
would not answer to any other name. So it stuck.
P: So this is of childhood derivation?
M: Yes. They used to say, they tell me, that Waddie was drowned in
P: Give us some of your background.
M: I was born in Tallahassee on February 22, 1908. I lived there one
year before my family moved to Gainesville.
P: Your father was then president of the Florida Female College which
later became Florida State College for Women?
M: No, he was then president of the Florida State College for Women.
P: Yes, but they called it Florida Female College in those early days.
That was its official name.
M: After the Buckman Act?
P: After the Buckman Act. They called it Florida State College for
Women. They changed the name in 1909.
M: Well, that was the year that we arrived here. But I did not know
P: That was its first official name.
M: Of course, before then he had been president of the old West Florida
Seminary. Before the Buckman Act.
P: So, of course, you have no memory at all of Tallahassee, because you
were an infant when you arrived in Gainesville?
M: I don't recall when we arrived here, no. I was about one year
P: What about your family background? Your grandparents and your
family's arrival in Florida?
M: Speaking of the paternal side, my father used to say that there
were three Irishmen who were kicked out of Ireland for horse
thieving. One of them settled in South Carolina, one of them in
Tennessee, and one of them in Alabama. He was descended from the
last. He came to Florida, after having been at Texas, upon his
graduation from Peabody in Nashville. In Texas he was teaching.
He was principal of a school out there, I believe. His subject
was mathematics, and he was called to West Florida Seminary to
teach mathematics. His promotion was rapid, and he finally was
P: Let us go back just a minute, if you don't mind, into the family
history just a little bit. Your paternal ancestors came from
Ireland into Alabama? When did this occur?
M: No. This, of course, was his joke.
P: But your family did come into Florida from Alabama? Do you know
when they settled first in Alabama?
M: No, I do not. Of course, there are many Murphrees scattered all
over Alabama, particularly around Troy. His home was outside of
Gadsden at Walnut Grove. He was one of nine children. Where they
came from, I do not know. Of course, this is folk history. There
are always three brothers who migrated from a certain place; never
five or six or one, but always three. This is really all that I
P: What business was your grandfather in?
M: He was a farmer, but all of his sons became professionals. One was
a doctor, one was a lawyer, one was a dentist, one was a musician,
my father was a teacher, and I think that accounts for all of the
men. The others were women, of course. He never talked about his
family. He never talked very much and such things as he said were
laconic, so we children really knew less about his family than we
did about my mother's family.
P: What about your Grandmother Murphree?
M: She was an Ellis and this was all that I knew.
P: Was it an Alabama family?
M: It was an Alabama family. When my sisters were young it seems that
my father used to talk a little bit more about such things than
when I grew up. They know considerably more about the early family
history that I do.
P: Did you know your Murphree grandparents?
M: No, I did not know my maternal or paternal grandparents. They had
all died before I was born.
P: What about the Henderson's? Your mother was a Henderson, was she
M: Yes. They came early to Florida; I do not know just when. They had
settled in Tallahassee. Her mother was a Ward, and the Wards were
early settlers of Leon County. There is a recent book by the Florida
Press, Mr. Paisley's book From Plantation to Quail, in which some-
thing is said about them. Again, I do not recall too much detail.
My mother died young. But my sisters know a great deal more about
this than I do. She was a young girl when my father was president
of the university. When he was courting her, she was 19 and I think
that he was about 29. I do not know the date of their wedding. This
is information, incidently, if you think that it is important, that
I could dig up.
P: Well, I think we have these facts in the archives, somewhere. How
many brothers and sisters do you have, Waddie?
M: I have one brother and two sisters, two older sisters, Alberta is
the oldest, Martha comes next, and Johnny is the third. There was
a sister between Alberta and Martha whom I never knew. She died,
when she was a child, of diptheria. So there were five altogether
and I was the baby of the family.
P: Where are your sisters living?
M: Alberta is living now in Marianna. Martha is in Coral Gables.
P: Both are married?
M: Yes, Johnny, of course, is living here in Gainesville.
P: What are your sister's names?
M: Alberta Hamilton (Mrs. Guy Hamilton) and Martha Trucksler (Mrs.
P: Now, let us talk about your arrival in Gainesville and your
childhood in Gainesville. Do you remember where you lived, where
the family home was?
M: When we first arrived, I think that we took up residence in that
white house on the corner of University Avenue and Fifteenth
Street which is now the off-campus housing office. Then we
moved over to East Gainesville, in a house which is occupied by
...I do not know whom at the moment. Then, after that...
P: Could you locate the second house in East Gainesville for us?
M: I do not know who lives there now nor who lives adjacent to it.
I could point it out to you. But it is about the middle of the
block across from the Kirby Smith School.
P: So it would be on East University Avenue?
M: On East University Avenue, yes. Then, after that, we moved to what
we used to call the "flats," which is directly across from the
Baptist Church on West University Avenue, where there used to be
a furniture store up until recently. There is not anything there
now, I don't believe. It is next to the Seagle Building.
P: So your home, then, would have been where the Travelodge Motel is
M: Across the street from the Travelodge on the other side, on the
P: Oh, then it would have been right on that site where the furniture
store had been.
M: That house that Lowry converted into a furniture store was the house.
It was an apartment house and we had all of the upstairs. The Crows,
Dr. Crow, had one of the two downstairs apartments, and one-half of
the downstairs, and Dean Ferrie of the Law College had the other
half of the downstairs. There we lived until I was six years old,
going on seven. (I think that I was already seven and had started
school, walking from there to Kirby Smith, what is now called Kirby
Smith, it then was the only Gainesville school). We moved to the
house over on Seminary Street, which is Northeast Fifth Street now,
on the corner of the park. There we-lived until my father died, and
continued to live there for some years afterwards.
P: Now you went to school on East University Avenue?
M: Yes. That was the only school, as I said--except for a private school
called Miss Teabo's--in Gainesville until Gainesville High School was
built on West University Avenue, which later was named after Buchholz
and became known as Buchholz Grammar School. This school was opened
at the beginning of my junior year, so I was graduated from that school.
P: Let us talk about your growing up in Gainesville, your childhood in
Gainesville. What did Gainesville look like, as you remember it?
M: My earliest recollections are those of the time that I was living
at the flats. The street, University Avenue, in front of us, was
not a clay street as I remember someone saying that it was. It was
the Gainesville Sun which published a picture of an old house in
which the statement was made that University Avenue was originally
clay. I don't recall that, ever. But, it was paved uptown...
P: With brick?
M: ...with brick. Some of the same old brick is still to be found on some
of the streets around the square. But, once you receded about two
blocks from the square, from the central courthouse, the street was of
limestone. This was true of University Avenue all the way to the
university. From that locality, which was about three or four blocks
from the square, from the courthouse, to University Avenue (a distance
of at least a mile, I suspect) there were not houses on both sides of
the streets. There were many vacant lots. Behind us there were open
fields where we used to go play and hunt rabbits. The T&J Railroad was,
of course, just about a block away, and there was no paving adjacent to
the tracks. There was a cotton gin down about where the station now is,
the station of the Atlantic Coastline. Going in the other direction, on
the other side of town going east, there were houses on University Ave-
nue up to a spot about two or three blocks west of the Seaboard Air
Line Tracks. In other words, it was very small, the whole area of the
town. Not too many houses, and the population, I suspect, was
two or three thousand. The courthouse was the old red brick
affair with a hedge around it.
P: There was a hedge around it? You remember that? A fence had
earlier surrounded it?
M: I do not recall the fence, but there was a pretty hedge around
it and a fountain for horses to drink out of. Of course, most
of the traffic at that time, the period that I am recalling, was
horse drawn. I recall that we had one of the first cars in town.
That was somewhat later then this period that I am trying to re-
P: The businesses surrounded the square?
M: The businesses surrounded the square. I can remember a saloon on
one corner, Duke's Saloon. That was the southwest corner. Years
later, in the woods that now are Highland, I remember seeing signs
up there advertising the beer and drinks at Duke's Saloon. That is
about all I recall.
P: Can you recall any of the businesses around the square?
M: Well, Wilson's was in the same locality. The City Drug was a drug-
store then as now, though it had a different name. It was called
Miller's in those days.
P: And that was a popular hangout, wasn't it, for the students?
M: That was a popular hangout for the students. There was a clothing
store next to it, about where Ruddy's is now (this is the new
Ruddy's on the north side of the square that I am speaking of) which
was called Burnett's. Then there was another clothing store on the
southwest corner of the square, across the street from Duke's, which
I think was under the same management as the one that you find there
now. Then Baird's Opera House was on the southeast corner of the
square where Cox's furniture store is now. Underneath was another
drug store, Butterford's. Butterford's later moved over to the north
side of the square. I suppose there were actually two or three stores
underneath Baird's theater. The theater was on the second floor and
had not too large an auditorium, but a fairly large stage. It was the
only theater in Gainesville at the time, where traveling plays
used to come and where the University Players later were to
perform, The Old Masqueraders as they were known. Occasionally
movies, like The Birth of A Nation, which was one.
P: Waddie, do you remember the First World War period, the flu per-
iod here in Gainesville?
M: Yes, I remember hearing about a great number of people who were
ill. Then I recall the activity at the university, the old S.A.C.T.
[Student Auxiliary Training Corps] and how many of the students
who belonged to it were called off to the war before they had fini-
shed. It was a time of much grief to many people in Gainesville, as
well as elsewhere. When Col. Walker was the Commandent and old Mr.
Buchholz was the Dean of Men and very much beloved by all the stu-
dents, as his son was to be later beloved as principal of the Gaines-
ville schools. But at that time I was only seven years old; I do not
recall too much.
P: How about your earliest memories of the campus? The physical appear-
ance of the campus.
M: My memory does go back...I don't know why I should remember this
particular scene...to a time when I must have been about three or
four. I can distinctly recall there being only two buildings at
this time, Buckman and Thomas Halls, which were parallel to each
other. I can also vaguely recall the construction of other buildings
which came later, such as Science Hall and the old Language Hall. The
others that followed those were of more recent date.
P: Was it a heavily wooded area?
M: There were a lot of pine trees, mainly, and magnolia, at least on
that part of the campus that abutted University Avenue and Thirteenth
Street. But to the southwest there was a hammock which was almost
impenetrable. This was about where the Reitz Union is now, at least
the center of this hammock. This extended for at least a half-mile
or three-quarters of a mile. Slightly to the east and to the south
of that was the old firing range when later the ROTC was here.
P: This is near where the hospital is now, isn't it?
M: Yes, between where the hospital is and the Reitz Union.
P: That sloped area?
P: Now I want to ask you what growing up was like in Gainesville.
What did a young boy whose father was one of the luminaries of
the town do for recreation and sport?
M: Well, just about everything all the other boys did.
P: What was there available for children to do in those years in
M: There was not a great deal. We had our bicycles and our skates.
We had a movie, when the film was permissable for us to attend
it. Well, that was about it.
P: There must have been lots of time, though, for sports and hunting
and that kind of thing?
M: Well, yes, in the environs of Gainesville.
P: Where did you go swimming?
M: There was not any swimming pool except the university pool, which
I used occasionally--anywhere close to Gainesville. Magnesia
Springs was way off in those days, of course. Lynn Springs had not
yet been fixed. We used to swim in Hogtown Creek occasionally.
P: Before it was polluted?
M: I did not trouble if it was polluted, but I am sure that it was not
as polluted as it is now. Or we went to Freize's Pond, this was one
of the closest places that one could go to.
P: You used to bicycle out there? That was in the woods then?
M: Yes. That was later where the first University Swimming Teams prac-
ticed and held their meets. Fraternities also used to hold some of
their initiations there. Then there was Cokely's Pond, which in
those days did not have any hyacinths in it. But it was not very
refreshing. There were altogether too many alligators in it, too.
But, I suppose we entertained ourselves.
P: Did the schools of Gainesville, in those days, have formal sports
programs, football and basketball teams?
M: Oh, yes. Gainesville was one of the earliest towns to develop a
sports program as a part of the school curriculum, because it was
in a university town, close to the university. So the high school
team became prominent throughout the state before those teams in
some of the larger cities became well known. In fact as early as
1921--1919, actually--Gainesville High School won the state cham-
pionship, and again in 1921: two or three times along there when
Chris Buchholz and Rex Farrier were coaching. But, before that
time, they had been playing football and basketball, competing with
teams from cities like Jacksonville and Tampa on an equal basis.
P: Who were some of your boyhood friends?
M: Max Edell, in my class. Max Edell.
P: These are high school friends, now?
M: High school friends? Well, no. We started together in grammar
school. Max Edell, and Billy Bolton, and Billy Dow, who now lives
P: He was a Gainesville boy though, Dow?
M: Yes, he was born here, went to school here, high school. Through
high school and then on in college, too, he was here. And Bryant
Hires, who moved away, but whose family was well known. His father
was a county judge for years, and years, and years. And Wilmer
Bishop. These were all boys of approximately my age. We were in the
same grade at one time or another. These are the ones I recall most
P: Waddie, tell me about the things that you liked to do as you were
growing up. Were you sports-inclined or reading-inclined?
M: I did a lot of reading, I remember. I also enjoyed sports. When I
was large enough to engage in them I played basketball, football,
and baseball. I also ran on the track team. For many summers I went
off to camp in North Carolina; I guess from about the time that I
was ten years old until I was seventeen, when I was a counselor
there. There I engaged in other sports, including swimming. We
went to picture shows, we had dates, and we used to enjoy singing
a lot, I guess. We did the same things that people did everywhere
then, and young people still do, to some extent.
P: What about your family life? This is one of the things we are in-
terested in, your parents and your sisters and your brother as you
were growing up.
M: We were very close to one another, even though there was a disparity
in our ages. I was four years younger than my brother, and he was
two years younger than his youngest sister. So, I was the baby of
the family. But, despite this difference in ages, we were very close.
It was a very warm family, I think. My mother died when I was young.
My father was very devoted to her and this was a very tragic time in
his life, as I recall.
P: What did your mother die of?
M: This I am not sure. Encephalitus, said one doctor. She used to have
severe headaches, migraine headaches, which I inherited. It was
during one of these headache spells that lasted about a week that
she died. It may have been encephalitus, I don't know. But she was
only about 41, I think, at the time.
P: You were a young boy, too, then, weren't you?
M: Yes, I was just a child really. My father died young also, some
years later. But he was, as I said, a most devoted and loving hus-
P: Was it a warm relationship between child and parent, in terms of you
and your father?
M: Very much so. There was no age gap at all, so far as I was concerned.
I had the greatest admiration and respect for him. He had a very keen
sense of justice and of what was fair, and in the raising of children
he had consideration. He was a very wise father indeed. I do not think
that I could have had a better home life than the one that I had.
P: Was there much permissiveness in terms of what you could do?
M: Yes, this is what I mean about wise. Somehow he effected it..so
indoctrinated me...at any rate, I was so disposed that I didn't
really want to do anything that I knew he would not want me to do;
and when I did I was always very distraught and very ashamed of
it. You might say that he had a dominating personality, but he
did not try to impose it on us.
P: Did you recall resenting having to share him with the public
side of his career? He must have been away a good bit.
M: No, because there were the four of us. My brother and my sisters
always looked after me, tried to. No, I did not have any such
feelings as that at all. I had a great deal of pride in him, as
well as love and respect.
P: As you were growing up, what were your ambitions? What were you
hoping to study?
M: At first I thought that I would like to be a chemist. I had set
up in my house a chemistry laboratory and had performed all the
experiments that one had to do in senior high school before I
took the chemistry course there. I had a cousin at the university
who was a graduate student in chemistry, by the name of Fred
Weedon--he later became the state pathologist in New York--in
whose laboratory I performed these experiments, as well as the
simpler ones at home. But when I got into college and into advanced
chemistry, I discovered that I did not have the mathematical back-
ground that was required. By that time I had fallen under the sway
of Dr. Farr's eloquence, and felt that I would like to be a writer,
perhaps a journalist. Then later--I guess that was inevitable from
the beginning--I became a teacher.
P: Was there any question that you would go to any school but the
University of Florida?
M: No. My brother had done so. My sisters had attended FSU [then Florida
State College for Women]. The older one had gone on from there to
Galcher. She had always been interested in singing, and she became
so interested in singing that she transferred from there to the
Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. But, no, it just seemed I had
given no thought to going anywhere else. See the boys in my high
school class, my graduating class, if they went to the university
at all, they came here. It was just the thing to do.
P: When did you graduate high school?
M: That was 1929.
P: And you enrolled here, then, in September of that year. What about
Gainesville during the 1920s?
M: This was the flapper age, and it was an age, in some regards, not
too different from the present, though we did not do things quite
so openly as the youth today does them. But it was a very lively
and very enjoyable time, one I look back upon with great pleasure.
P: What were the students like back in those days?
M: I would say that they were not too different from the majority of
the students now. There were a few who did not conform to the
pattern, but not as many as do not today. By this I mean that
there were not as many who were socially-minded or politically-
minded as are to be found on this campus today. They enjoyed going
to parties, dating, and having a good time.
P: What about the problem of drinking and smoking in the twenties?
M: They did these things in the same way that they are indulged in
P: Do you recall bootleggers in Gainesville in the twenties, the "dry"
M: Oh, yes. There were many bootleggers scattered around, within and
without the city limits. The drinking was, I think, proportionate
to the student population. It was no less than there is today and
I do not think there was any more. Of course, they could not do
these things openly. The fraternities for instance, had strict
house rules about drinking within the house, but it was all right
to go out to the car parked on the street adjacent to the house to
take a drink and come back in. As far as smoking is concerned, about
the only difference that I can recall was that women did not smoke
in public as much as they do now. In private, in their own homes or
within the fraternity house, for example, they would smoke as much
as they do now, but not on the streets. Certainly not downtown on
the streets. Some of them would not smoke even if they were in a
car passing through town. Otherwise, I do not think that things were
P: How about within your own household, was your father a strict dis-
ciplinarian when it came to things like this?
M: We never had drinks in our house. He was opposed to drinking,
to young people drinking, because he thought that it was harm-
ful. He was opposed to drinking in general because it was against
the law. He was opposed to young people drinking also on the
score that when they drank in groups they tended to get them-
selves in trouble and cause problems on the campus. He was not
as stern a disciplinarian in this regard as some people have
later said. It was not a moral question with him. It was a
social question and a physiological one. He regarded whiskey
as a medicine. He kept a bottle in the house always, and he
would take a toddy to rest him, or to revive him, I should say.
P: So there was whiskey in the house, but it was used sparingly?
M: Yes, by him or by anyone else who was ill. But he did feel--I can
remember him saying many times--that he could not condone drinking
on the grounds that it was against the law.
P: One of the things I have always been curious about, as it relates
to that period, is how liberal, or how conservative was your father?
M: Those terms are so relative to the age. It's hard for me to put
myself back in that age.
P: I really am asking it in terms of the age itself. He has been
quoted as being anti-Catholic for instance, and I am just wonder-
ing if this was a valid statement?
M: This certainly was not. I would say that for the time in which he
was living, from the modern point of view, from the point of view
of many young people today or other people today, he would be re-
garded as a conservative, and he was. But for his time, I would say
that he was a moderate. There were many people that I used to hear
talk who were far more conservative than he. As for the anti-Catholic-
ism, this is utterly false! I can remember his exhorting us many times
to attend church: "I don't care what church that you go to, as long as
you go. It doesn't matter to me."
P: Do you remember the Father Connelly--the Connelly affair--which was
a nasty thing for its time, and probably caused your father and the
university a good bit of embarrassment?
M: It did, but he did not bring such stories home to the house,
so you probably know as much about it as I do. All that I
can remember is that some of the students--he directed, you
know, the Masqueraders that I referred to earlier--some of
the students in it made the accusation against him of homo-
sexuality. This got out, and some of the prominent people in
the city and the state demanded that he leave town. Of course,
they had no authority to enforce that request, nor did anyone
else. Only the church did. It did have the effect, and probably
rightly, of his being disassociated with the Masqueraders, which
was not an official position at all. He received no money from
the state. He did this because he liked to do it. He used to
write the script and the dialogue, and I think that he used to
compose some of the music. And his shows, I do recall, were good
P: Were the people not just as much concerned with the fact that he
was a Catholic priest as they were with the other?
M: When you say the people, I do not know.
P: I mean the people who were critical of him, the people in Gainesville
and the people in the state.
M: Some of them probably were, some of the more extreme Protestants.
P: This was the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan.
M: Yes. But I have never heard that spoken of as the issue. The issue
P: Actually, when I posed the question originally, it was really aimed
at the Catholic feeling, the Catholic bias. I had heard the other
charges brought against Father Connelly, but I was wondering if, in
the context of these times, the people might not have been more
concerned with the fact that he was a Catholic than anything else.
M: I do not think so. Of course, there were many people who were. There
are many people living in and around Gainesville who still are very
much opposed to Catholicism.
P: Your father befriended Father Connelly, as I understand it, and came
to his support?
M: I do not know that.
P: My impression is that he did, arguing that there was no evidence
of this and that he had performed well and had done service for
M: This sounds like him, but I didn't know that. As I said, he tried
not to afflict us with any of his worries. We could tell if he was
worried, but he did not reveal them when he got home.
P: Do you have any memory of William Jennings Bryan?
M: I was going to bring that up. Yes, I remember him very vividly. We
had him for dinner at the house. One of my most vivid recollections
was the occasion when he spoke to the student body out on Fletcher
Field, I guess it was, on a cold, gloomy, windy day without the
benefit of a public address system. I recall the magnificent vocal
apparatus that he had. He had no trouble at all talking over the
wind and reaching every corner of that field, which was just about
filled with students and townspeople. He was in the midst of this
field on a platform, with his long hair waving in the wind, his
black cape billowing, and his voice booming out over it. At home,
at the dinner table, I recall his being very gracious and very witty.
Theirs was a mutual friendship in which each admired the other.
Although it has been said, in articles that I have read, that my
father saw eye to eye with him on the Darwinian hypothesis, this was
not true. My father, I recall many a time saying at the table--this
was one of the few occasions when he did bring his troubles home.
After the Scopes trial in Tennessee, someone introduced a similar
measure, such as Tennessee had, to the legislature in Florida. I
remember my father saying that if this were ever passed he would
resign as president. I think he believed, as many people did believe
then--more people then; still some who do--that it was a hypothesis,
but it should be taught as a hypothesis. I had intended to write Speed
Rogers after he left here, to get him to write me in return what the
truth of the matter was, because I knew that he knew it. But he died
before I ever did that. But he was certainly misquoted on that subject,
has been by many people. Then, speaking still of his conservatism,
there was the famous quotation in the Literary Digest. Can you quote
P: I know the one you mean because it has been quoted so many times. I
have read it in Only Yesterday, and I have read it in the correspond-
[In Only Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen attributed the following
quote to President Murphree concerning the younger generation
growing up in the 1920s: 'President Murphy [sic] of the University
of Florida cried out with true Southern warmth, "The low-cut gowns,
the rolled hose and short skirts are born of the Devil and his
angels, and are carrying the present generations to chaos and des-
P: The rolled hose and so on...
P: The low-cut gowns...
M: Young girls with the short hair, and the rolled hose, and the
P: Things of that sort...
M: ...how they're going straight to Hell or something. I remember my
sister Martha saying that when this appeared in the Literary Digest
some of her sorority sisters told her about it, so she went over to
the library to read it. And there she was with bobbed hair and rolled
hose. She was quite amused by it all.
P: Was your father amused by all of this too?
M: I have a letter somewhere and I will see if I can find it for you.
It was to the effect that he would never trust a journalist again,
how they misquote to make headlines and lift things out of context.
P: I suspect that this was lifted out of context.
M: Let's see, this was about the time that Bryan nominated him.
P: That is right. This was 1924.
M: I remember very distinctly how New York reporters came down to the
house--we were living in East Gainesville then--including one from
the ewYork I was quite excited by all this attention at the
time. But my father was very angry as the campaign went on. He was
very proud that Bryan should feel him worthy, though he never took it
P: His correspondence indicates that he took it very humorously.
He did not treat it very seriously, really. What about James
Melton? That is another name that pops up in connection with
M: This is a true story. I do not remember it, but I know people
who do recall the occasion, and Jimmy testifies to it...
M: ...during one of the chapel exercises.
P: And there was chapel every day in those days?
M: I do not believe that there was chapel every day. I think that
it was three times a week. This was still true in 1925 or 1926
when I came out here. At least, I think that we had chapel once
a week then in the new University Auditorium. But they were
singing something, and Jimmy was up in the balcony, at the rear,
the opposite end of the hall from the rostrum. All of the students
were singing, but my father heard his voice standing out above the
others and asked him to come forward and sing. Jimmy always credits
him with starting him in the field of music and giving him the idea
that he would like to try to succeed in it. This was furthered
later by my father's advice, when Jimmy was a junior and not doing
too well in his studies. My father advised him to quit school and
go up to Nashville and study under the famous DeLucca, which is
what he did. Then, however, he did return to Georgia and obtained
a degree. But Jimmy says this is a true story.
P: He was one of the stars of the Masqueraders, was he?
M: He was one of the men who were associated with Connelly, yes, with
the group when Connelly was directing it. I remember some of the
other students used to say at that time that he was more interested
in his saxaphone playing than he was in his singing. His number con-
sisted of a song, but as an encore he would go back in the wings and
get his saxophone and come and play it instead of singing another
song. How put out he got one night when they hid the saxophone and
he could not give his encore! There was a lot of talent in those
shows, or so it seemed to me then. I don't know what I'd think about
P: Let us get you started at the university.
M: Let me say just one other thing about the conservatism. Apparently,
from what I have been told later, after I became a teacher, by some
of the faculty who worked under him, he was very liberal in his
governing of the institution. I remember Speed Rodgers, on more
than one occasion, used to say what freedom he had been allowed in
the conduct of his department, biology, and how much he appreciated
this. There were one or two others who made similar comments to me.
This was years and years ago, and I cannot recall the details, but
that was the substance of the conversation.
P: How close was your family with the Crows? You lived in the same
M: Very close. The Crows would visit quite often. Those were the days
when people had the time to go around visiting, as they do not do
today. Almost every Sunday they would pop in.
P: They had no children?
M: They had no children. They would always show up on Christmas Eve.
P: Tell me about Dr. Crow. We do not have much on Dr. Crow in the records.
M: He was a scholar and a gentleman which, I think, sums him up. He was
a delightful person. He was somewhat on the formal--some would say
pompous--side, but very kind. He had these interminable tales he used
to tell; whether intended to be amusing or not, they were. For example,
the stories he used to relate of his student days when he was at Wash-
ington and Lee, how he was thwarted in his athletic ambitions both for
the football and baseball team. The son of Robert E. Lee bested him
and took the position of center on the football team, beat him out for
the position of center, and again as catcher on the baseball team.
Otherwise he would have lettered in both sports. Which may be true. I
recall once, not too long before he died, he was showing us through
his house and the additions that he had made on it, particularly the
upstairs. He had made it into a room, a study. So he was showing us
around, and, as we were about to go downstairs again, he said: "Now
in this closet I keep my guns." So after the others had gone down,
my brother and I lagged behind and opened the door, and there was not
anything in it but a mop and a broom. So he was something of a Baron
Munchausen, but, at the same time, I think, a very excellent scholar.
P: He was the family that your family was particularly close with?
M: Yes. Yes, that is true. The Farrs we were very close to, also.
P: What about Mrs. Crow?
M: I cannot think of anything to say about her. She was always there,
a very loyal wife, a very loving wife. She chatted a great deal,
but I did not pay too much attention to what she was saying.
P: You were close to the Farr family?
M: Yes. Dr. Farr and Mrs. Farr. The girls were younger than I, but
they were all so charming.
P: The Farrs cut a sort of an adventurous path here in Gainesville,
did they not, for the twenties?
M: Yes, I guess that is the right word. It was an unhappy ending.
P: Before we get to the ending--which is perhaps the least important
of all--what about Dr. Farr as a teacher, an administrator, and
particularly as a friend?
M: Well, I cannot speak from first-hand knowledge concerning his ability
as administrator, but he must have been good. He must have been
adequate at least. He was Vice-President of the university as well as
head of the department. I cannot recall anything that he did.
P: Did you have him as a teacher when you were here at the university?
M: As a teacher, I can speak for him in glowing terms. He was one of the
best teachers I think I ever had anywhere. One of the most eloquent,
one of the most interesting speakers that I have ever heard in the
classroom. I know that he did not keep up with his subject. Even in
those days administration would take some time, and he enjoyed other
things as well when he was not on campus, such as playing bridge. But
those, after all, were the days before there was any graduate study
or much graduate study here. One did well then simply to keep up with
one's classes, instruct them, I suppose. This he did well, his under-
graduate classes of course. In fact, before his death there were not
many graduate classes held, offered. Yes, I had him in several courses,
and he was a well-trained man, as was Dr. Crow and all the other members
of that first group to come here. As I started to say a moment ago, it
has always amazed me that they should have come here in the first
place. Because they were men, all of them, with degrees from good,
P: And this was something of a backwater community and school.
M: This was nothing, just a beginning. I suppose they must have been
inspired with a great deal of idealism when they first came here.
Here was a chance to develop something. Imagine, coming down into
the sticks at Lake City to begin with, and then here to Gainesville,
back in those days.
P: In many ways we may not have equaled that first faculty.
M: No, I do not think so.
P: Dr. Anderson, for instance, was a first-rate scholar, was he not?
M: Oh, very much so. Anderson, and then Crow, Gurtegin, and the others
from places like Hopkins. They all had ability. Of course, they had
too much to do when they got here to carry on their research, so
they did not publish anything. Well, not very much. But they were
P: Did the Farrs visit in your home frequently?
M: Yes. Well, not frequently really. Two or three times a year, something
P: There was a closer relationship with the Crows?
M: Yes. I think that the reason for this was that the Crows were childless
and they could get out and visit. They came to visit us far more often
than we did them. But we would have them over to dinner, and they would
have us over to dinner, and so on, several times during the year.
P: And Mrs. Farr?
M: Mrs. Farr was a fascinating person and used to serve the most excellent
meals of anyone that I can remember in my youth. The table loaded down
with food, much more than all of us could eat, with two or three meats,
for example, and I do not know how many vegetables. She herself was an
P: And somewhat of an elegant lady, I suppose, for the times?
M: Yes. I guess the townspeople, some of them, were a little
non-plussed by her. She was a lady. Dr. Farr was an interesting
person, an excellent raconteur. He had wide interests and great
understanding and taste.in his own field.
P: What about Dr. Inwald? giWcl.?
M: Inwald I had also as a teacher. He was an interesting teacher too,
with his booming voice that could be heard across the Plaza of the
Americas. He used to drown everybody else out in Peabody. A man who
was very much respected by students. Then, of course, there was Dr.
Leake, who was also very much beloved and a good teacher. It was
always one of my disappointments that I never had him as a teacher.
P: Did you take any work from Dr. Bristle?
M: No, I never had him.
P: Who were the other members of the English faculty?
M: Well, Archie was coming along then, and I had a course or two under
him. He was an excellent teacher. He was in many ways like Dr. Farr,
even to his mannerisms and his facial expressions.
P: This sometimes happens with proteges.
M: He had a good vocabulary and was very gifted with words. Speed Rodgers
was one of the best teachers I ever had. I happened to be lucky enough
to have him in biology. He was tremendous but of an entirely different
type. He was very taciturn in his use of words.
P: And what about Dean Leigh and Mrs. Leigh?
M: The Leighs came later, after my father. He was teaching, and he came
here as a teacher not too long before my father died. I cannot recall
just the year, but it was shortly before he died.
P: He was not contemporary, then?
M: No, not so much. He was hired when my father was still in office, as
I recall, but I do not recall him until after I came back here.
P: How did your father get to work?
M: I think in the early days, he rode a bicycle, later, by automobile.
P: It is charming to think of him riding a bicycle, but nobody, I'm
sure, would have given it a second thought, since everybody did
that. It was a simpler world then.
M: It was so simple that there were not any Deans of Men, and when-
ever a ruckus occurred on the campus the police chief, who I suspect
was probably the only policeman in town, would call him [President
Murphree] up in the middle of the night to come out and do something
with these boys. I remember many an occasion I came along with him.
He would put his trousers over his nightgown, and a coat. As.soon as
the crowd saw him, they recognized his car, they would start running
from whatever mischief they had been up to. One night they had set
fire to a car in the middle of Thirteenth Street and University Avenue.
P: Then old Ninth Street?
M: Old Ninth Street then, yes. This was later, because there were several
policemen. The police force had increased, but they could do nothing.
As soon.as the car drove into sight, I recall, the crowd scrambled into
the darkness on the campus. Not one of them could be found. But this
was the kind of thing that he had to do.
P: You arrived on the campus as a freshman, then, in 1929?
M: 1925. I graduated in 1929.
P: You got your B.A. in 1929, then?
P: What about fraternities on the campus when you came?
M: They were thriving. There were quite a number of them. Just how many
I do not know.
P: You were a KA [Kappa Alpha]?
M: Yes. But they had the prestige, then, I suppose they do not have now.
I do not know what percentage of the student body belonged to them,
but it was certainly a larger percentage than do now. In fact, the
number of the fraternities has not increased too much since those
days, certainly not in proportion to the size of the increase of
the student body. They performed a function that I think fratern-
ities are capable of performing, which was perhaps needed more
then than...Well, I do not know about that. At any rate, they were
strong institutions and were so welcomed by the administration.
P: Where was the KA house?
M: When I came? In the same position as the house that is being torn
down across from the Plaza of the Americas on University Avenue.
It was the home of the Coleson family when I was in college. It
had not been added to or remodeled. It was a big white house with
large white columns in southern colonial style, quite big enough
for the size of fraternities in those days.
P: It was originally the ATO house, [Alpha Tau Omega], was it not?
M: I never heard that.
P: I think it was. I think originally the ATO's had it for a year or
so, before the KA's took it. I may be mistaken.
M: I do not know. My earliest recollection about fraternities would
date, of course, from the time when I was old enough to become
interested in them or at least listen to what was being said about
them, I suppose when I was around the seventh or eighth grade. At
that time, now this would have been around 1917 or 1918, fraternities
had no houses here then. I remember the KA's used to meet downtown,
above Videl's drugstore, or at least the building next to it. Videl's
is still in the same place. It always has been on the northeast
corner of the square. When they had parties or dances, if they were
small ones, they would have them in this meeting room. If they were
large, they usually engaged the Elk's club, which was on the corner
where there is a parking lot across from the Florida Atlantic Bank.
This was an old Victorian-style house. So they started living in
houses on the campus after that date, but I just do not know when
they started using this house.
P: But when you arrived as a freshman, the KA's were in this property
[the old Coleson house]?
M: Were on that property and had been for several years.
P: You took your meals in the house?
M: No. No one had a dining room until the first houses were built by
the fraternities. Among the first houses were the SAE's [Sigma
Alpha Epsilon], as I recall, and the Sigma Nu's. The ATO's had an
old wooden house which had been a private dwelling, converted on that
same property, which they later moved to the lot next door, which
now is being used as a parking lot and rented.
P: Where did you eat, the CI [College Inn]?
M: The CI or Ma Ramsey's. Ma Ramsey's was quite an institution. She
ran this boarding house and dining room for years. Many a famous
Florida politician of later days used to board there when they were
P: And some waited tables.
M: Waited tables. By this time, by the time I was in college, the
Primrose Grill was in existence. Many student waited tables there;
many of us ate there. There were other eating places, like the Kit
Kat. The Pike [Pi Kappa Alpha] house was one of the early ones to
build. The KA's added a wing onto their house, but that was in the
[Interview continued on February 10]
M: I was going through some material yesterday afternoon that I would
like to add. One thing I was impressed by was the obituaries, letters,
and newspaper editorials and comments. One whole issue of the Florida
Alligator had nothing else but this kind of material.
P: I think 0. K. Armstrong reproduces some of this in that little biography
of your father which he published.
M: I have not looked at that since it was first written, so I don't recall.
I do remember at the end there were a large collection of these editorials
and obituaries. What impressed me yesterday was the way the whole state
P: Do you think that for this time he was probably the best know Floridian,
certainly the best known outside of politics.
M: I suppose he was.
P: That is right. The university, by this time, had become an esta-
blished tradition, an alumni organization had been building up,
and he had been in Gainesville since 1909.
M: It was not merely the volume of it, but the tone of it was really
overwhelming. I mean, everyone expressed himself in superlative
statements; there were no matter-of-fact statements, or few. No
derogatory statements of any kind or qualifying statements. We
were speaking the other day about his politics, and I noticed in
his statement given to the press--that he would refuse to be a
candidate though he had appreciated very much the compliment by
Bryan--he described himself as a "progressive democrat." I described
him as a moderate the other day. I do not really remember the politi-
cal situation well enough to know exactly what "progressive democrat"
P: I suppose that it would be, perhaps, as we might define it today,
somebody who would be in the liberal wing of the Democratic party.
This is realizing that there are different issues which divide con-
servatives from liberal today than would be true of the 1920s.
M: He also said in the same statement that he was a 'dry' and a 'progress-
ive democrat'. I guess that's what Bryan would be...
P: Oh, yes! Bryan was always considered to be a progressive, a liberal,
within the ranks of the Democratic party.
M: I always thought that he was a very liberal person, insofar as within
P: The image that you get, though, is not that exactly. Because the
things which have been quoted about him have been like the quotation
from the Literary Digest, which would indicate, if that were true,
that he was out of step with the revolution that was going on in
American morals at the moment. Then, the impression that many people
had, that he was anti-Catholic, I think, would add to that conservative
M: You know, I never realized that this was so. I cannot understand the
source of it, the reason for it. I had never heard it.
P: Well, this, of course, was true of the whole South, and it was the
heyday of the Ku Klux Klan. I suppose this anti-Catholicism, in the
South, at least, goes all the way back to the colonial period.
But there was a great resurgence of it everywhere in the South,
and it was manifested here in Gainesville in 1922-23. I remember
talking to Dr. Leake about this once. I do not believe that there
were any Catholics on the faculty at the time.
M: I can remember one. He was a teacher of Spanish and his name was
Bueno. But I don't know; there may have been others.
P: There may have been others. I just do not know.
M: I do recall that he [President Murphree] thought Sidney Catts was
a fool when he asserted that he was going to have the legislature
pass a bill requiring all Catholic priests to get married.
P: And to enforce inspection of the nunneries and monasteries?
M: Yes, and the way that he spoke of it was with some righteous in-
dignation. This was an attack on religion.
P: There is not question but that your father and Governor Catts were
not particularly friendly.
M: No, it took place over appropriation matters. Though he had been a
guest at the house, at the dinner table. As I remember--of course I
was quite young, I don't know how old I would have been--he was a
very amusing and charming man.
P: Do you remember the case or remember hearing about the case, Waddie,
here where the little negro boy who was helping his mother collect
laundry came into one of the men's dormitory and knocked on a door;
the student became irritated because he was awakened and shot through
the door and killed the boy? This occurred during the Catts administra-
tion. It was sometime around 1917 or 1918. There was a great howl about
it in the newspapers, and it was another issue between your father and
Tallahassee. I am not quite sure what the conflict was, but I remember
that it widened the gulf that already existed.
M: I do not remember that incident. I would have been about eight years
old, seven or eight years old.
P: It is the kind of thing I thought might have made an impression on a
young mind. I have read about it in the Gainesville Sun and in the
Florida Alligator, and, or course, it was reported in the state press.
There was no attempt made to hush it up. What happened to the boy
that was involved, I do not know. The child was killed.
M: No. I do not recall that. I do recall during the war years, when
there were many people in the state and many people in Tallahassee
that were arguing that the teaching of German should be dropped
from the curriculum, and how indignant he got over this. Then
there was the subsequent spy trial of old Mr. Buchholz whom he
defended and who was eventually acquitted. But this was foolish
from the academic point of view as well as from the humanitarian
point of view, as I remember it. He got quite indignant about it.
P: Do you remember the Newel Simms case, the sociologist? This was in
M: Yes. This was the same sort of thing. He used to live over in ou"
neighborhood and would pass on his daily trip to the university;
he walked all the way, I guess. He would carry a little suitcase,
a little satchel. He was a man of somewhat forbidding appearance,
to begin with. People were sure that he was carrying a bomb in that
little satchel. My father had to come to his defence, too.
P: But he was let go. He left the university. Dr. Simms, I believe, is
still living in Wisconsin. I had some correspondence with him some
some years ago. At that time--I don't know that he ever completed it--
he was planning to do his autobiography, and he still had bitter
memories of Gainesville. he said that he was planning to devote one
full chapter to, as he put it, 'the Gainesville situation.'
M: Is that right? What did he say about my father?
P: He did not say anything about that. He was just reflecting on the
climate and the political atmosphere of Gainesville and Florida at
the time, and did not bring any personalities into the correspondence.
M: My memory is not what it used to be, but I think I recall his getting
quite upset about that. Not as much as he was about Buchholz, because
Buchholz had been a close personal friend, he had followed him here
from Tallahassee. In the Second World War, as I remember, German con-
tinued to be taught, despite all the hue and cry against it. And,
similarly, during the Second World War, there were a lot of people all
over the country who again raised the same issue. I was at
Hopkins then, just leaving there, and discovered at that time
Johns Hopkins had discontinued teaching German during the First
World War because of the same feeling. This is just another in-
stance that I remember which makes me believe that he was at
least a moderate in his political attitudes.
P: I wanted to ask you about something that comes to mind. This
would have been after your father's administration. Does the
Tatum-Pritchard case strike a bell at all? Around 1928-29 there
was an attempt made by two politicians to purge the University
of Florida's library.
M: I remember such a purge. I do not recall those names, though,
connected with it. Were they legislators?
P: These were the two. They were legislators, and they attempted to
get the Bertrand Russell stuff out of the library and George
Bernard Shaw's plays out of the library and similar material. I
wondered if you remembered the incident well enough to reflect upon
student reaction and your own personal reaction.
M: I was leaving about that time for Oxford, in 1929. But I think I
recall that students were very much upset. Editorials in the Alliga-
tor were very indignant. That is about as much as I do remember. Miss
Miltmoore, who was still the librarian then, had always put books that
she considered to be risque or harmful to the students in the safe, or
at least kept them under the counter. They were not on the open
shelves. Students used to object to this, also. But I do not remember
anything specific. It is just a general impression that I have.
P: As a student, did.you take any active role in campus politics?
M: No, I did not. I have always been shy, retiring; more so then than
I am now, I guess. I did help on the Alligator, but that is about the
extent of my extra-curricular activities, outside of being in the band
and the orchestra and the glee club.
P: Was there a literary magazine on the campus then?
P: And the Alligator was pretty much of a straight newspaper.
M: Well, my contribution to it was aSa feature editor. I used to
write a column which was printed on the editorial page. One
summer Manning Dauer and I practically put out the paper, but
the Alligator in the summer was not that much to speak of. One
issue a week, I think, and very small. Manning did most of the
work, actually. Somebody else was on that too. I forget who it
was. Layton Denning, I think. But as I remember, outside of the
business side of it, there were only about three of us engaged
on that. That was about the only thing that I did other than
some social organizations. The Sigma Delta Chi was founded here
my senior year. I was elected to announce them to Dad.
P: Sigma Delta Chi is what?
M: A professional journalism fraternity.
P: Would you classify yourself as a good student?
M: Not as good as I should have been.
P: How did the Rhodes scholarship come about?
M: It was Harold Wilson who suggested that I try out for it. Harold
Wilson was then Dean of Arts and Sciences. So I did. The method
of selection then was quite different from what it is now, fortunately.
In those days, two men were elected from each state to a scholarship
during every three years. While it was permitted for students who were
going to universities outside of the state to return to compete, there
was not the distinct method of selection which has made competition
much more keen, much more difficult. In those days, therefore, the
University of Florida was successful in having many, many of its
graduates elected to Rhodes scholarships. Since the new method was
inaugurated, we have had only one. That was Reed Smith who is prac-
ticing law in Tampa. Bill McRay was the last to be elected under the
P: Now, what was the procedure that was followed?
M: First of all you were screened, as now, on the university campus and
local level. Then you met at a central place in the state--on this
occasion it was Jacksonville--to be interviewed by the state committee,
which was presided over by the president of one of the state universi-
ties. This committee consisted largely of former Rhodes scholars, members
of various professions. That committee would select one man in
each of the two succeeding years. Then the third year there would
not be an election, so as to keep thirty-two scholarships in
residence at Oxford continuously. The interview lasted about a
half-hour to forty-five minutes and was conducted in the George
Washington Hotel. Then you were informed of the results afterwards.
The same procedure is followed now except that there is a district
committee of selection, the United States being divided into eight
districts with six states in most of them. In this particular
district were Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee,
and Florida. So two candidates are selected by the state committee
to appear at some central place within the district and then another
committee selects four of the twelve men whom they are interviewing
to the scholarship.
P: What were the dates that you went to Oxford?
M: 1929 to '33. Then I returned here to Gainesville with a bride, an
English bride. This was during the depression, and I had nothing
to do. I applied for a job teaching, but there were no openings.
So I went to Tampa to try to sell insurance. When a job did open
up the second semester, I was informed and came back and took it.
There was an increased enrollment in the English Department, and
so Archie called me back from Tampa. I have been teaching ever
P: So you came back in 1934, you say?
M: Yes, and I started teaching in 1935.
P: That was the year that Dr. Farr left. Did Archie immediately succeed
him as chairman of the department?
M: He immediately succeeded him as the acting head. When this was made
official, I do not know.
P: In other words, the point is that it was Robertson who employed you,
not Dr. Farr?
M: That is right. Dr. Farr was already gone.
P: Who else was in the English Department as you recall then?
M: Alton Morris and Gene Melts had been members of the department
for at least a year, two years, I guess. Caldewell was already
here. There was someone from up North whose name I do not re-
call. Oh, Ed Moore was teaching in the English Department at
that time; and, of course, there was Clark. That was about it.
P: What were you teaching?
M: I was teaching freshman English and sub-freshman English.
P: They were still teaching the sub-freshman courses?
M: Oh, yes! This was the way that you served your apprenticeship in
those days, for five years or so.
P: How many hours?
P: At the lordly salary of what?
P: A semester or a year?
M: I was really better off then than I have been at any time since
having no children.
P: This is also the time that the University College, or the General
College as it was then called, was just beginning.
M: They were just thinking about it then, this first year. I remember
that during the second semester of the spring that the College of
Arts and Sciences, like the other faculties on the campus, spent
the whole spring debating the idea, whether it was good or not. We
used to meet once a week over in Language Hall and discuss it, not
realizing that it had already been decided and we were going to have
the University College. But we did spend a lot of time on it. And
then the following year, in 1936, it was officially inaugurated.
P: Did you teach in the University College at any time?
M: Yes, I did for about ten to twelve years. Fifteen years, except
for years when I was on leave of absence.
P: Where was your classroom? Do you remember?
M: On every floor, from the basement to the attic; the third floor
they call it now. It was more like an attic then, and terribly
P: Was there any graduate work in English?
M: There were a few courses leading to a Masters degree, but nothing
like what we have now. No Ph.D.'s of course, were offered then.
P: Did you teach any of the graduate courses in the 1930s?
M: No. No, I did not. As I said, one started off teaching the freshman
course then. Maybe by the second or third year you were given a
sophomore course, and then gradually did you work your way up to the
junior and senior courses. Now it is hard to get anyone to come here
unless you start them off with graduate courses--men just out of
graduate school. I do not regret that; it was good training.
P: Where did you live when you came to Gainesville in the 1930s?
M: Well, we lived in the old house. My brother and his wife were staying
there, and for a while my sister and her husband were staying there.
But the house was big enough to contain us. As long as we did not have
children it was very pleasant, as I remember. There were no fights, no
fussing. Then this continued until they moved away, we all moved away,
and the house was sold. This was the house that I was referring to the
other day on the corner of the park.
P: Waddie, I want to get back to the 1920s, if I can, and ask you if you
can remember any special things involving the students. Student activ-
ity, any particular incidents of the'time that you either saw or were
M: Well, there are always incidents and happenings. One, I recall, involved
a large group of sophomores who corralled a bunch of freshmen and
shaved their heads. Forty-eight of them were apprehended, including my
first cousin, whom my father suspended. This everlttook place around the
first of October. They were suspended for the rest of the semester.
Later they organized themselves as the Forty-eight Club, and, many
years later, collected money to provide a portrait which is hanging
or was hanging in the auditorium. There were other forms of hazing,
much of it going on at that time. Lighting bonfires in the streets,
pajama parades were the usual thing after a game, if the game were
won. They would form out in front of the College Inn or somewhere
around there and then snake their way downtown and force their way
into the theatres. In fact, the theatres did not try to make any
resistance. They went in and saw a show.
P: This was the Saturday night free show?
M: Yes, this lasted for years. I guess you can remember those? Then the
administration had its embarrassing moments with the Alligator.
P: Do you remember the anonymous papers that were circulated by the
students during the 1920s?
M: I was going to add, concerning the Alligator, that some of the edi-
tors, like Angus Laird or Pardoner Griper--Gardiner Piper is his
real name--and a few others...
P: Who is that last one now?
M: Gardiner Piper.
P: Gardiner Piper?
M: He lives in Miami, a retired colonel.
P: And what did you call him?
M: Well, this was the students' nickname for him: Pardoner Griper.
P: Pardoner Griper.
M: He was, I guess, the Steve Hull of his day, but quite tame as com-
pared to Steve. But he was always griping about something. Of course,
the tone of the Alligator was not anything like it is now. Yes, there
were surreptitious, underground, sub-rosa papers. Piper was responsible
for several of them. One of them, I recall, was named in French The
Whip. Of course, the names were not printed, as they are today.
Pseudonyms were used. But they were quite open in their attacks
upon individuals, as well as upon institutions.
P: How seriously do you think the administration took these attacks?
M: I think, perhaps, the administration certainly was embarrassed, but
I do not think they took great pains to do anything about it, be-
cause everybody knew who the editors were. They could easily have
P: I saw one of these papers, and it was devoted almost exclusively
to an attack on Fuller Warren, who was then a student on campus.
M: I remember that he was an object of attack in one or more of them.
There were several of them, actually, during this period of about
three or four years. Speaking of things that happened in the 1920s,
one could certainly not leave out Fuller because he was, I suppose,
the best known student on campus, and the best knowing. The F Book,
in those days, used to print the names of all of the freshmen, I
guess of all the students in the student body. He would study these,
associate the names with the towns, and had a simply phenomenal
memory. He would meet somebody that he had not seen before and he
would say: "Oh yes, you're from Clewiston" or wherever it was. The
next time he would pass this boy he would call him by name, call
him by his nickname. This reminds me of a story concerning my father
who also had a phenomenal memory for names. In fact, it has been said
--and I think that it is true--that he knew the name of every student
on campus during the year of his death when there were two thousand
students. At any rate, my sister had a date one night, and my father
went to let the boy in at the front door and told him to have a seat.
Then he went back into the back hall and shouted upstairs, "What is the
name of your date?" My sister was busy getting dressed and she said,
"Oh, his name is Brandy." which, of course, was his nickname. Later on
this boy said, "Your father is the most remarkable man. He not only
knows who I am, but he knows my nickname." Brandy was the name that he
had been given because of his fondness for the bottle. He was quite
embarrassed about it.
I remember Fuller most vividly on Sunday afternoon out between
Thomas and Buckman [Halls] when he would get on a soap-box and harangue
all afternoon. He could out-talk people I later saw on Hyde Park corner,
on any and every subject, and he was never at a loss for words. But, on
the whole, he was well liked. In fact, he held student offices. I
believe that he was president of the student body once, and he was
a cheerleader, I recall.
You know, getting back to my father, Angus Lfard told me a
story about two years ago that might be worth recording. You should
ask him about it, because I cannot remember the exact details. But
he said something like this. He happened to be in my father's office
about three months before he died, at the opening of the fall term in
1927, and my father showed him a note which predicted his death in a
short time. But it was rather crypticly worded, and this is what I
cannot remember, the phrasing of it, which really gives point to the
story. They laughed about it, and Angus forgot about it until some-
time later. He said nothing about it at the time of his death in
December. I am sorry I cannot recall; in an anecdotal history this
might be worth recalling.
P: Had your father been ill at all during that year of 1927?
M: No, it was a strenuous fall. He had been to the meeting of the state
university presidents. He was president of the association, and he
had done a lot of traveling. But, yes, he did have some aching in
his arm, which he attributed to soreness of muscles, and he went to
old Dr. Manchestor to have him see if he could help. This probably was
a warning of the angina from which he died, but it was not recognized
at the time. That was not but a few weeks before his death.
P: Do you remember the time of his death. Were you living here in Gaines-
ville or going to school at the time?
M: I was living in Gainesville, but it was during the Christmas vacation
and I had gone.to spend a few days with Dick Trucksler who had an
apartment out here near the campus. I had a term paper to write, and
this would make it easier for me to get to the library. It would be
quieter there than it would be at home and so I did this. Then, it was
just after Christmas; I believe he died on December 27. Somebody called
up Dick and they drove me home, telling me on the way about it. He had
gone to sleep the night before and never woke up. My sister found him
the next morning and said there was a smile on his face. Apparently he
passed on without any struggle, no indication of pain.
P: And no history of a heart problem?
M: No history of a heart problem, but it was diagnosed as angina. No,
no history as far as we know.
P: Was he a man who took care of himself, in terms of diet and exer-
cise, the things that we are so sensitive about today?
M: He never dieted that I recall, but he did play golf considerably
in his later years. He took up the game after my mother's death
for purposes of distraction more than anything else, but he be-
came very fond of it and very good at it. As I remember it, be-
fore that time he had a large bat window, but after he started
playing golf this disappeared. As I remember it he was in very
P: The picture that I have of him shows him as being a fairly large
M: He was a large man. He was about six feet. He weighed about 190
or 195, but there was certainly not any protuberance, any belly,
and his biceps were large. He held a course record out here for
a long time. In fact, he was one of the several who suggested
the building of this course. He was the first president of the
golf association. He used to get out as often as he could.
P: So this was his major recreation?
M: This was his major recreation. His only recreation, actually.
Before then, he used to enjoy swimming. We used to go to Daytona
many times during the summer, whenever we could. Just the two of
us sometimes, to swim. He liked the surf. He enjoyed fishing. There
used to be somewhere around the campus a tarpon--down in the museum
is where it was--what he had caught which at that time was of record
size. But I think that it was just the same thing that kills so many
presidents, like Miller, the stress and strain of the university--at
his age, I mean.
P: How well did you know Dr. Tigert?
M: Well, I would say that I knew him quite well. I got to know him after
I returned, for he had been here for only a year before I left. BUt
when I returned I used to see him very often.
P: What did you think about him as a person, as a president?
M: Well, he had an unusual personality. Perhaps this should not be
kept in the record, but I remember Mrs. Farr disliked him, thought
he was a crude Yankee. Of course, he was not a Yankee at all. Be-
cause he did not get up when she would come into his office. At the
first graduation ceremony he used the word belly and several other
expressions that offended many of us. Dr. Tigert also had a knack of
putting his foot in his mouth. But, while he was unguarded sometimes
in his speech, I had the greatest admiration for him. I think that he
was one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever known, and
humble. Particularly in his later years, he used to say to me how
much he admired my father, how much my father had done for the univer-
sity, and how much he lacked what my father did have. His concern for
us was carried to a degree beyond any need. Of course, we deeply
appreciated it. And as has often been pointed out, I think what he
did for the university in founding the University College was its
salvation, because at that time it was getting more deeply mired in
vocationalism. Whatever you may think of the University College, I
think it was necessary then and the only thing that saved the liberal
arts on this campus. But he had a humility that Miller did not have,
and a considerateness that Miller did not have, although Miller had
many other qualities that were superior. He was more like Reitz in
this respect. I remember one of the first things that Reitz did was
to provide a car to go pick up Dr. Tigert and Cline Grimm to be his
guests at a football game. Cline Grimm already by that time was
practically immobile. Little deeds of thoughtfulness of this kind
were characteristic of Tigert as well as of Reitz. Tigert did commit
some follies. I remember Clayton telling me once--Clayton was his
lawyer, his advisor--that when he was accused of drinking he was go-
ing to deny it, and Clayton told him that he could not do that. But
there were not many instances of this kind of folly. I think that the
university was very fortunate to have him at that time.
P: He fitted in with the times very well.
M: Not the least of which was bringing, which he worked hard for you
know, the chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and attained for it a national
recognition that it had not previously had.
P: He also strongly advocated the Latin American Program here. That was
one of the things that he was very proud of, I know. He really gave
the university a national stature that it had not had. He complemented
what your father had done. Your father had pulled the university
up to a point where it was recognized as really the senior uni-
versity in Florida.
M: Yes, but I guess that would have been inevitable since it was a
university for men for many of the years, for all the time that
he was there. No, not all of the time. Because I think that his
last two years women were admitted here.
P: In 1924 the first woman was moved into Pharmacy.
M: But it was still a male school. I remember finding in his desk that
he used when he first came here, which I now have in my office, some
notes on the need for a graduate school. It was stuck to the bottom
of a drawer of the desk. So I took the whole drawer over to Miss
Miltmoore, thinking that the archives might want to have them. I
never did get the desk back. I suppose that the notes were preserved.
But the graduate school really did not amount to much at the time of
his death, though he tried to push it more.
P: But it did begin to move up under Dr. Tigert.
M: Yes. The greatest struggles that my father had--and I suppose that
this is true of every administration, but these are what I remember
him talking about and complaining about most--were those of adequate
financing. In particular, he could not get money for the graduate
school. He used to get mad at Ken Roddy because Ken Roddy had used
his girls to go to the legislature to persuade the legislature to
appropriate more money that should have gone to the University of
P: Waddie, this is just an opinion question. Why do you think that Dr.
Tigert, with his strong educational background, his work as U.S.
Commissioner of Education, and his Rhodes scholar background, always
seemed like such a country bumpkin? Was this an affectation that he
developed and it became a part of him? Did he always talk like this?
M: It goes back to his early training, it must be, because it was so
ingrained in him I do not think that it could have been an affecta-
tion. I doubt that he was aware of it. His big voice. It was not
polished on certain occasions, but let us say that there was not too
much finesse about him. He blurted out the first words that came to
mind. But this rough, clumsy exterior really betrayed a very brilliant
mind underneath it.
P: We were talking about Dr. Tigert and at least his surface lack of
sophistication, but I think that we would agree that he was the
right man at the right moment for the university, and he did do a
great deal for the university.
M: He did!
P: Not the least of which was Mrs. Tigert.
M: She was one of the most gracious and charming people I have ever
known. She was a perfect president's wife and a perfect wife.
P: Do you think that Dr. Tigert was treated rather unfairly or shabbily
at the end of his career here at the university?
M: Yes, I do.
P: I am talking, of course, about the Scott inquiry, the 1946 incident
which led up to his resignation in 1947.
M: This related to the drinking charge that I just referred to briefly
a moment ago.
P: And this is a matter of record already.
M: I mention this only because it surprised me, as it did Irwin Clayton.
Not on the moral grounds, but on the stupidity of it, the folly of
it, I should say. I do not suppose many people know this unless Irwin
talked about it. But Carwell had it in for him, for some reason, and
I thought that he was treated in the most disgraceful way, actually.
I think he was very much hurt about it, too, hurt by it. The details
I do not know.
P: Well, the details are a matter of record in the archives. What about
M: Dean Hume I knew so casually that I can say that I really did not know
him. He impressed me as a man of great ability, and I think that he
would have made a fine president, had he wanted to be or if he had
been wanted. But I really do not know anything about him.
P: But you did know Dr. Miller?
M: Miller I knew, yes, fairly well. He was always very gracious,
though Miller was far more self-centered than Tigert was or than
Reitz was. He was not as considerate. It goes beyond that. I
think that he was a little proud. I do not say this to condemn
him; this was just his nature. He did not think of these things,
and as I said, he was self-centered. I do not recall that he
ever mentioned Tigert's name at any public occasion, such as
graduation or any other similar ceremony after he came into office,
or that of anyone who had proceeded him. Miller, of course, was
not as accessible. The University had become too big for him to
be so, though this really had happened during Tigert's administra-
tion. So I did not get to know him as well as I did Dr. Tigert.
We called on him shortly after he arrived, when he was living
over on the east side of town. On that occasion I had an oppor-
tunity to make an impression upon him but I flubbed it. As we
were leaving the house, they both came outside onto the sidewalk.
There was a snake in the shrubbery which came slithering out across
the pavement. They were both scared to death. They had just come
to Florida, and I guess they thought this was... He was just a
little grass snake, but I think for aesthetic reasons more than
anything else, I did not want to squash him with my heel of my shoe,
so I let him slither on back into the bushes. This was much to
Mrs. Miller's alarm because she did not know how she would do her
gardening thereafter. But they were most gracious on that occasion
and on every subsequent occasion that I saw him. But I did not
know him as well. Reitz of course, I had known when he was on the
faculty. He was more like a colleague, all the time he was in
office, than a superior. Steve I knew as a student, as most of us
did. I predict that he is going to make a very fine president.
P: If he can just shake down to it.
M: Once he learns the ropes.
P: And if he can just adjust to the Alligator.
M: He has learned so much so quickly.
P: Yes. Yes. Do you want to say anything about Dr. Farr?
M: Well, I said previously that he was one of the best teachers I
think that I have ever had, one of the most interesting lecturers.
This is really what I mean. And a friend I was very close to him.
I could not believe the story when I returned and was told about
it. I never repeated the story, not even to my family. My father
used to say about him, "What a pity it was. This man with so much
ability which he is letting go to no useful purpose." He was
thinking, particularly, of his ability to write, all of the books
that he had in him that he could have done had he not been more
interested in playing bridge.
P: Was it a mistake that he was made an administrator?
M: Probably. Of course, administration did not require too much time,
on the departmental level, in those days because the departments
were so small.
P: Of course, he was vice-president, too.
M: Yes. On state occasions he made a very distinguished impression,
and was always capable of saying the appropriate thing at the
P: Did you see Dr. Farr after they left Gainesville?
M: Never did. I am very ashamed about it, that I did not go up to
Jacksonville to see them.
P: You kept in no contact then, with Mrs. Farr or the Farr girls?
M: No, except through Mrs. Glumer. Mrs. Glumer used to go visit her
frequently and would always tell me how they were getting on. But
I never saw him again.