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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
I: We're taping an interview this afternoon here in Decatur,
Georgia. I'm taping an interview with a former student of
the University of Florida. This is going into our
University personalities file. This is Friday, June 29.
Bob, would you give us your full name?
S: My full name is Robert Marquis Swanson.
I: Where did that come from?
S: It was told to me that I had an elderly uncle at one time
that lived in Alabama by that name, and I was named after
him as far as my middle name is concerned.
I: Bob, where are we located here?
S: At this moment we're in the South DeKalb Shopping Center in
the southern part of DeKalb County, Georgia. We're sitting
in my theater office, which is the main office to the South
DeKalb Twin Cinema. We have two theaters here, and we are
now in my office which directs the policy of the Twin
I: Bob, where were you born?
S: In Kissimmee, Florida. Probably most people know that
location now by Disney World located down in Kissimmee,
S: January 29, 1900. )
I: Did you spend your childhood in Kissimmee?
S: Only maybe two or three years, and then mother with my two
older brothers moved to Lake City. She became a matron
there at what was called at that time the old Florida
I: What brought her to Lake City?
S: She had to support three boys, of which I was the youngest.
I: What were your two brothers' name?
S: Known as Joe and Frank--T.J. Swanson and Frank Marion
I: So you moved to Lake City when you were really just a very
young child. You don't remember Lake City, do you at all?
S: Vaguely--just the general appearance, maybe, of some of the
buildings that were there.
I: As you know if from what your mother has told you, what were
her responsibilities on the Florida Agricultural College
S: Don't forget I was a baby. I presume that she was a matron
there--either housekeeper or in charge or maybe the dining
hall, something like that if they had one. I'm not sure
about that. And then she moved with the college when it
came to Gainesville after the Buckman Act was Passed.
I: The Buckman Bill was passed in 1905, and move was made the
S: We went to Gainesville to live in 1905. Mother had been
appointed matron of the dining hall officially for the
University of Florida in Gainesville at that time, and she
continued there for twenty years in that capacity.
I: What role did she play in the move itself?
S: I don't believe I quite understand.
I: Well, did she help with the move? Did she go over with the
S: No, we just went as private citizens and she took up her
work after arriving over there.
I: There was a lot of opposition in Lake City to the move to
S: I'm not familiar with that.
I: Yes. People in Lake City were not very happy about the
college. There's great resentment against Gainesville, and
they tried to stop the movement in some ways. I thought
maybe your mother was involved in making sure everything got
through all right.
S: Well, I hadn't heard about that.
I: You got to Gainesville. Let's see--you would have been
about five or six years old?
S: That's right.
I: So these should have been kind of early memories for you.
S: Very early. I started to school when I was five, just
before becoming six in the early part of 1906. I went to
grade school there, and to the Gainesville High, where I
graduated in 1916.
I: That was the building down on University Avenue?
S: Yes, East University Avenue.
I: East University Avenue--that's what is now Kirby Smith
S: I believe so, yes.
I: Now, where did you live in Gainesville?
S: We lived first in the end of Thomas Hall. There were only
two buildings there. Thomas Hall was just about completed,
but Buckman Hall had not been completed 100 percent so they
let us stay in the end next to University Avenue there until
Buckman Hall became completed. Then we moved into...let's
call it an apartment, because we fixed it up for Mother and
her three boys. We lived on the end next to what was later
the commons, and we stayed there all of the time we were at
the University of Florida.
I: So you actually lived on the campus?
S: Right in Buckman Hall.
I: So the first residence when you came over as a child from
Lake City was moving on to the campus into Thomas Hall, and
then into Buckman Hall.d Can you remember your first memory
of the campus itself?
S: Quite a bit. I remember two buildings there. There were
only the two: Thomas Hall, named after, I think, one of the
prominent citizens of Gainesville; and Buckman Hall, named
after...I believe it was Senator Buckman [Henry Holland
I: From Jacksonville.
S: From Jacksonville...and those two buildings were the only
ones there at the time, and so it dosen't tax my memory very
much. I was around them all the time playing, you know, as
I: You watched the workmen finish up Buckman Hall, didn't you?d
S: That's right.
I: What kind of an apartment did you have--first in Thomas, and
then in Buckman?
S: Well, we stayed in Thomas just such a very short time that
it was just a matter of two or three months at that one.
Then when we moved over to Buckman, E Section, the one
towards the commons. Why, they gave us the entire first
floor! And of Coursed made private baths for us and
accommodations of that nature. We occupied the lower floor,
of E Section, Buckman Hall.
I: How did you get to school?
S: I walked, which I believe was a good mile and a half, until
I became a little bit ambitious and won a Saturday Evening
Post contest and won a bicycle. And so I pedaled my bicycle
for a long time over to East Gainesville, over to the school
there, and back to the University.
I: How much of University Avenue was paved in those days?
S: I remember when it was flint rock to start with...I don't
believe any of it till you got downtown. Downtown--I'm
speaking of what was known as "the square" in those days--d
but out University, as I recall, was just flint rock worn
I: Kind of a country road sort of thing?
S: That's right.
I: Were any houses out at that area at all?
S: There were very few, as I remember. I couldn't tell you
exactly where the locations were, but I remember it was
sparsely settled at that time.
I: Was this farm land, or was this just open wood property?
S: It was some of both. Some farm land, mostly west of the
University in that direction, but a whole lot of woods
surrounded the building and right close up. I used to go
bird hunting, and when I grew up a little bit I'd say about
300 yards from Buckman Hall. That's how close the woods
were in the city.
I: What was your mother's full name?
S: Sally Joseph Swanson. Her maiden name was Hand.
I: Where was your mother from?
S: She was born in Tuskegee, Alabama.
I: How about your dad?
S: Born in Covington, Georgia, just about thirty-five miles
I: He died, obviously, when you were a child.
S: My father, unfortunately, died just before I was born.s
I: So you didn't know your father?
S: That is right.
I: This left your mother, then, having to take care of the
S: That's right, yes.
I: Now, your mother had the full responsibility for the
commons. Why was it called the Commons?
S: That I did not know. I never did learn that.
I: How was the food served there?
S: Mostly by student waiters, and they had trouble in those
days because colored in the kitchen for the most part. But
the serving was handled by students themselves who wanted to
pay the expenses of going through the school.
I: Did you and the family eat in the commons?
S: Right in the dining hall.
I: You took your meals there?
S: Usually, since Mother would be very busy while the students
were being served, we would wait until maybe a little while
until after that, then would eat at our own little table in
the Commons room.
I: How long did your mother hold that place?
S: From 1905 to 1925--twenty years.
I: Klein Graham was her boss, her supervisor?
S: That's right.d
I: Did any of the faculty eat in the Commons?
S: Not as a regular thing so far as I know.
I: There's no faculty table then as you remember?
S: As I recall, there was not in the early days.d
I: What happened to your two brothers?
S: They are both deceased now.
I: They were graduates of the University?
S: Yes, my oldest brother Joe was a graduated in law college.
I might mention that he and ex-governor, Senator Spessard
Holland, Comprised the John Marshall Debating Team that
represented the university for a while. Frank Swanson was a
graduate of the civil engineering department, and they are
both deceased now.
I: Who was in charged then, DeWitt Brown?
S: No, George Durrell "Pug" Hamilton. We always called him
"Pug". "Pug" Hamilton was the leader of the first
University of Florida band, and I believe it was 1913. I
have a picture in a band book at home somewhere I am playing
or sitting with this band when they had their picture taken,
but I was just a sophomore in Gainesville High School at
that time in 1913.
I: You were in the band, and you weren't quite yet in the
S: That's right. I was on my way.
I: Did you have a uniform?
S: Yes, i had the regular University of Florida cadet uniform.
I: Tell me about me about "Pug" Hamilton.
S: "Pug" was a clarinet player and he loved music. He directed
the band for two or three years if I recall correctly. And
later, after he finished at Florida, I missed him for a long
time, but I heard that he had become a major in the Marines,
and was stationed in Haiti. Later, I heard of his death.
It seems to me that he had become a colonel in the meantime.
But George Durrell "Pug" Hamilton was a very dear friend of
mine in those days.]
I: Was he a student when he organized he band?
S: He was a student, yes.
I: "Pug" Hamilton was a student, and he became band director as
S: His assistant leader, who later became the leader of the
band, was Lucien Dyrenforth of Jacksonville after he left
Florida...originally from Chicago, Oak Park. And "Dearie",
as we nicknamed him, married a local girl in Gainesville,s
Louise Fleming, and later moved to Jacksonville, and then
back to Gainesville. Frank Holland, who was the younger
brother of Spessard Holland, also played in the band. Frank
was the trombone player. Jay Herin...I've forgotten; I
believe Jay was from Tampa. Frank was from Bartow. Jay
Herin was on drums. Frank Spain was the bass drummer. I'd
forgotten who the other drummer was, the snare drummer. I'm
afraid that's about all I can think of right now, until
later on after I entered Florida myself.
I: How much university support did this 1915 band have?
S: Very little>
I: Who brought the uniforms?
S: I don't recall at this moment, unless you were supposed to
furnish your own uniforms in those days. I just don't know
at this time.
I: Dr. Murphree [Albert A. Murphree] was president already of
S: Dr. Murphree, I believe, followed Dr. Andrew Sledd.
I: In 1909.
S: Well, I didn't know the year.
I: Dr. Sledd was president. Murphree was still up at
Tallahassee, and then he became president in Gainesville in
S: Yes, I had quite a few conversations off and on with Dr. A.
I: So you played in the band, and you went bird shooting, bird
S: Had my own orchestra. We did mention that I worked at
school. Well, I paid some of my expenses by having my own
little dance band, which was after I returned from World War
I in 1919. I called it "Bobby Swanson's Floridians,"s
"Famous for Pep." We spoke of Klein Graham a moment ago.
Part of the time klein Graham's younger brother, Paul
Graham, was my drummer.
I: How much did you get paid for an evening?
S: On a four-hour dance, we'd try to get $8.00. If we could
get $10.00 a piece, why, we considered ourselves very lucky.
Even though I was the leader, I split it six ways. We had a
six-piece orchestra there. I might mention an interesting
part of my orchestra--my saxophone and clarinet player was
the famous singer, James Melton. As you recall, James
Melton at one time sang on the Coca-Cola time [a radio
program broadcast in the 1940s] and it started beginning
with Jimmy, as we called him. Jimmy lived in Ocala,
Florida, came to School, and asked me if he could plays in
my orchestra. I said, "Jimmy, you can't read music." He
said, "Well, I know, but I've got a good ear." I knew Jimmy
had a fine tenor voice. Jimmy showed me he could play very
well by ear, and I took him in the orchestra. We organized
a singing trio which was composed of Jimmy and Bob Danison
of St. Petersburg, a banjo player at that time, and Bob
Swanson, a trumpet player. We played together three years,
and not only did we play for fraternity dances and other
dances in Gainesville, like women's clubs and other
organizations, we branched out and played as far down as
Cocoa and Melbourne and Orlando, and out west to Tallahassee
and Quincy and towns like that. So we became good enough to
be wanted in several counties in Florida, both in the
northwest and southern part too.
I: How about some of the early university songs? Were you
involved in any of those like "We Are the Boys"?
S: "We Are the Boys from Old Florida"? There has been a little
misunderstanding thus far about who wrote "We Are the Boys
form Old Florida." Now, I'm going to tell you who really
wrote it. I did. And I'll tell you where it happened. It
was in the Pi Kappa Alpha room over the old Lyric Theater.
Had a player piano up there, and we used to have dances with
the player piano, but in between times I would....
I: Just for the sake of the record, let's locate the Lyric
Theater, down on Southwest First Street.
S: Well, it was on the way down to the post office, the old
I: On the right-hand side.
S: The white building with the columns that you would run right
into, but it was on the right-hand side just before you got
I: That's now Southeast First Street, old South Main Street.
S: Well, I wrote that song and I got the idea from a quartet
that I was a member of in the army after the armistice was
signed in World War I. We traveled about two months in
France entertaining troops. We were part of the show. I
got the idea from this quarter, and I wrote this song in
1919 in the old Pi Kappa Alpha rooms over the old Lyric
Theater in Gainesville, Florida. I'm sorry the only witness
I had to my actually composing this is dead. Bill Tiller
was his name, from Kissimmee, Florida.
I: What were the circumstances which motivated you to write
S: One of these things where I loved music, and knew the
University of Florida did not have what was officially
called a school song. So I said, "I'm going to write one."
So I came forth with "We Are the Boys from Old Florida," and
they used it for a number of years.
I: but they're still using it.
S: Some other people laid claim to it. A person, which I will
not call his name, said that another quartet originated the
song, but they did not. I can even tell you who sang in the
quartet that I had, and we were ones that started singing
it. They were Charles "Pinkey" Kingman from Titusville, who
sand tenor; Carl Alderman, who sang second tenor, from
Palatka, Florida; I sang baritone, from Gainesville; and
Bill Tiller, the boy I mentioned a while ago, sang bass.
And d anybody in those days who remembers that quartet,
remembers that Bill Tiller had the deepest bass voice I've
ever heard in my life.
I: What was the name of the quartet?
S: We acquired a nickname when we participated in one of the
University of Florida's Greater Ministrel show. They dubbed
us the "Prickly Heat Quartet." I think that it stuck for a
Thinking back again to right after World War I, I had become
assistant director of the 124th Infantry band in the
service. When I got out, being interested in show business,
the spring of 1920 rolled around, I directed the University
of Florida Ministrels first half of the show from the
orchestra pit...about twelve or thirteen-piece orchestra,
and then my quartet participated in the olio of the second
half in the second part. Then the students decided they
wanted to have some kind of club--dramatic club, or musical
club of some description--so we all went together and we all
went together and we formed a club called "The
Masqueraders." The following year, which was 1921, they
re-elected me to the same position and I served as director
of "The Masqueraders" club two years, and the student
director of shows that they put on those two years.
I: Do you remember Father Connolly [John Connolly]?
S: Father Connolly was the person who directed... gave it al
professional touch, and I studied under Father Connolly what
little I knew about on a show.
I: What kind of a fellow was he?
S: Very fine gentleman.s He was down-to-earth. He listen to
you regardless of what type of conversations you wanted to
discuss with him. He listened to your troubles. He would
enjoy the good things with you and he was just a fine fellow
all the way. I loved Father Connolly very much.
I: There was a lot of controversy about Father Connolly, I
know, at the time.
S: Well, he really helped us from the show-biz angle, and at
the same time, he was a friend of the boys personally too.
I: Have you lost contact with him?
I: I think he's living up in the state of Maine.
S: I haven't heard anything about Father Connolly in a long
I: Tell me about Jimmy Melton.
S: Jimmy left the University of Florida after three years, and
he went to the University of Georgia. And there he got his
degree at Georgia, right over here in Athens. Why he made
the change, I don't know exactly. From that point on, Jimmy
wanted to follow music but he knew he couldn't read music.
So he went to Vanderbilt, to Nashville, and studied music
along with something else. I've forgotten what it was. But
Jimmy wanted to read music.
I was in New York City two years later. I met a friend of
mine who also knew Jimmy Melton, and he told me Jimmy had
just recently at that time been singing at the Roxy Theater
in New York. At the time, held a two month's contract,
which I believe was the longest run of any star performer in
those times. Jimmy had the longest contract for about two
months with the Roxy Theater, New York City.
I: I heard a story about Dr. Murphree played discovering Jimmy
Melton singing in a choir on campus. You ever heard that
S: No, I never did.
1: I wondered what role Dr. Murphree played in furthering
S: I don't know. He could have had quite a bit to do with it,
but it never came to my attention.
I: Was he the star of the Masqueraders?
S: No, he was not. We had two or three boys that took leading
parts, and Jimmy just participated as one of the cast. He
was no outstanding star in our University of Florida shows.
I: Now who was responsible for casting the Masqueraders,
selecting the material, and really...?
S: Father Connolly did that. He selected the costumes. I
mean, he decided what we needed. Of course, he would
usually get our own costumes made in the course of his
instruction. For example, we had one show, an oriental
show, called "Out of the East", which I was some rich
merchant, and I had following orange robes with golden
turbans and what not. Boy, I was really dressed up. I
mean, that's and idea Father Connolly would do in designing
these costumes, and we would have them made according to his
I: When did you get out of high school?
S: I finished Gainesville High School in 1916. In the fall of
1916 I became a freshman at Florida. April 28, 1917 the
University of Florida band enlisted as a body in what was
then the second Florida regiment of the Florida National
Guard. They just returned from Laredo, Texas. We enlisted
in and became this nucleus for a fifty piece band, and later
on was called out in service and became 124th Infantry in
the 31st Dixie Division.
I: Where did you enlist?
S: In Gainesville. Headquarters Company from Gainesville,
I: Was it a ceremony down on the courthouse square?
S: August 5, 1917...there was quite a bit going on when they
called us out, and we camped on the high school grounds for
a while. We would hold formations over there, and would of
course be downtown around the square, too, in formation
I: And from Gainesville, where'd you go?
S: Camp Wheeler, Macon, Georgia. We spent exactly one year and
one day in Camp Wheeler. Well, we were fortunate enough--
some people would say no--we stayed in Camp Wheeler a long
time, but after we'd been there about five or six months, we
were slated to go overseas as the first division from the
United States Army. But either spinal meningitis or flu
epidemic cleaned us out. We lost several hundred right in
out own regiment of 1,200. Secretary of War Newton Baker
had even come down to Camp Wheeler there at Macon, and had
reviewed the division, which was customary, I understand,
before they were sent overseas. But before the wheels began
to turn, they cancelled our sailing orders. The same thing
happened a few months later, and I might add that in place
of sending the 31st Division over as one of the first, they
got together the Rainbow Division, the 42nd, commanded by
General Douglas MacArthur, and sent the Rainbow Division
over instead of our division, the 31st. We didn't get over
until the latter part of 1918. So weren't over there too
long during the fighting.
I: Where did you land?
S: We sailed from New York. It might be interesting to note
that the ship we sailed on was the Olympic that was a sister
ship to the Titanic of the 1912 disaster. We were the
sister ship. There were seven decks below the water line,
and we had 7,5000 troops aboard. I was fortunate enough to
rate a state room with three other fellows on a "A" deck
overlooking the bow.
I: You sounded like a big shot.
S: We were out three days and three nights. We got orders top
shut up all port holes--don't let any light escape. We
found out very quickly that there were some subs around
lurking in our vicinity, and about the fourth morning when I
went up on deck in daylight, we had some subchasers
crisscrossing our bow, running alongside of us, and criss-
crossing the rear. We landed after seven days in
Southampton, England. We only stayed there twenty-four
hours, and then another ship took us across the channel to
LeHavre, France. From LeHavre they used our outfit as
replacements, and broke us up.
After spending about thirty days in LeHavre, France, I was
sent clean across the other side of France to join another
outfit along wait a couple of other fellows that were in the
same outfit with me.
I: So you didn't join a band then?
S: Yes, I was attached to what was the 320th Infantry band.
The 320th Infantry was from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From
the 124th Infantry I went to the 320th Infantry band in my
same capacity, which was, at that time, assistant band
leader. So I was assistant band leader with the 320th
Infantry band, attached.
I: When were you released from the service?
S: June 8, 1919 in what was then called Camp Jackson--Columbia,
South Carolina--Fort Jackson if it's still intact.
I: After Armistice what did you do?
S: After Armistice, before we sailed back home, I became a
member of a ten-piece dance band that played for the
commanding general's private entertainment. Major General
Ed Cronkite--who commanded the 80th Division, to which I had
been assigned--entertainment quite a bit, and we played for
his functions at different spots over France. That lasted
for about a couple or three months before we got our sailing
I: And then you came back to the United States, and you went
right to South Carolina?
S: We landed in Newport News, Virginia, and thought we were
going to be discharged there, but we found out we had to go
to the camp nearest our home. So I had to come down from
Virginia to South Carolina. I was discharged June 8, 1919.
I: So you came back to Gainesville in the summer of 1919?
S: Yes. I met another boy I believed was discharged from the
service. I happened to run across another boy from
Gainesville, at Camp Jackson and his name was Ed MacDonald.
Ed and I had known each other for a few years, had grown up
together. So Ed and I buddied together and boarded the
train heading for Gainesville, Florida from Columbia, South
Carolina. We both sent wires to our folks that we would be
in about 1:20 a.m. on that old Atlantic Coast Line--right in
the big street, you know. So to make a long story short,
what I'm going to say, when we got right into the city
limits of Gainesville that particular night, after riding
all afternoon, why; we got down on the step of the coach and
were looking ahead down towards the station to get a glimpse
of our family, and lo and behold, there must have been
seventy-five to one-hundred people to meet us at 1:30 in the
morning. Among those were my mother, Ed's mother, and about
a dozen fraternity brothers had gotten word and they stayed
up and welcomed us home. Well, it was quite a big thing in
our eyes. They were mighty glad to see us.
I: Down from the Whitehouse Hotel?
S: That's right, yes.
I: They have their number on red station there.
S: Yes, Yes.
I: So you got back. The flu epidemic was over, wasn't it?
S: Yes, I don't recall the flu epidemic after I returned>
I: The great flu epidemic of 1918. I was going to ask you if
your mother played any role nursing the students or anything
that you know of.
S: No, I never heard anything of that nature.
I: Wasn't your aunt also working on campus?
S: Yes, Aunt Margaret Peeler. My Aunt Margaret was
housekeeper, and she joined my mother shortly after mother
became matron at the University.
I: Is this you mother's sister?
S: Yes. Aunt Margaret became a housekeeper, and she was in
charge of seeing that the dormitories were cleaned up
properly. She had a crew of cleaners that worked underneath
I: Where did she live?
S: They provided a spot there in Buckman Hall for her, too.
I: She had a family?
S: No, by that time, we three boys had moved out, and she lived
I: Did she have a family?
S: Not at that time, no. Just by herself.
I: So your mother worked on campus, and your aunt worked on
campus. How long did Mrs. Peeler stay in Gainesville?
S: If i recall correctly, she stayed twenty years herself, even
though she came after mother did. I think she left in 1925,
1930 maybe. I've forgotten.
I: When you left to go into service, you were in your sophomore
S: No, I was just finishing my freshman year. That was in the
spring of 1917. See, I entered Florida in the fall of 1916,
so in the spring of 1917 was when I left it, and I was out
until the fall of 1919?
I: You re-entered in the fall of 1919?
S: That's right. And a great lover of football, and managed to
make my letter three years in running--1919, '20, and '21.
I: Bob, we're talking about your career as a gator football
player. You said you started in 1919, the fall that you
came back to school.
S: Yes, I resumed my education at Florida. Being a lover of
football, I went out for the team and made it, and what was
called in those days left end.
I: Left end?
S: Left end in those days, and then in this day and times they
might call it tight end. Our coach at that time was known
as Major James Fleet. To those who followed the Korean
War, this was the same James Van Fleet who was in command of
the United States forces in Korea. Well Major James Van
Fleet was a commandant at Florida back in 1919, if my date
is correct, and I believe it is. He was certainly a good
football coach, and he had a way about him that he could get
things out of the boys, and they really played for him.
They'd played hard. Then later on came Coach Buser, I
believe, and then Coach Klein. I've forgotten which one
came first, it's been so long ago.
I: We can get those names.
S: But I played three years and made my letter at what was
called, in that day, left end.
I: Now, where was the football field?
S: It was west of Thomas Hall, or even better still, in those
days the tennis courts were west of Thomas Hall, and the
football field just west of the tennis courts. They had an
old clay field that they played on in those days. I wonder
if anyone ever heard how the name of Gators was given to the
University of Florida football team?
I: Let's put it on the tape. Tell us.
S: One time we were playing Mercer University from Macon,
Georgia, and it was raining "cats and dogs" during the game,
and this old red clay field. every time you would hit
the dirt, so to speak, why you would slide ten feet, and you
were covered with mud. The water was standing on the field
in puddles, and we looked like 'gators. It didn't make much
difference--they played good footballs right on. So
somebody dubbed them as the Florida Fighting Gators. And
that, to my knowledge, is the way the name was acquired.
I: Now how does football differ from the way it is played now?
S: Well, back in those days that I played, you played both
offensive and defensive most of the time. Whereas later on
as you probably know, the platoon system came into effect,
and you played at which you were the better, the defense or
the offense. But we fellows back in those days played most
of the game on both offense and defense.
I: Pretty near the whole game too.
S: Right. Just about sixty minutes if you could hold up.
I: Was the scoring system different?
S: Practically the same. A touchdown was six, and a point
after the touchdown made it seven, and three points a field
goal, and in those days a drop kick through the uprights was
good for three points. We had one drop kicker on our team
around 1920 by the name of Art Newton who was instrumental
in beating Alabama with his drop kicks one time when we were
playing Alabama at Tuscaloosa. We beat them nine to three.
All drop kicks--we got nine.
S: You played some pretty strong teams, nationally known teams,
in those years, didn't you?
I: Well, I played against Alabama, Georgia, both North and
South Carloina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Tulane, to name a
few. Almost all in the Southeast.
I: How was the traveling in those days when you went with the
team? You didn't have your own private jet, did you?
S: We traveled by train, of course. If it was an overnight
jump, why we put up in a Pullman berth. If you were a
rookie on the team, you got the upper berth, and if you were
an old veteran, you rated the lower berth. Everything was
by train, nothing by plane.
I: Life wasn't quite as luxurious in those days as it is now.
S: That's right. In other words, when we played Tulane in New
Orleans, to jump from Gainesville to New Orleans was quite a
long distance in those times, so naturally we had to have
I: What was your fraternity?
S: I'm a Pi Kappa Alpha, known as IIKa or a "Pike."
I: And the fraternity house in those days was the rooms
S: Yes, we had these rooms over the old Lyric theater there,
and we later moved out to the house right beside Mrs.
Ramsey's boarding house, which was probably opposite the
administration building where Klein Graham had his office.
I: In those days they called it Language Hall.
S: Language Hall is what I'm trying to say.
I: Now it's Andersons Hall>
S: Is that right?
I: Named for Dean Anderson [James N. Anderson, former dean of
the University of Florida graduate school.
S: Oh, yes. I recall Dean Anderson very well.
I: The building's still there. It was that two-story, brown
painted buildings, I think, next to the corner.
S: Right across the street from Language Hall, there. Mrs.
Ramsey had a boarding house, and we were next door. The
houses were quite similar--almost twins to look at. That
was our house, and then laster after I left, why they built
at the corner of University Avenues and Ninth Street.
I: It was Ninth then; it's now Thirteenth, and the Flagler Inn
is on that corner today.
S: Right. Well our building that we erected at that corner was
torn down, and now I believe they're opposite the stadium.
They call it Florida Field?
I: Florida Field, yes.
S: And I believe they're out there now.
I: Tell me about the rooms downtown over the Lyric Theater.
S: Well, you would have to enter a door right off the street,
go up a long stairway, and then that would bring you out to
the hallway. You go down the hall a few feet, and to your
right was a dance hall, and across that hall there were
rooms where we had our ceremonies and all events of
fraternity life. We had a nice little dance hall up there,
and a player piano, so I hopped many a time.
I: I'll bet you'll be pleased to know that that building is
still standing, and those rooms are still up there. They've
been turned into lawyer's offices now, but they're still
right up there.
S: Well, that's where ou Pi Kappa Alpha meetings were held
then. I mentioned a member of the band...after "Pug"
Hamilton, Lucien Dyrenforth became director of the band.
Lucien was a 11, and was instrumental in my joining the Pi
Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
I: I was going to ask you how you got into the Pi Kappa Alpha
S: Oddly enough, in those days before a rule went into effect
that you had to matriculate at the University of Florida,
and make reasonably good grades before you could be taken in
the fraternity, I was pledged into Pi Kappa when I was in
Gainesville High School, in 1916. I was pledged to the Pi
Kappa Alpha fraternity at the university, although I had not
graduated from Gainesvielle High at this time, but when I
entered the University of Florida the next fall, I
immediately was initiated in December. But I was pledged by
Pi Kappa Alpha before I finished Gainesville High School.
I: Have you played a role in the fraternity over the years?
S: No,d it's kinda gotten away from me. I have not been active
I: Were you active in the fraternity when you were on campus?
S: Yes, I was. I became one of the officers one time. And of
course, you only have that for one term.
I: What did you study?
S: Well, I studied more music than I did anything else. I
started our and thought I was going to become my true love
was music. I did everything I could to have something to do
with music, like own orchestra, and the shows that the
school put on, and anything like that. I'm afraid I paid
more attention to those kinds of things than I did my
studies sometimes. But I started out studying engineering,
changed over to the law college, and did not complete either
I: So you did not graduate?
S: No, I do not hold a degree.
I: But did try engineering, and you then tried law.
S: Tried law, yes. I studied criminal law under Judge Cockrell
I: And you studied engineering under Dean Benton [John Robert
S: My physics class was under Dean Benton.
I: Mrs. Benton is still living, and I've done an interview with
her. She lives in Gainesville. So how long were you at the
S: I stayed through 1922, and the reason for that was I
maintained my school orchestra. Although I was not in
school, I was still the leader of the school orchestra. We
made a fairly nice little living in those days, because we
had been playing together for three years and were
established. And I stayed through 1922, and in 1923 I went
to Miami, Florida. I lived in Miami from 1923 until 1928.
Then I entered the business I am now in--theater business!
I: What were you doing in Miami?
S: I was playing professionally in dance bands for various
dancers here and there.
I: So you were there doing the Boom?
S: Yes, I did not play music during the Boom. I quit long
enough to sell a few lots near the beach. In 1926 was a
salesman for a real estate firm on Miami Beach, Lummus and
I: You worked for the Lummus brothers?
S: I worked for Newton Lummus, who is the son of the first
mayor of Miami Beach, and Horace Young, who was a very close
friend of Mr. Lummus from Washington, D.C. They formed a
real estate firm and I was the first salesman hired when
they opened up.
I: Where did you work at the Beach?
S: On Fifth Street, between Washington and Collins Avenues, on
I: What was the Miami Beach like in those days?
S: It wasn't built up anywhere like it is today. Collins
Avenue has become the gold coast, so to speak, all along in
that area. All that came later. But of course in D I would
say the building started, all this started. But the Boom
burst; then we had to look for something else to do.
I: I want to ask you more about the Boom in just a moment, but
I want to get back to your life on campus for just a little
bit and ask you about the Masqueraders. Did you continue
with that after the first two years when you served as
S: No, After the second year as president of the masqueraders,
why it was just about that time I left the school. It might
have been I stayed around there until 1922, but in as much
as I was not a student in 1922...I wasn't eligible, in other
words, to participate in the masqueraders.
I: Did you play in the University band when you came back to
S: Oh, yes.
I: So you were both a football player and a band man?
S: That's right, and we have been on many trips, one of which I
will always remember. We used to go down to Fort Myers to
the...we'd called it the "Sun Dance Festival," or something
like that. Every year we would go down there and play, and
then we'd play sometimes in Tampa and other places where
they would have celebrations of that nature. The University
of Florida Band was quite in demand at one time.
I: How was the director of the band after the first World War?
S: I believe DeWitt Brown was the director when I came back in
1919. I'm quite sure..or was it Lew Marx? Lew was a little
Italian man; a very fine musician. Then after Marx left,
why DeWitt Brown came in as conductor.
I: How well did you know Mr. Brown?
S: Not too well--just one of the boys that played in the band.
I: Did you have any friends among the faculty?
S: At that time, you mean? Well, I knew Dr. Murphree, the
president; I knew Dr. Benton over in the Engineering
Department. I knew Dr. Farr [James M. Farr] of the English
Department; Dr. Leigh [Townes R. Leigh] I became acquainted
with after coming back to school in the Chemistry
Department. There might be others, but I don't recall.
I: You didn't have any special friends among the faculty?
I: No man that you were particularly close to?
S: No, I wasn't close to anyone I ever knew of.
I: What did students do for fun in those years?
S: Well, in my case, my time was so taken up trying to play
football, playing in the band, had my own orchestra...
I: Stay in school.
S: ...and participate in the school shows, and try to keep my
studies up that that's about the extent of it.
I: Was there much social life among the students?
S: Not too much. No, not at that time. Fraternity dances were
the main things, and which we really enjoyed so much. That,
for my part, was the greatest enjoyment I had, although I
played for most of them.
I: I remember we used to have ribbon societies on campus.
S: Serpent ribbons and Theta ribbon societies...
I: I belonged to Theta...ribbon society.
S: Theta ribbon society had a red band they wore across their
dress shirts. And the serpent ribbon society wore a green
I: Now what was the purpose of these organizations?
S: No more than social; just a social.
I: Did they compete with each other?
S: Oh, in a way, yes. There's one fraternity that would try to
compete against another fraternity, try to out do them.
I: I hear they used to have some sort of competition; ribbon
pulling, this kind of thing. Do you remember that?
S: No, I don't. I don't recall anything about that.
I: Were you in one of the groups?
S: I was in the Theta ribbon society, but I wasn't very active.
I was just a member. I had so many other activities, why, I
didn't devote much time to the Theta ribbon society.
I: There was no music program on campus, was there? No music
course for which you could get credit?
S: No, there was not, because if there had been, I probably
would have taken it. It was more to my liking than a
surveying instrument, for example.
I: Bob, so you remember the campus around 1920? Think back
what did it look like?
S: Well, there was Buckman Hall, Thomas Hall, and I believe
they built Sledd Hall between the two. The commons was just
off both Buckman and Thomas. Then over a little bit, there
was the agriculture building, I always call it, the
administration building where the pipe organ was.
I: What did you say? The administration building was where the
I: The administration building was Language [Language Hall]. I
guess the organ was in the auditorium.
S: That's right. I'm a little bit confused, probably. The
administration building was way down the other way on Ninth
Street at that time. Yeah but they had, of course, the law
building and Language Hall and Science Hall, and ...
I: Were there sidewalks, or were there just paths through the
S: Paths through the trees. A sidewalk now and then, but
scarce. But mostly we would follow a beaten path through
I: How well did the students know Dr. Murphree? Was he a
visible person on the campus a great deal?
S: Well, Dr. Murphree as I recall, his office was open any time
to anybody that wanted to come in and talk with him as long
as he was not tied up in another matter. He seemed to be
very friendly form that standpoint. If a boy came by and he
wanted to discuss personal problems with him, why, he would
be glad to do so. In fact, I remember one time James Melton
and I went in to see him. We were offered a very tempting
offer in those days to go on Keith Vaudeville in a musical
act. James was singing and saxophone-playing, and me with
my cornet, and I was doing a little bit of singing myself.
And we went to Dr. Murphree to tell him about this offer.
He persuaded us, or left it up to us, but he pointed our the
advantages and disadvantages of going in show business from
a vaudeville standpoint, and we declined the offer, both of
us, and kept in school. But that is an example how Dr.
Murphree functioned with the students.
I: What kind of a church man were you as a student?
S: I wasn't a very good church man, I'm afraid. My mother was
a Baptist, and a pretty good one. I attended the Baptist
church now and then, but so far as being a staunch church
member, I'm afraid I wasn't that.
I: Were there chapel services on campus?
S: Yes, yes.
I: All students had to go to them.
S: That was required, I think, by the underclassmen--freshmen
and sophomores. Optional for Juniors and Seniors.
I: Can you remember any amusing things that occurred between
S: I can remember and amusing thing that happened in the band
one time. As I mentioned previously, we went down to Fort
Myers to play for this Sun Dance Festival, and when we got
off the train in Fort Myers it was dark. We lined up, and
we were headed down a certain street. My good friend in
those days, Frank Spain, now deceased, was the bass drummer,
and he occupied number one spot one of the file. It was
dark when we got there, but the committee asked us to start
of playing right from the depot. Well, little did we know
that when we got down one block we were suppose to turn the
right. Our drum managed to get part of us around, but the
bass drummer, particularly couldn't see over the top as he
went down the street, beating the bass drum all by himself.
And I remember I had to run after him and say, "Hey! Get
back in line!" That was one amusing thing, but I can't
recall any other outstanding thing right now.
I: What kind of a community was Gainesville like in those days?
S: Small town of about 10,000 or 15,000 people, and inasmuch as
I was raised there, I could walk in any store around town
and say hello to the proprietor of the store. Gus Cox's
furniture store, and then of course there was Bodiford's
with Louise LaFontissee, a great friend of mine.
I: What was Bodiford's?
S: A drugstore over on the corner that lead you down to the
post office, down that way. It was the corner right on the
I: Across from Baker's?
S: A block towards the Post Office, across the street from
there, Baird Hardware. I can see it. Yes, I knew quite a
few people in those days simply because I lived there about
I: Where did the girls come for the dances?
S: Oh, besides the local girls, why the boys would import the
girls from Tallahassee, quite often their favorite
girlfriend, and bring them over for the dances, arrange some
places for them to stay. It's something I used to look
forward to back in my school days. Being the leader of the
orchestra to play for the dances most of the time, I used to
look forward to these girls coming in from Tallahassee--
coming up to the band stand and saying hello. When they did
that for two or three or four years, why begin to know a few
of them, so it was something I looked forward to. But that
is where a lot to the girls would come from, from
Tallahassee. You see, University of Florida then, in those
days, was not co-ed.
I: What took you down to Miami?
S: Miami, the magic city. Well, I thought there was a good
place, a live town to try to make a living, and I was
playing professionally, and so I went down and tried my luck
at it and did very well for five years, 1923-1928. That
time, as I said entered the theater business. Would you
care to hear how I?...
I: Well, I want to hear that, but I want to talk a little bit
more about your Miami years. Now, you come into Miami and
you operated your dance band down there for awhile.
S: Well, I played most of the time with other leaders in those
days, after I left Florida.
I: It was a jumping town in 1923 already, wasn't it?
S: It certainly was. Even then it was 30,000 population in
Miami proper itself. It was on the up trend then. Carl
Fisher from Indianapolis was the leading developer of Miami
Beach, and he did a whole lot for Miami Beach in those days,
yes. He was a great developer.
I: And George Merrick out in Coral Gables?
S: And George Merrick--that's all we heard. Carl Fisher on
the Beach, and George Merrick in Coral Gables.
I: How did you get tied up with the real estate firm that you
S: Well, I had played around Miami from 1923 on up to 1926; I
played on further than that. I met this fellow Mr. Lummus,
who was the son of the first mayor of Miami Beach. We
became very good friends, and then he had his buddy down
from Washington, D.C., Horace Young. When they formed the
real estate firm, I asked if they'd be interested in a
salesman. They said yes, and that's the way I got in,
because I knew Mr. Lummus.
I: What kind of a salesman were who? You went out and met the
S: Well, I had the front desk in this office, and people would
come to us.
I: You didn't meet the trains?
S: No, no, nothing like that. Coral Gables went in for that,
where they would meet the trains and have the buses drive
the prospects back to Coral Gables proper, and then treat
them to a lunch or something, and then try to sell them
I: You weren't what they called one of Binder Boys, were you?
S: In a way, yes, I suppose so. I have taken binders on
several pieces of property as I remember back in those days.
I remember I sold one lot to a man for $60,000, a double
corner on Meridian Avenue on Miami Beach, maybe about Ninth
Street, somewhere along in there--I'd forgotten the exact
street. And when the deal was closed, I asked the owner,
who sold it for $60,000, I said, "How much did you pay for
He said, "A man owed me $500 a few years ago, and gave me
that lot to cancel the debt. So I sold it for $60,000."
I: I wonder what it went for when the bubble burst?
S: He turned right around and sold if for $70,000 to another
real estate firm. Well, that's the way things were going in
I: Where were you during the hurricane?
S: I had a house in Shenandoah. You go out southwest 8th
Street (Tamiami Trail) to about Seventeenth Avenue, and the
one block into a subdivision called Shenandoah. I was
living there. My living room was at least a half foot deep
in water before the hurricane finished.
I: Try to remember the hurricane for me.
S: I was still in the music business at that time. I had gone
back into the music business, and had been playing in a
nightclub in Hialeah, and I came in from Hialeah about 3:00
a.m. I take it back--that's when I would usually get in,
but I got in a little earlier on account of the blow. I
came in about 1:00 a.m., and it was blowing very strongly,
and some of the trees and telephone poles were blown down.
We stayed up the rest of the night.
I: Had you had warnings that a storm was coming?
S: Not too much, because the weather bureau in those days was
not equipped to predict hurricanes like they do now, you
know. It hit up in full force. We did get twenty-four hour
notices, I remember, and we tried to board up the best way
we could. It did the damage, if I recall correctly, to
Miami of approximately about $100 million. The house I was
living in was damaged quite a bit from the water, and
windows blowing in.
The hurricane, now...along about daylight that morning, the
wind stopped. Everything was just as calm as could be, and
maybe inside of another hour or two, it started up again,
and the came from the other direction. That was because we
passed through the center of the hurricane, and of course
when the first time it came to us, the wind was blowing in
one direction, and when the other part of the circle hit us,
why it came from the other direction. It is was powerful
then, the second time, as it was the first time.
I went up and looked down Tamiami Trail, which is Southwest
Eight Street, and I could see apartment buildings that
looked like, in some cases, hidden knife had just cut them
off like you slice a piece of bread---you know, a cross
section. You could see a bedroom, a bathroom, living room,
just like you sliced a big piece of bread and cut the
apartment in half. And a lot of them had been blown down.
I: So Miami was pretty devastated. But you stayed on in Miami
for a little while then didn't you?
S: Yes, I entered the theater business, which...
I: In Miami?
S: I was assigned to West Palm Beach to start with, but I had
requested Miami originally, and they sent me down after a
short stay in West Palm Beach to managed a theater in Miami.
I: And this is a movie theater?
S: Movie theater, yes. And I worked nine years as manager of
movie theaters in Miami and Miami Beach.
I: Who were you working for?
S: It was in those days Publix Theater's Corporation, which
later became Paramount Publix Corporation. Later on E.J.
Sparks took over the management of these houses for five
years, and then they reverted back to Paramount Publix
I: Now you were a theater manager?
S: That's right, yes. I was the manager of thirteen different
theaters here in the area back in those days.
I: And what did you do as manager--everything?
S: See that the show got on the screen.
I: Sometimes this meant actually being up in the projection
S: Oh, not as a projectionist, but you had supervision of all
that went on, and it was your responsibility that you saw
that got your show on the film, and it was projected
properly on the screen, advertised before that, properly.
Of course, there's lots of other angles connected-- news--
paper advertising. There's all kinds of advertising, for
that matter, that you had to deal with, and you had to have
supplies to run the theater, and all that came under the
managers jurisdiction and supervision.
I: You were coming into the movie business, then, just about
the time that silents were going out. They were replaced by
the talking pictures.
S: That's right. I entered just as The Jazz Singer came along.
I: You and Al Jolson.
S: Al Jolson made The Jazz Singer, and I had just become a
theater manager at this time. I ran The Jazz Singer in
Miami...I had forgotten just how long, but it would have
been for six months now. In those days, two weeks was a
I: There wasn't very much nudity in the movies in those days.
S: There was none. The dresses were long, and to see even
chorus, says up to the knee, was kind of risky in those
I: My, things have indeed changed, haven't they?
S: They certainly have.
I: Although with the Supreme Court ruling, we may be going back
just a little bit.
S: I hope so.
I: The movie business has been good to you over the years,
S: It certainly has, yes. I was fortunate enough to be
appointed manger-director of this Twin Theatre, and we are
now in our fourth year here. I opened this Twin Theater
complex here three years ago in summer.
I: Tell me what's happened to your mother.
S: Mother left the University of Florida and went to live with
my oldest brother and his wife in Perry, Florida. And she
stayed there until she died.
I: She had just grown old in service, and she retired from the
S: And went over there to spend the rest of her days. She
became a very active church member in Perry. Mother died in
Perry. Later on, Aunt Margaret, when she left, also joined
mother in Perry where they both lived until they died.
I: They were two stalwarts, though of the early history of the
University, weren't they?
S: Yes, I would say so.
I: Now which of your two brothers was Marion Wottenbargar's
S: Frank Swanson. Frank passed away in 1956...Frank and I were
thrown together quite a bit more than Joe and myself,
because Joe was out in Perry, Florida in the Western part of
the state. Frank was in Palm Beach and I was in Miami, so
Frank and I would see more of each other than Joe and I.
I: Did you play any role in the University alumnae or anything
after you left in 1922?
I: You pretty well cut you ties, then, didn't you?
S: That's right.
I: And you still come back to football games occasionally?
S: I haven't in a long time. I haven't been in position to,
and at the same time I don't get around as well now as I
used to back in those days.
I: Well, you still look pretty active to me.
S: Well, thank you. I feel pretty good, but I believe I
mentioned the date of my birth earlier in this...
I: I know, but I recall didn't take that fact. I think you
were just exaggerating a little bit, Bob. So you remember
the university days as being happy days.
S: Very happy, happiest days in my life. It certainly was.
I: Have you kept in touch with some of the people that you were
friendly with back in those days?
S: No, not to any great extent. I just lost track of them.
I've gone my way. I moved to Georgia, and first of all, I
lived in Ohio ten years before I came to Atlanta. I went
from Florida out to New Orleans, and then from New Orleans I
went up to Ohio, spent ten years in the theaters up there.
And I came back down to Atlanta after being in Ohio for
I: Bob, who's your life?
S: My wife is a Miami girl, Evelyn Foster. Evelyn's daddy, you
might be interested in knowing, was the contractor for the
first major construction.
I: What was his name?
S: Irwin Bell Foster, and he and his wife Mary settled in
Miami, and he worked as a contractor all his life until
I: So he lived a long life, had a strong connection with Miami
history too, didn't he?
S: That's right. They settled on some property, some acreage,
in 1909, and they still had it up to 1958.
I: You met your wife then when you were working down there?
S: Well, it was in the early 1930's.
I: Do you have a family?
S: No, just we two.
I: About what else should we say about the University of
S: I believe you've covered everything I could think of.
I: Did you think of everything--nothing else you want for
posterity? Bob, before we finish this interview I want to;
ask you again about your role in composing one of the
traditional songs of the University, "We Are the Boys from
Old Florida" so that we are assured that we would get it in
our record. Now, you tell me this was an idea that you
brought back from service with you.
S: Yes. To repeat some of the things I've said, I was a member
of a quartet that traveled around with a show in France
after the World War I Armistice, and I got the idea from
them. I came back to Florida in 1919, entered school, and
inasmuch as Florida did not have a school song at that time,
I thought I would try and write one. I came up with this
"We Are the Boys from Old Florida". I did the detail work
in the old Pi Kappa Alpha rooms over what was then the Lyric
Theater, down near the old post office there. The only
witness that I had to that is now deceased--Bill Tiller, who
came from Kissimmee, the town where I was born.
I: How did you advertising the song, so to speak?
S: In any function that we were called upon to participate,
why, this quartet, we always make that our opening number.
And possibly our closing number too.
I: Was this the Prickly Heat quartet?
S: Well, they dubbed us that in the minstrel show, but we
didn't have really a name until we sang in the minstrel
I: But really, "We Are the Boys from Old Florida" became your
theme song? It was your song, then you turned it into a
theme song with your group?
S: That's right.
I: Was it associated with you in those days?
S: Yes, by those who knew me.
I: It was known as Bob Swanson's song?
S: Yes, in those days it certainly was, but there were others
who came along later that claimed it.
I: Without any validity?
S: That's correct. Now here's another angle. Somebody said
why that song came from University of Nebraska's song.
Well, the University of Nebraska came out with what
resembled my song in 1924.
I: After your song.
S: Mine, I came out with it in 1919.
I: So somebody might have said the University of Nebraska's
song sounds like University of Florida's song?
S: Probably right. Done quite a bit, certainly was.
I: What about the Alma Mater which they sing now? Not, "We Are
the Boys from Old Florida", but "Florida", our Alma Mater?
S: I'm not familiar with it, since I hadn't had it before, any
contact with "Florida."
I: I think that was also composed sometime in the 1920's, but
after your day and time. Was "We Are the Boys from Old
Florida" played at football games?
S: Yes, certainly was.
I: So this is recognized as Florida's fight song?
S: That's right, one of them anyhow. 'Course, "Cheer for the
Orange and Blue" was another song that was used a whole
I: Now, they don't play that very much, but they do sing "We
Are the Boys from Old Florida" every football game. What
about the swaying, you know, they use when they sing it?
The people in the stands sway back and forth.
S: That's something that came along after my time.
I: After prohibition.
S: I have seen incidents where the student body was singing and
swaying, but I had nothing to do with part.
I: You didn't know about that?
I: Were you there when homecoming first started?
S: Yes, I attended several homecomings way back when. And
usually with one of my three brothers, Frank, who resided in
Palm Beach at that time. We used to make almost every
homecoming for several years.
I: And you enjoyed it?
S: Oh, very much. Frank also made two letters in football in
the position of center, and once in awhile Joe would come
over--my oldest brother from perry, Florida--and the three
of us would get together and have a good time. Joe Swanson
made letters in every sport there, eighteen in all--a
record, I believe.
I: Did you play in other sports--baseball, basketball...?
S: No, not for the school. I would play baseball in the
summertime for maybe some church league or the city of
Gainesville, but when it was baseball season in school, it
was minstrel time or Masqueraders time for me, and I loved
my music more than I did anything.
I: Where did the students go swimming in those days?
S: There was a swimming pool in a wooden gymnasium, and this
structure was close to the infirmary...just a short
distance, a hundred or so yards.
I: It's still there.
S: It was close to the infirmary and the commons. Not too far
from the commons.
I: It's all still sitting right there. There's a two-story
brick gymnasium, too, with an auditorium upstairs.
S: The brick gymnasium was not constructed when I was there,
but we had a wooden building and a swimming pool right on
the outside, and there were those who dared to get on top of
the ledge of the wooden building and dive down into a seven-
foot pool. I was on who did.
I: You didn't go swimming in the sink holes out in the woods?
S: I learned to swim in a sink hole. I couldn't spot exactly
the one, but is was part of the Agriculture Department. It
would be on the way to Ocala, and you'd be going down what
you say thirteenth street going towards Ocala. I'd
forgotten which one it was...not too far from Engineering
Hall, I believe.
I: It's right there.
S: An old tree was bent down over it.
I: The tree is still sitting there. Frankly, you need to walk
around campus. Well, there was a pond out near where my
house is now called Frieze's Pond which the swimming team
S: The name rings a bell, but I can't place Frieze's Pond.
I: Frieze's Pond--it's about a block and a half from where I
S: Well, I've heard that name before.
I: I'm not going to ask you about any of your contacts with the
faculty, because you've already indicated you weren't that
much of a student.
S: No, I knew them from having lived right in the school, and
of course they all knew mother. But I was merely an average
student in those days.
I: You didn't spend much time in the library?
S: No, I'd be thinking of a new idea for a show. And you can
readily understand, because I'm in show business now.
I: Did you compose any of the music?
S: No, that was the only effort.
I: That's a lasting monument to you.
S: That's the only thing I ever did.
I: Swanson's "We Are the Boys from Old Florid." We are going
to establish you now as the composer of that song.
S: Well, I could certainly stand up and face anybody who wants
to say someone else did it. I would be very happy to face
him, because I did it. And you can't get away from that.
I: In your own personal records, did you keep scrap books or
clippings or pictures of those days on campus?
S: I have nothing to show for it, no.
I: What about pictures of your mother and your aunt?
S: Well, most of that kind of thing is in Perry with my oldest
brother's wife, who is still living--Joe Swanson's wife. I
don't recall having a picture handy right now of my mother,
because all of that was sent over there to Perry, Florida.
I: Bob, I think this will pretty well draw our interview to a
close, and I want to thank you very much for taking time
from your own schedule. Just as soon as we get this
transcribed, I will send you a copy of it to check. I will
send you of the cassette tape so you can have it, and you
understand now that we want to use this material after it's
been checked for scholarly and research purposes, don't you?
And you have no objections to that, do you?
S: None whatever. Anything you care to use, why go right
ahead. You have my permission, and in fact, I would just be
glad for you to do so if fulfills any good purpose.
I: Well, it will fit into the program very well, and it's just
exactly the kind of inter view that I hoped we would be able
to get. I want to thank you.
S: Well, it's a pleasure being interviewed by you.