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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Dr. F. W. Kokomoor
INTERVIEWER: Robert Johnson
DATE: August 17, 1973
J: This is an oral history interview and the date is August 17,
1973. We're in the Florida State Museum of the University
of Florida and today I'm speaking with Dr. F. W. Kokomoor,
retired professor of mathematics here in the University of
Florida. Dr. Kokomoor, let's get started by asking you a
few personal items here. You were born where and when, sir?
K: I was born in a place that was then called Santa Claus,
Indiana. It's still there but later on, our mail was de-
livered to us through a rural route from Dale, Indiana.
So my address for most of the time was Dale, Indiana, Rural
J: Whereabouts is that in Indiana?
K: That's in southern Indiana, Spencer County, about a third of
the way up the river from Evansville to Louisville.
J: What date were you born, sir?
K: June 10, 1890.
J: So you're eighty-three.
K: Eighty-three, that's right.
J: Now, were you reared in that part of the country or did you
move away from there as a child? Tell me a little bit about
your background. For instance, your parents and so forth.
K: I was born there and the youngest in a family of ten children.
We lived on a farm. My oldest brother, the oldest child
in the family, was gone from home before I was born, as a
matter of fact, on his own. But we lived and were raised
on this farm in southern Indiana and I graduated from the
high school in Dale, one of the two first graduates that
that high school ever had. It was made, what they called
in those days, a commissioned high school; that isn't a
fully accredited four year high school. About the time
I was half way through, they only taught two years up to
that time so I stayed two more years and I graduated. I was
one of the two first graduates of the Dale High School.
J: I see.
K: And I lived around there until I went away to college.
J: Now, I see your father was a veteran of the Civil War. Were
you, let's see, when did he die, sir? Were you old enough
K: He died in 1909.
J: That's good. So, in other words, did he ever talk about the
war with you too much or...?
K: Well, he didn't care too much about talking about it. He
had a tremendous experience throughout the four years of
the Civil War. Some of my older brothers, especially one
of them, the one we called Doc (he became a doctor), and he
was more successful in pumping my father to get a lot of the
information. I got most of what I know about my father
and his war experiences through my older brother.
J: I see he was captured and he remained there in Libby Prison
[Richmond, Va.] for a while.
K: Yes, he was shot twice, once through the thigh and once in
the right shoulder. And the bullet remained in his right
shoulder the rest of his life--it never was removed. So
he was captured and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, kept
there for six months and then I believe the Union soldiers
got pretty close to Richmond. They were afraid that Richmond
would be taken, so they moved a lot of their prisoners,
maybe all of them to Andersonville.
J: Andersonville, in Georgia.
K: So my father spent the last thirteen months of the war in
J: That's in Georgia. He was quite fortunate then to live through
that. I've been to Andersonville. It's a rather notorious
place. Do you recall anything about Andersonville that he
K: I was told through my older brothers of some of the experiences.
Of course, they formed this prison right out in the open fields,
you might say. There were a few trees around there and they
cut most of them down to make room for this, that, or some-
thing else and then they built a big fence out of logs.
They used the trees, I guess, to set up the posts to form
the fence. And they just herded these men as fast as
they could get them into this prison camp. They had no
sanitary arrangements of any kind, just a little brook
that ran through there that had fairly fresh water to
start with, but soon it became stale and stagnant and putrid,
so it must have been a pretty tough place to live.
J: What got you interested in mathematics over the years? Was
this as a young person or did you have to wait until you
got into college before...?
K: No, very young. I guess if I gave you a very brief answer,
one particular teacher got me interested in mathematics.
He was principal of the little two-year high school which
I attended in Dale and I took several courses with him and
then got so interested in mathematics I kept right on.
J: So, in other words, right from the start, you were, had this
interest in mathematics.
K: Oh, yes. I never could quite get rid of it, although I did
even try, because, as I said before, I was very much interested
in going into religious work too.
K: In which I wouldn't have used very much mathematics, but I
always got back to mathematics in a very short time.
J: I see you worked on a farm and also as a carpenter to earn
money for college. Was it pretty rough in those days? This
was around 1911, 1912? Tell me something about your college
K: Well, of course, my biggest handicap was the lack of money.
We had no relief organizations of any kind, no fellowships,
no scholarships, any source of getting extra money or even
borrowing money unless you knew some private person who
could help you out financially, so, for two years, I worked
at carpenter trade mainly because I had brothers who were
carpenters and I worked with them, made a little money. And
Valparaiso University in northern Indiana was, was at that
time, known as the poor boy's school. It was a large school.
J: Is that still in existence or has it changed its name?
K: It's still in existence, but it has changed its title
entirely because it, at one time, almost faded out of
existence and then I believe the Missouri Synod of the
Lutheran Church took it over and rebuilt it. They have
a very good creditable school, but it's altogether
different from the type of school which I attended.
J: I see.
K: But, I went to "Valpo"--they called it "Valpo" back in that
K: Uh huh.
K: And the first job I got--well, I had to--you won't believe
this and if anybody else hears that tape, they won't believe
it either, but when I got there, I got there so late that
I couldn't get a job for the first term. They had three-
month terms just like we have here now, don't we? Three-
J: It's quarters.
K: Quarters, the quarter terms, well they did then. And when
I got there, I was too late to get a job. I had a little
money, I'd paid in advance $16.80 for twelve weeks of
board. Figure it out for yourself. At $1.40 a week. And I
didn't buy as much as a bag of peanuts extra. I lived off
of that. Of course, we got oatmeal every morning for break-
fast and an apple and maybe a little something else that
I can't think of now. Milk, of course, with the oatmeal.
Each Monday or each Tuesday or each Wednesday of each week,
each meal we had the same thing that we've had that same day
of all previous weeks.
Then the second term, I got a job washing pots and pans
in this same dining room owned by the university called Heritage
Hall. It's still there, I understand. They have remodeled
it a little bit. Keep it as a sort of a historical site,
I think. But, anyway, I got a job washing pots and pans
there for my board, and then later on, I made a little
advancement. I got a job as janitor in Music Hall. It
wasn't quite as messy as washing pots and pans, but my last
year was the big thing. I got a job as teacher of Univer-
sity Physiology, which was a required course for all
pharmacy students. That was a much more suitable job.
J: You say pharmacy students. Were you interested in that at
K: No, no. The reason why I happened to get this job was because
I had a few electives that I could take and I was always,
always thought that I would be interested in, in learning
more about the human body...
J: Uh huh.
K: ...and so I thought I'd take this, what they call University
Physiology. I just took it as an elective.
J: I see.
K: I liked it very much. I did very well in it, I think. Any-
way, at the end of the year, the professor asked me if I
didn't want the job to teach the laboratory. Of course, I
had taken that laboratory, worked through that year myself.
As well as class work. And that's how I happened to do that.
I was not connected with pharmacy students at all.
J: But you were very glad to have the job?
K: I sure was.
J: Now you graduated with a B.S. degree in 1915.
K: That's right.
J: What were your plans after that? Did you more or less set
out on your own for the first time, or did you have a connection
here or there that...?
K: Well, I'm ashamed to answer you honestly, but I'll have to.
I didn't have any plans. I didn't know whether I could do
anything. I was doing all right very well, as a matter of
fact in my classwork, and schoolwork and so on, but I was a very
timid person. I couldn't go out in the world among
strangers, and do what I had seen lots of other people
do. So I was just more or less finishing the course. But
somebody from the Georgia Normal College and Business Insti-
tute came to Valparaiso and was looking for a teacher of
mathematics mainly, a few other things along with the
mathematics. And he had gone to the office of the vice-
president who, at that time, handled the placement work,
whatever placement work was done by the school at that
J: Uh huh.
K: Something like Mr. Mayberry does here. I believe Mr. Mayberry's
still on the job here.
J: Yes sir, I think he is.
K: Well, anyway, he recommended me. I had never told him I
wanted, but he just recommended me to this man and this man
looked me up and talked to me and asked me if I wanted this
job and that's how I got into the teaching. I went down to
Douglas, Georgia and took this job as teacher there in what
they call the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute.
J: What was Douglas near? Is that near Atlanta or Macon or...?
K: No, Douglas is about 150 miles north of us here. It's pretty
much in the central part of the state. It's north--a little
bit east and north of Valdosta. It's a pretty good-sized
city. At that time there were two schools there. One of
them I mentioned. What you'd call it now would be more like
a junior community college.
K: And they taught a little more than maybe a year, probably
close to two years of college work and you'd have to go some-
where else if you wanted to finish your college work. And
there was another school called the Eleventh District Agri-
cultural College. That was a state institution too.
J: Of course, in those days, back until very recently, there was
segregation. Were there any black students at all in the
K: Oh, no. No, back in those days, that was the unthought-of
thing. There were plenty of black people around, all around.
They had their own schools.
J: I see.
K: How good those schools were I don't know because I wasn't
connected with the teaching of--but in our school, in the
Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, there were
no blackSat all.
J: Uh huh. But what type of math courses were offered in those
days? Was there general math?
K: No, they didn't offer a general mathematics at all. It was
always something like algebra--arithmetic, of course, algebra,
and, and maybe an advanced course in algebra and geometry,
plane geometry, solid geometry, following pretty much the
pattern of the old Euclid's geometry. They didn't have
what we had called later on general mathematics.
J: I see.
K: Or comprehensive mathematics, which we didn't have any. They
had each subject pretty well separated into algebra, geometry,
trigonometry, and analytic geometry and so forth.
J: At about this same time, perhaps earlier in fact, you became
interested in the ministry, the Methodist ministry, or was
Valpo a Lutheran school in those days?
K: Well, it wasn't either one. It was an independent school
not connected with any religious organization when I went
J: The Lutheran church later on....
K: I got interested in the Methodist work because I was brought
up that way. Back in the community where I grew up, these
were German people who had come to Ohio first or Kentucky.
If you'll notice on my mother's side, they settled in
Kentucky, but they all came from Germany. I'd say the first
generation I think this must have happened, they came into
contact with the Methodist people. And so, they formed what
they called the German-Methodist Church, which was exactly
like what we now call United Methodist Church.
J: I see.
K: But they were organized as separate conferences in order
that they could take care of German-speaking people. A
lot of the people couldn't understand any English. A lot
of them brought up in the German Methodist Church. They
spoke nothing but German when I was a little bit of a
youngster, but by the time I came home, the tenth in a
family of ten children, they were getting to talk quite a
lot of English at home and everywhere else.
J: I see.
K: So I didn't have too good a chance to talk German. I can
talk German, yet I can understand German even better. I
can read it quite well, but my older brothers and sisters
were very fluent in German. They learned German before
they learned English. So they just happened to be brought
into contact with German Methodist people and that's how
S they made that connection.
J: Did you find an interest in the ministry, and also teaching
in mathematics compatible? I see you went to a theological
seminary in 1960.
K: Well, I didn't get very through. World War I came and a
vacancy arose everywhere, so I was offered a job and I
finished it on the job. I found teaching and working a
ministry were very compatible, as a matter of fact. Not
exactly the same, I understand, but you're among people,
you're working with people. In both cases, you learn how
to present things to people, so they understand what you
mean and what you want them to grasp and so forth. And
either one is good practice and preparation for the other,
I would say.
J: A lot of chance for counseling-type work, I imagine that
each teaching would help you in the ministry and vice versa
as far as getting across to people.
K: That's right.
J: During the World War, I believe you were quite busy. Talk
a little bit about that.
K: Well, America got into The World War, I believe in the spring
of 1917. And, that was while I was in my first year at this
Nast Theological Seminary. And, almost immediately, they
needed many civilian war workers as well as enlistees in
the army and so forth.
J: How did you feel about America's participation in the war?
K: Well, most of my people--and I, myself would be right with
them--we were not in favor of getting into World War I.
We were of German descent.
J: I was going to say, do you think it was your German ancestry
or was there other...?
K: A good deal of suspicion was cast upon some of the people
that I knew because they thought they wouldn't be loyal
to the United States. I never met any such people though,
because the people I met all came over here and this was
their country and they loved this country, but you couldn't
help but love the country you just came from, either. They
knew a lot of people over there. Even some of the older
ones did and they knew the good things were about Germany
as well as the bad things and of course, we all know now
that the government was more defective than anything else
probably, rather than the people themselves. The people
are, more or less, victims of one thing or another in the
government. But they didn't like it. They hoped that we
wouldn't get into the war, but then in the course of time,
they fell in line just like all the rest of them, and I
didn't see any difference at all.
J: You believed your work was, more or less, in the ministry
and teaching moreso than on the front? You had no desire
really to join up in the wave of patriotic emotion?
K: Well yes, I didn't say that in there, but I volunteered to
go in as a chaplain.
J: I see.
K: But you see I was thirty-one years old. I mean I was twenty-
seven years old when I got in. I volunteered a year or so
later than that. You see, we didn't get deeply into the
war immediately when we entered the war. A couple of years
before we got to begin to pick up the troops and so on. I
thought maybe it would be a good service if I could give.
So I did volunteer, but I was told that I was a little too
old. They were taking younger men. I wasn't too old
according to the regulations, but they still preferred to
get someone...a younger man.
J: Uh huh.
K: So that's why I didn't go into the service,
J: Now you're a principal, also a minister, and also a teacher,
I believe in these days.
K: That's right.
J: That's quite an active, twenty-four years there,
K: I was plenty busy.
J: How did you find talking to the youth in those days? Do you
find students pretty much the same today as they were then
or do you see a great difference, say the so-called average
student of, the war years in 1918 and in the early twenties?
K: Well, I can't compare the youngsters of that day with the
youngsters of this present day because I've been retired
now for thirteen years.
J: Oh, yeah, sure.
K: But going back to the days not long before I retired, in
thinking aobut it there's not a great deal of difference.
There's a difference in the background. For one thing, the
young people back in those days didn't have anywhere near
the experience and travel that the young people today do,
And so their interests today are spread out more because of
their interests in travel and so forth.
J: No television and very little radio?
K: Had no television, no radio and, as a matter of fact, not even
any travel with automobiles. You see, I saw the first auto-
mobile that went through our part of the country in southern
Indiana. And when you live on a farm or in a small city or
small town--in fact, live anywhere, back in that day--you just
don't travel much.
J: That's true.
K: So,what we learned, what they learned was their reading,
their reading and schoolwork courses and so forth. So
there was quite a difference in the breadth of view. What
they learned back in that day was done, if I may say so,
probably more thoroughly than much of what is taught
J: Particularly in their approach to mathematics?
K: It's so superficial now. You got so much. You look at
television, you listen to radio, you travel and you get a
quick look at this and a quick look at that and something
else. And I noticed that in my own children. My own
children, when they were about ready to graduate from
high school, knew more about more things by far than I
did when I graduated from high school. But what I knew,
I knew better than what they knew.
J: I see.
K: And they knew what they knew, but they have been taught
much better. For instance, I could spell. By George, I
could spell practically any word that you wanted to give
me to spell that was in the dictionary. You know how well
youngsters often spell nowadays. In other words, we were
taught very thoroughly. But we weren't taught as many
J: When you went to college--of course this was years earlier--
but after high school, you felt very well prepared for
college. It was rather a smooth transition, I guess.
Many students, did they have quite a bit of problem adjusting
from high school curriculum to the demands of college?
I imagine in those days, a high school education, was much
more intense and thorough than it is today.
K: Well, maybe the words, maybe the adjectives you use are not
quite fair. I think they are intensive and they try to be
thorough today, too. But it's just a much bigger hodgepodge
of material that you've got to select from today than we
had as given us by our teachers back in that day. And,
of course, everybody who went to high school in our day was
preparing to go to college.
J: Was that right?
K: Just about as near 100 percent I guess as you could make it.
J: I would have guessed the opposite. I would have thought
high school education was considered adequate for the most
part in those days and....
K: Well, that came a little later, just as you said. But in
our day, they didn't even think a high school education was
necessary. What good does Latin do you? My heaven! My older
brothers asked me that question dozens of times. They were
carpenters. And they said, you can't make any use of Latin.
Of course, we had Latin required of us. I took four years
of Latin in high school, and geometry and algebra and so
forth. They weren't good at all to you. They were car-
penters. They could do all their carpentry work without
knowing any algebra. Other people were pretty much the
J: Oh, I see.
K: So they quite and maybe would go as long as they had to,
which would be through sixth, seventh, or eighth grade
and then they didn't have to go to school anymore, so
they'd get the job. That was the big thing.
J: Oh, I see. I was thinking attitude of the high school
student himself and many didn't even think high school was
necessary. I see, but once you got to high school, most of
the ones in high school wanted to go ahead to college.
K: That's it.
K: And, and of course, when I went to college, I was very much
frightened. I had graduated from this tiny little high
school, just barely had gotten to become a four-year high
school. And about the first thing that happened to me was
I got acquainted with one fellow who was a graduate of the
Boston Latin School--I even heard of that and remember that.
That was considered one of the greatest preparatory schools
in the country back in that day. Now I thought "My golly,
am I going to have to compete against fellows like this?"
and so on. I found though that in a very short time that
no matter how good a school is, they have good and bad
students. And that, no matter how little a school is,
they have good and bad students, too.
J: That's right.
K: And I didn't really find it very difficult to fit in with
K: I got a little confidence in myself, but it didn't work.
J: You must have gotten some confidence around 1917 because I
see you got married here. Where did you meet your wife?
K: Well, she was raised on one hill and I was raised on the
J: All right.
K: We both grew up in the same community, really, About a
mile and a half apart, so I never did go to the same schools
as she went to. And so back in those days, we didn't have
comprehensive schools. No bus troubles at all. They put
a little schoolhouse in about every...so that they didn't
have to walk any further than about two miles to get to
J: Uh huh.
K: And just so happened that the division line between two
schools, the one I went to and the one she went to, was
between us. So she went to one, in one direction and I
went in the other direction, but we went to the same
church and we got acquainted in that church. That's how I
happened to marry her.
J: This was in 1917?
J: You went to graduate school up at the University of Michigan.
That must have been quite an important school in those days
because I've spoken with several persons that did graduate
work at Michigan. What do you recollect about Ann Arbor
and so forth in those days? How was graduate study con-
ducted in that environment?
K: Well, graduate study at the University of Michigan was of
a very high order when I went there. And there were some
interesting things that I encountered. Valparaiso Uni-
versity, where I had taken my bachelor's work, was not
recognized very much by some schools. I don't know why.
For instance, I was told at the University of Illinois--
I didn't try this myself--but I was told that the University
of Illinois wouldn't accept your credits from Valparaiso
University at all. I also found out that Yale University
would accept every credit that you made in Valparaiso.
And I checked and found that Michigan would too. That's
one reason why I went to Michigan. Of course, there were
others too. I was closer at Michigan....
J: Closer, uh huh.
K: But Michigan was a school of very high order, even back in
that day. I don't think it's been any higher order since.
They were tops, just like some of the other Eastern schools.
They had high standards and excellent faculty members, very
scholarly type of work that they did and their courses and
so forth, were very rigid and demanding.
J: Very good student-faculty relationships, I guess.
K: Oh, yes. Especially if you did well in your work, you soon
got acquainted with the professors.
J: Did you study under anyone that we would call famous today?
K: Well, there were several men there who mathematicians would
know all over the country. Once of them was L.C. Karpinski
and I worked under him when I did my doctoral work.
J: Was he your mentor, more or less, in those days?
K: Yes, he was chairman of my doctoral committee just like you
still have here. When I retired, we had doctoral committees
and so forth.
K: And, he was the author of a number of books. And was recog-
niqed as you might say, almost classical works over the
country. And Professor Walter R. Ford also author of a
book, in particular, one particular book on infinite series.
It was a classic for many readers among mathematicians,
and I could name a dozen or so others. They're all dead
and gone now.
J: Yeah. You graduated in 1926 with your Ph.D.
K: Yeah, I got my diploma.
J: And minors in philosophy and physics, which seemed like it
would be very compatible with mathematics.
K: Yes, I had had quite a little bit of philosophy in minister-
ial training too, you know.
J: You continued this interest, of course, in the ministry?
K: And done me a lot of reading even on the side. And, so
I just continued, that's all.
J: Let's jump ahead a little bit now and come to Gainesville,
which I believe you did around 1927. Is that right? What
were your first impressions of Gainesville when you came
here in those days? You were with your wife, I guess, and
you came down and you were instructor or assistant professor
or, what was this?
K: I came as an assistant professor. Well, my impression of
Gainesville was not quite as surprising and shocking to me
as my wife's impressions. She had never been down South.
J: I see.
K: And I had been down at Douglas teaching at Georgia Normal
College and Business Institute.
J: That's right.
K: And I knew more about what the South was like. I loved it.
K: I always have loved the South and still do. You couldn't get
me to go up above the Mason and Dixon Line and spend a
winter unless you chained me up.
J: So, is it mainly a climatic reason you like the South?
K: Other reasons too.
K: And I like the people of the South. People of the South were
like the people of the Middle West. They're more open and
approachable. Less independent, I almost thought than the
people of the East, Northeast. The people of the South are
open and you can talk to them. You can get acquainted with
them and so forth. I think there is not so much difference
J: Perhaps not.
K: You see, travel and communications have so changed since
back in the day when I came to Gainesville. You went some-
where by train or you went in your own automobile and they
were pretty scarce. I did have my own automobile when I
came to Gainesville. We drove down in our automobile.
J: That must have been an interesting trip. How long?
K: Five days. It took me five days to get here from southern
J: Five days. Uh huh.
K: I could do it in one day now.
J: What highway approached Gainesville in those days?
K: Well, the near, the best road from Cincinnati or Louisville
or Evansville to Florida in those days was U.S. 41. There
was already a U.S. 41 in 1927, paved most of the way, but very
poorly paved in most places, not paved in some places at all.
But it was marked fairly well. It was already marked out
as a United States highway.
You had to do a lot of detouring. If you detoured, you
detoured through dirt roads invariably. After it was raining,
you'd go through the mud or it would be soft.
J: Where'd you stop on the way down? I, I was surprised when
Dr. Byers [Charles F. Byers] mentioned the other week they
did have motels. Oh, I believe they called them tourist
courts in those days. Did you stop at those?
K: Well, they had towns, I guess, would come closer to it.
They didn't call them motels. That name developed later
K: But, anybody who had a building of some sort or could set
up a building along U.S. 41, and they could make a sleeping
quarters or something like that, could put up a sign. There
were no laws regulating it and you didn't have any restric-
tions about water supply or anything. You just used the well
right there next to his house or next to his barn...
K: ...the water that he used. I recall one time when we were
coming down. It must have been within the first year or two
after, probably the second summer--the first summer after we
spent the winter here. We went up North to visit our folks
and when we came back, we had to do a long detour in Georgia
above Atlanta. And we're getting along toward the latter part
of the afternoon and it's raining. We had to detour on a
muddy, red clay or yellow clay dirt road. And so I kept
plowing along in low, trying to keep myself in the middle of
the road, to keep from sliding off on the right or on the left
side. And it got dark early. One time, I thought certainly
I had stopped completely, but I just managed to get out of
the place. Had the family with me. I had two children then,
and my wife. And we were getting quite worried. Still on
the detour, and it was thundering and lightning. If it were
lightning, I could see whether I was on the road or not.
Otherwise, more or less guessed at it. Anyway, I was getting
very discouraged, when suddenly I saw ahead of me a bright
light. And when I came to it, the detour came upon U.S. 41
at right angles, and right across the road from where the
detour entered was a barn. They had the big double doors of
the barn wide open and they had it all lit up with electric
lights-Dad's Place, and Booths, or something of that sort.
I just drove straight across U.S. 41 into the driveway of
that barn and we spent the night there. We slept in a granary,
a corn bin, I suppose it was. Just barely big enough to put
a cot or a couple, bed in it. And then, next to it was
another corn bin and the children slept in that and that's
the way we spent the night. That's the kind of motel we had.
J: But you were glad to see it that night.
K: Some detours that you found, that we found in Kentucky for
several years, had to be made right down in the bed of a
creek. Dry, dry bed of a creek. It was the only way you
could detour, just around somewhere where they were building
J: This was in the late'20s now?
K: That's right.
J: So you say your wife had a different impression.
K: Well, she, she didn't like it. Was one of the worst things
we struck as far as she was concerned. Housing was very,
very tight in Gainesville when we came here. You see, this
boom, the Florida boom was on in along about 1924, 1925
and it began to break in South Florida and gradually the
banks began to close up by 1929.
J: Okay, you can just pick up where you left off.
K: So, when we came to Gainesville, I couldn't find a house to
rent. Hunted all over the city and everything was taken
except one old house right downtown. There's a parking lot
there now. The house is gone, but it didn't even stand
vertically. It was an old, dirty house that I could have
rented. And we just didn't want it at all. So we lived
in a tourist camp for two and a half weeks and maybe three
weeks while I was looking for a house. And of course, that
was very unpleasant for my wife and family to live in that
tourist camp. No air conditioning, hot. We arrived the
last day of that August. So the first week or two or three
weeks of September and it happened to be a very dry, warm
September. She'd have been glad to go back up North if
she could have. But, then I bought the house that I lived
in, a little house. We lived there a year. I bought this...
it wasn't quite finished. We had to wait until the car-
penters had it finished. And then we moved into that.
J: So, you had to buy a house instead of finding one for rent?
K: I had to buy one, yes. But we've never changed. We still
live in that house. I built it a little bigger as time went
on and it's probably twice as big in floor space now. It
is just an ordinary house, but it's quite comfortable and
livable. Not in a good residential section anymore. There
are rooming houses around, but we don't have any trouble
J: Right. Yeah, I guess. Gainesville's real estate's changed
quite a bit since the 1920s.
K: Yes, there was a cornfield or two between the University and
the courthouse downtown along there what is now West Univer-
sity Avenue. Believe it or not, there was....
K: Cornfield. Raised corn there every year for two or three
J: Yeah. Where did your children go to school? Were they old
enough to attend school?
K: No, our oldest is a son who was, I think, in the third grade
the first year we came. And our daughter probably just
started in that year, or maybe the next year after that.
And I still have another son who was born down here. So
our children were just beginning their elementary education.
J: Did you find it very difficult to live on your salary in
Gainesville in those days or?
K: Well, of course you had to be very economical in everything
that you did, but we were brought up that way. Both my wife
and me. She and I were brought up that way. As a matter of
fact, we have never had any financial troubles in that
way at all because we just live economically. So we managed
to get along all right. I was offered $2400.
J: This was an assistant professorship?
K: As an assistant professor. But they said, "That's all the
money we think we have," but they said, "it may be that we
could get a little more for you." I, of course, didn't expect
any little more, but after I had been here about two or
three months or six months, I guess it was--half a semester
maybe, I was told that I would get $2500, that they found a
little more they could get for me. But that was what the
salary was. That sounds to be very little now, but then,
it's understandable. Everything was a lot cheaper then.
J: Yeah. I noticed even during the Depression which began in
'29, you were promoted to associate professor. Was this a
rarity or were most other professors able to work their
way up even during the Depression years?
K: I think it was kinda a rarity. I don't think very many of
them made an advancement each two years.
J: You think this was being a mathematician? In other words,
a historian or an English professor was probably held back
in these years?
K: No, I don't think so. I don't think it made any difference
what subject you were teaching. It might make some difference
as to who was the head of your department or what influence
he might have had with other people who managed things. But
I always felt that I made pretty rapid progress. After
two years, I was made associate professor. After two
years more, full professor.
J: Yeah. These are the beginning years, of course, of Dr. Tigert.
Go back earlier. You were hired by Dr. Murphree, I guess.
Did you meet President Murphree, I assume?
K: Oh, yes.
J: What were your impressions of him?
K: I had only been here a matter of a day or two until I was
taken around and I met Dr. Murphree. And he was a very fine
gentleman. Everybody said that. Now, I myself, didn't have
a chance to get well enough acquainted with him to be able
to say that on my own judgment. But he did make that impres-
sion with me. He was a very fine man. I soon learned, that
he was very well-liked all over the state of Florida. I
was told by a number of influential people around the state
that all he would have had to do, if he had wanted to, was
to say "I'd like to be elected Governor" and announce himself
as a candidate, and he would certainly have been elected.
He didn't so choose, but then he was that popular. He was
a well-liked man. Now, what kind of an educator he was,
as compared to somebody's idea of what an educator should be,
that might be debatable by some people at all, but I thought
he must have been doing a very good job here. I would say
J: I see. He was a good friend of William Jennings Bryan, I
believe, who was here.
J: Quite often on the campus.
K: He was a good friend of William Jennings Bryan and, so also
was J.E. Johnson, who was General Secretary of the YMCA.
William Jennings Bryan had a very high regard for the Young
Men's Christian Association.
J: I can imagine. Did you meet Bryan at any time?
K: Oh, yes, I met him. I met him here and I met him before
I'd ever come here, as a matter of fact, somewhere up in the
Middle West. You see, at the time I came here, the YMCA owned
Camp Wauberg. You know what I mean by Camp Wauberg out here?
J: Yes, right.
K: It's been closed I understand for a long time.
J: I see the sign, but I'm not sure whether it's open or not.
K: But anyway, we--by that I mean the YMCA because I was chair-
man of the YMCA board--but we owned Camp Wauberg, had a man
living there, and he handled the boats and so forth, kept at
least a part of it mowed, and we tried to keep at least a
little section of it open for the swimming and so on, boating.
And we owned that and we also were raising money. This had
started before I came, so I don't take credit for that, you
understand. But under Mr. J.E. Johnson, and with a lot of
help from William Jennings Bryan, they got in contact with a
lot of people with money and interest in the YMCA and so
on around the state and outside the state 0oo, and collected
a lot of money, in pledges mostly. Not in cash, but in pledges.
So that, when I was chairman of the board, we had about
$40,000 accumulated for one of three different purposes.
I don't have any of that, in that some of the pledges were
written that they had pledged this money for a YMCA building
on the campus of the University of Florida. Some of them
for a YMCA student activity building on the campus of the
University of Florida. But you see, it's quite a little
different from the YMCA. And some of them, I believe, prob-
ably just said student activity building. We had all of
those pledges and all of that sum, quite a bit of money
in the banks, drawing interest, and quite a bit more that
could have been collected. Some never was that had been
pledged and finally we wanted to build the Florida Union.
Not the one now, not the Reitz Union, but the, but the other
one which is up here, you know where it is. The old Florida
J: I believe it do. Yes, sir.
K: Right. Get in back of Tigert Hall and go right straight.
You'll run right into it. Go right straight west, you run
into that. That was the original Florida Union building.
J: I see.
K: Well, we wanted to build the Florida Union. By we, I mean
the YMCA Board of Directors. We had this money. We could
put $40,000 into it. And we had Wauberg, which if it could
have been sold then, could have been put into it, too.
But, of course, things didn't sell very easily back in those
days. But there was a great deal of difference of opinion
as to what we'd have to build, if we built it. If we built
it as a YMCA building, it was doubtful as to whether it could
be put on the campus of the University of Florida. It'd
have to be put off the campus. Then, we didn't want to
build just a YMCA building. We wanted it to be both--a YMCA/
student activities building. So we took the matter to court
and asked the judge to look at all these pledges and, and
to make a ruling as to whether we could put that money into
a Florida Union, if, in the Florida Union, the second floor
was given over to the YMCA and the rest of it to student
activities work and so forth. And we had an auditorium on
the second floor which would be available for any kind of
use and so on. He so ruled, and so that is how it came about
that the Florida Union was built.
J: I see.
K: We put our $40,000 into it and you may have noticed, or maybe
that was before you came here, that the main lounge was called
the William Jennings Bryan Lounge.
J: Does it? I didn't know that.
K: Yes, it was called the Bryan Lounge.
J: I see.
K: And, and in that, we had the cafe, cafeteria, and we had
student activities, all of the student government offices
and the YMCA. Later on, the Department of Religion.
J: Sounds like an excellent addition to the campus.
K: Well, it was a very fine thing when it was built. Of course,
the University outgrew it in the course of time and so, now
we have the Reitz Union. But you notice, I guess, the
Department of Religion is still housed in the Reitz Union,
J: I'm not sure.
K: I believe, I believe if you look up in the directory Dr.
Scudder's [Delton L. Scudder] office is in the Reitz Union.
You see, that's a leftover from this other.
J: I know the Allator office and various other offices and
so forth. I'm not sure about the Department of Religion.
K: Yeah. There was when they first put up the Reitz Union,
but as I say, thirteen years of retirement puts you a little
out-of-date on some of the things that are going on.
J: Now, coming here in 1927 and retiring as a professor in
1960, of course, you were in on much of the development
of the math department. Let's talk a little bit about
its growth, development, and so forth all the way up into
when you became, I believe, head of the department in what?
K: Yes, I became head of the department in 1951.
K: And was head of the department the last nine years before
J: What about the courses and some of the personalities you
recall in these days now?
K: Well, when I first came as I said in my notes that I gave
you there, there were only four of us in the department and
three of us were new. Two others besides myself, just new.
We taught fifteen, eighteen hours a week of classwork and,
and that was practically the full content of our mathematics
offering here. But in the course of time, as we got more
students and new colleges, and new colleges needed new
mathematical services and so on. We kept growing until
when I retired. I guess we were offering at least ten
times as many sections in mathematics in any one term or
semester then we did at the time when I first came here.
We kept adding new members of the faculty and we'd work hard
to get the best talent available from a variety of our better
universities, so we had faculty members from the University
of California, the University of Chicago, the University
of Illinois, the University of Michigan, Ohio State Univer-
sity, Yale and Harvard.
J: And you felt that Florida, at least by the thirties was
comparable to any other math department perhaps at least in
K: Not by that time. I wouldn't say by that time we were in a
tremendous movement for improvement though.
J: Who was the department head?
K: Dr. T. M. Simpson was head of the department when I came
here and he was head until I took his place.
J: I see.
K: And he retired, and so I took his place as head.
J: Was he one of the prime movers in this development?
K: He was one of them and he had a staff. We all worked under
him. We all worked very hard and we kept putting in new
courses, keeping them updated, making them comparable to the
best courses that were offered in the, in the other univer-
sities so that, of the country and adding new courses and
making new demands. There were a lot of changes. For instance,
at one time, there was almost no statistical mathematics
taught. Well, we put in statistical courses and kept, they
kept growing and so forth and demand for them kept growing.
Anybody who knows about mathematics now knows that mathematics
and statistics is one of the extremely important subjects
to study. I knew the number of new courses developed in the
course of time. For instance, a course like topology which
very few people now outside of the realm of mathematics still
have any interest in or knowledge of, but it's a very
growing subject. It's an amazing, surprising subject so far
as the richness of its content and so forth was concerned.
So, we had to keep up with all the progress that was going
on in the country and we put in new courses to meet the
demands. And I thought that by the time--I guess it was in
the early thirties or early in the forties. Well, the general
college was set up in 1935. That more or less took all of
our attention when we were doing that. But after we had the
general college set up and going, we were working on develop-
ing the mathematical offerings and so on. And we did a great
deal of very hard work getting our department equipped in
every way with faculty and with course offerings and so forth
to offer the Ph.D. in mathematics. And we were among one of
the earlier departments to be approved for offering Ph.D.'s.
K: Now we never have turned out a shockingly large number of
Ph.D.'s. That never was our intent in the first place.
But we've never turned out a poor person. A poor, poor
candidate. We are very careful and selective in getting
our graduate students and we gave them the finest kind of
training. They had to make good before they earned their
Ph.D. I can't prove this because I don't really know enough
about it, but different things make me think that Ph.D.'s
are easier to get now then they were back in our day. I
don't know whether I'm right about that or not.
J: Perhaps another discipline. I imagine math is still
K: Well, math has always been hard, because most of your research
work in mathematics is simply the discovery of something new.
Now, the researching of some other subject or study might
not be that at all. It might just simply be rehashing, dig-
ging up older materials from libraries and so forth, and
putting them together into maybe a new story of some sort.
So mathematics has always been hard, as has physics, for
example. I've always thought that physics and mathematics
were two of the more difficult subjects. Physics has
eased up a little bit because physics has branched out into
so many different things. You can find some aspect of
physics that aren't too bad once you get into the ground-
work of them.
J: Now in 1935, what they called then the General College was
organized. Did you see this as a good thing in those days?
This general trend to reorganize?
K: Well, yes, I still believe the General College was a good
J: Tell me something about that now.
K: I don't say that that is the only way to get an education.
As a matter of fact, I got an education without having a
General College but I still think that our General College
setup was a good way to give students a good education. A
good start in education, of course. You see, our philosophy
was, after all, when you go to college, about the first two
years of your college work is basic training. And it's
really basic in almost any aspect of life you go into. So
we set these courses up. We built these courses so there
were six of them, I think. You mentioned Dr. Byers a
while ago. He worked hard on what they called at the begin-
ning "Man in the Biological World". These courses had dif-
ferent names to them. "Man and the Social World".
J: I believe his textbook was called Man in the Biological
J: If I recall.
K: Yeah. "Man in the Biological World," and "Man in, in the
Physical World," and "Man and his Thinking". "Man and
his Thinking" involved philosophy, logic and mathematics.
And so, we built these six courses up in that way. For
instance, let me give you this question that I've often
asked myself. The answer to it would depend on whether you
thought something like this could be done with success or not.
Isn't there a certain amount of mathematics for everybody
that goes to college, even if he only stays one term, or one
semester, or graduation? Somebody who goes into history, or
social sciences of any kind, no matter what he majors in
later on, isn't there a certain amount of mathematics that
everybody ought to know and be familiar with?
J: Oh, yes, indeed.
K: You did a lot in arithmetic in high school, but there's
hardly of that you don't get there. You ought to go a
little beyond that. Well, that was our thoughts, that
was our belief too. And so, our aim was to build a course
that contains that.knowledge about mathemathematics as
well as of mathematics. It isn't enough just to know that
it's mathematical, you want to know what it is good for,
J: And of course, you can't expect every math student to want
to go to graduate school and so forth. So he has this
foundation in mathematics which is part of his liberal
K: Well, he's just happy in the course of time. But here's
somebody who goes to college. He's going to major in
history, let's say. He doesn't want to take any more
mathematics than he has to that he isn't going to need.
He's not interested in topology. He's not interested in
advanced algebra or any of these things at all. Never
will be, as a matter of fact. Even if he's studied them,
he's going to forget them. They won't even be usable to him
after a while if he goes into history. But, there is a cer-
tain amount of mathematics--mathematics of finance, for
example. Everybody needs a certain amount of that, you
know. And some of it is just ordinary computation of
one sort of another. So that was our philosophy, that was
our purpose. Building a course in mathematics. I have a
book that's, I suppose, the sum of those books circulating
in the library, yet there ought to be a lot of them. There
were a lot of them used for about eighteen or twenty years
in a hundred or more different colleges. This book was
just called Mathematics in Human Affairs.
J: Was this a co-authored work?
K: No, I did this all by myself.
J: I see. When did you have time to do this now? Was this in
the late thirties?
K: Well, let me see, I started work on that, You know, it was
a little later than that. It was in the early forties,
Right at the beginning, about 1940, We used other references
and syllabi and so forth that we'd gotten up to that time and
then I wrote the book. I wanted to let the thing crystallize
a little and I wanted to teach it a while before I found
out what we needed. I worked at this book. You want to
know when I did it? Well, I did it during the wee hours of
the night most of the time. Went to bed many a night two
o'clock in the morning and got up at six and went right
back to work on it. But, it was interesting too; I enjoyed
it. It was a very successful textbook, as mathematics text-
J: Many editions, which says a lot for the book.
K: I think there were thirteen or fourteen different editions.
J: What is your main interest in math? We probably should
bring that out, your main area of interest.
K: My main interest in mathematics was geometry, I would say.
Not to the exclusion of the others at all, but I would
still think that would be my main interest, mostly because
I got started along that line and did most of my early
J: This would include perhaps the history of geometry?
K: History and mathematics was a part of it, yes.
J: Very fascinating, I think.
K: I published three articles in Isis, which I guess still is,
the official publication of the The History of Science Society,
published in Brussels, Belgium. And I published three
articles in Isis on the history of mathematics among other
J: Did you rediscuss your textbook, you think, well enough, or
is there something else you'd like to add to that? We
were into University College and we were discussing that
and then we started talking about courses.
K: Well, I don't think I said much about it. I just mentioned it,
that's all. I said it was pretty widely used.
J: Yes, sir.
K: The reason why I was lead to write the book was because, when
we started the University College, I think I said the other
day that we outlined what we thought would be desired for
a course in mathematics, if we were going to require that
mathematics of all students regardless of what they were
going to major in, or even if they intended to stay only
one semester or one year and drop out of the university.
And so, to begin with, in the fall of 1935, not having a text-
book available, it was my job to get up some sort of temporary
course for the fall. So that summer, the summer of 1935, I
published, I think it must have been maybe a 100 page paper-
back pamphlet. That was what we called "The Syllabus in
General Mathematics-C42 Syllabus".
J: Was this one of the first Florida Press books to come out or
was this a campus published-type thing?
K: I think it was a campus published-type thing. This was not
a permanent piece of work. We had two textbooks from which
we selected problems, and assignments were made in this lit-
tle syllabus for the day-by-day work. And then we had
collateral readings taken from about twelve or fifteen
articles, books, pamphlets, and so on, some very new, some
J: Was this pure mathematics or for instance, some history of
math and arithmetic and geometry?
K: You can call it history, but it was mostly just information
about mathematics. I mean, the collateral readings. Now,
of course, the problems from the books were practical prob-
lems that we thought everybody ought to know how to handle.
We got along with that kind of an arrangement for several
years, shifting around a little, making a few changes, but
not any fundamental changes. And then I was encouraged to
write a textbook for the course, and I began working on it
along about 1940. In 1942, Prentice-Hall published this
textbook that I referred to. It still is around. It was
a well-done piece of work. Big book, because it had a lot
of information about mathematics as well as the mathematics
itself, and got a great deal of publicity and a lot of
wide use. As I told you, I believe the other day, it was
used in more than a hundred different colleges and universities.
J: I believe translated into foreign languages.
K: And it was also translated into the Swedish language and
used there to some extent, too.
J: That's a curious country taking up the book. You know,
you would have thought Germany, France, or England at least,
would use that.
K: I didn't have to carry on the correspondence between them,
but Prentice-Hall did. They told me that some of the schools
then in Sweden wanted permission to translate it and make
use of it, and we gave them the permission to do so.
J: Was this a two-semester course? This was required, I guess.
K: Yes, it was a two semester course. It was intended that it
should take two semesters. Of course, we only used it in
the fundamental mathematics that was then called later on
"General Mathematics" at the beginning, called C42 sometimes
because that was the number of the course. We used only
about half of the book in that course, but it was intended
to be a one-year course.
J: In other words, this was the requirement for the B.A. degree
in those days.
K: The second course was not required.
J: I see. Just this first course.
K: That's right. The second course was an elective course.
It was required of some people. In the College of Education,
they required it. You know, in the College of Education
where they were teachers of mathematics, they required that
course. And they also required several other courses, but
that was one of them.
J: How well was the so-called average Florida student that
attended the University in those days, how well equipped
was he in mathematics? In other words, were the high schools
doing their job? Or did you find that almost a relearning
type process for them when they came here?
K: We had, I would say, quite a variety of students who came
here and depended a great deal upon the particular school
from which they came. Some of the students that came to
us were well trained in basic mathematics in high school.
And then, all the way down to those who just knew almost
nothing about it.
J: Do you think perhaps from the urban areas that education was
K: Usually, I think that was the case. There were a few
exceptions--not necessarily the large city schools, but
schools that were from towns and communities where they
had enough population to have a pretty good-sized school,
and therefore, to have a pretty good staff of teachers so
they didn't have to have a person trained to teach history
do the teaching of mathematics.
J: That's right.
K: Which happened in so many times, as you know, in very small
schools where they didn't have enough mathematics for a
mathematics teacher to do all of his teaching in mathematics.
They didn't have enough social science or enough something
else, so one teacher trained to do one kind of work did a
whole lot of other things.
J: I see.
K: Of course, they sometimes did a very poor job.
J: This must have been a very interesting and busy time. Up to
around 1950 now, you were a professor and then I believe you
became head of the department in the summer of '51?
K: That's right.
J: What changes, were there any changes as far as curricula and
so forth when you took over?
K: Well, as a matter of fact, the changes that we made were not
made suddenly just because I became head of the department.
Actually, I had been virtually acting head of the department
for six years before'that time for this reason. The head of
the department of mathematics when I came, and until I took
over as head of the department of mathematics was one man.
J: Who was that?
K: Dr. Simpson [Thomas Marshall Simpson]. And he was made dean
of the graduate school. I can't .tell you the date, but
before 1951, probably 1945 or somewhere in there. I'm
guessing at that. That could be checked, but when he be-
came head of the mathematics department, I mean dean of
the graduate school he just retained the nominal headship
of the department of mathematics.
He and I had been working together ever since I
came here. There never was a hitch between us. We worked
together like a team should work, I should say. And so there
was perfect harmony between us. We had what we thought was
the right and sane philosophy of mathematics and philosophy
of teaching, so that when he moved down to the office of
the dean of the graduate school, I really was sorta the acting
head of the department of mathematics.
We gradually built up the department in that way. One
of the things that we did during that period was to strengthen
our staff by two or three more very good Ph.D.'s with experi-
ence from other places. And we offered a doctor's degree
J: About this time, I take it, the graduate program got off to
a really sound start.
K: Right. I think the first department in the university to
offer the doctor's degree--this isn't history, this is just
my memory, you understand--was pharmacy or one of the de-
partments in the college of pharmacy.
J: It could have very well been. I recall Dr. Byers [Charles F.
Byers] mentioning that, I believe.
K: And then probably one of the second, or one of the very
early ones was chemistry. And then we came in about third
or fourth or something like that.
J: Was this about '49, '50, '51? Along in there?
K: Yes, it was before '51. Excuse me, but I don't recall the
J: Probably near the end of the war, there.
J: Speaking of the war, did you realize a large increase in
student enrollment following the war?
K: Well, in, at the beginning of the war, we had probably
fourteen or fifteen hundred students in the university at
any one time. And, then when the, when the war came, this
university being a school for men only, you understand....
J: Yes sir.
K: It wasn't made co-educational until about 1945 or 1946 as I
remember. And also, this being a university land-grant school,
which had compulsory military training, and nearly all those
boys, able-bodied boys took military training and at the
end of the second years, they became lieutenants--first,
second lieutenants--in the Army. So, when the war came,
they called them out very fast. And, they also drafted a
lot of our students and we had no women, so our enrollment
dropped way down at the very beginning of the war.
J: I bet.
K: Then the Army began sending us students, student army
training that they called the Student Army Training Corps,
I believe. And very quickly, we got 2500 or 3000 new stu-
dents coming in from various places for special training.
Now, all of those students had to have mathematics, among
J: I see.
K: Then, a very short time after that, the Air Force began
sending us students, one flight after the other. They call
their sections flights. It's actually a mathematical flight.
And, so we had probably 200, 2000, or 2500 students in the
air training course. They had to have mathematics, a much
more elementary type, but the Student Army Training Corps--
they sent those boys down here and many of them went right
on through and finished College of Engineering or something
like that here. So we taught a lot of mathematics then.
J: I bet.
K: We taught a'lot of mathematics to both of them.
J: I guess following the war, the increased interest in science
and so forth allowed an enrollment increase.
K: Oh yes. Following the war, the veterans came back and, and
many of them went back to college. They were really very
good students too, because they were serious-minded, a
little older, and very much determined to make good. And
we found them, I thought, to be much less frivolous and
carefree and so forth than the average person who comes out
of high school who doesn't really know if he wants to go
to college or not. And is more interested in getting into
a social fraternity or something like that than he is to
make good in some particular course of study.
K: So we found a very fine group of students developing right
after the war.
J: I know you've done over this past several years quite a bit
of cooperative research as far as mathematics development,
stimulation. What do you think it takes to stimulate the
student? This southeastern section of the Mathematical
Association of America, I believe it was organized, to
some extent, on these lines, wasn't it?
K: Yes. It was organized along about 1930, I believe. And the
University of Florida staff in mathematics along with the
University of Georgia, University of Alabama, Vanderbilt
University, the Universities of Tennessee and South Carolina,
and some of the other colleges too in these six states--
the two Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama.
Those six states. So we organized what we called the South-
eastern Section of the Mathematical Association. We put
in a petition to be admitted as an affiliate group, member
group, membership group in the Mathematical Association of
America and we approved in very short time. Of course,
then our programs were published in advance of what we
were going to, who was going to speak, where the meetings were
to be held, and cost of housing. All that sort of thing. And
we developed pretty rapidly into something I thought was
very valuable. Well, we encouraged all of our better stu-
dents who could to attend those meetings too.
J: I see.
K: And they listened to these talks and to the discussions that
followed after them and we always tried to arrange some part
of the program on the level to be understood by pretty
good mathematics students but not necessarily too advanced
students. We tried to give them a feel for mathematics,
a look into the future to see the importance of mathematics,
J: What level of education do you think is very important for
the student to be exposed to excellent teaching as far as
mathematics? Is it way back as far as grammar school?
Further back the better, I guess?
K: Oh, yes indeed. I think that's right. The sooner the better,
I guess that can be said about almost anything else that
you were studying--music, or whatever it happened to be.
J: I think that math--so many times if you reach a certain
level and you haven't gotten it before, it's almost impos-
sible. History, English, even a foreign language, I think,
you can pick up just about any level. But mathematics
you're not taught in a progression all through high school,
K: Well, you're absolutely right about that. It's much more
important that you know it as you go along in order to be
able to go further. I may not be fair to some other sub-
jects, but I've always felt that you could take a subject like
history--I don't mean to say anything bad about history,
but you can start in, and you can study history of the United
States, or the history of Germany, or the history of something
else. You can skip around and do this and that, You can't
do that very well in mathematics at all. There's a certain
sequence in which you have to learn mathematics, and if you
don't know what is prerequisite to this, you can't learn this.
And you just have to go back and learn that prerequisite.
That, I think, is what you're thinking about.
J: Yes, sir.
K: It's very important.
J: When you were associated with the Florida Council of Teachers
of Math, which I guess you still are, and you worked with
secondary school teachers, I imagine you tried to push this
idea to them.
K: Oh, yes.
J: As far as the importance of high school course mathematics?
K: That's one thing that we talked about a great deal in our
J: You think this is a worthwhile organization? Does it get
the job done at least when you were connected with it?
K: Well, I think that all these organizations--of course, I'm
sure they could be overdone. I don't know any cases where
that is happening, but you could have too many useless
organizations. Wherever you get people in any profession,
teachers of mathematics, wherever you can get them to come
together and to pool their problems, the difficulties,
their ideals and ideas and then discuss them, you get some-
thing clarified, and you get something much more clearly
laid out for you, so that you know how to proceed in the
future. We're finding that to be very much the case even
in the most rigorous of sciences, like physics and so on.
Take a place like Martin Company down here at Orlando.
They have very few men who are just working all by them-
selves. They're working together.
J: That's right.
K: They get together and they compare, they pool their ideas,
and what one doesn't know, maybe another one would know.
And I think we're finding out that's a very useful device.
J: Right. Let's go back to some personalities, a little bit.
It's been said that Florida gained a national reputation,
at least reached a national prominence, as a school aca-
demically with the presidency of J. Hillis Miller.
Of course, every president has contributed to the develop-
ment of the University of Florida. What do you feel about
that now with Dr. Miller? So much was done while he was
here. From an academic standpoint, what do you think, as
far as scholarship funds available, the organization of the
college, the various departments? You have any ideas on
K: Well, it's my feeling that it is the flow of time and the
circumstances that come about along with the flow of time
that really produced these things. I think that J. Hillis
Miller was a good president, but anybody else could have
been a good president in that day too, because circumstances
and conditions were ripe for the University of Florida to
expand and develop. There were signs of that not only
in Florida but in other parts of the country too, but
Florida especially was very obviously in the limelight
because the state was beginning to develop in many different
ways. And people were coming to Florida. And when you
get people to come together in a certain place, one of the
first things they think about is "Do we have good schools?"
"Do we have a good university?"
K: "Can our boys and girls and so forth get what they really
need and want in this place?" It all worked together.
And, so, I think that probably the time was ripe for some
of these things. It was a little bit that way when I
came. There was sort of a jump. Took place before I got
here, and was in the process when I came. It leveled off
and then, it came to the time when we reorganized the lower
division. And there was a new impetus, don't you see?
We had a lot of people working mighty hard on how to build
this lower division. And all that bore some valuable fruit.
I think just about the time I retired--1960--a great
change was taking place. I have seen tremendous changes
here in the university just since I retired in 1960. And
I think it's as I said, it's the changing circumstances
that bring these things about. Of course you could have
leadership that would drag its feet, but I don't think we
ever did have. You can have leadership sometimes that can
do a whole lot to give an impetus, to speed it up. And I
think we've had some of that. I think President Miller
worked very hard on some of those things.
J: You were the department head of mathematics, of course,
Did you have a smooth relationship with Dr. Miller?
K: Oh, yes.
J: Did you clash on any academic or social aspects?
K: I didn't have any difficulties in mathematics with him.
I did have some disagreement with him on another item or
two. I think that one little thing--I don't know whether
this belongs in this interview or not, but it had nothing
to do with mathematics.... As I told you before, I was
interested in religious work and so forth among the students.
J: I was about to ask you about this. Why don't we go ahead
and expand on this a little bit?
K: Well, this is what I was going to refer to. For several
years, I was what they called a Danforth Associate ..
J: Yes, sir, I've heard of that.
K: You've heard of the Danforth Foundation. And the Danforth
Foundation kept expanding and I was a Danforth representative
here from the faculty of the University of Florida. Well,
Mr. Danforth told me one day, when I went to a camp one
summer where he attended, that he'd like to build a
chapel on the campus of the University of Florida. A
little chapel, but a beautiful one, built out of the very
finest of material and so forth. I understand there is
one at Florida State University.
J: Yes, it's a nice little non-denominational chapel for the
K: Well, it was something like that that he wanted to build here.
I went to Dr. Miller and told him that we could get the
money to build that.
J: You could get the money or, if you could, you would like to
see it built.
K: No, I told him that Mr. Danforth had said "I'll build it".
K: "I'll build it. Won't cost the university anything." But
it so happened that Dr. Miller had bigger ideas than that.
He was in touch with some lumber company, that had been put-
ting a good deal of money into the University of Florida
YMCA year after year. This man died, and I believe he
hoped that his wife would give about $100,000 or $200,000
for the same sort of a thing, only a much better and much
more significant chapel. So he says "Well, that's just,
that's just nothing, this little chapel that you're talking
about and I'm not interested". I dropped the whole matter
then, told Mr. Danforth, and of course, nothing was done.
But he didn't get the money for the other thing either, so
we still don't have that chapel here on our campus. That's
the only time I ever had any disagreement with Dr. Miller,
not about the conduct of mathematics or the work that we
were doing. We had a difference of ideas, that's all.
J: Right. There's quite a bit you had to do in the organiza-
tion of the Department of Religion here. I believe you've
mentioned some others. Dr. Philpott [Harry Philpott] and
perhaps Dr. Scudder, is it?
J: Let's discuss that a little bit. That's interesting. I
know, of course, they have a department here, but I've
never known the organization of it, how it got started.
K: Well, this is how it got started. As I have written there
on that, as I may have told you before, we had a YMCA. We
called it the University of Florida YMCA. And it was
housed on the campus. When I first came here, it was
housed in a little old wooden building that had been sort
of a mess hall for the World War I soldiers.
J: World War II, I guess?
K: No, for World War I. Yeah. And it stood about where the
old cafeteria.... Is there still a cafeteria in the snack place
in the back of this old Florida Union?
J: No sir.
K: In the basement?
J: No sir, not to my knowledge.
K: Well, there used to be.
J: Not being used, anyway.
K: There's where that building stood and that was the headquarters
for the University of Florida YMCA when I first came to the
university. I found out very shortly after I was here that
the University of Florida was under fire because there were
people of different religious denominations. Some of them
Christian, there were Jewish people and there were people of
other religions from foreign countries who couldn't see why
the university budget, why the state of Florida should fur-
nish the money to support a Young Men's Christian Associa-
J: There was contention, in other words, from other religious
K: Right, right.
J: Because of the Christian aspect of the YMCA?
K: That's right. That's right. And so the university decided
to--I'm sorry I have this frog in my throat,
J: Okay, sir.
K: Well, it was decided about that time just to abolish the
University of Florida YMCA, but then we had absolutely no
activity of any sort on the campus of the university,
Different denominations had their headquarters out around
the campus, but there was nothing to tie them together,
nothing to probably steer them a little bit to help them
to unify their work or anything of that sort, So it was
felt there ought to be something that the university could
do in that way. We didn't want to make any particular
kind of a Christian out of anybody, but we did want to
give them an understanding of the significance of the
Christian way of life there because America was built upon
that sort of thing. So, President Tigert [John J. Tigert]
appointed a committee to study the whole problem and make
recommendations. I was chairman of that committee. I
remember there were, Dean Beaty [Robert C. Beaty] was one
of the members of that committee.
J: Dean Beaty was what? In Arts and Science?
K: Well, no. Dean Beaty was the associate director of the
YMCA when I came here. And when the YMCA was discontinued,
they made him assistant dean of students later on. He's
still alive. He lives here in Gainesville. Well, anyway,
he was on that. J. Wayne Reitz, who later became president
of the university, was on that committee and John Maclachlan
who was head of the sociology department was on that
committee. I remember a few others. Dean Le'[NTownes
R. Lea3 who was dean of the College of Pharmacy at that time.
Anyway, we studied the whole thing. We consulted with
the best religious leaders all over the country. And
got their ideas and studied to find out what was going
on at other universities.
J: What was Dr. Philpott's position at this time? Dr. Harry
K: Dr. Philpott was not here at that time. He had done his
graduate work in Yale University Divinity School.
J: I see.
K: And he was very shortly after that looking for a job.
J: I see.
K: He was our second man that we brought here. And Dr. Scudder
was also a Yale graduate. Different department--one the
philosophy, religion, and the other religious education
and so on. But, we recommended a department, a department
of religion, just like you'd have a department of mathe-
matics. Not a department that would do evangelistic work
or of any sort, but a department that would set up courses
and tell what Buddhism was, and Confucianism was, and
what Zoroastrianism was and what have you, as well as
Christianity, Judaism, and all of those other things.
J: You mentioned now the contention from other sects about the
YMCA. Do you think this was a student-inspired department?
K: No, I don't think so at all.
J: Do you think the faculty decided it was necessary for the
K: No, I don't think it was student-inspired. I don't think
it was initiated by students. I think it was initiated by
a few people who are gunning for certain things, who are
trying to find something wrong, and that was a good thing,
too. They really had a point and we realized that they had
a point. And so, I think that's what started it. Anyway,
that's what started the Department of Religion. And I think
our committee did practically all of the initial work and
practically all of the spade work, too, in getting that
J: Sounds like it. Let's move away from the campus a little
bit and talk about some of the outside activities you've
been connected with over the years, which are numerous.
I see here you've done quite a bit of work with the
Kiwanis. Perhaps we can talk about that a little bit,
or perhaps some of your speaking engagements and your
commencement addresses. What was the subject of your
commencement address, summer of academic term there.
What year was that? You gave the summer commencement?
K: Well, I can't give you the date. That'd have to be looked
up, but I did give the commencement address at the close
of one summer term, and I also gave the baccalaureate
sermon at the close of another summer term.
J: You recall the subject?
K: What my subject was that that time, I can't tell you.
J: That was inspiring, I'm sure. Let's see. What about the
Kiwanis now? We started to mention that. I know several
prominent Floridians have been connected with the Kiwanis.
I imagine that organization has grown considerably since
you've joined just about first coming to Gainesville.
K: Well, yes. In Gainesville, for example, I suppose we had
thirty-five or forty members in the Kiwanis club when I
first became a member. I'm not a charter member. The
Kiwanis club in Gainesville was organized about fifty
years ago and I've only been here since 1927, not quite
enough to make fifty years. But when I came into the
club, we had probably thirty-five or forty members and
of course, we grew to a membership of about--as big as
we wanted to, as a matter of fact. We didn't want too
big a club. I think our membership got up to about 130
or 140 and then we decided to, to sponsor the organization
of a second Kiwanis club in Gainesville.
J: I see.
K: And that's what we did. We sponsored the organization of
the University City Kiwanis Club. Ours was the Gainesville
Kiwanis Club. We sponsored the organization of the University
City Club and that club has been a flourishing club and I
guess their membership is at least the size of ours now.
J: I see.
K: Now, in the course of time, the University City Kiwanis
Club sponsored the organization of a third Kiwanis Club
called the Gator Kiwanis Club here in Gainesville, the
breakfast club. They meet breakfast time. How many
members they have, I don't know, thirty-five or forty
I suppose now. So, Kiwanis has grown in this community
just like it has all over the country. And all over
the world, as a matter of fact. So, that's one of the
things that I have been interested in. It especially
appealed to me because my interest was more or less selfish,
I would say. It gave me a chance to make contact with
people from other religions, from the business concerns
of the city. For instance, as a teacher of mathematics,
or as head of the mathematics department even, what contact
would I make if I weren't interested in that sort of thing?
What contact would I make with some businessmen who weren't
particularly interested in what was going on in the Depart-
ment of Mathematics? When we both held membership in a
civic club like the Kiwanis Club--I'm not talking about the
Kiwanis Club as if it is the only one. There are other
civic clubs can do the same thing and do.do the same thing,
you understand. But you get well acquainted with a cross-
section of the leaders of the city. And that, I thought, was
a very valuable thing.
J: Yes. As a person that's lived in Gainesville for several
years and had been connected, at some extent, through
various clubs and organizations with the business communi-
ty, are you satisfied with the progress, you might say,
and growth of Gainesville? Do you see it going in the
right direction in these days, looking back and so forth?
K: Well, I believe what I'd have to say in answer to your question
there is that in some respects it certainly is going in the
right direction. In other respects, probably it's pretty
J: What's, what's the lighter aspect now you're referring to?
K: Well, I don't know whether I can or should try to be too
specific about it, but....
J: Just generally, you know.
K: You see very fine businesses develop as they should. But,
I always thought we were pretty much lagging in park space,
development of parks, and development of recreation. It's
coming, but it's lagging. It's still dragging and in
cooperation in many different respects and I've always
felt that churches and synagogues and so forth of that
city ought to cooperate much more than they do. Now that
isn't only a criticism of Gainesville. That's a criticism
about any city that you could mention. But I think that's
one of the big shortcomings worldwide. But why shouldn't
we recognize each other's ideals and why shouldn't we recog-
nize each other's goals and why shouldn't we help each
other as much as we could? And why shouldn't we have a
better understanding and communication among us? For
instance, in Gainesville, there were many times when they
started a ministerial association and they got so criss-
crossed in their ideas that they discontinued the associa-
tion. And a year or two or three years later, they'd
start another one. I don't think they've got much of anything
right now in the way of a ministerial association. I think
they ought to have a good one and a strong one.
J: Now, Gainesville's a rather small city, of course, and yet,
there's a very diverse religious group here.
K: Very diverse.
J: And you'd think by this time, they would have organized
somewhat better perhaps than they....
K: Yes, I think that's one of the things that could be done,
but I'm not criticizing the Gainesville community as a
whole unduly because I think, compared with other communi-
ties, we're doing very well, as a matter of fact.
J: What do you think the trouble is with downtown Gainesville?
I remember that was my first impression when I came here.
That, even though I was from Orlando, a rather large city,
I was surprised at Gainesville's downtown district. It
seems to be just dead. You know what I mean?
K: Well, it is. I'd like to know the answer to your question,
too, really. I don't know, but it's common to a good
many places. I think Winter Park had a lot of problems
there too, and they had to sort of revamp and rebuild
Winter Park. And now Gainesville. When, when we came--no,
it was quite some time after we came here, one thing that
I noticed and I ran into this, more or less, by accident
because I had a son who was a doctor and who was going to
set up practice in Gainesville, and so he wanted me, before
he ever got here, to try to help him to find a location
for an office. And this downtown business was so tightly
sewed up by zoning and you couldn't get out of the down-
town area to find any place that was zoned for a doctor's
office. And finally, he had to start out by renting just
half of a little bit of a building that was owned and the
other half of which was operated by an insurance company.
The only thing that he could find to set up an office.
Well, they held on to that thing too long. They wouldn't
expand the zoning so that you could put other businesses
a little further away and a little further out. So what
happened? Sears Roebuck, when they wanted to build their
present building, they wanted to build it right up here
where the Twin Theatres [Center Theatre], up here on 13th
J: Right. I believe so.
K: They wanted that put there. It was not zoned for that.
And the zoning board wouldn't let them do it. But what
did they do? They went further out. And pretty soon,
they had a shopping center out in North Main. Pretty
soon, they had a shopping center out where Sears is, in
the Mall. Pretty soon they had one out here in West
Gainesville and so on. That's what spread this thing
around more than it would have been spread. Taking the
new businesses that far away from the old business center
left that old business center as dead as a doornail. I
think that, partly at least, explains the trouble.
J: It seems to be a nationwide situation besides in Gainesville,
J: I know Orlando went through that problem for a while.
K: Yeah, there are a good many towns that have that problem
and I just don't know whether that explains it all or not.
J: Right. Well, let's go back to one other extracurricular
activity. You were involved in so much over the years.
This period of fifteen years when you were chairman of the
Board of Student Publications. I imagine it was quite in-
K: Oh, yes. I spent many a long night with the Board of Student
J: What do you think of student yearbooks as such? I know people
either like them very much, or they just don't bother buying
them at all.
K: Well, I think that back in the early days, it depends a great
deal upon the size of the university, I think, the college.
Take a small college. I think a yearbook and different types
of publications by students, by and for students, the im-
portance of that depends upon the size and the nature of
the school community. I think a small college gets a great
deal of satisfaction out of a good yearbook. I think the
University of Florida did, too, until it got up into the
many thousands of students of the student body. And then,
when that occurred, you have students of such wide diversi-
fied interests, such diversified background, and so forth...
K: ...that anything like a yearbook that would try to tie to-
gether the interests of all of those students, I believe
it's impossible. I don't know what success they're having
now. Can you tell me that?
K: I haven't followed it.
J: I don't think the sales are that good. That's just conjecture,
but that's just the atmosphere I feel.
K: Back in our day, when I was the chairman of the Board of
Student Publications, every student paid a certain fee. Out
of that fee, there was so much for The University of Florida
Seminole, the yearbook. And there was so much, of course,
for The Alligator. And there was so much for student publi-
cations, of Student Publications. We kept it very closely
budgeted, and within the budget. When I took it over, it was
in deeply in debt and that was one of the orders that I had
when I was appointed as chairman of the committee by the
president. And he said, "I want you to get that back on the
solid financial standing," and we really had to fight to come
out even on it, which we did, but made a lot of student
enemies by having to do that. We did put out a yearbook
that all students had paid for. And therefore, each stu-
dent came around and got a yearbook. Every student could
get his picture in it. Now, once in a while, there would
always be some who just wouldn't go to have their picture
taken and so their picture wouldn't be there. But every
student could have had their picture in it. And some of
those yearbooks were done beautifully and they were very
nice things. I imagine that the students appreciate them
J: I imagine there are a lot of persons that will regret, say
twenty years from now, that they didn't purchase one.
K: Probably so. I just don't know.
J: Right. We've mentioned The Seminole. What about The
Alligator? You've been retired since 1960. Perhaps
you've lost some contact with what's going on, but....
K: Yes, I have, But since 1960, I have paid very little attention
to The Alligator.
J: The big thing is just recently when Dr. O'Connell [Stephen
O'Connell] had it taken off campus.
K: Yes, that's true.
J: What do you think about that?
K: Well, that was an interesting thing to me because the
agitation for going independent, even when I was chairman
of the Board of Student Publications, was quite active.
J: I see.
K: There were a lot of students said, "Let's publish our own
J: Because of control factors or editorializing?
K: Well, yes. I think that was probably the main thing, This
is one place in Student Publications, for example, where
student authority and faculty authority, administration
authority come together and somebody has to yield to some-
body. You just can't avoid that, it seems to me. And so,
we had on the Board of Student Publications back in that
day, four members of the faculty who were appointed by
the president, and that included the chairman, and four members
of the student body who were elected by the students. So
we had eight members of the--now wait a minute--I guess it
was three members of the student body. I think that made the
three members of the faculty who usually voted, not counting
the chairman, and three members of the student body. So, you
could have a tie, don't you see?
J: I see.
K: And you could have a split between students on one side and
faculty on the other side. And we often had some very hot
debates and very great disagreements and so forth. And some
of the students got the idea that the students of the Board
of Student Publications were on one side and the faculty
on the Board of Student Publications were on the other side,
which never was the case, actually. But they publicized
that, talked it over the campus and they got it to be be-
lieved. I had our secretary make a check back for I don't
know how many years, in fact clear back to when I had begun
as chairman of the Board of Student Publications, as to
how faculty members voted and how student members voted
on every issue that came up. We didn't find but one or two
instances in which the students all voted one way and the
faculty all voted one way and the chairman had to break the
tie. Those were on little old silly questions as to whether
we adjourn now or whether we stay until one o'clock in the
morning to finish up the work or something like that.
J: I see.
K: When there was a tie and the chairman voted to break the
tie, just as often as not, he voted with the students as he
did with the rest of the faculty members. So there was
really no hitch there, but the idea is still there.
J: I don't see any difference in The Alligator now than I did
two years ago.
K: Well, I wouldn't think there really would be much difference,
but then, at least they're independent. And maybe that
satisfaction is...but they advocated for an independent
Alligator. But then of course, it was explained to them
"You can go independent if you want to, but you really will
be independent. You're not getting all this money. We're
not collecting this money for you. We're not doing this
for you. We're not doing that for you. And so forth.
You're just on your own. You're running a business. You're
starting a business and probably might fall flat on your
face, too." I don't know. I wonder how they're coming out.
Do you know?
J: I think they're keeping their heads above the water.
K: I hope they do.
J: But I don't know.
K: I hope they do, because it really is better for them to
K: But it's perfectly obvious that if people in the state and
then people in the legislature are going to hold the presi-
dent of the university and the faculty, the administration
of the university responsible for things that are in the
publications, then the president of the university and the
administration have got to have the authority to be restrictive,
to exercise that responsibility. It just can't be done any
J: I think the student body, for the most part, realizes President
O'Connell's position, when this occurred. I hope so, anyway,
because there are, of course, two sides to it. So, other
than a period of fifteen years, anything else besides year-
books and The Alligator? What else was involved with this
K: Oh, little things that'd come up, you know. For instance,
one time the president called me along about one o'clock or
midnight, I guess it was. The Alligator, incidentally, came
out once a week then and it was full-sized thing.
J: Just a regular newspaper then.
K: Yeah. A regular newspaper size came out in the middle of the
week, and I remember one time the president called me.
This is just one incident. There were a lot of them like
this, but somebody had told him that there was a certain
article that was going to be published in The Alligator
that was very violently critical of the governor, and some-
thing the governor had done recently and maybe the legisla-
ture, too. And, of course, back in that day, the university
was almost entirely dependent upon the legislature for all
the money that it had to operate with.
J: What time are we speaking about now, sir?
K: We're speaking about from 1927 when I first came here to
I suppose, 1945 or so. All these government grants and all
of these grants by private foundations and so forth, there
was very little of that that came the way of the University
of Florida back in that day. So we had to depend upon the
appropriation of the legislature for the money that we had
to operate the university with. Well, Dr. Tigert called
me and said that some legislator had told him that they
were going to publish as we had a kind of a militant edi-
tor at that particular time and, so I went down, dressed;
I had been in bed. I dressed and went down to The Gainesville
Sun office that published The Alligator at that time for us.
Sat down and talked to this boy about this thing for an hour
and a half, tried to point out to him that he was really
doing the university more harm than he was good by publishing
that. I knew what his intent was, but it would not accomplish
that. It would accomplish just the opposite because he
had antagonized legislators and antagonized the governor,
and maybe they would react in that sort of a way. It was a
little hard for me to see that they would, but the president
thought they would. And so, I went on home. He hadn't
said "I'm going to do it," or anything, but then when The
Alligator came out, he hadn't published it. Things like
that, you know, I ran into a whole lot of things like that.
J: What was The Orange Peel? I remember that, but I never did....
K: Oh, The Orange Peel was supposed to be a funny magazine. Jokes
and so forth and they usually got pretty raw, sometimes. So
we had to discontinue it once or twice and I believe once,
finally, we discontinued it altogether. And once or twice,
some things would come up and so, that was what The Orange Peel.
We also had a publication called--I can't even think of the
name of it--but it was supposed to be a sort of a scholarly
monthly. Other than The Law Review, but we didn't handle
The Law Review. But there was something along the line of
that. People wrote what they believed were about the highest
class stories and things of that sort that they could produce.
And we published those too. That was always pretty much
of a losing thing financially and so on.
J: Having been here since 1927, you've seen quite a bit of
change naturally. It's been said that probably in the next
several years, Gainesville--the University of Florida, I
should say--is probably going to end up something like the
California university system. In other words, the University
of Florida at Orlando, the University of Florida at Sanford,
or something. What do you perceive, if you'd like to comment
K: Well, I was a little surprised that we didn't do that at
the very beginning. When I first came here, we had the
University of Florida and we had Florida State University for
Women. And we had the University of Florida and Florida
State University when they both became co-educational. And,
then of course, the city, the state grew, and the university
system had to develop, they chose to set up the University
of West Florida, the University of South Florida, the
University of Central Florida, or whatever it's called now.
I don't know whether they have a name picked for it or not,
down at Orlando. Well, Florida Atlantic University, and I
believe there's going to be a University of Florida in Miami
now too. And certainly, they're building a University of
Florida--I believe they're going to call it the University
of North Florida. Well, I sort of thought that it would
have been better if it had been the university system, the
University of Florida system.
J: In Gainesville.
K: In Jacksonville, in Tampa, and so forth. It would have been
J: I see them as entities in themselves, you know. Competitive,
probably more than they are cooperative.
K: I think that you're right. I think that that promotes more
competition than it does cooperation. And what does that mean?
When you think in terms of such courses as physics and
chemistry and a lot of other research, medicine--well, we'll
leave the medicine out because we don't have medical schools
in too many of them yet. They all want one, I still under-
stand, just about all of them. But anyway, all of those
things require a tremendous amount of very expensive equip-
ment. Laboratory equipment, very expensive machines of
different types and so forth. Now, every time you set up
a new university, they want all those machines. They
want to build a good physics department. They want to
build a good chemistry department. If we had the Univer-
sity of Florida and then expanded the University of Florida
at Miami or the University of Florida at Tampa, your
graduate students that need that expensive equipment could
all be centralized in one place where you would keep most
of that expensive equipment. I think there would be a
great saving in that equipment. That's one respect. I
think it's a very important one. What do we have in another
respect? I don't know what kind of libraries these new
universities have. Do you?
J: Well, for instance, at Florida Tech [Florida Technological
University] or whatever it's called now, I know they had
quite a bit of difficulty organizing their library because
for one reason, of course, like in some of your mathematical
tracts, they're out of print and difficult to get, and they
had a heck of a time organizing a good research library.
Things are out of print and so forth.
K: That's just what I expected. What I would expect to see.
A lot of mathematics, very important mathematics has been out
of print for years and years. Some of them for centuries
and centuries. I worked for two weeks one time down in
the fourth basement on Park Avenue in New York in the private
library of, of George A. Plimpton, who was at that time,
head of Ginn and Company, printing. And he was a collector
of some of these rare and very costly and precious mathema-
tics books. Many of them not even printed, just written
in longhand and so on. He had his private library down
there and the man under whom I worked at Michigan knew
Plimpton and in that way, I had access to the use of this
library. Now, no library can replace those things. Nobody,
you can't get those things. I'm a little worried about all
of these universities in the state of Florida. They can't
have good libraries now.
K: Our library here at the University of Florida could stand
for a lot of improvements, if they could just get the books
and so forth. Florida State University built up a pretty
good library, but these other universities, these new ones,
I just don't believe they have a very good library. Now
if you're going to do really good, solid, honest-to-goodness,
hard research work in almost any field, you need a good
library. You need access to a good library. I think that
probably it is going to weaken some of the graduate work
that they do.
J: It'd almost have to, now. That in itself is enough to make
K: Right. If we had the system, you see, where they were all
tied.together, when you had graduate students who had reached
that stage where they needed this type of library equipment,
they could go to the other place, finish up their work.
J: I believe, for instance, Berkeley is where all the scientific
aspects of it is handled.
K: I think so for that work.
J: California and so forth.
K: That's the original.
J: Well, we've covered quite a bit of ground since before the
turn of the century. Is there anything you feel like we've
left out perhaps you'd like to expand upon?
K: Oh, I don't know.
J: You've had quite a varied and interesting career.
K: I don't really know.
J: You're satisfied with your life? There's nothing you would
change, do you think?
K: Well, I wouldn't say that. You know, I never have been quite
a 100 percent satisfied with...I've always wanted to reach
a little further, do a little more.
J: Well, I tell you. If you continue like you are right now, you'll
still have many years ahead of you.
K: Well, I'm working. I'm still working at things, but I'm
a little handicapped on account of a poor memory, now.
J: You're an inspiring person because I, for one, am interested
in an academic career. And you're a prime example of what
it can offer to someone, not only academic, but of course
your outside interests and so forth, also.
K: Well, I appreciate those nice remarks you're making.
J: And we thank you very much for this interview.