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Interview with Elizabeth Simpson, December 2, 1977

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Interview with Elizabeth Simpson, December 2, 1977
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Simpson, Elizabeth ( Interviewee )
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University of Florida Campus (General) Oral History Collection ( local )

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This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'University of Florida' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEWEE: Mrs. Elizabeth R. Simpson
INTERVIEWER: Mrs. Emily Ring
DATE: November 2, 1977


R: My name is Emily Ring. I am sitting in Ford Library in the
Florida State Museum where I am about to interview Mrs. Elizabeth
Simpson for the University of Florida Oral History Project.
Elizabeth, can you tell us the time and place of your birth
and who your parents were?
S: I was born in a small town in eastern North Carolina named
Rocky Point, not far from Wilmington, June 22, 1898. My mother
was Annie Piersall Loftin; my father was David Rountree; they
were both native eastern North Carolinians. When I was very
young, we moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, where I grew up
attending Tileston High School. After high school, my parents
moved to western North Carolina--Wilkes County--where my father
had a rather large apple orchard. I went to school and graduated
from what is now North Carolina State University at Greensboro,
but was then the state teachers college.
R: What did you major in at college?
S: It was required that you major in education as you were being
prepared to teach, and I took whatever education courses there
were. But I was not interested in teaching, and I majored in
biology and chemistry.
R: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
S: I have an older sister, Ila Pridgen, who-tookzover-for me as a
mother at my mother's death when I was about seventeen. A brother,
Robert, died at four years, before I was born. I had just finished
my freshman year at college at the time of my mother's death. We
were living in Wilmington, North Carolina, with my sister who had
married Dr. Claude L. Pridgen. During the war he served in the
medical corps.
R: You mean World War I?
S: That's right. He was in France, Belgium, and Flanders and was
gassed. This is another story, but my sister moved to Florida
because of a bronchial condition and built a home on Little Lake
Santa Fe. During my vacations I came down and stayed with her.


2
R: Going back to the university at Greensboro, was it called a
woman's college in those days?
S: That was later. It was a state teachers college.
R: Were the students required to wear uniforms?
S: No.
R: Was it coeducational?
S: No, it was never coeducational until recent years. After the
teachers college period it became the North Carolina State College
for Women. Later, during the era when everything was turning into
a university, the name was changed to the University of North
Carolina at Greensboro, and [it] was made coeducational.
R: About what period was your first coming to Florida to live?
S: I came to Florida to the university in 1921 as secretary to Dean [James W.]
Norman of the College of Education which was then the Teachers College
and located in Peabody Hall.
R: When Ila first built a house on Lake Santa Fe were there many
houses?
S: Practically none. She was on Little Lake Santa Fe, down at the
end of a long road which went way out into the lake. She was
surrounded by water on three sides. To get there you had to come
to Waldo and drive over a country road out there. Dr. Pridgen,
when he came back from France, opened a practice in Waldo. He
had to go out every day and drive to his office.
R: Is that house still there?
S: No, it burned down a number of years ago after she sold it. I
think they built another house on it. It's a beautiful location.
After she moved to Gainesville, her son was in the university and
her daughter was quite small. Dr. Pridgen's health had failed,
and she had to find a job. So she started working at the law
school.
R: How did you meet your husband?
S: On the campus. I took voice for a number of years from Alberta
Murphree who was then, Alberta Murphree Worth. She later married
Guy Hamilton. I sang and took the lead in operettas and musicals
on campus and in town. In those days Gainesville was smaller and
everybody knew everybody. I was also a soloist in the Holy Trinity
Church choir.


3
R: Are you speaking about the time period of what?
S: Ninteen twenty-one and following years. I met my husband through
"Berta" Worth. He sang with me in one of my recitals.
R: Now give us his full name?
S: He was Robert Shepherd Yeats.
R: What was his position on campus?
S: He was a graduate student in architecture. He got his master's
degree with the first post-graduate group at the university in
architecture. The other recipient was Bill Arnett, who later
taught architecture. We were married August, 1928, and he
finished his graduate work. We then left in the summer of 1930
and went to Miami where he worked as a draftsman in Miami Beach.
To help out I worked in the registrar's office of the University
of Miami, in Coral Gables. I continued there between my son's
and my first daughter's births. I went through the experience
at the University of Miami of the institution in bankruptcy. In
1931 my son was born. He was named for his father, Robert Shepherd
Yeats. My husband was a very fine musician--a baritone and
pianist. He was from Tampa and had studied voice with Alberta's
uncle. We were both interested in music which drew us together.
He sang also with the university glee club.
R: Was the present Auditorium in use then?
S: It was brand new. I sang in The Mikado. [I sang] the part of
"Yum Yum" twice in the University Auditorium. We did The Pirates
of Penzance and Friml's The Firefly. Of course, there were not too
many girls around except in summer when the teachers came, so I
had an awfully good time.
R: What did you think of the acoustics in the Auditorium in those days?
S: [They weren't] good for small groups.
R: Wasn't there some complaint about the acoustics of the original
Auditorium?
S: Yes, there was. We didn't have too much trouble with it, however,
because our programs played to packed houses. When you have a
lot of people, your acoustics are better. When you sing over
empty seats, the sound echoes around the seats and walls. I have
a picture or two of the cast of the "Pirates" taken outside the
old Auditorium. There was no foliage anywhere around--no land-


4
scaping had been done. It was brand new.
R: At that time did the university have a theater department as well
as a music department?
S: I believe that came later, and they didn't have much of a music
department. The university music department consisted of Claude
Murphree, who taught organ and accompanied everybody. He was
one of the most gracious people I ever knew. I could call him
up and say that I had to sing at the Rotary Club. "Oh, fine,
I'll be there." And we'd go over it, and he was always there and
always a fine accompanist. Dr. Wade R. Brown directed the band,
and taught violin. There was a men's glee club. I forget now
who direct that, but that was all the music that was offered.
R: Wasn't that Dr. John DeBruyn? [An M. A., not a Ph.D.--editor]
S: Yes, it was Dr. DeBruyn.
R: He was a very fine gentleman.
S: Yes, he was. We had lots of fun.
After we moved to Miami, the Depression set in earnest,
and we were not getting along well. Architects' offices were
closed. When Bob was three, my second child was born. In the
meantime I was working, at the University of Miami, and I sang
for Dr. Bertha Foster, Dean of the School of Music. I don't
know whether you ever heard of her or not, but she was a wonder-
ful musician and friend. She was also organist in Trinity
Church, Miami.
R: Is that an Episcopal Church.
S: Yes, and it's now the cathedral church. She had me do the soprano
solo work in that church and in return for that she provided voice
lessons for me in the conservatory.
R: Was yours a soprano voice?
S: Oh, yes--a coloratura soprano.
R: And your daughter Margaret is also a soprano, isn't she?
S: She's more lyric, but she can do more difficult arias than I ever
could. She was my third child. My second child, Carolyn, was born
in 1934. She likes music, but she didn't study seriously. She
took piano some, but we had little money. Margaret came along in


5
September, 1936. The Depression was largely over, and my
husband had gotten a job with Robert Fitch Smith, Architects
in Coconut Grove. Shortly after, we built our home there.
After that came World War II, and we were separated. I came
back to Gainesville with the children and returned to the
University of Florida to work.
R: He went into the service?
S: He didn't go into the service, but he went to Brunswick, Georgia,
where he was helping build shipyards. He and I separated after
that. I had the three children to take care of and little money.
I got the job of secretary in the graduate school with Dean
T. M. Simpson, and I was there for nine years, from 1943 to 1952.
Dr. Simpson retired in 1951, and he and I were married in 1952.
R: After he lost his first wife?
S: Yes.
R: She died?
S: Yes, she was an invalid for many years. She was bedridden for
at least the last two years. His daughter in the meantime had
married, and he was alone.
R: Tell me about what happened to your only son.
S: Well, my son graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Florida
with an A. B. degree and with a major in geography in September, 1952.
He had an ROTC commission, and he went into the army as a second
lieutenant. He taught colonels, generals, and others how to read
maps, but he never got overseas. (That was the Korean War.)
While in service he married in December of 1952. They finished
out his stint in the army, and he went West.
After his freshman year at the University of Florida, he got
a job in the YMCA camp at Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone Park, and
he said he was going to live in the far West. Before he finished
in the army, he started writing to graduate schools all over the
place. He and his wife went out to the University of Washington
in Seattle. They had a baby son by that time, and he, with the
help of graduate assistantships and the GI bill, managed to make
ends meet.
He changed his major from geography to geology. Dr. Richard
Edwards had much to do with that, because he took his first geology
course under him here. He then decided he'd prefer that major, but
he still had background work to do in geology.
They were at the University of Washington about four years. He got


6
his M.S. and his PH.D., and he got a job with Shell Oil Company
as a petroleum geologist. They settled in the Los Angeles area.
He worked for Shell for some years, but as he wanted to teach,
he was given an appointment as geology professor at Ohio Univer-
sity in Athens and was there for about five or six years. Now
he's serving as head of the Department of Geology at Oregon State
University in Corvallis. He decided he wanted to go West. He
loves the West Coast and the Cascade Mountains in Washington.
That's where he did his dissertation--on Mount Rainier and that
area. He also has received a number of grants from the U.S.
Geological Survey and Scripps Institute for research. In finishing
speaking of my family, my two daughters are married and have children.
I have ten grandchildren, and three step-grandchildren who were Dr.
Simpson's daughter's children.
Dr. Simpson was born on the east coast of Maine. I believe
the little town was called Addison. He left there and went to
Boston where he attended the Boston Latin School. He graduated
from there with honors and received a scholarship to Harvard. He
also got awards of various kinds. I had in his library a number
of autographed books; he was quite a classics scholar. The Boston
Latin School is one of the very oldest in the country, and the
people who graduated there almost always went to Harvard. He owned
signed books which I turned over at his death to the rare books
section of the university library here. He had a number of
autographed items that they wanted, so I gave them, knowing they
would be well cared for. He went to Harvard and graduated in
three years with the class of 1906. From there he went to the
University of Wisconsin at Madison.
R: He majored in classics?
S: No, he majored in mathematics; he had a double major in mathematics
and physics. He was also a scholar in Greek and Latin. He got a
master's. He taught while he was doing his graduate work in Madison,
and he and Frances Shulte were married. After he received his Ph.D.
in mathematics, he came to the University of Florida. They had
three children--two boys and a girl. They came to the University
of Florida where he was head of the Department of Mathematics and
also the only instructor. That was 1918.
While here I believe he contributed a great deal to building
up the standards of the university. He brought so many outstanding
people to the Department of Mathematics--men like Zareh Pirenian,
Dr. Franklin Kokomoor, and many, many others. A number of people
now have passed away. He built up the department to about fifteen
or twenty when retired. He kept the department headship after


7
he became Dean of the Graduate School, following Dr. J. N.
Anderson who was the first dean. At his retirement, Dr. Simpson
was named dean. In may not have too many of those dates down,
but he and I worked together in the graduate school, in Anderson
Hall, when about the only male students around were the lame and
those men too old for military service. In the summer we had
women teachers. He headed up the program for people in service
who came back to school. I don't know whether you know anything
about that or not.
R: Refresher courses?
S: Yes. They had to get anybody on the campus who could teach any
kind of mathematics. They would bring them into the program.
I know Dean Norman of education taught mathematics--plane geometry.
He loved the subject. I remember Judge Crandall taught mathematics.
Judge Crandall was a law professor and was quite a character. He
told a joke on himself. He would go to the class, and he would
have this lesson all planned out. But there would be somebody in
the class who would know more mathematics than he did, so he just
turned it over to the student. He was a very interesting man.
R: Those were the days when we had ROTC. We had navy boys on campus
and air force boys.
S: Yes, we had them from all the services who came here for just a
few weeks. As I remember, it was about six weeks.
R: Didn't they wear their uniforms to class?
S: I think so.
R: And it seems to me they marched in a platoon to class?
S: That's right.
R: And then they would stand up until the professor told them to
sit down.
S: I don't remember all the details, because I never attended one of
the classes. But that brought us some students on the campus
which was good for the university. Then of course after the war,
the GI Bill came in, and many of the young men came back. Some
had been wounded; some were in very good shape. They took advan-
tage of their opportunity to get university work, and they were
very serious minded students.


8
R: And some of them were married, weren't they?
S: A lot of them were married, and that was the beginning of the
Fla-Vet Villages. Students could rent them very cheaply, and
they had their wives here. Their wives went to work on the
campus, and the babies came along. I knew a lot of those boys
who were doing work under the GI Bill. They were wonderful
people, and they could not possibly have come to the university
without that help.
R: And in general they made very good grades?
S: They were serious. They had been out in the world. A lot of
them had maybe not even had jobs. They had finished high school
and then gone into the army. When they came out, they were sort
of at a loss. They knew that they wanted something. They came
here, and they worked very, very hard.
R: I always felt sorry for their wives because they had a hard life.
S: They did. And if you've ever been in any of those little Fla-Vet
apartments, you would understand how crowded they were. They were
all right for their purpose, but they lasted too long.
R: So often their wives would have to take jobs on campus?
S: That's right. I know any number of girls who did. As a matter
of fact I had girls working in the office with me who were
helping to put their husbands through school. And some of them
I've kept up with since they left.
R: They did have a little social organization, and some of the deans'
wives took an interest in them.
S: Yes. Well, Dr. Simpson wrote several textbooks. He wrote an
algebra and a geometry book on his own. Then he and Pirenian
collaborated on a book which was for college students. Their
most successful textbook was The Mathematics of Finance. There
were a number of revisions and a number of authors. It is still
in print, a fourth edition put out by Prentice-Hall Publishing
Co. The book was a terrificly popular mathematics text, and it
was translated into foreign languages, or maybe it was just sold in
places like Canada. Long before Dr. Simpson died, 100,000
copies had been sold,which is pretty 'good for a mathe-. .
matics textbook. Mr. Pirenian had done the work of setting up


9
the problems on the page. He is a very meticulous person as
well as a fine teacher. He arranged the problems on the page
so that at the bottom of the page you came to the end of the
problem--you never had to turn over the page to finish up the
problem. The publisher told him he had never seen such a
manuscript in his life. There was nothing he had to do to
change it. It was just perfect.
Anyway that is still in print, although its sales are
diminishing. There has been another revision, but the man
that did the final work on it did not do as good a job--it
has not been nearly as popular. Of course, the company thought
that the subject matter was not appealing to younger people.
Certain problems in aerodynamics and things like that had changed
in the meantime; so they got this man to do a rewrite, but it
has never sold the same. The old fourth edition is still being
sold.
R: Well didn't something called new math eventually come on the scene?
S: Yes, but that was after my husband. That created a terrific uproar
in the elementary and lower grades because the kids had to learn
entirely new concepts. I think now they're going back to the basic
mathematics--the way we were taught multiplication tables and things
like that. They weren't taught that.
R: So Dean Simpson was Dean of the Graduate School for how many years?
S: [He was] acting dean [from] 1938-1940 and dean [from] 1940-1951.
He retired in 1951 and died with cancer in February 1963.
R: And then who took his place as Dean of the Graduate School?
S: There was an interim period when Dr. Francis Byers was acting
dean for about a year. I stayed on in the Graduate School through
the period when Dr. Byers was acting dean. Then Dr. L. E. Grinter
was appointed, and I stayed for just a short time after he came.
R: And then Dean Simpson died in 1952?
S: No, we were married in 1952; he died in 1963. After he retired
and before we were married, he got a call from a little town in
Arkansas, Arkadelphia, where Henderson State Teacher's College
was. The Ford Foundation was setting up a program for training
teachers in basic subjects rather than so much education methods.
Henderson was asked to be included in that group. Dr. Simpson


10
took the job of coordinating the program for Arkansas. He
was sent to Henderson State Teacher's College in the fall of
1952, and we were married just before we left. I left the
university, and we went there for one year. But each year they
asked him to stay on another year, so that we were there for
three years.
R: Did you like it there?
S: I loved it. Arkansas is just such a friendly, wholesome place.
My older daughter, Carolyn, we enrolled in the college. She
had just graduated from P.K. Yonge High School, and she finished
at Henderson and got her degree. Margaret, the younger daughter,
was a junior in high school when we had to take her out of P. K. Yonge.
She finished high school there in Arkadelphia. In the meantime,
we built a home here after Dr. Simpson had sold the Simpson place
opposite the university. Mr. [George F.] Baughman arranged the
purchase for the university, but it was later sold again.
R: That was on SW 13th Street, right?
S: Yes, right across from the sinkhole where the alligator, Albert,
had his original home. I think there's a dormitory there now.
Anyway, we built a home on NW 12th Road. Then as we were moving
into the house, we got this long distance call from Southwestern
at Memphis, Tennessee, which is a Presbyterian College. [They]
wanted him to come and teach. He wanted to go; I knew that.
He was ill that summer because he had a gallbladder problem. When
he went into the hospital, they wanted to operate on him, but he
wanted so badly to go to Memphis to teach that we postponed surgery.
I put him a very strict non-fat diet, and we moved to Memphis. We
remained there two years.
R: At this time he would have been what age?
S: He retired at seventy.
R: From the deanship?
S: Yes, and the university. He was born in 1881.
R: In those days you could remain dean after the age of sixty-five?
S: That's right. It was only later that a regulation was passed
ordering a dean's retirement at age sixty-five.
R: So he was seventy when he retired in 1951?


11
S: And seventy-one when we were married, and he was teaching
actively for five years after retirement.
R: It sounds to me as though you took very good care of him if
he worked all those years after he was retired.
S: Oh yes. He had a very strong constitution. He was born in the
snows of Maine and was brought up in Boston. He was very hearty
[and] rugged. He used to laugh and say that only the strong
lived to grow old up there because the young ones were frozen
to death before they grew up.
R: Perhaps that explains why you have so many people in Maine up
in their nineties?
S: I think it does. They are tough, and if they can last to grow
up, they are very active to go on into an old age.
R: Did you like being in Memphis?
S: Yes, we liked it very much.
R: It was quite different than Arkadelphia?
S: Yes, quite different. Dr. Simpson was a strong Presbyterian. He
had been a ruling elder in the First Presbyterian Church here for
many years. In those days, they didn't rotate the positions of
elder very much.
R: Did you give up Holy Trinity Episcopal Church?
S: No. When we went to Arkansas, there were lots of Baptists,
Methodists, Nazarenes, and other sects there. I have read
since then why that was. They migrated West and started little
missions. But there are very few Episcopalians. So he joined
in with me, and we helped to start a little mission church with
about eight or ten other people--an Episcopal Church. The Bishop
of Arkansas held communion in our living room not too long after
we arrived. We had a very interesting time. At first we met
around in various places. Part of the time, a lawyer said we
could use his office on Sundays for our services. There was a
retired priest, Dr. Robert Browning, who was from Maine. He
came there with his wife, and we had services every Sunday.
R: Elizabeth, you've always been such a strong Episcopalian. Were
you born into this?
S: No, my mother was a Methodist. My father was a member of the
Christian Church, but he never did do much about it. I was
baptized as a Methodist.


12
R: But when you came to Gainesville, you affiliated with Holy
Trinity?
S: Well, I was confirmed in a little church, St. Paul's, in Waldo
by Bishop Weed along with my sister, Ila Pridgen. My sister
had been a member of the Baptist church, and her husband was a
very strong Baptist.
R: Ila was a strong influence on your life. She was your substitute
mother.
S: That's right. And she was educated at St. Mary's College in
Raleigh, North Carolina, which is an Episcopal school. She
majored in music (organ), and so that was the main influence
in her life. She influenced me, and we use to go over on Sunday
with Father Bill Stoney and hold services in the little St. Paul's
Church in Waldo.
R: I think it would be a great idea, Elizabeth, if some day you
would write a history of Holy Trinity Church.
S: I don't know it that well, but I do think it should be done. I
think that Mable Voyle is the one who would know most. Now
Lucia Gibbs is gone...her memory would have been invaluable.
Anyway, after we got a little church going in Arkadelphia,
the Reynolds Aluminum Company gave us a building. They had
started a big plant outside Arkadelphia, and they gave us a
portable building which was moved to a lot in Arkadelphia close
to the campus. That was our first little church, and we and a
few others took over the chores--the girls and I were the choir,
we taught Sunday School, and we swept out the church.
R: In the meantime, Dr. Simpson continued to go to the Presbyterian
Church?
S: Not often--he went with us. The Bishop and others thought they
were going to make an Episcopalian out of him, but they never
did. When we went to Memphis, we tried several Presbyterian
churches. I wanted to be fair about it, but they were a very
cold bunch of people there. You think that Episcopalians are
cold, but nothing like Memphis Presbyterians. We finally attended
Calvalry Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis. I joined-the
women's group, and immediately we were in the middle of the things.
They were very lovely to us, and we went back to the Presbyterian
Church only three times. Although that was a Presbyterian College,
the Episcopal church was where we found a home. When he came back
here to Gainesville, I went back to Holy Trinity. He would go


13
with me sometimes. I was still singing in the choir, and
he'd sit in one of the pews in front. And then I would go
with him--we'd sort of alternate. I got to enjoy both churches
and both congregations.
R: So you got to hear Preacher Gordon.
S: Yes, Preacher Gordon was a very close friend of Dr. Simpson.
In fact the first meal he had in Gainesville when he came here
was at the Simpson house. They were very close all of those
years. It hurt Dr. Gordon quite badly when Dr. Simpson died.
He insisted that the funeral be in the First Presbyterian Church
with Earle Page assisting. During his last illness, Father Page
was with us almost every day. He died in February, 1963, just
before his eighty-second birthday.
R: Was he ill a long time first?
S: He was in the hospital about a month. He had cancer--this is
hard to talk about.
R: Did he have a long terminal illness?
S: He was not feeling very well for quite a while. The doctor had
examined him and given him a clean bill of health. They couldn't
locate any trouble of any kind, but he kept saying he had pains
in his chest and through the middle of his body. They decided it
was a; flare-up of his gallbladder. He was admitted to the hospital
in January, 1963, and Dr. Babers operated immediately. I was then
told that he had cancer which was inoperable. So he never got out
of the hospital.
R: Did they have chemotherapy in those days?
S: Yes, they did. I talked to Dr. Babers, [and] I said, "This sort
of thing is something that I feel that I have to fight." He said,
"If it was in my family I wouldn't do it."
R: Can you tell us how you feel about Holy Trinity Church?
S: I think that really the church does not do enough for the old
people. The First Methodist Church does a great deal more than
we do. They have weekly luncheons, and they have a person who
works at the crisis center. If any of their members need help,
they can call and get it right away. Of course, if we need help
we can call the office, and Earle [Page], if it is physically


14
possible, will come to you. He is very, very devoted in his
attention to the needs of all of the parishioners whether they're
young or old.
But we have accented the young people, which is a
wonderful thing. I don't want to downgrade anything that
they're doing for the youth of this church because that is the
future. But there are people in the church who were in the church
and who built the church and have worked very hard--people like
the Cannons, Hamptons, Geltzes, Tuttles and others. The Geltzes
and Tuttles are still faithful, but some of the others just don't
come anymore. In the luncheons that we tried for the retired
groups we would get maybe fifteen people there on a good day, but
that took a great deal of effort to get them to come out. Of
course, a lot of them do not drive anymore. But what I want to
see is some effort made to recognize the people who built the
church--the older people while they're still around.
R: Yes. Well I guess a great many of them disapproved of the changes
in the service.
S: Well, Earle has done the best he could to give them the alternate
services where they're more at home. But I still know a number
of old people, and Mable Voyle is one of them, who go and do not
even try to keep up with the service in the new prayer book. She
just sits there, and so does Helen Winsor, who is not one of the
older members in point of membership. She is in her late eighties
[and] she attends regularly. Her feeling is like mine in that while
I do not like some of the things that are going on, I still am
not going to be run out of my church. Some of them have just
given up.
R: So you think that Holy Trinity is more effective with the young
families and younger people.
S: I know they are, and that's wonderful. They've got young and
middle aged husbands and wives, and children and young people
all coming to church, which is just absolutely fantastic.
There is something else I have wanted to talk to Earle about.
I mentioned to him a long time ago, after Julian Lachicotte left,
that I thought it would be nice if we got a retired or semi-
retired priest to work with older persons. St. Michael's has done
that. The assistant rector is a man who visits our people in the
hospitals. He has since left.
R: Tell us about your work in the hospital.


15
S: Well, for fourteen years I have been a volunteer at Alachua
General Hospital. I have put in more than 4,000 hours of
volunteer work, and I'm really quite happy about it.
R: You've seen some changes over there?
S: Very many changes.
R: Do you remember when they didn't have enough beds and they
had to put people in the halls?
S: I know it. My daughter had an emergency appendectomy and until
they got her to the operating room, she was in the hall. Then
when she came out, they put her next to the maternity rooms.
She hadn't married then. Some old gentlemen, a minister, came
by to see her. He said, "Mrs. Yeats," and she said, "I'm not
married." He was very upset because he thought he'd blundered
into a "fallen woman" and he left in a hurry.
R: Well, those were crowded days for Alachua General.
S: Yes, and now they have more beds than they need. Of course, there
are times when our census runs about 250 and up. We have capacity
for 400 beds, but all rooms are not furnished. I was on the
executive board for six years, but finally I said, "No, this is
long enough." Just like when I left the choir, I said, "I've
been there long enough."
R: If you ever need to go into Alachua General, they ought to take
you in free.
S: Well, the funny thing was in 1976 I had pneumonia, and I became
very ill over the weekend. My daughter took me to the doctor on
call for my doctor, and he sent me to North Florida Regional
Hospital. I was really embarrassed about that. Alachua General
sent me a beautiful floral arrangement to the rival hospital.
R: I didn't know you had pneumonia. In general your health is very good.
S: Oh yes. I have problems with arthritis like many old people and
trouble with my eyes. I also have a bronchial problem I have to
take care of, but one learns to live with such things.
R: Do you get to see your grandchildren very often?


16
S: Yes, I do. My daughter, the middle child, Carolyn, lives in
Texas, and we make it a point to talk by long distance each
week. Maybe once a year they come here, or I fly out there.
But I very seldom see my son and his family.
R: He's way up in Oregon?
S: Yes. I'm planning to go out there this spring. We've made
no definite plans.
R: Do you like to go on any of these conducted tours?
S: No, I don't. I think Ishould. I'm really inclined to crawl
into my shell. I joined the Retired University of Florida
Faculty group, and I've been to one luncheon besides paying my
dues. I had a real good time then, because I saw lots of old
friends. Phyllis Durell is trying to get me to agree to go to
a dinner theater in Ocala after Christmas.
R: Elizabeth, what do you think of the musical development in
Gainesville in recent years? It seems to me we have many more
concerts than we used to.
S: We do, and the University of Florida Music Department has grown
tremendously. For a while I didn't think much of it. My youngest
daughter is the musician in the family. She has her A.B. and a
master's degree from FSU.
R: That's Margaret Rice?
S: That's Margaret Rice. She got her bachelor's degree from FSU,
because when we were sending her to a university we sent her
where we thought she could get the best music and that was FSU.
There was not very much music here at that time. She met her
husband there, and he was majoring in music too. Then she
went on after they were married and got her master's degree in
voice and conducting under the most marvelous teacher, Miss
Elena Nikolaidi. She is a very close and good friend and a
marvelous teacher.
When Margaret came back here to live, she couldn't get a job
as she hadn't had education courses. She got a basic A. B. from
FSU with a major in music and literature. In order to teach in
the public schools she had to get another degree, so she got a
master's degree here in music education. She teaches elementary


17
music in Keystone Heights and teaches private voice students
after school. She's also singing at Holy Trinity as soprano
soloist. I'm very proud of my children. I think they've all
done well. I am closer to my daughters than I am to my son
which is regrettable, but it's one of those things I guess
you can't help.
R: Well, we want to thank you for coming on such short notice
and giving us the story of your life, Elizabeth.
S: I didn't talk too much about Dr. Simpson. I know Dr. Proctor
knew him very well. The old Who's Who has his basic dates--the
dates of his first marriage and his birth place, because it was
a little town. We had a home in Sullivan, Maine,for several
years after we were married. We went there in the summer which
was wonderful. Most of the time when we went up there, however,
we were fixing up the old house, repairing blinds and cutting
the grass that had grown too high all around. But it was a
wonderful experience.
R: If there weren't quite so many fogs up there, I would be happy.
S: We didn't go usually until July, and we came back early in August.
R: June is likely to be the foggy month there.
S: June is not the good month to me. That's a really miserable
climate, especially in the fall when the fogs came in, and it
starts getting cold.
R: Well, thank you so much.