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Interview with Herbert S. Wolfe, February 26, 1979

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Interview with Herbert S. Wolfe, February 26, 1979
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Wolfe, Herbert S. ( 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: Dr. Herbert S. Wolfe
INTERVIEWER: Steve Kerber
DATE: February 26, 1979


K: Today is Monday, February 26, 1979. My name is Steve Kerber and
I am going to be conducting an oral history interview with Dr.
Herbert S. Wolfe. Dr. Wolfe was formerly chairman of the Department
of Horticulture at the University of Florida. This interview
for the University of Florida's Oral History Project will take place
at 1:30 pm in Room 126 of the Florida State Museum.
We usually start by asking you to tell us your full name.
W: Herbert Snow Wolfe.
K: And when did you retire from the University of Florida?
W: June, 1964.
K: What was your faculty rank and status at that time?
W: I was professor of fruit crops.
h: In the....
W: Department of Fruit Crops.
K: Now, I will back up and ask you to tell me when and where you
were born.
W: I was born in Parkville, Missouri, September 14, 1898.
K: What was your father's name, Dr. Wolfe?
W: Arthur L. Wolfe.
K: And your mother's name?
W: Gertrude Snow Wolfe.
K: What did your dad do for a living?
W: He was professor of classics in Park College.
K: Was that a private institution?
W: Yes.
K: Was is religiously affiliated?
W: Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.


2
K: I see. Where did your father receive his education?
W: In City College, New York.
K: I see. Is that where your mother came from too?
W: Well, both of them lived in Montclair, New Jersey, which is
across the Hudson from New York.
K: Did he teach there for a long time?
W: Yes, forty-two years. That was his only teaching position.
K: So, you would then have gone to grade school and high school
in that community?
W: That's right, and college.
K: When did you graduate from high school?
W: 1914.
K: And did you immediately enter college at that time?
W: Immediately.
K: At the school where your father taught?
W: Um hum.
K: Did you have hopes of following in your father's footsteps?
W: I never thought of anything else.
K: I see. Did you attend that school for four years?
W: Yes.
K: And what then was your undergraduate degree in, what field?
W: I had majors in Latin and English, and three years each of
physics and chemistry.
K: Now, when you got out, did you immediately decide to go on to
graduate school?


3
W: No, I started teaching.
K: In the community?
W: No, I taught for about three weeks in a high school in Kansas,
and then I entered the Marine Corps for training. And the
Kaiser heard I was coming and threw up his hands, and so after
Christmas I went to St. Joseph, Missouri, where I taught a high
school the rest of that year. I was teaching Latin and mathematics.
K: When did you finally get around to going on to graduate school?
W: After I had studied abroad and went to the University of Kentucky
to teach botany, and realized that I needed a great deal more work
in that field if I was going to stay in it; so I started my graduate
program.
K: I see, okay, let me get the chronology straight then. After you
had taught high school, did you just decide to travel in Europe
for a term?
W: No, I taught the spring semester in St. Joseph, and the next year
I taught a full year at Salt Lake Collegiate Institute in Salt
Lake City, which is a church school. While there, I had an offer
of a Rockefeller studentship at Trinity College, Dublin, which I
accepted. So I spent the next year in Dublin, in school. And
when I returned from that I went to the University of Kentucky.
K: I see. When, exactly, were you at Trinity? What time period?
W: One year, from September, 1920 to June, 1921.
K: And were you studying Latin or literature or...?
W: No, I went there expecting to study physics, and realized that I
did not have enough mathematics to proceed in physics, and instead
I went into study botany, which I had not previously done anything
in, except a little high school work [chuckle].
K: What was it that aroused this interest in sciences in you?
W: Well, I had always, as I said, I had three years each of physics
and chemistry, and so the natural sciences are not too much out
of the way for them, and they had an outstanding man teaching
botany there. So when I realized I couldn't go ahead in physics....


4
K: Who was that?
W: That was Professor Henry Dixon, who had achieved international fame
for his studies on the transpiration of sap in plants.
K: When did you then choose to go to the University of Kentucky in
particular?
W: Because I had a job offer.
K: They wanted you to teach in what field?
W: The Department of Botany.
K: In the Department of Botany?
W: Yes.
K: And at that point you still only had your bachelor's degree?
W: Yes, and no credits in botany.
K: Was that a very large department, or was it just starting out?
W: Oh, no, it was an old department, and there were two of us on
the staff, permanent staff, and there were two graduate assistants.
K: What kind of a teaching load did you have to teach?
W: As I remember, it was about fifteen hours.
K: And all the courses were in botany?
W: Yes. I was specifically hired to teach plant physiology, and I
also taught the elementary botany course in several sections.
K: Now at the same time pursuing work on your master's degree.
W: Beginning the next summer.
K: Beginning the next summer.
W: I spent the summers from then until 1930 at the University of
Chicago and three full years, in that time nine years.
K: So during that entire time you were teaching still at Kentucky?


5
W: No.
K: You weren't, okay.
W: No, I taught three years at Kentucky, and in 1924 I became a
graduate assistant in botany at Chicago, and for two years I
stayed there, instead of simply as a summer term, and on the
staff. Then I taught for three years at West Virginia University
in the botany department, and the final year, '29-'30, I was back
at Chicago as a Coulter fellow. Once again the means of livelihood
supplied me well.
K: Now what was it that drew you to Chicago? Did they have an ex-
cellent program at that time?
W: I thought they had an outstanding botany department at that time.
K: Who was the man that you did your Ph.D. with?
W: Charles Shull, who was a plant physiology professor there.
K: What was the subject or the topic of your dissertation?
W: The ripening of bananas with ethylene.
K: This was an artificial process?
W: Yes, although one which is natural also, in that the production of
ethylene by other fruits tends to speed up the ripening of almost
any fruit. It will do the same thing with tomatoes and apples,
and since bananas are always harvested in a very green state,
and have to be held for some time in ripening rooms before they
can be sold to the public, there was some interest in the use of
ethylene for this purpose, and I was studying what exactly happened
inside the banana when it was so treated.
K: Now, when did you actually receive your degree from Chicago?
W: June, 1930, my Ph.D.; I'd had a master's degree previously.
K: I should ask you also when they awarded the master's degree.
W: June, 1925.
K: Now, how did you come from Chicago to Florida? I understand you
worked first down at Homestead? Is that correct?


6
W: When I finished my work in 1930 at Chicago, I had two offers. One
was from the University of North Dakota to teach plant physiology,
and the other was from the Florida Experiment Station to take charge
of the branch station at Homestead, the subtropical station, that
was just being started. I was the first person in charge of it, and
I've always been glad that I decided to come to Florida instead of
North Dakota.
K: Did you write and apply for that position or did you hear of it from
a friend?
W: I think Dr. Shull had had some word that they were looking for a man,
and consequently, I presented my application.
K: Did you write to the director of the station here?
W: Actually I wrote to a man in charge of horticulture in the exper-
iment station, because it was under his aegis that I was going to
be at....
K: Was that Dr. Camp at that time?
W: That was Dr. Arthur Camp.
K: Did you then come down here for an interview?
W: No.
K: It was all conducted by mail?
W: All done by correspondence.
K: When did you make the move? When did you come down to Florida?
W: I think it must have been around the first of October, because
I spent the summer of 1930 in Europe. I went over to attend the
Botanical Congress and then travelled, and it was certainly well
along in September, at least, when I got down here. When I
arrived in Gainesville, there were two railroad stations, and
Dr. Camp was at one of them and I came to the other one. Fortu-
nately he realized pretty soon that if I wasn't at one I must
be at the other, and so we made contact.
K: Was this the first time you had been in the state of Florida?
W: Yes, my first, although my grandfather had spent several years
teaching at Tallahassee more than 100 years before. Well, not
more than 100 years before. This was 1930, and it was in the
later 1840s that he was teaching in Tallahassee.


7
K: Really, what was his name?
W: He was Aaron R. Wolfe.
K: I see. Well, what was your first personal impression of
Gainesville and of this campus?
W: Well, that's nearly fifty years ago, and I really don't have
any clear recollection of it. The college, of coursewas, the
university was very much smaller than it is now, around 2,500
students, as I remember.
K: Do you recall if you were disappointed?
W: No.
K: You had been used to a large urban environment.
W: No, I wasn't particular, because I was also familiar with small
colleges, and this was much bigger than the college that....
K: Well, was it Dr. Camp then that explained to you the kind of work
that would be involved down in south Florida?
W: Well, he took me by car down to Homestead then, and helped me find
a place to live, and I very soon found that while I was hired
primarily because I was a plant physiologist, what they needed
was a tropical horticulturist. They really didn't need a plant
physiologist at all for the work that needed to be done there.
K: What did they have in mind, and what needed to be done down there?
W: Well, they were the source of information for studying the
culture of avacados and mangos and guavas and other such tropical
fruits, in addition to oranges and grapefruit and limes, which
were a very, Persian lime's a very large industry. The sub-
tropical station needed to do investigative work with the culture
of these, primarily fertilizer techniques, because it was quite
a different type of soil from that on which most of the citrus
of the state is grown, which is sand, and this was limestone rock.
So we started plots, fertilizer plots, planted out. We had to plant,
there was nothing planted, and we had to plant out all the trees
of all of these fruits and then lay out fertilizer plots on them.
We also had a large vegetable growing project out on the marl glades.
We had ten acres or so, and there we conducted experiments on the
culture, primarily fertilizing, of potatoes and tomatoes as the
two main crops that were grown in that area; and those still are being
continued down there.


8
K: Were there any buildings at that point?
W: Yes. They had erected the previous year a laboratory building with
office space, and I think the barn went up after I was there. I
seem to remember the construction of that, so's to have a place to
house the tractors and other machinery, store fertilizer, and what
have you.
K: Now when you arrived there was no one on the staff there. You were
the first member?
W: No, there was a young man on the staff who had been there for a
year, who had graduated from the horticulture department here,
Leonard Toy. And he had been there the previous year and he worked
with me then. And there was also a man doing work with vegetable
diseases, and he had an office in this new building when it was
opened up, and Mr. Toy and I had our offices there and we employed
a secretary and that was our staff, originally.
K: Do you recall the name of the third man?
W: No, I can't at the moment remember the plant pathologist's name.
It may come to me... he was Stacy Hawkins.
K: How long did you work down there at Homestead?
W: I was there for eight years, and in 1938 Dr. H. Harold Hume, who
by that time had become dean of the College of Agriculture here, and
had met me on visits down there, asked me if I would come up to the
university and become the head of the horticulture department, because
the man who had been in that position for many years was retiring.
He had also been dean of the college, Wilbur Floyd. And so in the
fall of 1938 I came to Gainesville as the head professor of horticulture.
K: While you were at Homestead did your work take you around south
Florida...
W: Oh, yes.
K: ...or where you stationary pretty much?
W: No, I did a great deal of travelling.
K: When you did go out, were you going out, having been perhaps
summoned by a county agent, or were you just out trying to examine
the crops that were being grown in the area and see what was what?


9
W: I can't remember any case in which I was specifically requested by
a county agent to come and assist him, but I wanted to visit all of
the areas where avacados, particularly, were being grown, because I
was writing a bulletin on avacado culture. I needed and I wanted
to be in contact with the men who were growing avacados, and the
county agents who were helping them, and the nursery men who were
producing the plants, all of those.
K: How large an area, at that time, would have been involved? Was it
just the counties on the lower east coast or did you go to the west
coast at all?
W: There was very little commercial on the west coast. There were,
at that time, even as far north as Polk County, some commercial
avacado plantings, which later disappeared. And then down in the
county just south of that, Highlands, there were several commercial
orchards of avacados, and even over toward the west coast at that
elevation. But down around Fort Myers, there was only a little
commercial planting, although there were some then, which largely
have disappeared now. Out on Pine Island there were some where they
had unusually good water protection from cold. There were both
avacado and mango plantings. But the big production was the lower
east coast.
K: When you travelled for the state, were you travelling in a state
supplied vehicle, or did they have any...?
W: I got mileage. I had my own car and I got mileage.
K: That must have been fairly adventuresome in those days, considering
the condition of the roads.
W: [Chuckle]. Yes, the roads were not nearly as satisfactory to ride
on as they are now. A good many sand roads. I remember one up
near Deland where there was a brick road eight feet wide and when
you met somebody, both of you got off half of the road and got back
on again.
K: Did Dean Hume come down and see you and tell you that he wanted you
to come back up here?
W: Yes, he came down several times, in his official capacity of visiting
and checking on the experiment station. So that he had quite a
little contact with me.


10
K: Roughly how often would you say that he went out and visited the
various sub-stations?
W: Well, I think only once a year. I think it was a routine annual
inspection.
K: Once a year. Would you tell us a little bit about Dean Hume's
personality and character? What sort of person he was?
W: He was one of the finest men I have ever known, and everyone who
ever had anything to do with him, I think, was strongly persuaded
of his integrity as well as his very considerable ability. Conse-
quently, he was highly regarded by the horticultural people of the
state. He was, I think it was something like twelve years continu-
ously, re-elected president of the State Horticultural Society until
he insisted that he be allowed to take a vacation. He had come to
Florida originally before 1900 when the College of Agriculture was
up at Lake City. That had been his first acquaintance with citrus
fruits, but he became quite a scholar in that field, and he wrote the
first book on citrus in Florida. Then he left Florida for a few years
and went up to North Carolina, where, of course, they didn't grow any
citrus; they had apples, which he had plenty of experience with in
his home back in Ontario, Canada. And then after a few years, he
came to Florida again, somewhere around 1915, I've forgotten exactly,
to take a position as secretary of the Glen St. Mary Nurseries, which
really amounted to being manager, and he was at that until the big
fruit-fly campaign in 1930, when he left the nursery and came back
and worked with federal and state officials.
K: I know, of course, you were just finishing up your degree at that time,
but did you have any contact at all with the eradication campaign?
W: No, that was all pretty much over by then; it was '29-'30 mostly that
that took place. So when I came here that was history. There were
still plenty of evidences of the Boom of '28-'29, towns laid out but
no buildings.
K: Now you mentioned a little while ago, Major Floyd who had been,
you say, the head of horticulture before you came here.
W: Yes.
K: Do you know if he was the only one that had been the head or the
chairman? Had there been anyone before him that you're aware of?
W: While the college was at Lake City, there had been others. I'm
not sure but what Major Floyd was the first one after it was moved
down here in 1906, but I'm not real positive about that.


11
K: Would you tell us something about Major Floyd, what he was like?
W: He was a rather quiet, somewhat unassuming man, but very conscientious
and very devoted to his work, both as dean and as a professor of
horticulture. My only contact with him was informal, because he
had retired when I came up here, but I went to visit him and he
very kindly gave me his files of lecture notes on some topics that
I was not too familiar with.
K: Are you aware if he had, at any point while you were in the state, any
duties with the experiment station or the extension service? Or
did he restrict himself exclusively to the College of Agriculture?
W: No, his appointment was only in the College of Agriculture. He
was officially assistant dean because the director of the experiment
station was, by statute, also dean of the college, but he didn't
do anything about it. Major Floyd did all of the deaning that was
done.
K: I see. I should ask you, when you were invited to come back here,
did you then become a member of the faculty in agriculture, or...?
W: Yes, I left the experiment station then and became a member of the
agriculture faculty.
K: Was there just one Department of Horticulture in the college, or
were there two?
W: There was one in the college and one in the experiment station, and
they were quite independent.
K: So that being a member of one, you would not necessarily be a member
of the other.
W: In fact you could not be.
K: You could not be. I see. Would you explain to us, for the benefit of
the people who will be reading this, the changes that occurred as
far as the name, or the terminology of horticulture department? I
mean as over the years, as far as it, I think, coming into three de-
partments, and then coming back into one as plant sciences. If I
got that straight.
W: Uh huh. I don't think it had ever come back into one.


12
K: It didn't come back into one?
W: No. In 1955, I remember the date because I was seventeen years as
head of the horticulture department, there was a union of the ex-
periment station and college departments of horticulture, and I
think also of agronomy and soils, and other things. Since the ex-
periment station horticulture department was very much larger than
the college one, although, by that time the college had five or six,
well, there had been three men when I started in 1938, and there were
five or six on the horticulture faculty of the college by 1955. But
the experiment station had three times that many. Consequently, the
experiment station named the department head, and I no longer held
that office. At the same time, they divided into the various phases--
vegetable crops, fruit crops, ornamentals, and food technology or
processing. So that they made four departments out of what had been
one. From one in the college and one in the experiment station,
now there were four combined, and, as far as I know, that has not
been changed. I could be mistaken, because I have no official con-
nection anymore.
K: I wonder if I could ask you to explain for us the, how should I put it,
the areas of agriculture that were encompassed in the term horticulture
when you came to Florida, and if they changed over that time that you
were here?
W: Well, because the department was divided into separate divisions,
horticulture normally includes fruits, vegetables, flowers, and or-
namental shrubbery. All of those were included in one department in
the experiment station, and all those were taught in one department in
the college. Because the station department staff was getting quite
large, they thought it was better to divide up and have four departments,
each with a smaller number of staff.
K: Okay, now when you came back here to Gainesville, what was your
official title, and what were your duties?
W: I was head professor of horticulture, or head of the Department of
Horticulture. And my duties were primarily teaching courses in hor-
ticulture. Being a plant physiologist, I taught the physiological
aspects of it, and I taught the beginning horticulture course. We
had an excellent man who had long been teaching the citrus courses,
and he also taught vegetable courses. Later on, two men took over
when he died a few years later, one man for citrus and one for vege-
tables, but Professor Charles Abbott covered both of those. Mr.
John Watkins, who had been in charge of the greenhouses, was not at
first a professional staff member, but he taught the laboratory part


13
W: of the landscaping courses; and then, after a few years, he came on
as assistant professor and taught the landscaping course and flor-
iculture courses.
K: Who was, then, the person that you reported to in the college?
W: The dean, who was Dean Hume.
K: At the time you came back, was Dr. [Wilmon] Newell still here?
W: Yes, yes. He was director of the experiment station, but I cannot
be sure whether he was still technically dean and Dr. Hume only
assistant dean, as Major Floyd had been. But anyhow, before very
long, perhaps on his retirement, that phase of his responsibility
was taken from the directorship of the experiment station. His
successors were not dean of the college.
K: Would you tell us about Dr. Newell, what you thought of him, how
you would evaluate him?
W: Dr. Newell was a first-rate administrator. He had been an ento-
mologist originally, and came to Florida to run the fruit-fly
campaign in his capacity as an outstanding entomologist, and remained
to be the director of the experiment station. My relations with
him were always very pleasant. The only thing approaching unpleasant
was that one time I signed a letter as director of the subtropical
station, and he wrote me, there's only one director in the experiment
station, that was Dr. Newell. I was horticulturist in charge, but
I was not director. Of course locally down there, everybody thought
of me as being the director of the branch station. But he wasn't
nasty about it at all. He wanted to be sure that there was no
crossing of the lines. He was very helpful to me when I had occasion
to ask him for help. I only saw him on his annual visits as a rule,
but I thought very highly of him, and he was a very capable man.
K: Speaking of Homestead again, I meant to ask you, were the people
down there able to receive the lunch hour broadcast of the Florida
Farm Hour on WRUF? Do you recall that?
W: I'm not sure that they were operating in the early '30s. I heard
them regularly when I came up to Gainesville, after 1938. I had never
had a radio down there myself, .and I don't know whether anybody ever
heard it or not. No one ever mentioned it, and I had none and there
was none in the office of the subtropical station, so that I didn't
know about them until I came up here and heard them.


14
K: Where was your own office and your department's office located when
you came back here?
W: In Floyd Hall.
K: In what part of the building?
W: In the southeast corner of the second floor.
K: Right there looking out on the plaza?
W: Looking right out on the plaza, which was very convenient because
when my wife came to get me at noon I could look out the window
and see that her car was down below awaiting me.
K: Was that where the department was located during the entire span
that you were the chairman?
W: Yes. The year before I was superseded, we had been drawing plans
for McCarty Hall, and I had planned my office in McCarty Hall and
the offices of the other members of the staff. Naturally when we
moved into there I didn't have that office; the head of the department
had it. But up until then we had been in Floyd Hall except we had
two men who had offices down in a temporary building, which was across
the street from where the Music Building is now. On that corner
there was, the post office was near there, and there was a temporary
building, and there two of my staff had offices.
K: Did the architects and consultants who designed McCarty seriously
take into consideration all the suggestions that you and the others...?
W: Yes, I think so. I had no feeling that we were not being listened to.
They planned it, as far as I could see, in accordance with the sugges-
tions that we made.
K: Now, as far as your own teaching, were your classes also taught in
Floyd Hall?
W: Yes, right next door to my office was the classroom where all of the
horticulture classes were taught.
K: And then when they openedthe McCarty complex, were they...?
W: The classes were all in McCarty Hall, except for the laboratory
phases. We had a citrus laboratory built out where it is now, and
where the orchard is, the citrus grove and the greenhouses; all of


15
W: those I supervised the planning for [chuckle]. Even laid out, I
remember having to go out with two of my associates and a 100-foot
tape and figure out where things could go, where there was room to
put things.
K: About what time would you have been engaged in doing that?
W: That would be 1954.
K: Had there been any plots and orchards and groves located on campus
before that time?
W: Yes, there was. Where the Music Building is now had been where the
citrus grove was located, and immediately south of that, which is
an orchard of pear trees and persimmon trees and some other deciduous
fruit trees. So that right down that road we came first to the citrus
and then to the deciduous fruits. Those were not very large, but
they were enough to give us some class activity.
K: Now were there greenhouses when you came back here from Homestead?
W: Yes.
K: Where were they located?
W: The greenhouse and the vegetable plots were all located where the
Architecture and Fine Arts is now, from that south along 441 and west
along that campus drive, Newell Drive, or whatever it is they call
that.
K: Were the people, the men who took care of the grove areas and the
greenhouses, members of the agriculture college, or were they members
of your department?
W: Well, that's the same. My department was in the college. Yes, Mr.
Watkins, who had charge of the greenhouses, was an assistant in horticulture,
and Professor Abbott, who had the vegetable plots for the
students to plant out, was professor of vegetable crops in the horticulture department.
K: Would those gentlemen have had any helpers working for them other
than students?
W: Oh, yes. Yes, we had two, I think, black, very faithful and helpful
men working full time.
K: Would they have been paid through your budget too, or were they just
university workers?


16
W: No, they were paid through our horticulture budget.
K: Did that continue throughout your entire tenure?
W: Yes, because when we moved to the new building, McCarty Hall and
the building on the Archer Road, where the greenhouses and the
citrus laboratory and all are, and then we had the vegetable garden
down the hill north, so that we gave up all of those other areas and
had entirely new areas for all of our classes, the laborers moved
with us.
K: Did your people ever have any responsibility for the herb garden that
was set up?
W: No, that was all pharmacy.
K: Were the students who came here in the late '30s, who majored in
horticulture, invariably from a farm background, or have you ever
made any reflections on that?
W: Well, I very well remember one chap who was pretty well lost, and he
explained he came from New York, and when he got off the train he
asked somebody who was student here and he told him that horticulture
was a pretty good department. So he came over and enrolled. He
had absolutely no background for it, and it was pretty difficult.
I think he moved over into something more suited to his capabilities.
But most of them were people from citrus growing or vegetable growing,
or something like that.
K: Were there many job opportunities in those days for someone who
went through and got a horticulture degree?
W: Yes, usually there was not much problem with finding a place either
on the extension staff, or in the industry itself.
K: Were you turning out people at that time who were eager to go into
more the business side of citrus? In other words, if a young person,
a young man in the late '30s wanted to get a degree that would do
him some good in the commercial aspects of citrus, would he have been
coming through your program, or was there anything in the College of
Business that would have been oriented to that?
W: That wouldn't have helped him much, because he would have absolutely
no knowledge of the operation. He might have known how to keep books,
but not how to successfully grow, and of course all of our students


17
W: took courses in agricultural economics, were required to. Every
horticulture major had to take certain specified courses in soils,
in entomology and plant pathology, and in agricultural economics,
so that they would be well-rounded in their training for going back.
But our aim was to produce a man who could successfully operate a
citrus grove or a vegetable operation.
K: Were the library books and journals and other materials relating to
horticulture housed in the main library at that time?
W: No, well, the agriculture library, mostly, although at that time
departmental libraries were permitted. A number of departments
had quite a group of books of their specialty in the department
offices rather than in the main library. Some years later that policy
was abrogated and all books were supposed to go back to the library
itself.
K: Did you have such a collection in horticulture?
W: Yes. Not a big one, but quite a number, so that students could come
in and browse.
K: And that, of course, would have been located, once again, in Floyd
Hall?
W: In Floyd Hall.
K: In the department itself?
W: Yes, that was part of the department office.
K: How was that run, was there a librarian of any sort?
W: We didn't check out books. This was only to come in and read in
the office.
K: Was it available to students on the weekend or at night, do you recall?
W: It would have been very difficult to try to do that because the
offices were locked.
K: So they just had to come during the day.
W: Of course they had also books in the library. We didn't have all
of the library books, but we did have some.


18
K: So then the majority of the material relating to horticulture would
have been in the agriculture library?
W: Yes, in the agriculture library.
K: Do you recall any horticultural materials in the main library when
you came back, or any that you have received maybe separately?
W: I don't think so, because anything which was likely to be useful
would have been put:into the agriculture library.
K: Do you recall if horticulture had a budget for books within the ag.
library budget, or did you perhaps have your own department budget
for books?
W: I just do not remember clearly on that. I don't remember a depart-
mental book budget, so I suspect that it was handled through the
library, but I have no clear recollection on that.
K: I'd like to ask you if you were involved in committee service on
any one or two committees for any long period of time where you were
a faculty member.
W: Yes.
K: Could you tell us a little bit about that?
W: Quite a few. One of the longest periods was on the Latin American
Studies program and also the Florida Press. I was on the committee
when that was first set up and continued tobe a member for a good
many years.
K: How did you get involved in the Latin American committee business?
W: Well, I think it was primarily because there was a great deal of
Latin American horticulture, and I had visited down there several
times and was much interested in the tropical horticulture that was
carried on there.
K: Had you gone to Latin America as a university employee or just on
vacation?
W: For a number of years there was a tropical section of the American
Society for Horticultural Science which met annually in some Latin
American country for a week, and we took trips around the area as
well as had meetings where papers were read by us and by our Latin


19
W: American colleagues. So that I've had some background there.
K: Did you have the opportunity to meet Professor [Peter Henry] Rolfs
[Director of Agricultural Experiment Station and Division of Univer-
sity Extension]?
W: Yes, I knew him very well indeed. He was in Brazil at the time
when I came here, and it was not until he retired from that that
I met him, but I'd of course known about him from his long years
here before he went to Brazil. He had gone there before I came to
Florida and so I didn't meet him until he returned.
K: Did he retire to Gainesville when he came back?
W: Yes. Lived here for a number of years.
K: What were your impressions of him?
W: I was glad to have had a chance to know him because he had left
a fine heritage of accomplishments here during his long period as
station director and before that as horticulturist, and so I was
very glad to meet him. There wasn't very much that we could do.
He, as I say, he was retired.
K: Did you ever discuss the work that he had done in Brazil with him?
W: No, I don't think I ever did. His daughter, Clarissa, who had
worked with him there for some years, I talked with more than I
did him.
K: Is she still alive, do you know?
W: I don't think so; I think she is dead. His older daughter, Mrs.
Robert Hargrave, is still living. She lives over at Trenton or
something of that sort.
K: Well, let me ask you about the committee dealing with the University
Press. Roughly when did you get involved with that?
W: I have nothing to fix my memory as in the way of a date. It was
when it was first started that I came in contact with it.
K: Do you recall any of the other members of that committee, the people
that you served with?
W: I can't remember the early ones, although I ought to because I
knew them all very well. In fact, it's just hard to fix personnel.


20
K: Well, that's all right, I just thought I'd follow up. In doing a
little research, I noticed there was a lady named Rosalee Wolfe
who taught at the P. K. Yonge lab school in the mid-'30s. Was
she related to you?
W: Never heard of her.
K: Are you married?
W: Yes.
K: What's your wife's name?
W: Mary.
K: Were you married when you came down here?
W: I was married two years after I came to Homestead.
K: I see. Is your wife from the Homestead area?
W: Oh, no. She was from Oak Park, Illinois.
K: Oh, really. I was born there.
W: Oh, were you now? Her father was a physician in Oak Park for
many, many years.
K: What's her last name?
W: Willard. He was one of the founders of West Suburban Hospital.
K: I'd like to give you the names of a few more people we haven't
mentioned yet, to see if you could tell me anything about them.
Now, you mentioned Charles Abbott, and you said that he taught,
was it two...?
W: Both citrus and vegetable courses.
K: Do you know his background, where he came from?
W: He was a native Floridian, and did his undergraduate work here, and
he had a master's degree only. I think that may have come from
Cornell, but I would be guessing.
K: Then you mentioned John Watkins, who was in charge of the green-
houses. Did he do any teaching as well?


21
W: Not until after I had been here a couple of years. He was simply
an assistant in charge of greenhouses, and taught the laboratory
part of courses in landscaping, which were being given. Then after
a couple of years he was made an assistant professor and taught
regular floriculture and landscaping.
K: I guess you'd be a good person to ask this. When you came back
here in '38, was the campus well landscaped, the older part of
the campus? Were there lawns and shrubbery and things like that?
W: Yes, the Plaza of the Americas then was one large lawn, and others
that I remember, they were landscaping around Floyd Hall particularly,
I recollect.
K: Do you remember a man named Earll Lord [Professor of Horticulture]?
W: Yes, he had left the university by the time I came to Gainesville.
I had met him casually while I was stationed at Homestead, but
I didn't know him well. He taught citrus courses for a few years
here.
K: Now we talked about Dr. Camp. Someone had mentioned to me that
he's still alive. Is that true?
W: I have never heard of his death, so I assume that he is. I haven't
seen him in many years.
K: You don't know where he would be, do you?
W: No, I haven't any idea. Ever since he left the experiment station
he has had consulting work in Latin America in citrus. As far as
I know that's what his, but he's too old now, I'm sure, to be con-
tinuing that, because he's older than I. I used to see him occa-
sionally at meetings of the State Horticulture Society, but the last
years I attended them I didn't see him. He was no longer attending.
So I don't know really what has become of him.
K: When Dr. Camp left the horticulture department, did he still work
for the Agricultural Experiment Station, or was that his retirement
from the whole university?
W: He was in charge of the Citrus Experiment Station for twenty years,
before going into private consulting.
K: His main interest was always in citrus?
W: Yes. He came here from California where he had had training in
citrus.


22
K: How about Dr. Noble, Clarence Noble?
W: Very, very fine man. A man I was glad to call my friend. He had
been head of the agriculture economics department for many years,
and then became assistant dean, and dean of the College of Agriculture,
so that I had a rather close contact with him in that capacity.
He was also one of the leading elders in the Presbyterian Church,
where I was also an elder, so that I had church relations with him also.
I thought very highly of him.
K: During the long period of time when you were the chairman of the
horticulture department, I know no chairman ever is completely sat-
isfied with his budget, but were there any particular years or any
particular times when the budget was substantially better or worse
for any reason than any other year?
W: After I came to Gainesville I don't remember. While I was still at
Homestead there were some very bad years when they had to cut the
budget severely. And my problem was what to do with the men who were
working for us, and that I couldn't turn loose without a job. Here
we never had enough money, of course, but we never felt severely
underprivileged. If there was, I would ask for small increases in
salary for my staff, and sometimes would get them, and we'd ask for
a little more in funds for operations. I can't remember, though, that
we ever had any particularly bad or particularly good budget years.
It was always a very austere budget, but one we could live with.
K: In developing your budget, did you merely submit your projected and
hoped-for figures to the dean's office, or it went to the director's
office?
W: No, it went to the dean's office, because, you see, I was not in the
experiment station. So this was the dean of the college.
K: And then it, would it have been decided in the dean's office without
reference to whoever was in charge of all three?
W: I think so. The dean, of course,was under restraint from the admin-
istration of the university, of which the college was a part. I don't
know whether the budget--I think the budgets of each, the stations,
the extension service, and the college--were handled quite indepen-
dently. I don't think there was ever any thought of adding to one
by taking away from another, that sort of thing.
K: Did you know Frazier Rogers [Professor of Agricultural Engineering]?


23
W: Quite well.
K: What was he like?
W: He was very competent, and very pleasant to work with. We were quite
good friends. I think everyone thought very highly of him. Agri-
cultural engineering, of course, was his field. I had very little
official contact with him, but our college was small and all of us
knew each other pretty well through the college.
K: Were most or all of the other departments within the College of
Agriculture still housed in Floyd when you came back here?
W: Only one of the departments was, no, two. Soils department was on
the second floor. We shared a secretary, animal husbandry had some
space on the first floor, but I think those were--oh, yes, of course,
on the third floor then was entomology and plant pathology in '38.
K: Would the others have been in the horticulture building?
W: I'm just trying to think. I believe perhaps Frazier Rogers had
an office in Floyd Hall in 1938, and, of course, the dean's office
was there. The others, well, the animal husbandry people soon were
moved over to, I think, Newell Hall. Soils continued there, I think,
until they moved into McCarty, and entomology, the same thing, they
were on the third floor of Floyd until they were moved over to McCarty
Hall.
K: Do you remember a man named M. D. Cody, a botanist?
W: Madison Derrell Cody. He was the head professor of botany. We
had known each other very slightly at the University of Chicago,
so that when I came up here he greeted me as an old friend and
helped me get oriented.
K: Was he alittle bit older than you?
W: Yes, he was somewhat older than I.
K: I haven't asked you about Dr. Shealy, Arthur Shealy [Professor of
Veterinary Science and Experiment Station Veterinarian].
W: Arthur L. Shealy, a wonderful man. At the very first in '38,
when I came here, they hadn't finished making available the
space in Floyd Hall that I was to be in, and I was given a desk
in his office down on the first floor for a few days. I well
remember his apologizing to me for how loud his voice was. He was


24
W: talking over the telephone and you could have heard him over to
Newell Hall if you opened the window! But he was a wonderful man,
and I thoroughly enjoyed knowing him, having that close contact with
him. We continued to be good friends for many, many years. He
also was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, so that I had that
contact as well as the one from college.
K: Now do you, do you recall Dr. John Creighton?
W: Jack Creighton was head of the entomology department all the time
that I was connected to the university. First in Floyd Hall and
then over to McCarty.
K: Had you had any contact with him while you were down in Homestead?
W: I don't think so. I can't remember that there was ever any occasion
to have any contact with him.
K: Did Dr. [John J.] Tigert [President of the University of Florida] take
any personal interest, that you recall, in the students in the ag-
riculture college? In other words, do you ever recall him coming
around to visit in classrooms or check things out?
W: Oh, no. No, but the deans never did that either.
K: You had, should we say, a good deal of independence, of leeway, in
your teaching?
W: Yes, no one ever made any suggestions to me about how I should
teach or what.
K: No one looked over your shoulder at any time?
W: No. I knew Dr. Tigert fairly well, but we had no academic connections.
When I came here, of course, I was taken in to him, as the president
of the university, and he had once been on the faculty at the University
of Kentucky, so we had some friends in common there to discuss.
K: Were you pleased to get back to teaching after...?
W: Yes, I really was, because I had taught for ten years before that, and
I was really glad to get back to teaching because I felt I was more
at home in that than I was in the experiment station work. And I
was glad to get back to a little larger community than Homestead,
although my life there was very pleasant and I had many very warm
friends that we enjoyed. But I had grown up in a college town and
I was glad to come back to a university town.


25
K: As far as the discipline of horticulture, did they, or at least when
you retired, within the context of Florida, what do you feel is
the way that horticulturists can make their greatest contribution
nowadays? In other words, is it in the maintenance of a large and
very significant agri-business, like the citrus business?
W: It's pretty hard to do anything else. Fifty years ago a man could
have forty acres and make a good living at it, doing all of the
work himself. He can't do that anymore. He's got to have a much
bigger area, and so it's harder for a young man to go out and make
a start in a field like that. He's got to get employment with
some company which is operating, or if his family has holdings, go
back and operate them. The same thing is true with vegetable growing.
It's a large-scale business if it's going to be commercial.
K: Is there any way that a young person today getting a degree in hor-
ticulture can really look forward to establishing your own business
and running their own career in other than perhaps the floral busi-
ness, or perhaps the ornamental horticulture business?
W: I think probably those are the ones where a small operator can work.
Otherwise he's got to be an employee of a big outfit. And it's
pretty hard, then, to start your own on the side and have it get
big enough that you can afford to become independent.
K: Was there much interest on the part of your students in either orna-
mental horticulture or the floral business when you first came here,
or were they all mostly interested in the larger application?
W: Most of them were interested in citrus. That was the principle
thing. We had a few who were interested in the nursery business,
which was ornamental, and we, at that time, taught courses in
horticulture to landscape architect majors who came over to learn
about the plants themselves from us--what plants there were and
how you handled them--even though we didn't give them any training
in architecture at all. Floriculture, there was very little interest
in it in 1930; gradually, it must have been at least ten years before
we took on a man to teach floriculture courses. We, at one time,
thought that women would find an outlet there. But it turned out
that florists could take a high school girl with no knowledge
and teach her rather easily to do routine things and they just
weren't interested in a person with professional training in that
field, overtrained. So that very few, I think, of our floriculture
graduates were able to go into the industry unless they could set
themselves up in it. We were disappointed in that, which we thought


26
W: would be an opening for women in horticulture.
K: Were you able to set up any advanced degree programs in horticulture?
W: Yes, we gave, eventually, the doctorate for a number of years. Origi-
nally, when I came here, we were qualified to give a master's degree,
and the first man who took a master's degree under me was sheriff of
Alachua County for some twenty years, Joe Crevasse. We had a number
of men that came along and took a master's degree, both foreign and
native. I remember around 1940 we had, from Peru, two men who took
master's degrees. One of them I've visited frequently since then.
Then somewhere along in the '40s we were allowed to offer the doctorate,
but we had to do it in cooperation with members of the experiment station
staff who were willing to cooperate with us. The station as such
didn't, but individuals, and they could direct. Say a man at Lake
Alfred could take a man and direct his research project down there
while he did his academic work up here. Then later, by 1960 or before,
we were able to give all of the training for the doctorate. Of course,
by that time, after 1955, the experiment station staff was the same
staff as ours, so that we could call on any of them. They did not
teach any courses, but they directed research for the doctorate, and some
of them we could have directing our own laboratories, so that from the
'60s on we were fully fledged to give doctor's degrees within our own
resources.
K: Well, that's about all the prepared questions that I had worked up
for you.
W: Well, I see you had quite a file there.
K: Well, you beat me to a lot of them.
W: [Chuckle]
K: Is there anything that we haven't mentioned yet that you would like to
go over, anything that you feel is of significance that I haven't
touched upon?
W: I really don't think of anything. I thought you'd done your homework
very well.
K: Well, this always is a lot of fun for me. I've talked to a lot of
people so far, and it's always very educational for me. I had the
opportunity with Professor [Gulie Hargrove] Blackmon [Head of Horticulture Department,
Agricultural Experiment Station], a real pecan
specialist, and several other people.


27
W: He's ninety-two or ninety-three. Amazing.
K: He's remarkable. He tells me that he still drives his own car.
W: Yeah. Well, he was in his late eighties when he was driving 400
miles back and forth to teach up in Georgia [chuckle].
K: Well, I want to thank you very much.