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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Dr. Lewis H. Rogers
DATE: April 5, 1979
Lewis H. Rogers, former Professor of Soil Chemistry at
the University of Florida discusses his family background,
student life at the University of Florida, his work at the
Agricultural Experiment Station, and his career as a biochemist.
Dr. Rogers, grandson of a former state chemist,
graduated from the University of Florida in 1932. He worked
on the excess of molybdenum in the soils around Lake Okeechobee
which was causing bone disorders in cattle.
K: Today is Thursday April 5, 1979. My name is Steve Kerber, and I am
going to be interviewing Dr. Lewis H. Rogers. This interview with
Dr. Rogers, for the University of Florida Oral History Project, will
take place at 9:00 a.m. in Room 106 of the Florida State Museum.
Now, I'd like to explain again, before we start, that we do
type up a version and send it back to you.
R: Understood. I'll probably edit the heck out of it [chuckle].
K: Well, if you care to do that, fine. We usually start by just
asking you to tell us your full name.
R: Lewis Henry Rogers.
K: Would you tell us, Dr. Rogers, when and where you were born?
R: In DeFuniak Springs, Florida, October 1, 1910.
K: Now what was your father's name?
R: Henry Jewett Rogers.
K: And your mother's name?
R: Ruby Rose Rogers.
K: Now I understand that your mother was the daughter of Captain Rose?
R: Correct, she was the daughter of Rufus Edwards Rose, who was state
chemist for about twenty-five years.
K: Now, do you personally remember seeing or knowing Captain Rose?
K: Can you tell us some of your recollections of him when you were a
R: I visited several times in Tallahassee in his home. I remember
visiting him at the state chemist's office, this must have been about
1920 or '21, something like that, and going through the state
chemist's office, seeing some of the people there. Indeed, doing
that was part of the reason I went into chemical engineering here at
the University of Florida. His influence had something to do with
that. He was, at that time I suppose, in his sixties. The state
chemist's job in those days was primarily a regulatory function.
They did analyses of fertilizers, oil, gasoline, and things of this
kind, to make sure that they met state standards. Mostly, it was an
analytical laboratory that he had in Tallahassee. His office and
laboratory were in a small building on the capitol grounds, southeast
of the old capitol building. I'm sure it's gone now, with all the new
construction. He must have had a staff of I would suppose ten or
twelve people, as I recall, and they were doing chemical analysis. He
lived, as I recall, in a very nice house out near Florida State University,
what was in those days Florida State College for Women. That
house was later sold, and became a sorority house for FSCW. I don't
remember what sorority.
K: Do you happen to know if he ever did any teaching at the college?
R: I don't think so. But my mother did, she taught here at the University
of Florida, but that's another part of your questions.
K: Do you happen to know where Captain Rose received his education,
specifically his background in chemistry?
R: I think he was self-taught. I don't think he had any formal college
training in chemistry. He came to Florida from Louisiana. He had
been in the sugar cane business there, sugar refining. And he moved
to Florida in 1880, as I recall, and was in the employ of Hamilton
Disston, that's the saw manufacturer. You probably know that story
how he, Hamilton Disston, bought up 4,000,000 acres in central
Florida for twenty-five cents an acre. He was going to exploit this
property, and one of the things he was going to do was to raise sugar
cane. My grandfather was brought in by Disston to operate and to
manage a sugar cane plantation and sugar mill in St. Cloud, Florida.
I've heard my mother tell about living on what she called the
plantation. There were canals through this area. I've heard her
speak of swimming in the canals, and riding horses bareback, so she
must have had a sort of a tomboy life. The sugar mill went broke,
and so did Disston, and he had to give up a major portion of his
acreage in order just to pay taxes. So he lost great chunks of this
four million acres in paying taxes. That sugar mill, of course, is
no longer there. I don't know how long it was there, I suppose several
years, five, eight, maybe ten years. And when it closed, the Rose
family moved to town, which was Kissimmee [chuckle].. Rufus Rose, my
grandfather, was the first mayor of Kissimmee. He went into real
estate, and was connected with the phosphate business in that part
of Florida, I think selling phosphate lands. But as far as I know,
he did not own or operate any phosphate mine. I don't recall that he
My grandmother died about 1890. My grandfather remarried
and had two children by his second wife. One of whom is still
alive, a retired navy vice-admiral. This half-uncle now lives
in Naples, Florida. He is Rufus Edwards Rose, Jr. My mother was
Ruby Edwards Rose, the name Edwards was a family name back in
Louisiana. It is interesting that they gave two children the
middle name Edwards. My mother was the only surviving child of
the first marriage. There were several other children. I've
heard my mother tell of a story, how my grandfather liked to do
chemistry experiments in the backyard. He was experimenting one
time and had an explosion, and one of the children named Alfred
was injured in this explosion and died as a result. So his chemistry
was apparently self-taught.
[Note added in proof: Rufus Edwards Rose entered the Dolbear
Technical College in New Orleans, but his studies were interrupted
by the Civil War.]
K: Are you aware of whether or not your grandfather had anything to
do with drainage projects that Mr. Disston was involved in?
R: Yes, he did. One of the things he did was to build a dredge boat,
allegedly the first dredge boat in Florida. It was built at Cedar
Key, and was brought around in the Gulf and brought up, I believe,
the Caloosahatchee. I don't know how they got it from there to
Kissimmee, but maybe they dredged a canal through. Anyway they
brought it into Kissimmee and he was in dredging. There were canals
dredged from Kissimmee down to Lake Okeechobee, and they opened up water-
ways through there. I don't know whether my grandfather was involved
in this, but there were boats that operated on Lake Tohopekaliga at
Kissimmee, carrying freight, citrus, fertilizer and so forth. These
operated through the canals. I guess my mother must have taken some
of these trips. I've heard her tell about the boats that went down
to Lake Okeechobee. An interesting anecdote, I remember my mother
telling about my grandfather going down to Miami, I suppose in the
1880s.. Miami Beach, at that time, was just a mangrove swamp. He
looked at it and said "It'll never amount to a damn thing" [chuckle].
K: Well you can't be right about everything.
K: Did your mother ever mention to you whether your grandfather felt
that the failure of the sugar industry at that time was merely a
result of certain unfortunate factors, or did he continue to have
faith in that industry...
R: He had faith in the industry...
K: ...in that part of Florida?
R: Oh yes, in that part of Florida. I used to ask her about whether
the sugar industry in central Florida would have survived had we
known as much about sugar cane culture as we do today. And she said
that it was due to Mr. Disston's financial problems that that mill
closed. It was apparently inadequately capitalized, as I understood
what she was saying. She didn't put it in those terms. She was, oh,
I guess ten years old when this all happened and they moved to
Kissimmee. As a ten year old, she probably didn't realize the real
factors there. I've always wondered whether it was a cultural problem,
or a financial problem, or a management problem that caused this
failure of that sugar plantation. Another thing, as you look back
on the sugar cane business in Florida, the soils in that part of the
state are not as well adapted to sugar cane culture as they are
around Lake Okeechobee, where most of the sugar cane is grown now.
Also, I suspect that it may have been too cold in the winter, and a
cold snap might sweep down and cause a crop failure. I don't know,
K: But as far as you know, was it Disston's idea to attempt a large scale
concentration of sugar cane there?
R: I think so.
K: Or did your grandfather interest him?
R: I don't know those details, but I've always heard it was Disston
that hired him from Louisiana, because of his background in sugar
cane culture in Louisiana.
K: Well did your mother then, spend the rest of her childhood in
R: Yes, she went to school there, graduated from Osceola High School
and was valedictorian in her class. I have a copy of her valedic-
torian address, which is most interesting. She must have graduated
from high school when she was about sixteen. She started teaching
school right after that. In her memoirs, she writes of teaching out
in the country from Kissimmee. I believe she was teaching fifth
grade. She stayed out in the country. I think the school only ran
four or five months of the year. She did that for a year, or possibly
two, and then "moved into town," meaning into Kissimmee, and taught
in the Kissimmee school system. All of her life after various interruptions,
she went back into teaching. As we talk here, you'll see that
she'd have another child, and then she'd go back to teaching.
This went on four times [chuckle].
K: Well, did she go on to college then?
R: She went to one of the normal schools every summer. She went to
one in Lake City, and she met my father in Lake City.
K: So this would be at the Agricultural College.
R: Yes, it was then an agricultural college and they had a normal
school in the summer...I guess to utilize the facilities there.
My father, who had been teaching in DeFuniak Springs, would come to
Lake City to take these courses. These courses that they took in
the summer led to what was called a permanent teaching certificate.
In those days, teachers having taken a certain number of courses
would get a certificate, and after three years of teaching, and
further courses, then they got a permanent certificate. And that
was a lifetime certificate. Mother was always very proud of this
lifetime certificate, a copy of which I still have. I think she
got that when she was about nineteen or twenty, and since she was
born in 1878 that would be about 1898.
K: Is that when they got married, after she graduated?
R: No, not right away. I believe they became engaged in 1900 or 1901,
but didn't get married 'til 1903. I'll come back to that. She
continued to teach in Kissimmee, and my father was principal of the
high school in Eustis, and then in Brooksville. Then in 1902, she was
on the faculty of the East Florida Seminary here in Gainesville.
I think that was only for one year, the year 1902-1903. I have an
old picture that shows her with the faculty of the East Florida
Seminary, and she was the only woman in the picture. She probably
taught English, since she was always an English teacher. She only
did that one year, because the picture is dated April, 1903, and I
know she was married in June, 1903, so that was the end of her tenure
at the East Florida Seminary.
K: Do you know by any chance, did she ever mention how she got that
R: No, I don't know that story.
K: Do you know where she lived in Gainesville?
R: No, I don't know that. I would guess at a boardinghouse somewhere
around the old East Florida Seminary. I've never heard her talk
K: Did she ever tell any stories about any incidents that happened, or
any of the students that she knew?
R: No, not really. The thing that I heard her talk about was that it
was a military school. She spoke about the students parading on
Friday afternoon. They'd have a dress parade, and then were off for
the weekend. The parade ground must have been what is now a park
in that part of Gainesville, or maybe it was the area which was later
where the old Thomas Hotel, now the Thomas Center, is located. But
that is very unclear to me, I've never heard her talk about it.
K: Well, she got married then...
R: They got married 1903, in Kissimmee, and she and Henry went to Brooksville for a year,
where Henry was principal. Then Henry got a job as
principal of the high school in DeFuniak Springs, and they moved there,
which must have been 1904. The first baby was born in August, 1904.
That's my oldest brother Alfred, who lives in Richmond, Virginia. You
ought to do one of these interviews with him because he is the oldest,
and remembers a lot of stories. I was the third child, and by the
time the third comes along things get pretty hectic.
K: Well perhaps if he comes down here.
R: He does, he's been in Gainesville. He was here a couple of months
ago. He's full of stories, and loves to talk.
K: So there were four of you all together?
R: Yes, there were four sons and a fifth boy, a cousin, who's parents
died and was left an orphan, so Ruby raised five boys. I was the
third son. All of us were born in DeFuniak Springs, and from the
period 1904 to 1918, four children came along.
K: Now your father was the principal of the high school during that
R: No, he was principal of the high school for four or five years. My
father had tuberculosis, and eventually died of it in 1930. Of
course, these days, a teacher can't teach if he had T.B. But in those
days the regulations were not so strict. Not much was known about the
disease, really. He was sick off and on. They always called it
pneumonia, the doctors diagnosed it as pneumonia. My grandfather
Rogers had a lumber mill in DeFuniak Springs. I'm sure he had to
help the family, because as I've heard my mother speak of being so
poor that she baked and sold bread to help the family exchequer.
My grandfather Rogers had remarried, and when his second wife died,
he asked Ruby and Henry, at that time with two children, to move in
with him and keep house for him, which they did.
Grandfather Rogers died in 1915, and Henry inherited his half
of the lumber mill. He left teaching then and managed the lumber
mill until his death in 1930. All of this time he had T.B. I
remember well that he would take a couple of hours after lunch to
rest each day. The main meal was at noon and was called dinner.
Ruby would go to the mill where she did the bookkeeping. There was
a partner in the lumber mill, Mr. Beach, and the company was called
Beach-Rogers. There was a partnership which was started sometime
in the 1890s. I think they were very happy to have my mother as
bookkeeper. That meant they didn't have to hire one.
Later my father became bedfast, about 1928. He became less and
less able to act. Mr. Beach died about 1927, and my mother was left
to run the lumber mill. This was kind of a rough thing for a woman
because there were loggers and some pretty rough characters. She
was never very happy running the lumber mill. When my father died in
1930, she was very glad to sell the mill. Of course this was probably
a distress sale, because by 1930 Florida had been hit by the triple
whammy. Florida's Land Boom had broken in 1926, there was a bad
hurricane in 1928, and the Wall Street debacle of 1929 had hurt tourism,
and the Depression was on. Mother went back to teaching. At this
time there was only one boy at home, my youngest brother, David. I
was in school here in Gainesville at that time.
K: High school?
R: Yes, she taught English in the Walton County High School. And she
started coming down to Gainesville in the summers, finished up her
A.B. and a master's, both of them cum laude and was elected Phi Kappa
Phi. And, of course this helped her salary, because teachers'salaries
are related to how many degrees they have. She always enjoyed school,
and she loved to come to the university. She used to stay in one of
the dormitories, old Thomas dorm. At the time I was working part-time
in summers. So it worked out very well. She continued to teach at
Walton High School until 1945, as near as I can recall. [G.] Ballard
Simmons, who was then dean of the College of Education, asked her to
come and teach at the P.K. Yonge School. So she moved back to Gaines-
ville, and taught at the P.K. Yonge School for what must have been
about five years, until 1949. She then had to retire, when she reached
K: Did she stay here after she retired or did she go back to DeFuniak?
R: No, she decided to live near one of her three married sons. At
this time she had three sons alive. My brother Nathan, who was the
second son, died in!1934 whenhe was twenty-seven of tuberculosis of
the spine. My older brother, Alfred, that I mentioned earlier, was
working for DuPont in the engineering division. DuPont moved him
around the U.S., where DuPont had a construction project. So Mother
moved to different cities to be near him. She lived in Houston, Texas,
in a small apartment near Alfred's family. She also lived in Victoria,
Texas and in Niagara Falls, N.Y., as a result of Alfred's transfers
by DuPont. At about this time, I resigned from my position as Professor
of Soil Chemistry at the university and had moved to Oak Ridge,
Tennessee. I remember Mother moved down from Niagara Falls at the
time my son was being baptised. She lived in Oak Ridge for several
years near my family and me. She then went to live near another son,
David, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, who was teaching at Allegheny
College. She stayed there a couple of years and then moved to Richmond,
Virginia where Alfred had moved. DuPont moves their engineers around
quite a bit when they reach a certain supervisory level, DuPont tends
to move them less often. Alfred retired from DuPont in Richmond in
1970 and still lives there. Mother died in Richmond in 1964 at age
eighty-six, and is buried in DeFuniak Springs.
K: Well she certainly had a very long and full life.
R: Yes, she did, and she was mentally sharp almost up to the end. She
had a tremendous memory. But in her last year she had a series of
strokes, and eventually died of a stroke. She had entered a retire-
ment home in Richmond, and became bedridden. I recall visiting her
there, and she did not recognize me. It was very sad to see her in
K: Do you recall, if not personally, hearing any stories about whether
your mother or your father ever had any contact, or perhaps your
grandfather, with [Governor] Sidney Catts?
R: Yes, Sidney Catts lived about a block from us in DeFuniak Springs.
I recall that Sidney Catts at one time was a Baptist minister, while
we were Methodists. Mother was never very attracted to Sidney Catts.
I remember that she thought he was something of a demagogue. I recall
him when, as a boy I used to deliver the Saturday Evening Post to
him. And I had a paper route, and he was one of my customers. I
would see him once in a while. Of course, by this time, he was
retired. This was about 1920. He lived in a large old house near
us. I think he had sort of come on to hard times. I remember the
old house, and it was not well kept. It needed painting. But he was
always very kind to me--of course I was just a kid. But he was
just another customer [laughter]. I can't recall anything else
K:- He never gave you or your family any problems that you are aware
R: Oh no, I think the relationship was cordial, but not close. I don't
remember any social contact. Of course there was not much social
activity in my house, because of my father's illness. Mostly I remember
that my mother was so darn busy with teaching and rasing children and
running the sawmill, I don't know how the hell she did it.
K: Since you come from what was certainly a political family in one
sense, I wanted to ask you if the family had ever made any contact
or knowledge or talk about Park Trammell.
R: No, I don't remember any.
K: Okay, I think the state Chautauqua headquarters was in DeFuniak.
R: Yes it was.
K: Do you remember going to any Chautauquas when you were small?
R: Yes, I do. Let me go back and pick up something. My grandfather
Rogers was a Welshman. He was born and raised in Wales. He was a
carpenter, had been apprenticed in Wales. When he finished his
apprenticeship he was nineteen or twenty. In those days the appren-
tice got a complete set of carpenter tools from the master when he
finished his apprenticeship. He had a large tool chest filled with
tools. I think my brother Alfred still has the tool chest. It was
about three feet square and four feet long, a heavy thing. Apparently
soon after he completed his apprenticeship, he came to the U.S., in
1870 to Chicago. He lived there for about twenty years. Because of
his Welsh background, he had been a singer. He was singing as an
avocation in Chicago with a male quartet. The quartet was apparently
good enough to get on the Chautauqua circuit, and they came down to
DeFuniak Springs as Chautauqua performers. That was how he came to
know about DeFuniak. The Chautauqua was already there and operating.
In 1873 he married Martha Ann Jewett in Libertyville, Illinois. The
Jewett name is, by the way, extremely well known in New England.
There must be hundreds of Jewett families there. It's a very old
family, and she was of that lineage. Unfortunately, Martha Jewett
had tuberculosis. Obviously that is where my father got it. In those
days physicians didn't know much about a cure for tuberculosis.
Bed rest wasthe best they knew to do. Another recommendation
was to go to a warm climate. So apparently the prescription given
to my grandfather was, "Move to a warm climate." Since he knew about
DeFuniak Springs, he decided to move there. He continued his singing,
mostly church singing, and he became the choir director at the Methodist
church. He was a good carpenter and started building houses in
DeFuniak Springs. That apparently led to the sawmill enterprise which
proved to be fairly profitable.
But the Chautauqua was always there and we always went to it.
It was claimed that the DeFuniak Springs Chautauqua was the second
Chautauqua in the country. The rationale was that the DeFuniak
Springs Chautauqua was to be the winter Chautauqua, and to compliment
the Chautauqua in upstate New York which was a summer Chautauqua.
There were train excursions from as far west as Pensacola, and as
far east as Chattahoochee. Hundreds of people would come on these
excursions and attend the Chautauqua. By the time I came along,
there would be a six weeks program period when there would be one
or two programs every day of the week, and several on Saturday and
Sunday. The big events were on the weekends, Friday night, Saturday,
and Sunday, and the excursion trains would return late Sunday after-
noon. I remember a couple of things about the Chautauqua. I remember
once hearing William Jennings Bryan speak. I couldn't have been more
than eight or nine, but this was such a big deal with William Jennings
Bryan speaking--everyone went to hear him. I haven't the least idea
what he said.
There is an old wooden auditorium which seated 2,000 or 2,500
people and is still there. Why it hasn't burned in all these years,
heaven only knows. I think it was heated because it gets cold in
DeFuniak. Although it was called a winter Chautauqua, it must have
been held in the spring, say February or March or April for a six
K: I know Catts was a pastor of a church.
R: Yes, and I know William Jennings Bryan had strong religious convictions.
He had a reputation as a silver tongued orator, and all. The schools
turned out, and they marched us over there to hear him. I remember
another Chautauqua program. Movies were new and they had a movie pro-
jector, so when you came to the end of the reel, you had to wait while
they changed it. This was a big thing for the Chautauqua. I remember
when they had a movie on the life of Jesus. This must have been about
1921, and I have no recollection of who played in it. I remember that
it took two nights to show it because it was so long.
K: Well now, you went to high school there?
R: Yes, I graduated from Walton County High School.
K: Do you know what year?
K: And then you came over here and went to school?
R: No, not directly. I wanted to take chemical engineering, and the
little high school didn't have four years of math, which was required
to enter engineering. I had to get another year of math somehow.
Also, by this time money was a little tight. So, I took a job at the
sawmill, driving a lumber truck. I stayed out for a year, living at
home, and working eleven hours a day. I took fourth year math from
the University of Florida as a correspondence course. That was a
real grind. They'd send a lesson, and I'd work it all out, send it
back, it was graded, and sent back. And as I remember it, there
were twenty or twenty-four lessons in solid geometry. If you had
problems you could ask your parents for help. You worked every prob-
lem in the textbook.
K: Do you have any idea now how much that cost?
R: Oh, it was minimal, I would guess $15 for a half year course. Each
lesson would be forty or fifty pages of written material. I remember
the big fat envelopes that I would mail in. When I finished up the
solid geometry, I still needed trigonometry, and time was running out.
It was probably May, and I was supposed to come to Gainesville in
September. I arranged with one of the high school teachers to coach
me in trigonometry. I remember very well that I paid the lady who did
the coaching a dollar an hour for thirty-one hour lessons. I paid
her out of my wages, which were 25( an hour. That made an impression
K: Quite a sum at that time.
K: Do you recall if you had any idea whether you were dealing with one
individual, in other words what I'd like to find out is if this was
something that was dealt with by the math department...
K: ...or with someone who worked for the general...
R: It was a professor of mathematics, but I don't remember his name.
He got something extra for handling the correspondence courses. I
never knew how much it was. I doubt that the fee I paid covered what
he received. He probably had to spend a couple of hours grading each
lesson. It must have been a pain in the neck to grade them. But
he was very thorough. He obviously went over each lesson, and I'd
get it back marked up in red pencil. He'd read every page. It was
a good course, and I learned a lot.
K: Do you recall if it was a thing that you did as an individual in
applying for it, or did it work through the high school?
R: It was handled on an individual basis.
K: Strictly individual.
R: It was the Extension Division here at the university, and I assume
there still is one. This was 1927-1928. The Extension Division had
a whole catalogue of courses. If you completed all the lessons, you
learned your solid geometry.
K: So then you did go ahead and come over the following fall?
R: Yes, I came to Gainesville in September, 1928, as a freshman, and
enrolled in chemical engineering. I always knew that I would have to
work to stay in the university because my parents couldn't help me
very much. The university administration advised me not to count
on working your first year. I had saved enough money to get me through
the first year. In those days, 1928, you could go to the university
for about $400 per year if you were careful, since there was no tuition.
The first year I stayed in what was called "the barracks." It was
an old World War I building.
K: Excuse me, where was that located?
R: Well, you know where Newell Hall is?
R: It was between Newell Hall and the infirmary.
K: To the west of Newell?
R: Yes, west of Newell Hall, east of the infirmary. There's a permanent
building there now.
K: That's the NASA Space Science Building.
R: I think that's it.
K: So it was on the sight of that present building?
R: Yes, that's my recollection.
K: Do you remember if it was a one or two story?
R: It was a two story, typical old wooden barracks. It was kind of
cold in the winter. We had heat, butit was still cold because it had
no insulation of course.
K: Was it just one long building?
R: Yes, a long building, hall down the middle, rooms on either side,
stairs at one end of the building. Everything was wood, wood floor,
wood exterior, and I don't remember what the walls were made of, probably
what we call drywall today. It had many freshmen, but there were some
upperclassmen. I had an upperclassman as a roommate. There were two
of us in a little room, perhaps twelve by sixteen feet. It had a
bunk bed on either side, and a little table where we studied.
K: Did they have windows?
R: Oh yes.
K: And your bathroom?
R: The bath was a communal bathroom where you showered and shaved at
the end of the hall. On each floor there must have been twenty students,
all using the same bathroom. I remember there were three shower heads
and five or six lavatories and several commodes. Things would be
pretty hectic early in the morning if you had an eight o'clock class.
K: Do you remember which way that building ran?
R: It ran north and south.
K: Were there any other wooden World War I dormitories at that time?
R: I don't remember any other buildings used as dormitories, but there
were other wooden buildings used for classrooms and offices.
K: Where were they?
R: Well, they were scattered around the campus. Some of those remained
up to World War II. There were some over on the main campus near
Tigert Hall. They were sandwiched in between some of the permanent
buildings. Those buildings were used for a long time. There was a
growth of the student body after World War I, and they needed the
space. The same thing happened after World War II.
K: Do you recall, while we're talking about buildings, a structure when
you were a student, when you first came as a student, on the corner
just south of Agriculture Hall, what they call Floyd Hall now?
R: Yeah, it was the post office.
K: It was the post office?
R: Yes it was.
K: Was it wood or brick?
R: It was brick. It was just a little structure. There was nothing in
it but the post office. It had post office boxes and, of course, a
couple of postal windows. There were only two or three postal clerks.
K: Did everyone have their own box?
R: No, there were not enough boxes. You had to wait for a box, especially
freshmen. As I recall, it was the end of my freshman year before I
got a box. You had to stand in line and wait at the general delivery
window to get your mail.
K: Where did you live in the other years?
R: Well I moved from the barracks in my sophomore year to Buckman Hall.
I lived in two or three different rooms in Buckman Hall for the next
five years. I went through the university, received a B.S. in chemical
engineering in 1932. Then I continued on and got a Master of Science
in chemistry while living in Buckman Hall.
K: Not to get too far ahead of myself, did you get your doctorate here
R: No, I did that at Cornell.
K: Okay, well let me stick to the University [of Florida] then.
R: All right.
K: Now, when you first arrived as a freshman, where did you have to go
to make your arrangements for classes, and for whatever fees they
were charging, do you recall?
R: What is the name of that building now? The business office in
those days was in what we called Language Hall.
K: They call it Anderson now.
R: Anderson, that's right. It was named for Dean [James N.] Anderson.
And the business office was on the first floor. You registered
in the old gym. They'd have a lot of tables there, and you'd line
up and register there. If you were late in registering, you went
over to Anderson Hall. But we registered and paid fees in the old
K: Do you remember, in that very first year, when you picked your
courses, in other words were you dealing in picking your courses
with the people in the registrar's office, or did the faculty see
K: They were all there during the registration?
R: The professors were there. Let's say you wanted to sign up for a
math course. You'd get in a line and for a particular professor,
and when one of his sections was filled, then he'd cut off registra-
tion for that section. Everything was done manually. If he had a
limit of twenty-four, let's say, to a section, he'd close that off
and start another one. There was a great scramble to get preferred
hours, and you'd get over and get in line early. You might miss out
on one section and then you'd have to juggle around with the rest of
your schedule to get all your courses in. In 1928 I think there were
no more than 2,000 students. I was in engineering, and I suppose
there was probably not over a hundred freshman engineers. The
curriculum was very, very specific. Engineers had no electives the
first year. No, that's not accurate, maybe you had one elective the
K: That's not many at all.
R: No. As I remember it, freshmen engineers had to carry twenty credit
hours. You were going to classes from eight to five every day. You
had classes every morning, and labs every afternoon. In those
days R.O.T.C. was compulsory so that if you had dress parade at
5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, you had to wear your uniform to whatever
lab you had, and then rush to get out to the drill field to get
to the dress parade on time.
K: Before we go into R.O.T.C., which gym are you referring to now,
the brick gym that they now call the Women's Gym or the wooden
building that was next to it?
R: The old wooden building that's next to it.
K: What did they call that when you came?
R: Called it the old gym.
K: They called the wooden one the old gym?
R: Yeah, I think, well now wait a minute, wait a minute...
K: 'Cause the brick one was here first.
R: Yes, you're right. I guess it was called the new gym, and the brick
was the old gym.
K: So that was the way they described it?
R: I think so.
K: And what did they use that wooden, well what did they use both of
them for, while you were a student?
R: Well, the wooden gym was mostly for basketball. The offices of the
athletic department were there. There was a basketball court in the
old gym, but a minimal number of spectator seats. You could probably
seat a couple of hundred spectators, whereas the wooden gym could
probably seat two or three thousand.
K: Were there seats all the way around the basketball court?
R: No, as I recall, there were bleachers just on two sides. I don't
think there was room on either end for bleachers, but there were
fixed seats up behind the goals.
K: Behind the basket?
R: Yes, behind the baskets, for maybe two or three hundred people.
K: I'm very curious about that because I always wanted to get into it,
and of course, they tore it down last, the end of last summer.
R: Oh, I see, so it's gone. There must be pictures of it somewhere.
K: Okay, now let me ask you about your experiences in R.O.T.C. What
was involved in it, how much time did you have to spend, and what
hours, and that kind of thing.
R: You were required to attend one drill per week, which as I remember
it, was at 8:00 a.m. I think that went from 8:00 to 9:00. There
were two classes of lectures and recitations, and the dress parade,
so that sounds like four hours per week. I think it was one hour
credit. The drill and the dress parade wouldn't count as credit hours.
I don't believe dress parade was every week. My recollection is that
they didn't start dress parade until after you'd been drilling several
weeks. Both years I was in the field artillery. In those days the
field artillery was horse drawn. R.O.T.C. had a horse barn and a
contingent of horses. The second year you got into riding, and that
was lots of fun. Especially when they'd take us on a cross-country.
There was a captain [Ernest T.] Barco, who instructed the field
artillery, and once in a while as a reward, he'd take us on a cross-
country gallop. That was great fun. Most engineering students were
assigned to the field artillery. The idea was that they knew how to
compute and do gunnery and all the calculations. I only took two
years of R.O.T.C.
K: They were both mandatory?
K: But the third and fourth year you did not have to take it?
R: No, third and fourth year were optional, but if you took it, you
were paid ten dollars a month, or something like that. Also, you
had to go to a summer camp, which I believe was six weeks long.
Most of those who took advanced R.O.T.C. went to Fort Benning, Georgia
for the six weeks camp.
K: Did you all wear uniforms...
K: ...during the...
R: They were supplied free of charge. They were surplus uniforms
from World War I. I remember we had wrap leggings, and they were
wool, and very warm. Oh, ho ho, they were warm for Florida [chuckle].
K: Where did they keep those uniforms do you know?
R: Yeah, they had a...
K: Or did you keep them with you?
R: Yes, you kept your own uniform until the end of the year, then
K: Kept your uniform during...
R: They were issued at the start of the year from a storeroom under-
neath the auditorium. Since then they've added a structure out
front of the auditorium. It was originally intended that the auditorium
become the back wing of the administration building, like it is at
Florida State. But they never did build that front wing. Instead,
they built Tigert Hall, over on Thirteenth Street. The R.O.T.C. had
stables out on the drill field, west of Florida Field. That stable
is no longer there.
K: Well, if it's the one I'm thinking of, it is behind the R.O.T.C.
R: I guess so.
K: Just a little north of that. Well they did tear that part down to
make some room for the so-called "Activities Center," the new basket-
R: Oh yes. The O'Connell Building.
K: But yes, I know what you mean. In fact I had a class in one of
those rooms there.
R: Oh really, they converted the stable into a classroom [chuckle].
K: They were still in use in the early seventies.
R: The way the university uses its space, it's amazing.
K: Where were the horses and the animals kept for the R.O.T.C.?
R: In the stables.
K: Right there?
K: And not farther down campus?
R: Well, there was a pasture somewhere further west. There was a small
detail of enlisted personnel assigned to the R.O.T.C., and they
took care of the animals. Now we were taught to groom the horses
and to saddle them. We didn't have to clean the stables or feed
the horses. The enlisted personnel took care of those chores.
K: Your drill field, then, was north of there.
R: Yes, that's where the parades and drills were held. It was great
fun to ride the horses in a dress parade.
K: How about weapons now, were you trained to use weapons?
R: Yes, but we didn't actually fire the seventy-five mm. guns, but we
were taught to aim the guns and load dummy shells. We had old field
pieces from World War I, seventy-five mm. both howitzers and long
guns. We were taught how to calculate trajectories, and to aim the
guns. Since I didn't continue in the R.O.T.C., I've forgotten most
of that by now. Those pieces were horse drawn. You'd drag them
around in a dress parade.
K: Was there a bugler?
K: In the morning?
R: You mean to, to wake the student body?
K: To wake them, they didn't do that?
R: No, they didn't have anything like that. The campus was too spread
out, even in those days. There was the band and a bugler at dress
K: Now, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about your course work.
K: I take it that as a freshman you got into your degree program.
R: Yes, first thing.
K: Of course this was long before University College, not real long,
but five or seven years.
R: That's correct. It was.
K: So you really were encouraged to take your major right at the start.
R: That's right. You started right into engineering, drafting and
physics. I took surveying, for example, the first year. You had
what I would call professional courses the first semester.
K: Were you counseled right at the beginning by someone in engineering,
or was it just that there was this clear-cut, very definite...
R: It was all very clear-cut.
K: The curriculum that you'd have to follow?
R: You had a catalogue for the engineering college.
K: And it was all spelled out.
R: Yes. If you were going into chemical engineering, you had both
chemistry and physics the first year. The curriculum was spelled
out all the way, through four years. I think in the four years of
engineering I may have had two or three electives. The idea was
that when you got your B.S. in engineering, you were an engineer
ready to go to work.
K: How did you support yourself, not the first year, but the succeeding years.
Did you work on campus?
R: Yes, I lived on campus and I was lucky to get a job in the cafeteria
waiting tables. I believe that started toward the end of the second
year. What you did was get on a list to do this. At first I substi-
tuted when there were fellows that wanted some time off to go some-
where. In those days we had what was called a commons. Everybody
came in all at once and sat down, and the student waiter served two
tables. Each table must have had twelve people at it, so you had
to serve twenty-four, no, I guess there were two waiters to serve
twenty-four people. I'm unclear about that. In my third year the
commons was converted to a cafeteria, and I got a part-time job in
the cafeteria, which paid for my meals. Also, I got a part-time job
in the Ag. Experiment Station in my junior year. I'd put in ten or
twelve hours a week, which could be after five o'clock or on week-
ends, because I didn't have much spare time in the engineering college.
Then in my senior year, I was business manager of the glee club, and
that paid fifty dollars a semester, so I had three jobs.
That got to be a no no, because you weren't supposed to have
but onejob. I believe the rules were evolving during this period,
and I was one of those guys that the rules were aimed at. But I
couldn't stay in school unless I had all three jobs. I remember one
year at the university, I had a total cash outlay, I think it was my
second year, of $350, total for the nine months. That included room
and board. So it was a cheap place to go to college. By the time
I got to my senior year my money had run out. But the Ag. Experiment
Station job would expand in the summer to a hundred hours a month.
But I was limited to no more than a hundred hours at thirty-five cents
an hour, so that was thirty-five dollars per month. But I could do
that and take one or two courses in summer school. By this time (we're
talking about 1931) we knew that jobs were scarce for engineers. I
thought I would have to teach, so I took education courses in the summer
to earn a teacher's certificate. I'd take courses in the morning and
work at the Ag. Experiment Station in the afternoon.
K: Tell me a little bit, if you would, about your experiences with the
glee club. Did that take you out of town?
R: Oh yes.
K: Or did they just sing around town?
R: Oh no, we would go out of town. There'd be three or four trips a
year, each for one or two or three days. We went all over the state.
There would be someone in the club who was, let's say from Lake
Wales. He would know someone in Lake Wales, such as the American
Legion, one of the churches, or one of the women's clubs who would
sponsor us. The sponsor would sell tickets and arrange publicity.
You'd have a contract, let's say it was with the women's club in
Lake Wales, to put on a performance there. We'd often take a dance
band along with us, and there would be the glee club performance
and then, afterwards, there would be a dance. We would leave Gaines-
ville perhaps at 2:00 p.m., depending on what time the concert was
scheduled. It was usually 8:00 in the evening. We'd drive to the
concert in a group of cars. I remember there were thirty-two in
the club. John DeBruyn was the director of the glee club at that
time. He would limit the glee club to thirty-two members. I made
the glee club the end of my freshman year. I think I made only one
trip with the glee club my freshman year. The other three years I
went with them on most of their trips. If we were going to Miami,
we would make one or two stops, maybe in Daytona or Vero Beach on
the way down, give a concert there, and then sing in Miami. Then
maybe we'd swing back through Sarasota, give a concert there, and
then back here. So there might be two or three concerts on a weekend.
You'd be out for two or three days. You'd get back to Gainesville
dog tired and Monday morning you'd have an 8:00 class!
K: Back to reality.
R: Right [laughter].
K: Did you receive any academic credit for this, or was it all strictly
R: All extra-curricular. It was just fun.
K: Where did you take your own meals, did you always eat in the commons
while you were an undergraduate?
R: Yes, except summers. If I was working at the cafeteria in the summer,
I, of course, would eat there. But two or three summers I lived off
campus. By this time I was getting more work over in the Ag. Experiment
Station, so that I could afford to buy my meals. By the time I was
in graduate school, I ate less and less in the cafeteria.
K: Did you eat at boardinghouses?
R: Yes, there was one boardinghouse in particular, back on what's now
NW Second Avenue. I don't even remember the lady's name who ran it,
but she had a couple of dozen boarders. I think you could get
room and meals for about thirty dollars a month. How she ever did
it, I don't know.
K: Where was the bookstore when you came?
R: Had to be in Language Hall. Wait a minute. No, that can't be
right, there wasn't room in Language Hall. I don't remember.
K: Do you remember if there were any bookstores off campus?
R: Oh yes.
K: That kind of store?
R: There were always bookstores along the edge of the campus, as there
still are, just across the street. You could get secondhand books
there. There was a great trading in secondhand books, especially
among the engineers, because the texts didn't change, except maybe
every five years, when a new edition would come out. Just as it is
today. But you knew your fellow engineers, because it was a small
school. You knew the people a year ahead of you, so you'd make a deal
K: You just kind of ask them.
R: That's right, they'd sell their textbooks to you without benefit of the
bookstore. So, as much as possible, you'd try at the end of the
year to make a deal with someone in the class ahead of you, to buy
K: Now we mentioned before, when we were talking about the wooden dormi-
tory this side of the infirmary. Was the infirmary at that time on
that same site?
R: Yeah, but it was wooden too. This was before the brick infirmary
was built. The wood infirmary was right across the street. I believe
it had been a hospital, left over from World War I.
K: Did you ever have any occasion to receive medical treatment there?
R: Oh yes, you'd get a cold, or something, but I don't think I ever spent
a night there.
K: Nothing serious?
R: No, I always had good health.
K: Was there a swimming pool?
R: No. That's an interesting story, and you might be interested. Let
me see if I can remember it. By the time I came as a freshman, in
1928, a program had been started to build a swimming pool. The
year before the student body voted to assess themselves two dollars
a person each year. The plan was to accumulate the money for three
or four years. That would provide enough money to start, and I believe
somebody loaned the balance, so that construction could go ahead. I
guess that swimming pool's still there.
R: It was an open, outdoor pool. It probably cost $25,000, which we
thought was an awful lot of money. It must have been about 1930
that it was built. I was either a sophomore or junior. I think we
continued paying on a mortgage for several years. I should know more
about that, since I used to be on the student council. I don't remem-
ber the student council appropriating money for it out of student funds,
but we must have done so.
K: How about chapel services? Were they still compulsory at that time?
K: They were not?
R: There were student chaplains. I don't mean that the chaplains were
students. But all the major denominations had ordained ministers
assigned to the campus as chaplains. I remember one of them, the
Presbyterian chaplain, was a very nice guy. Sometimes the glee
club would need an extra car, and he used to go. We would need
somebody to carry three or four guys to a concert somewhere, and
he would be kind enough to help us. His name was Jones, a very, very
nice guy. Today all the denominations have buildings all along
University Avenue with sanctuaries and offices and so forth. It
seems to me the Catholic Center, Crane Hall, was built in the early
'30s. I think the others, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.,
operated at first in old residences. I think the churches owned the
residences. It now comes back to me--there would be Religious Emphasis
Week. There would be visiting ministers and the meetings were held
in the auditorium. Don't remember that I went to any. Religion
didn't play a very big part in my life, I'm afraid.
K: Do you remember any motion pictures, either on campus or theatres off
campus, while you were an undergraduate? In other words, was that
something that was a popular form of entertainment at that time?
R: There were movie houses downtown. I remember the Florida Theatre.
It was going great guns. There was another one down near the old
post office called the Lyric Theatre. Those were the only two movie
houses in town. I didn't get into drama or acting. Engineers had
their schedules all cut and dry. There wasn't much time for social
affairs. I do remember another old wooden building. It comes back
to me. There was a Y.M.C.A. building. It was across the street
from the wooden gym and was behind the cafeteria, between the cafeteria
and the wooden gym. It must have been one of those wooden structures
left from World War I. It was used for many years by the Y.M.C.A.
There were social and religious functions in that building. There were
activities there on Sunday evening or Sunday afternoon. But I didn't
get into that aspect of student life very much. There were some very
active guys there.
K: Yeah. When did you wind up your bachelor's degree?
K: Did you immediately start on the master's?
R: Yes. When I graduated, the Ag. Experiment Station offered me a chance
to increase the number of hours until I was working half time. And
with the perquisite that I could go to graduate school half time.
The hours were flexible, since I was working in a lab, and could work
at my convenience. I could fit the working hours around the schedule
on the campus, so I just started right on working on a master's. At
that time, one of the big things in Florida agriculture was the use of
trace elements, such as copper, zinc, manganese and cobalt. They occur
in very small quantities in Florida soils. I worked on that phase of
agricultural research. My boss was Dr. Leonard Gaddum who was later
chairman of the C-2 department in the General College. He was a physical
chemist, and had a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. He started me
out working on the trace elements using spectro-chemical analysis. The
head of the physics department and head of chemical engineering, who were
on my master's committee, allowed me to use some of the research I was
doing at the Ag. Experiment Station as a thesis. That was a great
help. I continued that routine for two years and received a master's
K: Now which department did you actually have that degree in?
K: In chemistry.
R: Yes, although Beisler was head of chemical engineering, he was still
in the chemistry department at that time. Chemical engineering was
not separate from chemistry. Beisler was chairman of my master's
R: Yes, Walter Beisler. Robert C. Williamson, head of the physics
department, was also on the committee. And Leonard Gaddum, who was
my boss at the Ag. Experiment Station. There was an interesting
development on the instrument we used to determine the trace elements.
We didn't have a spectrograph in the Ag. Experiment Station, so I
had to go to the physics department and use theirs. Williamson was
just a prince of a guy. He was interested in the whole project, and
helped us enormously. The work got so promising that the Ag. Experi-
ment Station management decided to buy their own spectrograph. They
sent me to Rochester, New York, to the Bausch and Lomb plant where
I worked on a new spectrograph for two weeks. In the summer of 1934,
I got married, and we went to Rochester on our honeymoon. I worked
at Bausch and Lomb each day. The spectrograph proved to be highly
satisfactory, so the Experiment Station bought it. The spectroscopy
eventually led to a full-time job, in the Ag. Experiment Station.
In the meantime Dr. Gaddum had said, "Lew, you're not, you're not
going anywhere if you don't have a Ph.D." And I said, "Well, they
give a Ph.D. in the chemistry department, why don't I just go on
over and take a Ph.D. there? It would be a lot easier than going
somewhere else." He said, "No, I think you ought to go to another
school." Well, I had no money, and I was married. And Gaddum said,
"Well, you can work that out." So my wife, who had graduated from
Florida State College for Women, as an art major, had been unable to
get a job. By this time all the art teaching positions had been
eliminated from the schools because of the Depression. So she took
typing to help me get through graduate school. We started
graduate school at Cornell in 1937. We went there in the summer
of '37, and then came back, worked a year, saving up to go back to
Cornell. I was a teaching assistant in the chemistry department
at Cornell in 1938-39. We came back here the following year to
save up to go back again. Fortunately in my last year at Cornell,
the General Education Board gave me a fellowship, and we went back
again in 1940-41. I received my Ph.D. in chemistry in 1941. The
General Education Board is now part of the Rockefeller Foundation.
All I had to do the last year was go to school, which was just great.
K: What is yourwife's name?
R: She was Lucille Ellenberg.
K: How did you meet her, was it here?
R: No, we met in DeFuniak Springs. She'd been living in South Carolina,
and her father died. Her mother was left with teen-age daughters.
The grandmother lived in DeFuniak Springs, so they moved to DeFuniak
Springs, and she went to high school there. We met in high school
there. Later, she went to F.S.C.W., in Tallahassee. I went back and
forth from Gainesville to Tallahassee for four years. We got married
K: Now, when you went away for your doctorate, who was the person that
you were working with, up in...
R: Cornell? His name is Pete Nichols. He was a professor of analytical
chemistry in the chemistry department. I had a minor in chemical
microscopy, and a second minor in soil chemistry with Richard Bradfield.
By the way here's an interesting side light--he's now retired and
lives here in Gainesville.
K: Did you have anything to do with that?
R: No. Bradfield didn't ask me.
K: Now did you continue your interest in trace elements for your disserta-
R: Yes, I worked on the micro-determination of molybdenum. Molybdenum
is one of the essential elements for certain organisms, particularly
the organisms that fix nitrogen on legumes. I got interested in this
because we had discovered, in our spectroscopic studies, apparently
an excess of molybdenum in the soils around Lake Okeechobee. It's
still a curious thing--why does molybdenum accumulate in those muck
soils? But there it is, and when you run a spectrogram, you see
the molybdenum spectral lines standing out. The first time we ran
a spectrogram on some of those soils, we were dumbfounded. What
was molybdenum doing there? We thought we'd made a mistake or
contaminated the sample. The animal husbandry people noticed that
cattle grazing on those soils developed a certain kind of bone
problem. Their bones would be very brittle and we hypothesized
that this was due to the molybdenum tying up the phosphate that is
necessary for bone development. I got interested in molybdenum. I
started reading about it and found out that some people in other
parts of the world had found it to be necessary for these micro-
organisms on legumes. I got interested in the determination of
molybdenum and did my thesis on it. They let me do a lot of the
work here in Florida, and use it in the thesis at Cornell.
K: Now, when did you secure your doctorate?
K: In the Spring?
R: No, September, 1941.
K: Where were you, physically, doing your work for the Agricultural
Experiment Station over this period of time. Were you here in
K: ...or were you down in south Florida?
R: We were here in Gainesville. When we bought the spectrograph that
I mentioned from Bausch and Lomb in 1934, it was an instrument bigger
than this table. It was eighteen inches wide, and two feet high,
and ten feet long. There was no place to put it in the Experiment
Station building. They had a wooden building down in what was called
the horticultural gardens. I think McCarty Hall is where it used to
be. Anyway, I had that as a spectroscopy lab, and also I had a
chemistry lab in Newell Hall. I would do whatever chemistry I had
to do for sample preparation, and then had to carry them down to the
other lab for spectrochemical analysis. During the time I was working
on the Ph.D., I was on leave of absence, and going back and forth to
Cornell. The separation of the two labs, and having to go from one
place to another was always a nuisance.
So, on the way back from Ithaca in 1941, I stopped in New York
to visit the Rockefeller Foundation and thank them for the fellowship.
I also asked them, "Would you people entertain a proposal to build a
building to house the spectrograph and chemistry lab together?"
I had the idea of putting all the trace element studies together,
and make Florida the leader in trace element research in the world.
Anyway, it was a great concept. The Rockefeller people are wonderful
people to work for. They just assume you're a serious student, and
that you will go ahead and do your work. No supervision at all. And
they said, in effect, "Well you go back and get your dean and your
president to support what you have, and we'll consider it." [John J.]
Tigert was then president. Well, I got back here in September of '41,
and they were starting to renovate Newell Hall and that's where the
soils department was located. They completely gutted that building
and rebuilt it from the inside. That was in September. In December
we had Pearl Harbor. By this time, I had acquired a reserve officers
commission. That was no time to start talking about building a build-
ing. I was called into service in February of '42 and spent four
years in the Air Force. When I got back, Newell Hall had been rebuilt
and reoccupied, but there was no room for the spectrograph. The
spectrograph was still out in the little wood building. Dean [H. Harold]
Hume at that time was provost of agriculture, a wonderful
gentleman. I went to him and said, "I have this idea, I think I can
get $50,000 to put up a little building." I asked him to support
my proposal, and he said he would. So we wrote to the Rockefeller
Foundation, and they gave us the money for a small building. That's
the small building attached to.Newell Hall.
K: On the west?
R: Yes, there's an open arcade between it and Newell Hall. That's
what I call the Lewis H. Rogers Memorial Annex [laughter]. I'm
kidding, of course. That was built about 1947-48. I never got to
work in it because by this time we had a youngster and we built a
house over on, what's now Fifth Avenue. But I just couldn't make
ends meet. An offer came along from Union Carbide at Oak Ridge,
Tennessee, at the nuclear plant there. A fellow I had known at
Cornell was there and told me they were looking for a spectroscopist
to work on trace elements in uranium. The offer was for a fifty
per cent increase in salary. It was an offer I couldn't refuse
K: I should ask you exactly what title were they calling you by in
R: I had two titles: biochemist and Professor of Soil Chemistry.
Gaddum had left the experiment station and moved over to be chairman
of the C-2 program, Man and the Physical World, in the general college.
They had given me his job. At first the title was assistant biochemist.
Gaddum's title had been biochemist. I was made assistant biochemist
about 1937, then associate about '39, and then, when I got back out
of the service in 1947, they promoted me to full professor and bio-
K: Now, of course, you were working full time for the station...
K: ...and so you weren't involved in any teaching.
R: Well, let me correct. In 1947 when I got out of the service,
there was a movement on to have some of the Ag. Experiment Station
research people do some teaching. I went to the head of the soils
department and told him I'd like to teach a course in soil chemistry.
He put me on the teaching faculty, part-time. I carried a dual
appointment, in the Ag. Experiment Station and in the College of
Agriculture. As I remember it, my salary was split seventy-five
percent from the research budget, and twenty-five percent from the
teaching budget. I taught a seminar in soil chemistry and a course
in soil chemistry. But that only lasted one year before I resigned
and went to Oak Ridge.
K: Now, how long did you stay up there in Tennessee?
R: We stayed there five years, working for Union Carbide. I went to
Oak Ridge, and worked for five years doing spectroscopy on trace
elements in uranium, also some microscopy and other analytical
chemistry research. The trace element and spectroscopy relationship
became a theme through all my jobs. In 1952 I got an offer to go
to work for Kraftco, a big dairy company. Kraft cheese company is
one of the main subsidiaries. They had a lab at that time on Long
Island. They offered me the job as leader of the analytical depart-
ment. We moved to Long Island, and only stayed two years, because
Kraftco decided to combine that lab with one in Glenview, Illinois,
near Chicago, where their main operation is located. I would have
had to move again anyway. My boss, who was the director of that
lab, was going to be demoted, and he received an offer to go to
Los Angeles to be president of the Air Pollution Foundation, which
had just been created to work on the Los Angeles smog problem. He
offered me a job to go to Los Angeles with him at a fifty percent
increase in salary. Since we had to move anyway, I went to Los
Angeles. Again I was working with trace contaminants, but this
time in the atmosphere, instead of in the soil. We stayed in Los
Angeles five years, and I got an offer from Automation Industries
in Los Angeles, as director of one of their research labs in New
Jersey. So we moved to New Jersey, and stayed there ten years.
Automation was going through a reorganization in 1968, and they
offered me the job of corporate director of research, back in Los
Angeles. We moved back to Los Angeles and bought a house in Los
Angeles. That job lasted less than eighteen months. The company
had another reorganization, and reorganized me out of a job, along
with fifty other people.
It was now 1970, and the environmental movement had become
really quite strong. I started looking for a job in air pollution,
and an offer came from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh to
manage the Air Pollution Control Association. That is a technical
society for engineers, scientists, educators, consultants and control
officials concerned with air pollution control. So, for the last
eight years I have been in Pittsburgh at Carnegie-Mellon managing
this technical society. That was a fun job, because it took me all
over the world. There was an international organization, as well as
the U. S. and Canadian organization. By this time our children had
finished college, so my wife could travel with me, and we have
enjoyed a fair amount of travelling.
K: Now, you're still affiliated with the Carnegie-Mellon...
R: No, I'm retired. I retired and we moved back to Gainesville, because
we have a lot of fond memories here, and it's a nice place to live.
I'm working one or two days a week, consulting with Environmental
Science and Engineering here in Gainesville. Dr. [Ellwood Robert]
Axel Hendrickson, who used to be director of sponsored research
here at the university, is now chairman of the board of this company.
It's offices are on the Newberry Road about five miles west. He wants
me to work full-time, and I don't want to work full time.
K: Take a little time for golf.
R: That's right, and golf's important.
K: Well, you've been very patient with me, and I'd like to ask one more
question. In the time that you spent here at the University of Florida,
are there any persons in particular that you'd like to mention, who
you feel were extremely competent in what they were doing, contributed
a lot to the growth of knowledge as you observed?
R: Yeah, I think there's two or three guys that are not recognized enough.
Dr. Leonard Gaddum was my friend and benefactor, was a very competent
person. He was great to me all the time I was at the university.
He really was the guy who got me started in the trace element-
spectroscopic field. I think he was not adequately recognized.
The teacher who stands out in my memory, and a most outstand-
ing person, was Robert Williamson in physics. He had a teaching
method, especially in graduate courses which was unique. The classes
were small, maybe six or eight students in a class. He'd assign
a certain chapter in the text. You'd come to class, and never know
who he was going to call on. He might say, "Rogers, go to the black-
board and derive van der Waals's equation." You were supposed to go
to the blackboard, without benefit of notes, and derive the equation
for that assignment. This meant you had to know what you were doing.
And you never knew when it was coming. If you had done this one day,
you could relax for two or three class sessions, you would guess he
wasn't going to call on you. But you knew after about three more
sessions you'd better be ready. I learned a lot of physics from that
man. I think he was one of Florida's top teachers. Indeed, there's
a building named for him.
There's a third person that I think has never been really
recognized. That's Dr. Raymond Becker, was very active in the trace
element work. He's still alive, must be at least eighty years old.
He was the person who really applied trace elements in animal nutrition.
He's the person who really deserves the credit for discovering the
importance of cobalt in ruminant nutrition. Traces of cobalt are
necessary in cattle nutrition. We now know it's a component of the
vitamin, vitamin B12. It was 1935 when this was discovered here in
Florida. At that time, I was running the spectrograph, and Dr. Becker
brought in two samples of limonite that he had acquired from New
Zealand, where they had anutritional problem with sheep. In Florida,
we had a problem called "salt sickness" of cattle. The New Zealand
research people had discovered that one of these limonite samples,
if used as a feeding supplement, would cure the sheep of the nutri-
tional problem, and the other sample would not. The theory was that
there was something in one limonite that was not in the other. We
ran these two samples on the spectrograph, and cobalt lines showed
up clearly in one sample, but not the other. There were some calves
down in the barn which were suffering from salt sickness. Becker had
his colleagues start feeding a little cobalt to the calves, and in a
few days they were up and around, and soon recovered. The recovery
was just very dramatic. You know, cattle have four stomachs. In one
of these stomachs this particular organism is found that synthesizes
vitamin B12. Cattle can't thrive if they do not have this organism
and a trace of cobalt. The problem was solved in a period of two
weeks with traces of cobalt. Cobalt is now used all over the world
in cattle nutrition. I think Ray Becker ought to get a Nobel Prize
for his work on cobalt. Those are three guys that I was associated
with that I think are unsung heroes. If there's a place of honor
somewhere on the campus, they ought to be honored, all three of them.
K: Well, if you should decide, Dr. Rogers, that there's anything else
that you want to add in, later on, get a hold of it...
R: All right.
K: On the transcript feel free to just stick that in.
R: All right.
Agricultural Experiment Station: 21, 25, 26, 30
Air Pollution Control Association: 31
Anderson Hall: 15
Barco, Ernest T.: 17
barracks: 12, 13
Bausch and Lomb: 26, 28
Becker, Raymond: 32, 33
Beisler, Walter: 26
Bryan, William Jennings: 10
Buckman Hall: 14
Catts, Sidney: 8-10
Chautauqua: 9, 10
Cornell University: 27, 28
Crane Hall: 24
DeFuniak Springs, Florida: 1, 6, 7, 9, 10
Disston, Hamilton: 2, 4
dredge boat: 3
East Florida Seminary: 6
Ellenberg, Lucille: 26, 27
Florida State College for Women: 2
Florida Theatre: 25
Gaddum, Leonard: 25, 30, 32
Glee Club: 21, 22
Infirmary: 23, 24
Jewett, Martha Ann: 9
Kissimmee, Florida: 2-4, 6
Lyric Theatre: 25
meals: 22, 23
molybdenum: 27, 28
movie theatres: 25
Newell Hall: 12, 28, 29
P. K. Yonge School: 7
Phi Kappa Phi: 7
post office: 14
Religious Emphasis Week: 24, 25
Rockefeller Foundation: 27, 29
Rogers, (grandfather): 7, 9, 10
Rogers, Alfred: 3, 6, 8, 9
Rogers, Henry Jewett: 1, 5-7
Rogers, Lewis Henry...
education: 10-12, 14, 20, 25, 26, 28
employment: 21, 25, 29-31
personal background: 1, 26
Rogers, Nathan: 8
Rogers, Ruby Rose: 1-8
Rose, Rufus Edwards: 1-4
R.O.T.C. [Reserve Officer Training Corp.]: 16-20
Saturday Evening Post: 8
Simmons, G. Ballard: 7
swimming pool: 24
Thomas Hotel: 6
trace elements: 26, 27, 29-33
Union Carbide: 29, 30
Walton County High School: 11
Williamson, Robert C.: 26, 32