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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Angus McKenzie Laird
DATE: December 10, 1979
P: This is 507 Plantation Road in Tallahassee. This is
Monday morning and the date is December 10. I'm going
to talk to Professor Laird, who is a former student at
the University of Florida and a former member of the
history and social sciences faculties at the university.
Angus, give me your full name, please.
L: Angus McKenzie Laird.
P: Where did you get that kind of a name, particularly that
Angus and McKenzie?
L: I didn't fully get it from the black cow, but I do get
people to remember my name by associating it with a
black cow. Then they can understand it. My fathers
was a descendant of a Scot-Irish and Scot immigrants
that came to this country about the middle of the 18th
century. Up until my mother's day, all of the family
married in families from Scotland or from Northern Scotland
so that Angus comes natural. My grandmother was a McKenzie
and that's where I got the name McKenzie. [Recently a relative
informed me that my great-grandfather Henry Laird's death
certificate was signed by his son-in-law, a physician who
knew him well as of Scotch-French descent. His mother was
apparently of Hugehot descent.]
P: When did your family come to Florida?
L: The first Laird family members came to Florida about 1845. I
don't know the exact date. My first ancestor came to Florida
in 1821, according to family legend. I'm not sure about that.
We were supposed to have been among the first settlers in the
Euchah Valley in Walton County in Wept Florida.
P: Which, of course, is where a lot of the Scotsmen settled at
that particular time.
L: Yes, it was a Scbttish settlement.
P: What about that relative that came in 1845, do you know more
L: Not very much. I had written a book on, not the Laird family,
but it was about my two brothers, in memory of my two brothers.
It was published last year, and I can furnish you with a copy
of that book, which attempts to trace the background of the
Laird family in Florida and in the United States. My
great-grandfather Laird, named Henry Laird, was in the
Confederate army, and there's a lot of confusion about
him because there were two Henry Lairds. One was an uncle
who raised a regiment, and it was called Captain Laird's
regiment. This young Henry Laird was in this regiment,
and some of the records were confused.
P: Is this a Florida unit?
L: It was West Florida and Alabama. Back in-those days, and
until recent years, West Florida was pretty much a
part of Alabama.
P: How did the family get into the Tallahassee area?
L: I'm the onlymember of the family in the Tallahassee area.
Our family has been in West Florida, although some of my
own generation and the generation that followed is scattered
throughout the world.
P: You came to Gainesville from West Florida.
L: Bay County.
P: Where were you born?
L: I was born in Alabama, but my older brother and younger
brothers and sisters were born in Florida.
P: Tell me the date of your birth.
L: October 9, 1903, in a little town called Opp, Alabama.
P: Where was your family living? The rest of your brothers and sisters
you say were born in West Florida.
L: Yes. In De Funiak Springs and in Panama City.
P: Where did you grow up? Which of those communities?
L: My mother died in 1912 on a visit to my grandparents' farm
or plantation which was about a mile from the Alabama line,
over in Alabama. We were there on a visit. My mother died
and then we were with relatives for two or three years in
Alabama and West Florida. Then my father married again,
and we lived in Bay County. Most of my boyhood, from the
time I was twelve until I went away to college, was in Bay
P: What city?
L: Well, first in Millville, then in a little community called
West Bay, then on a turpentine place way out in the country
called Laird's Camp, then in old St. Andrew. While I:was
in college, St. Andrew was annexed by Panama City.
P: What business was your father in?
L: He was a turpentimer and a sawmill man. Turpentimer was what
we called it back in those days. In more recent times, the
descendants of turpentimers have called it a manufacturer. He
was a manufacturer of naval stores--turpentine, rosin.
P: Tell me a little bit about turpentining--that's something
that seems to be disappearing from our knowledge today and yet
it played a very vital role in Florida history.
L: Yes, several times I've thought that I might write a history
of the turpentine industry as Iknew about it.
P: That's what I'd like you to tell me a little bit, as you
L: All right. Well, my first: memory of turpentine place was over
at Antioch, Florida. My father and his older brother started
a chain of stores, department stores and grocery stores,
about 1906. My father had made some money in the sawmill business
and his older brother, who was quite an aggressive person, had
started this chain of stores. He wanted his brother to
help him, so we moved back to Florida from Alabama. I can
remember the move, no, not the move, but some events going
back to two years and four.months after my birth, so we were
in Florida by that time. Then, in the panic of 1906 they were
wiped out completely and he started back into the turpentine
His father had owned what my father thought was the first
turpentine business in West Florida. That was not correct
but he believed it, and it was in West Florida that my
grandfather had a tract of land. A family by the name of
McCaskill came down from Georgia. McCaskill had a son-
in-law named Pusley (Dubey's grandfather) and they
started a turpentine place at Argyle in West Florida.
They got their business in operation and a hurricane came
along and blew down their timber.
In those days, they cut boxes at the foot of the tree and
those boxes were cut with long bladed axes. I've often
thought about this, back in the days when we used to say that
Black people could not develop any skills, I remembered how
well they could cut boxes in trees. It required a great
deal of skill to cut a smooth box at the bottom of a tree
that would hold from one to two quarts of pine gum. And I
can remember that kind of operation. In 1914-15, my father
put up fourteen crops of boxes. Fourteen crops would mean
140,000 trees had boxes cut into them in 1914 and '15. The
last big operation of that kind in West Florida I expect, be-
cause after that cups, first clay and then tin and then
aluminum cups replaced the old boxes. There were cups prior
to that time, they were introduced about 1912, but we didn't
have any of them, and they were difficult to apply. Actually
the first ones were clay and there were disadvantages to the
use of clay. If they were allowed to remain on the tree until
the winter time, and there was a rain and the water turned to
ice, the cups would be broken. So my father did not believe
in clay cups and he recruited large numbers of skilled boxcutters
and cut fourteen crops in 1914-15.
P: How large of a Black crew was worked on this turpentine plantation?
L: I can't remember. I've thought about it many times later, even
when I was in college. We must have several hundred families
on our place, but in more recent years I've become more
realistic and I-doubt if we had more than fifty or seventy-five
Black families and about three or four White families at the
P: What else, besides cutting and placing the boxes, did the
Black laborers do?
L: Well, then that was done usually in the winter time, and
then in the spring of the year they began to chip the faces.
Before that they had to put gutters on the trees, but not
for boxes, just for cups. Those gutters were made of tin and
it took a crew of two to put them up. After the boxes
were cut, beginning around the first of April, we began to
put streaks on the trees. Those were done first for about
two to three years by what was called a chipper which
was a device unlike anything that I could compare it with.
Nevertheless it was a device that had a kind of a cup formation
on one edge--it was made of steel, and it was very sharp.
Then it had a handle to it and was attached to a sharp
wooden handle, and at the end of that wooden handle was an
iron ball. A man would take this chipper and cut down one
side of the face just above the boxes, and later the gutters,
and then would go and cut down the other side of the face,
so that you would have two "v" shaped streaks on the side
of the tree. And the tree would exude what we call gum,
a stick substance that had turpentine and rosin in it.
Then that would run, rather fast, for about a week or ten
days. And the gum would oxidize and close the pores of the
tree. The purpose of this was nature's way to enable the
tree to protect itself from insects. Then, by the
first of May we began to have weekly streaks on these trees.
On our turpentine place, one man would be assigned a crop
of trees. Actually, instead of there being 10,000, there
were 10,500 trees in a crop. As a rule, I used 10,000
mainly for the purpose of adding up the number of trees
that were boxed in--that particular year. Then it took about
four weeks for a tree to fill that quart box down at the
bottom. Each worker, male, would have a crop. Some
would be short corps, older ones sometimes would share a
crop with someone else. And they worked by themselves in
the woods, although we would have a wood rider who would
visit them once or twice a week. They would be paid by
the crop. Then when the box was full of gum, we had what
was called. .
P: Excuse me just a minute. What do you mean they would be
paid by the crop?
L: Oh, they were paid so much money for chipping this crop.
P: I see, all right.
L: You see, they would be paid weekly. There were given checks
which could be used at the commissary, and then at the end
of the month they were paid off in cash. They could cash
in their checks that they hadn't used at the commissary.
P: You were going to say at the end of the week they collected
the boxes .
L: No, at the end of the month the boxes would be filled
with gum and then another crew, which would usually include
the younger people, but sometimes older people in the place,
would come around. Each person would have a bucket
that would hold from about ten to fifteen gallons of
gum, and they would have a spade that would reach down into
the box and spade up the gum and put into the bucket.
Then on our place, usually, we had a dip wagon, which would
go around from one worker to another whenihis bucket was
full. The worker would call out--you'd have a special name
like, "Waycross, tallyman, Waycross." "Ninety-nine tallyman,
Waycross." "Seventy-seven"--he'd call out when his bucket
was filled. Incidentally, the boxes were cut and each
person was paid by the number of boxes that he cut--piecework.
And when they had finished a box, they'd call out the
name and the tallyman would tally it. Then they would have
an inspector to go check the box to see if it was properly
cut. The same thing as true about putting in the tins,
although the tins or the gutters were put in by a crew of two,
two men worked together. When they got the tins in, they
called out a number and a person would tally.
I started working in the turpentine fields tallying various
things. There were several things that were tallied in the
turpentineindustry. I-started out when I was eleven years
old in the turpentine fields, and from that I was promoted
to operating the dip wagon which gathered the gum. We had
a barrel sitting on the dip wagon. By the time I was
fourteen I was driving the dip wagon, and I developed a
good deal of strength lifting those buckets up on the
barrel. Then, when the barrel was full, I put the heading
on it and dumped it on the ground. So when I went away
to school and tried toinitiateme:, I hit a boy--he went reeling;
I didn't know that I had such strength. They let me alone
on the school grounds after that.
P: How much were you paid for this work that you were doing?
L: I don't remember that my father ever put any price on my
labor. When I was old enough to go to college, he gave me
a checkbook. During the war years we lived rather frugally,
we worked hard, and my father made what for those times
was a fairly good fortune. In high school we moved from
the turpentine camp back to a little town called West
Bay and from that to St. Anderw, which was a
part of Panama City along the beachfront.
P: Before we leave the turpentine thing and move on, I wanted
to ask you a few more questions aboutit to get it on the
record. What about the Black women. What did they do at
L: They went fishing.
P: In other words, they did not work the trees.
L: No, they did not work in the forest. I can remember groves
of them fishing because Iwould go fishing myself in the time
when we were not working or in school, when we had a school
which met up at the turpentine camp at Laird's Camp. The
school met in the Black church. We sat on the benches
in the Black church. During school they had religious
services. The Black people had religious services beginning
sometimes Friday night. If the Visiting minister was there
he started in Friday night and they sang until they sang
themselves out Saturday morning. Then there was a period
of resting and then they'd start Saturday night and sing
until about Sunday noon. And there would be preaching too.
I remember that my father said we could go over there for
the services, but if he ever heard that we laughed he
would give us a switching. We were not supposed to laugh
at Black religious services like young people would today,
and they still have service like that today.
P: Angus, where did you get your early education?
L: In a number of small schools with what amounted to tutors
in part of it. The second year after my mother's death,
my fatherplaced my older brother, younger brother, and myself
in a boarding school in De Funiak Springs. There is where
I first met Bob Graham's family, the Simmons family. Dr.
Simmons had a drugstore there, and I supposed he was a medical
doctor too, I'm not sure. That's where I knew Bob Graham's
mother, and his brother first, in 1913. Then my father married
again and we moved to West Bay and they had a public school
at West Bay.
P: Tell me about the boarding school before you go on to the
West Bay operation.
L: It was a Methodist school in De Funiak Springs, started
by the Methodist Church, and it was called the Thomas
Industrial Institute or T-double I. After I was there,
such varied individuals as Fuller Warren and B.K. Roberts
and several others that were prominent in Florida
life, went there. But I was there
before them, although I was a classmate of B.K. and
Fuller at the University of Florida.
P: No, you lived in the building where you attended class?
L: Yes, a dormitory.
P: Tell me a little bit more about what you studied and what
you did at this school.
L: I already knew how to read and write pretty well. I was
ten, eleven years old when I went to that school, and I'd
been.to several schools before that time, usually four
to six-month schools. Most of them I think were public
schools. They were just beginning to have public schools
in the area. But on these turpentine camps, if the manager
or superintendant, especially if the proprietor lived there
with a family, they usually had a school that the owner
provided for his own children and also other white children
in the area.
I remember up at Laird Camp when we would be in school,
and we didn't have school in the middle of winter because
there were no heaters in that building. One winter we had
school and we went into what I called a shanty at the time
and it had a little tin heater there. And the teacher was
one of the best teachers I ever had in my life. She could
really explain grammar and teach grammar and it made sense.
I think that our schools have lost a lot by not teaching
grammar in the sixth grade, and I was in the sixth grade at
that time. But I remember that when it was the spring of
the year before the dipping season started, or in the fall
of the year when it was warm, we'd be in that school building
and the Black boys would wait outside the door to play base-
ball with us.
P: They.didn't g6 :to school?
L: They didn't go to school.
P: At the boarding school in De Funiak, who were the teachers?
L: TI',can remember only two people. I had a Miss Gavin--a
young woman; and then there was a man named Colonel, I think
he was a retired colonel, who was head master of the school.
He later became hospital superintendant in Gainesville,
Alachua County Hospital. What was his name? His son married
a McKinstry as I recall in Gainesville. His son was older
than I was. Anyway, we had one teacher and one teacher
taught a grade, not a subject. They taught reading,
writing, and arithmetic. Taught to the tune of a hickory
P: I bet they used the hickory stick.
L: They used it. My father always said if Igot a whipping in
school, I'd get a worse one at home, so I tried to behave.
P: Now, from De Funiak Springs, you said you went to school
L: Then, when my father married again we moved to West Bay, or
my father had already moved. We were moving from Millville
to West Bay, or from East Bay to West Bay in Bay County. At
the time we went on a visit to my grandfather and my
mother contracted typhoid fever on the way and died at my
P: What business was your father in then?
L: Naval stores. [When he moved to West Bay in 1912 he was
first the bookkeeper for a large lumber and Naval stores
company. After two years he leased the Naval stores operation.]
P: He was still in the naval stores for his business.
L: In earlier years, my father and his older brother, when my
father must have been about seventeen or eighteen years of
age, his older brother about nineteen or twenty, borrowed
some money and set up a sawmill of their own. I suspect there's
nobody alive today who could tell about it, about cutting
lumber on my grandfather's property. They started in
the sawmill business when they were very young. Then
they apparently made some money. My father made what was
for West Florida a small fortune three times in life, and
a panic or depression bankrupted him every time. After
his first sawmill business, he had been in school and
he went to the old West Florida Norman School, which we
could claim to have been an early school of the University
of Florida if we use the kind of history that some people
do. The old West Florida Norman School and the graduates
of summer schools in South Florida were given diplomas
from the University of Florida.
P: Where was the West Florida Norman School?
L: In De Funiak Springs.
P: He attended that institution?
L: Yes, and it was the forerunner of Palmer College, a Presby-
terian college over there for about thirty or forty years.
P: I'm just a little bit curious about one thing, and this
if off the subject, but of course the Sidney J. Catts
family was living in De Funiak Springs at the time that
you were a child going to school there. Did you know any
of the Catts children?
L: No, they came to De Funiak Springs after we left and the
family was reunited in Bay County.
P: I see.
L: Catts was in Florida along about two years before he was
elected governor. Are you familiar with the biography of
Sidney J. Catts?
P: Yes, I know about that; but I knew that he had settled in
De Funiak and was a Baptist minister there. I just thought
that maybe in some way that you were contemporary with
some of his children.
L: I think I can remember seeing Ruth at an aunt's home
one time. We were trying to play chewing gum on the
piano and Rujtl could play chewing gum on the piano.
P: Now where did you go to high school, Angus?
L: In Bay County.
P: And you were graduated when?
L: In 1923.
P: What kind of a high school was operating in Bay County
at the time? It had to be relatively small. .
L: Yes it was, it had all classes from primary to high
school. I graduated with the class of 1923, and there
were twenty-three of us in the class. The year before
there were twelve; the year before that there were six,
so the enrollment doubled for several years. I graduated
in 1923 with a class of twenty-three.
P: What brought you to the University of Florida?
L: A tradition among the old Scotish settlers, and they had
been above us too, but among the Scots they've always had
a tradition that the children should be educated. My father,
I started to tell you a few minutes ago, after the
death of his first wife, went to a school called Kentucky
University in Louisville, Kentucky. It was a business school,
and he was given a diploma. I think that Kentucky University
was a forerunner of the University of Louisville. I haven't
traced it but people have told me that it might have been so.
[Later-I have traced it; it was a part of old Transylvania
College, a great institution in its day.] So, in the education
of his day as a businessman, he was a fairly well-educated man.
He had graduated from a university, but he got his degree in
one year. Now he may have been given credit for other studies
somewhere else in the old State Normal School in De Funiak
Springs. So, he wanted us to go to college.
My older brother didn't go and I never did really know why
he didn't go. My father once told me he was going to send
him to the University of Florida, but for some reason he
didn't go. Anyway, when he finished high school the war
was on and he was seventeen years of age, and he tried
to volunteer for the Officer's Training Corps, but was
turned down. Then on November 11, 1918, he registered
for the draft. He was eighteen years of age then.
But he didn't go to college, and I remember hearing my father
say later on that my brother just decided he would stay on
in the business, which might or might not have been a
good thing for him. He told me later on in life that
if he'd gone to college he would have studied chemistry.
But I wanted to go to college, and itwas the year when
everybody was thinking about going to college. Nine of
the boys in my class, and that was about almost half of
them--I think there were two of them who didn't go to
college--but nine of us went to the University of Florida.
I was the only one to graduate out of nine boys from Bay
County, class of '23.
P: Now, you came to Gainesville then in September of 1923?
L: That,s right.
P: Was this the first time you had seen Gainesville?
L: No, that spring I had gone down there with out high school
principal, Dr. [Glenn] Ballord Simmons, who later was Dean
at the University. He had taken a group of us down there
to the university, to the track meet, in April, I believe
it was, in 1923. We left Panama City about 9:30 in the
morning in a brand new Ford car. We crossed the river on
a ferry at Chattahoochee and the car was loaded--we had to
help push the car up the hill. We got here in the late
afternoon and had supper and started to Gainesville. To
make a long story short, we got to Gainesville about
noon the next day.
P: When you say here, you meant that you had gotten to Tallahassee
L: Yes, and we stopped two or three hours here.
P: You spent the night here?
L: No, we travelledall night.
P: How were the roads in 1923 from Tallahassee to Gainesville?
L: Well, if you have enough time I can take you out in the
country and show you some of them, except that I don't think
they have as much sand as they had in those days. They had,
of course, different kind of tires. We got stuck in the
sand a time or two. I don't think we got stuck in a mudhole
P: But it was a long trip.
L: It was a long trip, and a lot of the time. On the sand hills
we went in intermediate or in low.
P: And you came in by way of Perry?
L: No, we couldn't have at that time. We came in by way of Lake
City. We were in Lake City, arrived at daylight, when
the restaurant, the old Blue Goose I guess it was, opened
up. We had breakfast there.
P: Were there paved roads? Was there a paved road between
here and there, or was it all sand?
L: Yes, there was a short piece of paved road between Tallahassee
and Lake City. It was in a little town called Wellborn
[Suwannee County], which still exists. The paved road was
made of some kind of blocks, whether of wood or of clay,
I'm not sure; probably clay. The road was just wide enough
for a car to go, and it was about a half mile long, although
at the time I thought it was a mile long. It was the first
paved road I've ever been on. I don't recall that there
were any paved streets in Tallahassee, but I'm sure there
must have been.
P: And the rest of it was just. .
L: Sand, a rut.
P: .a trail through the woods.
L: A trail through the woods, yes.
P: It was clearly marked, though, you couldn't have lost. .
L: Oh, yes, it was very clearly marked. It went back to
P: And the road from Lake City into Gainesville was clearly
L: Yes, they were working on the road at that:time and that was
one reason for the delay. I think we had to wait about
an hour somewhere around High Springs. The road equipment let
P: Where did you stay in Gainesville when you came to this track
L: In the dormitory. I stayed in old Thomas Hall, visiting a boy
who had graduated from the high school two years before, a
friend of mine. The other boys did the same thing.
P: Can you remember what the campus looked like now when you.
came in the spring of '23 and again in the fall of '24?
L: Well, if you can remember what Laird Camp and West Bay and
Panama City looked like at that time, you can understand
the impression it made on me-it was magnificent. It had,
as I recall, four buildings at the time-and they were other
buildings. Well, there were Buckman and Thomas Halls,
Language Hall was a relatively new building. It's named
something differently now-I believe they named it after Dean
P: No, they named it after Dean Anderson.
L: Dean Anderson, that's right, Anderson Hall. Then the chemistry
building between Buckman and Anderson Hall was a new building.
The law school was there. It was a small building, much
smaller than it later became when you knew it. There was
Peabody Hall, a teacher's college. There was Ag Hall,
agricultural college. They were smaller buildings, but
they looked big to me. And Benton Hall, named after dean
of engineering, later on. You would call them small buildings
but they looked big to me. There was one big, enormous structure
on the campus. The walls were already up, and some of the
scaffolding for the roof was there and that was for the
University Auditorium. It was a great building and in my
mind it still is.
P: And Science Hall was adjacent to Anderson across the
L: Yes, that's what I call chemistry, and I think it was known
as chemistry for awhile, but that was Science Hall. You're
P: When you got there they were building the auditorium?
L: I was a member of the first class that graduated in it.
P: Now, where did you live when you came as a student in the
fall of '23?
L: In 26 Buckman.
P: It's still there.
L: Yes, it's still there.
P: Haveyou gone back to see your old room?
L: Not in a good many years. I've been back to the building
but I haven't been'back to 26 in the last thirty years.
P: What did the campus itself look like? Were there paved
L: No, and when it rained in the winter time, as it did, we
sloshed around in the mud. West University Avenue was
especially muddy and boggy. Of course, we had compulsory
military service, and Ibelieve we had to drill three mornings
out of the month. We were glad of it because we had boots
and we could slosh around in that mud without getting our
normal shoes muddy.
P: Where was the drill field?
L: It was just west of Thomas Hall, near the place where they
have the handball courts now, or did have them--I don't
whether they're still there or not.
P: They're still there, yes.
L: Then just beyond that was the football field and bleachers.
The area where the present stadium is was.called Crapper's
Creek. A swampy area.
P: Why did they call it Crapper's Creek?
L: Do you know where the term "crap" came from?
L: Have you ever heard of indoor toilet called "crap"?
L: It was invented by an Englishman by the name of Thomas
L:: So they named this area down below the dormitories, I didn't
know this at the time, Crapper's Creek. Sometimes if all
the places were filled up, the dormitories' boys would
go down to Crapper's Creek.
P: Now was that a swamp-area?
L: It was a swamp area.
P: It was always a low area through there so there was water
standing there sometime during the year.
L: Yes, a little stream and a spring at the head. I never did
go up to the head. I never did cross Crapper's Creek. I think
I went over every other area around the university, but not
down in Crapper's Creek. It didn't appeal to me somehow.
P: So that had to be drained when they put the stadium there
in later years.
L: That's right. Dug out and drained.
P: Now, there were no paved streets on the campus at all.
L: None on campus.
P: Were there sidewalks? Do you remember that?
L: I do recall a sidewalk by the side of Buckman Hall, and I'll
explain to you how I happened to recall there was a sidewalk.
There were a group of boys from Blountstown that included such
remarkable presonalities as Fuller Warren, and Ted Pendarvis.
Calhoun County had produced a lot of remarkable people,
and there were others too in the group. The names don't
come to mind right now, but they liked to shoot crap, and
that crap. I don't know where theconnection between that
crap and the other type of crap came from. But they used
to get on the sidewalk out there and shoot crap. I was
what I like to think, but Inever wanted to appear conceited
about it, a kind of a virtuous person at that time and I
didn't shoot crap, I didn't gamble, I didn't drink, I didn't
smoke. My father told me I couldn't buy cigarettes with his
money. I could buy cigars and pipe tobacco, but not
cigarettes. Now there were a few other restrictions. I couldn't
go into the pool room and I was rather a straight-laced person.
I told you the other day that I was planning my memoirs. It's
a little bit different from most memoirs. I've been thinking
that I would write a mental autobiography. When my mother
died on the farm in Alabama, I-waswithisome cousins and my
brothers and sisters under the scuppernong arbor. An uncle
came out to tell me--to tell all of us--that if I wanted to
tell my mother goodbye I should go to the house. I knew
my mother was ill, but I had no idea she would die. But instead
of going to the house, Ifell down against a stump and began
to pray. And I cried. When I got up to the house my mother was
dead. And I never forgave myself for about twenty-five years
for not seeing my mother. I had a sense of guilt about not
telling my mother good-bye. I didn't reveal it--it sank in.
I had that sense of guilt when I went to the university and
My father didn't tell me I couldn't drink because he drank
himself. Not much, but always at Christmas time, wehad eggnog
and he would take toddies. He was a kind of an everyday pro-
hibitionist. He was the law and he believed in respect for the
law, but nevertheless, he would take a toddy. I don't know how
he got his spirits, but he did occasionally. His father had
been the partner-owner and proprietor of a common still.
There were five families that owned the still in his boyhood
days. They made their own spirits for sale, they just made
their yearly supply. Each family would come to the spring,
and they would camp out:there for a week and made their own what
we would call rum, moonshine, white lightning. So I was
accustomed to drinking at Christmas time, but I didi't
drink at the university, never did.
P: How did the university let these boys shoot crap on the
L: How do they let boys do a lot of things they're not supposed
to do today?
P: I see.
L: I don't know that there was any prohibition against it, and
they bet sometimes on it.
P: You ate in the Commons?
P: How was the food there?
L: Compared to the food at Laird's Camp, it was wonderful.
P: You found nothing wrong with :the university.
L: The only thing wrong with it was that-they gave us spinach
sometimes and I can't eat spinach to this day, although
they've improved it a great deal.
P: Who was in charge of the dormitory? Who was the matron?
L: An elderly lady named [Mrs. Margaret] Peeler. Later on, in
order to develop some refinement, Dr. Murphree made arrangements
for a Miss Elizabeth Skinner, a graduate of Smith College. Her
family was rather wealthy down in Pinellas County, the Skinner
family. They came originally from Wisconsin. They employed
her as the director of the YMCA on the campus. She was a
vivacious kind of a person, and they gave her an apartment in
one end of Buckman Hall. By that time I was out of Buckman
Hall, but I knew Miss Skinner. She had a lot of influence over
my life. We used to say that the dormitories were in charge
of Peeler and Skinner.
P: Who was in charge of the dining room?
L: I can recall a man named Alec Johnson at that time. I
think he was a senior student at the time I was in school.
You could get:more information about that from a man named
Alexander rillis in Gainesville, because he was one of the
men who worked in the Commons at that time. This is a
cousin of mine who graduated from engineering in 1924,
the year I was there.
P: Now, what did you study at the university?
L: My:interest primarily was in going into newspaper work. I'd
worked on the newspaper in Panama City when I was in high
school. I'd written some things in high school and-I'-d
received some encouragement, so I thought I wanted to
be a newspaperman. One dear cook that we had named Nancy
thought I ought to be a preacher. Another Black woman, old
Aunt Mattie Dobbins, thought I ought to be president. Our
family physican, one of two, thought I out to be president
P: We're talking about president of the University of Florida or
president of the United States?
L: I think they meant president of the United States; they didn't
know the university had a president. All I wanted to be was
governor, but through the newpaper line. So I went to the
university, and here is one thing that no one seems to remember
or recall. The second week in school I read in the Alligator
(and I first reported to the Alligator as soon as I could
on campus) that a course in journalism would be offered in
the ag building on Tuesday night and persons interested in
journalism should go over and sign up. Well, I went over
and signed up. Ralph Stoutamire [Editor of Agricultural
News Service and Instructor in Agricultural Journalism],
who's name may be familiar to you, was the teacher; he was
from Tallahassee. He graduated from the university and
had gone to the University of Missouri and taken a course
in journalism. I think Missouri had one of two schools for
journalism in the country at the time. He'd come back to
Florida and was editor of the agricultural publications. He
offered a course in journalism so I went over and signed up
with about ten or twelve other boys. I thought I was doing
all right--it was a night course. I've forgotten how
many hours it met, but it was a three hour course. About
two months after I'd signed up, I had a noteto go see
Dean Anderson was a very strict disciplinarian. He was
dean of students for his college. He was the registrar for
his college and he was the man that you had to be in
favor with in order to stay in school. I went in.to see
Dean Anderson in fear and trembling, and he said, "Young
man, I see you are taking a course Ididn't give you
permission to take." And I said, "What's that, Dean
Anderson?" He said, "You're taking that course in journalism.
Icldidn't approve you for that course." I said, "Well, Dean'
Anderson, I just read about it in the paper and I went over and
signed up." He says, "Well, I'm sorry, I can't give you
credit for it." He was a nice looking man with a walrus
moustache. He taught Latin and Greek, and also was dean
of the college. Well, I went back to see Professor Stoutamire,
and Icalled him at that time, and he said, "Well, you come
on next week and I'll see what we can do." So I went on
next week and he said, "You stay in this class, and then
register for the second half in February, and then register
for the first half next September." Then he says, "I'll
turn in your grades for the first half next year." I
suppose that under the rules and regulations of Dean Anderson
which were said by boys on the campus, which as in the case
of the laws and regulations of;ithe ancient Persians, they
varied not, neither did they change. Anyway, we violated
that rule, Professor Stoutamire did, and I got credit for
the course. That was the first course in journalism taught
at the University of Florida, and I think he taught everything
that should be taught in the course of journalism.
P: You were in a fraternity?
L: Not for a year and a half. I joined a fraternity in January
or February of 1925.
P: What fraternity?
L: Kappa Sigma fraternity.
P: What brought you into that?
L: Bill Carleton. I met Bill in the spring of 1924. Bill
had come down, I think, the second semester. At that time
I was boarding in a house off campus, down Roux Street, and
Bill came there and Imet him. Bill, of course, has had
a lot of influence on my life. For many years I used him
as a kind of an idol--he's an extremely gifted person.
He's one of the few geniuses I have known in my life,
and he is a genius.
P: He's had an influence on my life too, as you know.
L: It that right? Yes, yes. So we're both influenced a great deal
by the same man. I have a very strong affection for him.
But anyway, Bill became interested in me in the second year.
Back in those days, in order to get into a fraternity, you
had to have a pedigree. But that time all the other boys
from Bay County were out of school except one, and he belonged
to a little local fraternity which later became Sigma Chi.
I suppose, he would have tried to get me into his fraternity
if he was more than a freshman, although he was a year ahead
of me, but he didn't pledge right away. But, my high
school principal was a Theta Chi and he told me that Theta
Chi was the greatest fraternity there ever was and that he
would get me into Theta Chi. Well, I never got a bid from
Theta Chi and I didn't encourage any other fraternity. One
local fraternity, which is now a very good fraternity, which
has had fewer disruptions and most steady history than
Kappa Sigma on the campus, did encourage me to visit the
house and to be with the brothers, but I didn't go. But Idid
join the Kappa Sigma fraternity and they initiated me one week
after I put on the pledge pin.
P: Where was the fraternity located then?
L: Right where it is now.
P: On what then was 9th Street, now 13th Street, near University
P: What kind of a house was it, as you remember?
L: It was a relatively new house. It was built only the year
before, and it is the front of the present house. It's still
there, the frame work, the front. The present house had been
enlarged on both sides and back behind too.
P: You slept and ate there?
L: No, they didn't have a kitchen. I ate most of my meals at
what was called Ma Strickland's, which was across the
campus from Anderson Hall.
P: On the corner.
L: On the corner, yes.
P: You said you lived on Roux Street, can you identify that
today? Do you know the name of that street today?
L: No, Idon't, but it went off from a long about Anderson Hall
north for about a block or two. I lived in another place
called "Guy's Roost," which was located up there right next
to where the old KA house was; in that area. Iwas there
for a couple of months and then Imoved with some boys from
my home county to this building on Roux Street. I believe
one of the buildings was owned by Dr. Bristol. He owned
a number of buildings that he rented out to students.
P: This is Dr. Lucius Bristol who is in sociology.
L: Yes, that's right.
P: Now, how did you get mail on campus in those early years?
L: The post office was in the little building right across
from Thomas Hall, which was known as the College Inn for
many, many years. Some of the more recent students have
referred to it as the Black Cat, but I don't think it was
ever called the Black Cat. The Black Cat was further up
at the corner of what is now University Avenue and 13th
Avenue. The College Inn was across from Thomas Hall and
the post office was there. It was a branch and you called for
P: There was no mail delivery on- campus.
P: What about classes? There were Saturday classes in those
P: What was the first early morning class? Eight o'clock?
L: Yes, as I remember, though three mornings a week we drilled
P: And you had compulsory chapel also then, didn't you?
L: Yes we did.
P: Where were the chapel services held before the auditorium
L: You know, that's a blank in my memory, but I think it was
in Peabody Hall. I'm not positive.
P: There is an auditorium up on the second floor.
L: Yes, that may have been where it was.
P: What about the library?
L: The library was where it is now. No itwasn't, it was in
P: Peabody Hall, because the other one was not quite ready yet.
L: Yes, that's right. The library was in Peabody Hall, and we
met and held chapel in the old gymnasium.
P: Which is not the women's gym.
L: Is it?
P: That two-story building, yes, which still stands.
P: That would have been constructed before you arrived on the
L: Yes, before I arrived.
P: It would have been a new building.
L: It would have been a relatively new building.
P: One of the people that I wanted to ask you about, Angus, was
William Jennings Bryan coming to the university. Did he
pay any visits there while you were a student?
L: Yes. I attended the lectures and I remember some things that
P: Were they in this auditorium also?
L: Yes. I believe the lectures were in the University Auditorium;
it was completed. He was there right shortly after it was
opened up, and he gave the lectures in that auditorium.
William Jennings Bryan was there and lectured there and shortly
after he was on the campus, he announced from Coral Gables, I
guess it was, that he was going to nominate Dr. Murphree at the
Democratic Convention in 1928. I've forgotten now who called
me in on it, it may have been old Dean [Bert Clair] Riley
[Director, General Extension Division] who was a kind of an
active person on the campus, and asked me to help arrange a
special edition of the Alligator. Well, my term had ended
as editor of the Alligator, but I did help to get out the
special edition in which it was announced that Dr. Murphree
would be nominated as President. I saw Dr. Murphree a few
times during the preparation of the article, and I had seen
him a few times before. I was a kind of a rebel in many
respects. I didn't lead the revolt against the athletic director,
but the people who led it. ran out on us and there wasn't anybody
else to take the student body petition to Dr. Murphree. The
president of the student body reversed his stand and gave a
report to the press, Gainesville Sun, that the student body
had gone off half-crocked. He didn't say he had anything
to do:with it, but he helped to draw up seventeen charges
against James L. White, the athletic director.
P: Angus, that's an area that we do not have very much
information on, and if you remember, I wish you'd go
back and tell me about this revolt against Mr. White.
L: That's an interesting period of university history andI found
out something about it later on that might be interesting.
I:believe it was Frank Wright or Red Newton, both of whom you
know, who invited me to a meeting in an old house out east
of the campus. We met out there one Sunday night and had
lanterns and candles. There were about fifteen or twenty. I
was editor of the paper. And I didn't know much about the
director of the athletic department, James L. White. Iwas
not much of an athlete; I didn't go out for any games or any-
thing like that. They met thereand they had some people who
knew what was going on in the department, so they said, and they
brought seventeen charges against him. Frank Wright, I'm sure,
had something to do with writing of the charges. He was a
sports writer for the Florida Times-Union at that time.
Red Newton was, I guess, for the Tampa Tribune. I had been
the year before, the Associated Press representative of the
campus--that was my sophomore year. So Iwent and we
gathered there and! believe then we had a recess and long
after midnight we met again, and we all approved the petition.
Then it was to be printed and signed, then we were to meet
again and the understanding was that Jerry McGill, the
president of the student body, was to submit the petition
to the president.
P: What was the opposition to Mr. White?
L: I can remember one specific thing--that he would schedule
games with teams and then forget about them. A name would
be put down on the schedule and one college team came
to Gainesville one time and nobody knew anything about it.
They were already turned out in their uniforms and went over
to the athletic department and there was nobody to play with.
P: Now, Van Fleet was the coach at the time, was he not?
L: Van Fleet was the football coach and commandant of the
ROTC. But I'think Van Fleet had left the university at that
time, I'm almost certain that he had.
P: And White had moved in too?
L: Yes. Well, White had been the athletic director before
when Van Fleet was there I guess, but he had very little to
do with football. I think Van Fleet, well, I think he's
a very capable man, probably had something to do with football.
James L. White, Jimmy White we called him, was the son of a
very prominent Baptist minister who'd been president of the
Baptists of Florida. And while I have such a kind memory of
Dr. Murphree that I hate to say this, I suspect that Jimmy
White was given the job just because he was the son of the
Baptist minister. And I understand he went to a ministry
after he left the universty, I'm not sure.
P: Did this revolt force him out? Was it a successful revolt?
L: Yes, but not immediately. So, when Jerry McGill didn't show
up, and nobody else would agree, they elected me to present the
petition to Dr. Murphree.
P: Who had signed the petition--the people at the meeting?
L: No, we had petitions all over the campus, and by this time
I was a Kappa Sigma and we met at the Kappa Sigma house with
petitions. Somebody had arranged for me, I guess Jerry
McGill had done that. Well, I believe he was at Kappa
Sigma meeting and said he could not, as the president of the
student body, officially present the certificate, I would
have to do it, or somebody else. So they elected me to hand
the certificate to Dr. Murphree. Well, Dr. Murphree had had
a meeting that morning with his advisors and they had a student
there who was a spy for us in Dr. Murphree's office. I don't
know if he's still living. He's a good friend of mine,
a very prominent graduate of the university; an attorney in
Jacksonville. I won't mention his name. But he reported
to us that they had decided thatthey would receive the
petition and agree to investigate, and then would announce
during the summer that they found no basis for the charges.
P: Angus, if you don't report his name how am I going to interview
him? How am I going to find out who he is?
L: I would rather not tell you his name until I see him and talk
P: All right, that's fair.
L: Anyway, he told us what they had decided at the meeting.
So we decided we would present it as a demand. We
wouldn't discuss it. We wouldn't discuss the charges
we'd present it as a demandl. So I went in to see Dr.
Murphree. You didn't know him, but Dr. Murphree was a
person with a kind of an almost majestic appearance. Good
looking man, good straight open face, and I sort of hated
to do it, but they asked me to do it, sol-went over there and
I told him that we demanded his [Mr. White's] resignation.
There was some of the deans around and White was there and
Dr. Murphree said, "I wouldn't exceed to that demand if
6,000 students signed this, the petition." I said, "All right,
sir, thank you." I didn't hand him the petition, I turned
around. I got outside of what is now AndersonsHall and
Frank Wright and Red Newton were hanging on to the windows
up there to try to hear and see what was going on inside.
So they ran up and said, "Angus, you've got to submit the
petition--you have to hand it to him." I didn't know the
reason for their urgency at that time but I found out
later. They had already filed stories about the petition
being submitted to the president. SoI walked back in and
I says, "Here is the certificate, here are the petitions,"
and turned around and left.
Frank Wright had tried to send the story from Western Union
in Gainesville, but Western Union had already been tipped
off. The Gainesville Sun wouldn't take the story. Frank rep-
resented the Times-Union at that time, and maybe the Associated
Press. He succeeded me as Associated Press representative.
He had already been to Waldo and filed a story. He might
not have had to go to Waldo, but he did. We were conspirators,
you see, rebels, so he'd gone to Waldo and he'd filed a story
and had already described the scene of the petition being
submitted tothe president. So, I had to go back in and
give the petition to the president. Then we went across the
street to the house on the corner, which at that time was
the Delta Tau Delta house, and were meeting over there when
Dr. Murphree called me. He found out where we were.
He said, "I understand that you had planned to give this story
to the press." I said, "Well, Dr. Murphree, I'm not planning
to do that, but I'm sure there must be others who are planning
to do that." He said, "Well, if you love your university,
you won't do it." I said, "Well, Dr. Murphree, I think one
reason why we behaved as we did is that we learned that
this morning you decided you'd take the petition and then
dismiss it in the summertime when we were all gone
and said there was nothing to it." He didn't say a word.
He knew that somebody had leaked the news to us and we
knew what had happened.
About a month later I was standing in front of the Kappa
Sigma house and Jimmy White went by University Avenue. He
saw me, went down the street, turned around and came in,
and said, "We're going to have a hearing of the Board
of Control next weekend, and I want you to be present with
your charges." I said, "Mr. White, we've already decided
to let the administration to handle it-the thing that's
come up--and the Board of Control is going to consider it.
I am not involved in this any longer, so I won't be there."
Well, he went on. He resigned after the meeting of the
Board Control. Dr. Murphree asked Everett Yon tAssistant
Professor of Military Science and Tactics], who was one of
the ROTC men here on campus, to become the athletic director.
I knew Everett and I liked him.
His sister, who worked for the athletic department for years
later on, I've forgotten her first name right now, told me
one time that when her brother went to the athletic director's
office, he found things in such a mess with the financial records
all messed up that he locked up the door and went over to
Language Hall and said, "Dr. Murphree, I'm not going back
into that office until you go with me. I just won't attempt
to do anything until you go with me." He says, "Well, we're
having commencement now, and I don't have time to do anything
about it, but right after commencement we'll go over and
we'll go over the records." They did and they took a bookkeeper
or somebody, and they found, not necessarily a shortage, they
don't know what it was, but unaccounted for funds in the
amount of $17,000. Well now, this was a lot of money
in 1927, and it was never reported. Years later, I got the
auditor's report from the University of Florida here in
Tallahassee. I knew the auditor, a man named Ballow, who didn't
know much about accounting, he was a bookkeeper. It was
a political job! at the time, and the audit for that year
told about what a wonderful institution it was and how
well it kept their records. But what is the girl's name,
L: Adelaide said that when they found out and finished out,
Dr. Murphree says, "How could I have been blind for so
P: So the student protest, then, was legitimate and justified.
L: Yes, and justified. But now I,. personally, had no
relationship with the sports program. They merely pushed
me into the job of presenting the petition.
P: You were talking about'the Alligator, and E'd like to know
something about that. Where were the Alligator offices, for
L: In the basement of the old Language Hall, now Anderson Hall.
Down at the east end, right at the end. There, and
downtown in the offices of the Pepper Printing Company. We
had a little room about half the size of this room with some
typewriters. I got involved in the Alligator the first year
and Ispent a lot of my time in the Alligator office instead of
the library. The second year, my sophomore year, I spend a great
deal of time putting the paper together, proofreading, taking
the stories to be typed up by the linotypers, and rewriting
stories that were turned in. The experience was very valuable
to me, but Ithink I could have used the time much better in
the library, but I didn't know it at that time.
P: What positions did you hold on the Alligator?
L: In 1923 I was merely a reporter. I'm not sure that they gave
me any staff position in 1924-25, but I was rather busy with
the Alligator and I remember taking all the stories down
to the Gainesville Sun office and waiting until the paper
was run off. Reading proof down there in the office, in 1924.
The officers of the Alligator were elected at that time. The
editor-in-chief was elected, and then he appointed a managing
editor, and the managing editor would appoint the other people.
The editor-in-chief was Gerald Bea, who's in the law school, and
I don't ever remember seeing him in the Alligator office.
Then therewas a fraternity brother of Gerald who was the
managing editor. He just let me run the paper, which was
perhaps his mistake, because I was on the Alligator staff
and some people must have thought I was doing more than I
was, but anyway, I think that helped me get into the
Kappa Sigma fraternity, because the Kappa Sigma fraternity
and the Pike fraternity controlled the publications. I
didn't know how they controlled them at the time, but they
did, and the student body too, pretty much.
Well, they put me up to run for editor-in-chief. I felt
a little bad about it, except for the fact that the managing
editor and editor-in-chief were never in the office. There
was one man named Wallace Shafer who occasionally came to
the office and-helped out, but Iworked hard on the Alligator.
On election day, I was going down to vote, in the old
gymnasium for this vote, and Beverly Mann came out. He
was a fraternity brother, he was tkken in about my time.
Beverly wrote well. He was running for editor of the
Seminole, so the Kappa Sigs had two candidates for the
two publications. And he came out and just stood about fifteen-
twenty feet before'the door. He said, "Angus, I've already
voted for you three times and I'll vote for you again before
they even close the pools." Well, I was kind of bewildered.
I kind of shook my head and I went on and voted. And that
worried me. Now remember that Iwas kind of a saint, and I
could do no wrong. Ithink you're the first person I've
ever said anything about this. It's one of the things I
was going to mention in my story of life on the campus
at the University of Florida. So that night, I didn't
even go over to find out the results. Wallace Shafer and Bill
Usher were running for editor-in-chief. Bull Usher had been
managing editor, but he practically turned it over to me to
run. I was wondering what I ought to do about it. Then I
was told that I won and I got about 60% of the votes.
I thought about resigning, and back in those days I prayed
every night. I didn't get down on my knees, but I prayed
myself to sleep. Just prayed. My mother taught me to pray
and Ikept that up all through high school and through
college; I prayed every night and I prayed myself to sleep.
I promised the Lord that I was going to change the political
system of the campus on the University of Florida. And I
changed it all that summer. I was in ROTC camp and I thought
about what I would do. The next year, my junior year, as
editor of the Alligator, I came out in support of a program
that the other side--this side was the Beefsteak Club and
the other side didn't name themselves that but the Beefsteak
members labeled them the Hamburgers, with Olin Watts as one
of the leaders. Olin had not been conspicuous on the
campus except that he was lookedupon with a great deal of respect
and admiration. He was just that kind of person that you
know him. He just looks that way; Idon't know anything about
his record as a lawyer, especially. Anyway, he called for
the defeat of the Beefsteak Club and criticized the way
they controlled campus elections. Well, I knew one thing
that Olin didn't know, and I never told anybody about this.
Well, I felt that I had to keep a secret. Somebody told
me something in confidence, I kept it. That's one thing that
I still try to live by today is to keep a confidence when
somebody tells me something in confidence. So I didn't
say anything about it in editorials, but I supported open
elections. Let the groups come out and hold open conventions.
And I always reported their meetings in the Alligator, so that
there was a story if I heard about it. I remember quoting
Olin Watts once in the paper, something I had heard that he had
said. Well, the Beefsteak Club still met in secret downtown,
at about midnight, and they had representatives of various
fraternities there. The Pikes and the Democrats were
I wasn't personally at odds, but I had been a witness before
the Honor Court against aPike sophomore who was cheating
and he was found guilty of cheating and dismissed. It was
quite an ordeal for me and my fraternity even turned against
me. I didn't report it, I remember being called as a witness
and I told them what I saw. I saw him cheating. The president
of my fraternity, a boy named Busbee, sat by me and he went
before the Honor Court and said that the two boys were not
even sitting together. So, my brother was blackballed in
the fraternity and they gave me a bad time for being a witness
against this boy, and I said they were sitting together, and
I saw him. So they were like that over here and I was here
on the front seat. So, I went over to the Pike house to tell
them over there "I'm sorry, I didn't report him, but I was
called as a witness, and I'm going to tell them what I saw
and they were cheating." Preston Bishop and some other big
shots over there, they didn't say anything, and I walked out
Not long after that, I had been elected to the editor-in-
chief of the Alligator at that time-that made me a
member of Blue Key. And I remember the first banquet of
Blue Key. That statement they eventually sent out
about the fiftieth anniversary was not correct, and I
was thinking about answering that and writing a story
about the first banquet of Blue Key. I have it right here
someplace, the Blue Key notice. I have the Who's Who of
Blue Key, got that out, and they have inaccurate information
there about it. I was thinking about writing them when you
called me Saturday, so it's quite a coincidence.
P: I want to get into this Blue Key in just a minute with you.
L: All right, but I'll go back. But I had alienated them and
I learned some things at the first banquet of Blue
Key. Lawrence Case and Preston Bishop were there and I
told them that I was sorry, but I had to do it; that I
was called as a witness and I was going to tell them what I
saw. And Lawrence Case, an attorney in Jacksonville, later
on an attorney for a cigar company I believe, said, "Yes, we
know the boy's guilty but we're trying to get him out
of it. Then a few days later, Dr. Murphree called me over
and he'd gone over to the third level and Dr. Murphree was
the court of last resort. He asked me about it and I said,
"I told the truth." He said, "Your fraternity brother, the
president of your fraternity, says those boys were not even
sitting together." I says, "Dr. Murphree, I wouldn't lie to
you." And he said, "I know you're not lying, Angus." That
sort of won over to Dr. Murphree. I went back to the fraternity
house and Isaw this fraternity brother:right away. I said, "You
told Dr. Murphree I was lying about that case." He said, "Oh
no, Ildidn't mean to say that; I was just trying to help the
boy." I said, "But you told him I lied. Dr. Murphree said
to me that you told him that I had lied about the two boys."
He said, "Oh no, I was just trying to help the boys. I'll
go see Dr. Murphree." I said, "Don't mind, Dr. Murphree knows
you were lying."
Anyway, I had alienated them. This was the year after it, so
in the spring of the year, when theBeefsteak Club had a
meeting, it was done so quickly I didn't evenknow what had
happened. And nobody nominated me for being chairman; I was
chairman of the Beefsteak Club at the beginning of the
year. Nobody nominated me, said anything about it.
They elected somebody else and it was over with. I was
out. Then I found out that my fraternity had sent
somebody else in my place to represent the fraternity. I
was just completely out.
P: You had turned everybody off as a result of what you had
L: I turned everybody off. During the year, I remember a meeting
Preston Bishop of Pike fraternity, two years ahead of me,
told me that when he was a freshman, he marked the student
ballots all night. Theinext day, election day, it was
arranged for the ballots that were cast by the student body
to be taken out, and the ones that he helped to mark that night
be put in the box in the place of it. So he said we knew the
exact number of votes each candidate would get. And set it up
like that. By that time I was about ready to revolt, as you
could see, and especially when they voted me out of the
Beefsteak Club like that. That's how I got involved with
the other group. They invited me to join them, and invited
me to be chairman, and I refused that job and took the
vice-chairmanship and Bob Parker, here in Tallahassee, and
lawyer, was the chairman. So we put together. a ticket and
we voted them out of office. Every man we had, except one or
two in minor jobs, except one or two officers, were filled
by our candidates. It was a great victory in my senior
year. But prior to this time, when the question came out
about what the fraternity was supposed to do, and I had
come outagainst block voting. Back in those days on both sides,
and I::think in all the fraternities, the freshmen were
required to vote the ticket, and were told just to vote the
P: I suspect:that's still true.
L: I wouldn't be surprised. I know that year later, a boy I
admired very much, Sam Gibbon's brother, an attorney in
Tampa, had the same problem with the ATO's. He rebelled
because they told him he had to vote a straight:ticket.
This was years later. I was teaching down there, he was a student.
P: The student politics were pretty hectic back in the
1920s, weren't they?
L: Yes, they were. Well, when my fraternity met to decide what to
do about it, I pleaded wilththem not to take any stand at all;
let everybody vote as they pleased. I sa "I'm not
asking you to vote for our ticket. I'm asking you not to in-
struct anybody as to how they should vote." When the chapter
voted, I lost by two or three votes. I walked out of the
fraternity house, went back to my room, and resigned from
the fraternity. The national fraternity wouldn't accept
the resignation. I went to see the district grandmaster to
tell him why I resigned and I told him thatI meant it and I
wanted him to accept my resignation. They never did accept
The last week of school there were about four or five students
who were expelled from the university. One was E. Beverly
Mann, who would have made Phi BetaKappa, because his average
was a little higher than mine, and I was Phi Kappa Phi, but
my average was long about ninety and nobody ever proposed me
for Phi Beta Kappa after the chapter came there. You see,
that came in afterwards. Well, during the course of the
debate, and before the election, Beverly caught me in the fraternity
house one day. He backed me up in a corner and took his knife
out and stuck the knife in my stomach and said, "I hear you're
accusing me of stealing money from the student body." I said
"Beverly, that's beyond me now. I don't know whether you stole
the money from the Seminole or not." He was editor-in-chief
of the Seminole. But even in the chapter everybody was laughing
about him; everybody had been curious about the money. He
bought a brand new sportscar. I said, "That's out of my hands
right now." Henson Markham had been elected president of the
student body, and I got reports from him regularly. Dr. Murphree
of course, became interested, and he ordered an investigation.
As a result, there were about five men who were expelled from
the university, Beverly being one of them, the last week of
school. He had finished all his courses and had a high average, but
was expelled. There was one boy who was a pledge of the
fraternity. Another boy was a sophomore in the fraternity and
had already been taken in. They were first expelled by the
university, then the chapter and the national fraternity expelled
those two boys. Then there were several boys of other fraternities
who were expelled. Then they checked the books of the publication.
A couple of sidelights from that, if you want me to tell you
about it, is rather interesting.
L: Recent developments. During the war years when I was at the
university, Beverly wrote a letter to President Tigert and
asked if they wouldn't give him his diploma. I didn't
see the letter, Bill Carleton told me about it. In it
he said that Dr. Murphree was unfair to him and that what he had
done was no more than what is done in business every day.
And Dr. Tigert was inclined to give him his degree until he got
to Klein Graham. And Graham, so I hear, just exploded. He
revered the memory of Dr. Murphree and hewas involved in all
this and he knew what had taken place. So they didn't give him
I knew a boy named Percy Revels on the campus, and he was a
member of the Beefsteak Club. We had run our campaign on
the basis of one of the platforms that we would not have
any cheating or stealing on student body publications. We
had the F Book, the Seminole and the Alligator. That was a
point in our platform. One day Percy Revels met me on the campus
and asked me to go see Dr. Murphree on his behalf. I thought
to myself, "Well, you were here on campus and you knew what
a battle we had over this matter. Now you're asking me to
go ask Dr. Murphree to spare you." Ididn't say that to him,
but that's what I thought. I says, "Well, Percy,I didn't
know anything about your work with the Seminole," he was
supposed to be the treasurer of the Seminole. Bev was editor-
in-chief. Then,,later on, well, I knew that he didn't come
back to school. I didn't know why, because the names of boys
expelled were never published; the boys who were expelled from
the university. I knew there were several. One was named
Kenneth Pratt, from upstate New York somewhere. But I began to
see in the paper that he was circuit judge over in the Palatka
P: This is Mann? Or Revels?
L: No, Revels. So, Beverly had asked for his degree back and I had
felt in recent years that maybe the university ought to give him
his degree. I don't know whether he'd want to accept it this
late or not.
P: Where is Mann now?
L: He's in Sarasota and he was in the national press recently
because he was the one that brought out the fact that some-
thing in reference to legislation and Congress concerning
the use of firearms.
P: I see.
L: He is associated with the Riflemen's Association. He was
quite a marksman with ROTC on campus. Now he writes, and he
writes well, for a::sports magazine, Field and Stream. He's
a good writer. He's written a number of books, by the way,
westerns, I hear. Fourty, fourty-five years ago he wrote
some scripts for the movies, and I remember seeing a short
in Denver with his name attached to it. He adopted the
name Eban--E. Beverly Mann.was his name, so he used the
pen name of Eban, and he wrote some things under that name.
He wrote a number of books and lived out in Arizona and
New Mexico. He's in Florida and if you want to find out
more about him, he's in Who's Who. He's the only member
of my class thatI know of in the big Who's Who.
P: Angus, one of the things I want to ask ...
L: I want to tell you about Percy.
P: Go ahead.
L: I was asked by a member of the Florida Supreme Court to ride
down to the annual Shad dinner of the judicial circuit
down in Putnam County last year. I went down and there
was Percy, a judge. So Iasked Percy to sit with me. I said,
"Percy, I'm awfully glad to see you. I want to recommend that
you get your degree; that the University of Florida consider
granting you a degree." He said, "Angus, I didn't have enough
work there." He said, "I have no reason to ask for that."
I said, "You asked me to see Dr. Murphree and I wouldn't see
him." Well, he didn't do that but I told him something
about it and I wrote him a letter later on about that. Well,
he told me that night. He said, "I wrote all those checks for
Beverly. Beverly would come and submit bills and I'd just
write the checks." He says, "I knew about it. Dr. Murphree
may have thought I was stupid, but he didn't think I was dishonest.
I just couldn't go back to school next year." He said, "Congressman
Sears got me a job in Washington at about twelve cents an hour and
I went to law school in Washington and that's how I got my
law degree." Then, I had a long letter from Percy not very
long ago and he said the University of Florida doesn't
owe him anything. He said, "I wasn't expelled from the university;
you're mistaken about that. Dr. Murphree may have thought I
was stupid, but he didn't think I was dishonest."
So, I've dropped the idea of proposing Beverly for his
degree. I think Archie Robertson promoted it a little bit.
Manning checked into it after I was down there, I don't
know what he's done about it. Beverly was in the national
presshis name was, recently in reference to some legislation
in Congress and it reflected about Kennedy in some way.
P: Angus, I want to ask you about something else. I know that
this was the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan in Florida, throughout
the South, in fact, in the nation in the 1920s, and that the
Klan was a very powerful force in American politics. I had been
told that there was a Klan organization on the campus in the 1920s.
Were you aware of this?
L: Yes, and this boy who was president of my fraternity chapter
and who had testified to the Honor Court that I was lying about
the cheating, was the president of the campus Klan. Ididn't
know it at the time, I was told later on. His name was Edgar
Buzbee. There were two Buzbee's on campus, brothers, and it
was easy to confuse them. One was named Egbert, I didn't know
him on the campus, I knew him later; and the other was named
Edgar Buzbee. Iwas told that he was head of the campus organization.
P: You know anything about it?
L: No. I can tell you more about the Communist party group on
P: Well, tell me about that.
L: Well, that came much later.
P: That was in the 1930s.
P: Let's hold that so we can get to it chronologically. Now I'd
like to ask you about Blue Key. You were a member of Blue Key
and this was its formative period on the campus.
L: Yes, I was taken into Blue Key by virtue of the fact I
was editor-in-chief of the Alligator. I'd just been elected.
P: When were you taken into Blue Key?
L: It must have been April, 1925. I believe the date would be
given there, but my name is not listed in the present records
for being taken in. I did. attend the first meeting. It was
held at the Primrose Grill, which had been across the street
from where it is right now. A lot of student body leaders
were there. I was a member of them all, knew all their names.
P: This was your installation.
L: Installation, 1925.
P: I see.
L: They didn't have much installation. I was just there and
you're in because you're the editor-in-chief. This was
before any constitution or by-laws. They had a report of a
committee there that student leaders became members by virtue
of their position.
P: I see.
L: And I was there by virture of position. They changed it the
next year and left that out, according to Lewisb Hall, who
was my managing editor on the Alligator. I checked with Lewis
not very long ago and I found out that I was taken into
Blue Key several years later, according to that report right
there. Then it was unknown how I got in. So I called Lewis
Hall and I said,. "Am I wrong, are you in Blue Key?" He said,
"No, you were taken in a year before me." He said, "You were
taken in because you were editor of the Alligator but then
the next year, they were nominated and balloted by the chapter."
He said, "I was blackballed and some of my friends blackballed
everybody else. They were always being blackballed. So they
couldn't elect anybody until they argeed to elect all of those
who had been the blackballed." He said, "That's the way I got
in Blue Key."
P: Who was running it from the faculty's point of view then?
L: B. C. [Bert] Riley. He is the only man that I knew of being
active in Blue Key. He was considered the father of Blue
Key. There was something called a "Dad's Day" before that,
and they'd had an organization of students to promote Homecoming
and Dad's Day. It was not called Homecoming, it was called
Dad's Day in 1923, and I can remember a great big key with orange
and blue ribbons being delivered to a representative of the
fathers on the football field in 1923. I'm not sure
whether that was 1923 or 1924 but in the spring
of 1925 I attended this meeting at the
Primose Grill, which was said to be the first dinner
meeting, the first meal. The students had met, the older
students, and there was a report of a committee starting
that some students who'd be ipso factomembers of Blue Key
because of their position in student body government. And
that's how I got it.
P: So you're saying that the first installation banquet met in the
spring of 1925 in the Primrose Grill.
P: That was not the first Homecoming Banquet but the first sit-
down meal for the Blue Key to participate in.
L: That's right, and a little while after that, about the same
time, they had the Rotary Club established in Gainesville.
Dean Riley became a member of the Rotary Club. It was being
established throughout ithe United States and other countries,
and someone coined the term "Blue Key--the college man's
Rotary Club." In the holiday period of 1925-26, I went to
a student body conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On the
train there was a boy named Thomas from Sewanee, Tennessee,
University of the the South, which was much better known
and had more prestige that it had today, although it's still
quite an institution. I wore my blue key very proudly on my
vest. We all wore vests in those days and our watches were
in our vest pockets. All of our keys we wore on the chain
between the two pockets. This boy saw my blue key and I told'
him what it was--a college man's Rotary Club. Well, he was
interested. I gave him B. C. Riley's name, and I think that
was the first chapter away from Florida in the Blue Key fraternity.
P: What brought about the rebellion within Blue Key which caused
Florida to become isolated from the national organization?
L: I wanted to get up to that. The student body held a fraternity
meeting in Atlanta the following spring 1926, and there were
two boys, one from the University of Alabama, president of the
student body, and the other one who was an officer of his
fraternity in Auburn. They saw my keys and both of them
wrote to Dean Riley, and chapters were established at
Tuscaloosa and Auburn. So Dean Riley gave me the credit for
establishing three-chapters. I presided at a banquet of
Blue Key at the White House Hotel at the time Ernest Mason was
taken into the fraternity, I remember that. He'd been on
campus about seven years, and I introduced him as a "Century
Man," he came from Century, Florida. When I explained that he
was a "Century Man," it's not unusual for attorneys to take
more than four years to finish college. Well, then I went to
Syracuse and Chicago, and was out in Denver when a group on
the campus was considering some kind of an honorary, social
service group. I had a friend in that group who'd been
a graduate student and was an instructor in accounting, and
I told him about Blue Key, I'd wore my key there, and so they
became interested in Blue Key. They organized to get permission
from the university administration to become affiliated with
National Blue Key. My friend's name was Jack Lawsen, Dean of
students and also a professor of political science, who taught
in the same department. I was not officially a member of the
department, but I taught political science courses.
P: Lawsen was dean of students?
L: He Was Dean of student affairs, a professor and, later, chairman of the
political science department. I think this perhaps may have kept me from
getting a regular appointment as a member of the political
science department. I had promoted Blue Key.
P: Let me go back just one second. Lawsen, you say, was chairman
of political science?
L: Yes, at the University of Denver, and also dean of students.
P: I just wanted to be sure I got that.
L: He was an outspoken person, but a good person. We
never did disagree very much, except that he was Republican
and I was Democrat. He called a meeting on Blue Key. I wasn't
there, but one of my friends on the faculty was there, the
advisor for the School of Commerce. Well, that's where I was
teaching most of the time and also taught out on the campus.
He said Jack Lawsen called Blue Key a G.D. racket, except he
didn't use G.D., he spelled the words out. That would be just
like Jack Lawsen. Well, that flabbergasted me. So I wrote
to Dean Riley right away, and sent perhaps my first airmail
letter in history. We didn't use airmail very much in those
days, I asked him for a financial report of Blue Key. Prior
to that, just prior, he had asked me to be a member of National
Council of Blue Key. My name was there along with Joe Roeamer
from Peabody and other names over the country. That had gone
out to Blue Key members, and this National Council of Blue
Key had been established. I didn't know what was back of it.
I had accepted the appointment and was very proud of it, and
I was promoting a chapter and here it was being called a
racket. I wrote to Dean Riley; I didn't get a reply. I
sent a registered letter and didn't get a reply. I sent
a telegram; I didn't get a reply. I wrote to Ed Price; Ididn't
get a reply. So Iwent back to Professor Onstandt and I said,
"Professor Onstandt, Jack Lawsen must be right. I can't
get any information at all about the finances of Blue Key. I've
been trying." I told him what I had done--showed him copies
of my letters and telegrams. So I dropped it. This was in
1935, I think it was.
In 1936, I came back to Florida to visit my parents, but I went
to Gainesville specifically to find out why Ed Price even
wouldn't answer my letters. I saw Ed and I asked him if I
could stay with him and he agreed. He said, "Well, we saw
your name on the list of DeanRiley's council, and we
considered you a protege of Dean Riley." Well, in a way
I was a protege, I guess. At that particular time I was
trying to get information, the local chapter was rebelling
and they were investigating Dean Riley himself. You look
at things through the years a whole lot more charitably then
you do right at the time, and I still don't forgive Dean
Riley completely.. But his defense to Tigert, who was then president,
was that he had taken the money and had reported to all the
chapters, I think we had about twenty-five chapters of Blue
Key, that the money had been invested in a bulb farm in Florida
real estate. He had a place over in Waldo where he was growing
bulbs, I remember seeing it some years later, and he invested
a lot of money in it. It went under, and in bankruptcy he lost
money. He never did explain to Blue Key that the thing had just
folded up. I don't know much more than that except that that
was the episode in Blue Key that I was involved in.
P: And the Florida chapter then became Florida Blue Key.
L: Florida chapter, and they emphasize it very strongly Florida
Blue Key and we're not associated with any other organization
of similar name.
P: Even though Blue Key was organized on the campus.
L: I think National Blue Key had folded up, I'm not sure.
P: I don't know.
L: Many campuses--the group in Denver became ODK.
P: But you remained an active member of Blue Key during the
time that you were on the campus.
P: And you participated in its various activities.
P: What did you say was wrong with the historical account
of the banquet?
L: Well, it's the 50th anniversary banquet. Now if they'd said
Homecoming banquet, it would have been quite different.
P: I see. I understand.
L: But see, but they had banquets before that and it was known
as the college man Rotary Club because of these monthly
meetings--we met monthly, always for supper. And
then we had banquets.
P: Did you always meet for supper at the Primrose?
L: No, we met on the campus.
P: I see. Let me ask you about Fuller Warren. He was a compatriot
of yours on the campus.
P: Tell me a little bit about him as a student.
L: The first time I ever saw Fuller Warren was at the meeting of
freshmen class in 1923. We held an election in the old gym.
Fuller Warren's name was up;for president of the freshmen class.
Robert Parker of Tallahassee nominated him. A boy named
Jimmy French, whom my wife knew from Tampa, was nominated
and the big fraternities got behind Jimmy French. I
think he was a Sigma Nu and Sigma Nu, which had been a local
and became national about that;:time, aligned themselves with
the more respectable fraternities like ATO and KA. But at
that time they put up Jimmy French and the Beefsteak fraternities
were supporting him. Theta Chi belonged to the old established
fraternities; ATO, SAE was about like Sigma Nu, and KA. We
had quite a battle. We actually pulled our shirts to pieces
and finally decided that the thing to do was to have the
Fuller Warren advocates on one side and Jimmy French--no, I'm
sorry,I gave you the wrong information. Fuller Warren nominated
Robert Parker of Tallahassee and he enlivened the meeting, because
I can remember that he would reach out with one hand as far
as he could with one statement and pull it back, and with
the other hand he'd reach far out. He'd use big words that
none of us understood and we had a great time. Milton Yates,
as I recall, was president of the student body and he finally
decreed that a count could not be made by voice or by raising
hands and they were not prepared to have paper ballots--no paper
around. So they divided us up on each side of the aisle. A
lot of freshmen didn't know what they were doing there, so they
were pulled and their shirts were torn off of them on each side
between the aisles. Fuller's were on one side and Jimmy French
was on the other side, and the verdict was finally in favor
of Jimmy French. And he stayed one year on the campus. That
was Fuller Warren's introduction to the campus.
P: How long did Fuller stay onthe campus?
L: About three years.
P: He did not graduate from the university?
P: But he was a big man on the campus?
L: Not necessarily. We elected him as president of the sophomore
class, but the following year--he was a laughable kind of a
person and he couldn' t have been elected anything. He lost
his prestige as sophomore president. I liked Fuller very much
and we were close friends, not intimate, but we were close friends.
He never didcome out and support me. Well, he was having
problems in the college--financial and otherwise--even with
his courses. He was having some trouble and he left about his
junior year and went up to Cumberland College, I believe, and
P: And got his degree there.
L: And got his degree.
P: Angus, let me ask you about some of the faculty people, and
I'm particularly interested in your relationships with Dr.
James Miller Leake, [Professor of History and Political Science],
who was my mentor.
L: Yes. Well, I was a member of Dr. Leake's course in Medieval
History, a freshman course, my first year. I became very
fond of Dr. Leake and I owe a lot to him. My greatest professor,
in the freshman year, was an unheralded person, and the university
did him a great injustice and I didn't know about it for forty
years, thirty years maybe. This was the professor who taught English
and his name was Halley. I took Genung's Rhetoric, freshman
English, under him. Have you ever heard of Genung's Rhetoric?
P: Yes, and also Professor Halley.
L: I got more out of his course than any other I ever took in college,
I do believe. But he was sort of a dry lecturer. He sat at a
desk... He had a brown moustache and brown hair. He was also
a medical doctor, I understood. Well, he told us one
time he was a medical doctor. He told us why he didn't practice
medicine and I remember that very much. But I remember his
course. And I studied for his course because I was interested
in becoming a writer and a newspaperman, and this was an
English course. Genung's English was the hardest book I ever
tried to read. I used to go over the lesson three times and
still didn't fully understand it. I'd read every lesson
at least three times. At the end of the year, I could close
my eyes and see any page in Genung's Rhetoric.
P: What was the injustice that the university did to Halley?
L: They didn't ask him to come back next year, I didn't know why.
I wondered why. When I became a member of the faculty, I asked
someone in the English department, it wasn't Jimmy Farr, it
may have been Archie Robertson. He said well, he wasn't a good
teacher and we just considered that we wanted a stronger
person. That was when I was on the faculty.
About twenty years ago I was in Miami one night and was
invited to a dinner at the University of Miami. Across the
table from was an attorney named Garland M. Budd. Garland
and I had started out on the Alligator together and I think
he may have signed up for the journalism course. We were in
Professor Halley's class, and I can remember other people
in the class too. After the class, which ended at noon, we
would walk across the campus to the mess hall. The first time
our themes were handed back, Garland went by Professor Halley's
place and picked it up and Professor Halley asked him to stay.
I went out side and waited a few minutes; he didn't come, so
I went on. Garland sort of dropped out of everything and
I didn't see much of him. He didn't write for the Alligator;
he didn't go to Farr Literary Society--he had started out with
me. He just dropped out. I never had a chance to talk to
him until this night in Miami. We agreed to have lunch the
next day, and all Saturday afternoon we talked.
I said, "Garland, did you like Dr. Halley as a professor?"
He said, "You know, I never would have been a lawyer if that
man had come back to the university the next year." My spirits
went down. I thought he was a great teacher and here was a
man, the first member of the class that I had had a chance to
ask that question several years later, and I asked why he answered
as he did. He replied, "I would never had become a lawyer."
I said, "Why was that?" He sayd, "I would have been a writer. When
Dr. Halley handed my theme back, the first time"--and I thought
Dr. Halley was talking about my theme but he was talking
mostly about Garland's. I had mentioned a humorous incident
in my life in my theme and Garland must have mentioned some
in his, because Garland said, "Dr. Halley said to me, 'Mr. Budd, do
you need any money?"' He said, "I sure do." Garland said
he didn't have any money when he went to college. He had enough
to live off of. He said, "Mr Budd, you can write, and if you
would like to do further writing, I'll help you sell your stories."
Garland said, "I made a thousand dollars my first year, selling
stories with help and guidance from Dr. Halley." So it justified
my confidence in Dr. Halley.
P: What happened to Halley after he left the university, do you know?
L: I don't know. I've often wondered. In the back of my mind,
he was the best teacher I had that freshman year. I enjoyed
Dr. Leake and I learned a lot, but I got more from Dr. Halley
because I worked more. It's partly my own desire to find out
what Genung's Rhetoric was talking about.
P: What about the controversial Jimmy Farr?
L: I took a course in Shakespeare under Dr. Farr my last semester.
I made very good grades and I enjoyed it tremendously. But then
at the end of the year, I didni' take the examination. I
told Dr. Farr, "I just took this course because I wanted to
take a course under you. I'm not interested in the credit,
I do not have to have it." I wanted to leave school early and
go back out to West Florida. The next year I saw Dr. Farr on
campus and he said, "Mr. Laird, if you want to take that exam
I'll give it to you, and you can get credit for the course."
I said, "Dr. Farr, I took that course just because I wanted to
know more about Shakespeare and I wanted to have a course under
you. I don't care for the credit." If I had taken the credit,
I would have had two majors--one in history and one in English.
I enjoyed him as a teacher very much.
P: Were you personally friendly with Farr?
L: No, I couldn't say that. No personal involvement. I knew a
lot about him then, and later on I found out a lot about him.
P: Did you have a personal relationship with any of the faculty
to the point of going to his home or anything like that?
L: No. In the four years I was there, I don't think I was ever
invited to any professor's home. I did go to Dr. Murphree's
home once-but not for social reasons.
P: What about the social activity on the campus while you.were
there as a student? Were you involved in that?
L: Not much, but a little as a fraternity member. The fraternities
controlled all social acitvities to speak of. It worried Dr.
Murphree, I'm sure, because that's why he brought in Miss Skinner
as director of the YMCA. She tried to arrange social affairs
for the non-fraternity students.
P: Tell me about this Miss Skinner. You said she had an impact
on your life.
L: Well, she was the one who asked me to go to the meeting in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I don't know who paid my expenses,
but I got some expense money and we stayed with some friends
of hers. From Milwaukee we sent to Watertown, Wisconsin and
stayed with friends of hers. Alton Morris and I went along.
Alton represented, maybe, the student body and Mike Houser
represented some other organization. She, I think, was instrumental
in the university acquiring Lake Wauberg and invited me out
there a lot. When they would have special people at the
university she would have parties out there, and she always
invited me. She invited me to go down to Dunedin and visit
with her parents one time. Another time, during summer school,
she was dean of students and there was a person from the
University of Minnesota, their only woman faculty--an attractive
woman. And we went to Miami for the Fourth of July weekend.
Years later Isaw this woman's name in the paper in Denver and
I called her up and we had lunch together. She was a speaker
at a meeting in Denver. Miss Skinner had a kind of refinement
influence on the campus. There were a number of students that
she seemed to take a great deal of interest in, including Alton
Morris and others who were not connected with the university
later on, like Mike Houser and Carl Price.
But they had two dance organizations, and well-known fraternity
men were picked. One was called the Serpent Society, and
I was elected as a member when I was taken in the fraternity
shortly after that. In the football game of 1926, they were
supposed to put on some performance during the game. One society
decided to have a takeoff on Lindberg's flight to Paris and
dressed their men up in this kind of colored paper that you
get in suits. And the one that I belonged, it wasn't the
Scarlet Society. .
P: Wasn't it called the Ribbon?
L: Yes, Scarlet Ribbon Society. I didn't know it, had nothing
to do with it; never attended the meeting. They agreed that
they were to just tear up the others. They didn't have a
program, just go out there and strip this paper off of them.
So they did with this, they ran off the field naked. It
was a scandal then, and Dr. Murphree was called upon to take
action. So therefore, he saw my name on the list of members
and I was called in. He called the meeting at his house.
I don't know what happened, but there was some kind of disciplinary
action taken against those who were responsible for breaking
up this Homecoming program with these boys, prominent social
figures on the campus, running off the field without any
P: Angus, were you on the campus when the pulled that fraud of
the petrified man, the mummy that had been found in Warren's
L: Yes. I heard about that but I don't remember the details.
P: You were not there then, or you were just not involved?
L: I'm not positive, I just knew that there were some kind of
P: When did you graduate?
L: First in 1927, and then I was given a graduate assistantship
by Professor [William] Hollingsworth [Assistant Professor
of History and Political Science].. Did,!you ever know him?
L: They started a Bureau of Municipal Affairs. Dean Riley had
something to do with it. He used some of his extension service
funds for it. It was to be a governmental agency and Dr.
Hollingsworth was the professor of political science. In
those days, it was the Department of History and Political Science. .
P: And Leake was chairman of both.
L: So they gave me a graduate assistantship to work in that bureau,
and I set up some files, filing cabinets about like this, and
clipped everything I could find about city government in
Florida. And I was asked to gather some information by some
financial institution in New York about bonded indebtedness
of cities in Florida. This is in '28, '29. We went to Jacksonville
and saw Mayor Alsop.
P: John T. Alsop.
L: John T. Alsop, and he wasn't sympathetic to northern bankers
trying to find out how much bonded indebtedness there was
among the cities in Florida. I would have thought that
there was among the cities in Florida. I would have thought
that there was some kind of clearing house where they'd have that
information, but there wasn't. So I was given that assignment
and I worked on it some, but I got a few rebuffs in cities. They
didn't want to give me the information; he wouldn't give it
to me for Jacksonville.
P: So you worked on that and received a second degree?
L: Yes, a master's degree, this time in political science.
P: When was this?
L: My major was in history as an undergraduate, then I got
it in the summer of '28.
P: And then you stayed on the faculty?
L: No, thenI went to Syracuse as a teaching fellow in the School
of Citizenship of Syracuse University of '28 and '29. The next
year I came back to Gainesville. I decided I didn't want to
go back to Syracuse and didn't apply for a fellowship. There
/ were some personal reasons for that. I came back to Gainesville
looking for a job and Bill Carelton, I believe, told me there
was an opening on the political science department staff for
an instructor. It paid 150 dollars a month, or something
like that, and I applied for it and I was appointed.
P: You applied directly to Leake.
L: Dr. Leake. I wrote him a letter from my home. I went home in
Bay County and wrote him a letter.
P: What were you assigned to teach?
L: I taught medieval history and state government. I always enjoyed
teaching state government more than any other government course
P: Let me jump right ahead here because time is moving away from
us and I want to make sure I get a couple of things down here,
although I'm sure we'll have to continue this interview. You
went off on leave the following year, did you not?
L: Yes, to the University of Chicago.
P: And what was that for?
L: Political science.
P: To do an advance-degree, or were you teaching?
L: Yes, to get an advanced degree.
P: So you stayed in Chicago a year. Did you get your degree
L: No. And that's another story. I was given leave and then
came back and taught in summer school.
P: In '31.
L: Yes. In fall of 1929 I had an experience that led to an
analysis, a psychoanalysis. It liberated me from a number
of things, including this sense of guilt I had about my mother.
I had been ill that summer, but I still went on to school and
nobody could find out what was wrong with me. I thought
I might have tuberculosis, but none of the tests seemed to
indicate that. And then I had a professor at Chicago come
visit the class to talk about political motivation--where
people become interested in certain things and why they have
certain drives. This man became quite well-known; went from
Chicago to Yale. He wrote a book on psychopathology in politics.
Do you know that book--Psychopathology in Politics? I have
it out there.
P: No, I don't.
L: He told about the motivation of people and why they got sick,
and I recognize myself then. Political figures especially.
They just felt that they had divine guidance and it was their
fate to be elected to office and do certain things,-and when
they were defeated, they became ill. That was what was
happening to me. I recognized myself and I had a breakdown in
the fall and winter, and the spring I got over it and sort
of relaxed after that time. I never smoked, I never drank.
As you say, you didn't gamble, and I don't gamble either. I'll
bet you a nickel, that's the limit.
P: All right.
L: People want to bet me, I'll be them. I'll bet them a nickel,
and I have some bets on this coming year's elections. I'll
bet you a nickel Jimmy Carter will be nominated and reelected.
P: Angus, let me jump ahead for one other thing in the few
minutes that we have left.
L: All right, take you time.
P: I want to ask you about the Communist activities on the
campus during the '30s.
L: I would rather take more time than I have now.
P: All right. It's an important story to put into the records,
because there's not very much information. There's just
a little skirting around, and the story needs to be told for
L: It'd take me an hour to tell you that, because I'd like to
give you a little background in view of my association with
Communist party organizations on campusvat Syracuse, in Chicago
P: All right, well, let me ask you one other thing and then we'll
close this for today. You came back to the University after
your sabbatical, your leave of absence at Chicago, and you stayed
on the faculty then until when?
L: Until the end of summer school. That summer school, I knew
him before, but I came friendly with Ian Walker. He'd been
football coach in Bay County high school. He was a Tampa boy,
a football and basketball player. He lost a job at Bay High
School--he wasn't winning any games--and he didn't know
what to do. I thought I'd had tuberculosis the year before
but this psychoanalysis had pretty much cured me, and Ian
suggested one time let's go out West. So we got in his car
and we went out West at the end of summer school, and I got
at the University of Denver.
P: How long did you stay there?
L: Six years.
P: And you came back to the university?
L: Yes. Manning Dauer invited me to teach in his place in summer
school in 1937. And I came back to summer school, met Myra,
we became engaged and I applied for a job. I was given a job
first in the General College in September of '37.
P: And then you taught until when?
L: Until the fall of '46.
P: You stayed through the war years in Gainesville.
L: Through the war years, yes.
P: Of course you know that in September of 1937 you had a very
promising young student come in from Jacksonville, Florida.
L: I remember him distinctly and we met in the north end of Buckman
P: Well, your memory is better than his is. The north end of
L: You don't remember?
L: Yes, I'd gotten over there to Buckman Hall. One day I was
conducting class and somebody brought me a message and they
told me Sylvester Green had died. He was a member of the
political science faculty. He took my place when I resigned
to go to Denver.
P: Who was that person bringing you that message?
L: I don't recall that. It may have been Manning or Bill. Manning
probably sent the message.
P: What was the occasion of this meeting in the north end of Buckman
L: A class.
P: I don't remember going to class in Buckman Hall. I remember
taking French classes in Buckman Hall at the north end. I remember
the two classrooms that were there at the end of the building.
L: I remember a paper handed back to you, Sam, one time, and it
had a C on it. I thought to myself, "Well that boy can do
better than that."
P: You realized all this is getting on the tape.
L: I don't know whether you remember it or .not.
P: I've tried to block that out of my memory.
L: I see, yes.
P: All right, we're taping the second day of the interview
with Mr. Angus Laird at his residence here in Tallahassee.
This is Tuesday morning, December 11. Angus, we want to go back
now and talk a little bit more about President Murphree. I
know you were a very good friend of his, and you were active
on campus as the editor of the Alligator, so you obviously
had occasion to talk with Dr. Murphree in his office in
what was then Language Hall, now Anderson Hall. You were telling
me about once, in 1927, being in his office, and I'd like you
to tell me about that.
L: Yes. You mentioned that I was a friend of Dr. Murphree's, and
I was, but as editor of the Alligator, I felt I knew how to
run the university better than he did. If you read the Alligator
back in those days, you'll see that I had quite a number of
critical editorials about the way in which certain affairs were
handled on the campus. But that was not what I wanted to tell
P: No, but I was going to say, since you mentioned that, that you
started a tradition of the Alligator's opposition to the
administration and the president, and it continues right
down to the present moment.
L: I'm not sure whether I started the tradition or not, but at
least we tried to be independent. And that's a long story
L: Well, one of the things I liked about Dr. Murphree is that he
didn't seem to hold certain things against me. While I
criticized him in editorials, and also Idiffered with him
about the director of the athletic department, he was always
very friendly. And he seemed to respect me. Well, in the
spring of 1927, after we had had the victory on the campus
and I thought the mission had been accomplished, I had the message
to go see Dr. Murphree. I.went to his office and he had some
small matter to take up with me. It didn't take but a minute
to finish up our discussion of that subject and I got up to
go, and he said, "Angus, have you ever seen a letter from
God?" Well now, I knew that I was in direct communication with
God, but God had never sent me a letter. I didn't know
that Dr. Murphree was in communication with God and that
statement puzzled me. Well, when I answered no, I'd never
seen a letter, he said, "Would you like to see one?" He
held up a page. I said, "Yes sir." I was bewildered by
his actions, and saw it, and I can see that letter today.
I don't have the exact date in my mind, but it was certainly
in May of 1927, right near commencement. He showed me this
letter, and I could tell you more in detail about that letter,
-ifyou like; it ought to be found in his memoirs if somebody
hasn't taken it out.
It was on scratch paper--the letter-size scratch paper that
we use in grammar school, and other places too. You could get
it everywhere, you can't buy it now. It had lines on it, an
the letter was written in pencil. The envelopeshowed that it
was mailed at a little town southwest of Gainesville. It wasn't Cross
City but it came from Williston or Archer, down in that area. It was
addressed to "President A. A. Murhpree, University of Florida,
Gainesville, Florida. Dear Sir: This is to inform you that
you will die before the end of this year. Signed, God." Well,
I was bewildered and I didn't say anything. I just walked out
of the office. By that time I had taken the veil, as they used
to say when you go into a monastery or anything like that, and
I wasn't interested in any worldly affairs. I was interested
in the library. The student body had been purified in my judgement
and I wanted to go ahead with the work that I had agreed to do.
So I thought about it a few days, but then got busy in other
affairs and I did not recall seeing that letter for fifteen or
twenty years. But Dr. Murphree died the latter part of 1927.
He died suddenly during the Christmas holidays. I was at home,
and a carload of us from Panama City came up here to his funeral.
P: He's buried here.
L: Here in Tallahassee. But, I just didn't think of that letter.
About fifteen or twenty years ago I thought of the letter.
Dr. Murphree did die before the end of the year. I didn't
know much about the circumstances of his death until about
ten years ago when I was in Gainesville and saw John A. Murphree
who later became a very good friend of mine and a good friend
of a brother of mine, and we were on good terms. He was sitting
at a table all by himself in the Primrose Grill. My wife
and I were there, having lunch. I walked over and sat down
and talked to him. I told him about this letter. He says,
"You know, that's strange. We could never understand my
father's death. It was so unexpected. He had had a physical
examination and the doctor said he was in good health. He never
complained of anything. He'd been over to Jacksonville for
the weekend, had a good weekend, and next morning we found
him dead in bed. We never understood exactly what happened."
Now, I didn't ask him if there was a death certificate or
what kind of examination or determination of the cause of
death. I've never discussed this with anyone except Manning
Dauer and John A. Murhpree. I thought I had mentioned it to
you one time.
P: No, I've never heard.
L: I did one time go into your office in Gainesville to see
you and we talked about a number of things and that was in
my mind, to ask you to check his records to see if you could
find that letter.
P: Well, I've gone through Dr. Murhpree's files that were left after
Miss Pitts sorted them, and never saw that letter in there.
This is something that I had never heard about before. Do you
suspect that there might have been some foul play?
L: Decidedly so. I think he was murdered. And in the succeeding
years, being a suspicious man, I've been trying to decide in
my own mind whomight have been the assassin. I won't mention
that subject right now, but I thought it would make a great
P: I hope you'll write it because it would make a fascinating
story. Talking about Dr. Murhpree, I-did see a letter that
he had written a few years before his death, 1923 I believe,
at the time that there was a lot of anti-Catholic feeling
throughout Florida and through the South. It was also the
time of Klan activity. Someone had written Dr. Murphree and
asked him if there were any Catholics on the University of
Florida faculty. He wrote back and said not to his knowledge,
and so long as he was president of the university, there would
never be a Catholic on the faculty. Now, that might have just
been for public consumption at a time of turmoil in the
state, but have you any reason to believe, from your memories
of him, that he was a prejudiced, bigoted man?
L: No, he could well have been, but it was not obvious to me.
Now, you may know something about the campaign of 1916.
P: I did.
L: Of the election of Sidney J. Catts.
P: Yes of course.
L: Much of the information in that book is erroneous. It's accepted
as a scholarly work and it's the best work that's ever been
done on Governor Catts.
P: You're referring to the bookby Wayne Flynt that was published
by Louisiana State University Press [Cracker Messiah].
L: Yes, was he one of your students, by the way?
P: No, but I know Flynt. He is chairman of the history department
at Auburn University now. He was at a college in Alabama in
Birmingham, Samford University.
L: Oh, yes.
P: You think that it's erroneous material.
L: Yes, there was some erroneous material, and he depended too
much on material from the family of the late Jerry W. Carter.
P: And the Carter papers are in the Florida State University
L: Yes, and the Florida sons are around to furnish him with
P: Unfortunately, the papers of Governor Catts were lost, some
of them purposely by the family, and as a result, a lot of
historical information that could be documented if the paper
were available, becomes an impossible thing to do. Families
become overprotective, and as a result they do historical
personalities disservice. One of the things I wanted to
ask you about this period in the university history, Angus,
and this may have been about '25, '26, '27, I don't remember
the exact dates, were a series of so-called anonymous
newspapers published on the campus, attacking the administration.
I have some of the issues which Alton Morris gave me years
later. Do you know about those?
L: Yes, I knew some of them. One came out very friendly to the
administration. I found out something about it while
I was editor of the Alligator. I learned from a person who
was involved in it that they had discussed the paper with
P: I think one of them was called Le Fouete.
L: Le Fouete Field wasn't it, something like that? That may have
been the one. My friends Beverly Mann and Gardner Piper and
some of the others on the campus were back of that, as I under-
stand. And they had approached Dr. Murphree and asked it it
would be all right if they published such a paper and they
criticize certain things, and I found out that they had had
approval from Dr. Murphree. Now I'm not sure that I could
prove that, but at least I believed it and I was told that
it was true. So I wrote an editorial stating that the
editors were well-known on the campus and one would wonder
why they were not disciplined for what they put in that secret
paper. I said the reason is sick. They got the approval
of Dr. Murphree to publish that paper.
P: So they escaped punishment, as a result.
L: Well, I escaped punishment. I don't know whether they escaped
punishment, but I gave that as a reason why they did escape
punishment; that they had had approval before.the publication
came out. You can find that as an editorial in 1925, '26.
P: There's a man on campus that you may have remembered by the
name of O.K. Armstrong.
L: Oh yes.
P: He claims that he was the first professor of journalism at the
University, but actually Mr. Stoutamire was because you had
taken the course from him when you first arrived.
P: Tell me about 0. K. Armstrong, who is still living by the
L: Well, that's a part of a story I was going to tell you about in
my expiences at the University of Chicago, but I will mention
something to you. 01 K. Armstrong was an activist, a super-
activist. He took after Sidney J. Catts who was running
for every state office that was open, or national office
that was open back in thoseldays. And Sidney J. Catts had
been elected on an anti-Catholic prohibition ticket.
P: In 1916 running against Mr. Knott.
L: Mr. Knott was the nominee of the Democratic party and Catts
ran on an independent ticket.
P: Well, he got the Prohibition party endorsement.
L: Prohibition party. And one of his opponents, Mr. Knott,
Judge Terrell told me and then I verified it from Charlie
Knott, his son, an attorney here in Tallahassee, that Jerry
Carter would accompany Mr. Knott on his political trips out
in West Florida, and dressed as a Catholic priest. He would
get ahold of some of Knott's literature, and would hand out
Knott's literature in the crowd out there, which was proof
that the Catholics were supporting Knott. That was a political
trick, and I've had it verified from two or three sources.
Now, I never did ask Mr. Carter about that, or Mr. Knott; I
didn't know either one of them very well. I knew Jerry Carter
who was quite a remarkable person, but I think probably that
was correct because it came pretty straight from Mr. Knott's
son, who was alive and knew about it at the time. He told
me about the efforts that he used in promoting the interests
of Sidney J. Catts.
P: Where does Armstrong tie in?
L: Anti-Catholicism was strong and a lot of the backwood
people couldn't tell the difference between an Episcopaliam
and a Catholic. Judge Codkrell/whome you may have known. .
P: I did.
L: was on the Supreme Court, and Ibelieve he was the only
Supreme Court member in the history of the state of Florida
ever defeated for re-election. There were perhaps two
reasons for it. But out in West Florida and in Klan
organizations, I never had much to do with the Klan--my
father wasn't a Klan sympathizer at all. Judge Cockrell wasn't
a Catholic. Someone said that his brother in Jacksonville. .
L: Alston, yes, was a Catholic, but Judge Cockrell, when I
knew him, was an Episcopalian. So there was a lot of Catholicism,
and it was in Sidney Catts's makeup to play upon the prejudices
of people who were afraid of the Pope was going to come over
and take the country. It wasn't limited to Florida, by the
P: Of course not.
L: Bill Carleton's father told me that he got off a train someplace
in New England and informed them that he was campaigning
for Woodrow Wilson, and was told that they didn't think
much of Woodrow Wilson--that the Democrats were Catholics and
they were running a Catholic party and if Wilson got elected
the Pope would have too much influence in Washington. So Mr.
Carleton, a big voluble person as uninhibited as Bill, says,
"Oh, they've already got the Capitol in Washington." He says,
"I was in Washington two weeks ago, and the Papal flag was waving
atop of the Capitol dome. They've already got the Capitol under
their control." That was humorous and that took place about 1912.
But then up into the 1920's, when Catts was running for various
P: After he left the Governorship and did not succeed himself
L: That's right. He first ran in 1920 for the Senate, then '24
and then '28.
P: He ran for Governor again in '28.
L: Yes, he ran for Governor. It was along about that time that
0. K. Armstrong, on the faculty, began to trail Catts in Florida.
P: Armstrong came to Gainesville from where? Do you know?
L: Missouri, I guess.
P: He was a Missouri man.
L: Yes, he was a Missouri man.
P: I guess Matherly brought him in, because journalism was then
part of the College of Business Administration.
L: Yes, I remember he came about 1927.
P: So, he followed Catts around in '28.
L: Yes, and 0. K. wrote some anti-cracker stories. I don't know
what church he belonged to. I think nominally he was Presbyterian,
come to think of it. He was Presbyterian in Gainesville and
I knew him quite well. He became involved in a study of slavery
and traveled around the South interviewing ex-slaves. I think
perhaps he published a book on the memories of former slaves.
I came back to the South, to Waycross, Georgia one time,
with him from Washington to Waycross. We had a hillbilly
preacher from up in the Ozarks that he picked up and he would
sleep in the car. We got stuck in Camden, South Carolina, just
outside of Camden, and our car had to be worked on. I knew a
boy from Camden, one of my best friends in college and one of
my friends today named Steven Miles Montgomery, and I called
his father and he came down to the station and invited us to
spend the night with him. We went over and spent the night.
And while we were there, the question of the Civil War came
up. 0. K. was making this tour around the country and he
brought up the subject and mentioned it, and 0. K. said something
about, "Well, that feeling is all over now." Mr. Montgomery
says, "It's not all over now. Some of us still don't like the
way the South was treated after the end of the Civil War. We
still remember it, Mr. Armstrong." We didn't have any further
discussion on the Civil War.
P: Armstrong wrote a biography of Dr. Murphree.
L: Did he?
P: After Murphree's death. I have a copy of that.
L: I would certainly like to see that.
P: He was on the faculty, and it was almost like a memorial
volume to him. Now, tell me about him following Catts around.
Was he part of a' truth squad type of thing?
L: I think that's what it was and I believe he wrote articles for
certain national magazines about the campaign of Mr. Catts in
P: You graduated from the university with yourBachelor's degree
L: June, 1927.
P: And then what?
L: I was offered in the spring of the year this job in the Department
of Political Science; Dr. Hollingsworth got me the job, or
at least I always gave him the credit for getting me the job
of being his assistant in setting up the Bureau of Municipal
Affairs, but Dean Riley financed it out of his budget. I had
not thought much about it until now, the fact that I had helped
Dean Riley and extending Blue Key may have had something to do
with that. It may have been Dean Riley who proposed my name
and they were to give me 500 dollars for the year, and that
was a pretty good amount of money. I could live off of that
very well. So the next year I had a student assistantship--
that's what it was--and majored in political science and received
my Master's degree the following year, at the end of summer
P: What date is that?
L: That would be in 1928.
P: You took your degree, then, in political science. Did
you write a thesis?
L: Yes, City Manager Government in Florida.
P: What is the next stage of your career?
L: Then I went to Syracuse University from there as a teaching
fellow in the School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
P: And you taught there for how long?
L: For one year. I came back to Florida and travelled by bus
to Washington and stopped there, thinking maybe I could find
a job there. Stayed with a cousin of mine named Walton
Flournoy who was a student at Georgetown, the School of Law.
One night, about the second night I was there, a visitor
came to the door and it was O. K. Armstrong. He'd known
Walton Flournoy on the campus and,,I'presume, his family.
Walton Flournoy was from DeFuniak Springs. So he was expecting
him, he just came in. He said, "Fine. I'm going back on
down south to Waycross tomorrow afternoon." I asked if I
could go with him. I was waiting for a ride, and Lex
Green had offered me a ride as soon as Congress had recessed
for the fall.
P: He would be driving down.
L: Hewould be driving down and invited me to ride with him.
So, I was waiting for that ride, but I also was anxious to get
to Florida, and I accepted O. K.'s invitation to ride with
him. I have more to say about O. K. and an experience I
had with Dr. Harvey Wiley. O. K. told me that he was
writing the biography of Dr. Harvey Wiley. I met Dr. Wiley
the following morning, and talked to him a while. But I'm
going to bring that out in connection with another phase of
P: But since you've mention Dr. Wiley's name, maybe for the
tape you ought to identify him.
L: Dr. Wiley was the author of the first Food and Drug Act. He
was an MD, as I recall, maybe from Hopkins. Then he became
the administrator of the Pure Food and Drug Act, the first one
imn!the federal government. Somewhere along the line he
became the editor of Good Housekeeping magazine, maybe about
the time of his retirement, and was one of the early consumer
advocates in the United States.
P: Years after this, I met Armstrong. He was then the Congressman
P: I met him in Washington and had lunch with him. He has
recently been to Florida and it spending this winter in
Miami. We want to get more of your career. You drove
back to Florida with 0. K. Armstrong.
L: Yes. and then I stopped in Gainesville for a day or two. I
learned from someone, (I don't recall who it was, whether it was
Dr. Hollingsworth, who died about that time, or Dr. Leake),
that there was an opening in the history and political science
department. So I applied for the job. As I recall, I
didn't see Dr. Leake about it. I wrote a letter applying for
the job. It may have been written after I got home in
Panama City, but I don't remember the details. I wanted
another job at that time and was hopeful in getting it.
But it was a bad time to look for jobs in the writing field,
Iihad been to several places looking for jobs, even as a
newspaper reporter or anything on a newspaper. I worked for
a paper at home but it was in bankruptcy when I got back, so I may
not have written and applied for the job until I got home. Then
I had a letter back from the university, I've forgotten whether
it was from the dean or from Dr. Leake, stating that I had been
recommended for the job and it had been approved. At that
time I guess, Tigert was president.
P: Tigert was president and Townes R. Leigh would have been Dean
of the College of Arts and Sciences. So then you returned to
Gainesville in the fall of '29?
L: Yes, and taught there that year. Then, with a great urgency
on my part to get my degree. .
P: Your Ph.D.
L: My Ph. D.
P: What did you teach that year?
L: I taught a course in medieval history. Of course, that was a
basic subject in those days--medieval history, under Dr. Leake.
L: And also two or three sections in state government.
P: How much did they pay you?
L: I think it was a 150 dollars a month, for nine months.
P: Where didyoulive?
L: I lived part of the year in a little house over there back of
what I think is the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house now,
with a widow who had a son who was a freshman at the university.
Wallace, his first name was, Wallace Donnely. Mrs. Donnely,
was from New York and was a Christian Scientist. I remember
one night we were sitting before the fireplace, and Wallace was
holding up his pen or pencil and putting it in his mouth, and
finally he turned to me and said, "Give me a subject for a theme."
I said, "Write about what that dog is thinking." He did. He told
me he got a high grade on it. Later on, Eugene Mounts or Alton
Morris once told me that he had graded that-very same theme
P: Let me ask you a question before we leave this year at the university.
One hundred fifty dollars a month doesn't sound like very much
today, but what were living costs in Gainesville in 1928, '29?
L: Well, I sent fifty dollars a month to my sisters, who were in
school here in Tallahassee at the college, it was then the
college, now FSU. I saved up several hundred dollars to enable
me to go to graduate school the next year. In addition, I graded
papers in the home study department and made a few dollars a month
there. Well, it was a pretty good salary.
P: And living costs were obviously cheaper then than they are now.
L: Oh, I think I spent ten or fifteen dollars a month for meals.
P: And rent?'
L: About ten or fifteen dollars a month for room. It didn't cost
me more than about twenty-five or thirty dollars a month to
live at that time. I lived fairly well. I didn't have a car
of course, didn't need a car. My father had given me half interest
in a car years before, but I gave it to my younger brother.
P: To get downtown in those days I think students hitchhiked.
L: They hitchhiked or walked--it wasn't a long walk. It would be
today, but I walked it a thousand times.
P: When you got downtown you could go to Florida Theatre or the Lyric.
L: Yes, and stop and get ice cream at the drugstore in the middle
of the block facing the front of the old courthouse--McCullums's
P: And you went to the Lyric Theatre for the movies.
L: Yes. I never did take a course in the movies, but I did go
to the movies.
P: You finished the university that year andyou went where to work
on your degree?
L: To the University of Chicago.
P: In political science or history?
L: In political science under Dr. Charles E. Merriam, one of the
greatest-personalities I've known in my life. Although I knew better
in class Leonard E. White, who was a well-known figure in public
affairs back in those days.
P: How long were you in Chicago?
L: One year. At the end of the yearI went back to Gainesville and
I would prefer to connect the University of Chicago experience
with the subject that I said I'd tell you about when we discussed
O. K. Armstrong. We'll now go back to that and pick it up.
P: All right, why don't we pick up at that point.
L: I explained earlier in the interview that I did not tell my
mother goodbye when she died, and I was eight years old at
that time. I would have been eight years old three months after
her death. I always felt a sense of guilt and wondered if she would
ever forgive me for not telling her goodbye. I never mentioned
it to anyone, Ididn't discuss it, but I began a practice which
she had taught me of saying prayers every night. AfterI went
away to school, I didn't kneel by the bed, but I prayed myself
to sleep at night. I can't recall a single time when I failed
to pray at night. In praying, I'd think about everything I
had done that day and everything I should do the next day. So I
developed a messianic complex.
In high school there was a girl in my class that I thoroughly
worshipped but I couldn't talk to her--I was afraid of her for
some reason or another. There was just no explanation as to
why I couldn't ask that girl for a date, or talk to her. And she
was a beautiful girl. Well, in college I sort of forgot about
her, although I still would think of her occasionally. I rarely
had dates of any kind, and had never had a girlfriend in high
school in college until I went up to this meeting in Wisconsin
at Christmas time in 1926. There was a girl from the school
here in Tallahassee on that trip and I became somewhat interested
in her. We exchanged a letter or two and then I invited her down
to my senior prom dance and came up here and got her and brought
her down. The next summer I met her in Lake City while exchanging
busses andIbecame very much interested-inher. I.didn't have
this complex about her at the time, but as time went on there
were a number of coincidences that lifted her a little bit
above the earth. One being that after not hearing from her
for about six or eight months, Bud Mizell, the president of the
student body, asked me about her one night, at a time when I was
a graduate student. I said, "Well, I was interested in her, but
she's not interested in me. I haven't heard from her in a
long time." Iwent by the fraternity house to get my mail, and
here was a letter from her. She wanted to know what I was
going to do the next year. I wrote to her immediately, and
didn't hear from her. Well, all during that spring, and during
the summer too, she'd become a part of my prayers at that time.
I remember definitely a dream in which I met her on the Capitol
steps in Washington.
Well, I didn't meet her on the Capitol steps in Washington, although
I knew I'd see her beforeI went to school. At the end of
summer school,I went to the ROTC camp at Camp Screvens up in
Georgia, and one evening I was out at Savanna Beach with Henson
Markham, the president of the student body. As I walked out,
I noticed at the end of the "L" on the dock, an elderly couple
and a young woman. And I walked out I suddenly thought, "Well,
now that's Sadie." That was her name. In a few minutes that
couple turned and came back, and it was dark, and I.turned around
and there was Sadie. So that had a peculiar effect upon me, the
fact that I had told Bud Mizell Sadie had forgotten me and then
fifteen minutes later I had a letter from Sadie, and then I had
P: And she was glad to see you.
L: Well, she was surprised, but I was bewildered. I could hardly
say anything at all. I couldn't tell her that I knew it
was she, but I did. And I went on to Syracuse. I wrote her
a letter, maybe a couple of letters, didn't hear from her
at all. I may have sent her a little Christmas present--I don't
know whether I did or not. I did later on some years. So at
the close of the year, I had a letter from her. She wanted
to know what I was going to do. She was going to study Social
Welfare at Case University--Western Reserve rather, in Cleveland.
They're together now, but they were separate in Cleveland, and
she wanted to know where I was going to be the next year, and
what I was going to be the next year, and what I was going to
do. Well, by that time I had decided I didn't want to go on
into political science at Syracuse University, but her letter
quickened my interest about things. It was just along toward
the middle or latter part of May, on May 30, which is Memorial
P: This is 1929?
L: Yes, 1929. My landlady and her husband invited me to go up to
this town in New York where President Van Buren is their most noted
son. They were having a big celebration, they always did on
Memorial Day up there, and I went up there for the weekend and
had a room all by myself with a great big pile of magazines.
I reached over and picked up a magazine and it was published in
1923, now this is 1929. I noticed that one of the stories in the
paper was "How I Found My Dream Girl", by Dr. Harvey Wiley. So
I read it, and Dr. Wiley, wrote that all of his young life and
growing up he'd never had any dates with any girl. But he had
a girl in mind, and he dreamed about her all the time. One day,
after he had become head of the Pure Food and Drug Administration,
he was walking through the Library of Congress with a friend.
He stopped his friend and said, "You see that girl?" The man
said yes. He said, "I'm going to marry her." He said, "You'd
better meet her first."
P: Well, that's a good prerequisite.
L: Well, he courted her for two, three years, and finally they were
married, and he wrote about his dream girl. Now this was on the
30th of May, 1929, that I read that. I was in the wedding in
upstate New York the next week and was delayed for a week, and
I was rushing back to Florida to go to Tampa to see this girl.
You see, I had the letter just two weeks before, then I'd read
this story about Dr. Harvey Wiley's dream girl. ..
P: Gave you hope.
L: Gave me hope. I got down to Washington, was staying with my
cousin Walton Flournoy and wanted to get a ride home, and
0. K. Armstrong walked in about 10:00 one night. He said he
was going down to Waycross the next day and that he had an
appointment over in the State, War,and Navy building with
someone over there. If I would meet him there with my bag,
then we'd go down to Waycross and he'd be glad to take me that
far on the way to Florida. Well, the next morning at 11'00
I was in the hall of the old State,War, and Navy building when he
came out of an office, and he said, "Now I must go see Dr. Harvey
Wiley." I said, "Dr. Harvey Wiley?" He says, "Yes, I'm writing
his biography." Isaid, "May I go with you?" He says, "Yes, I
want you to and then we'll go." So we got over there and went
into the building where Dr. Wiley had his office, and he took
me in tomeet Dr. Wiley. He was an old man at that time and I
sat down and he told me that that story was true. That
happened two weeks after I'd read the story. All right, well,
that cinched it. You see, God was directing me again to this
P: You certainly did romance under good auspices.
L: Well, I went to Tampa and she was just more adorable than ever.
She hid her wings under her shirtwaist, but anyway, she was just
an adorable girl. She'd been president of the student body up
here the year before. So then I went home, and all the next
year I grieved about Sadie in Cleveland. She had one unfortunate
experience on a date up there, so she wrote to me and she told
me about all those Yankee boys that didn't have any manners.
P: And you agreed.
L: I was ready to go up there and fight somebody, but she had told
me in Tampa that she planned to go to Western Reserve for one
year and then go to London and do social work. She had studied
psychology at FSU--beginning of psychology, I suppose you could
call it. She believed that if you made up your mind and
stuck to it, you could do what you wanted to do. Well, I'd
made up my mind and Iwas going to stick to it and Iwas giong
to marry that girl. I didn't know how I was going to support
her, but this was the girl for me. I had to get my master's degree
as fast as I could so I could go to London and marry this girl.
She wouldn't write to me during the year and during the summer.
At the end of summer school, by that time I had developed
sinus trouble and allergies and I was ill, really. Things
were not going the way I wanted them to go and the way I expected
the Lord wanted me to go, soI went up in the mountains of North
Carolina and lived pretty much as a hermit during that time. I
had read about Gandhi, whose name was known everywhere in those
days, a great 'figure, and I had just decided that I would become
a similar figure in this country. And in my old age, Sadie would
comeand be one of my disciples.
P: I'd say you were not romantically inclined.
L: No, I was not romantically inclined. It was in that frame of mind
that I arrived in Chicago and become a graduate student. I had
made up my mind that I was sick and I must have tuberculosis
or something like that though nobody could find it. Iwwas
sick with a disease that no doctor could cure, and I made up
my mind that I'd go out in the West and get over this problem,
and then would later on come back to Florida and be a kind of a
messianic figure in Florida life. That was about the first of November
and I was planning to leave in just about a couple of weeks.
P: What year?
L: In 1929. Then I got back to my room one Saturday morning, the
Saturday morning when the University of Florida was playing
the University of Chicago. Red Bethea was on the team I remember.
I had a message to call Miss Spencer at a hotel in town. I did,
and she was in Chicago to attend the game. We agreed to meet
at a hotel near the university campus; the old Windemere Hotel
if you know Chicago. We met and had a pleasant experience. We
went to the game, and afterwards we went to the home of a graduate
student getting his Doctorate there at the time, who had taught
at Florida the year before--a Dr. Howard Myers. I had an
interesting experience but she was still something I could
hardly touch by this time. On the way downtown she said something
to me. We were discussing Chicago. Chicago in 1929 wasn't
the place for an idealist to be. I made some remarks about it,
and she said, "Angus, aren't you disillusioned yet?" Then later
on, "Aren't you disillusioned about me yet?" Anyway, she told
me goodnight at the hotel, and I've never seen her since. But
the next week I was sicker than ever--I knew she'd dismissed me,
she hardly said goodnight. She said "Goodbye, Angus". So the
next week I was really sick and I decided I'd better just plan
to go on out West, but I wanted to finish the semester for
the credit. In one of Dr. Merriam's classes there was a great,
big burly fellow walked in one morning, and he started a series
of lectures on psychopathology and politics. I have a copy
of the book out there now. The man was Harold D. Laswell,
who later became a very well-known person in the academic world
as a member of the faculty at Yale, and ended up I believe in
P: Right, very great person.
L: Did you know him?
P: No, but I knew of him, of course.
L: Yes, he was a friend of Manning's, Manning met him later on. I
don't know how much of this he told Manning or anything, but
he began to lecture on the motivation of people in public life.
I remember specifically one person in public life that he mentioned.
He didn't give a name, but he mentioned the case of a man in the
state of Indiana who devoted his time and energy and his wealth
for the blind. DidI mention this to you the other day?
P: No, this is new.
L: And, he didn't know why but he became ill. Something happened,
the program wasn't going right, and the man became ill. So he
went to an analyst, Freud, I believe, was still alive at that time. .
P: He was.
L: .and there were few psychoanalysts in this country. And
Laswell was one who had been psychoanalyzed and, I suppose,
would have qualified if he had been a medical doctor. I guess
Laswell had interviewed him and analyzed him. After a period of
some months, it was discovered that when he was a very small child
he had a pet cat and older boys had caught the cat and pulled its
eyes out. He'd grieved for a long time about this blind cat, which
he took care of when he was a little boy. Then, when he became
grown and became a wealthy man, it was natural that he devoted
his time on projects for the blind in the state of Indiana. But
he was never a person to run for office or anything like that.
After that was brought out, the man became well. He was no longer
sick. I can remember thinking well, one way in the future society
to develop people who would be interested in caring for the
blind was to have the eyes of one of their pets pulled out
when they were young. That was a factitious idea that came into
my head, but at the same time Laswell was hitting my head with
a hammer because I was sick and ill and they couldn't find
out what was wrong. That was the thesis of his lecture that
day--people who thought God had told them they could be elected
to office and they were defeated.
P: And it made them sick.
L: And they became ill. They were mentally ill, see, and so I had
this mental illness and I recognized myself.
P: You attributed your illness, though, to the fact that you had
fallen in love with Sadie and she had rejected you.
L: Well, not at that time. I realized that my problem was that
Sadie looked like my mother, and the girl in high school looked
like my mother. .
P: I see.
L: .and I was afraid of my mother. I was afraid that she wouldn't
forgive me for not telling her good-bye.
P: That had all colored your life up until that time.
L: It was responsible, I think, for the fact that I had this
messianic complex. Laswell sent me over to the university
psychiatrist and I went to see him over a period of several
weeks. He told me about a colleague of his at the University of
Chicago, a Jewish colleague, and he was born and reared and trained
and believed that he was the Messiah that was going to lead the
Jewish people back to the Holy Land. Well, I had somewhat the
same experience, you see, and I just collapsed there. I left
the university along about the first of December, and went
and lived with some friends in Chicago for a month, and then
went back in the spring and got some balance back. After you
go through an experience like that you don't get over it right
away. I was released a great deal, and I began to smoke, I began
to drink and to have a good time.
P: Did you figure that this is what prevented you from
completing your work for your degree?
L: Yes, I think that experience was largely responsible for it,
although I still thought that some day I would get the
degree. And in the summer, at Gainesville, I lived in the
same house with this boy that I had known, Ian Walker, and he
didn't know what to do. So in a discussion one day, we decided
we'd go West, I wasn't thinking much about the future at that time,
I was just trying to have a good time. So we went out West and
almost starved to death over the next year or two. He finally
came back to Florida and became public relations officer for
Southern Kraft Mill in Mobile, Alabama. I stayed on in Denver
until the summer of 1937 when Manning wrote and asked if I could
take his classes for the summer.
P: Meanwhile, you had been teaching out in Denver, the university
L: Yes, teaching and also administrative work in two or three
P: Manning invited you to come to Gainesville and you accepted
P: How much did they offer to pay you for that summer?
L: I think it was 225 dollars a month, 500 dollars I believe
for the summer.
P: So you left Denver and returned to Gainesville, and you
started your career there.
P: And you taught at the university for how long?
L: I taught there until 1946.
P: When you came back, were you married already?
L: No. On the first morning of classes in summer school in 1937, I
was having my breakfast at the old Black Cat; by that time
they'd changed the name to the College Inn and moved the College
Inn down to the corner of University Avenue and what is now
13th Street. I was seated at a table all by myself and going
over my notes for the first lecture, when a woman came in and said,
"Why, hello Angus, I heard you were going to be back." I looked
up and I didn't think I'd ever seen the person. I have a fairly
good memory, but I don't ever remember having seen that person
before. She said, "This is crowded in here, do you mind if we
have breakfast with you?" Well, I sort of did mind because I
was going over my notes, and I looked up and here was this
girl. Immediately I said, "Why of course, sit down. Glad to
see you." And she brought coffee in and the girl was Myra and she
asked for a second little carton of cream for her coffee.
P: What was Myra's name?
P: From where?
L: Tampa. I said, "Here, have mine. I don't use cream in my coffee."
She says, "Good, I hope I have breakfast with you lots of mornings."
I still kid her about that being a proposal. It took me about
a month before we became engaged.
P: One month. You were a fast worker, then.
L: Yes, I was a fast worker.
P: As compared with your earlier lovelife.
L: With myearlier lovelife, yes, and we were engaged for a year
and we married a year after. But, at the end of summer
school, I learned that. .
P: Excuse me, let me just interrupt here a minute so I get the record
straight. You were married in Tampa in 1938?
L: No, I was married in South Carolina in 1938. Myra's father had died
in the meantime, and her mother had gone to live with a sister
on one of the Sea Islands in South Carolina. The sister had a
big family and a big home, a big plantation, and other things up there.
P: What was Myra doing in Gainesville that summer?
L: She was taking courses graduate courses in English. She
graduated. She'd been teaching; she was at that time teaching
at the Hillsborough High School in Tampa.
P: I see. So she was back for summer school.
L: She wasn't back--this was her first experience in summer school.
P: Well, why did she know you then?
L: She didn't know me, it was the other woman that knew me and Myra
was with the other woman.
P: I see.
L: The other woman was a teacher in Tampa and she had seen me in
Gainesville years and years before.
P: Meanwhile, Sadie had. .
L: I found out in 1936 when I came home that she had married a boy who
was the son of Dean Salley up here. He was a graduate of Emory
School of Medicine, and was practicing medicine down in Miami. That
P: Now you came to teach in summer school.
P: What motivated you to stay on in the fall quarter?
L: Well, becoming engaged to Myra, and I heard there was a job in
the General College. I've forgotten now to whom I applied, it
may have been Dean [Walter J.] Matherly. Or it may have been
Professor [Winston W.] Little--I'm not sure if he ever got a
doctor's degree, well, a doctor's degree from the faculty,
sometimes the students conferred a degree. Dean Little
was not a very popular administrator, but I liked him. He would
look you right in the face and tell you what he thought, and some
people didn't like that. But I liked Dean Little, and we got
along very well together. But, Ed Price told me that when I
was recommended for an appointment someone objected because
they said I was a rebel and not responsible, that I would
cause trouble if I were put on the faculty. I got that message,
and of course I forgot about that, but I did create some trouble.
P: As it turned out, though it didn't scare the university; they
hired you anyway.
L: They hired me, yes.
P: And you stayed at the university teaching until when?
L: Until 1946, but I went on half-time in '41.
P: Now, you came in the summer of 1937 and you stayed on and
you taught in the department of social sciences, I think they
called it C-I.
L: I taught C-l.
P: "Man and the Social World".
L: That's right.
P: I wonder, was Roland Attwood the chairman at that time?
P: Bill was not yet the chairman, however.
L: No, he wasn't
P: He had an office, I believe, in the basement of Peabody Hall.
P: He shared an office with Manning.
P: A very messed-up office as I recall.
L: Yes, I've been in Bill's office several times. Manning's too,
by the way.
P: Yes, of course. Now, let's talk about what life was like
on the campus at that particular time. First of all, the
state was in the Depression, as was the rest of the nation.
How large was the student body?
L: I've forgotten the enrollment in summer school, but I think
it was about 1500. The student enrollment at the university
was somewhere around 3300. I thought the atmosphere was quite
different from what it had been before when I had taught there.
And I made that statment to a group of people once. J. Hooper
Wise, the head of the English department at that time or
later, came to me and said, "Angus, you said there was quite
a change on the campus from what it used to be." He said, "I've
been here all that time and I haven't noticed much change."
So I began to explain to him what I noticed. There were younger
people around, including Manning, Bill--and Bill has always been
a fascinating personality to me, and then there was C. Vann
Woodward, and I shared an office with him. You know who he is.
P: Oh yes.
L: He was professor of history at Yale.
P: Where was your office? Peabody?
L: No, in Language Hall, Anderson Hall. Up on the northwest corner
on the second floor in Language Hall.
P: Phil Constans was teaching the English Department.
L: Yes. I'm not sure, I think they were calling it the speech
department at that time.
P: They were, I think you're right.
L: That's right.
P: Angus, let's start talking about the level of radicalism on the
campus at this time and what was going on there.
L: I'd like to give you a brief background of my association with
communist groups before I got to Gainesville.
P: All right.
L: I don't remember any radical group other than Ku Klux Klan; I
don't think they had much influence on the campus when I was
P: In the 20's.
L: Of course there was individuals who raised a lot of sand. I was
one of them I suppose, criticizing the administration and getting
out secret newspapers, and papers of that kind, but no official
Communist group that I knew of. I didn't know a Communist
party member at all. At Syracuse I had a professor named Finlay
Crawford in the political science course. In a seminar he told
us, about six or eight of us, that he wanted us to be on the
front seat of every political meeting in Syracuse that fall,
including radical groups. The International Socialists Workers
party was one group that had a meeting, and I sat on the front
seat. We had to report back. Professor Crawford said, "Now
if you're going to be a political scientist, you'll want to know
about all these political groups in the United States." He said,
"I'm going to assign you to go to every Communist meeting you
can get into if you can." He didn't tell me, I learned later on,
that it was the Communist party in New York State. So I learned
the lingo of the Communist party, and he told us that we ought
to become familiar with the writings and the views and opinion
so that we could recognize Communist literature when we saw it.
And I did, there at Syracuse.
I came back to Florida the next year, 1929 and '30, and I didn't
know of any group or suspected anyone there of being a Communist.
I went to the University of Chicago and I didn't attend any
meetings, but I discussed the Communist meetings that took place
downtown with students who did. I intended to go down there
and attend some of the Communist party meetings, but didn't.
When I got out to Denver, it wasn't very long before I was attending
Communist party meetings. And back in those days, younger
people joked with each other about the coming revolution.
P: It was kind of a fashionable thing to do.
L: It was a fashionable thing to do. And there were a good many
Marxists in the academic world, that is, they believed in common
ownership of economic goods. Back in the early '30's you can
understand how young people did believe in something like that.
They were looking for some kind of a solution. I went to
parties where Communist heroines were present, and. ..
P: Communist who?
L: Communist heroines. That's a sexist term I'm sure, but it's
still part of my vocabulary.
Well, I could tell you some interesting experiences. More
than any school I've ever taught at, at the University of
Denver, professors had to advise their students. Not only
that, other students were sent to them for counselling, and for
about two or three years I had the responsibility of approving
the courses of pre-law students. I had to register for them out
at the University of Denver. I sat in my office at certain
times and if a student wanted to take a course that was a pre-
law requisite, he had to come to me and sign up for it. I
remember one student especially who had been in a class of mine,
but he dropped out and then he came to me to discuss his
courses. I asked him what he was going to do and he didn't
smile and didn't open up. He was going to this school down in
Arkansas, which was a training school for Communist workers.
I've forgotten the name of it, but it was well-known among the
brethren at that time. I said to him, "Well, I understand and
appreciate why you feel you ought to go into that. As I see it,
this country won't be right for Communism for a long, long time.
There's so many factors against it. If you go into the work
of being a Communist sympathizer and a communist worker, you can
expect to be beaten over the head a lot of times; be put in jail,
tarred and feathered and treated like that. And you can't have
much of a family life." That boy was named Rubin. I saw him
during Chirstmass week, no it was afterward, I met him on the
street in downtown Denver. I said, "Mr. Rubin, have you made
your decision?" He said, "Yes," and smiled and went on. He'd
made his decision to work for the Comnunist party and be trained
for the Communist party, and you've seen his name if you are familiar
with the stories about the Communist party in this country.
I attended Communist party meetings and I heard this perennial
candidate Earl Browder speak. He had a great auditorium full of
people. He campaigned for Roosevelt, but he himself was a candidate
for president on the Communist party ticket. It was legal in
Colorado. And two or three thousand people in the auditorium
went there to hear his revolutionary talk. They asked him questions:
Should we vote for Roosevelt? He said, "I'm not going to ask you
you to vote Roosevelt, but don't vote for Landon." That happened
five or six times in the auditorium, and the whole group would
start singing "Don't vote for Landon." Then, at the end of his
lecture hs says, "Well, in this campaign we must meet realities,
but we must never forget that our goal is the glorious world
revolution." And they just jumped up like they were at a holiness
meeting, and shouted, "Glorious world revolution! All power
to the workers!"
So I was somewhat familiar with Communist movements when I came
back to the University of Florida, and about the last week or two
of summer school, they told me I had an appointment. I came back
early to help in registration in the fall of '37, and I asked for
the textbooks to be used in the C-l course. They gave me a couple
of them. One of them I remember very well, I have it out there
right now--Man's Wordly Goods. So, while Bill and the others
were registering for two or three days, I read Man's Worldly Goods;
they didn't need me in registration.
P: By Leo Huberman.
L: That's right. Were you a freshman then?
P: I was a freshman that quarter.
L: Well, that's interesting. I have a copy of the book out there
if you want to know.
P: I have it too.
L: So, I read a couple of pages and a couple of chapters. The
next day I told Manning and Bill and Vann Woodward that it was
the new American primer. Have you ever read the new Russian
P: No, but I know it.
L: You do? I said this is the new American primer. They wanted to
know what I meant by that. I says, "This is a Communist textbook."
"Ah, Angus!" they exclaimed. I read more that night, and the next
day I said, "You boys are going to get in trouble using this book."
They didn't think so. The third day, I warned; them about the
book, and I heard later that they went to see Dean Matherly about
it. Dean Matherly wanted to know if I looked under the bed every
night to see if there was a Communist under it. So, they used
the book about a month, and then they dropped it out and told the
freshman class not to use it anymore. I don't know if you
remember that or not.
P: I remember that.
L: All right. They didn't use it. I don't know why. I never did
find out who selected that book. But in the summer of 1931, when
I went to Chicago, I stopped in Evansville to visit Bill on my
way out. I believe that was the time it may have been in '36 when
I visited Bill in Evansville, Indiana. I'm going to tell you
like it is, or like it was. The subject of Manning came up,
and Bill told me that Manning had decided to devote his life
to the Communist party--no, not to the party, but to the cause.
I didn't ask any questions about it, it was a sort of an embarrassing
thing. I thought to myself, "Well, now why should Bill make a
statement like that?" I didn't know the basis for that statement.
I thought about that many times in the years since then, and I
felt that Bill may have been feeling me out and wanted me to
express my opinions about Marxism. I stored it away. When
this textbook came up, I never did associate Bill or Manning
or any of the teachers with that book. I think they had a smart
salesman from a book publishing firm who sold either Dean
Matherly or "Rally" Attwood on the book, and they didn't read it
and might not have recognized the literature if they read it.
P: You don't think Bill had anything to do with it?
L: I never did suspect him, but I wondered, though, I've wondered.
P: People wondered if Bill wasn't himself flirting with at least
socialism during the 1930s.
L: Oh, I'm sure he was. But then a lot of people were doing it.
My neighbor up here who was teaching psychology down there
at that time--he thought Bill was a Communist.
P: A lot of people thought Bill was a Communist or a Socialist,
but that's only because he was so outspoken.
L: I know it. Bill was a liberal. I'll tell you exactly what
Bill was: Bill was a Bill Carleton. He had his own ideas and
he wasn't afraid to discuss them. He was a nonconformist, always
has been. I've never suspected him of being a Communist party
P: You know, it's interesting that the university, as provincial
as it was at that time, in a conservative, rural state, was
able to take a Bill Carleton and a Manning Dauer and handle
them very well and allow them the freedom that they needed.
L: Yes. Well, Vann Woodward fitted into that very well. I remember
a discussion, an argument Vann Woodward had with Dr. Leake.
I don't remember who else was around, but there were some other
members of this group, and we were together on the campus
all the time that fall. I had not married, you see. I was with
Bill and Manning and Vann, and sometimes Jack Maclachlan would
be with us. We'd eat breakfast together, we'd eat lunch, supper
P: Was [John G.] Eldridge [professor of economics] in this group
L: Occassionally, but he was not a regular member. He associated
with us. .
P: Now did you say.
L: Maclachan, Emily White Maclachan.
P: Oh, Maclachan, John, yes, in sociology.
L: Yes, I've always pronounced it "McLaughlin".
P: Yes, I thought that's who you were talking about, but I wanted
to make sure to identify if it was.
L: Yes, that's who it was. I had an office on the second floor of
Language Hall. This must have been in my sophomore year, because
the first year I was with Vann Woodward on the third floor. Was
Anderson Hall there three up?
L: Then I had a little cubby-hole in the English department office
on the second floor in there. I had a boy named Miller in the
class, wish I could remember his name. I liked Miller. He was
a nice-looking boy, not an especially out-going or warm personality,
but a very nice-looking boy and a good student. But he started
cutting classes, and for about three weeks he didn't show up.
He didn't take a test so I reported him to the dean. Go back
just a little bit--he had had a sister who came to summer
school the first year I was back from Denver, when I took
Manning's place. I had taught a course in international
relations and she was in that class. Shevwasa very attractive
girl who wore fine clothes and bright colors. She was a
buxom girl, and when she walked across the campus there were
always four or five boys following along behind her.
P: Girls were kinda strange characters, weren't they?
L: They were strange characters. This was in summer school. There
were other girls, but Dorothy, her name was Dorothy Miller, she
was a personlity on the campus. And she wrote for the Alligator
and she was always getting in trouble with the dean of women
students. They had a dean of women, Miss Skinner, then Mrs.
Jackson, on the campus. And Dean Beaty or Tolbert or so on were
always having to deal with her because she'd break the rules
and wouldn't be in until two or three o'clock on Sunday mornings.
They finally warned her that they were going to have to let her
leave the university if she kept breaking the rules. She was
there the following summer and she took a class under me. She
was smart and I liked the girl, but she was a nonconformist and
she was a sister of this Miller. Well, he did not come to class
and I reported him.
And one day Bill McGuire, William Joseph McGuire, Jr. came in.
I knew Bill McGuire through his association with the other
members of the group that I suppose they thought they were fellow
travelers on the campus--Bill and Manning and the other young
professors. There was still another person in that group.
P: Irving Kahlman, who ran the bookstore across the street, I think,
was part of that coterie.
L: Yes, but I don't remember Irving too well in that group at that
P: But Bill McGuire was in that group?
L: Bill McGuire came in.
P: Now Bill McGuire was a student?
P: Who was Bill McGuire?
L: Bill McGuire was a St. Augustine boy anda fine-looking young
fellow. Well, you've met him.
P: I know Bill.
L: He was a nice-looking boy. He was an assistant in the English
department under Cliff Lyons. Later on he bacame an assistant
in the President's office. He also had been editor of the humorous
magazine, or was it humorous magazine? On the campus, the
P: I guess they called it the Florida Review in those !days.
L: I think it was, the Florida Review.
P: And he was editor of it.
P: Which was an elected post too, I believe.
L: I don't remember about that.
P: I'm not sure either, but I think he ran for editor 6f the Review.
L: I expect it was in the beginning, yes. Well, Bill came in and
he thought I knew more than I did.
P: Now he came in after you had reported Miller for being absent.
L: Miller, yes. He said, "You know, he's one of us." And I had
learned that if you start questions you don't get much information
unless somebody wants to talk, so I didn't ask any questions.
P: Where was Miller from?
L: From New York State someplace. Well, he registered from Orlando
but actually he was from New York State. Well, he says he's one
of us. And he said, "You know we don't allow members of the party
to resign. We won't let him resign." So he said, "He's one of
our problem cases."
P: He thought you knew things, and since you weren't asking any
questions, he just surmised that you already had this information.
L: I already had that information. But I did not know that he was
a member, but it wouldn't have been a surprise for me to know
that he was a member. Well, a few nights after that, I was over
at the College Inn in a booth.
P: Excuse me, Angus, how did you respond to Bill McGuire's visit?
L: Well, I just told him the facts of it. I said, "Well, Bill, he
hasn't come to class, and he has to take the exams for him to
pass the course."
P: Did Bill McGuire explain why Miller was not coming to class that
he disappeared from campus?
L: No, I don't think he had disappeared from campus. Bill told
me that they were after him, not in a physical way, but trying
to get him to come back on in the party; that they don't allow
people to resign from the party.
P: I see.
L: This was my first year back, because we were not married at that
time and I was having supper over the old College Inn in a booth.
Bill came in and sat down and we started talking.
P: We're talking about Bill Carleton or Bill McGuire?
L: Bill McGuire. I sort of blithely brought up the subject and he
said, "Well, we're doing all right. He said, "Have you ever seen
a membership card?" I said, "No, I never have." So he showed
me his membership card, and it didn't have his own name--it
was O'Shea, as I remember. Daniel O'Shea or something like that,
a different name. Have you ever seen a Communist Party membership
L: It looked like the old stamp book, and in order for you to be a
paid-up member, and an active member, you had to get a stamp once
a quarter and put it in the book. And his was up to date. That
was the first and only Communist party membership card I've
ever seen. Now, I heard of another one on campus. There was a
boy named [Claude] Coffee, who was in the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
The boys in the chapter, I had a younger brother in the chapter
at that time, and he didn't know anything about this story that
Bill Carleton told me. Bill told me about a problem they
had with Coffee over there.
P: Coffee, I think I remember him.
L: He was a Jacksonville boy.
P: A Jacksonville boy, and I thought his name was also Bill, but I'm
L: It may have been Bill Coffee, I'm not sure that I ever knew him.
P: I remember him now.
L: Yes. Well, he was home one weekend and his mother decided to send
his clothes to the cleaners, or something, and she was looking
through his pockets and found his Communist party membership
card. She raised sand with the university, so I hear, and
with the chapter.
P: You learned this from Bill Carleton?
L: Yes, Bill told me this about the Coffee boy. My younger brother,
who knew something about it but didn't tell me what the chapter
had done, made a remarkwhich supported to some extent what Bill
told me, about the chapter and being bothered by this Communist
among its members.
P: So Coffee and McGuire were the only two, well, alleged Communist
party members that you knew of on the campus. In the case of
McGuire, you saw his card. In the case of Coffee, you heard about
it from information that Bill Carleton later gave you.
L: Yes, and which was confirmed by my brother in the chapter. I
thought I knew of others on the campus. I don't know whether
they were card-carrying members or not. One time later on Bill
McGuire brought this man out to see me and he left. .
P: To see you where?
L: At my home. Oh, this was, oh, two or three years later--
about '38, it may have been as late as '39. He brought him out
to my home, and I talked to him one afternoon. McGuire and
his group courted me some, and I was positive about that when
this man came to see me. Remembering what Dr. Crawford told
me, I just decided to let them do the talking and I did the
listening. He left a mimeograph book with me and I wish I had
been able to forsee this day. Some ten years ago when I
was looking through the drawer of this desk there, I found
that book and I thought to myself, "Well, now, suppose someone
came in and found that in my desk. What would they think about
P: In your papers?
L: In my papers, and what ,would they think about it? So I
destroyed it. But I had some other evidence. Bill Carleton
told me about a story that I read in the Florida Preview. In
that, a boy who was fighting in Spain told about his experiences.
He'd written a letter back to Gainesville to tell about his
experiences with the Abraham Lincoln brigade. He was killed a
short time after that, but his letter was published in the
Florida Review. He said he was fighting for liberty and
justice. Well, I was told how he went to Spain. Bill Carleton
told me this. Bill said that the Communist party group sent in-
formation from the New York headquarters to the effect that they
had to have a volunteer from the group to go with the Abraham
Lincoln brigade to Sapin. Nobody volunteered, so they drew
straws, and this boy, who, if I remember correctly, came from
New Smyrna Beach, drew the short straw, and he had to go
to Spain. He had to volunteer to go to Spain, and was killed
in Spain, fighting with the Abraham Lincoln brigade, which was
a Communist outfit. Later on, proven to be that. So, on the
campus of the University ofFlorida, the Communist party drafted
a man to serve for the Abraham Lincoln brigade in Spain. Back
in those days, I would read every two or three months about this
young Robert O'Shea who was the president of the Youth Progressive
Party in Florida, some name like that. It was one of the titles
that the Communist party used at that time.
P: Do you think McGuire was also trying to push Carleton and Dauer
and those people into becoming more formally associated with
the Communist party?
L: Well, I never was asked to join the Communist party, either in
Denver or in Gainesville. And in Denver, the people that I
knew and took me to gatherings, a supper one Sunday night, where
these two girls who were arrested in the city parks in Denver
for leading a group of Blacks to go swimming in the lake. You
didn't want to pollute the water with Blacks at that time in
Denver. They were arrested, and they were heroines in Denver.
I knew a woman who danced with Isadora Duncan. Someone told
me later that on that Isadora Duncan was an avowed communist.
I didn't know that, but I was told that. I knew such a woman in
Denver, knew her quite well, and they supported Josephine Roche,
a social worker and a capitalist, but a very liberal person,
P: But how about in Gainesville?
L: They would joke about it, and in Gainesville, I think they
merely wanted those people to believe in the world revolution,
whereas Bill and others were merely interested in knowing,
what was going on.
P: So McGuire and Carleton were very good friends.
L: Yes, I know.
P: And I wondered how much influence McGuire had over Carleton in
L: No, I think Carleton already was of a mind to know about the
Communist party. I never have thought for an instant that Bill
was a member of the Communist party, but I think he knew about
the Communist party. I think he was a sort of a fellow
traveler and some people may have thought I was a fellow traveler.
I think old Dean Riley almost certainly thought I was one, as
I can explain later on, but we won't go into that at this time.
I think they just merely wanted to know, like I did. I wanted
to know what was going on on the campus. I was more conservative
than they were, but I was never ranked conservative. I always
felt I was a middle-of-the-road person. Maybe an Angus Laird
P: There were some organizations that were concerned about this
trend on the campus, particularly in the social sciences department
and with Bill. One of these groups was the American Legion, which
already given funds to the University for the Americanism chair,
which Dr. Leake occupied. They were concerned about, as they
put it, the leftist trend of the social sciences department,
and threatened to withdraw the endowment, which I think amounted
to about 40,000 dollars.
L: Yes, I remember old Colonel McKay of Jacksonville gave the
check to the university. I was present when it was presented
for the Chair of Americanism. I would not be at all surprised
but what Coffee's wife, if not Coffee himself, raised a little
sand about it in Jacksonville, and that's where it would have
gotten to the Legion--about Coffee's son being a member of the
Communist party in Gainesville. Bill told me about that.
Apparently they got after the university because of this evidence
that they had, that the boy had a Communist party card. Now,
whether it was in the Coffee name or not, I don't know. Bill
McGuire's card was not in his name, it was in the name of
Robert Shea. About every three or four months I could see a
story in the Florida Times-Union about a meeting of some group
and Robert Shea, state president of the Young Freedom party, or
some name like that.
P: And this was Bill McGuire who was going around the state. .
L: .as president. That was Bill McGuire.
P: .under this assumed name.
L: Bill McGuire. Under this assumed name.
P: Well, of course, all of this ended when we became involved in the
L: Yes. Well, then I suspected there was another boy that was pretty
well-known to be a member of that group, and I think perhaps he
had a card. But personally I think that the centralist member
of the Communist cell was happening all over the country. There
were Communist cells, and if there wasn't one on the campus, then
students were sent there to be one. They were paid, and paid
very well. They all wore nice clothes and had nice automobiles.
Lived better than I did when I was on the faculty.
P: And automobiles were strange on our campus in those years, of
L: Yes. Bill McGuire was all well-dressed in the best of fashion
and they always had big steak dinners downtown on Saturday night
at this steak place you were talking about. I remember seeing
him a lot. Claude Murphree was another person who was frequently
with him, and a young professor who would eat with them at
their banquest downtown.
P: They ate at that Greek restaurant on the corner of University
Avenue and Main Street. There was a small Greek restaurant and
this is where they congregated.
P: I'm just wondering if Claude Murphree was attacted to them
because of the Communist thing. Claude Murphree was allegedly
L: I never did know that; I'm not surprised.
P: And there may have been other gay people in that group and that
may have been the relationship there. I do not know that,
however, for a fact.
L: Yes. That could very well have been true.
P: Because I had never heard any suggestions about Claude being a
liberal or being oriented in that direction. It may have
just been some of the other things that, that pulled him into
L: There was a boy who, I think, was added to the publication. One
of the objectives of college campus organizations, and I can't
remember where I heard this, always was to control the campus
publications. That only staff could control them, if possible.
They did that for a while at the University of Florida. They
took over the Alligator and they took over the Florida Review.
P: The Alligator too?
L: Yes. I don't know to what extent they controlled it, not complete
control. But there was a boy, a rather attractive boy, he was
from New York; had a sportscar, wore sporty clothes around.
They were all together on the campus in a group. They'd eat lunch
together; you would see them on Saturday nights, Friday
nights, downtown. Sometimes the girls from Tallahassee would
be there, including Dorothy Miller, I remember. We always
had a friendly greeting for each other. After I came up
here and was a visiting professor at FSU I had access to student
records. I looked up Dorothy's record, and it reported that
she came from a very religious Methodist family in New York
State, but that she was having some trouble accepting Methodism;
and she a Jewish girl. I don't know whether you ever knew her
or not. A very attractive Jewish girl.
P: Why would her records indicate that she was Methodist?
L: That's because she told them that.
P: She had camouflaged.
L: She camouflaged it. But she didn't go to church because she
was having some trouble accepting the doctrines of the church.
P: I see. This was part of a cover, then, for her.
L: Part of a cover, yes.
P: Which would suggest that perhaps she was also a member of the
L: I think so too, and perhaps was paid to come down here. They
registered from Orlando but I found out later on that they
had never lived in Orlando.
P: The student body in 1937, '38, '39, I was a part of it so I remember
was generally poor. We worked for the NYA. .
L: Twenty-five cents an hour.
P: Twenty-five cents an hour, and I remember that Ed Price was the
director of that program.
P: Now Ed was not involved inthis group, was he?
L: No, Ed was not involved. I never had the slightest suggestion
that he was a fellow traveler even. I thought that Bill and Manning
and Van Woodward were all fellow travelers and I think if I'd
ask them, they would have told me so.
P: As I recall, Ed Price had his office in the basement of
Language Hall and that the NYA program, the National Youth
Administration program, was under the supervision of
Dean Beatty. Beatty had moved in to take over after Tolbert's
demise or retirement; I've forgotten which happened.
L: Yes, I think he died.
P: He died. Mrs. Tolbert, who had been his secretary, was also
working over there.
P: I remember that many of the students on the campus worked for
P: Did you have one assigned to you?
L: No. Incidentally, I knew about the International Relations clubs
in Denver, and I knew of Alger Hiss. He was the national leader
of the International Relations clubs. It was considered a Communist
organization on the campus at the University of Denver, and many
of that group on the campus at the University of Florida were in
the International Relations club. I had a boy named Pikula,
never did show me his Communist card, but I always felt he was
a Communist. He was very attractive in the International Relations
club. So the story about Alger Hiss didn't surprise me at all.
P: Who were the campus leaders in '37, '38? Steve O'Connell was
on campus at the time.
P: Smathers was still there in law school, if I'm not mistaken.
L: Yes, he was elected president of the student body, either in.
P: In '35 or '36.
L: It seems to me he was elected in spring of 1938, but I'm not
positive. Seems to me I was there when he campaigned on the
campus, and 1938 was the earliest time that it could have been.
P: I was there too it seems; I came in September of '37, but I'm
just not clear in my mind. Were you there when Rembert
P: Pat came, I believe, in '39 or '40. He was a graduate of the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
L: Yes. I knew Rembert very well.
P: Now you continued to teach in the social sciences department.
L: No, I transferred to political science after about two years,
but I continued to teach in the social sciences department.
One of the things that was a change that I pointed out to Jake
Wise was a change in the curriculum. I knew enough about
university curriculi at the time to know that the institution,
when I was there as a student, didn't have much of a curriculum
that I could support. And I liked a lot about the General
College. I later became disenchanted some with General College
because it was general. elt that a student should be able
to follow some of his interests as soon as he came to the university.
I thought those comprehensive courses should be spread out
over the four years, and furthermore, I didn't like the
spearation of the faculty, you see. I came to feel that, while
there was a lot to be said for the General College concept, I.
didn't believe in requiring all of those comprehensive courses
to be forced upon a student when he first came to the campus.
There was too much discouragement of students about what they
wanted to do. If a student came to campus and wanted to be
a doctor, he was told in the classes, in the big lecture sections
and other places, well, you think you want to be a doctor. And
Dean Little especially was strong on that. You think you want
to be a doctor. Wait until you get through with your college
courses, you may not want to be a doctor. I didn't hear it in
those words, but that was something of the attitude prevailing
in the C-l faculty.
P: And throughout the University College. .
L: And throughout the University College.
P: Well, University College as it came to be called later on.
L: Yes, that's right.
P: It was still then the General College.
P: And, certainly this was the argument that the people in the '
sciences and engineering made about the General College.
L: Well, I accepted that, though I had no association with them,
but that's what I came to believe. And I always reverted back
to my course in Genung's Rhetoric--English I. There was that
book that I thought I mastered, Genung's Rhetoric. I thought
that by the end of the year I knew Genung's Rhetoric and I
could close my eyes and see almost any page in the book. I felt
that that was a great educational process, that you have one
fine textbook that a student would learn and master and I think
that's one of the values of the college education.
P: Angus, let me ask you a little bit about your personal life now.
You got married andyou set up housekeeping where in Gainesville?
L: I set up housekeeping in an apartment that belonged to Steve and
Zella Sashau for the first summer. The next year, I was married
in June on Wednesday and on Friday I helped to register people
for summer school in 1938. Then, after that, I rented a house
that belonged to BoBo Arnold's father.
P: Where was the Sashau apartment?
L: The Sashau apartment was off behind what is now the Holiday Inn,
that big motel there on the corner.
P: I know it. How much rent did you pay?
L: Practically nothing; I don't remember. But I was making a big
salary, 225 dollars a month.
P: So you could afford to live the life of luxury.
L: I could afford it, yes.
P: So then you moved from there in the fall into a house.
L: Into a house out beyond where the president's home is three or
four blocks back in there--a little house belonging to Beau Arnold's
father. I didn't like the house, but when the war came along he
wanted to sell it and he offered it to me. I didn't want to buy it,
so I had to move somewhere else. We moved two or three
different places. Finally we lived for a semester in the
dormitories during the war years.
P: What about your wife? What was Myra doing in Gainesville?
L: She was being my wife.
P: She did not teach in the school system.
L: I'm a male chauvinist. I didn't want my wife to work; that was
a little disgraceful thing, if the man's wife worked. So I
wouldn't let her teach.
P: So she did not apply for a position, then, teaching in Alachua
L: No, she didn't apply. Now, I want it understood that I was being
facetious when I said something about my wife working, but I
didn't want her to work.
P: Well, I'll join you. My wife didn't work either.
L: We have another thing in common.
P: You and I are even then, we're in common on that, yes. What was
life like for a young faculty couple at the end of the 1930s?
Were there social things to do? Manning was single, Bill was
single, I don't know whether Vann Woodward was married at the
time or not.
L: He married the summer after he was there, I believe, or he was
engaged. I met his wife--I've forgotten exactly how. He may
have married during the year. I think perhaps he did. Well,
we had some couples we visited in their homes. I frequently went
out to see Ed Price at his home, and many weekends we stopped by
and visited Ed and his mother.
P: Was Ed married then?
L: No, but his mother was alive and was his housekeeper, and he had
a big house. I had lived in their home at one time in Gainesville
and I liked Mrs. Price very much and always had a very high
regard for Ed. I liked Ed, so we visited them frequently.
P: And the Leakes were not great entertainers.
L: No, I can remember being in the Leake's home maybe as many
as three times.
P: Ancil [N.] Payne [Assistant Professor of History and Political
Science], in the meantime, had arrived on campus.
L: Yes, Ancil Payne arrived on campus.
P: With Corrine, but they were not a very social people.
L: But Emily White and Jack were very social, and we spent a lot
of time with each other. I remember once, Jack came to see me.
We bought a house on Hilldale Road, by the way, at the end of
the war, right after the bomb was dropped. Emily White built
a house down the street from us.
P: No, Hilldale Road is off beyond [J.J.] Finley [School]?
L: It is the road that you travel in order to turn into the cul-de-sac
where Manning lives. We had a house down just beyond the house
with the pillars, belonged to Colonel Browning at that time.
P: I know exactly where it is because I lived in that area of the
L: Did you live in that neighborhood?
P: That's the Broome section.
L: That's right. Well, we bought that right after the bomb was
dropped and everybody thought the war was coming to an end.
Gardner Welch's wife owned it--Gardner Welch was of a family
associated with the Gainesville Sun. They were divorced and she
owned it and she wanted to leave Gainesville, so I bought it
for 8000 dollars, if I recall. The next year I sold it for
15,500 dollars. The man paid me the price that I asked the year
after that. So that's where I lived and I remember one time
Jack came down to see me and he was all excited. He said, "I
just can't stand it any longer. I can't stand it any longer."
I said, "What's the matter, Jack?" He says, "I just can't get
along with Dr. [Lucius Moody] Bristol." Dr. Bristol was head
of his department.
L: He says, "I have just got to leave, just got to leave." I says,
"Why, Jack?" He said, "Well, I just can't agree with him. We
can't get together at all on courses." I-said, "Jack don't
leave. Dr. Britsol is retiring next year and you're in line
to become head of the department. Then you can run it the
way you want to run it." Then later on, someone told me that
Emily White had built that house with her own money because
she wanted Jack so have some stability and stay wherever she
liked it. She knew that Jack would like to stay in a place for
a year or two and then would get disenchanted and want to go
somewhere else. Jack did settle down and was very happy there,
P: Yes indeed.
L: I'm very fond of Jack's widow.
P: Emily is a very happy woman today.
L: Yes, that's what I understand, and I am the godfather of Morgan.
P: Oh, really?
P: Emily is doing interviewing for us on the same Oral History Project.
L: Is she?
P: She's been interviewing some of the women associated with the
university and ladies who became well-known in Gainesville so
she's one of our volunteers and doing an excellent job.
L: That's interesting.
P: Tell me about the war years on campus.
L: Well, you remember the situation when you were there. Pearl
P: Just for the record, I got a BA in June of '41, had an assistantship
or a fellowship and worked under Dr. Leake and stayed until
June of 1942, and then I had my Master's degree and left.
L: Well, it was about that time that Dr. Leake agreed to transfer
me to his department. I was transferred from General College
to Dr. Leake's department about the time the war broke out.
P: Well, the war broke out, of course, in Europe in 1939 and then
Pearl Harbor in December, '41.
L: But I started teaching courses in political science as soon
as I went back in '37. I still taught in political science
and I taught a course in state and local government, and
federal government. One semester of federal government,
and the other state and local government. Well, it wasn't
very long before everybody was leaving for the army. The
draft was in effect. Myra's brother, who's ancestor was standing
by Captain Lawrence when he made that celebrated statement, "Don't
give up the ship," went downtown to register for the navy. They
gave a medical examination, and they told him he had to get a
permanent denture put in. He had one that would come out. The
doctor said, "What would happen if, in the midst of a battle,
a bomb dropped on your ship and you lost a denture? Do you
think the captain would say, 'Stop the battle. Let Lieutenant
Doyle find his dentures?"' He says, "You'll have to get those
in there in place in order to qualify physically for a commission
in the navy." He went across the street and volunteered with
the Marines. And he was with the Marines on Guadalcanal. .
P: They took him with his dentures.
L: They took him with his weakened dentures. He fought all through
P: Well, what did you teach on campus with the students gone?
L: In the spring of '41, the students were going fast at that
time, but we still had a lot of students. I was asked if I
would become the administrator of the merit system program
for the health agencies in Florida. So I gave up some of my
university load, agreed to be on half-time during the war
years and half-time with the state Board of Health and the
Crippled Children's Commission. It turned out that I was on
full-time with both of them.
P: Where were the offices for these other agencies?
L: We set it up downtown.
P: In Gainesville?
L: In Gainesville.
P: The Seagle Building?
L: No, it was not a university building. It was hardly this big,
with a desk right here and a secretary and I had a desk over
P: I hope we'll be able to transfer that verbal description.
L: Well, there were two desks in the room and I occupied one and
my secretary occupied another. I spent practically every
weekend of the war years in Jacksonville; leaving the campus
Friday noon or Friday afternoon and working Saturday and
sometimes Sundaymorning in Jacksonville, and then coming
back to Gainesville. Then the next week the same way.
P: On the train?
L: No, by bus.
P: Now you taught on the campus even with the declining enrollment.
P: The pressures for teaching, perhaps, were declining also.
L: Oh, yes. There were very few students there in '42 and then
they had the SATC, I believe it was --Student Army Training
Corps, or something like that.
P: All right, I'k like to know about that.
L: Kenneth Williams, whom I had known in college, a Tallahassee-
Monticello boy, came down from the University of Georgia to be
director of the SATC in Tallahassee. His wife, Selma Reynolds
of Ocala, was a friend of my wife, and Kenneth was a friend
of mine, so we saw a lot of them during the war years. He'd