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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Lassie Goodbread Black
INTERVIEWER: Gayle Yamada
March 1, 1984
Y: This is Gayle Yamada interviewing Mrs. Lassie Goodbread Black at the
Goodbread-Black house, which is on State Road 246 between state roads 41
and 441, ten miles north of Lake City. The date is March first, 1984. I'm
talking to Mrs. Black because she was the first woman student in agriculture
at the University of Florida, in 1925. [Mrs. Black's husband, Arthur
Keith Black, known as A.K. Black, sat in on the interview.] First of all,
can you give me your full name and the spelling of it?
B:; Lassie Goodbread Black.
Y: Where are your parents from?
B: My father was born and raised right here on this same spot where we are
Y: And your mother?
B: Pocahontas, Tennessee.
Y: What is your father's full name?
B: Augustus Sessions Goodbread.
Y: And how about your mother?
B: Nettie Moore.
Y: What was your father's occupation?
B: He was a farmer and a businessman. He raised a large farm, had log carts
and did a lot of timber. He had a general merchandise store, a fertilizer
warehouse, two cotton gins, and a gristmill. This looked like a little
town back when I was a child.
Y: Did your mother also work, or did she work on the farm?
B: No, my mother was a schoolteacher when my father married her. She was also
a music teacher, but she didn't work after they married.
Y: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
B: One brother, one sister. And then I had a half-brother and a half-sister
by my father's first marriage. After their mother died he married my mother.
Y: How old was your brother?
B: Which brother?
Y: Why don't you give me their names and the years in which they were born?
B: I only had one real brother, and that was James Talliferro Goodbread. He
was born in June, 1910. I think it was the tenth.
Y: Who was next? You or your sister?
B: I was first. I was born on August 24, 1904. My sister was born November
the tenth, I believe, and three years later--she would be born in 1907.
And my brother...
Y: What was her name?
B: She was Thelma Lucille Goodbread.
Y: Of your brothers and sisters,were you the only one that went to college?
B: No. I was the only one that went to the University of Florida. My sister
is a graduate from Florida State College for Women. She's done studies at
other universities like Columbia and numbers of other universities. She
was one of the first state directors of the school lunch program in Florida
and she's a well-known nutritionist.
Y: What did your mother teach when she taught school?
B: Oh, I have...I don't know which grade, one of the grades. Back then it
was grade school. She taught music.
Y: So education was pretty highly valued in your family?
B: Oh yes.
Y: Was it expected for all of you to go on to higher education once you fin-
ished grammar school and high school?
B: You are right. It was a must.
Y: If you were encouraged to go to school, was there any encouragement in
which direction you should go, what kinds of things you should be studying,
or was that left open to you?
B: Left open to me.
Y: What is your occupation now?
B: Homemaker. Community worker (smile).
Y: What were the years that you were affiliated with the University of Florida?
B: I registered in September, 1925. I dropped out of school, uh 19...
A.K. BLACK: (interrupts but unintelligible)
B: February of '26. Went back to Florida State College for Women for a sem-
ester, then decided that was just too much to be separated from Mr. Black,
and so then I went back to the University of Florida, uh, 19 (pause) '39
and '40. I graduated the year '39 and '40.
Y: I think we need to back up a little bit. Why don't you tell me about going
to the University of Florida? You were originally at the Florida State
College for Women?
B: I went my first three years at Florida State College for Women. I was
majoring in home economics. I was a junior in home economics.
Y: Why did you even go to the University of Florida? It was a pretty radical
move at that point.
B: (smile) So Mr. Black and I could get married.
Y: Tell me a little more about that.
B: My mother, I was not twenty-one. And back then your parents had to sign
in order for you to get married if you weren't twenty-one. And my mother
said she would never sign until I was twenty-one if I hadn't finished, if
I dropped out of school. So in the spring of 1925, the legislature passed
a law saying that any woman that wanted to study courses that were not of-
fered at the Florida State College for Women could now go to the Universi-
ty of Florida. So Mr. Black thought that was an opportunity for me not
to have to drop out of school and we could get married.
Y: (laugh) So you started going to Florida State College for Women in 1920?
B: No, 1923.
Y: And then you, um...
B: '22 and '23.
Y: You had the opportunity to continue your education if you changed your
major, and got married. And that's why you did that?
Y: That was in 1925, then, that you first went?
B: To the University of Florida.
Y: Where were you living at that time?
B: In Waldo. When I was going to the University of Florida.
Y: Before then, when you were going to Florida State College for Women, you
were living in Tallahassee, and then you moved to Waldo and got married?
B: We were living in, we weren't living in Tallahassee.
A.K. BLACK: Not we, darling, she asked you where you were in Tallahassee,
Bryan Hall, or wherever you lived.
B: Well before I married I lived in Bryan Hall. After I married they would
not allow a married woman to live in the dormitory, so I lived about two
blocks from the college with Mr. and Mrs. Reese.
Y: I think we need to back up a little bit more, because I'm getting a little
bit confused. You and Mr. Black met in 1921.
A.K. BLACK: No, later than that.
Y: How did you meet?
B: I was in college at the Florida State College for Women, and a dear friend,
Mrs. Frank Ives, was like a mother to both of us. Back then we travelled
to and from Lake City to Tallahassee by train. We didn't have paved roads
or buses. So Mrs. Frank Ives, our mutual friend, had made arrangements
to meet me at the train to bring me out to the country to the farm where
I lived. Somehow she had, I guess, made arrangements with Mr. Black to
be there also. And so he was at the train and met me. And Mr. and Mrs.
Ives and we, well, I guess you came on out to the farm here with me as I
remember, from the train with Mrs. Ives. I don't know how long you stayed
or anything like that (laugh), but that was our first real get-together.
Y: What year was that?
B: 1923, I think. Would be about June, 1923.
Y: Was Mr. Black going to the University of Florida then?
Y: So, how did the romance blossom? There must have been some kind of tea
dances or some kind of....
B: No. They didn't have thinks like that (laugh). We were engaged the third
date. Believe it or not. But we didn't stay engaged more than about a
year. He never wanted me to go to the University of Florida to the dances
(laugh), and so he had one of my good friends, Countra Verne, as his date.
And she came back, she told me she was wearing his pin, so we were broken
up about a year during that time. Because if she was wearing his pin I
didn't want one. I didn't want his pin (laugh). Kappa, he was a Kappa
Y: Why didn't he want you to go to the University of Florida dances?
B: You ask him that (laugh). I think you'd better let him answer that.
Y: Tell me then, what was your, before you went to the, actually enrolled in
the University of Florida, or before you moved down to Waldo, what was
your, when you were at Florida State College for Women, when did you ever
go to the University of Florida, or did you?
B: I didn't go to the University of Florida.
Y: Not even for some, no social affair, or...
B: Nothing. No.
Y: There was no reason for you to go there?
B: No reason, period. I came back home. In the summer.
Y: Then what happened? How did it come about that you and Mr. Black started
seeing each other again?
B: Like I told you,we were mar--we were engaged that same weekend. That we
met. Then our courtship was mainly by letters to and from. And every
few months he would get with friends in an old jalopy Ford and with the
unpaved roads, and come to Tallahassee to see me.
Y: Did you ever go down to Gainesville to see him?
B: No. Just before we were married I did. He wanted a picture, and was
living with one of our best friends, Mrs. Gus McGriff. So he wanted me
to come down there to get a picture made. That was the only weekend that
I ever went there.
Y: What happened after the legislature passed this law that, for the winter
term, women could go? Then did you consider going?
B: He contacted me immediately, and said he was coming up here to see my moth-
er, and talk to my mother about it. He convinced her that I could go
on, not give up my work, but go on to the University of Florida and get
Y: Was your mother afraid that you wouldn't finish your education if you.were
to get married?
B: That's right.
Y: Why? Because you would start to have children?
B: I don't know why. She just felt like that she didn't want anything in the
world to keep me from getting my degree.
Y: Were you as determined as she was?
B: I think so.
Y: Then what happened once you decided and once your mother was convinced
that you could go to the University of Florida and get married? How did
that come about? What did you...
B: There were only a few weeks between the time that I came home from school
and the time we were married. We married June 20, 1925, so you see, it
was only a matter of a few weeks. During that time I was trying to get
some clothes and console my mother. She wept for about three weeks (laugh).
She wasn't very happy.
Y: Did you get married here in Lake City?
B: I got married at this dear friend's house, Mrs. um. My mother did not
want to go to the wedding. She just said I will not see you at the wed-
ding, I'm going to, Mrs. Franke Ives made all your dates and everything
possible. She said that I want you to be married at Mrs. Ives house. She
will know what to do and I don't. Mrs. Frank Ives lived at Lake City.
She was an art teacher at the University of Florida. She was very inter-
ested in both of us getting our degrees because he was a--he didn't have
mother or father, his parents had died, and my father had died. My mother
felt very insecure about dating and things like that for young people.
Y: But she was convinced that you would be able to finish your education
and that's why she went ahead and let you get married?
B: Yes, she had to go in and sign a, I don't know what the papers were called,
but back then the parents had to sign for a girl if she wasn't twenty-one.
And she went in and signed the papers.
Y: Where did you live after you got married?
B: We lived about three blocks from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Y: Did you move there right after you got married? So that was in June that
you were living there?
B: Yes. In June.
Y: What did you do in the months before you went to the University of Florida?
Before you actually enrolled?
B: We both worked for McCrary Publishing Company (publisher of the morning
newspaper). At the time we were married, he was the advertising manager
for McCrary Publishing Company, and they offered him a raise if I would
join him and, and go with him to the different towns like High Springs,
Archer, Trenton, Newberry, and get the social news. So I worked during
that summer getting the social news while he got the advertising.
Y: So you were living in Gainesville, not going to the university yet, and
just commuting to all these different towns around Gainesville?
B: That's right. It was our real honeymoon. We had a lot of fun with this.
We would go to the stores and get crackers and sardines and all kind of
picnic type things. Then when the noon hour arrived we would pull under
some beautiful tree and have our picnic lunch. During that entire summer
we had a lot of fun.
Y: When did you enroll and register at the University of Florida?
B: I guess it would be September of 1925. I don't remember the exact date.
Y: Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like to register?
B: The registration fee was thirty-one dollars. Mr. Black took me to the, I
don't remember the name of the building. It was the education building
anyhow, and there was a line of boys a block long, lined up ready to go
in and get registered. But I fell in line, and worked my way on up to the
window. I'm sorry I can't remember the registrar's name. But anyway,
when I got to the window, he looked at me like he thought I was a nut or
crazy or something, and he said, "Step aside, lady! Step aside, lady! This
isn't summer school." See women could go during the summer but not during
the winter months. So I did step aside. And, of course my feelings were
crushed. And I went right straight back and contacted Mr. Black, and he
said, "We'll not take that for an answer. We're going to see Dr. Murphree,"
and he greeted us with open arms--put his arms around me, and said, "Don't
cry, daughter, just wait. We'll work things out." So he evidently called
the registrar, and he said, "Everything's all right. You just go right
back down and you'll be registered." And that's the way I registered.
Y: How did you decide on the College of Agriculture?
B: Well, because it was not being taught at Florida State College for Women,
and I had been a 4-H club girl since I was ten years old. Agriculture was
just a natural subject for me, and I loved it. Anything dealing with farm
Y: When you originally made your decision, was it on the basis of what you
were going to do with a degree in agriculture?
B: Well, I don't suppose necessarily so, but I was just interested in the
field and a degree was what I was working for, and it had to be a subject
that wasn't taught at Florida State College for Women. Agriculture fit
Y: After you got married, or before you got married, were you planning to
work or were you planning to have a family?
B: Well, naturally, we hadn't made any definite decisions. We hoped to have
a family, and I hadn't thought much about working because I didn't have a
degree. But I did go to work before I finished my college degree.
Y: On your transcript here, it looks like you were a real good student. You
got almost all A's and B's, just a couple of C's. The first semester that
you were there you took one course in the college, which was Plant Propog-
ation, and the rest were English and journalism courses. Were you allowed
to take as many other courses as long as you just took one in the college?
B: That's right. Dr. Murphree told me that, "You go in and register for some
subject in some college not taught at Florida State College for Women, and
then sister, you take anything else you want." So naturally I went right
on into Shakespeare and other subjects that I had a real interest in. And
journalism was one of them.
Y: Were you the only woman in your classes?
B: Yes. Except in agriculture. In Landscape Design and Horticulture there
were four other women beside me.
Y: Do you know how many other women were in the entire college? Was it just
the five of you?
B: No, I would not. But I know they were in law. None were in journalism at
that particular time. But there were women in law college definitely, my
Y: What was it like? Can you describe, for example, one of the first days you
walked into a class and all you saw in class were men? It was the first
time you were in a class then where you were the only woman, or there were
only a couple of other women in your class.
B: I think I might have been a little timid, but it never did bother me. I
always got a front seat, right in front of the professor.
Y: Because they left it for you or because you were there before anybody
B: I usually arrived early.
Y: Did you do that just because of the kind of person you are, or because you
were afraid of not getting a seat?
B: No. I just wanted to be toward the front, and I felt like the nearer I
was to the professor, why I thought the better off I'd be.
Y: When you first started going to school, did any of the boys have comments
for you when you walked into class, or just walked around campus?
B: Not a single one. Especially in agriculture and journalism and Shakespeare.
Those three courses. I met some very congenial boys. In fact, the famous
John Watkins, can't think of his first name now, he's quite famous at the
University of Florida, has written many books and bulletins. But anyway,
he and I were grafting in agriculture. I had many good friends under Dr.
Charlie Abbott, who was one of the teachers. The boys always helped me
when I was doing something like a t-graft. If they could do it quicker or
better, or if I could, then we helped each other. When I was studying for-
estry we went out to the, I believe it's Cory Cary Forest out on the Waldo
Road. When I went back in 1939 to get my degree, I had my three children.
One was in the first grade, one in kindergarten, and my baby was five months
old. I arranged my schedule so that I could come back home and nurse my
baby. I nursed allimy babies until they were one year old, that was their
birthday present. They had to go eating and drinking like a grown child.
At the (Gary) McCrary Forest we'd go out to measure timber and to take
samples and study the forest. The boys insisted that I bring the children.
I had a car, and I would take the children, and the boys just got a kick
out of the kids. They were almost spoiled rotten because of the way the
boys appreciated them. I was fortunate enough to be able to take my maid
with me to Gainesville, and when the children would get out of school, the
baby was the main one she looked after because I picked the others up from
their classes. The youngest child went to P.K. Yonge, and the maid stayed
with the baby and took care of her there.
Y: I want to ask you more about that, but I want to back up a minute first.
When you first walked in the class, did most of the people in your class,
did most of the men in your class know that you were married?
B: Oh yes. Because I was Mrs. Black.
Y: Is that what they called you in class?
Y: They didn't call you Lassie, they called you Mrs. Black?
B: After they got to know me they'd call me by my name, Lassie Black.
Y: So you never had any, nobody asking you out?
B: Never had, a date, if that's what you mean (laugh).
Y: Did you ever feel like you were treated either more favorably or less fav-
orably because you were a woman?
B: I think sometimes favorably.
Y: By the students or by the professors?
B: Both students and professors. In every class, I had really great people,
great men, and wonderful professors.
Y: In what ways do you think that you were treated more favorably?
B: Well, the boys would be polite. We'd go to the forest or something, open
the car doors, or just like gentlemen. Conversation and otherwise.
Y: Did you find any boys particularly shy because you were competing with
them in an academic atmosphere rather than socially?
B: No, I helped lots of them with their own homework. Sometimes they'd want
to come to the house and, get my answers to questions, or what my thoughts
were on subjects, and it was real friendship.
Y: This first semester were you still living in that two-story house in Gaines-
B: No, we moved to Waldo when we started school and Mr. Black and another
friend operated what was known as an Idle Hour Ice Cream Parlor, and I
helped what little I could. This was way back before I had the children.
I had the children during the time I dropped out of school, and then went
back in '39.
Y: Did you ever feel like you were given grades, or that you were treated
more favorably in terms of grades?
B: No. I had to do my share, regardless of what it was.
Y:: Did you ever feel that you were penalized?
B: No, not by my, really and truly, I think back on the University and the
professors, the dear Major Floyd who is the, and Dr. Charlie Abbott, and
Dr....the jornalism teacher, I can't think of his name now. Dr. Armstrong.
What was his first name? O.K. Armstrong. He was later a senator, or some
ranking political office when he left the university. And I had dear Dr.
Fall for Shakespeare and English. All of those professors were just giant
men in my opinion.
Y: Did you have to apply to the University of Florida by filling out a form?
Y: And paying a fee?
B: Sure. My fee was $31 to register the first semester.
Y: I'm talking about the admission process, before you registered.
B: I don't think.
Y: When you were living in Waldo that first semester, how did you commute
(A.K. Black requests tape machine to be shut-off)
Y: So let's backtrack a minute. That first semester you lived in Gainesville
and you just walked to school?
B: Yes. I drove sometimes. I learned to drive a car that year.
Y: When you went to the University, many of the facilities must have just
been made for men at that point, like the bathrooms. Did you ever have
any problems using them?
B: No, because there were secretaries in every building I went to, and the
women had separate facilities everywhere. Of course there were, all the
professors had one or two secretaries.
Y: Were you on a special program? The first two years men went to the Univ-
ersity of Florida, they were supposed to participate in a ROTC program.
B: No, Mr. Black was in Officer Training Corps, and I used to thoroughly
enjoy going out to the drill field after school and watching them drill.
and, and they had a cavalry patrol. I just envied the men. I wanted to
get on a horse and ride so bad (laugh) I didn't know what to do. A horse
was my love on a farm.
Y: Were there any special provisions for girls? Were you exempted from ROTC?
Y: Can you think of any other kind of speical provisions for girls?
Y: Did you have to take gym?
Y: Did the boys have to take gym?
B: Not that I know of.
(tape stopped at Mr. Black's request; he said he had to take gym)
Y: Your transcript shows that your first semester was in 1925 and '26, and
your second semester was in 1928 and '29. What happened between 1926 and
B: Between '26 and '28 we both dropped out of school and moved to Waldo, Flo-
rida, and operated what was known as the Idle Hour Ice Cream Parlor. Those
were the years of the Florida bust, so to speak, the (beginning of the)
Depression (in Florida.)
Y: From '25 to '26, the winter term you went to the University of Florida,
you took a semester at the Florida State College for Women, dropped out
of school until 1928, when you went back to the University of Florida
rather than back to Florida State College for Women?
B: Because I wanted to get back to my field, and so Mr. Black and I could be
Y: At that point were you still living in Waldo, that second term that you
went back to the University of Florida?
B: No, we moved back to Gainesville.
Y: Where did you live in Gainesville?
B: I really don't know the, I really don't know what street it was, it was
not far from the Thomas Hotel (White House Hotel?).
Y: So you could walk to school?
B: No. It was too far. I commuted by car. He was in law school, and I was
back in my agriculture and journalism.
Y: And I see from your transcript that you picked up a whole lot more agricul-
B: That's right.
Y: Was that because you needed those requirements to graduate, or because
your interest had grown more?
Y: You took your second semester in 1928 or '29. And then left school again
B: Yes. Mr. Black had graduated from law, and there was a vacancy over here
(Columbia County) for county extension agent. (Tape cuts off.)
Y: That cut off in the middle of your last question. Why don't we go back
to your second semester there in 1929. What did you do then?
B: We moved to Lake City and I was home demonstration agent. There was a va-
cancy here, and I was qualified for the position, and Mr. Black had just
graduated and started practicing law, and so I served as home demonstration
Y: What made you decide to go back to school after you had been working as a
home demonstration agent?
B: Mr. Black and I both promised my mother if she'd let us get married that
I would never drop out of school until I got my degree. And there was a
long space in-between that when, if you'll notice the years, before I went
back. But anyway, I was home demonstration agent and I had taught school
in a little village called Mason City. (tape is shut off)
Y: Your husband graduated from law school in 1929?
Y: And then you went back, and from 1929 to 1932 you worked...
B: As rehabilitation agent. I don't remember the exact title, but I worked
with Depression people. The rural schools did not even have sanitary toi-
lets. They didn't have drinking facilities. They drank out of dippers.
One of my first big projects was trying to get sanitary toilets in old
schools in the county, and in the courthouse to get rid of the common
bucket and the gourd dipper.
Y: In getting any of these jobs, was there any consideration that you had
taken some classes at the University of Florida?
B: I'm certain. I could not have gotten the job if I hadn't had my home
economics training at Florida State College for Women and my agriculture
training. The two ran together because both of my jobs were jobs that
needed the qualifications that I had.
Y: Then in 1932-33 you took another semester. You resigned in '32. What did
it mean that you resigned rather than just dropped out for a while?
B: Before that I had been, that was in the Depression years, and Mr. Black
was a real young lawyer and we both needed to work. I had an opportunity
to operate a big farm west of Lake City. And reforestation was just be-
Y: Where was this?
B: West of Lake City four miles. It then known as Parkwood, and now it's al-
most part of the city. Gleason's Mall and that west Lake City is the area
now. I operated this big farm for three years, and I did a lot of reforestation.
I planted big acreage, about forty acres in tung oil, there
were a lot of animals. We sold pigs at four cents a pound. We raised
hogs and cows and turkeys, and it's unbelievable the prices we were paid.
It's just unbelievable the prices that we had to sell things for.
Y: So this was about until 1935?
A.K. BLACK: 1934, probably.
B: Probably about 1934.
Y: Then what did you do?
B: I stayed there until I went back to school is my recollection. Just cut
a minute, he's saying no.
Y: Wait, go back to the last event. That's right. The first child.
A.K. BLACK: So now we're in...
Y: Okay, we're in about 1934 now. There was five years then before you went
B: That's right.
Y: What were you doing then?
B: 1934 is right. Mr. Black had gotten pretty well established and decided
he wanted to run for state's attorney, and in the meantime his grandmother
and grandfather were very old people and they wanted us to buy their home,
which we did, and we started raising our family. Our first child was born
Y: What was her name?
B: Carolyn Lucille Davis.
Y: Then how about your second and third daughters?
B: Second child was born in 1937. And the third daughter in 1939, and she
was the little baby that I carried to the University of Florida to go
back and get my degree.
Y: What happened to Carolyn, and what was your second daughter's name?
B: Nettie. She married a very prominent pediatrician. They both graduated
from Florida State College for Women. They both attended the University
of Florida as summer students.
Y: How about your third daughter's name?
B: My third daughter is Edna Ray Black. And the Ray is for the dear lady
that made our acquaintance and where we were married and where we had our
Y: What's the middle name of your second daughter?
B: Nettie Norma (Black) Ozaki.
Y: When you decided to back to the University of Florida for the third time,
you were a mother of three children. That must have been pretty difficult
B: No, I didn't commute. We got a lovely duplex two blocks from P.K. Yonge.
I had one child, and I believe she was in the first grade. One was in se-
cond grade or third grade. No, one was in first grade, and one was in
P.K. Yonge kindergarten, and my baby was five months old.
Y: When did you move to Gainesville?
B: Didn't move back. I commuted on the weekends. We had the home that we
bought from his grandparents, and on the weekends I would go back to Lake
Y: Where was your husband living at this point?
B: He was state's attorney, and he was in whatever county he had court. He
was state's attorney in five counties. Seven counties in this whole area,
and he would be in court. And while he was in court, I was in school.
Y: What made you decide to return to school this last time around?
B: Because we both gave our promise to my mother that I would never drop out
of school until I got my degree. So he came in one day with the announce-
ment that, "You're going back to school. I've made arrangements and I've
gotten a duplex apartment, and just start thinking and getting ready to
pack because you're going back to school to get that degree. Your mother
is dead now and won't know it, but my conscience will be clear."
Y: (laugh) That's certainly honor.
B: Cut it.
(tape was stopped, then re-started)
Y: This last year when you were going to the University of Florida, your
children were living with you and the four of you would go to Lake City
where you would meet your husband on the weekends.
B: That's right.
Y: At this point, you had a car that you were driving?
B: Yes. I had a car and he had a car.
Y: That's particularly for those times, that's pretty well off to be able to
B: We weren't well off, but anyway, we struggled to do it because we had,
like I say, promised my mother I would never stop school until I got my
(Mr. Black later noted that although they had two cars at the time, the apart-
ment in which they lived in Lake City was a one-room place and they'd warm
themselves over the same hot plate in the center of the room that they'd
Y: What did you do with your children during the days when you had to be in
school? You had one daughter who was in kindergarten...
B: One was in the first grade. I-think that one was in kindergarten, and my
baby stayed at home with the maid until I got.there. But as I think I
told you, I nursed all of my children until they were one year old. On
their first birthday they were weaned. I arranged my schedule so that I
could leave classes and come home and nurse the baby and then go back to
my next class. On the weekends when I would come home I would bring back
young men who were going to the University of Florida, too. A very prom-
inent judge here, Judge Wallace Joplin, rode with me. Mr. Jack Herndon,
and, I don't know the other Lake City boys. They were just like a big fam-
ily. They would come to the house and play with the babies, or come to
the house with their school problems. Jack Herndon especially, because he
was taking some agriculture, and I was a little further advanced than Jack,
but I helped him with his studies.
Y: You must have...
(tape apprently turned off at this point and re-started)
Y: The boys in your class obviously treated you differently then, because you
were a mother. You're not very much of a threat. They don't have to think
about asking you out, or anything like that because you're already taken
in a sense, plus you have kids.
B: Yes, the last two times that I went back surely they kind of looked up to
me for advice, motherly advice. I wasn't old, by any means, but I was
still married and had children. Still they'd drop by the house and have
a cup of coffee and a cookie, piece of cake or something (laugh).
Y: So your relationship with them was more congenial, and it was more relaxed.
B: That's right. And to play with the children. See they were away from
their families and some of them just really enjoyed seeing the children.
Y: Were most of your classmates about the same age as you or were most of them
younger than you?
B: Younger. But when I first went there they were all about my age. When I
went back with the three kids, I was much older.
Y: How did your children react to having a mother in school this whole time?
B: Oh, they enjoyed it. It was fun.
Y: Do you remember there being any kind of...
B: I was out of school at the same time that they were. When they were in
school, I was in school. My schedule was arranged so that the minute they
were due to get out of school, I could go to their school and pick them
up. I was with my children more then than most, a lot more (chuckle) than
most mothers are now.
Y: Where would you do your studying? Would you go to the library, would you
go to class, did you have special study sessions?
B: I did not have to go to the library many times. I did my work in the day-
time in the library. When I had a class and I had a vacant period inbe-
tween, if I didn't have to come to the house to see about something, I'd
go to the library and do my work so I didn't have to go at night.
Y: Did you try to do it during the day so that you would have your time in
the evening with your kids?
B: That's right.
Y: Do any of your classes stick out in your mind as being either particularly
good or particularly bad?
B: No. I enjoyed my landscape design courses more than anything else. I had
Dr. A.B. Bird. He was a great teacher. I naturally loved landscape de-
sign and horticulture, and so they stand out I guess more. I had Major
Floyd and Dr. Harold Hume, all of, if you'll study the history, you'll no-
tice that they were all great people.
Y: Let's talk a little bit about your involvement in any kind of non-academic
things? Were there any kind of honorary organizations, or women's organ-
izations, or, they didn't have sororities at that time, any kind of organ-
ization other than class?
B: I don't know of anything. Back then they didn't have any women's organi-
zations. They had a little University Women's Club that I joined, but
then I didn't go because they always met at night and I wouldn't go at
night because I was with the children.
Y: How was your first semester, that you were enrolled in 1925, different
from the last semester when you were going fifteen years later in 1940?
B: I didn't notice any, don't remember any particular difference.
Y: Do you remember there being more women around, or more women being treated
B: Yes, there were a good more many women, but I don't notice any difference
in the treatment.
Y: When you first started going in 1925, did you have a dress code?
B: A dress code?
Y: Yes, could you, I mean you couldn't wear slacks?
B: Well, women didn't wear slacks back then.
Y: Was there anything written that you had to wear a skirt, or that you had
to have your arms covered, or anything like that?
B: Nothing like that.
Y: So you could wear anything...
B: Anything you wanted to, but back then women didn't wear bare backs and no
sleeves and short skirts. It just wasn't a dress code back in those years.
Y: Was there a difference fifteen years later when you finally finished at the
University of Florida in how women were dressing? Obviously they were
wearing a little different clothing because it was a sign of the times.
B: Little different, but it was just like the the average person would wear
on the street, or to church, and things. No very big difference that I
can remember from '25 to '39.
Y: Did you have any counseling when you were at the University of Florida?
Y: Either academic or personal?
Y: Were there any kind of provisions...
B: Yes. When I started to get my degree, we had counseling. When war was
declared I was in the middle of a conference, and I remember Dr. Turling-
ton's father was my teacher, and we when they came in to announce, there
was a little radio at the University in the Ag building (Floyd Hall), and
they came in to announce in his class that war had been declared. Of
course this was World War Two, and we got real excited about it, and that
was when we were having our examination for our degrees.
Y: What kind of counseling was it?
B: Just individual counseling with your teacher. He'd ask you questions and
you had a certain written assignments to turn in. Now you're talking
about the University of Florida. When I did my graduate work at Emory Un-
iversity, I went the thesis route.
Y: Do you remember any concern for your status as a woman, and there not being
very many women? In any of the counseling sessions, did any of your pro-
fessors (telephone rings) ever call you aside and talk to you about your
being different or special?
B: No, they were just all courteous and appreciative, and...
(tape turned off for Mrs. Black to talk on telephone)
Y: We were talking about any kind of counseling that you-got. Did any of
your teachers ever say anything to you about your particular status as a
Y: Any concern for any problems you might be facing?
B: No, not that I can ever recall.
Y: You don't recall any kind of special treatment in any way? I don't mean
special as in preferential, but just, well, here you are, Lassie Black,
you're a woman, and we don't have any women, so if we're going to be bring-
ing more women to the University of Florida maybe we ought to make some
kind of special provisions.
B: The only thing I remember is the Gainesville Sun, or the Lake or the
McCrary News, I don't remember which, came out for an interview for me
being the first woman to graduate from the College of Agriculture. But
when they started talking about this Hall of Fame, for the first women
that graduated from the University of Florida, I was told that two other
women had graduated prior to me. Well, if I had the time, I could dig out
a newspaper article that was, kind of a feature story on me being the
Y: So you think there were two other women who graduated before you did?
(Catherine Walton-1936 Law College)
B: Well, I was told that.
Y: You may have been the first women to enter, to enter the College of....
B: That's probably what they meant. When I graduated this article came out
in the paper, not when I entered.
(tape turned off and re-started)
Y: What was your relationship at this point to any of the fraternities? There
were obviously no sororities on campus.
B: No relations at all. Except the fact that he (A.K. Black) was a Kappa Sig-
ma. He were president of the chapter at the time I married, and we spent
a good bit of time in and around the house.
Y: What did you do for a social life during that last year? Was it spent
mostly with your children?
B: Yes. Any time I had left we'd go to the museum or a picnic, and we didn't
have much time by the time we commuted back and forth on the weekends.
Y: Who were your friends during your first years of college at the University
B: (laugh) Didn't have the time for many friends. The students were friends.
I had no social life in Gainesville, if that's what you're referring to.
I spent my time in class, with my children, or with the some of the stud-
ents coming around to study.
Y: How about the girls who were students, as well as boys who were students?
You said the boys would come and they liked to play with your kids. How
B: There weren't any girls because they were in law and other schools that I
wasn't interested in and wasn't around.
Y: So you were really in, a kind of sense, you were kind of isolated.
A.K. BLACK: Cut it off.
(tape stopped then restarted)
B: In my social life I definitely associated with some students. Miss Ethel
Lyon Fripp who was in landscape design and horticulture, and Miss Burton.
We visited in her home in Leesburg, I believe. They had a big orange
grove, and a very unusual and fine orange had been developed there.
Y: What was Miss Burton's first name?
B: I'm sorry, I can't remember. Her first name.
A.K. BLACK: Who?
B: Miss Burton.
(tape stopped and restarted)
Y: What kind of discipline was there for women at the University of Florida
during those early days?
B: Nothing that I knew of.
Y: Were you aware of any kind of curfews, or any kinds of codes that were
put out for women?
B: No. Not that I knew of. Of course, I didn't live in a dormitory. There
wasn't any dormitory space for women back then.
Y: What were the biggest differences between going to the University of Florida
and Florida State College for Women other than the kind of classes
that you were taking?
B: My freshman year at Florida State College for Women I was elected freshman
commission girl, which was part of the student government. I was respon-
sible for my whole hall, old Reynolds hall that year, and Bryan Hall. The
social life was the same. It was mainly YMCA. When I was at Florida State
College for Women, Mr. Black would come to see me, and we had to have a
chaperone within sight of us...
Y: Even when you were married?
B:: ...before we were married, and we couldn't get away from the seats
in the sunken gardens in front of Bryan Hall. Then we girls couldn't go
uptown without chaperones, usually three or four girls and a chaperone.
We had to sign out to go uptown, sign out to come back in, and, of course
you had to register your date and he had certain hours that he had to come
and certain hours that he had to leave the campus. None of that was true
at the University of Florida while I was there.
Y: So it was a lot stricter going to a girls school than going to a coed
B: Yes. Much stricter.
Y: Why do you think that is? Do you think it was because they had never
worked with girls and didn't know what kind of rules to make? Why was
the University of Florida less strict than Florida State College for
B: I was married, and I think they felt like I didn't have to be under super-
Y: How about other women?
B: I don't know. I didn't know of any restrictions they had.
Y: Did you ever hear of any women being disciplined for anything?
B: This was true even to go to church. You couldn't go to church or Sunday
school without chaperone, and two or three girls going along with you.
Also, smoking was an unheard of thing. We had one girl, Helen Hunt West,
she was later a famous columnist, was expelled from school because she
was caught smoking a cigarette. When my girls went to school, they had
regular smoking rooms, and in order to smoke, they had to go and smoke in
that one little room. But now you smoke anywhere you want to.
Y: Do you ever remember being disciplined or called aside by either any indi-
vidual professor, or a dean, or anyone like that?
Y: You must have been pretty much a model student then.
B: Oh, I was a model student all right, because I used to model for the arts
classes. I had long black hair, and that was where I made some of my
spending money. They always wanted me to spend any spare hours in the.
art department and be a model.
Y: How else did you earn money while you were in school? Were there a lot
of jobs for students, or were you in kind of a different position?
B: No. Most of the students that could afford it had their own money. But
I worked my way through school. I had a dining room scholarship and worked
my way through school until I got married.
(tape turned off and restarted)
Y: So when you were at the University of Florida did you work at the university?
B: Only for a short time, when we were commuting from Waldo to Gainesville.
We were still running that ice cream parlor.
Y: Other than that then, and particularly the last year, you were a full-time
mother and student?
B: I didn't have children then.
Y: During your last semester were you a full-time mother and student?
Y: How did the town change from the first time you went there and when you
graduated in 1940? Were there any different services, were there more
stores, like women's clothing stores, or were there any kind of provisions
for more women being at the University of Florida?
B: Not that I could recall. I don't, can't think of any changes. I'm certain
the town grew more. They didn't have the old train running up and down
the main street of Gainesville my last semester there. That I can recall.
When I first went there they had the train that ran up and down the main
Y: Okay, but not in terms of the town getting ready to take on more eighteen,
twenty, and twenty-two-year-old women?
B: No, I can't recall any changes.
Y: When you think back to your days at the University of Florida, what kinds
of things stick out in your mind?
B: I guess attending classes, and quite a different atmosphere from where I
had been living. We didn't have any big social events back then. One of
the big things we'd do would be to go swimming or to a dance on the week-
ends. We used to go to the name of the little old place to go dancing out
from Waldo where Jerry McGill lived. But to go to a dance and go swimming
were the main things we did.
Y: When you said the atmosphere was different how would you describe the dif-
ference in atmosphere at the University of Florida from Florida State College?
B: Well, I had more freedom. I wasn't on any restrictions at the University
of Florida, period. But at Tallahassee I was on plenty of restrictions,
just like every other girl.
Y: How did you feel about that, knowing that the boys didn't have restrictions
that the girls had?
B: It didn't cross my mind.
Y: How have used your undergraduate degree since you got it?
B: I was a home demonstration agent. Then I worked with a rehabilitation pro-
gram. I taught home economics. Those are the main things, and operating
A.K. Black: Landscape architecture.
B: I've been very active in landscape design. I was local chairman for a
good many years of our local garden clubs. I was appointed the state
chairman of landscape design with Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, and
established the landscape design state school here in Lake City for two
years. I have given a lot of lectures to classes and clubs. I have done
quite a bit of landscaping in and around Lake City, entrances to Lake
City, Lake City Garden Club, Lake City Women's Club, and for the newest
project, I've been asked to landscape the grounds of the Mavens and Perkins
home which we're now restoring.
Y: You've also done some landscaping around your own home.
B: Yes, that would be a major thing that I've done. I have about twenty-six
acres, grounds that are landscaped. I also have a highway that has been
planted in what I call meadowgarden, and I've landscaped at least three-
quarters of a mile of highway with dogwood and other yucca and other land-
(tape apparently stopped and restarted)
B: I've also worked with a lot of youth organizations. My oldest daughter
was state president of the Future Homemakers of America and I've helped
those young people with gardening and landscape problems. I was also a
4-H club local leader for many years. I was a Girl Scout leader for twenty
years, and I've given much time to working with youth organizations, and
being with subjects and materials that I learned at the University.
Handicapped children for many years as well as the 4-H, for normal chil-
A.K. BLACK: Council on Aging.
B: And the Council on Aging, I spearheaded the landscaping of the Council on
Aging building here and entrances to Lake City. Right now we're in the
process of developing the west entrance to Lake City.
Y: Does Lake City name the Garden Center after you?
B: Yes, they've honored me by naming the Lake City Garden Club the Lassie
Black Garden Club.
Y: Were you one of the founding members?
B: Yes, I called the very first meeting over fifty years ago, and I've been
an active member ever since.
Y: This was before you graduated from the University of Florida that you be-
gan the Garden Club.
B: Yes, I started when I was home demonstration agent. We had as many men
come into the Garden Club as we did women, but the men just gradually
dropped out, so it's strictly a women's organization.
Y: How did your mother react to your going to UF then dropping out, then going
B: She understood the situation. She knew it was the Depression. She was a
very understanding person, and she lived with us her last years that she
lived and took a great interest in the farm. She lived with us while I
was operating that big farm and she enjoyed it because she had a big gar-
den, and she could do the things she wanted to do without being tied down
to looking after a big farm, which was this place.
Y: A love of the soil and a love of being outdoors seems to run in your family.
B: Yes, for generations.
Y: Has it gone on to your children?
B: Yes, I have one daughter who is very active in bonsai and gardening, and
another daughter who is quite an active 4-H Club leader and uses her ag-
ricultural knowledge working with those young people.
Y: When you were at the University of Florida, do you remember very much a-
bout the administration changing, or making any kind of provisions for
women as more women were coming in? Either special counseling or special
sessions, or maybe a meeting just for women?
B: Not that I know of.
Y: Did you encourage any of your children to go to the University of Florida?
B: All of them did. Summer schools. All three children. We counted up the
other day how many in our family have been to the University of Florida.
If you'll cut it off, I'll tell you in a few minutes.
We've had twelve members of our family attend the University of Florida.
We had a granddaughter graduate from there last June in occupational ther-
apy, and we were honored at that meeting by having three generations of
our family there. I represented the grandmother, and my daughter, Mrs.
Hal Davis, Carolyn Davis, was the mother of the daughter that was graduat-
ing. And we were honored at the graduation service.
A.K. BLACK: The graduation in December.
(tape apparently turned off and re-started)
Y: Can you think of anything else to tell me about being one of the very first
women ever to attend the University of Florida? Any particular incidents
that you can draw out of your mind? Any particular feelings?
B: No, I think attending the University of Florida made it easy for me to at-
tend Emory University to get my master's degree. I was the only woman in
my classes at Emory. So I didn't feel out of place at all, and I was wel-
come there just like I was here. There were many other women at Emory,
but none in my classes.
Y: When did you receive your master's in education?
(tape apparently stopped then re-started)
Y: What years did you go to Emory?
(tape apparently stopped and re-started)
B: I went to Emory University in 1943 and '44. Having been to the University
of Florida I felt at ease going to Emory University where I was the only
woman in all my classes. But there were many other women in other schools.
Y: What did you get your master's in?
B: Education. Agricultural Education.
Y: What did you concentrate on? What was your thesis on?
B: Having been a home demonstration agent and having been a home
economics teacher, I decided to write my thesis on the changing
patterns of family life because there was such a change in family
life during the war years from what it was prior to the war years.
Y: Have you ever assessed the impact of you being one of the first women
at the University of Florida, and going to college at different
times during two historic periods? One was the depression, the other
World War Two. How do you think those times affected the quality of
B: I do not think it was affected in the sense of my instructors. I
think I had the same wonderful instructors that I would have had
had neither the depression nor the war been in progress. But ask me
that question one more time.
Y: Do you think the quality of your education was affected at all in
1940 because people's minds were no longer really on school? They
were beginning to think about the war, and a lot of boys you knew
must have been thinking about enlisting or, in some way helping the
B: While I was at the University of Florida during the depression it
was nip-and-tuck finances. When I was at Emory University the
financial situation was not comparable with the depression. We had
three children, and I did the same thing with them that I did at
the University of Florida. I had hoped to go on with my home
economics at Emory. That was my goal when we moved there.
I checked into and thought I would to to Agnes Scott when we moved
into Winona Park Street, which was right near Agnes Scott, hoping
that I could take home economics. To my sorrow I learned they did
not even teach home economics. So then we decided that I would go
on to Emory, and we lived quite a distance from Emory. We moved the
next year into Ansley Park to be nearer Emory. I had one kid in
kindergarten, and one kid in about the second or third grade, and
one in about fourth or fifth grade. I had to take three children to
three different schools, and then I would go to Emory.
My schedule worked around my children's schedule. Mr. Black's
schedule, because he was in headquarters and his offices were in the
Grant Building, had to ride the streetcar back, and I would try to
be out of my classes and get home, try to get the meals lined up in
time to go meet the streetcar to bring him home.
Y: Did you ever regret getting a degree in agriculture instead of home
B: No ma'am. I would love to and wish I had my degree in home economics
and I even got a book to study the requirements to get a doctorate. I
was really going to do that, but I been so involved that I decided it
was not worth it.
Y: Did you ever regret transferring to the University of Florida?
B: Going to the University? No, I think it was one of the greatest
things I ever did. It was one of the highlights of my life.
B: I guess it changed my life to a certain extent, but I feel like that
it was just a great event, a great part of my life. I wouldn't change
any part of it.
Y: If you had to do it all over, would you do it the same way?
B: I'd do the same thing I did this time.
Y: You've had so many members of your family go to the University of Florida.
You were the first, and your husband back in the mid 1920s. And
your youngest daughter just graduated. What kinds of differences have
you seen in the treatment of women at the University?
B: The biggest difference that I can see now is that the women and men
live together. We rented apartments in Gainesville as an investment,
and I would have students want to rent an apartment and then their girl-
friend would come want to live there, too. That was a shocking thought
back in 1925, and today it seems that the boys and girls live in the same
dormitories. That was just an unheard of sort of living. Had a girl
done such a thing back in my day, it would--think what happened to that
poor little ole girl when she smoked a cigarette. They kicked her out
of the university! For smoking a cigarette' And then look today--you
can smoke anywhere.
Y: Can you think of anything else that you would want to tell me about your
early days at the University of Florida?
(tape turned off)
Y: So you were never invited to any fraternity functions with your husband?
B: Maybe a dinner or a dance or something like that but not many social
functions. He quit being so active in the fraternity after we got mar-
Y: You went back for that semester at Florida State College for Women.
What was the reaction when you went back to the girls' school coming
from the coed school?
B: I was a curiosity to the faculty and it was unheard of for a married
student to be at school, and I was not allowed to live on campus any
more. I thought I would go back to my same old room, but they didn't
allow married women in the dormitories. So I had to get a room two
blocks off campus with the Reese family.
Y: What was the reaction that you had been going to the University of Florida
as opposed to Florida State College for Women, and then you went
back from the University of Florida? What was the reaction of other
B: They all wanted to know how I liked it, was it a lot of fun, did I
have a lot of dates? And I said, "No, goodness." I was married, I was
not there for dating.
Y: So they were more interested in the social aspect than the academic.
B: That's right.
Y: Well, thank you very much.
B: I think it's been a good interview, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and
hope to get to know you better.