Interview with W. T. Moore, Jr., February 27, 1986

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Interview with W. T. Moore, Jr., February 27, 1986
Moore, W.T. Jr. ( Interviewee )
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University of Florida College of Law Oral History Collection ( local )
University of Florida -- History


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

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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Interviewee: W. T. Moore, Jr.

Interviewer: Denise Stobbie

February 27, 1986



Interviewee: Walter Taylor Moore, Jr.
Interviewer: Denise Stobbie
February 27, 1986

Mr. Moore is a 1918 graudate of the University of Florida
College of Law. During his law career in Florida, he has served
as a county judge, municipal judge, and practicing attorney. He
married Elimo Munn, and they have three sons, Walter III, Edgar,
and Robert, and five grandchildren.

Walter Taylor Moore, Jr., was born near Tallahassee on July
18, 1896. His father operated a dairy, was well read, and was
friends with prominent members of the community. Moore attended
a one-room elementary school in Centerville and then Leon High
School in Tallahassee. Due in part to his parents' influence, he
enrolled in the University of Florida College of Law, where he
graduated three years later, in 1918. He pledged Pi Kappa Alpha
fraternity. His attempts to enter the military service were
thwarted by poor vision in one eye. Still wishing to serve,
Moore spent twenty-five years as an appeal agent for the draft
board in Leon County.

After law school, Moore began his career in the law office
of Fred T. Myers in Tallahassee. In 1923 he was appointed by
Governor Hardee as a county judge. He also was engaged in
private practice as well. In 1937 and again in 1939 Moore
represented Leon County in Florida's House. In 1943 he was
appointed a municipal judge to serve in the absence of John W.
Henderson. Three years later, when Henderson returned from the
war, he joined Henderson in private practice. Eventually two of
Moore's sons, Walter III and Edgar, and Henderson's son-in-law
joined them. In 1968 Moore and his two sons opened their own
practice, along with two other lawyers. His philosophy as a
lawyer is to work out problems with other lawyers to avoid

Moore recounts his law professors at the University: Harry
Trusler, Clifford Randall, E. C. Arnold, and W. L. Summers. He
lived in Thomas Hall and mentions that although there was no air
conditioning, the summer heat was not too severe. Other items of
discussion include eating establishments, church, dress, the John
Marshall Debate Society, and graduation, which was quiet due to
the war effort. Numerous classmates entered the service, and a
few of them were killed in action. Social life included walks,
picnics, hunting, and short trips, as to the Devil's Millhopper.
Excursions to the women's school in Tallahassee were few because
of the condition of the highways and the length of the trip.

S: Please state your full name.

M: Walter Taylor Moore, Jr. [Class of 1918, University of Florida College of
Law, Florida House of Representatives, Leon County, (1937-1941)]

S: And your residence?

M: 429 East Sixth Avenue, Tallahassee.

S: Your date of birth?

M: July 18, 1896.

S: And your birthplace?

M: Leon County.

S: Were you born in Tallahassee?

M: No, my people were farmers. My place of birth was about ten miles north
of Tallahassee.

S: Where were you raised?

M: Well, we moved two or three times during my boyhood. The first may have
been when I was eight years old. Until then, I lived at my birthplace on
the old Bainbridge Road. Then for about four years we lived at a house
that Justice Caldwell later purchased and lived in. My father was a dairy
farmer; he operated a dairy. Then in 1907, we moved to a place on
Centerville Road, which is also northeast of Tallahassee. We continued to
own a part of that property now. My son, whose office is next door, lives
on a portion of the place that my father bought in 1907.

S: It used to be his dairy farm?

M: No, he does not operate a dairy farm now.

S: Was that part of your father's farm back then?

M: Yes. I still visit the farm. I try to do it at least once a week, just
to recall the old days, which I really enjoyed.

S: So you grew up on the farm?

M: Yes. I was working with my father on the farm when I entered the
university's law school. I attended high school in Tallahassee.

S: At Leon High School?

M: Yes. At that time the law school did not require the same credentials
they require now. A high school diploma from an accredited high school
would admit you to the law school. That was my education at the time.

S: So you graduated from high school and went right to law school?


M: Yes.

S: When did you first enter law school?

M: In 1916.

S: How did you go to Gainesville?

M: I took a train from here to Lake City, and then got off of the Seaboard
and took the train into Gainesville. The railroad that ran from
Gainesville to Lake City, I think, I do not remember the name of it.
[Tampa, Jacksonville, and Key West Railroad, part of the Florida Southern

S: There was a little town called Waldo.

M: Yes, we stopped at Waldo, but I think we did not go through Lawtey,
although it was pretty close to Lawtey. That was my way of going to
Gainesville. There was not any paved road at all between here and
Gainesville at that time. It was a sand or clay road, and automobiles
were really scarce. I remember there were a few university students who
had automobiles, but there were very few.

S: Did you have one?

M: No.

S: How did you get around?

M: At Gainesville?

S: Yes.

M: I walked most of the time. There was not any development along University
Avenue. There was not anything from the entrance, to the university, back
to town. There was a bakery, I remember very well, that we used to stop
at almost every Saturday night to buy an apple pie. I thought that they
were about the nearest thing to my mother's cooking as I could find.

S: Do you remember where the bakery was?

M: No, and I do not recall the name.

S: Was it between the university and downtown on University Avenue?

M: Yes. It was right beside the railroad that ran from Gainesville to Lake

S: I know where it is.

M: It seems like it was the old T & J Railroad, but it was just sort of a
branch from there. There was one house on University Avenue that I
remember was occupied by Dr. Crow. I believe he was in the English
department in the College of Education.


S: Before you went to the university, did you correspond by mail to let them
know you wanted to enroll?

M: Yes. I think one of my high school teachers assisted me in getting
information from the law school at the university. A Mrs. Barber, who was
a mathematics and history teacher at the high school, had a son who was
somewhat older than me. Her husband was also a professor, Professor L. S.
Barber at FSU. I do not remember the details, but I think she assisted me
in contacting the university.

S: Did you do well in high school?

M: Well, I did not have much trouble in high school, although I had gone to a
one-room school through eighth grade and entered the high school in the
ninth grade. But in those days there were very few magazines, and only
one newspaper that we would get once a week maybe. Papa liked to read,
particularly history and good books. I had done a lot of reading in
history, and my mathematics foundation was good. I did not have any
trouble. I happened to have had the highest grade in my high school

S: When did you decide to study law?

M: Well, my father really wanted me to study law. He had several good
friends who were lawyers--Mr. Fred T. Myers and Mr. Joe Edmonson.
[Frederick T. Myers, Florida Senate, 8th district (1891-1903) President
Pro tempore (1893-1895), President (1895-1897)] He was also very good
friends with circuit judge for this district. He encouraged me to enter
the law school. In fact, the whole family cooperated. Actually, at that
time, I was the only one of the children who had attended a university.
But later, one or two of my sisters did attend FSU. I had the complete
assistance and cooperation of my family, and they made it financially
possible for me to attend the university.

S: Were you interested in law at that time?

M: Yes, I was interested in law.

S: So they made it possible for you to go to school by paying for your
schooling? Did you have to work at all?

M: I did not do any work at the university.

S: You just went to classes?

M: In those days, your studies consumed most of your time. I did not have
very much time to do any work.

S: Did you go to school every day?

M: Yes, except Sunday.

S: You went Saturday?

M: Sometimes we had Saturday classes.


S: Bryan Hall, or the law building, was a new building back then. It was
built in 1914, I believe.

M: Yes, I think it had been completed about two years before I got there.

S: This is a picture of it when it was brand new.

M: Yes. It was one of the nicest buildings on the campus at that time.

S: Was there plenty of space for the students and faculty at that time?

M: Yes, I think so. I think the library facilities were pretty crowded, but
we had plenty of room, I think.

S: You enrolled in school before the war started?

M: Yes.

S: Did you ever think about going away to war during that time?

M: Yes, a large number of my class volunteered to go into the service, and
two or three of them were killed. I decided that I wanted to volunteer,
but Papa wanted me to stay on if I could and get my law degree. He
instructed me to talk to Dr. Murphree, who was an old Tallahassee
resident. [Dr. Albert A. Murphree, president, University of Florida
(1909-1927)] He used to live here and married a Tallahassee girl, and my
father knew him. I went over and talked to Dr. Murhpree and he was kind
enough to see me. He told me that he thought it would be well for me to
stay in school; I would be finishing in June 1918, and getting my degree.
He said the war is going to last a long time, and I would have plenty of
time to get into it. That is what Papa wanted, and that is what my family
wanted, so I decided to do that. I finished my exams, got on a train, and
went to Jacksonville and volunteered and tried to get in the navy. I
passed every examination except the vision exam. When we got down to
that, they rejected me, but I had not had any trouble with my eyes that I
knew of. I did know that when I got out in the sun most of the time my
left eye would sort of squint. They told me that my left eye was about
twenty per cent good and there was not anything I could do to help it
except wear glasses. I had not worn any. I had passed the rest of the
physical exam and I told the officer, "I can shoot squirrels out of a high
tree with a twenty-two rifle; I ought to be able to shoot an enemy if I
have to." He said, "Well, you could, but if something happened to your
right eye and you were in charge of a platoon, what would happen to you
then?" He said, "That is what we have to consider and we cannot use you."
And that is the nearest I came to entering the service. After graduation
I came home.

S: Let me make sure that this is clear. When you went to Jacksonville, was
that after you had finished school?

M: I had finished and had taken all of my exams. I had not heard from them.

S: So that was 1918?


M: Yes. They rejected me there. After I got home, they had the draft on. I
was drafted and required to report to the draft board, which I did. They
rejected me also, I believe because the navy had turned me down. Anyway,
I was rejected, but I was still determined to try to get into the service
one way or another and I had a very good friend here, who was a lawyer,
Mr. Frank Winthrop. He had graduated from an officer's training school in
Lexington, Kentucky. He said, "I believe that I can get you in as a
limited service applicant." I did not hear anymore until, I believe,
about the seventh or eighth of November, 1918. I received a telegram from
the service to report to Portsmouth, Virginia, on the thirteenth of
November, 1918. Well, as luck would have it, the Armistice was signed on
the eleventh, and I received a telegram on that same day cancelling. So,
I did not get in the service, and I decided to make up for it if I could.
The draft board had what they called an appeal agent, an attorney, and I
served for twenty-five years as appeal agent on the Leon County draft
board. I got several commendations from the department and from Mr.
Hershey, for the service that I rendered.

S: For twenty-five years?

M: I think that is the last one I had. I am going to get a copy of those
things. I have them up here on the wall.

S: Yes, I see all your certificates. I will have to look at those. So in
that job capacity, you served as lawyer for the draft board?

M: Yes, the appeal agent. That involved somebody wanting to appeal what the
draft board ruling, which they would send to me. I had quite a few cases,
particularly with students from FSU who were drafted and for some reason
did not want to go. They would have different reasons, and I would have
to follow that through with the draft board.

S: Well, you served your country in that way.

M: I thought maybe that was my duty. It did not pay anything. It was a
right amount of trouble, but I thought I would do it.

S: Did you have a private practice in addition to that?

M: Well, after returning from law school in 1918, in January 1919, I entered
Mr. Fred T. Myers' law office. He was a good friend of my father, and he
told my Papa, "I do not think that he can do much for me, but he can come
here, and anything that I feel like he can handle, I will send it over to
him." He gave me a lot of good advice and I stayed with him a little over
a year. He had a son, W. Blount Myers.

S: What is his last name?

M: Blount Myers, who was in the service in the air force. After the war was
over he was still in England, and he was having such a good time he did
not want to come back. He remained over there, I do not know how long,
but Mr. Myers told me, he said, "When Blount comes home, I probably will
not need you." I said, "That is all right. I just appreciate what you
are helping me on now." I was very lucky because there was not any other
young lawyers here in Tallahassee then, and all those lawyers were good to


me. If they had a little case, say for the justice of the peace or county
judge or someone like that that would not be much of a fee or was not too
important, they would turn it over to me. So when Blount came home, I did
leave Mr. Myers' and opened my own office. That was in 1920. In 1921, I
believe, I was appointed the county prosecuting attorney. It was somewhat
different from what it is now. The only time that I would appear was when
the judge would call me and say we have a case and we want you to
prosecute it. I think I got $5.00 a case for prosecuting, but that helped
out. Then in 1923, they removed the county judge here, and Governor
Hardee [Governor Cary A. Hardee, Governor of Florida (1921-1925)]
appointed me as county judge, a position I held until 1933. In the
meantime, I was doing some private practice while I was county judge,
because in those days, there was not enough work in the county office to
keep busy. I opened a private office in the Lewis Bank building and I
spent part of my time there, mostly at night. After I got out of the
county judge's office, I had a solo practice until 1946, when I entered a
partnership with Mr. John W. Henderson, [John W. Henderson, Jr., Florida
House of Representatives, Leon County, (1949-1953)] who was the son of a
prominent lawyer here. His father had died, and John was a municipal
judge. He volunteered to go into the service, I think in 1943, and the
city commission appointed me as municipal judge to succeed him. I held
that job until he got back from service in 1946, when I resigned. And
they reappointed him as municipal judge. Some time later we formed a
partnership which continued until 1969.

In the meantime, my two sons had graduated from law school in Gainesville
and they came into the firm. Mr. Henderson's son-in-law also came in, and
I decided that it was about time for me to quit managing an office. I
just told my boys that I thought I should dissolve the partnership, so
they went into a partnership with two other lawyers and asked me to join
them. I left Mr. Henderson his son-in-law, and another lawyer that we had
there. So from 1968 until the present time I have worked in the firm with
both or one of my sons. At the present time, only one of them is a member
of the firm. The other one has his own office, since he specializes in
tax law.

S: Which son is the tax lawyer?

M: That is W. Taylor Moore. [class of 1965, University of Florida, College
of Law] He is named for me and he is the oldest one. Edgar M. is the one
that is in the firm here.

S: Well, that covers a lot of years.

M: A lot of luck.

S: I want to fill in a couple of things about the law school. You had said
that while you were in law school some of your classmates had left for
war. Did a lot of them leave?

M: Yes, I would say at least a third of them volunteered.

S: So your classes were really reduced in size?

M: That is right.


S: How many people would be in a typical classroom after the students left?

M: I would say probably twelve or fifteen.

S: And how many were there before the students left?

M: There was probably around twenty or twenty-two, I think.

S: Do you remember Dean Trusler teaching you? [Harry R. Trusler, dean,
University of Florida College of Law, (1915-1947), professor (1909-1947)]

M: Yes, if I remember correctly the dean taught Constitutional Law. I
remember one statement he made that did not suit me too well. He said, "I
warn you boys that the law is a very demanding mistress. If you are going
to be a good lawyer, you are going to have to devote your time and your
attention to that. You have to stay away from other things. You cannot
be involved in politics and so forth if you want to really make a good a
lawyer." Well, I did not particularly want anything to demand too much of
me in that respect, because I wanted to be somewhat free. But he told us
that. I enjoyed him; he had a good sense of humor, insofar as including
humor, anecdotes, and statement in his teaching. I think I also had him
for Torts. My favorite professor was Dr. Crandall. [Clifford W.
Crandall, professor, University of Florida College of Law, (1914-1938)]

S: Why was he your favorite?

M: He just had an approach that gave the impression that he was a very
learned man. He seemed to take a little bit more personal interest in
many of his students than the others did. I thought they were all really
good teachers, and were good for the school, but Dr. Crandall, I just
think that some way or another, he was a better teacher.

S: What kind of approach did he take to teaching?

M: He was very gentle and cordial mostly, and he would hardly ever get on you
too hard if you came in with an assignment that was not properly done. He
would take a little time and show you where you were wrong, and help you.
I always enjoyed him. The only one who was a little bit, sort of, hard
was Dr. Arnold. [E. C. Arnold, professor, University of Florida, College
of Law (1917-1919)] He was of a little different disposition than the
rest of them.

S: What was he like?

M: Well, he was sort of rough-and-ready you might say. He wanted you to do
the thing and do it right.

S: What did he teach?

M: I think he taught a class in Criminal Law that I attended.

S: Was he a lawyer? Had he practiced law?


M: I do not think he had ever practiced. He might have. I was not sure
about that. I think he came directly from some other law school to the

S: What did Crandall teach you?

M: He taught Real Property and I enjoyed that. I was always interested in
property titles, and I believe he also had a class in Ethics and Civil
Practice. I think Dr. Summers, or Mr. Summers, was really the criminal
practice attorney. [W. L. Summers, professor, University of Florida
College of Law (1915-1918)] He taught more of the actual practice that
you have in criminal law.

S: Did you ever have to attend trials to gain practical experience with
Professor Summers?

M: I do not recall that we had any trials. We did have some with the
debating society.

S: The John Marshall Debating Society?

M: Yes, the John Marshall Debating Society. They would have different
trials, and different professors would moderate the trials. I expect Dr.
or Mr. Summers did although I do not recall.

S: Were those the only four professor that taught you, or did you have any
others? Was Cockrell there? [Robert Spratt Cockrell, professor,
University of Florida College of Law (1919-1941)]

M: No, he was not there. Dean Trusler, Dr. Crandall, Mr. Summers, and Mr.
Arnold were the only ones that I recall that I had any classes with.

S: Did you have the same professor for several classes?

M: Yes, and they kept us busy.

S: Did you have a lot of reading?

M: A lot of reading and a lot of research.

S: Where did you do your research?

M: In the library.

S: In the law building. Where was the library in this building?

M: The library was in this part over here.

S: Upstairs?

M: Yes. I think originally we had a lady librarian, and I believe we finally
got two more that assisted us.

S: Do you remember the librarians' names?


M: No, I do not.

S: At one time there was a woman named Priscilla Kennedy, and there was an
Agatha Walsh as the librarian. I will see if she is listed in here. But
did you have a librarian to assist you? [Priscilla McCall Kennedy, chief
clerk, University of Florida College of Arts and Sciences]

M: Yes.

S: Was that her sole job, just being the librarian, or did she do anything

M: Not that I recall.

S: She was not a secretary or anything like that?

M: She probably did some secretarial work for the dean or some of them, but I
do not recall that. I think everybody had to work back then.

S: Did you do most of your studying in the library?

M: No, I would say I did probably two-thirds if that, in my room.

S: In the dormitory? Did you live at Thomas Hall or Buckman Hall?

M: Thomas.

S: Did most of the law students live there?

M: Most of them did. There were quite a few of them, and they were scattered
about. Some of them had rooms in private homes.

S: Were there any boarding houses for the students?

M: Yes, there was a boarding house right across University Avenue, close to
the KA fraternity house. Somewhere around there was a boarding house.

S: Where did you eat your meals?

M: I would eat in what they called the cafeteria.

S: On campus?

M: On the campus. It was somewhere along the lot where the student building
was later erected in that neighborhood.

S: Was it the Commons building where you ate?

M: It was not very far from Thomas Hall or from Buckman Hall. It was rather
amusing to some of my classmates that being a farm boy and I was
accustomed to eating the cooking that you had on a farm, mostly vegetables
and meats, and things that were raised there. I did not particularly like
the food that I was getting at the Commons or the cafeteria. And as luck
would have it, I found a relative of mine. She was a distant cousin of my
mother, and they had been very good friends when they were girls. She had


married and had moved to Gainesville. She had son who was in the College
of Engineering, and I met him and we became good friends. He would eat
with his mother and I called her Auntie. He said, "Why don't you come on
over and take your meals with Auntie? She has to cook for me. She will
be glad to cook for you, too." I said, "Well, if she lets me compensate
her for it. I will be glad to offer, but she would not like that." So we
made arrangements the last, yes, I believe, two semesters. I ate at her
house, except for breakfast. I never came for breakfast.

S: Where was her house?

M: It was one street north of University Avenue. It was not a long walk at
all. I could walk from the dormitory over there without any trouble.

S: What was her son's name, your friend?

M: William Reeves.

S: In the College of Engineering?

M: Yes. He finished school after I did. He probably put in four years, and
then became a good engineer. Later, he moved around to different places
with different jobs? Some time during the 1960s a lady called me and said
she wanted somebody to prepare a will for her. I said I would be glad to
do so. She came to the office and I prepared her will. She had a son who
was the son of this engineer, my good friend. I met him, in fact, he
still lives here in Tallahassee. I have run into several people like
that, when I came to Gainesville, and then came into contact with them
again here.

S: That is interesting. How old were you when you entered law school?

M: I was twenty years old.

S: Twenty. So you graduated from high school at nineteen?

M: Yes. The schools that I had attended during elementary school only had a
four-month or a six-month teaching term. I think we probably attended for
six months. I went to a one-room school through the eighth grade, and we
did not progress very rapidly through the grades. I still do not think we
appreciated the teachers who taught in a one-room school as much as we
should have. I remember the teachers I had the last year or two that I
was in elementary school. That was a one-room school and they had eight
grades. There were only two people in the eighth grade--a girl and
myself. The teacher taught arithmetic, English, spelling, writing, and
all of the other things, like history. I do not think that they went as
high as algebra or anything like that, but they did a real good job.

S: And they taught all of you together?

M: Yes.

S: And your assignments would be harder, or more advanced, than people in the
fifth or the sixth grade?


M: Yes. Most of the work that the two people in the eighth grade did was
really not much oral teaching. She would utilize the older students
like myself to help with the others. For instance, I remember that she
assigned me to the business of teaching elementary arithmetic and some
history lessons. I would fill in for her because she would not have many
students in either class. She probably had twenty-five or thirty children
all together, but most of them would be smaller.

S: Did many students just go up to the eighth grade and then stop and not get
anymore schooling? Or did most of them go on to high school?

M: I would say fifty per cent of them would finish at those country schools,
and they would not go any further. They would not go to high school.

S: About fifty per cent?

M: Yes, but they got a pretty good education at those schools. The teacher
did a good job.

S: Where was that schoolhouse located?

M: Centerville. That is the school that I attended from 1907 until 1915. In
fact, that is mostly where I went to school. It was about two miles from
our house.

S: And it was northeast of Tallahassee? Which direction outside of

M: North. Centerville was just a little country village at that time. It
had two or three stores, with maybe a dozen families, but it is not there
now. All the families have disappeared and the land has been bought up by
people who work in Tallahassee and have built country homes there. Back
in those days, all of the northern part of Leon County, after you left the
city limits, was farming operations, dairies, and several of what they
called cotton plantations. We had sharecroppers, what they called day-
laborers, who used to live on the farms and worked for the farmers. All
that has disappeared.

S: Is the school house gone?

M: Yes.

S: Do you remember hearing anything about the law school being founded in
1909, if it was in the newspaper?

M: I did not understand your question.

S: The law school in Gainesville opened in 1909. Do you remember hearing
about that?

M: No, I do not recall that I knew anything about it, I would say, until a
couple of years before I went down there. While I was in high school I
learned about it.

S: Did you learn about it through a teacher?


M: Yes.

S: When you decided to go to law school, did you have to choose between the
University of Florida and Stetson, because there was a law school there

M: I did not have any choice to make. In other words, Florida was the only
one I considered.

S: And you were in school there for two years?

M: That is right.

S: You completed the whole program in two years?

M: Yes.

S: Did you go year round? Did you go in the summertime?

M: My recollection is that when the law school was open, I was there during
those years. I do not remember how it was divided, but I did not spend
any time at home when the law school was open.

S: Did you ever come home to visit while you were at law school for example,
maybe take the train back?

M: I came home my first year, I believe. I came home for Thanksgiving and
holidays, and then, of course, we came home for Christmas. But those are
the only two times I came home in the first year. The second year, my
mother became ill; in fact, she died while I was in school. I came home
to see her once or twice. I was here when she passed away, but we did not
travel much then.

S: So you think you stayed there and went to school during the summer. It
must have been hot, since they did not have any air conditioning. Did
they have fans to keep you cool in the summer?

M: I do not think that it was really too hot. I do not remember whether we
had any fans or not in the dormitory room.

S: How about in the law school?

M: I think they had some fans in the law school, but it was hot, all right.

S: They kept the windows open?

M: Yes.

S: Now you said you went to school sometimes even on Saturday?

M: Well, mostly that was just for special assignments or something like that.
I do not think they had any regular classes scheduled on Saturday, but you
would receive some special assignments and one of the teachers would be


S: If you needed to see a professor when you were in law school, could you go
to his office and talk to him?

M: Yes. They were real nice about that.

S: Did you do that much? Talk with them about classes?

M: I do not remember that we did that much because I think it would have been
sort of taking advantage of him if many of us had tried to talk to him
too much.

S: Were you friendly with them?

M: Oh, yes. I always made it a point to be friendly with my teachers.

S: On Sunday, you did not have any classes. Did they have any church
services on campus?

M: I do not recall whether we had a church on the campus, but I attended
services on Sunday at the First Baptist Church, which was in the main part
of the city.

S: How would you get in to go to church?

M: Walk. I happened to make friends with a Lacy Mahon, who was a senior.
His father was a Baptist preacher, I think he was located in Jacksonville,
but Lacy was really the one that got me to attend the Baptist Church in
Gainesville. He was a member and he was a very active person in that
respect; outgoing and took in almost everything. He got me going to the

S: Was he a law student?

M: Yes, he was a law student. He became a lawyer, and he had a son, who is a
lawyer in Jacksonville now. [Lacy Mahon, Jr., class of 1949, University of
Florida College of Law] Lacy Jr., I read in the paper every now and then
about him representing different people.

S: I have read that there was a chapel on campus. Do you remember that? I
just wondered how it was used.

M: I really do not remember much about that. I remember they wanted a chapel
there, and they had a minister who was in charge of it, at least he was
there part of the time.

S: In case the students needed to talk to him?

M: I did not have much contact with him. My time was taken up with work.

S: Studies.

M: Yes.

S: What did you wear to school?


M: Well, we usually just wore an ordinary suit, a coat and trousers. I think
the majority wore a tie most of the time. The mode of dressing at that
time was quite different than what it is now.

S: Did any of the students wear military uniforms?

M: Some of those who belonged to ROTC would come to class in their uniforms.

S: Yes, a coat and tie was dressy compared to what the students wear today.
Did the professors expect you to dress that way?

M: I think so.

S: What did they wear?

M: The same thing that I said. They wore their coats and ties. They would
take off the coat sometimes in class if it was hot. We could do the same

S: How did the students in your class get their practical experience? When
you got out of school, were you ready to practice law?

M: Not compared to what they are now because we had very little actual
training in the handling of a case. We had some in the John Marshall
Society. We would have different trials in there, civil and criminal.

S: In the debating society?

M: Yes.

S: Was that just law students?

M: Yes, that was all, as I recall, that participated at that time. It was
just law students.

S: Where did you hold the debates?

M: Well, I never was on the debating team, but it seems that they had a
debate with a team from Georgia Tech, and also from Kentucky. Both of
those had law schools that were represented. Most of the things that I
remember were right there in the law school.

S: In the courtroom at the law school?

M: Yes.

S: And did they have it set up like a courtroom, with a judge and jury?

M: Yes. We had the whole process of questioning the jury, the judge giving
them instructions, the opening and closing arguments and so forth.

S: Did you participate in that?

M: Yes, I participated in that. I would say maybe one-half dozen trials all


together, both civil and criminal.

S: Who served as the judge?

M: Usually the teacher, or one of the faculty members.

S: Well, that must have given you some practical training.

M: It gave us some, and then we were encouraged to attend the sessions of
the circuit court there in Gainesville. I remember the whole class would
be sent down there to observe a criminal trial.

S: The whole class would go? Besides the librarian, do you remember any
otherwomen at the law school?

M: I do not recall any.

S: No women in the classes?

M: There probably were some there who were secretaries, but I do not recall

S: When you were getting ready to graduate, you said you took your exams and
you went to Jacksonville. Did you attend any kind of graduation ceremony?

M: Yes, I came back to Gainesville after they turned me down. My father came
down, and he was there for my graduation ceremony. I wanted somebody from
the family to attend, so he came down on a train. We returned to
Tallahassee together after that.

S: Did you wear a cap and gown?

M: Yes, I remember we had that.

S: Where was that held?

M: It seems to me that there was an auditorium in one of the other buildings
there. I do not know whether it was the Arts and Sciences building.
Anyway, it was a larger place than the law school, and it had all of the
graduates there from the different colleges--education, law, engineering,
and others.

S: Did somebody call your name and you went up and got your diploma?

M: Yes.

S: Who gave you your diploma?

M: I think Dr. Murphree gave me mine.

S: The president of the university. Well, that must have been a proud day
for your father.

M: It was really a proud day, but the war was still on and it was just sort
of a gloomy situation.


S: At the graduation?

M: Yes. We could not celebrate much because of the conditions as far as the
war was concerned. So many men were in the service, it sort of created a
subdued atmosphere at graduation.

S: Did you have anyone at the law school who helped you find your first job?

M: No.

S: You did that on your own.

M: Well, my dad did really. As I said, he was a good friend of Mr. Myers who
had the largest law practice in Tallahassee at that time.

S: How were your grades in law school? Did you do well?

M: Yes, if I remember correctly, I did not have any trouble. I received one
or two awards of books from the West Publishing Company and others for
having the highest grade. I remember one of them was a constitutional law

S: They gave you books for having the highest grade?

M: Yes.

S: That is a nice award.

M: I received two sets of books, but I do not remember both of them now. One
of them was from West Publishing. I think that there was another book,
but I do not remember the company that published it.

S: The student with the highest grade in the class gets the award?

M: Yes.

S: Did you graduate high in your class?

M: I do not know how they rated us at that time. I do not remember whether
they rated me third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh. But I think that my
grades compared favorably with any of the other students.

S: Were you involved in any of the other activities while you were there,
like student government?

M: I did not take any part in student government. I was a member of the Pi
Kappa Alpha fraternity, and I took some action in connection with that at
different meetings. I do not remember any of the contests, but mostly the
fraternity would be involved in some contest with other fraternities.

S: Was that a social fraternity?

M: Yes.


S: Would you consider yourself to have been a serious student while you were

M: No question about that. I was there to devote my time and attention to
becoming a lawyer.

S: Did you take time out for a social life?

M: Well, we enjoyed a social life some. Occasionally we would have picnics
Saturday afternoon someplace. Sometimes we would go out to Devil's
Millhopper. You probably know where that is. I believe it is still
there? We would walk, and I liked to hunt during the season. This Reeves
fellow that I was talking about, had the privilege of hunting on some of
that land that adjoined the area. I enjoyed that, and then we would take
walks. For example, on a Saturday, a group of us would get together and
walk out west of the university, maybe going out toward Newberry or some
other place like that. Just walking.

S: Were there trails you would walk on?

M: Yes, there was a trail and usually there would be something that would be
of interest. I remember on one occasion there were about six or eight of
us, some of us from Tallahassee, who went on a walk. We came across a
farm where they had a cane grinder. Do you know what cane grinding is?

S: For the sugar cane?

M: Yes. They grinded that and made syrup. This was a Saturday, and we came
across this mill and a kettle and all the equipment they used to cook the
syrup. It was not in operation, but there was a big pile of cane. We all
were somewhat interested especially those of us from Tallahassee. I
roomed with two Tallahassee boys the last year. I was there and they
said, "Well, let us see if we can get some cane juice." They told me, "Go
over there and lay it in." A man was sitting on the porch in a rocking
chair, and they delegated me to go and ask him if there was any way we
could get some cane juice. The man said, "Well, yes, providing you are
willing to work for it. This is our Sabbath day." They belonged to a
church that recognizes Saturday as their Sabbath day. He said, "We do not
do any work today, and we do not let our animals do any work." I knew how
to operate the mill because we had one at home. At home we pulled our
mules round and round, ground the cane and the juice would come out. I
said, "Well, if it is permissible, I have enough mule power out there to
grind some of this cane and we will get some juice." He said, "Go ahead
if you can do it." So I got about four or six of the boys to take hold of
the mill, and I fed the cane in the middle, ground about a gallon or two
of juice, and we drank it. It was really good. To people nowadays, that
is something of no importance at all, to me it was quite an occasion. It
reminded me of home. Papa had a cane mill, and he processed enough of the
cane and syrup to take to the people who lived and worked on the farm. We
had about one-half dozen Negro families who lived on the farm and worked
as day laborers. I knew all about that.

S: Was the father's name Walter Taylor Moore, also?

M: Yes, that is why I use Junior.


S: On any of those outings, were there any women? Did you ever do things
with local girls from Gainesville?

M: Well, there were quite a few pretty girls there. I met some of them at
church when I attended some of the functions that the church had, picnics
and things like that. We would have a chance to meet some of the people
in Gainesville.

S: I wondered if you associated with each other since there were not any
female students.

M: There might have been a few in the college of education. I do not recall
any. I know there were not enough of them to worry us.

S: Were the women attending Florida State College for Women at that time?
Did the men ever make trips to Tallahassee on the weekends?

M: They did not make many because there was no way they could do it. Even
for those who had automobiles it would take practically a day to drive
from Gainesville to Tallahassee. The road was sand and clay, so there
were very few trips made.

S: That must have come later on.

M: It did.

S: So you remember any of your other classmates? You said you had roomed
with two Tallahassee boys. Were they law students?

M: No. I think both of them were registered in the College of Agriculture.
Neither one of them became a farmer, but I was the closest friend that
they had. Kenneth Collins, who was later elected county tax collector,
had that job for about fifteen years. The other one was Barnes Hopkins.
So he started working for the Lewis State Bank and worked there all of his
life until he retired. Then there was Tom Palmer, who was the son of one
of the doctors here. He had a room in the same dormitory.

S: Was he a law student?

M: No, he was in, I guess, the College of Education. He later became a
doctor, located in Jacksonville. He died about two years ago.

S: Did you remain friends with many of your law school classmates after you

M: I kept in touch with several of them. One of them was Marcus Brown. In
fact, he finally came to Tallahassee. There were two from Quincy--Hall
and Harrel. I knew them quite well. We run into each other in our
practices occasionally in Quincy and Tallahassee.

S: Hall and Harrel? Were the law students good friends at that time?

M: Yes.


S: Did you study together much?

M: I do not remember studying very much together. There was one chap that
never did graduate, but he was a pretty good student. I think he was only
there the first year. He and I used to study together in my room. He
would come over to my room. I only can recall his last name. It was
Rider. He went into the service and made a career of military service. I
did not hear anything about him after we left law school until some time
in the 1960s. A lady and her husband came into the office to sign some
papers that I had prepared. I knew this lady quite well. Her husband
had died and she had remarried, but I had not yet met her husband. But
when he came in and I saw his name, I recognized him. I do not think he
recognized me. When everything was over I said to him, "You would not
happen to be the Rider that attended law school in Gainesville in 1916 and
1917, would you?" And he said, "I am the same guy." I said, "Well do you
remember coming over to my room; I would go to your room sometimes and we
would study together?" He said, "Well, I had not remembered it until you
mentioned it." I have kept up with quite a few of them--Alfred Marshall
from Clearwater and I came in contact with the Upchurchs from St.
Augustine and Jacksonville, although not very frequently. [Frank D.
Upchurch, Sr., class of 1915, University of Florida College of Law] I
have a general practice, and I handled most every kind of case that would
come along. But I was quite different from the lawyers now. I had two
rules, although not very good rules, that I followed pretty closely. If I
were doing things over, I would not do things the way I did. That is one
reason I dissolved the partnership and just worked for the firm when I
wanted to; just for a salary. But I had two rules; one of them was that I
never turned anybody away. I did not represent everybody that came, but I
never turned down anybody without a conference. I never refused to
represent somebody because they did not have a fee. That is a bad rule.

S: They sound like very noble rules.

M: They are not good rules to practice law by, so I never made any money
practicing law. I made a living, that is all I really wanted. But I was
imposing on my law partners by exercising that rule. They did not have to
go by that. But so far as I was concerned, if you came in the law office
and I conferred with you, the majority of the times I did not charge for
the conference. It was of some value.

S: Have you enjoyed practicing law?

M: Yes, I have, and I have had very few trials. I made it a business that if
you were represented by another lawyer and I represented my client, there
was not any good reason I could see why the other lawyer and I could not
work out the problem and save having to go through the selection of the
jury and trial in court. I have had very few trials. I have closed most
of my cases either here or in the other office, and I do not think I
penalized my clients by doing that. I remember reading an article written
by a federal judge from Panama City. He had an article in the Tallahassee
Bar Association, and the title was, "There is No Reason Why Two Lawyers
That Know Their Business Cannot Solve Their Problems With the Other
Clients Without a Trial." That colloborated what I had been trying to
practice all my life.


S: Do you feel that you received a good education at the law school for the
practice of law?

M: Considering the times, then, yes. Not compared to what it would be now,
it would not be a good education. I think a person can become a good
lawyer without going to law school if they make up their mind to do it.
But certainly a good law school would help to make it much easier for them
to become that type of lawyer.

S: So you think your sons received a different education when they were in
law school?

M: Yes, I think so.

S: In what way?

M: I think they were exposed to more of what the law is and what it is based
on, for example, the history and the traditions connected with it. We did
not have time to receive all of that. I also think that they were
required to do a lot more writing, and I think that is very important to a
lawyer, to be able to write. In the preparation of briefs and opinions,
the better writer you are, the better your opinion will be.

S: They emphasize that a lot in law school now.

M: They should.

S: We now have a whole program that emphasizes legal research and writing,
and a new program in legal drafting. Well, did you do much writing in law

M: Not too much, no. We did not really have time.

S: Did you write out your exams?

M: To some extent, yes. I ruined my handwriting. My teachers had taught me
to write pretty well in elementary school, but in trying to take notes in
law classes, what the professors would say, I would just jot it down. It
was shorthand and nobody could understand it but me, and I could not
understand half of it.

S: Well, I think I am about out of questions. You graduated in 1918?

M: Yes.

S: We have covered a lot of information. One other thing I wanted to ask
you; you served in the legislature in 1937?

M: And 1939.

S: Was that one of your goals that you had hoped to achieve?

M: As I mentioned a while ago, I was county judge for about ten years and I
was defeated for re-election. That sort of bothered me. I did not know
why the people had defeated me. So in 1937, when it was time to run for


the legislature, a few of my friends asked me to run. I talked to my
family, including the lady who became my wife. I decided, well, I am
going to see what the people think about me. I am going to run, and if
they defeat me this time, I am out. I defeated three candidates, and they
did not have to have a second primary. That made me feel good so I ran
for another year. After that I decided that I was not suited for that job.
You have to be too much of a compromiser to represent Leon County, and the
same thing would be true of Alachua County. You have too much involvement
in appropriations. Some fellow will have a bill from Key West that he
wants to have passed. I might think that it is not a good bill, but to
get his vote on the appropriation, I could not afford to oppose it. That
did not suit me very well, so I decided to let someone else handle that.
But I enjoyed my two sessions in the legislature. I had one other
political appointment of which I am really proud. I served on the school
board here for twenty years. Of those twenty, I was chairman for about
nineteen years. The only time that I was not chairman, another lawyer,
Judge Ben Willis, was on the board and he was elected chairman. [Hon. Ben
C. Willis, class of 1936, University of Florida, College of Law] But he
was appointed circuit judge. After that they would not elect anybody
other than me, because I think they thought I would be the one that
devoted the most time to it. Anyway, I was really proud of the fact that
I served on the school board for twenty years.

S: Did you keep your private practice while you were on the school board?
That is a big contribution serving on the school board.

M: I have always been accustomed to work, so it did not bother me. I could
work at night or daytime. I never learned to be much of a party-goer. I
did hunt and fish a good bit of the time, but I just did not participate
in sports much.

S: Did you work long hours all throughout your career?

M: Yes, I did.

S: Did you work weekends?

M: When I was in private practice, I worked weekends.

S: You mentioned your wife a little while ago. Whom did you marry?

M: I married a girl from De Funiak Springs, Elimo Munn. She had been my
secretary while I was county judge. Then she went to work for the state
department. We have three boys, that is all.

S: Two of them are lawyers. What does your other son do?

M: He works with WCTV. He has been with them about fifteen years. I asked
him if he wanted to be a lawyer and he said, "No, there are too many in
the family."

S: So he is a journalist or newscaster? What would you call him?

M: He started out doing camera work. He enjoys that. But I think now he is
in charge of one of the production departments.


S: Are you still married?

M: No, my wife passed away about five years ago. My son and I live together.

S: What is his name?

M: Robert Bradford Moore. I am lucky to have two good daughters-in-law, and
I have four nice granddaughters and one grandson. They take care of me
pretty well.

S: Well, good. Can you think of anything else that we have not covered that
you wanted to talk about? About your school days?

M: I apologize for wandering around.

S: No, we have stayed on track real well. You have provided information that
we cannot get anywhere else, because nobody wrote it down back then. Dean
Trusler kept a lot of newspaper clippings, but that is just about all that
we have. So it really helps to talk with someone who was there.

M: Well, I enjoyed the law school, and I think if I was doing it over, I
would take the full course, the pre-law and all of that to be prepared.
There have been a lot of changes, and there are many laws now that were
not in effect then.

S: But you think that you were prepared for that time?

M: I think so. I did not have much trouble meeting other lawyers, or
preparing the cases that we had to try. Then, the circuit judges helped
me a lot. When they saw me getting in trouble, most of the time they
stopped me. A good circuit judge would not do that.

S: Was that when you were starting out, that they helped you?

M: Yes, that is right. You can get into trouble when you are questioning the
jury or submitting an argument. Sometimes you trespass on the court's
jurisdiction and the judge will stop you most of the time and tell you
that is what his job is. They were strict. Judge Love is the one I
practiced before most of the time. He lived in Quincy. Most of the time,
if you had something you wanted him to sign, an order, you would have to
take it to Quincy. Now there were two ways you could do it, one was to go
by train, and the other was to drive on a sand and clay road. I went over
there one time with a process that I had served from the sheriff in Duval
County, on a legal case. I noticed the return procedure that the Duval
County sheriff made was different from the return procedure that the
sheriff from this county and Gadsden County usually made, but I checked
the record and I found the judge had approved that kind of return for
another lawyer here. So I said, "Well, if he did it for Mr. Hodges it is
all right." So I went over there, and Judge Love looked at it and he
said, "Young man, this is not correct. We do not accept these." I said,
"If the court pleases, I looked in another record with exactly the same
kind of return procedure and that is why I brought it over. I thought if
you approved it in the other case it would be all right." He said, "Who
handled that other case?" I said, "Mr. Hodges, Senator Hodges." [William


C. Hodges, Florida Senate, 8th district, (1923-1939), president, (1935-
1937)] He was the best criminal lawyer in the area. He said, "Well, it is
still not correct. You go back and get it straightened out and then come
back. Senator Hodges can afford to make a mistake every now and then, but
you are just starting out, and I am not going to help you make one. You
get it corrected." He made me come all the way back and send it back to
Jacksonville to be corrected. That was the kind of judge he was. That
probably helps any lawyer.

S: The case loads were not as heavy then, were they?

M: No, not nearly as heavy.

S: Because they had more time?

M: Yes. We did not have as many lawyers then. The more lawyers you have,
the more suits you have.

S: Well, I would like to take a picture of you if I could, while I am here,
will all of your awards behind you. Would that be all right before I

M: If you think your camera will take it, it will be all right.

S: I have the camera in my car. So I have to run out and get that, if that
is all right with you, and then we will be all wrapped up. I appreciate
your time.

M: You are very welcome.