Interview with Short Wilson, February 1, 1974

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Interview with Short Wilson, February 1, 1974
Wilson, Short ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Hillsborough County Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Hillsborough County (Fla.) -- 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
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Hillsborough' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Ybor City Tape Wells, typist
Interview w/
Shorty Wilson, ex-
principal of
Elementary school, Tampa

Part I


W: ...Funny thing because I had been up in ClUTemont I'd re-

signed there and I'd taken a job in Washington, D. C. with

Arlington Motor Company. I started up there as a mechanic

in June and was made the head of the used car division. And

so I had turned loose. They paid me much more money, you

know. And came the first cold, rainy season they turned into

ice. And I went in and told the boss I was leaving for Florida

the next day. So Ijust, I had a friend teaching here at

Franklin-a fraternity brother that I'd been in college with.

And I came to Tampa and just decided I'd see if I could get

"a job in the school business here. And they'd just run off

"a big red-headed phys. ed. teacher out at Ybor. He quit

during the first week and so I became phys. ed.; four of us,

phys. ed. teachers at Ybor--two men, two women. So I spent

two years there from 19--, September 1930 to June 1932. And
then I went to Largo High School/in Pinellas County as line

coach and teacher. I introduced the first commercial de-

partment at Largo High School. Back then it was a seven

through twelve and there were only ten teachers, including

the principal. And the only school I ever worked in in my

life that had a majority of men. There were six men and

Ybor City--Wilson interview


four women.

M: I noticed that. Usually you'll find women ...

W: Yeah, yeah. And then I came back to Tampa in 1932 and I

taught, oh, a couple of weeks in west Tampa, but the salary

wasn't anything then. My wife taught the year before seven

months at $70 a month, $490 a year. So I was selling

automobiles during the summer and I just

quit--went back down there selling automobiles. They would

have paid me $702 a year that we had to teach and I made $3860

besides selling automobiles, five hundred and some-

thing the next two months and took a month's vacation in

North Carolina. Then I came back down here and was selling

Dodges and Plymouths, Palmer, and they called me up

and asked me to go to Wilson Junior High School to substitute

for a couple of days. And then they wanted me to stay on.

So I got the school board to pass a resolution that I could

continue my outside activities so long as it didn't inter-

fere with my school business. So I made more money selling

automobiles in my spare time than I did teaching until I

went to open up Madison in 1952. And then I went to Ybor

again as principal. I went to _igea as principal in '39

to '41 and I went to Ybor again as principal in '41 to '50.

M: Now as I summarize it briefly: you were a physical ed. teacher

at Ybor between 19--, ...

W: Two years.

M: Two years. 1929 ...

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: 1930-'32.

M: 1930-'32. Then principal of 1939 to 1941?

W: Um huh.

M: And then principal of Ybor from 1941 to 1950?

W: 1950, right.

M: What was your educational background? Where did you get most

of your school experience?

W: Well, I graduated from high school up in Umatilla, Florida. I

went to the tenth grade in west Texas, northwest Texas and I

graduated from high school in Umatilla. Then I took a four-

year college degree and worked, my expenses, in three years.

I missed cum laude by three honor points. And got caught

big girl out of the dormitory one


M: Well, that's a good reason.
W: / of the women was my math teacher. So then I went to work for

the U. S. Department of Agriculture in the Bureau of Entomology

until school started that fall. I became a coach and teacher

at High School. I was there one year, 1930. Then

I came to Tampa, to Ybor.

M: Why did you come down to Tampa? I know you were going to Florida

but why Tampa?

W: Well, this fraternity brother of mine was teaching out at Ben-

jamin Franklin. And I could stay with them. And I just wanted

to get into a bigger place.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Now during the years that you were a physical ed. teacher what

was Ybor like as an elementary school?

W: It was a platoon school when I came in there.

M: You mentioned that before. What was that?

W: Well, a platoon school--you had so many homeroom teachers;

in other words if you needed sixty teachers you might have

thirty of them as homeroom teachers. Then you had special

music teachers, library, and shop, and home economics, and
physical education,/auditorium--that sort of thing. We had,

it was just like a departmentalized junior or senior high
school for the other half of / day.

M: Oh, I see. So it was only half a day?

W: Yeah. And the other half of the day they took their basic

subjects in the homeroom.

M: Why did they have a platoon system at Ybor?

W: God knows where it started from; it was there when I came there,

but I think it originally came from Gary, Indiana.

M: Um, huh.

W: Because the principal died. Then the principal from west Tampa

came .over there to finish out the year and then the next year

they hired a principal from Gary, Indiana who had worked with a

platoon school, and then retired up there or lived up there.

And he was just totally unable to handle it.

M: Unable to indle the situation.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Yes. Well, handle people.

M: Just personality conflicts or something?

W: Well, yeah, he was ... he'd get up there in the auditorium,

(clap, clap) "now, children." And shit,\they didn't pay any attention

to him. And I walked from the back of the auditorium up to

front and everything got quiet. So he fired me at the end

of the first year. ... because I had been recommended for his

job before he got it by the retiring princ--, not a principal,

he went back to West Tampa.

M: What year was this that the Gary principal was there? Oh, he

was there ...

W: He came there in let's see, I came there in '30-'31, he came

there in '31-'32 that I was there, and he fired me at the end

of the first year. And because I was a threat to his job. I

mean, frankly.

M: Right.

W: And then I went to Largo High School for one year and came back

over here at west Tampa in the automobile business. Then

Wilson Junior High from '34 to '39. And then principal at

from '39 to '41, and back as principal at Ybor,

'41 to '50.

M: Well, this man from Gary, Indiana, is he identified with the

platoon system?

W: He was I think at that time, yeah. His name was McIntosh,

and he's dead now.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: And you did mention the platoon system was there even before

he came there.

W: Yes, it was there before I came.

M: Do you have any idea how it might have started?

W: No, sure don't.

M: Okay.

W: Somebody got, well, I think it started ... and I'm going to be

honest with you, I think it started with somebody who knew

something about a platoon system and because we had so many

kids there .r. at that time we had nearly 1400 in ten

square blocks. And I think it started because they didn't

have enough room ... double sessions and the thing they do to-

day. I think they, I think the platoon school so they could

take care of a lot more kids. For instance we had the

auditorium, which we called "auditorium," --we had three

teachers in there. And they'd teach them English words and

teach them to sing and teach them music, songs and things of

that kind in addition to what the regular music teacher had.

Then we had four phys. ed. teachers and I'd have, in my

group out there I might have three or four classes out there

at one time. Then the other man would have three or four classes.

Then the women on the other side would have the girls

for three or four classes.

M: So the platoon system was ideal for handling large numbers of

... ah.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: In a space, yeah. And then it gave these kids out there at that

S time, in 1930 when I came there, I'd say eighty to eighty-five,

maybe even ninety per cent of them didn't speak English.

M: No English or ...?

W: Well, they didn't know enough to read or anything else. So

we had what we called an opportunity class; which we had four

teachers teaching them the first year just enough English to

where they could go in the first grade actually. And they

taught them everything they could in one year but they had

to first teach them enough English to learn.

M: To learn. This was back in '31?

W: Yeah.

M: Okay.

W: This was '30, '31.

M: What were these opportunity classes like?

W: Well, they were just ...

M: Supposing I'm a kid, I don't speak English, I walk in, this

is my typical school day. What would a typical school ...?

W: Your first day?

M: First day.

W: Well, they'd come into this room, and we'd assign them to one

of those four rooms, and then they'd go on there and the
teachers would/them whatever they could.

M: Were the teachers able to speak Spanish or English?

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Some of them were, and some weren't. I remember Evelyn Garcia

was one of them, and she could speak Italian or English, or

Spanish, or English. And Grace only spoke English.

M: How would Grace handle the situation?

W: I don't know. With cards and other things, I guess; or the

other teachers would help her when she got into problems, I

don'e know.

M: Uh, huh.

W: And I don't remember who the other two were, you know, at that


M: How did the kids respond to these opportunity classes? Did

they learn from them?

W: Very well. Our biggest problem came with kids who had come in

from Nicaragua or from Cuba or from Key West not speaking any

English and they were already in the third or fourth or

fifth grade.

M: But they'd start at the first?

W: Well, we did several things. We started them at the first and

as fast as they could go to the second we moved them in, and

the third and so fourth until they finally caught up in many

cases. Some cases they didn't. Now we had some kids

come in there that were in fourth and fifth grades that never

did get to be real good sixth f grade students by the time they

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview



M: Right.

W: i From the standpoint of their background. Now for example

I took a third grade I believe it was now and gave them a

-Andersnn Test in English. And say I used the

first semester and then I took the second semester which

is more difficult and gave the same kids the test in Spanish.

And the average IQ scores on that two was eighteen points

difference. They took the more difficult test and scored an

eighteeen points higher than they did on the first semester

test in English.

M: So what you're saying is that there was a language barrier

here that ...

W: Yeah, right on. Because the minute they got out of class and

the minute they went home or anywhere else, they'd speak

Spanish. If they got on the playground they'd speak it if

you'd let them.

M: Well, was there some attempt made to make them speak English?

W: Yeah. Yeah, we tried to make them speak English in class and

in school, but the minute they walked out of that classroom

why, they'd started jabbin' in Spanish. 'Course I'd had

five years of Spanish and I remember the first day I walked

up out there to this sixth grade phys. ed. class, I heard

them say in Spanish what they were going to do with ti*

little short, sawed-off S.O.B. And I answered them back

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


in Spanish about what was going to happen to the first bastard'

And I whipped, physically I whipped six kids in the first


M: Your football skills came in h4ndy, I bet?

W: Yeah. I went out there, I had been wearing knickers and a

football sweater and I used that for my phys. ed. uniform at


M: Well, what about sports? During your years as a phys. ed.

coach in those early years how did ...

W: Well, all we did out there, all we did out there was various

physical ed. things, you know--sittin' up exercises and games

and things of that kind, and we played some soccer. I had

had one year of professional soccer; and I had played it

in high school.

M: What were most of the ... most of the games played were American

or Cuban or ...?

W: Well, they were games tnt we, games that, American games; games

that we knew.

M: Because soccer is a Latin game, I think.

W: No soccer is originally an English game. I played against

the University of Florida soccer team when I was in high school.

M: I didn't know ...

W: The University of Florida had a soccer team them.

M: They still do, but it's mostly ...

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Dr. and oh, we called him Frenchy, he was

boy from France that was one of the best :-college soccer

ball players I ever ran into. was good,

too. But I played, I never played a game of football until

I went to college. And I went to college on a semi-scholar-

ship I guess. I didn't tell them I never played football.

When I went in to dress the first time I watched how every-

body else put on their clothes.

M: Oh, no.

W: Then I put mine on the same way.
M. I don't think that would work once you got / on the field,


W: No, but I was just as tough as a wall. I weighed 168

pounds and was twenty-nine inches in the waist.

M: Broad-shouldered then?

W: Oh, yeah. Big shoulders, and strong:arms *and legs. Fast

on foot.
M: Let me ask you again /this physical ed. deal I think there

are traditional sports and there are sports that Latin Americans

would prefer. How did this work in with your classes?

W: Well, if some of the kids wanted to play something different

if they were old enough to know what it was and explain it

to me how it was played, then I'd let them play it part of

the time.

M: What did they like to play all the time?

Ybor City Tapes

Wilson interview


W: Well now you see that's been a long time ago and I don't re-

member all of the things we did. We played a lot of soccer

and we played some basketball and we had at that time four

of those sheds out there at Ybor--two on the men's side and

two on the women's side--that we played basketball under and

we played games under; we played marbles under them and we

did just anything almost that the'kids liked to do, wanted

to do,, that we knew how to do or that we could get them to

teach them to teach them how to do. But we played more

soccer than anything else, I guess, because it was, well,

it was just a game we could play inside the fence. It was


M: Oh, it was sandy.

W: There wasn't even any concrete in those courts at the time.

We played in the courts, supposed to be clay, but it wasn't,

it was just sandy. Then I later got those courts poured in


M: When you became a principal, I guess?

W: I don't remember. I don't know whether I was principal or

not; I guess it was. But I got Nick Nucio the county

commissioner, to put sidewalks around the place some and

our additional courts.

M: Is Nick Nucio Cuban, Spanish, Italian?

W: He's Italian. Now he was county commissioner for a number of

Ybor City Tapes

Wilson interview


years, then he became mayor of Tampa, I don't remember four or eight

years, then he went back as county commissioner, I think, for

another four-year term, then he got beat.

M: What kind of cultural programs did they have back in the early

thirties? I'm saving the best part for the last and that's

the forties. But right now a comparison. Did they have

assemblies, plays, yearly carnivals, for example?

W: Well, we had assemblies, and we had the carnival thing, of

course, which was a Halloween thing to get them off the

streets and get them in some activity that was more or less

fun and that they could have a good time. We planned the

carnivals for the whole family.

M: Oh, the whole family would get involved?

W: Oh, yeah, the whole family.

M: How would the whole family get involved?

W: Well, we had certain things that the whole family could get

in on. Certain games--bingo and different things; they'd

run the booths and sell stuff, and they'd participate in what-

ever they could.

M: Theycould sell booze ?

W: If they wanted to.. They sold things at the booths.

M: Oh, oh, booths. I'm sorry, I thought you said "booze."

W: No, booths.

M: Okay.

W: B-o-o-t-h.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: So the carnival then the parents would get involved in that?
W: Yeah, and we got / Shore and Ybor and Orange Grove, I think

were the three schools.

M: All three of those schools had something in common.

W: Had one common carnival.

M: But all three of those schools seemed to service the same


W: Yeah, same general area, yeah. Um, huh.

M: So like Orange ---, I think it was Orange Grove, ...

W: Orange Grove, yeah.

M: Orange Grove and Phillip Shore .

W: Orange Grove was north of Ybor and a little bit east and

Phillip Shore was south of Ybor and a little bit east.

M: Well, how did people in the rest of the city view these schools?

Did they see them as the schools where the Latins go or...?

W: Yeah, I guess, primarily.

M: Did they stereotype them is what I'm trying to find out?

W: No, back in those days the principal pretty well ran the


M: Um, huh.

W: With the trustees. 'Course you had trustees that were political.

And the trustees hired the teachers and all this business.

We didn't have anything to do with it then.

M: So you had to be hired through a trustee too, I guess.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Yeah, I was hired by the trustees.

M: I've looked a lot at the school board minutes back in those

days and they're so cut and dry I don't get any of this.

W: Well, there wasn't much school board. The school board, ...

the only thing the school board had at that time we had

thirty-five or thirty-seven, thirty-seven separate school

districts in this county. And originally it was sixty-five.

And over each of those school districts they had a set of

trustees of three people. And they collected and spent-the

district The county school board only had the

schools out in the county that were not in any incorporated

area you might say. But they still had the trustees in

every school or school district. Now if a school was, one

school was in a district, that was the only school, then you

had a set of trustees for that school.

M: Right, right.

W: But in district 4 which was Tampa, we had a set of trustees

for all of the Tampa schools.

M: What was the school board like in those days--the people them-


W: Oh, god, I don't remember too much about that.

M: What did people used to say? What were some of the issues -t

in those days the school board would be concerned with?

W: Well, of course, one of the the school board was concerned

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview

1 16

with back then in those days was getting rid of the trustees

which we did in '47.

M: Why?

W: Well, because they couldn't ...

M: Oh, the whole system?

W: Yeah. In '47 when we passed the minimum foundation law.

We had one district whose boundaries were coexistent

with the county boundaries. See, the trustees were consti-

tutional officers back then. The school board wasn't.

M: That doesn't make sense to me.

W:, Well, it doesn't make sense but that was the way it was in

those days. See, when we started as a typical rural state

the trustees were set up in the 1848 constitution.

M: That's what you mean by co nstituitonal?

W: Yeah. They were set up to be elected in--.- the constitution.

And they were constitutional officers. You couldn't remove

them except by- election. So the only way we could do it in

'47 when we made the minimum foundation law was to change

the boundaries so that you had one district. you still had

one district set of trustees and you had a county school

board. But your district trustees gradually just didn't

do as much and the district trustees hired the supervising

principal of Tampa district and I guess later hired all the

principals of these other schools out there prior to '47.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: The school board itself, the county school board, wasn't a

constitutional ...?

W: No.

M: Oh, I see. It was just an administrative .....?

W: That's right. And I think, I think in the new constitution

the county board is the constitutional board and there are no

trustees. Later on we managed, we fixed it so that you could

abolish the trustees by referendum. If the county wanted

to get rid of their trustees then they could abolish them by

referendum. And then they set up advosry committees, advisory

groups, to advise the county board in these various districts

rather than trustees.

M: Which you could control.

W: Yeah, and the advisory board had nothing to do except advise.

and so after a while they just quit functioning.

M: Let's move ahead now to the main thing---When you were

principal of Ybor City Elementary School. Before that you were

principal of Did that sort of prepare you for

the principalship of ( Ybor City?

W: Well, it prepared me, see, I already knew Ybor City School be-

cause I'd worked there and I knew the platoon system and how

it operated, And when I went to it was in a kind

of a mess. The:principal there had been a real cultured

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


educator, but he, that was all. And he had lost contact pretty much

with the teachers and everything else.

M: Where was he from?

W: I don't know.

M: Like was he from the North or South?

W: I don't know. He was there when I came to Tappa. That's

all I know. Fowlkes, F-o-w-l-k-e-s.

M: F-o-w-l-k-e-s?

W: Uh, huh.. Principal of when I came, before I went


M: Somebody mentioned a Fowlkes who / was principal of Ybor

back in the ,'twenties.

W: I don't know him, he might have been the same one. I don't know.

M: Might be the #e person.

W: But this Fowlkes was principal at when I went there

in 19--, well, he was principal the year before I went there

as principal.

M: What happened? Was he moved or transferred or fired?

W: He retired as I recall. I just don't know.

M: So in other words there was a vacancy and they assigned you to


W: Yeah, yeah. And I put in, I put in two or three things over

in because I had the same type children, more or

less. But by '39 they were, seventy per cent of them were

speaking some English, enough to get :along. But I put in

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


an arts and crafts thing over there. I put in a homemaking

unit at

M: You say about 75% of the children were not Spanish?

W: No, were speaking enough English to get along.

M: Oh, it wasn't quite as bad as Ybor City.

W: No, in '41. Well, let's see, this, it was ten years dif-

ference there.

M: But how was Ybor City ten years later? Ybor Elementary School.

W: I think we had one or two chart classes, what we called op-

portunity classes. Instead of four.

M: So things had pretty much died down by then?

W: Yeah, well, they had become more English-speaking, let's put

it that way. The ones that we had that didn't speak English,

we'd put in those classes to start them off, the chart classes or

opportunity classes. We had chart classes for the first ones, then

we had some opportunity classes for fourth or fifth or sixth--

the kids who now would be classified as special education stu-

dents, mentally retarded or educationally retarded; it's hard

to tell which it was back in those days. In fact I claim

most mental retardation is educational retardation, rather

than mental. Although there are some that ...

M: By that you mean they don't have an education or.,.

W: They just didn't have any educational background. And they come

up to the level that you had up there.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: So what you're saying is you have had perfectly intelligent

kids who appear to be retarded because ...

W: Because they don't have any background. They9 i't have any

schooling And we had some who were

actually mentally retarded. I put in a sixth grade class

out there, I had a teacher who was exceptionally good

kids who were educationally retarded and I guess mentally

retarded, too, I guess. I gave her eighteen kids that were

as much in the sixth grade as 3.7 educationally.

And everyone of them, everyone of them including what we

called "Crazy Charlie" at least progressed a whole year. And

some of them made as much as three years' that

one year that she had them all day.

M: Now go over this again. In other words you more or less set

up a special classroom for these kids.

W: Um, huh.

M: During the ...

W: See, this was after we'd done the platoon; we'd done ary with the

platoon and put in the regular academic school year like every-

body else. We run the school like everybody else.

M: Did they do away with the platoon system while you were there?

W: Yeah.

M: When would that have been?

W: I don't know. It was around '49 or '50. 'Round '49 or '50.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


I had run for superintendent in '48 and been defeated and

the man that was elected : had studied all his life for the

Catholic priesthood. And when he

got ready to, I guess, to into that he came to Tampa and I

cam back home and I put the rest with it. I said he had

an opportunity to indulge in some of the finer things in

life and he got married. And Started teaching school with

me at started teaching, I think, then became principal,

then became superintendent for a one full-year term.

M: How'would you compare Ybor during the twenty years that you

knew it off and on? Looking at it over ....

W: Well, I'd say that we made more progress there, there was more

progress made, and I say "we," I was in it most of the time

after that ten-year span in there between '31-'32 and I

went back there in '41. My wife was still there some as a

home ec. teacher. That's where I met her.

M: Your wife taught at Ybor?

W: Yeah. She was a home ec. teacher. Came to Ybor her first

year of teaching and my second year of teaching; my third

year of teaching. Oh, hell, I was at Claremont, then I

came to ... yeah, it was my second year in the Tampa system.

And then I left the next year and went to Largo.

M: When did gshg start teaching in ...?

W: In 1930. Or '31, I dnn't remember which.

M: As a home ec. teacher?

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Yeah. We had a home ec. out at Ybor and then they abolished

the platoon school of course we abolished the home ec. department,

and the shop, and the auditorium and so forth.

M:U Then more or less then the platoon system was stopped about 1942 .

W: No, well, it was some time, I think later than that. It

could have been, I think it was '48 or '49, I'm not sure, be-

cause I think it was under the superintendent that beat me

for county superintendent. But I'm not sure whether it was

stopped in there somewhere between '41 and '50.

M: There was just no more need for it.
W: Well, it was then down to, well, when I cam back there as

principal in '41 it was down to seven or eight hundred kids.

You really didn't need it anymore for this, for the reason

that I thought it was put in there. Then when I lefthere,

when I left there in '50 I don't think there was over four

hundred, three or four hundred kids there.

M: Who was the principal during the thirties at Ybor or were

there several?

W: Well, McIntosh was there all those years after I left until I

cam back.

M: The man from Gary, Indiana.

W: Yeah.
ke ubS
M: So actually yD-'were there ...

W: Nine or ten years.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Nine or ten years. Then he died?

W: Yeah. Well, no, he didn't die then, he retired, or they forced

him into retirement, I don't know which now. And when I left

there as principal, when he fired me, I said, "I'm going to

come back here as principal one- of these days." When I left

there as a teacher, I'm going to come back there, god damned

son of a bitch, I'm going to come back, excuse me, is that

being recorded?

M: oh, that's fine. These things

really make me, V'm still not used to them.

W: Yeah, so I came back there as principal when he left.

M: This is very interesting to me because a lot of the reform came

out of Gary, Indiana that filtered down to Florida and I'm

curious as to know what kind of influence he brought from

f Gary to Florida.

W: Well, he was a platoon school man when he came here.Ahat's

why they hired him.

M: To maintain their platoon system. And they probably got,the

idea from up North.

W: I don't know where it came from originally. It was there

when I came in 1930.

M: 'Cause they had that school study back in 1926 ...

W: and Englehart.

M: Right, and Englehart. That must have given them a lot of

new ideas.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Yeah, I think they were the forerunners of the platoon school

in the Ybor system, Ybor school.

M: Do you know there as one man who was part of that study com-

mittee whose purpose was to look at the immigrants in the

education system and make suggestions. Do you remember anything

about that or ...?

W: No, I read of this during the Englehart Study but that's been

so long ago. I don't even remember what i was.

M: That study is still in existence, it's around, but it doesn't

deal with Ybor City very much.

W: It doesn't, as far as ... that was the only school they sur-


M: Really?

W: Yeah, but I'm not sure, it may have been, may have been others.

M: Oh, my goodness. They did survey quite a few. Atr.. AT

least I looked at the records.

W: Well, they may have, but I just don't remember. They may

have looked at that whole area-and in west Tampa. See, they

had Elementary School, and McFarlane Park Elementary

School, then we had McFarlane Junior High School in west

Tampa at that time. And then the kids that finished junior

high school went to Jefferson, down there where Washington

is now, I believe, in the old building.

M: It was Jefferson Junior High, right?

W: Yeah, well, it was Jefferson Junior High School ...

Ybor City Tape

Wilosn interview
Side 2, tape 1.


W: The head coach went down, I think he went to the county office

as the head of physical education deDartment at that time.

retired as principal of Hillsborough High School and is

now principal of the Episcopal school over right close to

where I live.

M: Let me go into the forties again. 'Cause we got away from

that, but that's okay. What were the main subjects that

you wanted taught because I see you as the principal of the

school. What did you want the children to learn during

the forties? What kind of curriculum did you have?

W: Well, you see, I had a whole lot of what I found when I came

there. I didn't make a lot of changes until we changed the

platoon school system. I had classes assigned to the library,

I had them assigned to home ec., I had them assigned to shop,

and I had the boys in shop and the girls in home ec., and

I had them in phys. ed. Then they had their basic course.

M: What was the basic course?

W: The basic course was reading, writing, and arithmetic.

M. Oh, the whole basic stuff.

W: The basic stuff. That's right. English, and social studies,

and math primarily, spelling.

M: You still had the retarded persons, right?

W: I had them but they were in regular classes when I came there

as principal.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: They no longer set aside separate classes for them?

W: Well, they didn't set them aside. I organized that myself

while I was there.

M: The chart classes ...

W: The chart classes were there when I came and I kept those

up as long as there was a need for them.

Mt Those were for retarded children, weren't they?

W: No, those were for kids who didn't speak English.

M: Okay, glad I asked.

W: Yeah, so they were kids who didn't speak English who came to

school without an English background, an English-speaking


M: Who would be considered a retarded child?

W: Well, ...

M: You mentioned there was a lot of question about that.

W: In some cases they were kids who just didn't score anything
on the IQ test to amount anything../ very little low. I had

one boy who'd just go crazy every once in a while. Finally,

the only kid I ever expelled from school that time, he hit

a kid with a baseball bat and missed his head and hit one of

those concrete water fountains and broke the baseball bat.

But he'd been in consistent trouble. And basically I think

it was due to the fact that he, well, le had no background.
He was a pimp when he was in elementary school;/pimp for

his mother and his sister, I think.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: How old was he?

W: He was twelve, fourteen, I don't know.

M: And still in elementary school?

W: Yeah. Well, I had kids eighteen years old that were still in

elementary school.

M: Is that common?

W: When I came there it was common.

M: In 1940 and 1931?

W: L930, '31, '32. I had a lot of sixth graders that were sixteen,

seventeen, eighteen years old.

M: Was that common in the Hillsborough system?

W: It was common in the Latin schools particularly because of the

background. West Tampa, I think, had some, had

some that were probably fifteen, sixteen years old.

M: So this would be a disruptive factor though in trying to teach


W: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah.

M: How could you deal with that?

W: Best way I knew how at the time. If it got too bad I burned

their, burned them with a paddle or if they resisted too much

why, I physically handled them. I had the prizefighter, Six

Cylinders h.. e fought under ... and he got really

Ybor City Tapes

Wilson interview


upset out on the playground and went after me and I managed to

get his head in the crook of this arm and his face right in

here and I let him have it several times. I finally took

him into the principal's office and he called the police and

I don't remember now what the outcome of it was but they I

think put him on probation and sent him back.

M: Were there much instances of the police coming?

W: Not too many. We had some f during the communists' attempt

in here. The kids sometimes would take off, a whole class
or two of them, and singing "El Communista." Red and

M: "El Communista"?

W: Yeah.

M: This was the tobacco thing or something?

W: No, "Communista" it was ... Communist.

M: Plot ...? I suppose it would wear off?

W: Yeah, this ...

M: What would elementary kids be doing singing about communists?

W: Je-nersais pas;. I don't know. They got it at home, I guess.

M: This was back in 1931 or 1941?

W: '31, '32 'round in there.

M:- But not in the forties?

W: I don't remember it in the forties. It might have been during the
time, it might have been/during World War II, I don't know.

M: But whenever it was ... tell me more about this.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: But I remember it happened. Yeah, and they'd put sand and

sugar in our gasoline tanks sometimes.

M: Why?

W: 'Cause that's the thing to do. Give the teachers hell, I


M: But that wasn't because of the communistta?

W: I didn't know what it was caused by.

M: Was there a communist movement or something like that with the ..?

W: It might have been together. I don't remember. You see, it's

been a year or two.

M: Uh, huh. That's something.

W: And I've gotten to the point in age where I don't remember

everything, or all the details. Some of them I wanted to

forget. But I had, oh, two or three, I guess, in the years

I was there that I had to call the police on

Some of them after they found out they couldn't do what they
were going to do,/that little short, sawed-off S.O.B, why,

they became great friends. And their nickname for me was

__," and ." And the other guy that was

with me there for quite awhile and then he left finally, I

don't know whether they ran him off or not, he was a tall,

slender guy and they called him ."

M: "?

W: Yeah.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: What was a ? Oh, .. .

W: A fried egg.

M: A fried egg. Right.

W: ." His name was Harrington. And he went to New Jer-

sey to teach English when he leftthere. I don't remember when

it was, but it was some time during that time.

M: How did your wife feel about teaching at Ybor?

M: She didn't mind it at all. She enjoyed it because she could,

she's the kind of a teacher who wants to help everybody. And

she spent her life whole life doing that. And she taught

those girls to cook and sew when they were in elemediyy school.

M: And she did this for maybe twenty years, I-think.

W: Well, no, she was onltut there from '31 to the time I came

out there in '41 as principal and she had to leave. And she

went to Wilson Junior High School from there. And then we

&<-' decided to have our first child and she got pregnant and

she was out about three or four months. In fact I think she-

stopped in April or something like that. The baby was born

in August and she went back the following January or some-

thing like that. They needed her for something. And then

she was at Wilson until I cam to Wilson in '34. And then

she left again and went to Hillsborough. And then when I became

vice-principal of Hillsborough in 1950 she left again and went

to Plant.

M: You kept coming up behind her sort of.

Ybor City

Wilson interview


W: Yeah, yeah. And then when I opened up I mean

Madison, I opened up both of those when I left Hillsborough

as a principal, first principal. And I was there one year

and they claimed I did such a good job that they wanted me

to open up Madison over on the other side of town as prin-

cipal. And I was there three years and I became principal at

Plant High School. And I was there five years, six years

then I went down to the county office as the assistant su-


M: Plant City must have been quite a change.

W: No, Plant, not Plant City. H. B. Plant out in the


M: Okay. I'm not too familiar with Tampa.

W: Well, and Madison, Madison was south of it. It was one of the

junior highs ...

M: Oh, so you were way south?

W: Yeah. I was, Plant is just off of Bay about three or

four blocks at Hyams and something else. But I really built

it during the time I was there. When I came there the prin-

cipal had been indicted for embezzlement and he was totally

unable to handle it and the kids were going everywhere and

the teachers were every way and so they came over to Madison

to get me to take it. I told them "no." Why in the hUll

should I go over there and kill myself? And they came back

again. The salary was nothing. $200 more or something like

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


that. So I said, "Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll

go over there and straighten it out under one condition:

that I have unanimous approval by the school board, a you as

superintendent and your staff that I get to the backing.

The first time that I don't get it I'm going to walk out.

And so he took it back to the school board. And one of

the guys on the school board had never been very friendly to-

ward me, he says, "I don't like the short S.O.B .ut he runs

a good school." So he went along with it. So I went to

Plant in '55 and was there six years until '61, and then I

went to the county office. I became president of the Florida

Education Association in '61-'62.

M: Well, congratulations. You're the first k ex-president I've


W: I've been involved with it, I've been on the board of trustees

retirement system since '45, fifteen consecutive years through

five governors. And I had helped design the original retirement

plan and I was, back years ago.

M: Did you know anybody ?

W: Before, oh, yeah, I knew all those people in there. I was on

the board for some time, then I was chairman of the retirement

committee for about twelve years and I wrote most of the

present retirement laws after Plan A and B. I wrote C, D

and E. 'Course I worked with two or three other people in

Ybor City Tapes

Wilson interview


drafting them and then we had an attorney _for

legislation. Alot of good legislature, I made as many as

eight trips up there in one session.

M: I A was doing a study of the FEA journal through about 1926.

Really found it exciting reading.

W: Well, the first retirement bill we proposed was 1935- Up until

that time, until '39 actually, but in '35 the only way a

teacher could get anything if they retired was to go down to

the welfare department and declare a pauper's oath. and get
$50 a month. So we passed / bill in '35. The governor

vetoed it. We passed another one in '37 not quite as good

and the governor vetoed it. We passed a third one in '39 in

the early part of the session that was not as good. The

governor vetoed it so we went in to see him, two of us, John

from Marianna and I, went in to see him.

And we said, "What will you sign, Governor?" He says, "I'll

sign a bill that will make retirement a responsibility of

the state of Florida if you'll prepare a bill for me I that

will a teacher after thirty-five years fifty dollars a

month without a pauper's oath." So we wrote over Plan A

just like that. And he approved it. Then every year there-

after every session, every two years then, we improve it.

The original bill provided fifty dollars a month, twelve

hundred was the maximum which you could deduct. If you

Ybor City

Wilson interview


made $1800 you still had for the $1200. After

thirty-five years you could make fifty dollars a month.

M: That still wasn't much.

W: Atsixty. And we did Plan B which let you make fifty dollars

a month if you were fifty-five. And C, we let you make, it

was a different formula, 1.67 instead of 1.43. You could

make more at fifty-five. Or you could do it with thirty years

of service instead of thirty-five. That's what it was. And

then D you could do it with twenty-five years of service

at fifty. But it was so good that it, of course, it cost

a lot of money. It cost the people a lot of money, the

teachers too if they elected to take it. Then in 1953 they

stopped Plan D for all new people and they let all of the

ones in there I mean you could stay on it, but after 1955

nobody could come in under Plan D. And we passed Plan E in

1955. A, B, C, and D were money-purchase pension plans.

We wrote Plan E as a guaranteed retirement plan. And we con-

vinced the legislature it was going to save them money when

actually it was going to cost them more. But that's the only

bill I ever really worked on and sold before the bill was

introduced. I got it introduced by all of the members of the

retirement system, the retirement committee signing it and

introducing it as a committee bill.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Back in:those days what kind of interests were generally

opposed i to benefits for teachers, for public education?

W: Any inteasts that had to pay taxes. Just about.

M: Were there some that ?

W: We got a lot of parent-teacher support though.

M: There were parent-teachers organization in those days? Or


W: Oh, yes.

M: The PTA.

W: Yeah.

M: How far back does the PTA go?

W: Beyond me.

M: Since year one.

W: Yeah, I guess. The county officers and employees didn't have

retirement assistance until '45.

M: It's hard for me to imagine.

W: We got ours started in '39 to become effective at the end of


M: I was wondering though about the kinds of opposition you

would get because ...

W: Well, I didn't pay too much attention to the- opposition to

be honest with you; We built something that was good for

the people and we sold it to the legislative committeesand

then we got it through the legislature.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: ,.

W: I remember when I did Plan E, when we got the House committee to

introduce it as a committee bill and I talked to Verle Pope

who'd been handling our legislation in the Senate. He said,

"Shorty, you haven't got as much chance paying this bill as

a snowball has surviving in hell." I said, "Verle, I'm going

to pass the bill and I'm going to pass it through the Senate

and you're going to lead it; you're going to pass it for

me." He said, "Well, I'll have to seer it." He said, "If
Turlington and his committee okay it and/passes the House,"

says, "hell, I'll go with it." So he passed it through
S bill
the Senate. It was the only/that I know of that was passed

unanimously in the House and had one opponent in the SdiOte.

M: Yeah, those were very rare occasions I bet.

W: Yeah, the Senate was whatever number they were then, I don't

remember now, to one.

M: Let me get back to the Ybor City School in the 1940s. I'm

trying to pinpoint a little more closely, I guess I'm fishing

for details, and really, I really don't know what it was
like to go to/Ybor City Elementary School if you were a teacher

or if you were a student there. What were you expected to de?

What was happening? What were they learning?
W: Well, they were leaning the same things they '/ today

that when I came there in the platoon school they had these

extra opportunities which elementary school outside of the

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


Latin element didn't have, which so far as I know, Ybor School

is the only one who gave them.

M: What do you mean by extra opportunities?

W: Shop, homemaking, auditorium, library, music, phys. ed.

M: Now you mean the other t elementary schools didn't have

these kinds of things? No, they didn't have them. They had

phys. ed., but the teachers went out with them in some cases.

Then the teachers taught their elementary class phys. ed.

Then later they got phys. ed. teachers.

M: This is, wait a minutes. The elementary schools of Tampa

didn't have, well, they didn't have shop ...

W: No;

M: I mean, and most of them ...

W: Home ec.

M: None of this stuff.

W: The classes weren't assigned to the library; you put library

books in the room or theteacher brought them into the li-

brary on schedule.

M: Oh, you're saying the other elementary schools were still

organized with the one-teacher classroom.

W: Yeah, they were all organized as, what do you call it? Closed

class or self-contained.

M: Self-contained unit.

W: Yeah.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: So one teacher would have all the first grades students, and

another teacher would have all the second grade students?

W: Well, they might have four or five students, four or five

teachers for the first grade. Or two or three teachers.

M: But that teacher would have all the students all day?

W: Yeah, yeah.

M: And Ybor ...

W: The platoon school was different.

M: Now I begin to understand.

W: Later I think they abolished the platoon school at Ybor for two

reasons. One is because it was differi-ft, and the other is be-

cause we no longer needed it from the standpoint of the number

of people going there.

M: Well, what wouldyou have to be teaching young children shop

for at that age?

W: well, as I told you, see, many of them weren't very young.

M: Oh. So it was a very special school population.

W: Yeah. I think only the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade kids

took shop. I'm not sure. I don't remember.

M: How about home ec.?

W: Same thing, I think with home ec., I'm not sure.

M: Physical ed. would be the same way?

W: Physical ed. they all had. We had them all. We had first

grades, chart classes, everything on up.

M: Let me summarize that. There were chart classes, which, as

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


you described, were for the .....

W: Non-English speaking.

M: And their primary purpose was what?

W: To learn to speak English..

M: So was it mostly an English class?

W: Yes, well, yeah.

M: Why would they call it a chart class?

W: Well, because it was before the first grade.

M: Oh.

W: Then they went to first grade the next year.

M: Chart sort of meant ...

W: They worked from charts and things of that kind. So we called

them chart classes.

M: Worked from charts. What do you mean, what kind of charts?

W: Well, the teacher would ...

M: How would this differ from ...

W: The kids wouldn't read books.

M: Right, right.

W: So they'd put a word up there and teach them what the word

meant in English.

M: Ahhh. Now I see.

W: like you'd say, well, if you say, "a bird flew out of the win-

dow," or something like that, they'd talk about kids flying

out of the class. And it's just like, this teacher was

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


teaching them the song, "Paradise in Monterrey." And she got

to the word.. "paradise." And she said, "Do you know what

'paradise' means? Everybody was quiet and one boy stuck his

hand up like this. And she said, "All right, whatever his

name was. And he said, "Pair of dice, pair of dice."

M: Shaking his hand?

W: Yeah. Like you shake a pair of dice.

M. Oh, pair of dice! Right.

W: That was his understanding of the word "paradise." Was a

pair of dice.

M: Someone told me about the anecdote of the manger. People

wanted to know why the Hotel was called the

Hotel instead of the Manger Hotel.

W: Yeah, I remember that one.

M: But then you had the chart class, which was for people before

first grade and a lot of those kids would be older than a


W: Some of them could be, yeah. Some of them could have bean in

the fourth grade in Cuba or somewhere.

M: And then they'd all be stuck in the chart class.

W: Yeah, but they didn't have any English so you'd stick them in

there until they got enough English to move them up to the

first grade. And if they could get along there pretty well,

you'd move them on up to the second grade even the same

year. You might move them three grades in a year. You might

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


move them two.

M: You might not move them at all.

W: Might not move them at all.

M: What about the opportunity class?

W: The opportunity class was the older kids who couldn't do the

academic work of the fourth grade or fifth grade student.

M: They weren't retarded though?

W: Well, some of them were.

M: In other words the opportunity class would include English kids,

English-speaking kids, everybody.

W: Well, they went to the regular classes of all the rest. They

went to phys. ed., and they went to shop and they went to

home ec. and

M: But then they would stick them in the opportunity class in


W: What they would teach them in their basic studies was not
fourth or / or sixth grade, but what, more or less in

small groups on the level of that group.

M: Well, would they used tutors for this?

W: Oh, use special teachers, regular teachers or special teachers,

just teachers we had. The trustees hired them you put-them

wherever you could best put them.

M: Well, sounds like you were trying to give extra help to these

people above and beyond the call of duty.

W: That's what we were, that's what we were doing. That's what

Ybor City Tape

Wilso interview


we were trying to do.

M: In other ww1s, you take the opportunity, this really interests

me 'cause this thing is pretty important for kids today. You

take the children out of the regular classroom situation and

give them very special attention. That's what you did in the

opportunity classes.

W: Yeah.

M: And you would do it by reducing the number of children per

teacher, and you would help them with their personal in-

dividual needs.

W: As near as I could, yeah. Yeah.

M: Okay. And how do you think that worked? Did it help a lot?

W: Oh, hell, it worked wonderful. There was, even Crazy Charlie,

which we used to send down to the grocery store to buy, and

he could tell you how much money he took, and he could

tell you what he bought and he could tell you how much change

he brought back. And Crazy Charlie married later on and

had nine houses and still sold papers at the Columbia Res-

taurant Last time I saw him was

in front of Columbia Restaurant. Oh, back twenty years

after we had; he owned nine houses. I stopped and talked

to him. He owned nine houses.

M: He owns nine houses?

W: He owned at that time nine houses and was married. We had

that were not too bright. We had

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


one family that we called the father, ." He

married a Spanish gal and when she was, they had

twenty-two children and she was thirty-eight.. And they lived

like pigs.

M: Where did they live? In Ybor City?

W: Anywhere they could. They'd stay as long as they could one

place until they ran them off and then they'd find another

place. I think his idea of wealth was having a horse back

in those days. They did live on a. corner, right, on a house

right on a corner from the school there for a while. I

don't iink it ever had any windows in it or anything else.

They lived in an old cigar factory .once when I visited them

there and the stench would just almost just drive you out.

M: Did you have home visits-like that?

W: Oh, yeah. We had every teacher visit the homes of every child

that went to school in their class.

M: How would that work out?

W: Well, some of them didn't like to do but they did it. But

they'd treat you real nice when you came to home as a rule.

And the homes were usually pretty clean except for, you know,

somebody like And they'd serve you wine or

they'd serve you delicacies with coffee, Cuban coffee, or

M: What was accomplished by these home visits?

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Well, you got to know the parents. You got to have a better

understanding of the children. Why they did what they did,

toe things.
M:' I think / need that today in some cases.

W: Yeah. Well, in one family there, the momma and two of the

daughters were prostitutes. They had one marriage license be-

tween them. I mean, you just ran into everything. I had

kids in school whose brothers and sisters went to the nigger


M: Because they were black?

W: Well, this one looked a little more white than ...than dark

skin so he could get by in a white school.

M: In others words children from the same family might go to

different schools because they looked darker.

W: Yeah, one of the parents was white perhaps and every so often

you know, in a mutation situation you have a white child and

you have two or three blacks and so forth. And I've go into

homes where they've introduced their mother as the maid 'cause

she was black.

M: Why would they. do that?

W: Well, they were ashamed of the fact that she was, the kids were

ashamed of the fact that her mother was black and they were

afraid that if I found out that they had that much nigger blood

in them that I'd take them out of school and put them in

nigger school.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: How was this problem handled?

W: I just left them alone as long as I didn't have any real serious

complaints and I only had one during the whole time that

I was there.

M: You mean in terms of the child should have been in a black


W: Yeah, well, I think they should. The kids all called them

"nigger," and so on and so forth.

M: So they didn't really belong there anyhow. See, what I'm

trying to see is did the kids come over to the Ybor City School

that aren't supposed to be there?

W: Well, you don't know. whether they belong there or not.

M: Oh, there was a problem.

W: 'Course you know that one of the parents was black. But I didn't

pay any attention to it. It didn't make any difference to me

what their background and what their parents was. Best I could

find out what it is we tried to do something about it. That was

our whole purpose.

M: This is one thing that I hadn't realized that even if a kid

came into the school, Ybor City School, the kids them-

selves at Ybor, if this kid was black, would probably harrass

enough so they wouldn't want to be their anyway.

W: They harassed this gal enough where it came to my attention

and then I investigated it and I don't remember now, but I

think they finally moved her to a black school. I'm not

Ybor City tpe

Wilson interview


sure. I just don't remember. I had a Nicarauguan girl there

that came there that was oh, I know all her features were

black. And she was staying I think at Wolf Settlement or some-

thing like that and she got pregnant when she was in the third

grade; fourteen or fifteen years old.

M: Settlement--that was a home for girls, or what was


W: It was a place for people who didn't have any home, I guess.

M: Was that a religious institution?
W: /It was Methodist institution.

M: Oh.

W: 'Course she claimed the man hwo ran it was the one who got her

pregnant. She didn't know that was the way she got pregnant.

M: saying that, too.

W: Yeah.

M: Well, I'd like to know a little bit more about the home

visits. I'm really curious ...

W: Well, every teacher in my school visited, unless there was some

reason that they couldn't ever find a parent at home, they

visited every home of the children they taught. Except the

special teachers--they visited the homes of the other half

of the homeroom teachers. In other words if a homeroom

teacher had an A section in the morning and a B section in

the afternoon the homeroom teacher would visit the A section

home and the special teachers would visit the B section.

M: The special teachers were the platoon teachon-r

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Yeah. They were the, well, they were the teachers who taught

home ec. and shop and phys. ed. and so on and so forth.

M: This didn't go t on in Orange Grove or Phillip Shore, only


W: I don't know about the visitation in those schools because I

think at that time it was a county-wide policy. But we did

it anyway. And wherever I had problems I went.

M: What were some of your impressions of home visits? What was

life like as you saw it in those days?

W: Well, you see, I came there first in the depression. And it

was rough. And then I came back in '41 as World War II had

just 'bout ready to start. It' got pretty rough there at

times. We put in rationing out there, we put in the regis-

tration for everybody for the draft; we handled all of that

at Ybor. The teachers were the ones who did the registering

and so many of the people who came there couldn't speak any

English so we'd have a Latin teacher And their

names, you know. were funny. If a Rodrigues married a

Ramiras or something like that, why, it would be So and So

Rodrigues y Ramiras.

M: Oh, they used both of the last names.

W: And you never knew which was their last name.

M: But ...

W: You'd try to find their father's name ...

M: You couldn't tell which was which.

Ybpr City Tape

Wilson interview


W: No, but you'd have to ask them.

M: Right.

W: And if they'd say, well, my father's name is Rodrigues and

my mother's name is Ramiras, I am Angelo Rodrigues Ramiras.
then you'd put "/- down as Angleo Rodrigues. Which is our

Anglo-Saxon way of a mother taking the father's name.

M: Right. Now on these home visits what were some of the special

concerns that the parents had? Not that you had, that they


W: Well, see, I don't remember a lot of that 'cause ... I went

where the problems were, where the problems generally were.

M: What kind of problems?

W: Hoolky-playing. Non-attendance, which is hookey-playing.

Divorced family where you had a child very upset in a situation.

Anybody that was referred to me by some teacher I ought to

go visit. Or the kids at, some of them that I knew, con-

tinual hookey players. One boy, I went to their house, and

the momma was nursing the baby and she pulled out her breast

and nursed the baby while I was there and she was very nice

and asked about and she said, "I think he's under the house."

So I got him out and took him back to school.

M: This was a Latin family?

W: Yeah.

M: She spoke English?

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Yeah, st, spoke English; she spoke enough English to where

I could understand her. Between that and Spanish, what Spanish

I could understand. When I first came to ybor I was rather

proficient in Spanish.

M: Back in '31.

W: I had five years of it and I taught it in in


M: How did you pick up Spanish?

W: I had # five years of it. I originally had planned to ...

M: You mean at your senior high school?

W: ... WeNO, I took two years in high school, junior high school, and

and three years college Spanish. And one of my professors was

Dr. who'd spent fifteen years as the head of

the Romance Language division at the University of ARgentina.

M: He must have been an interesting person.

W: Oh, he was fascinating.

M: All the way from down there?

W: Yeah. and I was president of the spanish Club in which nothing

but Spanish was spoken.

M: You must have had a strong empathy or sympathy with the community.

W: Yeah, I did. I did. I had an empathy for anybody that was

the underdog. I said, "I'm going to make this god-damned

school the best ......

End of Tape 1, Side 2.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview

Tape 2, side 1.


M: In the old days I'd sit here and writing away, now I can just

sit back and relax.

W: Yeah.

M: I really enjoy it.

W: Well, I think one of the things, when I started out to be a

principal, I started with the idea that I was going to be the

best principal. That I was going to do more for the kids than

anybody else had done and that I was going to have the faculty

and the kids with me in a very short period of time which

I've been very successful at doing. I can walk down Ybor

until the last few years at least I could walk down the

streets in Ybor and run into people I'd taught and they'd

still, "Hello, ." And some of the kids that

I'd had were waiters at the restaurants, aYand

Columbia. And Gilbert Rodrigues was one of them out of that

family of twenty-two. He was a busboy when I first saw him

in and then he became a waiter.

M: Tell me, do you know Joe Ignacias?

W: Oh, yeah, very well.

M: Is he any relation to the author Jose Ignacias?

W: I don't know. I don't know.

M: There's an author Jose ...

W: I've known Joe since our political campaigns way back in the

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


forties. Really in the fifties, I guess, '52, first time, I


M: He was principal of Ybor for four years or something.

W: I don't know how lnng he was there. The man that followed

me was Herbert Bissett and he committed suicide a little

later. And then Jimmy Minarty, I think, came in, and Joe

Ignacias, or maybe one came, Joe came before Jimmy, I don't

remember. See, after I left there and went to Hillsborough,

I went in there as vice-principal and I opened up,

as principal and then Madison as principal. Then I went to

Plant, then went to the county office. I didn't keep up too

much with ... at one time I knew every principal in this

county and half the teachers in the county. I don't even know

the principals any more. Most of them. I know some of them.

M: No. It's such a big system, such a big system. There's one

thing that puzzles me. Ybor had these special programs. Now

Orange Grove and Phillips Shore ...

W: Didn't have.

M: ... didn't have. And yet, didn't they have the same conditions?

W: I don't know. I came to Ybor; they had a platoon school. I

i carried it on until the time that we didn't apparently

need it anymore. We discussed it with the superintendent,

we decided the next year that we'd put it into a regular

school. That's how Got the trustees'

okay. And that's what was done. And then I don't remember

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


how many years we had it as a regular school before I left it;

I left there in 1950. And I went to Hillsborough as vice-

principal. They had a vice-principal then and an assistant

vice-principal. I was the principal, and the vice-principal,

and the assistant vice-principal.

M: You went down?

W: No, Well, I went down, but I went to vice-principal at

Hillsborough, which was still a bigger job than Ybor's princi-

palship was.

M: What was the difference?

W: Well, ...

M: I can see that it was bigger school.

W: Hillsborough was a high school and I went over there for one

year at least to see whether I liked it and whether the principal

liked me and before I opened up Grove the next year. I either

could have stayed at Hillsborough or I could have gone as

principal at Grove. And I made, I instigated and got

approved and made a lot of changes at Hillsborough. Actually,

my function at Hillsborough after reorganization, was like a

dean of boys. But I was over, actually over the assistant

principal, who handled the duties primarily of an assistant

principal or vice-principal at that time.

M: So you had a really big job there actually?

W: Yeah. So I reorganized it and got Wayne's office moved up

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


next to Gather's, up to the main office. And I went down to

the office that he had had and got a secretary for the two deans

or who would be today deans. And I handled that phase of

it---the discipline problems, and attendance problems, and

reports from the teachers, all this business at hillsborough.

Then the next year I became principal at Grove.

M: I guess what I mean is, how did,, it feel going from a place
like Ybor where it was lucky ... the Latin community, you'd

had no special problems.

W: Well, you see, I had, I had, basically I had a lot of blacks

at Hillsborough.

M: By the 1950s?

W: Yeah.

M: 'Course they weren't iAthere, I mean, back in the 1930s there

weren't that many ...

W: I don't know.

M: Right.

W: I principal of Hillsborough High School .

M: Just because of your job.

W: Yeah, I was the phys. ed. teacher at Ybor and that was all I

was interested in at that time. I ran for superintendent

in 1948 and got beat. Then I set up a committee that selected

the run against McGlocklin and beat him

at the end of four years. I says, "If I'm the one selected,

I'll make the race, if I'm not the one selected I'll support the

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


one who is selected unless it's somebody I can't support."

M: Looking back over those years what would A you say were your


W: My favorable years?

M: Your favorite years. Your best.

W: I don't know. I think the enjoyment I got out of being a prin-

cipal of an elementary school was more than A I ever had in

any other job I had. But I couldn't stay in an elementary

school because I couldn't live off the salary.for one thing.

And it wasn't enough challenge to me.

M: It wasn't enough challenge?

W: No, because I felt like I'd done about everything that I could

do there by the time I left.

M: So you actually set up a system in a sense?

W: Changed Ybor completely from the original to what it was when

I left.

M: Well, how would you describe that by the time you left. What

essential changes took place?

W: Well, basically the population in Ybor had dwindled down

to where, 'course they still kept us in that ten square
blocks, and when the superintendent that was electedjbeat me,

he wouldn't enlarge the territory because it would be more

money to me. In fact, he triedto to get me out of there and

we had a go around with the trustees and I was sustained.

M: He sounds a bit like an S.O.B., too.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interveiw


W: He wasn't exactly, I call him'John L. Lewis the second." He

looked a lot like him, had big, bushy eyebrows.

M: What was his name?

W: Randolph McGlocklin. He was the one who studied for the

Catholic priesthood, Jesuit priesthood. He went to Catholic

schools her, then he went to the University of St. Louis,

I believe, which is a Catholic school.

M: I was going to ask if he had any connections here with the

private Catholic schools he went through.

W: He had support from them, but he didn't have any connections

except that he'd gone through them.

M: Well, I guess that's about it then.

W: I think the greatest pleasure, the greatest satisfaction I got

of any principalship was the Ybor principalship. These kids

would come up and say they wished you were their daddy and

a lot of things like that. Made the difference.
M: Did 1. have problems like they do these days with families?

W: They had every.kind of problem you could think of back in those


M: '' YOu mean, no father in the family ...

W: This or that or everything else. I remember very well that
an Italian woman cam up to school one day / a big old, long

butcher knife. And she was speaking Spanish to my secretary.

And she said, "Where is he? Where is he?" And she finally

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


got out of her and she was going to cut it

off with a butcher knife because for a nickel he'd enticed her

granddaughter or something into the alley. So she was going to

cut it off. And we finally got her calmed down and she went

on back home. Anything could happen. Anything could and did

happening those years from '32 ( to '50.

M: What kind of people would teach at Ybor? Did special people

come out there?

W: No.

M: Did you get certain types of personnel?

W: You got whoever the trustees hired and sent out there.

M: But I'm sure that these people knew what they were getting into.

W: No. Most of them some of them never had taught in Florida

before and they were just assigned to Ybor School when they

come out there.

M: Did Ybor get a lot of these kinds or people or?

W: Well, we had every type that I think you could think of out

there. We had people with degrees. I had one teacher with a

Masters who was the sorriest teacher I had and one I got

fired under the tenure law. And the best teacher I had had a

three-year degree, had started teaching with a two-year degree,

had a three-year degree at that time. She had her degree later

and I took p her with me when I opened 0. Grove. I brought

her over there. I brought two or three of the sixth-grade

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


teachers from over here that had worked with special kids

and so forth to take to 0. Grove to start my sixth-grade job

there. And in fact, when I went to Madison we set up, I've

forgotten what you call it, but we set up one basic teacher to

teach English and social studies and science, I think. And

then they went to the other departments. Similar to a platoon

type situation even in ... the sixth grades that came to us

see, they took the seventh out here. Well, the sixth grades

that came to us at Madison were seventh-graders. We took
that process, I figured/if we'd-take the process they had in

the self-contained classroom in the sixth grade, keep them in

a self-contained classroom for half the day and then let them

get into this other as seventh graders, and then in the eighth

grade they went into i regular departmentalization in the

ninth grade.

M: This was out in Pr____ Grove, though.

W: Well, no, this was at Madison.

M: So in a sense ...

W: I don't remember whether I started it at X+ Grove that

year or not. I don't think I did.

M: What's interesting is you took ideas from Ybor and took them


W: Yeah. Instead of being a platoon, I called it, I've forgotten what

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


they called it now, but oh, well, there's a name for i it, but

I don't remember it.

M: Um, huh. What were some of the other ideas that you took

from Ybor? Let me rephrase the question. Was Ybor a testing

ground in a sense for some of your ideas?

W: Well, Ybor was an opportunity for some of my ideas. testa,

originally, you see, I did some of the things at =esta, first

year I was principal like putting in the home ec. and arts and

crafts, which was minimum type shop situation.

M: Into the elementary school system?

W: In the elementary school at El sesta.

M: What did people say about that?

W: People didn't say anything back there in those days very


M: You mean, generally speaking people wouldn't ...

W: No.

M: They just minded their own business about the schools?

W: Yeah. The principal ran the school. The principal and teachers

ran the school.

M: You had much more jurisdiction ?

W: Oh, yeah.

M: But it seems strange that most schools in Hillsborough county

didn't have f kinds of activities at the elementary level.

W: Well, when I came to gesta, for instance, in '39, it still was

a very poor situation. I put in the first lunchroom over there

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


that they had except an old, broken down stove downstairs. And

I served, oh god, I don't know how many kids lunch for a nickel

and charged the teachers a nickel and item. And I got a stove

from an old Tampa, discarded stoves and things
of that kind;/old refrigerator. And I put in a lunchroom

down there And I started a dental


M: Dental clinic?

W: Yeah, I got these kids who needed dental attention going to a

dental clinic, a city clinic for dental ... and with this
lunchroom situation and with feeding these kids, t./ average

achievement improved fourteen points in one year above the

normal achievementof those kids that I had under the special
and so forth and dental program
feeding program. I got a trailer and went out to the gar-

dens, out to WPA Gardens and got vegetables and pulled it

behind my car and brought it in there.
M: But this was still at resta?

W: Yeah.
M: You realize you did quite a bit of work at Gresta?

W: Yeah.

M: These are things that are ...

W: In fact the people in Ybor City, the ones that came over,

asked me to come from &esta to over there, they said, "You've

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


done such a good job at Questa, we want you to come over and

straighten out Ybor."

M: Who were these people, of the Latin community or ?

W: Oh, parents, Latin community, yeah.

M: So Latin parents were watching over ...?

W: and and, they were two of the trustees

at that time, and Peter who was a parent, and

severallothers. A committee of about five or six of them.came

over to Questa to see me to see if I'd come over there.

M: And you agreed?

W: Yeah, because I wanted to go back to Ybor as principal.

M: Why?

W: Because the guy'fired me that I took his place.

M: That's right.

W: And then the opportunity was there. You could either make it or

break it.

M: Do you see yourself sort of as a community organizer?

W: I don't know. I see myself .... I was into everything. All

my life I've been into it.

M: This is strange. It sounds like you really had the opportunity.

W: I made the opportunity. The school was there, it needed some changes

and I did them.

M: Well, was Questa still primarily a Latin school?

W: Yeah.

M: In '39.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Um, huh.

M: This is something that I don't know about. But west Tampa

they say was a Spanish community.

W: Yeah.

41: Was it?

W: Oh, yeah.

M: And how would you compare it with Ybor City in terms of the


W: Well, you see, when I came there there was two different types

of principals. Fowlkes was an academician to a large degree,

but still, and he had some pretty good teachers as a whole. And

the taught a regular course of academic instruction and I put in

the home ec. and I put in the arts and crafts. And I took

problem kids and I took kids where hungry and fed them and

if they needed dental care, I got dental care for them.

M: This is at Questa though?

W: Yeah.

M: You mentioned Fowlkes ...

W: Did the same thing at Ybor.when I went there.

M: They already had that at Ybor, the platoon system.

W: Yeah.

M: They didn't have the dental care thing, though, did they?

W: No.

M: That was something you added extra.

W: We fed, when I was there in 1930-32 we put in a soup kitchen

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


for the kids at Ybor because :we; didn't have any lunchroom.

M: Um, huh. How'd you supply it?

W: Well, the home ec. department did the cooking and they put it

in great big pots and the kids would come.&and we'd dip

out a big bowl of vegetable soup for them.

M: Well, I guess I meant where did you get the food from?

W: I don't remember.

M: Just drum it up out of the ...

W: Yeah, I think we got it from WPA and got it from what the kids

had paid for lunches and the teachers had paid for lunches.

M: And so then you go to Questa and you're saying it was a bit like

Ybor. It was ...

W: There was an interim in there.

M: Right.

W: See, I was at Ybor from September of 1930 to June of '32.

M: Okay.

W: Then I didn't teach in '32, well, in '32-'33 I was in Largo

HIgh School. Then in '33-'34 I only taught two weeks at

West Tampa Junior High School. And then I went to Wilson

Junior High School in '34. And then I went to Questa as

principal in '39, and went to Ybor as principal in '41. And

I determined that these kids at Ybor were going to have the

same opportunities as the best kids in the county had.

M: Would you say that Questa was pretty much the same as Ybor?

W: Yeah, except I doubt ,. I knew as much about the conditions

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


there although I did do a lot of things at Questa. I doubt

if I knew as much about the conditions as I did when I went-

to Ybor.

M: Did you have a platoon system at Questa though?

W: No.

M: Then it was not that crowded?

W: No, it wasn't that crowded.

M: Was it a smaller facility?

W: But the only thing I added to the curriculum at Questa was to

establish a lunch room and put in a home making class for the
older girls and / arts and crafts class for the older boys.

M: What about the needs of a Latin culture to attain their

identity? At home they wanted to be Spanish and then they

would come to school.

W: Well, what I tried to get them all to understand was to stay

with and to learn to speak Spanish correctly and English

correctly so they'd be bilingual and there would be oppor-

tunities for them for jobs that nobody else had. But I says,

unless you can learn to speak good English as well as you

learn to speak good Spanish you're not going to have the

opportunities that either Spanish or English have. I said,

the airlines or people who do business with South America

or opportunities to open up, to go into restaurants to
places /- stores where they need somebody to speak Spanish

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


and speaks English well. So that if a Spanish parent comes

in and doesn't speak English you can talk to them in Spanish.

And if an Englishman comes in and doesn't speak Spanish you

can talk to them in English. But you've got to be good

in both languages. I never tried to get rid of Spanish

or Italian, but I said you've got to be proficient in both

if you want the greater opportunities

M: What about in terms of teaching them American traditions. I

mean they come here and hear about George Washington, say.

How would they react to these?. How could you I deal with this

in a class?

W: We tried to teach them the things the basic courses taught

in there, and then we tried to talk to them and explAin things

to them about anything that came up that they had a question

about or an answer we tried to answer.

M: Did they use, you had textbooks I'm sure, didn't you?

W: Oh, yeah. We had textbooks from the first grade on up.

M: When would you introduce subjects like history or social

studies for example?

W: I don't remember. It seem to me like the first year we did

nothing but read, you might say.

M: Reading.

W: Reading and music and phys. ed. And then in the year we

SYbor City Tape

Wilson intervewi


introduced a little simple mathematics. Third year we put in

real courses in mathematics and reading and auditorium and

things of that kind. And then the fourth year they had the

full basics. Now I did something else at Ybor that was the first

thing ever done and I guess was the start of a lot of this

electronics stuff. There were two UMf,______

that came into Tampa. You know what a Wilcox ?

M: No, what's that?

W: Well, you could cut records.

M: Oh.

W: And so I bought one for Ybor School. And I'd take these

kids and all this business, and in the first

grade right on up. They'd go in there and cut one of them

little small records and it was the same kind of record they

could take home and play on their victrolas. And then they

could sit down and hear themselves. They would read into the

microphone i or do whatever else they wanted to do in the

microphone. Then they'd listen to it. And then they'd take

it home. And several days later, or a week later, two weeks

later, a month later whatever schedule came around, I don't

remember, they'd go back and then they could see how much

Improvement they'd made.

M: Yeah, that's a good idea.

W: And then we got to cutting at that time each elementary school

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


was putting on a radio program occasionally on one of the radio

stations. SoI got the big discs and when Orange Grove, say, would

put on a radio program I would record it. And then give them

the big record so they could go back to their Orange Grove

School and play the record and hear themselves on radio.

M: This you'd be doing for Orange Grove.

W: Or somebody else. It didn't matter, anybody else. Soon as

they found out I'd do it nearly every school that went on

wanted it done. Then I got a wire recorder later. I put

the first intercom system in at Ybor School. And I put the

first teachers' lounge in at Grove, got it built in.

And got the first air conditioning, first venetian blinds,

the first television set at Madison.

M: You know, a lot of these things you take for granted.

W: First.

M: You know, like the teachers' lounge.

W: Oh, yeah.

M: It would never occur to me you wouldn't have one.

W: Didn't have one before. First one I know of, actually a teachers'
lounge and that we /air conditioned and got venetian blinds in

was the one I had built in at Grove. I know the first

television set I bought at Madison, an Emerson, I remember it

very well. And I had it in the library so that when particular

programs come on and so forth they could go in the library and

watch them.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Let me ask you a sort of a monotonous question but it's got

to be asked. Trying to summarize the changes that you made

at Ybor City Elementary after 1941; it's pretty obvious

you made a lot of changes. How would you summarize those

changes? What are the ones that come to mind? I know that

you got rid of the platoon squad or platoon system. You

probably did away with the opportunity classes.

W: Ultimately, but I don't remember when it\uwas. I don't know

if I still had one or two classes when I left there.

M: You introduced the disc ...

W: Yeah, and the recordings and so forth.

M: The recordings. You introduced home ec. And shop.

W: Well, no, home ec. was there when I was there.

M: Okay. 'Cause Ybor would have been the ...

W: The platoon school had it when I came there.

M: Right. It would have been at Questa that you introduced

home ec. and shop as well as the school lunch and a dental


W: Dental clinic, yeah.

M: As well as bringing in WPA produce.

W: Produce and so forth. And at Ybor I started the big lunchroom

out there. Built the same thing. We took!' the old home making

department and made a made a lunchroom out of it-when we abolished

the platoon school.

M: YOu brought in concrete courts at Ybor.

Ybor City Tape

Wulson interview


W: Y Concrete courts, yeah.

M: What else? The home visits. Were there any ...

W: Homes visits I think was a county situation. I'm not sure, but

I was sure my teachers observed it.

M: You introduced the intercom system.
W: Yeah, I put in the first intercom/there. It was put in anywhere

in the county.

M: What else would be some major changes you brought about?

W: Umm, I don't know. Let me think back on it.

M: The curriculum must have changed by then.

W: Well, we went more into the traditional elementary curriculum.

M: You got away from this platoon thing?

W: Yeah. Went into traditional elementary curriculum.

M: And yet at Questa you never had the platoon system?

W: No.

M: Did you have this problem?

W: Ybor School was the only school in the state of Florida that

had a platoon system.

M: And probably the only school in the state of Florida that had

such a large immigrant population.

W: Well, it might have been, but I think Questa had almost as

much as many, they might not have been immigrants, but they

were still Latin, Italian, Cuban, Spanish and what-not.

M: Well, how did they handle it at Questalduring these years

without that platoon system?

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Well, we put them in the regular classes because by the time I

went to Questa ninety per cent of them ) were speaking English.

M: You 1, didn't have that kind of problem?

W: Didn't .' have a need.

M: And you didn't have the problem with older kids at Questa then

did you?

W: No, not as many, I had a few, but not as many.

M: It just wasn't there.

W: Only if they moved into that district, but most of them that

came in here they'd heard of Ybor City so they went to Ybor

City. Cigar factories and what-not. They were mostly in

Ybor City; there were two or three in west Tampa.

M: I know it, I've seen one out there the other day. Did the

school board, did you ever get any feedback from the school

board on your activities at Ybor in terms of the ...?

W: Well, I never had any contact with the school board. My

contact was with the supervising principal and the trustees

of district 4.
M: '- still had a supervising principal in those days?

W: Oh, yeah.

M: I think they don't have them anymore. Do they have them?

W: We had a supervising principal of all the district 4 schools

-___ at that time. And then we had an ele-

mentary supervisor and we had a secondary supervisor and we

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


had an art supervisor. And I brought Bob Gates in here as a special

education director when we started doing a whole lot in special

education.after the minimum foundation program was passed.

M: Bob Gates?

W: Yeah.

M: Who was he?

W: Well, he was Dr. Gates, now he went from, I got him moved from

here to the state department, took over the state on special

education. The gal that was in there hadn't not anything much

so I knew Tom Bailey real well; I brought.-him into Tampa, he

and I brought in here.

M: Oh, boy.

W: And so whenit became 1948 Tom either had to run for superintendent

or more or less get ; out, so I got him tied in with the

FEA, and then from there to the state department of education

and the he ran for superintendent and was elected state super-

intendent, which he held for eighteen years.

M: Bailey was down here for some time?
W: Yeah, he was/supervising principal in district 4 for some time.

We brought him here from Ocala. And we brought, later we

brought Bergason here from Ocala.

M: Fergeson or Bergason?

W: A. L. Bergason, B-e-r-g-a-s-o-n. Who retired finally as the

assistant superintendent for administration at the county office.

M: Tom Bailey later became state superintendent.

Ybor City School

WIlson interview


W: Yeah, for eighteen years.

M: Same one.

W: Yeah.

M: And Bergason was supervising principal, too.

W: Yeah. And then he went down to the county office when we

abolished the trustees.

M: YOu also mentioned Tom Gtes, no, Bob gates.

W: Bob Gates. Dr. Robert Gates. Last I heard of him he was a

$40,000-$50,000 man for Philco.

M: Philco? He's just in private enterprise righjnow. What was

his role here?

W: His role here was the county director of special education.

M: When would that have been?

W: Thbf I don't know.

M: In the forties or the fifties?

W: I don't remember just when it was. The records would probably

show it. And then when Tom Bailey left here in '48 and went

to the FEA and then went to the state department Bob stayed

here for quite a while. Then when Tom became state superin-

tendent doing some revising and I strongly recommended Bob

Gates to him as the state director. I had my hand in every-


M: Just offhand, is Gates still around Tampa?

W: No, he was in Philadelphia or somewhere up there.

M: Ah.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: See, he's educational director, educational consultant for

Philco last I heard of him. Got a real good job. He was the

head of the, he was quite active in, I was on the first board

of directors of educational data systems, FAEDS, Florida

Association of Educational Data Systems. I put the first

IBM stuff in here when I was at Plant. I got some of it at

Hillsborough and some at Plant, some at Jefferson, I think,

and we got some at the county office. Then when I went to

the county office I got the whole thing established in there.

It started with just the high schools, we were doing our,

not our registration, we were doing our people accounting,

and report cards. I thinkve had a 402 and a, I khow.: we
a a
had/keypunch,/sorter, a 402 down at the county office. And in

thehigh schools we had keypunch and a sorter.
M: Wish you had that back in the thirties, I / That really must

have ...

W: No, that was in the fifties. That was in '55, '56, '57,

around there. Around '57 I think.

M: No, I'm saying if you'd had that back in the thirties it

would have simplified things.

W: But I can remember when the county office had the super-

tendent, a rural supervisor, and two or three 4 people in the

bookkepping department period. And the secretary to the


M: The county superintendent?

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Yeah.

M: Just four people.

W: Well, there was the superintendent, his secretary, a county

supervisor, rural supervisor and three, about three people,

maybe in the accounting and in the office.

M: They never did come up with city supervisors, did they?

W: Not city. Well, they had some supervisors out of district 4.

They had an art supervisor when I was here and they had the

supervisor or the director of, which is called a supervisor

then I think, of the special education. And Frank Miles was

supervisor of Negro education.

M: Was he black or white?

W: No, he was white. Miles Elementary School is named after

himr He died.

M: Was West Tampa an elementary school for blacks?

W: So far as I know we didn't have any black students in West


M: Hmmm. I'm sure there was ...

W: Oh, yeah, we had Dunbar and Carver in west Tampa. Then we had another

one, too, Bethune, which was back over toward the Palmicia area.

M: And those were strictly, well, those two in west Tampa must

have had a lot of black Cubans ...

W: They were all black, didn't make any difference what they were.

M: I'm sure I remember there was a west ...

End of side 1, Part 2.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Uh, I just ...

W: I started the summer program in Hillsborough County.

M: What summer program? You got me.

W: The 1947 mimimun foundation program provided for ASIS units.

One-fifth of the number of units that you had during the

school year could work in a summer program, which basically

started out to be a so-called recreational program. But I had

thirteen different activities when I started in Hillsborough

County. I produced a brochure on it accepted ... even in

universities and then in, that was '48. In 1950 or '49, I

don't remember which it was now I made a complete one, which

went all over the United States and some of them went to

Canada. But it was a forerunner now. We had no academics

then. We had a special academic summer school that they

paid tuition to. But I understand now they have some academic

programs in the summer program.

M: You mean in Hillsborough County?

W: Yeah. And the new one, a new situation, I don't know what's

going to happen to the summer program because on the new funding

program, which was adopted in '71 or '72, I don't remember

what the situation is. I've seen some articles in the paper

about is Hillsborough County going to carry it on out of federal

sharing funds or just what I don't know. But I haven't kept up

much with it. I left the Hillsborough County system in '65

to become vice-president of the National

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


which was a tax shelter company I helped along. .I had

no idea when I got the program built that I'd ever be associated

with it. After we got it built and accepted, built it so that

it was greatest thing for teachers at that time 'on the market

The closest competitor we had was charging teachers fifty per

cent more, what we call front-end load, than our company was

charging. And we had a better program,'cause I research forty or

fifty companies before I built it.

M: That's the way you do things. You have to do your homework

on it.

W: And I had been working with it on a national council. The first

thing we had no availability for a tax shelter until

'62. It was passed for corporations in '54. And if I owned

ABC Corporation, and you worked for me, any money I put aside

for your retirement I could deduct from my income so that it was

tax sheltering 'asfar as I was concerned. But teachers were

not included or excluded. The National Council of Teacher

Retirement went to work on it back in '55 and '56 and finally February of '62. It became available

for teachers. And I went to work on it from a national level

and then from the state level then from the local level in '63,

'64 and built our program in '65.

M: You did a lot of your important work when you got older, too.

I noticed I' that. You start off working in schools ...

W: You need the experience. And you need to establish yourself

Ybor City Tape

WIlson interview


as a person they listen to. If they had something they wanted

to experiment they'd come to me. I'd try it and consider it.

If it was any good I'd say it's real good; we did this, this

and this. If it wasn't I'd say, throw the damn thing out th-


M: This even as a principal?

W: Yeah.

M: It seems like as a principal, you pretty much ran the show.

W: I did. I told them that if I wasn't good enough to run it,

they could get somebody else.

M: What would the teachers do most of the time? Did they have their

own, did they have a teachers' association or somehting?

W: Back then we had a Hillsborough County Education Association and

CTA, which the CTA didn't do anything mostly.

M: What was the CTA?

W: Classroom Teachers Association. And then later, the CTA, when

some of these, what we called them, young radicals at that time,

took over and the ATEA disbanded a year or two later. And

they have a strong CTA now. An executive secretary, an assistant,

and whatnot. They took over the building that the Hillsborough

County Educational Association built and so on and so forth.

M: How did you feel as a principal about the teachers organizing?

W: I felt the greatest organization we could have at that time was

the Hillsborough County Educational Association because that

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interveiw


included everybody.

M: Principals and teachers.

W: Yeah. And county office people, too. That we could do

more for them than they could do for themselves statewide.

M: Which was probably true.

W: Which was I think definitely true. I was on a committee on

salaries and I was the only one representing senior high

schools. And they had a comm iee composed of some principals

of elementary schools and then a proportion of junior highs

and then I was the senior high. And when we drew up, I drew

up several salary schedule I got the first single salary

schedule passed in Hillsoborugh County in 1942. Up until that

time anybody got anything. For instance, a guy out here in

was going out for school board so they upped his

salary fifty dollars a month. And they took it away from

a guy out here at Twin Lakes.

M: Oh. By single salary you mean a standard salary?

W: Yeah. Based on units; based on number of teachers and so on

and so forth. The principal of a little Point school

because it was a separate district, they had a lot of money n

in it, made more more than a Hillsborough High School principal

that had seven times or eight times as many teachers. A prin-

cipal over at McFarlane Junior High School had thirteen teachers

and the principal at Seminole Elementary School had twenty-

eight teachers and the teacher at McFarlane made fifty or sixty

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


or seventy dollars a month more than the one at ... you know.

M: How could you get this passed with resistance?

W: Well, just handing that in and got the school board to approve it.

M: This was a local law or what?

W: No, it was like a regulation.

M: Oh, a school regulation.

W: There was no local law. No law anywhere. Every school district

according to its amount of money set its own teachers' salaries

and principals' salaries.

M: Well, didn't the school board have to approve everything they

did? Or no.

W: I don't remember whether they had to approve it or not, but

they couldn't disapprove it. More or less.

M: No, because Inwould read the minutes and they would say,

"district so-and-so petitioned for such and such."

W: Well, I think maybe they did approve it but they never did

disapprove it, that I know of if a district recommended it

M: And yet they accepted the regulation in 1942 of standard

slary or single salary system.

W: Well, you see, by that time, by that time the districts

weren't as powerful as they were before.

M: There's been a lot of consolidation.

W: The county school board members had organized statewide. The

trustees hadn't.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Oh, you mean you had two factions.

W: Oh, yeah.

M: I thought they t were altogether.

W: No, they weren't at that time. The school board was very

jealous at that the fact that they didn't have authority over

the whole county system and the trustees wouldn't let them

have it 'cause they were constitutional officers., Not until

1947 did we have s single district.

M: YOu're saying there was a balance of power then?

W: Well, suppose you were trustees in Point. Alright,

you've got the district millage. If you had a wealthy

district you got more money. So if you were the trustees

you hired the principal, you hired the teachers. In some cases

they took the principal's recommendations, some cases

the principal didn't know who they were going to have until

they got them.

M: It was just the trustees.

W: Yeah. Port Tampa, for instance, little old elementary school
in Port Tampa /s paid a lot more i money than the prin-

cipal at Hillsborough. So when I got the thing set up I set

it up on teacher units and graduated it so that everybody that

had that size school got the same salary.

M: Now there was one thing here you said ...

W: In some cases nobody got any raise, somebody didn't get new

raises, but a lot of other people did get big raises.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Which was unjust.

W: Well, depends on what you started with. Why should r you be

Sa twenty-eight teacher school and make fifty, sixty, seventy

dollars a month less money than the principal of thirteen-people


M: Oh, I see. In other words they're beginning to equalize things.

W: Yeah.

M: So people would .... Now you said that the county school board,

oh, there were districts, there was a Tampa district ...

W: Originally there was sixty-seven districts and when I came in

here there were thirty-seven, I think it had come down to

thirty-seven districts.and a set of trustees and a supervising

principal, or a principal of each of those districts. As far

as I remember the only supervising principal was the one in

the Tampa district, which was the big district, district 4.

M: Weren't there also three overall districts of some kind?

W: Oh, no. There's the county-wide, which the county superin-

tendent and county school board had. Then the Ui districts

within the county each had their own set of trustees and
their own principal,/ c supervising principal.

M: I remember now what it was. It was somebody, like the three

county school board members each came from a different area.

W: Yeah. They came from a different political district.

M: So that was a different type of ...

W: Yeah.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview

*J 80

M: I think it was administrators ...

W: They had to live in that district to be elected from that


M: Okay. That was something entirely different.

W: And then they were elected by districts.

M: Which were the special school tax districts, weren't they?

W: Yeah. Well, no, they were the countywide districts, but they

were political districts. You had to live in that district,

you were elected only by that district, where they're now

elected countywide regardless of which district they're'in.

And at that time there were three county school board r onSo

There's seven now I think.

M: Right.

W: After the trustees were abolished by referendum why, then they

moved the school board from three to five and then later they

went from five to seven.

M: When was the school board or the trustee system ... you're

talking about 1947, aren't you?

W: Not, I don't know when it was, but it was after '47.

M: Oh, thta was something else then.

W: Well, in '47, no, in '47 they made one district whose boundaries

were coexistent to the county, but you still A had that three

trustees who had the district millage controlled and employ-

ment within that district. But gradually they became reccending,

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


they became a recommending group rather than a controlling

group. The county board took over.

M: And finally those trustees were ...

W: Then finally, later on those trustees were abolished by

local referendum, a Hillsborough County referendum.

M: So what you're saying is there was a pretty big fight between

the trustees and the school board.

W: Yeah, 'cause the trustees are the ones that

had to put a roof on the building and they had the control of

the districtimillage*throughtthe principal-who looked after


M: How would*hat interfere with your attempts to bring about changes

for example, with retirement? Didn't ...

W: Well, you see, that was before the retirement system we put in

in '39 was a state thing. It- wasn't county. And still is. Well,

now the county has to pay their share, ...

M: Right.

W: But originally they didn't. But the state, the state when

they first changed it so that the county had to pay it they

allowed the county five hundred dollars per unit to pay their

share of it. I don't know what they allow now. I just don't

know. Since '65 I've lost contact with a lot of it. Two

reason: I was awfully busy, and second was by choice and

after Farnell went out I didn't I didn't have any more

particular interest in it anyway. The only member of the

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


top staff, the administrative staff, that's still there is

Dave Irwin; that was there when I was there. Bergasen retired

and retired; Fisher got fired; Benton Cooke retired

and went to some island in Formosa somewhere. There were

five or six of us in all. Riley Colson became the assistant

superintendent of personnel. At A that time they had a director

of personnel who wasn't on the staff at that time. Assistant

superintendent for finance, which was Fisher, got fired after

Crawford Greene died. And then the man that came in

brothers. They brought Wayne Hull in from, who used to be

superintendent in Hernando County, now the assistant super-

intendent for Business Affairs. Rodney Colson is assistant

superintendent for Personnel. Assistant superintendent for

Administration is Paul Wharton. And assistant superintendent

for Instruction is Frank Farmer. And Vocational Education is

still When they put in the county coordinators

who were really supposed originally to develop into assistant

superintendents for these areas and they were supposed to

have a staff and so forth. It's never come to that yet. They're

the go-betweens between the principal and the staff. And the

staff and superintendent are go-betweens between the coordinators

and school board.

M: That's still a far cry from the way things used to be.
W: Oh, Lord, yeah. There's so many people down there now/I don't

even know a third of them hardly and I've only been gone since

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview



M: You know, as you talk, I get the impression of sort of a

pioneer place back in the early thirties. And all at once we

come up to the present and all I can see are the machines and


W: Well, it's more back, back ... the only qualification a super-

intendent had to have at that time was to get elected. When

I came here W. D. F. Snipes was superintendent. I think he

had an eighth grade or a tenth grade education. And then when

he went out, I don't remember who they got, I think he got beat

in an election; Dr. E. L. Robinson, who was secondary super- -

visor when I came here became superintendent. And he was a -

very fine cultured gentleman, but he believed..primarily that

problems if you let them alone, they'd solve themselves.

He was a bench warmer. Very fine man.

M: I know her wrote a book about the Hillsborough County, history

of Hillsborough County.

W: I don't remember.

M: What was he like?

W: He was superintendent until McGlocklin was elected.

M: That makes him almost twenty years.

W: Yeah. Let's see. He became superintendent ...

M: About 19312

W: '32 or I think he took office January, '32. And stayed in until


Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: 1He held office then?

W: Yeah. And Jeter had run against him four years before and lost.

And I think the reason that when three of us ran, when Robinson

was retiring, I think Jeter got the backings of the Masons and

the old crowd, because he had run once before and showed a

good race against E. L. Robinson But Jeter didn't get the

votes. The votes Jeter got was against E. L.

M: He didn't really run so well / as he thought.

W: But the Masons and all got behind him and he and McGlocklin were

in the runoff. And McGlocklin beat him by 375 votes or some-

thing like that. Very close.

M: What was E. L. Robinson like?

W: He was a very fine, cultured gentleman. Used to be principal of

Hillsborough High School. Then he was secondary supervisor,

then he became superintendent. But he ...

M: What kind of a ship did he run?

W: Very, let everything alone type of thing.

M: Was he raised in Hillsborough County, was he a ...?
W: No, I think he came here .-/I from Alabama. I'm not sure.

I think he brought from Alabama.

M: Brought what from Alabama?

W: that psed to be principal of Hillsborough

High School. Well, he was principal of Wilson and then Plant,

then that ... oh, the one out on 40th Street right close to that

junior high school when you went to Hillsborough.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: Middleton?

W: No.

M: Seminole?

W: No. Middleton was a Negro school.

M: Middleton was a Negro school?

W: T Yeah, Middleton was built as a Negro high school.

M: Yeah, right, right,.

W: Middleton and Blake.

M: So Middleton was originally ...

W: Middleton originally was the only Negro high school.

M: Because now it's a junior high, and before that it was elementary.

W: No, it was built as a high school for Negroes.

M: But it became a school for whites.

W: It was mixed.

M: Oh, now it's mixed, right. No longer a high school.

W: But it was built as the first Negro high school. Then when

they got too many for that they built Blake.

M: Uh, huh.

W: Over on the river there's a Negro high school. Then when they

had integration why, of course they turned the whole thing over.

M: I think: you were starting to tell me about something else

when I broke in.

W: I don't remember now. We were talking about E. L. Robinson, I


M: Right.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: I'd go down and get on him about this, this and this. And he'd

say, ... "if you just let that alone it'll solve itself." I

remember back here when they had bonds and we were

having seven months of school a year and those bonds were taken

over by the county commissioners and I wanted to pass a piece

of legislation to sell those bonds and provide money for

schools. And finally I went down to the school board. They

didn't approve it at first. I said, "Well, gentlemen," I said,

"If you don't approve it tomorrow morning the Tribune and the

rest of them are going to know where, why we don't have nine

months of school." That afternoon they called me. I went

back down there and E. L. said, "go get your bill prepared

and let me see it." I said, "Well, who do you want to prepare it?"

He said, "Well, Judge Hyams is probably the best." I said,

"Well, who'd going to pay for it?" He said, "The school board

will pay for it." So I went over to Judge Hyams and told him
exactly what I wanted ifi-the / and he drew the bill. E. L.

approved it. I got in an automobile and went to Tallahassee

to get it through the legislature. Nat Whittaker was our

senator at that time.

M: What bill was this now?

W: This was a bill to sell these bonds at public or private

auctions and the money would go to the school board.

Then I got another bill through up there that gave the school

board a pro rata share of the race track funds which the

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


county commissions had gotten all of. I even got the county

commissioners to approve it. Passed a bill so that, say, you

got $60,000 and the school board was entitled to $20,000 or

$25,000. Actually at that time iwas 52% of it. We got it

through and so that money helped to keep us going.

M: You know, Robinson also during the forties there when you

were with Ybor City did you ever go to him with any problems?

W: Oh, yeah.

M: What was his feeling the special problems?

W: Well, it depended on how he felt about them. He finally,

he finally, well, he finally more or less approved the single

salary schedule. I had gone through the trustees; I was

public relations or something, chairman of the Elementary

Principals Council at that time. And I drafted that thing for

single salaries ; worked up all the schedules and

everything and took it down there and finally got it passed

by the school board.

M: Now how did he feel about things like the platoon system?

W: If he ever felt anything about it, he never even expressed it

to me. I guess it was during his administration maybe, I don't

know. Maybe it was after McGlocklin went in that we changed

the platoon systemto a regular school system. Dr. Geiger,

the fellow over here from St. Petersburg, I think took Tom

Bailey's place. And then following him was N. S. Hale. I

don't remember who followed him. Maybe Geiger followed Hale.

Ybor City Tape

wilson interview


I don't know. But anyway, they were there.

M: Well, do you have anything you want to add to this?

W: No, nothing I i know of.

M: Anything ...

W: Anything that you want to add?

M: I couldn't think of another ...

W: You'd have to ask the questions 'cause I, I'mAs; just rambling.

M: You sometimes get off into these subjects about the ...

W: Well, they're all tied in together in a way.

M: Yeah, that's the thing. But ...

W: I was on the coordinating committee that helped draft M4 the

minimum foundation program. I wrote the, we had no real

lunchroom accounting there. I wrote into that bill that everybody,

every school had to have a budget, and have an accounting and

the lunchrooms had to have an accounting, drew up

for the lunchroom and accounting. And got the ASIS units in

there and went up to Tallahassee with the superintendent. And

we wrote the state board of regulations to control the operation

of the ASIS units and so on and so forth.

M: The thing is that mos of my concern is with the problems of

the foreign population and of course you've had a lot of

other experiences ...

W: Yeah, the foreign population actually, back in the thirties and

early forties was just a foreign population more or less. Yet

they were amalgamated into the city and so on and so forth.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


And gradually the people begin to move into areas that they hadn't

been in before. And as the kids got grown up and married they

moved out into the outlying districts at that time. The old

folks stayed in Ybor. That's one of the reasons that the

population, schoolpopulation

M: One of the things, too, is Ybor apparently adjusted, Ybor

Elementary adjusted to the Latin people.

W: Well, it really was Latin to begin with.

M: Well, it could be Latin but it had these special programs.

W: Oh, yeah.

M: But you mentioned Questa, A. L. Questa. And it didn't seem to

adjust ...

W: It was Latin but it didn't have it. I don't know whether the

need, the need for some of them were there. That's why I put

in the homemaking- and put in the arts and crafts or shop,

minimized shop, I didn't ;call it shop, I called it arts and

crafts shop. We built an exhibit for the fair out of wood

for the flagand a bunch of other stuff. We won first prize

every time we presented it over there.

M: The i ,
W: Yeah. Florida : -. Fair.

M: Oh, oh. Florida-wide, statewide.

W: Well, it was held in Tampa .But it was called the Florida

State Fair. They still have it. We put in clothing and we

put in the stuff that we made in there and we made everything.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


The gal I had head of it, I had a woman head of it over there.
Her/sons ran trunk factory. She originally had

been in a trunk factory so she knew how to built and make

things. And she was a grand old gal. Name was King. I had

two Kings over there. I had the King that I had down there

and I had an Etta King which taught upstairs and taught one

of the grades, fifth grade or something like that. So we had

some things going. I had two full drawers of stuff that

went all the way back to the first salary schedule that I got

adopted. And I just cleaned them all out and threw them .away

about a month ago. One time I was going to write a book;

never did. So I just finally decided it wasn't no use taking

up any more space with it.

M: I'll say this. Ifj you can't write a book sometimes, if you'd

just do an article. That helps..

W: Well, when I came to Ybor we found a need, that first Halloween

out there the kids were messing up things down on Broadway or

down on all over town and everything. There were no organi-

zations so Al Shermanti, who was a trustee, or county school-

board member at that time and Albert Knapp, who was very

much interested in kids and in Ybor City, worked with the

post office. And three or four of us, and I got the principals

together and we decided f we'd start the Ybor carnival. That's

when we started that.

M: What was the Ybor carnival? I don't understand.

Ybor City Tpae

Wilson interview


W: That was the one we held at Park for Halloween every

year for the three schools. Phillip Shore and ...

M: Orange Grove.

W: Orange Grove and Ybor.

M: Ybor. And three of you gentlemen got together on this ...

W: I got together with Al Shermandi and this other guy and they

did the promoting of it and we did the things.

M: How did the kids like that?

W: Oh, they loved it.

M: Lot of parents come to that thing.

W: We had as many as fifteen or eighteen thousand people there.

M: What were some of the other big events like the carnival, be-

sides the carnival that you had?

W: That was about all we did out there. Except we had PTA.nights

and we had kids perform and all that other stuff* 1

M: During PTA nights?

W: Yeah. They'd come, more people would come if we had their kids

in something.

M: Oh. Well, then how would, what would you do at a PTA meeting,

you'd just have a play orr..?

W: Well, I started the PTA in Ybor. There wasn't any when I

got there.

M: Wait a minute. There was no PTA when you came in '41 to Ybor?

W: No.

M: No PTA at all. How did the parents get involved with 9?

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: They wouldn't.

M: They just ignored it?

W: Yeah. Only time a parent got involved when the kid got in trouble.

M: That was the relationship between the school and the parent.

W: Yeah. Or the parents would run to the trustee; ''that's why

I elected you, to look after me." And the trustee would get

in touch with me and I'd tell them my side of the story and

the !. get the parent down and see them.

M: Well, would these be Latin parents.talking to ...?

W: Latin trustees.

M: Oh, they had Latin trustees. I didn't know that.

W: Yeah. Angelo Greco and Jimmy Greco was one of the district

4 trustees. We always had.a Latin on there.

M: Yeah, well, I just didn't know. I thought they were Anglos.

W: No.

M: Anglo-Americans.

W: George Chamberlain was a trustee at one time;

from Plant City; and Jimmy Greco were the three trustees.

M: You had Latin trustees breathing down your neck all the time.

W: Oh, occasionally.

-Ju. They hired the teachers, they hired me.

A-W- How did they feel about your administration there?

W: Well, apparently they liked it. They left me there for ten

years until I asked to move.

M: Uh, huh.

Ybor city Tape

Wilson interview


W: '41 to '50. Nine years I guess.

M: That was long enough.

W: Well, September '41 through June of '50.

M: Nine years is a long time to spend at anything.

W: Yeah.

M: You mentioned that the parents started the PTA. You started

the PTA after you got there. How did you start this?

W: I called, I just called a bunch of the parents that I had be-

come acquainted with and the trustees and so forth. And we

called them into a meeting at Ybor School.

M: You got the trustees.

W: I had the trustee that was in that area.

M: This is important because it means that if you call in a trustee

this gives you ...

W: I had to have him; had to have his influence, too. And the

other people had PTAs and I said, why can't we have one?

M: Oh, there were other PTAs in the area butjust Ybor ...

W: There wasn't none at Ybor.

M: How about Questa? Did they have one there?

W: I don't remember. I think I organized one I'm not sure.

M: I'm almost afraid to ask. Phillip Shore?

W: I don't know.

M: Orange Grove.

W: I don't know.

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


M: But the parents came and the trustees came and you came.

W: The trustee.

M: The, oh, there's only one trustee.

W: Well, there was only one from that area out there.

M: I thought there 1# were three trustees per district.

W: There were. One of them was from, one of them was ... one

of them was George Chamberlain and the other was, I believe

it was statewide, uh, countywide trustees at that time, after

'47. But now originally out in Ybor we had three trustees

locally, but I don't member who the other two were. Because

the one I worked with was the trustee, was Jimmy Greco, uh,

Angelo Greco, and then Jimmy. And we just sat up there and

said, "Don't you think that we could do a lot more f for

these kids if we had the PTA and these parents interested

and coming to school and becoming a -, part of it and helping

us out with building a program?" So they did. And we

elected a president and called another meeting of the parents

and we elected a president and a vice-president and a

secretary and all the other things in PTA. And we met once a

month. At night.

M: This is another thing you did then. You can add that to the

list of contributions.

W: Yeah.

M: And the meetings once a month, you'd have the children ...

Ybor City Tape

Wilson interview


W: Well, we'd use the, yeah, the auditorium or the home ec. or

somebody else would put 6n a program for them.

1: That would bring in the parents.

W: Yeah. Everybody's child who was participating brought in a

parent and the rest of the kids.

M: Did they have parent committees?

W: I don't know. I don't remember any.

M: In other words who::would do the work on the PTA of raising

money and doing things like that?

W: Well, they had fifty cents or something like that. Any-

body that came and joined the PTA paid fifty cents.

M: Did a lot of people join?

W: I don't remember. Must have been !. quite a few.

M: In other words it helped that they could get some money to do

something. What are some of the things the PTA did?

W: Well, they helped get that stuff in the lunchroom down there

and so forth. And they helped wherever I needed them. I'd

call on them to have their money and or if I needed some

influence. See, Peter was president at the time that

he helped us build those ... he was a carpenter, built those

platforms out there under the shed that ..we used for the


End of Tape II, side 2.