Interview with Senator John J. McCarty and John D. Almard, Jr.

Material Information

Interview with Senator John J. McCarty and John D. Almard, Jr.
McCarty, John J. ( Interviewee )
Almond, John D. Jr. ( Interviewee )


Subjects / Keywords:
St. Lucie County Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
St. Lucie 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 'St. Lucie County' 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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St. Lucie Tapes 2. DS

TAPE 2: Senator John J. McCarty also John D. Almard, Jr.

Inroduction: Born in what we call downtown Fort Pierce Town, and he

went to school there. He was born in the of the court-

house, the of the St. Andrews Episcopal Church. Well, when he

went off to school and since he has moved from there. He is still

law office down there, so now he is practicing law in the

office in the of the courthouse, and he is prac-

ticing law in the courthouse, and he is practicing dow at the St.

Andrews church on the new literature. So between the two of them he

is keeping pretty good, busy. He went to the public schools here and

off to college. He got a double LV degree, a AG and what else, that's

it. He has been passed through these different offices about as many

times as I have, because the state hasn't been so good to us all of the

time. So we are both kind of what you might call confederates, and in

the meantime, he took time to go off to World War 2, combat major. If

he had any difficulties in war, I was going to let him tell you about

that, but I know that he knows how to handle firearms. I know that he

is one of that if you caught a rattlesnake up and get

him to have his rattle round, he can shoot the head off faster than I

can get out of a Volkswagon. I've seen him do it. He has a lovely

wife, a lovely home on the Indian River. He has a daughter. His

grandmother used to sing in the St. Andrews church, his daughter sings

there now. He has a boy, Tommy. I don't know what he's going to do


with Tommy, but Johnny seems to be ranch manager. He, our speaker, has

a little ranch out southwest of town. A few cows, hens, four ducks, and

quite a few citrus groves. I think he got about enough, but he is going

to try and tell you what he thinks about the situation as it is now. Is

my pleasure to give you... I don't know whether to say senator, judge,

or brother or just John. So I think I'll just turn it over to John.

M: Looks like you put me in the right uniform this evening. Just put

that there in case you do want to hear, grandmommie. Mr. President, I'm

delighted to be here. I want to thank for that generous intro-

duction, kinder than I expected. I think that after twenty-two years you

could have been a lot less generous. May I say in beginning that I

should confess to you, as I look around this group, that I would feel much

more at ease, were I out there listening to you reminisce, because I

feel some of the things that mentioned, taking me away from

Fort Pierce have ineffect deprived me of many things that I would like to

know and recall about our county and city. I'm not concerned at all

about the future of this organization, Mr. President, because your pro-

gram chairman is most persevering. He asked me and asked me and I re-

peatedly declined and finally told him that I would be glad to speak

to you all in July. I think he of course realize that you may quit for

the summer. But, at any rate, about ten days ago, he called me back and

said that he had had a cancellation and would I please reconsider. I

said yes that I would, but it was against my better judgement, and so I

do apologize to you all from the beginning for coming here this evening


out of terms, when perhaps you would have had a good break in July.

When he asked me to think about some of these things, about the family,

and to talk to you about some of the pass events in my family, I was of

course hesitant and I still don't know exactly what to say in that

regard. But for many of you who have been here longer than I and I do

not quite qualify on that announcement that Miss Annie made about nine-

teen-five. I would like to take you back at least, say, fifty years and

reminisce with you a little bit through those years and then make several

comments depending on what time I have left about any family situation.

Before I do conclude, though on my acknowledgement to Mannie, let me say

that I am reminded by his invitation of one of our old golfing parson

down at St. Andrews that was badly beaten in golf by one of the elder

members of the congregation. He felt very despondent as he returned to

the clubhouse, and the older man said, "Cheer up, after all remember that

eventually you'll win because you'll be burying me some day." And the

despondent parson said, "Yes, but even then it will be your hole." And

I think that the reason I had to accept Mannie, was that Mannie and I

along with Walter and some of them"that approach the church as a label

of love in many instances have made a commitment to each other that we'll

see that we get up and down that ailse for the last time. So I wanted to

be sure at the rate I was going that Mannie was there to see that I got

down that ailse the last time. Speaking of St. Andrews, if you have not

visualized from introduction, I was born about a block south

of St. Andrews there on Indian River Drive. In going back to that fifty

year period, I would reminisce with you that at that point the four

houses in the block were occupied by my mother and father and our family,


and then the three Sample brothers, Adrian, John, and Harry, and of

course if you old timers will recall at that point, why, pineapples were

all up and down the ridge there. And since I see Adrian and Margaret

sitting here, I have to go back to the recollections of going back and

forth in that block as actually the first recollections I have of Fort

Pierce. My father died in 22, and I have a few recollections prior to

that time, for example, sitting in church with him or being in family

gatherings with him, and I recall when he and Mr. Williamston

after World War I to pave the road out to so that they could

get to And I remember distintly, the real shining

lights of that period were one time coming in right at the end of Georgia

Avenue and Fourth Street, which was just the flat Savanna. Some of the

old by-planes coming back and landing in there after World War II, and

then steamrollers working on that road out pass the Delaware School and

that type of thing. But all of those redollections'have .to take second

priority to the fact that as I think and live in downtown Fort Pierce

forty or fifty years ago, you have to take a tourdown Indian River Drive

to Avenue A and then up Second Street and then back down. As I do that

for example, I think in terms of what we think of difficulties with the

younger generation today, well let me tell you that in those days it was

the real fine easygoing life in Fort Pierce. If on Saturday after school,

you could go out on either Uncle Adrian's dock or the Gulf dock or even

down to Walter Peterson's dock and fish and catch a few

sheephead or something like that and then come back down and with your

buddies cook themnsomewhere. That was really living. And, of course, as

you made that trip to the dock, you had to go by a place that many of you


will remember and get a chuckle out of and that was Billy Whistlebritches

place. Now, he was a barber on the west side of Indian River Drive at

that time. And I should comment to you that some of you may not recall

this increase in our highway system, but at that point it was US I,

Indian River Drive was, and of course there was a little bit of traffic

there,with Model T's and that kind of thing and Uncle Adrian had a very

fine ModelT.that Charles and Wallace and all of us used to enjoy riding

in around that area. And of course, anytime you rode or walked by

Billy Whistlebritches, if you just whistled regardless of who, he was

working on he would always answer and whistle back at you. Now I've

left out one step as we go up that street, and that is that the East-

coast Grocery was right there on the corner of Orange Avenue and Indian

River Drive. And I think that this is more or less a tip as to the re-

lationship of the community at that point. I've already mentioned

Uncle Adrian's dock and the fact that Uncle Jack and Uncle Harry lived

righ there next door. Everything in the sense, was very friendly at that

point. When you stopped in the Eastcoast Grocery, you either saw Uncle

Jack or Uncle John Harris, or Daddy-B as they called at

that point, and for those of you fellows who went down there, you re-

member that there was always that big ole sack of peanuts sitting there,

and everybody would take a few samples and move on down the street. Well

I know every Saturday they ran more kids out of that store, grabbing t.

those peanuts than it was allowed but, at the end of the block of

course, you would reach the bandstand where Bandy and the Band always

tuned up on Sunday afternoon. And, there wasn't much to do on Sunday


if you missed the boat to the beach, except to go to that band concert.

Of course, most of the kids ran around and made more noise than the band

did anyway. But at the end of that dock right there, at thjfoot of Avenue

A was of course store and nobody can make any reminiscing

remarks about that period of our community-without referring to Mr. Cob's

store. And of course there you have Uncle Dick, W. T. Harbin, you had

Mr. Miss Ella, Ella Hankins, those people were just as much a

part of everybody's community life as anybody could be. And of course

you may recall what impressed the children at that point was that Mr.

Cob always had a box of candy back there in his office and after you

were able to buy anything, why then your parent always took you back

there and let you get a piece of candy from Mr. Cob. So, that period of

fifty years ago is still, fifty to forty years ago, is about as fresh in

my mind today of the many pleasant experiences I had here as anything

could be. Seeing Fannie Richards sitting here, I must have caught my

first ride in the old sea plane with Richards when I think it

was when they opened the inlet here. And it was awful rough that day

and that could be why I haven't ever really had a charge out of flying

ever since then, but I'm satisfied the only way we ever got up, we

bounced into the air that day and it was quite an experience. The turn

from up Avenue A of course, came to the next corner where Uncle

the hardware store, and of course Bought us some grocery.

An on down the street was and Uncle Harry had an old thea-

ter there that was part of every one of our lives, because at that point

we didn't have anything but silent movies. And every Saturday night,

mother, and the other mothers took turns reading to all the kids on the


back row, 'cause Uncle Harry would let all of us sit up on the rail of

the back row so we could see over the heads of everybody else. And one

of the parents would read loud enough for the rest of the kids in that

row to hear. So, we had some great experiences there, and of course

there's no comparison to or nothing to aver take the place of somebody

like Mr. sitting there laughing in one of those movies. As

I'm sureaall of you recall so vividly. After the, that part of my

experience in growing up, I think that I should reminisce a little bit

on out farther. And that was the fact that in that stage they had the

elementary school at: what used to be St. on the corner of

tenth street and orange avenue, but prior to that time of course, it was

the elementary school. I went to school there in the first and second

and third grade. And all of you will recall that the real landmark at

that in our lives was Mr. store on the corner of Ninth Street

and Orange Avenue, where the best licorice and in town were

found. And in passing, I should say that that Miss and Mrs.

Anderson and Mrs. Bullard, my first three teachers there, made a pro-

found impression on me at that stage in my life, and I think had as much

influence on my approach to getting an' education as anybody did. I

moved over in the fourth grade for the first year on Delaware Avenue and

of course as you think back on these things that I'm discussing and re-

miniscing with you about that changed another approach to the town and

approach to the school, because instead of going out Orange Avenue, for

example, you then cut through the old SEC depot and got a drink of water

and had a good greeting with Don Mustang or somebody like that there and

you then slipped on down the railroad with the. old wire by Uncle Stan


Kerby's packing house where you can get an orange or a tangerine right

there at Seventh Street, ease on across the street, either by Mr. Register's

or through Uncle Gussie's backyard and slip on4there down Boston Avenue

and you were at school. This was almost a daily routine, going and

coming right through those short cuts and enjoying the people as you saw

them change with the community. And of course at that point, the Florida

East Coast Railroad was still the biggest thing in town. To have a train

come through here and all was still an event. Somebody asked me why I

never get upset at trying to be on time or get about missing a train,

I say, "Well I guess it's just training because over the years you al-

ways just sat there at the dinner table until you heard the train come in

over at the station and then you'd get up and go over and get on the

train. And you didn't think about having to run thirty or forty blocks

in traffic or with a taxi cab or something like that." Then of course

everything changed after that period because we got away from having cars

lined up and down the side of the football field with the parents lined

up there behind the rope, and a couple of the professors taking tickets

if they could catch kids coming in and that kind of thing. They moved

from that period of athletic activity behind the school down to the JC

fieldAwhich was built of course with Bob and a lot of you that are here

in this organization we calling the work here on the east side of Fourth

Street. That came however, after we had gone out to field. At that point

I believe it was Milwaukee had a baseball team here and they had a field

out on the west side of Thirty-third Street. And of course the events of

of moving back and forth trying to keep an athletic program going in the

school just before and during the height of the depression:were something


else. I'm a stop just a second to digress, Mr. President, to say that

when you can't think in terms of who is where on the river without, be-

cause of the change of ownership during the boom and that you would

have to go back thirty-five or forty years and think about it, well,

that just gives you an indication of how time has flown because forty

years ago you were right in the height of the boom. And you'd have to

go a little bit farther back before that to remember who was where. I

believe that I should your indulgence to say that from the

fourth grade on Delaware Avenue, Margaret was my teacher,

Mrs. now, and then of course in the fifth grade was Mrs.

Gleason, a great distinguished lady as far as teaching. I don't mean

with any derigatio o the others that I'd mentioned, but Mrs. Gleason

was at that point in her life was just a with silver hair and all that

she just impressed you from the start and you couldn't help but learn

a great deal from her. She had spelling contests every day and of course,

I'm going to mention my grandmother in a minute, but she was a great

one on that because she always made us spell down at home anyway. And so

it made me feel at home where there was Mrs. Gleason. In the sixth grade

Mrs. Ishabell Snow was my teacher. Incidently many of these are still

alive and here ofcourse Mrs. Gleason is not. In the seventh grade that

was our first junior high school adventure, and this was over on the

west end there at Delaware School. And this was the time when we began

to get into the changing of classes which was of course a new experience

and quite a thrill because up to that time one teacher had taught you

everything, all courses. And then you began to get teachers like Mrs.

Helen taught mathematics in junior high school, Miss Gillis


was an english teacher, Miss Hornbeak was a teacher there, Miss S

was there on history and civics. All of these people had a profound in--

fluence and effect on all of our lives at that point, because we didn't

have the many ._ and distracting things as we have confronting

students now. In the eight grade, many-of those teachers remained the

same and then of course, in high school I could just reminisce all of

the time available to me to recall for all of you people like Miss_ ,

a great latin teacher, and one of those lovable people that you just

remember all of your life. Mr. Taylor used to come out and blow the

bugle to get us all in from lunch time. He was quite a character as

far as our principal. And then I guess it was due to the boom

and bust and the depression, we had a tremendous turn over. We had

about four principals in a row there, and I won't take time to go into

alA f that but I would like to mention of course, the fact that we had

a great athletic event during that period in Fort Pierce and St. Lucie

County. Some of you will recall that we had the state champion AAU

basketball team in Florida at that time. And we'd and

after that with Al Gordy and George and a lot of those fellows

and had a profound influence on all of us through our athletics

because he was a very great coach, probably the greatest national athlete

many of us have ever known. And, of course, he taught us well and he

certainly-made the most4trying to get everything out of us that he pos-

sibly could. All of these things of course had slipped by in the past,

and as you know are easily forgotten and unfortunately so little appre-

cated. And yet, as I recall those years of high school and1mistakes we

made and the things that we got by in the days of the Model-T and then


the Model-A Ford, I can't help but wonder how short a memories we have

when we stop and recognize what difficulties our own children have today

or our own grandchildren have today in these problems that confront them

with television and high-powered automobiles, and easily obtainable be-

verages or whether it's marijuana or LSD or what, you can't help but won-

der how lucky we were to be coming along when we were. I think that all

of these things, of course have been just part of the tremendous change

in, in the community here. When you stop to think that in the period

that I've discussed briefly with you, and reminisce about my ...., as it

looked to me. When you think about going to the beach only on an occa-

sional picnic by __ and you have to go over in and walk along that

little dike there with running everywhere, and mosquitoes and

sandflies about to devour you, and then when you got to the beach why

you'd race for the water, and when you were ready to come back why you

waited until the last minute to go back to try and get on that boat to

come back. The changes there of course have been tremendous. I think

that without a doubt if our beach had not been closed during World War II,

by the naval base over there and the thousands of amphibious troops that

were trained here, that we would have a much greater city here now. And

I think that certainly our beach is still one of ourbiggest assets, and

I think that eventually it's going to bust loose if we ever do get this

new south bridge. That would make quite a change in our whole community

picture. We've changed of course. We no longer have an SEC railway in

the sense of, of the tourist capacity that the trains could bring us. We

don't have an immediate air facility hereAyet, with the network of

roads and all, I think that, our community has grown on solid ground and


I think that it will continue to improve. I'm going to, said he

was going to leave it to me to mention about the World War II experience.

Let me say that my only comment about that little period in my life was

the field, and come back to the fact that coming back to the United

States from the Pacific, after a couple of years, was probably the

greatest thrill of my life, and coming back to Fort Pierce, and just

realizing I'll never forget when I sat down and received my first notary

public commission from the secretary of state in 1946, and I looked at

that expiration date, you know there're issued for four years, and when

I saw the date on there 1950. I couldn't help but feel, my god,

I never thought I'd see the day. And I was just so grateful to be back

in Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County, because I had traveled quite a bit

around the country during my training and I was satisfied it was the

greatest place in the community, in the world to live and I felt like I

wanted to come back and do what I could about participating in the com-

munity life. Now, I see so many of you herecthat I recall vividly, ex-

periences that I would reminisce and inject and include things about those,

but I'm going to limit myself. And yet, I do want to say that as I see

Lee and Miss sitting over here I wanted to comment that one of the

fellows I think had a real influence on my life was Corbett King. I

don't know how many of you remember Corbett, but he used to be, in my

book, about the best white truck driver a boy could ever see or ride with.

And when he used to let me ride with him on Saturday and drive that thing

occasionally coming in from ten miles with a load of fruit. And I must

confess, that he badgered me until I able at the packing

house at ten miles to finally get a cracked box of food up over my head


and press it like these boys lift weights now. And, in those days, the

biggest thrill I had, he used to scare the daylights out of me

'cause the horn didn't work on that thing, but we had come rattling on

towards town there and he'd-. just stick his head out and he would give

them that whistle and he'd go right on by, and it was really something.

I've always remembered that and the work that I had a chance to do:with

him. I think that since this is being recorded, and wanted some

comments about this, that I'll ask you to allow me to just make a couple

of family comments, because I said I was going to reminisce with you for

the last forty or fifty years, but that limits me and I have to now turn

to a comment here in a book called the East Coast of Florida, and I want

to just think out loud with you a minute that I've been so happy and

grateful that my grandfather did have the opportunity to come down here

in 1888, and he moved his family here then. My father was born in Wis-

consin and went to school in Iowa, my grandfather, I meant to say, and he

came down here with his three sons in 1888 and lived down at

And I want to read just a paragraph here from that book, to give you a

tie up as to my grandfather and grandmother, because they had married the

same year that they graduated from Benton Academy up there. They had

been classmates together and then came on down here with their boys.

C. T. McCarty built a fine legal reputation in Fort Pierce, and was at-

torney for theboard of public instruction, the town of Fort Pierce and

the Florida Eastcoast Railway Co. He was also in partnership with A. C.

in real estate. He was the director of the bank of Fort Pierce,

first president of the Board of Trade, president of Florida State Hor-

ticulture Society, the animating spirit of the County Good Roads Associa-


tion, and was always found in the front ranks of those working for the

improvement of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, the east coast and the

state of Florida. He held the highest rank in masonry. His wife, the

former, Barbara Elizabeth was one of the first school teachers

in the Fort Pierce area, at one time teaching six grades in one room.

She was one of the founders of the first library and the first womans'

club in Fort Pierce and was very active in starting the Methodist Church

in that community. I should only comment of course about as all

of us knew my grandmother. I recall that someone helped me remember that

when she couldn't get the proper discipline with the students in the

classroom with her bottle of castor oil, why, at point, the walls was so

built that all she'd do was take one boy over and hang him\on the rafter

there until he was behaving and quiet enough to let him down. So I

think she must have been quite a character in the sense of making herself,

herself felt at that point in her community. Then I'd like to skip

down to a generation and read a short paragraph about my father, from

the same book. In addition to his principle occupation as a citrus

grower. Mr. McCarty was president of Fort Pierce Bank for nearly two

years before his death, which occurred in 1922. He had been a director

of the bank since his father's death in 1907. He was also a director of

the EastcoastLumber & Supply Company in Fort Pierce. He was a mason, a

shiner and woodman, and a member of the Bishops Committee of St. Andrews

Episcopal Church of Fort Pierce where he attended regularly. One of the

striking characteristics was his loyalty to his friends, his devotion to

his family and church was often noticed and he never refused an appeal

for aid. I read those two paragraphs to conclude by saying that I don't


really remember either one of those two gentlemen to well, because I was

of course not born when one died, and only six when my father died. And

I make this observation in order to confess to you that women have had

a tremendous influence in my life, because my grandmother was a very

important person in our lives. Whenever my mother was away and she

stayed with uV why, you wouldn't believe the discipline, unless you

were exposed to it, that we had around the house. And I mean that for

everything from standing up on the side of the carpet to do your

spelling after supper or to getting up on the this morning to take

a cold bath in the tub before you went to school. And you had to get

in that tub and turn over three times, or else you couldn't have break-

fast. These things of course had an influence on all of the children

in the house. And of course, my mother, as has observed, sang

in the choir down at St. Andrews. I would like to comment that mother

came down here from North Carolina. her home, either in, Margaret you

can help me, either in 1903, or early 1904 to visit her sister. Alright.

And then they were married in 19....She met my father then while she was

visiting her sister here, and Aunt Annie. and then she came to know my

father and they were married the next year in Charlotte. And they came

to, what I call, the home placekat 303 Indian River Drive, and the fact

that it was just a block from St. Andrews and the courthouse I'm satis-

fied it has had an influence on my life And I think the fact

that mother had three of us in school at one time for example, would be

an indication to you of the type of mother that she was to see that all

of us got through the university, and kept after us until we did. I

believe that the concluding remarks that I would like to make would be


that I, oh, I'm not going to say anything about the present generation

or the next generation in my-family, we're at that point now here. You

know as-much about their mistakes or misdeeds or accomplishments as I

do so there's use for me to your time now, but I would like

to observe that it's a sincere feeling that this group and any group

that is doing what they can to really keep Fort Pierce and St. Lucie

County going is typical of what I would like to think my family would

like to have a feeling for, because having been here on the river now

for, what, eighty years,.I feel like we've seen some changes and we'd

like to try and continue to help make some changes. I just feel with-

out trying to lay it on too thick, you may get that feeling that there's

no question in my mind that certainly this is a great community with

a great group of people here and while we may make a lot of mistakes

about badgering each other or disagreeing with each other it's still

going to continue to be a real pillar of strength in the whole state,

and I feel for our nation and we'll get through some of these problems

that we're having. And I just thank you so much for letting me come

early, Thank you.

A: John, I'm going to say thank you.

I might add that John's father, my father had a grove in

creek. This white truck John mentioned,

quite familiar with us. Don't think they ever wore it out as wore out

two or three men trying to drive it. That was quite a reputation of the

white truck at that time. You didn't were them out, they wore the people

out.But, as the time is progressing now I would like to mention this one


fact. Time is passing on, if you have any any antiques, keep

them in mind, don't let them get away, we'll soon have a place we can

put'em. Someday you'll regret, some little thing that you had, I use

as an illustration, I remember when my mother used to boil the clothes

in a wash pot, 'cause I had to chopthe wood to put under it. Guess

what? We have one on our front porch, that we had to buy. That's the

way things disappear- You find later that a just a little attachment

that you only wish you had it. My mothers' sewing machine is now a

table in my house. After a little work on it and what not but, its still

got the legs and frames that it had originally. Some of you may have

things of that sort that you have. Some of you may have someof them

in the original state. Those things in time will be very precious

to those who follow us. We all go down and we look at antiques and

think about the life as it was during that day, and wonder how people

got along with them. We all speak of the good ole days. Now I want to

tell you, some of the good ole days wasn't so good. I can remember.

They were rough. McCarty just told you here how they rushed to get

to the beach and waited till the last minute so they wouldn't have to

wait on the boat to come back. And that's no kidding. Young ladies put

newspaper; around their legs before they put their hose on. And it was-

n't for horseflies it was for mosquitoes. So if you have any of those

little things that you have, knick knacks around that youNthink anybody

would want. I'm mention a little something if you'll excuse the per-

sonal reference. The other day, a lady came to my house, asked my wife

if she wouldn't like to have these. They were pair of spectacles shaped

liked Ben Franklin might have had 'em, almost rectangular, on the side


bar it was adjustable to fit different size heads. Now the family they

came out of had to be back in the time of Gene grandfather,

if that means anything to you. So _tried to have 'em,

had them around the place. One more thing before I quit, I'd like to

mention to you that if any of you haven't paid your dues Mrs. Cobb is in

a receptive mood, and stay that way. And if you hear of anything or any-

body that's got something that would be of value to us and you think every-

body would be interested in it, tell Sanders. He's always

looking for somebody to speak. Again, I want to thank all of you

visitors who came here for the first time, and you old regulars, for

the priviledge of being here with you, and I hope you won't regret the