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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT, FLORIDA EDUCATION
INTERVIEWER: CAROLINE COLEMAN
PLACE OF INTERVIEW: GAINESVILLE
DATE OF INTERVIEW: April 8, 1982
Glenna Brashear filled in as a substitute teacher at Westwood Junior High
School during the 1968 teachers strike. Mrs. Brashear received her BA from
Eastern Kentucky Teachers College and her MA from Indiana University.
In the interview Mrs. Brashear relates the experiences that occurred to her
and her family during the strike. Two of her three children missed some
school while she, in fact, was filling in at Westwood. She received
support from many who wanted to keep the schools opened while being
ostracized by others who were in support of the teachers. She sympathized
with the teachers and their demands, but she felt the timing of their
strike, during the school year instead of at the beginning, was wrong. She
feels teachers are important role models and thus she disagrees with some
of their activities.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Glenna Frisby Brashear
INTERVIEWER: Caroline Coleman
April 8, 1982
C: Glenna, I know you are from Kentucky. How about telling me some more
about where you grew up and how you happened to come to Gainesville.
B: Well, I grew up in the mountains in Harlan County, Kentucky, and went
to school at Eastern Kentucky University which was Eastern Kentucky
Teachers College at that time. Then I got my master's degree from
Indiana University and I taught in Jefferson County, Kentucky, which
is the county that Louisville is in. That was before they consolida-
ted, and I was in the county system. I married my husband the year
I graduated with my B.S.; the year I graduated from college, he was
in medical schhol. We stayed in Louisville until he graduated and
did his internship, and then we went to Virginia. I taught while we
were in Louisville. When we were in Virginia, I did not teach. He
decided he wanted to come to a warmer climate, so we came looking for
a place. My father and mother lived down here, so every time we
would come to visit them we would kind of look around. My father was
principal of the school and my mother taught down in Indian River
County, and my father sent some stuff to somebody in Gainesville,
by us, because we were coming through. He needed to get this stuff
to the man right away. So when we got here, the man was out of his
office, and it had to be delivered personally with a verbal message.
So we waited on him three hours, and in our waiting we drove around
Gainesville, liked it, and moved in the next year. So it was kind of
love at first sight.
C: Was it really nice then?
B: Yes, about 13,000 people then. Thriteenth Street was two lanes, and
everybody knew everybody, and it was really a nice little town.
C: Hard to believe you could go on the square and know everybody, wasn't
B: You just did not go for a spool of thread downtown unless you had
two hours because you would talk to everybody you saw. Not like now.
C: What was your major in college?
B: I had a physical education major they called health physical educa-
tion recreation. Then I got my master's degree in physical education.
What I was going to do was go into girl scouting and at the time I
was getting my half major in undergraduate school, and I was going to
get my master's degree in social administration. But then I got
married and so I did not. But I did work with girl scouts for a
while, but not professionally.
C: Well, what were your parents' names? What did they do?
B: My father was D. G. Frisby. He taught in the public schools for over
C: In Kentucky?
B: And Florida. He was principal of a shcool. He moved to Florida in,
oh my goodness, while I was going to college, about thirty years
ago. He died in 1970. My mother was a principal of a school in
Kentucky, but when she came down here she taught sixth grade in that
school where my daddy was principal. He was principal for K-12 in
Indian River County.
C: So you have really been involved a long time in education, haven't
B: I was a teacher by osmosis. [Laughter]
C: Do you have children?
B: I have three.
C: Where are they and what are they doing?
B: I have one son who is an attorney here in Gainesville. Are you in-
terested in where they went to school?
B: He got his undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt and his law degree at
University of Tulsa. Our youngest daughter works here for ESE, but
I cannot tell you what her title is.
C: What is ESE?
B: ESE is Environmental Science and Engineering. She was a drama major
so of course she is working as a work processor. You know how that
goes. She graduated from Baylor in Texas. Daphne, our oldest girl
and middle child, lives in Boston and she works for Compugraphics,
which is a printing machine company, and she is in the education
department there. She has a degree in English and special education.
C: What grades were they in during 1968 at the time of the teacher's
B: I will have to think back because Bruce was in high school. I think
he was a sophomore if I am not mistaken. Daphne, our middle child,
was in junior high at Westwood. Annette was, I think, in sixth
grade at Littlewood. I think that is right.
C: GHS did not stay open except for the seniors. What did he do during
all that time?
B: Stayed home.
C: Was that a problem?
B: Yes, it is always a problem when children do not have anything to do,
and they did not. Had you known this was going to come up you could
have gotten them all a job or something, but he stayed home and a
number of his friends stayed home with him.
C: Well, since I am the
had the band in the garage. It was a lot of fun.
B: That is right. They played and they played all through the scrabble.
C: That was good that he had that.
B: Well, they all stayed here. Most of the band.
C: What about your junior high students?
B: She went to school.
C: Did her teacher go on strike?
B: Well, they changed classes so she did net have a teacher. He filled
every classroom at Westwood with faculty members and the ones that
he did not fill, as I recall, it is hard to remember because I really
did my job and came home and did not mix in the politics of the
school. But as I recall, he filled all of his spaces with qualified
teachers. Not necessarily with people who had taught, but with, no,
let me retract that. Not qualified teachers, but with educated
people. Everybody had at least one degree and a lot of his people
had more than one degree that went up and filled his classrooms.
So I do not think she suffered a lot except from the fact of what
was going on. As far as the classroom work went, I do not think she
C: And how about your younger one in sixth grade?
B: I cannot remember whether her teacher went on strike or not. But I
think she did, and as I recall, I think that she just kind of sat
there for a while. But it is hard to remember.
C: Well Glenna, I know you have been a really active and involved per-
son in the community. Tell me some of the things that you have done
as a volunteer. I know there is a long list.
B: Well, one of my favorite things that I do has been being involved in
the Friends of the Library and the book sale.
C: You are a past president, right?
B: Twice. And I was in the junior league, the junior women's club,
the women's club, hospital auxiliary, girl scout leader, Sunday
school teacher, PTA boards, and every place that my children were
except GHS. I never was on the board at GHS. I have kept busy. I
used to go to all the school board meetings a long time ago, and used
to work one day a week in the Littlewood office, and I substituted.
C: When you went to the school board meetings, was that prior to the
B: Oh, yes. That was many, many years ago. That was just for my own
benefit. When you have been raised in the school situation like I
was, you just feel that if you are not involved in the schools, your
life is not going on. So I used to just go for my own benefit. As
a matter of fact, one evening, I remember Plake Parker was on the
school board one time and they were having a great to-do, and I had
not said anything. He said, "Well, we cannot close this meeting
without the lady in the back row saying something. Would you like
to comment?" That was a little embarrassing. I said, "I do not
think I will come any more."
C: So you were participating as a visitor.
B: Oh, yes. Most of the time I was listening.
C: You were past president of the women's club, the junior one.
B: I was president of the junior women's club and district director for
the women's club.
C: How do you see Gainesville having changed from the time you came here
B: The community in general or the education or both?
C: Well, really both.
B: Well, of course Gainesville has grown and like all towns that mush-
room like Gainesville has, it has had its problems. But I think
Gainesville has grown well. Whether I agree or disagree with the
people who have been in control, I think they have done a pretty good
job of keeping ahead of the times. We may or may not have wanted the
roads, or we may or may not have wanted the tree regulations, but I
think on the whole they have all been honest and tried to do the best
they knew for the community. When we first came here the schools were
outstanding. They ranked as high as any in the nation and I just
felt like my kids got a terrific education and you just would not
have wanted any better education than you could have gotten here.
And I watched it deteriorated this started happening before the
C: That hurts, doesn't it.
B: Yes, it hurts a lot because I feel like there is only two things that
you can give your children. One of them is a good moral background,
and the other one is an opportunity to get an education. You cannot
make them get an education and you cannot get an education for them,
but you can give them the opportunity to get an education and that is
about all you can give them. If they inherit money, they get rid of
that. There is not anything else you really can give them that can
see them through life. I watched the education go.
C: In the community?
B: Yes. I thought it was very, very sad for this community, especially
with its educational affiliations here. It is sad to see our educa-
tion go downhill when the University of Florida is right here and
everybody is so educationally oriented.
C: What do you think caused that, Glenna?
B: Well, have you got about a month? I thought about this a lot and I
vocalized on it quite a bit, too. I really feel that most of our ed-
ucation, and this doesn't have anything to do with the strike per se,
but I feel that the teachers do not bring out ethical standards as
they used to. I think that teachers are not taught to feel that it
is important to be a role model, or that this is a profession that
they must be proud of, or that it is one of the highest professions.
I think that these are the things that have caused the school to
deteriorate. It is a job and you work an hour for a dollar, and you
get your dollar and you go home and you forget about it. I think that
teaching is a profession and that when you become a teacher, you
become a teacher twenty-four hours a day. I am alone, I think, in my
thinking, but I do feel it very strongly that children need role
models, and that is one thing that upset me so much about the strike.
C: So you think that the quality of teachers as being the most detrimen-
tal aspect of the downgrading?
B: Well, I hate to put it that way because we have some awful good
teachers yet. So I would not want to go on record as making a blanket
statement, but I do feel that with teachers, as a whole, the ethical
parts seem to go by the wayside. We have got some terrific teachers
now, that have gone through the same schools that some of the others
have. I do not know where you get this, and I do not know where this
comes from. But I would like to see colleges of education say, "Look,
if you are going to do this, you have got to do it twenty-fours hours
a day." I know this is not the popular thing because the way life is
I know this is a very personal thing with me, but I feel strongly
about it. I understand why it is not. But I do feel that the
children miss not having every teacher or at least most of the
teachers to be a teacher twenty-four hours a day. Like mine say, "I
saw Mr. so-and-so out drinking beer." Well, there is nothing wrong
with drinking beer, but constantly I think, you know. I do not
think they should hide. I do not know how really exactly to put
this, but I do think that teachers should have a little higher moral
standard than the general public. I just really do. I am old
C: How do you think the integration problems and the attempt to deal
with that in the community, affected the teachers' strike?
B: I really do not know. When I was teaching in Jefferson County,
Kentucky, they integrated two schools in Louisville because it was
financially feasible to do so. All the parents got out and worked
together to make that school work because by integrating this black
and white school they had a terrific school. I happened to know the
principal who happened to be a black lady that I went to school with
in Indiana, and we used to ride back and forth at night and laugh,
because she would say, "I'll meet you so-and-so, surely you do not
want any of your friends to see you picking me up." But she was a
fine, fine lady and very well educated, and they chose her to do
this because she was so good and she did a terrific job. When they
integrated her school split wide apart. When they were made to in-
tegrate, all the schools were made to integrate, her school split
wide open. It had been integrated for a number of years. So the
fact that they were made to integrate I think upset more people than
the integration. I do not know how they would have gone about it
otherwise. I guess it would have taken years and years and years to
have had to integrate because it was financially feasible but I did
see them integrate nicely.
C: In Louisville?
B: In Louisville, These two schools just split wide open when they in-
tegrated. I asked a friend of mine who was up there what happened to
that schools and she said they just had all kind of problems.
C: Yes, Louisville did have a traumatic time.
B: Yes it did. But that particular area had already integrated and had
been integrated for a long time.
C: Well that is interesting.
B: Isn't that interesting? I thought that was interesting.
C: It is.
B: But I do not know about Gainesville. I do not think that Gainesville
had any more trouble than anybody else. I wish that we could have
gone on the way that they were. There were so many nice black kids
at Westwood when my kids were there. And they were there because
they wanted to be there. They were there because they wanted to do
what they were doing at Westwood, and everybody was glad to have them
there. But then when you are made to do something, I think this is
the thing that causes trouble.
C: I think that is the issue; when you are forced...
B: Oh, yes. I think that was the issue. I do not think it was the
fact that somebody was black and somebody was white. I think that it
was the fact that they said, "You must." And the fact that buses
cost so much when they could be using that money for better things,
and the fact that black people had to give up their black community,
which they did. I am not saying what is right or wrong. I really
do not know. I do know that the money used in busing is wrong. I
think that children who are taken from this school this year and put
in that school so they have no roots, is wrong. But the moral issue,
I do not know whether it is right or wrong. I do know that many
communities with integration have been destroyed. The black commu-
nity has had a hard time having a community again because their
school was the hub of the community and they do not have that now.
C: Do you think that places strains on teachers that might have added
to what they already saw as their problems?
B: I think anything that happens in school puts a strain on the teach-
ers. I think just the way that lifestyle is now puts a strain on
the teachers. Integration puts a strain on the teachers. Integration
puts a strain on the teachers. The fact that salaries were low put a
strain. I think that anything that happens puts a strain on the
teachers. When you get thirty little kids sitting in your classroom,
anything extra puts a strain on you, and that was not a little thing.
Your kids in your classroom came mad, some of them, and it had to
put a strain on them.
C: How do you see the political situation in the state and locally as it
pertained to education at that time before the strike started? Do
you think they were supportive of the schools generally?
B: Well, I think that we were in a strange situation at that time. I
do not think there is anybody that does not want better schools. I
think there are people that do not want to pay for them. But I do
not think there is anybody that does not want as good a school as
they can get, whether they have any children in there or not. I
just think this is normal. Paying for it is a different thing. But
at that particular time, we had an upheaval in our political system
in the state because Claude Kirk got elected governor and there was
nobody more surprised in the state than Claude Kirk. I guess he is
probably the only person that has ever been elected that did not
have an acceptance speech ready. [Laughter] It just did not dawn
on him he would be elected. And it did not dawn on anybody that
voted for him he would be elected. I suspect it was all protest
vote as I recall; this is not doing any research, th-is is just re-
calling. Claude had gone on record as, "If I am elected, we will
have no new taxes," and he meant to stand by that. Looking back I
cannot give you any for instance, I cannot give you any instance, or
any particular thing except a feeling I had. My feeling is that,
and the only reason that I had this feeling is I think something
C: Talking about Claude Kirk and his influence on the teachers' strike
and whether or not he...
B: Oh, yes. Claude was very flamboyant and, to say the least, he was
his own worst enemy. I think he got so caught up in being great
that he did not do what he was capable of doing; he was a smart man.
The impression I keep getting, and I wish I could give you an exam-
ple becuase the impression I keep getting in my mind was that he
really was a friend of education, as it turned out. He was not
then. He said, "I will not." And he refused he give in for more
money and I think that he really was; it was not that he disliked
education. It was not that at all. He just got so wound up in the
fact that he had said he was not going to raise any taxes, and there
was only one way to give them more money and that was to raise taxes,
and he said he was not going to do it. And he did not. But they
I was going through some papers to see if I could remember a little
bit, but I could not find what I was looking for. I went to a cou-
ple of governor's conferences on education. Haydon Burns' [governor
of Florida, 1965-1967] time, and then I went to another one. My
feeling is that he turned out to be a much better friend to education
than he has a record of being. I cannot give you one reason to say
that. It is just a feeling I have, but I think it would be interest-
ing to find out. Maybe somebody over at the College of Education
felt the same way because my feeling is that he really, when looking
back on his tenure, that he did more than people think he did.
C: Than he got credit for.
B: Even probably than he knew. But he really kind of turned the state
upside-down in the fact that he just plain got carried away with
this whole thing. This was all new to him. He did not expect to be
there and some of the things went by the wayside at that time like
education, and instead of sitting down and talking to these people
like he should have done, he just kind of let somebody else talk to
them. He was flippant with them and he was cute with them when he
should have been serious and said let's sit down. I think this was
the problem. I think he just makes people mad. It is really too
bad that something like this can happen when somebody just makes a
few, but this is.my feeling about all this. Had you asked me at the
time, I would have known because I did keep up with it, but now my
C: One of the claims of the teachers was that nobody paid any attention
to them in politics and they did not have anybody to listen to them.
Do you think that was the...
B: I think you did, I think you did not. He did not really mean that.
He did not want to raise taxes and the way I look back on it, I
think he did not want to raise taxes. He was just a flippant man and
he was so enamored of himself and so carried away with this whole
thing that the time he should have said, "Now see here, John. I un-
derstand what you're saying. I want to do the best I can." He would
say, "Ah, come on, you know, we will always have school, you know."
And he would kind of shoo them aside instead of sitting down and
really talking to them, or giving them to somebody else who really
did not have the authority to do anything. I really think the misun-
derstanding was not intentional, except for the taxes. He had no
intention of raising taxes. He had said he was not going to raise
them, and he was not going to raise them. But the rest of it I
think it was just his personality. He was just caught up in the
whole thing and I think he tried everything that you would ask him.
I was a number of places where he was speaking and I always was
amazed with some of the things that he would come out with--how in-
telligent he sounded on some subjects and then he would absolutely
ruin it by being so cute which would just infuriate me. He would
just be so cute. We would ask a question and he would just be very
condescending to somebody who would ask him a very serious question,
or be cute, or be flippant. It really was irritating and I would
just be listening to him and :t would make me mad. If I had been
going to him and asking him a serious question and he had done me
that way, I would have kicked him on the shin. Or at least would
have wanted to. He was just that kind of man. He just really was
C: Some people called him the clown.
B: Well, he was. Except that underneath this is a very intelligent man
and he could have gone out as a very good governor. He just got car-
ried away. It is the only thing I could figure out. I do not know.
I am sure a politician or political scientist can tell you all about
it. These are just impressions.
C: Well, as both of us remember the 1960s in Gainesville, that it was
sort of a wild time. Do you think that all the things that were
going on at that time influenced the teachers?
B: Well, like I say, I think that everything influences teachers. I
think that when Claude got elected, that influenced teachers. I think
that they said that he does not like teachers. He really did. I
think anything that happens influences teachers, probably far more
than anybody else because they have so many people to contend with
and so many personalities in their classrooms. Yes, I think it does.
They feel everything.
C: The effects of society.
B: Of everything. They have to.
C: Well, do you think the fact that everybody was sitting in or strik-
ing or whatever during that period, do you think that tended to
cause them to go out?
B: Well, the automobiles use it, the automobiles manufacturers use it,
the coal mines use it, and probably the first thing that people at
that time and still do think of are the strikes. After the words get
out of your mouth and they are out in the air and everybody hears it,
I think that really has an effect on anybody who is trying to do some-
thing like they were, which was trying to get their salaries raised
and their working conditions improved. I think that the first thing
that would come to anybody's mind would be a strike. Other schools
C: You and I both grew up in the coal fields of eastern Kentucky where
the unions were very strong. How do you feel about unions in
B: Well, having been in the coal fields when they have had to call the
militia in, and having gone to school with my father where they had
a machine gun set up and you had to have your car gone through...
C: That was Harlan County?
B: Right. Oh, I could curl your hair with some of the stories [laughter]
of my father being a principal and carrying a gun. I have been
raised in this kind of situation. I have at dinner parties said some
things. I do not even need to talk about it anymore because nobody
But my dad had the cutest little gun that he carried in his hip
pocket. I always wanted it but he would not let me have it. He did
not carry it during the school days. He carried it at night ball
games and when he was going to be in the building by himself. He did
not carry it during school hours, I must say. But a principal of a
school should not have to carry a gun at any time.
But near the school where he taught during that particular time,
there was a strike. John L. Lewis [president UMWA, president CIO,
1880-1969] was big, and all the people were on strike, and a lot of
people did not even have food to eat, and they got the militia out.
We had to go through the guard through a mining camp, and until they
got to know the car, they would put the machine gun on the car. We
would get out, and they would search the car and then they would let
us pass. So I have no tremendous amount of love of unions.
Even though we were not connected with the unions, we were parked in
front of a grocery store and saw two men jump out of an alley and
completely beat up my best friend's father because he was one of the
officials at one of the mines, and of course, was against the strike.
I watched them with billies and with brass knuckles and a gun just
beat him until they almost killed him, but they did not. This can-
not help affect the way you feel about unions.
I will say the unions did some good things for the miners, but they
went too far. They did do some good things for the miners. They
finally got to the point that they had to strike every two years or
whatever :t was to get their contracts. And as it worked out, I just
feel like that in the long run it has been bad. I think like so many
things that get too big, that those things should be organized on
the local level and kept there. And I do not know how you do it,
because I have never been involved in it, and we were not involved in
it, but I watched it and I really do not like national unions.
C: Well, do you think that the strike appeared to you to be tending in
B: The school strike here?
B: No, but I do think they had agitation from outside. I really do,
because when you get some of the national unions telling you, "Go
ahead, go ahead, go ahead, we will back you," you cannot help but
have all of these little things affect you, whether you think it does
or not. If you have somebody that stands behind you and claps their
hands and says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead," you cannot help but
feel like you are doing the right thing, whether you are or not.
And I do not know whether they were or not.
The way I feel about the teachers' strike, and what they were after
and how they felt like they ought to get it, are two entirely differ-
ent things. Not being a teacher myself, I think I would have felt
the same way. I do not think I would have gone out, because of the
moral issue of honoring a contract and not going out on strike, be-
cause I would teach the children this is what you do, would have
kept me in the classroom had I thought that they should have struck.
But if I had been a teacher, and been in the driver's seat, I would
have said, "I will not go to work in September, but I will not
strike in the middle of the school year," which would have been a
strike, but school would not have started. And I would say, "I will
resign, I will not teach." And if everybody had resigned before the
school started, it would have been another issue entirely, which I
would have been, maybe, in favor of.
But I did not ever have to make this decision. You do not know what
you really will do until you are faced with the decision yourself,
and I was not. I do not know what I would have done. I think this
is what I would have done.
C: Yes, I remember many people saying that if they just had not started.
B: That is right, and they talked about this. I do not remember why
they did not do it this way. My feeling is that if I accept a job,
and I say I am going to accept this job, whether or not I sign my
name on a piece of paper or not, when I started out to teach school,
I have a moral obligation to do this if I am able to do it, or unless
extenuating circumstances come up that make it impossible for me to
do it. [Mrs. Brashear said later that when confronted with the moral
issue of not honoring their contracts, many teachers claimed they had
not actually signed a contract. They were using a technicality,
since apparently teachers do not always sign an annual contract,
especially those on continuing contracts.] Let me put it this way,
I think this is the way I would have felt had it been put up to me.
It is very difficult. You know, you say, "Boy, I would have done so
and so," but when push comes to shove and it is really put to you,
would you really have done that or not? I think that if I had been
a teacher, and they had said, "You are going to strike" I would have
said, "I will resign and not teach in September if it will help us,
but I will not start a job and quit it in the middle of the year,"
which is what it seemed to me that they were showing, "Look what we
can do." And I am sure that did not enter in, but that is what ap-
peared. Which is not why I taught. I taught because the schools
stayed open, and I was a qualified teacher. I did not teach to be
against the teachers. I taught because Tiny Talbot said, "We are
going to keep the schools open. This is my job. I am going to
keep the schools open. This is what I was hired to do. If there is
anybody that is a qualified teacher, please come out and help us,"
and I did. I went over and applied for a job like I would have ap-
plied at the beginning of the year. Applied for a job, and they
sent me out, and I was interviewed by the principal.
C: At what school?
B: Westwood Junior High. It was as if I was applying for a job for
full-time teaching. They did say, "If this continues, will you
teach the rest of the year?" And I said, "I will teach as long as
I am needed." So I did not teach because I was mad at the teachers.
I taught because the schools were open and they asked for qualified
teachers to come out, as I would tomorrow if a situation came if the
teachers were all on one side of the river and the river flooded and
they could not get over and they said, "All qualified teachers please
come out to help." I would go in the same kind of situation. Am I
C: Yes, how do you think a teacher who did go out on strike would view
B: How did they view that?
B: Well, I got a number of letters from parents.
C: Did you really?
B: Yes, and I got one that I feel that was from:a teacher because of a
sentence that was structured in such a way that, "We feel so and so"
that I feel like it was a teacher. Who it was I do not know. I do
not think it was anybody that knew me personally, because a number
of people got them. So I think it was just that they were sending
out letters to everyone that went in to teach. But I do think it was
done by at least one teacher, because of one of the sentences that
was in there. As a matter of fact, it might have been one person in
their bedroom, you know, that did it. I do not think it was a com-
mittee, and I do not think it was organized.
When I went into the classroom, I said to the students, because they
were buzzing around as students will, "My name is Glenna Brashear.
I am a qualified teacher." I already had my speech made out when I
went in, and I said this six times that day because I had six
classes. I taught history. I said, "I am teaching history. I have
a minor in history, and I am qualified to teach it. I have taught
history before. I am teaching until your teacher returns. I will
not discuss the strike. I am here to teach history. Now open your
books." We did not discuss it, and I did not allow it discussed in
But the second day the man, who shall be nameless, whose classroom I
took, came back and took all our books.
C: All your school books? Did they belong to him? Had he bought them?
B: He took the record which was in the desk the first day. I do not
know; I think the record book really belongs to the county. I went
down and said, "May I have a new record book. I need to make a new
roll," and they said, "What happened to your other?" And I said,
"It must have been misplaced overnight. It was there yesterday, but
it is not there today, and so somehow it got misplaced overnight."
And that was the end of that, and it was not discussed anymore-ber-
cause there was no need to discuss it anymore--everyone knew. They
knew the janitor did not get it. [Mrs. Brashear said later that she
did not think he took any of the textbooks. He only took what per-
tained to records he had concerning the students, any of the current
projects or papers of the students, and anything concerning future
There were not enough books for the classroom to go around. Two
classes had two different books. In other words, half of the class
had one book, and the other half of the class had another text. Both
were adopted texts. This was the first day I found out. Then later
on in the day, we went to another class where the same thing was hap-
pening. So instead of the students having two textbooks in this
class and that class, they divided them up. Nobody will every con-
vince me that this was not done for effect. So I asked one of the
students in the first class, "Why don't you all have any?" They
said, "Well, we do not have enough to go around." Well, two classes
after that, they had the same situation. They said, "There are not
enough to go around." So I called the county office where their
depository was and I asked them if they had this text, and indeed
they did have the text in the depository.
C: On hand?
B: On hand.
C: Were you able to get some more?
B: I did not try at that time. I could have. Had I stayed, I would
B: Which I thought was interesting. But what the teachers were trying
to do, and it could have been they made a mistake down there. I did
not get the books. I do not know. Every day we did not know if we
were going to be back the next day. And my feeling was that enough
problems were going on at that time. As I left, I did say that there
were books down there. I must say that I did say this, as I was
leaving. When they told us goodbye, I said, "I do want to go on
record as saying they tell me that these books are there and are
available, and I think it is a shame the students do not have them."
Now whether they really were there, I do not know. If I had gone
down there to get them, maybe they were not there. But I was told
they were there by the people down there. So I assume they were.
But one of the things they were trying to make known around town was
that there were not enough books, not enough supplies, not enough of
any of this stuff. And that is one of the reasons that they said
they were out on strike.
That is one instance that I do not think would follow through. So I
think this was, this one was for effect, and I suspect it was. It
was, again, not an organized thing. I think it was probably this one
teacher who did that. And he could have done it because he just
never did pick up the phone and find out if there were any more. He
may have taken what they had the year before and been so busy with
other things that he just did not bother to look. I do not know. I
do know the situation existed, but why it existed I do not know.
Somebody may have said, "Do not call them; they do not have them,"
and he just never did find out.
C: Well, how did the children react to you?
B: To me?
B: I had no problems whatsoever. I had absolutely no problems with
them. I am a disciplinarian in school. I think we can have a good
time, certain times, but when it is time to study, it is time to
study. And they did every trick that there is for a substitute
teacher which they would have done when there was not a strike. But
having substituted as much as I substituted, when you see somebody
with a rolled up piece of paper, you just stick out your hand and
say, "Give me the peas." They do not roll up a piece of paper unless
they are going to shoot paper wads. And so they used every thing in
the book, like, you know, if you have substituted very much, there
are just things they do. And when the class starts looking at their
watch, you know that ten minutes of nine everybody is going to knock
their books off the table. Or five minutes after ten all the books
are going on the floor. So when you see the class start looking at
their watches, you start seeing those books lined up on the end of
the table, you know, "Oh Lord, they are going to do that one again."
And so you say, "Alright, everybody, would you mind putting your
books in the middle of your desks. And we are going to do so and so,
and so and so." Or you say, "Close your books," so they have no
chance to knock them off, because you see them sliding over. They
have been doing that since the world began. [Laughter] There are
just some things that they do. And when you see a kid with their
books stacked you wonder what comic book he is reading behind it.
So you teach from the back of the class. They did all the fun
things, and they had a good time and we just really did not have
We had a bomb scare one day. And I remember in this particular
class, we had about four or five kids in there that I knew real
well, one of which lived on the street here. And over the PA sys-
tem they said, "Everybody go to the back fields; there is a bomb
scare." And I said, "Okay, just everybody keep your seats; we will
put your books away." They said,"We are going to be bombed!" and I
said, "We will march out quietly." They said, "No, no!" I said,
"Okay, we will just sit here." They said, "But we are going to be
bombed!" I said, "Well, we will all go together." [Laughter] And
they understood and they got quiet and we marched out and nobody got
bombed. And they go along if they see that you are not going to be
cruel to them and get the whip out. We really had a pretty good
time, and they were nice.
C: Did you have any support or did any of the parents show you special
thanks or support?
B: Yes, I had it on all sides. One lady had grandchildren in school.
She happened to know that I was between maids at the time, which I
am usually. She brought her maid over every morning for two hours;
she came, got her, and took her home. One parent brought dinner at
least one night a week, cooked, and ready to put on the table. I
cannot tell you how many nice things that had happened.
I had just as many ugly things happen. One parent took her child
out of my scout troop, which hurt because the child really needed to
be in the scout troop, but she said that she could not believe that
I would participate in anything that was against the teachers. Her
mother taught and she felt that I was against education and against
everything that education stood for and did not listen, or wait to
hear my reply. It was like when you are raising children; you say
what you believe and then you run in the bedroom and lock the door.
That is what she did to me. She said what she had to say and took
her child home and I did not get to answer her, which bothers me a
C: What were some of the other negative things that happened?
B: We really got it in the paper. We got a lot of editorials in the
paper, and I got a number of ugly letters. Some signed and some un-
signed, but I did not get any that were signed from anybody I knew.
I recognized some of the names but it was nobody that I knew.
C: None of your friends?
B: No. Most of my friends were very supportive because I did not dis-
cuss it. If anybody asked me why I taught, I said the same thing
that I said here, which is true. That is why I taught, and I never
varied. Even to somebody I knew real well I did not say. But I
will tell you really why I was doing it. I felt that I had three
school-age kids. Bruce was not in school. But I felt that all qual-
ified teachers should go out and help just as if it had been a disas-
ter, which it was. That all qualified people should have gone in and
helped keep the schools open since they were going to be kept open
and they were going to be kept open with anything and anybody. To
anybody that was qualified, I felt it was their civic duty to go in
even though I think that the strike was ill-timed. I really feel
that it was ill-timed. Had they done it in the beginning of the
year, that would have been fine, it would have been different.
C: That would have been different.
B: They would have been in a different situation.
C: Many people agree with that. Did any of the children's parents
keep them out?
B: At the beginning I cannot remember what the numbers were. I could
have told you this right after the first day of school. I am guess-
ing. I am sure you can find this at the county board or many places.
But I say fifty percent. Maybe there were not that many out. But
as time went on, they came back because the kids themselves did not
want to be left out where their friends were. Unless someone felt
very strongly, and some of them did, they started dwindling back in.
C: How many would you say? By the time you left, how many were still...
B: They were most all back. I do not know what percentage, but in the
rooms that I had, and I am sure that there were other classes where
there were more out than in mine. I did not have very many people
out. I would say five out of thirty. Maybe not that many.
C: Was it difficult to go in and pick up where they were in the lessons
B: No, because I had, as I say, substituted before and, now there were
no lesson plans. It was more difficult because usually when you are
going in to substitute for somebody, they leave everything there for
you. Lesson plans are made out, and there were no lesson plans and
as I say, he came back and got his record book that night, so I
could not even look back and see what grades or levels the children
were at. Just by looking at the grades, you know who is the best one
in the class, and maybe the worst one in the class. So I had nothing
to go on. There was not even a picture left in that class.
C: What was your principal's reaction?
B: His reaction was to that?
C: Um hmm. To the strike.
B: Well, Mr. Simmons did not comment. Which I thought he handled it
beautifully, as a matter of fact. He had a faculty meeting the
first day and he said, this is a bad situation but we are going to
do it. I was impressed with him. A lot of things were said about
Mr. Simmons. For instance one thing that came out in the paper said
that Mr. Simmons just hired anybody that came along to fill in his
classroom. He did not. He had people who were more qualified than
the teachers whose jobs they took. He interviewed as far as I know,
and I knew about three or four that went in there personally. He
interviewed each one of them, and I know he interviewed me, but he
interviewed each one of them and put them in the place where he felt
that they would do the most productive job. I thought he handled it
beautifully. Now how he felt personally, I do not know. I have my
own opinion but I never heard him say, and mostly he wished it had
not happened. He had a good faculty before the strike, and no prin-
cipal wants their school interrupted. So I do not know how he felt,
but he handled it as well as it could have been handled by anybody.
C: So you felt support from him?
B: I certainly did. I do not think that I would have gone down and
asked him anything that he would not have tried to help. However,
now I had been on his PTA board and I knew him personally and liked
him and I was amazed that it was handled as beautifully as it was.
C: What were some more of the positive things that happened to you in
support of you?
B: Well, my children were carpooled and I cannot tell you. People just
did nice things. A plant was left on my doorstep. Just little nice
things. A cake.
C: So people just did a lot of really thoughtful things.
B: Most people who did not did not feel that I was doing the right
thing and just let me alone. I am opinionated and I am very vocal.
Had they said anything to me, I would not have said anything, but
they did not know that.
C: They thought you would.
B: They probably thought I would because I really am very vocal. I did
not think I think that the people who were in charge of this whole
thing had enough to contend with without having some of us help them
along. The children did not need to be disturbed. The children were
already disturbed. There are three things that keep children solid.
One is family, school, and church, and their school was going. I
mean it was just in a great turmoil. I felt that I had one job to do
and that was to go teach the kids. And I did not need to be convers-
ing with anybody about right and wrong, whether the situation was
good, bad, or indifferent because anybody had anything to do with the
kids knew it was a bad situation. Just the fact that teachers were
changing because of this turmoil. But I never discussed it with
anybody. I did not even discuss it with my own children because I
did not want them to go and say, "Mother said." When they talked to
me about it, I said, when this is over, we will discuss it, but at
this point, we are not going to discuss it. You go do your thing
and I will do my thing, and after this is over with we will sit down
and discuss it.
The only thing the children would say when they would come to
school, ask the first thing in the morning, was if you had heard
anything. And some of them would say that because they knew more
than you did about it and they would see what you would say. The
other thing they would always say was, "When is our teacher coming
back?" This was part of the morning ritual. And you would say, "I
have no idea but I am sure he will be back as soon as he can." Some
of them were not concerned particularly, well of course they were
all concerned, this was just a thing like you say like "Good morning"
to some of them. And some of them would try and find out what you
would say and some kids act as if they do not care what is going on.
C: What grades primarily did you have?
B: I had ninth grade world history.
C: And that age group is not the easiest.
B: Well, they are my favorite. I love junior high school. When I
used to have practice teachers I used to tell them if they would go
in and sell themselves to junior high kids, if they like you, you
could line them up and march them off the top of the building and
they would say, "Where do you want me to fall?" High school students
will not do that; they just will not do that. Junior high kids are
smart, and if they like you, they just will work themselves to death
to do well for you. They do not realize they are doing well for
themselves. They do well for you. In high school they do well for
themselves. Junior high is just great. They are not blind. They
know what they are doing and they are smart. Grade school kids will
just kind of follow you with their eyes closed. But junior high kids,
they know where it is and they follow you because they want to.
Ninth graders are cute and smart and silly and smart alecky; they
are everything at that age. They just really are cute. I like them.
C: I think that is great, because for me, that is a difficult age.
B: Oh, junior high is really a great age because they are really neither
fish nor fowl; they are just trying to decide if they are cute or if
they are smart; they are just at that age where they are everything
because they do not really know what they are. So one minute they
are serious and the next minute they are smart aleck. It is really
an interesting age because they do not know who they are. They are
just coming out of [the] shell.
C: I have heard that in some of the schools the parents brought dinner
or lunch. Did they do that?
B: No. I think that is true in the elementary school. I do not know,
but I heard that it was. But I think that was all elementary schools.
They did not, as far as I know, they did not do it there. In the
teachers' lounge at Westwood, now that you mention it, there were
cakes and things brought over and they probably were brought by par-
ents. I do not know. I did not spend a lot of time in the teachers'
lounge. [Laughter] I went down and ate my lunch every day, but I
took it from home. But there were cakes down there. Who brought
them, I do not know.
C: Were you tired at the end of the day?
B: At first, because it had been a while since I had taught. And when
you substitute you usually substitute a day at a time, and for the
first week I was physically exhausted. When I would come home, I
was not used to coming home and grading papers and then I had my
other stuff I had to do at home. This was an added attraction that
I had not planned on. I would fall in bed at nigh. Then it would
be time to get up. And I would think, "Oh, it is not already time to
get up." I can remember how completely exhausted after a week I
was. It is a whole new schedule. It is like having a baby and you
think,"Oh, I cannot live through staying up all night and all day."
But you soon get into a routine. So I finally got into my routine.
That took about a week. But that first week was just absolutely
physically and mentally, mostly mental exhaustion.
C: Did you have any of the children thank you or show appreciation?
B: I had one parent and the child came to my house after it was over
and express their appreciation. Well, a lot of people thanked not
only me but everybody. And as I said, the ones who did not want you
there, just did not say anything. But one of the parents and their
children came and she said I just want to thank you. I knew these
two people real well. But it was not a case that the child would
have said, "Well thank you," and she was coaxed to say it. The
mother came to thank me, and she came with her and then thanked too.
I do not think the mother said, "Now you must do this." I think she
really wanted to. And you do not get much of that. That is what
you call icing on the cake. But the mother had been one of them who
had brought us dinner at least once and she really appreciated us.
C: She really did?
B: She really did. I liked the letters the most. I liked some of the
letters that I got thanking me, but I think the grandmother who
brought her maid was--I just was flabbergasted. She called me and
she said, "I hear that you do not have any help and there is no way
that you can do that. So if you do not mind, I will bring her and
come and get her." And I just thought this was beyond the call of
duty. I just could not believe it.
C: That is kind of basic, isn't it.
B: Yes, I thought that was kind of basic. I would never have thought
of doing that. Would you? It just would not have dawned on me to
do that. So I thought this was nice. This was not a mother; this
was a grandmother.
C: Tell me what you saw in the community as far as dissension
B: I always think that any kind of confrontation can be worked out. I
just feel like that things can be worked out if two people sit down
and talk about it, and that you can come to some sort of an agree-
ment. I saw friends who had been friends for all their life, not
speak to each other anymore. And there is still some hard feelings
over the teachers' strike.
C: Do you think it still exists?
B: Some. Of course, Gainesville has grown so much that some people
would not even know what you are talking about. But there are peo-
ple whose hard feelings go back to the teachers' strike. For
instance, as far as I know, there are no hard feelings in this be-
cause the teacher has left town and the substitute really did not
know her all that well. But this was the kind of thing that went on
that caused hard feelings. This particular thing did not because
they did not know each other. But the substitute teacher went in to
teach and that afternoon when she got home phone calls started from
students just saying terrible things to her. Finally I do not know
how it happened now, and I do not know whether the little girl cried,
or the little girl apologized, but anyway, the teacher had been
putting them up to it. And it was that kind of thing; that was very
unusual, but it did happen.
That kind of thing can cause ill feeling. The substitute teacher
cried. I mean they would say things to her that would make her cry.
After school she would just be so mentally exhausted she would cry
and say, "So and so said to me today," and she knew at that point
that the teacher was putting them up to it and it was not what they
said. It was the fact that it was happening to her when she was
trying to work so hard. She said, "I have never said anything about
the teacher and I will not because the teacher was a young girl."
She did not really know her, but the fact that somebody would do
that hurt so bad that she cried.
C: So the teacher who was out tried to work through the children. I
had not heard of anything like that.
B: Well, that is sad and it was not a usual thing and I would not like
to go on record as saying it was because it was not.
C: But it did happen.
B: It did happen.
C: Where was that?
B: It was at Westwood. It was not all the children. She was just
working through a few of them. Now I do not recall if there were
some in every class or if it was the same ones doing it every day,
but I do remember how unhappy the substitute teacher was because she
really was trying to do a good job and she really was a qualified
teacher. I cannot say that she was better or not because I really
did not know that other young girl. But the fact is that these
things did happen. So if they happened once, they probably hap-
pened again. This cannot help but make you feel badly toward in-
dividuals. And I think there are friendships that have been broken
up over the strike, longstanding friendships. I used to know two or
three but I do not anymore. I do not really want to remember. See,
back then, Gainesville was not all this big and you did know...
C: So you knew everybody.
B: And you knew everybody. I listened to everything that I heard. I
did not discuss it but I listened to everything and a lot of the
teachers who taught, they would call back and forth and say, "How did
you go today," and this, that, and the other. So you would hear
things, but now I cannot remember any of the teachers that used the
children except that one.
C: Well, in the community as a whole, where would you place this, from
one to ten, as far as the depth of feeling and arousal and every-
B: I think it was one of the worst things that has happened to Gainesville
since I have lived here because it was such a personal thing to
everybody. This was personal to everybody in town. It had no race,
no religion, no anything. This was a personal thing that happened to
everybody in Gainesville. It touched everybody. Evey if you did not
have any kids in school, it still touched you because you had kids in
your community where you lived. I think that the teachers' strike
had more effect on people than people know. I think some of the
psychological problems that children have had stem from that.
One of the things that we had, and it is getting a little off the
subject, but I think some of the things that are happening in
Gainesville in the children's situation is the bomb scare they had.
For instance one of my children was in the second grade and everybody
was showing you where to go if the schools got bombed. Do you
remember that? Now I had one child that was really upset. I mean
just really upset. She just knew they were going to get bombed and
she could not get home. You cannot say it was the way it was pre-
sented to the children. How do you present this to the children ex-
cept that if you go here, you get bombed. I mean, there is no way
to present that nicely.
C: It is terrorizing.
B: Yes, it is terrorizing no matter how you do it. I had one child
that this really bothered and had it not bothered one of my children,
I would not realize that it did. That was one thing that happened
to these kids. Then they had integration, and the school strike, and
this one generation of kids has had things happen to them that have
just torn them apart. And then people say, "You know, children have
so many psychological problems now, I don't understand it." Well, I
understand it. You know, just things that happen to that generation.
C: Yes. Especially my older one still...
B: Yes, and you really do not realize. Well, just like I was telling my
daughter-in-law, her baby, who is eighteen months old, did something
and said something, and she said, she did that because of what I said
and now she is saying it. And I said, we do not know what we do to
our children. It may have been something really insignificant, but
it was silly.
You will never know what effect the school strike had on children.
There is no way to know that. The children, some of them, do not
know it. You do not know what the effects of integration are; you
do know the ones that got beat up, you know they are bound to have
some sort of effect. But you really do not know the effect these
things have on kids. Just like you do not know what effect you have
on your own children. I think the school strike had a tremendous ef-
fect because here; I think children need role models. I think if it
is superman, then superman has got to be great and do good things and
wear his white hat, and do whatever it is superman does. I just
think that kids need role models and some of the teachers that they
felt could do no wrong, all of a sudden, in their parents' eyes,
these teachers were doing a terrible thing. The parents say that
teacher should not go out on strike. Who does she think she is--
blah, blah, blah. And this is a teacher that child adores above all
else and thinks is the greatest, and you do not know the effect that
had on children.
C: You have destroyed an image.
B: You have destroyed an image, one way or the other. Either the par-
ents do not know or the teacher does not know and the child just does
not have the ability or the experience to say, maybe this one is
right. A child cannot think things through like you would like for
them to, and like you would think they could. And not knowing that
everything is not black and white, some things are, but everything is
not black and white; some things are gray. I think that the strike
was devastating to many children. I really do.
C: Do you think that it helped with the problems that the teachers had
gone out on strike to gain?
B: Well, they got their raise. But I think they would have gotten it
anyway. I feel I would like to pull one of your fathers and kind of
hedge, but I will not. I feel that the strike was very detrimental
to the teaching profession. I really do. The whole profession will
cease to become a profession. Not really. But I mean in that
instance. Professions do not go on strike. Just like in Canada,
the doctors went on strike. Well, doctors do no go on strike. If
somebody is sick, they go take care of them, and I feel the same way
about teachers. I just do not think teachers are supposed to
strike. If you do not want to work, you just do not go back.
C: It is a moral issue.
B: It is a moral issue with me and I realize that I overreact, but I
do feel this way. And I feel very strongly this way.
C: We did forget to talk about your mother's role in the strike. I
wanted to go back to that.
B: My mother taught while the strike was going on. I cannot remember.
It seems to me that my father had already retired and was the mayor
of the town. I think he had already retired, and my mother was in
C: What is CTA?
B: I am trying to think if I am saying that right. Classroom Teachers'
Association. Is that right? Isn't that funny. I forget; that just
C: Florida Education Association.
B: That is FEA. And the CTA I think is Classroom Teachers' Association.
But that popped out without my thinking and I thought, "Is that
right?" Whatever association she belonged to, she was the liason
between the association, the county association and her school.
Each one of them had, and still have, I suppose, a liason who commu-
nicates from the organization back to the school. And she was the
one there. They called her and said, "We are going out on strike
Monday," or tomorrow, or whatever the time frame was. I do not re-
member that. Please call everybody on the faculty and say that the
strike will start at school time on Monday morning. So she said all
right. So she did. That was her job and she called each one. And
as she called them, she told me this, this is second-hand, she said,
"I am calling from the CTA," or whatever that initial is. "I am
calling from the organization and the strike will start Monday morn-
ing. The CTA said you were not to go to work" The teachers she
called asked her, "Are you going to?" She said, "I will be there.
I was hired to teach and I will be there." She said this to every-
body. There was not one teacher that went out on strike in her
C: She sabotaged?
B: She did not. They asked her what she was going to do and she told
them. That was the way she felt about it and she did not. She
said, "I did not comment." They said, "What are you going to do?"
She said, "I was hired to teach and I will be there." And that she
said, "I did not comment, I did not do anything." But she said we
did not have one teacher go out. She said maybe they would not have
gone in anyway. But I do know that each one of them asked her and
that is all she said. So they did not have anybody striking. And
some of the schools did not.
C: How do you see the role of the paper in town, the Sun? What was
their role in the teachers' strike?
B: I do not know that I can give you a real answer to that because I
have such mixed emotions about the Gainesville Sun. I really am not
sure that I would give you an honest answer. As I recall they were
for the teachers, but I would not even swear to that at this point.
I do know that we had some editorials, but that only we have got two
or three people that editorialize. If I agree, there is one man
that writes editorials and if I agree with him I think, "You know,
gosh, there's something wrong with my thinking, because we never ag-
ree." So as I recall, they were for the strike,but I have had so
many problems I do not really remember except the editorials, and
some of the letters to the editor were very cruel. But the paper as
a whole, I really do not remember. I am sure they were for the
teachers but I really do not remember. But I do remember some of
the letters to the editor were very, very cruel and a couple of edi-
torials were cruel, but we all expected that.
C: Well how do you see the role of the state FEA and I believe you knew
Phil Constans. How did you see his role?
B: I do not know where Phil got his ideas. And this is where I think,
and I may be wrong, that the national unions came into play. There
was not a sweeter guy in the world than Phil in Gainesville. I
should not say this because I really did not know him in Tallahassee
in the job. So all I got was filtering down, and that is not a good
way to get it. But he was the one who said we will strike. He was
the one that made that final decision, and I think he was pushed
into it and I have no reason to say this except I just feel he was
pushed into it by some of the national unions.
But I think somewhere along the line he got very bad advice because
at one point, he was not going back in September, and then they chose
to go on back in September, and come out in the middle of the year,
all of a sudden. What you hear and what you remember kind of get
mixed up. I can remember hearing somebody who knew him really well
talk about what a big head he was getting to be and that he was going
to run this thing. I just do not really think that about him. I
think he was getting bad advice. But he was the one that made, as
far as I know, he and his council or committee made that final decis-
ion, and I am sure it was his decision.
C: Well, I...
B: They hired him.
C: Yes. On the issue of when the strike should have or should not have
occurred, I remember that most of the people who did not support the
strike, but who were education-minded, what would their opinion have
been on the idea of striking before school started or after you got
into the year? Do you think that many people had that opinion?
B: That had the same opinion I did? I think a lot of them did. I
think a lot of people who are of the old school like I was, and I
think this makes a difference, felt that it was ill-timed. The whole
thing was ill-timed and I think that some of the teachers who felt
that they had to go out, and there were those who felt they had to go
out to support the FEA, I think that some of them felt it was ill-
timed. As a matter of fact, some of them told me that. I had to go
out, they said. I had to support them, but I really feel that it
should not be done this way.
So the whole thing was so mixed up. Everybody was mixed up in their
mind. There were some of those who felt they were doing the right
thing, and come hell of high water this was what was doing to happen.
And I feel it is great that they can feel this way. If you can feel
very strongly about what you are doing is right and go ahead, that
is fantastic. But I think most all of us others felt really mixed
emotions about the whole thing. They wanted the teachers to get what
they needed; they wanted the teachers to do a great job; they wanted
them to have anything they wanted. You cannot pay a teacher enough,
a good teacher; there is not enough money to pay them. And a poor
teacher, whatever you give them, it is too much. So the good teach-
ers, they wanted them to have anything they wanted, and yet they did
not feel they were going about it in the right way, and some of the
good teachers felt the same way about it even though they went out
and felt that they had to go out and support them, because this is
the way they were going to get what they needed.
I think that was one of the sad things. I think there were a few
teachers that felt very strongly that they were doing the right
thing and they must do this in order to do what they wanted, and
they felt very strongly that they were right, and they had no mixed
C: We were talking about the intensity of feeling and how people felt
conflict. How would you say the intensity of the feeling was in the
B: I would say it was very intense. I think it was probably one of the
worst things that has happened to Gainesville because the teachers
themselves were not one hundred percent for the strike. The commu-
nity had such mixed emotions and everybody sided, one side or the
other, and it just really was a very intense time. It affected ev-
erybody in Gainesville. There was nobody that was not touched by
the strike. The big conflict I think was the students' conflict
within themselves not knowing whether the teacher was right, or the
parents who felt they should not have gone out on strike. This was
in every family and the people who did not have children in school
were discussing it. It was just really a terrible time and I
think it was probably one of the most intense times we have ever
C: How do you see the impact on the development of the private school?
B: I think that probably this strike had more effect on developing the
private school than integration did, at least the one that I had any-
thing to do with. I think the teacher apathy was the thing that
one had to contend with at that point. So many people started send-
ing their children away to school, because at one time I knew how
many kids were going away to school and the people did not want to
send their children away to school. They wanted to keep their
children at home, and yet they wanted them to get as good an education
as they could. So I think we talk about teacher apathy, and read
about it, and write articles about it, but nobody ever stops and says
way they are apathetic. A lot of the teachers just felt like people
did not really care one way or the other whether they had good
schools or not.
So why bother with working hard and teaching as well as you can if
they did not care enough to pay them. So it is not entirely the
teacher's fault. If you are doing a job and nobody really cares
whether you do it well or not, why do it well? Why go the extra
mile? So the teachers were apathetic after the strike. They did not
get that great big raise. And there really was not all that much
difference after the strike was over except hard feelings, and I
think probably the strike had as much to do with the private school,
and I am not sure everybody realizes that. I think most people feel
like it was integration. It is a fact that Gainesville has always
had good schools, and all of a sudden, Gainesville did not have good
schools. Gainesville had schools like everybody else and I think
this was the thing that made all the drug dealing and crime and all.
I think it was a whole lot of stuff that the church schools started,
I suspect primarily because of drugs and this sort of thing. But
your college preparatory independent schools started I think prob-
ably more because of the apathetic situation than integration. So
it depends on what kind of school you are talking about. I think
really that the Christian schools started because of crime and drugs
and this kind of thing.
C: But the more academically-concerned private schools because of the...
B: Well, I would not say the more academic; I would say college prepara-
tory because some of the church schools are very academically in-
clined, and have been going on a long time. So I hesitate to...
C: To draw a line.
C: How did your high school son get along after that? Was he able to
make up for the lost time?
B: Well, he could have but I do not know that he did. Fortunately he had
an excellent background up until that time. Westwood had English
teachers and math teachers that were just absolutely marvelous, and
he had had an excellent background. So I am not too sure whether he
made up or not. I suspect that he probably did not. And I suspect
his first year of college would have been much easier had he not had
all of these things happen while he was in high school--integration
and teachers' strike--because I think this is very sad for those
that were in high school, and had both of them during the three years
they were in high school. I think this was a very bad situation and
I think that he would have had a much easier year his freshman year
in college had he not had the teachers' strike and not had to go
through the apathy and the integration and all.
The reason that I feel that he did not make up for it is because his
first year in college, comparing it with the girls' first year in
college, one CLEPed and they both made "A"s, and he had a struggle
his first year. After that, it was all right. But it was not lack
of knowledge; it was lack of organization, study habits, and things
that he would have gotten had he had three years of regular high
school, which he did not have. I still resent that because he missed
out on the three years of high school which should have been a good
time and a great learning thing. But he is doing great, and did well
in college. But his first year he had to learn how to study. But
fortunately, because Gainesville had really good schools, he had an
excellent background to fall back on. Some of them did not. Some
kids were not so fortunate, and I do not know what they did.
C: So in your own child you could definitely see some damage.
B: Oh yes. Comparing my first child who went to Vanderbilt and my
second child who went to Vanderbilt. I do not really compare my
children because they are all individuals. But comparing the ease
with which they accepted college and how easy it was for them, our
son's grades, our son's first year in college was very, very hard on
him. And it was lack of organization and lack of study habits. Our
girl, second child who went there with the same professors, generally,
made straight "A"s, and she said about her math class that I never
had to open a book because I had already had it all.
C: Have you remained involved in the school system since that time?
B: No, I have not.
C: Was there a reason?
B: No, I have just been doing other things. I figured when the kids
graduated, so did I. I have remained involved in the public schools
until I did not have anybody in the public schools anymore. Then I
was very much involved in private school and remained very much in-
volved in that until I did not have anybody else in school and now I
have graduated. If the time came that I needed to go back, I would
really go back because I think there is nothing better than teaching.
There is nothing more rewarding than teaching. And I really look
forward to going back to teaching, but it is too hard. The schools
have outgrown me. When you come from the old school, you do not go
back. I taught from elementary to the college level, and I like the
junior high and high school level better than any other level. I
just could not teach now because the discipline is different from
what I hear and I could not take it.
C: How do you feel about the impact of the teachers' strike getting
education where it is today in the community?
B: Well, I am sure I am wrong, and I do not mind being wrong. But I
wish I were right. I feel like they could have gotten as much or
more had they not struck. I just am a great believer in arbitration.
I just think people can do that. I do not believe you have to have
a war either. But, you do, because people have got to fight. But I
just feel like a community ought to be able to straighten out any
kind of problem. Of course this was statewide, but the state is not
any bigger than a lot of little communities, and I just feel like
that had the teachers said, "Now look, we have got to do this."
You can sell anything. Look at Silver Springs and look at Disney
World. Disney sold a mouse, and that little mouse made him a for-
tune. All he did was sell it at the right time, and I just feel
that had the teachers sold the public on education more, and gotten
more people involved, I just feel like it could have been worked
out a better way, and the school situation would have been better.
C: So you think the teachers' image is so important in the whole thing?
B: I do. I think anybody who has to do with development of young
people, the teacher or the one that is doing the developing or help-
ing develop is extremely important. It is like when I used to teach
in high school, and I had a friend, and because I smoked she was
always teasing me because I would not smoke in front of my kids.
And I said, "Well, if they asked me if I smoked I would say yes. I
would not lie about it." But every time they saw me with a ciga-
rette, there would be one child among those children who would say,
"It is all right; she does." And therefore, I would be teaching
them something that might be wrong, and as it turned out, it would
have been. And I felt that it was my duty not to smoke in front of
them. Not that I thought it was wrong, or I would not have done it.
At that time we did not know it would kill you, and at that time it
was a moral issue. And I would not smoke in front of any of my kids
because I thought it was wrong. I might or might not smoke in front
of their parents. Most of the time not. But I felt it was wrong
for a teacher to be an example, and at that time it was a moral is-
sue, and it certainly was wrong for a child to smoke.
I had this friend who constantly teased me about it. And I said,
"Well, this is the way I feel about it and I think it is wrong and I
think it is wrong for me to smoke in front of any child I am training
because this is a decision I made as an adult and they can make it as
an adult." But if I smoke in front of them, I am helping them make
it as a child. So I do not know. I have all these moral issues
going around in my mind that are outmoded and outdated and I know it
and I live with it and that is the way I am.
C: If you had it to do over again, would you do the same thing?
B: Would I go back and teach. I would have no hesitation.
C: If the teachers went out?
B: All things being equal, if everything was the same, if it was like
it was, I would have no hesitation. As I said, if the river flooded
and the superintendent said, "I need all able-bodied qualified
teachers." I do not have my certificate but I still have my degree.
They cannot take that just because I am getting old. They cannot
take that away from me. I would go tomorrow and teach. And I would
love it. I mean I love teaching. I like to teach. I just think it
is great. I am sorry I am not emotionally ready for the kids nowa-
C: I think it is a real loss that you do not teach, Glenna.
B: I do not know about that. I believe when you "sit down" that means
now. And now the kids do not do that much.
C: Where do you think that fault lies?
B: Oh, I do not know. I think it is the times. I watched my child
come home from GHS and talk one day; I will never forget it. It
really sticks in my mind now. I was washing dishes and he came in
and was spouting something he had heard about. I think kids ought
to hear all these things at school, but they have got to know
where to put them. And he came home and started spouting about mid-
dle class mediocrity and middle class this and middle class that.
We just had it up one side and down another. I could not sit down.
I told him, "I have got something I have got to talk to you about."
I am middle class and you are middle class, and we went on and on
and on about it. I think probably parents do not sit down and really
talk to their children because they are afraid of not being their
I do not think parents should necessarily worry about being a
child's friend. I think they have the children for about twenty
years to guide them. So they had better be an adult, and that their
first thing in life is not to be their child's friend. They are to
be a parent. We never hesitated to say what we thought. Somebody
asked me the other day about raising a teenager. They said, "Oh, I
am so upset because I am raising this teenager. What do I do?" I
said, "I will tell you exactly how to raise a teenager. Now you
listen carefully because I am just going to tell you this once."
She laughed and I said, "That is what you say to your teenager when
they come in and start bellowing at you. You say, now you sit down,
I have got something to say and I am going to say it to you once."
And I said, "Then you talk very quickly and you say exactly how you
think and then you run as hard as you can to your bedroom and lock
the door before they have time to talk back."
I think parents are really afraid to talk back to their children and
I think that is wrong. I think this is true of the police and I
think it is true of the court. Somewhere somebody is scared of some-
body. I think there is not enough discipline and I think children
like discipline. I think they like to know how far they can go.
This is the line where that is as far as you can go. Now do not go
any further. And if they are good and nice bright children, they
will try to go over that line every chance they get. But there has
got to be somebody to stop them and I think that somewhere along the
line somebody is not stopping them. And one person cannot do it.
C: Sort of a...
B: It has to be the town, and I think the size of the town has something
to do with it. When I grew up, I grew up in a very small town and
you just did not dare do anything wrong because everybody knew you,
and they would tell your daddy. Of course if your daddy was princi-
pal of the high school, you did not have a chance anyway. But
nobody would do anything because everybody knew everybody else. And
I think that had something to do with it; the size of the town and
the fact that people do not know each other.
C: Do you feel comfortable and happy with the contribution you made
during the teachers' strike?
B: Oh, I do not think you ever do as much as you would like. I would
like to have gotten out on some soap boxes because I happen to be
very vocal, and it was very difficult for me to keep my mouth shut.
But I felt that was the thing that I needed to do. Yes, the situa-
tion being as it was, I felt that I did all I could, and I certainly
taught as hard as I could. I do not know, if you would have asked
me that the day it was over. I probably would have. There had
been some other things I would have liked that I felt that I could
have done, but it is kind of hazy at this point. What I remember is
that I taught as hard as I could, and tried to be as nice to the
children as I could and they certainly were nice. I did not have any
discipline problems and I guess I did all I could, but had you asked
me immediately,,l am sure there would have been something else.
C: Well it was a time I think that we will never forget in this commu-
B: No, and the people who were here at the time will never forget it
and that is the sad part. Every now and then in conversation it will
come up and sometimes people relate to the teachers' strike. Like
they say, "That happened two years before the teachers' strike."
Some people will not even mention it at all. I mean if you talk
about the teachers' strike they just completely turn you off. So I
very seldom talk about it.
C: So it did make a big impact.
B: Oh, I think it did. I do not think there is any doubt at all. I
think there are people that you could call to ask to interview and
they would not even discuss it with you. I do not know who they are,
but I am sure there are because there were a lot of hurt feelings,
and it was all personal, which is the saddest thing. They did not
make it an issue; they were not mad at the government. They were
mad at their friends because of what they said.
C: It was so personalized?
B: It was very personal and that is the saddest thing of the whole
thing. If they had only been mad at the government, or you can get
mad at a group, but they were not. They were mad at their friends,
or their former friends, and that to me was very, very sad.
C: It was so at home.
B: It was so at home. And of course the saddest thing that happened to
me was the mother who that afternoon took her child out of her scout
troop. When I came home from school, it was the first week and we
were having a mother-daughter thing, and I was late. So everybody
knew where I was. Had I been on time, she probably would not have
known it for a while, but I was late and the other scout leader,
Mimi Baumstein, said where I was. She did not know not to, and had
it been reversed, I would not have known not to say where she was.
So she got up and she said Glenna is teaching out at Westwood, she
will be home in a little bit, and she told us to go ahead and start.
So when I walked in the mother took the daughter and walked out, and
that hurt a lot.
C: Did she come back later?
B: No, never. And she made no bones about why she was taking her.
C: That is bad, that is the saddest part of it.
B: But that was just one instance. That is the only thing that hap-
pened to me, but multiply this, see? I was not chosen to have some-
thing bad happen to me. This happened all over town. People just
did not discuss it. This took the child away from her friends.
C: It really hurt that child.
B: It hurt the child. It hurt me because it was going to hurt the
child. It hurt me anyway. That hurt your ego when somebody says,
you stupid nut, don't you know what you are doing? And so she pro-
ceeded to tell me what I was doing. That hurt and so you multiply
that by ever how many were in there. Everybody that taught, I am
sure, had something happen to them that they wish had not happened.
And anything that hurts like that does not just hurt one person; it
hurts many. I am sure it hurt that little girl more than it did me
and it hurt me pretty good.
C: So you think the destructive things like this were very damaging
B: This and the phone calls between the teachers. It was mostly the
ones who went out who would call the ones that were in, and you would
hear them say to each other, not to me, but to each other, who the
people that were staying on the job. I could hear them say, "So and
so called me last night." It was crushing to them because these were
their friends. Then they would call them and try to get them to go
out and that was crushing because everybody made the decision.
It was one way or the other; everybody made their decision. Now I
did not. I did not have a decision to make except to go teach. But
had I been teaching, I would have had to have made a decision. Do I
go out or not go out. This had to be a very difficult thing to do
and then to be called, and say, "You have made the wrong decision "
and be talked to by one of your good friends and say what a nincom-
poop you are. This had to be a terrible situation. You are not
talking about people you do not know. You are talking about your
next door neighbor.
C: So the means they used to reach a desired end were destructive.
B: Oh, that is my opinion. I just feel like these things could be sat
down and discussed and I just feel like any time that you have peo-
ple, neighbors against neighbors, it is one thing for this town to be
against supreme court decisions, but for me to be against you as my
neighbor and fight you is much worse. It is like a civil war. And
everybody agrees the Civil War was the worst war we have ever fought.
And it was like the Civil War and not so deadly, but you [are] talk-
ing about people mad at each other and next door neighbors, with
children caught up in it. That has got to be the worst. It just
really was a bad time. It just really was a bad time and I really
C: Well, Glenna, can you think of anything else you want to add to...
B: I did not even think I remembered that much.
C: Well you know a lot.
B: When you called and asked me I thought, "Gosh, I cannot remember
back that far, age is getting up with me and I cannot remember all
that." But when you start talking about things, and that is probably
the reason you do it for three hours because it brings back things
and I am sure that tonight, because this will make me think about
it, I will think of something else, nothing important, but things
C: Well, I really do appreciate your willingness to do this.
B: I hope it helped because I just really think it would be a shame and
disgrace if it ever happened again, and that is what history is, to
keep us from doing over and over again what we have done. I does
not, but that is what it is for.
C: So that maybe you could avoid this in the future.
B: Right. What should have been avoided.
C: You are really a good subject and I really enjoyed talking to you.
B: Well, you know how I hate to talk.
C: Well, we hope it will be useful.