"ALACHUA PORTRAIT: The Living Heritage Project"
•Sponsored by the Florida Endowment for the Humanities,
and the City of Alachua.
Project Director: Sudye Cauthen
Humanities Consultant: Allan Burns
University of Florida, Oral History Program
Oral History Consultant: Samuel Proctor, Director
Typing, editing, and printing of transcripts:
Oral History Program Staff
Special Consultants to "ALACHUA PORTRAIT:"
Frank Martin Cellon and Vada Beutke Horner
ALACHUA PORTRAIT FORUM #7
"HEALTH, WELFARE AND RECREATIONS"
SEPTEMBER 29, 1983
VOICES IN ORDER OF FIRST SPEAKING:
Tim Check, Panel Moderator-City of Gainesville Safety Office
Allan Burns, Ph.D., Humanities Consultant
Ron Prokopf (Commenting on pre-forum display of
fire/emergency equipment) - Fire Chief, City of Alachua
Shelly O'Connor, EMT who arranged pre-forum display
Bill Watson, speaking from audience
Vada Beutke Horner-elementary schoolteacher (speaking from
M: Doug Murdock, panelist-Recreation Board Member, City of
OW: Ozell Williams, speaking from audience
MH : Martha Richard Hagan, speaking from audience
EH: Evelyn Holland, speaking from audience-Mayor/Commissioner,
City of Alachua
G: Diane Green, Panelist-UF Nursing Instructor
E: Sue Ann Enneis, panelist-Chairman, Library Board, City of
S: Marian Strappiere, speaking from audience-
Sudye Cauthen, speaking from audience (AP Project Director)
Rodolfo Collante, panelist-local physician
Steve Everett, panelist-schoolteacher, nature enthusiast
Vernon Hill, speaking from audience-farmer
Letha DeCoursey, speaking from audience-herbalist
Rebecca Wallace, panelist-midwife
Due to the limitations inherent in transcribing these audio tape,
there may be misspellings of proper names and geographic
locations. The language has been reproduced as accurately as
possible, however, there were some problems with the quality of
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011 with funding from
LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation
C: I would like to introduce Miss Shelley O'Connor who is a firefighter, EMT,
and paramedic student, and Chief Ron Prokopf, Alachua Fire Chief. They
are people who are responsible for putting on that good show and they have
got to get back out there because you never know when they are going to
have to do something for real. If you all have any questions that you
would like to ask them, please do so.
B: One thing you were mentioning briefly, and I did not quite get it
straight. There are several organizations cooperating here, maybe you
could mention that to the audience.
P: Yes, this was three individual organizations working together in
conjunction, as one team effort with Shands Care Emergency helicopter,
along with the Alachua County Rescue Service, and the Alachua Fire Rescue
Department. We work together as one group, one team, and if we have any
problems we try to sit down and iron them out. We will train together.
On occasion we will train with the other helicopter from Alachua General,
and as you see, the only way you really can tell us apart is by the
uniforms. It is hard to completely identify one from the other, Some of
our people also work for the helicopter service as part-time fire rescue.
Shelley's a part-time employee. So these are the services that we are
providing you people with. We have got the equipment that the city has
needed for a long time, as far as extricating people out of automobiles,
and it is used quite frequently. What you have seen today is typical
daily routine type of accidents.
U: Any questions?
B: I want to ask another one of Shelley real quick. What if somebody in
Alachua here was interested in pursuing the kind of work you are doing?
How would they go about it if they are interested in volunteering or
actually going into it as a profession?
O: As far as rescue, you need to get in touch with Bill Irwin. He is the
director of the Emergency Service programs over at Santa Fe Community
College and the program begins in January. There will be a night class
offered. You have to take a general entrance exam and then you will be
selected by your application. You can take EMT courses, it takes four
months, which is a semester. Then for both fire and rescue, the fire
course is a thirty-hour state course which is offered in different fire
departments at different times during the year. It lasts for a couple of
months. About twice a week.
U: Are you the fire chief?
U: In the past, how often have we utilized the services of the two
helicopters in the county?
0: Well, a couple of weeks ago we used a helicopter on a wreck.
P: Right in the city limits, we had a couple of times to land right here at
the fire station because we had a critical patient. With the helicopter
you do not have a traffic problem when they get into Gainesville like the
ambulances do, or if we had more than one critical patient, we would call
the helicopter because the county only has four ambulances at a time. The
county is busy. And I understand they used it on the interstate here just
a couple of weeks ago on a bad wreck right up here on the interstate. I
think there was one fatality and two injured and one of the injured went
by transport ambulance, and the other by helicopter. We are at liberty at
any time to call for it if we need it. There is a protocol that we follow
and we use judgment on the scene. If we get to a bad wreck and we do not
feel that there is enough ambulances that can get here quick enough, then
we can call directly in.
C: Early last spring, a helicopter landed in Hitchcock's parking lot about
2:00 a.m. and it looked like a sandstorm over there.
Do we have a centrally-located area designated within the city where the
helicoDter would land?
helicopter would land?
P: No, sir, what we do is try to make provisions on the scene if we can. If
we cannot, we try to get to the next closest thing, a diamond in a ball
park, or land in the middle of a highway. We land them on the interstate.
We try to get close to the scene. When we get to the scene it is our job
to pick an area for the helicopter.
W: Now, the last question on this subject. I noticed on the helicopter the
words, Shands Care. How are they affiliated with Care Air Corporation?
P: I could not answer that, I do not know. Shands Care is affiliated with
Shands Teaching Hospital.
W: I am aware of that.
P: Step Flight is with Alachua General and I could not answer that now. This
could be a lease. They lease those helicopters and I understand that if
one has a mechanical problem, where they have to take it out of service,
they have got back-up helicopters they can use. It is like a lease
purchase, or rent type. Do not quote me on that because you would have to
talk to somebody.
C: We realize we are running a little late, but the demonstration was worth
some time to see. We are going to push our program back in time a little
bit so that we can do justice to our seminar in Health, Welfare, and
B: Let me say a few words and then we will get right into the panel. Tonight
we are talking about health and welfare in Alachua. I think our
demonstration tonight was a good demonstration of some of the vitality,
health, and welfare of Alachua. There are people like Shelley O'Connor
who are willing to work hard to make Alachua a safe and healthy place.
Think about what health means for a moment. Health means the opposite of
illness. Illness is when you are socially isolated, you are put into a
hospital gown and you are put in a place where people find it hard to come
and see you. That is when you cannot be in the community. You can take
part in things, you are not socially isolated, you are not physically
isolated, you are part of what makes Alachua Alachua.
So think about our forums here, and think about what we are talking about.
We are talking about the health of the community. Because when you are
healthy you can take part in local government. You could come down to
city council meetings. When you are not healthy, you cannot come. You
will stay at home with a sore throat. You stay at home because you cannot
get out. You will go to a hospital. If you are healthy, you can do a
job, you can be employed somewhere in Alachua. If you are not healthy, you
cannot be employed, so there is a connection there. If you are healthy,
you can go to school. You can learn something, you can have what we all
have behind us passed down to the new generation. If you are not healthy,
you will not be in school. You will be socially isolated. If you are
healthy, you will be active in a church. Because a healthy person is one
who takes part in religious activities as well. If you are not healthy,
you will not be involved in those things. So think about what health
means to Alachua. It means the ability to do what we are doing tonight.
It means the ability to do all the things we have talked about in these
forums. It means the ability to take part in what makes this community a
good community. So tonight what we are talking about is not just people
being physically sick, emotionally sick, or mentally sick, but rather we
are talking about what makes a community and the people in it healthy.
Let's consider that.
Again, like the other forums, we will go through and individually have
each person say a few words. I do encourage people from the audience and
the panel to ask questions and raise comments and issues. If you hear
something that somebody says over there please ask a question of them. At
this point I will turn it over to Mr. Tim Check who will introduce our
C: Yes, I just wanted to add that we are also going to be discussing the
issue of recreation which is a final part of health and welfare. Mr. Doug
Murdock works for the city of Gainesville as an electrical inspector, is
director of Pop Warner Football League, a member of the Alachua Recreation
Board, and supporter of all active youth recreation programs in the city
of Alachua. Next to Doug is Sue Ann Enneis who is secretary at MeBane
Middle School. Sue Ann has three beautiful children and she is involved
with the Alachua Library Board. Next to Sue Ann is Dr. Collante, a
practicing physician right here in the City of Alachua. Steve Everett,
who is a teacher and an outdoorsman. He is going to talk to us about
another facet of recreation other than organized sports. Next to Steve is
Rebecca Wallace, who is a longtime citizen of our town of Alachua.
Rebecca has been a midwife for fifty-one years. We are going to enjoy
listening to her tell about some of the things that have happened to her
in her lifetime in our little city. Next to Miss Wallace is Diane Green,
who is a professor of student nursing. Miss Wallace is going to share
with us some of her ideas of health care, and her perceptions of what she
sees as long range needs of health care in our city. Also, Dr. Green has
some students from nursing here in our audience. We are going to start
with Doug, who is going to talk to us about some of the things we are
currently doing with recreation and where we want to go in the future.
M: You will have to forgive me. This is a spur-of-the-moment thing for me
and I was not prepared to give a dissertation on the activities that our
youth programs are into right now. But we are involved in a youth
football program, ages seven to age thirteen. We have five different
teams from the city of Alachua participating in this program. We play
teams from five other cities in our area and are associated with teams in
ten different cities in our area, as far as St. Augustine and Callahan,
Florida. It is a well-organized system and I think it is the best
football program that the city could get involved in. They have very
strict weight provisions for all the boys' ages. There is an overlap in
weight and ages as they grow older. One year you may be on the smaller
team, or the higher team, depending on your age and weight. They overlap,
so you will be placed where you are physically able to play the game of
football to your advantage so that you will not get hurt. We would not
place a lightweight boy on a team, even through he qualified for age, if
we felt that he would be injured by the weight of the other boys on the
team in that classification. We play eight total games a year. We play
four home games this weekend and we invite you all to come out and take a
look at us. The boys are having a ball and they are really playing well
this year. Besides the football program, of course, I do not know if all
of you know we are involved in Little League Baseball. We have a well-
organized Little League program here also. We also started a basketball
progcam last year for our youth. I feel it is important for our youth to
get involved at a young age and to get the proper coaching and direction
from older individuals, so that they can see how easy it is to grow wise
and grow old the right way. Rather than be out on the streets doing
things they should not do, they can be supervised by mature adults in a
sport that they really like and enjoy to participate in. I am happy to be
involved with sports and recreation here in Alachua. As long as they will
have me, I will be here. If you have any questions, I will be glad to
C: Doug, what kinds of things do you see down the road in the area of
recreation for all ages in the city of Alachua?
M: I feel it is possible to have adult recreation in all ages, not only just
in the sports activities. I feel there is no reason we could not have
bridge clubs or any kind of activities that older adults, including
myself, can get involved in weekly. We have the facilities here in
Alachua. Down the road I forsee that we will have even more facilities
here in Alachua, not only for organized sports, but for adult activities.
It is good for the community. It brings people together that would
normally not be together. You make friends, and you make a few enemies,
but you make more friends. So I believe that it is all very important to
us growing up, and to our youngsters growing up, that we have a vital and
active program for adults as well as children.
B: Mr. Williams, you have a question?
OW: Yes, I would like to ask the gentleman a question relative to recreational
funds, from the state or the federal level. In regard to the federal
level, the president's program on physical fitness, I do not know whether
or not they have any money there. But there are avenues outside of the
city's budget where you can get a grant.
M: Well, I think with the city of Alachua's help, as far as writing grants
go, if we had the facilities or the land that we could put up and then get
a matching grant for that. We could have a facility of our own right here
in Alachua. We do not have any money from federal or state associations
or agencies. All of our monies and revenues are generated by the citizens
of Alachua and the outlying areas. They come to us in the form of
donations or sponsorships. It is a self-supporting program. Right now,
it is doing well. There is quite a bit of money involved in football.
But I do not believe we see any problems as far as meeting our debits at
the end of the year. We have some very influential people here in town
who have helped us right now in our beginning. I believe that they will
help us down the road too.
C: I think one thing you are going to see county- wide, is the City of
Gainesville is very seriously looking at user-fees, or participation fees.
You know, right now you can participate in a lot of the city of
Gainesville's Recreation Department programs without paying any fee. We
have already taken that step here in the City of Alachua of saying if you
want to participate in the program, you have got to make some type of
personal and dollar commitment to the program. Gainesville is just waking
up now. We are a couple of steps ahead of them in respect to that.
B: Let's hear from someone else in the audience about what we can look
forward to in the future.
U: I have a question. What about sports for girls?
M: Okay. We have organized softball for the girls in the softball part of
the season. Right now, I should have mentioned it before. My wife would
slap my hands right here if she was here. [Audience laughter] We also
have cheerleading for our girls in the football program and right now we
have over sixty girls participating as cheerleaders. They are as excited
about the football program as the boys are and we also have functions for
them coming up in conjunction with football. We have a Homecoming Dance
coming October eighth. The girls are all out there trying to get
Homecoming Queen. It is very, very exciting to see the enthusiasm
generated by the youth in this program. Any other questions?
B: Working with older people, I have a question. Working with bridge clubs
and things that might be used for older peple, what could the community do
to bring those sorts of things about? How would you reach those people?
How could you help them get organized to have this sort of recreational
M: Well, the way we got organized was word of mouth. We wanted something
better than what we had, and a few people got together and we went out and
made it work. We did not know what we were doing when we started. I
guarantee you we did not. But we were not satisfied with the programs for
our youth that we had in the past and so, without slowly phasing it out,
we just cut the strings and here we were. We did not have a program
anymore. We had to get something. I believe if the citizens of Alachua
want it bad enough, want to get together with their peers, that they can
get together by getting out. Two, three, or four people together can
start something happening. Wocd of mouth is going to get out.
MH: I do not know how many times a month, but at the Woman's Club, elderly
meet for a covered dish and then the play bridge or cards.
M: We are talking about courses in different things that people are
interested in, such as pottery, macrame, and basket weaving. There are
several things that we can get started.
B: Well, something that came up last week. Ms. Horsley talked about the fact
that she enjoys walking around the town. That is an activity for people
of all ages, to just get out and start walking around town. There is a
lot of interest in that here.
W: Perhaps our first project for our elderly might be a bridge session. On
my side of town, there are not too many bridge players. We have the
capacity to learn to play bridge, but we have not been exposed to bridge.
That is just not one of our favorite pastimes. So we trust that when we
get together to decide what we are going to provide for our senior
citizens, we can perhaps choose something that the members of the black
community can, more or less, identify with, other than bridge. Perhaps we
can learn how to make quilts or about basket weaving. Not so much of
leisure hobbies, but we trust that when we do come together with this that
we will take that under consideration.
EH: Marian Strappiere says that Bill is speaking about the men and she belongs
to a bridge club.
G: The Older Americans Council has a mechanism for entertainment, craft kinds
of activities apart from just the congregate meals and we tried to get
that going. I think about a year and a half or two ago we could not find
a volunteer. They need a volunteer for the community to help senior
citizens with crafts and more sedentary kinds of activites that some of
those who are more disabled can do. I made lots of phone calls about it.
People did too. We could not find anyone. Pperhaps as a result of some of
these meetings, they will come forward.
M: It only takes one or two to get something going.
C: Thank you very much, Doug. Next person on our panel is Sue Ann Enneis.
E: They have not really told me exactly what I am supposed to talk about
except kind of a wish list where I would like to see Alachua be as far as
health and welfare and recreation in the years to come. As many of you
know, I have only been here for ten years. When I first moved here it was
just a fact of life in this community that in order to have medical help
you went to Gainesville. We had Dr. Goode, but when I came here he was in
semi-retirement. He took no new patients and everybody went to
Gainesville for the doctor. It was always in the back of my mind that we
would have a doctor, and facilities here in Alachua to take care of our
people so we would not have to go into Gainesville. Within the last
several years, of course, Dr. Collante has opend his practice, and Dr.
Andrew has opened. We do have a dentist now. So, as far as a wish list
for health, I would just like to see people continue to have health care
available within the city and not have to rely so heavily on going into
Gainesville. I would also like to see a continuation of the emergency
services that are provided by the county for emergency health care. We
need, within our schools, a daily nurse. We have a person who comes to us
once a week and sometimes we need her and it is several days before she is
going to be there. I would like to see the county provide some kind of a
trained person within the school to be there on a daily basis.
As you know, my love is the library. For years, I have wanted a library.
When Evelyn came to the commission she said, "Well, I am going to appoint
a board and now you can quit talking about wanting it and do something
about getting it here." So we are at a point where we have an operating
library but I do want to see us move from the trailer and into a permanent
facility and to offer a wider variety of programs. Right now we are
geared strictly toward the preschool child. We have the preschool story
hour. We have never gotten the ball rolling working with school age
children or an adult or some family type programs. Because the health,
reading, and knowledge are all a part of your total health picture. So I
do want to see us at least into a permanent facility and the library able
to expand some of its programs that can be offered through the library.
C: Sue Ann, can you describe some of the programs that you are offering now?
Tell us about some of the things that the people like about the library,
you know, what types of programs that you do for the kids?
E: Well, at the present time, the only program that we actually have in
operation for children is the preschool story hour. We tried to have a
school-age story time, but we just did not have the children participate
in the program, either because of parents working and they got to a
babysitter after school or whatever. We did not have enough children come
in the afternoon. It is one of my hopes that before the end of this year
we will set it up again on Wednesday. There is a need in the community, I
feel, for after-school care for our elementary children on Wednesday.
They get out an hour and ten minutes before the middle and high schools,
and there are families who need a place for the children to go. So we are
in the process of setting up an after-school program on Wednesday for the
C: How would you say your volunteer are? Do you need more volunteers?
B: A leading question.
E: I do not think there is anybody who would say we have enough volunteers.
I have ladies who have been working for over two years now, volunteering
some two or three days a week in the library, and they would love a day
off. They would love to have some people who would come and work in the
U: I would just like to address the comment she made about keeping health in
Alachua. We work with several families in Alachua who still continue to
find a need to go to Gainesville for health care due to their financial
situation and would, I believe, be an asset to the city if they could get
some sort of screening or health facility here besides the Alachua Clinic,
which Martha Banks runs, to offer a facility to the people.
W: Cne other comment concerning the library. In the not so recent past, had
not we experienced some new certification into the Santa Fe System of
Libraries? We are trying to enter into the county-wide system. Have not
we been accepted into that? How will that affect our library with
supplies, books, and so forth?
E: At this time it is not going to affect our library except that it makes us
a branch. Last year, the county funded us $10,000 for purchasing books
and $1,500 for supplies. At that time, Santa Fe Regional Library really
acted like we were a branch. They helped us with the buying and
cataloging of the books. And they have, since day one, done everything in
their power to help us get off the ground. They have worked with us in
setting up our programs.
B: How about some ideas about the library and how it fits into this whole
area of recreation and health and the well-being of the community. Are
there programs or things you wish a library to do? I know in the
Gainesville library, they have a story-time or they have storytellers come
in. I have often thought that is a nice thing to have some of the elderly
people in town, some of the people on the panel, and some people who have
been in the audience as a resource we could use to just have them come in
and tell some of the old family stories maybe once a month or something
like that. That might bring people into the library.
OW: Ms. Enneis. This might be ignorance on my part but is the bookmobile
cancelled here for Alachua?
E: Yes, sir.
OW: Now, so far as the library itself is concerned, there is very little or no
reading material basically for adults. You know the best seller list, the
book that you hear about on TV, the authors' biographies, etc. I am just
wondering whether or not the bookmobile could be coming back into
operating in this area.
E: The bookmobile will not come back to this area at all. The bookmobile was
here when there was not a library, when that was our only means of getting
library books other than driving to High Springs or Gainesville. The
bookmobile stayed in Alachua it was felt that the bookmobile was not
needed any longer. If there is a book that you have been looking for
that you do not see on our shelves, you may ask the librarian and she will
order it from Gainesville for you. Or a particular subject. They will
send books relating to that subject.
OW: Thank you.
B: Sue Ann, what are the prospects for a larger library now? What, in terms
of your wish list, would a new library look like?
E: A new library would be a permanent facility and we have been looking at
several pieces of property. Price is the main drawback. We do not have
the funds necessary for a permanent facility and the city at this time
does not have the funds to purchase a permanent facility. Because the
libraries for the whole county are set up with the understanding that the
county pays for books, librarians, supplies, and the city provides the
building, maintenance, and upkeep.
B: One more question?
U: Yes, I was at the last forum and I was under the impression that we were
going to lease the Rolling Green Library.
S: They do not have a library.
B: It was brought up last week that the Rolling Green Academy might have been
purchased. But, as I understand it, it had already been sold.
EH: Rolling Green was purchased by a group of financiers and it is still for
sale. The city would like to buy it, but it needs the input from the
people. If we could buy Rolling Green for the library system, half of the
money would be paid by the State of Florida through the Secretary of
State's office. If it was held in the name of the library, the library
could then turn around and sublet parts of the building for recreation and
to the city for city offices. So it would be a good buy at a quarter of a
million dollars. Because of the quarter of a million, the state would pay
half of it. We would not have to come up with but half of it. What the
people need to do, is get together and start trying to have a building
fund and fundraisers throughout the year. You would be suprised how
quickly you can raise that kind of money if you really want a library
B: How have fundraisers worked here in the past? Have there been any?
VH: I can speak to that. The Friends of the Library have had several
fundraisers. It is very difficult to get lots of people in the community
to participate and we end up with the same half dozen volunteers trying to
do all the work.
B: How have fundraisers worked here in the past? Have there been any?
VH: I can speak to that. The Friends of the Library have had several fund-
raisers. It is very difficult to get lots of people in the community to
participate and we end up with the same half dozen volunteers trying to do
all the work.
B: But how about other projects where there has been successful volunteers?
SC: I try not to speak about these things, but it seems like you all have been
talking about things I know about. Rod Smith is starting a little theater
group. He told me yesterday that he, very seriously, proposed to the
Friends of the Library that when the little theater group gets rolling it
has a backup work and effort needed for the theater from the Friends that
the profits could be split. He did tell me that yesterday so evidently he
is serious about it. The other suggestion I would have would be to talk
to Doug, if he has sixty of those young girls out for cheer leading, he
could encourage them to be involved in a library project.
W: We touched briefly on the school nurses. I think that you mentioned that
we had one that comes in once a week. I would imagine that school nurses
have certain limitations as to their functions at the school. What would
be ten advantages of having a nurse at the school every day, realizing
that all illnesses do not occur on Thursday. That is ridiculous. What
other advantage would it be?
E: The disadvantage to the children now is that the people who are in the
schools right now cannot do anything for them. We are not trained and we
can do nothing but either call emergency help or call their parents to
come. We cannot do anything really except put a band-aid on and wash it
W: You mean a faculty member or a personnel there, you could not administer
S: Not unless you are trained.
E: We do have someone within the school that is certified in CPR. But as far
as having somebody there, say, who is trained in broken bones.
G: This first aid is just such a small tip of the iceberg of what a school
nurse does. You cannot imagine the problems that Jennifer Wiles
identifies in the little time that she spends down here. She refers a
lot of those problems to the health department and some to us for things
that we can help with. Through children in schools, she identifies
families who are having severe problems and also we can reach families
through the kids in school. Kids can get services through the school
nurse because of the contact that the school board has with Shands.
The other day we had a family in a crisis and we knew that if Martha Banks
made the same call to Shands, that she could not get through as quickly as
Jennifer Wiles could through the school board. So your children can get
services and be evaluated by her, you know, more effectively right now,
than anyone in the community. Also the federal government has cut back, a
lot of the cutbacks have been in programs that serve children. The
elderly have stayed pretty well off, as far as money. But kid's monies
have really been cut back. So that would be one way to still see that
kids get a lot of the services they need. We have kids who principals
have told us are coming to school who have not eaten. The school's lunch
monies are cut back and those are the kinds of things that the school
nurse could identify, work with, and perhaps help with.
C: I would like to move on to Dr. Collante now. Just give us an opinion or
your feelings on professional health services in the City of Alachua.
What kind of things ou see as long-term needs for the future in our city?
RC: I cannot speak lengthily about parents. I am just about two years old,
private practice in Alachua. What has made me stay unique inasmuch as I
elected to be a private practitioner is to bring to Alachua a sort of a
relationship with the university. When I came to this place, I had the
commitment. I had been very academic in a way and always wanted to teach.
Having the background working in the emergency room and I admit people
like residents, and interns in the hospital. I seem to carry the same
commitment, I guess, when I came over to this place. I think, I could
offer quality care and make good referrals. I guess in the future I would
continue this sort of care and the university also offers the student to
come by and serve our community. I guess they have a pretty good
knowledge of working medical care in a community like Alachua. Of course,
Mrs. Diane Green would probably express the same idea about offering my
office to nursing studens, and what community medicine is. She has been
very helpful, it is cooperative education venture.
C: How about other than our regular dealing with aches and pains, what do you
folks in the audience feel our level of health care is? Is it adequate
here in town? Do you want to see some changes? Are there some questions
perhaps Dr. Collante could address for you here tonight?
U: It seems to me that it is impossible for those of us who get this green
card, the Medicaid Card. Unless you go to Gainesville, you cannot use it.
RC: I guess we could blame it on the bureaucracy that we are involved with and
being a private practitioner, one has to survie from the services that we
would offer and in our bureaucratic. . .
B: But how can we handle this evident problem in Alachua? What can we do for
those people? What would you, in the best of all worlds, do in the
future? How could we change the bureaucratic system to better allow you
to survive and for them to be healthy?
RC: That is a big question that somehow we have not really offered an answer
to. There are other clinics that might subscribe to it. In the future I
might go along with it and I am not absolutely unattentive to it. If
there is a need for me to see them, I will see them.
C: You have a quetion?
U: I would like to know, would you say, in dealing with our emergency
services that we were talking about, some said we do have EMT, and so
forth. But I was thinking we live so far from emergency rooms and Alachua
General and Shands, do you think it would benefit the City of Alachua,
maybe in between Gainesville and Alachua if we could open up an emergency
care center, like they have over at Gainesville? It would be like the
Emergency Care. You go, and you pay cash. No Medicare or things like
that. There are some people that are not able to make it all the way to
Alachua General. So you understand what I am talking about?
U: Then emergency services are helpful. It would cut down some on so many
people being in the emergency room. You go over and you say, I know you
stay five to six hours just to get some stitches put in your hand. And if
we have some kind of emergency care here, then that would keept some of
the people from going all the way over to the emergency room. Do you
think Alachua would benefit from this or do you think it should stay like
RC: It will benefit. As a matter of fact, I am thinking on the line it is not
involvement. There may be some form of arrangement of extending the time
and they could use my office. So there would be about two shifts rather
than one shift. That has been thought about. I have heard from people
outside of the country deal with the kind of people somehow being
responsible for the emergency care in Alachua General. Now they are gone,
I have heard. I do not know if this is true. They are contemplating on
trying to organize segments, outpatient emergency room, day care, whatever,
in every town. This is a private sector who would like to see the profits
behind these activities and it might be a good thing to add to the health
care of the community.
B: Dr. Collante, in your two years here how would you characterize the health
of this community? What are the major kinds of problems you see in your
office? And perhaps you can comment on how this might be similar or
different than other places that you have worked. What do you see in
terms of health care for Alachua in that regard?
RC: Well, I do not see any different cases that we handle from the different
cities. I think the difference as far as I am concerned is the
continuitive care. See, I started as an emergency medicine doctor. I see
a patient, after I see them I do not care about the thing. It is a
different ball game in this town. I see a patient now and they become my
friend. There are a lot of enjoyable things. Like if I start to help a
kid, different cases that I see, I do not see any difference. It is a
very uniform sort of place.
B: Do you find the community or, I should say, families, individual families,
are helping out with long-term care or is there a problem with the elderly
people who get ill? Do they have problems turning to their families? Do
they have to go to institutions?
RC: I have not really gotten an accurate gauge on this matter.
B: Do you see a need for a nursing home in Alachua?
RC: I do not think so. We are better here. We are more like a family-
oriented community. I see a lot of people who take care of the old folks.
I was trained in a big city and there is a big difference.
C: The next panelist is Steve Everett, teacher, outdoorsman, a strong
recreation person. Doug Murdock talked about organized sports and
recreation in the City of Alachua. Steve Everett is going to talk about
a different aspect of recreation that is outdoors, unstructured
SE: Thank you. I probably ought to admit first that I am not a resident of
the City of Alachua. I have been a ten-year resident of Alachua County. I
have, however, been out here on your doorsteps every weekend for about
ten years and I am fifth-generation native Floridian so I have a very
strong desire to remain in Florida and get my recreation out of Florida,
wilderness, or woods. I am a teacher, as he said, in Alachua County.
Hence, I have a great deal to do with children and their recreational
activities, and over the years of teaching outdoor education as well as
classroom education. I have become an ardent believer in getting kids
outdoors. I am at the University currently pursuing a doctorate. Trying
to, if I can, prove to people that it is mentally as well as physically
healthy to be outdoors. I have an awful lot of disagreements with my
current students because their love is to go down to the game parlor and
put a quarter in the machine, and if they cannot find a machine that is
new to them, they are bored stiff. I am always after them to get outside
and look for things to do. Boredom does not have to be. And they do not
have to be television addicts. They do not have to be these little game
machine addicts and there are things to do that cost nothing outdoors.
And when Sudye first asked me to do this, I did not have any idea what to
do so I wrote down the fifteen things I most commonly do out here in this
neighborhood with kids. And I will just go through my list rather quickly
and if you have any questions I will be glad to talk with you about them.
Camping is obvious as an outdoor sport. Camping is as American as you can
get, I guess, and a lot of folks do that. I have kids out here camping
about every two weeks.
B: Where do you camp around here?
SE: Well, I camp either in the woods or any place I can find where landowners
will let me go there. Or I go to regular recreational areas like O'Leno
State Park or other parks within Alachua County. While camping, hiking is
always enjoyable. It is physically healthy as well as mentally healthy. I
wrote a paper a year ago for one of my professors to indicate that I
thought simply being in contact with the outdoors and getting out with the
trees and nature and away from asphalt, concrete, and other man-made
structures, was mentally healthy and, in turn, physically healthy. So I
think hiking is probably one of the best things you could possibly do.
Take off and stroll across a pasture or stroll through the nearby woods.
Walk along a creek bank. I grew up doing it. My grandmother has been
doing it her whole life. She is still doing it. It is her love in life
to sit on the creek bank and drop a fishing line. I do not think there
are much better.
If you happen to be into boating, I do a tremendous amount of canoeing on
the Santa Fe and other streams around here. I love to fish, not just to
eat, but if you are into aquariums or your kids are into aquariums, there
are a tremendous amount of local species that are as pretty or prettier
than aquarium shop fish for a dollar and a quarter each. You can go out
and net these things in the rivers. Go out and catch them in little jars.
Kids do this all the time. I do scuba diving and snorkel diving and many
of the people enjoy that. You have plenty of springs, clear sinkholes,
with water in the bottom. You would be amazed at the number of children
that I come into contact with who have never in their life gone off of a
rope swing into a river. I think that borders on sin. How could a kid
grow up without ever going off a rope swing in a river? But you would be
amazed at the number of children who have never done that. The
opportunity is everywhere.
I go caving a great deal. I take children caving. Alachua County has, I
read once, about ten thousand caverns in it. I take children a great
many days underground. Forty feet under is a whole new world for them.
It is not particularly dangerous. It is quite enjoyable for them. It is
something they have never ever done before. It is a whole new recreation
opened up to them that they have never dreamt was there.
I have, within the last five years, started teaching rappelling.
Something you normally would associate with mountaineering or mountain
sports. For those of you not acquainted with it, it is a ridiculous form
of throwing yourself off a cliff. You have all sorts of rope gear and
strapping so that you tie rope to the top of a cliff side and you jump down
the cliff. Firefighters are trained to do it for entering and escaping
buildings. I teach it to kids as a self-confidence builder.
B: Now, Steve, a couple of weeks ago we heard about the beaches of Alachua
and now we are hearing about the cliffs of Alachua.
SE: Due to a lot of mining in the area back in the 1940s, there is a lot of
abandoned limerock quarries around that have walls in them as high as
fifty and sixty feet. These provide a ready source of walls to do
rappelling on and I use it for a self-confidence builder in children that
I think have a very low degree of self-confidence. It works wonders.
Many of them, Sudye's husband, not one of my kids, became intrigued with
the idea, as have several of my students. And they have gone to purchase
rappelling equipment themselves. I do a tremendous amount of wildlife and
nature photography. The availability of areas here to photograph is just
unlimited. I think I have a photograph of every nook and cranny of
northeast Alachua County and there are some of the most beautiful spots
you would ever want to find right out here to take pictures of.
I am into herpetology, and have been since I was a small kid. Herpetology
is reptiles. Those of you who are not adverse to snakes, there is a lot
of reptile hunting out here. Pick up snakes and reptiles and take them
home and observe them for awhile. Many kids get into frogs, lizards, and
snakes. There is a bunch of them out here to go pick up. For kids who
are not into picking up the animals, I have taken lots of groups tracking,
teaching them how to track wildlife. You bring them our here with a
little bag of plaster of paris and fix little cardboard rings. And we go
out and make plaster track imprints. I have kids whose bedroom shelves
are loaded with tracks of all the wildlife from out here. It costs next
to nothing and it gives a kid a good sense of the woods to know how to
track an animal, how to trace what they were doing, wander around behind
them, figure out where they ate, where they live. It beats a game
I am personally into antique bottle collecting. There are a tremendous
number of areas in northwest Alachua County, old homesteads, or old dumps
where I have found bottles dating back to the early 1800s. Antique
bottles are the thing I enjoy most, prowling around the woods trying to
dig up. I hunt for wood. And I have kids who hunt for wood. Now this
may sound ridiculous. My grandmother cannot understand it. I hunt for
wood because up and down the river there are pieces of driftwood, old
cypress and cedar trees that have fallen over. And some of the
pieces of wood are exquisite. They make excellent wall hangings. I have
students who were in art schools, who use them to carve on and turn out
wood carvings. One of the families that I know here locally takes the
wood from me when I find it or I will give it to them and they turn it
into flower arrangements or they make planters out of it. There are a
host of things you can do with just a piece of stump you find out there in
the woods while walking along.
I take kids orienteering, which is a rapidly-growing sport in this
country. You set up a course on a map and give them a compass and their
map coordinates. By using the compass, they practice direction finding,
and, of course, they have to go against the time clock and see who can run
their course through the woods the quickest. They learn skills in map
reading. They learn skills in mathematics. They learn skills in direction
finding. Two of my personal loves.
I am into paleontology tremendously and have brought, in the last year and
a half, probably fifty students. I even brought my entire class out here.
We packed up an Alachua County school bus and drove them out here to
Alachua to dig in a fossil site. I had permisson of the landowner for
this particular site and we had been working it for a year and a half. We
came up with over sixty animals dating back as far as about 18 million
years ago. We have put a large display in the Florida State Museum. It
is down there any time anyone wanted to go look and see what you have in
C: Will you tell us where that is?
SE: It is north of here. Most of the fossils that I find are in stream beds
or sinks. And most of them are indeed just north of here in Bland or
a rise as you go about five miles north of here, where it crosses the
Santa Fe. This was an old Pleistocene animal bridge, where they crossed
the river 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, back to ten million years ago. Many
of the animals, of course, died along the way or took up residence around
some of the old ponds, prehistoric lakes, and died there and their remains
are there to be found. We have over sixty things. We have a giant sloth
we unearthed in this place, portions of him, and this sloth are the
largest one in North America to have ever been unearthed so far. He
stands about twenty-three feet tall if we had the whole thing. This came
out of a ditchbank up here, just north of Alachua.
We have horses that date back to 18 million years or so, the little three-
toed horses that are about the size of a small Collie. They were on your
properties. They were all around here. It is just a matter of walking
along those rocks you have been kicking with your shoe. There are folks
at the Florida State Museum on campus who would be tickled to death to
identify them for you and tell you what they are. Many of the kids from
Alachua are ex-students of mine. They are quite into this.
And the last thing that I do out here to occupy my idle hours, and bring
students for, is archaeology. You have one of the richest Indian
heritage areas around. I recently was talking to Sudye and I get a
chuckle out of this. You have a new Sonny's Barbecue going up here.
Those of you who are gonna patronize Sonny's while you are sitting there
eating your barbecue I hope you will appreciate the fact that, for about
6,000 years, Indians have been sitting in that very same spot eating
their barbeque. They put Sonny's on top of one of the richest Indian
sites in Alachua. It is now going to be buried under asphalt. But I have
pulled points and pottery out of there which date back to 6,000 B.C. So
when you eat your barbeque think about the poor Indians who sat there and
chewed on their barbeque in the same place.
U: There was not anything that could have been done about Sonny's going up
SE: That site was not, I do not think archaeological ly significant enough to
warrant cancelling a project. Dr. Purdy, who is an archaeologist at the
University of Florida, and I stay in contact about things that I find so
that I do not stumble into or disturb an important site. And that area
was not of particular concern to her. It was to me because it was the
richest source of artifacts. When the rain comes along, they wash out in
little gullies and you can go along and pick up spear points all along the
way. And it is now under asphalt. But that is not the only spot. This
whole northern end of the county has been populated since about 9,000 B.C.
and you can find remnants of that population in the streams, springs,
sinkholes, around the lakebeds, almost everywhere. There are pieces of
chert, or flint that have been worked on by the Indians. Pieces of
pottery, again, it is unlimited. I spend days out there. I have students
who are avid. They just wait until the next time I will bring them out
here so they can look for things. These are things that I do in your area
and have done for the last ten years. And I am sure all of you in the
audience could add multitudes of things to this list that you have found
to do as natural recreation outdoors. From a personal standpoint, I urge
you to continue doing it and try to pass these ideas along to the kids. I
think it is important to them mentally and physically to stay outdoors.
W: I have a question concerning caves 10,000 years old.
SE: I may be incorrect. I remember reading that figure.
W: Where are these caves located and how can you find out how to get to them?
SE: There is an organization on the university campus which is open to the
general public, called Florida Speleological Society and it is their
function to teach safe caving skills. Otherwise I have bumped into so and
so, who knows so and so, whose uncle owns pasture that has a hole in it or
whose granddaddy has forty acres with a sinkhole in it and I get
permission from folks. I go out there, using safe caving skills. We
explore these things. Between Alachua and Newberry there are several. I
was just on one last Saturday that a friend of mine who is a rancher has.
He had to fence it off because his cows kept falling down. I took a half
dozen kids through there. It is a new experience for them and they fall
in love with it.
W: For an inexperienced person like myself that might find that to be of
interest, would you advise any cave training or anything like that before
one might try?
SE: There are booklets on it available here. And again, I would advise
sitting in a Florida Speleological meeting and discussing it with them.
There are caves to which I have taken hundreds, literally hundred of kids.
Just between here and Newberry. The cave has no drops in it. It has no
drop offs. It is not so extensive that you could become lost in it. A
novice could walk in there and enjoy their few hours in there and come
back out without any fear of ill coming to them. There are several like
B: Let's hear from some oldtimers in the audience and some other people about
what sort of outdoor things like that you have done.
SC: I identify wild flowers.
B: Identify wildf lowers. Somebody else? Dr. Collante watches the birds.
VH: Watching tracks on the road when you walk on it.
B: Watching tracks on the road when you walk. You mean, animal tracks?
VH: Yes. People tracks too.
B: Just while you are walking around?
U: There is an abundance of butterflies in the area.
B: Butterflies? And cemeteries are something else. I know in my hometown and
in my wife's hometown, we have gone and made rubbings of the old grave
markers and the designs and you can tell a lot about the community from
the old graveyards. That is yet another thing you could add to the list.
D: (Ms. DeCoursey is Rebecca Wallace's sister) Talking about those caves. I
grew up where there was one between here and Newberry and the men call it
the Warren Cave. She went, but I did not go because they had to have a
light. It was dark and I was always scared of the dark, and signs down in
that old cave and it is just between here and Newberry at a place used to
be a mark in the road they call it Tomoka, Old Tomoka. It is on a farm
just outside of the Newberry.
SE: Warren's Cave is still there. But Warren's Cave is not one for a novice.
That one is a rather dangerous cave.
D: Well, my brother went down in there and after they got so far they said
they could walk.
SE: Right, you can walk.
D: But they had a light. I was not very much good at strolling in the dark.
I was always scared of something biting me.
SE: The one I have been ging to most frequently with students because it is so
safe is a cave called Bat Cave locally out on the old Corinth Baptist
Church Road down there and that is a very nice thing for kids to go in and
out of. I say nice, they come out muddy, but it is safe for them.
Warren's Cave, on the other hand, is just an unsafe cave. You risk an
injury unless you know what you are doing.
D: Why it's called Warren Cave is, it was on my sister-in-law's daddy's place
and his name was Warren and they named it the Old Warren Cave. And that
is how we got interested in it, through my sister-in-law and my brother.
And my sister-in-law and cousins they went, but I did not go. You had to
stoop down and crawl part way in there and stand up. I did not like
SE: Not to mention the bats.
B: In other meetings we have had here, one theme that has come up has been
that as Alachua's changing, one thing we see is people not being as
friendly to their neighbors, not knowing their neighbors. Do you see a
problem in this sort of community recreation in the future in Alachua?
Is it going to become harder to get in that land if IBM owns it? Going to
be harder to get in on caves? Are you finding that to be a problem?
SE: I personally have never had anyone, as a property owner, refuse me
permission to go into their land or take a student into their land simply
to observe. As long as you assure them you are not gonna damage it. I
have, however, had numerous corporations turn me down. Because they are
fearful of liability, one thing or another, and they just have a blanket
rule, "No." Folks out here are incredibly friendly. And I say, I have
never, ever run into anyone who was just not willing to listen to what
you had to say and willing to help you out any way they wanted in terms of
letting you walk through their land, do whatever. If land ownership
changes, yes, you may run into a problem. But there is still enough
public lands around here that everything I have mentioned can be done on
public land. Even at O'Leno State Park there is a small cavern. Two
caverns, in fact, which few people know about. But they are there.
There is enough state-owned land that kids and adults could still get out
if they were seeking an afternoon in the woods.
B: Is there any program in the town, or recreation department, or anywhere
where expeditions like this are mounted? Or are they all from the
university out to here? It would seem that there are a lot of young
people in the town here who might enjoy getting muddy in Bat Cave and
Warren's Cave. Would that be a need in this town, for some sort of semi-
organized event like this? Or do you think it is taken care of with
Scouts and with family and so forth?
SC: I think Steve Everett would have a hard time answering that need for the
City of Alachua. I mean, he comes with his jeep full of kids hanging out
SE: Oh, I have kids from out here all the time. Believe me, from here to Ft.
White and back. I spent a year at Santa Fe High School teaching, and in
doing that, I got to know a tremendous number of kids. Once you get
involved, you never get uninvolved. So it has been back out here. I got
to know Sudye through her son whom I met through the school whom I met on
a caving trip. I do not want to make a negative comment about Boy Scouts,
but they seem to meet a very limited number of children, and a lot of
times I do not want to get into that. That is a personal bias, but a lot
of times it is not the children that really need to get out and do things.
Getting out and doing these things has nothing to do with organization.
It has nothing to do with anything at all. It is just a matter of
somebody wanting to walk out there in the woods and find something to do
besides wasting five dollars in a game machine or sitting in front of a
MH: A long time ago, there were no fences from the Santa Fe River back. You
could go ride a horse, you could take shortcuts if you knew them and come
to town or whatever. But now, with the fences, you have to stay on the
C: Thank you very much, Steve. I think our recreation director ought to talk
to you. That is a real avenue he might want to pursue in the future. Our
next person is a special guest: Miss Rebecca Wallace, who is an Alachua
native, has been a midwife for fifty years. By the way, her grandson Bill
and she set up a display out in the foyer that you all might want to take
a look at. It is very interesting. It has quite a number of items that
she used as a midwife and it is a whole new experience for me just to be
made aware of that phenomenon. Miss Wallace, would you like to give us
your comments and some of the things that you have experienced over the
past fifty-one years?
RW: Yes, I would but I am a poor talker. But, I am going to do the best I
can. In learning the trade that I have I did not go to college for it.
It was just handed down to me. I have been successful with my doing and
with my people. I have had friends, just made wonderful friends, white
and colored. The white and the colored are so nice to me. That is one of
my instructors right there by you.
C: What kind of things have happened to you in the course of your long career
that you feel are significant or interesting?
RW: Well, I tell you, most anything I do.
C: What area did you function in? How far did you go out of the City of
Alachua to be a midwife?
RW: I started in Jacksonville and went as far as Tampa.
SE: So most of the people came to your house?
SE: And how long would they stay when they came?
RW: Well according to the condition that they had they can go back in a
couple of days if the doctor gave me an okay to let them go.
B: So you worked with a doctor as well?
RW: Yes. Dr. Goode and Dr. Weeks. In High Springs and in Gainesville at the
H: How many babies did you deliver over the years?
RW: Oh, boy. I could not tell you, but they got a record of part, but not all
U: And what was that 1,500 of them?
W: I would like to inject a few things that grandmother probably had not
thought of. After I get to talking, she will remember.
RW: That is right.
W: I made a comment this afternoon that grandmother had been carrying that
bag, not the same one out there. But I have seen black ones and blue ones
worn out. But in my thirty-eight years, last week was the first time I
have looked in that bag. And I made a comment at the house the other
night. I said, "Mama, you know I find everything in here but a pair of
pliers." According to a recent press release, Ms. Wallace has been in the
midwife business for fifty-one years of her eighty-seven years. Now she
made the comment that she did not attend college for this profession and
that it was handed down.
RW: That is right.
W: Now, when she meant handed down, she was referring to my great
grandmother. She was a midwife for fifty-seven years. Her name was Ms.
Palalce Wright. A lot of people have heard of her as Aunt Palalce. As far
as the area that she has covered, I have knowledge of her going as far as
Baldwin. I have documents on the table from the Lake City, Columbia County
area. It was not always customary for the babies to be born at our house.
Usually it was not a common occurrence. She traveled a lot. Of course,
she got to traveling so frequently when I was growing up that we had to
have a chalkboard on the front porch so we could write down the last place
she left to go for. And sometimes we would go there and there was another
gentleman coming back to pick her up from Lacrosse to somebody in Newberry
waiting. Then she would come in and work and just deliver babies. But
the people that we had at home, these were people that some of them had
People had to travel to make a living. Many times, the migrant people,
they could not take their wives on the road. We have kept people in our
home over a year. I mean, they just become family and the families that
left them, sometimes I think they forgot them. But we have always had
nice people in the home. Babies were born there and babies grew up there
right in the house. And finally, they make a living and drift off.
Now it was made mention about the doctors working with her. Now, a
doctor was not with her on every case. Only if it was a problem case, and
we will find documents on the table that you might refer to. It says, "My
maternity record," referring to the patient. This was her approval for
home delivery. Like we heard mentioned once about the green card, well
this is a white card. And if you had the white card, there was no
problem. But if you did not have that white card, unless, in case of an
emergency, you had to get the white card. But sometimes some of them came
to the front door and you did not have time to put the gown on. I did
question her about that and I meant that just comically. But we talked
about it after I found that she was coming here. I said, sometime you
might go into a home and there is an emergency going on. I consider this
thing an emergency. She said, "Well, you always had to put it on,
regardless of what was going on." I said, "You mean you never delivered a
baby without putting that gown on? Never?" She said, "I always took my
time to do what I had to do. I could look at, I could touch, I could
observe and I could tell if I had the time." And I would imagine that
many of the mothers felt that they did not have the time, you know. But,
all of the birthing was natural birth and everything was going to happen
in a hurry. But she would take her time and put this gown on and put her
little mask on and different things.
I remember growing up, various nurses, trained nurses, licensed nurses,
would come to the house and they would have midwife meetings in our home.
All day, going through different procedures. Of course, at that time it
did not interest me and through the years midwifing has not been one of my
favorite topics. I mean, it was just common to me. As I grew up with the
administrative part of it, as you notice on the table, when a baby was
born, you had to take down medical history. Not so much medical history
but birthing history. Father's name, mother's name, birthdate, weight,
whether silver nitrate was used in the baby's eyes, how many children you
had living, how many you had dead, and people had to fill those forms out.
That was my job. And the older I got, the slacker I got on it and pretty
soon, she hired another lady to do it. May James did it for a long, long
time. But then I was getting into other things then and I did not have
time for the birthing business. But I look back at the rewards, just for
the love of the profession, is the reward that she had because, out of all
those babies, she should be living in the house on the hill.
RW: That is true.
W: But many times, we got, I do not know how the negotiations were brought
about, but it was not unusual for me to find a bucket of peas or maybe a
hog's head on the table. Somebody came around and they would pay and I
would give a receipt. I was pretty good at giving receipts out, two
dollars towards a baby. I know one man in particular in Alachua that paid
off a child a dollar and fifty cents a shot, you know, per receipt.
B: He paid for it. I would not mention that gentleman's name. He paid for
this young lady. She is a young lady now. I still know her. But her
father paid the bill by just a little bit each week. And sometime if you
would go out, you would get ten dollars. That will be all.
W: You do not get anything else. You get a lot of love. I guess you call it
love. Or if you owe somebody, you act like you love them anyway, but I
think that has been very good to her and it has been good for the family.
At one point we thought we had a young man in the family that was going to
follow in her footsteps a little bit. My cousin, he is an officer in the
service now. He is a hospital administrator. He was going to be a
gynecologist. So he was going to follow in his grandmother's footsteps.
Somewhere along the line, he decided to go into hospital administration.
So we have had a long history of people helping people medically in our
family. But my aunt here, Aunt Letha, this is my grandmother's sister.
She has a history of helping people medically. In fact, she did not help
so much with the babies. She helped with the older people right here in
the city. Dr. Collante mentioned that we find, in Alachua, that people
take care of their own.
W: We do not have a nursing home. There might be a need for one. If we had
one here, I am satisfied someone would be in it. But that was her job.
She would move into the families and take care of people for years on end.
And I remember, at one point, Grandmother worked for Mr. and Mrs. I. W.
Fisher in the little gingerbread house. I do not know how in the world
she made arrangements to leave the job whenever there was a baby due.
She [Aunt Letha] would say, "Good morning," grandmother would say "Good
morning," to the Fishers and she would say "Good day." One was coming and
one was going. So I feel if you have some questions about what has been
happening as far as the midwifing and just helping people in general.
Saturday, I believe it was. That is because she [Aunt Letha] had so much
to contribute and we were talking last week about family life and this is
her family life. If I am correct she is the mother of twelve, fourteen
living children. She knows a little bit about the family life. I am
going to give her an opportunity to speak and if you might vary from our
topic a little bit, fear not, she knows what she is talking about. And if
we go into a biblical sense, she is a walking saint. I would not call her
Saint John. Her husband's name was Reverend John. She is a walking Holy
Bible. She's a very good help to me. So this is my Aunt Letha. We can
listen to her a little bit.
D: I appreciate this opportunity. I was born here between Alachua and High
Springs in 1899. There was a little station up there they call Gracie.
Old Peggy used to stop there. There was a grits mill there. I was a big
kid before I ever came to this town. All I knew was the grocery store out
there and the grits mill. That was my town until my mother moved up here
and then I got acquainted with Alachua.
I lived out of Alachua fifteen years of my life and I made it back. I had
fourteen children of my own. I have been married one time. And the last
of the fourteen children were raised and schooled right here in Alachua.
I have a son, the only one living, he is a state trooper. He graduated up
at Mebane and I have another one, Joe, he lives at Pompano Beach. He is a
minister, he graduated there. Then I had , Horace, Clifford, Nery,
and Josita, she graduated at Santa Fe. And also James, he graduated up
I had raised fourteen children of my own and five grandchildren that were
born in my house. They have grown up, and now they have big families.
Each one of them. Some of another, but they all work. We worked
outdoors. My husband was a farmer/preacher. We raised everything, hogs,
cows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and guineas. My family was raised, we ate
at home. My husband had a garden twelve months a year and he planted
something each month of the year. It was always something coming up to go
on the table. A lot of people ask me, "How did you manage to feed all
these children?" When there were fifteen heads sitting at the table three
times a day, I have cooked twelve cakes of cornbread on the top of the
stove, and I did not even get a piece! [Laughter] I had to feed all of
them and make sure they had eaten. By the time I ate, well, there might
be a little crumb there left for me and I put it in my mouth and go on
down the road. I trained all of my children and five grandchildren. I
trained them to work. I tried to instill honesty in them, to be honest.
It pays off. And I have seven sons and seven daughters. And nobody on the
So I think that is what he said. [S. Everett, panelist] It rang a bell
with me. Raising a kid outdoors, it gives them plenty of recreation and
me, myself, I always have been outdoors. Cutting wood, splitting wood,
hoeing cotton, anything outside. I am inside more now than I have ever
been in my life. And why? On account of my health. Sue Moore? I was her
next door neighbor for nine years, eight months, and three weeks.
[Laughter] I have had to call her in distress and she proved to be a
friend and a neighbor. I have had to call on her. I stayed in one house
those nine years with one family. Mr. Bush, David Bush's daddy, I stayed
with him until he passed. Mr. Harry Dampier's brother, Mr. Raleigh? He
died with his hand in mine. Mr. Fisher, well, he did not pass while I was
there because she came in to take over. I spent the night when she came in,
then I could go home and be relieved. I went home, and Mr. Fisher passed.
SE: I enjoy listening to my grandmother who is now ninety-one and she was
talking about growing up here in Florida. As I said, I am fifth-
generation woods cracker here, and she used to talk about it taking two
days or so to get to Sarasota, riding on an ox cart. And you all have
been talking about traveling all the way to Jacksonville and Tampa. I was
gonna ask how in the world did you all travel?
D: I traveled by horse and wagon. When we were kids, my mother, they used to
carry her around in the ox cart. I was scared of the ox cart because it
did not have but two wheels on it. I did not know whether you should be on
this side or that side. My husband had a one-horse wagon. We went to
church every Sunday and we rode all the children in the back. I put
blankets and quilts on them in the wintertime and pulled the wagon. I
would always sit by a window, where I could watch the wagon.
SE: I was just a little curious, because we have had a demonstration out here
tonight, how medical care is delivered now. I was wondering how in the
world you all delivered if it took to days at a time to get there.
[ Laughter ]
B: There were some other questions out here. Aunt Letha, what did you do for
D: All these herbs down here. You know what? I was twenty years old before
a doctor put his hand on me. I was married and had three children, never
had been to a doctor in my life.
Well, now how did you learn about those herbs?
Through your mother?
My mother was strictly a herb doctor.
Has anyone else in your family learned from you?
No, they have not. We did not have any doctor for a fever. Just go out
there and get you some fevergrass. I never had no rash and itch. I would
just go out there and brake off the top of an elderberry bush and boil it
and bathe in it. It would cure anything except cancer. Every patient I
have worked, been with, never had a bedsore. Ms. Pendley, took her to a
hospital a little over a month and she lost so much weight, she got a
bedsore. They brought her home, Oh! my lord. I asked her daugher, I
said, "Well, I do not know how you all think about it," I said, "but I
just never can stand something. Would you have any objection to me curing
it?" She said, "Do you know how?" I said, "Yes, I cannot cure it but I
know something that can." She said, "Well, anything you can do for Mama."
Well, out there by the wash house, I went out there and got some elder
bush and boiled it, let it get cold where they can keep it on that place.
Three days later Ms. Mary Dell from High Springs, she came over there and
she said, "Letha, what have you done to Mama?" I said, "I have been
putting some tea on her. I did not have nothing else." She said, "Well,
I have never seen anything heal this fast in my life."
W: I have a question.
B: Mayor Holland?
EH: I just wanted to make an observation. I looked forward to seeing
Rebecca, meeting her and hearing about her. I thought she was a much
bigger woman from what everyone described her, but now I realize she is
just worn to a nub. That is why she is so little.
D: She was a nub to start with. The smallest one of my mother's children.
My mother had six and she is the smallest one.
W: I know we have to go on to Ms. Green so this will probaby be my final
question. Her name, DeCoursey, is a French name and she knows the origin
of it and I would like for her to tell you how she got that name.
D: The man I married came from Georgia. His mother and father were slaves.
His mother lived way over a hundred years. And this particular person,
they say, came from across the water somewhere. I do not know. But,
anyway, he wandered over here. And my father-in-law, overseer, or master,
hid this man. He had a record of being a good hog-raiser. He raised hogs
for the Spanish. And they hid him. He was a foreigner, but he camped
down there among the colored people, among blacks. I guess that my
father-in-law came in on that train. That is where he got his name. His
mother was named Mary. I guess Mary, she was one among them. She camped
down there and he came in that way. When he was born, his father took
off. The hog raiser. Old Man Major DeCoursey, and moved to Tallahassee.
Married some DeCoursey in Tallahassee, and he left Tallahassee and nobody
knows which way he went from there. But I have been told that DeCoursey
came from French. This was an old Frenchman that had come across the
waters. You know, that is the way old folks describe things.
B: Thank you Ms. DeCoursey. We have to move on to Dr. Green at this point.
G: I could listen to you all evening. I am so glad to meet these two ladies
because we talk so much about some of the issues that they talked about.
How herbs are used, how we can use some of the kinds of things in modern
health care. Believe me, I am going to give you lots of calls. What
kind of time do we have?
B: Five or ten minutes.
G: One of the things that I realized in coming to these community meetings is
that within the boundaries of Alachua there really are two communities.
There are the very, very poor and those are the people that my students and
I largely work with. They have loads of health problems, and many, many
children. They have lots of social problems and then, there is a
community that I really did not know existed until these meetings and that
is many of you here. And now I feel like I have a better understanding of
both communities. Hopefully, my students and I can kind of work between
the two a little bit better. And certainly the things that happen in the
community that you represent will help all of Alachua.
The two groups in whom I really see needs are young families and elderly
people. I mentioned, when you were talking about school nursing and I
know I already took some of my time there, the young poor families here
have tremendous problems in getting services in Gainesville. Margaret
Sunlen is sitting back there in the second row and she was the public
health nurse here for many, many years. When services did exist, well
baby clinic, prenatal clinic, and post-partum clinic. Margaret, what else?
Family planning. All those things are now in Gainesville. And there is a
nursing clinic in Alachua just one day a week. Martha Banks is now the
public health nurse that runs that just on Thuursdays. So these people
who have no money and no transportation do not have to go to Gainesville.
Preventive care, I think, is the biggest lack in this community, and that
is why I mention school nursing as perhaps being one way to get into
that. In my own child's school in Gainesville, there was a part-time
school nurse. And the parents, the P.T.A. saw that as such a great need
that they were able to raise enough money to hire a full-time school
nurse. Now they did this in a way that you could not do here and that is
providing football parking for the Gator Games on Saturday afternoons.
The parents parked cars in the school parking lot and raised something
like $12,000 a year, I believe, one year and I do not know the figure,
but it was an astronomical figure. It is possible. They are able to
afford a full-time school nurse. Other problems that young families have.
There is a great need that we see for parenting classes. A lot of these
young women become pregnant before they finish high school. They have not
had a very good example in their homes, own homes, of parenting and so we
see a lot of child abuse, a lot of child neglect. We talked about that
last week in the meeting on families.
There was talk last week of parents volunteering to become parent aides
in the community. That has never existed and that will be, I think, a
great help to these young families. I would love to see someone from the
black community volunteer to do that and we can certainly help them.
People get in touch with that. There is talk of starting a Parent -to-
Parent Group here which would be a way for families to share the problems
they are having.
What are some of the other things we see? Getting to Gainesville, there
is a mini-bus system that exists, but apparently the county commission
talked about increasing their rates for that. Already that mini-bus
system is a tremendous problem. They leave early in the morning. The
families who go, take their young children. They have to wait many, many
hours and sit for other people to be served before they can come back. If
there is a sick child or a sick eldery person it presents great, great
difficulties. I think expanding that service is a need. Advertising the
Greyhound Bus, even that stops here three times a day. Many people do not
know that that is available. And that costs, I think, $2.00 one way.
For elderly people, I got the sense from what people said here, that there
is not a need for a nursing home in this community. There are many
families who do a good job of taking care of their own, but there are many
people here who do not have families. Or whose families are not capable
of doing that. We see a lot of older people taking care of each other.
They have no relationship to one another. All of them have very poor
memories. A lot of these people are on medication that could be dangerous
if it is not taken correctly and they take care of each other in these
small shacks that perhaps a fireplace is the only way of heating, of
We had one home last winter that was destroyed by fire. A woman in her
eighties, living alone. I do not know how she survived, but somehow she
did. There are many people we could identify who need some kind of
congregate living. Maybe not a nursing home with skilled care actually,
but a place to live where there is someone who can supply medicine,
someone who can help them with memory.
Dr. Burns started out this meeting by talking about socialization as being
an important part of health care. We are working with several elderly
people who are severely depressed, who could contribute to this community
if there was some way provided for them to. One of the women we got
interested in a church group. She is doing a little bit through the
church. She comes to the Older Americans' Council and has a few ways to
socialize there. One of the problems with the Older Americans Council's
congregate meal site right now is that it meets in a black church and many
of the white families that we work with do not want to go there because it
meets in a black church. And the population is largely black who attend.
They get tremendous benefits, very nutritious meals, that for many people
is the only one they have. They get help with social needs, with getting
Medicare, with food stamps, and a lot of socialization. We have got four
of five white people who do come very regularly and a few have brought a
friend and hopefully that will happen more.
At High Springs, the congregate meal site is also in a black church, but
there it seems quite integrated. It is almost half and half, but both
races are certainly represented. In the three years I have been here, I
cannot identify why that has not happened in Alachua, That could meet a
lot of the needs. With that meal site, that congregate meal site at St.
Matthew's Church could be the beginning of kind of an adult day care for a
lot of these eldery people who perhaps have someone home after work hours,
but they have no one there during the day. It does not meet that purpose
for many people.
Health education we have seen a great lack in this community and
hopefully this will be approached much more aggressively than they are now
able to do. Because a lot of the young people here do drop out of school
early and the skills that they get, they develop as parents. Their own
health skills could be developed more, I think, than is currently being
done. We have offered Red Cross home nursing classes, babysitting
classes, vital signs courses, teaching people how to take blood pressure
for their families, and we have not had much interest. It has been
offered formally at Santa Fe High School, and we usually had to cancel
those classes because there is not enough interest. We thought maybe one of
the problems in Alachua is that Santa Fe is far enough away that a lot of
the people cannot get there. So we knew the strength of the churches in
this community and we called every single church, even the small ones that
are not listed in the phone book. We somehow tried to get in touch with
those ministers and we did not have much, if any, response. Hopefully,
these community meetings could again help groups to organize some of
these kinds of health education programs. And home nursing could prepare
people like you to take care of their own sick neighbors and hopefully
without having to hire people from Gainesville to come do that. I am
rambling too fast.
And then my other main point was volunteerism. President Reagan has told
us over the past few years on TV, in the newspaper, that the way that they
were going to meet the gap in health care that the government can no
longer afford is through volunteerism. In these meetings we have heard a
lot about volunteerism. I feel like there is a need to organize it better
and again, perhaps through the churches, since that is the major social
groups. In Gainesville, the ministerial association has some money
donated to them and that is some of that need. And I do not know to what
extent Alachua's connected with that. Any reactions to that statement?
B: You mentioned that the ministerial alliance in Gainesville plays an active
role in the community?
G: Well, Martha Banks could probably speak to that better than I can.
MB: The community ministry care provides funds for emergency through emergency
medicine and transport. Their resources are very limited and they try to
give it in situations where it can be repaid over a period of time because
they do not have a broad base of support. But I have been able to get
help for clients from them. Another limitation is that they are only open
part-time. They have one part-time manager who is a nurse, who does the
screening, but they are open a limited number of hours. They are located
behind the First Baptist Church [in Gainesville]?
W: Are you affiliated?
W: I would like to get some more information on that because if we had a
family here in Alachua, which no doubt we do then perhaps many of us have
found ourselves in situations where we just could not help ourselves and
had to turn to somebody, some agency, some social agency. I think it
would be wise if the churches could come together and set aside a fund
where a person meeting a certain criteria could draw from these funds with
the understanding that this is not a fat cat gift. This is to help you
now and you pay us back as you can. So we can have money to help somebody
else. I think that is worth looking into further. I am gonna try to
contact this office in Gainesville and see what we can do here in the
B: Mr. Watson, another group about the same size, you might check with is the
ministerial association in Live Oak. They have, as I understand it, what
is called a Common Pantry that they stock for other sorts of emergencies
U: There is a ministerial group in High Springs that he could contact.
Reverend Halover there, at the food site. I am interested in pursuing
this because, I have only been here less than a year, but in the limited
number of the Alachua population that I have met. I have too many people
who run out of prescription medication, cannot continue to take the
medication or maybe they are given three prescriptions in one day and
simply cannot get the prescription filled because their income is low
enough so they cannot afford to spend $50 or $60 in one day for drugs.
But their income is too high for Medicaid. They are caught in that middle
group that needs an emergency drug fund so that they can at least go and
get, maybe two weeks's supply of the medication. So they can borrow the
money and pay it back when their check comes in. But there is a lot of
that simply doing without prescribed medication in this town because they
do not have the money right now to do it.
W: So I think we need to really look into that. I feel, though, speaking
with the proper people within the various churches is just a matter of
loving and giving and as a result you have a program. But we have to have
guidelines. The church is not in the social service busines so we do not
know what kind of criteria to use so I guess we can use the same criteria
that the other social agencies use so anyone cannot call and say, "Well, I
cannot pay my light bill." You have to have some guidelines and I guess
somebody can give us the guidelines. And, of course, so they will be
beneficial to everybody. I will look into that.
B: I am just going to say a few words because I know it is quite late and
we have seen a lot and talked a lot. We are very pleased with the
discussions we have had. I think our panel reflects something about the
health in Alachua. We have people corcerned with the intellectual health
of people, the library, and that is an important component in staying
healthy. We have people concerned with organized and informal outdoor
activities, and we have heard from the audience the importance, the one
way of staying healthy, staying out of illness is having a lifestyle which
allows you to be outside and to be with your neighbors and to take joy in
what the community has to offer. We have heard about some problems in
Alachua, some needs we have. We do take care of some of our people, but
there are a lot of people who we do not quite reach. I am glad to see us
all talking about these things.
I think I would like to invite you all back next week. We are going to
talk about "Between the Generations." We are going to have grandmothers
and granddaughters, grandparents and grandchildren together on the panel,
talking about how these things get transmitted across the generations. At
this point, I would like to thank our panel again. They have done such a
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