Oral History of Cecil A. Tucker II

Dublin Core

Title

Oral History of Cecil A. Tucker II

Alternative Title

Oral History, Tucker

Subject

Christmas (Fla.)
Gainesville (Fla.)
Ocala (Fla.)
4-H clubs--Florida
Sanford (Fla.)
Oviedo (Fla.)

Description

An oral history of Cecil A. Tucker II, conducted by Stephanie Youngers on September 23, 2010. Tucker served as a County Agent for the Extensions Office in various counties in Florida. In the interview, he discusses growing up in Christmas, Cracker Christmas and Fort Christmas Historical Park, his educational history, the 4-H (head, heart, hands, and health) program, working for the Extensions Office in Marion County and Seminole County, agriculture in Seminole County, opening Tucker's Farm and Garden Center, and his wife and children.

Abstract

Oral history interview of Cecil A. Tucker II. Interview conducted by Stephanie Youngers at the Museum of Seminole County History, Sanford, Florida.

Table Of Contents

0:00:00 Introduction
0:01:50 Growing up in Christmas
0:05:38 Schools in Christmas
0:08:40 College education and 4-H
0:13:27 Working for the Marion County Extension Office
0:17:39 Working for the Seminole County Extension Office
0:22:41 Agriculture in Seminole County
0:33:54 Growing watercress and managing dairy
0:38:20 Tucker's wife
0:39:15 RECORDING CUTS OFF
0:39:15 Tucker's wife
0:42:55 Tucker's family and cattle
0:43:47 Challenges while working at the Extension Office
0:51:17 Closing remarks

Creator

Youngers, Stephanie
Tucker, Cecil A. II

Source

Tucker, Cecil A. II. Interviewed by Stephanie Youngers. September 23, 2010. Museum of Seminole County History, Sanford, Florida.

Date Created

2010-09-23

Date Copyrighted

2010-09-23

Date Modified

2014-10-09

Is Part Of

Seminole County Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.

Requires

Multimedia software, such as QuickTime.

Format

audio/mp3
application/pdf

Extent

543 MB
177 KB

Medium

53-minute and 48-second audio recording
19-page digital transcript

Language

eng

Type

Sound

Coverage

Christmas, Florida
Fort Christmas Historical Park, Christmas, Florida
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Citrus Heights, Sanford, Florida
Agricultural Center, Sanford, Florida
Tucker's Farm and Garden Center, Sanford, Florida

Accrual Method

Donation

Mediator

History Teacher
Economics Teacher

Provenance

Originally created by Stephanie Youngers and Cecil A. Tucker II.

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by the Museum of Seminole County History and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.

Curator

Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

External Reference

Sanford Historical Society (Fla.). Sanford. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2003.
Edwards, Wynette. Orlando and Orange County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2001.
"About the Museum of Seminole County History." Parks and Preservation, Seminole County Government. http://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/departments-services/leisure-services/parks-recreation/museum-of-seminole-county-history/about-the-museum-of-seminole-county-hi/.

Transcript

Youngers
My name is Stephanie Youngers. Today is September 23rd, 2010. And I am interviewing Mr. Cecil [A.] Tucker [II], here at the Museum of Seminole County History. Mr. Tucker, how are you?

Tucker
I’m doing great.

Youngers
Good. We’ll start with where and when you were born, if you’re willing to give us that information.

Tucker
Yes. I was born actually in Brevard County in Rockledge. May 26th, 1931. And we lived in Rockledge—my mother and dad and I—for just a few weeks. My dad was working for the state and the tick eradication and his job as a range rider was over in east Orange County. So he moved us to Bithlo. And so, I was in—actually, he was already working for the state and headquartered out of Bithlo when I was born. My mother went over to Cocoa, to where there was some of the family, to help when I was being born.

Youngers
Oh.

Tucker
We lived in Bithlo for about six months. And then we moved to Christmas.

Youngers
Okay.

Tucker
And that’s another story.

Youngers
And is that where you live now, is in Christmas?

Tucker
Yes. Yes.

Youngers
Okay. How—how was it growing up there? Obviously different from today, but…

Tucker
You know, Christmas is a kind of unique community. In a lot of respects, there’s some areas of it—we live a lot different today than it was when I was growing up, primarily because the people worked real hard to keep it that way and not let influence come in.

Youngers
That’s good.

Tucker
But the community is—always had a—it’s a real close-knit community. And people pretty much look after each other, and help each other out. And the [Fort Christmas] Historical Park in Christmas is helping to preserve some of this kind of history.

Youngers
And like, we talked about the Cracker Christmas, and that’s one of the main events out there.

Tucker
Yes.

Youngers
And I know a lot of people don’t hardly go to Christmas, but during that time of year, you’ll find a lot more people out there.

Tucker
Cracker Christmas is always the first weekend in December. That also is the time that we have the tree-lighting and carol singing. We have decorated a Christmas tree. A large, living Florida red cedar. We’ve decorated it every year since 1952.

Youngers
Wow.

Tucker
And we have the carol singing and tree-lighting. Tree-lighting and carol singing, always the first Sunday in December every year. So Cracker Christmas—that weekend involves usually the tree-lighting and carol singing, as well as what’s going on at the fort.

Youngers
And is it like crafts and things at the fort?

Tucker
Yes, at the fort. Crafts and—it’s a real nice festival. It really is.

Youngers
I know most people that go to Christmas during Christmastime want to get their letters stamped from Christmas.

Tucker
Yes. That’s an interesting situation. When Mother became Postmaster in 1932, she found out how much people were interested to get their cards postmarked at Christmas time. So she created a Christmas tree cachet that could be put on the extra onto the cards.

Youngers
The envelope?

Tucker
Yes. Yeah. And so, she started doing that. And that was in 1934.

Youngers
And everything is by hand too?

Tucker 
Everything was by hand. Yeah.

Youngers
Wow. So how many people do you think, on average, would come through there?

Tucker
Well, it started out, you know—it’d be 30 or 40 thousand a year. Now, we’re probably somewhere between 300 and 500 thousand a year that have this done. But it’s just for those extra, little special things. We don’t get a whole lot of cooperation out of the Post Office Department. Because they consider this an extraneous thing. It creates more problems for them.

Youngers
Right. But you all still do it out there.

Tucker
Still do it. Yeah [laughs].

Youngers
That’s crazy. Wow. Was there any other kind of events and things that you can remember, growing up?

Tucker
As I was growing up, the school—the activities at the school pretty much centered—it was the activities in the community. We’d have school plays, and get-togethers at school, a covered dish dinner, and this sort of thing. All those kind of things going on all the time in Christmas.

Youngers
Right. And the school is located not in Christmas?

Tucker
Yep. Well, in those days, until 1969, there was a school in Christmas. It started out in the 19—in 18—probably the 1880s. It could have been a little before that. The post office—the church in Christmas was started in 1871, and shortly after that, the school was created in the church, in the building. But we’ve had a school in Christmas ever since, until 1969, when it ended up getting moved to Bithlo.

Youngers
And that was all the grades throughout?

Tucker
We had a, it was eight grades. My first eight years of school was in that building. First four grades—we called “The Little Room,” and that was in the small room. That building has been moved to the fort, and is one of the preserved buildings at the fort. The larger room was grades four—five through eight.

Youngers
And the high school?

Tucker
Well, in those days, they didn’t—we had a junior high, but it went from ninth grade on. And now they call it, well…

Youngers
Now they have elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Tucker
Middle school. Yeah. They call it middle school. So…

Youngers
And which high school did you go to?

Tucker
And then I rode a bus to Orlando and went to Memorial Junior High [School] in Orlando, and then I transferred in the tenth grade. I transferred to Orlando High School—OHS.

Youngers
Okay. And after that, you went to the University of Florida?

Tucker
Well, I went to Orlando Junior College, which was there in Orlando. It was in the early stages of junior colleges getting started. But I only went one year, because I had in my 4-H work. I had won a scholarship to the University of Florida. And that scholarship was fixing to expire on me, so I had to transfer out of junior college up to the university so I could get my scholarship.

Youngers
We’ll come back to your schooling. How long were you into the 4-H? I mean, what did you do while you were in there?

Tucker
 
I was always very active in 4-H. In fact, when I got on up to—I stayed active in 4-H even when I was in high school. I drove my dad’s cattle truck, and I would haul our dairy heifers to the various shows around. I carried Orange County heifers to Tampa—to the show.

Youngers
So you showed dairy cows?

Tucker
Showed dairy cows and beef cattle. Yeah.

Youngers
Alright. And did you show any hog, or anything like that?

Tucker
No. Never was very intrigued by hogs.

Youngers
I can understand. So you won a scholarship through doing your shows and things?

Tucker
Through the 4-H. yeah.

Youngers
Well, good. Okay.

Tucker
Wasn’t a very big scholarship, but in those days, every penny counted.

Youngers
Exactly.

Tucker
I think it was $100, or something like that.

Youngers
Well, good. And that helped you get into the University of Florida?

Tucker
Well, no, it just helped to pay some of the expenses when I did get in.

Youngers
When you went there, did they have, like—was it still an all-male college, or…

Tucker
You know, I need to do a little research on that. It was close. We did have—when I was attending there, it was co-ed. But it was pretty close to the time that it became co-ed, because I went there when—as I was active in 4-H, we used to go to what they called “Short Course.” And we spent a week at the university in the summertime every year. If you won that position in 4-H, you could go to Short Course. So I had been to Short Course, I guess, every year for five, six, seven years. And so I was involved there at the university as a 4-Her long before I got there as a student, so I knew some of the things that was going on.

Youngers
And they already knew you. They were expecting you.

Tucker
Yeah.

Youngers
So is that what you went to college for was for the agriculture?

Tucker 
Yes.

Youngers
Did they have a specific program?

Tucker
I was going to major in animal husbandry. And did.

Youngers
Okay. And you went for four years at the university?

Tucker
Well, I actually went for four years, and I was thinking about going to vet school. And at that time, the only vet school was in Auburn, Alabama. And I applied, and the earliest I could get in, I would be already out of college. You had to wait two or three years to get in. So I decided I would back up and look at the feasibility of going into—I was interested in either extension agriculture, extension work, or in research. So, I ended up going toward a Master’s degree. So I got my Master’s degree, and had an opportunity to go into extension down in Marion County, in Ocala. And that’s what got me into County Agent.

Youngers
So after you graduated, you went right into the [Marion County] Extensions Office? Wow. And you were the youngest, one of the youngest in the state?

Tucker
Well, there were a lot of young assistant county agents my age. But when I became the full agent, I was the youngest at that time of that.

Youngers
And had you—when you first started out with the Extensions Office, did you work there for a while, or did you just go right into the position that you were in?

Tucker
I went right in. When I graduated from university, in Marion County, Assistant Agent position opened up. I applied for it, and received it, and went right into it. And so I was very fortunate, because Marion County was one of the most active 4-H counties in the state. They had numerous state titles, teams, judging teams that won. And then 4-Hers that won positions and went to Chicago[, Illinois], or the national deal. And so it was a great county to go into for training.

Youngers
What did you do at the Extension Office when you first started out there?

Tucker
Well, I—my job was two-fold. As a—see, at that time, I had a Master’s degree in Animal Husbandry and Nutrition. So, I had a job in Marion County working with the cattle people. And then I had the job of being 4-H Agent. And so, as leader of the 4-Hers, I ended up training judging teams. We had judging teams in dairy, and judging teams in beef, and judging teams in poultry.

Youngers
And you taught them, like, what to look for in the animal…

Tucker
Right. In the area of poultry—I didn’t know that much about it, but I found somebody that did.

Youngers
That seems like it would a little bit more in-depth.

Tucker
Yep. But we had some good teams. Some great 4-Hers there.

Youngers
So, when you say, working with the cattle there, like what types of cattle? What types of things did you do with them?

Tucker
Well, it had to do with the cattlemen on their pastureland, and any problems they had with pastureland. And, of course, we had a number of purebred ranches in the area. Some of them were Brahman, some of them were Shorthorn, some of them were Hereford. And Angus. So it was a good training area for me.

Youngers
It sounds like it. And how long were you with the Marion County office?

Tucker
I was with Marion County for two years, and the, just before I left Marion County, the county agent of Marion County—he’d always been quite interested in the Sheriff’s Department, and in fact, he periodically would go on with the Sheriff’s Department on activities, and it became available to him to be able to get appointed as Sheriff. And so he took it. So I was appointed for a brief time as acting county agent in Marion County—big county.

Tucker
But at the time, I had already applied for the job of County Agent here in Sanford, Seminole County, because it had became available.

Youngers
And it was closer to home.

Tucker
And it was the closest one home.

Youngers
Now, when you were up in Marion County, did you live up there?

Tucker
Yes.

Youngers
Okay. Good to know you didn’t try to commute every day.

Tucker
No, no. I lived there.

Youngers
So once he took the position as Sheriff, how long until you got to come down here? I mean, did they find someone else?

Tucker
Yeah. They found someone right away. In fact, I was just Acting Agent to take care of some things at the school. I wasn’t in the county, just for—goodness, it probably wasn’t for more than six or seven months.

Youngers
Then you come down here.

Tucker
Yep.

Youngers
Okay. You want to talk about what you did down here, which was a lot?

Tucker
The county agent that was here at the time—it was an interesting situation. He had—he had almost retired before his retirement. And some of it’s understandable. During the [Great] Depression, they cut back drastically on salaries. In fact, one of the stories told is: one of the farmers said to him, “Charlie, I heard they cut back your salary. Cut back 25 percent.” [laughs] He says, “Doesn’t that bother you?” Charlie says, “Well, yeah. But no, I just set the lever back 25%percent.” Well, he had done that. And he was fortunate that he was—had been in place for a long time. And the farmers were a little unhappy that when he first came in to the county, he did a tremendous job as county agent. I went through his files and things, and letters and all that he sent out, and he did a remarkable job. But after the episode with the salary and all of that, I think he was fortunate that he was real close friends with the director of Extension.

Youngers
Goodness. So you came in about mid-1950s, into Seminole County?

Tucker
In 1956, I came here. The joke in the community was that, well, if you want to look for the county agent, just go down to Roumillat and Anderson’s Drug Store. He’ll be down there in the coffee shop.” So I says, “I tell you what. You won’t find me in Roumillat and Anderson’s. I’m going to go down to the other drug store.”

Youngers
Oh, goodness.

Tucker
But Charlie had—Charlie had a good job. It was just there towards the end.

Youngers
He was ready to go.

Tucker
Yeah. And some of the old time farmers here, they pretty well understood. And so—but he was—the day came time for him to retire. It was pretty well fixed.

Youngers
So when you came in, what types of things did you do down here?

Tucker
Well, one of the first things I did was to begin to get the 4-H going. Because there wasn’t much going in that area. And then I started working on the—bringing all of the mailing lists of the various farms—the citrus growers, the vegetable growers, the cattlemen—bringing those up to date. Charlie pretty well had a list, but he wasn’t keeping all of it up-to-date. And that was one of the things I worked on.

Youngers
So there was quite a bit of agriculture planting?

Tucker
Yes. There was. In those days, we still was one of the more active vegetable producing areas in the state. And we had quite a bit of citrus here. We had probably 15 to 18 thousand acres of citrus.

Youngers
And that was in the Sanford area?

Tucker
In the Sanford area—Seminole County area. Now, the unique thing about that is, Seminole County is the fourth smallest county in the state in land area. So to have much acreage of anything is a little unique, because of the size of it.

Youngers
I know the big thing that I’ve heard is, like celery and citrus.

Tucker
Yes.

Youngers
But I know there was maybe some other things in there, as well.

Tucker
Well, in the—in those days, the nursery part of it was not—it was just beginning to come on. And in the ‘70s, we predicted that the nursery part—ornamental, horticultural, nursery—was probably going to outstrip the rest of it. And it has. But that’s just one of those things of how an area changes to meet the needs of the community.

Youngers
Wow. And what about like agriculture—beef and things? I know there’s still quite a bit of it here, but not as much as it was.

Tucker
No. In fact, the only thing that is as much as it was is ornamental horticulture. The vegetables has dropped way down. Almost nil right now. Beef cattle is still, over in the eastern part of the county is where most of the traditional pastureland was. And it’s still a lot of it over there.

Youngers
So that’s like, Geneva?

Tucker 
Geneva. Yep.

Youngers
Oviedo kind of area.

Tucker
Chuluota. Yep. Kind of area. Osceola.

Youngers
Chuluota. Osceola. Okay. Back in those days, was it more prominent? Did it come further into Seminole County, or is it just kind of always in that general area?

Tucker
It’s always been out in that area, although every area in the county had some cattle scattered in it. Not today, but back in those days.

Youngers

No. Definitely not today. Now, when you were with the exchange office, you were telling me earlier about getting the new buildings, and even using this building, the county home building,[1] as an agricultural office. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

Tucker
Alright. Let me back up before that. I probably developed more offices for the county than any other department head. When I became county agent in 1956, we were in the bottom floor of the courthouse. I called it the Salt Mine Section of the courthouse. And it was just basically one big room, which housed my office, the home economics agent’s office, and we had Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation [Service (ASCS)], the old AAA. That office was also in that area. And so, basically, and I was trying to develop part of the program that we provide in extension to farmers is information about agriculture. And some of the best information that Extension has available are the bulletins that they print on the various topics. So, I determined that we were going to have a—when I was working my way through college at the university, one of my jobs, I worked in the bulletin room. And we sent out to county agents all over the state. They would send in an order for so many bulletins of this, so many bulletins of that. And so I was involved in shipping those out to the various agents. So I was pretty well familiar with the—what was available in bulletins. And I determined, in Seminole County, we was[sic] going to have the best supply of bulletins south of Gainesville. And we did.

Youngers
Wow. What kind of things did the put out for bulletins? Was it like that tell of, like maybe a pest type thing for plants, or…

Tucker
Right. They would have a bulletin out on chinch-bug control. And a bulletin out on varieties of grasses. You name the topic, and they had it. In vegetables, there was a general vegetable production guide that gave how many pounds of seed, and how you would do for all the vegetables for growing a garden.

Youngers
So being down here in Seminole County and making more offices, and making more of this information available, you were very helpful to more of the general population here, to help them with their agriculture.

Tucker
Yeah. And that was part of the making information available. So when I came in to the—to the Salt Mine Section of the courthouse, it was a little bit difficult to do what I wanted to do with the—just that one big room. So, I showed—in those days, the [Seminole County] Clerk of the Court pretty much ran the county. And so, I was to see Mr. Herndon, and I said, “Mr. Herndon, I know we really need a little bit more office space. And the other day, I was downstairs here, on the other side our office in this big storage area down here, and I could regroup a lot of stuff that’s in there, and make an office right there.” He says, “Son, let’s go down there and see what you talking about.” So I went down there and showed him, and he says, “We’ll think about that.” And he agreed, as I recall. I don’t think I even had to restore the stuff. They moved it around. And so we put an office in, and it was an all-inside deal. I didn’t have any—if I’d had claustrophobia, I would have been in trouble, because there wouldn’t have been any windows.

Youngers
No windows. Wow.

Tucker
But it provided more wall space to do what I wanted to do. And that was to put these bulletins available for people to see and pick up.

Youngers
Right. And then did you all stay in that office, or did you eventually move out into the new one?

Tucker
Well, we were there until the early ‘60s. The judges needed more room. And we had made our space into a pretty nice office area, over the course of time. And so they wanted that space. So again, I says, “Mr. Herndon, there is an abandoned county building. It’s a good building. It has a potential. And what I’d like to do is for us to create a[sic] ag[ricultural] center and move all the agriculture people we’ve got—we’ve got soil conservation, plant inspector, we’ve got ASC here, and put all of us in one area for the farmers just to come into one spot. To see all these things.” And so, he says, “Well, we’ll think about that.” Well they appointed a committee, and I was on the committee, and we created the Ag Center at the Stockade building down here.

Youngers
And that’s where everybody moved with you.

Tucker
They all moved with me.

Youngers
Wow.

Tucker
Yeah. So then they wanted more space for the road department. And that was shortly about the same time that the county home had moved out of here. And so I said again, “I know where there’s a place that would really work out better for us, because we’re a little bit crowded here for all the people for the Ag Center.” And they agreed to it.

Youngers
So you made this entire area here?

Tucker
This entire building became the Ag Center.

Youngers
Wow. And how long was that office here?

Tucker
From the middle ‘60s until 19—I think Frank [Jazzen] moved over into the new Ag Center in the mid-70s.[2] I had already left as county agent at that time.

Youngers
And how long were you County Agent?

Tucker
Thirteen and a half years.

Youngers
Wow. So what did you do when you were done being the county agent?

Tucker
I had an opportunity to go into a farming operation growing watercress down in Oviedo. Went into a watercress-growing enterprise, another young fellow and I. And after a couple of years, well, we ended up merging with Don Weaver and his brother-in-law, and created B&W Quality Growers. That grew into a pretty sizeable watercress-growing operation. We were the largest in the eastern part of the United States. And we had farms in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Florida. Later on, I got out of that.

And Joe Baker, who had Baker’s Dairy over here, was interested in my coming to work for him. In fact, when he found out I had gone into the watercress, he says, “Cecil, you, uh, I didn’t know you was[sic] available.” I said, “Joe, I probably wasn’t available for anything except what I did.” Because it was a good opportunity that I got into. Anyway, when I got out of the watercress deal, I went to see Joe. He says, “Yeah. I’m still interested in you.” And he says, “When can you start?” I says, “Well, I got a couple of things I got to finish at home. I’ll need a couple of weeks.” He says, “No. I need you to start Monday.”

Youngers
Alright then.

Tucker
So, I managed Baker’s Dairy here for a couple of years. And then, well, let’s see. I got out of Extensions in 1969. And then I was in the watercress business for a couple of years. And then I managed Baker’s Dairy for I guess it was about a year and a half on each one of them. In 1972, I opened my own farm and garden supply store in Sanford. Tucker’s Farm and Garden Center. And we ran that as a family operation for the next 30 years.

Youngers
And it’s Myer’s now?

Tucker
Yeah. Horstmeyer [Farm and Garden]. Horstmeyer. Yeah.

Youngers
And when did you sell that there?

Tucker
Well, I sold it to my son in 198—1983. That’s when I moved to Christmas. Let’s see, ’83-’84 —somewhere along in there. And he sold it to his friend, Horstmeyers[sic], in—about 15 years later.

Youngers
So during the time that you lived—or that you worked—out here in Seminole County, did you still live in Christmas?

Tucker
No. I’ve always lived in—from the time I came here as County Agent, I’ve lived here in Seminole County. I didn’t move back to Christmas until I sold the store and moved back to Christmas in the mid-80s.

Youngers
So you lived in the Oviedo-Chuluota area?

Tucker
No. Always right here in Sanford. Actually, over here is what’s called Citrus Heights. That’s where we lived.

Youngers
The whole time?

Tucker
The whole time. Yeah. Well, I shouldn’t say the whole time, because I bought a house on Rosalia Drive, and we lived there a few years, and then I lived out her. [laughs].

Youngers
Now, during all this time you met a lovely lady?

Tucker
Actually, I met her and courted her while we were in college at the university.

Youngers
So she went to University of Florida too?

TuckerShe went to the university for a while. Her mother had to have an operation, and that was money sending her to college had to be used. And so by that time, she and I had gotten pretty serious, and she got a job working for an orange packing company in Orlando. And after—I don’t know—a little over a year we ended up getting married. And then she came back to the university.

Youngers
How’d you win her over? Did you do anything special? Or did you just say, “Alright, woman...”

Tucker
We need to make that a continued story. I’ll be right back.

Tucker
Now then, you was[sic] wanting to know about my wife.

Youngers
Yes, sir.

Tucker
Well, during the year that she was—I knew her—knew of her—before we got to university. I doubt if she knew too much about me beforehand, but we—I was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, agricultural fraternity there, and I would invite her every guest night to come over to the fraternity house and eat with us. And so they got to be pretty—and by the way, you’ll want to put Ms. [Mart Albritton] Tucker on your list as one to do an oral interview.

Youngers
I will do that.

Tucker
Because she is an old-time—as an Albritton, old-time Florida family. But she’s been active here in Seminole County. She helped me in to get the store going. She’s active in the cattle operation. In fact, when I was running the store, she did as much of the cattle work as I did. We had a—a pet at the store. It was a wild pig that became pretty well-known in the community. She used to take it on a leash downtown when she went to make the deposit at the bank. She’d carry the pig with her.

Youngers
What was his name?

Tucker
Pete. Streaky Pete. Pete the Pig. And he grew to be about 700 pounds. But anyway, that’s another story. But she was active in the [Seminole County] Farm Bureau—in the women’s deal at the Farm Bureau. She was active in 4-H, doing some of the judging, and some of the 4-H activities here. And of course, when we were opening the store, she was part of that. So she’d be another one.

Youngers
And she—so you all married before you graduated?

Tucker
Right.

Youngers
So she went to Marion County with you?

Tucker
Yes. In fact—well, let’s see. Before I got my Master’s, she was expecting my daughter. And she typed my thesis. And then when we moved to Ocala, uh—trying to remember at what point—my daughter was born before then.

Youngers
And you have one daughter?

Tucker
I’ve got one daughter and two sons—twins. They were born on my daughter’s second birthday. And then, we have an adopted daughter, as well.

Youngers
And you all have always had cattle in your family?

Tucker
Yes.

Youngers
Put your boys to work?

Tucker
We’ve had cattle in our family since as far as we can tell, going back into the 1700s. And that’s another thing I’m researching, because one of these days, that’s going to be a part of my book too.

Youngers
Wow. That’s a long time. Okay. As far as the cattle in your family—the history—that’ll be good?

Tucker
Yeah.

Youngers
Do you have anything else that you want to add to our…

Tucker
Well, let’s see. Well, there’s a lot of things we could go into and talk about [laughs].

Youngers
We could always come back and talk about different things, if you wanted to.

Tucker
The problem of being able to have—to build a program when the county didn’t have any funds, it was a problem. I needed—and of course, I was always on the low-end of the pay scale. If it wasn’t for the fact that this is where I wanted to be, I’d have gone somewhere else. In fact, when I left to go into the watercress, I was offered a job paying me twice as much I was in extension. And he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take it. Because my opportunity that I was going into was better [laughs].

Youngers
Right.

Tucker
Well, let me look here. See if there’s anything—this is interesting. When I came to the county, the phone number for the county agent’s office was 470.

Youngers
470? That’s it? [laughs]

Tucker
[laughs] 470. That’s it. But we went through the medfly infestation, we went through the fire burning the [Sanford State] Farmers’ Market down, and having to help get things going for it to build back up. We had, in ’57—late ’57, early ’58 —a severe freeze deal that actually we had cattle dying, because there wasn’t enough hay, and we brought in hay for that. We had—one of the projects that I worked on was the eradication of screwworms. And my dad was involved in that. That was one of the miracles of using atomic energy to eradicate the screwworm fly. The female fly mates only once. And so they found that if they would raise screwworm flies and eradiate them with atomic energy deal, it sterilized the males, and they put these male flies out in the area, and they mate with the wild females, and the eggs wouldn’t hatch. And by continually doing that, they lowered the population of the screwworm fly to completely eradicate it.

Youngers
Really? So it’s gone for good?

Tucker
Yes. Yes. it’s gone.

Youngers
Wow. That’s amazing.

Tucker
And my dad was involved in that. He was an inspector. And in fact, some of the first pastures that they put the medfly—I mean the screwworm fly—out in was his pasture. So, when I was County Agent, of course I would make contact with the cattle people, and pass along the information to him about what was going on, and if there was an outbreak somewhere, they’d get on top of it.

Youngers
Did they still have the technique of doing the cow dipping?

Tucker
Yes. Now, the cow dipping—this was to eliminate the cattle tick—the fever tick. And in the early ‘50s, they was[sic] still—in fact, my dad worked with that. There’s still a lot of the, uh, dipping going on. Getting rid of the fever tick. And that lasted until, I guess, the early ‘60s.

Youngers
Right. Is that something that they were able to just control?

Tucker
They were able to control it by dipping continually. They were able to eliminate the fever tick. After they wiped out a bunch of the deer who was perpetuating it. And some of your family was involved in that.

Youngers
Yes, sir.

Tucker
Oh, let’s see. We had a fire ant infestation that came into the county and we almost got it eliminated by flying [Boeing] B-17s [Flying Fortress], and putting out Myrex, until the do-gooders got involved and killed the program.

Youngers
And we still have fire ants.

Tucker
And we still have fire ants, and we’ll always have fire ants. But we came about within two flights of eliminating them.

Youngers
Wow. Now, did that have any—the chemicals used, did it have any effect on people? Is that why people got involved?

Tucker
The problem is it could create some problem in the water and affect fish, and that sort of thing. But we could have eliminated that. You know, by staying away from those areas. Anyway. Well, let’s see. Any other questions?

Youngers
No. Not if there’s anything. I mean, I have lots of questions. I know you’re big into the rodeo, and you’ve done a lot for 4-H, and different things like that, but we can come back maybe and talk about that another other time.

Tucker
Well, what do—yeah. Make a list. And we’ll do it. And like I said, I think you need to interview my wife, because I think you’ll find that to be interesting, as well.

Youngers 
Absolutely.

Tucker
There’s a lot of little ins and outs of what went on here in the county.

Youngers
Well, I’ll definitely schedule a day with her, so she can come in and talk to me.

Tucker
Good deal.

Youngers
Well, I appreciate it very much.

Tucker
And I appreciate your being on board to help do these things.

Youngers
Absolutely.

Tucker
We want to look through the list of people and be sure that we get some—thing of it is, we’re five years late on a lot of people that passed on. Joe Baker, he—would have been great to be able get his. And I want to set up Don Weaver.

Youngers
Okay.

Tucker
Don Weaver and his family was—they came here from Pennsylvania. But they are pioneers in the watercress industry in the United States. And he lives down in Chuluota, on the south side of Lake Mills. And we’ll work out getting that set up. Anything else?

Youngers
No, sir.

Tucker
Okay.

Youngers
Thank you.


 

[1] Old Folks’ Home.

[2] Correction: November 1980.

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Youngers, Stephanie

Interviewee

Tucker, Cecil A. II

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1411kbps

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