The Long and Short of Interviews: Week of July 17th

Hello, everyone!

I started off this week with an interesting assignment. In our archives we have a set of three very short interviews conducted in 1992 by Junior Achievement members of Brevard County. These three interviews are of three very influential business men in Brevard County: Al Trafford, Homer Denius, and Al Neuharth. These men were being featured as laureates in the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.


I was involved with Junior Achievement programs in high school and college, so I was excited to see a project of theirs pop up in our archives. The only disappointing thing was that the interviews were very brief, only 10 min or less per subject. That made the editing easier of course, but I am told we don’t have any longer interviews on record for these individuals, which is unfortunate.

Here is some background info on these men based on the YouTube descriptions I wrote:

  • Al Trafford was a native of Brevard, from an early pioneering family. He attended the College of Business Administration at the University of Florida and returned home after graduation to work in real estate. Al served as realtor, broker, President, and Chairman of Trafford Realty. He also acted as Director of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Director of the Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce, served as President of Brevard County Board of Realtors, President of the North-Central Brevard Board of Realtors, and served on the Board of Governors of the Florida Association of Realtors, among numerous other business and charitable positions throughout his life.

 

  • Homer Denius earned a degree in Electrical Engineering while working for the Crosley Corporation and co-found Radiation Incorporated, with his colleague George Shaw, for the purpose of research and development in conjunction with the space program. In 1967 his company would merge with Harris-Intertype Corporation, which still operates in Brevard County today. He was also a lifetime member of the Board of Trustees at the Florida Institute of Technology and was awarded an honorary doctorate for his contributions to engineering and technology.

 

  • Al Neuharth moved to Brevard County after founding the Florida Today Newspaper in 1966. He is best remembered for his extensive work in media, including founding the first national newspaper, the USA Today in 1982. He eventually become President and Chief Executive of Gannett Corporation, which would serve as the platform from which he created the first national newspaper. Al worked in many positions, including working as a reporter with the Associated Press, serving as City Editor of the Miami Harold, and acting as Chairman of the Freedom Forum, which champions free speech. A bestselling author, Al wrote numerous books, including his popular autobiography titled, Confessions of an S.O.B. He decided to build a mansion in Cocoa Beach due to his love of the Space Coast.
Vintage Photo of Al Neuharth

While the interviews are short, I definitely recommend checking them out! As you can see, these were very influential men in Brevard County.

Next, I also started working on a new oral history for a gentleman named Isaac Houston. Thankfully, this interview is much more substantial, about 2 hours! He has a lot to say about being part of the Black Community in Brevard, including witnessing integration of the school system in the early 1960’s.

He talks a lot about his work in the education system, but he also worked in administration at NASA and was the music director at his church.

Editing and taking notes on Isaac Houston

Finally, I sent one more new oral history off to be transcribed. It was for a woman named Martha “Pat” Woelk. She is a descendent of the Sams and LaRoche families, early pioneers of Brevard County. She was the last resident of the historic Sams House in Merritt Island, which was built in 1875. The interview is unique because it follows Pat around the property as she describes what she remembers about its history.

 

That’s about it… Until next week!

-Heather Pierce

Videos Up: Week of May 29th

It has been a busy week at the Brevard County Historical Commission! The best news is that I was able to successfully upload the Marian Grant and Mercer Livermore King videos to YouTube! These are the first videos I’ve uploaded that I worked on from start to finish.

This involves:

  • converting from DVD to MP4
  • editing the video for sound quality and scene continuity in Adobe Premiere
  • exporting the finished file
  • sending off for transcriptions/timestamping
  • editing the transcription for accuracy
  • writing YouTube descriptions
  • uploading to YouTube itself!

Checking the transcriptions for accuracy is the trickiest part. I don’t know all the spellings for people and businesses, so I have to carefully comb through the city directories for clues. Here’s a peek at the library’s collection:

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Brevard County City Directories
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Where to find pertinent information about residents from past decades

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Love the old ad from the Indian River Hotel!
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More city directories

It’s important to get the transcripts as accurate as possible for future researchers who may utilize these interviews as primary sources. Often times looking up these names and references leads to learning interesting tidbits about history. For example, while editing the Mercer Livermore King interview she referenced a “chic sale” on the beach when she was there to witness a rocket launch. The term chic sale took some investigating, but actually turned out to be a colloquial term for an outhouse! It originated from a comedian Charles “Chic” Sale, who wrote a book titledĀ The Specialist. It was all about a man who sells outhouses! I thought that was an amusing little piece of history.

specialistcoverstraight

Here are the links to the Grant and King interviews if you would like to check them out:

I also finished editing the Edward Poe interview this week, which I started last week. Mr. Poe’s interview focuses mostly on the history of Titusville, where his father owned the Poe Grocery Store. Mr. Poe developed a lot of land in the area as well as worked for the The Indian River Citrus League. Interestingly, he also built the first Burger King in Brevard County.

I enjoy hearing about the development of the county and its businesses, even if it is just the first Burger King! After all, these types of things have lasting cultural effects on the community.

I have started editing a new oral history this week as well, for Victoria Raymond. She also worked in the radio business like Mercer Livermore King. Here is a link to a short bio about her.

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In other news, I also spent some time working with the microfilm machine again. I was researching another obituary for Mr. Boonstra. He told me that a lot of times they are contacted by estate companies searching for heirs. It was my first time using the machine by myself, but I’m happy to say that I managed just fine!

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Microfilm Machine
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Researching obituaries

Another interesting side project was looking for some old photos from the Florida Today newspaper. Unfortunately, the files we have were given to the Brevard County Historical Commission in disarray. The Florida Today was actually going to throw them out, so they had to be salvaged and organized by volunteers. It was sad seeing all those photos and documents being labeled as disposable, but it’s ironic that the paper now has a need for some of these old files and photos housed here.

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An image requested by the Florida Today from their old files
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Left over documents from the Florida Today that were not relevant to Brevard County

Well that about wraps up this week! I’ll be back next week editing the new Victoria Raymond transcript and uploading the Edward Poe video soon!

Until next time!

-Heather Pierce