Henry Motes

[Note: Mr. Motes was inteviewed at his home in Jacksonville, Florida by Frank A. Shepherd. The interview took place on April 18, 2008. Mrs. Marguerite Motes was also present, and provided additional information to the interview. Following the interview, Frank dictated the following document, which Mr. and Mrs. Motes have reviewed for accuracy. They have given their OK for it to be posted here.]

Henry Motes grew up in Palatka, Florida. There were two girls and one boy in his family. He grew up during the depression years. His father owned a dairy farm. In the morning, before dawn, he and his father would milk twenty head of cattle, and then this father would go to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, where he worked all day. They would then milk the cows at the end of the day.

After Henry graduated from high school, his father’s boss asked him what he was going to do. Because it was during the depression, he could not find a job. He also could not afford additional schooling. In fact, he did not know what the University of Florida was. In any event, his father’s boss offered to send him to Gainesville to get an education and gave him $100 and, for the first year, offered him a place to live with an aunt or uncle of the boss. Thus, in 1936, Henry started at the University of Florida, then an all-male school.

At the end of the first year, Henry heard about the CLO and joined. Henry lived at the CLO from the fall of 1937 until he obtained his degree in business from the University of Florida in 1940. During his last year there, he was the "General Manager" of the CLO. That was the equivalent to the President today.


Henry and Marguerite Motes on their balcony

Henry recalled that one day in 1940, he came back from classes and was told that someone wanted to give the current CLO property to the sixty boys who then lived there. This, obviously, was Professor Joseph A. Fulk. Henry, who was President at the time, said, "Bring him on in; this is someone I want to talk to."

Professor Fulk’s wife had died, and there were no children. Henry said the reason Fulk gave the property to the boys was that it was obvious from his observation that these boys simply wanted to get an education, and they did not party. Henry said that there followed a very complicated set of discussions with Dean Beaty and others, which ultimately resulted in the trust document we have today. Thus, Henry Motes was pivotal, if not key, in the legal structuring of the present CLO.

Although his memory of the details was a bit fuzzy, Henry had some recollection of working up through all of the offices at CLO during his three-year residence there. His description of the way the operation ran in those years is very consistent with the way it ran during the years thereafter, as well as at the present. He said the jobs were assigned out as necessary, and everyone did what was necessary to maintain the houses. They had one or two cooks. They also had meals, I think three per day, very much as now, and they had details or the equivalent of details on weekends and so on. His recollection is that he paid something between $10 and $13 per month to live at CLO and the total cost per month to live and attend the University was somewhere in the range of $30-$40.

I showed him the photograph of the 1938-39 class that is on the Alumni Foundation website. The only persons in the photograph that Henry Motes could recall were Etho Skipper, Mortimer McCown (although his name is listed on the picture as McKeown), Edward Skipper and himself. He also recalled that every other week, dinner was peanut butter and jelly, and the peanut butter and jelly was always available on the table, just as it was in the mid-1960’s, when Frank Shepherd lived there.

Henry remembered that the Law School was located on the corner of University and 13th Street, and he seemed to have some recollection of Peabody Hall and the old library, but not much else with respect to the campus itself.

During those years, his wife, Marguerite, lived in Micanopy and took the school bus to P.K. Yonge Laboratory School each day for high school. At the time, P. K. Yonge Laboratory School was on the east side of 13th Street, just after you come through the tunnel into Gainesville, as she described it. However, she did not know Henry during any of those years and never knew or saw the CLO. However, college students also attended some of some of the classes at P.K. Yonge Laboratory School (presumably for credit) taught by a Professor Copeland.



Henry and Marguerite Motes in their home

Among those students who attended high school classes were Etho Skipper and Mortimer McCown. After they graduated, Etho Skipper, Mortimer McCown and Henry Motes moved to Jacksonville and shared an apartment. Henry got his first job as a salesman for the Equitable Life Insurance Company, selling life insurance. Marguerite happened to be in Jacksonville in business school, and one day ran into Mortimer McCown on the street. Somehow McCown put Henry and Marguerite together and ultimately they got married. In fact, Henry sold her a life insurance policy for $7 per year on their first date. They still have the policy, which, of course, has been paid off.

In 1941, just a couple of weeks before Pearl Harbor, Henry was drafted into the United States Army, but he was turned down because of bad eyesight. Within days after Pearl Harbor, the Army called him back and asked him to come in. He was drafted, and because of his eyesight, was assigned to the Quartermaster Corps. Married during that time, he spent four years in the United States Army, obtained a commission, served two-and-one half years in the European theater, was discharged as a Captain, and served another sixteen years, all totaled as a reservist. On active duty, he was stationed in London, England until after D-Day, then sent to Paris, France, in the Office of the Chief of Quartermaster for a period, and from there he was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, as part of the occupation forces after the war was over until he was returned home.

After discharge from the military, he went to work in Jacksonville for E.H. Thompson Restaurant Equipment Company. After a period of years working for the company (during which time we believe the CLO purchased plates and glassware from the company), he and a partner bought out Mr. Thompson’s interest. In order to do this, Henry needed money and went back to his father and borrowed the money necessary to purchase the business and paid it back over five years at four percent interest. Ultimately, Henry sold the E. H. Thompson Restaurant Company to General Mills. A few years later, he bought it back and ran it himself for a while, with his son, until he finally retired from the business.

Henry and Marguerite have three children, and they have been married now for 63 years. All of their children are involved in one aspect or another of the restaurant business. His son is on the technical side, having developed programs for inventory control and use in sales. The two daughters are in advertising. Henry recalls working very closely with Dean Beaty, who was “the man” to work with at the University to make the CLO arrangement in its present form. He and his wife recall Earl Faircloth, who lived at the CLO at the same time as Henry did, although they came to recall him not so much from his CLO days but rather having met him at a homecoming game that they returned to after they left Gainesville and began to reside in Jacksonville. Earl Faircloth was for many years the Attorney General of the State of Florida.

For many years, the Motes lived in a home on the Ortega River in Jacksonville. They presently live in a condominium, also in Jacksonville. .

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