Charles H. Fairbanks & the Armadillo Roast at UF
Field Schools, Fort Center, and the Origins of the Armadillo Roast: Reminiscences of Charles Fairbanks During the Florida Years, 1964-75
Jerald T. Milanich
Department of Anthropology
Florida Musuem of Natural History
Charles Herron Fairbanks joined the faculty of the University of Florida in 1963 and quickly became a legend in his own time. Chuck will be remembered for many things, among them leaving a legacy of excellent archaeological field schools which trained several generations of students. Perhaps more important than the field training were the data generated in the form of student reports, publications, theses, and dissertations. And certainly as memorable as the published interpretations are the host of stories surrounding the field schools and the “apres dig” scene. Living with a group of people in the field for a number of weeks is akin to the world’s longest encounter-group session, a situation which cannot help but to generate anecdotes and memories which range from tender to bizarre. Many of these anecdotes have become part of the oral tradition of the University of Florida’s anthropology program (and the stories get better with each telling).click to read more
My purpose in writing this paper is to record certain of those anecdotes and in so doing, present a history of the archaeological field schools over the period 1964-1975. Also included are a few of the better stories and incidents which I remember from the academic years in between the field schools. I will also reveal (in writing and for the first time; FASA gets a real scoop here!) the true story of the origin of the Armadillo Roast. Doing an oral history of one’s self is a bit like filing Internal Revenue Service 1040 forms on the honor system, but I promise to tell the truth, at least as I remember it.
In 1963, John Goggin, chairman of the anthropology department, was very ill and the university needed to find a replacement for him. Faculty from that time have told me that Goggin hand-picked Fairbanks, then associate professor at FSU, as his successor. Chuck joined the UF faculty as professor and chairman of the anthropology department. At that time the department was installed in a World War II temporary building located on the north shore of a small sinkhole in the center of campus, northwest of the old dairy science building. The building was razed a number of years ago; today its location would be under the south end of the new science library [currently under construction].
I took my first anthropology course, “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,” from Fairbanks in that building in 1964. Up to that point in my life I had no inkling that one could be an archaeologist and do research in Florida. Chuck was a superb teacher and opened a lot of our collective intellectual eyes.
The anthropology building was rundown, to say the least. If you were late to class and the crowd prevented you from getting in the door, you could simply step in through an open window, none of which had screens. The ceiling in the one classroom was supported by two metal poles . If you touched one, you would receive an electrical shock, a problem no one could ever remedy (as well as a terrible way to be jolted to wakefulness in the morning).
At the initial meeting of the class (APY 200), I got my first look at Fairbanks. Actually the view was obscured by a cloud of smoke. When the haze lifted, there he was, like a genie appearing out of nowhere. He had a Philip Morris Commander cigarette in one hand and a Nehi orange drink in the other and he was mad as hell. It was some time later that I learned his demeanor was a direct result of the Coca-Cola machine’s being empty. I don’t believe I ever saw him drink another orange drink in the more than twenty years I knew him.
Someone could do an entire article on Fairbanks-and-Coca-Cola stories. Two stand out in my mind. In 1966 at the Fort Center site, after a morning of excavating in 105 degree heat, we stopped for one of our frequent breaks, the last of the day because our cola supply was low. Chuck carefully took his opener out and popped the tops on the 10-ounce bottles which glistened with condensation, just like in the commercials (cans were not around then). In haste to experience that refreshing pause, one unfortunate student reached across to grab a bottle, toppling Fairbanks’ full bottle in the process. It was not long before that student found a new anthropology department (and after the incident of the spilled Coke, Chuck never again called the student by his correct last name.)
The anthropology department undertook an upscale move in 1968 and left the old WWII building to take up residence in the first two floors of the former student union, Bryant Hall (later the ASB building). Before occupying office space in the new quarters, Fairbanks arranged for the Coke bottling company to install a vending machine just outside the downstairs anthropology laboratories. Unfortunately, in their haste to make a buck Coke forgot with whom they were dealing and plugged in a machine that dispensed Coke syrup and sometimes ice and sometimes a paper cup, but rarely all three. Chuck was livid and forbade anyone to ever use the machine. We had to buy a refrigerator and then purchase bottled drinks by the truck load and sell them out of the laboratory. Because the refrigerator was always crammed with Cokes, we had to put our lunches and other beverages in the freezers where Bill Maples stored dead monkeys and things. The money collected from sales never equaled the money spent, but Chuck subsidized the operation until Coca-Cola relented and brought a proper machine. I wonder what Chuck would have thought of Coke’s recent formula change.
The first University of Florida field school with which Chuck was associated took place in 1964 and investigated the Fox Pond site in Alachua County, location of the Spanish mission San Francisco de Potano. That field school also dug a prehistoric Potano Indian Site, 8AL273, which was nearby (see Appendix, which provides a list of the students from each field school and the sites excavated; most of the student reports written as part of field school requirements are presently curated at the Florida State Museum along with the field notes; those archives were a great help in preparing this paper).
Bill Sears, then a curator at the Florida State Museum, actually began directing the 1964 field school, but left to take a job as chairman of the anthropology department at the newly established Florida Atlantic University. FAU also provided Bill a closer base for his planned long-term investigations at the Fort Center site on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. Fairbanks took over the field school in May, inheriting several graduate students from Goggin. At the time the University of Florida was on the trimester system (they have tried every system), and the initial field school was held the first half (A Term) of the summer trimester. Summer field school projects were consequently planned for 7-week blocks of time, quite a difference from today’s 16- week semesters.
During the second half of the summer trimester, B Term, another field school was held at the Cross Creek site and some of the same students participated. The list of students from those 1964 projects includes Christopher Peebles, now a noted archaeologist at Indiana University, and George Demmy, Timothy Thompson, Curt Peterson, and Martha Symes, all of whom went on to be professional archaeologists or anthropologists. Curt is presently head of the conservation program at the Institute of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of South Carolina.
That same field school also carried out a survey of portions of the proposed Florida cross-state barge canal, supported by a contract Fairbanks held from the government. The next year Ripley Bullen, FSM curator, continued the survey under another contract.
Before the actual digging at Fox Pond began, Curt Peterson borrowed a soil auger from the geology department, went out to the site, and took a soil plug from the midden. The next step involved the dropping of an unopened can of Schlitz into the hole and replacing the plug. Sure enough, the subsequent excavations detected the fill of the hole and encountered the beer can. Smug students properly pedestaled, recorded, and mapped the feature, waiting for the new archaeologist to make his move. They did not have to wait long. Fairbanks, without saying a word, picked up the can, opened it, and proceeded to drink it. The incident was never mentioned again.
I could not find anything very exciting in the field notes from any of the 1964 excavations, except for one entry at the very back of the Fox Pond notes dated 1 August 1964. Apparently, the field team had forgotten to tie in the excavation grid to any permanent benchmark at the site, and Thompson and Peterson were sent out to do so. Accompanying their two pages of surveying data and angles and measurements is this whimsical message: “Peterson and Thompson shooting 272 (the Fox Pond site) into the real world.”
No field school was held in 1965. But the next year the UF field school was held at the Fort Center site, marking the beginning of an uninterrupted string of field schools which has continued for many years.
The Fort Center project was initiated by Bill Sears and was mainly funded by two large grants from the National Science Foundation. Although the project was Bill’s, he invited Fairbanks and John Longyear of Colgate University to hold field schools at the site and to use the facilities and amenities located there. The latter included a bulldozer and a mobile field laboratory/dormitory which consisted of three house trailers (what we today call mobile homes) that Bill had specially constructed. One was divided into two sections, each with three sets of bunk beds, bathroom, and shower; this dormitory trailer provided cramped sleeping arrangements for 12. The second trailer had full kitchen facilities and counter space and cabinets, allowing it to function as both dining hall and laboratory; it also served students as living room, parlor, and guest house. Within the third trailer was a bedroom and bath for the archaeologist, an office and drawing board, and a storeroom. The latter also contained the water pump and the device which added bleach to our drinking water to (hopefully) make it safe to drink.
This little Holiday Inn-in-the-woods was parked at the western end of the site in a pleasant hammock adjacent to Fisheating Creek, about five miles from the nearest paved road and at least ten miles from the nearest bar (at a fishcamp). This was the same mobile motel which Sears later loaned to me to use at the McKeithen site in Columbia County for several field schools in 1977 – 1980. At McKeithen I was able to move from the bottom end bunk I had first occupied as a student in 1966 to Bill Sears’ bed (he wasn’t in it) in the archaeologist’s trailer (with private bath; rank does indeed have its privileges).
The 1966 field school at Fort Center, my first opportunity to be in the field, lasted seven weeks. Six female and four male students and Fairbanks moved into the camp on a Sunday. The field crew included myself, Curt Peterson, Ken Lewis (now on the faculty of Michigan State University), and John Tilton, then a math major and now a quite well known potter in the Alachua County area. Other members included Patricia Whittier, now working for Chuck Cleland at the anthropology museum at Michigan State; Reba Anderson, now chair of occupational therapy at FIU; Judy Angley, who received an M.A. in anthropology at UF and now employed at the med center and working on a Ph.D. in the school of education; and Susan Keirn, now on the faculty at California State College at Stanislaus. Sue and Reba both received their doctoral degrees in cultural anthropology at UF and neither seems to have been permanently scarred by the Fort Center experience. All of us, however, would have to agree that Sue and insects are not compatible.
It would be easy to fill up page after page with remembrances of Fort Center and Fairbanks, whom we affectionately referred to (hardly ever within his hearing) as Cap’n Chuck or Farfel (the name of a cuddly dog in a commercial). Here are a few of mine:
Mornings–We went to work around 6 or 6:30 A.M. to take advantage of the cool morning temperatures. About nine we would return to the camp and have the hired cook (a true luxury) fix each one of us a breakfast of multiple eggs and all of the trimmings. Then we returned to the field where we would work until 1:00, returning to camp for lunch and knocking off for the day. Siesta time began shortly after lunch; we needed our strength for the evenings.
Evenings–There was not much to do at the camp, so we manufactured our own fun, such as playing bridge (by the hour), drinking, catching armadillos (a skill Curt taught to us when he caught one and tossed it into the middle of a bridge game), and traveling to Mariam’s bar to drink with the cowboys and dance. The Time magazine article recounting the Berkeley recipe for drying and smoking the stringy parts of bananas appeared that summer and we spent considerable effort with the gas oven and a stalk of bananas. Fairbanks would pass by and shake his head, snorting, “It’s not going to work.” And it didn’t.
Nights–The camp’s electricity was provided by a large generator. To get us to bed at a decent hour, Chuck would simply go out and turn it off, plunging us into darkness. It rarely worked; we were smart enough to stockpile candles. Also, there was all sorts of mischief you could get into in the dark (like tripping over roots in the compound). One night after lights out, someone went out to the armadillo pit to answer a call of nature (the pit was a cement block barbeque where we had attempted to cage an armadillo). Their frantic cries to come outside and look brought all of us tumbling out of the trailers. There in the sky was a faint flicker, Aurora Borealis. We woke up Chuck, but he was not impressed (waking him took all of our nerve). Later we read a story saying an astronomer fishing off of St. Petersburg had also seen the lights and identified them as the Northern Lights. His was the most southern sighting ever documented. Miles from any lights, our was even more southerly.
The great field trip–Chuck piled us all into the truck to take a tour of the famous Ortona site and Tony’s mound. All of us were very hung over and feeling puny. Just how bad we felt came to light when we stopped to climb a fire tower to check out the vista. One student made it only to the first landing before starting to throw up. We did find both of the sites, but at Tony’s mound we encountered a nightmare knot of water moccasins in the roots of a strangler fig tree. After rapidly departing in the truck, Fairbanks had a drag race with a cow on one of the narrow two-rut roads atop a levee. The cow was clocked at 36 MPH before he (she?) took a dive off the road.
Martinis–In 1966, few of us had Fairbanks’ expertise with martinis, either in making or drinking them. A frequent Fort Center evening rite was to meet in Fairbanks’ office (he sat and we stood, crammed together like planted pines) where we were given martinis in small plastic juice glasses. A common practice by those who had not yet developed their martini palate, was to pour their drink into my glass; I liked them. After several rounds the cook would grow tired of waiting dinner for the sinners and she would depart, leaving the food warming on the range. Eventually we would eat and then take turns doing the dishes and cleaning the place up prior to the bridge game.
The Fort Center site was literally crawling with armadillos, much to our delight and amusement. At one point, two game and freshwater rangers passing through (the site was protected as a conservation area) stopped by to bring us an armadillo which they subsequently cleaned. Our cook proceeded to roast it, and it was not bad. We ate them more than once.
This brings us to the origins of the Armadillo Roast. Quite truthfully, some nights we were too lazy to clean up. On one such occasion, two graduate students from Gainesville were visiting, bringing a fresh supply of spirits, and we had a gala party; but no one cleaned up. The next day Fairbanks arose first to find the mess in the dining trailer; he mopped the sticky floors, threw out the empty bottles, and generally cleaned up. To say he was mad at us is an understatement; all day we walked in fear. In the ensuing days the heat, cramped living quarters, and boring archaeology simply acerbated the situation.
About that time two things happened. First, Curt Peterson plucked a gold bead out of the shaker screen, bringing a smile to Chuck’s face, and secondly, we decided to have a party in Chuck’s honor. A glance at the calendar showed that the closest holiday was Jefferson Davis’s birthday, June 3. We bought a bottle of gin, baked a cake, and on June 7, the last field day, surprised Chuck with a martini and cake party. Someone made a card with a ditty, stating it wasn’t Chuck’s birthday but Davis’ we were celebrating. As it turned out, it was Fairbanks’ birthday and he was very pleased, thinking we had planned it all (none of the field notes mention any of this). The association of a party, Chuck’s birthday, and roasting armadillos was made. It would be six years later before the roast was formalized, however.
The A Term 1966 field school was not confined to Fort Center. For one week in late May, Fairbanks had all of us moved up to Jekyll Island, Georgia where Don Harris was excavating the Horton House. We worked with him and gained some valuable experience in historical archaeology. We also got to live at the famed Jekyll Island Hotel as the only guests, which allowed free rein of the place (including the basements at night). As I recall, some extraordinary souvenirs were acquired, including a Georgia flag which was used as a student’s room divider for years. One evening following cocktails we snuck into Fairbanks’ room and short-sheeted his bed. He never said a word. It was only years later that I learned that his son who was visiting for a few days actually used that bed.
During B Term, 1966, Fairbanks held another field school, this one adjacent to the St. Johns River in Putnam County. My information on this one comes largely from Judy Angley and Curt Peterson. Chuck was not well much of the time and directed the excavation via Curt, who checked with him nightly (the crew commuted from Gainesville daily).
Chuck had wanted to dig site 8PU23, the location of Spaulding’s Lower Store, a Seminole trading post of the later eighteenth century which had been previously investigated by John Goggin. Despite laying claim to the site by having a mechanical shaker screen delivered a week early, the field school was not given permission to excavate, but instead moved to nearby Stokes Landing and excavated a prehistoric midden, 8PU24. Ken Lewis later was to do a masters thesis on Spaulding’s Lower Store, using Goggin’s data. Field school members included Curt Peterson, Judy Angley, and Tim Thompson, all old hands at that point, and Pat Butler, now Pat Kwachka, who received a Ph.D. in linguistics and is on the faculty of the University of Alaska.
Several memorable events took place during the field school. An undergraduate student seeded the site, placing an Aztec vessel in a profile from which it was carefully excavated, causing quite a stir until its true nature was discerned. Curt and the other members of the team made it abundantly clear that they were unhappy about the incident and the student was told a portion of his body (actually two portions generally located close together) would be used as fishbait in the St. Johns River if anything else occurred. The individual is no longer in anthropology.
The field school also excavated what they thought was a giant St. Johns house, as evidenced by a circular footing ditch with postmolds. Alas, it was not to be. The field notes for 3 August 1966 reveal the unexciting truth:
“Mr. T… just came by to chat and told us that there used to be a stable in the general area of where we are digging. This might be a possible explanation for the feature noted. He also mentioned that there was a well here possibly in Square 500N 510E or 500N 520E. The stable would date from about 40 years ago and would have a duration of 15 years. The well predates the stable and would have a metal casing.”
As Curt says, they had found a 1920s mule corral!
One other notation says “Mrs. H… came down mad; we had run over a corner of her okra patch northwest of the site.” The trials and tribulations of working in rural Florida!
Stuck in the pages of the field notebook is a piece of correspondence on departmental letterhead which states:
To the Property Owners … The Anthropology Department of the University of Florida hereby agrees to refill any holes dug by its employees or students on any private land and to otherwise restore the area to its original condition insofar as possible. Furthermore the Anthropology Department of the University of Florida agrees to disturb no area without prior consent of the owners of the area. As a guarantee of its good faith in carrying out the afore agreements, the Anthropology Department will post a twenty-five dollar bond with the property owners. Signed Charles H. Fairbanks, Chairman.
This ploy— staying away from the university attorneys and writing your own contracts for field work— was one Chuck taught all of us. A little pseudo-legalese can go a long way.
In 1967, the A Term field school returned to Fort Center, moving into the site on May I. I remember the day well, since on that date, Florida went to Daylight Saving Time for the first time and the crew showed up at all different times; no one was sure what time it really was when they woke up that morning. The field school of twelve students included myself, Ken Lewis, Donald Harris (now a professional archaeologist in Canada), and Henry Baker (now archaeologist with the Florida Division of Archives, History and Records Management). The last day in the field, a hurricane was approaching, and we literally were drawing profiles and backfilling in a gale.
Being in the field with that bunch was an absolute delight, sort of like digging with the Three Stooges. Henry introduced the evening pastime of drinking wine and chasing armadillos through cow pastures in order to “kick the dillo”. Counting coup by foot on a fast moving armadillo is not an easy task.
I can remember trips on the back of Don’s motorcycle into Moore Haven to pick up cases of beer. And I remember trips to Miriam’s bar where we had hung out the year before to dance with the cowboys and Miriam, who wore one red and one silver high heel shoe and could balance a glass of beer on her chest.
One of the end-of-season student field reports has a fake title page and abstract attached to it. It is worth reprinting here, along with Chuck’s comments.
SHOVELIN’ INTO PREHISTORY WITH HANK AND JER by H. Baker and J.T. Milanich (Charts by H. Baker; Errors by J. Middenditch)
“A family that digs together swigs together”–Claude Kirk
Abstract: We all went down to Ft. Center on May Day to learn how to dig and things and be real archaeologists- We went right to work and the first day or so we started digging a long, narrow, deep ditch across this other ditch that was all ready ther (sic) but wasn’t as deep as ours or had such straight sides. Why, ours was fun just to lie in and look up those sides at the sky. Any hows we dug it and then when we was done Hank, you know Hank, he looked around and, Zowie! There it was in our ditch, another ditch besides the one we dug in. One week on the site and all ready we was up against the dark unknown, but archaeology is like that. Well, that weekend we all went into town and got drunk up and coming back that night Hank got lost in the woods. Sunday morning he came wandering into camp and told us he slept it off in a little ditch out in the woods. We didn’t know about no little ditch that came all of the way to the top of the ground so we went out to look and sure enough, there it was right under where he slept. So we had to go out and dig in that one and the big one besides it. it got to be like on the chain gang and all. But we overcame that dark unknown and dug them. One day Hank was practicing to see if he could walk backwards from the first place we dug to the second place. He finally made it and when he did he noticed that the ditches in the ground were reversed. It seems we always turned around coming back and forth between and the big ditch was always on your right. We finally figured out that the reason for all of this was that the equator ran right smack dab between the two excavations. You can read all about it in our paper. Yours sincerely, Hank and Jer.
Fairbanks’ handwritten comments: “As I said to the Dean, ‘Shucks, E.L., we shouldn’t ought to throw them out of this here school. Let’s just flunk ’em and transfer ’em to Dairy Science for a while. They seem to have a knack for shovelin’.’ But he wouldn’t listen to me, none.”
And that abstract is almost the true story of how it was discovered that there were three, not one, large circular ditches at the Fort Center site and that two of them crossed, one stratigraphically over the other. Fairbanks’ version of this incident was quoted by Bill Sears in his Fort Center book. All three ditches, which appear as the upper portion of a giant happy face, are apparent in an aerial photograph in the same book (pages 177-178 and Figures 1 and 2).
On a really big Fort Center night out we might go as far as Belle Glade to hang out in bars. We were almost run out of town once for buying beer for migrants who were not served in the package stores or bars. And once Don and I were captured by the sheriff’s department because we resembled two desperados who had held up a bar sometime before. It turned out that the resemblance was simply that we looked like 1960s hippies and were on a motorcycle. I guess we all did look alike.
The 1967 excavation was a highlight of my life, because it was after a particularly notable drunk followed by a painful and not too private night of puking (nothing like life in a small trailer where your friends can cheer you on) that I gave up smoking for life. I also broke my watch that night and have not worn one since.
The next year (1968) at the annual meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society, Fairbanks literally forced me to write and deliver a paper on the Fort Center site. It was my debut and I was scared to death. What Fairbanks did not tell me was that Bill Sears was going to sit right down front listening to my every word. I nearly died.
In 1968 the anthropology department moved to the old student union which had been remodeled into classrooms and offices and laboratories. Various departments were assigned specific rooms. However, it turned out there were some rooms (including closets) that were unassigned. Chuck had me and another student go to the hardware store and purchase hasps and padlocks and put them on doors of unassigned rooms (and a few that were assigned). This led to intense bruhahas with the departments of communication sciences and romance languages. We lost the former and won the latter. For years graduate assistants used two broom-closet size rooms in the building as office space (but they had windows!).
Two other classic Fairbanks stories surround that building. One day while crossing Buckman Drive right in front of the building, Chuck was almost run down by an energetic bicyclist who proceeded to berate Chuck for being in the way. Chuck took a grip on the kid’s handle bars and kicked his spokes in.
Fairbanks loved to go to Starke to the surplus warehouse and buy things for the department. We took great joy in going along and selecting neat stuff that we thought we might someday be able to use in the field. On one trip we picked up a small cart on wheels with two shelves. It became a popular piece of equipment in the laboratory for moving cases of Cokes and the like. In the evenings, while using the laboratory to study for Bill Maples’ osteology course, we often used the cart as a stand for skulls filled with popcorn.
One morning Fairbanks asked us what we had done with the cart; it was gone. We of course denied all knowledge and he sent us on a building tour to see if we could locate it. Sure enough, we found it on the fourth floor where electricians were using it to transport fifteen to twenty reels of different colored wires. We cheerfully reported this to Fairbanks and then stood back to see what would happen next. We were not disappointed. Fairbanks first called the campus police and reported a valuable table/cart stolen by the electricians. He then walked up to the fourth floor and calmly held the loose end from each reel and threw the reels down the stairwell, unrolling all of them and snarling the wires in a hopeless mess. He then instructed us to carry the cart back downstairs. We loved it.
The 1968 field school had fourteen participants and lasted the entire summer term. In early May we began excavating site 8AL27 under the future infamous I-75 reststop on the north side of Paynes Prairie. We moved on to 8AL48 near Levy Lake. Both of those investigations provided data for a portion of my masters thesis. Still later we moved to 8AL83. Barbara Purdy was another one of the graduate students on the field school as was Stuart McRae, now anthropologist at Santa Fe Community College , and Randy Nimnicht, now director of the Museum of the Historical Association of South Florida in Miami.
Toward the end of July, Fairbanks divided us up and took his group to excavate the Kingsley slave cabins on Fort George Island near Jacksonville and leaving me to dig a burial mound, 8AL120, in someone’s backyard on Millhopper Road. I had never dug a mound before and this was not the one on which to learn.
The mound was within a garden and was surrounded by an electric fence which shocked us every morning before the landowner awoke and turned off the current. Also, the mound had been used as a final resting place for the family’s many pets. My field notes show three buried dogs (I vividly remember the third one, which was in the process of decomposing), something that might have been a goat, and a chicken with a USDA metal legband. Burial of the pets had jumbled the stratigraphy and I never determined who built the mound or when. When we backfilled, we added several weeks of empty soda bottles and thousands of shells from boiled peanuts, our dietary mainstay at the time.
One of the initiation rites every archaeology graduate student went through in the 1960s was attending his or her first Southeastern Archaeological Conference. Fairbanks was of course a major figure in southeastern archaeology and he took us along to meet other such figures. It did not take students long to realize that the SEAC was quite a conference with a party that went on continually.
The conference meets every year. In the past every other year it was held in Macon, Georgia, at the Ambassador Motel (with attached Dutch Pantry restaurant). I can never pass a Dutch Pantry without remembering Macon. My first SEAC was at Macon in 1967 (a check of the attendees list shows Judy Bense and Bill Marquardt were also there; we were all kids). I was the only student from UF who attended (at least according to list) and I shared a room with Fairbanks, something I did at subsequent meetings until I had completed my dissertation in 1971. It was very disconcerting to walk into the Ambassador Motel bathroom in the morning and find your major professor smoking a cigarette while sitting on the john. Fairbanks also had a habit of waking up at night and having a Phillip Morris Commander which he ignited with his giant zippo lighter. The noise of the lighter always woke me up and that and the night life left me exhausted after every meeting.
My second SEAC was also in Macon (in 1969) and I was joined by Sam Smith, then a graduate student and now historic archaeologist for the State of Tennessee. The 1970 meeting was in Columbia, South Carolina, and the 1971 back at the Ambassador. At both of those there were at least ten past or present Fairbanks students and we always had a good time. And we still do, except now the UF-related contingent is about five times as large.
By 1969 the University of Florida had begun its doctoral program in anthropology and the numbers of students in archaeology increased. The field school that year was held at the Melton mound (8AL7), a site off, Kincaid Road southeast of Gainesville. The field school started on April Fools Day and ended in early June. Sam Smith, a participant, used the data for his masters project.
Other participants included Stephen Cumbaa, who later received his Ph.D. and works in Canada; Carl McMurray, now archaeologist with the Florida Division of Archives, History and Records Management; Betsy Reitz, now assistant professor at the University of Georgia; and Karen Shelley, who went on to a career in cultural anthropology. In addition, Robert Allen, son of Ross Allen and brother of Tom, and Gail Gillespie, of Hogtown Cloggers and Bucksnort Band fame, were participants, as was David Clampett, one of the funniest people who has ever lived. David’s most memorable moment was in the evening class Chuck taught on field and laboratory methods. After a hard day digging, we students often grew heavy-lidded in class. David apparently dozed off and was dreaming about Captain Marvel when Fairbanks, in the context of a lecture on metal conservation, said rather loudly, “Marvathane” (the brand name of a polyurethane preservative). This must have fit right into David’s dream because he sat up and said (just as loudly and with his eyes closed), “Shazam!” The whole field school went pretty much like that.
Another notable student on this field school was Kathleen Deagan (who received a B+ on her field report). Kathy has never been famous for her navigation abilities and at one place in her field paper Fairbanks drew a little figure in red ink in the margin so that in the future the student would know what direction northeast was relative to the compass. My favorite line in undergraduate Deagan’s paper is, “While this (scattered sherds in the mound fill) may have been a feature of the mortuary complex, it also seems plausible that the poor preservation qualities of the soil in the area contributed to the disintegration (sic) of pottery included in the fill, rather than the sherds themselves being randomly included” (page 8). Fairbanks’ droll margin comment: “No, pottery is pretty permanent.” Hey, we have all learned a lot.
In mid-April and for the remainder of the trimester, Fairbanks sent me down to Sarasota to excavate a burial mound, the Yellow Bluffs-Whittaker site (8SO4), on the old Palmer estate. The Sarasota Historical Commission had set up the excavation because the mound was going to be destroyed by condominium construction. Fairbanks told Carl McMurray to accompany me, and it was arranged that we would stay at New College, then a hotbed of radical and intelligent students. Indeed, our labor force was a combination of New College students and retirees from a condo near the site. Later, Fairbanks sent several more students from the field school down to help and at one point the entire field school came down to visit (sans Chuck).
To say things were wild is an understatement. Carl and I had a decade’s worth of adventures in ten weeks. Because this paper is about field schools and because most of the principals are still around (mainly Carl and me), I will save those stories for another time.
One incident worth mentioning took place when the Gainesville field school students set out to visit us. They stopped on the way at the Giant’s Fish Camp (next to the Giant’s Motel formerly run by a retired giant from the circus; honest!) near Gibsonton. David Clampett went into the men’s room and found the world’s largest bull frog loitering in the commode, much to the amazement of the students, all of whom tramped in for a look.
Following that Sarasota project, Fairbanks sent me for three months to do historical archaeology in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was in Bethlehem that I first met John Clauser, and we had a thoroughly raucous summer.
The 1970 spring trimester field school was to be a major part of my dissertation research. I secured permission to reexcavate the Richardson site, 8AL100, which John Goggin had first excavated in 1952. The site was located just north of Evinston on high ground off Orange Lake and was great fun to excavate. Both Ray Willis and Bruce Council were on the field school, as were Sam Smith and Carl McMurray. Fairbanks was not well on and off during the semester and the field notes indicate that he was in and out of the field frequently.
We finished up at the Richardson site about the first of May and moved south of Evinston to the Evinston mound, 8MR117. The excavation was even less exciting than the Neill mound several years before.
During the summer trimester, Charles Hoffman, then a faculty member at the University of Florida in the Social Sciences Department, taught a field school at site 8AL356 near Newnan’s Lake. Hoffman had been a graduate student in the early 1960s when the site had first been located and tested, a project which had resulted in a masters thesis by Carl Clausen. Hoffman’s summer field school also tested at the Hatchett Creek site, 8AL357, and the Horseshoe Beach site, 8DI4, where Tim Thompson was excavating. During Charlie’s field school, I was off to Cumberland Island, Georgia to excavate two Deptford sites for a portion of my dissertation work (quite a different project from my proposed one). Both Carl McMurray and Sam Smith were on my field crew.
The next year, 1971, was an important one for the University of Florida, Florida archaeology, and the Armadillo Roast. In that year the first two Ph.D. degrees were granted in anthropology (to Purdy and Milanich) and both were in archaeology. Field school that year was held at the Melton village site (8AL169) several miles east of the Melton mound. The data from those excavations provided the grist for Steve Cumbaa’s masters thesis which focused on subsistence. It was about that time we graduate students were beginning to realize the potential of zooarchaeology, something Elizabeth Wing had known all along. Steve’s thesis was the first major student application; others would follow in rapid succession, reflecting Dr. Wing’s growing contributions to Florida and historical archaeology and the graduate program in anthropology.
While the Melton site was being excavated I was writing my dissertation and often went out to visit the site, which was producing excellent faunal and floral remains, not to mention the other artifacts. From the field notes it is apparent that Sam Smith, then writing his masters thesis, also showed up to work occasionally. Fifteen students were on the field school, including Ray Willis and Rochelle Marrinan. Rochelle, now assistant professor at FSU, received an A on her field report with the margin comment, “Excellent paper.” Rochelle later moved on to Tulane for her M.A. By this time there was a real cadre of graduate student archaeologists at Florida, and many of them were on the field school. In addition to Steve, Ray, and Rochelle, they included Carl McMurray, Bruce Council, and Kathy Deagan. The field school also made a two day foray to St. Johns County to try and locate the site of Fort Mose, north of St. Augustine.
In the late 1960s and early and mid-1970s, Fairbanks’ influence and brand of archaeology was certainly being felt in the graduate program. Carl Clausen (1964), Marion Gilliland (1965), Robert Crawford (1966), Jules Goldburt (1966), Steve Gluckman (1967), and George Long (1967), all of whom were former Goggin students, completed their theses under Fairbanks’ direction and graduated, most to careers in archaeology. A host of new students had entered the program and were obtaining M.A. degrees: myself (1968), Henry Baker (1969), Donald Harris (1969), and Ken Lewis (1969) were the early ones; later people were Judy Angley (1973), Kathy Beidleman (1976), John Clauser (1978), Bruce Council (1975), Steve Cumbaa (1972), Arlene Fradkin (1976), Nick Honerkamp (1975), Tim Kohler (1975), Jill Loucks (1976), Carlos Martinez (1975), Sue McFarlane (1975), Carl McMurray (1975), Sue Mullins (1977), Steve Ruple (1976), Teresa Singleton (1977), Samuel Smith (1971), and Ray Willis (1976).
Kathy Deagan and Ron Wallace took advantage of a new system which allowed students who did exceptionally well on their masters comprehensive exams (now the IBKE) to skip the M.A. and go on to doctoral work. Kathy and Ron wrote their dissertations and graduated in 1974 and 1975, respectively, the third and fourth archaeology Ph.D.’s, following Barbara Purdy (who was first) and myself. Other Ph.D.’s soon followed: Steve Cumbaa, Rochelle Marrinan, and John Otto, all in 1975; Karl Steinen and Cass Byrd in 1976; and later, Tim Kohler and Ray Crook in 1978, and Jill Loucks and Betsy Reitz in 1979. I think that all of us would qualify as Fairbanks old timers. It is easy to forget that there is a similar (and older) group of Fairbanks old timers who came out of Florida State University during the decade before Chuck moved to the University of Florida. Fairbanks trained or helped to train a very large number of students in the three decades he spent in academic life, 1954 – 1984.
The Armadillo Roast, existing only as disconnected thoughts in a few peoples’ minds in 1971, began to coalesce following the field school at the Melton site. Fairbanks invited the field crew, including Sam Smith and myself, for a party (and buffet) at his house. Because it was near the time of his birthday, we decided to surprise him with a cake. As I recall, the two layers of the cake were separated and a small rubber skeleton (something you might hang from the rearview mirror of your car) was placed on the top of the bottom layer. The top layer was set in place and the cake iced. Then model stakes, transit, etc., were added to the top. With great tact and skill, Fairbanks “excavated” the unit staked out on the cake and took down Zone I, exposing the rubber burial in situ. He also received as a present a jade idol (would you believe, jade-like) with golden eyes–shades of Indiana Jones more than a decade earlier.
This party firmly established the idea of an end-of-field school party which coincided with a Fairbanks’ birthday celebration. But there was not an armadillo in sight. The first true roast, the one from which we have counted all the others, was not to be until the next year.
During the summer, 1971, Fairbanks had a contract to carry out CRM work on Amelia Island, a project in which Tom Hemmings, then at the Florida State Museum, was already involved. Carl McMurray and a crew (Mary Turpen, Ray Willis, Bruce Council, and Kathy Deagan) took up residence on Amelia Island and investigated several sites. I visited them for two days and we had enough adventures to last a lifetime. The first thing that happened was the arrival of a fierce storm which drove us in from the field. Someone had found several baby opossums (the mother was dead) and had taken them back to the motel room. In order to warm the little marsupials they were carefully wrapped in a towel and tenderly placed in an electric frypan turned on super low. Alas, the result was the obvious and none of us like to talk about the incident.
I distinctly remember the Amelia Island bugle corps we created: all five of us tromping about and using those bugle-shaped corn chips as kazoos to play “Waitin’ for the Robert E. Lee.” Later the same day (it’s amazing what you can get done when you do not have to be in the field) we decided to take a trip via auto to the fort on the north end of the island (at Fernandina). Our joyful jaunt was interrupted by the local police who took us to jail where a large fine was demanded. Between us we raised about $17 cash; they took it and were glad to be rid of us. By evening when Fairbanks came over to review things we were in poor shape and had a difficult time carrying on conversations with him, but he did not seem to notice. Probably he was just being polite.
Later that summer, Kathy Deagan was sent by Fairbanks to direct a Girl Scout excavation (I mean an excavation with a Girl Scout crew) at a camp in the Ocala National Forest. Betsy Reitz was to duplicate this feat in the summers of 1972 and 1973. They both have some pretty good stories about camp life with the scouts and their camp counselors.
After participating in six field schools plus spending one season in Pennsylvania and one on the Georgia coast, I finally graduated from UF and made my way to the Smithsonian Institution where I had been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship. In early 1972, I undertook a small excavation in the Georgia piedmont at the Garfield site. Among the crew were some familiar names, Ray Willis and John Clauser. Fairbanks, as always, was kind enough to allow me to use University of Florida equipment. During the project I was still on the Smithsonian post-doc; Ray and John and the other crew members were hired by a Georgia county as interim firemen, an arrangement set up by a friend in Atlanta. After the project was long over, I found out we were digging in a different county. I still worry every time I go to Atlanta.
In the spring, 1972, Fairbanks organized his first UF field school totally in historical archaeology. The crew set up shop in St. Augustine at the Maria de la Cruz site, SA-16-23. Those excavations provided the data for Carl McMurray’s masters thesis. Other field school participants, who began setting the lifestyle trends for all future St. Augustine field school students, included Marsha Chance, then a student at FSU and now an archaeologist and museum specialist with the Florida Division of Archives, History and Records Management; Steve Ruple, formerly an archaeologist in North Dakota and now back in school in Tennessee; Carlos Martinez; Bruce Council, archaeologist at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga; Ray Willis, recent (1984) UF Ph.D.; John Otto, now at the Center for American Archaeology; Ron Wallace, associate professor at the University of Central Florida; Nick Honerkamp, assistant professor at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga; and John Clauser, archaeologist with the State of North Carolina. One of the highlights of the field school was the wedding of Ray and Peggy Willis at the site (under crossed shovels).
Kathy Deagan returned to the site (in 1973) with a field crew of grizzled veterans to carry out excavations for her dissertation. Maria de la Cruz has since been immortalized both in Kathy’s archaeological reports and in a famous portrait penned by John Otto, then a graduate student.
Kathy has been in the field in St. Augustine at least a portion of every year since 1973. While on the faculty at FSU (beginning in 1974), she established a model field school program in St. Augustine in the Fairbanks tradition. Fortunately for us, Kathy did not wait as long as Chuck to leave FSU for the University of Florida.
It was following the 1972 field school that the first true Armadillo Roast took place, although at the time I do not think that anyone thought it was the first of a long tradition. Shortly after the end of the field school Rochelle Marrinan and Kathy Deagan were both working with the collections of the Florida State Museum. Because it was early June and about the date of Fairbanks’ birthday it was decided to have an even bigger and better party than the previous year. The call went out for a party site and John Clauser volunteered his house. About this time, Rochelle and other people working in Elizabeth Wing’s zooarchaeology laboratory were kicking around the idea of armadillos and the party was given an armadillo theme, a motif which fit with the old armadillo/birthday/field school stories from Fort Center. Ray Willis baked an armadillo effigy cake and armadillo was on the menu (along with a large quantity of stone crabs that Fairbanks brought; Rochelle recalls that Chuck took one look at the quantity of food, decided it would not feed the crowd, and hustled off to the supermarket with her to buy chickens).
The following year (1973) the roast was held at Carlos Martinez’ house between the spring and summer field schools (one was held each trimester). Someone had the bright idea of making a photographic silk-screen of Fairbanks’ face and set up an apparatus at the site to screen the picture on T-shirts (bring your own). There are not a lot of those now-famous shirts around.
When Chuck arrived at the roast, a number of revelers were wearing their new shirts, hiding them under other clothing. In a carefully choreographed move, they all flashed Chuck with the shirts and his picture. He loved it. With that flash the roast was formalized and it has been going strong ever since. With the exception of the next year when the roast was still in its nascent period (1974, the third roast), a T-shirt has been featured every year since, generally designed by the roast captain(s).
The 1973 field schools were both on St. Simons Island, Georgia. I had just been hired on the UF anthropology faculty as assistant professor and Fairbanks and I had secured grants from the National Science Foundation and the Sea Island Foundation to investigate a number of different historic and prehistoric sites. I volunteered to direct the first field season which took place in the spring trimester. It was not rough duty. The students lived in the employees’ dormitory at The Cloister, a very posh resort on Sea Island; breakfast and dinner were taken in the employees cafeteria where the fare was excellent. For recreation there was the Atlantic Ocean, the Friday night Plantation Night and Cookout, and the Beach Club. It became standard operating procedures to have the cafeteria fix us hot sandwiches accompanied by fruit and other goodies as well as sodas which we would pick up daily at lunch time for the crew in the field. When they started trimming off bread crusts and peeling hard boiled eggs for us, we could hardly stand it.
Sue McFarlane, a graduate student who was doing her thesis on the slave cabin excavations on St. Simons at Couper Plantation, had spent a great deal of time on Sea Island in the past. She opted to rent a cottage on the island, which she graciously invited my family, Maxine and Nara (not yet one year old), and me to stay in with her. A rental brochure described the cottage as:
This attractive two story house is located… only 100 yards from the beach and has an ocean view from the second screened porch. The first floor contains a living room with open fireplace, dining room, hall, telephone room, lavatory, two coat closets, pantry, kitchen, service porch, larder, servants lavatory, two-car garage, and boiler room. Second floor contains hall with desk and telephone, three master bedrooms (each with twin beds), three master baths, two servants’ rooms (one single and one with twin beds), servants’ bath, owner’s store room, and tenant’s store room.
Needless to say, this was adequate for our needs. It quickly became a focal point for field parties for which The Cloister management provided food. Sue rented the cottage again in the summer, 1974, when she and I and my family returned to the island for another field season. A field setup like the one we had while excavating on St. Simons Island may never be duplicated.
There were fifteen students on the field crew that first spring and we excavated the Taylor burial mound, a tabby ruin, one of the southern Couper slave cabins (the S-3 cabin), and completed some excavations in Indian Field. The Taylor mound and Indian Field sites were used by Ron Wallace as part of his dissertation research. Besides Ron and Sue, the crew included Brent Weisman and Carol Faas, now both in graduate school at UF; Russ McCarty, who works in the paleontology range at the Florida State Museum; Mike Smolek, now a professional archaeologist; and Vickie Turner, now systems coordinator for NERDC.
While we were excavating, Twentieth Century Fox was filming the movie “Conrack,” starring Jon Voight. When a giant truck drove up in front of our field laboratory with “Sunshine Productions, Hollywood, California” on the side, we knew things would work out. And they did. The film crew was zanier than the archaeological crew and a great deal of co-mingling of all types took place. The film crew used our field laboratory as their wardrobe room. They redid the outside of the building, making it look like an old farmhouse, even planting a garden and bringing in animals. Their clever set and props people turned the old farmhouse into a church, steeple and all. Unfortunately, to get a steeple they went onto the mainland and bought one from the preacher of a small rural church and brought it back by crane. The preacher neglected to say that the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
To complete the set, made to look like a small town on the South Carolina coast, they also transformed the fishing camp into a general store-in-a-shanty and they built a house for Jon Voight’s character, complete with old looking wallpaper and furniture. The rickety old porch made a great place to sit and gaze at the salt marsh in the evening. They also constructed a frame (with one tabby wall) school house. To us it was Disney Land come true. We presented something of a problem with our excavations, but they simply edited us out. I suspect that they liked to watch us excavate the mound as much as we enjoyed watching them make the movie.
Excavating sites which are producing a great deal of artifacts and interesting features is fun, and we all had a great time on St. Simons and Sea Island. But it was not all simply beach parties and hobnobbing in bars with movie stars. Oh, no, there was also danger. One afternoon while working at the slave cabins Brent Weisman walked off into the palmettos to answer a call of nature. About 30 seconds later we heard him scream something that sounded a lot like, “Rattler!” Sure enough, here came Brent running out of the woods, but with a rabid raccoon firmly attached to his pant leg. After doing a one-legged dance and shake routine for a while, Brent finally freed himself. It seems that when attacked he was so scared that “rattler” was easier to say than “raccoon”. At any rate the ‘coon certainly appeared rabid, foaming, bloody mouth and all. We quickly sent someone to find the film company’s armed guard. He was not anxious to track a rabid raccoon through the woods and besides, he could not find his one bullet. Brent lived and all ended well.
The summer 1973 field school was also on St. Simons and provided part of the field work for Rochelle Marrinan’s, John Otto’s, and Ron Wallace’s dissertations. Rochelle was back from a sojourn at Tulane where she received an M.A. Fairbanks was not on summer salary and we opted to send the students on their own. Carl McMurray and Robin Smith were graduate assistants and crew members included Nain Anderson (now married to John Otto), Shaun Sullivan, and John Olah, all of whom were students at Florida Atlantic University with Bill Sears and all of whom have gone on to become professional archaeologists.
The low point of the summer was quite an incident. About nine o’clock in the morning I was called in my Gainesville office by the campus police. They tersely told me that one of the undergraduate students had been taken into custody by local and federal authorities for violating parole. Later that day Carl called to give me the whole story. It seems this student was apprehended somewhere out west (Texas?) for possessing a small amount of a controlled substance. He admitted guilt and was placed on parole. Many months later he was walking down the street in some place like Tampa with more controlled substance in his pocket when someone robbed a liquor store and all hades broke loose right beside him. His immediate reaction was to run. The immediate reaction of the police was to tackle everyone in sight that was running and once again he was apprehended and paroled. Slowly but surely some great computer in Washington began putting things together and about six months later, Bingo! It was discovered that the second offense violated the first parole and the authorities began tracing the person, by then a University of Florida student.
In true Miami Vice fashion it was decided to apprehend him in a coordinated lightning raid by state and federal narcotics officers on the employee dormitory at The Cloister resort. The time selected for the raid was five o’clock in the morning, time of lowest biorhythms. Sure enough, the joint federal and state force found no resistance when they burst through the door of the students’ room at the stroke of five. Alas, field school students some times get confused as to in which room and with whom they are actually sleeping and the student was not at home. After some discussion, accompanied by a cacophony of toilet flushing, the raiders decided to get everyone out in the hall and sort the situation out.
They finally found the unknowing fugitive, but while doing so they came across a number of cases of illegal cohabitation and threatened to lock everyone up. After more discussion they finally took the poor suspect in handcuffs to the Brunswick jail where they held him incommunicado. Fortunately his third floor cell had a window and the other students could stand on the sidewalk and he could yell at them, giving his parents’ and attorney’s telephone numbers. I wrote a long letter with lengthy quotes from Bill Partridge’s monograph The Hippie Ghetto to convince the judge that if the student were made to live in the dorm and not the Gainesville student ghetto, he would grow up to be a productive citizen. I guess it worked because the long term result was that the judge allowed him to stay in school… Several years later Fairbanks and I laughed until we cried over the mental picture we conjured up of all of the students braced by the police in the hall in the early Georgia dawn. I have also since learned that the Treasury Department’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center is in Brunswick, Georgia. Perhaps those law officers were on a field school, also.
In 1974 we again held two field schools. Fairbanks took the spring one and I did summer. The spring field school focused on Rochelle’s and John’s continuing research at the late Archaic and Couper plantation sites, respectively. Chuck opted to live on St. Simons Island, well away from the students who were again housed in the employee dormitory (after many promises that nothing untoward would occur again). Tim Kohler, Kathy Beidleman, and Nina Thanz were all on the field crew as was Mark Brooks, now a professional archaeologist who did graduate work at Arizona State and was in South Carolina for a number of years.
Chuck loved to get away from the University, especially to be in the field on the Georgia coast where he had worked three decades before. I do not think he was very interested in the aboriginal archaeology we were doing on St. Simons, but he loved the historic sites. That spring they excavated the overseer’s house on Couper plantation and he was in high spirits nearly all the time. There was, however, a distinctive low point that field season and unfortunately it took place the day I was visiting the island.
Kathy Deagan and I had gone up to visit Chuck and look at the sites. I went by the dormitory and was having a beer with Rochelle and some of the field crew in her downstairs room when there was a scurrying of feet and someone ran in and breathlessly gasped, “The narcotics squad is here and they just arrested —. They want to see you.” “Me”, gulp, was me. My first impression was that this was a bad joke, but it did not take long to discover that another untoward incident had indeed occurred. It seems that the police figured that the university students were a hotbed of sin and were paying one of the maids who cleaned the rooms to keep an eye out. She did and spotted a very small marijuana plant in a very large pot on the window sill of one very stupid student’s room.
When I arrived on the scene the police were all over, vacuuming the floors and the whole bit. The officer in charge took me aside and patiently explained that the whole scene was a waste of their time and they would be happy to withdraw tactfully if I would send the culprit back to Gainesville after yelling a lot to make the obvious point. I was happy to do so and the student was dispatched post haste amid verbal castigation. As it turned out this plain clothes officer had been an archaeology major at Arizona. Also, he had visited the excavation in Spring, 1973, and we had given him the royal tour. Fortunately, he liked us.
After the smoke cleared, the student was gone, and the police had left, I drove over to Fairbanks’ apartment on St. Simons to report. He never blinked an eye, but was concerned that I had to have been there. As he once told me when we shared a room at the SEAC, “You see these grey hairs? Every one is one of you students.” But he loved them all; well, most of them.
That summer I returned to the field with Rochelle and Ron Wallace. Ron was finishing his field work at Couper Field and Rochelle continued her Archaic sites. Rochelle went back in the winter, 1975, to finish her research. In the summer we also investigated several additional Couper plantation sites and tested a number of prehistoric sites, providing additional gist for Sue McFarlane’s and Carlos Martinez’ theses. Richard Atwood, who received an M.A. in medical anthropology; Jean Gearing, now finishing up a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology, and Brenda Lavelle, now assistant curator at the Florida State Museum, were all members of the field crew, as was Karen Malesky, who is at the museum in Bradenton. Others of that field crew have gone on to be dentists and lawyers and all sorts of other professionals. It was quite a group.
The 1974 Armadillo Roast was a small one, at least by later standards, and was held at Stone Castle, that funny old house south of the railroad tracks across from the med center that served as home for several generations of anthropology students. All I remember is the photograph of the upside down armadillo-in-the-road that Steve Cumbaa and Nick Honerkamp gave to Fairbanks.
The Spring, 1975, field school was held under Chuck’s direction at the Henderson mound (8AL463) just off Southwest 20th Avenue in Gainesville. The site served as the basis for Jill Loucks’ thesis. About the time the field school began I resigned from the anthropology department and moved to a curatorial position at the Florida State Museum, something I had always wanted. Fairbanks was livid and tried to talk me out of it, but I persisted. As a result he was angry for nearly a whole year. To make matters worse, a downturn in the economy dictated that my vacant line be frozen for a year. The good news is at the end of that year the department was able to hire Dr. Pru Rice in my old line.
Fourteen students participated in the Henderson mound excavation. All of the old crowd was either graduated, in the field elsewhere, or writing, and none of the students from previous field schools were involved. New students included Sue Mullins, now assistant professor at Georgia Southern; Bob Johnson, now a professional archaeologist; David Batcho, a graduate student at Chicago who is working for the University Museum, New Mexico State; Jackie Hogan, who later received an M.A. from FAU; and Elizabeth Fisher, who later received an M.A. from USF.
That 1975 field school is the last which I will chronicle in this paper and it was the last one that Fairbanks did for several years. His health was declining and the next year he asked me if I wanted to run the field school, which I did. Pru Rice directed the Spring 1977 school at Paynes Prairie and that Fall I began the McKeithen-North Florida project which provided a base for field schools in the fall of 1977, the spring of 1978, and the winter of 1979. I know that Chuck missed being in the field and when the opportunity arose to return to St. Simons Island in the spring of 1979 to investigate more plantation sites, he jumped at it.
With quantities of new graduate students arriving in the mid-1970s, the Armadillo Roast became more complex and ritualized. Each roast also had a chief, designated Roast Captain, who organized the activities; feeding two hundred drunks is not an easy task. It was also about this time that a checking account was established to handle ticket and T-shirt sales as well as other trinkets (hats, bumper stickers, etc.) sold in conjunction with the roast. The roast was big time.
Tim Kohler was the captain for the 1975 roast which was held at someone’s house in Archer (see a listing of the roasts). The T-shirts, featuring a single armadillo surrounded by “C. H. Fairbanks Fourth Annual” were hand-screened on the premises. As far as I know, everyone made it back to Gainesville safely. In 1976 the roast was held in the yard of Jill Louck’s Gainesville apartment; the T-shirt, an armadillo nuzzling a trowel, was also hand-screened at the roast. The next year the roast moved to Alan and Julie Burns’ house in Gainesville, with Theresa Singleton as captain. Alan was a relatively new faculty member and the students convinced the Burns’ that hosting the roast was a real honor; no one mentioned two hundred people tromping through your house to use the bathroom. A quantity of moonshine of extremely high proof is rumored to have been circulated at the roast; that may explain the early nap at least one faculty member took.
With 1978 the roast moved to Gerry Evans’ house out on Millhopper Road, with Bob Johnson as captain. In 1979 Alan McMichael, now a Gainesville lawyer, served as captain of the eighth roast and moved it to the Austin Cary Forest off of Waldo Road, where it has remained through the fourteenth roast held in 1985.
What started out as a simple band-level, end-of-field school- birthday party has evolved into a complex social event with an ascribed captain and specialists for cooking, music, T-shirts, and the like.
It is an event with a great deal of tradition behind it. I know that there were people at the fourteenth roast who had never laid eyes on Chuck Fairbanks, but they came anyway. Chuck is on his way from being a legend in his own time to becoming a mythical figure, a symbol of the successful archaeology program at the University of Florida.
When Chuck died in 1984 there was a great deal of discussion about whether or not to continue the roast. The students made the right decision, the one Chuck would have made. As long as there is an archaeology program at the University of Florida and Armadillos grubbing about the Fort Center site, the Charles H. Fairbanks Armadillo Roast will continue.
Appendix: UF Field School History
|R. Crawford||G. Demmy||J. Goldburt|
|C. Peterson||S. Ranck||C. Pebbles|
|M. Stephens||M. Symes||T. Thompson|
|1966 Term A|
|Fort Center||Horton House|
|R. Anderson||J. Angley||S. Keirn||K. Lewis|
|J. Milanich||E. Noonan||C. Peterson||J. Tilton|
|P. Whittier||M. Wing|
|1966 Term B|
|J. Angley||P. Butler||J. Gehan|
|L. Gore||C. Peterson||T. Thompson|
|1967 Term A|
|K. Antoniades||H. Baker||S. Boland||N. Cordon|
|R. Galenes||B. Greene||D. Harris||K. Lewis|
|M. Mahoney||J. Milanich||M. Robert||L. Smith|
|R. Brezina||J. Burrows||Clawson||A. Daugherty|
|B. Dixon||S. Ferguson||Isbell||S. McRae|
|J. Milanich||R. Nimnicht||J. Portman||B. Purdy|
|K. Snedaker||J. Zahler|
|8AL7 Melton Mound|
|R. Allen||D. Clampett||Clawson||S. Cumbaa|
|K.Deagan||G. Gillispie||R. Hoodwin||Jewitt|
|C. McMurray||J. Milanich||R. Miller||R. Mitchell|
|N. Newfield||E. Reitz||E. Rubel||K. Shelley|
|D. Shiffman||S. Smith|
|T. Bernd-Cohen||B. Council||G. Cummings||E. Johnson|
|C. McMurray||J. Milanich||J. Pudney||S. Smith|
|J. Tuffias||R. Willis|
|R. Davis||J. Howard||W. Merkey|
|N. Newfield||L. Smith||R. Weimer|
|B. Weissenfield||W. Woodward|
|8ALl69 Melton site|
|L. Campbell||B. Council||S. Cumbaa||R. Davis|
|K. Deagan||E. Johnson||R. Kemper||R. Marrinan|
|C. McMurray||J. Pudney||R. Sapp||L. Spencer|
|M. Turpen||R. Willis||G. Yarborough|
|Maria de la Cruz house, St. Augustine|
|M. Alvarez||A. Benton||M. Chance||J. Clauser|
|B. Council||R. Gross||N. Honerkamp||R. Lewis|
|R. Lopez||C. Martinez||C. McMurray||J. Otto|
|S. Ruple||J. Sargeant||R. Wallace||M. Whidden|
|St. Simons Island|
|S. Anthony||B. Bennett||L. Dreilinger||C. Faas|
|C. Gaggiani||R. McCarty||S. McFarlane||M. Montagne|
|B. Rankeillor||M. Smolek||V. Turner||R. Wallace|
|B. Weisman||J. Weisman||C. Willis|
|St. Simons Island|
|N. Anderson||S. Chauvin||K. Dohm||P. Hanson|
|D. Harry||R. Lembach||R. Marrinan||C. McMurray|
|L. O’Brien||J. Olah||J. Otto||L. Roberts|
|S. Sampson||D. Simon||R. Smith||G. Speiler|
|S. Sullivan||N. Thanz||M. Turpen||J. Unnever|
|St. Simons Island|
|V. Amanzio||K. Beidleman||C. Birdsall||W. Bloom|
|M. Brooks||J. Burgita||G. Clausen||M. Drescher|
|L. Gresh||S. Hamburg||L. Jackson||T. Kohler|
|R. Marrinan||D. Murray||J. Otto||T. Palmer|
|H. Prine||N. Thanz|
|St. Simons Island|
|R. Atwood||J. Barksdale||D. Baukney||W. Christofferson|
|R. Futch||J. Gearing||E. Hill||B. Lavelle|
|D. Lawrence||M. Lineaweaver||K. Malesky||R. Marrinan|
|C. Martinez||S. McFarlane||H. McKenzie||J. McPhail|
|R. Quintana-Garcia||R. Wallace||C. Welch||J. Willard|
|D. Batcho||C. Colovis||J. Craig||J. Dunbar|
|E. Fisher||J. Hogan||G. Horvath||R. Johnson|
|T. Koral||S. Mullins||J. Rountree||P. Sokol|
Judy Angley, John C1auser, Kathy Deagan , Carl McMurray, Curt Peterson, and Rochelle Marrinan all helped to prod my memory, providing information which I could not remember. Carl and Rochelle also read a draft of this paper. The files of generations of field school students and the notes they compiled from various sites were a great help in determining who, where, and when. I apologize to those individuals whose names might have been inadvertently left out, are misspelled, or whose first names never made it into the field notes.
Copyright Florida Anthropology Student Association
Johnson, Kenneth W., Jonathan M. Leader, and Robert C. Wilson (editors)
1985 Indians, Colonists, and Slaves: Essays in Memory of Charles H. Fairbanks. Special Publication No. 4. Florida Journal of Anthropology. Gainesville, Florida.
Reprinted here with the permission of the author.