In the beginning ….

dave hogerty (((video)))
alligator photographs (1979-1982)


Vol.1 No.1
September 24, 1912
1912  — Just months before the University of Florida published the first edition of The Florida Alligator, Henry Morrison Flagler (above wearing the white skimmer hat), arrived in Key West, January 22, aboard his Overseas Railroad. Later that year (September 24), The University of Florida printed the first issue of its daily newspaper, The Florida Alligator.

fulton archives

is this the end?
2022 One hundred years later, looking at the Independent Florida Alligator’s 2023 New Student Edition, it was more than sad to see no photograph on the front page, and the lead story lauding a number of UF alum who were working on Florida Governor Ron (look-on-the-bright-side-of-slavery) DeSantis‘ presidential campaign.

And for good right-wing, Christian measure, the main (Welcome To Gainesville) story was written by retired, Nebraska, Donald Trump-supporting, US Senator Ben Sasse, DeSantis’ hand-picked, next-in-line, University of Florida president. What’s Wrong With The Alligator? Where did the Independence go?

Willy Stower

Three days after the University of Florida published the first Florida Alligator, an Ocean Liner named Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk in the North Atlantic Ocean, on its way to New York City, after departing Liverpool, England.
The story of the unlikely friendship between a young Apalachee chief named Mucozo and a marooned Spanish sailor named Juan Ortiz is carved into the stone arches  (Brothers From Another Florida Time)
& Princess Hirrigua (Jungle Love)
Gargoyles Among Us (Ghosts of Florida’s past) >>>


al diaz

all in the game

In addition to the cheers and jubilation in the photograph of coach Charlie Pell being carried out of The Swamp by his Gators (1980), Alligator photographers Kevin Kolczynski (top left with cap), Bill Wax (bottom left with glasses), and  Tom Burton (bottom right, squeezed between the big smile and the Florida Highway Patrol corporal, are “working” the scene. Al Diaz was also working for The Alligator, and was the photographer, on this day, who got the shot. (Football, Almighty)

The Gospel According to UF President Albert A. Murphree …

Strive for higher levels in moral and Christian character, and do not surrender to low and insidious temptations.”

So “advised” University of Florida president A.A. Murphree in his opening speech to the class of 1912. The students were 400 young, white men who were in Gainesville to attend one what Murphree described as among the country’s finest institutions of higher learning. Every bit as fine as those Ivy League Yankees, where they knew how to row a boat, but who proved to be pussies on a football field, where real men became champions, especially with Jesus on their side.

The Finest Bible College In The Land.
The South Land That Is.

Vol.1 No.1
September 24, 1912


By The Florida Alligator

This year, the enrollment will doubtless reach four hundred, if not four hundred and fifty. This extraordinary increase is due to the “loyal” support of the old students, each of whom has been an agent for his alma mater and a propagandist of the standards and ideals of the University of  Florida.

To the students Murphree spoke words of welcome and of good counsel. He reminded them that while UF stood for “wholesome” athletics, all forms of “decent” student activities, and would lend every encouragement to “proper” student enterprises, he quickly added,”Do not forget, for one moment, that you are here primarily for study, for the mastery of the Universiy of Florida’s curriculum. He urged every student to join the Y.M.C.A., observe the “rules” of regular (at least on Sunday) church attendance, and he impressed, most forcefully, upon each individual man of the student body, to Yield himself to the more wholesome influences of the church and Christian organizations, to strive for higher levels in moral and Christian character, and do not surrender to low and insidious temptations.”

october 31, 1980
vol.74 no.30

alligator file

THE HALLOWEEN BALL — When UF president A.A. Murphree spoke to the 400 young, white men who made up the class of 1912, he warned them not to surrender to immoral and insidious temptation. He couldn’t have imagined the UF students who, since 1970, have reveled in the Annual, not-so-religious ritual, called The Halloween Ball — an event that throughout Gainesville time has been the subject of much of the UF’s most memorable lore. STORY HERE.

“Freedom Of Speech”
Above The Law
Pump Up the Volume (Soundtrack)

((( fighting words )))

The Florida Alligator

Independence Day
october 6, 1971
vol.64 no.12

the list

It took sixty years, but The Alligator (editor Ron Sachs) courageously defied the University of Florida (president Stephen C. O’Connell), and its long standing White Christian rule. Exercising its First Amendment right to speak freely, the Alligator ignored O’Connell’s dictate, with Sachs instructing his staff to insert a list of Abortion and Women’s Health Care providers, arguing that it was a public service to Alligator readers.  O’Connell thought otherwise, and making good on his warnings, he had Sachs arrested, and prosecuted for violating Florida law that not only banned abortion, but also criminalized the dissemination of information, that in any way, regarding Abortion.

Sachs argued that such law violated his, and The Alligator’s First Amendment right, and  8th Florida Circuit Judge Benjamin Tench (Heartbreaker pianist Benmont’s father) ruled in Sachs and The Alligator‘s favor, and  the paper became the independent florida alligator.”

april 28, 1980
vol.73 no.121

sandy felsenthal

caped crusader

A dreary downpour forced Matt Tonoull, a Pennsylvania resident, to seek protection under an American flag during a “NO NUKES” rally last weekend in Washington. The rally was organized by the Coalition for a Non-Nuclear World. More than 200 grass-roots organizations supporting the abolition of nuclear technology were represented.

January 20, 1981

dave hogerty

free at last

An  American flag, hanging on the front porch of a house on the River Road in Rockledge, Florida, shows all the signs of having flown continuously for the 444 days  fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage after a group of militarized Iranian college students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran (November 4, 1979).

November 4, 1979


students of another color

The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic standoff between Iran and the United States. Fifty-three American diplomats and citizens were held hostage after a group of militarized Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line

2023 From printing little more than a transcription of University of Florida president Albert A. Murphree’s admittedly propagandist and Christian-values opening speech in 1912, to defying president Stephen C. O’Connell’s right-wing, religious rule in 1971, and what seems could be a disturbing return to Jesus, today. With Florida governor Ron (look-on-the-bright-side-of-slavery) DeSantis, and retired, Donald Trump republican, Nebraska senator Ben Sasse in UF control, The Independent Florida Alligator‘s journalistic ride has been long and wild. ONE ONLY HOPES IT DOESN’T WIND UP A CIRCLE.

The stone carvings on the walls of UF’s oldest dormitory tell stories of Love and War out of Florida’s legendary past.

september 24, 1912
vol. 1 no. 1
florida history (1912-1983)
Much more than just another sleepy, little, North Florida town.
New Student Edition 1981
OPINION (Letters To The Editor)
CONVENIENCE (Is In The Eye of The Beholder)
Gainesville Green (“I’d like to fertilize her buds”)
TOM PETTY (Coming Home)
MUSIC (The Sound of Higher Education)
PREACHERS (On The Green)
Murphree’s Opening Message (alt.)
Naked Launch (Pretty As A Florida Picture)
Diamond Teeth Mary (Singing With The Devil’s)
MOVIES (Pop Culture of The Day)

— dave.

university of florida

Football, Almighty In the Beginning, The University of Florida Created The Gators and The Finest Bible College in the (South) Land. Football has always been UF’s its athletic department’s game of choice, and the Gators’ participation always got more than its share of The Alligator’s time, attention, and space, especially in the years before 1971, when The Alligator “won” its Independence and its First Amendment Right to FREE SPEECH. 

In 1912, The Alligator‘s interest in the game, was mostly Albert A. Murphree’s, UF’s president and preacher of the time. He was as much a fan of football, as he was of Jesus, and he used The Alligator as his vehicle to drive public relations and propaganda. The Alligator as a serious, journalistic publication was far less a priority for the school’s administration. 

Murphree not only saw himself as The Alligator‘s publisher and policy decision maker, but he wrote many front-page stories, usually lauding the university’s deep pool of devout professorial talent, and of course the Gators’ noteworthy success on Florida Field.

After 60 years, it seemed the administration’s theocratic rule would never be broken, that is until a young editor named Ron Sachs made the courageous decision to challenge then UF president Stephen C. O’Connell’s Christian Values approach to “journalism.”

In 1971, young men, the same age as Sachs, were killing and dying in Vietnam, the assassinations of the Kennedys (John and Robert) and Martin Luther King Jr. were still fresh on America’s left vs. right mind. So, too, were Woodstock, Altamonte, and “Whitey On The Moon.” Anti-War activists were fighting for peace, and liberated women were screaming for their Equal and Reproductive Rights. America was split on most of the day’s political and social issues, and such disagreement couldn’t have been more obvious than when looking at the relationship between the UF administration (Stephen C. O’Connell) and The Florida Alligator (Ron Sachs), it’s usually compliant published voice.

Ron Sachs had compiled a list of clinics, health and counseling services specializing in women’s care, and he thought it was his civic duty to publish the list, including ABORTION providers, as a public service for his readers. President O’Connell thought otherwise. He refused Sachs request to print the list, because it offended his white Christian values, of course, but also it violated the Florida State Law that made it criminal to disseminate any information regarding ABORTION. He warned Sachs that he would have him arrested, and work to convict and imprison him.

O’Connell saw Sachs as an anti-American, Communist-sympathizing punk, and he’d be Goddamned if he’d let him print such sin in his University’s voice.

Ignoring O’Connell’s rage, but taking his threat seriously, Sachs had to think about it. He feared the possible consequences of defying O’Connell’s authority, but he felt his obligation to print the list, to help those in need (friends, classmates, and Alligator readers), find safe and affordable abortion care.

Both O’Connell and Sachs took their expectedly rigid corners. It was as if O’Connell was daring Sachs to test his Christian meddle, and Sachs, alone in his decision, was afraid, but confident was right his fight for his and The Alligator’s First Amendment Right to FREE SPEECH. 

O’Connell mostly stewed, as Sachs went out looking for thoughtful counsel. He most trusted one of his younger journalism professors, Jean Chance, whose husband was a ______ Gainesville attorney.

Of course Chance and _____ were behind Sachs and his First Amendment cause, and would supported him completely after whatever decision he made. After a three hour, late-night discussion of the matter, Chance thought printing the list was too risky. No matter how right Sachs was in his conviction, law was, that O’Connell could have him arrested, he could be convicted, and he could go to jail.

Sachs appreciated the counsel, but had always known what he had to do. From the moment he started to compile the list, Sachs thought it an important public service for University of Florida students (Alligator readers), and he was going to provide it.

Sachs was arrested, but as The First Amendment beat back the religiously motivated, anti-abortion movement, he avoided jail. He instead took the now “Independent” Florida Alligator into a time when it could speak freely. (story)


Hulton Archive

Florida Time
Henry Morrison Flagler, Guilded Age Railroad Barron and Florida’s first Land Developer, greets a crowd upon his arrival on the first East Coast Railway train into Key West (January 22, 1912). Flagler built the FEC (railway) as a way of linking his string of hotels along Florida’s East Coast, St. Augustine, Ormond Beach, Palm Beach, and Miami. Finally, and most challenging, was continuing south, across seven miles of open, water to the small island of Key West. The southernmost point in the United States, just 90 miles north of Havana, Cuba, had been Flagler’s “moon,” the same as the Moon had always captured the imagination of another of Florida’s most imaginative dreamers. John F. Kennedy spent much of his youth (winters) in Palm Beach at the Kennedy oceanside estate on the island Flagler chose to make his permanent Florida Home, building Whitehall, a white, plantation style mansion, bringing the Gilded Age to the south. 

The Ormond Hotel — On his railroad’s way from St. Augustine to Key West, Henry Flagler made an important and personal stop in Ormond Beach. He built the legendary hotel in 1888, and in 1914, when his Standard Oil partner John D. Rockefeller first (wintered) there, Ormond Beach attracted many of America’s most wealthy, including his friends, fellow “titans” of industry, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison.


florida photographic archive

University of Florida History
1853  — East Florida Seminary (Ocala)
1861 — East Florida Seminary closes (Civil War)
1866 — East Florida Seminary reopens
1884 — Florida Agriculture College (Lake City)
1905 — Buckman Act restructures higher education in Florida, bringing all six institutions together, making them part of UF.
1924 — A number of white women are admitted
1958 — Integration
1985 — Association of  American Universities

The Florida Alligator 
september 24, 1912
vol.1 no.1 — The first edition of The Florida Alligator, was little more than a transcription of then UF president, Albert A. Murphree‘s welcoming address to that year’s new students, 400 young, white men who had moved to Gainesville to attend, what Murphree described as one of America’s finest universities, the South’s equivalent to those more established Ivy League institutions, where students rowed a really mean boat, but they were elitist pussies on the football field.

Murphree’s message was understandably propagandist, but still striking was how fundamentally Christian it was. Murphree preached, more than spoke, and it seemed that he was saying, “yes, The University of Florida was one of America’s finest universities, but more important, an even better religious institutions, or let’s say “Bible College” for the sake of daily-newspaper colloquialism.  

At the time, The Florida Alligator, was more a tool of the university’s always right-wing administration, than it was a trusted purveyor of news, a group of young journalists who wanted to do more than report how UF sports teams performed (some things never change), and to explain (or hide) how the administration (the rule) spent its money.

That’s the way it was for more than sixty years, The Florida Alligator under the university thumb. …