Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Earle Bell, September 18, 1975

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Clements as coach

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Partial Transcript: --is an unrehearsed interview with Earle Bell by Terry Birdwhistell, oral history coordinator for the Earl C. Clements Oral History Project of the University of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Bell recalls his early years getting started in the newspaper business, and Earle Clements as a football coach.

Keywords: Athletics; Coaching; Football; Sturgis (Ky.); Sturgis High School

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985

GPS: Sturgis (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.548333, -87.984444
00:02:08 - Clements as county judge

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Partial Transcript: Now what year did you say you came to come to, to Morganfield to work with the paper?

Segment Synopsis: Bell recalls Morganfield, Kentucky during Clements' time as county judge. Bell does not recall the campaign and did not follow Clements' politics at the time. Bell does remember Clements as being very effective in ensuring the welfare of the people during the Depression, and as aggressive in getting things done. Bell names a few public renovation projects initiated by Clements, and agrees that Clements had a big following, confirming his greatest achievements were in implementing New Deal legislation on a local level. Bell was not aware Clements was looking at higher political positions, and did not know why Clements would leave his position as county judge for a seat in the State Senate, but speculates that it must have been seen as a stepping stone to higher office.

Keywords: County judges; Great Depression; New Deal; Political campaigns; Renovation; State Senate

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Morganfield (Ky.)

GPS: Morganfield (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.684444, -87.911944
00:04:44 - Clements' campaigning

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember anything about his campaign, in terms of his campaign style, and how he spoke to crowds and this type of thing?

Segment Synopsis: Bell confirms Clements had a style of public speaking that called upon individuals in the crowd, and had a way of making you feel like "the real guy." Bell remembers that Clements had a skill for remembering names, gives an example of a time at the courthouse when Clements excitedly called a man by name who hadn't seen Clements in 15 years. When asked about Clements' farming career, Bell said he knew nothing of it. Bell had no comment on how Senator Clements ran unchallenged for Unites States Senate in 1944, but did comment on his skill at organization. When asked about the Democratic primary in 1935, Bell also had no comment. Bell did comment that as a newspaper man, he thought Clements was "tops" as a senator, and that his campaign for governor was run much the same as his campaign for Senate.

Keywords: 1944; Campaigning; Charisma; Farming; Kentucky State Senate; Names; Public speaking; U.S. Senate

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political campaigns; Public speaking

00:10:13 - Clements' time in office

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Partial Transcript: Of course, one of the interesting things in, in, uh, Clements' career as governor was his, uh, pushing for an amendment to the Day Law which would permit state colleges to accept, uh, Blacks for post-graduate work.

Segment Synopsis: Bell said he supported Clements' amendment to the Day Law, and Clements' championing of race issues. Clements also supported the creation of the State Police force, and Bell went on to say he supported most things Clements proposed. When asked why he lost his bid for reelection in 1956, Bell speculated that Clements' responsibilities and busy schedule kept him from mingling and connecting with the people. He then gave another example of Clements' skill for remembering names. Bell said he knew nothing of Clements' later trouble with income taxes, saying he remembered it but figured there had been a mistake.

Keywords: Day Law; Governor of Kentucky; Highway commissioners; Names; Public relations; Re-election; Scandals; State police; Tax avoidance; U.S. Senate

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements)

00:14:09 - Clements' political philosophy

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Partial Transcript: Well if you had to put a label on Clements' political philosophy, or his philosophy in terms of a leader, as Congressman, as a Senator, what--how would you, how would you label him: liberal, conservative, uh, progressive?

Segment Synopsis: Bell identified Clements' politics as progressive overall. Bell also said he remembered very little about anything that would provide insight to Clements' personal life. Bell commended Clements on being a leader with conviction that got things done.

Keywords: Leadership; Philosophy; Politics; Progressives

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985