Partial Transcript: --following is an unrehearsed interview with Catherine Hampson, former staff assistant to Senator Earle C. Clements for the Earle C. Clements Oral History Project.
Segment Synopsis: Hampson begins the interview with a prepared statement giving an overview of Earle C. Clements' career during her time in his service.
Keywords: Careers; Democratic Campaign Committee; Employees; Farmers; Politics; Principles; Public office; Statement; Tobacco Institute; Trades
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: Going back for a minute, then, uh, a little bit of background on yourself, you mentioned, uh, earlier to me that you were from Kentucky originally?
Segment Synopsis: Hampson recalls Clements and his position in Washington from 1940-1950, as well as her short time working for Senator Garrett Withers.
Keywords: Campaigning; Elections; Garrett Withers; Majority Leader; Public speaking; Speeches; U.S. Senate; Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: Well, when you, uh, first joined, uh, Senator Clements' staff, what was your position, and what was your responsibilities on, on the staff?
Segment Synopsis: Hampson recalls Clements' dedication and vitality, and the long hours he spent at the office. Hampson describes the large amount of mail that would arrive each day, and Clements' personal attention to all of it. She also discusses the administrative assistants (A.A.s) in the office and Clements' advisory relationship with Gil Kingsbury.
Keywords: Administrative assistants; Advisers; Dedication; Gil Kingsbury; Mail; Staff; Vitality; Work ethic; Work hours
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: Of course, uh, as the Majority Whip under Senator Johnson, he was again, uh, asked to do additional duties.
Segment Synopsis: Hampson describes some of Clements' other duties under Lyndon Johnson, as well as how office staff took care of business during the frequent times Clements was not present.
Keywords: Energy; Lyndon Johnson; Majority Leader; U.S. Senate
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: Then in 1955, of course, politics, uh, got moving again in Kentucky with, uh, uh, Happy Chandler's--
Segment Synopsis: Hampson gives an account of the political campaigns and key players involved with Clements' move to the U.S. Senate.
Keywords: Bert Combs; Campaigns; Garrett Withers; Happy Chandler; Heart attack; Kentucky State Senate; Lyndon Johnson; Majority Leader; U.S. Senate
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: Were there any other senators or--that were particularly close to Senator Clements that you recall?
Segment Synopsis: Hampson recalls Clements' relationship with his colleagues, his opponents, and those he respected.
Keywords: Factions; Majority Leader; Publicity; Rivals; U.S. Senate; William Knowland
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: Did you ever go on any campaign trips with the Senator?
Segment Synopsis: Hampson discusses Clements' time campaigning, describing his style, influence, and strengths with the public and with his colleagues. She also confirms the familiar notion that Clements had an extraordinary memory, often pleasing people by remembering faces, dates, and names.
Keywords: Campaign; Faces; Lyndon Johnson; Memory; Staff; Strategy; Strengths
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: Well, of course, then in, in '59, and '60 Senator Clements returned to Kentucky and I suppose that's when you--
Segment Synopsis: Hampson remembers Clements' return to Kentucky, and his personal and local relationships.
Keywords: 1959; 1960; Bess Abell; Kentucky; Lyndon Johnson; Restaurants; Sara Blue; University of Kentucky
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
Partial Transcript: You know, speaking of the work thing again about Senator Johnson and Senator Clements working so hard. Uh, I read an article once that said, uh, uh, you know, Senator Clements just worked, worked, worked, and him--and working in politics was his--what he did for leisure.
Segment Synopsis: After a brief reflection of Clements' leisure activities and work ethic, the interview is concluded with some final statements.
Keywords: Kentucky Derby; Leisure; Work
Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985
BIRDWHISTELL: The following transcript is the result of a tape recordedinterview conducted by Terry Birdwhistell of the Earle C. Clements Oral History Project at the University of Kentucky with Ms. Catherine Hampson, former staff assistant to Senator Clements, in Washington, D.C., on the 11th day of November, 1975. Well, Ms. Hampson, we'll begin then by finding out possibly when you first met Senator Clements and how you got associated with him on his staff.
HAMPSON: Well, I was associated with Senator Clements all during hisSenate term, 1950 to 1956, and except for a few months thereafter I was with him all during his three-year tenure as the Executive Director of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. And I've always considered it both a privilege and a pleasure to have been on his 00:01:00staff because I think he is the greatest public official the Commonwealth of Kentucky has ever had. I grant you, this might well be disputed, but I believe good effective leaders are born, not made, and I further believe that Earle Clements is one of those individuals destined for public service and equipped with incredible zest for hard work and the ability to get things done. He set the pace for his employees, and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. I can tell you, he never asked a staffer to do anything he would not do himself. In my judgment the failure of the voters of Kentucky to re-elect him was one of the blackest days in Kentucky's history, because he had projected the Commonwealth to a degree seldom accomplished by a first-term Senator. After only two years, he was named the Assistant Senate Majority Leader, or the Whip, and doubtless would have become the Majority Leader. And this fact in itself made his non-return doubly unfortunate. Well do I recall the weekend of 00:02:00July, 1955, when I left the office on Saturday afternoon under normal conditions only to return on Monday morning to find a highly accelerated tempo due to Senator Johnson's heart attack and Senator Clements having had to take over his tremendous duties as the Senate Majority Leader. He was well equipped for the job, and I have always thought that the people of this country rightly felt that they were in good hands. Earle Clements is definitely a perfectionist and is frustrated by procrastination. I always thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the confidence and responsibility that he placed on his staff. Efficiency is his watchword and he was quick to recognize one's potential and anyone with initiative certainly had every opportunity to prove his merits. People seem to gravitate to this man, and I well remember his comments one day 00:03:00when my desk was piled high with a variety of chores to be handled. The visitors to the office had been unusually numerous that day, and he said to me, "Nothing is more important than making folks feel they are welcome, and exert every effort to help make their Washington visit pleasant." Another instance comes to mind when he once suggested that if anyone inquired as to his real interest, I should say he is a farmer at heart. Certainly in both his House and Senate Agricultural Legislative Committee assignments plus his membership on the Senate Appropriations Committee he was in an enviable position to protect the best interests of Kentucky's farmers. I might add that I think it's most appropriate that Earle Clements has since 1964 been associated with the Tobacco Institute here in Washington. This is an ideal assignment for the man who had been the leading spokesman in the Senate for the tobacco growers. Senator Clements was unusually interested in the welfare of his staff, and in numerous instances this interest 00:04:00has continued all through the years since his departure from the Senate. He had excellent rapport with his employees, and he and Mrs. Clements never missed an opportunity at the end of a day to take along those staffers who were available to dinner at some favorite restaurant, usually in the Capitol Hill area. Earle Clements was in my opinion the best friend the Senatorial maintenance employees ever had, and I say this because after being named to the Senate Legislative Appropriations Subcommittee he made it his business to obtain a long overdue salary increase for such employees as the painters, electricians, etc. Earle Clements is one of nine Kentuckians who served in the House and the Senate as well as governor. It is interesting to note that Kentucky leads in these categories, and this of course is no small honor. This gentleman has what appears to be unlimited knowledge of the practical political organization of government at every level. And this 00:05:00of course fitted him perfectly for a semester appointment in 1962 at the University of Massachusetts to lecture on practical politics to students from Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith [Colleges]. In this assignment he was the politician turned professor, and casting aside the academic approach he earned such compliments from the students as, "He had something to say, he makes politics alive." I always regarded his attitude toward politics as that of the good, old-fashioned kind, forthright and solid, never persuaded by spectacular personalities and above all never forgetting his party principles. It's an understatement to say that in every assignment he has held, Earle Clements has executed politics and programs of lasting benefit to Kentucky. And I am delighted to reassure you that my activities on the Clements staff will forever be at the top of my most interesting 00:06:00and worthwhile memories.
BIRDWHISTELL: Going back for a minute then, a little bit ofbackground on yourself. You mentioned earlier to me that you were from Kentucky originally.
HAMPSON: Yes, Lexington.
BIRDWHISTELL: From Lexington. How did you end up in Washingtonon the Senator's staff? Just a brief outline.
HAMPSON: Well, Senator Barkley brought me here.
BIRDWHISTELL: You came working with Senator Barkley.
HAMPSON: Yes. I didn't come with him. Good friendsof his--he was such a wag, and had a lot of very comical friends, always said, "For goodness sake, be careful and don't say you came with him because he's been here so long." They always said, "He brought you up here, you don't even need to say when." (laughs) And I stayed with him. I came in 1940. I know it was a leap year, and I got here on February 29th, and I know I went to work for Senator Barkley the next morning, which was March 1. 00:07:00I used to tell a story on him that the minute I arrived--seemed to me about a minute--probably an hour or two later--he asked me to come in the office and take some dictation--the dictation lasted all day long. I think the speech that I took, typed up, was something like thirty-six pages. You know he was notorious for his long but good speeches.
BIRDWHISTELL: Right. The old oratory type.
HAMPSON: Right. It was a liberal education. But inthat room that he had which was--it was assigned to anybody, whoever was the Majority Leader--why there was this beautiful table, a big conference table, you know. Oh, twice as big as this room--was that room--and the table was almost ----------(??). A solid cherry, mahogany--I don't know which--and all in one piece of wood, which made it highly interesting. And so polished you could see yourself, and drawers all around 00:08:00so that the senators--each one had a drawer, you see, when they were sitting. And I use to tell him--and it was the truth--that if only he had only let me turn around and get a real good look at that table I would have been much more comfortable and much--really--of much more use to him because I was consumed with curiosity. I had heard about the table, you see, before I had arrived. But, no, he just went right on talking so that he used to say that he certainly did indoctrinate me, you know. And I said, Yes, you really did. But then I--I guess I have done a lot--maybe not anything important--but I have been in and out of so many things that I am a little bit hazy on some of these, you know, periods of time. But I think I stayed with the Senator, well, at least three years, I do believe. And then I--for reasons best known to myself--got a job downtown, as we call Washington, with the Stokley-Van Camp Export Corporation. 00:09:00
HAMPSON: It was a wartime job, you see. They wereopening up, or had I guess already opened up before they ever asked me to join their office, an export corporation. They were shipping so many foodstuffs, you know, overseas, and this gentleman--the man who was going to manage it was from California--asked me to come join them. See, Senator Barkley was high on the Senate Finance Committee, and Mr. William Stokley was, you know, deceased. He was considered quite an eminent person to have--kind of very knowledgeable--to come and appear before the Senate Finance Committee on new tax bills.
BIRDWHISTELL: So you went from there to Senator Clements.
HAMPSON: No. I went down and worked for the exportcompany, and stayed with them for about six and a half years. Then they abolished the office; the war was over, and there was no need for it. Then I went with Senator Garrett Withers [then Senator from Kentucky]. You see, Senator Clements is still 00:10:00Governor--or was Governor--at that time. And, you know, you can't succeed yourself. But you do have a sitting duck, or have to serve two years of his elected term, you see. So he had been in the House prior to that, and I did not know him when he was in the House. I knew he was the Congressman from the First District. But I had no reason to know him--being in the Sixth. But, he wanted to come, you see, but he couldn't come. So Senator Withers, who had been the Highway Commissioner--Gary Withers. There again, you are too young to know all of this. So, and I have forgotten really how I got the position with him. That is something else that is rather hazy. But I went over--I was very fortunate as I have always been in jobs. I just wasn't off of anybody's payroll. I wasn't really idle. I closed up downtown and I guess about the next day I came back to the Hill, you see. Sort of like coming home. So, I 00:11:00stayed with Senator Withers for just about two years, and that was delightful, because he was very homespun and real nice.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, then, what year was it you began with SenatorClements?
HAMPSON: In 1950, when he came to the Senate.
BIRDWHISTELL: In 1950, right when he came.
HAMPSON: It took me a long time to get around totelling you that, didn't it?
BIRDWHISTELL: That's fine. Well, when you first joined Senator Clements'staff, what was your position, and what were your responsibilities on the staff?
HAMPSON: Well, that's hard to say, too, because I always thinkthey end up getting mixed up. A Senator doesn't have too much to do with post offices, but I think I did handle some post office matters, almost whatever he would decide in the mail, the incoming mail, you know. It was all opened and put on his desk, and he very diligently looked at his mail, every single time it was delivered. But at first it was just an overall assignment. 00:12:00
BIRDWHISTELL: Just the whole process.
HAMPSON: Just trying to be helpful in all directions.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, when you first joined the staff, who did youconsider to be Senator Clements' closest advisor on the staff, someone that worked very closely with him?
HAMPSON: Well, they all had an administrative assistant I believe thatGil Kingsbury was his first AA. I don't guess you would ever know him, though.
BIRDWHISTELL: Right, Gilbert Kingsbury.
HAMPSON: Did you know him?
BIRDWHISTELL: I know of him.
HAMPSON: He was with WLW at the time.
BIRDWHISTELL: We've had some correspondence with him.
HAMPSON: Now, I think that's a correct statement that he wasthe first. I'm not too sure, but then of course we had John Manning, I guess you know; I think he was Colonel Manning at that time.
BIRDWHISTELL: Do any of the administrative assistants that served while you00:13:00were with the Senator stand out in your mind as having an extraordinary influence on the Senator? I mean, more than any others.
HAMPSON: I don't think so. He's his own man.And I was glad of that, because, I mean, maybe I'm just fussy, but I think if you're the elected official in any capacity, you should be your own man or your own woman. I really do. I think it's fine to take advice up to a point, but after all, you're the one who is going to be held responsible for your acts.
BIRDWHISTELL: Yes. I was going to ask you if fromday-to-day operations did Senator Clements run his own office, or was the administrative assistant put in charge, or did he take a personal interest in it?
HAMPSON: Up to a point. Oh, do you mean, did00:14:00Senator Clements take a personal interest, oh, my goodness, yes.
BIRDWHISTELL: A direct interest in every day--
HAMPSON: I've never seen a man with such vitality in mylife, and I've never seen a man or woman who could keep so many balls in the air at the same time and all of them in their proper place.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did he tend to put in a long day?
HAMPSON: Oh, did he ever.
BIRDWHISTELL: What did the hours usually run in looking back overthe years?
HAMPSON: I don't know if we ever had any hours.And that suited me, because fortunately I'm geared the same way.
BIRDWHISTELL: You just came in and stayed until you got yourwork done, is that right?
HAMPSON: Uh-huh, yeah. But there again, now, when I waswith Senator Barkley--that's why I get a little provoked with some of the people who now are working on the Hill--I retired four years ago--you know, about how hard they have to work. But we never got off on Saturday.
BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?
HAMPSON: Oh, never. We worked--We just didn't think--Because he was MajorityLeader at the time and he cleared his desk of mail on Saturday. It was nothing to leave his office at seven, eight o'clock on Saturday night, and you'd have two notebooks, at least, coming and going both ways, of dictation. You know, so that he could 00:15:00start off Monday at least halfway caught up. So, you know, these jobs are not any harder up there now than they ever were. It's just that a lot of offices, I expect, just didn't do it.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, as you know, in '52 Senator Clements became chairmanof the Senate Campaign Committee and served in that position from '52 to '54. How did this change the operation of the office, the Senate office? Did it have any effect on it in terms of the workload?
HAMPSON: Well, of course it increased it. But there again,that man can meet every challenge that comes to him, and added duties and responsibilities didn't faze him a bit, because he is just geared for it, that's all. I think that's why he stands out in my mind as such a favorite person to work for, because he just does such a bang-up job. 00:16:00
BIRDWHISTELL: You didn't think it hindered his effectiveness in serving theconstituents back in Kentucky?
HAMPSON: Oh, definitely not, never, never for a moment. Infact, I don't think he would have taken it in the first place had he thought it would have, and I don't think he would have stayed on if he thought it would. He's got a great, conscientious approach to public service. He really is the most--and I'm sounding like I'm just hipped on him--but he is the most dedicated man to whatever he is doing or to whatever post he has been named.
BIRDWHISTELL: You mentioned the mail a few minutes ago. That'salways interesting in terms of Senators and Congressmen. Did Senator Clements usually try to read most of the mail that came in your office?
HAMPSON: Oh, yes.
BIRDWHISTELL: And answer it in personal terms, I suppose. Didyou ever get any real interesting letters that came in that stand out in your mind?
HAMPSON: Oh, we used to get so much and, you know,people that were in trouble. Of course, he got a great deal of legislative mail. But it's sad to say, and then 00:17:00when you've worked in several offices I was with before I retired. I was on the House side for twelve years, so that a lot of the Senate work was familiar.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, also you mentioned earlier the visitors from Kentucky andthe Senator telling you to make them--
HAMPSON: Oh, yes, and I well remember that, because they weren'treally too important things he might ask for, or I would have to stay all night. But that really was the way he felt about it. Because, and I agree with him, because those people are right there visibly in front of you, and they can tell in a moment's notice whether they are welcome or not. And I know on Saturday when he had an office over in the Capitol on the Gallery floor, and the beautiful chandeliers, one big chandelier in one room and one in the other, and on Saturdays they would close; the Senate was not in session, you know, they would close up over there and there wasn't very much for the 00:18:00tourist to see up on that third floor. So every once in a while I would open up the doors, you know, and the people weren't even from Kentucky, but they were so glad to see a pretty suite of offices and chandeliers and mirrors, you know, and that made it look like more chandeliers. Oh, but he just thought it was great to have visitors. And he kept the guest books in the office.
BIRDWHISTELL: Right. Well, of course, as Majority Whip under SenatorJohnson he was again asked to do additional duties.
HAMPSON: Oh, yes, you know the Whip helped to garner thevotes, you know, and take the pulse of the other senators. He did a marvelous job there. And of course, really, I just should be over it now, but guess I'll die with it. I have never forgiven the state of Kentucky for not returning Senator Clements, because, you see, he was defeated by a very small 00:19:00figure--I have forgotten now what it is.
BIRDWHISTELL: By 6,000.
HAMPSON: Yes, somewhere in that neighborhood. I saw lastnight--I was looking at some things--and just look where they would be now, because he has lived all these years, and he would certainly still be the Majority Leader, and to me he is so far superior to what they have had and do have. I mean, because his energies are, you know, just tremendous, and he has so much imagination, and he's fearless, you know. By that I mean he is not afraid to try something. I used to often think that in the office he would just rather, including myself, that you prepare some kind of reply if he didn't have time to dictate it, even if they were wrong, because then he would pick out the flaws in it and together with you he could show you where you made a mistake, and you could get this thing done correctly. I mean, as I said, procrastination just drove him, you know, wild. And there again I think that's why we 00:20:00got along so well, he and I, because we considered ourselves a real good team, because I felt exactly as he did, you know, just do something, don't just be inactive, because if you have a problem on your desk, it is not going to solve itself. You've got to do something with it, so why just keep putting papers on top of it?
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you know, that's interesting. I'm sure that theSenator was out of town a lot and out of the office a lot with these additional duties, campaign duties and things. Who ran the office when he was out?
HAMPSON: Well, then, of course it would be the AA.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, then, you all would take it upon yourselves tosend out the letters, the return answer letters that came in.
HAMPSON: Well, he wasn't really away too much, as I recall.But if he were going to be, he would have to authorize somebody to.
BIRDWHISTELL: You know, I read an article once concerning Senator Clementswhen he was Senator, and it was discussing one of his trips 00:21:00out of Washington, and this article indicated or suggested that Senator Clements was very secretive when he left and sometimes wouldn't inform his staff where he was going. Is that accurate at all?
HAMPSON: To the best of my recollection, I don't know thathe was secretive unless there was some very, very vital reason that we should not be told. I mean, after all, they are entitled to leave town for a while.
BIRDWHISTELL: Of course that's a very interesting article--
HAMPSON: I don't remember seeing that.
BIRDWHISTELL: --I wanted to see if this was a general ruleor if this was some particular instance, probably.
HAMPSON: Well, of course I think he was sort of ina class by himself as far as politicians, and that's one word I don't particularly like. But, I mean, there are not many like him.
BIRDWHISTELL: Since you worked with Senator Barkley, and of course SenatorBarkley returned to the Senate during the time that Senator Clements served 00:22:00in the Senate, I was wondering about the interaction between the two offices. Did they work pretty close together on legislation during that period?
HAMPSON: Well, yes, I would think so.
BIRDWHISTELL: What about the rest of the Kentucky Congressional delegation?
HAMPSON: Well, I think on the whole that the Kentucky Congressionaldelegation and the Senate offices got along very well.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did Senator Clements have any favorites among the Kentucky delegationthat he particularly got along with well?
HAMPSON: Well, I don't know. Let's see, Mr. Watts wasCongressman for so long. I think they just somehow or another, you know, sort of gravitated to each other, not for political reasons, I mean, they either do or they don't, and he and Mr. Watts were very, very good friends, and of course, Watts had been in the state administration, I believe it was transportation. 00:23:00
BIRDWHISTELL: I don't recall.
HAMPSON: It seems to me--it was a long time ago.I want to say, but that could be an error.
BIRDWHISTELL: I noticed a lot of correspondence between Congressman Natcher andSenator Clements. I suppose they were very close.
HAMPSON: Yes, well, you see, he was--there again it would bea natural closeness, because Union County was in the Second District for so long, you see, in fact it took me a long time to realize that was no longer, after redistricting. Well, that's when you run into problems, because, you know, your mind is geared to those particular counties and really kind of upsets the apple cart.
BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, yeah. Then in 1955 politics got moving againin Kentucky with Happy Chandler's bid for re-election, and the political battles 00:24:00between Senator Clements and Governor Chandler 90 back for many years, to 1935. I wanted to ask you if the office staff in any way got involved in the campaign back in Kentucky when Governor Chandler was opposing Bert Combs in the primary. I know Senator Clements was involved in it at least partially. Did the staff get involved in this in any way?
HAMPSON: No. You have to remember that so much moremail comes into an office and to a Senatorial office, that really isn't political. You know, job applications and DA claims and just so many other things that you wouldn't call extraneous but just such a variety, and that mail just has to be, you know, tended to.
BIRDWHISTELL: I was just curious if Senator Clements had ever madeany comments to you about the election in Kentucky or his feelings 00:25:00toward it or anything.
HAMPSON: No, I was probably making as many to him.(laughs) And I worked on the Lexington Herald as my very first job, so I've always, ever since I came to Washington, I think, the second day I was here I subscribed to the paper, and I used to say I would skip a meal before I would miss it, and, you know, I kept in very close touch with Lexington even if I didn't go back very much. And I brought him the Lexington paper this morning; I still take it. I cannot believe my eyes when I write the check for it these days, it's just gone up so in price and not nearly as good a paper. I liked the old paper, there again I mean because this Knight syndicate--I just don't understand some of their coverage of things. And the service--of course, they have nothing to do with the postal problems, but it's behind. Sometimes it will be days before you get it, and you get so many when you get several editions, you know, you're just kind of caught 00:26:00up with it, and two or three times I've just cast it aside, you know, thinking it's just too much trouble to read all those papers. But the football games coverage was good.
BIRDWHISTELL: Of course when, as you mentioned, Senator Clements came fromthe governor's office to the Senate and Governor Wetherby replaced him--could you give us any impressions of the relationship between Senator Clements' office and the Governor's office in Kentucky when Governor Wetherby was in office? Was it a continuing relationship?
HAMPSON: Well, I never really--oh, yes, I'm sure of that.
BIRDWHISTELL: We always try to find out what projects they workedtogether on and this type of thing. Was it a close working relationship?
HAMPSON: Well, that's my recollection. I would think so, becausehe and Lawrence Wetherby were always very good friends, and of course then they ran together, you know, and went down together.
BIRDWHISTELL: And I suppose his relationship changed a little when Governor00:27:00Chandler took over as governor in December '55. Did you see any difference in your relations with the state offices in Frankfort?
HAMPSON: No, I really offhand don't remember. I mean, itjust seems to me that we just jumped from '55 to '56, which was so disastrous that I think '56 just sort of blotted out '55.
BIRDWHISTELL: You mentioned earlier the fact that Senator Johnson's illness inJuly of--
BIRDWHISTELL: --'55 put a lot of more work on--
HAMPSON: Oh, my gosh, I'll never forget that weekend as longas I live. It was a gorgeous weekend, and that Saturday afternoon I probably left Senator Clements there, I'm not sure, although he may have left earlier. But the middle of the afternoon--there again, you see, we didn't close up with the clock on the hill. And I just left, and everything proceeded as normal. And then, of course, that terrible heart attack. He had the heart attack about four o'clock, I believe, and of course I knew what 00:28:00was going to be facing me on Monday morning, to go in there, you know, it was hard to comprehend that such a tremendous happening had happened, you know, and here the man that you left on Saturday as the Whip is now the Majority Leader.
BIRDWHISTELL: What changes did this make in the office?
HAMPSON: Well, I mean, first of all, press conferences. Yousee, Senator Clements and Mr. William S. White of the New York Times were always such good friends, and they probably were very good friends beforehand, but I think that just increased their friendship, because Mr. White was just so kind and so good to the Senator, and he was more or less--I wouldn't say he was the dean of the Press Club, but he was very prominent among them. And I can remember the Senator, and I'm sure this is correct, he said, "Bill, you come over, sit beside me. I'll feel much more comfortable," because the conferences, the press conferences were just going back 00:29:00and forth, because Senator Johnson's life was just almost hanging in the balance and just a wonder that he ever recovered. It really was. I say, when you think back to that, you know, a Senator just took hold and just did such a magnificent job, I mean, there was nothing happened that shouldn't have during Senator Johnson's illness and convalescence, that you just knew he would have made a marvelous Majority Leader. Because I think he was kind of like Senator Barkley. I think he could bring men together with different opinions on certain things. He brought them together, and they didn't know they were being brought together, if you follow me.
BIRDWHISTELL: How do you think he went about this? Whatwas it about him that enabled him to do this?
HAMPSON: Well, that is just some intangible quality that you can'tput your finger on.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, of course, Senator Clements was always very close toSenator Johnson after he became-- 00:30:00
HAMPSON: And of course, there again, they are both taskmasters.I mean, I would be the first to say that.
BIRDWHISTELL: Why do you think they became so close--because they hada lot in common in terms of the way they went about their work, this type of thing?
HAMPSON: Well, I guess they were full of vim and vigorand took the attitude, let's get this done. And I'm sure it was sometimes very helpful to Mr. Johnson.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did Mr. Johnson often stop by the office, thistype of thing?
HAMPSON: Well, no, but when Senator Clements had his office overin the Capitol, at least the last couple of years of his term, well, Senator Johnson's office was down the corridor, so of course he would see him more, but other than that, unless you had your office over in the Capitol, you didn't see much of Lyndon Johnson, because he just--it's no wonder that he had the heart attack, because he worked so hard; he never believed in going slowly. 00:31:00
BlRDWHISTELL: Were there any other senators that were particularly close toSenator Clements that you recall that he worked with quite closely?
HAMPSON: Well, now, you see, at the time that he wasthe leader, I mean the assistant leader, Senator Knowland, a Republican from California, was the Minority Leader on the Republican side. And I can always remember Senator Clements saying that Bill Knowland is really a fine person because he was sort of, you know, well, he would just feel out all of them if a bill was under consideration. And he said, yeah, you never have to--you just ask him once and that fellow will tell you whether he is or is not for it, and you just don't have to worry any more about it. No need to ask him, because he's not going to change his mind if he says he's for it, or he's 00:32:00not going to pull any strings or anything. And I thought it was a great compliment, I mean, to somebody with another political faith, and I think the Senator felt that way, and they got along very well. And oddly enough, their offices were next door to each other. Senator Knowland was--I'll always remember him, of course, he came to such a sad fate upon his death out in California. But he was quite a large man, not fat, but just big-framed. And I used to tell Senator Clements, I said, when I go out the door, and our office was here, and Senator Knowland's was there, and naturally I would stand there and let him get by me. And then I told Senator Clements, I said then, I almost feel like I've just--for the rest of the way, I don't want him to get behind me again, because he would just go right over me. He took the longest strides for a man that I ever saw in my life. He could be at the elevator when you were just really turning the corner. But there again, he was very dedicated, and it was 00:33:00just all work with him.
BIRDWHISTELL: Were there any senators that Senator Clements didn't get alongwith, that he ever talked to you about, say, that were hard to work with?
HAMPSON: Well, I would--no, I don't recall. As you wellknow, some of them were probably much easier to work with than others. But I think, as a whole, for a group of men like that, I think he really had pleasant relationships with all of them. And he has that knack of not coddling you or anything, but he just sort of brings you around to his way of thinking. I mean, if his way of thinking makes sense.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you mentioned the '56 campaign as a big event,of course.
HAMPSON: There again, he was deprived of the opportunity of goingback and working in his own behalf. You see, that was a great detriment to a candidate.
BIRDWHISTELL: Right. That's what I wanted to mention to you.
HAMPSON: We on the staff always felt that way about it,00:34:00that poor campaign, I mean, the head man just couldn't get there, and it was just kind of having to go on like Topsy, although it didn't, I mean, it wasn't wrong.
BIRDWHISTELL: So you think that was a big problem in thecampaign.
HAMPSON: Well, just logically it has to be, you know, becausehe was trying to run things up here, and you can't be two places at once.
BIRDWHISTELL: Of course Senator Clements tried to use television, I think,in his campaign.
HAMPSON: Well, yes.
BIRDWHISTELL: --we have a film of the tour of his officehe gave for the campaign where he comes in and introduces the staff--
HAMPSON: But, you see, television being what it is, is helpful,or radio, or anything else, I mean, there's nothing beats being on the spot in the flesh.
BIRDWHISTELL: Right. Did the Senator ever talk with you aboutthis problem? Was he worried about not being able to get 00:35:00back?
HAMPSON: No, the fact of the matter is that you justhope that everything was going all right, and a lot of us, I think, about two weeks before--and I don't know, I'm very Irish--my father carne from Ireland, and a lot of people just said that you're just psychic, that's all. But it was strange, just about two weeks beforehand, you just begin, as I said, to smell defeat. I mean, there would just be something in the air as far as I was concerned, but of course I kept trying to put it out of my mind, to say nothing about it, because I just thought, it can't be, it is my imagination.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did Senator Clements continue to be confident all the wayup to the end, I guess?
HAMPSON: Well, if he was not, he kept it pretty wellcovered, you know.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, what was Senator Clements' attitude toward his opponent, ThrustonMorton? Do you recall him ever mentioning him in terms of how he felt about him as his opponent, his opinions of him, this type of thing?
HAMPSON: No, nothing that I can really quote. I always00:36:00think of that morning--about two o'clock I just went to bed in a state of shock. I mean, you just knew it was true, but you just couldn't bring yourself to believe it. I just thought that the voters of Kentucky had more sense than that, really, that they had enough, more foresight than that. Here was a man in the number two spot already, and just as a natural sequence, I mean, that an Assistant Majority Leader will eventually be the leader. I mean, Senator Robert Byrd, for instance, as Mansfield steps out, as he just might or might not run again for re-election, and Robert Byrd, you know, is certainly practically--now he has presidential aspirations.
BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think there were any issues in the campaignthat you recall that had an influence on the election, that you see as anything that stands out in your mind?
HAMPSON: Well, there again, that's sort of inter-faction, you know, some00:37:00of the rumblings in Kentucky.
BIRDWHISTELL: Within the Democratic Party?
HAMPSON: Well, I mean the party, shall we say it wasnot as united as it should have been. I mean, there was a splintering off, sort of, and that was certainly damaging.
BIRDWHISTELL: So you and other members of the staff felt thatHappy Chandler's role was a prominent role?
HAMPSON: Well, I don't know that we ever discussed that, truthfully.And I think that from that day on, I was so disgusted with the electorate in Kentucky, because I just thought that if you don't have any more sense than that, I just felt like they didn't even deserve him. I was so bitter. I was much more vindictive than Earle Clements ever was.
BIRDWHISTELL: How did he take the defeat in terms of--what wasthe first thing that he did?
HAMPSON: Well, there again, well, I don't even remember that.You know, as I said, just so much water has gone over the dam, and I've had one or two sick spells since then, 00:38:00and, you know, a lot of deaths in my own family, and you just finally--it kind of gets away from you, it really does, and it's just as well. And he is such a good guy for covering his feelings. I mean, he never wears his heart on his sleeve, that's for sure. I just really and truly--I'm sure I made bitter attacks on some people back there. I just thought I would never say the things about them that I did. I just felt that they had let us, let him down, which was just plain suicide, as far as I was concerned.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did you ever go on any campaign trips with theSenator in terms of anything like that?
BIRDWHISTELL: Were you able to observe how he campaigned?
HAMPSON: No, but I would like to have, because I'm sureit would have been interesting.
BIRDWHISTELL: I was just wondering if you had any impressions ofhim as a campaigner or an orator.
HAMPSON: No. You see, when they are out there campaigningI mean somebody has got to keep you know the shop going, 00:39:00and it just never occurred to him to ask me. And I really think that he's just much better at informal gatherings, well, say like if he was sitting in here with us now than out before a fixed audience or a fixed occasion. He's always so informal, and he's at his best then. I would imagine that he more or less tenses up, really, particularly like now, in front of television cameras, and things like that. And I think there are a good many public officials who are like that.
BIRDWHISTELL: I think that you are right.
HAMPSON: And you get so much more pleasure out of beingwith them on an informal basis, because they're just really talking and telling you how it is. There is no attempt to doctor it up or delete or anything. And he's a great storyteller. 00:40:00A lot of people will tell you that he talks a lot, but he is just kind of like Senator Barkley, they get wound up. The old saying is, you ask them what time it is I and they'll tell you how the clock is made. (Laughs)
BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, he has the great ability to remember names.
HAMPSON: Oh, yes. He has the most remarkable memory thatI've ever seen--names and places and occasions and dates. I know he thinks that I have, you know, declined considerably, because I came down last week to start helping with these files. The things that I was asking, you know, and I'm sure he thought a little, well, what's happened to you, don't you know anything yourself. But he was a real joy to work for. The fact is, I just wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world, I really would not. And I have had nothing but interesting jobs in my life. I've been one of the luckiest people in the world, because I liked the newspaper business.
BIRDWHISTELL: Of course you continued with him after he left theSenate as Chairman, again, of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign. 00:41:00
HAMPSON: Yes, and then I went over to Mr. Natcher's office,and that was interesting. Mr. Natcher is one of the most dedicated congressmen that this country ever has had or will have. He, there again, is all work.
BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think Senator Clements, when he left the Senateand took over the campaign chairmanship, did he enjoy that work, do you think?
HAMPSON: Oh, yes, I think so. And I think thatthere--I believe it was fifteen Democrats that were elected at that time. I think they were elected in '58 and took office in '59. There was such as Hartke of Indiana, Moss of Utah, and Muskie and Gayle McGee, and all of those fifteen men. And I'm sure that he had more to do with their election--I would challenge any of them to argue that.
BIRDWHISTELL: So he found a lot of satisfaction then, you think,in being able to go out and get these people elected.
HAMPSON: Oh, yes, and he just dedicated his efforts to bringing00:42:00those men in and to increasing that Democratic majority.
BIRDWHISTELL: Who was on the staff with you that worked closewith him in that position? Well, anybody in particular.
HAMPSON: Well, no, it wasn't too large a staff.
BIRDWHISTELL: He kept it small.
HAMPSON: Well, you know, it was just keeping those fires builtup under those men.
BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, I suppose he continued to work fairly closelywith Senator Johnson.
HAMPSON: Well, yes, because the big goal was to bring themin. I know there was such a fine Democrat up in that small state of Vermont. His name was Fred Fayette. I always thought it was such an unusual name, being from Fayette County.
HAMPSON: And we tried so hard to bring him home awinner, but he didn't. But to elect fifteen at that one time, you know, that was just unheard of, and good men. I mean, Muskie, who was the Governor of Maine. And I shall never forget this Gayle McGee, who was a professor or Dr. 00:43:00McGee then, from Wyoming, and I'm sure he had got his doctorate in political science. And I well remember him coming out of Senator Clements' office over in the Capitol and standing right in the middle under one of these chandeliers and just sort of shaking his head, you know. And I said, "Is something wrong?" And he said, "I've spent half my life getting this." And he said, "But I guess he can't promote my candidacy or something with a degree like that or some title." And I said, "Well, guess not." And he said, well, he just said you'll have to drop that.
BIRDWHISTELL: That's a good story. It shows the strategy, andthis type of thing.
HAMPSON: Yes, and I'm sure, well, I'm sure it's no secret.I was in his office, I just happened to be in there--I think I was looking for something, probably in a file, the day that he--that I always felt that he actually persuaded Ed Muskie 00:44:00to go for the Senate race, you see, he was the governor. And I remember, it flashed through my mind, my, that is a tremendous responsibility you're assuming; suppose he doesn't win. But, you know, he said, "Ed, you know that you can make--you know, my friend." When he says "my friend," you just might as well, you know, just concede and get on with it.
BIRDWHISTELL: Just go on and start campaigning.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, that's interesting.
HAMPSON: Well, he had a great job to do, and I'msure those men would be the first to say how helpful he was, because he had all that experience behind him, you see. They were all newcomers. I mean, like a professor of political science, what did he know about running, I mean, he knew the basics of political science to teach, but he knew nothing of the practical applications of politics. And, oh, he is an excellent senator, this McGee. He is chairman now of the Senate Post Office and Civil Service Committee. 00:45:00
BIRDWHISTELL: Of course there was some speculation that Senator Clements wouldbe named Chairman of the Democratic Party during that period.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did you ever hear that speculation?
HAMPSON: No. Did you ever see all of that newspaperthat was down at the house at his hometown in 1973, when--
HAMPSON: I'm sure that you have.
BIRDWHISTELL: On Earle Clements Day.
HAMPSON: Yes. I went down to that, wouldn't have missedit for the world. And I was looking at it before you came in, there was an article about that. ----------(??) He said, "I am neither opposed nor do I think the job is compatible with membership in the Senate." And that is so typical. "It would be foolish for me to say I wouldn't take it when I don't expect to have the opportunity to turn it down." And just, bing, that's it, you know, just don't bother 00:46:00me anymore.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, of course then in '59 and '60 Senator Clementsreturned to Kentucky, and I suppose that's when you ceased working for him.
HAMPSON: I went down and stayed a week. Edward Prichardwas in the office when I was there, but of course he left right after I got there. Because the Senator asked me, why don't you come down for about a week and then you can decide, because he really paid me a great compliment in asking me to come back with him.
BIRDWHISTELL: Why do you think he wanted to go back toKentucky and work down there and give up what he was doing here?
HAMPSON: Well, his roots have always been in Kentucky, and Kentuckywill always be home to him. But I went down, and I just decided that I did not want to. I really had nothing to take me back there, so I just came on back here, because Mr. Natcher was kind enough, he was just waiting 00:47:00in the wings. He had asked Senator Clements. I had only known Mr. Natcher, really, on the telephone. So he had asked the Senator if he could have me or something to that effect. The Senator said, "Well, it is up to her. You know I have tried to get her to go back to Kentucky." And that was very nice of him, considerate of Mr. Natcher, because everybody else would, if they had a vacancy to start with, they would have gone ahead and filled it. So I went down and I came back, so I called him and told him I wasn't going to go back for good. It's just such a terrible, dramatic change, because I had no relatives there, and by that time I didn't have Potomac fever and don't have it now, but it just wasn't anything there except Senator and Mrs. Clements, of whom I'm tremendously fond, and their daughter also.
BIRDWHISTELL: I wanted to ask you about Mrs. Clements' role in00:48:00the Senator's political life.
HAMPSON: Oh, she was just the most charming person in theworld, or is, I mean that she has been ill now for so long, I almost find myself speaking of her in the past tense. But see, there again, I never knew much in the mansion. But I've heard from so many people that she really was the loveliest and the most charming first lady that Kentucky will ever have, and I can easily see it.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did she often come by the offices of the Senateand take an active part in things?
HAMPSON: Well, she would come by, you know, come in.Sometimes they would go to lunch together and then, that really is the truth, what I said about they never missed an opportunity. They were never happier late in the afternoon than anybody that didn't have something really definite to do that night, "Well, come on, let's all go to dinner," you know.
BIRDWHISTELL: Kind of like a big family.
HAMPSON: Yes. Just people they both loved, and there wasone very good, I think they call themselves the Polynesian Restaurant, but it really was Chinese, not American, over near American Avenue near the Union Station, and we would go over there. He would call 00:49:00up in advance. He made great friends with all of the eating establishments, you know. Then there was another one, the China Inn down on Eighth Street. It's still there, and even the Chinese Embassy people have always said it's nothing for looks, it's just a plain, clean place, but they have the best Chinese food in Washington. And we would all go trekking down there. So it was just more fun, because then everybody could just let their hair down.
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you know, you always hear about senators' wives andcongressmen's wives that don't really adjust to Washington, how do they like it. So you would say she adjusted very well.
HAMPSON: Oh, she just enjoyed it very, very much, and everybodyloved her.
BIRDWHISTELL: I guess they often socialized with other members of theCongress.
HAMPSON: Well, they probably did it less or else you justdidn't hear about it. I mean, they are very home people, and I'm sure they probably did it, but there was no big fuss about it. They just enjoyed their own company. 00:50:00
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, what role did Senator Clements' daughter Bess play inthe office? Was she very active?
HAMPSON: Of course, she was down at school. She wasdown at Belmont, I think, the early part of their stay up here. And then she was at the University of Kentucky. She is always very helpful wherever she is.
BIRDWHISTELL: Did she ever come and work in the office oranything like that?
HAMPSON: Yes, she was over there for a little while, asI recall, towards the end of the whole thing. And she has a lot of imagination, that's why she got along so well over at the White House. Oh, my, she could think of more things. And she loved it. Now, that would have bored me to death, driven me right up the wall. You know, because I'm sure it was just frantic all the time. Of course Lyndon Johnson kept everybody frantic. I mean, he just 00:51:00went at such great pace himself.
BIRDWHISTELL: You know, speaking of the work thing, about Senator Johnsonand Senator Clements working so hard. I read an article once that said that Senator Clements just worked, worked, worked, and working at politics was his--what he did for leisure. I was wondering if really did he have any leisure time activities to speak of. Anything he really enjoyed, like some people play golf?
HAMPSON: Well, now, all sports. I don't think he everplayed golf, but sports, yes.
BIRDWHISTELL: He loved athletics?
HAMPSON: Football and baseball, on, yes. He used to goout and see the Redskins. I don't know if he's done much this season or not. And the Derby, and he has always had two boxes at the Derby. And I haven't been for a long time, but he is always so kind to take down bets, you know, any money you wanted to bet, except in recent years. That's an awful bother, so I said I would 00:52:00just save my money, you know. I don't mind if I can't get somebody to take that money up to that window. I suppose age is catching up with him, he is 79, but my, what a remarkable recovery he made from heart surgery. He was saying the other day, one day last week, "It is two months today since I had my surgery." You know, that is something. It would have been for a middle-aged man. But his recuperative powers must be tremendous, but then he is a good patient. If the doctor tells him to do something, now, he walks to work one way every day and has ever since he carne back down here. It is about a mile. And the doctor, of course, a very fine heart surgeon, operated on him, and he said he told him if the weather should be bad and you have to go down in a taxi and come back, well, then just get the equivalent of that distance by walking through the corridors of your apartment building. And so he does that. 00:53:00
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, that's about all the questions I have. Ithink it has been very good.
HAMPSON: Now, then, we have just about covered the--
BIRDWHISTELL: Right. Is there anything that you would like toadd, any anecdotes or things that we haven't mentioned?
HAMPSON: I don't think so. I mean, I'm sure thatthis isn't nearly as good a little chatter that I gave you--it probably could have been a whole lot better, but as I said earlier, it just sort of gets away from you, and I just tried to really describe Earle Clements as he appears, has always appeared to me.
BIRDWHISTELL: I think you have done a very good job ingiving us some insights into him.
HAMPSON: Because I have nothing but admiration for the man.I mean he is kind, and a lot of people, I mean, in the House and Senate really are not, I would think, very nice to work for. I just wouldn't, you know, they are brusque and cold-blooded. Now, Senator Knowland, for instance, I never shall forget one of the little girls, she was way down on the 00:54:00totem pole. I met her one day out in the corridor, and I just started speaking to her, and she said I'm getting married next week. And I said how nice. And I said I bet your boss hates to lose you. And she said, "That should be the joke of the season. I just went in this morning to tell him was getting married, and he turned around and said, "Do you work for me?" Imagine. And she said just as it hit her, and he said, "Well, I have such a large staff." And she said, well, yes, and she was getting married in about a month or so. Well, that's fine. And she said, "I'll hate myself for ever bothering to tell him. I should just leave." So I just cite that as an example of, there were two men with offices next to each other, poles apart in their attitude toward-- Now, maybe people who had been with him longer, he might--but I doubt it seriously. He was just a--really, I hate to talk about the dead, but he was just a cold-blooded individual. Probably very kind underneath it all, but, you know, just couldn't be bothered. 00:55:00So Earle Clements, if that child had said that to him, he would have said, who is the lucky guy, or something immediately, you know, just so spontaneous. And I would be very frank to say that the problems of his staff members became his problems. And if there was anything in the world that he could do, I mean, if advice--and I'm sure he gave plenty of it, because he gave plenty to me. I mean, he just has this great fondness for people. If he had had a house full of children, he would have been delighted, I'm sure. He has his two little grandchildren, well, they are not little any more, his grandchildren, and they just adore him, and he does them. And I'm just so glad he's lived to enjoy them. And I think that it has been his heartache of his late years since Mrs. Clements has been sick that she doesn't know them, and I think he says, just look what she's missed. 00:56:00
BIRDWHISTELL: Well, I sure appreciate you taking the time to talkwith us today.
HAMPSON: Well, I've probably given you a lot of extraneous stuffthat is of no importance whatsoever.
BIRDWHISTELL: I think it will be very good. I doappreciate it.
HAMPSON: Well, you are very welcome.
[End of interview.]