Interview with Rose-Bel Thompson, January 13th, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Earle Clements as a football coach

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Ms. Rose-Bel Thompson for the Earle C. Clements Oral History Project of the University of Kentucky Library.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson begins the interview by recounting Clements' time as a football coach, including a championship win in 1926.

Keywords: 1926; Championships; Coaching; Football coaches

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

GPS: Morganfield (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.684444, -87.911944
00:01:36 - Early political career in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And he was, uh--now he served as county clerk and sheriff, and then as county judge.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson talks about Clements' early political career as county clerk then county judge, during the Great Depression. She talks about how this affected his later political career, and talks about his time in the state senate.

Keywords: 1942; 1944; Campaigning; County clerks; County judges; Courthouses; Economic depressions; Farming; Public works; Sheriffs; State senators

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Union County (Ky.)

00:05:47 - Political campaigns

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Partial Transcript: Well, going on to the 1944 campaign, then, uh, where he ran for the, uh, United States Congress.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson recalls Clements' campaigns for governor and Congress, calling attention to his skills in public speaking, and his extraordinary knack for remembering people's names and faces.

Keywords: B.M. Vincent; Camp Breckinridge (Ky.); Campaign for governor; Campaign for senator; Campaign organizers; Faces; Gubernatorial campaign; Memory; Names; Public relations; Public speaking; Senatorial campaign; Speeches

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

00:11:16 - Staff and advisers in Washington

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Partial Transcript: Well, when you first joined his staff here in Washington, in, uh, in 1944, I guess you came to Washington in the first of the year of '45.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson describes Clements' staff, her place in it, and the many advisers and contacts that Clements quickly made upon arriving in Washington.

Keywords: 1944; 1947; Advisers; Alben Barkley; Clinton Anderson; Happy Chandler; House of Representatives; Joe Bates; Kentucky Delegation; Noble Gregory; Receptionists; Secretary; Staff; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; United States. Congress--History--20th century

00:15:38 - Clements as a manager / meeting the public

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Partial Transcript: Well, in terms of the office, uh, I've been told by, uh, others that served on his staff later in the Senate that, uh, he had things very well-organized in the office...

Segment Synopsis: Thompson gives an account of her duties in the office, of Clements' managing style, and his work in the summer meeting with the people of his district.

Keywords: Lyndon Johnson; Mail; Majority Leader; Management; Office; Organization; Public relations; Summer tours

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

00:17:49 - More on political campaigns

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Partial Transcript: Uh, when did, uh, uh, Senator Clements first indicate to you that he was going to run for governor?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson explains Clements' decisions to run for his many political offices, of the differences between them, and her role as Clements' secretary. She also describes her necessary closeness to Clements' personal circle of friends.

Keywords: Campaign for governor; Friends; Gubernatorial campaign; House of Representatives; Kentucky State Senate; Political offices; Scheduling; Secretary; U.S. Senate

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

00:22:40 - Leaving Clements' staff / return to Washington

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Partial Transcript: Now, of course, uh, you only stayed in Frankfort six months on his staff, then you returned to Washington?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson recalls Clements' return to Frankfort, and her decision to return to Washington to join the Senate staff, her connections to both political parties, and her preference for working in the House of Representatives.

Keywords: 1947; 1952; 1954; 1955; 1957; Dwight Eisenhower; Frankfort (Ky.); House of Representatives; John Whitaker; Lyndon Johnson; Majority Leader; U.S. Senate; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; United States. Congress--History--20th century

00:29:06 - Responsibilities and office management

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Partial Transcript: Did, uh, him having these responsibilities, uh, purge his, uh, uh, effectiveness of him as a senator of Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson gives an overview of Clements' management style, his numerous responsibilities to state and federal offices and the public, and his relationship with his staff. A brief description of his committee appointments follows, as well as a few comments on his boundaries and personal privacy, with Thompson commenting that Clements was a "hard man to know."

Keywords: Agriculture; Bess Abell; Committees; Efficiency; Entertaining; Friends; Hours; House of Representatives; Kentucky; Kentucky State Senate; Mail; Meetings; Office relations; Personalities; Politics; Privacy; Public works; Restaurants; Secrecy; Secretaries; Staff; U.S. Senate; Work ethic

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

00:37:18 - Later campaigns and political defeat

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Partial Transcript: 'Course, um, after Barkley returned to the Senate, uh, was there much interaction between Senator Clements and Senator Barkley, uh, uh, up until Barkley's death?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson discusses Clements' loss to Thruston Morton in the Senatorial race of 1956, and Clements' reaction to political loss, recalling the shock of his loss and him having to layoff his office staff.

Keywords: 1955; 1956; Alben Barkley; Campaign for governor; Defeat; Gubernatorial campaign; Happy Chandler; Lawrence Wetherby; Layoffs; Opponents; Political losses; Publicity; Re-election; Television; Tours; U.S. Senate

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; United States. Congress--History--20th century

00:44:32 - Later years / conclusion

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Partial Transcript: And then at this--about--along this time, uh, the, uh, situation came up about his tax payments, uh, on his income tax.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson describes Clements' later years, including the income tax case he faced in 1963, his later positions as consultant for the American Merchant Marine Institute from 1961-1963, his (then current) position as a lobbyist for the Tobacco Institute, and how he spent his leisure time.

Keywords: American Merchant Marine Institute; Clements tax case; Family; Farming; Fishing; Horse racing; Kentucky Derby; Leisure; Lobbyists; Publicity; Sara Blue; Scandals; Support; Tax returns; Tobacco Institute

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