Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Pearl F. Runyon, March 17, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - First impressions of Earle Clements

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Pearl F. Runyon for the Earle C. Clements Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Runyon recalls some of her first meetings with Clements during his 1947 campaign for governor, and describes her first impressions of Clements and his personality.

Keywords: County clerks; County judges; Democrats; Dinner parties; Hotels; Kentucky Derby; Pike County (Ky.); Political campaigns

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Politicians--United States

00:11:25 - 1947 Gubernatorial campaign primaries

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Partial Transcript: Well, what about the campaign in, uh, the, in the primary campaign against Waterfield? Wh--uh, did, did you have any trouble convincing the people in Pike County to go for Clements over Waterfield?

Segment Synopsis: Runyon discusses the 1947 gubernatorial primaries in which Clements ran against Harry Lee Waterfield. She then goes on to describe her first positions for the administration in the Secretary of State office, how she was approached for those offers, and moving to Frankfort, Kentucky.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Campaign chairmen; Congress; Democratic factions; Democrats; Education; Frankfort (Ky.); Harry Lee Waterfield; Harry Truman; Pike County (Ky.); Presidential campaigns; Schools; Secretary of State; Staff; Tom Perkins

Subjects: Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Waterfield, Harry Lee, 1911-1988

00:20:04 - Working in Frankfort

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Partial Transcript: Well, when you first, uh, went to work for Mr. Hatcher in the Secretary of State office, was he a, administrative--administration supporter at that time?

Segment Synopsis: Runyon talks about Secretary of State Hatcher and his relationship with Clements. She describes in detail being appointed State Treasurer by Clements, and why the previous treasurer resigned.

Keywords: Administrative appointments; Honesty; Political campaigns; Secretaries of State; State Treasurers

Subjects: Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements)

00:26:52 - Clements' legislation and accomplishments as governor

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Partial Transcript: As a cabinet member, uh, during the administration then, did Governor Clements often call the cabinet together to meet and discuss policy of the administration as a whole?

Segment Synopsis: Runyon lists Clements' accomplishments as governor, such as the roads program, state parks program, and attention to conservation. She also mentions the creation of the Agriculture and Industrial Development Board (A&IDB), and reflects fondly on Clements' strong vision for Kentucky.

Keywords: "Farm to market"; Agriculture and Industrial Development Board (A&IDB); Gas tax; Governors; Highway commissioners

Subjects: Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Local budgets--Law and legislation; Roads; State parks & reserves (Ky.)

00:33:25 - State and campaign finance

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Partial Transcript: What was the monetary situation in Kentucky at that time?

Segment Synopsis: After a brief discussion of state finance, Runyon goes on to discuss working under George Glenn Hatcher in the Secretary of State office, and how her role as State Treasurer was significant to Clements' 1950 campaign for Senate.

Keywords: Budgets; Campaign funding; Congress; Finance; George Glenn Hatcher; Governors; Labor; Politics; Salaries; Secretaries of State; State treasurers

Subjects: Campaign funds; Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Political campaigns

00:43:30 - Senator Clements

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know, uh, after he went to the Senate, then, in, in 1950, Wetherby became governor.

Segment Synopsis: Runyon recounts Clements' tenure in the U.S. Senate, describing the relationships he had with many other Washington politicians at the time, and his continued influence on Wetherby's administration back in Kentucky.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Campaigning; Democratic National Convention; Democrats; Franklin Roosevelt; Governors; Influence; Labor movements; Labor unions; Lawrence Wetherby; Majority Leaders; State treasurers

Subjects: Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Political campaigns; Wetherby, Lawrence W. (Lawrence Winchester), 1908-

00:56:18 - Political tension / Bert Combs

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you this about Clements and Barkley: uh, as you point out, Clements supported Barkley all the way down the line...

Segment Synopsis: Runyon responds to the suggestion that there was a level of jealousy between Clements and Barkley, denying that it is true. She then discusses the tensions between Chandler and Clements, particularly the divisive nomination of Bert Combs in 1955.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Bert Combs; Democratic Party; Democratic factions; Elections; Governors; Happy Chandler; Heart attacks; Jealousy; Political campaigns; Political defeat; Primaries; Senate; Senators

Subjects: Barkley, Alben William, 1877-1956; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985

01:06:41 - Responsibilities on Clements' staff

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you mentioned that Senator Clements had called you one night after the campaign--

Segment Synopsis: Runyon talks about what it was like transitioning between Kentucky and Washington, D.C., and about her responsibilities in Clements' office.

Keywords: Duties; Kentucky; Mailrooms; Majority Leaders; Office staff; Political campaigns; Receptionists; Senators; Washington, D.C.; Women in the workforce

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

01:15:00 - 1956 Senatorial re-election campaign

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Partial Transcript: What do you consider his major achievements as a Senator? You know, in terms of representing the interests of Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: When asked to name some of Clements' greatest achievements as a senator representing Kentucky, she refers to his work in agriculture, and for the tobacco industry. The conversation then turns back to Clements' 1956 re-election campaign for Senate. Runyon remembers the staff's reaction to his surprising loss to Thruston Morton in the primaries.

Keywords: Achievements; Agriculture; Bert Combs; Happy Chandler; Office staff; Political defeat; Political organizers; Public relations; Re-elections; Senators; Thruston Morton

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political campaigns--1956; Tobacco industry

01:30:39 - Sara Clements / political philosophy

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned, uh, and you have several times during the interview, Mrs. Clements. What role did she play in the--his political life? Was she a active campaign wife?

Segment Synopsis: The interview concludes with Runyon talking about Sara Blue Clements, Earle Clements' wife. She describes her as more of a homemaker than a political wife, remembering her hospitality. The interview concludes with a couple more quick questions about the 1956 campaign.

Keywords: Democrataic factions; Happy Chandler; Homemakers; Hospitality; Political defeat; Political organizers; Political wives; Sara Clements

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political campaigns--1956