Interview with Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler, June 18, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Childhood home / Family connections

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Partial Transcript: This is Professor Charles P. Roland of the University of Kentucky History Department.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler describes his childhood home. He includes information about his family farm in Corydon, Kentucky. He notes where his family came from, such as his forebears from Virginia. He introduces that his brother died as a teenager, and his parents separated when Chandler was young.

Keywords: Boyhood homes; Childhood homes; Corydon (Ky.); Genealogy; Henderson County (Ky.); James Monroe descendants; Kentucky farmers; Kentucky governors; Migrants from Virginia; US-60

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

GPS: Corydon (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.741389, -87.706667
00:06:42 - Physical description of Chandler's childhood home

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Partial Transcript: Before we move onto some other things, would you, uh, would you give me a little description of the house that you lived in?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler describes the architecture of his childhood home. He also notes where his name came from, that he was named after both a neighbor and the doctor that delivered him. He also describes how his aunt came to live with him and his father after his mother left.

Keywords: Childhood homes; Corydon (Ky.); Frame houses; Henderson County (Ky.); Kentucky governors

Subjects: Campbell, Alexander, 1788-1866.; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

GPS: Corydon (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.741389, -87.706667
00:09:29 - Childhood farm labor

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what, what kind of, uh, farm--uh, what, what kind of crop--what were you doing?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler details the work he did on his father's farm. He also discusses some of the jobs he and his father did around the town, such as carrying mail. He describes his small school class, with only seventeen other students. He discusses briefly the importance his father placed on Alexander Campbell, a minister who helped found the Disciples of Christ. He discusses how his school was structured. He also discusses working at a mill as a boy with an African American man named Bill Blunder.

Keywords: Agricultural labor; Bill Blunder; Child labor; Childhood; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Corn cultivation; Disciples of Christ; Farm labor; Kentucky governor childhoods; Rural labor; Rural mail carriers; Tobacco cultivation

Subjects: Campbell, Alexander, 1788-1866.; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Education--Kentucky; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

00:18:57 - High school experience--Grades, sports, discipline, and romance

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Partial Transcript: Your, uh, your grades in school, you mentioned them a minute ago.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his high school experience. He discusses being a good student interested in history and political science, as well as his love of poetry. Chandler also notes that his father was not supportive of Chandler playing any sports in high school apart from baseball. He discusses being named captain of his high school baseball team. He also describes his own lack of disciplinary issues during high school, noting he never drank, smoked, or gambled. He also explains not being involved in any high school romances, despite being interested in several girls.

Keywords: Baseball; High school romance; Kentucky governor childhoods; Kentucky high school sports; Kentucky high schools; Reading; Romance; School grades; School subjects

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Education--Kentucky; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

00:27:38 - Chandler's father

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Partial Transcript: What, uh--(clears throat)--i, i, if you had no, uh, girlfriends and uh--what, what kind of, uh, oh, entertainment, uh, do you recall from your high school days, uh?

Segment Synopsis: While the question is around Chandler's entertainment as a child, it quickly becomes a discussion over his father's personality and personal life. He notes his father as a sober and religious man. He discusses his father's remarriage by the time Chandler was a young man and the lives of his step-siblings.

Keywords: Chandler's father; Divorcees; Joseph Chandler; Joseph Chandler personality; Mixed-families; Personality; Remarriages

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

00:33:29 - Childhood activities

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Partial Transcript: Governor, if I could go back to, uh, to some of your other activities in childhood for just a minute, you told me about, about working, uh, suckering tobacco, and so forth--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler describes what he did for fun as a child. He notes that he played baseball when he could. He also played a version of hockey known as "shinny." Chandler also goes into detail about swimming excursions at a muddy pond called Wilson's Pond, describing it as "mud crawling."

Keywords: Baseball; Childhood; Chores; Kentucky governor childhoods; Shinny (Hockey); Swimming; Wilson's Pond

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

00:36:08 - Interest in reading

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Partial Transcript: Uh, did you read as a child?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses what he read when he was younger. He notes being required to read "Black Beauty" for school. He places more emphasis on his interest in reading poetry. He discusses reading history books and newspapers, as much as could be available during that time.

Keywords: Black Beauty (Book); Edgar Allen Poe; History books; Hobbies; Louisville Courier; Louisville Journal; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Newspapers; Oliver Wendell Holmes; Poetry; Reading

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

00:41:39 - Friends

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Partial Transcript: Are there any of your playmates, uh, say, from your earlier years, still alive--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler describes a couple of friends from his childhood that are still alive. He gives anecdotes about them, including one's suspension for gambling at Georgetown College.

Keywords: Childhood; Childhood friends; Childhood gambling; David Owen Stapp; Gambling; John Garner

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

00:46:41 - Bible reading and childhood religion / His father's influence

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Partial Transcript: You said you read the Bible as a child.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses the role of the Bible and religion in his childhood. He particularly notes the importance his father placed on their Christian faith. He discusses how this became his entry into singing through the church choir. Chandler also discusses his father's philosophy on discipline, noting getting whipped with a switch should he misbehave. Chandler claims he was never involved in fights as a child. He notes that his father was a big reader as well.

Keywords: Bible reading; Childhood fights; Childhood religion; Choirs; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Churches; Disciples of Christ; Discipline; Religion; Sunday school; The Bible; Whippings

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

00:51:38 - Chandler's father's political heroes and beliefs

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Partial Transcript: Uh, who--did--who were his heroes? Did he have any historic--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler describes his father's political heroes, noting his father's almost lifelong affiliation with the Democratic Party. He says his father only wavered by supporting Eisenhower. Chandler also discusses his father's opposition to the power of corporations, explaining his support for the Democrats.

Keywords: Anti-corporation Democrats; Democrats; Goebel assassination; High school yearbooks; Kentucky Democrats; Political beliefs; Political heroes

Subjects: Beckham, John Crepps Wickliffe, 1869-1940; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Clark, Bennett Champ, 1890-1954.; Clark, Champ, 1850-1921.; Goebel, William, 1856-1900; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

01:00:57 - Origins of his personality / Temperament from childhood

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Partial Transcript: In, inasmuch as you know, and can determine, Governor Chandler, what--uh, from which of your parents, uh, do you inherit your emotions, your temperament, and so forth?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses how his personality was influenced by his mother. He notes how he found her after she left his family and remarried and had another family in Florida. He then notes how his father played a role in his upbringing, as well as paying for his father's final expenses. Roland and Chandler discuss how Chandler ended up with the nickname of "Happy" despite a traumatic childhood. Chandler notes the power of his strong religious convictions, especially inherited from his father.

Keywords: Childhood development; Childhoods; Divorces; Jacksonville (Fla.); Kentucky governors childhoods; Parental separation; Personalities; Religious convictions; Temperaments

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Roland, Charles Pierce, 1918-

GPS: Jacksonville (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 30.336944, -81.661389