Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Lawrence W. Wetherby, November 21, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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 KLEBER: The following is a spontaneous and unrehearsed interview with former governor Lawrence W. Wetherby. The interview was made in Governor Wetherby's home in Frankfort, Kentucky on Wednesday, November 21, 1979 by John Kleber from Morehead State University. Governor Wetherby, I'd like to ask you about the, uh, emphasis that you placed during your administration on the development of Kentucky state parks, and your opinion of tourism as an important, uh, source of income for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

WETHERBY: We, uh,working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Parks and Conservation in state government, organized tours over the state. We would go to one section of the state at one time, and take some business leaders and show them from west Kentucky what east Kentucky had and we'd take those from 00:01:00east Kentucky to west Kentucky and show 'em what they had, and we would stop in various towns and communities throughout the areas and talk about the tourist business and what it would mean to Kentucky. And we encouraged the, uh, development of tourist committees in every area where we had state parks and told the people what the tourist dollar would mean to 'em. And we used to have a saying that a tourist dollar was much better than a bale of cotton, because you had to work so hard to get the cotton; whereas if you did a good job on the promotion of the tourist industry, you could get a whole lot better results. We, uh, made those tours throughout the term of my administration. We developed 00:02:00within the Department of Parks a tourist promotion group and advertised all over the five hundred mile area around Kentucky, and we also provided a tour by out-of- state sports editors and writers to show 'em what we had in Kentucky. We would take 'em to--for instance, we took a group of 'em to Cumberland Lake and fished with 'em for a couple of days to show 'em our fishing possibilities. We took another group to Kentucky Dam Village and fished with 'em there and showed 'em all of the west Kentucky area. Uh, we had some sports editors in Kentucky to contact the various sports editors surrounding, within a five hundred mile area to promote our tourist industry. We invited 'em to the state 00:03:00parks and took 'em to all of our parks and took 'em on a tour of the state. They were very much impressed with our possibilities and did a good job of writing stories about our park development and about our tourist promotion in their magazines back home.

KLEBER: How much publicity for Kentucky tourism did you support outside the state of Kentucky?

WETHERBY: Uh, only on a volunteer basis, such as that. We did very little paid advertising outside of the state. We tried to do it by example, by bringing these people in and spending our money by entertaining them.

KLEBER: Now Governor Clements had been a strong supporter of the state parks system.

WETHERBY: That's right. (clears throat) Actually, he, uh, picked Henry Ward as our commissioner of conservation and started the development of our overall 00:04:00state parks system. It was during his administration and while I was lieutenant governor that we purchased the property from the TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] that was developed into Kentucky Dam Village State Park. They had all of these, uh, buildings that they had used to house the employees while they were building the dam, and they were willing to sell 'em to us for practically nothing. And, uh, so they had been offered to the state in the previous administration and they had turned it down, but when we came into office, we started exploring it and found out we could purchase 'em and we did. We bought all of the buildings that were still remaining at Kentucky Dam and developed the park around those buildings.


KLEBER: Any other new state parks that started during your administration?

WETHERBY: Yes, we started the Kentucky, uh, uh--the other park on Kentucky Lake, which is twenty miles, uh, south of Kentucky Dam. We started that park. We also started the--during my administration, the Breaks of the Sandy Park. I, uh, have a fine, uh, picture in here that Governor Battle gave me on that occasion. He and I--he was governor of Virginia and I was governor of Kentucky and we had a joint meeting at the Breaks of the Sandy at which time we agreed to develop a park--a joint park there at the Breaks of the Sandy. The following, uh, session of the legislature, we, uh, passed some legislation authorizing a 00:06:00joint, uh, park set-up at the Breaks of the Sandy. So we developed that one. We also developed one up at, uh, in, uh, Carter Caves. We developed that one. We developed the one at, uh, uh, Cumberland when Lake Cumberland Wolf Creek Dam was built, and we dedicated that dam--dam and immediately went about developing a park there.

KLEBER: Uh, I know during your administration, you were also concerned with acquiring more land in the Mammoth Cave area. Do you recall that?

WETHERBY: That's right, yes. We had quite a battle down there because they were--the location of the roads. And we, uh, we did join with the Mammoth Cave Protective Association to acquire different additional land down there so as to make a better entrance to Mammoth Cave Park, and we agreed that we would build a 00:07:00roadway into the park, a new roadway if they would join with us and acquire the land.

KLEBER: If I remember correctly, there was some attempt during that time to buy some of those private caves by the state and turn them into state parks, which apparently didn't prove to be successful.

WETHERBY: That's right. Uh, there was an effort made to buy, uh, I believe it was Crystal Cave, and there was also an effort made to buy another group of caves there. But we never were successful in it during my administration.

KLEBER: I've seen the statistics that indicates that, uh, in 1952, uh, tourism--tourists spent some three hundred and thirty million dollars in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Does that sound like an accurate figure to you?

WETHERBY: Yes, sir, and we were driving and we had a slogan that we could--if we developed properly our tourist industry, we could have a half billion dollars 00:08:00by the end of my administration, coming from the tourist industry. And we almost achieved it. We were right at the point of five hundred million dollars when I went out of office.

KLEBER: Why did the state of Kentucky choose to place such great emphasis on the state parks systems and the states surrounding did not?

WETHERBY: We, we, uh, were a, and are, a bridge state. People going from the north to Florida had to come through Kentucky, almost certainly. And, uh, we decided that we could build a parks system and get those people to stop over in Kentucky when they were traveling south or where they were traveling north, and we could capitalize on our park development so as to receive more funds and more money spent in the state by the tourists who were going from north to south, and south to north. That was one reason we developed--a group of governors met at 00:09:00Kentucky Dam State Park at my invitation to build a--and to hook up a north/south Lakes-to-Gulf highway so that we could develop that whole area. Now, some of the states went along, and followed our lead on the park development. Tennessee did. They were a little bit behind us, but they did start developing down on Kentucky Lake and they called it Ken-Tenn Lake instead of Kentucky Lake, and--but they did cooperate with us in developing that thruway from the Lakes to the Gulf. Now that's the only state that joined right in at about the same time we did. Now, they're all going to it, but we were recognized by the, uh, national press and all of the media as the leading 00:10:00developer of a state parks--parks system. And people were coming in to see what we were doing, and they'd come in and visit with our department, see how they could proceed. But we were the leader in the development of a state parks system.

KLEBER: Did you ask for appropriations to be spent in developing the state parks?

WETHERBY: Yes, we did. And then in addition to that, the governor had a contingency fund which, whenever I got near the end of a fiscal year, and had money left in the contingency emergency fund, I would appropriate it to the Department of Parks or to the mental health projects. I devote--devoted a lot of attention to both of those, and contributed when we had money left over to 00:11:00the parks department and to the mental health department, money, uh, to boost them up.

KLEBER: One of the things you accomplished in your administration was the establishment of a Youth Authority which, if I understand it, was to handle cases of children who were found delinquent, neglected or mentally impaired. And it was to provide for those children either proper care or proper punishment, which would take them out of other institutions that had been dealing with them before. Can you tell me something about the background of that, and the success of it?

WETHERBY: Well, of course, I had been, before I became lieutenant governor, I had been judge of the juvenile court in Jefferson County, and saw the need for a statewide, uh, program. The trouble of it was, we had a hundred and twenty counties and a hundred and twenty county judges, and each one of 'em treated the juvenile in a different light. So, when I started working on the Youth 00:12:00Authority, all of those people who had worked with me in Jefferson County in the juvenile court were very helpful in helping to develop what we called the Youth Authority. It was a program--it was legislation to develop a program so that we would have uniform handling of, uh, juveniles throughout the state. It provided for a representative of the Youth Authority to work with each county judge in Kentucky with the juveniles. And it provided that if the county could not take care of the juvenile that the county judge could commit that child to the Youth Authority of Kentucky. The Youth Authority, with the worker in the county 00:13:00following through, could then recommend placing the child either in an institution or at Greendale, which at that time was the penal institution for juveniles, or place it in a boarding home. It was getting a very good start, but some of the judges did not like the idea of the state taking over, so it became a political issue in the 1955 governor's race and Chandler pledged that he would repeal it, which he did. He repealed the Youth Authority Act which we had passed, and which we had developed.

KLEBER: So basically, this Youth Authority Act was supposed to provide better care for--

WETHERBY: Better care and, and uniform care from county to county because it 00:14:00was altogether different from--one county would treat 'em one way; the next county would treat 'em another way. So the Youth Authority was designed primarily to have a uniform development and handling of juveniles throughout the state. And each county, as I pointed out, would have a representative social worker sent to them by the state. And each one of them would work under the Youth Authority with the county judge in developing a program for the juveniles within his county.

KLEBER: How were they treated in some counties?

WETHERBY: Some counties, uh--you mean the juveniles or the--

KLEBER: Juveniles, yes.

WETHERBY: --the workers? Well, in some counties, they were just put in jail. They were picked up and whether they were dependent, neglected or delinquent, they were just taken to the jail and, uh, left there indefinitely at times. And, uh, other, other treatment, they would pick up a dependent child and have 00:15:00no home or no place to put him and they put him in jail, even though he had committed no crime, and he was a dependent instead of a delinquent. They had no other place to take care of them except in the jail. They'd send him to jail, and it put a horrible mark on a lot of young--youngsters at that time, and juveniles.

KLEBER: Let me carry on that same theme and talk about Kentucky's penal institutions during that time. Um, what condition do you think the penal institutions were in, during the--your administration?

WETHERBY: Well, at that time, they were in--when we first went into office, they were in a deplorable condition, but Senator Clements, who was governor when 00:16:00I was lieutenant governor, devoted a lot of emphasis to straightening out the penal institutions. He and I went around and visited those institutions. We bought additional land for 'em so that the inmates would have an opportunity to get out and farm and produce a lot of the food. As a matter of fact, when I went out of office, after Clements started it and I followed through on it, the penal institutions were producing enough food to take care of all their inmates so that the appropriation could be used for other things, other than food and, uh, clothing. And they were producing the license plates for the automobiles. They were producing--they had all kinds of activity when I went out of office. They had leather good work, they had, uh, the, uh, metal-producing section, they 00:17:00had the farm operation, the dairy cattle, and hogs. They raised every hog that the, uh, inmates ate at the various institutions. And they would switch 'em back and forth. They were in real good shape when I left office.

KLEBER: One of the problems that does seem to occur in the--in this area of, of penology is the reluctance to support, through the tax dollar, uh, institutions that would, let's say, be reformative. Did you find that that was a problem, trying to get support for better--

WETHERBY: It was because, uh, people looked on it as purely a punishment thing and didn't care how they were treated. Well, we tried to change that attitude, and we tried to use the funds that were available to better their conditions and 00:18:00also to give them, by giving them the opportunity to farm the, uh, land that we had acquired, give 'em an opportunity to get out and be outside and have a gainful time while they were in the institution. And they were also producing, uh, enough foodstuffs and cattle and hogs to take care of their entire needs in all of the mental--mental insti--all of the penal institutions and most of the mental institutions.

KLEBER: Yeah, that's an interesting point because you separated the two during your administration.

WETHERBY: That's right.

KLEBER: Do you think that helped the penal institutions when you separated them?

WETHERBY: Oh yeah, I think it did because it, it, uh, gave them the operation of the penal institutions gave them an independent, primarily, uh, penal, 00:19:00control. And the mental institutions were over in a different department, but they could enter account, and trade their produce back and forth.

KLEBER: Who ran your penal institutions, do you recall?

WETHERBY: I think Klotter, John Klotter was one at that time. And, uh, I don't recall the others. They were--'course we had the institution at La Grange, we had the institution at Eddyville, and we had, uh, then, the mental institutions at Danville and, and in Lexington and in, uh, Lakeland. And we had head--different heads of those.

KLEBER: Was there someone over all of the penal institutions?

WETHERBY: Yes, there was someone over all of 'em and, uh, I'll, uh, tell you 00:20:00who was over 'em for awhile, was, uh, Doc. Lloyd. Doc Lloyd had been the head of the overall welfare department and he took charge of the, uh, penal institutions and, uh, Doctor, uh, Gaines took charge of the mental institutions under my administration.

KLEBER: One of the most controversial subjects today is the issue of capital punishment. During your administration, was that ever a significant issue and did you ever oppose capital punishment?

WETHERBY: I never did oppose it, and it was not a major issue. It became an issue in the last few years since my administration was over. I think it actually became a, an issue in Kentucky under, uh, Governor Breathitt. And he 00:21:00refused to issue any, uh, executive orders to carry out the capital punishment that had been prescribed by the judges. And during his term, there was never a, uh, carry-through on capital punishment.

KLEBER: Now, during your administration, were there ever many occasions when you would stop an execution?

WETHERBY: Only when the board--I would--whenever one--an application was filed before me for executive clemency, I would refer it immediately to two people: to the attorney general and to the head of the parole board and ask them to make a thorough investigation, and then to report back to me. Uh, I never, to my 00:22:00recollection, went against their recommendations.

KLEBER: They often, then, did recommend clemency to you?

WETHERBY: They did occasionally recommend it, yes. That I reduce a sentence or, uh, set aside a death sentence, uh, and change it to a life sentence.

KLEBER: Yeah. In agreeing to carry out the, the sentence that was prescribed, that is, execution of someone, did you feel that this was a deterrence or that this was retribution? Justice? How did you view that?

WETHERBY: I felt it was a deterrent, and I, I still think that the death penalty is a deterrent. I think the fact that the Supreme Court knocked out the death sentence and created a state of confusion in all the states in the last, 00:23:00uh, few years has contributed to the increase in crime throughout the United States. The fact that there is an uncertainty among the criminal element as to what's gonna happen to 'em by virtue of the Supreme Court decision, I think that is one of the great contributions to the increase in crime throughout the United States and to the lack of respect for law and order.

KLEBER: Uh, did you ever pardon many criminals?

WETHERBY: Only ones I think I ever pardoned were those who had worked in the executive mansion when I was governor. When I went out as governor, I pardoned almost all of 'em who had been there who had good records. I--but before I did, 00:24:00I asked the parole board to check on their records at the institution, and also at the time they were serving at the executive mansion. And I pardoned most of those who had served me over in the mansion, and to this day, some of those that I pardoned still visit me.

KLEBER: Is that right?

WETHERBY: Yes, and just a year ago, one of 'em who served the whole time I was there, came up to visit us when my son died. That was a boy by the name of Morton who, after I pardoned him, he went back to Louisville, and went to school and became a medical aide at the Louisville General Hospital, and he's there to this day working at the Louisville General Hospital as a medical aide. He told me a story about one of his daughters, who was a student down at Western State 00:25:00College, and he went down on Parents' Day to visit her, and they were walking in front of the Administration Building, and he said, "I pointed to your name on that building, and said, 'I used to work for that fellow.'" And said, "My daughter didn't believe it." But said, "I told her, yes, that I worked for you. I didn't tell her why I was working for you." (both laugh)

KLEBER: Did you receive many requests for pardons while you were governor?

WETHERBY: Yes, uh, regularly. Because there were quite a few, uh, uh, verdicts of capital punishment at that time in the state, uh, throughout the state, and there were quite a few executions, so I had many, many requests for executive clemency. I also had many requests for, uh, executive clemency in reducing 00:26:00sentences and letting people out of the penitentiary.

KLEBER: Would you--

WETHERBY: But those I would not touch unless the parole board recommended it.

KLEBER: When you got a request of that kind, did you inquire into the--it?

WETHERBY: I usually--

KLEBER: Ask the parole board about it?

WETHERBY: --I always asked the parole board to investigate it and make a recommendation to me, and I have in my files down there in those jackets, recommendations from the parole board to deny or to approve clemency.

KLEBER: And you always,uh, followed what they said?

WETHERBY: I followed them consistently because that was one way you could keep out of trouble, was following your board's recommendation instead of going out and doing it on your own.

KLEBER: Let me go into a little happier topic here and, since we're approaching the holiday season, I, I wondered how you and your family traditionally--or spent the traditional holidays while you were governor? Let's say, 00:27:00Thanksgiving. How would you all spend--

WETHERBY: Well, Thanksgiving, we would treat it just as we did when we were in our own home. We would, uh, however, we would--oft times have receptions for the department heads to come by and visit at the mansion and just have a very informal, social occasion. Uh, they would, uh, they would come in whether you invited 'em or not because they would drop by just to say hello during the holidays. That was true at Thanksgiving, and also at Christmas. At Christmas, we always had a reception for the elected officials, the Court of Appeals, and the department heads. And they would come over and visit and, uh, mix and mingle with each other. We always would have the mansion decorated and have the walkway, the lights running up the walkway, and we'd have a big tree in the 00:28:00center of the entrance hall, and my wife would plan the, uh, decorations and the troopers would come in and help her decorate and the, uh, employees, the, uh, the--those from the univer--from the penal institutions who were assigned to the mansion would help in the decoration. And we would, at Christmas time, we would always have some presents for the prison help that we had there at home. And we, uh--(coughs)--we would pay them a small sum each month, so that they'd have a little spending money. Then we would give 'em all a present at Christmas time.

KLEBER: Now you said you have this reception for the department heads at, uh, Christmas?



KLEBER: Was it on Christmas day?

WETHERBY: No, it was usually between Christmas and New Year's. We would, uh--depending on the time of the week that the holidays fell, we'd have a, uh, a reception for that group. We'd send 'em written invitations to come by the mansion, say, from two to four, or if we had it in the evening, it would be from six to eight or something like that. They'd come by and have some punch and have sandwiches and just visit and socialize.

KLEBER: Was this the only time during the year that you had receptions of this sort?

WETHERBY: No, no. I, I had 'em pretty regularly. Every--now I had my office force, I'd have them over to eat, uh, supper or dinner with us pretty regularly, about once a month. But the, uh, big group, the--all of the department heads 00:30:00and the elected officials, and the court, we'd have a party for them, oh, every three to four months--

KLEBER: In the executive mansion?

WETHERBY: --two or three times a year.

KLEBER: In the executive mansion?

WETHERBY: That's right, in the executive mansion. And they'd all come by and visit and, uh, socialize.

KLEBER: Uh, did you ever have New Year Eve--New Year's Eve parties in the executive mansion?

WETHERBY: Yes, but they were rather--close friends that we would invite in. One time, I think we had all the department heads in for New Year's Eve, or invited 'em in. But most of the time, on New Year's Eve, we would invite some close friends in and, uh, then when twelve o'clock came, uh, several times we'd all go over the country club, uh, to celebrate with friends over there.

KLEBER: Is there a large ballroom in the executive mansion?


WETHERBY: Yes, there is.

KLEBER: Did you ever have bands that came in and entertained in this fashion--

WETHERBY: Yes, we had a band from, uh, down at La Grange Reformatory that was real good, and they would come up and play for us at these receptions. And they would come up to play, uh, at any time that we had a gathering over at the mansion. They'd come up and play, but now on New Year's Eve and other times like that where we had just a small group of close friends, we would hire other orchestras to play in the mansion.

KLEBER: Did you ever have, uh, truly formal receptions in the mansion? Black-tie and--

WETHERBY: Yes, we did. We had a few of 'em for the legislature. During the session of the legislature, we'd have a formal reception for the members of the legislature. One session would be for the house members and their wives or 00:32:00husbands, and the other--the next one would be for the senators and their wives and husbands. Then we'd have another one, more informal, for all of the employees of the house and the senate.

KLEBER: Let me ask you something about your children during this time, and how they adjusted to this kind of life. Was it at all difficult, do you think, for your three children to, uh--

WETHERBY: I don't think it was too difficult. It was a little difficult on the girls because, uh, their dates were a little hesitant about coming to the mansion to get 'em. And my--one of my son-in-laws tells a story about me, since I'm a hunter and fisherman and all, that one morning--or rather night, it was 00:33:00real late and it was getting morning, and he said when they pulled up to the mansion, and he brought my daughter home, that about the time they stopped, I came out the back door with a shotgun and he didn't know whether to run or what. I was on my way on a hunting trip down to west Kentucky, and he tells a story, he said, "I didn't know whether to duck and run, or, or what was going on." (laughs) But it was--it was not too difficult for 'em. My son, he, uh, he married and he and his wife lived on the third floor of the mansion, and they, uh, she was working in a dental office, and he went, uh, to school at the University of Kentucky and he commuted from, uh, Frankfort to, uh, the university in Lexington. Then my younger daughter, she married, uh, in 1954, 00:34:00and we had a reception for her at the mansion. So, uh, I don't think that they, uh, were--that younger daughter, she went to school here in Frankfort, and graduated from Frankfort High. She had started in school down at, uh, Eastern at, uh, Middletown when we were living in Anchorage. But then when we came to Frankfort, she transferred up here and graduated up here at, uh, the Franklin--the Frankfort High School, the city high school. And I don't think it was too difficult for them. They, uh, they would, uh, be kidded about, uh, having somebody drive 'em around occasionally and things like that, but that's about all. We, uh, had our regular family relationships. Uh, this younger one 00:35:00and--the youngest and I, we'd go out in the winter and sleigh ride with a crowd around Frankfort. We'd go up to Lafayette Hill and come down just like the rest of 'em, and with all of them, so we had very little friction from that standpoint from living in the mansion. Uh, we socialized with the people here in Frankfort, and we, uh--all three of my youngsters, uh, sort of got along fine with all of the, uh, inmates that were working over at the mansion. As a matter of fact, I'd find Larry every once in a while, in a big card game with two or three of 'em. (both laugh)

KLEBER: I'm curious about the education you chose for your children at that time. Um, was there talk about sending them to out-of-state or to other schools--


WETHERBY: There was--

KLEBER: --how did you decide to send them to--

WETHERBY: There was, and, um, but all of 'em ex--all three of 'em except, at one time, the middle child, Suzanne, she wanted to go to Webster College in St. Louis, and she did. She went there for one term. Uh, I had very little criticism about it because I had the other daughter in the University of Kentucky and the son in the University of Kentucky. There was talk of it during the campaign, because Sue was in Webster College at the time that I was running. And there was a lot of gossip about that, but--

KLEBER: They thought she should have been in-state?

WETHERBY: Yeah, that's right.

KLEBER: Did the other two children decide they wanted to go to the University of Kentucky?

WETHERBY: Yes, that's right.

KLEBER: Never anywhere else?


KLEBER: You were pleased with that decision?


WETHERBY: Yes, I was pleased with it. Uh, however, I wanted the boy, my preference for him would have been the University of Louisville from which I graduated, because he was gonna--he started out to study law. So I wanted him to go to my school instead of the University of Kentucky. But, uh, he chose the University of Kentucky because about that time we moved to Frankfort, and, uh, he, uh, wanted to commute and he had married. He'd had a health problem and then he married and they lived at the mansion with us, so he wanted to go to the University of Kentucky, where he could commute.

KLEBER: And he went on and graduated from the University of Kentucky?

WETHERBY: No, he didn't graduate. He withdrew. He took a summer job, and then when fall came to go back to school, he didn't wanna go back. So he never finished at the university.

KLEBER: Uh, some problems that, uh, a man in political life has is the fact 00:38:00that it's so time-consuming. There's not enough time for families, which creates some friction. Did you ever have this problem?

WETHERBY: Not too much. Uh, 'course it does take you away from the family quite a bit, but, uh, we had a fine relationship and the mansion, being real close to the seat of government and to the governor's office, I was back and forth. I'd go over and eat lunch or I'd go to the cafeteria and eat lunch. But I was--anytime I was not out in the state on our parks and tourist promotion, or on a speaking engagement, I would be home and the family would all be together for dinner. We had, at that time--(coughs)--a small family dining room right adjoining the kitchen. We did not use, regularly, the big, uh, executive, uh, dining room. We used the small, uh, family dining room right on the other end 00:39:00of the kitchen. And--but we would all, uh, get together for supper--dinner.

KLEBER: What kind of domestic help did you have in the mansion?

WETHERBY: We always had a couple that we paid and employed, a man as a butler and a woman as a maid. Then, of course, we had as I have mentioned these trusties from the La Grange Reformatory. They had their place in the basement portion of the mansion. They had their kitchen, their dining room down there, and then they had their quarters down over the garage. We had, uh, developed a--an apartment set-up over the garage. So they--those employees, of course, 00:40:00there was one that took care of the yard. One took care of the, uh, house overall, and there was one they called the laundress who took care of all the linen laundry in the mansion. But other than those trusties, we had one couple all the time, a butler and a maid.

KLEBER: And they stayed with you the whole time you were in the--

WETHERBY: Well, we had--

KLEBER: --office?

WETHERBY: --we had two different groups.

KLEBER: two different--


KLEBER: And Mrs. Wetherby's role in this? Did--she took a hand in preparing, I suppose, for the public entertainment and, uh--

WETHERBY: Yes, she did all of the preparing. We had no, uh, secretaries over at the mansion as they have today. We, uh, we didn't have that kind of money. And, uh, the state didn't pay 'em, so she did all of the planning of those. She 00:41:00did the direction of all of the help, and the, uh, preparation of the food for the parties, and also our menus for the family. Uh, she did have the help of one person who was assigned to the mansion as the overseer of all of the help, uh, other than our one couple, a member of the state police who was assigned to the mansion for the purpose of directing the, uh, prisoners and taking care of their needs and their, uh, food and things like that. Now, he would assist Mrs. Wetherby is decoration. He would assist her in, uh, doing all of the, uh, 00:42:00marketing and things like that.

KLEBER: Did Mrs. Wetherby have the use of your secretaries in answering her correspondence?

WETHERBY: Yes. Yes, she would, uh, she would come over to the office and, uh, talk to any one of the secretaries or call 'em and, uh, tell them what she wanted them to do, and, uh, but she had no secretary of her own.

KLEBER: Let's say that when you were in the executive mansion and you wanted to, to go out, downtown Frankfort. Did you drive yourself or did you have--

WETHERBY: I drove myself.

KLEBER: You drove yourself. How about the use of limousines? Did you use those extensively?

WETHERBY: We had, we had our own car, which we had brought to Frankfort. Then we had, in addition to that, two cars purchased by the state, and controlled by the Highway Department. One, a, uh--they called it the Queen Mary, was a 00:43:00Cadillac and one was a Buick. We had two cars assigned to the mansion.

KLEBER: And you had a driver for those cars?

WETHERBY: Well, we had, we had, uh, the one I was telling you directed those, uh, inmates. He was there. When--then we had one other, uh, patrolman who was on call. Anytime I was going outside of Frankfort--

[Tape 1, side 1 ends; tape 1, side 2 begins.]

WETHERBY: --I would call the poli--the, uh, state police and they in turn would get in touch with this driver who was assigned to me, and he would come up and leave his car and take one of the state cars and take me to speaking engagements or wherever we might go out in the state.

KLEBER: Yeah, let's say you were going out on a speaking engagement from Frankfort to, to, let's say, Covington, and you were being driven. Did you spend time in the car at that time preparing your speech or--

WETHERBY: That's right. Uh, making notes from which I would speak. I, uh, I 00:44:00seldom wrote those kind of speeches. I'd make a memorandum on a card or a slip of paper, and I would, I'd roll over in my mind the kind of speech I was gonna make if I was being taken to Covington or to Paducah or Lexington, wherever I was going.

KLEBER: So you generally only used the chauffeured limousines if you were being taken outside of Frankfort?

WETHERBY: That's right. I never, I never used the driver in, uh, the city of Frankfort. I'd go out to the country club, I'd drive my own car out there. I'd go downtown, I'd drive my own car. Time after time, I'd drive down and park, and walk up and down the streets of Frankfort.

KLEBER: That's changed, hasn't it?

WETHERBY: That's right. Quite a bit.

KLEBER: Could you have--

WETHERBY: --I never was, uh, threatened. I never was afraid that somebody was gonna kill me.

KLEBER: Yeah, that's another interesting point. You never got any threats during your, uh, your administration.


WETHERBY: Never got one. I, I think, uh, the police at one time received one threat that "they were gonna get me" but they didn't, and I had no further protection. There was one trooper assigned to the mansion at all times. And they would rotate. They'd work eight hours and then another one would come on, and they had a little office in the basement for that trooper. And that trooper that was on duty at night, he would answer this phone and would sort of screen the calls that I got during the night.

KLEBER: Did, uh, was your--could people call you in the executive mansion and reach you by telephone?

WETHERBY: Oh yeah. Yes, indeed.

KLEBER: They knew the number?

WETHERBY: We--oh, yeah, we had, we had the number listed and they would call day and night and, as I say, the trooper on duty at night would usually screen--


KLEBER: Screen 'em out--

WETHERBY: --the calls coming in at night and see whether I wanted to take 'em. If it was important, if the trooper thought it was important, he would contact me. If he thought it was unimportant and some of the drinking friends over the state calling to just say they could talk to the governor, why, he'd give 'em a long song and dance and take their number and have it for me the next morning.

KLEBER: Uh, when you went out speaking around the state, uh, there was always a trooper with you, is that right?

WETHERBY: Always drove. One always drove me, yeah.

KLEBER: He'd always stay with you when you were--

WETHERBY: No, no. No, no.

KLEBER: So this means you were without any kind of police protection--

WETHERBY: That's right. And that's one thing I said in my last interview with you. One of the most gratifying things about my administration, was the fine reception I received any place in the state. I never had anybody come up and threaten to whip me or anything else when I was out. I, uh, would go into a 00:47:00community and my driver would drive me up to where I was supposed to be and he'd let me out and I'd go on around and I'd tell him to check back as to what time we'd be through.

[Pause in recording.]

KLEBER: Living in a, uh, something as cavernous as the executive mansion, did you get a sense that this was truly a home? Or did you feel like you were living in a castle of some kind?

WETHERBY: It, it felt like a home to us because we had it so organized--we had the downstairs so that people could come in and visit at any time and see their mansion. It belonged to the people. It was the people's house in our opinion. On the second floor, however, we had a little family sitting room. We used to play the--members of the family would play bridge up there in the evenings or watch television. We had our television room up there, and the library. Then 00:48:00each one of the kiddos had their room off of that so the second floor was sort of like a home, and, uh, I felt like it was home. And, uh, of course we were there for five years and it was just like our home at Anchorage. The, the kiddos had their rooms, but we had a central gathering place where--and we might have a snack there in the evening. But we'd go down to the first floor to the family dining room for meals.

KLEBER: Were there formal tours of the house at that time, or just informal?

WETHERBY: Mostly informal. There were, uh, occasionally, uh, there were tours when groups--garden clubs and people like that, they would call and make arrangements for a tour, but no one would take 'em on the tour. They'd come to the door and Mrs. Wetherby might let 'em in and then answer any questions for 00:49:00'em, but, uh, ordinarily we had, uh--we did not have employees who would bring 'em over and make a tour of the mansion as they do today.

KLEBER: Were you bothered much by people coming to the front door, knocking?

WETHERBY: Not very much. Not very much. Uh, we weren't bothered by 'em. We were always glad to see 'em, and of course, uh, Frankfort is--when we first went into the mansion on Sunday afternoons, people would come to formally call. Well, that bothered me a little bit because we're not very--we were not very formal. (laughs)

KLEBER: Uh, would you support putting a, uh, a gate around the executive mansion?


[End of interview.]