Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler, May 13, 1980

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Introduction

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

Segment Synopsis: Professor Charles P. Roland introduces his interview subject, former Kentucky Governor and U.S. Senator Albert B. "Happy" Chandler. The interview is being conducted to collect information for a biography about Chandler.

Keywords: Biographies; Chandler Project; Interviews; Introductions

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky

00:00:31 - Family background and influences

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Partial Transcript: Governor Chandler, I'm still probing, uh, about the sources--for, the sources of your personality and individuality.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his family's origins prior to their arrival in Kentucky during the 19th century. He talks about his mother's personality and his relationship with her over the years, after she divorced Chandler's father and left the family. He describes his father's personality and gift for oration, which Chandler believes had an influence on his own oratory skills.

Keywords: Abandonment; Divorces; Families; Family origins; Fathers; Mothers; Orators; Parents; Personalities; Strengths

Subjects: Absentee mothers; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Childhood; Single fathers; Sons

00:09:58 - Siblings and half-siblings

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Partial Transcript: When your, uh, when your brother, uh, was killed, uh--when he fell out of the tree--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about how his brother and half-brother died and the effect the deaths had on his father. He discusses his half-sister, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky and works as a broker.

Keywords: Accidents; Broken necks; Children; Death; Doctors; Fatal accidents; Grief; Operations; Surgeries; Young deaths; Youth

Subjects: Anesthetics.; Appendicitis.; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Children--Death.; Falls (Accidents); Operations, Surgical.; Siblings; Stepfamilies

00:15:10 - Experiences in high school

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Partial Transcript: Uh--(clears throat)--I've, I've studied your pictures in your high school annual--in your high school yearbook, uh, very carefully.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about his nickname while in high school, "Irish." He discusses how he got that nickname and when he got it. He also talks about his outgoing and friendly personality while in high school.

Keywords: High school experiences; High schoolers; Irish; Kentucky teenagers; Nicknames; Outgoing personalities

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky; Nicknames; Personality; Politicians--Kentucky

00:21:04 - Undergraduate education at Transylvania University / Childhood discipline

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Partial Transcript: Well, you came to Transylvania and, and, and, uh, to college, and that's, that's where you, uh, you, you got your nickname that has remained with you ever since.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler tells the story of how he got his nickname, "Happy", while playing basketball at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He talks about his social life while at Transylvania, including the people he befriended. He also discusses how his father's discipline influenced his adult life.

Keywords: Childhood discipline; Kentucky college students; Law practices; Lawyers; Lexington colleges; Nicknames; Parent discipline; Transylvania College; Transylvania University basketball; Transylvania University football

Subjects: College students; College students--Social life and customs; College students--United States--Intellectual life; Education--Finance--Kentucky; Transylvania University; Youth

00:33:18 - Jobs while at Transylvania University / Social life at Transylvania

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Partial Transcript: When you were in Transylvania, uh, what were some of the, what were some of the things you did to support yourself there?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses the various jobs he had while in college, from waiting tables at a boarding house to babysitting the daughter of one of his professors, Dr. Carpenter. He also delivered newspapers for the Lexington Herald while in college and discusses the details of the job. He also mentions his former roommate who became a Protestant preacher and was the officiant for his wedding to his wife, Mildred Watkins Chandler.

Keywords: Babysitting; College friends; College jobs; College roommates; Country food; Fraternities; Lexington boarding houses; Odd jobs; Protestant preachers; Student jobs; Transylvania College; Waiters

Subjects: Boardinghouses; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; College students--United States--History--20th century; Lexington (Ky.); Transylvania University

00:40:56 - Perception of Transylvania University

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Partial Transcript: Uh, it goes without saying, I'm, I'm--I feel, that your college experience at Transylvania was a very important--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler recalls his favorite aspects of Transylvania University and how his time at the school had an impact on his career. He tells anecdotes about the various professors at the university. He then summarizes his overall perception of Transylvania, including the moral and personal aspects of the school he admired.

Keywords: College experiences; College life; Colleges; History students; Kentucky professors; Lexington universities; Life lessons; Personal experiences; Private colleges; Professors; Transylvania College

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; College students--United States--Intellectual life; College teachers; Lexington (Ky.); Transylvania University

00:47:40 - Experiences at Harvard Law School

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Partial Transcript: Now when you left there and went to Harvard, to law school, uh, in some ways this is certainly a big leap.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler gives his initial impressions of Harvard Law School. He discusses the many jobs he held while in school at Harvard, keeping many jobs to be able to afford school and daily life. He talks about becoming overwhelmed at how impersonal Harvard was and its effect on him as a student. He recalls how the academic aspects of Harvard did not give him any difficulty. Chandler talks about how he found strength in the Bible someone had given him as a high school graduation gift.

Keywords: Academics; Bibles; Christian faith; Graduations; Jobs; Large universities; Law schools; Law students; New England schools; Overwhelming experiences; Student finances

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky--Interviews; Harvard Law School.; Harvard University; Politicians--Kentucky

GPS: Harvard Law School, Boston (Ma.)
Map Coordinates: 42.378094,-71.1210365
00:57:58 - Difficult childhood experiences

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Partial Transcript: Other uh, ah, other than such, uh, episodes as your mother's leaving, and I s--and the, the de, the death of your, your brother when you were still a teenager, were there any other great, uh, traumatic episodes in your youth?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the difficulties with his mother leaving the family when he was a child and being rejected by her as a young child because he looked too much like his father. He talks about his strong memory and his father's influence on his disinterest in drinking alcohol.

Keywords: Childhood traumas; Difficult childhoods; Difficult families; Mothers; Siblings; Strong memories

Subjects: Absentee mothers; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Childhood; Early memories; Families.; Parents; Single-parent families

01:02:04 - Delivering newspapers in Lexington, Kentucky / Various other jobs

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Partial Transcript: Uh--(clears throat)--le, let me come back to Transylvania, uh, again.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his job of delivering the Lexington Herald and the Lexington Leader while attending Transylvania University. He discusses the various aspects of the job, including his paper routes and how he would deliver the newspapers. He discusses other jobs he had while in college, including cleaning furnaces for private residences.

Keywords: Delivery routes; Lexington Herald; Lexington Leader; Newspaper delivery; Odd jobs; Paper routes; Transylvania College

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Jobs people do; Lexington (Ky.)--Newspapers.; Lexington (Ky.).; Newspapers

01:05:10 - Mildred Watkins Chandler / Family difficulties

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Partial Transcript: Now you say you wouldn't trade Mama for the national--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler praises his wife's mothering abilities and her strength. He discusses his grandchild and great-grandchildren and the difficulties he has with some of his descendants. Chandler details the struggles he has with some of his descendants in particular.

Keywords: Descendants; Family difficulties; Family problems; Grandfathers; Great-grandfathers; Matriarchs; Mothers

Subjects: Chandler, Ben, 1959-; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Families.; Politicians' spouses; Statesmen's families; Wives

01:08:19 - More on his various other jobs / High school friends

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Partial Transcript: Well, were there any other jobs at Transy that you--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler details more jobs he had while at Transylvania, including pitching baseball for community leagues and officiating basketball games. He also talks about how he would get paid to sing at various leagues and with preachers at various events. Chandler discusses his singing abilities and how his high school classmates thought he would become a professional opera singer for his career.

Keywords: Baseball jobs; Baseball pitchers; Basketball referees; College jobs; Diaries; High school experiences; Metropolitan Opera; Music jobs; Odd jobs; Opera singers; Singing; Transylvania College

Subjects: Careers; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky--Interviews; Politicians--Kentucky; Singing; Transylvania University