SUCHANEK: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former StateRepresentative and State Senator Richard L. Frymire. Mr. Frymire represented the 10th District, or Hopkins County, in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1962 to 1964 and the 6th District or Hopkins, Lyons, McLean, and Caldwell counties in the Kentucky Senate from 1966 to 1968. The interview was conducted by Jeffrey Suchanek for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project on December 13, 1990 in Mr. Frymire's law office in the Kentucky Bank and Trust Building in Madisonville, Kentucky at approximately 1:15 p.m. [Pause in tape] Okay, this afternoon I'm talking with Mr. Richard Frymire. Mr. Frymire, could you tell me when and where you were born?
FRYMIRE: I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, January 4, 1931.00:01:00
SUCHANEK: Okay. Can you tell me your parents' names and what they didfor a living?
FRYMIRE: My father's name was Richard Lemar Frymire, Sr., my mother'sname was Jessie Marlow Frymire. My father at the time of my birth was engaged in the insurance business. Shortly after that he returned to Irvington, Kentucky for, where he engaged for a period of time in the insurance business and then became postmaster at Irvington. He was appointed by Franklin Roosevelt, I think, in about 1933 and served as postmaster for a number of years. Later became a rural mail carrier due to some health reasons. Rural mail carriers worked half a day, 00:02:00postmasters worked all day, and that was his-and he was also a farmer. My mother was a schoolteacher-
SUCHANEK: Oh, I see.
FRYMIRE: and they met when both were teaching school at Ekron, Kentuckyin Meade County.
SUCHANEK: Do you remember your grandparents at all?
FRYMIRE: I never knew my father's parents, they were both deceased at mybirth. My mother's parents were Lorenzo Marlow of Fordsville, Kentucky and Nelly Marlow and they were a farm family, lived on a farm about two miles from Fordsville, Kentucky in Ohio County.
SUCHANEK: How far back in Kentucky do your family roots go?
FRYMIRE: On the Frymire side, the first of my forebears is buried in00:03:00Meade County, was buried in Meade County, about 1808 and the Frymire family came probably down the Ohio on a flatboat and lived, we believe, in-near the line of the Meade- Breckenridge County line and then may have also lived for a period of time over in Perry County, Indiana. So that branch of the family has been here for quite a while. On the other side of the family would be the Marlows and the, and the Fords and-well, I'm not a genealogist, they can trace their family back somebody jestingly said that the Fords could trace theirs back to 1066, so (both laugh). 00:04:00
SUCHANEK: That's good. Well, how extensive was your kinship network inHopkins and surrounding counties? Did you have many aunts and uncles around?
FRYMIRE: I have no, no relation in Hopkins County. When I came toHopkins County I was the first of my family to come here and I came here out of Law School and how I got here was, I had obtained a job upon my graduation from high school with the Kentucky Department of Highways. Now, this was in 1959 and the Kentucky Highway Department was gearing up to form a condemnation section where they were going to acquire the rights-of-way for the Interstate road program, which had, I think, had been funded by the Congress in 1958 and, and general to 00:05:00do, and also to do other condemnation type work that needed to be done for the highway department. So, the- my boss at that time was, the head of the Right-of-way Department, was a gentleman by the name of Carl Bradley who is presently the Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And the chief lawyer in the section was Norris Vincent who had lived in Owensboro and like all Vincents came out of, out of Edmonson County around Brownsville. And Norris and Vincent and Carl Bradley asked me if I would like to go to Madisonville to head up the office for the Western district of Kentucky which had, was headquartered in Madisonville and served about twenty-six counties and I reminded them that at that time that they had hired me I still, while I had taken by bar exam I had not been admitted, I had not passed 00:06:00or had not heard the results and their reply was it didn't make any difference, they needed somebody in Madisonville (Suchanek laughs). So that's how I came to Madisonville. I came here and immediately sued a lot of people for their, for right-of ways for a road project that was being done in the, in the waning months of the Chandler administration and that road project was an eighteen mile bypass of Madisonville, Earlington, Mortons Gap, and Nortonville and the U.S. 41 passed through those cities and was very congested so this was to be a four- lane bypass. So I, when I came to town that was my first responsibility was to file those suits. I became immediately known not altogether 00:07:00favorably but immediately known.
SUCHANEK: (Laughs), I was gonna ask you that. It seems that you ran forpolitical office later, that might have made you some enemies?
FRYMIRE: A few. I came, I tried, it was a great experience for anew lawyer to work for the Highway Department because I got to try condemnation suits all throughout Western Kentucky, most usually against some of the best lawyers in each community and I got to see how each, how the circuit judges varied in their approach to the same type of case. And you learned a little bit about the care and feeding of circuit judges through that experience. I'd had the opportunity to try a lawsuit against Abe Moore and Carroll Morrow and their firm was known 00:08:00as Moore and Morrow and some time after that they asked me if I would like to join their firm, and that was really what I wanted to do. So I tendered my resignation to the Highway Department and, and elected to stay in Madisonville and have been here since.
SUCHANEK: What year was that?
FRYMIRE: That would've been in the spring of 1960 that I came with thelaw firm.
SUCHANEK: I was wondering where you went to school.
FRYMIRE: I attended grade school and high school at Irvington HighSchool in Breckenridge County. I graduated in 1948. We, at that time I think, we had the largest class ever to graduate at Irvington High School and I believe that there were forty-four people in, who graduated from that class. And the only reason it was that large is that we had some people that had gone away to, for military service, during World War II and they'd come back and they graduated with our 00:09:00class. I went on from high school to Centre College at Danville and graduated from Centre in 1952 with a degree in economics and a minor in political science.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Do you think back on it, did any teacher in particularmake an impression on you during your high school or junior high school years and perhaps start you to think about politics or any type of political philosophy? Did that happen at Centre College? Can you think of anyone who might have influenced your political philosophy?
FRYMIRE: Well, probably my political philosophy would have been effected00:10:00the greatest by my father who was, followed politics very closely at a, on a local basis and he'd been very active in Breckenridge County politics, not as a candidate but as a supporter of candidates. So I suppose in hearing his conversation with other men about races and candidates and going with him as a small child to meet with other men to discuss politics in some way about whether it related to the county or to the state. And I can recall as a small child going with him on a number of occasions when he would have a meeting out in the country or perhaps at another town where they would _______(??) their 00:11:00plans for the, for the next race. In my schooling I had a history teacher in high school who was superb. His name was Leo Ashby. Mr. Ashby was originally from Webster County, a little town called Onton, O-N-T-O-N and he came to Irvington to become the principal when I was probably in the sixth grade or fifth grade, something like that. We lived next door to each other. He had a pretty daughter that I admired, and Ashby was a superb teacher and he made world history come alive. He made American history come alive and certainly he excited my 00:12:00interest in history at that time. And I suppose when I got to college I already had a, an inclination toward government and things relating to government. I had a teacher there by the name of Dr. Frank Heck who later headed up the History Department. Dr. Heck and I both got to Centre the same year. He was coming off Service in the military and I remember at classes he still wore some of his officer's trousers at that time. He served in the army so they were pretty good looking grey slacks. Dr.-I thought at one time I might want to major in history. I thought more about it, what I'd do if I majored in history and 00:13:00I'm committed to teaching. I did not think that I wanted to, wasn't sure that I wanted to teach but I thought I wanted to do something in government and I think probably by the time I was a sophomore in college I had resolved at that point I want, that I wanted to go to law school and then if that took me into politics and government so be it. So, that, that seed was planted fairly early.
SUCHANEK: Now, when you were growing up did you attend church?
FRYMIRE: Yes, I did.
SUCHANEK: What church did you attend?
FRYMIRE: Well, I've pretty well covered all the bases on that one. Asa small child, as an infant, I was baptized in the Catholic Church. I grew up in the Baptist Sunday School and made a profession of faith in the Baptist Church. When I was about fourteen I started to go to 00:14:00the Methodist Church and joined the Methodist Church when I was about sixteen, and I attended a Presbyterian College (Suchanek laughs). I've remained a Methodist and throughout the years and still attend the Methodist Church on a regular basis.
SUCHANEK: Now, do you think your religious upbringing had any influenceon the formation of your political philosophy at all?
SUCHANEK: In what way?
FRYMIRE: Well, I think there was a, as a youngster there was a verystrong emphasis on the difference between right and wrong and really in government or in anything else that's, that's mostly what it's all about is if you know the difference between right and wrong and you practice your business or your government or whatever you do along 00:15:00those lines, then I think you will be a good citizen and you will perhaps encourage others to be a good citizen.
SUCHANEK: Now, what is your wife's name?
FRYMIRE: My wife's name is Phyllis Taylor. She grew up in Monticello,Kentucky, or she was born in Monticello, Kentucky on August 22, 1932. And when she was a young child, I'm gonna say three or four years old, her family moved from Monticello to Campbellsville and she attended grade school and high school at Campbellsville and graduated from Campbellsville High School in 1950 and later attended college 00:16:00at Stratford Junior College in Danville, Virginia for two years and then attended Centre College at Danville, Kentucky where she graduated in 1954.
SUCHANEK: Is that were you met her?
FRYMIRE: I-yes, I met her at Centre College when I was home on leavefrom Service in 1954 and happened to go by Centre to see some friends and met her on that occasion.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Was it love at the first sight then (laughs)?
FRYMIRE: Oh, I don't, wouldn't go so far as to say it was love at firstsight but it, I think probably each of us found each other acceptable and then we wrote each other and corresponded and dated when we could. I was in the Marine Corps at that time and we got married in 1955 so 00:17:00it was, not much time elapsed.
SUCHANEK: Okay. How many children do you have?
SUCHANEK: Okay. Are any of your children involved in politics at all?
FRYMIRE: No, none.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Let's briefly talk about your military service. Yousaid you were in the Marine Corps, how did you find yourself in the Service?
FRYMIRE: Well, in 1952 it was pretty easy to find yourself in service.We were still in the Korean conflict days and there was the draft was still active in those days. I had considered while I was at Centre during, I guess, my junior year, about enlisting at that time and did not. But I suppose that the seed was planted at that time and . 00:18:00. . and I had considered joining the Naval Aviation Program. So when I completed my work at Centre I enlisted or committed to the Naval Aviation Program and reported for active duty in September of 1952. Went to Pensacola, went through the Navy flight program. Had the choice of been commissioned as a Marine pilot or a Navy pilot and elected to be commissioned in the Marines because at the time that I was going through the program if you opted for the Marine Corps you got to fly fighters, if you stayed with the Navy at that time you went into a multi-engine type flying program and I thought that I would prefer the fighters over the multi-engine aircraft. 00:19:00
SUCHANEK: What kind of aircraft did you fly?
FRYMIRE: I flew, after getting, completing my training in the Marinesquadrons, I flew an F2H-4, which is a single-seated jet fighter manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, had two small jet engines, small by today's comparisons, in the, almost in the, in the wing root where it joined on to the fuselage. And then I flew a F9F8 which is a Cougar which is made by Grumman which is a new aircraft when we got it at the, in the squadron in 1955, swep wing, a very sensitive aircraft in so far as lateral ready-to roll, the first plane that I flew that was capable 00:20:00of supersonic flight.
SUCHANEK: Was that a big jump?
FRYMIRE: Within the jet community to go from a subsonic to supersonic?
SUCHANEK: As far as being a pilot?
FRYMIRE: Not really. The only way you can tell it is to, that you'resupersonic is to, is to look at your airspeed indicator. There's not that much of-there may, in that aircraft we had some characteristics that indicated that we were about to go through it but they were not that dramatic or great in any way. Then following a tour in the Marine squadron I went from there back to the training command and instructed in, in advanced jet trainers for the last fourteen months that I was on active duty and that was, that was a good time. I learned the, had 00:21:00an opportunity to perfect good flying techniques because I was teaching others and that gave me the opportunity to perfect skills as a pilot, and during that time I got married and that was, so it was a good time.
SUCHANEK: Okay. But you didn't go to Korea then in-
FRYMIRE: By the time I got out of fight training Korea was, as far as ahot war, was passed.
SUCHANEK: Now, when did you and how did you decide once you werein Madisonville to get involved in politics and running for state representative? Was that your decision or did someone approach you and 00:22:00say that this might be a good idea?
FRYMIRE: My partner, my mentor and employer, Carroll Morrow, as Imentioned earlier Abe Moore and Carroll Morrow were the partners that I, in the law practice that I came to work for. And Carroll approached me about seeking the office of state representative and I think that he and Abe discussed it and thought that with this new lawyer in the firm who had a name that was peculiar to the county and who was virtually unknown in the county, that it might be good for him to, to run for office and to go across the county to meet people and that would serve him well in so far as future business opportunities were concerned. I think that was probably the motivation for him saying 00:23:00to me, would you like to run for office. Carroll Morrow had been very active in Democratic politics in Hopkins County and in those days the factions within the party were far more prominent than they are today, and people within the, each county sort of lined up in factions and stayed there and not much changed them. So I think one of the other things that he wanted to do was to demonstrate perhaps to a fellow by the name of Clarence Maloney, who was sort of the political boss in the county, that maybe Carroll Morrow could run a candidate who beat him. I don't know that that was the, a motivations but I, in later years, I suspected that it was. So Mr. Morrow asked me if I would be interested in running and I certainly had the interest in government 00:24:00and, and I was interested in running. And I might skip back and tell you about one other episode in my life that may have formed some opinions. When I was thirteen, I served a term as a page in the 1944 House of Representatives-
SUCHANEK: I see.
FRYMIRE: and I was the only page boy in Frankfort who was not there witha family member. I lived in Miss Van Sant's boardinghouse on Shelby Street and, and went to work every day as a page. And the pages in those days were a little older than what you presently see them. We were all thirteen, fourteen years old and we were expected to work. We did so much of the work that you see adults do today. We took care of all the bill books where you put the bills in the, the members' books, 00:25:00and we got there early in the morning and had that chore out of the way and then when the session started well, we were available to run errands, that anything that had to be distributed to the members we pretty well handled that function. I absorbed a lot during that, that session, not all of it was good (laughs), but I was there to see and observe how the business of government was conducted. So, that was a, I knew a little bit about the House for Representatives for having served there in one term before I ran for that office.
SUCHANEK: Well, how did you get to be a page?
FRYMIRE: My father as I indicated was active in local politics. In 1944I think he had been a supporter of J. Lyter Donaldson from Carrollton who ran for office and was beaten in a surprise race by Simeon Willis 00:26:00and I think probably somebody said, "well, Mr. Frymire, we'd like to do something for you, you're the postmaster we can't do anything for you but would you like to have your son come and be a page?" I think that's probably how it happened. And he asked me if I'd like to do it and I really, I suppose I didn't have much thought about it one way or the other, I didn't know what a page was, but if dad thought it might be good for me, well, then I thought it might be worth the effort. So, it was a good experience.
SUCHANEK: Can you remember anybody from that session that stuck in yourmind as being someone that you remember?
FRYMIRE: Oh, sure. Harry Lee, Harry Lee Waterfield was the speaker ofthe House in 1944. On the other side, in the Senate, Earle Clements was the majority leader of the, of the Senate in 1944. And I remember 00:27:00Mr. Waterfield sending me over to deliver a message to Senator Clements at that time about some procedure that they had going on that, that was the only trip that I recall that I had to made, make over to the Senate and it was sort of awesome experience for a young person. But I remember they, they had one of the strong debates that they had on the floor was whether or not to pour money into what is today the Legislative Research Commission, may not have had that same title in those days, but the Republicans were adamantly opposed to it and Waterfield and the Democrats were attempting to establish an office to where there could be some, some work done in behalf of the legislature. 00:28:00It was a good experience.
SUCHANEK: Now, you mentioned Clarence Maloney was the local, one of thelocal political bosses, did you know well? Did you get to know Clarence Moloney well? Can you tell me something about him?
FRYMIRE: Mr. Moloney had been a State Senator from the Hopkins-Christian County district which was coupled together in the Senatorial District at that time. He was a political boss, and he worked twenty- six hours a day at politics. I don't think he ever thought of anything else other than politics. It was the, the era in which he would go to the highway garage and tell the employees who they should support. And 00:29:00if you did business with the state he would make sure that a solicitor came by to call upon that person who was providing services to the state.
SUCHANEK: Not much different than today, is it (both laugh)?
FRYMIRE: Some things never change. He and Carroll Morrow had had sometype of a falling out so the, the fact I was seeking the office and had not gone to him for a blessing probably put me in the role of being in the opposition camp in so far as he was concerned, and it remained that way so long as he was active in politics. He's dead now and I, I don't really remember what year that he died. The people in the 1961 primary for state representative consisted of myself, a gentleman by 00:30:00the name of J. D. Shain, S-H-A- I-N, and Dr. Vern Ivy who was a local optometrist. I wouldn't have thought of Dr. Ivy as being involved in local political race, I think he'd perhaps had been active in Boy Scout committees and some things of that type but I, I hadn't and did not hear of anyone who'd associated him with either supporting candidates in he past or, or things of that type. So I think he was just a good citizen who decided that he would seek the office, so he ran. J.D. Shain was, carried a number of hats, he was a former postmaster at 00:31:00the City of Madisonville, he'd been county judge, I believe, on two occasions back in the earlier years, I'm gonna say-
SUCHANEK: I think '30s.
FRYMIRE: '30s. And probably the most important quiver that he had inhis, or arrow that he had in his quiver, was that he was a minister of the Primitive Baptist Church. And in Hopkins County that's pretty strong medicine. There are a lot of Primitive Baptists in Hopkins and Caldwell and the, and the surrounding counties. I never knew what a Primitive Baptist was, we didn't have them in Breckenridge County, but you've got a lot of them in, in the Hopkins County part of the state. So Judge Shain was very well thought of and he was a formidable opponent and from anyone who was assessing the race I think 00:32:00they would've assumed that he would have had no difficulty winning that race, and I certainly didn't have any measurement by which to say that he would not have won that race so-
SUCHANEK: Well, how did you win?
FRYMIRE: Primarily by going door to door throughout every city inthe, in the county and going to see people at their workplace, at the coalmines, in their machine shop, in their garage. If they were digging a ditch I stopped and talked with them. If they were putting a gutter on their house I kind of climbed the ladder. And it was not an expensive campaign, we didn't have that kind of money to spend. I had campaign cards, the little ones that you hand out to people, and pretty much went door to door and solicited people and said something like, 00:33:00"I'm Dick Frymire." And they'd say, "Who?" (Laughs), "I'm Dick Frymire and I'm a lawyer and I'd like to be, or I'm running for the legislature and this is a job to make laws and I'm a lawyer and I'd like to be your representative." And, and I thought I had that advantage of probably youth and enthusiasm and a tremendous amount of energy.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. But still, J. D. Shain, his reputation, that was quitean obstacle to overcome.
FRYMIRE: In local races what I've observed over the years is that,and maybe it's more true in Hopkins County than in other places, I think people like to be asked for their vote and I think that that was something that was available to me. I could ask them for their vote and Judge Shain was probably older and didn't have the energy to get 00:34:00out to call on people, known them all of his life, probably didn't think that he had to ask them for their vote. So I don't, I don't know that he ever knew that he was in any trouble in so far as the race was concerned, I think probably when the election results came in was the first time he knew that he had a, had a race on his hands.
SUCHANEK: Uh-huh. Well, here's a three-part question for you. Whenyou did decide to run, what personal qualifications, personal traits or characteristics or experience did you feel you had that qualified you for the General Assembly?
FRYMIRE: Okay. Well, I mentioned earlier about knowing the differencebetween right and wrong. I felt that I had that qualification. I 00:35:00felt that I was, had a legal education. I thought that I had an interest to, in the work that was to be done and I thought that those, the interest coupled with the energy, coupled with the education, and coupled with the, perhaps the desire to be a good legislator, I think that those were the things that I would say that, in my mind, qualified me for the position.
SUCHANEK: What did you family think about you getting involved inpolitics? What did your dad say?
FRYMIRE: I think he probably was, well my dad died in 1960, so hewould not, would not have known about it, and I'm not sure whether 00:36:00I had opportunity to tell him that I was going to run for office or not, that's a little dim in my mind. He died in August of 1960 and I, really I don't think I got into the campaign until probably December/January of, or January of '61. My wife is a good wife, loyal wife, dedicated wife, and I think her attitude was, "I probably don't know but if that's what you want to do I'll support you," and she did.
SUCHANEK: I forgot to ask you whether you have brothers and sisters.
FRYMIRE: I have two sisters.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, describe the ethnic, economic, and religiousmakeup of Hopkins County and your constituents. You mentioned that 00:37:00there's a lot of Primitive Baptists around-
FRYMIRE: Yeah. Well, obvious there are other types of Baptists heretoo. We have the Southern Baptists, we have General Baptists. I saw a sign the other day that said, "Conservative Baptist." I made the remark in jest in times past that in Hopkins County we have more Baptists than people (Suchanek laughs), which is not quite right but that's-when I came to Madisonville in 1959 there was no Catholic Church and it was said at that time that this was the largest town in the United State without a Catholic Church.
SUCHANEK: Is that right?
FRYMIRE: And there was a Catholic Church at Earlington which was justthree miles away, you know, it's very close and there's not that problem distance-wise about going back and forth, but today there's a very reasonably new church north of town, Catholic Church. From a 00:38:00division standpoint of how the religions break down in Hopkins County, what I've observed over the last thirty years, this is a, has been a very strong increase in the fundamentalist denominations and in the Pentecostal denominations. I've observed that the Methodists and the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians are all doing very well, but the growth has been in the Pentecostal and the fundamentalist church, churches. So that's-and if you look around this community you'll see some beautiful churches that you, you sort of wonder where did that 00:39:00church come from? And it seems to be a community that proliferates in new churches and new groups going together to form a church and then all of a sudden you have one that's on this road where you've never seen it before and it's a very attractive, well-built, large church.
SUCHANEK: I wonder how they support all that.
FRYMIRE: Well, obviously people are willing to give of their dollarsand that's how it's supported because it's not coming from outside the community, it's being supported from within the community.
SUCHANEK: I mean there's been no large population explosion in thecounty recently, has there?
FRYMIRE: No, there has not. The growth in the county has been verygradual. I think it's been a gradual growth but it's nothing, nothing remarkable as far as increase. Ethnic, very little change I would 00:40:00suppose in percentages. I'm not sure what the black/white percentage gets to be, but I would, I would say somewhere around 10 percent black, perhaps 12 percent in this county. There, in the last few years we are beginning to see an infusion of some oriental people, primarily Vietnamese and maybe a Korean family or so. In our church we have a number of Korean children who have been adopted and we see the smaller children now with the Caucasian families that are in the community.
SUCHANEK: How about the Caucasian stock, would that be Irish, German,Scotch-Irish? 00:41:00
FRYMIRE: Pretty much. I'm gonna say the Anglo-Saxon-if you look, ifyou'll look at basketball lineups or football lineups in the schools you'll see the Taylors and the Smiths and the, and the Jones, to-if you cross the river into Indiana you'll see all the German names. Boy, you don't see that many German names in Hopkins County, it's pretty much Anglo-Saxon, English, Irish, Scottish names.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. The Madisonville Messenger called your primary victoryin '61 unusual because you were so relatively unknown and you defeated Shain with some 988 votes. Did the outcome of the primary surprise even you? 00:42:00
FRYMIRE: I thought I was going to win. I had no basis on which to evenhave the foggiest idea of how much I might win by. And I suppose why I thought I was going to win is, is because people were fairly nice to me when I would approach them or responsive to me in some way when I would approach them. Now, that was naivety on my part. I know that people can be very nice to you and not have no intention of voting for you, but in those days I didn't know better and I believed that they probably were going to vote for me.
SUCHANEK: How much did the law partners help you campaign? Did theyadvise you at all?
FRYMIRE: Carroll Morrow was the person who served as my mentor for thatpolitical campaign and he took me to, introduced me to people that 00:43:00he knew. He had served in, back in the '30s and '40s as a circuit clerk and as the county clerk and he had been active, I think, when Bert Combs ran in 1955 and for some of those races. So he introduced me to people that he thought that could help me in their part of the county. And so I went to some gatherings where I remember his friend Henderson-Henry Waterson Rudd took me out through the northeastern part of Hopkins County, which is all agricultural area, all farms, and introduced me to some farmers. My other partner, Abe Moore had a number of contacts with people in the coal business and I-Abe was a Republican and I don't recall that Abe ever overtly said, "You go meet 00:44:00somebody," but I think people thought, "well, this fellow is working for Abe Morris so he's alright," that he-we-
SUCHANEK: Just by association.
FRYMIRE: he'll pass our test. Carroll Morrow was the one that gave mesome encouragement and some advice. We did some newspaper ads at that time and I relied primarily on my wife who was a good English student to help me write those ads. I would do a draft and then let, Phyllis would clean up the draft for me and put it in language that kept me from being embarrassed. And she, she did that again when I ran for the State Senate some four years later.
SUCHANEK: Well now, your ads in '61, basically you didn't run very manyof them- 00:45:00
SUCHANEK: and the ones you did run just said, "Elect a lawyer"-
SUCHANEK: and whereas J. D. Shain seemed to be running moresophisticated lengthy ads and it seemed like he had spent a whole lot of money on his campaign and you had spent practically nothing.
FRYMIRE: I had practically nothing to spend (both laugh). That was-
SUCHANEK: It wasn't by choice?
FRYMIRE: that's the way it was.
SUCHANEK: Turning to a broad philosophical question for just a moment,when you first went to the General Assembly what did you think the role of government in society was? What was government supposed to do?
FRYMIRE: That's not an easy question. Certainly to have the primaryresponsibility to see that there was an opportunity for education, to 00:46:00see that there were certain rules in place to provide for the safety of workers, to have certain guidelines and structures in places to provide for honest business practices, and to, in those days I suppose, to provide for facilities for the people who had mental diseases and things of this type, certainly that was a continuing responsibility, to see that there was an adequate transportation system.
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FRYMIRE: I don't think I had the philosophy that the government wasresponsible for our wellbeing from cradle to grave. I think that 00:47:00concept has come along some time after 1961 and '62 and I don't know that I subscribe to it today but that, it was pretty much a time in which the government did certain essential things but still the emphasis was on each citizen to do for himself.
SUCHANEK: How did you see the different levels of government, i.e.local, state, and federal interacting? How should they interact and, and has your opinion changed over the years since you've been in the Assembly and now back in private life?
FRYMIRE: Well, of course, the legislature pretty much passed enabling00:48:00legislation to permit cities to do whatever duties the cities do, because the constitution of Kentucky says in so many words that the cities shall have the powers and authorities that are granted to them by the General Assembly. County government in those days was far less active than it is today. We see county governments doing all sorts of things today that was unheard of thirty years ago. And part of the reason it was unheard of thirty years ago is because there wasn't the money and the tax base was not such and the, and the various magistrates their idea of a good county government was to make sure that everybody had a gravel road and, and a culvert to where they could get the school buses in and out and people could come to town on 00:49:00Saturday and those ideas are rapidly changing, or already have changed. I don't, you asked what I, whether I had a philosophy about the interaction of those governments. I think when I went there I accepted them as I saw them, and I didn't come with an idea of that we ought to change all of these things or this is all wrong. I suppose that there's something that is obvious to everybody in Kentucky, we have too many counties and you'd like to hit upon some means by which we could save some money by the consolidation of several counties into, you know, into a common government. That may be done. I think if, if one group of counties ever does it, it may be, and there appear to be some advantages that fall out from that you may see some other places doing 00:50:00it because there just-we have counties in Western Kentucky, I can think of some in Eastern Kentucky and some in Northern Kentucky that just cry out from a governmental service's standpoint to be consolidated into three or four counties where they would have sufficient population based to support a county government.
SUCHANEK: Right. And turning to another philosophical question fora second, when you first went to Frankfort as a state representative what did you think the role of a state legislator was or what role in society was a legislator supposed to play?
FRYMIRE: I found a number of diverse attitudes among members of theGeneral Assembly when I went there in 1962 and I think one of the most 00:51:00frustrating attitudes that I encountered was that, "we've been elected through the party machinery and we're to do whatever the party boss says that we are to do." And I think that had been the thinking for many years in Kentucky and the-in Jefferson County the representatives for many years were pretty much voted in a bloc by a person back in Jefferson County who is not a member of the, of the legislative group. And-
SUCHANEK: You're talking about Lennie McLaughlin?
FRYMIRE: Yeah, I'm talking about Miss Lennie. And, of course, the,I believe it was in the '62 session that they had the uprising in Louisville and they sent a group of Republican representatives in place 00:52:00of the Democratic representatives and as I recall it, it seemed like to me there were about eleven seats from Jefferson County and nine of them were Republican. I may be off, it may have been eleven out of thirteen or nine out of eleven. These fellows were interesting people. They were folks that had not expected to come to Frankfort. There was nothing in the, in the-that would indicate that they would be elected. And they were basically good citizens, politically naive who all of a sudden found themselves in Frankfort without a leader even amongst, within their group they did not have a leader. And you had, you had those folks who, you had a group of people from Northern Kentucky 00:53:00and they were a product of the party machinery or the boss system in its ugliest. And people-I know that from time to time we would say, you-we didn't trust them because we perceived that there was, or at least there was a perception that there was something a little bit shady about the group. Now, that may not have applied to all of them but as a group that was the thought. You had other folks like my, my colleague, Paul Young, from Russellville. Paul was there to do whatever the, the majority leader said do. And we had a number of them that were that way particularly out of Eastern Kentucky, whatever the majority leader said do or whatever the governor said do, that's 00:54:00what we were to do. There was, there was no thinking about it. There was-it was black and white. And that was rather, those attitudes were rather appalling to me. I was a young man at that time and I thought everything should be considered on its merits and that justness should prevail (Suchanek laughs). And so I-
SUCHANEK: And you said you were naive?
FRYMIRE: (Laughs), well, perhaps. So, when you come together like thatyou have-you make a lot of new friends and you'll find other people who are perhaps idealistic, you'll find those who are cynical and that sort of thing. What I found in that first session of the General Assembly that on a good day on an issue where you had the moral high 00:55:00ground with a decent speech you could probably get twenty people to go along with you on the basis of the issue and the speech. Now, what I further observed is that night, that night after that, they would go back and fix it and the next day there would be another vote and you'd lose (both laugh). But what you had, the effect of doing is that you caused them to clean up the bill because in the process of debate you pointed out the ugly features and the selfishness that was about to be perpetrated upon people. And you raised enough hell about it that they came back and amended it to clean it up and so I provided, and others, provided some service to the general public in that form. I always thought that I did more service in keeping things from being passed 00:56:00than in actually sponsoring legislation to pass bills.
SUCHANEK: Well, while you were in the General Assembly did you speakoften on the floor?
FRYMIRE: I would say the first month that I was in the '62 GeneralAssembly I never got out of my seat. And I was, I watched, I was in awe, I listened, I thought I learned, and then I would say during the last month of the session I was participating. I'll tell you a little something about the mechanics of that '62 session, which I found to be rather unique. In those days we had many committees, forty some odd committees for the, for the House and- 00:57:00
SUCHANEK: I think you were on seven or nine of them or something?
FRYMIRE: Yeah, everybody was on six or seven committees. Now, the factthat half of them never met, you know, that is neither here nor there, but I was on a committee that was called Statutes Number Three. And I remember, they had Statutes Number One, Statutes Number Two, and Statutes Number Three and I thought, what is that? Dick Moloney was the floor leader of the Kentucky House. Dick at that time was about age 60, had been a majority floor leader in the State Senate when Lawrence Wetherby was governor, was a gruff man who could intimidate people, smoked a short cigar. He had been out, after he left the Senate he'd had a heart attack and been out of government for a while and then 00:58:00he came back and was in the Senate in '60. In '62 he was selected as the floor leader. Well, that was my first time. He put four young people on Statutes Number Three, Jim Whitlock from, at that time from Lebanon, Howard Hunt from Danville, Jeff Hill from Stanford and then he had Brett Farmer from Louisville and Ray Dyer from Breckenridge County. And we were Statutes Number Three. We processed-probably 60 to 70 percent of the bills that were introduced in the 1962 General Assembly that came through that committee. And he used us as a screening committee, and I think the young people worked very hard. 00:59:00We, at the end of the session, we took Moloney to dinner and we, just the young guys, and we said, "Why did you put us on this committee?" He said, "Well," he said, "I put you fellows on the committee because I knew you'd read the bills and you all would work," he said, "I put the other guys on there because I can vote them" (both laugh). So, and so he pretty well he had control of the committee and, and he was-if we had questions about the bills, he never pushed anything out of that committee until we were fully satisfied as to the bill or we had suggestions about it that it be amended, he was very receptive in that way. And we in turn became very loyal to him. And during that last part of the session there were times in those waning days that the floor leader is absolutely overcome with his duties. And I remember 01:00:00in helping Mr. Moloney on the floor to explain some of the bills that didn't require a great deal of expertise, that were things that he didn't need, there were no political consequence to them.
SUCHANEK: So it gave you some good experience.
FRYMIRE: Tremendous experience. I think I read everything that wasintroduced in the 1962 General Assembly. I went off in the afternoons after the session and read bills. That's not, not commonly done but I found that having, after having read them in '62 that I saw a lot of repeaters in '64 and '66 and '68 so it cut down on my work at a later time.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm, um-hm. Now, when you first went to the GeneralAssembly in 1962 did you feel you were elected by your constituents to vote the way they wanted you to vote or did you feel you were elected to vote as you thought best in the interest of the commonwealth or society as a whole? 01:01:00
FRYMIRE: I felt that they had elected me to exercise my best judgment,to view the facts as I found them and to consider their needs, but I'm the, I was the person who would be the better informed and to exercise my judgment accordingly.
SUCHANEK: Now, when you first went to legislature did you have any typeof legislative agenda that you wanted to accomplish?
FRYMIRE: I can't think of any agenda that I took with me at that time.I wanted to go and be a good legislator.
SUCHANEK: Well, before the actual, before you actually began the regularsession in '62, did you attend that pre-legislative conference or meeting held by the party?
FRYMIRE: Yes, I did. There was a meeting at Kentucky Dam Village which01:02:00was probably in December, I'm not sure.
SUCHANEK: What went on at those meetings?
FRYMIRE: (Sighs), it was an orientation meeting. I met Dick Moloneyfor the first time, and it was a matter, it was a time to come together and, and to meet the names of the people that you'd read about in the newspaper who had been the leaders and to have an orientation about what the Legislative Research Commission could do and what their function was, to meet the new members and to, in a relaxed setting, and sort of get to know them, have a drink with them, find out whether good guys, bad guys, whether they told good jokes or bad jokes, that sort of thing.
SUCHANEK: Is that where the leadership was picked?
FRYMIRE: In those days the governor picked the leadership. There was-01:03:00
SUCHANEK: But you got to vote on it, right?
FRYMIRE: Yeah, but it was a, it was a perfunctory thing. They told youwho it was gonna be and, and then-
SUCHANEK: What did you think about that process?
FRYMIRE: Not much (laughs). I'll leave it at that. We'll, we'll get-you'll come to another question later on-
FRYMIRE: and I'll expand on it a little bit more.
SUCHANEK: Alright. Now, for the '62 regular session you were put on,it was seven different committees, most notably, I guess, Courts and Legal Procedures, Criminal Law, Education, and Judiciary and Judicial Counsel. With your legal background I can see why you'd be interested 01:04:00in committees dealing with legal matters but how did you get put on these committees and especially the Education Committee? Did you ask to be put on these committees? Were you given a choice?
FRYMIRE: I'm having a little difficulty remembering. I believethat they would've asked us to list some committees that we would have preferred to be on and I'm, I'm confident I would've selected education. The varying law committees, I think probably what they did was scattered the lawyers out and put them on the various committees. I can't imagine that I would've asked to be placed on Criminal Law, for example. There's-and those committees as was done later on should've been combined. There were too many subcommittees, in fact, in existence in 1962. 01:05:00
SUCHANEK: What was your impression of Bert Combs as governor?
FRYMIRE: I thought Governor Combs himself was a good man and I onlyrecall of one time having gone to his office to intercede, to ask for something for this county-
SUCHANEK: Was that the mosquito control?
FRYMIRE: Yeah, we went, Senator Nichols, Fred Nichols and I wenttogether to ask for funding for-we had, we had a terrible mosquito problem in this county at that time and it was so severe that it would 01:06:00affect people who were working outside and, and with the, and children couldn't stay outside, just it was unbelievable. You couldn't play golf and-
SUCHANEK: What caused that?
FRYMIRE: Well, we had, it was a salt-marsh mosquito which is notindigenous, not a native of this area and apparently the salt-marsh mosquito had hitched a ride up here some way and, and they settled in and we had a lot of low lying areas that were swamps or nearly swamps and they were breeding in those swamps. So we developed a spraying program and a larviciding program to attempt to spray the swamps before the trees came out and the foliage came out and that sort of thing in 01:07:00an effort to stop it at the very beginning. And we were working with the Department of Agriculture, they had a spray plane and they would come to town and spray and, so I remember going to see him to ask for some additional funding to operate that program.
SUCHANEK: Yeah, I think he promised you $50,000 to purchase morespraying equipment and perhaps another airplane and that kind of thing and that, remembering your '65 primary for the Senate you mentioned the fact that someone would have to ask Bert Combs and Ned Breathitt on why that $50,000 vanished.
FRYMIRE: Yeah. Yeah, I-we had, and I don't remember what happened toit, and maybe I never knew what happened to it. That was probably, probably put in a budget. We were talking about $50,000 at that time but this was at an earlier time, this was '62. I did not admire the 01:08:00people around Combs and we referred to them as the "mountain mafia." And he had a group of people that, that I didn't think served him well. Now, that may have been a narrow view on my point, my, on my part but that was my perception that I did not want to have to deal with the "mountain mafia" to deal with the governor. And that remained a part of my thinking about him and when he ran for governor the second time against Wendell Ford, I, my attitude was we don't need the "mountain mafia" back because if he came back he came back with baggage. And Governor Combs himself, I think, is a good man but sometimes your 01:09:00friends can make you unattractive.
SUCHANEK: How did they make him unattractive?
FRYMIRE: Well, in the sense that-I suppose I didn't want to have todeal with his aides or those particular aides, not any aide, but those particular aides and I don't want to mention names-
SUCHANEK: That's okay. What was it about those aides that upset you?Was it pressure tactics or attitude?
FRYMIRE: A little-attitude, pressure tactics, that sort of thing.
FRYMIRE: Yep. Yep.
SUCHANEK: What kind of an administrator was Bert Combs? Was he a hands-on type administrator? Was he interested in all the bills that came on the floor or that were introduced? 01:10:00
FRYMIRE: As a, as a freshman legislator I (clears throat) was notin the position to where I think I could legitimately answer that question with any degree of-based upon knowledge. What they did in those days is that the leadership would, would meet with the governor, I think, on probably a daily basis or, at least, nearly every day during the, during the session and they would discuss the progress of the legislation that was important to the administration and when the majority floor leader would come on the floor he would know what day they were gonna move the bill and which bills they were going to move and if something wasn't ready to be moved he didn't move it. Now, 01:11:00that came out of a prior meeting that was held earlier that day in the governor's office with the governor and with his, Dick Moloney and perhaps his majority leader from the Senate. So I don't know, I can't really answer with any degree of accuracy what kind of an administrator that Governor Combs was. I wasn't that close to him.
SUCHANEK: Okay. [Pause in tape]. What was your impression of HarryKing Lowman as Speaker of the House?
FRYMIRE: Harry King Lowman was a superb parliamentarian, very ablespeaker. I was impressed with his ability to, to run the business of 01:12:00the House. Running the House is not easy. It's not like the Senate. The Senate you expect everyone to be a gentleman and they, they are. The House can be a very unruly group and I've seen it in pandemonium and chaos and Harry King was, he had a number of skills that were a little, combined with a little dramatic flair and he could cause people through his dramatic flair, I suppose, to settle down a little bit and I thought he was, the combination of Harry, Harry King Lowman as speaker and Dick Moloney as majority leader was a powerful combination. One was a very astute parliamentarian, Dick Moloney had the capacity 01:13:00to intimidate 99 other people and cause him to do his bidding. So, they were, they were a tough combination.
SUCHANEK: And in your opinion they were, as you said, were handpicked bythe governor, they were Bert Combs's men so to speak?
FRYMIRE: That was the understanding in those days that if-the governorhad the right to select his leadership and if you became a part of the leadership team that you were to be loyal to the governor and loyalty to the governor meant in every instance, not, not just some of the, some of the time.
SUCHANEK: Well, during this 1962 session you sponsored House Bill152 which established conditions for involuntary manslaughter in the first degree and House 210 which redefined grand and petty larceny limitations both of which passed in the House, I was just wondering if you can recall the genesis of those two bills, where they came from or 01:14:00who might've asked you to sponsor that kind of legislation?
FRYMIRE: I think those bills were the product of my law school trainingand the general realization that, as to the grand larceny, that it was hopelessly antiquated as to the threshold of a crime being committed, and I think in those days it was $20. Anything over $20 was grand larceny. So, even in 1960 if you stole a fellow's country ham you'd be sent to the penitentiary. And so we, the purpose of that was to put a little higher threshold for, to distinguish between petty larceny and grand larceny, one which is a misdemeanor and the other a felony. The 01:15:00other one I believe is that-
SUCHANEK: That was dealing with involuntary manslaughter in the firstdegree.
FRYMIRE: Okay, I think that had to do, that may have been a, an earlyform of drunk driving legislation. In that, I believe, and my memory may be a little dim, but it may have provided that if a person was negligent and the negligence was determined to be gross negligence, even in the operation of an automobile where a person may be driving under the influence or for whatever reason, if the negligence was gross then it would provide for a penitentiary offence. That, the genesis of that was, of that bill, was in a course that I had in law school 01:16:00that was taught by Roy Moreland, who was a criminal law professor, and he would've pointed out the need to have a-here's an area of the law in which there is no punishment to fit this type of conduct, and he also had pointed out the unreasonable low threshold for a felony offence, the $20. So I think those two bills were a product of my law school training. And also a bill that I sponsored that, to clean up some of the snafus that existed in the corporation law were items that I remembered from law school where the professor had pointed out an inconsistency in the law.
SUCHANEK: So your law school training did come in very handy?
FRYMIRE: Yes it did.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, in 1963 you ran unopposed in both the primary and01:17:00general elections, I believe.
SUCHANEK: Why did you not have an opponent at this time, do you recall?
FRYMIRE: I don't know other than I was grateful that I didn't have one.
FRYMIRE: Every now-
SUCHANEK: Do you know if Clarence Moloney was still around at that time?
FRYMIRE: Yes, Clarence was very much around at that time and he mayhave determined that I might not be easy to beat which I don't think I would've have been easy to beat in that second session because I'd had an opportunity at that time to demonstrate, I suppose, whether or not I was a good legislator and I came away feeling that I was a good legislator.
SUCHANEK: Now, in the 1964 session Ned Breathitt was governor and Harry01:18:00Lee Waterfield was lieutenant governor. Breathitt, of course, had been Combs's handpicked successor and Waterfield was "Happy" Chandler's old running mate. That created a lot of friction in the State Senate, I know, between the Clements, the Combs and Breathitt supporters and the Chandler-Waterfield supporters. Now, I was wondering if this friction was also evident in the House.
FRYMIRE: To a far lesser degree in the House. I-in '64 we had our ownset of problems that transcended to the, the infighting in the Senate. Now, we were aware of what was going on in the Senate but there were other things that captivated our interest. Harry King Lowman was defeated for the '64 session in rather a fluke situation. He wasn't expected to lose but he lost, and Dick Moloney died. So we needed, 01:19:00we had new leadership coming. And the governor, Governor Breathitt, was a good friend of Shelby McCallum from Benton and he had designated Shelby to be the speaker. Dr. Mitchel Denham who had been a very well respected member of the House was tapped to be the majority leader. Both of these gentlemen were fine gentlemen. Shelby McCallum is a perfect example of a person ride in an automobile as a passenger for sixteen years and never learned how to drive it. And while Shelby 01:20:00had been a member of the House of Representatives for some fourteen, sixteen years he did not possess the skills to manage the House for Representatives as a speaker, he did not have the parliamentary skills, he did not have the personal presence. It was, it was chaos.
FRYMIRE: Dr. Denham, while a fine representative, did not have theintimate knowledge of government that it took to explain the bills that he was handling. He could explain them but it's the little things that count sometimes and you have to know the, sort of the inside story and he didn't know the inside story and there wasn't anything 01:21:00in his training that helped him with the inside story. So we had the combination, a new leadership, we had the combination of new government, a governor with an ambitious program, we had a serious civil rights movement at that time, we had the reclamation program, the strip mine bills, so there were a lot of things to make a lot of people very, very nervous going on in the 1964 House of Representatives. And after that session was over I thought I'm not going back to that, that place again. It's crazy, I don't need that (laughs), and I'm either gonna move to the-Fred Nichols at that time had indicated that he was not 01:22:00seeking the Senate and I had made the determination I was either gonna move to the Senate or I was gonna stay home. The 1964 House had been that bad and it was, it was just a, when I say it was pandemonium it was, it was chaos and there were some days that it almost seemed like there was uprisings in the, with some of the issues that came along.
SUCHANEK: And Shelby McCallum and Mitchel Denham weren't equipped tostand above those types of brushfires?
FRYMIRE: Shelby would have sometimes three people on the floorrecognized at the same time (Suchanek laughs). He didn't, he didn't have the, he didn't have the (unintelligible) to find out what that person is going-for what purpose did the gentleman arise, he would say, "The gentleman from Breckenridge" or "gentleman from Hopkins" and 01:23:00really if you're a good speaker you have to know why that man is on his feet and what, and for what purpose. And then, and only then, do you permit him to speak. Either-
SUCHANEK: Especially if he's, means to oppose an administration bill.
FRYMIRE: Well, that and just to handle the orderly business of theday. So it was a, it was a hard session. John Y. Brown was in that session, the senior.
SUCHANEK: Senior, uh-huh.
FRYMIRE: And John Y., if you'd ever served with John Y. he makes aspeech every day, not necessarily about the business at hand (Suchanek laughs), but whatever he wants to speak about that day and so we had a number of speeches from John Y, Sr. They were very interesting but it, most of them did not have anything to do with going forward with the 01:24:00business of the House.
SUCHANEK: Well, do you see that as a weakness of Breathitt'sadministration in the fact that he didn't have the capacity perhaps to judge his leadership properly, to put McCallum and Denham in a position where, in a job they couldn't handle?
FRYMIRE: I think what he would say on the, on the flipside of that coinis that he got his legislation through and I think he probably did. Now, whether he got it through in the form that he originally wanted it or whether he had to compromise in some way I don't know. I think essentially he got his legislation adopted.
FRYMIRE: But it was, it was very painful.
SUCHANEK: So, if you're comparing Bert Combs to Ned Breathitt, it seemsas though you're saying that Breathitt was not as strong a leader as Bert Combs, is that what you think?
FRYMIRE: Oh, I think that's true. Yeah, I think that's true. Yeah.01:25:00
SUCHANEK: Now, for the '64 session you had been made chairman of theCommittee on Criminal Law and by what you said earlier you don't know what you were doing on that committee to begin with, normally it was- people perceived to be loyal administration men were put in charge of committees back then and I was wondering whether Breathitt or at least the Democratic leadership in the House, namely Shelby McCallum and Mitchel Denham, considered you in that vein?
FRYMIRE: I don't think they considered me probably one way or theother as far as being loyal. I think they considered me as being 01:26:00an energetic young legislator who would work and that was probably deserving of having a committee chairmanship and since they had so many of them if you didn't have one then you might be slighted and then if a fellow is slighted he can cause you more troubles than, than otherwise. So I expect that they said, "yeah, we'll given Frymire that chairmanship." I really don't remember. I don't have a recollection about having asked for it so I think it was something that was given.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, during that '64 session you sponsored House Bill383 authorizing tax credits for educational purposes, do you recall the origination of that bill?
FRYMIRE: Yes, me (laughs).
SUCHANEK: Oh, okay. It just seemed like the right thing to do?01:27:00
FRYMIRE: Well, it seemed like the right thing to do and I supposeselfishly I was thinking I've got all these children and one of these days they're gonna go to school and I might, I might need a little help (Suchanek laughs), and there must be other people out there like me who have the same kind of problems and the same kind of needs and it seemed to me that that was something that the state could have done that was a recognition of the efforts of parents to send their children to school and I didn't think it would cause the state that much and it might be considered as an inducement to some parents to send their children for, for higher education. I thought it was a good bill then, and I, the 01:28:00legislature apparently did too because we passed it, what? Three times?
FRYMIRE: (Laughs), that's-yeah. Yeah.
SUCHANEK: Now, you also sponsored House Resolution 131 declaring theintent of the House on House Bill Number One. Now, House Bill Number One dealt with establishing new procedures for state purchasing which was an administration bill. Do you recall why you felt the need to sponsor House Resolution 131?
SUCHANEK: Let me, let me refresh your memory.
SUCHANEK: House Resolution 131 stated that it was the intent of theHouse to include all purchases by all agencies regardless of the source of funds or account numbers except highway contracts and surplus property utilization assigned to the Department of Education.
FRYMIRE: Okay. Let me go back. Ned Breathitt in one of his either01:29:00campaign rhetoric or maybe this State of the Union address said that he was gonna have a model purchasing code for the state. I served on some committee, I don't know, remember the name of the legislative committee, but we saw the draft of the model purchasing code. It was a piece of junk. And obviously that was campaign rhetoric and very little attention had been given to drafting a piece of legislation implement the purchasing code, and I remember in committee, and I can remember John Swinford being in that committee, that we sat down and rewrote portions of that model purchasing code to make it work. And usually I 01:30:00don't think you see legislators today doing that type work, but in the '60s you didn't have that kind of expertise in the Legislative Research Commission and so it was not uncommon-I wrote most of my amendments, if I had an amendment to a bill I'd do some drafting on my own and I don't have a recollection about the House resolution but I suspect we must have found some mother lode of purchases that were not covered by the bill and we wanted to give the sense to the, to the Finance Department that we wanted it in effect under the umbrella of the purchasing code.
SUCHANEK: Okay. This is a good time to stop-
[End of Tape 1, Side 2]01:31:00
[Begin of Tape 2, Side 1]
SUCHANEK: Now during the '65 primary you had two opponents, NilesDillingham and William Kington. Governor Breathitt came up strongly for Dillingham, made at least one stop in Madisonville campaign for Dillingham and claimed you were being backed by his rival for control of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Harry Lee Waterfield. First of all, was Waterfield backing you?
FRYMIRE: I had the support of Waterfield.
SUCHANEK: Okay. If so, what form did this backing take? Was it monetaryaid for your campaign or did he supply precinct workers or was it just a verbal endorsement?
FRYMIRE: As far as I know, he said that he was, he was for me and,I never saw any monetary help and I never saw any precinct workers. This-in making the determination to run for the Senate I gave you 01:32:00part of the reason while ago that I was ready to leave the House and Fred Nichols who had been the senator was not seeking reelection and I remember an inquiry from Governor Waterfield about how would I feel about Governor Waterfield and certainly I had known him since I was thirteen years old when I was a page boy and he was the speaker of the House so, in my mind, he was a fine person and I did not see any evil in him and had every reason to feel kindly toward him. Governor Breathitt sent for me and said in effect, "I understand you're gonna run for the, want to run for the Senate." And I said, "Yes, I do 01:33:00want to run for the Senate." And he said, "I will support you if you will do these things." And I-"vote for my budget bill, agree with my leadership," and there was one other thing and I can't remember what it is. And I met with him at his home in Hopkinsville and, in the presence of Frank Ramsey and Frank had, apparently the governor had called Frank, and Frank and I drove down to meet with the governor. And my answer to him was that, "if I agreed now to vote for your budget and I agree to elect your leadership I might as well stay home (Suchanek laughs). You've taken away all my bargaining for later in the session." So I couldn't, I told him I would, I may be able to 01:34:00vote for his leadership, I'd have to know who his leaders are going to be and if they were good people I'd vote for them and if I thought otherwise I wouldn't. And on the budget, I certainly would hope that I could vote for his budget but again, I hadn't seen it and that's, I'm not gonna vote for a pig in a poke. And he had one other, there were three, three things and I can't recall what the other one was and so we left, we parted that day and he got Niles Dillingham who was the publisher of the Dawson Springs paper to be the candidate. I think probably he talked with Ramsey to see if Ramsey would run and if the governor had thought that I was hard to get along with he-
SUCHANEK: (Laughs), he didn't know Ramsey.
FRYMIRE: he didn't know Ramsey (both laugh). So anyway, we had aninteresting race. We had a new senatorial district which we had 01:35:00redistricted in the one- man-one-vote and we put together the, in this district which I didn't know at the time I was running, it was-I didn't know at the time we were passing the law that I would be running for that district but it was McLean, Hopkins, Caldwell, and Lyon County, a very peculiar lineup and certainly not a group of counties that have common interests. McLean County is more oriented toward Daviess County and Owensboro. Lyon County is, is down in the lake country and they are not oriented toward Madisonville at all. So it was-when people would say, "Where are you from?" And then they'd say, "Well, who's in the district?" And you, in Lyon County you'd say, "Well, McLean County 01:36:00is in the district," and they'd sort of have this glazed look (Suchanek laughs). But it was an interesting race and if the governor if he had to choose me up on it I couldn't have asked for a better one.
SUCHANEK: You respected your opponent then?
FRYMIRE: Well, he was, he was not a strong campaigner so, in that sensethat was to my advantage.
SUCHANEK: Now after your victory, the Associated Press out of Frankfortcalled you and I quote, "the most politically attractive candidate of the anti-administration faction," end quote. And I don't suppose you were welcomed back to Frankfort with open arms by Ned Breathitt, were you?
FRYMIRE: We got along reasonably well. I don't suppose he went out of01:37:00his way to do anything for me but I don't-Governor Breathitt is not a mean person, he's not a vindictive person, that's not his character and personality. I think if it'd been Louie Nunn I think, you know, Louie would've cut my ears off (Suchanek laughs), but Ned Breathitt's-that was not his style.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Also the Associated Press intimated that you wouldprobably be a candidate for governor in '67, had you given that any thought?
FRYMIRE: In '67 there were-a group of young people met on severaloccasions, I'm gonna say groups of fifteen, sixteen people came across the state and we talked about running a governor and a lieutenant governor and probably if we'd had a mentor, if you please, or if we'd, 01:38:00and when I say mentor, somebody to show us how to raise money and to offer encouragement, I think that could've been done in, in '67. I think the handwriting was on the wall at that time for the Democrats. I think there had been the infighting with Breathitt and Waterfield, the-some of the, I'm gonna call them scandals, they may not have been scandals, but they were during the Combs administration-
SUCHANEK: You mean the Highway Department?
FRYMIRE: Highway Department and there were, there had been a lot of justbad news coming out of Frankfort for a long time. And I remember at the time observing that I don't know of any Democrat who can beat Henry 01:39:00Ward and I don't know of anybody Henry Ward can beat (Suchanek laughs). And Louie Nunn came along at that time and said, you know, "it's time for a change."
SUCHANEK: Um-hm, and it was.
FRYMIRE: "Let's clean out Frankfort," and the people said it's time fora change.
FRYMIRE: And maybe with some people that were not identified with the,those political leaders of the past eight years may have been able to salvage it, I don't know, but-
SUCHANEK: How well did you know Harry Lee Waterfield?
FRYMIRE: Well, I, in the ways that I have spoken of, I was in the '66Senate when he was the lieutenant governor and the presiding officer. I didn't hang out in his office. I knew him as the President of 01:40:00the Senate. After he left politics I was associated with him again when I served on the Board of Regents at Murray, and he's a very strong supporter of Murray State University and has served on their Foundation. So I renewed some acquaintances with him. I've always had a very pleasant association with him.
SUCHANEK: Did you have any contact with "Happy" Chandler at all?
FRYMIRE: Had my first contact with "Happy" Chandler when I was aboutfour or five years old, when "Happy" came through Irvington and came to the post office to call on my dad, that was before the Hatch Act and you could, postmasters could, engage in political activity and "Happy" was there. I don't, I don't have a memory as to whether he was governor at that time or whether that was in the interlude after he was 01:41:00governor but I remember that he gave me probably 26 cents, which was more money than I knew existed at that time and I-we had some, I took it home with me and I remember to preserve it I dug a hole and put it under the wooden steps and that went up to our house, and never did, never could find it.
SUCHANEK: (Laughs), did you ever go to Versailles when you were in thelegislature and talk to "Happy"?
FRYMIRE: I remember going to Versailles on one occasion to visit with"Happy," and I'm trying to remember the circumstance.
SUCHANEK: But you didn't go there often?
FRYMIRE: No. No, I can recall the one occasion.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, in the 1966 session of the Senate, as you01:42:00mentioned Lawrence Wetherby, when Lawrence Wetherby was president pro tem and J. D. Buckman was the majority floor leader-now, in the '64 session it seemed like Breathitt had put some Chandler supporters, James C. Ware and Cap Gardner, in charge of the Senate as a conciliatory move toward Waterfield. In the '66 session did Breathitt abandon that conciliatory maneuvering and were Wetherby and Buckman more Breathitt men or were they more neutral in your opinion?
FRYMIRE: Buckman was very, very much pro-Breathitt and anti-Waterfield,and who was the other person?
SUCHANEK: Lawrence Wetherby.
FRYMIRE: Wetherby. Wehterby the same. Well, Wetherby was always lowkey, never much out in front when I, during the one term that I served 01:43:00with him, two terms, in the Senate. He was there both years. Very low key. I don't recall him making speeches except on maybe one or two occasions. In the, in the '66 Senate, which was my first session, what I learned in that session was that the vote was 21 to 17 and it didn't make much difference about what the issues were-
SUCHANEK: Is that right?
FRYMIRE: the vote was 21 to 17. And sometimes you'd think that thegood would prevail but that was not always true. You could have a good 01:44:00issue and it was so politically divided in that session you could take the roll call and pretty well mark it and know how everybody was gonna vote. House, you could never do that, you know, the House was, you always got twenty people hanging around for a good speech and they'll vote for the good speech, (Suchanek laughs), but the Senate you could get up and give a tremendous speech and, you know, full of reason and wisdom and you just know that all these people-
SUCHANEK: Wouldn't make any difference?
FRYMIRE: wouldn't make a bit of difference.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm, um-hm.
FRYMIRE: Yeah (laughs).
SUCHANEK: Now, in the 1966 session, I suppose two of the most importantpieces of legislation that came up were Senate Bill 161 which proposed an alteration of the 1891 Constitution by direct submission for ratification in November of 1966 which you cosponsored and House Bill Number Two, the Civil Rights Bill. If we could, let's take House Bill 01:45:00Number Two first. It passed 36 to 1 in the Senate, but I was wondering if you can recall any opposition or grumbling to the bill either on the Senate floor or out of doors. Now, the federal bill had passed in '64, I believe.
FRYMIRE: Yeah, I'm confident that there were considerable rumblesindoors and outdoors. And I can't, I can't cite you chapter and verse but I know that there were rumbles out of doors and I think the people inside the legislature were very sensitive and, at that time, they were sort of hoping this doesn't get to be a big issue. I think when the vote, when the bill came along I think they probably approached it on 01:46:00the basis, "let's address this quickly and move on."
SUCHANEK: Now, George Brand from Mayfield was the lone dissenting voteon the Civil Rights Bill and I was wondering if you have any idea of why he would vote against the bill.
FRYMIRE: I don't ever recall having a conversation with George Brand.
FRYMIRE: We-I know that we were there at the same time but I don't-hewas, pretty much kept to himself. I really had no interaction with him.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Secondly, why do you think the people of Kentuckycontinually reject any attempt to alter the Constitution of 1891 which everyone admits is outdated, unwieldy, and inefficient?
FRYMIRE: I think primarily they, they are highly suspicious of the people01:47:00in elected office and are fearful that more power will be collected by those people as a result of the change of the Constitution.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Now, you say in 1967 general election Louie Nunn'svictory didn't really surprise you. You'd kind of seen that coming, is that right?
FRYMIRE: That's right.
SUCHANEK: Now, some claim that Nunn's campaign had some racialovertones, do you recall anything like that?
FRYMIRE: Not now, I may have at the time but at, at this point back Ido not.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, at the pre-legislative conference held prior tothe beginning of the 1968 session, the Democrats were faced with a situation that they had not faced since 1943 which was the last time a Republican had been elected governor in the state of Kentucky. Wendell 01:48:00had been elected lieutenant governor and at the pre- legislative session William Sullivan was elected president pro tem or the Senate and you were elected majority floor leader. First of all, what was the mood like at that pre- legislative conference, do you recall?
FRYMIRE: Tumultuous. I was not the choice of Wendell Ford to be themajority floor leader. He had his slate of people that he wanted to bring in, and there were a number of us and part of these people could properly be cast I suppose as friends of Waterfield from a, from the previous session and a number of us felt that we wanted to share in 01:49:00the leadership. And there was considerable skirmishing going on in the months preceding the legislative leadership meeting. As I recall it, we didn't, from my particular group, we weren't much interested in the pro tem's position, we were willing to concede the pro tem's position. Now that, I haven't thought about this for a long time and I might be in error about my mem--, my recollection, but my recollection is that we wanted the majority floor leader's position and probably 01:50:00caucus chairman's position and we were willing to in effect let Ford's group pick two and we wanted two, there being four of the leadership positions. Gibson Downing was our preference to be the floor leader and I was gonna take a, a lesser position.
SUCHANEK: As caucus chairman?
FRYMIRE: I suppose. I don't, I don't remember what it was at that timebut probably the caucus chairman. And I think everybody made telephone calls and went to other senators to see who we could get lined up and that sort of thing. On the eve of going to Kentucky Dam, Gibson called me and said in effect, he couldn't muster the votes to get it done and 01:51:00he would follow me to do whatever I could do to get the votes. And that's the way we went to the, to the conference. I remember meeting with Wendell Ford. He sent for Gibson and I to meet him and we went over and met with him and at that point in time there was, and my recollection is, even after that meeting, there was no give. He had his slate and he was not going to include anybody.
SUCHANEK: Do you recall who was on his slate?
FRYMIRE: I think Sullivan was the pro tem. I think Huddleston was to bethe floor leader-
SUCHANEK: He became floor leader afterwards.
FRYMIRE: he became floor leader afterwards and then he had probableTom Garrett was the caucus chairman and somebody else, he had four 01:52:00good people, I don't quarrel with him there. And we in effect said, "You know, we're not gonna do it. We're gonna divide this thing and, because we've got a group of people here that it just cries out to for there be fair representation among all segments of the, of the party." And so we sort of had a standoff for a while. And Ford finally conceded. Now, I don't know what the mechanics of his concession got to be or I mean why he agreed for me to come along but anyway, we, when it was announced to the public it was announced as Sullivan was the pro tem, I was the majority leader, Huddleston was the caucus chairman, and probably Garrett was the whip. And I don't think the press had 01:53:00any inkling as to the very, very difficult time that we'd had over that couple of days because I think everybody outwardly had kept a smile on their face but inwardly things were pretty tight.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Well, let me ask you this, were the differencesbetween your group and in Ford's group philosophical? You know, what was the basis for your splitting into this type of factionalism?
FRYMIRE: Probably had the roots in the, in the Combs-Breathitt versusWaterfield, that was probably the, the early genesis of it.
FRYMIRE: And then coupled with the fact that, by God, we're as good as01:54:00you are, you know (laughs), why not?
SUCHANEK: Okay. Did you and the rest of the Democratic leadership drawup your own legislative agenda apart from the governor's? What was the Democratic Party's strategy going into that '68 session?
FRYMIRE: Probably survival (laughs), that's it. The '68 session wasa very difficult session. We, Jim Fleming was then the chair or the head of the Legislative Research Commission and Jim Fleming knows more about state government, or knew more at that time, than any other person, in my opinion. He was very close to Wendell Ford. Ford was 01:55:00very supportive of Jim Fleming and the Legislative Research Commission and they adopted-Fleming wrote and we adopted new rules and we pared the number of committees down from forty something to where each member would probably serve on three committees at that time. And we were attempting to make the committee system work and I think that was a goal of, of everyone in the leadership to attempt to make that committee system work. And this was really our first time out. We really didn't have support staff to speak of. I had a little office. Bill Sullivan and I shared a little office and we had one secretary who worked for us most of the time. The LRC hired extra people but you 01:56:00really just didn't have places to meet and you didn't have the people to help you. As the floor leader that year I, that session, I don't think I ever worked harder in my life. It was as physically draining as anything I've ever done. Part of that was attributed to the fact that Louie Nunn said to all the lobbyists who came, "Fellows, the game is not on the first floor, it's on the third floor. Your destiny is in the hands of the General Assembly. I'm a minority governor, you go see the General Assembly." And they did. And you could not walk down the hall without being stopped any number of times by various lobbyists and groups who wanted some time to see you. The days started about seven 01:57:00in the morning and ended about ten or eleven in the evening and-
SUCHANEK: Were there any particular lobbyists that were more persistentthan others?
FRYMIRE: Well, just the sheer numbers and everybody wants to talk tosomeone in the leadership and, and that's where to me was exhausting because you felt that you needed to be available to speak with people and you attempted to do that. But in 20/20 hindsight I know I tried to serve on the three committees and do my floor leader's work and that sort of thing and it was probably a little bigger bite of the apple than even a person who's young and energetic, and could do. Nunn did not have a legislative program like Ned Breathitt had had. Ned 01:58:00Breathitt had a program where about every Monday he had a new piece of legislation that was being presented to roll through on a certain timetable. Nunn, on the other hand, sort of said, "You fellows go, go ahead and do whatever people in the legislature do." And then he came with his speech about the need to raise the additional funds and he had picked off a number of the Democratic Senators, some for jobs, some for contracts, some for who-knows. But you could, you could trace about everyone of those fellows after the vote and you could look back and 01:59:00find what the quid pro quo for that vote got to be. He did it in such a fashion that as floor leader I never had an idea that it was coming down until it, till it happened-
SUCHANEK: Is that right?
FRYMIRE: and he had the votes.
SUCHANEK: Until the vote was taken?
FRYMIRE: Yeah, or may have known about it a day or so before but notenough time to cause anything to happen. So he-
SUCHANEK: Did that make you angry with the other Democrats? What, well,let me-
FRYMIRE: Well, not angry. I've been in the, I remember I'd been theresince '62 and I've seen people swap their votes for bridges and roads and that sort of thing at an earlier time so it wasn't, it was just more of the same and I was disappointed. I'd hoped that we were beyond that but we weren't then and we aren't now.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. What was the Democratic leadership's position on the02:00:00sales tax increase?
FRYMIRE: Our position was that the 5 percent was excess, that he did notneed the 5 percent and even to do all the things that he wanted to do that a cent, a four cent would very adequately have covered and met all the needs.
SUCHANEK: Okay. So you would've have supported a four cent increase?
FRYMIRE: Yeah, begrudgingly we would have supported it.
SUCHANEK: I mean a four cent sales tax.
FRYMIRE: Yeah, I think he'd made his case. I think he had convinced thelegislature that there had to be more money.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Now, during that session what was your relationship orthe Democratic leadership's relationship with Louie Nunn?
FRYMIRE: I don't recall ever having been in his office-
SUCHANEK: Is that right?
FRYMIRE: during that session, unless it was to go and inform him that02:01:00we had completed our work at the end of the session. I think I recall going down for that.
FRYMIRE: I don't recall being there on any other occasion. He madeno overtures to us. It was a strange time in that there was really no, overt cooperation between the House and the Senate. I remember suggesting to Julian Carroll that we needed to meet and coordinate and Julian wasn't, was not interested in doing that.
SUCHANEK: Why do you think that was?
FRYMIRE: Well, he was a potential candidate or wanted to be a candidateat that time and I think he was a little suspicious of Ford, probably a little suspicious of me and he thought he could do his own thing and 02:02:00why become entangled with the other people.
SUCHANEK: What was your impression of Wendell Ford as lieutenantgovernor?
FRYMIRE: I thought Ford did a very good job in presiding over theSenate. I thought he was, did things that a lieutenant governor ought to do, you know, you make yourself available, attempt to help people, do whatever the governor will permit you to do. Probably the most important thing he did was, he attempted to bring the, the organization of the Democratic Party back together again.
SUCHANEK: I was gonna ask you, do you think he was a strong leader forthe Democratic Party at that time?
FRYMIRE: Became one. Yes, he did.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. You mean over time he learned how or began to asserthimself perhaps?
FRYMIRE: Ford is, is interested in politics. Ford is interested in02:03:00the Democratic Party. A lot of people who hold high offices are not interested in the political party. Wallace Wilkinson, Martha Layne Collins, John Y. Brown have had little or no interest in the party. That was important for Ford and Ford was able to get "Dee" Huddleston elected because Wendell Ford said, "Democrats let's elect "Dee" Huddleston United States Senator." "Dee" Huddleston didn't get himself elected, it was Wendell Ford who elected him, and he could do that because he was in the governor's office and he said, "This is important that the party elect "Dee" Huddleston." So I think it was an idea that has been with him over time and through repetition and practice and what-have-you he's, he's viewed as that strong person who is "Mr. 02:04:00Democrat" in the state of Kentucky.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm, but you wouldn't call him a philosophical man as far aspolitics go, or political philosophy goes?
FRYMIRE: I think Ford is philosophical. I think Ford is a, a very quickstudy when it comes to political issues that will, will work and not work. He's, he's about as astute a person I think in national politics or state politics as you will find. He has a philosophy, I'm not gonna identify his philosophy because I think that might be presumptuous on my part, to say what I think his philosophy is. 02:05:00
SUCHANEK: Well we've already talked talk to him so (laughs)-
SUCHANEK: We can listen to his tape for that.
SUCHANEK: Now, some people have pointed to the election of a Republicanto the governor's office as a turning point in the history of the Kentucky legislature because with the Democrats firmly in control of the General Assembly it forced the Democrats in the legislature to begin thinking for themselves instead of just being told what to do by the governor. Also you sponsored Senate Bill 177, which you mentioned, which established the interim committee system which Nunn vetoed but it was instituted another way, a round-about way sort of, and some people say that these two developments began to lead the General Assembly towards legislative independence. Do you agree with this assessment?
FRYMIRE: I do.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Was there any talk or any notion about legislativeindependence in the General Assembly at that time? Do you recall 02:06:00Wendell Ford, for example, talking about an independent legislature or Julian Carroll talking about the legislature becoming more independent from the governor's office?
FRYMIRE: I don't recall particular conversations with either of them orhearing them converse. I was-probably would've had more opportunity to hear Julian in '62 and '64 because we were running in about the same circles in, when I was in the House. And then I think Ford's interest in legislative independence is the proof it's in the pudding in that the, what we did in '68 with the interim commission, committee system, Jim Fleming's rewriting the rules, the reduction of the committees, 02:07:00all of those things that Wendell Ford had have hands on opportunity, hands-on attention at that time.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm, (unintelligible)-
FRYMIRE: I think Julian was certainly interested in legislativeindependence although I think when he was governor I think he pretty well controlled everything-
SUCHANEK: Well, I was just gonna say the same thing has been said aboutWendell Ford when he became governor that he controlled the leadership selection and for all of Julian Carroll's talk about legislative independence, Julian Carroll was the one who had the, had both houses of the General Assembly wired for sound down into his office so he could hear exactly what was going on.
FRYMIRE: Yep, yeah.
SUCHANEK: So, it seems that, you know, once the shoe was on the otherfoot they reverted back to the old form.
SUCHANEK: And I was wondering as you mentioned at lunch that you wereappointed adjutant general by Wendell Ford, if you had any opportunity 02:08:00to see any of that occurring, any changes in them once they became governor?
FRYMIRE: Ford was an excellent governor to work for, in that he didn'ttell me as adjutant general how to run my department. He didn't want to tell me. He wanted me to run it, and I did. And Julian on the other hand, was a different approach. Julian wanted to know how you're going to spend your money and if I wanted to paint the kitchen of the armory at Bowling Green, Julian knew about it (both laugh), Ford could've care less (laughs) so different, different management styles. Ford 02:09:00was more or less, "it's your department, here's your money, here's your budget, you go and run it and you got any problems, come back and see me. Otherwise, see you." Julian's, under his administration you could have the money appropriated for you but you'd have to go back to the Department of Finance about every three months and beg for it again, which from a department head was a very frustrating way to do business.
SUCHANEK: What was your relationship with your Republican colleagues inthe Senate at that time like Wendell Van Hoose for example?
FRYMIRE: Got along with Wendell Van Hoose very well. I don't know thatwe ever had a disagreement. We sort of had a working relationship, if I was gonna to say something mean and ugly about the Republicans, which 02:10:00you do from time to time, I would go to Wendell and say, "I'm gonna say something mean and ugly about the Republicans."
SUCHANEK: And he would understand that?
FRYMIRE: And he would understand and he would in turn would do thesame for me, he let me know when I was, when the, "be prepared because there's gonna be a little, you know, partisan speech coming," and so we had a pretty good working relationship in that way. I remember when Nunn was coming with his five cents we tried to pick off some of his Republicans and I thought we had one or two of them who, whose districts were on the border where they were particular sensitive about the merchants in those areas about Kentuckians going across the river into Cincinnati. And I thought we had Clyde Middleton lined up at one 02:11:00point in time to vote against the nickel tax but we lost Clyde. But I felt, I thought we got one or two of them, I don't remember right now.
SUCHANEK: I don't recall either. What incentive would you have giventhem to side with you?
FRYMIRE: Well, we had nothing to give them other than the camaraderie ofdefeating an onerous tax on the people of Kentucky.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. How did having Republican in the governor's chairhelp the, your Republican colleagues? Did it help them at all or did it mean anything to them to have a Republican in the governor's chair even though the Democrats took control the majorities?
FRYMIRE: I'm sure it did and I don't know that I can tell you the ways.I, it would not have been a visible thing on the floor of the House 02:12:00or the Senate but I'm confident that within the Finance Department and other places that if you were doing business or if, if you had a constituent who needed to do something within one of those departments the fact that you had that Republican governor would've been an asset. And I remember, to give you an example of that, about the time that the session started in '68, Louie Nunn had a fellow by the name of Alex McIntyre who was a former legislator and Alex came by and he said, "Anything you need." I said, "Alex, as a matter of fact there is. I've had an easement for a person down in Hopkins County through part of the 02:13:00Pennyrile Forest that has been on somebody's desk for about six months. It's, nothing wrong with it, I mean it's legitimate, it's okay, it, when you get an easement from the state the Highway Department has to make an appraisal, the Finance Department has to approve it and it's got three different agencies. And I said, "it's gone through two and it's stacked on somebody's desk and," I said, "if you could get it off that guy's desk I'd appreciate it." That afternoon it was off that guy's desk. Now, you know, the governor although he doesn't own, he's in the minority, as far as the executive offices are concerned he has great influence and he appoints those department heads so he gets a lot done. So, yes, I would say the Republican legislators benefited greatly 02:14:00because at that point in time they could, they could get things done.
SUCHANEK: I don't know if this is an intimate-type question or not,but as majority floor leader what method would you use to try to keep the Democrats in line, say, on the sales tax increase? What tools were available to the Democratic leadership in order to get the Democrats to see it your way?
FRYMIRE: Persuasion, some idea of appeal to party loyalty, that wasabout it. We didn't really, I didn't have anything else to offer, you know. Traditionally through the leadership, through the vigor of the 02:15:00governor you can offer jobs and-
FRYMIRE: and deals and things of that type-
SUCHANEK: That's what I was wondering, you all didn't have that.
FRYMIRE: I didn't have that. I didn't have any of those things.
FRYMIRE: So you're, you're pretty much down to a good governmentargument to go with me because this is good.
SUCHANEK: (Laughs), okay.
[End of Tape 2, Side 1]
[Begin of Tape 2, Side 2]
SUCHANEK: So, why didn't you seek reelection in 1969?
FRYMIRE: Um-hm. In January of 1968 President Johnson activated I thinkabout 15,000 reservists in connection with the Pueblo incident which you may remember was a, the North Koreans seized a spy ship and took it to, took it back home with them. And at that time I was a pilot, a 02:16:00major, a flight commander in the 165th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron with the Kentucky Air National Guard. And we were flying RF101s which is a big fighter-type aircraft, 68 feet long, 38 feet wingspan, supersonic, 1,200 mile range, had the world speed record at one time-
SUCHANEK: Is that right?
FRYMIRE: Yeah. So our unit was called and we were initially calledfor two years and then after our recall it was rather apparent to us that they really weren't sure what to do with our unit. They called 02:17:00an entire wing of reconnaissance aircraft. Now, this is seventy-two aircraft and you can shoot one hell of a bunch pictures with seventy- two aircraft (Suchanek laughs). I can shoot a hell of a bunch pictures with six aircraft and to call the entire wing it sort of boggles your mind about what are you gonna do with all these same kind of airplanes. We eventually ended up going, the unit moved to Richards- Gebaur Air Force Base at Kansas City and then we deployed from there. We went to the Canal Zone, we went to Alaska, we went to Japan and Korea and a year after our recall, I was in Japan and thought that I would be home by the following June, which would've given me about a year and a 02:18:00half on active duty and I did get home by the following June. But in my law practice my senior partner, Abe Moore had planned to retire at the end of 1968. Oh, and I was recalled, he agreed to stay on in the practice until I got back. I felt an obligation to him to come back to the practice. I felt, I suppose, most keenly an obligation to my six children to make certain that I could send them to college, and I knew that if I ran for office that I would've gotten home about June and I 02:19:00would've had six months in the law practice and then I would've been back in Frankfort for another three or four months. And somehow after having been gone for fifteen months that didn't quite seem right. So I made the decision that I was gonna have to go politics or go law and I made the decision that I would not seek reelection and, and it was my firm intention at that time to avoid all things political thereafter. That didn't quite work out but that was, that was the intention.
SUCHANEK: Had you not been recalled do you think you might've run forgovernor at one point?
FRYMIRE: I would've, I would've been very interested in running forgovernor and I probably could have after I came back from, from active 02:20:00duty if I, if I'd been willing to start at a lower level and work up. Again, part of what I did was economically driven because I did not come from a well-to-do family and what I've earned has been what I've earned, and I really didn't have any, with the jobs at those times if you run for a secondary office it really didn't pay enough money to support a family of my size and, and I think that was a factor that I felt that it'd be very difficult for me to be able to participate in politics, hold political office and support my family.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. But you did agree to be adjutant general-
FRYMIRE: I did and-
SUCHANEK: that was a fulltime job, is that right?02:21:00
FRYMIRE: Yes and no. It was a fulltime job but I maintained my lawpractice during those years and I could not have done, if I'd been limited to the adjutant general's office with its earning I could not have done it. I don't live extravagantly but I think the job paid 18,000 and there just wasn't any way that could be done so I, what I indicated to Governor Ford is that "I don't know whether I can do the job. I'm gonna try, if I can't do it you won't have to tell me I'll tell you, I'll let you know." And I think during those six years as the adjutant general it was a very interesting six-year period because we had the wind-down of Vietnam, we had the zero draft, we had the fallout 02:22:00of frontline equipment coming into the Guard, we were able to modernize and restructure as far as the unit, the types of units. We built the headquarters building. We built more armories than anybody has built since then in that six-year period. I think we reconstituted the image of the Guard. I think everybody-I'll just stack my six years against anybody's.
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Why did Ford offer you the job? How did that comeabout?
FRYMIRE: I guess, number one, I had expressed an interest in it. Two,at that time I was lieutenant colonel, I was commander of the flying squadron, I had my, as far as progression in rank is concerned, I had 02:23:00my professional military education was on an appropriate level. I saw the military department as being the place that perhaps was not being utilized in the, in the way that I though it could be utilized. And I suppose also that I'd bitched and griped and complained about the way they'd run things for so long that I thought this may be my opportunity to change some things.
SUCHANEK: Well, it's interesting that Ford would be the one that wouldoffer you the position when you had battled over him, with him, over the leadership in '68-
FRYMIRE: That's right.
SUCHANEK: yeah, when he was lieutenant governor.
FRYMIRE: Okay. Well now-
SUCHANEK: That's an interesting development.
FRYMIRE: Yeah. Let's take a look at that. In the Combs-Ford primary02:24:00everybody who was anybody in politics got on the Combs bandwagon. They-I mean all the courthouse people, he was, he was gonna be the winner and everybody loaded on his platform. And you remember at an earlier time I told you that I had some objection to Governor Combs because of the baggage that he brought with him.
SUCHANEK: The "Mountain Mafia."
FRYMIRE: And I viewed that baggage as, I don't know whether it was gonnabe fatal but I didn't think it would help him. And Ford came to me not because I was such a good position but I really think he came to me because he couldn't find people whose names were reasonably well known to co-chair his campaign and I became one of his co- chairmen for his 02:25:00governor's race.
FRYMIRE: "Dee" Huddleston was one and I think Andy Jolly. And we gotcaught up in the, in the campaign and the, and the desire to win and, and Ford and I became closer at that point in time. So flexibility is a great art for a politician (both laugh).
SUCHANEK: There has been talk recently of annual sessions for thelegislature, do you think annual sessions of the legislature is a good idea?
FRYMIRE: Well, at one time I think I probably sponsored a bill topresent to the people for an amendment to cause annual sessions, and at that time I thought that there was a need for it. Having observed 02:26:00the General Assembly over the last three or four, five, six years with their-and observing what they've done with the interim committee system, I'm not so sure that there is a need today for the annual sessions. I think probably the way they're doing it is adequate where you have an organization meeting one year and then the regular session the next year. There's a lot of going, a lot going on with their committees. I'm not certain that it all needs to be going on, it seems like to me they may have gone beyond what any of us back in 1968 imagined would be reasonably necessary to do the job. I think I would observe the work product that I see coming out of the past General 02:27:00Assemblies doesn't seem, to me to be any better quality than what I observed back nearly twenty years ago with, or twenty years ago, with far less staff and not much help.
SUCHANEK: More government doesn't necessarily mean better laws.
FRYMIRE: That's correct. Yeah.
SUCHANEK: Do you think the interim committee system has helped a greatdeal in the legislature becoming independent from the governor's office?
FRYMIRE: I think it's helping. Legislative independence is a mindact. If they believe they're independent, they're independent. If they don't believe they are then they aren't and no matter how many committees you have or how many sessions you have that doesn't change that. That's an attitude.
SUCHANEK: Do you think they believe they're independent now?
FRYMIRE: I hear them say that but I'd be willing to bet a dollar to a02:28:00donut that if a Julian Carroll or Wendell Ford came along that they'd be picking the leadership (laughs).
SUCHANEK: Now, in the old days people used to serve in the legislatureone or two, sometimes three terms and then retire. Nowadays legislators are serving multiple terms on a regular basis and there is a talk about the legislature as a career, do you think the legislature as a career is a good idea?
FRYMIRE: I think it's a terrible idea.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Why?
FRYMIRE: You put together a group of people whose first interest andperhaps only interest is being reelected and what's good for the people back home is secondary, that's no longer a primary issue. It's "what can I do to stay in office, what must I do to stay in office?" 02:29:00I don't think you grow any statesman with that type of a system. And you see people today who've, who are making careers out of the General Assembly, it's already here, they are making careers out of it. And you can, I can name you some names but I'm not going to and you can identify those names. Generally they're not people who are outspoken, they're not people who are issue oriented, they're not people who are trying to move mountains for the good of the commonwealth. They're people who are there for, to see how many committees and subcommittees that they can serve on during the course of the year because that adds to their income and to pay a little lip service to everybody and attempt to offend no one. I guess stated another way is, vote for all 02:30:00appropriations and vote against all revenue measures and you observe them doing that.
SUCHANEK: Now, I believe it's Oklahoma that has recently passedlegislation limiting the amount of time a legislator can serve to twelve years, do you think having such a time limitation is a good idea?
FRYMIRE: I see no problem with that in the, in the state GeneralAssembly, I wouldn't agree to that for the Congress. And that may seem inconsistent but I think you've got a different, different type of need. I'll tell you another way to do it, that you don't have to pass any limitation, all you have to do is adjust the retirement bill and if you will take all of the gold out of the retirement bill it will, the problem will handle itself because no one will be able to afford to go 02:31:00in homestead.
SUCHANEK: Now, during your tenure in the legislature was there anyonewhom you admired or respected as a speaker or as a debater or maybe for their political savvy?
FRYMIRE: Well, I mentioned earlier the name of Dick Moloney fromLexington. In my judgment as far as a person, who had political savvy, who could handle a difficult situation, he was head and shoulders above anyone else that I saw during the time that I was there. And he had the knack of walking on the floor, he would get there about fifteen minutes before the session would, would start and he just sat in his chair and watch. And in the House if there's gonna be a rumble you'll see the 02:32:00little clumps of people will be buzzing and gathering and talking. And a good majority leader always has a number of rats, people who will come and keep him informed, if you don't have that you're not a good majority leader. And he would have somebody who would inform him as to the Senator, or "Representative Smith is, didn't get this," that was the governor promised him and Dick Moloney if he saw that he was gonna have trouble with the bill he wouldn't call it. And then he'd go and fix the problem or he'd have somebody fix the problem and then the same bill the next day come out (snaps finger), it would go, it'd be grease, it'd be no problem. So he was, he was superb in that sense, and just a very able and a capable person. In the House, I don't know 02:33:00that his speeches were necessarily good, but Norbert Blume came in the 1964 session riding the civil rights white horse and Norbert kept that bill in being nearly every day of that session in some way. I spoke earlier about the leadership in the '64 session, nothing ever died in the '64 session, you never put anything to rest because you'd put it to rest and then the leadership would permit it to be resurrected, and in the General Assembly you can only fight so many battles and while you may not have any big wounds you'll bleed to death of all these little wounds after a while. So you need to get some of these things put 02:34:00behind you so that you can get on with other business. And that was one of the problems of the '64 session. I'm trying to think of other speakers. Harry King Lowman was a good speaker. I was only there two years with him. Gibson Downing in '68 was a very able Senator, very capable Senator, very bright. Didn't speak often but when he did he was, he was very effective. A lot of good people.
SUCHANEK: You'd mentioned in your battle with lieutenant Ford forselection of the leadership in '68 that you had your own little group, who would be in that group besides yourself and Gibson Downing?
FRYMIRE: Tom Harris, Ed Murphy, not by choice but Carroll Hubbard got02:35:00put over there because Ford didn't want him in his group (both laugh). I had other friends, the, Ron Mazzoli was a freshman Senator at that time, Pat McCuiston I think was a, either a freshman or had been there the year before, Carl Hadden was a freshman. There were a lot of people who were saying to Ford, there's room for everybody and I think Ford probably had a loyalty to his people to attempt to bring them along. But I think when the other senators said, you need to work something out, we don't want to be cast in a situation where we've got to go in and vote for one of these fellows or against the other fellow 02:36:00because we've got to serve with both of them. And I think they said to him to work it out and I think ultimately he did.
SUCHANEK: As majority floor leader what was your impression of GeorgiaPowers? Now, '68 was her first session.
FRYMIRE: Georgia was a freshman senator learning the business. I thinkshe acquitted herself very well, certainly had an interest in those minority rights issues and I think was respected by the members of the Senate.
SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, as a member of the legislature from the westernpart of the commonwealth did you find that you had much in common with the legislators from Eastern Kentucky or from Louisville, Lexington, or Covington?
FRYMIRE: I think it's easier to probably identify with Louisville,02:37:00Central Kentucky, and Western Kentucky. I think Northern Kentucky has always been a little kingdom, kingdom unto itself and Eastern Kentucky certainly got some different situations. I got along, some of my good friends were Northern Kentucky, good friends, Eastern Kentucky and I don't suppose that that, as I recall it was not that much of a problem. I would've known those fellows less than, than somebody from Western Kentucky and I may not have understood their problems as well as I would someone from Western Kentucky but I don't recall at that time that we had a lot of regional, regionalism that was in the Senate, I 02:38:00don't, it was a pretty collegial group even though we had our political differences, it was a fine group of people to be with.
SUCHANEK: Did you ever feel as though Western Kentucky was neglectedor wasn't getting a fair shake from the administration or from the legislative leaders?
FRYMIRE: Well, I thought in those days (coughs) that we probably got,had a fair shake. I think what has happened has occurred since that time, I don't have any complaints about what went on during the time I was in the General Assembly. I think we got our share of the roads and we got our community college, we got our allied health vocational building and we got four-lane roads going two ways through the county. I don't think they have done much since then but that's-
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Being from a more rural section of the state did the02:39:00interests of urban and rural areas sometimes conflict?
FRYMIRE: Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. You-I'm trying to recall, afterhaving said that I'm trying to recall, a specific instance and I don't know that I'm recalling an example that I could use but certainly you've got, you've got different attitudes and different, different needs.
SUCHANEK: Well, perhaps would there have been differences over, say,strip mining bills or environmental questions that turned into more 02:40:00urban versus rural?
FRYMIRE: In the several sessions when we had strip mining bills thereyou would, you would find a group in Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky with the two respective coalfields that would have common interest and then people in the Bluegrass and Louisville their attitude was, "well, put them out of business, who cares?" So, yes, you have, you have those type attitudes. You generally would have, I think, attitudes of Jefferson Countians who probably do not understand the geog--, or do not know, the geography of Kentucky and where cities are located. I found that at that time, they had no appreciation really of what went on outside of Jefferson County. That's not to say 02:41:00everybody in Jefferson County is that way but I mean if you, if you've got someone who doesn't know where Mayfield is or they think maybe Madisonville is east of Louisville-
SUCHANEK: In Madison County (laughs).
FRYMIRE: Yeah, you know, this, this causes you to perk up your ears.I got along very well with the Jefferson County contingent and that goes back to the '62 General Assembly at the Kentucky Dam Village when they would put us in the little cottages. And I ended up in a cottage with five Republicans and the cottage next door had, I think, five or six more. So, on day one, and these guys were all freshmen members, I got to know them and we had a little bind there because, a little tie 02:42:00from that first meeting and that first night when we got to know each other in a pleasant way and during the time that I was in the House I found that, that if I needed votes the Republicans would help me and particularly the urban Republicans would help me. So I always had a good working relationship with them.
SUCHANEK: Do you recall anything, and I'm sure there are many of theseinstances, but do you recall any, any humorous instances that happened when you were in the legislature? I'm sure there must have been many of those.
FRYMIRE: Well, most of them you can't talk about (both laugh). That's,there are always that type of incidents but-
SUCHANEK: _______(??) and what not?
FRYMIRE: oh, every now and then you lose somebody at night or something(laughs) and it's, they were, they were always found the next day 02:43:00(Suchanek laughs). I remember in the Senate that John Raymond Turner from Jackson, announced to the, apologized to the Senate, I think, because he'd missed on a certain day and explained he had to miss because he got married. And he took us through the events of his marriage day (Suchanek laughs), where he started out with a girl and they went to Tennessee and got married at the Justice of the Peace (laughs). And you have to know John Raymond, I mean anybody wouldn't have told that but John Raymond gave us the full story and you had to love him because he was John Raymond and he would do something like that. On another occasion, this isn't humorous but this is, John 02:44:00Raymond, he spoke very seldom and he told the President of the Senate that he wanted to, wanted to speak. And he was recognized and he said, "I come here to apologize to you," he said, "I've lied to you and," he said, "on such and such day I told you I was gonna vote for something and," he says, "I can't do it." He said, "I lied to you." He said, "Circumstances have come up and," he said, "I've got to vote the other way and I apologize to you." That was the, that was the mountain man in him, but he asked me one time if I would consider coming to Breathitt County to practice law and I said, "Well, I'm pretty well satisfied 02:45:00where I was." And he said, "Well," he said, "if you come to Breathitt County," he said, "six months after you get there," he said, "you can be the circuit judge." And I said, "Well-
SUCHANEK: The Turner family could do that (laughs).
FRYMIRE: (Laughs), I said, "Well, I, John," I said, "I thank you, that'sthe best offer I've had today, but I don't want to be circuit judge in Breathitt County or Hopkins County."
SUCHANEK: Yeah, the Turner family could've done that for you.
FRYMIRE: At that time they indeed could have, they were, they were allpowerful.
SUCHANEK: Where did you stay in Frankfort?
FRYMIRE: The first year that I was there I had a room at the home ofMiss Lassiter, who was a widow of a court of appeals judge. Had one room, very quite. The next, in the '64 session and the '66 session I 02:46:00shared a residence with Jim Whitlock, Julian Carroll, and Howard Hunt. My contacts were waning. They were in the House and mine was in the Senate and in '68 I didn't opt back in the group or maybe-
SUCHANEK: That was "Sonny" Hunt?
SUCHANEK: Oh, okay.
FRYMIRE: and they did not opt for me to be back in, I don't rememberwhich. In '68 I lived part of the time at a motel and then Jo Disher(??) offered to rent me his mobile home which is about three miles out in the country. Jo had just gotten married and he had moved to town and he had a farm he had this mobile home on. So I moved to the mobile home and was the best place really I ever had when I was 02:47:00in Frankfort. I had more space, people couldn't find me (both laugh), it was, it was a good place to live. And in that '68 session with the problems that I told you with no privacy and being in demand, because of what Louie Nunn had done to us, he sicked all lobbyists on us, you needed a place of quiet.
SUCHANEK: Go and hide for a while.
FRYMIRE: And I was very comfortable in that nobody knew where Iwas. Nobody in this whole God's world knew where I lived except Jo Disher(??) and he wasn't telling anybody.
SUCHANEK: Before I forget I want to, I want to get this on tape and Iwas telling you that Lon Carter Barton says that Madisonville is not actually Western Kentucky-
SUCHANEK: and I want you to describe the geographical area in which youlive here-
SUCHANEK: between Mayfield and Madisonville. Madisonville is WesternKentucky and Mayfield is-
FRYMIRE: Yeah. Well, in the geography of Western Kentucky we think of02:48:00Madisonville as being in Western Kentucky and we think of the people who live on the other side of the rivers in the Jackson Purchase as being in, living in the "West-by-God Kentucky." Yeah.
SUCHANEK: Yeah. Is there any piece of, any particular piece oflegislation you were associated with in the legislature that I have neglected to ask you about or anything at all that you like to mention before we close the interview today? I'm sure there's lots of legislation that I looked at in your career that perhaps I, I skimmed over and neglected to mention.
FRYMIRE: With the passage of time it's difficult to remember all ofthe legislation that you've done and have introduced and I never kept any type of a record. I know there's legislative documents around that would tell me that, but I suppose the things that I would be 02:49:00most pleased about would be the interim committee system, certainly the sponsorship of the bill for the Madisonville Community College. I think I had some twenty-two Senate sponsors on that bill, probably could've gotten thirty-eight if I'd worked at it a little bit longer. From a personal standpoint, being here in the community, I'm quite proud of that. Madisonville was the first community college that had jumped through the hoops, or the guides, established by the Council on Higher Education. Before Madisonville every community college had been created, had been done so because the governor said, "I want a community college at this city." Then somebody-
SUCHANEK: (unintelligible) hometown (laughs)?
FRYMIRE: somebody said, you know, we got to have some standards. So02:50:00the Council on Higher Education put together the criterion that would take to enable you to have a community college. We did that. We went, and I'm not sure anybody has done it since then, but we went through the legitimatizing process and then we took the matter to the General Assembly and it was, it was approved.
SUCHANEK: Well, did you have any, did you have any, influence in thewriting of the interim committee bill? Did you help to write that bill or was that done by Jim Fleming and the LRC?
FRYMIRE: I would think that probably Fleming was the architect of, ofthe legislative resolution, or revolution, but I-what I would say is that what they were doing was consistent with what a number of us had been saying for a number of years. I know that I did some work on, on 02:51:00a bill having to do with the approval of administrative regulations, they're still fighting that battle today and that one is still before the legislature and we were very interested in it then and I sponsored some legislation, '66 or '68 that was related to that.
SUCHANEK: Well, finally how would you like to be remembered as alegislator?
FRYMIRE: Well, I think I'd like to be remembered as a person who votedhis conscience, who hopefully was a good legislator, who sponsored and worked for bills that were for the benefit of the common good and not for selfish ________(??).
SUCHANEK: Um-hm. If not for circumstances perhaps a possible governor?02:52:00
FRYMIRE: Well, I think you make your own opportunities and the, and thefact that I'd dropped out at the end of the '68 legislative session I suppose wouldn't have kept me from coming back if I, if I'd had that great desire or that, to achieve that. People do what people want to do and that, that altered my-stopped a career, altered my pattern in which I might've gone. I'm not-it's not to say that that's for the worst, I'm very pleased with the way life is, has turned. Politics is very hard on families. It's a rare family that's not bruised by it in some way if you, and I'm not so sure that what I've done has not been 02:53:00for the best in the final analysis.
SUCHANEK: Well, I thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
FRYMIRE: Yes, sir.
SUCHANEK: It's been a pleasure.
FRYMIRE: Yeah. Well, you brought back a lot of memories.
[End of interview]