Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Edward "Ned" T. Breathitt, Jr., July 27, 1994

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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KLOTTER: --continuing the--okay--the process. As you know, we ended up the last time basically just as we were--finish up the law school. I think we'll touch on some of those questions again at the end of that, and then carry on into the legislative years.


KLOTTER: --when you first move on. Did the G.I. Bill help you as you?--

BREATHITT: Oh, I--there were two things helping me. I worked when I was going through school. And I had the G.I. Bill, and--and that was very helpful to me because that, of course, paid my tuition and--and some other benefits, but then I worked. I was a houseboy over at the Kappa Alpha Theta House, which gave me a couple of meals, lunch and dinner. And then I got a job later while I was in law school, got an apartment 00:01:00furnished on a--a house on Maxwell Street, corner of Maxwell and Rose which was an apartment house, still there. And I had the basement apartment and had a friend of mine from Louisville to--who was there one semester named Ben Crager(??). And--and so I lived there, and--and I worked at the Theta House, and--and I fired the furnace. They had an old stoker coal furnace. I remember firing that furnace, but I'd done that for my grandmother and at--my house in Hopkinsville. I knew how to fire a stoker-fed coal furnace and get those clinkers out and--and cut the grass. That was my job: cut the grass and to keep the furnace working. Those were the two jobs I had while I was in college. 00:02:00Neither of which took a lot of time.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did your family provide you financial support?

BREATHITT: Yes, my--yes, they did. They did provide me financial support. My father worked for the George W. Helm Company, was in the tobacco business and--well, he totally supported me, the two quarters before the war, two and half quarters before the war. But after the war, I figured that I ought to try to support myself, as much of it as I could.

BIRDWHISTELL: So it was totally--


BIRDWHISTELL: --a voluntary thing on your part, to try and support yourself. I mean, your family was in a position to support you if you--

BREATHITT: Sure, but my father was not wealthy. He--you know, he had a good job with the--but it--but he had lost--his company went under during the war. It wasn't his, but--I mean, during the Depression.


BREATHITT: So he had to start over again, but it was only after I'd finished law school and was practicing law that he advanced up to the point he was pretty comfortable. He headed the leaf department for 00:03:00that company and--and moved to Lynchburg for a few years.

BIRDWHISTELL: When you--when you were getting close to finishing law school, had you known all along that you were going to return to Hopkinsville?

BREATHITT: Oh yes. I had this vision--it really went back to that time when I was eight years old, and my grandfather had me on his knee, said, "Son, be a lawyer," and then died that night. And then you know, that imprinted that in my mind, and they had that law firm. And then my uncle died a few months later who had been lieutenant governor, who had practiced law with my grandfather in the firm Breathitt & Breathitt. And I had in mind going back and--and practicing law in Hopkinsville. I really didn't have in mind getting into politics at that time, but I had in mind going back and practicing law, but I had been active on campus politics and campus affairs.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's all part of that--

BREATHITT: Yeah, that's right. So it was probably easy to get into that.


BIRDWHISTELL: So you--you finished law school, then you--

BREATHITT: Well, I married my last--


BREATHITT: --and then on December the twentieth, 1948 at--Frances Holleman from--from Mayfield.

BIRDWHISTELL: You talked--we talked about--

BREATHITT: That's right.

BIRDWHISTELL: ------------(??)

BREATHITT: --and--and--and then she had finished, but she came back after we were married. We lived in that basement apartment, and she got a job working for Jimmy Morris over at the bookstore and worked for him as his secretary, while I went to law school and--that last year. And then, in December of `49, I finished. Took my exams and then I took my Bar in--I think it was February of `50 that I took the Bar. It was 00:05:00early in 1950 and passed it. But I had worked the summer before, two summers before--or one summer before in a law office in Hopkinsville with Milburn Keith, and that's M-i-l-b-u-r-n Keith, K-e-i-t-h. And his father was--was an officer of the Planter's Bank, and his brother had a large insurance agency there, and so I had that working experience just as a--we call 'em summer associates now--but I just worked in his office that summer. And so he made me an offer after that summer, and so I came back and worked in his office until I heard from the Bar exam, just as a clerk. And then when I heard from the Bar exam and had passed, I could practice law. And 'course we did everything in a small 00:06:00town:--you'd do title work; you'd handle closings; you'd do criminal cases, everything that a small-town lawyer does, and civil cases.

KLOTTER: What was the firm?

BREATHITT: It was Keith & Breathitt. He gave me the name and not much money when we first started out. Keith & Breathitt.

BIRDWHISTELL: Soon as you got your law degree?


BIRDWHISTELL: Soon as you passed the Bar, he put your name on the door?

BREATHITT: Yeah, he did.




BREATHITT: Well, see, there had been an old law firm, Breathitt & Breathitt, and a lot of the lawyers--I mean people around there knew 'em and there's still some lawyers practicing who practiced in those days. And so I guess he thought that there was some advantage in doing it, but that was also a draw to get me and not have to pay me much money. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)

BREATHITT: That's right, but--and so I practiced and--not as really a 00:07:00full partner on the draw. We had an arrangement then, and I got a base amount against which--against whatever fees I could get. And 'course, Milburn gave me a got of business 'cause he--he had a very active practice. And he gave me a lot of work to do, so I put in a lot of hours, billable hours. And--and then I--in trying to bill my practice, I got an opportunity to teach business law, and I was renting a house. I rented an apartment in Hopkinsville called the Neblett Apartments, N-e-b-l-e-t-t. And I had a--just a one-bedroom apartment. And we had a baby. My wife was pregnant and we had a baby in August of `50, August the second, `50, my first child, Mary Fran Breathitt. So my 00:08:00nose was to the grindstone, and early attic furniture from all the relatives' attics and--and nothing new. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: What'd you think about being a father?

BREATHITT: Well, I thought it was fine. And -and--there's a doctor here that I see quite frequently, Dr. Hobbs. We --my wife couldn't get pregnant and--and so she went to see him and he said, "I'm sorry, I don't think you'll ever be able to conceive a child." Next month, she went back, and he says, "I was wrong." (Laughter) And--and so I had four children, and--but I got active in the Jaycees and--and made as many speeches as I could around town to get known, like young lawyers 00:09:00do. And taught a Sunday School class--the First Methodist Church, and made a speech to the Farm Bureau. Did I scu- --discuss that?

KLOTTER: Huh-uh.

BIRDWHISTELL: Don't think so.

BREATHITT: Made a speech to the Farm Bureau. They had a monthly luncheon in the Farm Bureau Building. We--of course, big agricultural state, the Farm Bureau was important there. And up above the first floor where their offices were, was a big room which they served the luncheon and had different things there. Well, I had been all fired up on our work on the state constitution, and talking to Dr. Tom Clark, and talking to Professor Jack Reeves, and other people that had influenced my thinking. And reading Dr. Frank McVey's book on the 00:10:00University of Kentucky in which he said, "You can't have a great state without a great university," and--and then carried it further: "You can't have a great university unless you got enough money to fund it." And I carried that on to just education generally, and said, we're not gonna do it without a sales tax. Well, I made a big speech on that. And this school superintendent made--met me at the door. Name was Barton Fizer(??), and he was the county school superintendent. In those days, we had a county and city system. He says, "I wanna be for you for state representative." I said, "Well the majority leader of the house is the state representative, Jimmy Hanratty, and he's my friend." He says, "Yeah, but he was with Earle Clements fighting the teachers when we marched on Frankfort," and says, "We wanna elect our own people." And I said "Okay," I said, "Can you get your folks for me?" 00:11:00And he said, "Yes." So I--my grandfather was still living. He'd been sheriff of Trigg County. He was living with us, and he helped me draw up my announcement in the paper, and I got a picture taken that wasn't- -looked like--that didn't look like a high school yearbook picture, that looked--tried to look as--as--as mature as I could. And I ran this article. Well, that really threw a monkey wrench into politics.


BREATHITT: And--challenging the majority leader of the house. Well, 'course that put Lawrence Wetherby, who was then--had--had become governor when Earle Clements went to the Senate. And--(Laugh)-- Lawrence, of course, was for Jimmy 'cause they--Jimmy had staunchly stood up with them against the schoolteachers. And well I got out 00:12:00and got to campaigning like crazy, frankly, not expecting to win, but figuring that I would get well-known in the county in a hot race (Laugh--Birdwhistell) and that that would help me. And--but as I got into it, like most candidates, you begin to hear people saying they're for you, and you start thinking you might be able to win. Well, it got to be such a difficult thing for a lot of people. One of the political leaders there, that was allied with Wetherby and Clements, was a man named Clarence Boyd and another named Mr. Ed Moseley and they were the Democratic leaders that had fought for Clements against the forces. And I had--I'd been for Waterfield in the law school, [Siren heard from window] and we lost 'cause everybody down in the First District nearly was. So I had some of those folks for me, 00:13:00and--well, they didn't like the fight and the dividing of lines 'cause my family'd been so active politically, and a lot of people owed the Breathitts something and--politically. And Harry Walters, who was the Commissioner of Agriculture, died; he was from Shelbyville. And we had a state senator named Ben Adams. Well, Ben was a big farmer and he got the governor to appoint him to Harry Walter's spot. Opened up a senate seat, (Laugh--Birdwhistell) then they--the committees got together and nominated Jimmy Hanratty for the senate, left me free and united the party. Well, of course, I had to line up with 'em then. And so I--then Wetherby further sealed the deal by asking me to be his campaign chairman. And--so he asked me to be the campaign chairman, which I accepted, and it was a nothing race. I mean we--we did not 00:14:00have--Wetherby didn't have any serious opposition and--

BIRDWHISTELL: Could--could I--could I ask you when--when state senator- -or when the Commissioner of Agriculture died? When did all this take place within this election year?

BREATHITT: Nineteen-fifty one.

BIRDWHISTELL: No, but I mean, what time of year was all this--were-- where you were running against--

BREATHITT: Well, I announced, but I announced looking towards an August primary in those days.


BREATHITT: So I announced in the spring. So Harry Walters died in the spring--later spring. I--I announced very early spring. Harry Walters died, and Ben Adams then went for the--went--

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, so really the timing couldn't have been--

BREATHITT: Oh, it was perfect for me.

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)

BREATHITT: Oh yeah. And I wound up getting elected with no opposition, primary general, having been running for two months against the 00:15:00majority leader of the house, and the whole administration against me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well did Jimmy Hanratty hold that against you? That you announced against--run against him? Or did you-all overcome that?

BREATHITT: We were friendly, but we were always on opposite sides politically. He managed Happy's campaign against Bert Combs in 1955.

BIRDWHISTELL: Okay. Yeah, that's right. You-all--

BREATHITT: And I was on the opposite side. We were friendly, and I'd ride back and forth with him sometimes to the legislature, but it--it strained our relationship some. Now after practicing law, we got along fine--practicing lawyer, he was a good lawyer. He'd gone to Centre College and--where'd he go to law school? I've forgotten, but he was a good lawyer, was an FBI agent after graduated from law school and--

BIRDWHISTELL: He probably checked you out. (Laugh)


BREATHITT: Yeah, well that was well before. He'd come back to practice law, and--but it never--you know, when I--I just took on the whole establishment and the whole administration and--and that got a lot of attention, and particularly when I wound up in the legislature.

BIRDWHISTELL: So why do you think you--you did that? It--was it a political--I mean was it--does it go back to these political influences you had ------------(??) government change? Sort of a--a--

BREATHITT: I guess it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's quite a move for a young guy to make, right?

BREATHITT: Well, I wouldn't have done it if--if Barton Fizer(??) hadn't have hit me leaving that--leaving that luncheon, when I spoke. And I made a rip-snorting speech about--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--you know, we just had to have good schools, and we weren't gonna get anywhere in Kentucky if we didn't pass the sales tax again.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now is that how you--

BREATHITT: And fund it.

BIRDWHISTELL: --is that how you came to be the attorney for the Christian County Schools?



BREATHITT: Yes. Well, also the city school. I was attorney for both 00:17:00until we got in a squabble one time. We got in a squabble and then- -then I had to pick--pick a side and I went with the county school system--the--and stayed with them up until I ran for office, made the great salary of fifty dollars a month.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was gonna say--

BREATHITT: It was just a lot of work.

BIRDWHISTELL: ------------(??)----------

BREATHITT: And we're going through consolidation, and voted bond issues, and all that sort of stuff, and integration. So we were going through all that in those years. Well, anyway, I--(Laugh)--I ran and went up to pre-legislative conference and Gerald Griffin was there. He was a writer for the "Courier-Journal," covered the legislature, whose daughter was Pat Griffin, married to Harry Miller, the lawyer here in town. And he knew my Uncle Jimmy. They had been good friends, had covered him in his younger days. This was near the end of his--his 00:18:00journalistic career, and he got interested in me, got interested in this race down there and how it worked out and--and so he wrote a profile with my picture: "Breathitt's his Name, and Politics his Game," and went back all through the Breathitts in--in political history and-- well, that gave me lots of attention, and people paid a lot of attention to that. And then another person that really helped me locally in Hopkinsville was Miss Fan Underwood, they called her. She wrote a column called "The Office Cat" in the "Daily New Era," wrote it daily. And 'course, Tom Underwood was the--was the editor of the "Lexington Herald," and I guess he was in congress at that time. I think he'd gone to congress at that time. And she got me known in the county 00:19:00through a laudatory column. "He's returned back to Hopkinsville and --and the Breathitt's--we gonna--" really just sort of made it known I was back home as somebody in the family. Wasn't anybody else in the family back home. And she--her article and the events that I just mentioned which got me in the race and won the race, and then managing the campaign, which wasn't much of a race--and we had ran against Dr. Coldiron and I've forgotten who else ------------(??) I guess. But at any rate, they had worked it out with Happy. They had a big meeting over at Happy's cabin, and he decided not to run and they worked out an agreement. Clements and Wetherby were there and--no contest that 00:20:00year, and Happy had just gotten back from being baseball commissioner. 'Course I wasn't in on any of that. I was too green and not a factor. But all the people told me all about it. And well--then Wetherby--I went to pre-legislative conference which was held down at Kentucky Dam Village. No, it was held up at Cumberland Falls State Park, pre- legislative conference. And they elected the leadership in those days and there wasn't but--of the house. And--and--the governor--in those days, everybody sat around and waited for the governor to tell 'em who he was for. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) And that's the way it worked in those days. And so I went through that and met a lot of people that I 00:21:00later worked with in the legislature.

BIRDWHISTELL: What were your initial impressions of these--these guys, these legislators?

BREATHITT: Well, they were interesting to me. I mean, Ed Prichard's father--no, he had left, but he was there because he was--attended it.

KLOTTER: He was some--had some position, didn't he still?

BREATHITT: Yeah. I've forgotten what it was. And--and 'course there were a bunch of lobbyists hanging around too. And--and the governor and all of his people were there. And Louis Cox who was in the state senate was there, who was a big ally of Wetherby's. And I guess I just got caught up in--in that whole part of my family's life in politics and law, and people started talking to me about getting back into 00:22:00politics. Plus, I had been on the debating team in high school, and active in--president of the class, and active on the university campus, and president of ODK, and--and headed that constitutional campaign. It was just easy.

BIRDWHISTELL: I guess my question then, Governor Breathitt, is were--did you find these guys impressive? Or were you thinking, golly, I mean they--(Laugh)--I'm wondering how we're--how we're getting by with these guys?

BREATHITT: Well, we had a lot of interesting people--


BREATHITT: --in that legislative session. Harry Caudill was there. Foster Ockerman was there. John Breckinridge was there. And I gravitated towards those kinds of people, and we sort of formed a loose alliance. And then there were a bunch of--of--people there that 00:23:00had been characterized by the press and others as political hacks. (Laugh) And--but there were a lot of very conscien- --Bart Peak was there. Bart Peak was a wonderful citizen in this community, and--I became an ally of Bart Peak's on the merit system. He had--he headed the legislation, and he was pushing it, and asked me to co-sponsor it with him, and I did. And the League of Women Voters had given it to him, Gladys Kammerer at the University of Kentucky, and all that bunch of--of political reformists and idealists. And 'course we didn't get anywhere. We'd introduce it and that's the end of it. We'd never get it out of committee. They'd just humor us--kid us about it. (Laugh- -Birdwhistell) And--but we'd get serious, and we'd make talks, and make 00:24:00speeches, and appear on tape. A lot of taped radio programs in those days. No video.


BREATHITT: Well, they had video, but it wasn't--I don't think I'd even seen a vid-, television station in those days. But we--formed this group, we were pretty close. Caudill was one and--and Shelby McCallum, who later became Speaker and owned a radio station. And I later became a partner of his in the radio station. Shelby McCallum was a very bright guy and highly motivated fellow, and I'd ride and back and forth with him to the legislature, and a lawyer named Tip Reed from down at Mayfield, and--who was a real good man. And we had a lot of people 00:25:00that had just come back from World War II ran, and knocked off a lot of these old-time legislators.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's the impression I'm getting--


BIRDWHISTELL: --that this is a post-World War II--



BREATHITT: And it was and it--it--there were a lot of the old hands still there, but there were a lot of new ones. And you know, John Breckinridge had something going every day that he was trying to accomplish to save the world. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) And--and--and he fought, you know, all his life, you know, that way. I mean, there was n- --Breckinridge, was no way that you could corrupt John Breckinridge or Foster Ockerman. Foster was the studious one. He studied every piece of legislation more thoroughly than anybody in the House. And I got to relying on Foster a lot on his judgment. Then there was a very fine Republican named John Haven who died--from Louisville. And John 00:26:00was active in being for Ike against the Taft forces. I remember that, for the `52 convention. And--and he was a person that I became real good friends--and on the kinds of legislation that was not partisan, he was a part of the group that I allied with. And I liked him very much, and--

KLOTTER: Was--was there any senior person there that kind of took you under your--under his wing?

BREATHITT: --Well, John Y. Brown came, but I think--I'm thinking it was the next session.

KLOTTER: Fifty-four?

BREATHITT: Fifty-four.


BREATHITT: Fifty-four session. And I spent a lot of time with him just 'cause he's such a fascinating person. And he was my sales tax 00:27:00advocate, and I couldn't get anywhere in `52 on it. And 'course that was Wetherby's term. And--and then the `54 session, he was pushing but I wasn't fighting Wetherby. And--although Wetherby, I'm sure, felt I was a little too independent for him, but I did break with him on two or three things. And the sales tax was one that I--I kept pushing the concept and Wetherby--I tried to push it with him and he says--he says, Happy's gonna run and he'll beat us with it again, and we can't do it." And so I couldn't get anywhere with getting his support. And most people in the legislature--there's a fellah named Cecil Sanders, lawyer from down at Lancaster, who was--had been in law school with me and Jim Lassiter from Murray, who's in the Senate, had been in law school with 00:28:00me. Cecil Sanders had been the same PT boat squadron with Kennedy, and so had Foster Ockerman. They'd been all over there together as skippers of PT boats. And--


BREATHITT: Yeah, uh-huh. And--in fact, Foster used to play poker with him. You ought to get some--something on his relationship with Kennedy, and Cecil Sanders both, 'cause they--but Foster played poker with Kennedy, knew him real well. In fact, there's a picture up here on the wall, when I went up to see Kennedy after my nomination, Kennedy wanted Foster to come.

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)

BREATHITT: Yeah, and I brought Foster and his wife. And Foster had been my campaign chairman, so it made sense also. Fact, he's the only person, other than the delegation, in the picture except for myself and my wife(??). And--but--it was an interesting session. We passed 00:29:00voting machine bills and comparative signature laws, and Wetherby had a--had a sor- --a reform package that he pushed, but it was--that `52 session was not a historic session in the--in the ways that you would look at it, but it was a solid session. And Wetherby pushed a lot of things and 'course, he was strong for mental health and saw to it that we set up a separate mental health department, and--and I think it was that session that he did it, and we--and he adequately, fully funded it. And got Dr. Frank Gaines as the Commissioner of Mental Health, and really moved it forward, and appointed me to the governor's Commission on Mental Health because I lived in the county where we had 00:30:00a hospital. Plus I had demonstrated some interest in it as a subject. And so he appointed me to that commission, which gave me contact with a lot of people in Louisville, like Dr. Arthur Casey whose father had been my minister. Dr. Casey was an eminent psychiatrist. Dr. John Bell who had been from Hopkinsville, who was a psychiatrist in Louisville. John had been my neighbor, and was our camp doctor at the Boy Scout Camp. And--and people like Barry Bingham and Mary Bingham who were very interested in mental health--Cornelius Sippel from Louisville, Dr. Stafford Ackerley(??), a lot of the people like that that were very much in the Bingham circles in Louisville. And--and so I got to know them pretty well, which later helped me. Now they were 00:31:00all for Wilson Wyatt for the Senate and they were--preferred Henry Ward, most of 'em, when there was jockeying between me and Ward to run in--in `63. And those people would have been for Ward in the primary, but they wound up all for me, and I think that helped because we had a good relationship, yeah. They, I think, just looked on Ward as a--as a known quantity, and tried and true, and senior, and I was a very young person that they didn't. Plus, the--Wyatt was in that group, you know, and Wyatt figured my early announcement didn't help his race any. He preferred I'd have waited 'til after, and there was some feelings there with Wilson Wyatt. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) And then they had the big opening of his race at the old Miles Park Track, and they had Happy 00:32:00sitting up there with him on the platform, as a candidate, with--with Combs, and wouldn't let me sit up there. And wouldn't let--Happy wasn't gonna sit up there if I ran, if I was up there. And they were so dead to get Happy because they knew he would bolt, had the capacity to bolt and they needed him to be for them, and so they had him on the platform, sitting right with Wilson and there was me standing out there forlornly in the crowd and--with--with Rumsey Taylor, who was also running at that time.

BIRDWHISTELL: What went through your mind at that time?

BREATHITT: I said I'll --I'll show those guys. (Laughter)

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)

BREATHITT: But--but--

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)

BREATHITT: --but at any rate--now Combs didn't like it much, but of 00:33:00course Combs was going along with Wyatt 'cause he was their candidate. Combs was backing Wyatt to the hilt--


BREATHITT: --and was obligated to Wyatt because Wyatt had--


BREATHITT: --deferred to him, and had been a great help to Combs during the administration. And--and I think that Wyatt, maybe in the back of his mind, wanted the option also to run for governor, if he didn't make the senate seat, and that foreclosed that. 'cause I'd been out running since May, just hard. And Combs had publicly endorsed me and that put the administration behind me. And so although my relationship with Wyatt now is excellent, and I'm s- --a great admirer of his, there was some strain at that time because of trading on each other's ambitions. But I remember that--that big picnic or fish-fry and rally out there 00:34:00to--Wyatt opened his fall campaign, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think that made your--your campaign a better campaign because of the frame of mind it put you in? Determination?

BREATHITT: It didn't hurt it. It helped, but--but I was determined because this is the one chance I knew I had in life, the only chance I'd ever have to make it. And I just had a feeling that Happy would be vulnerable, plus I had the school people for me 'cause he was saying he was going repeal the sales tax that Combs passed. That just threw them in my corner.


BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)

BREATHITT: And I went all out for it, retaining it, and so they--you know, they were for me. But going back to the legislature, see, I had--the `54 session--the cloud over the `54 session was Happy running. 00:35:00And--and there were people beginning to line up, and you started hearing in the agencies--Vego Barnes told me--he left Wetherby and went for Happy, and he was the most powerful single cabinet member, head of economic security they called it in those days. And Vego had been the power politically, been in a number of administrations. And he told me, says, "Administration runs out of steam," and says, "It's gonna be very difficult for--to have two administration candidates in a row--" and he just kept telling me that. 'Course he was--he'd figured that out, which he'd always been friendly with Happy, and he--when he bolted--well, not bolted but left the administration and came up with Happy, that was a tremendous advantage to Happy, and now of course this 00:36:00was in--for the `55 race. And Vego talked that way, but at that time the two big issues--time out. (Pause in Tape) Well, anyway (Laugh-- Birdwhistell)--anyway, this yours?

BIRDWHISTELL: Yes, sir. That's mine. Thanks.

BREATHITT: Okay. During the 1952 session of the legislature, there st- --developed a real contest for president of the Young Democrats between the majority leader, Harry King Loman from Ashland and John Keck, who was highway commissioner, from--and he was from Sandy Hook. And 'course Wetherby couldn't have them in a big fight. He either had to pick a side and make one of 'em mad. So he used the technique of announcing he was for somebody else who was casting around to find 00:37:00somebody. Well, I had managed his campaign, but Gerald Griffin had just the Sunday before written that Sunday profile with a picture of me, and that stimulated some of these young Democrats that didn't want to fight. Say, well let's go for Breathitt, somebody new, totally new. So Wetherby just called me into his office and said, I wanna support you for president of the Young Democrats. I had no dreaming idea about it--doing it. I was active in Jaycees, but that sounded like a pretty good deal so I said, "I'm your candidate,"--(Laugh)--and he just announced it. Well, that made no race. In fact, Judge Moynahan, a federal judge, was down there and his father was the rural road commissioner. I remember he nominated me at the convention, which was held at DuPont Lodge at Demo- --Young Democratic Convention. That gave me ties all over the state and with all the Young Democratic Clubs. In 00:38:00those days, the Young Democrats were a pretty good organization. Bill Natcher had been president of the Young Democrats. That was his first statewide experience. Well, he managed the campaign ------------(??) campaign for governor, which 'course gave him a lot--but that then led to me being named as the speaker's chairman in the presidential campaign of 1952. But before that, as president of the Young Democrats, I got to go to the convention as an alternate, not as a--not as a delegate, but as an alternate--

BIRDWHISTELL: We wondered where you were at(??)--

BREATHITT: --and it was in Chicago. And at that time, we were tied to Barkley who was running, a great big button with a lightning, 00:39:00red lightning thing across it, and "Barkley." And I attended all the caucuses, 'course we had the unit role and cast one vote, and the governor cast it. Well, Clements felt that Barkley had not chance of getting the nomination, or of winning. So Clements was working with Jake Arvey and Hodeline(??), all that crowd, and the mayor of Chicago for Stevenson, and all of their supporters. Stevenson, of course was governor, and he had known him as governor. And Stevenson's family had come from Kentucky, from my home county.


BREATHITT: And so--I got to go up and meet Ed--Jake Arvey's big law 00:40:00office in Chicago with Tommy Carroll from Louisville who had--who was very active in Young Democrats and later in the Democratic Party nationally--because he had a classmate at Harvard Law School--at Harvard--not law school, in that law firm. So we went up there and Jake was pouring on the salve about being for Stevenson and 'course, Barkley a great man, but we've go to win this race. We're gonna be-- gonna have a tough time. And--and I told him about the Stevenson family from my county and how Miss Ann Stevenson had taught my children--his cousin. And her brother was named Adlai Stevenson too, all named for the old vice president from there, who was really from there. And well, they assigned somebody to me in the delegation, some minor part of the team that was assigned, they had him assigned to every 00:41:00delegation to monitor 'em. And 'course, I wasn't gonna be disloyal to Barkley from my home district, but then when Barkley pulled out, when the president wouldn't back him, Truman wouldn't back him--then the Stevenson thing came. And I--'course Barkley made that magnificent speech at the convention that--and 'course it was well organized, but they had a tremendous demonstration and--and I got home--Tom Underwood was in the Senate and had Clyde Watson as his A.A. from Owensboro. Clyde was named chairman of the campaign.


[End Tape #1, Side #1]

[Begin Tape #1, Side #2]

BREATHITT: And they named me as speaker's chairman of the campaign and moved me into the headquarters. And they had--Wetherby also sent over Phil McChesney who'd worked for him, and Hempfield who worked for Henry Ward and really was--as working to hand the press. He was press secretary and I was speaker's chairman. And then he sent some of the people from his headquarters over: Betty Ashcraft was working in Democratic party headquarters and other places--it was pretty well staffed when I got there. And I had no more idea about 00:43:00running a statewide presidential campaign, although I'd been active in that on the campus, in that campaign six years before for the constitution. That was a totally different deal, but I did have a lot of contacts around the state from the legislature and from the Young Democratic Organization and Convention that I'd been to. So we set about organizing. Well, Clyde Watson was so burdened by being chief administrative assistant in Washington to a United States Senator. He spent an awful lot of his time in Washington, which left the day-to-day responsibility to me, really unprepared to do it, but I--the calls would come into headquarters and they'd take the highest one--when they couldn't get Clyde, they'd get the next one that they could talk to. Well then the delegations, all the politicians would come up to headquarters, and I'd meet with 'em, and talk to 'em, and I got to know 00:44:00'em all, all the political leaders--of the Clements-Wetherby faction.

KLOTTER: Were you at the headquarters most of the time?

BREATHITT: Full-time, which was quite a sacrifice for my wife and children, but I was up there the whole fall campaign, and stayed in the Seelbach Hotel that entire time, and really got immersed in it. Then was going out to rallies and different things, and then when Stevenson came to Kentucky, helped coordinate that with this campaign staff because you see Wilson Wyatt was the national campaign chairman. Barry Bingham was the press secretary, and I worked with the national speaker's chairman, who was Senator Mike Monroney from--from Oklahoma. It was a fantastic experience following on the convention, right on 00:45:00through 'til November election. And we carried it by about 720 votes, barely carried it for Stevenson, and lost Tom Underwood's race. Cooper came in, and it was just a tough, tough fight. I mean, he had lost to Barkley, and--no he didn't lose to Barkley. He had lost--

KLOTTER: Chapman.

BREATHITT: --Chapman. He'd lost to Chapman. He lost to Barkley--

KLOTTER: Later in `54--

BREATHITT: --in `54.


BREATHITT: And--and Cooper came in and he was really going strong, and Tom didn't have the energy level that Cooper had. And Tom still wanted to totally do it through courthouse speeches and that sort of thing, 00:46:00and they were beginning to play out. And I remember one time I had him scheduled poorly. We had a Beechcraft Bonanza, he's flying in. I had him up in Pikeville for a breakfast, and wound up at Fulton that night, and he sent me a map of Kentucky, said, "I want you to study this carefully." (Laughter)

BIRDWHISTELL: That's great.

BREATHITT: He had a great sense of humor. He was a wonderful raconteur and toastmaster and beach-teller(??), a lot like the Irvin S. Cobb- type. But--

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you mention--I was messing with the equipment there, and I know you said it was a hardship on your family, you know, with you having to be--

BREATHITT: Really hardship. I tell you, we had two children, little children, and--my two daughters, the two oldest children, and my wife 00:47:00at home, and me gone for three months.

BIRDWHISTELL: So how did you manage your income during that period too? How do you--how do you run--back in the early fifties, you know, you're starting out a law practice, how do you leave it for three months and then pay your mortgage?

BREATHITT: All my expenses were paid at the headquarters.


BREATHITT: They paid my expenses at the headquarters, and my law partner picked up the balance and gave me my guarantee.

BIRDWHISTELL: And gave it to you?

BREATHITT: Yeah, but we didn't make a whole lot of money anyway, but I did not practice at all.

BIRDWHISTELL: I--I just think that's important when you look at the history of politics, that somebody like yourself would--you know, would have to leave your practice and that money would not--

BREATHITT: Yeah, well you're right. It was a--it was a real problem financially, but more than that, it was a real burden on my wife with two little children. And it was a--it was something I regret now because of that and later things. I became so absorbed in--in 00:48:00the career path and politics that--and this is a problem with all politicians, is devoting enough time to their family.

BIRDWHISTELL: But you couldn't have been governor without playing ------ ----(??)--

BREATHITT: I just couldn't have done it. I couldn't have been governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: --and so it's part of the price one pays, I guess.

BREATHITT: It's--it's the price one pays, but it later made me decide not to run for political office after I was governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: It comes back--

BREATHITT: But--I--I enjoyed the campaign. It was a lot of fun.


BREATHITT: And at least we won the presidential race, but we lost it nationally.

KLOTTER: Uh-huh.


BREATHITT: So then, I went right back to Hopkinsville and announced for--for the legislature again with--had no opposition, and absolutely 00:49:00nobody filed in the primary general against me, so I got a free ride. And--and in `53, I practiced law and did a whole lot of work with the Young Democrats, going around speaking, going to the national Young Democratic Convention. I remember it was in Minneapolis and Hubert Humphrey made a great speech up there and--as did Eugene McCarthy at the convention. And a young circuit judge from Alabama made a stirring pro-civil rights speech. His name was George Wallace. (Laugh) And--and 'course you know, when he lost to Patterson, then he switched sides. He said, "They'll never out-sing me again." And--and--but--and 00:50:00I met him and he told me about, "Oh I know Kentucky, I used to sell books down there, bibles and books, through South-Central Kentucky and Western Kentucky.

KLOTTER: In `53, you'd come out of the war and kind of all the optimism of what could happen after the war. You know, you--you'd been elected to the legislature when you didn't really expect it. You'd been president of the Young Democrats--

BREATHITT: Which just was a gift. Dropped in my lap.

KLOTTER: --you'd been basically the campaign person--

BREATHITT: Ran the campaign--

KLOTTER: --of the Stevenson campaign, was it hard for you to wait at that time? Did you--

BREATHITT: Well, it was hard for was to go back and practice law, chasing titles in the courthouse, and swapping pots and pans in a divorce case, and--and chasing around, getting witnesses in automobile accident case. And it--it was difficult 'cause I'd gone through some pretty heady experiences that were very stimulating. And by being on 00:51:00the governor's commission on mental health, I had been in touch with a lot of very interesting people in Kentucky at that level. And then I was on the judiciary council and got to know Bert Combs. I think that was the `54 session. It was the `54 session. And--but all that was very interesting, but I had to go back and practice law and make some money--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and so I devoted `53 to practicing law and --but you didn't make a whole lot of money in those days, in a small town practicing law. And--but we did merge our law firm with Seldon Trimble who had--was a very fine lawyer and Judge Oglesby Sawyers, and we called it "Trimble, Sawyers, Keith & Breathitt." And that--Seldon 00:52:00Trimble represented all the insurance companies and owned principal stock in the biggest bank, so we got a lot of establishment practice--

BIRDWHISTELL: You got some ----------(??)--(Laugh)

BREATHITT: --small town, yeah, and got some--that's right. We became the law firm in town. And--and so I wound up getting a lot of stuff pitched to me, so I had to do a lot of work in `53, practicing law, but I--I'll tell you, the politics kept dragging me. I'd get invited to this, or get invited to that, as Young Democratic President. And as a choice between--and I kept going, you know, and which gave me more exposure and more experience. And then in the `54 session of the legislature, Happy Chandler was over--over the whole session was 00:53:00the specter of Happy Chandler being governor. And the administration began to come apart at the seams because they couldn't choose an administration candidate. There was a lot of talk about Louis Cox running, and that would have suited Wetherby. Clements didn't think Cox could win, and plus Clements was not real close to Cox and May and that group, and Clements was closer to Joe Leary who had been his chief palace lawyer on the outside. And Clements wanted a newer, fresher face than Louis Cox who had represented the whiskey people and he just felt that Louis would be vulnerable to Happy. And well Happy--'course now Louis was a very astute person and a fine state senator, and an excellent lawyer, and a wonderful personality. But they had just--Bert 00:54:00had just beaten Governor Willis for the Court of Appeals seat, which gave him a lot of publicity, was this young Commonwealth Attorney who had beaten the former governor, former justice of the Supreme Court for that seat. And so in desperation, or reaching out for a new face like they did for me for Young Democrats which didn't matter, you know- -(Laugh)--except solved a local problem for the governor between John Keck and Harry King Loman, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: Didn't make Harry King Loman's day, but it solved the governor's problem. (Laugh)

BREATHITT: Yeah, that's right. Yeah. But at any rate, I wound up then- -well, Henry Ward was also mentioned as a possibility that Ward and--

KLOTTER: Doc Beecham,

BREATHITT: --Doc Beecham--oh, Doc had a lot of people pushing for him. All the old-time politicians were for Doc Beecham, and they kept 00:55:00saying--Doc couldn't make a speech, you know. He had that gravelly voice and he doesn't look like a governor, and they can't win with that. Well, Doc might have won it, if Doc had run, because he had a group of people that really were for him. And--and I remember at Shelbyville when Combs got up and made that opening speech, Doc says, "Well and they said I couldn't make a speech." (Laughter) And everybody roared in the crowds. (Laughter) But--but Doc was a good soldier. He knew which side he was on, and he didn't bolt to Happy. He couldn't because there'd been too many divisions from the old Tom Rhea-Happy 00:56:00Chandler fight. And Clements couldn't either at that time, 'cause they knew they'd both be out, so they both backed Combs to the hilt. And--but Doc was out of it, so with Combs in the race, that was it. I was running for legislature again, and at that time, I didn't have any opposition again for the--in the `55--

BIRDWHISTELL: So your third race, you still have run against anybody?

BREATHITT: No, that's right. Hadn't run against a soul. (Laugh-- Birdwhistell) And the--and the Young Democrats, which usually is a race at a convention sort-of-race--


BREATHITT: --was just popped into my lap. And so I really hadn't had a test at polls although I'd been on the ballot six times and on that convention ballot, had never had any opposition so I wasn't tested. But I did then everything I could to help Combs in the county. We 00:57:00got somebody else to manage the campaign in others, but I was for him. And the Chandler people got mad at me 'cause they said well we let you by without any opposition. If we'd known you were gonna be this active--but then they wound up carrying the county big for Chandler. I had a hard time getting Combs across. He was--he had not developed as a candidate, as an image. And--and Jimmy Hanratty managed Happy's campaign, and Jimmy--Jimmy had a lot of incentive, and he was out by that time. His--he didn't run for re-election to the Senate.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you find this frustrating? Did you find that race frustrating trying to--to--to promote Combs--


BIRDWHISTELL: --against Hap-, somebody like Happy Chandler?

BREATHITT: No, I liked Combs 'cause I'd served on the Judicial Council with him--


BREATHITT: --and he had been chairman.


BREATHITT: He--he was the--and I liked him.

BIRDWHISTELL: Sure you did.

BREATHITT: But, you know, I wasn't a party--I was too far down the 00:58:00echelon in politics to have anything to do with the decision because Wetherby's intimates were Louis Cox, and Dick Maloney, Mike's father, and Bill May, and Clements. They were the people that--that he listened to. That when they would get together they were his principal advisors and Bill Curlin who was highway commissioner. He paid a lot of attention--a lot of talk about Bill Curlin running, a lot of talk about Jess Lindsay who was a very handsome Adjutant General running. And--but it all shook out and--but then--then when they came with Combs, it became a stampede of people to Chandler.



BREATHITT: And it was--you'd get to see it. The administration disintegrated and--and then the fear of Chandler taking over and firing 00:59:00everybody in the spoils system of the day--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

BREATHITT: --forced all the Clements-Wetherby people to mobilize and make as hard a fight as they could. But it was--it was very difficult, and Happy had a whole lot going for him. Now the--we, our side, was depending on Miss Lennie McLaughlin and the Louisville organization rolling up one hell of a vote, and Combs getting a big vote out of the--out of the Seventh District in the mountains. Now Combs had a lot of support from up there. Bill May was, 'course, from Prestonsburg, and--now they were really organized up in the Seventh District, and-- but see, Combs--I mean what really hurt us was Chandler's running with Waterfield, who had carried my county when he ran for governor. And an awful lot of those Waterfield people that I'd been with as a law 01:00:00student--I didn't have--

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: --all I did was vote and say I was for him--but they all went over with Jimmy Hanratty, and--and Happy got a whole new bunch of people, plus the old people from his `35 race.


BREATHITT: He had all those old-timers that had--and they would--he-- he'd come to the courthouse, and they'd bring their children and hold 'em up to see and babies and--I mean it was--"Happy Days Are Here Again." They wanted a change, and--and the Waterfield people had been out in the cold for all these years and--well, for eight years, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's a long time in politics.

BREATHITT: Yeah, sure is. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) And they--and the First District lined up--plus Bob Humphreys, who was chairman of the Democratic Party and--was strong for "Happy, was his campaign chairman. 01:01:00And Joe Leary was the other chairman, and--and they got Willy Foster, the big power down in--in the ----------(??) for him, and Congressman Noble Gregory came out for him. So, boy, we had it stacked against us in the First District. We had Doc Beecham, who had just been thrown into the First, and--

KLOTTER: 'Course Barkley's dead by that time.

BREATHITT: Yeah, Barkley's gone.


BREATHITT: And so we--

KLOTTER: Or nearly, yeah--yeah--died in--

BREATHITT: Was he dead?

KLOTTER: --died in fif- --

BREATHITT: He died in `55.


BREATHITT: He died in `55. Wasn't it the summer of `55?

BIRDWHISTELL: It must have been.

KLOTTER: Fifty-four?


BREATHITT: No, he was elected in `54.

KLOTTER: Okay. Yeah. He died--


BREATHITT: Elected to the Senate in `54--

BIRDWHISTELL: --in summer of `55.

BREATHITT: He was making that speech at W & L in `55.


BIRDWHISTELL: Well, he appears at the Unity Rally and he gives a big speech at the Unity Rally in Louisville--


BIRDWHISTELL: --during the `55 campaign. Remember that at Louisville? Did you go to that?


BIRDWHISTELL: Where everybody's out on the podium and--that's what I thought of when you were talking about the--

BREATHITT: Yeah. Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --the rally at Miles Park, when you're standing out in the crowd because they had h- --and Happy got up and introduced Bert Combs and--and--

BREATHITT: This was after the primary, wasn't it?



BREATHITT: Yeah, sarkley was alive.

KLOTTER: Yeah, he was still alive.


BREATHITT: But I remember the first television I ever saw was in the `52 race for president. And--and then--well and I saw Barkley--actually saw Barkley make that great speech at the convention. We were back at- -watching it on the TV at the time, and I saw it on television. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: So did you ever wish in the `55 primary you could just slide over to Chandler's side?

BREATHITT: No. (Laughter--Klotter & Birdwhistell) No, I'll tell 01:03:00you why. My uncle had run for governor at the Woodland Convention, thinking that Happy was for him, and Happy left him and went for Ruby Laffoon, putting him on the ticket. I never forgot that, and our family never forgot it, although my grandfather had been for Happy, on my mother's side. He had been for Happy. All the Breathitts weren't. And--and I didn't--didn't forget it and the other thing was--is that our--our family had all backed Barkley against Happy in the Senate race, when Happy was governor the first time. And--although I'd tacked up signs that my grandfather had had me tack up when I was eleven years 01:04:00old for Happy in the run-off primary, I kept hearing this, kept hearing this, kept hearing this. And as I grew older, I realized that that was a very damaging thing to my uncle when Happy left him and went with Laffoon. 'Course Clements and Doc engineered it. They knew it would be, 'cause Happy was close to Ben Johnson and Dan Talbot, and had got all those forces over on the other side. And my Uncle Austin --------- -(??)--'course my uncle had the First District and the Seventh. He had- -Fred Vincent and--and a bunch of people like that. Well, any rate, I never did consider that, and Bert was a friend and--and so I supported him right down to the wire. Happy came to town and with Earl Combs, 01:05:00the great baseball player from New York Yankees, who was from Richmond, who later was his banking commissioner, met at Ike Chestnut's house, and Ike lived two doors up the street, called me up there. It was a very pleasant time, and they tried to get me to run the campaign, and I told 'em I would--couldn't do it, I was committed to Bert.

BIRDWHISTELL: Happy was in the room at the time?

BREATHITT: Oh yes, he's the one made the big pitch.

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??) (Laugh)

BREATHITT: And he and Earl Combs and they told these fascinating stories about the New York Yankees and baseball commissioner and--


BREATHITT: --Happy was a charmer.


BREATHITT: He really was.

BIRDWHISTELL: He was working on you at that time.

BREATHITT: Oh boy, he was really working on me and--and--

BIRDWHISTELL: But once you turned him down, did he get--how--how'd he handle it?

BREATHITT: Well, he didn't forget those sort of things.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's what I thought.

BREATHITT: I mean, no, no. Huh-uh.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you knew that once--


BIRDWHISTELL: --you said that--

BREATHITT: --I was through. So all I had to do was fight for my life. (Laughter)


BIRDWHISTELL: You--you had nowhere to go but up from that point, right?

BREATHITT: So I went to the legislature then, without the support of the winning side at home and without the support of the governor. And--and then, 'course, Happy got his own leadership in, and Harry Lee was running the Senate, presiding over the Senate. And they named a state senator from Hopkinsville, Frank Bassett, as majority leader, which, you know further cut me off. And so I became one of the rebels in the `56 session, and that was built around Breckinridge, and--and John Y. Brown, and Foster Ockerman, and Shelby McCallum, and Cecil Sanders--Art 01:07:00Peak. And we would caucus all the time. And--

KLOTTER: Where did you--where did that group get together when they would talk?

BREATHITT: Well, somebody's apartment. Shelby McCallum had an apartment, and quite often we'd get together at Shelby's and his wife would cook us steaks, and we'd sit there and--

BIRDWHISTELL: Talk politics.

BREATHITT: --plot. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: Where did you live when you were in the legislature and staying in Frankfort?

BREATHITT: Well, at one time, I stayed with the Waddlingtons. He was--Stanley Waddlington was from Hopkinsville, and I stayed up on the third floor of their house, and his sister had married Jimmy Breathitt. Jimmy was killed in testing a plane--well, actually on a cross-country flight up at New London, Ontario flying back to ----------(??) Field from Washington. And I stayed there. And then I stayed with this 01:08:00family whose daughter lived up the street, was married to a doctor, and she had a nice room, and I stayed there. They were the two places that I stayed when I was there, and my wife thought that was fine. I was safe in those two places. (Laugh) And--

KLOTTER: Was there a lot of partying and--

BREATHITT: Oh, partying going on all the time in the--in the--whiskey people and the beer people had big lobbies, and Harry Davis would hand out half-pints to anybody that would walk in. And you had free whiskey, and free cases of beer, and iced beer, and a bar set up all the time. And Doc Beecham had an apartment over the Farmer's Bank, and--which they always gave him--Pat (Laugh--Klotter) Southerland gave 01:09:00him--and--and then there were--Mrs. Hogue had a restaurant that was a famous hangout. She had wonderful food, steaks, and salad with a dressing, and hot rolls which she made--yeast rolls, and everybody'd eat out there at Mrs. Hogue's. (Phone Rings) Let me see what this is. (Pause in Tape) And then the old Capitol Hotel had a bar. And the old Capitol Hotel was a hangout where the bank(??) is now? [Microphone Difficulties]

BIRDWHISTELL: There you go.

BREATHITT: Okay. And--that was a hangout [Microphone Interference] -- --------(??)--but the Capitol Hotel was where the whiskey lobby was and 01:10:00the beer lobby was. And--and the bar down in the Capitol Hotel--the Shamrock Bar--and a lot of people stayed in the Capitol Hotel. Some stayed over at the old Southern Hotel. And some stayed out at the Anchor Inn, and--but it's a lot of partying and night sessions. They'd have a Coke bottle with a straw in it loaded with bourbon usually and enough Coke in there to disguise it. And there was a lot of drinking going on. It was really--and--and then people would come over here. I remember Garvice Kincaid had a party when he opened the Campbell House, biggest party you ever saw for the whole legislature. He was trying to get some--some small loan legislation through or something--through 01:11:00this party and lavish dinner. 'Course the Campbell House at that time was really something.

BIRDWHISTELL: That was the stuff.

BREATHITT: And he lost his bill. (Laugh) I don't think he lost much after that, but--he didn't get his bill passed 'cause Courier was all over it, you know, and in those days, the Courier had all the investigative reporters. The Herald and the Leader were not anything from that standpoint. They concentrated on the sports page and the society page, and--and--but the Courier had Allen Trout, had Hugh Morris, and they both knew how to dig and then--

KLOTTER: Was Riggs there then?

BIRDWHISTELL: He was in Washington.

BREATHITT: He was in Washington.

BIRDWHISTELL: And then Henderson, though, was there--


BREATHITT: No, Henderson was not there--

KLOTTER: He was earlier--

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that earlier?

BREATHITT: He was earlier. And "Scoop" Sherwood was earlier, and there was a guy from the "Louisville Times." What was his name? He was pretty good, but the two that really found out what was going on were Allen Trout and Hugh Morris, and they just filled up the paper with all this stuff, and they kept the spotlight on. And then the Courier editorial columns would hit it, and then the Associated Press had--or United Press had Tommy Gish, who has the "Mountain Eagle." And he was very good. And they Clay Wade Bailey, I think was representing the "Kentucky Post" at that time. And he--he was very good, covered everything. And then "Frankfort State Journal" had, oh the guy that--


KLOTTER: Van Curran?

BREATHITT: --Van Curran, Van Curran from the "Frankfort State Journal." And the Associated Press had a guy and I'm trying to think of his name, but he was good. Jordan. Paul Jordan of the Associated Press was good.

BIRDWHISTELL: But back then, it wouldn't have been news that the entire legislature came over to the Campbell House for a party given by Garvice Kincaid.

BREATHITT: Yeah, they--they made a--

BIRDWHISTELL: That would have been news?

BREATHITT: Yeah, but the ethics--ethical standards in those days were much weaker--


BREATHITT: --than they are now.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, it's so different from now, and I guess--

BREATHITT: Oh yeah--

BIRDWHISTELL: --what I wondered, Governor Breathitt, is when you got to the legislature and you saw the--the liquor interests and the lobbying that was going on, did you think that something was out of order? Or would you--was it pretty much just accepted as part of the way business 01:14:00was done back in that time?

BREATHITT: Well, what I did--I didn't like it. And they had divided, they called some people businessmen, they were the ones that--people would introduce turkey bills and then they'd get a flurry of campaign contributions in cash. They always said it's a campaign contribution. It was always in cash, but it was outright bribery. And--and--but then--then there were a group of very fine people that wouldn't have anything to do with any of that. And these people, you know, the rebels that I was talking about in that `56 session when Happy was there. Harry King Loman was another one. People'd have a tendency to gravitate towards the people that they feel comfortable with and that they--they have similar standards and interests. And that's what happened in the legislature. And I'm sure it happened in prior legislature. But it--there was a lot of corruption and there was a lot of--of lobbying that really was corruption. I mean--[Microphone 01:15:00Interference]--we've come a long way. They thought--they talk about BOPTROT, and--but--but the ethical standards that have been imposed on the legislature, frankly through the press and a vigilant federal prosecutor, and the press. I give the press an awful lot of the credit for this. They really cleaned it up and--more so than they have in Washington, and I was in Washington twenty years. They haven't-- Washington standards are not nearly as good as--as Kentucky standards now, and--now they're more sophisticated in their lobbying up there. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) I mean--but--they--it--there still is some 01:16:00corrupting influences in Washington.

KLOTTER: Can we go back to some of the people that you were dealing with in the legislature specifically, oh, for instance, Governor Wetherby? What were your impressions of him?

BREATHITT: Well, Governor Wetherby was basically a good government type, a no-nonsense sort of guy. He was an avid sportsman, loved to hunt and fish. He loved to go on trips with his buddies, Louis Cox and Bill May, and Bill Curlin. And they would go down, go on a fishing trip in the Ten Thousand Islands, that sort of thing. He enjoyed that, but he--he had an innate--innate sense that I saw of what was right. 01:17:00For example, you know, when the Brown Decision came down, was no problem with him, no ducking and dodging. The press asked him, "What are you gonna do about it, Governor?" and he says, "It's the law of the land; we'll comply," just, you know, just that way. He had been a--an outstanding juvenile judge and had shown a lot of initiatives in Louisville in working with young people which had gotten him early attention of the Courier and--and the Bar there. He was handsome, but he was not one that knew how to toot his own horn. I mean, he was not one--he was not a great self-promoter. He'd done a great job as juvenile judge. He was Earle's lieutenant governor and a very loyal person who helped him carry his whole program through the legislature, 01:18:00then became governor, did not have any active opposition. He loved the state parks. He promoted that greatly through Henry Ward. He pushed the mental health programs and he had the support of the Courier so- -but he--he never knew how to have a big P.R. operation going, and it didn't ever bother him much to have one. And--but I think he's a very underrated governor: number one, 'cause they were defeated by Chandler with his choice, Bert Combs, and number two, there were no great issues 01:19:00or great things that came along during his administration. He passed he minimum foundation program, got that--I think we had to have a constitutional amendment as I recall on that, went all out for that. He knew that was important and--but when I look back on it, and think about his administration and stack it up against other administrations, I think it's a very good one. And he's never really received the credit that --that I think history will ultimately give him.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. Some people might--

BREATHITT: I think it--

BIRDWHISTELL: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

BREATHITT: Yeah, go ahead.

BIRDWHISTELL: Some people might say it's because he followed Clements and--


BIRDWHISTELL: --always operated under that big shadow.

BREATHITT: Well, 'course I had the same thing with Combs.


BREATHITT: Being the--being the supporter in the second administration, carrying on with the same people--


BREATHITT: --and--and--and the obvious comparisons. And Clements was 01:20:00such as dominant figure, powerful figure politically, and as governor. And everything he ever held. He was a--he exuded leadership, powerful leadership.

BIRDWHISTELL: Powerful. Yeah.

BREATHITT: And--but Wetherby didn't agonize over things. He'd make a decision, that's it, and you just go right on, and he never vacillated. I mean, he was that kind of a governor. You knew right where he stood on everything, and you could predict where he would be. Just like when that Brown Decision hit it, Wetherby's the kind of fellow that--number one, he was not a racist. He--he--now he wasn't a great guy out campaigning on--on civil rights, but instinctively he believed that way, and I thought that Wetherby was an excellent governor.


BIRDWHISTELL: I think that one of the differences people might say that you and Governor Combs had a similar philosophy, a similar view of government, [Phone Rings] and similar policies, but a lot of people would look at Clements-Wetherby and see Clements reaching over and making those--making decisions or influencing--

BREATHITT: Wetherby?


BREATHITT: Yeah, but Wetherby crossed him. When Clements tried to name the president at--at Western, he wanted to name Carlos Oakley who had been--who was his school superintendent down around Union County. And Carlos Oakley--the faculty didn't think he was qualified. The alumni didn't think he was qualified. The press didn't think he was qualified, and Wetherby didn't think he was qualified to be president of--and so Wetherby then stacked the board at Western, and named Kelly Thompson, who was the--the alumni were all for, and a--a 01:22:00significant number of the faculty were. Now some of the faculty, like faculty, wanted an eminent Ph.D. aca- --academic type, and Kelly had a master's degree barely, (Laugh--Birdwhistell) I think and--but Wetherby felt that he could do the job and would have the solid support --plus Wetherby had, in his office, Phil McChesney, and--and--Phil was just all out for Kelly. And Phil's father was on the faculty there, and Phil loved Western, and there were several Western people in the office that were oriented toward Western, and they kept the drumbeat on Wetherby. And--but Wetherby crossed Clements and beat him. I mean, it got to be an intense struggle. Clements was trying to get the votes on the board, and Wetherby ,the other way. Wetherby had to whip hand, 01:23:00he had the power of appointment to the board. And as time has shown, Western made great advances under Kelly Thompson. Kelly drank a lot, and when they named him, he said "I'll never drink another drink as long as I live," and never took another drink, long as he lived.

BIRDWHISTELL: Good for him. (Laugh)


BIRDWHISTELL: Just a second--

[End Tape #1, Side #2]

[Begin Tape #2, Side #1]

BREATHITT: --down to is there's--Clements was so preoccupied in the Senate, and with Lyndon Johnson's heart attack. Clements couldn't focus on Kentucky's government and politics and--which was good for Wetherby. If Clements had been down at Morganfield, then it would have been very difficult--

BIRDWHISTELL: It's hard to imagine, isn't--?

BREATHITT: --very difficult for Wetherby, but as it was, Wetherby pretty 01:24:00well had a free hand now. Wetherby always consulted with him on--on politics, certainly. And--but running the state, Wetherby--I never could detect the hand of Clements really in--in those days.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you have much interaction with Clements at that-- during that period?

BREATHITT: No. No, I ha- only had interaction with him during Combs' `59 race.

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: And I had a lot then 'cause I--see--see--but that's further down the pike.


KLOTTER: Had you--did you have any contact with Ed Prichard at the--in this--that time when you were in the legislature?

BIRDWHISTELL: Or during the ----------(??)?

BREATHITT: Not in the legislature. My contact with "Prich," of course, being when I debated with him for the constitution in fifty--in that `46 race, and--and then I was in law school and covered the trial. And--which was, to me, you know a very traumatic sort of thing, I 01:25:00saw this promising future being cut off. And--and I went to the trial nearly everyday, as did most of the law students, 'cause it was the biggest trial that had happened here in a generation or two. And--and then when he went to jail and then in the `55 campaign, I was down at Hopkinsville running for legislature and helping Combs, and not in the headquarters at all. And so "Prich" was in a back room helping him, but they kept him in a back room, and he didn't surface, so I never saw him out on the campaign trail. Now, first time I really saw him was in Doc Beecham's lieutenant governor's office, 'course, one time, after 01:26:00he had returned from jail. But after we had lost the race, it was lame duck time for a couple of months--or a month. And I went into Doc's office, and "Prich" was sitting there and we got into a conversation, but I never did really see "Prich" 'til the `59 race.

BIRDWHISTELL: Let me ask you a question--back to your legislative days. When you're representing Christian County and--and that--that District in the House, did you--what--what was your philosophy of being a legislator? Did you try to vote your conscience and vote your ideas of what Kentucky should be? Or did you feel some compulsion to represent the majority views of your--of your constituents?

BREATHITT: Well I had a pretty free hand, not having had any opposition and knowing I wasn't gonna run again for the `58 session.


BREATHITT: Because I had had a conversation with my family and all I was was a niggety(??) voice in the wilderness under Chandler. And we-- 01:27:00'course in the `56 session, the--several of us got together and prepared an amendment to his tax bill. He had a tax bill that was periphery, ran on different things, and substituted the sales tax bill. And that really was my baby, and I got John Y. Brown to make the great Garibaldi speech, you know. And by God, we got it done, and it took all day for them to undo it before they could get a final vote. And we caught 'em asleep, and Timmy Fitzpatrick was in the chair and was not an astute- -they had to call Waterfield over from the Senate to sit right by him, try to figure out from a parliamentary standpoint how they could get their bill back up.


BIRDWHISTELL: Are you serious? They just caught him on--

BREATHITT: Oh, yes they did. They surely did.

BIRDWHISTELL: Sat him right there?

BREATHITT: And he sat right with Timmy Fitzpatrick (Laugh--Birdwhistell) to try to figure out --'course Waterfield was a--was a parliamentary scholar. He'd been Speaker of the House--

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, he knew what he was--

BREATHITT: He knew Robert's Rules of Order and--he was a--and he knew the rules of the House and the Senate. And--and they had to call him over. Fitzpatrick didn't know what to do. (Laugh) And--well, we got it--we got an awful lot of stuff in and 'course, that infuriated Chandler and--and 'course I had--Cecil Sanders helped me on that, and the other--and Shelby McCallum and--John Breckinridge. 'Course John, you know, he--he thought it was wonderful. (Laughter) And we really did. And--but we got, on final vote, we got 44 votes.


BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. That's a lot.

BREATHITT: And you know, that was--showed that it was a live issue.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

BREATHITT: And--and we then, in the `58 session, I was not there, but I'd go up and see 'em some--sometime, they enlarged the group. They got--the rebels then became really a force. 'Course Chandler, it was his second session and he was weakened, like most governors are in their second session.

BIRDWHISTELL: So'd you regret you hadn't stayed in at that point? So you could--

BREATHITT: Well yes, yes I regretted, but I --I also had such a guilt feeling about not devo- --devoting my time to my law practice or my family. (Laugh-- Birdwhistell) And so I was at home, devoting my time to them, and--and--which I did. And the only thing that got me back into politics was Combs running in `59.


BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??) `59.

BREATHITT: I'd really decided I'd done it; it was fun; I was gonna get out.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you were gonna stay out for good at that point?

BREATHITT: I left out for good at that time, went home--in my own mind, I thought I was. I guess lurking in the recesses--and I had some second thoughts about it, and I would come up and see them. And I didn't work in the campaign for Barkley and--in `54. I didn't go to headquarters for that same reason when I was devoting time at home. And I--we had a new president of the Young Democrats that summer, so I didn't have to get in the fall campaign. But they--you know, wrote up a platform, the rebel platform. And all the points, they had a program that they fought for and Combs and Wyatt adopted it. And it started 01:31:00in the `56 session with the group that--that I was a part of, and then it was carried on. Marlow Cook joined them, from Louisville. And some of the liberal Republicans joined 'em. Marlow was in the legislature. And--and they--they really had a--became a force which became a group that backed Combs and Wyatt. Then Combs asked me and Wendell Ford in `59 to open up his campaign headquarters. And we went up and opened up his campaign headquarters, sort of his interim campaign chairmen. And we did, Wendell and I went right back to the Seelbach Hotel to 743, that suite of rooms that had been where we headquartered for several campaigns. And we got June Taylor in there and--and Ruth Murphy, 01:32:00and Catty Lou Miller was involved. Keck would come back and forth, you know, Keck was a great friend of Combs' and some of the Mountain Brigade who are all good friends. Woodrow Burchett from Prestonsburg who Combs really liked and trusted, very fine lawyer, would come in and out. Then we began to organize--now this was--you understand, before the merger.


BREATHITT: Now over across the street, at the Kentucky Hotel, was Dick Maloney and--and Dick was the strongest--Wetherby was on the Wyatt 01:33:00side, but not promised 'cause of the Louisville ties, and--but Dick was out front. He was organizing and then they gave Dave Francis from Bowling Green to be the manager, campaign manager. And--and that headquarters was going strong against us. And--but Clements would come in periodically for a big strategy conference in Washington, and the minute he took--came in the conference, he took over. He just dominated it and ran it. And then they decided--he knew that they had to get so strong that Wyatt's forces would see that his strategy was to get him out or get him to run on the ticket all alone. And--and he'd stay at the hotel and, oh, a couple of nights, I'd stay in the room 01:34:00with him, you know, and we'd talk, and talk, and talk. And he would walk all over the room and talk and gesture and--and he was such as dominating, powerful figure.

BIRDWHISTELL: Bigger than life.

BREATHITT: Oh, yeah. And--and--and then Ed Prichard was up there. And Ed--Ed--was, of course, very close to Clements. And--well then, "Prich" was a little cautious though during the two-man race because he was so close to the Binghams, and they had supported him so through all his travail. And--but he was so close to Clements and so he was sort of--I always accused him of being a double agent, but--(Laugh)--he was astute enough to--but he wanted to be Chandler, and then they had--and then they had that meeting at the Stanford Hotel. By that 01:35:00time, Clements and Combs decided they better get some heavyweight into that headquarters and they got Bob Martin as Superintendent of Public Instruction, heavyweight in a lot of ways. Bob had a refrigerator brought up to his room--(Laughter)--for midnight snacks, snacks all during the day,--(Laughter)--and--and--but he had the school people. They knew that the school people were gonna be a great force, and they figured that Martin would know how to--Clements did, mobilize that. And Combs had an awful lot of school superintendents for him in `59. And so then they sent me to the First District to organize the First and sent Wendell to the Second Congressional District. They assigned district chairmen, and my job then was the First District, and 01:36:00Wendell's was the Second District and--

BIRDWHISTELL: You didn't think, well, here we go again, did you?

BREATHITT: Yeah, well--no, no. No, about that. Well I knew we weren't gonna be the campaign chairmen and it suited me a lot better 'cause I was gonna be able to be at home a lot.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, but I mean, trying to pull off the [Phone Rings] First District--

KLOTTER: Combs--

BREATHITT: Oh yeah, yeah. Against Waterfield.


BREATHITT: That's right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, I was just thinking that you might have thought you heard footsteps.

BREATHITT: Yeah, that's right. (Pause in Tape) Well anyway, I--I wore out. I had an old Chevrolet, 1955, Chevrolet which was sort of a classic Chevrolet, and I wore that car out in that campaign, running all over that district. And--and the thing I went after was Willie Foster. My wife was from Mayfield.


BREATHITT: And I kept working on Willie, and kept working on Willie, 01:37:00and kept working, and I couldn't get him. He stayed with Waterfield, and--but we carried Christian County. I's concentrated on that county and I got two people there, a fellah that later was on the parole board who was the tax commissioner there, Glenn Wade. We called him Skippy and he was--and Frank Lacy and we went at it precinct by precinct, and I mean, we worked these precincts for a year and a half.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you almost ran it like a local race.

BREATHITT: I did run it like a local race, exactly like a local race. And I'd never had to do that in my races. (Laugh) But we figured out exactly what to do, and Glenn had a keen local mind on how to do it.


BREATHITT: And we carried the county, carried it big, total reverse from four years before. And--and Wendell, and J. R. Miller, and that crowd 01:38:00carried Daviess County which has always been a Chandler bastion, not much, but they did as I recall. I think they did, but they certainly got a big vote, and they did carry it. And--and Clarence Maloney from Madisonville was a strong supporter of ours. He was a strong Clements fellah that had been a young guy back when Laffoon ran. And--but he did whatever Clements told him to do and--and Clarence was an activist, and so Beecham, and Clarence, Maloney, and Wendell Ford, and me and- -and [Interference] we had a hard time down in the Purchase--and Smith Broadbent. Now Smith Broadbent started out for Waterfield.


BREATHITT: I had traveled the state for Smith [Interference Increases] ----------(??) to see if we could drum up support ----------(??) for 01:39:00governor. And ----------(??)----------[Interference - Lost Several Sentences] And then when they had the merger ----------(??) Smith, and Smith said "I'm not ----------(??) about whether ----------(??)." So we got--it was ----------(??) Smith didn't--Smith was so close to Waterfield, he just couldn't bring himself to--he and his wife -------- --(??) just ----------(??). And--but that was--that was that race. And 01:40:00then when we won it, the primary, Clements ----------(??) Republicans to get John Watts as chairman. Dave Francis, of course, after the merger ----------(??) [Interference] and--(Laugh)--they got into a squabble ------------(??) and one of the women chairmen ----------(??)- --------- got to move ----------(??) women ----------(??). They kidded me around the headquarters about being the women's ----------(??). (Laughter) And--and I did do that part later in--in ----------(??). 01:41:00They got John Watts who was ranking on--number two man on --------- -(??). They knew K.U. and L & N and the coal industry were not gonna cross John Watts as campaign chairman 'cause they knew he could raise plenty of money Clements was astutely just cut off ----------(??). And our Republican senators couldn't ----------(??) coal industry. 01:42:00And Clements figured that out. And--and 'course they also ------- ---(??) Wyatt ----------(??)---------- 'Course Wilson ----------(??) but he ----------(??). He was ----------(??)---------- county judge. Everything he ever did, he wanted to do well, but he was a pragmatist, 01:43:00not an idealist. ----------(??) would(??) waste a whole of energy on lost causes or breaking lances, but he was a pragmatist. He could not stand a drone or a person on the payroll that didn't work and produce. He also could cut through to the essential sorts of issues that were important people in Kentucky and--legitimate issues, like he knew they had to have decent rural roads. We set up a rural road program, passed the two cents on the gas tax to fund it, named Doc Beecham in there. He knew how to talk to those county judges and all those people to do it, made him rural road commissioner. He knew we had to have jobs. And he knew the commissioner of agriculture was an elected position that didn't amount to a damn, so he set up the old Agricultural Industrial Development Board. [Interference Starts Again] Started 01:44:00----------(??)--state. And got good people, really good people. He would go for the nuts and bolts sort of things that were fundamentally good. He --he knew tobacco was the top cash crop and he did everything he could to help tobacco. And he knew that [Interference] ------ ----(??). He knew the coal industry was important(??) to Kentucky, and he was ----------(??) friendly to the coal people, and--but he ----------(??) all kind of things, the railroad ties. ----------(??) and he--now he wouldn't(??) cut deals to get money politically. He 01:45:00----------(??) raise money but he also ----------(??)---------- --he was--now he would raise the money, but I saw him ----------(??) really 01:46:00good government. I'm--I'm talking about on a basic sort of a way. He would talk to 'em and lead 'em up blind paths, and get 'em around here, and then get 'em out of there, and they were halfway home 'fore they realized what did he say? (Laugh) Did we get what we wanted? Well, they wanted to cut some sort of deal, you know, and he wouldn't cut a deal that--he wasn't gonna have personal ser- --he was death against personal service contracts for drones. He couldn't stand that. And mowing contracts, you had to mow the right of way. And you know, that sort of thing. Now he'd--he'd--he'd try to give it to his friends, but on a highway crew, he wouldn't take any drones. He wouldn't have 01:47:00drones drawing a check and not doing any work. When he was highway commissioner, he made 'em--and he cut the crews down in size some. I saw that in him because in the `59 campaign, I'd sit quite often in a meeting with people in the First District, when people would come up and they'd wanna, you know, cut deals about patronage and all that kind of stuff, and--and he'd talk their language, and--and he'd go so far, but wouldn't do it--I found out that was wrong. I found that out about Clements. And not having been a Clements man, I developed an admiration for him. I really did, plus, he--his advisors--he knew that Prichard had something that he didn't have, and he valued "Prich" as an advisor. And he had something "Prich" didn't have, and that's power.


BREATHITT: And they became very, very close friends. And Prichard 01:48:00admired his ability and he was straightforward with me when I tried to get him to be for me. Did I tell you that story?

BIRDWHISTELL: I don't think.

BREATHITT: I went to see him. I knew it--I'd been in that `60 campaign. After we won, I'd been a great advocate of merit system, and I'd worked with Clements. And Clements was a power then on who was gonna get named, and it galled Louis Cox, Phil May, and Wetherby to a degree, but not less for Wether- ------------(??) Cox 'cause they wanted to be the powers in the palace guard. And they saw Clements as the real power in the administration which he was in those days, early days. 01:49:00Well, "Prich" called me up. "Prich" was a great one --finding out, being right there, and finding out what they're gonna do, and then call up, claiming credit for it. He'd call me up and he says, "I want you to be the personnel commissioner." I said, "Prich", what in the world--I don't wanna be personnel commissioner. And he said, "Oh yes, you've got to do this for the governor," and he was so persuasive. [Interference] Said "I've talked to the governor and--and I think he'll do it, but I don't wanna carry it further unless you're--" Well, hell, you know, I found out Combs had really been--he was there, but "Prich" enlarged upon his role. (Laughter) And--well, anyway, Combs says, "You big merit system man, you've got John Breckinridge over there as attorney general. He's a big merit system man." Said, "I want you to be personnel commissioner." And I said, I know what you want 01:50:00me to do. You want me to fire all those "Chandlerites," and hire all the Mountain Brigaders, and then put a merit system in to lock it in. "Oh--well--" you know, he--(Laughter) he'd laugh and (Laugh)--and he never did answer me. And--but he was on the hook for a merit system. He'd made a big pitch about it. So I did it, much against my best judgment 'cause my wife, 'course didn't like it at all. And so I said, all right, I'll do it for six months. I'll--I'll draft your bill, I'll lobby it through, and then I'll initially set it up, but then you need a bureaucrat, a really good one, to run it. And you've got--you've got Felix Joyner there, who was a--Clements first came into government, when Clements was governor, James Martin had sent him over there. And I said, you need Felix Joyner to really do it. And so he said 01:51:00okay. So I went in and--and we went to all the merit system people, the civil service commission and the groups nationally, and went over and talked to people in economic security 'cause they had one, you know. They had received federal money. And I had a lot of help from Breckinridge 'cause he was working with Gladys Kammerer and a lot of folks like that, and Mrs. Tackow(??) in Louisville. And we get--we agreed on a bill, John and I did, and then I went to work on the legislature, and I'd had that experience in the legislature, and I had all these old rebels there, who were feeling their oats now. They were in power. And--well, Beecham was against it. Miss Lynnie McLaughlin was against it--

BIRDWHISTELL: I bet they were--why, sure they were.

BREATHITT: --and Johnny Crimmins was against it. And they were doing 01:52:00everything they could to cut me off, under cover. They couldn't challenge Combs publicly. Well, Miss Lynnie did. She just--and she was working on Wilson Wyatt and Wilson, "Oh, ho, ho, ho--" Wilson was really for it, you know, but he was--trying to stay out of the line of fire, (Laugh--Birdwhistell) but that's what I wanted him to do. And--because Wilson knew we needed him. And he was for it and was committed on the ticket, you know. And so we got it through. It was a hard fight, really was. We were surprised how hard it was, even--but the governor--the governor gave me the support I needed to--on it, but he really expected us to do it, 'cause he was concentrating on other things, like the referendum for the sales tax, the--and--and the other things of his administration. And he didn't wanna get all--and he needed Miss Lynnie and the Louisville delegation and he needed the others, so he did not take his prominent role, but he was very 01:53:00helpful to me, and we got it passed. And then I got the thing set up, and Combs agreed to name Felix Joyner. Felix said the same thing, I--he said, "Now, I'll really implement it for you, but I don't wanna be the personnel commissioner, " and so Combs named him head of the Toll Road Authority. And--and we got it through. And then I went to Combs, and I said, "Now look I've done this for you, and I wanna go back home." He said, "Well, what can I do for you?" I said, "You can appoint me to the Public Service Commission." Well they didn't have a seat. They had--the law required two Democrats and one Republican, had to have one of the opposing party. So they'd changed the law. Now 01:54:00this was before the legislature adjourned. So they--and the person that was in was Governor Willis. So Combs appointed Governor Willis to the Parole Board. They changed the law to not require it to be partisan, and I got to be the Republican--(Laughter)--on the Public Service Committee. That's how I got appointed. And in those days, it was--you went up there about three days every month. And it was a plum. And it was--it was a--and David Francis and Woodrow Burchett were appointed. David was the chairman, and a good chairman. And Woodrow, and David, and I served for the year. And the next year, let's see--that was sixty- --served two--a year and a half, year and a half. No, I actually served two years. And I announced for governor. 01:55:00But--and in the `60 campaign, the other thing that we'd been after him for was a new constitution, so we got him to pass the Constitutional Revision Assembly legislation, and we had to have a vote for it, and we made a bipartisan ticket, me and--and Marlow Cook. And we managed the campaign, Almost carried it on a "vote yes" campaign. And the Kennedy campaign was going on against Nixon at the same time. Marlow had come in with his Nixon button off and put it down. I put my Kennedy button in my pocket and we'd put "Vote Yes" on, (Laughter--Birdwhistell) we'd work for two or three hours and--on this campaign, but that gave me some statewide experience too, through that one. And I met a whole 01:56:00different group of people.

BIRDWHISTELL: We'll start there the next time, if that's okay.


[End Tape #2, Side #1]

[End of Interview]