Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Wendell H. Ford, May 9, 2000

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

 BIRDWHISTELL: All right, well, we'll, we'll get underway here, Senator. It's, uh, May 9th, 2000, and uh, I appreciate you letting me come down today. This is the, uh, third session in our uh,work on doing a life oral history with you.

FORD: You set--we set a world's record, though.

BIRDWHISTELL: Six years, I think, between session two and session three--

FORD: --I can't remember what I told you last time, that's for sure! (laughter)

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, let me refresh your memory. The first uh--

FORD: --OK.

BIRDWHISTELL: We had, uh-- We had two good sessions, and basically talking about you growing up here in Davis County, and, and uh, living in Frankfort for a while. And we got you to UK and back, and, uh, uh, we actually got you off to the service. And when we last talked, you were boarding a train headed for the South Pacific. The train was going to go to Chicago and then on--beyond on from 00:01:00there. And, uh, you got orders to, uh, leave the train, you and twenty-three other, roughly twenty-three other soldiers.

FORD: (coughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: And you were assigned to, uh, train other, other soldiers. And, uh, as we were ending the interview, uh, you, you said that you were--you went from Fort Hood to Arkansas. What, what, uh, fort was it? Do you remember?

FORD: Camp Robinson, Arkan--

BIRDWHISTELL: --Camp Robinson.

FORD: --Arkansas.

BIRDWHISTELL: And then down to San Antonio.

FORD: Um-hm, for a discharge.

BIRDWHISTELL: For a discharge.

FORD: Um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: And so you spent the rest of that time, then, training other soldiers. How did that--how did you enjoy that?

FORD: Well, it was, uh, good and bad.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: I guess that's like everything else.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: The, uh, good part about it was that, uh, you could see some results. Uh, there were some-- uh, I guess I learned a lot from that, because every 00:02:00individual was not the same, and you had to try to handle 'em a little bit different in order to get 'em to do what, what they were supposed to do. There was, uh, some you could, uh, scare into doing things, and others that you had to be a little, uh, softer with, and so forth. But you get 'em to respond. One of the things, Terry, that I never will forget is that back during that time, Walter Winchell--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --was a well-known radio commentator, news. And he ended his programs, uh, the latter part of, uh, World War II with, uh, "Germany has its concentration camps and the United States has Fort Hood, Texas."

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: The reason for that is that his nephew, as I recall--and I think it's 00:03:00his, his nephew--was fatally injured in, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: --uh, one of the, uh, infiltration courses that we had to go through after we had, uh, so many weeks--thirteen, I think--and then we had two weeks of bivouac.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And we went through basic, uh, basically what you would do in combat. And so, uh, his, uh, nephew was fatally injured. Well, it just so happened that, uh, where he was fatally injured, uh, they went off and left him. He was AWOL for two or three days, as I recall. And, uh, uh, uh, with Winchell's, uh, comments at the end of all of his broadcasts, it got the attention of, uh, the military and the press and, uh, politicos, and that sort of thing. And I happened to be one of the, uh, uh, noncommissioned officers that, uh, was in 00:04:00charge of part of the, uh, training--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --at the site where his nephew was fatally injured.

BIRDWHISTELL: (clears throat)

FORD: And so it was quite a morning when you'd walk out you'd see all these jeeps parked there and, uh, men getting out of the jeeps with stars on their caps, you know, to observe what goes on at this particular place. And so it was not only, uh, uh, uneasy moment, it was very difficult to train, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: --uh, those soldiers at that period with all of the scrutiny that was going on.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: But we had to do that, and that was one of the things. And I, uh, was, uh-- Uh, I was ready to get out of there after that. I, I was not but, uh-- My request for transfer and s-- uh, whatever was denied, and I think that, uh, uh, the commanding officer of the regiment indicated that, uh, he was running 00:05:00the regiment and I wasn't. --(Birdwhistell laughs)-- And that, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --he wanted--

FORD: --when he got ready to, to, to send me somewhere, he'd make that judgment, and it wasn't mine. But, uh, that was a crucial time. And, uh, I don't know whether I-- Did I show you my silver dollar?

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm-mm.

FORD: My silver dollar I got back in 1945, I guess, and I've carried it ever since.

BIRDWHISTELL: Look at that.

FORD: It's just almost slick.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And I got that silver dollar, first one I had ever seen--Ms. Ford m-- uh, moved to be with me, and she--to, uh, Temple--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --Texas. And she stayed with a Mrs. Ormond that was known by several people in, uh, Owensboro. And she had a bedroom and kitchen privileges. And so she and Ms. Ormond got along real well, and Ms. Ormond had other rooms that she 00:06:00rented out. McCloskey General Hospital was there, and Jean started out to clerking in a grocery store, and then she had been working at JC Penney, and they needed her, and she went to work for JC Penney. But, uh, Dad sent me a five dollar bill every week, and I would check the clip in the paper--when I get a envelope from him I'd just rub my hand across it.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: If it had a paperclip in it, I knew there was a five dollar bill in there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: And that was a lot of money for Dad every week to send me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And so Jean and I would take the five dollar bill and go down and get us a country fried steak and all the trimmings and everything, have money left out of the five dollars. And so one weekend she said, "Why don't you--why don't we have steaks?" And I said, "Well, I'll see if I can get some, and I'll bring 'em in on the bus." I rode--it was a school bus that brought us from Camp Hood to--which was out of Killeen, at the temple. So I went in this grocery store, 00:07:00which was basically a tent, and, uh, because Killeen's just a small town, and--at the edge of the camp there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And so I gave this boy a five dollar bill for these two strip steaks, and I got better than a dollar back. And one of the dollars was this silver dollar.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: So, uh, I almost spent it two or three times--(laughter)--when I was down there. But I kept it, and, uh, to remind me of that. And so I've carried it every day--

BIRDWHISTELL: --wow.

FORD: --since, uh, since that time, 1945.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.

FORD: And, uh, I--as I say, I've lost it a couple times, but I've, uh, always been fortunate enough to, to find it. So it has been worn down fairly slick--

BIRDWHISTELL: --wow.

FORD: --but it has a lot of memories in it, and, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right, right.

FORD: --uh, when I rub it or get it out of my pocket, I have a lot of people 00:08:00comment, "Where'd you get--what's that big piece of money you got in your pocket there?" And I always get--tell the story, too.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Did, um-- Did the--your military service change you in any way? And, uh, you were--of course, you were young, and you were changing anyway, I guess, but, uh--

FORD: --yeah, but Terry, I guess it r-- uh, uh, you were on a schedule. Uh, you got up a certain time in the morning. Uh, you had to do certain things. Uh, you had a schedule whereby you were trained. You learned certain things, and then you would see how proficient you were at the end of it. And I think it, uh, gave me some discipline that, uh, uh, I wouldn't have had otherwise. And, uh, I guess, uh, people say I've been on a schedule all my life, seems like, and, uh, from, uh, time I went to, uh, the service until today I've got a schedule.

00:09:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And you--as you have. We're all on a schedule. But I think it gave me respect, uh, for, uh, discipline, and, uh, to be, uh, on a schedule. I think it's, uh-- I think it helped a great deal. And I, uh--the physical training, I think, was a plus for me. I had no trouble. Every once in a while you'd get sore feet and blisters and things like that, but, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: --that was not anything unusual. (laughter) And I learned that, uh, people that have had experience, you better listen to 'em, because after a full field pack force marc--that's a mile every fifteen minutes with a full field pack, in Texas, you know, it got pretty dad blame (??) hot.

BIRDWHISTELL: I'll bet.

FORD: Well, I didn't want, uh, coffee. I wanted, uh, ice water. But they'd 00:10:00give you, uh, a cup of coffee.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: Warm. And I couldn't understand why. But that'd make you sweat more, and it--with a little breeze, it'd evaporate and you'd cool down. So I was--I learned why they thought coffee was better than ice water.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And so it, just to give you--that's a--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --maybe a frivolous example--

BIRDWHISTELL: --oh, of course.

FORD: --but nevertheless, they'd been through it, and they understood it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: And, uh, one of the, uh, officers that trained us said that, uh, this is just like everyday life, said, uh, it doesn't seem like it, but let me tell you why: we're gonna give you the basics, and we're gonna give you the foundation in which to be a good soldier. You'll have to, uh, apply the meat to the bones--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: --as you get into the service.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And when--he said, "Do you have--?" After that long, little speech, why, he said, "You have any questions?" And one boy said, "I don't quite understand. 00:11:00When you're giving us the bas-- basics, what happens? How can you--? How can you, uh, uh, accommodate all this?" And he said, "Well, let me give you an example. We gave the, the people the basics, and we--for a sixty-millimeter mortar platoon." And said, uh, "One of the platoons ran out of, uh, ammunition, and they were supposed to attack." Well, they didn't have any, any rounds for their mortars, so they just--uh, uh, company commanders made 'em shoulder 'em--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and head up the hill, hill holding the, uh, the sixty-millimeter mortars. Well, the Germans thought it was a new weapon and they ran--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --and so they took the hill without any casualties.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: He said, "Now, that--they had the basics, and the strength to do that, but then you applied the meat to the bones--"

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: "--to capture the hill."

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And so it was--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --I don't know, it's--

00:12:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: But I re-- those--that's something I recall, and I can't remember-- I don't remember all my officers' names.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: John Reed is eighty years old, and he remembers the first teachers back in 1920--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --at the Thurston Consolidated School.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Well, not everybody's as fortunate as John. Of course, they only had five teachers--(laughter)--at the time, because--

BIRDWHISTELL: --weren't as many children (??).

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, I interviewed a Vietnam veteran once, and--(clears throat)--he was talking about when he got back home. He was, uh--he was bothered, and I said, "By what?" And he said, "Well, the fact that I got to come back, and others didn't." And I was wondering: in your case, or the case of, uh, others where, you know, you served in the Armed Forces during World War II but your duty wasn't overseas, and you were never placed in a combat situation, did, did that concern you at all at the time, or has it since?

FORD: Yes. I even contemplated--that's--goes back to my regimental commander. I--

00:13:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --I felt like I'd been there long enough and made my contribution. I ought to go with the fellows that left.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And some were from Owensboro that trained same time I did, and they had to go overseas, and I didn't.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: I didn't make the choice to stay.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: You know, it was somebody else's. And that goes back to a statement I made earlier, that you have to look at experience, those that have been through it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and that's like the regimental commander told me, said, "When we get ready to ship you out here, we'll make the decision. You won't."

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: And, uh, of course it pleased Mother and Dad that I didn't--

BIRDWHISTELL: --sure.

FORD: --but it gave me a feeling that, uh, something, uh, uh, something was in my craw, if I can use that term--

BIRDWHISTELL: --sure.

FORD: --that I didn't, uh, go overseas.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: But, uh, you--there's some satisfaction that you trained, and you trained 'em as well as you could, the young men--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and you sent them out to support those had already gone. And that 00:14:00maybe somehow or another, some of those, uh, arrived at a, a position to be helpful to those--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --that were in the same outfit I was in when I originally got my training.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: So, uh, we were shifting a lot to, uh, South Pacific. Uh, we had, uh, tank destroyers at, uh, Fort Hood. That was kind of a TD, uh, a f-- a training center. And they, uh, took, uh, those--eliminated those, and went to the Infantry. It's IRTC [sic], Infantry--Infantry Training Replacement Center.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: And, uh, they brought a major by the name of Barr, B-A-R-R, from, um, Fort Benning over to develop the Infantry training, and that was when I was, uh--had just started. My outfit was the first, uh, one of the first, uh, 00:15:00Infantry Replacement Training groups. And Barr came in when they took all of us off the train, and, uh, made us, uh, uh, acting, uh, gadgets or whatever you want to call us. And, uh, it was a change, a shift, uh, in need for the, uh, f-field.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, so I--they selected me. I guess maybe they wanted me to go to clerk school, and I didn't want to do that. It was, uh, uh--that's where I started. That was--you take a test, and they--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --put you in the category. So they wanted me to go to clerk school and be company clerk, or battalion clerk. And I didn't want that. And, uh, so it, uh, uh-- And the Infantry coming in, so they just put me--put most of us in 00:16:00there that were, uh, in--that came out in the category f-- as company clerks. I guess you felt like you could file and type.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And I had--I think I passed with eighteen--passed my typing course in high school with eighteen words a minute, something like that. (laughter) And had, han an awful good teacher. He was a basketball coach.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um--

FORD: But, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: What--

FORD: It, it--you, you, you, you're--it, it was a little bit sensitive back then, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --uh, things have a way of working out, and, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --you, you--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --do what you have to do.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, right. In the Military, you go where they tell you to go.

FORD: Absolutely.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um, did you and Mrs. Ford, while you were in Texas, or Arkansas, did you all ever contemplate not returning to Owensboro?

FORD: No, no.

00:17:00

BIRDWHISTELL: That was never--

FORD: No.

BIRDWHISTELL: --a--

FORD: Never, never a consideration.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Uh-- It was, uh-- I mean, here's home. Our family was here. We were raised here. Our friends were here, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, it would've broken Mother's heart, I think, if I had, uh, decided to stay in Texas, or go someplace else.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And, uh, Dad, uh--of course, his, uh, uh, uh, desire was that, uh, I come back into business with him.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, he also wanted my brother to come back and, uh, be with him. My brother, of course, fought in Korea.

BIRDWHISTELL: 'Cause he's eight years younger?

FORD: Younger than I am, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Eight years.

FORD: Eight years younger.

BIRDWHISTELL: So it would--

FORD: --a-and he--

BIRDWHISTELL: --at the time you're in the service at--what, you're nineteen and twenty? He's still a--

FORD: He's twelve years old.

BIRDWHISTELL: So he's--

FORD: --twelve, thirteen. And, uh, my sister was four years younger. She was--

00:18:00

BIRDWHISTELL: So she's in high school--

FORD: --um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: --during that period. Yeah. Um--(clears throat)--so you knew you were coming back, and, and you must have followed with some interest, uh, the war as it, uh, as it ended in Germany, and then, uh, with the dropping of the bomb in, uh, Japan. That must've been of great interest to you personally.

FORD: Well, it had to be to all of us--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh, Terry. The, uh, uh-- We were getting some of those that were stationed w-- after the war was over in Europe. We started getting those that had been stationed in the Aleutians--

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: --and Alaska, and all through there. And, uh, they were being, uh, transferred from there into, uh, Fort Hood, uh, to help with training. And many of those that were--came in were made, uh, first sergeants or platoon sergeants 00:19:00or, you know, they, they fit right in right quick.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And so a great many of them were, uh, transferred in to prepare us for the big drive in the South Pacific, of course.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. I, I was reminded when I was interviewing Morton Holbrook about his military experience, and how even as they were finishing in Europe they assumed that they were going to go have to--

FORD: --go to--

BIRDWHISTELL: --go, go to the Pacific, you know. And, and that's what, I think, uh, you know, we need to remember in interviewing you veterans is that, you know, we know how it ended, but at the time, uh, things were really up in the air. I mean--

FORD: --no question, no question about it. And, of course, Morton has a, a terrific history--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh, in, uh, the Military as it related to Europe.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, uh-- In fact, it's very interesting to listen to him talk about his days, uh, in Europe.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh-- But, uh-- The bomb was, uh, spectacular. You know, it was 00:20:00just, uh, something that, uh, none of us could imagine, with all the destruction and all the firepower we thought we had.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And when they dropped the bomb in--on Japan, it was, uh, something that we-- It was hard for even those in the Military--and I'm sure--and we were, we were not high ranking--(laughs)--members, but--and I'm sure that the, the higher ranking Military people understood what was coming. But we didn't.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And so it was, uh-- I don't know whether you'd call it a shock or surprise or elation, because it indicated that we were--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --at, at the close of the war.

BIRDWHISTELL: Probably all, all three, I would guess--

FORD: --yeah, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --shock, surprise, and elation.

FORD: Probably all three of 'em. But, uh, nevertheless, it was, uh, the knowledge that, uh, it was about over.

00:21:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And--

BIRDWHISTELL: So tell me about getting out of the service. How, how did that work for you? I mean, was it fairly, uh, routine? You got --------(??)--

FORD: --oh, it was not bad. When I got to San Antone, uh, Fort Sam, they just--we walked in. They gave us three-day pass. (laughs) There were so many of 'em.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: And, uh, uh, s-- I, I drove--we drove all night, several of us, to--in my car--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --in order to, uh, get there so we could get out, rather than taking a train or, you know, or riding a bus or something. We just drove straight through.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.

FORD: And then when we got there, blurry-eyed, everything, they gave us three-day pass and told us where our cot was. (laughter) And so we, uh--I think, uh, we went off--I went off post one time, and I got a, a, a seven-course Mexican meal. It was the first, uh-- And you talk about hot.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughter) It was the real--

00:22:00

FORD: --the real thing--

BIRDWHISTELL: --it was the real deal.

FORD: --it was the real deal. It was the real deal. And, uh, of course, uh, I came back, uh, to, uh, uh, Little Rock, and we load up--loaded up what belongings we had, and headed home, and straight through.

BIRDWHISTELL: Drove straight through.

FORD: Yeah, lost the gas tank.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Uh, had an old Pontiac, and the gas tank fell when it went over rough railroad track.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Well, it didn't come, uh, unconnected. It still--

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: --stayed, uh-- And s-- but it was on the ground. Course, you know what could happen.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, yeah, spark.

FORD: It sparks and set the thing on fire. And I pulled over on the side of the road real quick, and there was an old service station there. And, uh, so I got the jack out of the car, and got, got it underneath the gas tank somehow, and jacked it back up into place. And I found this--a cable, uh, two pieces of 00:23:00cable in the trash in--behind this--uh, had a big pile of trash behind the service station. And I pulled it underneath the frame and brought it around and tied it to where I got the gas tank in, in good shape.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And so it stayed that way until we got home. Course, we had a little trouble. We had to have--we had our, uh, uh, uh, ration stamps for gasoline.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: Course, in Texas you could buy a hundred gallons for ten dollars. They had all the gasoline you could--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --you needed, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: But, uh-- And we had no trouble getting it while we were in Texas, but coming home it was a little bit different. And we--I had an A book, and we just--we, we struggled to get, get on with enough stamps--(laughs)--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --'cause that car was using a lot of gasoline at the time--(laughter)--and oil, too.

BIRDWHISTELL: That was the car that Mrs. Ford had driven, first driven ----------(??)--

FORD: --yeah, yeah, oh, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Fort Hood, yeah.

FORD: Yeah, that was--she had--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that her father had come in.

FORD: Yeah, it was a joy. He--yeah, he, uh, drove it down there to us, and 00:24:00then, uh, uh, his son had, uh, emergency surgery, and he got on a train then--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and went back. He's an old L&N fella.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And he thought the train was the only way to travel--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --and it probably was, at that time.

BIRDWHISTELL: I guess that, uh, farm experience came in handy, putting that gas tank--

FORD: --(laughs)--yeah, it did!

BIRDWHISTELL: 'Cause you're always putting something together with baling wire, aren't ya, at the farm? (laughs)

FORD: Yeah, at--well, you'd make cars and trucks run, and wagon wheels stay together with baling wire. Yeah, baling wire was probably the most important thing on the farm back in those days.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. So, uh, you got back home. You hadn't been to Owensboro in how long when you got back home? Probably a year?

FORD: Yeah, but a good year.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: At least a year.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you get back home, and--

FORD: --we--

BIRDWHISTELL: --try to get settled back in, I guess.

FORD: Yeah, I went to work with my father in the insurance business. I t-- I went under the GI Bill. And, uh, we called that on-the-job training.

00:25:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, I think my salary at that time was fifty dollars a week.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And Ms. Ford went to work at the County Court Clerk's Office. And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --did you move back in with your, uh--

FORD: --no, we moved in--

BIRDWHISTELL: --parents?

FORD: --a little apartment, garage apartment behind her grandfather Gene's, uh, grandfather's and grandmother's place on Allen Street here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, it was kind of a living area, a bedroom, and a kitchen, and a bath, up over a three-car garage, and we lived there for a good little while.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm.

FORD: And, uh, Jean--when I would, uh, walk to work, which was just a few blocks away, and she would, too, and so it was, uh, very convenient, and the rent was reasonable. (laughter) And so it, uh-- And then we, uh-- I refereed 00:26:00basketball games at the YMCA Commercial League we had then. That was awful. That, that was--that was a real experience.

BIRDWHISTELL: I'll bet.

FORD: I got two dollars a ballgame. I make six dollars a night. And we'd put that away. And finally we, uh, got on the list over at Holder Motor Company to, uh, uh, get a car. And they, they, they were--they were about as fair with it as you could be. Everybody--you had to put down fifty dollars, and, uh, uh, I did--I got a tractor before I went in, and--but this was on a car. And you put down fifty dollars, they put your, uh, name up on the board, and as the cars came in you either bought it or you didn't. If you didn't buy--if you bought it, or if you didn't buy it, they'd draw a name-- If you didn't buy it, they'd give you fifty dollars back--

BIRDWHISTELL: --hmm.

FORD: --and sell it to the next one. And so I bought me a, a '49 Ford 00:27:00two-door, I think it was. Pretty interesting car. It was--I think it cost me somewhere between eighteen, nineteen hundred dollars. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow. And you were glad to have it.

FORD: Um-hm!

BIRDWHISTELL: Glad to have it. Um, so you went into--you were working with your father--

FORD: --yes, sir.

BIRDWHISTELL: --in the--in the insurance agency. Now, were you, uh, were you out try-- selling insurance at that point?

FORD: Yes. Absolutely, absolutely.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mainly here in town?

FORD: Um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: Was it hard to sell insurance after the war, or was--? Because families were back together, was it a little easier?

FORD: Well, we didn't sell life or health insurance, as--

BIRDWHISTELL: --oh.

FORD: It was, uh, on--residential and automobile and that sort of thing.

BIRDWHISTELL: I see, property insurance.

FORD: Property insurance.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: And, uh, the, uh-- You know, insurance--you know, you sell a five dollar--it was five dollars for a thousand dollars--let's see, what was it--five 00:28:00dollars a thousand for contents of a house--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --fire and extended coverage--and extended coverage is wind and rain, all that good stuff, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And, uh, I'd make a dollar every five dollars. And, of course, that, that--I made the dollar, but you had--there was the expe-- the, uh, the expense of the office had to come out of that, too, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: So it was, uh, pretty interesting, uh, what we, uh, what we did.

BIRDWHISTELL: You never considered going back to JC Penné did you? (laughter)

FORD: No, no sh-- uh, uh, didn't--I didn't, and Jean didn't, either.

BIRDWHISTELL: Because you'd been--you'd been successful ----------(??).

FORD: --well, it worked out pretty well. I was promoted, as I think I told you last time. I was promoted to head of the, uh, work clothes department, and made pretty good money, because they give you a quota to sell. Anything over that, you got a percentage of it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Always liked to be in the shoe department around Easter--

00:29:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: --uh, 'cause women bought an awful lot of shoes, you know, dressing up for Easter.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And, uh, the shoe department was an awful good place to work because you, you made pretty good money. And, uh, if they were busy in the shoe department, my work clothes department was right next to the shoes, and so they would say, "Come over here, we need some help," and so I'd go over and sell shoes, and, uh, it helped me make my quota for the month and go over it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And so it was, uh, right interesting.

BIRDWHISTELL: When, when you came back and worked with your father in insurance, was it just you and, uh, your father?

FORD: Yes, uh-huh. And, uh, one lady, Ms. Cardin (??).

BIRDWHISTELL: She'd work the office?

FORD: She worked the office, and Dad and I did, uh-- She was, uh, inside, and Dad and I were outside.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. And what was it like working with your father? You--did you all get along pretty well?

FORD: We got along very well. Dad was, uh, uh, uh, pretty strict. He'd give me directions, and if I didn't follow 'em, he would, uh, uh, badmouth me pretty 00:30:00good. --(Birdwhistell laughs)-- But, uh, uh, he, uh, he trusted me, uh, completely--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh, uh-huh.

FORD: --because, uh, when we'd check up at night by--and he wasn't there, then I, I, I was responsible for all the money.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And Dad and I never had any misunderstanding in any way, except that, uh, he wanted me to do my job, and I think that, uh, uh, he was absolutely right. If I was gonna earn fifty dollars a week, I ought to work hard at it, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: You knew about hard work before you got to the insurance agency.

FORD: You--the farm and the military, you--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --you understand, uh, labor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. Um, so when did you decide to leave for Maryland to do the insurance school up there?

FORD: Oh, Terry, I don't know. We, uh, represented the Maryland for a long time, Maryland Casualty Company.

00:31:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And I think that we took them on in 19--our dad did--in 1937. And they were the main company in our office. We had--

BIRDWHISTELL: --OK.

FORD: --a lot of other companies, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --I'd say they were the main one as it related to automobiles and casualty and liability of various and sundry kinds. And, uh--(clears throat)--they had this school that was six weeks. And, uh, they would take every facet of the insurance industry, and we spent so much time on it, and then you would have a test after that. It was a schooling. And they gave you, uh, homework.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: It was, uh--it was, uh-- In my judgment, it was as good at that time as you could ask for.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

00:32:00

FORD: And, uh, and we had, uh, their best minds in the company, uh, teaching us. And they would give us, uh-- After they got through it, they would give us a business hypothetical, and, uh, what they needed, and we would go--we would make the pitch--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --on paper--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --as to what we would try to sell and what would be in their best interest, and how we would rate 'em, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --how we would write it. It was, uh-- And then they found rooms for us.

BIRDWHISTELL: Where was it located?

FORD: In Baltimore, Maryland.

BIRDWHISTELL: In Baltimore.

FORD: Yeah. And, uh, they found rooms for us. That's the first time I, uh, knew what a row house was--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --because the people who worked for the company were the ones that, uh, offered, uh, rooms for the--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh, students that were coming in. And I don't remember this couple's name, but, uh, they were always wanting to talk with me because I sound different.

00:33:00

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And, uh, the statements I would make would be natural or normal down here, they wouldn't catch it, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: So, uh--but anyhow, I enjoyed it. And then, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --did Mrs. Ford go with you?

FORD: No, unh-uh. She and Dad came up for the graduation. They had a nice little banquet and a graduation, got a certificate, and all that. And they came up and, uh, uh, two--for that, and, uh, then we, uh, uh, drove back together. Dad went--had, uh, an examination at John Ho-- Johns Hopkins, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --oh, really?

FORD: --made that go into, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh-- Yeah, he, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --was he having health problems at that point?

FORD: Had some health problems. He--it--his prostate, if we get into all that. (laughs) I don't want-- But finally had it removed, and we took him to Orlando, Florida.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: Uh, the president of the company was a good friend of Dr. Orr (??) there--

00:34:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --who was the, uh-- He had what they call the gold treatment.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: If they found it was cancer, a certain treatment. And so we wanted Daddy to go there. And he went down, had major surgery, and, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --hm.

FORD: --came out very well. So he tied in that trip--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --to, uh, Johns Hopkins, and then his association with this insurance company in Orlando, American Fire and Casualty Company, and, uh, the president was very close to this doctor and had basically the same surgery, and he recommended it to Daddy. He came up here--he was visiting agents around the country, and we were one of their better ones, he said. So we, we accepted that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm, that's good.

FORD: And so he came and, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --talked Dad into coming down, being examined, and having surgery. So it--

BIRDWHISTELL: And that worked--?

FORD: Worked out fine.

BIRDWHISTELL: Good.

FORD: Worked out fine.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you use your GI Bill to--for the Maryland school, or did the 00:35:00company bring their agents in?

FORD: We paid for it, uh, personally, didn't use GI Bill.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you never did use your GI Bill?

FORD: The only thing I did was--under the GI Bill was the, uh, on-the-job training went for so many weeks--

BIRDWHISTELL: --I see--

FORD: --in the beginning.

BIRDWHISTELL: OK, yeah, all right.

FORD: They paid--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's what you said earlier--

FORD: --yeah, they paid--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah--

FORD: --a little bit--

BIRDWHISTELL: --huh.

FORD: --they paid more, and as you, uh, uh, uh--I forget how many weeks, and, uh, the, uh, VA would come by unannounced to see what you were doing--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and you had to fill out a report every week, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --send that in on what your activities had been. They'd come by and check on you, and it was, uh--it was a program that I think fifty dollars was--a week was my--they paid maybe thirty of it in the beginning, and Dad paid twenty, and then as it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --sort of gradually.

FORD: --sort of gradually while the company, uh, increased into a point where my weeks--so many weeks. I, I'm not sure, but what--sixteen weeks keep, uh--

00:36:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: I wasn't--I'm not as familiar with that part of the program.

FORD: Yeah, it was go-- it basically--

BIRDWHISTELL: --it makes sense.

FORD: --yeah, on-job training--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah, it makes sense.

FORD: --and so you didn't--you didn't go to college--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --under the GI Bill, but you--this was on-job training. And some of that's today, uh, Terry. A lot of companies, if you, uh, pass their company test--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and got a high school diploma, they want to train you themselves--

BIRDWHISTELL: --oh, yeah.

FORD: --in, in how their company works.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And so, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right. Uh, you hear about businesses who say--tell schools, "You give 'em a basic education, we'll train 'em." (laughs)

FORD: Yeah, that's right.

BIRDWHISTELL: "You can't train 'em to do this the way we want 'em to do it."

FORD: Well, at Vermont, I think, uh, Pat Leahy was talking, a Senator from up there--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --that their state--their high school graduates weren't passing IBM's entrance test.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, they had to, uh--what's the word? Uh, retrain--or go back--

00:37:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: --and ha-- and, and study some more.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And so the school board, uh, initiated the IBM test--

BIRDWHISTELL: --hm, to make sure they could--

FORD: --make, make sure that they could--

BIRDWHISTELL: --makes sense.

FORD: 'Cause they're a big employer, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, makes sense.

FORD: I, I reckon it did, but anyhow--

BIRDWHISTELL: Did, uh, did you and Mrs. Ford ever talk about the possibility of going back up to Lexington after the war, or did you just decide that wasn't something you wanted to do?

FORD: (clears throat) Oh, had a choice to make then.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And, uh, I wasn't, uh, uh--it wasn't, uh, uh, as much a necessity then--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's right.

FORD: --to have a college degree as it is today.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: College degree today is about as necessary as a high school--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --high school diploma when I was growing up.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, course, being married, wanting to make money and settle down, and 00:38:00Dad's business--and it was growing, and we were working hard, and, uh, prospects of, uh, maybe, uh, things doing--going well were, uh, there in front of me, so we just d-decided that, uh, as long as--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh, things worked out, she would work, and I would work, and we'd just see what happened. And so, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --and, uh--

FORD: --it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --you made good decisions.

FORD: Well, it, it worked out all right. Uh, not everybody's decision, or--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --every decision I made's worked out that well.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) But that was one.

FORD: That was one, and, uh, it was the most important one.

BIRDWHISTELL: It was.

FORD: 'Cause we did well, and uh, we expanded, and, uh, we moved from-- Dad started out in insur-- had the largest insurance agency in west Kentucky, and during the Depression sold.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: Went to work for two hundred dollars a month. It was--people--you know, fifty dollars a week Dad made when I was growing up, and then I made fifty dollars a week when I started working. So time--

00:39:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --as far as income wasn't too much different between the two of us, but he had a family to raise at fifty dollars a week.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And so then he had--he agreed to stay out of the business for X number of years--five, I think--but he liked it. And my mother's father died and left her a little money, and, uh, not a great deal. But, uh, she gave that to Dad to start back into business.

BIRDWHISTELL: Seed money sort of--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --for the-- Um-hm.

FORD: And so he had one young lady that, uh, uh, worked for him, and, uh, had just, uh, one room in a storage closet. And, uh, that--he started back in the business, and it was a struggle.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And we--and we lived on the farm, and Dad had to get the farm started in the morning before he came to work in town--(laughter)--then come back at night 00:40:00to be sure I hadn't screwed everything up after he left. So, um--

BIRDWHISTELL: Ah, that's a-- That's a-- Who was, uh--here in Owensboro, who would've been your largest competitors in the insurance business in the late forties and early fifties?

FORD: Oh, J.C. Rudd, Son & Company.

BIRDWHISTELL: J.C. Rudd, Son & Company--

FORD: --Son & Company--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --was, uh, uh, the biggest competitor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Uh, and they were--Dad went into business, first office right up the street from them.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And they had an individual by the name of Earl Felix that was probably, uh, one of the best analytical minds, I guess, maybe--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --I don't--that--about insurance, the coverages and new things. He was just, uh-- He would study all the time. And, uh, he was, uh--more so than anybody else in town. I guess that's the reason he was the biggest. But they were the biggest.

BIRDWHISTELL: So they were bigger than you are.

FORD: Oh, Lord, yes. But ultimately we bought 'em.

00:41:00

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Proof's in the pudding.

FORD: We, we, we pur-- we purchased the agency.

BIRDWHISTELL: What year did you purchase their agency? You know?

FORD: (coughs) I don't know what it was, but, uh-- I--I have to find-- But, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --it was some years later.

FORD: But yeah, twel-- oh, just twelve, fifteen years ago.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, really?

FORD: It--oh, it hadn't been too long.

BIRDWHISTELL: Isn't that interesting.

FORD: And, uh, so we've bought 'em, and their staff, most of 'em, moved in with us--

BIRDWHISTELL: --hm.

FORD: --and, uh, it, it worked out pretty well. And I got into trouble over it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --wow.

FORD: --politically.

BIRDWHISTELL: Let me turn this over.

FORD: Let me go--

(break in audio)

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh, when we stopped the last side, talking about, uh, buying that insurance agency, and you said it was a, a big problem, or turned out to be a problem?

00:42:00

FORD: Oh, uh, they sh-- had pictures in--had a full-page ad of us, uh, buying 'em, or combining 'em, and had pictures of those had been in the business. That was Dad--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh.

FORD: --and me, and my brother--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --and my son, and my brother's sons in the business, you know, had this picture, family.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: Well, the Republicans charged that was advertisement, and, uh, uh, uh, filed a complaint against me, uh, and, uh--with the, uh, uh, Committee on Ethics in, uh, Washington, because that was, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --promotion--

FORD: --promotion. I was being promoted.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: Uh, so forth. But then, uh, they turned it down, but it was--it--you know, you got to hire a lawyer to file papers and all that kind of stuff, and it was--it just got to be--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's crazy.

FORD: So it's, uh, it's-- You know, you have-- A lot of times when you don't 00:43:00say anything, don't do anything, uh, you're better off, but if you don't say anything, don't do anything, you don't get reelected. So I don't know which is the best way to go.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's crazy. Where exactly was your office right a-- when you first joined, back with your father?

FORD: It was, uh, on Third Street. Uh, there's a parking lot there now. Uh, it was, uh, right next to--it was the old Claire Hur (??) building, and, uh, it was next to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer--

BIRDWHISTELL: --OK.

FORD: --on Third Street, between the Allen and Davis Streets.

BIRDWHISTELL: OK, all right.

FORD: And that was where I started. It was two rooms.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: We had two rooms in there. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: When did you move from there?

FORD: Uh, we moved-- I don't know what the years are, Terry, but anyhow, we moved from there to over on Frederica Street. And it used to be the Owensboro 00:44:00Federal Savings and Loan. Owensboro Federal Savings and Loan? I believe that's right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: But anyhow, they build a new building. And, uh, we leased one side of it, and there was a driveway between the two, two buildings, a roof over it, and a drive through it. And they had the--uh, the window, drive-in window--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --for the savings and loan. So we leased that from 'em, and we were the only insurance agency around--(laughter)--that had drive-in window, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you use it?

FORD: Oh, yes.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Yeah. Instead of stopping and parking and coming in and paying their bills--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh.

FORD: --back then they would come to the office and pay the bill--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh.

FORD: --or pay five dollars a week on it, or ten dollars a week, whatever. But they'd come by, and you'd slide the little drawer out there, and they'd drop it in, and thank 'em, and they'd drive right off.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: It was-- It was the only insurance agency with a drive-in window.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's great.

00:45:00

FORD: And so then we bought the building across the street and, and made an addition to it. And then, uh, uh, we outgrew that. And, uh, uh, so, uh, the building where we are now is a, is a old Tudor house, I think they call it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. I know right where that is.

FORD: And so we put two stories on the back of it that you can't see it. It still looks--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --just like a house, but there's two stories back behind it. And, uh, got--and we bought the land where we--where the largest sassafras tree in the world is supposed to be, by Guinness Book of Records.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And so we own that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And University of Kentucky comes down periodically and checks the tree, and see if it needs any f-- s-- if it got any worms or bugs or--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --whatever, and they fertilize it. And the--we have a lightning rod on it--

00:46:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --oh.

FORD: --so, so lightning won't destroy the tree.

BIRDWHISTELL: Huh. I'll have to look at that tree sometime.

FORD: The lightning rod is--I'm not sure that it's right now, whether it's-- They wanted to put a new one on it, and I think it was about two thousand dollars--(laughs)--or something like that for a special antenna, and I'm not sure the agency wanted to put that much money into it, but to save that historical tree we ought to do it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: But anyhow-- And their limbs fall off every once in a while. And, uh, we save the wood. And, uh, Mr. Robert Reed, a representative here, lived to be over a hundred. I was at his hundredth birthday, and, uh, gave him a book to read on his hundredth birthday.

BIRDWHISTELL: Huh.

FORD: He's just as alert as he could be. But anyhow, he was--he liked to fool with wood and make things out of it. He'd make gavels out of wood.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And so he made us some clocks out of the sassafras tree wood. And then 00:47:00we've used that, uh-- I've got a knife that, uh, uh, hardhat people do here in town.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: And, uh, the wood on the handle is from the sassafras tree.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

FORD: Uh-huh.

BIRDWHISTELL: Look at that.

FORD: That's, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm, that's nice. And, of course, your, uh, series you're doing at, uh, at your government education center is called the sassafras--

FORD: Well, I don't know. I guess they took it from the tree.

BIRDWHISTELL: They did. They did. OK.

FORD: Well, and I didn't--I didn't suggest it to 'em.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: I guess, uh, Ed and, uh, them did, but anyhow.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Uh, so, uh, so you and your dad worked hard at this business, and it grew. Uh, and you, uh, you and Mrs. Ford, I guess, bought a house, and--

FORD: Well, we--(clears throat)--we bought a, a house down on Twelfth Street.

00:48:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Twelfth Street.

FORD: Thirteen-thirteen West Twelfth Street. And, uh, I think we paid five or six thousand dollars for it, sold it for nine--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --later on, and lived there for--our first child was born there, Shirley.

BIRDWHISTELL: She was born what year?

FORD: Nineteen fifty.

BIRDWHISTELL: Nineteen fifty.

FORD: Um-hm. And all her friends just had a big party here. (laughs) It's their fiftieth anniversary. About--I think they had about eight hundred people there--

BIRDWHISTELL: --is that right?

FORD: --and they had I don't know how many couples that, that turned fifty in, in this year, and so--

BIRDWHISTELL: --I turn fifty in three weeks.

FORD: Oh my goodness.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: But anyhow, she--they all had a big party, fifty years old.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: So, uh, then, uh, there was a lot out on Maple Avenue that, uh, we were looking at. And it belonged to Dr. Kaufman.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And Dr. Kaufman had his garden on it. And, uh, there was a house in 00:49:00between. And Dr. Kauf-- a lot of people had talked to Dr. Kaufman, and he wouldn't sell it, didn't want to sell it, and just liked to have his garden, putt around in, didn't need the money. And, uh, so, uh, Dad went over and sat down on the front porch with Dr. Kaufman when--late one afternoon, and, uh, told him that he would like to buy that lot, or I would, that he wanted to help his son, and went through all that, and said he'd be willing to pay, you know--he wouldn't want to pay an exorbitant price, but willing to pay for the lot. So he made Daddy--he said, "Well, under those circumstances, Ernest, I'm gonna let you have it--"

BIRDWHISTELL: --huh.

FORD: "--for so much money." So, uh, Dad, uh, agreed, and they shook hands. He came back and told me what, what had transpired, and then we built our first 00:50:00home there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: We, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: And that's on Maple Avenue?

FORD: That's--yeah, it's the corner of Maple and St. Elizabeth Street. And it's, it's just right up the street, down from where we have EM Ford & Company.

BIRDWHISTELL: OK.

FORD: And it's, uh, uh-- And we, uh-- I guess I don't know what you would call it, but anyhow, we--the first floor and second floor. The second floor we just kinda--we put the plumbing in and all that kind of stuff, and we knew what we wanted to do, uh, in the future.

BIRDWHISTELL: Just roughed it in.

FORD: Yeah, roughed it in. That's, that's the word. We roughed it in, and, uh, so, uh, after a while we, uh, uh, fixed upstairs, put two bedrooms and a bath and two big walk-in closets, kind of a dormer type feel.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

FORD: And so--and we made the downstairs into a bedroom, and, and one bedroom 00:51:00and a den and a bath, so, uh, it, uh, worked out very well.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm. When, uh--

FORD: --and then her, uh, mother and father moved into it. When, uh, we went to, uh, Frankfort and--as Lieutenant Governor--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --the, uh, children wanted to stay here and, uh, graduate. Shirley wanted to graduate from high school here--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: --instead of leaving in December and going up to another school just for six months.

BIRDWHISTELL: Sure.

FORD: And Steve wanted to, uh, graduate from junior high. And so Jean's mother and father moved into our place, and kept the ch-- kids from December 'til May. And, uh, then they never moved.

BIRDWHISTELL: How--

FORD: --they, they stayed there--

BIRDWHISTELL: --is that right?

FORD: --and finally bought--they sold their place over on--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --Allen Street, and then bought that from us. The--Dad always said it 00:52:00was, uh--the price was so good, he couldn't turn it down. (laughter) And so while I was in office, they bought that. While I was in the office of Governor this house that we live in now became available, and we bought that fully expecting to move back here after my term as a governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, where is that?

FORD: It's on, uh, Fieldcrest, 2017 Fieldcrest.

BIRDWHISTELL: Twenty-seventeen Fieldcrest.

FORD: Um-hm. And, uh, it's not plush, but it's comfortable--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --and all on one floor, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's nice.

FORD: --Jean likes that. Uh, of course, there is an attic, and you store a lot of stuff up there--(laughter)--big attic, huge attic.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah, I need to help you with that attic.

FORD: Yeah, you got to help me. And I've gone through some of the stuff, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --good.

FORD: --Terry. Then, uh, things that pertain to--the plaques and so forth that pertain to the governor, lieutenant governor, I've separated those, the JC plaques--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --you know, just--

00:53:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, good.

FORD: And so maybe we'll get something--

BIRDWHISTELL: --we'll talk about those, yeah.

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: In one of your, uh, earlier interviews, you mentioned that your father wrote to you once a week.

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: And you still have those letters, if you--

FORD: --I'm not sure I do. I have--I, I--

BIRDWHISTELL: --six years ago you thought you had 'em.

FORD: I thought I have 'em, but I hadn't looked for 'em. There's a lot of things we're finding.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, the--I want to just--I wanted to make a--I, I made a mental note to tell you--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --that those are real important.

FORD: They're the long hand.

BIRDWHISTELL: They're real important.

FORD: Yeah, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Those-- So anytime you run across those kind of things--

FORD: --and I've got a letter from my mother--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --that was written to Jean and I--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh.

FORD: --that, uh, never was mailed.

BIRDWHISTELL: Really?

FORD: Yeah. She wrote it on a Thursday or Friday night, and had a heart attack, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --oh, goodness.

FORD: --while she was having the, uh, Homemakers.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Mother loved Homemakers.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: Uh, maybe I told you this story. And then they were--she had 'em in town. They all came in, and she got this, uh, bad pain--

00:54:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and she had--she just kept going.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: She didn't want to-- And all the women were there, and Mother just--that's the way she was.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh. You hadn't told me that story.

FORD: And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --well--

FORD: --she ma-made a--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --made-- I made a--I made a awful bad mistake--

BIRDWHISTELL: --why?

FORD: --in that, uh-- She wanted to, uh, tell me how she wanted some of her personal things divided--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and, uh, I couldn't go in and sit down where she was in an oxygen tent--

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: --and I couldn't go in there, and just couldn't go in and let her--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --tell me what she wanted--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --done--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and I regretted it all my life, because, uh, it, i-it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --made some folks give up some things without saying things that--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --Mother would have taken care of by--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --telling me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Those are hard things to do.

FORD: Yeah.

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

FORD: It was a--it was a tough, tough-- And, you know, I go back--I regret I 00:55:00didn't, but at the time I just couldn't, couldn't--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah, you have to--

FORD: --force myself to do it.

BIRDWHISTELL: No. What year was that, senator?

FORD: Oh, let's see-- That was 1960--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --or '61.

BIRDWHISTELL: Sixty or '61.

FORD: Um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah, those are tough. Those are tough. Uh, but as you run across those, uh, types of letters and things, uh, even if the family would want to keep them, we could make copies of those--

FORD: --yeah, well--

BIRDWHISTELL: --because I keep bringing up your biography, not to, uh, as I say, aggravate you, but your--you know, your biography will, will benefit from that kind of information.

FORD: I'll see what I can do.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um--

FORD: --uh, Jean's fussing at me, uh, Terry, about--(clears throat)--going to the attic.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: There's two things--(laughter)--she fusses about me about is, is the attic and, and, and, uh, uh, we don't have a place to, uh, to be buried.

00:56:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, OK.

FORD: And I--it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah, yeah.

FORD: --I don't know-- We go out there, and they want to sell you everything but the grave lot, you know. They wanted--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --you know, sixty thousand dollars was the last one they offered us out there, and all that kind of stuff. Well, I'd rather give the money to my kids, you know--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --than do that.

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand.

FORD: So it-- They charge-- You know, they find out it's me--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --the price goes up.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And so it's--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --it's not anything unusual.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: But--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right, --------(??)--

FORD: --anyhow, they--they're bound to be there somewhere.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, anytime I can help you with that, you--

FORD: --yeah, I'm not gonna--

BIRDWHISTELL: --you let me know.

FORD: I'm not gonna--(laughs)--put you in my attic--

BIRDWHISTELL: --well--

FORD: --that's for sure. I don't think Jean would let you go to the attic.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Hell, I'll, I'll--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --take all the help I can get.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, if you find it-- I don't--we won't want to be secret about this, but if Mrs. Ford ever goes somewhere, you call me, we'll get in the attic. (laughter)

FORD: OK.

BIRDWHISTELL: I'll help you get that stuff out of there. That's, uh--

FORD: (coughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, uh-- I know you don't like these kind of questions, but 00:57:00I'm gonna ask it anyway.

FORD: OK.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh, you know, you get back to Owensboro. You, you don't know that, at that point--'cause I've heard you say this before--I mean, you don't know what's down the road. You know you're gonna come back, work hard, start a family, live in Owensboro. You don't know you're going to be Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Senator, the second most powerful Member of the United States Senate. What, what's going through your mind as you're going to work in the late forties, early fifties, you're starting a family? What, what kind of goals do you have? Can you remember what, what you wanted to do at that point?

FORD: I don't think I-- All I wanted to do was do good at what I was doing.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Uh, that may sound like white hat, Terry--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --but, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --well, it makes sense.

FORD: That, that's what I wanted to do.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, uh, it was a struggle. And, uh, this referee in the basketball 00:58:00games, you know, that wasn't easy. It was on a concrete floor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: My feet hurt plum up to my head--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --after three ballgames, you know--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --two or three nights a week. But then I took my test, and I became, uh, uh, an official referee. And I refereed a lot of basketball games. And we went from ten dollars a game to fifteen.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Oh, I was really in high cotton.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: We'd drive to Fordsville and get ten dollars, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, that was good money. And that money went into getting us a home, and doing things that we needed to do. And we save, and Jean--we tried to put her salary away and live on what I made. Got a little tough at times.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And when we went to buy our house--(laughs)--we, we, we were in, in trouble--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --because we had paid--we'd saved money, and everything we bought, we had enough money to pay for it.

00:59:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: Well, we didn't have any credit record.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, yeah, yeah.

FORD: You go in and buy a refrigerator and you pay for it, you don't go in and charge it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: So I--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(coughs)--

FORD: --we went around town after that and charged everything. We didn't pay--we paid for it. So we charged things and then paid it off.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Then they came in behind, "Oh, yeah, he, he charged it on March the tenth and paid for it on April first. He's good, you know."

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) He's good.

FORD: So, uh, had to do--the--so we did that. So my, my mind was on doing good, building the business, and improving life for us, and, uh--which I think Jean's was, too. And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --did she quit her job after, uh, after Shirley was born?

FORD: Oh yes, uh-huh.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, she, uh, went back. They, they typed all of the license receipts back then, and it was a tough nine--ninety days for the--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --County Court Clerk--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and so they always ask her to come back and work, 'cause Jean was-- 01:00:00Well, she's a pretty good worker.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: She, she worked hard.

BIRDWHISTELL: That'd be January through March, probably--

FORD: --yeah, uh-huh, so--

BIRDWHISTELL: --back when the license ----------(??)--

FORD: --yeah, and, uh, and, uh, she would--they would--maybe then--I think she kinda said, "Well, I'll come when it gets a little bit tougher." Well, she didn't do anything in January. She went February March, and then pretty soon she just, with the kids and everything, she just didn't--you couldn't--it's hard to find babysitters that she would trust--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --and she didn't want to foist 'em off on her m-- parents every day.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: So it was, uh--we were doing well enough to--

BIRDWHISTELL: --and you were--by that time you were doing ----------(??)--

FORD: --doing lots of things, yeah, where I wasn't home.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh. Did you, uh-- Did you have an idea that, uh, in your business life you could make a lot of money, or were you just trying to s-- do the best you could?

FORD: I, I don't--I don't think, uh, making a lot of money-- I'm not sure what that means--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --or what that meant then, if anything. It was just doing better.

01:01:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And, uh, so uh, if you--this month you sold X number of policies, uh, next month you wanted to sell a, a policy at two more, you know? And, uh, we did an awful lot of, of, uh, bonding.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, really?

FORD: Uh, we were about the only agency in town that would bond-- I'm not sure, Terry, but, uh, a widow was taking a, a military--she was getting her payments, and they had to report on this money coming in from Vietnam--or, uh, World War II veteran.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And you had to put up a bond. Well, it--I think we finally worked it out where the company would put--would make the bond, and, uh, that way they wouldn't have to put up their money, and pay--I think maybe would--I don't know what the premium was, but it was small. But we would do that. And then we 01:02:00would get--we worked hard with contractors, and we worked hard with building con-- road contractors--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --building contractors, plumbing and heating.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: We worked with all those people, because it became, uh--they were--as they were growing--

BIRDWHISTELL: --and they were growing like crazy at that point (??)--

FORD: --yeah, and so we need--they needed something, and you had to have, uh, uh-- When was it incorporated? Back in those days you had to have the officers sign their assets, too, you know?

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: They didn't much want to do that, 'cause you incorporate for a reason; that you don't lose everything you have personally.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, right.

FORD: And so you had to do all that. And I traveled with a lot of, uh, contractors from here to, uh, Memphis, or to Macon, Georgia, one of 'em I remember, Macon, Georgia. Dad went down to Memphis, and Crumb, or Crump, was the big, uh, political fella there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Boss Crump, yeah.

FORD: Boss Crump.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And Dad had to go visit with him before--

01:03:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --is that right?

FORD: --'fore he could g-get cleared to--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--get business--

FORD: --to get the, get the bond. He signed the bond for contractor in Memphis, Tennessee.

BIRDWHISTELL: Ah.

FORD: And, uh, so the politic-- politics that Dad had, and, and Boss Crump, he--Dad ------(??) understood a little bit about the political talk, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And so-- And we, we worked awful hard at, uh, uh, uh, w-- the bonding business.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. Yeah, I heard a story this morning on the radio that, uh, the big move in insurance rate right now, Senator, is to ensure companies for liability against these computer viruses.

FORD: Well, it, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --because it's such a big problem for 'em.

FORD: Well, you--I don't know how they could stand it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --um, uh, Terry. Uh, this--they're talking about billions of losses--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --in, in this one virus--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --and it's just some fella playin', you know?

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And I don't understand all the viruses. I barely understand how it operates.

01:04:00

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: You push a button, you know. And, uh-- But, uh, yeah, I'd say that it is. But how can you afford to pay for it?

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. Right.

FORD: You know, you can almost stand the loss more than you can pay for the premium.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah, because the premium had to be so high, because the--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --insurance company's gonna take a ----------(??)--

FORD: --they take a bath (??) on these, like on this one.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: I don't know how many would be in the business, but, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --Lloyd's of London, for instance--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --is the type of company that would take these sort of things.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Interesting. Interesting. Owensboro-- You talked about Owensboro when you were growing up here in Davis County. When you come back from the service and you're getting involved in your work and your family--Owensboro's a nice place, isn't it?

FORD: No question about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: I mean, it felt good that--to live here, didn't it?

FORD: Everybody had their niche then. Uh, what I mean by that, Terry, is that 01:05:00if you want a commercial loan or something you go to a bank.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: If you want a residential loan, you go to a savings and loan.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: If you wanted insurance on your property, you go to a local agent, you know--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and you didn't get new policies by knocking a fellow agent; you got new policies because you gave 'em the best coverage. And so whatever--the field that--your chosen field, uh, you had an opportunity then to compete in that field. And now today, uh, the bank'll do everything, and savings loan will do everything. I remember the fight when savings loans--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --had--you could write checks--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --you know, write checks at a savings loan. That was unheard of, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Seemed weird, didn't it?

FORD: Yeah. But now, uh, banks have bought the savings and loans. And, uh, 01:06:00so--in--when you go into a business today, it's not, uh, a specialty. Uh, i-it's, it's, uh, a variety.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: You've got to know everything, you know, if you're going in that kind of b--- And in the insurance business today, it's health, it's life, it's financial services, it's commercial business, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: It--and you got to have computers as big as most anybody.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Why, the huge computer my son has now, it, it takes a double-car garage to handle it, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: So it's, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: It's, uh, times-- But it was--I don't know whether--they say I'd like to go back to the good ol' days. Well, I don't want to go back to the good ol' days when I grew up.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: About the only thing I think, maybe, I've told you that, uh, I'd like to see us do that we did when I was growing up: we never locked the back door.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And nobody ever came in the front door anyhow, you know.

01:07:00

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Always came in through the back door.

BIRDWHISTELL: You could've locked the front door, 'cause nobody was coming in that way (??). (laughs)

FORD: Yeah, well (??)! And--well, we had the little s-- room we called the mud room.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: You know, that's where you kick off your b-- mud boots and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --take off your overalls and hang 'em up out there, and so you won't be messing up the house.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: And so everybody kinda came through the mud room.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And, uh, and, and you didn't lock that door.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And, uh, John would come by and said, "Hey, Wendell. I was up to see you this morning. Wasn't anybody there, but I went in and got s-- got a ham sandwich off the B roll," you know, whatever.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And so it, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: It was-- And, uh, people that worked on the farm for you, the--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --so-called tenants--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: you furnish a house for 'em, and that sort of thing, and then they do the work, and you share in the income, and their families.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: It wasn't a-- It wasn't a bring 'em--uh, take a bus and bring 'em from 01:08:00town, you know, to work, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --take 'em back, and do all these sort of things. Or if you have a place you don't have to have a, uh-- Back then I guess it's similar. Now you have these migrant workers. You've got to have certain places for 'em to live, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --housing and sanitation, and all that. Back during our days, we furnished 'em a house.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: So it was basically the same, but it was more family-oriented.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Your tenant was a family.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, his family helped him raise the crop. Uh, and so it, uh-- That was--that was what I remembered.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. There was a lot of optimism here in Owensboro, wasn't there? About what this place could be?

FORD: Well, there's still optimism. I don't think that optimism has changed. We went through a ten-year dry spell, Terry, here that we hardly didn't get any business. We were kind of withering a little bit. And, uh, we were working hard, but we were just--we were coming in second.

01:09:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: When you come in second for new business, you don't get anything.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --kind of like Tubby Smith and his recruiting. (laughs)

FORD: Right. He seems to get 'em--he dropped another one yesterday, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: We're finishing second. (laughs)

FORD: Yeah. And so I don't know what's happening. And so it's something you got to think about.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: But--

BIRDWHISTELL: --so, uh--

FORD: --but it's, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: But Owensboro, uh, it was a substantial community in 1950, I mean, and it had--it had potential, and, and it is still a substantial community. I'm not saying it's not. But there was a lot of community, uh, spirit, and, and this is leading up to your JC years, because that's how you--

FORD: --yeah, well, after I got started, insurance business here for two or three--uh, two or three years, I wanted--I had, uh, a problem with my neck, underneath there, and, and what we call impetigo.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm.

FORD: And, uh, just before I got married. When my whiskers grew back, they grew in a circle. And all the time I was in the service I'd shave with a safety 01:10:00razor, but it always was bleeding. Somebody told me one time if I'd just get me an electric razor I wouldn't have that kind of trouble. So I always headed down to the store to get me--see--to look at electric razor. I'd had enough of it. And Paul Ganoway (??)--he was, uh--he put in radios in cars, and repaired radios and auto, so forth--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --asked me if I didn't want to go to JC's with him. Well, I didn't know what he was talking about.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And, uh, he told me. And, uh, so I called the office and told 'em where I was going. Instead of going after looking for the razor, I went to lunch with him. Well, there's fifty, sixty guys there about my age, you know, and everybody was struggling, and, and everybody was about the same. And hell, our lunch was a buck--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --and you couldn't hardly eat anywhere any better than that, over at Gabe's--

01:11:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --hmm.

FORD: --over on Frederica Street.

BIRDWHISTELL: Gabe's.

FORD: Yeah, right here. Old Gabe's, uh, Restaurant, steakhouse of the South.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And, uh, it was a fixture here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: Then he built--out--built Gabe's Restaurant out on, uh, Triplet Street and Eighteenth Street, and then built Gabe's Tower, and when--and it's--

BIRDWHISTELL: --OK.

FORD: --not there anymore.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: It's just about all gone. But anyhow--

BIRDWHISTELL: --so that was the restaurant that was on top of the tower?

FORD: Towers, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: OK.

FORD: That was one--that was one part of it, down on the gr--

BIRDWHISTELL: --I pointed the wrong way, excuse me. (laughs)

FORD: That's all right. Down on the--down on the-- He had a big restaurant--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --there, uh, uh, and a big basement.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: Oh, it, it was-- It was a fine place.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And it, uh, never did do very well after he died. But anyhow--

BIRDWHISTELL: --he hosted the JC lunch.

FORD: Lunch, uh, yeah. That was at his restaurant--

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm--

FORD: --every--

BIRDWHISTELL: --was he a JC?

FORD: Nah.

BIRDWHISTELL: He was older by that time.

FORD: Oh, yeah. He was just--he just had a good restaurant, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and ro-- and, and civic clubs would go there, and parties and banquets 01:12:00and stuff, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: And you haven't been involved in any civic clubs up to this point.

FORD: I had not.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh--

FORD: --so at, uh-- Oh, I liked it, and I think the membership was twelve dollars or something like that. And, uh, that's national, state, and local dues--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --twelve bucks.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And so, uh, I started out with them, and, uh, h-- I've hel-- held every office almost, I think, in the JC chain, from member to chairman to secretary, treasurer, vice president, president, state treasurer, state vice president, state president, national vice president, and then president, and then I was international vice president, and international treasurer. And Burt Combs asked 01:13:00me to be his youth chairman, if you can believe that now.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And, uh, I decided that I would, uh, do that, rather than run for international president, which would take me around--we had eighty-nine countries and territories--

BIRDWHISTELL: --wow.

FORD: --had members, and you would travel to most of 'em.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you ever regret not doing that?

FORD: No, I don't. No, I don't. I really--really don't.

BIRDWHISTELL: Being the national president was, uh--

FORD: --was, was ki--

BIRDWHISTELL: --was the big--

FORD: --utopia, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: That was it, wasn't it?

FORD: Yeah. That was utopia. And if there ever was a time that you, uh, was enticed to go somewhere, do something else, you, uh--that'd be a national president, 'cause you saw a lot--I was on the Board of Directors, US Chamber of Commerce, by the fact of being national president. I judged a Miss America pageant--

01:14:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --you did?

FORD: --because of being--oh, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: What year did you do that? Do you have any idea?

FORD: Nineteen fifty-six.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

FORD: Yeah. Marian McKnight from South Carolina.

BIRDWHISTELL: Up in--

FORD: --I picked her.

BIRDWHISTELL: --up in Atlantic City, right?

FORD: Um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: Nineteen fifty-six.

FORD: Um-hm. Yeah, they, they were goin' around. They had, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --Margaret Miller, the opera star, and she was supposed to check--be, be especially interested in her voice.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: Raoul Walsh was a Hollywood producer, and ----------(??) how they acted, and so forth, and went down through all that, and they got to me, and said, uh, "What we want you to do, Mr. Ford, is just look at, uh, these women through the eyes of a young man and pick what you like."

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And I thought that was, uh-- I qualified for that. And, uh, I picked the winner. And she had the Monroe Doctrine. Never will forget it.

BIRDWHISTELL: The Monroe Doctrine.

FORD: Yeah. And so she came out and she started quoting the Monroe Doctrine 01:15:00for about fifteen or twenty seconds, and then she went into the Marilyn Monroe Doctrine--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --and she got my attention. She was--she did a good job. And the crowd, uh, really enjoyed it. But--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh, could you believe you were sitting there judging a Miss America contest by that point in your life?

FORD: Uh, I couldn't believe anything back then that was going to happen to me.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: But anyhow, it, it-- See, the, the point--I, I, I'm, I'm sensitive, becau-- or the Ford Center down here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: I'm sensitive about what we're doing.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: But we--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --but the point we want to make is that here's a boy from Yellow Creek--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's right.

FORD: --in this system, has gone about as far uh, politically and, uh, civic-mindedly--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's right.

FORD: --as an individual could go.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: And, uh, it's--if you want to, there's that opportunity. You may not 01:16:00make it, but you have the opportunity.

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

FORD: It's like that old saying: in America, you have--you have the right to go broke.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: You know, and so, uh-- That's--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's the point.

FORD: If they just understand that--I hope Clay understands it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: I think he comes closer than any of the rest of 'em of understanding that there's an opportunity, if you'll work for it.

BIRDWHISTELL: He seems to sense it.

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: He seems to sense it.

FORD: And so, uh, the, uh, uh-- It's awful hard for me to try to brag on me--

BIRDWHISTELL: --I understand.

FORD: --which it appears to be, but the point is that you can, uh, uh--fellow'd milk thirty cows--(laughter)--a day by hand, you know, c-can learn to--that's where I learned to shake hands, you know. --(Birdwhistell laughs)-- And so, uh, it, uh, it's, uh-- It's hard. It's hard to do.

01:17:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: For me, anyhow. I'd-- You know, it's all right for somebody else to brag on me. That's, that's well and good.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: But to get up there and try to tell those kids that "Look what I did and you can do the same," it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --well, I think one of the values, Senator, is--of this, uh, process we're doing here is that it's not just laid out at a quick biographical thing, but it, it goes through with some detail in terms of your life, and how there are choices, and how there's luck.

FORD: How there's a lot of luck. I think--

BIRDWHISTELL: --there's hard work.

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: You know, and it's how you--it's how you conduct yourself.

FORD: Of course, you make luck.

BIRDWHISTELL: The harder you work, the luckier you get, right?

FORD: Yeah, yeah, um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: So, uh, that's what--that's what this is about. So the, uh--in regard to the JCs, as I mentioned to you before we started today, Bill McCann did the interview with you and went through in pretty, pretty good detail on 01:18:00your JC experience, in terms of, uh, your running for offices and the, the different projects you were involved in, for example here in Owensboro with the, with the municipal golf course--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --and the airport, I guess, and the--

FORD: --Sports Center.

BIRDWHISTELL: --Sports Center. I mean--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --what you all were doing, as most civic clubs do, is try to improve your community, right?

FORD: Yeah. But what--that was--the-- these are all volunteers now.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And the one thing we were losing in this country is volunteerism.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: There's still a lot of it going on, (sniffs) but when we nee-- we didn't have street signs.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: So we get together and we raise some money, and, uh, uh--to pay for the street signs. And sometimes you have to, uh, uh, uh, do 'em--put 'em up yourself.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Now the public demands it from the city and the county--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --because we go out on the county roads.

01:19:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: You know. And they're, they're all marked. And, uh, the, the municipal golf course: the City had no interest in it whatsoever at that time.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And we, uh, we'd lease the land, uh, we-- can you imagine old Ford out there at four o'clock in the morning disking up fairways, you know?

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And Texas Gas giving us the heavy equipment, and building the greens, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --sprig in the--

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

FORD: --sprig in the greens. Oh, yeah, that was--

BIRDWHISTELL: ------------(??). (laughs)

FORD: Yeah, that was-- That was somethin'. And, uh, and then have to run it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --for a couple years.

BIRDWHISTELL: 'Til the--yeah.

FORD: 'Til it, it proved itself. And then the City, you know, accepted it with no problem then, but it had--it was a going thing. You know, what if we kept it?

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: You know, maybe we'd men-- had a moneymaker all these years. But that was not the point.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's not the point, was it?

FORD: Unh-uh.

BIRDWHISTELL: So why is there--

FORD: --we--

BIRDWHISTELL: --less volunteerism today, Senator?

01:20:00

FORD: More money.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's good ------(??)

FORD: --and, and everybody's in a hurry. One of the things that we've lost, I think, is that we, we, we-- And, and I have nothing against any of the, the progress that's been made. But you have to set aside some time every day for what you do to make money, to make a living.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: For the material things in life. You have so much time left. You must, in my opinion, allocate some of that time to your family, and your church. You just got to do that. Then what you have left, whatever smidgeon of time you have left, that ought to be allocated to some project in the community. We see a lot of fine folks that are coaching soccer, little league baseball, uh, uh, or 01:21:00football, uh, things of that nature. They don't have enough help. One--y-you're tied down if you--once you accept that job, an individual is just tied down for the whole season.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And so they don't have an opportunity to participate with their family, unless they have a member of their family--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --on the soccer team, on the little league baseball team, or whatever.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: So we have to put a piece of that time there-- And that goes into the political arena, too, Terry. Back when I started, it was all volunteers.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: You--the only time you spent money was on a ad in the newspaper, or for cards, or matches, or emery boards, or something like that, to advertise at picnics and that sort of thing. The rest of the time everybody volunteered. Your precinct workers, they, th-they didn't-- You didn't have to pay them. 01:22:00They did it because they thought you would make a pretty good, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --officeholder. And now, today, you can't get close to the polls. It's five hundred feet, so you don't have a poll worker--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --like we had back then.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Goin' around--back in my day, we were looking for an office with two telephone lines to be able to borrow it after five o'clock.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: So you had two people calling to say, "Get out and vote for Ford," you know. Now, for thirty-five, forty thousand dollars, some outfit'll come in here and call everybody in town, you know. It's just all on tape. Uh, "We ask for you to listen to a tape of the candidate for blah, blah, blah," you know. And so the tape comes on. Well, some cat's sitting there just dialing the next number, you know, and getting minimum wage.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And so th-they'd take your money and go off. Some woman got on me awful bad one time. It wasn't my ad. Uh, she was in the bathtub and the telephone 01:23:00rang, and she got up and rushed out, wrapped a towel around her, got to the phone, and it was a dang political ad, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: Well, it wasn't mine, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --she was getting on me 'cause I was in politics--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--because she's--

FORD: --thought I had some-- But, uh, uh, it-- I mean, the organization, going door-to-door.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: You know, it's, uh, all new, uh, new ways. I thought-- (phone rings)

BIRDWHISTELL: Go ahead, we got to change the--

(break in audio)

BIRDWHISTELL: OK.

FORD: I got some pictures from Bob Strauss.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: His sixty-fifth birthday. You know, you know who Bob Strauss is.

BIRDWHISTELL: I know, I know who Bob Strauss is.

FORD: He said to us, he-- (coughs) So I got those yesterday, and I--that was one of the--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's nice. That's nice.

FORD: I t-- told Jean, I said I had--or made a list of the letters I wanted to write--

01:24:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh.

FORD: --and, uh, she said, "Well, how many of 'em did you get done?" I said, "I got the list done." (laughter) You know--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's a start.

FORD: Oh, yes! I got-- I wanted to write the superintendent, and I wanted to write the d-- uh, the sheriff, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --people like that for--

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

FORD: And I--but my, my staff members, you know, are, are--they're me, myself, and I.

BIRDWHISTELL: How come you don't have somebody to help you?

FORD: I had this little intern, but I was never here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And I never had an opportunity to train her like I do, you know, uh, the others, the--like Missy been with me for a, you know, a good many years, and then Helen Price before her. And they were about the only two secretaries I've ever really had--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --I mean real secretaries--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --that you trust. And Missy, uh, was, uh--uh, she just--she did all my income tax--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --she did all my, uh, checkbooks. She--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --hell, I trusted her--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and we had no--I never had a minute's worth of problem or nothin' ever wrong.

01:25:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And, uh, uh, even Missy--I've taken some medicine for my migraine headaches--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh.

FORD: --and it's pretty damned expensive, and she would have the form, and e-every so--about once every six months she'd fill out the form, send it in. (laughs) I'd get a check from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, you know--(laughter)--and I didn't know what the hell I was getting' 'em for. But she'd always take care of me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, it's important to have help like that.

FORD: And Missy--yeah, it got--it got to be a--what's the word? Platonic?

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: Uh, uh, and, uh, it may be a little too close sometimes, but, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: --not, not physically.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, I understand.

FORD: I was always careful about that. Never put your meat where you get your bread and butter.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: But, uh, uh, she, um--Missy-- And she's quit, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: She, she just--she went to work for the Justice Department, had a nice 01:26:00job over there. She said, uh, "I got, uh, uh, eight calls and four letters one day. That's, that's about the biggest, busiest day I had."

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: "And you sit there and look, and nothing to do. And finally, he wanted me to go get his shoes shined, and go get his laundry, and--"

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: "--do all that kind of stuff."

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: "And, uh, I just didn't think I was earning-- Taxpayers didn't--not sending money up there for that."

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: So she didn't like-- Then she went to work for Tom Daschle.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Well, To--uh, she didn't know anything about Mobridge or places like that--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right, right.

FORD: --in South Dakota, and she didn't know the people, and she was lost. She was doing a hell of a job, and they knew it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --but in Missy's own mind she wasn't doing the same kind of job for him she was for me.

BIRDWHISTELL: I think it was an adjustment for all your people.

FORD: Yeah. And so, uh, we had-- And, and they--and going to work for other senators.

01:27:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: It's been tough on 'em, because once they came to work, and th-- we understood each other, I never interfered.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: I'd tell 'em what I wanted and then that was it, and they'd give me their opinion, or whatever it might be. And so, uh, they may fuss and fume among themselves--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --but we never--I never had any with 'em too much. And if they did something wrong, I brought 'em in and told 'em about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: I didn't like it or whatever.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: But, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --they-- Uh, we got one with Lincoln, one with By (??), one with Schumer-- Mm, let's see-- One went with the, uh, National Automobile Dealers Association. Uh, these are all from here, too, Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And one went with, uh, National Truckers Association.

01:28:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Uh, one went with the Secretary of Defense and is now Executive Assistant to the Director of the National Guard Bureau. Uh, shoot.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm.

FORD: I can't think of the rest of 'em.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: One went to California.

BIRDWHISTELL: Where'd Paxton go? I can't--I lost track.

FORD: Bob? He's office manager for S-- uh, Senator Schumer.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right. That's right.

FORD: He's going back to school.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is he?

FORD: Got a good, uh, uh-- He and I-- He s-- he and I--he sat down with me one day, and he wrote a, a paper on the motor voter, and one of those days I was in Washington he came and we spent a half a day together, and, uh, wrote his paper, and I read it. I didn't know I really was that good, you know, so it made me feel good.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And--but he, he--

01:29:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --everyone tries to tell you you are.

FORD: He submitted the paper.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: He submitted the paper and got full scholarship.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

FORD: Uh-huh.

BIRDWHISTELL: Where is he going?

FORD: Georgetown.

BIRDWHISTELL: Really?

FORD: Um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: He's a good guy. I like him.

FORD: Uh, he was always m-- creating havoc, though.

BIRDWHISTELL: Why?

FORD: By the time we'd get settled in computers, he'd take a step further. (laughs) And the girls would raise hell, just learning this process, you know, just getting it where we could do it, you know, and he comes in with something new.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And when we allowed--we gave, uh, Senator's office so much money over the six years that he could use in computers, and he could spend it anywhere you want to, and that meant you could go downtown and buy it off a shelf. Well, Paxton went down and bought it off the shelf. And we, we had to wait, uh--the bids through the Senate, you know. Hell, the time we got 'em in place--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --they were twice removed, you know, and-- And so he was always on us, 01:30:00the head of it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Cutting edge.

FORD: Cutting edge. He, he was-- He was 'bout as good-- And he went a long time--he was with me in Washington 'fore he learned how to drive a car.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

FORD: Yeah. And he lived in this little apartment out there. There was folks in the basement call-- one of these basement apartments, ------------(??), but he was out in residential area. And they had a, uh, apartment up over their garage, and he, he said he elevated himself from the basement--(laughs)--over the garage. And he lived there for a good many years, and finally bought him a car.

BIRDWHISTELL: Really?

FORD: Finally bought him a car. And, uh, learned to drive, took--went to drivers' training school. And then he saved--he was saving his money pretty good. I paid Robert reasonably well, but he saved his money and made a down payment on a tow-- on a townhouse over near the cathedral.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, he still wasn't dating anybody.

01:31:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And how he ever got to this girl, I--no one knows, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And, uh, his father was right cute about it. She's Catholic and he's Methodist.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: And I said, uh, "Well--" She went down to--going down to meet the family, and I said, "Well, did you meet him?" Said, "Oh, yeah." Said, "We can tolerate mixed, uh, uh, marriages."

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Well, you know, that would sound to anybody like it's black and white--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's right.

FORD: --you know, but it was Catholic and Protestant, you know. And her mother was right upset because he was a Protestant.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. That's funny.

FORD: And, uh, they had this big wedding in New York, and they had this child. And it is--Bob is absolutely working his butt off.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: He does everything for that child.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.

FORD: And for her--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --for his wife.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: It's, it's right, right interesting.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's a good story.

FORD: Oh, he-- But he's something else. I just love him like a son.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. I enjoyed working with him. That's who I worked with 01:32:00during that transition of your papers and everything.

FORD: He, he worked awful hard.

BIRDWHISTELL: He sure did. I forgot to ask you: when, when you, uh, left the military, did you maintain any, uh-- Were you in the National Guard or ------------(??)--

FORD: --oh yeah, I was in the National-- I came back, and we helped organize the National Guard. We had--(laughs)--the Two-oh-first Engineers was organized here. Uh, uh uh, veterinarian was the only thing they could find with the rank--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --so a veterinarian was ar-- in charge of the engineers.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: So we sent the engineers out chasing cows over hills. But, uh, then Colonel Depp, uh, took it over, who was a highway contractor, and he was a full colonel, and took it over. And then, uh, Bill Hall, William Hall, uh, uh, went to some military ins-- school in Tennessee.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hargrave?

FORD: I don't know, but anyhow, it's, it's, uh, some military school. And--

01:33:00

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

FORD: --he, he was just military through and through--

BIRDWHISTELL: --hm.

FORD: --and, uh, served in Europe, and the Hedgerows, and all that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: Bill was just quite a fellow, and he came back here, married, uh-- Oh, Nancy. But anyhow--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Uh, and he took over as company commander here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, why did you get involved in the Guard?

FORD: Because of him, I think.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: It was, uh--I just got out, and-- And you got paid.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: Well, they paid you a little money, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: So y-- it was worth it. And, uh, so I--I was, uh, uh, first sergeant. And I took my correspondence course with Fort Benning, and, uh, he and Bobby Ferella (??), who stayed a long time--

01:34:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --never saw one minute of combat, and became a one-star general from starting here with us.

BIRDWHISTELL: Really?

FORD: And, uh, of course, we went to summer training camp. And I got my second lieutenant's bar from correspondence, and then took my test for promotion at Fort Campbell, in the back end of a six-by-six dump truck.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: They had the candidates--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --over top of it--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --and had a desk and a chair in there, a table and a chair, and said, "Crawl up there--"

BIRDWHISTELL: --hope it--

FORD: "--and take this test."

BIRDWHISTELL: I hope it wasn't the middle of the summer

FORD: It was.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) It was

hot (??).

FORD: It was pretty daggone hot. And I passed the test, and was, uh, uh, promoted at Fort, uh, Knox.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

FORD: Yeah, we went, uh-- We-- The--we went from the infantry to the tanks.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: I was, uh, company commander of the first company that had a--of a com-- 01:35:00of a--Bill went on up to battalion--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --our company, and I became company commander here. And that--we were the first company to get superior for summer training camp.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.

FORD: And I was, uh, real proud of that, but I had a good first sergeant, name of Wells.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: And he did--he knew--he was tough, but fair, and knew his military pretty well, and that was the reason we did it, not because I had anything to do with it.

BIRDWHISTELL: So y'all--you would--you'd had a--once a month you'd have to--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --do something here in--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --locally.

FORD: It was once a week then.

BIRDWHISTELL: Once a week?

FORD: Yeah, every Monday.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.

FORD: Yeah, we, we w-- we went once a week, every Monday night, when we fir-- when it first organized--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and now it's, uh, you go once a month and two, two weeks a year.

BIRDWHISTELL: And you did the two weeks in the summer.

FORD: Yeah, uh-huh. We, uh, went to, uh, Fort Knox every year, until the end 01:36:00of my term, I think, and we went to uh, Camp Breckinridge.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And most of it was cutting blackberry bushes.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

FORD: Yeah. It was trying to get the post back into some kind of, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: Really, our training was more-- We trained, but then we had to, uh, clean up the place, um--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --so it, so it could be usable for others. And then they turned it over to the Job Corps.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm. Your friend Otis Singletary had something to do with that.

FORD: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) He said to-- I saw him yesterday. He said to tell you hello, and--

FORD: Yeah, yeah, he--

BIRDWHISTELL: He really enjoyed his trip down here.

FORD: I hope so. It was-- Uh, I was disappointed in Noon (??). But we've got to do something about Noon--

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: --uh, because that's Rotary.

01:37:00

BIRDWHISTELL: You (??) compete--you got a--you got another date, it sounds like.

FORD: Yeah. And so what I'm thinking about is having to just, on Tuesday, just have the Noon today--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, that's right--

FORD: --and then tonight, and then it's over.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's what I'd do.

FORD: And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that'd be easier.

FORD: --that'd be one day--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --instead of being here, coming in, in that night, and then having to stay over 'til noon the next day, so you basically use two days. Well, Dean Little is in Frankfort today. He'd be through there, too. That's one o'clock our time.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And so then he's gonna drive on down and stay out at the--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --motel.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, that's good.

FORD: But we've got to do something about that. I was disappointed in that. He made his point. Everybody has a call sometime.

BIRDWHISTELL: He made great presentations.

FORD: Yeah, and a call--and when you call--his call was the Job Corps--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and it moved him out of his chosen profession.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And it was--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, um-hm.

01:38:00

FORD: The teachers, the teachers got it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, I think he--you know, he--

FORD: --'course, when you look at it, you had county and city officials. You had bankers here. You had some lawyers. You had education. You had the Hager Foundation. You had a good group of people.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, yeah.

FORD: But they already are good, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: You don't, you don't--the people you need to inspire uh, weren't there.

BIRDWHISTELL: What's that phrase? Preaching to the choir.

FORD: Yeah. Oh, yes.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, he enjoyed it, and, uh--

FORD: --well, I enjoyed--

BIRDWHISTELL: --you know, you're--

FORD: --I, I enjoyed listening to the Rupp stories.

BIRDWHISTELL: I, uh--

FORD: Course, Otis and I went through some little tough times there.

BIRDWHISTELL: You did, and we'll talk about that, I hope, and, uh-- Well, you know, Dr. Singletary doesn't talk very personally about very many people, but you're one on--you're on the list.

FORD: (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: You're on a short, short list.

FORD: Well, he's-- I went through the struggle with him for a football coach--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --and you know all that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

01:39:00

FORD: And he was doing the best he could. And, uh, it was, uh--and he had, uh--he had the Rupp problem, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --you know--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --and the campus problem, and he had the Happy Chandler problem. He had a Garvis Kincaid problem that I put on him, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: And he never--he never-- You know, I t-- I called and told him. You know, somebody made a commitment for me, you know, and they thought he had it for me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And so, uh, you do--you do what you had to do. But after two years I didn't put him back on.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: --------(??)-- I told, uh, Otis I was going to give him the shortest period I possibly could, you know. But I knew what Garvis wanted. He wanted--and he came after the little pieces of paper with all these figures on it. He didn't understand the inside, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, right.

FORD: No, it, uh-- So I had a reason to do it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, we'll, we'll get to that point.

FORD: Oh, Lord.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's some good stuff. That's some good stuff.

FORD: Yeah, it's good. (laughter) Lot of people like to get a hold of that.

01:40:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, yeah. Yeah, it's, uh-- But, I mean, it's, uh, it's about how things work in public life.

FORD: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: So how long were you in the National Guard?

FORD: Gosh, I don't know. Uh, I deactivated or whatever it was when I went to work for Combs, and they activated me--

BIRDWHISTELL: --uh-huh.

FORD: --so they'd have enough officers for camp, and then gave me, uh-- I was absent with leave, not AWOL.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: But, uh, absent with leave.

BIRDWHISTELL: AWL.

FORD: AWL. And, uh, 'cause they have enough officers. And, uh, gosh, it's in, uh-- They added it up, and it's in the bio how many years, I think about fifteen, sixteen years, something like that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Really? Yeah.

FORD: (coughs) And I was--I didn't have--I wasn't doing--I was just inactive--

01:41:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --I guess is what the word is.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: Inactive.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And, uh, I didn't get promo-- I didn't get, pursue my promotions.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And so, uh, uh, I just didn't have time for it. It was good for me at the time.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And I enjoyed it. And, uh, we had, uh, some, some, uh, good times, and some, some not so good times. Uh, we, uh, uh, we did a lot of work around--a lot of civic work around town.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: We, uh--you know, the, the soapbox derby was one of 'em, down on Arbor Hills. We were the--we directed traffic and tra-- crowd control, and all that kind of stuff for them. And then, uh, we had-- uh, we didn't have any money, didn't have any money to do certain things. You--all--if you want anything extra, you had to raise the money yourself.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And so I came up with the idea of being in politics, uh, or having some 01:42:00knowledge of politics, having an ice cream supper.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And so we, uh, sold tickets to the candidates before the supper. And so, you know, there was so much--you--for a dish of ice cream or ice cream cone--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --or Coca Cola or something like that, or a piece of homemade cake, or whatever, and so ice cream and cake was so much, and ice cream cone so much, drink was so much. And so we sold these candidates the cards--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --and so they would give 'em out to their, their constituents, and so they'd come down and get us-- So we, we made pretty good money.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting.

FORD: We made seven or eight hundred bucks--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --uh, off of just a little old ice cream supper, and then we had some money that we could buy extra things for. We would need signs painted or--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: --uh, you know, whatever we needed--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --but which we couldn't get through the guard.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: And then we leased the armory for the filming of "the Kentuckian."

BIRDWHISTELL: Really?

FORD: They paid us seven hundred dollars a day--

01:43:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --oh goodness. (laughs)

FORD: --for that sucker. We got--we got good money for that. But we had to drill down the basement where we parked the trucks and cars, 'cause they were using the gym part where we trained--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: --uh, for-- They put--they had gambling scenes up there. They put the background up and did all the filming in there. We had a kick--we got a kick out of watching it, and we made awful good money off of it.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's fun.

FORD: Yeah, it was, it was, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, was your unit ever involved in the--when the Guard was called out, in regard to, uh, the school desegregation?

FORD: No.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: Uh, we were-- Uh, we, uh, we went to Fort Knox--I mean, uh, to Churchill Downs for Derby Day--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and we worked there, and we'd leave here, you know, at two o'clock in the morning or something like that, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah, yeah.

FORD: --ride the buses. They would get us a bus, and then we'd have a, a lunch. We'd stop somewhere and get hamburgers, and then Churchill Downs furnished us a lunch. And then we'd get to-- And during the race I was at the 01:44:00finish line one day. Our--my company got there when Middleground won.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah?

FORD: I, I think it's Middleground. And I was right there when he came right across the finish-- I was right behind the post, so the horse couldn't see me, you know. That's for be--they'd be there to keep people from getting--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --over in the track.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And, uh, they paid us a day's pay, Churchill Downs, for, for our use of it (??). And we went several years.

BIRDWHISTELL: That is so interesting.

FORD: And the boys--and, and the boys really liked it, you know. They got-- And they didn't have to do-- It was a long day--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --on a bus, but they could sleep on the bus, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, yeah.

FORD: And, uh, then we'd stop out someplace there, Shively, and, uh, they knew we were coming. We called in advance, and so walked in there where they hand us a hamburger and French fries and a Coke--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and they walked out. And so we, uh, we worked that out, uh, pretty good. And then, uh, with, uh-- It was an interesting day. It--except for the 01:45:00Derby race itself, we had a little time off, we--on and off, you know--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: --give them some rest.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: But during--just before the Derby race we were all out there, and we were on the inside--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh, track.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: So it--yeah, we had some good times.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's sort of interesting, Senator, to think about you being there in your Guard uniform, you know, as security for the race, and then a few years later--

FORD: --be up in the--

BIRDWHISTELL: --you, you're handing the trophy, and--

FORD: Yeah. (laughs) At the largest Derby yet.

BIRDWHISTELL: Really?

FORD: Uh, one hundredth. Mom and--Mom and I presided over that one. That was the largest, uh, uh, crowd they've ever had. This one was number two.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was thinking about that over the weekend, Senator, because, uh, it's hard for me to believe that they just did 126, because when they got to a hundred that seemed like such a big deal.

01:46:00

FORD: It was. And we had Princess Margaret--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's right.

FORD: --and Snowdon here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And, uh-- What's the place in the, uh--oh--mall, around the, the Hyatt and the Rupp Arena? There's a-- Wakefield-Scearce?

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: They designed a gold, solid gold, chain and s-- emblem of the Derby, horse.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: They designed it, and we gave that to--

BIRDWHISTELL: --wow.

FORD: --Princess Margaret.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.

FORD: And had one made in silver for Jean. And, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --that's nice.

FORD: --so it was, uh-- We--she has that, but it's almost too big--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --to wear, you know. But, uh-- Then I've got the Seabass (??) horse from them, and then, uh, the Churchill Award, which is ninety--nine-nine-nine-nine-nine-point-nine solid silver--

01:47:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --uh, whatever. And I've got the awards from the race, the Thoroughbred Racing Association. Well, I got all those out at the house.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: They're spread around.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's interesting to go back, though, and a person like yourself, and, and think about and hear about all of the different types of things that you were involved in. I mean, I don't see how you had the time--

FORD: --it's--

BIRDWHISTELL: --to do all this.

FORD: Well, it's, uh-- Uh, you have to have--be able to take little sleep. See, when we campaigned for governor we were in a two-seated helicopter, and the three of us are in there, and I slept from stop to stop--(Birdwhistell laughs)-- and I can sleep anywhere. I can just-- I'll just stop a minute, you know, and I can go to sleep. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: --had you always been able to--

FORD: --yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --to, to work eighteen, nineteen hours a day?

FORD: Yeah. Five hours about all I can stay in bed.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Yeah, I went to be midnight last night and was up quarter after five this 01:48:00morning. And the Courier-Journal gets there around 4:30, so if I--

BIRDWHISTELL: --good thing it gets there early. (laughs)

FORD: I get there--I get-- I have my co-- I make my pot of coffee, and I read, uh, the Courier Journal, and the, uh, Messenger gets there between 6:30--I mean, uh, 5:30 and 6:00, closer to 6:00, so I get up around 5:00, and I've had a chance to make my coffee and read the Courier-Journal, and then the Messenger comes, and I read it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: Then Mother comes staggering in about seven o'clock and gets her cup of coffee and reads the paper, and then we eat different.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh.

FORD: She--yesterday morning I had--I made my own oatmeal--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --and she had waffles, you know. So it--whatever you want.

BIRDWHISTELL: But you, uh-- You worked--you did so many things, you know. It, uh-- When you think about, uh, your insurance work, and you think about the 01:49:00JC's work, and then you got the National Guard work, and then you were involved in other civic activities, uh--

FORD: --yeah, I was bo-- member of the Civitan Club.

BIRDWHISTELL: Civitan?

FORD: Yeah, I was original member of that. And, uh, I guess we were the culprits for Claxton fruitcakes. Now, you tell me people don't eat fruitcakes now.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: They do. You know, they said this fruitca-- they say don't eat fruitcakes. He'd get one this Christmas and he sent it back to the fellow gave it to you last Christmas. (laughter) But I think we bought, uh, five or six hundred pounds of fruitcake first time, and I think we got about maybe ten thousand pounds the last year I was there. (coughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: That's funny.

FORD: And what you do--they were pound-sized, and two pounds, maybe one, two, 01:50:00and three. I'm not sure. I think-- But anyhow, ----------(??) about good slices. You know, just slice it off for--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --(coughs)--and a lot of businesses gave 'em for Christmas, and so we sold 'em to a lot-- Like Texas Gas and Modern Welding, people like that. They would give 'em to their customers for Christmas.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, um-hm.

FORD: And, uh, so it-- And one of the joys, though, that, uh-- Did I tell you about W.L. Faust and the March of Dimes?

BIRDWHISTELL: No.

FORD: W.L. Faust wrote--was school superintendent here, one of the finest gentlemen you'd want to ever meet, just gracious and, uh, just, just fine person. And he would write a letter to his friends, and he would raise seven, eight, nine hundred dollars a year for the March of Dimes. Well, that was 01:51:00pretty good, just writing a letter to your friends, back in those days.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And, uh, so they came to the JC's and asked them if they would take that over. Well, we had just gotten through installing weighing machines around town, you know, and we'd have to go out about six o'clock in the morning, collect the money, turn it in. It was, uh-- That's one thing. So we took over the March of Dimes. I think maybe we got about two thousand dollars first year. We even got little plastic containers that the City allowed us to put on parking meters where you get out and you drop the money down in it, 'cept we didn't know that in January--they did-- they weren't very smart about it, 'cause we weren't very smart. We bought 'em.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: It rained, and those plastic containers on--you know, where--they were about that--but--you know, size of a quarter.

01:52:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah.

FORD: And they'd hold a nickel, dime, quarter. And, uh, they'd rain and freeze and the damn plastic things would break, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: Money would be laying down on the street. --(Birdwhistell laughs)-- And that, that was--that was the worst mistake we ever made. But the smartest thing we did was the Mothers March.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mothers March.

FORD: Yeah, Mothers March. They just had a march here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: They're still doing it. And, uh, make a long story short, the last one we had that I was involved in before Salk found his vaccine for polio, we raised thirty-four thousand dollars in this town.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.

FORD: And I never will forget it. We--that's a lot of money, take it out here and send it in. But the day I took Steve and Shirley down to Sports Center, and they put that vaccine on that cube of sugar--

01:53:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --and gave it to those two kids, and they wouldn't have polio, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: I didn't need a plaque.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: I didn't need any accolades.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: You know, my kids weren't gonna have polio.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right. That's right.

FORD: And I was in Redwood City, California the year I was president, national president JCs, and, and after the dinner meeting we were sitting around talking, like JCs do. There was one fellow being kind of quiet, and I pointed my finger at him and I said, "Why are you a JC?" He looked at me. He said, "I believe I got an answer for you."

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: Said, "I've been here six months, made every meeting, every meal." Said, "They--I haven't been given anything to do, and one meal--minute the president pointed his finger at me and made me chairman." He said, "Me, chairman? I 01:54:00haven't even been on a committee yet, let alone chairman, and I was told to or-- to form my own committee, and that was to raise money for an iron lung for our local hospital." He said, "I got some friends, two or three of 'em, and they agreed to serve, and I--we talked others into it. Finally--we worked and we worked and we worked, and I didn't think we would ever raise the money, but we did."

BIRDWHISTELL: Hm.

FORD: "And three days after that iron lung arrived at the hospital, it saved the life of a honey-haired three-year-old little girl."

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm, mm.

FORD: He says, "I stood in the hall with her parents, arms around each other, sharing tears of joy, because the JC Project had saved a life, you know."

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: "I knew why I was a JC."

BIRDWHISTELL: Mm.

FORD: You know.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's a great story.

FORD: And, uh, they're all those things. It's just like I flew out to some 01:55:00little town in state of Washington, and, uh--uh, or--and--I flew in to there. And they were having some kind of big do, and so I ask 'em what the, uh, latest project-- They said, "Well, we just raised enough money for a fire truck for our, uh, fire department, this little, you know, volunteer fire department, raised the money for a fire truck." I said, "Well, how'd you raise the money?" Said, "Well, the dealer let us have a Ford convertible at cost, and we raffled that sucker off--"

BIRDWHISTELL: --mm.

FORD: "--and raised enough money to buy this fire truck." I said, "What's your next project?" He said, "Raising enough money to pay off the Ford car"--(laughter)--you know, you know. So it's-- And that's kind of life out there, the way it was, you know. And we had to plug Horse Derby here, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --love Horse Derby--

FORD: --we just, we just--we tried a little bit of everything. And, uh, had 01:56:00the Miss Kentucky contest here one time, and we, uh, we didn't have-- It--it was just amazing. This young lady came in here, Levy's (??), right up here on the next street, nice ladies' store, and, uh, uh, this--his daughter had won the miss something--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --in Eastern Kentucky and sent her down here. They didn't realize that she'd need a swimsuit, and they didn't realize she'd need an evening gown and all that. So they asked where they could go to get all this stuff, and they told her the best place in town was there at S.W. Anderson's. And so they went by Levy's and told 'em, and they, they were--didn't look like they were worth a dime, you know. And so she tried on this dress, and the lady with the Miss Kentucky contest said, "That just look great on you for the thing, you know."

01:57:00

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: They had her there. And the bathing suit looked good, you know, and all that. And, uh, so the old man said, "How much is it?" And it was several hundred dollars. And they didn't--you know, he just opened up the bib of his overalls now--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and paid 'em cash.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: You know, you've seen people come from, uh, mountains, got all their money right there in that--in those bib overalls.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's funny.

FORD: And so he paid for it. So those little things that happened mean nothing to most folks, but, uh, they're interesting. It's just like the president was here last week, Terry, and this woman from Hancock County's got a twenty-seven year old son with Sown-- Down syndrome.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And she asked a friend of ours, uh--she wanted the boy to see the president, and she suggested they go down to the school, and maybe they could see him. Well, they went down there. They couldn't get in, couldn't get close, 01:58:00you know, because the security and that sort of thing. So they were going to leave, and it was getting close to noontime, and they were going around the bypass, and so they thought--she thought she'd just take him over to Moonlight, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --they'd eat.

BIRDWHISTELL: Have lunch.

FORD: Well, they got in, and then they found out the president was coming--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --you know? And so they just ate and stayed, wouldn't let-- The Secret Service at some point wouldn't let anybody out--

BIRDWHISTELL: --in or out--

FORD: --wouldn't let 'em in or out--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --so they were all in. And she called this friend of ours that had suggested that she go down to the school to tell her about the experience, and said the president shook hands with everybody in the resident--in the restaurant, about 325 of 'em, talked to 'em, gave 'em his autograph, had his picture made with 'em, and stayed and talked to her son for at least five minutes. Said he's hard to understand, and he was trying to tell the president 01:59:00something, and the president was listening very hard, and mother was kind of interpreting--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --what he was saying, and so forth. And at church Sunday--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --this little boy said, "You want to shake hands? Shook hands with the president," you know. And she--it just, you know-- These little--these are happen-- these things that just happen--

BIRDWHISTELL: --yeah.

FORD: --they're--and they're good stories.

BIRDWHISTELL: Good stories.

FORD: But they're not--they're, they're something that-- Most of the stories you tell that are funny are real--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and most of the s-- the stories that you tell that are touching are real.

BIRDWHISTELL: They're real.

FORD: You know, they're not made up.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: And so they're just like this, this story there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: Just by chance, they went to--by the Moonlight to eat, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

FORD: And so, uh, it's, uh-- It-- And bless his heart, the president would--if it hadn't been for his activity with Monica, and others, he probably 02:00:00would go down as one of the best presidents we've ever had, but the hate for him is-- You know, they beat--he beat the Republicans twice. He beat the pro-life people twice. And there's just no, no letup. And this conservative group now that moved from Arkansas to Atlanta, put millions in--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --to, uh, get after him. And it's, it's-- (clears throat) Somehow or another, it goes back to what I said earlier: we're going to have to start sharing our time.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: And our time is going to have to be understanding. The Kettering Foundation--and I'm getting off what you want, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: --no, I'm, I'm just watching the time ----------(??)----------

FORD: --the Kettering Foundation is--has a, a project going, and Owensboro happens to be a piece of that--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --through the Hager Foundation. Maybe you know about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Community Life Foundation.

FORD: Huh?

BIRDWHISTELL: But--yeah, um-hm.

FORD: Yeah. And--but it's where you debate or discuss issues with elected officials--

02:01:00

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and that's where you, uh, where you get in confrontation is what they're talking about at debate, or you sit down at the table and try to talk through, discuss the problem and arrive at a solution for it. We've lost that, and I'm glad somebody's at least thinking about--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --you and I and others sitting down and discussing the problems of Owensboro.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: We've got, uh, property use around town, you know, and almost like planning and zoning, but you don't say that anymore. Land use I think is what they call it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Land use, yeah.

FORD: Well, they made a decision to let people say what they want before they start trying to tell people what they ought to do--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --you know. Let them s-- think what land use --------(??).

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm.

FORD: You know, they got chicken problems, got hog farms--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --they got all this kind of environmental problems that when I was growing up you didn't have 'em. Well, you didn't have the population, and you 02:02:00didn't have the, the bi-- huge farms and all the mechanical operations, so we didn't have-- Had the problems, but not in the multitude--

BIRDWHISTELL: --right.

FORD: --uh, that we have today. So these--this group wanting to listen to the public before they start making any kind of decision is beginning to show that maybe some of it's

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --beginning to seep out there--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --and work a little bit.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's what you did with Louisville.

FORD: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: You went and asked Louisville what they wanted.

FORD: Well, yeah, instead of Frankfort telling Louisville--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

FORD: --uh, what, uh, what was good for Louisville. Louisville started telling Frankfort what was good for Louisville. And it was easy, you know. And of the twenty-one or twenty-two items, we did 'em all but one. We got 'em all started.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right.

FORD: And so, uh, only one I don't think I did was the--was widening Watterson Expressway. (laughs) That even got in the mayors' race up there.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs)

FORD: He--uh-- It--his name was Hyde. I started to say Henry Hyde, but, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: --no.

FORD: --he was the, uh, police chief.

02:03:00

BIRDWHISTELL: I can't remember--

FORD: --he ran for mayor--

BIRDWHISTELL: --um-hm.

FORD: --got beat.

BIRDWHISTELL: We need to stop because you have to be somewhere.

FORD: Yeah.

END OF AUDIO FILE