Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William T. Young, Sr., August 8, 2000

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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 YOUNG: I'm still hard of hearing. I think I'm getting worse.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well my wife sometimes says I'm getting a little hard of hearing, too. You know that story.

YOUNG: Well, I had some hearing aids and I never did adjust to them and, and I finally lost them.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, you did?

YOUNG: --------(??) it would start over, but all they did with me is magnify the uh, background noise.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's what I would worry about, that's what I worry about. Well--

YOUNG: That's, that's the usual complaint I hear.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, Mr. Young, it's August 8th, 2000, it's our seventh session, and I appreciate your patience. I don't take it for granted. You keep letting me come in and ask you these questions, but I want you to know I'm enjoying it, and I think it's a, a good interview series so far, so I appreciate it. We were talking before the interview that uh, you've been spending a little time up at Saratoga uh, watching your horses run and watching your horse run, 00:01:00and I wonder if you could just at the beginning part of the interview today, just tell me a little bit about what it's like going to Saratoga, what it's like up there, and how it's different from, from the horse culture here in Lexington, Kentucky.

YOUNG: Well, as you know, I don't, I don't have a life long history of, of following the races, if you will. And uh, I'd never been to Saratoga, until I got into, into the business. Saratoga, as you know was a, was a gambling center in the early part of the century, and I think one of the earliest tracks was Saratoga, and of course being close to--being in New York, and close to New York City, all the, the owners in those days seemed to be wealthy persons or families 00:02:00from the East. And uh--I forget when the, when the gambling was closed down, but you know all the race tracks were shut down--across the country, I believe in the early part of the century--now you'd have to look that up but I would guess 1910 or what, but it was twenty or thirty years before the--various states re-approved parimutuel betting. The racing was never illegal, it was always the parimutuel betting, but obviously no one would go to see a horse race, unless he could bet on it and I don't know what the origin of that tradition is, but I believe if Keeneland out here just shut the, the betting windows down, you've--you wouldn't get but a handful of people out there. But, but anyway, uh, Saratoga has a long history and--I think some of the colorful figures over the last century are associated there. Uh, I was trying to think of one 00:03:00that--well I can't think of any old names, of course the names Wagner and Whitney, and Vanderbilt and Astor and--were all there. But uh--I forget when I first went to Saratoga, it probably was, was when Storm Cat ran. Storm Cat ran in--he ran as a two-year old, in eighty-five. He was an eighty-three model. And I do know that Jonathan Sheppard was training him and I don't know where we ever got Jonathan, uh, because his specialty is uh--is steeple chase horses. And he may be the number one trainer in that regard. He was a very conservative person. And, I'm not su--I don't think he'd ever gotten a horse, or--you know a 00:04:00thoroughbred horse, of Storm Cat's caliber and I think he was a little, a little stymied as to what--how he had to handle that horse.


YOUNG: And I've always given great credit to Bob Coplan, the veterinarian who is still associated with us--in furthering Storm Cat's career. In fact, uh, when he did retire, I felt so much of Bob's contribution that I gave him a breeding right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

YOUNG: Which today of course is quite valuable.


YOUNG: Uh, I didn't think that uh, I didn't think that Jonathan, even though he was training the horse was, was going to go and start him as a two-year old, he always had some excuse not to start, and finally uh--Coplan and I, we went up there and, and looked at Storm Cat, of course it--my looking at him didn't mean anything. But uh--Bob was so bullish--on Storm Cat, that he thought right off 00:05:00that it was a, was not unreasonable to aspire to be a two-year old champion, that's before he ever ran.


YOUNG: So he pressured Jonathan into starting him, and finally got him to start him at Saratoga, which traditionally, meets during the month, basically, of, of August. So he must have been--I reckon his first race was probably in the first week of uh, of August, we could, we could check that out but I th--I don't think that's material. And--I forget the jockey that uh, that Jonathan had on him, he was a French jockey, had a French name. He was probably an American. I forget that boy's name, but he lost his first race, and, and Coplan uh--he thought he 00:06:00got a terrible ride, I suppose Jonathan did too, and we changed jockeys, and of course he won his second race very easily. Now--I believe I went up for both races, but that was probably my first exposure to Saratoga. Saratoga is very much like uh, Churchill Downs, in that it's a traditional old track. When you go to Churchill Downs, you are immediately taken back to the--last century and you, then, and the same is even more true of, of Saratoga because it's been modernized less.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

YOUNG: And it's a vacation spa in the first place and genesis of Saratoga is the Saratoga Springs, and in the last century that was a big deal. You had Hot Springs, Arkansas, you had Hot Springs, Virginia, and you had Hot Springs at Saratoga. So that's what it started out as a resort, and then gambling, and 00:07:00casino gambling was there, and then racing. But--people still flocked Saratoga, mostly from the New Y--New York and New England area, it was a vacation spot. And the races, the first impression that I had of Saratoga and, I still retain that impression, it's like going to a big county fair.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh really? Hmm.

YOUNG: People will bring their picnic lunches and--spread blankets all over the grounds, it, it's a--I like the atmosphere there, and of course the racing is splendid. A two-year olds, the major part of their bill of fare, that's about the time of year that, that most of them start.


YOUNG: Some of them are more precocious, they may start in April at Keeneland but--most people feel like that's too early for them. And then you have the racing two-year old classics the rest of the year. Uh, you have the Spinaway for fillies and--at the end of Saratoga--my god the other race just escapes me 00:08:00but there is a similar race for, for colts and then they go on and they race at Saratoga and they wind up at the breeders cup and that's when the, the champion is determined. And--but Saratoga never changes, I went to Saratoga--well last Sunday, Storm uh--Cat Thief was running. So I took a bunch of the girls and boys from the office and we went up. So we left early, not too early, we left about ten in the morning and flew to Saratoga. Then we had lunch at a, a quaint place, it's a club called the Reading Room, and you sort of eat on the porch of the, of the--I reckon you wouldn't have heard of, well it was a Victorian house, 00:09:00goes back to the nineties, but anyway it's a small private club that most horsemen belong to, and it's right on the grounds of Saratoga, then we walked over to the track and uh, watched the races and--then we enter--after the--feature race that Storm Cat, he came second, but he ran a good race--not Storm Cat but Cat Thief.

BIRDWHISTELL: Cat Thief--hm.

YOUNG: I always think of Cat Th--of Storm Cat first and foremost because every time one of his babies win, he uh--your stature increases and--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--That's right.

YOUNG: --and it helps our he--it helps Overbrook's purse.

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--That's right.

YOUNG: But anyway we came home, and got home about eight o'clock, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: It makes for a nice day.

YOUNG: --it was the same last--Sunday as it was--twenty years ago, the first time I went--


YOUNG: --or fifteen years ago, in 1985.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now is the airport real close to the--tracks?

YOUNG: Just right in town, takes you about ten minutes to get from the airport, 00:10:00it's a small airport and you have to go in there in a, in a small plane and the weather has to be pretty good.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. But your plane could get in there.

YOUNG: Yeah, we had no problem getting in. But if the weather is bad, you go into Albany, and that's about a forty minute ride up to Saratoga.

BIRDWHISTELL: How long does it take you in your plane to get--to --------(??)

YOUNG: Well about one hour and thirty minutes.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's not bad at all, is it?

YOUNG: Yeah, yeah, it doesn't take long.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's great.

YOUNG: Then the--in Saratoga --------(??) has been the sight of the--of really, in the early days, the yearling sales in America. And I don't know when--Keeneland got in the act. The--probably it was right after the war, and--but traditionally the uh, breeders in Lexington, and in Kentucky, would take their yearlings to Saratoga by rail.


YOUNG: And it was, it was a major excursion, and of course during the war, I 00:11:00don't know whether they shut down or not, but it was very difficult to get horses up there and after the war, at some point, Keeneland bought Tattersalls, as I recall, which was a sales company, and they developed that into the premiere sales company in the world. But the Saratoga sales which are conducted by the Fasig-Tipton Company, is still prominent.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

YOUNG: And our boys uh--they--I don't know how many horses they'll have, several hundred, but they'll have this, this is the eighth, there will be a sale up there tomorrow night, the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh. And our boys are up there now, they went up Monday morning to look at the horses and--


YOUNG: --if we find something we're interested in, we'll--we may or may not bid.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now but you go down--

YOUNG: But usually we buy two or three horses.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now do you go up and look at them after they pick them out?

YOUNG: I don't personally uh, uh, but a--I think I've said in the earlier 00:12:00interviews uh, I think one of the wise things I've done is to not--be two hands on in a situation like that. I basically don't know anymore about the fine points of, of a horse physically, than I did when I went in business. And my attitude then, it--if--at age sixty, that to become proficient in judging horses is a, is a little ambitious, and very dangerous.--(Birdwhistell laughs)-- So, I may go up, I may go up Thursday, or maybe Friday, but that will depend, but--if they're hung up on--bidding a horse and want to know how far they wo--they ought to go, they'll call and talk to me about it, but I just--all I give them is a little bit of judgement. So--but that's the way we operate, but Bob Copland is 00:13:00up there. He will look at every horse for us, and Rick Waldman is there, he's about as good as anyone I know at appraising a horse and judging the horse's pedigree. And Bob Warren who really is our general manager will be there, and he has great judgment, he'll decide what to bid and who to bid on, and Wayne Lukas, of course, we, we use him. We'll know what his selections are and--the odds are, we won't bid on anything that Wayne doesn't like and also Bob Copland. And then Jim Canon is there, and he is our farm manager, but that's our so called team. But I have little input in that uh, in that process. Obviously I got more votes than anybody, but that's--

BIRDWHISTELL: And a big stake. --(laughs)--

YOUNG: But I don't exercise that very often.

BIRDWHISTELL: We'll talk about some of these things when we--get to the point where you--develop Overbrook and get into the horse business, I look forward to those conversations because uh--just what you were telling me there reminds me 00:14:00that uh--you know we haven't done a good enough job, I think of uh--recording that history, and capturing the history of the thoroughbred industry, because it is a fascinating business.


BIRDWHISTELL: I mean it's fascinating.

YOUNG: Well it is, it's p--it's uh--I didn't realize it and uh--but until I got into it but it is a fascinating business and--if I haven't pointed it out, I will point that it also is a legitimate business and potentially a good business.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm, yeah. Well certainly you've made it that.

YOUNG: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh, we're right in the middle of this uh--summer of political uh--conventions and uh--I thought, before we got into the main part of the interview, I'd ask you, are you paying any attention to the Republicans and the Democrats as they --------(??)

YOUNG: Oh I do, at, at eighty, at eighty-two you have to find--entertainment where you find it.

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

YOUNG: So Gore got Lieberman to, to be his vice-presidential candidate, so I 00:15:00read everything in the Louisville, Lexington papers and--

BIRDWHISTELL: What do you make of it?

YOUNG: Well I think it uh--I was never that familiar with Lieberman but from reading everything, from writers that I respect, uh, I, I think he reads very good and very well indeed. Uh, the signal thing that some of the elitist, some of the earlier presidents, overlooked and seem to be the consensus of several--well I think George Will was one uh, that uh--Lieberman is capable of being president. And I think that, uh, a lot of times, the--and I think Cheney is too. That's not always true; I don't think that Quayle was capable of being president. And uh--I'm not sure, I'm not sure Gore was at the time he was candidate. But today of course, he has eight more years experience and the 00:16:00number two s--spot, so uh, uh--no I think it's interesting, I'd--I take it seriously, I'm not uh, I'm not out, I'm not outspoken to you or someone privately, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand. I understand.

YOUNG: I don't get out and work for any candidates, but--and I think a Republican is just as--honorable and patriotic as a Democrat, but I basically feel more comfortable uh--with this one party in the White House and one party in Congress. We take, we take a lot of stock and credit for the check and balance system. To abandon the check and balance at the very t--height, at the top of our pyramid--


YOUNG: Seems foolish.


YOUNG: And uh--I'll vote for Gore, simply because he is Democrat and there is a Republican Congress, I don't want all of--I'd be uneasy as hell with all 00:17:00Republicans and I wouldn't be all that comfortable with all Democrats. So that's going to be a factor in my voting. I don't know whether I'm right or wrong, but I figure, if they argue some controversial issue out and compromise, I feel like it's, at least it has run the gamut of honest consideration.


YOUNG: And there is a lot of policies of either party that if they had an open hand just to do what they wanted to, I'd be very uncomfortable.


YOUNG: Especially the Republicans.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well I think a lot of Americans share that, share that view.

YOUNG: You don't, uh, you don't read much about that point of view.

BIRDWHISTELL: No, you don't.

YOUNG: In fact I never read about it. I never read about that, that the most important place for check and balance is at the very pinnacle of government, I never, I can't, I can't get, can you, I've never, I can't remember reading--

BIRDWHISTELL: Not in the, not in the context of parties.


BIRDWHISTELL: Not in--you know they--with the--three, three parts of the government they talk about, but not in regard to parties, too much.


YOUNG: But nothing gets uh, nothing, nothing gets full consideration uh--unless points--both points of view have a vote on it--in a sense. But, but that's always been a point with me, I think if they were a Democratic Congress I'd be inclined to--vote Republican, maybe. Although they turn me off on, on several issues that bother me no end and uh--I don't know whether we discussed before?

BIRDWHISTELL: No we haven't, no we haven't.

YOUNG: Well the Republicans uh--I supposed this is for the record. But the Republicans bother me in that they uh--they wish to inhibit the women's rights in the, in the abortion issue, I don't think that's a political issue, I think that's an individual's--decision, so that's make me pro choice. And the--they 00:19:00are so--vehement about it, that they want to amend the constitution. There is something serious about amending the constitution, it's been sitting there two hundred years. And uh--I'm afraid that the religious right is the only radical element that, in this country that I fear, and uh--they have that in their grip. And the second thing is that I think that--as much as opportunity is--available to all in this country that the economic system is skewed uh, in, in a large degree, to the owners of businesses and property and so forth. Uh, you're a professional man and you, you operate on a salary, they do pay you, don't they?

BIRDWHISTELL: Yes sir, a little bit --(laughs)--


YOUNG: I'm the only person that's--that I've ever talked to that's--accumulated some capital that, that feels this way, but I feel, basically that they overtax you and they've under taxed people like myself, who chose to go into business for themselves. Over all these years, I think for instance that the president of a university like Charles Wethington, that his contribution is--to society is more important than mine, which is basically to operate a business uh, uh. That's heresy in the uh, in the Republican Party, and the Republican Party now, if they go into office, will mean millions of dollars to me, because they're hell bent on eliminating the uh, inheritance tax, which only affects 57,000 00:21:00families out of--three hundred million people.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right? 57,000?

YOUNG: So--nobody else files one. The second thing, they will take the capital gains tax, from twenty-eight percent--or--already taking it down to twenty, they'd take it to ten percent or if, if the diehards had their they'd take it to zero.


YOUNG: God knows how much that would benefit me. In the meantime, uh, you, depending on your income have to pay up to fifty, sixty percent tax. Now Reagan was the only one, even though he was a Republican, I think he will go down as a great president. Before he got out of office, he lowered the maximum rate on indi--on individuals from about seventy percent down to uh--in steps, down to twenty-eight percent. And he took the capital gains tax and raised it upward from twenty percent to twenty-eight. So at one time, I don't know in--perhaps 00:22:00when he went out of office, that two taxes were same and that was the fairest level that I've ever seen in my lifetime. Now the Republicans since then, have taken ordinary income back up above forty percent, and they have taken capital gains back down to twenty. When I went into business uh, forty--what is it, fifty-five years ago uh--this inequity--was apparent then and that may have influenced the reason, when I came back from the war, one of it did--I did--I learned during the war, working with war contractors, that the only people that made any money were people that owned the businesses, not the people that worked their ass off in the businesses. And uh--so I decided to go into business and I went in the food business, there wasn't any, any groaning need. They call me an 00:23:00entrepreneur which is an overworked French word, as if we were God or something, but all I did is borrow the money and went into business. In, in furnishing in, in--and I've--that the, we didn't have Silicon Valley and the internet revolution then, but I just b--manufactured a, an everyday mundane product, peanut butter, but there was no demand for peanut butter, there was a peanut butter on every shelf--grocery shelf in America, and every pantry in America, but I just got in and carved out a nick of business by dint of hard work, but I didn't do society any particular favor. And uh, I built it up after about ten years to where they was, it was valuable to someone else that wanted to get into business, Procter and Gamble. They bought me out, to save a year or two of entry time--



YOUNG: --and paid me a couple of ti--I reckon my take on it was a couple of million dollars. And when I sold out I paid no tax on that. I took stock. You can still do that today. Now if I had taken cash, I would only pay twenty percent tax, or whatever the capital gains rate was then. So even today, even though I still hold the Procter and Gamble stock, I have uh, never paid any tax, and when I die the uh, the gain that I have with the peanut butter business, plus Procter and Gamble, goes tax free.


YOUNG: Except for inheritance taxes. Now they eliminate the inheritance tax, it means in my lifetime, my life's work--


YOUNG: At least in that--

BIRDWHISTELL: In your --------(??) year, hmm--

YOUNG: --those lines I've been in, I've never been taxed.

BIRDWHISTELL: Isn't that interesting?

YOUNG: In the meantime--I've never hear--I've never heard this point of view expresses by anyone, if you want to call me a capitalist that's what I am, I 00:25:00suppose. But I've never understood uh, that inequity. It still doesn't mean we don't have a good uh--economic system, it's the best in the world, but it's, that inequity that no one ever wants to talk about. And the uh, the Republicans are paranoid, and I think that uh, I think the people that run our institutions, and that includes our professional people like lawyers-- lawyers make plenty of money but they don't ever really get rich.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, they don't, not like you do --------(??)

YOUNG: They never really get rich.


YOUNG: And--the same is true of doctors. Doctors are always accused of high income but they pay taxes, like, like, like I've never paid. Of course I pay ordinary income tax--on my salary, but I, I don't have to draw a salary if I don't want to, if they--so I sell out at thirty-seven and get a couple of 00:26:00million. My guess is if I had stayed in industry or worked as a professional man, I might have saved a million--by the time I was sixty. And then I could invest in the stock market and become a, an owner, but that's no guarantee just because the market's gone up for ten years, it hadn't always done that.

BIRDWHISTELL: No, it hasn't. --(laughs)--

YOUNG: And it probably won't the next ten years. So before I could even become an owner I've spent my whole life. I'll probably be on Viagra before I ever, ever do, but anyway that's a point of view that I never, I know, I know a lot of entrepreneurs, capitalists--I prefer that they refer us as owners.


YOUNG: But a guy that goes out here and starts a restaurant, which we don't need, but he is free to do it and some of them uh--make it in financially, most 00:27:00of them don't. My guess is that ninety percent of all small businesses fail.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. You know uh--

YOUNG: But that's an interesting subject to me--


YOUNG: And I guess so I parrot it a lot but, but I never, never seen it written up.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was wondering--you know when you, when you talk about this, obviously you come from--working class background.

YOUNG: Ab--absolutely!

BIRDWHISTELL: And so one might argue, you know your biographer might say well, you know, Mr. Young comes from a working class background and he never forgot--what it was like for his father to--build that business and, and, and, and what it's like to work for somebody else--

YOUNG: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --but a lot of uh, owners, entrepreneurs, capitalists--come from that same working class background.

YOUNG: Most all of them do.

BIRDWHISTELL: Why don't they remember this?

YOUNG: The--there is no Aristocracy that I know of in uh, in America, if it exist, name, name me an Aristocrat. They used to think that, that Duponts and the Astors, and the--Vanderbilts were--aristocracy. They weren't really. They 00:28:00were poor people that made a hell lot of money.

BIRDWHISTELL: When Lexington--

YOUNG: And now it's gone.

BIRDWHISTELL: In Lexington you hear this--and I guess in other places in the country.

YOUNG: The old families in Lexington don't exist anymore.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's new money and old money, right?

YOUNG: They don't e--y--they know--

BIRDWHISTELL: It's all new money. --(laughs)--

YOUNG: But the old money is gone, there ain't no old money. You can go out here on a YMCA drive, what little old money is around they won't give you a dollar, all your money comes from self made men.


YOUNG: That's the great thing about America. And I think we should always preserve that. A kid getting out of c--a kid going to work, with or without an education, should be afforded the opportunity to become wealthy in this country with honest endeavor.


YOUNG: And that hasn't been disturbed. What disturbs me is--that most people are not owners. It's only the owners that prosper. You can't do it any other 00:29:00way. Now if you uh--there are some exceptions you can find where--some person has made it in the stock market over a lifetime but they--they are rare, just rare, rare birds. And uh--then you have to get the capital to do it, but uh--


YOUNG: Even, even this internet--world that I have not participated in deliberately, first I'm too old, and secondly I don't have the background, and third you can press your luck, uh-- I came from a different generation. I think that the uh, information revolution is a true revolution, perhaps like electricity--or the airplane, or, or the motorcar. But it's going to benefit very, very few people--I think it'll take the general standard of living up in 00:30:00this country, so the all classes of people, income classes of people, will benefit, but the young people getting out from college today, if they think they're going out to Silicon Valley and--become a millionaire in--quickly, is going to be very, very, very rare. Shirts still have to be made, automobiles have to be made, the house has to be clean, nothing is changed. Somebody has to fill those myriad jobs. And uh--the fact that just a--tiny fraction of one percent will, will become wealthy, will pull the economy along with them perhaps, but uh, uh--if I were talking to a group of college graduates, unless they have distinct background in, in the information revolution, that is computers and the internet, all the things that you know, I say they ought to 00:31:00stay out of it. You take a, you take a t--a company like Microsoft, the most m--remarkable company in--my lifetime, or certainly adult lifetime, all the jobs there are the same as any other company. They have clerks, they got telephone operators, they don't have many scientists. Now at the very top they have--they no doubt in their research, scientific research, they probably have a good a people as anyone and those people w--as I read about the system, might come rich. But what I'm saying is they have--a hundred thousand employees, or two hundred thousand, hundred-ninety-five of them are going to be as working at the same crap that all of us, somebody got to cut the grass--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right. --(laughs)--

YOUNG: --serve the lunches--

BIRDWHISTELL: The electrician in the facility.

YOUNG: --be the electrician, that's right.

BIRDWHISTELL: I un--I understand.

YOUNG: You never, you never hear that.

BIRDWHISTELL: No, you don't.

YOUNG: You read Fortune magazine, or you read Forbes, you read about all these remarkable successes. I even have a grandson who is twenty--five, took the 00:32:00electrical engineering degree at Duke, and then he went for, went, he worked for--Chip Mahan's Company down in Atlanta which has gone into the internet banking, he stayed there a year, then he went to, then he went to San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and he worked for a year with a company called Scient, S, c, i, e, n, t, and he got stock options that you read about, which have become valuable. He left there after a year, and he and a friend, David Lamond they started their own business called Miadora, M, i, d, o, r, a. And uh, uh--that company went on line last September, and they sell uh, really medium or high price jewelry on the internet. And they raise a fabulous amount of money and 00:33:00uh--but now David and, and Chris who founded the company have left the company. And they are looking to, for another situation. What they do, they start those companies, if you read --------(??). Did you read 'The New New Thing?' Well that's the only thing I've read on the, on the new economy as it pertains to the internet. It's very informative. What they'll do, these fellows will start a company and turn it over to more experienced management, then they'll move on and take whatever stock. If Miadora succeeds, Chris will make--


YOUNG: Make some money, if it fails, it fails. But he has prepared himself and interestingly, he never asked me for any advice for sure, and never asked me for a dol--a dollar of money. And he is single, but uh, but he had enough gumption to take a, a--to take in college something that did prepare him for the, new, 00:34:00new thing.

BIRDWHISTELL: For the new--do you think your uh--

YOUNG: If he had my recommendation if he comes by, if he'd asked me going to college, I think they all ought to take electrical engineering.


YOUNG: They're crazy not to. What the hell you do with a philosophy degree? I don't even know what philosophers do. But, but anyway uh, they, that--but I am, if I do, I do have opinions, I'd, I think the next fifty years will be the greatest the country has ever seen.


YOUNG: But here all--

BIRDWHISTELL: You're an optimist from, from the word go.

YOUNG: Always have been.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's what I'm saying, you're uh--

YOUNG: Why wouldn't you be an obv--an optimist in this country from 1776?


YOUNG: Outside the odd set back it doesn't do nothing gone straight up. But not everybody has gone up with it.

BIRDWHISTELL: But you don't sit around and wring your hands about the collapse of, of our country like a lot of people do.


YOUNG: Why that--we had the cold war, we won that without the loss of life and uh--I think war is uh, is a furtherest (farthest) thing from the reality that --------(??) if war was a possibility, obviously from World War I to World War II we had it, and it was a possibility after that. But it diminished with time and uh, uh--the nuclear weapons are now a deterrent, uh. I think it's, even the--most stupid of the people, maybe Hada--maybe Sadam himself, over in Iraq, if we get into the next war it will be the obliteration of, of civilization. Nobody w--no way, no chance for anybody to win. So I don't even think about it, I, I, I just think, I'm sorry I am 82, but I think, the next twenty or fifty 00:36:00years, Christ all mighty, do anything you want to. And you still c--you could still do what we did in my generation. I gave the--commencement address at Transylvania--never, in eight, all these years, never been asked to give a commencement address, even to Kindergarden class, and I retired as chairman out there, this year, after twenty s--two or three years, and I just told them I was going to give the address this year, otherwise I wouldn't have been invited.

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

YOUNG: But, but I told those--I've reviewed my life and I told the boys and girls out there, that they had, they had just as much chance of succeeding at peanut butter manufacture as I did in 1945. What the hell is the difference? There is only one more brand out there, than uh, than there was then and there's--a lot of other brands have died out. The only brand, the only new brand is Jif, which is the one that--

BIRDWHISTELL: Which is Big Top.

YOUNG: It followed Big Top.



YOUNG: But--if they want to follow that they--it would take them some years to do it, but they, they certainly could do it.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you think if you were coming out of college and uh, and uh, May of 2001, that you could uh, replicate what you, what you did?

YOUNG: Yeah, easily. More than that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think?

YOUNG: More than that, I'd--

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

YOUNG: --instead of taking Mechanical Engineering, I'd take Electrical Engineering.


YOUNG: And then I would have probably gone on and gotten a Masters in, in Computer Science.

BIRDWHISTELL: Computer Science. Interesting. Because that's where, that's where the action is.

YOUNG: Why would you take anything else in school unless you want to be a doctor? Uh, or unless you want to be a Lawyer, you have to prepare for it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. But if you want to go into Business, Electrical Engineering would make sense?

YOUNG: Well any engineering, Electrical only because this is--of the--you know 00:38:00the information age with computers. If you don't understand computers, they are not glib, not only using them but understanding them, you're at a disadvantage if you want to take adv--advantage of that--income opportunity.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well I've read in the paper--

YOUNG: Everybody says they, they--everybody says well I don't uh, there is something vulgar about having a--ambition to make money, but you don't talk to anybody say well I want to--have children and provide a good life for them, and a good education for them, and move the standard of living up a little bit. I'll say this--there is no goddamn way in the world you can do it without money.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

YOUNG: That's our medium of exchange, and--now some people lose some of their other values in, in, in pursuing money.


YOUNG: I've never, I've never seen any mil--any real money made dishonestly. Every rich person of my generation that I know, as far as I know, did it 00:39:00honestly under, under our own, our American system.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. But in the uh--sessions that we'll do--we are almost to the mid point in your life and career here and--the sessions we will do about this uh--more recent uh--last thirty years or, or so, is the story about, uh, William T. Young taking his--hard earned money, and, uh, you could have done anything you wanted but yet you, you got involved in Transylvania University, you got involved in uh, Shakertown, you got involved in the YMCA, you got involved in the University of Kentucky, uh, the restoration of downtown, the Opera House. So it will be a story about an entrepreneur, an owner, a capitalist who, who spends hours, and hours, and hours uh, involved in those kind of projects.

YOUNG: Well I don't think that's unique, uh--


BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you know--

YOUNG: Maybe I learned a little earlier but--somewhere along the line that uh--in this so called pursuit of happiness uh--I think the Declaration of Independence starts out with that, that phrase somewhere in the first paragraph, uh--I don't know where I learned it, but I learned early on that if you don't give back of yourself, there is no chance of happiness, no chance at all. And if you don't have friends there's no chance.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

YOUNG: And uh, that's the reason I came back to Lexington, it's because that's was the environment that I knew and loved. And I had lifelong friends here. Why in the hell would I settle in New York, or Detroit, or Los Angeles?

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm. Or even Cincinnati.

YOUNG: I--or Cincinnati. I concluded uh, uh--that's about as far as I'd gone, 00:41:00I like Cincinnati but uh, uh--but I concluded I could as well here as I could anywhere else. And then during the war, I had the extraordinary experience that, that I worked state side, in, in the procurement--field for the ordnance department, and I dealt with a lot of companies and uh--whereas I don't think I'm any smarter than the next guy, at least I was young enough, I had my eyes open, and I would look at--literally hundreds of companies, and the only guys that made any money in those companies is the guys that owned all the stock. I didn't even know what the stock market was when I graduated from college.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

YOUNG: I didn't really realize it was an auction between buyers and sellers for--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. Um-hm. You knew it had crashed once.


BIRDWHISTELL: You knew it had crashed once, but you didn't know exactly what it was.

YOUNG: Oh yeah, I was raised during the crash, and heard a lot of conversation, 00:42:00but I basically--

BIRDWHISTELL: You were in transit.

YOUNG: Had never been exposed to it.


YOUNG: You don't get any of that--useful stuff in school. I could have been a carpenter, I must have had--hour, or for hour, working with my hands in my engineering pursuit. I could have been a metal worker, I could have been a carpenter. They all waste of time of course, because the engineering, engineering degree should be an intellectual pursuit, period. And, and maybe they've changed the curriculum, I don't know, but it didn't hurt me. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: Alright. You know after we--talked about your--friendship, and, and working with Art Linkletter, the other night on television, he was featured on the --------(??)

YOUNG: Yeah I turned that in, fortuitously, and he--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. What did you think of that?

YOUNG: Oh I thought it was fascinating. I knew him real well, of course it's like meeting, seeing an old friend. He and Lois must be ninety, ninety years 00:43:00old, I think, I think they are ninety. And uh, so it prompted me--so I've renewed that friendship, I sent uh, sent him a nice letter and told him what I had been doing. Think I--somewhat self consciously sent him some material where I have been featured in an article or two.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh that's good.

YOUNG: So and, I just sent that out about two days ago.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

YOUNG: So I'm sure I'll hear from them and, and talk to them.

BIRDWHISTELL: I'm so glad you saw that because uh--what, you know I just happened to catch it.

YOUNG: Yeah. Well It was a poor, just a pure accident, pure accident.

BIRDWHISTELL: Same with me and uh--I, I'd guess I didn't know if I had known I had forgotten about--the tragedy in his family.

YOUNG: He's had a lot of tragedy, it's changed his life, and he has responded as a, as a top, top person. He came from nothing, he was an orphan, but I've always admired Art Linkletter. And I knew him and I was privileged to know him, but he was on the board, you know, of Royal Crown Cola and my predecessor, Ed 00:44:00Norton, he was enamoured of--celebrities, so he got Art on there, and he was very useful, specially in marketing. Then later he got John Glenn on there. So John Glenn is a good friend of mine, so that's been interesting. John came from nothing also.

BIRDWHISTELL: Let me turn this over.

[End Tape 1, Side 1]

[Begin Tape 1, Side 2]

YOUNG: I'd say all my generation came from nothing.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well a lot of people --------(??)

YOUNG: That's right, probably the first generation--Tom Brokaw called us the greatest generation--he may be right.


YOUNG: I'll be damned if I know of any old money has participated in, in my generation. I don't know where it would be. Sonny Whitney is gone, he really wasn't in this generation--he was before. It's all dissipated.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well--certainly the uh, what you see in Kentucky--


YOUNG: You can start naming names here in town. Name names of outstanding people I'll tell you what their background is. They all went to city schools, all of them were poor, all of them went to the University of Kentucky. Name some of the top citizens you admire.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was just thinking about--

YOUNG: You can't even thing of any.

BIRDWHISTELL: --(both laugh)-- Interviewing Bill Gorman down in--


BIRDWHISTELL: Bill Gorman down in Hazard, there is that story about Hazard, it said "what do you do if you're, if you're Hazard millionaire?'

YOUNG: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: "You move to Lexington."

YOUNG: Oh there's no question, they have been doing that all of my life. I can name you the families when they came here. Bond family came in 1930.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right? Huh--

YOUNG: And so forth. Johnson family came in nine--nineteen-thirty. Then Elmer Whitaker and his crowd, they came, they came down here about 1970, seventy-five.

BIRDWHISTELL: Was that seventy? The seventies when they came?

YOUNG: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm. You know them all.

YOUNG: I can name every one of them. In addition to that, I don't blame them.


BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--Why is that, Mr. Young?

YOUNG: Well I, you know, they cry about uh--Appalachia. Some of my best friends at the University of Kentucky came from Hazard, Harlan, all those towns. They had the same opportunity than the rest of them, a lot of them done good, they've done well I should say. And uh, uh--they simply, simply went where the opportunity was--they are obviously, when I say I came home after the war, if I didn't have Lexington to come home to, I wouldn't have come home to uh--Middlesboro, or Hazard. Is--it really is nothing there but uh--you don't have to, you don't have to get completely out of your environment, just by accident I was born in Lexington. Uh, but in Appalachia the b--the--I don't have the answer, I think the answer is that they get educated and then go where 00:47:00the opportunity is.

BIRDWHISTELL: Follow the opportunity.

YOUNG: There is no use staying, there is no use staying in, in Appalachia and starving to death if there is nothing--to sustain you.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you know, Mayor Gorman worked so hard--for the last twenty-seven years as mayor of that city, project after project--

YOUNG: Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --after project and. At one point I said "Mayor Gorman, can you imagine what you could've accomplished if you would have been mayor of a city that was flat?" --(laughs)--

YOUNG: Yeah, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: All that energy! It takes so much energy--to make it work.

YOUNG: Well he--yeah, he gets, he gets the satisfaction out of it that uh, you can't buy with money, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right, that's right, you'd--yeah, it's a commitment.

YOUNG: A person that never uh, feels that, the urge to give back uh, is, is doomed to an unhappy life, in my opinion. The old money versus the new money, that's a, that's, that's passe, there --------(??) I'm not aware of any old 00:48:00money in Lexington, I'm, I'm, I know all the old families, but they've all petered out. I can't even think, even of the few kids that took I--Ivy league education in my generation, I can't think of anyone of them have ever amounted to anything.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did that uh--does that concern you in terms of uh, uh--your family's future, how do you, how do you maintain the sort of uh, outlook, uh, work ethic, that you, that you have? Can that be--passed down to--

YOUNG: No you can't

BIRDWHISTELL: --------(??) it's passed down to your son--

YOUNG: No it can't, it uh, it can only be passed down by someone observing your life. I've never had a serious conversation with my son. I never had one with my father. I think that's all bullshit. What would I talk to him about? If I don't lead a decent life, and uh, have the proper objectives and the motivation, 00:49:00this, that, and the other, what else can you teach a child?

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

YOUNG: Bill knows I'm honest, he knows I'm hard working, and uh, he knows that I don't worship a false god, if you would of, of wealth, this, that, and the other, it just come. And I determined when he was young and I was prospering, that I couldn't, couldn't cover that up. If he had any intelligence at all--

BIRDWHISTELL: He could tell you had money.

YOUNG: He always knew we had money, we never lived pretentiously but we lived well.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, right, I understand.

YOUNG: And we took nice trips and, there was type of thing that, that, that really most families can do. And uh--I just took pot luck now. When I sold my business out, in 1955, that, that was a low point, as well as a high point.


YOUNG: The thing that bothered me uh--Bill was seven years old, and my little 00:50:00girl had come along, she was three or four, and I just couldn't see raising those children, in Lexington or anywhere else, if I were not gainfully occupied, and contributing to the society that I lived in. And so I went back into business as quickly as I could, just so the uh, the family would have an identifiable honest endeavor, I went into the warehousing business. The most mundane business that you can think of. To go in the warehouse business you have to have no background at all. All you got to do is build the building. You got to persuade someone to lend you the money to do it. And then you have to work like hell to, to build on that. But the world isn't out there waiting for somebody to build a warehouse, believe me.


YOUNG: So that was a real motivation. And then when Bill came along, he accepted a--I was in a position to give him a good education, and I overreacted, 00:51:00like all parents that are h--become well to do from unwell to do, see I had no choice but to go to UK.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. You, you knew where you, you were going to go to--

YOUNG: That's the only place I could go.


YOUNG: So it was never an issue. And it's either that or go to work and--so I sent Bill to the fanciest New England school you can think of, Hotchkiss. It's in the same class with Andover and Exeter. And he was a--diligent student, I don't think he was a brilliant student but he was a good boy, that's luck, his mother probably had more to do with that.

BIRDWHISTELL: No, I sure believe that. --(laughs)--

YOUNG: Than anything but--I tell you this, he never came home from school a day in his life, his mother wasn't at home.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

YOUNG: That's another big issue with me.

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand.

YOUNG: Uh, but anyway, then he went to Princeton, you know, Christ, they wouldn't even let me on the campus at Princeton. And then he decided to take a Masters in, in business which is popular, which I think is basically a waste of 00:52:00time, and I think he does too now.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you tell him that before he went?

YOUNG: No, no.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh you just let him go?

YOUNG: He went to the Darden School at the University of Virginia and graduated. Then when he graduated--in the mean time I had taken the warehouse business to start building it up. So he did have an alternative--one of the main purpose would give him an alternative to come home. And uh, when he graduated from Virginia, uh, he got two or three job offers, there was a couple in New York, and this, that, and the other. And I had never pushed him about this but I told him if he wanted to come home, we had the business here, that he could--take it and do with it. And he called me one day and said he had decided to come home. He would have never come home if I didn't have the business. And it has been the greatest pleasure as ever come around--I don't have but one son, one daughter. Why do you have children and let them go to live in San Francisco or Alaska, or New York, why have them? They're gone before you know it. Do you 00:53:00have children?


YOUNG: How many children do you got?

BIRDWHISTELL: One, one daughter fourteen.

YOUNG: Fourteen?

BIRDWHISTELL: Fourteen year old daughter.

YOUNG: Well send her to the University of Kentucky. In the first place she will get just as good an education as she get at Harvard, and secondly she'll be associated with Kentucky people, and she will probably marry a Kentucky boy. So you have some chance of enjoying her as you get older.

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand. I might send her to Transy, if that's ok. --(laughs)--

YOUNG: Well Transy is ok too, it might be even better. But that's serious.

BIRDWHISTELL: I, I know, I know exactly what you're talking about.

YOUNG: Now, so you send her to Vassar.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, that's a --------(??)

YOUNG: In the first place I'm not sure she going to get a better education.

BIRDWHISTELL: No sir, I don't think so.

YOUNG: Secondly she will never meet a Kentuckian, so she will marry some son-of-the-gun from--Massachusetts.


YOUNG: And then if you want to see her or your grandchildren you got to go to Boston. That's so elementary to me.

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand, I understand.

YOUNG: But that's exactly why I went back in, I went back in business for two reasons, one was self respect, and the other was to, was to give--my son an 00:54:00opportunity. When he came back, we've never had a business discussion, I turned the business over to him, we've never consulted on anything in all these years. It's hard enough to be my son --(Birdwhistell laughs)-- to be working for me as it were. So I've, I've--

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--That's interesting.

YOUNG: --I can be immodest on some things, some things that I've, I've make a correct decision on.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yes you have. I mean time has shown that you've made a correct decision, and uh--you know it's interesting that--

YOUNG: But what life we--then I got to be when I w--went in the horse business, girls are different. And uh, you don't, you have no idea, the girls, you just don't know who they're going to marry, well the boys either, as far as that go, but usually the boy determines where they live. And uh--so when I got, when I bought the farm out there, started putting it together, she always showed an interest in having in a house when she got to be an adult. So I built her her 00:55:00current home out there, I used an old house and I remodeled, added to it, it's a lovely place. That's the only investment of that kind that's ever worked out. And I built that for bait. --(Birdwhistell laughs)-- She in the meantime had married some guy from Europe. That lasted about ten years. And uh--but she loves that house. And she got so she came back more, and now she spends at least six months a year, right here on the farm.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you get to see her half the year.

YOUNG: That's the only reason I did that house, is bait. And that rarely works out. So I was lucky there. So I have my son and his grandchildren, his children full time. And I have her about half time, so.

BIRDWHISTELL: And a great daughter-in-law.

YOUNG: Yeah. Well yes, I do. Yeah, yeah, that's right.

BIRDWHISTELL: I worked with her on the--

YOUNG: Yeah, yeah, she is--

BIRDWHISTELL: --on the public library board back in the seventies.

YOUNG: --she's super, yeah. So you can, you can gauge those things and--my advice to you that I'd, I'd send my daughter out here at Transy or the 00:56:00University of Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: Makes sense--makes sense.

YOUNG: The interesting thing to me is, if you're going to take integral calcu--calculus at, at MIT, or you're going to take it out here at the University of Kentucky, either you can pass the damn examination or you can't. You either--how are you going to learn it better up there than here?

BIRDWHISTELL: You either know it or you don't know, right?

YOUNG: Now they may be some subjective subjects, like literature, this, that, and the other, you might get, but even there uh--and the motivation doesn't come from, doesn't come from any of those sources. I don't think I was motivated by my parents, or by any teacher, ever, and certainly not the church. That'd be the last place you'd be motivated.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, I was at a forum this morning, talking about the presidential search at UK, talking about what institutions are like, and--

YOUNG: yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: --and uh, the topic kept coming up as a, a president that will lead us to--top twenty status.


YOUNG: Well.

BIRDWHISTELL: What do you make of that?

YOUNG: Well that's a--I think that's a uh--interestingly I, my wife asked me who was on the--UK board. I couldn't name anybody. I don't even know the chairman, so I got a l--

BIRDWHISTELL: You don't know Billy Joe Miles?

YOUNG: No I don't know him from Adam's house cat.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

YOUNG: No. So--anyway I got a list of them, I might want--know one or two--I don't think I know any of them. But uh, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting.

YOUNG: They've got that search committee and they are having town meetings all over Kentucky. I think that's all jackass. It's all jackass. If you don't know, if you don't know what qualities you're looking for, to head a school.

BIRDWHISTELL: I'm that type.

YOUNG: Uh, I had hired Charlie--Shearer

BIRDWHISTELL: Shearer, yeah.

YOUNG: And before we had Charlie, we had a search committee made up of intelligent--board members, four--four or five of us, I was one of them and we 00:58:00picked that guy David uh, Brown. He was chancellor, that's the number two spot, in Miami of Ohio. He looked like he was heaven sent. He got down here and 'Peters Principle' was--imm--immediat--immediately avail--a--apparent to me.

BIRDWHISTELL: He kicked right in, huh?

YOUNG: He had, he had been promoted one time too many. He's not a college president. And the only action in--twenty-three years as chairman uh--I wasn't overt about it, but I let him go, in the Spring, and I had faculty support and everybody else, all that. But I took the initiative, I didn't see any sense killing three years to be polite. And then I urged the board to uh, to elect Charles Shearer whom I knew, and who I tried to get--to be president before they got that Brown guy. He's been the best president they've had since Henry Clay.


BIRDWHISTELL: So what makes, what makes President Shearer successful and President Wethington--

YOUNG: Well they're just, they're--I can't interview a guy and tell you how he is going to turn out but I sure can hell tell you after two or three months or six months.

BIRDWHISTELL: After you spend some time with them, yeah. I understand.

YOUNG: It's just like a teacher, they say you can't evaluate teachers, all of us know, or knew who was good and who was bad, whether you liked them or not. And uh, uh--Charlie, we brought Charlie down, to straighten up an accounting mess. And Charlie's background, he is, he is, he is not a, he is not a scholar in the usual--

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, right.

YOUNG: --definition. The reason I like Charlie, he was finance vice president at Albion College. He had all the characteristic--you sit down and talk to you, like you, I like you.


YOUNG: But I don't know what the hell you can do. But I trust you and, you 01:00:00know, you come across--

BIRDWHISTELL: Thanks. I appreciate that.

YOUNG: The same with Charlie. He came down here and he would, became vice-president of Transylvania, for finance. And he was superb, straightened us out. And in the meantime, during that period at night, in off season he got his doctorate. That impressed the hell out of me. I don't think he was any smarter after the doctorate than before.

BIRDWHISTELL: But he went --------(??)

YOUNG: But at least he had the ambition--to do that, he knew it was vital to his inv--advancement. I don't think there is any way that you get a guy out here to run and you--they won't pick anybody out here consider anybody that doesn't have a PhD. I'll tell you that right off. Now what does that mean? Most PhDs I know are really dumber than average. Well wouldn't you agree?


BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--Oh I don't know.

YOUNG: Well I don't think that's strictly true, I'm, I'm--

BIRDWHISTELL: I know what you mean.

YOUNG: --I'm making, trying to make a little point.

BIRDWHISTELL: I know you are.

YOUNG: But--the certain impracticability about a guy that goes to school forever instead of learning to do something.

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--that's right.

YOUNG: And--but that was a basis I picked Charlie, and then--immediately he had, he has a rapport with the students, and uh--he was delightful to work with, of course I think that I am an A one chairman. Uh, I can say that at my age, basically because I, I don't worry the hell out of anybody.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you all had a good working relationship.

YOUNG: Yeah but I had it with everybody.

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand.

YOUNG: But I don't uh--I, I, I've never been on the campus out there unless he asked me to come out there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm. But it, it's so important--regardless of the size of the institution, for the board chair and the president to have a good relationship.

YOUNG: Well it is, but uh, uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: When it doesn't have a good one, it doesn't work very well.

YOUNG: Well he doesn't, well it, no, it make, makes it very difficult, and 01:02:00uh--but I think they go into a lot of gyrations out here, uh--


YOUNG: --for nothing, if those guys, if you and I don't know what to look for in a college pro--what would you look for in a college president? First you got to have a PhD.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, experience.

YOUNG: You just got a lot of worry behind you there. And uh, then you look at his experience, and uh--you're going to get two people, two kind a people, you either get people, they, they'll be from academia regardless.


YOUNG: Academia or whatever it is. Uh, they'll, either will have been a college president somewhere and they're--upwardly mobile, uh, or they'll be number two somewhere--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

YOUNG: --or three.

BIRDWHISTELL: Most likely they'll be the--

YOUNG: That's right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Number two, number --------(??)


BIRDWHISTELL: I didn't speak at the forum today, but--it seems to me that--a search committee could try to be boldened by selection.


YOUNG: I would think, I would think if I were a chairman of the--University of Kentucky, that I would get the, the best professional firm in the United States to seek out candidates.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. Um-hm. They've done that, I think.

YOUNG: Have they done that?

BIRDWHISTELL: I don't know if they got the best firm, but they got--


BIRDWHISTELL: I don't know if they chose the best firm, but they chose a firm, yeah.

YOUNG: Sure, I'm sure they chose good--and I would just take it from there.



BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. That'll be interesting, that will be interesting.

YOUNG: But I've gone, I've, I've, I've had experience in uh, in selecting uh--chief executives uh, uh--like with Royal Crown Cola Company, we went through, we went through some trying times to get the right president. I finally hired the right one myself. But I don't, I don't know what, what basis that uh--well --(coughs)--In the first place he had a lot of integrity, that has 01:04:00to be high on the list, and uh, and if he doesn't have the ability to get along with people, you're lost, I don't care what you are in, unless you're in pure science--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

YOUNG: --but even in medicine, if a doctor can't get along with people, he has a difficult time.--(coughs)--

BIRDWHISTELL: That integrity issue, that--

YOUNG: Well integrity almost is a given, you, you don't always recognize it, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: You don't always get it, but--and you--


BIRDWHISTELL: One does not always get it with the people you hire, you know.

YOUNG: No you don't.

BIRDWHISTELL: You've worked with so many of the UK presidents uh, in terms of--

YOUNG: Well I've known good many of them, clear back to Frank McVey, but I never with any, I worked with Otis, I reckon. I had a little bit to do with uh, Otis coming, maybe in the, in the--entertainment or welcoming way or something, but I knew Otis before he came here. I didn't know him, I knew him when he applied for the job, but I like Otis, and I helped recruit him.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was going to say, he was, he was recruited pretty hard--he 01:05:00didn't uh--

YOUNG: I thought he was a splendid president. His, his main fault that was--overly sensitive to the press, he just could not deal with the press.

BIRDWHISTELL: It hurt him.

YOUNG: Or he couldn't take what the press dished out.

BIRDWHISTELL: Overtime he couldn't, yeah, that's for sure, that's for sure.

YOUNG: Yeah. Roselle was good, I liked Roselle, I like Jack Oswald.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm, I did too.

YOUNG: But they all--sort of fell on their swords, I think. Jack was hell bent on moving off campus.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, yeah. He actually moved off campus.

YOUNG: He may have, I forget.

BIRDWHISTELL: Out to Landsdown--hmm.

YOUNG: Did he? He wanted to buy that house that George Kerry--later bought or had then. Uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: I went and spent four days with uh--Jack Oswald, up in Pennsylvania.

YOUNG: Did you?

BIRDWHISTELL: Interviewing him when that was --------(??)

YOUNG: Did he do a good job up there?

BIRDWHISTELL: Uh, I think he did.

YOUNG: I liked Jack, and I liked his wife Rose, and uh, uh--


BIRDWHISTELL: You don't hear many people say that.

YOUNG: That superficial issue of where he lived uh--that's the only think I can associate with why he left here. He upset a lot of people.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, one story would be that uh--he got injected into the 1967 gubernatorial campaign. Henry Ward said that uh--if Louie Nunn was elected he was going fire Jack Oswald. And--

YOUNG: Who was Jack for, he was with--

BIRDWHISTELL: Well see, J--of course Oswald was close to Combs and Breathitt--

YOUNG: Of course Henry Ward--well--Wilk--well--well--I for--I forget, I, I forget the deal that probably got it, it on--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, but it all got --------(??)

YOUNG: Then Roselle came along, he couldn't get along with Wilkinson.

BIRDWHISTELL: No. He sure couldn't.

YOUNG: That was his weak point. I advised uh--I like David Roselle, particularly his wife.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um--hm. She was nice.

YOUNG: I begged him--to make Wallace Wilkinson chairman of the--UK board, 01:07:00that's what Wallace wanted. That was a practical thing to do. And there was a hundred years precedent. Up until the time that Wendell Ford was too lazy to do it, the governor was always chairman of the board. And there is no way for a governor to be chairman of the board and not be sympathetic to the problems at the University of Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's, that's absolutely right.

YOUNG: And of course, politically, it, it incensed the other schools. That's what he should have done, I went down to the newspaper and talked to the editor and publisher--I don't know who that was then.

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

YOUNG: Whether it was Don Carter or--who was down there--whe--it was, it was--

BIRDWHISTELL: John Carroll was there for awhile.

YOUNG: It might have been John Carroll who it was--wasn't Creed Black, he and I didn't get along much. But anyway, It, It, It--I told them what I s--urged them to uh, to support the idea, but they never would and nothing was ever. If David 01:08:00had done that, he would have never left here, and uh--Wallace would have made a damn good chairman. Wallace was about as intelligent a governor as I've ever known.


YOUNG: Oh yeah, he was, he was smart, he knew more about government than anybody I ever talked to--any governor I've ever talked to. And uh--but there are other things he didn't--peo--people didn't like about Wallace and Wallace always had a hard time here in Lexington. But that's all--that's all David Roselle had to do.

BIRDWHISTELL: Why wouldn't he do it?

YOUNG: Well he's just dumb. That's impractical. I told him to get along with Wallace, because Wallace wasn't going there but four years.


YOUNG: It's a lead pipe cinch he'd get rid of Wallace.

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--That's right.

YOUNG: But he would out and make speech that were--defama--defaming uh--Wallace.


BIRDWHISTELL: I know, I know.

YOUNG: He was dumb politically.

BIRDWHISTELL: That was just--

YOUNG: See Elvis Stahr was probably the brightest person ever graduated out here.


YOUNG: In, in a lot of way, he ma--he never made a B. I made four of them. See how much better he was than I am!

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--

YOUNG: He never made a B, and he was a Rhodes Scholar.


YOUNG: Not only that, he was a good athlete, he was captain of the tennis team.


YOUNG: Oh yeah, yeah. He should've been president of the University of Kentucky. That's the only damn thing he wanted. Came--they came from Fulton, Kentucky, and Elvis sort of wound up, he was president of West Virginia, then he went down to Indiana.


YOUNG: And then he--I always thought his life was a failure. I reckon he's--is he still living or not?

BIRDWHISTELL: No, he died.

YOUNG: Died, didn't he?

BIRDWHISTELL: He was--head of the Audubon Society.

YOUNG: He was a s--he was a senior when I was a freshman, that's where I knew him. I've know he and Dotty all--him and Dotty all my life. Then he went with 01:10:00the uh--what was that uh, preservation crowd.

BIRDWHISTELL: Audubon Society.

YOUNG: Yeah, went--Audubon Society, well that's, that has to be the most unrewarding--job in the world for somebody as bright as Elvis. And uh--but anyway he fell out with Happy Chandler, in the fifties--second administration.

BIRDWHISTELL: And that did it.

YOUNG: It did.

BIRDWHISTELL: And your friend Frank Dickey got it.


BIRDWHISTELL: And your friend Fan--Frank Dickey got to be president.

YOUNG: Yeah Frank got the job. Frank was my best friend in high school, best friend. He was a top, top student, his mother was a school teacher, he was a poor boy. Then I r--we left high school, we separated, he went to Transylvania and I went to UK and--I guess our lives went out, we're still friends, I still 01:11:00have a lot of respect for him, but uh--I don't have any--feeling that he was--capable of being college president.

BIRDWHISTELL: He was awfully--

YOUNG: I think he'd have been a great academic dean or something like that, but--and he only lasted a short time, didn't he?

BIRDWHISTELL: A short time.

YOUNG: Yeah.



BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, from--seven, seven years.

YOUNG: Yeah?

BIRDWHISTELL: Eight years. Of course Oswald follows him, so uh--

YOUNG: But it just shows you that an organization is not completely dependent on the chief executive officer. They're important, they run the company and they determine the future and certainly in industry to a large degree. But uh, just like our country uh--even though I like a check and balance up there--if uh, if Gore gets in the country is not going to--the course's not going to 01:12:00change hardly at all, or if Bush gets in there. They'll only be in there, at the most, eight years. And if they really goof off they'll only be in there four years, so--it's not earth shaking.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think it's been good for Kentucky that the uh, governor can uh--run for reelection?

YOUNG: I did at first and I've changed my mind.

BIRDWHISTELL: Have you? Already. What changed your--why did you, at first, support it and what, what has caused you to change your mind?

YOUNG: Well I thought that he couldn't get his feet set firmly on the ground until, until later. But uh--I was down there with John and of course John wanted to be in--he couldn't run Ed, he woun--he wound up and Martha Lane was governor, and then he ran against uh, uh--Wallace. John ran a terrib--dumb campaign. Wallace came up with the uh, with the lottery, which is a terrible 01:13:00thing, but John should've just come up with his own lottery, that's all he had to do and he'd have won the election in a minute, and turn, turn Phyllis loose. He, he loved that better than anything, he w--he was a good governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you really think--

YOUNG: He was a good governor because he wasn't--because he, he didn't, he didn't, he didn't have any interest in the day-to-day operation.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now see I have people give him credit for uh, for uh, giving the legislature independence and bringing good people into--in the government.

YOUNG: He did, he did do that.

BIRDWHISTELL: But I, I don't hear a lot of people--a lot of people don't--say that he was a good governor.

YOUNG: Oh yeah, perfectly honest down there the whole time.


YOUNG: He had a lot of us that--he turn me lease--he turned me lose on leases down there, I know who is crooked and who is straight down there now.


YOUNG: They're all, they're all back in there.



YOUNG: I've straightened most the leases out.

BIRDWHISTELL: Was it tough as a--we're going to talk about that period in more detail down the road, but--was it tough as a, as a--business person to go down there and, and see how state government was run?

YOUNG: No, no. John, interestingly was uh--he micro-managed Kentucky chicken, I was on that board, he--

BIRDWHISTELL: Right, that's what I was going to--

YOUNG: Some, somewhere he learned to delegate. And when he brought us down there in Frankfort, the only thing he did, he was a cheerleader, and he encouraged us, and we all worked down there practically for nothing, and I'd say every man down there, that had left there, I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about the younger people that had their career, they've all been very successful.


YOUNG: And I believe any governor can get people to do that, because I think that most of us--especially those that have done pretty well, have a guilty conscience about not running for office, and uh--


BIRDWHISTELL: Brown was the only one uh--that I can think of, who really brought in--people like that.

YOUNG: Only one I can think of.

BIRDWHISTELL: Patton sure hasn't.

YOUNG: Brought in Bill Sturgill, brought in me, and--which is a mar--miracle. I went down there only because I had a guilty conscience.


YOUNG: The only reason. Only reason in the world--I was unwilling to run for office and I feel I ought to be ashamed of myself. How can you sit here and criticize public official when you won't run or do anything yourself?

BIRDWHISTELL: Why wouldn't you run?

YOUNG: It just wasn't my thing.

BIRDWHISTELL: Not in your nature?

YOUNG: Wasn't my thing. But I feel guilty about it. Then I got Foster Pettit, I got Foster to come down there, he was the ex mayor of Lexington and he was good.


YOUNG: And we got all kind of good people. Uh, Jerry Abramson got--I didn't 01:16:00know him, but John got him from Louisville, later mayor of Louisville. I think Jerry is first class. Everybody he got was good. If there was any dishonesty down there, I don't know. Interestingly, he passed every appointment by me. And my job was to find out something about them, and I would do what--checking I could, I'd come up. In the years I was there, he never appointed a soul that I had a negative report on.


YOUNG: And he never, and he never failed to appoint anybody I had a plus appointment on. And nobody was appointed to anything unless they went through me--the first two years, anyway.


YOUNG: So they wasn't, wasn't any, wasn't any, there was never a political crony--appointed to any board that I'm aware of. Interesting.

BIRDWHISTELL: It is --(laughs)--I look forward to g--talking about that in a 01:17:00little more detail.

YOUNG: Yeah, well--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's, that's a--

YOUNG: I may not be too accurate. I probably have a more romantic--ideal of what went on there, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, I'll ask you some questions that'll help you on that, and uh--

YOUNG: You getting back to this--getting a president at the University of Kentucky, I think he'd be duck soup to do it.

BIRDWHISTELL: How do you do it?

YOUNG: Well you just get a p--get a professional crowd to uh--line up the candidates, they know what they're looking for, that's all they do, and uh, uh--then you simply pick one.

BIRDWHISTELL: But isn't the hard part--


BIRDWHISTELL: --isn't the hard part what you said earlier that you can, you can tell a lot about a person by reading their resume or by having a--interview with them, maybe a session with them. But the way you really get--you don't really know what the person's going to be like--until you've spent some time with them.

YOUNG: I wouldn't enter into any long term contract unless it's, unless you can 01:18:00buy it out at some reasonable price. So you could correct a mistake. It uh--I think that it's foolish to go out to have a public forum, would you go to a public forum on that subject?

BIRDWHISTELL: Well I went to uh, I went to the one this morning as a--to observe.

YOUNG: Well you probably went out of curiosity--(Birdwhistell laughs)--but--would it amount to anything? Couldn't possibly. There are thousands of college presidents, there's been thousands, there's nothing mysterious, it's just he is the chief executive of a--of a public organization.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah they--they're certainly going about it like they're trying to g--call a minister for them. That --------(??)

YOUNG: I'd say it was something as, I'd say something as large and prestigious as the University of Kentucky, I'd have a tendency to get someone who had been president, where I could go and really check on what, what the results were. See the guy we picked for Transylvania wasn't the top guy. He was the Chancellor of the second or third guy.



YOUNG: And he was un--un--unproven. See it's just as hard to run Transylvania as it is UK.


YOUNG: Maybe not quite as hard, but uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: The same, same issues.

YOUNG: But if Transylvania went, when they replaced Charlie, when ever he retires and go against the number two man at UK, it'd be a mistake. Either that or get an inside man. The reason we got by with Charlie Shearer was, that we could look at him for several years. He was the number two or three or forth guy at Albion. If we'd brought him from Albion to have been president, uh, it might have been risky.

BIRDWHISTELL: Have you met this--president at Eastern?


BIRDWHISTELL: The president at EKU, Eastern?

YOUNG: No I don't know him.

BIRDWHISTELL: He's, he is on the television and radio, he is --------(??)


YOUNG: Obviously, obviously a president of a public university has first to get al--first he has to have, be intelligent. And uh, he has to have experience--direct experience is the best, as the chief e--the big difference between the chief executive officer and anybody else in an organization. That includes churches, or--General Motors, or anything else. Uh, and I think he has to have a demonstrated ability that he can get along with all kinds of people. If I have any strength, I think that's it--

BIRDWHISTELL: And you can make a tough decision.


BIRDWHISTELL: And you can make a tough decision.

YOUNG: Well yeah, you don't have to be obvious about it.


YOUNG: Sometimes no decision is a tough decision. But this idea of being decisive all this, that and the other, knowing what to do, that's a lot of baloney too, uh. Uh, usually what you have to do is pretty obvious and--but you 01:21:00have to get along with--dissenting people, and one thing another, it uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: It's always intrigued me that --------(??)

YOUNG: Charlie, Charlie seems to lack a little of that. Charlie Wethington.

BIRDWHISTELL: Lack a little of what?

YOUNG: Well he gets in, he gets in situations he shouldn't get into. What did he get into? Why did they give him hell recent? Well that big mess about him, his contract extension. That was handled like a bunch of children.

BIRDWHISTELL: It was a mess.

YOUNG: And I love Ned Breathitt and uh--I don't know how he ever got into that but that's water over the dam, but, but I think Charlie is a superb president. He is a little out of context with uh--they don't want to get a president in 01:22:00there on twenty year contract, or ten year contract, it doesn't make any difference what they pay him, if they can get out of it easily. You get down the road, you'll know quickly whether you got the right man, if you don't have the right man, you got to have the guts to--let him go.

BIRDWHISTELL: You think UK is uh--ready for a--minority president, or a woman president?

YOUNG: I don't think they're big deals, I think you just ask--I, I'd say as backward a state as Ken--as, as Kentucky, why should we be leaders at something like that? Let Ohio State have a Black one, or a woman--I've, I don't, I'll think, I don't think that's even germane, that'll be the last think I'd do.


BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. Unless that candidate was the best, right?


BIRDWHISTELL: Unless that--candidate was the best in your pool.

YOUNG: Well it's best but it's not likely to be--not likely to be.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think university presidents in general have a hard time dealing with--owners and entrepreneurs and capitalists, or is that a good relationship generally?

YOUNG: I, I don't know whether I could comment on that or not--

BIRDWHISTELL: You got a good relationship --------(??)

YOUNG: I have a good relation, but that's my nature and uh, uh--I've wanted to--see I had a good e--I had a good experience at UK, and I've, I, I feel I have an honest debt, and uh--I think by helping UK as a uh--fits my criteria 01:24:00for--that type of thing. See I never got involved with UK until the library came along. The reason I gave to the library, I thought that without private money, that it would be long becoming a reality.

BIRDWHISTELL: And you were right.

YOUNG: And uh, uh--everything else out there, is just like uh--the engineering college, particularly the mechanical engineering department wanted to build a new building, have raised a lot money, I haven't given them a cent. I think that's the obligation of the state to build that. To substitute uh, private money for public money is easy, and UK is going to raise six hundred million in this new thing, I don't know where all that money is going. I'm trying to get--eighty million of it to go to the library endowment. And I think that uh, if we do that, the excellence of the offerings, whether they be electronic or 01:25:00printed or whatever, I think will always be first class and they'll be there forever. It's the only endowment but that will be my swan song--

BIRDWHISTELL: Well--um-hm--

YOUNG: --of anything major and I, I've raised about twenty f--five million.

BIRDWHISTELL: That is a, that is a lasting contribution--


BIRDWHISTELL: --that is a lasting contribution at a university, when you--endow a library collection, it--

YOUNG: But what they're going to do with the other six hundred million, I don't know, but if they aren't careful, they'll simply replace tax dollars that should go to UK.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, and then that--

YOUNG: Then I think you absolutely waste the uh, private money.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. That's an interesting--issue, trying to--UK can't be selec--successful, ultimately successful without the private money, but as you say, trying to do that while maintaining the pressure on the public side--

YOUNG: See I would never give to the business school out there. Now Bob Gatton 01:26:00has giving them about fifteen million dollars, it's got his name on it. I think all he's done is replace tax money.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, that's tough.

YOUNG: That's fifteen million that could go to Transylvania, or Center, or somewhere where they have no other--source.

BIRDWHISTELL: Where there is no state money coming in.

YOUNG: Only mo--only money I will ever given UK will be for the library--and the fraternity house of all things.

BIRDWHISTELL: Which looks good --(laughs)--I drive by it every day, Mr. Young.

YOUNG: But the motivation for the fraternity house was that I'd hope that, that uh, jealousy and greed, that type of uh, reaction with the other groups, that there will be maybe ten or fifteen houses just like it on the campus, and that'd be a bonanza for the University of Kentucky. They own the SAE house.

BIRDWHISTELL: It sure would be bonanza.

YOUNG: The SAEs don't own it. So that was a motivation there.


YOUNG: And uh--you can hardly give out to fraternity system, but it's uh, it's 01:27:00a established fact, the fact to do is deal with them, but you don't want them out there and--with SAE house is simply the best dormitory--that the university has.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's very nice. Well we're about of tape for this time. Do you stop here for today, Mr. Young?

YOUNG: Yeah we better quit. --------(??)

BIRDWHISTELL: And then next time what I'd like to do is pickup with uh--your work with John W. Brown, Jr. sort of your impression of John W. Brown, Sr., and uh, maybe ever Colonel Sanders, and then get into uh--your role in Spindletop.

YOUNG: Well.

BIRDWHISTELL: If that's ok. Because that's uh, that's a great story there trying to--make that happen.

YOUNG: Who is ever going to listen to all this crap?

BIRDWHISTELL: --(laughs)--I don't, I don't know.

YOUNG: Does anybody ever go out there and listen to these tapes.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yes sir. They--

[End of Interview]