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MOYEN: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Foster Ockerman Sr. who served in the Kentucky House of Representatives. The interview is conducted by Eric Moyen for the University of Kentucky Oral History Program and the Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project. The interview took place on January 21, 2004, in Lexington, Kentucky.

[Pause in recording.]

OCKERMAN: I would guess, uh, forty year, or fifty years ago.

MOYEN: He was minister at, at the church there?

OCKERMAN: Yeah, um-hm.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: You're not old, old enough to remember when we had a retracted revival meeting at Asbury College.

MOYEN: Sure.

OCKERMAN: Are you?

MOYEN: Well, actually no.


MOYEN: Um, I know about them from my in-laws.


MOYEN: I hear all about them.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, Daddy was a pastor there at the church at the time that was going on. And the, after a period of time, the college said, "Well, if you are, this is absorbing too much of the, uh, time and 00:01:00attention of the students. We, we run the college here, too. Not a revival." So they went and moved down to the Methodist church. And, uh, so, Daddy said, "Well, you have to have some supervision."

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: After I think a short period of time, he said, "Well, why don't you attend all of these services you're having down here?" Well, he said, "I've got other things to do as a pastor besides come down here and attract a revival." So, they kind of got irritated with him, and, uh, so he didn't stay there very long.

MOYEN: I had heard, and, and of course, you would know better than I would, pretty tough being a minister--

OCKERMAN: --yeah--

MOYEN: --or probably a preacher's kid as well.

OCKERMAN: Um-hm. It is.

MOYEN: Did you, did you have to move much?

OCKERMAN: Oh, yeah. We moved every four years basically. I was born in Nelson County, a little place called Boone's Chapel, and my father 00:02:00entered the ministry when I was two years old. He came to, uh, Wilmore, and went to school, and, uh, then we left--

MOYEN: --he, did he attend college or seminary there?

OCKERMAN: College and seminary.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And he taught at the seminary many years later, he taught the Bible course at the seminary.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: Uh, when he was district superintendent of Frankfort district over there -----------(??).

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, anyhow, we left there and went to, uh, Woodlawn, Kentucky, which is a small, uh, town outside of Bardstown.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Nelson County.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, he had Woodlawn and Beech Fork. One Sunday, we'd go to Beech Fork, and the other we'd stay at home at Woodlawn. And so, we stayed there four years.

MOYEN: At least you didn't have to do both on the same Sunday, right?

OCKERMAN: That's right, that's right. Then we moved to Stanford. And then we moved to Middlesboro. So that's four, eight, twelve. Uh, and 00:03:00I graduated from Middlesboro High School, and then I went two years to Lincoln Memorial University.

MOYEN: Just across the border there.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Tennessee, Irvin, Tennessee. And I was working for a construction company; I would work from three in the afternoon to eleven at night, weather permitting.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And was going to college. So, I did that for two years. Then they, we completed the flood wall project, we called it, around Middlesboro, cause Middlesboro flooded, uh, just every time they had a great big rain.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, so, I went to Paducah for the summer, and in 1937, and, uh, started the flood wall around Paducah. And then, I came back, came here to university in 1939.

MOYEN: Okay. Uh, did you mind moving? Was that, were you pretty--


OCKERMAN: --well, no I used to--

MOYEN: --laid back about that, or?

OCKERMAN: --I just got used to it.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: You get used to it.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: Uh, it doesn't, it never did make that much to me, I'm sure it does to a lot of people, though.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Because if you live in a rural community like we did, in Woodlawn, uh, you think about, well, I'm going to Stanford and that's a much bigger town than Woodlawn is. Woodlawn is just a little village.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, and then from Stanford we went to Middlesboro.

MOYEN: What were your thoughts or impressions of Bell County, as I, I guess you were in high school at that time?

OCKERMAN: Yes, I was in high school and then two years of college. Uh, well, I liked Middlesboro. Middlesboro was a nice town. Uh, it was rather sophisticated in that they had a lot of the influence of the English companies that--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --ran all the coal mining, and the men were interesting around Middlesboro. The, uh, union activity was a little bothersome.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: After I left there, I had, uh, a friend or two. You never heard of Fork Ridge Coal Company, I don't suppose?

MOYEN: No, I haven't.

OCKERMAN: That's, that's over the state line in Tennessee. They were all unionized. And, uh, the, uh, some of the company people belonged to our, the Methodist church there in Middlesboro.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Southern Methodist Church. And, uh, they had a big battle up there one time, and killed two or three friends of mine that, uh, I'd gone to school with in Middlesboro, because they came down to Middlesboro and went to school. And then Harlan had a lot of, uh, unrest about that time, so it scared my mother to death. She was afraid. (laughs) She was afraid even to drive in the car down through Middlesboro.

MOYEN: Um-hm.


OCKERMAN: So, but I liked Middlesboro; it was a right nice town.

MOYEN: So, a couple other things we've talked about basic, uh, basically faith or religion, some of your education, and then just your surroundings growing up. How would you say that influenced your political philosophy in any way? If it did at all?

OCKERMAN: Well, I think the, you know, a lot of people who grow up in a minister's home, and get, uh, they get involved in religious activities, and some enter the ministry, or something that's close to it. But I think early on, I decided I wasn't going to do that. That, that really didn't suit me. Uh, I know when I finally decided that I was going to go to law school, my father, uh, questioned me quite a bit about that. He didn't think that was necessarily the right profession for me. But he didn't object, he just.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I think he would've rather I'd done something else.

MOYEN: Um-hm, um-hm. Could you tell me a little bit about, um, were there any educators, either teachers or professors, that had an impact on you--

OCKERMAN: --no--

MOYEN: --in your personal or political since?

OCKERMAN: No. I don't think so.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: But I, I used to hear Breathitt, you know, I managed Breathitt's campaign for governor--

MOYEN: --right--

OCKERMAN: --in 1963. And, uh, and I'd hear Breathitt talk about this schoolteacher he had, and that schoolteacher he had, one of every four years he'd been, he'd been governor(??).

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: ------------(??) come home to see some.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: No, I don't think that, I'm sure they did, but I don't, didn't recognize it, probably.

MOYEN: Okay. Now, when did you graduate from the University of Kentucky with your--

OCKERMAN: --I graduated--

MOYEN: -- ----------(??)--

OCKERMAN: --I had a combined degree that you could take at that time. The first year of law school counted as your--


MOYEN: --okay--

OCKERMAN: --as your last year of college. So, I graduated from university, college in 1941. And, uh, then, uh, the war--

MOYEN: --no interruption--

OCKERMAN: --in December, when I had finished, I was in my second year of law school. So, I joined the, uh, navy in, uh, February of '42. I guess it was just after, two months after December seventh. And, uh, I got in the B7 Program. And this fellow, the chief petty officer, he had hash marks down here, and I thought he was a real old man. You know, he was probably thirty years old.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, he said, "Well. What do you want to be called?" And he said, "I've got three opportunities: April, June, and August." I said, "Well, please put me down for August, because I will then be able 00:09:00to take the bar examination."

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: It was my second year and you could take the bar after two years. Would be able to take my bar exam, and then go on into service. So, that's when I was called, in August of '42.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, went on in the service.

MOYEN: Uh, where did you serve?

OCKERMAN: I, uh, went from midshipman school in Chicago to motor torpedo boat training center in Melville, Rhode Island, and from there to the Ellice Islands in the Pacific; Elise some people call it.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And onto Solomon Island. And then, from Solomon Islands, I came back home and was an instructor at the PT Training Center in Melville, Rhode Island. We commissioned a new squadron, which we took out to the Philippines. So, uh, I was in the Philippines when the war ended.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: I was executive officer of a PT squadron.


MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, and I went on a PT tender, you know, a tender takes care of the PT boats.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, as executive officer. And took command of that ship, uh, while, while we are on our way back to the states, and then I couldn't get out of service, because I'd turned down a lieutenant commander's, uh, rank, if I would stay in for six months. And, uh, when I was skipper of the ship, and was being de-commissioned, they wouldn't let me out until I got the ship de-commissioned. So, I had to stay in the extra six months--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --but didn't, didn't get the rank either.

MOYEN: Um-hm. In the brief bio I saw 1942 to 1946--

OCKERMAN: --that's right--

MOYEN: --not, 1945 so that explains it.

OCKERMAN: That's, uh, I came back and went to, to law school for my second, for my third year of law school--


MOYEN: --okay--

OCKERMAN: --even though I had been admitted to the bar in '42.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Can you tell me about, a little bit about your time in the navy? One, did you happen to see any type of combat, and then two, could you, could you explain just a little bit about your feelings when you heard about either one of the atomic bombs being dropped and then the, uh, surrender, about the Japanese?

OCKERMAN: Well, I'll take your first part of your question. Uh, when I was in the Ellice Island, primarily what we did was we had four PT boats that we patrolled the ATO, and, uh, the, the Japs would come along and bomb us, or something once in awhile, but relatively little action at that point. In the Solomons, by the, the time I got in the Solomons, the Battle of Guadalcanal had just been completed, and, uh, we were engaged primarily in fighting barge traffic. The Japanese had these, uh, barges in erect armor, and, uh, had the, them that sat low in the water. They would, uh, send supplies down to the troops, where 00:12:00we, where the United States had cut them off.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

Because they were in this -----------(??) move, they would go around, leave the Japs down here, and get another island up there. And so, so, we saw some action at that time.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And then, uh, the interesting time and interesting episode, we were at Green Island, I mean, Bougainville, Bougainville. And, uh, we were sent to view Ireland. Now you are not familiar with all that. But you go up the chain of the Solomon Islands--

MOYEN: --okay--

OCKERMAN: --and you get over into, uh, New Britain and, uh, New Guinea, 00:13:00around in that area. Still in the South Pacific.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Okay.

OCKERMAN: And they sent us up there, three boats to, uh, pick up, uh, some Fiji Islander who was with a coast watcher. Now a coast watcher was primarily Australian who had been in the, that chain of islands, and had been managing, uh, plantations, or something for the English or French owners, whichever might happen to be.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: When the war came along, well, a lot of those stayed in the, and had their own radio, which they could see what was going on, and radio back down the, the line, as they called it, to what activity there might be. And so, we had these Fiji Islanders and a coast watcher off(??) of New Ireland. And, uh, I believe(??) it was New Ireland or New Britain, one the one(??). So, they sent up us there to pick up these Fiji Islanders. So, they were very, you know, very 00:14:00elaborate. They give you a signal of Ks, and it would be responding with another letter from on shore. You would slip in and pick these people up and slip out. Well, we got it, must've been about twenty or thirty miles from where we were to pick up these people, we saw this great big light in the sky. Well, as we got on it, it turned out it was a great big bonfire. And, uh, what had happened is, the Fiji Islanders and this coast watcher had gotten all the wood they could, and set fire, so these wanted to be sure we knew where we were going to find them. (both laugh) And I asked them, I said, "Why do you do all of that?" I said, "We understood the Jap's were right on your behind." He said, "Well, they're about twelve hours behind us, and we were relying on you all getting here.

MOYEN: And you did, so.

OCKERMAN: And we did.

MOYEN: Okay. Um--

OCKERMAN: --Also, one other thing in the Solomon Islands. They had a battle between, uh, a, uh, two or three Japanese destroyers and a 00:15:00cruiser or two. And three, uh, Jap-, uh, three destroyers on our side, and they sank two of the Japanese ships, and just had. So, they sent PT boats, four of us up there to see if we could find any American survivors, because two of our destroyers had run together, and had cut the bow from one of them. It didn't sink it, but it cut the bow off. And, of course, the Americans that were in the bow, we went up there looking for them. And cruised around through all the water and just Japanese all over the place in the water. And, uh, didn't find any Americans, so we began to pick up injured Japanese, some of them didn't want to have anything to do with us.


OCKERMAN: So we picked up ninety Japanese sailors out in the water, 00:16:00and took them and, uh, turned them over to the army base not too far from there. Which I think, at that time, was the largest capture of Japanese, uh, people, personnel in the armed forces that had occurred, because most of them, you know, just, they wouldn't surrender.

MOYEN: Right, right. Huh. That's a good story. Any other events like that ---------(??)--

OCKERMAN: --oh, about that, that atomic bomb?

MOYEN: Or, or even before that, any other significant events that someone might not read in the history book, but are, are worthwhile stories, like, like you just mentioned, that you can think of?

OCKERMAN: Well, I don't know. When the war ended, uh, we, we had, uh, I went out with Squadron 38 and then I transferred into Squadron 12, which was an older squadron. And, uh, when the war ended, we stripped the PT boats, which were wood. And, uh, took the, uh, machine guns, 00:17:00and the, uh, engines, and the radio, radar equipment off of it. They would put them up on the beach and set fire to them. So we burned up, I don't know how many PT boats out there, two or three squadrons of them. And, uh, as to, uh, the hyd-, the atomic bomb, we were scheduled to go from, uh, Philippines to Japan, in the invasion of Japan. They were going to get us there by, you could put PT boats into an LSD, which is called a landing ship dock. And lower the half-end of the, the, uh, ship in the water, and you could run in there, and then they would pump the water out, and you're up on these chucks. So, what they were going to do is take us up there with, uh, within range of the shore, with a contingent of marines on each boat, and, uh, point 00:18:00us towards the Japanese coast, and say, "There's where you're going. Goodbye, boys, we're leaving." And, uh, so we were glad that, uh, ------------(??)---------- the bombs dropped.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: We had heard rumors that one of our cruisers, I've forgotten the name of it, had been sunk as it was coming out to the Pacific, in a, uh, very unusual circumstance. And no one had knew what exactly had happened to it. The And, uh, the rumor was that they were carrying one of these bombs, and, uh, that it, uh, may have had something to do with their ship being blown up. But anyhow, we had heard rumors that there was going to be, uh, an atomic bomb dropped. But, uh, when it really happened we were very pleased to hear that.


MOYEN: Um-hm, um-hm. So, you mentioned earlier, you came back and finished a final year of law school. Was there any question about whether or not you would stay in Lexington, or, or, how did, how did you make that decision?

OCKERMAN: Well, I, having traveled and moved around, I had no real town that I called home.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: So when I came back, my chore was to find a place to practice law when I, I already had my law license. And I finally ended up with a firm called Yancey & Martin here in Lexington. And incidentally, there, uh, I met Dick Bush. Now, you've probably never heard of Dick Bush.


OCKERMAN: He was an attorney here in Frankfort, I mean, in Lexington. I met him out in the Solomon Islands. And, uh, when, uh, I was coming back home, he asked me if I would stop and see his father, who was also 00:20:00an attorney. And, uh, Dick was an attorney; he'd been admitted to the bar. So, when I left out there, I came back and saw his father, Mr. Bush, and told him where Dick was, and this, that and the other.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: So, when I came back here after the war, I sort of had a friend. And I went to see Dick Bush, and I said, "Now Dick, uh, you need to help me find someplace to like here in Lexington?" And, uh, so, I went in with ---------(??) Yancey and Bill Martin, and they had a vacant office. Now, office space was very scarce at the time. And, uh, finally, they said, "Well, you can come over here because Sonny"- -that was Mr. Yancey's son"--was going to law school, and we're saving this place for him." Well, Sonny decided to enter the ministry, so that freed up that space. So, that's, uh, so, I happened to be the name.


MOYEN: Okay. How did you begin to get involved in politics? What were your first political encounters, or how--

OCKERMAN: --well--

MOYEN: --or how did that transpire--

OCKERMAN: --I'm -----------(??), you know, you make friends.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And I made some friends, particularly in the people, the office -----------(??), we were officing(??) in the Security Trust building. And I got involved in city politics, just working with some of our friends in the political campaigns. And, uh, first, first political campaign I really had anything to do with was, uh, in 1948 when we elected a mayor. And then in 1950, I helped organize a ticket to run for city commission, for four(??) city commissioners, because 00:22:00we(??) elected mayor in '48. And, uh, then I ended up as attorney for the city of Lexington, uh, which I was, was for nine years, from 1950 until 1959. And during that same time, I was elected three times to the legislature.

MOYEN: Right, um-hm. So, while you were serving in the legislature, you were attorney for the city?

OCKERMAN: That's right. I was, I was employee of the city, although not a full-time employee.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: But I got elected to the legislature, the, I changed the, my status to give them legal service on a contract.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: That way I could serve in the legislature, because I was not an employee of the government in the strict sense, which would violate the constitution.

MOYEN: Okay. When, when you started getting involved in the mayor's race and then the city commissioners' elections, um, who were the, 00:23:00uh, powerful, political individuals that, in Lexington at the time, probably Dick Moloney?

OCKERMAN: Dick Moloney.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: Yeah, Dick Moloney, and, uh, then we had Booth Rhodes, and, uh, Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith was a farmer out on the Jack's Creek Pike. He was chairman of the county, uh, -------------(??) park. Uh, Dick Moloney was in the legislature. Uh, but, and I was associated very much with Dick Moloney, that, uh, in my getting into politics.

MOYEN: How did your decision to run, uh, I guess it would've been in 1953, when you actually ran, how did that come about? What discussions were had? Who did you, who did you either inform that, hey, this is something I, I'd liked to do?


OCKERMAN: I talked with Dick Moloney. I represented the old Fiftieth Legislative District, which is one mile from the courthouse.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: So, I needed some people that had organization ability, and so on, in that particular area. And, uh, Dick had a pretty good organization. And, uh, so I was elected to the legislature and, uh, ran three times. And had opposition, I think, uh, either in the primary, the following ----------(??) in every one of those years that I ran.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: Sometimes I did not have any opposition in the primary.

MOYEN: Okay. Any particularly, uh, difficult races? Any that were?

OCKERMAN: Yeah, we had one which I won I think by less than 100 votes, 97 votes or something like that.

MOYEN: (laughs) Did, were you, when you served, were you one who enjoyed 00:25:00campaigning? Obviously you were involved in a number of campaigns. When you did it yourself, was that something you enjoyed, or, or were you a, one of the politicians who it was a necessary evil, so to speak?

OCKERMAN: I, I would put it in a category of a necessary evil, because it's hard work.

MOYEN: Um-hm, um-hm. What type of strategy did you employ? Did you do a lot of pounding the pavement, and?

OCKERMAN: A lot, a lot of door-to-door, uh, work. Of course, I was fortunate in being an attorney for the city, uh, all during the year, I was given publicity, a little publicity locally all the time.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, I enjoyed a good relationship with the reporters that covered city hall.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Most of it was good rather than bad.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: That helped me.

MOYEN: Now, when you ran in '53, and then began your first legislative 00:26:00session in '54, were you consciously part of one of the factions in the Democratic Party? Now obviously, in '56, it became very clear that you were not part of the Chandler faction. But did you know this beforehand, uh?

OCKERMAN: Yeah, Dick Moloney was not a part of the Chandler faction--

MOYEN: --right--

OCKERMAN: --so the line was on that side of the local political party, you were not a part of the--

MOYEN: --right--

OCKERMAN: --Chandler faction, either. And, uh, there in my first session of legislature I got to know Governor Wetherby, he was the last two years of his term, right well. And, uh, and then after my first term in the legislature, uh, Ned Breathitt, incidentally, had been chairman of the Democrat, Young Democrat Clubs of Kentucky.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: When I got involved with the Young Democrat Clubs, then I 00:27:00succeeded Breathitt as the chairman of the Young Democrat Clubs in Kentucky.

MOYEN: Now that, what year would this have been?

OCKERMAN: That would've been '54.

MOYEN: Okay, okay. So, right when you began?

OCKERMAN: Just as soon the legislature was over.

MOYEN: Okay, what did that job entail?

OCKERMAN: Well, it ---------(??), it was just helping organize Young Democrat Clubs throughout the state of Kentucky.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: But back at that time, we, the, uh, governor, Governor Wetherby, uh, and those who preceded him, Clements, they had a pretty tight, uh, organization throughout the state. And, uh, of course, there were factions, uh, in what we call the other side, the Chandler side, which really came to the fore when Chandler ran for governor.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And he was elected in, in November, I guess, of, uh, '55, and, 00:28:00and beat Combs and I was active in the Combs campaign.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And then, uh, it was, I was very much on the Combs/Wetherby/Clements side--

MOYEN: --okay, right--

OCKERMAN: --during the time of, when Chandler was governor.

MOYEN: Okay. Let me step back in your life and just ask you, did you have any idea where you were in terms of, maybe not faction at the time, but political philosophy, say, when you were either in high school, up in, in the mountains, or, um, in college, or, or during the war? Did you really begin to agree with, I guess, even in the 1930's, with the New Deal? Or, or do you recall much about Happy Chandler's 00:29:00original campaign in the thirties? Or, or where you--

OCKERMAN: --no--

MOYEN: --not concerned with that?

OCKERMAN: --no, I was, let's see, I was born in the twenties, so, thirties, when he ran for governor the first time, I was aware of it, but I was not active in any sense.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, during the war, you know, Chandler was in the United States Senate. And, uh, and he was doing a good job as a United States senator, and, uh, the news about him was good, and I was acquainted more with Chandler of, by reputation than I was any the rest of the people that I later became associated with.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But I had, to say, no, did I have any, uh, fixation about this, or that, or a theory about government, no, I did not. I don't think most people do at that age.

MOYEN: Right, um-hm.

OCKERMAN: In particularly when you are in the service for three years 00:30:00and nine months or whatever--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --you weren't thinking a whole lot about running for office, or anything like that; you were thinking about getting home.

MOYEN: Right, right. Um-hm. When you campaigned in 1953 and then served in 1954, did you have an agenda? Were, were there specific things you said, "This is what I want to accomplish when I'm here?"

OCKERMAN: Well, one thing I was very interested in, having been an attorney for the city during all that time, was, uh, recognizing at that time you had a constitutional limit of salaries of five thousand dollars a year. And it was difficult to get a good city manager. We had the city manager form of government. So, I was, uh, interested in that. I was interested in Home Rule(??)--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --for cities, And it's interesting now that, uh, we were 00:31:00interested in Home Rule, and they had a hard time getting some ------- ----(??). (Moyen laughs) Now, that, uh, the Republicans basically, uh, want to take away the Home Rule, particularly on the, on the smoking issue.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I had one(??), I don't know what they are gonna do on the, on the water company issue. I'm very deeply involved in that.

MOYEN: Um-hm. But that was an issue fifty years ago?

OCKERMAN: That was an issue fifty years ago, and then all, some things bring it right back to the fore again.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But without, uh, and without, uh, more power for the cities, which we were able to get, uh, during a period of time. And, uh, of course, I was for Combs the, uh, second time that he ran.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And ended up I served as commissioner of motor transportation 00:32:00for three years, uh, until, uh, I resigned to, uh, manage Breathitt's campaign.

MOYEN: Um-hm. When you went to Frankfort in 1954, after being elected, what in Frankfort, say, that first day you were there, really surprised you about the way things worked, and what was as you thought it would be?

OCKERMAN: Back in those days, until the time of John Y. Brown, we had a, we had a really strong governor in Kentucky. And by the time I went down there, I knew, uh, how things operated. (Moyen laughs) And, uh, so, uh, I don't think I was particularly surprised by anything.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And I favor a strong governor, I really do. I think that that's the way it ought to be run, because if you have a strong 00:33:00governor, and he may dominate, or she may dominate the legislature, but if they do, then people still look to the man who was the dominant factor, and whatever occurred and hold him responsible. If you got a strong governor, and he is gonna be held responsible, I think he is more responsive by the people--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --than, uh, some of them we've had.

MOYEN: That makes sense. So, um, Lawrence Wetherby fits this mold--

OCKERMAN: --yes--

MOYEN: --of a very strong governor?

OCKERMAN: And Clements, Clements was really a strong governor, and of course he was elected United States Senate. And, uh, Wetherby took over as the governor, and then he ran for governor.

MOYEN: -----------(??)-----------

OCKERMAN: No, he was a, he was a strong governor.

MOYEN: What interaction did you have with Wetherby, and what is your perception or your view of his leadership style?


OCKERMAN: Well, he was, he was right straightforward with you.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I mean, I had a bill at one point, I remember, that, uh, I wanted to change the way that the, uh, superintendent of public instruction was elected in Kentucky. I, I thought it would be better if he was a cabinet member rather of the state, rather than, uh, elected separately to run the school systems. So, uh, I went down to see Governor Wetherby to tell him I was gonna introduce this piece of legislation. He sort of looked at me, and he said, "Well," he said, "uh, you have a lot of fun with it, but it won't get very far." So, I introduced my legislation, and Wendell Butler was the superintendent of public instruction. And, uh, they said I kept him sitting in the, uh, gallery in the House for two weeks, but, but I never got anywhere with 00:35:00my piece of legislation. But I got a lot of other legislation through.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Anything in that 1954 session, specifically, that sticks out in your mind? I know there, uh, was also something I believe you and John Y. Brown attempted to get a study--

OCKERMAN: --we, we--

MOYEN: --of, for the U.K. medical school--

OCKERMAN: --we introduced a resolution to appropriate, I think, it was over fifty thousand dollars, which was quite a bit of money at that time, to form a study of the, uh, to have a medical school at the university. But that didn't get very far. And one reason it didn't, uh, in fact, actually, Lawrence Wetherby was from Louisville. And they had a medical school at Louisville--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --at the University of Louisville. And he didn't want another one up here, so I, we didn't get it done.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Let me follow that for just a second, and say obviously, 00:36:00um, although you attended to side with that faction of the Democratic Party, which turned out to be often western Kentucky and eastern Kentucky and Louisville, did you find yourself locally, did you have a hard time defending that at all, because this was Happy Chandler's stronghold in a sense in terms of, of voting?

OCKERMAN: Well, now, two-fold: see Happy, Happy came from western Kentucky. He came from, uh--

MOYEN: --Henderson--

OCKERMAN: --Henderson County.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And it's interesting Clements, Chandler and John Y. Brown were all born in a little triangle down there in western Kentucky. All had influence. John Y. Brown Sr. is sort of a renegade, but, uh, and he was never really a party mind--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --or a clique mind; he was a John Y. Brown man. Not that 00:37:00there's anything against that, but that's just the way it is(??).

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, of course, he represented a lot of union people. He represented the United Mine Workers, and he had, uh, a pretty good stronghold. but, uh, no, we were, we had a convention here after Chandler got elected governor. And then, you would have a county convention, in, in every precinct, you had a county convention. You'd elect delegates to, uh, a district convention, and usually it was rather a perfunctory thing. You'd, uh, go to these precinct conventions, and then go to your county meetings here, and you'd have maybe a 100, or a 150 people. And, uh, then if you were elected to the state, uh, convention, which selected your delegates. Well, we had, and when Chandler got in, the Clements/Wetherby/Moloney faction, uh, 00:38:00decided to make a fight to try to keep Chandler from gaining control of the delegation in Kentucky. So, we ended up, we had about five thousand people on Cheapside down here. Have you read about that?

MOYEN: Yes, I have.


MOYEN: But why don't you go ahead and tell me your take on that event.

OCKERMAN: Well, we had, I guess, the largest number of people ever in the county convention. And, uh, we had, uh, what we call little Dick Moloney, which was Dick Moloney's son, uh, had, he led it. Everybody, you stood over there, say, well, the Chandler people were meeting up in the, uh, circuit court room. So, all the Chandler people got there early, and we didn't fight with them or anything, just let them go on up to the circuit court room. Well, when they, uh, got everybody 00:39:00up there, well, they went around and locked all the doors of the courthouse, except the one that go out the Upper Street side, and we set up for our convention out on the Cheapside Park. (Moyen laughs) And, uh, John Breckinridge was in charge of the loud speaker system. And we got up there and it wouldn't work. And, uh, so, I looked down and saw, sitting right in front of the old Bank of Commerce building, a police cruiser that had a speaker on the top of it. And a sergeant by the name of Davis that I knew was the, uh, that, that was his cruiser.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: So, I went to see the mayor, who was on Kincaid, who was also on our side, and I said, "Shelby, we've got to have that loudspeaker system." Said, "Tell Stinky to pull the cruiser up here and we will use it as the loud speaker system." So, he did; he pulled it up there. 00:40:00Well, by the time we got all of that straightened out, the, the Chandler people had begun to get out, and they were coming out(??). So, you got, you, uh, Harry Miller was, uh, no, let me see, Mr. Smith had fallen off his horse that morning and died; he had a heart attack and died. The county chairman usually called the county convention to order. Well, Neil McCarthy was the secretary, so it fell to the secretary to call the convention to order. Well, if you stood outside this cruiser and used the microphone, you had a feedback and it wouldn't work; all you would only get a whistling sound. So, we put the people in the back of the cruiser in the back seat. And, uh, Harry Miller, Harry Miller Jr. was there, and he, and he was temporary chairman. And, uh, they elected me chairman of the delegation, and we 00:41:00had people scrambling from the Chandler people, trying to get in the cruiser. And the, the accusation was that we sort of railroaded the thing a little bit. But, uh, maybe we did. But with, when the loud speaker system the way it was, you had, you had to get this done. And there was a lot of activity going on around this cruiser.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But anyhow, we got, uh, we elected our delegates to the state convention. And, uh, I went home. Hell, I thought, Well, that was a pretty good convention. A lot of fun, you know. The Chandler people had a rough convention. And they had about a tenth as many people as we did. And, uh, the next morning, I go out to get the newspaper, and picked up the newspaper, and here were three main stories on the front page of the paper about all this going on down on Cheapside. I turned over and walked through the paper, and looked on the back section, of 00:42:00the whole page of the paper, the pictures, you know.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: The -----------(??) on Cheapside. And to make a long story short, we went down to the state convention in Louisville. And Bob Humphrey was the state Democratic chairman. And he called the convention to order. And before they even had the prayer--they did prayer back in those days, whenever they had a session like this, they'd have somebody pray--he read the Bourbon County and Fayette County out the, uh, the delegation, said their conventions were illegal. So, they sent us back to, uh, the credentials committee. We stayed in, in the old ----------(??) armory, and, uh, they had, it was hot in July, as I recall. And, uh, they had, had an ice rink in the old, uh, armory, and in order to cool things down, they put water 00:43:00on the floor and froze it. Well, of course, you'd walk in there and water squishing around all over the place. And they put us out in one of these side rooms, and, uh, finally, after about two or three hours, they let our delegation in. And we were just getting ready to make our presentation about how we ran this thing, it was all honest, above board. Somebody came to say the conventions adjourned. So that was that. We were still on the outside.

MOYEN: Okay.

[Pause in recording]

MOYEN: All right, let me get back, back to, we talked some about the legislation, your proposal of a study for the med school, which Wetherby didn't care for, and, and, uh, a proposal for legislation, uh, with the board of education. What other legislation during Wetherby's time--

OCKERMAN: --well--

MOYEN: --re-, sticks out in your mind?


OCKERMAN: --I introduced a, a bill to combine the park systems in Kentucky. Because then we had a board park commissioner that's white and a board park commissioner that's colored, uh, by statute, in cities.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: In particular, in cities in the second class, there may've been others, too, I don't remember. but, uh, I introduced a bill to abolish both boards and make it a department of city government, which ended up, uh, having a much better parks system than they had before.

MOYEN: Sure(??).

OCKERMAN: But, uh, the blacks didn't like it. And, uh, Mrs. Farrago(??) was chairman of the board of parks commissioner that's white(??), and she had her little group of people that supported her all of the time, and she didn't like it. So, that ended that(??) a very controversial measure. But anyhow, we got the systems consolidated.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And really did end up with improving our parks system--


MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --here in Lexington. I worked during the Chandler administration. Um, I haven't told this to very many; I never told it publicly. But I sat next to a fellow by the name of Ed Kubale in the House from Danville, his father was a great Chandler person. And, of course, everybody knew, because of the activities that was out of the group of rebels, and then here was the Chandler people. But I was able to, uh, get two or three of pieces, important pieces of legislation introduced and passed, particularly one by way you could finance your sanitary sewer system, which is still use, utilized much throughout Kentucky. But what I did, I told Ed Kubale, I said, "Now, you go back 00:46:00home and talk to your city people, because they are for a little piece of legislation that I've got here." And so he did, he went home, came back, and said, "Yeah, they are very much for it." I said, "Well, okay, you introduce it and we will get it passed." And we did. That bill went from the legislature just slick as a--(both laugh)--so but, I was able to get two or three little pieces of legislation just like that.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And some we did not.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: We had, um, Chandler wanted to, to rip Henry Carter. Did you read about that?

MOYEN: Um-hm.Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And so, he called me down to the governor's office one day, and he's telling me how nice a fellow I was. And I've told Ben about this incident, and so, how nice a fellow I was. And, uh, and that I had great political future, and I had a great opportunity to maybe even be a candidate for lieutenant governor next time, uh, with, uh, Harry 00:47:00Lee Waterfield. And, uh, so, we talked all about that, and then he said, "There's one little thing I want you to do." Said, "I want you to vote for, uh, this bill to remove Henry Carter from the, uh, banking commission," I believe it was, because that controls the deposits of state funds and all the banks in Kentucky.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: He said, "You know, he just drinks whiskey all the time," and said, "He's not the kind of fellow to be that way." Well, he did, he did drink whiskey all the time, and everybody knew Henry Carter drank whiskey all the time. But, but I said, "I can't do that, Governor. I can't, I just can't do that." He said, "Well, you'll regret it." So, I went back up to the floor and they called what we called the River Bend Offer, and we beat it in the House by, I think, one or two votes.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And my sister and her husband worked for the parks system. 00:48:00And I had nothing to do with them getting the job. And they did it on their own, you know, and even before I was in the legislature. Within a half an hour, they've both been fired from the park system. And, uh, so we had a good time, but we had our ups and downs(??).

MOYEN: Um-hm. Um-hm. In, in 1954, you mentioned consolidation of, um, the parks system, that legislation.


MOYEN: That was the same year as well that the Brown v Board decision with the Supreme Court got integration of schools came out. I don't think the legislature had a whole lot they could do with that. The, uh, Wetherby, and, to his credit, Chandler, both basically said we're going to--

OCKERMAN: --do whatever we can--

MOYEN: --follow the law. Um, but can you tell me a little bit about, 00:49:00um, growing up? Any, any incidents, or anything that you saw that happened in terms of this segregated, Jim Crow system that existed in Kentucky that, um, made you feel a certain way about? Because, you know, you supported Ned Breathitt, you supported his liberal legislation, what, which wasn't particularly popular in Kentucky or, or the deep south -----------(??)?

OCKERMAN: I, I really had no deep feelings about it. The, of course, my first few years in grade school, uh, there were no blacks in our school. I went to just a, in Wilmore, I went and had finished first and second grade in Wilmore. Then went to Woodlawn, and, uh, we had a two-room school, and there was no blacks. And had a black school house, I've forgotten where it was, but somewhere in the county system. And, uh, when we lived at Stanford they had a separate school system. 00:50:00And, uh, as a matter of fact, the, uh, uh, school system, the, all of the building, one great big building in Stanford for the city school system, and the black school system, right across the railroad tracks, that was just separated by these two high school and grade school buildings. And, uh, so, I had never had, uh, any real, uh, exposure to any problems between the races(??). I delivered papers all over Stanford, and sold them to black people and the white people. And I had a paper route.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And I never, it just, didn't enter my head really, to tell the truth. When you get down in Middlesboro, there are very few blacks down there. Where, at that time, where I lived, I don't think there 00:51:00were very many there yet. So, I had no exposure to anything to where the, say, well, these people are being mistreated, terribly mistreated.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: You grew up that way, you didn't, I didn't have any real feeling about it.

MOYEN: Did you start to sense that at all after your move to Lexington? Or, or did the consolidation of these two systems, this legislation that you helped get passed, did you face any opposition basically based on race?

OCKERMAN: Are you talking about the parks systems?

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Well, there was, uh, there was a, there was friction between, but that was more, I think of, we, what I was doing was encroaching on the terrain of the people.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: They had the park system, the park system, and they didn't want anybody to bother it.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Uh, rather than it's a racial issue. Although, I used 00:52:00the racial issue as a basis for abolishing and for introducing my legislation; that we shouldn't have two separate systems.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: It ought to be just one.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But, uh, I didn't, I never had any exposure to the blacks being treated terribly. Just, and then when I came along, and the, the court rulings, as the they were, and being a lawyer, I think it--

MOYEN: --right--

OCKERMAN: -- -----------(??)-----------

MOYEN: Um-hm. Um-hm. At the end of that, of your first session in 1954, the Frankfort press corps voted you the most value member of the General Assembly. And you're a freshman legislature, legislator at the time. Why was that? What did you accomplish or, or how did you--


OCKERMAN: --well, I got more legislation passed than any other member of the House, except the majority leader.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: For introducing all of the administration's legislation. And, uh, I don't know. I got some legislation killed. I remember Thelma Stovall, who was in the legislature at that time, had a union bill she had, uh, espoused. And it was, uh, it was going to pass, apparently was going to pass the whole sy-, House and the Senate, because it, it was passing the House by just a great majority. When it came time to vote, you could say you wanted to explain your vote, and you had three minutes. And I took, I took the bill, and I just dissected the thing. I said, "It's not good. It's not good for Kentucky, and it ought to 00:54:00be defeated," and it was defeated.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I guess some of things of that nature. Uh, and I can tell you another funny story. Had a fellow from the mountains came to me one day, and he said, "I've got a little airship bill that I want you to explain it." He said, "I can't talk that well. You do a pretty good job. Would you explain it?" I said, "Well, I don't understand what you're talking, what kind of airship are you talking about? The ------ -----(??) or what, what?" " Oh," he said, "no, the heir-ship. You know, a fellow who dies, he has heirs." (both laugh) He wanted, he wanted to amend the, uh, the chain of distribution of a retested estate. So I helped him, Goebel get his bill passed. But I don't know. I'm lucky, and people knew that the governor and I were on good terms with each other.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And Dick Moloney, he was in the state Senate.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, I think people knew that, uh, I had an association with him.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, which was helpful.

MOYEN: Right. So during that '54, and during Wetherby's tenure as governor, there's the establishment of the highway authority, uh, lengthening of the school term, Department of Mental Health was established.

OCKERMAN: Mental health was a great issue.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Uh, Wetherby was very interested in it. There was a lady from Louisville, whose name escapes me right now, but was very interested. And I was supportive of the mental health legislation.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: We had some people from the University of Kentucky that were interested in mental health. So, I was active in supporting the health program. The other programs, back about that time, I was also 00:56:00representing Fayette County school, I mean, the cities school system, representing the city of Lexington and the city school system. And, uh, one area of legislation, education legislation that provides school systems, of course, I was supportive of.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But to recall individual pieces of legislation, except some of those that I mentioned--

MOYEN: --right--

OCKERMAN: --I don't.

MOYEN: Sure, sure. Um, all these different things that the legislature was able to accomplish though, that becomes, in some respects, a liability in the '55 campaign, because Chandler, like a lot of politicians, do talk a lot about spending, and excessive spending, or we're gonna cut the weight.

OCKERMAN: Yeah, and one of the biggest things that he talked about the rug in the, uh, the mansion. And ,uh, he just, I don't think that 00:57:00there was too much real thought about the merits of this, that, or the other thing, and just Chandler took his old organization and ran.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: See, he had been in the United States Senate, then the governor, then the United States Senate, and baseball commissioner. And came back, and he was going to, uh, run for governor. And, uh, he had a, uh, he just had a good organization.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Remnants of his, his old statewide organization. He'd been lieutenant governor, been governor, United States senator --------(??)--

MOYEN: --sure--

OCKERMAN: --that's not too bad to build an organization from.

MOYEN: (laughs) When, uh, when Clements essentially picked Combs, the way historians portray what happened--

OCKERMAN: --well, he did(??)--

--in '55, did you ever have any interaction, um, with Clements or with 00:58:00Combs? And, and were you able to find out why Combs was chosen as kind of such a, uh, you know, political outsider--

OCKERMAN: --well, out of anybody that was chosen, they thought, uh, Combs was member of the court of appeals, which is our highest court. He, uh, had come from the mountains. And, uh, he was supposed to be able to carry that portion of Kentucky, and Clements and Wetherby could, uh, take care of Louisville and western Kentucky.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And made a potential candidate.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But Bert Combs, when he opened in Shelbyville, you know, he made that, uh, proposal that he was gonna levy a tax for education.

MOYEN: Okay. Were--

OCKERMAN: --that's all ----------(??).

Were you there?


MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And as Bob Beauchamp said, you opened and closed his campaign in one day or one night.

MOYEN: I think it was, uh, public knowledge that Doc Beauchamp really 00:59:00wanted to run too--

OCKERMAN: --oh, he did. There's no doubt about that. No doubt about it.

MOYEN: And, and, um, do you think that, that was a mistake to pass on him for Combs, or have you?

OCKERMAN: Well, I think Doc would've made a respectable governor, uh, but I don't think that he was eliminated for that reason. I think he, it was a matter of those that were making the selection that they think that someone would be better than Doc to run the race, because Doc was, uh, not the most polished person in the world. And, uh, even though he was liked very much by, uh, most everybody, I mean. I don't think they pictured him as a, uh, person that would run a great campaign and be a great governor.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Whereas Combs had the tenacity. Uh, he, he didn't make a good public appearance in the first race, but he did in his second.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Right.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, so I think that's just a matter of who, who can we get elected.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Um-hm. So how did you being involved in this campaign, or, or Combs, or whomever else, how did you deal with the Happy Chandler-type personality talking about $20,000 rugs, and "Clementine" and "Weatherbine" and, you know, this type of stuff?

OCKERMAN: Well, we were, we were, of course, we were all against it, I mean, because we thought that was terrible. And I remember we, when Chandler was in the United States Senate, we had, uh, a liquor firm here called -----------(??)-----------. Have you ever heard of this story?

MOYEN: No, I have not.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, during the time that Chandler was in the United 01:01:00States Senate, uh, they were paying, uh, his law firm $5,000 a month. And I believe that was the sum. So, uh, we had access to all these checks. So, I remember Dick Moloney was up at his office one day, and he showed me all these checks. He said, "What do you think about, uh, publicizing this?" I said, "I think that'd be great." So we did, got an ad in the newspaper, and, and ran it, copies of some of these checks, and so on. Well, it stopped Chandler's campaign dead for about four or five days, until he was over in Danville in one of his courthouse speeches. And, uh, he said, "And they say that I did something wrong. Well, uh, somebody there in Lexington sent me a check to my law firm." 01:02:00He said, "Why, there's Pappy Mayhem right out there in the audience." Pappy was about 6-foot-2 or -3. A great, big, distinguished-looking, grey-headed fellow. He said, "Pappy, was there anything wrong with that?" And Pappy said, "No, Governor, not a thing." I can tell you just washed off everybody's back. (both laugh) And went on down the road(??).

MOYEN: Um, so, when he, uh, wins the primary after this bitter election, were you and others able to, to essentially stomach getting behind him?

OCKERMAN: Well, I was president of the Young Democrat Club of Kentucky. So, technically, all the presidents of the Young Democrat Clubs of Kentucky always had some sort of spot in the campaign, like Young Democrats for Chandler, and Young Democrats, this, that, and the other. And so, I had a, uh, technical standing to be in part of that 01:03:00organization. Well, I went to one or two of their meetings, they wouldn't even talk to me. So, I decided the best thing for me to do is to go home. So, that's what I did.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Okay. When, um, when all of this is going on, you're having to run an election yourself--

OCKERMAN: --that's right--

MOYEN: --to some extent.

OCKERMAN: But I, when I was working for Combs in '50, uh, in '59, uh, particularly, I was active, more active in that than I was in '55 when he ran.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But again, you've got to remember I ran for my little district one mile from the courthouse, and I said, I did, I received, luckily, a lot of good publicity--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --uh, representing the city, received good publicity in the, 01:04:00from the legislature(??). So that wasn't that difficult.

MOYEN: Okay. All right. And, and when the 1956 legislative session begins, and Happy Chandler's governor, how did that change the tone in the House of Representatives? Was there a marked difference in the way things were done, or were they pretty much the business as usual?

OCKERMAN: Well, that's, uh, I guess the difference would be on the inside or the outside.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: (both laugh) Uh, from the beginning, uh, those of us that were not very much for Chandler had, uh, let it be known that we were going to try and stop some of the things that he said he would do(??). And, uh, we did try to do that. Uh, we knew we were on the outside, and we 01:05:00were not gonna be permitted to be on the inside, and have control. So, we just, we tried to do what we thought we could do best, and, and that was, uh, irritating--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --to be(??) a thorn in his side. And, and try and stop some of the legislation which he was, uh, espousing, which really was not good.

MOYEN: Um-hm. At certain times, Chandler and his faction were able to join with Republicans--

OCKERMAN: --oh yeah--

MOYEN: --to stop legislation, you know, the Clements, and Combs, the Wetherby faction. Were, were you able to join forces with Republicans on any issues that you were gonna--


MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: Well, now, let's back off a minute now. Of course, Chandler, or any governor, even Louie Nunn, for example, who came along later, if 01:06:00you use all the tools that you have in the governor's office, you can get votes out of the opposing party. Uh, that's, that's, you can do it.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, whether Fletcher is gonna do that or not, I don't know, but anyhow, it can be done. And, uh, Chandler was very good at that, but then he would let them go ahead and run around, do whatever they wanted to, as long as it didn't interfere with what he was trying to do.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Return(??), or he could do things for them and get their vote when(??) he needed it. Like on the, when we wrote the budget in the House, that went on(??) over to the Senate. Uh, Mrs. Chandler, I think, I believe it went to the Senate, or maybe it was a reconsideration in the House, I've forgot. But Chandler had been to a meeting in, uh, Louisville, and she said, "That's what they did 01:07:00yesterday, or whatever the thing was, but just wait until next week." (both laugh) So, they were successful in, in, in defeating us.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Okay. And you mentioned that there was a group of you, who, you, you understood you were going to be opposed through a lot of these policies, and a lot of this legislation that would be introduced in '56. When was the first time that you had heard or read in either the Lexington or Louisville papers, about this, this group officially being called the Rebels, so to speak?

OCKERMAN: We had, we had some meetings, a few of us, and, uh, it began to grow. It had the support of Clements and Wetherby. And, uh, so we were able to put together a pretty good group. Uh, I don't think the, the name, the Rebels, came after the group was organized, and not 01:08:00somebody say, "Go organize a rebel group."

MOYEN: Um-hm. And that entailed you, and John Breckinridge, and.

OCKERMAN: Harry King Lowman. Uh, we had, uh, oh, you know, that's been a long time ago. I can't remember all these names. Uh, we had a number of people from western Kentucky that, uh, were supportive of us.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: We did not have very many people from the mountains, or nor did we have many people from Northern Kentucky.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I think there was about eight or ten of us -------------(??).

MOYEN: Can you recall any specific incidences where that small group was able to recruit a larger number of people on certain issues to defeat 01:09:00certain legislation, either in '56 or '58?

OCKERMAN: No, I can't. I'd have to go back and, and have my recollection refreshed.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But we did have a number of issues and I had a position paper I had at one time that, uh, that was adopted by the group.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Uh, and, uh, we had meetings between the sessions. We kept active between the '56 and '58 session.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, I think in the long run, we were a good influence on the legislation, because it forced Chandler to do things he would not otherwise have done.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Did you ever find yourself in agreement with Chandler? I guess I'm thinking specifically of the med school and his proposal for that.

OCKERMAN: Yeah, I was, uh, I think, if my memory serves me correctly, 01:10:00that, uh, a lot of people were against Keeneland. And, uh, Chandler was for Keeneland, and the race course.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: I was supportive of the thing, helped ----------(??). So, yes, I was -----------(??) do some things, same things he ---------- (??). Like, I wasn't against him, just being against him.

MOYEN: Sure, Um-hm.. What other interaction did you have with him when you served in the legislature and he was governor? Um, were there any other stories like the one that you told a little while ago, or anything else that sticks out in your mind?

OCKERMAN: Well, I know you have, uh, a governor would always have a reception for members of the legislature. We would go over there and line up, and have a glass of tea, or something. And, uh, but it was 01:11:00sort of a formal thing and nice thing(??) for the governor, you know. And, uh, so I'd take Joyce, my wife, with me. They were all invited, you know. We'd go over there to these, uh, receptions. We were walking down through this line one time, and I was in front of Joyce, and was trying to shake hands with the governor, he paid no attention to me. And he leaned over and hugged Joyce. And, uh, the reason for that was that Joyce's family, and Happy, and, uh, Happy's family were friends. I mean, they were friends.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, he did know Joyce. Joyce had spent time in the mansion when --------(??) when Happy was governor. She'd go and visit people at the mansion. So he knew her. And I'll tell you an interesting story about that. When I was chairman of the board of the University of Kentucky, Chandler was on the board.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, he had this little scuffle with this Nigerian. You remember anything about that?

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And so, one day he asked me, he said, uh, "I'd like to make a little statement." He said, "Would you recognize me so I could make a statement?" I said, "Sure, governor, I'll recognize you." So, I said, "We will do it down at the foot end of the docket." So, we got down to the foot of the docket and I said, "Well, Governor Chandler has some comments he'd like to make." I recognized him. He tried to stand up but his knees were giving him problems at that time, so he said, "If you don't mind, I'll sit down." So he started out talking about all that he'd done for black people in the state of Kentucky. You know, Jackie Robinson, he got him into baseball, and just went on and on and on. And getting near the end of it, he turned around and he said to me, I was sitting at the head of the table, and he was sitting right over 01:13:00there, on the, sort of two feet down from my left. All of a sudden, he stopped and said, "Foster, we have never gotten along politically, but I've always loved your wife." Then he went right back, right back to his speech. (both laugh) I told Ben about that the other day.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Hm. That's a good story. Um, during that '56 session you did introduce one, one piece of legislation I was able to read about. Um, you attempted to change some of the rules that were governing the LRC at the time, and I, the way I understood it--

OCKERMAN: --oh, the makeup of it?

MOYEN: Yes, the makeup of that and, and the lieutenant governor's role in the LRC. Um, it seemed like it dealt with trying to give more power to the legislature, which may at the time been your faction of the 01:14:00legislature, what you were trying to do. Do you recall anything else about, about that proposal?

OCKERMAN: I have just a vague recollection about it.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But, uh, see, those of us that, the so called Rebels, we did not get much support out of anything from the state governor, under Chandler.

MOYEN: Sure.

OCKERMAN: You try to do something that would, uh, make them a more meaningful(??) and more helpful to what you were trying to accomplish.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Did, uh, this group of rebels, did, did you have a regular meeting place, or somewhere in Frankfort, that you would get together and address what you thought was going to come up in legislature, or?

OCKERMAN: Well, we would, well, Joe Ferguson was the attorney general, and we would, a small group of us would meet sometime down at his house, he lived on Capitol Avenue. Uh, we would meet in hotel rooms and places like that.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, for the 1958 session, unlike today, governors by 01:15:00their, uh, by the second legislative, uh, legislative session, they were essentially lame govern-, governors in some respect. Did you feel then that you would have a lot more ability to stop some of this legislation because of that fact?

OCKERMAN: Oh, I don't know. I guess we probably did think so, but I don't know that we were, did accomplish that much more.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Um-hm. When, um, when Chandler introduced the River Bill, um, and Henry Carter, and it dealt with Henry Carter, how did you go about mobilizing against that bill? I mean, there are these certain instances where there's success.

OCKERMAN: Well, because Henry had always been a good loyal Democrat. He 01:16:00was on our side of the faction. He, uh, he had some powers, as I said earlier, because he could win one other vote of this commission, could control the, uh, allocation of state deposits, which was a very good political tool--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --back at that time. And, uh, we just didn't think it was right to rip him--

MOYEN: --right--

OCKERMAN: --for no good cause, other than he didn't agree with the governor on it. That's, so we just, we just fought it.

MOYEN: And, um, any reason--

OCKERMAN: --we were, we were unsuccessful.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Came close.

MOYEN: Right. Um-hm. Um, in the, in the '58 budget also, I believe in the House, um, you were able to propose some amendments, and I, I--


OCKERMAN: --we proposed amendments that, we would take money from one category and put it in another. So, one was state parks. We were increasing the allocation to the state park systems. And, uh, I cannot recall. We did something that Louisville and Jefferson County was very interested in, because we were able to get, uh, fairly good support out of Jefferson County, uh, for what we were trying to do.

MOYEN: I believe it was during this '58 session. There's not going to be a, a gubernatorial race until '59, but I believe I read that during this '58 session, you and John Breckinridge, and some other, probably was this group of rebels, invited Combs to come to Frankfort.


MOYEN: Can you tell me about that meeting?

OCKERMAN: Oh, we did, and I've forgotten where it was, where it took 01:18:00place. Uh , it could've been out at the Holiday Inn, but I'm not. Not certain. What, what we were trying to do at that time was to find out who was gonna run for governor. Who would run against Harry Lee. Whether it would be some of us, or whether if Combs was gonna run.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And I think we were all seasoned enough to know that, that if Combs wanted to run, uh, with the support of Clements.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: That, uh, that it would be no use for us trying to, uh, inject ourselves in the race, because it's gonna be whomever we have that, that's running against Harry Lee. We're not gonna win the primary.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: And so, the purpose of the meeting, I think, was to find out 01:19:00what he proposed to do.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, I have forgotten specifically, but I believe it was he indicated that he could well be a candidate, although he wouldn't(??) make a firm commitment.

MOYEN: Now, when did you first learn about Wilson Wyatt's decision to enter?

OCKERMAN: To enter the race?

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Well, it was, I think it was pretty well known in that Wilson, uh, wanted to be governor. And, uh, he was right outspoken about it and making an effort to enter.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: So, I think we knew that a long time.

MOYEN: Um-hm. So now, you've got this troublesome issue with two people running, essentially in the one faction(??), against, uh, Waterfield in the election. Did, did you, were you the one who proposed to try and 01:20:00get both?

OCKERMAN: I first, I proposed a poll.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I proposed a poll, uh, where that, uh, they would take a poll, an independent poll, truly independent poll, wasn't trying to rig it(??), to see who had the most support. And the one, of the two of them, the one who had the most support that, uh, he would be the candidate best between the two of them. Well, that proposal got fairly good publicity. And, uh, the Wyatt people, incidentally, Dick Moloney was for Wyatt. That's when we sort of separated. And, uh, I don't mean got mad at each other, but we're not as close after that. And, uh, Wyatt proposed that, uh, they take a poll now, and then take a poll at some later time, and the one that had the greatest increase in support over that period of time, whatever the -----------(??) was, 01:21:00would be the candidate. Of course, if you are behind, you've got your greatest opportunity of making a, of making a big, a bigger splash. And, uh, so that was not satisfactory. Uh, but anyhow, I think, I think that did have a great impact on Wyatt's campaign.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: A negative impact, and then he wouldn't agree to do it.

MOYEN: Now, in my next question here, I, I have, did you and Dick Moloney have any discussions about this when it was or both of these--

OCKERMAN: --no, we were not, uh, we were not consulting each other very much.

MOYEN: Okay, okay. Um, so the story goes, in January '59, Clements calls this meeting at the Standiford Airport or Airport Motel.

OCKERMAN: Yes, Standiford Motel at the airport.

MOYEN: Were you there for that meeting?


OCKERMAN: I was not there at the beginning of the meeting. I got a call about nine o'clock one night, I guess it was, from Clements. And he said he would like for me to come to Louisville. I said, "Well, I can get down there tomorrow, I reckon." I said, "What time?" He said, "No, I want you to be there tonight." So I said, "Well, all right." And I said, "Where do I meet you?" And he said, "You go to room so and so at Seelbach Hotel." And so, I did. And, uh, went to the Seelbach Hotel and went this room, and there was Johnny Green. Have you ever heard of Johnny Green?


OCKERMAN: Well, Johnny Green was a, uh, he was a friend of mine. He was well known in political circles. He was a Combs man. And he said, "Well, you're supposed to go to the Stanford Motel and he gave me the number of the room." So, I had to go get my car out of the garage and 01:23:00put it over in the Lincoln garage, drive out to the motel, and walk in, and, uh, there is Combs and Clements. And, uh, Clements said, "Well, we are about to work out a deal with Wilson Wyatt." But, uh, and then Bert said, said, "The problem is that Wyatt feels committed to John Breckinridge for, for attorney general." And he said, "I feel like I'm committed to you for attorney general." I said, "If that's what your problem is then you haven't gotten any problem, because I don't want to be attorney general." So, with that, uh, Clements said, "Well, that does it then." So, uh, Clements and I spent the night in the motel and everybody else left. And we started calling people all over the state of Kentucky to tell them that we had a merger agreement(??) that worked 01:24:00out.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: And, I called Breathitt, as a matter of fact, is one of the people that I had called.

MOYEN: Okay. And, um, by this time did you decide you were not going to run anymore for legislature, or?

OCKERMAN: Well, I had not, because, uh, let me see. Get my years straightened out. I guess I had probably decided I would not run anymore.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Why did you make that decision? What lead to that decision?

OCKERMAN: Well, it didn't, there wasn't a lot of money involved. It cost money, it consumed about three or more months of your time, about four months of your time, uh, in early, every other year. And, uh, I just didn't think it was gonna be helpful to me, any particular reason.


MOYEN: Um-hm. Um, so when, when Combs does win the race, and you become commissioner of the Department of Motor Transportation, can you tell me what that job entailed?

OCKERMAN: That job was--

MOYEN: --or entailed--

OCKERMAN: --that job regulating. It's, it's a little different now. It regulated all the motor carriers in Kentucky. You issued, uh, license to, to the carriers, you determined their routes, as set, as such what might be determined by the Interstate Commerce Commission. You controlled taxi cabs. Uh, we had certain control, I put in some, uh, regulation for safety as it, as it related to school buses. But , uh, it was a right active, uh, section of government in regulating the motor carrier industry, including taxi cabs.


MOYEN: Okay. Uh, did you enjoy that post, or?

OCKERMAN: Well, that's again, I told Combs I would, I would take it, but I wanted him to understand that I wasn't going to be there every day. And, uh, so he said, "Well, I want the department to run, and so that's up to you. So, I was, I was still practicing law here at the time I was commissioner of motor transportation, which you can't do now.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, so, I kept that until, uh, I resigned in 1950, in 1962, I guess it was, to manage Breathitt's campaign.

MOYEN: Okay.

OCKERMAN: [Nineteen] fifty-nine to [nineteen] sixty-two.

[Pause in recording.]

MOYEN: You just mentioned your decision to manage, uh, Ned Breathitt's 01:27:00campaign for governor. And, um, how did that come about and when did you talk to him? Uh, how did he offer this to you, or did you suggest it?

OCKERMAN: Well, of course, if you've read much, you may have known I was trying to run for governor at that time too. And, uh, we had had a number of meetings with Combs, uh, Breckinridge, and Breathitt, and, uh, oh, Judge Palmore, who was a, uh, who was the judge in the court of appeals, and the commonwealth attorney in Daviess County, I believe, maybe Henderson. I forget now which one it was. And, uh, there were others that were discussed at the time. Then, uh, still that was back when you knew that if you didn't get the selection, there was no use 01:28:00in trying to run. So, when Combs let it be known that he had selected Breathitt, why then I got out and I mean, I just quit, and came back, and started working more at making, trying to make some money.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I was attending the state bar convention in Louisville. And, uh, Breathitt, I ran into Breathitt. Uh, and he said, "I wish you would come to our headquarters, and I'd like to talk with you." So he had opened up a little headquarters at the Seelbach Hotel on the seventh floor. So, I went up there and that's when he asked me if I'd manage his campaign. And I discussed with him the problems, the financial problems, uh, because I said, "If I'm going to do it, I'm really going to do it. I, but one thing I've got to know that 01:29:00I'm gonna manage the campaign. It's not gonna be anybody else. If, if I do that, then I want it full time." And, uh, so we talked about it awhile. And so, so, I finally called Joyce and told her what the proposition was, and, uh, she said, "Well that is your decision." So, then I called my two law partners and talked to them, and, uh, because it meant I'd be gone a year. So, they acquiesced. I don't think they were enthusiastic about it, but they acquiesced. And so, that's how I became his campaign manager.

MOYEN: And can you tell me a little bit about your strategy? I mean, what's, what's so fascinating about this race is, that rather than Happy Chandler being able to wow the crowds, and get people excited, and get them to vote for him, like he did in the thirties and fifties, 01:30:00his campaign, and Breathitt's campaign, which you managed, made him essentially look old and outdated.

OCKERMAN: Well, of course, that's one reason I think that Breathitt was picked--

MOYEN: --right--

OCKERMAN: --because he's younger than I am, or he's ----------(??). He's still younger than I am by about four or five years. Full of energy. And, uh, Combs was very helpful, uh, all during that campaign. We used a lot of the department heads of state government, which you probably couldn't do that now.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But to help him position people, which they did, primarily in the evening, and we had meetings, uh, on the weekends, and evening to develop a lot of this. Uh, I remember Combs primarily was responsible for this. He had a card that, uh, a Hallmark card, and, uh, which they 01:31:00copied it. Hallmark was, cards said, you open it up, it said, "When you care enough to send the very best." So they copied that thing, and said, "Well, you know, it didn't have Hallmark on it. It had Edward T. Breathitt Jr., "When you care enough to send the very best." Little things like that.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: We, we copied the Birch Bayh program. When he ran for the Senate, "Hey, Look Me Over," that song. And, uh, that, that helped, I think, because it was a catchy tune, and it, it, it, Bayh's campaign had spilled over through the media in western Kentucky.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: So, I mean, that was just a little thing.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And we set out to really reorganize the state. And I think we did a very good job getting it organized. But I ran, some people said, a right tight headquarters. I mean, I had everybody up there at eight 01:32:00o'clock in the morning, and, uh, we would work until, depending on what was going on, until seven or eight o'clock every night, and sometimes later. And we parceled out the work to be done and gave people their job, raised cane with them if they didn't get it done.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And raising money, of course, was a big problem. And Breathitt, uh, being the candidacy, had to be responsible for a lot of that. Combs was very helpful, again, as governor. And, uh, so, we put together a right good campaign, uh, technically. I think we did.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And we had a right good program that we built up. And Breathitt was an excellent candidate. Excuse me.

[Pause in recording.]

OCKERMAN: We would produce all the information. We would produce the, his news releases, and every, every day in the headquarters, and track him down wherever he was, and get some secretary, uh, a 01:33:00lawyer's secretary to take down, whatever it was, uh, shorthanded, and transcribe it, because, no fax machines in those days.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, television was new, too.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Relatively new. We had, uh, and Combs was responsible for this. We had a program, a movie they put together. Have you heard about this?

MOYEN: No, I haven't.

OCKERMAN: Well, it, it was right rough on Chandler. And, uh, we put this movie on the television. Put it on all the television stations, circulated through all the television stations in Kentucky, and one or two outside. And, uh, we ran a Bowling Green TV station that just opened up. So we ran this thing in Bowling, in Bowling Green, in that area. We ran a telephone poll immediately after the, uh, program. 01:34:00And, uh, practically nobody had seen the thing. I think 28 people had seen it or 50 had seen it. (Moyen laughs) And, uh, but about 14 percent of them thought it would be helpful to Breathitt, I mean, half of them thought it would be. And, uh, others said that they didn't know whether it would be or not. So, so long about, I then went ahead, and put it on, authorized them to release it all over the state. Combs called me up late that night, and he said, "What did you do about my, my program?" I said, "It's gonna be in all of the TV stations." He said, "Well, do you think you did the right thing?" I said, "I don't know, but somebody's got to do something." (both laugh) So, we ran it in, uh, one or two other stations, and then they got it stopped. They said it was, uh, not, uh, high caliber material. (laughs) But it was 01:35:00nothing, there's no bad language or anything.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: We had, for example, they were talking about, uh, Chandler, you know. "When he was governor, he had a gate up there at the mansion, that came off of the drive between the, uh, the Capitol building and the mansion said, "Private Drive -- No Admittance." It showed that, you know. ------------(??)---------

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And then, uh, of course, Chandler put sales tax on.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, so we had this little girl eating an ice cream cone, and here comes a great big hand and, and, uh, swipes this, swipes little girl's ice cream cone from this little girl. And, uh, of course, we laid that all on Chandler. But, uh, we showed that around over(??) Kentucky, at the, put it as a, as a movie.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And we would show it around. And we did not, we did not make a frontal attack on Chandler.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: We, uh, did not do that purposely, except on one occasion. We had a, uh, they had a driver by the name of Tom Isaacs. And, uh, Pritch, Ed Pritchett was working at our headquarters. And, uh, he would come in, and so, I, somebody had produced his speech material every day. So we used Pritch, and Don ---------(??) and a few other people.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: So, every morning you would come in and bring me the materials they would have for the day, you know. And Pritch would stand and look over my shoulder, and I would go down through, and cross that out, and cross that out, you know. He'd ----------(??) Did you ever know him?

MOYEN: No, I didn't. Would you tell me a little bit about him? Your, your interaction with him and what you thought of--

OCKERMAN: --well--

MOYEN: --Ed Pritchett?

OCKERMAN: Well. I thought Pritch was a smart fellow. He had weak spots. And, uh, he was not a 100 percent reliable, because, uh, sometimes 01:37:00he'd just go off and hide during the campaign. You couldn't find him. You had no idea where he is. So, you couldn't rely just on him for speech material. You had to have somebody else, had to have backup on this(??). But anyhow, Pritch and Chandler had never got along.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: So, he did not like our policy, that no frontal attack on Chandler. So, Breathitt was making a talk over here in Lawrenceburg, Anderson County. Great Chandler county. And, uh, they had gotten to the point he relied so much on, if he turned out of headquarters, he'd never look at it. He just pull it out of his pocket, you know, and start talking. Well, he got started on this thing, and it just lacing into Chandler something awful. And he couldn't stop. He was in the middle of thing, so he had to go on. So, so, uh, he called me after 01:38:00that, and said, "What in the world did you do to me?" I said, "I don't know. What's the matter." He said, "Well, that material you sent out." I said, "I thought that was pretty good." He said, "I don't believe we're talking about the same material." He said, "This is the one you really attacked Happy." I said, "I had nothing to do with that." Found out that Pritch had gotten Tom Isaacs, said, "This, this is what Foster wants sent out." Gave it to Breathitt and, but that was the last time that happened. That didn't happen anymore.

MOYEN: Um-hm. That's pretty good. And, and so, Breathitt ends up winning the election, and essentially ends the Chandler faction, so to speak.

OCKERMAN: Well, yeah, it really, it did.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Um, so what did you do in your political career after that?

OCKERMAN: I came back to Lexington and practiced law.

MOYEN: Practiced law. When did, um, when, can you tell me a little bit 01:39:00about your decision to run for Senate?

OCKERMAN: Well, Breathitt had made a commitment to, uh, Katherine Peden, and what he did, he said that she would get out of the First District race for Congress that, uh, he would support her for the Senate. And, uh, there were some of us that just did not think that the time had come that a woman could be elected to the United States Senate in Kentucky. But I was reconciled. I'd could home, and I was just sort of beginning to wash my hands of politics at this time, and it had not been particularly rewarding. So, I just, uh, but then friends kept coming to me and saying, "You ought to run, you ought to run. We'll be for you, this, that, and the other." And, even John Y. Brown, ------- 01:40:00--(??) John Y. Brown was gonna be for me. So, I filed. And, uh, then, there was a flood of candidates. John Y got in the race, and my friend Bill May had, uh, said, ran into John Y one time, and said, "Well, why don't you run?" John said, "Well, I think I will." So, and then he got in the race. Ted Osborne from Lexington got in the race. I believe Julian Carroll was in it for awhile. I'm not sure about that. But, anyhow, we had--oh, uh, Chelf, a former congressman, from, uh, what was the? Fourth District, anyhow, he was from Lebanon, down in that area.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: We had too many people in it. And Breathitt, with his organization, uh, they were to gonna win the race. Primary, but she lost the race. Marlow Cook has told me, uh, on at least one occasion. 01:41:00He said that, uh, "Why in the world did you ever elect Katherine, uh, why did you all elect Katherine Peden to run for United States Senate?" "Because," he said, "I would never have been elected if it had been somebody else." He may have just been saying that, but--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --anyhow. And so, Katherine did not win in the fall.

MOYEN: Um-hm. So, when you got back into your law practice, did you hold a number of other posts in the Democratic, or, Democratic Party ----------(??)?

OCKERMAN: I was chairman of the State Central Executive Committee--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --uh, after the, after Breathitt got elected.

MOYEN: Um-hm. And, and what did that entail?

OCKERMAN: Well, we had our first, uh, permanent headquarters, I set up the first permanent headquarters. I attempted to raise, uh, money 01:42:00without having, being so much a function of the governor's office. And, uh, we did raise a respectable amount of money to finance their party.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: Not, but it was not as successful as I had hoped it would be. I tried to set up a seminar on political responsibilities in Louisville, and I did. I tried to get James Reston. Did you, you ever --------(??) a fellow who was ----------(??)?

MOYEN: I'm familiar(??).

OCKERMAN: Anyhow, he was well known nationwide. And, uh, Combs tried to get him and couldn't get him, and got the governor of Ohio, and two or three other people. I had nice, uh, seminar in Louisville. But I think we're trying to be too good for the people that were involved. They didn't want, they thought that, they can't do it that a way, so I don't think I convinced very many people--


MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --what they ought to be doing.

MOYEN: And in the early nineties, you could say, "See, I told you so."

OCKERMAN: That's right. And then, I came back in, uh, Breathitt's second term, and, uh, worked as his liaison with the legislature.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I took(??) the title of executive secretary, I think, or something like that.

MOYEN: And how did serving in the legislature previously help you in that post?

OCKERMAN: Well, I think it was very helpful. Uh, you know, I knew basically the machinery. I, I knew, uh, how to work as a lobbyist.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, very helpful. I mean, if you got some piece of legislation that you want something, some help, they usually wanted some help. So, you could work those things out. And I knew a lot of the people that were in the legislature, through working through the campaign and also having served in the legislature. And, uh, 01:44:00some people said that I did a pretty good job. Breathitt got more legislation passed of his legislation in his second session than did in the first -----------(??).

MOYEN: Um-hm. It was a very successful session. What, was there any legislation that you can think of that was particularly gratifying in terms of you thought, without your assistance and without your political maneuvering, this would've been in big trouble?

OCKERMAN: I don't know.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: You work in that kind of position, you've got to give the governor the credit.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: -----------(??)----------

MOYEN: Um-hm. Um, some of your other public service would come later in, in terms of stuff with Chamber of Commerce here in, in Lexington.

OCKERMAN: Well, I was president, now be called chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, served for three or four years on the Chamber board.


MOYEN: At that time, I believe it was in the early eighties, is that correct?

OCKERMAN: Nineteen eighty-five, '80 to '85, I believe, somewhere in that range.

MOYEN: Lexington was really booming at the time.


MOYEN: Um, how, uh, how influential was the Chamber of Commerce, in that?

OCKERMAN: Well ------------(??)--

MOYEN: -- -----------(??)------------ --

OCKERMAN: --I think you have to go back and look at, uh, some of the leadership earlier in Lexington rather than that particular span, because we had a, an economic development effort, uh, put together, uh, not me, but we, in Lexington, put together the economic development area out here on the Mercer Road. We had, uh, Gruthers Coleman(??) 01:46:00and a lot of other people, the heads of the utility companies that were active. And, uh, that sort all culminated, but everybody else did pretty well at that time, too.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: It's not just Lexington.

MOYEN: Right. Um-hm. Um, why don't we jump, jump ahead here about the other thing that I found in the newspapers, talked about is your chairmanship of the, uh, board of trustees at U.K.


MOYEN: Um, did you enjoy that post?

OCKERMAN: Yes and no. Um, of course, I had, uh, the press was right hard on me. And, uh, they, uh, oh, I think, accused me of doing some things that I did not do. First, they said that, uh, that, Wallace 01:47:00got a part of(??) me because I would do this, that, and the other. That is absolutely not so. Wallace called me one night, and we were personal friends, and I had represented him for years. And finally, he got to, as I termed it, boring with such a big auger that, uh, a small law firm couldn't take care of what he, all he was trying to do, and I recommended he go get a big law firm. And we parted good friends. And, uh, so, he called me and asked me if I'd like to serve on the board of trustees at the University of Kentucky, I said, "Certainly, I think I'd, I think anybody would like to serve on the board of trustees." And, uh, I said, uh, "What's the catch to it?" And he said, "Nothing. You just go over there and do what you think you ought to do." I said, "Okay, I'll do it." And so, that was the only commitment 01:48:00that, uh, we ever had.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I had none except I did the best I thought. And, of course, I got tagged with Roselle's leaving, which was, uh, Roselle's fault, I think, more than mine. And, uh, the, the thing that I was very disappointed in Roselle, that he was fishing around trying to get a new presidency without keeping me or anybody else on the board advised of what he was doing. And I sort of took him to task for it. And then we met out at the Maxwell place one Saturday morning with W.T. Young, two other members of the board. And had, Roselle wanted me to poll the board to see if they would change the term of his contract, so that it automatically renewed itself, unless, for, and be extended three or 01:49:00four years out in front all the time, unless the board took specific action not to do that. I told him I was not much for that. But that, uh, I would poll the board. He, at that time, had been to Dallas--to, uh, Delaware. And, uh, he knew that, uh, Roselle was sitting there in ---------(??). And, uh, so, we left and, uh, I stood out in the, in the circular drive there, the circle in front of Maxwell place with one of these fellows(??). I said, "If that fellow goes to Delaware this afternoon, I'm not going to poll anybody." Well he did, he went to Delaware to work on getting to be president of Delaware. When he came 01:50:00back, he asked me, uh, what I had found out in my poll. I said, "I did not make a poll," and I told him why. So that's when he decided maybe the best thing for him to do was go to Delaware. Of course, he had problems with the athletic scandal.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, he had lost some of his shine. But I didn't pursue the course of trying to get rid of him. Now, I'm not gonna say that Wallace didn't, and I think that Wallace, uh, Wallace had a hand in making Roselle unhappy.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But I didn't. I did not do that. The only, Wallace called me one time after, uh, after Wethington had been elected, uh, he wasn't impressed(??). And, uh, he was critical of my action in being, in 01:51:00trying to get Wethington elected, Wethington elected president. I said, "Well, I had just, I thought he was the person that ought to be out of the choices that we had. All the other fellows were good people. Why, I wasn't against anything, against Bosworth or Windborne, or Foster," but I said, "I just don't, uh, I didn't think that they were the right people, and I thought Wethington was, and that's what I did."

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: So, I had a lot of good times at the university, and I've had some rough times too. (both laugh)

MOYEN: That job probably entails a lot more than what people realize.

OCKERMAN: It took tremendous amount of time.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And, uh, uh, it's amazing, I got into a lot of conflicts with my law practice, which, uh, was not helpful. I had to separate from 01:52:00things I knew that would've been beneficial to me. And, uh, it wasn't monetarily helpful in my law practice. I had to dispose of it.

MOYEN: Um-hm. So, I'm gonna ask you for a little commentary today on having served on the board and having been involved in politics. And here we are, 2004, new governor, and a university that's trying to reach for this Top 20 public university status. And it seems like we might be heading in the wrong direction. Um, if you were in a position what type of solutions would you--

OCKERMAN: --in what kind of position?

MOYEN: Um, a position to, that's a good question. (laughs) Uh, either, uh, the governorship, or board of trustee, or university president to 01:53:00get the University of Kentucky to the status that they aspire to be.

OCKERMAN: Well, I think that, uh, it's gonna be difficult to keep that program moving forward, unless, uh, we get more revenue, because I remember when I was, uh, first got on the board of trustees and, uh, and, uh, Wethington was the interim president. A lot of the people on the faculty said that, "Well, uh, he won't be helpful to us," and I said, "Now, you just wait and see. We have a better opportunity to get money out of the governor than anybody else that I know of." So, we did. I said, "I'm gonna try to get you all a 10 percent increase in salary two years in a row." And we were successful in getting that done, not all from state appropriation, but from other we got those two 01:54:00increases, which I think was very beneficial to the university.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: But you work on a two-way track. You've got to kinda get along with the governor, because if you get crosswise with him, he's gonna cut you off at your knees. And, uh, he's got a very difficult thing. Uh, I regret that, uh, both candidates ran on a campaign that we don't need any more revenue, because you do. And, uh, you look back on that, you don't, Wilkinson tried to get a revised tax law.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: He was gonna put the tax more on services and less on income, which, if he had been successful, we wouldn't be faced with this issue today, because you'd had a tax program which was growing more than the 01:55:00manufacturing job, or waitresses, or whatnot. And so he has a, uh, Todd has a difficult row to hoe.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: I'm for Todd. I was for him, uh, for him getting the position of president. And, uh, I don't see how we can do what we ought to be doing without more revenue.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: And I think that the commitment that Fletcher made that there will be no individual, uh, tax program, uh, but he wanted to have a revision of the whole thing. And there's just no sense in the world, when you don't have a reasonable tax on cigarettes.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: While I was at U.K. on the board, we also got, uh, this research property. The property that Coldstream has, had been granted, 01:56:00given to the University of Kentucky, presumably, and Frank Watts, who was then the general manager of the newspaper, was very influential of getting that gift when Chandler was governor. But they took the title and the name of the state rather than the name of the state for the use of benefit of the University of Kentucky. So, when I got out there, I prevailed on Wallace to change that, to give the University of Kentucky the technical title to the property, so it's in the name of the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the use and benefit of the University of Kentucky. So, with, uh, the help of the state governor and Scotty Baesler was mayor, and he and I were on good terms. We were able to work out, uh, the extension of the sanitary sewer system to Coldstream, 01:57:00which would permit it to be developed. Todd was our first tenant, incidentally, when he brought, uh, the, uh, subsidiary cooperation of, uh, General Motors--

MOYEN: --um-hm--

OCKERMAN: --as the first building that is off Citation Boulevard. And, uh, we worked that all out. So, to keep that thing moving, is, takes money. We have a pharmaceutical, uh, enterprise on the University of Kentucky, our College of Pharmacy is one of the third or fourth ranking highest in the United States. And, uh, we tried, and they've been trying, or -----------(??) years since I was there, to get some pharmaceutical industries located out there. And they're on a lead somehow and may be able to do it. But again, in cutting the revenue to 01:58:00the University of Kentucky hampers their ability to do these things.

MOYEN: Right.

OCKERMAN: It's just forty-one million dollars a year, I don't, even six months, forty-one million dollars in six months out of the universities system of which what, twenty-one million is going to be University of Kentucky's lick. And I think the theory of, uh, trying to get into the university to take their funds and reduce state appropriations is an abominable, uh, method of doing business. Because anything that we need to do, and have in recent years done in a pretty good fashion is help our educational system. So, now we cut, cut, cut.

MOYEN: Right. Um-hm. Well, in my research that I've, had been doing, I'm, I'm pretty lacking in the 1970s. Is there anything that you 01:59:00were involved in the 1970s, in particular? Or, or was that primarily private, uh, law practice?

OCKERMAN: Oh, I think primarily, uh, during that period of time, I was really devoting my energy to the practice of law.

MOYEN: Okay. What have I missed? About, about your time in public service, particularly dealing with the legislature?

OCKERMAN: Well. I don't know that you missed anything. I think, uh, I think that looking back on my career of public service, uh, many people who've done as much in politics as I have, have been, have reaped much greater rewards. And, uh, maybe I was a little bit too straight-laced, too hard on myself. Other than, uh, getting me well known, I don't 02:00:00know that politics has helped me too much.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

OCKERMAN: It's, uh, a very demanding avocation. And, uh, other people don't mind using your time. They're very liberal with your time. And it's just like, and I'm not saying this critically, but Breathitt got me involved in this water issue. And, uh, and the reason that I'm for it, when I was an attorney for the city in the fifties, the then mayor Shelby Kincaid and I went to Philadelphia to met Mr. Ware, the chairman of the board of American Water Works, and that time the franchise was coming up again. And, uh, we tried to enter into negotiations to buy the water company. Mr. Ware is a fine old gentleman, told stories, and stories, and stories, and wouldn't talk 02:01:00about water, buying the water company, or selling the water company. I'd say, "Mr. Ware, we came here to talk to you about trying to buy the water company." He'd say, "Young man I know what you came here for but I don't want to talk about it." So we were unsuccessful. But anyhow, I tried back at that time. I just think it's a good thing for the community, if you could get it accomplished.

MOYEN: Well, I thank you for being liberal with your time this afternoon to meet with me.

OCKERMAN: I hope I haven't said anything misleading about it. Maybe I ought to have a little cabby(??). I don't know. (Moyen laughs) Better go back and check records to see how I've enlarged on things a little bit perhaps.

MOYEN: Right. I appreciate it, I think you did a great job. Thanks.

[End of interview.]