Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Transcript

ROMOND: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative Dexter Wright, who represented Jefferson County in the Thirty-Eighth District from 1964 to 1972 and from 1976 to 1980. The interview was conducted by Jan Romond for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project on January 9, 2006, in the home of Mr. Dexter Wright, in Louisville, Kentucky, at 11:15 AM.

[Pause in recording.]

ROMOND: This morning, I'm talking with Mr. Dexter Wright. Mr. Wright, could you tell me where and when you were born?

WRIGHT: I was born in Linden, Indiana, in 1921.

ROMOND: Did you grow up there?


WRIGHT: No, my parents both passed away and I moved to Bloomfield, Indiana. I stayed with my grandparents until I was fifteen years old.

ROMOND: Fifteen.

WRIGHT: Um-hm.

ROMOND: How old were you when your parents died?

WRIGHT: I was three when my mother died and four for my, when my father died.

ROMOND: Um-hm. So, then you went to Blooming--

WRIGHT: --Bloomfield, Indiana.

ROMOND: Bloomfield, Indiana.

WRIGHT: That's where my grandparents lived and I stayed with them and worked in a grocery store to help them because they, they were, uh, not wealthy people and there were five of my siblings. I had four siblings, miss.

ROMOND: Oh my.

WRIGHT: So, uh, they couldn't take care of all of us and I went to work and went to school.

ROMOND: So, your grandfather and grandmother had a grocery store.

WRIGHT: No, no, no, no--

ROMOND: --no, they didn't--

WRIGHT: --I just worked in the grocery stores--

ROMOND: --oh--

WRIGHT: --no, no they lived on a small place in Bloomfield.

ROMOND: Um-hm. And what was their work?

WRIGHT: My grandfather was a contractor.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And of course he was retired then. Uh, when, when I was a young 00:02:00man, he was retired.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Uh, my grandmother was just a housewife.

ROMOND: Were they your mother's kin --

WRIGHT: --no, my daddy's parents.

ROMOND: Your daddy's parents.


ROMOND: And did you ever know your mother's parents, your other grandparents?

WRIGHT: No, I never knew her mother or father. Unh-uh. No, I, I met a step-grandmother one time but that was all. This, I don't know, didn't know any of her family.

ROMOND: Um-hm. What about your brothers and sisters?

WRIGHT: I had two brothers and two sisters. And, uh, uh, my two sisters just passed away last year. And, uh, pardon me, one brother passed away about seventeen years ago, and the other one about three years ago.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Where were you in the five children?

WRIGHT: I'm the baby.

ROMOND: You're the baby--

WRIGHT: --I'm the baby--

ROMOND: --of the family--

WRIGHT: --yeah, um-hm, yeah.

ROMOND: Yeah. Um, how far back do your family roots go in Kentucky or 00:03:00are you the first person in your family to come to Kentucky?

WRIGHT: No, I have two sisters that lived here before me.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: They came here in, uh, one of them came in 1936, she went to Saint Anthony school, a nursing school. And the other one followed her, I don't remember what year. Then I came to Kentucky in 1939.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Did you come to Louisville?

WRIGHT: Yes, that's where my sisters lived, and I, I came here, um-hm.


WRIGHT: Um-hm.

ROMOND: Okay. What was the neighborhood like that you grew up in, where your grandparents were--

WRIGHT: --oh, it was, it was a good neighborhood, one of the best in that little town. And I--

ROMOND: --it was a small town?

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, wasn't twenty-five hundred people.

ROMOND: Oh, um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah.

ROMOND: And where did you go to school?

WRIGHT: I went to, uh, Bloomfield--well, I went to, first we moved up in the country, way up in the, in Spencer County. And I went to a little 00:04:00one-room school called Splinter Ridge, Indiana.

ROMOND: Splinter Ridge.

WRIGHT: Splinter Ridge, and, uh, and after that I got to, to high school, I went to Patricksburg(??) High School for one year and, uh, and played basketball there. And had to walk seven miles after basketball practice and--

ROMOND: --to get home?

WRIGHT: To get home, yeah, um-hm. (laughs) But then we moved back to Bloomfield.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, that's, uh, that's when I had to go to work.

ROMOND: At the grocery store.


ROMOND: Um-hm. Do you remember any activities outside of school from grow, your growing up days?

WRIGHT: Very little. I didn't have any activities. I was, I had to work. And I mean, I meant(??) namely--well, I did play basketball some and, and football. But that didn't last too long. I mean, uh, because I had to go back, go to work. And, uh, my, my youth, I, it just kinda of a shadow; I don't remember much of that youth, young, young life 00:05:00at all.

ROMOND: Um-hm, Um-hm. Um, when, who were the influential people from your young life? Were they your grandparents, or do you remember teachers from schools?

WRIGHT: Oh, I remember some teachers, but I, I don't remember them being influential. The main one was my grandfather. Uh, he, he was a, just a fine man. I just worshipped him. And, uh, but he was a main influence in my life, I mean.

ROMOND: What was he like?

WRIGHT: Uh, kind, lovable, baldheaded, he looked like Dwight Eisenhower.

ROMOND: Did he?

WRIGHT: Yeah, exactly like Dwight Eisenhower. And I, you know, I never heard him swear a day in his life. Uh, the worse words I've heard him use is, "Grab darn it!" (both laugh) I, I'll never forget, one time I 00:06:00was driving, he, he, we had, working out in the field, and, and I was just a kid, and then he needed some gas for the tractor. He said, "Can you drive the car?" And I said, "Oh, yes, I can drive it." "Go up and get the gas." So I drove it up to the, the barn. And, and, uh, got the gas. Half an hour later, I was still facing the barn; I couldn't back away from the barn. And--

ROMOND: --(laughs)--you could only drive forward.

WRIGHT: I could drive forward. And, and I had to walk all the way back in the field and then he said, "Well, grab darn it, son, you told me you could drive!" And that was the last time I told him anything that I couldn't do. (both laugh) Yeah.

ROMOND: After you get, got out of high school, did you go to college, or did you work, or did you join the service, or?

WRIGHT: Oh I, I worked up until, uh, of course I went to the service in 1942, I think it was, '42 or '43. But I worked, and then when I came 00:07:00back from, from, uh, the Army, I continued my education, got my GED.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I attended the University of Louisville for seven or eight years at nighttime, I think I collected sixty-three hours or--

ROMOND: --oh my gosh--

WRIGHT: --seventy hours, and I, but at the same time I was doing that, I was traveling, I had a traveling job.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, so I'd go to school two or three nights a week and then go out on the road, and , uh. So I never did get a degree at school, but , uh, I got one of the best degrees there is: the school of hard knocks. (laughs)

ROMOND: The school of hard knocks.


ROMOND: The school of experience.

WRIGHT: Experience, right.



ROMOND: And you were in the Army during World War II.

WRIGHT: Yes, um-hm. I was in France and, uh, and Germany. And, uh, we were, uh, as the war ended, we were in, uh, the Le Havre, France, just taking jungle training, due, due to get on board ship and head for 00:08:00Japan, to invade Japan.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, that's when Harry Truman dropped the bomb and the next day we got orders to come back home, so.


WRIGHT: And I came back home, and I, and I was a staunch Republican and I said, "If I ever get home, I'll vote for Harry Truman; I don't care what he is!" And so, I did back then. But he saved a lot of lives; I mean, no question about it. I mean, he killed a lot of people. We did, I mean, but he saved up a lot of lives.

ROMOND: What was your job--

WRIGHT: --I was--

ROMOND: --in the, in the Army--

WRIGHT: --in the Army. First I was in the infantry, and then I went to engineer. And rebuilding hospitals and roads and things, and I was foreman of engineering.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I was a sergeant when I was discharged. Well, I was, was acting first sergeant, but officially I was a sergeant when I discharged. And I--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --uh, then I went back, I worked at the naval ordnance station when I went in the service, then I went back there and stayed there 00:09:00until 1949. Then I went into sales and, uh, with B. F. Goodrich company and, uh.

ROMOND: When you got out?

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Do you think that your experience in the Army, building had anything to do with your going into real estate?


ROMOND: Later? No.

WRIGHT: No, no, no, actually, if there's anything--I really don't know what guided me into that. There was one man that I went to church with, and, and he told me one time, says, "Why don't you take the real estate license?" I was a, uh, what I'd call an outgoing person. You know, I mean, I, I love people. And, uh, and, and I had been successful with selling, too, by the way.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: So, uh, uh, I was, at one time, I was, there were four of us in one of our sales organization. And I was top dog for the whole time I was there. And, uh, so, uh, but I just, uh, and when he got me 00:10:00into real estate business, and I decided to go into it by myself, some people called. Uh, they were building a big subdivision and they asked me to come and sell all the subdivision. And, uh, so I listed that and sold three hundred houses within two years.

ROMOND: This is right after you got your license.

WRIGHT: Right after I got my license, um-hm. In 1963 or '64, somewhere along in there, yeah. Oh that, yeah, it was '64, because I was elected right after I took that subdivision over.

ROMOND: My gosh!

WRIGHT: And so, I wrote twenty-two contracts in one day.

ROMOND: In one day.

WRIGHT: Um-hm, yeah. People don't believe that, but I, I can prove it, I mean if I had to go back to the archives, you know.


WRIGHT: But I did, I wrote twenty-two contracts.

ROMOND: That's amazing.

WRIGHT: I lost one out of 22. There was a fellow lied about his financial condition.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Otherwise they all closed, I mean.

ROMOND: You mentioned meeting somebody at church who sort of encouraged 00:11:00you about the real estate license. Was ch--

WRIGHT: --yeah--

ROMOND: --was church a part of your growing up?

WRIGHT: Oh church, I, I was really active in church when I came back from the service. I was a, what you call a steward in the Methodist church and, uh, active on the board of, uh, uh, you know, the board of directors.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And then I was chairman of the finance commission and I was on the commission on missions.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, and really active in church for a long quite a while.

ROMOND: Um-hm. How do you think church influenced your values?

WRIGHT: Oh I think that was, of course that could go back, I think my grandparents in-, in-, influenced my values, too. We, I was in church with them, but, uh, you know, no, I have just very vague memory of it. But, uh, uh, I would say then, yeah, church had something to do with it; there's no question about it. Because I was, uh, I had developed 00:12:00a, an attitude about church where I felt like I just had to be there, you know, do the work and, and, uh, be one of the, and the finance committee, I mean I just, uh, that's what really got me going real good because I, I felt like everybody should tithe, and, uh, I was really strong at the end of that time, and, uh, so, uh.

ROMOND: It was your experience in the war that, that was the, at the root of your wanting to be so active in church?

WRIGHT: No, that, this was before on the war, that I went--

ROMOND: --oh, before the war--

WRIGHT: --yeah, um-hm, yeah. No, that, this was before the war.

ROMOND: Okay. How did you get involved in politics?

WRIGHT: Well, I tell you, that church that I went to--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --there were four or five people who came to me, because I was active in church, and--


ROMOND: --right--

WRIGHT: --asked me if I would run for public office. And I thought, and I thought about my grandfather, that flashed through, and I said, "Yeah, I think so because my grandfather," and I--

ROMOND: --what about your grandfather--

WRIGHT: --uh--

ROMOND: --made you think about--

WRIGHT: --oh, he loved politics. And he--

ROMOND: --oh, he did!

WRIGHT: --oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, he, he loved, that's all he talked about, politics and, and, uh, played checkers, he did that--

ROMOND: -- ------------(??)--

WRIGHT: --all the time, yeah, um-hm.

ROMOND: Was he ever in politics himself?

WRIGHT: No, he just--

ROMOND: --very interested in it.

WRIGHT: Very interested in it, and had all the books and, uh, the laws and everything, a little library in the, of the--but he, he, actually, I guess his influence was on, had a lot to do with me getting into politics, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I mean, the, the, but these people asked me if I would run and, uh, and they had, they, uh, selected me as, as a candidate. And then they dropped me, the party dropped me. And, uh, so I ran as an 00:14:00independent, and I got beat the first time. The second time around they came around to me and begged me to run that time. And, uh, that's when I was elected.

ROMOND: And this was the Republican Party--

WRIGHT: --the Republican Party, um-hm--

ROMOND: --um, that asked to you run--

WRIGHT: --yeah--

ROMOND: --and backed you.

WRIGHT: Yes, that time--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --yeah. They backed me with, with their mouth, but not with their money. (laughs)

ROMOND: What was the political climate like in your district--

WRIGHT: --oh it, it--

ROMOND: --when, when you first ran?

WRIGHT: Oh, it was strictly a, a Democrat district. I mean, out registered two-to-one. And, uh, the only reason I won, I mean, I walked every precinct and I had people, I had a 150 volunteers that we walked every weekend. And door-to-door. And, uh, if I wasn't with the person, they would say, "Now, if you want to talk to Mr. Wright, he's over here. We'll go get him," and, I mean, we walked the district.


ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, and of course my district was, like I say, it was out registered two-to-one Democrat.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I won it, uh. The only reason I lost the one term in between there is, uh, was the fact that, uh, Watergate, you know--

ROMOND: --oh--

WRIGHT: --all that Nixon thing came up and that beat me then I came--

ROMOND: --that was hard on the Republicans.

WRIGHT: Oh yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Then I came back and beat the guy that beat me, beat me a 135 votes and I beat him 1800 the next time. So, um.

ROMOND: Was your grandfather still alive when you won the first time?

WRIGHT: No, I would have given anything if he had been. I have always, I told my daughter, I said, "I'd have given anything if my grandfather could sit up in the balcony when I was sworn in, in the"--

ROMOND: --oh, yeah.

WRIGHT: You know, I thought about him several times, I'd look up there and say, "Man, I wish he was up there!" Cause I know he'd be busting his britches, you know. (both laugh) So to speak, yeah.


ROMOND: So proud.

WRIGHT: Proud, he was a proud man, yeah.


Proud man.

And he had something to do with it, too.

WRIGHT: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah--

ROMOND: --the fact that you were there--

WRIGHT: --he had a lot to do with it. Yes, he had a lot to do with it, you know.


WRIGHT: Yeah, no question about it. I mean, some, you don't remember, but, you know, there's things that he said and done that, that--

ROMOND: --sure--

WRIGHT: --that, uh, they helped me along, I mean.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But he was a proud man. And, uh, and I was his favorite out of all his kids. And, and, uh, and I was his grandson.


WRIGHT: And he told the people in, in the town, he said, "That boy has done more for me than any of my kids have." I used to go visit him when I, as I got older, and he was up there in Indiana, and I'd take him a box of cigars, you know.


WRIGHT: And, uh, and, and I'd take the first layer of the cigars out and put a dollar bill in it. I wasn't making that much money, and, and I'd put a dollar bill in it. And he, he remembered all that. And, uh, he 00:17:00was 82 when he died, so.

ROMOND: Yeah, yeah. What was--

WRIGHT: --but--

ROMOND: --what was that first campaign like, your first taste--

WRIGHT: --the first--

ROMOND: --of campaigning?

WRIGHT: Oh it was, I loved it, I mean--

ROMOND: --you loved it.

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, I mean, I loved meeting the people, and, you know, I didn't stand around lie to them. I said, "I'm just gonna represent you the best I can. And if you need something, you want me to do something, you'll call me," you know.

ROMOND: What did you think the needs of the people in your district were at that time?

WRIGHT: At that time? Uh, well, now that's asking me to go back a long time. Uh.

ROMOND: Or even over the years, what, what were you--

WRIGHT: --well, they just didn't, they, they weren't very well represented prior to me being there. Getting anything done as far as streets, sidewalks, and things done.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Uh, schools were, were one of the main things. I mean, that's, 00:18:00that's when we had, got into the busing thing, you know, and all that, and, uh.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But that was some of the main issues, that, and I guess it was the main issue because I visited all the schools.

ROMOND: Did you?

WRIGHT: In, in the district, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I, I was, I spoke to classes in every school.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah.

ROMOND: I noticed in the, uh, House Journal that has all of the bills--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --in it that you introduced many bills that had to do with education.

WRIGHT: Yeah, um-hm, sure did, um-hm.

ROMOND: And teachers.

WRIGHT: Yeah. The teachers, uh, never supported me.

ROMOND: Really!

WRIGHT: But I supported them, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah, they, they didn't like me because I didn't want them to be unionized.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Because I was an-, anti-union as far as the teacher. There're a lot of things, I think the unions destroyed a lot of businesses. I mean, still do. But, uh, that wasn't, I mean, I wasn't pro-union and 00:19:00that's, I guess that's the reason they didn't support me. But, uh, but, yeah, I, I introduced a lot of bills. You know, I, I introduced some bills on the, on adoption, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And on abortion.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, I supported the only bill that was passed during that one time for, against, uh, abortion, I mean. It's the only one that passed. It still law, I mean, I can't remember what it was now but I know, uh, and I've been strong pro-life. Of course, you'd see why ----------(??)--------- adopted and, uh, uh, uh, and then the adopted children come up there and they were fussing and wanting to know more about their life and all. And I said, "The only reason that they are that way, because they, they're not happy with the people adopted them," and they were trying to destroy those people. And I, of course, I was against that opening the records up at that time.


ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, uh, in fact I had a bill up there, and during the whole session, I, I held a, the Governor(?) was trying to pass it out ------- ---(??)---------- session.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, I'm, you know, I was just, uh, I just felt like if they could get themselves together and get some help, mental help, I mean, they'd be all right, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Of course, there's some bad adoptive parents, but there's a lot of good ones, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I've got--now my daughter, the oldest daughters--I've got three daughters. None of them could have children. She had six; one of the adopted three up in Indiana; one of them here has adopted two from China; and another one adopted one from China.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: So, uh, you know, it's just, I, I, I, of course, adoption was to me--and then that's, and then when you talk about pro-life, I mean, I 00:21:00used her as a, in a speech one day. I didn't, I didn't, she was up the balcony, and I was talking against abortion. And I said, I said, "You look up and I'll show why I'm against abortion."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I pointed to her.

ROMOND: To Dawn.

WRIGHT: To Dawn, yeah, she was just--

ROMOND: --your daughter--

WRIGHT: --just a little bitty thing, you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And , uh, in fact shortly after that she was on the front page of the Courier-Journal.

ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: With the Senate up on my desk in Frankfort, talking with a microphone to the speaker of the House. She said, "Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker!" (laughs) And he, he recognized her.

ROMOND: How old was she?

WRIGHT: She, four? I got the picture.


WRIGHT: The picture is in there. Uh.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I'll show to you if it's there on my desk, it's in, pull the thing out. But it was in the front page, on the front page of the 00:22:00Courier-Journal and, uh, I went and got out to the car and leaving to go to Frankfort, and the woman next door said, "What do you think of the morning paper?" And I said, "What, what about it?" "Well, did you see the front page?" And I said, "Uh, yeah, but I don't," you know, "Well, go back in and look at it." (Romond laughs) It was my daughter about that big.

ROMOND: It was your own daughter. (laughs)

WRIGHT: Yeah. (both laugh) And I say, "Well, it's something else, isn't it!" (Romond laughs) But, anyhow.

ROMOND: So, when you went to the--excuse me--to the legislature, you had expectations of helping the people in your district--

WRIGHT: --yeah, it was a big--

ROMOND: --of being a voice for them.

WRIGHT: That's all.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah, um-hm.

ROMOND: And, and how did it turn out? Did, do you feel like you were able to meet those expectations that you had? Or, how did it turn out when you actually got in there?

WRIGHT: Oh, I, I, I said, I had to meet the expectation because I was 00:23:00elected--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --uh, well I don't know how many race that I'd run, primary and general election, maybe sixteen races that I run.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: So it had, I had to meet their expectations or I would never got to vote back, you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, and I did. I mean, I, I'd go to their meetings, out the, uh, the local meetings. And , uh, and really I never, uh, I don't have(??) any doubt, I felt like I had served the people.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, of course, when I was elected, I would've, I would've gonna up there for nothing. I wasn't looking for a salary at all, because we, when I first went up there, we got twenty-five dollars a day, and twenty-five dollars in expenses. Well, you know what that amounts to even back then.

ROMOND: Oh my gosh.

WRIGHT: If you had to spend the night, you know, that twenty-five dollars is gone, but, uh, but that's what we, that's what we, uh, went up there. And, and I never, all of time I was there, never voted for a 00:24:00salary increase.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I never voted for, uh, uh, a pension increase. Voted against all pension increases and, uh.

ROMOND: Um-hm. What was it like the first time when you went to the General Assembly and you had just been elected and you were a new, uh, state representative--

WRIGHT: --um-hm--

ROMOND: --what were your surprises or what were your thoughts about being there?

WRIGHT: Well, I thought, my, here I am. And what am I gonna to do. And, uh, I, I don't know, it just seems like it was natural.

ROMOND: Did it?

WRIGHT: Seems like it was a natural thing for me to be there and for me to be involved. And, uh, and I picked up pretty quick. I mean, on, uh, on what to do, and the meetings, and all. And understood the, uh, the Robert's Rules of Orders. I mean, never read them before.



I understood the functions of the General Assembly and, uh--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --uh, uh, I was, I was really surprised at how easy I picked up.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I mean, uh, and it was a lot of fun. I mean I enjoyed every bit of it. I mean, uh, of course and--go ahead.

ROMOND: Uh, was there unity among the Louisville representatives--

WRIGHT: --oh, yeah, yeah--

ROMOND: --and senators, or not necessarily?

WRIGHT: Yeah, there was unity among, yeah, the local ones, yeah, sure was, um-hm.

ROMOND: That must have been a sizeable group of people--

WRIGHT: --no, no, no--

ROMOND: --from your dist--

WRIGHT: --it wasn't too big back then. You mean--

ROMOND: --from Louisville?

WRIGHT: You mean, members of the House of Representatives?

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: No, there was more, uh, uh, more Democrats than there was Republican. Uh, but--

ROMOND: --so, so you were separated by party then.

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, yeah, you're separated by party in Frankfort.

ROMOND: So you're, so there, the unity was amongst Republicans and 00:26:00Democrats separately.

WRIGHT: Right, um-hm, yeah.

ROMOND: So, there were many more Democrats.


ROMOND: I see. I meant as an entire group.

WRIGHT: Right, yeah.

ROMOND: But there was, there was not unity among the entire group of--

WRIGHT: --no--

ROMOND: --people--

WRIGHT: --it was kinda--

ROMOND: --it was divided--

WRIGHT: --fractured--

ROMOND: --by party--

WRIGHT: --yeah, yeah. I, I was fortunate. I mean, I think I was because I had decided that I wasn't going to be a strong partisan person.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I mean, the arrangements with some of the, uh, delegation out in the state, "the country boys," as we called them, and, uh, I made a deal with them and said, "If you, when you tell me something, you give me your word."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: "And I'll give you mine, and then we don't discuss it anymore. If I tell you I'm gonna help you, forget it." And I did and I, and I had a lot of Democrats supported me, and when I introduce a bill, I 00:27:00mean, uh.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: So that, that was, that was the part that I enjoyed, too, because they couldn't understand, a lot of our people couldn't understand why I could get along with those Democrats. And I, well, they're just like me, you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: They're human beings, you know. And then we got our, our do's and don'ts and, uh, but I enjoyed the, that part of it, and, um, and even to the last. I mean, I was getting along well with all the Democrats. And the, and the Governors, I got along with them.

ROMOND: Um-hm. You served under five Governors.

WRIGHT: Um-hm.

ROMOND: Starting with Edward Breathitt.

WRIGHT: Ned Breathitt, right.

ROMOND: Um, what are you memories about them? Do you have memories that stand out about each of them?

WRIGHT: I do about Ned Breathitt, probably Louis Nunn, and some of them, I have to go along with, but anyhow, Ned Breathitt was in his final, final years, you know, and Ned was a real nice fellow.

ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: Yeah, he was a nice fellow, but he just wasn't strong, you know. 00:28:00He not, not a strong leader. And, uh, but I, I got along with him fine. I mean, I had some, I had to make a deal with him on some couple of things. Uh, on a bill or two, and, and he'd, he'd make a commitment with me, and I say, "Well, now, you go get it done, and I'll do, I'll do what I say," you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And he had, that one bill--I don't know what it was in particular--but it was in the Senate, my bill was hung up in the Senate and his was hung up in the House, and I was the one that had it hung up, you know. And so I say, "You go down there, when that bill comes in the House, back to the House, passes here, yours will be down there." And he was, he was walking the floor, I mean. You know, the Governor's walking the floor down there to get it. And it came over, and, uh, I got his out, sent it back. And, and that was all there was to it. Yeah. But I knew he, he came in and tried one time to, uh, uh, 00:29:00suggest some things to the, the Republican caucus. And it just didn't work.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I mean, you know, it would with me, but it wouldn't with a lot of the fellows. And Louie Nunn, of course, Louie was, uh, Louie was never a favorite of mine; I was, I campaigned for Marlow Cook for Governor back when Louie Nunn was elected.


WRIGHT: Marlow Cook was a friend of mine here in town. And, and a county judge and, and in fact, I put him on the ticket and , uh, was instrumental in his whole campaign, setting up his organization state- wide. And Louie Nunn never did quite forgive me for that.


WRIGHT: And, uh, but Louie won and, uh, I supported his programs.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You know, I supported what he wanted done. And, uh, uh, then years later he, he always, he kidded me, and he say, "Well, I got some of your money in, in one county." And I said, "Well, I got yours here 00:30:00in this county," so, I mean, you know(??), that's politics, you know.

ROMOND: It is.

WRIGHT: Yeah. No, I said, "Well, I got yours here," and I said, "I could tell you how much you gave so-and-so." But, uh, and the last time--(laughs)--uh, I never will forget--he, he was a dumping money all over the place. So--(laughs)--I came, I told him to give it to this fellow, he was a Catholic priest.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And he wasn't very active in politics, and he did. Well, that didn't--and the priest said, "What am I going to do with it?" I said, "Give it to the orphans."


WRIGHT: You know, give it to the needy in your church. (laughs)

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, but Louie never did know that, but that's, this, that's true, I, I think it was around ten thousand dollars.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But, but Louie was a good Governor. He was one of the best, and I'd tell you but, uh, he had some awful bad people around him.

ROMOND: Did he?

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah, they weren't real straight people. And , 00:31:00uh, he had some, and he had some good ones.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: He had some pretty ornery ones, too. And, uh, but he was a good Governor.

ROMOND: Um-hm. It was when he was Governor is when , uh, the civil rights riots were happening in Louisville?

WRIGHT: Yeah, um-hm.

ROMOND: What are your memories about those?

WRIGHT: Oh, you shouldn't ask that, I was right in the middle of that one. I was, uh, managing Marlow Cook's campaign. We had an office down on Fourth Street. And, uh, uh, he, when they had the riot, a big riot down there. I had a staff in the book(??) building down there and, uh, my car, I don't remember where I parked it, but anyhow, they were having that riot and I was right down the street, within a block of it, where there was rioting. And they called me to get out of there. And they said, "We'll send the police after you," the county 00:32:00police. And I got all my people out.


WRIGHT: And then the county police came and picked me up, and I, and they said, "We're not gonna get your car; we're taking you home." So they took me right home. And, uh, a couple of days later I came back. And, uh, uh, they were just tearing up jack downtown, I mean, all over the place. And, but I'll never forget the, when the police came. I mean, there was three of them. They-- (laughs)--took me right out, said, "Get, get out, lock this place up."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And so, yeah, that was back in '68, wasn't it? [Nineteen] sixty- seven, '67 or '68.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Uh, '68, I think it was. Can't remember. I mean, yeah, but anyhow, yeah, I was involved in that, and I was involved in the, uh, school segregation thing, too. Uh, you know--

ROMOND: --the busing?

WRIGHT: The busing, I was involved. I was against that. And , uh, I 00:33:00was in all those marches they had.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You heard about those, I was one of the marchers, yeah, yeah, I mean I, I was very much opposed to busing. Still am, still think it was just a matter of, uh, trying to , uh, equalize--or I don't know what you call it--make it socialize with other people we didn't want to. Or, not that, I didn't care. I mean I didn't care if he was black or purple, I mean.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I just didn't want my kid bus from, from south Louisville, all the way to West End down by the river, twenty-five miles away.

ROMOND: Did you feel like the schools should be equal, they should have equal, uh, opportunities for--

WRIGHT: --oh--

ROMOND: --no matter what the school is.

WRIGHT: No question about it, yeah--

ROMOND: --fix the schools--

WRIGHT: --oh yeah, I said, that's what I said. And I said, "If you're gonna, if you're going to, uh, uh, put them all together, you know, consolidate them," I had a plan, I mean a good plan.


ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I don't know whether you read it, it was introduced. I mean, but I, I couldn't it passed. Uh, where you would have a, each district would be equal, like you're start in the middle, you'd make, make four districts, you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And that's where you start from is that point.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: People in this district will go to school here, and people in that district go there, and that.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: All four of them, and they wouldn't pass that. They, they, they didn't want that none. I, I said, "I'm gonna tell you, you're gonna let this busing come in, you're gonna let this thing go, and not consolidate, and do what's right, we're gonna have busing." Now that's before it ever happened. I said, "We're gonna have busing, now, you watch!" Two years later they were busing kids all over the place.

ROMOND: Um-hm.


ROMOND: Vietnam was going on then, too.

WRIGHT: That was going on--

ROMOND: --I mean, not just then, it was--

WRIGHT: --oh, it was so long, yeah--

ROMOND: --for a longer period of time.

WRIGHT: Uh, Vietnam, I see, yeah, it didn't end 'til six-, '68 or '72, 00:35:00yeah. That's when--

ROMOND: --in the early seventies--

WRIGHT: --Nixon, Nixon got that(??) then, yeah, yeah, it was going on, but I, you know, I never, uh, of course I've read about it, but never was, uh, really too involved--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --in that, I mean. But I, I think that those boys that fought over there have been, uh, uh, mistreated. No question about that they've(??) being mistreated, and the ones in Korea have been mistreated too. And they gave Bush problems for what he's done, but that had nothing to do with Vietnam. I mean, Vietnam was one of the worse things we've ever done. And even Korea. We didn't gain anything in either one of those; we gave up. Now, if, if Reagan would give up, or if Bush would give up now, it'd be the biggest mistake we'd make since we gave up Vietnam. We can't give up, we got to stay! I don't 00:36:00agree with it, but, uh, you know, but if you go into the Bible, what he's doing is exactly what the Bible says--

ROMOND: --hm--

WRIGHT: --try to create peace throughout the world and have everybody come to Jesus. That's all this is all about. Purely a religious war. And you're not gonna, those people are not gonna be happy, I don't care what they do, if -----------(??)----------- dies, no telling what's gonna happen in that area. But that's, you know, that's beside the point. I, uh, I just hate to see these young men have to go, but they have to. I mean, we got to, we have to do this, what's right. And the right thing is, in a sense, what we're doing. You know, I don't, I think it was a, a preemptive strike. I mean, I think that, 00:37:00uh, part of it was, uh, uh, political. And part of it is just, uh, someone who want to have power over other people. The young George Bush is a nice boy. But he's not my favorite. Of course, I, he-- (Romond laughs)--I'd rather have him than Kerry, or, uh, whoever else run up there, against him before, Al Gore. I mean, I didn't like Al Gore, but I, he's is a candy whopper, that boy is. I mean, I, uh, but , uh, but I think Bush, Bush is doing a, as good a job as he can under the conditions. And the, the Democrats are fighting it, you know, they just want to get back in office; that's the only reason they're starting all this crap that's going on. It's pure politics, all it is.


ROMOND: How did Vietnam play out in Kentucky? Was that an issue within Kentucky as far as the government of Kentucky went?

WRIGHT: I can't, I can't remember it being an issue at all. I mean I really can't. Other than , uh, when he wanted pass a bonus for those fellows, I mean, that, that played a part, but, uh, that's when they was wanting to raise the taxes to--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --give them a bonus. And, and I said no. I said give a bonus but don't, don't raise the damn taxes. They deserve a bonus.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But we don't need to raise anymore taxes.

ROMOND: What do you remember about Wendell Ford?

WRIGHT: Wendell was a, a nice, a nice fellow, but he was strictly a partisan politician. He did not like Republicans, period. And, uh, uh, but he was, I, when I served with him, I served with him and 00:39:00Julian Carroll. I was on the legislative, uh, uh, on the committee, what do you, uh, we have a committee in the legislation, a leadership committee, and, uh--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --and they would get at each other in the, in the meetings, and I would have to call them off every once in a while, you know. Now, what a minute, what a minute. (Romond laughs) Uh, I got along with both of them fine. Wendell, uh, Wendell had one man with him that was really a nice person. Miller out of Owensboro was one of Wendell's , uh, prime supporters, and he and I always got along fine.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But the, I never will forget, he, he was, he ended up being mayor of Owensboro. When I got beat that first time, he wrote a letter to me and said, "Dexter, you didn't lose; the people lost."


WRIGHT: And he was a big Democrat. I still got the letter.


ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah, he said, "You didn't lose; the people lost." And Ron Mazzoli, I got one from him, too. He said the same thing. He said, yeah, the people lost when you got beat. And, uh.

ROMOND: But you got to serve with both of them.

WRIGHT: Both of them, yeah, I served with both of them. Julian Carroll and, uh, Wendell Ford, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm.


ROMOND: Um-hm. And Julian Carroll, what was he like?

WRIGHT: Well, I, I've always liked Julian. He was--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --he was fair with me.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, he had some pretty rough characters around him, but I mean, I, I, uh, uh, you could, I could count on him personally. I mean, anything I'd ask him, why, it would be done.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, uh, on, on occasions, I mean, when someone who could have me take me on in the House, he'd, he'd set them down.

ROMOND: Really.

WRIGHT: Oh yeah. There was one fellow, he was a Republican taken me on, 00:41:00too. And, uh, he said, "That's not necessary." And ruled him out of order, and then, uh.

ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah. Said, "You can't impugn a man's character." That was me he was talking about, he said, "You can't do that."


"Because it is wrong." And, uh, but I always admired him for that. But Julian was a, a pretty good(??) Governor, I mean.

ROMOND: Um-hm. You were there when, uh, Thelma Stovall called a special session once, when Julian Carroll was out of town? Do you remember that?

WRIGHT: You know I don't remember that.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Was I there?

ROMOND: Between, uh, well, during Carroll's term. He, because some of the legislators were, um, felt like Julian Carroll had too much control 00:42:00over the legislature.

WRIGHT: Um-hm. You know, I don't remember that.


WRIGHT: But I, now he did exercise a lot of control.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I mean, of course, he'd been there. He was the speaker of the House. No, he had a lot of, a lot of friends in that General Assembly.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But, uh.

ROMOND: Um-hm. And then when John Y. Brown came in, he ran the government more like--

WRIGHT: --as a business--

ROMOND: --a business--

WRIGHT: --he did--

ROMOND: --yeah.

WRIGHT: Yeah, he did. And was the best, I mean, I, I have to give him credit. He didn't take anything off of anybody, didn't ask them for anything. And, and, uh, even the General Assembly, if he'd have them over for dinner or lunch some, he--pardon me--he'd never called you down and say, "Will you vote for this?"

ROMOND: Yeah, it was a very different style--

WRIGHT: --oh, altogether different--

ROMOND: --than people who had come before him.

WRIGHT: Right, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Before I mean, they, they, they directed the votes to the House. They'd set up, uh--pardon me--a list to, to the Democrats. "You vote 00:43:00for this bill, you vote for that bill."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: They had the ones marked(??) too, the ones were supposed to vote for.

ROMOND: That's a lot of power.

WRIGHT: Oh, too much. Too much, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah, we, we never, we never had that much under Louie Nunn.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Do you think it's since Brown changed that style about the power of the Governor's office, do you think that it has changed after Brown, the leadership style of Governors?

WRIGHT: Yeah, there's no question about it; it's, it's reverted back to the leadership in the House and the Senate. Uh, I mean, they, they control more than the Governor does--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --really and truly, yeah--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --yeah, yeah. Yeah, we got it back. I mean, uh--(coughs)-- 00:44:00pardon me.

ROMOND: What were, what do you consider to be some of major issues that the General Assembly was grappling with during the time that you were there, issues throughout the state, what were the big ones?

WRIGHT: Well, the big, one of the biggest is always education. Always, I mean, in that, that was always just(??) a problem. And of course highways was the, and things like that. I never, uh, the , uh, never too much on welfare or, uh, anything of that, but I say that education and, and taxes were always big, big things(??), I mean, you know, we're taxed more than any of the state, I think, the sixth largest in the country. And, uh, you know, you can walk out of the door and taxes on something. And, uh, now, I don't know what they're talking about 00:45:00up there now, but I'm telling you, it'll be, we'll be taxed some more before that's over with.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I mean, uh, uh, but that, I think that was a major issue is education has always been at the front, always.

ROMOND: Um-hm. During the time that you served, do you, did you see improvements in education in your own district?

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, I saw improvements and particularly when Governor Nunn was there. That was some of the biggest improvements in education that --

ROMOND: --really--

WRIGHT: --that were ever made when he was down there--

ROMOND: --Louie Nunn--

WRIGHT: --Louie Nunn, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Done more for education than any other Governor, um-hm.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And since that time, I don't know, but I mean, I know that he was, he was out front with, and very strong on education. And I, I would say, there've been some changes locally but not too much. You know, it doesn't, the state doesn't affect the local that much on education.

ROMOND: Hm. Do you think that KERA has made more changes since you left 00:46:00office than the Kentucky Education Reform Act?

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, it's made, it's made more changes than anything else, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I guess they're all good, of course, I haven't read about it that much. But, you know, once you get out and you kinda get, get the--well, you know, just like I say, the, uh, when I was in office, everybody knew--

[Pause in recording.]

ROMOND: You were saying that when you were in office, then everybody knew you.

WRIGHT: Everybody knew me and I was really, you know. But then when I got beat, about six months, they, Dexter who? You know--(both laugh)-- it wasn't, they didn't know me. They didn't know me at all. I mean, I couldn't do anything for them; that was it.


WRIGHT: Now the people in my district, I can't say that. I mean, they, they still kinda favor me, uh, except when I got, when I got beat with that last time, I got beat was, uh, by thirty-five votes.


ROMOND: Thirty-five votes?

WRIGHT: I think it was thirty-five, or something like that, real close. And the fellow that beat me was one of the biggest duds that ever walks, Dan Seum, you've heard of him? Well, he's state senator now. He's, he had, uh, oh, he still owes his ex-wife thirty or forty- thousand dollars in child support and that goes back twenty years ago. But, uh, he, he bought, he bought the office. I mean, no question about it. He, he had a lot to do with some of the people I thought were, were, uh, were, uh, close to the, the drug business.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I can't prove that.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I could if I wanted to, but I didn't, you know, I don't, I never used it against him. I never used a thing against him.


ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Uh, he had a record a mile long and I never did tell anybody. I never said anything about it. So it was a close race, but he's been in office now ever since then.

ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: Um-hm, yeah. Since 1980.


WRIGHT: He run, he beat me, and then he run two terms there and then he run for the Senate.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And now he, he was a Democrat; he switched over to Republican.

ROMOND: He is a Republican now.


ROMOND: He ran against you as a Democrat.

WRIGHT: Democrat, Um-hm. And the Republican Party took him and I couldn't understand why. In fact, I almost left the Republican Party over it.

ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: Yeah, I, I was, I was on verge of, uh, splitting off on, on this race we had in the Thirty-Seventh District, you know, where they, a 00:49:00woman was disqualified as a candidate, you know, who, you don't know about that, never read about it. Well, she got the most votes; it was Dan Seum's daughter. But she was disqualified because she didn't live in the district.

ROMOND: You mean, just recently?


ROMOND: Oh, I do know about that.



WRIGHT: Yeah. Well, she was, she was, that was his daughter, the fellow that beat me. And yeah, it was his daughter. And she was doing the same thing that he was doing, trying to get in the backdoor the, you know, they, they disqualified her other day. They knocked her off. And, uh, and I thought then, whenever, whenever they said she, uh, the, uh, Republican Party up there took her side. They was gonna--

ROMOND: --did they?

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, they seated, they put her in the, in and seated her. And, uh, I started to write the president of the Senate a letter, but I didn't. I just, you know--

ROMOND: --let it be--

WRIGHT: --let, no, not gonna do any good. They're not going to listen 00:50:00to me anymore. I mean, although I have, I had people call me out throughout the state, wanting to know if I'd help them a little bit, but, but, uh, I'm just not too, too hot on it right now. I mean, you know, eighty-four years old, why do you need that? You know, don't need a whole lot of problems. I got my babies, that's all I need. (both laugh) Got my babies.

ROMOND: Here they are, all around you.


ROMOND: Um, did you have a family when you first ran for office and throughout your time in office?

WRIGHT: I had, uh. No, I was single when I--

ROMOND: --when you first ran--

WRIGHT: --when I first ran.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Then I married. And, uh, uh, yeah, her mother, yeah, yeah, up 00:51:00until, yeah, up until, uh, well, she died in '92. I mean, that's so.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah, but she never--oh, she was with me in Frankfort some, but she got awful sick. She got mentally.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, uh, in fact, uh, I gave her credit for beating me.

ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: Yeah. She got awful nasty and, and accused, accused people of things, and, and me of things that were just not true. And, uh, I, uh--

ROMOND: --this was Dawn's mother?


ROMOND: Did she--

WRIGHT: --oh, Dawn won't, wouldn't have anything with her. She don't talk about it now at all. Sad, but that's the way it is. But, uh, yeah, she, she turned on everybody.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Blamed everybody for her disease and, uh. Her sisters, even turned on them.

ROMOND: Did she have MS, is that what you told me?


WRIGHT: MS and diabetes, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah. MS just, you know, you know what it does. It, the nervous system--

ROMOND: --deteriorates--

WRIGHT: --and all, yeah, and--

ROMOND: --the nerves and muscles?

WRIGHT: Yeah, and, uh, but she, uh, yeah, she, she done a lot of things. I mean, it hurt me. It really hurt me. I'm talking about hurt, you know, down in my heart and all.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, I stayed with her, twenty-eight years.

ROMOND: And you were, at least part of that time you were in the legislature.

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, yeah!

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I was all the time, except that one term that I lost and went back, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah, for sixteen years, I was, yeah, we were married, um-hm, yeah.

ROMOND: So that was a real challenge for you, in both places.

WRIGHT: Yeah, I had a challenge there and I had my business going and, uh.

ROMOND: Um-hm.


WRIGHT: Though, and you know, it was really some trying times. I had some, some of her family and some people, friends of mine, said, "I don't know how in the world you ever did that," you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: "How you kept going under all that pressure," because she really put me under a lot of pressure.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, that happens to people in life, but I mean that, uh, the Lord gave me strength enough to get through it.

ROMOND: So you, did you stay in Frankfort when you, when the House was in session, or were you able to come home because--

WRIGHT: --I was, you know, I was one of the few that drove home every day.

ROMOND: Because it's not that far.

WRIGHT: Yeah, except when it snowed real deep, I would stay.


WRIGHT: I didn't want to drive back in the snow and have to get up and be back there at seven--

ROMOND: --sure--

WRIGHT: --o'clock the next morning. But, uh, otherwise, no, I didn't stay, three times while I was up there. I was one of the few I'm talking about, even the local ones. I was one of the few local ones to 00:54:00do that.

ROMOND: Even other people from--

WRIGHT: --yeah, here, they stayed up there--

ROMOND: --Jefferson County.

WRIGHT: Yeah, they stayed. They like that party up there.

ROMOND: (laughs) The party part?

WRIGHT: Yeah. I guess I should tell you about the party--no, I don't, I don't think we should either. But, they were pretty bad. I mean, when I first went up there. I'd, I'd tell you the story. When I first went up there, I was there for the, the, the first day. I went to the Holiday Inn to eat and then came home. Someone came to my table and said, "Your bill has been paid."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I said, "No, it hasn't." "Yeah, that gentleman over there." I said, "Take him his money back! I don't take money from anybody." I said, "Nobody pays my bills."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And she, uh, the waitress was really shocked. And I said, "No, I'm, nobody buys me anything." And I walked out that backdoor to come 00:55:00out to my car, and there was people(??),lobbyist there telling you, "You want a woman, you go that way. And if you want liquor, you go that way."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I was totally devastated. I didn't believe it.

ROMOND: It wasn't how you imagined it was gonna be.

WRIGHT: Oh no, I never thought it'd be all that, you know, that trashy, I mean and.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But Lord, those guys, some of them would get so drunk, they couldn't hold their head up. And, uh, I remember one time, I was working on a bill and this fellow had told me he would help me with it, and I couldn't find him, and I went to the restroom, he was so drunk he couldn't hardly stand up. And I didn't want to bring him back out on the floor, because I needed one vote, one vote. And, uh, I didn't bring him back. He was a Democrat, too. He was for me, but he ------- ---(??), I mean.

ROMOND: He wasn't functional then.


WRIGHT: Oh no, no.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Wasn't even thinking right. But that's, that was my first impression of the filth that, that was going on. And then you could see as you went through the General Assembly, as it went through on time, you could tell who was getting paid off for this, or.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You know, there were pay off all the time. I mean, uh, uh, and that irritated me, too. I just, uh, when I went up there to serve the people, I didn't go up there to get anything out of it, no money, no nothing, and I went in to make a difference. I was making fairly good money and I said, "Well, I owe the people this. This is something that I really owe the people is to serve them."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, uh, but, uh, I know they came to me one time, uh, on a bill. There was a Democrat friend of mine up in, uh, up eastern part of the state. And, uh, they came to me and made me a big offer on 00:57:00this bill.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Well, I saw him leave, so I knew that they were going to go to him. So when he came back up, we both went outside, and he said, "What did they do?" I said, "The same thing they did to you; they made me a big offer." He said, "What we gonna do?" I said, "We're gonna kill it; we're going in there, I'm gonna make a motion to kill the bill, you're gonna second it, or either way."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: We did; we went in there and killed it. And the Governor was, uh, Wendell Ford that made the offer. But I got up and made the motion to table the bill, he seconded it, and boy, we put it away right quick.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, but I will never forget that. That guy was such a, he was a nice guy, straight as an arrow, you know, the one from the Senate, he was a Democrat, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: So, we, you know, you had two of us working together.


WRIGHT: You had to watch us. (laughs)

ROMOND: So that part of it was the disappointment.


WRIGHT: That's the disappointment, right.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Yeah. Yeah, it's, it's, and it's a big disappointment when you, uh, when your whole idea was to, to represent the people and be fair and honest in your judgments.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, you know, and you see that go on, and it went on--well, it went on until I left. I mean, they're still going on.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: There's people who went to jail, you know, prison over it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: One of my best friends went to prison over it.

ROMOND: Really!

WRIGHT: Yeah, that boy from, uh, uh, Owensboro, the, Blandford, Donald Blandford.


WRIGHT: Yeah. He sat in, I, I schooled him, when he first came, he's a Democrat. And he would have listen to me on votes, and I could talk to him. And I, and, of course, I was gone at the time he got caught on that, you know. But, but still, went to the penitentiary over a few 00:59:00dollars--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --and a woman, I mean.

ROMOND: What do you think happens to people?

WRIGHT: Selfishness. It's happening right now. Look at that idiot up there that's got all these members of the House and Senate running for cover during that, you, you saw him on television. He looks like a gangster. What's his name? Uh, but he looks like a gang-, he just looks like Al Capone. And, uh, why anybody would listen to him, I wouldn't, if he'd come to me and talk to me I wouldn't listen to a word he said.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Did lobbyists stop bothering you after a while--

WRIGHT: --oh yeah--

ROMOND: --when they knew that you were not going to accept money for votes?

WRIGHT: When they found out that I was not, then they started talking to me and telling me what was good about something and what was bad about. I said, "That's all I want you for."

ROMOND: Right, but you weren't for sale.


WRIGHT: I'm not, I'm not for sale. And, uh, uh, and now, oh yeah, they treated me reverently. I mean, not, you know, not, not, not push me away, but they, they respected me. And their job was to get votes, but I mean--

ROMOND: --right--

WRIGHT: --they didn't bother me too much(??)--

ROMOND: --then you could just get down to the issue itself.

WRIGHT: I was always on the issue. I mean, always!

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You tell me what's good about it, and, uh, I'll find out what's bad, if you don't want to tell me.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, that's the way it happened to me. And they, yeah they did, I mean I have to say, and when I left, I mean there's a lot of them that made the statement about that, too, that, that I'd always been fair with them. And, uh, and they knew where I stood.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, the, uh, I never, if we go on the bill on the, if something came up and some guy walked up to him and he said, "You will 01:01:00vote for this!" And I looked at him, I said--a great big fellow, I'll never forget, Junior ----------(??), big gambler outside of Louisville. It was on a bookie bill. And I said, uh, I looked at him, and I had to look up, "Let me ask you a question." I said, "You know, I was an orphan when I was three years old. And I didn't have a mother and father. They didn't tell me what to do. Then I lived with my wife. And she doesn't tell me what to do either. Now what the hell makes you think you're going to tell me what to do?"


And I walked in the room--

ROMOND: --what did he say?

WRIGHT: Oh he just, he just flat out walked against the wall. I mean- -(Romond laughs)--and he, uh, I walked in the room and killed the bill. You know, it was right outside the committee meeting and the bill was 01:02:00up for vote in the committee and I walked in and cold killed it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And boy, he was against me every time from then on. He spent a lot of money against me, yeah.



ROMOND: Tell me about some of the committees you were on. I know you were several times on business, organizations, and professions--

WRIGHT: --yeah--

ROMOND: --and you were on that several times.

WRIGHT: Yeah. Uh, you know, I can't hardly--

ROMOND: --public utilities.


ROMOND: Transportation.

WRIGHT: I can't, you know.

ROMOND: Education.

WRIGHT: Yeah, I was on education, yeah, for a while, um-hm.

ROMOND: Elections? You were the vice chair of elections.

WRIGHT: Elections, and constitutional amendments, um-hm.

ROMOND: Energy. (pause) In 1980--

WRIGHT: --yeah--

ROMOND: --you were on energy.

WRIGHT: Yeah. Uh, on education, of course, I can remember some of that. I mean, you know, in helping do what I could for education back then, 01:03:00but, uh--

ROMOND: --what were the problems in it, what were the big problems in ed-, education back then?

WRIGHT: Always money.

ROMOND: Money?

WRIGHT: Always money.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Always money. Higher education, elementary education, they always wanted more money.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: They didn't give a damn about anything, but just, "We need more money!"

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You know, I got to the point where you, I said, "You can throw a truck load of money at something and not do any good." But I, I, I did favor teaching, but that's every time that, never was anything that, that was beneficial to the children.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Do you think that, uh, educational--

WRIGHT: --(coughs)--pardon me.

ROMOND: Do you think that educational problems in the cities and the rural areas and the mountain districts were real different from each other--

WRIGHT: --oh--

ROMOND: --or the same, or--

WRIGHT: --no, they were real different. The problems we had here were, 01:04:00were a whole lot different to that--

[Pause in recording.]

ROMOND: You have met, um, some of the Presidents.

WRIGHT: Yes, I met, I, I think I've met about five, or six. I mean, Dwight Eisenhower, of course I met him years ago before he was President, uh.

ROMOND: In the war?

WRIGHT: During the war, after, right after the war, um-hm.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, and then I met, uh.

ROMOND: Was Eisenhower a commanding officer to you?

WRIGHT: Yeah, he was, he was the head of NATO. He was a--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --he was the, a World War II leader, I mean, general over all forces, uh, yeah.

ROMOND: All the armed forces.

WRIGHT: All the armed forces, all the countries, yeah, yeah, he was, he was a top man, uh, and, uh, after that was Lyndon Johnson. Uh, I 01:05:00remember Lyndon Johnson being here in the state in a, I, I think I met him but I'm not sure. I know I remember him going into, into mountain area and making speeches--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --and, and, uh, all that. But, uh, then, then from there was, uh.

ROMOND: Did you meet Richard Nixon?

WRIGHT: Yeah, Richard Nixon, yeah. I was Richard Nixon's campaign co- chairman back he ran for President in 1968.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: In fact I had a cocktail party for him at the Old Kentucky hotel in 1968, when he was running for office. I have pictures of him someplace with me. And, uh, uh, then at the same time that I was knew him, I was Marlow Cook senator, United States Senator Marlow Cook's campaign chairman.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Now he served six years and I was on his staff for six years.


ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: So, uh, I had some relationship with Nixon's, uh, Halderman and Erlichman the two--

ROMOND: --yes--

WRIGHT: --you remember the--

ROMOND: --infamous people.

WRIGHT: Yeah, infamous people. I had some personal conversations with them over some things and, uh--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --uh. And then, uh, who was Nixon, was that Jimmy Carter?

ROMOND: Ford. Well, Gerald Ford for--

WRIGHT: --oh, Gerald Ford, yeah--

ROMOND: --a short, shorter time.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah, well after Nixon resigned, Jerry Ford was there, yeah. He was a nice person, but he had his problems, too. He had drinking problems. And, uh, him and his wife both. And, uh, I was head of, head of protocol with him one time , uh, when he came to Kentucky. Had some personal contacts with him. Uh, I will never forget one time, we were down in, uh, London, Kentucky. He was there 01:07:00to make a speech. And, uh, he was standing right next to me. And, uh, I reached my hand down in, like I was going in my coat's pocket when I went in his. He said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Oh, I thought that was my coat pocket." (both laugh) And going back to Richard Nixon, uh, I've got a tie tack in there on the wall that says, "Nixon, President Nixon."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I took that off of President Nixon one day and he didn't know it. (Romond laughs) He was down here at the courthou--down at the federal building, he was making a speech and I was standing there by him. And he was really going and reached over and just clipped that off. And I've got it setting in there. (laughs) But anyhow I, I joked around with him, they were human beings as far as I was concerned, you know, so.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And then, uh, uh, Jerry Ford was a, a sad case, but, I mean, he, he fell into that office when Nixon resigned, and, uh.


ROMOND: He did.

WRIGHT: And then that was, after that was Jimmy Carter, yeah, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Uh, I met Jimmy Carter and I can't remember where it was. I think it was in Washington, D.C.

ROMOND: In Washington?

WRIGHT: Yeah, because I used to go up there with, on the senator staff every once in a while, you know, and.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And then Jimmy Carter and then, uh, Ronald Reagan, he was the next one--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --yeah.


WRIGHT: Yeah, of course I met Ronald Reagan back in '76, that's when I had a cocktail party for him, uh, uh, at the old Stouffers Inn downtown--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --in, in--that was long before he ran for President. But, uh, yeah, I met him, of course I've got that picture hanging, you saw me, him and Nancy. And, uh, uh, but he was a, he was a fine man. I just loved him. And, uh, and then of course I met, uh, George Bush, right 01:09:00after, uh, Ronald Reagan. I met him, uh, he was, uh, when he picked George Bush for Vice President, I was opposed to it(??). I was at the National--

ROMOND: --really--

WRIGHT: --Republican Party, the national, uh, candidate.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I was on the, uh, I went to the national convention, I was a member.



ROMOND: You were a delegate?

WRIGHT: I was a delegate, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And I, I did not want George Bush as Vice President.

ROMOND: Who did you want? Did you have somebody picked out?

WRIGHT: Bob Dole.

ROMOND: Bob Dole.

WRIGHT: Yeah, and of course, basically I wanted Bob Dole for President, too. But, uh, uh, I never cared for the Bushes. I never did too much. Uh, but, uh, of course he served one term and I knew, I knew that was all he was gonna serve because--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --the way he, you know, put his foot in his mouth all the time. 01:10:00And, uh, and George W. that's, uh, I think I met him here at the airport before he was President.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, now, uh, who was after, uh--oh, Jimmy, uh, the famous one, Bill Clinton--

ROMOND: --Bill Clinton--

WRIGHT: --I didn't know him.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I didn't miss anything there, I don't think, but then. (laughs)

ROMOND: You know, when you first came into office was a year after John Kennedy had been assassinated.

WRIGHT: Yeah, um-hm.

ROMOND: And do you think that that--what, what do you think was the impact of that and was it still lasting by the time you came to office?

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, you know, I, I, I didn't, I didn't care for John Kennedy.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Uh, but when he was shot--and I've read so much about him--I 01:11:00really respected the man.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I really did. And of course when, when, uh, Johnson came in, I had no respect for Lyndon Johnson. He was one of the biggest cutthroats, everybody in Washington and, uh, uh, I, I, I knew that things were going to be go downhill--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --because Kennedy, and Kennedy had, he had a positive attitude for this country.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, the country was for him, I mean, it was, it was ----- -----(??). Lyndon Johnson, it was all for me and what can I get out of this, I mean. And believe me, he got plenty. But, uh, yeah, I think it, oh, it did, I mean things started going downhill when Lyndon Johnson was elected. Uh, and up until, uh, Nixon had it all going for him, but 01:12:00that, that Watergate thing, you know, trying to be, uh, God, is what he wanted to be, he wanted to be God. And the fellows, Halderman and Erlickman are the two that made him think he couldn't be wrong.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, of course that was the discussion I've had with him, too. But, uh, but Nixon had it all going, but he just let it slip through his fingers.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But Ronald Reagan came in and it was just like a new light. Everything seemed to open up, it seemed like he, anything he'd say you could almost believe for word-for-word. But now, he did have that ability, to say and do what he said he was gonna do. He had that ability, and he could, he could make a believer out of you right quick. And, uh, uh, and then of course the, uh, George Bush that was 01:13:00there again, that was another story, I had not much use for him. And then, of course, Bill Clinton I didn't have any use for him at all. Not because he was a Democrat but I just didn't enjoy his, uh, way of life. I mean, the, using the, you know, he used the White House for filth and trash, I mean, to me. You know, that, that Lewinsky thing should never have happened in the White House. Now he, if he had gone someplace else, the mountains or someplace, I don't approve of it, but, it would, uh, it wouldn't have affected me near as much. Uh.

ROMOND: When you look back at politics in Kentucky now, compared to, or when you look back to how it was when you were in office, and compare it to how it is, how politics are now, what are your thoughts?

WRIGHT: My thoughts are that there are too many people involved in our 01:14:00government that are concerned with themselves. They're not concerned with the people. They are, each and everyone of them--not all of them, there's some good people, still, there're still really good people--but you see so much of this garbage going on. You know, where they're taking money for this, or taking money for that, and it's just so hard for me to believe that that's the prevailing right now. But it was in, it was in there when I went, first went into.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I mean, only on a smaller scale, but, uh, but there's a vast difference. There's not enough people coming up that want to do what's right for the country. They want to serve, I mean.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Is, they serve, what can I get out of it, how much can I make, or and they, and, you know, just like I say, they, they want a salary 01:15:00increase, hell, they vote for it, you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And they don't stand up and vote for it out in the open. They won't do that; they'll hide it some place in a bill. They did that in Frankfort when I was there. And I would, they take a roll call, you know, and I'd get up and say, they didn't want, didn't want a roll call; they wanted a voice vote. And I'd get up and ask for a roll call every time, make them show their colors. And, uh, a lot of them didn't like me. But, uh, but they, they showed who they were. There's one fellow now in the, in the House, you know, I think he's gone now from the Senate now. The only reason he came to Frankfort was to raise his salary and increase a pension. Albert Robinson down in, uh, London, Kentucky. The only thing he ever that he to, during, spent the whole session trying to get a bill through. And he was known for that, too.



WRIGHT: But they finally got rid of him, but of course he is probably drawing, what? Thirty-thousand a year pension right now. When I was in there, they, the, the pension bill was, uh, I don't remember. Uh, but anyhow, right after I left they put one in and it drawn up to(??) twenty-six thousand dollars a year.


WRIGHT: With the years services I had, and I wasn't there, I mean they didn't(??) pass that. The, the year I left, they passed it. It would never have passed if I had been there. But, uh, but it's there now. And those fellows are drawing that big money.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And half of them couldn't get a job making that much money.

ROMOND: Really?

WRIGHT: Oh yeah, you'd be surprised, I mean that. Now there's one thing 01:17:00too many of in, uh, in, in the General Assembly and, and that's lawyers. Too many lawyers up there. I mean, of course, that can cost(??) you--

ROMOND: --did it not used to be that way, Mr. Wright?

WRIGHT: It's always been done that way--

ROMOND: --oh, it always have--

WRIGHT: --yeah, always had, is in, of course, every bill that comes up you know, there is always a legal explanation for it, but there's not always a, a legal explanation for everything. You know what I mean? They, they, they always seem to, uh, word it, so that you have to have a lawyer to understand it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And that, that still bothers me. I think that's still the case, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: But I know there's some people there that, right now they couldn't get a job, uh, paying them twenty-six thousand dollars a year.

ROMOND: Are there people who stand out in your memory that you met, 01:18:00other legislators, uh, people that you met during your service there--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

WRIGHT: --as special people.

WRIGHT: Oh yeah. I'm trying to, sitting here trying to think, Doc-, uh- -[knocks on table]--up in eastern Kentucky. He was the majority floor leader, Doc--uh, isn't that awful. Oh, I just loved the man. He sat right up in front of me. Uh, and he and I have mutual respect, I mean--

ROMOND: --yeah--

WRIGHT: --uh, he's the one in particular that really--

ROMOND: --where was he from?

WRIGHT: Uh, I don't know. He's up east, eastern Kentucky.

[Pause in recording.]


ROMOND: So the person that you're thinking of is?

WRIGHT: Dr., uh, Denham.

ROMOND: Dr. Denham.

WRIGHT: I believe he was from Maysville.

ROMOND: From Maysville.

WRIGHT: Um-hm. Uh.

ROMOND: Well, tell me about him.

WRIGHT: Well, he was the, uh, majority floor leader of the House. And, uh, always was fair and let, he would give you time to make a speech.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, would listen to you. And, and I, I just, I just, the man was just a fair, honest, good person. And, and a lot of the Democrats I don't think agreed with him because he--

ROMOND: --really--

WRIGHT: --he gave the Republicans a little, you know, the time that they needed. And, uh, was, as good to us as he was anybody else. There was no dividing line with Dr. Denham, I mean, it was, you know, you're here and we're friends; that's it.

ROMOND: And from where you were sitting he was a fair person to 01:20:00everybody.

WRIGHT: Oh, yeah to everybody, everybody, yeah. Particularly to me because I just, I, I liked him. You know?

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: The person has some good qualities that I, I recognize. And, and he sat, uh, about three rows up from me on the aisle and I was back here on the, in the center. Uh, do you know how we were, and when I wanted to talk to him, I could walk up there and talk. Well. This is Senate. There is the House seating.

ROMOND: Here is the picture of the House seating.

WRIGHT: Yeah, um-hm.

ROMOND: And where were you? Oh, I see you, right here.


WRIGHT: Yeah, '68.

ROMOND: [Nineteen] sixty-eight.

WRIGHT: Yeah, that's it, '68.

ROMOND: District, District Thirty-Eight.

WRIGHT: And Doc was up, right here some place, right along in here.

ROMOND: Shouting distance.

WRIGHT: No, on the front. Is this the front? Yeah, that's it, yeah, yeah.

ROMOND: This is the front row, right here.

WRIGHT: Yeah, okay, yeah. I sat at that seat for sixteen years.

ROMOND: The whole time?

WRIGHT: Yeah. When I went back the second time, I, my seniority counted and I could take the same seat I had, um-hm.


WRIGHT: Uh, I guess, of all of them, the, Doc would be the, is my pick. I mean, of the, everybody in the House, even in the Republican side.

ROMOND: He meant the most to you.

WRIGHT: He meant the most to me, yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm. You admired him the most.

WRIGHT: I really admired him, yeah, I really did. And, uh, uh, I, uh, 01:22:00no, I can't think of anybody else that, uh.

ROMOND: Um-hm. What kind of a person was he? He's a fair person.

WRIGHT: Oh, a fair person, and honest, and he didn't, he is not, not one of those party poopers, you know. And no drinking or anything, he was just a--

ROMOND: --yes--

WRIGHT: --straight good man. And, uh, he was a medical doctor.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And , uh, but I can just recall, if I, you know, if I was standing up, he would tell the speaker to recognize me, you know, at any time. And--

ROMOND: --so in a way(??), it was his sense of respect for each person that stands out a whole lot--

WRIGHT: --oh, oh yeah--

ROMOND: --in your memory.

WRIGHT: Yes, it does, yeah, yeah, no question about it. He, everybody, I mean I don't know, I don't. Well, I remember one time, there's someone that crossed swords with him a little bit but, uh, they were wrong, I mean. And, uh, and, and he was a fighter. I mean, he was no pussyfoot, I mean, he'd, he'd fight, I mean literally fight you.


ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Because this fellow did him wrong and he, he offered to take him outside. And, and, uh, of course I would of gone with him. (laughs)

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You know, but, but he, he was just a good man.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And when this fellow did it, he knew he was wrong, you know. That didn't help any. But that's the only one that I can think of in all the time I was there that I had a, the highest regard for.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm.

WRIGHT: Even going back to the first session, uh, I kinda, you know, I kinda just fell into knowing what I wanted to do when I got there. I mean, it just--

ROMOND: --it sounds like it just suited you.

WRIGHT: I didn't, I didn't follow anybody in particular.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: I mean, I never, I never asked for a whole lot of advice in the, 01:24:00and when the bill would come up I'd studied it, I had read part of it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And, uh, so it's just, uh, it just seem like I was born to be there.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You know, I just sort of(??) felt like and, and I respected the office. You know, I didn't, uh, I didn't try to force my way in any place. Now, a lot of them, you know, they'll go to a ball game and then say, "I'm state representative," try to get in free and all that stuff. I, I never did that, never.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: There were, I got tickets, of course I had tickets to the ball games, but I mean that, they sent them to me, and then, uh, I used a lot of them. I was a big supporter of Kentucky back then.

ROMOND: Were you?

WRIGHT: Yeah, now I'm all Louisville. (Romond laughs) Uh, I don't know why, my daughter, my daughter she love, uh, Kentucky basketball, and I'd take her with me a lot of times. And, uh, uh, Kyle Macy, do you 01:25:00remember?

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Kyle, boy, she was in love with Kyle Macy. (Romond laughs) Then her little friend, a friend of mine the one that worked for me, she loved that other guy with Kyle, what the heck was his name? Uh, he wasn't as popular as Kyle Macy but. I can't remember his name now. Sh-. Shideler, Jay Shideler, Jay Shideler that.

ROMOND: Um-hm.


ROMOND: And you got Rick Pitino now.

WRIGHT: Yeah, we got Rick Pitino, yeah. He is a good coach. (Romond laughs) Um-hm. You know I don't see why they, they go so mad at him for coming back here.

ROMOND: Well, because he came here. (laughs)

WRIGHT: Yeah, well, but, but--

ROMOND: --he came to Louisville.

WRIGHT: Yeah, but where else would he, he couldn't have gone to Kentucky again.


WRIGHT: They wasn't going to fire Tubby Smith!


WRIGHT: Uh, so and he liked Louisville, he liked Kentucky.



WRIGHT: I think he'd like to be in public office.

ROMOND: I could see him.

ROMOND: Um-hm.


ROMOND: Um-hm. Well, is there anything else you'd like to talk about today, Mr. Wright?

WRIGHT: Not that I know of, I mean, I tried to--

ROMOND: --okay.

WRIGHT: Uh, we've got in quite a bit.

ROMOND: I've enjoyed listening to you memories about your time in the legislature.

WRIGHT: Uh, of course, we'd go back time during the campaigns and all of that, but that, that I was involved in and, uh, trying to remember things that happened during the sessions, I mean, it's just, when you get that old your mind gets a little foggy, you know. I'm still, still pretty alert for an old man and, uh. I can't believe I'm eighty-four years old, see. Don't want--

ROMOND: --I can't either.

WRIGHT: I don't want to believe it, and --

ROMOND: --you know what? Now that you've been talking about it, I bet you a lot of memories will flood back--


WRIGHT: --yeah--

ROMOND: --even more than--

WRIGHT: --yeah, yeah. I think I'm--

ROMOND: --we'll talk about that--

WRIGHT: --gonna to open up that, uh, tape recorder I've got to see, uh. But you know, I, I, I, every once in awhile I think of something, I'll tell my daughter, did I tell you about this? No. And it, of course, I am a blank right now, I mean, but I mean a lot of things happened in the campaign that you don't believe, you know. And, uh, and like up in the mountains, they always wanted whiskey during the campaign.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: Well, I wouldn't give them any whiskey. No, no, no I don't buy vote with whiskey, and, uh, when Marlow Cook was running. And, uh, they couldn't understand that, but you know they backdoored me. Someone else took it up there. And, of course, I couldn't do anything about it; I mean, you know, I was the campaign chairman but I, I can't fire a volunteer. And, uh, but, and then some of the men that, that 01:28:00helped in the campaign, uh, were so honest that when the campaign was over they gave me money back that they didn't spend. And, and Marlow didn't, Cook, he didn't believe it. And I said, "Marlow, I'm telling you!" And he said, "Well, if they brought it back, you can keep it." And I said, "Well, I hate to keep it, but" I said, "You know, they brought it back." And, of course, we had some leftover funds in the campaign, but three or four of them brought me money back. And that's hard to believe!

ROMOND: That's honest, isn't it.

WRIGHT: Oh man, I'm telling you, because they, they came in and say, "I think I'll need two-thousand dollars," or "fifteen hundred dollars."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: You gave to them and never questioned. I never questioned what for, I said, "Use it; that's what you need, that's what you need." And, uh, then they called back and say, "I've got some money left; I'll bring 01:29:00it up to you." I had about four of them do that. And that's unusual. And two of them were Democrats. (laughs) That were working for me.

ROMOND: Imagine. (laughs)

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah. Two of them were Democrats even working, working against their own party--(Romond laughs)--and brought me money back. They're all, there were a lot of good people involved in it though.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: We went to western Kentucky one time, uh, during the campaign and we was on the airplane and flew down into Logan County, in, uh, got off the airplane and I met this fellow, Larry Forgy's daddy.


WRIGHT: And he, he was there. And another fellow who was there. I 01:30:00went with Larry Forgy's daddy to talk to the Democrats, Marlow went with this other guy to talk to the Republicans. (Romond laughs) And, uh, I'll never forget that and I said, "That's, that's weird, you know, here we fly in here, go in different directions," and, uh. But, uh, then another time, talking about flying, I was supposed to be in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, that night. And , uh, I couldn't drive down there; I mean, it's too far. And so, so one of the fellows that worked at, at the mayor office said, "Well I can fly, I'll fly you down there." "Well," I said, "Okay." So he got in the airplane, and we got in the airplane, and we was flying. We got up there and he said, "Well, there it is right there." I said, "That is not Bowling Green, Kentucky." I said, "That is Edmonton, Kentucky." I knew from the sky; 01:31:00I'd been over before.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And we liked to never got down to, uh, we was headed down in, uh, Middlesboro is where I was going.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And from Middlesboro I was going to, the other way, and, uh, but anyhow, we were flying down Middlesboro, finally got down there and he is flying all over the place and, "Well, I don't know which way to land!" I said, "Oh, God, here's the smoke"--

ROMOND: --and he was the pilot.

WRIGHT: Yeah. (Romond laughs) And here's the smoke stack there and the, and the smoke was coming up going this way. And I knew enough that you had to fly, you know, I said, "Look at that damn smoke stack down there." So, we finally got down. (Romond laughs) Well, they, uh, they had sent for, after we got through there, they sent an ambulance over to pick me up, take me to Monroe County.


ROMOND: Um-hm.

WRIGHT: And you talk about a weird ride that 88, that highway that's special crooked highway down there.

ROMOND: ----------(??)----------

WRIGHT: Eighty and ninety miles an hour, oh yeah, it's a rough one, if you read about it, eighty or eighty-eight or something, anyhow. We got there, and, uh, we was ready to leave. And this guy say, "Well, I'll fly you back." And I said, "No, you won't." I said, "I'll walk back!" (both laugh) "You ain't flying me back!" But then he didn't; I mean, I got a ride, I hitched a ride the next day. I had someone bring me back. I wasn't about to ride with him anymore, um-hm.

ROMOND: I don't blame you. You sure had some adventures.

WRIGHT: Oh, oh man, that's, yeah! Oh I could go on and on political adventures but, uh.

[End of interview.]