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WILSON: Tape one, Peace Corps Oral History Project interview, March 15, 2006, with Jim Archambeault. Interviewer, Jack Wilson. (pause) Okay, Jim, if you would, please, give me your full name and where and when you were born.

ARCHAMBEAULT: My name is James Archambeault. I was born in Flint, Michigan, February 26, 1943.

WILSON: And did you grow up in Flint?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I was, when I was seven years old, my family, my father was transferred to Pennsylvania. He worked for General Motors. And he was transferred to Western Pennsylvania. So I feel like I was raised in Western Pennsylvania, though I still have a lot of relatives 00:01:00in Michigan.

WILSON: So you went to high school, junior high--

ARCHAMBEAULT: I went straight through school in Western Pennsylvania, parochial school. In fact, I went to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, which is also a Catholic run university, liberal arts university, in downtown Pittsburgh. I graduated from Duquesne with a B.A. in communications in 1965.

WILSON: Okay. Brothers? Sisters?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I have a sister who is six years my junior. She is a flight attendant for US Airways. Has been for thirty years. She's a great, great person. And I have a, well, I had a brother who is now 00:02:00deceased. He died when he was two years old. So I have one sister.

WILSON: Okay. Anything in your family background that you think of that might have contributed to your interest in the Peace Corps or overseas travel?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I think that, well, actually, I was fairly protected most of my adolescent life. I lived in a suburb. My mother and father made a middle income living basically. I played basketball and football, and loved the outdoors. Did a lot of fishing and hunting 00:03:00at the time. In fact, I would say the outdoors was the thing that I did more of than any other activity. But basically I was a white Protestant middle class kid. Nothing particularly outstanding about me or my growing up period. The only thing that I can think of that may have contributed to why I decided to go into the Peace Corps, or try to get into the Peace Corps, was at one time I thought about becoming a priest. Now this was, I was eleven, twelve years old. Going to Catholic schools, of course they tried to get the men to, young men to 00:04:00look at the priesthood. And I did. And I wanted to be, I was fairly interested for a year or two there. But I wanted to be a missionary priest. I didn't want to be a priest in a parish. I wanted to go to Alabama or way out there in Alabama, down there in Alabama and become a missionary priest. And I remember, my mother one day, of course I had written to several of these monasteries in the South, and they had sent me information in the mail. Well, my mother, getting the mail, she received these. And she started to cry. Like, "You're not going to become a priest, are you? And a missionary? And go all the way down South?" Of course in those days, you have to understand, that was in the '50s. And Alabama, I mean, when you lived in Pennsylvania, Alabama 00:05:00was a long way away. That's just how people kind of felt then. So anyway, my mother didn't want me to become a missionary priest. And then I eventually decided I didn't want to become a priest, either, of any kind. So I had that kind of in my mind. And then years went by and I went to college and near the end of my senior year, I guess in my senior year, I just decided I wanted to apply to the Peace Corps.

WILSON: This was 1965.

ARCHAMBEAULT: '65. It would have been, I graduated in '65, it would have been late '64 when I began to apply and fill out all the applications and so forth. And I forget the whole process that was 00:06:00involved back then.

WILSON: Before we get deeply-- (pause) All right, Jim, you were starting to talk about how you got interested in the Peace Corps, and a little bit about the process.

ARCHAMBEAULT: It was in my senior year of college I decided to apply to the Peace Corps. I'm sure that part of my desire to at least apply to the Peace Corps was my earlier desire to work as a missionary. That was one thing. And then I was a great admirer of John Kennedy, who started the Peace Corps. And of course he was assassinated the year before I applied to the Peace Corps. I think that all tied in with 00:07:00my wanting to go. And it was also, it would have been an experience, an adventure. And I could have, idealistically, perhaps, made a contribution to wherever I went. All of those things, I think. And most volunteers have those same thoughts. So I applied. And--

WILSON: Do you remember anything about that process?

ARCHAMBEAULT: All I remember, and I could be making this up, is I contacted the Peace Corps somehow. And, or perhaps they came to campus and I filled out, anyway, they sent me forms, and I filled those out and sent them in. That's all I remember about that. And my parents 00:08:00didn't even know I had applied. And I'd finally told them that I had applied. And they were, I would say that they were shocked. Appalled would not be, that would probably be too strong of a term. But they did not want me to go to the Peace Corps. They wanted me to get a job, and to proceed on with my life as they envisioned it and as all my other friends were going to do. But their feelings really didn't dissuade me. I told them I was going to go if I got in, that that's what I wanted to do. Finally they accepted it, of course. And then I remember the day that I got the letter from the Peace Corps. My mother 00:09:00was downstairs. I was still in bed. It must have been a Saturday. Anyway, the Peace Corps letter came. And she ran upstairs into my bedroom, you know, she was waving it, she was so excited about it. I said, "Well, read it." And she opened it and read it and I was accepted. And she was just as happy as I was. It was a defining moment in my life. And from then on, everything changed in many, many ways.

WILSON: So they got an understanding, you think, of why you were doing this.

ARCHAMBEAULT: My parents, yes. They did. They did. And I was going to. So I mean, they had to accept it. And we didn't argue about it or anything like that. It's just, I was going to do this if I was able to, if I was accepted.


WILSON: Did you ask for a particular country?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No, I did not. I just said, wherever you want to send me.

WILSON: Okay. So you got the letter, and then what?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I got the letter. It was actually signed, I still have it, by Sargentt Shriver. And I, it said, the letter said that I was accepted into training at University of Hawaii, which was a bonus I didn't even anticipate, you know. Can you imagine that? My mother's going, "You're going to Hawaii!" Wait a minute now, this is only a stopover. But anyway, training was in Hawaii, three months. And I accepted, somehow, I forget how that went. I think they gave us about, I think the letter came in August and we were going to go into training 00:11:00in October.

WILSON: So tell me something, well, first of all, what country were you accepted to?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Oh, the Philippines.

WILSON: For the Philippines.

ARCHAMBEAULT: The Philippines. And of course, Hawaii has a lot of Philippine nationals who had moved to Hawaii. And it was a natural place to train, because a lot of people there spoke the Philippine language, Tagalog and various dialects. And so they were able to recruit from the local population people who spoke the native language. And they were the trainers.

WILSON: Tell me something about the three-month training program.

ARCHAMBEAULT: It was in, physically, in fact, all the Hawaii trainings were at an old Hawaiian school location. The Hawaiian school system 00:12:00had recently, I guess in the late '50s and early '60s, had consolidated. And prior to that, there were small Hawaiian schools scattered all over the islands of Hawaii. And they were basically wooden structures in kind of a dormitory like, they were built in dormitory like construction with big, wide porches. Of course, no heating or air. And the windows were just open all the time, and air moved through. And that's where we trained. We trained at one of those schools.

WILSON: And this was on which island?

ARCHAMBEAULT: It was on the big island of Hawaii, in a town called Pepeekeo. Pepeekeo was literally in the middle of a sugar cane 00:13:00plantation. So you were surrounded by sugar cane you know, eight, ten, twelve feet high. The school was. And then there was a view of the ocean. No matter where you are in Hawaii, there's almost always a view of the ocean. And there was a little village there called Pepeekeo, probably a hundred people at the most. All native. Not all native Hawaiians, but Hawaiians, Portuguese or Japanese or Hawaiian or Filipino, basically. And we lived and studied at that school for three months. And we were taught, you know, cultural courses in the Philippine culture and society. And geography. And we were taught 00:14:00language. Basically it was, you know, just a standard Peace Corps, what I call standard Peace Corps training at the time.

WILSON: And the language that you learned was--

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, the language I learned was a language called Bicol, B-i-c-o-l. The Philippines, as many countries, there are many different languages, dialects. And the Philippines had, I think, seventy-five different dialects. Pardon me. And of course, partly because it was such a scattered country. Twelve hundred miles long, and seven thousand islands, and a lot of isolation, which resulted in different dialects. And so most of us, in fact, all of us learned 00:15:00Tagalog, which is the official national language. And it is spoken in Manila, the capital, and around Manila. But once you get away from Manila, and I'm sure it's probably still the same case today, the dialects begin to change. And sometimes, where I was assigned, there were two towns that were no more than three or four miles from each other that spoke different dialects. And it was hard even for the local population to understand each other, one dialect to the next.

WILSON: So you must have known where you were going to be assigned when you did the language training?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No. No. Everybody learned Tagalog.

WILSON: Oh, I see. Okay.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Because at least you got some sense of the languages and 00:16:00nuances, the sound, structure. But only, I think there were eighty- five of us in training. And I think probably ten or fifteen percent of that number were sent to Tagalog speaking areas. And the rest of us were sent to non-Tagalog speaking areas where we had to basically learn based on our, on Tagalog, we had to learn a new dialect. And different words, different sentence structure. And so we just did the best we could. Fortunately, in the Philippines, because of the American occupation of the country from the Spanish-American War through World War Two, English was spoken all over the country. And it was the 00:17:00language of the school system. And the books, the textbooks, were written in English. So it was not difficult to get by in English if one wanted to.

WILSON: What was the program thrust? What were you going to do? And was that a part of the training at home or not?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, the training program was divided into, well, actually, I'm trying to think here. Some of the volunteers, some of the trainees were going to be teachers. They had degrees in teaching, or they had been teachers in the United States. Others of us, myself 00:18:00included, were put into the category of community development workers. And that was a very broad category that involved, or could involve, anything from building one-room schools to improving water systems to becoming involved in rice research. Rice at that time was a big issue, and of course still is, because that's the main food of the Asian population. But they were trying to increase productivity from rice per acre. And actually did succeed in doing that. Not because of the Peace Corps, but there were volunteers who did work in rice research. 00:19:00Anyway, in that broad category of community development, that's where I was put. And I ended up being a, working for a regional development planning commission, which involved trying to coordinate regional development, economic development, in an area of the Philippines called the Bicol area. And it was a peninsula. And within that peninsula, there were probably eight or ten provinces that were tied together by language and by geographic location. And a province, basically, was a state in the Philippines. It was treated as a state. As we would 00:20:00treat a state here. However, the size of a province was more the size of a large county here in the United States. So to try to get some idea, a group of counties, say, in Nebraska or Ohio or Texas. So it wasn't a huge area that we were dealing with.

WILSON: So had you had any kind of planning training in your background? Or was that an element anywhere in the Peace Corps training?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No. No. It was not, not at all. We were just thrown into this situation. There were four of us who were, of the eighty- five trainees, there were four of us that were selected to be involved with this planning commission. And we had an office in one of the 00:21:00provincial capitals. And that's where we operated out of. So there were four volunteers that essentially, or for the most part, we had desk jobs. I mean, that was, we each had an office in this building. And we had several Filipino, Filipina helpers, secretaries, what not. So I guess we had ten or twelve people in this office. The four volunteers plus Filipino associates who were involved with, experts on social work and agriculture and so forth. And then we would travel within the provinces at various times. We were, we became very good 00:22:00friends with each of the provincial governors in each of the provinces. And of course, that was all politics. They were like governors here in the United States. They were powerful people. And so we worked with them and attended many meetings with them at their own capitals. Or we'd go to Manila and have a big blowout. I mean, it was a lot of partying that went on during my time there involving the governors. And we worked with a lot of national organizations, community development organizations that provided the manpower, really, to get 00:23:00some of these programs off the ground, started, and so forth.

WILSON: That's interesting to me in the sense that Peace Corps, if I understand it correctly, particularly in those times and since, prided itself on being sort of apolitical. So how did you avoid getting caught up in the local politics? Or didn't you?

ARCHAMBEAULT: We kind of ignored it. I mean, I don't think anybody really got involved with the politics. We just kind of, we were aware of it, but we didn't let it, we did not become involved with it in any way other than to be aware of it and to be aware of the consequences 00:24:00of some of our actions or our programs that may have affected a certain governor or a certain province or a certain situation. We had to be aware of the political situation. But we didn't--

WILSON: Was there anything in the Peace Corps training that tried to sensitize you to any of that?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, that was all part of the cultural and social training that we went through, trying to make us aware of the cultural patterns of the people. What would offend them, for example, that we did. And 00:25:00what they accepted. And of course, as in any culture, there's a lot of things that are different from your own. So we had to be aware of those. And we certainly didn't want to step on anybody's toes. And so the training that we got sensitized us to be sensitive to the local culture. And of course that just fed into the whole political situation. And I think that, I felt that we were adequately prepared to face this situation. No matter what you did in the country. And of course you had to experience a lot of it, too, and make your mistakes. But generally, I thought the Peace Corps did a good job.


WILSON: One last question about training, and then I want to go back to the job, do you remember anything particular about the selection process in those days? You said there were eighty-five of you that started. Tell me something about that.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah. The selection process. I'm not sure what it is today at all, no idea. But the selection process involved two parts. One was the staff. They were involved in--

WILSON: This is the training staff.

ARCHAMBEAULT: The training staff. They were involved in the selection process. That would be all of the teachers, whether they be Filipino, or whether they were Americans, Caucasians, what have you, right up to 00:27:00the director of that particular training site. So that would include all the staff. And they were, they had their voice was, and each of us, each of the volunteers was evaluated by the staff. Then there was a peer evaluation. Now that was a whole other, I don't know if they have that today. During the course of the three months, I think there were three or four times when we would have peer evaluations. Which was a written form that each volunteer filled out on all of the other volunteers in the group.

WILSON: And what kinds of criteria?


ARCHAMBEAULT: (laughs) Basically it was our opinion of a particular volunteer's psychological makeup, whether we thought that they were suitable to live and work in the Philippine culture. You know, those kinds of questions. And then all of these questionnaires were tallied for each individual volunteer. And then each volunteer would then meet with a staff member, usually a psychologist or someone in that field, and the psychologist would present to the volunteer what their peers said about them. And then discuss with the volunteer their reaction. 00:29:00So that was a difficult--

WILSON: And did everybody freely participate in that evaluation process?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah, we did. Everybody did. Everybody participated. Yep. And I think that, I mean, some of the questions, I mean, everybody knew, I don't know how this, but everybody seemed to know who was right on the edge of not being allowed to go. And who was definitely going to go. This was among the trainees. I mean, three months in a close environment like we were in, living and going to classes virtually within the same building. There's nowhere to go 00:30:00other than they would sometimes come and get a bus and take us into Hilo, which was the big town down the road. But basically, we were just confined to this one small tiny, very tiny wooden school. But it was a difficult thing. Because we were basically given the power to decide whether or not a person should go overseas or not in our estimation. And if the majority of the trainees, the peers of a particular person, thought that they shouldn't go overseas for whatever the reasons, then they didn't get to go, literally. They were not allowed to go. They were sent back home. Now some of them, some of the volunteers, this is all coming back to me now, but some of the 00:31:00trainees saw the writing on the wall and went home on their own before training actually was over with. Either because they felt like they were not going to be selected, that's the word that was used, selected, or being de-selected, okay? They thought they were going to be de-selected, or they just didn't want to go. They just changed their minds. Which a lot of trainees get over there and they train and they go no, not for me. But in the very end, those that stayed around to the very end of the process, some of them were de-selected right at the very end of training.

WILSON: So of the eighty-five of you who started, how many went?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I do not remember that exact number. It was somewhere around sixty to sixty-five.

WILSON: So pretty good percentage of people leaving.

ARCHAMBEAULT: As I remember. As I remember. Which I could be wrong. 00:32:00There could have been more than eighty-five, there could have been a hundred, and fifteen were de-selected. But I think it was more like eighty-five started and maybe sixty or sixty-five went overseas.

WILSON: Okay. I took you back from where you were talking about the job.


WILSON: And community development planning for this large region. What kinds of development programs were you working on, or trying to get started?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, one, of course, the Philippines is an agriculture based economy. And we were attempting to work in areas, for example, 00:33:00in rice production, trying to increase rice production within the region. Banana production, tremendous banana region. The export of said bananas, the storage and export of rice, if that was appropriate. Transportation of produce from one area to another. We even got into things like air transportation and the improvement of airports in each 00:34:00of the provinces. The improvement of railways, the improvement of highways. Just anything that had to do with the economic development of the region, we were involved with.

WILSON: And where were the funds coming from in all of this?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, they were coming from, the local provincial governments were contributing the funds that kept the regional development office running. And it wasn't a great amount of money that they were contributing. Of course the volunteers themselves were paid almost nothing by the US government, which didn't matter to any of the volunteers. We were fine. But the staff, like our secretaries 00:35:00and our resource people were paid out of funds that were contributed to a general fund by each of the eight or ten provincial governments. That was how that was funded. Now the programs that we were working on, pardon me, they had to be funded by bigger agencies, national government agencies or perhaps even United Nations, or perhaps US. USAID was heavily involved in the Philippines at the time, probably still are. Wherever we could get the money to initiate a program that we had come up with. And it wasn't just the volunteers who came up 00:36:00with these programs. In fact, it was a group effort. We didn't go in there and say, "This is what we think you should do." We went in there to assist them, the Filipinos, in reaching objectives that they already wanted. It wasn't like, "Well, you should do this." I mean, they already knew what they should do. So we were just helping them try to make, try to realize some of their--

WILSON: So you were working primarily with Filipinos.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Absolutely, yeah, on a day to day basis. We weren't working amongst ourselves. I mean, we were part of a team. But it was, we were working with Filipinos.

WILSON: And so the project ideas, were you saying the project ideas 00:37:00emanated from--

ARCHAMBEAULT: The Filipinos. With our ideas and input included and considered in their ideas, in their objectives. A lot of the ideas came from the provincial governors themselves, of course. They had their own priorities. And so, you know, we would work with them. I mean, they had the power so if there was something they wanted to get done and we felt like it was something worthwhile, and usually it was. I mean, they weren't going out and being very selfish about what it was they wanted. I mean, most of them had the local people and the local government in their best interest. I mean, it was all, there 00:38:00were very, very few really what I would call selfish people who just wanted to do something for themselves.

WILSON: Tell me something about your living conditions.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well initially, when I first got there, I lived with another volunteer who, his name was Jack, and he lived, he was also on this planning commission with me. And he and I took a house, we lived with a fairly well off family in the provincial capital where we were, where our office was. And we had, we shared a large room underneath the main house. We lived there together for about, I want 00:39:00to say, four or five months. And then we mutually parted because we basically had differences of living conditions and differences in how we wanted to live. So we just, I think he stayed there, as a matter of fact. And I moved to a fishing village, which was about three or four miles out of the provincial capital on the coast of the, on the ocean. A village of about maybe two or three hundred people, maybe not that many. Maybe not that many. But if you count all the kids, maybe it was. And I lived in a wooden house, no electricity, no running water. 00:40:00I lived there the entire, the rest of my time. I would either take a bus, a jeep, actually, they called them jeepney in the morning from the barrio, fishing village, into the provincial capital.

WILSON: But you'd had those amenities of electricity and running water in the first. .

ARCHAMBEAULT: In the provincial capital, yes, we did. Yes, we did.

WILSON: So what do you think led you to decide to--

ARCHAMBEAULT: I wanted, you mean to go out to the--


ARCHAMBEAULT: Oh, I wanted a different experience. Living in the provincial capital was all right. But I wanted to experience living in the country. And so I got the best of both. I got to live in the barrio at night, and I got to be in the city in the day. If you want 00:41:00to call it a city. Big town, I guess. So I got the best of both.

WILSON: Tell me something about what you ate, how you lived in the barrio.

ARCHAMBEAULT: I ate generally very simply when I was there. I ate, well, not just in the barrio, but then in the provincial capital, and I didn't always eat in the barrio. In fact, by the time I got home, back to my place at night, I had already eaten in the provincial capital. I did not have any cooking facility in the house where I lived. It was on stilts. It was a neat place, actually. But I didn't actually eat there. Now sometimes I would eat with families in the barrio. And 00:42:00they would eat, basically, fish and rice. Occasionally they'd have some sweet potato or something, some vegetable. But fish and rice was what they ate. And that's what I ate. And I loved it! I've always liked fish. And so, and the fish was fresh, right out of the ocean. It was fabulous. Fabulous. I mean, if you were to go out to a great restaurant here in Lexington or Louisville or Cincinnati and order this, you would go, "This is fantastic!" You can't find that around here. You can't find it anywhere. But I ate very simply. I ate the local food. I ate, of course, the Chinese were a big influence, Chinese food over there, Malayan, Malaysian food. Sometimes if you really got desperate, there was a hamburger joint down the street. I'd 00:43:00have a hamburger now and then. But the food was so good over there that I didn't have any desire to eat American food. Very rarely.

WILSON: And water, was the safety of water an issue?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah, water is a huge issue. Most of the volunteers got sick with dysentery. Not dysentery, but they had problems with intestinal difficulties. I was very lucky. I mean, they told us to boil water before we went. But I never once boiled the water. Now, knock on wood, I did not drink a lot of the water. I drank like soft drinks. But you couldn't avoid it. If you had a drink there was ice cubes in it. I mean, it was like, so I just decided I was going to not worry about the water situation and see how it was. And I really never 00:44:00had any trouble with the water. Not that I would go out of my way to drink it, but I drank it inadvertently many, many times. So.

WILSON: Were there other health issues? Was malaria an issue?

ARCHAMBEAULT: We took a pill once a week, and I think it was called Aralen, I'm not sure the exact name of it. And we were provided that by the Peace Corps. We took it once a week or once a month. And that, even if we were bitten by a malarial mosquito, we would not have the symptoms of malaria. And I never got malaria. But apparently, as long as you were taking the Aralen, this is what we were told, but when you went back home, if you had been bitten by a malarial mosquito, you might pick up the symptoms of malaria once you stopped taking the 00:45:00Aralen. I don't know. I never had any trouble. Actually, my health, I don't remember any particular aspects of my health that particularly affected me in any negative way. It was a pretty smooth trip as far as that was concerned.

WILSON: Okay. Good. We need to flip over--

[Tape one, side a ends; tape one, side b begins.[

WILSON: Okay, Jim, you were just finishing up, I think, relative to health issues.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah, health issues, yeah, yeah. I really didn't have any serious health problems myself while I was there.

WILSON: When you first went, how did you become acclimated? Or maybe the question is, what was the most difficult adjustment for you, do 00:46:00you think?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I think the most difficult adjustment was being away from home for the first time in my life. I had never, even though I was twenty-one, twenty-two years old, I had been, I had never been away from home. So I got homesick. (laughs) Especially in the training part of it. When I was in training, I was still in Hawaii. I got homesick. Good old bona fide homesick. And especially right around Christmas time that I was in training. And my family was always big on Christmas. I missed it. But once I got through that period--

WILSON: So did the training program go over the Christmas holidays?


ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah, it went right through. Yeah, yeah.

WILSON: And did you get to go home between training and going in country?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No. No. That was not part of the deal. You went from Hawaii right over to, in fact, when I left home in October of '65, I did not return back to the United States for three years. I was gone for three years.

WILSON: So you must have gotten over the homesick--

ARCHAMBEAULT: I got over it. (laughs) Yeah, I got over it. That was the biggest thing that I had to overcome.

WILSON: How do you think you did it?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I don't know. I don't know. Time, I think it was just time. You know, that's all I can think of. I wanted to go and I was 00:48:00going to go, overseas, I mean. Had to get over it. Get a grip.

WILSON: What do you think you were best prepared for when you went in?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I think I was probably best prepared as a representative of the United States people. I was a good guy. I was, people, Filipinos liked me. I liked them. I respected them right from the start. I never looked down on them or thought that I was superior in any way, shape or form. I would socialize with Filipinos almost exclusively of 00:49:00fellow volunteers. I never, I rarely socialized with the volunteers. Now we would have meetings, volunteer meetings at the regional office, which we would all attend. But basically I just immersed myself in the culture, Filipino culture, and had a lot of friends.

WILSON: When you say--

ARCHAMBEAULT: But I think, you know, getting back to your question, you know, it was just, I mean, my personality was already formed before I went over there. It wasn't that training, training can only do so much to change a person or acclimate a person. A person basically is what the person is when he goes to training, when she goes to training. 00:50:00So one can become more aware, I think, of cultural aspects that one can then modify one's behavior, I guess. I'm not sure if I answered your question about that. In terms of technical things, I don't think I took a darn thing over there. I mean, I always tell people that I certainly gained far more than I ever left there. I mean, it was definitely, for me it was a tremendous experience, and I got a lot more out of it than I put into it.

WILSON: Yeah. And what were those things that you got out of it?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, I think just in a general sense is how I looked at the world, and how I looked at other cultures after this experience. 00:51:00America was not always right. And America was not necessarily the best. They didn't have all the answers to all the world's questions. You know, I mean, I think of course all the individual experiences that I had over there just added up to strengthening my own personality. And I think everything that we do in life is accumulated within us and becomes a part of us. And comes out as we progress in life and do various things, I think those experiences manifest 00:52:00themselves in sometimes small, sometimes big ways.

WILSON: If you would, can you describe what a typical day might have been like in your life? Sort of from the beginning, through the day?

ARCHAMBEAULT: In the Philippines?


ARCHAMBEAULT: A typical day would have been get up in the morning at, the house I lived in was actually attached to another house by, you had to walk down, it was, all these houses were on stilts, of course, because of the ocean environment. So all the houses were about ten feet off the ground. And my house was on stilts attached to another house which the family lived in. But you couldn't walk from my part 00:53:00of the house to their part of the house without walking down, out and around. And I had essentially a bedroom, and then I had, outside of that was a thatched roof place where they had like a fifty gallon tin drum, a metal drum, and I would take my baths there. And they would keep the drum filled with water.

WILSON: So somebody carried the water.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Someone carried the water up to the drum. And then there were holes in the floor, so all the water would mainly just go right through onto the stand, basically. So I'd take my shower or take my bath and shave and all that. It was very simple. Water was cold. And then I would either take my bike, a bicycle, I rode a bicycle 00:54:00some of the time, or I'd take the jeepney, which routinely came into the village, into the barrio, four or five miles into the provincial capital, to my office. And sometimes I might stop and get a breakfast downtown. Or I would just go right straight to the office. And depending on what there was to do, I had a desk and a secretary and I would spend most of my day, on a typical day, at the office, or going to a meeting with the provincial capital governor there, which was right next door to our office, the provincial capital building was, where all the government offices were. And might have lunch with some coworkers, or after work, go into the city and have dinner, have 00:55:00a few beers, go to people's houses, talk, just generally socialize. Sometimes play some cards, play some mahjong. Sounds real exciting but, I mean, it was pretty routine. Now sometimes I would travel and be gone for four or five or six days. You know, we'd travel on business or go to Manila, the big city. But that was a typical day. It was nothing, you know, nothing out of the ordinary. At night I'd take my bike or a jeep and go back to the barrio. And usually it was dark by the time I went back.

WILSON: What did you do for recreation? I guess you've mentioned playing 00:56:00some cards and drinking a little beer.


WILSON: But on weekends, or other times.

ARCHAMBEAULT: (laughs) You know, I can't remember. Probably just more of the same. We would take, I would, you know, some other people, would take bus trips to other provincial capitals sometimes, just to see, if we didn't already know about it. Or there was a big volcano nearby that we would climb.

WILSON: Did that with other Peace Corps volunteers?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Other Peace Corps volunteers. And Filipinos together. Mostly, I don't know. I mean, nothing just stands out. I mean--


WILSON: Okay. But you did do some travel within the country.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Oh, in the country, I did a lot of travel. I mean, that was part of--

WILSON: Both business and recreation?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Oh, yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. A lot of, I traveled the length and breadth of the country at various times.

WILSON: And since there are a number of islands that-- some of that was boat?

ARCHAMBEAULT: It was almost all flying.


ARCHAMBEAULT: It was, the Philippines, they had, even at that time, a pretty extensive airline system. And it was the only way to get around, really. I mean, you could take a boat. But if you wanted to get someplace quickly, you took a plane. And the planes, then, were almost all DC3s. They were World War Two leftovers. And so we'd fly 00:58:00on these DC3s, which held about anywhere from thirty-five to forty people. And it was harrowing. (laughs) A lot of the pilots, they drove like taxi drivers do here. I mean, they would just go up, and there were no radios on the ground. Most of these places had no radio systems. So they would just kind of fly by the seat of their pants. And if it was overcast, they'd just dive down through the clouds so they could see the airport strip, which was usually gravel. And make their turn and land. I mean, it was, and the Philippines was a very mountainous country. So you never knew, when they were flying through those clouds, if you were going to just run into a mountain. And a lot of times, planes did. They just ran into mountains. But 00:59:00there were some instances when I did take a boat, especially in the Southern Philippines, where the Muslim uprising had been going on for a number of years. But when I was there, there was no uprising. We would have to take a boat from island to island. That was quite an experience. Like a ferry, not a ferry boat, a passenger boat. Usually overcrowded, taking chickens and all. If somebody coughed too much one way or the other, the boat might just tip over. That was the kind of feeling you got. And buses, we'd take buses, buses where the roads were terrible. It would take nine hours to go fifty miles, stuff like that. Well, you probably experienced a lot of that yourself. Most of 01:00:00the time, to get someplace, airplane, that's what we took.

WILSON: Yeah. Did you ever leave the Philippines during that time?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No. Not during the time I was there. We had the opportunity to do that. Some volunteers went to Hong Kong, which was nearby, or they went to Japan. But most of the time they went to Hong Kong. If they were going to go on a vacation outside of the country, that's where they would go.

WILSON: Did you have specific vacation periods?

ARCHAMBEAULT: As I recall, we were allotted certain vacation time. And we could take it more or less whenever we wanted to. But we were limited to so many weeks in a year. I forgot how much it was. It was maybe four weeks in a year, or something like that.

WILSON: Did you have any different kind of project or anything you 01:01:00worked on during any of those times?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No. No. When I was traveling for pleasure, that's all I was doing, was traveling for pleasure.

WILSON: You've talked a little bit about interactions with Filipinos. But maybe you can tell us something more about that. Did you have a particular Filipino counterpart? Or--

ARCHAMBEAULT: That's how usually I would meet Filipinos is through work. And then I would become introduced to maybe their extended family. So I might become friends with my secretary, for example, which I did. And then through her, I met her family. And then her extended family. And so I spent a lot of time with her family. And then 01:02:00there were other people who I worked with that I would, I befriended, they befriended me, and I would spend time with them and their families. Mostly it was a family-oriented sort of social situation. Particularly if, I mean, if there was a woman involved. In other words, if there was an attraction, let's say if I were attracted to a Filipina, the only way that I could have any contact with her of any kind, I'm not talking about physical, I'm talking about just, would be in a group. Go to a movie with four or five or six people. You were with her, everybody knew that, but you were in a group. Or at a party, 01:03:00or at dinner at someone's house or whatever. It was assumed in the Philippines that if a man and a woman were in a room together for any length of time by themselves, everybody would assume that it went on. So you weren't allowed to do that. (laughs) Yeah. Yeah.

WILSON: Okay. What about your interactions with other Americans? Peace Corps volunteers or other expatriates?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah, we actually, we worked with USAID. And then we worked with, through this regional planning commission, we worked with several consultants who, I can't remember exactly who they were attached to, who would come through now and then. And we would consult 01:04:00with them and they had ties to advice, a lot of advice, of course, and perhaps ties through money of some kind. And usually these were older men, usually, who would sometimes just travel around. Not just in the Philippines, but Indonesia and, I don't know. Sometimes they would, actually the money would actually come through somehow. But of course, a lot of these, well, the ones, several of the ones that used to come through where I was, just great to be around. They had stories that, they had spent all of their lives, you know, basically in Southeast Asia. They just had wonderful stories to tell about their experiences. 01:05:00I spent two hurricanes or typhoons there in hotels with some of these expatriates. Of course, the hotel was the biggest, it was like a block house. (laughs) Built of brick, you know, right on the coast. You could survive a typhoon in those things. Anyway, I had a lot of experience with some of these expatriates.

WILSON: You mentioned some of their stories.


WILSON: Do you have a couple of memorable stories or events you'd like to share?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, I had several, well, a couple of instances on these passenger boats in the middle of the ocean when I thought I was 01:06:00really not going to come back, when the boat was going to tip over. And several of the airplane flights that I took, I probably flew a hundred times when I was over there. That's a lot. And many of them were heart thumping kinds of things. I had one experience where, of course, generally speaking, the Filipinos and the Americans got along very, very well. And the Filipinos like Americans. So there was an instant camaraderie, if you will. But there were some Filipinos who did not like Americans. And one time I was in a, like a little street, 01:07:00I can't think of the name of what you called it. It was like a little place where you could just go in. There was just like a bar kind of thing where you sat and you could order a little food and you could get a beer if you wanted to. It was right there on the street. Thatched roof kind of thing. And I was in there one night by myself. And this Filipino came in, sat down beside me. I didn't know him. But he began to basically, he wanted to get into an argument with me. He wanted to, he wanted me to argue with him about I forget what it was now. And he had a few beers. And I had a beer. And he was attempting, basically, to intimidate me to the point where I would react. And it got very, 01:08:00very heavy. And I decided that the only thing that I, the best thing I could do was to leave. But I didn't think he would let me. I didn't think he would basically allow me, we were just sitting beside each other, literally closer than you and I are. Side by side. So I had to look this way to see him. Finally he turned in his seat, this is probably after about an hour. He turned in his seat and had his back to me. And I just turned in mine, I left and walked out. Well, walking out was ----------(??) in that rocking chair, and then I was in the street. It was open. I didn't have to go through a doorway or anything, it was just walking out. I'm halfway across the room and I see, it was at night and there were some lights in there, I could see 01:09:00that he was coming after me. And I kind of turned, and he had a beer bottle in his hand. Held by the neck. And he was going to hit me over the head with it. I mean, that's what he was going to do. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this other person comes up from, I didn't even see him, and just grabs the guy's arm and the beer bottle in it. And I just kept walking. And it was his bodyguard, he had a bodyguard. And it was his bodyguard who had been kind of watching the whole thing from a shadow somewhere that stopped him from hitting me over the head. Of course, I think I would have at least defended myself. But he didn't, he just grabbed his arm. I kept walking. There were a couple of times when guns were not pointed, well, no, there was one time that a gun was 01:10:00pointed at me. But I was so young and naive that I didn't even think, I never thought that it would actually be fired. (laughs)

WILSON: What kind of a situation led to that?

ARCHAMBEAULT: It was in a bar, also. A restaurant. I want to say a restaurant where this, a former pilot for, who had flown for the US Air Force in Vietnam, he was a Filipino. Apparently he had some bad experiences in Vietnam with the Americans. You know, he was like flying DC3s and, you know, doing some weird stuff over there. And he had come back and didn't like Americans. So he carried a .45 around with him all the time. The one time he just, there was a group of us at a table about like this. He just took out his .45 and just laid it right on the table. And I really forget the whole circumstances of it, 01:11:00but he just laid it right there on the table and could have used it, I guess. But he didn't. Anyway. (laughs)

WILSON: Are there any other particular stories?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, some I probably shouldn't tell. No, no. Actually, that one was particularly the one with the beer bottle, that was particularly memorable.

WILSON: Any more pleasant ones? (laughs)

ARCHAMBEAULT: Pleasant ones. Oh, there were some pleasant ones, yeah.

WILSON: So you mentioned earlier that it was three years before you came back.


WILSON: Did you extend in the Philippines?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No, I actually, after I spent, our term was a little over 01:12:00two years. So then there was three months of training. And then after the Peace Corps, I traveled for about three months.

WILSON: Okay. Well, tell me something about that.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Two other volunteers and myself traveled in Southeast Asia. We went to Indonesia, traveled around in Indonesia. Went to Bali. At that time, it was pristine. It was just fabulous. A nightclub was unheard of. I mean, there was no night, there were no nightclubs. It was just beautiful farmland, beautiful area. We went to Singapore. We went to Australia, New Zealand. We spent a couple of 01:13:00weeks in New Zealand. Beautiful.

WILSON: In the North Island, or South?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, mostly in the South. We hiked, fished. Just a fabulous place. I'd recommend to anybody New Zealand. Then we went to Tahiti. I think that was it. Then back to Hawaii. And then from Hawaii, now in Hawaii, I took a job with the University of Hawaii as a Peace Corps trainer. So I flew home for the first time to Pennsylvania and spent about a week or two in Pennsylvania with my family. And then I immediately flew back to Hawaii.


WILSON: Okay. So that, you terminated your Peace Corps service in the Philippines, when?

ARCHAMBEAULT: In, it would have been '68. I want to say maybe January or February of '67. Yeah, it would have been in early '68. Then I traveled for about three months or so. And then back to Hawaii, and that's when I took the job with University of Hawaii as a Peace Corps trainer. And that's when I first returned home.

WILSON: And what did you do as a trainer?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I was a site administrator. I was basically in charge 01:15:00of a particular training site. And I was in charge of three training sites over the course of my time as a trainer. Three different ones. And so I was basically the administrator. There was a director of several training sites over me. But I was in charge of a particular site, which meant making sure everything operated.

WILSON: Was this the Pepeekeo?

ARCHAMBEAULT: One was in Pepeekeo, and then one was on Molokai, you know, Molokai. Another one was back on the big island in the north part of the big island. I can't think of the name of the town. But again, an old Hawaiian school.

WILSON: Were those training--


ARCHAMBEAULT: I think it was called Hakalau, a place called Hakalau. Well, you know where that is.

WILSON: Were those training programs just for the Philippines?

ARCHAMBEAULT: They were just for the Philippines. Yeah, they were just for the Philippines. And the same kind of situation. We'd have the staff of teachers who were both Filipino and Americans. And social, we taught geography, social, cultural, language. And we had those selection, we had that peer selection process in those days. That still was used. And of course, staff selection, too. And they were three months in duration. And I think I was administrator of three different training camps.


WILSON: So at the end of that year, you came home?

ARCHAMBEAULT: At the end of that period, oh, I know what it was. I was going to become a regional administrator back in the Philippines.

WILSON: For Peace Corps.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah, for Peace Corps. I was going to become the regional rep. They called it a regional rep. And it was going to be on the island of Mindanao, which, in the southern Philippines. And I had gone to Washington, DC, and was interviewed by the Peace Corps director at the time. This was after Shriver. And I was accepted.

WILSON: That would have been Jack Vaughan?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I think it was Jack Vaughan. In his office. I believe it was. And they offered me the position. And so I went back home to 01:18:00Pennsylvania, and getting ready to go back to the Philippines for two more years, that was the typical tour. And I had about two weeks to go before I was supposed to leave. And I realized that I didn't want to go. So I knew that if I went back, it wasn't that I didn't like the Philippines or anything like that, or that I didn't think I could do the job. It was I knew that if I went back to the Philippines, my life would probably forever change and I would, it was a decision that would 01:19:00have been life changing, basically. The Philippines, the Peace Corps had already been life changing. But this was going to be even more so, because I was really going to take a path that probably would have lead to who knows what. And I decided that I wanted to stay in the United States, and to experience that. Because all I had been was a student all my life. Up until the time I went to the Peace Corps. I'd been a student. And I had never really held a job in the United States. I had never really worked or lived on my own in the United States. And I wanted to. So I didn't want to go back to the Philippines at that time. So I told the Peace Corps I didn't want to go. So I stayed in 01:20:00the United States.

WILSON: Yeah. And in Pennsylvania?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah. In Pennsylvania. I looked for a job in Pennsylvania.

WILSON: Did you have something particular in mind at that time?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I wanted to be in a planning kind of a situation. But since I had absolutely no experience in planning other than what I had in the Peace Corps, I had no direct experience--

WILSON: And no formal training.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Nor formal training. Zero. Nobody wanted to hire me. And they were completely right. (laughs) I mean I had no formal training, and Peace Corps wasn't enough. So one afternoon, it was in January, cold and downtown Pittsburgh, I walked -- this is how we make our decisions, seemingly a small decision in life, it just blossomed 01:21:00into something completely unforeseen. But I'm walking down the street in Pittsburgh and I look on the side of a big skyscraper and there's a bronze plaque on the side of the building and it said UPI, which was United Press International. And I had a degree in communications. So what the heck, I just said to myself. I'm going up and talk to them. So I did. I went up the elevator to UPI and walked into their office there. There was the bureau manager there and another gentleman, I can't think of what he was doing there. I said, "I'm looking for a job." And I told them a little bit about my background. And they kind 01:22:00of conferred and they came back to the table and they said, "Well, we'll offer you a job." And they offered me the job right then. And they said, "You can go to, you just start out as a bare bones writer for UPI. The pay is not very good." And it wasn't.

WILSON: Had they seen anything you'd written?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No! No. They just liked me. I mean, I told them all this stuff. I had a degree from Duquesne. You know, I mean, I'd spent two and a half years in the Peace Corps, I mean, how bad could I be?

WILSON: Okay. (laughs)

ARCHAMBEAULT: You know, I mean, so they basically said, "You can go to either, we have an opening in Louisville, Kentucky, or Columbus, Ohio." And I said, I thought about it for about thirty seconds, and I said, "Well, Louisville is where I want to go."

WILSON: Had you ever been to Louisville?


ARCHAMBEAULT: I had been to Kentucky in '63, traveling through Kentucky. But only in the eastern part, in the mountains. And I was impressed by it, right through the heart of Appalachia. And for some reason that always stuck with me, as raw as it was, still is. But it was, I remember how beautiful it was at the time. Anyway, plus I liked to watch the Kentucky Derby. But otherwise, I had no other ties to Kentucky at all. But I did not want to go to Columbus, Ohio. I just didn't want to be up there in the center of Ohio on the flat plain. I just didn't want to be up there. Louisville seemed a lot more romantic to me. I took Louisville. Came to Louisville, crossed the Ohio River 01:24:00in February of '69, I guess it was. Never went back north again. Went to Louisville, worked for United Press International there for about six months. And then I was transferred to Lexington, and I was bureau manager here for United Press International for another six months. That was no big deal, because I was also the only employee. And then I decided I had enough of the wire service, and moved on. And then became a, actually became a photographer.

WILSON: I was going to say, tell me something about that evolution.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Okay, I worked after UPI, I worked, I took a job with, this is kind of a funny story, but Robert Stevens, who was at that 01:25:00time an attorney in downtown Lexington, he became the supreme chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, at that time he was almost an unknown attorney in downtown Lexington. And the county judge, in those days, they have the county judge system, which they still have in most Kentucky counties. And the county judge is like God, you know. Well, a guy named Joe Johnson was the county judge at the time in Fayette County. And it was election time. And Johnson was opposed by this guy who nobody knew, Robert Stevens. And Robert Stevens won the election. By not very much, but he won the election. And I wrote a story that 01:26:00night that he won the election about him, and about him wining the election. And it appeared on the front page of the Herald-Leader, it's not called the Harold-Leader, it's called the Herald, it's the morning paper, the next morning. And I think it was a good article. It was a well written article. And basically it said, you know, now we're going to find out who Bob Stevens really is. That was what the article was about. No one knew him. He won. Well, about an hour after the papers came out, I was in my office at UPI, I got a call. "This is Robert Stevens." He said, "I just read your article that you wrote about me." And I thought uh oh, here it comes, you know. He said, "I'd like to have you on my staff." So I, to make a long story short, I went down and talked to him and took a job with him. I was his administrative assistant for a year. During his first year. And then I went on to do 01:27:00some social work with juveniles, as an administrator, again.

WILSON: Here in Fayette County.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Here in Fayette County. Here in Fayette County. I worked for a federal program called the Kentucky Child Advocacy Council. And we basically provided attorneys for children who were, for juveniles who had been accused of mostly small crimes, who were in the middle of adoption struggles between their parents. In those days, the county judges were the main, the people who basically decided the fate of juveniles. Juveniles had no legal representation back then. Now they do. Partly because of our program. And during this time that I was 01:28:00administrator of this child advocacy council, I began to go out and photograph right around here in Fayette County, on my own.

WILSON: This would have been 1970?


WILSON: Okay. But you had never done photography prior to that?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I had done a little bit. I had done a little bit. But nothing, I mean, amateur, on my own like everybody else. But I enjoyed it. But I never, I never really thought of it as being anything that I would ever pursue. I mean, it just wasn't, I just enjoyed being outdoors because, as I mentioned earlier, I had been raised hunting and fishing. So I enjoyed the outdoors. Camping and hiking. And so being outdoors as a land, photographing the landscape and nature was something 01:29:00that I was able to do and I enjoyed. And I began to read books about photography and study it. One day I took a picture out here along Tates Creek Road and I developed it. I was shooting in black and white back then. I developed it and I said, if you can do that one day, you can do it another day. And that's how I really pushed myself out into doing more photography. One thing led to another. And I quit my job, my last, I was still, I was always self employed, except for UPI. I quit my last job and became a full time photographer. (laughs)

WILSON: Okay. I've got to switch tapes here.

[Tape one, side b ends; tape two, side a begins.]

WILSON: Tape two of interview for Peace Corps Oral History Project with 01:30:00Jim Archambeault on March 21, 2006. (pause) Jim, you were talking a little bit about how you moved from the job of juvenile advocacy to photography. Give me a little more about that. Again, this was 1974, '75?

ARCHAMBEAULT: '74. Yeah, '74. It would have been about '74. Actually, I'm skipping another part there. Between '74, this is after the child advocacy council work that I did, that was three years. After that, I hooked up with a friend of mine and he and I, for about four or five 01:31:00years, this is at the same time as I was doing a lot of photography on my own, but he and I did a lot of planning work where we would hire ourselves out to communities and municipalities to do surveys and planning work for them. And we also did some preliminary development work. We were also involved with a construction company, which I knew not a darned thing about. And we just kind of played around with planning and development and construction.

WILSON: All over the state?


ARCHAMBEAULT: No. Just in Lexington. We branched out. We had some work in Bardstown, Kentucky. We did some work there. Generally it was a period of my life that I don't, it was a learning experience. But in terms of looking back on it right now, I probably could have done something better during that time. But I did it. And so, but it was also during that time that I was becoming frustrated with what I was doing. And although I think all of us are, we can do a lot of things. I could do a lot of things. But was I happy doing them, 01:33:00you know, was I fulfilling myself by doing these things. Could I do them? Yeah. But photography, I began to go out more and more and more during this period of planning and development work that I was doing. I began to go out more and more after work and on weekends, and began collecting photographs and studying on my own. Then I mentioned that one photograph I took that I said to myself well if I can do that once, I can do it again. And that's just exactly what happened at that moment. That's how I felt about it. So I began doing more and more photography.

WILSON: Were you selling the photographs during this time period?


ARCHAMBEAULT: Oh, a few. A few. And now we're going to come to the part of the story that relates to luck and being in the right place at the right time. And a lot of people's lives are, have those sorts of situations that, but anyway, there was a little craft shop, downtown Lexington, the Civic Center. And it was called Collector's Gallery. And the guy that ran it sold prints and horse prints. It was more of a horse-related kind of artwork. And I took my prints down there. I had this little box of eight by ten prints. About fifteen of them. And I took them down and I showed them to him. And I said, "Would you carry 01:35:00my work?" And he said, "Well, we'll do it on consignment." And I said fine, that was at least a way to get my work in his shop. So I took my little wooden box down there and put my prints in there. Occasionally he'd sell a print. And at the same time, I applied and got into the Kentucky Guild of Arts and Crafts in Berea, based in Berea. And I started doing those art shows that they sponsored in Berea. And it was another way to kind of get my work out there more. Anyway--

WILSON: This is the mid 1970s?

ARCHAMBEAULT: This is '77. '76, '77, into '78. And I still, I mean, I was still pretty unsure if I could ever make a living at photography. I still had to hold onto this other work I was doing. 01:36:00But one day I got a call from the owner of a place called Craig House Bookstore. Now Craig House was sort of the forerunner of Joseph Beth, a different owner. And he said to me that there was a company in Oregon that wanted to do a book on Kentucky. And they had seen my work at this little shop in downtown Lexington, at the Civic Center, the Collectors' Gallery. The guy, the representative from the company had come to Kentucky to kind of see if they wanted to do a book here. They decided that they did. Then he saw my work and so he thought well, I'll invite this guy, too. So to make a long story short, they 01:37:00interviewed a dozen photographers. Ten or twelve photographers over a two-year period, a two-day period. And this one person named Doug Fifer, I'll never forget it, all the other people they interviewed were full time photographers. You know, there were some Courier-Journal photographers, there were some Herald-Leader photographers. I mean, these were all full time people. I was nothing. I mean, really, I wasn't. All I had was this little box of eight by ten prints. But I must have come across to him as being sincere. And since I didn't have a job, well, I had a job, but I told him that I would devote all of my energy to this book if I got it. Since I didn't have any other 01:38:00photography responsibilities, and I had no family, I had no children, it was almost a perfect situation. I didn't have to worry about--

WILSON: Other commitments.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Other commitments. Right. And so about a month later he calls me on the phone from Oregon. He said, "Well, we decided that you can, if you want the job, it's yours." (laughs) That was one of the phone calls that changed my, that did change my life, that phone call. So then I told Mike, my partner. I said, "I'm going to have to do this." He said yeah, he understood. So I kind of took care of whatever I needed to take care of. And in about a month's time, I had quit Mike, quit being with Mike and had gone out on my own and had started working on this book. That was in September of '79. And for the next two years, and I didn't have a job. I didn't have a job. And the next 01:39:00two years, I worked on this book. Not full time, but a lot. And I lived right on the edge financially. The only income I had during that time was Mike, my former partner, was involved in building some houses in Pikeville. So I would go down to Pikeville on Monday mornings and drive nails for a week. Stay in a trailer in the mountains. And come back on Friday night. Spend a weekend in Lexington. Of course, there were times when I was out photographing, when I wouldn't be driving nails. But I made seven bucks an hour down there, doing that. And that got me through the two years, pretty much.

WILSON: So no advance on this book.

ARCHAMBEAULT: No. Well, there was an advance, but I spent it on 01:40:00photography equipment. And I borrowed money from friends, which I paid back afterward. And had a couple of yard sales. I had a friend who moved to Texas and allowed me to stay in his house for a year, rent-free, if I took care of it. Things like that. And anyway, after two years I presented my work to the publisher in Oregon, and they liked it, they published the book, and the book came out. And the rest is history.

WILSON: This was which book?

ARCHAMBEAULT: This was the first book, it was called Kentucky, and it was published in 1982, in spring of '82. And then that put my name on 01:41:00the map, I guess. And I began actually to earn royalties for the sale of the book. And I was doing a lot of art shows at the time. And I had some, I did a little bit of work for other people, but I didn't like that. I preferred just to go out on my own. So I pretty much relied on the art shows, and sales. People would call me at my house and I would sell prints out of the house. Anyway, it was enough to make a pretty good living. Then I started doing the calendar in '85, Kentucky calendar. And I started doing note cards in '90. Anyway, I just keep kind of building on my business. And it's done pretty well.

WILSON: And how many books have you done?


ARCHAMBEAULT: Four. I've done Kentucky, the first book, Kentucky 2, which came out in '89. And then Kentucky 3, that came out in '90, no, I'm sorry. The Gift of Pleasant Hill, which is about the Shaker community near Harrodsburg, that came out in '91. And then Kentucky 3 came out in '99.

WILSON: And you're working on a new one.

ARCHAMBEAULT: James Archambeault's Historic Kentucky, it's going to be called. And it will be out in October of 2006. And then I'm working, I'm actually working on a couple of other books now that I have been working on over the years. They're just sort of coming together. But I don't have a publisher or anything like that. But I'm working on 01:43:00some other books.

WILSON: Well, very interesting story. Taking you back, if I may, to the Peace Corps and the Peace Corps experience, what do you, what do you think the impact of your Peace Corps service was on the Philippines or people in the Philippines?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I think that, I think that I've sort of answered this a little bit earlier. My personal impact on the Philippines really was probably simply a person to person impact of my interacting with the Filipinos. My becoming friends with them. I don't think that what 01:44:00I did in terms of my work on the regional planning commission had an impact. I'll never know that. I mean, I know that some of the programs that we started were continued. But I lost track of where they kind of went to eventually. But I think it was mostly just interpersonal relationships with the Filipinos. And exchanging ideas. Maybe I gave them something that they didn't have, and they gave me a lot.

WILSON: Well, and I guess you said something about that earlier, but that's really the follow on question, which is what was the impact on you, of the Peace Corps experience?


ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, I think, well, it's easy to say that it changed my life, it changed how I look at the world and other cultures. How I look at political events that happen. Have happened. are happening. I guess all of that experience that I have is somewhere inside of me and comes out in various ways that I'm not even aware of on a conscious basis. Generally, it was all very positive, my entire experience. And 01:46:00I think that the Peace Corps, I forget how many volunteers there are, returned volunteers, about ninety thousand or something in that, it seems like it should be more than ninety thousand--

WILSON: Well actually, I think it's about total volunteers who have served, it's about 170,000.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Oh, is it? Okay. Okay. Well then, it's more than I thought. But I think that as a group, those people are contributing positively to American culture and to our culture, and to world culture. Just because of their experiences.

WILSON: When you say it impacted the way you looked at the world--


WILSON: What do you mean?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I looked at from a narrow viewpoint, a narrowness that was a result of being born and raised and educated in the United States. 01:47:00Everything is funneled through that. Through that tunnel. And then having lived overseas in another culture, and immersed myself in it as best I could for two years, I realized that there are more ways to look at things than just the American way. So that has colored the way I think about a lot of different things these days. There's more than one way to look at something. And other people have opinions and ideas and express themselves in ways that are just as, if not more, the right word's not "positive." I can't think of the right word. But anyway, 01:48:00other people have ways and ideas and thoughts that are just as viable as ours, if not more, in some cases.

WILSON: Are you still in contact with anybody from your Peace Corps days?


WILSON: Either volunteers or Filipinos?

ARCHAMBEAULT: No, I'm not. I basically, once I came back, I never, I mean, I say that, I run into a volunteer now and then, I have some friends here in Kentucky who are volunteers, they were volunteers. But I do not keep up with returned volunteers or the Peace Corps other than literature I get in the mail and so forth. No I don't. Not at all.

WILSON: What would you say the impact of your experience was on your 01:49:00family? Either your original family or today?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I would say very little. (laughs) The Peace Corps experience is a singular experience that is experienced by the individual and there is really no way to communicate with, communicate emotionally the feelings that one had, or the experiences that one had as a result of being a volunteer when the other person has no idea or experience themselves. There's no way to connect. And so, other than with returned volunteers, obviously. But my family, they wanted to 01:50:00hear, they heard a few stories. But they actually just got bored with it. They couldn't relate. So, I don't think I had any effect on my family, my experience had no effect upon them.

WILSON: Have you had any international experience since your Peace Corps?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Just traveling.

WILSON: You have traveled some? Where?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I've traveled some. I've traveled to, let's see. Italy. At different times, Italy, Ireland, England, the Caribbean, Mexico, China. Those are the highlights.


WILSON: Would you like to do more in the future?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Yeah. We're going to go, my wife and I are going to go to Greece this year sometime. And the older I get, the more I want to travel, because we're running out of time. (laughs) And my legs aren't quite as in shape as they used to be. So I want to get as much in as I can. And of course, financially it's a little easier now than it was twenty years ago to do some of this stuff.

WILSON: And do you, when you travel like that, do you do some of your professional photography?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Absolutely. Absolutely. I could not go anywhere without my cameras. And my wife understands that. And it's not that 01:52:00I'm working constantly, or anything like that, but there are always opportunities that present themselves. So I always have my cameras when I travel. If I didn't have them, I wouldn't go. I mean, I would feel completely lost. Because I still have fun doing photography. Which is why I enjoy it. The day that I stop enjoying it is the day that I stop, period. And that hasn't happened.

WILSON: What do you think the overall impact of the Peace Corps has been?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, I think it's been good for 170,000 people, as you've pointed out, who have experienced a culture, a cross-cultural experience, I think is a positive thing for not just the United States, 01:53:00but on a day to day basis those people are out there affecting other people by their thoughts and what they learned, even if it's not a conscious kind of thing. They're affecting their jobs, other people, ideas, not just in the United States but all over the world. Now you think about the times right now, the times that we're going through right now, you wonder where those 170,000 people are. (laughs) But they're out there somewhere. They're hiding or something. I don't know what they're doing. Anyway, I really think that the impact of those collective experiences has got to be positive for the world and 01:54:00this country.

WILSON: So what do you think the role of the Peace Corps should be today?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I think it's performing well as far as I can tell. I don't think it ought to be changed in any way. Tweaked, perhaps, but it's been tweaked over the years. It's, I guess, had some, people are more educated in their field before they go than they used to be. They used to throw a bunch of B.A. generalists into the water like I was. I didn't have any experience in my field at all. (laughs) I had a degree. But you know, I wasn't like a geography teacher in the fourth grade who wanted to go into the Peace Corps and had ten years experience teaching geography to elementary school kids and I could go over the Africa or wherever and teach geography to them. I had no 01:55:00such experience. It seems like Peace Corps is recruiting more special, people who are more specially trained in what they're going over to do than when I was a volunteer. Which I think is good. Because the experience is still going to be there, the cross cultural experience is going to be there.

WILSON: Do you think there's any connection between your willingness and ability to go into the Peace Corps and do something that you weren't really quote "trained" to do professionally and that same kind of thing through the rest of your career to venture out and do something you 01:56:00hadn't done before, all the way to the point of photography at a later period in your life? Or was that just, was that just something that was a part of you, would have happened anyway?

ARCHAMBEAULT: I think it would have happened anyway, but I've always been, I've always been a person that felt like one had to experience something in order to realize whether one wanted to do it or not. You couldn't read about it in a book and say well, I don't want to do that, you know. So I've been a very experiential person all my life. I mean, if it was for a short time, just go out and experience this thing that you're interested in and see if you want to do it. Sometimes I stayed with something for a while, and sometimes it was only a short while. 01:57:00Like when I was in Pikeville, driving nails into those houses, I knew I didn't want to do that. (laughs) That didn't take but a couple of days to realize that. But I just think experience is the best teacher.

WILSON: Well, that's all the sort of formalized questions that I have. But is there a story or two that you'd like to tell? Or is there a question that I haven't asked that you'd like to answer?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, there was a couple of things that I thought about as we were talking. But I don't know if I can--

WILSON: Well, if you can drag them back up, go ahead.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Actually bring them up again. I mean, I don't know if I can actually think of them. One of them related to photography. But 01:58:00I can't think what it is now. Oh, I'll tell you what it is. It's why I got into photography. One reason, of course, was that I had spent a lot of time outdoors when I was a kid, right through adolescence. But what I found out about photography is that I loved it. And so, what I had finally realized, through years of being a photographer and doing what I did, is that I love it. And so if you can find something, not me, but anybody, can find something that they love to do, the chances are, they're going to be good at it. The chances are, they're going 01:59:00to be. And that's what I would say to anyone who's not sure what they want to do, is to try to find something that they love to do. Genuinely get up in the morning and say hey, this is another great day. Now all my days are not like that, of course. There's the drudgery of the business part of my work that I can do, but oftentimes don't want to. But as far as what I do generally, my photography, my work, going out photographing, I just love it. Doing books, doing calendars, doing design work. And with my own work, thinking of ideas, going out and doing them. It's just wonderful. People say to me, of course a lot more people know me than I know them, because from my public, you know, 02:00:00face. But people say to me, "Well, there's James Archambeault. He's rich and famous." I say, "Well, I don't know about the rich part." I have made a pretty good living from my photography. But I always, I have this second love that no one really knows about. [phone rings]

WILSON: Do you need to get that?

ARCHAMBEAULT: That few people know about, which is completely, people would, "How can you be a photographer and also love this other thing?" But I love real estate. And ever since I was a kid, I'd get the Sunday paper, and the first thing I would look at was the real estate section. Of course I was nine, ten, eleven, twelve years old. I'd look at farms for sale. I wanted to own a farm. Of course, that related to my love of the outdoors, you know, that whole thing. But I also wanted to 02:01:00own land. I wanted to own a piece of land that was mine, and I could stand on it and say it was mine. Even then, I wanted that. And so I bought real estate here in Lexington and in South Carolina. And I got some rental property. I own about eight pieces of property right now. And I love it. I mean I really, yeah, I enjoy going out and finding real estate and making a good deal on it, you know, and then watching that piece of ground grow in value. ----------(??)

WILSON: But is there any connection between those two loves?



WILSON: They're just loves.

ARCHAMBEAULT: They're loves. They're just loves, yeah. I really, if, when all is said and done, I've made a lot more money in real estate than I ever have in photography. Photography is a cash flow kind of thing that just keeps on going. But have I made a great deal of money in photography? No. But I have made a lot of money in real estate. (laughs)

WILSON: Well, you must be good at it.

ARCHAMBEAULT: Which is finding a place and buying it at the right price, and anticipating that it is going to appreciate. And part of that was because I've always been pretty much self employed, real estate was a forced way to save, buy a piece of property, you've got to make the mortgage payment. So it's a forced way to save. I'm not sure 02:03:00if I would have saved very much at all, if it wasn't for real estate. Anyway, it's been fun. I enjoy it.

WILSON: Well, good. Anything else?

ARCHAMBEAULT: Well, I'm sure there is, but I think we've covered a great deal of ground here.

WILSON: Okay. Well, thank you.

[End of interview.]