Interview with Clay Crupper, July 12, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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BOHL: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative Clay Crupper who represented Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Owen, and Pendleton counties in the Sixty-First District from 1974 to 1992. The interview was conducted by Christy Bohl, for the University of Kentucky Libraries, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project, on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 at the home of Clay Crupper, in Dry Ridge, Kentucky, at six o'clock PM. Okay. This evening I'm talking with Clay Crupper. Mr. Crupper, could you please tell me where and when you were born?

CRUPPER: I was born in Owen County, Kentucky, in 1935. On Breck Road in 00:01:00Owen County.

BOHL: And did you grow up there?

CRUPPER: I lived on Breck Road for two years. Then in 1937, my daddy and mother moved in a house on a farm on Fortner Ridge Road. And I lived there 'til I got married in 1956. So, I was actually raised mostly on Fortner Ridge Road; I don't remember living on Breck Road in Owen County. But, that's where I was lived 'til 1956, and that's when I got married and moved to Dry Ridge.

BOHL: Okay. Could you tell me a bit about your parents?

CRUPPER: Yeah. My daddy and mother--my mother was a schoolteacher. My daddy was a farmer. That's all he knew all of his life and they had a three-hundred acre farm. I was raised up on the farm. We grew tobacco, some corn, hay. We had dairy cattle; we milked cows all of our life. My daddy was a dairyman. And my mother taught school, and 00:02:00she'd catch the bus every morning and ride to school. She started teaching' school in 1929, in a one-room school. And she taught there, and then my daddy and her got married in 1931. She walked a mile to school and taught eight grades. And my daddy, he was a, just a--they started out as a sharecropper on the farm. Then they bought the farm in 1945, half of it. They was in partners with Judge Cammuck (??) --used to be court of appeals in Frankfort--they was in partners with him, my daddy was. Then he died in 1949. So, then they bought the other half of the farm. And so they run a dairy, you know, not a large dairy, but they run a dairy all their life, and growed big gardens, and growed their own hogs, and had chickens and beef, and everybody 00:03:00just done what they could. We raised a lot of tobacco, corn, and some corn, and put up a lot of hay. It was just a rural life. And, you know, we was raised poor as a sharecropper, starting' out, but. We all managed to survive, and then I went on to graduate Owen County High School in 1953. Then I attended University of Kentucky College in '54. And then I laid out and was gonna go back, I was aiming to stay to be a veterinarian, and then they told me I couldn't get into vet school for at least four or five years, so, I kindly backed off of that. And so, the man that owned the milk route that run past the house there wanted me to drive for him. So, I started driving the milk truck for him in 1955. I bought the route in '55 after I drove it three months 00:04:00and I bought it from him. And then I met my wife in 1956, and then we got married in '57. I met her on the milk route. Then we have three children--two girls and a boy. All of them's grown. Now I have one great-grandson. He's a year old. So we've had a good life, and we've been married fifty years--we'll be in December fourteenth, if I live to be that long. So when we got married, I moved to Dry Ridge. I rented a house over here for $55 a month at Dry Ridge because that was kind of in the center of my milk route. I moved here in December. In January, I bought the house. I was paying $55 a month rent. Then I bought the house, and I had to come up with $2,000 to buy this house for $6,700. Then I took over a 4 percent V.A. loan with $2,000 down, 00:05:00and my payment was $46 a month. So I lowered--my rent was higher than my house payment. (Bohl laughs) So then, I was in the milk business a total of thirty-eight years altogether. Then in 1962, I served on the Dry Ridge City Council here from '62 to '74. In 1973 is when I ran for the legislature, and I won that year, and I was on there from '74 to '92. So that gives you some history of my background.

BOHL: Okay. Backing up a bit, when you were growing up, how important was education? With your mom being a schoolteacher, obviously she thought that education was pretty important. What kind of expectations did your parents have for you and your siblings?

CRUPPER: Yeah, my mother was strong supporter of education, and she 00:06:00wanted me to--of course, my sister graduated from University of Kentucky, and she taught school in Harrison County for thirty years altogether, but the last few years she was principal of Harrison County High School over in Harrison County. My brother attended the University of Kentucky also, and I went to Eastern, like I said, I only went the one-year and I was going back, and then after I bought this milk route, I was making good money. And so, she didn't really push me to go on and finish my education. Because I could only go there two years. Then I had to go to Auburn, Ohio State for four more years. Then I found out I couldn't get in four or five years, and I didn't know what I was going to do in between times, unless I change majors, and then that changes everything, so after I bought that milk route, then met my wife and got married. Then that changed my education plans.

BOHL: Okay, how about religion? How strong was going to church in your 00:07:00family growing up?

CRUPPER: It was very strong. My daddy and mother, they was Baptists. They went to Mussel Shoals Baptist Church over in Owen County, a little small church. It's still operating today. It's the third oldest church in Owen County. My daddy was deacon there. My mother was Sunday schoolteacher there. And she played the piano there probably sixty years or longer. I mean, 'til she got where she couldn't see, she played piano every Sunday. I mean, unless there was a death or a really bad emergency, they never missed a Sunday. They was regular, I mean. That was the way we was raised, you know. And so, we've tried to carry on that tradition. You know, we all been strong church people, and believe in the Lord, and all that. I believe the Lord provides over everybody. And so, we was strong in religion.

BOHL: Okay. Do you have any memories of World War II?


CRUPPER: Yes. My next-door neighbor there in 1942, named Woodrow Banyan (??); he was killed on Leyte Island in 1942. And I can remember just well as yesterday, of course, I was seven years old. The Army come to our house and talked to my daddy and mother to bring them the news that he'd been killed. And they wanted Mom and Dad to go out to tell Mr. and Mrs. Perkins that their son had been killed on Leyte Island. That was, I think, about December fourteenth--I'm not correct on these dates, but it was in '42, but it seemed like it was sometime in December. And of course, you know, they talked about that, and I can remember hear 'em listen to that old call radio they had about the war and all. And that was sure a shock to the community over there when he was killed, but I remember all about them talking about. Then I can 00:09:00remember the war and what was going on and Pearl Harbor and all that. And I can remember that.

BOHL: Okay. You mentioned the radio. Did you listen to many radio programs? Any in particular you could remember?

CRUPPER: Yeah, we listened to--several of them would always want to listen to the Grand Old Opry. That was one of my favorites, they always wanted to listen to every Saturday night was the Grand Old Opry. And there was several more there that they listened to. They always liked Joe Lewis fighting. That was a big thing, when the prize fighting came on. And there was several more, Jackie Gleason. There was a lot of old-timers. Art Linkletter, there was several of the old-timers that we loved to listen to. And we always listened to WHAS cause that was one of the channels would come in. The first radio I remember us having was one of these great, big ole tall radios that was 00:10:00kind of round, had a big ole car battery over there running it; it was battery. Cause when we moved in over there, we didn't have electric at our house in 1937. Fact, we didn't get electric 'til 1943; was the year we got electric. And Mom would carry a coal oil lamp from one room to the other. And that's all we could see. We didn't have no refrigerator or anything; we had a big ole icebox. We'd go to town on Saturday, get big blocks of ice, and put in top of that icebox to help keep our milk and things chilled down during the week, you know, and keep our produce in what we could. And I remember sometime Mom would buy some lunchmeat, and we couldn't keep it long cause it would spoil. But it was 1943 that we got electric. Cause the first electric was turned on in 1936 in Owen County. Happy Chandler turned the first switch on in 1936. Now, I don't remember that. But, we got electric 00:11:00run to our house in 1943, and we thought that was the greatest thing ever was to have that pull chain on that light to turn that light on. That's all we had was the lights, that's all we had. Then later they put in wall plugs, and I can remember 'em doing that. Then it kept progressing along, you know. And when we first started milking cows, we shipped out to Kraft Foods Company there at Owenton. We'd sit--had barrels dug down in the ground. Had water in it in the shade, and that's what helped cool the milk. Keep it from souring before it would get to the cheese factory, and that's how they started milking. Course, as years went by, we got electric, and then we got canned milk cooler. Then we went to bulk tank, you know, the big stainless steel tanks that you pump it out of, and went to that. I started hauling canned milk in 1956, as I told you. Then I bought a tank route in 1962. Then everybody was going from their canned days into these big 00:12:00bulk tanks. Then I hauled bulk milk. We used to run three trucks, my brother and I. We delivered milk in to Cincinnati. Then, at the last, we went to Winchester, Kentucky, to that new Kroger plant down there at Winchester, we hauled milk down there several years. In fact, I unloaded the first load of milk that was unloaded at the Kroger plant in Winchester, Kentucky. I was the first truck that unloaded there. So, that was kind of an honor to remember those things, you know. I might be talking too much, I don't know.

BOHL: Not at all. That's what's supposed to happen.


BOHL: Do you have any memories of your grandparents?

CRUPPER: Yes, I do. I remember all four of my grandparents. On my daddy's side, his name was Alfred Crupper. He died in 1957. His wife Deanie died in 1948. Yeah, '48. On my mother's side, Smith 00:13:00Davis, he died also in '45. And Deanie Davis died in '48; that was my grandmother on my mother's side. So I remember 'em all well, you know, and my grandfather was such a large man. He weighed--on my mother's side--he weighed five hundred ten pounds when he died, and I used to sit on his knee, and it was like sitting on a horse's back. And he would bounce me up and down. I can remember that just as well. I back up--he died in '43, not '45. It was '43 cause I remember I was eight-years old, and he would still bounce me on my knee. And they had to have a special casket made for 'em. They couldn't get it through the door. They had to cut the winders out bigger to get the casket in, and I can remember that just as well if it was yesterday. And seeing all the people trying to carry him through that winder. He was such a large man. In fact, I got a picture, if I can find it, I'd like to 00:14:00show you before you leave, but they was a good family and good people. All of 'em was on the religious side, every one of 'em, and like I say, they was all Baptists, you know.

BOHL: And were they all farmers, too?

CRUPPER: My grandfather was a farmer till he--he was a farmer most of his life, but in 1929, when the depression hit--nineteen twenty-nine, nineteen thirty--he had three farms, and he lost all three farms. He couldn't make his payments and they took 'em over. Then, after that, he got discouraged, and didn't want to farm anymore, then he got on what they call a WPA. And he worked on the WPA putting in, like, water lines and different things that they done for cities, and he got on that. I think--if I remember right--he made a dollar and a quarter a day, when he started working there. But he worked for years on the WPA. Then he started his own dry-cleaning business in Cincinnati, 00:15:00and then he ran it for several years. And I used to see the gold coins and silver coins that people would leave in their pockets, you know, when they come in, be a nickel or dime. I think, at one time, he had like nine hundred and something V-nickels. People leave 'em the pockets. Back in those days, they was V-nickels. And he had all kinds of money: silver dollars, 1887's, 1883's. I can remember all of them dollars he had. In fact, he give us a lot of them, and we still got some of them. We still got a lot of V-nickels. I got--he divided 'em all up, and I think each one of the kids, grandkids got like two hundred sixty-five apiece. That I've still got V-nickels. I got 'em down there at the bank in a lock box. So, that was basically his story. But, on my daddy's side--on my mother's side, he farmed all of his life, but he was such a big man, he couldn't farm, you know, do no good; he had to have help, you know, but he was farmer cause back then 00:16:00they really wasn't no place hardly to get a job. And I think he did work at his daddy's store. I know he did. They had a grocery store up here at Bracken. He worked in it for a while until they sold that.

BOHL: Did your family talk about politics at all?

CRUPPER: No. No, now my family never was very big in politics. I mean, they was Democrats. Course in Owen County, back then everybody was Democrat. Cause everybody run in the primary seems like you had to be a Democrat to vote in the primary. In Owen County, it seem like everybody had to be a Baptist or a Democrat. It was just sort of the condition, you know. I mean, it was about 80 or 90 percent Baptists and about 80 or 90 percent Democrats back then. And so, they was just automatically Democrats, you know, registered that way. Course I've heard my daddy and mother both say they voted both ways. So, they 00:17:00wasn't sold on one particular party. I mean, hard shell, you know.

BOHL: Um-hm. Okay. Do you have any memories of school when you were growing up?

CRUPPER: Yeah. Nineteen, I started school when I was five years old. And we had a one little one-room school there on Fortner Ridge called Fortner Ridge School. I went that year, and Opal Acree (??) was a teacher there, and I never will forget it. She had eight grades there and twenty-seven students. The very next year, they closed the Fortner Ridge School. Then we all had to go to Locust (??) Mill, and we had to walk a mile everyday from our house to catch the school bus--I'm sorry, half-mile--cause wasn't no place to turn around. The road was bad down at our house. So we had to walk up to the ole Rolling Road, called Rolling Road to catch the bus. Well, during our grade school, 00:18:00we'd go seven months to Locust (??) Mill. Well, when I got in high school, the bus wouldn't even come down that road at all. So we had to cut through the field for two months cause high school was nine months. Grade school was seven months then. So I had to walk across down the hill and up the hill almost a mile through the fields to another road to catch the school bus. And done that for two years before they got the road good enough to let the bus come down to our house to pick us up. So we done a lot of walking to school through the snow and back when we was kids growing up. I mean, school buses, they didn't miss. In fact, when they finally got to where they'd come all the way to our house, I've heard my daddy say a many a time, "We don't wanna try to go to town until the school bus busts through the roads." They'd put chains on, and they'd bust the roads, and they'd come get you. I mean, unless it was snowdrift, you know, so deep that nobody'd get through 00:19:00it. They went to school. If it was six inches of snow, everybody went to school. They didn't think nothing about missing back then, like they do today. But it was a lot of memories. And, you know, and I went to ----------(??) middle school, and it went through the eighth grade there. Then I went out there for the eighth grade. Before the Owen County High School was built, I went two years to Bethany. That was in more or less, I guess, the southeastern part of the county. I went up there 50' and 51', there two years. I went up 'ere 1951. Then 1952, the new Owen County High School was completed. So I went to Owen County in 1952 and 1953. So I graduated the second year after the new school. Then fifty years later, they just now built another new school. So I went to the dedication of it last year. So I saw both schools fifty years apart being dedicated.

BOHL: Okay. Were there any particular subjects that you liked in school?


CRUPPER: Well. Yeah, I liked geography. I was always interested in geography, probably more than anything. As far as math, I was good in math, except geometry, and I had a hard time with that in high school. And English, English was pretty easy for me; I didn't have much trouble with that. But, geometry and trigonometry, they was hard. I mean, it was something wasn't every day thing that you used, and anything you don't use every day is just harder for you to comprehend (??), harder for you to learn, harder for you to remember it, cause it's something you just don't use all the time, but.

BOHL: Okay. So you said your family wasn't very political. What sparked your interest in politics?

CRUPPER: Well, I started out really getting in politics in 1971. Course 00:21:00I was hauling milk then and Wendell Ford was running for governor. And they was trying to get a campaign chairman for somebody in Grant County. Well, seem like they couldn't get nobody cause all the judges and the courthouse people and everybody was already backing Bert Combs. So they couldn't find nobody. So Tom Harris called me, who was senator at that time from Carroll County. He called me. Somebody'd told him I'd make a good campaign chairman. "Well," I said. "I don't know nothing about politics." Here it is 1971, and I'm hauling milk. I'm farming on the side to help my daddy run a farm, and I said, "You know, I ain't got time." "But, we'd like to talk to you." So finally, 00:22:00I agreed, week later set up an appointment. So Tom Harris, Wendell Ford, come here at my house and set down right here, and they talked me into being their campaign chairman. I said, "I don't think we got a chance of winning." I was just honest with him. I said, "They put about five hundred names aiming two weeks ago in the Grant County News; People's already signed up backing Bert Combs--all the judges, county officials, the mayor." I said, "I ain't got nobody." They said, "Well, we got the people if you'll get out and work it." So, to make a long story short, I said, "Oh, give me a week to think about it." So a week later, they come back and met with me, and I finally decided to do it. So I worked hard, and I'd see farmers and things, and I'd put bumper stickers on them and ask them if they could help back me to get Wendell Ford elected. "Why, yeah Clay, we'll do it for you." 00:23:00I started just seeing the grocery man up here, and everybody I knew. None of the political people cause they was all done committed. And to make a long story short, we carried this county by five hundred votes, and I would not have believed that but we had a lot o' people working. They thought they had it made. They didn't do nothing. They sat back. So Wendell Ford took over in '72. Well, in '73, he begged me to run cause this House seat was open. Tommy Reed'd had it, and Wendell Ford give him a job over in Department of Agriculture, and Tom Harris was Agriculture Commissioner then. So finally, I agreed to run for state representative, and a gentleman named Marsh Malloy (??) from Pendleton County, he had already filed. So Wendell Ford called me, and he was wanting me to run. He said, "Clay, I can help you a lot in your district cause you helped me," and bah, bah, bah. So, I decided to run. I won about 72 percent of the vote, so I was pleased. And 00:24:00the next two terms I didn't have any opposition. Then I had opposition two other times, but they wasn't nothing big or anything. So that's really how I got into politics. Not aiming to get in, but just because I liked Tom Harris, and I know'ed him, seem like since I was a boy cause he was in the tobacco business over in Carrollton where we sold tobacco, and I got to know him as a boy growing up with my daddy. And I like Tom Harris, and that's how I got started.

BOHL: Okay. When you were campaigning, how did you go about doing that? Just as in the paper or door-to-door?

CRUPPER: I run ads in the paper. I didn't try to go door-to-door because I had four counties I represented. I had Owen, Grant, Pendleton, and Bracken. And if you leave the Ohio River at Augusta to the Kentucky River at Grants, that's a hundred and ten miles. It's the longest district in the state. It was long. Four counties long. A 00:25:00hundred and ten miles, I couldn't go door-to-door. I didn't have that much time, trying to run those trucks. But what I'd do, every time I'd get a chance, I'd go to all the little towns and stores, and go in and meet the people. See farmers sitting around, buy him a Pepsi-Cola, just, you know, get acquainted with him. And course it helped me so much because I already drove trucks over all--

BOHL: Right.

CRUPPER: --all these counties, even into Bracken County. I picked up some milk in Bracken. Well, I had the name recognition. People knew me in Pendleton County cause I run all over that county. Run over Owen County, raised there. Moved here in '56, knew all the people here, served on the town board, Wendell Ford's campaign. I had a lot of exposure. And it just made it easy. And like I say, I went to all the little towns, you know, I'd go to Augusta, I'd go to Brooksville; I'd go to Neave. I'd go to Monterey over in Owen County. I'd go to Gratz. Go to New Liberty. Go to Bethany. Go to Lebanon Mill (??); I'd just 00:26:00go everywhere. Go to little towns, I'd put up a few signs, leave a few cards, a few fingernail things you sharpen your--

BOHL: Um-hm.

CRUPPER: --fingers with, things for the women. Then when you got into bigger towns like Owenton, I'd go to the beauty shops, the barbershops, the courthouse. I'd just go meet as many people as I could where the group was so much together because you out in rural areas, it just takes too long to try to campaign. You drive a half-mile or a mile to find somebody, and then they wouldn't be at home. And I couldn't do that. I just went to all the cities--Dry Ridge, Williamstown, Falmouth. I just met as many people as I could. I mean, that's the best politics there is, if you can meet people one-on-one. You gotta sell yourself. You gotta be sold on yourself before you can sell somebody else. So that's what I tried to do is sell myself to somebody else.

BOHL: Okay. What was your wife's reaction when you told her that you were planning to run for state legislature?

CRUPPER: Well, at first, she wasn't real happy. She said, "Now, you 00:27:00don't need to get into that." She says, "You into everything. Here you are on the town board. You said you wasn't gonna run again for that, now here you are back on that. And you been on there twelve years, and you said you wasn't gonna run but one or two terms, and you keep saying that, and then you get deeper and deeper into stuff. You on the volunteer fire department up here, and you're one of the chiefs up here, and you doing all that, and you just getting into too much." She said, "I don't think you can run your business and do all this. You just getting yourself spread too thin." She just thought I couldn't do it. I said, "Well, I can do it." I said, "I got help. I got my brother and I got drivers." I said, "You know, he can handle it while I'm gone," and I said, "I'll pay the drivers extra outta my own pay that I get and everything." And so I remember the first year that I was elected. My brother--we got twenty-five dollars a day salary being a state representative in 1974. We got twenty-five dollars a 00:28:00day expense account. I hired a driver to drive for me those three months. And I had to pay him thirty dollars a day. My brother come in one day, and he found out what I made. He said, "I thought you was smarter than you are." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, they told me you only made twenty-five dollars a day." I said, "That's right." "And you paying Mickey, our driver, thirty dollars a day." I said, "Yeah." He said, "Why do you want to lose five dollars a day to have a job?" Said, "That, that don't add up to very many dollars, I don't know why you want to do it," I said, "Well, I don't know either, but that's what I'm doing." And so, that year I told my wife, I said, "Well, I'm not gonna run anymore after this year." I said, "It don't pay enough." And here I am in four counties, and we got like four hundred dollars a month expense account during the months we wasn't in session. Well, my phone bill there sometimes would be two and three hundred dollars. People calling me from other counties, wanting this 00:29:00done, and that done, and that done. Come to a meeting here, and go to a meeting there and I was going two or three nights, meeting the Farm Bureau, meeting somewhere, or teacher's meeting, somewhere speaking. I was just constantly speaking all time. I said, "Well, I'm not gonna run." So the first year I was in there, they voted to raise their salaries, double it. To start in 195--or, 1976, to pay fifty dollars a day and fifty dollars expense account. So after they done that, well, everybody begged me to run one more term. So, I ran one more term. They didn't have opposition to run another term. The first thing, you know, I was there eighteen years. And it was a lot of good times, and it was a lot of hard times. You know, things happen, things that I wouldn't take nothing for the experience. I wouldn't take nothing for the friends I had cause you meet so many nice people all over the state of Kentucky. I was chairman of the House Agriculture Committee 00:30:00for about twelve years and got to meet a lot of good people in those years, and we traveled whole lot, in different parts of the state, and it was an experience, you know, that you'll never forget and good memories. You know, you win a lot of wars, like I won there with all them, you know. People appreciate you, you know, and hard dedication you do. And so, it was very memorable, and I know my kids, you know, they didn't get to go places like other kids cause I was gone so much. And it made it hard, but they was willing to go along, tag-along. I'd go over to Whitley to a Halloween party. I mean, they'd tag right along with me, you know, and never fuss about it. They was little kids growing up, but you know, they was good, and they enjoyed it when they got there, and they see the other little kids. They all enjoyed it. So, it was a lot of good times. And I like to meet people, and that's what it's all about. And trying to help the people of your district 00:31:00and in this state. I mean, people call me, when they call me at night. 'And Clay, I got a problems,' you know. 'Here's my Social Security,' or, 'I got problems this.' I mean I'd get in and try to help them if I could, and then Wendell Ford went to the Senate in nineteen, I believe, seventy-five, or seventy-six, and his office down here, Jan Gherding and them. If I had something on the federal level, I'd call them and turn the people over to them, and they'd try to help 'em if they could, and everybody worked together, and so I had a good relationship with Wendell Ford and his office when he become a senator. It was a big asset for me cause they'd do anything they could to help me or my clients, you know, their clients, too, same thing. So, you know, I look back to all those memories, and it was just--it was great, it really was. And I wouldn't take nothing for it.

BOHL: Okay. How did your experience in the legislature compare to the expectations you had of it beforehand?


CRUPPER: Well, it was just altogether different. I mean something. After I got elected, I just started learning, you know. You just an old country boy from Owen, Grant County, and Pendleton County, and Bracken County, you just start kindly learning the process. Course, you know, being on the town board for twelve years, I learned a whole lot about government there, and about grants, and different things, and the way government works, you know. So I had a certain amount of experience. And I had that year there with Wendell Ford that I had beforehand. I was to his office several times, and talking to him, and he'd have different things over there for different precinct people, and things, and so, you know, I picked up quite a bit from just listening and learning from other people, you know. Then we had an orientation when we was elected, three or four days during the session, try to help you teach things. Where everything's that, how to draft a bill, and do all those kind of things. I mean, they was good. The LRC 00:33:00was awful good about trying to help the newcomers. When we went there in 1974, there was thirty of us went that year. And I guess, right now, the only one left is Adrian Arnold, and he's retiring this year. I think that's the last one of us. Hank Hancock's done gone. I think he's the last one. Woody Allen stayed probably longer. He retired two or four years ago; he went there the same year, we did. But Adrian Arnold's the last one there that went there in 1974. Course the oldest member there is Jim Bruce. He's been there since Noah come over here on the Ark, you know. (Bohl laughs) But he's not running again. I understand he's in pretty feeble condition, and Jim was an awful good friend of mine. I thought a lot of them. He could give you a lot of good advice. That was another thing. I happened to be able to sit by people been there for four, five, six terms that can give you a lot of 00:34:00good advice, if you'll just ask them and listen, you know. And that helped a lot. So, you know, it's a learning experience. And when you're even there as long as I was, I mean you still learning something all the time. Things changes all the time, you know, but the budget and everything, I mean, you learn all that process. It was a--it was an experience.

BOHL: Um-hm. Was there ever a time that you had a conflict between something your constituents said they wanted and what you thought should be done?

CRUPPER: Well, yes, there's always a time. (laughs) When you got half the people over here and half of them over there, you know. One of the biggest things I had one time was over 'at helmet law, I never will 00:35:00forget that. We had the helmet law. Well, here was a big group here in this county wanting it repealed. We already had the helmet law. Well, I mean, you couldn't win. Whichever way you went, you made the other side mad. And I was for the helmet law. I wanted to keep it. I said, "I'm not for repealing." And another thing, when teachers one time--which my mother was a teacher as I told you--they wanted that collective bargaining, bad. And I said, "I can't be for that," and I explained why. I said, "We're," you know, "I don't see how we can unionize using the taxpayer's money. That's different in my business, that it is the taxpayer's money. In good faith, I can't be for collective bargaining; I cannot do it." Well, all the teachers, they 00:36:00got awful upset with me. It was hard here for a while, but I done what I felt was right in my heart. I said, "I'm gonna work and I'm sure all the other members will to give you every dime we can a raise. I know we're a poor state. We don't have that much money, but we gonna try to give you all raises to get our salaries up close to competitive of the other bordering states." You know, I said, "We gonna try to do that, but it's gonna take a little time, and that's what I'm for." I said, "You won't find me a time that when we're voting, me a vote against you getting a raise." I said, "I will not do that. I'll work to get you every penny I can, but it can't be for the collective bargaining." That was one of the hardest issues; those two things that I remember I had to fight with. So, it was tough. It wasn't easy.

BOHL: Was there anything in your legislative experience that surprised you?

CRUPPER: That surprised me? (laughs) Well, that's a tough one. I can't 00:37:00think of anything surprised me really, I mean. Things just happened, but I don't know anything really surprised me. I can't remember nothing right off the top of my head. I may think of it as I'm talking to you, but I can't think of it right now.

BOHL: That's fine. Okay. Some of the big issues in Kentucky that were going on while you were in, one that's getting a lot of play right now is the merit system.


BOHL: What do you remember about when you were in dealing with the merit system?

CRUPPER: Yeah, we passed the law. I can't recall what year it was that we'd have the merit system, like we did for tenure for schoolteachers for basically the same thing. So, they just couldn't up and fire some teacher because they don't like the way she combs her hair, or something. That was the tenure law, you know, that protected schoolteachers. We passed a merit law to protect the state employees 00:38:00from just what was happening, changing from a Democrat administration to a Republican administration. And that's the reason we done it to protect it. And I remember Wendell Ford, and I had to admire him for this, when Bert Combs, when Louie Nunn was Governor before Bert Combs--before Wendell Ford--Louie Nunn fired almost everyone up state barn. Put all new people in there. We had no merit system back when Louie Nunn was in there. And that was one thing I told Wendell Ford. I said, "Wendell, these are good people up here at the state barn," and I said, "If you gonna ask me to go up here to fire them to put some more people in there," I said, "I'm not gonna be any part of that." I said, "Those people's got to live same as everybody else, and I cannot do that." He says, "Clay," he says, "You tell them not to worry about their jobs. I'm not going in there to fire a one of them. If you want 00:39:00one replaced, you know, that, I'll do it, but I don't want to do that." I said, "I don't want to do it. I'm not gonna do it." He said, "If you got some other people wants jobs, we'll keep a list of them. If somebody quits or something, we'll put them in their place and run it like that." I said, "Wendell, I admire you for that." And that's the very words he told me. I said, "I don't want a one of them fired." He said, "I don't, either." But when Louie Nunn come in, he cleaned the house. That's basically, what happened over here at Frankfort this time with a lot of the big, big offices. Now, I'm not talking about the little offices, cause those little small salaries, ain't nobody fighting for them, anyway, you know, but. The big executive people knows that was under the merit system that had the high paying jobs, you know, I think it's wrong to fire them or, or transfer them just to get rid of them, I think it's wrong. Just because the administration's changing, especially if you doing a good job, I just don't feel right doing it. I wouldn't want it done to me. You wouldn't want it done to 00:40:00you. And that's the way I feel.

BOHL: Another big issue was education reform and the passage of KERA.

CRUPPER: We had a lot of debate over that. And at first, I wasn't for the education reform but the more I could see it, the way politics is played in the thing and down in especially the mountain areas, and people paying thirty thousand dollars to get elected to school board and everything. I seen the education reform was, I thought, was a good thing to try to keep politics out of it, to run it good, and make it better. And I think it's worked out really for the best. It was a lot of controversy at first, and I had a lot of people mad at me because I supported education reform. But I think in the long run it was the right thing to do.


BOHL: What about gubernatorial succession, the idea that the Governor can be elected to a second term?

CRUPPER: Yeah, I was for that. I was for that because I felt like if you had a good governor, which I think--course Wendell Ford, you know, didn't serve too long. He went to Senate. But there was people like Julian Carroll that done a good job. Then, you know, I think lot of times it might take him close to four years to get all his programs really started moving good. Now, you gonna--he can't run no more, so he's out, and somebody else come in, they want to change things. So that's giving the people a choice, if they want to keep him another four years or not keep him. But if he's got good programs going, I think they ought to have to be able to run two terms. I was for that.

BOHL: Okay. During the time you were in, there was a shift in the relationship between the legislature and the Governors--

CRUPPER: Oh, yeah.


BOHL: --toward a more independent legislature.

CRUPPER: Oh, yeah. It used to be back when I was even in there, even when Wendell Ford was there in my first term, I mean the Governor called the shots. If he wanted this bill passed or that bill passed, it got passed. Or, if it didn't, it was a dogfight; let's put it that way. Same way under Julian Carroll's administration, all the way up 'til John Y. Brown. When John Y. went in, that's when he didn't care nothing about the legislature. He basically said, "I'm gonna pass the budget, and do this and do that. You people over there can do whatever you want to." And that's when the legislature come independent, when they had run-ins with John Y. Brown. I'm gonna tell you like it is, that's when it was. And then, after that, the legislature, the legislative was an independent branch of government. Before that, they'd call you down to the Governor's office, "Clay, we gotta have 00:43:00your vote for this bill." "I ain't gonna vote for it." "Well, you won't get no roads over here. You ain't gonna get this over here." They had you. Then you gotta go back and explain to your people, 'Why'd you vote for it? Why'd you vote against it?' You know. Well, I had to do it, or I ain't gonna get this connector road over here. They gonna take it away from me. And that was bad, but that's the way it was. The Governor had the handhold on you. I never will forget one day Paul Rick (??) went down there and he come back. I said, "Paul." I said, "That bill,"--I don't remember which one it was--I said, "You said you wasn't for that. There wasn't no way you was gonna vote for it." He said, "Well, the Governor made it look a lot better than what it was." (both laugh) The very words he said. Never said another word. Said the governor made it look a lot better than what it was. I laughed. I said, "Yeah, I understand. I was down there before you was." (both laugh) So I knew what it was. But they had an arm hold on you, and it's a lot better today than what it was back thirty years 00:44:00ago. I'll tell you that because now it's independent. They can vote what they thinks' right, do to help their constituents and run this state. It's just a lot better than it used to be. So much better.

BOHL: Okay, what kind of relationship did you have with the governors who were in office while you were?

CRUPPER: Had good relationship with all of them except John Y. Brown. And I had to vote against one bill he had--and I don't remember which one it was--but he got mad at me at that time. And I never did have a very good relationship, but I had to do what I had to do. But I had good relationship with, of course, Wendell Ford, as chairman, Julian Carroll is one of my best friends. He stops here once in awhile, and I give him this ole country ham when he used to go through here as Governor from Northern Kentucky to Lexington. Then Martha Layne Collins, I worked for her hard and her campaign to help get her elected. Fact, I went to China with her, when she went over to China 00:45:00trying to sell her agricultural products. I went to China with Martha Layne Collins. We was over there for like nine days. And I had a good relationship with Martha Layne Collins. And course, Paul Patton, I had a part of the four years with him. And to me, he's one of the best Governors, hard-working Governors, we ever had was Paul Patton. I mean he done an excellent job. And I'd support him for anything he run for cause he would try to help the people. And he was sincere in everything he done. I really admired that man. I liked him. You'd go down and sit down and talk to him. And he'd prop his feet up like time didn't mean nothing to him. However long you wanted to talk, he was willing to talk to you. That's what I liked about him. He was just down to earth, and he'd try to help you, if he possibly could. That's what I liked about Paul Patton.

BOHL: You mentioned before how you could see some of the divisions 00:46:00in the state when we were talking about education reform with the mountains and that sort of thing. Did you see much faction division in the General Assembly?

CRUPPER: No--well, yes and no. Yeah. Not too much, but course, the mountain peoples, you know, they all fought that pretty hard. They didn't want that down in there. And it was kindly some hard feelings when you have folks for something and the other people down there voting' against it, and you'll have some hard feelings. 'Why you voting against us,' you know, but it's kinda thing where you don't let friendship, your vote, you don't let vote ruin your friendship, is what I'm trying to say. You don't do that, you know.

[Tape 1, side 1 ends; side 2 begins.]

CRUPPER: You know, there's times that I have to be for certain things, and you have to be for certain things and it depends on which area you represent. You know, those coal people boys from down, there'd come to 00:47:00me and says, "Clay, we need this passed for our people down in the coal mines. I don't know nothing about the coal mines." All my people here knew how to burn it. That's all they knew. They didn't know a thing about coalmines. And I'd tell Clayton Little or Herbie Destin (??) and all those boys from down in there, I said, "You boys," you know, "you tell me how the right way to vote. I don't know whether I'm voting right or wrong. I don't know nothing about coal. My people burn some of it, burn it, but that's all I know about it. So I depend on your expertise to lead me in the right direction," and they would. I think every time they's sincere and they done things to help their people down there, and I would back them a 100 percent, but the same thing always went for me, if I had something for agriculture, that helped our farmers out here, whether it was in tobacco, corn, beef, hogs, or anything, those boys from mountains says, "Clay, we don't know nothing about that. We were dig coal down here. You tell us how you think we 00:48:00ought to vote here to help these farmers in agriculture." They was with me a 100 percent cause they knew I was trying to lead them down the right path to vote. So it was kind--it was a game that you played and swapped but you would help your people and they could help their people and I was willing to help their people same as they were willing to help our people. So yeah, it was a good relation. And I loved to work with those mountain boys. They was always good to me. They was really good to me. And I loved it down in there. We used to go down there to Pineville and have meetings and things down in their area, and I'd always love it down in there. I loved the mountains. I never did live down there but I always just loved being down in there.

BOHL: Okay, I know during the late seventies, early eighties, there was a Northern Kentucky Regional Caucus that was forming. And as I was doing my research, it seems like sometimes they thought you were part of it and sometimes they didn't.

CRUPPER: Yeah. (laughs) I was always the outer shoe, you might call 00:49:00it. See, Kenton, Boone, Campbell come around here. Then, you got Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Pendleton, Bracken, and Mason all in triangle around it. Well, all the boys from Central Kentucky, Scott County on down, they wanted to come down and include me. The Northern Kentucky boys, they wanted me in it cause it'd give them one more vote. Central Kentucky boys wanted me in it cause I was right on this borderline here. I'm in the borderline between the Central and Northern. So I went to both caucuses. Well, some of them didn't like it. They said, "You either gotta be one or the other one, and I said, "No, I can be both of them." Cause I looked at it the standpoint I need votes, you know, I got twelve here and fourteen up here. I said, "I got a big block of votes." I can swing 'em both ways to maybe vote for the particular bill I had cause I'm in both caucuses, see. So, yeah, I was on the outside, I mean, but you know, they accepted it. I always 00:50:00met with the Northern Kentucky Caucus and then the Central Kentucky Caucus with Mark Prior (??) and all that bunch who was in there. Mark Prior represents Scott County, which joined my district here, and he represented Harrison County, which joins Pendleton County, so, and the edge of Grant County. So yeah, I served in both caucuses, and they never did fuss at me. They didn't like it at first, but they never fuss too much after me. I told them I was gonna serve in both of 'em and I said, "Y'all can either take me or leave me," so they took me. (both laugh) That's just the way it was.

BOHL: Okay. Over the course of your time, your district kept getting redistricted. You had different parts of different counties. How did you adapt to that?

CRUPPER: Well, when I first went in, I had Owen, Grant and Pendleton. Well, when the next redistricting come up, I had Owen, Grant, Gallatin, and Carroll. They throwed me over here in two different 00:51:00counties. Took two away from me. Well, another ten years went by, they took Gallatin and Carroll away from me; give me Pendleton and Bracken. But I always kept Owen and Grant. My two base counties was my home counties. I was born and raised in Owen County. Moved here in '56. So I had my two base counties and the two largest counties. So it never did affect me that much, although those people over there in Carroll County, Bill Wheeler and all that bunch, circuit clerk, I got to know all them so well over there, they just about cried when the redistrict took me. They said, "Clay, we love you over here. You come over and you visit us all the time, and we have meals together over here and everything." Said, "Why can't they have to put us over here?" Well, there's gonna be a new representative, and you know how that would be. I mean, you would have your own feelings about it. You hate to lose somebody that you know well and work with well. So it was tough. It was tough. I mean, I just about cried sometime to 00:52:00have to do it. But at the same time, I had to do what I done. I mean, I couldn't--wasn't no other way to cut the pie. You only allowed so many people in each district. And there's times when you gotta go down and take a piece of this county and a piece of this county, and you don't wanna split counties, if you can help it, but there's times you have to. That population has to work out right. So it was hard, I mean. It was hard. I was always fortunate though that I did keep the total counties intact. I didn't have part of Carroll County, not all of it, or I didn't have part of Bracken County, not all of it. I had all the full counties. And people like that. They don't like it where you got five representatives in Kenton County, for instance, a little piece over in a little. They don't know who to call, they don't know who their representative is; it's bad. Excuse me. And I know Kenton County is big enough. You have to. It makes it bad when you gotta put a little piece here. And that district that Jon David 00:53:00Reinhardt's in right now, come right straight across here. That's sad. It's absolutely sad. You got part of Campbell. Then you got part of Kenton and maybe a little piece, Boone, that's in all straight line, just a piece all the way across there, and that's probably the reason Jon David just didn't want to fight it, I mean. The people don't know who's who and everything. Course Jon David's been there a long time. He's a good friend of mine. But I know he said that when they redistricted him last time, it was awful, and I agreed with him. They shouldn't have cut it up like that. It's not fair to those people to be cut up and pushed here and pushed there. It's just not fair. I know it has to be re-districted, but there oughta be a better way.

BOHL: Did you feel like as a legislator from a rural district that you were able to convince the urban legislators to go along with your stuff?


CRUPPER: Yeah, you know, that's just like the Louisville group and all that, if I had a piece of legislature for the farmers, you know. I remember one bill that I fought so hard for was when we passed the law to make agricultural land be taxed as agricultural land rather than the fair cash value. I worked hard for that. It was hard to get done because the state was gonna lose so much revenue. On the other hand, all these people like around Dry Ridge here at this interstate, they was getting to where they couldn't pay their taxes. These old farmers own this land right here close to the interstate. Their fair cash value, land selling around them for homes, stores, malls, going up, they couldn't pay their taxes. They says, "Clay, we gonna have to sell out. We can't pay our taxes. Don't know what we're gonna do." So I pushed hard that, don't matter if your farm's here at Dry Ridge, or it's way over here in the hills that the land would be taxed as agricultural land rather than fair cash value. Now I had a hard time selling the 00:55:00Louisville bunch on that because they thought I was taking too much revenue away from the state that they wasn't gonna get for things they need, for their schools down there, fire departments, or whatever, you know. But we got it passed and that was probably one of the best pieces of legislations I ever had and worked on. But it really helped a lot of farmers. I mean, it helped our people here, big time. Cause, I mean, it was gonna get bad cause the assessments was going up. Their taxes going up. It wasn't no--you could raise it 4 percent, I mean, they just raise it whatever it went up. And then we passed a law where it couldn't be raised more than 4 percent above the previous year, you know. And that helped some but, you know, if they raised 4 percent every year that soon counts up to a whole lot of money. They doing that a whole lot. But Grant County right now is holding their tax base the same cause the new growth is keeping going good, so that's good. 00:56:00We've had a lot of building. This county's growing fast. This is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. I think it was twelve thousand people in '73 when I run. Now we have over thirty thousand. So it's really growed, you know--I'm sorry; twenty-two thousand, I think. I think, it's twenty-two thousand.

BOHL: Okay. You've mentioned how much it's grown around here in Dry Ridge. How have the needs of the people in your district changed from the time you went in to the time you went out?

CRUPPER: Hm. Well, the people I knowed years ago--hold on just a second. Well, this county's just grown so much. People moving out of Northern Kentucky and out of Cincinnati out here, they wanting to get out, they wanting to get away, they wanting to get out in rural areas. These side roads out here, just growing up with new houses, unbelievable. You can go down this Mt. Zion Road, and I think from here to the top of the hill and then about a four-mile range, it's like 00:57:00seventy new houses gone up in the last ten years. It's just how fast it's boomed. Same way back here on these other roads. ----------(??) All these roads, just building, unbelievable, people wanting to get out, wanting to get out. The people that I've known back then, a lot of 'em, of course, dead now, but the ones I know, they still the same people. Still good people. New people move in, it's harder to get acquainted if you don't have some kinda way to get acquainted with them cause they go to work, they come home at night. They go to work, come home at night. Seems like they don't go play square at the country stores and mess around, other than Walmart, and you don't know nobody that goes to the Walmart anymore. They all run in there and do their thing, they gone on home. Times have changed since we was back young, you know, and it's just moving, and it's booming and it's gonna continue that way it looks. I don't see no let up around here the way it's doing. They building new subdivisions everywhere you look. So it's definitely changed.


BOHL: Who would you say are your political heroes?

CRUPPER: Who was they?

BOHL: Who would you say would be your political heroes?

CRUPPER: Here in the state or the state or the country? Wendell Ford was one of 'em. And I thought a lot of Bill Clinton. I thought he done an excellent job regardless of what happened. I think he done an excellent job for our country. I thought just a world of him. Course I always liked Harry Truman's theory, you know, I mean. Harry Truman always said, "The buck stopped here," I always liked his theory about things. Whether he was right or wrong, the buck stops here, and he took the blame for anything. I always admired the guy and he was one I just always admired. Of course, I think Bill Clinton done an excellent job of running our--I met Bill Clinton in Arkansas in one of 00:59:00the legislative conferences when he was governor down there. I sat at the table and talked to him one day for about thirty or forty minutes, me and three or four more legislators, and I really seemed like I got to know the guy well, and he was just plain and talked about art, just common sense, like we would about things. I just thought he was just a dedicated person for people and the way he talked to us, and I really admired him.

BOHL: Okay. How would you classify your political philosophy?

CRUPPER: Towards people liking me, and things, or?

BOHL: Well, just what did you think government was supposed to do?

CRUPPER: Well, government's for the people. To serve the people, you know. We're just one of the servants that's supposed to serve the people. You know, what we're for is to see that we educate our childrens, provide money for our teachers, money for sewers, money for water, all of the hospitals (??) that we have. I mean, that's 01:00:00what government's all about--to help make a better life for all of our people. That's what the government's all about. It's just that simple.

BOHL: When the General Assembly was in session in Frankfort, did you commute or did you stay down there?

CRUPPER: About the first eight years, I drove back and forth, I commuted. But when I got in there longer and I become chairman of the Agriculture Committee and I served on the county's Special District Committee and the Transportation Committee, seemed like it was taking so much more of my time and everything. So Kenny Rapier, he came in 1978. He and I got a room together for three months over here. We rented a room, and I didn't stay every night but I would always stay on Monday nights cause I went in at 4:00 in the afternoon and sometimes wouldn't 01:01:00get outta there 'til late, and I'd stay on Monday night and then have to be back maybe at eight o'clock for a meeting on Tuesday morning. I'd have to get up at six to be over there by eight. And so, he and I got a apartment together, and we had a apartment together for right at ten years. And he was from Bardstown. And sadly, to say, he died here about three or four years ago. One of my best friends and just a super guy, and he was the whip of the House there for two or three terms and done a good job. And it was just sad to see him so young die, you know. But yeah, I commuted like I say for the first few years then I started staying over there. But it's an hour, and close the time you leave here to get a parked and get into the Capitol, it's an hour and thirty minutes drive or right at it. And so, it was just hard. It wasn't easy any way I went but staying' all night was what I done. I'd 01:02:00stay Tuesday night, maybe come home on Wednesday night, and I'd always stay Thursday night. I'd stay about two nights a week. Cause I had to come home see about my business, my family, see if our trucks is running all right, and all that. Cause when you in business you gotta stay on top of it. I mean business don't run itself. You gotta run a business. You can't just turn it loose. Cause I had to see if those trucks was in mechanically shape to run. See if those drivers gonna be there, and even though I had a brother--without him I could not have done it. I still wanted to be a part of it. Had to be a part of it.

BOHL: Okay. Did you ever spend time like at Flynn's or somewhere with other legislators?

CRUPPER: Yeah. Yeah. We'd go up there at night, always a good place to eat. I'd go up there, like I say, maybe Monday night or Thursday night; a couple of nights a week I'd go up Flynn's. Yeah, that was one hangout. Seemed like, they always said all the bills got passed up there at Flynn's. You know, that's what the old saying was. I said, "Well, I don't agree with that." They said, "Well, that's when they 01:03:00talked about 'em all the time up there at Flynn's," and which they did. A lot of 'em discussed 'em up there, and, you know, it was good in a way because you really learned a lot about a bill up here, listening to people and letting 'em explain to it rather than somebody getting upon the House floor the next day, and just telling a little bit a part of it. And I'll guarantee you 80 percent of the bills wasn't none of 'em read all the way through every time. No way you could do that, it was just too many. You couldn't read 'em all. Now anybody tells that's, fibbing, I can tell you that right now. They can't read 'em all. I tried to read many as I could. And basically, I mean, the controversies, the one that's the real controversy, I tried to read all them. Put the plus and the minuses together. But one out here, you know, like I had one bill to change the law where you had to be filed by four o'clock in the afternoon instead of midnight, like we used to do. Used to be filing date was at midnight on a certain date. Well, people was going in up here at the courthouse some way and kicking 01:04:00their papers underneath the door that night and that. And they closed at four o'clock that afternoon and said, 'Well, Mr. Jones ain't got no opposition.' Next day they opened the door. Well, here's two people done stuck their applications under the door. Opened 'em up. 'Well, we got two more people running.' Well, they all thought it was crooked. Didn't think it was right. So I introduced the bill and got it passed that said they had to be filed by four o'clock on the last filing date. Simple bill. Anybody can read that two lines, you know. That was probably one of the best bills that I ever passed. Just keep a lot of controversy down. Cause there's a lot of things, happening. And those boys down the mountains says they's a lot of tricks pulled when that midnight stuff cause that courthouse is closed, a lot of things can happen. They go to the clerk's. He lives over here on Jones Street. They take their things over there, you know. Well, what's the law say? Well, it said as long as you got to be filed by midnight. Well, the clerk's got it in his hands by midnight, so nobody knew what was going on. So I had that bill. That was a good bill. So that was my bill. I filed that one.


BOHL: Okay. You were also on the tobacco task force, which makes sense with you having farmed tobacco.


BOHL: There were some changes going on certainly involving tobacco.

CRUPPER: Yeah, tobacco's took a big hit ever since I been in there. You know. The smoking issue, you know, is a big thing anymore. And course, I'd fight for the farmer's tobaccos and course, all the health people's always against me because I fought for the farmer and tobacco and smoker's rights. And I had a hard time, you know, fighting 'em but, you know, I done what I thought was right to protect the farmer cause it was a legal crop. And as long as it was a legal crop, I was gonna try to fight to help 'em grow as much as they could and get every dollar they could a pound for it. And see, we went from, used to be acreage. You'd have so many acres you could raise. Then it went to poundage. Now the buyout come along. They come and buy your base and 01:06:00you can't grow anymore on poundage. You still grow it and you sell it direct to the manufacturer, you know. So it's really changed since then. But yeah, I served on that tobacco task force. And there was a lot of things on that that wasn't easy but we all made it through it. And worked for the farmer and I was a big push to help get these Mexicans in here to--with J. D. Wolfe who used to work over Department of Agriculture. We formed a thing this to try to get these Mexicans in here. And we'd bring 'em in here through that H2A (??) program to help farmers have help in here housing tobacco, those big farmers. And we'd bring in probably one thousand Mexicans a year. I was a big part of that. I was one that got that started. They had their green cards, and they was all legal. Then when they was over with, they went back. We had to put 'em on a bus and send 'em back. They had to go back; they didn't have no choice. But the farmers had to have a housing place for 01:07:00them. They had to pay them so much an hour. The facilities had to be inspected by the U. S. Government before we could bring them in here. So it was a good program. Cause you raising fifty acres of tobacco out here, you go up here in Dry Ridge start trying to get help to house tobacco. Well, you just as well's to take a gun and shoot yourself cause you ain't gonna find it. Nobody wants to work that hard. That's hard work to house tobacco, cutting tobacco and putting it in the barn and stripping tobacco. So that's a program that J. D. and myself formed and it was a good program. It really helped a lot of farmers.

BOHL: You were also on the Business Organizations and Professions Committee, and I read that you were really interested in horseracing. Is that something that you were always interested in?

CRUPPER: Yeah. I bought my first horse in 1975 and I had horses up 01:08:00'til last year. And before you leave I got them hanging, some of them hanging out there on the wall out there, you can look at, some of the winners I had. But I always loved horses and that was just always one. I had a farm right up here the edge of Dry Ridge, and my wife took care of the horses, and we used to raise little colts, and I was just interested in horseracing. I got into it and just liked it. And some years I'd make money out of it and some years I wouldn't, you know, but. I just enjoyed horses. And I done everything I could to help racing in Kentucky, you know. And I pushed for the simulcast. I mean, when that come along that was a hot issue. But I was for it because a lot of people get off work in Cincinnati, they come to Turfway Park down here and Churchill Downs is running. Well, they couldn't go to the races to watch horses but they'd just stop at 3:00 in the day in the afternoon, watch four or five races at Turfway, and then go on home. And I thought that was just a great thing. Same way they got up to Lexington. They can run over there to Keeneland to watch it, and so I know Tom Meeker at Churchill Downs got awful mad 01:09:00at me cause I pushed so hard for that simulcast and everything, but it was the right thing to do and it's panned out to be a good thing. In fact, that's what's kept racing going in Kentucky today with all the riverboat competition we got is the simulcast. That is what's kept it in. If it wasn't for that, Ellis Park, Turfway Park would not be open. Churchill and Keeneland could make it but they couldn't run all those days. They wouldn't run all those days. And Kentucky would've been a stepping-stone backwards, if it hadn't been for simulcast. I'll tell you the way it is. Cause we just couldn't compete with all the riverboats and everything without simulcasting cause it ain't that big a crowd that goes and bets. But it's been an asset, I tell you that, for horseracing in this state, and as long as you got good purses, you gonna get these good, top quality trainers, you gonna get top quality horses. And it's a big asset for staying in Kentucky cause we are 01:10:00one of the best and largest breeding thoroughbred horses in the United States--in the world. In the world, not just United States. And we don't want to lose that. We got that name, you know, for great horses, and great racetracks, and I want to continue to see it that way. I'm gonna do everything I can for it.

BOHL: So, I'm guessing you were also a supporter of the Sunday racing.

CRUPPER: Yes, I was. And that was a controversial issue right back, you know. I had people was mad at me, and said, 'Clay, that's the day the Lord has made,' and I know it is. I said, "Yeah, but we ain't gonna start 'til after church is over with," but that didn't answer the question, you know. (both laugh) But anyway, I said, a lot of people, you know, Sundays afternoon, they want something to do, that may be the only time they get to go to the races. And I said, "That's gonna be a big asset to help keep the race industry in Kentucky and keep it going." So, I did. I was for the Sunday racing, but I know a lot of 01:11:00the little church family didn't like it. I know they didn't like it.

BOHL: Okay. What would you say were your greatest accomplishments while you were in the legislature?

CRUPPER: Hm. Boy, it'd be hard to say. I've had so many, I don't know. Well, I think one of the biggest things was the education reform. I think taxing agricultural land in for the fair cash value, or rather, than the fair cash value was one of the big things. And that's probably two of the biggest things of my accomplishments was in the legislature. I really believe it was. Cause, I mean, without good education, our children getting education, that's what our future tomorrow is gonna be is your young people today. If we don't educate 01:12:00them, we gonna keep continue going backwards and backwards. We got to go forwards and forwards. And today, if you haven't got a good education, those jobs out there, you can't even get a job up here at the Dana without a high school education. Used to be you could get a job anywhere if you had an eighth grade education, for working manual labor, but you can't do that no more because we got all these big computers. If you don't know how to operate computers and robots and everything like that, you're living in the old days. I mean, it just ain't gonna happen with an eighth-grade education. So we gotta really focus on educating our people. We gotta produce, I mean, Dana up here. They gonna hire two hundred people. They've been taking applications, they can't get enough people qualified because they don't have enough education to run all these computers. We ain't gonna get enough people in this county to hire up here. That's sad. That's what we're running into. Just not enough education. So I'm big promoter 01:13:00of education. Do everything I can for education. To see that our kids get an education. Cause you gotta preach to them that's their future. They've got to get that anymore. It's just sad but they gotta do it. That's just like drinking and driving. You gotta realize you can't drink and drive. Time's just coming you can't do that. You drink and you get out here and hit somebody and kill them, you gonna spend the rest of your life in the pen. You don't want that. So you gotta educate yourself, 'I cannot drink and drive.' It's coming more and more to that all the time and we gotta continue to do it. So that's just like education. We got to promote education. That's the number one priority in my opinion in this state.

BOHL: Okay. Is there anything that you wanted to get through that didn't pass or that's something that you got through that didn't work the way you thought?

CRUPPER: Naw, not really, because anytime I had something I wanted get something through I'd put it on another bill and get part of it through 01:14:00or something. (laughs) There was always kinda ways to get around it. You may've not got all the pie the way you wanted it, but I'd get a little piece of it, enough to do what I wanted it to do. So I never was really disappointed in anything I did not get passed. I never was cause I always found a way to ease it in there and get a little bit of it. I wouldn't get it all but I'd get a little bit of it. So, there's ways of doing things.

BOHL: Okay, what did you think about the Toyota plant coming to Georgetown? Like you said, Scott County borders your counties, so.

CRUPPER: Oh, I was strong for it. It was an asset to this county. You know, we're thirty minutes to the Toyota plant. We got people all over this county--Owen County, Pendleton County, Harrison County working Toyota plant. I mean, I'm in the car business; I sell cars. I sell Toyota to people all kinda cars, and I sell General Motor products but they want Chevrolets, you know, or Buicks, or whatever. But, no, that 01:15:00was one of the best things that Martha Layne Collins ever done for this state. And I went to China with her, and she went on from China, and left us in China to come back, and we was promoting agricultural products with the Chinese people, and she went on to Japan, and that's when she got the Toyota plant deal signed. But I didn't go on to Japan with her. But I went to China with her. But that was, you think, how many millions of dollars that brings into our economy here a year and what it's done for this state. It's been great. They got Toyota down here on I-75, big Toyota place down here. So it's an asset to this. I'd like to see more of that kind of industry myself. No pollution, no nothing, you know, it's just good work force.

BOHL: Okay. How would you compare politics in Frankfort now to when you 01:16:00were in office?

CRUPPER: All together different. When we was in there seemed like everybody was a big family. We had little ole cubicles over there, about four by four's you set in. You had a telephone. You setting over there next to me, I can hear everything you was saying, all the way around me, every one of 'em. Now everyone's got a big office like he's some kind of governor sitting in there, you know. So with now, you go to your office, you don't mix and mingle. We 'as all back in there walking around. And, I mean, you had a little desk thing here and everybody'd walk right behind you, and then we had a big lounge in there where everybody'd come in there, and eat snacks, and sit on couches, and talk. And it seemed like the atmosphere was, everybody was one family. It didn't make any difference if you was a Democrat, Republican, Independent. I don't care if you belonged to the Salvation Army, everybody seem like they was good family. You know, one family. Now when I go over there, which I do once or twice every session, just to see what's going on, and meet some of the old timers. Well, it just 01:17:00seem like when it's over with everybody scoots. You don't see nobody. You go down to the hotel where we used to go to eat or something, five, six, eight, or ten people in there. Used to go to Flynn's, you couldn't get in but all that atmosphere's changed. It ain't no fun, like some of them told me, like Adrian Arnold told me, said, "Clay, it ain't no fun like it used to be." We used to have fun at nights, sitting around talking. We used to have fun sitting over there in the Capitol annex talking. Ain't no fun now. You go to your office. You're still looking at four rooms here, four walls, I mean, it's just, you on the telephone, you go home; it ain't no fun no more. And I hate to see that because everybody had a good time being together. So it's really changed. And it's just, time changes things, you know, and that's just the way it is.

BOHL: How prominent were lobbyists while you were in the legislature?


CRUPPER: You know a lot of people fussed about lobbyists, but I never did. Because lobbyists could enlighten you on a lot of things that you hadn't read in that bill that they could explain to you cause that was what they was hired for. They knew line for line what that particular bill said that they was lobbying for. Lot of times, they'd be a big asset to you especially when you come back home and you gotta vote one way or the other on this bill. Then, if you hadn't read that bill thoroughly, this lobbyist has told me line for line, I know exactly now what's in that bill cause I know he didn't lie to me cause you'd read it in there. Then you'd come back home to explain to your people, why you did it this way, or why you didn't do it. So I thought a lot of the lobbyists. I mean, they was good to me, and I tried to be a good relation with them. But a lot of times, I would ask them about a bill. You know, I'd see Jitter Allen or some of 'em, I'd say, "Jitter, what about this coal bill here?" or "What about, you know, this so-and-so's 01:19:00bill? What's in that that might harm my district or might harm our people?" " Well, here, Clay, let me tell you." He'd start telling me about it. They was big assets. They was big assets.

BOHL: Okay. Were there any that were particularly strong lobbyist at that time?

CRUPPER: You know, I never did have one to ever try to twist my arm in any way whatsoever. I never had one to ever pressure me. Sure, they'd like for you to vote for the bill, but they wouldn't really, what you call, put pressure on you, 'If you don't do this, we gonna do this or that.' Not one time did I ever have anybody put any pressure on me to vote for or against a bill. They was all good to me. And even if I had to vote against a bill, I'd explain to them why I did, and they was still my friends just the same cause they knew I had to protect my district or my people. And not one of them that I ever knowed of ever got mad at me over which way I voted, and I admire them for that. Cause they got a job to do just like I was elected to do a 01:20:00job, they was hired to try to lobby the railroad company to pass this piece of legislation for them or whatever. But they was a lot of help in explaining things. They could explain a lot of things in that bill that the average legislator did not have time to read in that bill. So they was a big asset.

BOHL: What do you think about the campaign finance and ethics reforms that happened after you left?

CRUPPER: Well, I think it's good. I think it's good cause that way they can, you know, it's just matter of fact you gotta toe the line and just do it right. That's all it amounts to. Nothing wrong with that.

BOHL: Okay. If you were just starting over, would you want to be in office now?

CRUPPER: No, I wouldn't run today. Not for the legislature, I would not. If I was gonna run for something, I would run for something like county judge here or something like that. I wouldn't--no, I wouldn't 01:21:00do that.

BOHL: How would you like to be remembered as a state representative?

CRUPPER: I'd just like to be remembered as a hard-working legislator. One that worked hard for his people, that loved his people, and tried to do what's right for his people, and just be one of the best legislators I could be. And I think that's what people remember me by. Cause I worked hard for them and they all know that. Not one time did somebody call my house--my wife always kept a notebook there. They'd call from Carroll County, "Miss Jones called, Clay. She needs this, she needs that. Here's your phone number." I made sure I got back with her that night cause my wife said, "He'll get back with you before midnight." I have gone past midnight but I always called them back that night, if I could get them. If they wasn't at home, I couldn't get them, but if they was home, I got 'em before midnight that night 01:22:00and I tried to help 'em any way I could. And sometimes you can help people and other times you cannot help people. So that's just, you know, that's just life. But at least I tried. I never did fail to call somebody back because my wife didn't write it down. Because she was taught by a good schoolteacher to write it down, because she is a schoolteacher, too, my wife is. (both laugh) So she wrote it down.

BOHL: Okay. What advice would you give to someone considering going into politics?

CRUPPER: Well, just work hard. And you gonna have both sides on you a lot. Just do what you thinks right. Let your conscience be your guide and that's probably the best advice I can give, and just work hard for your people. I think that's the best thing you can do.

BOHL: Do you want to say anything about the way that you left?


CRUPPER: Not really.

BOHL: All right.

CRUPPER: Not really.

BOHL: That's fine. Are there any other issues that I haven't talked about that you want to?

CRUPPER: No, not really.

BOHL: Okay.

CRUPPER: Not really. I think you covered everything pretty good. For an hour and twenty minutes we've done a whole lot of talking, ain't we? (both laugh) Huh? More than most of 'em, I imagine.

BOHL: (laughs) All right. We can be finished then.

CRUPPER: Well, that's great.

[Tape 1, side 2 ends.]

[End of interview.]