MUMMERT: The following is an oral history interview conducted as part of the
Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Association Oral History Pilot Project. The
person being interviewed is John Barron--uh--familiarly known as
Jack. Mr. Barron is a retiree of the Tennessee Valley
Authority (TVA). He worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority for 27 years
between May 1962 and May 1989. He is being interviewed by Philip Mummert as part
of the Pilot Hist--Oral History Project. The interview location is Mr. Barron's
residence in Knoxville, Tennessee. Today is Monday, July 24th, 2017--uh--the
interview is now beginning. Well thank you--
BARRON: There was a three-year lapse in the--um--when I was not at TVA.
MUMMERT: We'll--we'll get to that.
BARRON: It's not important but I just--.
MUMMERT: Okay. --Um--well let's begin--uh--. My first question, Jack
is--uh--what were the circumstances that led to your being hired at TVA?
BARRON: Oddly enough, it was the--the election of George Wallace for--as
Governor of Alabama--um--. George and I didn't see eye to eye on--. One of the
things that gets you with this is that you lose the mergeries--for
00:02:00and--and you draw a blank--um--. But we ought to be able to work on--work our
way through this is. If it's gonna be transcribed, you take all that stuff out
of it, so.
MUMMERT: Yeah, that's fine.
BARRON: --Um--so we'll--we'll start over with. --Um--and by the way, did--did
you get that turned on again, you got a light on it?MUMMERT: Yeah, it's--it's on.
BARRON: Okay cause, I'd hate to be trying to draw it up the third time.
MUMMERT: But, anyway, you--.
BARRON: George--George Wallace was--was actually received the nomination and, at
that point, it was obvious that it was time for me to go. Cause I was working in
the state park system, which was where he had promised to make a
00:03:00showdown. And, oddly enough I had been introduced to the TAD program--uh--which
was Tributary Area Development, the moniker that was used in and--both inside
and outside TVA to describe the program. I w--was visiting the local industry in
Louisburg--excuse me, Lynchburg, Tennessee, and was introduced to a
00:04:00gentleman by the name of Reagor Motlow. And Reagor Motlow was president of the
Jack Daniels corporation, whatever the name of--of the entity was. But, he just
was very, very excited about this new thing that TVA was coming out with. Which
was gonna enable the poor counties such his to--to--uh--have a better standard
of living and a higher--uh--higher--uh--group of services that would be
available. I--it sounded interesting, to me but I never gave it
00:05:00another thought until after the election and then I realized I was going to be
looking for a job. Because of integration, yes--um--.
MUMMERT: Why were you in--uh--Lynchburg talking to him?BARRON: I had never
seen--uh--a whisky plant before--. It was--
MUMMERT: So, you were just visiting?
BARRON: It was snowing and we couldn't plant trees. We were there to--to--um--we
ad--we administered the--the--um--public fishing lake program for the Alabama
Department of Conservation. And we were scheduled to plant trees and it snowed
and it wasn't very comfortable, to say the least. And so the forest
00:06:00ranger for Madison County, Alabama said: "Have you ever seen a whiskey
distillery? Well yes, I have, I've jumped up on them in the woods. But I've
never seen a--a plant as such. And to make a long story short, it turned out
that the--that the f--forester for Madison country was retained by Motlow to
look after some forest land he owned in Madison County, Alabama. So he gave him
a report of what was going on while he was there and we left with some
interesting ideas about what was happening in re--resource development and a
sample of some of their good product. So, it still didn't dawn on me
00:07:00that I might to come to work for TVA because I'd always been told that they
were--not gonna be expanding, that they were going to be actually we would be
staying status quo and working hard at maintaining status quo. Later, I found
out there had been quite a squabble in--uh--in Washington as to whether or not
it would exist even. And they were looking for ways to--they being TVA and the
board was looking for ways to increase the visibility of TVA and the valley and
nationally and this program grew out of it. It also was a time when
00:08:00TVA was beginning to lose most of the people--many of the people that had been
there originally. They had stayed long--long enough to reach retirement age or
be on--involved in other things. But John Massey, who was Personnel Director,
and the General Manager of the Board--um--very, very much involved in expanding
the--the concept from. And I--I left out the most important person in there. I
left out Miss Marguerite Owen, who was the Washington Representative, and was
really the interface between the board and--and the GM and the Valley delegation.
I called m--my contact in TVA--um--Harold Van Morgan, and said: "They have--I've
got a new governor coming in and we don't see eye-to-eye and I'm looking for a
job, do you know of anybody that's hiring?" He said "Hell, yes I'm looking for
people like you." And so, I was invited to come up for an interview. And before
it was over, I had met all of the key people that were involved in
00:10:00making the decision, and the decision was made and I left with a date to come
back and find housing. This--get a rest break in here and see if I can get--.
BARRON: TVA had--TVA's modus operandi was to work through all the governments
and to--. Well--e--earlier I alluded to the fact that they were trying to get
out of the recreation businesses a little, so everything appeared. --Uh--they
were doing that to keep the land from being sold off. As you may or
00:11:00may not know, TVA was req--was generous in their land acquisition program when
TVA for building the--the mains--stream dams. Because they were--they recognized
the recreation potential. --Um--the administration didn't recognize it or wasn't
too excited about it and wanted to sell it all off. And so they were giving it
away to public organizations like T--like--uh--the state parks and--um--
MUMMERT: This would have been during the Eisenhower administration? Okay.
BARRON: Yeah. Anyway, they--they were giving it away and they sold it
00:12:00at team costs to the public organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl
Scouts, and that sort of thing. Anything to divest themselves of--of the land
before Eisenhower sold it, or Eisenhower's administration sold it. --Uh--so not
only was that going on, but Land Between Land between the Lakes was
conceptualized in TVA on the floor that we worked on. And when the board decided
that was the way to go, they--um--had Miss Owen to go into the Valley delegation
promoting that concept. It was--we had been--very shortly after I
00:13:00came to work for TVA, they, they being the board announced the Land Between the
Lakes Program. Actually back up, Washington decided that there would be a Land
Between the Lakes. And that TVA would be the administrator. As far as I was
concerned, the most important thing was that we were going to have to have
myself and two others, which was the limits of the staff at that time to do all
the work necessary with Land Between the Lakes and maintenance of the--of the
properties that we had.-- So we.--
MUMMERT: And the-- and Land Between the Lakes--uh--was that area of
00:14:00100,000 or some acres between the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River in
the Kentucky and--and Tennessee?
MUMMERT: And the lakes were--one was a TVA lake in Kentucky lake, and the other
was the Barkley Lake, which was a Corps of Engineers lake just so we know where
we're--what we're talking about here.
BARRON: Well--it was also--um--it helped to once--once the idea was sold, it
helped to pull more political support into the project. But anyway, as far as
Jack Barron was concerned, it--it made me the opportunity to become the Chief of
the-- of the Recreation staff, which was something that--that was very--um--rewarding.
MUMMERT: Was that something relatively new at the time or had the recreation
staff been around for--
BARRON: The recreation staff was really just an--a part of the Land Management
program. --Um--I was very fortunate to--um--to have Van Morgan, as my mentor.
And--and really be broken into TVA, because Van was a historian and you didn't
just learn about why this property was acquired but the history of
00:16:00what went into it, if there was any interest. And old Van would probably make up
a little if it was to suit his purpose. But--um--we--we grew--we were
growing--um-. When--one day, I was called by the fifth floor of the new Sprankle
Building, which was the location of the central management. Said Mr. Van Mol,
wanted to see me. I had no idea why, but assumed it was not good. And Van Mol
was the General Manager, and when he wanted you, it was usually not very good. I
went up, it was on a Friday afternoon about 3 o'clock in the
00:17:00afternoon. And sit down, Jack. I sat down and he said: "You know--uh--." And
the--the head of--of--um--Tributary Area Development program is seriously ill
and is on sick leave and is not going to return. And we've got to have a new
manager of Tributary Area Development. And you've been so critical of the way it
was run and the way it was being handled that we're going to let you
00:18:00straighten it out." And--uh--I walked out and couldn't believe what was
happening because I was thirty-four--thirty-five years-old and was--my peers
were guys that had been around since they came to work for TVA twenty years ago
or thereabouts. And--it did give me the opportunity to shape the program--or to
try to shape the program into something more like it was--it was intended to be. --Um--the--.
MUMMERT: What was it intended to be?
BARRON: It was intended to be--uh--to bring--the way that the
00:19:00Chairman of the Board used to describe is to bring into the peripheral counties,
those were not on the main stream--on the navigation stream, to bring those
counties up to par in terms of economic and social development. And working
through other organizations and at TVA independently as well. Privately, I think
that Red was much--was much more interested in seeing it happen through TVA as
opposed to through other entities because they'd been working at it for years
and--and reached their goal. And as far as Red was concerned, this
00:20:00was--was the way it was going to be functioning.
MUMMERT: So this was an idea that--that had been around for a long time in TVA
to work on--on those tributary areas, but it just hadn't come to fruition?
BARRON: It probably had its origin when--when Red Wagner who was--is Chairman at
the Board, at this point in time when--when it was established was Chief of the
Navigation Branch when he worked for TVA. And he was the one that
conceptualized--um--where land, water, and railroads meet is a natural site for
industrial development and he was--was focused on that--um--. He had
00:21:00a staff of people, who later as he moved on up into--into--uh--management, he
had--um--a chance to cause things to happen that would make--make his
position--would strengthen his position but there were a lot of times when
things did not m--materialize in the--in the fashion that he expected them to.
But as far as--as far as I'm concerned--um--what I had to do was to instill
into--um-- into the staff--the Tributary Area Develo--Tributary Area
00:22:00Development staff what we were trying to do and how we were going to do it. And
this meant causing some people to make a 180 degree turn. They didn't--didn't
buy the idea, but wouldn't go for somewhere else. Sayed with the organization I
guess thinking they would change. But I found out very quickly we had two types
of people; the ones who wouldn't quit until it was done, and those who and--and
they were really focusing on bringing economic prosperity to the counties that
they were assigned to as opposed to making a paper inventory of what the
resources were, which was simply a gathering of--um--all the printed
00:23:00material that was available for that particular county or and pulling out
pertinent information and publishing another, book which is not gonna feed many
MUMMERT: So how--you became the head of Tributary Area Development. How did you
analyze the conditions in those areas to determine what needed to be done?
BARRON: Well, it has been analyzed to death. --Um--what--what TVA was
00:24:00hoping to do was to get things that needed to be done underway with TVA
participation, both with staff and with monies. --Um--things that maybe were
falling just sort of being sellable, but with--um--$2 or $3,000 dollar boost
would get them through a couple of years and--and--uh--get--get them off their
feet. --Uh--I spoke of Marvis Cunningham as an example earlier. Marvis was
the--the granddaddy of full stream on the Hiwassee and the _____. And
00:25:00he stayed with it and he kept saying: "If I can't get a few more locals
involved, I'm going to need some money to get them to--have you get them to feel
like your--you, TVA are absorbing some of the risk." I had money, had--Lord
knows, plenty of money, because I was taking it away from people who--who
wouldn't play ball with us and try to do what we were trying to accomplish. I
was--other than the--the dams and the and the--um--steam plants--um--and a
couple of other things, I was essentially doing the same thing that I
00:26:00did later on when I was Assistant Manager and--and had--um--had all of
the--um--activities under my fiscal control. --Um--let's cut it a minute.
MUMMERT: Well the--the Tributary Area Development program would deal with a lot
of, not a lot, but the different tributary areas in the Tennessee Valley and
they--uh--all probably had their challenges and--uh--con--diff--difficult
conditions to deal with. --Uh--could you talk a little bit about what
00:27:00some of the activities were, some of the program efforts that--uh--you were
behind to--uh--help those--uh--tributary areas and--and counties--um--out with
BARRON: Well, you have to look first and for a second at the org--organizational
structure of the program. For--for some reason or other the board or principal
staff decided that they would work on the tributary basis and not on the--on
the--um--political subdivision basis. So that you have--you'd walk into Blount
County and be talking to them about something that would--um--would be
partially in the county and partially outside the county. And so
00:28:00we--we had to turn TAD staff and the people in the other organizations that
were--other TVA organizations that were responsible for TAD in their
organization--um--we had to get their thinking around to--to--um--forget about
where the water runs and forget that sort of thing and think about where the
money is and where the political control is. Because, it w--wouldn't necessarily
behoove the mayor or the county judge in such and such a county
to--um-- put up money for a project that didn't contribute to the
00:29:00whole or at least to the majority of the whole. --Um--so back to your point,
when you walked into--Sequatchie County, poor county right on the--on the
riverbanks, on the mainstream, but was l--left out of what was going on
primarily I think because the major employer in that--in Sequatchie was--was
companies in Chattanooga. And you add the--the commuter from one
00:30:00county, two counties away going in and taking work in Chattanooga and
recognizing the technology focus that was developing and was gonna continue to
develop would been--be even a secret of what in some places is a success and--or
not. --Um--they had to have training in the schools for the rising workforce to
be of any value and to be sellable in Chattanooga.
Excuse me, I--that was--part of that was based on the inventory of
00:31:00resources in a development of dir--the development of a direction of effort. But
here's what, as our number one--uh--objective to have the school's ability to
teach students who would be marketable in Chattanooga. Looking into it a little
deeper, I found that there really wasn't enough per capita, well not per capita
but there-- there was not a sufficient number of students in the
00:32:00entire system of these three counties to afford to teach anything but the
basics, reading, writing, arithmetic and so on. So, we kept looking for ways to
bring more money in. One of the ways that we did was, I stumbled onto a--a
gentlemen in--a some meeting that was d--dealing with the economic development.
It turned out to be the economic development head for the--um--Rockefeller
Foundation. What a pity.
MUMMERT: You stumbled across him in the Tennessee Valley or?
BARRON: It was in--it was in a meeting probably in Atlanta, it could have been
here. He was there for the same purpose I was, he was learning--he was but he
had--he had a back pocket that was--was full and overflowing and was looking for
ways to put money into the hands of people that could--could do things. He
committed to support for the Hiwassee--for the Sequatchie program--uh--early on.
Conditioned on enough other outside money as well and agreed to be a spokesman
on our behalf of the Ford Foundation. --Uh--so that's one way we--we got things
going, we waited long enough, we had it all put together. And to give
00:34:00you some dimension of time, I had retired by the time they had the program ready
to fly and it never did fly because the three cou--three county entities
couldn't agree on a name for the football team. Now, when you write a textbook
about community development, there needs to be a chapter devoted to
athletic--um--what's a good word? The--the ath--the about how
00:35:00athletics in--influences decision making in some places. --Um--had another
project like that in South-- in Southwest Virginia. And their inventory was very
firm in picking up the fact that there was a shortage of industrial sites in
Southwest Virginia. If you've ever been up there, you know why, they--um--they
don't have any flat land at all except where they've flattened out in a strip
mine. --Um--but that's okay, the football field is on strip mining land, the
county courthouse is on the strip mining land. --Uh--if you use it as
00:36:00a tool, which we had suggested they do early on--um--it's okay. But any rate,
here the only feasible site for putting in an industrial plant or something
similar was in the valley of one of the creeks, one of the major creeks, I
forget the name of it. But, there was no way to protect it with a dam or a
couple of dams. --Uh--the way that it was gonna fly would be to get the houses
and the highway that was there relocated out of the floodplain. --Uh--as a
consequence we--we sold that concept to them, and-- and it was sold in
00:37:00turn in--in--uh--in Washington and we got the money to help re--relocate
families and relocate and highways and so forth. It was done the local
entity--uh--which I didn't point earlier. Some--some of these tributary areas
were able to have paid staff to--uh--work with us on a regular basis, a
day-to-day--by-day basis. And also to know how to handle the local politics--um--.
MUMMERT: What was that area or town? Duffield, okay.
BARRON: Duffield. Duffield exists today, and I took my wife up there to see the
place, and--it was a thriving little community by the time we got
00:38:00around to getting up there and looking at it. --Um--.
MUMMERT: But you actually moved--uh--people like out of the floodplain or
BARRON: We--we bought the house and demolished it or moved the houses to
a--above the 100-year flood and--um--put in the infrastructure for the--an
industrial park. And--um--
MUMMERT: And moving the people, did TVA provide all the relocation assistance?
BARRON: No, the locals did that. --It was basically a local project with TVA
support. When it was--when the issue was local, it was a TVA project,
00:39:00when we went to Washington to get monies for our share of it. But--um--.
MUMMERT: How about any other, some other examples of some other tributaries or
some other types of--uh--work that was done?
BARRON: We--we--we dabbled in anything that we thought would--would make a
better place to live. You know, we also would--.
MUMMERT: Well, I know you did because before this I--interview I--I've heard all
sorts of stories about things that were done under Tributary Area Development.
BARRON: We--we--um--we made--we made work fun. --Um--the--um--the program
that--that was most interesting was the outgrowth of one of our
00:40:00staffers being approached by a local government and saying--um--we are trying to
make this--we're trying to capitalize on the beauty of this county, and
we--littered with abandoned cars, trucks, tractors, whatever. And we need to
collect them at a central point and sell them. --Um--our engineers designed a
modification to a ton and a half truck, which would enable a driver to--um--go
and pick up--um--a--an abandoned vehicle single handedly. And one man could
drive it, c--connect it to the--to the conveyance and--and drop it
00:41:00off at a central point. Another one--another one of our people designed a--um--a
flowchart so--so to speak, for a lack of a better term. A--um--collection chart
that would m--minimize the mileage involved and would bring in enough cars into
a central point where a junk dealer could afford to come in and pick it up.
That program jumped into national significance. --Um--it was very successful and
ended up with--uh--an award from Keep America Beautiful for that
00:42:00program, which I was lucky enough to go out and communicate with the governor's
staff of California, who was therefore, stretched in terms of its significance.
And it was the cheapest thing in the world two days probably, or three days of
two guys and they had put together a couple of concepts which was enabling us
to--to get some--some--uh--response and--and have--have an impact
on--on--um--the property that on the--the state.
MUMMERT: Now what--what county was it that first--uh--began that or
00:43:00came to you and said they needed to beautify themselves, do you remember?
BARRON: --Um--I'm almost sure it was--another county and I can't and--and it
won't come out. --Uh--Meigs--Meigs County. --Um--of course there now, it's fat
city with payments from--uh--the--uh--nuclear plants. They don't need to worry
about having enough money to get something going, but they were poor as they
MUMMERT: I've he--also heard through the grapevine that--uh--that trailer that
was designed had been--or has been patented and it is now a
00:44:00widely-used trailer nationwide. Are you aware of that?
BARRON: No, I'm not aware of that, but I'm delighted to hear it.
MUMMERT: I think that's correct.
BARRON: Well, that's--that's good to know. That make my day. We--um--we tried a
couple of things that didn't work, a handful of them that didn't work and didn't
work before. Because I encouraged everybody to come forward with what they
thought was a need or not necessarily with any idea in mind of how to--that need
would be met. --Um--here's--the here's the need, you--you find a way to get
it--get it done.
--Um--we hired a--first of all we-- we kept coming up with the
00:45:00question, well what--what do you have for these high school kids? They--they
need to get the work concept, they need to be a participant in what's going on.
And--um--so we hired a young lady right out of UT. She was a--matter a fact she
was a part time Master's p--rogram candidate, who worked initially for us. And
she was dedicated to programs for, I forget now the--the name but anyway it
was--it was a concentrated effort on her part in three different counties:
one very poor, one very comfortably rich and one in between. And she
00:46:00couldn't find anything much that would be successful. The--were trying to find a
way to put pocket money in their--in their hands instead of relying on mama and
papa to come up with the cost of whatever it was they were after.
--Uh--we--c--we couldn't get it off the ground, but she came up with a project
that flew, and that was registering to vote. The kids were not interested in the
fact that they were coming of age to be able to vote and what that
00:47:00meant and what it didn't mean and--um--I made the mistake of commenting on that
to, gee that was a boring one, and it was quickly decided that that was too
political. It really--TVA didn't have any business in that, which we
didn't--uh--but--um--I did get some activity going on, and stirring it.
The best one of all was when they closed that dam, you mentioned two rivers and
they closed the dam at--um--Nashville on the Cumberland, they eliminated the
need for a ferry boat that the county had been running for--on behalf of the
state for years. And we had been working with the poor counties up
00:48:00in--in Upper East Tennessee, Grainger, and primarily it was all of the--all
three--uh--and for the life of me, I can't recite the three of them but--.
MUMMERT: Well, prob--Hancock, and Hawkins, probably.
BARRON: Yeah, thank you. --Um--the--the concept was finally developed that the
kids were the--the impoundment of Norris had blocked off the major communication
route into the central--into the county seat. And kids were having to ride an
hour, and an hour and a half on a bus, front end and back end,
00:49:00anywhere from two to three hours of their life riding the bus everyday. And
people who lived in the separate areas had to go over into the other county to
get back to the county seat for whatever purposes.
MUMMERT: They're still doing it in South Blount County, where I live. Sorry for
interrupting but. Because of the configuration of the national park and some of
those hills and valleys.
BARRON: Yeah well, what happened here was, out of the clear blue sky, on a
Monday morning, one of the staff walks in the door and says: "I got the
f--the--uh--float project fixed up here are the papers for the float
the--the--um--the boat. --Um-- I was in--I was in Nashville over the
00:50:00weekend and they had a sale of surplus property. And I bought it up--I got
$50,000 dollars in it and I need to get paid, I need to sell it to TVA real
quick." And the bank is gonna hold the check for him until they get something
straightened out. But we--we got in the ferry building business. --Um--but here
again, we're invited to go find some less risky ground, we wouldn't have to
worry with the Coast Guard and all of the legislation that involves running a
ferry. But the fact that--that our guy saw a chance to solve a problem
was--um--worth a million to me because he was willing to put up his
00:51:00own money, temporarily. He's the guy who came up with the Sequatchie school
concept as well. It's funny, you would expect certain people in the group to--to
come up with more and more of the ideas on how to solve their problem or
somebody else's problem. --Uh--
MUMMERT: You were the head of Tributary Area Development for how many years?
BARRON: I was looking for that information last night and couldn't--couldn't
come up with it. But it was about f--four years.
MUMMERT: And that was in the 1970s?
BARRON: In the 70s, yeah. --Um--I was trying to think if Pete Claussen--uh--H.
Peter Claussen was the guy who succeeded me, and he's the guy who did the barn
raising, with this, couple of things worthwhile mentioning. The people outside
of the Tributary Area Development staff in TVA were interested in what was going
on, were envious of what was going on. And--um--we had--um--a group that was
willing to work on their own time to do things that were needed to be
00:53:00done. --Um--Claussen wanted to test the concept, so he--uh--provided the--the
funds and the--the direction to--uh--get the volunteers from TVA to come on a
Saturday and have a good old-fashioned barn raising. And--um--it did two things,
it created a barn for a couple who needed it badly, and it was a--a beautiful
example of how people can make things happen when they're not even directly
connected. --Um--the barn raising was--um--was a--um--nationally
00:54:00recognized effort, I think. It certainly got a lot of--lot of play in the
region. --Um--and another group, again similar situation, except we didn't need
a ferry, but we needed a--a bridge. --Uh--this was in southwest Virginia and the
staffer who was overlooking the project--uh--before it was--before it came to
pass, from the--working for the concept--uh--was that he was an
00:55:00engineer he--he was--had been city manager of--of a Kentucky, thriving
little--little town, but he--he just didn't have enough room to--to dabble in
this, that and the other. And he dabbled in--in--um--the idea of a gravity-based
well, I--design a piers for a--a--uh--bridge which would be based on--on piers
that were easily poured and you could do it with the county's
00:56:00equipment, their bulldozer, and their--uh--other equipment that was used
for--um--building, maintaining roads and other stuff like that. But anyway,
to--to the point, he got his buddies in engineering to work on their spare time.
Well actually, not on their spare time, but it was lunch hour--um--to design a
pier that would hold this bridge and it wouldn't cost a lot of money and could
be put in with equipment readily available. That came after my time, it started
while I was there, I don't--but I wasn't there when it was finished so I don't
know all the details on it. They did complete the bridge, they did
00:57:00demonstrate that it would do what they--they had hoped it would do. But the key
question is is it still there and is it still being used. I don't know.
MUMMERT: And--and where was this, or--or what county? But it was used primarily
to help the kids get to school faster so they didn't have to go all the way around?
BARRON: It was in--it was in--Lee County, I think, Virginia.
MUMMERT: But it was used primarily to get to--to help--uh--kids get to school
faster or anyone--? Anybody. So they didn't have to go way out around?
BARRON: --Anybody--anybody that was going, didn't have to go around, they would
go straight across on the new bridge. It washed out at one time, I know, because
they had to change the design on it. But--um-- it--it--it got a
00:58:00bridge. It is now br--a--an engineered bridge.--Um--one day I went
to--uh--Norris one day to visit with the Forestry Group to see what they were
doing. And--uh--it happened to be lunch hour, and here were five or six women
who are sitting there playing with pots and pans and little seedlings--uh--on
their lunch hours. And they were actually moving--uh--they were--were tissue
culturing plants that were valuable for the market that were in
00:59:00demand but lacked in availability. And they--they were building these--they were
making these little seedlings to--uh--get out into--uh--the nursery business so
that people could--could--uh--avail themselves of them and it wouldn't be
otherwise. And the point being, that they were doing it for nothing,
but--uh--the idea was to--to have--have it--an entrepreneurial project.
--Um--there were a lot of things we learned that were positive, there were a lot
of things that we--uh--didn't learn that we should of--.
MUMMERT: Well you--so you m--entioned--uh--inds--some industrial development,
improving people's access in--in difficult places, the--uh--junk car
removal--uh--the barn raising. Were there any other sorts of things that you
might remember that were a little bit different?
BARRON: I must not.
MUMMERT: --Uh--Jack you began by talking about your meeting with the head
of--uh--Jack Daniel's and mentioned that he had an interest in the Tributary
Area Development program? And I just--just was wondering whether his area
ever--uh--benefited from the--the Tributary Area Development program or whether
he was--became involved in any way.
BARRON: Well, Lem Motlow was very prominent in the state government and had
influence on--well put it another way, he--he supported-- uh--things
01:02:00that were--uh--directly involved or indirectly involved in--um--in resource
development, if you--if you change the term--the--the question to, was he
involved in anything that had to do with what TAD was supporting. Yes--um--but
it would have been probably in--indirect as opposed to direct just pick up the
phone and call the head of the Highway Department and say: "Hey, you guys flan
flanged one of our people--one of our supporters into buying a danged
01:03:00ferry boat and now, I want you to." I'm playing with you but, I was sitting here
thinking yesterday about what this might entail and w--what--what was the
outcome looking off from a vantage point of this much time passed. Cause there
is no Tributary Area Development program in TVA. I can't even remember when
it--when it disappeared. And I think--.
MUMMERT: I can probably tell you more about that after the interview. Because,
see I came at TVA in 1980, right when--uh--changes were occurring and
01:04:00I worked at lot with people that had been in the TAD program and were very
frustrated or--uh--you know, in new positions and--uh--things continued on for a
while, but--uh--we're recording this, I'll tell you later, and we're gonna cut
this part out of the transcript. But go ahead--uh--.
BARRON: Yeah because, I'll add to what you've got.
BARRON: Not here.
MUMMERT: Yeah but, anyway. The--the--th--he--uh--we won't talk much more about
the--uh--TAD program--uh--. And I---what I'd like to do is--is jump ahead then
to your next--uh--career at TVA which was when you were Assistant to
01:05:00the General Manager in--uh--Planning, and Budgeting and Systems. What did--what
did that--uh--entail? Why did you make the jump from TAD to that position? Did
you get promoted, was TAD fading away or were there personnel changes?BARRON:
Doing the things the General Manager didn't want to do. --Um--I was--was responsible--.
MUMMERT: Excuse me, but before that, why did you make the jump from
the--uh--Tributary Area Development to that position? Did you get promoted, or
was TAD fading away--uh--were there personnel changes?
BARRON: No, no. --Uh--I think they were still trying to find the definition of
the Tributary Area Development in TVA. --Um--Claussen succeeded me
01:06:00and they did some--some good things. I tried to stay away as much as I could
from getting too involved just to give Peter the room to do his thing.
And--um--so I can't give you any any examples, but I can tell you the--from
the--from the other aspect--from the General Manager's job looking
down--um--there were not, well I think we started talking up front about--I
started talking up front about--um--being--working through government--lo--local
government. --Um--and by the time I left, I think we had pretty much
01:07:00made that change but they still had to pick up and re--reconceptualize Tributary
Area Development on county--on a political subdivision basis. --Um--.
MUMMERT: Well, and that--and that was a period too I suspect looking back
when--uh--the--uh--local governments were beginning to find or get resources
from other places because of LBJ and--and also there were regional development
districts being formed, there was a whole new and different--uh--institutional
structure in the outside world. Which I guess TVA had to be aware of.
BARRON: T--TVA was not didn't--did not give it any--didn't--didn't
01:08:00give it any attention, really, early on. And I think the example I used, or
the--or the first time it was mentioned and were changing was when I would say
Van Mol called me in and said: "You don't like the way it's being run, you--you
fix it." They didn't know how they were--what it was gonna do. The--number one
stay out of trouble. Number two--um--keep something on the burner all the time.
And number three--um--bring in significant--uh--bring in entities that--well
entities that's not a good terms--bring--get things done on a--on
01:09:00a--let them graduate to a higher level--uh--. I'm not very articulate at the
moment but anyway that--that's probably understandable. --Um--when I came in,
was early on, I think Tributary Area Development was less than two years-old.
--Um--agriculture in two or three other national--federal government agencies
were involved in the same kind of thing, so we spent a lot of time
01:10:00yeah yeah and back and forth with who was responsible for what and so forth.
--Um--when--when I moved to the General Manager's office, we were still being
funded pretty much on the basis of what we asked for. --Uh--.
MUMMERT: This was f--from Congress--from Congressional appropriations?
BARRON: Yeah, and I was--was in fat city--uh--as they say for a while there
because we were--it was expected that--that action would--would follow financing
and from the time you got the appropriation til the time you got the
01:11:00project running full boil, would--would be a couple of years sometimes because
at the same time you had, trying to get the ear of the county judge so and over
here was the--the--uh--the county agent who'd been there all the time and went
to church with him and so forth. --Uh--so it was a--it was a rough, rough road
to hold but I think that it served a purpose which was as much as anything else
to keep TVA's in front of the--the people in the Valley--uh--enough to get the
support that would--um--would be needed to continue. And--and I'm
01:12:00anxious to see how--how it will spend its last days.
MUMMERT: Well you were--so you became--you were Assistant to the General
Manager--and when did that--when did you began that position, about?
BARRON: About f--four years into the time I was at TVA. It was a pretty
q--pretty quick thing.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Got '74, '75, honey? When did you come to TVA cause you did
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And you did recreation for a couple of years or more and
then you went to TAD and did about four years. So it probably was '72, '73.
BARRON: Probably, I'm-- I'm all.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You were Assistant General Manager when I met you and I came
to TVA in '75 and I had to hang your pictures in your office. Cause I was
interior designer in the towers and that was in '77, '76-'77 move in.
BARRON: That was your--your fault that thing on. I'm not gonna say what I was
gonna say, I'll--I'll say it when I know that the machine is not recording.
MUMMERT: But anyway, in your position as Assistant General Manager, what other
than doing things the General Manager didn't want to do, basically what was the
gist of that--.
BARRON: I was the legs un-between the Congress and--and--uh--particularly
the--uh--the--the org--organizations that--uh--were--um-- not
01:14:00organizations but governmental entities that were affected by us, by TVA.
--Um--I was also liaison with OMB (Office of Management and Budget)--um--along
with the Washington rep who was--um--along with rep--rep--Washington
Representative who was--living there full time and was responsible for the
day-to-day relationships between TVA and the Congress and OMB. --Um--it
was--um--a situation where we worked very closely together and I think
contributed to each other you know in a way that was--was valuable
to--to--uh-- me and to--uh--the Washington rep at the time.
MUMMERT: And who was that?
BARRON: It was Larry Calvert--um--most of the time. I also worked with other
organizations we--we--we maintained--uh--a--a good relationship with the
representative of the--uh--Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation as
after I left and after Pete was-- became the entrepreneur. --Um--one
01:16:00of the most interesting aspects of--of that time with--in Washington was when I
was still no--I was--I was in the GM's office but there was a chunk of money,
a--a good-sized amount of money appropriated to expedite the--um--ex--expedite
the--I'm gonna have to stop on this one.
BARRON: Agencies were advised by OMB that there was money available for research
and energy conservation or energy utilization. Now I used that in lieu of what I
can't come up with at the moment. But it was anything that had to do with--with
energy use or the--the--um--con--conservation of en--energy which is the same
thing. Anyway--um--I was the meeting yore in Washington. I would literally would
unless it was something that the lawyers were involved or something of that
sort-- um--but this was--was my alley because it was simply making the
01:18:00case for appropriation. --Um--we had an in--an--initial meeting of
representatives of the various federal agencies involved, I think there was
seven or eight of them. --Um--the second meeting was one cut down staff--um--but
pretty high in the organization that they represent. --Um--I was kind of over in
the corner then, I didn't see much, I was listening and you find out much more
with your ears than you do with your tongue. --Um--the--after the
01:19:00second meeting, there was a--kind of an informal around the group what they were
doing currently in energy conservation. And when they got to me
everybody--everybody that had reported had reported that we're contemplating or
we're working toward or we're--we're--we're thinking about or whatever. And I
said: "We are raising catfish in the raceway--um--from the cooling towers at our
nuclear plant. Oh, come on. Tell you what, we got us a meeting next
01:20:00week scheduled, you come to lunch and TVA's hosting a luncheon for you and your
principal, the person you report to. --Uh--and we're gonna have catfish from the
raceway." And I took the catfish to the chef at--I can't think of the name of
the hotel. Down there it's the one right--at--anyway it's the place, it was the
one in Washington.
MUMMERT: At the Willard? At that time?
BARRON: I think it was. Anyway, they didn't believe me and I--I shipped some
catfish up to the chef and told him do what you want with them, and tell me what
you think is best, the way to prepare them and so forth. And--um--so he came in
and spoke to the group when it was into and they were really into their fillets
and catfish and--um--said: "That is one of the best fish I ever had." Said:
"I've never--never dealt with catfish, but this delicious, beautiful to work
with and nice thing about it you can slice it any way you want and it
compliments it." And--um-- I can't show you where I--I can't tell you
01:22:00that it comes from a--from a water out of a steam plant but if that's what it
takes, then it's--it's worthwhile. But anyway, we had a--we had a lunch on a
catfish that was the only thing going on in the government in the way of
research at the time. They--they were--they were--would talk about. So, but it
was a--the whole thing was an interesting experience.
MUMMERT: And you became--uh--wh--this when you were still the assistant to the
GM or? Okay, then you became Washington Representative yourself or?
BARRON: No, I was Washington Representative when I--when I retired.
MUMMERT: When you retired? How long was that stint?
BARRON: Well, you deal with in terms of--term of office--.
MUMMERT: Well, years or--?
BARRON: No, who--was was in office at--at the time--um--when this is off, I'll
MUMMERT: Who was the--who was in the office--who was the--you mean in Washington.
BARRON: No in the--in the board.
MUMMERT: Oh, okay. How--but you were there for how many years?
BARRON: I spent three years at Oak Ridge, working for DOE, came back and spent
the rest of my time here--um-- measured how long it was in terms
01:24:00of--of when one of the board members went to his reward, whatever that might be.
--Um--so there was a three year absence in there where I was--was commuting to
Oak Ridge everyday and could have done any number of things if I had wanted to
use the influence of some of the people I had worked with.
MUMMERT: --Uh--I think I'm going to wrap the interview up, but I have one more
question for you, and this may be the most difficult one. Are there
01:25:00any--uh--questions that I didn't ask you that you wish I had?
BARRON: No, I don't think so. If we're gonna play wish, I wish that I had had
this interview three years ago or four or five years ago b--before I was
afflicted the Parkin--the-I can't even tell you the name of the thing.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Parkinson's.
BARRON: Parkinson's Disease.
MUMMERT: Well, we can--uh--take a look at the transcript and you'll have a
chance to add some things if you'd like and you can take--.
BARRON: Sometimes I think better than I talk.
MUMMERT: Well, we all do that.
BARRON: S--sometimes it's the reverse.
MUMMERT: Anyway Jack, I'd like to thanks for your--thank you for your
01:26:00time. And--uh--this has been most interesting to--uh--hear about your career at TVA.
BARRON: Well, thank you, it was a pleasure to--it was a pleasure.