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2007-10-19 Interview with John S. Palmore, October 19, 2007 CC001:2008OH094 CC 45 01:28:22 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Hazard Community and Technical College John S. Palmore; interviewee John Klee; interviewer 2008OH094_CC45_Palmore 1:|8(8)|28(5)|46(12)|58(13)|70(2)|83(7)|96(2)|108(2)|117(9)|133(4)|145(8)|157(5)|170(5)|180(11)|196(12)|208(5)|218(7)|227(7)|239(5)|254(9)|262(10)|280(3)|298(5)|316(3)|325(3)|338(2)|364(2)|379(1)|399(4)|408(1)|432(11)|454(7)|470(5)|484(9)|502(3)|521(1)|535(6)|560(6)|568(3)|579(10)|588(9)|600(13)|619(4)|631(14)|642(10)|656(5)|688(1)|709(16)|728(2)|744(5)|760(1)|769(7)|789(4)|801(3)|813(12)|826(9)|847(6)|856(13)|877(3)|894(12)|916(9)|925(4)|940(5)|959(10)|978(8)|986(14)|994(13)|1012(4)|1025(5)|1039(9)|1057(8)|1068(2)|1081(1)|1092(10)|1107(15)|1120(7)|1127(12)|1141(7)|1169(5)|1186(2)|1215(11)|1232(3)|1254(11)|1280(2)|1302(1)|1330(8)|1340(3)|1351(5) audiotrans CommuColl interview KLEE: The following is an unrehearsed interview for the University of Kentucky Community College System project. The interview is being conducted by John Klee on October 19, 2007, and I'm at the home of John S. Palmore, here outside of Frankfort. Judge Palmore, I know that you've written an autobiography, which is a wonderful little volume. It's called From the Panama Canal to Elkhorn Creek, and whoever is listening to this tape can go to it and get details of your life, but I'm going to repeat just a few things so that we can establish -- tell me about your early life in Henderson, your parents, where you lived. PALMORE: Well, I grew up in Bowling Green. KLEE: Okay. PALMORE: And I was born in Panama, but my family lived in Bowling Green during my high school days. I graduated from high school, Bowling Green High, in 1934. I went to law school -- I went to Western for two years, and then I went to law school at the University of Louisville. And while I was a senior in law school, the dean had an inquiry from a law firm in Henderson. They had a lot of oil practice down there in those days, a lot of oil wells being drilled, and they needed the title work done. And they needed a young lawyer in this office down there to come down and do title work. So I got a job starting with this law firm in Henderson. KLEE: And that was sometime in the '50s? PALMORE: That was in 1939. KLEE: Oh, '39. I see. Okay. PALMORE: '39. I went down there on the 6th or 7th of June, 1939, the day after I graduated from law school. KLEE: And how did you find -- what was Henderson like at that time? PALMORE: Well, it was quite different from the way it is today, as most every place is, really. It was an old town. It's one of -- it's really, really a very old town. It was established, you know, in the latter part of the 18th century by the Richard Henderson Company, and it was laid out by a surveyor named Thomas Allen. And it probably -- it was laid out with the widest streets of any town anywhere around. KLEE: I've been there. It's wonderful. PALMORE: One street, Water Street, I think was 200 feet wide, and the other streets, I think, were 100 feet wide. KLEE: Gee. PALMORE: Later on, they reduced Water Street down to 125 feet (laughs), but even today, the main streets through town are wide. And there were a few old mansions there. Tobacco was -- dark tobacco was a big money crop in Henderson County. And so some of the old families in Henderson came from people who were sent over from Ireland and England by the tobacco companies. And some of the old mansions in town -- I think, for example, of the David Clark mansion, which is now down and gone, and others. And then there was a lot of -- as I say, dark tobacco was a big money crop. And they always had big corn crops in Henderson, because they had a lot of bottomland along the Ohio River. And so -- KLEE: How did they agree to a young lawyer right out of college? I mean, were the people pretty friendly? PALMORE: Yes. I remember Mr. King was one of the partners in the firm that I started with. Seeing that Henderson really was -- agriculture was its number one business. Of course, Mr. King himself had come up on a farm in Henderson County, and the law firm represented a lot of farmers. On Saturdays in those days, most everybody came to town, you know, and they crowded the park. We had a lovely park in downtown Henderson, Transylvania Park, which they call Central Park, but actually its name is Transylvania Park. And it's very lovely today. I was there last -- a couple weeks ago. And it was sort of run down in 1939. And the old courthouse that stood on the hill there had been stuccoed over. We had a county judge, Judge Hughs Farmer, had been county judge along about 1912, as I remember. Not that I was there in 1912, but -- KLEE: Right. He'd had been around a long time. PALMORE: But Judge had been county judge, and while he was county judge, they stuccoed the courthouse to preserve the old bricks. They also stuccoed old St. Paul's Church, the Episcopal Church there. And Judge Farmer was also -- and I knew him well in later years, in fact, lived across the street from him in later years, in the '50s. And anyway, the courthouse was old, as was St. Paul's Church. And St. Paul's Church, of course, is still there at Center and Green Streets, still stuccoed. (Klee laughs). But -- KLEE: So you spent a lot of time in that courthouse? PALMORE: Oh, my goodness, most of my time. I examined titles until I was almost blind running titles. But I learned a lot about the county that way, you know. I learned about where the people where from and so on. So I never had lived in the country. I'd lived in Bowling Green and before that in Horse Cave, and I never had really lived on a -- as close to the country as -- Henderson at that time was about 15,000. Now it must be three times that big. But it was much more of a country town in those days than it is now. KLEE: You mentioned that you were partly brought in because of the natural gas, oil business being done there. I interviewed some people in Eastern Kentucky. Was -- did that make for a rowdy element in the community a little bit? Or I mean, did they have to bring workers in? PALMORE: Not the oil business. Of course, at that time there was a lot of gambling in Henderson. It was just open gambling. It was against the law, but it was a way of life down there. I'll tell you a funny incident that happened one time. The big gambling place, the big night club, was called the Trocadero (laughs). It's gone now, but it was right across the highway from Dade Park, which is now Ellis Park, the horse track. Part of Henderson County is north of the Ohio River, and the reason for that is -- most people know -- all historians know this -- that that used to be an island over there. And it was a very small part of the Ohio River that ran around to the north side of it. And I guess you could get a canoe across it -- through there in those days. Of course, now it's all filled in. But one time I was over at the Trocadero watching the crap game upstairs, (laughs) and there was a young oil man shooting craps. And I'll think of his name in a minute, but he later became the owner of a Derby winner. KLEE: (laughs) Oh, is that right? PALMORE: And he had a place down in Ocala -- near Ocala, Florida. And -- oh goodness, you know, I'm 90 years old now, and my memory comes and goes about things. KLEE: Oh, you're doing wonderful. PALMORE: But he had a big farm, and the north/south highway went right past it. But anyway -- and of course, I remembered having seen him years before shooting craps at the Trocadero. So you asked about the oil business and life in Henderson: that was part of it right there. Had a lot of people there from Arkansas and Texas and Oklahoma, a lot of good people, too, in the oil business. But it was -- I can't say anything rowdy about it, except of course, it provided some patronage to the little nightclubs around town, and there were several of them. And they all had gambling with slot machines and so on. They had slot machines in the hotel lobbies when I went there in 1939. KLEE: So this was all just kind of done openly? PALMORE: Oh yes, oh yes. And it ended along about, I think, in 1951. A Good Government League was formed there, and then I think Governor Wetherby also helped -- cooperated with the local people. And there was a minister of the First Christian Church, Charlie Dietze, who was sort of -- was a leader in this movement. I was at that time city prosecutor, but I was on recall to the Navy. So I really was away in Washington, D.C., all the time when this change took place, all of which I've described in this book of mine. KLEE: I know you cover that in your book. But briefly, you went to the Navy. How did that -- PALMORE: Well, when the war -- just before the war started in 1941 -- and I was making $75 a week examining titles -- a couple of fellows walked into my office one day and they represented the Army. At that time it was the Quartermaster Corps. Later on it became the Corps of Engineers. In other words, land acquisition work was transferred from the Quartermaster Corps to the Corps of Engineers. Anyway, they offered me a job for $200-and-some-odd a month -- KLEE: (laughs) Oh my. PALMORE: -- which looked big to me. And this was in August of 1939, just a few -- August or September, just three or four months after I'd come to town. No, '41, it was two years after, it was two years later. So I took a job with them to go down and do title work in connection with what became later on Camp Breckinridge. So they provided me a car, and I got -- it was the first car I ever had in my life. I rode down to Morganfield every day and worked, and a couple of other young lawyers from Morganfield and Dixon in Webster County helped me. And I became sort of the project manager, you might say, of the legal part of it. Then one Sunday afternoon when we were working down there, we got the news that the Japs had attacked Pearl Harbor. Well, that being the case -- see, I had -- really had intended to come back to Henderson and open my own law office at the end of the year, in 1941. But when the war started, I realized that sooner or later I'd be in the service. But at any rate, I wound up working for the Army for several months down in Vicksburg, Mississippi. And I made frequent trips down to New Orleans. And one day when I was in New Orleans, I signed up with the Navy. And so at the end of the year, the end of 1942, as a matter of fact, exactly a year after Pearl Harbor, I reported for duty in New York City in the Midshipmen's School. So while I was in the Navy, they took applications for the Supply Corps of the Navy. I applied for that. And they took 90 of us and sent us to Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration for a year. KLEE: My goodness. PALMORE: So that was a great good fortune, you know, naturally. KLEE: (laughs) Yes, sir. Right. PALMORE: That was something that I was -- and I knew nothing about accounting or bookkeeping, and I learned a little bit, which, later on in my law practice, was very helpful to me. So anyway, I wound up in the fleet out in the Pacific as a supply officer. I had charge of supplies for a refrigerated cargo ship. We delivered fresh food out there to Okinawa and places like that. So after the war, then, I was going to -- I thought I was going to practice law in Louisville, but -- KLEE: How did that opportunity come up? I mean, why did you think about Louisville? PALMORE: See, my father and mother lived in Louisville. I went to law school in Louisville, from 1936-39. And my father was still there. He was a -- worked -- he was a revenuer, a Prohibition agent. And he had become a friend of Eli Brown who at that time was the United States District Attorney, so he kind of wanted me to be in Louisville. And Eli, who was a wonderful fellow incidentally, quite a fine, great citizen in Louisville, on the board of the University of Louisville and so on. But at any rate, Eli wanted me to come and work in their office, but they didn't have enough office space. And office space was very scarce (laughs) at the end of the war. So I took a job temporarily with the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Depot, which was located across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana. And over -- let's see, I went to work for them about in April or May of 1946, and I worked there for about a year and became the chief of the legal branch over there, which was very busy at that time doing work in connection with the closing out of all the contracts. They bought uniforms, etc. And they closed out all these contracts, so we had a group of lawyers working on all that. So at any rate, one day a friend of mine from Henderson came up to the state bar meeting and said, "Why don't you come back to Henderson and practice law with me?" And so that's exactly what I did. I just got tired of waiting for some office space to open up in Louisville, so I went back to Henderson and -- as a partner with a young lawyer named Jimmy Hunt. So Jimmy and I practiced together. KLEE: What was -- was that a very -- I mean, Henderson was a medium- sized town. Was that a fairly decent practice for you? PALMORE: Well, we struggled along. The first year that we were together, I made $3,700 (laughs). And by that time, Eli, who was in private practice then in Louisville, and his law partner, Marshall Eldred, called me up and said they were moving into some new offices, and they had a good client they wanted me to work for. And you know, I had to turn that down. And I said, "Well, you know, here I am. I'm back in Henderson. I've been here a year. I made $3,700 in the first year, (laughs) which was fairly good, and I could buy a secondhand car, you know." KLEE: (laughs) Right. PALMORE: So I went back to Henderson. KLEE: And you got involved in the city -- in city work, I guess. You said you were the city attorney? PALMORE: Well, Jimmy ran for county attorney, and I ran for -- he was the city prosecutor, which was a job that just -- you got 30 percent of the fines and forfeitures. (laughs) And it was very little back in those days. If you made $25 in a month's time, you were doing pretty well. Anyway, we were -- and we were doing title work too. For example, the firm that I had worked for before, which had a great big law practice, they farmed out a lot of their title work to us until they were able to get another young lawyer. So we did some work for them, and we got along pretty well. And in 1951, along came the Korean War. And I was in the Naval Reserve, so I was recalled to active duty, and I spent a year in Washington from 1951 to 1952. And when I came back to Henderson in 1952, in June, of course, we resumed our law practice. And at the end of July, Jimmy went on a trip, a little vacation to Kentucky Lake, and had a fatal heart attack. Then I was all by myself. And frankly, I didn't know whether I was going to make a living or not, because Jimmy was the one that got the law practice, he was a native down there. KLEE: (laughs) He was local, right. PALMORE: He had a sunny disposition, everybody loved him, and he drew a law practice. And I was better at doing the work than I was at drawing it in there (laughs). I was never a big rainmaker, you know. So -- but anyway, things went on, and I was able to survive, and I accepted another partner later on, Leonard Mitchell. And -- KLEE: Now, you said when you got back, they had already -- this Good Government League had already gotten rid of most of the gambling and so forth. PALMORE: Yes. In 19- -- in the winter of 1951 and spring of '52, that's when all that took place, when I was in Washington. KLEE: I guess they just began to enforce the laws they already had on the books, obviously. PALMORE: Well, yeah, yeah. I mean -- KLEE: What other -- when you were -- as you were working with -- in Henderson, what other kinds of -- you mentioned that you worked with this Mayor Hecht Lackey. PALMORE: Well, when I came back from Washington in 1952, he had come to town. He operated a radio station, owned the radio station. His son still owns and operates it today, Henry Lackey. KLEE: Now, if he came to town -- I mean, was he just interested in politics and ran for mayor? Or -- PALMORE: Well, here again now, I've got all of this in the book that I've written. Hecht -- that was a remarkable family, the Lackeys. Incidentally -- well, I'll come to that. But his father -- now, he was from Paducah. His father had been the mayor of Paducah. His brother was the mayor of Paducah. He had another brother; Dutch Lackey, was the mayor of Hopkinsville. KLEE: Is that right? PALMORE: It was just a family of mayors. (laughs) A matter of fact, Dutch's daughter became later the mayor of Hopkinsville after that, in later years. And Hecht came to Henderson as the owner and operator of WSON. And incidentally, before I forget it, let me say this. He was a very progressive, enterprising person. He established the first TV station in Kentucky. KLEE: Oh, is that right? PALMORE: Yes, sir. He did. He -- WEHT in Henderson was the first television station in Kentucky. And Hecht did that. And he was just one of those persons who wanted everything to be by tomorrow morning the way it ought to be. He wanted everything done that could be done to make the city better. He wanted new street lights, he wanted new streets, and he was just as clean as he could be. He was an old alcoholic, had beaten the problem and was a teetotaler. I can see him now. He always wore a bow tie (laughs). And he just was a -- you know, as I say in my book, he was one of the two or three greatest people that I've ever known. KLEE: Is that right? Just wanted to do good things. PALMORE: A wonderful man, you know. And in 1953, I ran for county attorney. My partner had died. He was the county attorney, and I ran for county attorney in 1953, and I got beat. Frankly, I just didn't know whether I was going to be able to make it or not. And Hecht Lackey had been -- was -- that same election was elected mayor of Henderson, he and two commissioner candidates. And the three of them were going to be a new administration, were a new administration. Well, lo and behold, they called me up one day and asked me to come down and talk to them. And they wanted me to be their city attorney. That saved my life. And (laughs) I tell that more in detail in the book. KLEE: It was in the mid-'50s that I found a source that said Mayor Lackey -- in fact, I have -- it was May 7, 1957, that he called a town meeting to propose the formation of a corporation to purchase land to build a college there. PALMORE: And he bought that land from John Barrett. It was John Barrett's farm. KLEE: Now, was there any -- do you remember any controversy about -- you know, a lot of times when they start talking about these colleges, there's an argument about whether it ought to be downtown or someplace else or -- PALMORE: No. KLEE: There wasn't any argument? PALMORE: No, none at all that I can recall. KLEE: And this family, were they kind of providing it at a discount? Or do you -- PALMORE: I doubt that (laughs). Knowing Mr. Barrett, my memory of him, I don't think he would have provided it at a discount. I imagine he got all that it was worth. KLEE: Now, there was a rivalry a little bit, I suppose, between Henderson and Owensboro. And Owensboro had attracted Wesleyan from, I guess, Winchester to come to that community. PALMORE: Yes. KLEE: Do you remember any discussion about, you know, it was important for Henderson to get a college? And what were -- PALMORE: No, I don't have any recollection of that. Of course, that was typical of Hecht Lackey. You know, when Happy Chandler ran against Combs and beat Combs in 1955, Hecht was for Combs, as I was. And yet when Happy Chandler became Governor, that didn't deter Hecht Lackey from going to Chandler and asking him for his help. Happy was born and raised in Corydon in Henderson County, and -- but Hecht was just a man who got things done. KLEE: Now, I guess Chandler was sympathetic to locating a college down that way? PALMORE: Oh, no question about it. And I'm sure that he worked with Hecht Lackey to get it. KLEE: Right. You were appointed to a committee. And I'm just going to ask you to just comment on a few of these people that were on the committee with you. It was a Committee for Higher Education, and it included Francella Armstrong? PALMORE: Francele. KLEE: Okay. PALMORE: Now, Francele's son, Donald, lives in Shelbyville now, Don Armstrong. Francele's father, Leigh Harris, had come to Henderson from Illinois, I think along about 1911 or -12. And he wanted to own a newspaper, and he got this existing paper in Henderson. I understand he got it for nothing. I may be wrong, (laughs) but anyway, he came to Henderson to run the paper, The Henderson Gleaner. And Francele Armstrong, his daughter, Francele, was a very, very brilliant woman. Incidentally, she was -- had been a great athlete. In Henderson in the early '20s, she was on an all-state girl's basketball team. I think she was an all-state player. Anyway, she went to Northwestern, studied journalism, and she met Jim Armstrong up there. He was a Dean of Men, I think. KLEE: Is that right? PALMORE: But anyway, they married, and he came back to Henderson with her. And Francele really was the strong person in that firm. Of course, her father owned the business. KLEE: So she had become a newspaperwoman at The Gleaner. PALMORE: Absolutely. And very progressive and in on everything that they could do to bring about improvement. And I'm sure that -- her nickname was Skeet. KLEE: Is that right? (laughs). PALMORE: And I'm sure that Skeet was very active in this movement to bring the college there. She was a great woman. KLEE: Another person was Dr. Robert English. PALMORE: Yes, he was a doctor, a surgeon. KLEE: Oh, was he? Okay. And you know, looking through the sources, I would see pictures of him. I think he and maybe Chandler actually turned some dirt at some point on the college. PALMORE: Could have. KLEE: And he was, I guess, you know, being the local surgeon, very well respected in the community and -- PALMORE: Yes. KLEE: There was a Mrs. George McClure on that committee. PALMORE: Yes, yes. She was -- I knew her pretty well in the Farm Bureau. I think that she lived out at Little Dixie. And she was a fine, fine lady. KLEE: I was going to ask -- PALMORE: I remember her well. She was a fine, fine person. She represented the farming community, you might say. KLEE: I see, she was the leader in that community. Now, William Sullivan was a state senator, I guess. PALMORE: Yes. And I was going to -- one of the things I was going to tell you is that probably you could get a great deal more information about everything -- you see, he had been -- he came to Henderson in 1951 as a young lawyer, and he became a state senator. And they had a Bill Sullivan Day down there about a month ago for him. I went to it. I attended that. KLEE: I see. Yeah, he's been interviewed. PALMORE: And he's -- well, he would know more about that, a whole lot more than I would. He's a fine person and been an excellent lawyer, and I can't say too much for him. Bill's a -- he and I ran against each other in 1959 for the state court of appeals. I happened to win that election. It was a Chandler/Clements issue. KLEE: So which side -- you were on the Clements' -- PALMORE: Clements. Clements is the fellow who put me on the court (laughs). And Clements is one of the other two or three of the greatest people I've ever known. KLEE: And Sullivan was supported by the Chandler faction. PALMORE: Well, yes. Well, Bill was in the -- Bill married Elizabeth Dorsey, and her father, John Dorsey, which -- who was Bill's partner, was the best lawyer in Henderson. And Mr. Dorsey had a son, John, and he also was a fine lawyer. And the three of them were a very, very strong law firm in Henderson all through the years. KLEE: So Senator -- PALMORE: So in other words, the connection there that I meant to make was that Mr. Dorsey had known Happy Chandler since he was a little boy. They were all for Chandler. There were only two lawyers -- in that election in 1955 between Combs and Chandler, there were only two lawyers in Henderson that were for Combs. I was one of them, and the other one was Leonard Mitchell, this young lawyer who became my partner later on. KLEE: Right, right. Now this Senator Sullivan, I think at the time maybe he was the majority leader in the senate or he had a leadership position. So that put Henderson in a pretty good -- PALMORE: I'll tell you what else he was. He was -- well, in 1959, when he and I ran against each other, he was commissioner of aeronautics in the Chandler administration. KLEE: Okay. So yeah, he had -- PALMORE: He's been a very prominent lawyer and a very successful lawyer, a very good lawyer. KLEE: So this was another big asset for Henderson, as far as getting that community college there, having him right there in that administration. PALMORE: That's right. KLEE: There was a Mrs. George Trigg on the group. PALMORE: Well now, her -- Jean, Jean Trigg. Well, she lived on -- she and George, her husband, lived on a farm near Corydon. And Jean was very civic-minded. She grew up in the town of Henderson. Her father was in the insurance business. And anyway, George Trigg was my first friend in Henderson. I knew him at Western, when I went to Western. George was my instructor in the physics lab (laughs). And he was a -- he taught out at Henderson High School. He was a very prominent, fine person. He's one of the best friends I've ever had in my life. KLEE: R. D. Wallace, I don't -- was another person. PALMORE: Raymond Wallace. Well, you know, the biggest new industry that ever came to Henderson was right on the eve of World War I in '40, '41. And that was when this -- I've forgotten what they called it, this factory that came from Kansas, and I don't know what all they made, but they located down there on the Ohio River. KLEE: And the Wallace family was instrumental? PALMORE: Raymond Wallace was the -- at the time that we're discussing, he was the CEO out there, I think. KLEE: I see. So they had -- PALMORE: Fine person. KLEE: Yeah, and then you were on that committee too. (laughs) You don't remember -- maybe just -- Mayor Lackey just wanted a blue-ribbon group to kind of push this through. PALMORE: Well, did he form the group? KLEE: It sounds like it. PALMORE: He may have, I don't know. I just really don't have much recollection of it. This was what year we're talking about? KLEE: '57, 1957. PALMORE: '57. KLEE: Mm-mm. And then the -- I think the actual dirt was dug in 1960. PALMORE: In '60s, of course, I was then on the court and in Frankfort most of the time. '57 -- well, you know those were extremely busy years for me as -- well, in '57, you see, I had become the commonwealth's attorney. When -- our circuit judge, Marlin Blackwell, died in October, I think, of 1955. And at that point, Lawrence Wetherby -- oh, yes. In the latter part of '55 was the end of Lawrence Wetherby's administration. Chandler had just won, and he was going to go in in December. But Wetherby, through Clements, appointed me as commonwealth's attorney because the commonwealth's attorney at that time, Faust Simpson, was appointed circuit judge to replace -- to take Judge Blackwell's place. So from '57 until '59, I was a commonwealth's attorney. KLEE: I was going to ask you, since you've mentioned it, how you caught the attention of Governor Wetherby, you know, to get this position. I know you probably addressed that a little bit in your book too, your autobiography. PALMORE: Well, of course -- well, Faust Simpson, who was the commonwealth's attorney in 1955, and I were good friends. And of course, I supported Combs. There were lots of connections between me and Clements. I was friends with some people who were close to Clements, and one of whom, Stanley Hoffman, was a state senator. And Stanley was a great friend of mine, a great help to me in my profession. When Judge -- I didn't know this until afterwards, but when Judge Blackwell died, Stanley and Billy McClure -- Billy had been in the -- he was our state representative for some time. He had been county clerk before, and he was another wonderful man in Henderson. The whole McClure family were wonderful people. And anyway, when Judge Blackwell died, Stanley and Billy McClure went down to Morganfield and went out to Earle Clements's farm. He was working out there, and they went out there to ask him if he wouldn't get Wetherby to appoint me as a circuit judge. Well, Earle said, "No." Says, "I want him to be my commonwealth's attorney." (laughs) Said, "I want Faust Simpson to be circuit judge." And that's the way it was. I mean -- so Faust -- well, I didn't want to be commonwealth's attorney, I didn't want to be a prosecutor. But Faust Simpson came down from -- came over from Morganfield one day and came up to my office. And he talked to me about it, and he talked me into -- he changed my mind about it. He was a great person, incidentally, and we were great friends. And he became circuit judge, and then I became commonwealth's attorney, and we got along famously. He was a fine judge; he was a wonderful judge. I saw -- his son is a circuit judge down there now. And I saw him last Friday -- a week ago today in Henderson they unveiled my portrait there in the courthouse. And a number of the judges and all were there, so I saw him last week. But anyway, I was a Clements man from the beginning, and I knew him fairly well. KLEE: I assume that old courthouse got torn down. Or is it still standing? PALMORE: No, it's still there. KLEE: Oh, that's right. I might -- PALMORE: The new courthouse is right across the street. The old courthouse is still there. KLEE: Still standing there. One of the things that went along with this was the UK connection. Do you remember anything about Henderson and a UK connection? Or how was the University of Kentucky viewed in that community? PALMORE: Well, that's our state university, and we had a lot of graduates. My law partner, Jimmy Hunt, a lot of people down there had graduated from the University of Kentucky, so UK has always been very strong down there. And you know, it's funny, I went to Western for two years, and then I went to law school at the University of Louisville because my family lived there, but we were at the races yesterday over at Keeneland and I was telling the people at the table with us -- we were talking about Kentucky's football team. And I said, "You know, ever since I was young enough to think about it, back when I was in high school, just a kid, I have been a football fan of the University of Kentucky all my life." I remember Shipwreck Kelly, (laughs) that far back, you know. And I remember when he was playing, and I remember when he married Brenda Frazier in New York, when he became a pro. I remember Kercheval and all those great players back there, you know. And I'm so much of a football fan of Kentucky that I even rooted for them against my own University of Louisville when they beat them this year. (laughs) So I'm -- I didn't go to school there, but I'm a fan. And I would say that most people think along those lines that are fans of Kentucky down at -- of course, we've got a lot of -- there are a lot of Murray graduates there in Henderson now. Earle Clements's number one man in Henderson was an insurance man named O.B. Springer. And O.B. Springer came from Morganfield originally, I think, and he was very close to Earle Clements. But he was a Murray graduate and a great Murray promoter, more so than Western. There were more Murray people there than there were Western people. A few of us folks had been to Western, but not as many as there are now. But Murray was big in Henderson. KLEE: Well, the UK label, I think, gave these colleges some immediate respectability. PALMORE: Oh, I think everybody -- just about everybody that I know, whether in Henderson or anyplace else in Kentucky, everybody I know has a high opinion of UK. And you know, Dr. Clark, he -- I got to know him pretty well in his last years, and we were good friends. And people like Dr. Clark have a legion of friends in Kentucky. KLEE: Well, I had one other question or a couple other -- for you to -- If you've got another minute or two. There was-- PALMORE: I've got all the time you want. KLEE: There was a -- There's a Joseph Hatfield that's just had a building named for him. Is he a later -- a later person? He must -- PALMORE: Hatfield? KLEE: um-hmm. I think it's brand new, so he might have been one of their presidents, or something. PALMORE: I don't -- That's -- That -- No don't worry about the time, I've got all day. KLEE: Okay. Okay. -- I'm about to run out of this side of tape, so I wanna -- PALMORE: Well take your time. KLEE: Okay. PALMORE: Change it if you want to. KLEE: I'll do that. [End side 1, tape 1] [Begin side 2, tape 1] KLEE: This is side of a tape with -- John S. Palmore, by John Klee on October 19, 2007. You got elected to court of appeals and, of course, that brought you to Frankfort a lot, I guess. PALMORE: Yes -- yes, it was a -- it was a -- four hour drive from Henderson, and I'd usually come to Frankfort on Sunday afternoon, and go home on Friday afternoon. KLEE: Gee. PALMORE: And the reason I moved to Frankfort was that -- of course, coming back and forth like that, my house was empty all that time that we would be away, -- and I just finally decided I'd have to sell it. And I'd just bought it in 19- -- I mean, I'd just built it in 1956. That was kind of heart-wrenching. KLEE: Did you have any contact with the administrators or the people once the college started? PALMORE: Well, I remember the first president of the college down there. KLEE: They called them directors in the beginning. PALMORE: Yes. I was going to ask you what the name -- it wasn't president. Well, I remember him. And one of our -- members of our church, the Episcopal Church down there, Dorothy Hennessy, I think, was his secretary out there. Dorothy is still living, but I understand she's not in -- I don't know what shape she's in. KLEE: She might have been a good one to talk to. PALMORE: If she's able to. Now, she has a daughter, a very beautiful girl, who for a time was married to my son. My son is dead. My son had lung cancer, and he died in 1992. KLEE: I see. PALMORE: But Patricia, her daughter -- KLEE: Had she come in with the college or lived there and got employed there? PALMORE: No, no. The -- Dorothy was a member of the Helm family, an old family in Henderson, and her father had been a prominent man there, involved in city politics, I think. I think his name was Hugh Helm. I never did know him. This was before my time. But I do know this, that her brother was my first law partner, Jimmy Hunt's, they had been best friends during their boyhood. But Hugh Helm, the Helm boy, Jimmy's friend, it seems to me was in Washington, D.C., had some kind of government job. So I never did know him. But Dorothy's still living and if she's able to talk, she could tell you a lot of -- but you say you've you already interviewed Bill Sullivan? KLEE: Another -- I have another person working on this, and she did, Adina O'Hara. PALMORE: Well, I was going to recommend that you talk to Bill because he'd know all about it. KLEE: As far as -- of course, you left about that time, and I guess your contact was limited after that, after 1960. Do you know in general how the college impacted on that community? PALMORE: Well, I'd have to just use speculation and logic. I have always felt that colleges should extend themselves out into the countryside of the state. I was on the board of regents of Western for several years, and we established a satellite in Glasgow, which the University of Kentucky had the first rights to that, but somehow or another, it wasn't convenient for them to do it, so we did it. And I think this is one of -- this is a -- it's a great thing. There are lots and lots of people who want to go and need to go to college and can't, because it's too far away and they can't leave their homes and their business. But these community colleges are just -- to me, it's one of the most progressive things that's happened in my lifetime, is to see secondary education being moved out here where the people can get to it! KLEE: Right, right. PALMORE: And so I just know that it has contributed a great deal to Henderson. And a lot of people go to school out there that would never have gone -- that have never been to college -- never would have been able to go to college. To me, that's just a marvelous thing. KLEE: One of the people that really expanded that, of course, was Governor Combs. And I don't know -- I'm sure you know this individual -- I interviewed him earlier this year, Barkley Sturgill, down in Prestonsburg (laughs). PALMORE: Yes, I know Barkley. I know his brother, Bill, too, real well. But Combs and I -- KLEE: That's what I was going to ask you about. What was your -- I think he was able to build this community college system primarily through some tax -- PALMORE: Well, in 1955, when the -- Clements -- the Wetherby term of office was ending -- and you know they waited -- Happy Chandler had been going all around the state for four years, running (laughs). And Wetherby and Clements had just waited and waited and waited to find a candidate. Well sir, one day in our office in Henderson, the phone rang, and it was Earle Clements. And he said, "What do you think about this fellow, Bert Combs? What do you think about him as a candidate for governor?" And I had -- we had had an oral argument in this court up here, and I had seen Combs. And I said, "Well, fine. He'd be fine with us." So that's how we got into the Combs campaign. And when -- of course, Combs got beat that time. He was the worst speaker I ever saw (laughs). And he improved tremendously over his lifetime. But four years later, then, when I was commonwealth's attorney, I did everything I was capable of doing to help him in Henderson County. Went over -- and I remember meeting him at the airport in Evansville when he flew down to make a speech there. I mentioned this in the book, incidentally. And I remember saying to him that you know, "If you could just come out against any taxes." People are always worried about taxes. They may not pay much, but they are against it (laughs). And he said, "Well, John," he said, "If I had to do that, I can't go anywhere if I don't have any money." But he was honest about it, and you know, that impressed me, it really did. So we ran together. I rode with him, rode in our car. One night, riding up around Muldraugh or somewhere like that up in the Fort Knox neighborhood, we were riding along. And my wife was driving -- or I guess not. Anyway, Combs was sitting in the front seat with -- the three of us were in the front seat (laughs), and I was talking and talking and talking. And I looked over there, and Combs was sound asleep. And that just tickled my wife to death, you know, that Combs was sitting there (laughs) sound asleep. KLEE: So you were on the court of appeals when he became governor? PALMORE: I was elected at the same time he was. I was commonwealth's attorney. He and I were elected at the same time. I had 16 counties in my district, and I carried 14 of them. Bill Sullivan told a funny story the other day in Henderson, and it's true. I lost Todd County. That was one of the two counties that he carried. And what happened was that they had had a sheriff down there named Bill Sullivan, and a lot of people thought that he was the one that was running for the court (laughs). KLEE: Right. PALMORE: Bill told that story himself last week or a week ago today in Henderson. KLEE: That happens a lot, I think. PALMORE: By the way, I want to tell you a funny story that -- while you've got some tape time there. KLEE: Yes, sir. PALMORE: But you know, apparently in the old days there was a Klee family down there in Henderson, because there was a Klee-Morton-Tapp funeral home. The funeral home was located at the far corner of the courthouse square from where the courthouse was, down at 1st and Main Street. It was over on the river side, across from the park. But in 1908, Senator A.O. Stanley, who was from Henderson, had given the city a cannon, an old military cannon, and it was sitting in the corner of the courthouse yard over there, right across the yard from the Presbyterian Church. And one day, three boys stuffed it with dynamite and set it off. And it made a terrible explosion and blew out the windows (laughs) of Klee Funeral Home across the street. And one of these three young men -- and this must have happened about 1890 or so. One of the three young me was John Dorsey, who turned out in later years to be Bill Sullivan's father-in-law (laughs). But anyway, the other two boys got away. But Mr. Dorsey ran into a guy wire coming down the telephone pole, and it caught him under the chin and knocked him out on the ground, so they caught him. And for years after that, his father, who was a lawyer before him, and had been circuit judge, had on his desk under the glass a check to the funeral home, and it said "For bombarding Fort Klee." KLEE: (laughs) Isn't that something? You know, you mentioned that Camp Breckinridge. I have a brother that lives in Morganfield now. PALMORE: Do you? KLEE: And he actually owned one of those buildings, one of the old camp buildings where they -- I guess they held prisoners there at one time too? PALMORE: Where? KLEE: At Morganfield. At that camp. Did they have some German POWs? PALMORE: Oh, yes, yes. As a matter of fact, you know, this -- there was a German prisoner who -- and this is -- down at Sturgis, they've got this in a building down there, an artist who -- KLEE: Some murals. PALMORE: Yeah. A German prisoner. KLEE: Yeah. But yeah, that's -- my brother actually owns -- still owns some property there. He bought another house, but he lived right there close to -- he went down there with Peabody Coal, so that's right where that camp was. I guess that's the one you helped lay out. PALMORE: Oh, it is! It is. It is. We were working one Sunday afternoon on December 7, 1941, in the American Legion hut in Morganfield when we got the news about Pearl Harbor. KLEE: Now, I didn't realize -- was Clements from -- he owned a farm, you said, there at -- PALMORE: Oh, he was from Morganfield. KLEE: From Morganfield. And then Chandler was from Corydon there. (laughs) To have those two -- that's kind of unusual for that to have come out like that. PALMORE: That's right. Well, you know, they were quite different people. But Earle Clements was -- I don't think many people realize that Earle was the man that's really responsible for the Kentucky Lake -- KLEE: Project? PALMORE: -- Park down there. He's the fellow who started that. He just was a powerful man. He had a lot of Lyndon Johnson in him, you know. KLEE: New Deal type -- PALMORE: He's one of these people, you know, that he didn't wheedle you into doing anything. He's one of these fellows that grab you by the coat collar (laughs) and pull you back and forth while he's telling you what to do. And I'll tell a wonderful story that's true about him. When he was governor, Stanley Hoffman was in the senate. And they had some bill that Clements was very much against, and so it was hotly contested. And he -- I don't know whether he lost or not, but he probably didn't. He didn't lose very much. But Stanley was in the senate, and all the clerks -- the clerks were for the bill and he was against it or vice versa. It might have had to do with something as to whether the clerks would issue marriage licenses or they'd issue them out of Frankfort. Anyway, afterward, the governor came and [got] hold of Stanley and shook him (laughs). And Stanley said, "But, Earle," said, "I voted for the bill." And Earle said, "Yeah, but by God", he said, "you were against it anyway!" (laughs) KLEE: He got after him even though he got the vote! PALMORE: What a great character Earle Clements was. He was strong, a strong man. KLEE: While I've got you on tape -- and again, I'm sure this is a big part of your autobiography -- but the reform of the Kentucky court system, can you tell me a little bit about that and your role in it? PALMORE: Well, I -- well of course, there's a lot I can say about it. I did not have any role in bringing about the amendment, passing the amendment. I thought that the court really should stay out of that. Some of them did get active in it; I thought they should stay out of it. KLEE: Because of your non-partisan role? PALMORE: Well, that's right, because people would think we were trying to do something for ourselves. KLEE: That's true. Right, right. PALMORE: But anyway, it was passed. And Scott Reed was chief justice at the time. But you know, Scott was -- had just -- he was a great lawyer and a fine judge, but administration was not his thing. KLEE: Strength. Uh-huh. PALMORE: And he could see what was coming up. See, Julian Carroll was governor, and he had the thing -- the legislation constructed in such a way that -- you see, the amendment was passed in the fall of 1975. The legislature met in January of '76. Carroll was in charge then. One of the greatest things that ever happened to Kentucky was that he abolished the bail bondsmen. All around the country, they run things, you know. KLEE: That's right. PALMORE: And he caught them by surprise (laughs). You know, they were considering that in Florida when I was chief justice, I think, and wanted me to come down there and testify about it. Then they changed their minds, and I found out those bail bondsmen got to those judges. KLEE: Oh, they lobbied. PALMORE: Oh, man. They were powerful. KLEE: Sure. PALMORE: And that's one of the greatest things Julian Carroll ever did. But then he had all this legislation. We had hundreds of magistrate's courts. Every justice of the peace could hold court. And we had them -- hundreds of them. And we had all these police courts, some good, some bad, the big one in Louisville. And there were just thousands of cases in these courts. But anyway, there was -- also the court of appeals was established, a brand new court with 14 judges. When the legislature met, they set the first date for the new district courts for a year beyond then, the next year, so they'd all run for that. But they didn't do anything about the court of appeals, which meant that immediately you had these 14 vacancies, and that meant that the governor got to appoint them, and that's what happened (laughs). He appointed all of the original 14 judges, and they were in right now. But the district courts, we had a year in which to sort of get ready for -- but Scott Reed -- I think Scott just didn't -- well actually, the district courts were not elected until 1977. And Scott then resigned in -- he resigned in '77. They were to come in in the first of '78. So when I became chief justice, when Scott resigned and the court then elected me as chief justice, we were faced with all this big change in the lower courts coming up the 1st of January (laughs). And it was really something. I mentioned this last Friday in Henderson, and I said, "Well, you know, there were whole -- hundred and thousands of cases on these dockets all around, and most of them just went down the drain." KLEE: Is that right? PALMORE: But anyway -- KLEE: You just didn't have things in place. I mean, it took time to -- you had to hire staff -- PALMORE: And you know, [when] the circuit court -- the district court started out, they didn't even have typewriters, you know. All kinds of things. And I have always said -- and some of the circuit judges sort of got disgruntled with me because I went around saying this, and that is that the district court was the most important court that we had because that's the court that everybody saw. That was the biggest court people were going to be in. The biggest number of people were going to be in it. And that was part of the court system that was the most visible to the public. And I still think that, you know. And I think the performance that we got from those original district judges was the big reason that the system went over well and was accepted by the public. They were ready for having honest, competent courts. KLEE: I was going to back you up a little bit on that and ask you about that. Even though you couldn't get very politically active, you were certainly probably sympathetic to the changes because you had people that had no legal experience making legal judgments. PALMORE: Oh, absolutely. It was awful. What some of these magistrates -- they used to have speed traps, for example. And there were a lot of them in our neighborhood. For example, down in Webster County, down at the little town of Slaughters, they had a magistrate down there that he just shook people down. He took their cameras and all the other things that they had, you know. And there was just a lot of crookedness going on in these things. KLEE: I guess there wasn't any real oversight either, was there? PALMORE: No. And most of these new district judges were young fellows, you know. And you know, they just did a marvelous job. We had one of them right here, Bill Graham, and he just retired as a circuit judge here. KLEE: Right. And he started out as one of the original district judges in this new court system. PALMORE: Handled a massive number of cases, and they just did such a wonderful job. That's just one of the most gratifying things that I can think of in my 90 years around in this world is the job those district judges did. KLEE: You had to fight for money all the time, I guess. PALMORE: Well, yeah. But not too bad. The legislature was -- they were pretty -- they were right helpful, and we had that strong governor, we had Julian Carroll as governor. And you know, he was about the strongest governor since Earle Clements. And we had Gross Clay Lindsay. I don't know whether you've heard of Gross, but Gross was a lawyer from Henderson, and he was pretty prominent in the legislature and pretty influential. He and Bill were in office when -- in these tough days when we first started. Incidentally, I made three speeches to the general assembly, one in '76 and -- '76, '78, and '80. No, '82. Wait a minute. I became -- '78. Anyway, I spoke to the legislature three times, and I have all those speeches. KLEE: What was the gist of those? About the new court system? Or trying to -- PALMORE: Reported on the status -- the state of the judiciary speeches, you know. And of course, they contain a good deal of the history of what was going on, what was happening. KLEE: Sure. And I guess your instructions that you wrote are still widely used? PALMORE: Yeah. Yeah. We have different instructions from any other state, I think. Our instructions are tailored to the individual case, and so many states use what they call "pattern instructions," which sort of tell a jury what the law is. And our philosophy has always been: you don't tell the jury what the law is, that really isn't any of their business. They should decide facts, which of either of these parties ran the red light. That's it. Then you apply the law. And so it's -- there's a distinct art in writing instructions. And it's -- a lot of lawyers don't do a good job of that. But I -- the first judge I ever practiced under, Marlin Blackwell in Henderson, was just a master at writing instructions. Toward the end of the trial, you'd see him get out a yellow tablet, and he'd start writing in pencil. And his instructions wouldn't be over a couple pages long, and that's the way they ought to be. KLEE: And you wrote a guide to writing such instructions. PALMORE: Yeah, and I've got examples. Our book on instructions -- I haven't contributed to it for several years, but it is exemplary cases, examples, common -- as common as you can find. You don't want to -- we didn't -- I didn't write instructions for rare and unusual cases, but the cases that would be typical, that would come up. KLEE: Right. PALMORE: Like who ran the stop sign (laughs). It's an over- simplification, but that's -- but it takes a good deal of individual effort. You can't just reach in the book and -- KLEE: Whip it out? (laughs) PALMORE: -- find an instruction for your case. KLEE: I'm in your den here, I guess is what you'd call it, with the fireplace and the books, and it's full of awards and images (laughs). PALMORE: Yeah, yeah. KLEE: As you think about that career that you had, you know, chief justice of the supreme court, are there any moments that stand out in particular about people you met or -- both good and bad, maybe? (laughs) PALMORE: Well, they have a -- every year in New York -- up at New York University Law School in New York City, they have an appellate judges' seminar, and they try to get about 20, 25, hopefully newer judges, not old judges. So I got to go to that the second year I was on the court, back in 1961. And one of our instructors was Bill Brennan. And I have written some things that say what I'm going to try to say now. I think this, although philosophically, I sometimes felt more conservative than he, I think that in my lifetime, he probably has been the most influential and important member of the United States Supreme Court. I think he had more to do with moving the law into everyday life, into modern life. He was extremely likable, and I can see why he had such great influence on the court, because in a collegial group like that, somebody who's articulate and somebody who's modest and somebody who's friendly and somebody who's brilliant like he was, you're going to move other judges. KLEE: He had the whole package going for him, didn't he? PALMORE: Oh, they're going to come to look at you and see what you think. That's a big thing on a court. It was on our court with seven judges, you know. And some judges, when they say what they think, it carries weight with the other judges. And I think that knowing him, that one couple of weeks that I was at the -- sitting in a nearby place and having a drink of beer with him, we all did that. And there were judges from all over the country, from Oklahoma, Alabama, and so on. (laughs) California. But that was a big thing. KLEE: And of course, you saw his career then go, you know, all the way to the Supreme Court? PALMORE: Well, he was then on the Supreme Court. KLEE: Oh, I didn't realize that. In '61. Okay. PALMORE: Oh, yeah, yeah. That was -- see, what happens is, they've got a dormitory building, not -- it's apartments, it's not like a college dormitory, it's really apartments for their faculty. And when the faculty's gone during the summer, they're able to use this. And we all stayed in apartments like that. My wife and I stayed in one for two weeks, you know. KLEE: Well, you were -- I saw in some of my research you were named to the Western Kentucky University Alumni Hall of Fame. PALMORE: Well, that's distinguished -- KLEE: Distinguished alumni? PALMORE: Yeah, that's right. KLEE: That was quite a class you were in too, with Cordell Hull and -- (laughs) PALMORE: Yeah, that's right. Well, they're having that again next month. And Tom Meredith, who was president of Western when I was put on that group, he's going to be one of the -- and you know, Western had that wonderful singing group, the Hilltoppers. And various Hilltoppers -- they've all been -- Billy Vaughn ----------(??). KLEE: Right. Right. Yeah, I've seen some articles about them and so forth. PALMORE: Great, great group of people. But another man that I met in this -- see that picture over there, Tom Clark. KLEE: Yes sir. PALMORE: You see, he was on the Supreme Court. He came down here and helped to pass our constitutional amendment. But I found him one of the most congenial and likeable people I've ever known. He just was a wonderful guy. He's Ramsey Clark's father. KLEE: Okay. I didn't know that. PALMORE: Yeah, Ramsey Clark. KLEE: Yeah. I remember seeing that name. PALMORE: In fact, that's when he retired from the Court, is when Ramsey became solicitor general and had all those arguments to make before them. KLEE: He saw that -- right, the conflict. PALMORE: But I thought that he was one of the most attractive people I've ever met. KLEE: Now, did he come down just -- you know, in a kind of a consulting -- PALMORE: Yeah, yeah. He was retired from the Court. And then the fellow who is now the president of Florida State University, Sandy -- I've forgotten his last name. KLEE: I can look it up. PALMORE: He came up here and helped us. And he was the lawyer down in Florida. And -- but -- KLEE: All that helped with the passage, I guess, having these big names. PALMORE: They knew -- they'd been through these things. KLEE: Of course, as you said, it was Carroll that pretty much put the legislation through. The amendment had been passed and -- PALMORE: He did an absolutely marvelous job. KLEE: And you get back to Henderson every once in a while. You were just there a couple weeks ago, I guess? PALMORE: One week ago today. Well, you know, while I was chief justice, the Kentucky Bar Association commissioned a portrait for me. And it was done by an artist, Jack Hodgkin over at Winchester. And they hung it upstairs in the Kentucky Bar Association building, and it's been there for 25 years or so. (laughs) And they wanted to have a portrait in the courthouse in Henderson. So Gross Clay Lindsay -- I didn't know anything about this until after they had made these arrangements, but they asked the Bar Association if they could have that portrait. So the Bar Association has made a permanent loan to them, and they unveiled it last Friday, a week ago today. So that's why I was down there last week. KLEE: Well, I know this has been a busy time for you. We have an election coming up, and you know, I know that you said you and your wife have been making some rounds, so I appreciate you talking to me this morning. PALMORE: Well, listen, I've just enjoyed -- we've been talking about things that I like to talk about (laughs), you know. I don't get to -- but -- KLEE: Are there some questions I should have asked you that I didn't get to? PALMORE: Oh, gosh. I don't -- KLEE: Oh, I know you -- I mean, there were a lot of things. Of course, my main focus was about Henderson and some of those people that you worked with there. I think we touched on them pretty well. PALMORE: It's in that book. I wanted to give you this. This book here I wrote -- KLEE: Now, this was the first book you wrote. It was on -- An Opinionated Career: Memoirs of a Kentucky Judge. PALMORE: Now, that's from a historical standpoint. What that book was intended to do and to cover is what we did when I was on the court, what the -- cases ----------(??). But you can have that. KLEE: Oh, I certainly appreciate it. PALMORE: Now, this one here is about my career. KLEE: That just came out. PALMORE: That's the newer one there. KLEE: The Panama Canal to Elkhorn Creek. Yeah, it came out -- I saw it was 2003. It's a nice-looking book, I mean, as far as the publication and so forth. PALMORE: That's where I've got it marked there is where it tells about Hecht Lackey. KLEE: Right. I see. PALMORE: As I say, I neglected to make an index for that. I just didn't think about it. KLEE: One of those things, yeah. But -- yeah. Well, that's how these communities get built and that's how these colleges got built. It was by strong personalities. And you know, some of it was serendipity, I guess the fact that you had this Hecht Lackey and Chandler was right down the road and William Sullivan was right there in town, and you have a lot of things come together. And you mentioned Glasgow. The original legislation -- and it's still on the books -- it lists Glasgow as one of the potential sites for the community colleges. And I think there's one other -- Carrolton was another one listed. Never were -- it was kind of enabling legislation, said they could be built there, but they never were. PALMORE: Yeah. KLEE: So you know, it had to do with the personalities and the politics and then, you know, UK also. PALMORE: Well, when we were making the decisions to go over there from Western -- I was on the board of regents at Western -- and I was strongly (laughs) in favor of that, you know. KLEE: Sure. PALMORE: You know, my father -- KLEE: It's been very successful, I guess. I mean, all those -- lots of enrollment in those places. PALMORE: It had to be successful, it just had to be. KLEE: Yeah, the market was there. PALMORE: And Glasgow's a -- KLEE: You were going to mention your father. I'm sorry, I interrupted you. PALMORE: Well, my father was from Monroe County, down -- and Glasgow was the metropolis for there, down at Tompkinsville. And so Glasgow -- a matter of a fact, my uncle was the superintendent of public schools in the city, when we came back from Panama in 1926, and his family was raised there. KLEE: What had taken your family to Panama? PALMORE: Well, my father was the -- there were 10 children, and he was the last boy. He would have been the farmer if my grandfather had had his way about it (laughs), he would have stayed on the farm. But he didn't want to stay on the farm, obviously. He joined the Army when he was 21. And he was in the Army from 1910-1913, I guess. And when he got out of the Army, they were finishing the Panama Canal, and they were -- they circularized around the country for people to take jobs down there. And he signed on as a policeman, and he went down there as a policeman. My mother was a telephone operator in New York City. She did the same thing, went down there as one of the first telephone operators. So that's where they met, and I was born there. My father became a great pistol shot. He was on the United States Pistol Team in 1924, and he went to Europe, and we stayed with my grandmother in New York City. And my mother had my little brother while my dad was overseas with the pistol team. But my little brother didn't fare too well in that tropical climate, I guess, and the doctors advised them to come back to the States. And so they did come back to the States in 1926 when I was nine years old, but I lived nine years in Panama. KLEE: Isn't that interesting? Gee. And now you're on this beautiful place here on -- close to the Elkhorn, I guess. PALMORE: Well, we've lived here now, I guess, 22 years. KLEE: It's a lovely spot. Well, I appreciate you talking to me. PALMORE: Well, it's been a pleasure. [End of interview.] Oral history with John Palmore, lawyer and judge from Henderson Kentucky. Interview recounts his involvement in the implementation of Hazard Community and Technical College in the 1970's. Majority of interview recounts political life as Kentucky chief justice in the late 1970's. Concludes with discussion of two books written about his years as lawyer and judge. insert here