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1992-05-26 Interview with Graddy Johnson, May 26, 1992 Leg001:1992OH191 Leg 46 01:44:55 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Practice of law -- Kentucky. ; Coal mines and mining -- Kentucky. Social services -- Study and teaching -- Kentucky. Lexington-Fayette County Urban Government (Ky.) United States -- Politics and government. Lexington (Ky.) Lothair (Ky.) Johnson family Kidd, Mae Street, 1904- Ball, Don Pettit, Foster University of Kentucky. College of Law Civil rights Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) Coal mines and mining -- Kentucky. Practice of law Social service law school political disillusionment party loyalty legislative independence PACs (Political Action Groups) voter fraud government spending Savings and Loans crisis Homelessness Abortion stopping the clock national politics House (1968), 54th district Fayette County (Ky.) Graddy Johnson; interviewee Judy K. Bowen; interviewer 1992OH191_LEG046_Johnson 1:|17(13)|29(10)|50(6)|65(3)|79(2)|98(1)|121(13)|140(2)|158(2)|171(5)|185(6)|201(7)|215(1)|229(5)|243(11)|258(1)|280(2)|291(9)|304(11)|321(9)|339(4)|353(2)|367(2)|378(4)|391(12)|407(13)|421(10)|446(6)|464(2)|480(8)|500(5)|515(4)|528(8)|541(3)|556(8)|573(1)|596(7)|635(5)|666(12)|702(11)|721(7)|766(10)|798(6)|814(7)|845(7)|868(4)|897(9)|922(5)|958(9)|992(5)|1024(7)|1035(8)|1052(2)|1068(7)|1083(11)|1098(3)|1113(3)|1128(11)|1149(7)|1164(4)|1206(9)|1244(3)|1265(7)|1305(9) audiotrans Legit interview BOWEN: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative Graddy Johnson who represented the Fifty-Fourth District in 1968. The interview is being conducted by Judy Bowen for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project on May 26, 1992, in Lexington, Kentucky, at around 5:15 PM. This evening, I'm talking with Graddy Johnson. Mr. Johnson, could you tell me when and where you were born? JOHNSON: I was born in Lexington, August 11, 1940. BOWEN: Okay. And could you tell me a little bit about your parents? JOHNSON: Yeah. We actually lived in a coal mining community called Lothair. L-O-T-H-A-I-R, right outside Hazard. My father was a lawyer also and a coal operator, mainly through his father, who was also a coal operator and a lawyer. We were in the coal mining business. And it was kind of booming. War was just beginning when I was born. There was no hospital for my mother to give birth to me in the mountains close to Hazard. So she came here. And I was the youngest of three children. I had a six-year-old sister and a ten-year-old brother when I was born in 1940. And I still have them; they're still alive. My parents are both dead. My father was educated at the University of Kentucky, and public schools in this area before Kentucky, and then the University of Kentucky Law School, Class of 1928. Daddy was born in '04. My mom was born in a house in Scott County, Kentucky, in 1906. So, we're all from around here, and I've spent the next fifty-two years being from Lexington, though I have moved and taken jobs out of state and worked in other places. My older brother, Joe Johnson III- -my father was Joe Junior and his father Joe Senior--is ten years older than I am. Joe just turned sixty-two. He's a lawyer in Lexington now. My sister, six years older, will soon turn fifty-eight, and I'll turn fifty-two this summer. And she lives here in Lexington. BOWEN: Did your mother ever work outside the home? JOHNSON: No. BOWEN: Okay. And you said you've lived in Kentucky all of your life? JOHNSON: Yes. BOWEN: Has your family always been from Kentucky? Or were they-- JOHNSON: My grandfather walked across the mountain from Virginia back before the turn of the century. He was born in 1875. That's Joe Johnson Sr. and met a girl from Breathitt County, who her name was Ada Johnston, and his name was Joe Johnson. And they married and had a home in Lexington, but the coal mining operations were in Hazard. And so once Grandy--we called him--came over the mountain from Virginia and started buying property upon which to mine coal at the turn of the century, my grandparents stayed here. My mother's parents were Kentuckians, native Kentuckians, and she was born in Scott County, as I said, in Georgetown in 1904. She was the oldest of three. She had a brother for whom she named me, William Graddy Williams, now dead of cancer. She gave me the last two names, Graddy Williams Johnson. And he's dead of cancer in 1974, which is also when my mother died. They were very close. Then she had a younger sister, who just died in the last two weeks at almost eighty of Alzheimer's disease. All of them were from Kentucky. BOWEN: Where did you go to school? JOHNSON: I went to kindergarten and nine years of school at University High School, which was closed in about 1965. It was right across the street from the University of Kentucky. Was an experiment in student teaching for people who wanted to be educated as teachers at UK. They would come over and teach our classes. We would have permanent teachers but we would have a lot of student teachers who were taking education courses at UK. They called it U High. The name of it was University High School. I was there from kindergarten through the ninth grade, those ten years. I then went away to a prep school in Virginia, followed my brother's footsteps of ten years before. And I graduated in 1958 from Woodberry Forest School, in Woodberry Forest, Virginia. And I went immediately to college, to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1962, and entered the UK Law School in the fall of '62 and graduated in the spring of '65. I took the bar exam and became a lawyer in 1965. BOWEN: Okay. When you were in high school, did you have a civics course or anything related to American government? JOHNSON: Yes. Both at University High School, where I think we called it public affairs or public-something and at Woodberry Forest. You know, I can't remember the name of that course at Woodberry Forest. It was something close to civics and government. It was something like that but I took it in prep school. That's my diploma from-- BOWEN: --I know. That's what I was looking at there-- JOHNSON: --Woodberry Forest. It's interesting you'd be looking right at it. That's my law school one, and over here is my Williams College. I have hung it up, but I've replaced it with this little prayer that tells me to slow down and take my time because it's a major problem of mine. BOWEN: Okay. Did you have a favorite book when you were growing up? JOHNSON: I was very much into sports. And it was one of the ways I sought to get approval because it never seemed to be enough for me, you know, even though my parents doted on me. As the last child, I was raised as an only child, practically. My brother was gone by the time I was eight years old, and my sister was already fourteen. So I spent a lot of time reading sports books and practicing alone. And as strange as it might seem now, the book I remember and read ten times as a child was not David Copperfield, which I did read--my mother made me read that and Treasure Island; they were both wonderful books and I liked them--but it was the Strikeout Story by Bob Feller, who was one of the great early pitchers, a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. And I read that and it made me want to be a baseball player. BOWEN: (laughs) We're doing baseball interviews now, too. JOHNSON: Oh, are you? BOWEN: Yeah, I'm transcribing some of those right now. JOHNSON: Are you really? BOWEN: It's very interesting. JOHNSON: I thought I was going to make the major leagues in baseball at one point. And then I fell in love with tennis one summer. (Bowen laughs) And tried to do both for a while and found out I couldn't really do that. And my tennis coach at Woodberry didn't want me to do both and so I concentrated instead on tennis. I never would have made the major leagues in baseball, but when I was a Little Leaguer, I thought I was going to. BOWEN: I think everybody does when they are in Little League. I thought I would when I was in the Little League. (laughs) JOHNSON: I guarantee you, I guarantee you, you did. Now, when I was in law school, for instance we only had two women in law school. In my opinion, they were browbeat and abused by the teachers more than the students. And they gave up after a couple of years. Now, 40 to 50 percent of the incoming classes and graduating classes are women, so it's a whole new ballgame. Where I work here now as a government attorney, we have six women attorneys, three men. The commissioner is a woman, a brilliant lawyer named Mary Ann Delaney. And all except Ed Gardner--who is director of litigation--and Wayne Waddell(??) and I, are women and much of our staff are women. BOWEN: Were there any minorities when you went to the law school? JOHNSON: I don't remember a minority person in our class. Isn't that funny? I'm just about positive there weren't any blacks. The minorities that there were, when I came in '62, were some older people. You know, they were people that seemed ancient to me then, forty, thirty-five. We had one man that was sixty named Kehor(??). He was funny. He didn't make it; he didn't stick it out. You know, later I went to the graduate school of social work at UK. My life changed drastically in the last ten years, which I may or may not want to get into here. BOWEN: Okay. JOHNSON: But it changed drastically. And one of the centers of it was a end of a marriage of twenty-six and a half years, and so I wanted to see if I could do anything else. The kids were all grown. They're thirty, twenty-nine, and twenty-eight this year. They're all doing fine, but I decided--from something I learned from Judge Barker here- -the great things that a person in social work could do in the court system. Now, I'd been educated and trained and worked as a lawyer most all of my adult life. But I thought maybe a combination of social work with my background in the law, I could contribute something in a little bit different way. I tried it. I went to the graduate school of social work here. I did fine. I had a 4.0 average. I never had that in school before. (Bowen laughs) But here I was in 1988--I would have been forty-eight--and I was one of those people, just like I just told you about, one of those old people that seemed ancient to me when I'd run into them back when I was in law school at age twenty-one and twenty-three, before I graduated. And I found studying to be a lot tougher then. I hadn't studied in a school climate for many years. Business is far different from that. And so the young graduates, mostly women who had graduated undergraduate school in social work, they could come to the library and you could only check the books out for two hours, for instance; they were on a special reserve. Then you'd have to go recheck them out. These women would finish in an hour and ten minutes. I'd go back two minutes before the two hours was up, and I'd have to recheck the book and I'd have to keep to keep it four hours, and they'd do their work in ninety minutes and that was really frustrating to me at first. But my motivation was high. I wanted to see if that might be the place I should be in this world as an older person. And I finally reached a decision that the lawyer was what I was trained for and educated for and what I could do best, and that in that capacity I could render some kind of service, if I were a practitioner of the right kind as I see it, as my grandfather was and my father was before me. And so I didn't stay with it, but I stayed in three semesters, and I did well and I really loved it. I met some fascinating people, most of them women. I found after my divorce I had a relationship with women that I didn't know existed. They became great friends and I could talk to them. I found out I had a lot of female hormones in me I didn't even know about. By that, I'm saying I could share with them the real part of me, you know, what I was thinking, what I was doing, and where I wanted to go. Never had that relationship during the time I was married. We were too busy having kids and struggling. And my wife worked some but she raised three little kids in diapers. I don't know how she did it. When I was in law school, I worked two jobs and went to law school, and I thought I really had it tough, working in display advertising at the Herald-Leader and working in the Romany(??) Shop Liquor Store at night, and trying to stay in law school, trying to pass. But at least when the day was over, I could finish. You know, I could go home. She had to look at those little babies in diapers, age zero, one, and two. By the time she was twenty-one, she'd had all three of them. So we were too busy doing that, and like everything else, I was precocious about my education. I got out when I was twenty-four. Went immediately to work for my family in the law business. Hated it, couldn't stand to work for my brother. I guess we were too much alike. Sought like hell quickly to get away from him and ran for political office on a lark. I didn't think I had a chance. I lucked out and won in November of 1967. I remember vividly how it made me feel special. I beat some incumbent Democrat who'd been there the previous term and maybe more than one term, I can't really remember that. I won by something like 43 votes out of 10,000 cast, and I thought I was a miracle worker. Well, the truth is, and I see it now--I don't know when I first saw it--Louie Nunn, the first Republican Governor in a quarter of a century had carried this county by 5,000 votes and with me along with him, you know, on his coattails. I just squeaked out. But hell, a trained pig could have won. You know, anybody could have won in that position. (Bowen laughs) I never ran again. I was disillusioned with politics. My brother was in politics and I didn't want to be with him. And so, really the most valid reason I never ran again is I would have gotten clobbered at the next election because when I was in the legislature, as now, you had to run every two years. When the Governor ran, this county often would go Republican. When the Governor didn't run, in the off two years, almost all the county offices were Democrat. I mean, like, twenty out of twenty-one. My brother was a Republican county judge. Well, I'm a Democrat now, but back then I would have gotten murdered trying to run the second time. That was a big part of it. I would say I got disillusioned with politics and didn't think we did anything down there. But I also didn't want to get my fanny whipped. And I went back to the law practice. And again, the kids were growing up by then. By the time I was out in 1969, I was twenty-eight. And our children by then were seven, six, and five. So, we were too busy doing all those kinds of things. I don't know how I got on that track, but I never formed those kinds of friendships that I'm finding possible now in my life when I was in my twenties. BOWEN: Okay. Before you ran, were you involved in any kind of political campaigns or any type of politics? JOHNSON: Yes, I was. It was kind of indigenous to my family. My father loved politics. Hated the New Deal and Truman. Loved Eisenhower. Now, I found that in my lifetime--Daddy's been dead since '61, so he was dead about the time we went off and got married. And he'd roll over in his grave right now, because I'm a Democrat now. I don't believe in a lot of the Republican policies. I loved Eisenhower because Daddy did. But I was only twelve when he got elected--eleven really, in 1952, and then he got reelected--I see things a lot differently now. And so, later my brother got involved in politics and won here as a Fayette county judge, and I went door- to-door knocking on doors. It was a lot of fun. I found it much tougher to do it for myself. When I was selling my brother--who was my hero as a child until we fell out, which is obvious from other things I've already told you--it was very easy to sell his good points and look a person in the eye and say, "I want you to vote for my brother." That was simple. It was a lot harder when I ran in '67. I felt like I might be imposing on a family to go to their door and say, "Vote for me." That was a lot tougher. I didn't want to do that again after I did it one time. That did not come natural, to be honest with you, but politics themselves came natural to me from my family background. BOWEN: Okay. You said your political affiliation was originally with the Republican Party? JOHNSON: Um-hm. BOWEN: And then you changed to Democrat? JOHNSON: Yes. I got to vote in the Presidential election of 1960 when John Kennedy was elected. I was in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It was a very exiting time for a nineteen-year-old boy to be in college in Massachusetts when, you know, the Prince of Camelot was coming up. Nobody thought he could beat Nixon. And I got to vote in that by absentee. Kentucky was the first state in the Union to give eighteen- year-olds the right to vote, I believe. And so I could vote in Kentucky by absentee in any election after I turned eighteen-years-old. And so, following family tradition, I registered Republican. And I didn't change that till like five years ago. BOWEN: And why did you change? JOHNSON: I changed it because as I got older and as life's experiences enveloped me and I experienced them and they began to teach me. All of my friends and most of my values, whatever they are, came down more squarely as Democrat. A great majority of my friends are Democrat lawyers, Democrat professionals, Democrat common people, and my affiliations just kind of changed. I saw that when I needed help and I needed friends and wanted to share my philosophy with people, it was more and more Democrat than it was what I viewed as the Republican, which I considered getting more right and more right and more right. I was educated in a liberal arts, fine little school in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. And blacks were given every freedom in Massachusetts. And I roomed with one for six months. It was quite a shock to my nervous system, and yet I loved it. He remains a wonderful friend. He was head of the whole public parks department of New York City for a while. I'm not sure what he's doing now, but I was with him for about six months. And that was unheard of in Kentucky. I don't know how many blacks we had here in 1958 in this school. I would imagine you could count them on the fingers of both hands. But I got that liberal education. And I guess it started back in those times and when Kennedy was running. I was hearing about things that my father had cursed. Socialism, things like that. I don't consider myself a socialist at all but something started to change even then. And I'm not exactly sure why I came all the way around, but I'd say it's because when I needed people, maybe more particularly in the last five years of my life, I found them to be Democrats. And so, I just sort of said, "That's what I want to be." BOWEN: Did you find that liberal arts education changed you? JOHNSON: I think it probably did. Because I was forced to express myself hypocritically, probably at first. But I began to see that logic and my view of morality would have to bring me to a view that was different from the one I was raised with. In part I don't mean all the morals. My mother and father taught me well. They loved me and taught me all the right things to do. I seldom did them. But whenever I did wrong, I knew I was doing wrong, and that conscience would bother me. But I'm talking about other things, activism and the right of all people to be the same and to be treated the same. BOWEN: I can understand that; I went to Berea. JOHNSON: Okay. BOWEN: So I can really relate to the problems. JOHNSON: Um-hm. I think it began the change. You know, I still clung to the old way, titularly anyway. I don't think I ever really--after Williams, I don't think I ever real felt the same again. They gave me every opportunity and they treated me like one of them. And here I was a little bucolic, backwoods boy from Kentucky with coal dust in my hair. But they treated me just like I was one of them, and so I began to see that, that makes a lot of sense. All people are entitled to that. You know, and if I had to do something to help do that, I should do it. Now, I wouldn't always but I knew that I should. BOWEN: Okay. The year that you won your election, what did you think that you could take to Frankfort with you? What did you think your professional qualifications, personality-wise, personal experience, and knowledge, what did you think that you could take to Frankfort with you to make you effective? JOHNSON: You know, it's a little difficult to recall how I was thinking then, but if I look back on the truth of the matter, I was very immature when I was twenty-seven, much more immature than the years would indicate. Like, I've met people that were mature when we were fifteen. I was not that mature when I was twenty-seven. I had a basic optimism that the glass was half-full. I still have it today. With the grace of God, I have it; I don't really know exactly where--I know it doesn't come from me. It's in me but it comes from some other source. A spirit that I can be whatever it is I'm supposed to be if I'll work for it. But I think my thoughts then were, I'm a lawyer. I'm trained in public speaking. I've been educated at my state university law school. My grandfather, father, and brother are lawyers, well known in my area. So I can bring something, persuasiveness. I don't know whether it entered my mind or not to serve. I think I could, I thought that I was entitled to serve, you know. I don't know what that arrogance really represents but I think I thought I was skilled enough and educated enough and trained enough that I could be a voice for my constituents, which was then one-fourth of Fayette County, which was much smaller then. BOWEN: Um-hm. That's true. Before you went to the General Assembly, what did you think that you were supposed, that the General Assembly was supposed to do while in session? JOHNSON: Well, with some limited political experience in my brother's campaigns, I was really pretty dumb on that, but I knew we met, the legislature met every two years for sixty days. And I knew it was going to be difficult to do much in that period of time. I'd heard the rumors that the state might be better off if we met every sixty years for two days. (Bowen laughs) I now happen to subscribe to that theory a little bit. And maybe we'll get into that later, maybe we won't. But I knew that we had sixty days to pass laws or repeal laws or amend laws that were in somewhat disrepair in Kentucky. You know, Kentucky was--they may still be way too low because I think we have a magnificent state with a great heritage. But we were forty-fifth in this, and forty-seventh in that, and fiftieth in all these categories, not a progressive state. The budget was always a problem. It seemed like the chief executive officer, the Governor, was getting paid $65,000 or $70,000 to be chairman of a bankrupt state. That was depressing to me. I said, "Well, maybe I can make a difference, maybe I can't." But I didn't have a very big grasp of what all I could help accomplish. I just went down there to do the best that I could do. And I wanted to try this for sixty days. You know, I've always been a dissatisfied kind of a person. My mother used to say that about me. That I always wanted something more than what I had. And I think she was right. And it went beyond just normal ambition. I really wasn't that ambitious in the sense of, I wanted to be the best at everything I did, I just didn't want to work very hard to do it. You know what I mean? I was just never satisfied. And so being a lawyer at twenty-seven with a beautiful wife and three gorgeous children, that wasn't enough action for me. So I was kind of a ham, and I thought I could pull this off. And when I won, I took full credit for beating this guy, when I really had very little to do with it, as I mentioned earlier, you know. So I went down there very immature and not really knowing what to expect to tell you the truth. I knew there were a couple of issues I was interested in. And they were going to be damn hard to get any cooperation on either one of them. BOWEN: Okay. Did your opinion change after you had your year of experience, or your term? JOHNSON: I was more disillusioned, rather than less disillusioned, with the political situation in Kentucky when I finished. It was one of the reasons I didn't want to run again. As I say, the real reason probably was I didn't want to get beat. But I found out how little we could really do. At that point, the legislature was much less independent than it is now. It was under the thumb of the Governor. You got called into Louie Nunn's office any time you ruffled any feathers at all and told that, 'You shouldn't do this; it's not in your best interest for your district.' And then the implication was that,'If you don't do what the directives are on important things, you're not our man and we're not going to help you.' So I was a little disillusioned. I also thought we were all--me at the top of the list--lazy. I didn't think we worked until the last five days of the session, when we tried to do everything all at once at the end. I thought there was a lot of waste. And I thought I was an example of that. BOWEN: Okay. When you went to the General Assembly in '68, did you feel like you were elected by your constituents to vote exactly the way they wanted you to vote or to vote in their best interest as you perceived it? JOHNSON: The latter. BOWEN: Okay. JOHNSON: There were some things I couldn't agree on that the majority, I think, would have told me. I could tell from letters and phone calls and surveys. And if I didn't believe in it, I would not vote that way. It might have been wrong, maybe I should have, you know, but I made that distinction exactly as you did, and I chose what I perceived to be in the best interest of all of us, rather than simply the more popular way. BOWEN: I think sometimes that is the best way to do it. Because personal interest comes too much into what people want to happen. JOHNSON: I believe that's true, Judy. (Bowen laughs) I don't know. BOWEN: I think I thoroughly trust in that view. JOHNSON: You know, one of the things I was struck with and disillusioned by really was how little difference it really made what you did down there, how hard you fought, how much time you spent, how much you worked. The effect of it could be undercut in a second, you know, maybe not get out of committee because it didn't have the right support, no matter how right it was. Or no matter how wrong it was. If a favor was owed, it might get passed anyway, and there it would be on the law books. There was a guy from Martin, which is not far from your hometown. His name was Everett somebody, I can't remember his last name. He was a delightful little man. And he would vote with anything that you asked him to, on the promise that when he brought his--I think it was slot machine bill up. That he had some special interests that wanted to put slot machines in Martin, Kentucky. Is Martin County, Inez? BOWEN: Um-hm. JOHNSON: Then it was, then the name of the town was something else but it was in Martin County. He was the gentleman from Martin. BOWEN: Warfield? JOHNSON: I'll probably think of it now. I hadn't thought about it in twenty years. But he wanted us to know that he'd vote for anything that Louisville and Lexington needed that didn't have any effect on Inez. But he wanted to know that we would help him when his bill came up. And I did it. It failed anyway. It was a bad bill, and so it got beat anyway. But my point only was how didn't make much difference anyway. If we hadn't met at all, the only difference that I think of that year--and I don't want to sound too pessimistic, I'm basically an upbeat person, but it's kind of funny--if we hadn't met at all, the only difference would have been we wouldn't have spent the money it cost. You know, the affairs of state and government wouldn't have been much different. BOWEN: During your service, were there very many women there? And if so, do you remember any of them being of outstanding personality and effectiveness? JOHNSON: I wish I'd prepared a little bit for this interview, but I've moved five or six times in the last four years and I don't have all my stuff in one place. BOWEN: I know how that is. (laughs) JOHNSON: And there were two delightful women; one was from Mt. Sterling and I can't call her name, and one was from Louisville. BOWEN: Mae Kidd? JOHNSON: Yeah. Mae Kidd was the black woman from Louisville. And then there was a lady from Mt. Sterling. I can't remember her name. She was delightful too. And they had great input and they fought hard. I don't know how effective they were. I was kind of young and dumb at the time. I doubt if they were very effective. But another black from Jefferson County named Hughes Rudd McGill(??) passed the civil rights bill in Kentucky in 1968. And of course, Mae Kidd was with him all the way on it. That was significant I thought. That was significant. There was a real nice lady from Paintsville, Johnson County, and I can't call her name either. It's been too long. I can still see her because we sat fairly close together. Her husband was a politico from Johnson County. And he'd come and sit next to her during all the sessions. So, I know it was his vote probably instead of hers, although she was very nice. Those are the three I recall. And the lady from Mt. Sterling--I think she was from Mt. Sterling--and Mae Street Kidd, I thought were really warriors. You know, that was an early time for a woman to be in the legislature. I don't think there were any senators; I don't believe there were. BOWEN: I don't think there was either. I don't think so. When you were getting ready to conduct your campaign, how did you organize it? How did you go about organizing it? JOHNSON: That's an excellent question. I was later told by the smartest man in politics that I've ever known, Don Ball, that I did it wrong. And typical Graddy, I did it my way. I took a coterie of friends and I did not run with the Republican contingent from here. In the election of '87, since the Governor won big here, he swept into the legislature three out of four of us Republicans. The only Democrat to win was Foster Pettit, and if I remember correctly, he barely beat O. M. Travis Jr. He almost got his ass beaten, really. Foster never lost an election but he won a couple by just a whisker. Well, he was the only Democrat, and he was an old family friend. He and my brother went to Woodbury(??) Forest and the University of Virginia and roomed together, so I knew Foster. But Don Ball, Bob Wooley, and I were the three Republicans that won. And they along with O. M. Travis--Wooley, Ball, and Travis--I do remember this specifically--ran a campaign that Gig Henderson set up. He was an old radio advertising man here in Lexington. And they did exactly what Gig told them and they all got elected. Typically, I went against the grain. I said, "I don't want any part of that." And I had a friend in the newspaper business, and we got together and planned it out. It was a lot of fun. And he came up with this idea that since '67 has gotten very popular. I don't know if it still is or not; I don't keep up with politics very much. But we ran pictures of my friends, not of my mug and nothing self-serving coming out of my mouth, but I had friends in all different kinds, from janitors and plumbers to tennis players and athletes to lawyers and doctors and judges, put their face in the paper saying, "I'm for Graddy Johnson, because," and then they would say something. And my friend's name was Tom Buckner(??). He and I were married to sisters. That was his idea. I don't know whether it was original with him or not. He was a very creative guy. And it may have been original with him. But I found out that that radiated to all the friends of that person. So if I kept putting my face in front of people, it just wouldn't have had the same effect. And I loved that. I loved that because people would say, "I'm looking and waiting for tomorrow's paper to see who's going to support you this time," you know, which new type of person is going to come out for Graddy Johnson. And I loved that; I loved the campaign. I'm glad I did it different. I think Don was probably right. Don Ball is the shrewdest politician I've ever met in my life, a very circumspect guy that thought first and acted later. I always did the opposite. I always mouthed off first and then had to retreat if I was wrong or try to bully it if I was right. But Don said that was a mistake. He said, "You'd have won by 1,000 votes if you'd done it the way we did it." Of course, none of them won by much either but Don won pretty clean. BOWEN: Did any political organizations contact you during your election to offer their support? JOHNSON: The local Republican Party gave me $300. My brother promised me he would pay my election expenses and reneged on the promise. (Bowen laughs) That's okay. I've screwed over him many times in my life, I'm sure as the younger brother. We may have had a sibling rivalry in reverse, I don't know. I love him now, but I'm not around him much and I imagine he feels the same way about me. You know, I don't like him but I love him. But at any rate, he reneged on it, so I spent some money out of pocket, not much. I think my total expenditures were $1,800 or $2,200. That was a lot of money to a twenty-seven-year-old with kids in orthodontics, and going to the Idle Hour Country Club, and living on Kingsway Drive. I acted like I had plenty of money but I didn't. BOWEN: It's a good way to get by, just act. JOHNSON: Yeah, but it backfires eventually, you know. BOWEN: Sometimes. JOHNSON: You can't keep it up. If you try to keep it up, you'll borrow you way into poverty. BOWEN: Yeah, that's true. That's true. What was the political situation like in your district? Who did you run against in the primary? JOHNSON: Republicans didn't have a primary. Back then, the Republican head honchos would get together in a cigar-filled room and pick a candidate, and then they'd go out and recruit him and see if he'd run. And the Republicans almost never had a primary. And I didn't. I was the county judge's little brother, just out of law school. They thought I'd be an attractive candidate, and I guess they were right. I didn't have too many strikes against me at that point. And so, they just kind of handpicked their candidates, and they did that with the others, too. BOWEN: It's still like that almost in my home county. JOHNSON: Yes, I imagine it is. BOWEN: There's usually never a person running against a Republican. I didn't know there were supposed to be a primary for the longest time. I was, like, Primary? JOHNSON: They probably don't elect any Republicans either, do they? BOWEN: Huh? JOHNSON: Do they elect any Republicans around there? Oh, they do? Is it in the Sixth District or something? Does it go Republican? BOWEN: Not always, just some. JOHNSON: But it can? BOWEN: It can. JOHNSON: Um-hm. BOWEN: It can. Although most of the higher offices are held by Democrats usually. Our county judge-executive has been there for--I don't ever remember him not being there. He owns the only mortuary in two counties. JOHNSON: Um-hm. He's got it for life. BOWEN: He's a very popular guy. (laughs) Everybody likes him. JOHNSON: And he's Democrat? BOWEN: He's Democrat. So, we've elected him I don't know how many times. I changed my voting down here. But I never could understand it because he's an alcoholic. Never does a darn thing. (Johnson laughs) I could never understand. From the first time I met the man, I just took one look. JOHNSON: Well, see, getting elected doesn't-- BOWEN: --and said, "What is this man doing-- JOHNSON: --have a whole lot to do with how much work you'll do, it's how well you campaign and what you're thought of. BOWEN: I think it was how many cuts you gave people, you know-- JOHNSON: --in another walk of life? BOWEN: Yeah. Yeah, it's just really-- JOHNSON: --might be. I'm not that disillusioned. BOWEN: I've seen too many-- JOHNSON: --I think the scrutiny since Watergate now, it makes a lot different. And you'd better not be in a glass house anymore. BOWEN: I find it very interesting up here. I went to vote the other day and--yesterday. And it was nothing like at home, nothing. Because at home Election Day is like a big whoo-do(??). You see people who haven't seen in ten years. (laughs) JOHNSON: Well, this place has gotten so big. Even when I ran, I found out I didn't know as nearly as many people, even though I'd been from here at that point all my life, for twenty-seven years. Even then I didn't know as many people as I thought I knew when I got to campaigning in my own district. BOWEN: Yeah. JOHNSON: My district went both ways. Sometimes we had a Democrat and sometimes we have Republicans from my district. But as I say, in a Governor's race or a Presidential year, it usually went Republican. BOWEN: I saw too many vote-buyings even when I was younger. I did not realize what these people were doing. JOHNSON: I saw that too. BOWEN: I saw so much vote-buying and favor-giving and things like that. And I just remember that the only time that anything was challenged was when my grandfather voted. He had been dead for ten years. And my grandfather voted. JOHNSON: Wow. BOWEN: And my dad was appalled at that. JOHNSON: Somebody voted him, didn't they? BOWEN: He almost had a cow. I mean, he--(laughs)--it was terrible. JOHNSON: You know, they had already started closing liquor stores on Election Day when I came through. I don't know when that started. But all it meant was that the vote buyers would go get cases of half-pints to buy votes. BOWEN: ----------(??) JOHNSON: I never did understand whether that really worked or not. (Bowen laughs) I knew it was corrupt. And I never partook of any of it, but I saw a lot of it. And that doesn't make me innocent. I don't mean that, but I just never did it. What always fascinated me, being kind of a rebellious, defiant person anyway by personality, certainly at that time, less now--why they didn't just take the half-pint and vote any damn way they please. BOWEN: -----------(??) JOHNSON: Who's going behind the curtain with. Now, when my brother was running, I got to go behind the curtain with some people that wanted me to show them how to vote, didn't know how to vote. And I think that's improper but the election officer would let me. And I mean the opportunity for abuse was enormous. BOWEN: I remember when I turned eighteen and I was going to vote, and I walked in there, the second year out of college--I mean, the second year in college, in college, walked in there, voted. And my grandmother was there and she can't read. And she said, "Judy, I want you to go in there and vote me." They would not let me go in there with her and vote her. They said that you might cheat and not vote her, and I said, "Well, I'm her granddaughter. Why in the-- JOHNSON: --why wouldn't they want to register her vote? BOWEN: "Why wouldn't I want to do something like that?" JOHNSON: We'd probably feel the same way. BOWEN: And I said, "Why would you want to vote someone that you don't even know?" JOHNSON: What did they do, send the sheriff in with her or something? BOWEN: No, they sent a person from the opposite party in with her to vote her and she's a Republican. JOHNSON: Well, who knows that that person didn't cheat? BOWEN: Well, she said that she felt like he didn't do her right. She can tell, you know, how the Republican and the Democratic things were up here. JOHNSON: Oh, yes. He may have voted a Democrat. BOWEN: He did. She said, "He voted me on the bottom one." And the Republican at home is always--which I think it is everywhere--is always on the top. JOHNSON: Um-hm. BOWEN: And she said he voted her on the bottom one, and stuff like that, and I thought it just appalled me. JOHNSON: So trying to avoid abuse, they allowed, it's a two-vote difference. BOWEN: Yeah. It just really-- JOHNSON: --Foster Pettit got elected that way one time in a precinct here called Aylesford. BOWEN: Um-hm. JOHNSON: He was running for mayor against Jim Amato. And it turned out that the voting machine tabulated the votes backwards in that precinct. BOWEN: Really? JOHNSON: And they filed a lawsuit in circuit court and they reversed it. And I think it was a forty-five vote difference when they switched it. Unbelievable. And that made the difference in the whole election in the whole city. BOWEN: I have to change this. JOHNSON: Okay. BOWEN: I have to turn this tape over. [Pause in recording.] JOHNSON: You know, when you brought up by your story a wonderful reason to vote-- BOWEN: --yeah. (laughs)-- JOHNSON: --forever, but I have given a lot of thought in my lifetime to this franchise that we've got here. Without being too sentimental, I think we're very lucky that we screw it up most of the time, vote for the wrong reasons, and a lot of times get the wrong people because lot of times there's no good choice; the wrong people are running on both sides. Or we don't recognize the difference sometimes. But the idea that we can go and select our people and make them accountable to us at the ballot, that to me is unique about this country. There are very few elections I haven't voted in since I turned eighteen years old for that reason. I'm scared not to. I don't want to carp and bitch about the way the government is run and then say, "Oh, by the way, have you seen my voting record?" (Bowen laughs) "You know, I don't vote but I can sure complain." BOWEN: ------------(??) one time in the last five years. JOHNSON: That would not just be hypocritical, but, you know, we are in danger. This last Governor's race in the Democrat primary where Jones won the primary, I can't remember who was second, but I don't--it may have been Baesler second and Martha Wilkinson third or fourth--it turned out that like 14 percent of the population that could vote--they may not all be registered--but 14 percent of the population of Kentucky virtually assured who the next Governor was going to be. In other words, that's how many of the total voting, eligible people voted for Jones in that primary because they had a whole bunch of candidates in it, and the Democrat was not going to lose in the general election. BOWEN: Wasn't there only 30 percent of the total population counting both parties that turned out that was eligible to vote? JOHNSON: Yes, that's what I remember reading. BOWEN: It was either 30 or lower. JOHNSON: Twenty-eight or 30. BOWEN: Something close to that-- JOHNSON: --or something like that. BOWEN: Something very close to that. JOHNSON: That's a little scary, see. So as a practical matter, we need to exercise our franchise, particularly if we're going to complain like most of us are doing now. You know, everybody wants to throw the bums out. If you can pull-- BOWEN: --especially after that check-writing. (laughs) JOHNSON: If you could throw them all out with one lever, or you see Carroll Hubbard and her husband Carroll Hubbard both get beat the same day, that's an anti-vote. I don't think it's necessarily the check scandal. I know that didn't help him, but I think people are turned off that she is married to a man in Western Kentucky and says, "I live in Eastern Kentucky." And I see that she has roots but I mean that just doesn't fit with what a Kentuckian thinks is right. I think if we could pull one lever and throw all the bastards out. All of them! That we would probably do that, that's the climate. And it may be the climate everywhere. I think George Bush could get beat. I don't think Clinton is the one who's going to do it, but if a Mario Cuomo was running, or if Clinton catches fire, and that's not a slam on Bush, it's more a product of the time. We're sick and tired of being hoodwinked. BOWEN: Well, and hearing too every day about how the budget can never be balanced, and then you look at TV, and you look at the government, and you look at the Army, and you see the things that they've had since 1945, since World War II, sitting there-- JOHNSON: It really looks hypocritical, doesn't it? BOWEN: Things that are not useful. JOHNSON: They take care of their own. BOWEN: Well, especially hospital gowns. They have a supply of about 300,000 hospital gowns with no backs, with backs in them, you know, not the kind that you actually use in the examining room anymore. They had the plastic--oh, they have like ten varieties that adds up to about either 200,000 or 300,000 hospital gowns. JOHNSON: Is a great waste, isn't it? BOWEN: They were never going to be used because they're buying new ones as they go along. And they said, "Well, what happens if we have a war?" And I said, "If we a really huge war, I don't think anybody is going to care if they have a hospital gown or not." (laughs) Why don't we have a--I think a comedian said it the best for me, "Why don't we have a big yard sale? (Johnson laughs) And sell some of this junk-- JOHNSON: --yeah-- BOWEN: --that we have stockpiled?" And not all of it is junk. Some of it are medical supplies that we actually don't need. JOHNSON: People could use. BOWEN: Tools that people in other countries, I'm sure, would be lining up to purchase because I know the Soviet Union did it. JOHNSON: Um-hm. I think I'm naive about it. I think it ought to be--it seems that simple. BOWEN: Or at least give it away. So you don't have to pay people to go through every day and count to see if we've got everything. You know, I would rather see them give it away to someone who's going to use it than to keep it stockpiled and have no one that's going to ever use it. JOHNSON: But a lot of this country is now run by bureaucracy, and they have to perpetuate their own jobs. So it suits them fine if there's 18,000 employees that have to go do that. BOWEN: That's what scares me, though, is that someone-- JOHNSON: --you know, I think it's a pyramid that's inverted and it's got to fall. It's falling right now in the economic climate, in my opinion. BOWEN: I think ----------(??) JOHNSON: Lawyers are an example, too. How much money can we charge? How many hours can we bill? BOWEN: That's what's scary to me. (laughs) JOHNSON: And who's going to pay for it while the economy is drained, and we're on deficit spending, and the national budget cost so much in interest everyday before you start? I don't--I have no idea what the answer is. BOWEN: I don't either, but I do think we need to get rid of some junk. I mean, I seriously do. The government owns so many houses that-- especially in Texas, the thing that bothers me, a lot of the housing in the inner cities in Texas is owned by the federal government. They have repossessed during the savings and loan crisis and everything, they repossessed a lot of those homes. And do you know they're just boarded up? JOHNSON: Unused. BOWEN: Unused totally, going to pot totally, and they've got families living on the streets. JOHNSON: But, Judy, don't be too negative. BOWEN: I know. JOHNSON: We still have a lot going for us in this country. BOWEN: I know but it just bothers me when I see things like that, when I know that, which they're doing it now, which I do give them credit. JOHNSON: I think we got to start with our own lives-- BOWEN: --yeah-- JOHNSON: --and live them efficiently and environmentally sound and make the difference there. I could get real worried about starving people in Ethiopia, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it. I can do something about my conduct today that might make it a better place at least for a few people. BOWEN: And you can volunteer, like I think a lot of people do in the homeless shelters here. JOHNSON: That's right. Yeah. The action means more than the words, although we can all poor-mouth what we've let ourselves into. We're accountable for it, and don't worry, we're paying for it. Not just with money but we'll get the bill. BOWEN: I think we pay for everything that we've ever done wrong, and I think we're seeing right now the products of what we've did, what we've done to the kids. JOHNSON: I think you're right. BOWEN: In the inner cities, even in Lexington, the problems that we're having now with the gangs. I look back and I think-- JOHNSON: --people wouldn't believe it that didn't go downtown late at night and see it. BOWEN: Oh, I have been down here at three o'clock in the morning. And I've wanted to stop ask this like ten-year-old little kid, "What in the world are you doing out at 3 o'clock in the morning?" JOHNSON: Can you believe the number of street people and the affluent- looking people that are on the streets as well as street homeless? BOWEN: I mean, well, I can understand you being out at three o'clock in the morning if you've been to an all-night place to eat. You got out of a movie late, went to eat and stuff, if you're over twenty-one. I want to know what these kids under sixteen are doing out. Where are their parents? It scares me. JOHNSON: There's a subculture here that you'd have to see to believe. BOWEN: It scares me. Every time we go down here every Saturday and Friday night, and we drive around, and we always say just, 'Thank God we have somewhere to go home to.' JOHNSON: Oh, yeah. BOWEN: Because, you know, we didn't miss the closing hour--I can't remember what the hour is over at the homeless shelter--if you're not in there by six or seven o'clock, then you don't have anywhere to sleep that night, you have to sleep on the streets. I said, you know, "At least we're assured we have a key to get into an apartment, and we can get in there and sleep, no matter what time it is when we go in there." JOHNSON: A lot to be grateful for. BOWEN: Oh, and we have food on our table. It's like--(laughs)--I told my roommate, because she's studying to take the bar and she's complaining about not having any money because you can't work, and I said, "Well, at least you can go buy you a bag of beans and fry potatoes every night." JOHNSON: That's right. BOWEN: "And you'll eat beans and potatoes, and you'll have plenty of everything." JOHNSON: And you won't die of it. BOWEN: And you won't die of not doing anything for two months, for eight weeks she's complaining. (laughs) I think we've covered just about everything I've got. JOHNSON: Oh, wonderful. BOWEN: We have covered everything that I've gotten written down here. You've talked about all the leaders in the government. JOHNSON: You know, the areas that I was interested in, one I didn't mention them, and they're not too important anymore, although one is a hot topic right now. I was one of the sponsors of a bill to legalize abortion. And I don't want to take any credit for that. Some woman's group that I had campaigned before asked me to look into it. It had no chance at all. I sponsored the bill. I signed the bill down there and was laughed out of the Governor's office by Governor Nunn. And it was probably not as strong as Roe v Wade, the absolute right of a woman in the first trimester to have an abortion with or without anybody's consent. It seems like that bill itself legalized abortion, where in the case of rape or incest, or the life of the mother or baby, or the health of the mother, which could be mental health. So it was liberal for Kentucky in 1967. It had no shot. It had absolutely no chance in Kentucky to pass. And I'm not saying that it should have passed, I'm just saying it's a topic I think men are unqualified to vote on. If men had to have babies, abortion would be a sacrament. (both laugh) It wouldn't be something that would either be illegal or legal. BOWEN: (laughs) It would be, Thank God. JOHNSON: It would be a sacrament. It would be something that we would all be worshipping. So, I really think they talk about pro-choice, pro-life. You know, pro-life is not pro-choice. Pro-life is anti- choice. I've learned this in social work from Joanne Bell, a brilliant woman who taught me in two courses that those as misnomers. I mean, they act like pro-something, they're really anti-a woman's choice. That's fine. I can respect that view, but let's call it, you don't have a choice or you do have a choice. You know, let's call it the way it is. But my premise is that a man really shouldn't be allowed to vote on it. And yet, men have written those laws or failed to write to them. That's part of the problem. So I was interested in abortion. I thought there were certain times when a woman ought to have the absolute choice, and I was hissed out of Louie Nunn's office for that. (Bowen laughs) Then there was a chiropractor's bill I wanted to beat, and I was wrong about it. I didn't know I was wrong. The local medical society wanted me to make sure the chiropractors didn't get the same benefits for insurance coverage that "real" doctors, they called them, got. And so I voted for it. My dear friend, and I still love him, Dave Stephens(??), is an orthopedic surgeon, a bright, wonderful, kind, good Republican, and a great Loretta Lynn fan. BOWEN: I like Loretta, too. (laughs) JOHNSON: I love Dave but he convinced me that I didn't want them to be covered under insurance. That they were somewhat quacks in their profession. Well, now that I have a little back problem and I'm in my fifties, I find that sometimes a chiropractor can help me a hell of a lot more than an orthopedic can. So I think I was wrong about that. Plus I was wrong that if qualified, that they don't have the same freedom than anybody has, if they're trained and qualified. And one other bill that I remember--these are about the only ones I--there were hundreds of bills that passed through us--we changed the divorce law in Kentucky to require a sixty-day waiting period before a final decree of divorce was entered, if there were children under eighteen. And I thought that was good. It's a long wait for people that really want to get a divorce but it allows a cooling-off period in case they don't get the divorce. That we fought like hell for. And it was 2 o'clock in the morning on the final day that it passed. It finally passed. We had stopped the clock at 3 minutes to 12:00, because the legislature has to adjourn at midnight, but it doesn't say by what clock. So they just stopped the clock at three minutes to midnight--(Bowen laughs)--on the final day we were allowed to meet for the 1968 session. And two and a half hours later, I remember driving home that night and being really kind of wired up because the session had gone all night. And we finished at 2:30 in the morning. Then they moved the clock to midnight and adjourned the session. It was 2:30 in the morning, and we did pass that change and the so-called interlocutory decree came into being that required, you can decide all the issues but you can't grant the final decree of divorce where children under eighteen are involved. And I enjoyed--that was fun; that almost made me run again. I said, "That's action. That's something where I can have a voice. And as a lawyer, I've seen how quick divorces can cause great ill to children and to married people." Well, I did not know then that twenty years later I'd be on the other end of the deal but my children were grown. So life's experiences have tempered a lot of those feelings. I don't feel nearly as gung-ho about putting an end to the legislature or getting too excited about them while they're running. And now in my government job, we review every bill that comes before them--that's hundreds of bills--for impact on an urban-county government. As an urban-county government lawyer, we are the only urban-county government in this Commonwealth of Kentucky. There is no other merged city-county government, as we became in 1974. It's a unique form of government. So we have to be really careful when they just put a few words in about what counties can do, whether it's going to apply to an urban county. So, I know starting in December really with pre-filing--some of it before that--but certainly in January, February, and March, we were working till ten o'clock at night reviewing these damn bills that looked like these yahoos had that put through without much thought many times. Now, there were some good bills, don't get me wrong. But a lot of bills we had to study and put under the microscope and decide, if this son-of-a-bitch passes, what is it going to mean to Lexington- Fayette Urban-County Government? Sometimes we'd send people down to try to beat the bills, and we had some success when we had to but it was a monumental task to read every word that they wrote. Now, I didn't read every bill. I'm assigned to certain things, like board of elections, and environmental committee, and a few other areas. And in those areas, all those would come here and I'd have to read them and make comments on them. And I'd better be right, you know, because it might pass, and I might miss something. So I don't know. I've still got my fingers crossed, you never know. Some of those bills won't become law till July. (Bowen laughs) Now I may not find out that I blew it until then, but I don't get too excited anymore either way. If they met for two days every sixty years, it probably would be all right. But if they meet every two years for sixty days, that's probably all right too. Looks like the investigations they're having now are going to make a few people a lot more careful. I'm glad I didn't get offered any bribes, and I'm certainly glad I never accepted any bribes when I was in there. I think it would have been traumatic to go through this period that some of these people must be going through right now if they did do it and they know they're on tape. BOWEN: I can't imagine how traumatic it would be for the person, if you really do believe that government essentially is good. JOHNSON: Very disillusioning, isn't it? BOWEN: Like I know a lot of people from my area did. They go up there and they said, you know, "You wouldn't believe the things that people tell you when you get there." JOHNSON: I had one effort made to sway me with money. And it wasn't a direct bribe. It would have been hard to do anything with it but I understood it. Somebody had looked--someone had a financial statement, knew I was in debt to a certain bank and made just a little side comment in passing, that a twenty-seven year old just starting out, you know, doesn't need to be saddled with debt early in his life and have that interfere with enjoying life. And he happened to be representing a bonding company. (Bowen laughs) And now they're all handled by the courts but it was very big business then. He wore lizard shoes that breathed. I still know him. I don't see him anymore, because the bonding business is out of business. But he didn't mention any dollar amount and he didn't say he was going to wipe out my debt at Bank of Commerce; he didn't say that, but he said enough, that if I had bit, you know, and said, "Well, you're right about that. I could use some help," then I might have found out. I would have found out if he was going to say, "Okay, we'll do that for you in return for this." That's the closest I ever came. And that probably in Kentucky is just de rigueur. That's probably just the way people talk to get deals done. You'd never get a conviction based on what I heard. I wasn't looking for a conviction anyway. But by and large, I was treated honorably. And it was overall, it was a good experience when I look back on it. I later worked for a department and went back to the legislature some twenty years after '68, and saw a lot of my friends were still down there. I mean, some people had, not a lot of them, eight or ten were still there after twenty years and still doing the same thing. And I don't doubt that some of them do very good, workmanlike jobs, men and women. BOWEN: Did you know Hoover Dawahare? JOHNSON: Yeah. Yeah, he was there. BOWEN: I interviewed him-- JOHNSON: --um-hm-- BOWEN: --a couple of weeks ago, finished up my interviews with him. JOHNSON: He's an interesting fellow. BOWEN: (laughs) He's very interesting. JOHNSON: Very entertaining, isn't he? And smart as a tree full of owls. BOWEN: He remembers everything, every single. JOHNSON: See, that's what makes him a great politician. BOWEN: Oh yeah, it does. He remembered my name and everything, complimented me on losing weight. JOHNSON: Oh my. BOWEN: Perfect politician. Perfect. JOHNSON: Well, if that's what you had to go by, you'd vote for him over somebody you didn't know, wouldn't you? BOWEN: Well, I've heard a lot about him. I know-- JOHNSON: You might not. (laughs) BOWEN: No, actually, I probably would vote for Hoover. I've heard a lot of really good things about him and the Mountain Caucus and their help on the roads and things. Some of the roads that we have gotten have really attracted quite a few people to the area. Just looking right now, everybody calls it the new road, but it's 465. JOHNSON: Um-hm. BOWEN: And now we have a four-lane highway that bypasses Inez that and it goes completely to Prestonsburg, which picks up with the Mountain Parkway. JOHNSON: There's a beautiful lake not far from Inez that I drove back by on the way to Pikeville, and-- BOWEN: --Dewey Lake. JOHNSON: It was just gorgeous. BOWEN: Yeah, it's Dewey Lake. It's pretty nice. JOHNSON: And you wouldn't have had that without Hoover. BOWEN: No, Hoover built that. Hoover has done-- JOHNSON: --taking care of his people. BOWEN: Oh, he's done quite a bit. We were really--and with his help, even though he was from Hazard, up in that area, he connected with a lot of people from our area. JOHNSON: Um-hm. BOWEN: And they all got together. JOHNSON: He's a great communicator. BOWEN: Oh gosh, he is wonderful. JOHNSON: Well, you're not talking to me about federal races but I noticed John Doug Hays, a bright young lawyer from Pikeville, won. That's the race that Carroll Hubbard lost. In fact, I think she finished third. He'll be formidable opposition for Hal Rogers, who's been virtually unbeatable until they redrew the districts for federal office, for Congress. But I wouldn't be surprised if John Doug Hays wouldn't beat Hal Rogers. I don't know that but times are changing, you know. BOWEN: I think a lot of things are going to be changing because I think the one thing that really upsets so many people is when we heard bounced checks, we were all talking about it at work and everything, and we thought, Oh, my goodness. I wonder if they went over $150. That's just terrible. And then we actually heard that some of them were up in the $90,000 range. We were going-- JOHNSON: They won't let me do that without coming to get me. BOWEN: We could understand, understand--(laughs)--a $5.00. JOHNSON: How far you think you could go with that? BOWEN: Well, I bounced one check in my lifetime and I have had a checking account since I have been seventeen. JOHNSON: And that was probably inadvertent. BOWEN: Well, it was the bank's error, and they didn't even, instead depositing $500 to my bank account, they deposited me $50. (laughs) JOHNSON: Took a zero off of it, so your check really wasn't supposed to bounce. BOWEN: I just about died. I went down, and I asked them-- JOHNSON: --but you're not going to brook this kind of behavior, are you? BOWEN: I said, you know, "What's going to happen? What are you all going to do about it?" And they went ahead and they called everybody that I had only written one check, and they called-- JOHNSON: --told them it was their error? BOWEN: And told them, they said-- JOHNSON: --put it back through-- BOWEN:--"We have made an error. Just go ahead and send it back through." And, "We've already sent it through twice; we can't send it anymore." And they said, "Send it again, and we'll send you the money because we did something really stupid." JOHNSON: (laughs) Bless your heart, Judy. BOWEN: And I thought it was so funny. I was, like-- JOHNSON: --that should make you intolerant of your representatives. BOWEN: Oh, I am very--I can understand a slight error. JOHNSON: You know, I don't have any patience much for it. Of course, I should have more patience now. You know, in closing, I would say if I'd been thirty-seven instead of twenty-seven, I might have done a better job. But actually, if I'd been forty-seven, only then did I start to grow up a little bit on some of the things that I was telling you about that were part of my earlier personality. They're still part of my personality but I begin to get a little leavening and see that you don't have to lead with your mouth. You know, you can keep quiet and listen and learn. And then you might be able to help somebody. I don't think I was much help to my constituents while I was down there. I think the reason I criticized is that I thought it was a waste because I was not doing very well. I couldn't see that we could get anything done. I should have pitched in and worked harder and run again and maybe been able to do something to help. So, I don't feel so judgmental anymore about it; I really don't. BOWEN: Well, I want to thank you very much for doing this interview. It's been very entertaining. JOHNSON: Well, good. I've enjoyed being with you, Judy. BOWEN: Thanks. [End of interview.] Johnson (House 1968, 54th district; Republican) recalls his family’s tradition in law and coal mining, his education, personal life, and recent study in social work. He highlights his disillusionment with politics, his switch in party affiliation, the impact of national politics and policies, and the corruptibility of politicians. He concludes with a discussion of his work as a (Lexington – Fayette County) urban county government lawyer and how his experience as a legislator influences his current work. insert here