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2006-02-09 Interview with C.M. "Hank" Hancock, Febraury 9, 2006 Leg001:2006OH40 Leg 95 0:56:58 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Frankfort (Ky.) Kentucky -- Officials and employees. Kentucky. Governor (1971-1974 : Ford) Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll) Franklin County (Ky.) Frankfort (Ky.) Ford, Wendell H., 1924- Carroll, Julian M. (Julian Morton), 1931- University of Kentucky Agriculture Capitol grounds World War II campaigning legislative independence party factions state employees House 1974-1995, 57th district Speaker of the House Pro Tem, 1980 C.M. "Hank" Hancock; interviewee Jan Romond; interviewer 2006OH040_LEG095_Hancock 1:|12(1)|34(8)|51(4)|77(2)|103(3)|119(11)|137(2)|154(4)|175(6)|207(4)|232(10)|249(16)|263(14)|283(15)|303(15)|329(10)|349(4)|373(1)|398(1)|413(3)|440(7)|461(8)|483(8)|503(8)|515(6)|531(9)|549(2)|561(2)|579(9)|592(12)|608(7)|628(3)|644(13)|683(6)|710(9)|732(6)|753(3)|767(1)|784(14)|804(11)|818(11)|833(2)|855(7)|869(1)|884(3)|897(6)|912(2)|934(3)|950(3)|963(2)|977(11)|991(7)|1003(2)|1016(12)|1034(6)|1052(13) audiotrans Legit interview ROMOND: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative C. M. "Hank" Hancock, who represented Franklin County in the Fifty-Seventh District from 1974 to 1995. The interview was conducted by Jan Romond for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project, on Thursday, February 9, 2006, in the home of Mr. Hancock, in Frankfort, Kentucky, at 2:25 PM.This afternoon, I'm talking with Mr. Hank Hancock. Mr. Hancock, could you please tell me where and when you were born and did you grow up there? HANCOCK: Well, I was, I was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, uh, at our local Kings Daughters Hospital and I was born in the third day of March, 1936. ROMOND: Did you grow up there, where-- HANCOCK: --and I've lived in Frankfort, then I've lived in Frankfort all my life, uh, short spent, uh, prior to entering school, uh, my father, we moved to Jefferson County-- ROMOND:--um-hm-- HANCOCK: --for a short time during the end, towards the end of the Second World War. Otherwise, I've lived in Franklin County all my life. My family on both sides, uh, date back several centuries in Franklin County. So it's a, uh, my paternal and maternal side were both from Franklin County and grew up there. ROMOND: Um-hm. Who were your parents? HANCOCK: My parents, my, my mother was a LeCompte(??). And, and the LeComptes(??) were very prominent name in Frankfort, but they were both farmers. Uh, my, they were farmers on the side and they sort of lived in what's called west Frankfort area and my, uh, my father's, uh, parents were also farmers. My grandfather was a lawyer; uh, George W. Hancock, the name and it's, the "W" stands for Washington. (laughs) So, he was, he was a lawyer, George Washington Hancock was the, I think, the fourth of something like that and a traditional name. Uh, but, uh, he was a gentleman farmer more than anything. Lived on a farm, and lived off of that farm and then so I've had a strong background in, in agriculture, but my father was the only person who left the farm and went to work in sales for Sears Company, uh, back then called Sears Roebuck Company, for years. ROMOND: Um-hm. What about extended family? Do you have extended family in this area, or when you were growing up? HANCOCK: We were, there, there were in my particular family, the, I had, uh, seven siblings, uh, uh, brothers and sisters. And, and, uh, since lost two of those, two brothers and, and, uh, we, we were here. We have of course(??) several cousins. The, the fam-, my father's family, there was, he had a, my father had a sister that had, uh, uh, two children, uh, and those two children produced several offspring. Uh, uh, uh, so they were a wide variety of cousins, uh, from my children. We had four children and then my brother--[telephone rings]-- [Pause in recording.] HANCOCK: --and I had, I had a brother and sister that, uh, several had, had a couple of children, so, we, we've got quite an extended family. Still in the area, mostly. ROMOND: Um-hm. And you had cousins when you were growing up ----------- -(??)-- HANCOCK: --yes, I did, we had, we had cousins from, like I said, my, my mother and father on both sides of their family go back to several generations in, in Franklin County. In fact, it's interesting that, that, uh, my, uh, grandfather, uh, used to tell me and he go through the rumors, and I heard him, heard him say years ago when I was a small kid that they were the, the minority who didn't want Frankfort to be the seat of government. ROMOND: Really. HANCOCK: Uh, they did not like the idea of, of Frankfort being full of politicians in--(laughs)--in, in that day because they were farmers and, and didn't want that to happen. So, like most people find it hard to believe there, there's a group of people in Frankfort that never did want the State Capitol located here. ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. And which grandfather was that? HANCOCK: Hancock. ROMOND: Your Hancock grandfather. HANCOCK: Um-hm, um-hm. ROMOND: Did you grow up with both sets of grandparents in your life? HANCOCK: Basically, I didn't. I, I, my, they were both living when I, when I was born, but I lost my, my maternal grandfather, uh, when I was three years old. So, uh, that, and then I lost my paternal grandfather when, when I was about ten or eleven. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: And so but my mother, my grandmothers on both sides lived to, uh, a ripe age and became, became very close to, uh, to, uh, very close. ROMOND: Um-hm. Do you remember, um, where you grew up, what was it like, what was the geographical area like? HANCOCK: You know, that's an interesting question, because people that don't live in Frankfort will never understand this. We actually, the farm that we lived on, and when I was, uh, up until the time that I, we still went to the city schools, even though we were on the farm. My, I had my two older brothers, my older brother, and my older sister, went to, uh, the city school. They actually went to a Catholic school. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: And they rode the county bus in off the farm and dropped them off in the city and then it went on clear to other town, in town to the county school. And, um, that was the climate I grew up with on the one farm. And, uh, then my other father's farm was clear across on the other side of town. And, of course, at that point, you had to go clear through town and go out on visits on Sundays, which was where we usually went to the other, the other family for Sunday dinner. And it was kind of like an all day ride. Uh, then I-64 came through Frankfort and actually on one end of Frankfort went through my mat-, my, my grandmother's mother's farm on that end and came back on the, the other end towards Lexington, went through the other end of it. So, it was just a matter of seconds to get from one farm to the other today. But, uh, with that type of background and then, then we moved to the city. Uh, when I was approximately, um, still not in school yet. Uh, in, into the, when I say east Frankfort it was, was a part of the city but it was at the outer city limits. And then, when I was in the third grade we moved downtown Frankfort, uh, within a block of the State Capitol building. ROMOND: Really. HANCOCK: In, in south Frankfort. And that's where I grew up, in south Frankfort down, right below the Governor's mansion. You could actually walk right out our the front door and see the Governor's mansion. And when I was a kid, I grew up in an environment of, of actually the Capitol grounds was, was our playground. All, all the kids in south Frankfort, it was our playground, the Capitol grounds. And we had no idea what the Capitol stood for or--(laughs)--anything else I mean, it was just happened to be something was in town. A nice place to play. ROMOND: It was a park, sort of. HANCOCK: We, we roller-skated. I actually roller-skated through the halls of the Capitol. (Romond laughs) I've actually climbed in the Capitol Dome in, in, in, as a kid. Uh, we had a secret way to get up there. We'd climb up the Capitol Dome; look out until guard would catch us and all. And, uh, one real interesting thing, I, I guess, I was sort of the first pigeon exterminator that was ever at the Capitol. I, I had a BB gun and the guards at the Capitol would let me get up in the Capitol, because to shoot the pigeons--(laughs)--to get them off the Capitol ground so they, they wouldn't make a mess of, of Goebel's statue and a few other things, so. ROMOND: How old were you? HANCOCK: I was, I was probably in the, in the, uh, fifth grade, sixth grade, something like that. Uh, but we, that, that's the type of group we had, had a very close group of, of Frankfort, uh, city Frankfort kids that grew up. And, of course I had the background, I was fortunate to have the background of the, of the rural farm community also. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: So it made a very good lifestyle for me to, to grow up in that environment. Uh, we all went to the Catholic school, small Catholic school, which is, no longer has a high school. Um, and all our friends went to the public school, and around. I mean we had friends that, all over and we just, we just had a wonderful time in a, what we call a real small city. And what they did in the Capitol and around the premises never bothered us at all. (Romond laughs) I can remember going up to the Capitol at, and, and, and I went to the Capitol and served as a voluntary page-- ROMOND: --really-- HANCOCK: --because they would get me, they would get you, if you go down and get them a cup of coffee or bring them something, and you'd bring it back up and handed it to him, and they'd tip you a nickel or a dime or something for that. So, in that way I wa--actually was a, was an, an, a just unannounced page, I just-- ROMOND: --sure-- HANCOCK: --happened to be on the floor. (laughs) And, and, and the guys come to me (??), they would just, senators would understand, they, "Boy, get me something!" (laughs) Something like that. So, that's, that's the type of background I had as a kid. I didn't even, quite frankly, I didn't even know what they did for years when this was going on. I didn't know what a senator was, or a state representative was, even then I knew, always knew who the Governor was, because the Governor was the person that let you play basketball with the gov-, at the mansion. ROMOND: Really! HANCOCK: A good Governor. Now, the Governor that was, a bad Governor was one who took the basketball goal down and you couldn't play basketball. ROMOND: That was your criteria. HANCOCK: (laughs) That's right. (Romond laughs) That's how, that's how you selected who was a good Governor and a bad Governor. ROMOND: (laughs) So you were very familiar with the Capitol before you ever worked there. HANCOCK: Yes, indeed. Yes, yes, very familiar. I, with the building itself and with the, with the grounds that they had. And, and, and, but, but not familiar with what it was supposed to be doing. (laughs) ROMOND: Yeah, right (??). HANCOCK: If that makes sense. ROMOND: Right. It didn't enter into your universe at the time. HANCOCK: That's, that's exactly right. ROMOND: (laughs). Um, and you were a child during World War II. HANCOCK: Um-hm. ROMOND: But did you know any family members, or neighbors, relatives who were called up to the war? Who had to leave to serve? HANCOCK: Well, yes, that, that was the days that, that most everybody was. My father was, was over that(??), and, and did not, was not called. Uh, tried to enlist and couldn't, they wouldn't take him some reason, and of course he ended up working, uh, he worked in Tennessee while we lived here at the, at the Knoxville and, and the plant down there, and then he worked in Louisville, and that's the reason we moved to Louisville for that short time. Um, but some of our, one of our, I guess, my brother, my older brother and myself best friend's father was military and fulltime, uh, military, and, and gone all of the time. And several of the neighbor's kids were in the same, same boat, and of course the young, uh, boys graduating from high school, I mean you'd, you, you'd see them go off all, every, every, every year after they graduated. They'd be talking about that in most of the family, and things, so I remember that. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: And of course it was your, your chosen toy of, of the day was a gun. I mean, you, I mean you, you'd shoot them up, bang them up, or they'd, if you weren't shooting Indians, you were shooting Germans and Japs, I guess it was. Or, but you grew up in that sort of a background and, and played, played that, those games, war games all the time and, uh, things ----------(??) though. It was a, uh. ROMOND: What do you recall about your grade school that you went to? HANCOCK: Grade School, well, I called--(laughs)--I, I had, sometimes hate to say this but I'm, I, I'm a, I guess I was a personality who was, who, who got an education because I was afraid of corporal punishment. (Romond laughs) And, and, uh, we, we had some very, uh, strong-minded teachers that, uh, that didn't mind giving you a whack if you needed one. And, and, uh, I can remember school as being a, uh, fairly challenging for me, because I'm, I'm sure it was hard to get my attention and until I got in, and I know, I do know that when I got, uh, in high school, my first year in high school, I had a wonderful teacher that told me I better get on the ball and catch up because I sure am behind. (laughs) And, and I finally caught up with where I should have been. So, it enabled me to get through college at UK, so. And here, so(??). ROMOND: Do any teacher stand out in your mind, either from grade school or high school? HANCOCK: Oh yeah, yeah, they, that, several teachers that, that--one, one teacher, a nun, uh, Sister Marie Frederick was a, a, a very--and Sister Timothy-Maria is, is the one that really straightened me out. (laughs) ROMOND: What grades did you have them? HANCOCK: I, I had Sister Marie Frederick as, as a senior in, in junior and senior in high school and, and Sister Marie Frederick as a freshman, sophomore group and then so. And there're others in my younger years. It's just, I was--they were very good. Uh, I just, I didn't, didn't have--I had a hard time understanding what I was there for. (both laugh) Until I got far enough behind and I had to find out. ROMOND: What did kids do for fun? HANCOCK: We played, we--well, the truth of the matter is that we did a lot, a lot of playing around the Capitol at night. We, we did, capture-the-flag was a major game. I mean, if you ever looked the Capitol grounds and you could see the center sidewalk going right up to the middle of the Capitol. Now both sides of there, two big landscaped piece of ground, and they were still exactly the same way. And, and the center of the, the walkway was always no-man's land and the other side, of course, I had the flag as a perfect place. There's never was a more perfect place invented for a game called, capture-the-flag than the Capitol grounds. And we did that for summers after summer, after summer. And, of course, we'd, there was no television. Uh, and so you had, you played together and got along well and did just some wonderful things together. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: And I don't know, uh, how we stayed out of trouble so much but we did. We stayed out late during the summer times and, and, uh, quite frankly had, um, and a lot of discipline. Oversight because we knew better than to get in much trouble. ROMOND: Were your parents living on the farm while you were living in the city, after your family had moved to the city? Your grandparents ------------(??) HANCOCK: Yes, yes. Right, my, after my--well, at that point in high school, after the, they still lived there(??). In fact the farms, I lived, uh, I ended up being part of the settlement that sold both farms after I-- ROMOND:--oh-- HANCOCK: --got older, so yeah. ROMOND: Um-hm. And did you ever have to work on those farms-- HANCOCK: --yes, I did-- ROMOND:--and your brothers and sisters? HANCOCK: Yes, yes, we did, we, we did. I, I tell you what, I hated farm work. It was hard. It was hard work in the summertime. I mean, it was rough work, but, and when we, when we lived out there, actually you had to get up, get up at four o'clock in the morning, go milk the cows and that thing. I mean, that was a, that was kind of rough work, and freeze to death in the wintertime, schools, and all that, but. I went to work at a grocery store when I was twelve years old, as a delivery boy, for a little grocery. And we had a bicycle with a big basket on it. And, uh, so I was, I was earning money when I was twelve years old, and this kind of kept me from having to work on the farm as much. And, and I, I, people always said, 'Well, you know, it was either that or working on the farm.' I said, "I'd rather deliver those groceries than, than work on the farm." Now, my brother spent a good deal of time working on the farm, uh, much more so than I did. Uh, and but, I'd, I did some of it. Enough to realize I didn't want to be a farmer. ROMOND: Did any of your siblings end up becoming farmers? HANCOCK: Nope. ROMOND: Or having farms? HANCOCK: No, uh, not, not a, not a one of them. Um, and, and none of my, my, my cousin did go back and later on in life after he retired, bought a farm, and went back to farming, so. But none of them stayed on the farm at that point. ROMOND: Um-hm. Where were you in your siblings? HANCOCK: Age-wise? ROMOND: I mean, were you the oldest or, which ----------(??)? HANCOCK: I'm third-in-line, an oldest sister and an older brother. ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. And-- HANCOCK: --and five younger. ROMOND: When you were in high school, did you do any activities outside of school that you can remember, like sports, or? HANCOCK: I played basketball, right. I played basketball and, and, uh, that was the thing that you, you really did in my school. Um, I mean, in, in high school, we were, we had of course Boy Scouts, part of the Boy Scout program. And I was ----------(??) go with that. And we, uh, played basketball and I'd work in the afternoons, and, and we'd get out of school at three o'clock and I'd work until three o'clock and I would go to work about 3:30, worked until 6, and then we had basketball practice at 7 to 9, two hours there. And, and, uh, so it, it kept you, it kept you, it was a pretty very busy schedule that you were doing. And of course you worked all day on Saturdays. ----------(??). So you had to catch up on your study in between time that you, that you did. ROMOND: What high, what was the name of your high school? HANCOCK: Good Shepherd High School. Good Shepherd School, it still exists today, but it's not a high school anymore, just. ROMOND: And what was the name of your grade school? HANCOCK: Same thing. ROMOND: Same name. HANCOCK: Um-hm, um-hm. ROMOND: Um-hm. And were there particular subjects that you liked? HANCOCK: I liked, I liked math and spelling and, and mostly, and, uh, were my best subjects to get into. Um, I, I had a hard time with chemistry. I took four years of Latin and, and couldn't--(laughs)--and I think really that helped me, four years of Latin helped me with, uh, language and English and, and ----------(??) completely, so. Uh, but those were my favorite subjects in school. ROMOND: Did your family get a TV? HANCOCK: My family didn't have a TV until after I was in college. I, I remember I was almost jealous of my younger brother, my younger siblings because, uh, I was a sophomore in college when they got a TV. And in fact, to tell you the truth, in, in the mill house(??) in there, in the corner, is, is the first TV that I ever saw in my life. And, and I was, worked at, I worked on the summers in high school between my freshman, between my sophomore and junior year in high school, I worked at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Farm out on Louisville Road. It's, it's, uh, in the pens and you were allowed to do that then. And I had a summer job there and, and I was allowed to, and, and my supervisor was such a friend of mine that he would actually come to town and pick me up on Saturday, and I could go out to his house Saturday night and watch television with their television and have dinner with them. And he, and he gave me, when he died, he left that television to me in his will. ROMOND: Is that right! HANCOCK: (laughs) Yeah, I still got it today. ROMOND: And that was a big time! HANCOCK: Oh yes, I, I, that was big. ROMOND: Do you remember what you watched? HANCOCK: Yes, I, I sure. Wrestling. ROMOND: Wrestling. HANCOCK: (laughs) Wrestling and, and, and I think the Lawrence Welk show or something like that. ROMOND: Um, after high school, then you went to college? HANCOCK: I, I got a, a small scholarship for basketball to Bellarmine College. And I went to Bellarmine College for the first year and they found out I couldn't play basketball. And they took the scholarship away from me and so then I transferred to the University of Kentucky and, and went three years at the University of Kentucky. ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. What are your memories about being there? HANCOCK: At the University of Kentucky? ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: Oh gosh, it was a big wakeup call. Of course it, it wa-- ROMOND: --in what way? HANCOCK: It, from going from a small college, from a very small high school to, to Bellarmine, and which is in Louisville. And, and, uh, it was a, a big step right there, but then of course transferring to the University of Kentucky was, was just out of the question. Uh, uh, but I say that, but when I transferred to the University of Kentucky, there were, there were four of my classmates from high school at the University of Kentucky. In fact, I moved in with some. And so, so they already knew about the University of Kentucky, knew what it was, and I, and so I was familiar with what to expect, uh, with it. So it was just a, it was just an experience. ROMOND: What did you study there? HANCOCK: I'm sorry? ROMOND: What did you study? HANCOCK: I was studying prelaw, going into prelaw, I'd, I had had ambitions of being a lawyer and, uh, I was preparing to go and get my business law degree. And, uh, was going to go to law school. ROMOND: Um-hm. And what did you do after you got out of college? HANCOCK: I, actually I, I was, I had no choice at, at that point, I was twenty-two years old and, and my father died when I was very young. He had a business in, uh, in town and, and I was the oldest sibling, living sibling at that time. My brother had already died; he had died in an accident when he was nineteen, uh, in a swimming accident. And, uh, I was twenty-two years old in the sibling and, and I had five, uh, siblings, brothers at home, all under sixteen years of age. And, uh, I ended up in the business, so. ROMOND: And what was the business? HANCOCK: Plumbing, heating and cooling, so. ROMOND: So you inherited your father's business? HANCOCK: I'd, I, along just came back in the business with my mother. I'd, I worked off on their school and everything, and I came back and, uh, I just helped my mother, uh, with the business. ROMOND: Um-hm. And how did you get involved in politics? HANCOCK: Well, this is--I had a, a situation. I was very active in the community in the first place. I, I realized when my father died that I was going to be in the business rather than be in law school, be a lawyer. That for the success of any business, I had to get involved and do certain things with the, in the community. And I got involved in different parts of it as a, as a, uh, basketball coach for high, for the kids in school. And I coached several years of basketball. I became a Boy Scout leader. I, I trained Boy Scout leaders. I became a member of the Chamber of Commerce and on the board. So, all of the things that you naturally do when you're getting your business working, your business up, getting a name with that. And, uh, I had a, had a friend who was actually a former mayor of the city, who had decided that he was going to challenge the incumbent, uh, in the, in the legislature. And, uh, some things happened that they were able to get this person out of the race and not to run. And I thought that was objectionable to me and, and, uh, that they would do that. And I talked to my wife and she also found it objectionable for me to do it. And finally ended up over, that was on a Friday, and when the time came to Monday and I can let her tell her own story, she said, "Well, you might as well go do it, go ahead and do it. So, you won't say that I stopped you from doing it," so. ROMOND: So your friend ended up not running? HANCOCK: That's right, that's right. The friend was actually told, ended up being told by his, his superiors, who were owned by out-of-state, out-of-city people that, uh, he could not have his job if he continued to run. And before that he could run very well, but they just got to him. And, and, uh, uh, politics, using up politics on him to force him out of the race. And I said, "Well, they, they can't get anything on me to force me out of the race!" (laughs) So, that's, that's how I got in, and I got. And it's so funny because I was standing in my business one day and. And, uh, I was talking to one of my customers and she was just, she said, "Well, Hank, why don't you run?" And I, I said, "No, I don't think (??), I'm not going to do that." And then it dawned on me that here I was, one of these people that gripped about the system and gripped about the system, and if I was really going to change the system, I needed to get more involved, so I did. ROMOND: Um, what was that first campaign like? HANCOCK: That camp--these, of course, the first campaign is always the most memorable campaign. It, it just absolutely was a b-, it's got so many memories with it, because, basically, you got, you got to recall that back in those days, Wendell Ford was Governor of Kentucky. And then his second, and Wendell Ford was Governor of Kentucky and, and there was quite an idea that you couldn't get elected the dog catcher in Frankfort without the support of the Governor. And this was a sort of a, a golden rule that you, that you very carefully abided by him. That, uh, the Governor was the strong force in who would serve in what positions. And I, uh, certainly the incumbent was supported by the Governor. And everybody had told me that, you know, you're making a, you don't stand a chance. In fact, I met a, a person shortly after I announced and I mean by--let me, let me assure you this: before I announced, I had gone, number one, my spouse, which was probably the hardest battle, the hardest person to convince. And then, then my family, you know, went to talk with my family, my mother, very carefully and make sure, because, you know, sometimes these things get involved and there's name calling, things that come out that you don't want. So, I certainly checked it out with all my family. My cousins, uh, I told them what I was, would like to do, and, and, uh, got their blessing. Or their, their blessing or their, their astonishment, I guess, and then I started talking to some, some close personal friends, who all advised me, everyone of them advised me not to go, I really didn't get hardly any encouragement to do it. (Romond laughs) From that standpoint, and then, then it just went on. And I had this, made the decision, yes, I was going to do it and shortly after the announcement, we were at, at what was called Frisch's Restaurant, old restaurant and my wife and myself eating and, and the guy who is an accountant and a fellow that, uh, I'd always had a great deal of respect for him, and I still did even after that, but he said, "Hank, I understand you're running for state representative, and seating here, I want to give to your first campaign," and he gave me a nickel. ROMOND: A nickel. HANCOCK: A, a nickel. And, and, and of course I didn't even know the significance of that nickel at that point, and I, I saved, I saved that nickel and I say, "Well, thank you, Mark," I said, "I'll use that, uh, to the best end." I said, "You, you won't regret this." And of course, he was just saying not having a nickel's chance for winning. (Romond laughs) And I was fortunate enough to give him back that nickel one day. (both laugh) ----------(??) in a appropriate mood at an appropriate time. But, um, I got together with probably several things helped me. In the first place, I had a very strong Baptist and Catholic background. My mother was Baptist and my grandmother was ---------(??) in Baptist at the other end of the town and had many friends. She was the choir director in the church and played the piano and the organ, and that, so I had connections there, and I took her to church back and forth. And when I was in school, in college when I could drive. And that, and then, uh, I had some strong ties on the other side of my family. And of course through the involvement that I had with Boy Scouts and coaching and, and the YMCA, the Jaycees was a big thing. And I don't, don't, didn't intend to leave the Jaycees out because I was very involved in the Jaycees for fourteen years. And, um, and all the activities that they were in. So, involved in it and I had, I had a pretty good background with that. So, I started with the, my first campaign was really basically consisted of a youth committee. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: And the youth committee was made up mostly of my children and my young nephews and nieces. And it was, it was a, as one veteran politician said one time, said, "I've never seen such an assemblage of, of political workers as Hank had on Election Day." (Romond laughs) I mean it, my brothers and, and my sisters, and, and, and, uh, these little kids from stair stepped up all the way, we got pictures of them. And, and there, but that was called my youth committee. And they did, they did car washes to raise money, uh, car washes, the ----------(??) big, right on the Main Street. Several things, put up signs, was with the, all over town, just handmade signs. I didn't have any money to buy real signs. (laughs) And, and, uh, they just-- ROMOND: --they were your fundraisers. HANCOCK: They were youth committee. They, they helped raise money. They, they'd have these car washes. And of course the soap would bring, cost more than what the car wash brought in, but the publicity was priceless. And, uh, that youth committee, that youth committee and those ties with my, my family and, and some of that work done, it, it ended up with, uh, uh, Julian Carroll was Lieutenant Governor during this time. Very, very close to, very close to the incumbent, who was by the way a good friend of mine, too. I, my issue wasn't with him or anything; my issue was the way they got this other person out. ROMOND: Yeah ----------(??) yeah. HANCOCK: Of office, got the challenger away because I, in a democracy, I, I think that we ought to have people competing. And so, it just ended up them, uh, and I on election night, on election night, I was working, uh, in a precinct called Indian Hills which was the biggest, it happened to be my opponent's, my opponent's, um, home precinct. And I was working that precinct, and as we came in, uh, closed the polls then--and of course that's when you could stand up, which was the most- -you hand out before the person get in to vote, they had to fight these people off to get in there and it was-- ROMOND: --right outside ----------(??) HANCOCK: Oh yeah, it was awful, but we had a, we had these kids out there passing these signs out and everything. It was just, it was hilarious. And, and I got in the car, they closed the polls at six o'clock, got in the car and headed back towards town. And, uh, they announced the --------(??) results of the first precinct in, and it came in my opponent's precinct was the first one in. And I think I lost that precinct by something like thirty-something votes, and I heard that and I said, "I'm going to win this election." ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: Because I-- ROMOND: --and you didn't (??)-- HANCOCK: --when I only lost my, that precinct by thirty votes, I said, "I'm going to win that election." And, uh, like I said, it was nothing like it. ROMOND: How old were your kids then? HANCOCK: Oh, gracious! Well let's see, were they--that's a good question. I tell you this, my twin girls were born in January of that same year, January the twentieth-seventh of that same year. ROMOND: Right after you were elected? HANCOCK: No, no, they were born right before I was elected. ROMOND: Oh, before you were elected (??). HANCOCK: They were born before I even decided I was even going to run. I mean, they were born; I would had no concepts of running. January twenty-seventh, and then, then I had, uh-- ROMOND: --and they were your youngest, so you already-- HANCOCK: --yes-- ROMOND: --had your other two children. HANCOCK: Right, the other two boys were older. They'd, and, uh, um, they were ten and, and eight. And so, that's was the difference in age. ROMOND: And when along the way here did you meet your wife? HANCOCK: Oh I'd, I wed(??), my wife in, at(??) UK. ROMOND: Over at UK. HANCOCK: Right, yeah. I met her at UK as a blind date. ROMOND: A blind date. (laughs) HANCOCK: (both laugh) Right. --------(??) there, and, uh. ROMOND: And neither of you could have guessed that you were going to end up in politics. HANCOCK: No way whatsoever. ROMOND: Any people in your family in politics? HANCOCK: My uncle, I had an uncle who never ran for office in his life and no one ever ran for office and that, that, that side of the family. On the LeCompte side there was a great uncle who was coroner and also sheriff years ago, before that. Um, I had an uncle that dabbled in politics with, uh, as, as a farmer and, and seen John Breckinridge who was a congressman, and every time John Breckinridge would drive his Cadillac up to my uncle's place and park it and get his old pickup truck with hay in the back of it and drive it around with the neighbors, act like that was what he was driving. And so think so, it was a very interesting concept to see what they do, but no, I never, no one in my family ever, uh, got really involved in politics. Like, and like unfortunately, unfortunately, like most families, they held a disdain for politics which is a shame. Which is a shame. ROMOND: Um-hm. What was the political climate in your, uh, area that you represented when you-- HANCOCK: --there were-- ROMOND: --won the election? HANCOCK: There were, were, were two political factions, both Democrats. (laughs) That, in fact, and somebody always said, 'There're a two-party system," and I say, "Yeah, we got a two-party system; both Democrats!" (Romond laughs) And they were strongly involved in, in the, in the party factions. It was the Combs's group, and the Clements group, and the Chandler group and a strong split in that. And we had, uh, probably split right down the middle in the, in the atmosphere both sides that came along, and you-- ROMOND: --what was the division about, within the party? HANCOCK: Within the party? Oh, I couldn't, I, that goes deeper than my memory. That's, that's, uh. ROMOND: Two pol-, two Democratic groups. HANCOCK: Factions. ROMOND: Factions. HANCOCK: Right, right, they were, they, they, like I said that's, I can remember, of course, Sampson was the first Governor I ever, ever just vaguely remember him, and then came, and then Clements was Governor. And, and, uh, he was a very strong faction apparently in his ties and then there was the Chandler faction. You had a faction with the Wetherbys and, and, uh, Breathitt, that group were all tied into one. And then you had the Chandler on the other side tied in with the Waterfields and, and other people, other groups that, that came along there. Then you had, uh, Bert Combs of course tied in with Julian Carroll, ended up with Julian Carroll supporting Bert Combs, and then, then Wendell Ford won--the second, I'm talking about the second term that Bert ran and when Wendell Ford won--of course Julian won Lieutenant Governor, he ran separate offices then. Today, you run as a team, but, uh, there was some split but right there just shows the climate and those things did affect the politics in Frankfort, because you had one Governor supported by one faction, one supported(??) Ford faction and the Carroll faction. And, um, so the climate was, is, was political, but, you know, a lot of the truth is, the truth of the matter is and, and under those circumstances, that's the reason people that were close to the political situation didn't give me a chance of winning. They didn't give me a chance of winning. Because I wasn't involved with either of those people at all, I'd, no way, I wasn't involved with the party. Um, I was just a local citizen that got involved. And as I was to learn very rapidly when I went to the legislature, you usually went to your party to even get, even run. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: So I, I didn't, I didn't go that cycle at all. ROMOND: What was it like to find out that you won that very first time? Where were you? How did you find out? HANCOCK: Well, we had, my business was located down on Second Street. In fact it's, uh, it's still down there; my brother owns it now. But it was located right on Second Street. And it was sort of a big warehouse type thing in the back. And everybody had gathered down there and just to gather to listen to the results over the radio. And it was just a growing eruption. They just--(laughs)--it just seemed, uh--(laughs)--you'd almost have to ask my wife what it was like it. It was a, uh, I mean, with every report of every precinct, it just got-- there, of course, like I said, when I heard that first vote I just said, "I am going to win this thing." And, and then, you know, it was just nip and tuck. He'd win a couple and I'd, I'd win a couple, and we just stayed right next to each other. Going up and, and it, it, uh, was-- ROMOND: --did you know that night? HANCOCK: Oh yes! Oh yeah. in fact we-- ROMOND: --on the radio. HANCOCK: Oh yeah, yeah. We knew. In fact, we probably knew--well, I tell you what, it was still daylight. And then, of course, you're talk about May. When we went to the courthouse, and that's what normally do; you go to the courthouse to talk to them on the radio after you win, or after you're defeated, either. The, the, uh, ethical thing was to go to the courthouse and report to them and you call your opponent and, and congratulate him, and, uh, the opponent in that race had already called me and, and congratulated me. And, and, uh, you know, then after he called me over at the office, then my wife and my, my two sons went, went to the, over to the courthouse and had our interview and floating on cloud nine. It was, it was so strong. They came back from there and it just the Capitol, of course, the courthouse was full of people and everybody just couldn't believe I had won and I couldn't believe like I could've won either. But it was, um, it was so, it was really so, so exciting. I remember going back over to the, to the business. And the fellow came up and, in the back, one of the, the friend over there, he came up and said, "Somebody back here wants to see you." And I said, "Wants to see me?" He said, "Yeah." He said, "I don't know about him. So I, I'll go back there with you." So--(laughs)--we went back, out the backdoor and there was that guy standing out there, just madder than four hives of hornets. So he said, "I thought you told me you didn't give any bourbon out at Election Day," and I said, "I didn't." I said, "I don't do that." I said, "I couldn't do that, I didn't have any money!" "By golly so-and-so gave some out and said you gave it to him." And I said, "What?" He said, "Yes," said, "they gave some bourbon out in your, in your name, and said I was supposed to be your man to give it out!" I said, "I do, I swear to you, I do not know anything about them whatsoever," and I didn't know anything about them. But one of my, called it supporters had done it and I knew nothing about it. I still didn't know anything about it until he tipped me off, and then I found out about it about a week later. And somebody, and, and I, that was really a, a, right contentious moment. I didn't know what to say or what to do, I said, no. But I learned, I learned a lot of things during that campaign. Of course, you did the door-to-door, and you stood in front of the shopping centers, and you'd do all the things you're supposed to do to get elected. You spoke to a lot of the local clubs and did your thing. And, and the door-to-door campaign, I'd heard more than once somebody say, "You know, I make a good fruitcake." And I never did, it took me about twenty-five times before I ever thought, oh, it finally dawned on me what they were talking about. (laughs) It finally dawned on me what they were talking about what you put in a fruitcake. And so. But that, that policy never bothered me at all and I never, never did participate in that. (laughs) In anything like that, but they were, apparently it was a, it was a, apparently a fairly common practice. And so. ROMOND: Um-hm. The alcohol for the-- HANCOCK: --yeah-- ROMOND: --fruitcake. Um, what did you hope to accomplish, that first time when you, you just found yourself elected, and you were going to the Capitol? HANCOCK: Well, I'm, I ran, of course, I had a lot of friends who were state employees. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: And I have, I was in a community that, that--and, and Frankfort is, is, still has the same pains today. It, when I first ran, and got the registration list out, which I had never seen one before, and started going down the list of people on the precinct lists and mull over and who they, how they were registered. First thing I found out, first thing that dawned on me is I knew every Republican on that list well. And considered them all friends. And, and I was so surprised to find out well, they're Republican (??), they couldn't even vote for me. So, and I didn't know up until that point I had no concept whether they were Republicans or Democrats. That's how, how unpolitically I was. And then the second thing you'd find out, of course, the, the people that even have those records, how often those people voted, different types of things. You know, whether they voted or didn't vote, the same. But I found through those precincts, and that sitting down and, and, and getting people to, that I could, knew and could talk to, and then I'd go see those special people, and, and get them, try to get them on board and work for those, those people and that. Um, but as I said, my mother, uh, my mother wrote a very good letter to every friend she ever had, which was very good with my election. In fact I've, I've told several young novices since then that they've used to say, they say that was the best advice I ever gave them. My mother was well known. She was, I mean, in the community and, and when she wrote that letter to her friends and they got, it all worked together. ROMOND: Um-hm. What did you see as the needs of the people you represented that you were bringing with you? HANCOCK: Okay. Well, as, as again, state employees, a lot that I found on the precinct list--that's what I was getting to a minute ago--a lot of your people that I had known for years and everything, weren't even registered to vote in Franklin County. And that's the first time it dawned on me that these people had to go back home to vote. They'd lived here for years. They lived in Franklin County for years. But they always went back to Knott County or, or out of the county or someplace else in the state to vote. And I realized that there was something missing here that, that involved the merit system, and the, uh, the protection of state employees on the system. So I immediately took that up as a cause and I knew it hurt our town because these people lived here for years did not want to get so much involved in the community, and the needs of the community. I mean so, the, those employees were the big, were the big issue that I had to work with and I worked with the merit system. I worked with benefits for state employees, a lot of that. At the same time, I worked with things that in Frankfort that, Frankfort needed to be representative as the capitol city of, of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I'd, I think it had, before I even got involved felt like that Frankfort sort of got the short end of actually having some things here that represented the, what I considered, the honor of Kentucky. And--and I had relatives and friends that would come and visit Frankfort and sort of laugh at the idea that we were the state capitol of Kentucky. So I had a very strong feeling that, that I was going to do something different about that and try to get more in Frankfort to do. And that, that would, would epitomize the fact that it is the seat of government. And it deserved that respect rather than the clouds that fall on Frankfort and all the corruption that's supposed to be in Frankfort, and those kinds of things. And it was my, my goal to get that, that feeling that Frankfort and everybody in it corrupt. And, uh, I've, I've fought that all my life and still haven't managed ----------(??). But that's, that's what I'd hope to accomplish. ROMOND: That people would have a sense of pride about the city of Frankfort. HANCOCK: That's right, that's right. Exactly, that they needed a sense of pride, they needed a sense. ROMOND: Did your, did your, um, perception over the years change about what the needs of the people you represented were, or did they continue to be the same about? HANCOCK: They, they not only continued to be the same but they grew, they grew stronger of the twenty-one years I was in there. They grew stronger. One of the first piece of legislation that I worked on was an 'in lieu of tax' bill for Frankfort and Franklin County. Frankfort city taxes, and city people would help pay for the fire trucks and the water and everything else over and above, the traffic, handling the traffic that comes in the state government to do business and all that, and the truth of matter is, depending on who, what faction was in the Governor's seat, and what faction was in the mayor's seat in Frankfort, or the county judge's seat in Frankfort, really had a lot to do with how much help they were going to get in state government in covering these expenses. Um, and it was, like I said, the first bill that I ever worked on was an 'in lieu of tax' bill for the city of Frankfort. And, and it worked very well and, and I got it passed with the help of Governor Carroll at that time. Came in, uh, I served only one term under Governor Ford because Governor Ford then went to the Senate, the Unites States Senate before his term was over and then Governor Carroll took over. And this is which will be my second year in the, actually in the legislature, and, so anyway, that, that worked, that 'in lieu of tax' bill worked for Frankfort and Franklin County and, uh. Meant several millions of dollars over the years to, to the city. ROMOND: Were there factions or divisions in the General Assembly that you identified even at the beginning or over the years, and what were they? HANCOCK: There were factions. There were factions, absolutely, factions. And, and one of the first things that you that I think anybody would find it hard to understand is, is--if, if you go in the General Assembly as I did, with the idea that every, it's a yes or no, or black or white issue, and, and, uh, don't understand that, that people are not the same all over. That they have certain, I never doubted the fact that I was going as a state representative and, and the people's house to do the people's business that they wanted me to do, and I am a strong advocate of that. I'm, I've always a strong advocate, sometimes, even against my personal desires. If, if my constituents wanted something different and I could see very overwhelmingly something different than I thought it should be, I would go with what they wanted. I had something say, if my constituents know as much, nearly as much about this as I do, and they think it's good, then I think it's good, even though I might not have thought it was good to begin with. But, but I went with that, that idea in mind. And, of course, first thing you, you realize when you get involved in it and you, you look at the voting records, and the, and go through the precinct, and in my first election in Franklin County--gosh, I hate to mislead anybody, they can look at the records and see what they were, dig those up--but it seems like they were something like sixteen thousand votes cast in my race. And now, and the sixteen thousand vote cast, out of one hundred, and that was the highest in the state, per state representative. The other communities, especially many of those in downtown Louisville, were less than a thousand people cast a vote. And it was so amazing to me that you had the same representation and yet sixteen thousand of the people in your district turned out to vote. I'm other, other districts less than a thousand people turned out to vote. And the person in that have, the other 99 members of the House, some of them would be there by a vote of less than a thousand people. And, and, uh, so you realize, you, you gradually realize, certainly they've got a difference of opinion of what, what it should be and, and how it is. And, uh, you had the strong division, the first real thing that I had--was the-, there was a Louisville caucus. They called that a Louisville caucus and then there was a coal caucus, a coal county caucus that were very strong. And those became factions that you dealt with and so eventually we had a central Kentucky caucus. And then you had a western Kentucky caucus. I mean it sort of developed into regional caucuses because of basically Louisville was the only one that had a caucus, then the coal county got together and they, they had a caucus. If you remember back during this time, Wendell Ford was Governor when they passed the first coal severance tax package of money going back to the counties. So, that's where this coal caucus came from. And it was very powerful. Very powerful when it came with that group, but that made other people say, they said, "Well, we better form the Central Kentucky caucus," or, "We better form the Western Kentucky caucus. We're gonna to be able to work with it within this group." So you had some of those factions, mostly compatible. Uh, but, and, and some, sometimes hitting a strong edge when it came to the money, to where the money was going to go. But the two, two groups, I guess, this is 1974. Had control of the legislature: one was farmers, agriculture; the other was labor, the strongest controlled(??). And you could see that, is that, that often came to, uh, different in opinion with that. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: A lot of people, I was so very surprised in those people that had been there that of, of the hundred people and the ideas they made. My seatmate and I was, sitting there late in the session in 1974 and it was a lull when we were waiting on the Senate to do something at the end of the session. And I had prided myself that I'd read every stick of proposal that had come through, from front to back. And really got serious about it, concerned about it and I often spoke on something I had no business speaking on. Um, and expressing myself and I probably would have been better off sitting in my chair, because I really didn't understand that. And we was sitting there, close to the end of the session, waiting on something to come from the Senate. My seatmate and a couple of the other old people that, veterans that had been there a couple of years before I came over, and sat down. And one of them said, something, I said, "No, I haven't read that," said, "I haven't read anything!" And I looked at him and said, "What do you mean, you?" They had not even read a bill that had come through, to see what he'd said. And, and, and I knew, I knew the Governor of Kentucky was strong. And I didn't realize that you just simply didn't pass a bill without the Governor of Kentucky saying, "Okay, and okay, and no," and his leadership in the House and his leadership in the Senate agreeing to exactly what they wanted. And, and that's the way it worked. Literally, if the Governor didn't want your legislation it was not a, because he had, he appointed the leadership in the Senate, and he appointed the leadership in the House, and of course-- ROMOND: --that was a surprise to you when you first went? HANCOCK: Yes, yes it was. Because I had no idea, I was very naive, very naive about that system, I'd, I'd, you know, I was full of blue and white and stars. And, and, uh, thought well, it's the best thing's gonna to happen here; you're going to do what's right for the people, and all that. If you, if you came up with a good idea, very often you'd find that idea come out with another bill from, you probably, at the other end of the House, the other end of the Capitol from one of those friends of the Governor down there, with exactly what you were trying to do down there and come up, and all of the sudden it'd be their idea to a compatible friend who ever the friend of the Governor might be even. But the Governor of Kentucky was no doubt that, that--in fact, Julian Carroll was the strongest Governor we ever had. And he, and he, because he knew more about government. He knew more about every part of government. Every division, every, every area, he knew exactly what made them tick. He knew who worked there. He knew exactly what was going on. That's the way government was when I first went there. ROMOND: Um-hm. HANCOCK: And these old, these veterans kind of laughed at me because I'd read the bills. I had actually read what they were talking about, and, and, you know, they were at the point to say, "Well, look," I asked, I asked one time, I said, one, one time, I said, "Why did you vote for that bill?" And he said, "Two miles of blacktop, two miles of blacktop." (both laugh) And that was, that was what the Governor put in the budget for him back home, two miles of blacktop. ROMOND: So that was what he was going to get out of it. HANCOCK: Yeah. And of course I went through the period, I, I think I went through the greatest period of, of change in the, in the history of Kentucky legislature, became, long after that Norb Blume was, after Norb Blume was speaker, Bill Kenton from Lexington, uh, became speaker, and I'd, I actually served as Bill Kenton's speaker pro tem. And, uh, it was through his efforts, under John Y. Brown--after Julian Carroll left the government that, uh, John Y. Brown came up and, and sort of gave me the freedom to do that. But, uh. [End of interview.] Hancock (House 1974-1995, 57th district; Democrat) recalls growing up in Frankfort between his grandparents’ farm and the city, changes in the city since his childhood, his personal education, taking over the family business, and early interest in politics. He shares his impressions of several governors, changes in the legislature and remembers what it was like to be a new legislator trying to meet the needs of a constituency made up of many state employees. Interview ends abruptly. Part 1 of 2. insert here