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2006-06-01 Interview with Lloyd McKinney, June 1, 2006 Leg001:2006OH079 Leg 101 1:05:18 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Teachers -- Kentucky -- Jackson County -- Biography. Rural schools -- Kentucky. Tobacco industry -- Kentucky. Educational change -- Kentucky. Political poetry -- Kentucky. Carroll, Julian M. (Julian Morton), 1931- Nunn, Louie B., 1924- Rural schools Teaching Agriculture Education Abortion Church and state Freedom of religion Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Taxation -- Law and legislation New Deal, 1933-1939 Depressions -- 1929 School discipline Committees Pond (Ky.) Education committee one room schools military service Professional Negotiations bill separation of church and state Professional Negotiations Bill Term/District: House (1968-1972), 79th district; (1980-1982), 84th district unties in District: Jackson County (Ky.) -- Estill County (Ky.) -- Madison County (Ky.) -- Owsley County (Ky Lloyd McKinney; interviewee Jessica Flinchem; interviewer 2006OH079_LEG101_McKinney 1:|21(6)|45(11)|56(6)|67(6)|78(6)|88(10)|103(1)|116(3)|126(3)|139(2)|150(6)|163(5)|173(14)|184(5)|193(3)|211(10)|224(6)|240(9)|250(12)|267(2)|282(12)|291(8)|299(5)|312(10)|326(1)|335(1)|350(8)|362(7)|372(7)|383(2)|399(1)|410(9)|422(9)|434(7)|442(8)|454(10)|472(7)|488(10)|500(5)|517(5)|537(9)|554(9)|569(13)|583(4)|594(8)|613(5)|626(6)|634(11)|647(6)|655(10)|672(2)|681(4)|698(6)|714(4)|722(6)|736(6)|750(3)|768(1)|786(3)|794(6)|803(11)|818(5)|833(2)|856(5)|889(8) audiotrans Legit interview FLINCHUM: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative Lloyd McKinney who represented Jackson, Estill, Owsley and southern Madison counties in the Seventy-Ninth District from 1968 to 1972 and the Eighty-Fourth District from 1980 to 1982. The interview was conducted by Jessica Flinchum, for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on Thursday, June 1, 2006 in the home of Mr. McKinney in Sand Springs, Kentucky, at nine o'clock AM. What is your full name? MCKINNEY: Lloyd McKinney. FLINCHUM: Lloyd McKinney, no middle name? MCKINNEY: No middle name. FLINCHUM: Could you please tell me when and where you were born? MCKINNEY: Well, I was born May 23, 1922, way down in a holler in a one- room log cabin. FLINCHUM: That's here in Sand Springs? MCKINNEY: That's a place called Pond. Pond. It's right around the road here. FLINCHUM: Could you spell it? MCKINNEY: P-o-n-d. FLINCHUM: Pond. MCKINNEY: There was a big pond there and they called it Pond. By the way, that's the first school I ever taught, when (??) I got up to be a man. I was born there in a one-room log cabin, in a rock pile. They said it was a rock pile. I didn't stay there long. But, I'm kind of like Abraham Lincoln in a way. I was born in a one-room log cabin. I'm proud of it though. FLINCHUM: Can you tell me about your family? Your parents, grandparents? MCKINNEY: Well-- FLINCHUM: What were their names? MCKINNEY: My grandpa on my mommy's side was named Louis Isaacs. He lived on this road out here and he was a blacksmith. At that particular time, why, they had steers, they're cattle (??), you know. They plowed steers, and they would put them--he was a blacksmith and he shoed, put shoes on the people's steers and mules. He was a very good blacksmith. I don't know, I believe that he was the--the best that I can figure that he was the daddy of twenty-one children. FLINCHUM: That's a lot. MCKINNEY: Yeah, but he's married. He had two women. My grandmother, she was a Russell. Russell. So, he married and had a whole bunch of children and she died, then he had another big bunch of children. And they was all musicians. They could play music. They could dance, and he had dances. You'd see a guy and a (??) moonshine at the top of the field of corn, and he'd tell the people, "When you get to the top, you can drink it." So we had moonshine, he had moonshine. And they'd dance all night. The first time I ever (??) I left home I slipped off and went around there and scared my mommy to death. But I've always wanted to dance, but I can't make music. (Flinchum laughs). I like to dance. FLINCHUM: What do you remember about going to school and growing up? You grew up in Jackson County, right? MCKINNEY: I lived in Jackson County. They like to never got me to go to school. Every time I would go to school, why, I'd pretend that I got sick and come back home. And we lived in--we went to school up here in a one-room school right up the road, right here, the first time. It was up on stilts, and the farmers would turn their hogs out on the mass, eat the acorns, chestnuts. We had chestnuts then and hickory nuts. And they'd go out and eat this mass, and then they'd come up and lay under that floor. That floor was up on stilts. Of course, it was my job to take a big sharp stick and run those hogs out from under the floor. (both laugh) I'd gouge them with that big stick and they'd take over the hill. Woo-woo-woo-woo. And when the time to kill the hogs, all they'd do, go out, and call the hogs up and kill one, butcher it, bring it home. Back at that, at that particular time, we didn't have a blackboard like everybody else; it just a black-painted. We had a big potbellied stove. All of us gather around about freeze to death. You'd start sweeping one end of the house with the dirt, and time you got down to the other end, it wasn't no dirt; it'd all fell through the floor. (Flinchum laughs). That's the kind of schooling. We all sat on log benches. And we didn't have any books. They wasn't issued. We had a few old books. We'd have to sit side-by-side in benches and all of us, three of us read out of the same book. One in the middle would read it, and then, the rest, we'd read that book, all of us. An old second reader, I remember, "I saw a shepherd sailing, a sailing on the sea, and oh, it was laden with pretty things, for thee. The captain was a duck, with a jacket on his back, and when the ship began to sail, the captain said, 'Quack, quack.'" (Flinchum laughs). That was an old second reader. We all read that. FLINCHUM: You still remember that. MCKINNEY: I still remember it. It had a picture of a ship on it. Then, the first grade was "Little Boy Blue." Everybody knows that. "Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn, the sheep's in the meadow, and the cows in the corn. Where is that little boy that looks after the sheep? He's under the haystack, fast asleep. Will you wake him? No, not I. If I do, he is sure to cry." That was "Little Boy Blue." FLINCHUM: Um-hm. MCKINNEY: We didn't have any books issued to us. I was about the third or fourth grade that was the first books that was ever issued. All of us had to read and I borrowed books. I was always interested, wanting to become a schoolteacher. More than anything else, I wanted to be a teacher. Of course, the odds was against me. But I'd borrow books, and all the rest of the family, they'd possum hunt. You had to do anything to make a few little money. They'd sell those possum hides ten-cents each. But I was like Abraham Lincoln, again. I'd sit by the open fireplace and study my books. Sometimes they'd come in and throw out ten or twelve dead possums in the floor. (Flinchum laughs) Then I would--I never--I didn't like to hunt but I liked to read books. I was always interested in books. And the rest of them, they would skin those possums, and put them on the board. Sell them for ten-cents apiece, fifteen-cents if it was a big one. That was the kind of the way we lived. We raised our own gardens and canned our own beans. And we lived in a two-room house. The bedroom, then the living room, we had beds in the living room and beds in the kitchen, a big bunch of us. Then, between there, it was called a dogtrot, an opening between the one bed we called, that was known as the dogtrot house. The dogs would run through it. That's the kind of house we had. I was born in a log cabin and lived in a dogtrot house until I got up, grown, married. FLINCHUM: You said you always wanted to be a teacher. Did you have some favorite teachers, or not so favorite teachers that influenced you? MCKINNEY: Well, every teacher I had of mine was a favorite teacher in a way. Yeah, I've had some favorite teachers. I've had the blood cut out of me by schoolteachers. Run down my back. And honest to goodness, he's dead and he died, but it was not me that did. Back then, they had superintendents--they had trustees. The trustee hired this teacher, then somebody else run and told the teacher that it was me, but it was the trustee's boy that did it. I wouldn't squawk on him; I took it. I just took it. I was--he cut the blood out of me, it run down my back. But when he died, I cried, I remember. FLINCHUM: Tell me about how you became a teacher, like where you went to college and things. MCKINNEY: Well, of course, it was about--from where I live to Jackson County, McKee is about twelve miles. And sometimes, I'd have to walk all the way that twelve miles. There wasn't no bus-running see, and I had to get there either way. I'd get there before school started. I did that for several, several years. Finally, there was someone out there who got sorry for me, the members of the reformed church. They picked me up and helped me out. And I washed windows, swept houses, built fires, did anything to get a little money. Somebody, sometimes, people would give me a little money to go to the show but I wouldn't go. I'd take the money and buy my books and things. I'd milk cows. FLINCHUM: So that's through high school? You went to high school in McKee. MCKINNEY: Well, I got two years. See, I was old before--I never saw a basketball until I was sixteen years old. I'd been to eighth grade and dropped out and I had no way of going to school. There was a person up here, taught up here, and his name was V Gay (??). He invited me to play ball and then he saw that I was good enough that I could be a good high school. So, he invited me to come to high school. And he would kind of help me out. I never seen a basketball until then, I was about sixteen. But, before the end of the year, I was the first five. I made the first five. Then, I was drafted in the Army. I volunteered for the Navy. I was turned down by colorblindness. They didn't take me, but they drafted me in the Army. Now, I had dropped out of school. I just had two years of high school, when I went to the Army. I had dropped out now, and I try to get a job but I was in 1A (??) and they wouldn't hire me nowhere. So, I did the best that I could until I was twenty-years old and then I was drafted in the military. I had two years of high school. I made a sergeant in the Army. I was in leadership. I was--worked in the mess hall. I was behind the line. My outfit went through the beaches of Normandy. I saw a many of 'em go out and not come back. I was behind the lines. Whenever we'd go through one battle, then we'd all go out to battle. I have--I am capable of wearing six valor stars. North Vietnam, the beaches of Normandy, and others, but directly, I was never in the battle. I never did kill nobody. I saw a many of 'em go out and not come back. There was, I believe, there was two thousand four hundred of 'em got killed in the beaches of Normandy. We had to take that back away from Germany. Our planes--I was in the Army Air Corps--our planes bombed Berlin, Germany, and I can't think of the North Vietnamese, we bombed. B-17 bombers, they played a big part in World War II. They played the biggest part in World War II. Well, that's where I was. I can't say I liked the Army. But, I can't say I would be where I am at now without the Army. I went to college on the, what they called the G.I. Bill. I finished two years in high school in one year. I was paid the G.I. Bill and then I got five years of college from Eastern University. Became a teacher. I'm drawing retirement on thirty-four years. And I substitute taught about twenty-four years, something like that. I quit teaching when I was eighty-two years old. I've always told the young people that they can do anything, make anything they want to, if they've got the spunk (??), and can do it. If I made it, anybody can make it. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: You speak from personal experience. MCKINNEY: Yeah, I'm speaking from personal experience. FLINCHUM: So, you taught until you were eighty-two. You are eighty-four now, right? MCKINNEY: I am eighty-four right now. I was eighty-four the twenty- third of May and that's just been a day--that ain't been very long ago. I'm eighty-four. When I became eighty-two, I thought I'd quit--I had a real estate license, too. I was the first person in Jackson County to ever pass the real estate license by written test. I was the first. Some of them had tried, but they didn't pass it, but I did. Now, when you were in World War II, you could have been grandfathered then, to be a real estate agent. They was some of them from the county was grandfathered in but they never passed the test. I was the first; I was the first person in Jackson County to pass the test. And I might tell you another little thing; I was the second person from this area to go to high school from this area. I am the first person to ever graduate from college from this area. FLINCHUM: Around Sand Springs? MCKINNEY: Around Sand Springs area here. Yeah. And right now, we have nine schoolteachers in this area. Past, we have had nine schoolteachers from this little area right here, and most of them went to school with me. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: You were a good influence, weren't you? MCKINNEY: I was encouraging. That's my life up to now. FLINCHUM: You farmed quite a bit, too, haven't you? MCKINNEY: Oh, I was raised--oh, I had to. I was--back then, we tend about eighteen acres to get eighteen bushels of corn. Didn't have no fertilizer, just old hills on the farms. I plowed it one mule--one mule, plow stock, that's all (??). That's called a single shovel. That's called a single plow. Then, of course, I plowed with a double shovel. Then, it come down to it a more modern, we had a rastus plow. Now, I had a tobacco base. I tend tobacco and everything. I got my start right here. I borrowed the money, all the money they would let me have was eight thousand. Nineteen sixty-one. Well, I built me this fine house for eight thousand dollars. I was the first one to ever have an inside restroom in this area. I was the first one--I worked to get a telephone in here. I worked to get electricity to this area. Sometimes I would walk up on the porch, trying to get the people, the old man--no one would sign for electricity--I remember one woman said, "I'm a not signing nothing for some little child to get burned up." (both laugh) And we got it. We were kind of backwards but now this place is progress now. See, we used to have a dirt road here, gravel- -dirt road. When I went to school up there, we had the "A" model Ford, and two brothers worked in Ohio, and they'd come through about once a year. And the teacher would dismiss the class to go out and see an "A" model Ford. Then if an airplane went over, the teacher would dismiss us to let us go out and see the airplane. And that's the way it was back then. FLINCHUM: It was rare even to see an automobile. MCKINNEY: Yeah, yeah. You didn't see any cement. Dirt roads, sometimes that old "A" model Ford would get stuck in the sand. Another thing, the teacher would give me a nickel a morning to build a fire, sweep the house, and dust erasers. That was a nickel a morning. So, at the end of the week, I had a quarter and none of the rest of the children had nothing. I had a quarter. FLINCHUM: (laughs) Okay. Let's take a break before we get into politics. MCKINNEY: Okay. [Pause in recording.] FLINCHUM: When did you first become interested in politics? MCKINNEY: I have had an interest in politics a long time. I was forty-five years old when I decided I would make a run for state representative. In 1967, I decided that I would run for state representative. Mighty few people thought that I wouldn't make it. But I had taught school and knowed that the children loved me and I knowed that they'd go out and tell their daddy and mommy to vote for me, which they did. I give credit to the children. A lot. They couldn't vote but they certainly went out and electioneered for me. And so I ran--I ran against a former state representative. Then, I ran again. I believe it was two people I ran against. But, I won a lot, by a big majority. (laughs) I didn't have any money; I borrowed a little money. But, I remember that I spent four hundred eighty-eight dollars; I'd borrowed four hundred of it. I beat my opponent in this county four hundred eighty-eight votes. That's just a coincidence, I guess, but. Then I ran, I served, I was elected the same year Louie B. Nunn was elected for Governor. So I had a two-year term. And then I decided that I wanted to run again, so I ran for reelection. This time I had strong competition. The high sheriff of this county had ended his term. So he decided that he'd take my place. He'd beat me. He was a very, very popular--I'm not calling no name--but he's a very popular man, from a popular family. So, he ran against me, and low and behold, I beat him. So, I got--I was the first person in this county--in Owsley, of course, we--back up to then Owsley County take a term, then Jackson County takes a term. But I said, "That's no good. You can't do nothing just in two years. You've got to be elected more than two years to get anything done." So, I was the first person to ever be elected to a second time. We got a hundred sixty-one miles. I kept track of it. In Jackson and Owsley counties together, a hundred sixty-one miles of resurfaced or new blacktopped combined. I kept count of it; it's one hundred sixty-one miles. I did more. I got my road here. I lived on a gravel road. So one good thing I did, I got a blacktop road out by my house. Amen! (both laugh) FLINCHUM: And you told your wife you knew how to do it, right? MCKINNEY: I told my wife I had to do it. But we didn't make too much money, and I had to get out and measure tobacco. I measured tobacco for ten years. I remembered what my wife say to me. She said, "Honey," she said, "You measured too much tobacco in this county to get elected for anything." I said, "That's what'll elect me because I treated every farmer fair. I gave them every benefit of doubt I could." So, it did help me. The farmers helped me. The young people, though, I think that young people helped me tremendously. FLINCHUM: What was your first impression of Frankfort when you went to the General Assembly? What was it like? MCKINNEY: Well, you see, I taught Kentucky history. And I taught national government. I could have introduced a bill before ever I went there. But, it was an awfully big place for me. I wasn't used to that. I worked in the shop. I worked a little bit in shops and things like that. I made friends there. I was a Republican, but the Democrats, they thought the world of me. I was--in my belief, I think that I was highly respected. It was the kind of life that I lived down there, of course. The members of the General Assembly, they were representatives or the senators, they'd meet me in the hall, they'd lift their hand up and say, "Hello, Preacher." Of course, that was the kind of life that I lived before 'em. I gave my heart to the Lord in 1946. Since then, and all that time, I have tried to live the life that I should. And I did so. So much for that. FLINCHUM: That's why they called you 'Preacher' in Frankfort? MCKINNEY: That's why they did. That's they why called me 'Preacher,' because it was the life that I lived before 'em, you know. Everybody else can do what they want to, you see, but I just believe in living a good life. The best I know how. FLINCHUM: What did you think about Governor Nunn? MCKINNEY: Well, I liked Governor Nunn. I think he's a good Governor, not just, because he was a Republican. I thought a lot of Julian Carroll; he's a Democrat. Julian Carroll was--he was a member of the House of Representatives same time I was. He's a leader. I liked him; he liked me. We got along good. FLINCHUM: Will you tell me about your philosophy of government? When you first went to Frankfort, what were some of the main differences between Republicans and Democrats in Kentucky? MCKINNEY: Well, of course, they was--when I was there, actually it's not like it is now. They were--thirty or forty years ago, they were more cooperative with each other. Now, TN [PN??] Bill--that's the teacher's negotiation bill, you know--I introduced that bill for the schoolteachers, and I had a lot of Democrats support me. It passed the House but didn't pass the Senate. I was always teachers, you know, for--I stood up for the schoolteachers. It don't seem like there's as much argument and hatred between the Republicans and Democrats at that time as there seem to be now. I worked with the Democrats. I worked with 'em. We got a stoplight in McKee. We got [Hwy] 89 blacktopped. I wish it was a little bit different now than it--I wish it was more like it was then, than it is now. Seems like that's happening in Washington, DC, too. They are at odds with each other. They want to fight each other. But, that's politics, I guess. FLINCHUM: Yeah, why do you think that's changed? MCKINNEY: I don't know. I don't know why it has changed. The war, I guess, is one thing. If you think about it, everybody's blaming-- should I get into that, blaming Bush for everything? Bush hasn't done one thing on there. He couldn't have war, if it hadn't have been for Congress voting for the war. So they are just as much to blame as Bush. Then another thing, we are in war, and I see no way for us to pull out until we finish the job we started. I think that we have to finish. That man over is like Hitler. Hitler killed, had six million Jews killed. You seen it every night. I was there, I know. People in Iraq, the woman couldn't even wear--they couldn't show their face. They had to cover their head up. Their right arm was cut off of men. So, I just think it was a necessary for a change. I hate war myself, but I believe in finishing the job. FLINCHUM: So you think that war has a lot to do with party conflict between Republicans and Democrats? MCKINNEY: Yeah, yeah. FLINCHUM: You were on some committees, weren't you? The Education Committee and the Judiciary Committee? MCKINNEY: Oh yeah, I was chairman, Republican chairman of the Education Committee. Of course, that wasn't--I was just kindly, what I would say, it more or less, equal to a vice. The Democrats was in charge. But, a lot of them, believe it or not, they took my word. They believed, they listened to what I had to say. And I was a leader in the Education Committee. And I was just as much important as anybody in there. They listen to me, and then they paid attention to me. I spoke out. FLINCHUM: You worked on some legislation for teachers, too, didn't you? Wasn't there a retirement bill? MCKINNEY: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I was number one friend of the schoolteachers because I was a teacher myself, I guess. But, teachers has come a long ways. When I first started teaching school, my take-home pay was a hundred thirty-five dollars a month. But back then, you remember, we could teach school with a high school diploma. I got mine. A hundred thirty-five dollars a month. Look what they make now. Teachers have come a long, long way. My retirement for the teachers is $1224 a month. If they's retired now, they'd be drawing around four thousand dollars month. So teachers have come a long way. And they've got nothing to complain about really--really and truly. FLINCHUM: You had lots of other constituents that you looked out for, too, like the elderly. Didn't you have a bill about the elderly living with relatives? Do you remember that one? MCKINNEY: No, I don't remember that. I can't remember. FLINCHUM: What were some of the bills that stand out in your memory? What are some of the accomplishments you're most proud of? MCKINNEY: Well, it was called a PN (??), the professional negotiation bill for teachers, the one that stood out, the longest, the most, I guess. I worked hard on that. I never could get it through. We never got it through. Then prayer in school and things like that. They say I was against prayer in school but I wasn't. But, we have to be very careful. And I can explain that. See freedom of religion--but you have to be careful of what freedom of religion is. Say a teacher's got teaching school and they got ten children there as Christians. They got ten children more in there that's Muslims. And those Muslims worship a different god than a Christian does. But they all pay taxes to support the school. If the Christians put up their commandments, or what, they say Ten Commandments, put it up, something pushing their religion; wouldn't the Muslims have the same right to put it up in the public school, as they would? So, they'd better be very careful about the Ten Commandments and things going up in public schools. A lot of politicians, as I see it, making a political football out of the Ten Commandments, in a public school, public places. Now I believe in the Ten Commandments but I'd rather write them up on my heart than have them put up on a blackboard. That's a big thing. I'm not--people think I'm against things like that but I'm not against it. The Constitution says that there must be a separation of church and state. But, most of them want you to bring church and state together but there's a separation. FLINCHUM: That might not be the best thing for church, right? MCKINNEY: No. That's right. You can see that. Anybody who's got any--but I don't believe in kicking the Ten Commandments around like a political football. I believe in separation of church and state. But, they've got a bad mistake. Back in the old English, see, we copied a lot of our government from the English. At the head of the English, if they was Protestants, then everybody was Protestants. If they were some other form of religion and everybody would have to be. That's what you mean about separation of church and state. Let them be what they want to be. That's the way I see it, and that's the way I believe it, and that's the way I stand for it, and that's the way I fight for it. FLINCHUM: Another thing that was a big issue when you were in the legislature was abortion. I noticed, I think in the newspaper, once you had some lines about that. MCKINNEY: Abortion? FLINCHUM: How do you stand on that? MCKINNEY: Well, of course I'm against abortion. I believe that if the woman has a right to abort, then what about that child that's on the inside of her. Doesn't it have a right to live? So, I only believe, and I could go along with it, if it's to save the mother's life, to abort, then I could think I could go along with that. Other than that, I am strongly against abortion. I think abortion is murder. FLINCHUM: Was there a lot of talk about that in Frankfort during the seventies? MCKINNEY: No, not too much, not too much. Most people live like in, at that time in Frankfort--now nationally, is two different things. Nationally, that all originated from the national. Wade versus, what? FLINCHUM: Roe v. Wade? Supreme Court? MCKINNEY: Roe v. Wade. That started in Congress and there's a lot of people up there that was supporting Roe v. Wade, yeah. But, I think it went too far. I think it should only be to save the mother's life. It would have to be definitely that way before it. That unborn baby has a right to live, the way I see it. That's all I can say. I know I can't change it, but if I could, I would. FLINCHUM: Did the Vietnam War have a big impact on Kentucky, in your opinion? MCKINNEY: I don't think there's any one war that the visitors were treated more sorrier then there was in Vietnam. I think it had an impact. And it was a bad war; it was a no-end war. I wish it hadn't ever been. But--the good book speaks, "Wars have need to be." We could find that. So there's need of wars. I don't understand it all, but there has to be wars, as I see it. FLINCHUM: Were veterans treated with disrespect here in Jackson County or mainly in bigger cities? MCKINNEY: On the whole, the whole thing. When World War II, when we came out, they laid down the red carpet. They respected us. But the Vietnam soldiers, to me, was not respected. They didn't spread no red carpet for them. I think they was treated bad, myself. FLINCHUM: Um-hm. Just about everywhere? MCKINNEY: About everywhere, I think so, especially when they come home. They should've welcomed, given a better welcome than they did. FLINCHUM: Were there any riots here in Jackson County that you know of? MCKINNEY: I don't know of any, no. I don't know of any. FLINCHUM: Mainly in bigger cities? MCKINNEY: Big cities, yeah. Yeah. Yep. FLINCHUM: What about taxes? Do you have an opinion on 'Nunn's Nickel'? MCKINNEY: Huh? FLINCHUM: Taxes? What do you think about taxes? Like Louie B. Nunn's 5 percent tax? MCKINNEY: Well, the thing about it is everybody's against taxes, everybody is against it, most people, but how in the world can you run a government without taxes? There is just no way that we can carry on without a few taxes. If we get anything, we've got to pay for it. And the public has to pay for it. It was necessary. It had to be, it has to be. There have to be taxes. I don't care who's in. They are going to have taxes. Everybody makes everybody mad, I guess, but we can't have a government. Our government is supported by taxes, even nationally and state. Money don't grow on bushes. We can't go out and pick money from bushes. If we want anything we've got, if we want good roads and things, we've got to pay for it. That's the way I see it. FLINCHUM: You mentioned some of the needs of your constituents. You needed blacktop roads and-- MCKINNEY: We got that. FLINCHUM: And better teacher's pay. MCKINNEY: We've got to have 'em. You've got to have that. And somebody's got to pay for it. The Governor can't pay for it. He ain't got--people has to pay for it. Everything they are, people has to pay for it. People ought to realize that. I don't care who it is, Democrat or Republican. Louie B. Nunn, no other way out to but to raise the taxes; no other way out. FLINCHUM: When you went to Frankfort, who were some of the legislators that you remember getting to know? Who had an influence on you? MCKINNEY: Well, I don't think any of them influenced; I think I was just as smart as any of the rest of them. FLINCHUM: Who did you influence? MCKINNEY: I think that a lot of them would sit down around the table and things and they'd listen to me. But I was just, I think--an old country boy was as smart as any of the rest of them. There was none of them influenced me to do different than what I wanted to do. I didn't make an effort to influence. I just spoke up, reasoned. Come and let us reason together, says the Lord. So, I reasoned. I reasoned about taxes. I reasoned about these things. There's a reason to anything. You can't be--everybody else has just as much right as I do. Then, some people tries to control you, you know. But, you better not make no effort to try to control me; I don't want to be controlled. I like to reason together, but I don't want to be controlled by nobody. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: Was it hard being a legislator, having to make the long trips to Frankfort, and being a teacher and everything? MCKINNEY: Well, you see, when I was down there, I went down there and got me a room. I boarded down there and my wife stayed home and run her business. Every once in a while, she'd come down and stay with me. But, it was no problem, no problem at all. It was in the wintertime. And the hotels, and motels, and things like that didn't have as many, so there was plenty of space. They was glad, the hotel and motel people was glad to have us. And we got by cheap, cheap enough. FLINCHUM: What are some of the campaigns that stand out the most in your mind? (McKinney laughs) Were there some hot elections? MCKINNEY: Well, they's hot elections. But we'll have a hot election this fall, I think. The county judge race in this county is going to be a pretty hot election. I don't know. I won't comment who I'm for. I am a Republican. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: Would you say some elections were closer, or contested more hotly than others, or were they all about the same? MCKINNEY: Oh, they's closer, yeah. FLINCHUM: We're talking about primaries here, right? Because most of the voters were Republican. MCKINNEY: Most of the people here are Republicans. Yeah, this is a Republican county. You'll not fool with politics long--you won't be in politics long if you're not a Republican in Jackson County. They get you out. So, I'm a Republican. FLINCHUM: You say the hardest part of the race is making it through the primary and then you're good to go? (pause) You say the hardest part of getting elected in Jackson County is making it through the Republican primary? [Tape 1, side 1 ends; side 2 begins.] MCKINNEY: When I was a boy, preschool, I live on the same spot of land now than I did then. Even then, at four-, or five-, or six-years old, I would listen to people talk about politics. Then, I was talking about Democrats were running and Republicans running. Of course, I just heard one side of everything, at that time, and that was the Republican side. People, like the people, my dad and mommy, they thought it would be a sin if a person would pull a Democrat ticket. We were kindly raised that way. They would say such things, all wars--I heard my mommy say, "Oh, if that Democratic gets elected, why, little children is liable to be killed." Things like that. They didn't understand it all. All total. But, they were Republicans, and they went and voted. Back, people back then, they would not vote no other way. But now, I'm not that strong. You take national and state; I'm not a strong Republican or a Democrat. I try to vote for who I think's the best, national and state. County, I am strictly Republican, you know. That's just the way I am. That's all I know. (laughs) FLINCHUM: Do you have some favorite Presidents? Or, not so favorite Presidents? MCKINNEY: Yes, I have two. My two favorite Presidents, my two are--Abraham Lincoln. See, I think Abraham Lincoln kindly raised up something similar to what I was. Anyway, I've copied from Abraham Lincoln. My second now is not a Republican. My second favorite President is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I think he done a wonderful thing. See, I can remember the Great Depression. Why, we ride--my stepdad and my daddy would ride fifteen, or, ten or fifteen miles, five or six miles, and hoe corn, plow corn all day for thirty-cents a day. Didn't have any money. Then they come a big drought that year. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt had such thing as WPA, works projects, and then he had a CCC's, take the young man and ship them, working for us, a dollar a day, big money. Then he put people on WPA. The dads would work and got two dollars and something a day, blacktop, fixing gravel roads, and all that. Franklin Delano Roosevelt done a great thing to help the American people, so he's my--when I was at Frankfort down there, they tried to change something, the national birthdays, or the state, take somebody's birthday off. So, they could knock it out, wouldn't be off that day. Roosevelt come up, and I stood up on the floor and made a speech for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So he stayed on. See, these Democrats and Republicans, they always stuck with me on Franklin D. Roosevelt. I'm proud of that. FLINCHUM: He had a way of unifying people, didn't he? MCKINNEY: Yeah. Yep. FLINCHUM: Do you think that the Kentucky legislature has become much more independent over the years, even-- MCKINNEY: Definitely, definitely, from the time a Happy Chandler's day. Before Louie B. Nunn, we--before Louie B. Nunn, the Governor of Kentucky was General Assembly, and everything. He just said what he wanted and that's what they got. But now, in the Louie B. Nunn--see, the legislators got----------(??)they was, they was something, and then we got a big raise. Now, when we went down there, we got fifty dollars a day while we was working. Then when the General Assembly was over, it stopped. But under Louie B. Nunn, we got a hundred fifty dollars a month year-round. I don't know what they make now. They make good money now. But, it was under Louie B. Nunn that the legislation got a hundred fifty dollars a month during the whole two years that they's elected. That was something new. I believe that, at one time, they just got twenty-five dollars a day. But, under A.B. Chandler they got, it was raised up to fifty dollars a day. Under Louie B. Nunn, we got fifty dollars a day while we was there, and we got one hundred fifty dollars a month. I don't know what they get, they get more than that, I guess. They get a thousand or two a month now. I don't know what it is. FLINCHUM: I'm not sure. MCKINNEY: I'm not sure, either. But I know it really give me a boost. I bought me a car. FLINCHUM: What kind of a car did you get? MCKINNEY: I got a--wait a minute, it was a Chevrolet. I was elected in 1962--I got a '68, I believe--yeah, '68 Chevrolet. Slope back, yeah, I remember, slope back. I paid for it out of my representative money. Then I got a teachers raise, too, you know. I begin to get on my feet a little. All the teachers did. FLINCHUM: What's your opinion of the committee system? Do you think it's efficient? MCKINNEY: I think definitely, there ought to be a committee system. I think that, I don't think that any, no individual or few groups, they ought to listen to everybody. A committee is--even the school boards and everything, I think it ought to be a committee in schools. We ought to have a committee system, yeah. I'm strong for a committee system. FLINCHUM: What do you say about the tobacco buyout program? I know in the past there's been lots of tobacco farmers in Jackson County and fewer are all the time. MCKINNEY: Well, of course, I was against the buyout. I definitely, I wasn't a supporter and if I could stop it, I would. But, it become necessary I guess. People had nothing else to do. We, I don't think they really--see, they give you a buyout at seven dollars a pound. And you used to get over a ten-year period. You get ten checks. Seven dollars, and what to do is divide the seven dollars, then divide it by 10, and that's what you got a year. Well, or you can take a lump sum, all at once, but they cut you 20 percent. One-fifth off the top. Well, I was eighty what? Eighty-two? I don't think I would be around ten years so I got all of mine all at one time. They cut me 20 percent then when I got it all at once, I had to pay a big income tax on it, too. So really, I wasn't high in it but that's what they wanted and that's what they got, so. FLINCHUM: Do you think many farmers around here are going to reinvest that money in a different kind of agriculture? MCKINNEY: No, I doubt it. I doubt it. I've got mine on interest. I put it, I did put it on the interest, draw a little of it back. I get 3.75 interest on it. And I'm going to keep it but my two children will get it. I've had it fixed to them. FLINCHUM: What do you think about KERA? And I know this came about after you were in the legislature but the Kentucky Education Reform Act? Do you have some opinions on that? MCKINNEY: I can't--I don't know what you're talking about. FLINCHUM: Public education and KERA? Do you think it is going in the right direction, our public schools? MCKINNEY: Well, I do, I do. I think it is. I think we are doing good. I tell you what, the system we have now beats walking to school when I had to go. Didn't have a school bus. Now, it's a--if they miss the school bus they won't even go to school. I think it's so much better. I think our education system in the state of Kentucky, I'm going to say, tremendous progress, tremendous. I think the whole nation it has, as a whole, yeah. But Kentucky, especially. (laughs) FLINCHUM: And you taught for how many years? Thirty? MCKINNEY: Well, I'm drawing retirement. See, I was in the Army, I'm drawing retirement on thirty-four, but some of that was Army time. FLINCHUM: Okay. MCKINNEY: Whenever I first started teaching, we got--listen to what the teachers got. They got one water bucket, they got one dipper, they got two erasers, and a box of chalk. That's everything they got. FLINCHUM: (laughs) No computers? MCKINNEY: No computers. No. Think on that. Why in the world teachers want to complain now. If they was back whenever I first started teaching. And everybody drunk out of the same dipper. (both laugh). FLINCHUM: We've come a long way, haven't we? MCKINNEY: We've come a long ways, baby. FLINCHUM: Looking back, besides just education, how has Kentucky as a whole changed over the years? MCKINNEY: They have--(laughs)--went from zero to almost 100 percent. So, ----------(??). FLINCHUM: In a few decades? MCKINNEY: In a few dec--what, progress has been made in education and school. Because I don't know, these other countries in the world are probably ahead of us, but. Then another thing, I don't know, of course, I think they made a bad mistake when they took the paddle out of school. I think they did. King Solomon is the wisest man is ever known on Earth, according to some books. And King Solomon said that if we spare the rod, we spoil the child. I don't mean, now that they should be (??) beatings, but just good discipline is a rod, the way I see it. So--they complained, complained, complained about taking the Bible out of school, but when they took the paddle out of the school, that hurt worse. I believe children ought to be disciplined, and discipline is the paddle I'm talking about. I'm not, I'm not for beating a child like that old teacher did me, cut the blood out of me; that didn't help me but I believe that a child should be disciplined even if we have to be the last thing, if we have to use the paddle in the presence of other teachers. I don't believe in beating. I never beat a child but I have paddled in my time. They're all right. They hugged me now. I had one teacher, one boy I met down at Wal-Mart and come up and shook hands with me, "Do you know me?" I said, "No, I sure don't." He said, "You ought to; you wore me out." (Flinchum laughs) But then he hugged me, he said, "If you ever need me, don't be afraid to call me." He said, "You made a man out of me." And I think I did. I didn't beat him but I let him know who was boss. He tore somebody's cabbage (??) up and I paddled over it. (laughs). FLINCHUM: Did you see a lot less discipline in schools when you were a substitute teacher? Before you retired. MCKINNEY: Yes, yes I do. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I talked; I set down and talked to children. And I think we should sit down and talk to them. Reason things out. They get a running now, if they get to running wild, I think they ought to be disciplined. Sending them to the blue room helps. They send them to the blue room now. What they called the blue room. They take their plan away from them. I think that helps, yeah. FLINCHUM: You mentioned that, you think a lot of young people. You like to talk to the kids in the schools? MCKINNEY: Yeah. FLINCHUM: If years from now some of those kids are listening to this tape, what would you want them to think about? Where would you like for them to take Kentucky in the decades to come? MCKINNEY: Well, it's up to them. Their life is--well, old George Jones sings a song about the choices he made. So, we live and die by the choices we make. If you listen to the voice you hear, you wouldn't be living and dying by the choices you make. We've got to listen, you've got to understand, make a decision. You can make the wrong choice. Be careful what choices you make and learn to support yourself, quickly as you can. FLINCHUM: You mentioned earlier some poems that you've written. Would you mind reciting any of those for the tape? MCKINNEY: I can, I can. Somebody asked me, "Are you a Democrat or a Republican?" And I said, "Listen to this and make your own decision." And this was written in 1966, some where's along there: Now, listen my friends and you shall hear, the Republican Party is full in gear. The American people, they like Ike. So right to their polls, next year, they're going to hike. It is my prediction that we will win with Nixon, because our tax dollars are rocketing to the sky, while LBJ through Texas flies. And the grace of scientists say feed them ham, while our boys die in Vietnam. So you see my friends, I'm telling you straight, it's goodbye Johnson in 68. Now, am I a Republican or a Democrat? (laughs) FLINCHUM: I think I know which one you are. (both laugh) MCKINNEY: I think you're right. FLINCHUM: And you said you wrote that before Nixon had even announced his candidacy? MCKINNEY: Oh yes, I wrote that before Nixon ever announced for President. And he, it came out like I said. FLINCHUM: Are there any other favorite poems that you would like to recite? MCKINNEY: Well, I wrote some, "Boy Behind The Door," and all that, but I don't want to quote anymore of them right now. FLINCHUM: Oh, okay, that's fine. Is there anything else that you'd like to say for the record? Anything that I didn't think to ask you about? MCKINNEY: Well, I'd like to say to the young people. Children, you can make anything you want to, if you've got the courage, and the determination to do it. Hang in there, and do what you want. Make something. [Tape 1, side 2 ends.] [End of interview.] McKinney (House 1968-1972, 79th district; 1980-1982, 84th district; Republican) discusses attending and later teaching in a one room schoolhouse in Jackson County, his ambition to become a teacher, military service during WWII, his philosophy of government, impressions of Kentucky governors, key legislation in education, the tobacco buyout program, and concludes by reciting political poetry that he has written. Kentucky Legislature