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2006-07-18 Interview with Richard Fryman, July 18, 2006 Leg001:2006OH119 Leg 122 0:30:53 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Clinton County (Ky.) Wayne County (Ky.) Cumberland County (Ky.) Russell County (Ky.) United States. Army Turner, Richard Eagle Pass Cheese Company Bourbon County (Ky.) Wallace, George House (1980-1984), 53rd district Clinton County (Ky.)--Wayne County (Ky.)--Cumberland County (Ky.)--Russell County (Ky.)--Bourbon County (Ky.) Richard Fryman; interviewee Jessica Flinchem; interviewer 2006OH119_LEG122_Fryman 1:|23(7)|46(11)|57(4)|72(3)|80(4)|90(10)|113(12)|129(3)|164(5)|175(7)|198(1)|211(2)|235(9)|254(2)|266(6)|281(4)|295(8)|305(11)|326(2)|345(9)|381(5)|406(5)|422(2)|433(9)|450(8)|463(2)|473(4)|502(1)|525(2)|537(4) audiotrans Legit interview FLINCHUM: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative Richard Fryman who represented Clinton, Wayne, Cumberland, and Russell counties in the Fifty-Third District between 1980 and 1984. The interview was conducted by Jessica Flinchum for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on Tuesday, July 18, 2006, at Dairy Queen in Albany, Kentucky, at ten o'clock AM. What's your full name? FRYMAN: Full name is James Richard Fryman. FLINCHUM: James Richard Fryman. FRYMAN: Right. And when I joined the Army, I put Richard James and everything, my social security and everything's in Richard James instead of James Richard. FLINCHUM: Ah, so that changed it around. FRYMAN: Yes, ma'am. FLINCHUM: When and where were you born? FRYMAN: Uh, I was born in Montgomery County just across, across the line from Bourbon County. FLINCHUM: Montgomery County. And when, when was that? FRYMAN: September 23, 1935. FLINCHUM: Nineteen thirty-five. What can you tell me about your family, maybe grandparents, your parents? FRYMAN: Well, my grandfather, Mark Fryman, was from Cynthiana, Harrison County. Had a farm there. And he bought a farm in Bourbon County in 1927. They loaded the mules and wagons up and moved to Bourbon County and Frymans have been in Bour-, my Frymans have been in Bourbon County since then. FLINCHUM: So your, your grandpa is from Cynthiana? FRYMAN: From Harrison County. FLINCHUM: Oh, oh, okay, um, what can you tell me about growing up in Bourbon County? Like what did your dad do? FRYMAN: He was a farmer, raised tobacco and cattle. And, uh, I was, uh, I'd went to the YMCA every time I had an opportunity. And we had, uh, a Bobbie Wagner(??) from Paris, Kentucky. He, he was a former Golden Glove, Lexington Golden Gloves champion. And I'd had a few fights in school and had a little reputation. And the last fight I had I'd remember in school, the principal sent for me. And he said, uh, "Richard," he said, "you've got some ability," because I'd whipped all the bullies. (both laugh) And he says, "You need to go down to the YMCA." He asked me if I've went to the YMCA, and I said, "Yeah. Why, yeah, I go to the YMCA all the time." He said, "Well, look up Bobbie Wagner; he's a former Golden Gloves champion and he'll teach you how to box." So I went, the next time I went to the YMCA, I looked Bobbie up. And he had a boy that he was training at that time for the Golden Gloves. and he said--and I never had had no, you know, boxing training--he said, "I'm going to put these gloves on you with this boy." He says, "He won't hurt you. But, uh, I'll see if you've got any ability." In the second round I knocked him out. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: Was he convinced? (both laugh) FRYMAN: Yeah, he, he, he really stayed on, he started training me. And, uh, boxing is just-- see, a lot of people don't understand boxing. But it's, uh, just like basketball, any other sport. Like basketball, you learn how to handle the ball and how to dribble and how to shoot a one-hand and two-hand. And, and in boxing you learn how to throw your left jab, and your left hook, and your right cross, and how to work your feet. and, and there's more art to boxing than a lot of people think. So he entered me in the Golden Gloves in Lexington in(??), the first time and I was champion in '52. And I'm, I was a lightweight. and, uh, that(??) was a novice championship. And then in '53 I fought open division, and, uh, I was runner-up. Marion Corn(??) was his name, yeah, he beat me on a split decision in '53. And then I fought him in '54 for the championship and beat him on a unanimous decision. And then I got a letter from, uh, manager in New York that wanted me to turn pro. And I wrote him back and told him, "Daddy wouldn't give me no money to go to New York," and I wrote him a letter and told him that I didn't have no money; I couldn't come up there. He wrote back and said he was headed, him and his fighters were headed to Florida. They went down and stayed in Florida during the season, in the winter. So he sent me a bus ticket and $50, or $75, or $100 dollars spending money. And I got on a bus in Paris and rode to Miami Beach, Florida. And I had four fights down there and won all four--well, three of them; had one draw. Then I came back to Kentucky, and before I went to the Army I had three professional fights. went to Owensboro and had two of them, Louisville and won all three of them. And at the, one of the fights I had in Louisville was, they had started a program where they were going to have a professional--first time and only time it was every done in the state of Kentucky--they, uh, they had, they picked, uh, the best fighters from all the divisions and had a tournament who would be the state professional lightweight champion, heavyweight champion. And, uh, and I won the tournament and I was the first and it hasn't been done since but that was the only time that they ever named a professional champion in Kentucky. FLINCHUM: Hm. FRYMAN: Cut it off. FLINCHUM: Okay. [Pause in recording.] FLINCHUM: Okay, uh, you mentioned that you have two sons who took after their dad in some ways? FRYMAN: Yes ma'am. uh, Jeffrey and Greg Fryman. uh, both of them were two-time Kentucky Golden Glove champions and we went to Tennessee one year. and, uh, kicked their hind ends and so they have three state championships, each one. And both of them turned pro with, uh, a manager from Cincinnati. and he went broke and he was trying to sell their contracts to a promoter in New York and I didn't want them to go to New York with somebody that I didn't know, so I made both of them pack their bags and come home. and sent them both back to college. FLINCHUM: Where did they go to college? FRYMAN: Uh, UK. FLINCHUM: Okay. FRYMAN: And Jeffrey got his master's at Nashville. He's a speech pathologist. And Greg got his degree in business and he got his masters at Bowling Green. FLINCHUM: Okay. FRYMAN: And Greg's a speech pathologist at Columbia now, and, uh, Greg's with the vocational school at Somerset. FLINCHUM: Okay, great, um. [Pause in recording.] FRYMAN: -------------(??) you lead. FLINCHUM: Soon after, uh, the boxing championship, you told me about winning, um, you ended up entering the military. FRYMAN: Yes. FLINCHUM: Can you tell me the story about that? FRYMAN: Well, um, you want to hear the part about the wreck? FLINCHUM: Yeah. FRYMAN: Well, uh, I came home, uh, home from Florida and supposed to go on to New York, but I was going to stay at home for a couple of weeks before I went to New York. and I got into one of Daddy's automobiles and went to Lexington, and I didn't know he didn't have insurance on it and had a wreck. FLINCHUM: Uh-oh. FRYMAN: And the guy was suing for ten or twenty-thousand dollars and there's a lot of money back then. And I found out some way--I don't remember how--but if you joined the military, they couldn't follow through with the lawsuit. So I joined the Army and went to Fort Knox for my first eight weeks of training. Then I went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for my second eight weeks. And while we were down there, they had a formation, asking for paratrooper volunteers. Well, I didn't know what a paratrooper was. never had been in an airplane, old country boy. Went in at sixty, uh, our pay when we went in the Army was sixty-eight dollars a month. Course, I thought I was rich getting sixty-eight dollars a month. They had a special formation asking for airborne volunteers. like I said while ago, they were going all through all this, airplanes and jumping out, blah, blah, this and I didn't know what a paratrooper was, never been in an airplane. At the end of his speech, he said, "On top of everything else, you get fifty dollars extra a month for jumping." FLINCHUM: Whoopee. FRYMAN: And just a few seconds later, he asked for everybody wanted to volunteer to raise their hand. Man, I shot, I was going to get that fifty dollars. (both laugh) I'd a jumped out of anything for fifty dollars a month. (both laugh) Can you understand that? FLINCHUM: Um-hm. FRYMAN: See the pay was sixty-eight. I's making sixty-eight dollars a month and by going to airborne school and being a paratrooper, I was going to get fifty dollars extra a month. FLINCHUM: That's a huge raise. FRYMAN: Course you had to jump once a month to qualify for that. But I didn't mind that a bit. So then I went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. and had a good company commander. And at that time when you got through airborne school, you made PFC. And I'd been out about two or three months and we got a quota down for what they call jump masters. And the company commander picked me out, and called me in, and wanted to know if I wanted to go to jump master school. I said, "Yeah, what's in it for me?" He said "Well, if you come, if you make it I'll make you a corporal." So I went and went through jump master school and came through with honors and got my jump master's badge and he made me a corporal. Well, I was a corporal for about five or six months and we got a quota down for two rangers in our company. He called me in and said, "Corporal Fryman, would you want to go to ranger school?" And I didn't know what ranger school, what a ranger was, and he explained it to me, and told me how tough it was, and how rough it was going to be, and I said, "Well, what's in it for me?" and he said "Well, if you make it, you'll make staff sergeant." I said, "Well, send me to ranger school." (both laugh) So he sent me to ranger school. and I got through it, and. FLINCHUM: You soon found out what it meant to be a ranger, right? FRYMAN: Yes, boy. It's un--you couldn't, you wouldn't, I could tell you tales and you wouldn't believe it. It is, whew. FLINCHUM: You explained to me earlier that it's the rangers who are trained to jump behind enemy lines during wartime. FRYMAN: Oh yeah, yeah. And, uh, on most of their missions, 80 percent of them got killed. And(??) it was almost a suicidal thing but it was a great thing to be a ranger. You were the best of the best. FLINCHUM: Um-hm. FRYMAN: And I always had to prove that I was the best of the best. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: At boxing or in the military. (both laugh) [Pause in recording.] FRYMAN: Right. (both laugh) And, uh, on a jump, this particular jump, there, uh, you come to the door to jump out, and a lot of people, if they look down where they're going, they call it, they freeze. I mean stiff as that wood. Just you can't budge them. And the guy in front of me froze in the door. He looked down and he froze. And man, we liked to never got him out, and finally I got on one side and the other guy got on the other side and we just threw him out. Then, that guy went out like that and his parachute hung on mine-- FLINCHUM: --uh-oh-- FRYMAN: --and just(??) dragged me out and I went out turning flip-flops. And when I opened my chute, it wrapped around my leg and I thought it done pulled my leg off. And I hit the ground. and the ambulance was waiting there for me and took me to the hospital, and I stayed in the hospital about two months. Came back to the company and they had papers on me that I couldn't no longer jump. Course me and the company commander were the best of friends, and I went and I said, "Captain Anderson(??), I'm not going to accept that. I'm going to jump." He looked at me like I's a nut. He said, "Well, if you really feel that way about it Sergeant Fryman," he said, "I'll tell you what I'll do." He said, "If you stay in my company," he says, "I'll just jump you ever three months." See, at that time if you jump this time it paid for the three months back and gave you three months forward. So he, he didn't put me--see, the company jumped about every month, but he just put me on the jump list enough to, for me to--I told him I didn't want to give up my jump pay. (both laugh) And then, of course, he was a good company commander and I was wanting to stay with him, too. FLINCHUM: Did you enjoy actually the jumping itself? I know the pay was good but was it fun flying through the air like that-- FRYMAN: --oh yeah. oh I forgot, yeah, a good part. I'll tell you the good part. And an old veteran taught me how to do this. See you can pull your air str-, grab both--see, you've got four things(??) up here and you grabbed them and pulled them down, you, you can fall faster or you can pull the two front ones and go forward ------------(??) pull the back ones. And so, we got to playing games. uh, you know you jumped out, you, you can guide your parachute to a certain degree, and, and I'd get over, uh, another person's parachute and grab their strings and crawl down it. (both laugh) And one old boy fainted when I got down there. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: He didn't expect company up there, did he? (both laugh) FRYMAN: And, but then one time I was maneuvering around, and see, if you get exactly over another person's parachute, he, it's an air vacuum that you run into and--(slapped hands)--you just drop about two hundred feet before your chute gets back open. So I slowed down a little bit on the foolishness in the jumping. (Flinchum laughs) Well, I went ahead and served Captain Anderson and he tried every way in the world to get me to reenlist and I was wanting to come home. And, uh, he offered to make me Sergeant First Class if I'd reenlist and I turned it down. And I didn't--and sixty--at that time they called you in sixty days before you, you discharged to interview you. and I didn't, I hadn't, I went on the marches. I had 30 percent disability, had a bad knee, but I always went on the marches. I didn't shirk my duty and never dreamt about no pension check. and, uh, getting you ready for a discharge, the last guy, uh, done a complete interview, like you are now, on your military and up to present. And the last question he asked me, he said, "Now, Sergeant Fryman, has anything happened to you since you've been in the service that you might have a disability?" I said "Yeah," I said, "I got on hurt on a jump and I got a bad knee." And he got the- -and he called in a doctor got to looking at my knee and they put me in the hospital. and, uh, start processing me for a medical discharge. and I ended up with 30 percent. And at that time when you got 30 percent, you got, uh, what they called a medical retirement. I've(??) got the same benefits as a person that served twenty years or thirty years. The only difference is their check is a lot bigger than mine. FLINCHUM: Hm. FRYMAN: But I got, I've had free medical, I've got what they call Tricare for me and my wife and my family. And so, that's about, you want to hear anything else about the military? FLINCHUM: Anything else that, that you want to tell me, yeah. FRYMAN: No. It's, it's, about the re-, I told, oh, we hadn't put the relationship on tape, have we? FLINCHUM: No, no. FRYMAN: Did you know that if you serve six months with a person in the military that two lifetimes in civilian life, you won't be as close as you were with that person in the military that you served six months or eight months or a year with. it's unbelievable at the relationship. And then, the second thing on the relationship is serving in the legislature. That's gets close to the military but not close enough. It's, the military is way ahead. FLINCHUM: But serving in Frankfort is very similar to that experience? FRYMAN: Yes, ma'am, it, uh, uh, serving up there with two or three or four years with a person, uh, you've got civilian friends that you've known for twenty or thirty years, and you are not as close to them as you were with the people that you served in the military or the legislature. Did you ever hear anybody say that? FLINCHUM: I heard you this morning. (both laugh) I've heard some say that they develop some really close relationships, friendships in the General Assembly, but I don't think I'd ever heard it compared to the military. FRYMAN: And can you believe a good guy like me got along with a hardheaded guy like Danny Ford or Tommy Todd? (both laugh) FLINCHUM: Yeah. (both laugh) You mentioned earlier those are some, some good friends of yours you served with-- FRYMAN: --oh, the best-- FLINCHUM: --Danny Ford, Tommy Todd. FRYMAN: Oh, there's a bunch of them, but they, they stick out. Oh yeah, uh, we on the legislative part now? FLINCHUM: We can be. (laughs) FRYMAN: Okay. Um, got elected. and guess who one of the first knotheads I ran into? FLINCHUM: A knothead? I'm, I'm afraid to guess anybody with a description like that. (laughs) FRYMAN: Did you ever hear of Richard Turner from Hopkinsville(??)? FLINCHUM: Yeah. FRYMAN: Huh? FLINCHUM: Yeah. FRYMAN: Uh, well, do you know what our connections were? FLINCHUM: No. FRYMAN: Well, I was a field representative for Eagle Pass Cheese Company. You know what that is, don't you? Farmer's milking and you go out and check on and inspect their milk houses and try to get new customers to change from Cudahy and Richard Turner was with Cudahy and I was with Eagle Pass Cheese Company here at Albany, and we bumped heads for ten years. (laughs) FLINCHUM: So you were competing with one another for the, the cheese business-- FRYMAN: --yeah, he was trying, yeah, he was trying to get my milk customers and I was trying to get his milk customers, so we could make more cheese. (both laugh) And, uh, but he was the first knothead I ran into when I run(??) up to Frankfort. FLINCHUM: Hm. FRYMAN: But we were, we're the best of buddies. just, uh, and if you ever run-, uh, if you ever run into Richard Turner or have to interview him, you tell him what a knothead he is. (both laugh) And-- FLINCHUM: --I'll make a note of that, knothead. FRYMAN: Yeah, and tell him who you heard it from. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: Explain to me how you, uh, became acquainted with your wife. FRYMAN: Well, it's a big tale but I'm going to tell you from the beginning. There was a Crabtree boy that lived in Byrdstown, Tennessee. See, I was from Bourbon County and, uh, there was a Evans boy that I went to school with and we were good friends and we were at Campbell together. And we would leave Fort Campbell and come to Glasgow, and we took 68, I believe it was, on in, worked our way on into Lexington. Crabtree would get out at Glasgow and hitchhike on to Albany and Byrdstown, Tennessee. FLINCHUM: Hm. FRYMAN: Well, we got to Glasgow one Saturday afternoon. See(??), we just had, uh, a half a day Saturday and Sunday and had to be back at the post Monday morning. But we got at Glasgow and it was pouring down rain, and I looked at the map and didn't know what I was looking at, and I told Evans, I said "Evans, it's pouring down rain." I said, "We can't let Crabtree hitchhike in the rain." I said, "Let's run him down to Byrdstown and we'll work our way back up to Paris." "All," he said, "all right." And, of course, time we got to Albany, down here to Byrdstown it was late, and we had to be back Monday, so we decided to just stay down this weekend with, uh, Crabtree. And so we stayed that week with Crabtree and we went to Albany. and he was courting Barbara Sue Latham and Bar-, Reba and Barbara Sue were the best of friends. And, uh, we parked on the square. and Reba got out of her boyfriend's car and walked across the street. And I stretched my neck looking at her. And--(Flinchum laughs)--Crabtree said, "You liked the looks of that?" And I said, "Yeah, yeah. Looks good." He said, "I'll get you a date with that." I thought, He's crazy. I didn't know that he knew her and how close they were. So, I got a blind date with Reba. I shouldn't put that part in about(??), but, yeah, she got in my car, wouldn't get out, so I had to marry her. FLINCHUM: So, that's how you came to live in this part of the state, right? FRYMAN: Right. And, uh, oh yeah, I've--and, uh, and I was going to farm when I got out of the military, and land in Bourbon County was outrageous. You had to be a millionaire to, you know, are you familiar with Bourbon County and Fayette? FLINCHUM: You're either a big farmer or you're not a farmer there, right? FRYMAN: Right, right. You, uh, and, uh, and then my pap-in-law, he owned about seven hundred acres of land, Reba's daddy. And, uh, I got to looking around. They didn't know how to raise tobacco down here. and, uh, I decided I'd come to Clinton County and try(??) farming. So I got out of the Army and went in debt up to here on land. I bought, in two years time I owned three hundred and sixty-five acres of land. in debt up to here. And, and struggled and struggled and struggled. and finally made it. FLINCHUM: How did you first become interested in politics? FRYMAN: Well, I was a big supporter of George Wallace when he ran for President. and, uh, there were, I can't reme--well, I'm getting old and feeble-minded. There was a couple of issues that I was really upset with that was going on in the state at that time. and, and I had been a field representative for Eagle Pass Cheese Company and we covered about twenty-five counties in southern Kentucky and, and northern Tennessee and, uh. and I quit being a field representative. I thought I'd go into business for myself, so I opened a in--me and I got two, two or three of my buddies together, and we went together and formed this insurance company and, uh, started the insurance business. And I was into that for about three years. Then I got upset with some of the state doings and I thought I'd run for state representative to see if I could do anything about any of it. and, uh, got out and called on all my old milk customers from Cumberland County, and Wayne County, and Clinton County. And the first time I ran, Randolph Smith was the incumbent in Wayne County, and he'd been up there about three terms. and powerful politician. He beat me the first time, uh, I believe, it was forty or fifty votes. FLINCHUM: Um, close. FRYMAN: Yeah. So I thought I'd give him another try and I beat him the second time about ninety votes. (Flinchum laughs) And then he ran against me again for reelection and I beat him the second time. FLINCHUM: Do you think that you're-- FRYMAN: --and then -----------(??)-- FLINCHUM: --go ahead-- FRYMAN: --go ahead. No, you ask the questions. FLINCHUM: Do you think that your experience with the, as a cheese company representative, you know, getting out there and knowing so many of the farmers, uh, was a big help in running for political office? FRYMAN: Oh, uh, yes. and also being in the insurance business. You know, getting in, you know, I'd say insurance, if you're, that'd be into your personal life, wouldn't it? FLINCHUM: Um-hm. FRYMAN: Yeah, cause when you came in to get car insurance I had to ask you a lot of personal questions. how many wrecks you had and how many speeding tickets? (laughs) FLINCHUM: So you knew your neighbors really well. FRYMAN: Yeah, yeah. And, and it, uh, and I had accommodated a lot of people as a field representative for Eagle Pass Cheese Company. and made a lot of friends throughout all the county-- FLINCHUM: --of course(??)--I'm sorry. FRYMAN: Go ahead, lead. FLINCHUM: Were some of the issues that you were concerned about, um, related to farming, maybe some problems that farmers-- FRYMAN: --right, right. And real estate taxes, and this, and that, and I forget what all there was but I was really upset. FLINCHUM: Um-hm. So, that's how you became interested in politics at that point in your life. Um, who were some of your favorite Presidents and favorite Governors, or maybe some of your least favorites? FRYMAN: Well, uh, I guess one of my fav--of course, I'm a Republican. But I guess if I had to pick a, uh, a favorite governor I'd have to pick out Happy Chandler. And very few people know this but Happy Chandler, uh, built more roads and graveled more roads in Clinton County than all the other Governors put together. And he was really good to our--and Happy Chandler was a great Governor. And, I guess the President, I'd have to go with Eisenhower. [Pause in recording.] FLINCHUM: Okay, uh. okay, a second ago when we had the, the tape paused, um, I asked you about, you know, what are some of the most important issues in Kentucky politics. How have things changed, how should things change, what is very important to you? FRYMAN: Well, I think the most important thing that we need in Kentucky is for the Christian people to step forward, and the politicians to step forward, and this nation was founded on Christian principles, and it needs to follow the Christian beliefs. and all this foolishness about the Pledge of Allegiance and prayers out of school, and it's ridiculous. We all need to go back to it. FLINCHUM: Okay. Thank you very much for a good interview. FRYMAN: Thank you. [End of interview.] Fryman recounts his boxing career, his military service as a paratrooper in the Army, and his decision to run for politics. He concludes the interview by giving his thoughts on important issues facing Kentucky. insert here