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2006-08-03 Interview with William K. "Bill" Henry, August 3, 2006 Leg001:2006OH157 Leg 143 0:51:12 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements) Kentucky. Governor (1955-1959 : Chandler) Kentucky. Governor (1967-1971 : Nunn) Kentucky. Governor (1983-1987 : Collins) Collins, Martha Layne Nunn, Louie B., 1924- Tobacco Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985. Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991. campaigning political philosophy legislative independence Term/District: House (1960), 56th district; House (1966-1968) 62nd district Counties in District: Harrison County (Ky.)--Scott County (Ky.) William K. "Bill" Henry; interviewee Catherine Herdman; interviewer 2006OH157_LEG143_Henry 1:|14(2)|52(1)|88(8)|117(8)|156(5)|186(2)|221(4)|244(13)|274(6)|308(5)|339(5)|369(12)|413(5)|441(15)|481(7)|511(4)|540(6)|564(13)|594(6)|622(8)|660(2)|685(14)|724(6)|750(5)|772(7)|804(1)|828(9)|857(2)|888(3)|915(8)|940(4)|979(4)|1026(5)|1056(15)|1086(2)|1115(3)|1159(5)|1185(1)|1220(11)|1262(12)|1295(5)|1339(3)|1368(5)|1415(4)|1446(2)|1488(7)|1522(11)|1558(8)|1591(10)|1615(11)|1643(5) audiotrans Legit interview HERDMAN: Good morning, Mr. Henry. Let's start with your family. Where were you born and who were your parents? HENRY: Mr. and Mrs. Davis Henry. I was born in Scott County. Stamping Ground, you might say, either one you want to put. HERDMAN: What did your parents do for a living? HENRY: Farmed. HERDMAN: Okay, for your whole life? HENRY: Well, no. When we moved to town, they sold the farms, and so we had about a three or four hundred, about five or six hundred acres at one time. I think that he sold all of it. HERDMAN: What kind of crops did they raise? Livestock, or? HENRY: Livestock and tobacco. Of course, back in that time, you didn't have a farm unless you raised tobacco. HERDMAN: Um hm. When did they sell the farm? HENRY: Oh, I'd say back in the twenties, something like that. HERDMAN: And what was the reason? HENRY: That what? HERDMAN: That they sold the farm. Why did they sell it? HENRY: On account of financial reasons. They was over their head in debt, and they lost all the farms. HERDMAN: What did he do after that, for work? HENRY: What did he do? HERDMAN: Um-hm. HENRY: He was in the real estate business. HERDMAN: Okay. When you said you moved into town, did you mean into Georgetown? HENRY: Yes. HERDMAN: Okay, and where did you go to school? HENRY: Where did I go to school? I went to Garth High School. Then, I went to Georgetown College, and then I got a degree from a big place Fugazzi. Have you heard of Fugazzi? _____ (??) HERDMAN: Yep, and what was your degree there? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: What was your degree in? HENRY: Just about six months what it was, that I went through two or three sets of books. That was it. HERDMAN: Okay, what do you remember about growing up in this area? Did you play games or were you involved in extracurricular? HENRY: Basketball, I played on the basketball team. HERDMAN: In high school? HENRY: Yes, I was a regular the last season, I mean, last year when I was in school, the basketball games. HERDMAN: Did your family attend church? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: Did your family attend church? HENRY: Yes, I was brought up in church. HERDMAN: What church? HENRY: My daddy was a Christian and my mother was a Presbyterian. I started off with him and then finally I ended up being a Presbyterian. HERDMAN: What made you get interested in politics? HENRY: Well, I just liked people, and so, I worked my way through school. I had paper routes and then I had a popcorn machine on Saturday. Then from about two o' clock till about nine or ten o' clock and so the thing about it, I had a lot of odd jobs and things like that when I went to college and I worked my way through. HERDMAN: How old were you when you first ran for your first campaign? HENRY: When I ran the first time? HERDMAN: Yes. HENRY: I think I was around about twenty-five or twenty-six, something like that. HERDMAN: Did someone ask you to do it, like the Democratic Party, or did you decide on your own? HENRY: No, I could give you a political answer. I wanted to do it on my own. Nobody- HERDMAN: How did you run the first campaign? Was it- HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: The first campaign, was it door-to-door, or how did you run? HENRY: Well, that's the only way I've ran campaigns, is door-to-door. HERDMAN: So you knocked on doors throughout the counties that you represent? HENRY: Yes, in two counties. HERDMAN: No radio ads or newspaper anything like that? HENRY: What? HERDMAN: No radio ads or newspaper? HENRY: Well, I had radio ads, and newspaper ads. HERDMAN: Okay, who did you run against in your first campaign? HENRY: A man by the name of Beasley (??). HERDMAN: Was he also Democrat? Was it in a primary? HENRY: He was a Democrat. Thing about it that I had to run against him twice and so I beat him both times. HERDMAN: Okay, and after you won the primary, did you have to face a Republican, or was there not a Republican? HENRY: No, there wasn't a Republican nominee. HERDMAN: Okay, when you first went to Frankfort what were your impressions? HENRY: What was my what? HERDMAN: Your impression when you first went to Frankfort. HENRY: Oh, I thought it was great. HERDMAN: Yeah, how were things run? What was your day-to-day routine? HENRY: Well, you answered roll call the first thing in the morning, and then you went on with different business. What the business was of the day, and so if you wanted to, the floor was always open to take, if you had anything to say or had any questions you could take part in the. HERDMAN: And you felt like that open dialogue continued while you were there? HENRY: Well, I don't know what you mean by it. HERDMAN: The opportunity to speak and introduce a bill even as a freshman. Yeah, that continued? HENRY: Yeah, always introduced a few bills. HERDMAN: Okay. HENRY: About a half a dozen bills every time. HERDMAN: Every session? HENRY: Yes, I had two or three get passed. I couldn't tell you they were about. HERDMAN: Okay, what were your constituents concerned with at that time? What was the big issue for Scott County? HENRY: Oh, well, there wasn't but one issue at the time. The big issue was-public was interested in was tobacco. Of course we don't have tobacco anymore. It's out. I guess you know that, don't you? HERDMAN: Um-hm. HENRY: Yes. HERDMAN: So what kind of issues were going on surrounding tobacco? Like what were the- HENRY: Well, now, ______ (??) put a tax on tobacco and things like that. It's always down there. When you go down there's always taxes trying to be put on. We didn't have any luck much. HERDMAN: Okay, who was the first Governor you served under? HENRY: Earle Clements. HERDMAN: Okay, and what were your impressions of Mr. Clements? HENRY: Well, I thought he was great. He was a great man. He was a very close friend of a fellow that you probably heard of or read about and they were just like brothers is Earle-I mean, is Alvin Barkley. Did you ever hear that name? HERDMAN: Um-hm. HENRY: Yeah, he was your Vice-President. HERDMAN: What committees did you serve on? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: What committees did you serve on? HENRY: Well, I served on the city and the county committees, and I can't tell you the titles of them right now. HERDMAN: Sure, that's fine. HENRY: After thirty-six years, I can forget a little bit as far as that goes. HERDMAN: (laughs) So you would run every term. HENRY: No, we had a rotation agreement. When I went down there, the thing about it, one county had it one term, and then finally we got together. See they would take it one time and we would take it the other, and then we went two terms. So that was the way the situation was set up. HERDMAN: Okay and was that just a gentlemen's agreement, or did you have a contract to do that? HENRY: No, it was just a gentlemen's agreement. It was decided between the candidates and the counties such as the county judge and those both agreed to it, and that's the way it got to be. HERDMAN: So you would support the other candidate in the rotating schedule when it wasn't your term? HENRY: Well, the thing about it, there wasn't any other candidate to it. Even if they had a race, you supported whoever you liked, as far as that goes. There wasn't any such thing as the other candidate. What he was but he was just representing his home county like I was, as that goes. HERDMAN: Did the counties have very different needs, or was it pretty much the same issues? HENRY: About the same issues, we lived in the same- HERDMAN: The same area? HENRY: Yeah, come back to it, I ran two races and lost during my time, out of the eight. That was the railroad commissioner and I ran for county judge. HERDMAN: So you lost those two but won the House seat. HENRY: I won six times in the House. HERDMAN: Okay. What was the economic situation here in Georgetown at that time? Were there jobs, roads? Were those the concern? HENRY: Yeah, yeah. It was good (??). HERDMAN: Were you ever in the Armed Services? HENRY: Yes. HERDMAN: Okay, when did you serve? HENRY: Do I look like a veteran? HERDMAN: Yes. (laughs) You do. HENRY: I served in a terrible place. I had to do all of my time overseas, and not a one sympathized with me. HERDMAN: Oh yeah, where were you? HENRY: In a terrible place. Where would you think would be a terrible place? HERDMAN: I don't know. I wouldn't want to go to Korea, or anywhere like that. HENRY: You went where they sent you. They didn't ask us. When we went down there, I mean after we did our basic training, they put us on the train and sent us to a ship, and we went out without any convoy or anything like that by ourselves. But when I tell you where I served, don't break down and cry. HERDMAN: Okay. HENRY: Is that a promise? HERDMAN: Okay. (laughs) I promise. HENRY: I served all my time overseas, where I were served, Bermuda. I don't see any tears in your eyes. HERDMAN: Okay. (laughs) No. How long were you in? HENRY: I was in-let's see, I'd say about thirty-six months or thirty- eight months. HERDMAN: What years was that? HENRY: That was-when you pin me down to those dates now, you get me in trouble (??). HERDMAN: Approximate time, late forties, or. HENRY: I went in-well, let's see. I think it was-well, I graduated from college in '41 and then right after that, well, I got my diploma one day and went in the Army the next day. So, the thing about it, that's a-and then I served down there. Then I did my basic training at Fort McCullen in Alabama. HERDMAN: So you enlisted during World War II? HENRY: I didn't enlist. They drafted me. HERDMAN: You were drafted, they drafted you right after school? HENRY: Yeah. HERDMAN: And you ended up in Bermuda. HENRY: Yeah. HERDMAN: Were you an officer because you had an education? HENRY: No, that didn't have anything to do with it. Several fellows I was with, they had college degrees but that didn't do any good. Didn't cut anything (??), there wasn't any way you could get promotion. I got a big promotion one time. A fellow was caught smoking on post, and they busted him. HERDMAN: And you got his job. (laughs) HENRY: He was a PFC, and I took his place. He ______ (??) four years he was smoking on post. HERDMAN: So you were drafted and then you were in for the duration of the war. Is that? HENRY: Yes, ma'am. HERDMAN: You were in till the war ended. What's your wife's name? HENRY: Let's see, where is she? HERDMAN: (laughs) She's listening. You better remember it. HENRY: Sarah. HERDMAN: Sarah, okay. When did you get married? HENRY: I forgot how many years. Sarah could tell you. Sarah? SARAH: July thirty-first, 1963. HERDMAN: Thank you, Sarah. So you had already been serving in the General Assembly for a while when you guys meet and got married, when you got married. Is she from here? HENRY: Yes, from Lexington. HERDMAN: And you have one child, is that correct? HENRY: Pardon? HENRY: One child? HERDMAN: And what's her name? HENRY: Her name is Mary Keith. HERDMAN: Okay. Did you ever have any conflict juggling your work and the General Assembly and your family? HENRY: No. HERDMAN: Really, you had enough time. HENRY: Yes. Sure. HERDMAN: When you were serving in Franklin, did you drive back and forth or did you tend to stay over? HENRY: You can bring me a drink, Sarah. Don't you want a drink? HERDMAN: No, I've got coffee, thank you. HENRY: Oh, yeah. Okay, what is that now? HERDMAN: When you went to Frankfort, did you drive back and forth? Were you close enough to commute, or did you stay over in hotels? HENRY: I could almost walk down there. HERDMAN: (laughs) Okay, how much political activity went on outside of the General Assembly, like meals and drinks, and that sort of thing? Was there quite a bit? HENRY: You mean where you get your food? HERDMAN: Well, yeah, and how people interacted in that environment? HENRY: Well, the thing about it, that what you did, they had parties and things like that, got a lot of meals that way (??). HERDMAN: Yeah, when did the lobbyists become a significant factor? Were they- HENRY: Yeah, they were down there. I'd say they had about, fifty to hundred, something like that. HERDMAN: And what function did they serve? Because we know later their function changed. So, when you first started in the fifties, what were they doing? HENRY: If they had a bill to pass, they would just come and-what would you call it? What would you call it in politics? You've been making me these interviews. HERDMAN: Well, you mean what the lobbyists do? I've heard lots of things from try to twist my arm to provide good information. It depends on how you look at it. HENRY: No, you didn't vote for the bill. HERDMAN: Yeah. HENRY: That's right, but what we called it, of course, I shouldn't tell you because you know more about it than I do because this is your business. HERDMAN: I doubt it. (laughs) HENRY: Well, during your interview, what did they call it when the lobbyists contact you? HERDMAN: It depends. Some thought it was positive, some didn't think it was positive. HENRY: No, what you called it was "buttonholed". HERDMAN: Oh, yeah. HENRY: Have you heard that during- HERDMAN: Yeah, I did hear that. I got you. Yeah, did you find them to be useful with the information? HENRY: Who? HERDMAN: The lobbyists, or? HENRY: Oh, some of it, some of it was. Of course, it was like anything else. If I was trying to make a gain and I was running for office, what you would do is "buttonhole". That's what we would call it. Have you heard that term? HERDMAN: Yeah, so at that time you were meeting every other year? Is that correct? HENRY: Yeah, they meet every other year now. It's a tradition. Yeah and then they have a special session sometimes, some issue comes up. HERDMAN: In between? HENRY: Yeah, that meets for about two weeks to a month, something like that. HERDMAN: Okay, what was your biggest accomplishment? What are you most proud of? HENRY: Well, that's a-I can't tell you what the bills was but I had-I got about four or five bills passed about every session. HERDMAN: So you were very active as far as- HENRY: Well, if you was a member, you was active. HERDMAN: Okay. HENRY: Do you find some people say they wasn't active? HERDMAN: Ah, especially freshmen, like when you first go in. Some people say that they just couldn't quite get anything done right away. HENRY: Well, that's right. You've got to get to know 'em before you can do any business with 'em. That's part of it, as far as that goes. HERDMAN: So, how did the issues change over time for your constituents? Did it remain tobacco, or when did that stop being the biggest- HENRY: We don't have tobacco now (??) Tobacco was always the main issue up until about two or three years ago. HERDMAN: Okay, so the whole time you were in, that was essentially- HENRY: Tobacco was the main crop. HERDMAN: Okay, hold on just one second. Okay, after Clements, you would have served with Wetherby. HENRY: He was Lieutenant Governor. HERDMAN: Wetherby was? HENRY: Yes. HERDMAN: Okay, and then he became Governor in 1950. What was he like? HENRY: Well, he didn't become Governor in 1950 because that's when I ran for office and won. Earle Clements was Governor. HERDMAN: Oh, okay. I got you. So it was the next term? HENRY: Yeah. HERDMAN: How was he different than Clements? HENRY: Pardon? Not too much. Only he was from-See, he was a Lieutenant Governor and he come in as Governor. You've got it down that way, haven't you? HERDMAN: Yeah, what about Chandler? HENRY: Chandler, well, he was a right good Governor. We got to be pretty good terms, but when he ran, I was on the other side, and I thought maybe he would beat me. But instead of this, he fooled me, because he's known for things like that, but he joined me. Of course, he was always-I never will forget-his first time he wanted me to vote for his bill-so you would appreciated this, what he did-he said, when I come in the Governor's office, he stood up and everything was this country boy, you know, the Governor stand up and he says, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do. What I want you to do is sit in the Governor's chair and I'll sit down there." That was, just to make a country boy feel important. HERDMAN: Yeah. (laughs) Did you vote for the bill? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: Did you vote? Did it work? HENRY: I think I did. It was a pretty hard bill because I knew the fellow pretty well, and he wanted to take his authority away from me. So he'd been for me and so I'd been for him. HERDMAN: I got you. During the fifties when you were first serving, the country was going things like the Cold War and Civil Rights. Did that affect what you were doing in Frankfort? HENRY: No, not too much. HERDMAN: You felt like it was separate. Okay, so then in the sixties, you would have served under Bert Combs? HENRY: Bert Combs. HERDMAN: How did he run things? HENRY: Well, I thought he run things real good. We become friends. The thing about was, I always thought he was a great man. HERDMAN: Was there anyone you served under you didn't get along with? Because it seems like you made friends with almost all of them. HENRY: I wanted to. It's a lot of things you going to ask me, the way you're going, that I can't tell you. It's very- HERDMAN: Okay, whatever you're comfortable with. HENRY: You're talking about thirty-six years ago. I'm lucky to even remember I was down there, thirty-six years ago. (Herdman laughs) But the thing about it, that was-some of them was a-one of them was a Republican. I know his name well as anything. HERDMAN: Nunn? HENRY: Nunn. Yeah. Didn't want Nunn. HERDMAN: (laughs) What was it like when he was in office because he was the only Republican for years? HENRY: Several years. Right thirty years. So it was all right. I just couldn't vote for his bills because I was on the other side. Most of them I didn't. But we got along fine and he didn't show me personally that he didn't dislike me or anything like that. HERDMAN: Do you think he struggled being a Republican in a Democratic environment? HENRY: Well, it's a hard thing to do. Your family, make you against your family, isn't it? HERDMAN: Um-hm. HENRY: That's the same thing. Only politics is the same thing that your family is as far as that goes. You get close to them just like you do your family. HERDMAN: So while you were in, what did you do for work? What was your job during those years? HENRY: Well, I just the same as I always usually did. I had a farm some and then I traded around real estate. HERDMAN: That's the same as your father had done. A little bit of both? HENRY: That's right. HERDMAN: And do you feel like real estate gave you more flexibility to be able to be in Frankfort? Seems like certain jobs worked better than others. HENRY: I think so. HERDMAN: Like real estate, did you continue to do real estate after you were out of politics? HENRY: Yes, I guess. Well, I still do trade some, as far as that goes. Buy and sell, you might say, but I'm not clear out of the real estate game. I'm almost, you might say. HERDMAN: That's what you did all the way through? HENRY: Yes. HERDMAN: Okay, and you never had-I just wanted to ask you again-you always had time for family, job, and? HENRY: Always had what? HERDMAN: Time for your family, for the job, and? HENRY: Oh sure, that's right. HERDMAN: Because most people have some sort of- HENRY: The family is first. [phone ringing.] HERDMAN: Yeah, okay, let's look at how was the legislature different than what you expected? HENRY: Well- HERDMAN: When you went to Frankfort. HENRY: I didn't have any expectations. Course you felt like you knew all about it because the talk and the people, you knew a lot of them was down. Not a lot of them, I knew a few of them was down there, you know. HERDMAN: Who were your close friends while you were going through? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: Who were your friends, or mentors? HENRY: The Democrats were your friends. HERDMAN: Did you have any particular, anybody you were close to, or sat beside, or talked to? HENRY: Well, you get to be friends with all of them, in the deal. That's when you say I was friends to all of them. We always had the legislature tradition. Have a dance every week on Thursday, and, of course, I would come in to that first thing. HERDMAN: There was a dance every week on Thursday? HENRY: Yeah. HERDMAN: Where did they hold it? HENRY: Well, they held it in a hotel there, and, of course, I hired the band, for we have a return Assembly Ball. Did you ever have anyone tell you that? HERDMAN: No. HENRY: And so, the thing about it, when they had the Assembly Ball, I always hired the band. I got one out of California, I think. I got a clue on it, and those fellows played in the band. They really thought they was doing like they was playing for the United States Congress. They really thought that was really something, as far as that goes. HERDMAN: And so they had the dance regularly? They had it weekly? HENRY: Every week, yeah. HERDMAN: While you were in session. HENRY: Yeah, in session, but after the session was over, you didn't do things like that. HERDMAN: Right, how often did you have to go to Frankfort for committees between sessions? HENRY: Very seldom. HERDMAN: Really. HENRY: Yeah. HERDMAN: Okay, was there ever a time where what you felt was right and what your constituents wanted was different? Did you ever have a crisis of conscience? HENRY: Oh, yeah. Well, all your constituents-that's asking did you ever disagree with your family. HERDMAN: Right. (laughs) How did they let you know their opinions? HENRY: It would be awful boring if I come over here and everything you said that's right, that's right, and that's the way I wanted it, just like you did, as far as that goes. You just want to fold your ______ (??). HERDMAN: How did you gauge public opinion? Did they call you when they had ideas, or did you have a newspaper guide? HENRY: Well, your constituents, they were all the two counties. If somebody wanted a bill passed to take the tax off their cows, and they wanted you to be for it. HERDMAN: And they would call you personally. It was all done personally? HENRY: Yeah. Well, they would call you sometimes or come over, and see you sometimes. It wasn't any set way. Yeah, it's like asking me, if I was a real close friend of yours, did I ever go over to your house. HERDMAN: Right. HENRY: Yeah, well, you feel free to go over any time you wanted to, if we was friends. Well, that's the way your constituents was. HERDMAN: That's the way your constituents felt? HENRY: Yeah, that's right, and that's the way they felt. That's the way it is now, as far as that goes. HERDMAN: What was your biggest disappointment? Was there anything you couldn't get done that you wanted to get done? HENRY: No, wouldn't of run for office if it was always a disappointment. When I lost, I lost two races when I was-in that period. I'd say it was about twenty years, something like that. Of course, I ran for railroad commissioner. That was in about, I'd say about thirty counties, thirty-some odd counties. And then I ran for- HERDMAN: Around what time was that you ran for railroad commissioner? HENRY: I'd say it was about third or fourth term, about third term. And then the second term, I ran for county judge and lost both of those, and so. HERDMAN: So did you run for those offices in the off years, where the other person was in the House? HENRY: I don't know whether it was off years or not. I forgot about it. HERDMAN: Could you have done both jobs? HENRY: Yes. HERDMAN: I mean you could have run for both? HENRY: But you wouldn't hold both jobs at the same time. HERDMAN: Um-hm. I got you. That makes sense. Okay, you said during the fifties that national events weren't really affecting Frankfort. Did that continue in the sixties and seventies with some of the upheaval? HENRY: It's just a matter of opinion. HERDMAN: Um-hm. Do you feel like the state government was removed from federal government? HENRY: Well, the thing about it was, if your party was in, you thought that was wonderful. But if the party wasn't in, Democrats-I'm a Democrat, of course-Republicans got in, well, you was on the outside. HERDMAN: On the federal levels, so you would feel that? HENRY: That's right. Yes, ma'am. HERDMAN: Once you started running, did you have contact with the Democratic Party on a national scale? HENRY: Well, no, not on national scale, They didn't have anything to do with it. HERDMAN: That's what I'm trying to get at. There was a separation there. How did things change up through the sixties and seventies? Did the Governor, as far as the Governor's relationship to the General Assembly, did that change over, in those later years? HENRY: Well, when the Democrats got in, they were gonna have control of the thing. The Republicans got in, well, they had control of things. That was just natural and wasn't anything unusual. HERDMAN: Right. HENRY: That's about it. HERDMAN: There's a point in the late seventies, early eighties where there's a legislative independence that happens, but you would have been in before that. Did the Governors seem to yield a lot of power in the years before that? HENRY: Oh, well, yes. All the Governors have power, as far as that goes. That's your key man and the state is your Governor, yeah. HERDMAN: Okay. Let's see. What is your-this is kinda a big question. What's your overall political philosophy? What's your idea about approaching politics? HENRY: Well, I don't know how to answer that because there's no way you can answer it. Politics is all through friendship. If you feel like you was friends with somebody, you'd wanta be for 'em. If you didn't know a thing about 'em, you wouldn't have much to do with 'em. HERDMAN: Okay. Do you think your Christian upbringing, or growing up here in Georgetown, influenced your values in? HENRY: Well, no, I don't think. It had something to do with it but would been some extent as far as that goes. HERDMAN: Okay. Do you remember any funny stories from your time in the General Assembly? HENRY: Well, I should but I don't. It's been so long. (Herdman laughs) I don't know, yet you'd have to say you knew a lot of stories but. HERDMAN: Nothing that stands out? HENRY: I can't recall any right now. HERDMAN: Oh, that's fine, that's fine. So when did you finish up, when was your last term? HENRY: Let's see. [Nineteen] fifty-one, I think in '70. HERDMAN: Okay. HENRY: See, we were on a rotation agreement, and '70 was the last I served. HERDMAN: Okay, and did you decide not to run anymore, or did you lose an election there? HENRY: Well, no, I just decided not to run, I think. HERDMAN: What made you decide that? HENRY: I couldn't tell you, to tell you the truth, but I just decided that I'd had enough that was it, far as that goes. HERDMAN: Okay. Hold just one moment. Joining us is Bill's wife, Sarah, and we're gonna talk a little bit with her. What are-I'm gonna ask you to repeat what you just said. I'd asked him if family, if there was a conflict between politics and family and you answered? SARAH: Most of his terms of service was before we were married, so he was a bachelor. HERDMAN: Okay. SARAH: So there wasn't any. He did live at home with his mother. So I don't know whether that interfered with their, you know, I don't. HERDMAN: That family environment, right. What year did you have your daughter? SARAH: [Nineteen] seventy-one. HERDMAN: Okay, so he would have been done with service by then. Okay, that explains why there was not as much conflict. For some people it was very hard to balance all three things. SARAH: We're so close to Frankfort, it probably would not have made too much difference, except for the evening things. HERDMAN: Did you attend a lot of things in Frankfort with him? SARAH: I was working. I went to the evening parties and dances and things. HERDMAN: What do you remember about that stuff? SARAH: Oh, that- HERDMAN: Was it fun at that time? SARAH: Yes, it was fun to get dressed up and interact with people. HERDMAN: Did you make any specific friends, anybody that you stayed close to? SARAH: Yes, we did. Well, we tried to stay close to the Keenness's at Bardstown. I think they're both deceased now, if I'm not mistaken. Then they had a bed and breakfast, and we went to their bed and breakfast and stayed one time. So we kinda kept in touch, but not, you know, real regularly. Christmas cards and those kinds of things, with several of the other legislators, as I recall. HERDMAN: For those evening events, how did things generally run? He mentioned there was usually a band. Were they dances, or dinners, or? SARAH: Yes, I don't think they were dinners. They were later, and when we were dating, they had an Assembly Ball club in Frankfort and this was made up of Frankfort 'old timers,' as I would call them, and the legislators, and they had this every Thursday night. HERDMAN: While they were there and in session? SARAH: And they had a big, what would you call it, Return Ball when the Assembly Ball club gave that, for the legislators. HERDMAN: Oh, okay. SARAH: And then at the end, the legislators gave a Return Ball that was fancier. They had a name band. HERDMAN: That was like one a year, once a session, like at the end of the session. SARAH: Right, that was every two years then. HERDMAN: As someone not serving in the General Assembly, did you notice a lot of politics going on at those balls or did people generally leave it? SARAH: I didn't notice it. It was pretty social. Now there may have been- HERDMAN: In the back room (??), or whatever. (laughs) HENRY: I believe you were fishing for _________ (??) what I said. HERDMAN: No, not at all. Some of the interviewees have said that most of the politics went on outside of the General Assembly, and but he's from a little bit earlier time period than most people I've talked to. So I'm trying to figure out if that was always true, or if that started happening in the sixties and seventies, or- HENRY: Let me interrupt you with a question. HERDMAN: Sure. HENRY: How far back are you going with these people that have served? HERDMAN: Anybody we can find but you're the first person I've talked to that served in the fifties and that's- HENRY: Did what? Served in the fifties? HERDMAN: That served in the fifties. All of mine have been from the sixties forward, so far, so. SARAH: Anyone who's still living, that's what she's trying to tell you. (both laugh) HERDMAN: Thank you, Sarah. HENRY: She's been well advised not to say that I'm only one probably doing it. HERDMAN: No, actually I've talked to people that were older but they started later in their life. It seems like you kinda got yours out of the way early on. HENRY: Who (??) you can remember who you talked to. HERDMAN: Well, from the House, let's see. The earliest, Darvin Allen and Joe Stacy from out west and then- HENRY: See, they were state senators. HERDMAN: And Higdon was a state senator. HENRY: Who? HERDMAN: Greg Higdon, he's from- HENRY: I've heard of that name. HERDMAN: Way out west. He's from Fancy Farms, so. HENRY: Did you go out and ever interview with him? HERDMAN: He actually has an office in Frankfort, so I was able to meet him there. Thank goodness, because Fancy Farms pretty far. SARAH: Fancy farm is this weekend. HERDMAN: Yeah, the political rally. SARAH: Are you going to that? HERDMAN: I'm not. I wish I could, but let me ask you about that. Did you ever speak at picnics, public rallies? HENRY: Well, at clubs and things like that. They'd ask you to come. What I'd take a big part in more than anything is Rotary club. HERDMAN: Okay HENRY: And Kiwanis and things like that. HERDMAN: Those seem to be all important for Kentucky politics. HENRY: Yeah, well, if you've been interviewed anybody and asked a question like that that's same. HERDMAN: Everyone has pretty much said civic clubs. SARAH: For several years we used to live in the country, was on the farm. He would have a fish fry. It was a combination of neighbors and friends. He always invited some of the- HENRY: -members of the Assembly- SARAH: -members of the House and the Senate, and Carl Perkins, people like that who lived in that community, at the time. HERDMAN: So how'd the fish fry run, what did you do for activities, and? SARAH: We had a string band made up of neighbors and friends and made up a song called Politicking Bill. (both laugh) HERDMAN: That's, great. I wish we had a copy of that. SARAH: Well, I've got it. HERDMAN: (laughs) Okay. Well. HENRY: Probably the wives can tell you more about it than. HERDMAN: Yeah, that's true. SARAH: I just have the words. I don't have the music. I don't know how it goes. HERDMAN: Well, you could just make up a new tune, right? So I guess we'll get to some of these wrap up questions. Would you do it again if you had the opportunity? Are you glad that you did it? HENRY: Well, I wouldn't a missed it for anything because that's a rare opportunity very few have a chance to do anything like this. So it's so few. See, it's one serves that two-year term. Then you have your state senators and that takes in about five or six different counties where you run in that precinct. HERDMAN: Right. HENRY: I never did run for the Senate. HERDMAN: When you were in the Senate, how many were- HENRY: I wasn't in the Senate. HERDMAN: When you were in the House-I'm sorry, I mean, how many was- HENRY: Well, see I was sergeant-at-arms of the Senate. HERDMAN: And what did you do in that role? What was your responsibility? HENRY: Well, your responsibility in that role would be to call the House to order. Have you ever been to the General Assembly? HERDMAN: I haven't. HENRY: Yeah, well, the, the speaker, I mean the sergeant-at-arms calls the House or the Senate to order, and then after they come to order, quiet, will be turned over to the speaker of the House, or the president of the Senate. HERDMAN: Okay, so did you also work with Senate-House, joint sorta stuff when they worked together? HENRY: Yeah, sure. HERDMAN: Okay, what would your advice be to someone going into politics now? How do you think it's different? HENRY: Yeah, well, it's all the same thing. Just branches of different ones serving but you see, it's all made up of the same thing, yeah. HERDMAN: And what would your advice be? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: What would your advice be to someone going in now? HENRY: Well, I think if they have the chance and liked it, I think it's a wonderful thing. I think it's a nice thing. Not too many people that you find, a general run of people, even the few that you contact, I never be bothered with it again. Have you had that? HERDMAN: Yep. HENRY: It's true. SARAH: It costs a lot more money now. Cause of the TV ads and things done now. HERDMAN: Seems like campaigning really changed. SARAH: Newspaper ads are tremendously expensive. HENRY: But the thing about it, you don't think about that too much but how much the salaries have gained. HERDMAN: That's true. HENRY: They're getting almost seventy-five or one hundred dollars a day now when they're in session, but when I was down there it was ten or twenty-five dollars a day. HERDMAN: I was gonna ask you that. In the fifties, it was ten or twenty- five dollars? Did they pay your expenses to drive back and forth? HENRY: Yeah, you'd get travel expenses and all, but that don't amount to anything, you know. SARAH: The one benefit that he has accrued was the retirement. He's on a- HENRY: The what? SARAH: State retirement, you're on state retirement. HENRY: Oh, yeah. HERDMAN: And does he have state health benefits as well? And just has and will continuously? SARAH: Yes, it's- HERDMAN: That's great. SARAH: Ongoing. So that's been, that's been wonderful. HERDMAN: Yeah. That is a plus. SARAH: Not a whole lot, but it's- HERDMAN: Right. Well, the health insurance alone cause working in real estate, he may or may not have, you know, have it, if he's self employed, so. And you've lived in Georgetown, your whole life, you've remained here? HENRY: Most of it. I was born in the country I was telling you about that story. HERDMAN: Then you moved into town and where were you born? SARAH: I was from Lexington. My family moved to Lexington when I was like three years old. My dad was with the university and he was in the College of Education. So I grew up there and then I came over here to teach school, and that's where I met him. HERDMAN: Did you already have your doctorate when you came over here? SARAH: No, no. I was just out of college and I taught at the Scott County High School. Taught home economics. Then we didn't marry-that was in '56-we didn't marry until '63. HERDMAN: So you knew him all that time before you got married? SARAH: Right. HERDMAN: Yeah, and dated back and forth. When did you complete your education? SARAH: [Nineteen] seventy-nine, I believe. I had my master's. HERDMAN: So you worked on it after you had your daughter? SARAH: Oh, yes. I was working for the State Department of Education, which I did several times. They had an opportunity for a graduate fellowship, so I applied for that, thinking I'd be at home more. (both laugh) HERDMAN: So much for that. SARAH: Surprise, yeah. HERDMAN: Okay, well, is there anything else you guys want to add? That's all my questions. SARAH: We have two granddaughters. HERDMAN: Oh, you do? What are their names? SARAH: Amelia Keith Mantoa and Maya Catherine Mantoa. HERDMAN: Did your daughter stay in the area? SARAH: She lives in Lexington. HERDMAN: Okay, and do you think-did she meet her husband also in Lexington? SARAH: She met him on a job where she was working. HERDMAN: And what does she do? SARAH: She's a stay-at-home mother and her husband is an engineer with International Crankshaft. HERDMAN: It was nice that she was able to stay so close. A lot of people, their- SARAH: Real nice. HERDMAN: -kids have moved far away so. That's- SARAH: She loves to work at the polls even with their family. HERDMAN: I was gonna ask you if she had an interest in politics. SARAH: She loves it, she loves people. HERDMAN: Has she ever considered running? No? HENRY: I don't think so. HERDMAN: (laughs) Would you advise her to run? HENRY: Oh, yeah. I think it be fine. SARAH: I don't think she'd want to. HENRY: Yeah, but I'd say this, if she'd run for office, I'd almost drop my teeth. HERDMAN: (laughs) Well, that's great. Anything else you'd like to add? HENRY: No, not. You get awful tired of the same answers, don't you? HERDMAN: Oh, no. You know what, they're really very different. Everybody has a very different experience. You'd be surprised. HENRY: Some of 'em go to the extreme. (laughs) HERDMAN: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we've heard tales of all sorts of things going on. Well, thank you, Mr. Henry, and thank you, Sarah. I appreciate it. HENRY: One thing mattered when they had the General Assembly. You see, the dances. They have, well, they have one person that's a member of the Assembly that gets the band and everything together for return balls, you heard her talk about that- SARAH: Excuse me, did you tell about getting recognized for being the best dressed? HERDMAN: You got a best dressed award? HENRY: I should a told you. Yeah, I hadn't. Getting all that prestige and the news reports, have you ever been down to the General Assembly when it's in session? HERDMAN: Nope. HENRY: News reporters, you know, they sit up in the gallery. What they do, during the week, they vote on the news reporters' best dressed man in the Assembly. I won that every time, five or six. HERDMAN: What did you do wear a suit or? HENRY: Pardon? SARAH: No, he wore flashy clothes. HERDMAN: Oh, okay. (laughs) HENRY: Oh, yeah. I always bought clothes. HERDMAN: That's all right. Bachelor's clothes. HENRY: I always bought a lot of new clothes then and every time that they had five, that they voted best dressed man in the Assembly, well, every time they had that election, I was always- HERDMAN: That's good. HENRY: But they asked me said, "What about your dress?" I'd say, "I'm the worst dressed man in the town I live as far as that goes." HERDMAN: So did you change your fashion after you got married? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: Did you go less flashy after you got married? HENRY: I had to. My wife- HERDMAN: Fight off the women, right? HENRY: She was ashamed of me, most of the time, dressed you, see, yeah. HERDMAN: Yeah. And you were saying it was your job regularly to get the band and plan that return ball. HENRY: I was the one in charge. I was always in charge of the Return Ball. HERDMAN: What kind a music did you get? HENRY: Swing music. SARAH: Big Band sound. HENRY: Big Band. I was out in California and those fellas amused me more than anything. (Herdman laughs) Because they really thought they was doing something playing for the General Assembly. You'd think it was- HERDMAN: Well, it is, it's an honor. HENRY: -Washington, D.C. We wasn't nothing but country people. HERDMAN: Right. HENRY: Down there is really something. HERDMAN: Did everybody know how to swing dance? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: Did everybody know how to swing dance, or? HENRY: Oh, yeah, if they come to the dance, they knew how to dance. SARAH: Well, one thing that they had that I thought impressed me-I was a young teacher-they had the Grand March. Of course, that was pretty special. They had the Grand March at the weekly dances, which they don't have any more. HERDMAN: What's a Grand March? (laughs) SARAH: What's a Grand March? This is a- HENRY: Good you asked her. (Herdman laughs) SARAH: Let me see if I can say it. Everybody lines up and then you have a leader and they have kinda a marching kinda music, and they march up, they come back in formation. HERDMAN: It's like a whole-it's like a coordinated dance, sort of. SARAH: I've forgotten but they have this at the Inaugural Ball too. HERDMAN: Like a promenade, it's kinda? SARAH: Yeah, there you go something like that. HERDMAN: I gotcha. SARAH: It would be like the Governor and his wife would walk up front, and they would separate go around and make a circle then come back together again. HERDMAN: Did you have any favorite Governors or first ladies? SARAH: While he was serving? HERDMAN: Yeah. SARAH: I guess I liked Bert Combs, but my very favorite one is Martha Layne Collins. HERDMAN: Do you know Miss Collins? SARAH: Yes, I know her personally. I was- HENRY: She had classes under her. SARAH: I was teaching here, home economics at the high school, and she was doing her student teaching and she was assigned to me. HERDMAN: Wow, that's great. SARAH: So we remained friends. HERDMAN: Yeah, and then with the Toyota Plant, she's pretty popular. SARAH: Oh, yes. HERDMAN: In this area that's for sure. SARAH: She's done a lot for Georgetown. HENRY: Do they mention her name much? HERDMAN: Oh, yeah. Yep, it's always and plus she's the only female, so there's usually- HENRY: Does most of 'em speak well, or not? HERDMAN: It's actually been a mixed bag. Everyone has said that her being female didn't matter, which is interesting cause I usually ask that question. For people who served under her, did it matter, you know, and most everyone said, you know, that didn't matter. But I've had some people that felt in her first term, she couldn't quite get her footing. That, you know, she was a little bit weaker in that, and she kinda came into her own later on, you know, but, of course, I've-who knows, I've talked to so many different people. SARAH: _____ (??) saw that potential in there when she was. HENRY: You can add this to your interview. You didn't ask me but I know you'd like to put it down. During the time when they had the National Convention, Democrats, well, I was a delegate from this county from the state. I think they had about ten or twelve, and I was one of 'em, and Mr. Barkley was running for President but I guess you've heard him mention that didn't you. HERDMAN: So you served-you went to Washington for those conventions. HENRY: No, it was in New York. I think it was. HERDMAN: Okay, for the Democratic National Convention. HENRY: Yeah, Chicago. Chicago is where it was. HERDMAN: So, were you there in '68? HENRY: Pardon? HERDMAN: Nineteen and sixty eight? HENRY: I only attended one time. I forgot what year that was. You don't remember, do you Sarah? HERDMAN: It's probably good you weren't there in '68. It was a rough one. HENRY: Yeah. SARAH: I don't, no, we have his biographical data, I'll give you a copy of that. HERDMAN: Okay. Sure, if you've got a copy I can have. HENRY: Well, how many out of the-does most of 'em willing for an interview with you? HERDMAN: Yep. I've only had one or two decline, and it was generally because they were in Florida or not available, that sorta thing, but most people wanta tell their story. SARAH: Do you edit it? HERDMAN: Nope, we just put it on like it is. SARAH: That's fine. HERDMAN: (laughs) And essentially it's a historical record. It will be available for researchers and that sorta thing that, you know, eventually over time a picture will emerge from all of 'em. HENRY: Am I the only one that's ever mentioned, you found out was, was the best dressed man? HERDMAN: Absolutely. (laughs) You are the only one. I didn't even know that existed. HENRY: And they always want to know, I imagine, at home and I said, "No, I'm the worst dressed one at home." (Herdman laughs) [Tape 1, side 1 ends; side 2 begins] HENRY: I always wiped the sidewalk off. (laughs) SARAH: Did you mention that you've been chairman of the county Democratic party? HENRY: Yeah, I was county chairman for- SARAH: He's not currently. HENRY: Oh, I'd say about twenty years, something like that HERDMAN: So beyond when you served you were still active in politics. SARAH: And they have our county Democratic group- HENRY: Now what? SARAH: Executive committee- HENRY: Yeah, our executive committee. SARAH: The county Democratic party has a Roosevelt Dinner every year and the first he got the first Democratic Hall of Fame Award for in Scott County. HERDMAN: Wow, that's great. SARAH: They give it every year, about three or four times. HERDMAN: That's great. HENRY: That and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee. (Herdman laughs) SARAH: He's in two other halls of fame. He's in the-if I can think of them-Scott County Schools, and-what is it? Maybe it's just two. (Herdman and Sarah laugh) HENRY: Well, see, it's so far back. Do you have any back as far as I am? HERDMAN: No, no one from the fifties yet, so. HENRY: Wonder, wonder why they-I got a correspondence on it. HERDMAN: Well, it's where-anybody we can find were interviewing but like, I just interviewed Gross Lindsey who's from your same generation and time period, but he actually didn't start until later in his life, and he's gone to current. So just it's kinda, it's kinda unique the way. HENRY: Is he current now? HERDMAN: He just got defeated in May, but he served up until you know his service- HENRY: What was his name, Gus Lindsay? HERDMAN: Gross Lindsay. Yeah, he's from Henderson. He's from out that way but he's been you know he was in seventies and nineties, where you were in fifties and seventies. HENRY: Did you interview him? HERDMAN: I did. Yep, yep, and it was- HENRY: Well, am I as far as you go back? HERDMAN: Yep, yep. That's why I was interested in how it was running back in the fifties because it's a little bit different situation. HENRY: Down in the fifties. That's when Earle Clements was Governor. HERDMAN: Did you get a list of what they way that he wanted you to vote on everything? Did that happen for you? HENRY: No, I never did. HERDMAN: Because later on, I mean, I had several reports of that where you came in and there was a list that said, "Pass this," you know, "Don't pass this." Up until John Y. Brown, like those few right before John Y. Brown seemed to be running that way. HENRY: Yeah, I served in them days. No, well, he wasn't in when I served. HERDMAN: Yeah, he came a little later. SARAH: She's saying, did the Governor try to tell you how to vote give you a list of bills? HENRY: Never did. Never. HERDMAN: Never. HENRY: Did some of 'em say that? HERDMAN: Yep. Yeah. I mean you could go against it but everyone said there were consequences, if you went against it. You could introduce a bill and that sort of thing but it seems like there for a while before- right before legislative independence when they started electing their leaders that happened. [phone ringing] HENRY: You'd appreciate this. Chandler, he always has all the keen ways to do things, you've heard that. Well, what he did, he never asked me for any favors when he ran, when I was against him. So he went on and backed me anyway because he thought I would win. So I told him, I'd go along anything I thought I could. When I walked in his office-I know you haven't read, any tell you people like this-that when I walked in the Governor's office, you know, what he did-I don't know he heard anything like that-he stood up for me. He said, "No, when you sit down here, you sit in the Governor's chair, and you give me the answers from the Governor's chair." (laughs) HERDMAN: That would have been a very unique prospective. HENRY: Did any of the other ones tell you that? HERDMAN: No, no one. I've never heard anyone that sat in the Governor's chair. HENRY: He says, "You're the Governor today." HERDMAN: Yeah, well. HENRY: As far as that goes, he said, "Whatever you tell me, that's the way it goes," and he was trying to get a bill to get somebody fired that was elected by the public. So I voted for him because he was for me, as far as that goes. HERDMAN: Was there a lot of that negotiating, trade off support for different bills? HENRY: I believe so. Yes, I want to say. But, how is it much different in the one, thirty years ago and the ones of today. How far back is the closest you've- HERDMAN: I had a couple from the sixties. Most of 'em have been seventies and forward, but the big difference is that legislative independence. It's where the legislature started electing their leadership, the majority whip and that, you know, that kinda stuff. Cause it used to be the Governor hand-picked that, and that made a big difference, you know, with legislature, and that was around the early eighties. That seems to be- HENRY: They don't do that anymore? HERDMAN: No, the legislature now votes on it. It was the way the elections fell when they changed the election process. Then the Governor actually didn't have time to get in and appoint them before the legislature, so. All right, well, that's all I have Mr. Henry. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. HENRY: Are you interviewing any the others from Scott County? HERDMAN: I don't have any on my list from here but I think that some of my colleagues do so. HENRY: Well, is this something that just started? HERDMAN: It's been a couple years now. I think that they've been doing this so. HENRY: Well, I feel honored to go back that far. HERDMAN: Well, and we're honored to have you. Thank you so much Mr. Henry. [Tape 1, side 2 ends.] [End of interview.] Henry talks about his upbringing, his early education, his reasons for getting into politics, his campaigning style, and his political philosophy, and the annual dance parties he helped organize for the General Assembly. His wife, Sarah, participates in the interview and reflects on her friend, Martha Layne Collins as well as giving her perspective on her husband’s legislative career. insert here