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1981-03-18 Interview with Gerald D. Ross, March 18, 1981 Reed001:1981OH043Reed11 00:54:58 Stanley F. Reed Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Reed, Stanley Forman, 1884-1980 Gerald D. Ross; interviewee Edward Gilson; interviewer 1981OH043_Reed11_Ross 1:|11(12)|27(5)|64(7)|96(3)|117(7)|138(15)|155(7)|172(1)|191(6)|202(8)|214(3)|237(13)|264(9)|281(3)|305(13)|315(3)|332(13)|343(4)|367(3)|378(10)|395(8)|413(11)|422(7)|438(5)|451(1)|471(5)|481(9)|505(6)|516(5)|529(8)|543(15)|552(7)|565(1)|591(2)|605(14)|628(4)|646(10)|673(2)|680(13)|692(12)|701(8)|724(8)|758(13)|777(4)|805(1)|816(2)|823(6)|834(5)|853(3)|869(7)|887(3)|900(4)|917(9)|928(8)|954(8) audiotrans SFReed reed001:interview GILSON: Anyway, we were talking . . . while we were talking about this thing, why don't you . . . why don't you talk again about how . . . how you came to come to Washington and meet up with Justice [Stanley] Reed. ROSS: Well, when I started to . . . when I'd planned on coming to Washington--as I said before, I knew I had to leave home. GILSON: Right. ROSS: And when I decided to come to Washington, I got some of the people for I whom I had worked to write out a little story about . . . GILSON: Oh, yeah. ROSS: . . . [inaudible] as a recommendation. Because when you hit a new town and nobody knows anything about you. So several of the people that I'd worked for wrote a little article on what kind of a guy I was. And then after I came, I started looking for a job, and I thought about Justice Reed, so I found out where he was, and I called to see if I couldn't drop by to see him. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: So I talked with him, and he told me that maybe he could give me something to do at a later time, but in the meantime, since I was looking for a job, he knew a woman who might need some help. So one of his friends who . . . GILSON: Let's see, . . . ROSS: . . . had just . . . GILSON: . . . what . . . ROSS: Huh? GILSON: What . . . what year was this now, so we can . . . ROSS: This is in `3- . . . wait a minute . . . `36. GILSON: `36? ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: So he was Solicitor General then. ROSS: Yes, he was Solicitor General at that time. GILSON: Okay. ROSS: And so what happened was, he told me about this lady who . . . who needed a chauffeur. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: Well, I went to see her but, of course, I knew I couldn't be a chauffeur because I'd just come to Washington. You can't be a chauffeur if you don't know the city. GILSON: Right. Right. ROSS: So I went to see her, and we talked, and she decided that she would take me, and we could switch: the butler would be the chauffeur and I'd be the butler. GILSON: The butler. ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: So that . . . that was my first job after I come to Washington. I was the butler for this lady, and while I was working I was learning the city, too. So I worked for her, oh, for some time, when . . . you remember there was a lady . . . of course, you wouldn't remember because . . . GILSON: No [chuckling]. ROSS: . . . you're too young. But there was a lady from Philadelphia, a Mrs. Simpson, who married the king of England. Well, in order for . . . GILSON: Yeah, Wallis Simpson. ROSS: . . . that's right. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: In order for the king to marry her, who . . . she was a commoner, he had to abdicate. GILSON: Right. ROSS: So, when his brother ascended to the throne and took his place, the lady that I'd worked for went to the coronation. So, that's . . . that . . . GILSON: Yeah. Yeah. ROSS: . . . when it . . . GILSON: That's . . . ROSS: . . . when it all started. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: So I went . . . I was out there with this lady and after a while . . . as a matter of fact, that's what caused us to . . . us to break up. Because while I was . . . while she was gone, she sent me over in Virginia where she has . . . had a summer place. So she t- . . . had me to go over there with a fellow who worked on the . . . on the place for her. We were out there, and she told me before I . . . before she left, she said, "Now, don't you let Earl know how much you're being paid, because he doesn't get that much, and if you let him know he'll be unhappy." I said, "All right." GILSON: Well, was Earl the chauffeur and . . . ROSS: No. Earl was a . . . was a fellow who was . . . this lady was from Georgia, . . . GILSON: Okay. ROSS: . . . and Earl was from Georgia. GILSON: Oh. ROSS: Well, Earl didn't get very much money, but he was very well pleased. So I went out there, and we worked together, and he always told me what to do, and everything went along fine until she . . . in the meantime, she always paid on the 15th and the 30th, just as the government did at that time. And while she was gone, payday came up, and the chauffeur or the secretary, I don't know which it was, brought my check out and his check. They didn't see me, whichever one it was, when they b- . . . came with the checks, so they gave him my check to give to me. Well, he saw my check, and he realized then that I was getting more than he was, and he thought he was the boss [chuckling] because he was telling me what to do. [laughter] Well, that didn't make much sense if the boss [laughter] didn't make more than the help. So, they all called me Jerry. "Why, Jerry, you get more than I do!" I said, "I do." He said, "Yeah, I'm going to tell the old lady I can't get along on this little old money." I said, "That's what you do. Let her have it. Now's the time to get it." So, when the . . . when she came back, he jumped her, and she wasn't going to pay him any more, but she was going to satisfy him but cutting me! [laughter--Gilson] And it went just like she knew it would. GILSON: Yeah. Yeah. ROSS: So, after she had gone, he came to me. "Oh, Jerry, you're going to get a cut!" I says, "I am?" He says, "Yeah." I says, "How do you know I'm going to get a cut, and I don't know anything about it?" He said, "I . . . I talked to the old lady, and I told her I had to have some more money, and she said that she couldn't give me any more; sh- . . . her expenses were too high, and she was going to have to cut back. Said that she was going to have to cut me." Well, as soon as he jumped her about having to have some more money, he knew . . . she knew why he wanted more money. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: So, to make a long story short, I told him, "No, I'm not going to get a cut." I says, "You see, the difference between you and me is, I can do something else. You can't." [laughter] He said, "Oh, you're going to get a cut." [chuckling] I said, "The [inaudible] that I'm not going to get a cut. I'm going into town to see her." Well, I went on and got my clothes and got on the bus and came to town. Well, it was too late in the evening to go to the house to work, so I went on home. And the next morning, I went on down to the house there in town. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: And when she got up to put the window down, or to raise it, whatever she was going to do, but anyhow she was at the window, and she looked down, and I was out sweeping off the walk. She said, "Oh, Jerry, what are you doing in town?" Said, "Earl said I was getting a cut, so I came in to find out about it." [laughter] And she started, "I'll . . ." I said, "You'll have to wait until I come in; I can't hear you," because people were going to work . . . GILSON: Uh-huh. Yeah. ROSS: . . . and the traffic was just roaring. Well, all day she was busy, and I said, "It doesn't make any difference to me [if] she doesn't have time to talk. My salary's . . . is the same until she tells me [chuckling] she's not going to give me any more. So the following morning she called me in, and she sat down, and I stood up while she talked. And she went on to explain that when she hired help, she kept them year-round. She didn't . . . when things got slack and she didn't need the help, she just gave them something else to do, and she cut them back some, but she didn't turn them . . . her help off, so . . . and have them out looking for a job, and it . . . when she was going to use them later on. She sat there and talked to me for a half an hour about how she did business. And I stood there and listened. And after she got through--because I knew sooner or later she was going to let up--so [chuckling] after she got through, I said . . . I said, "When I came to you, you told me how much you would pay me and I accepted your proposition." I said, "After I had been working for you for a while, you raised me . . . my salary." I said, "I hadn't asked for it, but you raised it because you realized that I was worth more than what you were paying me." I said, "Now, just when I am . . . have worked for you longer and understand better how you want your work done and can give you better service, I'm getting ready to ask you for a raise." "Oh, Jerry, you mustn't look at it like that!" [laughter] So, for the next forty-five minutes [chuckling], we had it going and coming. She's holding out for a cut and I'm holding for a raise. And you can't get together that way [laughter] when we're going in opposite directions. We had . . . we had a wonderful time. So, at the end of the discussion I told her, "When the . . . the month is out, I either get a raise or you can look for someone else." So, when the month was up, I quit. I started looking for another job. And that job lasted me until I went on the job with the justice. GILSON: Okay. Well, how did . . . how did you start working for the justice then? I mean, apparently he . . . he knew of . . . ROSS: Well, . . . GILSON: . . . you . . . ROSS: . . . he knew . . . oh, yeah, he . . . GILSON: . . . and . . . ROSS: He knew . . . I was from Maysville. He . . . GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: . . . knew . . . I had explained to him that I had caddied for him when I was a kid. Of course, you don't remember a child because when the kid's down here he looks like one thing, and when he gets up here he's altogether different. But I had these letters from some of the people at home that he knew. And he knew very well that if I had a letter saying, from them, that I was all right, he didn't have anything to worry about because he knew these people. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: So, when he was ready to go on the C- . . . when he was appointed on the Court, then he sent for me. GILSON: Oh, he sent for you? ROSS: Umhmm. That's when I went on the Court. GILSON: Hmm. I was wondering. I . . . I was wondering if you came back and re-applied or . . . ROSS: No. GILSON: . . . and talked to him again. He sent for you! ROSS: No. He had my phone number . . . GILSON: Umhmm. ROSS: . . . where he could reach me. But where he got his information about me was through these . . . these letters of recommendation that I got from the people at . . . at home that he knew. You see, I lived right here, and he lived at the Mayflower [Hotel]. And in . . . in Kentucky, I lived closer to him than I did here in Washington. GILSON: Well, Maysville's a smaller place, too. ROSS: Well, I . . . he . . . he lived in Maysville, and I lived in Washington, which is just outside of Maysville. It was about two miles or a little more to work. GILSON: Umhmm. Right. ROSS: But that's the way we got together. And over those years, I did a lot of things. I would drive him out there and back. And then after I . . . after he retired and Justice [Sherman] Minton--who was from New Albany, Indiana, across the river from Louisville--the . . . he retired because of his health, and then he went home and sat down. When he would . . . they put me with him, too. So, when Justice Minton was getting ready to come to town to hang out with the fellows . . . the justices, he would send me a check, and I would fly out and pick him up and drive him to Washington. And then when he got tired of hanging around here, he . . . I would drive him back to Louisville . . . New Albany, rather, and then fly back home. So that's the reason I'm wearing glasses now. Driving all . . . GILSON: [chuckle] [inaudible]. ROSS: . . . day and half the night over roads that you don't know, trying to see further than your lights will let you see, and then the shimmer of the roads . . . GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: . . . beats your eyes down. And you put twelve or more hours in a . . . driving a- . . . in a day. It's rough on you. GILSON: Well, tell me a little bit about your . . . your duties at the Court. Now, I mean, you were his . . . his messenger. ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: Did you just . . . ROSS: I kept his library up to date. He . . . he had those le- . . . law books that . . . some of them he had for years. But what they'd do, they . . . each year pocket parts would come out, and you'd put the pocket parts in the back of the la- . . . in the back of the volume, and that brought it up to date. So even though the book was ten years old, it would have cases that were a year old through these . . . this is the thing that I did . . . one of the things that I did. Other than that, I took care of him having his lunch on time, etc., and all those little things. Saw to him . . . the books that he had . . . the books that he needed from the library. Across the street from the Supreme Court is the Library of Congress. GILSON: Umhmm. ROSS: And that li- . . . that library is there for the senators, the congressmen, the Supreme Court justices, the cabinet members, their lawyers and me. And I ordered books for him or for me. Now, you, I, anybody can go there to the library and read all day. You let the help know what you want, and they'll get it for you, and you sit there and read. The only difference is you can't take them out. GILSON: Oh, only . . . only official Washington people can take them out? ROSS: And with . . . with me, when I was there, I'd get them through the justice and I'd take it home. [chuckle]. Of course, that . . . that is illegal as far as they're concerned. But I always saw that the book went back when the others went back. I read history and philosophy . . . all kinds of history, for all those years. European, ancient, modern, back when . . . from the Greeks and the Romans, African history, Ethiopian, and all of those others. Those folks that had the Jews enslaved. GILSON: Umhmm. ROSS: West African cultures down there where Kunte Kinte came from [chuckle] in his book of folks [Alex Haley's Roots]. I knew it as well as Haley. The only difference was Haley was smart enough to sell it; I wasn't. [laughter] And then after . . . after Pearl Harbor, I started reading Japanese history. It's fascinating, you know. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: Those guys are something. GILSON: Well, tell me about some of the other justices that were there. Of course, you worked . . . ROSS: I only worked for those two, Justice Minton and Justice Reed. GILSON: Umhmm. But you a little bit about some of the other . . . ROSS: Oh, yeah. All . . . I thought some . . . some of them were great. I . . . I think the most outstanding of all of the justices that I've ever met was Justice . . . Chief Justice [Charles] Hughes. GILSON: Oh, yeah? ROSS: The only man I've ever seen . . . I've ever seen in all of my life who demanded respect and he didn't have to say anything to you. And he didn't just affect me that way; he affected the justices the same way. They didn't all sit up there and go . . . do a whole lot of arguing with him. [laughter]. He . . . he was a terrific fellow. Wow! I think Justice Minton was another person who was most unusual. He was a person . . . he could meet anybody who worked at the Court, from the chief down to the cuspidor cleaner, [and] call him by name whenever he saw him. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: You . . . you didn't get [chuckling] so far down that he didn't know who you were. I think another one who was . . . was . . . was most unusual was Justice [Felix] Frankfurter. He was a brilliant guy. He wasn't a lawyer; he was a law professor. GILSON: Umhmm. Yeah. ROSS: Some of those people were long on brains. [chuckle] GILSON: Yeah, Frankfurter was pretty emotional, too. That's . . . that's a . . . ROSS: I don't know that he was so emotional. He was a typical Jew [in] that he expressed himself in a very emotional type of manner. But I don't know if he was all that emotional because . . . and then reason I say that is when you get emotionally involved, you can't think. GILSON: Umhmm. Yeah. ROSS: But that guy could always think. That's the reason I don't [laughing] think that he was all that emotional. He never let his . . . he never let his emotions mess him up on his thinking. [Interruption in taping] GILSON: Is that your wife? ROSS: I have an idea it is. GILSON: Well, let me think. You used to fix Justice Reed's lunch. ROSS: Oh, well, he didn't . . . GILSON: Tell me . . . tell me . . . tell me about that. ROSS: . . . he . . . he didn't have much of a lunch because you see every year he would have a physical checkup. And one year when he had his checkup, the doctor found some arteriosclerosis, and he told him he'd have to diet. So he decided he would go on a diet. So he went down to Durham [North Carolina], and . . . under a man . . . a doctor at Duke [University], and when the . . . when he went in to see him about . . . and the doctor was interviewing him, he . . . the doctor asked him how much did he weigh when he was twenty-one. And he said "a hundred and fifty." Well, he was weighing a hundred and ninety or ninety-five, something like that. So the doctor put him on . . . until he got to about a hundred and fifty and he stopped him just like that. [chuckle] [inaudible] . . . in a . . . in a matter of two or three weeks. And . . . well, I went down there to see him, to bring him back. I . . . I said, "Doggone it, I'm going to take him back here if he lives he'll be [inaudible]," losing that much weight, and then he had just lost it. He hadn't had time for his skin to shrink down to fit his body. [chuckle] Looked like his . . . his skin was hanging on him like an old overcoat. So he stayed with that diet. It was known as a rice diet because that was the principal food. And I think the reason that they used that was because [phone rings] that . . . GILSON: Will you get that or . . . ROSS: . . . she'll get it . . . GILSON: Oh, she'll get it, okay. ROSS: . . . because they find very little arteriosclerosis among Chinese and that is their chief diet. GILSON: Oh, that's . . . I didn't know that was why. I thought it was just the . . . well, I mean, you know . . . you know, that was just speculation on my own part. I thought they had him on there just to . . . you know, the bulk carbohydrates or something. ROSS: No, I think this was . . . this was the idea that I had about why the doctors used a rice diet for the . . . for people with this problem, because of the . . . the fact that the Chinese have very little arteriosclerosis. But anyhow, he stayed on that rice for a long time. And I would always see that he . . . he got it for his lunch regularly. And I heated it each day so that it would be something like what it should have been. Because when it comes to rice, just a little rice goes a long way for me to . . . [laughter]. GILSON: That's true. ROSS: I can do . . . I can do very well with . . . better with potatoes than I can with rice. [chuckle--Gilson] That's . . . that's one of those things that you've got to eat . . . eat and eat and eat . . . GILSON: Right. ROSS: . . . every day. I think that would . . . that would drive me crazy if I had eat rice every day. GILSON: Yeah, I guess it could drive you crazy, couldn't it? [laughter] ROSS: But he . . . he stuck with his. He didn't have any trouble with it. And he kept his weight down, too, over those years. That was just another one of the things that I did other than his books and his lunch and his driving. Sometimes . . . he usually drove himself to work in the morning. And after that, I would do the driving the rest of the day. Sometimes if had an appointment in the morning, I would go over and take him on to his appointment, whatever it was. And if I went over there, I would cook something for him such as his little breakfast that he [inaudible] because [chuckle] Mrs. Reed would say, "Ross, you . . . you scramble the justice's eggs. You do them better than I do." [chuckle] GILSON: Tell me about Mrs. Reed. I want to find out about her. I know she was . . . well, she was another Maysville native, but . . . ROSS: She was what? GILSON: Another . . . another person from Maysville, but . . . I think she was . . . yeah, she was from Maysville, wasn't she? ROSS: Yeah, she's been in Maysville most of her life. She was born in . . . born in Sharpsburg. GILSON: Hmm. Well, that's . . . ROSS: It . . . that's in Kentucky, but . . . GILSON: Yeah. Yeah. ROSS: . . . but it wasn't . . . but it wasn't in Mason County. GILSON: Yeah. Right. I thought she was in . . . well, it doesn't matter what I thought. [laughter--Ross] From . . . from what I can tell, she always was like the southern belle or something. Was . . . was she that way at all, or . . . or was she . . . ? ROSS: Well, yes and no. She loved to be in the limelight, around where there was activity. And that's why he ended up here, because he . . . when he retired, he didn't plan on staying here. His ideas were to go back to Kentucky and be a gentleman farmer. But he couldn't sell the idea to Mrs. Reed. She wanted to be where the action was. [chuckle] And that is a different type of a thing. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: It's interesting how things happen. And then after he had been retired for so long, and he was getting older and older, and then I got sick and I quit and there was no one to help them out, and that's when they had to go into a nursing home because one couldn't help the other. Yeah, I think he was around ninety-five when he died. GILSON: Yeah. Yeah, he was ninety-five. ROSS: See, I worked for him for thirty-five years, which is quite a while. [chuckle] GILSON: Yeah, quite a while. That's . . . well, let's see, you were working for him after Miss [Helen] Gaylord left. ROSS: Yes, I worked for him for about two or three years after she left, and then I had a stroke. And when I got out of the hospital, I quit. In the first place, I wasn't a- . . . I wasn't able to work, anyhow. Physically I wasn't hurt too bad, but it messed up the noggin. I can't think worth a nickel. Got nothing to think with. GILSON: Well, you seem to be doing a pretty good job. I don't know why you . . . I mean, . . . ROSS: A pretty good job of living? GILSON: A pretty good job of thinking. ROSS: No. It's gone. At one time I didn't do too bad, but I'm sad now. [chuckle] Yeah. Now I have to just sit around in here because I can't hold a job. I . . . that was my idea when I retired. It come upon me when I was coming up to retirement. I had one thing in mind: I was going to take my retirement and invest it in some form, and I was going to hustle enough to live on. Because after I went into government, in the evening I would moonlight [inaudible]. See, Washington is a party town, and I would go out and serve at dinner parties and cocktail parties, whatever kind. Some of the fellows have to be with another person because they don't know what it's all about, but as I had worked as a butler in a private family, I could go into a person's home and stretch the table and set it up from beginning through right on through. I didn't . . . I didn't need somebody there to coach me. Well, heck, I wouldn't even remember, "What the heck? Isn't there supposed to be some of this in the middle of that table?" I wouldn't even have enough now on the ball to [chuckle] remember, "Yes, they . . . they call it a centerpiece." [chuckle] GILSON: Oh, well. Speaking of . . . of . . . of partying and stuff like that, what was the Reeds' social life like? Did you . . . ROSS: Oh, they . . . they had a very nice social life. Mrs. Reed loved to party and they went quite a bit. I would take them out in the early evening lots of times. And then when they were having a party, having . . . [microphone problems] . . . oh! GILSON: It's come undone. [Interruption in taping] GILSON: Go right ahead. I don't . . . ROSS: When . . . when they were having a party, I would serve it up, I would . . . I would serve it. GILSON: Oh, did . . . did you do all the clerks' dinners and . . . ROSS: No. I didn't . . . oh, I helped serve one or two of the fellows' dinners . . . two or three of the law clerks' dinners. I used to do par- . . . parties for Mr. and Mrs. [Bennett] Boskey. If I get to Kentucky this summer, I want to go by to see Gordon Davidson. He's the guy I want to see. GILSON: Yeah, he's . . . he's well. I . . . I talked to him a couple of weeks ago. ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: I don't know if I'll make it or not, because I may not have anything to go there after I get through with my income tax this summer. I'm the guy who doesn't have any income, but got to pay income tax. [chuckle] It doesn't make much sense that I got to pay all this income and . . . and there's an organization known as Chrysler Motors [chuckle--Gilson] that can't keep up. Now, there's something [laughter] wrong with somebody's calculations, because it seems to me that if they could sell three Chryslers, that would help them for a while. [laughing] GILSON: Umhmm. Really. ROSS: But it's a crazy world. GILSON: How well did you get along with the staff at the Supreme Court? The . . . I mean, everybody, from the justices, through the clerks, through the . . . ROSS: I never had any trouble. GILSON: Never had any trouble with them? ROSS: Uh-uh. No, no. Everyone was beautifully behaved, took care of everything. I've never had any trouble getting along with people. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: That was a . . . that was one of the good things about my life. I had good parents who taught what me life was to be like. How to meet people, how to treat people, and it's always come in good standing. GILSON: What's it like for a . . . for a . . . a guy from . . . from Mason County, Kentucky, to come to Washington, D.C., for the first time? I mean, you said you . . . you traveled around a good bit, or wha- . . . what was it like trying to . . . moving from . . . from the . . . ROSS: A rural area to a city? GILSON: Yeah, especially during . . . during those times. I mean, they were pretty . . . pretty troubled. ROSS: Nothing to it if you . . . if you've got your head screwed on right. GILSON: Umhmm. ROSS: And that's the reason that I'm for . . . I . . . I feel sorry for the young peoples today. When the mothers go out to work just like the fathers do, and nobody trains the child. The American people have the craziest idea. They think that all you have to do is just send a young fellow to school. That isn't it. I don't look at education like that. I look at education that it's like the bank; that you can get money out of the bank if you put money in it. That's the way it is with education. You only bring out of a school what you take in. If you don't take anything in there to school, you ain't going to bring anything out, just a few facts and figures. In other words, if you're a thug when you go in school, the only thing you can do is come out a better thug. GILSON: But if you go into school with the attitude you want to learn, you can come out . . . ROSS: Right. You'll get out of it what you . . . what you take in. GILSON: Right. ROSS: Here's where you live. You live from here up, not from here down. Think it over. GILSON: Okay. [laughter]. Okay. So . . . so tell me, you . . . you come to Washington, . . . ROSS: I came here looking for a job. GILSON: . . . looking for a job, yeah. ROSS: And . . . GILSON: You had your head screwed on right, we'll . . . we'll . . . we'll give you that. ROSS: Yeah. I . . . I was . . . I was fortunate. I had two good parents who had time. They taught me how to live and what to expect out of life. And that was the . . . that was it. I hear these people who sit there constantly talking about guns. People have got . . . they shouldn't be having guns. Guns don't kill people; people kill people. I grew up in a house where dad had the old shotgun sitting behind the door. And it was there and he raised six children. But we knew when were big enough to crawl, you don't touch that gun. When we got big enough to know how to handle a gun, he taught us how to handle it. But until we did, until we got that big, we didn't touch it. The thing that has never made any sense to me, you know, the way these people look at life that I hear on this "stupid box" [television], that's what I call it, "You shouldn't have guns. You shouldn't have guns. The people that are killed by handguns." Yeah. They raise hell about abortions, that's murder. But yet this country still has capital punishment. What kind of a philosophy is that? Isn't that crazy? GILSON: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Some people . . . ROSS: Now, when it comes to an abortion, that fetus [inaudible], but so what? It doesn't have anything here yet because it hasn't developed that far. But the guy who kills somebody and the . . . caught and the . . . the society kills him, society's done the same thing that he did. I can't follow that philosophy. No one is what he is because he decides to be there. Whatever anyone is, something made him or somebody. That's the way I look at life. But I'm out . . . I'm out of step [chuckling] with most things. But I think this is the reason that the justice liked to talk with me because I came up with such . . . with things way off the wall. [laughter] GILSON: I'll tell you what, let me flip this tape over and we can pick up where we left off. All right? [End of Tape 1, Side 1] [Beginning of Tape 1, Side 2] ROSS: . . . way over my head. I don't know anything about that kind of apparatus. I've never tried it. GILSON: Oh, really? That's . . . it's . . . it's quite simple. Tell you what . . . well, . . . ROSS: It's the same way with a camera. I . . . I'm the world's worst when it comes to a camera. I love playing with them, but I can't learn . . . I . . . I don't . . . I haven't learned how to operate them, so to make much sense. I grew up . . . my mother taught us to appreciate reading. That's the reason I did so much reading while I was in there. Is that a wild stack of books? [chuckle]. GILSON: Yeah. Yeah. I see you've read The Brethren. What did you think about that? ROSS: That's . . . that's . . . that's quite interesting. See, I knew all those guys anyway. Oh, I don't know those that . . . that President Nixon got in there. GILSON: Yeah. Yeah. That's . . . ROSS: Because I had . . . GILSON: . . . that's true. The book . . . ROSS: . . . of course, I had left by then. GILSON: . . . yeah, the book kind of takes up after . . . after Nixon's elected. Kind of the people after that. ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: But, . . . ROSS: But I knew the background of the Court. GILSON: Uh-huh. ROSS: I was doing a . . . I . . . that's another thing I did while I was at the Court. I used to take people on tours of the building. A tour guide. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: I was doing a tour one day, and there was a lady from . . . Greek . . . a Greek lady. And on the tour I said the building was a replica of the Parthenon on the Acropolis. And she applauded. And [chuckle] the . . . the other people on . . . on the tour looked around at her. I guess they . . . [laughing] I guess they were trying to figure out why she was applauding to see if they should be applauding or not. Now, this is the Parthenon and this the Acropolis. GILSON: That's right. ROSS: See how much that looks like the Supreme Court? GILSON: Umhmm. Yeah. Just without the wings on it. ROSS: Umhmm. But that's the way . . . GILSON: Well, was she applauding because you said it was the Parthenon on the Acropolis, instead of . . . ROSS: Well, she was . . . she . . . she was from Athens. She knew it. GILSON: Yeah. Right. [chuckle] I guess she was making sure you got it right. ROSS: No, she was just ap- . . . applauding me that I realized this. GILSON: Oh, okay. Well, I mean, that's . . . that's kind of what I was saying. ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: I mean, . . . ROSS: Umhmm. GILSON: . . . it was . . . ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: . . . yeah. ROSS: There's some of the . . . all those you can see it throughout the building, the capital orders. There's the Corinthian, there's the Ionics, that one's the Doric and all of those are Adena. And these are the things that I would point out to them. When I was doing the tour, I would be taking people from the beginning, where you come up over the sidewalk, up the three or four steps and then on up. The base of the flagpoles and the things that were on them. The pieces above the door, because I went . . . I mean, when I started out just doing tours, they would just tell you to go take a tour. They didn't tell you what to say, how to present yourself. They didn't tell you anything, just said, "Give a tour." And I soon found that a lot of people that were on those tours knew more about it than I did, and I was . . . just wasn't about to let those folks make a nut of me. I was supposed to be out there telling the people something about it; I don't know anything. You can't do it like that. So I started doing research. GILSON: How closely did you follow the . . . the . . . the works of the Court when you were there? Did . . . did . . . did you know what was going on most of the time? ROSS: I did. [Ross apparently hands material to Gilson] GILSON: As the . . . yeah. Of course, some of these cases are ones that Mr. Reed worked on. That's `72. Yeah. Yeah. ROSS: Here's an interesting one. GILSON: Yeah. That's . . . that's [laughter] . . . ooh! That's the killer. Yeah, that'd . . . the . . . what was . . . what was the name of that case, anyway? It was a Supreme Court . . . ROSS: That's it right there. GILSON: Okay. School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania et al. versus Schempp, et al. "Prohibition of the First Amendment against the enactment of Congress, any law respecting an establishment of . . . of a religion and so forth. No state, law, or school board may require that passages from the Bible may be read or that the Lord's Prayer be recited in public schools of state at the beginning of each school day. Even if individual students may be excused from attending or participating in such exercises upon written request of their parents." Yeah. That . . . that caused quite a stir. ROSS: Yes, but do you know what? GILSON: What? ROSS: The Court did not say what the news media said. GILSON: That's true. Well, . . . ROSS: They said the Court took the prayer out of schools. The Court didn't do that. That's just what the Court said, right there. That you could not have a prayer that the people made up, "because [inaudible] the First Amendment against enactment of Congress of any law respecting an establishment of religion which is made apropos to the state of the Fourteenth Amendment. No state law or school board may require that passages from the Bible be read, that the Lord's Prayer be recited in public schools of a state at the beginning of the school day." That's what the school . . . that's what the Court said. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: But do you see anything where you can't have a prayer? GILSON: No. Privately, if a student wanted to . . . wanted to do it, it says nothing about it. ROSS: "No state law or school board may require that passages of the Bible be read or that the Lord's Prayer be recited in the public school of a state at the beginning of each school day, even if individual students may be excused from attending or participating in such exercises upon written request of their parents." But did you see you couldn't have prayer at school? And that's the way those justices picked it to pieces, too. That very way. GILSON: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I'm sure. ROSS: They read what is said, not what N.B.C. [National Broadcasting Corporation] or . . . or . . . [chuckle] GILSON: Well, let . . . let's take one . . . let's take one where Mr. Reed was on the Court at the time. How about the . . . the Brown case [Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka]? ROSS: Let's see. Decided in nineteen and sixty-three. GILSON: Right. That, of course, was after . . . here's the one . . . one of the ones. Well, you remember the Brown case, in . . . in `54? ROSS: Umhmm. Let's see. I don't have that here. See, I come along and I get these things and then I get rid of them or something. Because it's too much of a job to at least keep up with that stuff. GILSON: Yeah. Well, I was just thinking about the wording in that. ROSS: Yeah. GILSON: You know. I don't . . . I don't know if . . . if you knew much about that. Did any of the members of the Court have a hard time with that one, with . . . with the Brown case? ROSS: Oh, not too much. GILSON: Yeah? ROSS: They wrestled with it, is . . . see, it's just certain passages that would hang them up. GILSON: Yeah. ROSS: And if they could get over a certain . . . over certain places, they were all right. Some of those were kind of . . . a little rough on the justice. GILSON: Well, Mr. Ross, I think we've covered just about everything . . . everything that I had written down. Can you . . . can you think of anything else about your Court years, or about Mr. Reed on the Court? ROSS: No, offhand I can't. But over the years it was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed it to the nth degree. We had a very cordial relationship. GILSON: I know that all the clerks have the utmost respect for both you and Mr. Reed, and Miss Gaylord as well. ROSS: Oh, Miss Gaylord is terrific. Yes, indeed. Over the years [while] the three of us were there, law clerks would come and law clerks would go [chuckle], but we went on forever, seemingly. GILSON: Some justices would come and go. You'd . . . ROSS: That's right. GILSON: . . . be [chuckle] . . . ROSS: Yes, indeed. I met a whole lot of justices over that period of time. GILSON: Well, I think . . . ROSS: Well, how long are you going be around? GILSON: Oh, around Washington? ROSS: Umhmm. GILSON: I'll be here . . . can I go ahead and turn this off, or . . . ROSS: Sure, I think we're about finished. GILSON: . . . we're about finished? Okay. ROSS: Yeah. [End of Interview] Gerald Ross served Justice Reed in several capacities. He recalls getting books for Reed from the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court library, and the law library. He also talks about Reed's rice diet, and how he helped the justice prepare his lunch. During his time at the Supreme Court, Ross worked for Justice Minton as well, and he served as a tour guide. Some of the other topics that Ross mentions in the interview include Justice Hughes; Mrs. Reed; the annual law clerk dinners; The Brethren; and School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, a case involving prayer in school. Kentucky Politics