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JANET HODGSON: Today is Monday, August 5, 1985. I'm Janet Hodgson, U of L Archives. We're interviewing Vivian Clark Stanley, wife of the former owner and publisher of the Louisville Defender and majority stockholder and chairman of the board after Mr. Stanley's death in 1974. Mrs. Stanley, will you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background? Your education? Your career?

VIVIAN STANLEY: Okay. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, was educated there through college. I became a social worker in the early ‘40s, and went on to get my graduate degree from Smith College School of Social Work in 1947 and ‘48. I returned to Memphis, remaining there until 1956. Meanwhile, I had married, and when that marriage dissolved in 1955, I decided that I was free and 1:00that I was mobile, and I wanted to work elsewhere. So I left Memphis to move to Cincinnati because of the reputation of the family service agency there.

JH: Oh, uh-huh.

VS: I had worked at the family service of Memphis, initially, and had enjoyed my work immensely, you know, doing various things -- family counseling, marriage counseling -- but most of my work that I really enjoyed was work with adolescents at that point. Well, I moved to Cincinnati and found that to be a most rewarding work experience. The agency had everything imaginable to make your work interesting, productive, growth-producing, and the city had many resources and that kind of thing, so it was really a marvelous experience. The 2:00reason I came to Louisville was because of Mr. Stanley when we decided to get married.

JH: Oh, you met him in Cincinnati?

VS: No, I met Mr. Stanley back in the '40s, when I had worked in Jackson, Mississippi, at a small school there, briefly, during the war. He, along with some other publishers and some educators, came to Jackson College where I was working -- it's now known as Jackson State -- and they met there for three days. They were talking about the concept of a regional educational center back in those days, so that was one of those beginning conferences. I was working with and for two men that had known him earlier. He had worked at Jackson College in the ‘30s, right after he finished Atlanta University.


JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I remember seeing that on his resume.

VS: Yes, and the two men that I worked for knew him then, and they thought he was just the greatest person in the world. So, before he arrived, they had filled me in on this person. I met him and he was a nice person and all that.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: So, then I re-met him in 1959 in Cincinnati. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, as you know.

JH: Yes.

VS: They had a convention there, had an open meeting that the public was invited to, where Thurgood Marshall was speaking, so naturally, I had to go hear that. I saw him there and we talked, and he told me at that point, that his wife had filed suit for divorce and he was just devastated, really devastated. From that 4:00point forward, we never lost contact with one another. It was a very trying period and he kind of cried on my shoulder a lot of the time, going through that experience.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: Two years later, we were married.

JH: Oh! Well, that's wonderful. Then you came to Louisville before the marriage?

VS: Yes. I came before we married. We married in May of '61, and I came in late January, and I went to work at Family and Children's Agency here on February 1, 1961. I remained with them until 1973 when I went to the Board of Education, briefly.

JH: Oh, uh-huh.

VS: Well, I was there three years. At that point, I decided I'd go back to Memphis and go back to the agency where I started. That was fascinating. I was there five years.

JH: When was that?


VS: That was from '77 to '82.

JH: Oh, after Mr. Stanley's death, you went back to Memphis.

VS: After his death, yes.

JH: Oh, I see. You became chairman of the board, but you left -- perhaps we can get into that a little later – but you left the running of the paper to other people.

VS: Well, that's a whole story. [Laughs]

JH: Yeah. Right. We'll get to that a little later, okay?

VS: So, I was here for several months before we actually married. My mother came with me, and we'd settled down and had kind of become a part of the community before we married.

JH: Is your mother still here? I mean, did she stay here?

VS: No, she didn't stay with us but about eight or nine months. The reason being, she couldn't adjust to our house. She had a heart condition, and it just was not... she could not adjust to doing what she had to do upstairs, and then come to the first floor and remaining there for the goodly part of the day and not running up and down the stairs. That was just too hard on her, so she went to live with my brother in California, who had a one-floor plan house. It was 6:00much more conducive to her health. So, she was with him for quite some time, and it was then, well, from about 1961 until, I guess '71, when she came back to Louisville to live with us, and at that point, Mr. Stanley's mother had died. See, she lived with us after our marriage. Very shortly thereafter, about three months, she moved in with us. And, of course, the boys.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: She had died in 1968.

JH: Mrs. Stanley. Mr. Stanley's mother.

VS: Mother, yes. So, my mother returned to Louisville and we converted what had been our family room into a bedroom for her on the first floor, because her health had deteriorated considerably. She was just not getting the care she needed with my brother. His wife couldn't care for her and other 7:00responsibilities because my brother, by that time, was not very well himself. So, it was just too many responsibilities for her, so it was just better for her to be here with us. She remained with me until she died in 1982.

JH: Oh, uh-huh. She went back to Memphis with you then, when you were working back there.

VS: Yes. Yes.

JH: So you worked in the Family Children's Agency back in Memphis...

VS: Family Service.

JH: Family Service, until '82.

VS: They're all similar agencies, they just have little different names and duties and responsibilities, but very similar.

JH: How long did you work here in the Family and Children's Agency?

VS: I was here with them from '61 to '73.

JH: To '73. We did a series of oral interviews with people there because we got their papers. I'd like to talk with you about that sometime as a contingent.

VS: Yes, they're marvelous people.

JH: When you married Mr. Stanley, he had two boys and I believe you said Ken was 8:00still in high school?

VS: No, he had graduated from high school that year. No, the year before, because the year we were married, he was in school in California.

JH: Oh.

VS: He went to a school of jazz in Laguna Beach, California, in '60 or '61, I guess. The following year he went to Boston University.

JH: I noted in some of the literature that he was musically, he taught music here.

VS: Yes. He majored in music. He was a music education major, which meant that he could teach music, as well as he had to get his other educational requirements. That was something that my husband insisted on. He really wanted to become just a jazz musician, but my husband wouldn't stand for that. He thought he should have an education.


JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. [Laughs]

VS: Then if he wanted to play with a band for a while, then that would have been fine with him, but he chose to come back to Louisville to work on the paper.

JH: He worked on the paper after he finished his education in Boston?

VS: Well, both of them worked on the paper all of the time. As they were growing up, they always had some duties with the paper. They had duties with the paper to the exclusion of duties at home. [Laughs] They delivered papers, swept the floors and dusted the furniture and they did some of everything on the paper. Kenneth said he started working when he was eight. I don't know if that's the truth or not, but that's what he said. Anyway, they both were very active with the paper, and it was a family venture as far as they were concerned.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: Their mother also did some work on the paper, but I don't know exactly how much, but she did some work on it.


JH: And then Frank, Jr., was out of college by the time you were married?

VS: Yes. Yes. He had been out, I guess, a couple of years. He was working in Washington when I first met him.

JH: Oh. I noted that he was in journalism school.

VS: Yes.

JH: Was that as an advanced degree or was that what his…

VS: His undergraduate degree was in journalism from Illinois and then his graduate degree was from Boston in mass communications, which is a form of journalism also.

JH: Right. Right. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I… [Pause] Frank, Jr. was also assistant head of the Los Angeles Urban League? Is that right or was he executive director?

VS: Well, when Frank and I married, Frank returned here that same year and I think he worked on the paper -- yeah, he did -- for a year or two, because my 11:00husband went to Africa in 1962 and Kenneth and Frank took care of the paper while he was gone for those three months.

JH: Oh!

VS: And it was after that that Frank went to the National Urban League and was there for three years as Whitney Young's assistant.

JH: In Washington?

VS: No, New York.

JH: Oh, in New York.

VS: Uh-huh. Then after he left the National Urban League, he went directly to the Los Angeles Urban League as the director there, and he was in California for, oh, I guess, five, six years or more. He was with the Urban League. He left them after a year and a half or so, and he worked with a regional television station, had a talk show every morning, which was very impressive.

JH: Oh!

VS: And he left them to do what? I've forgotten. Anyway, he started a newspaper 12:00while he was out there; that didn't go, and he returned to Louisville, I guess, about 1970 or '71. I've forgotten which year it was.

JH: When Ken came back from college, he worked with the paper?

VS: Yes.

JH: So, he'd always been with the paper after that?

VS: Yes. He came on staff full-time and remained with it until he left in 1982.

JH: You said, when we were talking earlier, that you didn't do much for the Defender until the ‘80s, but I noticed in a lot of the --- especially the exposition things -- and a lot of the pictures for the special things like the Clothe-A-Child, that you were always there.


VS: Yes.

JH: So, I'm presuming you helped with a lot of these special promotions?

VS: Yes. Frank and I were a good team.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: Whatever he did, I supported him in that. But his day-to-day activities with the newspaper, I was not involved with that, but with Clothe-A-Child, with the exposition. I directed the little beauty pageant that we had. We gave several events, usually, around exposition time for our exhibitors. We gave one big party, so I always hosted that. I did all the planning, worked with the caterer, all the little nitty-gritty details that had to be done.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: And it was an enjoyable experience. It was hard work, in addition to my own work and home responsibilities --

JH: Yes. Yes. Uh-huh.

VS: You know, taking care of that big, eight-room house and all that business, but it was enjoyable and we made a good team.

JH: Did you travel with him when he was president of Alpha Phi Alpha and went to 14:00all of the chapters…?

VS: Well when we married, his Alpha Phi Alpha days were over.

JH: Oh!

VS: He was president of Alpha in 1955 through 1957, so that was before we married.

JH: Alright.

VS: But he was very active with the National Publisher's Association, so I went with him as often as possible, several times a year. I went, usually, to the mid-winter workshops in January and the June conventions. Then we did a lot of traveling, vacation-wise. We couldn't get away for long periods of time, but there were many long weekends, and in the fall, we always took about a ten-day trip someplace where it was warm and lazy. We fell in love with the Bahamas, 15:00well, all the Caribbean and West Indies islands and Virgin Islands. We had planned to retire on the Virgin Islands.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: So, it was -- Life with him was always exciting, and you never knew what was going to happen next. He kind of enjoyed giving me a challenge, just to see whether or not I could respond, I think. He'd come home, say on Wednesday night, and say, "Let's go to the park on Friday," and I'd say, "Okay." So I'd get busy and we'd go for the weekend. I rarely said “Oh, I don't want to be bothered,” or “No,” or whatever, and it always amazed him because I think he thought, "Well, one of these days, she's going to back up." If he said, "Go," I went. Whatever it took to get ready to go, you know, we went and it was very 16:00enjoyable. He loved surprising me. He really did. We had something very special, very special.

JH: That's wonderful. I notice some pictures, too, of when you would have the Miss Exposition contest. You would take the girls to some of the state parks?

VS: Yes. Yes.

JH: That must have been fun.

VS: Oh, it was. It was delightful! I remember the first trip we made, I had ten girls. We had three chaperones, so we rented five cottages, I guess, because we had drivers. We borrowed some cars and some station wagons and drove our own car, of course. So, we had quite a motorcade going down to Rough River.


JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: No, it wasn't Rough River.

JH: You were there one time, I remember.

VS: Yeah, but we were --

JH: But you were a couple of other places, too. There are some photographs.

VS: Yeah, well anyway, it was a park near... it must have been Buckhorn because it was near -- Oh, dear, what am I trying to think of? Anyway, we didn't know quite what to expect, but rather than having to go to the dining room for meals all the time, we took lots of food and we rented the cottages and they have kitchens, of course, equipped with everything.

JH: Yes. Uh-huh. I know. I've been in some of them.

VS: So we took fruit galore, I made big pots of chili. [Laughs] I baked a ham. We took lots of fresh bread and butter, makings for salads and like this. The girls got in the kitchen and pitched in and helped with making the food, and 18:00they had such a good time! It was a time when they could kind of get to really know each other.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: They hadn't had that, except they'd been rehearsing for several weeks, so they were getting along okay and all this kind of thing. Then we started rehearsing of Friday night and we rehearsed until eleven o'clock. They bedded down until the next morning; we started rehearsing at nine o'clock Saturday morning, and worked them to death all day, [interviewer laughs] but they had such a good time! We let them rest Sunday and we came home Sunday afternoon. But it was delightful.

JH: Now, was that the week before the exposition?

VS: Yes.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: That was the only time we took them before the exposition, where we had to do all this rehearsing. The other times, we took them it was after, which was really a kind of reward, you know, for a job well done.


JH: Well, did you get to chaperone? The Miss Exposition usually went on a trip then, too. I saw some things of a trip to the Virgin Islands. Did you go with those?

VS: No, I always allowed somebody else to do that. Some people who volunteered and… Our photographer and his wife went one year. One year the mother of one of the girls went along. The next year we tried it, and it was a fiasco! So after that, some member of the staff who worked with me would go as a chaperone and it worked out fine.

JH: Those expositions must have taken a lot of planning. All of the concerts and the contests and the setting up of… Was it all done by Mr. Stanley or was it 20:00done by the newspaper staff itself, or did he have extra people to help? How did that…

VS: Well, those first years, he practically did it all. He still did all the pre-planning and sold a good bit of the advertising, scheduled all the events, contacted the bands and all this kind of thing. Thought up other things that we were going to do, such as contests. One of the things that he really enjoyed -- it was tedious, but he loved doing it -- was making out the floor plan. Putting the bleachers where they would stay. But that was always his job.

JH: Wow, uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: Then the first couple of years, he not only did all of that, but he was the emcee from the time the show opened in the evening until eleven o'clock each 21:00night for four consecutive nights. So he dressed up in his tuxedoes and was emcee of all these events, but after a couple of years, he realized that was really getting to be a little bit too much.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: So he began to ask people like Bill Summers and Mervin Aubespin and a few other local people to help with the emcee.

JH: Did the boys help, too?

VS: Frank wasn't here and that was not Kenneth's bag of wax. […] When Frank was here, yes, he would do it.

JH: Uh-huh. I thought I'd seen some pictures of him doing it.

VS: Yes, he liked doing it. He likes to talk. He's a good speaker, but Kenneth never really enjoyed doing it. In the later years, after my husband's death, Kenneth began to emcee his talent show because that was the part of the show 22:00that he was particularly responsible for and enjoyed doing it.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: It wasn't that he wasn't capable, it's just that he hadn't done it and he wasn't very comfortable with it, but he was certainly capable.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: Then we found that to cut down on having just one emcee for the total evening, we began to have people do parts of each show. Like at one point when Gulf Oil was sponsoring the Miss Exposition pageant, they had a woman on their staff who was a very flamboyant lady, who came down every year. She would emcee the exposition, and she loved it and the crowd loved her. One year after we had made Miss Exposition and she had done her walk, you know, she said, "Now ladies, 23:00I'm going to walk for all you ladies out there who've never been up here," and then she made her walk, and the crowd just roared! [Interviewer laughs] She was delightful, Willa Bench.

JH: You got wonderful talent for those shows. I noticed that you had Duke Ellington and some of the really big names in the music field.

VS: Yes.

JH: Was this… I'm presuming it was because Mr. Stanley knew all these people and had personal contact with a lot of them?

VS: Yes. See, he had, in the early years in the '30s and '40s, he had booked bands into Louisville.

JH: Oh!

VS: That's how he got to know people like Ellington and Basie and all the rest. Of course, Lionel Hampton is from here.


JH: Uh-huh.

VS: And so is Jonah Jones, so they're kind of like family to him. I didn't know them well. But that, it made it easier for him to get people. That was one of the reasons I think Kenneth wanted to be in a band, plus Frank's first wife's brother was a trumpeter, and he played with Lionel Hampton in the early years.

JH: Oh, okay.

VS: But, finally, there was too much stress. He had been in the Navy and went back to the Navy and made a career of that. Kenneth sort of imitated Duke. That's what they called him. Duke [?]. In the early years of our marriage, during the ‘60s, we did have Basie one year and Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, and I'm trying to think of some of the other bands. Then we found that some of 25:00the younger people really didn't know these jazz bands as well, and they didn't turn up. So, we had to try to find other attractions to get people to respond to, and we found that some of the local contests brought a larger crowd.

JH: So that's when you started things like the gospel singing contests and the group…

VS: Yeah, but that was part of the program from years ago. On Sundays, we always had that gospel program.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: It was always a crowd pleaser.

JH: Was it always a contest like that?

VS: Yes. Uh-huh. It always made it kind of interesting, and they could at least win something, a trophy if nothing else. Then in later years, we added money to the winnings.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: But some of the other contests did grow out of that awareness that . . . the 26:00talent contest, for instance. We were looking around, one year, what to put on Saturday night?

JH: Was that the last night or was Sunday the last night?

VS: Sunday was the last day.

JH: Oh, Sunday was the last day.

VS: But Saturday night is the night when we usually had a good crowd, but we wanted something that might be entertaining and came up with the talent show. That clicked and they usually they packed the house on Saturday night, because we had some of the kids, and of course that brings out all their parents, and their relatives and what not, so it really is something that makes it interesting for the community. It makes them a part, really, of the exposition. That has always been the goal, to have as many local folks to participate as possible. See, when Frank and I first married, we'd have a cooking school in the afternoons, with home economists coming in and…


JH: Well, did the Exposition, it evolved from a cooking school?

VS: Yes. That's how it evolved.

JH: I think I've seen some pictures that had a cooking school back in the ‘30s.

VS: Right. Right.

JH: Then, was it after the war that the Expositions got started or. . . .

VS: Well, they changed the name of it.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: But it was a continuum -- grew from that and from this growing awareness of what people needed and wanted and that kind of thing.

JH: But you had cooking schools and then the other things at night?

VS: Yeah.

JH: Then did you drop the cooking school after a while?

VS: Yeah, because we weren't getting people in.

JH: You had hair style shows--.

VS: Yeah.

JH: There's a picture of you having your hair done. [Laughs] I think it's wonderful.

VS: We still had the hair style show up until a couple of years ago. That was usually-

JH: Did you have the exposition... you had it last year, didn't you?

VS: Oh, yes. They're preparing now for the forty-eighth.

JH: Oh, uh-huh.

VS: I forgotten what I was about to say. Oh, the cooking schools. If you notice 28:00in the last three years, we've gone back to that. It's not a cooking school, it's a cooking contest now.

JH: Oh!

VS: Baking, and the first year, the first prize was a kitchen, all new kitchen cabinets.

JH: Oh, you mean a couple of years ago?

VS: Yes, just two years ago.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: The first year we had this cooking contest.

JH: First prize was -- Oh, that's worthwhile.

VS: Oh, yes. Lots of people participated, and each year it gets bigger and bigger, and they have any number of different categories. They're so complicated, I can't keep up with it.

JH: Well, it's a wonderful event.

VS: Yes. It's not something that draws a lot of people as far as sitting down 29:00and observing and all this kind of thing, because people bring their things that they cooked to the center, but still it creates a lot of interest. It's something that a lot of people participate in and it's becoming more and more interracial.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: We've got some criticism because I think the first two years, the first prize winners were white.

JH: Oh.

VS: That was a little disturbing to some people.

JH: To some in the black community.

VS: Yes, but when they realized how much effort these winners put into it -- I think the first lady who won had thirty-two entries, so she had entries in almost every category.

JH: Oh, my goodness!

VS: All kinds of cakes and pies and biscuits and rolls and all kinds of stuff, and she just got lots of blue ribbons and that ended up being first prize, and of course, we don't judge it.


JH: You had professional home economists?

VS: Yes. Right.

JH: One of your other promotions which seemed to attract community-wide support, because I've seen some of the applications that people that would put in when they'd send in the money, was the Clothe-A-Child. When did that start? Did Mr. Stanley start that before you were married?

VS: Yes, he started that. Yes, he did. That was already operational in 1961.

JH: That's a wonderful program.

VS: So, I'm sure it was two years or more before that-- I'm not really sure of all that stuff.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Then each year they went to a different department store?

VS: Yeah.

JH: Did they just advertise for these children or how did they come with the children who…


VS: We always got our children from the Welfare Department.

JH: Oh, alright.

VS: Then a lot of them were referred from the Department of Human Services, and then the later years before. . . .

JH: We were talking about the Clothe-A-Child and you were telling me how the children were chosen.

VS: Right.

JH: Would you go on?

VS: Yes. Initially, in the early years as I began to participate, the Department of Human Services would refer the children, but they were not actively involved. But in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, some of the staff became involved. One person who was very interested was Mrs. Ellen Hutchinson because she was the one who coordinated the whole process of the children. Of course, having so many children who have so many needs, what the Welfare Department did in some instances, was to select one child out of a family or to take small families and 32:00try to clothe all the children. We pretty much left that decision up to them as to how they were chosen. As you know, we collected money from the community.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: Now, that really was a modest kind of a collection. We got money from our friends and we wrote some letters and some businesses gave money, but it was a small part of the whole [?] program, of necessity.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: So that we clothed a modest number of children, but tried to do it as well as possible. We enjoyed doing it, and we went to stores on Christmas Day. Frank 33:00insisted on that! I never really agreed with that, but…

JH: It was Christmas Day that you would do this?

VS: Christmas Day we did the shopping with the children.

JH: Oh!

VS: We had volunteer drivers to go to their homes and pick them up, bring them to the store; we'd clothe the children. And then as years went on, we started adding things. The last year that we went to Jack and Jill, the owners there gave the children candy and nuts. That was the first time we had introduced any food to this whole process.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: The following year, I think we went to Roses that year. Kentucky Fried Chicken gave chicken to all of the children and it was boxed and brought out to Roses. The children ate there. The next year we went to WLKY and in cooperation with Kentucky Fried Chicken, they had a party and so on and so forth. So, it 34:00kind of snowballed a little bit.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: That continued as Frank had planned it, I think up until 1977. I'm not really sure, but I think it did. The years between '74 and '77, around that time, was so stressful to me, there's just some things I don't even remember.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: I don't remember that I participated in Clothe-A-Child. I was so grief-stricken, but anyway, 1977, I think that year is correct. Kenneth was, of course, running the paper, I was in Memphis, and WLOU meanwhile, had developed a 35:00program of feeding the elderly. So they formed a coalition of the two programs and that's the way it is now.

JH: Oh, uh-huh.

VS: It's Clothe-A-Child/Feed The Elderly, and now it has become almost a full-blown social service program.

JH: It's still sponsored by the paper and WLOU?

VS: Well, yes and no! They have a board of directors and they have an executive director and they have fundraisers, several each year, and of course they're doing a great job of clothing the children and this kind of thing.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: I don't have any quarrel with that. Meanwhile, the Defender's participation dwindled. It just receded. Somehow, Kenneth did not keep the staff informed as to what was going on. He didn't include them, so the present staff has had no 36:00contact with Clothe-A-Child, and I don't know what they will eventually do about that, whether they'll eventually just pull out and develop some other kind of charity or whatever. But the program as it operated when Frank was alive, you know it’s quite different now. Achieving a lot more, but it doesn't have some of the things that the earlier program had.

JH: Uh-humm. Mr. Stanley seemed to have so many facets to what he did. He was in a fraternity and was national president, five times president of the newspaper association, and. . . . You want to answer that? [Interruption - telephone 37:00rings. Tape shuts off and then resumes.]

JH: We were talking about Mr. Stanley's, all of his activities. How did he fit all this in? Was he a twenty-four-hour a day person? [Laughs]

VS: He was a workaholic! He certainly was a seven-day-a-week person. In latter years, he had to slow down. That's when he cut back all of his activities and focused on two organizations.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: The Boulé, locally, and then the National Newspaper Publisher's Association. He didn't attend the Alpha meetings very often. He resigned from all of his clubs, and he had been a person who did belong to a couple of social clubs.

JH: Was he ill toward the end?

VS: Yes, but he was tired.

JH: Oh, uh-huh.

VS: And he found that he couldn't do what he wanted to do on the paper and do 38:00all these social things, too. So actually we lived a very quiet life. A lot of people thought --

JH: The last couple of years?

VS: For the last five years. A lot of people thought we were entertaining all the time, but we weren't. When we entertained, we entertained big. We'd have some big affair with 100 or something, but that might be once a year.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: And sometimes not even that often. We always had guests for Derby and we'd have a small party for them, something like that. The fact that we were gone a lot, people thought we had lived very glamorous lives. But, day-to-day lives, we went to work, we came home, we had dinner, and we talked together, we went to bed. It was pretty much that. Then of course, the last three years he lived, he knew he had a serious heart condition, and he put himself on a diet. The doctor didn't have to do that. He put himself on that diet, and he lost forty pounds in about four months.

JH: Oh. Hmm.

VS: He had to have all new clothes, and he had such a good time doing that.


JH: That's always fun. [Laughs]

VS: He'd go in a store and he was like a little boy. He'd try on something and I'd say, "Buy it. Go on and buy it!" and he'd say "Oh, I don't need this. I don't want to buy it," and of course, he would! [Laughs] But, he had such beautiful clothes, he always liked to pick out his clothes.

JH: He always looked so nice in his pictures. He always dressed so well. Yeah.

VS: That was his one extravagance, but… We weren't drinkers and didn't nightclub. We'd go out to eat once in a while, and in the latter years, we ate out quite often, but because of his restricted diet, we had to go to places like the Blue Boar where we could get vegetables and salads and the kinds of things that he could eat. He loved the big steaks, but he just couldn't have the big 40:00steaks anymore. [Laughs]

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: You had to eat what you could have, and he didn't complain about it. He was really quite good about it. So many people just marveled at the fact that he went on that diet and stayed on it, but it was his lifesaver.

JH: Well, I think he was a very disciplined person.

VS: Yeah, he was.

JH: If he could balance all of these activities --

VS: He was a very disciplined person. I imagine there would be some people who would say, "Well no, that couldn't have been so," but he was.

JH: Well he must have been, to be able to balance running the newspaper plus doing all these other things that he did, and doing them all successfully then.

VS: And he had another quality about him that many people don't know about. That was maintaining communication with his friends. He didn't have a lot of close 41:00friends, but those that he was close to, he was in touch with. If he promised somebody he was going to do something, it was as good as done. He extended all kinds of nice courtesies, which endeared him to a lot of advertisers. The national advertisers, who came into town for the expo particularly; he knew that Herb Wright was coming in, he'd have a car at the airport to pick him up.

JH: Oh.

VS: Little courtesies like this really endeared him to these people. Now, we didn't spend a lot of time with them, but it was that little extra something that they were not expecting. It might be a bottle of champagne in their room, or some fruit or a welcome card. Anything just to say, "I know you're here." They miss that, oh do they miss that. When he died, the following year, they 42:00came and Frank, Jr., and Kenneth didn't even go by their booths to say hello. Some of them were just devastated. They had never been to Louisville and there wasn't a Stanley to do some little extra something for them, so the expo for them was just not the same. A lot of them lost interest.

JH: Uh-huh. Yeah.

VS: And that was sad, really sad, but [neither] Kenneth nor Frank were their father. Anybody can't reproduce him.

JH: No. No.

VS: Now, those were some things they didn't even know about him, they didn't realize some of the things he did.

JH: He didn't document them? Just you knew that he did them?

VS: Oh, no. He talked about it. He just dispatched somebody out to go pick up some money; it was kind of a routine thing for him. It was a thoughtful thing, but he didn't think he was doing anything unusual.


JH: Uh-huh.

VS: There were a lot of places we went and we got those kinds of courtesies.

JH: He seemed to have a lot of friends in the newspaper industry.

VS: Oh, yeah.

JH: I've seen a lot of correspondence from some other publishers, a gentleman down in New Orleans, and people from Pittsburgh and…

VS: Oh, yes. He was very well liked on the whole. Now, a lot of people didn't agree with him on a lot of things, [interviewer laughs] because if he believed in something, he believed in it. And, if you didn't believe in it, too bad, and he didn't mind crossing you, even if you were his best friend, or me, anybody, but he was a very loyal friend. Very loyal. You mentioned the fellow in New Orleans. He and Connie went way back. Years. Just very close.


JH: Now, Mr. Stanley had gone to Atlanta University and played football and basketball. Then he had taught at Jackson State and then he came here to Louisville?

VS: Right.

JH: But, he was from Louisville?

VS: Right. I don't know exactly the reason why he went to Jackson State, except that it was a job, and in 1930, if you had a job, you went.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: Plus, it was doing something he liked, teaching English. Once he got there, then he got involved in coaching. He was coaching drama. He coached the debate team, so in a small school, you do lots of things.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: Then he made these good friends. Just good friends that were his lifelong friends for the rest of his life, that we cherish very much. The reason he left 45:00Jackson was because his mother became ill and he came back here to Louisville and taught at Central for five years. It was while he was at Central that he became interested in writing. And that's how he got involved with the newspaper.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-humm. You had said, last time I was talking to you, that he was an official for this Midwest college, and you said this was his first love, the athletics and the football and all this.

VS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. He loved it.

JH: Did he keep up with that in later years, not the officiating, but with the people he'd known?

VS: Oh, yes. Some of them are lifelong friends.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And he had coached at Central, too?

VS: No, I don't think he ever coached. I think he might have helped, but I don’t think he coached.

JH: Did the boys play sports?

VS: Frank, Jr., did, but Kenneth didn't. He played in the band at Male but he 46:00didn't play in sports.

JH: Oh, Kenneth went to Male?

VS: Uh-huh. Yeah, he had graduated from there.

JH: Because Mr. Stanley was such a booster of Central, how did he get away from Central?

VS: I don't know how he got away from Central. I don't know whether … I think Kenneth made that choice. I think he wanted to go there because of the bandmaster. I don't remember his name, but he was somebody that Kenneth respected.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: He worked very hard. He became first trumpet, and they went to the Rose Bowl, and of course, Frank went with them. He was one of the boosters, and he got to raise that money. He was a good money raiser.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: He really was. The first state basketball championship that Central High had, he and a friend of his, in four days time, raised $6,000 to give those boys a banquet. They had more fun doing that. Then they got the money together, they 47:00got the banquet together and then they had some money left and said, "What are we gonna do with this?" [Laughs] So I think they gave the coach a watch and I believe they gave the boys blazers or something. Anyway, they gave them some additional gifts. And then of course, when Shawnee came along the very next year and won the state championship, they did the same thing for them.

JH: Oh.

VS: So, he enjoyed doing things in the community. Now, before I came to Louisville, he had been very active with the board of directors at the Red Cross Hospital.

JH: Oh, I hadn't seen that in the papers. There was no evidence of that in there.

VS: He helped to raise some funds to build a wing or something like that. I don't remember all the details of that. He had been active in other kinds of civic endeavors, but had to pull in because of the paper.


JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. [Pause.] After Mr. Stanley died and you were left the majority of the stock, could you tell us a little bit about what the editorial setup was at that point? You were majority stockholder and chairman of the board. How did you, or what happened to the paper at that time?

VS: Okay. After his death, as I mentioned earlier, I was really out of it. I erroneously believed that Kenneth and Frank had the skill to operate that paper. 49:00So my participation in the paper… Well, let me back up just a little bit. When Frank died, Frank, Jr., was working with the State Department, Kentucky State Department. He commuted to Frankfort every day. He left that job and came to the Defender. He and Kenneth became co-publishers. Frank was taking are of news and Kenneth was taking care of advertising and production work.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: I assumed, because I had not worked on the paper, Frank, Sr. and I had not really talked about how skillful either of his sons were, or how dependable, or how whatever, he did not discuss them, he did not discuss their job performance. 50:00I was not aware of any problems. But very soon thereafter, because I met with them on a weekly basis to plan the week ahead and to review the week that we had come through, I found that they were very competitive, very difficult to get along with each other, and it was a very disappointing kind of a situation. But unfortunately, I didn't see myself as part of the solution. I continued to feel, because of some correspondence and some discussions with Kenneth, that he was better prepared to operate the paper than he actually was. It became evident 51:00that he and Frank could not make it, and I had begun to see Frank in a very different light. He had begun to demonstrate to me that he simply could not, and I say could not -- I don't think it was would not, I think it was could not -- follow through on a promise or to commit himself to do a job and then do it. So, I asked him to leave in the spring of '76. No, I didn't ask him to leave. I take that back. I wanted him to leave, I didn't want to ask him to leave. We made it uncomfortable and he left, put it that way.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: We were forced to do one of two things, either kick him out completely, which we didn't want to do, or take all responsibilities from him. You know, not 52:00allow him to supervise anybody because that was just simply not working out. When we told him we were going to do those things, then he decided he would leave, so I guess in a way, I did ask him to leave. This was the spring of 1976. I'm still thinking that Kenneth knew what he was doing and knew where he was going. We had a good advertising person. We had a good money manager and some other support staff who were still loyal and working hard and all this. And so when I decided to leave in 1977, I left under the assumption that I was leaving the paper in very good hands. That thought went on. The next year, the financial reports came in and they were pretty good. We were solvent. We hadn't made much 53:00money, but we had to give some raises and buy some equipment we needed, and I thought I was getting a full picture of what was going on here in Louisville.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: Then at the end of '79, all of my assumptions proved to be erroneous. That was the beginning of a very stressful time. Very, very stressful. I tried to begin to help change some things, to provide some support, but I couldn't very well do that long distance.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: So what happened was, as Kenneth's functioning decreased, then our advertising manager’s increased.

JH: That was Mr. Leslie?


VS: Right. So when I returned here in 1982 with the thought that I would be able to work in the paper and make the difference and bring about some kind of little change, and then to arrive and to find out that it didn't matter much what I said and because I wasn’t physically capable of doing it, then in all fairness, I felt it would be better if I left. Now if there's anything worse than somebody trying to do something they can't do, although the doctor didn’t say I couldn’t do it. I proved to myself I couldn't do it. My mother was here, she was in a nursing home and I tried to take care of her and work. I just 55:00wasn't physically capable of doing it. Then, of course, this climate compounded the problems. I had developed asthma in Memphis and the last year I worked there was too [?]. It was extremely hard. It was very, very tiring, but I managed to work.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: That was partly because I was alone. Mother was in the nursing home then, and she was so far out that I couldn't see her except on weekends. So, it was a matter of going to work everyday and then going home to bed every night. That last year, that's how I survived, and I was still in the doctor's office about six or eight times in a year, the shots, you know, whatever because my asthma was getting severe. So it was a real disappointment when I returned here and found that nothing I did helped Kenneth to become any stronger. The harder I 56:00worked to try to support him and to encourage him to do the things that were best for the paper and for himself.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: And this was the thing I kept stressing. He went back to school, he took several courses in management, but did not use it. I felt like he really needed some help in learning money management, particularly, but it just did not take and finally he just said to me, he didn't think he should be doing all these things I asked him to do. Well, that was just the last straw! [Laughs] You know, what do you say then. But then, I found out, from other people, people who worked for the paper -- I wasn't in contact with those folks during the summer, 57:00that he never had done much on the paper! I said, "What do you mean, he never had done?" "Well, he didn't!" Then I began to get the full picture, and unfortunately, Frank had carried both of these boys.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: If they didn't produce, then he filled in for them.

JH: Oh, I see. Uh-huh.

VS: And when he got tired of them, he fired them.

JH: Hm!

VS: Yes. He fired Frank several times. Frank would get so arrogant, wouldn't do anything he was told, so he finally fired him. He'd put up with him for awhile, but then he'd say, "Sorry, but you've got to go."

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: But it was just really the disappointment of my life that this had to happen. What puzzles me even today is why I didn't think [?], why I didn’t 58:00think I was capable of going back to school myself and taking over that paper, but it did not occur to me. I was forty-seven years old -- good health. There wasn't any reason why I couldn't have gone back to school and learned some management and gone over there and managed that paper. No reason, no reason. In addition, I had had considerable experience in supervising people. I had been supervising people for twelve years, the whole time I had been at Family and Children's. I've supervised students. I've supervised graduate students. I've supervised families. I'd been in middle management all those years. When he died, I was in middle management with the Board of Education, so I don't know why I didn't think I could do it, but it just did not occur to me that I could. And the other thing that's so puzzling is, that I didn't use the people who were available, and they didn't come forward to say, "Hey, let's talk it over. I 59:00think I can help" or "Have you thought of this?"

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: Now there were people who had been with the Defender off and on for years, like Cecil Black, like that lady who just hung up the phone. She was a bookkeeper for years. There were other people, Vince Matthews, who works at the Times, who I'm sure if I had said -- if I had called them together and said, "Look, this is my plight, now what should I do?" I know they would have helped me. Now I know it, but it did not occur to me to even turn to them and that's the weirdest thing, but that's kind of my pattern. I'm too independent at the wrong time. [Laughs] So further down as the years [went?] by and the corporation 60:00headed by Clarence Leslie, I sold my spot to him as the head of the board in January of this year.

JH: He was on the board, though, wasn't he?

VS: Yes. He'd been on the board.

JH: Before, I noticed in looking at the board records that…

VS: He’d been on the board for some time.

JH: He had been the advertising manager, and then he left for a while.

VS: Yes, that was a couple of years back.

JH: Yeah.

VS: Yes, he was there and then he wanted to kind of try his wings, and he had a firm in New York. Had some excellent clients, but his children were growing up. He felt like he better come home to see about his children.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: He has five kids. Four boys and a girl, so he came back to Louisville. He didn't come back to the paper when he returned to Louisville. He ran a furniture 61:00store and there's something else he did. I'm not sure what he was doing when he came back to the paper in '76, this was after Frank died, but he and my husband had an excellent relationship. An excellent relationship. Frank thought he was one of the most apt pupils he ever had. He really listened to whatever he tried to teach him.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: He was so funny that first year. Clarence made more money than Frank, it kind of shook him. [ Interviewer laughs] I don't think he thought that would ever happen! [Laughs]

JH: Would you discuss Mr. Stanley's role in the desegregation program here in Louisville?


VS: He was not so actively involved in the initial desegregation of public accommodations. You know, the marches and this kind of thing.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: He did not have that kind of personality that would tolerate confrontations with the police. If somebody swung at him, he would swing back, so he stayed out of it. He knew that. So Frank, Jr., was very active, and he served as a backup and he covered the marches pictorially. He was there making pictures and this kind of thing, getting people out of jail. But as for marching, he was never involved in that, nor was I. He did go to the march on Frankfort, but his efforts in the desegregation movement, a lot of it was behind closed doors, 63:00influencing other people. He was very active in Bert Combs’ campaign. He was the first person he had ever campaigned for.

JH: Had he known Mr. Combs before or did he know that Mr. Combs was interested in this, committed to desegregation? How did he become active?

VS: I think he just kind of got to know him and realized that he was interested in doing what he could to make Kentucky a better place for everybody.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: That proved to be true. Before Mr. Combs went into governorship, before he was elected, he and Frank agreed that if he was elected, there were certain things that he would do. One was to have fair employment practices in the state government. He was committed to establishing a civil rights commission, so Frank 64:00worked on those two things after his election.

JH: Uh-huh.

VS: He researched material for the fair employment practices law, which was finally developed by...

JH: Was he appointed to a commission by the governor to do this?

VS: He did a lot of that research on his own.

JH: On his own, all right.

VS: Then worked with some people in Frankfort for the final drafting of the law. Then later, Governor Combs gave him service contracts to try to increase participation of blacks in state government, so we traveled the state more than once, talking to groups about how to qualify for state jobs, how to take examinations, explained where their examinations were going to be, and explaining what certain jobs required. We took the personnel book and discuss 65:00those kinds of things, so they'd understand it better. Then in addition, he was very interested in the civil rights commission. So, on our vacation, going to California, we were driving, we stopped in St. Louis, talked with the legislators there. I had a friend who was in the legislature. She was my classmate. She collected all the blacks who were in the reserve state legislature and we met with them. Then we met with all the blacks in the Kansas state legislature to find out what it was that they had done to establish their civil rights commission.

JH: Oh, I see.

VS: And we got all the information that they had. They could give us board rulings, plus their laws and whatnot. Then when we got back from California, he pulled together what became the basis of our civil rights commission here, then 66:00he served on that commission for six years, and resigned because of pressures of work, and so on. And I think he was beginning to feel tired. He never said that, but. He resigned from that.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: But those are the kinds of things that he did. As soon as the state parks were desegregated, we tested out whether or not they really were. So we tried it all over the state, going to Pioneer Ridge, and then all kinds of places, taking friends with us to see what the accommodations were like.

JH: Oh, uh-huh.

VS: Then when they began to hire especially young black college students in these state parks, we visited these kids, and that was always enjoyable. We kept 67:00in touch with some of them for a couple of years. It was kind of nice to get to know them.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: So a lot of things that he did were never publicized.

JH: Publicized. The paper took editorial stands, though, didn’t it, in his columns?

VS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. [Pause.] He had, I suppose in the earlier years when some of the things that were going on, he was active in the NAACP. He was a life member, that kind of thing. But as being an organization kind of person, all the years we were married, he simply didn't have what it took to do that and then deal with the paper.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-hum. Well, he served in the '40s, '46 and '48, on commissions, 68:00that sent him overseas to write reports to investigate conditions in the Army overseas. How did he come to be picked for those? Was it because of someone he knew?

VS: I'm not sure how he was selected personally. That was a State Department commission.

JH: Yes. The first one was the War Department, I believe.

VS: Right. Uh-huh.

JH: Then the second was…

VS: Okay. I think it was because the black publishers, when Harry Truman went into the White House, established contact with him, and they began to meet with him.

JH: With Harry Truman?

VS: Uh-huh.

JH: Oh!

VS: Now they've never been able to meet with Roosevelt.

JH: Well, had the black publishers started before the war?

VS: They started in the 40s. It was '42, something like that.

JH: Oh, alright.

VS: And they liked Mr. Truman and I guess that kind of got across to him. I 69:00don't know whether he said, when the War Department wanted to send a group over, whether he selected the group that went or how they actually were selected. I don't know who was in the White House who influenced Truman to do this. Usually, that's the way things happened. When he went to Africa to teach the African journalists, we know how he got that.

JH: Oh.

VS: Now that came through Louis Martin. He was a very close friend, who was an advisor to President Johnson.

JH: Now this is Louis Martin, the journalist?

VS: Yeah, he's a journalist and he's with the Detroit...what's the name of that paper in Detroit?


JH: The Free Press?

VS: It’s a black paper…

JH: Was he the one who was here… no, that was Fletcher Martin.

VS: Fletcher Martin.

JH: Oh, all right. Is he a relative?

VS: No, they're not related.

JH: Oh, okay.

VS: But when Frank got to Ethiopia, guess who was there? Fletcher. [Laughs]

JH: [Laughs] What was he doing there?

VS: He was with the USAI and he stayed with them until he retired. He's living off some little island off of France or somewhere over there.

JH: He was a war correspondent, is that right?

VS: Yeah.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: But, back to these two assignments that Frank went on. I'm just not really sure how he was appointed. I don't know that he knew exactly.

JH: Perhaps as a representative with the Publishers Association? Was he president at the -- he was one of the first presidents.

VS: I don't think he was president at the time, but I'm not really sure. On one 71:00of those trips, he was the, I forgot what they call them, but he was sort of the leader.

JH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

VS: So, I don't know who decided that, but the group didn't. That came from the sponsor or the agency.

JH: Did you go with him when he went to Africa?

VS: No. They wouldn't let me go. [Laughs] They don't let the families of you know, these…

JH: You said when he went, he left the boys in charge of the paper at that time, and I thought, perhaps, you had gone, also.

VS: No. I stayed home and held the whole business together.

JH: [Laughs] I didn't see any pictures of you, but a lot of them were publicity shots and things like that.

VS: We held things together. Every day at dinner, we'd talk over what had happened during the day and decide on what was best to do the next day. Things 72:00worked real well [?] that's…

JH: Did Mr. Stanley, besides Bert Combs' administration, did he involve himself in either local or state politics?

VS: Yeah, he was a Democrat. A lifelong Democrat, and he went to the Democratic Convention as a representative of Kentucky.

JH: Oh, when was that?

VS: Well now, let me see. Does '64 ring a bell? Because that was one of the conventions. He and Mr. Smith, I can't think of his first name, went to the convention together.

JH: Was he like a precinct man or did he hold an office in the party?


VS: No. I don't think he ever held an office, and I don't really know how he got to be a delegate but he did.

JH: I know in Indiana you put your name on the ballot to be a delegate. I'm not as familiar with Kentucky politics.

VS: I know he went to two Democratic conventions. He went to the one in Los Angeles, which I guess that was in 196- -- before we married – and I believe in '64.

JH: And then you said there were pictures of -- twice going to the Johnson White House? Did you go both times?

VS: Yeah.

JH: Was it in connection with the National Publishers?

VS: No, those were state dinners.


JH: Oh!

VS: One was for either the Prime Minister or the President of Malaysia, and I've forgotten who the other person was they were honoring that we got invited.

JH: So you had to fly down to Washington?

VS: Yeah, and those invitations came as a result of Louis Martin putting our name on the guest list.

JH: Oh, he was a lifelong friend?

VS: Yeah. I don't know if I would say lifelong, but he and Frank met because they were publishers, somewhere in the '40s, and they've been friends ever since. [Pause, tape shuts off and then resumes.]

JH: Thank you Mrs. Stanley. I hope we can talk again.

VS: Of course.

JH: Thank you.

VS: Anytime.