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KATHY BEAN: In fact, let me give you to look at. Okay. Just let me get the preliminary information on the record. This is Kathy Bean interviewing Judge Olga Peers at 1400 Willow. It's Thursday, February 4th, around 9:00, and I'm just gonna ask some questions about Judge Peers' life as a woman in the law, which was un -- fairly unusual. It still is a little bit maybe, but not a whole lot. [Laughs] Let's see. I thought I'd start with just some general information on your family background. OLGA PEERS: All right. KB:Parents? Siblings? Were you first generation college or was that a tradition in your family? OP:I was first 1:00generation in a lot of things. My mother and father were both born in France. They came to this country, immigrated as teenagers, but separately. Neither one of them had had much education. I'd say no education beyond probably the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. Somewhere in the elementary range. Of course, they both came here not knowing any English. They were married in 1916. They had gone to work, both of them, in the textiles factories in Lawrence, Massachusetts, as teenagers. Neither one of them got any American education whatsoever. Although I think my mother was probably fifteen and my dad was probably fourteen when he came to this country. I think they had a lot of pioneer spirit in them. They both crossed the ocean on ships alone because they came from fairly large families and children were sent . . . . In each case, a parent came first and set up a home here. And then children were sent by the other parent still living 2:00in France as money was available. So they both crossed the ocean alone. And of course, back in those days, an ocean voyage was several days. Probably a week or more and youngsters, not able to speak the language, I think that showed a lot of courage. I'm an only child. KB:Go ahead. I just wanted to double check this [Interruption - Kathy indicating she was checking tape recorder.] Okay. I'm sort of compulsive. OP: I'm an only child. But both my mother and father were very interested in my being educated as far as I could possibly go. I wanted to be a teacher and they thought that was wonderful. That's because when I started school at age five, I couldn't speak English, either. I had always spoken French in the home and that was my only language. Of course, kids learn quickly and in just a matter of a few weeks, I was doing fine in English. Of course, I admire the teacher I had in the first grade. She was sort of my ideal and that's why I thought I wanted to become a teacher. I said early on, I wanted to become a teacher. I went through high school in Lawrence. I went to a state college at 3:00Salem, Massachusetts, which at that time, primarily had education-type courses. It was not liberalized as it is now, and then I got a job teaching, up in the wilds of Maine, in an ungraded school. I had everything from the kindergarten to the eighth grade, except four, but I only had thirteen kids. And it -- it was interesting. The second year, I thought I did a little better. I got to a school that only had, uh had four grades in a classroom in New Hampshire. And the third year that I taught, I was in East Brockton, Massachusetts. I got what I thought I was wanting. I had a junior high/high school situation. I taught math and science courses, which is what -- where my interest was. Unfortunately, I still 4:00wasn't satisfied with teaching. It just didn't do anything for me. KB:Now, about how old were you? OP:Oh, I started teaching when I was twenty-one. I was uh, three years later, I was twenty-four. KB:Okay. OP:World War II came along, so I joined the Navy. I always said I ran away from teaching to join the Navy. And I was stationed in Washington, D.C., and out on the West Coast. And that's where I met my husband, who was a man from Louisville, Kentucky, who had just graduated from law school, had never practiced, had joined the Navy because it was the thing to do. You either joined a service or you were drafted, and he thought he'd prefer the Navy. So after the war . . . . KB:Now, what, what did you do in the service? OP:I was a person -- first of all in Washington, I was with the Bureau of Ships. I was an officer out on the West Coast. I was liaison with the 5:00shipyards between Washington and the shipyards on the West Coast. So I was more or less a personnel officer at that time. And I enjoyed the service. I was in it for three years. After the war, we came back here. I had two children. My baby was only two months old and I decided to go to law school. KB:Now, what made you decide to go to law school? OP:Well, my husband was a lawyer. He opened his office when we came back here and I was the go-fer. You know, in a situation where we couldn't afford a lot of help and I had absolutely no secretarial skills. I couldn't type except, you know, hunt and peck, but uh, I liked the work. I was interested, so I went to law school, the University of Louisville and I started in the fall -- spring semester, which is something that's not done any more. You either start in the summer or you start in the fall. You don't 6:00start like I did. It was rather interesting because I found that as a senior, I was taking the required freshman courses, which I hadn't gotten because I hadn't been there in the fall. [Laughs] KB:But then, you could just. . . . OP:But then I did. And we didn't have anything like LSATs or anything else that we had to pass. All that was required was that we have an undergraduate degree, which I did have. So I went to law school, I uh, of course, I guess I was in a hurry to get through. I went summers and winters and what have you and I graduated in May of 1951. I had started in February of '49. KB:Uh-humm. Let me ask you a couple of questions. Do you remember what you did about applying to law school? Who you talked to? OP:Yes. I went in and I talked to the dean, who was Ab Russell at that time. I was very pregnant when I went to talk to him, because I went to talk to him in the fall. He was embarrassed. Those -- this was a different time from today. The man couldn't look me in the face! I know I just embarrassed him 7:00to death. I assured him the baby would be born before I started school, and he accepted me. So I started in February. KB:Now, did -- did -- did he, like, question the fact why would you want to go to law school? Was that much of a discussion? OP:No. I don't -- I don't really remember that. He did say that there were very few women in law school and that I might find that that was a handicap, and it wasn't. Although, of course, I did find that, of course, all of my instructors were male. No women professors at that time in law school. I found that when we had -- of course, the case method, which is the way law school is taught, when there were cases that involved rape, I always got to brief them. I mean, there sort of, you know, this sort of foregone conclusion . . . . I guess it was trying to embarrass me or something. I don't know, but I'm pretty tough-skinned. I don't have too many problems along those lines. So, 8:00after I graduated from law school, I went in -- into practice with my husband. We had our office in South Louisville. I didn't do too much court work. I did all the probate work. That was the court I went to. Once in a while, I would go and handle something in a magistrate's court, but my husband did most of the trial work. When he died, we had cases pending, of course. KB:Now, how long was that after you were out of law school? OP:Oh, let's see. He died in 1970. I graduated in 1951, so that's -- it's twenty years. KB:Uh-hummm. OP:And uh, I can remember the day of the funeral. I had six children by this time. I have good health. That has been one of my great, you know, benefits. And working in an office with my husband, not downtown or in a public, more public area, I always 9:00worked during all of my pregnancies. Usually up to the day I delivered and I would be back in the office within a week or ten days. It was -- it just was no big deal. KB:Now what did you do about child care? OP:Well, I was very lucky along those lines. I had a woman who stayed in the home during the day. She didn't stay overnight, but she was here every day and during the whole time that I needed child care, I only had two women. They both stayed with me a long time. One of them stayed with me until she died and the other one stayed with me until the children were old enough that they didn't need someone additional. The oldest -- I have fourteen -- That's fourteen years between my oldest child and my youngest child. As the oldest ones came along, they were able to kinda look 10:00out for the little ones, particularly when everybody was in school. And there was just a matter of an hour or two before one of the parents would be home, so I didn't have any problems with that. I always told the people who worked for me that the children were what I was hiring them for and if they didn't get any housework done, that didn't matter. They didn't do -- have to do any cooking or anything like that. We did that when we came home. After my husband died, I told my kids that our lifestyle might change. My husband was a chauvinist. He -- he figured that the only reason I got any business or did any work was because he was there. That people wouldn't come to an office where there was only a woman lawyer, and I believed him. So I told the kids, well, you know, we might have to make some adjustments. But you know, I didn't lose any clients. Nobody stopped coming. In fact, my business kept progressively growing, just like it would have 11:00if it had been -- if he had been there. It had been a normal progression of lawyers as they get along in years. Usually get more business. KB:Uh-hummm. OP:In 1975 a friend of mine, a woman lawyer, called and said she understood there was a vacancy in the Police Court for a trial commissioner, who is a judge and wondered if I would be interested. I thought about it maybe all of ten minutes and I thought I might be interested so I called Judge Shobe, whom I didn't know, who was the elected Police Court Judge, and told him I was interested. I told him I understood there was a position available. I said, "Now, Judge Shobe, I have a couple of strikes against me." He said, "What's that?" I said, "I've done very little criminal work. It's been mostly civil." He 12:00said, "Can you learn?" I said, "Yes." I said, "I'm also registered as a Republican and I know you're a Democrat." He says, "Can you change that?" I said, "Yes." [Laughs] And that's kind of interesting, too because my family, my mother and father, were Democrats, lifelong Roosevelt Democrats. And uh, I was a Democrat until after I married. My husband was a Republican. And uh, for awhile, we -- we kinda canceled each other's vote out. Then he decided -- he thought he might want to run for the Board of Alderman. I thought it would kinda look bad if his wife was not registered with the party he was seeking in office, so I changed my registration. And I just hadn't changed it back. I mean, I just go in and vote for who I want to vote for regardless of party, anyway. I still do, but uh, I got appointed to the position in the Police Court. KB:Now, were there other women -- OP:No. I was the first for that, too. I've broken a few barriers as I've gone along. I was the first woman in the local Police Court ever. Police 13:00Court went out of existence when the judicial article was passed. And the District Court became the lower court. When that became a fact, I filed as a candidate and I was elected. So I went in with the first group of district judges. There were two women statewide, myself and Ellen Ewing, who is also here in Jefferson County. In 1980 . . . oh, first of all, I guess, in 1979 I ran for District -- Circuit Court. I challenged the appointee, who was Larry Higgins. I got beat, but Larry and I became very good friends and the following year, I was 14:00appointed Circuit Judge by Governor Brown [John Y. Brown, Jr.]. And again, I was the first in the state of Kentucky. I was the only woman judge in the state of Kentucky for several years. Now, fortunately, there are more. I'm very pleased with that. And uh, there were only two women in my law school class, myself and Irene Pigman Long. Now I understand the classes are almost split 50/50, which I think is wonderful. I'm very, very pleased that, that progress has been made along those lines and I don't think there's a lot of discrimination. I think there's some. I kinda feel about discrimination sometimes as there because it's looked for. That if it's -- if you don't pay too much attention to it, it really isn't there. And sometimes you have people kinda testing the waters. I can 15:00remember when I was first on the Police Court bench. And police officers would come in to testify. Some of them would not use any vulgarity whatsoever. Any four letter words, they might use initials, but they wouldn't do anything else. Others would mouth every single foul word they could think of and I think part of it was to shock me, to see what my reaction would be. Again, if you ignore that kind of stuff, it goes away. I was on the Circuit Court bench until 1990. Two days ago was the third anniversary of my retirement. I liked the work. I loved it, but uh, Circuit Court is a little much for anybody who wants to tackle that job. It's not so much the matter of money. It's the matter that you have too many cases, you don't have enough help. I was on the executive committee of 16:00the Circuit Judges Association. As such, I was invited by the Chief Justice to budget planning sessions and things of that type. Thanksgiving week of 1989, we went to one of the state parks and he talked about the proposed budget that was gonna be submitted to the legislature in January. And I found that in Fayette County where there are six circuit judges, each judge was going to have his own law-trained clerk and each judge was going to have a domestic relations commissioner to handle all the domestic cases. In Jefferson County, sixteen 17:00judges were gonna share a pool of five law clerks and we had the equivalent of three domestic relations commissioners. We had two full-time and two part-time. KB:Why was that? OP:Well, that's what I said. It would seem like one more situation where Jefferson County was getting the short end of the deal. The other counties, particularly Fayette County, was being favored and I came back and I was mad! I was absolutely furious! And I said, "They can take this job and stick it." So I waited a couple of weeks to make sure that's what I wanted to do and I sent in my resignation, effective the Groundhog Day, 2nd of February. Then, of course, after I had done it, I thought, "What have I done? What am I gonna do with myself?" I can't come home and look at soap operas. That isn't me. 18:00And a nice thing happened. The day that I really quit, I got a call from Tom Lyons at the University of Louisville, and he invited me to lunch. So we went to lunch and he proposed that I become the hearing officer for the grievance committees and that was wonderful. I enjoyed that. And uh, I'd still be doing it if I hadn't become a trustee. KB:I know you're on the Board. OP:Yes. So, uh, last summer when the governor was appointing new trustee members -- Again, that was something I hadn't applied for 'cause I thought at my age it was beyond me, although I would have loved to been a trustee. I think a lot of people knew I wanted to be a trustee. I'm actually the alumni representative on the Board. So I got a call from Dan Hall up in Maine and he said, "Would I resign being the hearing officer to be a trustee?" And I said, "In a heartbeat." So that's where 19:00I am. Here I am right now, and enjoying what I'm doing. I really am. KB:The one thing that I had heard about you -- I'm not from Louisville -- was that you were a very big U of L fan. OP:Oh, Lord, yes! [Laughing] Absolutely. I'm wearing a blue blouse today and that -- it almost goes against the grain. I put it on this morning and I thought, "I really shouldn't wear this." [Laughs] Yes, I'm a big U of L fan. U of L athletics has filled a big void in my life. After my husband died . . . . Well, with six children, we didn't have a great social life meaning -- because we both worked and we both felt that what free time we had, we should have with the children. So I didn't have a lot of adult friends, didn't to go to a lot of adult entertainment. It was things we could do with the kids. And the kids were growing up. You know, my youngest one was ten years old when my husband died. My oldest one had already graduated from college. So I started 20:00going to athletic events. I had always listened to them on radio. I'm a big sports fan from way back. You know, I go back to the Boston Red Sox when I was living in Massachusetts. That's still my baseball team. I made a lot of friends of people who, like me, liked athletics. Some of the kids went with me, and sometimes I went alone. And it just sort of mushroomed. You know, it was great. I loved it. I met such wonderful people and it's not just athletics at U of L anymore. It's whatever's, whatever's going on at the university. KB:Uh-humm. Uh-humm. Well, I'm a big basketball fan. I grew up in Indiana, so it was easy to root for Louisville over Kentucky, that's for sure! [Laughing] OP:That was no problem, huh? [Laughs] You might have a problem when we play Indiana. KB:Yeah, that's a little problem, but I'm not real fond of Bobby Knight, so it's not too 21:00tough! OP:Well, I've had a lot of people who've said that. You know, that they like the school. I have a daughter who is working on her Ph.D. at Bloomington right now, and she says the same thing. She says, you know, Bobby Knight is -- he's a strange person. [Laughs] KB:Well, let me ask you, if I can, a few more questions, real specifically, about a couple of areas. One is law school. Did you have any doubts about your ability to do -- do well in law school? OP:No. No. KB:It didn't cross your mind? OP:No. KB:Uh-hummm. And once you got. . . . OP:I guess, I guess that's vanity. I've always thought that if I wanted to do something, I could do it. Just a matter of working at it. KB:And when you got there, nothing changed your mind about that? OP:No. No. KB:Uh-humm. Do you remember walking into your first class? Do you have any particular memories of that? OP:No. Not particularly, no. I can't remember if there were any women when I first started. I know Irene came like, maybe the -- the fall after I had 22:00started that winter before. And about that time -- well, there were several women that came through at different times, but, you know, I can't remember anybody else, nobody else graduated with me, although I have since learned that there were some women in the night division that graduated my same class as I did. But we didn't know we were the same class, you know, until later on. The men didn't have a lot to do with me, but they didn't particularly ignore me, either. It was just, you know . . . and, and, of course, I had family responsibilities. I worked in my husband's office part-time. So I would -- all our classes were in the morning at that time. We got through at noon time. That's because in those days, a lot of law school students had to work to get themselves through school. And uh, I'd go in and start my classes at 8 o'clock 23:00in the morning -- I always tried to get early classes -- noon time I would be done and I would hightail it out of there. I wouldn't eat lunch there. I mean, you know, I would be going back to the office or home, something like that. So there probably wasn't too many opportunities for a social exchange. And that was partly my fault as much as anybody else's. KB:When did you study? [Laughs] With -- with children and practice? OP:Some, well, odd hours. Sometimes in the afternoon, if we weren't busy in the office. Sometimes at night. Sometimes I'd get up early in the morning. I'm a great one for doing that. I can get up at 3:30 or 4 o'clock in the morning and put in two or three hours of study. Even today, if I have something to do, like my income tax, I get up early in the morning before the telephone's going to start ringing and things like that and I get things done. KB:Uh-humm. Uh-hummm. OP:They used to hate me downtown at the 24:00Hall of Justice because I wanted to start court at 8:00 in the morning. KB:Oh, that's heresy, isn't it! [Laughs] OP:I finally compromised to 8:30, but uh, you know, I like getting up in the morning. Well for years and years and years, because of family and all, I -- the alarm clock would get up, would ring and I would be down the basement steps before I really had my eyes open. It was automatic. Out of bed, down the basement, put a load of laundry in, back up to the kitchen, start something for dinner, stick it in the oven with a timer on it and then start thinking about getting washed and dressed. KB:Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Did you -- do you remember any of your teachers particularly? OP:Yes. Of course Jim Merritt was one of my teachers. I loved him. I loved Athel Taylor, who died a couple of years ago and who became a judge too. He was a friend for a long time. 25:00Athel had gone to school when my husband was at law school. They had been classmates. He was my instructor and, like I said, he became my friend. Of course, I also remember Professor Doby, and I can't remember his first name. We all told funny stories about Doby. KB:I think I've heard of him. OP:He went -- one of the stories goes that he went to France one time. He flew into Orly Airport and it was raining and he thought this was disgusting, so he took the next plane home. Never left the airport! [Laughs] So he was -- and I got a "C" from him the first course I took from him. Then he was one of the professors that I took a freshman course from when I was a senior. And I got an "A" then. I don't think I did anything different. I probably did less. (Laughs) He'd just gotten used to me being around. KB:Uh-hummm. Now were the classes taught by 26:00Socratic method almost entirely? OP:Yes. Yes. Yes. We also had some of our classes in the basement. Of course, the law school at that time was just a center building of what is there now. We had classes down in the basement and the heat pipes dripped on us. KB:How formal was it? Did students stand when they recited? OP:No. No. No. No. We sat and recited. But, in some classes you knew when you're gonna be called on 'cause it was strictly alphabetical. In other classes, it was haphazard and you didn't know what you would be called on to -- to recite. KB:It sounds like it still is today. How about -- and I guess I might know the answer to this already -- extracurricular activities? Were you involved in any of those? OP:No. None. None. KB:And then, I guess, the next year, I sort of have here . . . . Did judges treat you differently than uh, they did men lawyers? With you, it's a little bit the other way around since you were a 27:00judge, so I thought well, both areas. OP:When I was practicing, I don't think they did. I can remember McCauley Smith one time. I was representing a, a woman in a divorce situation. He was an equity judge because, at that time, the courts were divided strictly according to equity, civil, criminal. And uh, I can't remember who the opposing lawyer is, but we're sitting around a table. It wasn't a formal court hearing. It was just a hearing with the judge. And uh, the other lawyer, who is a man, said something about, "That's a lie." And Judge Smith came straight out and said, "Don't you accuse Olga Peers of lying," and I thought, "Bless you!" [Laughing] You know, it was just one of those things and the lawyer -- he wasn't being disrespectful. He was just that he was into his case, and he 28:00got excited and he thought he heard something that wasn't true, and he said it wasn't true. (Laughing) But Judge Smith defended me. So uh, so you got a little of that. You got a little of the protection. You get a little bit of being talked down to, but not a lot. Like I said, a lot of those things go away if you -- you ignore them. I'll tell you, after I got to be a judge, one of the things I did not ignore. John Brown, Sr., and, of course, it was his son who had appointed me judge, had a case in my division. And uh, he would call me "honey." He would say something and he'd say, "honey." I called him to the bench and I'd say, "Mr. Brown, you can't call me honey." And a few minutes would go by and he'd do it again. And I called him to the bench and I said, "Mr. Brown, if you do it again, I'm gonna have to find you in contempt." He said, "I have always 29:00called people, 'honey.'" He says, "I call my cleaning lady 'honey.'" I call my sisters 'honey.'" I just call everybody 'honey.'" I said, "You're not gonna call me 'honey,' Mr. Brown." Of course, he was elderly at the time and he was quite indignant. He told me how many years he had been practicing, which I know was fifty or sixty and he said he had never been put to be held in contempt by a judge. I said, "Mr. Brown, I'm going to hold you in contempt, if you do it one more time." He didn't do it any more. [Laughs] KB:Those are hard habits to break, too! [Laughs] OP:Yes, they are. Yes, they are. [Laughing] I did hear that Mr. Brown told some of his colleagues that his son had made a mistake when he appointed me. So, uh -- KB:After -- after that? OP:After that, after that. So, 30:00but I ran for election twice. The first time, I had three or four opponents, all men, and I beat them. And the second time that I ran, I had no opponents, which I thought was also flattering, that they thought I was doing a good enough job and probably popular enough that I would not be, that I wasn't anybody to challenge. KB:Did you enjoy that part of it? The political aspect? OP:Not really. Running for office is difficult. You have to go a lot of places. It's hard work, physically. It's sometimes demeaning because you go places and you talk to people that you would not normally associate with if you didn't -- if you weren't trying to seek votes. I got so familiar with every bar in town because that's where they'd be holding political rallies and that's where I would be. And on the other hand, you meet some very nice people. I've met some 31:00people when I was running for office that I still think a whole lot of and communicate with and see occasionally, which, which is nice. KB:Uh-hummm. Now, when you were first appointed, even in Police Court and then, you know, as you sort of moved into District Court, Circuit Court, was the community ready for a woman then? Was there still some party resistance or bureaucratic resistance? OP:Well, the first time that I ran for judge of District Court, there was a slate being put together by some of the lawyers called Citizens for Good Judges or something like that. And I remember that some of the people at the -- when I said I wanted to be on the slate, some of the people in that group didn't think I was a viable candidate, and uh -- KB:Because, because they didn't think a woman . . . . OP:Right. KB:Could get elected? OP:I guess so. And uh, I persisted and they finally put me on the slate. And I think I got either the second or the 32:00third highest vote count. So from that point on, I really didn't have any problems among those lines. And it was at a time where everyone was trying to think that women hadn't been given a fair break, had -- had been given a raw deal and they should go the other way. So I guess the times were right for a woman to run, too. KB:Uh-humm. Uh-humm. What about lawyers coming into your courtroom? Did they seem a little nervous at the beginning 'til they got used to a woman? OP:No, no, I don't think so. KB:Okay. OP:I know once or twice, there was a situation where there would be women on both sides of the case in front of me, and a woman judge, and I would comment and say to them, "Isn't this nice." 33:00[Laughs] So uh, and oh, and, you know, I still go to a lot of legal type organizations and there's no difference made between men and women now, I think, as far as the profession is concerned. And I certainly don't think there's any reluctance to deal with a woman, as far as the public is concerned. That was my fear when my husband died, that my practice would really fall and it didn't. And this was back in 1970, which was probably a little before the conscious-raising went on. So I think things have gotten much, much better along those lines. I'm hopeful one of these days that blacks can say the same thing. KB:And that's actually another question I wanted to ask you. Were there blacks in law school when -- any blacks in law school then? OP:Yes. Law school was integrated. The whole university was integrated while I was in law school. KB:I was thinking that was around 1950? OP:Yes. I think right around 1950 and several blacks came 34:00in, and I can't remember now, any black graduating when I did, but there were blacks in the law school. KB:And were the -- and I ask this because I've heard a couple of people say that they thought the classes were like, like, divided in terms of seating. Do you remember any of that? OP:Oh, no. No. No. KB:Well, no one has been able to confirm that, so that's one of the reasons I asked. OP:No. Oh, no. They were integrated. Truly integrated. Yes. KB:Okay, 'cause no one has been able to confirm that, but a couple of people said "Well, I think I heard that." So, good. I'm glad of that. OP:Well, there were some professors who stopped working at that time. Athel Taylor was one. And, of course, the story was he wasn't gonna be in a school where there were blacks going to be admitted, but I don't believe that. I think Athel was at the point where he wanted to go into private practice. And he couldn't. He had a private practice while he was 35:00an instructor at the law school, but that was kinda frowned upon. I think he was given an option of either teach full-time or practice, he chose to practice. KB:Uh-hummm. Uh-hummm. OP:That's about the time he got married, so he probably needed the extra money. KB:Yeah, that could be. That could be. Uhmmm, tell me a little bit -- Let me make sure we're doing okay here. I'm real interested in your earlier -- earlier years and your parents. What did your parents do? Employment? OP:My father was a -- what was called a loom fixer, which is a mechanic in the textile mills. In other words, he kept the weaving mills, weaving looms in order. My mother was a weaver. And they always worked. KB:So you had that role model? OP:Oh, yes. My mother had worked from . . . ever since, you know, I was born. Worked before I was born. My grandmother lived with us the first five years of my life. After that, I went to a great-aunt, who was my 36:00babysitter. My mother and father would take me to her house on their way to work in the morning and pick me up on their way home at night. Then, by the time I was about nine years old, I was still going to my great-aunt's for lunch because our school day was broken up. We had a morning session, a lunch break, and then an afternoon session, even in elementary school. I would still be going there for lunch, but other than that I was on my own. I got up in the morning, got myself to school and came home at night before my mother and dad got there and had a few chores to do. I can remember I used to have to peel potatoes, and the skins [Indicating point] were about this thick. They went faster that way! [Laughing] Of course you wasted a lot of potato, but. . . . KB:I sort of remember that, too, yeah. OP:Of course, now I do better. I cook them with their skins on. (Laughs) So uh, my mother and dad wanted me to go to school. They were ab -- And, of course, I had to help financially. I worked summers from the time I graduated from high school. I worked like Christmas time in some of the 37:00stores, even when I was in high school. I've, you know, always tried to work. Seems like I've always done two things, work and gone to school, or worked and had a family. Or -- I never have done just one thing at a time. Right now, now that I'm retired, it's amazing, the amount of time I have, but I'm keeping fairly busy. Lots of people say, "Can you do this?", and I'll always say yes. KB:Uh-humm. It's hard to say no, when you've been saying yes all your life. Did your parents live to see you be a lawyer? And how -- OP:Yes. My mother and father both fortunately lived to be in their mid-eighties. My mother -- of course they lived in Massachusetts. My mother got, I guess she got Alzheimer's. She got so she was hard to control. My dad was at the point where he couldn't, so the last couple of years that they lived, I brought them here to Kentucky with me. I was already a widow, and they both saw me on the Police Court bench. They both saw me elected to the District Court. My mother died in December of 38:00'78. Of course I don't know how much of this she realized. By that time, she really was not . . . . There'd be times when she wouldn't recognize me. KB:Uh-humm. Uh-hummm. OP:My dad lived about six months longer than she did, so he knew I was a judge. He was in pretty good shape, he drove his car. I had to put my mother in a nursing home the last year that she lived. Because she got so you really couldn't manage her. My dad would get up in the morning, he would get himself washed and dressed. He would drive his car to the nursing home and visit her every day. After she died, he just didn't have any purpose in life and he died, too, within six months. KB:Uh-humm. I mean, he was more aware, he was aware? Were they both terribly proud of you? OP:Oh, yes! Yes! Yes! KB:Yeah. I would think so. I would think so. Well, is there anything you'd do differently? 39:00OP:No. No. I'm happy that I had two careers. You might say I'm happy that I taught school and realized that that was not something that I was gonna get any satisfaction out of and that I should do something different. I think it's a crime to -- to stay in a position, just because you're afraid to make a change. Of course I love the law. After I had gone to law school and after I had practiced, I knew this was my niche. This was where I wanted to be. I'm happy for the family. It's great. I have six wonderful kids. Four of them live within a mile of this place right here, within walking distance. The fifth one lives in New Albany, which is not very far. The one that's farthest away is the girl that is in Bloomington, and I still see her frequently. And we talk on the phone just about every week, so, you know, that's wonderful. KB:Now did any of them become lawyers? OP:Not a one! [Laughs] I figure with two lawyers in the house, and 40:00listening to all this kinda talk, none, none of them were interested. But they're all good kids. None of them has gotten into any serious trouble. KB:That's quite a record, I think, out of six children. OP:Yes. I don't think I have any problems with any of them with drugs, and that's something else in this day and age that you know, you have to be thankful for. I think they're great. KB:Now what about grandchildren. Do you have grandchildren? OP:I have six grandchildren. The oldest is seventeen. She's gonna graduate from high school this year. She'll be eighteen in July. Then my oldest grand -- I have six girls and six boys. I did better on grandchildren than. . . . You know, I have five girls and one boy of my own children, so I did better on the grandkids. They're evenly divided. The youngest one is gonna be three the eighth this month, and we're planning a little birthday party for him on Sunday. KB:I have a four-year old, so I know that, that, that general age. Uh, a couple of things. Let me -- 41:00Could you tell me the names of your children? OP:Sure. KB:And, and your husband's name. OP:My husband's name was Milburn. My children are Lauren, who is named for my father who is Laurent, which is a French spelling for Lawrence. KB:And now, what were your parents' last names? OP:It was Saff. My father was Saff. My mother's maiden name was Jans. Her name was Julienne. My second daughter is Michelle. Then I have Kara, then my only son is Milburn, Jr. Then I have a daughter, Lynn, and a daughter, Deanna. KB:Okay, great. Well, let me look through my questions here and give you a few minutes to think if there's anything else that you think, you know, would be interesting to tell. Let me see if I've got -- Do you remember one of the women --This was in the '40s, said 42:00that there was, well, I think she was -- there were only a couple of women in law school and she was in law school -- she said they didn't have a women's lounge. Do you remember that? OP:Sure. We had a women's lounge. You still have it in the law school. It's the women's restroom on the first floor of the main building. KB:That's the lounge? OP:That's the lounge. KB:Okay. OP:It's all right. We did better than the men. They had the classroom that was just off, let's see, I guess just off to the right of that. That's where the Coke machine was. Oh, that's something else that's interesting. The cola machines were in the men's area, which was a classroom, or what had been a classroom. If the women wanted a Coke, we would waylay some man in the hall, give him the money, and ask him to go in and get it for us. KB:[Laughing] That's a nice little thing to know! That's pretty cute! How about classes? Was it pretty much a set curriculum 43:00or was it mostly just the first-year set and after that you chose what you wanted to take? Do you remember that? OP:Well, seems like we had some electives, but there was, you know, a core of subjects that you had to take -- they were required for graduation. That's why I was taking some freshman courses when I was a senior, because they were required courses. KB:Uh-humm. OP:Other than that, I think we more or less selected what we wanted. KB:Uh-humm. Okay. Let me ask you a couple more questions, more about, I guess, your workday after you graduated. How would your typical workday go? I know there's not really a typical day for a lawyer, but. . . . OP:No. Well, I was gonna say it was my job to get up first in the morning to get the laundry going, to get the dinner going, get the kids up and fed and dressed, and take them to school. I always 44:00took them to school. And on my way to school or part of the school -- the round trip, I would pick up the woman who was going to be sitting with the younger ones. And then while I was gone, my husband would get himself up and get himself dressed and so forth, I'd come home and we had breakfast together. Came home at night. I took the lady home. I drove her home. Dinner had been started in the morning. The kids had some -- had chores when they came home from school. They had to put a salad together and things of that type. They had to set the table, so that by the time I got back from driving her -- my housekeeper home, I was ready to sit down and eat. We always ate as a family. We -- That was one of the things that we all kinda insisted on, that we sit around the table together. And after that the kids would have homework. I'd do reading or he would read. Or we'd watch a little television after we got a television and, like I said, it was quiet times. KB:Okay. [Interruption - Buzzer goes off on timer.] Okay. The 45:00tape's getting at an end. Let me flip it over, so we make sure we don't miss anything here.

"END OF TAPE 19, SIDE A" START OF TAPE 19, SIDE B KB:Testing, testing, testing. Okay. How about at the office? OP:Well, we had a secretary which we shared. Like I say, I didn't do too much work in the courtroom itself. I did a lot of research. I did handle all the probate matters that came through the office. I ran all the titles and, and would do real estate closings. Typical woman's work. 46:00But I was -- we talked. My husband and I talked. We talk about all of the cases together, so that after he died, I knew what was in the office. And I knew what the situations were and so forth and people were used to me being there. I did a lot of income taxes and that, again, was, was kinda my area because I've always been pretty good with figures. KB:Well, that was your teaching background, partly. OP:Yes. Right. Then after he died, I got a young lady out of law school as a law clerk to help me. KB:Now who was that? OP:Yes, Elaine Duncan. KB:Okay. OP:She came to work for me while she was still in school as a clerk. I had a secretary and a receptionist. After Elaine graduated, she became employed as a lawyer. Then, at that time when I started to think about running for District Judge, I made her a partner. When I went on the bench, Elaine took over the 47:00practice and she still has some of my same clients that I had back then. KB:And that your husband had had, right? OP:Right. Yes. KB:That says something about those clients, I guess. OP:Yes. Yes. Well, you know. It was a South Louisville practice. It was a neighborhood practice. I never had an office downtown. KB:Uh-humm. OP:Uh, and you get to know the people that you work with, and they come back for a lot of things. Someone you do their taxes for them. Eventually, you do a will for them. You close a real estate deal for them, and if you get into a situation where they have a civil matter or they have a criminal matter, they come back to you. They're used to you, you're used to them. KB:Uh-humm. I think it's real impressive. I mean, it's almost as if no one missed, you know, a beat in terms of coming to the office after, after your husband died. OP:I think that was wonderful, and I was sure I was gonna lose half my clientele. I could remember one client who had a business. And I had worked his books and I had done his taxes. And I had done lots of things for him. I had made -- had done 48:00some collections for him, and so forth, and he says, "You're not gonna quit, are you?" He says, "We need you!" So that sort of thing was very flattering and I didn't quit. I couldn't afford to. KB:Now, it -- this might be too nosy, so feel free not to answer it. Was collecting from clients any harder after your husband passed away? OP:No. No. KB:Oh, okay. OP:No. None whatsoever. KB:Uh-huh. Uh-huh. OP:So. I had one woman who had a debt. Actually, her husband had a debt but she felt like she should pay it. She was paying me at a rate of $2 a week. And she owed me like $200, so it took a long time, and -- but she was faithful. She 49:00never missed. KB:That's impressive. OP:Yes, it is. KB:That's quite a comment, I'd say. You still find that. It's not true to say you don't find it. OP:Yeah. Yeah. KB:Sometimes you kinda think it's a long way between -- . KB:There are still people in this world who are absolutely honest, are absolutely trustworthy, and I think that's wonderful. Of course, when I was practicing law, I always thought that lawyers were always trustworthy. I thought if two lawyers talked and agreed on something, it didn't have to be in writing. They both agreed to it, and they stuck to it. I don't think that's true now. I think there are too many lawyers and if you don't get it all written down, and all the "T's" crossed and the "I's" dotted, you may not have a deal. KB:Uh-humm. I think that's pretty true. When -- one thing -- This is more of a general question. As women in the profession increased, did, did you notice that? Was that something that was real conscious? You know, observation on your part? OP:Oh, yes. When I 50:00first started practicing, there were other women practicing, but we didn't know each other. When the Women Lawyers Association was formed -- I guess it's Jefferson County Women Lawyers Association. . . . KB:When was that? OP:Oh, Lordy! That was a long time ago. That was, that was somewhere in the '50s. There were only twelve or thirteen of us and we got together. And we used to meet once a month and have lunch. It was more a social gathering than anything else. Now it's the Women Lawyers Association, which is the same association -- I'm still a member -- they do continuing legal education and things of that type. They're much more professional in their approach, but we just thought it was important that we get to know each other. KB:Yeah. Now tell me about that. Who started that? How'd that get started? Do you remember? OP:I don't remember. I remember that I was there. Mary Jane Karem was there. Ruth Daugherty, who has since died. Fanya Blacker, who has since died. Lucille Hurt, she's Lucille Robuck now, and 51:00who is a teacher or was a teacher until she retired, she was one of the original ones. She had come to law school when I was there. She wasn't in my class. She was behind me. I guess there were about a dozen of us, I guess that's about all, and we'd meet once a month at the Olde House, have lunch. KB:And that organization. . . . OP:Has grown. I have no idea what the membership is now, but I know that probably most of the women in this community belong to it, for women lawyers. KB:Uh-humm. Uh-hummm. Yeah, there's, there's a -- I've been to some of their meetings. There's usually quite a few people in there, that's for sure. OP:And they're professional meetings and not just social gatherings. KB:Yeah. Yeah. Well, is there anything else you'd like to add for -- for history? 52:00OP:[Laughs] For history? KB:You obviously love the law. That's -- OP:Yes. Oh, I think I've had a wonderful life. KB:Uh-humm. OP:I can't think of anything else I would rather have done. KB:That's great. That's great. You have had a wonderful life, in my opinion. OP:And it's still going on. And I'm still doing fine. Ignore that. The machine's gonna pick it up [Mrs. Peers is talking about the ringing sound of phone in the background.] No, I'm busy with the university, I'm involved in community affairs, it's nice to walk down the street and have people say "Hello" to you, and you're not quite sure who they are, but they're somebody that recognizes you. And that's, that's a nice feeling. [answering machine in background] My kids are all doing well. My grandkids are fun. I see my 53:00granddaughter just about every afternoon because her dad works. He's the custodian and a single parent and he works from 1:00 until 9:00. He's a deputy sheriff KB:Uh-hummm. OP:So I pick her up at school and I have her in the afternoon. My daughter, Kara, gets off work at 5:00, so she picks up Kristine at that time. She's the one that gives her evening meal and stays with her 'til her dad comes home, so, you know, we kinda share that. KB:That's a very nice arrangement. That's nice. OP:Yeah, but I get to see her every afternoon. I get the play time. (Laugh) Kara has to see to the homework! [Laughs] KB:[Laughs] Right. Right. Well, I will say, at U of L, we're all very glad you're on the Board of Trustees. OP:Well, thank you. KB:That's wonderful. I think that's great. I'm pretty active on the women's -- I'm on the President's Women's Advisory Committee and we're, you know, real active in doing those sorts of 54:00things, so I'm real glad, glad you're on there. OP:I've done less with the Women's Center than I wanted to, but it's just a matter of not having the time. KB:Oh, I know. I know. I know. OP:Besides, it might be a basketball game I should go to! [Laughs] You know, I follow the women's basketball as well as the men's basketball games. KB:Well, you know, I've been bad about that, but I have a daughter now, of course, and I want her to know there is women's basketball, so we're gonna start going to the women's games. Of course, I love the new gym they have. OP:Oh, yes. It's great. It's great. KB:It's a great place! OP:And the volleyball is good, too. The women's volleyball team. That's very good. KB:Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. As a matter of fact, we -- the men play tonight, don't they? OP:Yes. Yes. KB:I'm still recovering from Saturday's game. Now -- the overtime? [Laughs] OP:[Laughs] Oh, yes! My, my, my little craw is the women's game they played at Evansville, which they lost that. So I'm kinda disappointed in that, but right 55:00now I'm involved with the Athletic Department. We're planning the Metro and we're planning the Women's Banquet and so forth. KB:Now, it's a great school for that. OP:Well, yes. KB:Okay. Well, let me get the tape recorder turned off and tell you how much I appreciate this, too. OP:Oh, listen, I've enjoyed it too. KB:Oh, well, it's been great. Let's me just put -- Again, this is an interview by Kathy Bean with Judge Olga Peers and it's February 4th on Thursday. And we'll --