Kevin Collins: Today is Friday, May 14, 2010, this is Kevin Collins and today'sinterview is with Romano Mazzoli, former congressman for twelve terms from 1970 to 1994, for the 3rd Congressional District of Kentucky. It's being recorded at the University of Louisville Archives as part of the Romano Mazzoli oral history project. Good morning Congressman.
Romano Mazzoli: Good morning, Kevin, good to be with you.
KC: Pleasure. Just to start off easily, now that you're retired do most peoplestill refer to you as "Congressman" out of respect for the number of years you were in Congress?
RLM: They do, as a matter of fact the other night I was at a political event, asa matter of fact a person asked to know what I prefer to be known as, or called, or addressed, and I said, "Well, you can call me Ron, you can call me whatever, 1:00but typically people say 'Congressman.'" And it's stuck with me all these years; I think the term is honorific. It's like a judge is--once a judge, always a judge; once an ambassador, always an ambassador, so once a member of Congress, basically the same thing prevails--always a member of Congress, so I'm addressed as Congressman Mazzoli, but because I grew up here in Louisville, born here--as was Helen and our children--most of the people continue to call me Ron, because we're pretty much on a first name basis.
KC: Well, today we're going to try and cover in this first session, mostlybiographical material, growing up in Louisville and so forth. So, yeah, maybe you could tell me your sense of the city of Louisville. You were born in 19--
KC: Nineteen thirty-two, so from 1932 through 2010, now, just a panoramic view2:00of the city and how it's changed and your sense of it.
RLM: Well, I can probably characterize Louisville, Kentucky as I probably wouldany city that I would have been born into as being, basically, part of the Ice Age, back in 1932. I mean, that was seventy-seven years ago, before television, before interstate highways, before jet travel by air, before Twitter and before Internet. And so, basically, it was a hugely different city. It was a beautiful town, wonderful place. You used to be able to go walk right down to the Ohio River, you didn't have the esplanade as you have now, you didn't have the riverfront development, you literally walked cobblestones down to the lapping water of the Ohio River. It was a small town, didn't have the same number of people that it has today, but it was a great place, I think, to grow up into. 3:00And we grew up--we were born--and I say we--my brother and sister and I were born in the Highlands of Louisville, in the area roughly Eastern Parkway and intersection with Bardstown Road. We went to school very nearby at St. James parochial schools and my brother and I went to St. X--St. Xavier High School, which at that time was at 2nd and Broadway. So, we lived in one area of town, and one aspect of Louisville that I only learned about laterly, which was when I decided to get into politics which was decades later, was the breadth of the city and its diversity, because we tended to live and grow up, get jobs, marry, all within a certain neighborhood. Louisville, as you've heard, is a city of neighborhoods and so it was providential that politics came along in a way, 4:00because it really taught me a lot about myself, and we'll talk about that as these interviews go on, but it also taught me about my city because it made me go beyond the confines, if you want to call them that, or beyond in the parochial boundaries of the Highlands or Germantown or Crescent Hill or St. Matthews, into the broader community.
So, while I grew up in Louisville, Louisville of those days, Kevin, wascertainly not the Louisville of today, in size, scope, sophistication, or anything like that, but it was a wonderful city to grow up in and I'm happy that when Mother and Dad married in 1930, and they married in Cleveland, that they decided to come to Louisville rather than just staying in Cleveland. We could have, that was an option that Dad and Mother had, but Dad was, of course, and immigrant and came right after he transited Ellis Island. He and his father who 5:00soon thereafter passed away, but they came right directly to Louisville. So the option was do you stay in Cleveland where Mother's extensive family was, or do you come to Louisville? And they came to Louisville and I'm very happy. We made many trips to Cleveland during the time my family was still intact and my grandparents were alive, but I'm happy that we grew up in Louisville and enjoyed the city.
My first recollections of growing up were on Jaeger Avenue--1609 Jaeger Avenue.I pass it periodically because it's not far from St. Agnes church where two or three times a week I go to a liturgy, and I remember as little kids--and we have a lot of pictures to document it--the somewhat bucolic life that we lived in that backyard, and my dad, who was quite a talent, somehow dug a pool for us. 6:00Now it wasn't a pool with circulating pumps and things like you'd have today. It was a pool you'd fill with a hose and eventually it evaporated, but it was a pool that we enjoyed very much in the summer time and neighborhood kids came over. I remember having pictures taken in the front room, and have some pictures, which I'll show you and put as part of this archival material. I had a favorite toy, it looked like--as best I can tell it was a giraffe, of all things, which I played with, and I was, as a boy, apparently a very attractive child. My mother submitted my name--my picture--into several of these competitions for the prettiest baby of X, Y, and Z and I won a few medals and little awards, and I'll put them in the Archives as well. Of course the intervening years have changed that beautiful little child, you know, that angelic cherubic little child into something far different. [Laughs.] But, in 7:00those days I was--so I have great recollections of Jaeger Avenue. When we talk about our family we'll get more into this, but my grandmother--my dad's mother--lived with us, who'd--she had just come from Italy before the Second World War, and because Italy was not an ally of the United States in the Second World War, she was barred from going back to Italy until after the war, and then they started transportation again. So, she lived with us and she was a very--
KC: What was her name?
RLM: Her name was Angelina Rosa Mazzoli. Angelina Rosa Mazzoli. But, she was avery wispy kind of woman, and narrow and thin--strong, but narrow and thin and we have many pictures of her which, again, will be in the Archives, but I remember that because she spoke no English we communicated in Italian when Nona 8:00was there. She had a little room in the back of the house for herself, as her little apartment. And as the story goes--and I wish my mother were still with us, bless her soul--or my dad, they could fill in the gap, but I'm told that I spoke pretty fluent Italian until I was about five or six years old which was about the time that Nona went back to--well, went to live with Dad's brother Mariano, whose widow is still alive and will help us with the family genealogy. Once Nona left the house then everybody reverted to English, and as we say laughingly--my brother and sister and I say--we reverted to English except in those instances where Mother and Dad didn't want us to understand something and then they could speak their Italian--which I might say was sort of a pidgin Italian, a patois, because Dad spoke this Northern Italian which was a very 9:00guttural, sort of clipped, somewhat Germanic, because after all the Austrians and the Austro- Hungarian Empire had owned and taken over Northern Italy quite a bit. So, there was a certain remnant of that type of language pattern in Dad's Italian. Mother's Italian was Sicilian, which is more undulating, and it sort of laps the sea, it has this sort of singsong quality to it. But they developed some kind of an Italian they could both understand and it was that Italian that they spoke when we didn't-- when we were not to know something that they were speaking to one another.
KC: What brought your dad and your granddad to Louisville, specifically?
RLM: We'll talk about that at more length. In fact, we had a meeting with myaunt and my cousin just within a week from the time this interview is being done, in which they produced an awful lot of papers they had gleaned from safety deposit boxes, from doing work in genealogical websites, and from Ellis Island 10:00records. But, what brought them here, as I can understand from the letter, was a lack of jobs in Italy. It was very interesting. There's a letter which we'll put in the Archives, a very plaintive kind of letter from my grandfather to Romano Rosa, who along with his brother Gioachino, or in America they called him Keno, but Giaochino Rosa and Romano Rosa immigrated to the US, first to Vermont, then to St. Louis, then to Louisville, always within the trade of tile, marble, terrazzo, mosaic. And there was a letter that my aunt uncovered from my grandfather to Romano Rosa, who by that time was a very prosperous member of the Louisville community-- very well-to-do from his business of tile as well as real 11:00estate--asking if there was some way that they could get to the United States because jobs were drying up. And it is eerie how similar that pattern of writing and the story it told is to today. People who are needing jobs and have to move sometimes--even across oceans, not just across rivers, but across oceans to get those jobs, and so it's going to be very revelatory I think for the purpose of our family of how they got here.
But once they got here which was October of 1914, within three months-- Decemberof 1914--my grandfather died. We even have some records of the medical doctors, of what they were giving him and treating him over this infection, which obviously today would be treated in a minute with some penicillin-type or some 12:00antibiotic, but in those days it was fatal. But it was interesting to read this, I won't go into it, but one of the foodstuffs that my grandfather was eating was egg and whiskey. Now it sounds pretty weird to have egg and whiskey, but I remember when my own father was ill--he was ill several times in his lifetime and he couldn't hold food down. He would crack an egg into Italian bitters, you know, all people, probably the Irish have a sort of bitters, grappa, the Greeks have it, the Syrians have it--so he would take an egg and then drop it into the bitters and then swallow the whole thing down because he couldn't hold food. So it was kind of interesting when I read the medical report on my grandfather that they had egg and whiskey that--years and years and years later, my dad had egg 13:00and bitters. So, somehow that technology, while seemingly pretty rudimentary seemed to have some medical beneficial effect. But, my grandfather died in December and my father continued, happily, to live in Louisville, although it was a rocky situation because his mother was still in Europe, and his brothers and sisters were there, and so he just had the Rosa family and it wasn't always an easy relationship.
From there we moved to--from Jaeger Avenue and the influence of the Rosas, Imight say without getting into too many details that my father's impression always had been that he would be invited into the company. He had done a lot of work and had traveled the country for the company and had done wonderful work. He didn't really himself have much education, not even a grade school diploma, but a very bright guy, and his impression was he'd be invited into the business, 14:00as a partner, as a co-owner. Well, they--they, the Rosas--by that time the Rosa brothers themselves couldn't get along so they broke up into two separate companies, but the one Rosa that Dad had stayed with, Romano, more or less said, "You not only aren't going to be part of the business, but you're also not going to stay in that house on Jaeger Avenue because we own it." So, they had to quickly find something. Went down to Tyler Park Drive--Tyler Parkway--where Dad had to start a business. He had to provide for the three of us and for Mother, so--
KC: About what time is this?
RLM: That would have been probably, probably 1940--'39, 1940. I'll get that frommy sister, but that's about the time, toward the end of the [speaking at the same time]--
KC: So you're about seven or eight years old at the time--
RLM: Decade, the 19--
KC: And you're already in grade school.
RLM: Right. And we were in grade school at St. James so that was just up thestreet, basically. But, Dad had to start a business and so he had--there was a 15:00garage in the back of this house we rented on Tyler Parkway and that was the place he used for his shop, to store materials and that type of thing and the truck happened to be our 1938 Chevrolet. Of course if you remember it, you're too young to remember, but cars were not made during the war years, they made jeeps and they made trucks for war fighting, but they didn't make passenger cars. So these cars that were in existence in the '30s had to survive until after war when they started making cars. So anyway, Dad somehow retrofitted this 1938 Chevrolet by taking seats out and putting pieces of plywood in to make it into a makeshift truck. And it was that truck that delivered us kids to St. James School. We were not happy campers about it. Piling out of a thing with 16:00cement bags around and so forth, is not what most of the kids were doing who were our peers, but we did it. But anyway, Dad and Mother continued to provide a living for us on Tyler Parkway. We were there not very long, but then we moved over to Ardmore Drive--939 Ardmore Drive. It was then a street called Phillips Avenue, but they renamed it Ardmore Drive later to prevent confusion with Phillips Lane, which is out there by the fairgrounds.
KC: And how old are you at that time?
RLM: Well, it was in 1941, so I would have been nine years old.
KC: And that wouldn't require a change in schools?
RLM: We continued to go back to--well, we were in another zone, if you want tocall the parochial schools, though, they didn't have a rigid zone, so we were in another school area, another parish, but we continued to go back to St. James to 17:00finish up our grade school--three of us finished up there. But Ardmore Drive--and as the story goes, Mother and Dad had what was called in today's terms "sweat equity." They offered a fellow named George Kelly who was the builder of these homes in this little area, it's--we're near the current St. X, it's just off of Poplar Level Road, south of Bardstown--south of Eastern Parkway. But anyway, they found this builder who needed to be able to have tile work done in these homes he was building and the tile work consisted of the facings and the floor of the mantle, the backsplashes and drain board for the sinks in the kitchen, and a small bathroom-- five by eight bathroom--with tile up over the shower stall--up over the tub. And so as I understand it--and once 18:00again, my sister can probably fill in more of the details and--they did several houses in the neighborhood, and in return for the money they did for the tile work, that was a down payment on their home. So, 939 Ardmore was bought, literally, by the sweat and hard work of my mother and dad. Mother keeping the books and trying to collect the bills and doing all that sort of thing, and Dad primarily doing the outside work, the actual installation of it, and the hiring of the men and the running of the shop.
KC: Now was that--that was your official residence for all the years you were inCongress, too?
RLM: It was. And what--I take it back, and I need to mention--939 was where allof us grew up and in those days when guys became majority, they didn't move and find their own apartments. Nowadays it's commonplace for kids once they leave for college, they never go back to the home nest, they get their own apartment 19:00or that type of thing. Well, for us, we stayed in the house until we got married. So, I got married in 1959 to Helen, and we rented an apartment on Eastern Parkway and Crittenden Drive, which amounted to my last year of law school, and I'll fill in the gap between Ardmore Drive and law school soon, but-- We had the situation of living on Ardmore Drive, 939, from 1941 until 1959. That was my time at 939. We then, like I say got married and then Helen and I moved over to Crittenden Drive and we were there for five years. That took us to 1963. And the kids came and we didn't have room in this little apartment so we looked right next door to 939 Ardmore Drive was an empty lot, my Mother 20:00and Dad had bought it sometime in the early 1940s for, like, fifteen hundred dollars from a fellow, Marion Johnson -- why I would remember his name, I don't know, but anyway, Marion Johnson. And it was in that lot--fifty by a hundred and fifty feet long that a couple of things occurred. One, it became a playground for the neighborhood, for all of us. My dad put in a kind of a makeshift backboard for basketball. We didn't have a--we used the mud for the floor of the basketball court, so it means that you didn't have a steady bounce of the ball. There was a big mulberry tree in the front part of the lot which we used to play Tarzan and to climb the tree and swing out of it with monkey vines and crazy stuff that kids do. And in the far back of it is where Dad put in holding bins for his sand and the gravel that he needed for his work, because once again he worked out of the garages at 939 Ardmore Drive, as he had worked out of the 21:00garages on Tyler Parkway.
So those were the things that occurred at 937, but when the kids came, in1960--well, Michael born in 1960 and Andrea in 1963--we needed someplace, so we built a home on that empty lot, which had been our neighborhood playground and been part of my dad's shop. By that time he had moved the business arrangement over to Minoma Avenue which is very nearby, built his own place, concrete block business. It's still there, beautiful as ever. It's now owned by an architect, Michael Koch, whose dad and I were classmates at St. X, and Michael said when he moved in it was so beautiful that he never did do anything to take some of the tile and marble and terrazzo work out of it. He remodeled the whole place--had to because for the most part this building was just a shed to house the material. 22:00
KC: As a boy growing up did you do similar work with your dad--tile work and laboring--
KC: Or did you actually learn the techniques of setting tile?
RLM: I never did learn the technique of setting, I was never an installer, thatwas really more talent than I had, more mechanical skill than I possessed. But my brother Rich--Richard did that and did it very admirably. He was quite a mechanic and when Dad passed away, Rich ran the business for a few years and--with Mother's help -- and it didn't really work out. Dad was sort of the centerpiece, but Rich indeed went on the job and he could help. But all of us in the summer time-- including my sister Trish, who actually ran the office after Mother decided that she didn't want to work there anymore. We all worked in the summer time. I remember vividly Mother putting together lunch for us. That was 23:00before the days of these port-a-potties where you just really had to go all day long, basically. That was before the days of child labor and hard hats and OSHA and things like that--Occupational Safety Health Administration rules and regulations for workplace safety. So, I mean it was pretty dangerous, because we would ride in the back of the truck to the job and then we'd work and carry sand and gravel and we'd carry cement buckets and we would use the ho--no cement mixers like you have now. The cement was--and the water and lime and stuff was put into the mortar box which was a shallow box about five or six feet long, and then you would cut--as they say--cut the mud by running your hoe which had two holes in it, and it was almost like extruding the stuff. But you'd run that hoe through it from one side then you'd switch sides and run it back the other way. You've probably, maybe, seen some of that at the Cape where some people do 24:00it--in fact you may have done something like that your very self, Kevin. You hand-mix the mortar.
So that's what Dad--that's what we did, Rich and I and, so, we really got anearly indoctrination into what immensely hard work it was to do and what sacrifices Mother and Dad made for us, that we were able to capitalize on it by reason of having our education. We were able to move forward in the world because of their sacrifice because they were willing to do that for us. So, I've always, every day thank Mother and Dad for what they did and I'm sure Rich and Trish do the same thing. That--it just was a labor of love, everything they did for us.
So, but we moved in in 1963 to 939 Ardmore where we were until my election toCongress and from '71 to '73, as I may have mentioned, we stayed in that house. 25:00I commuted to Washington for the first two and a half years of my congressional career and then after that I didn't like that idea. Weekends were not spent with the family, they were out doing campaigning, or constituent work, so in 1973, we bought a home in Alexandria, Virginia, a home whose main recommendation was, it was a home we could afford. It wasn't stylish, but it was very well built. It was a happy, wonderful, memorable home for our kids to live in and grow up in, basically, though they started their schooling in Louisville at Mother of Sorrows and they're both baptized here.
KC: Well, we'll do some more conversation about your family and we'll beinterviewing folks in your family, so we can cover some more of this at a later date. Two general questions about your impressions about the city of Louisville, because in the days when you were growing up as a young man, the city of 26:00Louisville would have been a segregated city. Were you conscious of that and how did that play into your general experience of growing up in Louisville?
RLM: Kevin, I really wish that I could say that it affected me in a way that Iwas very conscious of it, that I was aghast at it, repelled by it, but I can't say that in truth. We were part of that growing up process. Unfortunately, I guess you'd say it was the norm, it was the way things were. I wish I could say that I wanted to change the way things were, but I didn't. As to whether or not it affected my work later, I think maybe, because I got into immigration work in Congress and, of course, my dad was an immigrant himself and that probably predisposed me a little bit. But I like to think that possibly when I see in my father and see in my uncle and my aunt, who is still alive, the way immigrants 27:00have added to our community, it may have been that when I saw that some people could have added to the community but weren't permitted to do so, because of segregation, that I may have tried, in a conscious way, or maybe an unconscious way, to right some of those grievances, but in candor I can't say that in those days I had any amazing feeling about it. I will say this, my mother had frail health and she had to have household help and even on Tyler Parkway, which would have been in the late '30s. And there was a young black woman by the name of Louise Van Meter whose husband worked with my father. But Louise Van Meter came to work for my mother, and for us--she was sort of like a nanny as well. We were--let's see in the late '30s I would have been seven or eight years old, 28:00Rich four, Trish two or three and--Mother, who just was a wonderful, wonderful person to everybody, always treated Louise as a member of the family. Now that didn't mean that we went to Louise's home--though in later years we did. We met her mother and we--Mother and Louise became closest of friends. But I will say that we treated Louise, Helen--I mean Mother treated Louise with the utmost respect, and they actually became great friends. So, in any event, once again it wasn't that we took some steps-- dramatic steps or otherwise to right the wrong of segregation, but I think as far as living out we didn't attempt to demean 29:00people or to ridicule them or to finger point at them because they were a different skin color or things like that.
But I believe later in life through the immigration work and the many bills, youknow, Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Acts that I voted for and supported, the situation which I may not have seen so much as a kid to be difficult and unfair, was able--was addressed in my years when I was in--I remember, also, when I was a state senator, the very first bill that we had--I'll never forget this because it became quite controversial. There was an effort in 1968 in the state senate to revive what would amount to the Un-American Activities Committee, which you remember from your study of Washington was a very major situation. And that, of course, was addressed at a 30:00lot of people, including black people--African Americans, and Georgia Davis, now Georgia Davis Powers, then senator, first black senator and the first female black senator, and I were the only two people in the Kentucky State Senate to vote against the reconstitution--or the constitution of a Kentucky--[long pause] KC: Un-American Activities Committee.
RLM: Yeah, Un-American. Thank you very much, the Kentucky Un-American ActivitiesCommittee a la Washington's. So, it may have been by that time, I mean, again, I hadn't taken part in any kind of marches, but by the time I got to the state senate, which was in the 60s, I certainly felt that there was no need to further develop these themes of discrimination and of segregation and of separatist--of 31:00separation, and I think that vote sort of vivified that.
KC: Let me ask you two other questions--general questions about your impressionsof Louisville. One, as a young man growing up in Louisville, were you conscious of the ethnicity of different neighborhoods, were they--was there an Italian section in Louisville and was there a Polish section and an Irish section and so forth?
And would you have noticed that growing up and would you have impressions of thedifferent areas?
RLM: That's an excellent question, and I don't think I noticed it growing up,but it's pretty evident from any of the readings that I've done, that Louisville was indeed a city in which the ethnic groups, such as they were then, were sort of isolated. And, of course we talked before, if you want to say ethnic groups, the African- Americans were primarily in--it wasn't even the West End at that time, because the West End was primarily Irish. The North End, which is the area 32:00around the Ohio River, was primarily Irish. The area around what's called now the Nucleus area, which was the old Haymarket where the farmers literally had the farmers market, but an extensive array of buildings down there on Main and Market Street of primarily Syrian and Lebanese. Around where Helen grew up in Germantown it was Germans and, so forth. The Highlands was a mixture of mostly--but the biggest ethnic groups were Irish and German and there was not a significant Italian population. What there was of it was sort of coalesced around the old Haymarket down there in the downtown area, along with the Syrians and the Lebanese, and the Jewish people. That was all this, sort of, their enclave. Of course, now--and I take part steadily in these events, I just spoke 33:00to the Hispanic-Latino coalition at the Muhammad Ali Center and I have taken part in many naturalization ceremonies. I'll have to take part of another one, June 11th, a few days from when we're now talking. And so you see the coming together of all kinds of people from fifty, sixty countries of the world. In those days, Kevin, there was not that type of diversity, but it was--but parishes, you'd have two or three Catholic churches side by side, one served the Irish, one served the German, one served the--there was a parish in downtown--in the Haymarket area that served the Italian community. The priest, his name was Autheman, which is a German name, but coming from northern Italy, a lot of Germanic names are there from totally Italian people, so Father Autheman was the pastor of--it was called then Saint Michael's Church, and it was in the Haymarket and that's where the Italians went. So, there was definite ethnicity 34:00in the church arrangement. I can't speak to the Protestant churches at all. Some of them may have been broken down by the ethnic situation. But the Catholic Church is definitely, sort of, different communities. And you'd have this peculiar arrangement of parishes side by side, almost, where they would be very different in their parishioner structure.
KC: Let me ask you one question that reminds me of my dad, actually, somethingmy dad told me back in the city where I grew up in, but you were a young man, not quite a teenager through all of World War II. Did your dad tell you, or did you ever know of the circumstances, since you're from an Italian heritage where officials--FBI, police--would check on people of Italian or German heritage to ask questions? My dad had a very good friend, for instance, who was German, and 35:00at one point the FBI would come and just talk to the neighbors to gather general information--for purposes of security, I presume. Were you ever aware of anything like that in terms of being Italian, or do you--
RLM: I really cannot say. I don't have any awareness of it. I can't say that itdidn't happen, but, you know, typically speaking, the immigrants of that era, unlike the immigrants of today, who basically keep one foot in both countries--the country of origin and the country, now, they're living in. It's not at all uncommon--in New York City, particularly, the Dominicans, you know, go back to the Dominican Republic and live in New York and go back and forth. In those days when they got to America they pretty much cut off their home country. So, if my father were interviewed, if my uncle--my uncle, now, was actually drafted into the American army. He had served in the Italian army in Italy when he was a younger man, but then he came, immigrated, to the US and he was drafted 36:00in the--because he was younger than my father, my father was too old to be drafted and had children and so forth. But, I think my father would not have been prone to tell me if the FBI or if the local constabulary had called him or my mother to ask questions about what you're doing and, you know, in effect, check your loyalty. But [we were aware?] of the Nisei and the situation of the Japanese Americans and many generations living in California and in the West who were interned and were sent to Wyoming and were put into camps, basically. But, as to whether or not my mother and dad, or any people in the Italian community were interrogated, or checked, even casually, I really cannot say. Maybe my aunt might be able to help us on that score. My sister, too, who was very, very close 37:00to dad. She worked in the shop with him for years and years when Rich and I had gone. I had gone to college and the army and was married and so forth, and Rich had gone his way. Trish was still there quite a bit, so she observed a lot of that that we would maybe ask her about.
KC: Well, we'll have another conversation, certainly, on your entire Italianheritage, so they'll be plenty of time to talk about that. Let's move on to your educational experiences. You went to grade school--
RLM: St. James.
KC: At St. James.
RLM: Catholic school at Edenside and Bardstown Road. [Laughs]
KC: Got some memories of that experience, any special teachers, or circumstances you--
RLM: Well, a couple of quick things pop up. Our pastor, the Right ReverendMonsignor Earle E. Willett was one of those pastors in the early days of the Archdiocese of Louisville who, when they became pastor, were pastor forever. I 38:00don't know how it was in Boston or Massachusetts, but it was the pattern, when you became pastor that you never left except with your toes pointed up. And while you were there as pastor, you were not pastor alone, you were pastor, slash, potentate, or pastor, slash, prince, which meant that everybody deferred to the pastor, the sisters did. In those days, of course, we had a convent full of sisters. Every grade was taught by a religious woman. The cafeterias were run by religious women. I mean, it was just--the whole thing was totally Catholic. But the one impresario of the whole event was the Right Reverend Monsignor Earle E. Willett and so he--I remember vividly and will always remember, as a man who brooked no nonsense, brooked no backtalk, brooked no exceptions to his rules and regulations.
I also remember a bevy of young priests--in those days you'd have two or three39:00priests in addition to the pastor in a parish, I mean, we were--we were just abundant priests in our community. Of course, we had--that was in the days when, just like the Irish in Massachusetts, they found two ways up out of their problems, one was become a policeman or another politician, or a priest. Priest, policeman, politician. That's how the Irish moved along in life, that's how the Italians did it in certain areas, like in New York City. And so, in those days it was deemed an honor to have one of your boys go into the priesthood. And now it's a lot more problematic for people to accept that and-- So we had a lot of priests and I remember they were young and athletic and we used to play basketball with them in the playground, which was one of these asphalt playgrounds.
The other memorable woman, Sister Anastasia, she eventually after teaching as an40:00Ursuline sister of Mount St. Joseph Ursuline--there are two Ursuline orders, the Ursulines of Louisville on Lexington Road, which had most of the parishes, but then there were a few run by the Ursulines of Mount St. Joseph which is Owensboro. Most of these were farm girls and almost all came from Marion County, Washington County, Nelson County, that Catholic triangular area in central Kentucky. Which is where the Archdiocese of Louisville began, in that area. But anyway, she was then Sister Anastasia, her name was Jean Mudd, came from New Haven, Kentucky, from a very large family which, again, was commonplace, just like Charlie Mattingly's family was a large family. It was commonplace, they were farm families and they grew a lot of kids like they grew a lot of corn and grew a lot of cows. She and at least two of her sisters became religious sisters 41:00and she came and taught the fourth grade at St. James, and made an impression on me and we became friends over the years. And then later, Sister left the convent and was married eventually to a fellow named Jack Miller. And we remained friends over the years and it wasn't very long ago, it was just earlier this year that Jean Miller's sister Anastasia, in her--let me see, I'm 77 and Sister was probably no more than ten years older than we were when she was teaching us. She was still a girl, when she taught fourth graders she was still, literally, a girl. But in any event, Sister--Jean passed away in her 80s and I went to the 42:00funeral Mass and saw several of our St. James classmates there, so it's sort of like the circle began at Edenside and the circle closed many years later. But she remains a wonderful person. Many pictures of her that I've found as we've gone through our photographic archive, which be, of course, part of this collection. So, those were the two things.
My athletic exploits were very few in life. I did play a lot of tennis and we'lltalk about St. X in a minute. But in those days I didn't do much, I was not that athletic. But one time, I'll never--I don't know why, but I remember winning a free throw contest and don't ask me how, in those days you--
KC: Basketball free throws?
RLM: Basketball free throws. And that was like-- I can't remember the guy, who,even when he went to the NBA, was the last of the Mohicans, the last guy to [throw] free throws from between his legs. If you remember, there was a guy whose son who became, also, an NBA player. But, in those days you threw free 43:00throws by just waving the ball in between your knees and then up into the--well, that's what I did just because we all did. We didn't shoot the one-hand free throws like they do nowadays, and have for years. So anyway, I won this free throw contest and somewhere in a safety deposit box I have this little round basketball. It's not inscribed or--nothing is scratched into it to evidence when this was, but this was my main claim to athletic fame at St. James, was that. The other thing was, when we did play basketball, we played it in a gym that had not been built for much of anything except a place where kids could exercise when the weather was terrible outside. And it wasn't--as I'm looking at this wall right here, you probably have about an eight foot ceiling, maybe, if you have that, in this room in which we're being interviewed, and so, any of the kids who played basketball at St. James, not the ones who played basketball at St. Francis, or played basketball at St. Agnes, or played basketball at St. 44:00Brigid, but only the kids who played basketball at St. James had to invent a shot that was low trajectory because you had to avoid hitting the ceiling. So these things were more like line shots than they were loops, and so when they got to St. X they had to relearn the whole game of basketball because they had played in this very constricted area. But, I remember that about St. James and-- But it was a good school.
I remember, too, a situation where my mother and dad had drummed good mannersinto all of us and I hope I still have those good manners. But, I remember crossing a street--because we walked to school in those days, in the early part, once we left Ardmore Drive, Dad had to drive us back, or we took the bus. The Eastern Parkway bus. But I remember seeing one of the sisters coming from the convent which was half a block away from St. James school--still there--and I 45:00think it's being converted into apartment houses. And I saw this sister coming with one of these wicker baskets. Well, you know, being a Little Lord Fauntleroy that I was and good manners and Boy Scout this and that, I went over and said, "Sister Something, could I help you with that basket." Well she said, "Oh, sure." So she handed me the basket and down I went to the ground, I mean my arm was almost jerked out of the socket. This was a strong woman and this was a heavy basket. And I laboriously struggled--halfway walked, halfway dragged this thing. I wasn't going to give up though. You know, halfway dragged it back to school and then down those steps, into the cafeteria, but-- That was the last time that I volunteered to carry a basket because I knew that those things were too heavy for me to handle. [Collins laughs.] But I have that--that was, what, seventy years ago, who knows, but it's been etched into my memory bank, trying 46:00to help sister and almost losing my arm in the process.
KC: Let's move on to you high school experience. Can you give me five minuteimpressions about St. X? This is 1950 that you're--
RLM: Nineteen-forty six to 1950, graduated in 1950. A wonderful school, old,down at Second and Broadway, long since demolished. An old mansion that was converted into a school by the Xaverian Brothers who had arrived in Louisville in 1864--a little bit earlier, they arrived earlier than that, but they began their ministry of education in 1864. The mansion was a series of rooms that they made into classrooms, a series of different of elevations as they added buildings and tacked things onto it. By today's standards they would have ruled it probably not habitable, certainly not a place where kids could be educated. But it was a wonderful school. We had--much, again, like we had at St. James, 47:00all brothers, every one of them Xaverian Brothers, we had very few lay teachers. These were demanding men, they were like, you know, from the East Coast. Xaverian Brothers all came from Boston, they came from the Bronx, they came from Staten Island. They were tough guys, mostly --almost all Irish, some German thrown in, but very tough guys, but very wonderful teachers, and so-- We were on a track system. Some of the guys that went to St. X didn't go to college, but the bulk of us did. Wonderful teachers, wonderful men, wonderful friends. I made most of the friends--because all of the guys from St. James went to St. X, so, I mean, there was a procession of kids that I'd gone to grade school with that became my high school classmates. And because St. James was an excellent school, most of the guys I was there with at St. James wound up in the--what you might 48:00call the college prep part of St. X, and so they became my lifelong friends and remain--the ones that are still alive remain my friends today.
I remember playing football, I remember playing football on a field at Clay andKentucky, which was called then Alumni Field, we didn't have a football stadium like they have off of Poplar Level Road now, they have this, this fancy college campus there at St. X. We had nothing, we had--the tennis court that we had was one that we just put into the pavement in the back of the school, no backboards, no --I mean, no nets or anything like that.
KC: Were you a good student by your own admission, or--
RLM: I was--
KC: An average student or--
RLM: I was a good student, Kevin, but it wasn't because I was brilliant. I hadsome brilliant friends, David Baird, Don Varga, Bart Brown, who came with me-- David and Bart came from St. James with me. Donald Dowden who came with me from St. James to St. X and followed me to--with me to Notre Dame. These were brilliant kids, bright as they could be. I was smart, but I worked very hard. I was one of these tenacious people. I just really studied hard. I loved to read. My mother and dad sacrificed a lot to get books for me so I was a reader from the time I was a little guy--a voracious reader at that. And so I think I had the predisposition to be a good student, and the work ethic to be a good student, but, so I was pretty near the top of my class. I wasn't the valedictorian, but pretty near the top of my class and did well, and took the Latin and the French and the courses that trained you better to be in college.
The football part was good because my dad was a great football player, as I'vementioned to you in earlier conversations and he knew the football coach. Ray Baer, a Jewish guy was a football coach at St. X. Now that's diversity. It happened that Ray Baer would play football at Michigan under--and the name will come to me at some point, one of the great football coaches like Amos Alonzo Stagg and those people, one of the great football coaches. And he was coaching at St. X and Dad, who was a center when he played at Bonnycastle Club, and a 49:00good one, wanted me to be a center. Well, I wasn't a big guy, and you can tell I'm not a big fellow, but Ray acceded to my dad's, I believe, my dad's request that he try me out as center. So, instead of being a running back-- and I was a pretty speedy kid and I used to win a lot of foot races--but I wound up playing in the line as a center in a single wing offense, which means that you had to look through your legs and center the ball to the halfbacks or the quarterback--or fullback. And I would get tumbled and upended and things like that, so it was not a happy experience, but I did earn my varsity letter, which I was very proud of and still have on a sweater in a closet at home.
And a sport that I did know and did do very well in was tennis. And I playedfour years of varsity tennis and in my senior year won the state doubles championship with a friend of mine named George Koper who still lives--George 50:00was a junior, one year below, but an excellent tennis player, great friend and a good man, and so we won a state championship for St. X, and some of the--and my coach then was Brother Thomas More who became principal of St. X later. Not at that time, but later, and he was also the superior general of the Xaverian Order and was in Rome for several years. An absolutely unique human being. He was brilliant, he was just one of the great thinkers of the Xaverian Order, they had a lot of very, very intelligent and insightful brothers in that era. But he was our tennis coach and became my friend and stayed my friend, and even when we were in Washington, he was living there with another brother at Capitol Hill, on Michigan Avenue near Capitol Hill, near Catholic U--Catholic University, and so Helen and I went two or three times down to their house where the brothers--both of them came from Baltimore and they're great seafood cooks [laughs]--and coming from Boston as you know, and seafood is--well, anyway, we used to go down for 51:00some great seafood experiences. Whatever would be the Irish or the Baltimorean equivalent of paella, which is the Spanish stuff where you throw everything in there and let it simmer for a couple of days and it tastes great. That's what we would have. So, I stayed close to Brother Thomas More, Brother Lionel--
KC: Right. Let me ask you in terms of the overall experience at St. X, do youremember or recall any experiences in high school, any teachers, any courses that you took that would steer you or would affect your later on career as a politician?
RLM: I don't really think so. I believe the fact that you had to take Latin whenyou were in that certain area probably prepared me for college in its own way. 52:00Just as a little sidebar, Helen and I took a Latin course just this year [laughs], at Bellarmine in one of these adult education courses. I remembered very little of my original Latin, but it was a good experiment. What I do remember was the demands that the brothers placed on us. I mean, you know, they were no nonsense people.
These were all men and we were all men, it was--it was no women in that area,so, they were very demanding. So I was pretty well prepared for what lay ahead at Notre Dame, simply because of the way they taught me. I can't remember any particular one course or any particular one teacher that may have been one that stuck out, but one incident that I can remember vividly and I have referred to this many, many times, and that was in our senior year, we took what amounted to Christmas baskets of food and Christmas goodies to the people who lived in the 53:00public housing projects. And, once again, as I mentioned earlier, you lived in a neighborhood. It was a fairly provincial kind of life--insular if you want to call it that. We didn't have many kids at St. X from the West End of Louisville. They went to Flaget, which is a school no longer in existence, but-- So we didn't really get that far west of 18th Street. So here was an experience where we put these baskets together and then, obviously, with the help of some chaperone, we would go to the projects and deliver these baskets. Well that was--if that was in 19--say--50, that would have been--what is that--1950 would have been fifty, almost sixty years ago and I would have been sixteen, seventeen--sixty years ago, a vivid memory. None of the rest of it can I remember. Sixty years vanishes. Some of my friends--I get together with my classmates, some of those guys have absolutely perfect pitch memory, remember 54:00everything. I remember nothing, but that I remember.
And I use that as an experience of how vivid it is to do something for somebodyelse--how important it is. Because doing something for us, for ourselves is not only not the way life should be lived, but it's also not anything you're not going to remember very long. It doesn't bring you that sense of fulfillment or satisfaction. But that experience of, for the first time in my life, going into areas where people were truly in need. Now we lived a modest life, never took a vacation in our entire life. No vacations on Jaeger Avenue, no vacations on Ardmore Drive, there was no such thing as a vacation for the Mazzoli family. It 55:00was all work, summertime, wintertime, whatever. But we were never in need. My mother and dad were hard workers, they were provident, they didn't waste money, we always had food on the table, we had clothes that we needed. This was the first time in my life that I had really confronted, directly, people who did not have the food, who didn't have the clothes, who didn't have the sustenance that we had--that we took for granted.
And it stayed with me forever, and if there was anything that sort ofpredisposed me for thinking in terms of doing something that would allow me to help other people--and I did consider the priesthood at different points, that would have been a way to do it. I considered a medical profession, because we had a wonderful doctor, Dr. Arch Herzer, who, when we were at Jaeger Avenue used to make house calls. And you're too young to remember it, but he used to carry a little vial of sugar pills and he'd come--because Mother and Dad had illnesses 56:00in their lifetime, happily we didn't as kids. But, Dr. Arch Herzer would come over and then he'd take care of Mother and Dad, whatever it was. Then he'd say, "Ron--" he called me Ronnie then, "Ronnie, come over here," and he said, "are you feeling OK," I said, "Well, you know doctor, I--" so he'd give me a little sugar pill, and I'd take that sugar pill. Well, it was, it was--I wanted to be a doctor because of Dr. Herzer. I wanted to be a priest because of Father Robin, Father Aloysius Robin--good looking, tall, Irish guy who was a priest at our church. When he was in those vestments at Easter time, I mean, I--you had to fall in love with the guy--and fall in love with his profession. Those didn't turn out, at different stages in my life, but the one thing that did was political life. So it could very well have been, that in those days, I was thinking about it somehow as that one avenue to help people.
I'm told--and this is a little bit backward--but, I'm told while I really got57:00started with politics--and we'll talk about this later with John Kennedy and the advent of John Kennedy on the national and international scene. I'm told that when my--every year they crowned the May at St. James and that girl had a chance to bring the crown up to the Blessed Virgin. So during May, the Virgin had a crown on her head, and the bearer of the crown was selected by the student body. So, I'm told that I actually went around and must have done some political hustling for my sister, Patricia, and somehow it must have been decently successful, because Patricia was deemed the one to bring the crown up to the Blessed Virgin Mary statue as Queen of the May. So, any event, I--so those were maybe early elements that later coalesced into something that moved me into the political career. But I never forget that experience of carrying food baskets. And I remember St. X with a warm feeling because lifelong friendships were formed there and I loved the brothers--they were tough--I loved them. I loved my classmates, and the ones that are still alive, we continue to get together. 58:00
KC: Let me ask you--so when you graduate from St. X you move on to Notre Dame.How did you choose Notre Dame?
RLM: [Laughs] Well, I think that it was chosen, in a way, for me, and byme--both ways. For me, because of Notre Dame football, and I know that around the Boston area, BC does good things, well I feel the same way, too, but I won't tell it to our adoring public. [Laughs.] In the 1940s, radio--my dad, as I mentioned, was a great football player. Well, he loved football and he played it and he loved Notre Dame because--I've said before that Notre Dame was more or 59:00less the Harvard for the immigrants. I mean, it was a school that, people who were Poles and Slovaks and Eastern Europeans, you know, and Italians--southern Europeans--could go, and that was the epitome of schools for that group of people--that immigrant community. And it happened that the football teams that Notre Dame put on the field back when Frank Leahy was the coach in the early 1940s who had come, happily, and [?] pulled him away from Boston College [laughs]. And from that point on he used to beat Boston College, which we were very happy about. Anyway, those football games were broadcast on radio and Dad and I used to listen to them avidly, I mean, just immerse in them. And then later, in my high school years, they used to run a train from Union Station, Ninth and Broadway, a train up to South Bend for the football game. You'd go up in the early, early morning you'd get to South Bend, watch a ballgame, come back that same day, and you're back before the day is ended. So, I just fell in love 60:00with Notre Dame. I fell in love with the campus. I fell in love with the mystique of the place, the golden dome--
KC: Did you ever consider any other university?
RLM: Never. [Laughs.] I don't know what would have happened.
KC: What did you major in at Notre Dame?
RLM: Well, it's a very good question. I--majored in business. The thoughtprocess was--and we'll get to my army years eventually, which were the years 61:00that really turned me into my ultimate career of law and then politics. But, the plan was for me to earn my degree at Notre Dame in business and then come back and work with Dad, you know, the idea being that I could be part of a new generation to help Dad. And, so, that was my degree. As it turned out, and probably, also, a little inkling of what lay ahead for me was the fact that when I had electives to take, I never took them in the business field. And I wasn't a scientist, so the idea of anything that deals with numbers, or scientific concepts was out. I used to take them in English, or in literature, the humanities, the liberal arts. So that was really where my focus was, and though I never did take a political science course, that, of course, is where political science fits, in the arts and sciences.
So, the reality of it was that while business was the degree that I had, and Iearned it with magna cum laude, so I did well in the studies, my eyes were always averted, my eyes were looking somewhere else. I wasn't sure where. It wasn't until the Army that I realized where my eyes were gazing, but they were not gazing at business.
But the idea was, Notre Dame was a wonderful place. First time -- St. X was thefirst time that I'd seen kids from a broader community than the Highlands, because St. James drew just from the Highlands. St. X drew from a larger part of the city--didn't draw from the West End, but it did draw from a larger part of the city. South End, and farther parts of the East End. Notre Dame -- wow. It drew from 50 states. It drew from foreign countries. I mean, was that an eye opener for Ron Mazzoli, a very insular kind of guy, you know, pretty provincial fellow. Had read a lot, had read about all these places, and had in my dreams gone there, but never been there. Well, these men -- then, Notre Dame was all male -- were my tickets to live a different life. Notre Dame was a most important developmental experience for me. If I had not gone to Notre Dame, if I'd gone to U of L, I would have probably been a good student, and gotten a good education. But I would have been rubbing shoulders with the very same people I'd rubbed shoulders with for all the years theretofore. At Notre Dame I was rubbing 62:00shoulders with men I would never have met otherwise. And not to say that if I'd gone to Harvard, or one of the Ivy League schools, or if I'd gone to Dayton, or gone to-- some other school that I -- Xavier, for example -- or one of the Loyolas, I might have had the same experience. But Notre Dame was, for all those many reasons, my boyhood dreams centered on Notre Dame. And it was just exactly what I needed. It was exactly what I needed and wanted and was nurtured by, and it's remained a force of influence. I met Father Hesburgh there, and Father Hesburgh remained as you know from reading about my immigration--
KC: Was he a student at the time, or was he teaching?
RLM: Father was the -- he was a young Holy Cross priest. He became president63:00when he was only 35 years old. When I got on campus in 1950, he was what was called the chaplain to "Vetville." There was a broad swath of the campus which is now with beautiful buildings. In those days it was just a sort of a flat stretch of Quonset hut type buildings, temporary type buildings, built during the war to house -- Notre Dame had a V-12 program where the Navy students came to study -- and parenthetically, some would say that the Navy is what kept Notre Dame in business, because without the Navy students, Notre Dame would have probably collapsed. However true that is I don't know, but I do know that Notre Dame continues to play Navy in football, and it's I believe the longest unbroken stretch of intercollegiate football. And people say, "Why do you play Navy?" Though Navy has beaten Notre Dame a couple of times in recent years, which hasn't been pleasant. But we beat -- except for Roger Staubach, going back to that era, we beat Navy regularly. Say why keep them on the schedule? Well, they say that they did because there was a debt that Notre Dame paid, continued to 64:00pay to Navy.
But that group of beat up buildings was where the veterans came back in the1950s after the war, lived with their families, and it was called Vetville. And Father Hesburgh was the chaplain to Vetville. And that's where we all knew him as a young, extraordinarily good-looking man, with extraordinary talents, and it wasn't long before the Holy Cross fathers deemed him to be the guy that should be the president to follow [John] Cavanaugh. So he became president of Notre Dame in 1952, my sophomore year, and was president for the next 35 years, which took him through my early years in Congress, where -- well, through my middle and later years in Congress, through the immigration bill, and we'll talk about 65:00that in due course as a most important shaper of the immigration bill, which continues to be on the books, known as Simpson-Mazzoli, but more formally as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
But anyway, Notre Dame was where I met Father Hesburgh and his friend and ally,Father Ned Joyce. The two of them were allies and young priests together, and one became president and one became the executive vice president. They both propelled Notre Dame from a good school to a great school, in those years. And it was my good fortune to have been there as Notre Dame made the turn from the good school into a school about to be deemed a great school, as it is today. One of the top schools in the nation. So I was on campus for that, and still go back to Notre Dame events.
I served on the alumni board -- we had what are called, Helen and I would callour "golden years," which were the years from 1981 to 1986, and that's when our two children Michael and Andrea were students at Notre Dame, and when I was a member of the alumni board at Notre Dame, and in 1986 -- excuse me, 1985, the year that Andrea and her future husband, Martin Doyle, were graduating, I was awarded an honorary degree, due to Father Hesburgh and the fact that we were working on immigration for all those years, and he thought that was an important issue to be identified with Notre Dame and with the person whose career pretty much centered around that.
KC: What year was the honorary degree?
RLM: And my earned degree was 1954, but my honorary was 1985. And it was, youcan imagine how emotional, because I'm looking out at this sea of faces, and Andrea and Martin were there, so to be-- so we celebrate 1985 as a pretty special year. The kids got married the year later, in 1986, but in 1985 they both graduated. I was with Martin just this morning at an event for our granddaughter Courtney, the second of their two girls, who is an aspiring actress, so we were at a fundraising event for Walden School. Walden Theater, which is where she attends.
KC: So you graduate from Notre Dame in 1954, and the next task in front of youis military service? Did you enlist, or were you drafted, or?
RLM: Let me go back, one very quick thing. I was drafted. Go back to Notre Damefor one thing. Notre Dame is known for a lot of reasons: for its spirituality; 66:00for its dedication to the Blessed Virgin; for its lengthy history, 1846 is when it was founded, in the middle of the barrens of northern Indiana, the windswept cold area of northern Indiana; it's also known for its residentiality. Notre Dame has always been a residential campus, and this is the same way at Harvard and Yale and some of the other Ivies. It's -- when you go on campus, you never leave campus. Four years you spend in some hall, some dorm, some place. And if there's anything that left a hallmark on me, along with a good education, at Notre Dame and friendships with people like Father Hesburgh, is the residential character. When you're living with men -- in those days -- you're living in the closest of situations, where you become brothers. You have this band of brothers. You can't be closer than to those. The affiliation was as close as a blood affiliation. And that has stayed with me the whole time. I think that that also planted some seeds in my head about doing something with my life that would 67:00allow me to be part of a larger setting. And that's what Notre Dame -- we broke down into halls, a couple hundred guys, probably, living in a hall. But then there was a broader community. So I think the same way in politics, it's a small constituency, but you have a broader opportunity to help.
But I graduated, and probably late May or June of 1954 came home -- in themeantime the Korean War of course had broken out, and some of the guys were actually drafted from the campus. Some of them actually were taken away from campus, and didn't have a chance to graduate with their class. In my case I graduated with my class but within, I believe 30 days or 45 days, I was standing 68:00tall at Fort Knox as part of the U.S. Army. Not willingly, at all, I had not wanted to do that, but it became one of the transformative experiences of my life.
For one thing, there was another element of -- now I had been moved to a largerstage going from St. James going to St. X, St. X going to Notre Dame. But talk about a broader stage still, was the U.S. Army, where -- get back to the idea of the segregated community that I lived in: realistically, St. X was primarily white, we had a couple of black students, not many; Notre Dame was primarily white, we had black students, but not a lot of them. You get into the Army, of course President Truman had desegregated the Army many years earlier. So you're in the barracks, and I'm talking about no cubicles, no privacy, I mean you're talking about an open shower stall area, you're talking about open latrine 69:00areas, open barracks, the living area, the sleeping area, with guys that you never would have ever been with before in your life. And that was also a wonderful transformative experience for me, to just be with guys and say, "Well, you know, I never lived with a black guy before." I'd never had that experience. I'd never lived with a guy from say West Virginia, who was just a high school guy. We were college graduates by that time.
So this was a place where I once again learned a lot about people, and aboutmyself. You know, how could I function -- I wasn't, as I mentioned before, all that greatly athletic, I wasn't a warrior type by nature, but I learned how to 70:00field strip a weapon, I learned how to put that baby together under a blanket where I couldn't see the parts, but I had to feel them. I learned how to polish a boot until it could be used as a mirror. I learned how to press and learned how to sew, and learned how to march. Learned how to do pull-ups -- anyway, it was teaching Ron Mazzoli some really interesting lessons. But --
KC: All of this is at Fort Knox?
RLM: Well, not all of it, but that was part of it. That was your first eight,your basic training. To teach you how to be a soldier: how to march, how to clean a weapon, how to break a weapon down, put it together again, how to shoot it, how to handle the basic skills you have to have to be a soldier. Then they moved you to another eight week program, depending on what you want -- sometimes 71:00you became a cook, sometimes you became truck driver, or a mechanic. Sometimes, like in my case, they sent me to Fort Benjamin Harrison -- excuse me, after basic training of eight weeks, there was like a second eight, where they -- at Fort Knox -- where they taught you basic office skills: typing, filing, things like that. Pretty basic stuff, nothing big time. But I think they took those of us who had been to college and probably moved us somewhat into that category. So you have the first eight of basic training, second eight of a little more specialized, and then for those of us I guess who may have done pretty well there, they sent us to -- for six months to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis at that time, to learn to become stenographers. And that's the Gregg shorthand.
Now, as a stenographer you could have been sent to anyplace to become theamanuensis for a general, and sat there all day long taking letters and doing morning reports and you know, going slowly nuts. Or, as in my case, after I 72:00finished at Benjamin Harrison, and did very well, like I did at Notre Dame. I mean, I was a hardworking student, learned shorthand, studied it carefully. They sent me to Alaska to basically do reports of courts martial proceedings. Now, not the general, which is where if a soldier does really a terrible misdeed, you could lose your life, but in the summary and special, the lower two categories, where you have soldiers doing misdemeanors and sort of lesser offenses. And there had to be somebody to take the transcript, so that some judge, some military judge, could read the transcript and say, "Did they rule correctly in giving this guy thirty days in the brig, or dropping him one pay rank or something like that."
KC: So like a court reporter?
RLM: It was a court reporter; I was a court reporter in courts martial, that'sright. And so I spent the year in Alaska at Fort Benjamin Harrison, doing courts martial, listening to law, being around military lawyers, transcribing those cases, looking into briefing books, studying the Uniform Code of Military Justice to see -- you know, because they refer to certain code references. And, to quickly move the story forward, when I got back home to Louisville, and of course, still, it was expected that I would work with my father in the business, using my degree from Notre Dame. I would have a two-year absence because of the Army. But that would be the plan. But when I got back home, not far from UofL, because my dad's shop was within just a couple of minutes, four or five minutes from the University's campus, the Belknap Campus. I'd been around the law, and there was such a thing called law school, so I said, "Well maybe I could apply for law school." So I did, and in 1958 -- 1957, I got out of the Army in '56, was there from '54 to '56. Got out of the Army in '56 and then spent a year 73:00working with Dad, while I was getting myself sort of organized in my thinking, and then entered law school in '57. And then graduated in 1960. I would not have gone to law school, Kevin, had I not had that Army experience, so it taught me, it moved me into my career. Like I was saying before a little bit, when I was at Notre Dame my gaze was not on the business world. And probably when I worked with my father that one year after the Army, my gaze was probably not on the business. I wish it had been. I wish I had really been able to help Dad better than I did. I felt bad about that later that --
KC: [Interrupting] He must have been very proud of you and your career.
RLM: Well, he was, Kevin, and that made up for it. You know, I want to tell anincident, when I was in the state Senate, that's yet ahead, but involving my father. But in any event, the Army was what then allowed me to say, "This is really what I want to do. I think the law is really something important." And so I graduated in 1960. And then Helen and I married in 1959 and we lived in this little apartment house, until as I mentioned before the kids came, then we moved to 937 Ardmore Drive. But the experience of law school was very important, and once again met a lot of friends and did very well, I --
KC: [Interrupting] Any influential professors while you were at UofL, orparticular courses, with an eye toward what your eventual career is going to be? I mean that would have influenced you? [Both speak at the same time]
RLM: The other day I was asked at -- I got out of law school fifty years ago,and so they had a fifty year reunion -- just last week -- and I was designated to carry out, along with Charlie Oberst, who is a medical doctor, also fifty years out of medical school, the two of us presented this check for three million dollars, actually, to the University of Louisville, which was the class gift, the class of 1960 -- engineering school, medical school, law school, undergraduate programs, the whole bit. And I was asked as part of that to remember a little bit about law school and the only thing I could remember about law school was how damn tough Future Interests were, and Taxation. I had to take those two courses to graduate and they were terrible. So the only things I can remember, not the courses I did well in, but I wound up first in the class, so I must have done decently well. But the ones that I did absolutely abysmally in, and those were the two of them.
The other thing I remember are some memorable professors. Our dean was AbsalomRussell, and I think there was a great book -- I've forgotten who was it, Absalom My Son, it was a great, it is a great Biblical name. But Ab Russell was one of these fellows who lived in aphorisms. He had one for every occasion. He was always talking about, "have to have a peg to hang your hat on," you got to give the jury and the court and the panel if there's a panel of jurists, give them a peg to hang their hat on. Which means, give them a fact, give them a law, give them a citation, a reference, and then they can hang their hat on it and give you the verdict. And he was also a saying about "going up the gum stump." I guess in the country where he came from -- and I don't think he was from Kentucky, I think he was from one of the southern states. He had this wonderful southern melodious accent. But talking about going up the gum stump. Which is chasing something, and you put them up on the gum stump and they can't get away. You got them sort of isolated or cornered. 74:00
And I remember Larry Knowles who taught Future Interests, which just devastatedme, but it turned out, probably fittingly enough, that Larry and I became colleagues when I joined the UofL, the Brandeis School of Law as a faculty member, he was still on the faculty. So here's this young guy -- he must have been just a kid -- I think he went to Rutgers Law School, I know he came from New Jersey. And I think that Larry must have been, probably still in his twenties when he had us, you know when he taught us this Future Interests thing. And so anyway, I always used to tell Larry, I said, he had many wonderful and peculiar talents. I think the term is "oenophile" who, a person who understands wine, is a real connoisseur of and understands wine: how you make it, how you savor it, how you drink it. And he's an oenophile. And he's also I think it was 75:00called a-- I'll get the word, but it's like "terramachus," which is a term for a person who loves bull fighting. He goes to Spain -- he's still alive, bless his soul -- and he got a place in Costa Rica, which is where he mostly lives. But in any event, I think it's "terramachia" -- but it has something to do, the root word is with bulls and bull fighting, and so I always said, "In addition to future interests, which I was above my pay grade," I said, "you also know wine, you know bull fighting," I said, "you're a man for all seasons." [Laughs.] But anyway, Larry Knowles, a good guy.
But as for courses that directed me into politics, no -- I will say this, therewas one of my friends -- in those days you didn't have the bar prep courses. Two things prepared me for the bar: one was a judge Lawrence Grauman, who taught trial practice in our senior year. And Lawrence Grauman really was not teaching 76:00trial practice, he was teaching a bar prep course. He was synthesizing these three years of separate studies in different torts, and property and this and that, and pulling them together as a body of law. And then the bar examiners would of course put questions together. And when I went to Frankfort to take the bar exam, I told Judge Grauman many times thereafter, I actually saw his face -- and he had very distinctive voice -- "I saw your face and that distinctive voice coming up out of the bluebook that we had to take the exam in." And so it -- he was an influence on that. And he was political in a sense, and that may have been part of it.
The other one was Pat Dixon. We studied in our basement, so two things preparedme for the bar: one was taking Judge Grauman's course and the other thing was 77:00Pat Dixon, Don Logsdon and I -- the Three Musketeers -- studied in my mother's basement for weeks and weeks in preparation for the bar exam. And so those were the things that prepared me. And Pat Dixon then had laid out for himself a political career. It didn't come to fruition because Pat died at a relatively early age and didn't really have a chance to see it all the way through, but I may have had some inkling on that.
KC: [?] that's okay.
KC: Yes, this is Kevin Collins, and we've had a ten minute pause on thisrecording of Friday, May 14, 2010 and we'll now pick up the interview again. Congressman, we left off with your graduation from law school, is that right?
KC: And that was in 1960?
KC: And so, what was your -- when you get out of law school, what were yourambitious at that time, and -- probably to find a job, I would assume.
RLM: Well, actually, I had three opportunities. In my senior year, you sort doa, you sort of start looking around for what will you do once law school is ended. I had done some clerking for a local law firm during my law school years, just a little bit of brief work. It turned out that the same firm that I had clerked with became a very much larger firm in the process of my congressional career. So when I came back home in '95, I did join that law firm, so there was a certain amount of the circle closing. I clerked with them in 1958 or '59, and then joined them as a member of the firm in 1995.
But as far as the job, it was working with the -- I had three choices. One wasto clerk for a federal judge, one was to teach at what is now part of Northern Kentucky University, their law school, but it was then called Salmon Chase School. And it was in Cincinnati in the basement of the YMCA building. So I had 78:00a clerk career, a teaching career, or I could have joined the L&N Railroad Company in their law department -- that's the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, in their law department. And so, this was 1960, Michael had been born, kids were coming, bills had to be paid etc., and so after talking things over with Helen, I took the job with the L&N Railroad Company.
KC: And what was the name of the firm at that time?
RLM: Well, it was --
KC: Wait -- it was the L&N, it was the law department of the L&N Railroad. RLM:79:00Exactly right. It's what you call -- yeah, it was the law department of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company. And you know, if I get to back up on that though Kevin, in 1960-- I got out of law school in 1960-- Yeah, Helen, that's what it was. Michael had not been born; Michael was not born until 1960-- Terrible, my god, I'm getting a little bit punchy here. But I think that Mike was born in 1960, and Andrea was born in '63. That's it, that's it. So, does that tally up? Okay, that's all right.
But in any event, after talking things over with Helen, it was decided by ourjoint vote that I should join the L&N Railroad Company because it was, I think it was the grand total of about $7,000 a year, but it was steady money, and it was something that we could predict and count on, and with the kids coming it gave us that little bit of insurance. Helen had been teaching during my senior year of law school, but she couldn't teach anymore now because she was pregnant, 80:00so. It was a wonderful thing that happened. I would have probably enjoyed clerking with the judge, he was a good man. I would have probably enjoyed teaching, but happily, without my knowing it, I came back to teaching after I came back from Washington. I taught at the law school here for a few years and so I was able to actually get back in to teaching at a later point in my life.
But working with the L&N was very important, and not just because it had acertain stipend connected with it. That was really incidental. The most important thing -- there were three lawyers who were just extremely influential in my life. One of them was Elbert Leigh, L-E-I-G-H, who was one of the attorneys that did a lot of work in Washington. He was one of the travelling attorneys. And in those days, everything the railroad did, everything, from the time the railroad got out of bed in the morning, until the time the railroad turned off the lights at night, everything had to be cleared with the Interstate Commerce Commission, the famous "ICC." And the ICC was the constant companion of all the railroad companies of America. It permitted them or it did not permit them to do everything that they did. So Elbert Leigh was the one lawyer who was constantly going back and forth to Washington, and I was designated from time to time to go with Elbert, so I learned a lot about Washington, had some of my early experiences with looking at these major buildings. I'd never been to Washington but once earlier as a student. Had a chance to take part in these really amazing proceedings that took place in these amazingly ornate rooms in 81:00what they called the Federal Triangle. And so he was very important and he gave me a chance to be a part of the action a bit.
The other two lawyers, one was Joe Lenihan, whose sister just passed away theother day. Joe has been dead himself for some time. Joe Lenihan was an assistant solicitor -- they had these very archaic terms for the railroad lawyers, they called them solicitors, and you know, almost like the Inns of Court in London. But Joe was not only an extraordinarily talented railroad lawyer, he was just a remarkable human being. A devoted, religious man; a devoted family man; he and his sister -- Joe did never marry, but he was devoted to his extended family. He taught all of us who were the railroad lawyers of that era a lot about how to 82:00practice railroad law, but even more than that how to write, how to research, how to put words on paper that were persuasive, how to put words on paper that were properly chosen, grammatically correct, syntactically correct. He was what I would say in the perfect sense of the word a wordsmith. He knew words, and he knew law. And he was such a genuinely decent, wonderful, affable human being that he just made it all very attractive. He worked hand in hand, hand in glove with William Grubbs [spells Grubbs], who was the general counsel, he was the head lawyer. His son Billy and I still get together -- Bill Junior still practices law. And as the years have gone on he more and more resembles his dad, too, which is kind of interesting, but-- Mr. Bill Grubbs was a great -- as Joe, 83:00I mean these were two very religious men. Joe was Catholic, Bill Grubbs was a Protestant, but they were both men of deep faith, both men who practiced the biblical admonitions of be charitable to one another, love people, do good work, be honest, never try to pull a fast one. They were very, very strong railroad lawyers. They believed in the railroads. They did not believe in truck lines, they believed that railroads were the underpinning of America, and they would let everybody know it. And they let the ICC know it. But they were wonderful teachers. And so I have a revered book in my library at home, which I'm going to give to UofL, written by Mr. Grubbs, a book about Jesus, and in it he inscribes it to me, which I treasure very much. But he taught me a lot about how to write, 84:00as did Joe Lenihan, and just how to be a person of faith who also is a person of the world. And the two of them connected. They were both men of faith, deep of faith, and men of the world, deeply involved in the affairs of the world. And sometimes, they say the twain don't meet, you're one or you're the other. They proved you could be both.
KC: How long were you with the railroad as an attorney.
RLM: Very brief time, only two years. I learned a lot in those two years, but Iguess the part that I learned about that was that while -- being with the 85:00railroad was like being a civil servant in the federal government, which is to say, you would always have a job. You would never be without a job. On the other hand, the processes were as slow as a glacier -- [laughs] glacially slow. The movement, the process. And I could look ahead to see that it would be years upon years upon years before I would be doing a great deal differently than what I was then doing. And I guess I was impatient, impetuous, just like our -- we'll talk at some time about running three political races in three years, basically. I guess I was -- I keep saying, sort of young and crazy. I never found myself to be ambitious. In fact, I think that probably one of my problems in life was not being ambitious enough. But I guess I must have been looking ahead at the L&N to see that it would be pretty long before much different would happen, and it wasn't an uncomfortable feeling at all. I mean, something is there, and I fit into it very nicely, they thought I had talent.
KC: But it did expose you to life in Washington, DC and political life inWashington, DC.
RLM: It did, and it came... You know, John Kennedy was elected in 1960, the yearthat I joined the L&N Railroad was that election year. So I would go up there with Elbert Leigh on and off for the next two years, and we would sit at the veranda of the Washington Hotel on 17th Street, and look over the Treasury Building into the backyard of the White House. And here is Camelot, you know I'm kind of witnessing Camelot! So as I told you before, and as we get into more detail about the start of my political career, John Kennedy fit into that. You 86:00know, the fact that here's a young guy, 43 years old, burst onto the scene, and I'm sort of part of it, vicariously, looking in, looking over the Treasury Building into the White House grounds. It obviously planted a seed in my head, which gestated for a while, but then it eventually came to pass.
KC: It seems like the experiences from grade school on up go in a circular kindof way, expanding and expanding and expanding, and then your military service, and then your railroad service, or your railroad employment. At this time, it still hasn't dawned on you that you might be interested in a political career.
RLM: To the best of my knowledge, Kevin, I can't. Maybe Helen can fill in somegaps, maybe I said something to her that indicated I was thinking of politics earlier than I believe I did. But I can't remember thinking anything that this would be my life. It was interesting and fascinating and I was really aware of what potential there was in a public setting to do things for people, to be of 87:00influence. But I can't really put my finger on it, except for that day, the fateful day I guess, in 1967, when I walked past Democratic headquarters, which was then down on Fourth and Main, between Main and the river. Between Market and the river. And past by Democratic headquarters, it was just a storefront, and walked in and introduced myself to the lady behind the counter, and asked this fairly sophomoric question, you know, "How do you get to be in politics?" And she told me, the people you had to check with, the things you had to do, write letters, get their support, and then you'd be the candidate of the party. I did all those things, however, they didn't find me to be the proper person at the proper time, and so they endorsed another guy, another fellow, who is a good man, and still alive, I believe. Whose son I know is practicing law still.
So then it was up to Helen and me to decide do we want to pursue something likethat, do we want to take on what some would call a Quixotic battle against the 88:00establishment. Understand neither one of us had ever been in politics before. It was really a sort of, almost bizarre to think that we could take on the party with all its knowledge of campaigning and things like that, and actually win. But maybe John Kennedy, maybe the odds, there were odds against him to be elected president against Richard Nixon, and may have been just, it was fun. A way you can have fun, because the Camelot people all seemed to have fun. They threw footballs on Cape Cod, and -- I'm terrible, I can't think of it, but the family compound at Hyannis Port.
KC: Hyannis Port.
RLM: Yeah, you know, and they're throwing footballs and they're sailing, andthey're looking like, God it can be a lot of fun. Well, you're president, attorney general -- great fun.
KC: Well, we'll do a tape on campaigning, and do that pretty soon, so we'llprobably, if you help to remind me, pick it up there, when you walk into the Democratic headquarters in 1967.
So just to finish up for today, anyway, you finish as a railroad lawyer about1962, and most of the work that you do involves the ICC and the law department for Louisville and Nashville railroad?
RLM: I didn't really practice a case, I was always assisting somebody else. Iwould do the research and the writing and do some of the legal brief 89:00preparation. And in the case of Elbert Leigh I would accompany him on to Washington, not constantly, but often, and when he would then actually make the oral presentation, and do that sort of thing. So I was there as somewhat of an acolyte I guess you'd say to the established railroad lawyers. I have one wonderful thought -- because the railroads were very frugal. A matter of fact, they would never let us fly to Washington, we had to take the trains out there. And since L&N was a freight line, we had to use either the C&O -- Chesapeake and Ohio -- or the B&O -- the Baltimore and Ohio. And we'd take these overnight sleepers and then wind up at Union Station in Washington and then begin our day.
But frugality was the name of the game for the railroads. They didn't wasteanything, they didn't give money away. And I remember going up to Washington once with a fellow named Wray Henriott, who's passed away, but Wray was one of those railroad lawyers who went to the ICC quite often, I traveled with him once. So it came time for lunch, and so Wray said, "Do you want to have lunch?" I said, "Yeah, sure." So then we took off after out of this thing, and started 90:00walking, we walked for a block or so and saw this very nice restaurant, and I thought he would stop, well he kept walking. We kept going, and we passed another one, another block or so, and passed another very nice looking kind of restaurant, and kept going, and kept going. And the long story short, eventually he made a bee-line into an F.W. Woolworth, a Woolworth store that had a lunch counter. So here we are, two railroad lawyers sitting at a lunch counter having the blue plate special, whatever the heck it was. And I'll never forget that. I mean, we walked and walked and walked because he was finding the cheapest place. Chances are that's the only thing the L&N permitted him to spend was you know, a couple of bucks per lunch [laughing]. But anyway, I thought that was cool, the fact that you had to take the train -- couldn't take the air -- couldn't fly, and that you'd find the cheapest meals that you could find. [Laughs.] That was pretty funny.
KC: You finish up with L&N law department about 1962, and then what's your next employment?
RLM: I went to work with a law firm at Fourth and Broadway in the buildingthat's been since imploded, but it was the Commonwealth Life Insurance Building, and I worked with Jerry Lloyd, L-l-o-y-d, who later worked together with Fred Goldberg. So it was Goldberg and Lloyd, originally Lloyd and then it became Goldberg and Lloyd. But, a small law firm. It did a lot of collection work. They did a lot of small claims work. Fred was sort of into corporate work. He's got a big, big law firm now. Huge law firm in Louisville. But in those days it was pretty small. And I joined them and what I got was office space, the use of a part-time secretary who later came with me to the federal service, Miss Gagliardi, Vickie Gagliardi was at that law firm. So I got a part use of a legal secretary, use of the equipment, a small office, and for which I could, I had to 91:00carry papers back and forth, file their papers, make appearances to get court dates assigned, and things of that nature. And if I could get any cases of my own, they could be my own. I could have these small cases. So that was my entry into the practice of law, where I was able to earn some money with getting business of my own, writing some wills, doing a little individual personal injury work, collection work. But in the meantime, my primary function was to serve the other lawyers in that office by making sure that all the papers got to the courthouse on time.
I could pick things up, drop things off, get court assignments, and so that wasmy job from 1962 until 1968, when I took office as a state senator. So that was through 1967, which was the election year. In 1968, because I was spending more 92:00time in Frankfort it didn't work out. Then one of the guys from the law firm and I went in the same building, either up some floors or down some floors, I'd have to look at the stationery. I think it would be on the stationery that brought in here. But anyway, we opened up a little law office, Jim Woodson and Ron Mazzoli, and that's where I was from roughly 1968 until I wound up being elected to Congress in 1970. And then just left the practice of law entirely. So from 1962 until roughly '68 I was with Goldberg and Lloyd, from '68 to '70,
Woodson and Mazzoli, and then from 1970, out of law entirely. Out of lawpractice. I don't have any memorable recollections of the law, I didn't handle any major cases. I wasn't involved in any court trials of note. I might back up 93:00just a little bit, that when I was in that-- in 1962, Judge Grauman, I mentioned Judge Grauman as one of my mentors when I came to the bar exam. Lawrence Grauman, also as a sitting circuit judge could appoint what are called "guardians ad litem." And a guardian ad litem represented people who couldn't represent themselves, people who were incarcerated, people who had been committed to mental institutions. And so he could appoint guardians ad litem to them. Appear at hearings to determine the mental state of an individual, and whether or not that person could stand trial, was compos mentis. So for each one of those, my recollection was I think it paid $25. But for us it was like manna from heaven, for Helen and me, because I could drive out Whipps Mill Road, or 94:00LaGrange Road, or something like that -- in those days it was like in the middle nowhere. But there was what's called Central State Hospital, which is in Lakeland, that's where the people where who were arrested maybe, or whose parents or wives or friends felt that they were not mentally stable. And that's where they went. And then there was eventually going to be a hearing to see should they be released, or should they be kept for further treatment. And that's where I showed up. And so, I credit Judge Grauman with having helped Helen and me earn a little pin money for the kids and for ourselves, while I was at the same time doing a little bit of work with Goldberg and Lloyd and with Woodson and Mazzoli. And also I did clerk, as I mentioned. So there were a few 95:00jobs -- I said earlier, not correctly, that I had no job prior to the L&N except with my father. There was that clerkship that I had for -- a couple of different clerkships.
KC: Well perhaps we should wrap it up, but briefly, reminiscences of the timeyou taught at Bellarmine?
RLM: Oh, those were wonderful times. I succeeded Henry Schoo, S-c-h-double-o.Henry was a longtime teacher of the business law course at Bellarmine, but his practice developed better, and he needed the time. I'm not sure exactly how I heard about the job, but I think I heard about it from Henry himself. And so I applied to Bellarmine and they accepted me as a teacher in the night school, of 96:00business law. And so I taught from, I think I taught from 19-- probably somewhere in the vicinity of '63, '64 until I went to the state Senate. So about three or four years [?] I was teaching a business law course. And to this day, men come up to me -- because it was almost an all-male school then, and mostly a male class -- and say, "You don't remember me, Mr. Mazzoli, but" -- and then they'll say, "Well, you taught me business law." And so, even now it's nice to hear from the guys.
But it was important for one thing: I probably learned a little bit aboutbusiness law, which probably wasn't harmful. But mostly, prior to that time, I had not really done any public speaking of any particular note. I had been involved in club activities, and I'd probably been on my feet in the classrooms and stuff like that, but basically, truthfully, I'd never done public speaking. 97:00Well here I had a class to manage. I had to develop the syllabus. I had to conduct the evening program. I had to set forth and give them some idea of what lay ahead. I had to also field questions, answer questions that I might not have been prepared to answer. Try to answer them in ways that they could understand. And answer them correctly. So I think that it probably was one of the most important preparations for me for what later became my career, which was public service, where you have to be on your feet. You have to give statements. You have to show plausibly why you voted for this or plausibly why you voted against that. You have to be able to convince people. You have to be able to persuade them, if you're running for office. And you have to do it most of the time on 98:00your feet, most of the time on display. And so here was a situation where I really did have to do that. And did that when sometimes sweat was pouring off my face -- you can't rub it off, it's a sign of weakness. Sweat's running down my shoulder blades. You can't try to, you know, rub yourself. You can't do it. You have to just endure it. There are times when you're speaking as if a bucket is over your head, like it's going nowhere. All you hear is that resonance coming back. You say, "Good God, why am I here?" So I credit those Bellarmine years as being very, very, very formative for me in the career path that later emerged in '67.
So I was teaching before this crystal of an idea that might have been planted in1960 by John Kennedy, might have been planted at the Hotel Washington, on the veranda having a drink looking over into the White House grounds, it might have been planted by Pat Dixon in my mother's basement as we studied for the bar exam 99:00and he was going through his wonderful plotting and scheming of how he was going to be a politician of note. He would have been, if he had lived long enough, because he was a very talented guy. But one way or the other, this teaching was done prior to that moment, that eureka moment, when I said, "Yes I'm going to be running for office." So it was the prep for it, though, and prep in a very, very special way.
KC: Well, it's been a fascinating session on this first tape, and I just wantedto ask you if there was anything we haven't covered that you'd like to mention before we close this session out.
RLM: Two very quick things: one is, going back to Notre Dame. Here is Ron100:00Mazzoli from the state of Kentucky, which for many of the guys who came from Massachusetts or Connecticut, or New York, or New Jersey, they say, "Kentucky? God, that must be some wild, terrible place. I mean, the hinterlands of Kentucky--" Anyway, I was considered sort of a person from the country, though Louisville was anything but a country city, even in those days. But Kentucky, they looked down, "Do you wear shoes?" Anyway, I said, "I really need to get back at those guys, these big city fellows, you know, these sophisticated eastern seaboard guys, these sophisticated New Englanders." So when I got to Notre Dame, maybe not the first year, but soon, I brought my old Victrola with a 78 speed and my big vinyl discs of--not, though I love Pavarotti, Pavarotti hadn't come on the scene in those days. My dad was a great opera fan, we used to listen to the Metropolitan Opera of the air every Saturday. He loved Italian opera. No, none of that. I brought Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and I brought Hank Williams, among other of the -- so bluegrass music and that early real country music, not this real sophisticated 101:00popular country music. And I would play those records of a Saturday night and I know I was driving those New Englanders and the New Yorkers and the New Jerseyites crazy with this music that was dissonant -- you know, they'd never heard music like that. So, I figured that if they were going to consider me to be sort of a countrified fellow that came from a state that wasn't really a state at all, it didn't really exist, it was where the poorest of the poor people lived or something, I was going to pay them back little with that. The other thing has to do with Fort Knox, and that is that my field sergeant, there was a 19-year-old kid -- we were 21, he was younger than we were. He had been, he was in the Korean War, came out of the hills of West Virginia. Perhaps a high school graduate, maybe not. Went to Korea, came back with a combat infantry 102:00badge. A real soldier. He had his -- all his clothes were crisply pressed and he was just a real-- Well, we got to those barracks, the platoon, and he was our platoon sergeant, and he was -- I would, and to his face later because we became friends, and close friends later on in life. But I called him "Caligula incarnate." I called him "the return of Attila the Hun." He was just, I thought, the meanest of the mean guys. He would take -- in those days we'd have two floor barracks, no air conditioning, no nothing -- and he would fall us in, fall us out, run down to the company street, assemble, run back into your barracks, stand by your bunk. Then he'd blow the whistle and we'd run back down those steps out to the company street. Anyway, back and forth, back and forth. It was Mickey Mouse with capital M's, but it was meant -- I didn't know it at the time -- it was meant to teach us how to be soldiers. And in the process, teach us how 103:00to be men. And I mentioned earlier, I learned how to take a rifle apart under a blanket, I learned how to polish my boots so they could be a mirror, I learned how to sew, I learned how to iron and press, I learned how to march, I learned how to do a lot of things. But Sergeant Wade Damron. If there has ever been a more beautiful name for somebody, Wade Damron. You can just see him riding out of something -- just, perfect name. Well, Wade Damron was our sergeant. He was this young kid, flaming red hair, not a very tall man, but broad, strong. It turned out that we became friends in a kind of different way, because Wade, in later life, when I was in Congress, I asked the Army to look him up for me. He had retired by that time at Fort Jackson. We visited in Washington, he became a very prominent businessman in South Carolina. He and his wife Joanne -- and 104:00periodically we talk to Joanne -- Wade passed away. But we became friends, and he told me this wonderful story. He said, "Ron, you didn't know this, but I didn't have much of an education." He said, "I would be in my --" -- the sergeant had a little walled off part in the corner of the second floor of the barracks -- he said, "you didn't know, but I would sit there in my room, and I would listen to you guys talking, and I didn't always understand what you were saying. I didn't always know those words that you were using." And we were not that erudite that we were using huge words, we were just talking what possibly college graduates would normally be saying, and using the word structure that you would use. Nothing elaborate, but the normal stuff. But for him, it was like opening a door to a new world. And so Wade being the devoted soldier that he 105:00was, and being -- later he became a very prominent and successful businessman he became, and a wonderful father and husband -- hied himself up to the library at the top of the hill at Fort Knox, and started checking books out and started reading and started trying to figure out what was going on around him, beyond Army stuff. And as it turned out Kevin, he later earned his degree -- because I think it's University of Maryland has campuses on all these foreign posts -- so as Wade went around the world in his military career, he became the highest ranking non-commissioned officer you can be, like a command sergeant major. As he went around the world with the military, he would always take courses from the University of Maryland, earned his degree. Later when he and Joanne retired at Fort Jackson, and remained in South Carolina, then he was able to do things first with Blue Cross Blue Shield, then with his own logistics company. And like I mentioned we became great friends, he visited we had lunch in the Capitol many 106:00times on his visits to Washington. Flew his own airplane. I mean it was really quite interesting. And it all emerged from this second floor of the barracks at Fort Knox, where this young, 19-20 year old pugnacious kid was overhearing conversations that were being held in that same barracks area. I said, "Wade, you know it's interesting. You learned from us, right? You learned some words, and you were inspired to go learn more and you did. I learned from you." Because like I said, here was this monster who was moving us back and forth and screaming in our ear and in our face, and making us run up and down and in and out and dying on the vine. He'd open a locker, and if it wasn't just right, he'd tumble that damn locker over and you'd have to try to put all the stuff -- 107:00because you had where your socks went, where your underwear went, where the combs and brushes -- everything had to be absolutely in order. Your standing locker the same way. Clothes-- I said, "Wade, what you were telling us is how you've got to learn to live with people." Like I mentioned, we had African-Americans in the same room. You have to learn how to function as a team. You have to learn how to keep yourself neat and clean. You have to learn how to do jobs you don't necessarily want to do but they add to your storehouse of knowledge. You taught us how to function in unnatural terrain, like when you're crawling on your belly, and you know, they do simulated fire over your head. So he was teaching me how to be a man. He was teaching me things that I would never have learned except for him. And so, he learned from us, Kevin, and it was like 108:00a reciprocity. He learned from us, but we in turn learned from him.
From that experience, and of course later in my Army career I learned in thesense of learning the shorthand which then led me to my career and so-- I look at Wade Damron and we had many wonderful conversations in our lives thereafter, including once Helen and I went to South Carolina and stayed with him and with [Joanne.] And it turned out that the Army, which I said I was very much reluctant to get into [laughs] was a very important part of my life.
KC: He sounds like a remarkable fellow.
RLM: He was a remarkable man. I wish he were alive today, because I'm sure hewould love to be interviewed. Somewhere I'll find an Army picture of him. I know I have it. And you'll see in him that round face with that flaming red hair. He was one tough cookie, but he was a tough cookie in the right way.
KC: Well, I've appreciated you time and your memory, particularly.
RLM: Well, thank you Kevin, thank you very much.
KC: And I look forward to the next tape that we do.
RLM: Sounds very good. I appreciate it, you're a good man.
KC: Thank you.