Partial Transcript: This is November 19, Richard B. Russell Memorial Library; Sheryl Vogt and Orlean Castronis conducting an interview with Joel Cash Williams, former office staff member of Richard Russell...
Keywords: Chappaquiddick; Earl T. Leonard; Edward Kennedy; Proctor Jones; U.S. Senate; Winder, GA
Partial Transcript: What were some of the issues at this time, 1970 and '71?
Keywords: Appropriations Committee; Armed Services Committee; Cambodian incursion; G. Harrold Carswell; Lamar Sizemore; Mike Mansfield; President Richard Nixon; Stanley Kimmitt; Supreme Court nominations; U.S. Senate; Vietnam War
Partial Transcript: Along this same line, are you aware of many contacts he had with the White House during 1970 about Vietnam, or any conferences concerning that?
Keywords: AWOL; CIA budget; Department of the Interior; Elliot Hagan; Fort Pulaski; GA; Georgia; Georgia Port Authority; Herman Talmadge; Richard Helms; Savannah Port Authority; Savannah River; State Department; Vietnam War; case mail
Partial Transcript: In cases in which this would pertain to an individual, say, would the Senator sometimes get involved?
Keywords: Appropriations Committee; Department of HEW; Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; Elliot Richardson; Key West; O'Donnell's; Office of Education; Secretary of Defense; U.S. veterans
Partial Transcript: Going back to the activities, the Senator's--when we were on the staff, those of us who--when the Senator would go to the hospital, Proctor, Powell or Charles and I would go out there.
Keywords: Appropriations Committee; Armed Services Committee; C-5A; Drew Pearson; Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Herman Talmadge; Jack Anderson; Rohr Facility; William Proxmire; muckrakers
Partial Transcript: You worked with him during his last year, and it's perhaps only through hearsay or recollection by others would you know of his previous performance; could you tell that his illness affected his performance very much in the last year of his life?
Keywords: Camel cigarettes; Civil Rights; Herman Talmadge; Jack Daniels; Mercer University; OSHA; Occupational Safety and Health Act; President Richard Nixon; Republic of Taiwan; cancer; chemotherapy; emphysema; pneumonia; radiation therapy
Partial Transcript: The thing, of course, one of the things that toward the end there before he died, I went to see him--Then Governor [James Earl] Carter was--had been elected to the governorship and there was a big inauguration which was in January.
Keywords: "Cufflinks" Car; "Good Ole Boy" Jimmy; Atlanta Constitution; Ernie Vandiver; GA; Georgia; Harold Gullier; James Carter; Jody Powell; Reg Murphy; Sanders-Carter runoff
Partial Transcript: Going back almost a year prior to his death, which would have been shortly after you arrived in Washington, in February of 1970 there was something called Russell Week in Washington, in which Cox Broadcasting sponsored Richard Russell: Georgia Giant.
Keywords: Ina Russell Stacy; Modine Thomas; Patience Russell Peterson; Powell Moore; President Richard Nixon; Reverend Henry Edward Russell; Russell Research Center
Partial Transcript: But, the day we went over to the Research Center on that Saturday for the dedication, the Senator was still in awe because the governor had sent a state trooper out to lead them over to the Research Center.
Keywords: Coca Cola; FDIC; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Georgia Pacific; Senator Carl Sanders; the Great Depression
Partial Transcript: I was thinking back; we were talking about the sisters and how, the relationships from a staffer watching the sisters and brothers...
Keywords: Dr. George Parkerson; Fielding Russell; Ina Russell Stacy; Pat Russell Peterson; Richard B. Russell Foundation; Walter Reed Hospital; emphysema; pneumonia
Partial Transcript: We were talking about his family and Bobby Russell, about the fact that Bobby Russell was almost like a son and the way he treated us, and the fact that the staffers, those men on the staff were treated almost like grandchildren or children.
Keywords: Air Force One; Finance Committee of Richard B. Russell Foundation; Lawton Calhoun; Marjorie Meriwether Post; President Richard Nixon; Walter Reed Hospital
Partial Transcript: Thinking back about his liking to have young people around him, could you give us some insight into areas of your life in which you feel he influenced you...
Keywords: Clair Harris; Cliff Rutledge; Ernest Frederick Hollings; Fritz Hollings; Golda Meir; National League of Families; POW; President Richard Nixon; Russell Research Center; Vietnam War; Walter Reed Hospital; prisoners of war; shuttle diplomacy
VOGT: This is November 19,  Richard B. Russell Memorial Library;Sheryl Vogt and Orlean Castronis conducting an interview with Joel Cash Williams, former office staff member of Richard Russell, January through December---no, January 1970 through January 1971. Joel, suppose you start by telling us how you began working with Senator Russell.
WILLIAMS: I'm just looking through his file to find it. In 1969 Earl [T.]Leonard who was formerly Senator Russell's press secretary for a while asked me what I wanted to do. I had been with Arthur [Key] Bolton, who was attorney general at the time and still is, and I told Earl that I thought maybe I'd like to go to Washington and work for a senator; that that would be an interesting thing since I was single and had practiced law for a couple of years and would 00:01:00like to broaden my experience. So that was in the spring, and about July that year Earl called me and said that Charles [E.] Campbell had called him and said, of course, that there was a space coming open. Bill [William H.] Jordan was moving from the staff as executive secretary over to appropriations staff, and Charles wanted somebody else in there. Of course, Leeman [A.] Anderson had just died and that left sort of a gap in there. So Charles came down at the end of July to interview me and talk to me and seemed to think that I would fit into the staff. So then he set up a visit for me with Senator Russell when the senator was home in August, for the August recess. So it was still all tentative 00:02:00on Senator Russell approving of me. The rest of them had already given me some high recommendations apparently. So in August--I was looking through here to see, this is July 1969, in August of 1969, then I went over to Senator Russell's home in Winder and got there about, oh, early afternoon, mid- afternoon, I guess, and I see here he left on August 14 for Winder, so that must have been after that date when I went over there, I can't remember exactly. The senator was there and as usual--amazing enough it was sort of like the pope holding court because I waited in line, in that there were a bunch of people, farmers there in straw hats and overalls coming by just to say hi to him and he talked to them all. They'd wait out on the porch or in the car or something and he 00:03:00would see them and chat with them. Finally, I got to talk with him. Of course, I thought, well, it would be a cursory type interview since he would probably just say, "Charles is handling the thing," and "come on up." Well, of course, we sat down and started talking. Actually we talked about an hour and a half and Proctor [Jones] was there, of course, Proctor going in with him at all times there in the last years, and Proctor said afterwards and Charles did too, that the senator must have liked me because he spent that length of time with me. The main thing I remember from that day was that that was just after Chappaquiddick, and of course, the whole world was looking at [Edward M.] Kennedy and saying, 00:04:00"Well, that's the end of him." So I brought up this with the Senator, and said, "Senator, what do you think about Teddy Kennedy's chances of ever being president?" And little did I know those ten years later that Teddy Kennedy would be announcing for the presidency. But it was ironic that the Senator said, "You know, the American people have a great facility for forgetting." And he said, "They will forget and that won't be a hindrance to him at all, even though they'll bring it up, sure, and try to hurt him but they will forget." We'll see next year, but I think Senator Russell may have been very wise and very right in his foresight and in his knowledge of the American people. I can't recall what else we talked about that day. Of course, the Senator had the usual politician's capacity for making people at ease and yet avoiding the issue of whether he 00:05:00really knew your parents, grandparents, or anything like that, because he would, of course, if you said, "Well my grandfather was Cash Williams over in Dacula." "Of course, I know your family--yes, of course, of course." And he never did use the same type of thing as Senator [Herman Eugene] Talmadge of simply avoiding it by asking about some friend that he, Senator Talmadge knows in the city, you know and start--but Senator Russell would say, "Of course I know them," and go on and start talking about something else and not--I'm not sure whether he ever knew everybody that he claimed to know or not, but he was able to make people feel at ease. One of the things he said that day in August was "Joel, I don't know why you, a bright young attorney, why you would want to come and work for me." And I went--I almost fell off my chair. I thought, "My God, you know, man, 00:06:00you're the number one senator in the United States and probably the most powerful man up there on Capitol Hill, and the opportunity just to sit around and watch what you're doing and everything--" But, you know, I said, "Well, Senator, I, you know, would like to come work for you, and it would be a great opportunity. It'd be a lot of fun and I enjoy working with people." And he said, "Well," he said, "Joel, why don't you do this?" He said, "Come up," he said, "Come up, maybe in October and take a look around and see how you like Washington, and if you still want to come," he said, "Then, you know, just tell Charles and you can come." He said, "Now, I know Arthur Bolton is only paying you about $12,000 here, but I'll pay you $14,500 as your starting salary if you'll come. "And I said, "Well, that's fine with me." Of course, $14,500 in 1969 was a lot of money for someone that had only been out of law school for 00:07:00only a couple of years though. And that became a bone of contention, not in an animosity type way. But Charles for a year there kidded me about that I was the highest starting salaried person that Senator Russell had ever hired because he said, "You know," says, "I only make $17,000 and you were paid $14,000 starting off." And, of course--also, Senator Russell liked football and football players and he always thought that I was a football player. He was always impressed with size and he never--he never failed that when he referred to me to Charles and Proctor, it was never Joel, it was "that big boy." (laughs)
CASTRONIS: Do you think that he took this interest in hiring all of his staffmembers; I know yours was a more important position, but, say, a clerk or typist 00:08:00came in?
WILLIAMS: No, the thing was that he generally--well, of course, I only know fromhearsay how the office was run before I got up there. But Marge [Marjorie Grover] Warren was, of course, a very domineering individual from all I've heard and from having met her. She sort of ruled things with an iron fist there before I came, and every Senate or House office generally has a chief dragoness. Marge was the chief dragoness at that time. And for the other--well, for the persons that were going to be working closely with him, yes, I think that he probably took more time in talking with them, than he did with say the clerk-typist type. 00:09:00In fact, Charles, his administrative assistant during the time I was there, always interviewed and basically hired all the case workers and secretaries. And then, in turn, would take them in to meet Senator Russell. He would set it up so that the Senator would know who they were and sort of prep him, because the Senator would be totally, totally at loss of words to talk to somebody, you know, in a short trivial conversation unless somebody had primed him on what he could talk about. So generally Charles would set it up, go in and tell the Senator, "Now, Senator, you know--this is Dorothy Whosely and she's been over on the House side, and she's a good cook, and she's been working with congressman so and so, and when she comes in, she's very nice and everything." The Senator 00:10:00always liked the attractive ladies, and when there was an opportunity to bring in somebody, and they said, "Senator, here comes that--this lady is very attractive. You'll enjy talking with her, and she's very bright." And so he was always, you know, very anxious to find out about them and talk with them. But he would talk with them just for a few minutes if they were coming on and tell them that he would enjoy working with them. Yet, very few times after that would they ever see him. Basically, he would come in through the outer office, sometimes into the reception area and then come through our office into his office. But mainly he would enter the door straight from the hall of the Senate Office Building into his office and would never come through all the back offices. The 00:11:00way it was set up was such that those people would probably never see him unless he made a special effort to come out there. On his birthday, before he--well in 1970, on his birthday in 1970, I think he was going in the hospital, or was about to go in the hospital, and he was feeling very ill, but he did come out then for they had a birthday cake for him and everything. But--and once when, there in the final months, when his emphysema was getting to him and he was having a very difficult time walking because he'd walk a few yards and would lose all semblance of breathing, the doctor, the admiral who was at the chief physician for all the senators, ordered him a little power cart that--I don't 00:12:00know whether you have any pictures here of him on his power cart--but ordered him this little yellow power cart. The first day he got it he delighted the whole staff back in the back offices by riding in and riding all the way through and he was like a kid with a toy--he wanted to show them all how the thing operated so (laughs)-- But with the exception of those special occasions, or with the exception of when someone had written a letter--some of the case workers had written a letter which he either didn't agree with or wanted more information on, normally one they didn't see him and two well--he was always busy and going back and forth to the Capitol. Generally he stayed over in the Capitol in his hideaway office which Lyndon [Baines] Johnson had purloined for him after--I don't know whether somebody else has probably told this story, but 00:13:00as I understand it, when the Senator--Lyndon Johnson, when the Capitol was enlarged, the extension of the Capitol provided a lot of hideaway offices and Johnson, being then the vice-president in the early sixties, had this office--palatial type thing with a shower and a hideaway kitchen and a sofa long enough to make into a bed, so that he could stay over there and on the floor. When he was majority leader, sorry, when he became vice-president, he didn't want--he did not want Mike [Michael J.] Mansfield or any of the others to get his office, so he gave it to the Senator, and the Senator got that office then. 00:14:00So the Senator stayed in that hideaway office most of the day and he would come in the late afternoon over to the Senate Office Building. John Wardlaw would pick him up and drive him over. Of course, he loved that--he dearly loved that limousine. That was one of the few things, for a man of simple tastes, that was one of the few things he really enjoyed, was being chauffeured around by John. But--
VOGT: Now he didn't have the limousine until he was president pro tem.
WILLIAMS: He became president pro tem, he got the limousine, and he thought hewas something, I'll tell you (laughs). That was one of the things that he enjoyed. He didn't enjoy anything else about being president pro tem, other than the honor of it and having the limousine. As far as having to open the Senate every morning, well, he'd generally sign the order saying that senator so and so will open the Senate today, but everything else he enjoyed. He would come in the 00:15:00late afternoon then to the office, and at that time would read the mail that Charles had put in there for him to read. If, as I say, at that point someone wanted to talk--he wanted to talk to someone about a case or problem or a letter, then at that point, he would call them in. He would first call Charles. On the desk over there (pointing) you have all the buzzer systems. I suppose everybody has their own special story about the buzzer systems, but he would buzz, and he didn't like to use the interoffice intercom which was attached to the phone. In fact, they would tell him how to do it and show him how it was done but he would never--and, in fact, I think we even put a listing of the 00:16:00interoffice phone numbers on there, but he never would use it. There were three buttons, if I remember. One was for in there where Charles' office and my office was; one was for the outer reception office, and one was for back where Jane McMullen and Babs [Barboura] Raesly were, those buttons and if he wanted you, he summarily summoned you with the press of the button, and the buzzer would go off and you knew that--and we always, I suppose it was a habit that we started or that was started by Leeman or somebody, but everybody--all the men in the office would work without coats, because those old office buildings were generally pretty hot in the winter, even though they cooled off in the summer, it was still steaming up there. But, as soon as the Senator would summon you, if you went into his office, you put on your coat. (laughs) You put on your coat to go 00:17:00in there. And one night Senator--while I'm thinking of it, Senator always read his mail and almost everyone had gone home by that time by 5:30 or 6:00. Proctor, Charles, and Powell [Moore] and I would generally stay until he left, and we would pray that he would leave at 6:30 or at least by 7. The NBC news came on at 6:30 in Washington; the CBS news came on at 7. Now, if you had a date or if you had somewhere to go, you really hoped that he would go on down to his condominium and stay down there and watch the news because he watched both newscasts--he wouldn't watch one, he'd watch them both, even though they were redundant mostly. He would turn on and watch the [Chester Robert (Chet)] Huntley-[David] Brinkley boys and then he would watch Walter Cronkite. And, 00:18:00generally, at that point in the evening is when he would have his Jack Daniels and his peanuts, because the Georgia peanut people always kept a supply of the peanuts, and of course, Coca Cola always had Cokes there, and he would have his Jack Daniels and he would have his peanuts. One evening I was in there and Charles, during this period of time was going to law school, and he would leave about, hopefully, he would always leave right about the time the Senator would leave and would make his classes. Many a case he would have to leave before the Senator would leave, and Proctor and I would be left there holding the bag for anything he wanted. One night all of a sudden I was walking back into the reception room and heard three buzzers going off. And I went, "Oh Lord, what has happened now?" I thought we had been bombed or something and I went running in 00:19:00and the senator was standing there with his Jack Daniels on that big oval table, and he was watching the news on that gosh-awful old TV set. I don't know, did we get the TV set.
WILLIAMS: Oh no, you didn't get the TV set--that's terrible. But on that old TVset, that was ancient, and he was standing up, holding on to the edge of the table, and there were three packs of peanuts--the wrappers on the floor, and when he disagreed with somebody on the TV he would generally pitch the peanut wrappers at the TV. If there was a commentary or some news thing he would just, "Ahhhhhhh," and pitch the-- And that night he had finished all his peanuts; he wanted some more, and I ran in. I didn't have on my coat and I was going, "Oh, 00:20:00God, I'll be fired." I ran in and said, "Senator, what's wrong?" He said, "I don't have any more peanuts." (laughs) So from then on we made sure that he had about ten packs of peanuts in there for his evening ritual of watching the news and having a Jack Daniels.
CASTRONIS: I was going to ask you if he commented while he watched the news, ifhe commented or rebutted what was being said.
WILLIAMS: Generally, yes. If--on everything he always had a comment. I can'tremember all the comments, but you know, he generally had a comment. He, of course, being fairly conservative was always making some comment about some of our liberal group of senators. I remember at that time there was a senator from 00:21:00New York, not Jake [Jacob] Javits because the Senator respected Jake Javits but this senator from New York who was subsequently defeated, the Senator made the comment one day, we were--at that time they were having the debates--they had just finished the [Clement Furman Jr.] Haynsworth nomination, attempt to nominate him to the Supreme Court. So they were into [George Harrold] Carswell and this liberal senator from New York had made a vile speech against Carswell, and the Senator made the statement that night watching the TV, he said, "You know," he said, "The intellectual weight of that side of the Senate, when that fellow sits down does not creak at all."(laughs)
CASTRONIS: What were some of the issues at this time, 1970 and 1971?
WILLIAMS: I was thinking back. At that time and we can go through the file to00:22:00jog my memory too, but, at that time--you know, the amazing thing about it was, going up there, my title was legal counselor. Basically, I was supposed to be the legislative aid. Of course, the Senator having won so many people over there in the Armed Services Committee who had served him for so many years on armed services, and so many people in appropriations, all the appropriations staff were at his disposal. When he'd need something, the chairman wanted something, they all came running. So basically, the staffers there handled all the issues on appropriations; the staffers in the Armed Services Committee handled that. So when legislative issues would come up, I always was somewhat frustrated because 00:23:00I would tell the Senator, "You know, well, Senator, we're going to have--this is going to come up for a vote tomorrow." And he would say, "Well," he says, "I know how I'm going to vote on that." He said, "I can tell you exactly what the speech is going to be; what is going to be said by each one of the senators in that Senate chamber." And it was true because having been there for those many years. It's amazing the issues that we think are new up there generally have come up time and time again. So if you're a senator who's been around there for a while, and know what's going to be said, how each senator will probably vote, and therefore, even though there may some minor issues or minor things like amendments that he would not know what the issue was when he went on the Senate floor, he would know how he was going to vote on the general issue all the time, 00:24:00because having had the experience. Plus when he would go on the floor, Stan [J. Stanley] Kimmitt, who was at that time the secretary of the majority leader, Senator Mansfield was the majority leader at the time--Stan Kimmitt was a great fellow, still is. He's now secretary of the Senate. And Stan would stand there at the door, or if the bell rang for the vote, Stan would walk right off the Senate floor and down the hall to the Senator's hideaway office and would tell the Senator what the issue was so that the Senator wouldn't have to come out there until the very last minute to vote. And so, basically, from that standpoint, I never really had to deal with legislative issues there because of these two reasons: he already knew how he was going to vote because it came up 00:25:00so many times in the previous years, in the twenty years prior that generally the issues on civil rights, on the various appropriations issues and events had been debated ever so many thousand hours. So there wasn't any use in my telling him what was going on if he already knew, and then having all the other people there to assist him. Some of the big issues at the time: the nomination to the Supreme Court--Haynsworth had just been rejected when I came there, and then Carswell was coming up. At that point in time, Lamar Sizemore, who had been in law school with Carswell, was spearheading the nomination or the attempt for getting Carswell nominated. More about that in a minute, but we had--the problem 00:26:00in Vietnam was still very much an issue. In fact, that year was the year of the incursion into Cambodia, and we had--our office was mobbed with people--just, you know demonstrators, people wanting to talk to the Senator. And it was my job to fend them off, and I had to sit there, and I finally asked the Senator. One day I said, "What am I going to tell these people?" He said, "Well," he said, "Tell them the president--which the president knows best. He's got more information than I do. He's the one who has to run this war," and he said, "Tell them the president had the information, knew what was going on and made a decision." He said, "We can't fault the president." So that's what I had to tell them, and basically I think that history has shown that probably [Richard Milhous] Nixon was right from the standpoint of the bombing of the bases in Cambodia, from the standpoint that the North Vietnamese were about to take over 00:27:00Cambodia anyway and subsequently did. But--that Nixon was making a wise decision in trying to stamp out the attacks from Cambodia. But the Senator, on that issue, while I'm thinking about it on Vietnam in general--one day we were sitting--he expressed this many times, I've heard him say this many times subsequently. One day we were, early on when I was there, I would go down to his apartment and we'd watch football. He loved football so--and Sunday--Saturday and Sunday, if you wanted to know where the Senator was after Saturday morning coming into the office, which was the other ritual, we'd go down and watch football with him in the apartment--or the condominium. And we were sitting 00:28:00there one day and we were talking about the Vietnam War because something came up about it. A football player had--maybe it was the fact that Roger Staubach had gone into the war and then come back and was playing for Dallas. And the Senator said, "You know," he said, "I told Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles when they were trying to get us to send the first advisors over there, and when they were telling [Dwight David] Eisenhower, and when [John Fitzgerald] Kennedy was trying to get involved in that thing, I told him then that we should never commit the first American soldier to that war." He said, "That was a civil conflict involving the people there and it was not a battle that we should get involved in." He said, "However, they did send the advisors and the advisors turned into needing more advisors, and finally we got involved." And he said, 00:29:00"Once our flag was committed, and the president, the commander-in-chief commits our flag," he says, "I have to follow him and I have to support him." And he said, "I have since then. He said, "I was opposed to them sending the first advisor." But that, in light--in terms of his response to the Cambodian incursion was consistent in that, even though he may not have approved of the war, when it first began, or our involvement in the war, yet once it began and once the president was in charge, he supported the president and the people who were involved in it rather than doing like some of the other senators in trying to second guess on Capitol Hill as to what was going on there in Vietnam.
VOGT: Along this same line, are you aware of many contacts he had with the White00:30:00House during 1970 about Vietnam, or any conferences concerning that? I know that in one oral history we've had reference to a visit with Nixon and [Henry] Kissinger at Walter Reed in which they came to inform the Senator on some recent happenings in Vietnam.
WILLIAMS: He was always being called down to the White House--I say always.There were a number of meetings in which he was asked to come to the White House, many of which did not involve Vietnam, but once he got there, Nixon would discuss things with him. And also, at that time Richard Helms was the irector of the CIA, and since the Senator was the chairman of the Appropriations committee, and therefore chairman of the oversight subcommittee on the CIA, he 00:31:00was briefed by Helms periodically, and Helms was always coming into the office. Again, what I mean by always, numerous times during the months of 1970, Richard Helms would come to our office and brief the Senator and at that time we had to, you know, stand guard on the doors and not let anybody in and no one was allowed in except Helms and the Senator. I don't"
BEGIN SIDE 2, CASSETTE #209
VOGT: --by someone that Russell was the one who protected the CIA budget andmade the final decision on that budget. Do you know anything about that?
WILLIAM: Well, as I indicated a moment ago, that as the chairman of theAppropriations Committee and as the chairman of the subcommittee overseeing the CIA activities, yes, he would be the one who would have had the final say-so on 00:32:00what the CIA got in the form of moneys for their operations. And, apparently, now, of course, I wasn't privy to the appropriations process as such, since the staffers on the Appropriations Committee brought that over to the Senator and had him authorize it, but generally, when Richard Helms would come and would tell the Senator that he needed something, he generally got it. The Senator was very, very supportive of the--not the overall activities. I'm not sure whether Helms revealed all the covert action that subsequently has been exposed by the press and certain books that have come out. But Helms would, I believe, gave the Senator an in-depth report. And the Senator supported the necessity of having 00:33:00good intelligence information on what our enemies, as well as those who are countries with questionable affiliation with the Soviet Union and Red China, what they were doing and how that would affect us. So he was very supportive of having that type of information to give us a strong defensive posture.
VOGT: Going back to your role in the office, other than appropriations and armedservices, as legal counsel, were you working with case mail or--
WILLIAMS: Well, I sort of did several things there, including many times, what-ever the Senator wanted me to do. Everyone in the office, and I do mean everyone including Charles, as the administrative assistant, had to take on case mail 00:34:00because being the United States senator with number one seniority, people wrote him constantly. I think the case load was not as great in 1970 as it is now, being familiar with the offices up there now, but we had a tremendous influx of mail requests for everything from getting their social security back to helping get a son back from Vietnam because of illness. In one case I remember having gotten a request from a mother who was--who was distraught in that he son had disappeared on an R&R [rest and recreation] from Vietnam to Australia, and she knew that her son was a good boy and that he had probably been rolled and killed there in Australia. And so, we, of course, just to give you an insight into what 00:35:00you did as a case worker, when the mother sent out the SOS to us, my field was anything dealing with housing and urban development, HEW [Health, Education and Welfare], Interior, with Treasury and very little to do with military and State Department. So we basically got the State Department involved in it because this mother was screaming that she was going to Australia and was going to find her son. And I said, "Look, lady, don't spend your money. You'll just come to grief because you can't do what we can do in a very short time." So what--I called the State Department, and got a cable immediately off to the embassy there in 00:36:00Australia and they, in turn, started a search for this boy. Subsequently--and he of course had been on AWOL back to Vietnam, and this was very unusual because this was in the later part of the year and close to the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. He was supposed to come home shortly after returning to Vietnam. He was supposed to return to home from his duty there, and so, that did give us some cause to think that maybe some harm had come to him. Well, about three days later we got a call from this same mother saying that a friend of her son's had called her when he had gotten back to the states, saying that he had been on R&R 00:37:00at the same approximate time and that her son, the last he had seen of her son was that he was at what they called at that time the Texas Tavern there at Sydney, Australia. The Texas Tavern was a well-known hangout for GIs on R&R; it provided them with entertainment and other sorts of entertainment, and so we immediately cabled to Sydney there in Australia to them that this was a good lead and to check on that. Subsequently they found the son. He had taken up with an Australian lady there arid had enjoyed being in Australia rather than going back to Vietnam. Needless to say, the mother was overwhelmed with relief to have her son located, but at the same time--prior to that time she had been saying, 00:38:00Oh, my son would never do anything wrong. I'm sure he's dead." And then, needless to say, after we got our thanks from her for having located her son, she then began to berate him for having been a good-for-nothing. So that's just one example of what you had to do as a case worker. I mean, as a staffer there you handled mail, as well as phone calls, as well as visits. If people came to Washington needing assistance in cutting through the bureaucratic red-tape--when I first went up there, I made it a habit, well actually a policy on my part to get acquainted with all the departments that I was going to have to deal with, and went to see them. I'd just call them up and say, "I'm coming to see you. I want to learn what your department does and what we're involved in, and I want 00:39:00to get to know you better so that when I call you on the phone, I want to have a face behind that voice." And, as a result, it worked out well because, subsequently on a number of occasions, especially dealing with the Corps of Engineers on one project I remember down in Savannah. Lawton Calhoun was, he was a very close friend of the Senator's and I believe has had an interview, was then chairman of the Savannah Port Authority. The Georgia Port Authority and the Savannah Port Authority wanted to build a turning basin there at Elba Island which is right there off the inlet to the Savannah River. In order to install what they call a LASH vessel offloading facility, which is a huge containerized ship that comes in a big thing that couldn't get up the Savannah River, in order to tum in the Savannah River, so therefore, they had to build it there. But 00:40:00there was some question on the part of the Corps of Engineers* part, and on the part of the Interior's part about the effects on: [one] the oyster bed island and the environmental effects, and the other was that it might interfere with the scenic view from Fort Pulaski, which, of course is a state, a federal park there. So we had to go through two bureaucratic processes and we worked hard with the Corps of Engineers and got over their problems because we were able to show them how that the port would be able to build a facility to protect from any erosion of any of the islands there, but then the Interior Department, one of the assistant secretaries was intransigent. So this was one of the very few times that I had to--or I witnessed--generally a staffer on Senator Russell's 00:41:00staff, you could hear when you said, "This is Joel Williams," or "This is Proctor Jones"; "This is Babs Raesly of Senator Russell's staff. We would like to talk to--" or "we need something." You could hear the immediate click of the heels, the salute, and say "yes, sir" or "yes, ma'am, right away." Subsequently, when I worked for Senator [David Henry] Gambrell, going from number one to number one hundredth senator, you could certainly tell the difference. They would say, "Well, who is this--Gambrell--what?" you know. But with Senator Russell, you got--you generally got action And, generally, as a staffer, or as one of the lead staffers there handling problems, when you said, "I am speaking for Senator Russell and he wants this done," generally an assistant secretary would say, "Yes, we will try our best to, you know, accommodate the senator's 00:42:00wishes and the wishes of the people in Georgia." And in this one particular assistant secretary's case, he decided he didn't want the view ruined by having from time to time a large vessel tied some half mile away from his Fort Pulaski. And so we had a--we finally, I talked to the Senator and told him. I said, "I need you in order to get this done for the port of Savannah, we are going to have to have a meeting in which you are present." And this was one of two meetings in which the Senator--I saw the Senator get involved really in saying to the department, "I want this done." Normally, in order to, (one) save time on his part, he would say, "You people tell them I want it done." And his--and we 00:43:00were speaking for him, and generally, it was done. But in this case, we had a meeting then with Elliott Hagan, who was then the first district congressman, and the Senator and Senator /Herman E./ Talmadge also came to the meeting and it was over in the Senator's hideaway office which, of course, was large enough an office to accommodate more than that small group. The Senator informed the assistant secretary, who had been summoned there by me, of course, that he wanted this done. He felt that this was very vital to the interests of the people of Georgia and the port of Savannah that he didn't--There was no substance to this guy's objections in that there were pictures that had been taken from the fort by the Port Authority which showed--which helped our argument, helped the Senator to go forth with the thing, that basically there 00:44:00were trees that would hide the entire view of the LASH vessel. So, you didn't--you really wouldn't have any problems. So in this case the Senator said, "I want this done." And sure enough--(laughs) with a little visit over to the Senator's office, they changed their mind. But, that, just to give you--is basically what we were involved in. Anyone coming there needs to go down to a Housing and Urban Department, especially during that period of time; there were a lot of HUD's moneys floating around for revitalization. I remember going a 00:45:00number of times to HUD, meeting with assistant secretaries for various people out of Atlanta and out of Savannah, for revitalization projects and things like this. I worked with the Corps of Engineers on various river projects and port projects. So, basically, those were the different varied activities that we were involved in.
VOGT: In cases in which this would pertain to an individual, say, would theSenator sometimes get involved?
WILLIAMS: He--well, with individual problems, of course I'm thinking back-- onlyin special cases. And generally then, the Senator would not make a phone call. He would write a letter, and he would dictate the letter. I remember in one case 00:46:00where--and he always had a special place for veterans and for the military. Mainly, of course, having been the armed services chairman for so long, and he really protected--wanted to protect them. He felt like they served their country and, by golly, they ought to get the best of everything that the federal government could give them. So therefore, if, in those special cases when someone because of bureaucracy and red-tape had been given a raw deal, the Senator would immediately write a letter, personal letter and put P.S.'s on the bottom to maybe even to the Department of Defense, to either the Secretary of the Army or the Navy. In one case, I remember a fellow who was about to be 00:47:00denied retirement because of certain problems in his term of service, and the Senator--Babs Raesly got the Senator involved in that one. And we--the Senator ultimately had to have Babs, he would never call the Secretary of Defense, but he had Babs call him and say, "Now, Mr. Secretary, Senator Russell asked me personally to call you and tell you that he is having delivered over to you by one of your men a letter from him about this man. And you know, that was about as far as he would go. He never personally would--because, basically, in that manner, he avoided the confrontation. And he also, he insulated himself in the event some Secretary of Defense or some Secretary of the Interior came to 00:48:00him and said, "Okay, we gave you this, now give us this. Because, being chairman of the Appropriations Committee it became a lot of times horse--trading times. He always wanted to have that insulation of having staffers do for him. I don't think he would ever have said, "Well, you know, they didn't speak for me," but he knew by not talking to them, I'm speculating here, but by not having to talk directly to a Secretary of Defense or to any assistant secretary, he avoided then having to horse-trade or get involved in some other question they might have, because he didn't like to get tied up on something else. He wanted any question to come--he always said, "Route the things through my staff and through my office," you know. So that was the way they worked. And generally it 00:49:00worked well cause then he was able to avoid a lot of unnecessary work of having to deal with problems that weren't--of some department, a problem that could have been handled by corporation staffers or someone like that.
VOGT: Often today it is said that a senator is only as good as his staff he hasworking under him. How do you think this was reflected in Senator Russell's office?
WILLIAMS: I think that it--during the time I was there, he had because of theevolution--earlier on, from what I understood and from what people told me, he had a smaller staff in the early fifties than he had at the time he died, 00:50:00because the case mail was lighter. The Senate was out from say July until--end of July to the first of January. So they were only up there six months out of the year and were then home six months and therefore there was not that demand on the time of the staffer. They would come to Winder to see the Senator and do their requests there rather than going to Washington and things were handled much differently. But the Senator had a basically young staff in the late sixties and 1970-71, all of whom were very efficient, all of whom knew their job and did it, I think, well. I cannot remember any piece of mail that was not 00:51:00answered within, say, a week's time, that there was--Charles Campbell would question somebody if a piece of mail did not get out within a week. Now, and being familiar, going back to Washington almost monthly since I left up there, I know it is not unusual for a senator to have mail stacked up--mainly the volume has something to do with it. But maybe not getting a letter answered for three weeks is not a serious crime up there now. But the mail was answered because of [one] the immediacy of the action taken on the part of the Senator in getting the problem over to the right department and getting some response or getting some action and the Senator's seniority and power there, generally we got 00:52:00effective action. I don't recall any problem that was ever presented to that office that didn't get solved sometime within a couple of months' time. It may have taken a big meeting of a group of people-- I do remember an occasion when there was a special education project going on by a special group in Atlanta, doing a very important bit of work on educational testing and educational support. And they needed a grant for that work from Office of Education, Department of HEW. We finally--even the Senator as chairman of the 00:53:00Appropriations Committee couldn't get them off dead center on saying that these guys were going to be cut off from their yearly grant. So finally we had to have all the senators from Alabama, Florida and Georgia have a meeting with then Secretary of HEW Elliot Richardson. Elliot Richardson--Elliot Richardson came with the Office of Education, the head of he Office of Education and one of his assistant staffers into the Senator's office and we had the biggest, I thought, guns in town sitting there trying to convince Elliot Richardson. Eventually he did agree to fund this program for another year. Subsequently, I think after the Senator died, the Office of Education cut off the money in almost instant after the Senator died, but--In fact, I have in my office or my home now some--Elliot 00:54:00Richardson is really quite a doodler and he sits in a meeting, he always sits there, and even with all of those senators, and I would have thought that I would have been sitting there ramrod straight, you know, looking them in the eye and answering their questions, and he sat there during the entire meeting doodling. He made the most fantastic doodles of circles and concentric circles and stars and he did it on a scratch pad, U.S. Senate scratch pad. So I tore it off after the meeting and sent it over to his office--I knew one of the staffers there and asked if he would have the secretary sign it. And he did sign it and sent it back to me. So I had it framed. But that was my little memento for the--a memento from that meeting to remind me of what all we had to go through to get that educational grant funded. But, basically the staffers there were 00:55:00young. The Senator was amazing. He enjoyed having young people around him. Leeman Anderson, having worked for him all those years and having the relationship they did, was a different relationship. I never knew that relationship because, as I said, Leeman was dead when I came there. Bill Jordan, having been one of the older staffers there in his mid-forties by the time I got there, was a different relationship with the Senator in that he sort of grew up in that office there. But the Senator, even though we were staffers, those of us who worked with him daily and saw him almost daily, he treated us more like you would treat sons rather than as a one-to-one staff thing. He was more like a 00:56:00grandfatherly type, you know. In fact, from time to time, because three of us were single and well, of course, Charles--when Charles first came there, Charles--Proctor had been there for some time prior to Charles arrival at the office in the mid- sixties. Proctor would travel with the Senator when the Senator would come home or go on these tours on the bases or go down to Key West to get some rest after his pneumonia back in the early--in the mid-sixties, when he got sick, terribly sick after the civil rights debate. Proctor and Charles had traveled with him and, you know, spent time on the road with him, flying around in the navy jets or in the army planes. I never did travel with him for a trip, because at that time the only place he would come would be back to Winder. 00:57:00He did make one trip to Key West in the early part of February of 1970. He did go down there once in February because the winds of winter were still blowing in Washington and so he wanted to get away; he was catching a cold. He treated us--although we provided him information and did the work for him, he would take us out to dinner at times. He would say, "Okay, boys, you want to go down to--" he loved O'Donnell's, which is a seafood place there right off Pennsylvania Avenue. He would from time to time say, "Come on. Let's go to dinner." And we'd hop in the limousine with him, all three of us. And, you know, we would zoom down to O'Donnell's and they all knew him because of having lived over 00:58:00in--before he bought this condominium--was trying to remember the series of events. He had lived one time in an apartment building up on Connecticut Avenue--way up Connecticut. And then he, prior to that had lived in a hotel down there, and he always went down to O'Donnell's; that was his favorite place to eat out and eat seafood. They all knew him and they always gave him a booth where he wanted to sit, and when it would come time to pay, we would all say, "We'll pay for our own--" "Oh no, oh no, oh no. I'll take care of this. I do have money you know." And Proctor--that was the only time I had ever heard Proctor try to get the Senator to tell him how much money he had. He never 00:59:00said--well, the Senator never did--the senator was always poor-mouthing saying, "Oh things are getting so expensive." But, at that time when he was making a magnanimous effort, Proctor said, "Well, Senator, do you think you're worth maybe a half million dollars?" The Senator said, "Well, I don't know whether that much or not." (laughs) But at that time, when he was buying us food, was when Proctor would always goad him about how much he was worth.
CASTRONIS: When you all were with him, did he make candid comments about peoplewho were in high political circles in Washington?
WILLIAMS: He generally--he made some. (laughs) Two of the people who he reallydid not care for and did not like were Ramsey Clark and Hubert Humphrey. 01:00:00Although he tolerated Humphrey when Humphrey came back into the Senate, Ramsey Clark he always referred to as that "perch-mouth" because Ramsey Clark had rammed so many civil rights things down everybody's throat during the time while he was attorney general. The reason the Senator was mad at Humphrey was that Humphrey had promised when he was majority leader that when he became vice-president, if Senator Russell would help him by convincing Lyndon Johnson that Humphrey was the man to choose for vice-president, that when he, Humphrey came back to the Senate as the president of the Senate, presiding officer of the 01:01:00Senate, at the opening session of the Senate he would rule against those who wanted to abolish or attempt to abolish the rules on cloture. As you know, it takes a two-thirds vote of all the members of the Senate to enact cloture. There is an attempt at each new session, which begins every two years, of the Senate to reduce the effect of cloture by requiring that there only be a two-thirds vote of those members who are present. And as part of the president of the Senate's ruling, he had to rule on whether it required a two-thirds vote of all the members of the Senate to change that rule, or whether it was merely a two-thirds vote of those members present, and voting to change the rule. So that 01:02:00was the convoluted type situation that was facing him, and he knew that he, Humphrey, would be faced with that when he became vice-president. He told Senator Russell, promised Senator Russell--I wasn't there, of course, but I was told this and the Senator confirmed it, that Humphrey came to him and pleaded with him, "Now Dick, I want to be vice-president. I promise you I won't rule--I'll rule it will take two-thirds of all the members to change the rule back to two--thirds of all those present for cloture." As soon as he was elected with Johnson, he came to the Senate and he immediately changed his mind and ruled the other way as presiding officer. Of course, they didn't win and it still took two- thirds of cloture, of those members--of total members to affect 01:03:00cloture. But the Senator never--he always said Humphrey--
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Well, in relation--picking up about Humphrey, the Senator felt that Humphrey wasnot a man of his word and had double-crossed him. Your question while we were changing tapes there about the Senator was of the old-fashion school, that you did keep you word. He really believed that your word was your, bond that you should do what you promised to do. Otherwise the whole system would fall down up there because it was a matter of compromise and a matter of persons making agreements on the floor to get legislation done because he knew and anybody who's been up there knows that the entire legislative processes are of compromise, and keeping your word on it after making an agreement. Humphrey 01:04:00didn't do it and I don't think, in fact, I know that the Senator, from what I'm told and from what he said, he did not support Humphrey when Humphrey was running against Nixon. He just avoided any attempt to help because of hat very thing. So I think Humphrey rued the dy, probably, that he had done that, and knew that he had done it. There again, that was Humphrey's own little road. I had a thought there and I was trying to remember. Going back to the activities, the Senator's--when we were on the staff, those of us who when the Senator would 01:05:00go to the hospital, Proctor, Powell or Charles and I would go out there. Oh, I know what I was going to say. The greatest story which I thought was the art of compromise. The Senator in 1966 when supposedly Carl Sanders was going to make the run for the senator's office, Mike Mansfield gave the Senator an extra office. We had in that series of offices each senator from a state with x number of thousand populations was entitled to five rooms. We had a total of seven rooms. We got an extra room on that suite of offices we had; the Senator's office, Charles' and my office, the reception and three other rooms down the 01:06:00way. Then there was--the entrance to the comer of the Senate Office Building cut off a corner there and made a nice big office there in the corner which was not attached to anyone's office because the two hallways intersecting made the corner sort of by itself. Mike Mansfield had charge of those offices and gave them out, distributed them as he wanted to. In this case, the Senator went up to Mike and said, "Look, Mike, I may have some real opposition coming up. Would you let me have that office temporarily until I can get this new hot-shot press boy that's coming in here to help me, get him involved in putting out mailings and things like this on Congressional Records and to handle my press and deal with 01:07:00the press on what I'm doing." So Mike Mansfield said, "Sure, Dick, I'll give this to you and let you borrow it for a while." It turned out that after the Senator got Powell Moore and his assistants in that office, he never gave it back to Mike Mansfield. And one day, during the time that I believe--it was right during one of the big debates and I've forgotten what is was, Mike Mansfield came to the Senator and said, "Look, Dick.''He said, "I need that office back, that corner office that I let you borrow." And so the Senator just passed him off, did something. He said, you know, "Well, we'll talk about it. Not now, Mike." And so shortly thereafter, Mike Mansfield sent the Senator a letter saying, "Dear Dick," --you know--"I'm in dire need of the office which I 01:08:00loaned to you there on the comer on the second floor. Would you please have your staffers vacate it?" Well, the Senator stuck that letter in his pocket and he walked around with that letter in his pocket for a number of weeks. One day when the vote was really close on a very important issue there Mike Mansfield came up to the Senator and said, "Dick, I need your vote. I know I need your vote on this. I just need your vote." The Senator pulled out that letter and said, "Mike, it's about this office and this letter that you sent." And he said, "Ah, forget it Dick. Keep it as long as you want." (laughs) Having been around here, he knew how to operate them. Getting back to the issues, you were asking what some of the issues were. One of the other things I remember, that year seemed like an active year even though the Senator was sick from time to time, was during that year was the time when there was an attempt to bail out Lockheed. 01:09:00The Lockheed bailout bill, the first of many since then, but old [William] Proxmire was deadest on killing Lockheed. He felt that they had made enough blunders and with the fellow over in the Pentagon who had exposed all the problems with the C-5A. This was when the C-5A had many cost overruns so--the--Proxmire felt this was the time to do in Lockheed, and at the same time, do in Senator Russell's and Senator Talmadge's hold on military establishment. And that was one of the few times that Senator Russell, during that period of time, that I was with him, that he took the floor and really debated, even though he had to hold on to his desk in order to debate because he 01:10:00gave out of breath with emphysema. He made a speech, made the floor speech, and basically I would attribute to him-- Of course Senator Talmadge worked on it too and made speeches, but Senator Russell stood up and debated with Proxmire and defeated Promire's attempt to eliminate the loan guarantee for Lockheed and basically saved an aircraft industry here in Georgia, and kept Lockheed going. Of course, Lockheed has redeemed itself; now it is doing quite well. But, at the same time, if the Senator had not taken to the floor and had not really pushed it, they would have pushed Lockheed right out of business because they were in financial straits. I don't think at that time there was any--but the revelation 01:11:00about their payoffs to foreign governments had not been exposed at that time. But the cost overruns on the C-5A--the Senator was of the opinion and was justified in the years since that the C-5A was the same answer to today's needs as was the old Starlifter back in--the old piston-driven airlift transport that Lockheed was putting out many years before--that we did need a large--a large trans- port plane that would carry large amounts of material and men to various places in the world at a very swift pace. He felt that C-5A, even though it was costing more, was the answer and that we just had to absorb that cost. So he 01:12:00took the floor to fight--and not simply because it was a Georgia industry, not simply because it was built here in Georgia. In fact, we got a call during that time--in fact, I got the call from Jack Anderson's office, wanting to know how many other establishments, defense production facilities were in Georgia. And, of course, I told him that I couldn't tell him that he could probably find out from just checking in the Chamber of Commerce records of Georgia. They were especially interested in the Rohr facility down in Winder, what Rohr was making at that time. And, if I re- member correctly, Rohr at the time was making some sort of a part for some military facility--I don't know what the thing was, but 01:13:00they subsequently turned the revamp to make rapid transit cars and railroad cars. At the time they were involved in military production of some sort. I think that, in that regard, I told the Senator about Anderson calling, and the Senator then made a statement that Anderson, from time to time, had been after the Senator because as the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and then as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and also as subcommittee chairman of defense and appropriations, he was catered to by the military. Whenever he wanted to go somewhere, there was also always a military plane that would take 01:14:00him ostensibly to some military establishment so the Senator would at least have toured that establishment. When he would come to Winder, they would always make a piston plane available to get him down here. And Anderson, from time to time, would reveal that and the Senator would say, "Well, he said, "Never fight with Anderson." He said--or in that case Drew Pearson at the time, too--He said that Drew Pearson and Anderson were muckrakers, but it's better if it is the truth. If what they are reporting is the truth, simply say, "Yes, they have reported the truth." If they have reported something that is untrue, don't fight with them, don't stir it. And he said, "In this case, it is the truth that we have certain military production facilities in the state. Rohr is down in 01:15:00Winder." You know, let them find out; let them report it. It's a fact. If it is a fact, let them report it. Which, of course, I thought made sense because a lot of times since then, many politicians and people who have been the subject of Anderson's attacks have stirred it up by saying, "He's wrong-- Oh, he's doing this, that or the other." Just let it alone. If they say it's a fact, if people ask you, say, "Yes it was a fact." That kills the story; that takes the sting out of it.
VOGT: Was Russell's office visited by many lobbyists, and how were the lobbyists handled?
WILLIAMS: I tink that, now, being one myself, I suppose--I think that theSenator considered all of those people that came to see him, as either from a standpoint of people asking for assistance or people coming to give him 01:16:00information, he considered them [basically he generally did not deal with anybody but Georgians] and he also, when he would--If you remember, I'm sure that Powell or someone in their comments--the Senator did not when he made an announcement about his cancer and subsequent time when he had gone into remission, he had only Georgian newspaper representatives there. He dealt with all those people who came to see him, as Georgians who needed help. If they were a high paid lobbyist of an organization representing Georgians, he, of course, saw them just as he would see Joe Jones who came up there just to shake his hand or to tell him about the fact that his mama wasn't getting her social security 01:17:00check. If they came and he had the time and they were on his schedule, he saw them and handled them and dealt with them only from their problems. The senator was not, even though he chitchatted with us, because apparently he enjoyed us he kept us around there, but he didn't like to sit around and do social chitchat, with people. So therefore, mainly those people who came in were people who came to see him about specific problems--a Lockheed individual coming to see him about a problem; a banker coming to see him about legislation would go in and talk to him about that legislation and then leave. Generally he dealt with them in that manner. 01:18:00
VOGT: And you're saying more specifically those lobbying in some effort forGeorgia rather than other things--
WLLIAMS: Oh, sure, sure, sure. He felt like that he was elected by the people ofGeorgia, and if they had a problem, he would see them. The issues and the national issues generally were routed through the appropriations staff. The national issues dealing with things of national security and of government, he would say, "Now that's the--" He really believed in separation of powers and "that's the prerogative of the executive department and--if they consult me on this, you know, then I will talk to them about it. But let them come to me." And he generally, you know, the mountain came to Mohammed, rather than him having to speak out and getting into the action. 01:19:00
VOGT: You worked with him during his last year, and it's perhaps only throughhearsay or recollection by others would you know of his previous performance; could you tell that his illness affected his performance very much in the last year of his life?
WILLIAMS: Well, there were three separate illnesses as I saw them. There was thecancer which had sapped some of his strength and had really--I'm told, and I wasn't there, that by Charles and Proctor that when he found out he had cancer, the man had been, with the exception of the --Babs was telling me this--with the exception of when he had pneumonia after fighting the civil rights bill and 01:20:00having to take off time there and giving up smoking at that time with the exception of that illness, he really never had thought of himself as mortal. He worked hard; he smoked two, three packs of Camels a day--not filtered or Lucky Strikes or whatever those god-awful things were that--and he basically worked day and night. We'd come in on Sundays; we'd come in--Saturday was just another work day. Staffers came in three-quarters of the day on Saturday, and if you really wanted to keep your job, you'd better have your desk clean, or else you came in on Sunday because he was there and working on Sundays. He didn't have a family; he had no--a family as such--a wife and children, and so therefore--let me have a pad, I want to--sometimes I think of notes of things and I wanted to] 01:21:00his routine prior to that time had been work, work, work, work, work, and demanding of his staff. No wonder poor Leeman Anderson was driven to drink, you know, after a while, I mean.
CASTRONIS: No wonder he was surprised that you would come to work for him.
WILLIAMS: --that's right (laughs) But he was basically, prior to his mid-sixtiespneumonia episode, he was a workaholic. Afterwards, he toned it down some; he stopped smoking, as I understand from Babs, and took on these new staffers, the younger staffers. And he began to feel more mortal. When he found out that he 01:22:00had cancer, Proctor and Charles were with him and they said that that was the first time they had ever seen him totally startled and he broke down and cried. He was just totally--couldn't cope with the fact that he was a mortal man and that he did have a possible terminal illness. So, that sapped a lot of his--I think a lot of his drive, having had an opportunity to watch him on TV and seeing him--I met him in person in 1967 when he came to Mercer. I was a senior in law school and he came and spoke at the dedication of our new law building. I 01:23:00met him at that time--I'm sorry, 1966. And he, at that time, he was a vigorous, vital man who did not walk with a shuffle or an old gait. In 1969 when I met him again, for the first time in three years, he had undergone chemotherapy and that in it--in radiation therapy--and that, in it, had sapped a lot of his strength. The cancer itself had done some things emotionally to him in that he realized now that he was mortal and that basically he was getting old. So he no longer was taking the interest in the work because it was boring. It had become boring to him from the standpoint that, as he told me, he said, "I've heard those arguments, you know, thousands of times. I know how they're going to vote." So, 01:24:00he enjoyed the new activities, the new work and looked forward to those new things that happened each day. But if the day was going to be simply a legislative day and he was going to have to go over there and sit and listen and go through all that boring stuff, after being there for over thirty years, that's no longer interesting to you. The other portion then, basically, his emphysema, as he--during the period of time from 1969 through 1971, he was in and out of the hospital about four or five times. Twice there, in the early part of 1969, in December of 1969, he had to come home to Winder, and he was sick 01:25:00then. I went down to see him while he was in Winder before I went to Washington, after I had been to Washington in October and had sat down with him. We had talked while I was in Washington--I had looked over the place and looked for a place to live and told him, you know, I wanted to come--definitely wanted to come. And he said then, "Well, I still don't know why you want to come up here, but come on." Said, "Give Arthur Bolton plenty of time to find somebody to replace you." I said, "Well, let's think about my coming on the first of January." Even though in October when I told that I would come, the word got out I was going and basically, I felt like I was already working for him in October and November and December. People were calling me in Atlanta saying, "Joel, would you tell the Senator this? Will you do this? Will you do that?" So basically, although I wasn't paid by him until January, I was already working for him at that time. And in December, when I went to see him, he had had an 01:26:00attack of pneumonia, and that was--the only regret I had was that in August when he said, "If you want to come and work for me, come up and look around and then come on if you decide you want to come." I should have dropped everything then and gone to work for the man at that time. Forget Arthur Bolton, forget the law practice because--that was my only regret was that I didn't have more time with the man. Because during those three months, he was still quite vigorous, even though he was vigorous in the early part of 1970, he was very active until he got pneumonia in December. I went to see him in December, and he was up in his bedroom and I went up and chatted with him--
VOGT: December of 1970?
WILLIAMS: --1969. 1969. I took him some fig preserves. My mom--we have a big fig01:27:00tree over there in Dacula and my mom had made fig preserves and some sausage--and he always mentioned those things. And I found out and I took him several cans, I found out that it was like his Jack Daniels-- Senator Talmadge is still this way most of the time, he won't share any of his cigars--Senator Russell would never offer you any of his Jack Daniels and he never offered any of the family any of those fig preserves. In fact, when he died in January of 1971, when we went down to the house for the funeral, they told me that there were still jars of fig preserves upstairs in the bedroom because he ate--Modine [Thomas] brought his breakfast up to him and he ate up there, and he kept those fig preserves. He had when--Proctor told me, in that regard, that when they went in that summer of 1969 and were cleaning out some, they were cleaning out some 01:28:00chests in one of those bedrooms upstairs, they found several cases of Jack Daniels that the Senator had just stashed up there tinder his bed in a foot- locker that the republic of Taiwan--Madame Chiang Kai-shek had attended Wesleyan and Chiang Kai-shek was always a great friend of the Senator's and every Christmas, even the last Christmas that he was alive, they delivered to--the embassy of Taiwan delivered to the hospital a case of Jack Daniels as--that was their show of respect. And he stashed those cases everywhere but he never would share them with us. (laughs) We could drink something else, but we couldn't have 01:29:00his Jack Daniels. But in the spring of 1970, he had another round of cold and pneumonia- type attack. That then started him on the debilitating type of downward spiral because by November, he started skipping meetings and started not coming to the Senate. We'd call him and say, "Senator, there's a vote--" In fact, I remember one day I called him because it was the time OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) was going to be enacted. And I said, "This is certainly a bad thing for business. Do you think you'll come up today? And he said, 01:30:00"No," even though this was something new. And I said to myself then that with an issue like this coming up, and him not coming, he's losing interest, and, of course, when he had the pneumonia in November before Thanksgiving-- The last time he was in the office was the week--in fact, it's ironic, --I saw him on the Wednesday before leaving. Bill Jordan and I were driving to Georgia for Thanksgiving week and I told him that we were leaving and going. And he said he wouldn't need us around--that he would see us when we got back. And he went in the hospital then and came out in December for a short period of time and still had the cold and the pneumonia--type symptoms and went back in and he never came 01:31:00out again. But it was during those last few months of October and November that he started losing interest and started going down even though we went out there every day and took him mail and told him what was going on. He was visited by the different senators and Nixon came a number of times to see him--even to- ward the end there the president and Mrs. [Thelma Catherine Patricia Ryan] Nixon came one Saturday morning. We were in the office and all of the sudden we got a call from the White House saying that the president was planning to go see -- him: "how was he and would he receive visitors?" And we called out there to find out and he was up and said, "Sure, come on" even though he was feeling poorly then. Which, of course, it cheered him up. But in January one of us would stay 01:32:00out there every day with him, even though the family would come and stay. They would--one of the staffers was there most of the time and would handle calls and people wanting things or staffers calling out there saying, "We need this," or "We need advice on that" and everything. But he did--not until--basically, and his sisters confirm this, his father did the same thing, they said. I said there were three things that happened to him--the cancer, the emphysema which taxed him--but finally he just got tired of the whole thing. He was tired; the 01:33:00pneumonia accompanying the emphysema had basically worn him down, and in the last week or two weeks of his life, he really gave up and didn't want to eat. I would go in and try to encourage him to eat and he just wouldn't take anything to eat. I would tell him, "Senator, you got to eat because we've got to get you up and strong enough so that we can go down to Key West." And, you know, that wouldn't rouse him, that wouldn't do anything. He just refused to eat. He decided that he was going to die, and he did. I mean, he just starved himself to death. The started feeding him intravenously there at the last to keep, trying to keep his strength up and keep fluids in him. But the problem was, as the 01:34:00pulmonary specialist explained it, he had a strong heart--in fact, the pulmonary specialist there I've forgotten what the colonel's name was; you've probably got it in the files] the doctor said a man with his heart would have probably lived to ninety-five if he had not smoked those three packs of Lucky Strikes or Camels a day back in his earlier life. That that brought on the emphysema and the emphysema just basically just sapped his strength, and in the last days, he was only breathing with only about an eighth of his"
BEGIN SIDE 4, CASSETTE #210
WILLIAMS: The thing, of course, one of the things that toward the end therebefore he died, I went to see him--Then Governor [James Earl] Carter was--had 01:35:00been elected to the governorship and there was a big inauguration which was in January. And we, all of the staff, had- been invited to go. So I went to see the Senator and asked the Senator--he was in the hospital--and I asked him did he mind me going down to the Carter inauguration, and he said, "No, go ahead." It would be a fun time and it would be an enjoyable time for me. So he had no objections to my going. Basically the reason I went and asked him that was, this goes back to when President Carter, the Governor Carter, was running for office for governor. He had, of course, been defeated on his first try for the 01:36:00governorship and was coming back this time against former Governor [Carl E.] Sanders, And we, those of us in the office were following the activity that was heating up in 1970 for the governor's race--One of the fellows who was a friend of ours, Norman Underwood who had worked for the Senator, Norman was heading up Sanders' campaign. So we very much interested in the activities and knew, of course, Hamilton Jordan and Jody [Joseph L.] Powell, but basically, because of our friendship and relation with Norman, we were more interested in Governor Sanders than in President Carter's campaign. So, as the time drew on 01:37:00during the summer and the primary came along and Sanders and Carter were in the runoff and it then became "Cufflinks" Carl against "good ole boy" Jimmy. We watched that closely and the night of the primary when the ballots were cast, we had a primary party there in the Senate Office Building. During football season and during the primaries, we would use the WATS line and call down to somebody's house or to a radio station and get them to put us on a line so that we could listen to the football games on Saturday when Georgia would be playing. We'd listen to the football games or else on primary election night we'd call 01:38:00somebody and have us hooked up so that we could listen to the radio to find out the results. Well, the night of the Sanders-Carter runoff, we were unable to get anybody to tell us what had happened. And we were all in Powell Moore's office back there in the press room, and we had heard that Sanders was losing. We tried to call--we first called Sanders campaign headquarters and the only people there at Sanders campaign headquarters were the people who were cleaning up. They said, "Everybody has gone over to Carter's headquarters." And we said, "Well then we know who won." So we then called--I told the conglomeration of staff--Proctor Jones and Powell, and some of them--and I said, "Well, we'llcall over to the Carter headquarters," which was at that time over in the Quality Inn 01:39:00there on Tenth Street, and I said, "We'll call in there and they'll be able to give us the final figures on what the polls--I mean, on what the results were." Well we called there and couldn't get through. So I called the switchboard of the Quality Inn and said, "We're calling from Washington in the Senate office up here and we'd like to know if we could get through to the ballroom so that we can get the results." And so she put us through on a special phone. Well, when we got through--I don't know who we got through to; I think to Jody Powell--but I said, "This is Joel Williams in Washington." And he said, "Joel is the Senator there?" I said, "No, he's not. He's not here. He's at home. We just wanted to know the final results." And he said, "Well, is the Senator there? Does he want 01:40:00to speak to the governor-elect?" And we said, "No, he's not here; he's down in his condominium. He's already in bed for that matter. So, no he's not here." Well, little did I know that because they were being a little naive--those of us there in Washington--Jody and others had Hal [Harold Strong] Gulliver, who is now the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, and Reg Murphy, who's now out at the San Francisco papers at the Chronicle--Reg and Hal had been covering Carter's election and Reg and Hal were standing there. The next morning in the Atlanta Constitution, the front page headline was "Carter Wins Primary" and under it, in the first paragraph, there's an article,"--one of the first persons to call the 01:41:00Democratic nominee was Senator Russell from Washington. Russell called form his Washington office to congratulate Carter." Well, Powell Moore had been--I'm sorry, Powell was in Atlanta; Charles and Proctor and I were there in Washington. Powell Moore called form Atlanta that morning and said, "Joel, do you know anything about this article?" And I said, "Oh, my God!" Because what had transpired even further back was that the Marietta newspapers had run an article in July, or in August, I'm sorry, saying that Senator Russell--that Carter said that Senator Russell was going to support him and had urged all of 01:42:00his family members to support /Carter/in his race for governor. Well, the background on that was that, Proctor said that the president--now president, then candidate for governor--had come to see the Senator while the Senator was home in Winder there in July of the August recess of 1970, and had visited with him on the front porch. And had at that time, the Senator had made some references to Governor Sanders, former Governor Sanders because the Senator, needless to say, was a little hacked off at Carl Sanders for having the audacity to think about running against him in 1966. So he, of course, did not really relish the idea of Sanders getting the governorship again, but at the same time, 01:43:00was going to remain neutral. And had apparently, [this was] from Proctor, had told Carter, Governor Carter, that he would remain neutral. Well, apparently someone had told the newspapers there and [Otis A., Jr.] Brumby, who's the editor of the newspapers in Marietta, that he, the Senator, had said otherwise; that the Senator was going to vote for him [Carter], had urged all of his members of his family to vote for him. So that was a very touchy situation since the Senator got very agitated by it when we brought him the Marietta papers. He said, "I did not, I did not say that. I told that man that my family was going to vote the way they intended to vote, but that I was not going to encourage them." So, that had transpired in August. In addition, in August, when I had 01:44:00gone on a weeks' vacation out to California and came back through Atlanta and on the way back through, on Sunday, had picked up an Atlanta paper and on the front page was the headline that Ernie [S. Ernest] Vandiver had thrown his support behind then the candidate Carter for governorship. So I carried that to Washington, came and took it back to Washington with me that Sunday afternoon and hot-footed it over to the Senator's apartment because I figured that the next day we were going to get a bunch of calls to the Senator's office from the newspapers there in Washington wanting to know what he thought about that. And at that time, the Senator said to me, I took him in and said, "I got some news for you here." And he read it over and said, "That Ernie. That Ernie just can't stay away from politics. He just can't stay away from that Capitol." And you 01:45:00know, that's all he said--that that Ernie just couldn't stay away from politics. And, subsequently, of course, Ernie Vandiver was made adjutant general, the head of all the state's National Guard. But I think the Senator was agitated somewhat that Ernie would take that stand so early--
WILLIAMS: Yeah, public stand in favor of it subsequent to that other articlecoming out. So, you know, it was all of that involved and then to have that happen. So I said, "Oh, Lord, you know, I haven't been here yet a year and I'm probably going to get fired," So we went in--Proctor and I went in (laughs) Proctor went with me because Charles, Charles said, "You did it. Now you take the blame for it." I said, "I'm going in there. I'm going in. Just give me time." So the Senator--for some reason, that was on Wednesday-- The paper, we 01:46:00didn't get the paper--we did not get an Atlanta paper till the day after, and it wasn't until Friday--we got the paper on Thursday afternoon late. The Senator had gone home. We then on Friday morning--I took the newspaper in there with me and I had it marked, all, circled and Proctor went with me. And I said, "Senator, I've got something to show you." I said, "You better read it first." And so he read it, and he said, "Well, I didn't call." And I said, "I know sir." I said, "Let me explain what happened." So I told him what transpired and he said--and he looked at it and read it again. And then he looked up at me and said, "Why did you call?" "Well, Senator we couldn't find out what the results 01:47:00were, and we wanted to know the results so that we could tell you the next morning and we were interested, and there were a whole bunch of us there, and we wanted to find out that night." And he said, "Well, all right." And he looked at it again and said, "Well, a lot worse things have been said about me in my day." (laughs) And that was it. You know--I figured, well, you know, I was going to be fired. But that was it. But it was ironic--I kept thinking about that later on when the nominee became governor and then when he ran for president and all that, to think about all those things that happened and intertwined, and the Senator's name having been used without his permission and the whole thing. But that was politics and the Senator realized it and realized that they had utilized it, knowing full well he wouldn't object. But at the same time in a 01:48:00manner in which I would have not, if I had been candidate or his advisor, would not have done it, but they did it for the purpose of getting elected and they were elected. But that was one of the sidelights where I thought my career in Washington had been ended rather quickly. (laughs)
VOGT: Going back to the last days of his illness, would you say that his mindwas still good--was lucid?
WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah--in fact on Tuesday--he died on Thursday, thetwenty-first of January of 1971. On Tuesday he suffered the stroke. Well, it was late Monday night or early Tuesday morning that he suffered the stroke. Until that time, Senator Russell had every facility as far as mentally. He was in control and he was in control of everything. Even though, as I say, he had given 01:49:00up the will to live a couple of weeks before in that he was refusing to eat. His--after that time, after the stroke which hit him on, I think, Monday night or early Tuesday morning, he then no longer was in control. Now, I'm trying to get my dates straight because what transpired, it must have been Tuesday night, his stroke was probably, from what the doctors told me--we were talking later, 01:50:00that apparently the taxing that had been placed on his body on the circulatory system by his attempts to breathe and by the fact that basically, emphysema is like--all the little nodules in the lungs which take in the oxygen, they grow in little clusters but they are small. And when emphysema strikes, the clusters become like grapes and they grow in huge clusters and they fill up the air passages there and fill up the capacity to breathe so that then you are only limited to the upper portion of the respiratory system. And as the strain was placed on his body, that resulted in the stroke and the cerebral hemorrhage. The day before he had the stroke, Charles Campbell took a letter. I have a copy of 01:51:00the letter that I framed, the famous letter which was sent, the proxy that was sent to Senator [Robert Carlyle] Byrd when Teddy [Edward Moore] Kennedy was running for re-election as the majority leader. I got a call that morning from one of Teddy Kennedy's legislative aides with whom I had been acquainted, and he was a fellow named Teddy, Teddy Roe, who was over on the Senate floor, who was the senator's legislative man there on the floor who kept charge of the legislation and told people what transpired and how to vote or how the majority leader wanted them to vote--whether they voted that way or not. But I got a call that morning from Teddy Roe and Teddy-- I think it's R-O-E or R-O-W-E--he was 01:52:00Mike [Michael Joseph] Mansfield from Montana--was Mike Mansfield's aide prior to working for Teddy Kennedy. The thing that transpired--he called me and said, "Joel, do you know how the Senator is going to vote when--in the caucus for the majority leader this coming Thursday when they have the organization meeting?" And I said, "Well Teddy, I can't tell you how the Senator is going to vote because I don't speak for the Senator. But I understand that Senator Byrd has remained in town during this recess and has been working a lot on getting 01:53:00support for his elevation to majority leader." And Teddy was quite shocked when he heard that because I had seen several Byrd staffers and they had said that Senator Byrd had stayed in town and was working on the thing. So, at the same time, I knew because I had heard Charles dictate the proxy letter that morning for the Senator's signature that the Senator was going to give his proxy for Senator Byrd and not for Senator Kennedy. But I couldn't reveal that. So I thought to myself, "This is something of an ironic situation to be in. I cannot, because of the confidence, reveal what is going to happen, and yet at this moment in time, Teddy Kennedy's people really don't know that he's about to be zapped, because he had not done his homework." He had not really gone around and 01:54:00campaigned personally with all the senators and yet Senator Byrd had. So Senator Russell then signed that letter that morning, and then that night he had his stroke. If providence had worked differently, Teddy Kennedy might still have been the majority leader because if Senator Russell had--if we had not taken that letter to him that day and we had waited until Wednesday to take the letter to him rather than taking it to him on Tuesday, and if he had not--we had not had his signature on that letter which we then turned over to Senator Byrd, then Senator Byrd probably would not have won because Senator Byrd said on that Thursday that the timing was unbelievable. Thursday morning at the organizational session of the Senate when the Democratic caucus met, Senator 01:55:00Byrd went into that meeting with Senator Russell's proxy in his pocket and had told others that he had the Senator's proxy, and Senator Byrd attributed that proxy to making him the majority leader. He publicly attributed it, and told us later that if it had not been for the Senator--Around 1:30 that day, the caucus was at 11--at 1:30 the Senator died. So, the timing was unbelievable. Teddy Kennedy could have still been the majority leader but for the act of providence, you know--and you could, if you looked at that handwriting that was the Senator's signature. Nobody signed it but the Senator, and the Senator did it totally aware of what he was doing because he had called and told Charles to write the letter--to dictate it and bring it out to him. But the writing was his 01:56:00signature. On all of your files here you can see what a bold and healthy signature--his signature on that letter trailed off at the end. He was already very weak, but was in command and wanted to sign it and wanted Byrd to be the majority leader, which he was.
VOGT: Going back almost a year prior to his death, which would have been shortlyafter you arrived in Washington, in February of 1970 there was something called Russell Week in Washington, in which Cox Broadcasting sponsored Richard Russell: Georgia Giant. Family members were in Washington. Could you us about that week?
WILLIAMS: The biggest soiree that we ever had, I'll assure you. It was-- well Igot in on the tail end of the planning because, of course, having--I talked with 01:57:00Hal [Harold] Suit. Hal called me in October. Like I say, after the word got around that I was leaving Arthur Bolton to go to Washington, people in Atlanta started calling me about telling the Senator this, that and the other. Hal Suit called me to say that he had just finished up the filming and was very pleased with the way it had turned out, and that he wanted to talk to me and everything, and that was the first that I had heard about the filming. But then when I got to Washington, plans were already being made for the big cocktail party and the showing, the premiere showing of "Richard Russell: Georgia Giant." The Senator was sort of dismayed. If you had to describe him, I think he was dismayed at all the attention that was paid to him because even knowing, having full knowledge 01:58:00that he had power in Washington and that he had been around there so long and knew everybody and was the most powerful senator in the United States, yet he really didn't know why they were making such a big to-do, you know. Powell Moore, the press secretary, who was having to handle both the plans, as well as the press, as well the plans for family and things like this was pulling his hair out because the Senator had said, "You handle it."--You know--"Do whatever you want to. I'll just be there."--You know--"It doesn't matter to me, you all." And right down to the last detail, Cox, of course--Leonard Reinsch, who was president at that time of Cox was a very meticulous and very domineering type individual, still is for that matter, but he wanted things--the Senator to 01:59:00approve everything right down to the menu. "Were we going to have stuffed grape leaves? Did the Senator object to having a Greek food like stuffed grape leaves on the menu?" Well, you know, the senator didn't give a you know about what they had. In fact, he was wondering why they were having such a big to-do about it. But--and of course, the whole office was abuzz for two weeks in advance, and of course, Miss Ina [Ina Russell Stacy] and Miss Pat [Patience Russell Peterson] arrived early in order to take care of Dick, as they said. That meant that we had to pick them up and take care of them and then make arrangements for all the family, and that meant all of the family to come. It might as well have been an inauguration; he wouldn't have had a smaller group if it had" And of course, the plans--And President Nixon never missed a chance to stroke the Senator in 02:00:00that he was always, I think he more than--I wasn't there when Johnson was president, but I think that if anyone was adept at making the Senator feel like he was something special, the president was. Because he not only appeared, made an appearance that night and spoke very glowing comments and had some great remarks about the Senator, yet, besides coming, he also invited Reverend Jeb, Henry Edward Russell, to preach that next Sunday morning down at the White House at the morning wrship service at the White House. And then invited all of the 02:01:00family members--if you know how many family members there are--invited them all on a private tour of the whole White House. And Pat Nixon took them through the White House. I mean, they took the time out and did this, and you know, the Senator wasn't there. The Senator went down for the morning service but then left. But here the whole family traipsed through the upper rooms--I mean the upstairs of the White House and all this at the invitation of the Nixon's. But the president was very attuned at stroking Senator Russell and making him feel like--you know, and doing little things. He would send over books; he would send the White House car over with a book he thought the Senator might like, and he would write a little note on it, you know: "Dear Dick, I thought you might want to read this book." And it would come over with presidential seal and we'd think 02:02:00it was some important message of state that was arriving, and here a White House car had brought it over and we'd have to sign for it, take it in and the Senator would rip it open with one of his letter openers and there would be this book the president had sent over for him. But that was probably, as I--of all the soirees I went to in Washington when I was on the staff, and of all the soirees that I have been to as an attorney representing the corporation now, that was the biggest and the best--not because I was involved in it and the Senator was there, but they had more food, more extravagant type food, more elaborate type decorations, and every individual that--every chamber of commerce leader, every major military industrial head of corporations, chief lobbyists of 02:03:00corporations--everyone, and all the leadership of the House and Senate and everyone showed up for that party. And the Senator, through it all--and it was taxing, I went back--I had a date with a girl I had known in college, and she had not met the Senator she worked for a congressman over on the House side. I told her after every thing had quieted down a little we'd go back--the Washington Hilton had a room set aside where the president came and sat with the Senator for a while and visited with him, and then they walked out on stage. They each said their little piece, and then the president left before the showing of "The Georgia Giant." He didn't see that. I don't know whether subsequently they showed, they gave him a private showing--I'm sure they did, but he didn't stay for the showing. But then I went back after the thing was 02:04:00over, and the Senator was back in this room resting--it was a sitting room--and I introduced my date and he even said to her, he said, "I don't know why there're making such a big fuss over me. He always--events that self-effacing manner about "why do these people make such a big fuss over me?" But at the same time he was very pleased, you could tell he was very pleased --similar to the time we had the dedication of the Russell Research Center. This was in May of 1970, when at that time Spiro Agnew was vice-president and Agnew was making a speech in Stone Mountain Park that day, on the Saturday that we had 02:05:00the dedication of the Russell Research Center over here. And Agnew was supposed to fly here then to make another speech for the--the dedication speech for the Research Center, but something got fouled up, and this was just another example of how President Nixon always made sure that the Senator was taken care of. Agnew was going to speak and the time for the dedication and the time for the Stone Mountain speech corresponded exactly so he couldn't be at two places at once. So President Nixon sent then Secretary of Agriculture /Clifford M./ Hardin down here and said, "You go down and you be there." So Hardin flew in from Washington. The secretary of agriculture was here. A cabinet member was here for the dedication of the Russell Research Building, not to take the place of Agnew, 02:06:00but at least to be the president's representative at the dedication. Then again, the Senator did the same thing. Anytime anybody did something for him, of that type or that magnitude, he was always very gracious, always very self-effacing, and always was a little bit bewildered on why they were--
BEGIN SIDE 5, CASSETTE #211
The day of the dedication of the Research Center, Proctor had come home with theSenator that first week. It must have been around--he had come home with the Senator early and then Charles had flown down in the middle of the week, and I drove down on Thursday. When I got over to the home, the Senator already was surrounded by a bunch of his old friends there in Winder. In fact--some of whom 02:07:00have since then passed away, but the--it was sort of every time you went to the house there; it was sort of like having court. I mean, because when the Senator was there, a number of the members of the family were always there, a number of his old buddies who had either been his campaign treasurers or somebody of former campaigns was always there, and then, of course, Modine [Thomas] was there holding forth. She was the only woman I know that could make the Senator do anything. I think Miss Ina--Miss Pat made the Senator mad more than likely half the time because she didn't know how to handle him. Miss Ina, she just let him go-- she would let him do whatever he wanted to. But Modine was the one who ran the show. And she was the one--of course, she cooked for him; she cooked 02:08:00what he liked, what he wanted and then everybody else had to eat what he ate. (laughts) But, the day we went over to the Research Center on that Saturday for the dedication, the Senator was still in awe because the governor had sent a state trooper out to lead them over to the Research Center. And he was like: "Why are they doing this for me?" type thing. But it was always self-effacing--even though he enjoyed it and enjoyed the attention and was very proud of the fact that he was able to get the money to put the Research Center here--that was one of his--He said one time afterwards that that was one of the 02:09:00things that he could point to that he took great satisfaction in, getting this agricultural center located here because, of course, Senator [James O.] Eastland wanted it located in Mississippi. And Senator [John O.] Stennis also wanted it located in Mississippi and Stennis was on the Appropriations Committee with Senator Russell. It was sort of a--and Allen Ellender would have liked it to have been in the state of Louisiana because he felt like they had enough agriculture down there. So there was a big fight and the Senator pulled a lot of strings and probably had a lot of activity in the art of compromise to get the thing over here. There was another, I think out in the Midwest somewhere like 02:10:00Kansas was after it too. But then for them to name it after him was, I think he was a little embarrassed that they did name it for him after he had--but he was proud of it and very pleased. So that was kind of a star in his crown when he finally saw it come to fruition and it was built and it was operating and everything and doing the good work it was doing. She was the only woman I know that could make the Senator do anything. I think Miss Ina--kiss Pat made the Senator mad more than likely half the time because she didn't know how to handle him. Miss Ina, she just let him go-- she would let him do whatever he wanted to. But Modine was the one who ran the show. And she was the one--of course, she cooked for him; she cooked what he liked, what he wanted and then everybody else had to eat what he ate. (laughs) But, the day we went over to the Research Center on that Saturday for the dedication, the Senator was still in awe because the governor had sent a state trooper out to lead them over to the Research Center. And he was like: "Why are they doing this for me?" type thing. But it was always self-effacing--even though he enjoyed it and enjoyed the attention and was very proud of the fact that he was able to get the money to put the Research Center ere--that was one of his--He said one time afterwards that that was one of the things that he could point to that he took great satisfaction in, getting this agricultural center located here because, of course, Senator [James O.] Eastland wanted it located in Mississippi. And Senator [John C.] Stennis also wanted it located in Mississippi and Stennis was on the Appropriations Committee with Senator Russell. It was sort of a--and Allen Ellender would have liked it to have been in the state of Louisiana because he felt like they had enough agriculture down there. So there was a big fight and the Senator pulled a lot of strings and probably had a lot of activity in the art of compromise to get the thing over here. There was another, I think out in the Midwest somewhere like Kansas was after it too. But then for them to name it after him was, I think he was a little embarrassed that they did name it for him after he had--but he was proud of it and very pleased. So that was kind of a star in his crown when he finally saw it come to fruition and it was built and it was operating and everything and doing the good work it was doing. I was looking here at this sketch that they did in order to make the statue on the folder. He, for a man--we were talking about Proctor always trying to get him to tell him how much money he had--he was very closed-mouthed about his money. We knew--well Babs always handled his personal effects and his personal transactions and he 02:11:00never, as I understood--now Babs can confirm this or might confirm this--he placed--The majority of his money was in stocks and things like this and mainly in Georgia companies--Coca Cola, Georgia Pacific. When Georgia Pacific first came here, he invested in them and was very pleased. He always was telling us how he thought that they were going to be a good company and he had bought when they first located the first plant here and how his stock had multiplied and divided and he was very pleased and he was always proud of Georgia companies. So he did invest heavily in larger Georgia companies, but he also, one of the quirks because I suppose, having gone through the depression, he never put any more money in savings accounts, in a savings bank then the FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation] covered. He had more savings accounts books scattered 02:12:00around, and Lord knows where, because he didn't want his savings to be more than what was covered by the insurance. But he always when--looking at this coat; this was a black cashmere coat that he wore and he loved that coat because it was--well, it was nice plus it was warm but--that hat, that dumpy hat--I don't know, he must have sat on it a couple of times, but he would put that thing on and wrap his scarf around his neck so he wouldn't get pneumonia or something going out into the snow, but he never would buy--he refused--in fact, Bill Jordan told the story about the fact that he refused to buy a new bed for the 02:13:00longest. He wouldn't buy--I don't know when the last suit he bought because his suits were always--he was always very clean, always had them dry cleaned--Miss Ina or Miss Pat would have them dry cleaned--but he was always wearing the same clothes. He never would buy anything. He didn't like to buy clothes for himself, although he always--and the reason I was thinking about this--he always took notice of ladies dresses and flashy outfits and of men's coats and when men would come in. In fact, Carl Sanders came to see him one time during 1970 and, of course, haying the background on Carl, the Senator greeted him graciously, talked to him, and as he walked in Carl Sanders had on a tremendously loud 02:14:00Madras sports coat. And the Senator looked at him and said, "Carl, you are a picture of sartorial splendor." Of course--and then to top it all, he said, "You look like a hot-shot from Zaydee." Well, Carl took that as a great compliment. Well, little did Carl Sanders know that the first part was, but the second part was the Senator's own way of putting him down? Zaydee, most people thought it was some college fraternity, and they were referring to how the college frats always dressed so snappily. But Zaydee is a little hole in the road between--down around--between Claxton, Georgia, and up around Statesboro, It's just a tiny little--you go through it in two seconds. So the Senator when he 02:15:00gave you that compliment, if you didn't know what he was saying, he'd just put you down, (laughs) because a hot-shot from Zaydee, I'm not sure how they dress down there, but-- But the senator could never accuse himself of being a hot-shot from Zaydee with that crumpled hat, and that old cashmere coat which he dearly loved and had all the pockets full of every kind of paper in the world. I don't know--they should have emptied the pockets--I'm sure it would have filled a file cabinet itself when he died. But he carried something in there--I don't know why he never emptied his pockets because they were always bulging out with-- I was thinking back; we were talking about the sisters and how, the relationships from 02:16:00a staffer watching the sisters and brothers--The Senator, as he realized or as he became more unable to physically get around and as he felt himself slipping, he began to want the companionship of his sisters and his brothers more. In fact, he--one of the other of the sisters or brothers was generally in Washington during that last year. He hardly ever stayed in his condominium by himself. He enjoyed the company of Ina and of Pat Peterson because both of them 02:17:00generally left him alone and let him do whatever he wanted to. Pat would push him a little more than Miss Ina, but they would come, one or the other, and they would swap off. If one had been there for weeks, the other one would come and relieve--because he didn't want to be by himself--he didn't want to be alone at night. And he wouldn't eat if he was in the apartment by himself--he refused to eat. In fact, we went back in February of 1970, we went into the apartment one night with him--he had asked us to come and ride with him home. He wanted to talk about something, but anyway, we called John Wardlaw and had the limousine brought around and then we all piled in and rode down, and he didn't really want to talk about anything--he just wanted to have company and we watched the news with him and then one or the other of us would take our car, and we'd follow the limousine so we'd have a way to--John would go on back and we'd go home. But he 02:18:00had fruit cakes stacked up. In fact, he gave me one. He said, Here. Take this home with you." And he would just--people would send him all this food and he just stacked it away, and he just had it. But he never would eat. He refused to eat at home because he didn't want to be by himself and eat alone. So therefore, the sisters and brothers provided an incentive, and they--he would sometimes take them out to dinner. You know, "Come on. I'm going to take you out to dinner. But they would cook for him and that more than anything provided him with companionship during that time because I think when you're sick, you do--and you're alone, that's even worse. So--Fielding Russell--I think Dr. Jeb, of course, had a family--his wife and couldn't get away from Memphis like--Fielding had a wife, Miss Virginia [Wilson Russell] in Statesboro, but she 02:19:00had a life of her own and didn't mind Fielding coming up and staying several weeks at a time with the Senator--especially during the summer because she would always visit with some of the children--her own children. Fielding Russell was quite a contrast to the Senator in that where the Senator at age sixty-four or sixty-five had had pneumonia and was on his way down in declining health, Fielding Russell was a vigorous--smaller man--but vigorous and was a great tennis player and the Senator would go out--three of us lived in a complex called the River House that had tennis courts behind it and everything. And Dr. Fielding would come and play tennis with us in the summer, and the Senator would coe out--have John Wardlaw drive the limousine out and he would sit there. He would bring Fielding Russell out to the tennis courts where we were to play, and 02:20:00then the Senator would sit in the air conditioned comfort and watch us play. But, and it was sad in a way because the heat got to him too, sapped his strength so he would stay in the car, but there he was, wanting I'm sure, wishing that he was out there playing instead of Fielding out there playing, and yet, you know, he enjoyed getting Fielding out there so that Fielding would have companionship and play and getting his exercise. So Dr. Fielding was a favorite, a favorite guest, a favorite brother to come up. Of course, Dick [Richard B. III], Judge Russell now who is an attorney there in Winder came up often, and Dr. [George] Parkerson came up. The Senator had the best care in the world there in Washington with all of the best pulmonary specialists that Walter Reed could 02:21:00provide and they had some of the best. The was in a wonderful VIP suite up there on the top floor of the east end--the east wing of the Walter Reed Hospital. And each of the rooms had a sitting room off and then there was a huge reception area out front. There was a guard at the door and closed circuit TV because from time to time, Mamie [Doud] Eisenhower was there, Kitsie [Katherine Van Deusen] Westmoreland, General Westmoreland's wife, was there from time to time, and it was all--When they were up there and other senators and senator's wives would be there from time to time in the hospital and when the Senator was there, he--generally there was someone there at the same time when they were always visiting. So he had good care in the hospital and interesting company of other 02:22:00patients. But he always wanted a family member and he always had Dr. Parkerson come up when he would get sick even though George Parkerson could not do anything but confirm what he already had. He felt better that his own home physician from Winder, Georgia, was there to oversee what those army doctors were doing to him. And George would come trudging up there every time the Senator would call and say--He'd call up and say, "Get me George--I want to talk to George. Tell George to come." And George would come and Dick would come and both would consult with the doctors and they would tell them and us what they were doing for him. But, basically all they were doing was performing handholding operations and yet, it was a comfort to the Senator because he felt 02:23:00like somebody other than--not a stranger, but somebody who was more personal, was there and helping him. He--in fact, one of the things--toward the end you were asking whether he had facilities [sic], full facilities, yes. At that time, from the very first--from January, when I first arrived there in Washington, they had--the Russell family had, as well as some of the other friends in various businesses had been urging him to set up the Russell Foundation to take care of his papers. They had drawn up--in fact, Hugh Peterson Jr. had drawn up the Foundation, articles for the Foundation, the actual incorporation of the 02:24:00Foundation and all. All they needed him to do was to have him sign off on that and approve it. And he looked over the membership of the Foundation--those members of the board and approved those, and he said, "Those are fine" and then he added one or two, and things like this, but he never would sign over--he never did sign over the papers to the Foundation. And I think it was because that would have been the last physical sign that he was on the decline--which he refused. In fact, one week before he died, I pulled the Foundation papers out of a drawer in a desk where he usually signed his mail there in the hospital and showed it to him. He had been up that day and I said, "Senator, you still 02:25:00haven't taken care of these Foundation papers and he said, "Well, I just don't want to bother with that right now." And he--that was in contrast to the fact that during this period of time--from time to time they were feeding him intravenously because he was losing strength and refusing to eat--he was feeding very little. He called--Dick Russell was there, Dick IV which is Dick Russell of Winder's son was there, and the Senator called Ina and myself and Dick and little Dick in--there are so many of the Dick Russell's that you have to differentiate because of Fielding's Dick--and made a gift to Dick's son and 02:26:00said, "I am in sound mind and am very capable of disposing of my assets, and I want you as witnesses to know that I'm giving to little Dick these articles," and he named off what he wanted to give him. And that was--in contrast he was disposing of some of his personal property but would refuse--totally refused to sign off on those papers to dispose of all of his papers to give them to the Foundation. He continued to not want to admit that he was in his declining days. And at the same time, he insisted--in fact--insisted on paying for some of his 02:27:00sisters and brothers, all of whom came to visit him during his last hospital stay before he died, but insisted that they all come, and offered to pay them if they couldn't afford to come. Of course, they all could afford to come but he wanted to pay them for coming and of course they declined. But, they did come, and some of his nephews, including a nephew who's a preacher who had worked with the Senator for a while and had become--come into disfavor with the Senator because he was a very liberal young fellow and had--Rusty [Lewis Russell Nelson] had demonstrated with the civil rights people there in Washington and the Senator was very unhappy with him for a while. But Rusty came to see the Senator one Sunday and spent all morning with him talking about God and religion and 02:28:00things because--and the Senator was very interested and talked to him and talking about religion and life after life and things like this, and gave an indication to us that he was, he realized that he was dying and that the time was near and was trying--he was wrapping up. He refused--it almost seemed like he refused until he had wrapped up all his family personal affairs where he took care of little gifts that he wanted to give to someone who was named after him; took care of talking to a minister about religion; took care of seeing and saying goodbye, basically saying goodbye to all of his sisters and brothers who were living, saying, "Come up here and see me. I want to talk to you; I want to see you; I want to be with you." And then giving up. It was amazing that a man 02:29:00in life, who was in control of everything seemed to be in control even to his death of when he was going to die, which, of course, was ironic, in some ways that if he had-- Well, the doctor had told me later, one of the pulmonary doctors told me, that if he had simply given up smoking or never smoked the tremendous amount that he did, and if he had exercised and taken care of himself in his later years--the Senator hated to do the exercises necessary to keep the--The pulmonary specialist told him that if he would exercise everyday on his exercise which he had in his hideaway office and if he would walk, that that would reduce the amount of invasion of the emphysema into the upper part of his 02:30:00respiratory tract. But the Senator, because he was busy and because he really didn't like to do that, he refused to get up there and he, from time to time said, "Well, I can't do it. I just can't do it. I don't feel like it--you all don't make me do this." And you know when you're working for a man who* a powerful man and he says he's not going to do something, you don't really argue with him much. But it was sad because at age--in his early seventies, seventy-two or whatever, you don't think of that as being old now, and yet he died when most men are still very vigorous, and he died the most powerful man in the Senate, and yet he felt like--seemed to feel like and seemed to act like he had nothing else to live for--that he had done all he could do. He'd done everything that was important to him, and he was ready to die. And he simply 02:31:00likes the old Indians, they simply walked out and quit eating, and he just quit eating and died. Looking over at his desk reminded me, I think I told you but I don't think we have it on tape about Bo [Howard Hollis] Callaway. We've talked about Carl Sanders but Bo Callaway came to see the Senator one day and said in a meeting--they were meeting on something else, and Bo looked at the Senator and said, "You know, Senator, I'm not going to run against you in the next year's campaign." And the Senator looked him straight in the eye and said, "Bo, I appreciate your saying that, but if you had run, I would beat you anyway." (laughs) So that--he was, in contrast, and the reason I thought of that--at that 02:32:00time, which was in the fall of 1970 he was still vigorous and still planned to run. In fact, he had made some indications about "Well, we've got to start thinking about the campaign and doing this and doing that" and yet, at the same time, by December when he had another attack of pneumonia and in January when he had been debilitated by pneumonia and ravages of emphysema, he was then making peace with his brothers and sisters and relatives and seeing them and saying goodbye. So it was quite a contrast how quickly he went down.
VOGT: Going back to the gubernatorial campaign in Georgia in 1970, you discussed02:33:00a little bit about Carter and Sanders and the Democratic side. By the same token, Hal Suit was running against Jimmy Carter in 1970 and Hal Suit had conducted the interviews with Russell on the "Georgia Giant" documentary. Several times during that campaign, Suit made comments along the line that he had Russell's support and Carter was also giving the same sort of comment. Would you like to--
WILLIAMS: I think the Senator--well, for one thing, the Senator realized fullwell that Hal Suit had been able to capitalize on his activities with Senator Russell in making this documentary film from the standpoint that Hal then was 02:34:00able to get name recognition and things of this nature. But the Senator had a--well, he always spoke very highly of Hal Suit. I never remember or recall him saying anything whatsoever derogatory about Hal Suit, and was also always very cordial to him, and appreciated what he had done. But he attempted, even though he did have some problems with Governor Sanders, he attempted to remain neutral during that campaign and he got dragged into tentative support of Carter because of newspaper reports and things of this nature. As far as I know, he always remained neutral and didn't say anything one way or the other against either of them or for them. And just by the relationship of the two men--Carter having come to meet him and talk with him and Suit having done the documentary--it provided them with a nexus but never a platform or a support, an endorsement or anointment of the support from Senator Russell, and so he attempted to remain neutral--he was only caught up by the events and became less neutral as time 02:35:00went along.
CASTRONIS: When you were talking about wrapping, how he seemed to tie up all theloose ends of his life toward the end, I wonder if he ever expressed anything of his past friendship or past close friendship with Lyndon Johnson, or--I don't 02:36:00know if there was any bitterness there or if they--
WILLIAMS: I don't--well, during see Lyndon Johnson was still alive at the time,and Lyndon Johnson--the Senator, I think realized Lyndon Johnson had maybe sometimes used him because he always said, "That Lyndon!" You know, when he would start to do something, "That Lyndon!" But he, I think at the same time, he was proud of Lyndon Johnson because Lyndon Johnson always attributed his rise to the Senator's tutelage. And, of course, Lyndon Johnson always courted Senator Russell. Earl Leonard--I don't know, well, these are stories that go down in history and Earl Leonard tells a story and I only tell it from the standpoint of 02:37:00Leonard's telling it to me, but Leonard was there. Lyndon Johnson was a very gross man from the standpoint that he was bawdy and I'd say a little less than couth many times, and Earl tells the story of Lyndon Johnson when he was the majority leader just before he was selected as the vice-presidential candidate with Teddy--I mean with Jack Kennedy, coming into the Senator with a list of committee appointments that he was going to make and he--my reason for telling this story is that Johnson always--
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Lyndon Johnson, just like Richard Nixon, always stroked the Senator during theperiod of time that they were in office, or before. And Lyndon came in and said, 02:38:00"Dick, I want you to look over the members of these committees I'm going to appoint them to," because at that time the majority leader had total control over appointment to Senate committees. And Earl was standing in there and the Senator's office--the long, big office and off to right from the Senator's desk over between our office and the Senator's office was a restroom; and Lyndon Johnson went into the restroom. He said, "I'm going in here to the restroom, and you just check off the ones, the names, you don't want on there." And Earl said that the Senator sat there at his desk and took his pen and started scratching through a name saying, "No, no, no!" And Johnson would yell, "Dick, who was that 02:39:00Dick? Boy, bring me that list!" (laughs) So Earl went back and forth between the bathroom and the Senator's desk every time the Senator would say, "No, no, no"--"Dick, who was that? Boy, bring me that list!" And so-- But then Johnson, of course, the story goes that Johnson, when he was running for reelection, the Senator took off and went to Spain after Johnson, in 1964, the Senator was in Spain and wasn't going to campaign for Johnson. And Johnson sent for Bobby [Robert Lee Jr.] Russell, the judge at that time, the circuit court judge, asked him to come to Washington and had him call the Senator on the phone from the White House over in Spain to convince the Senator to come back and campaign for him, and the Senator loved Judge Russell. And, I understand, it was better than--almost like a son. And so, after his call, the Senator came back and 02:40:00campaigned out in Texas and several other places for Johnson, but the-- You asked about whether they talked about him or whether they remained friends. The only thing I can say is that there was a strained relation because of this fact: during the entire time I was with Senator Russell, and of course that was fourteen months there in Washington--when Lyndon Johnson would come back to Washington, he of course stayed either at the White House or at--over in the--either used the offices provided for him across the street from the White House. He would call the Senator or would have one of his aides call the Senator, but he rarely ever talked to the Senator himself, and a couple of 02:41:00times, Johnson was in town when the Senator was in the hospital. In fact, in the fall of 1970, I remember once when Tommy [Wyatt Thomas] Johnson called out--Tommy Johnson was from Macon and had been Lyndon Johnson's press aide at the end of his term as president and had gone back to Texas with Lyndon Johnson. Tommy called and said that the president, or the former president, was in town and wanted to know how the Senator was. And the Senator was, at that time, had had pneumonia. But Lyndon Johnson never came to see him, and never talked to him personally during that period of time. So--and at the Senator's death, Lyndon Johnson didn't make an effort to come to the funeral which tended to indicate to 02:42:00me that when Johnson left the White House, he and the Senator were no longer as close. It was evidenced by the fact that you would have thought that a man who was dying--especially a man who supposedly had helped Lyndon Johnson become president, would have come to his funeral, or would have come to see him, being there in Washington over across the street ensconced in his office and could have had every White House car at his disposal to go and see the senator at Walter Reed, did not come. So I would say that their relationship at the end was strained. We were talking about his family and Bobby Russell, about the fact that Bobby Russell was almost like a son and the way he treated us, and the fact that the staffers, those men on the staff were treated almost like grandchildren 02:43:00or children. One time the Senator--for some reason I was in his office and we were chatting and the subject came up of why he never did get married. And he--I think he was asking me. He said, "Are you dating anybody here," you know. "You're not going to get married on me, are you?" Because Proctor was dating a young lady who he subsequently married in February after the Senator's death in January, and Proctor had announced to the senator in August that he was getting married. Well, this really upset Senator Russell because Proctor had been sort of like his traveling butler. Proctor did everything for him from handling calls to handling messages from the White House. Basically he was the Senator's right-hand man and the Senator didn't want Proctor to leave his side. Well, that 02:44:00put a tremendous strain on Proctor, and Proctor did a yeoman's job of taking care of the Senator's needs and yet at the same time, having a life of his own and trying to date and everything. So I don't know how Mary Virginia [Langston Jones] put up with his being away so much, but--or how they ever decided to get married, but they went to the Senator and told him that they were planning to get married, and they hoped to get married in February. And the Senator gave them his blessings, of course, but it was after that time he was asking me whether I was planning to get married or something, and the question came up why he never got married or did he ever seriously--and although there was the story about, in the thirties, that he was engaged to someone and then had broken the engagement off when the newspapers spread it around. He said, he told me the story, he said, "You know," he said, "I always told everybody who asked me," he 02:45:00said, "I'll marry the woman that you can find me who can afford for me not to work." And so he said, "I made the mistake of telling that to Marjorie Meriwether Post," who, millionaires that she was from the Post fortunes, she called him up one day about--he said, "Two weeks later she called me up." She said, "Dick, I've got her." And he said, "Marjorie, what do you mean?" And she said, "I've got the woman you wanted." He said, "What do you mean?" She said, "You said that you wanted a wife that could afford for you not to work." She said, "I've got her." And he named off the woman. I've forgotten her name, but who was equally as wealthy and very attractive woman there from outside Washington who--Marjorie Meriwether Post was going to make the match. And he 02:46:00told her, "Forget that, Marjorie. I'm not going to do it." But that was his response to every one of them, "You find me a wife that can afford for me not to work." (laughs)
VOGT: You were involved in the fund raising project of the Russell Foundationfollowing the senator's death.
VOGT: Could you tell us about your work with that?
WILLIAMS: Well, after the Senator died, we--those of us on the staff remained--You were allowed from the date of the Senator's death until, I think it was, sixty days you are allowed to remain on the staff, so we--to close up the office. That was a very sad situation because we had to--we were basically--the senior senators there who were still living wanted to get on with the business of the Senate, and they wanted the offices and they immediately, Senator Ellender took over the Senator's hideaway office over in the Capitol, and 02:47:00Senator Stennis--one of the Senator's best friends, of course, was eligible for taking over Senator Russell's office, but told us to take the time and to get everything done and wrap it up. So we--I stayed on there to do that and then worked for Dave Gambrell until July and then went to work with Savannah Foods for the chairman of the board at that time, who was Lawton Calhoun, who was a good friend of the Senator's and who had been asked to be chairman of the Finance Committee to raise the money for the Foundation. During that period of about a year, while Mr. Calhoun was involved in the fund raising effort, I helped him coordinate into the districts the fund raising, the various fund raising districts and to pinpoint various large corporate donors who could 02:48:00possibly be sources for donations to the Foundation based on their former friendship with the Senator. So we acted sort of as a coordination for the Foundation's fund raising efforts, and I worked hand in glove with Mr. Calhoun on the fund raising. The difficulty in any situation, and this was one reason that the approach had been made to the Senator while he was still living was that it is only human nature that when people--a person of immense power is alive, most people in order to curry favor would be willing to give a larger donation than when the man dies, and it was a difficult time even though we were 02:49:00grateful and we did--Mr. Calhoun was successful in raising over a million and a half dollars for the Foundation. It was--the task was made difficult by the fact that the Senator was dead and could no longer be of benefit to those larger corporations who had maybe had benefitted greatly from the Senator's activities during his life. That's the general thing of "what can you do for me tomorrow" type attitude of some of the givers, but we were--those who did make donations made substantial donations. Those who were his friends in life were also his friends in death in that they did respond and responded magnificently. But it took a longer time in organizing and getting it going. If the Senator had still been living and he had approved the Foundation and the actions of the Foundation 02:50:00during his life, it would have been very easy. But I think that was--the Senator maybe refused to sign the thing, the Foundation papers knowing that immediately after initiating the Foundation that those who were going to raise the money would immediately start. Because until he signed those things, no one was going to take action to raise money for a Foundation that he had not authorized, so he, just as we talked earlier, being a man of the old school of high honor felt a little embarrassed about having people running around raising money for him. He was always self-effacing about people naming buildings or dedicating something in his honor. But to have people going around raising money, he felt, 02:51:00I think, a little hesitant about it. That there might be some conflict of interest if, while he was still in office, for someone to raise money for him. So he refused. He just, even that last week, continued to say, "I'll talk about that tomorrow" when the question was raised about signing the Foundation papers. But we were successful Mr. Calhoun and those who were in charge of the various congressional districts in fund raising for the different congressional districts worked hard and did yeoman's work and were successful in getting together the money for the Foundation which was a tribute both to them and to Senator Russell. One of the things, thinking back about the time toward the end, Senator Russell during the last days after his stroke, as I indicated we were 02:52:00always in there at the hospital every day, one of us would go see him during the earlier hospital visits, and the routine was generally, we'd bring in the mail and we'd let him sign the mail and tell him what was going on over in the Senate and things like this. And he would ask questions about the events of the day and activities. But he once--once he had the stroke, he, of course, was in a debilitated situation, he was still able to talk somewhat, and one of the last things--showing the humanity of the man--one of the last things that I remember was that on Wednesday afternoon before he died on Thursday, the colonel who was 02:53:00a pulmonary specialist came in, who had been treating him for several years there, came in to see him and the Senator wanted to sit up on the edge of the bed. And he couldn't talk because his speech had been impaired somewhat, but he took the colonel's hand and kissed the man's hand and the man knew that the Senator was trying to thank him for all he'd done. I mean, even in that last twenty-four hours, he was thanking people for what they had done for him. And the colonel, sadly enough, on the Sunday of the funeral when we had some difficulty getting the planes out of Washington in because of the fog in Atlanta, so the colonel and the captain, who was the nurse, a female nurse there 02:54:00who had been helping and treating him in the VIP section; they were on the plane that was unable to land, so they weren't able to come. It was sad for us on our part in that many of the people that worked with him and had known him at the last were unable--the orderly who had pushed him around in a wheelchair and taken him to various therapy sessions and things like that was also on the plane, the air force plane coming down, and they were unable to land. We had--the senior staffers and several members of the family had flown down. The president, as a last gesture, of course, next to the last gesture, he came down and laid a wreath on Saturday when the Senator's body lay in state at the Capitol. But the president-- President Nixon--had offered Air Force One and even 02:55:00on that day, it was ironic--a little irony. We flew into Atlanta in Air Force One. Of course, the family and the staffers had full run of Air Force One. The Senator's casket was up front and it was very sad in a way, but also it relieved the sadness of the event by the fact that we were--it was an exciting time too to be on Air Force One and have the real run of it and could use the communication center and call anybody in the United States you wanted to from Air Force One. And it was a thoughtful gesture on the part of the president. But we landed in Atlanta in order to get everything ready in the cars and the hearse ready for us to disembark. Then Governor Carter walked on Air Force One for the first time, and walked in and gave his condolences first to the family and then 02:56:00to the staffers, and looked around and looked at Air Force One, and millions of times I've sat and watched Air Force One take off from Andrews /Air Force Base/ with now President Carter on it and thought of the fact that the first time that Jimmy Carter saw Air Force One was when Senator Russell came home for the last time, but it was a day filled with irony even then.
VOGT: Thinking back about his liking to have young people around him, could yougive us some insight into areas of your life in which you feel he influenced you--his character, his personality, any advice or counseling he might have given you while you worked with him. 02:57:00
WILLIAMS: Well, I think, his thoughts on the press. If the press called you, orsomeone called you and the fact's a fact, don't try to hide it. Just say, "Sure, it's a fact. It happened." If you try to hide something, I thought back about to Nixon, if you try to hide something, you'd only get yourself deeper and deeper into problems. If you just face it and the truth is a fact and the Senator faced off on everything that way. If it happened, it happened. If you have to deal with it, deal with it honestly. If it's--at the same time, don't try to let your ego get in the way of dealing with it. He never did; dealing with staffers, dealing with presidents, he never let--he dealt with people, even who are presidents as people--rather than--as someone equal rather than someone who was 02:58:00better than he was. He always dealt with them--treated everyone equally. Even Modine, his cook, was treated with the same treatment as he treated his brothers and sisters. In fact, she, of course, lives in a house that he bequeathed her because he treated her like he did his brothers and sisters and I think treating others as equals and not as below you or above you. The one thing that he said, of course--we were talking one day, and I asked him. I said, "Senator, if I ever thought about running for office, what office I should run for?" And it was sort of ironic. Of course, he had been governor. But he said, "Don't run for state 02:59:00office. Run for federal office." He said, "You can get a lot more done up here than you can run for the state house, or the state legislature. He didn't talk in terms of governor, he sort of--we avoided that issue. But he said--I said, "If I thought about going back home and running for a state representative's seat, what would you think?" He said, "No. Run for federal office." He said, "You get more done. You could get elected, get elected to federal office." You were asking what kind of advice he ever gave me personally that was one of the pieces of advice. I've never taken him tip on it, but at least that was his advice on that subject.
VOGT: Can you think of any other areas you'd like to talk about at this timethat you haven't touched oh perhaps or--
WILLIAMS: Let's look--just cut off that a second and let's look through here. Iwanted to see what--(tape stops and starts again) we were talking about friends 03:00:00a while ago of the Senator's and the fact that they were always--there was always someone around the house when he was home. Cliff Rutledge and Clair Harris were two of his closest friends, and Clair Harris doing the dedication of the Russell Research Center in May drove the senator over with Cliff Rutledge and they--Clair was in good health at that time--apparent good health. Subsequently developed cancer which would rapidly take away his vitality, and by fall, had certainly gone down quite a bit. In fact, I notice on the day sheet on October 20, Cliff Rutledge called and said that Clair was in a great deal of pain, sedated due to pain, and was not totally paralyzed, but was greatly so. And I remember the Senator--during this time, any of his friends or any of the 03:01:00congressmen who either had died--he took it very personally. And he worried about people. I had a--he worried about Clair Harris, and the fact that Clair was dying. [Felix] Edward Hebert, who was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, died during this period of time when the Senator was in the hospital there in the fall, and the Senator--that even more pointed up his mortality. Anyway he began to worry about it. I had a problem of having a growth taken off and the Senator worried for four days until I had gotten the results back. He was very worried about cancer and thought "Oh!" But this was on his mind and he didn't--he took things very personally thinking, "Oh, my friend is dying. Oh, my 03:02:00friend Eddy Hebert who I served on many conferences with, is now gone." It was very, I think, maybe depressing when he learned these news [items], but at the same time, he needed it; he wanted to know about it. (Tape stops and starts again) I notice here October 5 Anne Campbell, Anne Pritchard had sent a note into him that a committee for the National League of Families, who were concerned about prisoners of war, missing in action in Vietnam, brought a pledge card by. It said: "As a member of the United States Senate I pledge as long as I occupy my present position of trust and responsibility, I shall do everything within my power to secure protection under the Geneva Convention for those United States citizens who are missing in prisons or war in Southeast Asia." And his signature, they used the signature machine to sign his name, and then .my 03:03:00own writing is here on it saying, "File. Do not respond." And my recollection of that was that his response to it was we don't--this is something for President Nixon and this is a policy situation for the president. I'm--and going back to his thing on separation of powers that he should not get involved in something that the state department and the executive department was within the parameter of their leadership and action. And so he told me, "Just file it. I don't ant to sign that because of that." So that was just an example of what he--how he felt about those things even though he was concerned about the POWS and the MIAs, yet he felt that that type of action on his part might hurt the chances 03:04:00rather than help the chances of the MIAs. During that time--during the last part of the Senate session in 1970, we had--we had two things happen. One, Golda Meir came and met--in fact, requested a meeting with Senator Russell and a couple of other senators. The Senator said after the meeting, he had a luncheon meeting with her, and I asked him what he thought about her, and he said she was probably one of the greatest living individual leaders of countries at that time, and he had great respect for her and he didn't consider her in terms of a woman. He didn't say one of the greatest women living; he said one of the greatest individuals living and one of the greatest leaders of a country at that 03:05:00time. And I don't know what they discussed. We didn't ask him, but apparently it was during the period of time when we were beginning negotiations and attempting a settlement and shuttle diplomacy--before shuttle diplomacy. But she apparently impressed him greatly because he kept talking about her for quite some time. The other thing that happened--the Senator was on the policy committee that appointed--made the appointments of senators to committee assignments when the new Congress came in. Senator Fritz [Ernest Frederick] Hollings was--that was one regret that the Senator had, was that Fritz Hollings wanted to be on the Appropriations Committee, and the Senator couldn't appoint him to the 03:06:00Appropriations Committee at the previous session because he had already made a promise to Mike Mansfield or one of the other members of leadership that another individual would be on the Appropriations Committee since Strom Thurmond was a Republican and was on Appropriations, he didn't feel that he should appoint Fritz Hollings. Subsequently, Fritz Hollings is now on the Appropriations Committee. But, in fact, I believe that if I'm not mistaken, that it was /Walter Frederick/ Mondale that had been line to be appointed to replace, or edged out Hollings for the slot on the Appropriations Committee
VOGT: Joel, we want to thank you for coming over today. We've interview and it's03:07:00really covered some areas that we've not had interviews. Thank you very much.