Partial Transcript: I'm anxious to get right into a discussion of S. Marvin Griffin.
Segment Synopsis: Sam Griffin discusses the life and career of his father, Marvin Griffin. He says that his grandfather served in the Georgia House of Representatives for several terms, so his father was born into a world of politics. Griffin talks about his father's military career and time in the Georgia House of Representatives before he became governor in 1954.
Keywords: Bainbridge; Brad Hamm; Citadel; Ed Rivers; Ellis Arnall; Ernest Howard Pat Griffin; Gene Cox; Georgia National Guard; Georgia Tech; Henry Grady; Kimball House; M.E. Thompson; Musgrove; Navy; Randolf-Macon Military Academy
Partial Transcript: Ben, let me turn to you now.
Segment Synopsis: Wiggins discusses his role as Governor Griffin's executive secretary and describes the relationship he had with him. Sam Griffin discusses Governor Griffin's attempt to increase appropriations to his rural roads program.
Keywords: Ernest Vandiver; Stone Mountain; Toccoa, Georgia
Partial Transcript: Do you remember the George Bagby story?
Segment Synopsis: Sam Griffin recalls the time when Representative George Bagby openly opposed Marvin Griffin, even though he knew it might cost his brother his job as a license examiner. Marvin Griffin then got Bagby's brother fired. Sam Griffin then comments on the partisanship of today's politics.
Keywords: Pat Donnelly; State Patrol; license examiner; rural roads; telegram
Partial Transcript: I guess it's a good a time to explain how his greatest political liability was the enemies he chose early on.
Segment Synopsis: Sam Griffin discusses his father's role as the executive secretary to Ed Rivers. He says that Ed Rivers wanted to fire the highway chairman at the time, Clint Miller, but he was unable to do so because of an injunction. Ed Rivers sent Marvin Griffin to remove Miller from the office anyway, which caused Marvin Griffin to get charged with contempt of court and for violating the injunction. Ed River's later pardoned Marvin Griffin, which was the beginning of his bad relationship with the press.
Keywords: Black Hills; Cadenhead Commission; Jorees; Stone Mountain; Vance Custer; golf tournament; search warrant
Partial Transcript: Well, a good successful first administration. As I said, very progressive and did a lot of good things for the state. And then he decided to run again four years later.
Segment Synopsis: Sam Griffin discusses how his father lost the reelection for governor to Carl Sanders after the county unit system was abolished. He says that after he lost, Marvin Griffin stayed involved in politics and wrote for the family newspaper, The Post-Searchlight, which Sam later inherited.
Keywords: Atlanta Journal Constitution; Cracker Baron; Garland Byrd; George Wallace; Tom Gregory; Willie Highgrass
Partial Transcript: What was the best thing you remember about your father?
Segment Synopsis: Sam Griffin discusses his relationship with his father and talks about his memories of him. He also talks about his sister who died in the Winecoff Hotel fire in 1946, one of the deadliest hotels fires in U.S. history.
Keywords: Grady Hospital; adjutant general; cancer
BOB SHORT: Welcome to another in our series Reflections on Georgia Politics.Today we're going to discuss the administration of one of Georgia's great governors, Marvin Griffin. We have with us his son Sam, who is the editor of the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, and Mr. Ben Wiggins, who was executive secretary to Governor Griffin and a member of the Georgia Public Service Commission. So welcome gentlemen. I'm anxious to get right into a discussion of S. Marvin Griffin.
GRIFFIN: Where would you like to start?
SHORT: Let's start at the very beginning.
GRIFFIN: Okay. First let me say how much we appreciate you doing this becauseoutside of a few of us who are fewer in number every day, and whose members are not improving any, there are not a lot of people who can speak to it from first-hand information, but he's certainly one of my favorite topics. I've 00:01:00just began with you with his family. His father, Ernest Howard Pat Griffin, my grandfather who died before I was born, so I never knew him. But vicariously I feel like I did between the stories I've heard about him. But he was a member of the House for several different terms. And I suppose that's where my dad got his love of politcs because he would come up to Atlanta with him during the session and they would stay at the old --
SHORT: Henry Grady
GRIFFIN: No, no, this was before. Henry Grady was where the governor's mansion was.
WIGGINS: How about the Kimball House?
GRIFFIN: The Kimball House. Couldn't think of the Kimball House. Thank you,man. It takes two of us to come up with it. But at the Kimball House. Then he would wander around. In Atlanta you could do that then. And he remembers while his father was in the legislature, he remembers coming up to the governor's 00:02:00mansion where the Henry Grady was and swinging on the gate. And a policeman came along then and told him he couldn't do that. He wanted to know whose house it was. He told him, and he said, "Well, you can't swing on that gate, but would like to be in there one day?" And he said, "Yes," he'd like to live there. And so that got him started and of course he went to the Citadel. Pitched baseball for the Citadel. In the summertime he pitched baseball also for sandlot teams. He used to go down to his brother-in-law's place at Lake City -- his brother-in-law had a drug store, Russ Davis. He would drink sodas in the mornings and play baseball in the afternoons. Baseball was a great love of his, and he was a good athlete. He graduated from the Citadel in the class of 1929 00:03:00just before the stock market crash and was fortunate enough to get a job at Randolf-Macon Military Academy in Front Royal, Virginia as commandant of cadets and professor of military science and history and Spanish. His classmate and close friend who was later his best man was Tom Howard, who got the same job, a comparable job at Staunton Military Academy. Howie went on the company in World War II and Howard was killed at St. Lobe. But he got started and my grandfather Smith, that was my mother's name, in Winchester, was the county treasurer, which is what we would call tax commissioner here, for twenty something years. So it was not only in his blood, he married into it. When his father became ill in 00:04:00the early '30's, he came back to Bainbridge to run the paper. The depression was at it's peak, business was at it's worst. Accounts receivable weren't worth a whole lot. But he and my mother came back to Bainbridge just before my grandfather died. My sister was born in Winchester and I was born in Bainbridge in '36, so I guess you know how old I am. But he ran for the legislature in '34, I think it was, and served one two-year term there. And then his father died. Those were tough days in the Depression. He ran for Congress in '36 and was defeated, Gene Cox defeated him. It was a funny thing that happened because one of the things his opponents used on him was that his grandfather -- the 00:05:00rumor was -- that his grandfather was a Republican. Well that was certain death in south Georgia and the thing about it is -- I never did find out and he didn't either -- but he was post master in Whitman. He was a Confederate veteran and he was post master in Whitman and his name was Sam Griffin. Also, he got a job at the end of the war somehow or 'nother, so he must have been a Republican. I don't know, but anyway, it was a successful campaign tactic and he didn't make it, but he learned a lot by it. And he came to Atlanta as did a lot of his political contemporaries. He got a job with the revenue department so that he could afford to be in the newspaper business -- and that part hasn't changed a whole lot since then. But his contemporaries at that time were, of course Ellis Arnall was attorney general at about that time. And Brad Hamm would do the same 00:06:00thing, he'd come up to get a job so he could live to do other things. M.E. Thompson. They were all good friends, collegues. Later, at one time or another, in varying degrees, they were politicals opponents, but I think they remained friends throughout. I know they did -- in some rocky times. Then he was serving down in Musgrove as executive secretary for Ed Rivers. And I'm going to come back and tell you something Musgrove started, but I'll just give you the chronology first. Down in Musgrove he was Ed River's executive secretary and he got an appointment, I think, to the highway department, to the highway board and recommended Marvin for his job, so he became Ed's executive secretary. And that's where he was until the oncoming war in 1940 and Gene Talmadge's election, and of course he wasn't invited to stay. Things haven't 00:07:00changed that much. And so he came on back to Bainbridge and resigned -- he had a reserve commission, Citadel -- and his resigned as reserve commission and enlisted in the Georgia National Gaurd. And was appointed as Captain to raise a battery of laymen, which he did. And he and the battery D of the 101st under General Joe Fraiser, a First World War veteran who was a wonderful, wonderful man. Big Presbyterian Church member. Harry Truman was his captain in World War I, they served together. And Colonel Joe took them all over -- at that time Colonel Joe -- took them over to New Guinea. They were the first American troops in New Guinea. And they arrived in, I think it was May 3, 1942. The Battle of Coral Sea was either imminent or just over at about the same time. 00:08:00And he stayed there until 1944. Frasier, Colonel Frasier came home and was sent to Europe, voted Brigadier General and went to Europe and he commanded a battalion, then he came home on rotation. Ellis Arnall had called him and he wanted him to come take over the National Gaurd. Because General Howe, I believe it was, was in ill health and he was going to have to retire and wasn't able to proceed. And so he did, he came on. I can remember that was a big day for us. A hot day in the summertime in Bainbridge when the train came in and all of them came off. They were all yellow because they were taking quinine and it had turned them all. We didn't know whether they brought Japs with them or not. But he came on and was back immediately in Camp Stuart -- Fort Stuart. I guess it was Stuart Camp at that time -- with tropical malaria. And so we got 00:09:00him back after a while. And eventually, of course, he transitioned on into adjutant general. And then he was going to run for governor, but Gene Talmadge wanted to run again and he knew that would probably be futile. So he selected lieutenant governor, and of course as you know your chronology on that, he was defeated, didn't make it and M.E. Thompson was. And he was still adjutant general and Gene had asked him to continue on as his adjutant general, which he was flattered. And so he was there to referee for the Three Governor's affair. And then after that he was getting ready to run again in '48, and no need to repeat the history you already know. And then of course he ran in '48 and was 00:10:00elected for an unexpired two year term and ran again in '50 and got a four year term. Then in '54 he ran for governor when Herman's term was over. And those were exciting times. And I went to Georgia Tech in the fall of '54, about the time the election was over. So I was already in Atlanta when he was inaugurated. And I graduated in '58 and went in the Navy. And that's where I was up until 1963. So those were interesting and exciting times. In '62, Mariann, the love of my life, came down while I was at sea, from Norfolk and went to a number of the rallies. And I came down just before the election in '62. The rest of it is pretty much history. So I came home in '63 and had the 00:11:00wonderful, wonderful pleasant experience of working with him.
SHORT: You know, one of my prized possessions is a DVD all of GovernorGriffin's rallies in 1962. And I recall one -- you were present -- one in Marietta, and you were introduced by the governor. And you looked mighty young then.
GRIFFIN: I'm glad you can remember that. You don't look so bad right now, sothat does --
SHORT: Ben, let me turn to you now. You were Governor Griffin's executivesecretary, and for our students and watchers, I would like for you just to tell us about the job -- what it is, what you do, so as we get along they'll understand what a powerful position that can be.
WIGGINS: Well, it's one of the greatest honors that was ever bestowed on me,00:12:00Governor Griffin asking me to become his executive secretary. I was a country lawyer practicing law in Toccoa. I was in the legislature and I admired Governor Griffin so much -- his sense of humor. If you didn't want to like him, you better not be around him. He meant so much to me and my family that words are inaccurate to truly express myself. Excuse me, my -- I don't know what's happened to my throat today. Anyway, he's one of the greatest men I ever knew. He was a caring governor. And we're recording a lot of the good things about him as long as we're around. 00:13:00
SHORT: What I remember most about him -- and I knew him well. I used to fishwith him and hunt with him, and spend a lot of time -- eat pilau with him, which I enjoyed. My wife doesn't like it, but I do. But one thing I admired about Governor Griffin was his great sense of humor. He could be funny when he won, and he could be equally funny when he lost. And I thought that was a great trait, and really was his personality. Let's get in now to his administration. He became governor in 1955. Immediately began working on an administration that was very, very progressive. Rural roads, hospitals, fifty percent increase in the school budget, Stone Mountain, more tourist outdoor facilities, farmers markets. He was genuinely a good governor, I thought. 00:14:00
GRIFFIN: I agree.
SHORT: But along toward the end of his administration he attempted to increaseappropriations to his rural roads program and it didn't work. Do you remember that period?
GRIFFIN: I was there for the speech. I had a class cut -- come over fromTech. And I remember at the time -- and of course, in brief it was simply politics. It was a good program, the first one when he created it. It was a good program for the $50 million second fail that tried. And it was so good that Ernest Vandiver adopted basically the same thing, and succeeding governors various points too. But it was strictly a spite deal. Somebody wanted 00:15:00political advantage and he was convenient.
SHORT: Do you remember the George Bagby story?
GRIFFIN: Oh, yes.
SHORT: Would you tell us that?
GRIFFIN: Well, I'll try to. I'll tell you, there's a postlude on it that'salmost as good. During the rural roads fight, of course, he was lame duck. He had two years to go -- he didn't have anything to promise anybody. My mother's main criticism of him, and I'll interject this to set the stage, was she said -- she called him Pat, just like his father. That was what he was known as in Front Royal. She said, "The only trouble with Pat is you'd have to slap him about three times real hard for him to get the notion that you might not like him." And this is true. He was a believer, he believed in people, he believed in what people told him. And I'm of a more cynical nature myself, but I think 00:16:00he enjoyed life a whole lot more because he didn't dwell on things like that, he went ahead. But the Bagby story was that George was supposed to be in his camp, they'd always been friends and been reliable before. And of course, Marvin didn't have anything to promise him, so he got down on the House floor to make a very passionate speech changing his loyalties in that manner. And he apparently either didn't care or had forgotten that Marvin had a speaker that he could listen to what was going on down there and keep up with things. And somebody came in the office and said, "Turn on your speaker. George is making a speech." He did it, of course he could do it too. George was good. He said, "I know that this might have repercussions, that it might cost me personally. It might 00:17:00even cost my brother John his job." As a license examiner, I think, is where he was. He said, "But I've got to do it, my conscience commands it, I've got to do it." And he went ahead and came out in opposition to him. And my dad picked up the phone, as he tells it, then, and called -- of course he didn't even know George Bagby had a brother. Picked up the phone and he called Pat Donnelly, the head of the state patrol, and he says, "Pat do you have a license examiner named John Bagby?" He said, "yes," he did. He said, "Well, it's 11:00 --" or whatever time it was. And he said, "By 12:00 I want him gone." And then he sat down and he wrote a telegram to George, and he said -- oh, George's impassioned speech included, said, "If he calls Johnny's job, if he gets fired, if he loses 00:18:00his job, I've got meal in the barrel, and I've got ham in the smokehouse --meat in the smokehouse-- and we can split a hoecake, and he can come and I'll look after him." When Marvin wrote him the telegram he said, "Dear George, get the meal out of the barrel, divide up the hoecake, and get the meat out of the smokehouse, John's headed your way." Of course it made George mad. And the problem was every time he showed it to somebody -- what Marvin had done to him -- they started laughing. So he said pretty soon he just quit showing it. And of course we all got to be friends again later on, but that was one of the classics I've got.
SHORT: Ben and I were talking about this earlier. Back in those days you madefriends even though they were your political opponents and they beat you. You don't see that much today in politics. You know, everything is so partisan. 00:19:00
GRIFFIN: They weren't all like that even then. They weren't all that good. Iguess it's a good a time to explain how his greatest political liability was the enemies he chose early on. When he was executive secretary for Ed Rivers, a couple things happened. One of them is that one of the scions of a newspaper family -- now, be a little circumspect -- tried an armed robbery of a drug store and in the process shot and killed the pharmacist named Richard. And the newspaper lobbied to get him pardoned, and Ed Rivers wouldn't pardon him. And 00:20:00he had checked in and out of the thing, and it got very involved. In fact they tried to spring him from jail by bringing him from Reidsville to Atlanta for a medical emergency and then in the process they waylaid him and got him out. Anyhow, so that was one thing. So there was an animosity with the newspaper then. That set the stage. The second thing was when Ed River's highway chairman, Clint Miller -- during the Depression they didn't have enough money to pay the teachers. And Ed Rivers said, "Well it's a question of priorities," as far as he's concerned. He would just put some highway projects on hold and use that money to pay the teachers because that had to -- roads could wait, education couldn't. And Miller said, "Indeed not. We're not going to do that. We're going ahead with the road projects." So the outset of it was, Ed said, 00:21:00"Well, I appointed you, I can unappoint you." And he said, "No you can't." And they wouldn't let him put him out of office and they got an injunction to keep him from putting him out of office. And Governor Rivers sent Marvin and two or three other fellows over there to remove him from office. And they took his chair and unloaded him out in the hall. Well they were arrested and charged with contempt of court for violating the injunction. And of course the papers were against this then. But Marvin had already written several editorials -- I'll send you some -- open editorials and letters to the editor about how unfair it was. And it wasn't anything but a personal vindictiveness on the part of the newspapers. And let's just say that relationship did not improve over the years. They went out after Ed Rivers, and that's when they started the business about scandals for pardons and things, which was a lot of hooey. One of the 00:22:00things they beat Marvin over they head later is that he got a pardon for himself. Well, of course he didn't, but when they were ready to leave office -- it was a $200 fine by the way and that was as big as a house in those days. And Marvin said -- Ed asked him if there was anything he could do for him, and he said, "Yeah, you can pardon me for that citation for contempt of court." So he did. And the newspapers never explained how that came to be. As far as they were concerned, he got himself a pardon. So he picked his enemies early on and they continued on through his political career. Which was fine with him because his political philosophy was very simple. He said, "Never pass up an opportunity to help a friend or to give an enemy hell. " He said, "If you don't 00:23:00discipline your enemies when they deserve it, they won't respect you and your friends won't understand it." And I think this is true. And what he didn't count on was that part of his group that formed the faction against him throughout his career included the Atlanta newspapers, and they were going to write the record. And they did and that's where it is today. And that's why so much of what you see then and now are allegations. And it's kind of like the Georgia search warrant. Troopers used to say that the Georgia search warrant is where two troopers ride up to a house and one runs around the back and the other goes up and knocks on the front door. And the one at the front door says, "Open up, it's the law," and the one at the back yells, "Come in." And said they'd get in that way. Well, documenting your own allegations is what it amounts to and 00:24:00this is what he faced. And I think he would have handled his tactics a little differently had he realized that when it was all said and done and "we used to be friends, now we're enemies, we were allied, we were enemies, " that was fine. But when it was all said and done, they wrote the record and it was written on allegations and for political purposes. Which was fine with him at the time.
SHORT: Well, he went through that grand jury process and no wrong doing. So Iwould think that would vindicate him with the history.
GRIFFIN: Well, you know, that was drummed up pretty much too. His samepolitical opponents who financed the Cadenhead Commission and went on through to that. And he's always been a nicer fellow that I would have ever been. And I 00:25:00think my mother would have been able -- during that time there was a state official who was part and parcel, or at least assistance prosecution -- at the time, if I recall, there was an allegation he had received money on such and such a time and date at his office, or wherever. At the time and date that they alleged, one of the state officials who was in the room with them, had been with Marvin and a number of other people -- Vance Custer, you may have been Ben -- went up to the Black Hills to tour the sculpture up there in the park. They were getting ready to do Stone Mountain. I'm sure Scott County was probably along there with them too. But had gone up there to see how they had done things, and of course Gutzon had done that one up there. And this particular state official was willing, but he was too drunk to remember where he was. And 00:26:00he didn't tell that. My mother would have told it. Now if she was sitting there she would have let all loose. She would have told it. But it was that kind of thing and that's politics. And at the time I don't think he bore any long-lasting ill will about what was happening then because he gave no quarrel and he asked no quarrel. But he didn't realize they were going to have the last word.
SHORT: Well, that's what they say, don't -- let it go. Don't argue with --
GRIFFIN: -- he who buys ink buys by the barrel. But reporters in the capital atthat time were very fond of him. And he leveled with them.
SHORT: Yeah, he did. In fact, he called them, "Jorees." You know what that means?
GRIFFIN: Oh, yeah.
SHORT: What does that mean?
GRIFFIN: Well, the joree is -- I think the correct name is the towhee, but forcrackers its jowree. And he's a little bird who takes two hops forward and two 00:27:00hops back, and two hops forward and two back. Flips up brush and leaves and things looking for stuff all the time. In fact, at the Atlanta press club, they had -- I won't say who it was, but someone shot and had stuffed a joree. On their request, not Marvin's. I don't want to say that. But they had one in there and they had him up to dedicate the joree in his behalf at the bar at the Atlanta Press Club back when it was on Peachtree.
SHORT: You know, they still have a golf tournament.
GRIFFIN: The joree golf tournament?
SHORT: The joree golf tournament.
GRIFFIN: Well, they had some professionals, they had some other folks too --M. L. St. John, Albert Riley. Those were great guys, and they told it like it was. It wasn't always favorable, but it was always honest. Then there were some others.
SHORT: Well, a good successful first administration. As I said, very00:28:00progressive and did a lot of good things for the state. And then he decided to run again four years later. He entered the race against a young state senator who was supported by that group you just described. And do you remember anything about that campaign?
GRIFFIN: I remember some of it. Of course, I was in the Navy at the time. Iwas with a helicopter squadron in test group Alpha most of that time, so we'd spend a couple months at sea, come back in, go back out. I think though it's important to note that a lot of things happened in that campaign. The first one, he didn't enter it against Carl Sanders. Carl Sanders came into the race after he'd already made his intentions known. But when they went into the race there was the county-unit system and television had not come into it's own in 00:29:00political campaigns. Those two particular things I think worked against him because he had all the baggage that he had accumulated. You know, every time you go to the well, you may get a bucket of water as far as running for office and getting elected, and you make a lot of friends. But you make just as many enemies. He used to say about the roads business, he said, "People who thought they would make a political hay day on paving roads, they were sadly mistaken. If you paved a road that went by ten houses, you made nine ingrates and one outright enemy. So that wasn't the way to do it. And I guess the rural roads program showed that in the final analysis. But when he entered the race it was under the county-unit system. He wasn't sure who his opponent was going to be. Thought it was going to be Garland Byrd. That was before his famous heat attack. 00:30:00
GRIFFIN: So it changed a lot. And that was the last campaign, I guess, inGeorgia where people tried for motorcades and rallies and things of that nature. And a good-looking young fellow, very articulate young fellow -- and a fine man -- was running against him. And he had a clean slate, had no record of anything he had to run on. The second thing was he was facing that same crowd, the Atlanta newspapers, the bank, and a coalition of the Atlanta and Fulton county politicians, who he did not endear himself to them. Ben you were probably there at the time when Cracker Baron wanted to get a liquor license.
WIGGINS: I think Tom Gregory was --
GRIFFIN: Was Tom there?
WIGGINS: He succeeded me when I was appointed to the commission.00:31:00
GRIFFIN: And he came over there to get a liquor license, and of course you hadto get a local license before you could get a state license issued. He came in and he needed help. He couldn't get a liquor license in the city of Atlanta unless he was willing to pay some money under the table. And he said, "You ought not to have to do that." And Marvin agreed with him. And he picked up the form and he said, "Tell that crowd over there at Fulton county and the city of Atlanta, there won't be another liquor license issued until Cracker Baron gets his, and he better not have to pay for it. And he did it. But that kind of business didn't endear him to them. So he had a good strong group to run against, and a lot of money.
SHORT: He was one of the -- I guess the last great stump speakers. And I wasalways impressed with his ability to relate to his people. And in those rallies 00:32:00you talked about, it was very obvious. There was thousands of people out there, barbecue. And when he lost he said...
GRIFFIN: "There've been a lot more people eating my barbecue than voting for me."
SHORT: That's right. A example of his great humor. So, he lost that race, buthe didn't get out of politics. He came back home. And as I recall, he was very active on behalf of other candidates for several years.
GRIFFIN: Yeah, not so much in the state at that time until just one occasion,but he was interested in some of his contemporary governors. George Wallace and he remained friends for years. He worked with Gerald Ford, and of course you know he stood in so that they could have a name on the ballot for George Wallace 00:33:00until they could get a --
SHORT : For president.
GRIFFIN: But he remained interested in and kept up with politics. He wrote acolumn twice a week. By that time twice a week in the Post-Searchlight up until the week he died.
SHORT: There was a little box on the front of the Atlanta Journal with aneditorial. Hollywood's Pete. And I think that gave birth to -- incidentally, what did he call it? Punywood's Pike? That gave rise to Willie Highgrass.
GRIFFIN: Well, actually, Willie Highgrass was actually before Hollywood's Pete.But Willie Highgrass was a composite, he was all the things. He was the Georgia cracker, ordinary, everyday thinking man that didn't have a lot of assets 00:34:00perhaps, but had an awful lot of gall. And that was who he identified with. I still use Willie Highgrass. Willie Highgrass speaks to me from my columns frequently. You've got to have somebody to pen these things. But he was the epitome of a Georgian, a rural Georgian at that time. When he referred to Willie Highgrass, it meant everybody.
SHORT: So now you have the paper that was run by your grandfather, then yourfather and served the community well. Do you take political positions, do you endorse candidates?
GRIFFIN: We don't normally endorse local candidates. I think it would offendmy readers. They want to know what's going on, but I think they figure they're able to make up their own minds. But so far as regional and state candidates, 00:35:00we often do and we do frequently because our readers will call us and say, "Tell us, we don't know any of these people. Tell us what you know about them. Who are you going to vote for? And why?" And I try to be as square with them as I can. Sometimes we pick right, sometimes we don't. But we don't get involved in local politics, in little things. Because we're in the advertising business, and we figure we've got to be able to serve any candidate that comes, and then work with the winners.
SHORT: What was the best thing you remember about your father?
GRIFFIN: Just him, basically. He was my friend. He was bigger than life. Henever worried about anything. Now he could get mad and he could get upset and 00:36:00so forth like that, and then it was gone. But he had the ability to analyze anything that happened to him and very quickly switch over to a scholarly style. He was an old school teacher. And analyze it, and if there was something he could do about it, and he could think of something to do, he did it. And he stopped worrying about it. I didn't get those genes somehow or another. I worry about everything. If I'm not worried, I wonder why I'm not. What am I missing? But he took life, he loved people. And as I said before, he got bitten and burned a number of times. But he enjoyed the people that he met and he didn't hold many grudges. There were a few. He did not suffer fools gladly, but at the same time, he was just a tremendous man of wonderful intellect and 00:37:00understanding. And I can remember a thousand times when I popped in after we working together and would say, "I think so-and-so, and so-and-so, and so-and-so." And he would say, "Well--" and he would explain it to me. By the time he finished -- it wouldn't be an argument, he would just tell me what he thought, and I would figure he was right. He didn't express a lot of regrets.
SHORT: You lost a sister in the Winecoff fire. That affected him very deeply.
GRIFFIN: Never got over it. He was here at the time. He was adjutant generaland he had taken out for dinner at a supply conference. He had taken out for dinner. He was staying down at the old hotel, and he was standing close to the Winecoff. He heard he sirens and the commotion. Went out and he spent the day -- in fact, he wound up at Grady Hospital. .............. And he never got over 00:38:00it. My mother was able to eventually come to terms with it, take it in stride. And she would talk about my sister and we'd remember good times, but he very, very seldom could bring himself to talk about it.
SHORT: How should he be remembered?
GRIFFIN: What you see is what you got. A lot of people thought he was puttingon things, but he wasn't. But he had a tremendous mind. When he found out he had cancer -- well he did this with the aneurysm. The first thing he did, he went to the library and get a book and read all about it. He'd come lecture me and anybody else who would listen, exactly what it was. And the same way with 00:39:00his cancer. But he was a man of great integrity, despite the allegations against him. He was a very forgiving fellow, a very loyal individual, which was probably a fault. He did a tremendous job, I think, for the state of Georgia and education, particularly in higher education. Tech, the science center, and teacher's salaries, and retirement -- all of those things. I think one of the DVDs you so kindly given him over the years landed nearly landed an new industry.
SHORT: He did?
GRIFFIN: Yes, and his industrial development and salesmanship was justwonderful. He had a way of talking with anybody without talking down to them or being cowed. And most people who met him -- some people couldn't believe that 00:40:00he was sincere. But I think he did a wonderful job with that -- and education, industrialization, of course, roads. His epitaph, so to speak, was publisher, statesman, soldier, and that was what he did. All of his men in the 101st outlined it. I don't think ever in the two and a half or three years he was in charge of them -- and they took a pounding from the Japs -- I don't think he ever had any court-martials. He didn't have to. They knew that they were going to get it if they misbehaved, but they knew he wouldn't embarrass them, that he 00:41:00would look after them, and when it was done, it was done. There are not many of them left. I still go to all their reunions, and I think this coming year will be the 101st's --
SHORT: You resemble your father.
GRIFFIN: Well, thank you.
SHORT: You have the same hair, you do really look like him.
GRIFFIN: That's quite a compliment.
WIGGINS: The Governor would be very proud of Sam, I'll tell you that.
SHORT: Yes he would, yes. He has reason to be. Well, gentlemen, I would liketo talk on past bull bat time, but time is short and we're going to have to thank you for coming. We appreciate it, it's been very enjoyable. I've learned a lot and I know those people who see this presentation will learn a lot. So thank you very much.
GRIFFIN: Thank you for the opportunity, Bob. And thank you Ben.
WIGGINS: Well, I just listened to you.
GRIFFIN: No, you -- Ben's been family with us for years and years.00:42:00
SHORT: Good. Thank you.