Partial Transcript: Senator, before we get on that long road down your career as a public servant, let’s talk about the Gillises and the impact you and your family have had on the State of Georgia, beginning with your grandfather, who I understand helped create Treutlen County.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis talks about his family legacy in Georgia. His father and grandfather had served in the Georgia General Assembly. Gillis also talks about the creation of Treutlen County.
Keywords: General Assembly; Joe Underwood; Montgomery County; State House of Representatives; State Senate; Treutlen County
Partial Transcript: You were elected to the House of Representatives in 1940.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis talks about his election to the State House. He was encouraged by his family to run for the seat.
Keywords: Democratic Party; Ed Rivers; Gene Talmadge; Henry Grady Hotel; Herman Talmadge; House of Representatives; Jim Fowler; Roy Harris; election; opponent
Partial Transcript: Then came 1946.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis and Short discuss the Three Governors Controversy between Governor Arnall, Melvin Thompson, and Herman Talmadge. Gillis was in the legislature at the time.
Keywords: Ellis Arnall; Eugene Talmadge; Gene Talmadge; Herman Talmadge; Melvin Thompson; Supreme Court; capitol; decision; legislation
Partial Transcript: Then Vandiver runs for Governor and succeeds Griffin.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis reflects on Earnest Vandiver and his days as Governor. He also talks about the end of the county unit system in Georgia.
Keywords: Bill Bodenheimer; Supreme Court; Ty Ty, Georgia; county unit system; integration; populationl
Partial Transcript: The Senate of ’63.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis speaks about the State Senate of 1963 when Carl Sanders was the Governor. Gillis and Short discuss the 14 Governors Gillis served under.
Keywords: Carl Sanders; Ellis Arnall; Eugene Talmadge; Jekyll Island; Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; Melvin Thompson; Peter Zach Geer; Zell Miller; governors
Partial Transcript: Now, you served on a number of committees in the Senate: Natural Resources, Appropriations, and all of the key big committees, which one was your favorite?
Segment Synopsis: Gillis talks about the different committees he was a part of when he served in the legislature. Gillis also reflects on his career as a legislator.
Keywords: appropriations; committees; environment; environmental quality; forestry; natural resources
Partial Transcript: Well we talked about the Governors you've served with.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis talks about the different Lieutenant Governors he served under during his years of service. Short and Gillis talk at length about Zell Miller and his career leading up to Lieutenant Governor.
Keywords: Garland Byrd; Joe Frank Harris; Mark Taylor; Peter Zach; Zell Miller
Partial Transcript: So you went over to the University of Georgia.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis talks about his education at Georgia Military College and the University of Georgia. He then talks about the evolution and history of his family business, Gillis Ag and Timber.
Keywords: GMC; Gillis Ag and Timber; John Deere; Pontiac; Treutlen High School; Treutlen county; University of Georgia; agriculture; family business; pulpwood
Partial Transcript: So you have a son, Hugh, Jr.
Segment Synopsis: Gillis talks about his children and their careers. Gillis goes into reflections and talks about what he would do differently, his greatest accomplishments, his disappointments, and how he would like to be remembered. Gillis offers advice to aspiring politicians.
Keywords: Atlanta; Gillis Girl; accomplishments; advice; campaigning; children; family; marriage; regrets; state office; success; vol tech
Partial Transcript: Would you talk a little bit about political parties?
Segment Synopsis: Gillis talks about political parties and the shift in Georgia towards the Republican party. Gillis also talks about if there is a need for voters to register for a certain political party.
Keywords: Democratic party; Georgia; Republican party; candidates; independents; national election; party registration; registration
BOB SHORT: Im Bob Short and this is another chapter in the series,Reflections on Georgia Politics, sponsored by the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia. Hugh Gillis, of Soperton, Georgia, served 55 years and 7 months as a State Representative and as a Senator. That, Im sure, is a record that will never broken, and were delighted today to have Senator Gillis as our guest on Reflections on Georgia Politics. Senator, before we get on that long road down your career as a public servant, lets talk about the Gillises and the impact you and your family have had on the State of Georgia, beginning with your grandfather, who I understand helped create Treutlen County. 00:01:00
HUGH GILLIS: Right.
SHORT: And your father, Mr. Jim Gillis, who was in the legislature at the sametime as your grandfather.
GILLIS: Yes. Well, my grandfather was in the Senate representing EmanuelCounty, and an area over that in that territory, and my father had moved across Felden[ph] Creek over into Montgomery County and was farming over there and he campaigned all over this Montgomery County in a horse and buggy, and visited one home right after another, and I think he spent a good bit of time, uh, politicking and and defeated, you probably remember Joe Underwood served--he defeated his father--
GILLIS:--for the House of Representatives, and then in 1917, that was probably00:02:001916. In 1917, my grandfather introduced a bill in the Senate to create Treutlen County, and it was part of Emanuel, part of Montgomery, and, it passed the House and then came over to the Senate and it passed the Senate. So, that after the county was created, then, we had to build a courthouse and all of the necessary buildings and so forth for the county to operate. And there was already a little village here that built by the railroad came through and, uh, and a lot of the employees and different ones built homes and created 00:03:00the town of Soperton prior to that. So Soperton became the head--in fact the only town in the--in the county. There were some country stores scattered around in the county, but, no nothing other than one or two little filling stations or grocery stores.
SHORT: Well, your father, Mr. Jim, as he was known, served 24 years as head ofthe Highway Department. I guess thats how you got interested in politics.
GILLIS: Yeah. My father was always interested, and, of course, he got thefamily, and my grandfather, and every Sunday afternoon, we would meet up over at my grandfathers home and have Sunday lunch and spend the afternoon 00:04:00socializing and talking about business and politics and, among it all, we all stayed really interested in what was going on politically in the State of Georgia.
SHORT: They tell the story around the capital about the time when GovernorErnest Vandiver, sent you and a group of senators over to see your father, Mr. Jim, in the Highway Department to tell him that they were about to cut his budget.
GILLIS: [Laughs] Well, thats true. Uh, Ernest had--Governor Vandiver had tocut a lot of the Departments budgets. Yeah, as you know, you have to live within the budget, and to do so you have to work on the various departments and so they did come over to see him and he had a habit of not of course, there was nothing he could do about it, so he had a habit of just sort of whistling 00:05:00when somebody tells him something like that, and thats about all he had as a reaction he had to it. He of course, he had to cut the budget to agree with the governor.
SHORT: You were elected to the House of Representatives in 1940.
SHORT: Did you have any election that year? Did you have an opponent that year?
GILLIS: No. Luckily, Mr. Jim Fowler was our representative here in the countyand he had decided not to run, and my father and my brother and several members of the family encouraged me to go out around the county and feels some pulses and see what they thought about me running, so I had just gotten out of the university in 1939, and I did I found a lot of support, so I announced and 00:06:00was elected to the House of Representatives and Gene Talmadge, Eugene Talmadge, just was the Governor of Georgia at that time.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Back in those days there was only one party and that was theDemocratic Party.
SHORT: But there were factions within the Democratic Party--
GILLIS: Exactly right.
SHORT:--that opposed each other, and a lot of people, generally referred to themas the Talmadges and the Rivers'.
SHORT: Which one of those factions were you associated with?
GILLIS: Well, really I was, probably, with the Rivers faction because my daddywas a real close friend of Ed Rivers, and he had put my father on the Highway Board.
GILLIS: And, uh, we had created a lot of jobs and built a lot of roads in00:07:00in this area of Georgia. In fact, in the State of Georgia, they did. But I had a little help, but I tell often told people, if you went over to the Capitol during those days, and you were not on the Talmadge side, you might as well stay at the Henry Grady Hotel.
GILLIS: But, Roy Harris was still in the house and luckily, I got a seat on thefront row on the left of the speakers stand. You know where Im talking about.
GILLIS: Front row.
GILLIS: And I was sitting between Roy Harris and Fred Hand, and both of thosewere expert politicians and knew probably government better than anybody else in the at the Capitol. And, uh, I had a lot of good help from them. And I imagine you remember one named you remember [indiscernible] Matthews,
SHORT: Very well.
GILLIS: From Athens.
SHORT: Yes, sir.00:08:00
GILLIS: He was he was in that group.
SHORT: Mr. University.
GILLIS: Yeah. I dont think there was over about 23 or 24 that were closeRivers people, so called, or at we were not anti-Talmadges that much, but we didnt have to vote for everything that he proposed, so occasionally there might be 25 or 30 votes opposing whatever the governor wanted, which didnt amount to much, but.
SHORT: Who was speaker then?
GILLIS: I believe he had Randall Evans.
GILLIS: Over the--
GILLIS: Out near near--
SHORT: Right. But when you came to the--
GILLIS: Randall incidentally, Randall had never been in politics much and,especially never had been in the legislature, and he didnt know a whole lot about being a speaker, so it was right amusing you know, Roy Harris and Fred 00:09:00Hand were experts, and they enjoyed keeping him in trouble.
SHORT: [Laughs] Well, when you got there, Senator, back in those days, thegovernor ran about everything, including the General Assembly. How was it to serve under a powerful governor like that?
GILLIS: Well, there again, you didnt have a whole lot of work to do. Theydidnt they would not put us on as chairman of any committees or, we didnt have to stay over at the Capitol all day afternoon working. We could back and to from the Henry Grady Hotel, and that was the headquarters for almost all the legislators, so it was it was real Id say real 00:10:00interesting and and no problem. I mean, we never got in any trouble.
SHORT: Speaking of the Henry Grady, they say that more laws were passed andmore campaigns settled at the Henry Grady than there was at the Capitol.
GILLIS: Well, I think that might have been true.
GILLIS: Because at night we didnt have any anything in particular to dobut talk politics and visit around from one room to the other. And it was just a real pleasure, and and interesting to see what was going on over there after after dark.
SHORT: Yeah. So, I think it was 1942 that a young Attorney General by the nameof Ellis Arnall was elected Governor and you were there.
SHORT: What do you remember about Governor Arnall?00:11:00
GILLIS: Well, Governor Arnall was going to reform our state government, anddid, change a lot of a lot of government operations and, it was entirely a different group operating than whatthe Talmadge faction was, so, I think another thing, World War II had started and there was hardly no funds extra funds. In fact, all the all the departments were cut real bad and, everything, was, quiet and, we tried to get by the best we could with with what we had, and Ellis Arnall didnt have a lot a lot to do with.
GILLIS: But, uh, I think he made a good governor as far as as far as that goes.
SHORT: Well he certainly had a national reputation.00:12:00
GILLIS: Oh, yeah.
SHORT: And his prison reform and, and also he was a I think the firstgovernor in the country to pass a bill that allowed 18 year olds to vote.
GILLIS: Thats thats exactly right, and he created the office ofLieutenant Governor. Thats another thing he did. And I think he set up the merit system and set up several constitutional boards--
GILLIS:--so he did a good job in kind of reorganizing the state government.
GILLIS: In the past, its been run directly out of the Governors office orfrom the leaders in the House and the Senate that were friends of the Governor.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Then came 1946. That was the year of Georgias threegovernors. Im sure you remember that. You were you were up there,
SHORT: And, you know, we we read a lot about that in the history books, but00:13:00we seldom have an opportunity to talk to somebody who was there.
SHORT: Now you were there. Tell us all about it.
GILLIS: Well, it was a everything had been operating kind of smooth becauseof the shortage of the budget, and it was the budget was still short, but the three governors created a lot of discussion and excitement--
GILLIS:--As far as the legislature was concerned, and, I tell you, I never haveseen anything before or since like that.
SHORT: Uh-huh. Gene Talmadge was elected governor for the fourth time and then died.
SHORT: And then it left you with Governor Arnall, who would not give up theoffice after Talmadge was elected by the Legislature, and Melvin Thompson, who 00:14:00had been elected Lieutenant Governor, but not sworn in, so that was that that that election came to a vote, and you were in the Legislature, and you got to vote on it, didnt you?
GILLIS: Yes, I did.
SHORT: And and how did you vote, if you dont mind telling us?
GILLIS: Well, the three governors were Herman Talmadge--and Herman served 63 days.
GILLIS: And then court ruled that, uh, he was a see, Arnall had created theLieutenant Governors Office, and the court ruled that the Lieutenant Governor was to be Governor.
GILLIS: So, I was like you say, I was in the House, and after the courtruled, I run down to the Governors Office the next morning to see what the Governor was going to do, and every door was wide open and there was no Talmadge 00:15:00employee or appointee down there. It was they just cleaned house and left it up to M. E. Thompson to take over.
GILLIS: But the three governor race was tough and, of course, Herman, theyhe was involved in it because they claimed he got some write-in votes,
GILLIS: And was second, and should should be governor instead of M.E., andthats what the Legislature went on.
GILLIS: And, of course, the Talmadges had more friends in the Legislature thanM.E. had.
GILLIS: And they elected Herman, but, like I said, the courts didnt agree tothat, and it was a sort of a knock down, drag out battle. Ellis Arnall tried to stay on because he said he was going to stay on as governor until it was settled. 00:16:00
GILLIS: And when Herman was elected by the Legislature, they went down and sawto it that Arnall was put out of office, and they moved him out. He set him up an office out in the rotunda of the Capitol and two of the Talmadge close buddies picked him up, I think, and carried him out the front door.
GILLIS: So that left it up to Herman for the 63 days.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Talmadge very gracefully accepted that court decision, and a lotof people think that helped pave the way for him to run two years later--
SHORT:--against Thompson, which he did, and he won.
SHORT: And he was governor for six years. He had some very progressive ideas.He created the sales tax. He did a lot of things.
GILLIS: Well, the state needed money and he had to have some more taxes, so he00:17:00put taxes on cigarettes and tobacco and gasoline and various other items that brought in enough money for him to have a progressive state government by from the funds that the new taxes brought in.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. He was also very much involved in the Southern Manifesto, whichwas signed by all the governors opposing the Federal Court decisions on school integration.
GILLIS: Yeah. All during that time there was a big problem with integrationand--Marvin Griffin and Herman--and Herman Talmadge and Lester Maddox--a lot of our governors were not for integrating our schools. But Ellis Arnall agreed with 00:18:00 he was the former Attorney General, knew a lot about law and he agreed with the courts on it.
GILLIS: So, Ellis Arnold, his group finally won out the decision and thatsthe reason Herman had to vacate.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. It was it was during that period that--that Senator Talmadgewas first elected into that job that they go to Washington, and he defeated for the second time Melvin Thompson, as you recall, to for that Senate seat. Thompson had a very tough time as governor, didnt he?
GILLIS: He sure did, and of course the Legislature was not with him, and whenyou are the governor and the Legislature is not supporting you--House and the Senate-- you got problems, and that was that was the main reason that M.E. 00:19:00could not make a success.
SHORT: Marvin Griffin was Lieutenant Governor during the six years of theTalmadge Administration, and he decided to run for governor against a group of individuals, which also included other friends of of Herman Talmadge.
SHORT: And Griffin won, and served six years. You were there while Griffin wasLieutenant Governor, werent you?
SHORT: And now hes governor. What sort of a governor was he?
GILLIS: Well, Griffin was a a great fellow to be around. He liked to telljokes and have fun and a lot of afternoons hed come over to the hotel and join in with us and we we always enjoyed seeing him regardless of whether you were for him or not. And he he knew how to handle those kind of things. 00:20:00He was he didnt let you not voting for him stand between you and his friendship. In fact, after he left the governorship and his wife died, and he remarried again, he and his wife new wife--stopped by in this office right here to see me.
GILLIS: He had a tough time. We had some people that he appointed to run theHighway Department and the Purchasing Department, and they had friends that wanted to make some money [laughs] and they did. And, for instance, I believe I told you earlier before we had this came in this office--that I was a John Deere Dealer for about 24 or 5 years. Somebody brought me a copy of a purchase order on about 8 or 10 John Deere tractors and the price of them. And I looked 00:21:00at it, and it was 10% above retail, so I had a little committee appointed in the Senate and and I happened to be chairman of it to go down to the Purchasing Department to check on it down there and see just who bid on these tractors. And, I dont know whether you remember a little short senator, George Jackson, from up there in Gray.
GILLIS: He was one of them, and there were two others, I believe. But anyway,we go down there and I handed this purchase order to the secretary, and I said, "We want to see the bids. Im the chairman of this committee from the Senate, and we want to see these bids on these particular items. And she disappeared and never came back. But in about ten minutes, out comes the Purchasing 00:22:00Director, and he proceeded to lay the aw down to us and really used a lot of bad words and he was going to have us all locked up, this, that, and the other. But he was looking at little George Jackson all the time he was doing that, and little George reached into his pocket and pulled out a switchblade, and opened it up and he told him, he said, "You yeah, you better not have but Im going to cut you down to my size."
GILLIS: And he knocked the door down running back into his PurchasingDepartment and slammed the door. Well, there wasnt anything else we could do but leave, so we left. And I went back up to the Senate and in about ten minutes, Governor Griffin called and wanted me to come down to his office. So I went down there. He said, Hugh, what in the world is going on? I said, Nothing Governor, except I took this purchasing order down there with my committee and asked them to let us see the bidders, and they would not show us 00:23:00the bids, and they would not even talk to us. And in fact, they talked the Purchasing Director talked rough to us, so we left. And thats about thats all there was to it. He said, Well, we'll buy some red ones then. And I said, Well thats up to you what color you buy.
SHORT: Yeah. John Deere being green.
GILLIS: Yes. Yeah. But anyway, they they had a bad time with the PurchasingDepartment and the Highway Department. They had a lot of roads left that didnt come up.
SHORT: Well he ran on a platform of paving rural roads.
SHORT: But he did not retain Mr. Jim.
SHORT: He put somebody else in, Roger Lawson.
SHORT: I believe, and I don't know that Mr. Lawson knew a whole lot about00:24:00building highways. But anyway, during that period, Ernest Vandiver was Lieutenant Governor.
SHORT: And Ernest Vandiver and Griffin managed to get into a big fight over therural roads bill.
SHORT: And it sort of split up the Legislature there for a while. You werethere. Do you remember that?
GILLIS: I was there and I remember the fight, but Ernest Vandiver was trying tobuild rural roads in Georgia. Thats what he wanted to do. And, of course, transportation or Highway Highway Department he called it then, they had certain roads they wanted to bid build. And they wanted to let them to contract like they had been doing, and which, according to the courts, were not some of them were not very legal. 00:25:00
GILLIS: So that that brought them a lot of problems.
SHORT: Then Vandiver runs for Governor and succeeds Griffin. And Griffin hadmanaged to find an opponent for Vandiver. A fellow named Bill Bodenheimer. Do you remember him?
GILLIS: Yeah, I remember that.
SHORT: From Ty Ty, Georgia.
GILLIS: Yeah, I remember it.
SHORT: Vandiver won that race, you know, in a landslide, and he got to beGovernor. But he faced, Senator, some of the biggest problems that any Governor has had in Georgia for a long, long time. He had a situation at the University of Georgia.
SHORT: Integrating the University. That was a that was a tough decision forhim and the General Assembly to make. And you were there. Do you remember those days?
GILLIS: Yeah, I do. I think I had stated before, there were three governors,00:26:00there was Vandiver, and there was Maddox, and there was Griffin. There were some of them that really didnt believe in the integrating the schools because they were just reared that way.
GILLIS: And, of course, you cant fight the courts. When the Supreme Courtrules--or the high courts--theres nothing you can do about that. So Vandiver had--I think you remember when he ran for office, he said talking about integration, he said, "No, not one."
GILLIS: That was a famous statement he made. He would--not one would integrate,but he had to apologize for that statement and back off of it, and abide by the law, which--that was all you could do. 00:27:00
GILLIS: And finally there were several entered the University of Georgia, and--
GILLIS:--Have been many, many more since that time.
SHORT: Then the Supreme Court says that our county unit system was unconstitutional.
SHORT: That created some problems.
GILLIS: Right. Well there that was during the Vandiver administration, too.
GILLIS: And, of course, there again, the high court ruled that you had to holdelections by population--
GILLIS:--instead of by county unit systems.
GILLIS: In the past, and Im sure you remember, Fulton--Fulton had a certainamount three year I believe three representatives.
SHORT: Right. Six units.
GILLIS: And a little county like mine had one.
SHORT: And two units.00:28:00
GILLIS: And one like Laurens up here had two, and that they had themrationed out, Ill use that word, according to the population.
GILLIS: The larger counties had more representation but not near what theywould have if it had been on population basis.
GILLIS: So the court ruled that you had to go by population basis. And sincethat time, its been a a different story in electing Governors.
GILLIS: And State officials.
SHORT: Right after that then the court ruled that we had to reapportion ourcongressional and legislative districts in the State.
SHORT: And that was another problem that Governor Vandiver had that he, Ithink, handed off to Carl Sanders, who had already been nominated Governor.
SHORT:--And Governor Sanders took over that reapportion. But thatreapportionment affected you and your district, didnt it?
GILLIS: Yeah, it sure did. I had normally been representing about four00:29:00counties, and when they reapportioned like that, I had six. And at one time later on, they you know, the law says you had to reapportion every ten years.
GILLIS: And later on, when we reapportioned again, of course, the committees ofthe House and the committees of the Senate did it, and here you had to be within one or two percent of the population of the counties. So, in order to do that, you had to split counties. And at one time I think I had maybe seven counties and portions of four. It made a world of difference in how you how you operated.
SHORT: How did you pass local bills back then?
GILLIS: Well, there was no problem in that. If I had a local bill and00:30:00introduced it, or any other senator or representative, I think the majority of the House and Senate would join in with him. In other words, if if I wanted to represent Emanuel County in my district, and I introduced a local bill for Emanuel County, all I had to do was tell the rest of my cohorts that this was one of my district a county in one of my districts, and the majority of the people would support it.
SHORT: Lets talk for a minute about the Senate of 1963.
GILLIS: Let me add one more thing about Ernest Vandiver. I think hes the onethat built the archives building for Georgia. A 17-story building I believe, and we had records state records scattered all over and around the capitol. Some in the capitol and some in various departments and if you wanted to check on a 00:31:00certain item, sometimes you had a problem finding the records on it, but after the archive building was built, then all of them accumulated and assembled in that one building. So you could go back to the archive building and look up any historical item you wanted to check on.
GILLIS: But that was a great thing for Ernest Vandiver to do.
SHORT: The Senate of 63. You were there. A great group of people. You werethere. President Carter was there. J.B. Fuqua was there. Zell Miller was there. Quite a gathering of State senators. Do you remember much about those days?
GILLIS: Is that when Sanders was Governor?
SHORT: Mm-hmm. His first--
GILLIS: Yeah, I sure do. Carl Sanders and Betty, his wife, and my wife and00:32:00family, we were all close friends and we took a lot of trips together, and J.B. Fuqua was real close to Carl Sanders and we were close to them So we had a they used to visit with me. I had a built a home down at Jekyll Island after we bought M.E. Thompson bought Jekyll Island, which everybody said since then was the best buy the State of Georgia ever made.
GILLIS: But anyhow, I built the first house down there. Other than what theYankees already had down there the northern people, and Carl and J.B. and their wives would visit with me a lot down there. And we took several trips around the country together.
GILLIS: Carl did a great job as as Governor.
GILLIS: And, in fact, some people say he was the first Governor of the New South.00:33:00
GILLIS: And I guess he had enough funds in the budget to do a lot of things theother Governors couldnt do.
SHORT: His Lieutenant Governor was, Peter Zack Geer, who history,unfortunately, has sort of passed by. You knew Peter Zack very well. Tell us a little bit about him.
GILLIS: Peter Zack was a great Lieutenant Governor, and one of the bestpresiding officers that I ever served under. In fact, I believe, and Ive heard a lot of other people say he was the best presiding officer to ever hit that capital. He knew the rulebook from top to bottom, and he didnt have to look up a rule. And he presided over several joint sessions of the Legislature, and did an outstanding job. In fact, he was presiding when we had the 00:34:00three-governor row.
GILLIS: And we I had a lot of respect for him, and I was hoping he mightget elected Governor, but for some reason or other, he couldnt get his campaign going right, and was defeated.
GILLIS: But he was a good friend of mine.
SHORT: You have served under thirteen Governors.
GILLIS: Fourteen now.
GILLIS: I told you the other day thirteen, but I wasnt thinking aboutit--our present Governor.
GILLIS: I hadnt counted. I counted the ones on the book. Yeah. But itdidnt list the present Governor.
SHORT: Yeah. Yeah. Lets talk for a minute about some of them.
GILLIS: All right, sir.
SHORT: Of course, Gene Talmadge was Governor when you went--
SHORT: --To the Legislature in 1941. He was succeeded by Ellis Arnall. Wevetalked a little bit about him.
SHORT: Arnall was actually succeeded by Melvin Thompson.00:35:00
SHORT: We talked about that.
SHORT: Then after Thompson, there was Talmadge.
GILLIS: Was who?
SHORT: Talmadge. In 1948 Talmadge defeated Melvin Thompson for Governor.
SHORT: And then was elected to a full four year term, so he was there six years.
SHORT: And weve talked about Talmadge. Then there was Griffin, we mentionedhim. Then there was Vandiver, we mentioned him. Then Sanders. And then it comes up to 1946, when we had another Governor misunderstanding when Lester Maddox got the Democratic nomination. Bo Calloway was the Republican candidate. We had an election. Nobody won. It went to court. It came back to the Legislature, and the Legislature elected the Governor--Lester Maddox. Do you remember that debate?
GILLIS: I sure do. Lester Maddox is the only Governor weve had that never00:36:00had much education. I dont think he ever went past 8th or 10th grade, or somewhere along that, but he worked all his life. In fact, he had to, I think, to help support his family, and as far as I know, Lester Maddox was honest and if he ever mistreated--I don't want to say mistreated--if he ever tried to take something that wasnt his-- after he got in the State government, he never tried to move anything that would benefit himself. He ran the State of Georgia for the people of the State of Georgia. In fact, he created Peoples Day in the Capitol, and every Friday afternoon, and--they would when the 00:37:00legislature wasnt in session probably all day Friday. But anyway, he would listen to the public. Anybody could come and talk to him, and he had his department handy where they could hed turn them over to them if they had a problem that the department head could solve, and he did everything he could to try to represent the people of Georgia. And another thing he did was appoint people to office that he thought would do the best job regardless of whether they supported him or not. He was one of the few Governors that did that, so I enjoyed serving with Lester. I was president pro-tem while he was Governor. And Ill tell you something else, he was always on time. And when the time came for the gavel to fall, he was there, except one morning, and we kept waiting 00:38:00around then and waiting and finally he never did come, and I said, Well, I being pro-tem, Ill go up there and get the preliminaries over with. Roll call, committee reports and various things you have to do before you go into passing legislation, and I did. And finally he came in and he eased in back of me and sat down, and I thought hed been sick. And finally I got a chance to turn around from the podium and talk to him. I said, Governor, you been sick? He said, No. The house passed a bill for a two cent sales tax in Atlanta, and I stayed up all night, nearly, figuring on that, and thats that was twice more than they need, and I went by the Mayors office and talked to him about 00:39:00it, and he agreed with me, that it was twice more than they needed. So, when the bill comes over here at the House, I mean Senate, were going to amend it to 1%. So we did, and sent it back to the House, and they agreed with us. But he saved, right then, the people of Georgia in Atlanta--well a lot of people in Georgia shop there--millions of dollars, and not one word Ive ever seen in the newspaper about it to give him credit for it. But I know personally hes the one that did it.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. A lot of people were apprehensive about Maddox when he waselected, but he turned out he fooled them.
GILLIS: He sure did.
SHORT: He fooled them. He made a good Governor.
GILLIS: I never saw a man in my life love his wife any more than he did. Hewould write me a letter and the first or second paragraph hed say something about his dear wife, Virginia, and how much he loved her. And hes one of the 00:40:00few that left office, as far as I know, broke.
GILLIS: He had a lot of family trouble with his children and one thing andanother, and he had some health problems. And I also dont believe he ever took in any extra money that people offered him much. So when he left office, I think he was broke. In fact, the other Governors, Carl Sanders and different Governors got together and George Busbee and Barnes and they all raised a bunch of money to give to him to help pay him out of debt.
SHORT: 1966, during that period when we had no Governor-elect, the statelegislature decided it was going to become independent. And, led by speaker George L. Smith, they they did that. But as I have observed the General 00:41:00Assembly over the years, I found I found the Senate to always be independent.
GILLIS: [Laughs]. Well, most of the time they were, Id have to admit.
SHORT: Yeah. Now, you served on a number of committees in the Senate: NaturalResources, Appropriations, and all of the key big committees, which one was your favorite?
GILLIS: Well, I was chairman of the Natural Resources and Environmental Qualityfor 24 years. And, of course, that included Forestry, which we are really interested in personally in our area, and as far as that goes statewide, its one of the biggest industries we have in the State of Georgia. And the environment, and you see something in the paper everyday about the environment nearly, and something you have to have rules and regulations to control. And 00:42:00a lot of those things came up before my committee and we had study committees to look into it and people would recommend what we ought to do and we came up with legislation that tried to solve a lot of those problems. And I enjoyed that. If you asked me which committee I enjoyed the most, that was it. Now, as far as getting something done is concerned, I was chairman of the Appropriations Committee for man years, and we--we did a lot of work in that. Appropriating funds for--as far as that goes, for education, and our colleges and all of our all of our institutions, and departments. It was a job; Ill tell you that now. The chairman of Appropriations Committee is no easy job. 00:43:00
SHORT: Well, being a legislator is almost a full time position, isnt it?
GILLIS: Well it is, especially when you represent an area like I have. I wasrather amused, theres one Senator up there never had a town in his district. Hes out there in the urban area of Atlanta and nothing but residences, and I couldnt hardly believe that, because down here you've got to go to Dublin, you've got to go to the Chamber of Commerce, you've got to go to all these various clubs and this, that, and the other. Same thing over there in Emanuel. Same thing in Toombs. They keep you busy all the time.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Full time.
GILLIS: Yes, sir. And if you dont go, then theyll say, "Well, he dontthink much about us. Thats a good way to lose elections.
SHORT: Well, you never had much serious opposition. The only time I can recallis in 1972, I believe it was, when you had an opponent. 00:44:00
SHORT: A strong opponent that was that you defeated, but it was, you know,a fairly close election, wasnt it?
GILLIS: That was when Carter had him Cecil Passmore running.
SHORT: Cecil Passmore.
GILLIS: And there was a black fellow in that race too, from from Dublin.See, there were two from Lawrence County running, and myself.
GILLIS: And I had the most votes.
GILLIS: Of the three, but I didnt majority, so we had a run off, and theblack candidate went with me, and we defeated Mr. Carters candidate.
SHORT: Why was Mr. Carter interested in having an opponent for you?
GILLIS: Well, I don't know. I told you earlier a story, which I wont quote00:45:00any more about it, but that was one of the reasons, I guess-- because we didnt support him. My father didnt support him, and, of course, I never went against my father in politics. So Carter knew I didnt vote for him and he didnt he didnt have to do me a lot of favors, but I was not going to sit up there and see him abolish the Forestry Department, one of the best departments we had in Georgia and and harm our Natural Resources Department. I didnt want to do that. So, that was the main disagreement we had.
SHORT: Otherwise you got along fine?
GILLIS: Oh yeah. Yeah, if I were to see him right now, hed come up and hugme. Glad to see me and so forth, you know. I got nothing against him personally. His wife is a good lady.
SHORT: Lets talk for a minute about reorganization under Governor Carter.00:46:00His reorganization plan met with some pretty strong opposition in the Senate headed by the Lieutenant Governor, Lester Maddox, and they had quite a battle back and forth over that over the reorganization plan. What really were they fighting about?
GILLIS: Well, Bob, you asked me something now, and I cant give you an exactanswer on it. But the main thing in my opinion was that it was cutting out a lot of the Senators districts, taking away a lot of their leading candidates and given them to somebody else. It was not a map that we agreed with at all.
GILLIS: So that and, of course, Lester Governor Maddox, went along with00:47:00the leadership in the Senate on it.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Well we talked about the Governors you've served with. Letstalk for a minute about some of the Lieutenant Governors. We mentioned Peter Zack, Garland Byrd was one.
GILLIS: Garland did a good job. He was a good presiding officer and as far as Iknow, we had no problems in the Senate as long as Garland was our presiding officer. I enjoyed working with him.
SHORT: And he once decided to run for Governor, but withdrew--
SHORT: --The year that Carl Sanders was elected.
SHORT: Now lets talk about a fellow who was Lieutenant Governor of Georgiafor sixteen years. That's a long time.
SHORT: Of course, thats Zell Miller.
GILLIS: Ol' Zell Miller.
SHORT: Zell Miller
GILLIS: Yes, sir.
SHORT: You and Zell were friends.
GILLIS: Yes, sir.
SHORT: Tell me about him.
GILLIS: Well, Zell was--as you know, was an educator. He was born and reared at00:48:00Young Harris and his father taught school at Young Harris College. And after Zell got out of college, he went into the Marines, and he came back out of the Marines and I never will forget him. He ran for the Senate and got elected and when he came over to the Senate, he had a little he still had a little Marine crew cut, just like he had in the Marines. And he retired out of the Marines as a sergeant, and you know he had to be tough--
GILLIS:--Back then to be a sergeant, especially in the Marines, because theywere they were some kind of organization. And Zell really, I thought, after he served in the Senate, he learned all about State Government and so forth and 00:49:00he knew what he wanted to do, and he was a strong promoter of education and--
GILLIS: He, every move he made, it was, in my opinion, for the betterment ofthe state government of Georgia. He made an outstanding Lieutenant Governor and Governor.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. That was a period of time when there was a lot of battle betweenSpeaker Murphy and Miller over issues. Do you remember any of those?
GILLIS: Well, to begin with, they cooperated and worked together. But for somereason or other, later on during the years they got had problems with one some legislation, and, of course, Murphy didnt take no for an maybe for an answer. He had a yes or a no, and hed tell you right quick what he 00:50:00thought about you. So I imagine he told Zell what he thought about him and then wound up their friendship. But, Zell didnt back up. He held his ground, too.
GILLIS: And after awhile there they would compromise and come together andsolve the problem.
SHORT: Well, tell me if this is not true. Legislative politics is differentfrom other politics in that your success in legislating law is coalition building putting people together. One day your your opponent on a piece of legislation might be your biggest ally the next day. Isnt that true? Dont you find that true?
GILLIS: Thats true. And that was that was if you want to know mymy main asset in the Senate was getting a coalition of friends. And most of the 00:51:00time I could go around on one side and see two or three at once my close friends, and they would spread the word and go on the other side, the same way, and they would spread the word, and we had a we stayed together. And for instance, I never will forget you remember Hodge Timmons?
SHORT: Hodge Timmons, oh yes.
GILLIS: Was in the Senate and our formal Lieutenant Governor from Albany--
SHORT: Mark Taylor
GILLIS:--Mark Taylor came up there into the Senate and he was sitting by Hodgeon the opposite side of the Senate from me, and he turned to Hodge and he said, Hodge, how do you know how to vote on all these bills? They all of them different, or something, different things, different times, different this. 00:52:00He said, Senator, aint no problem at all. He said, You see that bald headed man sitting right over there on the other side?"
GILLIS: He said, Yeah, he said, when he holds up his hand, you hold up yourhand. [Laughs]
SHORT: [Laughs]. Well, thats good advice. Now, lets talk for a minuteabout some more Governors. Joe Frank Harris was in the Legislature for many years as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Were you were you chairman of the Senate Committee at the same time?
GILLIS: Thats right.
SHORT: You all got along pretty well together?
GILLIS: Real good.
SHORT: What do you think of Joe Frank as a Governor?
GILLIS: Joe Frank was and his wife were the most religious people thatever came to the Legislature, in my opinion. For instance, before he was sworn in as Governor, he had a service over at the Methodist Church an hour prior to his being sworn in. 00:53:00
GILLIS: And he never, in my opinion--I never heard him use a bad word in mylife, and he always considered doing the right thing. He was a topnotch governor.
GILLIS: And as far as I know, he hadnt had a problem, but he was he andhis wife were good people.
SHORT: His opponent in the Democratic primary was a gentleman from near here,Bo Ginn, who is a former congressman.
SHORT: And he was a very strong opponent. And Joe Frank managed to win that andmost people think it was because he went on the air in a statewide radio broadcast promising no new taxes. Now that was years ago, but I think thats a pretty good campaign slogan, dont you? 00:54:00
GILLIS: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. In fact thats about the bestway I know of to get beat is to campaign around and tell them you are going to raise the taxes.
SHORT: Yeah. And then there was Roy Barnes, who I guess served with you in the Senate.
GILLIS: Oh, yeah.
SHORT: And he was elected Governor. How was he?
GILLIS: Roy was a good Senator, and did a good job representing his districtand I thought did a good job as Governor, but he didnt serve but one term, and that was it. He was a friend of mine and I got along with him real good.
SHORT: Also, another one of your fellow Senators is Sonny Purdue, who waselected Governor--who defeated Barnes.
SHORT: Purdue was President Pro-Tem of the Senate.
SHORT: As a Democrat.
SHORT: And then he switched parties.
SHORT: What did you think of that?
GILLIS: I didnt criticize him any, because at that particular time I wasI would vote with the Republicans occasionally. Their floor leader would come around and ask me to vote with them. If it was a good bill, Id vote with them, I mean, but we had a lot of Democrats that just voted right down the line against everything that Republicans proposed. Well, sometimes they had good bills.
GILLIS: And for instance, one time Sonny had a bill that was a good bill andthe Democrats wanted me to propose the bill because it was a good bill, and it was Sonnys bill.
GILLIS: So, I couldnt turn them down, but what I did, I went around and told00:56:00Sonny. I said, Sonny, Im going to have to present your bill, but you can follow me and you come up there and give me hell and you can give the ones that set up the agenda for the day all the trouble you want to. But I said, "It wasnt any of my business. Im going to present the bill and its going to pass."
GILLIS: Because its a good bill. And you can follow me and what I donttalk about the bill, you can finish telling and then, like I say, you can give us trouble about it if you want to.
GILLIS: But so Sonny did. He followed me and he told them what all was in thebill and then he lit in on the leadership, and when he got through, Mark Taylor said, "Cry me a river.
SHORT: Oh, that famous statement?00:57:00
SHORT: Came back to haunt him.
SHORT: Weve talked about Governors. We talked about Lieutenant Governors,and now with your permission, Id like to talk about some other famous Georgia characters who served in the legislature, like Culver Kidd.
GILLIS: Culver was a character, Im telling you. I enjoyed serving with him,but you never knew what he was going to do. He would might tell you something one time and do the other, but he wasnt he wasnt doing it just for the fun of it. He was doing it for just just didnt, you couldnt place him a lot of times. But he really enjoyed his service in the Legislature. And he did a good job, Ill have to say, for Baldwin County and Milledgeville and the state facilities, and he was always supporting them. 00:58:00
SHORT: Now, Senator, Id like to ask you about Leroy Johnson.
GILLIS: Leroy. Well, he was a good friend of mine. He sure was. And we workedtogether. I might tell you this story. I might not need to repeat it, but anyway, he--the press found out about Leroy and me were good friends, and they wanted a picture of Leroy and me shaking hands. Leroy had some special bill. I don't know what it was, but I told him Id help him with it. So that morning I came in to sit down at my desk and there was this photographer right in front of 00:59:00me on the floor with his camera trained right on me--on my desk. So, Nathan Dean was sitting by me and I said, Nathan, go back there and tell Leroy, if he wants to see me, I'll meet him in the bathroom, so and not come down here. So he sat there the whole session and, of course, Leroy never came. [Laughs]
GILLIS: And after the session, this photographer came over to me. He said,Senator, I want to get a picture of you shaking hands with Senator Johnson. Would you come back in the back and shake hands with him? And I said, No. Is said, You been sitting there all the morning trying to get that picture. You aint going to get it now, either. See, they wanted to put a big story in the paper about that, and I dont know what they were going to say about it. You never know and all. 01:00:00
GILLIS: I just told Leroy Id help him with his bill, whatever it was. I wentover to the to the baseball game what afternoon, and had a ticket on this back of the third base line, and I was going down the hole on the second floor of the wherever its booths are--going to my seat, and ran into Leroy. That was after he got out of the Senate. You know, he was manager of that stadium and, "Hey, Senator, where you going? I said, "Im going to my seat down here back of the third base. He said, No youre not. You're going to sit in my box right down here in the third door on the left. And any time you come over here in a ball game, dont you get a seat, you come to my box. You can sit there anytime you want to. Of course, I didnt go back to any ball games much, I dont think. But anyway, I sat there and enjoyed the ball game, 01:01:00but he was a fellow, if you did him a favor, hed do you a favor. I mean, hes just that kind of fellow.
GILLIS: And I think the people in his district liked him, as far as I know.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Yeah, he was reelected. He ran for mayor of Atlanta though andwas defeated.
GILLIS: Well, thats a different deal. The whole city of Atlanta.
SHORT: Thats true. Thats true. Tell me about Bobby Rowan.
GILLIS: Bobby was a good, close friend of mine. We always worked together. Heand Frank Harris and--he was, of course--served in the Senate, you know, several years, and then was a lobbyist, and I guess still is.
GILLIS: As far as I know.
SHORT: Well, he also was elected to the Public Service Commission.
GILLIS: Right. Public Service Commissioner. If I wanted happened to want01:02:00something or I wanted to find out something through that organization, all I had to do was call Bobby.
GILLIS: So, he was like Leroy. Hed return a favor.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Are there any other Senators you served with that you would liketo talk about?
GILLIS: Well, I had a lot of good friends in the in the Senate, and theywere good people. Nathan Dean, for instance, sat right by me and Ronnie Bowen, and they were all good people and did a good job representing their district. Al Holloway was a good we already mentioned him--was a good friend, a good Senator. I could name a lot of them, but I always got along real good in the 01:03:00Senate with had no problems in particular.
GILLIS: I dont think I ever lost a bill. Never lost one.
SHORT: Thats another record that will never be broken. Well, come to thinkof it, we hadnt mentioned that you served 55 years and 7 months. How did it come out for the 7 months there.
GILLIS: Well, thats easy to explain, we talked about reapportionment beforeand the last time we reapportioned was 205 204 and I was in the Senate and Senator Williams down here, a Republican from Lyons, Georgia, was sort of he drew up the map for the Republicans, and there again, he was a good friend of 01:04:00mine. And he came over and aked me how I wanted my district drawn, and I told him, and we made some changes and some some he couldnt make. But anyhow, he drew up a map that was real good as far as I was concerned, and it passed the Senate by a big majority. And we sent it over to the House and they never would even take it up.
GILLIS: Never would, and they never would send us a map to vote on, so therewas nothing could be done except turn it over to the courts.
GILLIS: And they said if we didnt do it by a certain day, then they weregoing to do it. And that day came and they took it over. And taking it over, they did not want any advice from any of us. They were going to do the reapportion. And it wasnt any use for me to go tell them how that I wanted my district or how to do it, so I never got never had any communication with 01:05:00them whatsoever and I don't know if some of them some people might, but I don't know who it was. But they drew completely new districts--district lines. Put me in the district with Senator Hill.
GILLIS: A good friend of mine from down at Reedsville. And he was chairman ofthe Appropriations Committee and always helped me with appropriations and while I was we were in there together. In fact, I served with his daddy. I don't know whether you ever knew him or not.
GILLIS: He later became head of the school drivers association. School BusDrivers. And we were good friends. He sat by me. So I had no intention of running against Jack Hill, and happened to run into the Governor down here in 01:06:00Vidalia at a meeting, and he said, "Hugh, I want to talk to you. And I said, "All right. Come on and ride back. He was going to Dublin to another meeting. "Come on and ride with us in the van and Ill talk to you on the way up there. So, I got on the van with him and Senator Hill and Senator from down there at Lyons, and two or three representatives were already in the van. And he started up the conversation before we got back to Soperton and wanted to know how wed like to serve on the Ports Authority. I said, "Well, Governor. I've got no intention of running for the Senate anymore. I served my time and Im in a new district and I certainly dont want to run against Senator Hill. He said, "Well how about me appointing you on the Ports Authority? I said, "Well, that would be great. I think its a great organization and doing an 01:07:00outstanding job and I think I would enjoy that. He said, "Well this thats how the seven months comes in, see?"
GILLIS: He said, "Well, Ill go back and appoint you now. I said, "No. Iwant to go to the last national convention, which is going to be the last of June, and out in Salt Lake City."
GILLIS: "And soon as I come back from Salt Lake City, Ill come down to youroffice and you can swear me in. And he said, "Well, thatll be fine. So thats the way it came in.
SHORT: Thats the seven months.
GILLIS: See, the legislation was over. Wasnt anything else I could do for myconstituents particularly except make calls, and I still do that.
GILLIS: They call me quite often right now and want me to in fact, I had a01:08:00fellow stop me out at Meiers today.
GILLIS: Wanting me to call the university over at Augusta and one at Mercer totry to get one of his friends in the med school, so you dont ever get over it. You have to theyll call you right on.
SHORT: Well, weve talked about politics for a long time. Now, lets talkabout Hugh Gillis.
SHORT: You were born right here in Soperton.
GILLIS: Thats a bad subject. [Laughs]
SHORT: That's a great subject.
SHORT: You were born right here in Soperton?
GILLIS: Out here in the country, oh, four miles from Soperton.
SHORT: Grew up here. What was it like then?
GILLIS: Well, it was an entirely--like I said, different situation. I told you,we had no paved roads. Id seen cars bogged down in on the street in Soperton. And I came up--we were on the farm and I came up, what you call might call 01:09:00the hard way of farming. I plowed a lot of mules. I used to come to town when I before I could even plow and bring Id pull up peanuts on Friday, pick them all Friday afternoon and have them boiled Saturday morning and bring them to town on a bale of cotton. Ride on top of a bale of cotton on the wagon and come up to town here and sell them on the street, and if I nickel a bag, and if I made me $2.00 or a $1.50, I was rich. And then--was farming right on, and on Saturdays, my uncle, Jim Peterson, owned a grocery store and dry goods store combined. Dry goods on one side and grocery on the other. And I worked in the grocery store on Saturdays and started in the morning, early Saturday morning, 01:10:00and back then, everybody came to town on Saturday. Had nothing else to do. So the streets would be crowded with people walking up and down the streets and theyd come to town on their wagons and shop, and by 10:00 wed close Saturday night. Then we had to sweep the sidewalks, and clean out the store. Id get home about 11:00 on Saturday night. When I went off to college, I had money in the bank that I had made the so-called hard way working on the farm and in the grocery stores and Id also load up my pony and little wagon I had with watermelons or cantaloupes, or whatever we had out there and bring them to town, 01:11:00peddle them out, 15 cents, quarter a piece, whatever. I came up working and trying to make some enough funds to go to college on.
SHORT: So you went over to the University of Georgia.
GILLIS: Well, I went to GMC first.
GILLIS: Yeah. I graduated from Truetlen High School, here. Eleventh grade, andthen I went on to twelfth grade back then. Went on to GMC for one year.
GILLIS: And Georgia three years.
SHORT: And majored in agriculture?
GILLIS: Majored in agriculture and came back home and went to farming. Thenwent to politicking.
SHORT: Politics. Did you join your familys business back then, or do did01:12:00you start on your own?
GILLIS: I joined the family business. I was working for daddy the whole time.
SHORT: Uh-huh. Yeah. Well, tell us a little bit about your your company,Gillis Ag and Timber.
GILLIS: Well, its originally from my business here, I could say when I wasfarming with mules, and then I brought the first tractors into the county to farm with. Some people said you couldnt plow with them, but we did, and we showed people we could. And I set up a John Deere agency here and then I had a Pontiac agency for about ten years, and that was Gillis Brothers. That was my brother and me, but he had nothing to do with it. I ran it all. In fact, he didnt ever come over here hardly. And then that Gillis Brothers, Union Camp 01:13:00started in really in the pulpwood business in Savannah.
GILLIS: And I had a dealer here in Soperton, Jimmy Lawton. And Jimmy passedaway and his wife took it over, and she she did not didnt want didnt operate it and the Union Camp crowd wanted me to take it over, which I did, and thats where Gillis Ag and Timber came in. We had agriculture, with tractors and so forth, and what we did was have pulpwood operators bringing in pulpwood up here into a pulpwood yard on the railroad.
GILLIS: And we would ship it by the car car load--open car, you know.
GILLIS: To Savannah. And that was Gillis Ag and Timber.01:14:00
GILLIS: And that's the way that started.
SHORT: And youve been operating it all these years?
GILLIS: I did until I when I went to the Legislature and my son, Hugh, gotout of university he had always farmed with us and worked with us, and anything I was doing he was doing and so forth. He knew everything that I did so I turned it over to him. And then he has a son named Ben, and Ben is in there now, I think. He and Ben operate Gillis Ag and Timber.
GILLIS: They work with International Paper. You know, I think I told youbefore. Union Camp sold out to International.
GILLIS: And they didnt they didnt want to do all the office work and01:15:00they you have to supervise these loggers, because theres certain rules and regulations and--
GILLIS: --If you dont abide them, theyll take you take your licenseaway from you. So we have to we have to supervise and see that everything is done according to the rules.
SHORT: Do you saw your own timber or do you buy it?
GILLIS: Both. Both. We have about 8 timber cruisers and they go out and cruisetimber and different companies will bid on it and if were the low bidder the high bidder, then we move we move one of our loggers on it.
GILLIS: We have one of our own personal logging operations called Soaps andNaval Store. Thats what the name of our turpentine company was that we had. The Chinese put us out of business as far as making rosin and turpentine. 01:16:00
GILLIS: Theres no more of that going on. Langleys, you know was thelargest in the country. We were probably second, but theres not going on at the present time. So, we still have a logging operation of our own, and we call it Soaps and Naval Stores and some of our farming operation is still operating under that name.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. So you have a son, Hugh, Jr. You have another son and a daughter.
GILLIS: Yes, sir. I have a son that was recently sworn in as a Superior CourtJudge. He was a state court judge this county and Governor Purdue swore him in about, oh, four or five months ago as a Superior Court Judge.
GILLIS: And my daughter married down in Adel, Georgia. Married E. J. Harris.01:17:00E.J. Harris. Hes with the Vo-Tech schools.
GILLIS: In fact, hes a supervisor. Hes been operating one at for awhile now at Valdosta, and not they got him sort of moving from one about three different ones, sort of supervising and operating. And Jean Marie, my daughter, is teaching kindergarten.
GILLIS: And shes been teaching now almost 20 years.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. I want you to think about this, Senator. If you had your careerto do over again, would you do anything differently?
GILLIS: I dont believe so. I dont know what else Id like to do. Like Isay, I was born and reared here and if Id have picked another vocation, Id 01:18:00have probably had to leave this country, go to Atlanta or some other state. Ive always been happy living right here and socializing with people in our territory.
SHORT: So you never thought about running for a State office?
GILLIS: No, sir. Theres a lot of people that asked me about running forCongress and I told them I wouldnt run wouldnt run I wouldnt go to Washington if they gave me the Capitol up there.
GILLIS: I just never had a desire to do that.
SHORT: Well, you are certainly an icon in Georgia politics and--
GILLIS: Well, Ive enjoyed it and I give my family credit for it. Icouldnt have done it, you know, without my daddy. He was always a good advisor, and knew a lot of people in the area, district, and, of course my 01:19:00when we had a campaign, my wife, Jean, she always organized a group of ladies and they they went from town to town giving out cards and my daughter, Jean Marie, belonged to a group called the Gillis Girls and they were about ten or twelve years old and they came theyd go into a town like Mt. Vernon down here.
GILLIS: And had on little Gillis Girl hats and little jackets and a handful ofcards and they go in every store and give out my cards and ask them all everybody they give a card to, ask them to vote for me. So Id have to give me family a lot of credit for my success.
SHORT: What was your proudest moment?
GILLIS: Proudest moment? I guess that the termination of some of these01:20:00elections. I dont know. I wouldnt pick a certain one, but going back that way, lets see the birth of some of my children, would certainly, certainly be among the tops.
GILLIS: And my marriage to I had a great marriage to Jean. We livedtogether about 40 years. Had a lot of good times together and now, I after she passed away I married Montez Champion, and she was working in Atlanta at the Radisson Hotel up there and we met and became friends and we been married 7 years now and we get had a lot of good experiences together. 01:21:00
SHORT: Has anything ever disappointed you?
GILLIS: Well, thats a good question, Bob. I guess I would have to say thatwhen the election we were talking about when Jimmy Carter was Governor and I had a run off, that was it was disappointing to have to have to be involved in a run off.
GILLIS: All the rest of them I won on the first ballot.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. One last question.
HUGH GILLIS: Yes, sir. SHORT: What advice would you give a young politicalhopeful, who wants to become a public official?
GILLIS: Well, and the main thing he has to do is meet the people, and when I01:22:00say meet the people, you cant you cant tell a fellow, no Im not going to do this. Or I guess it cant be done. You always got to tell them youll help them if you can.
GILLIS: And do it if you can. Thats another thing. A lot of times, in fact,I had a fellow out at my house yesterday checking on a problem out there and I never I hadnt seen him in 15 or 20 years and he said, "You got me a job one time. I dont remember it, but I guess that I might have, but you cant you cant turn people down, and you got to get out and work at it. You cant just announce for office and stay at stay put. You've got to get involved.
SHORT: Well, I said final question, but I have one more.01:23:00
GILLIS: Yes, sir?
SHORT: How would you like to be remembered?
GILLIS: Hmm. As a good good public servant. Good public servant. And as anhonest public servant. I don't know of any other way to describe it. I certainly wouldnt want to be remembered any other way as a bad as a dishonest or a bad person.
SHORT: Well, youve certainly been a good public servant, and we thank youfor sharing some of your experiences with us here today.
GILLIS: Well, Ive enjoyed it and I appreciate you all coming down and, ifyou need any other information that I can supply or give, Ill be glad to do it. Like I told you told you earlier, though, and I dont mind repeating 01:24:00it, Im 89, be 90 in about September the sixth. Your memory is not as good now as it used to be.
GILLIS: So, Ive tried to answer your questions and some times maybe in around about way, but it was because I couldnt remember something, but--
SHORT: Well, you did great, and we appreciate it.
GILLIS: Well, we try. Lets put it that way. Thats another thing. Youcant cant do, I cant say no. You have to try as hard as you can.
SHORT: Would you talk a little bit about political parties?
GILLIS: Well, I think I stated before that while I was in the Senate, I voted01:25:00with the Republicans occasionally because if they had a good bill, I saw no reason why not to vote for it. No reason to sit there and just vote no, when you know its youre not going to accomplish anything. Its going to pass anyhow, so Im I dont understand enough about this present national election to give you an honest opinion on it. I don't know I never heard of Obama until he announced, you know, a while back.
GILLIS: I dont Im not a born and reared a Democrat, and I guessIll Democrat, but if if I think a Republican is a better candidate, Im going to vote for a Republican.
SHORT: Senator, some disenchanted Democrats in Georgia think the state party iscontrolled too much by minorities and labor unions at the expense of the rural 01:26:00old-line Democrats. Do you think thats true?
GILLIS: Well, they have a lot of influence. Theres no doubt about that. ButI know whether they control it. Theres more people outside of those two groups than there is in it, so they couldnt control it all, but they are involved politically in a lot of races, but Im there again, I dont think they control them.
SHORT: Do you see a bright path for Democrats in the future, or do you thinkourstate still is going to be Republican?
GILLIS: I dont necessarily see it. I think if a good Democrat got out and01:27:00campaigned enough and met enough people, hed get reelected get elected. Same way with a Republican. If he got gets out here and out does the other fellow, hes going to get elected. People are not as much party concerned now as they used to be.
GILLIS: Way back yonder it was and you and me have talked about it earlierit was a flat Democrat deal in Georgia. If you were a Republican, you were on the outside looking in. But its not that way anymore, so--
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Some states require registration by party.
SHORT: Do you do you support that?
GILLIS: No. Not necessarily. And if I did if a Democrat there again Idont think that means you would have to vote flat straight Republican ticket. No I wouldnt support it if I had to just vote a ticket without concern for 01:28:00the other side.
GILLIS: I like to look look at the candidate. There're a lot of candidatesin both organizations that are good people.
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Well it seems the trend is that way. That independents who arenot devoted particularly to either party seem to be the--seem to elect the candidates. They look at they look at the Republican; they look at the Democrat in the general election and they vote independently.
SHORT: But do you think that theres a place for a third party in Georgia?
GILLIS: I dont think so. If they did, theyd have a lot of work to do toever succeed.
GILLIS: I think that the trend in Georgia right now is for people to vote forthe candidate regardless of what he is, even though he might be an independent. 01:29:00
SHORT: Mm-hmm. Okay. Good. Okay, Senator, I thank you very much.
GILLIS: Well, I appreciate you all coming down, and I didnt dont knowwhether I--
SHORT: You did good.
GILLIS:--Gave you the right information or not.
SHORT: You did good.
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