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Interview with Harry Dixon, December 1, 2009

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:48 - Family and early life

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Partial Transcript: So let's get started, if we can, by have you tell us a little bit about your family and your early life.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon tells about his early life working on his family farm in Brantley County, Georgia. He recalls growing up with his parents and ten siblings and how that experience shaped his character.

Keywords: Great Depression; Huey Dixon; Mattie Dixon; Model T; Ware County, Georgia; Waycross, Georgia; railroad

00:08:26 - Merchant Marine service in the Atlantic

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Partial Transcript: Did you go into the service?

Segment Synopsis: Dixon describes his enlistment and training in the Merchant Marine at the start of World War II. He then lists the places he traveled to in the Atlantic theater of the war, also sharing any stories he has about the locations.

Keywords: Alcoa; Algiers, Algeria; Antwerp, Belgium; Cardiff, Wales; England; Ghent, Belgium; Honolulu, Hawaii; Jacksonville, Florida; Liverpool, England; London, England; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York; Newfoundland; Oran, Algeria; St. Petersburg, Florida; Suez Canal; Tampa, Florida; Toulon, France; Waterman Steamship Company; boiler flue

00:17:25 - Stationed in Yokosuka, Japan and Pusan, Korea

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Partial Transcript: At any rate, I went there to do- done every one of the Philippines on carrying back and to here and yonder.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon details his experience while stationed in Yokosuka, Japan immediately after the war's conclusion. He notes some of the interesting facets of Japanese culture that he saw. Dixon then talks about his time in Pusan, Korea.

Keywords: Chicago, Illinois; Hawaii; Hiroshima, Japan; Manila, Philippines,Honolulu; New Orleans, Louisiana; Tokyo, Japan; agriculture; martial law; public transportation; street preachers; trains

00:24:35 - Working for Seaboard Coastline

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Partial Transcript: You came back to Waycross then?

Segment Synopsis: Dixon describes his time after the war working for Seaboard Coastline, a railroad company. He mostly goes into detail about his work as a fireman on the steam-run trains the company ran.

Keywords: Jacksonville, Florida; Thomasville, Georgia; coach shop; diesel train; engineer; sawmill; steam train

00:27:55 - Introduction to politics / Campaigning

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Partial Transcript: Tell us when you first got interested in politics.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon explains that his introduction to politics began when he was convinced to fill a vacant seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. He then recounts some of his memories from campaigning in person.

Keywords: Cap Hicks; Cheney Griffin; Dahlonega, Georgia; Fred Jones; George Bagby; Hoke Wilson; Homerville, Georgia; Nebo, Georgia; Rome, Georgia; Roscoe Pickett; reapportionment

00:39:38 - Friends in the legislature / Roles in committees

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Partial Transcript: Harry, who were your best friends in your first years in the legislature?

Segment Synopsis: Dixon briefly talks about who his friends in the Georgia House were. He then describes his roles on the Regulated Beverages Committee and the Appropriations Committee, focusing on his efforts via the Appropriations Committee to help a blind police officer receive a pension.

Keywords: Arthur Bolton; Carl Sanders; Forestry Commission; Fred Kitchens; Hanson Carter; Henry Neil; Jack Brinkley; Judge Durwood Pye; Mac Pickard; Milton Jones; committee chairman; liquor laws; peace officer; turpentine

00:52:18 - Tom Murphy / Stories about Marvin Griffin and Eugene Talmadge

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Partial Transcript: You knew Speaker Tom Murphy very well.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon discusses his relationship with Speaker Thomas Murphy. Dixon then tells miscellaneous stories about Marvin Griffin and Eugene Talmadge.

Keywords: Cap Hicks; Carl Sanders; Fulton County, Georgia; Georgia House of Representatives; Hosea Williams; J.C. Daugherty; Moultrie, Georgia; Swainsboro, Georgia

01:06:29 - Carl Sanders / Denmark Groover

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Partial Transcript: You served with seven governors, right?

Segment Synopsis: Dixon touches upon his experience with Carl Sanders as governor, considering whether Sanders would have won election without the end of the county unit system. Dixon then talks about Denmark Groover's role as floor leader in the Georgia House.

Keywords: "Grooverize"; Elliott Levitas; Ernest Vandiver

01:14:21 - Lester Maddox and Steve Nimmer

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Partial Transcript: Let's get back to governors for a minute.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon recalls his efforts to mediate a dispute between Steve Miller and then-governor Lester Maddox over the reappointment of Lonnie Sweatt to the State Board of Education. Dixon then gives his and several other congressmen's thoughts on Steve Miller.

Keywords: Ben Jessup; Motor Vehicle Committee; State Board of Education

01:19:56 - Jimmy Carter and the Judiciary Committee

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Partial Transcript: 1970, Jimmy Carter beat Carl Sanders and ran on a platform of reorganizing the state government.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon discusses Jimmy Carter's efforts to reorganize the state government during his tenure as governor. Dixon particularly focuses on one incident in which Dixon, on the House Judiciary Committee, helped Carter nominate Elie Holton to a judgeship.

Keywords: 6th County Judicial Circuit; George Jordan; Joe Hurst; Roscoe Dean; Waycross Judicial Circuit

01:29:11 - Governors from Busbee to Barnes / Life after politics

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Partial Transcript: Well, after Carter, George Busbee beat Lester Maddox.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon summarizes his friendships with each Georgia governor from George Busbee to Roy Barnes, while also mentioning other friends that he met through his time in the Georgia House. He then briefly discusses his involvement since retiring from public service.

Keywords: Cap Hicks; George Bagby; Jake Cullums; Joe Frank Harris; Tom Murphy; Zell Miller; school teachers

01:35:50 - No-fault insurance bill and other legislative accomplishments

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Partial Transcript: You know, we didn't talk about that.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon explains his success in passing a bill that reformed insurance so that insurance cases where no one was at fault did not have to go to court. He also tells about working with Bobby Hill to amend a bill to help an imprisoned county commissioner.

Keywords: Camden County, Georgia; Clinch County, Georgia; Georgia Department of Agriculture; Insurance Committee; Vice-Chairman; beekeeping; inspection; reimbursement

01:46:17 - H.W. Lott and George Jordan

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Partial Transcript: Well, I want you to know that I've done just about half of it.

Segment Synopsis: Dixon shares a story from H.W. Lott's stint as a traveling judge, in which he broke up a fight in court by shouting. He also tells stories of the lawyer George Jordan, including one of Jordan hosting a mock burial for a town's defunct programs.

Keywords: Douglas, Georgia; Georgia Superior Court; Groover Road