Dale Bumpers and David Pryor: Pope County Democratic Party Banquet

Uploaded by UniversityArkansas on 14.06.2011

[Introductory music] [Conversations in audience]
[Applause] >> Jim Kennedy: Now I’ve got a--a special
thing. I’d like a lady to come up here and just tell a quick little story, and we’re
going to get on with our program. This is a historic event, and I’m sure thankful
y’all are here. This is Lynn Wiman. Miss Wiman, I’ll let you have the podium.
>> Lynn Wiman: I’m Lynn Wiman, and I have Vintage Books on Parkway, and I am very much
the most unlikely participant in a political banquet, so excuse me, I’m very nervous.
But I wanted to tell you something about Senator Pryor.
>> David Pryor: Uh-oh. [Laughter] >> Lynn Wiman: Last Monday--and this is Garrett
Oates, and Garrett is a student at Pottsville High School, and last Monday my husband, Steve,
and I were in Little Rock at the River Market Books and Gifts, and we were eating lunch,
and there was no one in there except us and this man and his friends at another table.
And I called my friend Rita over, and I said, “Rita, that man looks like David Pryor.”
[Laughter] And Rita said, “That is David Pryor. You want to meet him?” And I said,
“Yes.” I said, “I was raised in the Delta, and--and he did a lot for farming,
and--and what he did there for farmers there was legendary. So I’d like to meet him,
but more than that--do you think he might sign a book for Garrett?” And she said,
“Oh, I think he would.” So I went and asked him if would sign a book for Garrett,
and I just said, “Garrett--I want to get this book for Garrett because he works at
my bookstore, and he is a young man who’s sixteen years old, and he knows probably more
about you, Senator Pryor, than you know about yourself [laughter] because he loves politics,
and he loves history.” And so I said, “Do you think he would personalize a book for
Garrett?” And he said, “Yes, I’d be glad to.” And as he was signing the book
for Garrett that I was going to give him for Christmas, he said, “Do you think Garrett’s
coming to see me Thursday night?” And I said, “No, no, that’s an exclusive Democratic
Party banquet, and the tickets are expensive and--and, no, I’m sure he’s not.” And
he said, “Well, I tell you what, if Garrett wants to come, I’ll buy his ticket.” [Laughter]
And so we were stunned. [Applause]
>> Lynn Wiman: We could visualize Garrett jumping up and down, and that’s exactly
what he did when I got to his farm Monday night. He was hugging that book and jumping
at the same time and saying, “I’m so honored. I’m so honored.” And he got to school
the next day with his note, and his history teacher wasn’t able to get a ticket to this
banquet tonight. [Laughter] So he was--he was thrilled to show that to his history teacher
and all of his teachers, too. Senator Pryor, I want to thank you for such a generous gesture.
It was so generous of you. You bought this young man a ticket to be a part of the history
that he loves. You made him a part of it all. You did it without knowing anything about
him. You didn’t know or care about his social or economic status. You didn’t know about
his family history or his grade point average. You didn’t even know if he was a Democrat.
[Laughter] You just knew that he was an Arkansas boy who was interested in history and politics
in your state, and you gave him a chance to be a part of the history that he loves this
night. And we thank you. >> David Pryor: Thank you.
[Applause] >> Jim Kennedy: It’s now my opportunity
as--I have the opportunity to introduce Mr. Olin Cook, who’s going to introduce our
guest. Olin, as you know, was the past chairman of the Pope County Democratic Party. He was
a--one of--our representative. Olin, if you’d come up here.
[Applause] >> Olin Cook: We--we’re honored to have
people from the University of Arkansas here tonight from the Pryor Center who helped with
a lot of different things. And they’re getting these two young men in place, and we’ll
get under way. I’ve been wanting this to happen in Pope County for two years. I had
the honor when we lived in North Little Rock of working for--uh-oh--working for both of
these gentlemen when they were governor of our great state. And I don’t know of any
two men that I know of--of any stature that’s more honest, want to do the right thing, and
did so when the governor. We know that Dale Bumpers is a native of Charleston. He came
out of the woodworks to run for governor--only had--his only elected office was as a school
board member. And we know the history--we--of how he became our governor. And during that
time, he did a number of things for--for higher education and state parks--all kinds of things.
And following--after that, he went to Washington to be--become one of our US senators, and
following him as governor was David Pryor, who did some of the very same things. David
was a native of Camden, went to Henderson for a while, graduated at the University of
Arkansas at Fayetteville there at law school. And then he followed Dale to Washington to
be our other senator. Both of these men were highly respected. We were--we were great to
have these two people represent us in Washington as well as our governor. So it’s my pleasure
tonight to welcome them to give us some little entertainment about the past. Take it all.
[Applause] >> David Pryor: Thank you, thank you.
[Applause] >> Dale Bumpers: That’s the first time I
have heard what we were supposed to do tonight. >> David Pryor: [Laughs] Yeah.
>> Dale Bumpers: David, that young man that all those accolades were given about a moment
ago--I was reminded--most of you don’t know it, but I ran for the legislature eight years
before I ran for governor and got soundly trounced. [Laughter] But in that particular
race, we were having a little, oh, to-do north of Ozark. And the--the guy who was in charge
of it called on somebody there, and he--he asked this candidate--he said--no, the candidate--I
take that back--the candidate handed his literature to a man. The man looked at it, and he says,
“Well, what--what’s your religion, son?” He said, “I’m a Methodist.” He said,
“Why are you a Methodist?” Said, “Well, my daddy’s a Methodist. [Laughter] My granddaddy’s
a Methodist. My mother’s a Methodist.” “What’s your political party?” Said,
“I’m a Democrat.” “How come you’re a Democrat?” Said, “Well, my daddy’s
a Democrat, and my [laughter] granddaddy’s a Democrat, and my mother’s a Democrat.”
He said, “What if they’d have been Republicans?” He said, “I guess I’d been a horse thief.”
[Laughter] David, let’s see you top that. [Laughter]
>> David Pryor: Well, I--I am glad that Garrett and other young people are here tonight. And
I--I just want to tell you a little story about what happened in this very room in 1974.
This man was running--as governor. He was running for the United States Senate, and
there was a very formidable opponent by the name of J. W. Fulbright that he was challenging
in the Democratic primary. Senator Robert Byrd, the Democratic majority leader, came
down from Washington to endorse Senator Fulbright, his longtime friend in the Senate. Governor
Bumpers was somewhat unhappy about that during [laughter] this particular evening. I’ll
never forget the consternation on his face as he sat there. I was running for governor--wait
a minute--yeah--against Orval Faubus and Bob Riley and maybe one more. I’m not sure.
And--but we all spoke. And there was a huge crowd. No--no larger than this. I was just
want to compliment you, Olin, and all of you--and Jim--all of you for making this crowd possible
tonight. And--but in this very room--in this dining hall at Arkansas Tech, the--the meeting
was over, and people were getting up and tired. We’d been listening to speeches, and Robert
Byrd played the fiddle and all kinds of stuff. And, finally, somebody said, “Wait a minute.
Let’s stop just a minute. I know everybody’s ready to go, but there’s a young man who
didn’t get called on tonight, and he’s running for Congress. And, young man, what
is your name?” And he says, “My name is Bill Clinton.” [Laughter] And Bill Clinton
got up and spoke for two minutes. Dale, do you remember that?
>> Dale Bumpers: Sure. >> David Pryor: And he lost that race, Garrett.
And he lost it, but in the end he won. So you don’t have to win every race every time,
but just to be around politics and politicians and people who care about their communities
and their political parties--I--I just am so proud that you’re here and so proud all
of you are here. I call this--when Dale and I get together like this, and we just kind
of reminisce. I call this the Arkansas version of “The Antique Roadshow.” [Laughter]
And so here we are again and who knows, this may be the last “Antique Roadshow” we
do. But we have a good time doing these. We’ve done several. And when Olin asked us some
months ago to go to do it, well, we were, of course, very, very honored to not only
be asked but also to oblige. >> David Bumpers: You know, [clears throat]
my father served in the legislature one term, but he wanted his sons to be politicians,
believe it or not. You never hear that nowadays. And he wanted my brother and me both to go
to law school, which we both did. But because he thought we needed to go to law school,
he also thought we needed to learn Latin in order to be a lawyer, in order to be a politician.
>> David Pryor: Yeah. >> Dale Bumpers: And we were taught at the
dinner table we had certain responsibilities and so on. And I can tell you that he was--I
guess, when I ran for governor, I felt that I was--that I was really being true to him,
and I know that I was. When I--I went to Northwestern in Chicago to law school, and one night I
got this phone call to hurry home. My father and mother had been in a wreck and they were
both killed . . . >> Unknown female: Oh.
>> Dale Bumpers: . . . while I was a freshman in law school. I had to drop out of law school
because we were all just devastated. And I think when I decided to run for governor,
I was trying to keep faith with my father and because he was gone. But he convinced
me--and I can tell you, it’s very hard to cling to the principles that he taught me.
It’s very hard to cling to those now because politics is so different. But, anyway, I wanted
to say that I came here forty years ago the first time. I wasn’t running for anything.
And the women were having this to-do in Pope County, and it was a splendid evening, not
nearly as a big a crowd as--as this was. But when I decided to run for representative,
people’d say, “Have you heard Dale Bum--” I mean, gov--for governor--people’d say,
you know, “Have you heard Dale Bumpers is going to run for governor?” “Well, I heard
some people laughing about it.” [Laughter] And I started out with one percent name recognition,
and I don’t know what I was trying to prove, really. It was just so insane. I tell people
I ran to get off the school board. That’s the worst job I ever had. [Laughter] But,
anyway, so it was. I called my sister, who by this time was very wealthy. I called my
brother, who was a Harvard lawyer and really climbing the ladder at a fast pace. And I
told him--I said, “Carroll, I want to run for governor.” And he was pretty excited
about it. My sister was not. So, anyway, Carroll was living in Chicago--in Winnetka, a Chicago
suburb. He said, “Come up there Sunday afternoon. I’ll get Margaret to come over from Cleveland,
and we’ll talk this over.” So I said, “Okay.” So we all gathered Sunday afternoon
in Winnetka--just my brother and sister and me, sitting around the kitchen table. They
had the money, and they, therefore, had their claws on me as to whether I was going to run
or not. I had to sell them. And when I got through making my presentation, my sister
said, “I want to get this straight now. You’re going to run for governor with seven
other people in the race besides you?” “Yeah.” “And Orval Faubus is one of them?” “Yeah.”
“And you have to run in the primary, and if you win that, then you have to run against
Governor Rockefeller?” “Yeah, that’s right.” She said, “I ain’t putting a
damn dime in this ego trip.” [Laughter] But about a week before the election, I had
been climbing in the polls, and my guru, who did all of our tellers and everything, called
my brother and said, “We’ve got to have another thirty-five thousand dollars.” So
he naturally picked up the phone--called my sister. [Laughter] That’s all we knew to
do. And she just threw a fit. She said, “I’m not putting any more”--she'd already put
a lot of money in it. When I left Winnetka that afternoon, I had fifty thousand dollars
in my pocket, which was not anything much more then than it is now if you’re running
for governor. But in any event, that all worked out, and Carroll called Margaret, and he would
not let her off the phone until she said she’d give the other thirty-five thousand dollars.
And you know where the first speech was I made after that election? The Cleveland, Ohio,
Chamber of Commerce. [Laughter] She got her money’s worth right then. David?
>> David Pryor: This guy has the best memory and the best recall of any political person
I think that’s ever--and that includes Bill Clinton--of any political person ever produced
in Arkansas. I have gotten where--honestly, I hate--I’m sometimes embarrassed to go
out the front door because I’m going to meet someone that I’m supposed to know,
and I don’t know them, and I’ve known them forever. I know none of you have that
particular problem. [Laughter] But the other night, for example--I’ll just give you an
example--the other night my wife and I were watching a football game, and she said, “I’m
trying to remember who Eli Manning’s brother is.” And I said, “Oh, yeah. Okay, I know--let’s
see, is it John, Frank, Bill, Tom"--whatever--we thought and thought and thought--we--for an
hour we--I even went and tried to Google, which I can’t do very well [laughs], and
I never could find Eli Manning’s brother. And so finally about two thirty that morning
[laughter], Barbara kicked me, and she says, “It’s Peyton!” And I said, “What?”
She says, “It’s Peyton!” I says, “Peyton who?” And she says, “Peyton Manning.”
I said, “Well, who is Peyton Manning?” [Laughter] She says, “I don’t know, but
he’s got a brother. I can’t think of his name.” [Laughter] That’s how bad--we drive
down the road, and all we’re trying to remember is who this was and who that was and, “Boy,
don’t they look old?” and whatever. [Laughter] But, man, I look out in this crowd tonight
and--for example, Nathan George, I went to see the great friend of mine in all this--the--Lloyd
George not too long ago--I need to go again--in the nursing home in Ola. And I--the nurse
said to me as I walked into Lloyd’s room, Dale--she said--and, boy, he was a great ally
of yours and mine, too, in Yell County and in the legislature. But as I walked in the
room, the nurse said, “You know, he’s not going to know you.” I said, “I understand
that. I can deal with that.” But as I walked in he was sitting there in a wheelchair and
had on a baseball cap. And I said, “Lloyd,” and I never told him my name--I said, “Lloyd,”
He said, “Governor, I’ll be in five minutes in the governor’s office, and we’ll sign
that bill you wanted me to get.” [Laughter] He knew my voice and he--and, you know, I
was just so –I was just so impressed. And once again, it reminded me of--of the great
opportunities that we have in--in public life and whatever to meet the best people in--on
the face of the earth, and I--I have enjoyed every bit of it. I--Dale, I’m going to yield
back to you because I can’t remember what I was going to say next. [Laughter] So, anyway,
the … >> Dale Bumpers: Join the fraternity. Right
after I was elected governor, the governor of Missouri, who was chairman of the National
Governors Commerce, called and said, “How would you like to go to the Soviet Union [David
Pryor laughs] and spend about ten days?” And I said, “I’d really love it, but I--you
know, I don’t want folks here to think I’ve already defected.” [Laughter] And bear in
mind, this was 1971. So, anyway, I called Bob McCord [unclear word]--I said, “Bob,
what do you think people will think about me going to Russia here right after I’ve
been elected.” So I called McCord, and I said, “How would you treat it?” He said,
“I’d treat like it ought to be treated. It’s an educational thing. You ought to
do it. Of course, you ought to go.” So I thought it over, and I decided, “Well, I
got two years to make up for anything anybody says about it.” [Laughter] But the best
part of it was there was a radio station in Little Rock who had a roving reporter. He’d
get out on the street at noon every day at some fairly busy intersection, and he had
a question every day. And he would interview people who come up--put the microphone in
front of them--say, “What do you think about this?” And the question that day was, “What
do you think about Governor Bumpers going to the Soviet Union?” And I was listening.
[Laughter] And I remember this old man. He was about--they told me later he was up in
his eighties--had a cane--came hobbling down the street, and they stopped him. “Sir,
what do you think about Governor Bumpers going to the Soviet Union?” “I don’t know
what he wants to go to Russia for. He ain’t been to Cabot yet.” [Laughter]
>> David Pryor: You meet some real great people along the way, especially out on the campaign
trail. And I was out campaigning one time for office--I can’t remember which office
I was running for, but I think I was in Washington already in the Senate. And I’d--I somehow
or another I was going to El Dorado on a weekend--a Saturday or a Sunday. And I--folks down in
Calhoun County and Hampton got word I was coming through town, so they said, “Would
you mind stopping by the VFW lodge and saying hi to Miss Lily so-and-so. She’s having
her hundredth birthday. And I said, “Oh, yeah, that’d be good.” So we were driving
down the highway, [phone rings] and we pulled over to the left and drove into the VFW lodge
and walked in there. And here was this lady in a wheelchair, and I said, “How are you?
I’m--I’m David Pryor, and I wanted to wish you a happy hundredth birthday.” And
she said, “Oh, have you met my baby daughter yet?” And I said, “No, I haven’t.”
Well, I--she said, “Come over here, Mary Jo. I want you to meet Senator Pryor.” She
came over on her walker, and she was eighty-two years old. [Laughter] That was the baby daughter.
Well, this lady--I didn’t know what to say to anyone who was a hundred, so I said, “You’ve
sure seen a lot of change in your hundred years.” “Yeah, I been against all of it,
too.” So [laughter] you’ll--you--you--those little things--those little memories that
you take with you all your life and they really--they just really have a special meaning to you
as we go--especially through the campaign trails. And I’ve enjoyed--some people said
that Pryor liked to campaign more than he liked to hold office. I don’t know, I always
enjoyed holding office, but the campaigns were a special time to me because you were
always thrown out there in various situations all over the state with different types of
people of all walks of life, and that’s what--that's what makes Arkansas a very, very
unique state. >> Dale Bumpers: When the first--we had two
primaries, you know. You had one in, I think it was, April and one in May. And I can remember
in the first primary, I--I had been told that some of these mountain counties up north could
not be relied on [laughs] to bring the ballots in the way they were really voted. [Laughter]
And so we were really apprehensive about what . . .
>> David Pryor: Now why would you have heard a thing like that, Dale? [Laughter]
>> Dale Bumpers: Well, I didn’t believe it, of course. [Laughter] But I did call the
judge at two o’clock in the morning [laughter], and I said, “Judge, I’ve got nine hundred
votes in that county up there. All I want is nine hundred votes. I don’t want one
that belongs to anybody else, and I’m depending on you.” Now this was two o’clock in the
morning--I said, “I’m depending on you to make sure that those ballots are counted
right.” “Dale, don’t you worry about it.” Says, “Only thirty-two votes out
in a little old country church out here five miles from town. [David Pryor laughs] Don’t
you worry about a thing.” And, sure enough, when the votes came in, I was four hundred
short. [Laughter] And it turned out just the way everybody had said it probably would.
And, of course, I--wasn’t anything I could do about it, but it turned out. I got in a
runoff anyway and won. I rented a suite in the--what’s the town--the one on the interstate
down there? >> David Pryor: Quapaw Tower?
>> Dale Bumpers: Quapaw Towers. I rented a suite there, and we started inviting people
from all over the state that had voted wrong and giving them a chance to make up for it
[laughter] by hitting the drum with a little money. And so here comes the judge with four
of his underlings. And they came in, and we had a room set back, and people would come
in, and they’d throw their money on the bed, and that--that was their atonement [laughter]
for having voted wrong in the first place. [Laughter] So we’re back there, and the
judge throws this money out--twenty dollar bills, skewed--I said, “Judge, I cannot
believe you.” I said, “You know I called you at two o’clock.” “Oh, I know that,
Dale. I know that.” [David Pryor laughs] “I called you at two o’clock in the morning
and asked you to save those votes, and you promised me that every vote would be counted.”
He said, “We’ll do it for you next time.” [Laughter] I don’t think he ever got a chance
to but … >> David Pryor: We’ve got a--we've got a
special friend here. Dale’s nephew is Archie Schaffer, who, as you know, is from--reared
in Franklin County in Charleston. And Archie now--if you ever go to the Tyson corporate
headquarters--the Taj Majal of the mountains [laughter]--and you go into Tyson headquarters
and you look up Johnny Tyson and John--and Don Tyson, the office right between these
two individuals is Archie Schaffer’s office. He has to sit between these two icons. But
Archie was Senator Bump--governor--then-Governor Bumpers’s staff--chief of staff while Dale
was governor for a period of time. And one day in 1973 during the gasoline crisis and
the energy crisis, Dale drove up in his big Lincoln to the--to the state capitol and got
out and came in and huge press conference. Everybody knew there was a big announcement.
Dale got up--Governor Bumpers did--and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m just here to
announce that we’re going on a huge gasoline-saving binge in Arkansas, and I have today ordered
Pintos for all the state agencies of government [laughter]--the health department, pollution
control, ecology,” and whatever. And somebody--John Bennett of the Commercial Appeal--old John
was pretty sour. You remember him, don’t you, [unclear word]?
>> Dale Bumpers: [Laughs] Oh, do I remember him! [Laughter]
>> David Pryor: And I remember that we--he was in Little Rock, and we got elected to
the Senate to get away from John Bennett. And then he came up there.
>> Dale Bumpers: Yeah. >> David Pryor: Remember that? [Laughter]
>> Dale Bumpers: Oh, yeah. >> David Pryor: Followed us up there. But,
anyway, John Bennett says, “Well, Governor Bumpers, we were looking out the press office
window and saw you drive up in that big old gas-guzzling Lincoln with that state trooper
at the steering wheel.” Says, “What are you going do about your own car?” He said,
“Oh, we’ve ordered a--a--a Pinto. We’re going to start driving a Pinto, and we’ve
ordered a Pinto.” So we walk back--they walk back in the office, and Archie walks
back in and closes the door--says, “Uncle Dale, we hadn’t ordered any Pinto.” He
says, “You have now!” [Laughter] So we--Archie, is that a true story or not? >> Archie Shaffer
III: I don’t know. [Laughter] >> David Pryor: But Archie was my great chauffeur
down tonight from Fayetteville. I came down from Fayetteville, and Dale not only came
from Little Rock, he came all the way from Washington, DC today to be here with you tonight.
That’s the depth of his caring, so he’s come a long way--probably longer …
>> Dale Bumpers: One other story … >> David Pryor: … than any other [unclear]
person. >> Dale Bumpers: … that happened not too
many years after I came here the first--well, it was during the campaign when eight of us
were running for governor in the Democratic primary. And there was a fellow running that
was called Bill Cheek. He was an oil distributor from over in West Memphis. Now bear in mind
there were eight people in this race, including him. Orval Faubus, the attorney general, lieutenant
governor--everybody was in the race. But, anyway, we were outside someplace in Pope
County, and Bill Cheek was a pretty clever guy, and there was another man in the race
who was a very prominent lawyer from Texarkana, Bob Compton.
>> David Pryor: Bob. >> Dale Bumpers: You’re--not Texarkana but
… >> David Pryor: El Dorado.
>> Dale Bumpers: El Dorado. And so every place we went, Bob Compton’d get up there, and
he’d say, “I’m one of you. I was just born five miles right out here.” [Laughter]
And every place we’d go, you know, he’s just born five miles right out here. So Bill
Cheek was going down the list of all the candidates. And he had different--oh, Orval Faubus--he
really cut loose on him. But he got down to--he got down to Bob Compton. He said, “Bob Compton
has been born all over this state.” [Laughter] His mother either had the longest labor, or
his daddy had the fastest covered wagon I ever want to see.” [Laughter] It was just
[clears throat]--politics is a fascinating business, and things like that happen constantly.
And there--let me tell you, there are a lot of things that happen that are traumatic to
you, and I was new to it. I mean, I loved politics. We were taught that when we died
we were going to Franklin Roosevelt [laughter], and we really believed all those things. It
was an extremely fascinating time, and it--it made it so easy for me to finally make a--to
tell you the truth, Orval Faubus so totally dominated politics in the state, and he was
a totally different politician from what I was going to be. And--but I knew I couldn’t
compete with him. He was--he was just the icon in the state. After all the things in
Little Rock High School and everything, people were still really attached to him, and so
I had to wait until some of that wore off before I could get in the race. And it really--it
was a fascinating story because I--for example, I remember the day before the first primary--David,
we were down at Pine Bluff and the--it was Labor Day. It was Labor Day. We were down
in Pine Bluff, and I had told one of my staffers--I said, “I hear that--that Orval Faubus has
a big announcement he’s going to make, and I want you to go up there to it, and you call
me on the phone because I’ve got to speak down here at one forty-five.” There were
a thousand, two thousand people there. And I said, “You call me and tell me what he
said.” And it happened that morning because Orval Faubus was there on the podium with
me at that moment. So I called him. Ed Lester …
>> David Pryor: Mh-hmm. >> Dale Bumpers: … was the guy who attended
the press conference for me. And he said--he told me--he says, “This makes no sense,
but here’s what he said. He says that if he’s elected governor, he’ll be assassinated
within six months.” I said, “Well, I don’t--I don't get it. What’s the deal?” He said,
“Beats me.” I said, “Did he actually say that?” He said, “Yeah. He said he’d
be assassinated.” And I said, “Well, I can’t figure out a single rationale for
that statement.” But I was next on the program following Orval Faubus. And I said, “Orval
Faubus has made an announcement this morning that if he is elected governor, he will be
assassinated within six months. I’m here this afternoon to save Orval Faubus life.”
[Laughter and applause] >> David Pryor: I have never heard that story.
I’ve been around this guy all my life, but I’ve never heard that story. [Laughter]
That’s a great story. >> Dale Bumpers: Thank you, David.
>> David Pryor: You think that--I tell you what, you think we’re these two nice guys--humble
guys. Not a word--not a bit of truth to it. We’ve got egos as big as a barn. [Laughter]
We were not long ago at the International House of Pancakes having breakfast, and Dale
was here from Washington, and I was in Little Rock, and we were over in the corner. We noticed
these waitresses over at the cash register. They kept staring at us. And the longer they
stared at us--they were talking about us. And I knew and Dale knew that they were talking
about us, and the longer they talked about us, our--we just swelled up, you know, like
a [laughter] big toad frog. Boy, our egos were real--Mark Wilcox knows about this. He
knows how that feeling is--when you know somebody’s talking about you and maybe saying some nice
things about you. Finally, one of the waitresses came over--says, “Say, can we interrupt
you just a minute?” Said, “Sure.” Says, “We’ve been having an argument over here
at the cash register. Which one of y’all used to be sheriff around here?” [Laughter]
Do you remember that, Dale? >> Dale Bumpers: Yeah.
>> David Pryor: Boy, that’ll--that'll take your ego down. Nothing wrong with being sheriff.
My mother--I mean, my father and grandfather and great-grandfather were all sheriffs down
in Ouachita County, where Rozzy and I are from, so nothing wrong with that. We’re
just proud of all the county officials who …
>> Dale Bumpers: David, tell them the story about your father coming and getting you out
of school to take you down to the post office, and he wanted you to see something.
>> David Pryor: He did. [Laughter] My--we--that was in the old days, and my dad was a Chevrolet
dealer and the sheriff of the county. And one day I was--I’d gotten out of school
and walk across the railroad track and walked over to the Chevrolet place. Dad says, “Come
here. I want to take you across the alley and go to the post office and get the mail.”
So we did, and you could go in there and work the little combination, you know, and he always
would let me work the combination and reach in there and get all the mail out of the mailbox.
And so I was in there, and one day I looked over there on the side, and my dad and I were
standing there getting the mail. And I saw this man in this black suit and this black
hat--tall man--must have been six-five or six-six tall--standing there getting his mail.
And I said, “Dad, who is that man?” And my dad said, “Oh, no, you don’t want to
know about him.” I said, “No, no, who--who is he, Dad?” “Well, we’ll talk about
him [unclear words].” I said, “Well, I’m just curious--curious, Dad. Who is that man?”
He says, “Well, son, his name is Skidmore Willis.” And I said, “Well, who is Mr.
Willis?” And he says, “Son, he is the--he is a Republican.” [Laughter] And I said,
“Well, Dad, what is a Republican?” He said, “You’ll know soon enough.” [Laughter]
So, anyway--so, anyway, that was the first Republican I--that was the only Republican
that we had in Ouachita County. [Laughter] And that was Skidmore Willis. That’s the
honest-to-goodness truth. Do you remember any Republicans in Franklin County at that
time? >> Dale Bumpers: Yeah, the banker. [Laughter]
>> Jim Kennedy: [Unclear word] >> David Pryor: Most bankers--not all bankers,
but most bankers seem to be. A lot of bankers are.
>> Dale Bumpers: We had--you know, the Republicans in Charleston--there must have been about
thirty of them, but everybody knew who was a Republican and who wasn’t. I was going
to tell you one other story about Dan Quayle. It’s the best story I have.
>> David Pryor: Oh, yeah. [Laughter] >> Dale Bumpers: Dan, believe it or not, sort
of encouraged me to run for president. You know, he was later vice-president. And I liked
him a lot. He was not considered a Socrates or anything but [laughter]--[pauses and clears
throat] one day Dan and I were having a conversation, and I’ve forgotten exactly what it was about.
But I said--oh, I know what it was. He was chiding me about being a lawyer. He said,
“You know, Dale, the problem with this country--we got too many lawyers.” To be frank with
you, his words were “too damn many lawyers.” [Laughter] And I said, “Well.” He was
asking about my children. I have three children. They’re all lawyers. My brother and I were
both lawyers.” He said, “That’s the problem. We got too many lawyers." And I said,
“Well, Dan, I--I have a little trouble with that, but let me ask you this. This is a kind
of a lawyer riddle, but let me ask you this riddle. My mother had a baby. It wasn’t
my brother, wasn’t my sister. Who was it?” He scratched his head, and he says, “Well,
I don’t know.” I said, “It was me.” [Laughter] He said, “Boy, that’s good.
That’s really good. [Laughter] He went rushing over to the White House to see George H.,
who was president. Dan was vice-president at the time. “Mr. President, I’ve got
a riddle for you.” “What is it, Dan?” “My mother had a baby--wasn’t my brother,
wasn’t my sister, and so who was it?” And George H. said, “Well, it’s you.”
He said, “No, it’s Dale Bumpers.” [Laughter and applause]
>> David Pryor: Oh, that is a great story. [Laughter] Tha--that--that’s a--that’s
what we call an inside Senate story. [Laughter] I’m going tell you another inside Senate
story. The Democrat--the Democrats, when we were in the Senate--I--they may have changed
it since that time--but we had three elected positions in the Democratic Party in the Senate.
We had the majority leader, the--I mean, we had the Democratic leader, the whip, and the
secretary of the Democratic Conference. Well, one thing led to another. An opening came
up in the secretaryship of the Democratic Conference, and so I said, “Heck, I’m
going to run for that.” And there were two or three other of my colleagues wanting to
run, and so they announced, and I announced, and we campaigned. I went to every United
States senator’s office on the Democratic side--sat down at--in their office and asked
them for their vote. I did it for everyone except one senator. In a minute I may--who
that was. But, anyway, the night before we--the Democrats were going to meet in the caucus,
and we meet in the old Senate chamber. The beautiful, old Senate chamber--the ornate
chamber. And we would go in there and have our election for our Democratic officers.
So I called Dale up the night before, and I said, “Now, Dale, I’m running for secretary
of the Democratic conference. And I’m calling on you, my friend of many years, to get up
in the conference and place my name in nomination to be secretary of the conference. And, Dale,
I’m asking you to make one of the great speeches you’ve ever made. I want a barn
burner. I want you to tell every good thing that you’ve ever thought of about me and
let my colleagues know why I’d be a good secretary of the conference.” He said, “Great.”
I could hear--on the telephone I could hear his pen going over his legal pad, [Dale Bumpers
laughs] scratching on his legal pad. [Laughter] And he said, “By the way, let me ask you
one thing before you go any further.” I said, “What?” He said, “What does that
position do? What do you do?” I said, “Absolutely nothing.” He said, “You’ll be perfect
for the job.” [Laughter] So, anyway, that was going on. But I want to tell you, this
is why it’s so important--anyone ever thinking about running for public office, don’t ever
hesitate or fail to ask someone for their vote. A lot of politicians make this mistake.
Ask people for their vote. I did this Democratic conference leadership thing, and I knew that
there was one senator who didn’t like me. And I said, “I’m not going to go to his
office and waste my time and waste his time and embarrass us by sitting there, knowing
he’s not going to vote for me.” So, anyway, going over that morning to the vote in the
Democratic conference, who would I get on the elevator with in the basement of the capitol
to go up to the old Senate [Dale Bumpers coughs] chamber but this senator? The two of us are
standing there. We’re not saying much to each other. “Good morning,” or something.
He said, “By the way,” he said, “aren’t you running for secretary of the conference?”
And I said, “Yes, I am.” He said, “You’ve not asked me for my vote.” I said, “You’re
right.” So I swallowed, and I said, “I would really hope you will vote for me. I’m
asking for your vote today in a few minutes for the secretary of the conference.” He
said, “You’ve got it.” I won by one vote. [Laughter] I want you to know that.
And that’s the story of one vote. And we’ve seen some elections in this country and in
this state in recent years. And this state and this country--maybe not this state, but
this country is divided fifty-fifty like we’ve never seen it divided now, between red and
blue. And I hate red and blue connotations. I hate all that because I think we’re one
country. But things are not--anyway we can--may want to talk about that in a little bit, but
I just wanted you to--I wanted to tell you about how important it is to ask people for
one of the most precious things that they have, and that’s their vote. So Dale …
>> Dale Bumpers: I’m going to tell you one story dealing with Bill Clinton, and it’s
the last one I’m going to tell, David. >> David Pryor: You mean forever or--or [laughter]
… >> Dale Bumpers: You know, the coon supper
down at Gillette, Arkansas, is an absolute must for any politician. I didn’t know that--didn’t
know much about Gillette or south Arkansas when I got into politics. But David learned
early, and I soon learned that you have to go to Gillette because there’ll be a thousand
to fifteen hundred people there for the coon supper. And they actually cook coon, and they
serve it. And David loves to tell the story about somebody coming by with that stuff and
I … >> David Pryor: You had the flu. [Laughter]
>> Dale Bumpers: Was that it? >> David Pryor: Mh-hmm.
>> Dale Bumpers: I was thinking you told them that I’d already had …
>> David Pryor: No! No, let me tell this story. [Laughter] I can do it better. No, you go--you
tell--you ought to tell them about that plane crash that you and Bill Clinton . . .
>> Dale Bumpers: I will. >> David Pryor: You tell . . .
>> Dale Bumpers: Okay. You tell them about the coon supper, and I’ll . . .
>> David Pryor: Well, I’ll tell you . . . >> Dale Bumpers: . . . tell them about the
plane crash. >> David Pryor: Dale was sick one year during
the coon suppers in January--third Friday night or something like that. I’m not sure.
And so I’d heard that he had a--a viral flu and was home throwing up and everything
in his apartment. But I called him up, and I said, “Dale, you’re up for reelection
this year, and you’re going to have to go to that coon supper.” He said, “I can’t.
I’m sick. I can’t go. You tell them I really can’t make it there tonight.” So,
I said, “No, you got to go, and I’m going come by and pick you up, and we’re going
to drive [laughs] down there to Gillette, Arkansas, and you’re going to go there.
We’re just going to stay a short time. But, Dale, if you slight them--if you snub them,
they’ll never forget this on Election Day.” So he said, “Well, all right. I’ll be
out in front of the apartment.” So I picked him up, and we drive down. We get a--just
about to Pine Bluff and you--and Gillette is still about thirty miles south of Pine
Bluff or forty. And maybe--and we could smell that coon cooking from there. [Laughter] And
I thought Dale was going to throw up in my car. [Laughter] And we were driving, and he
was getting greener and greener, and I said, “Boy, this guy’s [laughs] getting ready
to be sick right here in my car.” And I said, “Dale, we’ll slow down if you need
to get out or whatever.” We finally got to the coon supper, and they brought this
big thing of coon. They pour this coon out in wash tubs out in front of you, and you’re
supposed to sit there and eat it. They put it on oiled tablecloths, and they’d throw
some cornbread and some stuff at it and, man, it--there’s an aroma there that you can’t
quite describe. [Laughter] But Dale was sitting there, and I knew it was just--he was going
to just, you know, become sick at his stomach. And, finally, the Channel 11 new--news reporter
came over and turned on the camera--says, “Senator Bumpers, we want to see you eat
some of this coon. We’re going to put it on the ten o’clock news. So take a big old
bite of that coon.” [Laughter] And Dale looked down at it, and he got greener and
greener. He said, “You know, I am so full I can’t eat any more. It’s so good.”
And she said, “When did you eat it?” And he says, “Three years ago.” [Laughter]
He got by with it. He got by … >> Dale Bumpers: Bill Clinton called me one
[clears throat] afternoon. We’d had a twelve-inch snowstorm, and it was Saturday, and the snow
was still on the ground. And Bill called and said, “Are you going to the coon supper?”
And I said, “Are you crazy? [Laughter] How can we go to the coon supper? My God, it’s
twelve inches of snow on the ground.” He says, “Well, I talked to county judge, and
he--he said he’d swept it off. He swept the runway, so we could get in.” I said,
“I don’t know.” And finally I agreed to do it, and I told him--I said, “I’ll
meet you at Central Flying Service at six o’clock.” And we started to--you know,
I didn’t think much more about it, but about five thirty, I began to think about it. And
Betty was, as you might guess--any wife was saying, “I can’t believe this.” And
when I walked out the door, she said, “You know, you and Bill Clinton both need a saliva
test.” [Laughter] But, anyway, we went on and we took off, and sure enough, the county
judge had cleaned the runway off. But what he had done was to shovel all the snow right
up to the end of the runway. And so when we came in, the front landing gear hit the snow
which had, by that time, turned to ice because the sun had been out all day, and it melted
and turned the snow into ice. And the nose wheel hit it--blam! We went circling out through
this corn patch or whatever it was--cotton field. And Bill was telling a story. I said,
“Bill, open that door. This thing’s going catch on fire.” And he was so busy telling
his story that he didn’t know we’d crashed. [Laughter] So [laughs], anyway, the thing
finally came to a stop, and I hollered at him again. He had a state trooper with him.
Governors had security then. I guess they still do, don’t they? And--but in any event,
the plane was nose down, straight up. And finally the trooper reached over in front
of Bill--turned the knob--got the door open--and we all jumped out. All of us got sprained
ankles--it was so high off the ground. And we started running across that field in the
snow, and Bill said, “Boy, I bet we never lose another vote in Gillette.” [Laughter]
Now that’s the gospel truth. Every word of that’s exactly the way it happened.
>> David Pryor: I backed out of that trip. I was at Central Flying Service, and I went
home and built a fire right in … >> Dale Bumpers: Oh, my.
>> David Pryor: Now, Dale, tell them that story. I love …
>> Dale Bumpers: Well, I … >> David Pryor: Are you through with that
one? >> Dale Bumpers: Yeah, I …
>> David Pryor: Well, if you’re through with that, I want you to tell another one
that I like to hear you tell. Tell them that story about you and Rozzy up there in the
hills one night, and you’re coming back from a big dinner. I believe it was a Democratic
dinner, and you ran out of gas. >> Dale Bumpers: No, we were going to it.
>> David Pryor: You were running out of gas. >> Dale Bumpers: Yeah.
>> David Pryor: What is that story? >> Dale Bumpers: Well, we stopped, and we
couldn’t find a--it was dark--little old two-lane highway, and of course, we were just--actually,
David, we were going to the dinner, and we--we thought we were going to be late. And we finally
found this little old house which had a gas pump out in front, and we decided if we were
ever going to get there, that’s where we could maybe make it. So we stopped, and this
kid came out. He was just a kid. And I told him, “Fill it up.” And so, he got over--took
the pipe--the--the gas nozzle, and he didn’t know what to do with it. He’s just footsying
around with it, and I knew he was retarded or something. [Laughter] And I said, “Son,
is there--is--is your mother or father here?” He said, “Nope.” I said, “Is there anybody
else here?” “Nope.” I said, “Do you have any brothers and sisters?” He said,
“I got a brother.” I said, “You’ve got a brother?” He said, “Yeah.” I said,
“Where is he?” He said, “He’s at Harvard.” [Laughter] “You got a brother at Harvard?”
“Yeah.” [David Pryor laughs] “What’s he studying?” “He ain’t studying nothing.
They’re studying him.” [Laughter] >> David Pryor: Olin told us at the beginning
of this show tonight that we couldn’t go over forty minutes, and we’ve already violated
that, but I’m going give one final one. Dale and I were campaigning [laughs] one time,
and we stopped somewhere down around Lake Village one afternoon, and we were trying
to get back to Little Rock for something, and we said--I said, “Dale, let’s just
stop right here at this nursing home right quick. I’m chairman of the Aging Committee,
and they’ll recognize me. I’ve tried to help seniors and whatever, so I’m going
to give you a big introduction and me a big introduction, and it’ll tickle them to death
for us to be here.” Egos once again. And so we got [laughter] out of the car and went
over toward the nursing home. And the lady was out on [laughs] the front with a walker.
She must have been ninety-five or -six and she--I said, “How are you? Do you know who
I am?” And she looked at me real funny and long. She says, “No, but you can go down
to the information desk. They can probably let you know about [laughter]--they can probably
tell you who you are.” [Laughter] Well, I’m going to--Olin and I and all of you--this
has just been great. But I want--I want to say this, and this is on a personal note.
To be able to serve--not only to follow a guy like this to become governor of Arkansas
and follow in his footsteps has been a great honor in my life. But the real honor and the
real privilege I had was to serve by his side when I had eighteen years by his side as a
United States senator. And I’m going to tell you what, it was a great, great time
in my life, and I will always be grateful not only for what he stood for--what he believed
in our--about in our country and for our country but for the state of Arkansas that he loves
so very dearly, and to have served with and by Dale Bumpers was the greatest privilege,
I think, in my life. And I just wanted to say, Dale, in behalf of all of us--all of
the Democrats and all of the Arkansans and all the Americans, we applaud your service,
and we’re so grateful that you have given us of your life and your times during this
period. Thank you, Dale. [Applause]
>> Dale Bumpers: [Unclear words] >> David Pryor: Thank you. [Laughter]
>> Dale Bumpers: [Unclear words] >> David Pryor: Thank you very much.
>> Jim Kennedy: On behalf of Pope County Democrats, we’d like to thank you both for being here.
>> Dale Bumpers: Do I have to report this to the Ethics Committee?
>> Jim Kennedy: No, you don’t. [Laughter] No. On behalf of everybody here, it was a
true privilege for us to be here, and I’m just thankful that I got to be a part of it.
>> Dale Bumpers: Thank you very much [unclear words].
>> David Pryor: I--I want to make an announcement if I could. We have a new center at the University
of Arkansas, and we’re going all over the state, and we’re recording lives of Arkansans.
We’re recording people who have made a difference in our state--not necessarily just politicians
but businesspeople and musicians and homemakers and everyone that you can imagine. And we’re--we’re
searching for new people to interview constantly, and should you have an interest in not only
your family being interviewed or know someone of special interest who’s done something
special for our state of Arkansas or for our country, we want you to contact the center
at the University of Arkansas. Now just because it’s in Fayetteville, doesn’t mean it’s
not statewide. It’s statewide. We’re going to partner with Arkansas Tech. We’re going
to partner with AETN. We’re partnering with all of the other institutions of learning
all over the state, and we want all of us to be a part of it. And we think it’s going
to be an exciting venture ahead. So be looking on the Web site for it.
[Background music] >> David Pryor: Thank all of you so much.
Thank you again. Thank you, sir. [Applause]