The Personal Histories
Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride
YEARS IN THE ARIZONA STATE SENATE
In 1958, against my better judgment, over strenuous protests from my wife, and at the insistence of a very fine friend and his son, along with a few other sturdy Thatcher citizens, I allowed myself to be persuaded to run for the State Senate. Jim and Omer Smith aren’t people you can say no to and walk away from. While shaking hands with me Jim said, “I believe I am shaking hands with Graham County’s next Senator.” Before they finished with me that day in our Thatcher store, they almost had me convinced that I could win the election. They never did quite do that, but I ran anyway, for I had the feeling that it might take two tries to make it happen. Of course, that was after my wife had been brought in on our conversation.
At the first break in their words of explanation, Jo slapped her hand down on the counter and said, “My answer is no!” I don’t think he should run!” They asked why, and she explained that it would cost too much, and that I’d have to neglect the business.
Well, we three failed to convince Jo that I should gamble the attempt. She left us saying, “It’s going to be up to you, but I’m against it.” During the next few days while I pondered it all and discussed aspects of it with Jo, she still stuck to her guns. When I did make up my mind to run, she agreed to support my dubious choice.
We called our three children together in family council to discuss it with them. Though Sally Jo was already married we included her with the two boys. We didn’t look to them for consent to run, but only to alert them to what negative things might happen to us and to them in the midst of a heated campaign. I explained that anything in the nature of “unclean skirts” could be thrown at us in attempt to discredit. They needed to understand and be prepared for anything: truth or lies, in the sometimes dirty game of politics. They approved and wished me the best. My hat was in the ring!
The Democratic Primary became a four-way dog fight between incumbents Jim Smith and Warner Mattice, and two newcomers, John Mickelson and myself. Suffice it to say that I believe I lost it for only one reason: Convinced I couldn’t win on my first try, I believe I unknowingly convinced my friends of the same thing. Thus they failed to work in my behalf, which caused me to lose the election by a measly 16 votes. Mattice trailed a couple of hundred behind me, and Smith outdid Mickelson by some 400. So, though it wasn’t me, Graham County did have a new Senator in John Michelson.
The loss of that race taught me a wonderful lesson. I capitalized on the results, for I decided then and there that no one, not even my closest friends, should ever know again if I had any doubts about winning anything.
Scrutiny of the various circumstances of the election only bolstered my determination to run next time. At the beginning I made it clear to Jim, that for me to make the attempt, it would have to be a two-time effort, win or lose. Moreover, a man always of his word, Jim had promised me his family’s continued support in any future race. The campaign would begin in earnest again in less than a year and a-half. This time I would run with confidence, for I figured a 16 vote loss a strong endorsement by the people of Graham County: a stamp of approval, especially since I had been able to eliminate Warner Matice, an old campaigner, well established in Arizona politics.
In the second attempt, Jim and I advertised that we were running as a team. We had handout cards printed with him on one side and me on the other. The caption read, “ANY WAY YOU TURN IT, IT’S A GOOD TEAM.”
That 1960 race was an easy win, but a sad one. I ran well ahead of my two opponents, but Mickelson managed to squeeze out Smith. I say sad because Smith at an early date in the campaign decided that I was running pretty safe, for which he was very happy. However, unable to correctly evaluate his own position, he left some fences unmended. He was looking forward to him and me teaming up to get important things done in the Senate the coming session; Jim had proved a real friend. I knew I owed my election to him and his ability to sway what he called the solid Smith bloc to my camp. In the next three elections I could plainly see that my future in politics was indebted to that sturdy foundation he had established. It soon became apparent that the 1960 election had another sad side to it. Because Smith and I had worked together to defeat Mickelson, a bitterness developed between John Mickelson and me during the campaign that prohibited us working and planning together for the benefit of the county during the 25th legislature session. Hard feelings persisted, and try as I might we couldn’t come around to a mutual trust of each other. This condition wasn’t improved either when it came time for committee assignments. Since John had inherited the choice assignments that Mattice’s defeat had thrown open in 1958, and since Smith had been a minority member and therefore had no decent committees to turn over, nothing much was left for me to pick up. My only chance for something worthwhile, was for Mickelson to relinquish some of his. President Carpenter was anxious that I come into his camp, so after several hours of arguing and bickering among the three of us, membership on the “Education Committee” was relinquished to me. My only good assignment for the year.
The year for me turned out to be one of trial-by-fire. I had not been included enough by the majority bloc to be considered a member of it, and I refused to join the militant minority whose sole purpose and action was to harass and embarrass the majority. Accompanying this precarious position, coupled with the fact the word had preceded me that I was Jim Smith’s “boy” and should be expected to act like him, (He was a republican and I a democrat.) didn’t get me off to a very good start in that first session. You see, Jim was a militant minority member and had been very outspoken in his criticism of the majority leadership, especially regarding their dealings with the big special interests of the state. So, I dangled in limbo.
Also many at home predicted that although Smith had lost the election, he’d still pull half the strings for Graham County in the Senate. “He’ll be there every week to tell Darvil what to do,” was the word that made the rounds. More than once I did wish that he had been handy for that purpose, but the truth is, I only heard from and saw him once during the fifteen weeks we met in session that year.
I don’t remember for sure, but I think I only introduced three bills that year and was probably asked to cosign another dozen. Fortunately, one of my bills did pass which gave me an excellent percentage rate of success. The bill established local museums in the counties for the housing and preservation of items of historical value and interest.
Sensing that before I could ever become an influence for my county and its people I had been chosen to represent, I decided I would of necessity have to improve my standing. I realized that I was in no position to be belligerent or demanding in any way: I was still small fry. I watched Evan Mecham and Sam Stieger become obstructionists, yell their heads off at Senator Giss and raise hell in general without getting anything out of it but frustration and ulcers. Although in committee, and occasionally on the floor, I expressed myself in definite terms, I knew there had to be another way. By talking but little and listening a great deal, I soon discovered that every senator there had his critics, if not enemies. One criticism of many that kept constantly reoccurring in passing conversation was, “He can’t be trusted, or “he’ll cut your throat.” Impressed with this observation I firmly decided that I was one Senator who would never be known as a cut-throat or be questioned as to his trustworthiness. So I deliberately set out, and even purposely manipulated the occasions to prove to my colleagues that I could be trusted; that I was a good guy and worthy of their respect and friendship.
This kind of open action paid off an hundred fold. I eventually became known as the quiet fellow who never betrayed a confidence or ever spoke disparagingly of another. Tactics such as these (and I’m not saying they were always absolutely genuine) I knew wouldn’t get me anything for Graham County this year, but I was sure it would pay off in the long term, and should be accomplishment enough for the first year. Near the end of that first year an article appeared in the Arizona Republic (For some reason it didn’t find place in my collection.) about the quiet and unassuming senator who sat on the back row and spoke only when spoken to.Thank heaven it was all complimentary.
With the commencement of that first term, I soon discovered that my bit of talent and experience with poetry might become a great advantage. Always behind the scenes, one man or another maneuvers to gain advantage over others or to attain a certain success. By and large, if success through improper contrivances leaks out to the media, it can heap considerable embarrassment upon a legislator, discrediting his success as well as his character.
Rather than using a direct, abrasive, frontal attack, I chose to lampoon underhanded dealings of characterless men, with wit of simple verse. The media loved to get hold of such things, especially if they had an original flare. I found that through allegory and satire I could indirectly, so to speak, gain and maintain an edge of advantage and respect with virtually anyone. With a truly guilty adversary: that is to say guilty of quasi-criminal or worse activity, I could stand as a terrible leviathan of threat, yet, armed only with candid arrows and darts of rhythm and rhyme.
Though a freshman in the legislature, even the powerful and experienced soon began to eye me with increased respect and sometimes fear. Gradually, many, out of fear of the pen, began to treat me with kid gloves. Thus, I enjoyed a position early-on unlike many. I avoided being subjected to common toughness perpetrated routinely against the lesser experienced. How really true it can be, I discovered, "The pen is mightier than the sword." I would use this weapon of circuitous attack with surprising results during my entire tenure in the Senate. The byword became, “You better not; he’ll write a poem about you.”
Many cohorts asked me to compose poems for occasions to honor others or for special events, a compliment to me, I was happy to oblige. I enjoyed too, the unsolicited writing of poems to add comedy and fun to other senatorial activity. Soon the State Legislature and its entourage elevated me to the position of their unofficial "Poet Laureate,” recorded in the minutes of the day, an official resolution entered in the books of history.
During this quiet spell in my political career the name of Ray Gilbert first surfaced. Always mentioned in hushed tones it naturally aroused my curiosity. I dared a few inquiries, but no one seemed to know him personally or just who he was. Finally one day in April a Senator from a northern county said to me, “Would you like to have lunch with me and meet a man who is interested in you?
The question itself dumbfounded me, but when he mentioned Ray Gilbert I was bowled over. Of course, I knew immediately I must accept the invitation. I had to know more about the guy whose name remained a hushed “byword” in legislative circles.
Well, I couldn’t learn much about Ray Gilbert. In fact my Senator friend couldn’t even tell me who he represented (or I should say, wouldn’t tell me). But I found out later that Gilbert had learned plenty about me, for a week or so later the northern Senator accosted me again. “You didn’t know what was happening the other day but you passed the test. Gilbert was impressed with you.” Probably wasn’t so, but I must have fit into his schemes somewhere.
For a moment my temper flared and I said, “Look, damn you, don’t you go getting me involved in something I don’t know anything about. Who the heck is Ray Gilbert anyway?!” Then he told me Gilbert was the liaison man for the most powerful public utility in the State, the Arizona Public Service Company. This was my first inkling of the power struggle going on among industrial giants in Arizona and how they operated behind the scenes to control legislation and bring about decisions favorable to themselves. The mines, the utilities, the railroads, the lumbering interests: these are the boys who pull the strings. Within, I soundly resolved that I would be a puppet for no one—let any jerk the strings as they may.
Ray Gilbert and the dubious test I had passed did not surface again that year, leaving me to believe I had won a round. But, oh how naive I was. I learned that the Senate lobby abounded with such types, though perhaps a little less secretive about their purposes, as Ray Gilbert.
In the world of "special interest groups,” the men they hire as persuaders (lobbyists), act as high-pressure salesmen to exert influence to convert one to their group's desires. They try to persuade you to sponsor, vote for, or campaign for any bills that would, if made law, be advantageous to their employer. They are a problem that exists in the midst of what could otherwise be a more just system. Lobbyists are those who make the payoffs with bribe money. They search out all legislators willing to sell out for a price, to the needs of the lobbyist’s employer, i.e., the special interest group the persuader represents.
Many carry large sums of pocket-cash to lay before the greedy for their vote. I truly believed much more of it went on than I knew, because the first few times they tested me, I turned them down. Through the grape vine, they soon knew that—I wasn't on the take or for sale—and they ceased to bother me. The lobbyists of my time could get away with offering bribe-money. They simply labeled it a legitimate donation from “their concern" to an individual's campaign fund. Many men began early to collect the so-called campaign donations, supposedly, to cover the next election's expenses. Actually, neither the lobbyists nor their owners, gave a hoot whether or not you were ever re-elected. They only wanted your favorable attention for their moments, for as long as you lasted and were for sale. Whether their donations were legal or not, in taking it you became a Marked Man.
I'll relate a specific incident: The lobbyist took me into an empty room and laid out five $100 bills. Straight to the point, he said, "Here Senator—you know what this is for—and you know what we expect." I told him, that he knew that I hadn't formed any particular feelings against the bill he referred to; but, I hadn't given it full thought yet either. I said I was sorry, but I would not accept the money. He asked, "Well why not? You know it's only for your campaign fund." I replied: "I wont take it because you know as well as I that it wouldn't be long before “everyone” knew I took it. Regardless of it labeled a campaign donation, everyone would know that I took it from a group specifically lobbying for the passage of a bill that would be to their definite advantage, and I'm not going to take it. He then said, "No one will ever know: not one person." I said, "Not one person?" He promised, "Not one person will ever know, except me and the person who gave me the money to give to you." "Well, maybe that's true and maybe it isn't; I don't know." And I added, "I don't know how you can keep those things from getting out." "Well, believe me, there wouldn't be anyone else who'd know," he reassured me. I did not take the money.
That very afternoon, Senate President, Carpenter, sent word he wanted to see me in his office. When I entered he said: "Sit down there Darvil, I want to talk to you. You shouldn't be afraid to take a little money now and then, as long as it's not some huge amount that would appear a campaign fund contribution out of the ordinary. I looked at him soberly and said, "I'm not afraid to." "Well, why wouldn't you take it from the man this morning." He asked. I said, "How did you know some one offered me some money?" "He hummed-n-hawed out a, "Well, I just know some things." I said: "Listen, that's exactly why I didn't take it because I was told “nobody” not even another senator would ever know I had taken money, and now you know of the offer, and heaven only knows how many others know of it too." Lacking any adequate explanation, he said, "Well, I can't quite explain that." I had clearly made my point, and I left him to ponder his own character. Jim Smith, a true friend, together with much other excellent advice, had warned me that no matter how broke I might be, "Never take any of their money!"
Another common ploy used often by the lobbyists to influence us, consisted of gifts in various forms. For instance, if one "happened" to see you at a restaurant, he might sit a while with you, or without ever taking a seat, abruptly inform the passing waiter that he would pay the bill.
Gifts from the liquor lobbyists usually were contained in bottles. Few of them ever knew my feelings about liquor. So thinking to influence me, bottles of the hard stuff commonly found their way into my car. (We parked in an exclusive lot for legislators, in a personally designated space. A guard protected the lot, so we hardly ever locked our cars.) Quite often I'd find a bottle or two or even a half-case. I never warned away any of the lobbyists from that act because most of my senator friends sought after me for what they knew I had no use for. Right or wrong, it came in handy to curry legitimate favors from them.
The session closed on a sour note. The State Liquor Control Law was in bad shape. Everybody agreed that a complete revision was necessary. The Senate sent the House a pretty good bill but they couldn’t agree on its terms. The House sent us a narcotics bill that we turned down. The Governor threatened a special session if we didn’t do something, so we adjourned and let him call us back. With my habit of lampooning associates with doggerel (that is sometimes referred to as poetry) I prepared this for the opening of the special session.
(Read the liquor poem “In Just for Fun” on page 160.)
We did come up with some pretty good legislation to properly control narcotics and liquor. I had only one main protest about the liquor bill: it was too loose. It threw the doors wide open to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Every hotel, motel and restaurant could obtain a license by not much more than applying for and paying a fee. It was based on the completely new philosophy that liquor was a legitimate business and should be subject to the same hazards of competition as groceries or haberdashery. There would be no limit to the number of licenses issued. In my objections to this I predicted that the day would come when the liquor people themselves would ask for curbs on the kind of traffic such freedom would produce. Probably the greatest thing the new legislation accomplished was to put an end to the traffic in the sale and rental of the license itself. Our law had required that the yearly increase in the number of licensees could not exceed a certain percent. This placed a premium on existing licenses. Some were known to have sold for as high as $50,000 while most were leased out at incredible figures. Under the new code a license could not be transferred except in connection with the legitimate sale of a business, and if it was not used by the owner it automatically expired. He could not sell it.
The second regular session of the 25th Legislature began with very little improvement in my position, as far as committee assignments were concerned. The President did condescend to give me the chairmanship of Constitutional Amendments and Referendums. The importance of any committee is measured by the number of bills referred to it during the session. If recollection is right, my committee handled seven bills that year. Those were taken care of in three meetings.
But, “the wheels of destiny” were turning. The mining interests of the State had for many years kept the upper hand in State politics, but were about to let the advantage slip from their grasp. The giant was writhing in fear of advancing change. Two Phelps Dodge men in the House had recently been relegated to minority positions after enjoying leadership for years. Gale, of Greenlee County in the Senate held no influential assignments with their colleagues; with Sims, only slightly better off. Mickelson had been a Phelps Dodge man since his election in 1958, and he was ambitious. Rumor had it that he had had his eye on the Chair for some time. From this quarter, egged on by the members of the minority bloc, there began to be heard rumblings of discontent with the leadership of the Senate. As the days of my second session lengthened into weeks, the rumblings became audible threats and boasts to the effect that enough strength had been mustered to unseat Carpenter. This, of course, according to the rules, could be done any time with 15 votes.
It became apparent that these rumblings and boasts were no more nor less than part of the agonizings of the giant. The alarmed mining interests had said to their Senators, “Improve your positions or lose our support in next year’s elections.” So the decision was made to attempt reorganization.
“Don’t count on me,” I told them when offered a choice chairmanship. “A promise made is a debt unpaid. I’ll have to stick with Carp for the remainder of the session.”
“We have 16 without you,” they said. “You’re a good guy, and we wanted to include you if you were interested.”
Well, I supposed they believed they had 16. I only knew of the four republicans: Stieger, Mecham, Anderson and Tenny; three democratic minorities: Kitchel, Knoll and Huso; and the four majority discontents: Sims, Gale, Thompson and Mickelson, who were the leaders of the pack. Whoever the others were they proved to be limber-legged when the chips were down.
The “coup detat” never came off. Anticipating the maneuver, Carpenter and his cohorts moved quickly to protect an exposed flank. They surprised us all by announcing completely new assignments. I sat amazed and stunned as the lists were read, for in a matter of minutes I found myself elevated from a position of mediocrity to one of prominence, as far as committee assignments were concerned. This crackdown was Carpenter’s way of saying, “Et tu brute” to the malcontents he had befriended and trusted.
With this more than drastic move, three majority members: Thompson, Mickelson and Simms lost every decent assignment they had, with most of Mickelson’s being handed to me. Republicans: Stieger and Mecham also slipped a few notches down the political totem pole. Dave Palmer and I apparently gained the most as the following news item indicates.
Use article # 4 on “crackdown”
Here is how I came out committee-wise: I list them in what I consider to be their order of importance. Appropriations: a must for consideration priority money control. Judiciary: This put me in the company of judges, counselors and the Governor’s office. Finance and Revenue: A good follow-up on Appropriations. It let me help distribute appropriated moneys. State Institutions: of Higher learning, Hospitals, Prisons, etc.. Rules: This gave me membership in the majority bloc where all bills were finalized and the decision made on each as to whether it would be permitted to reach the floor for final vote of the whole membership or if it should be shelved. Here a senator had the opportunity to make a final plea for his favorite bills. The President of the Senate sat as chairman, and here, about anything was allowed in argument. A good session of threats and name calling proved no exception to the rule.
Although the chastisement engendered much bitterness, the five demoted Senators took it in stride. Thompson, Mickelson and Simms were able to joke about it to the extent that they dubbed themselves Faith, Hope and Charity. They designed a miniature coffin and attached a marker to it with the epitaph, “HERE LIES FAITH HOPE AND CHARITY—GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.” I entered into the fun and wrote the following verse for the occasion.
Read the poem, “Jerked the Rug”, on page 146.)
Although I had never been one to receive much satisfaction from the discomfort of others, even though their losses were my gain, the “rug jerking” did catapult me into an envious position, especially for a freshman Senator. In a quick conversation with Mickelson that same morning I told him that I was depressed over the whole affair and would gladly refuse some of my new assignments if he felt I should in order to help his plight. His answer was to this affect, “Hell no! You’re crazy if you don’t take everything they offer you. They wouldn’t give it to me anyway.”
I am certain he was correct on that point. The conditions were reversed, and from here on out, as long as Carpenter was able to keep the chair I would be playing the trump cards from and for Graham County. This would include all communications from the President’s office, the Floor Leader’s office, the Governor’s office, most state agencies and institutions and federal communications pertaining to our county. All this would be channeled through me. Of course this became an incessant aggravation to John. Nothing angered him more than to submit to receiving messages or favors through me. The inability to accept the absolute terms of the demotion and relegation to a minority status, where his every effort to advance was thwarted, proved the one impassable blockade between him and me to cooperate for the good of our county.
With the increase of assignments came an increased workload and responsibility. This I welcomed, for my legislative activity before had been too slow for my inspired metabolism. Time had hung heavy on my hands. And too, to become a part of the inner circle where the energy is generated from the heartbeat of a great State (For I soon learned that Arizona is just that.) gave me a feeling of purpose and direction, an attitude that is necessary before one gains a feeling of complete satisfaction with a job. As a member of the Rules committee, for instance, where the rules are made and policy is set, and the Appropriations Committee that controls the purse strings, I was able to feel the pulse and have a hand in the regulation of the “deep heartbeat.” That is real satisfaction.
In one of these rules sessions I dearly learned that veteran Senator Giss of Yuma was too much for me. Being the Majority Whip, his influence was widespread, his power, legend. For two years I had worked on a bill referred to as ADM, meaning Average Daily Membership. For years the public schools had been receiving State, county and local appropriations based on “Average” Daily Attendance.
Read news article on ADM, [# 7], 3 pages, and the letter. Also read [# 8], 3 pages and [# 9])
My purpose for introducing the bill was based on the premise that a child missing a day or two of school made no difference whatsoever on the district’s operating cost. The same number of administrators, teachers and other employees would still be drawing salaries. The temperature control cost would remain the same. Every school administrator in the state hoped for the bill’s success.
I never really knew why Giss opposed the bill. Perhaps because I had not asked him to be a cosigner, which would advertise “his stamp” of approval. He did express a lame reason: Principals and teachers would not insist on regular attendance if they knew it made no financial difference in what the district would receive. I allowed to him that I wouldn’t want the school people of the State to know that was the kind of trust I had in them to properly handle the education of our kids.
After the end of my presentation in the Rules Caucus where I finally conceded defeat, I asked President Carpenter if I could have the floor before we adjourned to prove Senator Giss a liar. Carp hesitated for a second, then said, “The purpose is questionable, but the floor is yours:” I then addressed Senator Fred Udine of Coconino County, “Senator Udine, do you remember some two weeks ago when Senator Giss stood at attention with his right arm at the square and said these words that you and I both plainly heard, ‘Senator McBride, I swear that if you and I can agree on this bill (one of his favorites) I will help you get ADM out of Rules.’” Udine didn’t hesitate. He told the committee he was there and had heard the promise. I thanked him and then the chairman. He gaveled the desk and the committee adjourned. In the hall as we walked back to chambers, several old timers slapped me on the back commenting that it had been a long time since someone had bearded the Yuma County Lion.
My stand and challenge to Giss in the rules caucus (I like to believe) must have had some effect, for the following year the majority leader was nice as pie about the idea and supported the bill from the start. It cleared all committees including Rules with no hitches, and on March 15, the Senate passed it with a vote of 18 to 10. The House version was voted down a few days later by the Education Committee with the excuse that it carried no means of financial support, which otherwise may cause a minuscule increase in State tax burden. Reports received indicated that it would be brought up again if the tobacco tax increase won approval. The tobacco bill didn’t carry so the support of a dirty habit sounded the death knell for ADM for a while. However, I did receive some satisfaction regarding the hard work I had done on it, for it did pass in 1969. A wrong had finally been righted.
Aside from the increased work load, that year remained uneventful, and before we knew it the session ended. I leaned back to relax, for I believed my first term finished. But I soon discovered that such was not so, for the people at home gave me little time to relax. Unlike the previous year, upon returning home from the capitol city, I found that since my escalation in the Senate, I now became the target for all kinds of gripes, problems and requests. Everyone who needed a job reasoned that I was the man to see. County and city problems became mine to help solve. Requests for public appearances increased considerably, plus several meetings of importance pertaining to State affairs that should be attended.
There are many ways as a Senator that I could personally help members of my county constituency such as: help obtain plumbing, electrical and other licenses issued by the State, or secure jobs within the State or County administered by the State. I was able to obtain a State position for one individual that he kept for thirty years. Also, through Morris Udall, (Mo) I was able to put a worthy friend in the local post office as postmaster, which appointment he retained until retirement age. One situation, however, I avoided if at all possible. It dealt with helping obtain liquor licensees for the County businessmen. To each who came petitioning I explained: Yes, I could help, but suggested that they contact my colleague who would help them. It seemed to me though, who’s to really know, that he had no compunctions about it as I did, so it worked out well for both of us.
Although a legislator receives pay for only those days the legislature is in session, I welcomed these duties, for which I did receive travel and lodging allowance. It’s a strange thing in that work, even though the time spent may only be listening to an unfounded gripe it is always a boost to a man’s ego to have even the humblest of citizens feel you may be a help with their problem; and if by chance you can lend assistance the gestures of appreciation, though sometimes feeble, they are generally payment enough indeed.
To attempt to tell of all my experiences in the Senate would take volumes, and of course, much of it would be redundant. I was not known as one of those several legislators dubbed “hopper hounds” because of the many bills each session they dropped into the “hopper,” the name given to the big basket that became the starting point for the bill; here it began the process of being put into the required form before being assigned to a committee for consideration. Bill assignment to committees was done according to subject matter, each bill being assigned to at least three and occasionally as many as five. The so called hopper hounds seemed to give no thought about the State’s cost to process a bill. The price to get one into committee ran into hundreds and sometime thousands of dollars back then. One can only imagine the escalated price tag a bill carries these days. Telling of my experience with Senator Giss I got a bit ahead of myself. The first bill I introduced, of which I’m very proud, was a bill that would allow counties to establish local museums through a small yearly appropriation from the State.
While principal of the Thatcher Elementary School, I became very interested in numerous artifacts that Ruby Brimhall’s sixth grade students brought to class in support of a “Save the Past” project. She told me that many of the artifacts brought for display were disappearing at an alarming rate; many valuable things pertaining to our heritage were being lost through neglect because we had no special place to store and display them. It came to me that something must be done to preserve such important items of the past. To do just that became my first intention upon entering the Legislature.
The passing of this bill demonstrates the power of the Appropriations Committee and the importance of being a member of it. The hard fact is a bill may pass, but appropriations, in their budget trimming, may not allow the money to be distributed. For a short time this was the case with the museum bill. Being present where I could fight for it I was able to settle for a beginning amount of $1,500 for the first year. The following year we were able to double that amount. That it is considerably more now I have no doubt. From an unconfirmed source I have learned that museums have been established in nearly every county in the State.
Though I didn’t introduce many bills myself I soon was in demand as a co-sponsor. Being new and fresh to that political body, I had not yet had time to make the political enemies one is sure to gather in politics. I strove mightily to retain my friendships so that even to the end, my name appeared on my share of the bills passed each year.
In 1962, September came early. Long before ready for it, election time was upon us again. The ordeal of campaigning is the real bugaboo of most politicians. It isn’t that you must face the people and lay open your record of past performance, for I have never been ashamed of mine, but more that you find yourself in a position of asking for a favor. Also, there is the August campaigning that must be done, and in Arizona that month isn’t conducive to door to door work. However, this time I forewent this task. The reason of course: I did not feel it necessary in order to win re-election. There were two reasons why I felt this way. First, I had picked myself a number-one campaign manager who did yeoman work: Matt Gibson, a high school teacher in Safford. Second, I knew the opponent challenging Mickelson and me did not have the necessary confidence of the voters. Consequently I spent most of my time writing to key people, that is, keeping my fences mended and tending to State business. In one respect I paid for this tack in that I out-did Mickelson by only 72 votes, but this I expected. He and I both beat Johnny Johnson by nearly 600. Again we had no general election opposition.
Now to a matter that bothered me for a long time. I think I have finally figured out why Senator Giss changed his attitude toward me and ADM. Since the beginning, the powerful Floor Leader and I had had several difficulties pertaining to legislation of some importance. Most of these disagreements stemmed from legislation that related directly or indirectly to the large special interests of the State. For instance, he always opposed anything in the way of school legislation because it meant more taxes for the giant corporations, so I was off their list. I remained valuable to them for only one reason, and that was numbers. For one to retain the Chair, it’s necessary to have the confidence and support of a majority of the Senate members.
Not necessarily to justify my membership in the majority bloc, for I have no apologies for continuing there, but rather to demonstrate industry’s opposition to school tax relief, I add remarks about the ADM bill that I introduced again in January of 1963. The opposition was instantaneous and interesting. Senators from every mining area of the State opposed it. With help from the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, I prepared figures showing what the change from ADA to ADM would mean to the different school districts of Yuma County. These I forwarded to every business man in Giss’ county. I later made a trip to Yuma County where I contacted a few key people and received promises that they would speak to their illustrious Senator in an insistent manner.
The school people raised such a clamor for Average Daily Membership that Giss himself went directly to the utilities for their support of it. When they gave it, and I knew through my northern friend that they had, it seemed a certainty that the battle was won in the Senate. A few days after I had received this encouraging word, the Yuma Senator came to me to assure me that he had decided to support the controversial measure. Thereafter the bill was “greased” so that it slipped through all here-to-fore hostile committees without a hitch, and before I realized it the measure went to the House. The bill cleared three committees in the House but failed in one. Sonny Biles, a Tucson man of Greenlee County and a close friend of Senator Mickelson, was Chairman of the Education Committee, and he harbored grudges over our differences about Fort Grant. So ADM met its demise for personal, political reasons. Even so this turned out to be a signal of victory for me. To many, I had accomplished the near impossible just getting it out of the Senate. Thereafter I became the anchor man on school legislation in the Senate.
The 1964 campaign had begun, and my colleague and I, for the first time, had to face a republican opponent. Seth Mattice and his whole family had been democrats for years, his father, Warner, had been elected several times by the democrats. To have them all switch to republicans before the fall election, made for an interesting contest indeed. Without exposing the many interesting aspects of this election I will make only one observation concerning the “switchers.” The John Birchers really gave us a time. This time I out-stripped Mickelson by a good sound margin, Mickelson capped Mattice by some 800 votes, and I tripled the republican’s score. It was interesting to note how our opponent and their party rationalized their defeat. “Of course,” they said, “You just can’t beat that fanatical, straight, democratic vote.” The truth of the matter is that just the opposite was true. The final canvas showed that only 25% of the democrats voted a straight ticket, while 51% of the republicans marked the “one big cross.” In the Bylas precinct, where Mattice claimed to have lost the election because of the straight vote, the straight, democratic vote was 80%, compared to 125% republican straights. This figure was possible only because all republicans registered in the precinct and some democrats voted straight republican tickets.
Mickelson and I had a couple of strikes against us in that election. It came about because of the opposition’s cunning to capitalize upon the unfavorable publicity we had received because of the impeachment trial of the summer of 1964, of which I will speak later. Though the public had been made to believe the defendants were guilty, the trial proved they were not, and we both had to vote with integrity. We received much criticism for voting for acquittal, but preserved conscience.
I could bother the reader with details of other elections but since they were all about the same, I see no purpose. However, the 1966 election might be of some interest. Since John and I had no opposition in the primary, Glenn Hoopes, as a feeler, I’m sure, started the rumor that he would run as a write-in candidate in the general election. Of course, this put a little scare into me and some of my friends. But Jim Smith just laughed and said: “Don’t worry about it; I don’t think he’d have a chance. He might possibly beat Mickelson, but he can’t beat you. Besides, from the talk I hear going around he won’t even try.”
Jim was right. I guess Hoopes’ “feeler” wasn’t strong enough for him to dare the attempt. Even so, I was some what relieved when he told friends he was too busy with his business.
Following a hunch that seemed to have come out of nowhere, I began research to determine which insurance companies carried the policies on the State-owned buildings and other properties. I hardly expected that it would usher me into immediate conflict with a wily, powerful, old sage of the Senate. But, happen it did, and with interesting affects.
Lo and behold, I uncovered documents showing that a man elected to an office of public trust, an insurance man by profession; yes, a member of the Senate, held policies through his agency on an amazingly excessive number of the State-owned properties. Simple sniffing detected the foul stench of a gross "conflict of interest" by one who occupied a very elevated and influential position. No one, not even the terrible giant Goliath would give me second thoughts about what my next step should be.
I submitted the key information and instructions to the Drafting Department to draft a bill to correct the present wrongs and prohibit such future abuse of trust. Now, you can imagine that the long-time, experienced and clever Senators would have their informers in a key department like that. They would be keeping track knowing of everything of consequence, especially if it threatened them.
Even before the bill could be half prepared, much less presented, a message reached me summoning me to visit with the ominous solon: "Now Darvil, you didn't need to go about things in this way. All you needed to do was come to me, and we could have talked it all out, and we'd be able to work out something." I responded: "I figured by starting the process of drafting the bill would be the best way to get your attention. Then we could begin to work it out." "No," he said: "That's not the kind of relationship you and I should have. You come to me first about such things."
Although a Senator should normally try to maintain a proper degree of independence, what he said was true in some ways, for there are those you are dependent upon to accomplish your work. Sadly but true, a statesman has to play politics as though he were a live piece in a giant, complicated, give-and-take, strategic game of chess—or war.
As I listened, the man willingly volunteered to give up some of his questionable business interests and said: If you think it correct to do so, and if you will not advertise the problem as it presently exists, all will be straightened out. He let me know though, that he, though unable to prohibit the bill's introduction, could prevent it from ever passing. But he quickly added, that it would definitely cause a lot of unnecessary trouble and headaches for many people, and that didn't need to happen, because, it could be worked out other ways.
I agreed to work it out with him without introducing a bill as he suggested, and true to his word, he divested himself of a great number of policies he had been profiteering from. And though he probably didn't divest himself of quite enough of them at that time, I had forced the Giant—the Senate President—into a re-distribution of his considerable cornered business, more equitably among the eligible insurance companies of the State. Could I believe that he may have trembled at the thought of the poet's threatening rhyme and rhythm? The affect upon the President from the spunk and fearlessness of a junior Senator surprised me. Not weakened, but to the contrary, our relationship strengthened considerably. Thereafter, he considered me in a new light: definitely, more than before, worthy of consideration and special attention. He and I would always continue to have an excellent working relationship through the rest of the Senate experience.
In my fourth year I introduced Senate Bill 93, legislation that would make Cluff’s Ranch, 187 acres of federal land, just south of Pima, a State park. Those aquatinted with its perfectly suited park situation,
immediately offered support. Pima folks were especially enthused. It had been their picnic, camping, recreation and fishing area for years. It had the water, the grass, the trees, the hills, about anything one would desire for an Eden oasis in the desert. No state organizations, institutions or even the Cattleman’s Association had any objections about that section of land being used for such a benign yet altruistic purpose. I had been working closely with the Pima Mayor, and Bulan Weech, President of the new Pima Museum, and when we thought we had it pretty well wrapped up, a bombshell of information came out of Washington: The Federal Government held certain peculiar rights to the land. That squashed the project. I sincerely hope that over the years something has been done to preserve the beauty of that choice real estate.
Remembering my promise to work for school improvements, I dropped in the “hopper,” Resolution # 48. It spelled trouble from the start. Trouble because it lightly stepped on the toes of the powerful Cattleman’s Association. I had talked to Ted Lee, President of the bunch. About all he said was, will you come and explain it to us sometime when we are meeting somewhere here in the Phoenix area? I told him I would be glad to, just give me a few days notice.
The bill would increase the number of sections of state land that would share their USE income with public schools. Actuarially I could not see where the bill would effect the cattlemen in any way. Sure, they paid for its use, but for that revenue to start going to another source should make no difference to ranchers. I soon found out however that Lee was against being disturbed from the present comfortable routine of affairs with the State. One day, in the middle of my busy time, he called to announce that a meeting would start in two hours. Could I come and defend my bill? I was caught completely unprepared, and I think such was Ted’s strategy—get me there when I would do my worst. But I went and did with the cattlemen about what he had hoped for. How plain “no support” appeared on their faces long before I finished. A week or so later, President Carpenter called me to his office to tell me that he and Senator Giss had received several phone calls about the resolution, that at least one caller said there would be a state-wide effort against it by the cattlemen if it ever survived committee. Carp assured me that it made no difference to him if the bill came out, but wanted me to know what I was up against. Well, I didn’t withdraw the bill, but the Land Management Committee, of which I once was a member, shelved it. A lot of cooperation and compromise is required in legislation, but you never do away with politics.
The introduction of one little, simple bill caused me to have words with Governor Goddard. Several years before, a bill passed that allowed the state to pay a bounty of $75 on mountain lions. For some reason or other appropriations for it were stopped, and nine successful hunters had not yet been paid. One of Moroni Larson’s sons was in this disappointed group.
Though the cost to process a new bill to force the State to meet its obligation to the citizens would cost more than money owed to the hunters, I introduced the bill anyway. In my mind it seemed important that the State meet its obligation, whatever the cost. We do not want to be known as “welchers.” It passed with ease. But imagine my surprise to see it listed with a dozen or so, of what the Governor called “petty bills,” that he had just vetoed.
I wasted no time getting to the Governor’s office in hopes the veto could be stopped, because I knew it would be introduced again at the same cost to the State, certainly a waste of tax payers money. Well, it was too late, but it gave me the opportunity to point out to the Governor how stupid he had been. He admitted the mistake, claiming he had received the wrong information, and he apologized profusely. He asked me to not introduce another bill until I heard from him, that he might be able to find another source of money to pay off the hunters. He kept his promise.
My next run-in with the Governor came about a year later. For two years I had worked on a bill to make the State more responsible for school costs. Until then their share of the Average Daily Attendance requirement was about all the state contributed. As a result, the rich counties that sported considerable industry such as mines, lumber, long railroads, etc. had no problem raising money for their schools, while for counties such as my own, it became a sore burden. Equalization became the cry for many of us. Senate Bill # 1 became a must. The fly in the ointment that exposed the opposition was the plain fact that such legislation would require wealthy counties to help poor counties with school costs. This is why it took two years to get #1 passed. I felt quite sure of my bill’s passage this time, for it was introduced with the blessing of the Education Committee, of which I was Vice-Chairman. All the remaining members of the committee signed it as cosponsors, the kind of sponsorship that gives a worthy bill strength and wallop. I spent many, many, many, grueling hours, helping to put it in shape and bring it in line with the thinking of house members, the hardest job and most time spent in my Senate experience. The hours spent in conference meetings with House Members were killers. They lasted nearly three weeks.
The day the pleased Governor was ready to sign the bill we all met in his office, gathered around his desk to watch the signing while the press took our pictures, then quickly interviewed some of us. The Governor used ten pens to sign the bill, one of which I still have in a special corner of my desk.
The signing made headlines in the Arizona Republic. But ZOUNDS!! The wrong picture was there! The paper had chosen to print another one they had also taken that same day, but it showed the Governor signing the bill while only two men looked on. These were two men from the State Education Association who had been assigned to be available to the committee as we worked on the bill to help us in case of legal questions that might arise. They were conveniently stationed just outside the conference room door and took no part in discussions or final decisions; they appeared before us only to answer questions.
Flabbergasted and highly incensed I went immediately to a private room and dictated a letter to the Governor. My secretary typed it up in a hurry, and I sent a page scurrying to his office with the stinging message. I knew I was playing with fire and maybe political disaster. The letter not only expressed my feelings but also warned His Excellency that it would be made public in that day’s Senate proceedings as soon as I could arrange for “personal privilege remarks” from the floor. Well, the fire part of it worked. In fifteen minutes a note came from the Governor saying something like this: “Please forgive. I can explain. Do not publicize the letter. Things will be immediately rectified.” The next morning the right picture appeared with an explanation that sounded phony to me. Never sure of who to blame, the Governor or the press, he tried to make amends in several ways, for we had been good friends. Two days after the unfortunate affair I received word from his office to come at my convenience that day, and, would I bring the pen he had given me after signing the bill. Upon arrival a photographer was quickly rounded up. A nice picture was taken of the two of us, he handing me the signature pen. I think I was the only one of the committee that this happened to, but am not sure. None of the others ever said anything about it happening to them, and I never told anyone. About a week later, an eight-by-ten, high-gloss photo arrived in the mail.
One interesting sidelight about the School Equalization Bill: For several years Graham County legislators had been asking the State for a building to replace that old “eye sore” of a shack being used in San Jose for the Agricultural Inspection Station. During a former session my bill for that purpose was shelved by Agriculture. I had promised William R. Ridgway and W. T. Mendenhall, the State Entomologist, that I would make every effort to secure an appropriation to build a modern facility. When the Equalization Bill came along (which I knew would pass that year) as a member of the sponsoring committee, I saw my opportunity. I managed to attach to it the request for a $50.000 appropriation to build the “BUG” Station. If the education bill passed, so would the appropriation. This marked the first and only time I had to resort to such sly tactics to obtain what should be.
Several times, those of us who cared had to go to bat for Steve Vukcevich to help him maintain the Boys Industrial School at Fort Grant. About the time I entered the Legislature, Pima County began a determined effort to have the institution moved to new facilities to be located, in their county, near Tucson. By 1967, the competition for the school’s location reached fever pitch. Over the years I had taken every opportunity to defend keeping Graham County’s only State Institution and felt that taking it away was next to robbery, which loss, the County didn’t deserve, especially since from the beginning of the Vukcevich administration great improvements had been made, and it became a school instead of a prison. Until that session we three Graham County men had been able to beat down anything the numerous Pima County Legislators had proposed for their heavily populated county. Of late, they had managed to get the backing of the Tucson news papers and things began coming to a head. The Evening American, a Phoenix paper published by Evan Mecham, with whom I had served my first term, came out with a blistering five-article series, claiming it wanted to tell the people the truth about Fort Grant, moreover, condemning my efforts to keep the school in Graham County.
Incensed and disgusted with their unfair criticism, after waiting until the completion of the series, I sat down and wrote a reply that I hoped would put an end to the lies that had been circulating for some time. I asked for “personal privilege” to read it from the Senate floor during regular session.
Well accepted by the public and the legislature, the speech did seem to quiet the storm. Anyway, the members got the message, for Pima County’s legislation failed again that year. A few days later I received a letter from Superintendent Steve Vukcevich.
Use [12A] letter on page?
Statements made in one of the five articles about housing and the need for a hospital, prompted me to introduce an additional outlay bill for the Industrial School totaling $463,432 for new construction, which included funds for a 25-bed health center and another $180,000 for additional staff housing. It happened to become the last bill considered before adjournment of the 28th Legislature. It had passed the Senate more than a week prior. It now floundered in the House where the chairman refused to bring it up for consideration. Obvious to all, the barricade against the bill proved to be nothing more than that the Chairman of the committee hailed from Pima County. I was able to secure the Senate President’s promise that the Senate would not agree to adjourn (Both chambers, in agreement, had to decide the day of adjournment.) until the House Committee brought up my bill for a vote. I held my breath. If it cleared it would be brought immediately to the floor of each body, and adjournment could follow whether passed or not. Being a stubborn cuss, believing I was truly in the right, I determined to hold out to the end. The stubborn streak caused adjournment to be delayed three days while anxious but loyal members served without pay and the President and the Majority Bloc stayed with me, while the Minority and the House chaffed under the three “nothing-to-do” days. I learned later from my colleague in the house, Gordon Hoopes, that committee members were harassed by phone calls from all over the State by those wanting to influence a member’s vote, either for or against. I appreciated those encouraging and complementing me from Graham County until “the telegram” arrived. It came from LaVar Reed in Safford, Chairman of the State Board of Juveniles. After a word of thanks it read: “Give it up for now. We’ll work on it for the next year. Promise to give you more help.” But for that telegram, that committee might still be in session yet.
At the end of the 1964 session I was privileged to experience a very rare occurrence in politics, an impeachment trial. As required by law the house brought malfeasance charges against two officers of the State Corporation Commission, E T. Williams Jr. and A. P. Buzard, only the second such case in Arizona history. Impeachment proceedings are instituted by the House but heard by the Senate, the members sitting as judges under the jurisdiction and guidance of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which at the time was Jesse A. Udall, a fine member of the church and long-time friend.
The Resolution for Impeachment came from investigations made by certain boards concerning the actions of the office holders. It charged that the two men allegedly had engaged in criminal activity, had misused authority, and that the Commission’s service to the State would be highly improved by their removal. Of course, the House had its attorneys and the Commissioners had theirs.
To stage a proceeding of such magnitude, that had had very little precedent to use as guidance and still stay within the requirements of the law—proved to be a big headache procedure, a real problem. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I was appointed to head a three-man subcommittee to search the old record of the 1933 impeachment hearing. I remember that we did discover one thing that halted the heated argument about when the trial should start. We found it very clearly stated that the proceedings must start within ten days after closing of the legislative session. Also, other subcommittees were appointed to explore for additional information. Several opinions rendered by the Attorney General helped solve some questions of procedure.
We had no idea how long the trial might last, but money had to be appropriated. Funds had to be available to pay the Senators while they sat as the impeachment jury, and necessary employees, and to meet the attorney’s fees. Senator Giss suggested that the Senators draw $50 a day which got general approval. Since such would need the approval of both chambers through a special bill, the House put the nix on it, and we were forced to settle for our regular pay of $30. I’m sure if the House members had been meeting as jurors with us, a larger, and a more appropriate amount would have been allowed. Anyway, we finally agreed that it would be expedient to set aside $500,000 with the stipulation that any remaining funds would revert to the General Fund of the State. The House went along with it.
I make this brief statement of Arizona’s impeachment trial because of it’s a rarity, to get it on the record, and to boast about the fact that I one time took part in such an affair. Not many have had such an unusual experience. The details can easily be found in the records, (you can borrow mine) but suffice it to say: the commissioners were acquitted. The House attorneys were unable to come up with any documented evidence of misdemeanor and fraud. Having been leaning the other way because of gossip and public accusations I had heard, I was happy that I could vote for acquittal. To sit as judges and jury on two men whose careers hung in the balance of justice is no small responsibility. I felt strongly that a correct decision must be made. Justice Udall kept reminding us that we were not only a jury but also judges with privileges beyond a regular jury on a criminal case. We were encouraged to participate in the trial by asking questions, even of the defendants, and to clear up questions about anything that we didn’t fully understand that would help us make the right decision. He referred to himself, not as a judge but as Chairman of the Court. Later, I talked with the Chief Justice about what he thought of the proceedings. He said the court voted the same way he would have done if he had been the judge of decision.
One thing the impeachment trial did was to bring into focus writings of several members of the press, mostly from the staff of the Arizona Republic. They had led the vendetta against the harassed commissioners. One, Don Bolles, was notorious for his dirt-peddling for that paper, (which tactics later cost him his life) he remembered to write everything, plus things beyond memory, but could remember nothing at the impeachment trial. To make his stories sensational he often stretched the truth. As a defense witness he said, “I don’t remember” so many times he began to sound like a parrot who was proud of the one phrase he had learned. Because of his flagrant avoidance of the truth I couldn’t resist the following. For very obvious reasons it didn’t make the papers, but it was well circulated in both chambers of the Legislature.
At one time I was Chairman of Military Affairs, which put me in close touch with the Office of Civil Defense. Since the wars were over, most senators saw no reason for the State to still give support to that federal department, rumor having it, to soon be disbanded. Their budget was constantly being turned down by the Appropriations Committee. As a result, I was the only lawmaker who visited their facilities and listened to their needs, or tried to help them in their appeals to the legislature for financial support.
Abandonment finally came in 1964 or 65. The facility had been well supplied and equipped. I guess their officers, with whom I had become personally acquainted appreciated my sympathetic attitude toward them and their problems. Tons of equipment and supplies had to be dispersed. Thousands of pounds of food and water had been stored for years in the basements of banks, State and Federal buildings and many large business basements around the State. I was the first to know that many of the sealed cans of food and water, including the sophisticated radio and communications equipment would be given away. I immediately contacted Verl Lines, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Graham, and also Harold Gietz. Their response to my question was a resounding , “Yes!” The county could use some of the things going on the block. (Free block, that is.) The next day Gietz called me to ask if they dared ask for something as large and expensive as a jeep. I told them , “Heavens yes.” I was able to get them two jeeps and a transport wagon, several pieces of short wave radio communications equipment that the sheriffs’ office had been needing for a couple of years but hadn't yet been able to buy, a couple of tons of GI hard tack biscuits and hard candy all sealed up in five-gallon cans, a few portable chemical toilets, emergency cooking equipment and several other things now forgotten. Willy
Hinton, a member of the board at the time was ecstatic. He slapped me on the back and said, “You can rest assured that you won’t have any problem getting votes out of Fort Thomas and the reservation next election.”
Things like this gave me the most satisfaction, in the position, and helped me to learn that the opportunities the job provided, to lend a helping hand and extend a worthy favor could be as awarding as what I might accomplish from a big, easy chair behind a large desk with my name on it.
I had been in the senate only a few weeks when President Carpenter asked me if I would be chairman of an unofficial position that meant some extra work but would in no way increase my pay one iota—Chairman of State Programs. My job would be to prepare and emcee all programs of entertainment that the leadership might wish to put on to honor and celebrate official (and unofficial) events.
My secretary, Kris Kristofferson, Rene Richardson’s youngest sister, happened to be an accomplished artist and decorator. She always came up with catchy and proper decorations for each occasion. On Statehood Day, February 14 in 1962, (my first term), and since it was Valentine’s Day also, she had huge handmade valentines all across the chamber on the picket work in front of the rostrum. Through the help of one lady employee in the president’s office who was connected with the Miss Arizona Project, we were able to have Miss Arizona, Susan Berstrom, and Delores Castro, Miss Indian Arizona as our guests.
The Arizona State University Concert Choir came in mass to entertain us with patriotic songs, including “Arizona” the state song. Senator Ahee spoke briefly on early Arizona. Then we heard briefly from the two beauty queens.
Because of a suggestion made a few weeks earlier by President Carpenter, I had just finished writing my Arizona poem, “From the Top of Arizona.” He thought it would be fitting for this particular Statehood Day. I had a few qualms about reading it because I was emceeing the program. But the gallery would be full of guests, many of the State, county and city officials, there for this special occasion, the fiftieth anniversary of the State, so I decided it would be OK. This poem turned out to be one of my big surprises. Supply made fifty copies, 28 for the Senators if they wanted one. The next week Martha told me she had done 50 more because many members of the House wanted copies and letters, and phone calls had come in asking for copies. Senator Udine grinned and remarked, “The newspapers missed a bet when they didn’t print that one.” I couldn’t believe it. Even President Paul Guitteau (my old nemesis from the college) wrote me a personal letter requesting an autographed copy. I know that Martha did at least two more printings. The poem is really low quality. I knew that before I read it that day, and I knew it still needed much work, but I hoped to be able to camouflage it by slurring in the right places.
Again in 1964 on Admissions Day, the decorations were hauled out and a program prepared for the visit of none other than Miss America herself, Vonda Kay Vandyke, an Arizona product, and her dummy, Kurley. With her talent as a ventriloquist, she and Kurley entertained us in high and hilarious style. To help her get off some good lampoon jokes and quips about the senators, I had prepared some lines, mostly questions about the Senate and the idiosyncrasies of members that Kurley, being the dummy that he was, answered in good and proper response that brought down the house several times.
We always had a St. Patrick’s Day program. On these, all I had to do was introduce Senator Bill Sullivan from Globe, being the Irishman that he was, and he’d do the rest. He had a friend from Phoenix with a great Irish voice who would come and sing for us. I particularly remember one year when Sully himself performed, with the help of the lady pages, who wore green hats, sang songs and did the Irish jig.
I remember being thankful that the Legislature always recessed a day or two for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which meant of course, I didn’t have to prepare a program. I think I gained more notice from being the program chairman than from all the committees I held or the bills I ever produced: But, it was a job!
I have been searching my files and notes to determine the year I went to Window Rock to attend the inauguration of the Navajo Chief, Raymond Nokai (knock eye.) if ever I attended an unusual event that was it. At that time I was vice-chairman of the Advisory Committee on Indian Affairs. The Governor and my committee chairman were invited. Though the Governor was unable to attend, and the committee chairman didn’t want any more to do with Indians than he had to, they were anxious that the State be represented there. President Carpenter agreed, so I didn’t have to volunteer for the job.
I had already met some of the members of the Tribal Council, and held at least two meeting over the months, so they did know who I was.
Never saw so many Indians in my life. Custer wouldn’t have a chance with just the women and kids that were there. The town’s large, plaza-like area was filled to the brim with happy, healthy looking, well dressed Indians. Small food and drink and jewelry stands were set up around the park. A band played and marched a few times. Everyone drank bottled soda pop. A bunch of eight or ten boys in Levis and big hats were having a free-for-all squirt fight with soda pop fizz as a weapon. I had arrived early, so I walked around the park mingling with the crowd. I looked different from anyone else there, but no one paid any attention to me. I thought sure I would draw a few stares.
Finally, I found out where the meeting would be held and arrived there a few minutes before ten, the time my invitation said it would start. A couple of hundred chairs were rowed up outside, alongside a small building. A large canvas fly tethered to the building stretched to four or five long poles secured to the ground. It wouldn’t be much use in a rain, but it would help with the sun. People were running around and over each other like chickens trying to avoid stones in a hail storm. It was plain to see that this highly important, official meeting would never start on time. Then I remembered what one of the councilmen had told me the last time I had met with some of them in Phoenix. “Indians go by two times,” he had said. “Whiteman’s time and Indian time. Mostly Indian time.”
Well, it was Indian time that day, for the little hand on the clock leaned slightly to the right of the figure 12 before all the arguments were over and the details worked out. I had registered at the table and told them who I was and why I was there. Both men just grunted and told me to sit on the fourth row from the back. I Had been sitting where I was told to sit for about an hour, and the place was filling up fast, when a big Buck with boots, a stripped shirt and a bolo around his neck leaned down close and asked, “Who you?” After I told him he said, “You go up front. You tell Johnny Chuck I said you sit in front row.” I stood up and said: “Well thank you sir, but I understand there are several federal men here. Shouldn’t they use those front seats?” I would have been glad for a more conspicuous seat but didn’t think I had priority. Indian reservation and Indian government do operate under federal control.
My objections didn’t faze the man. He looked at me with a scowl as he said, “Ta hell with the Feds! You State! You friend!” and he pulled me into the isle, motioning me to follow. By now the front seats were full, but two or three still remained empty in about the fourth row. I indicated to him that these were fine. He stuck his right thumb in the air and nodded. I felt well taken care of.
Finally the “Indian time” meeting got started. After the preliminaries it came time to introduce the special
guests. Didn’t know if that included me or not, but figured all I had to do was stand and wave a hello. But
those names called before me all took the opportunity to give a little prepared speech, or at least a remark of
some kind. It put me in a flurry of thought as to what to say, but the panic passed in time for me to come up
with something. I remember the exact words of my first sentence, “It is good to see the Red Man in the saddle
again.” and then short greetings from the Governor—that he sent his best wishes, plus a couple of words of
thanks and a wish of good luck to Chief Nokai.
Though the meeting lasted almost two hours I must admit I enjoyed most of the talks that were given by both Indian and Washington officials. Nokai’s acceptance speech was exceptionally good, proving him a well educated man with an understanding of organization and economics. One Indian woman spoke, all trigged out in every embellishment that Indian costuming could afford, she was an intriguing sight.
I really didn’t see why I was there, for I was unable to make any kind of contribution. It did, however, give me a better understanding of the problems and controversies going on between the Navajos and the U.S. Department of the Interior, due to recent demands being made by the leaders of the tribe.
In 1968 we hung Peter Klahr. Peter was the 23-year-old University of Arizona law graduate who filed the suit in Federal court that would reshape the Arizona Legislature. It declared that the practice of two Senators for each county, no matter their population, was unconstitutional because it “flew in the face” of the ‘one-man-one -vote’ Federal edict. To help express all our feelings about Peter Klahr I dressed up a dummy, and with the help of the Sergeant at Arms sneaked him into the foyer of the Senate chambers at an early hour and got him hung without anyone else knowing. Though my fears proved to be unfounded, I was a little leery of legal retaliations by Klahr or someone of his profession. I had chosen that day to “do the deed” because it had been declared a day of mourning for the Legislature.
It created quite a stir around the State. I was very amused that Senator Mickelson declared himself the official protector of the effigy and hung around it most of the day volunteering information to passers-by and visitors about why the upstart, freshman lawyer had been hung. Since no one knew the perpetrator of the deed, maybe they would think he did it. But I think I foiled that idea by revising the old poem, “The Cowboy’s Lament,” which I read in the Senate the next day. I think that most had their suspicions as to who the hangman might be was resolved.
During the years that I served in the Legislature only one sadness befell the members of the Senate. Senator Bill Rhodes died in office. So often these are times when you feel absolutely helpless. If there was only some way you could help. I had thought of writing a verse or two of condolence, but decided I might hurt more than help. But after sleeping on it, I decided to go ahead, write it, and see how it sounds, then decide if I should use it.
In 1963 my chairmanship of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee allowed me a couple of very enjoyable trips and adventures. Invited to an area-wide briefing on what the U.S. Air Force was accomplishing in the Ballistic Missile Program. We were in the middle of the cold war with Russia with every effort being made to counteract what the Government believed was an array of like missiles aimed directly at the heart of America.
As the accompanying letter from Governor Fannin indicates, I would be transported to Norton Air Force Base in California. Upon arriving there I was somewhat surprised at the small number of people that made up the briefing party—only about 15 of us. I don’t recall now just where they were from or what positions they held. only three or four were military. I believe there were more missile mockups around the room than people; there to view them. They all had names that I don’t recall. The largest model stood about ten feet high. Some were for attack—or counterattack, if we were fired upon. Some were for interception of enemy missiles, while others were for use from submarines and carriers. The whole proved to be a very intriguing hour. After a scrumptious lunch at the officers quarters, I went home with my head reeling from reams of important, classified information and a feeling of importance. What I was going to do with it all, I didn’t know for sure. However, it did help me with a bill or two that later came before my committee.
I had hardly settled in at home (The Legislature was not in session at this time.) when the second letter came form the Governor. The Tucson visit had been arranged and I was invited if I could be at the Governor’s office at the appointed time. This time the Governor would go along. Though he and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on several issues (he, a republican and I, a democrat) it was an honor to fly with the Governor and his entourage.
This briefing at the David Monthan Ar Force Base included the inspection of only one missile, the huge Titan II. The Titan II is a stationary installation hidden in a deep silo and covered with camouflaged doors designed to hide the installation from enemy spy planes. The spot looked like a splotch of rock and gravel. When the doors were opened we could look down at the hissing machine. The best way to describe what we saw was, “A Hellish Monster.” This breathing, pulsing thing was capable of carrying an atomic warhead to Russia and dropping it precisely on the Kremlin.
The silo was so constructed that we were able to view it from six different levels as we descended into the depths of the frightful monster’s home. At one level the officer pointed out to us the many pieces of electronics that made up the complicated guidance system that during launch would automatically monitor things like air temperature and moisture, wind direction, speed, altitude and dozens of other conditions that might effect the flight. One of our party asked the guide at what target was this particular missile aimed. “Moscow!” he replied. “A good hit could put half the city out of commission.”
Considerably warmer at the bottom level caused one to ask about the reason. “It’s the warming system that keeps the engines at a precise temperature so they are sure to ignite when triggered,” he said. Then he told us that the machine was kept primed at all times and could be fired at a second’s notice. We were allowed to look into, but not enter, an underground apartment situated at the end of a thirty or forty foot tunnel, where three Air Force personnel were on duty at all times, one of which always sat with a red telephone at his elbow.
I never did learn just how many of such installations were in Arizona; only that there were many with most of them around or near Tucson.
Later in a briefing room at the Air Base we were introduced to all the intricacies of the ponderous apparatus, plus a thousand figures of its many capabilities. The experience was awesome. It worried me for weeks. Sorry —no picture taking allowed and no news article of the briefing—not even for the Governor.
When President Kennedy and the Congress finally got the Civil Rights Bill out of Washington, it had to be ratified by at least thirty-eight states for it to become law. As I remember, Arizona was kind of a hold-out State, making it number thirty-seven to approve the Federal legislation. The bill for Arizona’s ratification of it was still in the Education Committee where I felt somewhat responsible for it. One afternoon while working at my desk, I mused on the fact that yesterday President Kennedy had called two other Senators about the pending legislation. I didn’t catch on when a page brought the message that the President was on the phone. I said, “On the phone? Why don’t I just walk into his office, as President Carpenter had always had me do when he needed to speak to me?” A little perturbed, she shook me by the shoulder as if I needed waking up and said, “President – Kennedy – from — Washington!” I walked to the phone not at all convinced that this wasn’t a big joke, but I recognized that voice immediately.
I guess I did a little stuttering in my answers to his pertinent questions as I assured him I was for the bill and would do everything possible to see that it was on the calendar for our next meeting, for I was certain Chairman Spikes was favorable.
My steps and thoughts were rather billowy for the rest of the day. I decided that procrastination could, at times, have its rewards.
Of course, after Congress had laid out the rules and Civil Rights were ratified, the states were then obligated to come up with legislation that would comply with the new laws. There were several options, however, so it was understandable that the black population of the State would demand the highest benefits that the law would allow, regardless of costs and some other extenuating circumstances. Hearings were held and Blacks were invited several times to have their say in special and regular committee meetings. Talk and rumor seemed to verify that most Legislators were willing to give the minorities their just dues. Then, for some reasons we were not able to figure out, and before any decisions had been made, the Blacks decided to picket the Capital Building, concentrating on the Senate Chambers. After a couple of days chanting and marching they blocked doors of the Senate building by lying in a stack of bodies in the entrance way. To get out, all we could do was walk over them. I know that many ended up with mashed parts because I could feel the crunch of it under my feet. Two or three different evenings the police had to break up the unjustified sit-ins and lie-downs.
For most of one day their pickets closed traffic on Washington Blvd, and two side-approach streets in front of the Capital. In the Judiciary Committee room one vociferous demonstrator sat himself on Senator Giss’ desk vowing to not move until the committee promised that one of his demands be met. It didn’t take long for a couple of highway patrolmen, on duty there, to take care of that.
This kind of action from the black community of Phoenix was certainly unnecessary strategy, a pathetic mistake. We intended from the start to produce a fair bill and were working to get it out that session. Many of us, in sympathy with their rights felt that such conduct should not be tolerated, and the affair ended that year with adjournment, all in agreement that we would take up the matter next year when nerves and tempers were a little more calm.
As I stated a few paragraphs back, to attempt to tell all my experiences in the State Senate would take volumes, and I do not chose now to risk boring anyone kind enough to read these lines, with further details. I am content to let time and history consume the remains. But remembering Jo’s resounding No! when confronted with the possibility of her husband entering politics, I must comment about her faithful and loving support of the whole experiment, even “to the advice” she was able to give on important matters of State. She proved to be the perfect political wife, and after we sold the grocery store that she loved, but had kept her tied too closely to home, she enjoyed the freedom of every moment, often referring to herself as “Madam Butterfly.” She loved the politics and State Legislature. The Senators’ companions were allowed to attend, especially the jubilant entertainment and food. She was able to go with five of us to Hawaii where we represented the Legislature at the Biannual National Conference. She went with me to Kansas City, Boulder, Colorado, “Town Hall” held at the Grand Canyon. To Flagstaff, Prescott and to Chicago for a National Education Meeting. All this plus all the evening events held in the Phoenix area, different agencies, organizations, and industry often held to inform, or more often, entertain the Legislators. She was always popular at any gathering of the law makers because she knew, so well, how to greet and to please, in conversation.
It takes such small things to please Jo. She says when she hears Kansas City mentioned she immediately thinks of her Kansas City Pumps (gold and high-heeled) bought there. And when she sees those shoes in her closet, now old and worn out but can’t throw away, she can’t help but see Kansas City again. The Mule Bach Hotel, and even the big plate glass window where she spotted those shoes with the peeked toes. I think her sadness of it being over, was a little bigger than mine. She was there that day saying goodbye to the friends she had made, seeming to take no offense to the Senate Pages who insisted on kissing their favorite Senator goodbye.