Judge Tom Stewart
Interviewed by Dr. Terrence ColeTerence: Okay today’s September 23, 2003 and we’re had Judge Tom Stewart’s house in Juneau, Alaska on a nice sunny –Judge: Pleasant day.
Terence: – day in Juneau. But anyway Judge maybe if we just start sort of talking about your mom and dad and growing up in Juneau and tell us a little bit about that.
Judge: My father was a mining engineer and a graduate of the first class at the University of Montana in Missoula. And worked initially for the US Geological Survey. One of his major projects he was the Assistant Chief of a party that spent two summers in Death Valley and determined the depth of Death Valley (inaudible) was a desert and he went to work as a mining engineer for the Sunshine Mine. It was a famous coalmine between Wallace and Kellogg, Idaho. And he lived in Wallace and my mother, who was from north central Missouri, a little place called Fayette. She had been a Professor of English at the college there, was spending the summer with one of her sisters who was married to the county physician in Wallace. My father had a room in their home and that’s how they met. And married I’m not sure some time around 1908. And he came here in 1910 engaged by Fred Bradley. Mountain across the channel is named Mt. Bradley. Fred Bradley had been the Superintendent of the – he was at the time the Superintendent of the Treadwell Mines which was the big operating mine, but they were about to develop the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine.
And he contracted with my father to come up here and spend a year or two and re-survey their mining claims to prove the claims that they owned against competing claimants at the Perseverance Valley. And he did a very successful job for them until they kept him on to engineer the main tram tunnel to which the ore was going to moved from the mining site to the mill which was on the side of the mountain above the beach. It was a major project that the tunnel had to have double track that were 40-car trains 10-ton cars so there were 400 tons an hour moved through that process. And they surveyed that. It is about a three-mile tunnel and they surveyed it from both ends, drove it from both ends simultaneously. He told me that he – in order to establish that survey he had to chain level, that is the measuring tape, steel tape, called a chain always had to be level. And the land was so steep they were going up that he would get three feet of chain and eight feet of plump bob to the last marker. And he went over the mountain, back, and over again three times. And in that distance they had to take account of the curvature of the earth among other things. And he told me more than once I guess that the drilling superintendent called him about two o’clock one morning and said we’re going to break through. And they did and the floor was only an inch apart, three-mile tunnel.
So he did a very successful job for them and until 1919 he was – after he had left working for the AJ on contract, he was a private mining engineer who went around the country and did geological and mining surveys as a – for hire for people that wanted that work done.
In 1919, governor at the time I think it was Riggs I’m not sure appointed him to be the Territorial Mine Inspector and for the next 30 years until 1949 that was the position that he held.
And they – my family had five children, actually there was a stillborn child at the beginning of the marriage and then I had an older brother Ben, Ben Jr. My father was Ben who went to Reed College for a year and then to the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, now the University of Fairbanks. And made a career, a lifetime career as an engineer for the Alaska Road Commission during territorial days and then we became a state he worked for the federal government and was the US Aide Mission Chief in Laos to teach the Laotians how to build roads and to build a road that would serve the American military needs in the Vietnam War and he retired from that.
My second brother also went one year to the school in Fairbanks. I don’t know whether it was because his older brother who was a little big bigger or bully tossed him out in the snow at 70 below zero.
Judge: – where the bursar when he came to borrow some money asked him for his passport cause he was from the Territory of Alaska and he was graduated from Harvard Medical School and about a three or four year medical career technically in the Navy but serving the Marines. And when he came back he went back to Boston and became an orthopedic surgeon training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Harvard and at Peter VanBrigham.
And I have an older sister who is still alive. My oldest brother died. My second older brother who is now 90 lives in the Seattle area, but he is no longer practicing of course at age 90. As a matter of fact he’s crippled. He has to move on crutches. My sister is 89 and she is an interesting lady. She had a terrible illness when she was 14 years old. She hasn’t heard a sound since then. Destroyed the auditory nerves, both of them. And she got a degree in botany, but couldn’t make a living because she couldn’t teach and eventually got a degree in librarianship and was a catalog librarian for the Library of Congress and then moved out and became a catalog librarian for the Oregon Historical Society and had a full career there and wound up her professional work as a librarian for the Portland School District as catalog librarian.
Terence: All without being able to hear. I mean she couldn’t.
Judge: And she doesn’t sign. She lip reads. She is an expert lip reader. She can read a shadow. And she can read across a big room. So if people have private conversations she knows what they’re talking about.
Terence: Better now talk about her.
Judge: And then I was the fourth child born to that family. And I had a younger sister who had a very interesting career. She –
Terence: And what’s her name, Judge?
Judge: Mary Elizabeth. She was about three and a half years younger than I. And she eventually – she married a man named Robert Fellows, who was the head of the Alaska Branch of the US Geological Survey. And in the summer of ’48 and ’49 they were living in what was still called Mt. McKinley Park and he was doing the geology of the park. And one day in the summer of ’49 they had a suspenseful female child. He didn’t come home. And they went looking for him and they found his body lying alongside the railroad track at the age of 35 he had a heart attack and collapsed and died. So she came back here and lived with me for a year with a child and traveled in Europe for a year with her parents.
And then eventually she was hired by a (inaudible) Stephenson, the Arctic explorer to – he sold his collection of 20,000 of Arctic literature to Dartmouth College and his wife was to be the librarian. And they hired my sister, who was working at the library in Swarthmore College outside of Philadelphia to be the assistant librarian. And so she moved to Hanover and with her baby who was about four years old by that time and worked there and lived with the Stephenson’s for two or three years.
And she met a very prominent British Antarctic explorer by the name of Charles Swidenbank and Swidenbank whose career stemmed from the Antarctic studies at Cambridge University came to Dartmouth to research in the Stephenson Collection and met and married my sister and took her back to England and she lived the next 40 years of her life in Cambridge and died about three and a half years ago of breast cancer. Had two more children and so that’s where my family history.
My mother –
Terence: Before we go there – so she worked with Stephenson for a couple of years or at least-
Judge: At least, yeah. I got to know him well in addition and –
Terence: And what your impressions of him?
Judge: Well he was a very intelligent perceptive man and of course he had vast experience in the Arctic not the Antarctic. He wrote the book called the Friendly Arctic in 1911, in I think, which documented the year that he spent living as an Eskimo in an Eskimo family in the Arctic. And the first time I met him I was a young lieutenant in what was known as the Ski Troops, the 10th Mountain Division and we were – this was after we had – my regiment had made the landing on Kiska to drive off the Japanese. And we came back to Camp Hale in Colorado to retrain to go into the war in Europe. And he came and showed us how to build an igloo. It was the first time I ever saw an igloo, first time I saw one built, and the last time also.
And then I got acquainted with him a little bit further after World War II I went to something called the School of Advanced International Studies, SAIS, which is now the Graduate School of International Studies for the John Hopkins University, but its campus has always been in Washington, DC. And Stephenson wrote a book in collaboration with the professor I had in political geography named Hans Likert. They wrote a book called Compass of the World that outlined their theory that in generations to come the polar route, air route, was going to the main commerce potential between the countries of Europe, including the then Soviet Union and America. And it has fairly much developed that way. I’ve read recently that FedEx is establishing their main base in Anchorage because they can fly their planes there and service them and take them onto Asia or Europe.
Terence: Yeah, actually I love that book Compass of the World.
Judge: Hans Likert wrote it and Stephenson collaborated with him on it. It is a – as you know, it’s a symposium of articles by a variety of people who have had experience in the Arctic.
Terence: And it has that good map. I show it to my class he has several maps in there but one of the short line distance between Seattle and Tokyo is going through –
Judge: Dutch Harbor.
Terence: – Dutch Harbor. So I always ask the students well what harbor – and they always of course Pearl Harbor you know. I say no it was bombed by the Japanese during World War II and it’s the shortest –
Judge: My mother died of an infectious ailment in 1933 when she was about 55 years old. I was a freshman in high school and my younger sister was grade school year. Five of us were at one time the largest family to go through all the grades of the general school system. And my father remarried in 1935 about two years after my mother had died. A very interesting woman named Doris Scott and her father was a man named Temple Scott, who was a dealer in rare books and she had been reared with her sisters in London and never went (inaudible) to school but was a very well read individual. And when my father married her in ’35 she was acquainted with his sister and her daughters in New York City and he was visited there and she had never been west of Philadelphia. She came and spent the rest of her life in Alaska in Juneau.
Man: Sorry to cut you guys off, but we got a reel change here.
Terence: Okay. She really did it when she decided to go west.
Terence: Judge, you were talking a little about your sister who went to work for the Stephens, the collection.
Judge: She married as I told you Charles Swidenbank who still today although he’s retired is one of the best known Antarctica British Antarctica explorers at the British Antarctic survey at Cambridge University. He wrote four books. One is the first one was called an Alien in Antarctica. The second was called Forty Years on Ice. The third was called A Foothold on Antarctica. It was his first trip. He went with the first joint expedition, the Norwegians, the Swedes, and he represented the British. And they’re the people that proposed and promoted British – the Antarctic Treaty by which all the countries that have research stations down there said they would not make any territorial claims. So that no nation claims land as their own. They have their own research stations, but they don’t claim that land. And that was that trip that established that principle. And then his final book was called Vodka on Ice. He spent a year with the – as the only non-Russian with the Soviet Russian expedition to Antarctica.
So she had quite an experience. For example, he was honored and she went with him and they guests of the King of Sweden. And she described the party she went to at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip and where they were, some private guests. And a little anecdote of that experience she and other ladies went to the ladies rest facility which was a bench with 13 holes and a stream of water running beneath it, right out about the fifth century or something.
She had a little conversation with the Queen at the top of the stairs and she said to the Queen I saw you on the tele, which is a British label of the television, and you looked and it was your birthday, your official birthday party aboard the battleship and you looked a little bit upset. And the Queen said indeed I was. I wanted to take some pictures and my husband wouldn’t let me.
Terence: What’s the use of being Queen then.
Judge: She said to the Queen I understand that you keep a daily journal. How in heaven’s name in your busy life are you able to manage that? And the Queen said it’s true. I do keep a daily journal. When we retire in the evening my husband reads and I write in my journal. At least I can keep things straight instead of the way the newspaper puts them.
Anyhow she had a very interesting life and their youngest child was a Down syndrome victim and she spent the last years of her life promoting care facilities for Down syndrome people in Cambridge where she lived.
Terence: Judge, did she have anything that comes to mind about working with Stephenson, ever say what that was like at all or anything comes to mind?
Judge: Well they were very dear friends, but no. I visited there in Hanover with the Stephensons and my sister in their home, but I don’t have any per recollection.
Terence: Sure, okay. Well let’s get back now to your sort of experience. You went to school here in Juneau, the high school. What did you –
Judge: Well I had a scholarship to the Colorado School of Mines, but I decided I didn’t want to be a mining engineer. So the State of Washington offered Alaskans from the Territory of Alaska the same terms going to their state school as residents of Washington. So it was a much more developed facility than the school at Fairbanks and so I went to the University of Washington and I took a degree there. I started out in ’36, but I didn’t have enough money so I came home and I worked in the mine here, not underground but in the mill. I had – my father distinguished my job as saying I was chief engineer on a number two shovel – I moved muck. I lost my hearing working along side the grinding machines. And I was graduated finally in April of ’41 I took the little extra credit hours and finished a quarter early. They were on a quarter system there.
Terence: What was your degree in, what field did you study?
Judge: Well I suppose you could say pre-law, although I had no intention to go to law school at that moment. It was literature and history.
Terence: Had your dad wanted you to become a mining engineer or was that you know –
Judge: He never pushed in that direction so I didn’t do that. I had a good friend, for example, Earl Beistline, whose father was the chief carpenter for the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine and he grew up here. We have been dear friends over the years. And he of course became a mining engineer and taught at the University for many years and is still active in it – in the field.
Terence: We are going to talk to him and I know him pretty well so.
Judge: But in any event I took my degree at the University of Washington in April, late March early April and in the meantime the last two years my grade average rather dropped. I had a pretty decent grade average. Because I took up skiing and I would go skiing right after five o’clock on Friday and come back at eleven o’clock Sunday night and skied at Mt. Baker and I had a wonderful lift skiing, but my academic record suffered.
Terence: How did you get up to Baker, was it a – could you get a train up there – how did you?
Judge: No, we drove. I had friends and we belonged to the Mt. Baker Ski Club, which was a Bellingham organization. Took us five hours in the road systems in those days to drive up there.
Terence: Was there any lift or how did you get up the mountain?
Judge: There was a rope tow, but we did a lot of climbing and skiing back down.
Terence: Had you ever gone skiing – did anyone ever ski in Juneau when you were a kid?
Judge: As a matter of fact the way I got into skiing I had come home to work for a year to save money to go back to school and there was an Austrian ski instructor and a German ski instructor and they had been part-time instructors at Sun Valley and there was some Juneau people oh when it first opened in about ’36, ’37 and there was a couple of Juneau people with the means took a ski vacation at Sun Valley and met these two fellows and urged them to come to Juneau. And they did and they spent that winter and a friend, who is still a dear friend here of mine, had become a skier and we skied with those two fellows. And they taught us the Arborg technique. We were the only people in Juneau that knew the Arborg technique.
Terence: Could you describe that, what was that?
Judge: It was developed by a man named Hanna Schneider, who taught in the Arborg Country in Austria. And it is what enabled modern skiing. You bend your ankles and your knees, thrust them forward so that your balance is towards the tip of the skis and you can turn. You can make beautiful flowing turns. There are many refinements of it but nowadays but basically it is what is known as the Arborg technique because it was in the Arborg Region that Hanna Schneider developed this anyhow.
Terence: What part of – where did you go down, what hill or what was the spot here in Juneau?
Judge: Over on Douglas Island. The bridge had been built in 1935 and right behind the knoll that we’re seeing across the channel from where we’re sitting there is something called the Douglas ski bowl. And we – I bought a rope tow. When I got out of the Army in the fall of ’45 I had never been in the interior of Alaska. I wanted to do that. I was still in uniform on terminal leave. I was a Captain at the time and I met my brother who was the head of the Valdez District of the Road Commission. We drove up to Glennallen, down the new Glenn Highway into Anchorage, took the train to Seward and on the dock in Seward I found sort of a homemade ski tow that some soldiers had developed. They had a Dodge truck engine and several hundred feet of one-inch rope and wooden wheels for the pulleys. I bought the whole outfit for $50 and shipped it to Juneau. And we manhandled it up the hill and set up the rope tow there and it operated for 25 years. But then that’s getting ahead of the story.
Terence: But that’s over on Douglas where you used to ski – I mean before it was there.
Judge: Not where it is now. There’s a developed facility called Eagle Crest and there’s a road up to it and there are three chair lifts over there or two chair lifts and a pomolift (?), but that’s all much more recent.
Terence:In the early days you just bushwhacked up there and then skied down basically, right?
Judge: We had this rope tow and it went up the mountain about 900 feet and it was a very good facility.
Anyhow when I got my degree at the University I went to Sun Valley. I got a ride with a friend. And I stayed until I had ten cents left to my name, but I had bought a ticket to come back on the train. I came back on the train after about two weeks at Sun Valley.
Terence: You mean you skied your life savings away?
Judge: A lot of skiing.
Terence: On the big mountain –
Judge: Mt. Baldy.
Terence: Baldy okay.
Judge: It’s 3500 feet up there and I used to ski it 10 times a day, that’s 35,000 downhill feet, but vertical feet. I got back to Seattle and walked down the street to the draft office and said I’m ready to go. This was in April of ’41 about eight months before Pearl Harbor. So I joined the Army and sent me over to Fort Lewis and got basic training.
Terence: Did you expect that – cause you were drafted – cause the draft was just instituted like the year before I guess so.
Judge: October of ’41.
Judge: The original draftees were told they would be in for a year. Had a saying Ohio – Over the hill in October. I wasn’t quite in that group but I expected to be in for a year. Then it lasted closer to five. Anyhow.
Terence:So from Fort Lewis you had basic training and where did you –
Judge: Well I had read that General Simon Bolliver Buckner, who was the head of the military services in Alaska was going to develop a ski area at McKinley Park. So I wrote him – I was a buck private, so I wrote him a letter, General Buckner. I understand you’re going to develop a ski area and I’m a certified ski instructor of the Pacific Northwest Ski Association and I’d like to help you develop that and teach. I got a nice letter back, Dear Private Stewart. I had in writing to him I mentioned my father’s name because I knew that they were acquainted. My father persuaded him and the powers at be in the military to develop electric power for the military bases being built – Elmendorf, Richardson, Ladd Field in Fairbanks with coal fired steam plants because of the coal resources available on the railroad and the lack of oil resources and the lack of sufficient shipping to move oil up here. And so they did. They developed the coal plants at all those places and they’re still operating. They are still developing power for those bases from the Healy River coal primarily.
Anyhow I mentioned to him and he said well the letter that he wrote back to me he said I would like to have you up here for that but you’re not in my command. General DeWitt’s command on the Pacific Coast and you get yourself transferred up here to Alaska and then let me know. So I saw a notice on the bulletin board at Fort Lewis volunteers wanted to go to Alaska and I turned up for the interview. It was a Major what became to me to be known as the West by God Virginia, National Guard. And this Major was a West Virginia coal miner and he was interested in what I could tell him about coal mining in Alaska. And so I was chosen for this detail. There were three of us. A sergeant, a corporal, and buck private Stewart. And we were guards on a secret shipment on a little freighter that sailed out of Tacoma for Sitka where the new Naval base was being built. I later learned that that secret shipment was the first radar machine coming to Alaska. And we stood 24-hour guard, four on and eight off on the bow of that ship. It took 14 days to go from Tacoma to Sitka cause we went on the outside and run into a big storm, rolled 40 degrees, made four knots an hour, but we got to Sitka and that was a casual and I was assigned to the West by God Virginia National Guard, which was guarding – the assignment was to guard the base shore units to protect against the Japanese invasion.
Terence: Is that the Naval Air Station at Sitka, right?
Judge: Right. It was being built at the time. Well Pearl Harbor came.
Terence: Where were you at the time of Pearl Harbor? What were you doing that morning? Do you remember that what happened that day?
Judge: I don’t particularly. I remember there was a very dramatic incident a few days before that right around Thanksgiving. There was a dynamic storage shed and it was a Sunday and I with some others had volunteered to go out and do some work on a machine gun in placement. And the first sergeant of the company was up in the front of the truck and there were eight or ten of us in the back and pulled up alongside of this dynamite shed and it was on fire on the inside. And we stopped the first sergeant thought maybe we could fight the fire but we didn’t have any tools so fortunately we drove on and around the point of a little ridge got out of the truck and the fire department from the Army Base at Alice Island on the south end of Japonsky where the base was being built before the bridge to out there, came and started to fight the fire. And the captain who was in charge of the unit maybe he was a major, I’m not sure, realized that they couldn’t stop it and ordered them to move out of there but before they could move it blew. So he and the other men were killed, except one who got down under the truck and was protected, shielded by the fire truck, but it was a pretty traumatic time. Every window in Sitka facing the shore was broken by the force of that blast.
And anyhow I decided I really didn’t belong there for the war. We were in the war after Pearl Harbor and a cadre of officers came through examining soldiers for officer candidate school. And I was selected to go with a master sergeant and a buck sergeant and we went to Fort Benning, Georgia and I became a 90-day wonder. Second lieutenant in 90 days. And fortunately I had a shirttail relative, a colonel who was second in command at Fort Benning, was a nephew of a woman who was married to my uncle and she wrote him and he and his wife invited me to their home when I came and he said this is a tough program but if you make it you tell me where you want to go and I’ll see that you get there. And I did make it and I said I want to go to the ski troops. There was one battalion called the First Battalion 87th Mountain Infantry Reinforcement at Fort Benning, I mean at Fort Lewis and that is where I was assigned and I spent the rest of my career in what became the 10th Mountain Division.
Terence: How did you first hear the ski trip – because of the ski did you, was that well known to you?
Judge: Well at that time most of the people in it were volunteers. They had to get letters of recommendation about their experience as skiers or mountain climbers and the battalion was about a thousand men roughly. It was heavily peopled with people with that kind of background and eventually as the organization enlarged ours was the first battalion of the 87th. It grew to the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment. Then they cadred the 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment and then the 85th in that order chronologically and they took specialists from our unit and made them the core of the next unit and so forth. So eventually the people that had the mountain background were spread out through the whole division which is about 10,000 men.
Terence: Were a lot of those early folks, the ones from Sun Valley. Did a lot of those you must have known?
Judge: There was a very prominent ski instructor ran the Sun Valley Ski School named Freda Fifer and he was in our organization. The last push that we had in northern Italy I went to the aid station and he came in with a piece of shrapnel in his lung. I had known him but not well but quite a few ex-patriot Austrians, anti-Hitler people, anti-Nazi that were in the outfit. And a lot of them when they came back from the war became instructors at Sun Valley and many other resorts. The 10th Mountain people set up a lot of ski areas like Aspen, Vail, a lot of the Colorado resorts had their background in the 10th Mountain Division.
Anyhow in June of 1942 the Japanese Navy wanted to destroy the American Navy and the tactic that they had determined was to send a task force to the Aleutians. What they didn’t know was that the Americans had broken the Japanese code and knew what the Japanese were up to and so the Navits and Hawsley, the admirals in command of the American Navy engaged the Japanese fleet at Midway and that was the turning point of the war in the Pacific. They were not fooled by this diversionary fleet which had one or two carriers, couple of cruisers, and some destroyers. And they went to Dutch Harbor and bombed Dutch Harbor in June of ’42. And then they had a troop ship or more than one with them and they went out and established bases at Attu and Kiska. Well the American military was not very happy about their taking American soil. They didn’t make much publicity about it. A year later almost a year, late April or May of ’42 I mean of ’43 they sent a unit out to take Attu. And some of our advisors on equipment and clothing and footwear advised them to equip those men with the proper foot gear for the conditions they would meet out there on the snow, wet snow, rain and wind, not severe cold but severe conditions. And there were more casualties at Attu from trench foot then there were from Japanese action. When I say casualties I mean people that were injured, not necessarily killed. And men lost their toes, lost their feet because they would spend three weeks in wet shoes and socks, never changed them.
Well of course they wiped out the Japanese garrison, about 3000 men, but Kiska was their major base. Kiska they had three missions. They had men who trained in submarine warfare. They had two man submarines. They were going to intercept American ship traffic along the Alaskan coast. They had engineers. They were building an airstrip so they fly planes off Kiska and they had radiomen and they were jamming American radio signals. I had a good friend who was in the Alaska Communications System, the old ACS, which was the only communication – long distance communications that we had in Alaska. And he said they had a lot of trouble. He was based in Nome and the Japanese on Kiska were quite successful in jamming their signals.
Well the Americans blockaded the island. They had two cruisers, five destroyers that circled around the island for that whole year from ’42 to ’43 to keep any resupply from occurring. One Japanese ship attempted to resupply and it was detected by an American PPY, sent a message to American submarine and sank it off of Amchitka with a thousand men on board.
Anyhow because of the tragedy at Attu for lack of proper training and equipment to be in snow and cold and rough country away from roads, they determined to send our regiment, the 87th to spearhead the attack on Kiska, which we did. We landed on Kiska on the 15th of August 1943. It was kind of spooky because the landing fleet had two battleships, six heavy cruisers, and about 50 destroyers and DE boats and all those ships were firing big guns on the island and as we went ashore and moved up the mountain. Ridge is about 3000 feet high. These big explosions were taking place right in front of us, but we were not getting any small arms fire. No ground resistance. And it was about 36 hours before we finally determined that there were no Japanese on the island. They had gone. And the Americans had not seen them go. Writings about it have indicated that the high command were suspicious that this might have happened, but made the deliberate decision to land our Regiment anyhow. They thought maybe they had retreated into the tunnels that they had built on Kiska. They had their headquarters in a tunnel, hospital in a tunnel, as many as possible men underground because of the American (inaudible) there.
And anyhow it is kind of an interesting story how they escaped. There was a sergeant in my company by the name of Sherman Smith and he was an (inaudible) souvenir hunter. And when we landed he went into the Japanese tunnel after we knew they were gone looking for souvenirs. He didn’t even have a flashlight. He had a plumber’s candle. And he detected trip wires on the floor of the tunnel so he knew it was booby trapped, but he saw a Japanese sun flag three or four feet long, two or three feet high with some writing on it. So he took it off the wall and folded it up and put it in his gear, brought it back to Seattle and left it there when we sailed for Europe.
Terence: Okay, have to change tape. Attu either committed suicide or whatever that had some relative or something in San Diego. I never did see this program. I don’t know if you had seen it.
Terence: They had called me up. It was NBC
Judge: We got this sun flag and in the meantime we went back and retrained at Camp Hale and then I went to Italy and fought the war against the Germans (inaudible). That was a bloody war. We had a thousand men killed and 4000 wounded out of our regiment or our division of 10,000 men.
But anyhow when he got back from Germany, I mean from Italy, 1983, 40 years after we got left Kiska, he took the sun flag out of his gear back home and it had writing on it and it said it belonged to a man named Carl Kassucarba, who was a mountaineer. So he wrote to a mountaineering organization in Tokyo and asked if they knew the man and they got an answer yes, that he was the secretary of the organization and he spoke good English. So Smith and his wife went to Tokyo, went to Japan and gave him back his flag. And he was so enamored of this process that they had six presentations. They went to his original village. They went to another village, gave him back the flag and gave it to him again.
And then there was a reunion of our 10th Mountain Division in Seattle in 1986 and I spotted Smith. He had been transferred to another unit after Kiska so I hadn’t seen him during the war in Italy. I saw him in the crowd and I walked up to him and I said, hi, you’re Sergeant Smith. I’m Tom Stewart and stuck out my hand. And he gave me a steely look and he said I hated all officers. Turned on his heel and marched away. Didn’t want to talk to me.
But we had a banquet at the non commissioned officers club at Fort Lewis in the course of that reunion and I told a little funny story about our commanding officer who was in the crowd and Smith walked up to me afterwards and he says Stewart you’re all right. We became very good friends after that.
But anyhow he invited Kassucarba to this reunion so I got acquainted with him and in 1992 my wife and I were in Seattle and we went to a banquet of the American Alpine Club. Kassucarba spoke good English and Smith after this banquet – at that banquet sat – which was in the fall of 1992 said what do you think about our return to Kiska. And I said oh that sounds like it might be interesting. Well he said it has to be organized in Alaska and you live in Alaska and so we need your help. Well it turned out that we got 10 veterans from the 87th Mountain Infantry and I led the operation. And we got two Japanese veterans, Kassucarba and another man named Toroterra Sudano. Then we had a Japanese photographer to take pictures of the operation and an American newsman and a medic from Adak because people at Elmendorf that were supporting our effort it wasn’t a good idea for 12 men over the age of 75 to be out on the island without a medic. So they assigned a young hospital corpsman from Adak to go out with us on the Coast Guard cutter. And I had asked them for handheld radios so when the Coast Guard cutter came back to get us it was going to be a different ship than the one that took us out there. I could talk with them and tell them where we were and they called me and said we don’t think that’s a sufficient communication. We’re going to send a tech sergeant with portable satellite equipment you can talk anywhere in the world.
So there were 16 of us went out to Kiska in August of 1993. And Kassucarba told me what happened, how they got away. He was manning the radio and radar equipment up on top of the ridge above Kiska harbor. And they were desperate to leave. This was late July and that time of year they have lots of fog and rain, bad weather. And the skippers of all of the seven American blockade fleet, two cruisers and five destroyers spotted moving targets on their radar between their position down at sea and the island and they fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition, rushed over there because it was over the horizon, not in their line of sight but within radar range and found nothing. They communicated in English between among themselves and Kassucarba was sitting up on top of the island listening to the communications and we’re going to withdraw for 12 hours to rearm and resupply, we’ll be off the blockage for 12 hours. So they went back to an American base back down the Aleutian chain to do that and they had a Japanese rescue fleet, two cruisers and four destroyers standing about 300 miles off shore. They sent them a coded signal. They rushed in at full speed into the harbor at Kiska and in 55 minutes they moved 5500 men from the beach onto those ships. They had landing craft and they dropped them over the side, went ashore and got the soldiers who had their rifles, went back out and they boarded ship by clambering up a cargo net, tossed their rifles in the bay, sank –
Terence: We have a couple of – I mean it’s all essential but they referring to is that for a short-term in November by sort of launching of this project there are a couple of questions that we’re asking sort of everybody about the sort of overall thing of the convention and stuff.
Terence: Are we ready, okay. Well let’s just finish this first Judge.
Judge: Kassucarba heard this communication, sent a coded signal just two letters A B something like that to the Japanese fleet. They came rushing in at full speed, 55 minutes they took 5500 men off the beach, loaded the ships, and left. And this was actually about 10 days or two weeks before we got there, but the high command Admiral Kincaid I think was the ranking officer. He and Buckner determined that they would land us anyhow, not tell us if the Japanese might be gone. They thought they might have gone into their tunnels and be laying in ambush. So that’s what happened.
Terence: What was it like then going ashore? Did you guys go down in cargo nets or how did you go ashore?
Judge: We went down cargo nets into the landing craft. Nowadays they have marine assault landing vessels that can open up the stern and the water comes in and they have the landing craft inside the ship and you can board them inside the ship and drive them out to the ocean. But they didn’t have that we went down in cargo nets and came as close to the beach as we could and jumped out of the ship and waded ashore up to our chest level in the surf with full gear. Took us a week – took us a full day to get dried off after we got on Kiska.
Terence: Was a lot of guys sick in the landing craft or how did that –
Judge: I don’t remember that. It was you know a heightened anticipation of this battle because they had estimated we would be 75% casualties, the first wave, which we were. And I was a platoon leader and the platoon leader is the ones that get it first, but fortunately the Japanese were gone.
Terence: Did any of the guys in your platoon get hit by friendly fire – I know there was some casualties?
Judge: Well that was in another battalion. There were three battalions in our regiment. I was in the First Battalion and the Second and Third Battalions had landed a few hours earlier, a little bit down the shoreline and they were told don’t move at night. They were told not to move at night. If it moves, it’s a Jap, shoot it. Well some poor kid got up to take a leak and somebody else in the other unit saw him and shot him and the major who was in command of that battalion at the time decided there must be Japanese out there so he sent out a patrol. I had a captain friend who tried to dissuade him from doing that because of this order from higher headquarters. Sent out the patrol and they got into a big firefight between the two battalions. They killed 15 or 16 men fighting amongst themselves in the middle of the night and the fog and the rain. That didn’t happen in my battalion, but I am very well aware of it.
Then we had casualties from booby traps. The Japanese had some crude booby traps. They had a 75-mm Howitzer in a tunnel, a cave up near the top of the mountain. You could bore sight that gun on the beach that we had landed on. That would have been tough because the tunnel wasn’t much of a target unless a shell landed right in the opening and wouldn’t take them out.
And that first night it was wet and rainy and cold and windy and miserable and the communications squad of my battalion went in there and the colonel said don’t touch that gun. Well there wasn’t enough room to be their sleeping bags down in the cave to stay dry so someone grabbed a hold of the spooks of the wheel and had a pressure release type booby trap underneath the wheel and it blew and killed two of the men and shell shocked the others. So we had – it was kind of a bloody mess, but that’s the story of the Kiska operation.
Terence: How long did you stay on the island?
Judge: We were there from August to December because they didn’t you know those landing ships that they took us in there with didn’t stick around. They needed to use them elsewhere in the Pacific. So they left and I think the first ship that sailed was probably a month after we got there, a ship that came in, one of the old Alaska steamship vessels. They had some liberty ships; two or three of them came and took out some specialists that they wanted for other assignments. But we came back in December and went back to Camp Hale, spent about three weeks at Camp Carson in Colorado Springs and then went back to Hale and retrained up there. And then in the fall of ’44 we were assigned over to Italy.
Terence: Okay, well we’ll talk about that later about the Italy cause I do want to ask you about the over there. But now let’s skip ahead. One thing maybe you could tell us a little bit about the – is this sort of statehood movement the desire in general and the people who were pro and con about it, just sort of set the scene.
Judge: Well my own role devolved initially from the fact that I – after I went – after I got a Masters Degree of the School of Advanced Interactol (?) Studies. I was aiming for Russian studies. I went to Yale Law School and I was graduated from the Yale Law School in 1950 and I went to the State Department to present my credentials. I had the summer of ’49 in Middlebury College in the Russian School and I could speak Russian, not fluently but acceptably. And they said we loved to have somebody like you but we don’t have any money for Russian Studies. This was at the very beginning of McCarthyism. Anybody involved in Russian Studies was suspect. And the man that interviewed me for a position in the State Department on the Russian Desk, which I was aiming for, said if I were you I’d go back to Alaska.
So I did. I came home, lived in this house with my father and my stepmother and before long I got involved in Democratic politics. Went to the local meeting and got involved in the statehood issue.
Terence: Now had your father been a Democrat, had he been involved at all?
Judge: And he was a very close friend of Ernest Gruening, who was the Governor and just lived down the street and his son – he had three sons; Ernest, Jr. who was killed in the war, Peter who was the youngest son who committed suicide out in Australia, and the middle son was named Huntington – Hunt Gruening. And he and is wife were living in the mansion and we were contemporaries and got to be very dear friends. So I used to spend a lot of time with the Gruenings and my parents spent a lot of time with the Gruenings and of course Bob Bartlett, the delegate to Congress, lived right in the house next door and was a very dear friend of mine and of my parents.
Terence: Bartlett lived right next door to you, right down here, that one there?
Judge: White house about 20 feet from mine.
Terence: Did he own it or did the –
Judge: No. He was the Secretary of Alaska, secretary which is what is now called the Lieutenant Governor. And he was a newspaperman, as well as a gold miner. And he came there to live while he was the secretary. It was an elected position and he was very much involved in the statehood movement, as was Ernest Gruening. And I became involved and I –
Judge: There were more people supporting statehood by far than were opposed. The opposition came mainly from the canned salmon industry because they feared local control of the fisheries. They had had a favorite position with the federal agencies in the fisheries field and they were opposed and the gold mining industry was opposed because they feared that statehood was going they forgot it was going to bring more taxes and make their operations more difficult economically. And so the newspapers here in Southeast, which was the center of the fishing industry, except for Bristol Bay, the local paper in Juneau opposed and one of the two papers in Ketchikan was opposed.
The governor before Gruening was John Troy and he owned the Empire. And Gruening came here when they fired Troy because he was a lush and had trouble with drinking. And Gruening – this was an interesting story I got from Stephenson. I drove him from his farm in Bethel, Vermont to Peterboro where I was in school, studying with the migrant (?) and coming back on that drive he said did you know how Gruening got to be the governor of Alaska? And I said oh he was director of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions in the Interior Department and they had to fire Troy so they sent him here. And that’s not quite the story.
The story that Stephenson said was that of course Harold Ictcos (?) was the Secretary of the Interior and Gruening was the head of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions, which he had persuaded Roosevelt to establish. He wrote a very well known book called Mexico and Its Heritage and he was very familiar with the Caribbean area and so of course Puerto Rico was a principle territory. And so Ictcos came to Roosevelt and said he is insubordinate. Three times Ictcos discovered that Gruening had been in Roosevelt’s office. What Ictcos didn’t know that he was going there. He said I can’t tolerate this SOB. Got to get rid of him. And Roosevelt was friendly towards Gruening so they compromised. They sent him to Alaska to be the governor.
Anyhow he was a very active proponent of statehood and he got the first legislature, see he started in ’39 as governor and the legislature, either the House or the Senate, had been Republican and he couldn’t get the legislation passed that he thought was needed. For example an income tax. The ‘49 session of the legislature was the first time that he got a favorable legislature and they passed this bill, Chapter 108 of the Session Laws of ’49 establishing an Alaska Statehood Committee. And it had some 14 members I think. They had 11 residents and ex-officio of the governor and a delegate to Congress. And the committee was directed to get a necessary qualified person to do research, act as executive to represent the committee, have ready in preparation for a constitutional convention, other detailed studies and so forth.
Well the chairman of the committee was Robert Atwood, who was the editor and publisher of the Anchorage Times. And Bob Atwood was a publicist and his view of what the committee should focus on was to advertise statehood. They chartered a D-6 sent about 65 people to Washington to lobby the Congress for a week. They had a very active organization in Anchorage called Operation Statehood and they promoted this trip. They did hire a professor I think at the University whose name I have forgotten in Anchorage, I mean in Fairbanks, to do the job as the executive of the committee, but they didn’t follow through on that. So they did none of the studies in preparation for a convention.
In the meantime I became very active in the Democratic Party and I became the chairman in southeast Alaska. Adali Stevenson had been the candidate for president. And after he lost to Eisenhower the first time he made a highly publicized trip to the Soviet Union, spent about six weeks over there getting acquainted with the Soviet leadership and making up his own mind about what that was all about.
And when he returned there was a meeting, a national meeting of the Democratic National Committeemen, Committeewomen, and the state chairpersons of the party at each state. It was held in Chicago in the fall of ’43, no ’53. And I learned that nobody from Alaska was going. The National Committee man was not going, the committee woman was not going, the state chairman, a fellow named Frank Marr in Fairbanks was not going and I thought it was a shame that we wouldn’t have some representation at that meeting.
So I got proxies from all of those people and I went to Chicago on my own. And Gruening was a good friend of Stevenson’s, so I had an audience with Stevenson after the meeting was completed. I was supposed to have 15 minutes with him and he was quite interested because I was talking to him about statehood trying to enlist his support to support our move. And I had a whole half an hour with him and invited him to come to Alaska and see for himself. I couldn’t officially authorize the trip cause I was an Assistant Attorney General and didn’t have any position in the government to do that, but I had some good friends in Gruening and Bartlett and told them that I had made this invitation and they needed to make it official from their positions as Governor and of course Bartlett was the delegate to Congress.
So they did and Stevenson came here the summer of ’54, stopped in Juneau and I met him in Prince Rupert and came on the ship with him. And interestingly enough it was in July as I recall, nice weather, and he and I were out playing shuffleboard with some of the people he had with him. And he said let’s sit down and talk. So we went over and propped our feet up on the rail and we talked for two hours. And among other things he said you know I have only heard proponents of statehood. I’ve talked with you and with Bartlett and Gruening. There must be somebody opposed. I said yes, indeed there are. Would you like to talk to somebody that is opposed? Yes I would.
There was a man named Allen Shaddock, who was a Democrat but he was an anti-Gruening Democrat and he was an insurance man, retired, living in a beach home across the airport. And so when I got to Juneau I got – and he had written a pamphlet called the Case Against Statehood. I arranged for Stevenson and a couple of the men that were with him to sit down with Allen Shaddock and his son Curtis Shaddock, who was a Democrat also but anti-Gruening. And they had a visit with him and then Stevenson went to Anchorage and gave a speech to 5000 people present. They had it at the ballpark, Malkey Stadium, largest crowd ever assembled for a political event and gave a rousing speech in favor of statehood.
So that’s sort of when I got started in the statehood effort. And there was a committee from the Senate interior I believe. The Senate was Republican and the chairman was a man named Butler, a senator from Nebraska and several other senators. And I testified before that committee. Butler had been up here previously and determined that we weren’t ready for statehood for reasons A, B, and C. So when I testified I said here’s how we have satisfied A, B, and C, we’re ready. You’re the chairman of the Senate Committee. You have tremendous influence in what the committee says. Unless you change your mind we’re not going to get it. So I’m here to tell you, you’ve got to change your mind. And I had sort of a confrontation with him.
Terence: Did he – what were like the basic you know the pros and cons, I mean it was largely on taxes is that the main issue you’d say, I mean?
Judge: I think so. I don’t really remember that detail. That’s a good many years ago, 50 years ago, but I don’t retain that detail.
Judge: But in any event that’s all I got in and in 1954 the 53 session of the legislature was a debacle. It reflected what was happening in the nation, McCarthyism. They formed a legislative investigating committee to search out Communists in the government. They found one Communist. He was a longshoreman in Skagway and he had an idealistic view of Communism as something that was good for the common people.
And those years there was no such thing as the Legislative Affairs Agency. So the Assistant Attorney General served the legislature by writing bills for them. The legislators would come to our offices and say we want a bill on such and such a subject and here’s what we – the idea of it and so I and my compatriot who was John Dimond, the son of Tony Dimond, a very dear friend, wrote legislation. And I spent a lot of time in the legislature.
The last night I was down just outside the chamber, went into the men’s room and there was a wastebasket about three feet high and a foot and a half in diameter, filled to the brim with whiskey bottles. The Speaker of the House, it was a man from Fairbanks named George Miscovich, had his coffee cup in his desk and full of whiskey. And the house never did adjourn, they just walked off. It was a debacle. It was – there were I think about 20 Republicans and 4 Democrats in the House. The Senate was evenly split. There were 16 members on the Senate – 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats. It took them three weeks to organize and choose a President of Senate when they finally compromised.
Terence: Three weeks –
Terence: So I think we were talking about the –
Judge: The political scene in the legislation. That session was a debacle. And the people of Alaska sensed that and so in the next election, which took place in 1954, there was a complete shift. There were I think 21 members of the house were Democrats and three were Republicans. In the senate there were about 12 or 13 members who were Democrats and three Republicans.
And right after the election when the new complex of the legislature was known there was an assemblage of Democratic leaders in Fairbanks in the home of a man named Alex Miller, who had grown up in Juneau. I had known him since he was a child. And we kind of parceled out functions for the upcoming session. We were going to reorganize the legislature. Cut down the number of committees, have parallel committees in the house and the senate so they could communicate better, and we assigned jobs to various people. Some of the people from Fairbanks were assigned particularly to the reorganization of the body and I drew the job of preparing for the holding of the Constitutional Convention.
So when the legislature convened in January of ’55 I was the chairman of the house committee on statehood and federal relations. And a fellow named Bill Egan was the chairman of the senate committee on statehood and federal relations.
But in the meantime after that meeting I resigned my job as Assistant Attorney General and on my own, spent my own money. I was not married. I decided that there wasn’t really anybody in Alaska who knew much about how to set up structure and operate a Constitutional Convention. So I made a six week long trip across the country. I went to the University of Washington. I went to the University of Chicago. I went to Public Administration Service in Chicago. I went to the University of Illinois, Evanston I think it was. I went to Harvard. I went to Yale, which was my school. I went to Columbia. I went to Princeton and then New Jersey I went to Trenton and met with Mrs. Katzenbach, who was a Vice President of the New Jersey Convention of ’46, which was a very successful convention. And I met with her and some other people that had been delegates. I met with a professor named John Sligh at Princeton, who was a distinguished figure in the academic world in state government, state constitutions. And I went to Washington, DC and I met with people at the legislative reference service of the Library of Congress. I met with the officers of the American Political Science Association.
And everywhere I went I said how do you set up a convention? How do you get qualified advisors to help you work on the substance of a constitution? And I got some excellent advice from Mrs. Katzenbach, whose son Nick Katzenbach had been in the law school a year or so ahead of me and later became the Attorney General of the United States under Johnson. She said hold your convention at the State University. I said we don’t have a State University. We have something called the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. Well hold it there instead of in the capitol. Because the capitol has entrenched lobbying interests and they will be lobbying for their pet projects. If you go to the University you will have a library facility. It is a much better scene. So –
Terence: And did that help? Could you say that using the University sort of as the forum? I mean did that really help do you think in a way in the tone and tenor with the way it actually –
Judge: No question. I’d say no question. It was an unpopular decision in Juneau because there were a lot of people in Juneau who were concerned even in those days about the possibility of moving the capitol. And I remember going to a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and Curtis Shaddock, whom I already described to you, was an anti-Gruening Democrat, sitting across the table from me. Underneath the table he kicked me severely in the chins because I had promoted the idea of having the convention at the University.
When we organized it because of the background that I had acquired on this trip across the nation Bill Egan and I met. We had been good friends politically and otherwise and decided that I should be the chairman of the joint house and senate committee. He was the chairman of the senate committee and that we would meet together rather than separately to build a bill to call the convention. And that’s what we did. We wrote this bill. This is just Chapter 46 of the session laws of 1955. And it was critical to the success of the convention.
For one thing in that 53 session of the legislature in the First Judicial District, Southeast Alaska, I think there were six members. Five of them were from Juneau. One was from Petersburg. Nobody from Ketchikan, Wrangell, Sitka, Haines, Skagway. Second District they were all from Nome. Nobody from Kotzebue. Nobody from Unalakleet. Third District there were 10 members of the house. All ten of them were from Anchorage. Nobody from Kodiak. Nobody from Cordova. Nobody from Valdez. Nobody from Palmer. So we determined that there should be representation from every community in Alaska that had about a thousand people or more.
Terence: What happened to the Fourth Division? Was that similar as well?
Judge: All Fairbanks.
Judge: And so we created special election districts, 22 of them.
Terence: How did you decide those Judge? How did you draw those boundaries and how did you?
Judge: We had to use in order to mechanically operate an election we had to have governmental representatives. So we chose them according to districts. We had number one was the Ketchikan and Hyder. Number two was Wrangell and Petersburg. Number three was Sitka. Number four was Juneau. Number five was Haines and Skagway and so forth, 22 of them, blanketing the state.
And we decided on a convention of 55 members because that would give us an opportunity to have better spread. Forty-eight of those members were elected from those 22 – from those districts, but there was one district at large. So seven of the members ran at large over the whole territory. They were people like Ralph Rivers and his brother Vic Rivers, who were well known. Ralph had been the Attorney General elected territorial wide and Vic had been the President of the Senate. And there were four or five others that ran at large, but the net result was that the convention was the most representative body that had ever been assembled in a governmental function in Alaska. We had people from Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, Haines, Valdez, Cordova, Kodiak, Seward, Dillingham, Palmer, Unalakleet, Nome, Kotzebue, far and away – the most representative group that had ever assembled for a governmental purpose. Today you couldn’t do that because the Supreme Court decision in Baker vs. Carr determined that for an election to state legislatures one man – one vote. The districts have to have drawing of equal populations within a small percentage and it would not be possible to have that kind of a body assembled, but at that time it was and that was a critical function – a critical aspect of the success of the convention because the people at large knew that they had representatives participating in the decisions that were made there.
And then other critical aspects of this bill and if you want to understand the convention you really need to be familiar with Chapter 46 of the session on (inaudible). And compare its terms with terms of the bill for statehood that had been pending in the congress and had been written by staff people in Washington that didn’t really understand political situation in Alaska.
This – well for example that bill that had been pending in the congress would have had the convention only 60 days. No opportunity for a recess to go back and talk with the constituents. And it would have convened in about three months. There wouldn’t have been time for pre-convention studies. There wouldn’t have been time to assemble a staff of consultants to sit with the delegates and help to educate them on possibilities. Not on what they should do but what they could do, what had been done in other jurisdiction. And we scheduled the convention to convene in November after this bill became law in March. So there was about eight months to do the preparation.
In light of this bill and I basically wrote it, I was dealing with a man named Ken Johnson. Ken Johnson was the chairman of the house committee on finance. We had to get money and I worked closely with him. And he said we can get you $350,000 and there was $80,000 left in the coffers of the statehood committee.
So he went to Bob Atwood and said look I’ll give you $350,000; you can use the $80,000 that you have, if you make Stewart the Executive Director of the committee and let him set up the pre-convention studies. So I became the Executive Director of the Statehood Committee and my office – I say my office, I had one secretary, oversaw the preparation of the pre-convention studies. I wanted to go out and hire people that we selected from this University or that University, people that we – I could feel were going to work with Alaskans. Atwood had a different idea.
And I had a telegram from him, representative from Public Administration Service in Chicago will be in Juneau next week and they are going to do the pre-convention studies. Well in retrospect Bob Atwood was right and I was wrong cause we would have had the time and the expertise together with that group of people. PAS was in the business of doing this kind of thing. They had done it for states. They had done it for cities. They had done it for other nations.
And the man they sent was a man named John Cochran, who was very experienced. And John and I immediately hit it off and he assembled a staff, some people from Brookings, from various Universities. For example he had a man named – I don’t remember the name at the moment. I’ll think of it in a minute. And set them to work July, August, September, October drafting this three-volume set of studies of state constitutions. In the meantime they wrote articles to newspapers detailing what the convention was going to face so that the populace in March would have a better idea of what a Constitutional Convention was about and how they would function.
Cochran went to Atwood and said I think you better send Stewart to Hawaii because the Hawaiians had written a constitution in 1950 when they thought they were going to be admitted that year. They did get their bill did pass the house, but it got stymied in the senate. But they had a convention. So I went out there. They had an old fashion wire recording. Some of their leading delegates critiquing their convention. I met with those people in Hawaii.
When I got off the plane the whole committee, Hawaiian Statehood Commission it was called, was out on the tarmac to greet me. And their first question was you’re not trying to get ahead of us are you? They expected to be the 49th state.
Terence: And Judge just to let you know it is about twenty-five to one so we will 15, 20 minutes and then we will. Okay.
Judge: Well, as I say, they sent me to Hawaii and I was out there for about 10 days meeting with the leaders of their convention. And I learned some useful things. I learned for example don’t establish a committee except for a major element of the constitution. If you have committees that don’t focus on the basic structure of the constitution you get material in the document that doesn’t belong there or be left to legislation. I was able to come back and tell the delegates don’t create too many committees. Anyhow –
Terence: And that probably helped keeping it trim, I mean, right?
Judge: It did.
Terence: That’s the basic goal.
Judge: And when the convention assembled we had published this three volume set of studies and it was done on an old A. B. Dick mimeograph machine, bound in a paper cover. And the committees – I’ll say one other thing
Cochran was a very perceptive, knowledgeable man. He is no longer alive. And he and I went to Fairbanks about a week before the convention because one of my responsibilities was to see that the facilities were there and I had been dealing with Ernest Paddock, who was a mining engineer and worked for my father and I had known him for many years. And they were building what was a student union building that seemed to be well adapted to the convention and open space on the ground floor and second floor it had the food serving facilities and it had small offices upstairs so that those were committee rooms and office of the president and my office as the secretary.
So Cochran and I had a room together downtown in Fairbanks in the Polaris Building. And he said you know we should – the convention should have a whole set of rules. I said well John I don’t have any time and the ability to sit down and draft the rules. So he sat down and drafted a proposed set of rules. And he drafted 11 motions elected a temporary president, temporary vice-president, forming a committee on committees and various additional motions. And we passed them out to people that we knew among the delegates so they quickly organized. They organized very rapidly. And then when the committees were determined each committee took the volume – those three volumes and focused on the material in them that dealt with the subject matter of that particular committee. So the delegates got a good overall view of what they had to do instead of coming in there wringing their hands and saying I want to talk about this in a very disorganized fashion. It was well organized and within a week the whole convention was organized, structured, and ready to go.
There was a question about consultants. On the way back from Hawaii I went to the University of Colorado at Boulder. There was a national meeting of the American Political Science Association. And I had the names of several of the leaders of that organization. And I said I would like to find the names of people that can be consultants for natural resources, for elections, for the executive branch, for the legislative branch, for the judicial branch and so forth. So I canvassed about 30 or 40 people at that meeting. And said now I don’t have any authority to hire you, but would you be willing to consider coming to Alaska in the middle of winter and spending a week or two or three or more as a consultant to the committee in your specialty. And I got a list of about 30 or 35 names. And I brought back and was able to give that to the committees and let them take their choice from people that had promised yes they would come if the convention decided to hire them.
I ran into opposition from a man named George McLaughlin. George McLaughlin was a lawyer that I had known for years in Anchorage, prominent lawyer. The McLaughlin Juvenile Center is named for him. And he was the chairman of the committee on the judiciary and one of the members of the committee on the judiciary was a man named Irvin Metcalf, who was a man he and his wife had a small mom and pop grocery on the outskirts of Seward.
But Irv had been the United States deputy marshal and as an Assistant Attorney General I had some business out in that part of the world, Kenai Lake. And Irv and I got well acquainted. He had gone two years to the University of Washington Law School, but he didn’t complete the program. He had to come back. And he came to me and he said our committee on the judiciary is discussing whether we should have a consultant, what do you think? I said well Irv would you read a book about judicial administration and the organization of courts? And he said of course I would. Well I said the man who is listed here whose name is Shelton Elliott co-authored with the Chief Justice Arthur T. Vanderbilt of New Jersey a book called Modern Judicial Administration. How would you like to have the author of the book here to tell you why he wrote this instead of that? And he said well you put it that way yes. And McLaughlin had come with a draft judicial article and he thought he knew it all and was objecting and he knew that I was promoting bringing in a consultant. The committee voted four to three to hire the consultant. So I got in touch with Joe Donnelly and told him to come ahead at such and such date.
And when he was coming I went to George McLaughlin and I said George you don’t know Shelton, but I do and he is a lovely man and he is a fine gentleman and why don’t we both go to the airport and I’ll introduce you. We got there and I said – I introduced them and I said I’m sorry gentleman but I’ve got something else I’ve got to do and so you two can talk and I’ll leave. So I left George with Shelton Elliott and within the hour they were like that.
And Shelton had a great deal to do with the ultimate structure of the judiciary, which is modeled basically after the New Jersey system that Arthur T. Vanderbilt had engineered when they had their convention in 1946. And that sort of broke the ice and virtually all the committees got expert academic people to come and consult with them for a week or two or three as the case may be.
Terence: And all in addition to the PAS reports, right. I mean this additional to that?
Terence: I mean you had your PAS report on this?
Judge: Oh, yes.
Terence: That’s right, yeah.
Judge: But these were not the people that had written that document. These were other people that came to deal with it. And one of the leaders was a man named John Bebout. John was a specialist in local government. And I took him and there was another specialist in local government named Welton Cooper from the University of West Virginia. And I traveled around the territory with him in the summer of ’55. We went to Kotzebue. He wanted to go to a village to see how they operated local government there. at Nome; of course Anchorage and Fairbanks, and talked with the majors and members of the city councils, got an idea of what was in their minds about local government. And Bebout stayed for the whole convention and he had with the national organization for local government. I’ve forgotten the title of it now and was very influential. Talked to Vic Fisher and I think Vic was the chairman of the committee on local governments and Bebout was his right-hand man.
So all of these factors which we put into this bill could happen in my judgment were critical to the ultimate success of that convention, which was a smashing success. We had given them 75 days instead of 60 days, so they could have a 15 day recess over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, go back to their home communities and talk with their local constituents about what they were doing and it met an acceptance of the ultimate work product that might not otherwise have happened as successfully.
When it came to the organization of the convention in November I had not anticipated – I of course was executive officer of the statehood committee and I hadn’t anticipated being an officer of the convention. I was not a delegate. My father was a delegate, but I was not. And Cochran came to me and he said you should be the secretary of this convention, in charge of its administration.
Well another person also ran, a woman named Kathryn Payly Hurley. She wasn’t Katie Hurley. She was Katie Alexander at that time. She had been the secretary of the senate and so she ran too. And I was elected to be the secretary of the convention so I resigned as executive officer of the statehood committee and served as the secretary of the convention in charge of all the administrative aspects – getting these consultants to come, arranging their travel, arranging all the physical space, all the details and structure of that convention.
Maybe this is a good time to take a break.
Judge: You might be interested in this Terrence, this over here.
Terence: Yeah I think Judge we were talking about the organization of the convention and you mentioned that Katie Hurley – what exactly then was her position?
Judge: I had hired her to be the chief clerk and basically what the chief clerk did was sit at the plenary sessions where everybody was there and kept a record of their actions. What propositions were submitted. What the votes were on them. About like what the secretary of the senate would do which she had experience at that. She wasn’t Katie Hurley. She was married to a man named Joe Alexander and then Hurley was one of the delegates to the convention. He was from Palmer and they romanced and she might have been divorced from Alexander and married Jim Hurley.
Terence: Now you know just to sort of backtrack just briefly. Maybe you could just tell us a little bit too when you met your wife cause you got married about that time, right? What the time of the convention?
Judge: Well, during the convention. I met her probably in about 19 – late ’53 or early ’54. I was interested in renewing the ability to play the piano a little bit and she was the most prominent piano teacher in Juneau. So I talked with her about taking some piano lessons and I got some other lessons. I had not been married before. She had been married previously and she had four children. So for the next year or so we dated and did things with the children and I enjoyed the children and they seemed to enjoy being with me.
When I asked her to marry me, which was probably in well maybe George Rogers told you, that a doctor in Fairbanks told me that he thought that I might have a heart problem because I was working long hours, a lot of stress, and I began to get pains in my chest. I had a very dear friend, a first cousin, at the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. His name was Caleb Stone and when I was at the University I had spent a lot of time with him and his wife. And he had a doctor friend who was a heart specialist. As a matter of fact he had come up here and taken the electrocardiogram of a whale as part of his research on hearts and stayed with me.
And so I went to the Virginia Mason Hospital and they did a lot of tests and my cousin said to me your heart problem is that lady. So I came back and I asked her to marry me and she decided that she should consult with the four children. And she had been dating another fellow as well, as a matter of a fact a couple of them. One of them is the fellow who did the Stewart bowl. So she asked the children if she were to remarry, she’d already accepted me basically. If she were to remarry, should it be I or the other fellow. And the oldest girl said Tom, the second girl said the other fellow, and the third girl said Tom. Those three girls were 9, 7, and 5. And the three-year-old boy, when she asked him, said Gene Autry. Anyhow –
Terence: So I guess she didn’t married to Gene Autry?
Judge: No, not to my – she might have been better off, certainly would have been far better off financially.
Terence: You won the election, that was good.
Judge: So I came down, I was in Fairbanks of course for the convention and Ernest Patty, the President of the University, who had been an old friend, I had worked with him closely in getting the physical arrangements for the convention in that building, which is now called Constitution Hall. It was built to be as kind of a student union building. And so we planned to be married at the convention while it was still in recess and he gave us the use of his home, beautiful home of the President, because he was very well to do and he had a similar home in Seattle and he and his wife were going to go to Seattle where they had a son for the Christmas holidays.
So I came down here and spent Christmas with my – with those children and Jane and then she and I traveled to Anchorage. And we were to be married by a man named Fred McGinnis. Fred McGinnis had been the Pastor of the Methodist Church in Juneau, very, very competent, bright fellow. And he and his wife were good friends of Jane’s and he was a good friend of mine too. And made the arrangements for him to do the wedding. Flew to Anchorage, there was a big snowstorm, and he was isolated in Kodiak. So we called the Methodist minister in Fairbanks and said there is this couple that I would like you to perform the wedding for them. And the man said well I haven’t had any opportunity to counsel with them and the woman has been divorced. I’m the Superintendent of the Church, you perform the wedding. So we got on the train, went to Fairbanks and our friend Fred McGinnis was stuck in Kodiak. And I don’t remember the name of the man that did the wedding in the President’s home. My parents were there and my sister, a very dear friend from here that I had been skiing with and had been living with me before Jane and I courted. That was the wedding party and we stayed in the home for a week. And she came back to take care of the four children and shortly after the convention ended I arranged with the ex-husband to adopt them and he didn’t object. So I adopted them in the spring of ’56. And reared from that point.
Terence: And what are the names of the kids?
Judge: Rebecca was the eldest and Donna and Elizabeth and Stephen – S-T-E-P-H-E-N. And he lives in Anchorage. He was chief pilot for Rust Air Service and then he wanted to get with the FAA as a flight inspector, but he had to have the qualifications that flying Beavers and Otters didn’t give him. Instrument rating, multi-engine rating. So about four years ago he went to work for Northern Air Cargo. He was co-pilot on a DC-6 and got an instrument rating and a multi-engine rating and about a week after September 11, 2001 the FAA offered him a job and he has been a flight inspector since then.
Terence: What about Donna? I went to school with her just briefly. She was in school at Fairbanks, right, wasn’t?
Judge: Yes, she used to play a flute in the orchestra up there and she was kind of a perennial student. She was there for about six years. She and I are quite close. She lives in Mill Valley, California and I – every summer she comes up and I take her on little trip. Let’s see three years ago we went to Glacier Bay. Two years ago we went to – down to Petersburg and to the Laconte Glacier. Went out on a boat with a former principal of a high school down there who was well known for his productions of Shakespeare plays and he had a trawler and he trawled for shrimp and he – the boat was also rigged for gill netting. We went out on the boat and hauled his traps and trawled for a load of shrimp and then cooked them on the boat and ate them right out of the sea. Donna and I had a good time there.
And then this last year, this last June, I gave her an alternative. We could – I have begun a good friend of Jay Hammond, former governor. We were different political parties so we weren’t that friendly when we were both in the legislature, but the man next door here – his name is Kent Dawson. He’s a former chief of staff for Hammond when Hammond was governor and Jay would come down and stay with him. Well the general symphony was doing a production of Copeland’s Portrait of Lincoln. You know what that music is?
Judge: Well, it’s music and – but there has to be a speaker who recites writings of Lincoln’s and they wanted Jay –
Terence: Is that Carl Sandberg, is that?
Terence: Is it Carl Sandberg? Does he use some of Carl Sandberg’s biography? I think I’ve heard that recited though. I think I’ve heard it on the radio or something similar.
Judge: Anyhow the symphony here wanted Jay Hammond to do it because he has a resonant booming voice and makes a good recitation. They wanted to rehearse with him and my neighbors who were good friends ordinarily house him but they were doing some renovation and so she called me – Mrs. Dawson – Jennie Dawson and said can you house the Hammonds for a week? And I said sure I’d be delighted. So they came and we became great friends.
And so I’ve been out there and stayed with him at their house at Lake Clark. He has a magnificent layout there, 11 structures, including a beautiful home, all log structures that he built with his own hands. And so whenever he comes to Juneau now he stays here. And I gave Donna the opportunity of going to Lake Clark and spending a few days with the Hammonds or going to Dillingham cause I had not been to Bristol Bay and she had not been. And she opted for the Dillingham. So we went to Dillingham for – and the trip from here was five days up and back.
And we – I have a good friend – you might know him – Mike Davis. He represents the University in Dillingham. But he also has a set net and fishes for sockeye when the run comes in and he brings adult classes here and he asked me and other people to talk about government and I talk with him about the constitution and about the court system and so – and to his class. And so he invited me to come out to Dillingham and stay in a home next to one he has, which we did. And I chartered a plane and we flew all around the Dillingham area, which is pretty scenic to the northwest from it. And the flight around Bristol Bay with where all the seine boats were out. And then she went out fishing with him one day in his boat and helped him haul in sock – fresh sockeye. So we had a good visit in July.
Terence: Well that’s wonderful – that’s great. You’re so lucky with the kids too, that’s really.
Terence: That’s pretty much of a great blessing in your life I guess.
Judge: I have the oldest daughter here right now because my youngest daughter, who was born to our marriage, Jane and I had three children. The oldest of them is my youngest daughter. Her name is Mary and she is clerk in the governor’s – personnel clerk in the governor’s office for many years. And she has – she lived in Manfriend. She is divorced from her husband by whom she had two children. And he is moose hunting out of Anchorage right now and my oldest daughter came to stay with her while he was away. And our second child is the boy who built this stairway. He is a fine, fine carpenter. He went to law school for one term and he didn’t like it. He liked carpentry. So I encouraged him to stick with carpentry.
Terence: Did you tell him to get an honest trade – that’s not what you told him was it?
Judge: He and I are going to rendezvous in Paris this coming Monday and travel through – we’re going to spend two or three days in Normandy and then go down to northern Italy and tour through the Northern Apennines, across the Po Valley and up into the Alps on the route where I fought in World War II. And –
Terence: Will this be Judge – will this be the first time you’ve been back there since the war, the part –
Judge: No, actually I wanted to take my wife there. It’s beautiful country and I was very interested when I was there for six months in the war and so I rented a car from the Budget people here to pick up in Florence. This was 1989 and we arrived in Florence and I called the Budget office and the woman said, yes, sir, we have your car. So I went down there and she said may I see your license, driver’s license and I said of course. And handed it to her and she got a funny look on her face, walked over to her compatriot, came back and said I’m sorry we can’t rent you a car. I said what’s the problem? She says you’re 70 years old and our insurance only goes to 69. She said but there is a place down the street where you can rent a car for $15.00 a day more for insurance. Well $15.00 a day wasn’t bad for what we’re going to be four or five days, so I went down there and I told them I wanted to rent the car and drive it up to Bologna over to Venice, up to Lake Garda and through the hill country in the Apennines and end up at Milan. I wanted to take my wife to LaGasla and turn in the car in Milan. The man said you can’t do that. You have to bring the car back to Florence. Well, I didn’t have time for that. So we had Eurorail passes that I had purchased so we went by train, which was not very satisfactory because in the Northern Apennines the trains go through tunnels. You can’t see the countryside and you can’t stop where you want to stop.
Then about six years ago the Justice of a Supreme Court, who is a resident in Juneau, his name is Carpanetti, Walter Carpanetti and he practiced in my court before he went on the
Judge: I had opportunities to do that but I didn’t like that kind of work. I much preferred working with live people, live cases, rather than sitting up in an office writing opinions. Too much like going to law school. So – but he and his wife are dedicated – they’re devotees – they’re of Tuscany of Northern Italy. He did – about 10 years ago he did a sabbatical there. Took his family and spent a whole year and the children went to their school and learned Italian and he perfected his Italian. He is very fluent in Italian and he wanted to go over the battleground.
Well I had a journal that was written by a very bright corporal in my company named Oliver Andrews. Ollie Andrews taught Latin and French in a girl’s school back East. He didn’t want to be an officer. He wanted to be an enlisted man, but we got to be good friends and he kept a daily journal. And when we – when the hostilities ended on the 2nd of May of ’45, we spent a week or two there and then we moved over to what is called Venezia Giulia. That’s the region between Venice and Trieste. And it used to be Yugoslavia. But in World War II the Yugoslavs were our enemies and the Italians were our allies and the settlement after the war the Italians acquired Venezia Giulia. But Tito’s troops were on the boundary, which was called the Azonzo River. And we were sent over there to keep Tito from coming across the river and taking back that land.
But in the treaty after World War II where the Italians were are enemies, along with the Germans, and the Yugoslavs were our allies, the new treaty gave that land back to Yugoslavia. Anyhow we settled in a little village there called Pudzo to hold off, which is right on the edge of the river, to hold off the Yugoslavs from coming across it. And this corporal sat down and got a hold of a typewriter and typed up this journal, complete journal, very well written, very detailed. So Bud Carpanetti, Justice Carpanetti and I went back there about six years ago. I had the journal in my lap and he was driving the little car that we rented and we followed day by day the route that we fought through northern Italy. And he wants very much to show that to his wife and his daughters.
At the same time there’s a lieutenant from my company named Rocko Sacilliano and you can make some evaluation of Rocko’s status. He lives on North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, been very successful in his career. He was a personal assistant to Eisenhower when Eisenhower was the President and he was the Assistant Secretary of Labor in the first Eisenhower administration and then he was the Undersecretary of Commerce in the first Nixon administration, but he got out before Watergate and became Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of a company called Tycor – T-Y-C-O-R, which was a nationwide title insurance company. He ran that company and did other successful things, but he has never gone back.
And so we made an agreement to go back in May when the Tet Mountain Veteran Association made its every third year return to Italy and just about the time we were ready to leave his wife became seriously ill and he had to cancel so I canceled. And now he is going to join us on this trip. He and his son, my son and I, are going to meet him in Paris and spend three days in Normandy, driving around the scenes of the landing there, then rendezvous with the Carpenetti party in Milan – fly from Paris to Milan and spend six days driving again the routes that are battalion fought through the North Apennines, across the Po Valley. My battalion was the first unit to cross the Po River, just shortly before the surrender. We got across the river and there were 250,000 Germans behind us and we were going up the highway to the Brennar Pass to seal off their escape route. And we got up to the head of them, along with the Guard, Lake Garda, which is a beautiful alpine lake and that is where the surrender came.
Terence: When did you arrive Judge – when did your unit arrive in Italy in December of ’44, is that right at the time of the –
Judge: Yeah, it was either the last two or three days of December or the first two or three days of January.
Terence: And where did you ashore I mean lower Italy had been sort of pretty well controlled by then, right, I mean, where did you go?
Judge: Oh, yeah, yeah. The Germans had after they gave up the line in Rome they pulled back to the Apennines and fortified the Apennines all the way across from the Adriatic to the other sea and very strong fortifications. And the Americans tried two or three times unsuccessfully to break that line and then we came in there and we did break the line. We had an excellent general, won the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War I and –
Terence: What was his name?
Judge: Hays. George Hays – H-A-Y-S. And one of the key points that the Germans had fortified and twice the Americans took it and the Germans counterattacked and took it back from them. There is a feature called Mount Balvadere and it sets athwart two of the main routes from south of the Apennines through the Apennines to the Po and of course the Germans were using the Po because it was great farmland and they were getting a lot of their food supplies from there. And Mussolini had gone up and had a new capitol as it were in a place called Salo, on the west bank of Lake Garda. And so that – it was controlled by the axis powers and Mount Balvadere sits here and over here there’s a ridge called Riva Ridge. It is very steep and rocky on the face of it. And the Germans occupied that ridge and it had perfect observation of the face of Balvadere. So when the American troops went up Balvadere, the Germans could call down there artillery, seeing exactly where the Americans were. And Hays recognized that situation and we had some pretty good rock climbers. So in the middle of the night they climbed the rocky cliffs of Riva Ridge and totally surprised the Germans that were on top and wiped them out; 75 to 100 men up there – Germans. And this battalion from the 86th Infantry Mountain Men Regimen of our division climbed that rocky face, which the Germans thought was impossible. Climbed it at nighttime quietly, fixed ropes so that the troops that weren’t climbers could make their way up and secured it and the next day we went up Balvadere without that observation. And the Germans counterattacked again, but we were successful in driving them off.
Judge: You asked me if I had been back. I went back with my wife, with Carpanetti and now he wants to show his wife and his daughter and my son wants to see it and my lieutenant friend and his son, who is a bank president in San Diego, want to see it, so.
Terence: Well I can understand why. It sounds like it is going to be really great. You guys –
Terence: So Judge so what does it feel like though going back I mean you must view with really usually emotions isn’t it, in a way, seeing that and stuff is that?
Judge: Well, it is of course I was seldom on the front line. I was usually about 300 yards back cause I was a company commander of First Battalion Headquarters Company and I had a communications platoon that maintained our communications out to the rifle companies in the battalion and I had a weapons platoon that had had 75-mm Pack Howitzers that you could break down and load in pieces on new packs that could go where they couldn’t take cars and that was the platoon that my friend who was the lieutenant commanded and then I had a supply – we distributed the supplies to the units- food, ammunition, and so forth.
My job was to protect, to provide parameter defense for the battalion headquarters which was the communications central and the battalion headquarters was usually about 300 yards back of the actual fighting front. I got into some pretty hot action, especially crossing the Po River, a lot of shrapnel splattering around. My communications sergeant was lying in a ditch next to me and the shrapnel was – the shells were exploding in the trees above us and he gave a yelp and a piece of shrapnel just about severed his wrist. And his wrist – his hand was about a foot from my head. If it had been another foot, it would have gone – that would have been the end of me.
But I didn’t – I was not like a platoon leader who was out in front of his platoon on the front line. I saw a lot of blood and gore in the course of our progress, but I wasn’t in as bloody a situation as the rifle companies.
Terence: Did – is it easy or difficult to talk about it with like your son and stuff? I mean do they – I mean how is it –
Judge: It’s not difficult for me but I haven’t talked with them a great deal about it. They haven’t asked about it.
Terence: I bet they will after this trip.
Judge: My son might yeah a little more.
Terence: So did – I don’t know much about your – the mountain divisions operations in Italy so did you – wasn’t there some part that did involve some skiing in high up?
Judge: Only one action on skis. It is a place called Gratigliano and there is a fairly steep wall narrow valley kind of like the Gold Creek up here, but not quite as steep as Mt. Juneau. And at the head of it there is an area called I’m not certain whether the correct pronunciation in Italian is Abitone or Abitone’ and it’s rocky mountainous countries. As a matter of fact it is where the Duke of Abruzzi (?) – The Duke of the Abruzzi was a famous Italian mountaineer in the early part of the 20th Century, who made the first climb of Mt. Saint Elias. That book there is about him. And he did a lot of his climbing in the region of Abitone. And the Germans occupied the high ground and our operation was what you call a combat patrol. That’s to be distinguished from a reconnaissance patrol.
Reconnaissance patrol is usually about a squad of men, 8 to 10 or 12 men, who go out at night and crawl around or sneak around and try to locate enemy positions close at hand and spot them so that efforts can be made to eliminate them with artillery or whatever, mortars. Combat patrol is a patrol in strength, a whole battalion is – goes out prepared to fight in the daytime and approaches the area that the enemy is known to occupy and probes that strength with strength on our side too.
Well this was in February, early February of ’55 and the mountain side was pretty well covered with snow, about three feet of snow and the troops moved out, battalion close to a thousand men in white uniforms, on skis, and moved up this valley on this slope. I was on the opposite slope. There was a villa over there, four story villa, privately owned structure, and the regimental commander was there, full colonel and my battalion commander or lieutenant colonel and numbers of the staff officers from the battalion and from the regiment. There must have been a dozen of us up on the top floor of that building with field glasses watching this operation.
The Germans had observers dug in the snow. Our people skied right over them and they called down artillery fire from behind. They could tell exactly where the – by radio they could tell exactly to the artillery people – their artillery people where their shells were landing, what they needed to do to adjust their range. And we got the pants beaten off of us. We found out where the strength was, but we didn’t take it.
Terence: And then in operation was that the only one really on skis that –
Judge: The only one I ever saw on skis.
Terence: I see.
Judge: The more spectacular one was that night climb of Rever Ridge, which was – went down in the annuls of mountain fighting.
Terence: Well let me ask you this Judge, switch gears a little bit. How did this – these experiences in the war shape your feelings about you know life and what you wanted out of life, you know when you came back I mean?
Judge: Life is fragile. It can end at any moment from an accident. If you’re in war from the metal flying around in the air. I don’t worry about death. I saw lots of death. Happens to everybody. Not long from now it’s going to happen to me and it doesn’t bother me. I don’t grieve. My youngest son was killed in a skiing accident in 1986 down in – he was going to Southern Oregon State College at Ashland skiing on Mt. Ashland. He was a good skier, powerful skier, 24 years old and he came down a north facing slope in the springtime in March and the sun was warm but it wasn’t hitting directly on that slope, so it was fast, dry snow. He got to the bottom and there was a road that led back to the lift. And it was in the sun and the wet heavy spring snow. He came to the mountain too fast – came down the mountain too fast, swung his turn and couldn’t quite make it and went off into the trees and it killed him. Not instantly, he was – he skied off the trees.
I was there the next day and I could see the marks where his skis had cut the tree bark. When he hit (smack) tremendous force that his brain was shaken inside the skull and bruised throughout. I had seven neurosurgeons look at him, independent neurosurgeons, all said no chance; he’ll never come out of the coma. I spent the next month trying to persuade the hospital to let – to take the life support away and let him go. And I had a hard time persuading. This was before the Karen Quinlan case before the Supreme Court ruled that it was legitimate to do that and the hospitals were afraid that we might sue them or something, which we didn’t have any intention of doing. Then after they finally agreed to – of a regimen that would let him go, he was so young and strong that it took three weeks before he died. So we sat there almost three months and watched him die.
You know and it is not easy but I saw so many people die and it wasn’t that bad. I watched my wife die. She was seven years, almost seven years in the Pioneer Home and I fed her every day lunch and at supper. She didn’t know how to use a fork or spoon. She had dementia and so I watched her go. And it doesn’t disturb me. It’s a natural part of life to die.
Terence: But it has certainly given you a different perspective on valuing life when you have it, so right, that’s the – how did your wife take your son’s death? That must have been really tough for her.
Judge: I think she took it harder. That’s about the time that the dementia began to develop.
Terence: Yeah, well I guess the experience like the war obviously changes people doesn’t it though? I mean you were a different person when you came back weren’t you, is that fair to say?
Judge: Why sure. I’m sure.
Robert: I’m wondering to kind of going back you know how it is has been said World War II Veterans are the greatest generation, but it seems to me that some of the spirit, can do spirit that informed the war effort must have gone into the statehood effort as well that the people involved there maybe had seen so much but had realized they had the can do attitude to make a state.
Judge: Could be you know. I guess it could be said I threw myself into that effort. And as a result you saw what Gruening wrote. I wrote something.
Terence: Tom, could we have you – let me.
Judge: You know we used to as a territory if we wanted some official expression to the President or the Congress we had to write a memorial asking them to do something and it isn’t very long – maybe I should read it. It is House Joint Memorial Number 1 passed by the House January 25, 1955 and by the Senate February 8th. It is addressed to the Honorable Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States who was not especially in favor of statement and to the Congress of the United States.
In memorial of the legislature of the Territory of Alaska in 22nd Session assembled respectfully submits that:
We representatives of the citizens of Alaska again appeal to you the duly constituted representatives of all the people of the United States that you may recognize us and our constituency as equal citizens under the democratic flag of America. We remind you again that the people of Alaska have demonstrated with all their history their territorial status, their inherence to the principles upon which the government of the United States was founded and remind you by referendum and by acclamation through our land an overwhelming majority of our people have declared unequivocally their desire for statement and the right of a free people to govern themselves. We recall to you that your own electors through the platforms of the major political parties and by their popular accord have given you a mandate for statement for Alaska and therefore we ask that you collectively and as individuals dismiss all partisan concerns, look only to the merits of our cause, recognizing correctly injustice we suffer in not being allowed to govern ourselves or participate in the election of the President or having voting representation in the Congress, all of which may be cured by enabling immediate statehood for Alaska your memorialists ever pray.
I wrote that – that’s the way I felt at the time.
Terence: Now that’s very eloquent too cause that sort of – cause that’s an idealistic cause isn’t it, I mean it really was.
Judge: It was.
Terence:It was a great sense of mission.
Terence: That you obviously felt too.
Judge: But you know there are some aspects of what the convention did. There was an unlikely individual by the name of George H. Lee Lehleitner – L-E-H-L-E-I-T-N-E-R. George Lee Lehleitner had been a Naval commander in World War II assigned in Hawaii and he had gotten to know Joe Farrington, who was the delegate to Congress from Hawaii as Bartlett was from Alaska and become friends with him.
And after the end of the war, World War – I say the war, World War II, he decided that his country had been very good to him. He was a successful businessman in New Orleans. He was a board member of the Armstrong Cork Company and had a kind of a monopoly on the distributorship of Armstrong flooring products through the whole state of Louisiana. And he was a friend of the Long family. Huey Long and his brother who was a -I’ve forgotten his first name, member of the senate.
Terence: Is it Russell Long, is that?
Judge: No. No. You’re thinking of Senator Russell.
Judge: I’m sure he knew him too.
Judge: It slipped my mind for a moment what his first name was. But so when he got back to Louisiana he wanted – he knew that Hawaii was aspiring for statehood. He didn’t know anything about Alaska. And he through – it was Earl Long – through Senator Earl Long he got the legislative reference service of the Library of Congress to research the history of the admission of states and he found that the last seven territories on the way to becoming a state each of them had elected a provisional delegation to the Congress – two senators and a representative to go to Washington sponsored by the territorial government to lobby for statehood.
He recognized that the process by which legislation gets enacted is – especially in the senate but also in the house is one in which somebody has something they want to do and they contact other members who are their friends and say now if you’ll vote for this proposal for me, you can be sure that I’ll support what you want. And that’s he envisioned these people would do. And he tried to persuade the Hawaiians when they wrote their constitution their convention of 1950 to elect a provisional delegation, then send them to Washington. They could call in every senator and every house member and say I am the duly elected provisional senator or house member from my territory and if you vote for statehood for us, you can be sure that I’ll be back here as a full-fledged member and I’ll support your cause. Vote trading. He tried to persuade the Hawaiians and they determined not to do it.
He never had anything to do with Alaska, but he heard that Alaska was going to have a constitutional convention. So through Joe Farrington, the delegate or rather Farrington had died and through his widow who became the delegate for Hawaii after his death. They were the publishers of the major newspaper in Honolulu. Through her he got acquainted with Bob Bartlett and he said to Bartlett I’d like to go to Alaska and try to persuade the Alaskans to do that. And so Bartlett gave him an introduction. He gave him an introduction to me in Juneau and I had – I collected all the people that were running to be delegates to the convention in this room. There were about 12 or 14 people throughout the northern part of southeast Alaska that came here and he outlined this idea. Well, it was a very novel idea. And people were interested but not particularly persuaded but when the convention assembled he went to Fairbanks, rented quarters and stayed at the convention and promoted this plan. And I was at the I think you might call it a smoke-filled room but it was the session that really decided on specific things to do and there were about 20 of us in that room. Most of them were delegates but I was there. I was an elected officer of the convention. And we discussed it back and forth and we decided yes, let’s do it.
So when the convention sent questions to the people to be voted on there were three questions. The first one was shall the constitution as drafted by the convention be adopted? The second one was called the Alaska Tennessee Plan because Tennessee was the first territory to use this device and shall we elect provisional senators and a house member and send them to Washington as official lobbyists of the Territory of Alaska? Number three shall fish traps be abolished? Because the fish – involved in the invention is a fellow from Petersburg particularly by the name of Elder Lee, who was desperate that – to get rid of fish traps because the fish traps had been mismanaged and were seriously damaging the fishery.
Those three propositions went to the voters in April of ’56 and I don’t remember it was something like 65 to 35 the vote in favor of each of them.
And then there was an election. An Ernest Gruening was elected as provisional senator and Bill Egan was elected a provisional senator. He in the meantime had been the president of the convention and Ralph Rivers, former Attorney General and former member of the legislature was elected to the house.
Well they didn’t have any money to do that so they had to wait for the 57 – this was in April of ’56 the people approved the Alaska Tennessee Plan, but it was a mandate to the legislature of ’57 to appropriate the money to send them. So they did and about April those three went to Washington and set up shop and did exactly what Lehleitner contemplated. They called on all the senators, some of them more than once and all the house members and said you give us statehood and you can be sure that I’ll vote for what you want.
After we became a state I asked Bob Bartlett one day how effective was the Alaska Tennessee Plan? He had never been very enthusiastic about it because those fellows were kind of treading on his toes. That was his territory was to work with the congress and so here came a contingent of three men doing what his job was. He was never very enthusiastic about it. But I asked him the question how effective was it? And his reply was very interesting. He said the Alaska Tennessee Plan neither helped nor hurt the statehood cause. Alaska got statehood when Sam Rayburn changed his mind. Well Sam Rayburn was a very, very powerful Speaker of the House, a southerner, and the southern senators listened to him.
Truman was the first president to advocate statehood for the territories. When he was elected in his own right to be the President in 1948 his State of the State address to the congress included give statehood to these territories. He was a good friend of Sam Rayburn’s and they worked closely together. And I, you know I can’t evaluate it but it is an interesting little aspect of it.
Terence: Well so that’s really fascinating. He was just telling me to stop shaking, not making the camera shake. I didn’t shake it that much did I?
Judge: Let me tell you a couple of little –
Terence: Oh, great, go –
Judge: Let me tell you a couple little anecdotes about the convention that aren’t terribly significant to the substance of it, but they’re kind of interesting.
You know there is no single original copy of the Alaska Constitution. The way – there was a committee, which I sure the legislature had, on style and drafting and after each proposal was adopted by the substantive committee that proposed it, that proposal went to the committee on style and drafting. And they had a wonderful man who was a professor from the Louisiana State University. His name was Kimbrough – K-I-M-B-R-O-U-G-H Owen.
Terence: Maybe if you could just say that again because we might have lost that on with the car.
Judge: His name was Kimbrough Owen and he was the consultant to the committee on style and drafting and the chairman of the committee was a delegate named George Sunborg, who had been the editor of the Fairbanks News-Miner. And he had published a paper of his own here. He was a journalist and (inaudible) books. There is a couple of them up there. He wrote a book about Bonneville Dam and about the biggest dam –
Terence: Grand Coulee.
Judge: Grand Coulee. And he was an expert with the language. So they polished the language and made the language of each article consistent. Where you were talking about a similar kind of action you got the same language in each article. And I can hear him now in his southern accent, the language of the constitution must sing. And so what they did was they worked over these proposals and then they would hand them to me and I would take them to the News-Miner and the News-Miner would print them in galley proofs. And the next morning I would pick up the galley proofs and take them back. So the whole constitution was prepared in print by galley proofs. And when it came time to sign it, over a 100 copies made, identical copies. There were 55 delegates and each of the delegates wanted to take a copy home with them, but there were five copies that were intended for the President, the senate, the house, the Governor’s office, and archives.
And so I lined 60 signature pages on long tables in the planuria – in the hall where they held the planaria sessions. And the delegates lined up alphabetically and walked down the line and signed their names 60 times, actually 61 times because the paper that it was printed on was a very high quality paper, but they wanted a copy done in calligraphy on sheepskin parchment. So we had this signature sheet for that copy as well. And signed their names 60 times. And then I went through all the signature pages –
Terence: That’s – this is great. Copy Judge.
Judge: I’ll tell you about that.
Terence: And I thought one thing too if we get a chance I’d like you to read this too, just read the inscription to Gruening’s book and we might talk a little just more about him too as the –
Judge: Signed copy plus the 61st that sheet genuine sheepskin. And there was a little bit of money left over from the budget and they approved spending $10,000 to have that sheepskin calligraphic copy made. And so I went to I think it is Concord, California right next to Walnut Creek and there was a man whose name it slips my mind at the moment but he was the retired chief calligrapher for the United States Government. And he used to do the Christmas cards for the Roosevelt family. And I took the copy of the constitution and he did the whole thing in calligraphy on sheepskin parchment and it’s in the State Museum here.
And then there were I guess this is good – there were a 100 copies run off. Is there another one down there? There were a 100 copies run off.
Terence: Go ahead and start.
Judge: And so.
Terence: Say how many of the copies are run off.
Judge: I went through all of the signature pages and picked the best one because as they wrote their signatures – there were smudges and blotches of ink and things like that. I picked the best one and the News-Miner ran photocopies of that and so there are 40 copies of the original constitution like that, identical to the ones that were signed except that the signature page is a photocopy page. My signature is on it down there. My father’s signature is on it.
There was some (inaudible) warfare going on in the Democratic Party and the chairman of the committee on administration was Jack Coghill. And we were good friends. We did a lot of work together during the convention, but they decided that only delegates should get the constitution.
One delegate Ralph Robertson, R. E. Robertson, senior partner of the law firm known as Robertson, Monagle and Easton was unhappy with two or three provisions. He was unhappy with the fact that they didn’t put the designation of Juneau as the capitol in the body of the constitution. It was in something called the Schedule of Transitional Measures and he is unhappy with the abolition of fish traps because he represented the companies that processed the fish and he was unhappy with the provisions for direct action, initiative and referendum. He thought initiatives made bad law. They don’t get the consideration that legislation does. In the legislature they don’t have committees that study it, that suggest changes, improvements. None of that happens. Some Joe Blow comes up with an initiative, goes out and gets the signatures and that’s the way it goes if it is adopted. He was unhappy with those things. So about three days before the convention adjourned he wrote a letter of resignation and left town. Came back home to Juneau where he lived.
And the committee on administration made the decision that only delegates should get original copies even though my signature is on it. They didn’t want to give Katie Hurley one, who had worked with the plenary session every day while I was up in my office and they decided not to give me one. The convention adjourned and I stayed on for three or four weeks to wind up the affairs and set up the mechanism for the election, the votes on the propositions, the three propositions. And I said to Bill Egan, Bob Robertson’s copy is here, do you suppose I could have it? He said sure. So I took it and brought it home. And about two years later one of the delegates from Juneau came to my door and rang the doorbell. She said do you have Bob Robertson’s copy of the constitution? And I said yes, the president said that I could have it. She said well he’s going to sign it, which he did. He signed several copies. Several delegates were in town. I think he signed the parchment copy and he signed the copy that I didn’t – the Robertsons were good friends. I didn’t want to anger them so I gave it to them. But my father gave me his. So this is the original signatures.
Terence: That’s beautiful. That’s great. It really is.
Judge: Well that’s the story of why there is no single original constitution there. There are 61 signed copies and there were 40 that were put together that photocopy page.
Terence: Judge, did Robertson sign your dad’s? Did he sign that one?
Judge: I don’t think so, no. I didn’t have it in my possession then and my father gave it to me after that incident occurred.
Terence: What was it like having your dad in the – on the – you must have been very proud of you for sure but –
Judge: If I could find it, but he – Bill never presented it to the delegates and they never acted on it. The delegates never voted on whether his resignation should be accepted so I was pleased that the family had brought him around.
Terence: So what was it like with your dad was that –
Judge: Well it was very nice to have him there. He was elected from Sitka. He had – after he retired I think I told you my brothers and I gave him some money.
Terence: Tell that story though that’s really a great story. So that was after he – in 1949 he retired, right?
Judge: He retired in ’49 and as a matter of fact I wrote – I was an Assistant Attorney General in the summer of ’47 I think it was. I came home from law school and worked for the Attorney General’s office, I guess it was probably ’48. And I wrote a piece of legislation creating the first retirement system. And one of the commissioners, head of one of the departments, fellow by the name of Hank Harmon wasn’t very happy about the way it was financed and got another one. My father retired under the first one and when the second one came out, he and about a dozen others were listed in a bill passed by the legislature that they got X dollars for retirement. Wasn’t very much, like $150 a month or something.
Anyhow my father retired and I came home from law school and lived with him and my stepmother here. I sensed that he was vegetating. Didn’t have something constructive to do. And so I got together with my two brothers. My sisters were not in a situation to be involved and went down to the bank and got a thousand dollar bill and put it on the Christmas tree with a note from my brothers and me saying this is for you to make a trip to Europe. He had never been to Europe.
And so in March of ’51 he and my stepmother went to Halifax and got on a ship and went to Liverpool and they swore they would be back in six months. I saw them the week after they returned and it was two and a half years later. They had a wonderful time. They traveled all over Western Europe. They spent a winter in Spain in a villa that they got for $75 a month which included a couple that cleaned and cooked for them. It was cheaper to be in Spain than it was to be here in this house by far.
And then when he came back it was ’51, ’52, it was the fall of ’53 and the apartment house over in Sitka – one of those apartments that were – there was one built here called the Mendenhall. There were a couple in Anchorage. One is L Street Apartments and one is a building that has been kind of a derelict building down on Fourth Avenue.
Terence: McKay Building?
Judge: McKay Building, yeah Neil McKay bought it at one point. And there was a building like that in Sitka not quite as big. And the people – they got RFC money, that’s the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, federal money, and they defaulted. And they had a year’s opportunity to try and go out and raise the money to pay it off. And so a judge appointed my father to be the receiver on that apartment building in Sitka. So he and my stepmother moved over there in 1954 and he ran the apartment for a year and oversaw a sale of it to different owners. They liked in Sitka so they bought a house and they lived there for the next 12 years, until they (click) at the age of 80 something he was tired of shoveling snow and they moved to Sequim and he lived out his life in Sequim and died at the age of 97-½. But the mind was still functioning.
When he was 95 there was a feature story about him in the local paper in Sequim cause every morning he would walk five miles at the age of 95 and this story featured Ben the walker. Well he got a cancer of the prostate and it rendered him not only incontinent but it disturbed his ability to walk and my stepmother couldn’t handle the situation alone and so she put him in a little nursing home. And it was a neighborhood home not far from their little house in Sequin and my son was taking his flying lessons. The one who is with the FAA now in Anchorage, at Snohomish. And they had a cross-country trip. They flew from Snohomish to Port Angeles, which is about 15 miles north of Sequim. And he drove down to that nursing home and he told me my stepmother was wheeling my father down the corridor in a wheelchair and a rather hefty nurse came from the other direction. And when she got opposite him she made some teasing remark and my son said my father hauled off and whacked her on the bottom. And she said you got pretty good aim and his reply was how could I miss. If you’re doing that at 97-½ there’s still a bit of life there.
Terence: Boy is there ever. That’s great. That’s wonderful.
Terence: So he what was – there was a couple other anecdotes you wanted to tell about the convention too besides no single copy, there was –
Judge: Well I wanted to tell you about that and I wanted to tell you about handwritten telegraphic copy.
Terence: I wanted to ask you too though Judge what date did you get married?
Judge: December 30, 1955.
Terence: And was the ceremony in the president’s house, is that where it was, did they have the ceremony?
Judge: The president’s home.
Judge: In front of his fireplace and my wife and I had memorized our vows. The preacher didn’t have to read it off to us. And as I say it was quite private. It was just my father and my stepmother and my sister, my older sister. My younger sister was in school at Mount Holyoke College. It was too much of a trip for her. And my older sister was living in Portland and she came. And then I had a best man who was a dear friend here, still a dear friend here, and –
Terence: Who was the best man, who was that?
Judge: His name is Arthur Kimball. And my wife’s what do you call it – not the best lady, there’s another name for it.
Terence: Maid of Honor.
Judge: Yeah, that was Doris Ann Bartlett, Bob Bartlett’s daughter, who I had hired to be the librarian for the convention and she was maintaining the library collection for the use of the delegates.
Terence: Where was the library located – that was in Constitution Hall?
Judge: Yeah. Uh-huh. It was just a small library but it had materials that we had assembled about state constitutions.
Terence: Have you been back to the President’s house since then? Have you been –
Judge: I think so and I think there’s a new one now. I don’t think it’s the old –
Terence: He has been up there in Fairbanks.
Judge: He’s retiring now (inaudible).
Terence: Are you going to be in the state in November, are you going to be –
Judge: I’ll be back the 31st (inaudible) of October.
Terence: As (inaudible) mentioned you’ll get this letter from President Hamilton and if you’re able to come on up they’ll pay for the trip and stuff. It would be really – we should do something.
Judge: What will be the event?
Terence: Well essentially it is an advisory group for this project that we’re working on with commemorating the passage –
Judge: I probably would arrange to do that if they paid my way.
Terence: They will, no doubt absolutely.
Judge: I don’t want any money but I don’t want to spend it out of my pocket.
Terence: Absolutely. We’ll hit President Hamilton up for special events, but we’ll maybe we can arrange something at the Jamper’s house too.
Judge: Excuse me.
Terence: Judge, one thing I wanted to ask you was about D. A. Bartlett, George, or Sam, what kind of things, cause we were going to talk to her and she teaches of course she still teaches English up at the University. I don’t know if you’ve seen her in recent years, but she –
Judge: She was a very dear friend of my wife’s and of course she married Burke Riley, who was one of the delegates to the convention and the marriage didn’t sustain. As a matter of fact I think I processed the divorce as a judge. I haven’t seen her for many, many years, but she grew up in the house next door in some of her formative years. And she had a younger sister named Susie. I don’t know where – what has become of Susie, but as I say I haven’t seen her. But if I were to come to Fairbanks I would make it a point to have lunch with her or something.
Terence: We’ll set that up. We’ll make sure. One thing you know we’re going to try to talk to George Sunberg in Seattle in a couple weeks, so did he help. I guess he was the head of you said the which committee was he head of the –
Judge: Well on drafting.
Terence: So, and did that help a lot with his –
Judge: Oh, it helped greatly. It was a very important function and it improved the language I’m sure materially that I think some of the other committees were a little concerned about their making changes, but they attempted never to make substantive changes, only in the matter of expression so that stylistically the constitution came out much better.
Terence: And so everyone sort of appreciated him as a wordsmith I guess?
Judge: I think so.
Terence: Yeah. Let’s talk about Gruening just for a second. And I thought Judge if you might want to read that inscription and –
Judge: Well this is the book called The State of Alaska and on the dust jacket it says a definitive history of America’s northern most frontier by Ernest Gruening, Governor of Alaska 1939 to 1953. One of the last – no not the last – one of the last circumstances that I dealt with him while he was still governor. It was right at the end of the legislative session of ’55. In those days the session was only 60 days long. It was limited by the Organic Act. And they used to have a curious practice of stopping the clock so that the clock didn’t show that 60 days had passed, but usually it would only occupy a day or two.
Well Ernest Gruening wanted to address the senate, make a farewell statement to the senate because Eisenhower had been elected, excuse me. Hinzeman had been appointed and was about to take office and as I say I was an Assistant Attorney General and writing legislation and he got in touch with me and he said would you let me know when I might be invited to speak. Well as I say there was this schism in the Democratic Party. And one of the anti-Gruening Democrats was a man by the name of Howard Lyng – L-Y-N-G from Nome. And he was allied with Helen Monson, the daughter of John Troy who was publishing the Empire and a note was passed to the president of the senate who was a lawyer named Paul Robinson to the effect that Gruening wanted to give a farewell address to the senate and Howard Lyng got up and objected, didn’t think we should do that.
Robinson saved the day. It was about eight o’clock in the morning. They had been meeting all night long. So I called Ernest and said the senate had just voted to ask you to come and speak to them. And so he did. And that was his final message. Anyhow –
Terence: Well –
Judge: After he left office he and his wife had a home which is now a state park. It is about 23 miles out the highway from downtown, a place called right next to what is called Amalga Landing. There is a boat launching facility there. And they had built what was a summer home really. It didn’t have insulation, didn’t have running water, didn’t have central heat, but they lived there for about – they lived there until he became – until he went to Washington as a provisional senator under the Alaska Tennessee Plan. And that had to be in –
Terence: ’56 or ’57.
Judge: ’57 I guess it was yeah, ’57. And he wrote this book out there. He was a scholar. He was a real student and if you read the book you will see it is fully annotated with many references that he studied. But when – I believe that he gave me this copy. And I was moved by his inscription, which says For Tom Stewart. Who has done more than any other of Alaska’s young men to bring the state of Alaska into being. With high esteem and affection and regard the author Ernest Gruening. So I rather value that book.
Terence: Can you tell us Judge why do you think that people hated him so much – I mean the people who did you know?
Judge: Well he was a very outspoken individual you know. After he published this book he published a book which is titled Many Battles because he had many battles with people with a differing political persuasions not necessarily different parties because there was a strong core of anti-Gruening Democrats in Alaska. He was viewed as a – having been sent here by Harold Iccus. When the Stephenson story was true, he wasn’t Iccus wanted him the heck out of town. But he was – he fought the steamship companies, he fought the canneries, and people that were allied with those interests hated him. He was a fine, fine speaker, extemporaneously or when he prepared it, very literate, extremely well read, great command of the language. And if he became your opponent, watch out.
Terence: Well, do you think that you know cause he was obviously in a way a man of modest means wasn’t he you know. When he left the governorship –
Judge: I’ll tell you how he got some of his money. When he went to Washington he lived in a very interesting, not elaborate, but interesting and beautiful stone home in Rock Creek Park, which is a replica of the house in which Corwallis surrendered to Washington, built no nails, dowels, put the wood together with dowels. The way he got that home was when he wrote Mexico and its heritage, which portrayed the revolutionaries in Mexico in a very good light. He was an outspoken liberal and the revolutionaries you know might have had some relationship to communists in the Soviet Union, I don’t know, but his book treated them favorably and the Chicago Tribune, owned by Colonel McCormick, accused him of being a communist sympathizer and the Hearst papers where they were published across the nation also accused him of being a communist sympathizer. And he sued them for libel and he won $50,000 from the Tribune and he won $75,000 from the Hearst papers. But he told me one time that he couldn’t – a lot of that he didn’t collect because he had to have lawyers in every town where the Hearst paper was published and the legal bill was pretty horrific. But this was in the early 1930’s when that kind of money was – meant a lot more than it does today.
Judge: He –
Terence: Oh he kind of got his –
Terence: Judge, if – maybe we could talk a little bit about the natural resources article and the impact that becoming a state has made – you know the difference of our control, maybe the issue of resident versus nonresident control of the resources too if that’s relevant, I’m not sure.
Judge: Well that has been a very significant change, that thing that you mentioned, the resident versus nonresident control because in territorial days the major resources were indeed controlled by nonresidents. Salmon industry, canned salmon because the salmon was marketed by being canned. It was before the days of the freezer ships and sending fresh frozen materials out.
And the same with the mining industry. The mining industry if it is going to be large it requires a lot of capital and the capital basically was not very much available to Alaskans, still isn’t today. You have to go outside the state to get big money by and large, unless your name is Elmer Rasmussen or something like that.
So there have been many, many changes and of course one of the significant ones is senior status of our delegation in the Senate and in the House. Although I’m a Democrat and have been I believe in the two party system being at the root of our democracy, it is undeniable that the seniority that a fellow like Ted Stevens has gained has been tremendous economic boom to Alaska.
Terence: Do you recall the first time you met Ted Stevens when –
Judge: Oh, not specifically, but he was here as a member of the legislature and I didn’t know much about him. I’ve gotten to know him better because after the airplane accident in which his long-time wife and mother of his children was killed, not the mother of all of his children, he married Kathy Bittner and the Bittner family, Bill and Ellie Bittner, were very dear friends of ours. Jane and I and our family lived in Anchorage for about six years, from ’61 to ’67. My wife operated a bookstore there and I was the state court administrator before I was appointed to the bench here. And we made a lot of friends in Anchorage and the Bittner’s were among our very dear friends and still are and I’ve gotten to know Ted better because of his marriage to Kathy Bittner. You know, he was appointed by Hickel when Bob Bartlett suddenly died and been there a long time.
Terence: Do you – could you ever have imagined something like that during territorial days, having a guy like Ted Stevens with the influence that he has gained could that have been imaginable?
Judge: No, but that’s why I wrote that memorial. We need statehood. We need to have representation in the congress.
Terence: I heard one person, one of the other congressmen, once said of Bartlett they said well that’s got a voice, Bartlett’s, but no vote. So was that –
Judge: Well that’s kind of interesting. When I was at law school at Yale, I met a professor in the undergraduate school who – I’ve forgotten his name now, but he wrote a book about the House of Representatives. And he told me that Bob Bartlett was probably the single most popular member of the House of Representatives, 435 people. And it was a good measure due to Bob’s personality. He was a very likable individual and a very capable individual.
He and Gruening really didn’t get along very well. See he was the Secretary – elected Secretary of Alaska, which is tantamount to what is now called the Lieutenant Governor. But he didn’t have power like the Lieutenant Governor now doesn’t have power. Runs the Office of Elections, that’s about it. But I don’t think he and Gruening hit it off very well when he was Gruening’s second in command. And I don’t think he hit it off very well when he was the Tennessee Plan provisional senator invading Bartlett’s territory. And I don’t know after he became a senator you know he was pretty independent of Bartlett. He and Wayne Morris were the only two senators that voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that authorized Johnson to go into Vietnam. And he elegantly opposed that, Gruening did. He was hugely able man, but feisty and ready to take on a battle if he didn’t agree and was effective at it too.
Terence: How did you sort of feel about when after Heintzleman replaced Gruening, I mean as a Democrat. I mean I always wondered was it – remember the people opposed the statehood. I mean is it fair to say that Heintzleman was opposed to statehood or lukewarm or how would you character –
Judge: He certainly was lukewarm, no more than lukewarm.
Terence: And what sort of rationale behind the people who sort of were opposed to it or were lukewarm, what was their sort of feeling you know?
Judge: Well, as I said, quite a bit of the opposition stemmed from the independence of the canned salmon industry from local control and the mining industry that was financed from outside. The Alaska Juneau Gold Mine, one of the principal financiers was – I can’t remember his name. He was a famous New York stockbroker. The money behind the mining was outside money. The profits left Alaska.
Terence: Would it be any possibility of anything like the Permanent Fund obviously under territorial days there really wouldn’t –
Judge: No. Gruening had a big battle with the Alaska Steamship Company. He felt that their rates were overcharging and it made the high cost of living in Alaska because of the cost of shipping food and finished goods that had to come from outside the state, outside the territory. He details that in his book. I’m sure you know that.
Terence: You know what about the – we’re going to talk a little bit about the natural resources article you said that was unique that talk a little bit about that one.
Judge: Article 8. Common Use. Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use. General authority. The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the state, including land and waters for the maximum benefits of its people.
You won’t find that in any other constitution. Sustained yield, fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands and other replenishable resources belonging to the state shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle subject to preferences among beneficial uses.
Now that language was the subject of Supreme Court decision in State versus McDowell where the court outlawed –
Terence: Rural preference?
Judge: The rural preferences which guaranteed that rural peoples, who are largely Native peoples, subsistence. Look at that last clause. Subject to preferences among beneficial uses. And Jay Rabinowitz was no doubt the finest judicial presence Alaska has ever had dissented in that case. Saying that that clause subject to preferences among beneficial uses was justification, constitutional justification, for the legislature to establish a preference for rural peoples for the uses of fish, wildlife, so forth.
I don’t think when the court made that McDowell decision they sensed the division between the whites and the Natives that was generated by its impact. And if it were to be considered again today, I think they might take a look at Rabinowitz’ dissent and hang the decision on that clause.
Well I don’t know that I need to go through the titles of the sections – State Public Domain, Leases, Sales and Grants, Public Notice. No disposals or leases of state land or interest therein shall be made without prior public notice and other safeguards of the public interest that may be prescribed by law.
Mineral rights, mineral leases, water rights, access to navigable waters.
Terence: Do you think the experience of Alaskans in territorial days is what helped energize that language and make that –
Judge: No question. You know the consultant to that committee was a professor from – I have forgotten what school he was from then. He is now had a career in Indiana State University named Vincent Ostrum. And because my father was a member of that committee and dealing with him on especially the mining aspects of it – mineral rights. They were having a tough time putting together an article, so they had a Sunday session. It was in the basement of a church in Fairbanks and I went to it just as an observer. I think I was the only person other than the committee members who were there. And Ostrum was up at a blackboard and getting suggestions from various delegates, people that represented Alder Lee in the fisheries and I can’t remember his name now, the fellow who ran the F. E. Company, the Fairbanks Exploration, ran the big gold dredges. My father of course who was the – who would have been the mine inspector, Commissioner of Mines for years. I can’t remember whether Bert Riley was on that committee too. And he had been in Gruening’s office and worked with natural resources. I don’t remember whether George Sonborg was on that committee or not. I could find out, not in here.
They all had a lot of background in the management of the resources that their professional lives had been concerned with and kind of pooled together their thoughts and helped that in an outline of this article, which he did on the blackboard that day. And he has told me – I saw him when they came up. He was honored by Hickel’s big banquet for the Institute of the North about six weeks ago. He told me it was virtually a spiritual experience for him to see those men sit down and make his expressions that got codified in the article.
Terence: Judge, can you tell us that again, how Ostrum was describing the experience a little bit.
Judge: Ostrum told me that working with that committee to him was almost a spiritual experience. The depth of understanding that they expressed about the use of the resources remained through his life impressed by that as one of the unique experiences professionally that he has ever had.
Terence: And since natural resources were –
Judge: Hard core –
Terence: – hard core of the state right weren’t they? So in a way I mean I don’t know is that fair to say that in a way that article is at the core of the state?
Judge: I think that’s a fair proposition, yes.
Robert: With all the work you guys did and you were talking about that idea of sending you know proxy representatives to the senate, US, do you think Alaska statehood was a foregone conclusion? Do you think it just had to be or were the political –
Judge: It was not a foregone conclusion. And there had to be a lot of persuasion. The southern senators of course were like Stevens. The south was Democrat and once they got in office they stayed there. And their power in the senate derives from tenure. The longer they are there, the more powerful they become. And they were jealous of that power and they were suspicious of it being invaded by people from a new entity. Well it had an obvious effect of making each vote a little bit less effective cause there were more votes in the senate. No, I don’t think it was a foregone conclusion. I don’t think it would have happened if it hadn’t been for the energy of the likes of Ernest Gruening and Bob Bartlett and people that worked on it.
Terence: How about Judge what do you think would have happened if we hadn’t have gotten statehood? Can you imagine what Alaska would be like to today? I mean what would –
Judge: Puerto Rico is still a territory.
Terence: And how do you think for the average Alaskan, cause of course for now we take it for granted.
Judge: The people by and large I think the bulk of the Alaska population doesn’t have any sense of the limitations of territorial status. I was in a position as – in the Attorney General’s office to perceive it day by day. And vicariously by knowing people like Gruening and my father and Bartlett and I knew Tony Dimond well and his son John Dimond was my contemporary and a very dear friend. We were in law school at the same time. He was at Catholic University in Washington and I was at Yale, but I was – the year that I was taking my Masters in International Studies in Washington, John and I saw a lot of one another.
Terence: What would you say of all those men and yourself, what was the thing that probably was the most grading limitation of territorial life versus now? I don’t know was there any one thing or a couple of things that seem to be lacking, you know, what would it be?
Judge: Well, there is in my view there is considerable lack of depth of understanding of the political process. Failure to recognize the history of American government and how it has been dependent upon basically the two-party system. You have only to look at France before DeGalle, the South American countries, multi-party systems. They can’t summon a majority to govern the country. To get a clear-cut majority if you have a two-party system. It’s a failure to understand that people like the Ralph Nader’s of the world. They would be more effective if they operated within the framework of the party system then trying to establish an independent party that doesn’t command anywhere near a majority.
I once wrote a paper for the use of party members and Bartlett particularly on improving the party system, on making the drafting of platforms a more studied effort to be done by professional people and then to be considered by the party delegates at large for amendment, change, agreement, disagreement. But the drafting process ought to be in the hands of professionals. It doesn’t men you have to be persuaded by their end product but it does mean that the end product is a quality product. And I recommended to them that the party should be reorganized better to produce quality products so that the parties could establish a more independent identity. We stand for A, B, and C and the other party stands for D, E, and F. And distinguish it and the people rather than voting for the popularity or personalities can depend upon the party going to execute this policy, vote on policies rather than on personalities.
Terence: And in a way that is what you were able to achieve with the way the convention was set up?
Judge: That’s right.
Terence: Isn’t that basically that you were able to make the policies more than the personalities cause obviously Gruening with the personality offended so many people, just rubbed them the wrong way obviously you know. I think that is very well put. Judge, what about with Mr. Smeden, C. W. Smeden, did you run into him at all in –
Judge: Yes, I knew Bill Sneden because he owned and ran the Fairbanks News-Miner and they produced this document so I dealt with him and people in his office in getting this printed day by day the gallery proofs to take back to the committee on style and drafting that they could polish up and correct so that when they finished their job there was a finished product. And I worked with Bill and Bill became a very avid proponent of statehood. And he got to be a very good friend of George Lehleitner, the fellow that proposed the Alaska Tennessee Plan. To the end of their days they were good friends.
Terence: Did – that brings up another – Lehleitner did – were you convinced by him right away when you first had that meeting?
Judge: No, the meeting here I was interested but I wasn’t necessarily convinced and when we had that meeting in the smoked filled room in the Polaris Building in the apartment of Barry White, who was a very strong advocate of statehood, used to the President of a group in Anchorage called Operation Statehood that did a lot of work promoting the statehood cause. One of the people there was Hugh Wade and he Hugh Wade was the last Democrat – Secretary of Alaska and he was a very close intimate friend of Bob Bartlett’s. And he spoke against the proposal at that gathering. He was not a delegate. This was not an official body. It was just a group of gathered leaders. What the heck should we do? And he thought that it was kind of a cheap shot like the Hawaiians did and didn’t use it. I suspect myself that it had more effect than Bartlett gave it credit for.
Robert: Do you think your generation in some ways values citizenship more than you know for a lot of Alaskans we don’t even show up to the polls and for us probably the most driving interest is the Permanent Fund dividend check.
Robert: Talk – can you just talk a little bit about that tie of the responsibilities of citizenship and –
Judge: Well, I think in our education system there isn’t enough focus on the political process. People have become enemies of government instead of accepting their individual responsibility to make it work better. You know I think our public today doesn’t really understand government and the suspicions of actions of people that hold office.
Robert: Do you think we would have fought as hard for statehood today?
Judge: Peg you pardon?
Robert: If statement had been delayed let’s say. Let’s say the southern senators had had their way delayed Alaska’s entry, do you think our generation would have been up to the task – I mean we wouldn’t have a Prudhoe Bay would we and I mean what would we have fought as hard for statehood?
Judge: Cause we didn’t have a Prudhoe Bay. We were skating on pretty thin ice on how we were going to pay for – pay the bill. Well, I don’t whether I want to make a judgment about that. You know I can’t quote to you the individual, but many people say basic decisions come about because of leadership of an individual here or there who stands out and pursues a cause. Like Gruening did and Bartlett did too. And effective government is – effective governmental action is dependent upon leadership and we don’t have really very good examples of it I don’t believe in our political life today. There is a lack of strong leaders.
Terence: Well in that –
Judge: Well I told him I would give it serious consideration.
Terence: I hope you do.
Judge: Maybe do it next fall. I don’t have – I’m not in a situation to do it before then. I’ve made commitments for the winter and the spring and the summer.
Terence: But you know he’s absolutely right. I mean I honestly don’t think anyone has thought about this as much as you have. Anyone, no I’m serious about that and they just have not and so I think that would be really valuable.
Judge, if we could talk a little bit about the idea in the Convention of the every 10 years in the Constitution every 10 years – how about that?
Judge: Well, the origin of that concept came before Baker vs. Carr. You’re familiar with Baker vs. Carr? Well, I mentioned it before. That’s the Supreme Court decision that voting for representation in bodies has to be based on one –
Terence: Yeah one – yeah. Yeah, okay, right.
Judge: And the history of the states prior to that and the history of the states at the time that this provision for 10 years was one in which, especially in the senatorial bodies of the bicameral legislatures. The rural population with the geographic representation rather than one man one vote dominated the legislatures and prevented constitutional conventions that would change the apportionment or the rights of members of legislatures. And the large populations of the cities oftentimes were frustrated by the inability to get legislature to go along with what the interests of the majority of the people was and the inability to have a constitutional convention and rewrite their constitutions to enable better representation.
And so our delegates, thanks much to the work done by the consultants saw that they didn’t want our state to be bound up with an impossibility of rewriting a document if it became necessary because of the shifting populations and so they put that provision in there that that problem might not reoccur in Alaska. But one of the big differences is they didn’t have (inaudible) like this one.
California, a thousand pages in their constitution, impossible. California has almost been destroyed as an economy and as a political entity. By Proposition 13, they eliminated their tax base. Now they’re faced with this circus of recall because of the failure of the budget, they can’t tax adequately. This is the danger of direct legislation of initiatives that don’t – that if promoted by money interests, special interests and the people don’t have a chance to contribute.
Terence: Well what would the danger be today if – because it is every 10 years we face this question of having another convention, do you think if we had voted last time to have a convention, what would have been the outcome of that? What do you –
Judge: I’d be very concerned. You couldn’t get the rural representation because of Baker vs. Carr. You go back to just having people just from Anchorage and Fairbanks and Juneau and Ketchikan and Nome.
Terence: Which essential model that to the legislature, almost?
Judge: And the significance of the constitution to the operation of the government would be I think more widely recognized and acted upon by economic interests. Nominating economic interests. Ours didn’t have that domination. There were no lobbyists in Fairbanks, except one and what do you suppose that was? I’ll show you – the only organized group that came and lobbied the convention Article 7 – Health, Education, and Welfare. It is one, two, three, four short paragraphs. The education lobby. The school superintendents came to represent their representatives to Fairbanks and they had a three-page detailed article on education.
The constitution says about education there are three sentences. The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the state and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.
That’s the whole constitution on education. Fundamental basic concept. The details are left to the legislature. The educators who came there would have a three closed typed pages and you can imagine the problems that you would run into if that kept the legislature because it was in the constitution from being able to address the changing scene in the educational world.
There is a separate one and this is partly because of the fact that the convention was sitting in Fairbanks entitled State University. The University of Alaska is hereby established as the State University and constituted a body corporate, shall have title to all real and personal property now or hereafter set aside for or conveyed to it. Its property shall be administered and disposed of according to law and provides for a Board of Regents.
Terence: Why did you say that that sort of way because of it being held there, that gave more –
Judge: Yeah, there were Fairbanks people that were really concerned about the future of the university and wanted to get it written into the fundamental law.
Terence: Like the Juneau people with the capitol, right.
Judge: A little bit like that.
Terence: Judge –
Judge: At that point that was the only higher education institution in Alaska.
Terence: I’m surprised that the miners weren’t there though. Wasn’t the Alaska Miners Association – there was no – they didn’t come?
Judge: Not visibly, nothing like happened with the legislature. Didn’t have high paid lobbyists walking the halls and entertaining the figures.
Terence: But there was no rule against it?
Judge: No, no rules.
Terence: Just –
Judge: It was the remoteness, the middle of the winter. It was a cold winter – 50 below zero. My father walked out – he walked – he was living downtown and he walked to the campus every morning.
Terence: He walked all the way, is that right?
Terence: No, kidding. Well, that’s right, he’s walking –
Judge: He had a big parka and I don’t know that he was waring mukluks. In 1933, when – just about the time my mother died, maybe it was ’34. He was in Nome and the town burned and they didn’t have any other engineers so he had a woman that came and stayed with me and my sister, my younger sister, cause we were in high school. She was in grade school I guess. And he stayed up there and re-surveyed the whole town. And Nome was now laid out with straight streets, wide sidewalks, wide streets, and the people there got together and contributed their old property lines. They drew a whole new map and everybody got a squared off block and more room and the design of Nome stems from that engineering job that my father did after the fire. People contributed their properties and made the community a better place.
Terence: I know you can still see where the fire ended because the streets go down back to 10 feet wide.
Terence: What do you – we’re actually going to go talk to Jim Walsh, Mike Walsh’s son.
Terence: Do you have any memories of Mike at all at that?
Judge: Oh, I certainly do. Mike was a very dear friend of my father’s as a result of my father having been out there for several months and helping them. And you know Mike was elected by a write-in. There was a man out there that was running as a recall for the – to be a delegate to the convention and some how or other he dropped out and I think Mike was elected by about five votes. Something like that. I don’t – that’s not an accurate description but it is accurate as the general happening.
Terence: By a landslide. What did the role of Bill Egan have as far as the president? How would you talk about him?
Judge: Bill was a kind of – Bill was not an intellectual, although he did a lot of reading. He did not have a college education. He was a small town grocer, but he was kind of a consummate politician in a sense. He had an amazing memory for personalities. And he could meet somebody just once and he’d remember. The next time he saw, well hi Jack you know. He was in that sense a consummate politician and he was a very effective presiding officer. People got recognized and heard. He was fair. And occasionally where he had some strong feeling about a proposition I guess he would go down and turn the chair over to somebody else and speak to the proposition in a way that appealed to people. He was a very fair-minded understanding leader and he knew the parliamentary process because he had gone through several legislatures. He had that background in operating within parliamentary rules.
Terence: Was he president of the senate, was that – was he president?
Judge: He was never president of the senate that I know of. He served in the house, then he served in the senate and we were good friends. As I say, we sat down together and decided because of the background I had accomplished traveling to universities and finding out how you structure, how you should run a convention. He was quite amiable to my being the overall chairman of the joint committee, house and senate joint committee on statehood and federal relations. And we had a good working relationship during the convention, but I was seldom downstairs in the plenary sessions. My job was administrative, in the office, organizing as I say bringing in the consultants and getting committee space and getting printed up and so forth.
Terence: Did you ever consider when talking with Dean Patty holding it any other place on campus? Did you think about other buildings or was that the only –
Judge: No, this building was being built. It was brand new and there was a question of whether or not it was going to be ready in time for the convention. But the fact of it was Patty had it clearly in mind that this was where that thing should take place and it was quite admirably suited to a group operating in that way and of that size.
Terence: Whose – who had suggested that it be held there. Do you know? I mean in Fairbanks. Was it Patty? Was it your suggestion?
Judge: I was – I went to Trenton and talked with that delegate, that woman.
Terence: Tell us again cause when you said it before you called it Alaska Agriculture – it was that. It wasn’t that anymore, so you might tell us that again though just –
Judge: Well she said hold your convention at the state university. And I said we don’t have one. We have Alaska Agriculture College and School of Mines. Well she said we had our 46 convention, we had rewrote the New Jersey constitution specially completely reorganized the court system, made a far better –
Judge: Court system then they had had before. And it was a very successful convention and rewriting their constitution and she said it was because we were at the university we were at Rutgers, which is the State University in New Jersey. Instead of in Trenton where they’re entrenched lobbying interests. It should be operating in a more intellectual atmosphere away from those special interest groups.
Terence: Almost like a retreat in a way, wasn’t this?
Terence: I mean in a way.
Judge: Yes. An extended retreat.
Terence: Was this one of the most interesting intellectual challenge in your career would you say I mean in a way or satisfying or is that –
Judge: Looking back on it and I don’t think it had been seriously talked about having the convention in Fairbanks. When I came back from New Jersey and after that discussion with Mrs. Katzenbach I was quite convinced and I took to the committee let’s have the convention in Fairbanks at the University. And they bought it.
Terence: They didn’t complain that it would be in the middle of winter and fifty below, huh?
Judge: Well the delegates weren’t the one that did it. It was the legislative session.
Terence: They were glad to send them up there. Let’s see we did talk with George Rogers yesterday. Would you tell us a little about him and your experience with him in this stuff? What –
Judge: Well George and Jean and I have been very dear friends – see they came here in 1945 when he came as an economist for the Office of Price Administration. It was administering the price controls during and immediately after World War II. And when I came back from the war the fall of ’45, I immediately became acquainted with them and we got to be good friends. They were also very good friends with my wife before I ever knew her. Cause her husband, her first husband, had come here also for the Office of Price Administration and they had social times together. But George has always been a very good friend.
At one point when I was in private law practice he shared my office with me because we were – we had a year long large project, the reorganization of the plywood mill that had been operating here and had gone broke. Henry Roedin, does that name mean anything to you? Well, Henry Roedin was the senior lawyer and he was technically the attorney for the trustee in bankruptcy, but I did the detailed work. And George and Henry shared my office and George and I have had a mutual I would say regard and respect for many, many years.
An interesting incident twice – two different summers, the summer of ’48-’49 and the summer of ‘49-’50. I hiked the Appalachian Trail along the Presidential Range from Canon Mountain over Mount Lincoln, Mount Jefferson, Mount Adams and to Mount Washington. It’s about a 75-mile hike. And one of those two trips my brother was with me and we met two young women on Mount Washington, you know that trail has a hut system and you don’t have to carry food and supplies. You can just take a change of underwear and a swimming suit and 15 pound pack and go off for a 75 mile hike cause every night you arrive at one of these huts that are manned and they have hot food and beds and they send you off with a hot breakfast in the morning and a trail lunch.
And anyhow we went there and my brother and I went off into the woods with these two young ladies. He went one direction and I went another. Well the woman that I was with was a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and she was putting together the New York Herald Tribune Forum. It was held every fall by the Ogden Reed Family that owns the Tribune. They would get maybe 3,000 people at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to come to this forum. And this particular year the forum was on America and Its Resources and Ernest Gruening was going to be one of the speakers talking about Alaska as a great resource of America. And so she and I conversed about this out there in the brush and so she invited me to come down. And she said is there anybody else from Alaska. And I said yes there are two people. There is a lawyer, a woman lawyer named Mildred Herman, who was the Vice President of the convention and she used to go to New York every year for the America Cancer Society. She was there and George was a Litar Fellow at Harvard. And he and I had become good friends before and I told this woman about George.
So George and Mildred and I were invited to the forum to ask Gruening some challenging questions. They were written out in advance. They weren’t spontaneous. It was an interesting gathering. John Forestal, he was First Secretary of Defense was there. And John Weinen, the former Ambassador during the war from America to Britain was there. And Carl Sandburg, the poet, was there. We were all up on this platform, sort of little bleachers arrangement on it. And Gruening spoke and I asked him a question. And George asked him a question, a challenging question about statehood cause this was while I was in law school about 1947, 10 years before statehood.
I had a little interesting experience with Carl Sandburg. There was a party that the Ogden Reed Family gave at the Waldorf Astoria for the distinguished guests like Sandburg and Weinen and Gruening. And Rogers and I and Mildred Herman and a couple of other people that were with us went across Lexington Avenue to a waffle shop. I had to go back to the hotel to get a little check that they were going to give me to pay for my trip on the trip from New Haven to New York and back.
Well as I walked out of the hotel here was Carl Sandburg and we had met when we were on the platform and he was in his (inaudible), feeling no pain. And he was headed for Grand Central Station and so was I. So we walked down the street together and he said what do the people of Alaska think about Ernest Gruening? And I said well there is divided opinion. There are those like I who admire him greatly and they are great supporters, but there are other people that cordially dislike him. And there was silence. And he said here’s the great poet – I think the people of Alaska love him. I get vibrations. I get vibrations. The great poet getting his vibrations all the way from Alaska about Ernest Gruening.
Anyhow George and I have had a long association and I have a lot of respect for him. He is a fine economist and a fine mind. Unfortunately he has had health problems and he is failing as we all do when we get older.
Terence: I thought that it interesting you mentioned Mildred Herman because she is really important isn’t she, I mean as far her role. She was Vice President of the convention?
Judge: She was, yes. She was – I think she was the First Vice President, either she or Frank Barockovich, the Tlingit from Klawock. I practiced law with her. By appointment I was appointed by the court to assist her in the defense of a Native woman in Wrangell who had been accused of murder, murdering her boyfriend or husband or someone. And so I worked very closely with Mildred. She lived just a block down the street here, in that house up on the – above the top of the big wall down by the Governor’s, that was Mildred’s home. She was the first woman admitted to practice law in Alaska. She was a very persuasive person on her feet. She could sway a jury. I wouldn’t say that she was a great legal mind, but she was an effective courtroom lawyer.
Terence: And she was a member of the statehood committee, wasn’t she?
Judge: She was the secretary of the statehood committee and got to be a great friend of Bob Atwood, who was the chairman and they had a lot of cordial regard for one another.
Terence: Now did – what about the role sort of affording statehood? Did that ever –
Judge: Well, that’s –
Terence: Of affording, being able to pay for statehood you know. Was that something that what was sort of your view on that or how did that?
Judge: That didn’t worry me. Gruening had been responsible for getting an income tax passed in 1949 and it was a very modest rate. We could up that.
Terence: Judge, we were talking about the first state senate you –
Judge: First state senate I was elected in the election of 1960, I’m sorry 1958 to the first state senate and I became the chairman of the committee on – the senate committee on state affairs. And what we did primarily was to organize the executive branch with the help of people from Public Administration Service who wrote the legislation that established the executive branch of the government. And I was I would say probably a fiscal conservative, although my general political stance was liberal, I was in that session a fiscal conservative.
In that first session we had commissioned a group and I can’t remember whether – I think George was one of the economists on the group to give us advice on basic policies. Should we bond ourselves? And if so, to what extent? What can we expect to be the source of income for the state to pay for capital expenditures? In the territory we couldn’t bond ourselves? It was prohibited by the Organic Act and capital construction was done through the Public Works Administration, which was a federal office that could approve public works and could issue federal bonds and then they could lease the facility to the territory to pay off costs, but as a territory we couldn’t do capital financing, debt financing.
So as I say, I was a fiscal conservative and the commission came back with a report. For example, not to build a ferry system. And I was a strong proponent of building a ferry system, but I voted against the proposal when it came before the legislature because we had the support of the specialists that said until you have a better handle on your sources of income, you should not bond yourselves for building $60M ferries. And as a result of that and another similar situation I had gone to Seattle on my own and gotten a draft of legislation in support of the labor effort for – what’s the program that pays off people when the job market is down –
Terence: The unemployment – the –
Judge: The unemployment security. And I had gotten new legislation and set up a new program for unemployment security, but the labor leaders – Lou Dystrom particularly, wanted to boost the payment and I and a couple of other leaders in the senate voted against it because we didn’t know where the money was going to come from. It wasn’t that we didn’t think it was a justified increase but how were we going to pay for it?
Terence: And in fact wasn’t it true Judge that the territory had gone broke on the unemployment security administration, right?
Judge: Close to it.
Terence: There was a federal loan I think to cover the –
Judge: Anyhow, I lost a re-election. I won by one vote. And there was a recount and I lost by two. And it stemmed from several things. Number one, I didn’t campaign for myself. I campaigned for John Kennedy. He was running against Nixon and I thought it was much more important that Kennedy should get Electoral College votes. So I campaigned for Kennedy, whom I knew slightly. He’d been up here and I had escorted him around and I lost, but it was because of fiscal conservatism.
Terence: Who did you lose to?
Judge: Alvin Engstrom, not the current Alvin Engstrom, his father, who was a drunk and a whoremonger. He was a friend. I got along with him. We weren’t enemies.
Terence: Was he a Democrat though? Did you lose in the general or the primary?
Judge: This was the general.
Terence: Okay. But I think George was on that committee and we were talking about –
Terence: – yesterday and it said fiscal crisis impending was the headline in the Anchorage Times and Dick Fisher had told us about. He said Egan raised hell with him after this came out, this report. I mean that’s not what Egan wanted did he or he wanted to hear good news you know.
Judge: Yeah. And Egan, the whole ferry system proposal that required bonding to build those ships came out of the last two weeks or three weeks at most of that session, which was a lengthy session and didn’t have 60-day limit. And we met from January to May in order to structure the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch and we framed the Judicial Branch, although we didn’t anticipate it was going to happen that soon, but there were big questions about how we were going to make it and it was long before the discovery of oil. Didn’t have any oil money.
Terence: Yesterday George was telling us he thought the absence of oil lobbyists at Fairbanks, because that was before Swanson River.
Terence: That that was crucial in getting a sound, does that –
Judge: Yeah. That was the fiscal picture.
Terence: Then just the truth is I forgot to ask you about Dick Fisher, but he was crucial with the local government article, wasn’t he, cause his –
Judge: Yes, he was.
Terence: Could you talk about him a little bit and how the little government articles that you know?
Judge: Well local government article has had a large misunderstanding, especially at the beginning, using this term boroughs and having overlapping city and borough governments, which was kind of a political necessity. But it wasn’t understood that that article is a very important one and what it says – Article 10. Vic and I always been close to it and – Section 1. Purpose and Construction. The purpose of this article is to provide for maximum local self-government with a minimum of local government units and to prevent duplication of tax levying jurisdictions. A liberal construction shall be given to the powers of local government.
Now minimum of local government units is one not two. And we had the example of terrible patterns of local government across the nation where there were multiple tax levying jurisdictions, water districts, sewer districts, school districts. In a metropolitan area you’d have 11 separate taxing authorities and no unification on it. And the example of that being corrected was Greater Miami and the people were advising at our convention about local government were warning us that we have to take steps to prevent that happening.
Well they didn’t want to abolish cities per se so they provided for boroughs and that term didn’t have a clear connotation of experience. They knew they didn’t want counties yet they wanted effective local government. So they rather than abolishing cities they created boroughs so that the boundaries of local government would reach beyond the narrow boundaries of the old cities and where a lot of people had moved outside that boundary and got the benefit of city services without paying for it.
Juneau, for example, is the largest municipality – about the largest municipality in America. It is 100 miles long forty miles wide. There is only one government in that area, which makes sense. It takes in power generation, takes in the end of the road, and you meet the objections of the tax people by having service districts. A different tax rate if you’re outside the downtown area and don’t have all the services. Maybe you don’t have sewers or something and they’re taxed at a lower rate. And that’s accommodated. But you look back to that purpose. Maximum local self-government with a minimum of local government units, governmental units.
Terence: Judge, was this an example of trying to chart a new course for the state?
Judge: Yes. And it did, but the people didn’t understand it. For example, in Juneau should they have a borough and a city? And I went to the City Council meeting and said no. Just have a borough because you have a city and a borough you have two government units with competing and they didn’t follow my advice and they created a city and a borough and each of them had an attorney. Those attorneys spent their time fighting the other unit.
And when I came to the court in 1966 a major case I had was between the city and the borough. And I could see that the people were sick and tired of the fighting between the two governmental units. And there was a proposition to consolidate and so I sat on the case, didn’t let it move until after the election and they voted to consolidate and Juneau was the first local area to make sense of local government and eventually Anchorage followed suit. Fairbanks still has it. Ketchikan still has it. They have a big fight about consolidating but it is the only thing that makes sense. It’s maximum local self-government with a minimum of units and the minimum is one not two.
Terence: How would you summarize overall the local article? Has it been a success or a failure, I mean among the articles does that stand out as –
Judge: Well it was misunderstood for a long time and as a result you’ve go this failure to consolidate local governments like San Francisco the city and borough of San Francisco – city and county of San Francisco is one government. And Dade County in Florida, Miami, one Greater Miami. And people in reading this thought that somehow they were getting something if they had both the borough and a city. And what they were getting was a great big headache. And I think there was a failure to understand that at the beginning.
Terence: How did – what was Vic’s role in that article? Was that important what he –
Judge: Oh, it was very important and Vic was the real leader in getting it established and he worked closely with John Bebout and with the consultants that came on local government and he was a major figure.
Terence: You know and then still we have the problem with the unorganized boroughs still I mean right?
Judge: Yeah, and that’s they have understood that and the legislature hasn’t exercised the leadership that it could. They can tax the unorganized and you didn’t have to extend the boundaries of the North Slope Borough clear out 200 miles to Prudhoe and left that one little local government become hugely wealthy. If they had taxed the unorganized borough and had some sort of local government to run it, which is the legislature. It has never been adequately understood nor applied in my judgment.
Terence: Well then one more thing, Judge, and this a little bit off but it is not Judge Wickersham. You said you had met him. I guess you met him when you were a kid, right?
Judge: Well, yeah, I never knew him as an adult really. When I was in high school I used to stop and visit with him on the street corner. And I didn’t have any grasp of his significance in the history of Alaska until I read of it after he died. He was something of a controversial, (sneeze) excuse me, figure. Probably because he was a strong Republican and Alaska had become a Democrat province as it were for the years of the Gruening and Bartlett and their associates.
Terence: In a way I found a letter Gruening once wrote and he said Wickersham was the leading and I think he saw himself in Wickersham a little bit too you know. They had some similarities I would think but there was a letter from Gruening to Bartlett or somebody – no that’s right he was saying Bartlett wasn’t worth a biography. It was an application – it was (inaudible) application for a grant and Gruening wrote this. This is after Bartlett died.
Judge: Oh, really.
Terence: It said yeah, I think Wickersham was the guy so they really had that thing sort of going.
Judge: Well as I say those two fellows were not the best of friends.
Terence: Right, yeah.
Judge: That it?
Terence: I think so. Okay. I want to thank you Judge very much for putting with us.
Judge: You welcome.
Terence: This has been very fascinating.
Judge: I hope it met your expectation to some degree.