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Transcript of interview with Judy Lee (Johnson) Jones by Claytee D. White, February 22, 2007


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In the 1950s and 1960s, the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and Casino featured glamorous showgirls. For a few years, the Houston Chronicle sponsored a contest that added the Texas Copa Girls to the line. In 1958, one of the winners was 17-year-old Judith Lee Johnson. For the "wild" but "naive" Judy, the experience was a period of funfilled freedom, followed by relentless encouragement of others to attend college, which she reluctantly did. To her surprise, she embraced the college life, took her studies seriously, and received an education degree. She also became Miss Houston. Four years later she returned to Las Vegas and the Sands. As she stepped into her role as a showgirl this second time, she was no longer the newbie. She experiences the lifestyle with more maturity. She talks about the celebrities she met, the lasting friendships she formed, performing in the Elvis movie Viva Las Vegas, and her trip around the world, a trip that included her personal dream of going to Paris. Judy shares details of her family heritage and she wonders to what extent she might have been living her mother's dream. Though her love of performance and theatre is keen, Judy channeled her passions into a 29-year career as an educator. She married a Marine in 1965, raised their children, moved with his career. She and her husband, Walter F. Jones, live in Virginia.

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[Transcript of interview with Judy Lee (Johnson) Jones by Claytee D. White, February 22, 2007]. An Interview with Judith Lee Johnson Jones, 2007 February 22. OH-00972. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Judith Lee Johnson Jones An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2007 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Editors: Barbara Tabach and Gloria Homol Transcribers: Kristin Hicks and Laurie Boetcher Interviewers and Project Assistants: Barbara Tabach and Claytee D. White The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer and the Library Advisory Committee. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas Preface In the 1950s and 1960s, the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and Casino featured glamorous showgirls. For a few years, the Houston Chronicle sponsored a contest that added the Texas Copa Girls to the line. In 1958, one of the winners was 17-year-old Judith Lee Johnson. For the “wild” but “naive” Judy, the experience was a period of fun- filled freedom, followed by relentless encouragement of others to attend college, which she reluctantly did. To her surprise, she embraced the college life, took her studies seriously, and received an education degree. She also became Miss Houston. Four years later she returned to Las Vegas and the Sands. As she stepped into her role as a showgirl this second time, she was no longer the newbie. She experiences the lifestyle with more maturity. She talks about the celebrities she met, the lasting friendships she formed, performing in the Elvis movie Viva Las Vegas, and her trip around the world, a trip that included her personal dream of going to Paris. Judy shares details of her family heritage and she wonders to what extent she might have been living her mother’s dream. Though her love of performance and theatre is keen, Judy channeled her passions into a 29-year career as an educator. She married a Marine in 1965, raised their children, moved with his career. She and her husband, Walter F. Jones, live in Virginia. ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER AT UNLV Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Name of Narrator: Name of Interviewer: Use Agreement fh /--ge Jtohnsoft.Jcne^ We, the above named, give to the Oral flistorwResearch Center of UNLV, the recorded interview(s) initiated on Mil an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes a/shall be determined, and transfer to the University ol Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right ol the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Library Special Collections 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7070 (702)895-2222 Today is February 22, 2007. We're in Special Collections at UNLV. And I'm with Judy Johnson. This is Claytee White. So how are you today, Judy? Oh, I'm just wonderful. So happy to be here in Las Vegas. Good. Now, tell me why you're here. I am researching the time that I worked here. I first came here in August of 1958. I won the Houston Chronicle Texas Copa Girl contest. Within a week I was here. I had just graduated from high school and came out here. I hadn't turned 18. I was 17. I had to sit in the magazine section in between shows. I wasn't allowed in the lounge until I turned 18; but it was a good place to be because everyone came over to see how I was doing. And I met Lucille Ball while I was in the magazine section and she was a little bit taller than me I think. I was about five-nine then. She was very business-like, very business-like. Describe the magazine section. Well, I'm trying to find pictures of it. It seems to me that when you came into the hotel it was somewhere to the left and there were postcards and magazines. There must have been a little place to sit because that's where I was unless I was up walking around the casino, which I don't think I was supposed to do that, either. But part of your job, of course, was to sit in between shows and after the 12 o'clock show until two a.m. That's when we could leave. I want to ask you all about that. But first, tell me about the contest. The Texas Copa Girl contest was run by Charlie Evans, who wrote sort of the gossip night column in Houston. I didn't know a thing about it. My mother called me - I was baby-sitting; that was my big job for the summer, and said, "Come on down here; we're going to the Shamrock Hotel and you're going to be in a contest." Well, I resisted. I didn't want to. But I went anyway. We went down. Within two hours, maybe two and a half, from like 10:30 or 11:00 in the morning until — by 2:30 in the afternoon I knew that I was on my way to Las Vegas, which I didn't even know what it was; I had never heard of it. So what did you have to do? Nothing. We just stood. I had on a dress. I have a picture of it. That's why I can remember because they took a picture of the winners. We went to the bottom room of the Shamrock where my mother 1 played duplicate bridge. The Shamrock Hotel was very famous. Glen McCarthy built the Shamrock Hotel. Glen McCarthy was a wildcatter, an oilman. He was the model for Jett Rink in [the movie] "Giant." That's the story of Glen McCarthy. So when you see that movie, that's a little bit fiction. Like the big opening of the hotel in the movie where he got so drunk and couldn't talk, well, there's just reams and reams of coverage because that was just a wild mob scene in Houston. All the famous oilmen went to that party. So the Shamrock was a really big thing. So now, tell me just a bit more. Once you stood there — Right. We went in and we must have written our names down. I did see the application yesterday in the file, not mine, but I saw the other girls in Dallas. So there must have been 25—not that many girls. We just sort of sat around and waited and got up in small groups and turned around, smiled, sat back down and did it again. And everyone fussed and did makeup. We were all nervous. I didn't like it at all. I see now after 50 years that really, it was my mother who wanted to come. And, of course, she was a wonderful dancer and a musician. So I think because she couldn't go, she sent me because I had refused to go to college. I hated school. I didn't want to work. I was very spoiled. So they didn't know what to do with me. Were you an only child? No. I was the oldest of four children. I was just spoiled and lazy. So that's how she just said, "Come on; you're going to do this." So how many people were from Houston that actually came to Las Vegas? On that contest three of us came. We had a six week contract, round-trip ticket on Continental. I mean $175 was a fortune. This is 1958. A week. That's what they were going to pay you? Yes. It was a six week contract for $175. And we got half of that for the two weeks of rehearsal. But they put us up at a motel across the street from the Sands at the San Souci. And we were there several days until I guess Mr.[Al] Freeman found us an apartment, which was way up the Strip across from the Sahara. It was a garage apartment on San Francisco Street, which looked directly out to the mountains and you could see straight out. I just loved the mountains. Although I had been 2 to Colorado, I hadn't been on an everyday basis, you know, to get up and see the mountains all around. Did you have a roommate? I did. I roomed with the girls from Houston. I became really close to one of the girls. We wrote and were friends for a long, long time. Can you share her name? Her name was Kathy Martin. Once you were here, you had to rehearse for two weeks. Tell me what that was like. Well, it was quite an experience. I had had some dancing, several years of ballet. And I loved to dance. But maybe I don't pay attention well. I had a very hard time learning the routine in this respect because our choreographer seemed to me like she changed her mind a lot, a lot. And so we would have something for 15, 20 minutes and then she would change it. Because I was looking around the room and seeing the girls and trying to talk to them and everything was so new and, oh my god, I was so excited every day, I just couldn't concentrate. And I was worried all the time because I was the tallest girl and I was in the center. So I wouldn't be able to follow anybody. So I knew I had to learn the dance. So we did. And it was a lot of fun. I loved it. We even had to sing. And I couldn't sing for anything. It was terrible. But it was fun. There was a song "Give me a little kiss, won't you, huh?" Something like that. That was the number. Oh, gosh, we had a darling costume. Once we started I just loved every second of it. So tell me about opening night. Oh my god, it was wonderful. We opened with Jerry Lewis. Now, Jerry Lewis was so huge at the time. To think that I would be anywhere near Jerry Lewis was just -- and the first two weeks in rehearsal, why I got to see Marguerite Piazza and Louis Armstrong at the Sands. I mean I was just dazed. I was dumbstruck every single day. Opening night was thrilling, standing backstage and waiting. In fact, I have written about it and I have a scene of it. I know it was just heart pounding. Tell me about the costume. The costume was darling. I have pictures of it. Of course, I don't think I ever would have forgotten it, either. We had a white furry muff-like hat. We had a white bathing suit type costume that was 3 beautiful with rhinestones all the way down the front and around the neck. On the back we had the furry little tails, white tails, and fur around the bottom I think around our legs a little bit or right in front I think. Then we wore rhinestone necklaces and big rhinestone earrings. Well, it was something I could've worn right on a high school stage. It was very proper. Of course, when we won the contest, I remember Mr. Evans kept assuring my mother that at the Sands there were only the nicest costumes, which flew right over my head. For years I never realized why he made such a big to-do over it. Well, of course, Mr. [Jack] Entratter was in a big struggle to keep nudity out of Las Vegas at the time. It was almost as if on the Sands' side of the Strip, they didn't have that many hotels except for the Tropicana down on the end with the Folies; but all the hotels on the other side — of course, that was the Stardust, the El Rancho — they were going with the fan dancers and the striptease dancers. They weren't strippers then. They were striptease dancers. But I wouldn't appreciate that until like three or four years later when I finally got the picture because every costume that we had — all the costumes were just lovely. My grandmother would have thought they were wonderful, nothing risque. So tell me about dancing on stage that night, that first night. And how many numbers did you do? Well, we only did the one. We had the one number. We had two shows, 8 p.m. and 12 midnight. And I think the 12 o'clock show might have cost the customer five dollars. I'm not sure. And I think with that you got two drinks with your five dollar ticket to see Jerry Lewis. But I was just dazzled because you danced one foot away from the customer. All of the audience was right around you. You could reach out and touch them or you could fall into their plate if you weren't careful. So you had eye contact just right there. You couldn't help but just light up and feel like a million dollars. Of course, they were all having drinks. Everyone was having fun. I just couldn't wait till the second show. I couldn't wait till the next show. I loved every second on stage. So what did you say to your mom? Well, my mom came out for opening night. She flew out. I was scared of my mother. And she had said, you know, you'll be treated like a lady if you act like a a lady. Well, I was really pretty wild, but I managed to cover it up pretty much. I mean I felt wild compared to what I thought mother wanted. 4 My dad was vice president of an oil company. When I say I was spoiled : this was 1958 and I was driving a '56 Chevrolet convertible along with the other spoiled girls at my high school. I was pretty rotten. My folks came straight from Oklahoma. They had worked hard. They're farm people, oilfield people. And they didn't know what they had done to get me, you know. So coming out to Las Vegas, it wasn't like work. It was too much fun. And I was free. That was the big thing. Free. I didn't have to do the dishes. I didn't have to take my sisters to go grocery shopping. All day long I ran to the store for mother. I mean it wasn't hard, it was just kind of a pain in the butt. And I couldn't go anywhere in my fancy convertible without taking my sisters. I can remember the drive from the airport that first day we got here and thinking, oh my god, mother's not here. I'm here. We got into the San Souci motel, why I wanted to jump on the beds I was so excited. And Mr. Freeman said, you know, be over to the Garden Room in an hour to meet Mr. Entratter. And I remember thinking I don't have to do anything for an hour, nothing. So anyway, I had two full weeks of absolute crazy freedom. And then mother came out. Of course, she didn't even want to be around me. She got to go watch Mr. Lewis rehearse. So she sat in the Copa Room all afternoon for two days watching him rehearse. And she said he was the ultimate professional; that he knew his music. Mother taught piano lessons when she was like ten in the oilfields in Oklahoma. She played for churches. She sang. She played piano for the high school singing coach. She was just a really talented person. So she loved it. And you were living her dream for her, I was living her dream. I had been quite a disappointment to her and continued to disappoint her. I still feel quite a burden even though she's been gone. Tell me what happened to your car. Oh, my sister got it; my next sister got it. So back to your mother. Your mother was here for the — She came and she helped me get my makeup. And she bought me cocktail dresses because everything was so dressy. I mean you didn't go into the hotel unless you wore a cocktail dress. So mother bought me just really cute cocktail dresses. Of course, I look back. Well, she wanted to wear them. And she did. I mean when she and dad would get dressed up to go to the Shamrock, she looked like Gene Tierney or a movie star. So, yeah, she just got my makeup and we had a grand 5 time. So tell me about the makeup that you had to use now as a showgirl. Oh god, I loved the makeup. Oh, my god. I mean you had this makeup—I’d never seen it before. I struggled. I had to put on false eyelashes. Why I had never seen the likes of it before. So we had to buy pancake makeup, which just covered up every pimple I had on my face. I mean you had eyeliner, which 1 had never used. My mother wouldn't even let me wear lipstick till I was in the ninth grade. I didn't even get a bra until I was like size 36C. Her bras wouldn't even fit me by the time she got me a bra. Mother was so strict. It's the truth. I was probably eighth or ninth grade. I was really big busted. Okay. Well, anyway, that's how I was raised. So the makeup; we had a lipstick brush. Well, I had never seen a lipstick brush. Who taught you how to use all of this? Well, just the girls in the line. My girlfriend Kathy, she knew more. She wore makeup. Like even our first pictures here I look back and I see, oh, she was already wearing eyeliner with the little black flip like Sophia Loren. So I had all that to learn. It took me quite awhile. And then you had your rouge and the Revlon Fire and Ice fiery red lipstick and lip gloss. Oh, it was heavenly, absolutely heavenly. And what was backstage like? Well, I loved backstage. Of course, that was all busy. And I didn't know anything about backstage until really the first night. But in the dressing room, oh my god, that was heaven because I heard more cuss words. I loved it. I sat there listening to crap I had never. Now, don't think I had never heard. My Grandma Lee could cuss with the very best. And my mother had a pretty good vocabulary. But these were really—I didn't know what they were talking about. So you had all of that wonderful color. And they're fussing and fighting and "Get the fuck out of my face." I'm like, oh, my god. I'm just sitting there, loving it really. They were hilarious. And you know why I loved it so? I loved the girls. They were so good to me. They were just wonderful. I loved them. Gloria and Arlene and their stories...Gloria had a slumber party for us. Now, these were some of the girls who were here before? In the line. This was September 1958. And to hear their stories, because I had three younger sisters, it was like I just moved into another group. But now I had my own space in the bathroom except I 6 had my own little two feet wide dressing table. I didn't have to jockey in the bathroom with my sisters anymore. And, you know, I had all this important makeup. And you had to put your hose on right. The hose were cut funny, which I couldn't even describe to this day. Your hose were cut in two pieces, your mesh hose. Okay. When you put on your mesh hose, you put on two separate pieces. They were pantyhose, but the seamstress cut them in a way and made them that you pulled on two separate pieces so you didn't have any baggy gap in your crotch. Each leg was separate? Each leg was separate. So one leg came up and you had—it was around—believe me, I did it for a year and a half and I still don't remember how they cut the hose. And then you have your G-string. Well, a G-string was the most shocking thing. I mean this is '58. I guess we had Brigitte Bardot in a bikini. But a G-string—oh my god. I mean I was just dumbfounded. So you had the G-string. Then you put on your two hose. Then your costume. It was just glorious. It was wonderful to sit there putting on all your makeup and listening to everyone talk and all the fussing and fighting and laughing and singing and joking and kind of getting to know each girl a little bit by their stories because they didn't want to talk to me. I mean they were nice to me, but I was just the kid to sort of take care of. You know, they weren't going to reveal any secrets. So I had to pick up everything while I was it sitting there. So it was wonderful. I loved them. I had my 18th birthday about a week and a half after the show opened. They had a birthday card for me. I still have it. And they bought me like a little kind of coverall or something. It was red and white striped. It was just like a little coatdress to wear to put your makeup on because I had probably been wearing a towel or a shirt or something like that. So they got me something to run around in the dressing room in and, I don't know, a couple of other little things. I was just thrilled that they would do that. Of course, I know now that they did it for everyone. But I don't know. That's just the way it was back then. Now, you were among the new girls. Right. How many girls were there already when you arrived? 7 Well, there must have been maybe nine and we were three new girls. Two of the girls were from Dallas. They were the girls from Texas. See, Jake Freedman was one of the first owners of the Sands from Galveston, Texas. He had the Emerald Room, which is still there and they're still trying to make something out of it. It was a real classy nightclub and it was the place to go. But he was sort of a businessman, maybe with some underworld ties or something. But he bought the original land — I've just found this out — for the Sands in the investment. He died before I got there, but that was the connection, the Texas connection; the Texas Copa girls. It was because of Jake Freedman. So as an advertisement they would run the contest and try and bring girls out. So how many years are we talking about that this contest continued? I don’t think too many years. Maybe four years. Something like that. I'm not really sure. Now, are you also using the name of another man, Freeman? Mr. A1 Freeman was the publicity director for the Sands. I never really understood his job until yesterday. Tell me about it. Well, just yesterday I found in the archives a hundred letters from people all over the United States. They were [from] businessmen or the chambers of commerce. Would the Sands donate three days to the winner of a raffle? That's what he did. He managed all of these groups. It was his job to publicize and to reach out and to do all of these publicity gamering events. So over and over I see these letters to Al. And, of course, that's what Mr. Carl Cohen did, also. He was like vice president. Really he ran the casino and also these people coming through there, the big gamblers, the big-time gamblers. But, also, here you have these letterheads from companies all over the United States, you know Inland Steel. I'm just making up things. And that's what they did. Now, tell me about Jack Entratter. Well, he was my boss and he was always Mr. Entratter to me. The other girls called him Jack. All of the people were Mr. Entratter to me, Mr. Cohen. I called Al Freeman Al and I called Harold Dubrow, the stage manager, Harold. I could call him Harold. But I wasn’t comfortable with any of the other people. Mr. Entratter was — when you saw him you knew he was the boss. He was the boss. 8 Why do you say that? Because he just had that air. He was tall. He was handsome. He was imposing to look at. He was just in charge. The minute he walked into the Garden Room, the first time I met him, here was a man in charge. And I recognize it; see, my dad was an executive. And we grew up going to Christmas parties at Dad's boss' house. So this was a boss, no doubt about it and that's how I placed him, in that context. He was funny, but he was always looking around the room, looking for spots on the floor or what waitress or waiter wasn't doing right. He never rested. That's how I remember him. He actually had a big part in my life. He was the one that—I fell and broke my wrist and had to go home.— in rehearsal for the Nat King Cole show. And we were on wooden circus balls. Four of us were (yeah, there's pictures. I've got them right here.) What is a wooden circus ball? It's the wooden ball you see in a circus. The girls come rolling in on the balls. Well, that's what we were on this little, bitty stage. So I fell off of it. That's a long story. But anyway, so I had to go home. And Mr. Entratter said I could not come back until I had my college degree. Yeah. And that's sort of a funny story, too, which I've written about. But one night I was in the lounge. I've turned 18. And Frank Sinatra was there;he was sitting in the lounge. And one of the girls stood up and said, "Here, Judy, sit here." So I sat down with Mr. Sinatra right there just like you and I. He was at the head of the table. He was very risque. And I was scared to death. I mean everything just stopped when he was there. So he gives me this real sexy look. And he looks at me and he said, "Well, honey, when you've got a bod like that, you ought to pass it around as often as you can." Now, I am not a fast talking person. If it had been my sister, she would have cut him off dead, or my mother. I just sat there and looked at him. And then he looked at me just like you and me. And he had the bluest eyes. And he looked at me and he said, "How old are you?" I said, "I'm 18." And he looked up at Mr. Entratter, who was standing right next to him, and he said, "Hey, Jack, she needs to be in college. She's the same age as my daughter." And so that's about all we said. That was my extent. And he sat there and talked to other people. And, finally, I guess I got up and left for the second show. But that was the only time I came closer than a couple of yards or whatever. That was our conversation, which you can see you would never forget in your lifetime, never. And so I don't 9 know if that had something to do with Mr. Entratter. Of course, he knew my mother and my family. Now, did he know your family prior? No, he met my mother and I'm sure got the right idea from my mother of what she expected. But the thing was everyone was—I know this was naive—but everyone was nice. No one hit on me unless I encouraged it. I don't know. It was just different, maybe. I don't know. How long were you here when you broke your wrist? Our show with Jerry Lewis opened on September 3rd and I was home a little bit before Thanksgiving. Was Jerry Lewis the only person that you danced behind? Oh, no. No. Who else did you dance with? Oh, Sammy, Judy Garland, Dean Martin — oh, I can't think of them right now. I have a list, but right now I can't think of it. Did you have different numbers every time the act would change? No. We had the same number the entire — we were rehearsing for a new number when I fell. And that was supposed to be the Nat King Cole show. So I missed out on that. So tell me what happened when you left here. Well, I went back and my dad pulled every string in the world and got me into a little college in Edmond, Oklahoma, where my family had ties. I grew up going to Edmond because my mother's parents lived there. So I went to college the first semester kicking and screaming, kicking and screaming. People went to college because they wanted to get married as far as I was concerned. All the girls were going to college to get married. Well, I knew I would never ever get married. It was disgusting. And I didn't like school. So why should I go to college? You see how awful [I was]. What were my parents to do with me? But I got to college. And, of course, I loved it. I loved it because the first day I got there I was in drama rehearsal for "The Taming of the Shrew." And my grandparents lived an hour away. I mean I grew up in Oklahoma. We didn't go to Texas until 1950. That was really where my heart was, was there. My dad's folks lived on a farm and I loved the farm. And my dad had graduated from this college. So I had a lot of ties there. I loved the school and I loved the drama program. 10 And I took art. College wasn't anything like I thought; you could walk around. It was entirely different. So you had that freedom again. I had the freedom again. Of course, by now I got there and I was a Las Vegas showgirl. So right away I'm in the Oklahoma City newspaper. So I was sort of freakish for the first month. But then that was gone because I was in the drama department and we just did wonderful plays. And I loved it. And then when I went back to Houston after the semester was over, a friend of my dad's had been calling. He was a wonderful person. He had The Typewriter Store in Houston in the village. I can't recall his name, [but] he loved drama and he wrote this screenplay and story for "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," that movie. I mean he had adapted it. Anyway, he kept calling mom and dad and asking had I entered the Miss Houston contest? So I said no. I was fat by that time. I had gained ten pounds. I was not a beauty contest kind of person. I just wasn't. I don't know. SotheJCs started calling me and saying, you know, please come, just come to the parties. So that was like, oh, good, come to the parties. So I went to the parties and liked the people. It was fun. And I won. I won the contest. I'm saying this because I stayed in Houston then and went to University of Houston instead of going back because that year I would have all these kinds of obligations as Miss Houston. So then I switched and I went to University of Houston and graduated from there. Still staying in drama? No, I switched. I was very serious. I switched to political science with a minor in drama, get you. So I was always in rehearsal. But I wanted to find out what was going on in the world. Our family was very political. I found myself at complete odds from early 50s on with my father. For some reason I just had a different take on the world. So we were always arguing politics. But did he enjoy that, though? No. He called me his little Communist... We watched the McCarthy trials on TV. And I kept saying, "Well, this is terrible." Well, what did I even know? But he's like, "We have to get these Communists." And I'd say, "Well, why are you so afraid of them, dad?" So what caused that I don't know. So we just argued politics always, Dad and I. He was this real diehard Republican. 11 So tell me a little more about your parents because they sound so interesting. Oh god, they were. So how did your father grow up? He grew up just poverty stricken on a farm. They had nothing. And what kind of farmer are we talking about? Well, my paw-paw bought and sold cattle. He was a cowboy. He got on his horse with some other men and rode out to New Mexico to round up wild horses. He rolled his own cigarettes. He looked just like (the actor) Joel McCrea kind of, real good-looking and everything and quiet and sweet and dear. They had hogs and chickens. And grandma did everything. She wallpapered. She had her milk money. They milked cows and sold milk, we delivered milk when we went to the farm, and eggs, milk and eggs. We begged him, "Please can we go?" Of course, he didn't want us tagging along because he was afraid we would drop the milk. We would get to once a visit or twice a visit. So that's how my dad grew up. Grandma was determined that he would go to college. He got some basketball scholarships. He had to drop out once because they could not come up with the $15 for the books and tuition. They had no cash. Those were [hard] times for the whole nation. It wasn't just them. So he grew up doing all sorts of odd jobs and knew he had to go to college. He finally graduated from Central State in Edmond. It took him a long, hard time. And my mother grew up: her dad worked for Shell Oil and they moved. She probably went to 20, 30 schools before she graduated high school. So she grew up rough, but she said they always thought they were just rich as could be because they had a house and a place to live. My grandpa always had a paycheck, which was a really big deal. She said when she met Dad, she remembered she was just shocked because for Christmas they didn't even have a tree. They never had a tree on the farm. And they would have one orange for their Christmas present. And that was a big thing, though, to have an orange. Where did you get an orange from? It was like magic. She grew up with a lot of music. Her dad was a guitar player. He was German and they all had to learn. She learned the piano and her sister the violin. They all sang. She had a beautiful voice, and her brother. But you didn't get that voice? Oh, lord. God no. Jeez. Oh, it's just a disgrace. How did your parents meet? 12 They met at the little school that my dad was from, Tryon. Mother went to school there and she was like 12 or 13 when they met. And she could never date anyone but my dad, because her uncles wouldn't let her. They knew he was a good person. So she said it had t